31 July 2005

Join the Service and Become a Citizen

For months now, we have seen article after article stating the recruiting woes of the U.S Armed Forces. But there is a twist – join the U.S. Military and become a U.S. citizen. Simple? The folks at AsiaTimesOnline dot com sure think so in their latest report:
NEW DELHI - It may be fashionable to criticize America for it unilateralist approach toward the global polity, but one aspect remains unchanged - the aspiration to become a bona fide American citizen. For long, Indians, as also people of other nations, have sought out America by any means - H1-B visas for skilled workers, illegal immigrants, green card holders and menial semi-skilled hands at work. There is one more vista - through the American army.

With the US engaged in wars in two regions of the world - Afghanistan where the hunt for Osama and his ilk continues, and Iraq - the drive to enlist recruits is at an all time high. At one level, the route through the army is also very difficult and often a tragic way to become an American citizen, given the high casualties of war, especially in Iraq.

After the US launched the "war on terrorism", US President George W Bush made it easier for foreign-born US residents joining the military to gain full citizenship. Among other aspects, the usual five-year waiting period has been eased by a July 2002 executive order. Petition and fingerprinting fees were waived for service members. Any legal resident who enlists in the military can immediately petition for citizenship, rather than wait the five years required for civilians to start the process.

According to reports, of the 15,000 new US citizens who were naturalized in the week of July 4, hundreds were from the military. Foreign legal residents make up 2% to 3% of the US military, but they are becoming citizens in record numbers. The largest number of foreigners in the US forces is from the Philippines (25 %). According to the Migration Policy Institute, 410 Indians were actively serving the US military in the year 2004.

USA Today newspaper, in a recent report, said that citizenship applications from service members more than doubled in one year to almost 10,000 after Bush's executive order in 2002. In the first three quarters of the current fiscal year, the immigration service has received more than 11,000 naturalization petitions from soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. In fiscal 2004, 7,627 alien soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines took the oath of allegiance. That's nearly 15 times as many as the 518 who became citizens in 2000, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services. In the first three-quarters of the current fiscal year, 3,397 service members have been naturalized.

The report adds, "As a nation at war struggles to fill its armed ranks with volunteers, the United States is doing what it has done in every major conflict since the Civil War: it is making it easier for legal resident aliens to become US citizens if they choose to fight."

According to US immigration figures, 73 non-citizens serving in the US armed forces have died in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since September 11, 59 posthumous citizenships have been given out. Among them is US Army private Uday Singh, 21, from Chandigarh (a north Indian city known for its laid-back yet modern lifestyle) who was killed in Iraq in December 2004. His cremation in Chandigarh was attended by the head of the US Pacific Command and his remains interred in Arlington, Virginia. Singh, who was eager to become a US citizen, wrote to a close relative from Iraq last November. "I got some more good news. My citizenship process has finally gone through."
Now I may be oversimplifying things here, but isn’t it possible that these folks felt the urge to become citizens after they enlisted? Perhaps the whole citizenship thing happened by “accident" for some. It does happen. Shortly after my father graduated from University of Colorado Medical School, he headed for Fort Lee, New Jersey. It was the late 1940’s and my father was repaying his debt to his Uncle Sam for putting him through med school. Well, just before my father took the oath of office a Second Lieutenant, the clerk asked my father where he was born. My dad said, “Alberta.” “Alberta, as in Canada?” replied the clerk. “Yes” said my dad. Well as long as my dad had his hand in the air swearing to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, they had him take the oath of citizenship, as well. I should post more about my father. Anyway...

If there are people willing to risk their lives in the GWOT in order to become a citizen, then this truly is one hell of a country.

Thanks to The Mudville Gazette for their Open Post.

Russia Pulls Plug on MSM Network

Poor MSM. Once again, the messenger gets killed. This time, I agree with the sentence. BBC reports:
Russia's defence chief has barred the ministry from contact with ABC TV after the US network's interview with Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev. Sergei Ivanov said the ministry considered ABC "persona non grata" following Thursday's broadcast. However, the foreign ministry has said it will not deny ABC accreditation.
So, you can't speak with the military, only the foreign ministry? Sounds like the Clinton administration.

Lest we forget, Basayev is a bad guy. A really bad guy. Bad guy on the order of killing hundreds of innocents in one swoop kind of bad. Too bad that camera wasn't loaded with 9 mm film instead of 35 mm.

"Today I have given the order to the head of the press service that not one serviceman of the defence ministry should have contact with the American television channel ABC," Mr Ivanov said in televised comments.

Apparently, ABC did not carry this press conference.

Church's Paintings Draw Fire

As a Roman Catholic, I am used to certains "positions" or teachings of the church that I am against. For example, the death penalty is the right thing to do in my mind, as is the current war in Iraq. Sometimes, bad people need to go away -- far away. Much like the predatory pieces of human debris that have desecrated my church. But this story really gets me. St. Paul's on the Green church in Norwalk, Connecticut, which describes itself as an "Anglo-Catholic" church recently commissioned an artist to redo the Stations of the Cross exhibit at the church. Well, what they got was far from the ordinary. The Stamford Advocate dot com reports:
Last spring, when Gwyneth Leech was preparing for the Stations of the Cross she had been commissioned to paint for St. Paul's on the Green, her mind was on the rising insurgency in Iraq and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

While the New York-based artist was setting out to depict the religious images in a modern setting, she didn't know what that setting would be until she visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view images of Jesus' crucifixion.
Oooh! Red flag alert! The artist you commissioned said she needed to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view images of the crucifixion. This can't be good. Inverted crucifix in a jar of urine anyone?
"It seemed at that time, the papers were just flooded with images of funerals and grieving families," Leech said. "I suddenly made the connection between those images of the women weeping at the foot of the cross. They were strikingly similar to the images in the newspaper I was seeing every day."
Now, in most churches that display the stations, the exhibit is very serious and occupies a sacred place in the parish community due to the subject matter -- the crucifixion of Christ. I suppose this church decided that the original exhibit needed to be updated to spark renewed discussion and debate.
The 14 vivid paintings that now line the walls at St. Paul's are not the traditional, dark, 1950s works that the church director wanted to replace. They mix images of Jesus as he carries the cross with those of modern-day soldiers, weeping American and Iraqi mothers and fathers and refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan.
Indeed, the paintings reference actions that the United States has been recently criticized for. The first station shows Jesus' judgment before Pontius Pilate. While Pilate is clothed in a traditional Middle Eastern robe, Jesus is depicted in an orange prisoner jumpsuit standing between two soldiers in fatigues, an image reminiscent of prisoners at Guantanamo. An angry mob stands before a tangle of barbed wire, a symbol in many of the other paintings that evokes the image of the crown of thorns.
The image that has garnered much controversy shows a naked Jesus with his hands on his head, while two soldiers threaten him with snarling, leashed dogs, which is based on a photo from Abu Ghraib.
The paintings were funded by members of the congregation, who pledged the money before knowing what they would look like. A church official said that one couple felt strongly about the war images, and asked that their name not be added to a donor plaque.
I can only imagine a conversation among a family of parisioners in the year 2046, "Mommy, why is Jesus dressed like the guys who pick up garbage along side the highway?" "Well Jimmy, way back when I was a little girl, President Bush..."

Another thing I wish I didn't have to explain to my son. Thanks alot.

Thanks be to Greyhawk for his Open Post.

29 July 2005

Last of the Code Talkers Goes Silent

Charles "Charlie" J. Chibitty, the last of the World War II Comanche code talkers, was buried on 26 July in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Mr. Chibitty was honored three times at the Pentagon for his service to America during World War II.

During his 2002 Pentagon visit, Chibitty said his unit hit Utah Beach in Normandy "the first or second day after D-Day." His first radio message was sent to another code talker on an incoming boat. Translated into English, it said: "Five miles to the right of the designated area and five miles inland, the fighting is fierce and we need help."

The Comanche Indians frustrated enemy code breakers by translating Army messages into their native language. The enemy never broke the code.

Chibitty enlisted in the Army in January 1941. He earned the World War II Victory Medal, European Theater of Operations Victory Medal with five bronze stars, Europe-African Middle East Campaign Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. In 1989, the French government honored the Comanche code talkers by presenting them the Chavalier of the National Order of Merit.

He was presented the Knowlton Award, created by the Military Intelligence Association, in 1995 to recognize significant contributions to military efforts. In April 2003, Chibitty attended the dedication ceremony for a monument to Choctaw and Comanche code talkers of World War I and World War II at Camp Beuregard in Pineville, La., where he trained during World War II. When he visited the Pentagon in 1992, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney presented him a certificate of appreciation for his service to the country. Chibitty also received a special proclamation from the governor of Oklahoma, who honored him for his contributions to that state and the nation.

More of the story can be found here.

Thanks to The Mudville Gazette Open Post.

A Silver Band on My Wrist

After logging many hours watching the Tour de France, I was amazed at how often a yellow bracelet showed up prominently in the camera shot. Walking down the street, I see bracelets of every color for every cause – most of them quite worthy. I've learned what a few of the bracelet colors stand for, and I am very impressed with the amount of awareness these bracelets have generated. People are talking about things which were previously kept under wraps. Today, many people recognize the meaning and significance of a bright yellow or olive drab bracelet.

I don’t remember the exact day, but it was 19 years ago that I placed a simple silver band on my right wrist. Nothing special. Nothing fancy. It is just a simple silver band with a man’s name on it. As you might have guessed, the band is a POW / MIA bracelet. A few months after I left active duty in the Coast Guard in 1986, I read an article about the various groups working to bring home the remains of the men and women left behind in Viet Nam. I recall contacting one of the groups -- Task Force Omega -- and a few weeks later a padded envelope arrived in my mailbox. I opened the envelope, took out the band, shaped it to fit my 22-year old wrist and went about my life. The funny thing was, nothing accompanied the band. No data sheet, no story; nothing but a simple silver band and a receipt.

The band has gotten a bit scratched over the years. My skin near the ends of the band has developed a dark brown appearance and has become slightly calloused. Sometimes the band gets snagged on the shirt I am wearing. A few times, it has gotten caught on lines or rigging on a boat. Every now and then, someone will look at my wrist and give me a nod, and a few times it has prompted a co-worker to ask if I was diabetic or allergic to something. More often than not, it gives me the opportunity to tell someone the name on the band.

Now I can tell you. The band reads Capt. Ronald L. Bond USAF 9-30-71 LAOS.

I have looked at this name and date every day of my life for the past 19 years.

I don’t know Captain Bond, but I know he was born in 1947 in Camden, New Jersey. I never met Captain Bond, but I know that he played little league, was on the wrestling and diving teams in high school and graduated near the top of his class. I never met Captain Bond, but I know he turned down a letter of acceptance to the University of Delaware and accepted an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 1969. Captain Bond was shot down over Laos on 30 September 1971. He, along with his F4 Pilot Mike Donovan, was never found alive. 600 other men lost in Laos never came home. Not one was ever released from a POW camp. Not a single one.

Now you, too, know a little about Ronald Bond.

I wish I really knew Captain Bond, I'll bet he was a good man.

As always, thanks to Mudville Gazette for their Open Post.

26 July 2005

Sailors and Marines Help Homeless Vets

The "this didn't seem to make the MSM" file is getting pretty fat these days. Another example of our men and women of service truly serving. Military dot com reports.
SAN DIEGO - More than 650 Sailors and Marines from commands throughout San Diego volunteered for the 18th Annual Veteran's Stand Down July 15 to 17 at San Diego High School.

Stand Down, organized by the Vietnam Veterans of San Diego (VVSD), is a weekend event held each summer to provide hundreds of homeless veterans with a wide range of necessities including food, clothing, medical, legal and mental health assistance, job counseling and referrals, and most importantly, companionship and camaraderie.
Held each summer? Helps hundreds of veterans? Fabulous.
"The Stand-Down is for all veterans, not just Vietnam veterans," said Lt. Cmdr. Joshua A. Crowder, the military volunteer coordinator. "It is a great opportunity to provide service for those who have served their country and fallen on hard times."

Naval Base San Diego Dental Clinic's mobile unit provided dental care to hundreds of veterans.

"I feel like this is not just something I want to do, but something I have to do," said Dental Technician 3rd Class Martina Smith, who works at Naval Base San Diego's Dental Clinic. "These veterans have done so much for us, I feel proud to be able to give something back to them."

During Stand Down, the veterans were given the opportunity to relax, interact, and get to know the volunteers, while receiving much needed services.

"The most interesting thing I have experienced here is getting to meet and learn from all of these veterans," said Lance Cpl. Christopher Spencer, a motor transport mechanic at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. "I have had the chance to talk to veterans from every single war from World War II to the Persian Gulf. It has been an amazing experience."
Operation CARAT and Operation Stand Down. These are the op names that should be on the lips of the Rather's and Brokaw's -- not what a Gitmo prisoner claims is abuse.

Thanks to the Mudville Gazette for their Open Post.

CA Supervisor to Kelo Conway

Evidently, the will of the voters still doesn’t count here in California – at least not to Yolo County Supervisor Mike McGowan. I can’t remember if I voted for this knucklehead, or not. Regardless, this is without a doubt one of the most self-serving, feel-good-for-the-moment-cause-developers-are-evil-people decisions I have ever seen. The Davis Enterprise reports:

At issue is the “fate” of 17,000 acres of land in Yolo County, California called the Conway Ranch. This is one of those pieces of land that the "greens" have been mulling over for years. So much so, that you would think that they own the land. Well, they don’t and it ain’t for sale. But wait, it gets even better.

All buckled in? It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

A survey underwritten by the owners of the Conaway Ranch found that opposition to the county's efforts to acquire the property ranges from 50 to 73 percentage points countywide depending on the question asked.

Funny use of the word acquire. The word they are trying to avoid is “condemn” or “steal via eminent domain.”

At 39 percentage points, Davis residents support the county's acquisition attempt more than residents in any other Yolo County city. A town hall meeting called by the ranch owners, the Conaway Preservation Group, will be held in Davis on Thursday, Aug. 11, with the time and place to be announced.

On Friday, Yolo County Supervisor Mike McGowan said he could not comment on the specifics of the poll because he had not seen it. But McGowan made clear that even if county voters did not support the board's action to buy the ranch, he was still convinced it was the right thing to do.

"We need to do the right thing regardless," he said. "In the long run people will appreciate what we are trying to do or our grandchildren will. We are doing the right thing for the right reasons and I cannot imagine a scenario that would dissuade me."

McGowan said people should know by now that Yolo County electeds past and present are committed to protecting agricultural land and open space. Real estate investors do not share that commitment. "Yolo County can pass the test of good stewardship over and over," he added firmly. "There's a reason why national parks are not owned by private entities," he said.

One point that the good Supervisor is missing is that the County does not own the land --- a handful of local real estate investors do.

McGowan complained that Steve Gidaro, the managing partner of the CPG, gathered together a group of real estate investors -- who have no credentials as environmentalists -- in order to buy the ranch. Members of the group include John Reynen, Carl Panattoni and Jack Sweigert. Tovey Geizentanner is the group's spokesman.

"These people couldn't find Yolo County on a map," McGowan said.

Hey Mike, the ranch is in the County, right? Well, they must have found the county before they became the OWNERS of the ranch..

But McGowan did concede that the county has a public relations problem on its hands, which the poll indirectly quantified.

"Of course the public relations aspect concerns me," McGowan said. "The county is not telling its story well, but I don't think the press has done an adequate job delving into the issues raised.

Public relations aspect? Mike, Mike, Mike. A huge chuunk of our society is calling for the heads of five SCOTUS members because of Kelo and you think this is an aspect of public relations? Don't worry, I hear there are plenty of job possiblities for recently displaced small county supervisors.

McGowan predicted the ranch owners will mount a sophisticated public relations campaign between now and Aug. 23 when a Yolo County Superior Court judge will rule on whether the county has a right to take the Conaway Ranch.

The owners don't have to mount didly. Did you look at the results of the poll? You are the one that needs to mount an effort. The ranch owners have a bill of sale and public sentiment on their side. Did I mention the bill of sale part?

Geizentanner says the CPG is committed to retaining status quo at the ranch and the real issue is not development but the question of public ownership vs. private ownership. He says the ranch's owners can make money off their investment without building homes on the land.

"There are new ways to make money off land," he said, citing conservation easements, mitigation credits, natural gas leases, agricultural leases and limited water sales to neighbors.

"We can assume zebras don't change their stripes," McGowan said.

In terms of the poll, 600 likely voters in the county were surveyed by the Evans/McDonough opinion research firm between June 19-22. The firm claims a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

All telephone survey respondents were read an initial description of the ranch issue, followed by a question asking whether they support or oppose the county's efforts to win ownership of the ranch from the Conaway Preservation Group.

This is what they were read:

"Conaway Ranch is a 17,300-acre piece of land in Yolo County, in the triangle formed by the cities of Woodland, Davis and West Sacramento. More than two-thirds of the ranch is in a federal floodplain, and nearly half is in the Yolo Bypass. Currently, the privately owned Conaway Ranch is leased to local farmers and a duck club. Yolo County is interested in owning and managing Conaway Ranch, but the owners are not interested in selling. Recently, Yolo County decided to use its power of eminent domain to seize the Conaway Ranch from the current owner, the Conaway Preservation Group, who does not want to sell the ranch. Eminent domain, or condemnation, allows the government to take private property for public use for fair market value without the consent of the owner, which is usually hotly contested."

After being given this information and asked whether they support or oppose the county's action, support countywide came from 15 percent with almost three-quarters (73 percent) in opposition.

The survey found opposition equally strong in West Sacramento (84 percent oppose) and Woodland (83 percent oppose). In Winters and Davis, the county's efforts were opposed by six in 10 (62 percent). Three-quarters (74 percent) of the residents in the unincorporated areas opposed the county's action.

But when the question was asked in a different way, following what the researchers call a campaign simulation exercise with the county argument being put forth, support increases countywide to 32 percent with 58 percent remaining opposed.

Quotas were set in each of the four incorporated cities in the county in order to insure there were enough interviews to analyze for each area.

Respondents were then read the following description of the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians' involvement in the county's eminent domain action:

"The Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians, which owns the Cache Creek Casino in Yolo County, has agreed to finance the county's eminent domain action to acquire the ranch."

Hmmm. An Indian Tribe, which owns a casino, is fronting the county the money??? What could possibly go wrong here? The tribe wasn't recently granted approval for a massive expansion to their resort / casino, were they? Hmmm.

Involvement by the tribe does essentially nothing to shore up support for the county, according to the firm. Following this information, an unchanged 15 percent support the county position, while opposition drops slightly to 67 percent. The strongest opposition remains in Woodland (76 percent), West Sacramento (75 percent), and Winters (74 percent), with 66 percent of the unincorporated voters and 58 percent of Davis voters in opposition.

Over the remainder of the survey, a campaign simulation was conducted whereby respondents heard several arguments being used by each side of the issue. According to the research firm, every effort was made to present the issue in a fair and balanced manner, with the arguments being repeated as their proponents have been using them in free and paid media and other public information sources.

The pollsters found that voters in all areas of the county favor preservation of the current uses of Conaway Ranch and maintenance of the status quo. However, even after reading the respondents all the arguments the county is putting forth on why eminent domain should be exercised to purchase Conaway Ranch, just half of respondents (50 percent) favor the action. The poll found that even with their best arguments the county is unable to break the 50 percent barrier.

Davis voters are the most supportive of the county's plan with 39 percent supporting and 46 percent opposed. The remaining 15 percent say they are undecided on the matter or don't know the issues.

"I think the most interesting finding is the fact that after all of the county's arguments are offered and all of CPG's arguments are offered, folks in Davis still have 46 percent oppose to 39 percent approve; and the strongly oppose (29 percent) is twice the intensity of strongly support (14 percent)," said Geizentanner, Conaway Preservation Group's spokesman.

"These findings appear to suggest that even if the county promotes its case, more folks in Davis oppose their action than support -- and the intensity of that opposition is twice that of support," he added.

The final question after pro/con arguments were offered was this:

Given everything that you have heard, do you support or oppose Yolo County's efforts to condemn the Conaway Ranch?

- Davis -- 46 oppose

- Winters -- 57 percent oppose

- Woodland -- 69 percent oppose

- West Sacramento -- 66 percent oppose

- Unincorporated county -- 63 percent oppose

"By and large, the voters of Yolo County side with the current owners by a wide margin over the county in the dispute over Conaway Ranch," the polling firm said in its final memo. "They question the necessity of eminent domain for preservation of current land uses, as well as the propriety of the involvement of the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians."

As always, Thanks to Greyhawk for his Open Post.

23 July 2005

Pennsylvania Voters Get Out Your Ballots

Absolutely unbelievable. Thanks to BLACKFIVE via Assumption of Command for this tidbit.

I think I am going to be sick.
The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious with Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll for showing up uninvited at his funeral this week, handing out her business card and then saying "our government" is against the war.

Rhonda Goodrich of Indiana, Pa., said yesterday that a funeral was held Tuesday at a church in Carnegie for her brother-in-law, Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, 32.

She said he "died bravely and courageously in Iraq on July 10, serving his country."

In a phone interview, Goodrich said the funeral service was packed with people "who wanted to tell his family how Joe had impacted their lives."

Then, suddenly, "one uninvited guest made an appearance, Catherine Baker Knoll."

She sat down next to a Goodrich family member and, during the distribution of communion, said, "Who are you?" Then she handed the family member one of her business cards, which Goodrich said she still has.

"Knoll felt this was an appropriate time to campaign and impose her will on us," Goodrich said. "I am amazed and disgusted Knoll finds a Marine funeral a prime place to campaign.


Rule Number One of a political campaign -- never promise what you can't deliver. Rule Number Two, a freshman Senator from South Dakota can't save a base from closure. The White House threatens Defense Bill veto if a proposed amendment is added.
The Bush administration is threatening to veto a sweeping defense bill if lawmakers try to delay the latest round of military base closures to spare installations back home.

In a statement, the administration said it would "strongly oppose any amendment to weaken, delay or repeal" the base-closing process and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld would recommend that the president veto any bill that includes such a provision.

Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who is trying to save Ellsworth Air Force Base, late Thursday proposed an amendment to the defense bill that would require the Pentagon to complete several operational reviews and return U.S. troops from Iraq before Congress signs off on the final version of the base-closing plan.
For those of you that didn't know, Thune's entire campaign platform was based on his ability to save EAFB from the BRAC axe. I like Thune and I certainly would have voted for him, but this just doesn't fly.
Thune's amendment has the support of Republicans and Democrats from Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico.
These Senators would be...Lieberman, Dodd, Snowe, Collins, Bingaman, Corzine and Lautenberg?
The Senate debated the bill Friday but may not complete work on it until September.

It's unclear whether Senate leaders and top members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who oppose the provision - GOP Senators John Warner of Virginia and John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan - have the votes to defeat it.

Base closings "should not occur while this country is engaged in a major war," said Thune.
"Base closings should not occur when my political a%$ is on the line," I imagine Thune was thinking.
Warner said the provision will "hold in limbo" the entire base-closing process. "You'd put a cloud of indecision and doubt over all the communities that will be affected," Warner said.
The closure of a major base can certainly devastating to a community, or to an entire state for that matter. Where I live, we have suffered more than anyone -- McClellan AFB, Mather AFB, Alameda NAS, the San Francisco Presidio and the list goes on and on. It happens, communities adapt, move out and draw fire. South Dakota will have to as well.

Thanks to Greyhawk for his Open Post.

Kerry Demands Full Disclosure

Blue Senator from a really Blue state, John Kerry, recently demanded that the White House release all documents from SCOTUS nominee John Robert's tenure during the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations. Evidently, Kerry thinks he is in charge. Look at the door to your office John, it still says Senator -- not President.

Kerry Seeks Release of Robert's’ Documents.

WASHINGTON - Democratic Sen. John Kerry urged the White House on Friday to release "in their entirety" all documents and memos from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' tenure in two Republican administrations.
"We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record," said the Massachusetts senator who was his party's presidential candidate last year.
Excuse me, Senator, I'’m still waiting for all of your Navy records, which you promised to release during the '04 campaign. You did release some, but we already saw those. I'm sure they taught you at Yale that you can't turn in the same homework assignment for two different classes.
Opening what is expected to be a broader attempt by Democrats to pry loose documents, Kerry issued his statement as Roberts made the latest in a series of courtesy calls on senators in advance of confirmation hearings.
Perhaps a trip to the Reagan Library is in order. I hear the lines may be a bit long this time of year though -- it's a fairly popular destination.
Democratic officials also said Friday they want access to all material regarding Roberts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Roberts served in the White House counsel's office from 1982-1986. He was principal deputy solicitor general in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
Good, they can all go to the library together. I recommend perusing the speech archives -- there is a wealth of information. I especially enjoyed this one.

Open Post thanks to the Mudville Gazette.

21 July 2005

Boxer Controls a MIG-29

No. This post isn't what you thought it was going to be. However, a nice exchange between the "ready to have her seat taken from her if my party could prop up a legitimate candidate" Senator from California and the business end of a MIG-29 would make me smile.

The U.S. and several Southeast Asian countries have been conducting joint military exercises called CARAT, which are sure to draw the attention of TERRORISTS and other oxygen thieves in the vicinity of the Malaysian archipelago.

Military.com reports:
ABOARD USS BOXER - While taking part in the at-sea phase of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness Training (CARAT) Malaysia July 12, operations specialists aboard Boxer received a rare opportunity to control aircraft that most Sailors in their rating won't even come across in their careers.

MiG-29s, with a wingspan of more than 37 feet and a maximum payload of 6,614 pounds, was introduced by the USSR in 1977 and is known as one of the fastest and most dangerous aircraft in the world. In this regard, the MiG-29 is similar to the U.S. F/A 18 Hornet.

"The MiG-29 is one of the nastiest aircraft out there," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Michael Kudebeh. "It has very similar capabilities of our best aircraft."

The Malaysian MiG-29s were used as the "good guys" in a joint exercise between the Royal Malaysian Air Force and Boxer. The MiG-29s were flown against British-built, Malaysian-flown, Hawk 208s in simulated combat. The event was one of the many facets of CARAT.

"This was a once in a lifetime event," added Operations Specialist 2nd Class Sabrina Peterson.

Military training and readiness weren't the only goals of the op. Humanitarian efforts also received attention from the fleet.
More than thirty Sailors from USS Boxer (LHD 4) and USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) helped out in the local community here July 11, providing the Sekolah Menengah Sultan Ismail 1 school with a new coat of paint.
Funny, I didn't hear about this on the evening news.
"“The event was a good opportunity for Sailors to see a different society and culture," said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Middleton, Chaplain for Destroyer Squadron 1, whose staff leads the CARAT Malaysia task group, which includes USS Safeguard (ARS 50), in addition to Boxer and Rodney M. Davis. "“It is important for us to lend a helping hand to those who need extra help."

Volunteers worked side by side with Malaysian college students as they painted the inside of one of the schools cafeterias. The project, which was scheduled to last all day, was completed before noon due to hard work and teamwork from all who were involved.
So, not only were the Sailors subject to training and drills all day long, but they volunteered to perform community service during a port call in southeast Asia? Fantastic.
"Opportunities like this let me get involved with the community,"” said Dental Technician 1st Class Fe Perez, a Boxer Sailor from San Diego. "“To me it'’s worth taking the time to give back to the public."

Volunteers took pride in their work, showing care and attention to detail. Once the work around the school was finished, Malaysians showed Sailors one of their local games called Sepak Raga Bulat.

"This project was good because it mixed relations between Malaysians and Americans,"” said Shamsul Bin Salim, one of the teachers at the school. "“I am proud that American Sailors have contributed their time to support our society."
CARAT, an annual series of bilateral military exercises between the United States and various Southeast Asia countries, is designed to build proficiency in all militaries involved through interaction and relations. CARAT Malaysia involves more than 1,600 U.S. Sailors and Malaysian service men.

Malaysia is the third phase of the 2005 CARAT series, which included exercises with Singapore and Thailand in June.

Another joint effort unreported by the MSM. What a shame. I have included the links to the USN units involved in CARAT, please feel free to send a note of thanks to an unnamed Sailor or one of those named in the post above.

As always, Thanks to Greyhawk for his Open Post.

20 July 2005

SECDEF Thanks Polish Leaders for Gulf Support

During a joint news conference on 19 July, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld thanks Polish Minister of Defense Jerzy Szmajdzinski for his country's support and leadership in the global war on terror.

For those of you keeping score at home, the line score reads: Poland 1 -- FranGerussia 0.

The Secretary noted that the American people are grateful for the contributions the Polish defense forces have made in the GWOT.

This American certainly is.

Again, the only time we hear of the contributions of the so called, smaller coalition forces is when POTUS tells us or when countries such as the Dominican Republic or Honduras recall their troops.

For the record, Poland has played a significant -- and I mean significant role in the current coalition efforts in the Middle East. According to DOD reports, the Polish government sent more than 2,000 soldiers to help relieve beleaguered US troops in Iraq. The Polish contingent is part of a planned 9,200 Polish-led multinational division, which will take over responsibility for one of the four districts of Iraq currently under the control of American and British soldiers. The Polish government was one of the first to offer practical assistance to the US and British operation sending a small unit of 200 elite soldiers to fight in the Iraq war. Polish engineer units were among the first coalition units deployed in the global war on terror and played a major role in preparing Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to support combat operations, and Polish warships deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

In addition, Poland is leading the Multinational Division Central South in Iraq, where it has helped provide security and stabilization in the region.

Poland has also suffered losses in the efforts to bring peace and freedom to the region.

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Lieutenant Colonel Hieronim Kupczyk, who was killed in the Iraq war, in Szczecin on 10 November. The following day--the 85th anniversary of the end of World War I and of Poland’s regaining independence--many more went to his grave to pay their respects, reported Wojciech Kosc.

Kupczyk’s death in the iraq war resonated greatly. For the first time since Poland took over command of one of the four military stabilization zones in Iraq in September, a Polish serviceman had been killed.

Politicians expressed their grief, but also stressed that Kupczyk’s death was in a just cause.

"That death shook Poland and made us aware of the price of our alliance and the price of our involvement in defending peace,” said the Polish Army Bishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz, who gave the funeral service in Szczecin.

Gazeta Wyborcza asked General Mieczyslaw Cieniuch whether Poland should now withdraw its troops from Iraq. “This is a political decision. But I would be very much surprised if an individual incident would provoke the drawing of such far-reaching conclusions,” said Cieniuch, who planned the Iraqi operation for the Polish Army.

He also said that Kupczyk’s death was a tragedy, but Polish troops in Iraq must have certainly had it “somewhere in the back of their heads that it would happen."

“If you go to war, you have to anticipate losses; that is the sad truth,” former Defense Minister Bronislaw Komorowski told the Polish Press Agency.

I love Poland and her people.

As always, Thanks to Greyhawk for his Open Post.

17 July 2005

Californians Could Weigh a Kelo Less

On 14 July 2005, Tom McClintock, a State Senator from California's 19th District, gave a press conference regarding the now infamous Kelo Decision. Senator McClintock has authored SCA 15 and ACA 22, which essentially will change the California Constitution to prevent the take of land. The title of SCA 15 reads, "A resolution to propose to the people of the State of California an amendment to the Constitution of the State, by amending Section 19 of Article I thereof, relating to eminent domain." It is commonly known as The Homeowner and Property Protection Act.

The proposed amendment (Section 19 [a] and [b]) to the California Constitution would read as follows
The California Constitution authorizes governmental entities to take or damage private property for public use only when just compensation, ascertained by a jury unless waived, has first been paid to, or into court for, the owner. It also authorizes the Legislature to provide for possession by the condemnor following commencement of the eminent domain proceedings upon deposit in court, and prompt release to the owner, of the money determined by the court to be the probable amount of the just compensation.
This measure would add a condition that private property may be taken or damaged by eminent domain proceedings only for a stated public use and only upon an independent judicial determination on the evidence that the condemnor has proven that no reasonable alternative exists. The measure would require that the property be owned and occupied by the condemnor, except as specified, and used only for the stated public use. This measure would also provide that if the property ceases to be used for the stated public use, the former owner or a beneficiary or an heir, who has been designated for this purpose, would have the right to reacquire the property for the compensated amount or its fair market value, whichever is less, before the property may be sold or transferred.
Seems fair to me. However, the "redevelopment is necessary because of what we determine to be blight and we can't get your land unless we ED it because the fair market price we offered you was neither fair nor market in price so we have to steal your land from you" people are already up in arms.

The League of California Cities hit the web waves shortly after SCA 15 and ACA were introduced to the press, and used the same tired arguments that they do for everything. This [insert bill or act name here] will result in the loss of jobs, the loss of affordable housing and will undercut smart growth. The league urges Californians to write their elected officials about the McClintock acts. I couldn't agree more. Please write your California State Senator or Assembly Member and demand that they support SCA 15 and ACA 22. The land you save could be yours.

As always, thanks to Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette for welcoming us in his Open Post.

16 July 2005

Did Britain Get The Terror Boomerang?

The airwaves and Blogosphere have been spinning with speculation regarding the motives behind 7/7. I thought we knew what was behind 7/7 -- TERRORISTS! Let's all say it again -- TERRORISTS. I apologize for the caps, but some are still afraid to use the "T" word.

The reason the TERRORISTS struck on 7/7 is the same reason they struck on 2/26 and on 9/5 and on 9/11 and on 10/2 and on 10/23. They hate us.

They hate the way we treat women, or, don't treat women for that matter. They hate ink stained thumbs. They hate that our elections matter. Sorry John and Al, but our elections do count. They hate the fact that my neighbor is Jewish. They hate our separation of church and state. Mostly, they are just filled with hate.

It seems that there are still a few that don't understand this and I'm not talking about the TERRORISTS. I am talking about members of the MSM.

Asia Times recently ran an article by B Ramen that points the finger right back at Britain for what happened on 7/7. To be honest, the title of the piece points the finger, the rest of the piece is a laundry list previously reported facts, not unlike this very blog, that tries to come together in an effort to support the title. It doesn't. Like much of the MSM, this author hopes you won't read past the title and will just take his/her word for it.

Buckled in? The piece has obviously been translated into English, so beware. Here we go.
That three of the suspected perpetrators of the bomb attacks on London on July 7 were British youths of Pakistani origin should not only have been no surprise to British intelligence, it should have been anticipated: the radicalization of Britain's Muslim youth of Pakistani origin began in the mid-1990s with the full knowledge and complicity of British and US intelligence agencies.
Radicalization of youth? I'm interested. Please continue.
In the mid-1990s, the Pakistan-based jihadi group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM - previously known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar, HUA ) sent a contingent to help Bosnian Muslims in their fight against the Serbs. They were sent by the government of Benazir Bhutto at the request of the Bill Clinton administration. The contingent, which was raised and trained by Lieutenant General (retired) Hamid Gul, former director general of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who himself used to visit Bosnia, included a large number of British Muslims of Pakistani origin.
HUM was sent by the Bhutto government? Odd. Wasn't it the Bhutto government that identified HUM as the sponsor of an aborted overthrow of the government in favor of an Islamic Emirate in Pakistan?
A decade before Bosnia, the CIA had raised and funded a large corps of jihadis of Arab origin - including Osama bin-Laden - to help the Afghan mujahideen in their jihad against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

By the time of the Serbian crisis, these Arabs of Afghanistan vintage had already started creating mayhem beyond Afghanistan, notably in Indian-held Kashmir, so Western intelligence wanted to avoid the use of Arabs in Bosnia. They turned to Pakistanis, particularly Pakistanis living in Britain and other countries in Western Europe. Thus began the radicalization process of Muslim youth of Pakistani origin in western Europe.
Britain, remember? You were going to tell us how Britain brought this all on themselves.
The first three of four people believed to have carried out the four London attacks have been named.

Shehzad Tanweer. Aged 20 to 22, lived in Leeds. Believed to have blown himself up on a subway train near Aldgate station. He sometimes worked at his family's fish and chip shop in a suburb of Leeds. Described as a good student who played cricket for a local team. Reportedly went to Lawnswood school in Beeston, before studying sports science at Leeds University. He did not have a regular job. According to the Guardian, he recently travelled to Pakistan. His father, Mohammed Mumtaz, was originally from the Faisalabad region of Pakistani Punjab.

Mohammed Sadique Khan. Aged 30, from Dewsbury, a town about 14 kilometres from Leeds. Believed to be responsible for the explosion in a subway train at Edgware Road station. He was married to a Muslim woman from Gujarat in India, whose family had migrated to South Africa and then to the UK. He met her while the two were students at Leeds University.

Hasib Hussain. Aged 19, also from Leeds. Believed to have blown himself up on the number 30 double-decker bus near Tavistock Square. According to The Times, he had gone "a bit wild" as a young teenager, but had become devoutly religious about 18 months ago after returning from a trip to Pakistan to visit his relatives. He lived with his Pakistani-born factory-worker parents. He studied at the Matthew Murray High School and never went to university.
So far we have three TERRORISTS who were either students, worked in the family fish and chip shoppe, married a muslim woman of Indian origin or went a bit wild as a young teenager. Nothing in the description of these young men would lead me to believe that a single one of them was a TERRORIST. It is the same old story. Have you noticed that whenever a serial murderer or rapist is caught, the neighbors always say, "Well, he was very quiet, kept to himself, was kind to his mother and loved cats." Same thing here. Please, go on.
Questions are already being asked whether any of these suspects had previously come to the notice of the British police. There is some confusion. British Home Secretary Charles Clarke strongly denied a reported statement by French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy that he (Clarke) had told a European Union counter-terrorism meeting on July 13 that some of the bombers had been arrested last year by British police.

Following this denial, Sarkozy clarified that he did not say that Clarke had said this, but he had only said that he (Sarkozy) had heard that some of them had been arrested last year. According to the BBC, Shehzad Tanweer was arrested by the local police in 2004 for disorderly conduct and cautioned. Hasib Hussain, reportedly a good friend of Shehzad Tanweer, was arrested in 2004 for shoplifting and released after a caution.
Disorderly conduct and shoplifting? Evidently, the Patriot Act is barking up the wrong tree. It appears that we should round up every university student that has been arrested by the local police for disorderly conduct. There goes the candidate pool for the 2008 general election.
This development recalls the case of Daniel Pearl, the American Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and then killed by members of the HUM and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) in January-February, 2002.

Pearl's murder was orchestrated by Omar Sheikh, a British citizen of Pakistani origin who had studied at the London School of Economics before joining the HUA to go to Bosnia.

Omar then infiltrated into India and participated in some acts of terrorism, for which he was arrested and jailed by Indian authorities. In December 1999 he was released in a deal following the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Afghanistan by the HUM. From Kandahar, Omar crossed to Pakistan, joined al-Qaeda and opened its office in Lahore.
Yes, Sheikh was a British citizen who had allegedly studied at the London School of Economics, but how does that support the assertion that Britain brought this upon itself. The alleged bomb maker studied chemistry at North Carolina State University. Does that make Chris Washburn a TERRORIST? No. It made Chris Washburn a crappy center and a waste of the Golden State Warrior's first round pick in 1986 NBA draft. Confused, well the 1986 NBA draft has as much relevance to the author's assertion as the items presented in the article. Ramen goes on to state emphatically that Omar infiltrated into India, participated in some terrorist acts, was released following some sort of deal following the hijacking of a plane and then hung his al-Qaeda shingle in Lahore. What does this have to do with the murder of 50+ innocent people in Britain?
In the beginning of 2002, meanwhile, Pearl had heard that the instructions to Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, whose father was a British resident of Caribbean origin, to carry out his terrorist strike had come from an unidentified source in Karachi belonging to an organization called the Jamaat-ul-Fuqra (JUF), based in Lahore. Its leader, Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, had four wives, two of them African-Americans.

The JUF differed from other Pakistani jihadi organizations in some respects. It focused its activities on Muslim communities in the US, Canada and the Caribbean and its membership consisted largely of blacks recruited in the US, Canada and the Caribbean. It laid emphasis on the need to penetrate the armed forces of the US and the Caribbean by recruiting blacks serving in them. It was a highly secretive organization and not much was known about its leaders other than Gilani. It never issued any statements and never circulated any pamphlets or ran any websites.
Now the JUF is involved, has a leader who married African-American women and recruited blacks from the armed forces of the U.S. and various Caribbean nations, yet we still are no closer to a tie to London than when we started this trip.

Ramen's piece goes n and on; however, the horses never come home to roost and the chickens never dot their "I"s. This is typical of the reporting we are subject to on a daily basis. Rathergate wasn't a fluke. Jayson Blair was truthfully challenged and B Ramen doesn't get it.

They just hate us and they always have.

Open Post Thanks to The Mudville Gazette.

U.S. Military Investigates FBI's Gitmo Allegations

The reports of abuse at the Prison at Guantanamo Bay continue. First of all, lets be straight on one issue -- the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay is a prison. Not that the rest of Cuba isn't, but that is another story. What happens at prisons? People are detained. People are interrogated and, mostly, people are separated from the rest of society because it has been determined that they either pose a risk to society or possess information about other people that pose a risk to others.

So, what of these "abuses?" I've waited and waited to hear of the atrocities committed by the U.S. guards. Recently, the FBI released a list of alleged "abuses." Some of the "abuses" were substantiated by U.S. Military investigators -- others were not. Here is what the FBI alleged:
Twice prisoners were "short-shackled" to the floor in an interrogation room, meaning they were chained in a way that forced them into a fetal position. Military investigators substantiated the "short-shackle" action. There were also allegations that detainees were left in this way for long periods and fouled themselves, but investigators said they could not verify this happened.
Short-shackling is abusive? The holding cell at your local police department or county jail has devices very similar to this. Short-shackling places a detainee in a position of compliance; that is, the detainee is not in any distress or discomfort unless the detainee attempts to move suddenly.
An interrogator had a military policeman place duct tape over a noisy prisoner's mouth to quiet him. This was substantiated.
Duct tape over a detainee’s mouth? What was the abuse? Did a few hairs get pulled out when the tape was removed? Ridiculous.
Military interrogators impersonated FBI and State Department agents. Military: Substantiated, but this was an authorized tactic. Interrogators stopped using it at the FBI's request.
Again, how is this abusive to the detainee? I can see the Departments of State and Justice getting upset, but abusive? Again, ridiculous.
Interrogators used excessive heat, cold and noise to make prisoners uncomfortable. They also disrupted their sleep patterns. Military: Substantiated, but authorized tactic.
It is a good thing the FBI didn't look into the abuses of Coast Guard basic training when I went through in 1982. I was extremely uncomfortable. I also looked ridiculous with my head shaved.
Female interrogators used "gender coercion" techniques to make male Muslims uncomfortable. In one case, an interrogator rubbed perfume on a detainee; in another, an interrogator rubbed against a prisoner's back. In another, an interrogator rubbed fake menstrual blood on a detainee. Military: Substantiated, and these were, in general, authorized tactics. In the back-rubbing case, the interrogator's supervisor was admonished. In the blood case, the interrogator herself was disciplined. She said she was getting back at the detainee, who had just spit on her. In another instance, the detainee received a lap dance.
I live a few miles from San Quentin and Folsom State Prisons. I'll guarantee that the "gender coercion" that is taking place right this minute is quite a bit more disturbing than being rubbed with perfume. Also, the detainee spitting on the interrogator is much more abusive than anything I've read so far.

So, all this being said, we have detainees being "short-shackled". Mouths are being silenced with duct tape. The ambient temperature within a prison cell may be too warm or too cold, and women are rubbing on the backs of detainees. The horror...the horror.

I ask again, where are the so-called atrocities. As I stated above, these so-called abuses remind me of Coast Guard boot camp -- except for the back rub part.

Open Post Thanks to the Mudville Gazette.

14 July 2005

O'Connor Urged to Reconsider Retirement

Please Sandy, don't leave. It just won't be the same without you. What can we do to get you to stay? Better parking space? Free gas? How about Chief Justice for a year? Well, two out of three she already has. It is the third carrot that liberals and left-leaning Republicans are dangling in front of Associate Justice O'Connor if she stays on pending the retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
WASHINGTON - Four female senators called Thursday for retiring Supreme Court Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor to stay on the court and try for chief justice if the ailing
William Rehnquist steps down.
Once again, those who lean to the left like to call for things "if" something happens.
In a letter to O'Connor, Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Barbara Boxer of California asked the nation's first female justice to consider staying on the high court if Chief Justice Rehnquist relinquishes the top spot.
The last I checked, Rehnquist wasn't too eager to retire. In fact, he reminded me of that old Master Chief who had to be dragged down the brow.
Rehnquist was discharged Thursday after two nights in the hospital for treatment of a fever. O'Connor announced her retirement on July 1, but has made it conditional on a replacement being confirmed.

"We urge you to reconsider your resignation and return to the Supreme Court to serve as chief justice, should there be a vacancy," the senators said in the Thursday letter.
There is a vacancy and she created it. Has Justice O'Connor ever indicated that she would like to serve in a leadership capacity. Has she authored a significant number of opinions -- dissenting or otherwise?
The four senators also said they will "strongly recommend" to President Bush that O'Connor become the next chief justice if Rehnquist steps down.

"We believe such a history-making nomination by the president would demonstrate leadership that unites Americans around the shared values of liberty, the rule of law and the preservation of our constitutional freedoms," they said.
Any nomination to the land's highest court is history-making. The Senate Judiciary Committee is the body that has the chance to unite Americans around the values we cherish. Simply do what you are supposed to do -- vote -- and be done with it.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and top Judiciary Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont first publicly stoked speculation about a possible O'Connor candidacy for chief justice on Sunday.

"I think it would be quite a capping to her career if she served for a time, maybe a year or so," Specter said.

Given the praise O'Connor has received since her retirement announcement, she would be a lock to be confirmed as chief justice, Leahy said. "I think it would be a very doable thing," he said Sunday.
Twnety-plus years on the bench and no one mentions her name and the word chief in the same sentence.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, argued in a speech to the Center for American Progress and the American Constitution Society that Bush's team will probably conduct an ideological examination of the prospective nominees in private before sending a candidate to the Senate.
Schumer acts as if an ideological assessment of a candidate for the highest office in the land is something strange. Charlie, haven't you and your cohorts been conducting just such an examination of the yet to be named justice since Associate Justice O'Connor announcer her retirement?
"If a nominee's ideology, judicial philosophy, constitutional views are central considerations in a president's decision to nominate, as they inevitably are, and if such questioning is going on in private, I dare say that the American people have an absolute right to have those questions answered publicly," Schumer said.
I couldn't agree more. Now stop your posturing, take a nap if need be and be prepared to do the one thing a Senator is expected to do. Vote (it's that little button by your right hand).

Open Post Thanks to The Mudville Gazette.

13 July 2005

What to do with Africa

I have always been a huge fan of Thomas Sowell. Mr. Sowell has the ability to translate complex concepts such as global economics into a common language easily understood by the great unwashed masses -- I suppose this is what is to be expected of a Senior fellow at the Hoover Institute. In a recent column, Mr. Sowell discusses what he calls the Tragedy of Africa. This piece is especially important given the recent worldwide orgasim caused by Bob Geldof's Live8.
The official declarations coming out of the G8 meetings in Scotland, as well as the raucous demonstrations surrounding those meetings, talk about saving Africa. But, looking back over the decades and generations, Africa has been "saved" so many times that you have to wonder why it still needs saving.

Desperate and tragic conditions afflict millions in Africa today and any humane person would like to help. But the repeated failures of previous help ought to make us at least question the particular manner in which Africa can be helped.

"Forgiveness" of foreign debts is always high on the agenda of those on the political left.

At any given moment, this would of course free up money that African governments could spend to help relieve their people's distress -- assuming that this is what they would spend it for. But why would anyone think that promoting irresponsible government borrowing by periodically "forgiving" their debts is going to help African countries in the long run?

As for the people of Africa, they have to survive in the short run in order to get to the long run. So emergency aid for emergency conditions makes far more sense than long-run "foreign aid" programs with an almost unbroken track record of failure, not only in Africa but around the world.
The rest of the column can be found here. In addition, Mr. Sowell has published Part II of the story.

As noted by Mr. Sowell, the key point is long-term v. short-term gains. This is somewhat counter-intuitive to the typical economic speech given by our 401(k) administrators or fathers-in-law.

Other than Madonna flipping the west the bird, this doesn't even make the evening news. Sad.

Frogs Boost Security for Bastille Day

The "what did they say?"” file just keeps getting bigger. BBC recently reported that the French are boosting security for the Bastille Day celebration. I don'’t seem to recall French troops coming under hostile fire recently. Oh, that'’s right, the French troops are in France.
Security is due to be tight in Paris, as France prepares to celebrate the national Bastille Day holiday.

President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday called for "constant mobilisation (whacky Euro spelling) and vigilance" after the London attacks.
Vigilance since the London attacks??? In case you haven't noticed, things have been blowing up all over the place for the past few decades.
About 5,000 police are expected to be deployed for the celebrations, which include a military parade along the Champs Elysees in the French capital.
Is the German army back in town?
Ahead of Thursday's parade many spectators will have to pass through metal detectors.
Hmm. Metal detectors for a few million celebrants. Better bring the plastique.
Police will also film crowds and limit access to underground stations.

Pierre Mure of the Paris police department told the Associated Press news agency that sharpshooters will be deployed on rooftops.

"It has been only a few days after the London bombings, so that's going to require us to be even more prudent," he said.
Prudent vigilence. Fabulous.
The BBC's Jacky Rowland in Paris says the festivities coincide with a period of self-doubt in France, following several disappointments which many French people blame on President Chirac.

He is due to make a traditional address on French television.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will take part of the ceremony alongside Mr Chirac.

Two battalions from the Brazilian army will be the guest star of the parade.
Well, at least the French Army will have protection.

Open Post Thanks to the Mudville Gazette.

More Animals, Plants Put on Endangered Species List

The Endangered Species List. Once thought of as the exclusive bastion of the anti-growth American left.

No longer.

The concept of listing extant species as endangered and private property as "critical Habitat" has spread to all corners of the world. Recently the Republic of Korea (South Korea or Han'guk for you locals) Ministry of the Environment officials added 300 species to the republic's endangered species list. The reasons, the same old story -- development and excess hunting. The additions to the list would bring the total to approximately 500 species or 1.67 percent of all species on the southern half of the Korean peninsula.

The Korea Times reports:

The government decided to increase the number of endangered species for protection as an growing number of local species are disappearing from their habitats due to excessive land development and hunting.

About 300 kinds of wildlife, such as the lynx, crested ibis, soft shell turtle and water toad will be designated as endangered or rare species, putting the total number of protected species in South Korea to about 500, the Environment Ministry said yesterday.

"We decided to increase the number of endangered species as new environmental surveys have shown that many kinds of wildlife are on the verge of extinction,"’ said ministry official Son Moo-jo.

"As a result of reckless hunting and damage inflicted on their natural habitats, more and more animals and plants are vanishing,"he said.

The number of endangered species represents 1.67 percent of all the 18,052 types of animals, 8,271 plants and 3,528 microorganisms currently found in the country.

Anyone who seizes endangered species without government authorization is subject to up to five years in prison or a 30 million won fine.

The rest of this all-to-familar tale can be found here.

Open Post Thanks to the Mudville Gazette.

09 July 2005

It's not Dennis' Fault, He's a Victim of Global Warming

It happened again. Tonight at about 6:38 p.m. (pdt), ABC News was reporting on all things Dennis. The telecast was going smoothly, for me, until the host took the turn many of us had been dreading since Ivan slammed the panhandle of Florida ten months ago. Global warming. Once again, the MSM pulled the global warming theory into what is already a tragic event (the ABC host also used the word diabolical...but that is a different topic for a different time).
In Florida, they know just how powerful hurricanes can be: Over the last year, they have been reminded more than they care to count.

But it could get even worse.

Could get worse? What's next...reduced air pollution leads to global warming, as well?

According to a recent study, hurricanes will become even more intense because of global warming — the idea that greenhouse gases are heating the earth's atmosphere and oceans.

"Those storms that do occur are going to have the potential to be significantly stronger in a warmer climate," said Tom Knutson, a climate modeler for the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab, and the lead author of the study that used one the world's most powerful computers to simulate 1,300 virtual storms.

Hurricanes get their strength from warm ocean water, so higher water temperatures mean more energy for the storms.

As I recall from Oceanography class, the main energy force that drives hurricanes is, in fact, heat. But heat from a source other than the tailpipe of my truck. The heat that drives hurricanes is caused by warm air rising and condensing to form vapor or clouds -- the folks in the lab call this the latent heat of condensation. Since we all know that Mother Nature abhors a vacuum, more air will be pulled into the system, it will rise, condense and release latent heat of condensation and the cycle continues. This cycle causes a pattern of wind that circulates around a center. In short, an eye is born.

"As a storm is moving across the ocean, it's evaporating water from the ocean's surface, and that's supplying fuel for the storm," Knutson said.

That's right, but what does that have to do with the fact that a physical and chemical process is driving the storm. If ambient air and water temperatures were the sole forces in determining the energy or destructive power of a storm, wouldn't all hurricanes be Cat 5, or Cat 2 for that matter? What is a fact is that we have Cat 5 and Cat 2 storms, yet the air and water temps remain fairly constant within any period of observation during the season. For example, Dennis is turning out to be a very destructive storm, while Cindy never made it to the evening news.

Knutson's study found that within 80 years, the average hurricane strength will increase by half a category in the five-step scale of destructive power.
Funny that. According to The Deadliest, Costliest and Most Intense United States Hurricanes from 1990 through 2000 (and other frequently requested hurricane facts), which was prepared by Mr. Knutson's employer NOAA, hurricanes tend to follow a cyclical pattern. Some decades were lions and others were lambs, as listed below.

Table 5 which lists hurricanes by decades since 1900, shows that during the twenty year period 1960-1979 both the number and intensity of landfalling U.S. hurricanes decreased sharply! Based on 1900-1959 statistics, the expected number of hurricanes and major hurricanes during the period 1960-1979 was 36 and 15, respectively. But, in fact, only 27 (or 75%) of the expected number of hurricanes struck the U.S. with only 10 major hurricanes or 67% of that expected number. The decade of the eighties showed little change to this trend. Even the decade of the nineties, showed below average landfall frequencies. It could be noted that of the most recent four decades, only the 70's and 90's were significantly below normal.

Despite what NOAA reported in the study above, the ABC report goes on to state...
"It could be the difference between, say, a roof staying on a house and the roof being ripped off," said Robert Tuleya of the Center for Oceanography at Old Dominion University.
Or, it could be the differencee between a study that is based in fact and one that uses words such as "potential," "may" and "could."
Average wind speed could jump 15 miles an hour, rainfall two inches and storm surges several feet.
What if it was an abnormally cold, dry day with really low tides?
"In our simulations, you end up with some of these really monster storms," Knutson said.

The study says nothing about how global warming might affect the frequency of hurricanes. The researchers say that is next on their agenda.
I do believe the key word in the last sentence is "agenda."

Open Post Thanks to The Mudville Gazette.

An Arab State Denounces Terrorism

On July 3, Egyptian Ambassador to Iraq Ihab al-Sherif went missing. Of course, the worst was feared. On Friday July 8, Cairo confirmed that Sherif had indeed been killed by -- if they won't say the word I will -- TERRORISTS. Not just any TERRORIST, but Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

BBC reports...
The insurgent group Al-Qaida in Iraq said Thursday that it had killed Egypt's ambassador-designate in Iraq, Ihab al-Sherif, five days after gunmen seized him on a street in a diplomatic quarter in western Baghdad where he had driven alone to buy a local newspaper.
Cairo's first action was to recall mission staff.

"We're taking this step basically to protect mission staff," Ahmed Aboul Gheit told journalists in Cairo.
"We're taking steps to protect the mission staff???" That's fine. In fact, that is to be expected. It was the rest of the statement that we're all waiting for. How about, "We, as Muslims, are sick and tired of you TERRORIST pieces of human debris making the rest of us look horrible." Maybe, "We, as Muslims, are sick and tired of having to take time out of our busy days to explain to westerners -- not just Americans -- that not all followers of Islam are looking to blow up something or decapitate someone."

You, as Muslims, have been silent.

Terribly silent.

Perhaps you fear a Salman Rushdie-like fatwa. Or, perhaps we, as westerners, don't understand your silence. Whatever the reason, the time has come to stand up and shout that you do not support you condemn the cowardly acts of Zarqawi and his ilk.

Shortly after Cairo confirmed the murder of Sherif, the U.N. Security Council denounced the act. Great. Perhaps the World Bank can give me an answer on my home loan re-fi.

Syria strongly denounced on Friday the killing of the Egyptian ambassador to Iraq yesterday saying its is a "horrible criminal action." An official source at the foreign ministry announced that the Syrian Arab Republic "is strongly condemning the horrible criminal action that claimed the life of the Arab Republic of Egypt ambassador in Iraq Mr. Ihab al-Sharif."
Close, we are getting close. C'mon, say it.
"While Syria is expressing her sincerest consolation to the government and people of sisterly Egypt and to the late family and colleagues; she renews her rejection and denunciation of all terrorist actions wherever they occurred," the foreign ministry source said.
Finally. It has been said. Why it took this long I will never know.

Open Post Thanks to The Mudville Gazette.

Progress Continues at Flank Speed in Iraq

Every day, the MSM enjoys reporting casualty reports, terrorist uprisings and jihad progress with McNamara-like fever. However, the good work remains unreported. I realize that this is not a new topic for the blogosphere, but it is certainly one worth reporting.

On a fairly regular basis, CENTCOM publishes news releases and other posts of interest that can be picked up by all members of the MSM. As you can see, the articles are pithy and without much fanfare. The post I have included portions of below would take no more than 30 seconds on a typical evening news broadcast or a few column inches in one of the pine box presses. Yet, it remains unreported.
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Daily accomplishments, both large and small --– in governance, security and reconstruction -- – marked progress toward Iraqi self-reliance as the country marked a year of sovereignty June 28. What follows is a partial list of these successes.

On June 1, in the first move of its kind, Coalition forces officially transferred full responsibility for security at a base in Dibbis to the Iraqi Army. Two hundred dignitaries and civilians attended the flag-raising and ribbon-cutting ceremony, where the Iraqi Army took full control of base and security operations in the area. This historic move marked another significant step in the Iraqi government's plan to assume full responsibility for security and stability operations across the nation.
Full control in only one year. This is truly a testament to the will and resolve of the Iraqi people.
That same day, Iraqi Army soldiers, working with Coalition aviation assets, conducted their first-ever air assault. Approximately 35 Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division were inserted into a landing zone near several small towns and villages outside of Baghdad to conduct raids and door-to-door searches for bomb- and vehicle-borne improvised explosive device-making materials and specific persons of interest. The ability to perform these types of operations speaks to the growing maturity of the Iraqi Army.
Now remember, these Iraqi soldiers risked their lives simply by joining the securityiry forces -- let alone conducting door-to-door searches.
Reconstruction gained momentum in the Nissan District of Eastern Baghdad, where major sewer and water projects broke ground in Kamaliya and Oubaidi. After completing a site survey, workers began on the project that will ultimately create a sewer network serving 8,870 homes in Kamaliya. The area has never had underground sewage lines and relies on slit trenches, which leads to sewage pooling in the streets. The project will cost about $27 million and will employ 600 local workers at peak construction times. As the sewer project takes shape, an existing water distribution system will be rehabilitated. About 5,435 homes are slated to receive connections to the water main.
Thanks to the Coalition efforts, 8,870 homes are connected to a sewer network. These were homes thpreviouslysly relied on a trench system to dispose of sewage. How many of us still rely on septic systems?
On June 4, Basrah airport began civilian flights, opening the gate for business growth in the region. A week later, regular flights began between Hawler International Airport in Irbil and Baghdad. The flights now run three times per week and open a new avenue to encourage foreign capital investment by improving accessibility to Iraq’s capital. Other growth could be seen when the $100 million Al-Ameen electrical substation, which distributes electricity to other substations around Baghdad, it was completed on June 5, after about 10 months of work. Local workers made up 99 percent of the workforce, putting money back into the pockets of the working class.
Local work benefiting a new, local economy. This is truly a beautiful thing.
The Iraqi Navy'’s Predator Patrol Boats commenced interoperability training with an amphibious transport ship on June 7. The training is teaching the Iraqi Navy about ship handling, force protection, and weapons handling.

With some help from Iraqi Security Forces, the Iraqi National Soccer League resumed play on June 12. More than 10,000 fans showed up for the first game, held in the Baghdad Soccer Stadium, and watched Basra beat Dahouk 1-0. Iraqi Police officers, Iraqi Army Soldiers and Coalition Forces guarded the soccer stadium, which can hold 45,000 fans. The same team of security forces will provide security for future games, which are scheduled through the end of August.
Need I remind my readers what happened to Iraqi athletes in the past if they lost a game or match?

There is so much more to report. As you can clearly see, any of these topics would have done wonders for the morale of all those fighting for freedom in the middle east. But, I guess that won't sell a box of cereal in the MSM.

Open Post Thanks to The Mudville Gazaette.

08 July 2005

Clean Air and Wind Power Get the Kiss of Death

Two of the major tenets of the environmental movement were given the kiss of death recently. The kiss was not dissimilar from what Vito Agueci gave Joseph Valachi in 1961 in that no one saw it coming. For years, the enviros have been preaching the benefits of reducing air pollution and harnessing power from the wind. Two pretty good ideas right? We all enjoy clean air and wind is free.

So we thought.

So we have been told all these years. Well, it appears we have all been wrong.
Reducing pollution levels in the air could lead to much higher levels of global warming, researchers have warned.

Reducing aerosols - small particles and droplets in the air produced by cars, chemical emissions and smoke - would allow more of the sun's heat to enter the atmosphere.

This would speed up the warming process, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Care for more?

Another well-known cog in the wheel-o-green is the constant banter for the development and use of alternative forms of energy.

If Pacific Gas & Electric would build more hydroelectric facilities, we wouldn't be so dependent on fossil fuels.

If General Motors would build a hydrogen fuel cell, we wouldn'’t be so dependent on fossil fuels.

If more energy producers embraced wind power, we wouldn't be so dependent on fossil fuels.

If we weren't so dependent on fossil fuels, we wouldn't be in Iraq. Sorry, different topic.

The energy producers listened and for the past few decades, so-called wind farms have sprouted up all across the surface of our nation. One of the earliest windolectric facilities I can remember is on top of Altamont Pass in Alameda County, California. Altamont Pass seemed as if it were destined for use as a wind farm as it is located at the divide between the San Francisco bay area and California'’s great central valley. On days when the valley gets hot, as it has been doing for the past week, ambient air from the bay tries to fill the areas depleted by the rising hot air in the valley. The result is a strong westerly breeze that rushes across the top of Altamont Pass, through thousands of turbine generators and into the valley where the hot breeze hits my house and causes my PG&E bill to soar like a Lanius ludovicianus.

The Heartland Institute opines...
Giant wind turbines at Altamont Pass, California, are illegally killing more than 1,000 birds of prey each year, according to a lawsuit filed January 12 by the Center for Biological Diversity. The suit demands an injunction halting operation of the turbines until and unless protective measures are taken and highlights increasing concerns regarding a power source long hailed as environmentally friendly by environmental activist groups.

"“Altamont has become a death zone for eagles and other magnificent and imperiled birds of prey"” said Jeff Miller, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity. "Birds come into the pass to hunt and get chopped up by the blades."

Owners of the wind turbines assert they have gone to great measures to protect birds from being sliced up by the turbine blades, but the technology simply does not exist to generate wind power without sacrificing an immense number of birds each year.

"“It'’s so unfair to say we have not been actively trying to do anything," said Steve Stengel, a spokesman for Florida Power & Light Company, which owns many of the turbines. "“We’ve done everything from installing perch guards to painting rotor blades."

Miller, however, was skeptical wind power generators are doing all they can to ameliorate bird deaths.

"“We'’re asking the judge to throw the book at them,"” said Miller. "“We'’re not suggesting they're going to be shut down. We are suggesting turbine owners out there need to take some measures to reduce bird kill, and that they come up with some adequate mitigation or compensation."

Once again, the antagonists just lob grenades at the issue and offer no attempt to provide a solution.

What'’ll they think of next… Reducing air pollution is bad or something like that?

Open Post Thanks to The Mudville Gazette.