Saturday, April 01, 2006

John Dean Blasts Warrantless Eavesdropping

Yahoo! News reports John W. Dean, Richard Nixon's White House lawyer, told senators Friday that President Bush's domestic spying exceeds the wrongdoing that toppled his former boss.

In Watergate they broke into Democratic Headquarters during an election, for totally political reasons, and he thinks that is not as bad as Bush authorizing the NSA to listen in to Al Qaeda in foreign countries talking to their cells in the US about how to stage additional attacks like 9/11????? He is a nut case.
Bush, Dean told the Senate Judiciary Committee, should be censured and possibly impeached.
If the Dumbocrats are stupid enough to agree with him they should run on that as their platform in 2006.


McKinney Says Police Officer Touched Her 'Inappropriately'

WaPo Cynthia McKinney, the Georgia congresswoman who had an altercation with a Capitol Police officer, said yesterday that the officer started the incident by "inappropriately touching and stopping" her after she walked past a security checkpoint.

So now she is playing the feminist card as well as the black card
McKinney, speaking at a news conference where she was joined by singer Harry Belafonte
If she even associates herself with that nutcase, she is clearly guilty.
and actor Danny Glover, said she understands that a case against her may be referred for prosecution but declared that she will be exonerated.

"Let me be clear: This whole incident was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female black congresswoman,"
She is saying "I'm a black, so no white policeman has a right to stop me, because it is racism, and I am a woman, so if a man touches me, it is inapproriate touching." The fact that she was trying to get around security, and was not wearing the special button that they give Congress Critters to enable them to do that, is beside the point.
McKinney said. "I deeply regret that this incident occurred."
How about saying "I deeply regret not wearing the proper security devices, hitting the policeman, accusing him of racism, and accusing him of "inappropriate touching."
McKinney, a Democrat, declined to discuss the incident further because she still may be charged with striking the officer after she entered a House office building this week unrecognized and did not stop when asked. She and her two lawyers would not say whether she hit the officer or how he touched her inappropriately.
They dont want to explain how it happened, because then it would make the phrase "inappropriate touching" obviously wrong.


Friday, March 31, 2006

Arrest warrant for Rep. Cynthia McKinney

WSBTV reported Capitol Hill police plan to issue an arrest warrant today for Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.).

Fantastic. Hitting a police officer is not a good idea, even if you are a black Congresswoman.
The warrant is related to the incident Wednesday when McKinney allegedly slapped a Capitol Hill police officer.

Charges could range from assault on a police officer, which is a felony carrying a possible five year prison term, to simple assault, which is a misdeamenor.
Let's go for the felony.
McKinney has canceled a news conference that she had scheduled for this morning to discuss the incident.
She probably needs to spend the time talking to her lawyer, and raising bond money.

Ace of Spades blogged "I guess she forgot to present her RaceCard. I'm sure she won't make that mistake in the upcoming weeks. Get ready for the racial-grievance/victim campaign for McKinney. We'll be told all sorts of things, like she's only being punished for acting "uppity," etc.

Slapping a cop is not "uppity." It's a felony, Cynthia.

Of course, this will probably only make her more popular in her district.


Drone aircraft may prowl U.S. skies

CNET News. reported A House of Representatives panel on Wednesday heard testimony from police agencies that envision using UAVs for everything from border security to domestic surveillance high above American cities. Private companies also hope to use UAVs for tasks such as aerial photography and pipeline monitoring.

This is very good news. I favor modifying the Posse Comitas law to permit the military to enforce the law within 10 miles of an international border, and assigning the military on training missions to help protect our southern and northern borders. They need to know how to do this, so that if they are in Iraq, they can close the borders with Syria and Iran, and by having a regular training program going protecting the US border, they can develop tools like these UAVs that they can then use if they are sent into a war.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

McKinney Scuffles With Police

AP reported Rep. Cynthia McKinney and a police officer scuffled Wednesday after the Georgia Democrat entered a House office building unrecognized and refused to stop when asked, according to U.S. Capitol Police.
Arrest the bitch, and throw her in jail.
McKinney, a sixth-term congresswoman who represents suburban Atlanta, struck the officer according to one account, a police official said, adding there were conflicting accounts. The officer, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the incident, spoke only on condition of anonymity.
And did he say, under condition of anonymity, that he was struck? I suspect he did, because otherwise they wouold be shouting to the rooftops that he was not.
No charges were filed, police said.
Why? Assaulting a police officer is not one of the immunities that Congress Critters have.
McKinney issued a statement Wednesday night saying she regretted the confrontation. "I know that Capitol Hill Police are securing our safety, and I appreciate the work that they do. I have demonstrated my support for them in the past and I continue to support them now," she said.
Then why hit one?
Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said only that senior officials have been made aware of the incident and are investigating.
So criminal charges may still be filed?
Members of Congress do not have to walk through metal detectors as they enter buildings on the Capitol complex. They wear lapel pins identifying them as members. McKinney routinely doesn't wear her pin
Then she should expect to be stopped.
and is recognized by many officers, the police official said, adding that she wasn't wearing it when she entered a House office building early Wednesday.
That is a security problem. If they are required to wear them, and if she does not wear hers, she should have to pass security just like everyone else.
By one police account, she walked around a metal detector and an officer asked her several times to stop. When she did not, the officer tried to stop her, and she then struck the officer, according to that account.
Assault and battery on a police officer.
In her statement, McKinney said most members of Congress expect Capitol police to recognize them.
Perhaps they do recognize the important ones. She is not one of them.
"I was urgently trying to get to an important meeting on time to fulfill my obligations to my constituents. Unfortunately, the police officer did not recognize me as a member of Congress and a confrontation ensued," she said. "I did not have on my congressional pin but showed the police officer my congressional ID."
Did you show it before or after you hit him?

Danny Carlton blogged There are 435 members of the House and 100 members of the Senate. Does MZZZ McKinney remember them all? Personally, I think they should all be sent a memo telling them if they aren't wearing their ID and try to go around the metal detectors, they'll be thrown to the ground and sat upon by the heaviest security officer available and kept there until they admit they're a doofus who isn't even qualified to serve french fries, let alone serve in Congress.

11alive reports According to the Drudge Report, the entire incident is on tape. Drudge continues, "The cop is pressing charges, and the USCP (United States Capitol Police) are waiting until Congress adjourns to arrest her, a source claims."

Matt Margolis blogged It's almost ironic that this hapen the same day Democrats held their media stunt unveiling their so-called security agenda...

Right Wing News blogged Sounds like a clear cut case of assault. Wonder if Cynthia will 1) give a heartfelt apology, 2) give a cheap non-apology apology, 3) blame the cop for "making her" hit him, or 4) play the race card?

Given that Cynthia is a particularly kooky Democrat who loves to blame racism for everything, I'm going to guess 2 and 3, with 4 possible if this gets a lot of attention. But, perhaps she'll pleasantly surprise everyone with a 1. We'll see.


Democrats Detail Security Policy

WaPo reported Among the proposals in the "Real Security" plan: eliminate bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network,
Bush has done a very good job eliminating his terrorist network, and we know where Bin Laden is: he is in Pakistan, and the President of Pakistan is doing his best in that lawless area to find him, but if we send our forces into Pakistan it will cause his government to fail, and the Islamists will take over. Exactly what do the Democrats say they will do? Invade Pakistan? This will result in a Islamic Government that has Nuclear Weapons. Do the Dumbocrats really want that?
implement in full the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission,
Bush is implementing all of them that would not hurt America's security. But I guess the Dumbocrats dont really care about that, and want to implement them all.
and work to make 2006 a year of "significant transition" in Iraq.
Which is exactly Bush's plan.
On terrorism, the Democrats call for doubling the size of U.S. Special Forces and eliminating terrorist breeding grounds by "combating the economic, social and political conditions that allow extremism to thrive."
How do we do that? Send huge amounts of money into many foreign nations. What domestic social programs are they willing to eliminate in order to afford to do that?
Democrats have been badly divided over Iraq. The new strategy urges Iraqis to assume responsibility for their own security,
That is exactly the Bush plan
recommends "responsible redeployment" of U.S. forces without specifying a timetable
Do you think the loony left will accept not specifying a timetable?
and blames the administration for poor planning and manipulating prewar intelligence.
They could have not done better, and based on what Clinton did during his eight years in the White House, they would have done a lot worse.
The statement contains language -- voiced by Pelosi, Reid and others yesterday -- that the Democrats' security agenda will be both "tough and smart" in contrast to the "dangerous incompetence" the Bush administration has shown -- language that has been tested by the Democrats in anticipation of the fall campaign.
If you don't have a plan, call the opposition names.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What is religious reform?

Siggy posted Nietzsche said that reformations happen in places where there is the least corruption. The Arab world has been trying to reform Islam for 150 years (and has failed). Clearly Nietzsche was right.

I believe that 'reforming Islam' means:

  1. making Muslims who live in non-Muslim and/or secular countries (America, England, the West), the ability to live harmoniously there,
    If they want to live in western countries, they need to follow the laws and customs of that country, i.e. they need to assimilate. They should not expect Sharia law to apply. If they want to live under Sharia law (and who in their right mind would), they should go to a country which is controled by Sharia law
  2. making Muslims who live in predominantly Muslim countries which do not have democracies (Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria), the ability to agitate for change using moral, just, and humane methods,
    That would be nice.
  3. making Muslim who are agitating for authonomy (Kurds/Palestine/Chechnya), the ability to use Islam as a liberation theology, not as a death theology,
  4. making Muslims who live in theocracies (Iran, Saudi Arabia), redefine the Shariah under which they live in such a way that their laws comport with the current human rights norms of the world. Finally, there is
  5. an independent element of reforming Islam: that is, to engage the world-wide community of Islamic Jurists and have them figure out why the theoretical Shariah ( i.e. the framework of the Shariah) has ossified in the 11th century.
    It is because they had power then, and want power now, and they think that the way to do that is to go back to the 11th century way of doing things.
Personally I operate in elements 1 and 5, and often get pulled into element 2. I believe I cannot be of help to elements 3 and 4, because their reformation must be internal.

To follow up on that Nietzsche quote: as it stands, American Islam is the least corrupt Islam in the world. This I can tell you empirically because I am a very global Muslim....

You have a chance to write three undisputed Hadith. What would they say?

I only need one.

"Narrated the Prophet Muhammad, "There are no hadith. Read the damn Quran. The hadith are informative but they are not a source of law."
The "law" that the Afghan who accepted Christ as his Saviour was accused of breaking is based on the hadith, not the Quran. (“Whoever changes his religion, kill him).
That's the problem when talking about fixing Islamic Law. For a 1000 years Muslim scholars have been using hadith to expand/explain/clarify the Quran. That's the rationale they give. They don't tell us 1) that the concept of a hadith didn't exist until at best 150 years after Muhammad's death. They dont tell us 2) that the original hadith scholars themselves said that a hadith cannot overrule the Quran (which it magically can nowadays).
I wonder if the idea of killing innocents (even Muslims) getting you a free pass to Paradise comes from the hadith, since the Quran 4.93 says "If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him."
They don't tell us 3) how many hadith were invented along the way to suit the purposes of rulers, kings, and morons. They don't tell us 4) how many alzheimer patients were narrating hadith (seriously, think about it). Let's see, for a 1000 years Islamic Law hasn't advanced, and for a 1000 years hadith has been considered a source of Islamic Law. Something's rotten in the state of Shariah.


A Moderate Muslim

The Anchoress referred to a post of someone she says may be a moderate/reformist Muslim.

Looking at his site, An Open Letter to Reformist Muslims says:

Unlike some of my fellow believers I don’t think that the recent glut of Westerners calling for the reformation of Islam is due solely to an imperial Western ambition. I believe that much of non-Muslim engagement with Islam is premised upon a well-intentioned impulse. I believe that some Western antipathy towards Islam is due to decency. It is quite plausible that a generation that faced off against two totalitarianisms might be right about a third.
You are absolutely right there.
It is also plausible that for every Westerner who calls for the destruction of Islam in order to defend the Western status-quo, there is another Westerner who agitates for change in Islam because has a Muslim friend who has been hurt by what passes for Islam, or has a glimpse (in Hafiz, perhaps in Ibn Rushd), of what Islam could be; and as such, is upset by what Islam today is not.
That is right. We don't oppose Islam. We oppose the twisted version the the Islamofascists have come up with. Surely true Islam does not call for someone to blow themselves up killing other Muslims, in expectation of going to Paradise. The Qu'ran seems to have a different end destination in mind for them: Surat an-Nisa,093 (Quran 4.93) says "If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him." I do not consider myself an expert in the Qu'ran, but I believe that same verse would also indicate a southerly destination for a homicide bomber that kills Jews or Christians, because we are all "People of the Book" (or ahl al Kitâb) Surat Al 'Imran, 64 (Qur'an 3:64) says "O People of the Book! Let us rally to a common formula to be binding on both us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God." and Surat al-Baqara, 136 (Qur'an 2:136) says Say ye: "We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them.
I believe that there are many in the West capable of recognizing beauty — and they have recognized the beauty that Islam was in the hands of Rumi, and also have recognized the potential of that beauty in Islam today, in Muslims today. This is another way of saying that I believe there are many in the West who are driven by the humanity of the Muslim, who faces daily in Iraq, in Punjab, in subversive mosques in Europe, the inhumanity of a utilitarian death theology.... If, then, there are those in the West who challenge what passes for Islam today, on the basis of their humanity with the Muslim, then we Muslims must embrace them as our brothers.
He certainly is not as far out as the Islamofascists, but I am not sure I would call him a Moderate Muslim. This post on Apostasy admits it is an absurd logic (it is a sarcastic post), but it says:
Since under Afghan Islamic Law you cannot be put to death for apostasy if you are deemed insane, it may be worthwhile to prove Abdul Rahman insane. The best way of doing this would be to argue that you’d have to be insane to switch religions in a country that enforces the death penalty for apostasy. Since Abdul Rahman has done precisely what everyone thinks to be an illogical thing, it must mean that he *is* crazy. As such, he cannot be put to death for apostasy. Put it another way: since he has not retracted in the face of death, it must mean he’s retarded. Therefore, he cannot be killed, and should be freed immediately
Given the absurd current state of Islamic Law, this defense might actually work.
This post on Apostasy is for adult eyes only. I will quote some of the cleaner aspects:
So where does apostasy come from? The Quran? Well, sorta, but not really. The Sunnah? Oh no, dear me, not the Sunnah either! Then what: well whenever you are looking for the fount of ignorance, look no further than the books of hadith, which seem to me the most painstakingly accumulated books of mistakes ever put together by non-Christians (with Sinead O’Connor, whose haircut I now have, we say: nothing compares to you, Reveletations).
I have got to agree with him, the Book of Revelation is a bit cryptic, even though I think it probably shows what we are going to be experiencing as the Islamofascists try for their World Caliphate, one where Arabs and Muslims are perceived as righteous leaders, scholars, recognized and catered to by others (which ain't gonna happen).
Traditional and Fundo Islam has given the following justifications for holding the position that apostasy is permitted and the apostate should be killed.... Anyway, the source that traditional Islam relies on is the hadith narration which says, and I’m not joking here: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” Dammit! How do you address such explicitness? Basically, if you are a traditionalist or a fundo, since you recognize the hadith-narrations on the same level as the Quran and Sunnah, you’ll say: I got my justification in that narration right there. *I hope the astute have been noting that I am not equating the hadith with the Sunnah; those who haven’t noticed it, note it now, specious ineptitude!

Ok, other than that, you can’t really rely on the Quran to give you a justification for apostasy and its attached death penalty. Why? Well, whereas the Quran contains a few verses which promise hell-fire and all that after-wordly torment to those who disbelieve, it doesn’t actually legislate an *earthly* punishment for those who change their religion. *However*, in recent years there have been efforts to find the crime of apostasy and the attached death penalty in the Quran. Mawdudi (had to be him), worked on a few interpretations. He took verse 9:11-12 and twisted it to fit his purpose:
But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then are they your brethren in religion. We detail our revelation for a people who have knowledge. And if they break their pledges after their treaty (hath been made with you) and assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief – Lo! They have no binding oaths in order that they may desist.”
His argument was that “pledges” refers to the covenant of Islam. Clearly this is ass stupid, because the pledges refers to the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. In addition to this Quranic argument, he uses an argument from common sense as well. Basically he says: look, we ought to eliminate those people from our communities who don’t think like we do. For this he cites the example of communities that sound weirdly fascist. Then again, it was in vogue in the 40’s to execute members of your own communities for being different.

So that’s the legal bases of apostasy: explicit hadith (there’s more than one), and spurious Quranic connection. I’m gonna go ahead and eliminate the Quranic rationale as viable. It has never been accepted by any scholars. Even if it was, it would be on the basis of a clear misreading of the Quran and history; as such, as its gone. That leaves us with the hadith. How do we address them? Could it be that we’re stuck with having to live in a religion which gives actual *legal* sanction to killing those who change their mind?

Well, if you stick to traditionalist Islam, you can’t get out of the death penalty for apostasy. The hadith-compendium comprises too important a part of the traditionalist discourse for anyone to say: well, uh, yeah, here we’re not going to use the hadith. Since you’ve been using hadith to give legal justification to everything from ablution to marriage, you gotta embrace the apostasy narrations also. The best you can ever argue is that in so and so particular case, the crime of apostasy doesn’t apply. But that’s not the same as saying: there is no crime of apostasy in Islam (which is my position). In other words, traditionalist and classical Wahhabists, and ahl e Sunnah will, even if they never exclaim “apostate!” will always recognize the *possibility* that an apostate could emerge, and as such, would have to be killed.

There are some modernist traditionalists (like Abu el Fadl and Sherman Jackson), who say, “yes there are hadith narrations about apostasy” but we don’t live in those kind of times.”
It sounds like there may be some moderate Muslims.
They add that apostasy was only valid when societies were religiously-organized and changing your religion was the same as treason. Since we now live in the nation-state, changing your religion is not treason; therefore, apostasy doesn’t come in. I don’t find this persuasive. One, because if there was a society that was religiously-organized, then we’re back to square one. Second, what happens in a nation-state which is only partially religiously-organized, i.e. Pakistan and Iran. What if 51% of the people in an Islamic Democracy favor apostasy? (Trust me, having lived in Pakistan, the number favoring apostasy is about 90%). What would a traditionalist say then?
Don't live there.
So we’re at an impasse. There is no explicit Quranic source for apostasy. It comes from the hadith. Yet we seem consigned to having to accept that apostasy will always linger in some way or another.


MSNBC's Olbermann Beats CNN's Zahn

TVNewser reported In the first quarter of 2006, MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann beat CNN's Paula Zahn Now in the 25-54 demographic. "This marks MSNBC's first quarterly primetime victory over CNN in the demo in almost five years," MSNBC's press release said today.

Fox still beats both of them together, but CNN continues its slide down, and now is in third place.
Countdown averaged 164,000 total viewers in the quarter, up 41% from Q1 2005. Zahn averaged 158,000 demo viewers (down 33 percent), according to MSNBC. Bill O'Reilly averaged 450,000 in the demo (down 24 percent).
O' Reilly nearly beat MSNBC, CNN, AND CNN Headline News
Olbermann also beat Headline News star Nancy Grace in the demo. According to program ranker data, Grace averaged 154,000 demo viewers...
154,000 vs 164,000; CNN is almost in 4th place (i.e. its Headline News is close to surpassing it)


New Orleans to Sell Flooded Buses on EBay

AP reported Starved for cash, the New Orleans school district is taking a long shot and hoping to sell its flooded, unsalvageable school buses on eBay.
They certainly need to get rid of them. And also the mayor that did not use them to evacuate people.
Some submerged to their roofs in the black flood waters, the yellow school buses were widely photographed in the days after Hurricane Katrina and have become an icon of the city's devastated school system.
No they are an icon for the mayor's incompetence.
School officials acknowledge the sale of the buses on the Internet auction site may puzzle some people used to more traditional school fundraisers like bake sales.

"There's no shame in it. Not one bit," said school board president Phyllis Landrieu. "This is a new mechanism for selling things. I think it's very upbeat what we're doing."
Selling them on eBay is not where the shame lies. It is the fact that New Orleans had all of those buses that could have been used to evacuate people, and the buses were left to be flooded, and the residents that could have been evacuated, were abandoned.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Why I Hate Islam

Siggy blogged I hate Islam. I hate everything about what passes for Islam and I hate everyone who defends what passes for Islam. I hate Islamic politics, I hate the Islamic 'street' and I hate Islamic fueled bigotry, racism and hate. I have more than a passing knowledge of Arab Muslim history and culture and I am familiar with current Arab politics. I have visited the region a number of times and consider myself well read and au courrant when discussing Arab affairs.

The reason for my hatred of all things Muslim and Arab extends beyond the obvious. Anyone, anywhere, can decipher Arab behavior for what it is- a reflection and an example of a culture gone bad and a culture that has become morally incestuous. The impotence, ignorance and the indifference the entire Arab world is on display when it comes to dealing with their realities. The behavior is nothing short of a breathtaking view of what happens when even the most basic moralities are co opted by evil. With the help of self serving political and religious leaders, Islamic leaders have conveyed the notion that the situation Arabs find themselves in is because of, a) a 'weakness' in their faith and, b) because they are so superior by virtue of their faith, they have every right to impose at will whatever indignities they see fit at any time. They are victims and they can extract revenge as they see fit. Notwithstanding all the billions of words written to date and the billions more that have yet to be published, the two reasons referred to are the cause of Arab and Islamic discontent.

My hatred for all things Islamic stems from the truth that one of the people I admire most in the world is a Muslim. After 10 plus years, I can say my friend is the singularly most decent, honest and kindest person I know.

Your friend knows true Islam, not the warped stuff that is coming out now. I suspect he respects your faith, as you are both People of the Book. Surat Al 'Imran, 64 (Qur'an 3:64) says "O People of the Book! Let us rally to a common formula to be binding on both us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God." Surat aal-E-Imran, 3 (Qur'an 3:3) says It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).
My friend believes in God, without equivocation, and my friend is outraged at yoke that must be borne by true Muslim believers because of the disintegration of Islam. The shame of many- but not all, who go to mosques to pray, cannot be measured. My friend describes an unwritten code and language decent Muslims share, so that they might find each other. They are too frightened to speak freely and they are too frightened to stand up to the bullies that have taken over the mosques and Islamic schools. They are the messengers of those that have redefined Islam.

These evil people are bullies, plain and simple. They are 'gang members' and agents of people in far away places that have an agenda of hate and destruction. In truth, allowing political and religious leaders in the Arab world to redefine Islam is equivalent to allowing gang member inmates to redefine what is America and what are American values.

These people have stripped Muslims of almost all their dignity by stripping away even their faith. Here we are in the 21st century and there are millions of people who have abandoned God in favor of despicable rulers and despots. Islam has been replaced by a new faith that has come to worship death and destruction as the highest ideals of man.

Read the whole thing

Hat tip to The Anchoress


Enemy of Our Enemy

NYT reported Bush administration defenders, right-wing bloggers and neoconservative publications are crowing about Iraqi documents newly released by the Pentagon that, they say, prove that Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were in league.

And anyone else with any intelligence could see they are right. The NYT is apparently not intelligent.
Even though the 9/11 commission
Which did not examine all of these documents, since they could not read Arabic
found no "collaborative relationship" between the ultrafundamentalist Osama bin Laden and the secular Saddam Hussein, the administration's reiterations of a supposed connection — Vice President Dick Cheney has argued that the evidence for such an alliance was "overwhelming" — have convinced two out of three Americans that they had "strong" links
two out of three is not bad.
.... What do the new documents establish? According to ABC News's translation of one of the most credible documents, in early 1995 Mr. bin Laden — then living in Sudan — met with an Iraqi government representative and discussed "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia. The document also noted that the "development of the relationship and cooperation between the two parties" was "to be left according to what's open [in the future] based on dialogue and agreement on other ways of cooperation."

The results of this meeting were ... nothing.
If you consider a car bombing and the Khobar Towers attack nothing.
Two subsequent attacks against American forces in Saudi Arabia — a car bombing that year and the Khobar Towers attack in 1996 — were carried out, respectively, by locals who said they were influenced by Mr. bin Laden and by the Saudi branch of Hezbollah, a Shiite group aided by Iranian government officials.
Can the NYT prove that Iraq did not help, since they had just agreed they would?


Immigration Control

The Senate is working on a bill that has no chance in Hades of passing in the House, and the House passed a bill that doesn't stand a chance of passing the Senate. And God knows what mess will result when a conference committee gets both bills.

What Bush should do is propose a new bill, and say he will sign it only if it contains all of the above:

(1) Funds to build a wall. Such a wall may or may not be built (see the additional points), but if technoligical features are considered better the funds could be used for them

(2) Posse Comitas will be changed to permit the Military to enforce laws within 10 miles of an international border. Then the Military would be sent on training exercises to back up the Border Patrol, and learn how to close a border (a skill needed in Iraq and Afganistan)

(3) A Guesd Worker ID card would be developed which would be impossible to forge. It would have a color photo of the person, and a unique number which would be clearly printed on the card, and also on a magnetic stripe, and that number would provide access to additional biometric information including fingerprints, retinal scan, and DNA information. If it is feasible that info would also be on the card. In order to get an ID card the person would have to pass a medical test and not have any felonys on their record, and if they commit a felony in the US it would be grounds for cancelling the card and deporting the individual.

(4) A person outside the US, or a person inside the US with a legal green card, could get an ID card for the cost of issuing the card, if their record is clear. For a person inside the US who entered illegally, the card would be available, but there would be an additional fine of $1,000, which would go up to $2,000 after two years, and $5,000 after four years.

(5) A person with such a card could enter the US after the card was validated, but it would not guarantee them a job, or any social services.

(6) An employeer hiring less than 5 people would merely have to record the number from each card, and provide that information when they filed their taxes. An employeer hiring 5 or more people would be required to have a machine like are used with credit cards, that they can swipe the card through, and verify that it is a valid card.

(7) A person with the ID card could work in the US, but if they want to go on a path to eventual citizenship they must learn English, and then apply, at which time they will be placed at the end of the line of others from their country of origin.

(8) If any state or local government issues any ID cards (Drivers licenses, etc) to a non-citizen, it must list the number of this ID card, and it must be clearly identified (different color, etc) as being for a non citizen.

(9) Applying for a second ID card (not a replacement card, but one with a unique number) would be a felony.

(10) The Department of Labor would annually look at the unemployment rate, and the number of people with these Guest Worker cards, to determine how many additonal cards to issue each year.

(4) The ID card would


Net Immigration

grapeshisha blogged I was looking into immigration figures and the like in relation to the UAE and found this great little site called World Mapper which resizes the world on different criteria. The picture below shows the relative levels of net immigration.

The page also links to data, in Excel format, and although some of it is a little out of date, it gives an interesting view of world

This is very interesting. I wish the site had the ability to generate maps like this for others, but it does reference the author's site and makes the code available


Religion Of Peace?

Investor's Business Daily wrote What better time for CAIR and other Muslim leaders to step up, cut through the politically correct fog and provide factual answers to the questions that give so many non-Muslims pause?

Generally speaking, those questions focus on whether the Quran does indeed promote violence against non-Muslims, and how many of the terrorists' ideas — about the violent jihad, the self-immolation, the kidnappings, even the beheadings — come right out of the text? But even more specifically:

Is Islam the only religion with a doctrine, theology and legal system that mandates warfare against unbelievers?

Is it true that 26 chapters of the Quran deal with jihad, a fight able-bodied believers are obligated to join (Surah 2:216), and that the text orders Muslims to "instill terror into the hearts of the unbeliever" and to "smite above their necks" (8:12)?

Is the "test" of loyalty to Allah not good acts or faith in general, but martyrdom that results from fighting unbelievers (47:4) — the only assurance of salvation in Islam (4:74; 9:111)?

Are the sins of any Muslim who becomes a martyr forgiven by the very act of being slain while slaying the unbelievers (4:96)?

And is it really true that martyrs are rewarded with virgins, among other carnal delights, in Paradise (38:51, 55:56; 55:76; 56:22)?

Are those unable to do jihad — such as women or the elderly — required to give "asylum and aid" to those who do fight unbelievers in the cause of Allah (8:74)?

Does Islam advocate expansion by force? And is the final command of jihad, as revealed to Muhammad in the Quran, to conquer the world in the name of Islam (9:29)?

Is Islam the only religion that does not teach the Golden Rule (48:29)? Does the Quran instead teach violence and hatred against non-Muslims, specifically Jews and Christians (5:50)?

There are other questions, but these should do for a start. If the answers are "yes," then at least Americans will know there's no such thing as moderate Islam, even as they trust that there are moderate Muslims who do not act out on its violent commands.

Very good questions. I have made the links hot links so the reader can see for himself.


Worst Hotels for WiFi Service

Gizmodo blogged What better service for our dear readers than telling you which hotels to avoid because of their world-class-awful WiFi service. The Hotel Chatter web site helped us out yesterday with a list of the best WiFi hotels, and follows that today with those that are best avoided.

Although the list is politely written, there are some surprises on it. Marriott Flagship is at the top for its inconsistency across its Residence Inn, Courtyard and other brands, not just for the bad quality of the connection but also the user-unfriendliness of it all. The Kor Hotel Group is second in line for bottom honors and then the big surprise, there sits that king of the boutiques, W Hotels in third place in this rogue’s gallery. Read 'em and weep, innkeepers, and maybe fix things up for next year.

Worst WiFi Hotels 2006 [HotelChatter]

Best WiFi Hotels [HotelChatter]

If you travel a lot, these would be two links to bookmark.


GoogleBlog disappears and promptly reappears

Official Google Blog said The Google Blog was unavailable for a short time tonight. We quickly learned from our initial investigation that there was no systemwide vulnerability for Blogger. We'll let you know more about what did happen once we finish looking into it.

Update: We've determined the cause of tonight's outage. The blog was mistakenly deleted by us (d'oh!) which allowed the blog address to be temporarily claimed by another user. This was not a hack, and nobody guessed our password. Our bad.

Interesting. Google accidently deletes its own blog, and quickly recovers it, even after the name has been claimed by someone else, yet when their overeager spam elimination software deleted Betsy's Page (see here and here it took them several days to get it restored.


AP = Admitting Plagiarizing?

L'Ombre de l'Olivier blogged This is an amazing tale (H/t Majikthise). It seems that when the AP is caught cutting and pasting huge chunks of blogger original research into its own story on the same subject the response is "we do not credit blogs":
Then don't copy material from blogs.
We contacted an AP senior editor and ombudsmen both and both admitted to having had the article passed on to them, and both stated that they viewed us as a blog and because we were a blog, they did not need to credit us. What we are or are not is frankly irrelevant. What is relevant is that by using a term like blog to somehow excuse plagiarism, the mainstream press continues to lower the bar for acceptable behavior. It need not matter where the AP got the information, research, and actual wording from. What matters is that if they use it in part or in whole, they must attribute properly.
If you copy from one source, it is plagerism. If you copy from multiple sources, it is research. But you still must identify where you got the information.
A blog or a small press publication or grads students working in the corner of a library all equally deserve credit for their work, period.
Unfortunately this is far too common and has happened to me and to other writers and bloggers far too frequently. This time, however, we made a point of tape recording the AP apparatchiks admitting to taking our work and using it without attribution, stating "we do not credit blogs".


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Schools Cut Back Subjects to Push Reading and Math

NYT Thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math testing requirements laid out in No Child Left Behind, President Bush's signature education law, by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it.

Wonderful. Reading and Math are very important subjects, and until the students master both of them, they should not be wasting their time in other subjects.
The intense focus on the two basic skills is a sea change in American instructional practice, with many schools that once offered rich curriculums now systematically trimming courses like social studies, science and art.
If the students don't know how to read, they are not going to learn that much in social studies or science, and they are not going to make a living knowing hot to draw. Teach them to read and write and do math, and then you can teach them the other stuff.
A nationwide survey by a nonpartisan group that is to be made public on March 28 indicates that the practice, known as narrowing the curriculum, has become standard procedure in many communities.


More Than 500,000 Rally in L.A. for Immigrants' Rights

Los Angeles Times Joining what some are calling the nation's largest mobilization of immigrants ever, hundreds of thousands of people boisterously marched in downtown Los Angeles Saturday to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall on the U.S. southern border. Spirited crowds representing labor, religious groups, civil-rights advocates and ordinary immigrants stretched over 26 blocks of downtown Los Angeles from Adams Blvd. along Spring Street and Broadway to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting "Si se puede!" (Yes we can!).

Where were the Immigration police? They claim that it is too hard to find the illegals and deport them. All they had to do was look. 500,000 of them were right there. They should have just herded them back across the border.