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Odd things and such things, as I feel appropriate, possibly relating to the war.
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Jerry Lawson, Proprietor

Comments by: YACCS

Thursday, January 31
USS Clueless
The United States is made up of people whose ancestors hated Europe. They came here to get away from what Europe stood for; they came here because they wanted something different. And they were resolved not to let this nation become another Europe, because they'd seen the worst Europe had to offer.

They left a place which was socially stratified, which had a caste system, and in the US vowed there would be no such system. They left a place full of dictators and tyrannical monarchs, and built a nation where the government answers to the people and can be peacefully ousted by free and fair elections. They left a place where the government told them how to worship, and came to a place where the people told the government to keep its hands out of religion. They left a place where news and history was whatever the government said it was, and came to a place where there was a right of free speech and free press, where a man could criticize the government without disappearing afterwards.
And yet the European press would tell US how we should wage war? Let's see... how many wars were fought in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries? And how many times in the 20th did we have to come pull their fat out of the fire?

You find out who your friends are when the chips are down. Saudi's not doing much at all. Europe has been very free with advice - with bad advice that would have made things worse. England's been a lot more help and support than I'd have thought. Turkey's been a life-saver. Pakistan stabilized itself, India seems to have backed off on the saber rattling. They're both helping.

We're finding out who our friends are. At least, our friends for the moment.


Boston Globe Online / Editorials | Opinions / Souring on Saudi Arabia since Sept. 11
But what many in the United States find especially infuriating is the posture the Saudis have adopted since the massacres. Cynical, unhelpful, disingenuous, and self-righteous, Riyadh has made plain its distaste for the US war against terrorism. It refused to allow US aircraft based in Saudi Arabia to attack Afghanistan. It will not permit any attack on Iraq to be launched from its territory. Insultingly, the Saudis officially deny that American forces are even in their country and do not permit the US flag to be flown at the American air basenear Al Kharj.
Frankly, it's beginning to look like Saudi is not exactly our friend in the ME any more.

But let Saddam pull something, like taking Kuwait or moving into Saudi, you think they'd change their tune?

I do.


Ousting Saddam is a possibly over-optimistic piece about something that needs to be done - but the question is whether it should be done by us or the Iraqi people.


Face to Face with Hamid Karzai

Take a few minutes, if you've got the time, and read about someone who may well be the George Washington of Afghanistan.


Bush to Americans: Change Your Soft Culture
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - Hoping to tap into the wave of patriotism sweeping the United States since Sept. 11, President Bush asked Americans on Thursday to seize the moment to change the nation's "feel good" culture.

"Our culture has said, 'If it feels good, do it,"' he said in a speech at an emergency operations center. "Our dream, or my dream for the country is that we usher in a culture that says 'Each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life."
Oh, aren't there a lot of people who are going to howl about THAT!

But it's true, isn't it?

There's a saying that political capital is a very ephemeral thing - here today (Like Bush's ratings during the Gulf War) and gone tomorrow (like his ratings after he raised taxes after promising not to.) and it cannot be banked. It can be used wisely, however - and I hope this is a wise use of it.


Wednesday, January 30
Barbara Lerner on Turkey on National Review Online
I couldn't be sure, so I decided to subject Turkey to my own test. It's the Flo-Jay tough-times tourism test, and what it measures is whether a vulnerable American proxy can feel perfectly safe and comfortable in that country — not just in ordinary times, but in tough ones, when the economy is tanking, the population is hurting, and Muslim religious feeling is running high because it's a holy month. Flo-Jays are frail little old Jewish-American ladies, and they make ideal testers because they're twofers-plus, representing both the great Satan, America, and the little one, Israel — as well as women. My own demographics are right for the job, and in November, the timing seemed right too: Turkey was struggling with a 70 percent rise in inflation and a 70 percent drop in tourism. So I packed up my tennis shoes and flew to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines during Ramadan. And — to make the test a tough one — for a Flo-Jay — I decided to spend my time there without coming within spitting distance of a luxury hotel or guided tour.
Very thought-provoking article on tourism in Turkey - it may well become the sort of ally we wish Saudi Arabia was. One very interesting paragraph...
But the clincher, for me, was finding the ubiquitous Turkish protective symbol — the blue, black, and white evil eye — on the ribbons that bound the little boxes of sweets given out to guests at the Bar Mitzvah ceremony I witnessed at Neva Shalom. The idea behind the symbol is one that all the Turks I met subscribed to: The way to protect yourself from evil is not to hide from it, but to look straight into its unblinking eye, recognize it for what it is — in yourself and in others — and deal with it up front. That's a quintessentially Turkish idea, and it's a far cry from the kind of blameless-hopeless-helpless victim mentality that is so all-pervasive in the Arab world, and so beloved by our liberal elites at home.
This is well worth the read, and makes me WANT to go back to Turkey again for a visit. However, at about $800 a head just for the airline ticket, it may well be a while before I do so.

(Wait a sec - there's always military Space-A... hmmm.)


MSN Entertainment / Celebrity Gossip, News & Interviews
A Leg Up
The thigh's the limit for Britney Spears at the NRJ Music Awards in Cannes, France, where the pop princess proves she's got gam--er, game. But is Brit's slit too much of a good thing in this high-cut stretch dress? Just asking.
Okay - I know she's a pop sensation. And she's not bad looking - but frankly, I'd expect a dress like that on East Ponce, not Hollywood. (For out of town readers - that's where I understand you go in Atlanta to find ladies of negotiable virtue.)

Certainly, she's... ummm, healthier looking than most you're likely to find...


Tuesday, January 29
NEW YORK — Orders for expensive manufactured goods rose a more-than-expected 2 percent in December, suggesting better days may be ahead for the nation's battered manufacturing sector, while consumer confidence improved again, lifted by increased optimism about jobs and the economy.
And Sen. Daschle is going "No! Wait! Stop! You CAN'T recover yet - it's an election year, and we NEED you to be sick!"

Personally, I think the Democrats are the sick ones. Your mileage may vary - but Daschle's had his chance to show whether he put the good of the country ahead of party politics... and he failed.


J. : Nevada Commision Denies Tyson License
Jan. 29 — The Nevada Athletic Commission refused today to reinstate Mike Tyson's boxing license, after he tried to withdraw his petition to box again in the state where he has been banned twice.
Time to find a new career. Repeat after me... "Would you like fries with that?"


After listening to the President's speech tonight, I was pretty impressed. The man, to my way of thinking, is showing statesman qualities. Statesmanship, as opposed to the usual political hack, has the ability to get both sides going on an issue when that issue is VITAL - not just when it's politically expedient. Chamberlain wasn't a statesman - Churchill was, in WW2. It's heartening to see someone like Bush giving out straight info, and a welcome change from the last Administration.

However - the media is letting loose of their affection for Bush. Two of the four on-line news services, MSNBC and FOX, had cover photos of Bush with his mouth open - caught while talking. Nobody looks good like that - it's totally lacking in dignity. ABCNEWS and did better with their selection of the photos. Which is funny - they haven't really been supporters of Bush.

Just an oddity that I thought would amuse you.

J. - 16 charged with stealing WTC relief funds - January 29, 2002
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Manhattan district attorney's office said Tuesday that 16 people, including 12 Port Authority workers, have been arrested on charges of stealing money meant to help victims of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
The 12 employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey were accused of misrepresenting themselves to the American Red Cross and another charity, Safe Haven, to receive financial assistance. Both charities help the victims of the September 11 attacks and their families.


Still working on the changes - but...

Your honor, Osama made me do it
LAST WEEK, the father of Richard “Shoe Bomber” Reid insisted his son was “brainwashed.” A friend of John “American Taliban” Walker’s told People magazine that Walker had been brainwashed by al-Qaida. And recently, Slate reported that Abd-Samad Moussaoui, the brother of Zacarias “20th Hijacker” Moussaoui, believes that, in Britain, his brother “became prey to an extremist brainwashing cult.”

What is “brainwashing,” and is there any scientific basis for believing it works? Were Osama Bin Laden’s suicide bombers no different from the members of Heaven’s Gate or the residents of Jonestown? Is a “brainwashed” defense open to criminal defendants? Has such a defense ever been used successfully in an American trial? Is the American belief that cults and new religions routinely brainwash their adherents rooted in science or is it merely a marker for a Western intolerance toward novel or strange religions? And might this same public certainty that brainwashing works lead to acquittals in the upcoming terror trials?
Oh, the old "The debbil made me do it" defense, eh? Sorry - Somehow I don't think it's going to fly.

Something else I'm going to admit worries me -

I think there's some of the more fundi Muslims that would like nothing better than to see a true war develop between Christianity (which encompasses (to them) the entire spectrum of religions that have the Bible as a centerpiece) and Islam.

Two reasons for that...

1. It would give those who preach hatred and isolationism a real leg up in the Islamic heirarchy, and...

2. It would get rid of us unclean non-believers, if they suceed.

Of course, sucess in war is a whole lot more complicated than mass charges with fixed bayonettes - covering yourself with massive amounts of personal glory. These days, I think that there's enough evidence in the world media that the Wahabbi version of Islam (as practiced in Saudi Arabia and exported to the rest of the world) is the sort of interpretation of Islam that gives the Koran a bad name. And before you get hot on me about that - I've read SOME (not all, I will admit) of the Koran, and it seems pretty straightforward about how folks following it should live. It doesn't include suicide bombing, it doesn't include killing those who don't convert, and it doesn't include forcing women to dress in shrouds and beating them if they don't comply. Neither does it justify FGM.

However - there are those who will twist it and interpret it and preach it in a fashion to get folks to do the stuff THEY think should be done. And when you're dealing with a relatively illiterate population, it's the preachers that decide what their congregations will believe - not the holy book of the religion. Call it the difference between Dark Islam, where you'll get beaten if your beard isn't long enough, and Light Islam - where women are respected and the culture flourishes.

(Here's a thought... maybe it'd be a good idea to print Arabic primers. Zillions of 'em. Bind them with voice chips reading verses from the Koran that are referenced in the text. Or, depending on cost, do full versions of the Koran in MP3 players - then airdrop them over areas where the Dark Islam is being preached and taught....)

Just a thought.


Monday, January 28
Please be patient - changes are coming...


Sunday, January 27
Every so often, you come across something that gives you a new point of view. In this article about Bill Gates, you get a glimpse of what could have happened if Osama Bin Laden had put his mind, charisma, and money toward solving the REAL problems plaguing the ME, instead of dedicating himself to making them worse.

Maybe I'll buy that copy of Win2000 after all, if a foundation like this is where the money's going.

J. Interview: John Walker Lindh's Lawyer
Lindh was also reunited with his parents for the first time in two years this week. "He was pleased beyond words to see his parents," says Brosnahan. " I think he's glad to be home and he's glad to be in this country. He's a citizen of this country."
Yeah. Right. I'll just bet he was going "You know, I'm getting a bit homesick. I think I'll head home right after Ramadan" on Sept. 10th.

It's clear that Brosnahan and his team plan to fight for Lindh in the court of public opinion as much as the courtroom. However, Brosnahan refuses to go into detail about exactly what sort of legal strategy he and his team will employ to defend Lindh in the case. "It would take all the fun out of it," he says.
It's all just a game, isn't it? Court of public opinion - if he tries to paint this jerk as a victim - remember where he was found. In a prison, right after an uprising.

And ask yourself - why was he there in the first place?


Chilling lessons at al-Qaida U.

The boasting by the al-Qaida teachers permeated the notebooks filled by recruits at the camp. According to the students’ notes, the teachers also provided information about the attacks.
One teacher, Imam Ghurfa, spoke about the planning of the attacks. He said that the airplanes that crashed in New York and Washington were part of a larger conspiracy to hijack 25 airliners around the world and to turn them into weapons of terror.
Ghurfa said that hijackings were planned in “Germany, Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey, Lebanon, Sweden, Iran, Burma, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, UAE, Malaysia, Sudan, Algeria, etc.” U.S. officials analyzing al-Qaida evidence gathered in Afghanistan have said previously that they believe bin Laden’s organization had planned other similar attacks.
There are those who would have us hold back - who would prefer negotiation to true action. The mindset apparent in the materials gathered here, however, is resistant to negotiation except as a means to gain time and resources for further offensive action. I hate to say it, but I don't think there's much in the way of alternatives here. We either go and destroy them, or they will attempt to destroy us.

I'm biased. I'd rather see them destroyed.


I've been wondering...

The counter service I'm using tracks domain addresses, and I've noticed a few folk from outside the US looking in here. If you would, could you take the time to put in a quick comment, who you are (handles are OK), where you're from, and what you're thinking? Curiousity brought you here - how about satisfying some of mine?



VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: The problem we've had is that Henry Waxman doesn't want to have to deal with the substance of the report, but he's tried to attack the report by challenging the process, by saying we didn't meet with the right people. He's gotten the GAO involved now and demanding...

FOX NEWS TONY SNOW: Government Accounting Office.

CHENEY: Government Accounting Office -- and demanding that we produce information about how the report was put together.

Now, we've given him an awful lot. We've given him all the financial records, the work that was done by the agency, all of that's gone to the GAO.

What we've not given them, and where the dispute lies, is they've demanded of me that I give Henry Waxman a listing of everybody I meet with, of everything that was discussed, any advice that was received, notes and minutes of those meetings.

Now, that would be unprecedented in the sense that that's not been done before. It's unprecedented in the sense that it would make it virtually impossible for me to have confidential conversations with anybody.

It, in effect, says that I, and future vice presidents, would be in a position where any time Henry Waxman or any other member of Congress wants to demand of me information about the meetings I hold, I'd have to give it to them. The lawyers in the executive branch are convinced this is a fundamentally bad idea.
Ummm... me, too. I can see where they'd want a fair bit of info, but it seems to me (judging by the statements Vice President Cheney made) they've complied and given all the info necessary and appropriate.

Except, of course, the minutes of the meetings where the Enron execs said "We're going to give you lots of money, and when we strip the company of assets we're going to need the government to bail us out," and the VP Cheney said "Sure, you can count on us."

But basically? All you need to know is this. They gave campaign donations, as many, many companies do. When they needed inappropriate help from the government due to their own foolishness, the government said "Sorry, no. You made the bed, you gotta sleep in it."

And so far, one suicide has resulted from someone who questioned their accounting practices, and quit before it was all discovered. BTW, why hasn't there been a big stink raised about Arthur Andersen?


Saturday, January 26 - Pro-Putin cult urges return to Soviet 'glory'

A SINISTER new organisation, backed by the Kremlin, is urging the Russian people to reject pro-Western views and go back to the "glory" of Soviet Russia.
The 50,000-strong group which calls itself "Walking Together" has strict rules and indoctrination methods, but unlike the Chinese group it has the support of the authorities.
"We want to create a new generation to help the president bring Russia out of crisis," said its founder, Vasily Yakimenko.
Whenever I hear of someone in Russia talking about the "Glory" of Soviet Russia, I just have to wonder where in the Party this person came from. Obviously not the lower levels, because there wasn't much 'glory' there. Or perhaps waiting in lines most of the day for basic necessities was 'glorious' then, because there were at least the necessities available.

Come on, folks - give capitalism a chance. You figured you could ignore it and it would wither - when it's Soviet Russia that did the withering. Communism doesn't work in a closed system - the only way it DOES is by taking over and looting other, more prosperous economies.

I can only hope this bozo doesn't get much more political support than he has now.


AIDS set to surpass Black Death Jan. 25 — AIDS will surpass the Black Death as the world’s worst pandemic if the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS do not get life-prolonging drugs, a public health physician said.
All that's needed is for AIDS to mutate to an airborne version - and you can pretty well kiss civilization goodbye. As well as the human race... Then again, there's always Ebola. That gets any more hardy, and we're in a world of hurt.


Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | UN staff ran refugee extortion racket
Corrupt United Nations staff in Nairobi extorted millions of pounds from refugees desperate for a fresh start in western countries including Britain, UN investigators said yesterday.
Three Kenyan employees of the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, are also charged with conspiring to send a death threat from Osama bin Laden to the US ambassador to Kenya.
They were apparently making a last-ditch effort to scare off the investigators, who began work last year.
The UN gang levied bribes on every stage of the resettlement process.
"To try to obtain entry to the UNHCR compound in Nairobi to be interviewed, it could cost $25 [£18] at the gate and maybe $100 to $200 to be interviewed," the senior UN investigator, Frank Montil, said yesterday.
We're the good guys. Trust us. Give us money, and we'll help you.

Somehow, I don't think this is what the original founders of the UN had in mind...


Friday, January 25 - Hamas Working on Missile That Can Reach Jerusalem
JERUSALEM — The Islamic militant group Hamas is developing a rocket with a range long enough to hit cities in Israel, one of the group's leaders said in an interview.
Moussa Abu Marzook told the CBS' 60 Minutes that the rocket would have a range of six miles, and would be able to hit Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem from inside the West Bank.
CBS said the interview will be aired Sunday, but a summary was released Thursday.
Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, has been responsible for dozens of attacks, including suicide bombings in Israel, killing dozens of Israelis and wounding hundreds during 16 months of Palestinian-Israeli violence.
Is it just me, or is it just terribly, terribly STUPID of the Hamas to announce this development? Are they going to try using it as a barganing chip? "Give us land, or we'll use these on you?" What happened to the LAST political group to systematically use missiles as terror weapons?

They're no longer around. Hamas keeps this up, they may well join the Nazis.


01.25.02: Aero-News Network: Ariana Airways (Afghanistan) Makes First International Flight The First in a Long Time...
It's been over two years since Ariana Afghan Airlines made a commercial flight. They got their surviving aircraft, a 727, back into service this week, on a flight from Kabul to New Delhi.
A lot of Ariana's livery was wrecked in the 1980s war with the Soviet Union; all of the aircraft that survived that, and the terrible decade that followed, were rendered various degrees of 'unserviceable' since the bombing started October 7.
The UN has been keeping Ariana hemmed in, as well, prohibiting most international flights, until it lifted its own ban on January 13. In recent years, Ariana flew to only a few international destinations: Tajikistan, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
The historic 'rebirth' flight showed off a crew of 12, and 13 PAX, including Ariana's president, and Afghanistan's Tourism Minister [now, there's a dream job! --ANN ed.]
"Good on ya, mate!" as the Aussies would say. You've got a long way to go, but getting back into something resembling civilized transportation is a sign of progress.

Now, don't let the backwards looking cretins foul you up....


About Zogby International
Zogby Special Feature -
President George W. Bush is judged the third greatest among the last dozen U.S. Presidents, the annual Zogby Presidential Greatness Poll shows. Detailed X-tab information below.

The survey, conducted January 7-9 of 1,122 registered voters nationwide, showed Bush's combined great/near great rating at 63% (37% great, 26% near great), following in greatness only John F. Kennedy (71%) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (70%).

Well, so far, so good. But past performance doesn't equate to future results. Personally, however, I'm glad to see a President that doesn't depend on polls to give him direction.


His 63% rating also puts him ahead of Harry Truman (58%) and Ronald Reagan (56%) who last year occupied the third and fourth rankings respectively.

This is the fifth Presidential Greatness Poll conducted annually by Zogby International. The poll has a margin of sampling error of /- 3.2%.

Is the U.N. Running Brothels in Bosnia?
If prostitution is illegal in Bosnia, then why — in the presence of some 20,000 NATO peacekeepers and thousands of other U.N. officials, policemen and aid workers — has sexual trafficking in the region become an international scandal?

One answer may be that the United Nation's police force may be turning a blind eye or, even worse, participating in the sex trafficking itself. It certainly seems that, as the scandal emerges, the corruption reaches upward into the United Nations.

Last summer, American Kathryn Bolkovac, a former Nebraska police woman, was fired from the U.N.'s International Police Task Force. Bolkovac claims it was because she spoke out against the United Nation's involvement in sex trafficking. Through interviews with 85 women coerced into sex, Bolkovac learned that U.N. officers were not only using the women for sex but also seemed to be active in the business end — for example, the forging of documents to transport young girls across national borders.

Perhaps this is to be expected from the enlightened nations there. But somehow, if the US were doing it, think there wouldn't be an international outcry?

Hate to see it, but the more I see of the way overseas nations are handling things like peacekeeping, and reading their reactions to our actions - the less impressed I am with the ethics and sensibilities of the older countries. I can see why isolationists get the way they do. I wouldn't want the UN running brothels in the US...


Lindh Showed Zeal of Converts

HASSANI KALAN SURANI, Pakistan –– During his six months of study at an Islamic school here, John Walker Lindh expressed admiration for the Taliban and even talked of taking four wives as permitted under Islam, according to those who knew him.

Lindh, known here by his Muslim name, Sulayman al-Faris, is remembered in this Pakistani village 165 miles southwest of Islamabad as a kind and earnest young man devoted to his religious studies.

But, according to the recollections of some here, Lindh showed the telltale signs of militancy and even shared some of the radical Taliban interpretations of his new faith.

"He often told me that the Taliban's Islam was complete and they don't fear anyone except God," said Mufti Mohammed Iltimas, the headmaster of the Madrassa-e-Arabia, or Arabic School, where Lindh studied until May 15. (Bet they've changed their tune on that now...)

Iltimas said the 20-year-old Californian also expressed a desire to take four wives – a practice allowed by Islam but discouraged by many Muslim clerics.

"He was speaking seriously," Iltimas said. "He is a man and every man has desires."
His parents, however, are saying he was young and impressionable, and shouldn't be held responsible for his decisions. However, they had no objections (apparently) to him travelling halfway around the world to 'find himself'. If he was so irresponsible and in need of guidance (by them, apparently) they should have kept him at home.

And I think the 'self' he found should have stayed lost.


Thursday, January 24 - Call to prayer made for detainees held in Cuba - January 24, 2002
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A U.S. Navy chaplain announced the first morning call to prayer for the 158 Taliban and al Qaeda detainees at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, early Thursday morning.
After prayers, the chaplain -- who is a Navy lieutenant and also a Muslim cleric -- moved up and down the row of cells, making contact with the detainees, who are using some of the 400 copies of the Koran that the Pentagon said have been delivered to the base.
So, tell me again how 'cruel' and 'heartless' we are to these prisoners? They're likely eating better than they ever did in Afghanistan, the weather is warm, they have shelter and free medical care, and they have their religious needs met.

Seems to me, as I've said before, we're putting out a lot of effort to make sure they're okay.


Partisan Review - Marx, Money, and Mysticism after Mao
An old story used to circulate in the Soviet Union: once there was an emperor who was very evil and very fierce. He said two plus two equals six. All the people were afraid of him and agreed that two plus two equals six.
When the emperor died the next emperor was less evil and less fierce. He said two plus two equals five. All the people asked themselves, "How could we have been so stupid as to believe that two plus two equals six?"
A young mathematician thought for a long time. He concluded two plus two equals four. He wrote a book to prove his theory. He decided to take it to the publisher, but on the way, two strangers approached him. "Comrade," they asked, "what are you doing? Do you really want to go back to the days when two and two were six?"
The story applies more to contemporary China than it ever did to the Soviet Union. Chairman Mao was the first emperor. The leaders who have ruled since Mao, most notably Deng Xiaoping, are the second emperor. The mathematician who dared to think the unthinkable was the people who sat in Tiananmen Square for six weeks in 1989. And the two strangers who told the mathematician not to rock the boat are the apparent majority of the citizens of China.
A long read, but an interesting one, on how to get China to dump Marx.


Gateway slashing 2,250 more jobs
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 24 — Gateway Inc. said on Thursday it eked out a profit in the fourth quarter as sales slid by more than half, but the No. 4 U.S. personal computer maker announced a new round of job cuts and store closings. Gateway, which has lost market share amid a price war led by Dell Computer Corp., is cutting about 2,250 jobs, a 16 percent reduction in a work force that was cut by 25 percent last year when the computer maker shut its foreign operations.
They come and they go. Anyone seen an AST PC lately? That company has essentially folded. It's all part of the game, I guess - but it's kind of a sad one to see a known brand fall by the wayside. Osborne, Kaypro, Commodore, Amiga... Take a look at the Obsolete Computer Museum and see how many YOU remember....


Rich Lowry on Geneva Convention on National Review Online
Not only has al Qaeda not signed the Geneva Convention, al Qaeda and the Taliban aren't even governments. Remember, it wasn't just the United States that said that the Taliban wasn't the legitimate government of Afghanistan, even the United Nations took that position.
At its heart, the Geneva Convention, as Cornell's Jeremy Rabkin explains, is about reciprocity between governments — you treat our prisoners decently, we'll treat yours decently.
Saying it applies to al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners is like saying the START II agreement should apply to relations between the U.S. and Belgium, or — even more aptly — to U.S. relations with the Hell's Angels. Because al Qaeda and the Taliban are, in essence, armed, criminal gangs, and nothing more.
So how well SHOULD we treat them? Personally, I think they've got it at lot more cushy than they should now.


The Times Taleban army rises again to face US

A RENEGADE army of 5,000 Taleban soldiers with 450 tanks, armoured carriers and pick-up trucks is locked in a tense stand-off with American special forces in Afghanistan.
The troops fled Kandahar with their commander and more than 100 senior Taleban figures in December after reneging on a surrender agreement. They have regrouped among villages in the mountainous region of Ghazni province, northwest of Kandahar.
Let's see. 450 tanks and armored (personnel) carriers. Guess that's about 10 A-10 sorties, maybe 20. Oh, heck, let's give everyone some flight time, and make it 45. (I can see the pre-mission brief now. "Remember - your limit is 10. Anyone bagging more than 10 vehicles WILL be subject to disciplinary action. It's a $5 fine for each one over the limit - and remember, leave some for the next guy!"

It does show, however, that the mess over there IS NOT over, not by a long shot.


Commets on Bellesiles Story

But, as is all too often the case, the way Bellesiles tells things does not appear to be the way events actually occurred. The Emory Report (May 8, 2000, Volume 52, No. 32), which is published by the administration of the University, says, in part: "On the evening of Sunday, April 2, a connector on a sprinkler main broke on the building's third floor. Contractors had been working on the plumbing. When the flow of the water was finally cut off about 25 minutes later, standing water was two inches deep in some places, and practically no part of Bowden Hall escaped completely dry." Now, if a scholar at a university had all of his notes destroyed for a well-known book which took more than 10 years to write -- as Arming America did -- you'd think this would be big news and a lot of folks would know about such a disaster. But, we've been unable to confirm Belllesiles' story. In fact, we've found much evidence to contradict his claim. For example, the previously mentioned Emory Report quotes Janice Mohlhenrich, preservation coordinator for Emory University, as saying of the Bowden Hall Flood: "We were able to look at things that professors thought were irretrievably lost, but we looked at them and said, 'Sure, we can fix this.'" In an interview, when asked about the extent of damage to Bellesiles' materials, Mohlhenrich said: "I don't know. I know that we brought a number of his things over to the preservation lab and dried them out for him." Q: Did Bellesiles bring a lot of stuff to you? A: "No, not a great deal."
Bellesiles, as you may know, authored a work of purported scholarly accuracy that stated that there were very few firearms in colonial America. He seems to have done a lot of checking of non-existant sources, ignored a lot of data in file sthat he DID supposedly check, and to top it all off, when questioned he said all his notes were destroyed in a flood. His work was hailed as definitive by the anti-personal ownership of firearms advocates, sich as HCI.

But he's lost support since he wouldn't share his data for independent checking. Even the folks in Emory's history department are mentioning the 'f' word in relation to his work now. And when they do that, it's a real problem.

The 'f' word? Fraud.


Wednesday, January 23
According to court records, the petition filed "alleges that the detainees are being held in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Convention. It requests that U.S. authorities produce the prisoners in a U.S. court, explain the reasons for their decision and accord them due-process guarantees."
Given that none of them is an American citizen (like John Walker), why must they receive "due process guarantees" of the very Constitution they seek to destroy? It seems a bit over-zealous of some human rights advocates.
You'd think such advocates would have enough to do in the corner of the world these prisoners came from. After all, not one single Arab country practices freedom or has a functioning legitimate democracy. None respects basic human rights, and some — like Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia — are among the most brutal, repressive nations on earth.
Double standard - sadly, the repression and brutality are almost EXPECTED from those countries - but not from the US. If anything even HINTS at it - you can expect all the so called 'human rights activists' will immediately leap at it. They know they'd have a chance at correcting things if the US is doing wrong. Those other countries - they don't have a chance and they know it.


Quick thought:

You ever notice how some folks overseas are so eager to bash the US for anything, up to and including exporting Brittany Spears? (Frankly, I'm not sure I blame them there.) But you've also noticed who they turn to first when help is needed, right?

Or maybe, it's just because we're first to offer.

Aren't we as a country just totally mean and heartless?


Avoiding a recipe for failure
This is the period that will test whether a war that has been described, correctly, in epic terms is met with eventual success. The great danger in this war was never that the initial military aims would fail; it was, and is, that initial and limited success in these aims would persuade a people not eager for epic struggle (no people ever are) that victory was theirs, and it was time to open another bag of Doritos.
War is mostly a slog and a grind, and the tedious police and diplomatic work necessary to build upon military success is even more of a slog and a grind. Like other empire-nations before it, America is rich enough to support a great foreign legion (of soldiers, governors, aid-givers, spies) who slog and grind professionally. The sacrifices required by the rest of us are, most of the time, at a minimum.
But the minimum is there. It is to support the slog and the grind; to lose interest perhaps, but not heart or patience; to remember the long goals and to accept the long costs.
It's necessary to remember that the rebuilding of Afghanistan is going to be just as important as the destruction of the Taliban. Look on it as important as rebuilding Germany and Japan were after WW2. If we do it right, we'll have a good friend in the region AND it will enhance our prestige. We do it wrong - well......


The Vanishing 401K Revisited

In our last episode, our hero had just opened his 401K statement, and was ghastly flabbered (as opposed to flabbergasted) to find that suddenly his accounts were balanced right at zero! Phone calls to an ex-employer ensued, and the following information was gathered....

Well, it seems like the company had stopped using ADP for their payroll services. They had started using Paychex - and had rolled the funds over into the Payckex 401K fund without telling any of the 401K plan participants in advance. Supposedly we were to be told - but I sure didn't get anything resembling a letter stating that was going to happen. Apparently I'll be getting a welcome package from Paychex in a week or so.

So at this point I'll put the question out. Should I stay with these folk for the 401K stuff, or roll my funds over into an IRA?


Just a few quick ones...

Saudi Dress Code for Female Troops Revised
Seven years after the Air Force's top-ranked female fighter pilot began a one-woman crusade, the Defense Department yesterday dropped its requirement that female military personnel in Saudi Arabia put on black, head-to-toe gowns when leaving their base.

The action comes at a time when some congressional leaders are questioning whether the United States should withdraw its military forces from the kingdom. Saudi officials are reportedly considering whether American troops should leave.

Lt. Col. Martha McSally had sued Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over the dress code. She contended that the policy on abayas, a form of head-to-toe gown similar to the burqa worn by many women in Afghanistan, discriminates against women and violates their religious freedom by forcing them to adopt the garb of another faith.

McSally also is fighting regulations that prohibit the nearly 1,000 military women stationed in Saudi Arabia from driving, sitting in the front seat of vehicles and leaving base except in the company of men. Those restrictions apparently remain.
We get oil from Saudi - they get money from us. That doesn't give them the right to tell us how we should force our military to act. I think this is a long overdue change.

‘Free energy’ or ‘voodoo science’?

A COLD stone house on a windswept Irish hillside may seem an unlikely setting for the birthplace of such an epoch-making discovery, but it is here that an Irish inventor says he has developed a machine that could change the world.
The 58-year-old electrical engineer, who lives in the Irish republic and intends — for “security and publicity-avoidance reasons” — to keep his identity a secret, has spent 23 years perfecting the Jasker Power System.
It is an electromechanical device he says is capable of replenishing its own energy source.

Emitting a steady motorized hum, the machine kept three 100-watt light bulbs lit for the duration.
A multimeter reading of the batteries’ voltage before the device started up showed a total of 48.9 volts. When it was switched off, a second reading showed 51.2 volts, indicating that the voltage had not run down.
The machine went on to run for around two hours while photographs were taken, with no diminution in the brightness of the light bulbs, which remained lit during a short power cut.
“The draw on the batteries was estimated at more than 4.5 kilowatts. With any existing technology the batteries would have been drained flat in one and a half minutes,” the inventor said.
Let's see. 3 100 watt bulbs - that's 300 watts/hour. Times 2 hours, that's 600 watts - not 4.5 kilowatts. Unless they've got some other load, I'd think 4 12 volt car batteries would be able to handle a 300 watt load for two hours. Smells fishy to me...

FTC proposes hotline
to thwart telemarketers
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 — The Federal Trade Commission is proposing the creation of a national “do not call” registry that would allow consumers to ward off unwanted telemarketers with a single phone call.
Yea, verily, there was much rejoicing at the news. And when they finished rejoicing (being able to properly rejoice for the first time in a long time with no fear of interruption by telemarketers) they did the dinner dishes and went along the rest of the evening in blessed quiet.


Tuesday, January 22
About Us: Overview - United Devices, Inc.™
By combining thousands of ordinary PCs to work on extremely large computational projects, problems can be solved more quickly and less expensively than by conventional methods. Now regular people can help fuel research and projects that previously may have required a bank of supercomputers or a hundred years to complete. The Volunteer Your PC program lets you make a real difference without donating money or your time with the tool that you are using to view this site right now—your home PC.
In our Volunteer Your PC program, your computer can join tens of thousands of other PCs across the Internet each working on a small part of a large problem simultaneously. You can help one or more public good projects. To participate, simply download a very small, non-invasive software program that works like a screensaver: it runs when your computer isn't being used, and processes projects—until you need the power. Your computer never leaves your desk, and the project never interrupts your usual PC use.
The way I look at it, this is a worthwhile cause. I've got it (as well as Seti@home) running on my system, and it seems to be running just fine. FWIW, I've got it running the Anthrax antitoxin routine - though theres several other ones. Take a look - I think it's worth it.

J. - Daschle offers to break impasse on economy bill - January 22, 2002
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle proposed Tuesday to break the impasse on the economic stimulus package by bringing a scaled-back version of the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.
Forgive me for saying this - but isn't this a hoot? First he does all he can to block any sort of government sponsored recovery - then when it looks like the economy is recovering WITHOUT help, he starts pushing for a stimulus package. A scaled back one.

In other words - he's got to hop on the economy train before it leaves him (and the Democratic party) in the dust.


Bush, Daschle fall out as Congress returns
Sometime in October, the phone calls between Bush and Daschle trailed off. Relations frayed further with winter's chill; they fought over, and failed to pass, legislation to boost the sagging economy. Today, as Congress returns and Bush prepares his first State of the Union address, the working relationship between the Republican president and the Democratic Senate leader has become tense and wary.
That has broad implications for the nation's government and politics. While Daschle has solidly supported Bush's management of the war on terrorism, their differences on nearly every other issue portend a congressional session of little achievement. The tug of partisan politics makes collaboration even less likely: Both Bush and Daschle want to win control of the House and Senate in November, and Daschle is among a handful of Democrats who might run for president against Bush in 2004.
So it's back to politics as usual - which means that the country can go rot as far as Democrats are concerned, if they don't get their way. Daschle's little grandstand play blocking any sort of economic stimulus package showed just how much they really care about the voter - but you can bet that the economy will be high on the list come campaigning time. And what do you want to bet that what we're in is going to rival the Great Depression - at least from their electoral angle? Of course, they wouldn't exaggerate just to influence voters...

Better pack up the Model A and head to California - maybe I can find a job pickin' grapes before the economy really crashes and the refugees hit the roads. Man, I'll sure hate giving up my job at Lockheed, though...


National ID in development But enthusiasm for the system appears to be fading, poll says
WASHINGTON -- With the nation's nerves still raw from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, some federal and state authorities are hoping the public is primed to accept a national identification card.
But the public's willingness to trade some privacy for the promise of increased security seems to be slipping.

A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll released last week says just more than half of all adults would support a national identification card that includes fingerprint information. Two months ago, several polls indicated that more than two-thirds of all adults would support a national ID card.
Here's the big question - how do you make it so it can't be duplicated? Short of putting some pretty high-tech stuff into it, like using a smart-card that would have a record of, oh, your iris pattern on it - that would need to be verified with a central data repository whenever you:

took a trip outside the country,
made an expensive purchase,
crossed state lines,
made a withdrawl from your bank,
went grocery shopping...

and what about the electronics infrastructure needed for that? Admittedly, it'd be about as difficult to create as the network used to verify credit card purchases, but how happy would most people be with the intrusion factor?

I wouldn't be. Remember - our government derives it's power from OUR consent, not the other way around.


The Sun - Camp X-Ray prisoners not mistreated
PRISONERS at Camp X-Ray are NOT being mistreated in any way, an official report found yesterday.

The study by British diplomats exposed the bleatings of hand-wringing liberals as a pack of LIES.

The dossier on scores of al-Qa’ida prisoners being held at a US base in Cuba confirmed none was being softened up for interrogation with “sensory deprivation”.

It found NO gags, NO shackles and NO blindfolds were routinely used and dismissed claims that captives were kept like animals.

Downing Street said: “We were assured the detainees would be treated in a humane way and believe this is the case.”

British investigators concluded the captives were well fed, were called to prayer through public address loudspeakers — and were even sprayed to PROTECT them from mosquito bites.
And in a sidebar...
Ugly side of Labour exposed

TONY Blair sent a shining example to the world when he put Britain “shoulder to shoulder” with America to stamp out global terrorism.

Now there is a growing danger that all his good work will be squandered in the Camp X-Ray row.

There is a suspicion around Westminster that Labour is trying to have it both ways.

Downing Street has stuck by Washington.

But the party has an ugly anti-American streak.

Yesterday dozens of MPs poured poison on our allies.

And some ministers have conspicuously failed to stand up to the hand-wringing chattering classes obsessed with al-Qa’ida prisoners’ human rights.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called into question America’s handling of the terrorist suspects — despite knowing they were being treated fairly.
Now ask yourself - WHY would they want to portray the US as mistreating the prisoners?

Don't know about you, but I don't like the answers I come up with.


The Vanishing 401k -

Well - isn't THIS just too interesting...

When I left Syscon Technologies 3+ years ago, I left my 401K in their care, since the mutual funds I'd chosen were doing pretty well. What with the Internet boom and bust, I lost about a quarter of that amount - but still had more than I started with. So far, so good, right? I get my quarterly statement - and it looks like I took a distribution.

My account balances are reading Zero. That's right - $0.00. Zilch. Goose eggs. Nada. Nothing. Because sometime in the last 90 days I took a distribution or payout of those funds.

This is, as the saying goes, news to me. I don't recall getting a hefty infusion, and I'm pretty sure I'd notice a check with 5 figures on it. So tomorrow I need to see just what's going on.

I'll keep you posted.


Monday, January 21
Ever wonder what temperature extremes those poor prisoners are experiencing? Well, take a look at - Local Weather - Guantanamo Bay NAS, Cuba and see. It's terrible. Simply terrible. Those poor prisoners, yanked from the gentle weather conditions of Afghanistan and tossed into the horror of the Caribbean winter...

But then, compared to Kabul, I suppose it's not that bad.

Hey, folks pay good money to stay at all inclusive hotels in the Caribbean. These guys get everything paid for. Admittedly, their recreational activities are a bit limited, but if they behave themselves, maybe they'll get a beach trip.


Authorities follow e-mail trail in shoe bomb case
French police sources say accused shoe bomber Richard Reid sent an email to someone in Pakistan after he failed to get on his intended Paris-to-Miami flight because of questioning from security personnel. The sources say Reid asked an unidentified person what to do and was told to get on the next plane to Miami. The sources said Reid also sent an e-mail to his mother in which he appeared to be saying goodbye.
The Internet never forgets. E-mail goes through servers - servers get backed up. Even the 'anonymous' ones.


Genuine Hero's War Memorabilia Seized by Screeners
WWII Super-Ace Joe Foss Hassled; MoH Ancillaries Taken by Lunatic Screeners
Now-General (ret.) Joe Foss, 86, paid for his own flying lessons partly by waiting tables; at 27, he was considered "too old" to fly combat; but the second lieutenant finagled 150 hours in Wildcats, and was soon given Pacific Theater duty, where he ran up 26 kills, equaling Capt Eddie Rickenbacker's WWI total.
In 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor. He nearly had that medal taken from him by some of the jerks who screen passengers at Sky Harbor International, in Phoenix (AZ), as he tried to board a flight to DC on January 11.
These dimbulbs were giving Foss, a man whose loyalty to the USA is unquestioned, a hard time, because of their "one level of security" (lack of) mentality. They didn't know what the Medal of Honor was, and they wanted to take it, because it might be used as a weapon!
This'll come as no surprise to those who are either travelling frequently or watch the news. In the interests of 'fairness' and to avoid racial profiling (which is, I suppose, worse than actually hijacking a plane) there is a zero-tolerance policy being enforced that is so rigid that an 86 year old man carrying a nail file, a Medalof Honor, and a commemorative bullet (de-milled and inert) gets seriously hassled by screeners who after getting the nail file and bullet, want to take the Medal also.

Probably one of the cretins thought it'd look good dangling from his jacket when off-duty.


Aid Groups warned of rising dangers
Despite the growing security concerns and some calls within the interim Afghan government for a greater presence of international security troops throughout the nation, there has been no sign that U.S. or U.N. officials will push to extend the international security force outside of Kabul. In his visit to the capital city last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Afghans should take responsibility for their own security, adding that international assistance should be designed to “train Afghans to take care of themselves and not depend on foreign forces to do so.”
The tribal leaders in Afghanistan see more to be gained by being a small fish in a drying pond than from restoring the country's infrastructure to a 20th century standard - or even trying to drag it into the 19th century.

That attitude has gotten Afghanistan where it is today.

Works well, doesn't it?


Sunday, January 20 - Saddam Hussein Discusses Mobilizing Iraqi Troops Against U.S. Attack
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein and his senior aides met Sunday to discuss a general mobilization of Iraqis against a possible U.S. strike, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.
President Bush recently warned Saddam there would be consequence if Iraq did not resume co-operation with U.N. arms inspectors, who have been barred from Iraq since 1998.
On Sunday, Saddam chaired a meeting of the two most powerful bodies in his regime — the Revolutionary Command Council and the Regional Command of the ruling Baath party — to discuss ways to improve a mobilization of Iraqis, INA said.
The meeting discussed means to "confront the malicious, hostile plans that the rulers of America are brandishing against our people, and how to thwart them," the agency added.
Here's an idea - allow the inspectors in, and don't hinder them. Cooperate fully. Show you've got something in your head besides a skullful of megalomaniacal tendencies. That'll go a long way toward getting the sanctions lifted. But mindless blocking won't do it.

Then again, maybe someone'll get smart, and kill Saddam. And kill his sucessor if the replacement thinks he can run a country by being a big man with a gun.

Because it's pretty clear that Iraq doesn't have the horsepower needed to stop us if we decide to come in force. I don't even think it'd take a hundred hours this time, once we pasted it a while from the air. Last time, we stoped because it was a rout, and we didn't want to jeapordize the Coalition. The Coalition doesn't exist any more. Saudi isn't too friendly - though they're working on retracting what some interior people said. And if the terrorist trail leads to Iraq - we're going to follow it.

J. - Britain and US in rift over terrorist prisoners
While the issue is worrying Britain and much of Europe, the American public and the opposition Democrats have accepted the White House view that the harsh measures are needed for security reasons.
Mr Rumsfeld, describing the 110 al-Qa'eda and Taliban captives at the base as "very tough, hard-core, well-trained terrorists", said yesterday it was wrong to suggest that they were being treated inhumanely.
"Obviously anyone would be concerned if people were suggesting that treatment were not proper," he said. "The fact is that treatment is proper. There is no doubt in my mind that it is humane and appropriate and consistent with the Geneva convention for the most part."
The prisoners were receiving excellent medical care and "culturally appropriate food" three times a day.
"They are being allowed to practise their religion, which is not something that they encouraged on the part of others. They are clothed cleanly and they are dry and safe."
Mr Rumsfeld suggested that criticism of their treatment was an insult to the troops guarding them.
And precisely how are we not treating them in accordance with the Geneva protocols? Should we allow them access to materials to make weapons? Perhaps give them opportunities to escape? Should we deny them the way to worship as they want? Or is it perhaps that many in Europe are thinking... "We've got to use public pressure to make the US toe the line on this - because they're strong enough that we can't force them."

But it was okay for the Taliban to beat and kill those who didn't practice Islam. No possible trace of a double standard there, eh?

Update: BBC Says Things Are Okay I'd trust the BBC over Pravda any day.

J. SPECIALS - Anthrax missing from Army lab
Lab specimens of anthrax spores, Ebola virus and other pathogens disappeared from the Army's biological warfare research facility in the early 1990s, during a turbulent period of labor complaints and recriminations among rival scientists there, documents from an internal Army inquiry show.

The 1992 inquiry also found evidence that someone was secretly entering a lab late at night to conduct unauthorized research, apparently involving anthrax. A numerical counter on a piece of lab equipment had been rolled back to hide work done by the mystery researcher, who left the misspelled label "antrax" in the machine's electronic memory, according to the documents obtained by The Courant.
Oh, boy. Wonder just what samples? How much? Anthrax spores supposedly keep indefinitly... Ebola, however, is much more fragile. Hopefully, this will turn out to be nothing...


Friday, January 18
Saudis may seek U.S. departure
Jan. 18 — Saudi Arabia’s rulers are increasingly uncomfortable with the U.S. military presence in their country and may soon ask that it end, according to several Saudi sources. Such a decision would deprive the United States of regular use of the Prince Sultan Air Base, from which American power has been projected into the gulf region and beyond for more than a decade.

Senior Saudi rulers believe the United States has “overstayed its welcome” and that other forms of less conspicuous military cooperation should be devised once the United States has completed its war in Afghanistan, according to a senior Saudi official. The United States has been using a state-of-the-art command center on the Prince Sultan base that was opened last summer as a key command-and-control facility during the Afghan conflict.

Saudis give several reasons for deciding that the Americans should leave, beginning with their desire to appear self-reliant and not dependent on U.S. military support. The American presence has become a political liability in domestic politics and in the Arab world, Saudi officials say. The Saudi government has also become increasingly uncomfortable with a role in U.S. efforts to contain Saddam Hussein, and earlier ruled out use of Saudi territory as a base for bombing raids on Iraq.
Arabic Solidarity? Or peevishness at being essentially a 3rd World country DESPITE massive income from oil?

Here's a hint, guys. (yeah, like the Saudi Princes are ever going to see this...)

Dump the Islamofacism, dump the dictatorial controls on what your people can see and do. You're essentially a theocracy - and I don't care how much you pretty it up (and you aren't really bothering to) you're STILL going to be a dictatorial theocracy. You AREN'T irreplaceable, and attempting to make yourselves so by controlling every aspect of your subjects lives is going to backfire. Take a look in Iran - they're seeing the light. Your best hope is to back off on the people and stop taking everything for yourselves.


It’s a man-eat-XXXXX XXX XXXX world
On Jan. 14, animal rights activists silenced the industry’s PR campaign kickoff. On Jan. 19, XXXXXX hackers plan to attack the Web sites of French and American media companies that have disparaged XXXXX XXX XXXX food. The controversy has even invaded New York, where lawmakers are considering whether to ban XXXXXX XX XXXX (which is legal in 44 states) amid reports that it’s being sold there.
Editorials have expressed disgust at the practice, and XXXXXXXX-Americans are assuring the public that they, too, find it barbaric. Everybody wants to show that he’s civilized by condemning the eating of XXXXX XXX XXXX. There’s only one problem: Nobody can explain why it’s wrong. In fact, on closer examination, the arguments against XXXXXX XXX XXXX-eating turn out to be creepier than XXXXXX XXX XXXX-eating itself.


Link it and see. And then ask yourself - why SHOULDN'T you eat it?


The Times - Jet 'saved by the sweaty feet of shoe bomber'
SWEATY feet and the unwitting action of nearby passengers prevented Richard Reid, the alleged British shoe bomber, from blowing up an airliner, according to sources close to the investigation.

Mr Reid had trouble igniting his explosive-packed trainers because his feet were sweating and had dampened the non-metal fuse, said US officials.
Oh, if only he had known about THIS cure for sweaty feet. Who says the Internet is useless?


Why the White House Doesn't Leak
I called Mary Matalin and asked her why this White House doesn't leak when every other White House she ever worked in did. She said, "There's this notion (in the press) that this White House is just so well disciplined and well organized. They think it's run like a camp!" But the real key to the success of the No Leak Law is simple: "Because we have a common agenda we're not trying to advance any position but the president's. So we don't use the vehicle of leaks to advance our own agenda. The Washington press thinks of leaking as 'conflict leaking'--you leak to them to advance an agenda that is apart from the president's, or to force an argument in a certain direction. We don't have that. There aren't any separate ideological or policy vents, we're here to advance his policy. Previous administrations, you didn't like the way it was going you'd leak it out in the press."
Then she said something no White House aid in modern history has ever felt compelled to say, "We do leak!" she insisted. "We leak stuff all the time about what we're doing and why, but it's not conflict leaking."
And they leak what Mr. Bush wants leaked. "He speaks in English not just to America but to us. He makes the agenda clear. It's not unclear, there's no guessing, what he's thinking or wanting or going--he's straightforward."
No wonder the spinmasters don't like him. He's honest (a lot more so than many of our past presidents) he's direct (which used to be a fatal flaw in Washington) and he's straigthforward. As the saying goes - it's hard to cheat an honest man.


Thursday, January 17 - Biologically Speaking, Race Doesn't Exist
Dr. J. Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics, the company that recently mapped the human genome, recently said of race and biology, "It is disturbing to see reputable scientists and physicians . . . categorizing things in terms of race."
Dr. Venter’s statements were emphatically backed by Dr. Joseph L. Graves Jr., author of The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at Millennium," in a recent New York Times interview.
"Possibly only six genes determine the color of a person’s skin," Graves, a professor of evolutionary biology and African-American Studies at Arizona University, said in the Times interview.
Six genes, out of the 30,000 to 40,000 genes that make us human, determine race. Graves further asserted what genome researches have been uncovering over several years as the mapping project has wound down: as far as biology is concerned, race doesn’t exist.
Black, white, Asian—all are artificial, really. A black man and a white man from Manhattan, for example, are likely to be more genetically similar than a black man from Manhattan and a black man from Nigeria."
A very nice article pointing out that we're a whole lot more alike than we are different. But a couple of paragraphs really hit home.

The 2000 U.S. Census lists eleven different racial and ethnic classifications, and allows for any hybrid combination of those eleven.

The last Census also was steeped in racial classification controversy. Should minorities be "actually enumerated," or estimated via statistical sampling? Federal dollars are routinely allocated on the basis of race, as are federal contracts to private firms. The use of race in college admissions processes has mired academia in turmoil and controversy. Private companies are closely monitored to ensure the workers on their payroll have faces tinted to "look like America."

Following the government’s lead, sociologists, demographers, statisticians and academics endlessly break down our television viewing habits, purchases, mortality rates, income and voting patterns into black and white, red and yellow.

Is it any wonder then why America is race-obsessed?

Black Americans are routinely told that they are sicker, poorer, less intelligent, less upwardly-mobile, less motivated, more criminally-inclined and more prone to illegitimacy than their white and Asian counterparts.

Of course none of these maladies is predicated on biology. They are class disparities, not race disparities. As conservative columnist George Will recently noted, if one could wave a magic wand over black America and make it white, black America’s problems would not disappear with its pigment.
Well, sure. Take any any need to succeed at life and toss in a safety net, introduce the idea that culture is more important than anything else, alter the culture to emphasize violence and denigrate education and scholarship, and you end up with problems. Why is this so hard to understand?

Question is - will those who complain most about them do something about them? Or are they willing to live with the probems and make no attempt to solve them?

Affirmative action, a program that rewards race for race’s sake, usually at the expense of merit, is a fine example. Black social critics on the left and right have lamented that academic success in urban high schools and among black communities on college campuses is often equated with the "whiteness," or at the very least, with the lack of "blackness," of the African American students."
It's time, seriously, to start looking at the impact of culture on students. If you, as a school principle, were to suddenly suggest to your students and parents that 'blackness' meant stupidity - you'd be hounded out of office. If you suggested to them that their skin color should have an effect on how they're evaluated on what they've learned, you'd likely be labeled a hero.
However, it seems that 'blackness' means selective ignorance - when it comes to education. And here's the question - should the things that school teaches (reading, writing, and math) vary because of your skin color? Could it be postulated that '2+2=4' for caucasians, while '2+2=many' is acceptable for african-americans? Heck - for Asians, it'd be '2+2=4.0' - but the Asian cultures promote education and scholarship. African-American culture doesn't seem to. And this is a definite problem for all of us.


Wednesday, January 16
Pravda.RU Justin Raimondo: THE WAR IS A TRAP
The US national interest is in no way served by the destabilization of Pakistan, and the news in this regard is hardly comforting: the latest is that Islamabad is relocating its nuclear weapons out of the country. Kashmir is about to explode, and this could trigger a nuclear exchange with Pakistan's arch-rival, India. Across the Muslim world, the "street" is roiling and ready to explode in a paroxysm of rage, bringing down pro-Western governments from Cairo to Riyadh, threatening even Turkey. Such a pan-Muslim uprising would throw the world economy into chaos, with the West's access to oil blocked: our recession could well turn into a worldwide depression."
Well, the "street" isn't roiling too much at this point. And if Saudi were to block our oil - we've got our own sources. They, however, don't have other customers - and they're dependent on US.

Consider, gentle reader, the source of the article. Pravda. With a name like that - you'll know it's spun.


Yale Daily News - Academia must recognize patriotism's merits
In "Politics," Aristotle famously asked the question whether a good citizen is the same as a good human being. Can we be both loyal members of a particular city, nation or state and at the same time fulfill our larger moral obligations and duties to humanity? Is there a conflict between a commitment to intellectual inquiry and the free exchange of ideas wherever they may lead and the offices of citizenship that require loyalty to a particular set of institutions, practices and beliefs? In short, is patriotism a virtue? If so, what kind of virtue is it?

In recent years, universities have not been friendly to the discussion of patriotism. Raise the issue and you are likely to hear either Samuel Johnson's barb that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" or E.M. Forster's wish that if he had to betray either his country or his friend, he would have the courage to betray his country. Forster presents the choice of friendship over country, of private over public goods, as a tragic, even noble, decision.

But Forster's way of posing the problem is false. Loyalty is a moral habit, just as betrayal is a moral vice. People who practice one are less likely to indulge the other. A few years after Forster made this comment, three young Cambridge University undergraduates, Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, chose to betray their country and within a short time began to betray one another.

Loyalty, like betrayal, is not a bus that one can get off at will. Rather, people who betray in one area of their lives are more likely to do so in others. None of this helps answer the question, what is patriotism and why is it a virtue?

It's interesting to see an academic try to rationalize out his increased sense of patriotism, and to call for a more balanced approach to the concept. A good read, and thought-provoking.

Addendum: One question I've got - who the heck are Philby, Burgess, & McLean, and how were they traitors? Oh - wait a sec. (Quick Google Search...)

Burgess, MacLean and Philby
Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean were British diplomats who disappeared in 1951 and surfaced in Moscow in 1956. There was speculation that Harold "Kim" Philby, head of the Soviet section of the British Secret Intelligence Service, was the "third man" who alerted them before they could be arrested for espionage.

And Ron Butler included two extra names - Cairncross and Blount.

US Nuclear Weapons History - The Swords Of ArmageddonThe London Daily Telegraph has published excerpts from a new British book, The Crown Jewels, by Nigel West(a pseudonym for Rupert Allason) and ex-KGB agent Oleg Tsarev.The book describes in the greatest detail yet the activities of the so-called "Cambridge Five" -- Messrs. Blount, Burgess,Cairncross, Mclean, and Philby -- who spied in England for theSovients. Another heretofore unknown spy ring at Oxford Univeristy is also identified.
Very... interesting. Thanks, Ron!


One small step for a flying invention
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Jan. 15 — When you’ve spent millions of dollars and nearly six years trying to make a personal flying machine, progress is measured in small increments. So it’s perhaps understandable that the inventor of the SoloTrek is touting his most recent breakthrough — getting the 325-pound machine a few feet off the ground for 19 seconds — as a test “flight.”
This is one of the more interesting flying machines I've seen in the last decade - at least, one of the ones that ostensibly worked.

I've mentioned the SoloTrek in Myriads past - and it's good to see it flying. One thing that I think won't fly (or even float) is something else I detailed in Myriad - something called the Freedomship - a gigantic floating city. Based on what information I've been able to find on it, and based on a complete LACK of information or announcements on such things as massive engine buys, steel buys, even toilet buys, I think something that looked pretty feasible in 1997 is now pretty well a pipe dream. Oh, well...


Women's Group to Congress: Give Us 9/11 Money or See You in Court
NEW YORK — A women's rights group is demanding a share of the $11 billion in federal disaster relief for the 9/11 terror attacks, saying it wants the money for affirmative action programs to help more women break into traditionally male fields like firefighting, construction and policing.

The New York-based NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund — a spinoff of the
National Organization for Women — is threatening to sue for discrimination if its wishes
aren't granted. Leading the campaign are female city firefighters who believe women's
roles in the recovery effort have been largely overlooked.

Not surprisingly, the crusade has drawn howls of protest from some circles.
Request? Yes. They can certainly do that, and I think it should be considered. However, I must point out that there ARE significant physical differences that make it much harder for woment to do the same job as men in the firefighting business. And cutting back on the requirements WILL insure that people will die, either firefighters or those needing rescue.

Demand? No. They shouldn't get a dime. Not a single dime. It seems like folks aren't willing to 'request' things any more, and take 'No' for an answer. Instead, this group seems to think it's entitled to DEMAND the money - which to my way of thinking completely disqualified them from any consideration.


Tuesday, January 15
Are we winning yet?

The American president may meet it still, but so far, no such town exists in Afghanistan. Donald Rumsfeld warned the war against terrorism would be a long, tough engagement — more like the Cold War than the Gulf War — one that might take years or even decades to accomplish, if ever. Invariably, though, there are many throughout the world, and a good number on the two fringes of American politics, who want results now. They want to apply the nonsensical horserace mentality that has corrupted American politics to the current American war effort. If there is any single great threat to an American effort in Afghanistan right now, it is the television-stunted attention span of the American elites that run the country’s media, its policy panels and its government.>
And some of them are probably thinking - what have you done for my ratings lately? That's what's important - not whether there's progress or not. This will be long, it'll be drawn out, and we'll likely never know a lot of what's gone on behind the scenes.

NEW YORK — A Brooklyn firefighter is circulating a petition calling for the Fire Department to drop plans for a controversial statue because the firefighters depicted are not the three men in the photograph that inspired the memorial.

Steve Cassidy, of Engine 236, faxed the petition to firehouses Tuesday asking firefighters to protest the 19-foot-high bronze sculpture based on the Sept. 11 photograph of New York City firefighters Dan McWilliams, George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein raising a flag on a pole anchored in about 20 feet of rubble at the World Trade Center.

The firefighters in the photograph — taken by Tom Franklin, of The Record of Bergen County, N.J. — are all white. But the statue, expected to be placed at Fire Department headquarters in Brooklyn this spring, depicts the firefighters as white, black and Hispanic men.

"The Fire Department has already said they will stand by it [the statue], so we felt we had to go to the mayor," Cassidy said. He said the petition would be sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the end of the month.

The mayor's office declined to comment on the petition.

The $180,000 piece is being paid for by Forest City Ratner Companies, which owns the property.

A clay model of the statue, created by StudioEis in Brooklyn, was unveiled on Dec. 21. Studio director Ivan Schwartz said the decision to portray different races was made by the Fire Department, the property owners, the studio and the foundry.
This one, I can see the merits of both sides. You want it to be inclusive - but I'd think you'd also want it to be accurate historically. But hell, aren't we all New Yorkers now? Maybe, just maybe, we aren't doing ourselves a favor by being PC here.


Islam Denounces Terrorism

There's been a fair bit of talk about how there seems to be no Islamic site that denounces what's been going on, that is critical of the way the Taliban did things, critical of the wahhabian (I most likely don't have that spelled correctly) attitudes that their sect is the only TRUE way for Islam, just plain critical in general of the Jihadic mentality (Again, that's probably not a proper term...) but here is one. AND it uses Koranic (There I go with those 'ic'-y things again) verses to illustrate their point.

Compassion, Tolerance and Pacifism in Islam

To state briefly, the Islamic political doctrine is extremely peaceful and moderate. This fact is also confirmed by many non-Muslim historians and theologians. One of these is the British historian, Karen Armstrong, a former nun and a renowned expert on Middle East history. In her book, Holy War, in which she examines the history of the three great divine religions, she comments:

... The word Islam comes from the same Arabic root as the word peace and the Koran condemns war as an abnormal state of affairs opposed to God's will: "When the enemies of the Muslims kindle a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. They strive to create disorder in earth, and Allah loves not those who create disorder." (Koran 28:78). Islam does not justify a total aggressive war or extermination, as the Torah does in the first five books of the Bible. A more realistic religion than Christianity, Islam recognizes that war is inevitable and sometimes a positive duty in order to and oppressions and suffering. The Koran teaches that war must be limited and be conducted in as humane a way of possible. Mohammed had to fight not only the Meccans but also the Jewish tribes in the area and Christian tribes in Syria who planned on offensive against him in alliance with the Jews. Yet this did not make Mohammed denounce the People of the Book. His Muslims were forced to defend themselves but they were not fighting a holy war against the religion of their enemies. When Mohammed sent his freedman Zaid against the Christians at the head of a Muslim army, he told them to fight in the cause of God bravely but humanely. They must not molest priests, monks and nuns nor the weak and helpless people who were unable to fight. There must be no massacre of civilians nor should they cut down a single tree nor pull down any building. This was very different from the wars of Joshua. [1]

Very thought-provoking site. Well worth taking the time to explore.

By the way, the hosting agency is in Florida. A Whois lookup produced the following

4101 SW 47th Ave Suite 101
Davie, FL 33314

Netblock: -

Administrator, Network (JC723-ARIN)
954-581-0097 (FAX) 954-581-7629

Domain System inverse mapping provided by:


*Rwhois information on assignments from this block available from
* 4321

Record last updated on 18-Oct-2000.
Database last updated on 15-Jan-2002 02:39:50 EDT.



Monday, January 14
An (expletive deleted) outrage TEFLON-COATED WORDS
Now let me tell you something about these sales: They were perfectly legal. So says Robert S. Bennett, a lawyer for Enron. “I am unaware of any evidence that supports the allegation there was improper selling by members of the board or senior management,” Bennett said. But “improper” is a word dipped in Teflon, so slippery it flips out of your hand like a thrashing fish. It does not mean “right” or, bite your tongue, “moral.”

The fact remains that these guys — these pals of Bush and Cheney and others in the administration — made money off a shell game. They sold stock backed by smoke.

But I am here to tell you what you already know in your gut: This is not a political scandal. It is not another Whitewater where you can’t figure out what happened. We all know what happened. A bunch of bastards picked the pockets of their own employees. That’s not a scandal. It’s a blinkin’ outrage.
The prediction was that a lot of the Washington Pundits were going to do anything they could to tie Bush into the Enron scandal. After all, he knows some of the folks at Enron, so naturally he'd be giving them all the help he could, right?

Except... as I've pointed out before, when they asked for help, they didn't get it.


Sunday, January 13
BBC News | SCI/TECH | Animals retreat as Antarctic cools
US scientists say they have established that much of Antarctica is cooling.
This is at odds with earlier reports which suggested a slight recent warming on the continent.
The researchers say the cooling is causing soil invertebrates to decline by more than 10% annually.
They also found that lake productivity is falling, with organisms incorporating significantly less carbon dioxide (CO2) into organic carbon compounds.
Global warming? Global cooling? Which way do we go? If we attack Global Warming, would it make Global Cooling worse?


BBC News | SCI/TECH | Nigeria adopts space policy
The Nigerian Government is about to enter the space age.

It has formally adopted a National Space Policy with the objective of launching its own satellite and space research programmes.

The new government initiative, which will cost about $2.5m a year, initially aims to launch communications and weather satellites.

There are hopes that the launch of dedicated satellites will greatly improve communication links - Nigeria has notoriously bad phone lines.
Good a reason as any, and better than most. Good luck to you!


Dihydrogen Monoxide in the Dairy Industry
Economic pressures play a major role in the widespread use of DHMO in the dairy industry. In fact, in some areas, it is subsidized by the U.S. government. As a result, claims Waltz, DHMO is the single largest contaminant of milk. Governmental regulations cover the addition of DHMO to the milk once it leaves the cow, but do not cover levels of ingested DHMO.
Further, Waltz says, DHMO is used without an approved new animal drug application in treatments to disinfect cow udders and teats, to cure hoof problems, to alleviate the impact of bovine diarrhea, and both internally and topically to treat heat stress.

SOMEBODY better look at this stuff, fast!


Arrested Italian Cell Sheds Light on Bin Laden’s European Network
Arrested Italian Cell Sheds Light
On Bin Laden’s European Network
By Leo Sisti and Maud Beelman
On a cold winter night last January, on the outskirts of Milan, Italian anti-terrorist police intercepted a frantic call between two suspected Osama Bin Laden operatives. "They have arrested our brothers ... half of the group," the caller said. "They have found the arms warehouse in Germany."

Don't know the credentials of the Center for Public Integrity - but this looked interesting, if a bit old.


Joke Time!
A few days after George W. Bush's inauguration, a man cameup to the uniformed Marine on duty at the White House and said "I'd like to see President Clinton." The Marine politely answered "Sir, Mr. Clinton is no longer president". The man said, "Oh, OK." and walked away.
The next day the Marine was again on duty and the same man approached and again asked to see President Clinton. The Marine again answered, "Sir, Mr.Clinton is no longer president." Again the man answered, "Oh, O.K." and walked away.
The next day the same man approached the same Marine and again asked to see President Clinton. The Marine, by now a little annoyed, said "Sir, I've told you, Mr. Clinton is no longer president. Don't you understand that?"
"Yes, I do" said the man, "But I just enjoy hearing it."
The Marine smiled and said, "See you tomorrow."

Saturday, January 12
From the text of Musharraf's Speech in Pakistan. "Do we want Pakistan to become a theocratic state? Do we believe that religious education alone is enough for governance or do we want Pakistan to emerge as a progressive and dynamic Islamic welfare state? The verdict of the masses is in favour of a progressive Islamic state. This decision, based on the teaching of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and in line with the teachings of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal will put Pakistan on the path of progress and prosperity.

Let us honestly analyse what the few religious extremists have attempted to do with Pakistan and Islam.
First, with regard to Afghanistan, they indulged in agitational activities. Look at the damage it has caused! Pakistan's international image was tarnished and we were projected by the international media as ignorant and backward. Our economy suffered. A number of export orders already placed with Pakistani industry were cancelled and no new orders materialised. This led to closure of some factories and unemployment. The poor daily wage earners lost their livelihood.

Extremists also formed a Pakistan-Afghanistan Defence Council! Apart from damaging Pakistan, they had negative thinking and had no idea of anything good for Afghanistan. Did they ever think of bringing about peace to Afghanistan through reconciliation among the Taliban and Northern Alliance? Did they counsel tolerance to them? Did they ever think of collecting funds for the welfare, rehabilitation and reconstruction of the war-ravaged Afghanistan, or to mitigate sufferings of the poor Afghan people? Did they think of a solution to the hunger, poverty and destruction in Afghanistan? To my knowledge, only Maulana Abdul Sattar Edhi, God bless him, and some foreign NGOs and the UN organisations were providing the Afghans with food and medicines.

These extremists did nothing except contributing to bloodshed in Afghanistan. I ask of them, whether they know any thing other then disruption and sowing seeds of hatred? Does Islam preach this?"
Actually - from what I've read of the Koran, it doesn't. I'm revising my estimation of this leader. Either he's got a good speechwriter and is trying to play to Western sensibilities, or he's really a fire-breather and he'll drag Pakistan kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. That is, if he doesn't get killed first. And India stops with the war threats...


Guardian Unlimited Observer | Comment | American cant Yesterday, a group of unidentified men, including a Briton, completed a journey identical in almost every detail to the one described above. Manacled, with some sedated, they were chained to their seats in the aircraft that delivered them. The difference is that this group of 20 men were alleged terrorists with the Taliban and al-Qaeda and their destination was the US base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The difference, too, is that what complaint there has been about their treatment has been curiously muted.
The reality of what is happening to the prisoners of Afghanistan is a scandal of international proportions. Brutalised, often tortured, these are men who have been stripped of their most basic rights under international and US law, rights guaranteed at the International Tribunal in the Hague even for the alleged architects of the genocide in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
Told ya. Less than 24 hours, and these men have been stripped of their most basic rights. I'm surprised he didn't mention something about 'dog kennels' but he'll likely do that tomorrow. Gotta save something for the late edition, after all.

BTW, how would YOU securely transport people who had actively been trying to kill you, and would kill you as soon as look at you? Ask them politely to keep their seat belts fastened?


Zthing Presents: Fruitcake of Doom

Exactly what it says it is.



Message Board - MSNBC - A World Transformed BIBST 12:55pm Jan 9, 2002 EST
I frequently correspond with a good friend in Europe. It seems appropriate to share his views a little with the group.
My friend takes the position that if not for America, all of Europe would be in chaos as a result of what went down in Yugoslavia, Iraq, the Middle East, all of it. He insists that Western Europe simply can't get their act together about anything to fix on a problem in their own back yard and bring solutions to protect their own interests. Since WWII, they've come to rely upon 'the Americans will do it'. Hell, even if they decided to do something, he says most of the countries don't have adequate resources in planes and hardware to make a dent in most problems.
Well, it's nice to be appreciated for our efforts, isn't it? And that's just it... Whenever something goes sour, call in the Americans. They'll deal with the problem and go home afterward.

That way, nobody 'local' is actually embarrassed by having to enforce civilized behavior. Let the Americans do it - they're barbarians anyway, right?

Sheesh. Some of the folks overseas better be careful what they wish for. Don't want the 'ugly Americans' around? Then don't pick up the phone where there's a rabid dog prowling the neighborhood (Kuwait, Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia) and we won't show. That dog comes to the police station, though, and we'll FIND it's owners...

(BTW, this post is a VERY favorable one to Americans.)