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Showing posts from April, 2009

The croissant and the defeat of the Turks in the siege of Vienna

Rick Beyer's The Greatest War Stories Never Told is full of factoids of interests and this one caught my eye.

The croissant is not French--it was first baked in Austria. And its shape is anything but and accident. The popular pastry dates back to 1683. In that year an army of more than one hundred thousand Ottoman Turks was besieging the city of Vienna. They surrounded it for months, and residents inside the stout walls began to wonder if each day would be their last.

When the Turks tried tunneling under the walls, bakers working through the night heard the digging sounds and raised the alarm. This early warning prevented the Turks from breaching the walls, and helped save the city. Eventually an army from Poland's King John III reached Vienna and drove the Turks away.

The bakers celebrated the end of the siege in a remarkable way. They copied the crescent moon from the enemy flag, and turned it into a commemorative pastry. It was called a Kipfel (German for "crescen…

You know the Democrats are on the wrong side of an issue when ...

The Politico headline says:

Politics ticklish for Dems on Gitmo
The New York Times also looks at the discomfort of placing the terrorist on US soil. This is a loser for the Democrats and Republican leaders are jumping on them for it. John Boehner has created a new ad asking if you feel safer.



In the Times piece Gates says, “What do we do with the 50 to 100 — probably in that ballpark — who we cannot release and cannot try?” I think they should be located in the district of the most liberal members of Congress.

British airline wipes Israel off the map

Times:

Passengers were shocked to discover that Israel had been wiped off the map by Britain’s BMI airline, which omitted the Jewish state from its digital charts on flights from London to Tel Aviv. Neither Jerusalem nor Tel Aviv itself, which is Israel’s largest city, were shown on the airline’s in-flight map. However, the orientation of Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, was displayed on screens as well as the northern Israeli city of Haifa, written as “Khefa” — the city’s Arab name under the British Mandate before the war of independance in 1948. BMI insisted that the map had not been drawn with an anti-Israel or political agenda in mind — rather the aircraft in question were recently bought from a bankrupt charter company that largely flew to Arab countries. “For this reason the in-flight entertainment system in the two planes was made to adapt to the passengers flying to and from those destinations and therefore the map showed mainly places holy to Islam … If BMI had any political a…

Al Qaeda enemy combatant confesses guilt in Illinois

NY Times:

During the nearly six years that Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri spent in isolation in a Navy brig as the last enemy combatant held on United States soil, he denied the government’s charges that he was a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda, his lawyers said. But on Thursday, in a federal courtroom in Peoria, Ill., that denial fell apart when Mr. Marri reached a deal with the government to plead guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda.

In the 20-page plea agreement — which substantially reduced the possible prison sentence against him — Mr. Marri admitted having attended terrorist training camps from 1998 to 2001 and taking courses in the “use of various weapons and basic operational security tradecraft.” He admitted meeting with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was at the time the external operations chief for the Qaeda organization, and “offered his services.” Mr. Mohammed, according to the agreement, told Mr. Marri “to enter the United States no later than Sept. 10, 2001” a…

Taliban hold Pak town hostage

Times:

The thunder of artillery fire echoed in the distance. Helicopters hovered above the mountain where the Taleban fighters were making their last stand. Streams of rickety buses, vans and trucks packed with refugees sped along the road. The new front line in the war against the militants cuts through the village of Chinglai in northwest Pakistan. Yesterday its dusty streets were all but deserted, with just a few old men lingering outside their shattered homes. On Wednesday night the Taleban blew up the police station, forcing frightened residents to flee. “My entire family has left and I am the only one here to look after the house,” said Sher Zaman, a farmer. About 30,000 people are estimated to have fled Buner since the Pakistani Army started its offensive against the Taleban in response to the insurgent advance to within 65 miles of Islamabad, the capital. After moving into the district four weeks ago the Taleban established a reign of terror, killing anyone opposing them. Th…

Two Marines training Afghan army units underfire

NY Times:

Three stone houses and a cluster of sandbagged bunkers cling to a slope above the Korangal Valley, forming an oval perimeter roughly 75 yards long. The oval is reinforced with timber and ringed with concertina wire.

An Afghan flag flutters atop a tower where Afghan soldiers look out, ducking when rifle shots snap by.This is Firebase Vimoto, named for Pfc. Timothy R. Vimoto, an American soldier killed in the valley two years ago. If all goes according to the Pentagon’s plan, this tiny perimeter — home to an Afghan platoon and two Marine Corps infantrymen — contains the future of Afghanistan. The Obama administration hopes that eventually the Afghan soldiers within will become self-sufficient, allowing the fight against the Taliban to be shifted to local hands. For now this vulnerable little land claim — in the hostile village of Babeyal and supported by a network of American infantry positions nearby — offers something else: a fine-grained glimpse inside the Afghan war, and the…

Afghans, Brits wait for US forces in Helmand

Times:

From the Taleban to Afghan families and British soldiers sweltering in the heat, everyone in this part of Helmand is waiting for the Americans. In six weeks, they will arrive in such numbers and force that a long stalemate that has bogged down the British Army in this part of southern Afghanistan could be broken. Whatever the outcome, the Americans’ arrival will change the nature of the conflict radically in this part of the country. The British, in their modest numbers, can patrol only within reach of their bases to avoid the risk of being cut off, and the newly rotated British soldiers of the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment, bedding down in their makeshift fortress homes in the southernmost outposts of Helmand, know that they will soon be pulling out.
In small patrol bases, such as Hassan Abad, they face some of the toughest living conditions for British soldiers anywhere in the world. They sleep in 12-man tents, cope with primitive outdoor washing facilities and eat boil-i…

Iran is still # 1

BBC:

Iran remains the "most active state sponsor of terrorism" in the world, a report by the US state department says.It says Iran's role in the planning and financing of terror-related activities in the Middle East and Afghanistan threatens efforts to promote peace. Al-Qaeda, however, remains the biggest danger to the US and the West, the annual report states. It says that while the number of terror attack around the world is dropping, they are on the increase in Pakistan.
...
Iran's religious bigots are at war with the US and have been for about 30 years. They are also at war with Israel and have hostile intentions toward several Arab states including Egypt. Since they are too weak to confront any of these states directly they do so through terrorism. They have several proxies for war with these countries with Hezballah being a major proxy.

Hezballah drug ring busted in Caribbean

Fausta Blog:

Big Cocaine Gang Allied to Hezbollah Rounded up (h/t GoV; emphasis added)
THE HAGUE, 30/04/09 - In cooperation with various other countries, Dutch authorities have rounded up a big cocaine gang that had links with Hezbollah. Seventeen suspects were arrested on Curacao, the biggest island of the Netherlands Antilles, the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) has revealed. International cooperation between police and judicial services of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles, Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela and the US led to the arrest of the 17 suspects by the Curacao police. They are believed to be part of a drugs and money-laundering organisation with international branches, thought to be responsible for the import and export of at least 2,000 kilos of cocaine per year, according to the OM. “The organisation maintained international contacts with other criminal networks, which in the Middle East support Hezbollah financially”.In this investigation, launched at the beginning …

Taliban hang tough in Dir

Bill Roggio:

The Taliban are in control of much of the northern district of Dir despite claims by senior Pakistani officials that the region was secured after a day's fighting.The Pakistani military operation, which began on April 26, focused on the Madain region in the southern portion of the district of Dir. The Madain region hosts the home town of Sufi Mohammed, the pro-Taliban cleric who is behind the Malakand Accord, the peace agreement that established sharia in Malakand, Dir, Chitral, Swat, Shangla, Buner, and Kohistan and put an end to military operations in Swat."The government's writ seems non-existent for nearly 20km from the southern tip of the district," the BBC reported. Security checkpoints have been abandoned in many regions outside of Timergara, the main city in Lower Dir. The Taliban often patrol the region and establish checkpoints to monitor traffic.The Taliban are in control of the Chakdara-Talash region and the main road that connects Dir to the …

Osprey headed to Afghanistan

Danger Room:

In a briefing yesterday at the Pentagon, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said the controversial V-22 Osprey will soon be deployed to Afghanistan. The Osprey, Conway said, “is purposefully headed towards Afghanistan.”As we reported here previously, the gradual winding down of the mission in Iraq may free up the Osprey for an Afghanistan deployment. The V-22 made its combat debut in Iraq, where it served primarily as a troop transport. Conway praised the Osprey — which takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter, but flies with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft — for its ability to “shrink the battlespace” in Iraq. “One of my commanders in Iraq compared it — being able to turn Texas into a place the size of Rhode Island,” he said.In Afghanistan, the Ospreys will be taking on the job being performed by the Marines’ Vietnam-vintage CH-46 Sea Knight medium-lift helos. The Sea Knight fleet is aging rapidly, and has limitations in its range and power; h…

Obama's war against business

Larry Kudlow:

...

This looks very much like a war against investors, businesses, and entrepreneurs. Shareholder rights are being eviscerated. Political decisions are replacing the rule of law, the rule of bankruptcy courts, and free-market principles.We are witnessing more spending, deficits, and debt-creation than anyone ever imagined. Bailout Nation has run amok. This started under Bush, but Obama is raising the stakes exponentially....All of this will certainly lead to large tax-rate hikes that will rob incentive power from entrepreneurs, investors, and small-business owners. Just look at Britain, where the top tax rate has been raised to 50 percent from 40 percent. The Thatcher Revolution is being repealed over there. Unless current trends are reversed, the Reagan Revolution will be repealed over here.The Obama budget already will raise taxes on overseas corporate earnings and oil-and-gas companies at home. It will elevate taxes on capital gains and dividends for investors and will …

Moral preening

Suzanne Fields:

Evil is never banal. Hanna Arendt was wrong. Evil is fascinating and provocative and focuses the mind. Adolf Eichmann may have been a boring man to know. He may have thought he was merely a bureaucrat following orders, but his acts forever fascinate the human mind in our attempt to understand how he could have done what he did without a conscience, without remorse. What is banal is moral preening by those who judge others who stand up to evil, who judge those who may have been compromised in their human fallibility to fight evil so that others may enjoy the good (life). What's banal are all those pundits and ideologues on the sidelines who only get their hands dirty when they change ink cartridges on their printers. What's banal are all those preeners calling for revenge against those acting in good faith, who did what they believed to be the right action at the time in thwarting evil. What's banal are the men and women who enjoy making those who are less t…

Obama screws the GM bond holders

Opinion Journal:

President Obama insisted at his press conference last night that he doesn't want to nationalize the auto industry (or the banks, or the mortgage market, or . . .). But if that's true, why has he proposed a restructuring plan for General Motors that leaves the government with a majority stake in the car maker?

The feds have decided they should own a neat 50% of GM, yet that is not the natural outcome of the $16.2 billion that the Treasury has so far lent to the company. Nor is the 40% ownership of GM that the plan awards to the United Auto Workers a natural result of the company's obligations to the union.Yet Secretary Timothy Geithner and his auto task force, led by Steven Rattner, have somehow decided that Treasury and UAW chief Ron Gettelfinger will get to own a combined 90% of GM. If there's a reason other than the political symbiosis among the Obama Administration, Michigan Democrats and the auto union, it's hard to discern. From now on let's…

Gov. Perry declares flu disaster

Houston Chronicle:

Hedging on the side of caution after the first U.S. swine flu death in Houston, Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration for Texas on Wednesday to free up more doses of antiviral medication and other federal help as 10 Texas school districts canceled classes and the entire state rescheduled spring competitions. “Texans can be confident that we’re making every effort to stay ahead of the curve to keep them and their families as safe as possible,” Perry said after Houston officials confirmed the death of a 22-month-old boy. Perry, who stressed the state was more than adequately prepared to handle what has all but been declared a pandemic, said the disaster declaration would allow the state to be reimbursed for costs associated with what is also known as the H1N1 virus by the federal government.The World Health Organization on Wednesday increased its pandemic alert to level 5, meaning a “pandemic is imminent.”...The additional 850,000 doses brings to 1.7 million th…

Napolitano focuses on employers, after withdrawing everify

NY Times:

In an effort to crack down on illegal labor, the Department of Homeland Security intends to step up enforcement efforts against employers who knowingly hire such workers.

Under guidelines to be issued Thursday to Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices, agents will be instructed to take aim at employers and supervisors for prosecution “through the use of carefully planned criminal investigations.” Senior officials of the Homeland Security Department said Wednesday that illegal workers would continue to be detained in raids on workplaces. But the officials said they hoped to mark an abrupt departure from past practices by making those arrests as part of an effort to build criminal and civil cases against employers.

...
This is perverse. One of Napolitano's first acts was to drop the E-verify which allows employers to make sure that they are not hiring someone here illegally. So now she is going after them for knowingly hiring illegals when she took away the best m…

Islamic religious bigots use West Point defense

NY Times:

He has been mentor to some of the most brutal terrorists on earth. But Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a prominent cleric and theorist of jihad living in Jordan, has grown tired of hearing younger extremists accuse him of going soft. So in a recent Internet post to his followers, Mr. Maqdisi defended his hard-line credentials by invoking a higher authority: the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. “Credit is due to the testimony of enemies,” Mr. Maqdisi wrote, as he directed his readers to a recent journal article by Joas Wagemakers, a Dutch scholar of jihadism, and the “Militant Ideology Atlas,” both published by the center. Both identified Mr. Maqdisi as a dangerous and influential jihadi theorist, he noted. So did two articles by liberal Arab columnists, Mr. Maqdisi added proudly, including one that referred to him as a “sheik of violence” and “the head of the snake.” It is not new for Islamic extremists to cite Western counterterrorism reports. Ayman Zawahri, the dep…

The auto downturn is not about the type of vehicles made

NY Times:

For years, Toyota City prospered along with the giant carmaker that shares its name, growing into a global automotive manufacturing center as its official sister city, Detroit, slid into decline. Now, the current economic crisis has halted the good times in Japan’s Motor City. Toyota Motor, the city’s largest employer and dominating presence, has idled factories and slashed production amid its first annual net loss in 59 years. This has pushed Toyota City into its worst slump in memory, as jobs have vanished, tax revenues have dried up and tidy downtown shopping streets have grown eerily empty. The reversal of fortune has turned both Toyotas, the city and the car company, into grim symbols of a global downturn that has spared few, including the once seemingly unstoppable Japanese auto industry. “In the beginning, we used to aspire to be a second Detroit,” said Tatsuya Yoshimura, who owns a camera shop in downtown Toyota City. “Now, that is what we are afraid of becomin…

Pakistan retakes town, frees some hostages

AFP:

Pakistan's military Wednesday said its troops seized control of the main town in the northwest Buner region after fierce fighting with the Taliban that killed more than 50 militants. The fighting came after the military Tuesday launched a ground and air offensive in Buner, near the troubled Swat valley, to flush out militants from the area. Earlier troops said they had also recovered 18 of around 70 police and paramilitaries abducted by militants in the Buner area Tuesday, chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told a news briefing. "We have received reports of more than 50 casualties since yesterday," he said, adding that troops also destroyed two explosives dumps. Meanwhile at least 20 people were killed and 24 others injured in armed clashes in Pakistan's financial capital Karachi on Wednesday, as simmering ethnic tensions boiled over in the south of the country. A government minister said the incidents were "targeted killin…

Repulicans ask Specter for their money back

The Hill:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and two of his deputies are taking up Sen. Arlen Specter’s offer to return their political donations in the wake of his announcement Tuesday that he is switching parties.

McConnell, Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) are all asking that Specter return their donations. A fourth non-leadership GOP senator, Bob Corker of Tennessee, is also asking for a refund.

In a statement Tuesday announcing his decision to become a Democrat, Specter said he would return campaign contributions received during the most recent cycle “upon request.”

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said the minority leader “will be taking Sen. Specter up on his offer.”

A spokesman said Cornyn gave $5,000 from a leadership PAC, while Corker also contributed $5,000 from his Rock City PAC. Alexander gave a statement to the Nashville Post in which he noted Specter’s offer and called…

Democrat cap and trade magic

Vincent Carroll:

Don't worry, this shouldn't hurt. In fact, you won't feel a thing. So goes the refrain of those pushing for passage of a climate bill regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Just what do they think we're smoking? A crackdown on greenhouse gases should involve "no cost to the consumer," declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi the other day — this from a leading supporter of the legislation. As if one fanciful pledge weren't enough, the California Democrat also insisted that it would be wrong to pass a bill "that was a penalty to some states." Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a congressional hearing that "in today's economic climate, it would be completely unwise to want to increase the price of gasoline." Trouble is, Chu is a climate-bill enthusiast, too — and the purpose of the cap-and-trade legislation that he and his boss, President Obama, favor is to raise the price of fossil fuels. Refiners will be one of th…

From rationed health care to triage health care in UK

Daily Mail:

Thousands of kidney cancer patients are likely to lose out on life-prolonging drugs. The NHS rationing body, NICE, has confirmed a ban on three out of four new treatments. It has reversed its position on just one, Sutent, which will now be allowed for patients with advanced cancer.
But campaigners who fought NICE's original blanket ban said this was not enough. They said some patients with heart problems cannot tolerate Sutent.Kate Spall, head of the Pamela Northcott Fund campaign group, said the ruling meant that fewer than half of newly diagnosed patients would be eligible for therapy. She added: 'Families will be denied time together and doctors will be unable to give patients the best treatment.'
...
This is the kind of health care Democrats have in mind for the US under the Obama plan. It is just much more efficient to let sick people die and cost less. The ethics of treatment take a whole new meaning under government sponsored triage.

Taliban attacks spread to another Pakistan district

Bill Roggio:

As the government is conducting military operations against the Taliban in Dir and Buner in the insurgency-plagued Northwest Frontier Province, Taliban fighters have moved into the district of Mansehra and established a base and a training camp.More than 100 heavily armed Taliban fighters have established a base of operations in the Kala Dhaka region of Mansehra and set up training camp in Loniyian, Dawn reported. Only 100 poorly armed and trained Levies personnel are said to be on hand to halt a Taliban incursion.Loniyian "once used to be a training camp of militants that was closed after the government launched a crackdown on such camps," security officials told Dawn. "The official sources claimed that the camp had again been made functional where new recruits were being trained." Last summer, US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that 157 terror training camps were in operation in Pakistan’s northwest.The Mansehra Taliban a…

Presidential chopper spending

NY Times:

...

The administration’s plan to halt the $13 billion helicopter program, announced this month, will leave the government with little to show for the $3.2 billion it has spent since the Bush administration set out to create a futuristic craft that could fend off terrorist attacks and resist the electromagnetic effects of a nuclear blast.Critics say the Pentagon would also spend at least $200 million in termination fees and perhaps hundreds of millions to extend the life of today’s aging fleet. As a result, several influential lawmakers and defense analysts are now calling for a compromise that would salvage a simpler version of the helicopter that is already being tested.They say it could be a more palatable alternative in tough economic times than seeking new bids for a more advanced craft, which has proved difficult to develop.“The real question is how much does the president need, and what will it cost to do that,” said David J. Berteau, who has studied the helicopter progr…

Chessani's Haditha case dismissal stands

NCT:

A military appeals court has refused to reconsider its decision upholding the dismissal of charges against Camp Pendleton's Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, who is accused of dereliction of duty for not ordering a full-scale investigation into the slaying of two dozen Iraqi civilians in 2005.

The U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals in Washington rejected a request from the Marine Corps to reconsider its March decision upholding a military judge's ruling that unlawful command influence irreparably tainted the government's case against Chessani.

"I think it speaks volumes how they just stamped the request 'Denied' without any comment at all," said Chessani's attorney Brian Rooney.

...

Rooney said he anticipates the Marine Corps will appeal because the ruling may affect the prosecution of Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who is charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter in the killings that occurred in the city of Haditha.

Chessani's charge…

The disconect in the Obama polling

Dick Morris:

When the Obama administration crashes and burns, with approval ratings that fall through the floor, political scientists can trace its demise to its first hundred days. While Americans are careful not to consign a presidency they desperately need to succeed to the dustbin of history, the fact is that this president has moved - on issue after issue - in precisely the opposite direction of what the people want him to do.Right now, Obama's ratings must be pleasing to his eye. Voters like him and his wife immensely and approve of his activism in the face of the economic crisis. While polls show big doubts about what he is doing, the overwhelming sense is to let him have his way and pray that it works.But beneath this superficial support, Obama's specific policies run afoul of the very deeply felt convictions of American voters. For example, the most recent Rasmussen Poll asked voters if they wanted an economic system of complete free enterprise or preferred more govern…

Retraining Pakistan's army to fight the Taliban

LA Times:

The Pakistani government has agreed to allow the U.S. a greater role in training its military, part of an accord that will also send counterinsurgency equipment to help Islamabad step up its offensive against militants.

...

The Pakistani operation included using heavy artillery, helicopters and fighter jets to strike Taliban positions in the mountains beyond Islamabad. But U.S. officials fear that those tactics will be ineffective or could backfire by inflicting civilian casualties. The U.S. military would like to see Pakistan's military move in light infantry or commando units.

Over the long term, the U.S. military believes training the Pakistanis for that kind of combat is critical for countering the Taliban threat.

But so far Pakistan has only allowed in about 70 U.S. special operations trainers, an effort the American military has long been anxious to expand.

The new agreement would have the U.S. military train Pakistani officers outside Pakistan. The Pentagon has offered …

The Obama strategy for defeat

Ralph Peters:

AFTER a mere 100 days, the "Obama Doctrine" for our foreign and security policies has emerged. And it's terrifying. The combination of dizzying naivete, dislike of our allies, disdain for our military, distrust of our intelligence services and distaste for our own country promises the worst foreign policy of our lifetimes. That includes President Jimmy Carter's abysmal record of failure. The core tenets of the Obama Doctrine to date would make a charter member of the Weather Underground cheer: We're to blame. If there are problems anywhere, they're America's fault. This central conviction of leftist ideology appears to have soaked so thoroughly into our president's consciousness during his lengthy friendships with extremists that it's now second nature to him. Problems can be negotiated away. From Somali pirates to Moscow's belligerency, Obama and his Cabinet see a good chat as the best response to a challenge. Our presiden…

Obama Pakistan policy gets early rewrite

Washington Post:

The Pakistani government's inability to stem Taliban advances has forced the Obama administration to recalibrate its Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy a month after unveiling it. What was planned as a step-by-step process of greater military and economic engagement with Pakistan -- as immediate attention focused on Afghanistan -- has been rapidly overtaken by the worsening situation on the ground. Nearly nonstop discussions over the past two days included a White House meeting Monday between Obama and senior national security officials and a full National Security Council session on Pakistan yesterday. A tripartite summit Obama will host here next week with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai will center heavily on the Pakistan problem rather than the balance originally intended, officials said. New consideration is being given to a long-dormant proposal to allow U.S. counterinsurgency training for Pakistani troops somewhere outside…

Democrat policies destroyed Elkhart RV business

Allison Linn:

In the same way that people might speculate about a couple that could be heading for divorce, business leaders in Elkhart, Ind., sometimes talked about what could happen if the recreational vehicle industry took a serious turn for the worse. They'd seen it happen before in the early 1970s with the energy crisis and in other recessions since. But this was back a few years ago, when business was booming, and such talk seemed more theoretical than practical, as you might discuss the need to get a new roof, eventually. (Related: More in the Elkhart Project blog on “Getting savvy about job hunting.”)"Yeah, there may be a desire to implement change, or diversify," said Brian Gildea, economic development director for the city of Elkhart. "But when it's not broken, the impetus to change is not there."Now the so-called "RV Capital of the World" is seeing a scenario that even the most pessimistic didn't think would come to pass. A season of…

Who knew?

From CNN:
Missing teen didn't have mom's OK
I don't think my Mom ever gave me permission to go missing either.

Mexican child brought to Houston for treatment dies

Houston Chronicle:

The first reported death in the United States from the swine flu outbreak was that of a 23-month-old Mexican boy who fell ill in Brownsville and was transported for treatment at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, where he died Monday, officials said.Dr. David Persse, director of the city's emergency medical services, said the acutely ill child was admitted to a Brownsville hospital on April 13 and immediately was rushed by medical transport to Houston.He learned of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmation of the virus before dawn this morning. Other people accompanying the child have shown no signs of illness, and the boy was not known to be sick when he crossed the border, Persse said."This doesn't really change the landscape here in Houston," he said, adding it shouldn't be a surprise that a serious case was routed to Houston and it's high-caliber medical facilities. "We know it's in the U.S., it's in…

The arrogance of Obama liberalism

Jonah Goldberg:

The most remarkable, or certainly the least remarked on, aspect of Barack Obama’s first 100 days has been the infectious arrogance of his presidency.

There’s no denying that this is liberalism’s greatest opportunity for wish fulfillment since at least 1964. But to listen to Democrats, the only check on their ambition is the limit of their imaginations.

“The world has changed,” Sen. Charles Schumer of New York proclaimed on MSNBC. “The old Reagan philosophy that served them well politically from 1980 to about 2004 and 2006 is over. But the hard right, which still believes . . . [in] traditional-values kind of arguments and strong foreign policy, all that is over.”

Right. “Family values” and “strong foreign policy” belong next to the “free silver” movement in the lexicon of dead political causes.

No doubt Schumer was employing the kind of simplified shorthand one uses when everyone in the room already agrees with you. He can be forgiven for mistaking an MSNBC studio for such …

The Specter betrayal in Pennsylvania

Pat Toomey:

Sen. Arlen Specter's switch to the Democratic Party has implications on a personal and national scale. For Pennsylvanians, who must decide who will represent us in the U.S. Senate next year, the stakes are personal. A central question will be whether Mr. Specter can be trusted on anything. In recent weeks, Mr. Specter has made numerous statements about how important it is to deny Democrats the 60th seat in the U.S. Senate and how he intended to remain a Republican to prevent one-party dominance in Washington. What Pennsylvanians have to ask themselves now is whether Mr. Specter is, in fact, devoted to any principle other than his own re-election. On that question, there is much evidence. Mr. Specter began his political career as a Democrat, switched to the Republican side out of political convenience and has switched back for the same reason. On issue after issue, he has changed his position over the years to benefit his political calculations. The most recent example…

Monopoly unions destroyed automakers

Holman Jenkins:

Call it a bailout or restructuring. What you're seeing is not a new beginning for the homegrown auto sector. It's the culmination of a decades-old, dishonestly peddled auto policy.

The two parties that turned the Big Three into a perennially limping freak of unwritten industrial policy now will take formal ownership of their handiwork. The United Auto Workers (UAW) would own 39% of GM. The federal government would own 50%. The creditors will be shafted with just 10%. (In the Chrysler plan being discussed, labor would own 55%, making it effectively a subsidiary of the UAW.)The day after any such settlement is finalized, the clock will start ticking down to the next collective-bargaining session between a monopoly UAW and what remains of the Big Three -- though now the UAW would be sitting on both sides of the table.Nearly 25 years ago, a Los Angeles Times reporter innocently and accurately invoked the "M" word in describing the domestic auto sector, noti…

The Specter opportunity

Washington Times Editorial:

Sen. Arlen Specter's move from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party exposed the man for what he really is: a self-serving career politician who will do anything to try to keep his seat in the exclusive club known as the U.S. Senate. It also gives conservatives a better shot at his Pennsylvania seat. In an editorial board meeting with us Tuesday, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, waved off Mr. Specter's move as "convenient politics" and noted that the liberal Pennsylvanian, who had been a Democrat years ago, "was already on the other side anyway." If there is a silver lining, Mr. Boehner suggested it is that Republicans finally can get a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who fights for conservative principles. There is another upside. By switching parties, the turncoat will save former Rep. Pat Toomey the trouble and expense of another long, bruising primary challenge. As Mr. Toomey exp…

US to fight Taliban in the poppy fields

NY Times:

American commanders are planning to cut off the Taliban’s main source of money, the country’s multimillion-dollar opium crop, by pouring thousands of troops into the three provinces that bankroll much of the group’s operations.

The plan to send 20,000 Marines and soldiers into Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul Provinces this summer promises weeks and perhaps months of heavy fighting, since American officers expect the Taliban to vigorously defend what makes up the economic engine for the insurgency. The additional troops, the centerpiece of President Obama’s effort to reverse the course of the seven-year war, will roughly double the number of troops already here, who are universally seen as overwhelmed. In many cases, the Americans will be pushing into areas where few or no troops have been before.Through extortion and taxation, the Taliban are believed to reap as much as $300 million a year from Afghanistan’s opium trade, which now makes up 90 percent of the world’s total. That is …

Specter goes from RINO to DINO

Steve Chargaris, CBS:

Sen. Arlen Specter’s jilted former party is pushing the talking point that his switch to the Democratic Party is “an act of self-preservation.”

“[H]is decision ... was a personal decision, limited to his Republican primary prospects in Pennsylvania. Nothing more and nothing less,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., the chairman of the National Senatorial Congressional Committee.

Not to buy into the spin, but they’re actually fairly accurate. And Specter is fully aware of that fact.

“I have traveled the state and surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls, observed other public opinion polls and have found that the prospects for
winning a Republican primary are bleak,” Specter told reporters on Capitol Hill this afternoon.

Specter, who squeaked past an intraparty challenge from former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., in 2004, was facing the conservative Toomey again. And recent polls showed him being trounced by Toomey in the Repu…