Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bush's Pakistan summit

President Bush is heading to Pakistan this week, which is amazing when you consider he'll be in the same neighborhood as Bin Laden. Ahmad Rashid (no, not the football announcer), writing for the WaPo chronicles the breakdown of the Pashtun regions of Pakistan and how that's allowed an even larger friendly zone for Bin Laden and company to roam around in while hating America and Danish cartoons.

Mr. Rashid is perhaps less enthusiastic about the Taliban:
Meanwhile down south, the Balochistan provincial government is controlled by a coalition of pro-Taliban fundamentalist parties, which came to power in elections in 2002. Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islami, the party that controls the key ministries, openly supports the Taliban.
There's that pesky Baluchistan again (or Balochistan, whichever you please), now world famous as the boyhood homes of Ramzi Yousef and KSM. Yousef also had a wife and kids in Quetta. The bonus question is: which branch of Islam do these folks subscribe to? The answer--yep, it's Sunni. That seems to put them at odds with Iran, doesn't it?

But, the fact Bush is heading to Pakistan so close after Hamid Karzai's visit there should tell us the fate of Afghanistan is far from decided. The Soviets set up a government there, too, which eventually failed due to pressure from Taliban/AQ like insurgents. The big difference is WE helped them, and this time they don't have a super power behind them. That we know of, at least.

Bush will try to accentuate the positive as always, as he did Tuesday in his interview with ABC's Elizabeth Vargas:
VARGAS: Do you think he's doing enough, the Pakistanis are doing enough to find bin Laden, since everybody believes bin Laden is in Pakistan?

BUSH: We're looking and we've had some success against some of his lieutenants and allies. The war against terror requires constant pressure, the sharing of intelligence, the capacity to find these people lurking in remote regions of the world. And, you know, Western Pakistan is pretty remote. But I'll be talking to President Musharraf about the need to work together to find these killers.
He made a stopover at Bagram AFB today for a pep talk before heading to the summit. He'll need more than a pep talk with Musharraf. Bush needs to make it clear the American people are losing patience with Pakistan's foot dragging about the tribal regions, which amounts to harboring terrorists. After all, harboring terrorists accounted for part of the reason we took out Saddam, and it certainly was a seminal part of the "with us or with the terrorists" speech.


Apparently Musharraf is capable of "rounding up the usual suspects" too, or in his case just shooting them. Anything to do with Bush's visit? Nah.

Bush needs to sit hard on this guy. If he can fireblast some AQs before a state visit, surely he can do it when the state's not visiting, too.


CNN is splashing Bush's "historic agreement" with India pertaining to nuclear technology, peaceful only, of course. There's no doubt that the real meat of this deal is behind the scenes. It's also likely Bush's trip is a lot more mportant than we're being led to believe.

Since we have occasional visitors to this blog from India I'd be very interested in their opinions of this development, should they wish to share. Here's mine, for what it's worth:

Bush must realize the precarious situation in Pakistan. I came down a little too hard on Musharraf for not rousting AQ from the tribal frontiers, perhaps he simply cannot. If Pervez is removed Pakistan will likely fall into fundamentalist hands, giving AQ their coveted nuclear program. Bush is simply choosing sides here and setting up a deterrent. Thing is, unless this is all pre-arranged, wonder how he's going to explain this move to Musharraf? I'd certainly like to be a fly on the wall in his meetings in Islamabad.

Storm the White House day?

World Net Daily is breathlessly reporting an event being advertised for March called, "Storm the White House". The 'peace group' organizing the event, one "United for Peace and Justice", says some pretty inflammatory stuff:
The World Criminal Courts need to incarcerate Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld for admitted crimes and known crimes of international scope. The Political Cooperative will put a new, temporary government in place that is comprised of people from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and all the organizations that have finally made us aware of the truth of the savage practices and illegal policies of our government in assassinating our own officials as well as people throughout the world who oppose their criminal activity. We need all of you to save U.S. victims and global victims from their ongoing criminal activity.
Sorry, but at this point the event sounds more comedic than anything else, but it might be interesting to see who turns out.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Herenton recall question

Time for some local politics. Memphis activist Thaddeus Matthews has succeeded in getting together a petition to recall Memphis mayor W.W. Herenton. Mr. Matthews needs about 70,000 signatures to get the question on the August 3rd ballot, and has about 75 days to do it. If he gets that done, city voters will decide whether to recall or not.

It's gonna be a tall order.

Mayor Willie has certainly been an enigma. He owns a PhD from SIU, and he's done some great things for Memphis during his 14 year tenure, but seems to suffer from a character disorder at times. He's a politician, but we should expect more from our leadership, right? His latest troubles stem from being dragged into the trial of former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, where it was alleged he took payoffs in return for plum city contracts.

The decision whether to sign or not depends a lot on the above case. If it's proven the mayor took a wad of bills from a bagman a petition might be moot. Even if he's clean on those charges there are other wayward acts to consider, such as the example he's been trying to set for our youth. This coming from a former Superintentent of Schools, no less. But short of any illegal wrong-doing it might be a tough sell.

If you're wondering, this is not about race--yet. Mr. Matthews himself is black. Not to say a few race cards might not get pulled out of the pack at crunch time, but hopefully we can avoid that. The last thing we need is blood in the streets as our rep is on the line.

So, what to do, what to do. Actually, it might be healthy to get the recall on the ballot even if we decide to keep the Mayor. It's good to occasionally stir things up a bit. I've got 75 days to decide.

RACE, ALREADY? 2/28/06

Mr. Matthews held a meeting last night to articulate his case and rally support. About 100 people showed up, mainly white. Thaddeus wasn't fazed:
"It's not a white thing or a black thing, it's about doing the right thing," Matthews insisted.
I would agree, but as one attendee put it,
"The way this room looks now," he said of the predominantly white audience, "it looks like white vs. black ... and that's the way this is going to be perceived."
An uphill battle, for sure.

Thompson part of the rest of the story?

Politician, movie star, TV star, Republican, Vol, and all around good guy Fred Thompson's next role may be his toughest. He's been signed to a radio contract with ABC News Radio for a daily commentary. Rumors are flying he might be tapped to follow Paul Harvey when the great one goes:
He will be based at ABC's Washington bureau and will host radio specials and provide commentary on politics, national security and current affairs, the network announced over the weekend. He also will fill in for Paul Harvey when the 87-year-old radio personality is on vacation.
To those of us who grew up listening to "News with Paul Harvey" (and that spans generations) hearing him these days is almost like falling into a momentary time warp. His eventual departure from the air (and they're gonna have to pry that mic out of his hand) will definitely close the curtain on an era of great 20th century radio men. Today's broadcasters are good, but in my opinion not cut from the same cloth.

Assuming they give the job to Fred he'll no doubt need to create his own style and format. Hopefully they won't try to just slide him into the same template, since I'd rather not hear him trying to perfectly enunciate all his P's and Q's or roll off a sqeaky "good day" at the end of the broadcast. That might actually be pretty funny, but we'll probably be treated to a "thanks for droppin in, y'all" or somesuch.

Still, following a legend is hard--just ask the several who've tried to follow baseball broadcast icon Jack Buck in St. Louis. Assuming Fred gets the chance he might pull it off, but my jury's still out.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Zero hour for Jill Carroll

Apparently Coalition and Iraqi authorities are nearing the end of their rope regards leads in the Jill Carroll case. Today is the announced deadline. I guess the only 'good' thing might be it's the second such deadline the kidnappers have announced, the first one passing without consequence last month.

If she's still in the hands of her original captors that might be hopeful, since these people really want their female friends released from Abu Ghraib, and killing Ms. Carroll wouldn't help matters.

Of course, one might also assume the recent murder of one of Iraq's own female journalists could portend an ominous sign, suggesting little hestitation about killing an outside journalist.

The wild card might be the recent developments with the Golden Mosque sectarian chaos, which has pushed Anerica out of the spotlight. Yet, if this group busts another deadline it marginalizes their reputation and effectiveness.

Based on Ms. Carroll and the still missing Christian Peacemaker Team I have to admit being wrong to question whether we might deal with terrorists. It seems pretty clear we don't.


And no sign of the missing reporter:
The Bush administration, Hamas, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the student newspaper at the University of Massachusetts have called for Carroll's release.
I didn't realize Hamas had taken a position. Seems kinda odd, considering their history and all.

NEWS 2/27

This is rather strange (as is nearly everything in Iraq nowadays) but the Iraqi government now thinks they know where she is:
In a broadcast interview, Zalmay Khalilzad said, "Yes, I did talk to the minister of interior late last night, and he said that based on the information that he has, that she is alive and that they have information with regard to where she might be held.
As the deadline approached yesterday they were frantically searching around the countryside with special ops teams. Now today, after the deadline has passed, they suddenly know where she is and no longer appear to be frantic. Uh, ok.

A Pact of Honor

Ed Morrisey's schooner has the lowdown on the "pact of honor" signed between the al-Sadr group and the Sunni Muslim Scholars Association. There's speculation that Bush's conference call yesterday had something to do with this good vibration.

Conventional wisdom says Zarqawi pulled off the attack on the Golden Mosque as opposed to more devout Sunni groups, but my initial theory went deeper by suggesting Saddamites were to blame in an effort to disrupt the trial. Yeah, perhaps a tad simplistic, but commentary such as this seems to lend some credence:
"A lot of Sunni Arab politicians have been working hard towards a government of national unity, but there are a number of spoilers in the Sunni community," said the Middle East project director for the International Crisis Group Joost Hiltermann.

"They would represent a very small minority of violent Salafis who have the access to explosives and the experience within the community
Salafis. Remember who was involved in organizing those Salafi groups before and after the invasion--al-Douri and other 'dead-end' Ba'athists. They would surely know the whereabouts of the good ordnance and might have access to ex-Mukhabarat agents with experience in clandestine operations. Not to mention their goals remain congruent with those of AQ/Bin Laden, at least at the moment.

Meanwhile, the Saddam trial resumes on Tuesday the 28th. Ramsey Clark and crew will be meeting with the Butcher today, and our international flower child had this to say about Saddam's spirits:
"He seemed at peace with himself," Clark said. "He realizes the danger. He may be fatalistic about the outcome, but he's certainly unbowed and maybe when he gets into court he gets ... more emotional than he does among his lawyers."


It's the Persian Gulf. Some believe the Iranians would love that moniker to be accurate. To that effect, today we heard scuttlebutt that Iran might have had a hand in the Shrine bombing. Since the Iraqis picked up 10 suspects today it's probably foolish to speculate further until we learn their identities, but I'll plod ahead anyway. No guts, no glory.

Sure the Iranians are suspects. They can't very well extend their influence with our presence in Iraq, and a stable, democratic Iraq is an even worse-case scenario. But they also stand to lose bigtime by destroying a Shiite Shrine to incite a civil war.

Just think about that for a sec. If discovered such a thing would place them in an even more horrible position than they're in now, and would likely cancel any influence they hope to have on Iraq's future.

If they were involved it seems likely they aren't in league with the main Iraqi Shiite militias, otherwise they'd never have sent al-Sadr to the peace table so fast. Besides, has anyone really made a believable case the Iraqis will accept being controlled by Persians anyway?

Ruling out the Ayatollahs leaves our old friends the Ba'athists next in line on the likely suspects list. They have nothing to lose from a civil war and everything to gain-- back. And as mentioned, Saddam is closer to the gallows than ever.

Andrew Sullivan had a post on some of these roughians yesterday:
"The Iraqi Rabita website reports an interview with a Mahdi militia leader today, quoted as saying: 'Strange things are happening these days. It's true that our guys often act as a bunch of spiteful, criminal thieves going on sprees of sabotage, murder and plundering. But the people who were running the act were clean young men, elegantly dressed, in modern vehicles, carrying the latest weapons, unlike our guys who are usually unkempt ruffians. No one knows where they are now.'"
Realize this commentary came from one of the main Shiite militiamen. These black cape guys could be teams from Iran of course, but they also sound suspiciously like the Fedeyeen.


Saddam has ended his hunger strike due to "health concerns". Excuse me, but isn't that sorta the point?

As to any relationship between Uncle Butcher and the Shrine attack, we don't know, but his crack legal team surely didn't let the opportunity slip past:
Dulaimi also said the defense team has submitted a request to postpone the trial because of the security situation in Baghdad and across Iraq, following last week's bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra. Sectarian violence rocked the country for days afterward.
How about that.


Reminiscent of Claud Rains' famous line in Casablanca, seems everytime the new Iraqi government has a sticky problem demanding immediate results they go out and "round up the usual suspects". In this case, top Zarqawi aide number 762:
The official, a member of the ministry's counterinsurgency Wolf Brigade, identified the key al-Qaida figure as Abu al-Farouq, who was previously unknown.
If we throw caution to the wind and believe Mr Abu was actually someone of importance rather than just a bone thrown to the masses, discovering his source of funds might be an worthwhile pursuit. Otherwise, they said he's a Syrian, but just because he's Syrian doesn't mean he's a Ba'athist. But it doesn't mean he isn't.


Saddam was remarkably well-behaved during his court appearance today and has returned to his conservative attire, probably in reverence to the Shrine violence. It's fascinating that his persona seems to blow around in the breeze, from wild-eyed crazy boy one day to insolent child wearing pajamas the next to serious defendant today:
Tuesday's session was one of the most orderly since the trial began in October. Saddam and his seven co-defendants entered the court and took their seats silently - in sharp contrast with nearly every other session, which began with Saddam and his half brother Barzan Ibrahim shouting slogans or arguing with the judge.
For the first time in recent memory the press played up the presented evidence first and Saddam's antics next, and that evidence looked pretty bad for team Butcher:
Prosecutors at Saddam Hussein's trial presented a document Tuesday they said was signed by the former leader approving the executions of more than 140 Shiites in southern Iraq after an assassination attempt in the 1980s.
I admit to being somewhat taken aback by his behavior. It's almost as if the Shrine bombing converted him into a more pensive, contrite human being.

Of course, that might have been the intended result. If the Ba'athists were actually involved in blowing up the Shrine with the intention of starting a civil war to get the trial postponed, it certainly back-fired. Therefore acting up in court wouldn't serve much purpose, since Saddam is very aware of how the media coverage relates to public perception. There's no reason to believe today's inaction was anything more than another calculated manuever.


Heh, according to Radio Free Liberty, Saddam's lawyers might have pulled off the ultimate coup:
The trial was then adjourned until 29 February.


Omar from Iraq the Model was impressed with the documents presented in Saddam's Tuesday trial. According to him the Butcher was rather ashen-faced while the prosecution was rolling out a littany of formal-looking docs on the overhead. Wonder what he thought about today's version, where Saddam made a flaky rebuttal? Faced with all that evidence, all he could say was, paraphrasing, 'they deserved to die because they tried to kill me'. Even the kids, I guess..
The prosecutor presented lists of vehicles that transported 399 Dujail detainees from a Baghdad facility to a desert prison in southern Iraq in 1984. Each handwritten list included the number of the vehicle, the driver's name, and the names and ages of the prisoners carried in them - 25-40 of them in each vehicle.

The names included entire families - women with daughters and sons below the age of 10, even the name of a 3-month-old girl.
Yet, there are still people who want to compare George W. Bush to this man, or say he's worse.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The zionist cartoon conspiracy - exposed

Those clever dogs:
Tom and Jerry, the lovable cat and mouse locked in cartoon combat, is a Jewish conspiracy, according to an Iranian official.
They've finally cracked it. Took em long enough. Pretty soon they'll figure out what this guy was all about:

Mice= Jewish good guys. Cats= Iranian bad guys.

And the resemblance here is striking, don't cha think?

God help us if they figure out the secret behind this dude.

WHA? 2/26

Thought about filing this update under the Golden Mosque thread, but realized it fit more with the cartoons:
26 February 2006 -- Hundreds of Iranians threw petrol bombs and rocks today at the gate of the British Embassy compound in Tehran to protest the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in neighboring Iraq.
These people must never possess nuclear technology.

Kennewick Man back in the news

It's amazing a 9000 year old skeleton could raise a ruckus in modern America. If you recall, 'Kennewick Man' was found in Washington state in 1996 and was an amazingly intact specimen, rare for such a crusty old relic. But it didn't make news for that, rather it was the assertion that it's bones did not resemble those of locals thought to inhabit the area during that time period. This represented an immediate conundrum.

The local Indian tribes wanted KM immediately re-buried, their rationale being that any remains pre-dating Lewis and Clark had to be of Indian origin. Besides, there was a law requiring it. Scientists pitched a hissy since it could not be determined if the skeleton was indeed indigenous, which landed KM in court (well, not the actual skeleton). He remains above ground.

Now a researcher claims the skeleton was probably initially buried, which is significant because:
A team of 20 forensic scientists has been studying the skeleton, he said, and have concluded that the skull doesn't match those of Indian tribes living in the area.
In other words, if he didn't "wash up" on the beach it suggests he was either there before the local Indians, or that folks in 7000BC celebrated diversity a lot more than we imagined.

The case also presents lots of interesting bylines. For example, if Kennewick Man wasn't of Indian origin (current thinking is that he wasn't European but perhaps a Pacific Islander derivative) it certainly alters the scientific conventional wisdom about North American migration patterns plastered all over our children's textbooks:
"We know very little about this time period. Who the people were that were the earliest people that came to America," Owsley said. "We are finding out they were coming thousands of years earlier than we had thought," arriving not just over the Bering Strait but by boats and other means.
Frankly, I'm surprised we haven't seen more discussion on ole KM. On second thought, no I'm not. There's a touchy racial angle, a touchy Indian rights angle, and a rather touchy scientific reality that widely accepted theories and doctoral dissertations can sometimes exist on fragile ground.

As for me, I've always been fascinated by the single source theory of modern man's origin and it's relationship to the population of the Island nations. Maybe further research on KM will help shine more light on man's pre-historic maritime abilities. Or something else entirely.

UPDATE 3/5/06

CNN.com has a promo of the upcoming Time Magazine article about KM right here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Port knock-down-drag-out

Just a few more thoughts on the port perplex-a-fest.

The detractors who want to block the deal 'just because' give credence to this viewpoint:
Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said much of the criticism has an anti- Arab bias. "We are at war against terrorists, not any religion or ethnicity. Some politicians seem to have forgotten that. ...
DP World is no more run by terrorists than the Bin Laden Group, which just gave Al Gore an undisclosed amount of money to give a speech in Saudi Arabia where he proceeded to say things like this about the United States:
"thoughtless" U.S. visa policies towards Arabs were playing into al Qaeda's hands
If you're feeling frisky, look back over your average message board and see what happens when someone mocks "the religion of peace". The left generally goes ballistic and accuses the poster of xenophobia, quickly pointing out how the bulk of Islam is peaceful.

But bring along the port story and some of those same people now stand ready to arbitrarily stop an Arab company from getting a contract because, well, they're Arabs and because we're fighting a war on terror. Okey dokey.

Yet the reaction from the Bush camp has been strange and surprising as well. We've seen the first real veto threat in 5 years, with all the tough talk coming over an issue that President Bush admitted he wasn't paying much attention to a few weeks ago (although Captain Ed doesn't see that as a major problem).

Treasury Secretary Snow, the former CEO of a company with an expansive port and container operation, gives us the impression he wasn't the least bit interested in one of the largest port deals in history. Weird. Why not?

Chances are a stealthy answer exists for the administration's behavior, most probably wrapped around whatever deal was made with UAE as to their continued assistance to the Navy and other GWoT help, which we desperately need.

Yet despite all this scrutiny the containers will continue to flood our ports and fan out across the fruited plains with few of their insides ever seeing a Customs Agent. It's the engine of global trade, and the currently-applied risk management strategy will not change, even if an American port company gets the contract.

Mea Culpa time. In earlier essays reference was made to Mr. David Sanborn having been previously employed at CSX. I believe that might be incorrect. Richard D.(Dick) Sanborn was a former CSX executive, but he passed away in 2004.

MORE 2/27/06

The 45 day re-review is more like a union-management "cooling off period". They hope everyone will forget by then, and Rove and company understand there will probably be some new goofy story dominating the headlines and this thing will slip through.

My position all along was to let Congress review this deal, and not only this deal but ALL port or other transportation infrastructure deals involving companies owned by foreign nations.

Perhaps we need legislation to mandate that all companies operating in America and involved in security-senstive industries such as ports, railroads and airlines be American-owned, or at a minimum operated through an American-based subsidiary company accountable to persons here. Occasional independent government review would be handy as well, such as using a Surface Transportation Board type concept.


Was listening to Michael Savage on the radio today. My mood has to be just right to stomach "Dr. Savage", but at times I do agree. He's certainly no Bush kool aid drinker, and certainly has no patience for the ports deal. I share some of his concern, but he's overboard (pardon the pun) on others.

The bothersome thing is a possibility that DP World's access to classified terminal security plans could fall into the hands of the average martyr jihadist, or Ahmadinejad, or Bin Laden. I caught a Coast Guard spokesman on one of the daytime radio shows today and he said everyone has security clearances, yada, yada, but was kinda vague on access to those terminal security plans.

But let's remember a couple of things here. First, if AQ wanted to get a nuke-filled container into America they could already do it without DP World by just using an innocuous steamship company and shipping it from anywhere but the ME. Remember, the 9/11 hijackers used our own airlines so we wouldn't suspect. Besides, everything with a bill of lading from the ME is already suspect. Two, nukes exploding in America is generally bad for business. For everyone.

One fact remains--this issue would be nearly moot if we had failsafe scanning technologies here or shipboard.

What's that giant sucking sound?

I realize the topic of global warming never fails to generate an emotional knee-jerk from the environmental chicken little left. That's usually followed by an equal knee-jerk slapdown from some of us on the right. Rarely do we hear anyone discuss viable solutions (and no, I don't consider eliminating Corvettes in favor of rickshaws or living in teepees as "viable" solutions).

Dr. Wallace Broecker, the scientist who identified the role of ocean currents acting as "conveyor belts", which was later melodramatically butchered in the movie "The Day After Tomorrow", has a stopgap proposal that would seem to be a win-win:
Wallace Broecker says he likes windmills and fuel-efficient cars to the extent that they can buy time against global warming. But the ultimate solution has to be technology that can actually extract carbon dioxide from the air and power plants, and bury it
Outlandish, but apparently possible in theory. I like this kind of thinking, and believe it's important that more scientists crawl outside their political boxes and start finding solutions. Sure, that might require them to occasionally mind meld with a few capitalist pigs...
Backing him is hard-nosed businessman Gary Comer, who started the Lands' End mail-order empire in Dodgeville, Wis. Comer has funded a company — Global Research Technologies, in Tucson, Ariz. — that is building a prototype device that can take carbon dioxide out of the air for storage or eventual burial in salty aquifers.
...but it sounds like patriotic duty to me.

Lest you go smelling a rat and wondering if the good Doctor Broecker is just another oil stooge shilling for Commander Halliburton, here's what he said about our present leader back in 2004:
I mean, our President has got his head in the sand about CO2. Even his religious right is starting to shift and say, "Hey, we've got to do something about this." I think the tide is turning.
For the record, he doesn't think our current level of warming will propel Europe into an ice age anytime soon as depticted in the movie, but that doesn't make him a wingnut--he believes we'll get there eventually if we do nothing.

To maintain the proper level of conservative skepticism I'll add the following comment to the mix--we still haven't heard a rational explanation for past climate shifts that caused previous ice ages and subsequent recoveries. In other words, what caused the darn ice caps to defrost before SUVs came along? Since we really aren't conclusively sure, simply capturing CO2 might be nothing more than an expensive waste of time, if in reality some unknown process is driving the global warming boat.

But creative solutions are much preferable to hurled insults or world socialism. I think it's worth a look-see.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hey CNN-- "puzzled" Gov is a Democrat

CNN had a fluff piece on their website tonight about a governor who got snookered by the "Daily Show". This is usually stuff that happens to republicans, such as stories about potatoes (Dan Quayle) or presidents who don't know the price of milk (George Bush 41). I'm sure you could think of more. Democrats don't normally fit that profile, since they're usually too hip.

The cutesy little story was a reprint from an Associated Press story. But CNN forgot one thing-- the governor's political orientation. He's a democrat.

Here's the AP feed:
Blagojevich says he didn't realize "The Daily Show" was a comedy spoof of the news when he sat down for an interview that ended up poking fun at the sometimes- puzzled Democratic governor.
Now, here's what CNN reprinted:
Blagojevich says he didn't realize "The Daily Show" was a comedy spoof of the news when he sat down for an interview that ended up poking fun at the sometimes-puzzled governor.
Big deal? Well, CNN apparently did care enough to tell us the governor's main political detractor was a republican:
The segment, which aired two weeks ago, also featured Illinois Republican Rep. Ron Stephens, a pharmacist who opposes the governor's order to pharmacies
That's exactly what AP wrote verbatim. Sometimes media bias is not what's in the story, but what's not in the story.

The Saddamites and the Shrine

The timing of the destruction of the Shi'ite Shrine is most interesting. Let's not forget the 'Saddamites' in this.

Determining the motive isn't hard since anyone can see it was designed to flare a civil war. Determining the culprits is a little harder. Somehow this doesn't appear the work of devout Muslims, even of Sunni variety. The Shrine was a landmark. Also, the attack was not a suicide:
Though no casualties were reported in the blast, the bombing was the most destructive attack on a major shrine since the U.S. invasion,
We hear that some Shia are calling it Iraq's 9/11, and surely that's exactly what the perps hoped for.

So let's sum up. The Shia-dominated Iraqi government recently hinted the Butcher might just die a little sooner than previously indicated. Surely this news sounded the alarm bells in al-Douri's headquarters, therefore suggesting the attack was the work of AQ mujahadeen under control of Zarqawi, acting at the behest of Saddamites. After all, it's not gonna be easy to process Saddam off to meet Allah with a civil war going on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Former Rep Newton sentenced to pokey

Former Republican Tennessee State Representative Chris Newton, indicted in the 'Operation Tennessee Waltz' sting last year, was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison. Newton was charged with accepting 1,500 dollars in bribes from the dummy company set up by the FBI.

Lots of interesting repurcussions from this, perhaps the biggest being that politicians cannot consider themselves above the law in this state anymore.

Take penacilin now

Michelle Malkin details a case of Anthrax in New York City, but no need for anyone to hit the panic button--all indications are that it's a 'standard' case contracted from an animal.

She does make reference to our forgotten attack, which might produce some interesting new visibility to the story based on her large readership.

If you want some real chills, grab yourself a copy of "The Continuing Storm" by Avigdor Haselkorn. The first chapter goes into specific detail about the effects of anthrax and botulinum toxins on the human body. Then keep in mind Saddam had this stuff, and we only recently heard tapes purported to be from his office discussing these very products.


Michelle wasn't the only outlet covering this story, the Times, CNN and others are hitting it, too. Officials are busy reassuring everyone, but really--what else are they gonna say at this point? They won't know if there's an outbreak til later. Still seems most likely the man picked it up naturally.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A storm in the port

Although this issue was covered below, I must admit to a certain lifelong fascination with transportation. Clearly that alone makes me an expert, so I'll foolishly pontificate some more on this. Besides, things are getting serious when Bush starts threatening a veto.

Everyone cares about port security. My goal here, after babbling a bit, is to offer a solution. First, allow me to unload something. It's flat amazing people like Chuck Schumer are capable of such levels of xenophobia. After all, isn't the tired old refrain something like, "why attack Iraq, they had nothing to do with 9/11"? But, just as there's no direct evidence Saddam helped Osama, there's no direct evidence the UAE government did, either. The only thing they have in common are their shumaggs.

But there was indirect evidence. So if the solution is to mandate that no transportation business can be done with any countries even indirectly connected with attacks on America, why did we allow British-owned P&O Ports to move containers? Shoebomber Richard Reid was from England, and terror cells there were connected to AQ in Iraq.

Such a plan would also leave out any future port business with German companies, since the Hamburg Cell was instrumental in the 9/11 operation. And, since the originial "Planes" operation was dreamed up by KSM and Yousef while in the Phillipines, scratch them off the list, too.

Broadly speaking, don't forget Canada. Their GWoT cooperation has been spotty, and the Millenium bomber tried to enter America via Vancouver. Yet in 1999 Bill Clinton allowed a Canadian Transportation company, CN Rail, to acquire an American railroad, the Illinois Central. CN hauls the very containers everyone is worried about, coming off ships and moving by train through the heartland. We've been trusting those Canadians all along!

Here's a suggestion for resolving this. Why not have DP World just spin off the American ports operation to a new subsidiary based in America, staffed by Americans? Congress could help by drafting legislation to that end.

Fixed? Well maybe, as long as we can stop the new American company from hiring illegal aliens.


The New York Times put on their journalistic thinking caps and churned out an excellent un-biased story on the ports deal. They covered the obvious drawbacks, but actually managed to find some people in the shipping industry to quote:
The opposition to the deal brought expressions of befuddlement from shipping industry and port experts. The shipping business, they said, went global more than a decade ago, and foreign-based firms already control more than 30 percent of the port terminals in the United States. They include APL Limited, which is controlled by the government of Singapore and operates terminals in Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; Dutch Harbor, Alaska; and Seattle. Globally, 24 of the top 25 ship terminal operators are foreign-based, meaning most of the containers sent to the United States leave terminals around the world that are operated by foreign governments or foreign-based companies.
Regarding APL Limited--definitely a sign of the times. Their history dates to the 1800s as an American-borne steamship company known as Dollar Lines. So what does APL stand for? American President Lines. Ironic and kinda sad, I reckon.


Regardless of whether the port deal is the right thing to do, we need our media to present the facts correctly.

The AP’s latest update contains this passage:
The first-ever sale involving U.S. port operations to a foreign, state-owned company is set to be completed in early March.
As the New York Times article from above illustrates, APL already runs ports in this country, and that company is a wholly owned subsidiary of NOL Group (Neptune Orient Lines) which is controlled by members of the government of Singapore.

MORE 2/22/06

This story has perhaps the strangest coalitions on each side than seen in recent memory. Jimmy Carter, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly for, Hillary, Peter King, Hannity, and Schumer against. It's also separated some of us in the blogosphere, hopefully not leading to permanent hard feelings. One thing can be said conclusively--it certainly managed to bury the Cheney Quailgate story.

Here's perhaps another sign of the apocalyse:
If you smell something rotten, don't hold your nose quite yet – your country's life may depend on taking a closer sniff. It turns out that CFIUS is chaired by Treasury Secretary John Snow – who joined the Treasury from CSX Corporation, which just happened to sell its foreign port assets to Dubai Ports World in 2004 – just before the old Snow-man took his government job. So I suppose that what's good for CSX is good for America, as they once said of General Motors?
This from World Net Daily, no less. Remind me to make sure my liberal friends see that, since they like to call it World NUT Daily.

But she's got a partial point. Snow and Sanborn should indeed be 'persons of interest' here. Both hail from CSX, along with Sanborn's additional resume entry for DP World. This 'insider angle' has provided me a boil-down point to this whole convoluted mess:
Specifically--did the presence of Snow on the CFIUS review team have any bearing on the deal's approval, and, what role did Sanborn play behind the scenes to get 'er done? Was his recent appointment at DOT a quid pro quo of some sort? Was the initial review thorough enough, or did they know the outcome before it began?
Businessmen are gonna do what they do. But if 'what they do' comes at the expense of American national security, we need to draw a hard line. The only public way to review this would be under Congressional hearings.


Both Dubai and Singapore may soon be hosting other port operations. Check out this proposal for "Space Ports" in both countries.

DELAY OK 2/23/06

Karl Rove says a delay is ok:
When asked if Bush would accept a slight delay in implementing the takeover of P&O, Rove said: "Yes, look, there are some hurdles, regulatory hurdles, that this still needs to go through on the British side as well that are going to be concluded next week.
Funny we've not heard one hoot nor holler from Britain, Netherlands, Germany or all the other countries DP World will assume port operations from P&O Ports. There appear to be two possible reasons:

One, we represent the largest bullseye so they aren't concerned. Possible, but Europe also has a bullseye. It's smaller but much closer, therefore much easier to hit. If having the UAE controlling their ports does bother them, perhaps they are simply too gripped in fear to say anything after the Paris and cartoon riots.
Another possibility is they're quite used to foreign companies operating their ports, so the story amounts to much ado about nothing.

I think it's a combination of both, but mainly the latter.

MORE 2/24/06

Gotta admit, this post makes sense.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Saddam, al Qaeda, and the Egyptian Jihad

Ray Robison, former member of the Iraq Survey Group, lays out an interesting case for an AQ-Iraq connection in today's American Thinker using previously leaked ISG documents. He connects dots between Saddam, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atta in a compelling fashion.

We know Saddam's relationship with Mubarak was adversarial, in part due to the Gulf War. In Bush versus the Beltway, Laurie Mylroie posits that Saddam might have been behind several 90s terrorist attacks involving Egypt, such as the Luxor bombing, the attempt on Mubarak's life, and the bombing of the their embassy in Islamabad. The released Saddam tapes also suggest some animosity, but as with everything involving the Middle East--just when it seems the dots connect they lead to another dot.

Speaking of Saddam, he might soon need help from some of those friends in low places. The Times Online reports that a hanging may come quicker than expected. Apparently Iraq's government passed a few laws pertaining to the death penalty while nobody was looking:
The prosecutor Ja’afar Moussawi said that under a law passed late last year all death sentences must be carried out within 30 days of an appeal failing, regardless of any other pending charges.
But that's not all. The court only needs a conviction and death sentence on Dujail to get a quick hook:
“Once one of the accused on the Dujail case, for example, has been sentenced to death, then he won’t be tried on other charges,”
This outcome is almost mandatory, since it's doubtful anyone wants to prosecute Halabja. Saddam's lawyers would likely subpeona messers Cheney and Rumsfeld to testify, and the presiding judge has a conflict since he hails from Halabja. And we know how hard it's been to keep a competent judge.

As things press to conclusion we'll see how much influence the Jihadists, led in part by former right-hand man Izzat al-Douri, have on the situation.


This is the anniversary of the first World Trade Center bombing, which occurred in 1993. The Counterterrorism Blog has a good summary. Keep in mind February 26 represents another anniversary day-- the day Saddam's forces were expelled from Kuwait.

Jimmy's world

Bless his bleeding heart. Jimmy Carter has always been a died-in-the-wool believer that one fine day the peoples of the would will join hands and sing in perfect harmony. In my view, even if the world somehow came to that agreement choosing the song would probably cause a war.

His morning op-ed at the WaPo is vintage Carter, urging Israel and the United States not to withhold funds to Palestinia:
...all funding for the new government will be withheld, including what is needed to pay salaries for schoolteachers, nurses, social workers, police and maintenance personnel.
True liberalism at its finest. The Palestinian people voted in Hamas in an election Mr. Carter witnessed and deemed legitimate. Therefore, why not compel them to take another vote--a referendum if you will: renounce violence and formally recognize Israel's right to exist. To most people that would be quite reasonable.

Then again, most of the world understands these people are not likely to change their mission statement, renounce Ahmadinejad, or stop burning embassies over cartoons anytime soon. Except Mr. Carter:
.. even if Hamas does not soon take the ultimately inevitable steps of renouncing violence and recognizing Israel's right to exist.
Gee, wonder why he hasn't given the Bush adminstration the same benefit of the doubt as a group of terrorists? Oops, forgot. Bush and Cheney are the true terrorists.

It would be nice to believe Mr. Carter's high visibility on the issue comes from a genuine concern for the people. It might. However, can't help but thinking there might also be a tad of concern for his own Nobel prize-winning legacy.

MORE 2/20/06

Regarding the funds:
Under the Oslo accord, Israel is obliged to hand over the funds. However, it took similar action at the start of the first intifada and withheld funds by placing them in an escrow account.
In other words, the Israelis aren't likely to take the extra money and hit the casinos. I liken it to taking away a child's allowance when they act up--works almost every time.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

German "hostage" returns to Iraq

Remember Susan Osthoff? She's going back to Iraq. If her story has slipped off the hard drive, she was the German archeologist living in Iraq who was kidnapped then later freed, apparently after the German government paid a ransom. They denied it, then part of the denied ransom showed up on Ms. Osthoff's person, which she intially denied knowing about:
Part of a ransom alleged to have been paid by the German government to win Osthoff's freedom was found on her after her release, German magazine Focus reported last month.
She explained that the terrorists, kindly folk they are, simply gave her back the money she had in her purse when they snatched her. And wow, the Germans bought it:
But German newspapers later reported that Osthoff was not suspected by the government of cooperating with her kidnappers, and rather had demanded and been given back part of the $2,668 (1500 pounds) she had been carrying when the gunmen first captured her.
Initially it was thought the Germans had orchestrated a swap, giving up TWA847 hijacker Mohammed Ali Hamadi in return for Osthoff. That seemed far-fetched due to the fact he was a Shi'ite terrorist and she was kidnapped in the Sunni triangle. Hamadi has now fallen off the radar despite strong worded comments by government officials about bringing him to justice in America, and despite a letter to president Bush from the family of Navy diver Robert Stethem, killed and thrown on the tarmac by Hamadi in the 847 hijacking.

This development does suggest Osthoff is not a spy, as some had suspected. If it turns out she is one, throw her up there with the mythical Bond for sheer nerve and guts. But somehow the words collaborator or fool come to mind first.

But save the biggest dunce cap for Germany. They paid, it backfired. Notice the difference in the way we're handling the Jill Carroll situation, with a second deadline approaching this Sunday. Paying ransom is never a long term solution, but apparently some politicians figure it's a worthwhile short-term solution, especially before a close election or while weathering political pecadillos and such.

Want fries with that?

McDonalds is not having a very good month. First their mascot was set on fire and beheaded over absolutely nothing, now they find themselves being sued again. However, unlike former high-profile cases such as the spilled hot coffee or the high fat content causing, well, fatness, these cases (yes, more than one) involve the previous non-disclosure of the secret ingredients of their delicious french fries. Some merit might exist.

For years the fry recipe was a trade secret. The company recently announced they actually contain wheat and dairy components, kinda sneaking it out on their website. It's hard to sneak anything past a lawyer, though.

Surely the outcome of these suits could become landmark for the food service industry, even if these cases are simply nothing-to-lose grabs into Ronald's deep pockets. They might succeed in front of a jury since food allergies are medically recognized.

Depending on the outcome it's not hard to imagine the age of "secret recipes" coming to an end, but if so, is that not a rights infringement? Somehow the suits need to address that issue, since it seems to allow for a scenario where a jealous restaraunt owner could clandestinely pay an individual to file a suit against a staunch competitor predicated on a food allergy (real or imagined), just to learn their secrets or put a dent in their profits.

Now excuse me, I just got sick eating some KFC original recipe, think I need to call my lawyer...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Nope, no state-sponsored terrorism round here..

I've moved this post to the top as details of the Intelligence Summit become available today. Further thoughts below. Feel free to add your own as well.

ABC News's exclusive "secret Saddam tapes" are hitting the airwaves tonight. Made by Saddam Hussein in the 90s and provided to ABC by ex UNSCOM inspector Bill Tierney, the tapes show the regime was continuing their efforts to hide weapons programs. Although Tierney probably turned them over to illustrate Saddam's devious fixation on WMDs, ABC's focus will instead be on this one dialog:
One of the most dramatic moments in the 12 hours of recordings comes when Saddam predicts — during a meeting in the mid 1990s — a terrorist attack on the United States. "Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before August 2 and told the British as well … that in the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction."

Saddam goes on to say such attacks would be difficult to stop. "In the future, what would prevent a booby-trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?" But he adds that Iraq would never do such a thing. "This is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq.
Well, he didn't really say "Iraq would never do that". He said it was coming, but not from Iraq. The dictator wasn't a dummy. He knew that Islamic radicals proved much more useful tools than Mukhabarat agents, who had already blown several attempts at terrorism against America.

But alas, the big story here will be how Saddam proved Bush wrong, and the dems will once again be asking for hearings. Note to Stephen Hayes, this should be a reality check as to why the other documents haven't been released. The media trumps any morsel that hurts Bush.

Here's an easy prediction--the unhinged set will unequivacally believe Saddam regards his statement of misdirection, while completely disbelieving Cheney's answers about the hunting accident.


April Glaspie was the US Ambassador to Iraq during the runup to Saddam's attack on Kuwait. Saddam called her for a meeting about a week before he attacked. The left likes to point to her relaying a message that the US had no dog in Arab to Arab squabbles, tatamount to giving him permission to attack. Not really.

But something else was said in that conversation:
If you use pressure, we will deploy pressure and force. We know that you can harm us although we do not threaten you. But we too can harm you. Everyone can cause harm according to their ability and their size. We cannot come all the way to you in the United States, but individual Arabs may reach you.
Individual Arabs, eh. Sounds like those rootless, non-state actors we've heard so much about.

ht Hatfill Deception

MORE 2/16/06

Is Bill Tierney believable? Heard him interviewed on Hannity's show today. I was literally screaming at Sean to shut up and let him talk, since Tierney seemed on the verge of telling us something very important. He was strangely melodramatic, but perhaps that's justified if he's correct.

Correct about what, you say? Well, he buys into the premise that Saddam was actually behind or partially responsible for 9/11. Surely the "he's a nut" campaign will begin soon, although checking the lefty blogs it doesn't seem to be getting much play (they are still consumed with Cheney). For all I know he might be a tad flaky, but it doesn't take a nut to believe that if Saddam was himself still fighting "the mother of all battles" (whether we knew it or not) that he'd occasionally take a few shots.

At any rate, Tierney will be on the TV show tonight, so I may have to turn off the basketball and watch.

H&C 2/16/06

Tierney doesn't come across very well on TV, does he? Granted, Hannity and Colmes is hardly the forum for such a complex subject, but it's safe to assume the average viewer wasn't impressed.

Meanwhile, infighting has broken out at the group responsible for releasing the tapes. Board members John Deutch and James Woolsey, both former DCIs, have resigned their posts in the past few weeks, officially over something else. Woolsey is a very interesting character in that he presumably knows the real identity of WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef, which means he most definitely has an opinion on Tierney's "Saddam did it" premise. Funny, as the tapes come out he's now headed for the tall grass. That same cat also grabbed Deutch's tongue.

So what does it mean? Kay and Duelfer say there's really nothing new here, move along. Maybe. Or maybe there's another weird possibility. Perhaps Saddam didn't orchestrate or help with 9/11, but afterwards soon realized he was in the laser scoped crosshairs. With that he dispatched the anthrax letter writers to send a 'back off Iraq' message to Bush, who proceeded to call his bluff. Oops, no WMDs after all. And here we are.

Perhaps the tape release will clear all of this up. And perhaps pigs will fly.


It's early, but so far there's been very little fanfare surrounding the Intelligence Summit and their release of the Saddam tapes. Conversely, there's already evidence building that the story will garner much less attention than a Cheney misfire.

The Weekly Standard, long on the front lines of the effort to persuade Bush administration officials to release the post-invasion captured Iraqi documents, expressed their frustratation today in an article entitled "Need to Know", where they detailed a recent meeting between Congressman Hoekstra and a Negroponte staffer:
Late last week, a top DNI staffer met with Hoekstra. The meeting did not go well. "If there are 100 reasons not to make this information available, I got every one of them," Hoekstra told The Weekly Standard last week.
According to the article the plan is to dribble out partially redacted and restricted bits of information over time, similar to what we're seeing with the AQ transcripts coming out of Harmony (don't miss Austin Bay's post on this).

But, with the less than stellar performance by Tierney and the recent resignations at the Intelligence Summit it's certainly possible this story will get swept under the nearest throw rug. The telltale might be Hoekstra or any other curious Congressional friends of his. If they back off it's probably over, no matter what the Weekly Standard says or does. It'll be relegated to a homework assignment our grandkids complain about someday.


CNN decided to weigh in, and not surprisingly they ignored the obfuscation sections in favor of Uncle Saddam's WMD attack warning. Matter of fact, it seemed to suggest the Butcher was some kind of Arab Bill O'Reilly--"the spin stops here, cause Saddam's lookin out for you".

A quick scan of the other majors shows a big fat goose egg, but perhaps that's the correct call. If you study the Power Point slide show (available at Intelligence Summit site) there's no rock solid smoking gun material. In other words we didn't hear Saddam saying, "position the nuclear warheads under that sand dune over there", or "how did the meeting go with Atta in Prague?". So let's not get carried away.

Still, the tapes did seem to prove the regime was attempting to scam the inspectors and hide their bio program. Recall that inspections were the very backbone of the left's hindsight solution to avoid a war. Who could forget the mantra--"let the inspectors do their job". Surely Saddam and company were chanting it right along with them.

THE REAL WAR 2/19/06

The MSM is largely finished with the Intelligence Summit. The few that covered it took what they wanted--that Saddam was helping or warning the US--and will leave the rest to the conservative partisan sites and blogs. The latter is already in motion, case in point this fascinating narrative from former Undersecretary of Defense John Shaw.

Shaw was watching for Saddam's WMD stocks before and after the invasion. His conference presentation alleged the Russians, using Spetsnaz Special Ops teams, cleaned out all the WMD residue in the months before the war. This comports with a previous statement from the former Director of Defense Mapping, who claimed to have seen convoys heading into Syria. That sorta leaves Georges Sada twisting in the breeze, though.

Frankly it's hard to buy anything anymore. The only thing certainly believable is the size of the stovepipes looming over DIA, CIA, State, NSA, GIA, and DoD. Analysts from each of these agencies are highly competitive and each wants to be correct about Iraq. So there's ample room for fantasy and name-calling on all sides. The Iraq war, if nothing else, has given us a glimpse into that macho underworld like never before.

But there's just enough plausibility to consider this one. Russia would not have wanted US military units, with embedded media onboard, to come across proscribed weapons systems marked "made in Russia" when we rolled in, especially if any were date-stamped after 1991. And, if true this would also explain why Bush cannot corroborate the WMD whereabouts, since the game is still on.

Speaking of Russians, this theory brings to mind the incident back in 2003 where a car full of them fleeing Baghdad was riddled with bullets by our forces. Most probably just the fog of war, right?

ROLL TAPE 2/22/06

Just viewed the Pajamas Media interviews with Bill Tierney, Jack Kelly and Richard Perle done by Roger Simon. Regarding Tierney I'll say one thing--if he's now the public face behind theories that Saddam was involved in terrorism through the 90s, those believing likewise may want to keep it under wraps.

Kelly's assessment of the event sounded plausible, and makes me wonder if these Intelligence Summit guys were really that ignorant or perhaps cleverly set-up by someone trying to put them out of business.

Maybe Robertson was right

I don't always agree with Pat Robertson, but maybe he was right about Chavez..
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned on Friday that he could cut off oil exports to the United States if Washington continues trying to destabilize his left-leaning government.
I'm seriously considering scissoring my Citgo card and mailing it to him.
"You create your front Mr. Danger, we will create ours," Chavez said. "We are going to defeat the empire."
"Mr. Danger?", how old is he, 12? The problem is juvenile actors like him are gaining tremendous power in this world. What's a president to do when thugs like him have actual leverage over us?


Guess the el Hugo doesn't think much of Condi after her forceful remarks. Not surprising. This isn't surprising, either:
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday he may seek to lift constitutionally mandated presidential term limits if opposition parties boycott the upcoming December presidential elections.
Lifting the term limits, eh? Perhaps we should ask Cindy Sheehan who she thinks has a better shot at becoming a dictator, Chavez or 'Mr. Danger'.

Friday, February 17, 2006

What's good for the goose...

Scooter Libby's attorneys have submitted a massive discovery request to prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's office, asking for a staggering amount of classified docs to aid their defense. Fitzgerald was not happy:
..the handover of such material to I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby could harm national security, infringe grand jury secrecy and executive privilege and unnecessarily delay the trial.
No doubt a scattergun approach by Libby's team to overwhelm the prosecutor with document requests they know can't or won't be honored. Much thought has gone into this game.

Libby's defense is already crystalizing--in addition to dragging every prominent journalist in DC and NY into court and forcing them to decide whether to give up sources or face jail, he'll also generate document hamster dances around Fitzgerald, requiring the need to release classified information:
"As the defendent well knows, the PDB is an extremely sensitive document which implicates very serious concerns about both classified information and executive privilege,"
The ultimate goal is to force the media and prosecutor into deciding whether it's really worth pursuing a perjury case in light of all the above.

Ready to give up yet?

Consider the following headlines regards our efforts in the war against barbarism:

"White House ordered to release spy papers"
A federal judge ordered the Bush administration on Thursday to release documents about its warrantless surveillance program or spell out what it is withholding, a setback to efforts to keep the program under wraps.
Let's change the headline to "federal judge demands to see all national security secrets because Bush is well-known liar and there's not really a war on."

"Annan says US should close Gitmo prison"
The United States should allow "a full and independent investigation" at Guantanamo and also give the United Nations access to other detention centers, including secret ones, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, Nowak said by telephone from his office in Vienna, Austria.

"We want to have all information about secret places of detention because whenever there is a secret place of detention, there is also a higher risk that people are subjected to torture," he said.
One question, if it's a secret prison (which means nobody has seen it) how does he know there's a higher risk of anything?

"More Abu Ghraib Prison Abuse Photos Leaked"
blah, blah, blah, America bad, blah
Might as well have shown them buck naked exposing tatoos of Mohammed on their posteriors while flushing Korans down the toilet.

"Iraqis say Saddam could exploit Abu Ghraib images"
"This is evidence that Saddam was ruling the country with justice. We did not see any Iraqi being tortured in his time."
Well, it's nice to see Baghdad Bob is getting out these days.

Keep in mind the enemy who started this conflict never allows their detainees to consult lawyers before head separation activities, much less get a day in court. The law they DO recognize emanates from their Holy Book, the same one used to justify the head chopping. They explode concealed bombs in cities killing women and children rather than soldiers.

Others believe justice is done by spraying chemical gas or invading neighbor countries to pillage, rape and steal. Still others believe their neighbors have no right to exist at all.


"Impeaching Bush is a cause worth fighting for, actor says"
"Unless you are willing to accept torture as part of a normal American political lexicon, unless you are willing to accept that leaving the Geneva Convention is fine and dandy, if you accept the expansion of wiretapping as business as usual, the only way to express this now is to embrace the difficult and perhaps embarrassing process of impeachment."
Nothing like fighting for the cause, Mr. Hooper.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Arab port deal

Many are understandably aghast over the recent government approval of the sale of a British port operations company (P&O Lines) to a state-run Arab company from the UAE. It brings to mind the brouhaha with COSCO (China Overseas Shipping Company) during the Clinton years. But is this Emirates deal as bad as cracked up to be?

First, the UAE/Emirates are presumably western friendly. It's not as if Yemen, Sudan or Iran were suddenly taking over the port of Newark. Second, this company won't actually control the port itself. The government-run port authorities will retain control and oversight as they always have. The UAE company will only be running the offload/transload operations.

Yet there should be concerns. Similar to handing over a tract of land to communists in southern California, we're handing over port transloading operations to people who have a higher than average potential for being turned into crazed fanatics. For example, let's say someone in the UAE company converts to Wahabbism. Think he could get a few containers with WMD through the port? Or, how about blackmail from al-Qaeda groups?

Keep in mind how the intermodal business operates-- containers come in on ships, are loaded onto trailers, where they're either placed on railroad flatcars for long distance delivery or hooked to trucks for shorter range delivery.

Thousands of these boxes are rolling the streets and tracks of America at any given time. At left is a "container train" rolling into the outskirts of Memphis a few years back. So, having a hearing might not be a bad idea. Maybe they can ask Treasury Secretary Snow, former CEO of CSX Railroad/SeaLand Intermodal, a few questions about the deal, just to ease our minds.


The dems think they have another issue, but it may turn out to be a boat anchor:
Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Hillary Clinton of New York said they would offer a measure to ban companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from acquiring U.S. port operations.

"We wouldn't turn the border patrol or the customs service over to a foreign government, and we can't afford to turn our ports over to one either," Menendez said in a statement.
Other than the fact P&O itself is foreign-owned (British), the ports themselves will not be outright "controlled" by these operators, just the loading/unloading operations. We need to keep that straight.

But we also need some historical perspective. Legislation to stop foreign operators from staking out beachheads at American ports is hardly without precedence. Perhaps Hillary has forgotten her husband's position regards the Port of Long Beach and COSCO? Maybe Charlie Trie and Johnny Huang could refresh her memory, wherever they are.

Anyway, as noted I'd be in favor of hearings on this matter. But to sponsor a bill essentially limiting only Arab countries from investing in US ports is hard to justify in light of what we've already allowed. Meanwhile, perhaps an eager journalist can "follow the money" and find out what's really going on here. After all, that's what helped unravel the COSCO deal.

MEATHEAD! 2/18/06

From a Newsmax story on the ports:
Flynn and others said even under foreign control, U.S. ports will continue to be run by unionized American employees. "You're not going have a bunch of UAE citizens working the docks," Flynn said. "They're longshoremen, vested in high-paying jobs. Most of them are Archie Bunker-kind of Americans."
See--those union dock workers are gonna keep them A-rabs in check.

MORE 2/18/06

This issue seems to be bringing both sides together. Meanwhile, LASunsett shares some rage with Michelle.

An even larger concern might be that DP World will not only control American stevedore ops, but former P&O port ops around the world. Check out this P&O webpage for perspective.

But the bottom line is always the money, and in this case: gobs of it:
"[DP World] is owned by a monarchy, but it's a business and its money is the same color as everyone else's, only it's got more of it," said Peter S. Shaerf, managing director of AMA Capital Partners LLC, merchant banking firm focused on the maritime and transportation industries.

Shaerf said the sale price is the most ever paid for any port operations company, and was considered high by many analysts after DP World and rival, Singapore-based PSA International, bid up the price.

DP World, formerly known as Dubai Ports International, began as the port authority in Dubai. In 1999, it began aggressively buying up other port operations in the Middle East and around the world, Shaerf said. In January 2005, the company moved further into Asia and Europe with acquisition of the international terminal business of CSX Corp. With that acquisition, it changed its named to Dubai Ports World.
CSX? What say you, Mr. Snow?

If nothing else this issue certainly brings forth questions on how capitalism fits within a GWoT. Time for some hearings.

ed-cleaned up misconception on who's on whose side above..


Think foreign companies don't already have their hands in American ports? Check out this photograph by local Memphis photographer M.J. Scanlon. It shows a Canadian National railroad locomotive switching freight cars at one of America's bigger inland ports, the port of Memphis at President's Island.

Trivia..this railroad used to be called Illinois Central, made famous by Arlo Guthrie's song the 'City of New Orleans' years ago. No one seemed to complain when it was taken over in 1999 during the Clinton administration by the our friends in the frozen north.

Riders in the sky

We were promised flying cars, but flying Harleys? See the video here.
Now imagine traffic control with these suckers zipping around.

Hansen drops the N word

James Hansen's bark is apparently just fine. The NASA researcher, who recently claimed the Bush administration was trying to muzzle him because of his dire global warming projections, showed up unannounced last week at a seminar in New York called "Politics & Science: How their interplay results in public policy".

Hansen apparently came to the dais and issued his stock disclaimer (I’m not speaking for Uncle Sam--[he forgot to instruct everyone to ignore his status as a NASA department head-ED]) then accused our favorite political pinata of fiddling while the planet burns.

But what would a Bush-bash be without a Bushitler moment, speaking about his colleagues at NOAA:
"It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States," he said, then disappeared moments after his panel concluded.
At least give him credit for diversity--he's insinuating Bush might be some kind of weird fascist-communist hybrid.

Alison McCook of the New Scientist Blog was in attendance and points out a possible blowback from using such imagery:
However, in a subsequent round table discussion, David Goldston, the chief of staff of the House committee on science, took Hansen to task for making such an extreme comparison between the US and these nefarious regimes. Goldston said he normally defends the NASA scientist, but using inflammatory language keeps the debate about global warming polarized, running the risk of alienating people in "the middle."
Ya think? The way I see it Hansen officially stepped onto the Moonbat express by making that reference, which tanks his credibility to persuade about two-thirds of the citizenry. It's clear now why some in the administration didn't want him running loose. The debate simply must be more civil.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Captain, more dilithium crystals!

A team at RPI has developed table top device to produce cold fusion:
The device, which uses two opposing crystals to generate a powerful electric field, could potentially lead to a portable, battery-operated neutron generator

As you might remember, we've been here before. But if this small particle generator can be safely perfected, it might provide small amounts of power, one day providing value as strap-on cancer treatment devices or airport security scanners, among many other uses. Hardly warp drive, but as they say, baby steps.

Around the horn

Various and Sundry..

How long before COPS gets a hold of this?
The Incredible Hulk is now a Los Angeles County sheriff's department reserve deputy. Lou Ferrigno, who's 54, was sworn in during a ceremony Monday night. He tells The Associated Press his father had been a New York City police officer, and he's always had a high respect for officers.
Not gonna take long before he goes green in that place.

Zacarious Moussaoui. Poor guy. He's trying to be controversial, but it just ain't working, not with Saddam still in the picture. Still he tries, taking a shot at the judge today, "I am al Qaeda. I am your sworn enemy". I bet he was lots of fun at parties. Reminds me of that Francis character in Stripes.

What a sterling example of faith this guy is setting. I'm sure some will blame his imbibing on the pressures of his sexuality. But you know, as Paul said, not everyone can do it. Or thereabouts.

This was either due to the cartoons,
or maybe it was that dang Monopoly contest again.

Here's to red-heads, the most mocked, scorned, trashed white folk on earth. Especially if they were once step-children.

DHS has a new "Cheney Alert System". Color-coded, too!

Some folks hate Valentines Day. Maybe they don't understand the true meaning.

It's a crazed world. Oh well, happy Birthday Dad.