Monday, October 31, 2005


Joe Wilson has a big sad about the premature termination of the wife's undercover CIA career as a result of Robert Novak's leak:
Wilson, a former career diplomat, said Plame, 42, was in shock when she saw her name and that of her fictitious employer published in a syndicated column by Robert Novak.

"She felt like she'd been hit in the stomach. It took her breath away," Wilson said.

"When he published her name-- it was very easy to unravel everything about her, her entire cover," Wilson said. "You live your cover."

Asked whether she realized then that her career as a CIA undercover agent was over, Wilson said: "Absolutely. Sure. There was no doubt about it in her mind. And she wondered for what."

Funny how she didn't already know her undercover career was finished:
June 1997 – Joseph Wilson returns to Washington DC as Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. At about the same time, Plame also moves back to the United States (Wilson, Politics 240), in part because the CIA suspects her name was leaked to the Russians in 1994. ( Vanity Fair, Jan. ‘04) .
Hey, how smart can she be? Look what she married. Anyway, she's now a celebrity and undoubtedly has a book in the works.


How cool is this?
TERRORIST bomb makers beware: your bad breath may catch you out. A portable breathalyser has been developed that can detect traces of chemicals found in explosives when they are exhaled by people who have handled them.

The device, called Heartsbreath, was developed by Michael Phillips and colleagues at Menssana Research in Fort Lee, New Jersey. It was originally intended for medical diagnosis, using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to analyse volatile organic markers in the breath, and has already been used to detect early-stage lung cancer. Last year it was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for detecting heart transplant rejection.

Because chemicals from explosives can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and stored in body tissue, Phillips wondered whether the technology could help either convict or acquit terror suspects.

He tested people who handled explosives as part of their daily work and found that they exhaled a range of plasticisers and other volatile compounds that were not exhaled by people who hadn't been in contact with explosives. He also breathalysed people before and after giving them samples of explosives to handle, including TNT, dynamite and C-4.
The excerpt above is from an article at New Scientist.


Me, I'm proud to call Australia home. Antony Loewenstein doesn't share my pride, defining Australia as a culturally immature land populated by beer swilling louts. Germany, by contrast, is a land of cultured book lovers.

With an unemployment rate of over 10%, Germans need something to do in their spare time, other than make kiddy porn, that is. As for alcohol abuse, it appears that Germany's problem is similar in size and scope to Australia's.
If Loewenstein has any sense, he won't try to define anything again, ever. What are the chances?


Sunday, October 30, 2005


David Copperfield says he's going to impregnate a woman on stage without touching her:
"In my next show I'm going to make a girl pregnant on stage."

He added: "Naturally it will be without sex. Everyone will be happy about it, but I'm not telling you any more."
For Copperfield sex without touching is nothing new; it was the same with Claudia Schiffer.


As expected, Islamists were behind the Delhi bombings:
An obscure Kashmiri militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for bomb blasts in India's capital which killed at least 57 people, but analysts said it was probably a front for a larger Pakistan-based group.

New Delhi has so far refused to blame anyone for Saturday's trio of blasts, but security experts see the hand of Lashkar-e-Taiba (Force of the Pure) behind the attacks, in an attempt to derail the peace process between India and Pakistan.

On Sunday, the Islami Inqilabi Mahaz (Islamic Revolutionary Group), telephoned local newspapers in Indian Kashmir to claim responsibility for the blasts and warned of more to come.

"This is a Pakistani group and is a front organization of Lashkar," said Ajai Sahni of New Delhi's Institute for Conflict Management. These front organisations are often used to muddy the waters and deflect blame from their parent groups, especially when civilian casualties are high, he said.

The threat of additional bombings hasn't brought life to a standstill:
Domestic and foreign tourists, who regularly come here, were walking around and taking photographs. Hawkers and icecream-sellers were doing brisk business.

"It is a sad event but life has to go on," said Meenakshi Dutta, a tourist from Kolkata.

Yes indeed.


Tim G commenting in the Fitzmas thread at Road to Surfdom:
I must say that I can't really muster much enthusiasm for Plamegate. When one considers the real damage done by these people and their naive and incompetent foreign adventurism, and the thousands of people who have died needlessly as result, perjury seems like extremely small beer - it's like prosecuting Hannibal Lecter for his poor kitchen hygiene.
To which Glenn Condell responds:
This is aimed precisely at those responsible for that policy and those deaths. You can't prosecute people for naivety or adventurism. If the dead are to be avenged, or at least honored, their killers need to be prosecuted for crimes on the books.

This is a way into the prewar cooking of intelligence, that's the issue. Treason has been committed and Americans have died as a direct result of these crimes. Not to mention some Iraqis. Niger was forged either by or with the connivance of American office bearers in order to either mislead the President or do his bidding, so that he could utter the 16 words in making the case for war. There are disturbing signs the attempted smears of George Galloway, and perhaps of Scott Ritter and Hans Blix came from the same laboratories, probably in Israel and funnelled thru Feith's OSP (probably via Italian intel ops beholden to neocons and linked by Michael Ledeen) and hence to WHIG and media outlets friendly to these schemes, such as the Telegraph London, where the involvement of Richard Perle and Henry Kissinger raises questions I have unfortunately never seen asked, let alone answered, anywhere. All of these efforts were aimed at crippling impediments to the war juggernaut the gathering momentum.

Where does responsibility ultimately lie for these deceptions; how high up the food chain? How do we prevent this from occurring again? How can we re-establish a culture of official accountability in our government? And possibly, how do we stop this madness before it destroys the Republican party, a far less solid coalition of odd bods than it appears at first glance?

These are the real drivers. And it's not just perjury, it's the exposure of a spy engaged in work related to the safety of the realm for partisan and/or arse protective purposes.

I agree there are regions of irresponsibility and even further criminality across the range of Bushco activities that are more important in the long run, but I can't think of a better way of approaching the task of mending what's been broken on those fronts than the cool, relentless, pinpoint exposure of the corruption these people cheerfully indulged in so that their grand designs could be realised under false pretences.
All those people who have needlessly died, sacrificed to the ruthless, self-absorbed Leninist groupthink of the people Fitzgerald is after are, if not avenged, at least paid due respect as victims of wrongdoing with the pursuit of the people who engineered the circumstances of their deaths.

If you lie about war you'll lie about anything and I think exposure and pursuit of other issues will after this be likely to encounter far less obstruction tha previously. Katrina helped too.
Glenn will want to be careful going through the door opened for him by Fitzgerald, there's no telling where it might lead.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


From the very begging of the investigation into Valerie Plame's outing it seemed to me the whole undertaking was probably a huge waste of time and money. The indictment of Scooter Libby hasn't changed my opinion on this. But I must confess I haven't really paid much attention before today.

Anyway, I eventually got around to reading a transcript of Fitzgerald's indictment press conference. He doesn't exactly come across as the no nonsense straight shooter he's made out to be. Some of his answers are evasive and his attempted baseball analogy is downright loony:
QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, this began as a leak investigation but no one is charged with any leaking. Is your investigation finished? Is this another leak investigation that doesn't lead to a charge of leaking?

FITZGERALD: Let me answer the two questions you asked in one.

OK, is the investigation finished? It's not over, but I'll tell you this: Very rarely do you bring a charge in a case that's going to be tried and would you ever end a grand jury investigation.

I can tell you, the substantial bulk of the work in this investigation is concluded.

FITZGERALD: This grand jury's term has expired by statute; it could not be extended. But it's in ordinary course to keep a grand jury open to consider other matters, and that's what we will be doing.

Let me then ask your next question: Well, why is this a leak investigation that doesn't result in a charge? I've been trying to think about how to explain this, so let me try. I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something.

Whatever he was trying to do, he didn't pull it off: he rambles all over the place and never does answer the question. Read the whole transcript and see for yourself.


Yep, Islamic terrorists have a fixation on airplanes:
An Islamic terror cell has smuggled two surface-to-air missiles into Europe in a plot to shoot down planes at one of France's main airports, it was claimed yesterday.

French and Algerian extremists with links to al-Qa'eda bought the Russian SA-18 Grouse missiles from Chechens in 2002 and smuggled them via Georgia and Turkey, according to French anti-terror sources quoted in Le Figaro.

Both missiles and several of the extremists are reportedly still at large.
Imagine the chaos if these loons bring down a plane.

Via: Watch


Three Indonesian Christian girls won't go to school ever again:
Three Christian teenage girls were beheaded in the latest attack against non-Muslims in the troubled Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi, police said.

The three high school students were found with their heads severed early on Saturday in the sectarian-divided town of Poso, said provincial police spokesman Rais Adam.

The girls were believed to have been murdered while they were walking to school, Mr Adam said.

He said two of the victims' heads were found near a police post while the third was discovered outside a local Christian church in Poso.

"We are still waiting for results from investigation in the field. We are still trying to determine whether this case is religiously-motivated or not," he said.
If I were a betting man...

Update: Reuters has more details:
Men in black clothes and masks beheaded three teenage Christian girls on Saturday in eastern Indonesia as they walked to school near the Muslim town of Poso, officials said.

National police spokesman Aryanto Budiharjo said up to six men in black clothes and masks attacked the students in Bukit Bambu village, on the eastern island of Sulawesi.

"The perpetrators wore black attire and veils and they used machetes to slash (the victims)," he told reporters in Jakarta.

The three headless bodies of the high school students, dressed in brown uniforms, were left at the site of the attack. Three heads were found at separate locations two hours later by residents.

Poso, 1,500 km (900 miles) northeast of the capital Jakarta, is in an area where Muslim-Christian clashes killed 2,000 people until a peace deal was agreed in 2001.

Although religious fighting has largely subsided, tension is still high in the region following bombings in the neighbouring Christian town of Tentena which killed 22 people in May.
It looks like the peace deal is well and truly done.

Update II: There's nothing much new to report but a Yahoo News item does add this:
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, but Central Sulawesi has a roughly equal number of Muslims and Christians. The province was the scene of a bloody sectarian war in 2001-2002 that killed around 1,000 people from both communities.

At the time, beheadings, burnings and other atrocities were common.

A government-mediated truce succeeded in ending the conflict in early 2002, but there have since been a series of bomb attacks and assassinations of Christians. These included a blast at a market in Poso, a predominantly Christian town, that killed 22 people in May.

Christian leaders have repeatedly accused authorities in Jakarta of not doing enough to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

The Christian-Muslim conflict in Sulawesi was an extension of a wider sectarian war in the nearby Maluku archipelago in which up to 9,000 perished between 1999 and 2002.

Update III: In a tangentially related story:
Another girls' school has been torched in Afghanistan, which is battling insurgents loyal to the ousted fundamentalist Taliban regime that banned education for women, an official has said.

The primary school, 65 kilometres from Kabul in Logar province, was under renovation and the girls were studying in tents, provincial criminal investigation director Qudratullah Arabzai told AFP.

"The school, the tents, the chairs, generator and a vehicle were destroyed in the fire," Mr Arabzai said.

The building, torched late on Saturday, was the fourth to be burnt in the same district since the collapse of the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001, he said.

Four years after the Taliban were removed, school enrolment among girls remains among the lowest in the world, with less than 10 per cent of girls enrolled in secondary schools, according to a UN report this month.
It's pretty easy to figure the root cause for this.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Reuters reports that a growing number of Americans are anti-science. To bolster the anti-science claim the report cites the unfortunate case of Terri Schiavo and an outlandish example of fundamentalist brainwashing:
The school board of Dover, Pennsylvania, is being sued by parents backed by the American Civil Liberties Union after it ordered schools to read students a short statement in biology classes informing them that the theory of evolution is not established fact and that gaps exist in it.

The statement mentioned intelligent design as an alternative theory and recommended students to read a book that explained the theory further.
Jesus H Christ, what about the kiddies' constitutional right not to read?


Muslim feminists meeting in Spain have called for a "gender jihad" to improve the plight of women. So, why are Muslim feminists meeting in Spain?
The congress is in Spain, organisers say, because they want their message to reach the growing number of Muslim women in Europe.
And because such a meeting wouldn't go over well, or even be allowed, in most Muslim countries.


Keith Alder, former head of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC), thinks it immoral for Australia to mine and export uranium but not take back nuclear power-plant waste for disposal:
"If you're prepared to dig the stuff up and sell it to people to generate electricity, then you have a moral responsibility to look after them."
Of course, if you buy this line of reasoning you must also think oil, coal and gas exporting countries have a moral obligation to do something about carbon dioxide emissions.


Iraq isn't Vietnam but lefties are lefties, no matter what:
Many observers have noticed that Democrats of the left speak of Iraq as another Vietnam. Few have explained why: Because Democrats of the left want Iraq to be another Vietnam. Not that they took pleasure in Vietnamese suffering, but they rejoiced in the left-wing power surge that transformed the United States in the aftermath. Naturally, they hope to repeat that experience: to humiliate Republicans, moderate Democrats and the military by pinning the label "bloody failure" on another foreign war.

It's not going to happen.

Iraq is nothing like Vietnam, and the public knows it. In the recent referendum, 63% of Iraqi voters cast ballots. Each vote screamed defiance at terrorism and defeatism. Each vote told the world that terrorism will lose and democracy will win, that Iraqis trust the United States to help protect them against vengeful insurgents bent on murdering whoever dares to hope and care and vote.

An impressive 78% voted "yes" on the new constitution. Sunni Muslims said no, but many said it at the ballot box. The referendum made clear that ordinary people everywhere do want to govern themselves. Democracy could have worked in Vietnam too.

This nation will abandon the Democratic Party before it abandons Iraq.
No matter how you look at it, the left doesn't seem to have a viable policy for exiting Iraq: they're not about to commit to winning and they're doomed if they force us to lose.


Mark Steyn on the problems confronting Republicans, and Democrats:
For a week now, I’ve woken up to emails beginning ‘Happy Fitzmas, asshole!’ — a seasonal greeting from prematurely ejaculating lefty gloaters. ‘Fitzmas’ is the Left’s designation for that happy day when federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald hands down indictments against Libby, Rove, and maybe Cheney, and — boy oh boy, who knows? — maybe Chimpy Bushitlerburton himself. Pat Fitzgerald has been making his list, checking it twice, found out who’s naughty or nice, and he’s ready to go on a Slay Ride leaving Bush the Little Drummed-Out Boy and the Dems having a blue blue blue blue blue-state Christmas in November 2006, if not before.
It's written for a British audience and the Spectator's registration system is a pain but you really do want to read this Steyn piece. Do it.

Oh yeah, speaking of prematurely ejaculating lefty gloaters, there's this.


Simon Jenkins, in the Guardian, on the giant Romney Marsh wind farm:
The turbines are near pointless. Their cost per megawatt is double that of even the most costly nuclear power. Since wind power is intermittent (under half of the time), the latest figures from Germany's grid indicate that they will require back-up from conventional stations kept running at 80% of the turbines' capacity. This renders the actual saving in greenhouse gases marginal, if not trivial. The statement by Npower that each unit from the Romney turbines will displace an equivalent unit of fossil fuel just cannot be true, any more than its statement that they will "prevent the annual release of 130,000 tonnes of CO2". To "cleanse" one coal-fired station is better value for money.

Given the energy that goes into building and backing up turbines there are moves, I am told, to declare turbine power no longer "green" for global warming purposes. The programme survives on £1bn of subsidies so that ministers can be seen to be making cosmetic sacrifices in the cause of global warming. Turbines waving across someone else's backyard deflect attention from the government's failure to invest in more dependable renewables such as water, wave and biomass, and in nuclear energy.
Nuclear power has another usually ignored advantage over wind farms:
As for landscape destruction per megawatt hour, there is no contest. Nuclear wins.
Supporting wind power isn't about making the right choices for the future, it's about feeling good about yourself. The road to hell...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


After taking a virtual pounding over the past few days, Antony Loewenstein goes on the offensive:
Australia's proposed anti-terror laws may make opposition to illegal military operations a punishable offence, so let it be said once again: the Iraq quagmire has made us a greater terrorist target and has created the perfect breeding ground for Islamists with a grievance against the West and its arrogance. The defeat of America and its allies in Iraq is vital to ensure similiar acts are not carried out again.
Loewenstein's obviously trying to generate controversy with an eye to creating greater interest in his yet to be published book. Thus, Loewenstein parrots Pilger's "we must be defeated" plea. While he doesn't say so directly, Loewenstein clearly regards coalition forces as legitimate targets, an unspecified number of which must be killed in order to teach America and her allies a lesson.

Loewenstein's contention that Australia's involvement in Iraq has increased the liklihood of a terrorist attack is also self-serving given that he has criticized the government for exaggerating the threat:
Attorney General Philip Ruddock continues his irresponsible comments and says that Australians should be nervous about a terrorist attack on home soil. With a recent report stating that there are around 60 suspected Islamic extremists in Australia, Ruddock gives no indication of what his government is doing to stop these supposed extremists.
But when the government proposes laws to do deal with the threat, Loewenstein sees the legislation as grossly inappropriate:
After the intelligence failures of Iraq and the dysfunctional immigration department, allowing police and ASIO officers such powers smacks of political opportunism, crass populism and wedge politics.
All of this tempts me to purchase Loewenstein's book when it eventually becomes available. You know, to see what lunacy it contains. It seems his any-publicity-no-matter-how-foolish-it-makes-me-look-is-good-publicity startegy is working. Hey, it's always possible he's not as dumb as I thought; he hasn't tried to define anything in over 24 hours.

Update: In comments, the always measured Currency Lad calls it like it is:
A member of my family is serving in Iraq. Lowenstein wants him to be killed. I'd love to see him say that to the person concerned. Or that person's spouse. Or his mates in uniform.

Complete. Fuckwit.



Professor Chris French a psychology expert at London's Goldsmiths College reached a startling conclusion after researching "alien abductions":
"Maybe what we're dealing with here is false memories, and not that people are actually being abducted and taken aboard spaceships."
Well, duh.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Maybe it's time to reconsider the whole Depleted Uranium is harmless thing.


Theodore Dalrymple interprets the possible meanings of an intriguing photo:
A photograph exhibited at the Istanbul Biennial by the Turkish artist, Burak Delier, captures the existential dilemma confronting both his own country and Europe with brilliant precision. It shows a Muslim woman, heavily veiled, with only her eyes, her eyebrows, and some of her forehead uncovered. Her eyes, however, are wide open and express surprise, shock, fear—or perhaps even disdainful amusement. Her veil, though, is not of the usual black fabric: it is made of the European flag, dark blue with its circle of yellow stars studded across her chest and round the back of her head.
Take a look at the photo and read the whole article; the time will be well spent.

Monday, October 24, 2005


The HALO Trust has been doing some very worthwhile work:
Afghanistan is probably the most mined country in the world, with HALO estimates of up to 640,000 mines laid since 1979. HALO’s operations started in 1988 when we introduced to the world the concept of humanitarian mineclearance.

HALO employs 1,960 Afghan staff managed by Afghans with the assistance of two expatriate operations officers and an accountant.
HALO personnel have removed over 1 million pieces of unexploded ordnance and mines littering Afghanistan. It goes without saying it's dangerous work. As it turns out, the HALO guys had more to worry about than the explosives they dealt with daily:
Two Afghan experts working for a British-based mine- clearing agency were killed and six wounded yesterday when a bomb tore through their truck in southern Afghanistan, the organization said.

The bomb was detonated by remote control as the vehicle was passing in the volatile southern city of Kandahar, HALO Trust regional director Mohammad Ashraf said.

“Two people were killed and six others were wounded,” Ashraf said. They were all Afghan employees of the organization and had been returning from a mine clearance operation.
Risk your life to prevent your fellows being maimed or killed and get murdered for your trouble. Coming soon, one of the relief choppers in Pakistan will be shot down.


Macquarie Library Pty Ltd and ABC Online have joined forces to create Australian Word Map, an interactive website that is recording Australian regional slang. The Word Map site even allows users to suggest new words. Hey, here's an idea: Lowey as slang for a false accusation of racism meant to sidetrack a debate or discussion.


Iraqi security firms are employing an effective new weapon, armed females:
As insurgent and terrorist groups become more proficient in the use of roadside bombs and ambushes, security companies increasingly are finding armored vehicles bristling with automatic weapons are less effective for protecting passengers than low-profile convoys disguised to blend into regular traffic.

That impression, the companies find, is enhanced by the presence of a modestly dressed woman in the front seat next to the driver, appearing to be a housewife out for a drive with her husband.

"We are a low-profile security convoy company. We do our best not to be discovered, and part of that is using women," said Mr. Karam, a veteran of the Lebanon civil war. "We never have been hit while they were with us."

His company initially hired eight women for the duty, four of whom remain on staff. And it has recognized that the women need to be as ready as the men to defend themselves in the event of attack.

"We train them all together, women and men. They are treated as equals."
Ain't the market at work a thing to behold.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Wilma isn't the monster storm she once was but could still cause plenty of problems for Florida, not least of which, death:
About 160,000 people in the state were under mandatory evacuation orders, including the entire population of the Florida Keys island chain, according to officials and Census data. There was no way of knowing exactly how many actually left, but it appeared only about 20 percent of the 78,000 Keys residents fled, senior Monroe County emergency management director Billy Wagner said.

"If they don't get out of there, they're going to be in deep trouble," he said Sunday.
Those refusing to evacuate the Florida Keys could indeed be in deep trouble with the National Hurricane Center forecasting a 5 - 8 foot storm surge – the average elevation of the Keys is only 5 feet. Good luck.


Proposed changes to the dole won't exactly amount to "work or die" but that'll be how the left present it:
Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has confirmed that unemployed people will lose their payments from Centrelink if they refuse to take a job under the new industrial relations (IR) policy.

Labor's Stephen Smith believes the Mr Andrews has revealed the truth about the industrial relations package.

"What the Minister has confirmed today is that people will be left effectively with no choice," he said.
People will still have a choice, it's just that the alternatives won't be palatable for those with a history of choosing not to work. Welcome to the real world.


In the 1953 version of War of the Worlds there's a scene in which a preacher breaks cover to greet the aliens hoping to show them, through his peaceful approach, that they have nothing to fear. I can't imagine anyone watching the scene develop without thinking, "don't do it you idiot, you can't make friends with them, they're going to kill you".

Now, Islamists aren't from Mars and they don't have death-ray armed spaceships but they're perfectly willing to kill us and would use the death-rays on us if they had them. Despite the Islamists' obviously sinister intentions some in Britain are conflicted as to how to handle them, as Nick Cohen reports in The Observer:
A few weeks ago, Harriet Harman was holding a surgery for her Peckham constituents. As always, it was an open house, and every variety of south Londoner was coming to her office. She had dealt with the usual run of complaints and appeals when the door opened and for the first time in her life Harman confronted authentic anti-democrats.

If she had been less startled, she might have seen the funny side. The members of Hizb ut-Tahrir hated democracy and all that went with it - secularism, the separation of church and state, the emancipation of women. It's not just that they would establish a dictatorship if they came to power, the successor parties to the communists and the fascists would do that. The Islamists regarded it as sinful to stand in elections or even vote.

Yet here were totalitarians and misogynists going to a woman democratic politician and begging her to persuade Tony Blair not to take authoritarian measures against their authoritarian sect. The scene could have been bettered only if Harman had been a Jewish lesbian.

In fact, she is a courteous and patient politician. She listened politely to what they had to say and the more she heard the more despairing she became. As they were leaving, she said, 'you're British citizens. Shouldn't you try to play a part in British society?'

'We're not a part of British society,' they told her. 'We stay here like guests in a hotel.'

Harman didn't know how to respond, and I'm not sure I do either.
I reckon the Hizb ut-Tahrir guy has it wrong: they're not guests at a hotel, they're guests in our house. No one in his right mind would have a potential murderer as a house guest, now would he?

Anyway, what makes this really pathetic is that Cohen, unlike the preacher in War of the Worlds, knows what's in store for us but still wants to accommodate in order to be seen to do the right thing. That sort of attitude could get us all killed.


If Tim Blair comes up in the conversation, yes:
Also from the Telegraph, a piece by Malcom Farr, which I’ll link without comment. Hat tip, Surfdom.
Lefty academics take themselves so seriously.

Update: commenting at John Quiggin's (linked above), David Tiley explains why lefty bloggers aren't funny:
... because it is hard work and requires a rare skill.
Yep. that just about sums it up. And anyway, RWDBs aren't really funny:
What passes for funny in the Right is mostly just insult. Yer mother wears army boots. Yok Yok. Sometimes under a mantle of a pompous and easily concocted persona. “The Left, once again at its senile and self-defeating best..” Yok, yok again..
I'll have to remember that "army boots" thing.

Update II: commenter Nabakov, considered quite the wag by his fellow lefties, has his say – also at Quiggin's – on the left vs right humour debate:
As for this whole right wingers are funnier thing thing, it seems they trot it out every 12 months or so, along with the “our chicks are sexier” and “South Park kool kidz rule” riffs. And every time they do, it smells more and like they’re trying to convince themselves more than anyone else – specially now as so many of their talismans and shibboleths from the Iraq war is good to steely-eyed rocketman Bush is in control to Howard’s got his finger on the nation’s pulse are all turning in front of their eyes to week-old kitty litter.

I mean if you are really funny, sexy or cool, you don’t brag about it. You just are. Otherwise you just sound like a teenager desperate to convince yer mates you’re not a virgin.
Hey, everybody has an off day now and then.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Mark Steyn thinks so:
Russia has all the EU’s problems to the nth degree, and then some. ‘Post-imperial decline’ is manageable; a nation of psychotic lemmings isn’t. As I’ve noted before in this space, Russia is literally dying. From a population peak in 1992 of 148 million, it will be down to below 130 million by 2015 and thereafter dropping to perhaps 50 or 60 million by the end of the century, a third of what it was at the fall of the Soviet Union. It needn’t decline at a consistent rate, of course. But I’d say it’s more likely to be even lower than 50 million than it is to be over 100 million. The longer Russia goes without arresting the death spiral, the harder it is to pull out of it, and when it comes to the future most Russian women are voting with their foetus: 70 per cent of pregnancies are aborted.
Read the whole thing.


There are some interesting machines on display at the Tokyo Motor Show:
Researchers from Tokyo's Keio University also displayed an eight-wheeled electricity-powered sedan capable of a top speed of 370 kilometres (230 miles) per hour and 0-100 kph (60 mph) in 4.2 seconds. The fastest non-racing electric car ever made, it was constructed in cooperation with the Japanese government and several automobile companies.
The Eliica, which looks like an older Citroen gone very wrong, comes in two variants:
Powered by eight 55kW electric motors and a huge bank of lithium-ion batteries, the five-passenger vehicle is designed around two basic models: Type A with a top speed of 400 kph and a range of 200 km between charges; Type B with a top speed of 190 kph but a range of 320 km.
In addition to the short range there are a couple of other minor problems:
The only downside, apart from the tiny cockpit, is that it takes 10 hours to fully recharge, and costs around $400,000 in prototype form.
Let's see, it's ugly, expensive, has a small passenger compartment, has a short range and requires overnight recharge. Rich lefty boneheads would queue up for them.


As if the US doesn't have enough problems, what with burning corpses and taunting Taliban, there's this:
One of six Bahraini detainees being held at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay detention center was the subject of sexual abuse and witnessed at least one act of Qur’an desecration by US soldiers while being held in Afghanistan, according to a new report.

Al-Dossary, aged 30 now and father to an 11-year-old girl, said that in early September 2002 he was taken to an interrogation room where four MPs, with one carrying a video camera, handcuffed and shackled him to the floor before stripping him naked on orders from a female interrogator present in the room.

He claimed that the female interrogator stripped and squatted over his genitals, chest, and face smearing him with her menstrual blood in an attempt to have him admit links to Al-Qaeda and 9/11 attacks.
The report was issued by al-Dossary's lawyer, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan.

It'll be interesting to see if the menstrual blood smearing allegation sets Andrew Sullivan off; he seems to have this thing for menstrual blood, the fake kind anyway.


According to an ancient Chinese sex manual the secret to eternal life is really quite simple:
... any man who had sex with a different virgin every night for 100 nights without ejaculating would live for ever...
Well, there are a couple of reasons this theory hasn't been tested.


There are so many things to consider when planning the extended space exploration missions of the future:
"With the prospect of a very long-term mission, it's hard to ignore the question of sexuality," says Lawrence Palinkas, a medical anthropologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, an author of the report. It reviewed NASA's plans for research to keep astronauts safe and healthy in space – but the plans make no mention of sexual issues in spaceflight.

Palinkas says long-term space missions may be similar to extended periods in the isolated and confined environments of Antarctic research stations. He says crews in those stations often pair up in "bachelor marriages" that last the length of their stay – or less. "If there are instances of sexual conflict or infidelity, that may lead to a breakdown in crew functioning," he told New Scientist.

"Breakups can lead to violence and all kinds of things," agrees Carol Rinkleib Ellison, a psychologist specialising in sexuality and intimacy based in Oakland, California, US, who was not part of the NAS panel. "People are very primitive in their emotions around partnering and sex."
On the other hand, masturbation and sex would keep astronauts amused on a 30 month round trip to Mars.


Reporters Without Borders has released its 2005 press freedom index. Denmark tops the list, Australia is 31st and the USA 44th. Here's the summary of how the report was complied:
Reporters Without Borders compiled this Index of 167 countries by asking its partner organizations (14 freedom of expression groups from around the world) and its network of 130 correspondents, as well as journalists, researchers, legal experts and human rights activists, to answer 50 questions designed to assess a country’s level of press freedom. Some countries are not mentioned for lack of information about them.
The 50 survey questions aren't shown. The page explaining how the index was complied displays this disclaimer:
The index should in no way be taken as an indication of the quality of the press in the countries concerned.
So the point of the survey is...


So, what's the first thing you do after robbing a bank while wearing your name badge from a nearby shop and then escaping by ski-lift? You photograph yourself mugging with the stolen money, of course.

(For non-Australians, a drongo is a a slow-witted or stupid person.)

Friday, October 21, 2005


Here's an excerpt from Kofi Annan's UN birthday message:
Today, as we celebrate sixty years of our United Nations, we must recognize that the world today is very different from that of our founders.

The United Nations must reflect this new age, and respond to its challenges – including, first and foremost, the knowledge that hundreds of millions of people are left defenceless against hunger, disease and environmental degradation, even though the world has the means to rescue them.
UNusual, Kofi wanting more of our money.

Update: Chief Bastard notes some unresolved flag-flying issues.


Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez spends about 40 hours a week on television. A recent marathon showing of the live program Alo Presidente ran to 6 1/2 hours. This brings up an important question:
Bathroom breaks? None.
What is this guy, some sort of superman?


Bahraini Journalist 'Omran Salman questions the Arab silence over the muder of Shi'ites in Iraq:
"When the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke, there was not a single Arab who did not express the opinion that it was a despicable, mean [act] contrary to humanist values. They are right about this. But these people swiftly forgot their humanism and sealed their lips when the Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi declared war against the Shi'ites in Iraq, and began to dispatch his booby-trapped soldiers to blow themselves up among children, women, and the elderly. None of those [who denounced the Abu Ghraib scandal] uttered a word and none shed a tear for the hundreds and thousands of Iraqis being murdered and whose bodies are being mutilated.

"The first to denounce [the Abu Ghraib scandal] were the Americans themselves, who thought that the acts of some of their soldiers distorted the image of the U.S. and served as a mark of shame...

"But don't the Arabs feel an even greater sense of shame when some of them kill and massacre Iraqi citizens? Don't the rest [of the people] feel pangs of conscience when they try to come up with excuses and justifications for the murderers and criminals whom they call the 'resistance?' How can someone outraged at the torture of or disrespect for another person be silent and ignore [Al-Zarqawi's] declaration of the [program of] extermination of millions of people because of their sectarian affiliation?

"How is one to [describe] the Arab silence [in general] and the Sunni [silence] in particular in light of the murder of Shi'ite Iraqis and their intimidation in the most despicable and base of ways?... After all, the murderers declare their positions publicly, brag about them, and consider them Jihad for the sake of Allah. [Even] if what has happened does not stir up the regular Arab citizen – who has been brainwashed, and whose will has been totally eroded – how is one to explain [this same position when it is adopted by] politicians and members of the media?"
The question could just as well be addressed to the left.


As noted earlier, lefty Australian academic blogger Tim Lambert found some of the comments directed at friend and colleague Waleed Kadous by Tim Blair's commenters so offensive they shouldn't be viewed:
I really don’t recommend looking at the comments to Blair’s post unless you are interested in reading paroxysms of anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry from the Blair fan club.
When regular Blair commenter wronwright pointed out to Lambert that many of the comments were meant to be humourous and that lefties lack a sense of humour, Lambert replied:
Yes, because the Blairorrhoids who called Waleed a “liar”, a “Terrorist-PR flunky”, “scum” and a “shit-head” who should “piss off” out of Australia were just being humorous. Nice company you keep there, wronwright.
It's obvious Lambert's right into civility. It is a bit odd then that Lambert has allowed the following comment – aimed at friend and colleague Kadous – to remain in place at his blog:
[N]ever trust a sandnigger, only when thet [sic] are dead.
What makes this really odd is that the comment originally where the sandnigger comment eventually ended up – comment #3 in the thread – was deleted. The comment, which asked Lambert if he is an idiot, wasn't there long before it stealthily disappeared – the assumption being that he removed it as soon as he became aware of it.

Obviously Lambert's more concerned about a rhetorical question about his mental ability then he is about a slur directed at friend and colleague Kadous. Oh well, what's friendship when there are political points to be scored?

(Despite my small readership, Lambert bounces my links – he apparently sees me as some sort of threat – so you'll have to copy and paste the following link if you want to view his post and comments: . Funny, even though Lambert can't stand Tim Blair, he doesn't bounce Blair's links; he's apparently willing to tolerate Blair's links because of the traffic they generate. Hypocrite, and humourless, the usual lefty combination.)

Update: Kadous was originally incorrectly spelled Kaldous. Corrected.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


University of Auckland scientists ran into a few problems studying why rats are so hard to eradicate:
A cunning rat released on a deserted island off New Zealand outsmarted scientists and evaded traps, baits and sniffer dogs before being captured four months later on a neighbouring island, researchers say.

Despite all their efforts, including fitting the rat with a radio collar, they could not catch the crafty creature.

After 10 weeks on the island the rodent decided it had had enough.

It swam 400 metres, the longest distance recorded for a rat across open sea, to another rat-free island where it was eventually captured in a trap baited with penguin meat several weeks later.
It just goes to show you, rats are smarter than kiwis.


Christian Science Monitor correspondent James Brandon recounts the so-called honour killing of British Muslim woman Manna Begum and then notes:
The number of such "honor killings" carried out in Britain is unknown. But in late 2004, British police began reexamining 117 murders to see how many were motivated by honor.

The issue has taken on increased sensitivity since the July 7 bombings in London, which heightened attention on ethnic minority communities and their integration into British society.
So, scant attention was paid to what's apparently been a big problem for quite some time. British Muslims, including women, apparently aren't willing to confront the reality of the situation. Take the attitude of Humera Khan, who advises An-Nisa women's group:
According to Khan, honor killings "are not Islamic at all, but because they are integrated into traditional culture they are seen as something Islamic."
As with terrorism, it's just a coincidence honour killings are committed by Muslims.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Tim Lambert, renowned far and wide for his fact-checking skills, is none too happy with Channel Nine's tricky treatment of friend and colleague Waleed Kadous. Specifically, Lambert is upset – forgot Lambert bounces my links, copy and paste – that the following from Kadous went to air on Nine's Sunday program:
I'm sure that there are some in the community who are involved in terrorism, but it is important not to exaggerate either the threat or the number. I would — actually, can I retract that. Let me just think of a way to phrase that better. If they do exist — and I'm not sure that they do exist — we only have ASIO's word to say that.
Lambert claims a one hour Kadous interview was edited down to less than a minute. This seems a bit odd in that the Sunday transcript seems to be from some sort of round table discussion, not an interview. But, not having seen the program, it's hard to know for certain.

Anyway, Lambert thinks it a "dirty trick" for Nine to broadcast what Kadous actually said:
Waleed misspoke and corrected himself, but “Sunday” chose to broadcast his mistake rather than something substantive. I think that demonstrates that they are interested in stirring up controversy and promoting division rather than reasoned debate.
Tim Blair also cops a serve:
Naturally, the verbal equivalent of a typo didn’t escape Tim Blair, Australia’s most superficial blogger, – copy and paste – who has a go at “Australian Muslim Waleed Kadous”. I really don’t recommend looking at the comments to Blair’s post unless you are interested in reading paroxysms of anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry from the Blair fan club.
To be fair, Waleed Kadous is an Australian Muslim and, considering the silliness of his rephrasing, could have been treated much more harshly by Blair. As for the "paroxysms of anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry from the Blair fan club", Lambert has a vivid imagination; it just didn't happen. Fact-check boy indeed.

Update: In comments – – Lambert tries to back up his "paroxysms of anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry" claim by noting:
"Blairorrhoids... called Waleed a 'liar', a 'Terrorist-PR flunky', 'scum' and a 'shit-head' who should 'piss off' out of Australia..."
Of course, commenters who express such opinions need not be anti-Muslim or filled with hate and bigotry. Lambert's really groping on this one. Maybe Lambert's just especially sensitive to negative comments from RWDBs in general, after all, he did stealthily delete a comment asking if he is an idiot; such an enquiry apparently violating his "personal attack" policy. Anyway, there's no point in going to Lambert's blog to ask if he's an idiot, all one need do is read some of his stuff for the truth to be revealed.

Update II: For the latest on Lambert, go here.


The uproar over this could easily cause a military career or two to come to a premature end:
US soldiers in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of dead Taliban and taunted their opponents about the corpses, in an act deeply offensive to Muslims and in breach of the Geneva conventions.

An investigation by SBS's Dateline program, to be aired tonight, filmed the burning of the bodies.

It also filmed a US Army psychological operations unit broadcasting a message boasting of the burnt corpses into a village believed to be harbouring Taliban.

According to an SBS translation of the message, delivered in the local language, the soldiers accused Taliban fighters near Kandahar of being "cowardly dogs". "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be," the message reportedly said.

"You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Taliban but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are."
This isn't the first time the evil US military has employed such tactics:
The incident is reminiscent of the psychological techniques used in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
Yep, the parallels are amazing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005



Robert Mugabe had plenty to say about the US and UK at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's 60th anniversary meeting in Rome:
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe used a United Nations gathering in Rome to compare George Bush and Tony Blair to Hitler and Mussolini. He said they were "international terrorists" bent on world domination.

"Must we allow these men, the two unholy men of our millennium, who in the same way as Hitler and Mussolini formed [an] unholy alliance, formed an alliance to attack an innocent country?" he said.

"Is this the world we desire? The world of giants and international terrorists who use their state muscle in order to intimidate us? We become the midgets," he said.
Mental midget, that is. South America's number one Castro wanna-be lent moral support:
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez turned his speech into a tirade against "the north American empire" which is threatening "all life on the planet" through pollution and climate-change problems.
What, nothing about Katrina's unaided black victims?


It'll be interesting to see how long New Zealand's new Foreign Minister Winston Peters can continue to shoot from the lip:
[Peters] has called for immigration to be slashed to prevent the further "colonisation" of New Zealand by Asians.

He has also suggested stopping Muslims from entering New Zealand as a way of preventing terrorism.
Peters definitely isn't into political correctness but can afford not to be, he's Maori.


Former British MP Oona King has an article in the Guardian describing her recent visit to the United States. Ms King is right into claiming victim status for blacks, with the introdution to the article stating that her father was "forced to flee the US". Actually, Preston King decided to flee the US as the result of a beef with his Draft Board – according to Mr King, the dispute started with the Draft Board's refusal to address him as Mister King and just sort of escalated from there.

In the article itself Ms King bemoans the plight of New Orleans's blacks, observing:
Changing the realities of race in America is a painfully slow process. It took 100 years from black emancipation, at the end of the civil war in 1865, to black enfranchisement with the Voter Registration Act of 1965. And yet when Bush stole the White House from under the nose of disenfranchised African-Americans at the turn of the millennium, it was clear that nothing much had changed.
And nothing is going to change as long as there are so many prominent blacks pitching crap like this. Boo hoo.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Those SSBNs could yet come in handy for something other than deterrence:
The Venezuelan government has made overtures to various countries about obtaining nuclear technology, according to U.S. officials, who worry that President Hugo Chavez might be taking the first steps in a long road to develop nuclear weaponry.

A Bush administration official monitoring Latin America said the entreaties have included communications with Iran, with whom Venezuela maintains increasingly close ties.


Not the war on bird flu, the bird flu death toll prediction war:
A few weeks ago, David Nabarro, the UN's influenza coordinator, came up with a global death toll of 150 million. The World Health Organisation quickly offered a rebuttal, saying the correct figure was 2 to 7.4 million. But as the WHO well knows, the only true predictor is what happened in 1918. Then, as now, an avian virus suddenly acquired the ability to latch on to and invade human lung cells. The difference is that the Spanish flu - so-called because Spain was the only country not to censor news of the illness - was also highly infectious between humans. Scientists now estimate that the 1918 pandemic may have killed 40 to 100 million people worldwide. If you take into account the current world population, a direct extrapolation gives you 325 million deaths.

If that's not sufficiently scary, there's more. Epidemiologists estimate the 1918 virus killed 2.5% of those infected. But we know that GenZ kills 70% of the people it infects. In other words, the true worst-case scenario based on 1918 could be 1 billion deaths worldwide. This is what Davis means by the monster at our door and why he believes scientists, and the press, are right to sound the alarm.
The 70% death toll is interesting because earlier the article states that 60 of the 100 person to contract GenZ have died to date.

What will eventually get me, the high fat vegetable-free diet, cigarettes or bird flu? I'm betting on the cigarettes, stay tuned.


The God-awful anti-terrorism dog:
Israeli media sources reported on Saturday that Israel recently received 300 well-trained anti-terrorism dogs from the United States and might use them against Palestinian activists in the West Bank.

The Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronot said the dogs were brought from the United States on a special Israeli plane, adding that the Israeli army would use these imported dogs in their raids on Palestinian towns.

Palestinians said the Israeli army has recently stepped up their use of sniffing dogs in arresting wanted Palestinians, adding that these dogs are fierce and aggressive and can cause severe physical and psychological damage.

The report said the donation of the 300 dogs to Israel was made by a Jewish organization in the United States, which convinced officials in the State Department “to send the dogs to Israel to fight Palestinian terrorism.”
Wonder if the combination attack-sniff dogs ever get confused and attack something they're meant to be sniffing? One of the fearsome mutts with handler en route to Israel can be seen here.

Via: the very disturbed Antony Loewenstein.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


No sensible person has any time for nazis, neo or otherwise. That said, street thugs in Ohio are at least as bad as the Nazis they were supposedly protesting against:
Rioters in Toledo, Ohio have attacked police and set fire to property and overturned cars, apparently in protest at a planned neo-Nazi march.

A small neo-Nazi group of around 20 had gathered in a park to hold a march escorted by police.

The group dispersed when the violence broke out, and the march was cancelled.

The mayor of Toledo, Jack Ford, said the violence was triggered by gang members angry that the neo-Nazi march had been allowed.

Mr Ford said people accused him of protecting the Nazis, and a masked man threatened to kill him when he tried to calm the protesters.

Several policemen and fire-fighters were injured in the brawl, which at one point is thought to have involved about 600 people.
Some people just aren't into the freedom of speech thing.

Update: What do you do when you find out neo-Nazis are going to march through your neighbourhood? Why you attempt to raze the neighbourhood, even though the march has been cancelled:
It wasn't enough to stop an angry mob that included gang members from looting and burning a neighborhood bar, smashing the windows of a gas station and hurling rocks and bottles at police on Saturday.
A scorched earth policy in Toledo.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Canadian marijuana researchers – that would be a pretty big segment of the population if we're talking British Columbia – have discovered that reefer actually improves memory:
A team at the University of Saskatchewan headed by Xia Zhang found that injections of a potent HU210 synthetic substance that mimics the active ingredients in cannabis increases the production of neurones in the hippocampus area of the brain in rats.

The region is associated with learning and memory, as well as anxiety and depression.

"The implication is that smoking marijuana is a good thing," Mr Zhang told AFP.

The discovery may eventually lead to the next blockbuster anti-depressant drug treatment, he says.

"It is possible this might overtake Prozac."
Canada, marijuana nation. Now let's see, where did I put that roach clip?

Friday, October 14, 2005


Loony lefty Australian academic Alison Broinowski has a piece – ostensibly about the UN but really about the evils of Bush and Howard – at Web Diary. It's long and choppy but good for a few laughs. If you can't be bothered reading the whole thing, here's the Broinowski penned executive summary:
Bush and his advisers - and Howard - are deliberately out of step with most of the Western world. They claim exceptional rights, promote missile defence, and rely on the threat of terrorism to justify everything they do.
We're out of step with Europe? Thank God.

Update: Web Diary minion Marilyn Shepherd has a stomach turning we-are-the-world moment:
Thank heavens for this diary where wonderful pieces like this can be found, what would we do without it. The thing everyone forgets about the UN is that we are the UN, every man, woman and child on earth is the United Nations of the world.

We say the UN as if it is a body disengaged from us, as if it is something different to a committee of human beings.


In an apparent first for the UK, a woman – who had not been drinking, by the way – was reportedly raped after being drugged by an offered cigarette:
A woman has been raped after smoking a spiked cigarette (or "fry") in what is thought to be the first case of its kind in Britain. Experts at a rape referral centre in Kent said the woman, who as a victim of sexual assault cannot be named, described symptoms consistent with having smoked a cigarette dipped in formaldehyde.
Maybe the woman was raped in the circumstances claimed but the story has a few holes in it. There is no mention of any drugs found in her system. There is no mention of the butt having been tested for drugs. There's also this about formaldehyde dipped cigarettes to consider:
The cigarettes taste like rubbing alcohol and smell like gasoline when they burn.
If the woman is a regular smoker of these, she would have been comfortable with the rubbing alcohol taste and gasoline smell.


Media Research Center looked at the content and tone of the 1,388 Iraq stories carried on the main evening news broadcasts of ABC, CBS and NBC during the period January 1 through September 30, concluding:
Network coverage has been overwhelmingly pessimistic.

■ News about the war has grown increasingly negative.

■ Terrorist attacks are the centerpiece of TV’s war news.

■ Even coverage of the Iraqi political process has been negative.

■ Few stories focused on the heroism or generous actions of American soldiers.

■ It’s not as if there was no “good news” to report.
Go here for the executive summary or here for the full report (pdf).

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Maybe Canadians have had enough of idiot Yanks seeking sanctuary there:
An Army veteran who fled to Canada to avoid prosecution for growing marijuana to treat his chronic pain was yanked from a hospital by Canadian authorities, driven to the border with a catheter still attached, and turned over to U.S. officials, his lawyer says.

He then went five days with no medical treatment and only ibuprofen for the pain, attorney Douglas Hiatt said.

"This is totally inhumane. He's been tortured for days for no reason," Hiatt said.

In 2001, while he was living in McKinleyville, Calif., his marijuana operation was raided for the second time. He fled to British Columbia to avoid prosecution but asylum was denied.
Jeez, you'd have to be a real loser to be rejected by Canada.


If Kerry runs in 2008, he has Teddy Kennedy's support:
"If he runs, I would support him," Kennedy told The Associated Press in an interview at his Boston office.
Now there's a winning team. In other political news, Al Gore finally acknowledges the obvious: he's unelectable:
"I have absolutely no plans and no expectations of ever being a candidate again."
He can always fall back on inventing stuff.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Soon after Katrina struck, much was made of the "toxic soup" flooding New Orleans. I can clearly recall TV news reports that the hazard was so great relief workers who were splashed were to be immediately hosed down and held for medical observation. Well, the water wasn't so bad after all:
Data indicate that Hurricane Katrina floodwater... is a brackish, well-buffered water with low concentrations of volatile and semivolatile organic pollutants. Chemical oxygen demand and nutrients are elevated, but similar in magnitude to those of normal stormwater. Several metals, including Pb, As, and Cr, approached, and in some cases exceeded, drinking water standards. Fecal coliforms were very elevated compared with primary contact water standards but, again, were similar in magnitude to what is found in typical stormwater runoff from the area. Collectively, these data indicate that Katrina floodwater is similar to normal stormwater runoff but with somewhat elevated Pb and VOC [volatile organic compounds] concentrations. What distinguishes Katrina floodwaters are their large volume and the human exposure to these pollutants that accompanied the flood rather than extremely elevated concentrations of toxic pollutants.
So, the New Orleans stormwater turns out to be, well, stormwater.

Update: Arts & Letters Daily links to a more detailed article with lots of links for those wanting to know more.


As if the President doesn't have enough to worry about, now he has body language problems:
The president was a blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts. Bush has always been an active man, but standing with Lauer and the serene, steady first lady, he had the body language of a man wishing urgently to be elsewhere.

The fidgeting clearly corresponded to the questioning. When Lauer asked if Bush, after a slow response to Katrina, was "trying to get a second chance to make a good first impression," Bush blinked 24 times in his answer. When asked why Gulf Coast residents would have to pay back funds but Iraqis would not, Bush blinked 23 times and hitched his trousers up by the belt.

When the questioning turned to Miers, Bush blinked 37 times in a single answer -- along with a lick of the lips, three weight shifts and some serious foot jiggling. Laura Bush, by contrast, delivered only three blinks and stood still through her entire answer about encouraging volunteerism.

But, then again:

ABC News noted... "He did allow himself to be shown hammering purposefully, with a jejune combination of cowboy swagger and yuppie self-consciousness."
Not confident enough one minute, too confident the next. To put this in perspective, try to imagine Kerry wielding a hammmer. Feel better now?


Lefty Tariq Ali on the earthquake relief effort in Pakistan:
The government is doing its best, but it is not enough. The absence of a proper infrastructure, a dearth of reserve funds to deal with unexpected tragedies, and a total lack of preparedness despite annual disasters on a lesser scale, have cost innumerable lives. To watch General Musharraf on television bemoaning the shortage of helicopters was instructive. A few miles to the north of the disaster zone there is a large fleet of helicopters belonging to the western armies occupying parts of Afghanistan. Why could the US, German and British commanders not dispatch these to save lives? Is the war so fierce that they are needed every day? Three days after the earthquake, the US released eight helicopters from "war duty" to help transport food and water to isolated villages. Too little, too late.
Where, exactly, were large quantities of helicopter transporatble relief supplies to be obtained given the chaos in Pakistan? In any event, Ali thinks the military is ill suited to the relief role:
Pakistan's army has been put into action, but armies are not suited to relief work. They are not trained to save lives, and reports yesterday that aid convoys are being attacked and seized by angry crowds long before they reach their destinations are an indication of the chaos.
No doubt he'd be happy to see angry crowds attacking US military helicopter crews for doing too little too late.



If you aren't sure if the EU promoted plan to seize control of the internet from the US is a good idea, here's food for thought:
The EU plan was applauded by states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, leading the former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt to express misgivings on his weblog: "It seems as if the European position has been hijacked by officials that have been driven by interests that should not be ours.

"We really can't have a Europe that is applauded by China and Iran and Saudi Arabia on the future governance of the internet. Even those critical of the United States must see where such a position risks taking us."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


According to rumour, Mark Latham is planning another hey-look-at-me moment:
Former Labor leader Mark Latham could be set to swap politics for the paso doble as a celebrity contender in the fourth series of channel seven's ballroom extravaganza, Dancing with the Stars.

A Seven spokesman said yesterday the negotiations for the fourth series were still in initial phases, but confirmed Latham "would be a great get for the program".
The ABC is asking readers to suggest Liberals for Latham to dance against.

Oh yeah, considering the nature of the "celebrities" on the show, it would be better called Dancing with the Nearly or Once Famous.


The internet as we know it is doomed if this happens:
Who should run the internet? Until recently it was an academic question. After all, the United States - thanks to public money and (later on) private entrepreneurialism - had been the midwife of the net in the 1960s and had assumed de facto maternal control. But this divine right is now being challenged. Last week the EU proposed new global institutions, possibly under UN control, to replace existing organisations such as Icann which controls the issuing of domain names such as ".com" and the "root servers" critical for the working of the net's infrastructure. This is to be decided at next month's UN world summit in Tunis on the information society, where the US is likely to be in a tiny minority against the rest of he world.
There's no way a UN bureaucracy dominated by Eurocrats will be able to resist the temptation to regulate to the max:
Tech lobby groups in the UK have warned that proposed changes to European TV regulation could stifle net content.

"Our members are seriously concerned that the European Commission's proposals will inhibit growth of the content and new media market in Europe," said Antony Walker, Director of the Knowledge Economy at Intellect.

"New audio-visual content services, made possible through innovation in digital technology and the internet, should be given time to evolve and develop rather than being shackled by premature and unnecessary regulation intervention by the EU," he added.
Hands up all those who think the internet would be better run by the UN than by the US.

Monday, October 10, 2005


A Parsian group of lefties calling themselves Les Dégonflés (The Deflated), led by one Sous-Adjudant Marrant (Sub-Warrant Officer Joker) is waging an anti-SUV campaign:
Under cover of night, Marrant's troops target Jeep Cherokees, Porsche Cayennes and other four-wheel-drive vehicles parked on the tree-lined avenues and cobblestoned lanes of wealthy neighborhoods. The eco-guerrillas deflate tires without damaging them, smear doors with mud and paste handbills on windshields proclaiming that the vehicles are dangerous, polluting behemoths that do not belong in the city.
And how does Marrant find the time?
Marrant is unemployed, though he has dabbled in journalism.
An unemployed lefty activist, who would have thought it possible?


Scott Parkin on Australia's reaction to his arrest and deportation:
All over Australia, local communities have mobilized and rallied around my detention and removal. There have been numerous NONVIOLENT protests, occupations and direct communications all over Australia, and in the United States, confronting Prime Minister John Howard, Phillip Ruddock and the Australian government about their shabby handling of me and my civil rights. Major Australian media outlets have questioned daily why their government has acted in such a manner. This doesn't even include the outpouring of support I have read from people all over the world fed up with this type of behavior from "liberal western democracies" seeking to restrict and criminalize dissent under the auspices of "national security" and the "war on terror".
Damn, I missed all the action.


According to New Scientist: Ice-scanning satellite crashes into North Pole.


It's been repeatedly argued that Australia's new anti-terrorism laws won't deter terrorists. Well, France's anti-terrorism laws seem to be working:
Despite a well-integrated Moroccan immigrant population that has lived and worked in Belgium for more than half a century, the country has become the destination of choice for many French-speaking immigrants who are put off by France's intrusive security and intelligence services and tougher laws.

It was in Belgium, for example, that the two Tunisian killers of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Afghan resistance leader who was assassinated in 2001, received logistical support. Disguised as journalists, they had Belgian passports and had traveled to Afghanistan from Belgium.

Even defense lawyers involved in the Asparagus 18 trial acknowledge the attractiveness of Belgium as a support center for international criminal and even terrorist activity. "Belgium has become a logistical base for these people," said Didier de Quévy, a lawyer who has been involved in terrorist cases in the past and is representing one of the defendants. "They have come here because the penalties have been light."
If anything, Australia's law should be tougher.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Over recent days, groups of hundreds of Africans keen to get into Europe have stormed the razor wire fences separating Spain's African enclaves – Ceuta and Melilla – from Morocco. The situation has taken a violent turn with a number of illegals shot to death over recent weeks.

It's hard not to be sympathetic to those wanting to escape to a better life but BBC correspondent Chris Morris goes too far in reporting:
But, let's face it, this is the latter-day invasion we've brought upon ourselves. In a world of instant communications and global images we can't hide our affluence from anyone. The news has reached the smallest African village... and who can blame them if they start heading in our direction?
To his credit, Morris does note that the already diverse cultural mix of the tiny Spanish enclaves would be quickly unbalanced by even a small flood of sub-Saharan Africans. Morris fails to note, however, the main reason why Spanish officials have become so keen to keep the illegals out:
Until now, migrants who successfully entered the enclaves have been housed in holding centres or sent to mainland Spain to await expulsion to their country of origin, often resulting in their release.
In other words, those who made it into the enclaves were eventually released because Spain has no repatriation agreements with the countries of origin. So, Spain has taken to handing the illegals back to Morocco, which has a very simply solution to unwanted people hanging around:
An aid agency says it has found more than 500 migrants abandoned in the Moroccan desert after being expelled from Spain's North African enclaves.

The migrants said they had entered or tried to enter Ceuta and Melilla but were forced back, loaded onto trucks and driven to the Algerian border.
It's sort of the Spanish version of that rendition thing.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


My favourite journalist and soon-to-be-published author recently linked to that "great resource" Bad Corp, which reveals that – shock, horror – evil corporate empire Philip Morris has changed its name to Altira. Scrolling down the page reveals lots more scary information, including:
Tricon Global Restaurants, owners of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut is becoming Yum! Brands.

Agricultural Insecticide and Fungicide Association, a lobbying and trade association representing the nation's 78 pesticide manufacturers will hide behind the friendlier CropLife America.

Dun & Bradstreet asked to be known as D&B, although it retained the full name officially.

Monsanto Specialty Chemicals, a spin-off of Monsanto, who is destroying the entire planet, is now Solutia.
Unaware that Monsanto is destroying the planet, I thought it best to follow the link to check out the threat. One of the featured items is on the planet-destroying Monsanto product, NutraSweet (aspartame). Here's the whole scary story:
Since April 1995, the U.S. FDA has reported over 10,000 volunteered consumer complaints stemming from NutraSweet (aka Equal, Aspartame) which is owned by Monsanto. Among the symptoms listed are blindness, seizures, memory loss, loss of limb control, slurred speech, skin lesions, extremity numbness, depression, mood swings, anxiety attacks, coma and death.

Absorbed very quickly into the bloodstream, NutraSweet metabolizes into six to eight byproducts including methyl alcohol and the class A carcinogen, formaldehyde. The early research history of aspartame was plagued with deception. Although the US FDA gave the product approval, it later emerged that the results of animal experiments conducted when researching the chemical, had been manipulated to improve them.
Damn, that NutraSweet sounds like dangerous stuff. Better check it out.

Snopes debunks the aspartame adverse health effects stories and links to a July 1999 letter to The Lancet from Anthony Zehetner and Mark McLean, Department of Endocrinology, Westmead Hospital, Sydney NSW 2145, Australia. The letter pulls no punches:
Sir - Patients at our diabetes clinic have raised concerns about information on the internet about a link between the artificial sweetener aspartame and various diseases. Our research revealed over 6000 web sites that mention aspartame, with many hundreds alleging aspartame to be the cause of multiple sclerosis, lupus erythematosis, Gulf War Syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, brain tumours, and diabetes mellitus, among many others. Virtually all of the information offered is anecdotal, from anonymous sources and is scientifically implausible.

Aspartame, a dipeptide composed of phenylalanine and aspartic acid linked by a methyl ester bond, is not absorbed, and is completely hydrolysed in the intestine to yield the two constituent amino acids and free methanol. Opponents of aspartame suggest that the phenylalanine and methanol so released are dangerous. In particular, they assert that methanol can be converted to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, and thus cause metabolic acidosis and neurotoxicity.

Although a 330 ml can of aspartame-sweetened soft drink will yield about 20 mg methanol, an equivalent volume of fruit juice produces 40 mg methanol, and an alcoholic beverage about 60-100 mg. The yield of phenylalanine is about 100 mg for a can of diet soft drink, compared with 300 mg for an egg, 500 mg for a glass of milk, and 900 mg for a large hamburger (1). Thus, the amount of phenylalanine or methanol ingested from consumption of aspartame is trivial, compared with other dietary sources. Clinical studies have shown no evidence of toxic effects and no increase in plasma concentrations of methanol, formic acid, or phenylalanine with daily consumption of 50 mg/kg aspartame (equivalent to 17 cans of diet soft drink daily for a 70 kg adult) (1, 2).

The anti aspartame campaign purports to offer an explanation for illnesses that are prominent in the public eye. By targeting a manufactured chemical agent, and combining this with pseudo-science and selective reporting, the campaign makes complex issues deceptively simple. Sensational web site names (eg, grab the browser's attention and this misinformation is also widely disseminated via chat groups and chain e-mail.

People consult the internet about medical issues for various reasons and many users regard online sources as being authoritative and valid. The medical profession has a role in teaching our patients to be discriminating consumers of the information offered there.
Gee, you'd reckon someone trying to sell himself as a journalist and author would be a bit more selective with the stuff he links to.

Update: There's also a link to a lefty American academic blogging from Jordan – not a Jordanian blogger, as claimed – that "debunks" the "myth" that Palestinian children are taught to hate Israel and Jews. Funny isn't it, Palestinian children are used as suicide bombers and for military support but they aren't taught to hate.


Rumours of a Muslim connection to Joel Henry Hinrichs III's death by explosion are causing concern:
Many Muslim students at the University of Oklahoma are laying low after rumors spread that a terrorist plot was behind a deadly explosion near a packed football stadium, Muslim leaders say.

"A lot of students are taking precautions, staying at home," said Houda Elyazgi, an officer with the Muslim Student Association. "I wear the scarf, so I fear for my security now because of all this speculation."
Maybe it's not the Muslims who should be worried:
Hinrichs' Pakistani roommate, Fazal M. Cheema, is Muslim, although not particularly religious, according to regulars at the Norman mosque.

Cheema worked at the football stadium, according to the OU student directory, and the men lived at Parkview Apartments, a university-owned property popular with Islamic students because it is adjacent to the local mosque.

Some media reported that Hinrichs spent time recently at the mosque, which was denied by the president of the mosque, who asked that his name not be used for fear of retaliation
It's also worth noting that Hinrichs had recently come to the attention of authorities:
Norman police, however, reported that an officer became suspicious when he overhead Hinrichs trying to purchase ammonium nitrate fertilizer from a local feed and seed store two days before he died.

The manager of Ellison Feed and Seed said the store no longer carried that kind of fertilizer, which was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Ominously, jihadist materials and explosives were found in Hinrichs apartment and the warrant used to execute the search has now been sealed at the request of the Justice Department. It looks like everything isn't OK in Oklahoma.

Tapscott's Copy Desk has regular updates on this developing story.