Archive for August, 2005

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Link to Basil
Background here.
Basil’s brilliant.

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

The force of nature
I woke up last night in the middle of the night and watched TV reports about New Orleans Called ‘Untenable’ As Levees Fail. I remembered a nice trip my husband and I took years ago and what a great time we had, the wonderful food, and the beautiful places we visited. The hotel where we stayed is now a wreck.

The rescue workers have done huge acts of valor, and I am grateful that the people in the service of our country always come through. The TV channels are continously showing rescue after rescue done by the local police and firemen, the Coast Guard, National Guard, and the Army. Don’t miss Mudville Gazzette‘s post on NORTHCOM.

The last thing I watched was a heartbreaking interview of a man whose wife was carried by the stream in front of him and their children.

I urge all visitors to this blog to donate to the American Red Cross 1-800-HELP-NOW, and The Salvation Army 1-800-SAL-ARMY. N. Z. Bear is organizing a blogbugst tomorrow.
Update Maria sent a link to The Humane Society rescue effort.
Update 2 Babalú Blog takes the initiative:

Therefore, Babalú will not offer any new posts, any new entries, any new writing, any new content whatsoever until these relief organizations have received at least 100 donations from Babalú readers.

Update 3: A quick reminder that the American Red Cross has nothing to do with the policies of the International Committee of the Red Cross and has in fact withheld funds from the ICRC to protest its blatantly biased agenda.

Foreign humanitarian aid?
(The remaining of this post might sound rather angry — but not quite as angry as him — so you might want to skip to the next post.)

Where is the foreign humanitarian aid, you may ask. Chrenkoff points out that about the only country offering help is Venezuela:

Chavez said fuel could be sent to the United States via a Citgo refinery that has not been affected by the hurricane. Citgo is owned by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

Maybe we should take him up on it. If it’s handled well from a PR point of view, it could be a win-win situation. There’s much to be said for the positive side of having the USA receiving help, not just giving it as it always does. At the same time, if we do take up Hugo on his offer, maybe we should also not be surprised if a few Venezuelans (and Cuban medics that might come along) might want to stay after their job is done. After all, as Val points out, there’s a real-estate boom in Miami from Venezuelans buying property.
Update: Via Babalú commenter A.M. Mora y Leon, Venezuelan oil state firm Pdvsa’s refining branch in the United States Citgo Wednesday offered a USD 1 million donation to contribute to rescue operations

Of course there’s the blame game
At least Hugo has refrained (so far) from kicking the US while it’s down, unlike Germany’s environment minister who

hinted Tuesday that Americans were to blame for Hurricane Katrina due to the U.S. refusal to cut greenhouse gases which many experts say cause global warming.

Not to be outdone, Robert Kennedy Jr. blamed the GOP.

This is a variation of Castro’s 45-yr-old approach to natural disasters. All my life I’ve been reading reports of hurricane after hurricane having been officially blamed by Castro on the Americans, and I’m old enough that I remember people in the 1970s wondering if there was another ice age coming. Global warming hadn’t even been invented yet. Fidel must have been a man ahead of his time.

Rich Lowry writes about Katrina Conceit: Global warming and Mother Nature

Has global warming increased the frequency of hurricanes? One of the nation’s foremost hurricane experts, William Gray, points out that if global warming is at work, cyclones should be increasing not just in the Atlantic but elsewhere, in the West Pacific, East Pacific, and the Indian Ocean. They aren’t. The number of cyclones per year worldwide fluctuates pretty steadily between 80 and 100. There’s actually been a small overall decline in tropical cyclones since 1995, and Atlantic hurricanes declined from 1970 to 1994, even as the globe was heating up.

It seems that Atlantic hurricanes come in spurts, or as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts it in more technical language, “a quasi-cyclic multi-decade regime that alternates between active and quiet phases.” The late 1920s through the 1960s were active; the 1970s to early 1990s quiet; and since 1995 — as anyone living in Florida or Gulfport, Miss., can tell you — seems to be another active phase.

But if hurricanes aren’t more frequent, are they more powerful? Warm water fuels hurricanes, so the theory is that as the ocean’s surface heats up, hurricanes will pack more punch. An article in Nature — after questionable jiggering with the historical wind data — argues that hurricanes have doubled in strength because of global warming. Climatologist Patrick Michaels counters that if hurricanes had doubled in their power it would be obvious to everyone and there would be no need to write controversial papers about it.

Indeed, if you adjust for population growth and skyrocketing property values, hurricanes don’t appear to be any more destructive today. According to the work of Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado, of the top five most destructive storms this century, only one occurred after 1950 — Hurricane Andrew in 1992. An NOAA analysis says there have been fewer Category 4 storms throughout the past 35 years than would have been expected given 20th-century averages.

Maybe New Orleans will rebuild. All I know is that it’s a lot more likely that New Orleans will rebuild than it is that some pseudo-environmentalists will, as Lowry said, give up their “conceit that is oddly comforting: that whatever is wrong with the world is caused by us and fixable by us. Alas, it’s not so.”

Also posted at Love America First
(technorati tags )

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

The Cotillion was on, bad weather and all
so it’s time to read!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Top 10 conspiracies at the NYSun
Top 10 Arab and Iranian Conspiracies, but, if you want the condensed version, everything “is all the fault of the Americans and the Joos”.

Just yesterday Sigmund, Carl and Alfred discussed Democracy, Freedom, Events, and Experiences:

Contrast these ideas with totalitarian regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere. They are bogged down by the past, reminding us and themselves of former glories while they waste away their present and future, going nowhere. A recent UN report on the state of education in the world placed the Arab countries at the bottom of the list, only above sub Saharan Africa in terms of quality of education. Given that there aren’t that many schools in sub Saharan Africa to begin with, the distinction of not being at the bottom of the list is moot. Did that result in any outrage in Arab society? Hardly. It was ignored.

In totalitarian regimes, life is an orchestrated event, scripted by a government- lived until the death of the leader and new script is handed down.

One pundit wrote something to the effect that Arabs feel humiliated. Not because they can’t read, have real no real economies and have to send their kids to the west to get educated– that was no cause for shame, mind you– but because they see themselves as victims of a conspiracy by the west to hold them back.

The response? A few months ago, Syria came out with it’s new Five Year Plan. Remember those?

Plus ca change, plus ca reste la meme. These regimes are incapable of dealing with reality.

These regimes never accept blame or accountability. Abu Ghraib was met with outrage at the same time far greater horrors occur everyday at home. It is lost on much of the Arab world that we deal with our problems– and they don’t.

Why is it so? Well, these regimes and societies, in their hubris, see the world in an ‘us vs them’ framework, as was mentioned earlier. They never make mistakes and thus are never responsible or accountable. We, who live in democracies and commit to and demand, an always better society, are looked down upon– after all, it is only we who make and correct our mistakes.

Dr. Sanity looks at Delaying Tactics

When belief in any idea become a matter of faith–and one’s own identity is defined by that faith–then the psyche will do anything necessary to distort or deny any truth that contradicts that belief.

On a related subject, don’t miss Sigmund, Carl and Alfred’s What it all means, Parenting and what it all means:

Survival in such a culture necessitates some numbing. But this psychological component might be insignificant relative to the neurobiological effects of being beaten and tortured in childhood. It was Harvard researchers who first revealed that stress hormones released when children experience physical and sexual abuse actually impede development of that part of the brain responsible for empathy and conscience.

Brain scans of those who suffered through events common in the childhood of Palestinian children reveal an underdeveloped hippocampus and vermis. Among the behaviors associated with this sort of brain damage: impulsivity, sadism, and suicide. It is almost too frightening to consider that Israel today faces a population many of whom are hardwired for the sort of violence we have been witnessing.

More terrifying is the long-term prognosis for Palestinian society. Martin Teicher, a lead researcher in the Harvard study, reports that sadistic parents neurobiologically infect their children with the same trait: Society reaps what it sows in the way it nurtures its children.

Read it all.

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Irán a Irán [*]

Lauding the resistance of the Cuban nation to the hegemonic policies of the US, Rafsanjani said President Fidel Castro is regarded as an impressive character in contemporary history and his presence on the political scene has left a double impacts on the anti-imperialism spirit of the Cuban nation.

(If only the mullahs would hire a better translator. But I digress.) Some of that “anti-imperialism spirit of the Cuban nation” might be looking at Iran’s promising nuclear future,

Iran has made a new breakthrough in its controversial nuclear program, successfully using biotechnology to extract larger and cheaper quantities of uranium concentrate from its mines, state television reported

which involves Venezuela, at least as long as Hugo coughs up the dough for all.

The Iranian president gives a sign: Iran’s President Reappoints Nuclear Chief

Iran’s president reinstated Gholamreza Aghazadeh as head of Iran’s nuclear program on Monday, a clear sign to the Europeans and Washington not to expect a change of course under the country’s new leadership.
. . .
Iran renewed its uranium reprocessing activities at a plant in central city of Isfahan earlier this month after rejecting a European proposal to give up its uranium enrichment program in return for economic incentives. Aghazadeh called the offer a “joke.”

Just the same day as the Cuban ambassador to Tehran was meeting with the Iranian Chairman of the Expediency (what does a Chairman of the Expediency do?) Chirac says Iran must halt nuclear activities, or he’ll taunt them a second time.

Back in our hemisphere, the Boston Globe touts wonders of Cuba’s “free universal healthcare” (via Babalu in an article written by Indira Lakshmanan. Maybe the Globe should send Ms Lakshmanan to South Africa to interview some of the students who came back from Cuba (emphasis mine):

Spokesperson Mpho Gabashane said the programme wasn’t always financially viable and that only 12 of the 23 students sent to Cuba in 1997 and 1998 were working at state hospitals in the province.
. . .
The feast was a real treat for the students, who have lived on mainly vegetarian fare for the past three years.

“In Cuba we always eat rice and beans, no meat,” said Africa Manzini.

He said the students had spent the holiday trying to catch up with all the new developments in South Africa, especially the technological advances like those in the cellphone industry.

South Africa has been spending R35,000/year/student ($5,421.99). A Cuban doctor makes $20/month.

I wonder how much moolah all these mullah meetings are costing.

[*] Indulging in my love of puns, this means “to Iran they’ll go”.

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

The Port of Southern Louisiana
TigerHawk has a post on Katrina: The geopolitical significance of the Port of Southern Louisiana

The Port of Southern Louisiana is the fifth-largest port in the world in terms of tonnage, and the largest port in the United States. The only global ports larger are Singapore, Rotterdam, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It is bigger than Houston, Chiba and Nagoya, Antwerp and New York/New Jersey. It is a key link in U.S. imports and exports and critical to the global economy.

Read it all.

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Bad news from Norway
Mountain romance a pain: In Norway the “peaks in autumn have become the country’s hottest meeting place for those looking to find a partner”

Half-drunk men dropping sexual hints and resorting to vulgar body language often ruin the pastoral calm at hotels nestled in the mountains.
. . .
Young boys most also tolerate unwanted sexual attention, especially from middle-aged women.

Maybe it’s the sweaters.

In more serious matters, Arhtur’s got Good news from Iraq, part 34

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Luskin has no mercy
again, and again (Just that day I was linking to a study that said that the Norwegians, despite their beautiful natural surroundings, oil fortune and having the country ranked as the best place in the world to live, are the saddest people in the Nordic region.)

Monday, August 29th, 2005

International pictures
The Zimbawean Pundit writes about The (re)colonization of Zimbabwe, and Death (of a nation) by constitution. While I disagree with Zimpundit’s position that “colonialism is a failure proof way to economic success”, since colonialism failed not only Spain, the land of my ancestors, but basically every European colonial power, Zimpundit’s shedding some light on China’s interest in African mining, and the fact is that the proposed constitutional ammendment — which will effectively eradicate property rights — has been ignored by the international press.

Protests in Venezuela turned nasty — and Aleksander Boyd asks Are foreign journalists on the take?. But not to worry, [Jesse] Jackson tries to soothe Venezuela leader by visiting Chavez’s weekly TV program. China’s been busy in Venezuela, too, with an oil deal. Property rights in Venezuela are soon becoming a thing of the past.

Maybe it all comes down to Global Strategic Positioning, or GSP.

One Free Korea’s hosting today’s Carnival of the Revolutions, with lots more on China, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and the rest of the world.

No Bad Hair Blog international news list would be complete without an item on France in general and Sarkozy in particular, so here you have it: The photographer, the minister, his wife and her ‘lover’. Mrs. Sarko and her boyfriend were featured on the cover of Paris Match but the cover photo is decorous and avoids a Fergie-toe moment. The Telegraph, however, points out the rather obvious,

publication of the photographs has raised suspicions of a political dirty tricks campaign

You don’t say.

Also in Paris Match, a lengthy and rather complaisant (read: dhimmi) article announces Pas de Fatwa pour les transsexuels [No fatwa against transsexuals], featuring the lovely Athena, who recently completed her sex change. To me, the most telling phrase of the article is Athena’s father saying

“C’était inacceptable pour moi, mon seul fils ! Je l’ai battu jusqu’au jour où il a tenté de se suicider. Ensuite, il a fallu que les médecins m’expliquent qu’il n’était pas homosexuel pour que j’accepte l’opération.”
(my translation:)
“It was unacceptable to me, my only son! I beat him every day until he tried to commit suicide. Then, it was necessary that the doctors explain to me that he wasn’t homosexual so I could accept the operation”

My heart goes out to Athena, and I pray her decision was the right one.

Monday, August 29th, 2005

A war to be proud of
While today will probably be all-hurricane, all the time, Mr. Snitch! examines censorship, general ridicule, poor choice of administrators, allegations that republicans created the war, and some other matters brought up by the Bad press for the President.

Mark Steyn ponders hurricane coverage:

Iraqi nation-building coverage is like one almighty cable-news Hurricane Ahmed. The network correspondents climb into their oilskins and waders and wrap themselves round a lamppost on the boardwalk and insist that civil war’s about to make landfall any minute now, devastating the handover/elections/constitution. But it never does. Hurricane Ahmed is simply the breezy back and forth of healthy politicking.

It’s Hitchens, however, who brings light by noticing this is A War to Be Proud Of:

Just say plainly that we shall fight them everywhere they show themselves, and fight them on principle as well as in practice, and get ready to warn people that Nigeria is very probably the next target of the jihadists. The peaceniks love to ask: When and where will it all end? The answer is easy: It will end with the surrender or defeat of one of the contending parties. Should I add that I am certain which party that ought to be? Defeat is just about imaginable, though the mathematics and the algebra tell heavily against the holy warriors. Surrender to such a foe, after only four years of combat, is not even worthy of consideration.
. . .
In logic and morality, one must therefore compare the current state of the country with the likely or probable state of it had Saddam and his sons been allowed to go on ruling.

At once, one sees that all the alternatives would have been infinitely worse, and would most likely have led to an implosion–as well as opportunistic invasions from Iran and Turkey and Saudi Arabia, on behalf of their respective interests or confessional clienteles. This would in turn have necessitated a more costly and bloody intervention by some kind of coalition, much too late and on even worse terms and conditions. This is the lesson of Bosnia and Rwanda yesterday, and of Darfur today. When I have made this point in public, I have never had anyone offer an answer to it. A broken Iraq was in our future no matter what, and was a responsibility (somewhat conditioned by our past blunders) that no decent person could shirk. The only unthinkable policy was one of abstention.

Two pieces of good fortune still attend those of us who go out on the road for this urgent and worthy cause. The first is contingent: There are an astounding number of plain frauds and charlatans (to phrase it at its highest) in charge of the propaganda of the other side. Just to tell off the names is to frighten children more than Saki ever could: Michael Moore, George Galloway[*], Jacques Chirac, Tim Robbins, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson . . . a roster of gargoyles that would send Ripley himself into early retirement. Some of these characters are flippant, and make heavy jokes about Halliburton, and some disdain to conceal their sympathy for the opposite side. So that’s easy enough.

The second bit of luck is a certain fiber displayed by a huge number of anonymous Americans. Faced with a constant drizzle of bad news and purposely demoralizing commentary, millions of people stick out their jaws and hang tight. I am no fan of populism, but I surmise that these citizens are clear on the main point: It is out of the question–plainly and absolutely out of the question–that we should surrender the keystone state of the Middle East to a rotten, murderous alliance between Baathists and bin Ladenists.
. . .
We need not argue about the failures and the mistakes and even the crimes, because these in some ways argue themselves. But a positive accounting could be offered without braggartry, and would include:

(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi’s Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction–a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.

(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.

(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schröder, when confronted with irrefutable evidence of cheating and concealment, respecting solemn treaties, on the part of Iran, that not even this will alter their commitment to neutralism. (One had already suspected as much in the Iraqi case.)

(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.

(7) The immense gains made by the largest stateless minority in the region–the Kurds–and the spread of this example to other states.

(8) The related encouragement of democratic and civil society movements in Egypt, Syria, and most notably Lebanon, which has regained a version of its autonomy.

(9) The violent and ignominious death of thousands of bin Ladenist infiltrators into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real prospect of greatly enlarging this number.

(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.

Hitchens concludes with “If the great effort to remake Iraq as a demilitarized federal and secular democracy should fail or be defeated, I shall lose sleep for the rest of my life in reproaching myself for doing too little. But at least I shall have the comfort of not having offered, so far as I can recall, any word or deed that contributed to a defeat.”

There’s only one thing to keep in mind during any war: we must WIN.

[*] Via Commoner Sense, Wednesday, September 14, 7:00 pm, Baruch College Performing Arts Center: GEORGE GALLOWAY AND CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS DEBATE THE WAR IN IRAQ.