Tuesday, May 31, 2005


As it turns out approximately equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans have failed to report travel paid for by special interest groups:
Republican and Democratic House members were nearly equal rules violators in failing to disclose their personal trips within 30 days after the trip's completion. There were 23 GOP members, 19 Democrats and one independent, all of them months or years late in their reporting to the House public records office.

The tardiness record, however, goes to a Democrat who tried to divert attention to the Republicans:
Most of the previously undisclosed trips occurred in 2004, but some dated back to the late 1990s. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., recently disclosed 12 trips, the oldest dating back to 1997.

Stacey Bernards, a spokeswoman for Hoyer, said the office searched the files after the travel issue was raised initially by "Republicans doing opposition research to deflect from their own ethical issues."
It's the old if-they-hadn't-investigated-me-I-wouldn't-have-been-caught defence.


Lefty writer Neal Pollack describes himself:
I've always been a smart-ass. I wasn't the dorkiest guy in school, but I was the one who got picked on the most, because I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I was always slagging someone, or something.
Not surprisingly, Pollack's toddler son has a few behaviour problems:
Elijah's teacher gave us a stack of injury reports an inch thick. They were all for things Elijah had done to other kids.

"These are just this month's," she said. "And they're just the ones where he drew blood. It also doesn't include the dozens of times we've caught him just before he attacked another kid. We have to pull him off kids three or four times a day." She sighed.

"I have seven new kids coming into my class next month," she continued. "And they're little."

Regina and I looked at each other. Here came the hammer.

"I just think it'll be better for everyone," teacher said, "and that Elijah might be happier, if he went somewhere else."

There's no cataloging the feeling of helplessness that washed over Regina and me then. Our child was being expelled. From preschool. What had we done wrong? I felt terribly guilty. Though I was never a biter, my own childhood was full of intermittent emotional outbursts, fights, visits to behavioral specialists when the schools made them available, and lots of muddled weeping. This continued well into adulthood, until about a year and a half ago when I started taking a pill that shall not be named here but that helped me a lot. Elijah's struggles made me especially sad because I knew that not much could be done to soothe his turbulent little mind. The fact that he has my full sympathy and understanding will provide little solace whenever that chemical stew inside his cranium goes out of balance. Why couldn't he have inherited his mother's demeanor? She's a little bossy and self-righteous, but at least she's sane.
Naturally, Pollack and the missus are upset, but not for the reasons you'd expect of normal parents:
On the drive home, Regina and I could barely keep from weeping. Our respective families were 1,000 miles away in either direction. We were terrified at the prospect of a summer without help. The irony was that we don't have the $1,500 it would have cost to warehouse Elijah through September, so we might have had to pull him out anyway. But now we've been forced into the challenge of caring for a smart, stubborn, high-strung 2-year-old. We love him very much, but that's not the kind of work either of us wants, at least not full time.
Children are just so inconvenient for self-absorbed lefty elites. The Pollacks should give up on reasoning with Elijah and paddle him the next time he bites someone. Better yet, someone should paddle the Pollacks and tell them to start acting like responsible parents.

Monday, May 30, 2005


In an attempt to milk a few more hits off of his recent attack on Chrenkoff, Tim Dunlop posted this follow-up:
The front page of The Washingston Post this morning has a moving photograph of a Marine presenting a folded flag to a boy whose father died in Iraq. Please don't anyone tell Arthur Chrenkoff or we'll be treated to another treatise on the evils of a biased media and another modest suggestion that they should only show kitten photos.

This is the Memorial Day Weekend. Remembering the fallen is our duty as citizens. It is a particular duty of those who cheer others off to fight in wars they have no intention of joining themselves. And bad luck if that doesn't fit with anybody's "good news" agenda.
To which James Morrow commented:
"Our duty as citizens?"

Since when are you an American citizen? Nice try, trying to leverage a photo of a family's tragedy into scoring cheap debating points against a blogger.
Oops. I'll bet that's the last we'll hear of that from Dunlop.


Lefty Castro-wannabe Hugo Chavez unleashes his tongue:
President George W Bush is a “jerk”. His administration is a “mafia of assassins”. And, according to Hugo Chavez, the belligerent populist president of Venezuela, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, lies in bed at night dreaming of him.
Yeah Hugo, I'll bet Condi dreams of nailing you in the temple with an ice pick.

Anyway, the left has screamed bloody murder about John Bolton's loose language; how did they react to Chavez's outburst? Pretty much as you'd expect:
I'm liking this guy more all the time. That Condi line is hilarious.
It's just as well Chavez will never do anything important like be UN ambassador.

One more gem from the original article:
Chavez, 50, is rapidly becoming a US nightmare in Latin America. He aroused further American anger last week by threatening to form a nuclear alliance with Iran.
Will the US have enough nukes to cover all of the emerging threats? I certainly hope so. What with all the Global Warming, a bit of nuclear winter wouldn't go astray.


Reuters reports on Asia's reaction to Australia's reaction to the Corby verdict:
An editorial in Malaysia's New Straits Times expressed shock at the Australian reaction to Corby's plight.

"The public outrage has not only been astounding in its intensity but also shocking in the glimpses it has revealed of the depths of racism and xenophobia," the editorial read.

"Hurling racist slurs at the Indonesian judiciary and casting aspersions on its integrity simply because the Bali court has not endorsed the popular Australian belief ... is unacceptable."

Since Corby was sentenced, staff at the Indonesian embassy in Canberra have received threatening phone calls, some Australians have demanded the return of donations made to tsunami appeals and calls were made for Australians to boycott Bali.

Many Australians believe Corby did not receive a fair trial and are angry that the judge dismissed much of her defense.

"The impression is that Australia has collectively thrown a tantrum," Deakin University analyst Greg Barton told Reuters.

"In the last few years there has been a slide toward accepting racist outbursts and xenophobic nationalist sentiment. I think that still lingers with us and that's why I think things were so quick to blow up with the Corby case."

Australia's ties with Asia were dealt a blow a decade ago with the election of firebrand politician Pauline Hanson, who was branded xenophobic when she called for a cut in Asian immigration, striking a chord with hundreds of thousands of Australians.

Although she lost her seat after two-and-a-half years, Barton said Hanson's reign, combined with the tough immigration policies of Prime Minister John Howard's nine-year-old government, had made it acceptable for Australians to express xenophobic emotions.

"We're likely to see gossip and concern spread among the Indonesian public about what Australians think of Indonesians. It will take quite a bit of work to undo. These things do have a way of spiralling out of control," Barton said.
Hmmm, it seems to me the reaction to the reaction is an overreaction. Academic Greg Barton also overreacts because he can't pass up the opportunity to score some cheap anti-Howard points – nicely done, lumping Howard with Hanson – while confirming our northern neighbours' worst assumptions about Australians being racist Asian haters.


A group of scientists has concluded that humans did not eat Australia's megafauna into extinction:
Mr Price says the research rules out humans as the culprit for the local extinction of the megafauna.

"We've done a little bit of radiocarbon dating on the deposits itself and we know that the age of the deposits pre-dates the first humans on the Darling Downs by about 30- to 35,000 years," he said.

"We know that there's no human or cultural artefacts in the deposits as well and we know that all the cut marks on the bone themselves are related to... some of the other species that lived on the Darling Downs, such as marsupial lions."

That leaves one main culprit.

"That culprit is climate," Mr Price said. "It does appear that climate change was the major factor in driving the megafauna extinct."
This is in keeping with the notion that prior to white settlement humans in Australia lived in harmony with nature.

It is possible, however, that Australia's ancient climate was changed by human activity:
Settlers who came to Australia 50,000 years ago and set fires that burned off natural flora and fauna may have triggered a cataclysmic weather change that turned the continent's interior into the dry desert it is today, United States and Australian researchers say.

Their study, reported in the latest issue of the journal, Geology, supports arguments that early settlers literally changed the landscape of the continent with fire.
As this is a politically incorrect idea, it will be a hard sell.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


Especially dangerous are the long, sharp pointy variety:
Accident and emergency doctors today call for the banning of long, sharp kitchen knives, arguing they account for at least half of all stabbings.

They say such knives slice through clothing and penetrate vital organs.

"Many assaults are impulsive, often triggered by alcohol or misuse of other drugs, and the long, pointed kitchen knife is an easily accessible, potentially lethal weapon, particularly in the domestic setting," say the doctors from the West Middlesex university hospital, London, in the British Medical Journal.
Note to self: wait until the little woman leaves the kitchen before starting that argument.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Weaponized Ceramic Uranium Oxide Gas
Those Iraqis not yet radiologically contaminated must leave Iraq as soon as possible. Before they too get radiation poisoning, their genetic line is kaput, they die and become just so much radioactive sand in the deserts of Iraq.

The only hope of the US-UK troops in Iraq is that they get out before they take a fateful breath in the wrong place, at the wrong time. The not yet dead say there is a very slight metallic taste at the time.
It must be true, it's at Google News.

Friday, May 27, 2005


Greg Chappell, recently selected as India's national cricket coach, has teamed up with PETA to plead that Indians no longer consume eggs, meat and dairy products:
"I gave up red meat at the same time as I gave up dairy foods," Chappell said in a statement.

"I had been showing all the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Within days of giving up milk and cheese, these symptoms disappeared."

"We are the only species of animal on earth that still consumes milk products after being weaned."

"To make things worse, we do not even consume our own milk products but get them from another kind of animal.

"Dairy milk is a perfectly balanced food for calves but for nothing else. It does contain certain nutrients, but it also contains things which do us much more harm than the nutrients do us good."

The PETA release did not say if Chappell intended to convert the Indian players into vegans.

We're also the only species that eats Szechuan beef and I'm not giving that up either. I do admit, however, to feeling a twinge of guilt at drinking cow's milk. What we need is a few Pamela Anderson types that can produce like Lucy.

For those not familiar with Chappell, he will be forever famous for this.


US Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagman was killed in Afghanistan last year. His mother, Ligaya Lagman, a Filipino who has lived in the United States for over 20 years, was recently denied membership by American Gold Star Mothers Inc., because she is not a US citizen. Oddly, it was not Mrs Lagman who initiated her application for membership:
Lagman's application was initiated by Ben Spadaro, a veteran from Yonkers, who said he learned about the citizenship rules of the American Gold Star Mothers while working on a national cemetery committee of the Veterans Administration. When he learned of Anthony Lagman's death and saw Lagman was a citizen but his mother was not, he thought, "He's buried in a military cemetery, with full honors. She should be able to join."

"We decided to tell the absolute truth on the application," he said. "We put down, `I am not an American citizen.' It was a ploy to get them to reject her, and then we said they should change the rules."

But the organization's 12-member executive board voted against any change.
There's something that needs to change alright, Mrs Lagman, having lived in the US for over 20 years, should take up US citizenship if she wants to join a private group that restricts its membership to Americans.

If you follow the link, you'll see that the photo provided by the Lagman family is of a marine, not a soldier. Odd.

Also, the loons at Democratic Underground are screaming xenophobia.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Lefty Australian academic bloggers Tim Dunlop, John Quiggin and Tim Lambert have formed a circle of jerks aiming to make Chrenkoff look bad. Quiggin and Lambert hope to embarrass Chrenkoff by cherry-picking bad news items to counter the good news as presented by Chrenkoff. Tim Dunlop takes a much more direct route, launching a frontal assault on a recent Chrenkoff post. Here's the entire Dunlop post:

Dr Feelgood [Chrenkoff] has a brilliant suggestion. He notes the following report from Matt Drudge:
One year since honoring the American service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ted Koppel and ABC News "Nightline" will again pay tribute to the fallen by devoting an extended broadcast to reading the names and showing the photographs of more than 900 service members who have been killed in those countries over the last year. Entitled "The Fallen," the special "Nightline" broadcast will air Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 2005 at 11:35 p.m. ET on the ABC Television Network. ABC News Radio will air excerpts of the program.
And comes up with this response:
I've got a modest proposal to Ted Koppel and "Nightline": why don't you read one day the names and show the pictures of the 170,000 or so American servicemen and women stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan who every day are working their hardest to ensure that democracy takes root, terrorists are defeated, and these two countries have a chance to build a better future for their people.
A commenration of fallen soldiers by ignoring them. Good idea. Let's also have a show and accompanying DVD about the countries America didn't invade in March 2003. If only someone had thought of this idea earlier, we could've had an inauguration ceremony for John Kerry, you know, the guy who didn't win the election. Hallmark are gong to be thrilled: a whole new range of cards for events that didn't happen. The possibilities are endless. What about ANZAC Day? What a drag that is! Let's celebrate all the days that aren't ANZAC day. That whole fallen soldier thing is just a liberal media ploy to make us forget the good things that happened. Incidentally, tomorrow isn't my wedding anniversary so, of course, my wife and I will be having a special dinner. You're all not invited. Please send a gift.

Honestly, could there be a bigger insult to those who have died than to want to pretend that they didn't? I know Arthur says he thinks remembering the fallen is very worthy, the trouble is, he doesn't want to do it. He justifies his proposed censorship by saying that he doubts the sincerity of the media, but that's his usual bluff: they are not to be trusted, only my culling of their news stories should be. In fact, this tribute is one of the seriously good services the network provides, doing what we should always do: remind ourselves of the costs of actions such as that taken in Iraq. But Arthur wants to deprive the families of the fallen, not to mention the rest of us, of this brief tribute because it doesn't fit with his political agenda.

His entire project is to ignore the complex reality and highlight what he considers to be the positive. This latest suggested piece of culling is the "good news" theme taken to its absurdist conclusion. RIP.

ALSO: Saint puts it well in comments:
It's strange that Chrenkoff doesn't want to honour so many men and women - many if not most who were far younger than him - who have died to bring him his good news.
The problem is, Dunlop edited Chrenkoff's post to remove a critical paragraph:
Make no mistake, tributes and remembrance of the ultimate sacrifice paid by the troops to bring freedom and democracy to the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan are all very worthy things, but - call me cynical - coming from the mouths of the mainstream media they ring neither true nor sincere. Since the MSM as a general rule doesn't believe in our mission in Iraq (less so in case of Afghanistan), its remembrance then is at best that of a futile sacrifice, at worst of a criminal one.
With this paragraph included, Dunlop's three paragraphs of attack prove to be nothing more than spiteful, lying bullshit. I'm guessing his hit-count is down.


Former liberal activist Keith Thompson can no longer abide the left. The falling out, culminating with the left's disdainful reaction to the Iraqi elections, has been gradual:
A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.

When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.

My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.
While Thompson may not have become a conservative, he now has much more in common with conservatives than with those who "hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom."

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


According to Amnesty International:
"The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law," Khan said.
First Bush was Hitler, now he's Stalin:
The vast penal network, which ultimately included 476 camp complexes, functioned throughout Russia, many in the wastes of Siberia and the Soviet Far East. The system reached its peak after 1928 under Joseph Stalin, who used it to maintain the Soviet state by keeping its populace in a state of terror. Gulag deaths of both political prisoners and common criminals from overwork, starvation, and other forms of maltreatment are estimated to have been in the millions during Stalin's years in power.
Overwork and starvation, that's Guantanamo.

I wonder how Chimpy would look with a moustache?


Lefty Australian academic blogger, and one-time Harry of the dinner theatre production of Harry and the Hendersons, John "Quiggers" Quiggin, has reacted to my earlier post with this update at his blog:
JF Beck offers a defence of the Karimov dictatorship, ending rather lamely with the weasel words “Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not supporting the Karimov government or its actions. I’m simply pointing out that the “wanton murder” scenario being pitched by the left is open to question”. For Beck, and the rest of the RWDB crew, the important thing is to support Bush and attack the left on every possible occasion, even if it means giving someone like Karimov the benefit of the doubt.
Gee professor, I'm not even going to credit that as a nice try; you're reading things into my post that aren't there. The intent of my post – its title is afterall, NEW VERSION OF EVENTS IN UZBEKISTAN – was to point out that events in Uzbekistan, contrary to most of the MSM's coverage, were not at all clear. It might just be that the military was put into a position where it had to fight.

Okay, since the game seems to be to read between the lines, let's take another look at Quiggers' comment that originally drew my attention:
The NYT has survivors’ accounts of the massacre in Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, on last night’s ABC News, I saw the commander of the US base in Afghanistan interviewed. He said something like “The host country military are doing a wonderful job protecting the base and we have had no trouble from the disturbances”. That’s the same host country military that was murdering hundreds of its own people a few days earlier.
What the professor is really saying is that he dearly wishes Uzbek, or is it Afghan?, or both, and Amerikan forces had been wiped out by local "freedom fighters". Jeez, Quiggers is one blood-thirsty prick.


A mini-shit-storm has erupted over some of Bill Maher's comments in the New Rules segment on the final show of the season (13 May). The segment starts with this:
New Rule: The next reality show must be called "America's Stupidest State." We'll start at 50, and each week, if your state does something really stupid with, say, evolution or images of the Virgin Mary, you'll move on to the next round. Now, of course, the final five will always end up being Alabama, Utah, Kansas, Texas and Florida. Sorry, Tennessee.
People in these states were bound to be offended.

Looking to generate further controversy – it was the last show of the season – Maher observed:
And finally, New Rule: The people in America who are most in favor of the Iraq war must now go there and fight it. The Army missed its recruiting goal by 42% last month. More people joined the Michael Jackson Fan Club. "We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit." And now we need warm bodies. We need warm bodies like Paula Abdul needs...warm bodies!
Clearly, Maher sees the military as a sort of real life Springer Show, wall to wall with possibly mentally defective low lifes. Anyway, he was looking for a reaction and got it from Representative Spencer Bachus R-Alabama (one of the states singled out in the segment's intro):
"I think it borders on treason," Bachus said. "In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country."
It's a bit of stretch to call Maher's attention seeking stupidity treason but I can understand why Bachus was upset.

Now, Maher has responded to Bachus in a post at Huff 'n' Puff containing these little gems:
There's nothing I can really do to help or hurt our troops (although anyone who's watched my shows or read my books in the last twelve years knows I'm a pretty ardent supporter of the military).
The "low-lying Lynndie England fruit" comment isn't neutral, it's an offensive indictment of America's military. It sure doesn't help the soldiers.

But a congressman, there's someone who can actually DO SOMETHING to help our troops. In fact, a case could be made that it's a lot more treasonous for someone in his position to be wasting his time yelling at a comedian. Shouldn't he be training his outrage at such problems as troops not having enough armor?
There is no such thing as enough armor, you fuckwit. Military armor will improve and be upgraded over time; it's an evolutionary process. Personally, I won't be happy until every soldier has totally bullet and explosive proof personal armor but for now the troops will have to make do with the armor that can be provided.

Maher continues:
And by the way, these "comments" were part of a longer, scripted comedy piece in the modest proposal tradition. I can see why administration supporters would want to deflect attention away from the gist of the piece, which was this: now that we can't meet our recruiting goals, maybe it's the people who were so gung ho for this war to begin with who should step up and go fight it. But of course it's always easier to distract people.
The point of this paragraph being to distract attention away from the focus of Bachus's attack, Maher's stupid "low-lying Lynndie England fruit" comment. It's a real stretch to call the original segment "comedy".

Maher concludes:
Finally, I would direct the Congressman to chapter 3 of my book "When You Ride Alone, You Ride with bin Laden." The accompanying poster shows a soldier, a cop, a fireman, and a teacher, and says, "We Say They're Our Heroes...But We Pay Them Like Chumps."
Heros are heroic in large part because they do what they do because it has to be done, not because they get paid lots to do it. That's one reason there are no – none that I can think of, anyway – modern mercenary heros.

Bill may not ride with bin Laden but he would if he could.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Hitchens on Koran abuse hysteria:
For whatever it's worth, I know and admire both John Barry and Michael Isikoff, and I can quite imagine that—based on what they had already learned about the gruesome and illegal goings-on at Guantanamo, Bagram, and Abu Ghraib—they found it more than plausible that the toilet incident, or something like it, had actually occurred. A second allegation, that a whole pile of Qurans had been stepped upon at Guantanamo, is equally credible. But mere objectivity requires us to note that this is partly because every prisoner is given a Quran, and that thus there are a lot of them lying around, and that none of this "scandal" would ever have occurred if the prison authorities were not at least attempting to respect Islamic codes. Do Christian and Jewish prisoners in Muslim states receive Bibles and Talmuds? Do secular detainees in Pakistan petition with success to be given Thomas Paine's Age of Reason? Isikoff told me recently that he'd been out to see the trial of a madrasah student in Virginia who was accused of terrorist recruitment and propaganda, and he had been somewhat shocked at the virulence of the anti-Jewish teachings on offer at that school. The school is almost certainly paid for by Saudi money. A Wahhabist version of the Quran, containing distortions of the original and calling for war against "unbelievers" of all sorts, is now handed out by imams in our very own prison system! Do we demand in return that Saudi Arabia allow churches and synagogues and free-thought centers on soil where the smallest heresy is punishable by death? No, we do not. Instead, we saturate ourselves in masochism and invent the silly, shallow term "Quran abuse."
It's only short and well worth reading.


My money's on the lawn mower.


The humour a person is drawn to speaks volumes about them. What then does it say about Mark Bahnisch that he finds this decidedly unfunny effort "a thing of excellence?"


Ultra-violet radiation is good for you:
Scientists are excited about a vitamin again. But unlike fads that sizzled and fizzled, the evidence this time is strong and keeps growing.

If it bears out, it will challenge one of medicine's most fundamental beliefs: that people need to coat themselves with sunscreen (search) whenever they're in the sun. Doing that may actually contribute to far more cancer deaths than it prevents, some researchers think.

The vitamin is D, nicknamed the "sunshine vitamin" because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen blocks its production, but dermatologists and health agencies have long preached that such lotions are needed to prevent skin cancer. Now some scientists are questioning that advice. The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer.

In the last three months alone, four separate studies found it helped protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin. The strongest evidence is for colon cancer.
Isn't it funny how accepted wisdom is constantly changing. More nude sunbathing – luscious babes only – is in order, as is the complete destruction of the ozone layer.


No matter how many Korans US personnel have mishandled their desecrations will remain minor:
While Islamist fanatics and ignorant Westerners sow panic over the alleged desecration of a Koran at Guantanamo Bay, no one mentions a startling fact: When it comes to destruction of the Koran, there's no question who the world champion is--the government of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi state religion is the primitive and austere Wahhabi version of Islam, which defines many traditional Islamic practices as idolatrous. Notably, the state bans the importation of Korans published elsewhere. When foreign pilgrims arrive at the Saudi border by the millions for the annual journey to Mecca, what happens to the non-Saudi Korans they are carrying? The border guards confiscate them, to be shredded, pulped, or burned. Beautiful bindings and fine paper are viewed as a particular provocation--all are destroyed. (This on top of the spiritual vandalism the Saudis perpetrate, by inserting anti-Jewish and anti-Christian squibs into the Korans they publish in foreign languages, as Stephen Schwartz documented in our issue of September 27, 2004.)
Jeez, just think of the money to be made selling Korans to hajj pilgrims. No doubt the canny Saudis have this angle covered.


Greens Senator Bob Brown has accused the Prime Minister of not doing nearly enough to stop Japan's proposed expanded whaling program:
“Belatedly, Mr Howard has sent Mr Koizumi a letter saying ‘good friends should always feel free to disagree’. The medium is the message and it’s downbeat. Mr Koizumi didn’t send a letter, he phoned Mr Howard, to get our troops sent to Iraq to protect the Japanese,” Senator Brown said.

The Howard Government’s approach is weak, late and losing. The whales are seriously at stake. There will be a global furore which diplomatic niceties are not going to remedy,” Senator Brown said.
No doubt the Japanese will be impressed with Bob's diplomatic effort, in which whales are as deserving of Australian protection as are Japanese soldiers.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Lefty Australian academic blogger John Quiggin on the unrest in Uzbekistan:
The NYT has survivors’ accounts of the massacre in Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, on last night’s ABC News, I saw the commander of the US base in Afghanistan interviewed. He said something like “The host country military are doing a wonderful job protecting the base and we have had no trouble from the disturbances”. That’s the same host country military that was murdering hundreds of its own people a few days earlier.
When he writes "Afghanistan" he probably means Uzbekistan. Anyway, it might just be that Uzbek forces had no choice but to finish a fight they didn't start.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a group of "businessmen" and their supporters just sort of ran amock. Rashanbek Khadzhimov, a lawyer who represented the businessmen, has largely confirmed the Uzbek government's version of events:
"It was a collective decision on their part, but it was also a spontaneous decision," he said. "They attacked a police unit where there were only five policemen on duty and they seized at least 100 Kalashnikovs. They attacked a military unit and got some more weapons there.

"Then they made their biggest mistake. When they were freeing their friends from prison, they released the most horrible criminals who were there and gave them guns. They released from prison, together with the flower of the nation, the scum of the nation."

Some of the subsequent violence that the government blames on supporters of the 23 businessmen was committed by criminals who were released and given weapons in the jailbreak, Khadzhimov said.
To put the reporting in perspective:

The New York Times headline:
Toe Tags Offer Clues to Uzbeks' Uprising
The Los Angeles Times:
Uzbek Witness Tells of Brutality on Both Sides
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not supporting the Karimov government or its actions. I'm simply pointing out that the "wanton murder" scenario being pitched by the left is open to question. But, we all know how hard it is for lefties to pass up a chance, even a fabricated chance, to slam America.


As we all know, among the adverse effects of Global Warming is a rise in sea level. It is, however, a complex scenario:
The ice sheet covering the interior of Antarctica is thickening, researchers report in the journal Science.

This bulge, which was recorded by satellite, may temporarily buffer rising sea levels, they believe. Antarctica's "weight gain" is due to extra snowfall, caused by rising temperatures, the US-UK team thinks.

However, the scientists worry the overall mass of the Antarctic may be decreasing because ice near the coasts is melting, possibly at a greater rate.
So, the situation is far from clear. But, let's assume for the sake of argument that Global Warming is real and sea level is going to rise. That means this scientific study is pretty much a waste of time and money:
Jacqueline Hamilton at the University of Hamburg in Germany and her colleagues modelled the numbers of tourists visiting 207 countries in 2025. Their analysis included the effects of expected population growth and economic development,and local climate changes predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The model did not include changing sea levels.

By far the largest changes involved developing nations becoming richer - and therefore more desirable to visit. Tourism in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, for example, could increase by 600 per cent in the 30 years from 1995 to 2025 due to economic and population growth alone.
Tourism to the Maldives will increase by 600 per cent? The average elevation of the Maldvies is only 1.8 metres. Global Warming could well send the Maldives, and its tourism industry, under.

Junk science, and I bet it wasn't cheap.


No, this isn't about steam-cleaning Stockholm prostitutes, it's about removing sexy photos from newspapers:
Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson has taken a swipe at the Swedish media, accusing it of using images of scantily-clad women to boost sales.

He said the government was examining ways of "sanitising" the media, which could include new legislation.

Mr Persson also warned that Swedish tabloids appeared to be going "in the same direction as those in Britain" - a clear reference to the Sun's trademark "page three", featuring a picture of a bare-breasted woman.
Gee, maybe the Swedes aren't as liberal as I thought.


Friday's NYT detainee abuse article continues to evolve – see earlier post here. Here's a Bob Herbert excerpt from today's NYT:
The catalog of confirmed atrocities is huge.

Consider just one paragraph from a long and horrifying story on Friday by Tim Golden of The Times about the torture and brutal deaths of two Afghan inmates at the hands of U.S. troops:

"In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning."

These were among the milder abuses to come to light. The continuum of bad behavior that has been a hallmark of the so-called war on terror extends from this kind of activity to incidents of extreme torture and death.
Atrocities, what atrocities?

The harsh treatment described in the original NYT article is now extreme torture. What next, super-extreme torture? How about super-extreme ultimate torture?

Regardless, it's bullshit.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Writing in The New York Times about the media's credibility problem, Patrick D. Healy has a credibility problem of his own:
So many Americans apparently now see journalists as self-interested, careerist and unprofessional that perhaps it would make sense for media executives to call up another group of bosses who once faced fundamental questions about their product: the makers of Tylenol in the 1980's.

After all, Johnson & Johnson proved that credibility, not to mention market share, could be regained after scandal - in its case, a series of deaths caused by cyanide-laced capsules some 20 years ago.
Healy and eveyone associated with the production of this article are fuckwits. There was no Tylenol scandal, there was a Tylenol crisis. Tylenol's manufacturer's response to the tamperings and subsequent deaths is beyond reproach.

The NYT will have credibility problems as long as such basic mistakes continue to make it past its multiple layers of checking and editing.


News flash:
Since Friday's announcement by a Sunni Muslim cleric that Baghdad's Sunni Mosques would close for three days to protest killings blamed on Iraqi security forces, consumers said they're struggling to find alternate sources for weaponry.
Words of truth spoken in jest.


The Los Angeles Times is now reporting on the mishandling of the Koran by US personnel:
Senior Bush administration officials reacted with outrage to a Newsweek report that U.S. interrogators had desecrated the Koran at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, and the magazine retracted the story last week. But allegations of disrespectful treatment of Islam's holy book are far from rare.

The Pentagon is conducting an internal investigation of reported abuses at the naval base in Cuba, led by Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt. The administration has refused to say what the inquiry, still weeks from completion, has found so far.

But two years ago, amid allegations of desecration and hunger strikes by inmates, the Army instituted elaborate procedures for sensitive treatment of the Koran at the prison camp. Once the new procedures were in place, complaints there stopped, said the International Committee of the Red Cross, which monitors conditions in prisons and detention facilities.

Some of the alleged incidents appear to have been inadvertent or to have resulted from U.S. personnel's lack of understanding about how sensitive Muslim detainees might be to mishandling of the Koran. In several cases, for instance, copies were allegedly knocked about during scuffles with prisoners who refused to leave their cells.
Of course detainee complaints of Koran abuse stopped, they weren't producing results. Why would the ICRC take interest in Koran disrespect in any event?

Saturday, May 21, 2005


DC Media Girl reports on George Galloway's pre-hearing encounter with Christopher Hitchens:
Before the hearing began, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow even had some scorn left over to bestow generously upon the pro-war writer Christopher Hitchens. "You’re a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway informed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens’s questions and staring intently ahead. "And you’re a drink-soaked ..." Eventually Mr Hitchens gave up. "You’re a real thug, aren’t you?" he hissed, stalking away.
Well, Hitchens has had his revenge, in an article in The Weekly Standard. The pen is mightier than the mouth. Read it, if for no other reason than to marvel as Hitchens destroys Scott Ritter in passing.


Clever chants – there's nothing like a catchy chant to liven up a demonstration – heard at a recent Muslim protest in London:
"USA watch your back, Osama is coming back" and "Kill, kill USA, kill, kill George Bush". A small detail of police watched as they shouted: "Bomb, bomb New York" and "George Bush, you will pay, with your blood, with your head".
What crappy chants. I humbly suggest the following:
Two... Four... Six... Eight... We're the goons that de-cap-i-tate.

Pretty catchy, no?


There are a number of reasons for Europeans to reject the proposed constitution. Here's one:
This so-called "Constitution" or "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" (TCE) is unintelligible. No ordinary person has the time or background to understand it.

A Constitution should be comprehensible for the people it will govern. This text completely fails the test.

The Constitution of the United States of America is about 30 pages long - I suggest you check the length of your own national Constitution.

The European Constitution is 252 pages long in the French version and with all the protocols and annexes comes to 850.
Unintelligible, just as its drafters intended. Confusion is a valid management tool.


The New York Times starts off its article on the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan:
Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.
Did his tormentors know or even imagine the man was dying? Probably not. There's similar subtle anti-US bias throughout. Read it and decide for yourself.

Reuters picks up the NYT article, reporting:
A confidential U.S. Army report contains graphic details of widespread abuse of detainees in Afghanistan in 2002 carried out by "young and poorly trained soldiers,'' The New York Times reported on Friday.
The NYT report does not use "widespread" because it doesn't address how widespread was detainee abuse in Afghanistan. The soldiers aren't to blame because they're young and poorly trained; the army's at fault. Further subtle bias.

Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) isn't content with subtle bias, it just makes things up - see earlier SBS post below. Here's the SBS headline for its report on the NYT article:
Neither the NYT nor Reuters reports mention torture and in fact there was no torture described. Having set the tone with the headline the report continues:
The New York Times reported on Friday that two Afghan prisoners held at Bagram were tortured to death by American soldiers in 2002, according to the leaked file.
"Harsh treatment" cited by the NYT evolves into "widespread abuse" according to Reuters and ends up as "rampant torture" according to SBS. What with the MSMs mutiple levels of checking and editing it impossible for this to be a simple mistake, it must be intentional. It's also inexcusable, especially from a publicly funded news outlet.

So, what's with this sudden push for bad news from Afghanistan? The SBS report inadvertently answers that in the last paragraph:
The latest allegations of prisoner abuse, as well as recent anti-US protests in Kabul sparked by an erroneous story about desecration of the Koran by US guards, threaten to overshadow a visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Washington beginning on Saturday.
So, Newsweek, the NYT, Reuters, and SBS are part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to report bad news that will take attention off any progress in Afghanistan. Go figure.

Oh yeah, anyone so inclined can contact SBS at theworldnews@sbs.com.au. They encourage feedback, by the way.

Update: Australia's ABC picks up the story:
Two Afghan prisoners held in a US-run prison in Bagram were tortured to death by American soldiers in 2002, The New York Times reported on Friday, citing a 2,000-page file on the US Army's criminal investigation of the case.
That's our ABC.

Friday, May 20, 2005


If new species are continually discovered and species thought extinct rediscovered, it's going to be damned hard to wipe them all out:
The discovery of a new monkey species in the mountains of Tanzania highlights the potential for uncovering a trove of as-yet unknown fauna in Africa, scientists who reported the find said.

"This discovery proves that there is still so much to learn about the more remote and less well-known areas of Tanzania and Africa as a whole," said Tim Davenport of the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
But, the taste, what about the taste?


So much for their Caribbean holiday:
Cuba has expelled two European Union politicians visiting Havana to address a rare pro-democracy conference.

Czech Senator Karel Schwarzenberg and German MP Arnold Vaatz were seized by police and driven to Havana airport.
Mr Schwarzenberg seems to have had an epiphany as a result of his abrupt trip to the airport:
"This is the typical behaviour of a totalitarian state," he said.
A fact-finding mission isn't needed to know Cuba is a totalitarian state.


With the following headline Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) goes beyond reporting the news to creating it:
Without proof of wrongdoing it's impossible for a scandal to exist. SBS staff have made assumptions based on wishful thinking and reported accordingly. Pathetic.


The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Network initially denied distributing sexually explicit materials – Little Black Book: Queer in the 21st Century – at an event for middle and high school students:
"The allegations are simply lies,'' said Brookline High's SLSEN spokesperson Sean Haley. "We assign monitors to every workshop and event to assure that all policies are strictly enforced.''

But, Thursday, Fenway Community Health Center acknowledged the booklet had been on display.

"Fenway Community Health regrets accidentally making available a small number of copies of the `Little Black Book,' an HIV prevention publication for gay and bisexual men over the age of 18, at an event where young people were present,'' said Dr. Stephen Boswell, Fenway's president and CEO.
No doubt the booth featuring the brochure was the busiest at the event. While I couldn't care less what sort of sexual materials adults read or look at, it's isn't appropriate for kiddies to be given access to material that promotes fuckin', suckin', lickin' butt, piss play and fisting, either gay or straight. Heads need to roll over this, lefty heads.


The man's either very brave or has a death wish:
Montazeri, a frail but mentally sharp 83-year-old, called the seizure of American hostages at the U.S. embassy in 1979 a mistake and said Tehran should now resume ties with Washington.

He also said the United States had done well to topple Saddam Hussein, but should get out of Iraq for its own good.

"Some people criticize America, saying they invaded Iraq in search of an atomic bomb while there was no bomb.

"I say that Saddam himself was more dangerous than 1,000 atomic bombs. It was a great job, but they should let Iraqis enjoy their freedom."

Montazeri was hailed as "the fruit of my life" by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual father of the 1979 Islamic revolution, who designated him as his successor.

He fell from grace in 1988 after criticising Iran's rulers and was kept under house arrest in Qom from 1998 until 2003.
It's a multi-page article well worth reading.


No, it's not sexy snails or seas slugs, it's sexy vegetables. Rather, it's the sexy manipulation of vegetables as seen in an online ad, produced by the British Vegetarian Society, meant to encourage people to eat more vegetables:
The nudge-nudge, wink-wink film of people handling vegetables in a provocative way aims to encourage consumers to try an alternative to their traditional meat and two veg. It poses the question: "Can you keep it up for a week," encouraging non-vegetarians to try shunning meat for seven days.
Provocative it ain't; if anything, British meat consumption will probably increase.

The Rude Food ad is here.


It's not very often I link to an article at Common Dreams but this one is deserving:
Looking for an easy way to protest Bush foreign policy week after week? And an easy way to help alleviate global poverty? Buy your gasoline at Citgo stations.

Citgo is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company... By buying your gasoline at Citgo, you are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela's democratic government is using to provide health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for the majority of Venezuelans.

Instead of using government to help the rich and the corporate, as Bush does, Chavez is using the resources and oil revenue of his government to help the poor in Venezuela... That's why large majorities have consistently backed him in democratic elections. And why the Bush administration supported an attempted military coup in 2002 that sought to overthrow Chavez.

So this is the opposite of a boycott. Call it a BUYcott. Spread the word.
Buy your gas at Citgo and help fund a Castro wannabe.


Sportscaster Sid Rosenberg on Kylie Minogue:
"She won't look so pretty when she's bald with one -----."
Rosenberg shouldn't talk, I haven't seen anything as ugly as him since the last time I bent over in front of the mirror to check my haemorrhoids.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Here we go again:
The International Committee of the Red Cross documented what it called credible information about U.S. personnel disrespecting or mishandling Korans at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and pointed it out to the Pentagon in confidential reports during 2002 and early 2003, an ICRC spokesman said Wednesday.

Representatives of the ICRC, who have played a key role in investigating abuse allegations at the facility in Cuba and other U.S. military prisons, never witnessed such incidents firsthand during on-site visits, said Simon Schorno, an ICRC spokesman in Washington.

But ICRC delegates, who have been granted access to the secretive camp since January 2002, gathered and corroborated enough similar, independent reports from detainees to raise the issue multiple times with Guantanamo commanders and with Pentagon officials, Schorno said in an interview Wednesday.

Following the firestorm over the report and the riots, the ICRC declined Wednesday to discuss what kind of alleged incidents were involved, how many there were or how often it reported them to American officials prior to the release of the 2003 Koran guidelines.

"We don't want to comment specifically on specific instances of desecration, only on the general level of how the Koran was disrespected," Schorno said.

After seeing the result of the Newsweek article the Red Cross knows that it need only allege to create an anti-American shit-storm.

Speaking of credible reports, here's one from Bill Maher:
"The thing that I found disturbing about this - and I'm not a conspiracy theorist - is that everybody agrees there were irregularities. And when you say that, the Republicans go, 'Well, shit happens.' Except that all the shit favored Bush. All the shit that happened seemed to favor one guy."
Here's the corroboration.

It's the vast right-wing conspiracy folks. From flushing Korans to stealing your votes, we are in control. Resistance is futile; sit back and enjoy the ride or else...


On Line Opinion features a piece very critical of the media's coverage of politics, written by lefty Australian blogger Antony Loewenstein . In the following excerpt Loewenstein is educated by his mate, super-journalist and idol:
Journalists should not be mates with politicians or their press agents. A healthy working relationship is clearly essential but socialising together is inappropriate. During a recent conversation with Robert Fisk in Beirut, he reminded me of the situation in Washington during press conferences with Bush, Rumsfeld and a handful of other American leaders. "The journalists rarely ask tough questions", Fisk told me. "They're called by their first names by the politicians and prefer basking in the glow of thinking some hot-shot politician is taking their question." The situation in Australia is often little better.
Hmm, Fisk and I must not be watching the same press conferences. Take this example:
In one of the most belligerent briefings yet (here's the complete transcript) McClellan and the press corps traded shots in the wake of the news magazine's retraction of a report that a Pentagon investigation had confirmed that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay threw a Koran in the toilet.

McClellan said that Newsweek should make further amends for its mistake "by talking about the way they got this wrong, and pointing out what the policies and practices of the United States military are when it comes to the handling of the Holy Koran."

To which ABC News' Terry Moran replied: "With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?"

"Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you're saying here?" asked New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller.
Very chummy stuff indeed, with even alleged Bush "lap-dog" Bumiller on the offensive.

Fisk and Loewenstein, world class idiots.


It's one thing for Stephen Tindale and his Greenpeace mates to chain themselves to the Range Rover production line bringing it to a halt. You know, to stop production of environment destroying SUVs only the rich can afford. It's something else altogether to plot to eliminate low cost airfares:
Attack Chelsea tractors, and you have the support of much of the country: attack cheap air travel, which is far more damaging to the environment, and you are denying the general populace their affordable holidays.

That's next, says Tindale...
Actually, it's the same thing. Fascists.

Update: Thanks for the link, Tim.

American readers readers should go here to be convinced by Common Dreams to boycott Citgo gas stations.


Better late than never, I suppose:
Nato ordered its planners yesterday to begin urgently drawing up proposals to help out in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than a million displaced.

Nato's 26 ambassadors, meeting in Brussels, approved a request for help from the African Union, the pan-continental organisation, which has 2,600 troops on the ground.

A Nato official said yesterday that the organisation would not be putting troops on the ground and it should not be seen as comparable to Nato involvement in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
And who does NATO turn to for help with the heavy lifting?
A Canadian government representative offered at the Nato meeting to provide helicopters, and a British official said that if the US also offered to help with the airlift, that should be taken up.
In reality it'll be like a male "helping" a female change a flat tire.


It wasn't all that long ago that threatening or "roughing up" a ne'er do well was part of effective policing. Not any more:
A police officer alleged to have told an arrested teenager he would "smash his Arab face in" has been suspended pending a standards investigation, Scotland Yard said today.

This poor little kiddie now lives in fear:
The youth, who is understood to fear reprisals if he is identified, is from Bayswater and was stopped by police on a street in west London.

He has lived in Britain since his childhood and is now a UK citizen after his mother claimed asylum. The boy, thought to be 16, is also known to local authorities.
As we all know "known to local authorities" means the kid's a scumbag.

The Guardian's headline for this article – Constable suspended 'after racist tirade caught on mobile' – leaves no doubt the cop's guilty. But, guilty of what? The kid was called an Arab but isn't. In any event Arab is hardly a pejorative. Would the cop be in as much trouble had he called a non-gay youngster gay? Or called a non-male a male? It all seems pretty silly to me.


Unable to improve its economic performance internally, the EU is keen to expand its markets in the developing world but doesn't want to draw any negative attention. The following excerpts from an article at euobserver.com leave no doubt about the EU's economic agenda:
A letter leaked to The Guardian newspaper late Wednesday (18 May) has shown that EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson wants to take a tough line on development countries and has berated the UK for being too influenced by NGOs' agendas.

Trade pundits and NGOs are up in arms about the letter.

The letter, by one of Brussels' top trade officials, Peter Carl, says that although the UK "has taken onboard too much" of the agenda promoted by celebrities and development NGOs, the Commission will continue to push for market liberalisation in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific trade group.

The World Trade Organisation has pushed the EU to create "Economic Partnership Agreements" (EPAs) with the ACP countries to continue the special relationship as it considers the current arrangement to be against global trade rules.

The partnership agreements have come under fire by many NGOs and ACP governments, as well as the UK, for requiring too much trade liberalisation too quickly for the weaker economies to be able to handle.

"The European Commission clearly wants to use EPAs as a tool to open markets and further its own interests. This is not good. EPAs in their current form would be detrimental to development," said an Oxfam spokeswoman.

"They are free trade agreements by any other name and are currently designed to get the most for Europe without the necessary consideration of the negative effects on weaker developing country partners", she continued.
The US openly pushes for globalization while the EU does it on the sly. Very slimy stuff.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Mirko Bagaric's stance on the legalization of torture in certain circumstances has been ridiculed by Australia's lefty bloggers. Some on the right are also opposed to legalised torture. Having read quite a few posts and comments at a number of sites I thought it best to have a think about my supposed support for Bagaric.

The following Tim Dunlop excerpt had a profound impact on my thinking as I reconsidered my position:
The reason we have laws--that we are a nation of laws--is not just to provide sanction against certain proscribed acts but to make a statement, as a society, that we believe some things to be wrong and worthy of sanction. Embedded in the law is a philosophical statement of values. We criminalise rape because we believe it to be statement about how we value individuals. We outlaw theft because as a society we believe in the value of private property. We outlaw torture because we consider it so aborhent that it devalues us as a society and as individuals. And in a sense, in each of these cases, including torture, we apply a version of the golden rule: we wouldn't want this stuff done to us or to our loved ones so as a society we choose to say that these things can be done to no-one and that we will offer individuals protection from them. Call it enlightened self-interest if you prefer or protecting ourselves from our own worst natures. It was this principle I was reminding the Professor of when I called the post below 'Let's try it on his daughter'.

Thus it is worth going back to an earlier post by John Quiggin in which he considers the "ticking bomb" scenario that Professor Bagaric and others seem to think is the slam dunk justification:
In response to the exposure of widespread torture of Coalition prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere, it's inevitable that the "ticking bomb" problem should be raised. As Harry Clarke asks in the comments to this thread: 'You hold a terrorist who knows the location of a defusable bomb which, if exploded, will kill x million people. Do you have the right to torture him/her to find the bomb?'

Instead of offering an answer to this question, I'm going to look at a question that follows immediately, but doesn't seem to have been asked. Suppose that you have used torture to extract information from a prisoner in the belief (correct or not) that doing so was justified by a "ticking bomb" situation. What should you do next?
Well, after reading the anti-terror arguments above, I've concluded that Dunlop and Quiggin are even loonier than I imagined.

Amongst other things, laws are meant to protect us from those who would do us harm. If we must do harm in order to protect ourselves from those who would do us harm, so be it. Thus, difficult federal prisoners in the so called super-maximum security prisons in the United States are increasingly being subjected to "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" tantamount to torture – under the currently over-broad definition wherein wrapping a Muslim in an Israeli flag, stomping on a Koran or pointing a gun at someone constitutes torture. What difference does it make if the torture is acute, as it would be in the case of a terrorist or supposed terrorist being interrogated, or chronic, as it is in the case of the long term super-max prisoners?

Dunlop has at least addressed the issue, Quiggin, unable to formulate a response, answers a question with a question. Regardless, they both want interrogators, possibly under immense pressure to extract time sensitive information, to abide by the law as it stands and make nice-nice with those being interrogated: violate the rights of someone being interrogated, even if making a good faith effort to obtain information that might save lives, and expect the full weight of the federal judiciary to fall on your head. In reality, it is the interrogators who are being intimidated, not the interrogated. Since the lefties can't get at Bush they're willing to settle for intimidating his surrogates, the interrogators.

Oh yeah, one more thing, if torture was to be legalised in certain circumstances, it does not mean we are becoming like the enemy. Unlike those who seek to terrorize, we will always find torture distasteful at best – thus the ongoing debate. Our restricted situational use of torture will not encourage the enemy to use torture. They need no excuse.

Now, if Dunlop and Quiggin had told me I'm right, I'd seriously have to question my position.

Update: Here's The Village Voice's Ward Harkavy on Bagaric in The Bush Beat column:
Yes, but who decides what "saving an innocent person" means? George W. Bush's handlers treat Halliburton and other corporate profiteers like cute little innocent puppies. Would you have those handlers decide whether torture is justified?
Lefties pretty much can't write an anti-Bush article without working in a Halliburton angle somewhere.


Norman Mailer does Huff 'n' Puff:
... the gaffe over the Michael Isikoff story in Newsweek concerning the Koran and the toilet is redolent with bad odor. Who, indeed, was Isikoff's supposedly reliable Pentagon source? One's counter-espionage hackles rise. If you want to discredit a Dan Rather or a Newsweek crew, just feed them false information from a hitherto reliable source. You learn that in Intelligence 101A.

Counter-espionage often depends on building "reliable sources." You construct such reliability item by secret item, all accurate. That is seen by the intelligence artists as a necessary expenditure. It gains the source his credibility. Then, you spring the trap.

As for the riots at the other end, on this occasion, they, too, could have been orchestrated. We do have agents in Pakistan, after all, not to mention Afghanistan.

Obviously, I can offer no proof of any of the above.
Uh Norman, uncorroborated single-source stories shouldn't be transmitted as factual, should they? Great pun, though.


That's the title of the thread at Democratic Underground and it's meant to be complimentary:
They both command a great amount of knowledge about Iraq, the Neo-Cons who started the war, and the lies that were used to start the war.

When Galloway and Ritter talk, I dare not gaze from the TV for a minute because they're so damn good.
The first thing I thought was, they both like teenage girls?


Well anyway, good conditions are causing sheep to breed like rabbits:
A farmer in Western Australia's Great Southern region says he is surprised at the unusual amount of triplet lambs born on the property this season.

Don Thompson from Tincurrin says he is had up to 17 sets of triplet lambs born within his merino lambing flock, while in a normal year he would only expect to see about three.

He attributes the increase to the good condition his ewes were in at mating time and with an abundance of feed on the property now, the triplets are surviving.

"We've probably lost a few of them, which is understandable, because mum picks up two and walks off and leaves one behind," he said.

"Normally if we get triplets, we knock one on the head and let the other two survive but this year I know there's at least four sets of triplets that are surviving so obviously the ewes have got a good bag of milk."
Jeez, those ignorant country folk don't realize sheep are people too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Jot down the five adjectives that best describe the French.

To see how your answers stack up go here.


Andrew Sullivan comments on the torture inflicted on detainees by US interrogators, "they have wrapped one in an Israeli flag..." What's the big deal? It's not like the flag was soaked in a Jewess's menstrual blood.


Mirko Bagaric, the head of Deakin University's law school, makes a strong case for employing torture in certain circumstances:
Torture is permissible where the evidence suggests that this is the only means, due to the immediacy of the situation, to save the life of an innocent person. The reason that torture in such a case is defensible and necessary is because the justification manifests from the closest thing we have to an inviolable right: the right to self-defence, which of course extends to the defence of another. Given the choice between inflicting a relatively small level of harm on a wrongdoer and saving an innocent person, it is verging on moral indecency to prefer the interests of the wrongdoer.
Read the whole thing.

Professor Bagaric's support for torture has drawn the predictable reaction.

Update: Tim Dunlop – see "predictable" link above – entitles his post on Bagaric's toture position "Let's try it on his daughter". Why we’d want to torture Bagaric’s daughter he doesn’t say. But let’s suppose Dunlop’s daughter had been kidnapped and he had access to the suspected kidnapper. To what lengths would he go to obtain the information that would see the safe return of his daughter? Me, I’d employ whatever means – pliars, hammer, Bernz-o-matic torch, you name it – necessary to get the needed information. If Dunlop wouldn’t do the same for his child, I’d be willing to do it for him. I guess I’m just morally fucked.

Update II: For my response to lefty bloggers Tim Dunlop and John Quiggin, go here.


Apparently Kylie's breast cancer was discovered early and the prognosis is good.

Fortunately for her male fans, her most outstanding asset will not be affected.

Here's hoping the treatment is successful and she makes a speedy recovery.


Five-year-old Bethany Holder was run over and killed by a 4WD in the grounds of the Pittwater House School, Sydney, three years ago. The 4WD owner was convicted of negligent driving in connection with Bethany's death but has attempted to shirk responsibility by saying she believes 4WDs should require a special class of licence.

The Glebe Coroner's Court has massively overreacted to this unfortunate event:
The deputy state coroner, Jacqueline Milledge, has made a number of recommendations, including banning 4WDs from stopping in school drop-off and pick-up zones.

She also recommends banning 4WDs from school grounds and increasing supervision of all other traffic inside schools.

She has recommended that the Roads and Traffic Authority introduce special licensing for 4WDs and that all primary schools and local councils should undertake a risk-management assessment of the areas in and around schools where children and cars mix.
First 4WDs are accused of killing the environemnt, now they're accused of killing our kids.

Monday, May 16, 2005


According to The Independent:
The most recent Pentagon figures suggest there are 5,133 troops missing from duty. Of these 2,376 are sought by the Army, 1,410 by the Navy, 1,297 by the Marines and 50 by the Air Force. Some have been missing for decades.

But campaigners say the true figure could be far higher. Staff who run a volunteer hotline to help desperate soldiers and recruits who want to get out, say the number of calls has increased by 50 per cent since 9/11. Last year alone, the GI Rights Hotline took more than 30,000 calls. At present, the hotline gets 3,000 calls a month and the volunteers say that by the time a soldier or recruit dials the help-line they have almost always made up their mind to get out by one means or another.
If the figures here are to be trusted, there hasn't been a significant increase in military desertions. The anecdotal evidence provided by the GI Rights Hotline is meaningless.

It's possible the desertion rate is a problem for US forces but this article does not prove the case. Lefty wishful thinking is more how it looks.


Newsweek has acknowledged that it perhaps should not have printed an allegation that a Koran was thrown into a toilet by US personnel at Guantanamo:
Last Friday, a top Pentagon spokesman told us that a review of the probe cited in our story showed that it was never meant to look into charges of Qur'an desecration. The spokesman also said the Pentagon had investigated other desecration charges by detainees and found them "not credible." Our original source later said he couldn't be certain about reading of the alleged Qur'an incident in the report we cited, and said it might have been in other investigative documents or drafts. Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we. But we regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst.
A reasonable correction I suppose.

What's most worrying about the unrest is that Muslims are being manipulated by those seeking to make political mileage out of the supposed book flushing:
Yesterday, a council of more than 300 mullahs in the north-eastern province of Badakhshan threatened to declare holy war on America if it failed to hand the interrogators to be punished.

Protests appeared to have been sparked after the former Pakistan cricket star Imran Khan held up a copy of the article at a press conference last week and said: "This is what the US is doing, desecrating the Qur'an."
A little independent thinking would go a long way...

Update: As you'll note from my reaction above, I feel the Newsweek correction is a bit weak. Others are totally unimpressed:
"It's outrageous, I think it's accessory to murder," said Fox News military analyst Col. David Hunt, now retired from the Army.

"This is a lie. This is [a] criminal act as far as I'm concerned. People died," Hunt told Fox interviewer Geraldo Rivera. "A lot worse things should happen to Newsweek than ... making this half-assed apology."

"It's treasonous at worst," Hunt added. "How about not hurting the war? How about causing no harm? I think Newsweek should lose every reader it ever had."
Col. Hunt always calls 'em like he sees 'em.


The latest Star Wars effort has been awarded the Trophy of the Festival at Cannes. Here's the Guardian's Charlotte Higgins to explain why this honour was bestowed on such a crassly commercial Hollywood creation:
The republic is crumbling under attack from alien forces. Democracy is threatened as the leader plays on the people's paranoia. Amid the confusion it is suddenly unclear whether the state is in more danger from insurgents, or from the leader himself.

It sounds more like a Michael Moore polemic than a Star Wars movie. But George Lucas, speaking as his latest epic was given its world premiere at Cannes yesterday, confirmed that Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, could be read as a parable about American politics.

When he conceived his series of films in the 1970s, he says, he was thinking about Vietnam and Nixon, investigating "democracy, and how a senate could give itself over, could surrender itself to a dictator".

Asked whether Star Wars Episode III openly alluded to the Iraq war, he said: "When I wrote it Iraq didn't exist. We were funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We were going after Iran. But the parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we are doing in Iraq are unbelievable."
Anyone who has seen episodes I and II will know Lucas hasn't had an original thought since the 70s. Time to retire, or maybe switch to "documentaries".


Either stupid or blind:
A new study of Australian children shows a significant number are obese but their parents are not aware they are overweight... 52 per cent of parents whose children were classified as obese said their children were either normal weight or underweight and most were not worried about their children's size.
Fat, dumb and happy.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the death of "The World's Most Dangerous Bull":
Originally called J31, Bodacious came to prominence in the early nineties as champion bull riders were routinely thrown to the ground, and many seriously injured and sent to hospital emergency rooms. The 1800lb cross breed Charbray bull known for his distinctive coloring as the "Yellow Whale" made unique moves that rodeo athletes had never before seen and were defenseless to protect against. Only six cowboys were able to complete their rides in 135 attempts.

Tuff Hedeman, often called the best bull rider ever, was one of the few to stay on Bodacious for a full eight seconds. But in 1995 Hedeman saw the terrifying side of "Bo" when he suffered a major face smashing, and required emergency reconstructive surgery after a brutal encounter with Bodacious at the Professional Bull Riders Finals. Hedeman drew the bull again at the National Finals Rodeo in 1995, and chose not to ride him. Hedeman called Bodacious "the badest bull there has ever been." It was that same year that world champion Scott Breding sustained serous injuries and became the last cowboy to attempt a ride on Bodacious. A day after the Breeding accident, during the final round of the NFR, owners Sammy and Carolyn Andrews decided to retire the bull "in the interest of cowboy safety."
Bodacious seemed to really enjoy his job smashing cowboys' faces and probably found retirement a bore. Rest in peace big fella.

Update: Here's some Bodacious bullshit:
Bodacious himself, like most rodeo bulls, was held in rodeo pens for hours in intense heat, pummeled by rodeo staff, and endured 5000-volt electric cattle-prod shots to the testicles, all in an effort to rile him up so as to make him appear "wild."

According to the Primus song later written about his life, Bodacious stepped onto the national stage in 1993, when bull-rider Tuff Hedeman rode him for a full eight seconds to claim some sort of backwater cruelty championship. Bodacious must have seemed, to an observer doubtful of good in the world, resigned to the average bovine life of pain marked by periodic humiliation beneath denim-clad torturers. In old age, he would most likely be sold to a beef processing plant and eventually be eaten in fast food meal deals dished out to the same fat morons who laughed at him at the rodeo.

If you were a bull in such a situation, you would probably be so scared and sad that you’d just flail and cry until the big bad cowboy man fell off you. You would never speak up for yourself, let alone all your fellow bovine-kind. Bodacious, on the other hand, somehow found it within his heart to speak through action. The message, like a volcanic eruption up from the Hell to which we think we condemn the Other: "Get the fuck off me." Not only did Bodacious buck his legs up behind him, as cowboys and bestial torture fans expected, but he also began to whip his thick head and neck backward to catch cowboys on their lunges forward and smash their stupid, evil faces into mush. Didn’t see that coming, did you, boys? Thought that the spirit of justice was yours to manipulate, did you? Take a horn to the eye, you bastards, because freedom rises–right into your God-damned faces.

Equipped with his special reverse-neck-bucking move, Bodacious was a new bull when he was slotted to face Tuff Hedeman once again in the bull-riding championships in 1995. "Tuff" wasn’t so tough after all; Bodacious smashed his face into a bloody pulp, as virtue demanded. Try to conceive of the retaliatory significance of Bodacious’s act, a bull fucking up a human face: the destruction of that physical structure which manifests the vicious human intellect, the structure which most clearly differentiates humanity from its long-snouted "inferiors." The next time Hedeman was scheduled to face Bodacious, who thoroughly demolished 129 of 135 cowboys faced, "Tuff" backed out. Instead, another rider, Scott Breding, put on a face mask and took Hedeman’s place. Bodacious blasted through the face mask and shattered Breding’s eye socket. Bodacious was "retired" by his owners (as if being attacked and infuriated is a constructive bovine career as opposed to just eating grass, having sex, and sitting around looking cool) "in the interest of cowboy safety" by his supposedly compassionate "owners" Sammy and Carolyn Andrews.
Gimme a Bodacious burger, double onions.

Update II: A hearty thankyou to Tim Blair for the link. The most visits ever, to a story about a bull. Screw the politics, it's animal stories for me.

Update III: Ed notes in comments that Red Rock, with 312 thrown riders in a row, is rated the most successful rodeo bull ever.

Update IV: You've read about a big bull, now read about a big bullshitter.


Here's the reception 63 year-old Mike Robins got at a recent public meeting:
'I was bayed at,' said Robins, a retired naval engineer from Southampton. 'Several hundred people were shouting. Some called out "Nazi!", "bastard!" and "Why don't you roll over and die!" I tried to speak, but was shouted down. It was utterly terrifying.'
Is Robins really a Nazi? Has he said something uncomplimentary about Muslims? Is he perhaps a convicted paedophile? Nope, he's a Parkinson's sufferer whose disease was brought under control by surgery developed through testing on animals.

Remember, animals are people too. Unfortunately, unlike animals, some people are fuckwits.

Update: Since we're on the subject of fuckwits, there's this darpish effort.

"Phantom Professor" blogger loses teaching job

Southern Methodist University has decided not to renew adjunct professor and blogger Elaine Liner's contract of employment. A major brouhaha has ensued.

The Dallas Morning News reports:
When an anonymous professor launched a brutally honest Web site, some SMU students thought the resemblance to their school was striking – and offensive.

The "Phantom Professor" blog dished about epidemic eating disorders and wealthy students looking for a "Mrs." degree. The author dubbed girls in $500 sandals toting $1,500 handbags "the Ashleys" and called a handsome male colleague "Hot Pockets."

Now, after much speculation, Elaine Liner's identity has been confirmed. A local writer, she has done theater reviews for the Dallas Observer in recent months and has written articles for The Dallas Morning News in the past.

Southern Methodist University recently decided that it no longer needs Ms. Liner's services as an adjunct professor teaching classes on writing and ethics to communications students.
In reality, Ms Liner isn't brutally honest, she's brutally opinionated:
On the blog, Ms. Liner offered effusive praise for some of her students but delivered biting commentary when discussing others. She derides "the Ashleys" with "their Prada handbags and their SUVs (brand new, all filled with high octane charged to daddy's plastic) and their size 0 derrieres kept warm with pastel Juicy Couture sweats that show just a hint of dorsal cleavage."

Dr. Kirk said that such characterizations created tension in the classroom.

"Students in her class came to me and said ... 'Am I being judged just because I have good shoes?' " Dr. Kirk said.
Elaine Liner almost certainly lost her job because of the disdainful and ethically questionable treatment of students on her blog. She knew students and their parents would not like her observations so she blogged anonymously. In the end she drew way too much attention to herself and lost her job anyway. Boo hoo.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The film US TV networks dare not show, or so says the Guardian (Post 2)

The Power of Nightmares – see original post here – has screened at Cannes. According to Reuters:
It says Bush and U.S. neo-conservatives, as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are exaggerating the terror threat in a manner similar to the way earlier generations of leaders inflated the danger of communism and the Soviet Union.

It also draws especially controversial symmetries between the history of the U.S. movement that led to the neo-cons and the roots of the ideas that led to radical Islamism -- two conservative movements that have shaped geopolitics since 1945.

Curtis's film portrays neo-cons Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld as counterparts to Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri in the two respective movements.

"During the Cold War conservatives exaggerated the threat of the Soviet Union," the narrator says. "In reality it was collapsing from within. Now they're doing the same with Islamic extremists because it fits the American vision of an epic battle."

"It was an attempt at historical explanation for September 11," Curtis said, describing his film in the Guardian newspaper recently. "Up to this point, nobody had done a proper history of the ideas and groups that have created our modern world."

But Curtis said there were worlds of difference between his film and Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which won the "Golden Palm" and gave the festival a charged political atmosphere that prompted this year's return to a more conservative program.
Bear in mind that the excerpts above are from Reuters' Entertainment section, which makes no mention of Hiner Saleem's pro-war film, Kilometre Zero, also screened at Cannes. Charlotte Higgins, writing in the Guardian isn't happy about Kilometre Zero's content but at least gives it coverage:
George Bush and Tony Blair will whoop for joy. A strongly pro-war film has been premiered at the Cannes film festival - and it comes from Iraq.
Reuters, for some reason, does not.

Update: Curtis might view the Communist threat as overblown but that's not how the Rooskies saw it:
The Soviet-led Warsaw Pact had a long-standing strategy to attack Western Europe that included being the first to use nuclear weapons, according to a new book of previously Secret Warsaw Pact documents published today. Although the aim was apparently to preempt NATO "aggression," the Soviets clearly expected that nuclear war was likely and planned specifically to fight and win such a conflict.
So as it turns out, both the Commies and Islamofanatics are first-strikers.

The cult of the suicide-bomber-loving-lefties

Madeleine Bunting is campaigning for high priestess:
Elements of all these precedents can be traced in the research done on motivations of suicide bombers in Palestine, Chechnya and al-Qaida and probably now those in Iraq. A sense of humiliation and the need to avenge honour on the part of their faith and/or people (or a potent combination of both as in Iraq) is emphasised by Khosrokhavar. He also picks up on how hating the world (because of the experience of injustice and oppression) leads to a longing for death - a rejection of this world's vale of tears.

These are concepts which are very difficult for westerners living largely comfortable lives to grasp. Honour is meaningless to us; we have replaced it with a preoccupation with status and self-fulfilment. We dimly grasp self-sacrifice but only apply the concept to our raising of children. Meanwhile, nothing can trump our dedication to the good life of consumer capitalism, and certainly not any system of abstract beliefs. Not having experienced the desperation of oppression, we have little purchase on the extremism it might engender. Meanwhile, we have medicalised rather than politicised the condition of hating the world and longing for death. The gulf in understanding yawns wide.

But our outraged incomprehension of suicide bombing is also partly because it is the opposite of how we have come to believe wars are fought. It is not the high technology of laser-guided bombs, nor the strangely sterile detachment of the aeroplane camera without any images of the screams, smashed bones and blood. The west can only now kill from a distance - preferably from several thousand feet up in the air or several hundred kilometres away on an aircraft carrier. It is the very proximity of these suicide missions which is so shocking. This kind of intimate killing is a reversion to pre-industrial warfare - the kind of brutality seen in the thirty years war, for example. Suicide bombers in Iraq are a new permutation of old traditions; they have no monopoly on the horrors they reveal of the human psyche and its capacity to destroy life.
There's no doubt which side Madeleine's rooting for in the clash of civilizations: she's all for the civilian targeting maniacs who'd like to suicide bomb us back to the pre-industrial age.