Showing posts from April, 2007

Muslim head chopping cult strikes in Philippines

BBC: Abu Sayyaf militants have decapitated seven hostages and sent their heads to troops on the southern Philippine island of Jolo, the military says. The men - six construction workers and a factory worker, all of whom were Christian - were seized on Monday near the town of Parang in Jolo. The military has vowed to intensify its efforts to track down the group. Philippine troops have been fighting Islamic militants holed up in Jolo's mountainous terrain for several months. Abu Sayyaf is the smallest of four Muslim rebel groups in the Philippines, with about 400 members. The group is thought to have links with both al-Qaeda and the regional militant group Jemaah Islamiah, and has been blamed for a number of kidnappings and bombings in the region. ... They seem quite proud of their war crimes. It would be better if the media would identify them as such. The media aspect of their warfare involves creating spectacles such as this and the media should be wise enough not to let themse

Wolfowitz resist bogus charges

Washington Post: World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz, defending his role in a pay increase and promotion for his girlfriend, told a special bank panel today that he "acted transparently" and in good faith, and he said he has no plans to resign in the face of a "bogus charge of conflict of interest." In a prepared statement submitted to a panel looking into the matter, Wolfowitz lashed out at the bank's ethics committee, whose advice he said he had followed, and he warned the institution's board of directors that they would be "hypocritical" to criticize him. ... Wolfowitz appeared before the ad hoc committee with his attorneys and presented a 20-page document defending himself, in addition to his prepared statement. He said that when he came to the World Bank, he tried to resolve "the potential conflict of interest caused by my pre-existing, personal relationship with Shaha Riza," a senior bank employee. Among other actions, he said, h

UK Muslim religous bigots may attack US

Times: Home-grown British terrorists now regard themselves as part of “global insurgency” that poses a new threat to international security, according to an official US report published yesterday. The finding, in the State Department’s annual country report on terrorism, reflects growing fears on both sides of the Atlantic about radicalised young British Muslims. British intelligence chiefs have confirmed to The Times that they are worried by the prospect of the next attack in America being committed by a British citizen arriving without hindrance in the US on the visa waiver programme. They are liaising closely with the FBI to identify possible suspects. Sir David Manning, the British Ambassador to Washington, has said that the possibility of such an attack concerns him. However, he added that “the impulse of both countries has always been to work together closely on this issue” - otherwise there would have been drastic new restrictions on the ease of transatlantic tr

Growing terror threat in the UK from Muslim religious bigots

Melanie Phillips: The ending of the Al Qaeda fertiliser bomb plot trial has posed crucial questions about the competence of MI5. In particular, the assurances we were given after the 7/7 bombings, that the perpetrators had been unknown to the security service, have been shown to be utterly false. Disturbing as that is by itself, the case also raises yet more pressing questions about whether Britain is even now acting effectively enough against the threat to this country from Islamist terrorism. The fact is that Al Qaeda now sees Britain as both its principal target and its principal recruiting ground. By its own admission, MI5 is monitoring no fewer than 200 terrorist networks, 1,600 identified individual terrorists and 30 known terrorist plots. It says British Muslims are being indoctrinated with horrifying speed, and more terrorists are being recruited every day. In truth, as our leading counterterrorist police officer, Peter Clarke, said last week, this country is facing a terrorist

Part time taxi driver is al Qaeda UK leader

Guardian: A man who was accused of being one of al-Qaida's leaders in Britain and who is alleged to have sent one of the July 7 suicide bombers to a terrorism training camp in Pakistan is living freely in the home counties and is not facing any charges. According to evidence brought before the Old Bailey jury in the fertiliser bomb plot trial, Mohammed Quayyum Khan, a part-time taxi driver from Luton, is in direct contact with one of Osama bin Laden's most senior lieutenants. Quayyum, known as "Q" to his alleged al-Qaida associates, is also accused of being the leader of a group of would-be terrorists whose plot to bomb London was foiled 18 months before the 7/7 attacks. Among the allegations against Q during the year-long trial were that he was: · the emir, or leader, of a group planning to use a massive fertiliser bomb to attack the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London, or high-pressure gas pipelines around the south-east · in

Climate change on Mars

Times: Mars is being hit by rapid climate change and it is happening so fast that the red planet could lose its southern ice cap, writes Jonathan Leake. Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period. Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena. The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds. ... Globo warmers have tried to explain the melting of the polar ice caps on mars by attributing it to a difference in the wobble of the planet as it spits. I do not think that would explain the difference in temperatures and it is probably not just a coincidence that it is the same as the change on Earth.

Those trying to evade cops cannot sue

Reuters: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a police officer cannot be held liable for ramming a fleeing car during a high-speed chase, forcing the vehicle off the road and resulting in severe injury or even death for the driver. By an 8-1 vote, the high court ruled the officer's conduct reasonable because the car chase initiated by the suspect posed a substantial and immediate risk of serious physical injury to others. Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority that an officer's attempt to end a dangerous high-speed car chase that threatened the lives of innocent bystanders did not violate the Constitution, even if it placed the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death. He said a police video of the incident "resembles a Hollywood-style car chase of the most frightening sort." The Supreme Court took the unusual step of putting the video on its Web site, along with the ruling in the case involving a sheriff's deputy from Coweta County

Academic hostility to those who challenge liberal perceptions

NY Sun: Mark Moyar doesn't exactly fit the stereotype of a disappointed job seeker. He is an Eagle Scout who earned a summa cum laude degree from Harvard , graduating first in the history department before earning a doctorate at the University of Cambridge in England. Before he had even begun graduate school, he had published his first book and landed a contract for his second book. Distinguished professors at Harvard and Cambridge wrote stellar letters of recommendation for him. Yet over five years, this conservative military and diplomatic historian applied for more than 150 tenure-track academic jobs, and most declined him a preliminary interview. During a search at University of Texas at El Paso in 2005, Mr. Moyar did not receive an interview for a job in American diplomatic history, but one scholar who did wrote her dissertation on "The American Film Industry and the Spanish-Speaking Market During the Transition to Sound, 1929-1936." At Rochester Institute of Techn

A diet pill that makes you sexy?

BBC: Scientists are developing a pill which could boost women's libido and reduce their appetite. The hormone-releasing pill has so far only been given to female monkeys and shrews who displayed more mating behaviour and ate less. The team from the Medical Research Council's Human Reproduction Unit in Edinburgh believe a human version could be available within a decade. But a psychologist said low-libido was usually caused by relationship issues. Up to 40% of women are thought to experience a lack of sex drive at some point in their lives. The Edinburgh team, led by Professor Robert Millar, have been looking at the properties Type 2 Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone. When it was given to monkeys, they displayed mating behaviour such as tongue-flicking and eyebrow-raising to the males, while female shrews displayed their feelings via "rump presentation and tail wagging". But the animals also ate around a third less food than they normally would. Professor Millar hopes to

Al Qaeda's losing streak

Strategy Page looks at where al Qaeda is losing around the world and it is a long list worth perusing. Strategy Page makes the argument that even where al Qaeda appears to be winning such as the Democrats action on Iraq, it will ultimately lose because the Shia in Iraq will wipe out the Sunni opposition and with it the al Qaeda support system. That is a possibility, but the media battle would see another al Qaeda win. In closing the article says: ... So al Qaeda, lacking any concrete achievements, tries to at least gather more mentions in the media. Google is keeping score for the terrorists, and that may be good for the soul, but it won't take you anywhere else. It keeps them going somewhere.

The new instant You Tube

NY Times: While Walter Zai was in South Africa watching the wild animals recently, people around the world were watching him. Mr. Zai, a 37-year-old Swiss engineer, used his mobile phone to send out constant updates and images from his safari for an online audience. “You feel like you are instantly broadcasting your own life and experiences to your friends at home, and to anyone in the world who wants to join,” said Mr. Zai, who used a new online service called Kyte to create his digital diary. The social networking phenomenon is leaving the confines of the personal computer. Powerful new mobile devices are allowing people to send round-the-clock updates about their vacations, their moods or their latest haircut. New online services, with names like Twitter, Radar and Jaiku, hope people will use their ever-present gadget to share (or, inevitably, to overshare) the details of their lives in the same way they have become accustomed to doing on Web sites like MySpace. Unlike the older net

Return of the live oaks

MSNBC: If the trees could talk, they would tell us everything. Silent, gnarled sentries, the live oaks of the Mississippi Gulf Coast have seen it all. Since well before they beckoned Spanish and French explorers with their massive limbs like welcoming arms, the oaks have been dutiful witnesses to the timeless cycle of birth and life and death. And hurricanes. Of Hurricane Katrina, 20 months after she unleashed her fury, they have two stories to tell. One story is as plain as the leaves on their branches. Denuded by 120 mph winds, the oaks now bristle like happy Chia pets. “Last summer, you saw no green,” says Bay St. Louis artist and businessman Mark Currier. “This year, look at the live oaks!” As with the oaks, the outward signs of human recovery are visible all along the coast. Locals are planning the biggest party they’ve ever thrown to mark the opening of the new $267 million, four-lane Highway 90 bridge between Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian to the east. The nearby CSX

Feeling and real safety are not the same

Michael Barone: The murders two weeks ago at Virginia Tech naturally set off a cry in the usual quarters -- The New York Times , the London-based Economist -- for stricter gun-control laws. Democratic officeholders didn't chime in, primarily because they believe they were hurt by the issue in 2000 and 2004, but most privately agree. What most discussions of this issue tend to ignore is that we have two tracks of political debate and two sets of laws on gun control. At the federal level, there has been a push for more gun control laws since John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and some modest restrictions have been passed. At the state level, something entirely different has taken place. In 1987, Florida passed a law allowing citizens who could demonstrate that they were law-abiding and had sufficient training to obtain permits on demand to own and carry concealed weapons. In the succeeding 20 years, many other states have passed such laws, so that today you can, if you mee

Liberals hatred of free speech

John Fund: Campaign finance laws are increasingly becoming a tool to suppress political speech, and the courts are finally waking up to the danger. Last week a unanimous Washington state Supreme Court struck down an outrageous interpretation of a law that had been used to classify the antitax comments of two Seattle talk-radio hosts as "campaign contributions" subject to regulation--that is, suppression--by local prosecutors and officials who disagreed. Washington's highest court struck down a decision by Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham, who in 2005 ordered KVI radio hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur had to place a monetary value on "campaign contributions" they made when they argued in favor of Initiative 912, a ballot measure to repeal a 9.5-cent-a-gallon increase in the state's gasoline tax. The antitax measure ultimately lost by 6% of the vote, in part because its opponents outspent its supporters by 20 to 1. But the "unofficial" support o

The George Tenet story

Andrew McCarthy finds several areas to dispute the CIA director's story as told on 60 Minutes last night. Some of the disputes are on matters of fact and others on analysis and argument. It is worth reading. I did not watch it, but my reading of accounts describing it suggest a mixed bag. I don't see any merit in his beef with the Vice President about his slam dunk comment. It is unfortunate that he apparently said nothing about the CIA leaks that were intended to undermine the administration's war effort after it appeared that the CIA original analysis about WMD could not be proved. Specifically the notorious Wilson's and their duplicitous effort to sow the "Bush lied" theme that has done so much to erode support for winning the war. I thought his statements about the information obtained through vigorous examination of al Qaeda leaders was interesting and it undercut the Democrats and McCain on their "torture" theme. Captain's Quarters

The Euro railroad job on Wolfowitz

Opinion Journal: World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz faces an "ad hoc committee" investigating his alleged ethics violations today, but it seems the committee has reached its conclusions even before he has a chance to defend himself. This fits the pattern of what is ever more clearly a Euro-railroad job. On Saturday, the Washington Post cited "three senior bank officials" as saying that the committee has "nearly completed a report" concluding that Mr. Wolfowitz "breached ethics rules when he engineered a pay raise for his girlfriend." The Post also reported that, "According to bank officials, the timing of the committee's report and its conclusions have been choreographed for maximum impact in what has become a full-blown campaign to persuade Wolfowitz to go." So there it is from the plotters themselves: Verdict first, trial later. None of this is surprising when you consider that the "ad hoc committee" is dominated by Eur

The liberals lose in marketplace of ideas so they want to change the rules

George Will: Some illiberal liberals are trying to restore the luridly misnamed Fairness Doctrine, which until 1987 required broadcasters to devote a reasonable amount of time to presenting fairly each side of a controversial issue. The government was empowered to decide how many sides there were, how much time was reasonable and what was fair. By trying to again empower the government to regulate broadcasting, illiberals reveal their lack of confidence in their ability to compete in the marketplace of ideas, and their disdain for consumer sovereignty—and hence for the public. The illiberals' transparent, and often proclaimed, objective is to silence talk radio. Liberals strenuously and unsuccessfully attempted to compete in that medium—witness the anemia of their Air America. Talk radio barely existed in 1980, when there were fewer than 100 talk shows nationwide. The Fairness Doctrine was scrapped in 1987, and today more than 1,400 stations are entirely devoted to talk formats. Co

The Fred Thompson rationale

Stuart Rothenberg: I'll admit that I have had a hard time warming to the idea that former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), whom I first saw as minority counsel during the Senate Watergate hearings and whose TV and movie credits include "Die Hard 2," "The Hunt for Red October" and "Law & Order," would run for president. And it seemed, at least initially, even more difficult to imagine him as the Republican nominee next year. But try as I might to dismiss the idea of a Thompson candidacy, I no longer can do so. It isn't that the former Senator from Tennessee is such a good fit for the role of presidential candidate. It's simply that none of the other cast members is a perfect fit either. ... Still, Thompson's appeal is less about who he is and more about who he isn't. ... Regardless of whether it is deserved, Thompson earned a reputation around the nation's capital as someone who didn't like to raise money and who didn't have

Debatable debate results

Kevin Hassett: When eight Democratic candidates for president debated last week in Orangeburg, South Carolina, they took sides on almost nothing yet agreed unanimously that the U.S. should get out of Iraq. That was about it. If you want a Hollywood analogy, think of that scene in the movie ``Airplane'' where everyone takes turns slapping a hysterical passenger. Then let that passenger be President George W. Bush. If it's economic substance you were looking for, you went to the wrong place. John Edwards extolled the wonders of his health-care plan. Senator Barack Obama pretended impressively to have one (which he does not). New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson mumbled something about the minimum wage. Still, even with the wriggling and evading, the debate told us a lot about the Democratic campaign. Before the debate, everyone knew that the Democratic field has three tiers. The first tier (the Frontrunners) includes Senator Hillary Clinton and Obama; the second (the Challenge

Failing the wife test

Washington Post: Alex and Sara Sifford, who live here on the Oregon coast, want to do the right thing to save a warming world. To that end, Alex Sifford, 51, has been buying compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use about 75 percent less power than incandescent bulbs. He sneaks them into sockets all over the house. This has been driving his wife nuts. She knows that the bulbs, called CFLs, save money and use less energy, thus cutting greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change. She knows, too, that Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey and the Department of Energy endorse them. Still, the bulbs, with their initial flicker, slow warm-up and slightly weird color, bug her. "What really got me was when my husband put a fluorescent in the lamp next to my bed," recalls Sara Sifford, 53. She said she yelled at her husband for "violating the last vestige of my personal space." Experts on energy consumption call it the "wife test." And one of the dimly lighted truths of t

Recruiting border agents for Iraq

Houston Chronicle: The pay is tempting, but the mission is tough — helping to stop illegal immigrants from crossing a long, rugged and remote border. But the border in question isn't between the United States and Mexico or Canada. It's in Iraq. At a time when federal officials are stressing the need to beef up U.S. border security, the State Department has hired a firm to recruit veteran law officers who will serve as "mentors" and train Iraqis to guard their borders. Critics of the plan acknowledge that the goal of hiring 120 officers won't seriously impair America's border security. They wonder, however, what it says about the government's priorities. "Our Border Patrol agents are going to be saying, 'Goodbye, Arizona. Goodbye, Texas. Hello, Iraq,' " said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. DynCorp International launched the effort this month to recruit officers with border security experience. The

Dems blow it on minimum wage

AP /NY Times: Increasing the minimum wage should be easy for a Congress controlled by Democrats, especially with President Bush's pledge of support. But a $2.10 boost for America's lowest-paid workers is again being delayed, this time in a tussle over whether to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq. It's been 10 years since the last minimum wage increase, and boosting it from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour over the next two years was a key element of Democrats' midterm election platform. They even added a sweetener for Republicans: $4.8 billion in tax cuts for small businesses over 10 years. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., decided to attach the minimum wage provisions to the Iraq war spending bill. Normally that's must-pass legislation. Now it's certain to be the subject of Bush's second veto after Democrats loaded it up with a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. ''That's just a temporary detour,'&

Novak embraces Hagel's pessimism

Robert Novak has always been opposed to the war in Iraq, but he is not an anti war puke like much of the Democrat party. He has found a fellow traveler in Chuck Hagel who is deeply pessimistic about the war. Right now Chuck is more pessimistic than the media which is saying something. The media has noted the turnaround in Ramadi and the significant decrease in sectarian killings in Baghdad, but Chuck wants to get out of the way of the sectarian killings and let the Mahdi army loose with its portable drills again. He however does not want to get out completely, but does not seem to have much of a mission for the troops. The guy is not nearly as smart as he and the Washington media think he is. There is a good reason why he is facing conservative opposition in Nebraska next year if he runs for reelection. At this point I don't think he will be running for anything in 2008 and if he does, he will lose. He and Novak both think that there are many in the GOP that oppose the war.

Hillary's hill to climb gets steeper

Donald Lambro: Hillary Clinton's negatives keep climbing, raising new questions about her electability and improving the prospects of her chief rivals for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. The New York senator's favorability ratings took a nosedive in mid-April, dropping from 58 percent in February to 45 percent, according to latest Gallup Poll. It was her lowest favorability score since 1993. A 52 percent majority of the voters now say they have a negative view of her candidacy. That compares to her closest rival, Sen. Barack Obama, who was rated favorably by 52 to 27 percent. Mrs. Clinton still held on to her front-runner status in most polls last week, but pollsters and political analysts tell me she is losing the support of strategic blocs in her party's base, including women, liberals and independents, who feel she has waffled on withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. "The recent decline in her image appears to be broad-based" among most key vo

Stock market makes Krugman weep

Paul Greenburg: When the news came that the stock market had broken 13,000 last Wednesday, I thought I heard the strangest sound in the background: quiet sobbing. Of course. That had to be the New York Times' man in the economy and all-around pundit, Paul Krugman, crying in his beer. Though, given today's economy, he is probably drinking the best single-malt Scotch on the market. But nothing seems to depress this expert like good news. Here the stock market is at an all-time high, the unemployment rate keeps dropping below low, but our expert keeps warning that The End Is Near. It's kind of funny in an unintended way. Think Woody Allen doing Shakespearean tragedy. For just a moment there, when the stock market had its big hiccup so long ago -- back in February, which now seems the Middle Ages -- Mr. Krugman could scarcely contain his glee. He was Mr. Happiness himself. For at last his hour had come. Hot dawg. All those sinners would see the error of their ways n

Sandmonkey surfaces for interview

The Egyptian blogger Ranting of a Sandmonkey has shut down his blog, because of pressure from the government, but Atlas Shrugs snagged an interview with him recently: ... SANDMONKEY: " Any kind of democratic reform in the country [Egypt] for the past 3 years has been rolled back specifically because there is no more pressure coming from Washington anymore." ATLAS: Why? What happened to the pressure in Washington? SANDMONKEY: You know what happened to the pressure in Washington. The Democrats won the Congress. There is no more pressure coming from Bush because he is not able to push people anymore to do those things. He is not able to push the Egyptian government anymore because the American public is suddenly not interested in reforming the Middle East because of what's going on in the Iraq . So suddenly the Egyptian government is not afraid of the American pressure. They are doing whatever they want to do. They are beating up demonstrators, they are cracking down

How al Qaeda alienated Ramadi

LA Times /Houston Chronicle: They closed down Hissam Hamed's Internet cafe, told history professor Abid Mohammed how to pray and killed 16-year-old Ammar Alwani because he scoffed at their religious edicts. Everyone you talk to in Ramadi has a story about how life under the insurgents calling themselves al-Qaida in Iraq progressively worsened over the three years they were in control here, finally pushing the residents of this Sunni Triangle city into the unlikely arms of the U.S. military. When they arrived in the summer of 2003, the Islamic extremists found Ramadi fertile ground for recruits to fight the U.S. Marines and soldiers who had occupied the city after overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Al-Qaida in Iraq even declared an Islamic State of Iraq, with Ramadi its provisional capital. But over time, the extremists overplayed their hand by imposing strict religious doctrine, hijacking the city government and enforcing a brutal murder and intimidation campaign to keep the locals in li

Kurds protest honor killings

Gateway Pundit has the story on the stoning death of a young woman by her family. ... Du'a Khalil Aswad, a 17 year old Kurdish girl was murdered by public stoning after running away from home for a so-called honour crime. Du'a was a member of Iraq’s Yezidi religious minority from the village of Bahzan in northern Iraq. She was killed by a group of men and in the presence of a large noisy crowd in the town of Bashika, near the city of Mosul. Some of her relatives may have participated in her stoning. ... The Yezidi are a strange sect, but they appear to have adopted some of the brutality of the Islamist religious bigots. The primitive nature of these religious cults is something that must be overcome for this region to make progress. The Kurds appear to get it/ Maybe there is hope for the rest of the region.

Voters who do not want amnesty for aliens complicate NY Times plans

The Editorial Board of the NY Times is upset with Republican senators who are running for President because they are responding to voters who oppose the amnesty provisions of the "comprehensive" immigration reform bills that liberals are trying to pass. It is funny to watch the Times argue this issue and take the opposite side it takes on the war issue where it wants Republicans to put their principals aside and agree to lose the war with the Democrats. What McCain is doing is showing that the immigration issue is one that is not as important to him as winning the war is. The NY Times shows how out of touch it is on the issue by treating amnesty as a side show when it is the most important concern for millions of voters. Their concern is not irrational since amnesty has been tried before and it resulted in a significant increase of illegal immigrations. A cynical person might think the NY Times is just trying to come up with a way to expand the shrinking Democrat voter

NATO offensive kicks into Taliban

AP /NY Times: Hundreds of British troops swept into the lush poppy fields of southern Afghanistan Monday, drawing hostile fire at the start of a NATO operation to expel the Taliban from a valley stronghold. More than 3,000 NATO and Afghan troops are participating in the operation, the latest effort to bring Helmand province under the control of President Hamid Karzai. A long column of armored vehicles brought several hundred British soldiers to the Sangin Valley, near the town of Gereshk and Afghanistan's strategic ring road that links the cities of Kandahar and Herat. ''It is all part of a longer-term plan to restore the whole of Helmand to government control,'' said Lt. Col. Stuart Carver, a British commander. ''You have to do it a piece at a time.'' The British soldiers came under attack from mortar rounds and machine-gun fire after they fanned out to patrol on foot. An Associated Press reporter traveling with the troops heard officers ordering Br

Will kooks say Bush knocked down California freeway?

AP /Houston Chronicle: A stretch of highway near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge collapsed today after a gasoline tanker crashed and burst into flames, leaving one of the nation's busiest spans in a state of near paralysis. Officials said traffic could be disrupted for months. Flames shot 200 feet in the air and the heat was intense enough to melt part of the freeway and cause the collapse, but the truck's driver walked away from the scene with second-degree burns. No other injuries were reported. ... Haven't the conspiracy kooks been saying that fuel fires are not hot enough to collapse steel and crumble concrete? Isn't that their reason for coming up with a theory that the government blew up the World Trade Center? Will they admit they are wrong after looking at the above photo? Click on it to enlarge. Thomas Lifson says it is a great spot for a terrorist attack. "The San Francisco Bay Area faces months of horrible traffic disruption thanks to the explo

Voting against war is bad politics for Republicans

Washington Post: With public opinion tilting firmly toward ending U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq, Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (R-Md.) might have expected praise for his votes that would start to bring the troops home. Instead, at town hall meetings on the Eastern Shore, the former Marine and Vietnam combat veteran has been called everything from a coward to a traitor. After Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) voted for a non-binding resolution opposing President Bush's troop increases, reaction in his district was so furious that local GOP officials all but invited a primary challenge to the reliable conservative. Inglis responded with multiple mailings to his constituents, fence-mending efforts and a video message on his House Web site pleading his case. On subsequent Iraq votes, he has not strayed from the Republican fold. The experiences of the few Republicans to vote against the war help explain the remarkable unity that the party has maintained in Washington behind an unpopular presiden

Al Qaeda sweep nets 17 after capture of Mr. Iraqi

Telegraph: American forces have executed a series of raids targeting al-Qa'eda members in Iraq, rounding up 17 suspects after the arrest of Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, one of the terror network's most senior figures. Details were released of the operation conducted on Saturday in five different locations in Iraq - all largely Sunni areas, where al-Qa'eda is especially active. Four men were captured in the northern city of Mosul, two in Baghdad and 11 elsewhere. None was identified by the US military, whose spokesman Lt-Col Christopher Garver, said: "We're achieving a deliberate, systematic disruption in the al-Qa'eda in Iraq network." The detention of Hadi, 45, who was allegedly en route to Iraq to assume the leadership of al-Qa'eda's network there, has yielded valuable intelligence, according to a Pentagon spokesman. He said that Hadi, a trusted lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, had "provided information essential to developing our knowledge of al-Qa&#

Iran's pervert fashion police go after men's ties

BBC: Barbers' shops in Iran have been ordered not to serve customers who wear ties or bow ties, Iranian press says. Police say the shops risk closure if they break the rules. In the early days of the revolution wearing a tie was seen as a symbol of western decadence, but in recent years this has relaxed considerably. The latest directive is part of a campaign against westernised clothes, which has so far focused on women's headscarves and Islamic covering. Etemad newspaper reports that the moral police sent a circular round to barbers' shops and hairdressers ordering them not to serve customers with ties or they could be closed temporarily or even lose their licenses. ... The latest crackdown on poor Islamic clothing or "bad hijab" as it's known locally has seen men targeted for the first time in years. Some have been warned not to wear short-sleeved shirts while there are instances of boys with wild, spiky hairstyles forcibly having a stripe shaved down the m

Israel may go after Gaza rocket launchers

Haaretz: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, warned on Sunday that if Palestinian attacks continue Israel will have no alternative but to "take action," adding that a major ground operation in the Gaza Strip would be necessary to effectively halt the ongoing rocket fire. Ashkenazi told the weekly cabinet meeting that a number of alternatives would also be presented to the government. Since the Gaza truce came into effect some five months ago, roughly 250 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel, the IDF chief said. He added that the rocket barrage on Israel's Independence Day last week was an exception to the norm. On the subject of Israel's northern border with Lebanon, Ashkenazi said Hezbollah is trying to reestablish its presence south of the Litani River in southern Lebanon. United Nations Interim Forces In Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese army in the area seem incapable of preventing Shiite militants from accessing the area, he said.

Democrats false memories of war vote

Debra Saunders: The smartest woman in America, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., declared that she was wrong to believe "the president when he said he would go to the United Nations and put inspectors into Iraq to determine whether they had WMD." That's odd because the congressional resolution for which she voted in October 2002 didn't promise to send inspectors to Iraq. A small hint that the resolution was not about inspections can be found in its title, "Joint Resolution for the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq." Also during Thursday night's MSNBC Democratic presidential primary debate, former Sen. John Edwards said: "I was wrong to vote for this war. Unfortunately, I will have to live with that forever. And the lesson I learned from it is to put more faith in my own judgment." Does that make any sense? As the Senate voted 51-46 for a measure to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq no later than Oct. 1, an air of unreality permea

Getting ready for global warming

AP /Fox News: The massive central door in the side of Noah's Ark was thrown open Saturday — you could say it was the first time in 4,000 years — drawing a crowd of curious pilgrims and townsfolk to behold the wonder. Of course, it's only a replica of the biblical Ark, built by Dutch creationist Johan Huibers as a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible. Reckoning by the old biblical measurements, Johan's fully functional ark is 150 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That's two-thirds the length of a football field and as high as a three-story house. ... In fact, Noah's Ark as described in the Bible was five times larger than Johan's Ark. ... Perhaps it was only logical that the replica project would be the brainchild of a Dutchman: fear of floods are ingrained in the country's collective consciousness by its water-drenched history. Lois Poppema, visiting from California, said she thought the Netherlands was exactly the right pla

What is driving Demcorats over the cliff in Iraq

Jeff Jacoby: ... Why is the Democratic Party so wedded to defeat in Iraq? What drives its determination to see this war end in American failure? The most generous explanation is that Democrats genuinely believe that Iraq will be better off with the Americans gone -- that removing US troops will eliminate the catalyst of Al Qaeda 's butchery. But as Connecticut's Joseph Lieberman pointed out on Thursday, this is sheer fantasy. US troops have retreated from Iraqi cities and regions a number of times, yet "in each of these places where US forces pulled back, Al Qaeda rushed in. Rather than becoming islands of peace, they became . . . islands of fear and violence." Lieberman quoted the grim forecast of Sheik Abdul Sattar, a Sunni tribal leader in Anbar province: "If the American forces leave right now, there will be civil war and the area will fall into total chaos." The most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq agrees. An American withdrawal in the nea

Turks don't want to lose freedom to Islamist

CNN: Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has vowed to continue in his bid to become the country's next president despite opposition from lawmakers and military chiefs and a massive public demonstration in Istanbul on Sunday. Gul's nomination, supported by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has raised concerns among Turkey's secular establishment over growing Islamist influence within government. In a parliamentary vote on Friday, Gul fell short of the two-thirds majority necessary to be elected after opposition lawmakers boycotted the process and called on Turkey's constitional court to render it void. On Friday evening military chiefs said in a statement they could intervene if the election process threatened to undermine Turkish secularism. But Gul told reporters on Sunday: "It is out of the question to withdraw my candidacy. The Constitutional Court will make the right decision." On Sunday at least 300,000 demonstrators gathered in Istanbul, Turkey'

Iran's crackdown from clothes to labor

Amir Taheri: HAVING set the Islamic Republic on a collision course with the United Nations on the nuclear issue, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears equally determined to confront his country's increasingly restive labor movement. The showdown, which began last year, could reach a peak this week with government plans to crush May Day demonstrations by illegal trade unions. In recent days, thousands of Islamic Revolutionary Guards have taken position around Tehran, ready to intervene if the International Labor Day demonstrations "get out of hand." The Islamic Republic has always associated May 1 with leftist ideologies that it claims are "brewed by Jews," and tried to promote an alternative "Islamic Labor Day" on May 2. This year, a number of illegal unions have announced May 1 demonstrations in Tehran and 20 provincial capitals. The new Workers' Organizations and Activists Coordination Council (WOACC), a grouping of over 80 illegal un

Growing dust

George Will: " The soil is the one indestructible, immutable asset that the nation possesses. It is the one resource that cannot be exhausted. " — Federal Bureau of Soils, 1878 Seventy-five years ago, America's southern plains were learning otherwise. Today, amid warnings of environmental apocalypse, it is well to recall the real thing. It is a story about the unintended consequences of technological progress and of government policies. Above all, it is an epic of human endurance. Who knew that when the Turks closed the Dardanelles during World War I, it would contribute to stripping the topsoil off vast portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas? The closing cut Europe off from Russian grain. That increased demand for U.S. wheat. When America entered the conflict, Washington exhorted farmers to produce even more wheat, and guaranteed a price of $2 a bushel, more than double the 1910 price. A wheat bubble was born. It would burst with calamitous consequences rec

Democrats have few bright ideas

Mark Steyn: Everything's difficult, isn't it? In the Democratic presidential candidates' debate, Sen. Barack Obama was asked what he personally was doing to save the environment, and replied that his family was "working on" changing their light bulbs. Is this the new version of the old joke? How many senators does it take to "work on" changing a light bulb? One to propose a bipartisan commission. One to threaten to de-fund the light bulbs. One to demand the impeachment of Bush and Cheney for keeping us all in the dark. One to vote to pull out the first of the light bulbs by fall of this year with a view to getting them all pulled out by the end of 2008. In 1914, on the eve of the Great War, British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey observed, "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime." Whether he was proposing a solution to global warming is unclear. But he would be impressed to hear that nine deca