Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hidden News

If Murdoc hadn't pointed this out I wouldn't have discovered the news from reading the headlines today- they continue the "situation gravely deteriorating in Iraq" theme. Actually, for US troops over there, things actually seem to be getting better.

The Marine deaths reported Friday brought the number of U.S. military fatalities in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion to 2,996, said, with 816 of them occurring this year. Last year, 846 American service members died; in 2004, the figure was 848.

The number of U.S. wounded is also down this year — 5,676 compared with 5,947 in 2005 and 8,001 in 2004.

So while casualties and deaths are down the news is ignored. Heaven forbid that a major media outlet actually publish some heartening news from Iraq.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Gun Safety

Thankfully the woman involved in this incident wasn't hurt badly- but it's a warning to all shooters to remain safety conscious at all times, even when hot brass is down your top!

Police said Anna Herrera-Gomez was practicing with a 9 mm gun at the H&H Gun Range in Oklahoma City when a hot shell casing fell down the front of her shirt.

She jumped as the hot metal touched her skin and reached for her chest. Police said that's when she accidentally shot herself in the leg."Of course, we train for this, but unbeknownst to us, we had a gentlemen on the range who was a trained EMT. (He) took care of it immediately, and even though it was a shooting, it was actually very minimal," said H&H Gun Range owner Miles Hall.

Hall said the woman was embarrassed more than anything else.

A lucky escape for her.

Saddam Executed

Justice at last.

Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi dictator who spent his last years in captivity after his ruthless regime was toppled by a U.S.-led coalition, was hanged before dawn Saturday for crimes committed during his reign.

Hussein's death came in "a blink of the eye" after his executioner activated the gallows just after 6 a.m. (10 p.m. Friday ET), Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, told CNN.

"This dark page has been turned over," Rubaie said. "Saddam is gone. Today Iraq is an Iraq for all the Iraqis, and all the Iraqis are looking forward. ... The [Hussein] era has gone forever."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Here's one of my favourite "Christmas songs", Louis Armstrong's Winter Wonderland, set to a slideshow of photos from the 50s and 60s.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Gun Rights

Okay, listen up American gun owners because this is an important one- War on Guns has posted a letter received from the FAA regarding their declaration that the 2nd Amendment is a collective, not an individual, right.

Thank you for your comments on the human space flight requirements. This rule, including its security requirements, underwent coordination and review within the executive branch. It was reviewed and approved by the Executive Office of the President.

Here's the comment on this-

When John Ashcroft penned his "individual rights" opinion, it made headlines around the world. Terms like "sea change" were thrown about, and we were told how significant the opinion was for gun rights. The Bradys went nuts. 18 state attorneys general followed suit and drafted their own letter of concurrence. And this was used to tremendous advantage to convince gun owners to throw their support behind the Bush administration.

But now we have it from one of the top attorneys in that administration that the "collective rights" language "was reviewed and approved by the Executive Office of the President."

David Codrea of War on Guns has sent another letter asking for further clarification but as he points out, this is important news- and news that will probably not receive much attention at all. Perhaps it's time for gun owners in the US to start contacting their representatives about this matter now rather than later.

Spread the word.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Peace In Our Time

Imagine a world in which Hollywood was filled with people like David Zucker...

Hat tip to Clayton Cramer for this one.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ninja Training Camp

Got this video via the Maximuscle email newsletter- the most incredible display of human prowess I think I've ever scene. The feats these guys are capable of are just amazing. An awesome demonstration of pure talent and breathtaking fitness. They are Team Ryouko, an extreme martial arts performance team.

Watch and be amazed.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Concept Art

I love comic book art and movie art- the design that goes into films. In fact, I think I probably like the Art Of books for the new Star Wars trilogy as much as I like the films themselves. I even like some films or games because of the designs in them, despite the fact that the story, dialogue and/or acting suck. A really interesting design can add so much to a film. The Rocketeer's helmet, Deckard's blaster in Blade Runner, the rocket ships in Buster Crabbe's Flash Gordon to name but a few.

It's also pretty cool to get a glimpse of the art behind the movies to see what things might have been like. For exa
mple, Christopher Lee's character in the Star Wars prequels was originally designed as a skin-head albino alien chick. They liked the concept so much that she was developed into another character for the Clone Wars cartoon- Asajj Ventress.

Anyway, the whole point of this post is to point you towards some concept art sites-

Ryan Church, who has worked on Star Wars and War of the Worlds. There's a great desktop wallpaper of his tripods in action here.

James Clyne, who also did some War of the Worlds work.

Then the incredible Daniel Simon- I can't quite recall how I came across his site but I sure am glad I did. His science fiction vehicle design is stunning- someone needs to make a film featuring his Ice Train right away. And be sure to also look at the Illustration section too- lovely clean lines to his work. Fantastic.

Finally, for now, there's Pablo Valbueno- not too much on the website just yet but some intriguing alien designs there to check out.

If you have any you'd like to recommend please do.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Dept of Bad Ideas

Gun grabbers are already fighting to introduce serial number-stamped bullets and fingerprint controlled firearms amongst their other hoplophobic tactics. Well, here another bad idea for your consideration.

The way to make firearms really safe, says Hebert Meyerle of Germany, is to password-protect the ammunition itself.

Meyerle is patenting a design for a modified cartridge that would be fired by a burst of high-frequency radio energy. But the energy would only ignite the charge if a solid-state switch within the cartridge had been activated. This would only happen if a password entered into the gun using a tiny keypad matched one stored in the cartridge.

You see, guns aren't as safe as this chap thinks they could be because someone might steal your ammunition and use it in another weapon.

The system would undoubtedly cost more than a conventional gun, but many firearm enthusiasts would surely pay a premium for such added security.

Of course, consumers just love to see the product they buy rendered incredible expensive and possibly more unreliable by the addition of electronics to appease some hoplophobe's unwarranted fears. Yep, the added security of knowing that your ammunition couldn't be stolen and used by someone else is such a pressing concern of so many gun owners I'm surprised no one has thought of this before.

The scary thing is that some gun grabbers will probably read this and think that it's a great idea.

Global Cooling

2006 isn't quite over yet but the experts are already announcing that it will be the sixth warmest year on record. Of course they try to make out that it's all doom and gloom- melting ice caps, rising sea levels, flood, famine, storms, dogs and cats living together. You get the picture.

What the report actually seems to miss though is that while 2006 was quite a warm year, the warmest years on record are 1998 and 2005. So what we're really looking at here is not evidence of global warming, but global cooling. It's actually cooler than it was nearly 10 years ago.

And the Belfast Telegraph reports that for the month of November, 12 were warmer than the month we've just had over the past 100 years.

Time to celebrate? Or worry about an impending ice age?


Just a little food for thought- if you look at these graphs you'll see that the current fossil fuel burning, cow raising, SUV driving, human intervention-caused global warming temperatures are similar to the Medieval Warm Period of about a thousand years ago. You'll also note that it was followed by a period called the Little Ice Age; since that time the graphs have been pretty much trending upwards. You'll also see a curious mirroring of this in the graphs for solar output over the same period. Oddly enough there was a period of high output a thousand years ago during the pre-industrial Medieval Warm Period just as there is now. In fact there's been a quite low period of solar activity over the past few hundred years that just so happens to coincide with the accurate, scientific recording of temperature- one might think that the recovery from the Maunder Minimum might suggest that it was that period which was the anomaly and not the current warmer temperatures we're experiencing.

Die Hard 4 And Others

2007 looks like it will have some enjoyable movies coming out- I Am Legend, 30 Days of Night, Spiderman 3, Ghost Rider, 300, Hot Fuzz, zombie movie Fido, Danny Boyle's Sunshine, Grindhouse, The Last Legion, 28 Weeks Later, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Fantastic Four- Rise of the Silver Surfer, Transformers, The Bourne Ultimatum, Resident Evil: Extinction, Beowulf, 10,000BC, Aliens vs Predator 2 and of course Die Hard 4- Live Free or Die Hard. I really hope that this latest installment lives up to the previous John McClane films.

Free Muslims Coalition

I'm pushed for time right now but I didn't want to miss posting this- an article about the flying imams from the Free Muslims website.

As a devout Muslim, I have watched this painfully protracted saga unravel, fearing what comes next. The media, especially print media, have bent over backward to hear minorities' fears. Yet public opinion has not seemed to budge in favor of the imams. The lesson here lies in why. It has to do with credibility.

We are all creatures of passion. This fiasco has stirred the passionate cry of victimization from the Muslim activist community and imam community. But where were the news conferences, the rallies to protest the endless litany of atrocities performed by people who act supposedly in my religion's name? Where are the denunciations, not against terrorism in the abstract, but clear denunciations of al-Qaida or Hamas, of Wahhabism or militant Islamism, of Darfurian genocide or misogyny and honor killings, to name a few? There is no cry, there is no rage. At best, there is the most tepid of disclaimers. In short, there is no passion. But for victimization, always.

Only when Americans see that animating passion will they believe that we Muslims are totally against the fascists that have hijacked our religion. There is only so much bandwidth in the American culture to focus upon Islam and Muslims. If we fill it with our shouts of victimization, then the real problems from within and outside our faith community will never be heard.

If the world were a just place the media would have the Free Muslims Coalition on speed dial and not CAIR.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rumsfeld Speaks

Donald Rumsfeld took a lot of abuse during his time as Sec Def but I always had a bit of a soft spot for him. Perhaps it was because of the work he did before 9/11 to better the quality of life of the troops. Way back then the military stories in the press seemed to consist of tales of troops having to resort to food stamps to support their families. I can remember reading about Rummy and the effort he put in then to improve the lot of the American soldier. Now that we have a possible replacement in "we won't attack Iran" Gates I'm feeling Rumsfeld's loss more acutely. And he seems to have a had a better grasp of the situation than his critics have given him credit. Here are some excerpts from an interview he gave recently. I'm going to include quite a bit because I think that the message he's putting out is one the administration needs to keep repeating.

--The fact that it's the first war of the 21st century and notably different from World War I or World War II is also a problem in a sense that it is unfamiliar ground. There are not big armies, navies or air forces contesting, going against another with visible results and unambiguous outcomes.

We have, without question, the finest military on the face of the Earth and indeed in the history of the world. We can't lose a battle, and we haven't, and we won't. But the military alone, given the nature of this struggle, this conflict, can't win alone. There is no way the military can prevail because what we're engaged in is, in a very real sense, a battle of ideas, a struggle within the Muslim faith between the overwhelming majority of mainstream Muslims and a relatively small minority of violent extremists that have access to all the modern technology, off-the-shelf stuff, very lethal weapons -- increasingly lethal and dangerous weapons -- and all the technologies of wire transfers and e-mails and the Internet to communicate with each other. So the absence of a good, clear, readily understandable and indeed preferably visible -- through photographs and images -- of a conflict, of a war, of a struggle that is understandable -- the absence of that creates a notably different environment.

--I personally believe that the consequences of allowing the situation in Iraq to be turned over to terrorists would be so severe and not simply because Iraq with its water and oil and wealth and geographic position and population size and history as a haven to plan attacks on the rest of the world, the moderate regimes in the region, the United States would be so consequential; but because the -- I don't -- the effect in Iraq is one thing, the effect in the region is a second thing, but the implications worldwide in terms of the U.S. ability to provide security for the American people and work effectively with our friends, partners and allies would be diminished.

--But if you asked me what my view would be, it would be that the military can't lose, but the military can't win alone, it simply requires political solutions. They've got to have reconciliation in their country. They simply have to take a series of steps, that they've not yet sufficiently taken.

And that it would be like trying -- set aside World War I, set aside World War II and major air, sea and land battles, think more of the Cold War. At any given moment in the Cold War -- which lasted 50 years -- you couldn't say if you're winning or losing, it's very difficult.

--They aren't straight, smooth paths, they're bumpy roads. They're difficult. The enemy has a brain; they're constantly making adjustments. Here -- I mean if you think of the phases of the Cold War when Eurocommunism was in vogue and when people were demonstrating by the millions against the United States, not against the Soviet Union, and the -- and yet, over time, people found the will to -- both political parties, our country, Western European countries, to persist in a way that ultimately led to victory.

The circumstance we're in today is more like that than it is World War II. And people are going to have to get more familiar with that idea. It's not a happy prospect. But there are people in the world who are determined to destabilize moderate Muslim regimes and reestablish a caliphate across this globe, as they are. And anyone who wants to know about it can go on the Internet and read their own words, what their intent is. They are serious, they are deadly. They are not going to surrender. They're going to have be captured or killed. They're going to have to be dissuaded. People are going to have to be dissuaded from supporting them, from financing them, from assisting in the recruitment, from providing havens for them.

And we're in an environment where we have to fight and win a war where the enemy is in countries that we're not at war with. That is a very complicated thing to do. It doesn't happen fast. It means you've got to invest the time and the effort and the ability, which we -- we don't have the institutions, we don't have the organization, we haven't had the training as a society to rapidly develop the skill sets so that the countries that are cooperative with us develop the capacity and the ability to govern their own real estate, which they don't have.

Asked about what he might have done differently with the benefit of hindsight-

--I guess I don't think I would have called it the war on terror. I don't mean to be critical of those who have or did or -- and certainly I've used the phrase frequently. Why do I say that? I say it because the word "war" conjures up World War II more than it does the Cold War, and it creates a level of expectation of victory and an ending within the 30 or 60 minutes of a soap opera. And it isn't going to happen that way.

Furthermore, it's not a war on terror. Terror is a weapon of choice for extremists who are trying to destabilize regimes and impose their -- in the hands of a small group of clerics, their dark vision on all the people that they can control.

So "war on terror" has a problem for me, and I've worked to try to reduce the extent to which that's used, and increase the extent to which we understand it more as a long war or a struggle or a conflict, not against terrorism but against a relatively small number, but terribly dangerous and lethal, violent extremists. I say "violent extremists" because an extremist that goes off in a closet and is extreme is not bothering people. But an extremist who has those views and insists on imposing them on free people strikes at the very heart of what free people are. They're people who want to be able to get up in the morning and go where they want and say what they want and do what they want, and that is exactly the opposite of the vision of violent extremists.

And the -- I guess the second thing I'd say is that maybe there would be a better way to familiarize and help people better understand the tension that exists between too many or too few troops. The people who argue for more troops often, I think, are thinking World War II, and they're thinking the Weinberger Doctrine, which is valid in a conflict between armies and navies and air forces. The problem with it in the context of a struggle against extremists is that the greater your presence, the more it plays into extremists' lives that you're there to take their oil, that you're there to occupy their nation, that you're there to stay and not leave; that you're basically against Islam as opposed to against extremists, violent extremists. And so there's a tension that people who argue for more, more, more -- as I would be in a conventional conflict -- that they fail to recognize that it can have exactly the opposite effect. It can increase recruiting for extremism, it can increase financing for extremists, it can make more persuasive the lies of the extremists that we're there for their oil or for their water or to take over their countries.

And that tension is -- there's no rule book for it. There's no guide book, there's no map that says to General Casey or General Abizaid what they should recommend to the secretary of Defense and the president as to numbers. The fact of the matter is that it is a fact, whether it happens to fly in the face of the popular media or not, but it is a fact that the level of forces that we have had going into Iraq and every month thereafter, including today, are the number of troops that the commanding generals have recommended. I have not increased them or decreased them over the objections of any general who is in a position of authority with respect to that decision.

Is it the right number? I don't know. Do I have a heck of a lot of confidence in those two folks? Yes. Do I think it's probably right? You bet, or I would have overruled it or made a different recommendation to the president.

But I think they have to walk that line, they have to find that balance so that they do not -- there are two centers of gravity. One is in Iraq and the region, the other is here. The more troops you have, the greater the risk that you will be seen as an occupier and that you will feed an insurgency. The more troops you have, particularly American troops -- who are so darn good at what they do -- the more you have, the more they will do things, and the more dependent the Iraqis will become, and the less independent they will become.

If there is a ditch to be dug, an American does not want to sit down and teach an Iraqi how to dig that ditch. He will -- he'll go dig the dad-burned ditch. It'll be a beautiful ditch. But that is not what the task is. The task is get the Iraqis to dig the ditches. And I use it figuratively, obviously.

So you -- on the one hand, you don't want to feed the insurgency. On the other hand, you don't want to create a dependency. So at some point, you've got to take your hand off the bicycle seat. You get the bicycle running down the middle of the street with your youngster on it, and you're pushing and you're holding it up, and you know if you let go -- you go from a full hand to three fingers to two fingers to one finger, and you know if you let go, they might fall. You also know if you don't let go, you're going to end up with a 40-year-old that can't ride a bike. Now, that's not a happy prospect.

Simultaneously, you have the problem here at home. The more troops you have there, the more force protection you need, the more food you need, the more water you need, the more convoys you need, the more airplanes you need, and the more people get killed, the more targets there are. And if -- part of the center of gravity's back here in the United States, and they constantly see more and more people getting killed, Americans getting killed, and they ask themselves, "Well, where are the victories? Where's the land warfare victory? Where's the sea victory? Where's the air victory? Where's the body count? How many of these people are we killing? How many of these people are we capturing? How do we know if we're winning or losing?" And the more people you put in, the more people you're going to get killed.

MR. THOMAS: Biggest disappointment?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I think is the inability to help the free people of the world understand that this new century and the struggle we're engaged in is real, is terribly dangerous to their safety, and regrettably, it is not going to be as easily seen in terms of pitched battles.

MR. THOMAS: Think it'll take another 9/11 to make people wake up?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, there are people who have written that this administration is the victim of its success and the fact that there hasn't been another attack in the United States.

I remember when I was -- shortly after September 11th, I met with the Sultan of Oman in a tent, and it must have been 150 degrees. We were just perspiring through everything on our bodies, every piece of clothing we had on. And he basically said, you know, this terrible, terrible thing that's happened may be a blessing in disguise, that it may be the thing that will wake up the world to the danger that these extremists pose before those people get their hands on chemical or biological or nuclear weapons and where they could kill many multiples of what they were able to kill on September 11th. This is a man sitting in a tent in a desert with that perspective and that understanding of extremism and the dangers of extremism. And it did for a short while, but that threat then diminished, in their minds, whereas it not only has not diminished in reality, it is growing because of the advances in technologies.

I mean, you look at the Johns Hopkins exercise with smallpox -- called Dark Winter -- put in, I don't know, three airports in America and something between 800,000 and a million people died within a matter of some number of months or a year from a disease that people are no longer vaccinated against.

So I mean, there are these things that can be done. And anyone who -- now, there's a tendency for a lot of people to be dismissive of all of that, and to do it not just once or twice but repeatedly and to ridicule the -- what was the -- Churchill's phrase, "The Gathering Storm" -- there was a storm gathering, but that there were people in Europe who didn't believe it, who didn't take the storm clouds, the periodic storm clouds and the squalls to constitute a real threat. They felt they were transitory, and, of course, paid the penalty, an enormous penalty in treasure, in life in Europe for that failure to understand the nature of that threat. And I worry that we are in a gathering storm and that we do not, as a society, accept it and that many of the -- particularly the elites of our society, the key opinion leaders, if you will, are -- I don't know -- try to find the right word -- are for whatever reason --

MR. THOMAS: Denial?

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- unwilling or unable to accept what an awful lot of people believe to be the case. And, of course, the penalty for being wrong can be enormous. There can be consequences.

No Warrant Searches

American? Worried about your rights? Well, you should be.

After an uptick in city homicides this year, the vast majority of them involving guns, law-enforcement officials have created a task force to try to rid the city of illegal guns.

The unit, funded with $5 million from the state, will hire retired Philadelphia homicide detectives and others to target neighborhoods where gun violence is most pervasive.

Police also plan to ask home owners at times for consent to search their homes without a probable-cause warrant, District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham said Monday.

I wonder if saying "No" will raise eyebrows amongst this private police force (you'll note the searchers are ex-police officers).

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, whose office will oversee the task force, does not plan to include his investigators in the warrantless searches, Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said.

"We'll be taking information gathered from those searches, but we're going to be specifically investigating gun crimes that are already committed," Harley said. The task-force agents will conduct searches only after getting warrants, he said.

Now here's the thing- is refusal to allow a private citizen employed as some sort of mercenary cop to search your home going to be enough to have them issue a warrant for the official agents to do their search? Seems to me that they might be operating on the principle that only those with something to hide could possibly oppose this- after all, if you had an illegal weapon in your home, would you allow this outfit to search your home without a warrant?

Let's see how long it takes for other cities to follow suit. I'm sure the anti-gun brigade thinks that this is just a swell idea.

Hat tip to War On Guns.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Won't Stop The Jihad

Hamas has, yet again, spelled out in no uncertain terms that there can be no lasting peace between them- and by extension the people who elected them- and the state of Israel.

Speaking to thousands of students at the University of Tehran on Friday, Haniyeh said: "The braggart of the world [the United States] and the Zionists ... want us to accept the theft of Palestinian lands, stop the jihad and the resistance and accept the agreements signed with the Zionist enemy. We will never recognize the Zionist government. We will continue the jihad until Jerusalem is liberated."

Can it really be any clearer than that? And yet no one in government seems to be listening- in fact they seem to have their fingers jammed firmly in their ears while loudly shouting "la-la-la".

It really is astonishing that Muslim terrorists can speak for years about their jihad, their motivations and Koranic proofs for doing so, their intentions for the future and their complete disregard for agreements; and it's as if no one in a position of power can heard a single word of it. Not only that, but they'll try to convince others that the jihadis don't actually believe what they're saying, that there is in fact no jihad, that they aren't really motivated by religious teaching but by poverty and land, and that if they can just make some of of agreement everything will turn out fine.

Maybe it's just me but the lunatics seem to be running the asylum these days, I just can't think of any other explanation.

Note too that Hamas states that Iran offers them "strategic depth". Wouldn't that mean that Iran is a nation state supporting a terrorist group? Shouldn't we perhaps do
something about that?

Emboldening The Enemy

As soon as I heard the Iraq Survey Group's proposals I knew that it would serve only to embolden terrorists. Low and behold, they're already gloating about it.

Abu Ayman, senior leader of Islamic Jihad-
"The report proves that this is the era of Islam and of jihad..."(With the Iraq Study Group report), the Americans came to the conclusion that Islam is the new giant of the world and it would be clever to reduce hostilities with this giant. In the Koran the principle of the rotation is clear and according to this principle the end of the Americans and of all non-believers is getting closer."

And then from Abu Abdullah, leader of Hamas' military wing-

"America must understand that with anti-American governments in Latin America and with Islam growing and reinforcing, including in the US itself, the next step would be a total defeat on their (American) land, not a relative one like they are facing in Iraq."

"It is not just a simple victory. It is a great one. The big superpower of the world is defeated by a small group of mujahedeen (fighters). Did you see the mujahedeens' clothes and weapons in comparison to the huge individual military arsenal and supply that was carrying every American soldier?"

So there you have it, in the words of Islamist terrorists themselves- it's not enough that America has been defeated in Iraq (and they haven't even withdrawn a single soldier yet), but it must also be defeated on its own soil. In one fell swoop the ISG has handed Islamist terrorists the victory that they could never possibly hope to gain on their own by merely combating the US military. Before the report has even become policy, the Islamists have accepted the victory it hands them.

Abu Naser of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades joins his jihadist comrades in writing up the Baker Report as a great victory-

"The Iraqi victory is a great message and lesson to the revolutionary and freedom movements in the world. Just to think that this resistance is led by hundreds of Sunni fighters who defeated hundreds of thousands of Americans, British and thousands of soldiers who belong to the puppet regime in Baghdad. What would be the situation if the Shiites will decide to join the resistance?"

Even as the ISG concludes that Israel's destruction is required for peace in the Middle East, although they of course don't use that terminology, the jihadists are preparing to achieve just that aim.

The al-Aqsa leader said his group learned from the "Iraqi resistance" that jihad will ultimately destroy Israel.

ISG, I'd like to introduce you to Neville Chamberlain, you seem to have quite a deal in common.

With Democrats planning on banning profiling and Republican refusal to enforce border security, the United States of America is wide open to attack. And as politicians dither and bluster and waste time on their petty squabbles, their enemy believes they have won a great victory- and that it is now time to move on to the next stage in their war.

Abu Ayman recognises that the ISG report may not be implemented but it doesn't matter any more-

the terror leader said the report shows insurgent actions are working.

"It is the dawn of the real Islam what we are seeing now, young people who are leaving everything in their countries and are coming to fight in Iraq."

Bush may yet reject the recommendations- he'd be a fool not to- but the fact that such a distinguished group has come to the conclusions they did has already done huge harm to the war on terrorism.

Steyn on ISG

It's so very tempting to just cut and paste the entire essay- Mark Steyn's take on the Iraq Survey Group is absolutely spot on.

Oh, but lest you think there are no minimum admission criteria to James Baker's "Support Group," relax, it's a very restricted membership: Arabs, Persians, Chinese commies, French obstructionists, Russian assassination squads. But no Jews. Even though Israel is the only country to be required to make specific concessions -- return the Golan Heights, etc. Indeed, insofar as this document has any novelty value, it's in the Frankenstein-meets-the-Wolfman sense of a boffo convergence of hit franchises: a Vietnam bug-out, but with the Jews as the designated fall guys. Wow. That's what Hollywood would call "high concept."

And this conclusion-

If they're lucky, this document will be tossed in the trash and these men and women will be the laughingstocks of posterity. But, if it's not shredded and we embark down this path, then the Baker group will be emblematic of something far worse. The "Support Group" is a "peace conference," and Baker wants Washington to sue for terms. No wonder Syria is already demanding concessions from America. Which is the superpower and which is the third-rate basket-case state? From the Middle Eastern and European press coverage of the Baker group, it's kinda hard to tell.

Murdered Children

Expect international front page coverage, outraged opinion columns and a condemnation from CAIR!

Gunmen in Gaza City have shot dead the three sons of an intelligence chief linked to the Palestinian party Fatah.

One adult was also killed in the attack which took place in a street crowded with children on their way to school.

The attack happened as children were arriving at nine schools which line Palestine Street in Gaza City's central Rimal district.

The gunmen fired more than 70 bullets at the vehicle in which Mr Balousheh's children, aged between six and 10, were travelling. At least two other children were hurt.

Oh wait, nevermind, it wasn't caused by the Israelis. The as yet unidentified murderers- the BBC calls them "gunmen"- are suspected of having links to Hamas as the children's father led a crackdown on that group some 10 years ago.

If this had been caused by Israeli troops then you would, of course, hear a great deal about their barbaric act against the poor, oppressed Palestinian children. As it seems to have been caused by poor, oppressed Palestinians themselves though, don't expect to hear a peep out of CAIR or their ilk. Murdering children is, after all, familiar activity for Palestinian "gunmen".

The ISG Report and Gates

While catching up at Jihad Watch this weekend I found this article on the nomination of Robert Gates to Secretary of Defense.

Gates’ public statement on Israel's nuclear capability was made in the course of giving what sounded like sympathetic justification for Iran's nuclear program. Iran, he said, "feels threatened" by the nuclear weapons possessed by Pakistan to its east, by Russia to its north, by Israel to its west, and by American forces to its south in the Gulf.

Would he explain away, or justify, the nuclear program of Kim Jong-Il by nothing other than that North Korea is "threatened" by nuclear powers to its north (Russia), to its west (China), to its east and south by the American nuclear submarines and naval fleets in the Sea of Japan and in the North Pacific? Of course not.

Even the slightest hint of thinking in the same way, or providing the same arguments as, the apologists for the nuclear program of the Islamic Republic of Iran -- the apologists such as Ahmadinejad -- is unacceptable.

What Gates said is unacceptable. The Senators should have noted that, and read him the riot act on that.

There's more and it's worth reading. I've become somewhat concerned about the direction the world has taken since the recent US election- the ISG is advocating surrender, alignment with Iran and Syria and throwing Israel to the wolves; Hezbollah seem to be making their move in Lebanon; Syria is making noises about the Golan Heights; Iranian armaments are turning up in the hands of Palestinian terrorists; the Islamic Courts continue their unimpeded takeover of Somalia; the genocide continues in Sudan; the Taliban battle on in Afghanistan; the lone voice of sanity in the UN, John Bolton, has resigned- and through it all, Bush and the Republican Party seem to have just given up.

Despite the stunning military victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, the lingering terrorism problem has been twisted by the mass media into a daily deluge of propaganda against victory. It seems that politicians are once more on the verge of foisting a defeat on an American military which remains undefeated in actual combat. Gone are the days when the Bush administration stressed time and again- better to fight them over there rather than over here. Instead, we have the dreary defeatist talk of the ISG. And with that preposterous report the wind seems to have gone out of the sails of those who realise that a retreat in Iraq- under whatever name- will leave the citizens of that country entirely at the mercy of bloodthirsty barbarians and embolden an entire generation against the "weak" USA.

One can see that in the solemn debates over the Iraq Study Group, in which no one in Washington dares to question the definition of "winning" when, for example, Robert Gates says "no, Senator, we are not winning." Not a soul asks: Perhaps we won? Perhaps we have permitted, with the removal of Saddam Hussein, the setting in motion of events that will inevitably divide and demoralize the camp of Islam and Jihad? Perhaps what you, Mr. Gates, and all these others call "catastrophe" in Iraq is no catastrophe at all, but a means to preoccupy Sunni and Shi'a alike, to cause them to squander men, money, materiel, against one another rather than against us? It may even lead, perhaps, if the Shi'a win, to the Saudis begging us to protect them, as they wanted us to during the First Gulf War. And this time, we may -- but only if they pay us, say, a few hundred billion (for a start), and if furthermore they agree to stop all funding of mosques, madrasas, armies of Western hirelings, including those at academic centers that are Saudi-funded, and CAIR-like groups all over the Western world.

That may be a "catastrophe" for Robert Gates and the Bush Administration, and the stolid Board-Members (just the kind of solid, dull people corporations like to have on their boards, and that's what they are: they are Board Members) whom James Baker rounded up for his ludicrous committee with its comical and worthless suggestions.

But it will only take one or two political figures who begin to tell, even obliquely, the truth. It need not necessarily be someone currently running for President. But it has to be someone.

The question remains however- will any major political figure in the USA ridicule a report which argues that we need to ask the help of a nation currently sending arms straight from the factory floor to the hands of terrorists for their help in suing for peace? A nation whose leaders regularly chant "Death to America" during government sessions? Does anyone remain in Washington with the nerve to put the future safety of America ahead of current media-generated anti-war apathy?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Arming Judges

A report on judges carrying guns in the courtroom- and efforts to enable more of them to do so legally.

Money quote for me was this-

"Judges in our courthouse have been carrying guns almost all the time," said Cynthia Stevens Kent, a Texas judge in the 114th District Court, where a man in a family law case killed his ex-wife and son last year on the steps of a Tyler courthouse.

"We feel strongly about providing adequate security, but it comes down to personal responsibility. And you've got to take responsibility for your own safety," Kent said.

Personal responsibility- exactly! And yet they’re only trying to allow judges to carry guns in court. What about the personal responsibility of jurors and others attending court? I guess they aren't considered to be members of the privileged classes.

Hot Fuzz

Really, really looking forward to seeing this. The new movie from Simon Pegg of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead - Hot Fuzz.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Terrorists Welcome ISG Report

Well, who would have thought it? The Iraq Study Group advocates retreat, surrender and appeasement and the "insurgents" in Iraq think it's a great idea.

Insurgents and militias in Iraq on Thursday welcomed the recommendations made in a report by the Iraq Study Group that indicated that US policy in Iraq was not working and that its troops should be pulled out earlier than current projections suggest.

And if that isn't reason enough to reject the ISG's findings altogether I don't know what is.

"The withdrawal of US troops from Iraq has been one of our foremost demands since 2004. The presence of foreign troops in our country is the reason why we continue to fight, resulting in the killing of thousands of Iraqis," said Abu Baker, a member of Sunni insurgent group Jeyshi Muhammad (Muhammad's Army) who declined to give his full name.

Abu may have neglected to give his last name but Reuters' source here sure seem friendly enough with him- enough so that they know he's a terrorist. Perhaps they also have a contact number or address they could pass on to the American troops in Iraq?

For his part, Abu knows all to well the talking points he's supposed to put across-

"The occupation in Iraq is unacceptable to every Muslim fighter group and the Iraqi resistance believes that the country can only be governed by Iraqis without interference by US soldiers or politicians," Abu Baker said."This report just makes us stronger in our beliefs and reinforces our view that the best choice to be taken by the United States is to leave Iraq soon," he added.

Of course, if America just tucks its tail between its legs and runs away everything will be just hunky-dory!

Al-Qa'eda representatives in Iraq have long called for US troops to leave the country and see their continued presence as a direct cause of the increasing bloodshed there. "No Muslim country should close their eyes over this occupation that is destroying the country. The occupation is not popular with us Iraqis and that is why you can see an increase in the numbers of Iraqis who have turned into fighters against the US occupation," said Abu Ahmed, who claimed to be a member of al-Qa'eda in Iraq and declined to give his full name.

Reuters' buddies sure does seem to know a lot of terrorists willing to chat to them- funny that they aren't on last name terms though. They sure do seem to be pretty friendly. Abu number two doesn't seem to be quite so media savvy though-

He warned that the departure of US troops is not enough and said members of the Iraqi government and parliament who are pro-US should quit their positions "to clean the government of US ideology".

In other words, once America is gone we have to overthrow the US-created government and, say, install a Sharia-compliant, terrorist friendly one instead. Yep, America pulling out of Iraq will lead to a new golden age of peace just like the one the Islamist courts are creating in Somalia...

Democrats and Hamas

If this is true then I expect heads to roll- Hamas are after all a designated terrorist group. For members of the Democrats to actually be involved in talks with them smacks of treason to me. It remains to be seen if the report will turn out to be confirmed or not- but I sincerely hope that someone in law enforcement or anti-terrorism in America is investigating this claim.

Hamas met with a delegation of "important Democrats" who expressed interest in relations with the Palestinian terror group even if it doesn't recognize the right of Israel to exist, a Palestinian news website claimed today.

Maanews quoted a source in the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority stating the terror group felt it important to meet with members of the Democratic Party since, the Hamas source said, the party will likely win 2008 presidential elections.

Stacie Paxton, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, told WND the party was not aware of any meeting.

Just to be clear, these are the people the Democrats are accused of meeting with-

Signaling a change in tactics, Hamas' military wing on Wednesday called on Muslims around the world to attack American targets after an apparent misfiring of an IDF artillery shell in the Gaza Strip.

"America is offering political, financial and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre. Therefore, the people and the nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons," Hamas said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

In other words, Democrats may be in talks with a group not only responsible for mass murder of innocent Israeli civilians but one which has also effectively declared war on America. And as Daniel Pipes has noted, Hamas has already infiltrated mainland USA- and they have the potential to switch tactics rapidly in order to commit acts of terrorism there.

In August 2004, a longtime Hamas money-man, Ismail Selim Elbarasse, was arrested for videotaping the details of Maryland's Bay Bridge. This "set off alarms among U.S. counterterrorism investigators," the Baltimore Sun reported. They treated the incident as a Hamas reconnaissance of the bridge and "as a potential link between Hamas and Al Qaeda." In court papers, authorities alleged that the images Elbarasse's shot of the bridge included close-ups of features "integral to the structural integrity of the bridge."

Only a few years ago I would have dismissed out of hand claims that Democrats would meet with a bloodthirsty terrorist group. Right now, I don't know what to make if this- but given their rhetoric, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

America Surrenders?

At least, that's what the Iraq Study Group intends. Their great plan is to reduce US combat forces to little more than advisor status and to "engage" with Syria and Iran. Somehow images of Chamberlin holding that piece of paper aloft seem to fill my mind when i consider this as a tactic for success in Iraq. In essence though what we have is this- a plan to draw down troop strength rapidly in Iraq and prove Bin Laden's theory that the USA is a paper tiger that will fold when the going gets tough-

Bin Laden summed up his perception of Americans in an interview with ABC News reporter John Miller, published in Esquire in 1998: “After leaving Afghanistan, the Muslim fighters headed for Somalia and prepared for a long battle thinking that the Americans were like the Russians. The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized, more than before, that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows……would run in defeat.”

It seems Bin Laden only one got salient point wrong- it's not the American soldier who is the paper tiger, it's the American politician. And despite the military victories of the American soldiers and Marines in Iraq, it seems that US policy is now going to be retreat, though I'm sure it won't be couched in those terms. Whatever language is used, the enemies of the United States will know one thing- they have secured a victory. They know now beyond a shadow of a doubt that the USA does not possess the strength of will to wage a long term conflict where terrorists can utilise propaganda to maximum effect. They know now that they do not have to engage with American forces to defeat them; all they need is a steady diet of high-profile carnage for the Western press to lap up. Avoid all those armed, armoured, professional soldiers and murder innocent civilians instead. Safer for them and, it seems, much more effective in defeated their actual opponent. Who knew that it was so easy to defeat the world's major superpower, without even winning a single battle in the war?

Bin Laden bet on it, and now the ISG is backing him up. I don't know what the best solution is for Iraq but one thing is for sure; leaving now before the US's stated aims are achieved means only one thing- an emboldened enemy, an enemy who is as bloodthirsty and vicious as any history has conjured. An enemy who now believes that America is not strong enough to stand against him.

God help us all.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Raid Killing

Another unarmed person shot by police during a raid- the man in question was accused of knocking a guy over and stealing a couple of Playstations from him. Police raided the house and he was shot dead- even though he was unarmed.

What’s interesting about the piece is that in one paragraph they say this-

"If this boy would've come to the door, opened the door, we probably wouldn't be talking," the sheriff said Sunday.

While in the very next we get this-

Roommate Mike Rhoton said Strickland was unarmed, but may have been holding a video game controller when he went to the door as it was bashed in by officers.

So he was on the way to open the door when police smashed it in and burst into the house- complete with a “special police unit who went to help university officers serve warrants.” And yet the Sheriff insists that it's his own fault for not answering the door. Was there really a need to smash into a house like this over a couple of stolen Playstations? Was the suspect a flight risk who may have used the ill-gotten gains to run to another country? Or could the police have grabbed the college student at any time they wanted to- in fact, brought him in for questioning over his part in an alleged crime. Or do the police now have the right to assume everyone is guilty first and to use any tactics, no matter how dangerous, to arrest that person?

Yeah, the guy was an alleged criminal who shouldn't have committed the crime in the first place, but we really have to start questioning the tactics of the police- if even a minor robbery results in a house raid by a special police unit resulting in a shooting then something is amiss. Sure, these cops might have been fearful of the suspect having a gun- but they could easily have avoided putting themselves in that situation in the first place.

They also shot his dog. No word on whether or not this one was tied up at the time.

UPDATE- A commenter at War on Guns points to an article which outlines the dead man's criminal past- a couple of cases of using his fists and the police record of a stolen firearm (belonging to his room-mate). In other words, the police seem to have opted for a "dynamic entry" based on the fact that the student in question liked to use his fists- and because they may have suspected that there might have been weapon somewhere in the house- oh, and let's not forget the heinous crime of being too noisy, though it's not clear whether or not the dead man was involved; it was his housemate who got busted for that.

So, if you happen to be a gun-owner- or someone in your building is- and the police know that, they may decide to use dynamic entry tactics to arrest you for even a minor crime. And from the evidence available at the moment, you'd better not tarry on the way to answer the door either. Seems that if you don't get there straight away, with nothing in your hands that could be construed as being a gun by tense cops rushing into an unknown environment, there could be consequences. And, at least according to this Sheriff, it'll be
your fault.

UPDATE 2 - It now appears that the dead man might have been shot through the door by police. And get this- police saw some photos of a friend of him on the internet posing with a gun- and that apparently was the reason they opted for such confrontational tactics. No word yet on how they found those photos or linked the friend to the man they killed. Do you know someone who is a gun owner? Even though you may not own a gun, like guns or even support the 2nd Amendment, it now seems that any association with firearms is now enough for the police to assume that you might be armed.

And we all know what the cops appear to think of gun owners- they're potential cop killers and drastic steps must be taken to prevent
that happening.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Anti-Education Killings

Brutally, terribly murdered for doing nothing more than being a teacher- for teaching girls.

The gunmen came at night to drag Mohammed Halim away from his home, in front of his crying children and his wife begging for mercy.

The 46-year-old schoolteacher tried to reassure his family that he would return safely.

But his life was over.

He was partly disembowelled and then torn apart with his arms and legs tied to motorbikes. The remains were put on display as a warning to others against defying Taleban orders to stop educating girls.

Disembowelled and then ripped limb from limb. An educator, girls going to school, vicious fascistic thugs. Where are the liberals now who claim to champion freedom? Where are the teacher's unions offering their support for the mission in Afghanistan? Where are the feminists?

All seem to be silent, content to do nothing more than complain about the freely elected leaders of the United States- and not the Dark Ages zealots who brutally murder people for being teachers of girls.

What has happened?

And it's not just in Afghanistan- Islamist butchers are murdering teachers in Thailand too-

Thailand will close all 944 public schools indefinitely in the country's restive Muslim-majority south after a string of arsons and shootings that left two teachers dead, an official said Monday.

The school closure was due to a wave of arson attacks against school buildings, as well as shootings that killed two Buddhist school teachers last week.

In Pattani, suspected Islamic militants gunned down a 48-year-old school director inside his parked car then set fire to the bullet-riddled vehicle, the federation said. The victim was the 60th teacher killed during three years of unrest in the south, where more than 1,600 people have been killed in the almost daily violence since January 2004.

Where's the liberal outrage? Where's the front page press coverage of these crimes?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Cost of Illegal Immigration

If these statistics are correct (and it seems telling that the federal government doesn't even try to track illegal alien crime) then they are shocking- I guess all those Democrats and others who object to the loss of life in Iraq will now begin campaigning to have illegal immigrants expelled from America and the borders secured?

While the military "quagmire" in Iraq was said to tip the scales of power in the U.S. midterm elections, most Americans have no idea more of their fellow citizens – men, women and children – were murdered this year by illegal aliens than the combined death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since those military campaigns began.

Twelve Americans are murdered every day by illegal aliens, according to statistics released by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. If those numbers are correct, it translates to 4,380 Americans murdered annually by illegal aliens. That's 21,900 since Sept. 11, 2001.

Total U.S. troop deaths in Iraq as of last week were reported at 2,863. Total U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan during the five years of the Afghan campaign are currently at 289, according to the Department of Defense.

But the carnage wrought by illegal alien murderers represents only a fraction of the pool of blood spilled by American citizens as a result of an open border and un-enforced immigration laws.

While King reports 12 Americans are murdered daily by illegal aliens, he says 13 are killed by drunk illegal alien drivers – for another annual death toll of 4,745. That's 23,725 since Sept. 11, 2001.

King also reports eight American children are victims of sexual abuse by illegal aliens every day – a total of 2,920 annually.

Based on a one-year in-depth study, Deborah Schurman-Kauflin of the Violent Crimes Institute of Atlanta estimates there are about 240,000 illegal immigrant sex offenders in the United States who have had an average of four victims each. She analyzed 1,500 cases from January 1999 through April 2006 that included serial rapes, serial murders, sexual homicides and child molestation committed by illegal immigrants.

Yet again- when is Bush or Congress going to do something about securing their borders?

And think on about how these figures might suddenly spike upwards if terrorists are amongst the thousands sneaking illegally into the USA.

The Only Ones Get More Privileges

Just what on earth is going on?

SB 647, introduced by Sen. Alan Sanborn, R-Richmond Township, could prevent the public from ever finding out about acts of abuse by police officers.

The bill would apply not only to officers for municipal police departments and county sheriff's departments, but also to law enforcers for airport authorities, and community colleges and public universities.

Why the hell does an elected representative of the people think that he needs to introduce legislation that prevents the public from finding out about the wrongdoing of public servants?

The so-called Garrity legislation would restrict the use and disclosure of "involuntary statements" made by law enforcement officers in response to questions by their agencies if the officer were ordered to answer under threat of dismissal or other penalty.

The only way such statements could be disclosed by the agency for which the officer worked is if the officer gave permission in writing.

The statement could be released to a prosecuting attorney or attorney general, but only in response to a search warrant, subpoena or court order.

However, those attorneys would be forbidden from disclosing the statement to the public.

Illegal acts by officers, under this legislation, might never be made public.

And this benefits the public in what way exactly?

Even if an officer committed an illegal act or abuse of power and were terminated, the police department he or she worked for could never reveal to the public the cause for dismissal without the officer's written permission.

A victim of alleged police abuse would never be allowed to view the implicated officer's statement about the incident.

The bill would allow a "bad apple" to resign and be hired by another police agency without that agency ever knowing that the officer was implicated in abuse or an illegal act.

Essentially, the bill would allow an employee paid by the public to hide potential illegal acts from the public, and make his or her agency - including police departments - comply in such cover-ups.

The "Only Ones"- cementing their privileged status over the common folk of America.

Big hat tip to War On Guns.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Moderate Speaks

It seems that a sighting has been made of that exceeding common, majority figure- the moderate Muslim. Just such a man wrote a letter for a local newspaper. What was the reaction do you suppose? A massive yawn maybe? Moderate Muslims are supposed to be the vast majority of a religion which again and again we are told is peaceful- despite all the evidence to the contrary (terrorist acts, terrorist explanations of their acts, and the very texts of the religion which exhort followers to war and violence against unbelievers).

Anyway, a moderate Muslim writes a letter- hardly newsworthy you might think. Well, it wouldn't have been only he has since been kicked out of his mosque and threatened by violence by other members of the Muslim community. I guess the religion of peace memo is being directed at the wrong people- all those Islamophobes need to stop being targeted and the memo sent to Muslims instead it would seem.

Unfortunately, the text of his article is no longer available at Tulsa World- the page has apparently expired, but he apparently condemned Al Qaeda and also called on Muslims to reject terrorism. If you watch the video link at LGF you'll hear the man in question say that he was told "
You can't say bad things about Muslims in front of unbelievers". Is that why we're not seeing a mass movement of this majority of moderates to denounce terrorism- because they think it'll look bad to all us infidels? If so, it's a pretty lousy excuse- and it's very telling of their attitude to non-believers. Note too at the end of the report that he will be allowed to go back to the mosque if he apologises. For what? Denouncing Al Qaeda or asking Muslims not to commit terrorist acts?

If this is the way moderates are treated then it's little wonder that we don't hear them. Expect CAIR to launch into action any moment now to defend this man and to promote his message.

Any second now.


Israel's leader Olmert seems to have completely lost the plot- from failing to recover the kidnapped soldiers, failing to respond to a broken ceasefire to this-

Israel is prepared to release many jailed Palestinians, including long-serving prisoners, in return for a soldier militants seized in June, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday.

I can't understand it- time and again it's been proven that succumbing to terrorist bullying and intimidation will do nothing more than cause even more bullying and intimidation. If these prisoners are released then the terrorists know that the next time they want to spring someone from prison all they need to do is snatch another hostage. LGF ponders whether or not Olmert has some sort of masterplan at work- if he does, he's taking his time revealing it. The Lebanon incursion failed to accomplish anything other than the installation of a UN bodyguard force for Hezbollah- is Olmert really the sort of man to deal with terrorists over a massive prisoner release? Does he understand that his willingness to negotiate is seen as nothing more than weakness by people intent on completely destroying Israel?

As Iran strengthens its hand in the region and the enemies of Israel are offered a respite to rearm and regroup by the UN force in Lebanon and the ceasefire in Gaza, Israel is seemingly becoming weaker and weaker. Perhaps it's the decades long grind of "world opinion" about their attempts to stop their hostile neighbours from annihilating them, perhaps it's ennui at the constant war for survival. Whatever the reason, the leaders of that nation need to keep in mind that their good will and desire for a peaceful life is not reciprocated.

Police Shooting

Remember the police raid that ended with the shooting of an elderly women when she fired on what she presumably thought were intruders? After the incident the cops denied that they'd hit the wrong house and that instead insisted they had evidence of drug sales taking place there. Well, War on Guns is keeping abreast of the story. Here's the latest-

Now, Chief Pennington confirmed there are questions as to whether there was ever a drug buy at Kathryn Johnston’s home – the informant told the Internal Affairs Unit he was told to lie.

Stay tuned.

Sexual Discrimination

It seems that a certain police test- specifically the assault course part of it- has been deemed to be too difficult for female recruits to pass. The action taken? Well, you might think that they would overhaul the training program. Most of the women either couldn't get over the wall at all, or were so exhausted after scaling it that they couldn't complete the course. It sounds to me that fitter and stronger cadets were what was required. Police work after all can be physically demanding and surely requires some strength and stamina.

This being the PC 21st century it seems that such a change to training wasn't even considered- when female recruits complained about the wall a process was immediately set into action to change the test. It baffles me- it really does; can the decision makers not see that by lowering the requirements they might be putting women officers at risk when they are out on the street and faced by dangerous criminals?

The state review of the test led to a recent change in the wall. It now has two braces providing for foot leverage, making it easier to scale. A spokesman for the state administration said the wall is now a more realistic reflection of actual police work, because it is made more like a fence, something officers are more likely to encounter in their work settings.

Walls being so rare and all. I really am stumped- a wall is considered so difficult to climb by women only that it must be changed so that they can do it- instead of a real obstacle now, the women recruits are faced by the demanding challenge of traversing what's essentially a small ladder.

Boston police even endorsed the test after seeing 68 percent of their female recruits in a recent class pass.

I'm amazed- you make a test so easy that virtually anyone can pass and then pronounce it a success? Are these female police officers up to the same standard as the male ones- evidently not, if they don't possess the same strength that a fairly simple test required.

But, I hear you cry, scaling a wall in an obstacle course isn't easy- what was it, six, eight feet high? No, the wall that was exhausting women on the course so much that they couldn't continue was a mere five feet high; less I'm sure than the recruits themselves. If they aren't fit enough to run, jump, heave and roll over that, then I'm not really confident of their ability to perform their duties. But I guess something like that isn't as important as glossing over the inadequacies of a training program that doesn't prepare cadets to traverse an obstacle that's smaller than they are.

Best Song of the Past Two Decades

Another list. Well, this one is actually not too bad- my main complaint is the inclusion of songs from 2006. They might seem good and catchy now but is that going to hold in a year or even five? And to be perfectly honest, I've never even heard the Arctic Monkey's I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor (update- I checked it out on YouTube and I'm completely underwhelmed- not a good selection). I can't even begin to think of individual tracks from the past two decades so there's not a whole lot to argue with right now. Good to see Unfinished Sympathy up there though. Of the whole lost there are only a few songs I don't like at all- Oasis and Eminem. And Bittersweet Symphony isn't even close to Verve's best work- they did that before being forced to add "The" to their name in my opinion. And Brimful of Asha is an odd one- catchy, yes, but only because of Norman Cook's remix- and it's not close to his best work either. I'd swap that one for Praise You, Weapon of Choice or I See You Baby.

And where's Radiohead? They routinely pop up on best album lists- and yet not a single track is listed here. Creep or No Surprises could easily slot into, say, the number six slot.

Here it is-

1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Nirvana, 1991

2. "Hey Ya!" OutKast, 2003

3. "Sweet Child O' Mine" Guns N' Roses, 1987

4. "Unfinished Symphony" Massive Attack, 1991

5. "One" U2, 1991

6. "Live Forever" Oasis, 1994

7. "Bitter Sweet Symphony" The Verve, 1997

8. "Common People" Pulp, 1995

9. "There She Goes" The LA's, 1990

10. "7 Nation Army" The White Stripes, 2003

11. "Song 2" Blur, 1997

12. "Crazy" Gnarls Barkley, 2006

13. "Angels" Robbie Williams, 1997

14. " … Baby One More Time" Britney Spears, 1999

15. "Personal Jesus" Depeche Mode, 1990

16. "Like A Prayer" Madonna, 1989

17. "Firestarter" The Prodigy, 1997

18. "Brimful of Asha" Cornershop, 1997

19. "Stan" Eminem, 2000

20. "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" Arctic Monkeys, 2006

What's That Noise?

I always wondered as I got older what it would be like to lose touch with what's happening in the music scene. I was prepared to not be a John Peel, who promoted some cutting edge music until his untimely death; frankly, even when I listened to his show as a teenager I could tell that I was several steps back from truly cutting edge. To my young ears Napalm Death was just noise, although now and then I could see the appeal. Anyway, over the past couple of years, since I hit thirty I think, I've noticed myself going back to the music I liked in my early twenties and late teens- a lot of material from the Ninja Tune label for example or ambient music by the likes of Biosphere. I still get a big kick out of discovering a band or artist I've never heard before. I guess the most recent example of that would be Smog.

Anyway, I was browsing late last night and it hit me square in the face like a punch from Ivan Drago- I'm old and new music fads are beyond me. Way, far beyond me. So far gone that they've got red shift. And, surprisingly, it doesn't bother me. I'm quite happy to live in a world where 15-stone lesbian activists who shout punk rock are not considered to be "rock goddesses" or the "coolest person in rock".

Have times really changed so much?

Anyway, in honour of my getting to the "what's that terrible noise?" stage here's a soothing little tune by Smog, I Feel Like The Mother Of The World.