Friday, September 30, 2005


Lefty Australian academic Tim "Fact-Check Boy" Lambert has a bit of a stoush going with John Brignell. (Lambert bounces my links, so you'll have to copy and paste if you'd like to read all about it.) The stoush itself isn't nearly as interesting as Lambert's characterization of Brignell:
He can’t bring himself to mention my name, he makes blatantly false claims (specifically, I do attack his arguments, and I do cite other authorities) and indulges in name-calling.
Lambert obviously doesn't realize he's perfectly describing himself:
  • He refuses to respond to me directly at his blog (see, or at other blogs and bounces my links.
  • He falsely claims that that I have made inappropriate personal attacks in comments at his blog; he used this as a pretext to remove an entire comment.
  • He has repeatedly called me an "attention seeker" and "troll" (see as an example).
Now, because Lambert refuses to respond to me directly at his blog, much of this nastiness spilled over into Mark Bahnisch's Larvatus Prodeo. When Lambert also refused to respond to me directly at Larvatus, I decided to drop the matter. Lambert, however, just couldn't resist getting in a parting shot, commenting:
Mark, I’m sorry that my trolls followed me here and caused you grief. I’ve found that quickly deleting their abusive comments keeps things on the level. Even normally civil commenters can start posting insults once one abusive comment is allowed to stand.
To which I responded:
Tim Lambert sounds the bell for round two.

Which trolls would those be, Mr Lambert? Both CL and I commented in the prior thread long before you did, so, if anything, it looks like you followed us here. (There is a great temptation to call you a “crtn” at this point, but, despite the ample supporting evidence, I’ll resist the temptation.)

Perhaps you’d like to enlighten us as to my qualifications as an “attention seeker” and troll. You know, the number of comments I’ve made at your site, ever. The number of different threads I’ve commented in. The number of comments you’ve removed because of comments policy infractions. Perhaps you could even quote some of my inappropriate comments.

Are you going to back up your words this time around or are you going to do what you normally do and disappear so your like-minded lackies can draw attention away from you? You might want to email Ian Gould requesting emergency assistance.

C’mon Mr Lambert be brave.
I even emailed Lambert a copy of my comment to make sure he knew about it. Not surprisingly, he has yet to respond. Brave, ain't he?

Lambert should follow his own advice (see and correct his claims or apologize, or both.


The bad news: UN estimates of the death toll of a bird flu pandemic range from 2 million to 150 million.

The good news: The UN admits that "all forecasts are guesswork".

Like we didn't already know.


An Israel hater makes much of the photo above as evidence of the militarization of Israel. The full description of the Yahoo News photo is as follows:
Israeli bride Reut Unger poses for a wedding photographer next to an Israeli army mobile artillery piece at a staging area near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, just outside the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday Sept. 28, 2005. Widening its five-day campaign against Palestinian militants, Israel for the first time fired artillery shells into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and shut down 15 West Bank offices suspected of distributing money to families of suicide bombers from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Reut Unger might well be a bride but she isn't exactly striking a pose. I mean really, shouldn't she be stradding that cannon? And, what's the deal with the very un-wedding-like footwear. Hell, for all I know Reut ducked in behind that armoured artillery for a pee during wedding practice – from the look of the terrain, there isn't a tree for miles. And, where's the rest of the wedding party.

The photo below – it appears immediately before the photo above in the Yahoo slide show sequence – gives a much better visual summary of the Israel-Palestine situation:

Palestinian militants of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade shoot in the air as they celebrate in the former Jewish settlement of Sanur Wednesday Sept. 28, 2005 on the 5th anniversary of the Intifadah, or uprising which erupted on Sept. 28, 2000, when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, then Israel's opposition leader, visited the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, also known to Jews as Temple Mount. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
No matter how you look at it, it's all about Israeli provocation.


FEMA may have been a bit slow to respond to the Katrina disaster but it's right on the ball in Los Angeles, where a huge wildfire threatens a large number of multi-million dollar homes. Well-heeled locals have reportedly been evacuated by a fleet of stretch-limos organised by FEMA. Evacuees will eventually be accommodated aboard one of the Carnival cruise ships originally intended for Katrina evacuees – the three ships chartered at the bargain basement price of $263 million for six months. Funny old world, ain't it.

Oh yeah, FEMA didn't really evacuate anyone from the fire; just like in New Orleans, locals were left to sort things out for themselves.


Alphonso R. Jackson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, anticipates many black evacuees will never return to New Orleans:
Mr. Jackson, whose remarks were reported by the Houston Chronicle, said New Orleans might reach a population of 375,000 people sometime late next year with a black population of about 40 percent at the highest, down from 67 percent before Hurricane Katrina sent a storm surge that overwhelmed New Orleans levees and flooded 80 percent of the city.
Many blacks may not be able to return to the Ninth Ward because it's impractical to rebuild in such a low-lying area. Lefties see this as the realization of a Republican fantasy:
In the storm's aftermath, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, charged that relocating evacuees across the country was "racist" and designed to move black people, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic, out of Louisiana.
Rev. Jackon, Waters and the other lefties are all up in arms about Secretary Jackson's remarks and would dearly love to call him a racist only they can't; he's black. Anyway, evacuees who eventually settle outside Louisiana can consider themselves lucky.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


That's the answer. The question: what do Turkish mental patients hear most frequently from their doctors?
Turkey's psychiatric hospitals are riddled with horrific abuses, including the use of raw electroshock as a form of punishment, according to a human rights report issued in Istanbul on Wednesday, just days before Turkey begins formal talks to join the European Union.

The report, by Mental Disability Rights International, a Washington-based group, came after several visits in the past year by the group's investigators to psychiatric hospitals and other facilities for people with developmental or mental disabilities.

While the report details many types of abuses, it said the most disturbing involved the use of electroconvulsive therapy without anesthesia to treat a wide range of illnesses in adults and children. The World Health Organization has called for a ban on "unmodified" or "direct" use of the treatment and states that children should never be subjected to it in any form.

"If we use anesthesia the E.C.T. won't be as effective, because they won't feel punished," the report quotes the director of the electroconvulsive therapy center as saying.
Looks like Turkey has its own abu Ghraib thing going here, run by highly trained professionals instead of amateurs.


It seems that some scientists haven't been taking Global Warming seriously enough:
American scientists studying the Arctic icecap say the area covered by sea ice has shrunk for a fourth consecutive year.

Dr Mark Serreze from the NSIDC says he is alarmed that [Arctic] sea ice levels are not fluctuating like they used to.

"I'm flabbergasted, to be honest," he said.
Don't climate models predict this sort of thing, you know, as the planet gets warmer?

National Snow and Ice Data Centre colleague Julianne Stroeve doesn't quite know where to pin the blame for the thaw:
... Ms Stroeve says it is hard to tell whether the melting is due to a natural occurrence, or if can it blamed on increased emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Gee, it's unusual for a science type to be so open minded; isn't Global Warming accepted as fact? If you read on, you'll find she's not open minded at all:
"The Arctic is a huge heatsink, it helps keep the planet cool, and it also drives our circulation because the heat graded between the poles and the equator is what drives our atmospheric, our ocean circulation.

"And what we're doing is we're changing the heat in the Arctic, and it's warming up."
Lucky they've got this ice melt thing figured out; flabbergasted is just one step from discombobulated.


Oxford University professor of European Studies Timothy Garton Ash starts off his latest Guardian article – on America – almost sweetly:
As dusk fell, they danced barefoot on the grass, small children and straw-hatted grannies, fat and slim, rich and poor, white, black, Hispanic-American, Indian-American, Chinese-American, while the irresistible beat of the zoot-suited Big Bad Voodoo Daddy band pounded from the stage. Some of the dancers looked great, others ridiculous, but they didn't give a damn. Then fireworks erupted into the spacious night sky, and a leather-faced man in a cowboy hat cried: "Red! White! Blue!"

The concert to mark Independence Day here at Stanford University in California, earlier this year, showed America at its best. It was an authentic, infectious celebration of freedom and national togetherness, but also of a very particular kind of equality. Not the European kind, which looks to a state-guaranteed social standard for all citizens, but the American kind, which claims that anyone, coming from anywhere, has an equal chance to make their own way to the top.

Where else would you get men and women of such diverse origins dancing so exuberantly together, barefoot on the grass, to celebrate a national holiday? Perhaps in Australia, Canada, or London, which is a small multinational country in itself. But even there, would it have quite the same pizzazz and largeness of spirit?
Wow, a lefty like Ash fairly gushing about America. It doesn't last long:
Two months later we saw America at its worst, as members of the black underclass in the ninth ward of New Orleans drowned, grew sick and were preyed upon by violent gangs, while government failed to help or protect them. There are even reports (unconfirmed, and perhaps apocryphal) of American women changing their name from Katrina, since Hurricane Katrina has become a synonym not just for natural disaster but for human and political failure. How could the richest and most powerful country in the world, capable of hitting a flea in Afghanistan with a precision laser-guided missile, fail its own poor so miserably?
Editors at the L A Times, which picked up the article, had enough sense to delete the name change nonsense. Back to Ash:
And then there was Rita. I returned last week from Iran (where an ayatollah at Friday prayers used Katrina to illustrate the inhumanity of the Great Satan America) to an America engulfed in preparations for the onslaught of Hurricane Rita. Watching television, which reported virtually nothing else, 24 hours a day for several days at a time, this felt like a country facing up to a Martian invasion, as in H G Wells' The War of the Worlds. As the 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds famously triggered a mass exodus from American cities, so now an estimated one million people fled north from Texas. "Galveston is virtually a ghost town now," reported one correspondent, "which is encouraging." While that multicoloured rotating swirl in the weather-map simulations attacked the Gulf coast again and again, like an alien spaceship, the governor of Louisiana warned people: "If you choose to stay, write your social security number on your arm in indelible ink." So they can identify the corpse, you see.
The War of the Worlds radio broadcast did frighten quite a few people but it certainly didn't cause widespread panic or prompt a mass exodus from American cities. And, isn't it a good thing that Galveston was evacuated since it was predicted that the place was directly in Rita's path? From what I remember, news reports predicted Galveston Island would be almost totally under water. It almost seems that Ash wanted the town to be hit with lots killed. Enough speculation, back to Ash:
In the event, it was not so bad as they feared. Three things struck me about this week of Ritamania. First, how often people reached for the word "hero". "Hero docs ride out the storm," said a report on ABC. Of course our tabloids do the same, but this has a different quality and frequency to it. When a military man briefing President Bush said the response to Hurricane Katrina had been "a train wreck", meaning a complete mess, Bush responded: "Having said that about Katrina, there were still some amazingly heroic rescues ... "

It would be interesting to do a word count for mentions of the word "hero" in American public life, as compared with Britain, France or Germany. A hundred years ago, conservative nationalist Germans used to characterise the "true" Germans as heroes and the Jews as wheeler-dealers: Helden against Händler. Today, we have a different stereotype: true Americans as Helden and limp-wristed Europeans as Händler. Yet in practice, of course, you had the same mix of true bravery and, as one journalist on the spot noted, "real raw panic" in the response to Rita and Katrina as you would in most societies.

The second thing that struck me was the way the Bush administration fell back on to the military. After the breakdown of public order following Katrina, members of the 82nd Airborne swept the streets of New Orleans, guns at the ready, as if this was Somalia, Kosovo or Iraq. Not just once but twice in the past few days, Bush has been shown being briefed by military commanders. The president confided that he was thinking about the circumstances "in which the department of defence becomes the lead agency".
Okay, Ash does have a point about the over-use of hero. But, what the Hell is Nazi Germany doing in here. Oh that's right, I forgot about Bush being the reincarnation of Hitler and all.

As for the military involvement, Ash doesn't seem to realize the military has a pool of men and equipment that can be very helpful in the wake of such natural disasters. Thus, the frequent use of the National Guard in such situations. The 82nd Airborne's involvment was simply expedient, they did not sweep the streets of New Orleans. Their guns may have been at the ready but they weren't loaded:
The soldiers conduct neighborhood-watch-like patrols in Algiers to assist local authorities to find out "how people are doing" after the storm, explained Army Capt. Kenton R. Barber, Battery A's 28-year-old executive officer.

The captain noted that he and his soldiers don't have authority to conduct law-enforcement missions. Barber's soldiers carry live ammunition for their M-4 carbines, but the weapons aren't loaded, he said.
More from Ash, who turns his attention to the poor:
The third thing that struck me very forcefully was the number of people left destitute, or shouldering mounting debt, by the damage to their homes. Why? Because they had no savings. Indeed, many of the poor evacuees from New Orleans did not even have a bank account. The possessions in the house, some of them purchased on the never-never, were all they had. That's why some poor African-Americans refused to leave their homes. This is not just about poverty; it's also about a consumer culture, a relentless commercial pressure to spend, spend, spend, which has given the United States its lowest average personal savings rate since 1959, and one of the lowest in the developed world.
Or, it could be that the poor are especially inept at planning their lives and using money wisely. Ash now turns his attention to America's obsession with things operated by gasoline:
There's very little padding there to absorb another shock, such as the soaring petrol prices which are America's other current obsession. On Monday President Bush even suggested that Americans might think of driving a bit less. If I had any shares in the manufacturers of gas-guzzling SUVs, I would sell at once.

Now I believe the United States will meet this challenge, precisely because of the spirit and diversity I saw in that Independence Day celebration. This is still a very dynamic society, full of enterprising people who want to be here and want to make it. It's also good at scientific and technological adaptation, which can go a long way to address the country's oil dependency. But as I leave Stanford to return to Europe, I do come away feeling that this country needs to spend the next few years concentrating more on its economy and less on its military. When the next recession comes along, it will be no use sending for the marines.
In 2003 France's military spending was 2.6% of GDP while for the US it was 3.3%. If I lived in the states I'd take comfort from the fact that the marines are there if they're ever needed.


That's the title of a scientific study in Nature Physics that reveals the sand–water ratio for the perfect sand castle. There's some research money well spent. Now, where would one get a dumptruck load of the "glass beads the size of sand grains" these guys used? Hey, when building a sand castle there's no sense settling for second best.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Today's Guardian has an edited extract from Scott Ritter's new book, Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of America's Intelligence Conspiracy. It's the same old stuff. For example, Ritter explains that he knew Saddam had given up his Weapons of Mass Destruction because the secret police – he graciously refers to them as Iraq's secret service – apparently told him so:
The Mukhabarat's priority was to get sanctions lifted - Iraq's number one national security priority. Its director had been told by Saddam Hussein himself that Iraq had disarmed, and no longer had any interest in developing any WMD capability. But sanctions could not be lifted until Unscom inspectors reached that conclusion for themselves.
Funny, those inside the regime weren't quite so sure:
So the Mukhabarat's objective was not to obstruct our work; quite the reverse, they had an interest in getting the Iraqi experts who were our counterparts to cooperate. Their problem was that these officials were petrified of the Special Security Organisation, run by Saddam's son Qusay Hussein. If their cooperation with Unscom was seen as compromising the regime's security, the consequences for the individuals involved would have been brutal.
So, according to Ritter, Saddam couldn't get his own scientists to do what he wanted them to. That doesn't sound like the maniacal dictator we all know and hate. Poor guy's family was obviously more dysfunctional than I thought.


Eureka, marine biologists have for the first time videoed a giant squid in action:
At 9:15am local time on September 30 2004, squids as we know them changed forever.

At that moment, 900 metres down in the Stygian gloom, an eight-metre specimen lunged at the lower bait bag, succeeding only in getting itself impaled on the hook.

For the next four hours, the squid tried to get itself off the hook as the camera snapped away every 30 seconds, gaining not only unprecedented pictures but also precious information about how the squid is able to propel itself.

After a monstrous battle, the squid eventually freed itself but left behind a giant tentacle on the hook.
I won't tell PETA if you won't. Just think of the hoola-hoop-size squid rings that went begging here.

Anyway, previous attempts to lure giant squid within camera range haven't been quite so successful:
In 2003, New Zealand marine biologists laid a sex trap.

They ground up some squid gonads, believing that the scent would drive male giant squids wild as the creatures migrated through New Zealand waters.

The hope was that a camera would squirt out the pureed genitals and a passing squid, driven into a sexual frenzy, would then mate with the lens - a project that some may be relieved to hear never came to fruition.
Now where would one get a 44 gallon drum of ground up squid gonads? The neighbourhood oriental market, of course.

Update: Has anyone seen Michael Moore lately. Here's an idea, take a camera, a whole Virginia ham and a really big hook ...


A recent government study, Schooling for the 21st Century, exposes the obvious:
It suggests that Australia's outcomes-based eduction system may be responsible for poor results in maths and science, and recommends that Australian curriculum be regularly checked against international benchmarks.
Not surprisingly, entrenched educrats don't agree:
But Victorian Education Minister Lynn Kosky says she is surprised by the report's findings.

"In Victoria we've got completion of year 12 or its equivalent at 86 per cent and we want to increase that," she said.
Big deal, quantity has nothing to do with quality. Take my word on this, Outcomes Based Education is a con.


The EU can turn anything into a complicated mess:
MEPs are set to adopt new rules on rail passengers, calling for minimum standards on compensation for both domestic and international journeys.

Parliamentarians also proposed deadlines for liberalisation of railways across Europe, and were to debate common criteria for train drivers in Tuesday's plenary session (27 September).

The parliamentary transport committee adopted several major amendments in the so-called Third Railway Package, proposed by the European Commission.

Belgian liberal MEP Dirk Sterckx, rapporteur on the rail passengers rights bill, had widened the scope of the legislation to domestic services, while the proposal from the Commission covers only international passengers.

He argues the original draft was confusing, as "passengers on the same train would fall under different rules", pointing to an example of people travelling from Brussels to Liverpool that would be covered by both international rules when sitting in Eurostar, and by different criteria for the domestic service from London to Liverpool.

Under the new rules, the railway services providers would also be considered responsible for wrong information on the internet or any leaflets on trains' timetables. They are also called upon to provide different ways of ticket distribution, without any additional charge for using internet or phone.

Passengers would be eligible to ask for compensation for the loss of luggage, delays, missed connections or cancellation of services, unless it was caused by exceptional weather conditions, natural disasters or the passengers themselves.

The minimum compensations for delays are supposed to cover 25 percent of the ticket's price for a 60 minute delay, 50 percent for 120 minutes and 75 percent for 180 minutes of delay.

The railways should also provide meals and overnight accommodation in cases of longer delays.

The proposal calls for better conditions for disabled persons and excludes fare discrimination for their accessibility of railway services.
Rules rule, in Europe anyway.


According to Louis Farrakhan there have been some very serious unreported goings-on in New Orleans:
"Mayor Nagin told us there was a 25-foot crater under the levee," Farrakhan explained, before cautioning that the New Orleans Democrat "didn't say there was a bomb. He just said there was a crater."

Farrakhan then added: "I say they blew it [up]."

In the same address to the Memphis Millions More rally, Farrakhan said Nagin told him that white racists used attack dogs and machine guns to keep blacks from escaping the Superdome.

"Mayor Nagin told us that those poor brothers and sisters that went to the Superdome, these were the ones who made it out of their houses but didn't have any money or means to get out of the city . . . So when the water began to rise around the Superdome, Mayor Nagin told them to get out and start marching over the bridge, the I-10, and get out of here. So they started marching. And when they got over that bridge into the next parish, which was white, they were met with attack dogs and machine guns."

Farrakhan claimed that Mayor Nagin told him warning shots were fired to keep the black evacuees at bay.

"This is Mayor Nagin talking to us," he told the Memphis gathering. "They fired the machine guns over the heads of the crowd. They accepted any white people that were there, but no black people."

Since his alleged meeting with Farrakhan, Mayor Nagin has had no public comment on the Nation of Islam chief's claim that his city's levees were deliberately destroyed.
Nagin and Farrakhan, what a lovely couple.

Update: a Farrakhan spokesman on Fox's Hannity and Colmes attributed the levee crater revelation to Hal Turner. Now there's a strange convergence if ever there was one.


There good news and better news from the protest outside the White House during which Cindy Sheehan was arrested:
There were chants of "Bush, why won't you see them" and a few bars of Give Peace a Chance from what seemed like veterans of the anti-Vietnam war protests, but the whole show, including a group of bare-breasted women chanting "breasts not bombs", was good-natured and peaceful.
Bare breasts at a peace protest, that's great. Even better, Cindy Sheehan kept her breasts under wraps.

Oh yeah, Sheehan's arrest was pretty much prearranged with the police: she'll be fined US$50 and was released as soon as she was processed. Screw it, they should have sent her to GITMO; the rotten bastards deserve to be tortured. I'll bet they'd even swap sides just to get the Hell away from her.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


A weekly al Qaeda internet newscast recently debuted. It even featured a weather segment of sorts:
The final segment was about Hurricane Katrina. "The whole Muslim world was filled with joy" at the disaster, the anchorman said. He went on to say that President Bush was "completely humiliated by his obvious incapacity to face the wrath of God, who battered New Orleans, city of homosexuals." Hurricane Ophelia's brush with North Carolina was also mentioned.
San Francisco stands warned.


This image appears with an ABC News article titled: "'Appalling' anti-terrorism laws draw criticism".

Surely the ABC isn't suggesting the Australian Army's the real threat: you know, like the SAS is going to launch armed raids all over the place, dragging innocents away into unjustified detention.

Nah, even the lefty dominated ABC wouldn't suggest something like that.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Or you will if you get caught picking up a prostitute in St Louis:
Facing incessant prostitution on city streets, St. Louis police have added shame and humiliation to their crime-fighting arsenal.

Their target: the johns. Their ammunition: a postcard.

"Thanks for your visit," the postcard begins. "The city of St. Louis, its residents and your neighbors would like to remind you that lewd, lascivious and/or suggestive behavior (including but not limited to prostitution, solicitation and street demonstration) are a violation of city ordinance and state law."

The postcards will be sent to the homes of those arrested on charges of picking up a prostitute.
Nothing like a bit of sarcasm with your shame and humiliation.


Richard Black, the BBC's Environment Correspondent, on the link between Global Warming and hurricanes:
Every time a hurricane comes along - or a flood, or a drought, or a freeze, or a heatwave - the question is now asked "is it linked to global warming?"

A decade ago, that was not the case - a clear signal that climate change is now firmly established in the public mind and in the political arena.

Now that climate scientists are being taken seriously, they are also under pressure to produce instant answers.

One problem is that not all of those answers exist. Another problem is that some scientists - not to mention lobby groups, environmental organisations, politicians, newspapers and commentators - will go much further in their public statements than the data allow.
As Julian Heming from the UK Meteorological Office explains it:
"Based on recent research, the consensus view is that we don't expect global warming to make a difference to the frequency of hurricanes."

"Activity is naturally very variable in terms of frequency, intensity and regional occurrence; in the Atlantic, there are active phases and not so active phases, and currently we're in the middle of an active phase."

"It's very dangerous to explain Rita or Katrina through global warming, because we have always had strong hurricanes in the USA - the strongest one on record dates back to 1935."
The BBC report is nicely balanced and well worth a read. The doom and gloom-mongers will find it disappointing.


Antony Loewenstein claims the weekend's peace protests were Earth-shakers. But, the newspaper report he links to doesn't support his claim of significance:
US National Park Service officials said they were not monitoring crowd size, but the turnout in both Washington and London appeared to be far less than the 100,000 protesters the organisers had predicted.
Kiwis did their bit, however:
About 150 protesters in Auckland, New Zealand, forced the closure of the main branch of a bank.
Are you paying attention, Rove?

Sunday, September 25, 2005


The New Scientist homepage prominently features the following oddly vague yet scary headline: "US army plans to bulk-buy anthrax". Upon reading the article the reason for the vagueness soon becomes clear:
THE US military wants to buy large quantities of anthrax, in a controversial move that is likely to raise questions over its commitment to treaties designed to limit the spread of biological weapons.

A series of contracts have been uncovered that relate to the US army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. They ask companies to tender for the production of bulk quantities of a non-virulent strain of anthrax, and for equipment to produce significant volumes of other biological agents.

Issued earlier this year, the contracts were discovered by Edward Hammond, director of the Sunshine Project, a US-German organisation that campaigns against the use of biological and chemical weapons.
The uncovering and discovering of these contracts shouldn't have required much effort because a solicitation for at least one of them was posted by the government in February.

It's also interesting that a non-virulent strain of anthrax would generate any questions or controversy. So, what's the big deal?
Major concern

Although the Sterne strain is not thought to be harmful to humans and is used for vaccination, the contracts have caused major concern.

"It raises a serious question over how the US is going to demonstrate its compliance with obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention if it brings these tanks online," says Alan Pearson, programme director for biological and chemical weapons at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington DC. "If one can grow the Sterne strain in these units, one could also grow the Ames strain, which is quite lethal."
Sounds like a bunch of lefties and their ongoing anti-military fret-fest. Surely they must have more to go on than a suspicion that maybe the military might be up to something:
It is not known what use the biological agents will be put to. They could be used to test procedures to decontaminate vehicles or buildings, or to test an "agent defeat" warhead designed to destroy stores of chemical and biological weapons.

Highly provocative

There are even fears that they could be used to determine how effectively anthrax is dispersed when released from bombs or crop-spraying aircraft. "I can definitely see them testing biological weapons delivery systems for threat assessment," says Hammond.
The major concern for lefties is that the United States Army might use this non-virulent strain of anthrax to better understand the threat posed by the virulent Ames strain. It's even possible, oh my God, that effective defenses and counter-measures might be devloped. We can't have the Army doing self-defense science, now can we?

Damned pathetic coming from "The World's No.1 Science & Technology News Service".

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Seven members of Germany's Left party are accused of collaborating with the old East Germany's secret police:
The head of Germany's state-held Stasi archive, Marianne Birthler, said she had documents to prove the MPs had worked as "inoffizielle mitarbeiter" (unofficial collaborators). The public had a right to know which MPs had collaborated, she said, adding: "It's a question of trust."

With neither Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats nor Angela Merkel's conservatives able to form a government on their own, the Left party's MPs could play a crucial role in a secret ballot for chancellor. Some have already hinted they might back Mr Schröder.
This isn't really surprising, now is it?


Hanging around with a bunch of hate crazed fanatics can be dangerous:
A massive explosion ripped through a crowd at a rally staged by the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip today, killing at least 10 Palestinians and wounding scores of others, medical officials said.

Hamas blamed Israel, which categorically denied any involvement in the blast. Witness accounts and some Palestinian Authority officials suggested that ordnance and weaponry being paraded by the group had accidentally exploded.
Not wanting to look like complete idiots Hamas has blamed the explosion on an Israeli air-strike. But that looks unlikely:
A jeep exploded during the parade that was attended by thousands of people at the Jabaliya refugee camp, in the first deadly incident in the territory since Israel completed its withdrawal.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group and the Palestinian interior ministry said Hamas is to blame.

The jeep was ferrying gunmen from the Islamic fundamentalist movement's armed wing to the open space set aside for festivities celebrating Israel's withdrawal from Gaza when the vehicle exploded, sending mangled body parts of militants and bystanders flying.

Palestinian witnesses said a crowd, including many children, swarmed around the truck moments before it blew up.
Fanatics, kids and weapons, now there's a disaster just waiting to happen.

Update: The explosion was a Middle East machismo thing:
A truck filled with masked militants and homemade weapons exploded at a Hamas rally Friday, killing at least 15 Palestinians and wounding 80 — including children — bringing a grisly and terrifying end to one of the last gatherings by armed groups celebrating Israel's Gaza pullout.

Mishandled explosives apparently caused the blast, which came a day before an agreement by militants not to publicly parade weapons is to take effect.

Witnesses said many children were among the casualties.

Since Israel left Gaza last week, ending a 38-year military occupation, militant groups have held rallies throughout the Mediterranean coastal strip. Masked militants paraded with rockets, grenades and rifles in celebrations lauding their campaign of suicide attacks and other violence as having forced Israel's withdrawal from land Palestinians claim for a future state.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, struggling to combat the chaos and the public display of arms in Gaza, wrested a pledge from militant groups to stop holding military-style parades with weapons after Saturday.

"There is absolutely no excuse to parade weapons in the streets," Palestinian National Security Adviser Jibril Rajoub said Friday. "The (militant groups) are merely trying to express their power and their capabilities. I would hope Palestinian society will soon be rid of all of these images."
I'm guessing these masked "militants" had really small penises.


At Antony Loewenstein's blog:
Sydneysiders, looking for something to do on the evening of Thursday, September 29?

Come down to The Salon:

Sydney's Monthly Arts & Debate night gets up close and personal with the USA and the American way of life.

The Debate - featuring:

NEVILLE MEANEY (Assoc. Professor - 20th Century American History, University of Sydney)
JAMES MORROW (Editor, Investigate & New Yorker)
ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN (Freelance Journalist and Author)
At the linked c-side page:
The Debate - featuring:

NEVILLE MEANEY (Assoc. Professor - 20th Century American History, University of Sydney)JAMES MORROW (Editor, Investigate & New Yorker)
ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN (Freelance Journalist, Editor & SMH Blogger)
Recently noted by Tim Blair:
A Sydney Morning Herald staffer called the other day, annoyed that I’d described Antony Loewenstein as an ex-SMH employee. “He was only a cadet at f2, the online network,” the whistleblower said. “I think he wrote a few book reviews for us, but he was never on staff at the SMH. Even f2 eventually had to let him go.”
As for editor, what's he edited?


Friday, September 23, 2005


Lefty academic Tim Dunlop reckons the pre-storm preparations for Rita are much improved because of the immediate and relentless post-Katrina attacks on the Bush administration. As far as I can tell, the response so far has been limited to those of Texas's state and local governments. To a Texan the difference is obvious: Texas isn't Louisiana.

I tried to post this as a comment at Dunlop's blog but it was repeatedly rejected as having questionable content. Since he doesn't display his email address – shy, I guess – it ended up here.


London suicide bomber Jermaine Lindsay and his Muslim-convert wife Samantha Lewthwaite have an interesting history:
The couple, who married in October 2002 after meeting on the internet, first came face-to-face at a Stop the War march in Hyde Park. He told her then he wanted to qualify as a human rights lawyer and had been a member of Amnesty International at school. He said he wanted to make a difference to the world by peaceful means.
Lindsay's attitude soon changed after the family moved to London:
“I firmly believe if we had stayed up North he would be the same [Lindsay],” she said in an interview with The Sun newspaper, “but he got involved in mosques in London and Luton and became a changed person. In October through to November 2004 he met a group who changed his life. He became a man I didn’t recognise. I have no doubt his mind was twisted in there.”
Like my dear departed dad always used to tell me, "you are who you hang around with".

Via: Watch


Nick at The Thin Man Returns links to a drink spiking study in Perth:
Emergency doctors at Perth's Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) have completed Australia's first medical study on drink spiking.

They found patients' symptoms were often caused by excessive alcohol and illicit drug use rather than sedatives.

"In the community there is a view that drink spiking occurs and that it is the scenario of an offender slipping a sedative into another person's drink, presumably to stupefy them in order to take advantage of them – this is what we used as the basic premise of our study," study leader Dr Mark Little said.

"Our research findings don't support that."
Not one of those reporting to hospital suspecting their drink had been spiked had actually been drugged, not by someone else anyway; they were simply very drunk. Just in case the absence of drink spiking is due to a lack of know-how the Otago University Critic has produced a drink spiking how-to manual:
An explicit date rape article in a Dunedin student magazine has outraged Police and Rape Crisis who say it is a "how-to" guide and revictimises rape victims.

Critic, run by the Otago University Student Association, ran the story outlining types and amounts of drugs to use, what drinks drugs are best concealed in and who is best to target.

The magazine says the item is intended to provoke awareness of the problem and Critic editor Holly Walker is standing by her decision to publish the article in the magazine's annual offensive edition.

"While it's couched in particularly offensive terms, the information that is in there is going to be useful for people preventing this kind of thing happening to them," says Walker.

She says drug information included is widely available on the internet and anyone who would commit date rape wouldn't need a student magazine to tell them how to do it.
Too much information is never enough.

The original Critic article is here but the page enlargements refuse to load. This could be because I'm using a Mac at the moment; the enlargements loaded fine earlier on a PC.


Back in August many people thought South Africa's deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was joking when she made what sounded like a threat:
"Land reform in South Africa has been too slow and too structured. There needs to be a bit of "oomph". That's why we may need the skills of Zimbabwe to help us. On agrarian and land reform, South Africa should learn some lessons from Zimbabwe, how to do it fast."
As it turns out, she wasn't joking:
South Africa's Government has announced the first acquisition by force of a white-owned farm.
Another African famine coming up. Oomph.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Despite Bush's tax cuts and the billions being poured into Iraq the United States budget deficit for 2005 – not including any spending on Katrina and Rita – is forecast as 2.9% of GDP. Europe's biggest economy has problems of its own:
The experts predict Germany's deficit to reach 3.9 percent this year, and it is estimated at 3.2 percent in 2010.

The main factor behind the gloomy picture is the country's sluggish economic growth, although it may be improved as a result of the Agenda 2010 economic reforms initiated by the previous red-green government.
What the hell is the German government spending its money on?


A group of New Orleans looters made a basic mistake:
"Some looters came up and pulled a gun on the wrong group of men," said Mr. Harris, adding that he did not fire a gun. He declined to say who else was involved in the battle.

"Two men were shot right there," Mr. Harris said, pointing down the street as he watered his rosebushes. "One was shot in the back, the other in the leg, and the third I was told made it a block and a half before he died in the street. I did not go down to see the body."
Cost effective and no messy Miranda rights violations.


Apparently, whites are to blame for Aboriginal parenting problems:
An Aboriginal pastor in Western Australia says the legacy of the Stolen Generations needs to be addressed before at-risk children are removed from their families.

The Pastor of the Ninga Mia Fellowship, Geoffrey Stokes, says the effects of the Stolen Generation are still being felt and removing children will only make the situation worse.

However, the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health believes the welfare of children should be the main priority, even if it means placing them with a non-Indigenous family.

Mr Stokes says if the Stolen Generations issues were resolved, the positive effects would filter through into everyday family life and children will no longer be placed at risk.

"It's a sore, and the sore won't be healed until you deal with it and until we deal with the issue concerning the Stolen Generations and squashing that out, then we can take care of the rest of the community and the family and the children," he said.
In other words, give us more money.


"A few cigarettes a day 'deadly' " blares the headline on the BBC homepage. But reality doesn't quite match the findings of the recent study that's the subject of the report:
Compared with those who had never smoked, the men and women who smoked between one and four cigarettes a day were almost three times as likely to die of coronary artery disease.

Among women, smoking one to four cigarettes daily increased the chance of dying from lung cancer almost five times.

Men who smoked this amount were almost three times as likely to be killed by lung cancer.

However, due to the relatively small number of men that this applied to in the study sample, this finding could have been due to chance.

The researchers believe their conclusions are accurate, even though they had to estimate the projected impact of smoking one to four cigarettes for five years in those light smokers who had smoked for less time.

Dr Ken Denson of the Thame Thrombosis and Haemostasis Research Foundation questioned the validity of the figures.

He said other large studies had not found that smoking fewer than 10 cigarettes daily increased the risk of heart disease.
Even though the study's findings are questionable that doesn't deter the true believers:
Amanda Sandford from Action on Smoking and Health said the conclusions were clear.

"This study should dispel the myth once and for all that smoking just a few cigarettes a day won't do you any harm.

"Quite simply, there is no safe level of smoking."
Yep, just like there's no safe level of living.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


A continuing theme of Antony "Leftard" Loewenstein's recent posts is the sad state of Australia's news media with particular emphasis on the obvious "pro-US, pro-privatisation and pro free-markets" bias of the Packer, Fairfax and Murdoch dominated press. (See the most recent example here with plenty more if you'd care to have a look around his archives.) Obviously Loewenstein sees himself as a purveyor of truth, counterbalancing the MSM's tilt. On the contrary, he's simply a lefty in the Margo Kingston mold, pushing an anti-Howard line.

In Loewenstein's offering in today's New Matilda, Fear Works, he gets stuck straight into Howard:
On the fourth anniversary of September 11, Prime Minister John Howard claimed (yet again) that the al-Qaeda attacks in New York and Washington 'were an attack on our way of life.' He's mouthed the same platitudes since that fateful day always hoping that a majority of Australians shared his perspective.

And sure enough, a recent World Vision report found that 31 per cent of Australians were worried about an increase in terrorism, while the worldwide average was 22 per cent. Howard and his media cheerleaders should be pleased with their efforts. They have created an environment that cleverly plays on people's fears about threats to our 'way of life' and our 'values'.

For liberal democracies, questioning and confronting this orthodoxy presents one of the greatest challenges since Cold War propaganda convinced millions that the (crumbling and inefficient) Soviets were actually determined to destroy our benign, capitalist, Western world.
Loewenstein's rewrite of Cold War history notwithstanding – Soviet desires to overwhelm the West and their inability to do so being distinctly different things – his attack on Howard as a purveyor of fear doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense because he has also alleged that involvement in Iraq has increased the likelihood of Australia suffering terrorist attack:
The Iraq war has created a terrorist threat far greater than existed before the invasion.
So, on the one hand, Loewenstein accuses the government of attempting to gain fear-inspired political advantage by overstating the terrorist threat. On the other hand Loewenstein claims the terrorist threat has actually increased and he actively spreads that message. It just doesn't make sense and doesn't have to because he's preaching to the converted.

Loewenstein's obvious manipulation of the truth doesn't bode well for the accuracy of his upcoming book. But if his current form is any indicator, it could be one funny read.

Update: Loewenstein describes his New Matilda column:
My latest New Matilda column is about Western "values", the media's war on terrorism and shameless propaganda...
Yep, he's a shameless propagandist alright.

Update II: In comments at Loewenstein's blog, commenter Anthony links to my post, describing it as a "review" of the New Matilda column. Loewenstein responds:
RWDB review? Er, that's one word for it. The man is going place, that's for sure...
Hardly the devastating rebuttal you'd expected from a journalist and author.



Euro-weenies are all upset about Italy's handling of illegals:
Following a visit to an Italian refugee camp on the island of Lampedusa, a group of socialist MEPs are accusing Italy of breaking human rights laws and the UN's refugee Convention.

The 12 MEPs say they were appalled by the state of the detention camp on Lampedusa, situated off the Sicilian coast, claiming it is run-down and lacking in fresh water and basic hygiene facilities.

They also say refugees' access to legal assistance and medical care is not safeguarded.

The Italian authorities have repeatedly received complaints about the overcrowded camp, however when the MEPs arrived they saw that their own delegation actually outnumbered the immigrants, with just 11 people residing in the compound.

Inhabitants of the island told MEPs that the immigrants had been flown out from the island three days earlier.

Martine Roure, a French socialist MEP, believes that the immigrants were deported to Libya without their legal status having been tested.
The map with the article has this elaboration attached:
Immigrants sail across the Mediterranean from Africa to Italy - only to be flown back immediately, say MEPs.
Sounds like a realistic and effective policy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


As usual, John Kerry is all negative:
In a blistering critique, Kerry said former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown was to Hurricane Katrina "what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq; what George Tenet is to 'slam dunk intelligence'; ... what George Bush is to 'Mission Accomplished' and 'Wanted Dead or Alive.' ...
Oh course, Kerry isn't immune to such an approach: what John Kerry is to winning a Presidential election; ... what John Kerry is to a sensible choice of life partner ... There must be loads of 'em.


Shadi Rahimi in The New York Times:
Before her son was killed in Iraq, Cindy Sheehan was just another wife and mother, unknown to most of America. But since camping outside of President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex., in August, she has become a starlet of the anti-war movement. On Sunday night she drew crowds in the hundreds for a speech in Brooklyn, and today she stole attention away from the Rev. Al Sharpton at a news conference this morning in Manhattan.
Sounds like a 6th magnitude starlet to me.

Monday, September 19, 2005


One business in New Orleans is ready to re-open:
On Bourbon Street in New Orleans' French Quarter, Big Daddy's strip club plans to feature its "bottomless, topless, tabletop dancing" as soon as the lights come back on, hopefully by Wednesday.

General manager Saint Jones said military and police patrons will line up down the block when the club opens its doors again. "We won't have to pat them down for guns, because we already know they've got them," he said.
Big Daddy's will be the safest place in town.


Just exactly what is North Korea promising?
The North "promised to drop all nuclear weapons and current nuclear programmes and to get back to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as soon as possible and to accept inspections" by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the statement said, quoted by the Associated Press.
Of course, the North might drop all of its nuclear weapons on the South and then embrace the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal sums up the elections:
"We have not had a single civilian casualty. It went very well, beyond our expectations. After all their boasting, it's a big failure for the Taliban."

Saturday, September 17, 2005


The Bush clan seems to have a thing for alcohol:
The youngest son of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and the nephew of President George W Bush, has been arrested in Austin, Texas, on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest.
Just imagine the reaction if cocaine was involved.

Friday, September 16, 2005


A new phone for Muslims is all the rage:
With the new gadget, worshippers are able to listen to chanted Quran verses, be summoned to prayers on time, and get an indication of the exact prayer direction they must face - the holy Saudi city of Mecca.

The service, which proved hugely popular in several Muslim countries, will hit the shelves in Holland starting next Monday. The device will help God fearing Muslims rid themselves of some common worries: Not only does the phone ring whenever it is time to attend prayer, it also automatically switches to "vibrate" mode while prayer is in session.

Cellular and Internet technologies have become issues of great concern in the Muslim religious world in recent years. It was lately reported that public pressure was being applied in the Gulf countries and Mauritania against Third Generation mobile phones. These gadgets enable users to take pictures and take part in chats, with Many Muslims worried that these features might encourage women to have affairs with men, or that women could be secretly photographed.
That vibrate mode must be a bit of a worry.

Rumour has it a phone that can ring the 7th century is in development.

Via: Clear and Present.


There could be a simple explanation for Bush's poor recent performance:
Washington insiders have been buzzing that President Bush's guru-in-chief - often called "Bush's Brain" - has been suffering from the painful urinary-tract malady for the past couple of weeks, causing him to miss some key Katrina strategy sessions.

I'm told that the 54-year-old deputy White House chief of staff - who apparently was feeling well enough yesterday to travel outside the nation's capital - visited the hospital, possibly twice, to relieve his agony since Labor Day.
Kidney stones.


The New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeals has reduced the sentences of evil, racist, scumbag gang-rapists Bilal and Mohammed Skaf:
When Bilal Skaf was sentenced to 55 years in jail for orchestrating a series of gang rapes, it was the longest sentence ever imposed for sexual assault crimes.

His brother Mohammed Skaf was originally sentenced to a maximum of 32 years in jail for his role in the attacks on several young women in Sydney's south-western suburbs in 2000.

But after the latest in a series of appeals, the Court of Criminal Appeal has today reduced Bilal Skaf's maximum sentence to 28 years in jail, while the longest his brother will now serve is 19 years.
The court found the attacks were not in the worst case category and that the sentences had been manifestly excessive.
Sure the crimes could have been worse but that's not the point; these unrepentant pricks have destroyed the lives of a number of young women and have no doubt profoundly affected the women's families:
The separate gang rapes were, in chronological order:

August 10, 2000 - Two females aged 17 and 18 accepted a lift from Chatswood, lured by the offer of marijuana. They were taken to Northcote Park, Greenacre, where they were forced to perform oral sex on eight males.

August 12, 2000 - Another victim was raped at gunpoint by two males at Gosling Park, Greenacre, having been lured there by one of the rapists, who was an acquaintance. She escaped before she could be raped by another twelve males waiting their turn.

August 30, 2000 - A woman, named C at the trial (she later revealed her identity on the 60 Minutes television program) was lured from a train at Bankstown by the promise of marijuana. She was then raped at three separate locations by 14 males over a period of six hours. As a final humiliation they hosed her down with water.

September 4, 2000 - Two 16 year old females were lured from Beverly Hills train station to a house in Lakemba, were they were raped by three males over a period of four hours.
These guys will never be functioning members of the community and should not be released, ever. And, there's no blaming their crimes on Iraq or Abu Ghraib.


New Scientist reports:
A massive global increase in the number of strong hurricanes over the past 35 years is being blamed on global warming, by the most detailed study yet. The US scientists warn that Katrina-strength hurricanes could become the norm.

Worldwide since the 1970s, there has been a near-doubling in the number of Category 4 and 5 storms – the strength that saw Hurricane Katrina do such damage to the US Gulf coastline late in August 2005.

Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, says the trend is global, has lasted over several decades and is connected to a steady worldwide increase in tropical sea temperatures. Because of all these factors, it is unlikely to be due to any known natural fluctuations in climate such as El Niño, the North Atlantic Oscillation or the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
Okay, I'm no expert on hurricanes or statistics but I have looked at the number of hurricanes to have struck the United States and the strengths of these storms. This supposed massive increase in category 4 and 5 storms didn't seem quite right.

To check the figures, I went to the National Hurricane Center's list of the most intense hurricanes to strike the United States during the period 1851-2004. (Bear in mind that the study above is for global hurricanes and the figures I cite are only for storms that actually struck the United States.) I then broke the figures into the following year groups to parallel the study as closely as possible. The breakdown for category 4 and 5 storms by period is as follows:
1901-1935 – 7
1936-1970 – 6
1971-2005 – 4 (Includes Katrina, not on NHC list)
It looks to me like the incidence of category 4 and 5 storms is actually decreasing. Then again, maybe this is nothing more than flawed Beck Logic™ – see at
If so, here's Fact-Check Boy's chance to set me straight.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


The BBC recently commissioned a poll, The Gallup International Voice of the People 2005, that questioned more than 50,000 people in 68 countries. Many of those surveyed obviously aren't too bright:
About a third of those asked thought more power should go to writers and academics.


A former marine attempts to describe the current conflict once known as the global war on terror (GWOT):
I suggest that we have entered an era that might be called, at least provisionally, the Wars of the Ways. Across the planet and its increasingly irrelevant national boundaries, three sets of human beings are involved.

• Those nations, peoples, regions, groups, and movements who partake of the 21st century, its freedoms and diversities and possibilities: those whose ways are those of prosperity, tolerance, and humane aspiration.

• Those who want out of the 21st century: jihadi, political extremists, violent racial and ethnic separatists, terrorists of other ilk (animal rights, ecological, etc.), male supremacists, leftover Marxist and traditional tyrants, and the gurus and gauleiters of philosophies and movements yet to be espoused—those whose ways would bring upon us new Dark Ages of hate, intolerance, oppression, and worse.

• Those who can't get into the 21st century: the three billion of us who live on under two a day, amid conditions of overpopulation, disease, and starvation, havoc, degradation, despair; most of the women of this planet; youth with no sense of opportunity and place—in sum, all those who may choose to live by the motto, "When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose."

The Wars of the Ways will pit those who partake, or desire to partake, of the 21st century, against those who want out, who will deliberately and cynically ally with those who can't get in, who will deliberately and cynically accept their help.
Read the whole thing.


European fishermen are Hoovering-up fish like never before:
Fishermen are continuing to use large scale drift nets in the Mediterranean despite an EU ban on the practice, while an environmental group claims to have proof that the fishermen are spending EU anti-drift net funds on new drift nets, or simply to fill their own pockets.

In a report sent to EU fishery ministers ahead of the fisheries council on Monday, maritime protection group Oceana accuses the EU of wasting tens of millions of euros on nothing.

The group has collected evidence that some of the fishermen take EU buy-out money to buy bigger and more damaging nets.
The fishermen claim the nets are the sole reason the industry doesn't flounder.


John Bruton, the EU's ambassador to the US, offers a suggestion to improve the Union:
He said that citizens should be able to elect one major figure in the EU, such as the commission president, which may bring them closer to the union.

"The President of the Commission might be elected by the people and put to the European Parliament for approval. People would feel there is at least one person they can change."
This should tell anyone with even half a brain the EU's a farce.


Lefties are all for sharing wealth, right? Well then, they should share:
It’s time for an egalitarian revolution. Liberal professors at Harvard, Princeton, Amherst, and Williams should follow the principles they proclaim and strongly support action to end campus disparities by redistributing educational wealth.

Congress should pass, and President Bush should sign, a hefty and progressive tax on large per student endowments. The funds should be transferred to poorer schools. The same tax should apply to future gifts from alumni.

And why stop there? If redistribution is good, the same concept should apply within universities. Why should the law schools at George Washington and Georgetown live in splendor just because their alumni make more money than theology or economics or anthropology majors? The wealth of these law schools should be transferred to poorer departments. Particularly economics!

Professors at rich schools will splutter that such taxes will sharply reduce incentives for alumni to make gifts. Are we to believe that graduates of Yale are so narrow-minded and selfish that they only want to help Yalies? Surely Yale, Princeton, Williams, and Grinnell alums will give just as freely knowing that their gifts are helping students at poorer schools, particularly since they were taught primarily by liberal professors devoted to income redistribution.
It ain't gonna happen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Tim "Fact-Check Boy" Lambert recently attacked Tim "Ban-Boy" Blair for attacking Antony "Leftard" Loewenstein. Lambert wrongly alleges Blair called Loewenstein a coward for refusing to telephone debate irate caller Austen Tayshus. Actually, Blair calls Loewenstein a coward for refusing to accept Tayshus's challenge to a public debate.

Lambert also accuses Blair of misrepresenting Loewenstein by quoting him out of context. When challenged on this in comments Lambert refused to respond. Lambert eventually updated but only after Blair picked up my comment and posted it as an update to the original post attacking Loewenstein. Lambert's update attacks my logic as flawed but does not elaborate. He also modified his position on Blair's post, now claiming Loewenstein's post had been doctored.

In amongst this activity I posted a response at Lambert's to a comment from Ian Gould – as usual he'd become involved to take the pressure off Lambert by drawing the thread off topic. My response was perfectly reasonable but did include something like, "Crtn. (I disemvoweled that to save TL the effort.)" I was taking a shot at both Gould and Lambert: I was insinuating Gould is a cretin – or cretan depending on your understanding of the Christopher Sheil inside joke – without actually calling him a cretin; I was also making light of Lambert's stated policy of removing the vowels from trollish comments. Anyway, Lambert removed the whole post. Despite my repeated requests, Lambert refuses to explain which of his commenting rules I violated. Is this guy scared or ashamed, or both. I mean, getting it wrong is no crime.

Lambert bounces my links so you'll need to copy and paste
to read Lambert's post and comments (my last is #72) – it has all of the relevant links. Decide for yourselves who the real hypocrite is, Blair for posting an excerpted quote or Lambert for performing a petty commentectomy and then refusing to explain.

Update: Comments are now up to 75 and Lambert still refuses to address me directly but does answer questions asked on my behalf. Must be a computer-geek academic, lack-of-maturity thing.


Just when lefties had almost convinced me the war is all about oil, I come to find out Iraq is about selling weapons. I feel like such a fool.


Over the past few days there's been heaps of traffic back and forth across the Gaza-Egypt border:
With the Israelis gone, Gazans dug under walls and climbed over barriers to get to Egypt, where they stocked up on cheap cigarettes, medication and cheese. Egyptian forces on Monday fatally shot a Palestinian during the mad rush, witnesses said.
Egyptian cheese, it's to die for.

Via: Watch

Update: Man, that must some good cheese:
Hamas militants have destroyed a section of a concrete barrier erected along the Gaza-Egypt border.

In chaotic scenes, thousands of Palestinians have streamed over the border in the last few days without undergoing official checks.


Those crafty Jews scored invaluable public relations points by leaving intact Gaza synagogues for hapless Palestinians to destroy. This was in conjunction with a paid public relations campaign:
Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses yesterday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps, and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.

American Jewish donors had bought more than 3,000 greenhouses from Israeli settlers in Gaza for $14 million last month and transferred them to the Palestinian Authority. Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who brokered the deal, put up $500,000 of his own money.
Yep, Jews are cunning like rats.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Straight from the lefty dictator playbook:
State governors and the rural poor are moving quickly to implement President Hugo Chavez's vision of a social revolution, carving up and redistributing large landholdings and threatening to take over the premises of internationally owned companies.

There has been none of the violence and mayhem that accompanied land seizures in Zimbabwe in recent years, but economists and angry land owners fear that -- as in Zimbabwe -- the takeovers will destroy a productive agriculture sector and undermine the economy.
Fidel can help with cheap sugar.


Last night on Lateline Tony Jones asked John Pilger if he'd risk possible imprisonment by reiterating that Australian forces in Iraq are "legitimate targets". Pilger responded, "I'm always prepared to go to jail for speaking the truth".

What are the chances Pilger will ever tell the truth about anything? He could have answered the question with a simple yes or no but wouldn't, despite being asked three times.


Abu Ghraib's repercussions continue to ripple through America:
Sheriff's deputies removed 11 children from a home where they were locked in cages less than 3 1/2 feet high, authorities said.

The children's adoptive and foster parents, Mike and Sharen Gravelle, denied that they'd abused or neglected the children during a custody hearing Monday in Huron County. No charges had been filed as of Monday night.
Just thought I'd beat the lefties to the punch on this one.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Mercenaries just sounds so much better than security guards:
Hundreds of mercenaries have descended on New Orleans to guard the property of the city's millionaires from looters.

The heavily armed men, employed by private military companies including Blackwater and ISI, are part of the militarisation of a city which had a reputation for being one of the most relaxed and easy-going in America.

Two Israeli mercenaries from ISI, another private military company, were guarding Audubon Place, a gated community. Wearing bulletproof vests, they were carrying M16 assault rifles. Gill, 40, and Yovi, 42, who refused to give their surnames, said they were army veterans of the Israeli war in Lebanon, but had been living in Houston for 17 years.
Yikes, Texas Jews with guns! Blood will replace water in the flooded streets of New Orleans.

Update: In the sense that these security guards are hirelings they are mercenaries. They are, however, not mercenaries in the accepted sense:
Main Entry: mer·ce·nary: one that serves merely for wages; especially :a soldier hired into foreign service.
Update II: Those arriving via Tim Blair's link might want to click here to read about my ongoing stoush with Tim "Fact-Check Boy" Lambert. Blair started it.


What does the future hold for Europe?
As the Muslim populations -- and their level of cultural and religious assertiveness -- expand, European geography will be "reclaimed" for Islam. Europe will become pockmarked with "little Fallujahs" that effectively will be impenetrable by anything much short of a U.S. Marine division.

Not only will Islamic cultural aggression against a seemingly passive and apologetic indigenous population increase, but the zone of safety and support for the actual terrorists will expand as well.

If the current leaders of Europe do not respond to the Islamist threat boldly and effectively, the common European people might decide to defend their culture as vigilantes. In that case, Europe again will become a bloody urban battleground.

This would be a temporary tragedy for liberal principles of governance, but at least would secure Europe from Muslim domination over the next half-century.

The harm of a vigilante effort against the radical Islamists can be mitigated, if not avoided, if the governments themselves will lead the struggle for European cultural survival.
Another European war? Nah, it could never happen.


Academic John McWhorter on black poverty in America:
As it quickly became clear that there was a certain demographic skew among the people stranded in New Orleans, journalists began intoning that Hurricane Katrina had stripped bare the continuing racial inequity in America.

The extent to which this was hidden is unclear, actually. An awareness that a tragic disproportion of black Americans are poor has been a hallmark of civic awareness among educated Americans for 40 years now.

The problem is less a lack of awareness than a lack of understanding. The publicly sanctioned take is that “white supremacy” is why 80% of New Orleans’s poor people are black. The civics lesson, we are to think, is that the civil rights revolution left a job undone in an America still hostile to black advancement.

In fact, white America does remain morally culpable — but because white leftists in the late 1960s, in the name of enlightenment and benevolence, encouraged the worst in human nature among blacks and even fostered it in legislation. The hordes of poor blacks stuck in the Superdome last week wound up there not because the White Man barred them from doing better, but because certain tragically influential White Men destroyed the fragile but lasting survival skills poor black communities had maintained since the end of slavery.
There is no such thing as a free ride.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


The inaugural Edward Said Memorial Lecture at Adelaide University will be delivered in October by – drumroll – the winner of numerous journalism awards, Robert Fisk.

Regarding Fisking, or to Fisk, it's worth noting:
While the term seems to imply that Fisk is a habitually bad reporter, Fisk has received several journalism awards, including the British International Journalist of the Year award seven times although, as famously demonstrated by Walter Duranty and a long list of others, journalism awards are not always proof of ethical standards or truth in reporting.
There may well be a great reporter in there somewhere but the guy's been nothing more than a lying lefty for as long as I can remember.

Update: Those arriving via Tim Blair's link might want to click here to read about my ongoing stoush with Tim "Fact-Check Boy" Lambert. Blair started it.


Bush has upset lefties by using a provision of the 1931 Davis–Bacon Act to issue an executive order allowing contractors in Katrina devastated areas to pay less than prevailing wages:
Bush's action came as the federal government moved to provide billions of dollars in aid, and drew rebukes from two of organized labor's biggest friends in Congress, Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats.

"The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities," Miller said.
Jeez, the left is always upset about something Bush has done. This, as usual, is another anti-Bush beat up:
On September 8, President George W. Bush exercised the power granted to him in the Davis-Bacon Act and suspended that Act’s application to federally funded construction projects in the Gulf Coast areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. With this step, President Bush eliminated the wage premium that Davis-Bacon effectively requires for those hired to work on federal construction projects, reducing the costs of reconstruction. As a result, federal aid to the Gulf States will now yield more benefits to the region’s beleaguered residents and hasten the recovery effort.

As written, Davis-Bacon requires that contractors working on federally funded construction projects pay all of their workers the area’s “prevailing wage,” as determined by the Wage and Hourly Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. Study after study has demonstrated that these so-called prevailing wages are much higher than an area’s market-based wages and thus lead to higher costs for federal projects. Recognizing that this cost inflation can be especially counterproductive (as opposed to merely counterproductive) during an extreme emergency, the law allows the president to suspend its application when tragedy strikes. Since the law’s enactment during the Depression, it has been suspended three times previously: once by President Roosevelt, once by President Nixon, and most recently by President George Herbert Walker Bush in the aftermath of hurricane Andrew in 1992.

President George W. Bush is to be commended for showing the courage to take this important but controversial stand as the Gulf Coast region enters this difficult period of recovery and reconstruction. In the days that follow, he will confront many similar challenges and have to make many similarly difficult decisions, and not all of his choices will be popular with influential groups. In the case of the Davis-Bacon suspension, for example, some union leaders and their supporters in Congress will certainly be angry at the prospect of losing an unfair advantage, even if that advantage would have come at the expense of those whose lives have been destroyed by Katrina.

While the potential cost savings from suspending Davis-Bacon are significant, the moral dimension of the President’s decision is also of consequence because he took the initiative to suspend a federal regulation which was originally intended to deny economic opportunity to African-American workers in the South. Introduced in Congress in the early days of the Depression by Senator Davis of Pennsylvania and Representative Bacon of New York, the bill came in response to a building contract that the federal government awarded to a company whose low bid was based in part on its intention to use lower-cost African-American workers from the South on the project. By forcing all contractors to pay above-market wages, contractors no longer had the incentive to use less costly Southern workers—and could thus afford to discriminate by race because there was no longer any incentive to hire less expensive labor. As Alabama’s Rep. Clayton Allgood noted at the time, “Reference has been made to a contractor from Alabama who went to New York with bootleg labor. This is a fact. That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.”
Well, that puts that in perspective, don't it.

Via: Tim Dunlop.


Pity the poor Poms:
Richard Layard, the eminent professor and Labour peer, will say tomorrow that people suffering from depression are given little 'except a few minutes with the GP and some pills'.

Layard, who wrote the Downing Street strategy paper, 'Mental Health: Britain's Biggest Social Problem?', will say there is a 'mass of suffering' with half of all those with clinical depression receiving no help. He will call for 10,000 new therapists to be trained over the next five to 10 years.
What could be more depressing than the thought of 10,000 new therapists?


Visiting American school teacher Scott Parkin has been arrested and will possibly be deported:
[Parkin] was arrested yesterday after the Department of Immigration (DIMIA) revoked his visa because, the Anti-Deportation Alliance says, he is considered a threat to national security.

Mr Parkin's legal adviser, Marika Dias, says he has attended a number of protests in Australia but has done nothing wrong.
A tourist school teacher with a legal adviser, cool. American's obviously pay their school teachers better than I thought. Anyway, plenty of lefties are upset about Parkin's arrest:
Dan Cass, from Greenpeace, says Mr Parkin is Australia's first political prisoner.

"The detention and expulsion of Scott Parkin is the thin edge of the wedge," Mr Cass said.

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown wants to know who ordered Mr Parkin's deportation.

"I'd like to know whether the orders for his arrest came from the Pentagon," he said.
Pathetic Aussies obviously can't think for themselves. Or just maybe Parkin's arrest has something to do with his activities here in Oz:
At least 10 anti-globalisation protesters have been arrested in clashes with police during a demonstration against an international conference of business leaders in Sydney.

Protest organiser Scott Parkin said the demonstration outside a Kent St building was aimed at a company called KBR, which he described as a subsidiary of the US oil energy group Halliburton, headed in the 1990s by Dick Cheney, now the US Vice President.
Wonder who Scott Parkin is taking his orders from? No matter, send him packing.

Update: There's a discussion over at Lavatory Rodeo.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Maureen Dowd gets stuck into Bush and FEMA:
FEMA was a disaster waiting to happen, the minute a disaster struck.
Not counting Katrina, six of the 10 costliest hurricanes – in dollar terms – to strike the US have struck on Bush's watch. Maybe it's that my memory is failing as I get older but I can't remember any notable complaints about FEMA's performance, even as a large chunk of Florida was pretty much wiped slick in 2004. Maybe it's that Dowd's a whining, blame allocating, lefty moron.