Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Emergency Disarmament

I haven't heard this report from anywhere else in the blogosphere apart from David Codrea's The War on Guns- residents of New Orleans taking shelter in the Superdome from Hurricane Katrina were stopped before going in and searched. Their firearms- amongst many more items- were confiscated.

When asked why a fingernail file was confiscated, one of the privates replied "Fingernail files have a point on them. We just think it will be safer."

I immediately thought of the survival fiction piece Lights Out, which details efforts to disarm civilians following a national crisis. Kind of scary to see that fiction is not so far removed from fact.

Slightly more surreal is that the incident has been highlighted by none other than Pravda, in an ever so slightly hysterical piece-

"a few might take their right to keep and bear arms seriously, when everyone knows that only government employees deserve self-protection, not their citizen 'bosses.' The constitution doesn't apply when the government thinks it can make you safer by judging you, disarming you, and denuding you of your rights."

True Patriot

BlackFive has done it again, this time with a post on Airman Kelemwork Tarriku-Shotts, formerly of Ethiopia. Rescued from poverty and brought to America for life-saving medical treatment, Tarriku-Shotts was then adopted and raised in the USA- and she chose to join the Air Force-

“I joined the Air Force because I wanted to grow up,” she said. “Patriotically, I wanted to (dedicate) some years to all those who fought for the freedom I am enjoying now. I am very proud (to be a servicemember).”

Airman Tarriku-Shotts understands what it's all about. Go read it all.

Blair's Forgotten Medal

Tony Blair gets a lot of support in the States for his support of America during the War on Terrorism- despite his being an appalling lefty weasel when it comes to domestic politics. Well, that support should come to an end. Tony was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal- "the highest expression of the appreciation of the American people"- more than two years ago and he has still not bothered to collect it.

Mr Blair believes that being seen to receive his medal would be politically disastrous, especially among members of his own party. As one Labour MP put it: “As far as many of us are concerned, if Tony takes that medal it would be like taking an award from Satan.”

Blair would be better served honouring this great gift that has been bestowed upon him by the United States rather than pandering to the worst elements of his own Party- equating America with Satan? Who are these people- cohorts of Bin Laden?

Here is the case put forward for Blair to get his act together and accept the medal with great eloquence by Daniel Finklestein-

He must go because the American people need to know how much we value their friendship. He must go because the tide of anti-American feeling in this country needs to be confronted. He must go because he should be proud, not ashamed, that he said yes when our allies came to call and asked whether, after all the support they have given us, we might reciprocate. He must go because the commitment to spread democracy around the world is a brave and noble one. He must go as a bold statement to the enemies of liberty everywhere that those who defend freedom are bound together and are resolute.

The Lesson From New Orleans

The situation in New Orleans has gone from bad to worse with widespread looting. Fortunately, this is happening in the United States of America and so civilians have the opportunity to protect themselves, their property and even their neighbourhoods with their own privately held firearms.

While the lawless try to seize whatever they can, good citizens stand by to protect their loved ones and their homes- enabled by the guns that they own. A right denied to the vast majority here in the UK. This is a shining example of just why the Second Amendment must be protected- because the police and even National Guard can only do so much- even at the best of times. In a situation like this, it is up to individual citizens to step up to the breech and take charge. Without their arms to level the playing field, these people would be at the mercy of the worst that society has produced.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Waltzing Hogtilda

It looks like Australia is facing a feral hog problem, with the Queensland critters getting bigger and braver in their search for food. This particular specimen, no doubt a distant relative of Hogzilla, tipped the scales at 270kg- the average hog in this part of the world is supposed to be between 60-150kg. His massive size is attributed to a diet of sugar cane and bananas. It took a team of three hunters and three dogs over three hours to track and kill "Hogtilda".

Free Muslims Speak Up

I got an email today from the Free Muslims Against Terrorism condemning the latest terrorist attack in Israel.

The Free Muslims Coalition rejects arguments such as the one made by Islamic Jihad to justify killing Israeli civilians and calls on American Muslim leaders to publicly condemn terrorism against Israelis and Jews.

The Free Muslims Coalition recognizes that American Muslim organizations have become more aggressive in condemning terrorism over the last few months. However, the Free Muslims believe that it is essential for American Muslim organizations to specifically condemn terrorism against Israel by HAMAS, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations.

They go on to add- This is not to say that American Muslims cannot condemn Israeli policies or Israel's treatment of Palestinians. However, Israel's policies should never be used to justify terrorism against Israelis and Jews.

Emphasis mine. Good for them to speak out on this.

Iraq Moves On

Chrenkoff's essential Good News in Iraq is up again. This week there's also this post which makes for even better reading- a recent poll in Iraq shows that 88% of people will take part in a vote on the constitution. 84% support giving women the same rights as men, 60% said that a minimum of 25% mandatory representation of women in the assembly was sufficientwhile 21% said that the minimum number should be raised to 33%. So over a fifth want more women to be in the assembly! As if that wasn't promising enough, the GNFI reports that more and more Sunnis are getting involved in the democratic process- sure a lot of them will vote "no" on the constitution- but that's not the point. The point is that they are now seeing that the fight has to take place at the ballot box- not with a car bomb.

Despite all the doom and gloom coming from the MSM and the left-wing, things in Iraq are getting better by the day. Life goes on. One thing I would like to point out is that the Left constantly harps on about "imposing" democracy- can't they see that we're not imposing anything, we're giving it a chance to flourish? There's a big difference. I wonder what excuse they'll come up with now to not see the progress being made now that the Sunnis have seen the inevitability of them joining in the political process?

As always, Chrenkoff has done a sterling job- there's an awful lot of good news there but it is worth reading it all.

My Life

I live like a king. I'm not rich (far from it) and I don't recall ever having to pick a wife from 20,000 dancing topless teenage virgins, like the King of Swaziland does. However, I do have a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters. To illustrate just how well my wife looks after me consider this- today she cooked my lunch while I sat here at the computer, brought it in to me and then went to fix herself something. A few moments later she returned and apologised for not bringing me a drink with my food. How amazing is she?

Damn, but I love her.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Coffee Full of Anti-Oxidants

Thank heavens for good news! It seems that coffee can deliver more health benefits than fruit or veg thanks to its levels of anti-oxidants. In addition,

"Studies have associated coffee drinking with a reduced risk of liver and colon cancer, type two diabetes and Parkinson's disease."

Time for a "hot wet".

Soccer Un-Islamic

LGF reports that a Saudi cleric has declared football un-Islamic. I wonder what response this will receive from Scotland's Rangers football team? They did produce replica team shirts available without the beer company sponsor logo for their Muslim supporters. In the light of this fatwa are they now going to do the Islamic thing and put the logo back? After all they should do their bit to encourage the Muslim fans to "indulge in jihad and other constructive activities that could help the Muslim ummah" rather than waste their time with soccer.

Unborn Children Feel No Pain?

Blogs for Bush raises a question mark over the veracity of the recent study published in the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) which alleged that unborn children do not feel any pain until the final stages of pregnancy. The reason? Because the researchers involved in the study include a medical student who once worked for NARAL and the director of an abortion clinic. The medical student, by the way, was the lead author of the research. Perhaps I'm unaware of how the medical world works but I would have thought that a fully qualified doctor would have been leading the study with students perhaps helping out- not the other way round?

Now, the research may or may not prove to be true but the JAMA did not disclose this information when the study was published in their pages. The problem of course is that while this study may yet be discredited, the media will not give that story the light that it deserves. It may get a mention buried deep in the papers but many more people will here this story than will ever hear of any future retraction. In essence, the damage is done and the pro-abortion propaganda (if this is what it is) is out there. Regardless of how the rest of the story plays out, whether or not these researchers are exposed for peddling false results, the pro-abortion effort has won a victory. The no-pain meme has escaped.

I've just been doing a little reading up on this and it seems that this research comes at a time when,

"advocates are pushing for foetal pain laws aimed at curtailing abortion. Proposed federal legislation would require doctors to provide foetal pain information to women seeking abortions when foetuses are at least 20-weeks-old, and to offer women foetal anesthesia at that stage of the pregnancy. A handful of American states have enacted similar measures."

A foetal pain researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences,
Dr Kanwaljeet Anand,who is of the opinion that foetuses as young as 20 weeks old feel pain, had this to say on the matter-

"This is going to inflame a lot of scientists who are very, very concerned and are far more knowledgeable in this area than the authors appear to be. This is not the last word - definitely not."

In fact, the general consensus is that unborn children can feel pain from 24 weeks on- because it is at this stage that a connection is made between the cortext and the hypothalamus. This new study on the other hand asserts that pain can only be felt from 29 weeks. The idea is that the pain can only truly be experienced in the higher brain or cortex, not in the hypothalamus. There is, of course, dissent from this view. Some doctors believe that as early as 17 weeks the nervous system is developed enough that an unborn child might feel pain. Professor Vivette Glover from Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in London argues that,

""I think that the evidence is that the system is starting to form by 20 weeks, maybe by 17 weeks. Given there is a possibility (that a foetus can feel pain) we should give the foetus the benefit of the doubt."

Dr. Anand, by the way, has given testimony that foetuses can feel severe pain by 20 weeks-

"increased heart rate, blood flow and hormone levels in response to pain...The physiological responses have been very clearly studied. The fetus cannot talk ... so this is the best evidence we can get"...Anand said that studies have shown that fetuses have the "anatomical structure" to feel pain and respond to "tactile and touch stimuli from very, very early in gestation"...Anand said that fetuses at 20 weeks gestation have a "rudimentary consciousness" and studies have shown "intermittent" brain wave activity at that time."

This article also cites the work of Anand, but the author (an assistant professor who was asked to provide testimony on behalf of Planned Parenthood to the Virginia State Senate) moves to dismiss his findings. First, his summary of foetal development-

"Behavioural responses to touch reflect the changing maturity of the fetal nervous system. At 7.5 weeks' gestation, reflex responses to touch begin. At this point touching the peri-oral region results in a bending of the head. The palms of the hands become sensitive to stroking at 10.5 weeks, and the rest of the body and legs become sensitive at approximately 13.5 weeks. Shortly after the development of sensitivity, repeated skin stimulation results in hyperexcitability and a generalised movement of all limbs. These generalised movements give way to more refined and coordinated movements after about 26 weeks' gestation."

From this it's plainly obvious that an unborn child can react to touch from about seven and a half weeks- the body and legs are sensitive to touch from thirteen and a half weeks. What we're being told in essence is that a foetus can feel touch from this age- and yet we're still being asked to believe that pain is something that can only be experienced on a much higher level of consciousness than mere touch. I would have thought that being able to feel something- having your hand stroked for instance- and reacting to it suggested a form of development sufficiently advanced to also experience pain. Is it necessary to attain a high level of consciousness to experience pain? I don't think so- pain seems to me to be one of the most basic signals of life and being able to "experience it fully" doesn't seem to me to require a high level of consciousness. We're not talking about some lofty notion like love here. Are these people also arguing that animals cannot experience pain because they can't "appreciate it fully"?

Amongst his criticisms of Anand is this-

The most that can be said of biological development in the 20-week fetus is that the fetus has an incomplete 'pain alarm'. Although this alarm allows for some defensive reactions it is highly unlikely to allow for an experience of pain; incomplete alarms tend not to ring.

And this-

Anand ignores the importance of psychological development for the ultimate conscious experience of pain. When a primary care-giver points to a spot and asks 'does that hurt?', he or she is beginning the process of enabling an internal discrimination and with it experience. It is difficult to imagine the undifferentiated existence prior to any symbolic labelling, but it could be like looking at a vast TV screen with the entire world's information upon it from a distance of one-inch. With no means of making the necessary discriminations all that will be observed is a great buzzing mass of meaningless sound and colour. Before a symbolic system such as language, an individual will not know that something in front of them is large or small, hot or cold, red or green and so on.

In other words, ignore the development in the 20-week old unborn child (because there is further development still to occur) and then accept that a child cannot feel pain because of its "undifferentiated existence prior to labelling". I guess then that when a newly born child cries, it's not because it's cold and hungry- how could it be without "symbolic labelling"? Remember, he's arguing that you can't feel hot or cold without language.

I have a word for this, but instead I'll say, "Balderdash." To argue that you can't have an experience of something without the ability to label it is patently absurd. That an adult might attempt to use such an argument is mind-boggling. The argument is cited however to dismiss the physical signs of pain experiecned by unborn children- it can't be real pain, they argue, because foetuses are not real people. Only a real, fully developed person can experience pain. The notion that must be held is that pain is not a basic message delivered by the nervous system, like touch, but something altogether more nebulous which requires a higher level of consciousness to be "experienced" rather than just "felt".

This is why we can be so positive that the fetus does not feel pain. Not only has the biological development not yet occurred but also the post-birth environment, so necessary to the development of experience, has not yet made itself felt.

Got that? He claims that any unborn cild, regardless of age, cannot feel pain because it has not yet been exposed to life after birth. He does not state at which stage of development pain can be said to be felt- is it at the moment of birth? Plainly no, because he argues that there is no language. So when is it? Three months, six months, a year? Can a child only be said to truly understand pain when it can signal where it is sore? In essence what we're being asked to believe is that something is not real to an individual unless it has at least a basic understanding of language.

If you're in any doubt as to the author's position and rationale behind his absurd arguments consider this-

There is no question that both D&X and D&E are physically brutal procedures. Even as someone fully committed to abortion access 'as late as necessary', the thought of dangling an alive and healthy late-term fetus out of the womb before collapsing its skull, or tearing it apart with forceps and fingers, causes pause. But unwanted pregnancy, including unwanted late pregnancy, is a fact of life. To deny women access to the abortions they need only swaps the brutality of abortion for the brutality of denying women's autonomy and forcing them to become mothers.

Got that too? "Forcing" a woman to become a mother is as brutal as crushing the skull of a late-term child after it has partially been born. This is slightly off the point- the age at which an unborn child can feel pain- but it bears looking at. He's saying that what's essentially the murder of a child is less important than the fact that a woman might find herself a mother. I can see that procedures like this might be necessary of some medical emergency but that's not the argument being put forward here- the argument is that an unborn child is incapable of feeling pain in any way and their lives are therefore forfeit. The same argument, I believe, lies behind this current research- which dismisses the generally held medical opinion that an unborn child can feel pain from between 24-26 weeks.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

KS-23 Shotgun

This is a Russian military/tactical pump action shotgun- known as the KS-23 or KS-23M. Though it's shown with a removable buttstock it seems to be primarily used without it fitted. The odd thing about that is that this is a 4 gauge, not a 12. I've done a quick Google on the weapon and I can find virtually no information on it- so if you know more or have any more images of it, please do let me know. I'm intrigued. The solid slug it fires is said (by a Jane's Gun Recognition Guide) to be powerful enough to shatter an engine block. Anyone have more info?

UPDATE- Just found this info at the previously unheard of Nation Master-

A 23mm Russian shotgun firing the 'Barricade' slug, also used to launch various nonlethal grenade-related weapons. It comes in three models, the fixed-stock KS-23, the folding-stock KS-23M, and the bullpup box magazine-fed KS-23K. The Vektor CR-21 has a typical bullpup configuration. ...

Also available is the TOZ-123, a civilianized version of the KS-23 in four-gauge.

UPDATE 2 - "The weapon is so powerful that a direct shot of a rubber baton from such a beast to a human being closer to 40 metres would kill him. The barrels of these toys are made out of the barrels of discarded/whitdrawn from service 23mm aircraft cannons. The main use of the KS-23 is anti-runaway-vehicles and anti-barricades, and this is done by using 23mm shells that are HIGH-EXPLOSIVE. The ammo normally used in the KS-23 to defeat vehicle engines or to breach through barricades and/or armored doors is something that I can only ressemble to the grenades fired by the M41-A pulse rifle of the Colonial Marines in the movie "Aliens". The Russians themselves cannot decide whether call the KS-23 a "large combat shotgun" or a "hand-held small-caliber grenade launcher": the 23mm shell of the KS-23 is more similar to a grenade, in dimensions, engineering and effects, than to a standard shotgun shell. The cartridges are so big that the KS-23, even if it's large a bit in its standard versions, holds no more than 4 rounds; only difference is the KS23-K, the bull-pup of the series, which is pump-action (all others are semi-auto) and holds 6 shells."

UPDATE 3 - An entry also at Modern Firearms.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Walter Reed to be closed

As Walter Reed Hospital comes into the limelight because of the tasteless anti-war protests there, the news that the facility is to be closed had been somewhat ignored. Coming as part of a larger cross-services restructuring, the services offered by the facility will be moved to the National Naval Medical Centre at Bethesda. The expanded centre will be known as Walter Reed. The rationale behind the closing is-

The commission said care at Walter Reed, which has treated presidents and foreign leaders as well as veterans and soldiers, is considered first-rate but the facility is showing its age.
"Kids coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, all of them in harm's way, deserve to come back to 21st century medical care," said commission Chairman Anthony Principi. "It needs to be modernized."

N.I. News

A couple of local stories today.

First off, here's what happens when you appease terrorists- members of the IRA may end up serving in the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The IRA, if you didn't know, is the same terrorist group which carried out a system of deliberate assassinations of police officers during their campaign. Exactly what this country needs- thugs in uniform. At the moment the IRA and other terrorist groups continue to "police" their own communities, which usually involved knee-cappings. The IRA are essentially an organised crime gang now- their control is usually aimed at controlling their own criminal interests, particularly the drug trade.

Second, is more heartening news - 36 people have been arrested and 17 foreign nationals have been detained across the province on immigration offences and are facing deportation. The remainder are being investigated. Whether this is part of a UK-wide campaign aimed at curtailing illegal immigrants I'm not sure but at least it's a sign that something is being done. The targeting of Nigerians may have something to do with the fact that a number of Nigerians have been involved in criminal activity here- I worked briefly for one of the banks here and we were warned about fraud being carried out by a Nigerian gang.

Of the number apprehended twenty four of them were illegal entrants.

It had to happen

Just yesterday I left a comment at Red Hot Cuppa Politics musing on the "Vietnamisation" of the anti-war movement in Amercia, now that they have begun a shameless protest outside of the Walter Reed medical facility. I wondered how long it would be before some moonbat celebrity turned up for a photo op in Iraq with the "insurgents" (right before they got their head chopped off that is).

How surprised was I then to learn that Hanoi Jane is going to give a speech to introduce traitor Galloway, Saddam's apologist, to an audience in Wisconsin. A collaboration between the old and new.

My concern is that the anti-war movement is going to degenerate into something altogether nastier. It's bad enough that they're protesting in front of wounded troops in a hospital, but even now they claim to be "doing it for the troops". Sure.

I wonder how much longer it will be before the modicum of civility vanishes altogether?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Wonder Woman

Time to brighten the blog up a bit and so here's (another) Adam Hughes' picture- this time of a rather contented looking Wonder Woman. Enjoy.

Friday Afternoon Round Up

I did have a nicely written post just about completed when uber-browser Firefox crashed and I lost it all. So much for Blogger's "recover post" option too. Insert strong language here. Repeat.

Instead, here's a quick run down of the items I was most interested today.

Fjordman reports that India refuses Arab backing in its run for a seat on the UN Security Council in return for cutting off ties with Israel. Good for India, say I.

LGF tells us that Palestinian health officials fear for a health crisis in Gaza, following the Israeli withdrawal. They demand Israel continues to dish out medical treatment. Somehow, I can't see that happening anytime soon. Perhaps they'd have been better off spending all that cash on medicine and medical supplies instead of weapons?

Speaking of which, two Qassam rockets have been launched into Israeli territory already and the PA has met with terrorist organisations (should that be other terrorist organisations?) to agree to continue "resistance" to Israel until they withdraw from all "occupied territories", i.e. all of Israel.

Perhaps the fact that it's now up to them to run Gaza and provide for all the people living there, the steam might run out of the terrorist movement a little when the citizens start wondering why they can afford rockets but not basic medical care? Then again, given that the PA refuses
to disarm Hamas or Islamic Jihad that seems doubtful. Particularly when the culture we're talking about holds views like this (when talking about a female suicide bomber)-

"Losing a son affects the soul many times more than losing a daughter in our society. Losing even 10 daughters is not as bad as losing one son. That's how it is in our society. A son is more dear to the parents than a daughter...When Wafa Idris did this (October 2003 bombing of the Arab-owned restaurant Maxim in Haifa, Israel, which killed 19), she played a role, I think, in the shaping of a new culture among Palestinian girls. She has become a source of pride. Many girls, for various reasons, wanted to play the same role..."

Turning now to Iraq, where Murdoc points out an environmental success- the return of the marshes drained by Saddam Hussein, up from 10% to 37% coverage in the space of three years.

We also have the good news of the Constitution, although Robert Spencer's Dhimmi Watch is less than enthused. Blogs for Bush has more positive analysis, pointing out that while the document does include - No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam- the operative term here seems to be "undisputed". How long can anything remain undisputed in the presence of lawyers? BFB also points out this-

Article (14): Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination because of gender, ethnicity, nationality, origin, color, religion, sect, belief, opinion or social or economic status.

How can that not be cause to celebrate? There's hard work being done now but the steps forward are happening, despite the blackest and most pessimistic views of those on the Left. Perhaps if they would acknowledge the successes when they happen we'd be more inclined to listen to those not on the moonbat-fringe. Or is that the other way round- are the rational liberals the fringe now?

Back to the US now for a brief note on the person camped out near a certain ranch in Crawford, thanks to Jawa Report- speaking of the men who killed her son in Iraq: "Freedom Fighters from other countries are going in."

Got that? The men who killed her son are "freedom fighters". Meanwhile her backers, Code Pink, are organising the protests going outside the Walter Reed medical facility in Washington where wounded troops are being treated. Of course, they claim to be doing it for the troops. By the way, be sure to check out the article over at Red Hot Cuppa Politics on the crosses representing the fallen on display in Crawford. As Frau Budgie points out we know of She-who-must-not-be-named and at least one other anti-war mother while at least seventeen pro-war families have removed crosses bearing the names of their sons and put them in Fort Qualls. So, as she asks, how many of those crosses are there legitimately in the anti-camp with the knowledge of the families of those who fell?

And finally, traitor Galloway is set to speak at an anti-war rally. That's George Galloway MP, buddy of Saddam Hussein- which set me to wondering, is the reason they're anti-war because they want dictator Saddam back in power? They keep saying no, but when they invite Galloway to speak, you have to question their motives.

Kurilla Update

Kim du Toit seems to be as disgusted with the performance of the 5.56mm "poodle-shooter" in Iraq as I am- so he has decided to purchase a Kimber Desert Warrior .45ACP for LTC Kurilla. Why not head on over to Kim's site and kick in a few bucks to help buy this brave soldier a gift.

While you're at it, why not donate a few dollars to Soldiers' Angels- go and read the post by Some Soldier's Mom and you'll realise that the Angels do a wonderful job in helping not only the wounded servicemen and women, but also their families back home-

I speak with Patti Bader (a true Saint on Earth!) from Soldiers Angels who gave me more information and comfort in the span of a 10 minute telephone conversation than I have ever experienced. She has mobilized (along with Blackfive) the Soldiers Angels worldwide network and tells me things that will happen, things to do, what the Army will do and what we (they) will do to help... that a Soldiers Angel will be in Germany to meet our son, comfort him, bring him necessities and a message of love from his mom... and another Angel will be waiting if he comes to Walter Reed Army Medical... they'll do whatever they have to in order to bring comfort and aid to our soldier -- to ALL our soldiers -- their motto is "May No Soldier Go Unloved." I tell you honestly that I could not have made it through last night without the assurance and calm of the Angels. (Go to their site right now and GIVE! GIVE! GIVE! Money, time, services, miles, volunteer...)

Not much else I can add to that except- head on over there and donate what you can!

The British Tax System

The last thing I could ever claim expertise in is economics, but even I know that a ridiculously high rate of taxation that renders small increases in income negligable will serve to destroy any motivation to work harder. What's the point when the extra money you do earn is taken off you?

Via Tim Worstall comes this article by Stumbling and Mumbling on the British taxation system. I have personal experience of this- some years ago I got a low-paying job doing data entry. Fuelled by strong coffee and boredom, I worked hard and soon got promotion to the role of Supervisor of the office. Despite the pay rise I ended up only a few pounds a week better off and with twice the workload. I can see how many people would wonder at the point of putting in extra effort for virtually no reward.

Take a married couple with two children under 11 and pre-tax earnings of £200 a week. If they get a better job, raising their earnings to £300 a week, by how much does their net income rise?

You'll be surprised. It's only £8.52. Yep, out of that extra hundred quid a week, they get to keep less than a tenner. That sounds really bad but think of how it works out over a year. They're earning an extra £5200 but they get to keep a grand total of £443.04. Less than five hundred pounds out of over five thousand.

The situation isn't much better for those earner a bit more.

Higher earners face only slightly lower deduction rates. If a couple’s income rises from £500 to £600, they get to keep all of £23.45.

The British government sure does know how to create a highly motivated, hard working population. Needless to say there are rumblings for a flat tax rate here. It certainly looks like it couldn't be any worse than the situation we have now.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

LTC Erik Kurilla

Michael Yon's latest post - Gates of Fire - is up. In it he details the mission on which Deuce Four's LTC Kurilla was shot. Fortunately, Kurilla is doing okay- he was hit in the arm and both legs. As per usual Yon's writing is superlative and he is hip deep in the action in which Kurilla was injured.

Though I have never met the man I have the utmost respect for LTC Kurilla from reading of his exploits (I think that's the most apt term to apply to the man) in Mosul. He seems to be the very personification of an excellent officer. During the contact he was shot on he continued to fight back and then, when help arrived, continued to give orders to ensure that the area was secure.

I know I don't need to say it but I will anyway- go and read Yon's dispatch.

Seemingly everytime Yon reports in it seems that there is an example of the ineffectiveness of the current issue cartridge, the puny 5.56mm. This time is no exception-

"Prosser shot the man at least four times with his M4 rifle. But the American M4 rifles are weak--after Prosser landed three nearly point blank shots in the man's abdomen, splattering a testicle with a fourth, the man just staggered back, regrouped and tried to shoot Prosser."

Prosser had to ditch his rifle and engage the terrorist hand-to-hand. Evidence, if any more were needed, that American troops deserve to have a replacement issued ASAP. Or at the very least more effective ammo- LeMas' blended metal ammo would not be amiss. The 5.56mm is simply endangering the lives of troops.

Yon also tells us that the terrorist involved in the attack was arrested in December- with enough evidence to send him to prison for a long time. For some reason, the Iraqi court released him.


Kurilla is doing okay by all accounts- Kim du Toit is keeping track of his progress and also getting together some sort of care package for him- so head on over and make a donation.

I'll end now with Yon's words on Kurilla-

Kurilla had gone on missions every single day for almost a year. Talking with people downtown. Interfacing with shop owners. Conferencing with doctors. Drinking tea with Iraqi citizens in their homes. Meeting proud mothers with new babies. It's important to interact and take the pulse of a city in a war where there is no "behind the lines," no safe areas. It's even dangerous on the bases here.

In order for leaders of Kurilla's rank to know the pulse of the Iraqi people, they must make direct contact. There's a risk in that. But its men like Kurilla who can make this work. Even and especially in places like Mosul, where it takes a special penchant for fighting. A passion for the cause of freedom. A true and abiding understanding of both its value and its costs. An unwavering conviction that, in the end, we will win.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Casey Sheehan

A Sheehan worth writing about- Army Specialist Casey Sheehan. BlackFive has all the details.

Cindy would be serving her son's memory much better if she would tell his story and stay out of moonbat territory.

Monday, August 22, 2005

More Good News From Iraq

As if the news that Fallujah was requesting more election registration offices wasn't good enough, we also have this report from Iraq the Model on a Sunni flyer being handed out encouraging people to take part in the upcoming election. Interestingly, they also offer proofs from the Koran and Hadith to support their position.

Things certainly seem to be moving forward in Iraq. Looks like the threats issued by Al Qaeda in Iraq have come about because they can see the very real threat to them from increased Sunni participation in local politics.


I was going to post about her again but I thought - why the hell should I? This moonbat deserves to be ignored.

Soon silly season will be over and we'll not have to hear of her again.

The Wonder of Nanotubes

As regular readers will know I'm a self-confessed geek- so I was overjoyed to read Tim Worstall's post indicating that the technology now exists to craft a space elevator thanks to nanotubes. Wow.

Ever since I read Eric Drexler's Engines of Creation and the wonderful Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition- another equally good book about a myriad of techonological possibilities, written in a very entertaining and accessible style- I've been hooked on the magical opportunities that may await us in the future. Add a few copies of Extropy's magazine into the mix and you've got someone intrigued by "smart fog" and uploaded minds.

The 21st century is going to be a very interesting time- and a major factor in that will be nanotechnology. If people want to argue about where Bush puts government funding, they should just ignore stem cells and demand medical nanotech research; that's where the really interesting developments are going to happen.

UPDATE - New Scientist reports that scientists are using the Hubble Telescope to scout the Moon for sites for a potential human base.

UPDATE 2 - Tim Worstall links to this article about a space elevator in his article but here it is direct. According to a study by the author for NASA, a space elevator could reduce the cost of transporting objects into space from the current $20,000 per kilogram to $200 per kilogram. Multiple elevators could reudce that cost further to $10 per kilogram. Such a feat could mark the beginning of a true space age.

Good News From Fallujah

Iraq the Model states that Fallujah- remember Fallujah folks?- "are asking the authorities to increase the number of voters' registration offices in the city as the existing ones are not enough to finish the registration process of all eligible voters before the day of the referendum planned for October 15..."

That's FALLUJAH asking for more voter registration offices. Not just voter registration forms, but offices. Still think we're not making progress in Iraq?

Hat tip to Blogs for Bush.

Islam Uncovered

A couple of notable Islam stories to discuss today.

The first involves a statement from Al Qaeda in Iraq-

"The constitution, it says, is an act of heresy, and those who act to implement it are infidels who must be killed."

"We Will Kill Anyone Who Makes Himself Partner to Allah and Drafts a Constitution"

"The Shari'a Court calls upon people who have gone astray, following the dissenters and those who have erred, to distance themselves from the centers of the heretical elections – because these will constitute a legitimate target for the fire of the Jihad fighters…"

"Imams and preachers in the mosques of Iraq: know that you are responsible before Allah for every word that you say, and remember that the nation has expected you to be the ember leading its youth in the battlefields of Jihad and in the struggle against the Jewish, Christian, and Shiite oppressors… Yet unfortunately we have discovered that some [of you]… are unaware of the importance of your status, and are, knowingly or unknowingly, undermining the blessed path of Jihad, by enthusiastically calling upon people to participate in drafting the constitution and to join the ranks of the infidels – the military and the police…"

"Since democracy contradicts the law of Allah, we are commanded to regard as heresy the democracy, the constitution that is its symbol, and its regime, which guarantees deviation from the law of Allah, abolition [of the law of Allah], and sanctification of a human being, elevating him to the level of the Creator. Therefore, participating in drawing up laws together with Allah is overt heresy and obvious polytheism. Whoever believes in this, calls to it, or acts in accordance with it is infidel and apostate – even if he fasts, prays, and claims to be a Muslim…"

"The drafting of the constitution is a very grave act, which contradicts monotheism and is against the religion of Allah. He who drafts the constitution is making himself equal to the Lord of Heaven and Earth. A mortal cannot make laws for the living side by side with Allah, because lawmaking is one of the [exclusive] attributes of the Lord, and only tyrants and rebels compete in this with Allah…"

The important thing to note is this- they are opposed not to any US involvement in the drafting of the constitution- they are opposed to the prospect of a constitution crafted by the people and for the people. The only rule they will countenance is Allah's- in other words, Sharia. The very idea of democracy is anathema to these people.

The second story I'd like to draw your attention to involves the trial of three Christian women in Indonesia accused of "Christianizing" Muslim children.

Earlier this year, Rebecca Laonita, Ratna Mala Bangun, and Ety Pangesti conducted a "Happy Week" Vacation Bible School-type program in their homes in the village of Haurgelis, West Java. Eventually about a score of Muslim children also attended with permission of their parents. The women were arrested on charges of "Christianization" of Muslim children, and immediately jailed.

The "radicals" watching over court proceedings have demanded a harsh sentence for the women- if one is not handed down, they have vowed to take matters into their own hands. The WND article states that Inodnesia is "known for its tolerance" with a constitution that "guarantees freedom of religion". Plainly, freedom of religion does not include converting from Islam to Christianity- the women are "charged under Indonesia’s criminal law with using lies, deception or enticement to change a child’s religion". If Indonesia was in fact a tolerant society, three women would not be on trial for luring Muslim children to Christianity.

I don't hear any greeat outcry about this on the Left- though Christianity is constantly under attack in America by the Left with howls of "theocracy", they don't seem to realise that the actual threat- not the imagined one- is an Islamic theocracy. While the ACLU takes great pains to remove all references to Christianity from America, they are trying to introduce Islam.

MSM Gets It Right

This may come as quite shock but it appears that a MSM journalist has actually crafted a positive story on Soldiers' Angels. Picking up on the Black Five post entitled If It Wasn't For Her, it follows the story of Cpt Charles Ziegenfuss beign wounded in Iraq and shipped to Walter Reed. The Captain notes the story too and complains that too much attention was focused on him and not enough on Soldiers' Angels.

Credit where credit is due- the Washington Post did a good job here. I'm particularly pleased because the Black Five post that it's based on is one of the most moving stories I've come across lately- and it's better written than the Post story too by the way.

Ziegenfuss is beig helped stay in touch with friends and family- and continue blogging- by the use of Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software on his laptop. I've used that particular program in the past and it's a good package. Project Valor-IT has been set up to provide similarly equipped laptops totroops with hand and arm injuries or amputations. And of course there's the Soldiers' Angels themselves. Very worthwhile causes if you know what I mean.

Capsule Review

Battle Royal 2: Requiem.

Watch the first hour of the movie. After that it's really awful pro-terrorist claptrap. Not a patch on the first film.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sunday Miscellany

I've not been posting too much lately as I've been using my time to argue with people over at Democracy Arsenal. However, there are a few posts I'd like to bring to your attention today.

First up is a horrific link which I sent in to Jihad Watch. Yet another chilling example of the barbaric nature of our enemy. Women and children are not merely collateral damage for these animals- they are their deliberate targets.

Next up is the news (a day or two old now) that the UN has funded the Palestinians to produce propaganda (banners, stickers, mugs, bumper stickers) announcing "Today Gaza, Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem." As Blogs For Bush points out however, the UN gets a quarter of its funding from the US- so US taxpayer's money is funding Palestinian propaganda.

Staying with Blogs for Bush, they note that some of Cindy Sheehan's most vociferous supporters (Code Pink) took part in a mock trial during which they concluded-

"By the principles embodied in the UN Charter and in international law, the popular national resistance to the occupation is legitimate and justified. It deserves the support of people everywhere who care for justice and freedom."

In other words, they fully support the very people who killed Casey Sheehan. How these moonbats came to the conclusion that terrorists blowing up kids deserve the support of people who "care for justice and freedom" is beyond me. Mass murder of Iraqi civilians is "legitimate and justified"? Give me a break.

Yet again, Blogs for Bush- this time a story on John Kerry saying that "Bush and the Republicans have used the terrorism issue to divert attention from issues that favored the Democrats." In other words- Democrats are weak when it comes to terrorism, please don't talk about it. Who's trying to distract who?

Still on the topic of anti-war sentiment, LGF tells us that the Gold Star Families For Peace aren't looking for a debate with Bush-supporters. In her words, "We don't want to debate with people who don't understand our point of view."

And speaking of LGF, here's a story on an Islamic forum on the topic of Israel. The "Senior Member" says-

Resist and censor those who dare to promote that only the West Bank and Gaza are occupied and beg the kuffar to let them establish a freak entity in these areas called “Palestine”...Insist that the agents of kuffer who rule our lands and have betrayed Allah must be removed and replaced by a single Islamic leadership for the whole Ummah which will mobilize the vast armed forces to annihilate the state of Israel and take back Palestine to be part of the Ummah once again.

This is particularly interesting for me as Democracy Arsenal has a post up called "Inside the Arab Mind" by David Adesnik discussing essentially "why the Arab street hates America". Be sure to check out the comments there. As I pointed out many don't want the Israelis out of the West Bank and Jerusalem, they want to see Israel entirely destroyed.

The Akaka Bill

Michelle Malkin and guest poster Betsy Newmark have written about the Akaka Bill in Hawaii which would give "descendants of native Hawaiians the right to create a "Native Hawaiian governing entity" that will then negotiate with the federal government on possession of land."

As Newmark points out this bill is in direct violation of the 15th Amendment (which forbids racial restrictions on voting) and would also give rise to the very worrying notion of having to undergo blood testing to be eligible to vote- racial purity in other words. It's an absurd notion but as Newmark points out, the Supreme Court might not vote it down- McCain-Feingold anyone? Doesn't the Supreme Court know what it's job is?

It's very disappointing to hear that Bush is in favour of this measure.

Perhaps the solution to this Bill is to craft another one for descendants of the original white settlers of mainland USA, giving them preferential voting rights too. Genealogists could establish who was eligible and we could introduce blood tests to ensure that the whites were pure enough for special treatment.

Obviously, if sure a measure were even breathed of, the ACLU and goodness knows how many other groups would have a lawsuit frenzy. There wouldn't be a chance that anyone would want to be connected with such a proposal. Politicians would go out of their way to avoid even a hint of support for it and condemnations would ring out across the land. The unconstitutionality of it would be screamed from the rooftops. The 'N' word would be mentioned frequently. The Bill would obviously fail.

Sad that when you replace "white" with some other minority group, however, it's a different matter- then even the President will support it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Big Game in America

Here's an idea which has my wholehearted support- introducing wild, African animals (cheetah, elephant, etc) into the Great Plains of America.

Lions stalking deer in the stubble of a Nebraska corn field. Elephants trumpeting across Colorado's high plains. Cheetah slouching through the West Texas scrub.

This "rewilding" idea, replacing the megafauna made extinct by man, is to restore biodiversity to the continent by reintorducing species similar to those lost 10 to 50 thousand years ago.

As a commenter on Tim Worstall's site notes- they are also toying with the idea of introducing elephant to Australia.

This looks like a good idea as not only will it give those species most at risk a chance of survival, but in years to come when populations have stabilised somewhat it could give American hunters a chance to tackle the sort of big game that many can only dream about. Even the big game reserves in Africa have to cull species every now and then and what better way to help finance the reserves in the states than to permit very limited hunting?

Left/Right Dialogue?

As I've said I've been doing a bit of commenting over at some left-leaning blogs. Sometimes it seems as if it's a hopeless endevour- despite the sometimes heated rhetoric it appears that the best that can be hoped for it polite discussion. Actually swaying the opinions of those on either side of the debate is nigh on impossible.

Recently at Democracy Arsenal the old "chickenhawk" argument has been trotted out. As David Adnesik there notes, it's a useless line of attack. The same logic can be applied to doezens of activities- you can't talk about law enforcement unless you're going to put on a badge or my own favourite, you can't comment on space exploration unless you're going to face the dangers of being an astronaut yourself. The chickenhawk argument can also be used against those who fling it around without regard- how can you be anti-war when those who do put their lives on the line are in favour of it? In an odd coincidence, The Jawa Report has carried out a poll on left and right blogs enquiring as to their military service or lack of it, inpsired by the same chickenhawk "defense". His conclusion thus far is- "There is no basis in reality, then, to the widespread accusation that the Right bloggers are members of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists."

I had actually begun to write a much longer piece on the possibilities of a rational discussion of the war and opposition to it, but when I read it over I thought- what's the point? Are those on the Left ever going to ditch the wild theories that Cindy Sheehans's currently spouting and actually begin to discuss the real facts of the fight we're engaged in? Then I read this piece over at TPMCafe.

First off, he declares that the Left was right over Vietnam. The correct approach to that war was to pull the troops out and leave the South Vietnamese to the Communists. Sorry, but I don't quite see how leaving an ally defenceless against a bloodthirsty aggressor is the right approach. But that's an argument for another day.

He goes on to mention the pick-up truck that ran over the crosses at Sheehan's protest. This is a mistake of the pro-war right he claims - ignoring completely the condemnations coming from the right over this act. I haven't yet come across a right-wing blogger who thinks that this guy was right to do what he did. The author of this piece, Begala, indentifies a suspect in this case and promptly labels him a "gun nut". Nice stereotype there.

Begala goes on to state- "Today it is the left invoking faith, flag and family, while the right destroys crosses. Today it is the left that honors the war dead, raises up a Gold Star Mother and publicly prays for our troops, while the right viciously attacks a woman who gave her country everything. Today it is the left that patiently and peacefully respects the Office of the Presidency, while the right diminishes the office by claiming it's more important for the President to go bike-riding with a sports hero than comfort the mother of a war hero. "

The left is invoking faith, family and flag, it honours the war dead? Really? I must have missed that memo. Does she respect the Office of the Presidency? Let's actually look at what she's saying shall we?

"We have no Constitution. We’re the only country with no checks and balances. We want our country back if we have to impeach George Bush down to the person who picks up the dog sh-t in Washington! Let George Bush send his two little party animals to die in Iraq. It’s OK for Israel to have nuclear weapons but we are waging nuclear war in Iraq, we have contaminated the entire country. It’s not OK for Syria to be in Lebanon. Hypocrites! But Israel can occupy Palestine? Stop the slaughter!" ...

"America has been killing people on this continent since it was started. This country is not worth dying for..."

"The other thing I want him to tell me is 'just what was the noble cause Casey died for?' Was it freedom and democracy? Bull---t! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East. We're not freer here, thanks to your PATRIOT Act. Iraq is not free. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism," she says."There, I used the 'I' word -- imperialism," the 48 year-old mother quipped. "And now I'm going to use another 'I' word impeachment because we cannot have these people pardoned. They need to be tried on war crimes and go to jail. I am not paying my taxes for 2004. You killed my son, George Bush, and I don't owe you a penny . . . you give my son back and I'll pay my taxes. Come after me for back taxes and we'll put this war on trial."

Who exactly is respecting the troops, the flag, and the presidency? It certainly isn't Cindy Sheehan. And for someone to write that it's the Left that invokes faith, family and flag in light of this very obvious, easily accessible evidence is staggering. Can't he see that Sheehan's words are the exact opposite of what he claims? Is this another example of the warped thinking that lead Howard Dean to proclaim that the Kelo decision was down to conservative judges?

It's for this reason that I deleted my former post. When your view of the world is so obviously skewed like this, is there any reason for anyone actually attempting to engage in a rational discussion with you? It seems futile. And TPMCafe was actually recommended to me as a left-wing/liberal site which had a reasonable tone. If this is the state of reason within the left wing today, all is lost for them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Pro-War Left-Winger?

I've mentioned Democracy Arsenal a few times lately and I'm going to do it again today, because David Adesnik has another good post up about a song by National Guardsman Luke Stricklin. I disagree with the slight he gives conservatives (can they understand the complex issue of success in Iraq and its impact on personal freedom?) but for a post on a left-wing, pro-Democrat site to come out and applaud the noble efforts of the troops in Iraq. That's a first for me.

It's just a shame that the leadership of the Democrats cannot express similar views- how different would the political landscape of the US be right now if they could actually stop slandering the troops with Nazi-analogies and praise the difficult job being done? Could it be that the continued mission in Iraq, the successes that have been accomplished are gradually beginning to filter through to the Left? Could it be that while "mother" Sheehan grabs the limelight, that the polarising effect of the war is beginning to fade?

I'm not quite sure it's at that point yet (be sure to check out some of the comments there) but it does seem that at least some Democrats realise that the way forward is not to denigrate the efforts of the military nor to demand an immediate pull out from Iraq. If such sentiments begin to spread then it will make future elections in the US that much more interesting- can you imagine a 2008 election with both candidates in favour of staying the course in Iraq? Sounds like an hallucination right now but it could be that as Iraq continues its slow march forward, it will become obvious to all that slamming Bush for going to war in the first place- regardless of where we're at now- is a patently absurd place to be.

Smallest Minority and Clayton Cramer

Got some time to kill? Why not head over to Smallest Minority and check out the debate raging between blogger Kevin and guest voice Alex. The debate begins here with Kevin's question

"What did the Second Amendment mean when it was ratified, and does it matter today?"

Frankly, Alex is being eviscerated by Kevin's cogent arguments. Be sure to check out the comments too for some worthwhile reading. I'm astonished by the furore over the "meaning" of the 2nd amendment. It seems pretty clear to me- "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Can it get any more simple? The problem seems to be that "militia" and "the people" seem to get confused. I can't see how- the sentence breaks down very simply into two parts- in the first it says that a militia is required for the security of the state therefore THE PEOPLE have the right to keep arms. The reason being that the militia is drawn from "the people". Really, I don't understand the confusion. I do see that some people do not like guns and so they will go through whatever semantic gymnastics they can to get read they want to read.

On a related topic- Kevin references one of Cramer's books- be sure to check out Clayton Cramer's blog.First, he notes the arrogance of Bush-haters ("oh, he reads books?") and then highlights a fantastic report of National Guardsmen in Iraq-

Dozens of teams made up of two U.S. soldiers and five Iraqi policemen systematically search each and every home. A sniper team covers the rooftops, along with the Apaches. We move tactically, weapons raised and ready, down the roads, entering and clearing each home.

Most people are friendly, calm and almost welcoming. While we might have to ram open the door of one home, the next could welcome us inside and offer tea. One team, U.S. soldiers included, emerges from a home munching fresh, warm flat bread.

Cramer makes a good point about the advantage of National Guardsmen doing this sort of duty in Iraq (switching from point of the spear action one moment to goodwill the next).

Sheehan vs Good Deeds

The Cindy Sheehan thing has been all over the blogs for the past week or so. I've said everything I think I need to say about this woman. Chrenkoff does his usual sterling work in highlighting more comments from mothers who continue to support the men and women fighting in Iraq- and who have lost their own children to the conflict. As he notes- it's Sheehan getting all the big press, not the mothers who continue to voice support for the war. Perhaps if we really had an unbiased media we'd hear much more from these other parents and learn something of the troops who have lost their lives, hear their stories. Sheehan has spent an awful lot of her time in the spotlight critcising Bush and America and completely failing to condemn the terrorists who killed her son- perhaps she'd be better served telling Casey's story.

Chrenkoff also does the "good news from Iraq" thing again. Out of the whole post one story caught my eye- that of a fourteen year old American girl who heard that troops wanted beanie babies sent out to them- to give to Iraqi children. This girl not only gatherted up her own collection to send over, but also organised friends and family. By last December she'd sent 28,000 of the soft toys. She's now considering taking her appeal national and launching a website. A fourteen year old girl? Incredible. I'm just stunned by the selfless work of one so young.

Chrenkoff also notes the efforts of actor Gary Sinese to ship basic school supplies to Iraqi children via his co-founded Operation Iraqi Children. They have shipped more than 200,000 of the school kits to kids over there. So strange to hear of an actor not spouting off about Iraq, but actually doing something so worthwhile for the country. Fantastic effort.

Of course, there's much, much more but you knew that already. Grab a cup of coffee and take the time to read it all.

Finally, on the subject of Sheehan, why not nip over to Froggy Ruminations and read "Warrior Psych 101". Here's a sampler which might help understand why the men and women of the armed forces do what they do-

Better still is this scripture that the Nightstalkers are known to quote from time to time, Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sheehan Again

Looks like it's time for another post about Cindy Sheehan thanks to a post over at Red Hot Cuppa Politics. In that piece, a history of Sheehan's anti-war activities, it's revealed that Sheehan has stated-

“George Bush and his neo-conservatives killed my son...America has been killing people on this continent since it was started. This country is not worth dying for.”

She also stated that the US government was a "morally repugnant system". Note here- she did not say administration, she called the government a morally repugnant system.

Compare her comments to the actions of her son who re-enlisted and volunteered to go into combat.

Incidentally, she voiced this opinion of America (surerly one her son did not share) at a meeting at San Francisco State University, who were also host at the time to Lynne Stewart, the lawyer found guilty of passing messages from her client to a terrorist group- the man responsible for the first World Trade Centre attack in '93. Strange company for an "anti-war" activist to keep. Stranger still for the mother of a man killed fighting in Iraq.

Whatever her original intentions may have been it's my opinion that this is no longer about her son- and hasn't been for some time- this is all about her. Casey Sheehan volunteered to join the Army, he volunteered to re-enlist and he volunteered to go out on a combat mission. All his mother is doing now is dishonouring his name.

Sheehan continues to get publicity demanding a meeting with Bush but she's already had one. She chose then to say nothing out of respect for her son. There are plenty of other families of fallen troops who have not met with the President- Sheehan could continue with her anti-war campaign but I fail to see the point of her demanding another meeting. Does she really think it will change anything? Sheehan herself said that the meeting was beneficial, though by that it was more for a chance to spend time with other families who had experienced the same loss as hers. Perhaps she'd be better off letting those other families have the time to meet with the President instead of demanding face-time herself.

One of the reasons I admire Bush is for his sincere compassion. He has "
met with about 900 family members of some 270 soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan."

Most families encourage the president to stay the course in Iraq. "To oppose something my husband lost his life for would be a betrayal," says Inge Colton, whose husband, Shane, died in April 2004 when his Apache helicopter was shot down over Baghdad.

Cindy Sheehan certainly seems to be in the minority of those mothers who have lost sons or daughters in Iraq or Afghanistan. Her loss does not give her any more authority than those mothers who still support the war effort, though the media had completely ignored their voice in favour of hearing Sheehan's.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Monday's Assorted Stories

Democracy Arsenal- a left-wing site which focuses on national security matters. Worth a read as it usually rises above the common partisan invective whcih seems to be driving left and right in America further and further apart.

A chemical weapons lab has been discovered in Iraq containing 1,500 gallons of chemicals. Amongst the chemicals were 11 precursor agents. Where did they come from? Were they smuggled into Iraq? If so, why were they smuggled in to be made into weapons there? Wouldn't it have been easier to manufacture the chemical agents outside of Iraq? Or, did the chemicals originate inside Iraq? Who was involved- foreign terrorists or ex-members of Saddam's regime?
Counterterrorism Blog points out testimoney from Charles Duelfer-
"Iraq did have facilities suitable for the production of biological and chemical agents needed for weapons. It had plans to improve and expand and even build new facilities."

LGF highlights the case of a man sentenced to life in prison in Pakistan for blasphemy. His crime? Calling four imams "Jews" and stating that the Koran did not mention stoning to death for adultery. Think about that for a moment- life in prison for writing a book. That's one for the fans of moral equivalence- any Christian countries do this?

The TSA in America is consdiering changing the safety rules for flying- by lifting a ban on razorblades, small knives and by limiting patdown searches. The idea is to make screening more "passenger friendly". The only passenger friendly thing they should be concerned about is preventing another 9/11-type plane hijacking. I believe boxcutters were used to take over those aircraft. Surely that would come under the heading of small knives? Good to see that sound, rational risk assessment is alive and well in the wake of the London bombings and renewed intelligence assessments of further attacks.

A low-tech approach to troop resupply by some Marines in Afghanistan- they're using donkeys to transport food and water.

Some more segregation in America- this time in the form of (ultimately) government subsidized Muslim women only swimming.

Some more good news on developments in Iraq from Strategy Page- improved law enforcement is gradually tunring the tide in the terrorist war there-

"The Iraqi police are taking more casualties than the Americans, but the cops are winning the war, one neighborhood at a time. "

Northern Ireland News

I don't offer mention Northern Ireland on this blog but today I thought I'd have a bit of a change and do a quick round up of the headlines here today.

First of all is the report of a man being shot as he arrived at work in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. This is a staunch Loyalist area and a bit of a rough area of the city, though it's not far at all from the more sedate Queen's University, where I studied. It seems that his death is linked to a feud between two rival Loyalist groups, the UVF and LVF. Obviously a power struggle between what are essentially criminal gangs now.

Next we have Blair defending his decision to not only dismantle border watchtowers (set up to spot IRA and other terrorists sneaking across the border to carry out attacks- the usual MO was to launch an attack and then slip across the border where the military and RUC could not follow) but also three battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment. The battalions to be disbanded are what's known as "home battalions"- that is, they are tasked to serve in Northern Ireland only. The "overseas" battalions of the RIR also serve in-country but they also go on overseas postings- Sierra Leone and Iraq for example.

Blair's reasoning for the disbandment is the IRA statment that they are giving up violence. Of course, he fails to take into account the fact that the IRA broke their ceasefire years ago by bombing London. He also seems to be ignoring the fact that the IRA still has its weapons and explosives and was, as soon as the beginning of the year, still recruiting and training terrorists. The prudent move would be to keep the security measures in place until the IRA actually disarmed (police stations here are heavily fortified against bomb attacks too- the PSNI is spending something like £1.5 million "softening" these security features- in other words, removing them).

No mention of course of the "dissident" Nationalist groups (for example, Real IRA), like those responsible for the Omagh bomb- have they laid down their arms? Blair makes no mention of the threat they pose. Nor does he consider the idea that it might be useful to keep the troops and gradually phase them into overseas units, to supplement the already overstretched Britsh forces. The RIR have huge experience in operating in urban areas and to lose three battalions of such skilled soldiers seems absurdly ridiculous at this time.

This is an example of the sort of thing that happens so frequently in this country that the government has had to take out TV ads to highlight the problem. A fake call went in about a fire and when the police and fire engines turned up they were attacked by stone throwing thugs. Idiocy in action.

Sheehan Again

Looks like it's time for another Sheehan post. I replied to a comment on my previous post but I felt like writing some more on the matter. The first thing I want to say is that I would be furious if I thought my mother were exploiting my death in this way (and when I was in the Marines it looked like Saddam was going to kick off for a short time- needless to say, all of my comrades were itching to get stuck in). The troops predominantly support the war effort and see that they have to stay the course in Iraq. Yes, it would be wonderul to bring the troops home but the problem with doing it right now is that it will leave a vacuum of power behind, one that will quickly be filled by the Islamofascist thugs. No one in their right mind wants that- the solution therefore, is for the mission in Iraq to continue- to fight the terrorists and train the Iraqi forces until they are able to take over. If anyone can think of another solution I'd like to hear it.

First of all, let's here what an Iraqi has to say about the matter-

Ma'am, we asked for your nation's help and we asked you to stand with us in our war and your nation's act was (and still is) an act of ultimate courage and unmatched sense of humanity.
Our request is justified, death was our daily bread and a million Iraqi mothers were expecting death to knock on their doors at any second to claim someone from their families.
Your face doesn't look strange to me at all; I see it everyday on endless numbers of Iraqi women who were struck by losses like yours.

Our fellow country men and women were buried alive, cut to pieces and thrown in acid pools and some were fed to the wild dogs while those who were lucky enough ran away to live like strangers and the Iraqi mother was left to grieve one son buried in an unfound grave and another one living far away who she might not get to see again.

We did nothing to deserve all that suffering, well except for a dream we had; a dream of living like normal people do.

Did Casey Sheehan die in vain? I don't think so- and if people could get over the argument about why we went to war in the first place, I think that would improve the debate. Regardless of your opinions on that matter, the simple fact is that we did go to war and American troops are needed in Iraq here and now. Arguing about WMDs does nothing to change that. The troops are there and that's what the debate should be about.

Chrenkoff has a good round up of comments from other mothers who have lost their children in the fighting in Iraq. Here's just one-

"George Bush didn't kill her son, it's the evildoers who have no value of life who killed her son. Her son made a decision to join the Armed Forces and defend our country, knowing that, at any time, war could come about," the mother of Marine Cpl. Marc T. Ryan said.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Sheehan Slap

I haven't commented on the Cindy Sheehan story so far because it's been pretty low down on my "interest radar". It seems like the Left belives that it has found a figure to rally the anti-war movement around. I also discovered today (from my parents) that the TV news over here has been covering her too, in glowing terms.

For what it's worth here's my take on it- her son Casey volunteered to join the military knowing full well that he could be sent into harms way. As an adult he had the right to make that decision. Mrsa. Sheehan did get to meet Bush, but as she said at the time she did not give voice to her feelings because of the feelings of her son. I don't think that any soldier serving would want to think that his or her death would be used as it his is now, particularly by groups who support the "insurgency", the men who actually did kill Casey. And let's not forget that important point- Bush didn't kill her son, terrorists in Iraq did. If Cindy Sheehan really wanted to honour her fallen son, I do not believe she would use him in this way- because this does not seem to be what he would have wanted.

My final word on the matter (for now anyway) is to say this- go and read Greg Gutfeld's post on this. He catches the essence of her protest-

THE CHIEF BRODY SLAP (CBS) is a chief staple in an any liberal diet: a fiery mix of outrage, self-rightious indignation and condemnation delivered from a moral highground so lofty it gives you a nosebleed. The Brody Slap is predicated on the idea that you don't need a solution, only blame. Who needs a real alternative when you're already outraged? It's easy!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday Links

Just a few couple of links tonight-

First off, John Podhertz over at The Corner postulates that the 9/11 Commission staffers ignoring the Able Danger pinging of Mohammed Atta may have something to do with preserving their timeline on him. Is it now possible that there's more information on Atta meeting with Iraqi intelligence in Prague? Interesting theory- obviously a major investigation needs to be launched into this gigantic screw up.

Another superb post from Black Five on Marine Sergeant Eddie Wright. This man is yet another of the heroes that the New York Times was looking for. Hit by an RPG in Iraq he had both his hands blown off and his leg torn open. Wright did not panic but instead took command of the situation and kept his Marines calm, directing fire towards enemy gun emplacements. Go read the full Black Five piece for all the details. Next to "courage under fire" in the dictionary there should be a picture of this Marine.

That's incredible enough but Wright is now beginning a new life as a hand-to-hand combat instructor at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Commitment to Excellence (MACE) program at Raider Hall in Quantico, VA.

Simply incredible.

Islamic Police

Perhaps I was too quick to state yesterday that attitudes in Britain are changing because the Nottinghamshire police have just announced a scheme to get their officers to wear green ribbons- the traditional colour of Islam. The idea is to show "solidarity with Muslims after the London attacks."

Of course, Muslim terrorists attack the capital so why not wear a fashionable little ribbon to show your solidarity with the community they came from. British Muslims are afterall "being held hostage by fear".

No mention of the people actually being targeted by Muslim terrorists then?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Segregation in American Classrooms

While attitude in Europe (well, Britain and Italy and even France) towards Islam change and harden, it almost seems that America going in the opposite direction. An odd reversal.

While the ACLU campaigns against bag searches on the New York subway and profiling is banned on the subway and at airports (good call- surely better to avoid offence and search Grandma's knitting bag instead of that shifty looking, perfume-wearing guy with the back-pack), we also hear that Virginia Tech is to enable segregated classes for Saudi students. Sorry, "gender-specific" classes. A spokesman said that they did not want to "impress our culture on them" and so they've chosen to teach the class as it would have been taught in Saudi. AS Dhimmi Watch points out, no such respect for American culture is provided for in Saudi.

Where's the feminist outrage when you need it? When it could actually mean something substantial and show these Saudi women that in America men and women are equal. Could perhaps inspire them to think about the situation of women in their own country. Instead, there's silence and the Saudi women see that even in America, the land of the free, they can be treated differently just because of their sex. Virginia Tech should be ashamed. Damn the money they're getting from this to hell- shouldn't they be standing up for freedom and equality? Or do left-wing dominated institutions only do that when they perceive some slight on their "own kind"?

As is noted in the comments on Dhimmi Watch and at the Roanoke message boards, VT is federally funded and thus liable to follow federal law- segregation like this is surely prohibited?

I found this post by "Susan Felker" at Roanoke particularly illuminating- "The Saudis in this group have chosen to be separated, according to statements they have made. I think we should respect others' cultures, and their choices."

I'm sure that the female Saudi students are going to kick up a fuss and demand that they have integrated classrooms. Of course women in Saudia Arabia are permitted to demand equality like that! In the world according to Felker women have the right to be treated like second-class citizens if that's what they want, damnit!

Sign of Change?

In perhaps another sign that things are changing here in the UK a BBC/MORI poll has found that a majority of Muslims in Britain (65%) would prefer for sermons in mosques to be conducted in English.

According to the Chair of the Muslim Council of Religious and Racial Harmony only about 10% of imams in Britain are fluent in English, the other 90% speaking in their own language.

The poll asked a sample of Muslims on their views of multiculturalism in Britain- "87% thought multiculturalism improved British society, but only 28% thought people coming from abroad should adopt British culture and values."

It begs the question then of why exactly they chose to come to Britain and not some other country?

A third of the UK citizens interviewed (the Muslim sample was taken for comparison) vocied the opinion that Islam was "incompatible with the values of British democracy".

British Government Takes Action

Some interesting developments in the UK today.

First of all 10 foreign nationals who authorities claim are a risk to national security have been detained and are awaiting deportation. At least three of the men were previously held in Belmarsh prison.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said- "The circumstances of our national security have changed. It is vital that we act against those who threaten it."

Under British law we cannot deport anyone if they may face persecution on return to their own country.

"But the government has reached agreement with Jordan that deportees will not be persecuted, and is in negotiation with 10 other countries, including Lebanon and Algeria."

This is a fantastic development- the 7/7 bombs have had the effect of mobilising the British government to actually work towards defeating the Islamist terrorist threat the UK faces. Of course Amnesty International and the usual crowd are opposed to the deportation of these men (and appeals will most likely be launched delaying their actually being booted out) but they are at least in custody now. Soon, they will be gone.

Good riddance.

In other news, Omar Bakri- who fled England a short time ago to Lebanon- has been detained by authorities in Beirut. No charges have been announced yet but it seems that he can be held for 48 hours without charge. Wonder what's going on there?