Archive for January, 2006

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Two articles on the Palestinian elections
When People Freely Choose Tyranny, It’s still a loser

But the desire for freedom, as the fear of freedom, is universal, and most human beings will fight for freedom when the time is right.

And that’s the nub of the question, I think. The time is not always right, and history is full of examples of romantic democrats losing everything by fighting desperately when they had no real chance of success. But today the time is right. Ours is a moment characterized by radical change, when tyrants feel threatened, when freedom is advancing, and revolution is the defining characteristic of international affairs. John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Lech Walesa, and the others all understood that, which is why Reagan was able to announce that the evil empire’s days were numbered, and why John Paul told his followers “be not afraid.”

Why Hamas Leaves Me Neutral

The strong Hamas victory, wrote Steven Plaut of Haifa University, is “the only thing that stands a chance of forcing Israelis to open their eyes and wake up.” Its ascent might conceivably wake others up, too; will Spain’s blinkered government note the recent call by a Hamas children’s publication for the city of Seville to be returned to Muslim rule?

Possibly. But I hold out meager hope that Hamas in power will provide a reality check. The “peace process” community will not give up its cherished negotiations just because a murderous totalitarian organization has been elected. As has inexorably been the case since 1993, it will ignore this setback and press ahead for more Israeli concessions.

Neo-neocon asks Why is this man the senior foreign correspondent at a major newspaper[*]? when he sees the recent Hamas victory as a chance for Europe to try its more nuanced approach to the Middle East conflict. I’m sure even more Israeli concessions will be part of the nuance.

Update The Daily Ablution has more on [*] The Guardian’s Terror Apologia of the Month

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Mock trial on Bush, Blair, and Sharon
featuring such luminaries as Giuliana Sgrena and George Galloway, to be held in Cairo. Gateway Pundit has the details.

All it’s missing is Michael Moore.

Gates of Vienna asks,

Does this sound familiar? Are we not once again in the Senate basement with the Democrats holding their mock impeachment of Bush a few months ago? Amazing parallel in the mind sets of these two groups, isn’t there?

After all, why pay attention to WMD Disclosures that Will Not Be to the Liking of Terrorists, of Saddamists, and… of the West’s Bush- and America-Bashers, when there’s the mock trial?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Brain patterns, the good marathon, today’s articles, and 24
Scientific brain linked to autism This is an interesting finding, but most interesting is that

In a paper published in the journal Archives of Disease of Childhood, Professor Baron-Cohen labels people such as scientists, mathematicians and engineers as ‘systemizers’.

They are skilled at analysing systems – whether it be a vehicle, or a maths equation – to figure out how they work.

On January 19 I speculated that the brains of technologically-talented people learn in ways that are not addressed by current school curricula. Maybe I’m right.

The good marathon: the Marathon du Médoc. Six hours to walk twenty-six miles of wine, gourmet snacks, and if you win, your weight in wine. And on time for my birthday, too. Hmm.

Other bloggers emailed
Senate Votes to End Debate on Alito Nomination
Sexy Priest Blesses Using Coke Light – Time For Christian Jihad?

” It is an insult to those who died to tell the American people that the organization posing the greatest threat to their liberty is not al Qaeda but the FBI.”
Our Right to Security
The sister of the pilot of AA flight 77 writes

Three weeks before 9/11, an FBI agent with the bin Laden case squad in New York learned that al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi were in this country. He pleaded with the national security gatekeepers in Washington to launch a nationwide manhunt and was summarily told to stand down. When the FISA Court of Review tore down the wall in 2002, it included in its ruling the agent’s Aug. 29, 2001, email to FBI headquarters: “Whatever has happened to this–someday someone will die–and wall or not–the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain problems. Let’s hope the National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decisions then, especially since the biggest threat to us now, [bin Laden], is getting the most ‘protection.’”

Read it all.
Dr. Sanity looks at the Blatantly Contradictory Media

Maria’s articles
Maria manages to find dozens of articles, and today she sent us,
The WaPo finds a study that says Republicans are racist: Study Ties Political Leanings to Hidden Biases

That study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did.

My experience as a Hispanic woman has been that Republicans are a great deal more open-minded to minorities’ capabilities and have higher expectations of what minorities can accomplish by their own work, than Democrats. Sigmund, Carl and Alfred ask a few questions.
Update: Michelle Malkin‘s commenter Charles M. looks at methodology.

Dr. Sowell advices the Republicn party to support Black conservatives: Republicans and blacks

It is not rocket science to see that whatever chances the Republicans have of making inroads into the black vote are likely to be better among more conservative blacks.

Black religious groups opposed to abortion or homosexual marriage are an obvious group to try to reach. So are black business owners or military veterans.

Does anyone think that President Bush’s awarding a Medal of Freedom to Muhammad Ali was likely to appeal to such groups? Yet this continues a pattern in which Republicans have tried to approach black voters from the left.

We knew that already, but now it’s official: Ted Kennedy Disgraced Himself. The article’s author is former chief counsel of the House Judiciary Committee and a lifelong Democrat.

The first Russian film based on a novel by the Soviet-era dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn has been shown on Russian state television.: Solzhenitsyn in Russia film first

On a lighter vein,
Blogs4Bauer liveblogged and TiVo’d. What Would Jack Bauer Do?
Because it’s a hoot to watch a cliff hanger based on the WOT where the basic premise is that the only outside enemies the USA has are those the USA creates.

The writers needed a love note so they have Audrey call Jack in the middle of a national emergency to ask him if he loved her. We all know how that conversation would have gone in real life, don’t we?

Update: More on 24 from Dave Barry and his 400 visitors.
Update 2Commenter Jaybear:

Frankly, I was disappointed on a number of fronts last night….the whole thing about setting up a WMD situation, to justify our middle east position, seems to be playing to the viewers who are looking for something to watch now that Commander in Chief and West Wing have been scrapped….you know, hook ‘em with a good BushHitlerCheneyHalliburtonBigOilEnron conspiracy theory….

If this sort of soft shoe leaning to the left continues, I’m renting the 24 first season DVD’s and forgetting about this season.

And this business of the girlfriend calling in the middle of an assignment has to stop.

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Monday, January 30th, 2006

Venezuelan prisons, Bolivia, and Cuba
Saturday I was reading the following at The Economist on Venezuela’s Prisons: Efforts to humanise a hellhole

Venezuela’s jails, say prison-reform groups, have long been among the worst. On an average day, at least one prisoner dies violently, the result of overcrowding, the availability of drugs and guns, and a poorly trained and understaffed prison service. “If you don’t have a CHUZO (a handmade knife), you can’t survive in prison,” said Jesus Adirio Quiroz, an inmate.
. . .
The prisons, admits the interior minister, Jesse Chacon, “are warehouses for people”. Since Mr Chavez took office in 1999, eight interior ministers and 12 prisons’ directors have failed to stop the system from getting worse. That is now set to change, according to the “humanisation” team set up by Lieut-Colonel Erling Rojas, an army officer who is the new prisons director.

And who did Hugo call for help? Sweden, maybe? Denmark, perchance?

Hugo called Fidel (emphasis mine):

Helped by hundreds of volunteers and several dozen Cuban advisers, the team spent six weeks interviewing prisoners.

Long-term readers of this blog are familiar with my posts on Cuban prisons, from the mass killings directed (and conducted) by Che, to the latrine-like dungeons where political prisoners are kept.

Just another step into Cubazuela.

But we shouldn’t be surprised, since Chavez praised mullahs’ regime of Iran as an “outstanding model”


Chavez, in his acceptance speech, praised Iran as an “outstanding model” in the struggle against US imperialism, and said “the Iranian nation’s historical defeat of imperialism in the 20th century through the leadership of (the late) Imam Khomeini had made it possible for them to take control of their own resources.” “The imperialist US is against Iran because Iranians now control their own strategic resources and potentials,” said the president, who assured Iranians that Venezuelans were with them in their strugge.

Chavez, who distinctively called Sobhani the “special guest” in the ceremony, praised the “great” Iranian nation which, he said, is currently facing great pressure in the face of US ire.

In that, Hugo’s reading straight from Fidel’s script, as Cuba calls for enhanced ties with Iran. Bolivia’s Evo has been listening, and following his swearing in ceremony, the Chairman of the [Iranian] Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Borujerdi said that appointing a separate ambassador for Bolivia is one of the measures to be taken as soon as possible in order to develop bilateral ties (emphasis mine):

Morales had expressed hope that following the promotion of diplomatic relations between Iran and Bolivia, La Paz would also benefit from Iran’s potential in different technical and engineering fields as well as in the oil and gas sectors.

The Economist reports that Evo offers a Radical cabinet, ambiguous message.

Maria Anastasia O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal (Friday Jan. 27, by subscription) is not as subtle describing the Axis of Evo

The most tragic aspect of Evo’s decision to let Cuba and Venezuela annex his country is where this all leads for the majority Indian population in one of the region’s poorest countries. Their hopes soared on Sunday as they watched one fo their own, from humble beginnings, sworn into the highest office in the land. They no doubt think that Evo — who rose to power by leading coca growers against crop eradication pushed by U. S. drug warriors — will care for his own in ways that the white, upper-class leadership never did. But Fidel long ago destroyed underclass hopes for a better life and Hugo is doing the same.

After six years of Chavez, Venezuelans, once ecstatic about their Bolivarian Revolution, are sinking deeper into poverty. Fidel’s largely Afro-Cuban population is destitute after almost 50 years of El Máximo Lider.

Not everything’s going to hell on a handbasket – in Cuba, there’s a new TV channel,

This station, with an informative and cultural profile, is included in the country´s efforts to raise the intellectual and educational level of all Cubans

Fidel gets CNN, though.

In a lighter vein,
The wall of impotence is coming right along in Havana. Val has the details.

I can’t wait for Fidel to finish the current construction project so the Americans can move the sign to the other side of the building.

Update Living in the epicenter of nihilism in Latin America While I disagree with the author since I believe that the Latin American countries themselves are responsible for their own situations, it’s an interesting article.

Update 2 Bear Baiting Revisited: Venezuela and Iran, on Hugo’s threat to ‘lock up’ US spies.

Update 3 Don’t miss Iran Roundup: January 30, 2006 at Philomathean.

Update 4: Run, Cindy, run!

More here, here, and here

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Monday, January 30th, 2006

Tagged by Lost Budgie, VDH, Camp Katrina, and today’s articles

At the blogs:
Lost Budgie tagged me to put up a “Buy Danish” story:

Last Fall, Denmark’s largest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, published twelve cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as part of a movement to ensure free speech in a secular society.

Now Islamists are calling for a world-wide boycott of Danish products and rewards have (of course) been offered for the murder of the artists.

One large dairy company is being specifically targeted: Arla Foods. Many Saudi stores are now refusing to carry the products or are labeling them “Danish” on the shelves.

Read more at Lost Budgie: Cartoon Jihad: Buy Danish – Fight Dhimmitude. ¡No Pasarán! has a post on Danes currently under cyber-attack.
Here’s a site listing companies that sell products made in Denmark, and a site showing available holiday home rentals, but you can make a modest start by checking out food products at the supermarket.

Switzerland – World Economic Forum Chairman Sends Apology To Lost Budgie Blog.

Phil tells us that, in addition to categorizing humanitarian military stories by location, Camp Katrina now organizes by the type of humanitarian work, as well. Listed on the right-sidebar: Medical Care and Supplies, Care for Kids and Schools, Road Work, Water and Sewers, Power and Infrastructure, Earthquake Relief, Floods, Fires, Hurricanes, and Animal Assistance.

Stop the ACLU remembers the Challenger: 7 New Stars In the Heavens

Victor Davis Hanson deconstructs bin Laden’s talking points

Because nothing says “Good Morning!” like blaming Bush for 300 years of disastrous Haitian history,
Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos
and an article on the NYT’s NSA leaks, from Maria.

The Sunday Book Review had a hilarious book review by Garrison Keillor of Bernard-Henri Levy’s American Vertigo

there’s nobody here whom you recognize. In more than 300 pages, nobody tells a joke. Nobody does much work. Nobody sits and eats and enjoys their food. You’ve lived all your life in America, never attended a megachurch or a brothel, don’t own guns, are non-Amish, and it dawns on you that this is a book about the French. There’s no reason for it to exist in English, except as evidence that travel need not be broadening and one should be wary of books with Tocqueville in the title.

Maria’s articles
Speaking of the French, Chirac tricked by Canadian hoax

French President Jacques Chirac thought he had taken a call on Friday from the new Canadian prime minister – but found himself the victim of a radio hoax.

Google: Enemy of freedom

The anatomy of Hamas’s victory, by Caroline Glick.

Meanwhile, in the USA,
Paul Jacob explains how It’s the power, stupid

The problem of a corrupt Congress is compounded by three bigger problems:
1. Congress has effectively escaped citizen control,
2. Congress has far too much power, and
3. Congress will use this scandal not to clean up its act but to further entrench itself.

Carnival #37
Hosted by Friend of Fausta’s Blog and guest blogger SmadaNek, complete with statistical analysis.

Enlighten-Carnival-small

Dr. Sanity’s got the Carnival of the Insanities,


Want this badge?

Right Wing Nut House is hosting the CARNIVAL OF THE CLUELESS #31: THE “WHAT WOULD JACK BAUER DO?” EDITION

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Saturday, January 28th, 2006

Paypal fraudsters operating from Berkeley University
Aleksander Boyd of VCrisis reports,

In the last few days I have received some emails, purportedly from Paypal, requesting that I “reactivate my Paypal account.” The email is an exact copy of those that one would expect to receive from Paypal, it even has a remark stressing “identity protection matters,” and right next to it a link that states “Get Verified!” Once one clicks on it, it redirects to http://www.thursdayla.com/updates/us/webscr.php?cmd=LogIn. As readers can see the URL does not even contain the word paypal in it. So since it’s Saturday morning and I’m a bit bored I got to do a little digging.

The email was sent out of Berkeley University servers [mvz18.MVZ.Berkeley.EDU (128.32.146.140)] by john@support.mvz.berkeley.edu.

The domain thursdayla.com was registered by Alex Man, who gave false information and put the same date for the creation, registration and expiry of the domain.

Hopefully Paypal and Berkeley University will investigate this matter further. The problem is that many people around the world fell for the Nigerian internet scam, surely some will fall for this one too. The advice to recipients of suspicious emails allegedly from Paypal is simple: if the url/domain does not contain the word Paypal, take no further action and report it.

Tell a friend, too.

Friday, January 27th, 2006

City University of New York, and “pondering rude words”
Betsy posts on an article from The Economist I read a couple of days ago, Higher education and the poor: Rebuilding the American dream machine. A parable of elitism in universities about City University of New York

What went wrong? Put simply, City dropped its standards. It was partly to do with demography, partly to do with earnest muddleheadedness. In the 1960s, universities across the country faced intense pressure to admit more minority students. Although City was open to all races, only a small number of black and Hispanic students passed the strict tests (including a future secretary of state, Colin Powell). That, critics decided, could not be squared with City’s mission to “serve all the citizens of New York”. At first the standards were tweaked, but this was not enough, and in 1969 massive student protests shut down City’s campus for two weeks. Faced with upheaval, City scrapped its admissions standards altogether. By 1970, almost any student who graduated from New York’s high schools could attend.

The quality of education collapsed. At first, with no barrier to entry, enrolment climbed, but in 1976 the city of New York, which was then in effect bankrupt, forced CUNY to impose tuition fees. An era of free education was over, and a university which had once served such a distinct purpose joined the muddle of America’s lower-end education.

By 1997, seven out of ten first-year students in the CUNY system were failing at least one remedial test in reading, writing or maths (meaning that they had not learnt it to high-school standard). A report commissioned by the city in 1999 concluded that “Central to CUNY’s historic mission is a commitment to provide broad access, but its students’ high drop-out rates and low graduation rates raise the question: ‘Access to what?’ ”

I had a small taste of the very low standards at the CUNY of the early 1990s.

Back then I volunteered as Spanish reader for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (years ago when it was Recording for the Blind), and had to read a grammar book written by a CUNY professor for his own students. It was, to put it mildly, god-awful. For starters, he didn’t believe in making students learn to write the written accent, since the rules might confuse them. Verb use was left to the student’s convenience (since all those Spanish verb conjugations are too much to handle in one semester). To make it even worse, he encouraged using Spanish-like forms of English words instead of the correct Spanish word, which is linguistically atrocious. Recording that textbook was at times hilarious, but mostly ridiculous, irritating, and exasperating.

The CUNY professor was teaching CUNY students who came from the Barrio.

The students from the Barrio had learned Spanish from parents of humble means, most of which (the students and their parents) had not benefited from a good education, and whose Spanish was faulty to begin with. The form of Spanish they spoke is commonly referred to as espangish (not capitalized because in Spanish the names of languages are not capitalized).

There’s an espanglish story (I don’t know if it’s true) about Nobel Prize winner Camilo José Cela that illustrates what happens when you speak espanglish: Cela, who was a stylist — with a reputation for foul language, and did a whole dictionary of forbidden words — once was visiting the Barrio, and struck a conversation with a guy who delivered groceries. Cela asked the man, in Spanish, “and, how do you make a living?”
to which the man, whose espanglish would have been reinforced at the CUNY class, replied, “Me paso el día deliberando groserías”, meaning to say, “I spend my days delivering groceries”, but actually saying, “I spend the day pondering rude words”.
Cela heartily congratulated him on his choice of work.

But I digress. According to the information in the book I read at RFB&D, the Spanish course was an elective, for students who came from Spanish-speaking families but needed a remedial course. The textbook I read wasn’t a remedy; it was a reinforcement of every bad habit the students had learned.

Spanish is a deceptively simple language to learn. After all, you read exactly what’s written on the page. The written accent tells you where to place the stress on the word, unlike, for instance, French. What’s hard about Spanish is learning to use the correct form of addressing the other person, including the usage of the proper verb tense and the appropriate vocabulary. A person who knows how to appropriately use the language in a social context distinguishes him/herself socially, which, in turn, translates into a higher social standing. This is the case, of course, in any language.

The professor, by lowering his standards so the students wouldn’t have too much hardship, was condemning his students to sounding like ignoramuses. Their peers talked like that, which was fine with him, but anywhere else where educated Spanish speakers would meet them, the students’ ignorance would exclude them, no matter what it said on their CUNY diploma. The bigotry of this professor’s low expectations wasn’t deadly, just damming. As The Husband said when he read the article, it was all based on the premise that it was the diploma that was valuable, not the knowledge behind the diploma.

I don’t know if the professor who wrote the book is still there, but I certainly hope he’s improved his (and his students’) skills. The Economist article states that

higher standards have attracted more students, not fewer. . . There are also anecdotal signs that CUNY is once again picking up bright locals, especially in science.
. . .
For all its imperfections, CUNY’s model of low tuition and high standards offers a different approach.

As Betsy says, there’s a lesson there.

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Friday, January 27th, 2006

Um Nidal, death cult monster, and now elected official
Monday I said that no one personifies better the death cult of Palestinian politics better than Um Nidal. As expected, she got elected

Wilf Dinnick: “It doesn’t matter that she has no political experience. Palestinians voted for Miriam Farahat because she’s made astonishing sacrifices in her quest to destroy Israel. Farahat has sent three of her six sons on suicide missions. That’s why her supporters call her Um Nidal, the ‘Mother of the Struggle.’ In this Hamas video, she shows her 17-year-old how to attack Israelis. Just hours later, he shot and killed five students in this Jewish settlement. Then, he was killed himself. ‘I love my children,’ she says, ‘but, as Muslims, we sacrifice our emotions to build a nation for the Palestinian people.’ Wherever she campaigned, people said it was the way she gave up her children for her nation, with no tears, that won their support. And this week they rewarded her with their votes.

“Now that Um Nidal has been elected to the Palestinian parliament, the question is: Will she end her violent campaign against Israel? Today, she vowed to do whatever Hamas asks of her. ‘I am ready to serve,’ she says. And if that means sacrificing her three remaining sons, Um Nidal says she’s willing. Wilf Dinnick, ABC News, Gaza.”

Shrinkwrapped and Sigmund Carl and Alfred weigh in on the election. As Alexandra said,

The Palestinian elections have amounted to deciding which one of the terrorist parties the Palestinians will vote for. Which method of killing do the Palestinians prefer? Disgraceful.

Hamas is the Palestinian Nazi Party. Is that what you want to continue funding, Jimmy?

Newsday refers to Um Nidal as The changing face of Hamas. The face of a monster.

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Friday, January 27th, 2006

The National Sex Offender Registry,
plus New Diplomacy, Dr. Krauthammer’s brother, more on boys and books, and today’s articles from Maria

The National Sex Offender Registry
allows you to do a search of your neighborhood. Enter your address at The National Sex Offender Registry and see the results.

New Diplomacy, Dr. Krauthammer’s brother, more on boys and books, and today’s articles from Maria
Condi Challenges “Old Diplomacy”. Dr. Rice is

transforming the outlook and modus operandi of an entrenched Foreign Service bureaucracy.

Here’s one instance of her changes.

Dr. Krauthammer’s brother
died last week. Dr. K. honors him.

More on boys and books
Maria sent this article, Can boys really not sit still at school?
Pior posts here and here.

Four facts on the Patriot Act
from Rep. Vito Fossella
If you haven’t read it, here’s my report, USA Patriot Act and Civil Liberties Since 9/11, a lecture

Maria’s articles
The “artistic influence” of the Rosenbergs
Because nothing says performance art like treason: Rosenberg Reruns

The stars of the evening were the novelist E.L. Doctorow and the playwright Tony Kushner.

That Tony Kusner.

Germany agonises over 30% childless women: Highest number in world choose not to have family

Whence Abramoff? The Spend and Collect Beltway Party really knows Jack Both the Republican and Democrat parties are the Beltway Party.

Robot set loose to film your insides. Cool, as long as they don’t shrink the doctors.

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Fausta’s Blogomancy

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I am interested in – do tell me about

via Straight White Guy.