November 2003 Archives
PARIS -- Political kickbacks, luxury villas bought with public money, illegal party funding. The corruption trial surrounding oil company Elf has already tarnished the French establishment and ruined careers. Now the decade-long investigation into the former state-owned company comes to its climax on Wednesday, with the announcement of verdicts in France's biggest-ever graft scandal. A total of 37 defendants have been on trial since March for their roles in the alleged embezzlement of some euro300 million($345 million) from Elf during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Among them is a trio of former senior officials from Elf - now a part of the Franco-Belgian oil group Total - including its ex-president, Loik Le Floch-Prigent. The case has stained the reputation of France's political and business elites, raising damaging allegations of illegal party funding to both sides of the political spectrum and shining a spotlight on France's handling of its African oil interests. Convictions are inevitable for many of the key defendants, observers say. Le Floch-Prigent, 60, and his former second-in-command, Alfred Sirven, have admitted some of the charges, faced with detailed evidence gathered during an eight-year probe.Total Fina Elf was the main oil company participating in the U.N. Oil for Food program with Iraq. There has *never* been a public accounting of the money...
< ! - pulled 11/10/03
< ! - pulled 11/10/03
Excellent as always:
from Rick Ross' excellent CultNews site:
The relationship guru who constantly promotes himself as "Dr. John Gray" and lists a "Ph.D." has only one accredited degree, a high school diploma.
Previously CultNews.com reported that Gray's doctorate is "worthless." According to California's attorney general a "diploma mill" that was later shut down issued it.
CultNews kept checking further and can now report that both of John Gray's other purported degrees are also unaccredited and essentially worthless too.
Neither his BA nor his MA is from an accredited institution of higher education.
from the U.K. Telegraph
It was left to the head of Fox News, Roger Ailes, to get to the key point.
Mr Ailes was taken with Mr Prodi's declaration that the EU would not give any money to the reconstruction of Iraq. "Did the Europeans realise," he asked, "that American taxpayers spent billions reconstructing Europe?" "They did," replied Mr Prodi expansively, "but friends could differ."
"Did the Europeans realise," continued Ailes, unabashed, "that their position in supporting the elimination of sanctions against Saddam when he was in power and refusing to aid rebuilding Iraq when he was gone, appeared 'odd'?"
Mr Prodi's English became more Italianate and his arm gestures more expansive. He appeared to be conducting Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries . It was not the case that the EU did not want to help reconstruction, he said, but there was no legitimate government in Iraq to which the EU could give any money.
Ailes continued: "The United States has some reservations about organisations the EU gives money to as well as regimes it supports. In Iraq we are trying to build a new government with some democratic standards. Why won't you help us?" he asked. "No, no, no," Prodi said theatrically. "We will not give money when we don't know to whom." Which of course explained the hundreds of millions given to the Palestinian Authority by the EU. They must have known it would end up in Mr Arafat's Swiss bank account. I had fleeting visions of jolly African dictators cashing their Euro-cheques.
One sympathises with Mr Prodi. If you have the dual goal of acting against the US while maintaining the image of acting in friendship, one's charms get stretched. The problem is the way that the EU developed and is continuing to develop. Now it stands for Western values in name only. In substance, it stands for accommodation with those forces of the world that are the opposite of such values.
Nov. 10, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal investigators have documented 1,300 cases of lost, stolen or abandoned radioactive material inside the United States over the past five years and have concluded there is a significant risk that terrorists could cobble enough together for a dirty bomb.
Studies by the Energy Department's Los Alamos laboratory and the General Accounting Office found significant holes in the nation's security net that could take years to close, even after improvements by regulators since Sept. 11, 2001.
"The world of radiological sources developed prior to recent concerns about terrorism, and many of the sources are either unsecured or provided, at best, with an industrial level of security," the Los Alamos lab concluded two months ago in a report that was reviewed by The Associated Press.
article in Nature
Each year tankers, container ships and trawlers emit a quantity of nitrogen oxides (NOx) similar to that released by the entire United States, the study finds1. "A single industry's emissions rival an entire nation," says marine-policy researcher James Corbett of the University of Delaware in Newark.
Nitrogen oxides are potent pollutants. Produced in large amounts by ships' burning of heavy diesel fuel, called bunker, they can release complex cocktails of reactive gases, such as ozone, into the atmosphere.
Bunker fuel is nasty stuff - consistancy of tar. It has to be kept hot in order for it to flow.
from The Register
Last week, it was announced that Penn State University was paying for a Napster subscription for each student to they could download "free" music into their computers.
Now it turns out that there was a big political element behind this decision:
For those keeping a close eye on the music download service scene, we'd like to introduce you to Barry K. Robinson.
Robinson sits on Penn State University's Board of Trustees, and, as it turns out, serves as senior counsel for none other than the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). This is a handy coincidence. You might recall that Penn State announced a deal last week to subsidize the Napster music service and give all of its students free music downloads.
Penn State's deep ties to the RIAA are intriguing. Along with Robinson, the school's President Graham Spanier serves as co-chair of the Committee on Higher Education and the Entertainment Industry with Cary Sherman who is President of the RIAA.
The money comes out of the student's IT fees - you cannot save the songs (an additional $0.99/song fee is needed for this) and the music goes away from your system if you disconnect the computer from the Penn State network. Plus, it only runs on Windows.
Two interesting reports regarding vegetarianism and health:
from the U.K. Independent
Vegan and macrobiotic diets have led to the return of rickets in Britain, according to experts. They say cases among children are rising, more than 50 years after the disease was virtually eradicated by better health and nutrition.
Please note - this is a summary since the article is more than one-week old.
and a bit of interesting news from Prevention
Vitamin B12 deficiency
A new German study found B12 levels low enough to cause attention, mood, and thinking problems in a whopping 68% of vegetarians, and low enough to raise blood homocysteine--a risk factor for heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's--in 38%. Remedy: a daily multivitamin with 100% of the daily value for B12 (6 micrograms).
The article doesn't provide a link to the German study but this is of interest...
You are what you eat.
from the Life Sciences Network
Witch-hunts usually target people, Lance Kennedy writes. But in recent years one of the most successful witch-hunts targeted an innocent technology.
It all began in 1997 with a piece of incredibly shoddy science. A researcher fed raw genetically modified potatoes to lab rats and notice they became sick. He passed the results on to the world�s media and what followed was a frenzy with Armageddon-like declarations. On the back of this free publicity the anti-GM lobby launched their crusade.
Six months later two findings were ignored. The first was that the GM potatoes were harmless. All raw potatoes, GM or not, are toxic to rats.
The second was that an anti-GM crusade was an ideal way to arouse public fear and paranoia. Membership in anti-GM lobby groups was up and so was fund raising.
Some of the larger groups, over six years, increased their earnings from under $50 million to over $150 million US per year. Anti-GM hysteria was very profitable. These groups had vast amounts of money under their control and that meant increased power.
Even when the scientific claims that launched the crusade were found lacking the campaigns continued. Today they rely upon lies, wild speculation and emotionalistic propaganda. If we discard the red herrings that are thrown out we are left with two important issues surrounding the use of genetically modified crops and foods.
The first question: Is it safe?
The second: Is it useful?
For all government approved GM crops and foods the safety issue is clear. They are totally safe. The list of scientific, extra-governmental bodies that have researched and approved GM foods is almost endless: the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the United Nations Food Program, the British Royal Society, the French Academy of Science and Medicine and many more.
When it comes to safety GM foods are the most studied foods we eat. Just in the United States alone each GM crop or food undergoes about 1,000 laboratory and field tests.
So far over 2 billion people have eaten GM foods for over a decade and there is not one single scientifically confirmed case of any harm, no matter how slight, arising from the genetic modification of these foods.
Are they useful? Absolutely.
GM sweet potatoes in Africa are immune to a devastating disease that often kills 100 percent of vital food crops. The inventor, Dr. Florence Wambugu says this will feed an extra ten million starving Africans. The most used GM crop is a herbicide resistant soya bean. Using it allows no-till agriculture that saves one billion tonnes of topsoil from erosion each year in the United States alone.
GM corn is cultivated without the use insecticides and reduces the amount of toxic pesticides by 5,000 tonnes per year. That figure is increasing.
Golden rice is a GM variety with extra vitamin A. It has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of children from going blind.
Anti-GM witch-hunters are causing enormous human suffering.
In Zambia, where 3 million people are starving, the United States offered food aid in the form of corn that contained some GM varieties. Americans have been eaten those varieties for years with no harm. But the anti-GM lobby got to the Zambian government with a staggering lie: GM corn is toxic.
In the Philippines 30 percent of children suffer from vitamin A deficiency. Golden rice, which was to be released there, was stopped by anti-GM lobbyists. They claimed it could cause impotency or make one�s hair fall out.
Greenpeace was especially vitriolic in it�s attack. Some proponents suspect this is because Golden rice is especially useful and if it were seen to have dramatic benefits it would undermine the entire anti-GM crusade.
What of the future?
Experience with past witch-hunts suggests that hysteria eventually reaches a peak. And it appears the hysteria against GM is peaking. From now on we can expect to see the rational elements growing stronger till the anti-GM lobby is discredited. Apart from a few die-hards the campaign will cease.
Much damage has already been done and the lives of thousands have been lost by these ill advised attacks. But again if history is an indication the witch-hunters will simply move on to new hysteria. Already some of the anti-GM crowd are gearing up to launch a campaign to oppose the fledgling science of nanotechnology. Nonsense never ends.
Lance Kennedy, B.Sc., is the author of the recently published book Ecomyth. This opinion piece is provided as a public service by the Institute for Liberal Values. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
10 November 2003
All raw potatoes are toxic to rats - you think that this would have caused the anti-GM foods people to re-evaluate their position but no... They keep on rollin' along.
Science is all about re-evaluating your ideas in the light of new data.
The anti-GM people are running a political campaign based on hysteria and false information. They are not based on science.
from the Australian Herald Sun newspaper:
THE Australian Greens have demanded that taxpayers fund sex-change operations under Medicare.
Senator Kerry Nettle is pushing for sex change surgery to be included in the Federal Government's $917 million Medicare package.
The Greens want voters with alternative sexual preferences to get access to Medicare in both the public and private health systems under their Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex policy package.
Health Minister Tony Abbott has written off negotiations with the Greens and instead opened the door to discussions with the Australian Democrats.
Under current laws, recipients of sex change operations are eligible for a 20 per cent tax break if costs exceed $1500 a year.
Interesting commentary from Robert Bidinotto
The first spark of the California fire season ignited unseen, 'way back in 1988, when its kangaroo rat was declared an "endangered species." Since then, compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 has forced California communities, and countless more across the nation, to develop species and habitat "conservation plans" that severely limit human activities in "protected" areas.
"Protected," that is, from everything except wildfires--especially on the vast tracts of government lands and forests in the West. "Species protections" and "wilderness" designations have erected formidable legal barriers to common-sense forestry management measures such as cutting new roads through forests for fire-fighting equipment, bulldozing "firebreaks," and clearing away dead branches, underbrush, and sage scrub--fuels which send fires leaping to the crowns of trees and raging out of control.
The General Accounting Office warned in 1999 of the dangerous accumulation of fuel, but environmentalist pressures continued to prevent humans from managing environments that greens preferred to keep "pristine." In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Robert H. Nelson surveyed the resulting damages and body counts. In 2000, 8.4 million acres went up in smoke. In 2002, 6.9 million more acres were reduced to ashes, as were 800 homes, in firestorms that also took the lives of 23 more firefighters, and cost $1.7 billion. Now, three-quarters of a million acres of California are gone, and with them, over 3,500 homes, $2 billion, and 22 more human lives. And all this doesn't count the impact on critters, either. These conflagrations destroyed many of the very "endangered species" and habitats that environments claimed they wish to protect.
He gives a bunch of links to back up his ideas - well worth thinking about...
from the New Scientist
Oil-seeking nanoparticles could give police the clearest fingerprints yet, suggests new research.
Law enforcement officers currently search for prints by dusting a crime scene with fluorescent powder. This sticks to the oily residue left by the fingertip, showing up the whorls and ridges. But sometimes the prints are not clear enough to finger a suspect.
The new dust made of sticky nanoparticles could help. The powders used today work because oily prints have a natural tackiness. But the nanoparticle dust being developed at the University of Sunderland in the UK will actively seek out any oil.
The nanoparticles are tiny glass spheres between 200 and 600 nanometres in diameter. As well as being speckled with a fluorescent dye, they are coated with hydrophobic molecules, which are repelled by water and attracted to oil. So they fix tightly to the fingerprint.
Cool use of technology!
from the New Scientist
Four toxic US "ghost" ships, which have been legally barred from being dismantled in a UK port, should return home says the UK government.
However, UK authorities acknowledge the vessels may not be able to safely traverse the Atlantic during the winter. If this is the case a "safe and environmentally sound storage" must be found for the antiquated vessels.
However, the company's waste management licence to dispose of the ships has been ruled invalid. Furthermore, even if they do dock, an injunction against any work other than safety work being carried was granted by the High Court to three Hartlepool residents and FoE on Wednesday.
The dilapidated vessels, which have languished in the James River, Virginia for decades, hold hundreds of tons of asbestos, oil and the gender-bending chemicals PCBs. Bringing them to the UK is "extremely hazardous and poses serious pollution threat" says FoE.
So basically, the U.K. company won the bid to disassemble the ships and remediate the toxins but three people (and Freinds of the Earth) won an injunction to stop this. Now, the ships will be sitting at anchor off the U.K. coast until something breaks...
from Jakob Nielsen
Summary: There are ten usability mistakes that about two-thirds of corporate websites make. The prevalence of these errors alone warrants attention, especially since they appear on sites with significant investment in usable design.I typically focus my top-ten lists on issues that I think are the most important and most in need of attention. This time, I've used a different criterion: I've focused on the known usability principles that designers most frequently violate. Whether big or small, the very prevalence of these usability problems makes them worthy of attention.
The frequency statistics are based on the numerous homepage reviews that my company has performed since I published my book on homepage usability. This data source introduces a bias, because only big companies or government agencies with a substantial usability commitment will invest $10,000 to have an independent expert assess its homepage design. However, we can turn that bug into a feature: if companies with a demonstrated commitment to usability make certain mistakes, they must be particularly slippery pitfalls.
For each of the ten most frequent mistakes, I state the deplorably low percentage of homepages that follow the guideline. I've sorted the list by compliance rate: number one is the guideline that the fewest sites follow (that is, the mistake that's made most often).
While Neo slugs it out with Agent Smith on the silver screen, chess champ Garry Kasparov is about to face off against a different -- but no less formidable -- computer adversary in New York this week.
In what's becoming an annual tradition, Kasparov will take on the world's best chess-playing computer program, ChessBase's Fritz, for a $200,000 purse.
The four-game match, running from Nov. 11 to 18 at New York's Athletic Club, is once again billed as "Man versus Machine," but with an added twist.
The match is the "first official world chess championship in total virtual reality," proclaims organizer X3D in the best carnival-barker tradition. "A chess spectacle like none ever seen before."
Playing a special version of Fritz, which has been given a 3-D interface, Kasparov will sit in front of a monitor wearing a pair of 3-D glasses. The board will appear to float in front of Kasparov's face. Keeping it virtual, Kasparov will use voice commands to stop the clock and move his pieces.
Despite the 3-D gimmick, the tournament is a serious test of the state of computer chess, said Mig Greengard, a chess writer and one of the tournament's commentators.
Glen Reynolds has a good writeup on the Goose Creek Incident
GOOSE CREEK: A NATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT
On Friday, police in Goose Creek, South Carolina raided Stratford High School in search of drugs. At the behest of Principal George McCrackin, they burst in, and forced students to lie face-down in the hallways while they menaced them with drawn guns. (You can see the video here.)
The security overkill led to considerable humiliation for the police and principal � though not nearly as much as they deserve � when no drugs were found, and when footage from the dozens of security cameras in the high school made the news, offering graphic evidence that the Goose Creek police were acting like thugs. Parents, not suprisingly, are �infuriated.�
Principal McCrackin would seem to be this year�s poster-boy for home schooling. With an Orwellian network of video surveillance (if you play the news video linked above, you can see him sitting in front of a bank of TV screens), with �confidential informants� among the students, and with a police force willing to raid a high school as if it were a nest of terrorists, he still couldn�t find the drugs. If, indeed, there were any drugs to begin with. Why would anyone pay taxes to support this sort of expensive and nasty foolishness? A lot of Goose Creek residents may ask themselves that very question.
from the BBC
The humanitarian situation in northern Uganda is worse than in Iraq, or anywhere else in the world, a senior United Nations official has said. UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland was speaking to the BBC after visiting the area affected by 18 years of civil war.
"It is a moral outrage" that the world is doing so little for the victims of the war, especially children, he said.
And the U.N. is doing exactly what to help this situation?
from the BBC
Steel tariffs have raised costs for US industry
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has confirmed that US tariffs on steel imports are illegal.
The WTO's announcement is a victory for the European Union (EU), and puts fresh pressure on Washington to withdraw import duties on steel.
The WTO appellate body upheld the decision of a panel of trade judges that the tariffs were not consistent with international trade rules.
The US said it "disagrees" with the ruling and would review the decision.
The trade organisation said the US measures were "inconsistent" with free trade agreements.
We hope that President Bush will act quickly to remove the... restrictions, so that we can get on with supplying our US customers on a fair and equitable basis
Spokesman for Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus
It said: " The appellate body recommends ... the United States to bring its safeguard measures, ... into conformity with its obligations under WTO rules", the 186-page ruling said.
The EU, whose steel industry has undergone a painful reorganisation, had joined forces with Brazil, Japan, and other exporters to complain to the WTO about the US tariffs, imposed 21 months ago.
The European Commission has drawn up a hit list of US imports worth about $2.2bn a year - including Harley Davidson motorcycles, citrus fruits and textiles - which will be targeted with retaliatory sanctions.
Riiight - they are going to gripe about our tarrifs on steel and turn around and impose tarrifs on our stuff... That's going to go over really really well.
Note that this is the EU - "New" European countries who aren't in the EU are doing just fine and don't need this level of protectionism.
Ran into another blog from Iraq - English is not their first language but love and feelings from the heart is.
I used to know a bunch of middle-eastern people and there are some wonderful folks out there. There are also a large number of 'radical' islamists who have corrupted the culture in response to their own cultural failings.
We must not lump these two population sets together - they are two different groups of people and the wonderful ones are in the great majority.
Anyway, read his entry:
My God, the other Iraqi bloggers must have experienced this too. The deluge has started already. But I am overjoyed, I try hard to read every comment. Most of them so full of Love. Yeah, it is about Love after all. Each comment deserves to be answered and discussed in depth. Forgive me everybody. The task is simply impossible. People ask questions; serious questions; questions that need to be answered. It makes you wonder; what for these multi-billion media empires if the most elementary information so badly required by the people are not available?
Thanks Ziad ( Healing Iraq ), comrade in arms, it was your inspiration that started me on this.
( Allah Akbar Wal yakhsaa Al Khasioun - Good Old Saddam !!! ) - Iraqi joke friends.
So many things, I know not where to start.
But before everything else - a call to american and western people, before everything else:
An Iraqi american ( Sam ) writes in the comments section of Healing Iraq, that his house was recently attacked by somebody and an american neighbour came to his rescue.
You have amongst you in the US alone an estimated more that one million Iraqis, not to mention the other Iraqis elsewhere in Europe etc., These are christians, Moslems and etc. from all groups of the Iraqi population. The vast majority of these are patriotic and for a new Iraq.
But you also have the Mob, just like the dancing peasants of Fallujah, these are ignorant people who know nothing and can't see past their noses. We are disturbed by this level of ignorance which cannot distinguish friend from foe, and lumps everybody under generic classifications which bear no rhyme or logic behind them.
Please fight this ignorance, please be kind to our compatriots in your midst. Remember every body what President Bush has said : " Our greatest allies are the Iraqi people ".
Many people ask whether we have heard the President's speach. Yes we have. Immediately the Chorus of AlJazeera, Al Arabiya, etc. and amazingly, CNN, BBC etc, started their spoiling, doubt-semming, bitchy insinuations, interviewing, this character from egypt and that "analyst " from Syria etc. ( seldom an Iraqi is asked, or if they find one, a well known former close associate of the Saddam regime or someone like that ). Pretending to be objective, pretending to be "balanced", they try their best to kill the joy that the shining reassuring words bring to our frightened hearts.
It goes on and is worth reading.
The bad news you hear about in the media is coming from an area that comprises a few percent of the Iraq country (Iraq is about the size of California - the Sunni-triangle is about the size of L.A.) Saddam had his power base here and this is where the remanents of the Baath party hardliners live and still work... The rest of the country is welcoming us, things are going really well and if you spend the time digging on the web, there is a lot of accurate reporting available...
Fascinating site presenting early work in time/motion photography. Most of us know about Eadweard Muybridge but there were a lot of other people working in those fields.
One in particular stands out:
Lucien Bull did work with triggered flash and continuously moving film to capture some wonderful images of flying insects. Well before Edgerton's day.
Jen and I finished the day with an Awards banquet.
Even though we did not have a product to submit, we attended the first anual National Cider Tasting Awards banquet in Seattle. There were about 30 ciders from all over the USA and Canada and there were nine awards given out. Excellent food, wonderful people and some amazing ciders!
from the Guardian
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - As many as 300,000 Iraqis killed during Saddam Hussein's 23-year dictatorship are believed to be buried in more than 250 mass graves found so far around the country, the top human rights official in the U.S.-led civilian administration said Saturday.
Sandy Hodgkinson spoke at workshop to train dozens of Iraqis to find and protect mass grave sites that many fear could be destroyed by desperate relatives trying to dig for evidence of their missing loved ones.
Interesting review by Roger Ebert where he talks about his experience with the Columbine massacre:
Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. "Wouldn't you say," she asked, "that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?" No, I said, I wouldn't say that. "But what about 'Basketball Diaries'?" she asked. "Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?" The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.
The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."
In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.
I spent this afternoon at the U.W. Auction getting some lab equipment for Black Mountain Cider and tonight, Jen and I are going to a cider tasting and dinner event.
Tomorrow proves to be busy to with hiking and beer brewing planned...
Blogging will resume Monday
Excellent analysis of the 'recession' and recovery over on QandO blog - scroll down to Unemployment Rate or read here:
Today the Unemployment Rate has been lowered to 6.0%, providing a good excuse to review a little rate history.
The unemployment rate has been cited as evidence that Bush's economic policies are hurting the economy. Fine, let's take a look at our current performance, relative to other post-recession periods.
(unless otherwise linked, all data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics)
* The recession ended in November 2001.
* Unemployment reached a one-month high of 6.4%, while more generally staying in the 5.8-6.2% range.
* Amount of time between the end of the recession and the date at which the unemployment rate declined to 6.0% - 23 months.
* The recession ended in March 1991.
* Unemployment reached a one-month high of 7.8%, while more generally staying in the 6.8-7.4% range.
* Amount of time between the end of the recession and the date at which the unemployment rate declined to 6.0% - 41 months.
* The recession ended in November 1982
* Unemployment reached a two-month high of 10.8%, but ranged widely from 7-10%.
* Amount of time between the end of the recession and the date at which the unemployment rate declined to 6.0% - 57 months.
Now, compare our previous post-recessionary periods with our current post-recessionary period and try to figure out why this unemployment rate is being called unusually bad.
Oh. Right. Elections.
from the Linux Journal Suit Watch column:
Back to Novell. I've known the company for a long time, since nearly the beginning. I even consulted for them for a while. I think Novell gets scant credit for a number of huge innovations, starting with changing the network conversation from an argument between proprietary locked-in silos to an agreement around the need for a roster of interoperable services, including file, print, security, directory, management, messaging and so on.
The Novell people responsible for changing that conversation, Craig and Judith Burton, are two of my best friends. In fact, we became friends because I was an extreme fan of the jujitsu moves they put on everybody else in the market at that time. It was amazing to watch. Remember Digital's OmniNet? Wang's WangNet? 3Com's 3Server? IBM's Token Ring? Ungermann-Bass' NetOne? How about Microsoft's MSNet? Remember the whole debate between fat and thin Ethernet cabling? Or the various expensive proprietary forms of wiring IBM wanted you to buy to replace whatever it was your company already had spent hundreds of thousands to pull through your buildings? No?
Thank Novell. They blew all that up. They played rope-a-dope with everybody else in the category, and when it was over Novell was King Network Rat, in spades. Nobody else even was in the game.
Then, somewhere along in there, Novell CEO Ray Noorda turned into Captain Ahab and Bill Gates became his Great White Whale. Ray wanted to kill Microsoft. For that he bought WordPerfect, so he could compete in office suites. He bought UNIX from AT&T and rebranded it UnixWare, so he could compete in operating systems. He bought Digital Research so he could get DR-DOS and needle Microsoft about ripping it off. Worst of all, he got rid of Craig and Judith. When he retired, he left a company with a roster of moribund acquisitions and a huge legacy business that continues to sustain it to this day.
Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's prime minister, stepped down late last month. You're welcome! Yes, that was me. I'm an American Jew, and I made sure it was time for him to go play cricket and visit his friends in jail.
After Mohamad's inflammatory comments about Jews running the world, and all the political fallout (thanks, Mr. President � boy, we owe you another one!), I thought perhaps it was time to clear the air. The truth is...we do run the world.
Somebody has to! Worlds don't run themselves. Have you ever seen a first-grade class when the teacher leaves the room? Please.
Here's how it works. Years ago (I'm afraid I can't be more specific), a meeting was held. After considerable arguing and complaining about the food (you can imagine), it was decided that every Jewish child would assume responsibility for about one-dozen categories of world governance, beginning on his or her 13th birthday. Now you know why Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties are so stressful for Jewish moms and dads � it's not just the chopped liver Mt. Sinai that's leaning to the left. The world is literally on our shoulders. (Why do you think we're always complaining that something hurts?)
in the Michagan News
But ten years ago, something happened in Austin. The meat packing plants began transporting illegal aliens from Texas to work in the plants around Austin. Why? To increase profits. At first, it didn�t mean much because the illegal aliens worked at odd jobs. They didn�t complain because they feared being deported. Their numbers were so small that the regular workers didn�t take notice.
That changed as the years passed. As ten illegals turned into 100 and then into 1000, and now over 3,000, Austin, Minnesota suffers accelerating problems. Once Austin kids skipped to school to learn their ABC�s. Today, they experience several foreign languages they can�t understand. At first, the teachers had the top kids in the class try to teach the �new� kids how to speak English. But as the food processing plants kept importing more workers and more kids, the teachers suffered the onslaught. Today, classroom teachers must deal with languages, head lice, hepatitis and the threat of tuberculosis because illegal aliens and their children bypass health screening at the border. Last year, eight police officers in Austin tested positive for tuberculosis.
Along with the illegal aliens came drugs, driving without driver�s licenses, lack of health insurance, non-citizens using medical facilities on taxpayer�s money, safe houses where illegals sleep 20 to a house, and a growing tension in the community.
The city leaders, at first, tried to accommodate the incursion into Austin. But, slowly, steadily, jobs vanished and if an Austin citizen complained--an illegal alien would take his place. The workplace, where standards were once upheld, now became a dangerous place where safety violations were overlooked and common place. At first the papers reported the drunk, drugged and disorderly that were arrested as �illegal aliens�, but soon, they became �undocumented workers�. A few townspeople stood up to protest at schools and community meetings but were shouted down by being called �racists�.
The downside of being overly Politically Correct...
from LAZARUS AT LARGE
Two of the three major credit-reporting agencies, each holding detailed files on about 220 million U.S. consumers, are in the process of outsourcing sensitive operations abroad, and a third may follow suit shortly, industry officials acknowledge for the first time.
Privacy advocates say the outsourcing of files that include Social Security numbers and complete credit histories could lead to a surge in identity theft because U.S. laws cannot be enforced overseas.
Excellent article from Digital Web Magazine regarding Cascading Style Sheets and why the current trend to do clever hacks with them is a Bad Thing...
Wonderful parody of the Grinch casting our favorite corporation as the Grinch...
The Grinch Who Stole Linux
-- by Scott Lazar
Down in GNU-ville
Liked Linux a lot...
who lived just North of GNU-ville,
SCO hated Linux! The GNU Linux season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that their heads weren't screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that their shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that their bank account was two sizes too small.
It gets better...
Patrick Moore was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace back in 1971.
Excerpts from some of his essays:
When I helped to create Greenpeace from a church basement in Vancouver in 1971 I had no idea that I would spend the next 15 years as an international director and leader of many Greenpeace campaigns. I also had no idea that after I left in 1986 they would evolve into a band of scientific illiterates who use Gestapo tactics to silence people who wish to express their views in a civilized forum.
Since its founding in the late 60's the modern environmental movement had created a vision that was international in scope and had room for people of all political persuasions. We prided ourselves in subscribing to a philosophy that was "trans-political, trans-ideological, and trans-national" in character. For Greenpeace, the Cree legend "Warriors of the Rainbow" referred to people of all colors and creeds, working together for a greener planet. The traditional sharp division between left and right was rendered meaningless by the common desire to protect our life support systems. Violence against people and property were the only taboos. Non-violent direct action and peaceful civil disobedience were the hallmarks of the movement. Truth mattered and science was respected for the knowledge it brought to the debate.
Now this broad-based vision is challenged by a new philosophy of radical environmentalism. In the name of "deep ecology" many environmentalists have taken a sharp turn to the ultra-left, ushering in a mood of extremism and intolerance. As a clear signal of this new agenda, in 1990 Greenpeace called for a "grassroots revolution against pragmatism and compromise".
Surprisingly enough the second event that caused the environmental movement to veer to the left was the fall of the Berlin Wall. Suddenly the international peace movement had a lot less to do. Pro-Soviet groups in the West were discredited. Many of their members moved into the environmental movement bringing with them their eco-Marxism and pro-Sandinista sentiments.
Despite the fact that communism and state socialism has failed, eco-extremists are basically anti-business. They dislike "competition" and are definitely opposed to profits. Anyone engaging in private business, particularly if they are sucessful, is characterized as greedy and lacking in morality. The extremists do not seem to find it necessary to put forward an alternative system of organization that would prove efficient at meeting the material needs of society. They are content to set themselves up as the critics of international free enterprise while offering nothing but idealistic platitudes in its place.
A voice of reason...
This years Grape harvest was less than usual but the grapes themselves were outstanding.
PROSSER, Wash. (AP) --
Wine grape growers in Washington harvested less fruit this year than expected, but the smaller quantity means more intense flavors and an exceptional 2003 vintage, growers and winemakers say.
The crop estimate by the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers for the 2003 growing season was 124,000 tons at the end of July, the highest ever. Harvests, though, have been coming in anywhere from 15 percent to 25 percent below that figure, Executive Director Vicky Scharlau said.
"We knew we would come in shorter than the estimate. We just didn't know how much," Scharlau said. "But that just really focuses the flavor and the taste on the grapes that are there."
Industry leaders said weather was the biggest factor this year: a cooler spring, a scorching summer that kept the berry size down, followed by a spell of warm weather in the autumn that lengthened grapes' hang time on the vine and improved flavor.
The Register has an interesting news item about Belkin routers.
It seems that every so often, some models will intercept an HTTP call and... well... rout it from where it was supposed to go over to here (a Belkin corporation web page advertising some services)
Belkin is now added to my list of " Do Not Patronise this Vendor "
Nice article by Yahia Said regarding the return of normalcy to Iraq.
I could not believe my ears. �I apologise for the inconvenience,� said the Iraqi policeman as he finished searching our car. We were at the checkpoint in front of the Alhamra hotel in Baghdad.
Over the past week I had grown accustomed to �the rediscovered humanity�, as another policeman put it, of Iraq�s law enforcers. But this was too much. With its policemen behaving like this, it is little wonder that Iraq is being perceived as a threat by its neighbours. Any visitor from most other Arab countries, where an encounter with the police is considered lucky if it is limited to verbal abuse, may be so shocked by this treatment as to return home bent on regime change.
By Philip Stott
Where conferences on "sustainable development" are concerned, Schumacher's precept, "small is beautiful", has been long abandoned. Later this month, 65,000 delegates will descend on Johannesburg for "Earth Summit 2002" - the World Summit on Environment and Development.
These will include 106 government heads, 10,000 officials from 174 countries, and 6,000 journalists. The BBC team alone could top 100. Twenty UN bodies will be represented. A second parallel conference, comprising a kaleidoscope of lobbyists from ornithologists to oil magnates, has already received 15,000 registrations. Sustaining the whole caboodle will be 27,000 police, who may well be relieved that George W Bush is unlikely to attend.
Auden's Unknown Citizen might well ask: "What on earth is it all about?" The answer is, an empty phrase that Humpty Dumpty could employ to mean anything. "Sustainable development" was born out of the Green agenda of the 1970s and 1980s, including such apocalyptic constructs as the population timebomb and limits to growth, both of which proved false.
It received an initial airing in the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987, but gained hegemony during the UN Conference on Environment and Development, held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Rio generated a programme, Agenda 21, for implementing sustainable development throughout the world. The Johannesburg jamboree is effectively Rio+10, a push for a revitalised and integrated UN system for sustainable development.
Sustainable development was defined in 1987 as "development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs". This was a good motherhood and apple pie sentiment, but how has it worked out?
Today, sustainable development is a ubiquitous, politically compliant phrase, a pleasant-sounding palliative to inexorable and inevitable change. It is dished up as a placebo to eco-chondriacs the world over. Ecological and economic change are the norm, not the exception. Equilibrium solutions are impossible; we inhabit a disturbing, non-equilibrium world, in which volcanoes erupt, earthquakes quake, seas rise and fall, and climate changes, whether under human influence or not.
Sustainable development lurks everywhere - for business, it is a neat PC word: all PR and ethical investment, but signifying little; for scientists, it means: "Give me funds for research"; for politicians: "Give me your nice Green vote".
The biggest problem arises when authoritarian environmentalists hijack the phrase. Then sustainable development becomes either no growth at all or limited growth of a type approved by an elite few - wind farms, yes: nuclear power no; organics, yes: GM no. This is why, so often, environmental organisations try to portray business as the arch-enemy of sustainable development. Like biodiversity, another key word from Rio, sustainability is thrown into the argument to block development and growth, to conjure up a return to an imagined, usually rural, Utopia.
But, theoretically, sustainability flies in the face of reality. From anthropology via physics to zoology, the world does not function in equilibrium, but rather on chaotic, non-equilibrium principles, whether in the stock market or with climate change. Sustainability is intrinsically an equilibrium idea seeking equilibrium solutions. It is easily employed to soften the fact of change and, in doing so, it undermines human dynamism and adaptability. This is exposed in the much-touted oxymoron - "sustainable climate".
The Kyoto protocol on climate change also arose from Rio. Climate is the most complex, chaotic, non-linear system. The idea that climate can be managed "in a predictable way" by manipulating one factor, carbon dioxide, out of the millions of factors involved is Alice-in-Wonderland science, with the verdict before the trial. This is the ultimate flaw: the sheer hubris of humans maintaining a "sustainable climate" vividly demonstrates the delusions of the sustainability myth.
Kyoto will do absolutely nothing to halt climate change in any predictable manner. For all we know, it might even play a tiny part in triggering a most unfortunate plunge into another ice age, which on purely statistical grounds is just about due. As we grow economically, the "command-and-control" targets of the type set under Kyoto are utterly impractical.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has just reported that America's increase of 3.2 per cent in carbon dioxide emissions in 2000 resulted from economic growth of 2.5 per cent, with a concomitant rise in the demand for electricity and fuels, compounded by cooler winter conditions (so much for "global warming") and a decreased output from hydro-electric dams.
And before gloating, "Yes, but that's America," remember that, in 2000, Spain's emissions had risen by no less than 33.7 per cent on 1990 and even Britain saw its carbon dioxide emissions rise by 1.2 per cent year on year.
Sustainability is an unrealistic and potentially dangerous concept. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the June preparatory meeting for Johannesburg, in Bali, ended in deadlock. Since then, inevitably, there has been a crescendo of environmentalist hype, with the planet seen as dying from every imaginary ill. Yet the Earth Summit must succeed - not for environmentalists, but for the people of less developed countries, who require genuine development and growth, not an eco-imperialist agenda.
Ultimately, we need strong, flexible and growing economies, coupled with a political will to help the poorest, the most afflicted by inexorable and unpredictable change. We should be seeking diversity in energy production, not because of climate, but because diversity is a key to flexibility.
It would be heartening if the vast horde of eco-delegates, parading their wares at Johannesburg, would heed the sentiment of Nitin Desai, the secretary-general of the summit, who declared only this week: "Development is now as sexy as the environment."
Philip Stott is Emeritus Professor of Biogeography at the University of London
� Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2003
Micheal J. Totten has a very salient point regarding the present Democratic party:
We Cannot Run Away
Democrats like to complain when people say they can�t be trusted with national security, as if it�s some "straw man" (their new favorite buzzword) spun up by Karl Rove and the White House.
It�s not what Republicans say that makes people wary. It�s what the Democrats say on their own.
Here is Peter Beinart, a Democrat I do trust, in the New Republic:A CBS poll in late August found that 53 percent of Democrats wanted the United States to either increase troop levels in Iraq or hold them steady, versus 37 percent who wanted to decrease the number. By last week, that figure had reversed itself. In a late October Washington Post/ABC News poll, 54 percent of Democrats said the "U.S. should withdraw forces from Iraq to avoid casualties," while only 40 percent wanted to keep them there.
Thank heaven for that 40 percent. But more than half want to run away.
What a complete and utter disaster that would be. Nothing we could do, and I mean nothing, would ratchet up more terror attacks than surrendering to them. The Democrats would have blood on their hands. The Baathists and Islamists would wage a devastating civil war in Iraq. If the left doesn�t like war, they shouldn�t go and kickstart a pointless and evil one into action.
I want to trust my old party to do the right thing, to hang in there, to not give in to fear, to support a good cause and help democratize Iraq. But I can�t. Some Democrats get it. But it�s a minority faction now.
From A List Apart
One bright, sunny day, the Bad Internet Fairy closed down every company and organization site on the web.
No more shopping. No more sites selling endless products and services. No more university, non-profit, or political sites.
So all the programmers, designers, and usability engineers went home, shaking their heads.
Too bad! No more web.
And they all slept in the next morning. After all, with the web gone, why go to work? They stayed home, got up late, sipped on their cappuccinos and nibbled on low-fat bagels.
And they missed something.
Wonderful article on the Marsh Arabs of Iraq and the return of their way of life.
All that Sabiha Fadel has in the world is now stacked in the sun at the edge of the water. There isn't much of it.
Water is returning to the dried-up wetlands
"We were living in the desert with nothing," she said. "When the waters came back, we returned immediately. It's a gift from God."
During the 1990s, tens of thousands of people living in Iraq's southern marshlands were driven into destitution as Saddam Hussein dried up the water that had sustained a way of life dating back around 5,000 years.
So far most of our intelligentsia have been more eager to explain what this war is not than what it is. Yet the conflict is not a hash-it-out in the faculty lounge, nor a brainstorm over a headline in the newsroom, nor flashy quippmanship in a political debate.
No, it is a deadly business about young men sleeping out in the rocks of Afghanistan and under tanks in Iraq who right now need to know whether this country is at war, peace, or something in between. So we need some straight talk, perhaps brutal honesty about a growing number of false assumptions before we go any further.
THE "IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM" SCHOOL
It is pedestrian � and for that very purpose mouthed ad nauseam � that we are not at war with Muslims of the world or Islam per se. Of course, we are not.
But it is also near criminal not to see that the distortion of Islam � not of Christianity, not of Hinduism, not of Buddhism � is the fuel of this entire conflagration, from the Taliban and al Qaeda to Hamas and Hezbollah, with plenty of secular opportunistic abettors like Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Basher Assad, and the faux-holy men in Iran thrown in.
We need honest language, not more pablum that "all religions can be distorted by extremists" � as if the Inquisition, the Hundred Years War, Timothy McVeigh, or the Shintoism of the Japanese militarists were contemporary events or relevant to the current struggle. They are not.
Read the whole thing
The great unemployment problem...
Might be going away along with the 7% rise in the economy.
U.S. Department of Labor shows a marked decrease in the number of unemployment claims.
They were averaging around 380,000 - 390,000 but seem to be hitting 350,000 now and decreasing.
The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
from Quote of the Day
First Pepsi announces that it will be giving away 100 Million free tune downloads from Apple's iTunes.
Now, McDonalds is announcing the same thing only this time, it's One Billion tunes...
Whoops - rumor not fact:
Thursday November 6, 12:51 pm ET
DES MOINES, Iowa (Dow Jones)--McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD - News) characterized a published report that it plans a massive digital song giveaway promotion as "pure speculation."
Responding to inquiries about a story in Thursday's New York Post that the fast-food giant will team up with Apple Computer Inc. (NasdaqNM:AAPL - News) to offer up to one billion free iTune downloads, McDonald's issued a statement saying, "There are no agreements to announce, so anything else is pure speculation."
Specific to 802.11i and Pre-Shared Key (used mainly for small networks)
Anyone with knowledge of the PSK can determine any PTK in the ESS through passive sniffing of the wireless network, listening for those all-important key exchange data frames. Also, if a weak passphrase is used, for example, a short passphrase, an offline dictionary attack can readily guess the PSK. Since the common usage will be a single PSK for the ESS, once this is learned by the attacker, the attacker is now a member of the ESS, and the whole ESS is compromised. The attacker can now read and forge any traffic in the ESS.
Pre-Shared Keying is provided in the standard to simplify deployments in small, low risk, networks. The risk of using PSKs against internal attacks is almost as bad as WEP. The risk of using passphrase based PSKs against external attacks is greater than using WEP. Thus the only value PSK has is if only truly random keys are used, or for deploy testing of basic WPA or 802.11i functions. PSK should ONLY be used if this is fully understood by the deployers.
Calgary Herald has a followup article on the McIntyre/McKitrick temperature re-analysis:
Kyoto critics better duck
Global warming industry doesn't want to hear that their pet project is flawed
For the Calgary Herald
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
When you question a multi-billion-dollar windfall, you'd better look out and, make no mistake about it, the Kyoto protocol translates into monster money for many researchers, bureaucrats and public institutions.
Kyoto is also perhaps the most potent weapon in the arsenal of those who oppose western capitalism and push instead for massive intervention.
That's why Toronto-based analyst Steve McIntyre and University of Guelph economics professor Ross McKitrick had better be battening down the hatches. Their paper, published last week in the respected British journal, Energy and Environment, is arguably the most damaging attack to date on the science behind Kyoto.
In a nutshell, they convincingly reveal that flawed calculations, incorrect data and a biased selection of climate records led Kyoto linchpin Michael Mann of the University of Virginia to declare that the 20th-century temperature rise was unprecedented in the past millennium. After correcting the data and then employing Mann's own methodologies, they found no such increase in global temperature variations had taken place, which places Kyoto's whole rationale in question.
The Canadian study comes on the heels of a recent Harvard climate study that made headlines in the scientific community by arguing that we are not living in the warmest period in the past 1,000 years, as Kyoto proponents claim. The authors, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, reviewed more than 250 research papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature on past climate and concluded temperatures were higher in medieval times, from about 800 to 1300, than they are now.
Upon reviewing the study, David Legates, director of the Centre for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware, stated that it should lead the scientific community to the "inescapable conclusion that climate variability has been a natural occurrence."
A year ago, respected scientist Christopher Essex observed, "global warming ceased to be the subject of scientific debate years ago," but that sorry state of affairs now seems to be changing as an increasing number of scientists, even before the recent Canadian study, were recoiling against the political hijacking of the debate.
In September, at the closing session of the UN's World Climate Change Conference in Moscow, the conference chairman acknowledged that scientists who questioned the Kyoto "consensus" made up 90 per cent of the contributions from the floor. They pointed to numerous flaws and doubts in the scientific case underlying worries about climate change.
Keep in mind that this new research focuses on the science of climate change and doesn't include the numerous attacks on the economic analysis and modelling in Kyoto that John Reilly of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change declared were "an insult to serious analysis."
Asked why he changed his position on a particular issue, John Maynard Keynes once responded, "Sir, the facts have changed and when the facts change, I change -- what do you do, sir?"
In the case of Kyoto, the answer is predictable -- shoot the messenger. Both McKitrick and McIntyre can expect an avalanche of personal attacks from the politically motivated. In Canada, far too much money is at stake to derail the Kyoto juggernaut.
Fox News has an interesting article on the thin / don't thin debate:
"Our forests are detonating like napalm bombs. We need to remove dead and dying bug-killed timber," said Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.
Is this Monday-morning quarterbacking spurred by the wildfires now raging in California? Hardly.
Rep. Herger uttered those words in August 1994 as part of his demand that Congress declare a state of emergency in federal forests to permit quick removal of dead trees, fallen branches and other debris that fuel wildfires -- like those that burned 3 million Western acres and killed 14 firefighters that year.
A spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council (search) responded at the time by calling Rep. Herger�s demand �a pretext for accelerated logging in the Sierra Nevada.�
Nine years later, though, Rep. Herger�s demand is looking pretty prescient.
Over 700,000 acres have burned so far this year in California alone, along with the loss of 20 lives and more than 2,600 homes destroyed. Last year, wildfires burned nearly 7 million acres, killed 23 firefighters, destroyed more than 800 homes and cost taxpayers more than $1.5 billion.
So what do the environmentalists have to say?
A spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defense Council called President Bush�s proposed plan to prevent forest fires by thinning excess growth �a Trojan horse� for sneaking through logging (search) projects.
As the Western forests burn -- and people die and homes are destroyed -- environmentalists and their political allies in Congress only seem concerned that some �old growth� trees may be cut in the process of thinning the nation�s tinder traps. Their nonsensical opposition to thinning only makes it easier for wildfires to spread out of control.
That�s positively cuckoo.
"We need to do some active management to prevent unnatural fire" that occurs as a result of dense underbrush and trees built up over decades, U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth says. "If that means cutting a 14-foot [diameter] Sequoia, that's reasonable [to do to] prevent fire."
Thinning forests (search) works -- and it�s actually more effective over the long-term than simply fighting forest fires every year.
A 1910 wildfire in Idaho, Montana and Washington burned 3 million acres and spurred the federal government to spend money to aggressively fight forest fires. This fire-fighting policy had an unintended result; forests became overgrown with trees and vegetation that could serve as fuel for more catastrophic fires.
In forests that have only tens of trees per acre, flames tend to stay close to the ground. But in crowded forests with hundreds and thousands of trees per acre, like we have today, the flames can easily move across tree tops. �Flames are 90 feet tall instead of 3 feet tall," according to the University of Idaho forestry expert Dr. Leon Neuenschwander.
A bill currently under consideration in Congress calls for aggressive thinning on up to 20 million acres of federal land at high risk of fire. The bill would reduce bureaucratic reviews and limit appeals -- the tools environmentalists use to block rational forest management -- so that some thinning efforts could be completed within months.
President Bush urged the Senate to pass the legislation -- last May. �For too many years, bureaucratic tangles and bad forest policy have prevented foresters from keeping our woodlands healthy and safe," said the president.
"This year's fire outlook seems less severe, and that's good news," the president added. "Yet the danger persists, and many of our forests are facing a higher-than-normal risk of costly and catastrophic fires."
California is apparently one of the areas of elevated risk referred to by the president.
Putting aside the environmentalists� general anti-industry -- especially anti-logging -- political agenda and accepting for argument�s sake their alleged concerns about the need to preserve �old growth forests� for �future generations,� the bill before Congress does not permit unrestricted clear-cutting of old growth forests.
Rather, it�s a limited measure intended to prevent the spread of forest fires and it has the collateral benefit of helping the timber industry (search), which has lost 47,000 jobs since 1989. Let�s also not forget that trees -- even old growth -- are not irreplaceable. They will grow back. Forest products giant Weyerhaeuser plants 130 million seedlings every year.
Under Bush�s proposal for thinning overgrowth, we�ll still have venerable �old growth� but also reduced vulnerability to annual, unpreventable and destructive wildfires.
Environmentalist squawking about thinning overgrowth reminds me of the Santa Ana winds (search) -- hot air that only fans wildfire flames.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003 Anti-terrorism demonstrations I wish to elaborate on this topic which I mentioned two days ago. I didn't go into much details at that time because I had not prepared an entry, so I wrote it on the fly.
First, I have to explain to some western idealists that public demonstrations is an alien idea to the majority of Iraqis. We have been forced to demonstrate in favour of Saddam, the Ba'ath, Palestine, and Arab nationalism for 3 decades. Just to give you an idea on how that was like for us; party members would surround colleges, schools, and govt. offices. They block all outlets and shove people into buses which head to wherever the demonstrations are to be held. You simply cannot refuse to demonstrate. I remember hiding in the toilet back in high school whenever the buses came into the park to herd us to the demos. It wasn't a pleasant experience I can tell you. Once I got stuck and had to shout anti-imperialist slogans at one of these rallies just two years ago. You don't have the slightest idea of what it is like to live your life daily in fear.
Now today, we are facing terrorist and violent threats against our nurseries, schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, oil pipelines, power stations, water purification systems, and other civilian facilities. If you think that a peaceful demonstration would deter those criminals from doing harm to us, then you are 100% wrong. Do you think the Syrians/Saudis/Iranians/Yemenis/Sudanese would simply say 'Oh look, the Iraqis don't want us there, lets go home and leave the Americans and Iraqis work it out'? Or if you think we should go out and face the dangers just to prove to you -paranoid Americans sitting in your ivory towers watching tv- that we do not support the terrorists, then you are wrong again.
You see a handful of teenagers dancing in front of the camera celebrating dead Americans, and you judge an entire people, you start whining about pulling the troops out of Iraq and giving the Iraqis what they deserve. Are you people really so close-minded? It is the fault of your news agencies that show you what they want, its certainly not ours. If you want us to go out and cry for your dead soldiers and wave American flags, then don't count on it either. We are losing way too many innocent Iraqis daily to be grieving over dead soldiers who have actually made a decision to come here. What about the thousands of dead Iraqis who were not as lucky to have a choice? Did you cry for them?
According to a poll by an Iraqi agency, only 3% of Iraqis want Saddam back and less than 40% want the Americans to leave immediately. Did you even hear about these results?
If you think that Iraqis aren't doing enough, then you're being mislead by your media. Thousands of people are applying to be members of IP, FPS, and the civil defense force. They are begging for the security to be in their hands. We know how to handle those scum. The Americans are more interested in being nice and all about human rights and free speech and stuff. We have our own Law and court systems which we can use but the CPA won't allow us to. They are being too lenient and forgiving on our expence. If you think that is what is required to build a successful democracy then you're too deluded. You don't know the first thing about the Iraqi society.
Iraqis are providing intelligence to the CPA hourly. Just ask the soldiers here. Iraqis are cooperating in every way they can. They're losing their lives for it goddammit. If you aren't seeing it on tv, it isn't my fucking problem.
Imagine yourself living in a neighbourhood with a large number of ex-Baathists/Wahhabis/extremists like I do. Would you go out and denounce the Jihadis/Ba'athists openly for everyone to see, and then get back from work one day to find your brother kidnapped or a threat letter hanging on your door? A friend of mine was standing in front of his house with his kids when a car drove by and emptied a magazine of bullets into them. You know why? Because he was working with the CPA in reconstructing Baghdad Airport. What do you think he did? He stubbornly refused to quit his job and bravely returned to work after spending a week in hospital. Would you do the same? Of course not. We expected most of the IP would simply leave their jobs after last weeks bombing, well they didn't. In fact there were thousands of parents volunteering to carry arms and protect the schools which their kids attend to allow the IP to do their real job.
Let me be honest. Look at what 9/11 did to you. It shocked you, and you can't get over it to this day. Well let me invite you to Iraq where 9/11 is an everyday reality. How would you live your life? Stop comparing your 'perfect' society with mine. It isn't the same. People don't think the same. We don't put flags and stickers on our cars to show how patriotic we are. We don't go out in a 'dentists against terrorism' demonstration. We still don't have your free-speech and other social niceties yet.
Another thing I'm sure you haven't seen in your news. There are paintings on the walls all over Baghdad warning Arab foreigners from a bloody revenge if they keep messing with our affairs. Iraqis are openly calling the GC to quit the Arab League.
And to the guy who was being sarcastic about me sitting in an internet cafe and blogging or playing games instead of going out and organizing a demonstration. Well maybe you are right. I'm sick of people who don't appreciate my efforts. I'm wasting many hours a day and half my salary just to maintain this blog. I have a job, patients, a family, and friends, in other words I have a life. Maybe I will at one point do as you say and diss this whole stupid blog idea.
I took today off so that Jen and I could drive the 280 miles from Seattle to Spokane and back again.
The reason I did this was because I was the winner in a government bid for this fine piece of farm equipment - a John Deere leaf sweeper. As you may know, Jen and I recently purchased 31 acres of land and we are putting in a cider apple orchard next spring. This is a cool thing to have especially since the winning bid was $65 - COOL!
Anyway, as specified on the invoice, I called the on-site agent this morning, let them know that I was coming directly out from Seattle and would be there this afternoon. Fine - no problem.
We get there at 3:30 that afternoon to find that the agent has gone home for the day and that there is no one else that can help us. The WA State representitive for the company that handles the auctions ( Government Liquidations - excellent web site! ) was at another base 45 minutes from Seattle and about 330 miles from the one in Spokane.
The Soldiers at the visitors center were more than courtious but there was nothing they could do - understandibly so.
What gets me is that I took a day off work so this means a hundred bucks that we will not see in the next paycheck. We also drove a truck and towed an equipment trailer over the passes so that added up to about $100 on gas.
Tomorrows phone call is going to be an interesting one to say the least... Blogging will resume then.
The person in charge of the DRMO office there is arrainging for this unit to be trucked to the DRMO office in Fort Lewis. Much much closer...
Heading over to Eastern Washington to pick up some things.
Back this evening and will post some stuff then.
just Googled " Plame " on a lark...
Most of the returned stories seem to dead-end around mid-October.
Wasn't that a really BIG scandal at one time???
Or was there not a real story there to begin with. Spin works in several directions...
#1) - Bizzare look back into an issue of Homes and Gardens magazine from 1938.
#2) - A webloggers discovery, scanning and publishing of this; and
#3) - The effort by the Time Warner-owned publishing giant, IPC trying to shut it down.
Some cool lawyers rally, IPC gets stuffed, the page is back up.
November 5th is Guy Fawkes Day.
Recent research shows that the Gunpowder Plot might have caused a lot more damage than expected. Analysis is here.
Circle of devestation:
Bolinas Socially Acknowledged Nature Loving Town
Bolinas Community Public Utility District
Shall the following language constitute a policy of the Bolinas Community Public Utility District? Vote for Bolinas to be a socially acknowledged nature-loving town because to like to drink the water out of the lakes to like to eat the blueberries to like the bears is not hatred to hotels and motor boats. Dakar. Temporary and way to save life, skunks and foxes (airplanes to go over the ocean) and to make it beautiful.
And the same website is showing this as having passed.
67.4% Yes votes ...... 32.6% No votes
House Democrats called for an average of $417.6 billion in new spending, nearly 13 times more than House Republicans ($32.3 billion). Annualized over 10 years this level of increases ($4.2 trillion) is over twice the size of the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 combined ($1.7 trillion).
Literal Translation :
For exchange in Ha'il:
a Dodge car model 1991 to be exchanged with a female servant (New one) serilankan or indian.
phone no# : (etc..)
Two recent items are worth noting:
Ultra-low oxygen could have triggered mass extinctions, spurred bird breathing system
Recent evidence suggests that oxygen levels were suppressed worldwide 175 million to 275 million years ago and fell to precipitously low levels compared with today's atmosphere, low enough to make breathing the air at sea level feel like respiration at high altitude.
Now, a University of Washington paleontologist theorizes that low oxygen and repeated short but substantial temperature increases because of greenhouse warming sparked two major mass-extinction events, one of which eradicated 90 percent of all species on Earth.
In addition, Peter Ward, a UW professor of biology and Earth and space sciences, believes the conditions spurred the development of an unusual breathing system in some dinosaurs, a group called Saurischian dinosaurs that includes the gigantic brontosaurus. Rather than having a diaphragm to force air in and out of lungs, the Saurischians had lungs attached to a series of thin-walled air sacs that appear to have functioned something like bellows to move air through the body.
Ward, working with UW biologist Raymond Huey and UW radiologist Kevin Conley, believes that breathing system, still found in today's birds, made the Saurischian dinosaurs better equipped than mammals to survive the harsh conditions in which oxygen content of air at the Earth's surface was only about half of today's 21 percent.
"The literature always said that the reason birds had sacs was so they could breathe when they fly. But I don't know of any brontosaurus that could fly," Ward said. "However, when we considered that birds fly at altitudes where oxygen is significantly lower, we finally put it all together with the fact that the oxygen level at the surface was only 10 percent to 11 percent at the time the dinosaurs evolved.
"That's the same as trying to breathe at 14,000 feet. If you've ever been at 14,000 feet, you know it's not easy to breathe," he said.
Ward believes low oxygen and greenhouse conditions caused by high levels of methane from intense volcanic activity are likely culprits in mass extinctions that occurred about 250 million years ago, at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic periods, and about 200 million years ago, at the boundary between the Triassic and Jurassic periods. He will make a presentation on the topic Tuesday at the American Geological Society annual meeting in Seattle.
Evidence has mounted for nearly 20 years that a great earthquake ripped the seafloor off the Washington coast in 1700, long before there were any written records in the region. Now, a newly authenticated record of a fatal shipwreck in Japan has added an intriguing clue.
Written records collected from villages along a 500-mile stretch of the main Japanese island of Honshu show the coast was hit by a series of waves, collectively called a tsunami, on Jan. 28, 1700. Because no Japanese earthquake warned of the waves, it is likely they came from somewhere else around the Pacific Rim, said Brian Atwater, an affiliate professor of Earth and space sciences at the University of Washington and a U.S. Geological Survey geologist.
In the village of Kuwagasaki (now part of the town of Miyako) 300 miles northeast of Tokyo, the tsunami is believed to have crested at about 10 feet, destroying 13 houses and starting a fire that consumed additional houses. Records from five other towns lend more evidence for a tsunami generated by a magnitude 9 earthquake off the Washington coast on Jan. 26, 1700.
Interesting commentary in the Washington Times
From being a genuine grass-roots reform movement in the 1960s and '70s, mainstream environmental groups have steadily moved in radical directions, among other things allowing themselves to become the roosting spot for left-wingers after the collapse of the socialist model in the wake of the Cold War. Environmentalism seemed to offer the perfect vehicle for a resurgence of their command-and-control ideas.
But their doom-mongering has left them open to appeals to common sense.
from Sandy Schulz
Lost in the hoopla over the Supreme Court's decisions last term on affirmative action and gay rights is the development of a disturbing new legal trend, one hinted at by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a speech last week.
Increasingly, it seems, the Court is relying on international law and opinion as the basis for domestic legal decisions. For an institution that puts so much stock in precedence, this move is, well, unprecedented. Worse, it spells potential trouble down the road.
In several of its highest-profile cases, the Court looked for guidance from, among other bodies, the European Council for Human Rights and the United Nations. For the first time, these authorities are being granted as much or more weight as American laws, or even the Constitution, in the Court's decisions. This represents a serious abuse of the Supreme Court's judicial review responsibility, as well as its role as the ultimate arbiter in our legal system.
The article goes on:
There is a big difference between being open to new ideas and perspectives -- a necessary qualification for any jurist -- and a willingness to disregard established American law in order to impose those ideas on the public.
Not that I necessarily disagree with the outcomes of some of these decisions; there's no good justification for sodomy laws, after all, and a case arguably can be made for limited affirmative action. Moreover, it's perfectly legitimate for international opinion to inform the laws Congress and the state legislatures pass.
The question is how society arrives at those decisions. Shouldn't they come about through our established democratic process, with elected legislators answerable to the public making laws which are subject to a Constitutional scrubbing?
The problem comes when justices answerable to no one decide they don't like those laws -- not because they offend the Constitution, or because they conflict with other laws, but because they offend the justices' own personal sensibilities (or those of our European cousins). Then they decree solutions they think preferable.
That's problematic enough. What makes this latest trend worse is that, by citing international law as judicial precedent, the Court is hinting that our laws and Constitution may no longer be the supreme law of the land.
from The Register
"My parents just came back from a planet where the dominant life form had no bilateral symmetry, and all I got was this stupid F-Shirt."
Laugh, you nearly did? Then you're obviously a geek.
Earlier this year a random selection of shoppers on London's Oxford Street were asked to pick out the physicist from a line-up of possible candidates. Guess what: 98 per cent of those asked singled out a white male of around 60 years old, with glasses and facial hair. The obvious stereotype.
While this might have been the image of an typical physicist fifty years ago, the reality is very different. Since the 1960s, the number of young women entering physics has doubled and the average age is now 31.
During 2003 the Institute of Physics completed a large survey to find out what their members thought about physics and their work. That study revealed that members themselves believe that the typical member is a male in a tweed jacket and that if physicists threw a party there would be sweet white wine, classical music, a selection of cheese and, unquestionably, no dancing...
Heat and faulty power are the two greatest causes of death in electronics. The certified geek Olympic sport of overclocking usually shortens the life of CPUs and perhaps the mainboard itself simply because running a chip at a faster frequency makes it run hotter. You may have seen some of the extremes that overclockers put into cooling their high-revving Athlons and Pentiums. But no matter. Maybe the overclocking yielded an extra FPS or two in an FPS like Quake or UT2003. (That first FPS is Frames per second, the second is First Person Shooter.)
While many geeks with PCs have been consumed by squeezing more speed out of their system than the law allows, more mature mainframe geeks have long been focused on adding 9s. As in uptime. Speed has been secondary to finding ways to make hardware more reliable and less prone to failure. And that's what underclocking is all about. Usually, that is.
Quiet is cool
Terry Gray wants quiet, not speed. He got into underclocking in his quest to build a quiet PC. Specifically, a PC without fans on the CPU and powersupply. His site documents his experiments with underclocking a Pentium III in order to be able to run it at an acceptable temperature without need of a CPU fan. Other underclockers have done the same.
CPUs are not the only chips being underclocked to attack heat and noise problems: video cards are also game. Leo Velikovich details the hows and whys of such an effort on a GeForce4 Ti4200 in his article in SilentPCReview.
Derek Lowe has an interesting analysis of the "controversy" with this years Nobel award for Medicine. Read about it here.
...So many other people familiar with the field weren't surprised one bit when Damadian was left off, and they were able to read between the lines quickly. Damadian is, well, a difficult person to deal with. His unconcealed contempt for Lautenburg has caused trouble on more than one occasion. Actually, concealing any of his feelings isn't his strong point. As he told Chemical and Engineering News (in its latest issue), "I'm a very, very, very, very sore loser." (Revealingly, that's how they quoted him, and in a bold-faced pull quote, yet.)
That article is one of the things that prompts to to write. Damadian seems to be even more of a short-fuse artist than I'd heard. C&E News also quotes him as saying "There's a band of buccaneers in Stockholm that has been victimizing people for a century with their crimes." That would be the Nobel committee, in case you're wondering. Another thing you might be wondering about is just how Damadian thinks that he's going to get anywhere with them, spouting off like that.
But you know, in a way, he's right. It really doesn't matter what he says, or how he says it. The Nobel folks are just not going to change their mind. They never have, and have stated repeatedly that they're not going to start now. (And I see their point - wouldn't that just open the floodgates!) It's a lost cause; it's been lost from the beginning. But that hasn't stopped Damadian from taking out full-page ads in US and Swedish newspapers, ranting about how he's been wronged.
The latest one came out this week. They've been getting longer and weirder, and the latest one is the other thing that got me to write about this whole affair. Its verbose thrust is that Lauterbur and Mansfield aren't even M.D.s, for crying out loud, and won't all the doctors of the world get together, help one of their own, and make the Nobel committee see some sense?...
Novell announced yesterday that they purchased German Linux distribituors SUSE
Press Release here
Novell today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire SUSE LINUX, one of the world�s leading enterprise Linux companies, expanding Novell�s ability to provide enterprise-class services and support on the Linux platform. With the open source expertise of SUSE LINUX and Novell�s world-class networking and identity solutions and support, training and consulting services, Novell will be able to deliver Linux and all its components � from the server to the desktop � and give organizations a secure, reliable and mature Linux foundation. Novell will pay $210 million in cash to complete the acquisition. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and the winding up of shareholder agreements. Novell expects the transaction to close by the end of its first fiscal quarter (January 2004).
SUSE was one of the top three Linux companies.
RedHat announced yesterday that it was dropping its support for the free versions.
The remaining one is Mandrake Linux.
By DAFNA LINZER, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS - Israel, which has seen hundreds of U.N. resolutions passed against its policies over the years, circulated its first resolution ever Monday, saying the outcome will show whether the organization is taking a balanced approach to the Mideast.
The Israeli resolution, a copy of which was given to The Associated Press, calls for the protection of Israeli children victimized by Palestinian terrorism. It closely mirrors a similar draft submitted by Egypt last week highlighting the plight of Palestinian children affected by more than three years of bloody conflict in the region.
Israeli diplomats said they'd be happy if the General Assembly decided to drop the two drafts or adopt them both.
"The test will be if they pass the Palestinian one but not ours," said deputy Israeli Ambassador Arye Meckel.
More of this to be found at:
AP: Israel Circulates Resolution at U.N.
Slate magazine has an article by Daniel Drezner regarding the rebuilding of Iraq:
A new report by the Center for Public Integrity attempts to prove something that many people simply assume to be true: that the Bush administration has strongly favored cronies and campaign contributors in awarding reconstruction contracts for Iraq and Afghanistan. The CPI devoted six months to research and filed more than 70 Freedom of Information Act requests and appeals to get to the bottom of the story. The conclusion of the report, "Windfalls of War," is that a clear quid pro quo exists between government procurement and campaign contributions to George W. Bush. Charles Lewis, the group's executive director, released a statement arguing that the report reveals "a stench of political favoritism and cronyism surrounding the contracting process in both Iraq and Afghanistan."
There's just one problem: The CPI has no evidence to support its allegations.
The basic hypothesis of the report is that campaign contributions must have affected the allocation of reconstruction contracts; Halliburton's and Bechtel's large reconstruction contracts and generous support of politicians hint at such a finding. However, a closer look at the guts of the CPI report�the list of contract winners and the list of campaign contributions�exposes the flimsiness of this charge.
CPIs website is here
Forgot to add that Daniel Drezner has his own blog here
A pillar of the Kyoto Accord is based on flawed calculations, incorrect data and an overtly biased selection of climate records, an important new paper reveals.
from the National Post
Of these, none may have the long-term impact of the paper published yesterday in the prestigious British journal Energy and Environment, which explains how one of the fundamental scientific pillars of the Kyoto Accord is based on flawed calculations, incorrect data and a biased selection of climate records.
The paper's authors, Toronto-based analyst Steve McIntyre and University of Guelph economics professor Ross McKitrick, obtained the original data used by Michael Mann of the University of Virginia to support the notion that the 20th-century temperature rise was unprecedented in the past millennium. A detailed audit revealed numerous errors in the data. After correcting these and updating the source records they showed that based on Mann's own methodologies, his original conclusion was flawed. Mann's original version resulted in the famous "hockey stick" graph that purported to show 900 years of relative temperature stability (the shaft of the hockey stick) followed by a sharp increase (the blade) in the 20th century (see graph). The corrected version of the last thousand years actually contradicts the view promoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and removes the foundation for claims of 20th-century uniqueness.
The paper in question can be found here (Ross McKitrick's website)
USA Today also has a good writeup
Here is the chart in question:
Have you considered leaving the United States permanently?
No. This is the best country in the world.
This is from an interview in the N.Y. Times (registration required)
from Philosophy Now magazine:
Indeed, it is hard to give an overview of the major postmodernist tenets without seeming to fall into parody. All knowledge, scientific knowledge included, is held to be socially constructed through and through. Science is therefore merely one story among others. The world we know is one that is constructed by human discourses, giving us not so much truths as �truth-effects� which may or may not be pragmatically useful. From this point of view, epistemologically speaking, a scientific text is understood as being on a par with a literary text. Further, given that for Derrida language is a self-referential system, all communication is reduced to the model of an avant-garde poem in which all meaning is indefinitely deferred.
Could renting a movie be much simpler than it already is? The Walt Disney Company is betting it could be with a new service called MovieBeam that includes a no-fuss set-top box that arrives in your home loaded with 100 DVD-quality feature films that can be rented with a press of a remote control.
The rental cost of the films, produced by several studios and in most popular genres, is $4 for new releases and $2.50 for older titles. MovieBeam has been introduced in Salt Lake City, Spokane, Wash., and Jacksonville, Fla., and is expected to spread across the country in coming months. More information will be available at electronics retailers and at www.moviebeam.com.
Made by Samsung Electronics, the receiver is basically just a 160-gigabyte hard drive with a small antenna that automatically downloads 10 new movies a week using a wireless signal, replacing 10 other titles. That signal is tucked into broadcast signals from TV stations owned by ABC and from PBS National Datacast. The receivers are not for sale; a $7 monthly fee is charged once users sign up for the service and the receiver is delivered.
Buy a large business and wait.
A List Apart has a good article on starting a small business - things to think about and some resources.
The entire website is worth spending some time with if you are involved in web design and consulting. Lots of resources.
from the Washington Post
BAGHDAD, Nov. 2 -- The CIA has seized an extensive cache of files from the former Iraqi Intelligence Service that is spurring U.S. investigations of weapons procurement networks and agents of influence who took money from the government of Saddam Hussein, according to U.S. officials familiar with the records.
The Iraqi files are "almost as much as the Stasi files," said a senior U.S. official, referring to the vast archives of the former East German intelligence service seized after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The records would stretch 91/2 miles if laid end to end, the officials said. They contain not only the names of nearly every Iraqi intelligence officer, but also the names of their paid foreign agents, written agent reports, evaluations of agent credentials, and documentary evidence of payments made to buy influence in the Arab world and elsewhere, the officials said.
The officials declined to name individuals who they believe received funds or to name the home countries of the alleged recipients. One official said the recipients held high-ranking positions and worked both in Arab countries and in other regions. A second official said the payments were the subjects of "active investigations" by U.S. government agencies.
This is a lot of paper and will take time to process but it will be interesting to see the shifts in power that happen in the next six months or so.
One official said the recipients held high-ranking positions and worked both in Arab countries and in other regions. A second official said the payments were the subjects of "active investigations" by U.S. government agencies.
Mmmmm - indeed... (chortle)
from The Straits Times
SEOUL -- Communist North Korea's economy is heading for collapse and could drag capitalist South Korea down with it, Standard and Poor's credit rating agency said on Monday.
'North Korea's economy cannot be sustained in its current state and we think it is highly likely to collapse,' said Choi Jung Tai, the agency's director for South Korea, adding: 'When is uncertain.'
From the always excellent Mark Steyn:
Indeed, so eager is Kerry to subordinate U.S. foreign policy to Saddam's patrons that his attacks on America's real allies have become increasingly obnoxious. In the last presidential debate, Kerry said:
''This president has done it wrong every step of the way. He promised that he would have a real coalition. He has a fraudulent coalition.''
What's ''fraudulent'' about the coalition that toppled Saddam? The principal players -- the Americans, British and Australians -- are three of only a handful of countries to have been on the right side of every major conflict of the last century: the First World War, the Second, the Cold War and now the war on terror. I bet on form. When it comes to standing up against totalitarianism, the heavy lifting has been done by America and the British Commonwealth. Kerry's the first to get all hoity-toity if he feels someone is insufficiently deferential to his war service. So who's he to mock the brave Royal Marines, Desert Rats and other British forces who took and held southern Iraq? Who's he to mock the Australian SAS who did such a great job in seizing so many Baathist bad guys in northern and western Iraq? Or the Polish troops leading the multinational contingent in central Iraq right now?
It's taken as a given among Democrats that somehow this administration has needlessly offended the French and Germans. But insulting Britain, Australia and Poland as a cheap way to get at Bush demonstrates your superior sense of the subtleties of foreign policy? I'd say it's going to be very difficult for President Kerry to work with these chaps after his election victory -- or I would say it if I could type that sentence without collapsing in giggles.
The really ''fraudulent'' coalition is the one Kerry wants: one that gives the Belgians and Syrians a veto over U.S. action for nothing in return. The ''fraudulent'' coalition is Clark's from the Kosovo war, where all ''allies'' were entitled to advance operational information regardless of whether they were actually contributing to any of the operations, and where, as Clark himself noted in his memoir, ''one of the French officers working at NATO headquarters had given key portions of the operations plans to the Serbs.''
Read the entire piece...
This is from a Washington Post article regarding the US's interviews with Tariq Aziz after his April 24th surrender this year.
Aziz's extensive interrogations -- eased by a U.S. decision to quietly remove his family from Iraq to safe exile in a country that American officials would not name -- paint Hussein on the eve of war as a distracted, distrustful despot who was confused, among other things, by his meetings with Russian and French intermediaries. Aziz said Hussein emerged from these diplomatic sessions -- some secret at the time -- convinced that he might yet avoid a war that would end his regime, despite ample evidence to the contrary.
Aziz has told interrogators that French and Russian intermediaries repeatedly assured Hussein during late 2002 and early this year that they would block a U.S.-led war through delays and vetoes at the U.N. Security Council. Later, according to Aziz, Hussein concluded after private talks with French and Russian contacts that the United States would probably wage a long air war first, as it had done in previous conflicts. By hunkering down and putting up a stiff defense, he might buy enough time to win a cease-fire brokered by Paris and Moscow.
Former Russian prime minister Yevgeny Primakov, long close to Hussein, made an announced visit to Baghdad in February and a secret trip just days before the war's opening on March 20
The French diplo backchannel communication has been less public - to continue with the article:
The extent and character of French contacts with Hussein before the war is even less clear. Several media outlets reported early this year that France had opened a private channel to Hussein, but the French Foreign Ministry denied these reports, insisting that its diplomats had made plain to Hussein that he should stand down.
Read the article - it's worth checking out.
BTW, all of this was in direct violation of U.N. resolution 1441...
FOX News has more:
Aziz, the highest-ranking Iraqi Christian in Saddam's regime, was initially close-lipped, several Pentagon and U.S. officials said. But once his family was moved out of the country to safety, he is said to have begun talking at length.
"That made a night and day difference," one source said.
Compounding Aziz's information, U.S. intelligence agencies have been going over millions of documents � 9� miles' worth if laid end to end � left behind by Saddam's government after its sudden collapse around April 10.
The stories were both first reported Monday in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.
Among the details provided by Aziz and the captured files:
� Saddam did not attack invading American and British forces because he had been assured that France and Russia would use the U.N. Security Council to stop the war.
� Ties were even stronger to two other nations: North Korea, which was in the process of selling Iraq a long-range No Dong missile, and Serbia, which provided Iraq with a sort of "lessons learned" template from its experience in dealing with the NATO-led air campaign over Kosovo.
Is the personal-computer boom back?
Most indicators for the quarter that ended Sept. 30 suggest PC sales are on the upswing. Two research companies, IDC and Gartner, reported double-digit worldwide sales growth year-over-year � 15.7 percent from IDC and 14.1 from Gartner. In the United States, the figures were 16.1 and 19.1 percent.
And the National economy has been growing nicely at over 7%, stocks are up. The economy is bad now isn't it - that is what some people are trying to sell us on...
PHOENIX - A Seattle man has been proclaimed the best screw driver in North America.
Mike Rennie won the Dewalt challenge, sponsored by Chevy Trucks, held over the weekend at Phoenix. The 34-year-old drywall contractor competed in a tournament against 13 other "drivers" from the United States and Canada.
The contest was to see who could drive five screws into a piece of wood the fastest with a Dewalt cordless drill. Contestants had to start a timer, pick up the drill, drive the screws and stop the timer.
Rennie sank five screws in 7.6 seconds. He won $25,000 and a new Silverado pick-up truck.
Red Hat is dropping support for it's Red Hat Linux versions 7.1 through 8.0 as of December 31st, 2003. RH Linux 9.0 will be supported through April 30th, 2004.
They will be focusing on their fee-based Enterprise level Linux products.
The present line of Red Hat Linux products has been folded into the Fedora Project - an open source distribution hosted by Red Hat.