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Archive for January, 2007

January 31st 2007

Odd Twist To Iran Arms Smuggling Story

It’s hard to imagine how an American — not an American named Mohammed, but one named Robert — could be so scummy as to try to smuggle batteries for Hawk anti-aircraft missile into Iran. Did he think, even for a moment, that those Hawks could be used against our fighters one day?

But that’s hardly the strangest part of the story. First the story:

A US man has been charged with attempting to smuggle anti-aircraft missile parts to Iran through Britain and the Netherlands, court documents showed.

Robert Caldwell of Oregon is accused of acting as the US agent of a British company which tried to smuggle batteries used to power Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, a criminal complaint said.

The company was in the process of ordering 35 batteries at a cost of 5,000 dollars each from an exporter who was working as an informant for customs officials. The aim was to ship them through Amsterdam and Britain in order to avoid detection.

Caldwell was arrested in a sting in San Antonio last week before the batteries could be shipped out of the United States. The complaint indicated Brooklands Freight Services had been smuggling arms to the Middle East for some time. (Source)

Now to the odd. Brooklands does more than smuggle arms — it also helps missionaries with their international moves through its Teachers Freight Service:

International Teachers’ Freight Service (I.T.F.S) was established to help teachers and missionaries move from one country to another with as few logistical problems as possible. I.T.F.S was formed in a partnership between Brooklands International Freight, Mission Supplies, and, all experts in their field. Brooklands International have many years of experience in the freight forwarding industry, Mission Supplies deal with supplying overseas aid organisations and missionaries.

Maybe it’s more than just making a buck any way they can? Maybe it’s more.

Maybe they’re balancing out helping Islamism with helping out Christianity.

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January 31st 2007

Talking With Iran

My visting ex-diplomat stepdad and I were talking last night on the way to our favorite local Vietnamese restaurant. He was lamenting the Bush administration’s failure to launch diplomatic initiatives towards our enemies.

“This is the only administration that doesn’t talk to its enemies,” he said.

Yes, but I’ve always agreed with Bush’s decision to take a strong public stand against the terror-sponsoring states of the Middle East by extending the longstanding “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” policy to a higher level. (Of course North Korea does get talked to. My stepdad attributed the negotiations to the departure of “no talk hawks” like John Bolton. But of course, those talks started while the hawks were still in. I think we’re talking to NoKo because we were able to bring all the major regional parties to the table. Who would we bring to Tehran? The Saudis? Not a chance!)

But still, I agree with him that talks with Tehran and Damascus are worth a try, as long as we go into them with it clear that diplomacy has barely risen above the gag reflex, and that we don’t define diplomacy as “giving away the store,” as Jimmy Carter did.

Then, this morning while scanning Real Clear Politics, I came across this by Amir Taheri in the NYPost:

IS the Khomeinist leadership preparing to retreat from confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions?

Until recently, the answer was an emphatic “No.” According to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, such retreat would limit Islamic sovereignty by giving the United Nations a veto on Iran’s energy policy.

But now Tehran is trying to forestall the passage of a second, and presumably tougher, resolution by the Security Council in March.

Several versions of the presumed Iranian initiative are in circulation. Former President Muhammad Khatami presented one to American and European personalities on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

Taheri’s careful selection of the word “personalities” is interesting. I take it to mean John Kerry, a man whose Carteresque softness the mullahs must find appealing. Of course it could be anyone; what’s important that it was someone.

Let’s continue to pass notes. I liked Bush’s in-your-face refusal to deal with Tehran, but now that the evidence is mounting up of its active involvement in the killing of our troops in Iraq, it’s time for icy cold diplomatic confrontation, backed by military might and political will.

With the changes in Washington, there’s no telling how long the military might and political will are going to last, so it’s time to engage. Pass a few more notes, then sit down and yell at each other for a while with diplomatic faux-civility.

Maybe it will save the lives of some of our soldiers who are being killed by Iranian-supplied IEDs.

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January 31st 2007

Stoning Ban "Sets Back Race Relations"

The little town of Herouxville, Quebec has it right: Immigrants are welcome and will be treated well there, but they need to follow Canadian traditions and leave certain traditions Canadians find reprehensible behind, according to a recent town council declaration led by this guy, councilmember Andre Drouin.

What sort of traditions might those be? The Herouxville Web site is slammed and down because of this story, but Reuters got in early and found this:

“We wish to inform these new arrivals that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here,” said the declaration, which makes clear women are allowed to drive, vote, dance, write checks, dress how they want, work and own property.

“Therefore we consider it completely outside these norms to … kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them etc.”

Seems reasonable enough, since murder, attempted murder and mutilation are all what we in the West call crimes. Who could possibly be upset?

Well, his name is Salam Elmenyawi, and he’s the president of the Muslim Council of Montreal. He thinks Herouxville has “set the [race relations] clock back for decades.”

Elmenyawi isn’t calling the declaration an infringement of Muslim “rights” to stone, burn and mutilate; rather, he asserts that it’s a “false stereotype” that is the result of ignorance about Islam.

The last time I checked the stats, Muslims were way ahead of Christians, Jews — even Wiccas — when it came to the “honor killing” of women. (Previous posts on honor killing here, here, here.) Such crimes happen in Hindu and some African animist cultures as well, but Islam is the global Beckham in this field, with all other cultures sitting on the AYSO bench.

Judeo-Christian cultures — places like Quebec, for example — are particularly under-represented in the stoning, burning and mutilating set. When our daughters get pregnant, we give them warmth through counseling and comfort. In Muslim villages, they get warmth through kerosene and a match.

Herouxville, described as a traditional town dominated by a Roman Catholic church, is behaving much more straightforwardly than the rest of secular Canada. A couple passages from the Reuters report (which, by the way, was dumped in its “Oddly Enough” section):

The declaration is part of a wider debate over “reasonable accommodation,” or how far Quebecers should be prepared to change their customs so as not to offend immigrants. Figures from the 2001 census show that around 10 percent of Quebec’s 7.5 million population were born outside Canada. …

Newspapers say a Montreal community center banned men from prenatal classes to respect Hindu and Sikh traditions and an internal police magazine suggested women police officers allow their male colleagues to interview Hasidic Jews.

Herouxville’s law seems to reasonably accommodate immigrants. It doesn’t tell anyone what to do, it just says what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. Because it’s OK with Herouxville for women to drive cars or not cover their face, if Papa’s upset that the wife and daughter have decided not to live in the 12th century any more, he must find a way to deal with it that doesn’t involve stones, kerosene or sharp knives. If he can’t and goes all Islamic on his family, he can expect a swift and chilly reception from Herouxville’s finest.

There. You’re accommodated. Deal with it.

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January 30th 2007

Warmie Doc: "Offer Up Scary Scenarios"

Tim Blair tunes us in to a 1996 quote in which Stanford warmie hawk Stephen Schneider explains the science behind global warming:

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage.

So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. (source)

Did he get bashed down for that by his scientific peers? No way — here’s a quote from five years later:

“Is the ‘scientific advocate’ an oxymoron?” asked climate scientist Stephen Schneider at a May 4 “Ethics at Noon” seminar. “Twenty years ago, the answer would have been a resounding ‘yes.’ ” Now, he says, there is more tolerance — but only up to a point. …

“Being an advocate is not cost free,” Schneider said. “Many members of the political world assume that you are doing what they do: deliberately suppressing countervailing evidence. The world will assume that what you say colors the fact side of the argument: the very scientific work you do.”

You betcha … but remember, the global warming debate is over. We know this is true because objective, serious white-coat guys like Schneider have told us so.

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January 30th 2007

Quote Of The Day: Pariah Edition

“It was terrible for him to say that. They had earthquakes – we helped. They had floods – we helped. They had disease – we helped. They were threatened – we left the safety of our homes to defend them. I didn’t see any of them in New Orleans.”
– Duncan Hunter

It appears that John Kerry just can’t go six months without irritating most of America — most recently with his statement at Davos that the U.S. has become an international pariah nation.

It’s really too bad he decided not to run in 2008. He is such a boon to the GOP — especially when you consider what his staff told AP in response to Hunter’s comment:

A spokesman for Kerry said Hunter is out of touch with Americans who desperately want their country to regain the respect of the world.

Is that what we desperately want? Not safety and security? Not just to be left alone? Not continuing to be the global good guys we are, always ready to lend a hand when we’re called on?

No, John tells us. What we as Americans want is to be able to ensure that John Kerry and his ilk will receive a warm reception whenever they jet over to Europe to chummy up with the caviar and bidet set.

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January 30th 2007

Wake Up And Smell The Cordite, Islam

Those are volunteers in the photo, picking up body parts after Muhammad Faisal Saksak blew himself up in front of an Eilat bakery on Monday. Consider their task as you consider this head-scratcher from the religion of peace:

The mother of Muhammad Faisal Saksak, the 21-year-old suicide bomber who carried out Monday’s attack in Eilat, said she was aware of her son’s plan to blow himself up and that she had wished him “good luck.”

Good luck? What does that mean?

“Good luck. Hope to see you soon?” Nope. “Good luck. Say hi to your sister?” Don’t think so. Mrs. Saksak was wishing: “Good luck. I hope you kill a lot of Zionists pigs.”

She should have been wishing, “Good luck that there really is a God so sick that he would consider you deliberately killing innocents to be a good thing, and that this sick God will let you into a virgin-filled heaven.”

Good luck!?

When an American mom sends her son off to battle, she also wishes him good luck. Her wish is that God will keep him safe, and that he will return home, a healthy man ready to give her grandchildren and take care of her in her old age. She wishes that he will be able to help many more people than he has to kill, and she wishes that his service will help bring about peace.

According to JPost, Mrs. Saksak also wished for peace … sort of:

“I pray to Allah that Muhammad will be accepted as a shaheed [martyr],” she said shortly after hearing about the Eilat bombing. “I hope that his martyrdom will deliver a message to the Fatah and Hamas fighters to stop the fighting and direct their weapons against the one and only enemy – Israel.”

Well, I hope that his martyrdom does no such thing. May he rot in Hell, and may Fatah and Hamas keep killing each other so they rot in Hell too. And please, may this perverted Islamic religion of hate and death get a message that forced conversion by the sword has been out of vogue for quite a few centuries now.

Wake up and smell the cordite. Time to change.

Hat-tip: memeorandum
Photo: NYT
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January 30th 2007

Wrenching Defeat From Victory

Iraqi and US forces killed 250 Soldiers of Heaven Shia militia over the weekend and what’s the NYTimes got to say about it?

Iraqi forces were surprised and nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity of an obscure renegade militia in a weekend battle near the holy city of Najaf and needed far more help from American forces than previously disclosed, American and Iraqi officials said Monday.

They said American ground troops — and not just air support as reported Sunday — were mobilized to help the Iraqi soldiers, who appeared to have dangerously underestimated the strength of the militia, which calls itself the Soldiers of Heaven and had amassed hundreds of heavily armed fighters. …

“This group had more capabilities than the government,” said Abdul Hussein Abtan, the deputy governor of Najaf Province, at a news conference.

Who knows what Abtan’s perspective is. Was he upset be what was basically Shia fighting Shia (the Soldiers of Heaven is largely Shia)? Is he a Soldiers of Heaven supporter? We just don’t know and the NYT isn’t asking or isn’t giving it up. It may be that the report was filed in Baghdad, not Najaf, so the reporter just doesn’t want to get close enough to find out.

Still, the question of Iraqi readiness is a valid one and needs to be asked continuously by military commanders, Congress and, yes, the media.

But is this a story question of military preparedness, or just one about an all-too-routine intelligence shortfall that led to a requirement for more forces?

The real story appears to be emphatically the later — even NYT says the Iraqi forces were “surprised,” indicating their intelligence led them to plan for a different battle. When intelligence fails you in battle, there are two options: win or lose. Always the same two options.

In this case, the Iraqi army won, leaving the Soldiers of Heaven with a couple suicide bombers and a couple dozen Shia killed, not a total, frontal assault as they planned.

Mr. Abtan said the Iraqi forces later decided to move on the group because an informer said Sunday was “zero hour” and the government noticed more men streaming into the area.

“If this operation had succeeded, it would have been a chance of a lifetime for them,” he said.

The Iraqis initially sent a battalion from their Eighth Army Division, along with police forces, but they were quickly overwhelmed, according to an Iraqi commander at the scene. The battalion began to retreat but was soon surrounded and pinned down, and had to call in American air support to keep the enemy from overrunning its position.

This should be a case history for doing it right: Iraqis in the lead, taking the initiative, holding their position, calling for US support and swiftly getting it because we’re not redeployed somewhere in Murtastan.

Instead, the NYT finds fault. Legit questions for sure, but legit focus? Not at all.

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January 30th 2007

Nuancing The Poor Man To Death

Juan Williams was my late-night entertainment last night, talking away on NPR as I drove home. He and the host were going over Williams’ interview with the president trying desperately to find a nuance that could be cracked open into an indication that Bush was ready to invade Iran.

It was slim pickings.

As all of you must know by now, Bush specifically said he has no plan or intent to invade Iran, then even addressed the question of questioning in a response to Williams:

“This is the kind of thing that happens in Washington. People ascribe, you know, motives to me beyond a simple statement — ‘Of course we’ll protect our troops.’ I don’t know how anybody can then say, ‘Well, protecting the troops means that we’re going to invade Iran.’”

Even with that, the host still drew Williams’ attention to the “protecting our troops” phrase, the phrase the president had directly stripped of double meaning, and said, “But when he says ‘protecting the trooops,’ doesn’t that open the door?”

This is not news analysis; it is the attempted generation of Bush hysteria.

The premise of Bush’s intent with Iran is quite simple: They are supplying our enemy and are directly and indirectly involved in killing our troops. So we are not going to be like Michael Dukakis Dems, so confused by policies and politics that the bad guys can rape and kill their hypothetical Kitty and they stand by, unengaged in reality.

It’s like this, Dukakisites: Kill us, we kill you.

Now if the premise were “invade us,” the conclusion would certainly be “we invade you,” but we’re starting with “kill,” not “invade.” (I’m making this simple enough for NPR hosts to understand.) “Kill” allows lots of options: Killing Iranians in Iraq. Natch; is there a problem? Maybe even bombing an IED plant in Iran, or a shipment of IEDs on an Iranian highway. Maybe blowing up a bridge on the Iranian side of the Iran/Iraq border. Gosh, we might even go to the UN.

What NPR and its ilk is up to is also simple enough for even an NPR host to understand. If they believe from the pile of tea leaves they swear is evidence that Bush intends to take away our freedoms, knew about 9/11, is fighting in Iran so his oil buddies get rich, is under the control of Dick Cheney and finally, that he still practices Skull and Bones rituals in the basement of the White House, why then of course he’s going to invade Iran. That was his plan all along; he’s just been waiting until the right moment, until invading another mideast country would seal the win in 2008 for the GOP.

That would be his win, you know, not some other GOP guy, because of course he never intended to step down after eight years anyway, you know.

Aren’t you just thrilled your tax dollars support NPR in its mission to inform the American public without favor or bias?

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January 29th 2007

Teaching Math: 1950 To 2007

If you fear for your life everytime you give the fast food register clerk $10.27 for a $5.27 purchase and see her frustration soar, perhaps this bit of explanation will help you understand:

Teaching Math in 1950:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1960:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100 His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?
Teaching Math in 1980:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 1990:

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math in 2007:

Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

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January 29th 2007

The World’s Dumbest Terrorist?

Wesam Al-Delaema, an Iraq-born Dutch citizen, has been extradited to the US, where he will stand trial for attempting to kill US forces in Fallujah in 2003. Fortunately, he won’t have to defend himself against charges that he just might be the world’s dumbest terrorist.

The case against Al-Delaema is not dissimilar to cases where rapists, vandalizers and other social dregs videotape their crimes — then seem shocked that the tapes are being used to convict them of their crimes. Here’s the AP report:

Al-Delaema traveled to Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion. Evidence against him includes a videotape he filmed of a group called “Warriors of Fallujah” preparing a roadside bomb, which was widely shown on Arabic TV stations. The tape was seized by police who raided al-Delaema’s house in the Dutch city of Amersfoort in May 2005 following a tip from U.S. authorities.

When arrested, Al-Delaema responded pretty much like a carjacker shouting “It wasn’t me, man!” from behind the wheel when caught in the act:

In extradition hearings in the Netherlands, al-Delaema argued that he was forced to make the video after being kidnapped and beaten. He said he feared being beheaded if he resisted.

Uh-huh. Then why did he tell Dutch TV:

“The Americans and British are coming to our country to steal oil and everyone knows it. I don’t care if I myself die or not. I want to offer myself up for my land, for my people.”

Sounds like he was more into beheading than he was afraid of being beheaded. His family dismissed the interview as a joke. They probably thought 9/11 was pretty darn funny too.

Welcome to America, al-Dalaema. You may not have heard, but it’s the land of the free and the home of the brave. Hope you enjoy your stay. Be sure to visit our prison system while you’re here to get a good dose of Yankee hospitality.

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With Obama winning the presidency by seven percent, we can't blame the media. Their laudatory coverage and refusal to extensively probe into Obama's background and [lack of] experience was at best responsible for five percent of his vote, the pundits tell us. Here is a compilation of over 100 significant instances of pro-Obama/anti-McCain bias during the 2008 campaign.

For all 'Media Bias 2008' – Click Here

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