Saturday, April 15, 2006

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

The NYT Front Page:
Pentagon Memo Aims to Counter Rumsfeld Critics

A one-page memo offers a direct challenge to the criticisms made by retired generals about Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Revival in Japan Brings Widening of Economic Gap
Revival in Japan Brings Widening of Economic Gap

There are increasing signs that Japan's growing economy is destroying one of the nation's most cherished accomplishments: egalitarianism.

Medicaid Hurdle for Immigrants May Hurt Others

Officials fear that a new law will prevent poor people who are unable to come up with citizenship documents from receiving Medicaid benefits.

In Iraqi Divide, Echoes of Bosnia for U.S. Troops
In Iraqi Divide, Echoes of Bosnia for U.S. Troops

As sectarian violence continues to destabilize Iraq, American forces are trying to keep the country from violently partitioning the way Bosnia did.

WaPo Front Page:

Multi-Agency Proposal Awaits Bush's Approval
Plan is first attempt to detail how the government would detect and respond to an outbreak and continue functioning through a lengthy crisis.
By Design, Status Seekers and Tree-Huggers Don't Have to Commune
In largest building boom since 1950s, suburban developers are nixing plain subdivisions for socially-engineered communities that reflect particular sensibilities.
Archaeologists Decry History Buffs' Digs
Jeffrey D'Angelo had the most coveted discovery at a recent relic hunt in Virginia: a Confederate belt plate from Mississippi.

Great account at "Newsbusters"

A Liberal Civil War: The Nation’s Alterman and Vanden Heuvel vs. TIME’s Joe Klein

In Time

You really couldn’t script this any better: Three prominent liberal media members (the third is a player to be named later!) challenging another over what Democrats stand for. And, the beauty is that these folks are actually blogging their disgust with one another for all to read.

Time to Fight the Real War

Robert Tracinski is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily.com.
He has an excellent piece on Iran.

The wars we have fought so far, against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Baathist regime in Iraq—were necessary, but they left the largest, most dangerous Islamist regime untouched. The Iranians know it. Sensing American weakness, they are moving against us on all fronts—and any further delay in pushing them back will only make the task more difficult. We have to act—and we have to act now.

There can be no victory in the War on Terrorism until we confront—and defeat—the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the real war, and it's time we started fighting it.

BROWN IS THE NEW BLACK

Ann Coulter says:

This is the only country on Earth that thinks it's not sporting to consider our own interests in choosing immigrants. Try showing up in any other country on the planet, illiterate and penniless, and announcing: "I've seen pictures of your country and it looks great. I think I'd like to live here! Oh, and by the way, would you mind changing all your government and business phone messages, street signs and ballots into my native language? Thanks!" They would laugh you out of the country.

What seems not to have occurred to the "NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL" crowd is that this is a country, not a public park. Read it all

Europe Stalls on Road to Economic Change

That's the NYT headline. These quotes show that they understand the problem.

"Everybody in Europe agrees that things can't go on the way they are going," said Wolfgang Nowak, a German economist who is in charge of the Deutsche Bank's International Forum. He was speaking about the near-zero-growth economies with high deficits, rigid labor markets and intractable levels of unemployment and social welfare budgets that are increasingly difficult to afford.

"Everybody wants change," Mr. Nowak continued. "At the same time, everybody does everything so that things don't change."

"The political leaders of all these countries know what needs to be done, and it's not rocket science," Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform, in London, said in a telephone interview. "The Lisbon Agenda lays out objectives. But as Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg has said, everybody knows what reforms we need to implement but nobody knows how to implement them and win an election afterwards."

"The anti-liberal clerisy has basically won the intellectual argument in much of Europe," Mr. Grant said. "They've fostered the view that liberal economics leads to a kind of Dickensian vision of child labor and old women crying in the streets."

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

The NYT has:
Rumsfeld Gets Robust Defense From President

President Bush strongly backed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in an effort to blunt retired generals' calls for his resignation.

For Immigrants and Business, Rift on Protests
For Immigrants and Business, Rift on Protests

Hundreds lost their jobs after skipping work to attend rallies against legislation in Congress cracking down on illegal immigrants.

Bird Flu Virus May Be Spread by Smuggling
Bird Flu Virus May Be Spread by Smuggling

There is increasing evidence that a thriving international trade in smuggled poultry is helping spread bird flu, experts say.

For Leading Exxon to Its Riches, $144,573 a Day
For Leading Exxon to Its Riches, $144,573 a Day

Lee R. Raymond, who retired from Exxon in December, was paid more than $686 million from 1993 to 2005.


The WaPo leads:
'My Full Support' For Defense Chief
President Bush interrupted his Easter vacation yesterday to offer an unequivocal vote of confidence in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in a move aimed at countering a growing wave of criticism from retired generals calling for the Pentagon chief to resign over his leadership of the Iraq war.

The LAT leads with a television-industry lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission. The four major networks and 800 of their affiliates are calling recent obscenity fines arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Friday, April 14, 2006

This makes sense, but it isn't "PC"

Law to Segregate Omaha Schools Divides Nebraska
NYT - Sam Dillan
The law calls for dividing public schools into three racially distinct districts, one black, one white and one Hispanic.
Ernie Chambers, the only African-American in the Nebraska Legislature, was a major force behind a law enacted this week that calls for dividing the Omaha school district into three districts defined largely by race.



Ahmadinejad

What are we going to do about him? He is acting like Bin Ladin did back in 911 time. Osama wanted us to attack him in Afghanistan because he believed, based on what they did to the Russians, that they could defeat us. Just how apocalyptic is Ahmadinejad?

AP - The president of Iran again lashed out at Israel on Friday and said it was "heading toward annihilation," just days after Tehran raised fears about its nuclear activities by saying it successfully enriched uranium for the first time.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a "permanent threat" to the Middle East that will "soon" be liberated. He also appeared to again question whether the Holocaust really happened.

"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation," Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a conference in support of the Palestinians. "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."

If we don't retailiate against this move, we haven't got a hair......

Palestinians to get Russian aid
Russia has said it will grant the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority urgent financial aid, in opposition to the policy of the EU and the US.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the pledge to authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a telephone call, Moscow said.

The US and EU cut off aid after Hamas took power on 30 March because the militant group refused to renounce violence or recognise Israel.

Iran on Friday urged the Muslim world to help fund the authority.

A Russian foreign ministry statement said: "Mahmoud Abbas stated his high appreciation of Russia's intent, confirmed by Sergei Lavrov, to grant the Palestinian Authority an urgent financial aid in the nearest future."

Mr Lavrov said on Tuesday withholding aid to the Palestinians was a mistake.

And it looks like Putin is now in for life.

AP headline out of Moscow -- Poll: Nearly half of Russians favor allowing Putin 3rd term for lack of worthy successor . Excerpt: "Forty-five percent of Russians are prepared to see the constitution changed to allow President Vladimir Putin serve a third term because they see no worthy successor, and 21 percent are prepared for such an amendment in case of an emergency such as an economic crisis or terrorist attack, according to a poll by the Yuri Levada Analytical Center. The survey, released Thursday, showed 24 percent of Russians vehemently opposed to amending the constitution to permit a president to serve more than two terms; 10 percent did not express their preferences. The poll of 1,600 respondents in 128 settlements had a margin of error of 3 percentage points."

We finally get rid of him

Al-Arian update from AP:
WASHINGTON - Federal authorities have decided to deport a former University of South Florida professor and long-time Palestinian rights activist after failing to convict him on charges he helped finance terrorist attacks in Israel.

Two lawyers familiar with the case say Sami Al-Arian has reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a lesser charge and be deported.

The lawyers spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been made public by the court.

It isn't clear where Al-Arian will be sent.

Al-Arian has been in jail since a Tampa jury acquitted him in December on eight of the 17 federal charges against him, then deadlocked on the rest...

Why they hate him so

American Thinker says: This quotation from Winston Churchill, one of the great military leaders of modern times, seem to speak directly to the ongoing controversy surrounding Donald Rumsfeld:

Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent, or arrogant commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations — all take their seats at the Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war.

Zarqawi, al Qaeda are heading out, U.S. general says

The Washington Times says:

Al Qaeda in Iraq and its presumed leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, have conceded strategic defeat and are on their way out of the country, a top U.S. military official contended yesterday.
The group's failure to disrupt national elections and a constitutional referendum last year "was a tactical admission by Zarqawi that their strategy had failed," said Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commands the XVIII Airborne Corps.
"They no longer view Iraq as fertile ground to establish a caliphate and as a place to conduct international terrorism," he said in an address at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Gen. Vines' statement came as news broke that coalition and Iraqi forces had killed an associate of Osama bin Laden's during an early morning raid near Abu Ghraib about two weeks ago.
Rafid Ibrahim Fattah aka Abu Umar al Kurdi served as a liaison between terrorist networks and was linked to Taliban members in Afghanistan, Pakistani-based extremists and other senior al Qaeda leaders, the military said yesterday.
In the past six months, al Kurdi had worked as a terrorist cell leader in Baqouba. Prior to that, he had traveled extensively Pakistan, Iran and Iraq and formed a relationship with al Qaeda senior leaders in 1999 while in Afghanistan.
He also had ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, formed while he was in Iran and Pakistan, and joined the jihad in Afghanistan in 1989, the military said. He was killed March 27.
Gen. Vines said the foreign terrorists had made a strategic mistake when they tried to intimidate and deny Iraqis a way to vote.
"I believe Zarqawi discredited himself with the Iraqi people because of his willingness to slaughter Iraqi people," he said.

Woods apologises for spaz reference at Masters

(Reuters) - Tiger Woods has apologised for comments he made during a television interview after the U.S. Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday.

The American world number one, who tied for third place three strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson, was criticised for using the term "spaz" to describe his poor putting in the final round.

"Tiger meant nothing derogatory to any person or persons and apologises for any offence caused," Woods's agent Mark Steinberg said in a statement issued on the player's official website.

John Stossel Tonight

There's a new 20/20 John Stossel special on tonight at 10 Eastern with Freakonomics authors Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. You can watch a clip online.

AOL was really stupid with this move.

This block was pulled after it was published. Here is the comment on the block, and a link to the letter that caused it. What really gets me is that AOL thinks it can get away with this two-tiered Email system. They must think they have a monopoly on Email accounts.

San Francisco - AOL is blocking delivery to AOL customers of all emails that include a link to www.DearAOL.com. Today, over 100 people who signed a petition to AOL tried sending messages to their AOL-using friends, and received a bounce-back message informing them that their email "failed permanently."

"The fact is, ISPs like AOL commonly make these kinds of arbitrary decisions – silently banning huge swathes of legitimate mail on the flimsiest of reasons – every day, and no one hears about it," said Danny O'Brien, Activism Coordinator of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "AOL's planned CertifiedEmail system would let them profit from this power by offering to charge legitimate mailers to bypass these malfunctioning filters."


From: all@dearaol.com
To: postmaster@aol.com
Date: Tue Feb 28 13:00:00 EST 2006
Subject: An Open Letter To America Online

We wish to express our serious concern with AOL's adoption of Goodmail's CertifiedEmail, which is a threat to the free and open Internet.

This system would create a two-tiered Internet in which affluent mass emailers could pay AOL a fee that amounts to an "email tax" for every email sent, in return for a guarantee that such messages would bypass spam filters and go directly to AOL members' inboxes. Those who did not pay the "email tax" would increasingly be left behind with unreliable service. Your customers expect that your first obligation is to deliver all of their wanted mail, and this plan is a step away from that obligation.

AOL's "email tax" is the first step down a slippery slope that will harm the Internet itself. The Internet is a revolutionary force for free speech, civic organizing, and economic innovation precisely because it is open and accessible to all Internet users equally. On a free and open Internet, small ideas can become big ideas overnight. As Internet advocacy groups, charities, non-profits, businesses, civic organizing groups, and email experts, we ask you to reconsider your pay-to-send proposal and to keep the Internet free.

A pay-to-send system won't help the fight against spam - in fact, this plan assumes that spam will continue and that mass mailers will be willing to pay to have their emails bypass spam filters. And non-paying spammers will not reduce the amount of mail they throw at your filters simply because others pay to evade them.

Perversely, the new two-tiered system AOL proposes would actually reward AOL financially for failing to maintain its email service. The chief advantage of paying to send CertifiedEmail is that it can bypass AOL's spam filters. Non-paying customers are being asked to trust that after paid mail goes into effect, AOL will properly maintain its spam filters so only unwanted mail gets thrown away.






Race Games in Maryland

The NY Post tells us: a strategist hired by the Democratic National Committee who polled black Maryland voters has issued a stern warning to the party: "Steele's messaging to the African-American community has clearly had a positive effect - with many voters reciting his campaign slogans and his advertising.

"Democrats must be aggressive. Steele is a unique challenge. Democrats can not afford to wait until after the primary election to knock Steele down. A persuasion campaign should start as soon as possible to discredit Steele as a viable candidate for the community." (Emphasis in original.)

For "persuasion," read smear Steele before he gets any more traction.

Rather than remain focused on their own multi-candidate primary, Maryland Democrats want to turn Steele into a dirty word in the eyes of black voters.

What's fascinating in this news is how little attention this report has generated among white Democrats: Sarbanes, for one, hasn't said a word.

But Steele's been on the Democrats' radar screen for some time. Last fall, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee - Charles Schumer, proprietor - illegally obtained a copy of Steele's financial records. When it was found out, two low-level staffers had to resign (one pleaded guilty to computer fraud).

So it's not like Schumer's acolytes don't know how to play hardball.

Still, there are - or should be - certain lines in politics, and the Howard Dean-led DNC has crossed one of them. This sort of racially-motivated attack politics is outrageous and offensive.

Schumer may not be responsible for the DNC memo, but he needs to explicitly repudiate both it and the tactics it is encouraging.

And he needs to make clear that whoever carries his party's banner in the fall must reject a racialist campaign against a black man who just happens to be a Republican.

Statement by the President

Earlier today I spoke with Don Rumsfeld about ongoing military operations in the Global War on Terror. I reiterated my strong support for his leadership during this historic and challenging time for our Nation.

The Department of Defense has been tasked with many difficult missions. Upon assuming office, I asked Don to transform the largest department in our government. That kind of change is hard, but our Nation must have a military that is fully prepared to confront the dangerous threats of the 21st Century. Don and our military commanders have also been tasked to take the fight to the enemy abroad on multiple fronts.

I have seen first-hand how Don relies upon our military commanders in the field and at the Pentagon to make decisions about how best to complete these missions. Secretary Rumsfeld's energetic and steady leadership is exactly what is needed at this critical period. He has my full support and deepest appreciation.

GEORGE W. BUSH

OSU librarian slapped with "sexual harassment" charge for recommending conservative books for freshmen

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Officials at the Ohio State University are investigating an OSU Mansfield librarian for "sexual harassment" after he recommended four conservative books for a freshman reading program. ADF has demanded that OSU cease its frivolous investigation, yet the university is pressing forward, claiming that it takes the charges "seriously."

"Universities are one of the most hostile places for Christians and conservatives in America," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David French, who heads ADF's Center for Academic Freedom. "It is shameful that OSU would investigate a Christian librarian for simply recommending books that are at odds with the prevailing politics of the university."

Scott Savage, who serves as a reference librarian for the university, suggested four best-selling conservative books for freshman reading in his role as a member of OSU Mansfield's First Year Reading Experience Committee. The four books he suggested were The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian, The Professors by David Horowitz, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by Bat Ye'or, and It Takes a Family by Senator Rick Santorum. Savage made the recommendations after other committee members had suggested a series of books with a left-wing perspective, by authors such as Jimmy Carter and Maria Shriver.

Savage was put under "investigation" by OSU's Office of Human Resources after three professors filed a complaint of discrimination and harassment against him, saying that the book suggestions made them feel "unsafe." The complaint came after the OSU Mansfield faculty voted without dissent to file charges against Savage. The faculty later voted to allow the individual professors to file charges.

IRAN

Michael Ledeen says:

For those who think there is no chance for democratic revolution in Iran, consider this roundup of labor unrest, courtesy of Spiegel Online:

Angered by unpaid salaries and generally low wages, workers in the northern Iranian provincial capital Rasht blocked streets and protested in front of government offices a fortnight ago brandishing banners that read: "We are hungry!" It wasn't the first time that thousands of employees at the country's largest state-owned textile factory had laid down their tools. But this time they were joined by dam workers in the western province of Elam and employees of a pharmaceutical factory in Tehran. Recently, workers have also gone on strike against harsh work conditions and impending layoffs in mines and petrochemical plants across the country, with hundreds of coal miners from the northern province of Gilan protesting the fact that they have not been paid for 13 months. Workers were also on strike in the car factories of the Iran-Khodro company, already the site of a massive work stoppage on last year's Day of Social Welfare and Securities (July 16), when strikers demanded t he introduction of a minimum wage.


Faster, please.

PR Disasters for the Taliban

Strategy Page reports: It was a bad week for the Taliban. A Taliban rocket fired into Kabul landed in a school yard, killing seven children and wounding some twenty more. This is very bad for the Taliban, as during the 1990s, Kabul was largely destroyed by rockets and artillery fired into the city by Islamic militant militia. Thousands of civilians died, and the bombardment is still remembered bitterly, especially when the Taliban do the same dumb thing.

In southern Afghanistan, yet another suicide bomber was off the mark, leaving two British soldiers wounded.

The Taliban Spring Offensive, backed by lots of al Qaeda money (which is not as abundant as it used to be), and pitched as "decisive" is not going anywhere. Meanwhile, pro-Taliban tribesmen, and entire tribes, continue to make their peace with the government. By the end of the year, the Taliban are going to be much less an issue than the growing (and wealthier) drug gangs.

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

Slate says that

The New York Times leads with two new public calls for Rumsfeld's resignation by retired U.S. generals, bringing the total to six. Even more retired generals have anonymously expressed similar opinions in the past few days, according to the NYT. The Washington Post leads with reports of "vast sums of waste and misspent funds" in the $10 billion for housing aid allocated by the federal government after Katrina. The Los Angeles Times follows up again on its Afghanistan black-market disk drive scoop, now reporting that the disks detail U.S. intelligence showing that insurgents use bases in Pakistan. USA Today leads with national poll results it describes as "a leave-us-alone mood," based on negative attitudes toward global engagement, immigration, and free trade. The Wall Street Journal's top box says Iran won't heed U.N. urgings not to push ahead with its nuclear program.

The newest general is Charles H. Swannack, Jr., who led ground troops in Iraq until 2004. He is the second general who commanded troops in Iraq to "break ranks" with Rumsfeld, after John Batiste did so earlier this week. (Slate's Fred Kaplan reports that another public critic was in charge of training Iraqi troops.) No active-duty officers, however, have spoken publicly—and the NYT is frustratingly vague on whether current officers have explicitly expressed new criticisms to the paper, writing only that "some say privately they disagree." The WP reports inside that Bush believes Rumsfeld "is doing a very fine job," according to the president's press secretary, who also quoted the country's current top general in praise of Rumsfeld.

The papers front or reefer Moussaoui's latest testimony. His "only regret was that more Americans didn't die." The LAT and NYT report that "shoe bomber" Richard Reid will be called to testify by the defense to argue that Moussaoui did not have a key role in the 9/11 plot. Moussaoui says he did play a key role but believes that he will be pardoned by President Bush for use in a future prisoner exchange with anti-U.S. fighters in Iraq.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Comedy Central did censor "South Park"

WaPo has the story. Ed Morrissey says the solution is "Go HBO."

Parker and Stone were angered when told by Comedy Central several weeks ago that they could not run an image of Muhammad, according to a person close to the show who didn't want to be identified because of the issue's sensitivity.

The network's decision was made over concerns for public safety, the person said.

Comedy Central said in a statement issued Thursday: "In light of recent world events, we feel we made the right decision." Its executives would not comment further.

Capitalism: The Movie

Clive Crook writes in "The Atlantic" [$] about why Americans don't value markets enough—and why that matters:

....Capitalism is not much loved, even in the parts of the world it has served best. If only one country were to dote on free enterprise, America surely ought to be it. With world-beating companies, breast-beating CEOs, a timid political Left, dwindling and unpopular labor unions, and extreme prosperity (by international standards), one might expect the prevailing climate of opinion to be ardently pro-capitalist. But no. American enterprise has its spokesmen, brasher than most, just as it has its critics, as fierce as any. In the main, however, when intelligent Americans with no axes to grind contemplate the market economy, they are neither angry nor adoring, just wary and distrustful. It was ever thus.

Seen a movie lately? Watched television or read a newspaper? The culture that speaks to Americans, and hence to the Western world, radiates suspicion of free enterprise—cordial and restrained, as a rule, but dubious nonetheless. Yes, the system does work, says this culture, and there appears to be no alternative. But what a shame this is, it continues, because capitalism rewards our worst and most selfish instincts. "Greed is good" may stock the shelves, but is somewhat less than inspiring.

The point is not that such movies, or the culture more generally, argue that capitalism is evil. Just the opposite: it is that they so often merely assume, innocently and expecting to arouse no skepticism, that capitalism is evil....

It is difficult to see where any heightened appreciation of the market system is going to come from. Economists, presumably, ought to be supplying it. Unfortunately, in most cases, communicating a sense of wonder is not among their gifts. In some ways, teachers of economics are probably making matters worse. As practiced in universities, economics continues to turn inward, with ever more emphasis on math, quantitative methods, and narrow specialization. You can make a case for that, but it silences the discipline on the thing that matters most.


Crook has another essay in the May Atlantic on immigration.

On the face of it, America's welfare system is harsher and less hospitable than Europe's, something that many liberals lament. But in this respect, at least, that appearance is misleading. The unintended consequences of Europe's milder regime are not just a looming fiscal collapse but also, in the meantime, intensifying and plainly self-destructive anti-immigration sentiment. America's harsher insistence on work is not just economically advantageous (which is self-evident) but socially beneficial as well (which some may find surprising). Jobs alone are not enough to ensure successful assimilation of immigrants, but jobs are a necessary condition. By insisting that immigrants work, the host country attacks the incumbents' intellectual and emotional resistance to immigration. The work requirement increases the dispersed economic benefits; it reduces or eliminates the net fiscal burdens; and it lowers cultural barriers. As a result, tempers cool. In these key respects, America's more brutal model is kinder -- in addition to bring more sustainable.

Most people don't want to believe they mean it.

Moussaoui: 'No Regret, No Remorse'

Reasserting his role in Sept. 11, al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui told jurors Thursday he has "no regret, no remorse," was disgusted by the heart-rending testimony of victims and relatives and only wished they had suffered more.

He said hearing a Navy officer sobbing in court made his day.

"So you would be happy to see 9/11 again?" Prosecutor Rob Spencer asked.

"Every day until we get you," the bearded 37-year-old Frenchman shot back.

For 2 1/2 hours, Moussaoui argued with defense lawyer Gerald Zerkin and Spencer about when he had been telling the truth over the last four years and whether he was sane.

In the process, he revealed why he implicated himself in 9/11 after four years of denials, how he would have defended himself, his reasons for hating America and his dream of being freed by President Bush in a prisoner exchange for captured American troops.

Among his most startling statements, Moussaoui said Army Lt. Col. John Thurman's harrowing account of escaping the burning Pentagon left him with "regret that he didn't die."

He mocked a Navy officer who wept as she described the death of two subordinates in the attack on the Pentagon.

"I think it was disgusting for a military person" to cry, Moussaoui said of Lt. Nancy McKeown. "She is military. She should expect people at war with her to want to kill her."

Asked if he was happy to hear her sobbing, he said, "Make my day."

He noted many relatives of victims wept on the witness stand, then walked past him in the courtroom and looked his way without crying. "I find it disgusting that people come here to share their grief over the death of some other person," he said.

"I'm glad there was pain, and I wish there will be more pain," Moussaoui said. "The children in Palestine and in Chechnya will have pain. I want you to share their pain."

From "Stimulus Progression" to "Audio Branding" in 60 Years: A Short History of Contemporary Capitalism

THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR LIFE
New Yorker
Muzak in the realm of retail theatre.

What's New in Firefox 1.5.0.2

Firefox 1.5.0.2 provides native support for Macintosh with Intel Core processors, and stability and security enhancements that are part of our ongoing program to provide a safer Internet experience for our users. We recommend that all Firefox users upgrade to this latest version.

Here's what's new in Firefox 1.5.0.2:

* Universal Binary support for Mac OS X which provides native support for Macintosh with Intel Core processors. Firefox supports the enhancements to performance introduced by the new MacIntel chipsets.
* Improvements to product stability.
* Several security fixes.

Bush Blames Democrat for Immigration Impasse

NYT— President Bush lashed out today at the Senate's Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, accusing him of using gimmickry to stall an immigration bill that millions of Americans want enacted.

"I was encouraged last week when members of the United States Senate reached a promising bipartisan compromise on comprehensive immigration reform," Mr. Bush said at a gathering of small-business leaders here. "That was a hopeful sign."

"Unfortunately, the compromise was blocked by the Senate Democratic minority leader," the president went on. "He refused to allow senators to move forward and vote for amendments to the bill.

"It was a procedural gimmick that meant he was single-handedly thwarting the will of the American people and impeding bipartisan efforts to secure this border and make this immigration system of ours more humane and rational."

The Neighbors Are Nervous, and Suddenly Helpful

Strategy Page tells us:

The rising threat of a sectarian civil war appears to be helping to avert one. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and some other nations bordering Iraq are increasing measures to curb extremist support in Iraq, and are curbing assistance to groups responsible for actions that are feeding sectarian tensions. Apparently leaders in these countries have decided that an Iraqi civil war along sectarian lines will inevitably spill over onto their soil, as large numbers of refugees flee the fighting, while their own citizens become radicalized in support of co-religionists in Iraq, both events possibly fueling internal disorders. There are a lot of Shia Arabs in places like Saudi Arabia, Syria and Kuwait. Most of these Shia Arabs live near the Saudi and Kuwaiti oil fields. It has always been, at least since the oil was discovered, the policy of both nations, to keep their Shia happy, or at least quiet.



Meanwhile, Iraq is also serving as an experiment on how to create an Arab economy that will flourish. Since World War II, the Arab world has lagged the rest of the planet in economic growth. For example, 300 million Arabs, and all that oil, generate less economic activity than Spain, and its population of 40 million. The main problem has been bad government. Too many dictators, and too much government restrictions on the economy. Too much corruption and waste. Even higher oil prices don't help, as it simply provides more money to be wasted on consumption, rather than business investment.



One of the things that has been changed in Iraq is the way the economy is regulated. Since Saddam was tossed out in 2003, the economy has been governed by Western rules. As a result, GDP per capita doubled by the end of 2005, and the GDP is expected to grow another 49 percent by 2008. All this despite continued attacks by Sunni Arab rebels on oil facilities and other economic targets. It's much easier to start a business in Iraq now, even though there's still a lot of corruption. The big change is that now the corruption is illegal, and there is even progress in prosecuting the government officials who take bribes or try to shake down businessmen. Lebanon is the only other Arab state to run its economy in a Western fashion, and they have thrived. However, Lebanon also interrupted their success story with a fifteen year (1975-90) civil war. Iraqis are well aware of that, and have no illusions about what happens if everyone does not get along. Another thing haunting Iraqis is the most successful economy in the region; Israel. This is also the country most like the economically successful Western states. Iraqis can't really talk about it openly, but the "Israeli Model" is discussed. A real democracy, peace at home, a flourishing economy, a powerful military, and nuclear weapons. Well, no one said it was a perfect model for Iraq.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

It's "spring break" and not much is going on. I can tell it's spring break because the Hotel pool outside my lanai is full of frolicking teenagers, and the band plays every evening.

Slate says:

The Washington Post leads with the release of the long-awaited federal government guidelines for rebuilding New Orleans and a $2.5 billion plan for levee reconstruction. Under the plans, 98 percent of the population in the New Orleans area would be able to return to their homes. The top non-local New York Times story is the Zacarias Moussaoui trial and the first public playing of the cockpit recording of United Flight 93. That story also led the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox, and was fronted by USA Today. The Los Angeles Times leads, at least online, with a follow-up to its amazing stories of flash memory drives with highly sensitive US military data being sold in bazaars in Afghanistan.USA

USA Today leads with tFBI'sI's caseload of white collar and drug crimes dropping dramaticallyts the bureau may be padding its numbers by labeling immigration violations as terrorism.

The post-Katrina New Orleans plan would require most homeowners to raise the levels of their houses to three feet above the ground – a curious FBI'se, given that the water was so much higher than that in so much of the city. One expert calls the three-foot requirement "wacky." Less wacky is the cost of raising a house that much – about $60,000, according to USA Today. The NYT emphasizes the relative lenience of the rebuilding guidelines, given many residents' worries that parts of the city would be abandoned. The WP focuses instead on the possibility that Louisiana may have to pay as much as $900 million of the levee reconstruction costs.

We see this over and over, but the Pols never do

The WSJ tells us[$]:

Going Postal

"Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Hurricane Katrina was another story.

A week ago Monday the Times-Picayune reported that the U.S. Postal Service's New Orleans processing and distribution center would reopen the following day -- more than seven months after Katrina hit. The paper called it "a move postal officials say will all but eliminate maddening post-Katrina delivery times of a week or longer for letters mailed just across town." Not that things are completely back to normal. New Orleanians still don't receive magazines, "although that is expected within weeks."

Postal Service competitors fared better. Spokesmen for DHL, FedEx and United Parcel Service tell us that all three companies restored service in New Orleans on September 19, just three weeks after Katrina hit.

All three companies also joined in the relief efforts. DHL ferried international aid to Louisiana from Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. UPS drivers "from as far away as Vermont hauled loads of donated supplies to FEMA sites in Mississippi and Louisiana -- on their own time," according to a corporate history. And FedEx, a spokesman says, "transported more than 1,000 tons of relief supplies to areas affected by hurricanes in 2005."

In Katrina's aftermath we've heard a lot about government "incompetence," mostly from people who have a bone to pick with the Bush Administration. But it seems likely that the private delivery companies would have outshone the Postal Service regardless of who was in the White House. Some things the private sector simply does better.

Globalizing Good Government

The New York Times had a great op-ed Monday. Richard W. Fisher and W. Michael Cox are, respectively, the president and the chief economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Thomas Barnett says, Basic gist: It uses the Foreign Policy measurements of globalization connectivity to compare and contrast the least and most globalized societies and … no surprise, the most globalized have the best anticorruption policies, the most open capital markets, the best regulatory quality, the most favorable corporate taxes, the most limited government scope, the lowest individual tax rates, the most innovative policies, the most political stability, the most flexible labor markets, the best rule of law and the lowest average inflation.


THE protests in France over job security for young workers have exposed the fault lines between globalization and public policy. On the one hand, the French government has recognized that the country's labor laws are uncompetitive and a drain on the economy. The public reaction, however, shows the depth of popular misunderstanding regarding the realities of our globalizing economy.

Nations can no longer sit within their borders and pursue policies incompatible with an increasingly integrated world economy. The types of services, manufacturing and entrepreneurship that generate national wealth are more mobile than ever, and they will forsake countries that shackle business and labor with unnecessary burdens.

With this in mind, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas set out to document the connection between globalization and public policy. We found that the more globalized nations tend to pursue policies that achieve faster economic growth, lower inflation, higher incomes and greater economic freedom. The least globalized countries are prone to policies that interfere with markets and lead to stagnation, inflation and diminished competitiveness.

For our study, we began with research by Foreign Policy magazine and AT Kearney, a management consultancy firm, which ranked 60 countries by degree of globalization. Singapore, Ireland, the United States and other countries at the top of the rankings are far more integrated into the world economy than the insulated nations at the bottom like Iran, Egypt and Bangladesh. As the accompanying charts show, we divided the countries into four groups and looked at how each faction performed on policies that shape economic performance.

Take inflation. In a world where investment capital can flit anywhere in the world with the click of a computer mouse, nations should see the virtue of price stability and preserving the value of money. And they do: the more globalized countries we studied had an average inflation rate of 2.3 percent from 2001 to 2003, compared with 10 percent for the nations in the least globalized quarter.

This pattern is repeated in more than a dozen aspects of effective public policy, as measured by the World Bank, Harvard University, the Heritage Foundation, Transparency International and the Fraser Institute, a Canadian public policy group. (Although these groups used various ranking systems to portray their data, we took the liberty of converting each to a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 being the most successful, for the accompanying graphs.)

The gist is clear: as nations become more integrated into the world economy, they tend to maintain fewer barriers to trade and the movement of money. They are less likely to impose punishing corporate taxes and onerous regulations. Their technology policies are more favorable to innovation. Nations more open to the world economy score above the less globalized countries in respect for the rule of law and protection of property rights. More globalized countries also offer greater political stability.

Not all policies fit neatly into this framework. We found that more globalized counties do no better in limiting the size of government, which we consider vital to economic prosperity. They are worse than the less globalized in containing public entitlements and subsidies, which must be paid for by higher individual income taxes. Perhaps it is because they are richer and have the means to spread those riches through their societies.

The French contretemps illustrates why labor policies are less sensitive to globalization than factors like taxation and trade barriers. As long as workers refuse to acknowledge that they are competing in a world economy, they will petition a wealthy government to protect their jobs. This in turn slows job growth and raises unemployment, creating a greater demand for expensive and expansive safety nets for idle workers.

Still, globalization may yet alter labor policies. France, Germany and other countries are beginning to recognize that their labor rules are uncompetitive, and the timing of change is a political question, not an economic one.

So, do our statistics show that globalization is necessarily the cause of good policies? That would be overstating it — our data simply show the two trends are complementary. But it is clear that countries with solid policies will be more successful in the global economy, encouraging further openness and deeper cross-border connections. The chicken-and-egg debate shouldn't detract from the fundamental fact that globalization and good policies go together.

Globalization's critics argue that a more open world economy sets off a race to the bottom by encouraging countries to jettison protections for consumers, workers and the environment. In reality, the opposite is true. If our data demonstrate anything, it is that globalization prompts a race to the top by pushing countries to abandon policies that burden their economies in favor of those that fuel growth and economic opportunity.

Arms Control Wonk has this. You will notice that Armitage ignores the reason we don't want bi-lateral with NK. They welshed on the last deal.


Chris Nelson included this interview with Richard Armitage from The Oriental Economist in a report last week.

Read the whole thing, but here’s one of the more interesting portions:

TOE:Would you clarify a controversial episode regarding North
Korea policy? Early on, you testified to Congress that the
Bush administration would eventually hold bilateral talks
with North Korea. President Bush was said to be very angry
with you. Is that true?

RA:Some people in the administration were very angry. But
members of Congress were very happy. All of our allies in
Asia were delighted. And, what I said eventually became our
policy. But it is true that after I initially made my comments, I
knew that some people in some quarters of the administration
were very unhappy.

TOE:So, what is the relationship between the Six-Party Talks and
the bilateral talks with North Korea?

RA:I was very clear in that testimony that, in the context of
the Six-Party Talks, of course we would have bilateral talks
with the North Koreans. And that is exactly what has
happened. We’ve had bilateral talks with the North.
It took a while. Some people in the administration are
frightened that diplomacy is a signal of weakness. I disagreed.
I was convinced that if we knew who we are, and we know
what we are and what we are about, we can make diplomacy
work for us. In the end, diplomacy is the art of letting the other
guy have our way.

TOE:Will the Six-Party Talks work?

RA:They are a good exercise. We have five of the six parties
of a common mind, that North Korea should not have nuclear
weapons. That’s a good starting point. It provides a good
reason for us to get together a talk. I think the process is very
worthwhile. Having said that, it is not going very far, very
fast. The same splits that existed in the Bush administration
when I was in office still exist.

I give my highest compliments to Chris Hill, the State
Department’s new Asia chief. He is doing a tremendous job.
But he has the same problems that we faced when Jim Kelly
and I were there.

TOE:What problems did you face?

RA:There is a fundamental disagreement over how to
approach the North Korea problem. There is a fear in some
quarters, particularly the Pentagon and at times in the vice
president’s office, that if we were to engage in discussions
with the North Koreans, we might wind up with the bad end of
the deal. They believe that we should be able to pronounce our
view, and everyone else, including the North Koreans, should
simply accept it. This is not a reasonable approach.

Those of us at the State Department concluded: From the
North Korean point of view, the nuclear issue is the only
reason we Americans talk with them. Therefore, the North
Koreans would be very reluctant to let go of the nuclear
program. We knew it was going to be a very difficult process.
But you have to start somewhere. You start by finding out
what their needs and desires are, and seeing if there is a way of
meeting those needs and desires without giving away
something this [sic] is sacred to us.

Don't believe the Iranians

The NYT starts what will be the DNC position on Iran.

Analysts Say a Nuclear Iran Is Years Away

Western nuclear analysts said yesterday that Tehran lacked the skills, materials and equipment to make good on its immediate nuclear ambitions, even as a senior Iranian official said Iran would defy international pressure and rapidly expand its ability to enrich uranium for fuel."

Excellent comment from David Frum Today

".........And here, finally, a thought about Mexico and the origins of this mass migration. Some readers have wondered why NAFTA did not (as promised) help curb Mexican migration to the US. I have often wondered that myself. Part of the answer may lie in Mexico's bad timing: It opened itself to US investment in 1994, at precisely the moment that China's even lower-wage workforce was joining the world marketplace. Had Mexico started its reform process in 1984, things might have had a different result.

Mexico's refusal to open its energy industry to foreign investment has also hindered the country's growth: One of its most powerful potential engines of transformation has been sputtering wastefully.

Some economists argue that Mexico's inherent weaknesses were always so great that NAFTA's potential for good was bound to be limited from the start.

Others argue that NAFTA itself created the "immigration hump": the point to NAFTA was to push the Mexican economy to greater efficiency through free trade. Free trade prods economies to concentrate where they have a comparative advantage - and to shift labor and other resources away from sectors where they less advantageously deployed. The hope was that these displaced workers would find employment instead in growing sectors of the Mexican economy - but because that economy has performed so poorly overall since 1994, growth has not been sufficient to absorb all the displaced labor, inducing some workers to move northward.

Whatever the cause, it is apparent by now that migration has become a crutch for the Mexican state, allowing it to avoid the politically difficult actions necessary to accelerate Mexican economic growth: open the energy sector, eliminate antique labor restrictions, create financial institutions accessible to all so as to promote small-business creation. All of these steps involve discomfort for powerful local constituencies. Mexico has chosen to export its problems instead.

This background may also illuminate the origins of President Bush's ill-considered migration proposals. Basically he proposes that the US accommodate Mexico indefinitely. This idea overlooks a lot of practical realities, including the practical realities of politics. But it's not too late for at least House Republicans to send a clear message that they remain the party of American nationhood - and by taking a clear even if not immediately successful stand, to remind voters why the GOP continues to deserve majority status in the House of Representatives."

We Are Not Going to Nuke Iran

I have just found a very good blog called 'Arms Control Wonk." His latest is a detailed discussion of what it would take to wipe out Iran's Nuclear facility and why.
Excerpt:

One enormous weakness of Natanz is that it lacks the best defense any HDBT can have: concealment. Concealment includes both hiding the location and layout of the strcuture and inhibiting battle damage assessment to know when enough is enough. In the case of Saddam’s bunker, one defensive mechanism appeared to be “false floors” that caused GBU-28s to detonate prematurely.

Collapsing the roof, by the way, is not the option. Given the overhead imagery available, the US IC should have a very sophisticated understanding of the facility and its links to the outside world. The United States could choose to entomb the structure by collapsing entrances, ventillation systems and cutting the water and power. Centrifuge facilities like to be clean and temperature controlled, so entombing the facility would do quite a bit of damage. Anyone inside the entombed facility, slowly suffocating in the dark, would probably be praying for the roof to cave in.

If the President was feeling particularly plucky that day, he could use special forces teams to breach the facility, though I think serving as spotters is probably the most likely role.

All of this is to say that I would be surprised if a nuclear weapon were our only option in cracking this facility.

These two-faced Bas*******

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince calls terrorism a "disease"

Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who is also deputy prime minister and defence minister, said terrorist acts are contrary to the teachings of Islam.

Saudi Arabia "has emphasized its strong rejection and condemnation of all forms of terrorism," he said at a lecture in Singapore organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

"Terrorist actions are contradictory to the teachings and value of Islam," he told diplomats, government officials, academics and business executives.

"The kingdom has strongly expressed its determination to continue to exert all possible efforts in combating terrorism and whoever helps in financing or inciting terrorism.

But then they promote this crap

• Various Saudi government publications gathered for this study, most of which are in Arabic, assert that it is a religious obligation for Muslims to hate Christians and Jews and warn against imitating, befriending, or helping them in any way, or taking part in their festivities and celebrations;

• The documents promote contempt for the United States because it is ruled by legislated civil law rather than by totalitarian Wahhabi-style Islamic law. They condemn democracy as un-Islamic;

• The documents stress that when Muslims are in the lands of the unbelievers, they must behave as if on a mission behind enemy lines. Either they are there to acquire new knowledge and make money to be later employed in the jihad against the infidels, or they are there to proselytize the infidels until at least some convert to Islam. Any other reason for lingering among the unbelievers in their lands is illegitimate, and unless a Muslim leaves as quickly as possible, he or she is not a true Muslim and so too must be condemned. For example, a document in the collection for the “Immigrant Muslim” bears the words “Greetings from the Cultural Attache in Washington, D.C.” of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and is published by the government of Saudi Arabia. In an authoritative religious voice, it gives detailed instructions on how to “hate” the Christian and Jew: Never greet them first. Never congratulate the infidel on his holiday. Never imitate the infidel. Do not become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Do not wear a graduation gown because this imitates the infidel;

Oh, Great

Migrants rush to Arizona border anticipating passage of guest-worker plan
OLGA RODRIGUEZ - MacCleans

NOGALES, Mexico (AP) - At a shelter overflowing with migrants airing their blistered feet, Francisco Ramirez nursed muscles sore from trekking through the Arizona desert - a trip that failed when his wife did not have the strength to go on.

He said the couple would rest for a few days, then try again, a plan echoed by dozens reclining on rickety bunk beds and carpets tossed on the floor after risking violent bandits and the harsh desert in unsuccessful attempts to get into the United States.

The shelter's manager, Francisco Loureiro, said he has not seen such a rush of migrants since 1986, when the United States allowed 2.6 million illegal residents to get American citizenship.

This time, the draw is a bill before the U.S. Senate that could legalize some of the 11 million people now illegally in the United States while tightening border security. Migrants are hurrying to cross over in time to qualify for a possible guest-worker program - and before the journey becomes even harder.

"Every time there is talk in the north of legalizing migrants, people get their hopes up, but they don't realize how hard it will be to cross," Loureiro said

This is the story that Ed Morrisey jumped on

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday angrily denied a newspaper report that suggested President George W. Bush in 2003 declared the existence of biological weapons laboratories in Iraq while knowing it was not true. [...]

White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the account "reckless reporting" and said Bush made his statement based on the intelligence assessment of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), an arm of the Pentagon.

Bush cited the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction as the prime justification for invading Iraq. No such weapons were found.

A U.S. intelligence official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, confirmed the existence of the field report cited by the Post, but said it was a preliminary finding that had to be evaluated.

"You don't change a report that has been coordinated in the (intelligence) community based on a field report," the official said. "It's a preliminary report. No matter how strongly the individual may feel about the subject matter."

McClellan said the Post story was "nothing more than rehashing an old issue that was resolved long ago," pointing out that an independent commission on Iraq had already determined the intelligence on alleged Iraqi biological weapons was wrong.

When an ABC reporter pressed McClellan on the subject at his morning briefing, McClellan upbraided the network for picking up on the report.

"This is reckless reporting and for you all to go on the air this morning and make such a charge is irresponsible, and I hope that ABC would apologize for it and make a correction on the air," he said."

Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Apr. 12 – Iran's radical President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a fiery sermon demanded that "Iran's enemies", or the West, bow down before Iran and apologize for having held back Tehran's nuclear program for three years. He also warned the West that it would "burn" in the "fire of the nations' fury".

"Those who insulted the Iranian nation and set back Iran's movement for progress for several years must apologise", Ahmadinejad said at a rally in the eastern town of Rashtkhar. His comments were aired on state television and carried by the official news agency.

"You must bow down to the greatness of the Iranian nation", he said, addressing the West.

He added that if the United States continued to seek to use "bullying" tactics then "every nation of the world" would chant "Death to America" and "Death to Israel".

"If you do not return to monotheism and worshipping god and refuse to accept justice then you will burn in the fire of the nations' fury", Ahmadinejad said.

He once again accused the West of launching a "psychological war" against Iran.

On Tuesday, Ahmadinejad declared that Iran had joined the Nuclear Club.

"I officially announce that Iran has joined the world's nuclear countries", Ahmadinejad said in a speech that was broadcast on state television.

The UN Security Council adopted a "Presidential Statement" unanimously on March 29 giving Iran 30 days to suspend all of its uranium enrichment activities and resume its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Kurdish Disaster in Eastern Turkey

Michael Totten tells us that:
"From a distance it appears that the biggest problem in the Middle East is Islamism. That's probably because Islamism is the worst of the Middle East's exported problems. Up close, though, the biggest source of conflict seems to be ethnic nationalism. The crackup of the Ottoman Empire has still not settled down into anything stable. Arab nationalism, Turkish nationalism, Kurdish nationalism, and Zionism everywhere create bloody borders and internal repression. And that's just for starters. Lebanese went at other Lebanese for fifteen long years. Arab Sunni and Arab Shia are slugging it out in Iraq right now as you read this. Read it all

Google makes 12 cents every time you search

BBC Says; "That may not sound like much but it all adds up when you realise that Americans alone did more than 2.7 billion searches via Google in January 2006, according to figures gathered by Nielsen/NetRatings.

The analyst firm estimates that 48% of the 5.7 billion searches carried out by Americans in January were done via Google.

It also said that 39% more searches were done in January 2006 than in the same month in 2005. But, said the firm, this was not because search engines were doing a bad job.

"Web users are conducting more searches not because they can't find what they're looking for," said Ken Cassar of Nielsen/NetRatings, "but because search as a utility has become deeply ingrained into people's everyday lives.

Learning from Failure

Craig J. Richardson writes,
[Hat Tip - Econlog]

But while many problems cited by the IMF and others are important, they do not provide a full explanation for how a country can lose fifty years of economic progress in only five years. In fact, Zimbabwe's collapse can be traced to a single policy: its fast track land reform program, under which the Mugabe government, beginning in 2000, seized thousands of white-owned commercial farms, leading to a sharp drop in agricultural output. The other "inappropriate" policies adopted by the Mugabe government exacerbated the damage, but they were not the underlying cause. ...As Christopher Dell, U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, has noted, "Nothing rattles investor confidence more than the prospect of expropriation. The [February 2000] constitutional amendment striking down the right to redress for victims of land expropriation sent a shockwave through the community of investors who keep an eye on the climate in Zimbabwe." Between 1998 and 2001, foreign direct investment dropped by 99 percent. In addition, the World Bank risk premium on investment in Zimbabwe jumped from 3.4 percent in 2000 to 153.2 percent by 2004.

THINKING GLOBAL

Fred Kempe, at the WSJ says:

The Bush administration has quietly opened what senior officials consider a third front in a global campaign against Islamist extremism, this one aimed at the rising threat from Europe.

The first post-Sept. 11 front was al Qaeda terrorists themselves and their supporters, prompting a war in Afghanistan and a host of international counterterrorist actions. Next came efforts to get at terrorist roots by promoting democratic change across the broader Middle East.

Senior Bush administration officials, following terrorist attacks in Madrid and London and galvanized by Muslim mass protests over Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed, have concluded that Europe's alienated Muslim minorities not only endanger Europe's social cohesion but pose an increasing American security threat. Short term, these officials worry that a potential terrorist bearing a European passport may travel visa-free to the U.S. and slip through post-2001 controls. Longer term, they fear that growing, radicalized communities within allied European states could form ever-larger support groups, recruiting grounds and launching pads for extremism.

Wetchard, at Belmont Club, points out the problem with doing this:

If developing "norms that challenge and expose extremist thought" are a prerequisite to challenging Islamic extremism then the road will be long and hard. Intellectual challenges to radical Islamism have largely been the effort of outcast intellectuals like Oriana Fallaci, Bat Y'eor, Hirsi Ali and others like them. They live in a shadow world, "scorned by the academic establishment for their politically incorrect views", as Bruce Bawer puts it; and literally on the run. Fallaci in fact, has been ordered to stand trial for "defaming Islam" in her native Italy. Hirsi Ali leads a precarious existence under round-the-clock protection from the Dutch government. On the other hand, as Bawer also notes, European intellectuals like Timothy Garton Ash who argue for submission, who say that "for this increasingly Muslim Europe to define itself against Islam would be ridiculous and suicidal" are free to move, speak and publish. Ash is a professor at "Oxford, where he directs the European Studies Centre, and is a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution. He is considered a world-class expert on Europe and its future, and he refers frequently in his book to his participation in glamorous-sounding international conferences on weighty topics. In short, he is at the heart of the European academic elite". Islam's intellectual challengers live a fugitive existence while its defenders move in a celebrity world. If challenging Islamic extremism intellectually is a necessity then the enterprise has gotten off to a bad start.

In fact, there nothing remotely approaching a consensus in Western politics on the need to fight totalitarian Islamism physically or intellectually. Even in America Iraq has become the "unnecessary war"; Guantanamo Bay the unnecessary prison. Wiretapping Al-Qaeda, worrying about the Iranian nuclear weapons program, even building a border fence are all unnecessary acts. And they are superfluous precisely because the notion of opposing radical Islamism is itself an unnecessary idea, inexpressible even as a cartoon. The problem with opening a Third Front in Europe is that the cart may have come before the horse. The truth may set you free, but first you must have truth.

"In the cockpit! If we don't, we die!"

Exaggerating Dire 'Scientific' Warnings

John Stossel says:

If you're a scientist working for private industry, it helps to invent something useful. But if you're a scientist trying to get funding from the government, you're better off telling the world how horrible things are.

And once people are scared, they pay attention. They may even demand the government give you more money to solve the problem.

Usually the horrible disaster never happens. Chaos from Y2K. An epidemic of deaths from SARS or mad cow disease. Cancer from Three Mile Island. We quickly forget. We move on to the next warnings.

This is the story of a looming disaster that never became an actual disaster -- because the science that led to the terror was never sound science at all.

In the late '80s and early '90s, the media used a few small studies of babies born of cocaine-addicted mothers to convince America that thousands of children were permanently damaged. Dr. Ira Chasnoff, of the National Association for Perinatal Addiction Research and Education, after studying only 23 babies, reported that mothers were delivering babies who "could not respond to them emotionally." He told People magazine the infants "couldn't respond to a human voice." This led to a frenzy of stories on "crack babies." Many people still believe "crack babies" are handicapped for life.

It isn't true. It turns out there is no proof that crack babies do worse than anyone else. In fact, they do better, on average, than children born of alcoholic mothers.

Nevertheless, Rolling Stone told us these children were "like no others." They were "automatons," "oblivious to affection," and "the damage doesn't go away." Education magazines warned that soon these children would reach the schools, which would be unable to control them.

It was terrifying news -- thousands of children likely to grow up wild and dangerous.

It wasn't until several years later that the myth started to unravel. Emory University psychologist Claire Coles had her graduate students spend hours observing "crack babies" and normal babies. Her students did not see what Chasnoff had seen. In fact, they couldn't tell which children had been exposed to cocaine.

Coles told me, "They couldn't really tell whether they were looking at the effects of cocaine or the effects of alcohol or the effects of poverty, and everybody ignored that. They just said, 'This is cocaine.'"

How could that happen? "Well," Coles said," they wanted to get published." It is easier to get your work published, and, more importantly, funded by the taxpayers, if you find something dramatic.

Coles said, "If you go to an agency and say, 'I don't think there's a big problem here, I'd like you to give me $1 million,' the probability for getting the money is very low."

It's also easier to get funded if what you conclude feeds someone's political agenda. The idea of crack babies was perfect. It met the needs of liberals and conservatives. Conservatives wanted to demonize cocaine users. Liberals wanted more money for social programs.

When Dr. Coles dared suggest that crack babies were not permanently damaged, she was attacked by politicians, called incompetent, accused of making data up or advocating drug abuse. Dr. Chasnoff, who helped start the scare, did not receive similar criticism. After his scare was shown to have been exaggerated, he denied that he had pushed any agenda: "Neither I nor any of my colleagues were ever pushing junk science. Is everything we thought then -- do we know that every bit of that is correct now? Well, obviously, the answer is no. But that's the process of science."

He said People and Rolling Stone exaggerated the implications of his research -- took him "out of context." Perhaps. Journalists hype risks constantly. But Chasnoff didn't ask the magazines to correct or clarify their reports. So people continued expecting the crack babies -- the real human beings who had to grow up with that label -- to be walking disasters.

Next time you hear dire "scientific" warnings -- and demands to surrender more control over your life to the government in order to avert disaster -- remember the crack babies. The only disaster coming may be an activist-induced panic.

Think about that when you hear dire predictions about global warning or avian flu.

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