Saturday, April 08, 2006

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

SLATE tells us:

The Washington Post leads with word that the Bush administration is looking into a military strike against Iran. According to an unnamed source, two options are being considered: a quick strike against nuclear facilities along with a threat to continue if Iran wages terrorist attacks in response; or a more expansive bombing of Iranian government facilities and other targets. According to the paper, the Pentagon and CIA have been examining possible targets; the British government has started planning to protect its embassy offices and citizens in the event of a U.S. attack; and Israel has a contingency plan in place for attacking Iran if the U.S. doesn't get around to it.

The New York Times leads with an internal report by U.S. Embassy and military command in Baghdad revealing a graver situation in Iraq than depicted by top politicians and military officials. The Los Angeles Times leads with plans by cable and telephone companies to possibly start charging internet companies to make their data run faster along clogged telecommunications networks. Though differential pricing schemes are common in business, such plans are contrary to the egalitarian nature of the internet, where currently all content is treated equally. Many worry the buck would be passed down to the average internet user, and new fees would apply to access different kinds of content.

Kerry finds his way by reading the Koran

That's his new line. From today's NYT

A Roman Catholic who has struggled at times to talk about his own faith, Mr. Kerry also told the group that he believed "deeply in my faith" and that the Koran, the Torah, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles had influenced a social conscience that he exercised in politics.

Cuba? It was great, say boys freed from US prison camp

James Astill meets teenagers released from Guantanamo Bay who recall the place fondly

Asadullah strives to make his point, switching to English lest there be any mistaking him. "I am lucky I went there, and now I miss it. Cuba was great," said the 14-year-old, knotting his brow in the effort to make sure he is understood.

Not that Asadullah saw much of the Caribbean island. During his 14-month stay, he went to the beach only a couple of times - a shame, as he loved to snorkel. And though he learned a few words of Spanish, Asadullah had zero contact with the locals.

He spent a typical day watching movies, going to class and playing football. He was fascinated to learn about the solar system, and now enjoys reciting the names of the planets, starting with Earth. Less diverting were the twice-monthly interrogations about his knowledge of al-Qaida and the Taliban. But, as Asadullah's answer was always the same - "I don't know anything about these people" - these sessions were merely a bore: an inevitably tedious consequence, Asadullah suggests with a shrug, of being held captive in Guantanamo Bay.

On January 29, Asadullah and two other juvenile prisoners were returned home to Afghanistan. The three boys are not sure of their ages. But, according to the estimate of the Red Cross, Asadullah is the youngest, aged 12 at the time of his arrest. The second youngest, Naqibullah, was arrested with him, aged perhaps 13, while the third boy, Mohammed Ismail, was a child at the time of his separate arrest, but probably isn't now.

Tracked down to his remote village in south-eastern Afghanistan, Naqibullah has memories of Guantanamo that are almost identical to Asadullah's. Prison life was good, he said shyly, nervous to be receiving a foreigner to his family's mud-fortress home.

The food in the camp was delicious, the teaching was excellent, and his warders were kind. "Americans are good people, they were always friendly, I don't have anything against them," he said. "If my father didn't need me, I would want to live in America."

Asadullah is even more sure of this. "Americans are great people, better than anyone else," he said, when found at his elder brother's tiny fruit and nut shop in a muddy backstreet of Kabul. "Americans are polite and friendly when you speak to them. They are not rude like Afghans. If I could be anywhere, I would be in America. I would like to be a doctor, an engineer _ or an American soldier."

Dems have been smarter than they look

That's what Amy Sullivan says at Washington Monthly. Key grafs:

Rolling grenades

On virtually all of the major slips this White House has made in the past year, there have been unnoticed Democrats putting down the banana peels. One of the best examples—and certainly the issue that sent Bush's poll numbers southward—was the Dubai port deal. The little-noticed administration decision to contract with a United Arab Emirate-owned company to run terminals at six ports around the United States mushroomed into a public relations disaster for which the Bush administration was uncharacteristically unprepared. Within a week of the story breaking, congressional Republicans had vowed to pass legislation undoing the deal, Bush angrily declared he would veto such legislation, and polls showed that three-quarters of Americans were concerned the deal would jeopardize American security. Even more damaging, the issue shifted public opinion about who can best protect the country from future acts of terrorism. For the first time since 9/11, Democrats pulled even with Republicans on this question.

If you read the press coverage of the story, you would have thought the issue surfaced on its own. In fact, however, the story was a little grenade rolled into the White House bunker by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). No one was aware of the port deal until Schumer—who had been tipped off by a source in the shipping industry—held a press conference, and another, and another until the press corps finally paid attention. As for Schumer, he popped up in news reports about the deal, but almost always as a "critic of the administration," not as the initiator of the entire episode.

This is not a lone example. In the winter of 2005, Bush unveiled his Social Security privatization plan, the domestic centerpiece of his second term. The president invested a tremendous amount of personal political capital in the effort, featuring it in his 2005 State of the Union address and holding carefully choreographed town meetings to simulate public support for the idea.

Most of the press corps expected the debate to be a painful defeat for Democrats. Not only were moderates predicted to jump ship and join with Republicans to support the president's plan, but Social Security—one of the foundational blocks of the New Deal social compact—would be irrevocably changed. But then a funny thing happened. Reid and Pelosi managed to keep the members of their caucuses united in opposition. Day after day they launched coordinated attacks on Bush's "risky" proposal. Without a single Democrat willing to sign on and give a bipartisanship veneer of credibility, the private accounts plan slowly came to be seen by voters for what it was: another piece of GOP flimflam.

As the privatization ship began sinking, Republicans challenged Democrats to develop their own plan, and when none was forthcoming, pundits whacked the minority party for being without ideas. But not putting forth a plan was the plan. It meant that once the bottom fell out on public support for Bush's effort—which it did by early summer—Democrats couldn't be pressured to work with Republicans to form a compromise proposal. It was a brilliant tactical maneuver that resulted in a defeat at least as decisive as the Republicans' successful effort to kill Clinton's health-care plan.
Read it all

Mollohan Story: A Game-Changer?

Hotline has this:

The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the feds are investigating Rep. Alan Mollohan's (D-WV 01) finances and "whether they were properly disclosed."

According to the Journal, Mollohan's household assets exponentially grew (from $565K in '00 to at least $6.3M in' 04).

In addition, the article notes that one of his non-profit groups is "funded almost entirely through provisions he put into annual spending bills." NRCC Chmn Tom Reynolds called today for Mollohan to step down as ranking member of the ethics cmte until an investigation is complete.

If this story has legs, it could muddy the Dem narrative of the GOP culture of corruption. It's possible Mollohan accrued a quick fortune from real estate acquisitions and just improperly reporting his finances. Read it all

THE IRAN PLANS

Seymour Hersh says Bush is going to take down Iran. He thinks Bush is overreacting, but makes a strong case in the start of this article that the regime change is necessary. Key grafs:


A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

"Robert Baer, who was a C.I.A. officer in the Middle East and elsewhere for two decades, told me that Ahmadinejad and his Revolutionary Guard colleagues in the Iranian government “are capable of making a bomb, hiding it, and launching it at Israel. They’re apocalyptic Shiites. If you’re sitting in Tel Aviv and you believe they’ve got nukes and missiles—you’ve got to take them out. These guys are nuts, and there’s no reason to back off.”
The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror said that “allowing Iran to have the bomb is not on the table. We cannot have nukes being sent downstream to a terror network. It’s just too dangerous.” He added, “The whole internal debate is on which way to go”—in terms of stopping the Iranian program. It is possible, the adviser said, that Iran will unilaterally renounce its nuclear plans—and forestall the American action. “God may smile on us, but I don’t think so. The bottom line is that Iran cannot become a nuclear-weapons state. The problem is that the Iranians realize that only by becoming a nuclear state can they defend themselves against the U.S. Something bad is going to happen.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

SLATE tells us:

The New York Times leads with yesterday's devastating suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, which killed more than 70 Iraqis and heightened fears that the country is tumbling into a sectarian civil war. The attack also tops the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox. The Los Angeles Times leads with the White House spokesman's admission that President Bush authorized Lewis "Scooter" Libby to disclose classified information about Iraq's weapons programs in an apparent effort to discredit administration critics. The Washington Post leads with the collapse of a compromise immigration bill as the Senate adjourned for a two-week recess.

The attack targeted a mosque associated with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the powerful Shiite political party. Three bombs exploded as worshippers were leaving Friday prayers. The bombing was apparently well-coordinated: One bomber—possibly a woman or a man disguised in female dress—detonated a bomb at the mosque's entrance, driving departing worshippers back into the confined space of the mosque, where two other attackers blew themselves up. The WP has the best on-the-spot details.

The LAT's story is headlined: "White House Does Not Deny Leak Claims." But Scott McClellan, Bush's perennially embattled press secretary, actually avoided using the L-word to describe what his boss did, arguing that the president couldn't improperly disclose classified information since once he discloses it, it's considered declassified. He drew a distinction between the kind of disclosure Bush authorized—releasing intelligence about Iraq's prewar weapons programs in an attempt to defuse criticism—which McClellan said was "in the public interest," and revelations that "could compromise our national security," such as reports about the existence of a domestic wiretapping program that is probably illegal. Critics questioned whether Bush was confusing the public interest with his political health. McClellan countered by saying that Democrats were "engaging in crass politics."

San Diego Fence Provides Lessons in Border Control

Fences work! From NPR, of all people:

A Mexican couple hugs at the Mexico-U.S. border.

To those on the U.S. side, the fences in urban areas between Mexico and the United States are a symbol of security. Very few sections are painted or adorned in any way.
To many Mexicans, though, the fence is either an insult to be covered up, or a business opportunity. In Nogales, Sonora, shopkeepers say they are offended that the United States built a wall between them and their twin city, Nogales, Ariz. In Tijuana, long stretches of the fence are covered in advertisements or posters. Another section has crosses and coffins nailed to it, in memory of those who died trying to immigrate.

Before the fence was built, all that separated that stretch of Mexico from California was a single strand of cable that demarcated the international border.

Back then, Border Patrol agent Jim Henry says he was overwhelmed by the stream of immigrants who crossed into the United States illegally just in that sector.

"It was an area that was out of control," Henry says. "There were over 100,000 aliens crossing through this area a year."

Today, Henry is assistant chief of the Border Patrol's San Diego sector. He says apprehensions here are down 95 percent, from 100,000 a year to 5,000 a year, largely because the single strand of cable marking the border was replaced by double -- and in some places, triple -- fencing.

The first fence, 10 feet high, is made of welded metal panels. The second fence, 15 feet high, consists of steel mesh, and the top is angled inward to make it harder to climb over. Finally, in high-traffic areas, there's also a smaller chain-link fence. In between the two main fences is 150 feet of "no man's land," an area that the Border Patrol sweeps with flood lights and trucks, and soon, surveillance cameras.

"Here in San Diego, we have proven that the border infrastructure system does indeed work," Henry says. "It is highly effective." Rest Here

Scientists blame sun for global warming

BBC News:

Climate changes such as global warming may be due to changes in the sun rather than to the release of greenhouse gases on Earth.

Climatologists and astronomers speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Philadelphia say the present warming may be unusual - but a mini ice age could soon follow.

The sun provides all the energy that drives our climate, but it is not the constant star it might seem.

Careful studies over the last 20 years show that its overall brightness and energy output increases slightly as sunspot activity rises to the peak of its 11-year cycle.

And individual cycles can be more or less active.

The sun is currently at its most active for 300 years.

That, say scientists in Philadelphia, could be a more significant cause of global warming than the emissions of greenhouse gases that are most often blamed.

The researchers point out that much of the half-a-degree rise in global temperature over the last 120 years occurred before 1940 - earlier than the biggest rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

Using ancient tree rings, they show that 17 out of 19 warm spells in the last 10,000 years coincided with peaks in solar activity.

They have also studied other sun-like stars and found that they spend significant periods without sunspots at all, so perhaps cool spells should be feared more than global warming.

The scientists do not pretend they can explain everything, nor do they say that attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be abandoned. But they do feel that understanding of our nearest star must be increased if the climate is to be understood.

The reason why they chose 'Buratha'.

"Iraq the Model" says:

A new massacre has struck Baghdad when three suicide bombers attacked the Buratha mosque in Baghdad this afternoon. "More than 70 people were killed and more than 150 were injured" a doctor from Baghdad's medical city told me in a phone call.

A closer look at the targeted mosque makes me think that the ramifications of this massacre can possibly be much worse than the immediate death and pain this terror attack brought, the Buratha mosque is not an ordinary mosque, it has a special religious value for Shia Iraqis as it's thought to be one of the places where Imam Ali stayed and prayed. But that's not the most important thing because this mosque is of considerable political significance, the preacher in this mosque is Jalal Addin al-Sagheer, a cleric from the SCIRI who was the first SCIRI member to publicly urge Ibrahim al-Jafari to withdraw his nomination for office.
This mosque is one of the headquarters of the SCIRI and its clerical wing in Baghdad, even that Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem's son Ammar al-Hakkem preaches occasionally in this mosque when sheikh Jalal is not available.

A military confrontation between the Sadr militias and the American (and possibly Iraqi) army is imminent and it's the Sadrists themselves who are pushing in this direction and preparing their forces for a battle they want to have to disrupt the political process and drag Iraq into an irreversible state of civil war.
There are powers in the region that want this to happen, primarily Syria and Iran but I think they realized that a Sadr Vs. US battle is not enough and can only result in a big defeat for Sadr without reaching their desired objective of ruining Iraq.
So, it is logical to think that Iran and Syria would try to drag as many Iraqi parties as possible into this battle and the first candidate they would choose would be the SCIRI, the powerful Shia party that is not getting along well with Sadr and has recently sided with the Kurds, Sunni and secular powers in calling for Jafari to step away and even considering forming a united political front with them.
Another possible theory is that this attack is a warning message to the SCIRI that they must stay friends with Sadr, support Jafari and abort any plan to form a unity government with the Kurds, Sunni and secular parties.
If either theory is correct, the attack is aimed at stopping Iraq from having a government and prolonging the instability for as long as possible.

Let's also take a look at the planning for the attack that is very well studied too, the suicide bombers did not start striking during Friday prayers when the place is usually heavily guarded and security personnel are at high alert but the first strike came more than 15 minutes later when an attack is less expected and after guards felt they accomplished their mission in protecting the worshippers during the main ceremony to be followed by the other two bombings that took advantage of the state of panic created by the first bombing. This in addition to the use of disguise has of course made the breach easier to make.

The attack was no doubt carried out by al-Qaeda but the target was chosen from the powers across the borders.

Amazing what you can get away with

Island says no to chain stores downtown
Nantucket rule needs attorney general's OK

By Jenna Russell, Globe Staff

NANTUCKET -- Chain stores, take notice: This remote island enclave has pulled up its drawbridge.

Without a word of discussion or debate this week, Nantucket Town Meeting voters banned retail stores and restaurants owned by national chains from their quaint downtown of brick sidewalks and cobblestone streets.

The ban is believed to be the most sweeping exclusion of chain businesses to date in Massachusetts, according to island officials. The decision follows votes in a growing number of communities around the country to banish fast-food chains, including Ogunquit, Maine, last fall. A new rule on Nantucket must be approved by Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly before it takes effect.

On Nantucket's Main Street yesterday, where shoppers can still order an egg cream at the old-fashioned lunch counter in Congdon's Pharmacy, many shopkeepers and customers said they were pleased with the outcome.

''Part of the reason people live here is that it's a tightknit community and we can support our friends' businesses," said Beth Simonsis, 39. ''If we need something from a big store, like at Christmas, we go off island."

Has Ahmadinejad Miscalculated?

Victor Davis Hanson says:

History would not see such restraint as sobriety, but rather as criminal neglect tantamount to collective suicide, and would reason: "An Israeli prime minister was warned by the president of Iran that he wished to wipe Israel off the map. He was then informed that Iran was close to getting nuclear weapons. And then he did nothing, allowing a radical Islamic regime to gain the means to destroy the Jewish state."

So for all the lunacy of Mr. Ahmadinejad, it is time for him to sober up and do some cool reckoning. He thinks appearing unhinged offers advantages in nuclear poker. And he preens that unpredictability is the private domain of the fanatical believer, who talks into empty wells and uses his powers of hypnosis to ensure his listeners cannot blink.

Iran, of course, is still an underdeveloped country. It seems to profess that it is willing to lose even its poverty in order to take out one wealthy Western city in the exchange. But emotion works both ways, and the Iranians must now be careful. Mr. Bush is capable of anger and impatience as well. Of all recent American presidents, he seems the least likely to make decisions about risky foreign initiatives on the basis of unfavorable polls.

Israel is not free from its passions either — for there will be no second Holocaust. It is time for the Iranian leaders to snap out of their pseudo-trances and hocus-pocus, and accept that some Western countries are not merely far more powerful than Iran, but in certain situations and under particular circumstances, can be just as driven by memory, history, and, yes, a certain craziness as well.

Ever since September 11, the subtext of this war could be summed up as something like, "Suburban Jason, with his iPod, godlessness, and earring, loves to live too much to die, while Ali, raised as the 11th son of an impoverished but devout street-sweeper in Damascus, loves death too much to live." The Iranians, like bin Laden, promulgate this mythical antithesis, which, like all caricatures, has elements of truth in it. But what the Iranians, like the al Qaedists, do not fully fathom, is that Jason, upon concluding that he would lose not only his iPod and earring, but his entire family and suburb as well, is capable of conjuring up things far more frightening than anything in the 8th-century brain of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Unfortunately, the barbarity of the nightmares at Antietam, Verdun, Dresden, and Hiroshima prove that well enough.

So far the Iranian president has posed as someone 90-percent crazy and 10-percent sane, hoping we would fear his overt madness and delicately appeal to his small reservoirs of reason. But he should understand that if his Western enemies appear 90-percent children of the Enlightenment, they are still effused with vestigial traces of the emotional and unpredictable. And military history shows that the irrational 10 percent of the Western mind is a lot scarier than anything Islamic fanaticism has to offer.

So, please, Mr. Ahmadinejad, cool the rhetoric fast — before you needlessly push once reasonable people against the wall, and thus talk your way into a sky full of very angry and righteous jets. Read it all

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bill of Health

Arnold Kling, at WSJ.com, tells us [$]
The elected leaders of Massachusetts have come up with a novel solution for the vexing problem of paying for health care: abolish the laws of arithmetic. Their new plan is a perfect illustration of what happens when politicians approach a problem unconstrained by reality.

The plan includes tax incentives and penalties for employers and individuals to get everyone covered by a health-care policy. It also promises affordable health insurance for people with modest incomes, under a program yet to be negotiated between the state and private insurance companies. Nevertheless, three numbers stand out: $295, the annual penalty per worker a company must pay to the state if it does not provide health insurance; $0, the deductible on the typical state-subsidized health-insurance policy under the plan; and $6,000, the average annual expenditure on health care for a Massachusetts resident....

The question is this: What insurance company will provide coverage with $0 deductible, at an annual premium of $295, for someone whose health care costs on average $6,000 a year? The numbers imply losses of over $5,700, not counting administrative costs. To subsidize zero-deductible health insurance, state taxpayers might have to pay out about $6,000 per recipient.

There is no reason to expect firms to rush to offer a policy to uninsured employees. It makes more sense for them to pay their $295 penalty and hand the health-insurance problem back to the individual -- and ultimately to the taxpayers of Massachusetts
.

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

Slate says:

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times leads with government documents showing that indicted former White House aide Scooter Libby testified it was President Bush who authorized Scooter to leak (cherry-picked) pre-war intel about Iraq in an effort to rebut Joe Wilson's criticisms. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox and USA Today lead with the compromise immigration Senate billdetailed in TP yesterday—being nearly wrapped up last night before some hitting snags in the wee hours. (USAT doesn't seem to catch the last-minute problems.)

Libby testified that Vice President Cheney told him Bush "specifically had authorized" him to "disclose certain information" from the classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. The newly disclosed documents, which came from the special prosecutor's office, don't assert that Bush told Libby to out former CIA agent Valerie Plame (whose name was not in the NIE) and in fact says Bush was "unaware of the role" Libby played in the outing.

In any case, Libby said a White House lawyer had assured him before he leaked that the leak wasn't really one, since if the president ordered it that amounted to declassification, a notion legal experts backed up. But Bush has long portrayed himself as an anti-leak purist. "I've constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks, particularly leaks of classified information," he once said regarding Plame. "If there's a leak out of the administration, I want to know who it is."

I think of these as an "ego trip" for the podcaster


Nobody Actually Listens To Podcasts The Forrester study revealed that about 25 percent of online users had an interest in podcasts, yet in North America, only about one percent of online households actually download and listen to them.

Wither Giuliani? The NYT takes a look.

Heres an extract:

Asked why Mr. Giuliani, now 61 and out of office, would put himself in a position to have to answer questions about his two failed marriages or the mob ties in his family, Ms. Mindel countered: "Does the public have the patience to even go through that again?"

Mr. Carbonetti, who served as Mr. Giuliani's chief of staff in City Hall, added that Mr. Giuliani would seek a measure of privacy, as he had in the past. "He would say that's part of his private life," Mr. Carbonetti said.

Officially, Mr. Giuliani is focused on the midterm elections: Mr. Carbonetti said he had stacks of phone messages and mail from campaigns and operatives asking for Mr. Giuliani to headline a fund-raiser, film a commercial, write a letter or go out to campaign. Asked for the number of requests, Ms. Mindel said, "We don't have that many fingers and toes."

Unofficially, of course, Mr. Carbonetti recognizes that the politicking in 2006 could easily become prologue for 2008. A founding partner and managing director at Giuliani Partners, a consulting and financial services firm, Mr. Carbonetti said his job was to present Mr. Giuliani with every option should he decide to run. These options flow partly from the chits and pledges of help and support that come as Mr. Giuliani helps fellow Republicans.

Mr. Giuliani's plans include holding a cocktail party in New York City this month for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and traveling to Iowa — which holds the first caucuses of the nominating season in 2008 — to campaign with Representative Jim Nussle, a candidate for governor, and spend time getting to know state party power brokers.

"The mayor sees them as helping keep our majority, and, of course, this is how you build relationships," Mr. Carbonetti said. "It's how you go out and learn about the issues in the rest of the country. Every time you touch down in another state, you have a brand-new set of issues that you didn't know about yesterday."

Most members of Mr. Giuliani's circle express optimism that the political landscape in 2008 will be hospitable to a candidate with Mr. Giuliani's background and expertise. Significantly, several friends say, Mr. Giuliani's wife, Judith Nathan, has made clear that she strongly supports the idea of his running for president.

"If the issues in 2008 are the war on terror and leadership, Rudy scores a 10," said Vincent A. LaPadula, who was an official in the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations and is now an investment banker. "The only other person in that class is Senator McCain." Senator John McCain of Arizona is considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
We Need a Wall » Charles Krauthammer | The immigration problem requires two acts of will: the ugly act of putting up a fence and the generous act of absorbing illegals as citizens.

Why Boot Camp is the Beginning of the End for Windows?

I am clueless, but this blog by Sam Gerstenzang is interesting. Extract:

State of the Market
Upon the release of Boot Camp, the whole market has suddenly changed. Two weeks ago, roughly 95% of the personal computer could run Windows without any hacks, and 5% of the market could run OS X. Now, 100% can run Windows and only 5% OS X. Intially, this might look bad for OS X, a so-called "Osborne effect" on the horizon, but on closer examination it exactly the oppisite. I'd place even money that Macbook Pro sales doubled or even tripled on the day Boot Camp was released, solely from the purchases of system adminstraters who have to deal with both operating systems. This isn't limited only to techies though, the education market is also going to blossom. Schools who have tradionally run two computer labs, one Mac, one Windows, can now have a dual purpose labs. And more importantly, support from a single company. Business sales will also go up because of the availability of reliable and lightweight laptops. Home sales will go up because of the ability to run Windows business applications and games at the same time as having a digital iLife (and super sexy, super thin computers as well).

Everyone a winner? Not quite.
This first appears to benefit both Apple and Microsoft equally, both get increased sales and the only companies that should be worrying are the likes of Lenovo, Gateway, HP and Dell. But on closer examination, this isn't at all true. The vast majority of sales of Windows intended for the Mac will be from people who would have purchased Windows anyway, just included on their Dell or whatever their former PC manufacture of choice was. The small number of number of sales generated by people who would have bought a Mac anyway but now also want to run Windows will be countered by the increased amount of piracy that will surely ensue because Windows won't come bundled with hardware anymore. This does increase Macintosh market share though, because every sale of a dual-booting Macintosh is, well, a sale of a dual-booting Macintosh. Let's play this conservatively, and say in the next 5 years Mac sales double. We're now in a world where 10% of the computer market belongs to Apple, and Windows sales begin to slow due to new Macintosh users who are tired of dual-booting and realize they don't need Windows actually anyway. The OS X software market flourishes with more sales for third-party developers. Windows is still a monopoly, but to a lesser extend then before.

Islam’s Imperial Dreams

Efraim Karsh is head of Mediterranean Studies at King’s College, University of London, and the author of, among other works, Arafat’s War, Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography, and Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East.

He has Islamic Imperialism: A History, coming out, and he has a long excerpt of it in "Commentary Magazine" this month. Looks like he is the new "Bernard Lewis." Read the Magazine article. [hat tip Powerline] A good quote from it:

Whether in its militant or its more benign version, this world-conquering agenda continues to meet with condescension and denial on the part of many educated Westerners. To intellectuals, foreign-policy experts, and politicians alike, “empire” and “imperialism” are categories that apply exclusively to the European powers and, more recently, to the United States. In this view of things, Muslims, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, are merely objects—the long-suffering victims of the aggressive encroachments of others. Lacking an internal, autonomous dynamic of its own, their history is rather a function of their unhappy interaction with the West, whose obligation it is to make amends. This perspective dominated the widespread explanation of the 9/11 attacks as only a response to America’s (allegedly) arrogant and self-serving foreign policy, particularly with respect to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

BUSH LEAKED!

That will be everybody's lead tomorrow. Of course he leaked. That's what Presidents do. It's legal. The left loves to talk about FDR's "trial balloons." But the MSM will build this up as a crime.

This graphic is getting a lot of play

Thanks to Malkin

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.), a well-known opponent of amnesty for illegal aliens, voiced his disgust today in hearing of the Senate's decision to "compromise" on illegal immigration reform and grant "blanket citizenship" to more than 10 million illegal aliens:

"The Democrats have once again used parliamentary tactics to obstruct the Senate from pursuing its priorities. The only difference this time is that Senator Frist let them. By surrendering to the amnesty demands of Democrats and squishy Republicans, Frist squandered a great opportunity to secure our borders and gain control of our broken immigration system.

"The Senate amnesty deal is miserable public policy that will be rejected by the House of Representatives and has already been rejected by the American people. It continues the running joke that is our immigration system by treating the same crimes differently. In a perverse rendition of hide-and-seek, it grants a reward to those who evaded law enforcement for the longest time. And, as we did in 1986, it will encourage more illegal aliens to come into this country in the hope of yet another amnesty.

"The Senate's amnesty authors don't dispute that their deal will offer blanket amnesty to at least 10 million illegal aliens -- everyone who entered the country illegally through 2004. But they wouldn't be dealing honestly with the American people if they failed to state what will happen with the additional two million or more illegal aliens who came here more recently. No illegal alien with half a brain would admit that they came here after 2004. And how could law enforcement tell? The Senate deal asks people who have broken the law for years -- often using fraudulent documents -- to provide proof that they've lived here. I can guarantee that many of those fraudulent documents – which law enforcement hasn't been able to detect yet -- will be used to obtain legal status.

"Handing out legal identification to millions of illegal aliens will expose our nation's Achilles' heal more quickly than almost any single action this Congress could take. Just this morning, the International Relations Committee heard from a whistleblower at USCIS -- the agency that would be charged with screening the 10 million illegal aliens -- who documented the massive fraud and mismanagement in that agency. USCIS has a security backlog in the millions and, in order to reduce the backlog, is encouraging adjudicators to approve visas in fewer than four minutes. It is no secret that two-thirds of foreign-born terrorists operating in the U.S. committed immigration fraud prior to or in conjunction with their terrorist activities. Piling 10 million more applications on USCIS is suicidal in terms of national security."

Why McCain could win

In a CS Monitor article, read this quote.

Social conservatives: not convinced

The camp that may be the hardest to woo is the social conservatives. In interviews, leaders speak of McCain in the harshest of terms, with no hope of redemption.

"Everybody understands, he hates the Christian right. That's a real problem," says Paul Weyrich, head of the Free Congress Foundation. Mr. Weyrich dismisses the Falwell speech invitation as just a "personal patchup."

"He wants to remake the Republican Party into pre-Reagan times," Weyrich continues. "Republicans traditionally stood for limited government, free enterprise, and a strong national defense. We added a fourth leg to that stool, which was traditional American values. And he wants to get rid of that."

But Weyrich agrees that as long as the social conservatives don't have a strong presidential hopeful of their own, it will be hard to "beat somebody with nobody."

Micheal Ledeen on "The Protocols of the Elders of Harvard."

NRO - Most commentary on the screed has generally focused on the details–ranging from factual mistakes to lopsided "interpretations" — which is all to the good. But the most important thing about screed is not the errors of fact; it’s The Big Lie at its core. The same Big Lie we’ve heard for centuries: The Jews run the world, and they do it by manipulating others to carry out the Jews’ designs. The premise on which "The Israel Lobby" rests is that American foreign policy, for more than half a century, is the product of a small band of willful and clever people who have tricked the American people and every president into acting in Israel’s interests, not our own. This is anti-Semitism in the grand tradition.

But the most amazing sentence in the screed is this one: "Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship." Which is to say, "Jewish" is a racial matter, not a religious one.

That is why, when Walt and Mearsheimer claim they have nothing against the Jews, it reminds me of Richard Nixon protesting "I am not a crook." He was, and they do. The ritual denial, now as then, is an expression of contempt for the listener, not an act of candor.

The real "Jill Carrol?" TWT


Debbie Schlussel has this at her blog:

From a reader: I met Carroll in Cairo two summers ago in an Arabic language training school (Kalimaat).

I admit I was struck by her anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments. From the comments she made she seemed to detest America more than Arabs did. She was pleased that I mistakenly identified her as Canadian and expressed a wish to deny being American. I was surprised knowing how proud Americans normally are of their identity. She refused to use the name Israel but called it 'that state' with some venom, which made me feel uncomfortable as she knew I was Jewish.

What's really funny, considering that she works for the CS Monitor, were the comments she made about the Bible "that shit book"

I can't tell you how delighted I was to read this.

I watched Anahiem let it's "planners" destroy it's old "downtown" back in the 70's. They really "Stalinized" it. Curt Pringle is a breath of fresh air. WSJ.com

Anaheim, just north of Garden Grove, is proving it. Although the community faces similar problems, its city council, led by Republican Mayor Curt Pringle, is taking a more freedom-friendly approach to revitalization: protecting property rights, deregulating land uses, promoting competition, loosening business restrictions and lowering taxes.

Anaheim's old downtown was obliterated in the 1970s through past uses of eminent domain and urban renewal. Now, the city (population: 328,000) wants to build a new downtown, and the target location is called the Platinum Triangle, an area of one-story warehouses near Angel Stadium. In the typical world of redevelopment, officials would choose a plan and a developer, offer subsidies and exclusive development rights, and exert pressure on existing property owners to leave the area. Instead, Anaheim created a land-value premium by creating an overlay zone that allowed almost any imaginable use of property. Because current owners could now sell to a wider range of buyers, the Platinum Triangle is booming, with billions in private investment, millions of square feet of office, restaurant and retail space, and more than a dozen new high-rises in the works.

The area is developing quickly, without controversy and without a single piece of property taken by eminent domain. Early signs point to an enormous success. "Too often, I hear my colleagues in local government . . . say that Kelo-type eminent domain and redevelopment policies are their only tools to revitalize cities," Mr. Pringle recently said. "I have a simple message . . . Visit the Platinum Triangle."

The previous planning commission and city council were harsh on small businesses seeking variances; the new council (which took office in December 2002) began overturning one commission decision after another, with the goal of giving local residents and businesses as much leeway as possible.

The council waived fees for homeowners undertaking renovations, on the grounds that the city would gain in the long run by the increase in property taxes. Anaheim also waived fees for business start-ups for three months; some 2,000 new businesses formed in 2005, an increase of one-third from the previous year. It also passed a tax amnesty and eliminated business taxes altogether for home-based businesses. Most cities don't like to allow churches to build new worship centers, because tax-exempt churches typically locate in commercial and industrial areas, taking properties off the tax rolls. Anaheim has eliminated most hurdles for approving new churches. Its housing plan also avoids "inclusionary zoning"--an increasingly popular approach to mandate that builders set aside certain amounts of "affordable" housing.

"Mayor Pringle is a god in our world," says Kristine Thalman, CEO of the Building Industry Association of Orange County. "He gets it. He understands the regulatory issues and some of the impediments to development."

Time to "cut and run"

Congresswoman in Capitol Fight Apologizes

WASHINGTON AP - With a grand jury investigating and little support from House colleagues, Rep. Cynthia McKinney reversed course and apologized Thursday for an altercation in which she entered a Capitol building unrecognized, refused to stop when asked by a police officer and then hit him.

"I am sorry that this misunderstanding happened at all and I regret its escalation, and I apologize," McKinney, D-Ga., said during a brief appearance on the House floor. "There should not have been any physical contact in this incident."

The grand jury investigation into whether to seek assault or other charges was continuing. It was unclear what impact the McKinney apology might have.

Her remarks came as two House officials who witnessed the March 29 scuffle prepared to answer subpoenas from the grand jury convened by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein. A day earlier, McKinney was shunned on the House floor by several colleagues, while the leaders of her party openly rejected her explanation that she was acting in self defense when she hit the officer.

What McKinney called a "misunderstanding" on Thursday she had labeled "racial profiling" and "inappropriate touching" a day earlier. For nearly a week, she and her lawyers had insisted that she had been assaulted and had done nothing wrong. She is black and the police officer is white.

Speech codes choke off discourse, satire

A Louisiana State University Law student has written a excellent analysis the "free speech" problem at Universities.

Higher-education institutions are no longer havens for free intellectual discussion and open debate. Since public universities have lost nearly every court battle over clearly identified speech codes, administrators have developed stealthier ways to regulate unwanted speech. These covert speech codes are hidden in university handbooks under seemingly harmless provisions such as e-mail guidelines, diversity statements and harassment policies. Even though these policies aren’t identified as “speech codes,” university administrators are still able to use them to repress unpopular opinions, censor parodies, hinder political speech and restrict academic freedom.

Poll Finds Steele May Be Magnet for Black Voters

The WaPo says:[hat tip Protein Wisdom]

An internal document prepared by a top Democratic strategist warns that a majority of African American voters in Maryland are open to supporting Republican Senate candidate Michael S. Steele and advises the party not to wait to “knock Steele down."

The 37-page report says a sizable segment of likely black voters—as much as 44 percent—would readily abandon their historic Democratic allegiances “after hearing Steele’s messaging."

“Governor Ehrlich and [Lt. Gov.] Michael Steele have a clear ability to break through the Democratic stronghold among African American voters in Maryland,” says the March 27 report by Cornell Belcher, polling consultant for the Democratic National Committee, which bases its findings on a survey of 489 black voters in Maryland conducted last month.

The report, given to The Washington Post this week, drills into a topic that has emerged as a key focus of this year’s U.S. Senate contest in Maryland: race.

In 2002, Steele became the first African American elected to statewide office in Maryland, and he has designed his Senate campaign to cut into the black support that has traditionally flocked to Democrats.

More than a half-dozen Democrats are vying for the open seat being vacated by Paul S. Sarbanes (D), including the former head of the NAACP, Kweisi Mfume.

Lindsey on the Yuan

Greg Mankiw discusses an Op-Ed by Lindsey in the WSJ today. You wonder why the MSM can't get this straight when they publish the fulminations of Senators like Schrumer:

Economist Larry Lindsey has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal about the Chinese currency. Here is how he summarizes the economics of China's exchange-rate intervention:

America, however, benefits from this arrangement. The Chinese clearly undervalue their exchange rate. This means American consumers are able to buy goods at an artificially low price, making them winners. In order to maintain this arrangement, the People's Bank of China must buy excess dollars, and has accumulated nearly $1 trillion of reserves. Since it has no domestic use for them, it turns around and lends them back to America in our Treasury, corporate and housing loan markets. This means that both Treasury borrowing costs and mortgage interest rates are lower than they otherwise would be. American homeowners and taxpayers are winners as a result.

There are losers, of course, most notably American producers of goods that are now made in China. Yet the losses to these producers are outweighed by the benefits from Chinese subsidies of our imports of consumer goods and the reductions in our borrowing costs from generous Chinese lending. Though correct, in politics these gains are now beside the point.

That is all correct. On strictly economic grounds, a good case can be made that the United States benefits from China's attempts to keep the yuan cheap. After all, what China is doing is buying U.S. Treasury securities. Since the U.S. government is selling U.S. Treasury securities, it would seem odd to object when someone steps up to buy them.

In the end, the ruckus about the yuan is more politics than economics.

It's the Teachers, Stupid

David Wessel has a column in the WSJ.com today [$] about a plan the Democrats have come up with on education. Seems they finally realize they are getting marginalized. An excerpt:

George "No Child Left Behind" Bush outmaneuvered Democrats on the education issue in his first term, pushing through a plan that, albeit controversial, gave him bragging rights on a key economic issue: improving public schools.

Now a band of Democratic-leaning thinkers wants to reclaim the issue. Their proposal, unveiled yesterday, is simple: Get rid of bad teachers and reward good ones.

Simple, in this case, is significant on two counts. First, the proposal publicly confronts teachers' unions, an influential Democratic Party constituency, with the fact that bad teachers are part of the problem.

And, second, the proposal is the first from a well-funded new venture, organized by former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and other like-minded wealthy folks, to bridge the gap between academics with sound, practical ideas to peddle and politicians (mainly Democrats, but moderate Republicans welcomed) desperately seeking same.

The politics here are clear. As Mr. Gordon outlined in the New Republic last June, Democrats were early advocates of making schools more accountable. But their antipathy toward Mr. Bush has blinded them to the parts of the No Child Left Behind law that have merit and left them arguing that all that matters is pumping more money into public schools.

"While Democrats reinforced the old idea that they just want to spend, Bush appealed to a public that wants both accountability and funding," Mr. Gordon wrote. "It's stunning to see Democrats lose their edge on education. ... On education, Democrats don't need to explain why the U.S. needs vigorous government."

These proposals won't change the world. But they would make it better. And they could change what's become a sterile debate over how best to remedy one of America's biggest weaknesses: its public schools. That alone would be a good thing

Pre-emptive Surrender of the Borders

Mac Johnson at "American Thinker" says:
You can tell that the tide is turning in the debate over illegal immigration, because the advocates of open borders and amnesty are no longer arguing about what should be done. Now their argument has degenerated into a description of what can't be done. From a dozen mouths this week we have heard: "we just can't deport 11 million immigration criminals –even if we wanted to," and of course the amnesty proponents don't want to.

Well, how convenient. But polls show they've lost the argument by a 3 to 1 margin, so to them it turns out that the debate was pointless anyway. Only their plan is even possible. The world's sole superpower has been defeated by a surplus of busboys and gardeners.

The follow-up question I never hear asked is: "If we can't deport 11 million, then how many can we deport; and can we get started on that number?" The implicit answer always seems to be "we cannot deport any number". Read the rest here

Cartoon Wars

Don't miss this "South Park" show tonight:


Cartoon Wars -10PM EST Cartman and Kyle are at war over the popular cartoon, "Family Guy." It's a great takeoff of the Muslim riots over the cartoons.
Peggy Noonon:

The rise of Katie Couric to the "Evening News," however, raises an interesting question, and may be suggestive of the media environment of the future. I am not referring to the fact that Katie's a woman and will be the first to "fly solo," as everyone is saying. It's not 1967, and she's not replacing Walter Cronkite, who counted. We're all happily used to women bringing us the news.

It's this. The evening news shows have traditionally had an air of greater formality than the morning news, where the parameters for comment and personal views were understood to be broader. They have two hours to fill, not 23 minutes, of course personal views emerge. Ms. Couric's on-air comments the past decade have led many people to understand that her political and cultural beliefs are pronounced, rigid, and part of her public presentation of herself. And that this is true in a way that does not apply to the beliefs, whatever they are, of Bob Schieffer, Brian Williams and Elizabeth Vargas. (Yes, Dan Rather also consistently signaled and declared his views, but in the end that contributed to his ouster.)

Is the appointment of Katie an acknowledgement by CBS that it doesn't feel it has to care anymore about political preferences, that the existence of Fox News Channel has in effect freed up the network broadcasts to be what you and I might call more politically tendentious and they might call edgy? In a fractured media environment where everyone can have a voice, why wouldn't the broadcast networks take the new freedom as new license? After all, if America is one big niche market, liberals make up a big niche.

I'm wondering how the network news divisions are viewing the lay of the land. The answer will tell us something about the future American media environment.

Jeb Bush as VP with McCain or Giuliani?

That's being bruited about right now. "Just one Minute" says: "Rudy-Jeb '08! Or John-Jeb '08. Either way, the Bush Machine gains a stake in the outcome."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

The NYT is very happy to have evidence that puts down the evangelicals, so they lead with the "Fish with arms" story. Katie Couric and the Apple/Windows story are two and three. I thought the fact that an Apple computer couldn't get MS viruses was a good thing. Now they go the other way.

Campaign finance and Immigration are the WaPo leads. I expect this immigration bill to get tied up in Senate/House committee forever.

Bush Wants Capacity to Make 125 Nukes a Year is the LA Times lead. Seems they want to retire old Nukes.

Criminal alien exception blocked

The Washington Times tells us that:

Senate Democrats refused to allow consideration of an amendment yesterday that would bar illegal aliens convicted of felonies from obtaining U.S. citizenship.
Democrats said the amendment would "gut" the immigration bill under consideration in the Senate and refused to allow a vote on it.
"It hurts the bill," said Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "It hurts the very foundation and what I believe is the spirit" of the legislation.
Republican Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Cornyn of Texas restated the purpose of their amendment and appeared incredulous that anyone would object to it.
"I do not have to explain in any more detail than what I have as why I don't want to move forward," Mr. Reid said. "I don't agree with the amendment. I don't think it's going to benefit this legislation that is pending before the Senate and I'm going to do what I can to prevent a vote on it."
Later, Mr. Reid added, "We're not going to allow amendments like Kyl-Cornyn to take out what we believe is the goodness of this bill."
The entire bill is "in effect being blocked by the other side," said Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican.
After debate over the bill ground to a halt last night, Democrats filed a "cloture motion" that could set up a final vote before the end of the week on an immigration bill that many conservatives view as "amnesty." The bill allows illegal aliens to pay a $2,000 fine and remain working in the U.S. while applying for citizenship.
The Kyl-Cornyn amendment would have barred from U.S. citizenship any illegal alien who has been convicted of a felony, three misdemeanors or refused a court order to leave the country.
Democrats said the amendment is not necessary because crimes of "moral turpitude" such as rape and murder already prevent an illegal from obtaining U.S. citizenship, as would violations of drug laws.
Mr. Kyl came to the floor and listed the crimes he said would not be included without his amendment, such as burglary, assault and battery, possession of an unregistered, sawed-off shotgun, kidnapping and alien smuggling.

Another "Blood Boiler"

Mark Bowden, who wrote "Black Hawk Down," has a new book coming out on the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War With Militant Islam. Atlantic Magazine is excerpting it. This excerpt is called "The Desert One Debacle." They have set it up with Video interviews. This extract alone tells you why we failed.

Another presidential directive concerned the use of nonlethal riot-control agents. Given that the shah’s occasionally violent riot control during the revolution was now Exhibit A in Iran’s human-rights case against the former regime and America, Carter wanted to avoid killing Iranians, so he had insisted that if a hostile crowd formed during the raid, Delta should attempt to control it without shooting people. Burruss considered this ridiculous. He and his men were going to assault a guarded compound in the middle of a city of more than 5 million people, most of them presumed to be aggressively hostile. It was unbelievably risky; everyone on the mission knew there was a very good chance they would not get home alive. Wade Ishmoto, a Delta captain who worked with the unit’s intelligence division, had joked, “The only difference between this and the Alamo is that Davy Crockett didn’t have to fight his way in.” And Carter had the idea that this vastly outnumbered force was first going to try holding off the city with nonviolent crowd control? Burruss understood the president’s thinking on this, but with their hides so nakedly on the line, shouldn’t they be free to decide how best to defend themselves? He had complained about the directive to General Jones, who had said he would look into it, but the answer had come back “No, the president insists.” So Burruss had made his own peace with it. He had with him one tear-gas grenade--one--which he intended to throw as soon as necessary; he would then use its smoke as a marker to call in devastatingly lethal 40 mm AC-130 gunship fire.


Make sure to read it.

American Idol

Idolvote has Mandisa, Elliott, and Paris at the bottom They were exactly right. Idolvote's top three were Taylor, Catherine, and Kelly, in that order. Taylor was 20% ahead of the other two.

They cut away from Mandisa when it was announced she lost. From the audience reaction, I assume she collapsed.

It gets tough from now on. Have you noticed that Ace no longer wears his cap? I suspect someone told him it was Muslim.

The Media and Reporting on the Environment

This report from "Real Clear Politics" should boil your blood:

Next time you read a magazine cover story like the one Time just published ("Be Worried. Be VERY Worried. Polar Ice Caps Are Melting ... More And More Land Is Being Devastated ... Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities... The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame") you should remember one little fact: U.S. media companies, including Time Warner, donate more to the environmental movement than any other industry. Companies like The New York Times, Gannett, Tribune, ABC, CBS and NBC have donated more than a half-billion worth of ad space since the 1990s to raise money for some of the nation's most extreme environmental groups. And yes, that was billion with a B.

To put that number in perspective, America's media companies donate more to environmental groups every year than the much-feared Olin Foundation's spent annually in its effort to build the institutional foundation of the conservative movement. Read it all

How will the Democrats react if we hit Iran?

Kevin Drum at "Washington Monthly" has been musing on this subject. [hat tip Redstate] His latest is:

There's no question that the administration is already preparing the ground for an air strike on Iran, but it's likely that the real push won't come until late summer when it can be used as a cudgel in the midterm elections. Same song, new verse.

And once more: If Democrats don't start thinking about how they're going to respond to this, they're idiots. We don't always get to pick the issues to run on. Sometimes they're picked for us.
Kevin said back in February:

However, it does suggest that Democrats ought to figure out now what they think about Iran. After all, we've got the Ken Pollack book, we've got the referral to the Security Council, we've got the slam dunk intelligence, and we've got the lunatic leader screaming insults at the United States. Remember what happened the last time all the stars aligned like that?

Two Excellent blogs from Barnett today

Federal Program on Vouchers Draws Strong Minority Support

The NYT reports:

Amie is one of about 1,700 low-income, mostly minority students in Washington who at taxpayer expense are attending 58 private and parochial schools through the nation's first federal voucher program, now in its second year.

Last year, parents appeared lukewarm toward the program, which was put in place by Congressional Republicans as a five-year pilot program, But this year, it is attracting more participation, illustrating how school-choice programs are winning over minority parents, traditionally a Democratic constituency.

But the interest in school choice is strong, even without consistent evidence that low-income children do better in charter or private schools. The largest one-time study of student achievement recently compared math scores of pupils from similar backgrounds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and found neither private school nor charter students doing better than those in public schools.

In the mostly minority Dayton, Ohio, school district, for example, 28 percent of schoolchildren have opted out of public schools in favor of charter schools, which are publicly financed but privately operated.

In Houston, 12 percent have done the same; in Oakland, Calif., 9 percent of public school children attend charter schools. In New York City, 12,000 children, 1.2 percent of the school population, attend charter schools, but the number of such schools is capped.

In Washington, in addition to those children opting for private schools, many others are flocking to charter schools, which have siphoned off about 25 percent of children, and $37 million in revenue this year alone.

The Washington program is being watched closely because when Congress must tackle reauthorizing President Bush's signature education law, No Child Left Behind, in 2007, the program could become a model for Republican efforts to extend vouchers nationally. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said Wednesday in an appearance in New York City that the Bush administration wanted "to help spread this experiment." Read it all

Fossil Called Missing Link From Sea to Land Animals

The New York Times reports that:

Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375-million-year-old fish, a large scaly creature not seen before, that they say is a long-sought missing link in the evolution of some fishes from water to a life walking on four limbs on land.

In two reports today in the journal Nature, a team of scientists led by Neil H. Shubin of the University of Chicago say they have uncovered several well-preserved skeletons of the fossil fish in sediments of former streambeds in the Canadian Arctic, 600 miles from the North Pole.

The skeletons have the fins, scales and other attributes of a giant fish, four to nine feet long. But on closer examination, the scientists found telling anatomical traits of a transitional creature, a fish that is still a fish but has changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals — and is thus a predecessor of amphibians, reptiles and dinosaurs, mammals and eventually humans.

In the fishes' forward fins, the scientists found evidence of limbs in the making. There are the beginnings of digits, proto-wrists, elbows and shoulders. The fish also had a flat skull resembling a crocodile's, a neck, ribs and other parts that were similar to four-legged land animals known as tetrapods.

Other scientists said that in addition to confirming elements of a major transition in evolution, the fossils were a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who have long argued that the absence of such transitional creatures are a serious weakness in Darwin's theory. Rest here

Wake up, Europe. It may already be too late.


Mark Steyn tells you "Why the fall and spring riot seasons in France are signs of the coming apocalypse"

The Jill Carroll/Jordan Times connection: It's Worse than her critics imagine

David Paulin at "Big Carnival" has a very interesting explaination of how overseas reporting for the MSM works.
An extract:

............... Papers increasingly rely on freelancers and “contract” reporters; and the way that many people get those jobs is to do what Jill Carroll did: They go abroad and work at an English-language newspaper, get their feet wet, and then start freelancing. In the capitals of most non-English speaking countries, there’s usually one English-language paper. Whether it’s the Mexico City News, Prague Post, Caracas Daily Journal…or The Jordan Times. Papers such as these attract Brits and Americans with varying levels of journalism skills, all with the hope of leveraging their experience into a big-time reporting gig.

That’s the route Carroll took after getting laid off from The Wall Street Journal, where she’d worked as a reporting assistant. By her own account, Carroll always wanted to be a foreign correspondent. She figured that war in Iraq was inevitable; and wanting to have a piece of that action, she got a job at The Jordan Times, a stepping stone on the way to Baghdad.

Carroll learned a bit of Arabic, did some freelance reporting on the side and, basically, positioned herself for her eventual relocation to Iraq where reporters – including many freelance reporters – would be in demand. And like most freelance foreign correspondents, Carroll presumably hoped her freelancework would eventually lead to a full-time staff position. Nobody, after all, likes the irregular pay and lack of benefits that go hand in hand with freelance journalism. Read it all.

In Couric, Hillary for President Camp Has New Anchoring Ally

Another Newsbusters comment:

Thinking ahead to 2008, it's clear that new CBS anchor Katie Couric has to be counted as a positive political asset for Hillary Clinton. Hillary's "Today" interviews have been almost universally sappy and sympathetic. (In a big-picture way, you might also see in solo-anchor Katie another sign, like Geena Davis's "Commander in Chief" on ABC, of an attempt by liberal media to push hard on the equal plausibility and authoritativeness of women in the top jobs.)

Katie may have been speaking both herself and Hillary in the interview that aired on February 18, 2004: "Hillary Clinton's choices in just about everything have been scrutinized and analyzed by almost everyone. She hopes as more women themselves assume positions of power voters will be less judgmental and more forgiving." Katie has been extremely forgiving in her Hillary interviews, ignoring almost all topics Mrs. Clinton would rather not discuss. Instead, Couric has treated her as a serious policy wonk and feminist icon. Here's some notable pro-Hillary quotes from the Clinton era forward: Read it all

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