Friday, June 29, 2007

Gitmo Recidivist

This is what happens when enemy combatants are released from their POW camps before the conflict is over.

A man formerly held in the U.S. facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was killed Wednesday in a shootout with security agents in a restive North Caucasus republic, Russia’s top security agency said.

Ruslan Odizhev was killed amid gunfire that erupted when agents tried to arrest him and another man in Kabardino-Balkariya, a region near Chechnya that is plagued by violence linked both to crime and to religious tensions, the Federal Security Service said in a statement.

Will the lesson be learned? I doubt it somehow.

Rice Wrong

It seems like such a long time ago that conservatives actually praised anything Condi Rice did. How did it all go wrong?

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice twice referred to Hamas as a "resistance movement" during a meeting with reporters from the New York Daily News earlier this month, but the newspaper did not report her remarks, WND has learned.

And it was no casual "slip of the tongue" either.

Rice's statements mark the second documented time in recent months she called Hamas a "resistance movement" during unscripted chats with journalists.

Perhaps she's just been spending too much time at the State Department?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Clueless in Washington

This is an exchange that everyone should listen to- Voinovich is entirely ignorant of the Amnesty Bill's content and implications should the bill be passed into law. If the rest of Washington is similarly clueless it might explain why they support a bill that's so loathed- and why they don't comprehend why so many people are appalled at the idea of it.

Hannity excels at pointing out Voinovich's utter and quite stunning empty-headed understanding of the bill. It's quite frightening to think that someone who doesn't even know what the Fairness Doctrine is (but who supports it nevertheless) or even know what amendments are in the bill he supports is a US Senator. How a politician can in good conscience favour a bill that he's only read summaries of- and from his performance here I'd venture to guess that someone has summarised the summaries for him- is beyond me. Don't they understand that the fate of an entire nation is in their hands?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Flight of Fantasy

A bit of a change of pace today- sure the artist is still Adam Hughes but this time the subject matter is Obi-Wan Kenobi.

No Pointing!

The "Only Ones" continue to lord it over the serfs.

Miller says it started when he and his wife saw someone feeding the ducks. They asked the woman to stop, but she ignored them. When she finally replied, Miller says she told him "I’m a police officer, I can do what I want.”

The woman was Manatee County Sheriff's Deputy Kym Bennett. Bennett and Miller argued for a few minutes about the ducks, and about whether deputy Bennett was trespassing on the property since she didn't live in the condos there.

Seems that Miller and his wife have a big problem with duck droppings where they live and were none too pleased that someone was feeding them.

Miller says his wife decided to call the Bradenton Police department to ask them for a legal opinion on what they could do about the situation. But when police arrived, Miller was in for a surprise.

Deputy Bennett told police that Miller had been aggressive, and had pointed his finger at her. Bennet pressed assault charges.

Miller was arrested and taken to jail.

For having the temerity to point his finger and question an off-duty cop about what they were doing! Evidently he doesn't know his place.

ABC 7 spoke with an attorney about this case. Mark Lipinski told us "I've never seen a case like this, don't know anybody who's seen a case like this. I've asked all the attorneys in the area, they've never heard of anything like this."

Lipinski says he understands why Miller is crying foul. He says, "next time you want to shake your finger at somebody, you better think twice."

Yep, you just might be up against one of the Only Ones rather than just a regular citizen.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hypocrisy

This is absolutely unbelievable- the House has voted to stop sending aid to Saudi Arabia because of that nation's religious intolerance and because of terrorist funding coming from there. In previous years the Bush administration has "circumvented" prior attempts to stop the "aid". Seems they're trying to get around this one too.

There are several problems arising from this- first of all, why the heck does the USA need to send aid money to Saudi? Do they not get enough cash selling oil to the entire world? Have they suffered some humanitarian crisis that they need help with? In 2005 and 2006 the US gave $2.5million of taxpayer's money to Saudi Arabia. Think about that for a moment- a nation that has made billions of dollars from its oil reserves is receiving money taken from the pockets of the American people. In 2006 the GDP of Saudi was more than $275 billion dollars- so much cash that the government posts budget surpluses. So, what is this money that the Bush administration is so eager to give? Seems to be nothing more than the jizya.

By the way, it's interesting to note that the CIA factbook declares that Saudi Arabia is 100% Muslim. There isn't a single person of another religion in the entire country.

The second problem is that while Washington wants to stop sending money to Saudi because some in that nation may be financing terrorism, they are continuing to send money to support an actual terrorist organisation themselves- Fatah. Why aren't we seeing bills passed demanding the stopping of millions more dollars than Saudi will ever see going to real, live terrorists? Why isn't there an uproar in the House and Senate about the US not only providing money but also weapons and training to terrorists engaged in a war with one of America's closest allies? A group that had openly declared that they hate America more than Al Qaeda does. A group that has openly declared their intent to attack America? These are the very people Bush thinks it's a good idea to give their support to. These are the people currently receiving your tax dollars, American readers.

Labour Lord Supports 9/11 Bombers

Since when does a Labour peer refer to the 9/11 mass murderers as "martyrs"? And why does no-one seem to be particularly concerned? Sure he compares them to Salman Rushdie but that doesn't seem to be trhe issue to me- the real story here is that he didn't call them low-life scumbags, SOBs or even simply "bombers"; he specifically used the term martyr.

Interviewed in Le Figaro newspaper in France, the Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham added fuel to the row when he hit out at Mr Rushdie.

Yada, yada, yada...

“Two weeks ago Tony Blair spoke about constructing bridges with Muslims. What hypocrisy.

“What would one say if the Saudi or Afghan governments honoured the martyrs of the September 11 attacks on the United States?

By referring to those despicable b*stards as "martyrs" he evidently believes they went to paradise for murdering 3,000 innocent people. In short he believes that their mass murder was an act of martyrdom.

Can we have him stripped of his title and booted out of the government today please?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ron Paul Wrong

LGF notes that Ron Paul voted against the resolution calling on the UN to sanction Ahmadinejad for his threats against Israel.

What's this guy's problem? Does he support a nation currently engaged in the killing of US servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan (by supplying, at the very least, armaments) threatening to destroy a long-time US ally?

Bark River Aurora

I've been learning a little more about knives lately and have added a few pieces to my meagre and amateurish collection. I have a few more professional items on my list of "must haves" which I'm hoping to purchase shortly. One of these is the Bark River Aurora.

It's billed as a bushcraft knife, a fairly straight-forward looking design but one that could manage most of the activities required outdoors, whether camping or a "lost in the wilderness" situation. Unlike the Tom Brown Tracker or the more famous Rambo knives, the Aurora has very simple but rather elegant lines. It's interesting to note the various designs around for a survival or bushcraft knife: Ray Mears has one, Lofty Wiseman (author of The SAS Survival Manual), the aforementioned Tom Brown, the Jimmy Lile-designed Rambo knife (perfected in the one-piece Chris Reeve line), even Bear Grylls has a knife out now.

Anyway, here's an example of the Aurora fitted out with the black elm grips. A thing of beauty.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bush's New Buddy

The Republican administration seems to be intent on erasing any and all support that it currently has. Not only are they opposing their base with the immigration amnesty, they are now offering their direct support to a terrorist organisation.

Amid growing discontent in Israel, the United States announced over the weekend that it plans to continue financing and training military forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, despite Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip.

That would be Fatah aka The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the terrorist group that continues to carry out attacks against Israel. I wonder how the US would react if one of their strongest allies started offering money, arms and training to terrorists who were active against the USA? Bush et al seem to be under the impression that Abbas is some sort of moderate they can do business with. As ZOA demonstrate, they are sadly mistaken.

“We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation ... Our rifles, all our rifles are aimed at The Occupation”

Read it all. This is the man that Bush is funding with US taxpayer's money.

Separate Rules

LGF nails it- had Israelis been responsible for the deaths of peace demonstrators you can be sure we'd be hearing about it on the evening news. As the perpetrators were Hamas however, it seems the policy is "best not to mention it too much".

Before noon, two civilians were killed during a protest held in Gaza City under the banner “Stop the Killing.” Some 1,000 Palestinians marched in the city, calling for an end to the fighting, but when they approached a Hamas position, militants fired at the protesters, killing two.

You know, now that I think about it, I can't ever remember hearing about peace demonstrators in Gaza calling for an end to the killing when the victims were Israeli citizens.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Looting Arafat

There's a kind of poetic justice to it: for years Arafat and his cronies got rich off international aid that poured into the PA- and now the locals have claimed some of their share of the riches.

Enraged Fatah leaders on Saturday accused Hamas militiamen of looting the home of former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat in Gaza City.“They stole almost everything inside the house, including Arafat’s Nobel Peace Prize medal,” said Ramallah-based Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman.

But it wasn't just Hamas that "redistributed" the wealth.

Eyewitnesses told The Jerusalem Post that dozens of Palestinians participated in the raid, which took place late Friday.

“Most of the looters were just ordinary citizens,” they said. “They stole almost everything, including furniture, tiles, water pipes, closets and beds.”

Just getting what was intended for them in the first place?

Contradicting Reports

Only days ago we heard this-

Dismissing claims that Hizbullah has returned to its former strength in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview on Thursday that the guerrilla group was practically non-existent south of the Litani River and that if the peacekeeping mission continued, the threat of war would be completely removed within three years.

And with perfect comic timing comes this news-

In an incident described as the first of its kind, Hezbollah gunmen surrounded a Lebanese police patrol Friday and held them for "entering a Hezbollah security zone."

Lebanese political and security sources told CNN that three Lebanese internal security policemen in a clearly marked vehicle were on a routine patrol in a southern suburb of Beirut when they were intercepted and encircled by gunmen from Hezbollah.

And the icing on the cake-

Hezbollah fighters have operated in the past with almost total autonomy in southern Lebanon but not in Beirut and its suburbs.

I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps we might have to take Graziano's words with a grain of salt?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hamas' M16s

That Palestinian state in Gaza is really working out well, isn't it?

"This is the first step in the establishment of the Islamic state," a Hamas member told Ynet from inside the Preventive Security Service building. "This is Islam's victory, Allah's victory, and we pray to Allah for brining us this victory."

All that money and arms that Congress sent to Fatah? Well, obviously it didn't serve its purpose in any way, Hamas was able to steamroller right over the top of Fatah. And now all those US arms are now in the hands of a gang of genocidal terrorists sworn to destroy one of America's staunchest allies. If only someone could have possibly predicted that arming one group of America-hating terrorists battling another was a bad idea...

Hamas has captured thousands of assault rifles and scores of combat vehicles financed by the United States and supplied by Egypt and Jordan to the Palestinian Authority.

The Islamic movement acquired the weapons, ammunition and vehicles during Hamas’s capture of security installations in the Gaza Strip aligned with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. For the most part, Fatah-aligned PA officers fled the Hamas assaults.

“I would say that they have most of the weapons and armored vehicles sent by Egypt and Jordan over the last year,” a PA security officer said.

The officer said Hamas seized thousands of U.S.-origin M-16 and Soviet-origin AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles as well as military radios. He said other booty captured by Hamas included trucks, mortars and hand grenades.

Odd that Congress bickers and fights very publicly over funding US troops battling murderous terrorists but they have no problem whatsoever in handing over arms, money and training to murderous terrorists themselves.

The BBC Lies

The BBC denies reality-

The BBC apologized this week for referring to Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and promised not to repeat "the mistake," following a complaint by four British organizations.

Arab Media Watch, Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Al-Aksa and the Institute of Islamic Political Thought sent a joint complaint to the BBC after a presenter on its Football Focus program on March 24 mentioned that Jerusalem was Israel's capital and "historic soul."

Disgraceful. The Institute of Islamic Political Thought is run by Azzam Tamimi-

Tamimi told BBC in an interview in 2004 he did not recognize Israel's right to exist and would be willing to become a suicide bomber.

So this is who the BBC panders to.

Justice?

Two stories from either side of the Atlantic that illuminate what's wrong with our respective justice systems.

First the UK-

Barot, a Muslim convert, was considered by some U.S. officials to be either al Qaeda's cell leader in Europe or at least the head of bin Laden's organization in Britain.

In early 2001, he had carried out surveillance on the NYSE, Citigroup, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and Prudential in New York, Washington, and Newark, New Jersey.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, he turned his attention to Britain and had plotted coordinated attacks using a radioactive "dirty bomb," limousines filled with gas cylinders and the blowing up of an underground train beneath the River Thames.

Had their plans come to fruition, Barot's trial judge said they would have caused "carnage and butchery ... on a colossal and unprecedented scale."

Now compare that previous sentence with this next one-

Last month, the High Court cut Barot's jail term from 40 to 30 years after it was ruled the initial sentence was too harsh.

Now onto the US-

A team of attorneys from Bretz & Coven, LLP, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, and Shearman & Sterling successfully persuaded the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to overturn the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)'s precedential decision in Matter of Blake, 23 I. & N. Dec. 722. The Second Circuit's opinion in Blake v. Carbone (2d Cir. 2007), released on June 1, 2007, expands the possibility that aliens convicted of certain aggravated felonies can receive relief from deportation under former § 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The appeal involved four lawful permanent residents who had pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a minor, federal racketeering, first degree manslaughter, and murder in the second degree, respectively. Each petitioner was charged with deportability under the INA for having been convicted an aggravated felony after admission to the United States. Each petitioner sought relief from deportation under former § 212(c) of the INA. The BIA found each petitioner ineligible for a § 212(c) waiver.

This is what passes for justice today?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Night Driving

Most television ads leave me cold these days. Really good ones seem to be few and far between. An exception is this following ad by Volkswagen called Night Driving. The music is Cliff Martinez and Don't Blow It from the Solaris soundtrack (haven't seen the film but I do have the album- it's very good) and the vocal is Richard Burton reciting Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood. It's a superb combination and should very definitely be released- I would certainly buy it.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Human Rights Watch

Have pigs started to fly? Human Rights Watch are actually publicly criticising Palestinians.

Armed Palestinian groups have committed serious violations of international humanitarian law during recent fighting in the Gaza Strip, in some cases amounting to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday morning.

In internal Palestinian fighting over the last three days, both Fatah and Hamas armed forces have summarily executed captives, killed people not involved in hostilities, and engaged in gun battles with one another inside and near Palestinian hospitals.

Is that the same Fatah that the US is funding, arming and training?

And for the real "wow" factor-

"These attacks by both Hamas and Fatah constitute brutal assaults on the most fundamental humanitarian principles," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch. "The murder of civilians not engaged in hostilities and the willful killing of captives are war crimes, pure and simple."

Perhaps I've missed HRW's previous condemnations of Palestinians terror acts, like the endless Qassam rocket attacks, on Israeli civilians?

Jizya Restarts

The Hamas-Fatah civil war is really paying dividends right now.

The European Union has agreed to transfer 4 million euros (approximately $5 million) to the coffers of the Palestinian Authority government, effectively ending a freeze by Western nations on funding the Hamas terrorist-led entity.

EU taxpayer's funds into the hands of genocidal terrorists. So much for "never again".

The Quartet, of which the European Union is a member as well as the United States, Russia and the United Nations, declared a freeze on funding to the PA until the Hamas-led government officially recognizes the State of Israel, renounces terrorism and fulfills past agreements.

And despite the fact that Hamas have done none of these things the jizya is flowing again. Just in time for the summer offensive against Israel that seems to be looming.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently returned to pressuring Israel into releasing the funds [taxes denied the PA], despite America’s ban against transferring money to Hamas.

In explaining her actions, she told The Associated Press, "I understand the Israelis' concerns about what might happen to tax revenue, but we think that there are mechanisms that they could use in the ways that they have in the recent past to support important activities."

Oh that's all right then- you "think" that you can stop Hamas using the money to attack Israeli civilians. The US is handing tax dollars hand over fist to train and arm Fatah and their "off-shoot" the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade so why should she be concerned about Hamas getting their hands on millions more dollars? The US is already funding and arming terrorists- I guess Condi thinks that their rival terrorists need a bit more cash to keep the playing field level?

It's incredible- the US was giving money to Fatah to provide them with an edge over the less palatable Hamas, training them so that the "extremists" couldn't take over. But now that Hamas are on the verge of winning their war against Fatah, the US seems to have done an about-face and now they are pushing for funds to be given to Hamas too. It sure doesn't sound anything like a coherent foreign policy to me. Does Condi really think that by helping Hamas out like this it will make them in any way more compliant? If so she really needs to look into another line of work.

Supanet

I spent most of yesterday utterly enraged. I'd been having some problems with BT and my telephone line and decided that enough was enough- so I telephoned them. The first chap I spoke to was helpful and polite, but I quickly discovered a whole other breed of rude, dense and deliberately obtuse employees. If you're at all concerned about your blood pressure or breaking fragile objects that happen to be within reaching distance on no accounts call their customer services line.

Insert stream of coarse language here.

As a delightful counterpoint to the hell that was BT, I also had cause to telephone my ISP- Supanet. Not only is my internet connection much faster and much more reliable than my previous provider, but Supanet answer your call promptly and are incredibly nice, polite and helpful people. They are a credit to the company and an example that many others should follow. On every occasion that I've had to contact them the experience has been the same- pleasant, efficient and eager to resolve the problem. A startling contrast to the surly crowd at BT and their incredibly long wait time.

If only all customer helplines could be like Supanet...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Preparations

The summer of war draws ever closer.

HEZBOLLAH, the powerful Iranian-backed militia that fought the Israeli army last summer, has built a network of underground military bunkers under the feet of United Nations peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon close to Israel’s border.

It has rebuilt its fighting capability and Israeli intelligence now estimates that it has stockpiled 20,000 rockets.

“Hezbollah will never leave southern Lebanon,” said Shaul Mofaz, the former defence minister, last week. “It’s now armed with rockets that could hit central and even southern Israel.”

And once again we see the complete ineffectiveness of the UN.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blair's Hamas

Tony Blair's somewhat unique take on reality is again in evidence-

Palestinian group Hamas is sending some "not unhelpful" signals about the Middle East peace process but should be clearer on where it stands, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview broadcast on Friday.

Hamas is actually very clear on where it stands- the complete annihilation of Israel. And I wonder what he means by "not unhelpful"? Either British diplomats are in secret talks with Hamas (not out of the question- at the height of the Troubles the British government was holding secret talks with the IRA who were at the time engaged in a campaign of murder against the citizens of the UK and the British Army) and they're telling them what they want to hear or Blair really does have a very skewed version of what is and isn't helpful. Let's take a quick sample of the results of a Google news search for "Hamas":

Hamas and Fatah truce collapses in bloodshed

Hamas militants blew up security officer's home in Gaza

Hamas is taking control of Palestinian schools

Hamas "drops charges" against Fatah man, throwing him off Gaza skyscraper

No one is safe in brutal Hamas-Fatah power struggle

Fatah man killed by Hamas militants in southern Gaza, officials say

Hamas has long-range rockets

Hamas, Fatah fighters clash near key Gaza crossing

Hamas switches to mortars, mounts four attacks in four days, as Olmert-Abbas Thursday meeting is called off

Hamas wounds 4 Israelis in attack near Gaza Strip

So, let me see, Tony- which of these are the "not unhelpful" signs from Hamas about the peace process?

Backlash

The British university boycott of Israeli institutes of higher education is not being taken lying down.

But the musical [British production Mama Mia] is only the beginning, says a group of Israeli politicians who drafted a law that could trigger a consumer boycott of an estimated £1.2 billion of British imports sold in Israel every year.

“The British people should know we are very disappointed in England,” said Otniel Schneller, an Israeli parliament member who helped to draft the Bill aimed at punishing Britain.

“For me, the cost of lost business is not important. It is impossible for us to have economic relations with a country that promotes such antiSemitic policies,” he said. Britain is Israel’s third largest trading partner, behind the US and Germany, according to the country’s Ministry of Trade.

If adopted by the Knesset, the law would require British imports to be labelled clearly, making it easier for shoppers to shun the goods. Machinery, electronics, pharmaceuticals, cars and diamonds are among Israel’s top imports from the UK.

There is apparently growing public support in Israel for the measure.

In Israel travel agencies are discouraging tourists from travelling to Britain. Some union workers are refusing to unload British imports and some Israeli importers have threatened to cut ties with British suppliers in protest.

Note that no British academics have called on their organisation to roundly denounce acts of terrorism by Palestinians against Israeli civilians.

Iran's Bomb Project

How many times have we been told now that Iran's nuclear ambitions are peaceful? And how many times do we have to hear stories like this, or see evidence of Iranian arms in Iraq and Afghanistan being used against our troops, before any action is taken?

A British company has been closed down after being caught in an apparent attempt to sell black-market weapons-grade uranium to Iran and Sudan, The Observer can reveal. Anti-terrorist officers and MI6 are now investigating a wider British-based plot allegedly to supply Iran with material for use in a nuclear weapons programme. One person has already been charged with attempting to proliferate 'weapons of mass destruction'. During the 20-month investigation, which also involved MI5 and Customs and Excise, a group of Britons was tracked as they obtained weapons-grade uranium from the black market in Russia. Investigators believe it was intended for export to Sudan and on to Iran.

Why is that the majority of Western politicians think that the time to act is after Iran has the bomb? Do they really believe that the Iranian leadership will follow suit with the rest of the civilised world and not use them?

Interesting to note too that Sudan was involved in obtaining nuclear material- the article also mentions Al Qaeda are trying to develop a nuclear capability.

Miller Time

Denis Miller on Harry Reid. A gem, you have to see it.

You must never, ever speak out loud in public again.

This is priceless. Go watch!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hippo Chase

Talk about a lucky escape- a game keeper in Uganda was chased for 100m by an irate hippopotamus, only getting away when the creature stopped for a rest.

Hippos keep a strict watch over their territories and threaten anyone who invade them. Their teeth are as sharp as razor blades and they kill more people than any other African animal.

Despite the fact that they have been known to reach speeds of 30mph he was lucky enough to escape injury or even death, though it does seem to have been a very close call.

US-Sponsored Terrorism

The beginning of a summer of war?

Israeli aircraft launched airstrikes in Gaza City early Sunday, one day after Palestinian gunmen crossed the Gaza border, believed to be the first such incident in a year.

The purpose of the Palestinian incursion apparently was to kidnap an Israeli soldier, an Israeli official said.

And why not? They've suffered no real retaliation or international outrage for last year's kidnapping. But here's the real interesting part of the story-

The airstrikes "are against the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization and violent offshoots of Fatah," the IDF said. The targets were an Islamic Jihad building in Gaza City and a weapons warehouse belonging to Fatah in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, the IDF said.

Fatah- that's right, the same "moderate" Fatah that Bush and Congress think it's a great idea to ship money and arms to because they aren't quite so bad as Hamas. But wait, are those moderates somehow working with terrorists calling themselves Islamic Jihad? How can that possibly be?

During the Palestinian border incursion on Saturday, one Palestinian militant was killed during an exchange of gunfire with the IDF in the Kissufim area of Israel, Palestinian sources said. An IDF spokesman confirmed the exchange and said the gunmen had crossed the border in a jeep. It was unclear who fired first.

As if that matters in any way, shape or form- if armed terrorists cross your border are you really obliged to wait and see if they shoot first?

Three gunmen, belonging to Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade -- an offshoot military group of Fatah -- returned to Gaza, the Palestinian sources said.

The exact same Fatah group that George Bush is about to give $18.8 million- your tax dollars American readers. The same Fatah that recently received $59 million for weapons and training. They really do sound like moderates worthy of US donations of massive amounts of money and arms, don't they?

Didn't Bush say something a while ago about either being with America or against it in the war on terror? So, where exactly does that leave his administration and the Congress that approved this?

The USA is essentially all that stands between international jihad and victory and so to see Bush making these terrible, terrible mistakes is galling. Does no one in the administration see that backing one set of extremist terrorists in favour of another- both with ostensibly the exact same goals- is nothing more than a short-sighted and idiotic mistake? Especially when America's real and true ally in the Middle East, Israel, is going to suffer for their political experiments.

Who in Washington really belives that giving US money to a group called Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade so that they can launch attacks against Israel alongside their buddies Islamic Jihad is anywhere even close to a good idea? And how does the average American taxpayer feel about nearly $80 million of their money being given to terrorists to wage their war?

Perhaps if you're an American citizen you might take the time to ask your elected representatives why your tax dollars are being sent to arm, train and fund terrorists intent on destroying one of America's long-time allies?

Road Rage

I don't believe the article is very clearly written so I'll just summarise instead of quoting-

Martin Treptow got into an argument with another man on the road- there are no details of what exactly prompted the dispute. As they exchanged angry words, Treptow manoeuvred his car up alongside the other man's vehicle, placing himself next to the driver's window. At that point the other man got out of his car and pulled a gun on Treptow, whose wife and two children were also in the car with him. With no opportunity to move quickly away from the gunman who was now only feet away, Treptow fired his own weapon three times, scoring hits in both legs and grazing his arm.

Turns out that Mr. Road Rage, who was apparently not injured badly as he has been released from hospital, is an undercover police officer. His identity, of course, remains a mystery. Treptow has been released without charge. An investigation is apparently still under way.

It's not clear from the article when the police officer will be disciplined for the road rage incident and his name made public.

Self-Inflicted

Another of the highly trained and professional Only Ones displays his superior firearm handling skills.

A Pinellas deputy accidentally shot himself Friday night at his home in Dunedin.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says Deputy Jonathan Lopes was asleep at home when he was startled awake by a sudden noise.

The fourty-nine-year-old deputy grabbed for his firearm and it discharged. The bullet struck Lopes in the leg.

Incredible how his gun just went off like that when he grabbed it. Wicked inanimate object!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

German Sharia Law

Apparently now the Koran has equal weighting in the German legal system. Another blow dealt against Western civilisation.

A German judge under investigation for ruling against a speedy divorce for an abused Moroccan woman -- who based her decision on the supposed Islamic "right to castigate" -- will not be disciplined.

In her disputed ruling, the judge cited a controversial verse from the Koran that some say allows a husband the "right to castigate."

The Justice Ministry in the German state of Hesse has decided that the Frankfurt judge's ruling did not overstep the acceptable limits of judicial independence.

A startling legal precedent- one that does not bode well for the future.

The case began in October 2006, when a 26-year-old woman filed for immediate divorce from her husband, who had been making death threats to his wife after she left him because of his abusive behavior. German law requires that a couple wait a year between separation and divorce, but the woman's lawyer believed that her circumstances met the "hardship" classification that allows for a speedier ruling.

But in January the judge -- who cannot be named for legal reasons -- denied the woman's request because the couple was of Moroccan origin, citing a Koran verse that some say gives the husband the "right to castigate." The lawyer, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk, filed a subsequent claim, saying the judge should remove herself from the case due to conflict of interest, which was also rejected.

In fact when the decision was appealed- and the original judge removed from the case, the ruling was overturned and the woman was allowed an early divorce. Which would seem to suggest that the original judge had made the wrong decision. And I find it difficult to believe that German judges do not believe that replacing German law with Koranic law is anything other than a terrible idea.

Another Mistake

This is a pretty scary story-

A 51-year-old Kissimmee woman was thrown in jail for nine days all because of a case of mistaken identity. She went to the police station to get fingerprinted for a new job and that's when her troubles started.

Maria Carrasquillo moved from Puerto Rico to Central Florida in 1994. She had never been in trouble with the law, until March 2005. That's when she visited Kissimmee police to voluntarily get her fingerprints taken. She needed that done to apply for work as a licensed practical nurse.

It sounds simple enough but don't forget that we're dealing with the highly trained and professional "Only Ones".

Instead of it being a brief visit, Carrasquillo was arrested for an outstanding warrant. A woman in New York City, with the same name, was wanted on drug-related charges.

Well, how could the police possibly know that she wasn't the right person?

Carrasquillo spent nine days in the county jail before someone at the Kissimmee Police Department checked the identity of the New York suspect and realized they didn't match.

It took them nine days to check the identity of the person they'd arrested and locked up.

The lawsuit also accuses the city of having an inadequate system of reviewing its charging affidavits. Eyewitness News spoke with the city of Kissimmee's attorney, Don Smallwood, who only said, "The city defends these cases vigorously."

I'd like to see how they defend locking up an innocent person for more than a week before even bothering to check that they had the right person. And this occurred because she just happened to have the same name as a wanted person. Don't forget too that this event took place in Florida while the actual criminal was wanted in New York- how many people in a country of some 300 million might have the same name? You'd think that one of the first things that police would do is check to make sure they had the right person and not just someone with the right name- that's a pretty low standard of proof for throwing you in jail.

T. Rex Update

A brief update on this story. National Geographic reports the study's findings-

The team found the animal, hampered by a long tail and that heavy body, would have taken one to two seconds to make a quarter turn—far slower than a human.

"We now know that a T. rex would have been front-heavy, turned slowly, and could manage no more than a leisurely jog," Hutchinson, the lead study author, said.

Pretty much the same angle as the Fox News report and, I'm sure, all the rest of the media outlets that covered the story. And they even manage to mention that T. Rex probably wasn't as fast as depicted in Jurassic Park, that well-known reference film for palaeontologists.

"The method that we applied, creating a kind of computer sculpture of the body of a T. rex, takes into account the whole anatomy," he said.

Well, that's actually debatable- as I mentioned before the T. Rex is thought to have had the long, heavy tail to counter-balance the weight at the front of its body- and the tail was stiff to also aid it in turning. As it began to turn right, for example, the tail would have been whipped left to help it manoeuvre more quickly, the weight of the tail swinging it around- this study may have taken it's anatomy into account but not its bio-mechanics. And again they make comparisons to elephants- four pillar like legs to distribute weight- but do not even mention the T. Rex's slender legs and highly articulated feet. If pillar-leg elephant can move at 25mph why assume that more graceful T. Rex could only equal that speed when it's body structure seems to suggest a faster and more agile creature?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Blue Angels Ban

Those anti-war activists really do support the troops don't they? Well, no, not at all really.

The annual aerial show by the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels — a San Francisco tradition dating back to 1981 that pumps millions into the local economy — is running into opposition from three local peace advocacy groups that are calling for a permanent halt to the popular Fleet Week flyover.

CodePink, Global Exchange and Veterans for Peace, Chapter 69, are working with Supervisor Chris Daly on a Board of Supervisors resolution to address concerns over the Blue Angels.

Concerns. Over a show that dates back over twenty years.

Daly acknowledged he is considering a call to halt the flyovers because, he said, “they seem dangerous and unnecessary.”

Dangerous, eh? But that's not all, is it?

Veterans for Peace takes issue with the pro-military message and the recruiting efforts that come along with the annual visit as well as what it refers to as the “noise pollution.”

After the nonsense about safety concerns and a "waste of fuel" we get to the real crux of the matter- their anti-military agenda. Couldn't the US Army and National Guard simply pull out of the Bay area completely and leave them to it? They could set up border check-points around the city leading to the USA.

Expanding FMJ

It appears that there may be a solution to the problem of troops being forced to use ball ammunition in their sidearms. Personally, I think the answer is to remove the prohibition but this may suffice in the meantime.

Known as the Federal EFMJ for “expanding full metal jacket” the round would appear to be a gift from above to the soldier on the ground. It is fully jacketed, yet expands like a hollow point upon impact.

It works by having a piece of encased lead with a tiny nylon/rubber plug. When it strikes its target, it cannot fill up at the front since it’s encased. Instead, it begins to (for lack of a better word) “smush up” the entire round. How it begins its expansion so diametrically opposed to a standard hollow point and its reliance on fluid hydraulics is that the EFMJ operates solely on impact/kinetic input to the front of the bullet.

Yeah, a very technical description, isn't it? The advantage is that it not only expands better than FMJ ammo but it also appears to surpass the problem of hollow-point ammo getting plugged by material, etc and thus failing to expand. Be nice to see some side-by-side testing to lend credence to the claims.

Now all they have to do is get the military to test and adopt it (don't hold your breath) and then move on to getting open tip ammo approved for the M16 series. Sometime next century maybe?

Dynamic Entry Gone Wrong

Another dynamic entry gone wrong. Just how hard is it for police to get the address for a raid correct? I believe it was Kim du Toit who suggested that every time this happens the police has to pay an automatic one million dollar fine to the person whose home they wrongfully broke into. And if one of them is shot in the process by the home owner, no charges be pressed. Sounds reasonable to me.

Annapolis police raided the wrong apartment Wednesday night, using flash grenades and kicking a resident in the groin before they realized their mistake, police and the family said.

And demonstrating the keen intellect and razor sharp logic that got them into this situation-

Police spokesman Hal Dalton said something must have gone amiss in the briefing beforehand. "We don't know how the mistake was made," Dalton said.

Right. Maybe you didn't bother to check the address on the search warrant? I'm assuming that it isn't that easy to obtain a no-knock warrant.

Silvia Bernal, 30, told The (Annapolis) Capital that about 15 officers burst through the front door of her apartment while she was cooking dinner about 8:20 p.m. She said the officers kicked her husband in the groin while she fled into a bedroom and barred the door with her body.

Then she said both of them were taken to the ground and handcuffed. The Capital said a police officer went outside and realized they had raided the wrong residence.

Fifteen- fifteen- and yet not one of them was switched on enough to realise that they were at the wrong apartment until after the raid had taken place? Unbelievable.

Spa Cove apartment manager Latisha Marshall says there is a large dent in the front door. And she said there are two large black stains from the flash-bang grenades police deployed after entering the apartment.

When officers and the city's tactical squad went to the right unit, they said it was empty.

Fifteen cops, flash bang grenades, busting a door open and kicking a suspect in the groin- does that count as excessive force? One would have thought that perhaps, just maybe, the police would have had a look around first and made sure that the person they were so intent on arresting, the one they obtained a warrant for and went to all that trouble to assemble a tactical team for, was actually at home first, before they went barging in? You'd think that if they took the time to think about what they were doing and carry out even a brief reconnaissance they might have gotten the right address. Instead they appear to have been too busy as playing soldiers.

Let me just sum up here- the cops want to raid a house, not just search it, but use a no-knock warrant to break in. They plan to throw flash-bangs around, presumably to disorient an armed person inside (I can think of no other reason to use such devices) and they also need to use a team of fifteen officers. That suggests to that they were either after a seriously dangerous criminal or that it's far, far too easy for the police to obtain such powers. If it was the former then why the hell didn't they use the most basic tool in their arsenal- and have a look around to make sure they had the right apartment and perhaps carry out some surveillance to make sure that the suspect was at home before they barged in? Or just maybe they could have used that surveillance technique to apprehend the subject when he left his home- and hence do away with the requirement for a dangerous tactical entry?

It seems to me that it's high time that a long, hard look was taken at the frequency with which the police resort to dynamic entry techniques- surely it should be a last resort when other tactics have failed?

Battle-bot

Ingenious, a robot to evacuate battlefield casualties and thus reduce the risk that troops are exposed to. And the crowning glory is that they've made it look like a teddy bear. Complete with a neat acronym too- Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot.

Hot Air's Allah quips, "U.S. troops being the bad-asses that they are, they’re going to end up painting his head to look like a flaming skull or something from an Iron Maiden album cover, aren’t they?"

I certainly hope so.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

T. Rex Speed

Here we go again- another piece of research that aims to prove that all of our notions about the T. Rex are wrong, wrong, wrong.

T. Rex was no slacker. But the popular image of a nimble predator turning on a dime and chasing down prey with lightning speed is fiction, new computer models show.

The terrifying tyrannosaur was actually a slowpoke.

Which, of course, raises the question- what was the computer model based on?

To get a better estimate of the giant's movement, the new study modeled a typical complete T. rex skeleton, which probably weighed between about 13,000 and 17,000 pounds, and estimated its center of mass and the inertia, or resistance to movement, that it would have had when the animal turned or pivoted.

For example, an elephant's four tree trunk-like legs keep its center of mass over its feet, while T. rex would have had to balance its mass differently over its two small legs, bending them to keep from toppling over.

No mention of the Rex's big, heavy tail which palaeontologists think was a counter-balance for its body but okay so far. And an elephant can move at about 25mph too- but there's no mention here of the structure of the T. Rex's slender leg or articulated foot. I hope that their computer model took that into consideration.

The model results, detailed in the June 21 issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, also showed that T. rex would have had considerable inertia preventing it from turning quickly; a 45-degree turn would have taken one or two seconds — far longer than for a human.

Much like modern predators and their nimble prey which try to out-manoeuvre them by twisting and turning. Good thing that all those Cretaceous humans were able to turn quickly, huh?

These calculations lend further support to previous research indicating that the large tyrannosaurs could run no faster than 25 mph (and certainly not the 45 mph seen in some movies), because its leg muscles weren't big enough for fast running.

Never mind that we can't actually say exactly how big their muscles were. There's big debate about T. Rex speed but the arguments are a little broader than this article implies. We'll get to that in a moment.

"We now know that a T. rex would have been front heavy, turned slowly and could manage no more than a leisurely jog," said team leader John Hutchinson of the Royal Veterinary College.

Now, this research may actually be close to the truth- of course unless we develop time travel or make our own Jurassic Park we'll never know 100% just how fast the King of Dinosaurs was- but this article is so sloppily presented that it boggles the mind. They're postulating 25mph for a predator that was 40 feet long and weighed in the region of 7 tons. The T. Rex could deliver greater bite force than any other dinosaur. It's very short fore-limbs were not vestigial in any way but show areas for large muscle attachment- it's theorised that they were small in proportion to the body to reduce the weight at the front of the body and strong enough to grasp prey while the Rex delivered a killing bite. And no mention of the stiffened tail which was a counterbalance for its weight and could also have been used to help it turn rapidly- Tyrannosaurus was part of the group of dinosaurs called tetanurans, stiff-tails.

Previous research which has focused on the T. Rex's speed and which has concluded that it was slow, put its pace in the region of 11mph. Those who claimed the T. Rex was fast put it's speed between 25mph and 45mph. So this research doesn't paint the T. Rex as a "slow poke" but as a fast predator if we compare it to earlier work. To compare with a modern predator a grizzly bear can move at up to 30mph- I've seen these bursts of speed on nature documentaries and that hellishly fast. Now imagine a beast the size of a T. Rex going 25mph. Not fast if you're driving a car perhaps but moving on foot? The best Olympic sprinters can move at that pace- and only for short periods of time. The average human running speed is around 12mph- and I'd say that the vast majority of humans couldn't hold that pace for long. What really needs to be said here is that this claimed T. Rex speed would actually make it faster than the majority of other dinosaurs on which it would prey. In short, this research doesn't prove that the T. Rex was slow unless your basis for scientific knowledge comes entirely from Steven Spielberg- if we compare it to other work carried out by palaeontologists, this actually finds that the T. Rex was pretty speedy. Not so much as some have claimed but as the pace they're suggesting lies between the two extremes that are sometimes put forward I'd hazard a guess and say that they might actually be onto something.

I'd like to see team leader John Hutchinson moving at a leisurely 25mph jog. With a T. Rex behind him.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

War On Guns

David Codrea at War on Guns has been on the case of "Snuff" Pfleger- this is the individual who called on a mob to snuff out a gun shop owner, a man who uses the tax exempt status of his church to front his political activities. Mr. Codrea has done all of the work on this- time to spread it around the pro-gun community and get the word out. Perhaps a call to the relevant authorities to complain? The hoplophobes get all the media attention they want and this piece of work is also using a church to push his anti-gun agenda. Time for those who value the Second Amendment to push right back- before it's too late. Can you imagine for a second that a church which campaigned for more gun rights would be allowed to get away with it? Well, don't the other side have the advantage in this fight.

War on Guns is also tracking the case of Red's Trading Post, a gun-seller that's under attack from the ATF for the most petty of administrative matters. This is a matter of government thugs abusing their power in the most blatant manner. Check this out for example. If you own a blog or visit message boards, please do try and spread the word about these matters- and point everyone back to War on Guns or Red's new blog where they will be detailing their battle with the ATF.

This is a prime example of the power of blogs to not only disseminate information but also to do the heavy lifting that the agenda-driven mainstream media won't do. Spread the word.

Canadian Gun Registry

There are many, many problems with the Candian's gun registry but this is preposterous-

My friend, noted Quebec academic and author Pierre Lemieux, submitted his firearms licence-renewal application directly to the Prime Minister's office this week. "Mr. Prime Minister," he wrote in a covering letter enclosing his Form 979, "I would like to suggest that you should enforce your own "laws" yourself. You will note that, as a proud descendant of the disobedient French Canadian coureurs de bois, I have not answered one of the form's indiscreet and obscene questions. I answered that my love affairs are none of your business." (Form 979 asks, among other things, about recently ended romantic relationships.)

How exactly did that get on there?

Fake Cop

Remember, if you lift a finger against a cop in New York your life will be on the line. Now ponder why this criminal able to get away with such a litany of crimes? And imagine what would have happened if he really had been a cop and one of his victims had fought back.

A man previously charged with impersonating a police officer pleaded not guilty Monday to allegations of using that bogus authority to rape a woman, molest teenagers, scam a bus driver and commit other crimes.

"By invoking a fear of violence and the authority of a badge and uniform, he manipulated these people," prosecutor Thomas Spota said. "They had no reason to doubt his ability to follow through on his threats or challenge what they logically interpreted as the legal authority of a law enforcement officer."

That's a very interesting and telling use of words- mere serfs should have a fear of violence from those in uniform? They should expect police officers to be able to follow through on threats against them?

Terry, who lived in various places in Suffolk County, was accosting people as a police officer since at least 2005, prosecutors said. He had an authentic-looking uniform, a car with lights and sirens and a pair of handcuffs. He even had an office in neighboring Nassau County that served as an unofficial "police station," although no charges are pending against him there.

Among the allegations in the new 54-count indictment are two counts of first-degree rape. Terry is accused of displaying a gun and threatening a 28-year-old caretaker with arrest before sexually assaulting her in December 2006.

Prosecutors also contend Terry seduced a number of teenagers in his home, threatening them with arrest if they refused to comply with his orders. In April 2006, prosecutors said, Terry went to Greenwich Village in Manhattan and cajoled four teenagers to come with him back to Long Island, where one 15-year-old boy remained for an undetermined amount of time.

The indictment also accuses Terry of scamming a 56-year-old bus driver out of $120,000 in $15,000 increments between July and November 2005. Terry, using his law enforcement background to bolster his argument, convinced the man that he was being victimized in a credit card scam should hand the cash over to Terry for safekeeping, prosecutors said.

Terry faces up to 132 years in prison if convicted of all charges, which include animal abuse.

Ponder that final line for a moment and then ask yourself if this had been a real Only One, would he be staring at a 132 year sentence? It's entirely possible I suppose but given the long, long list of police officers who are treated to a different standard by the courts when they are found to have been breaking the law, I'm not so positive.

Peeping Cop

Another case of law enforcement doing exactly the opposite-

The head of Charleston County's detectives has been arrested after neighbors told police he was on a roof, staring into the bedroom window of an adjoining home, authorities said.

Sheriff's Capt. Jesse Gene Hammet, 43, was placed on administrative leave after North Charleston police arrested him Friday on two counts of violating the state's Peeping Tom law, Charleston County sheriff's spokesman Capt. John Clark said.

A neighbor called police Thursday and said she saw Hammet get on the roof of his townhouse, scamper across to an adjoining townhouse and peer inside the bedroom window of a 24-year-old woman for about five minutes, according to an arrest warrant.

The investigation continues.

The Coming War

There have been hints of a coming conflict between Syria and Israel for some time now- and those hints are becoming stronger and harder to ignore. Looks like we might be headed for a summer of war.

A member of the Syrian parliament, Muhammad Habash, confirmed on Tuesday that his country was actively preparing for war with Israel, expected to break out in the summer, Israel Radio reported.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Habash said it was no secret that the Syrian military was arming itself for the upcoming confrontation with the IDF.

He also claimed that the Israeli government was the one that wanted the war so that it could survive politically.

Looks like Nancy Pelosi's trip has been a resounding success, doesn't it? And Syria will no doubt be aided in the conflict by Hezbollah (currently rearming under the watch eye of the impotent UN) and Hamas. Question is, will Iran get directly involved?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Blair's Delusion

I'm beginning to wonder if Tony Blair is a compulsive liar or if he really is completely and utterly deluded about Islam.

Tony Blair today launched a passionate defence of Islam as a religion of “moderation and modernity”, as he announced a £1m government fund to aid teaching of the religion and train UK imams.

Yep, this from the man who said that Islam was ahead of its time in regard to the treatment of women! Does he realise what he's actually saying? I'm not sure whether he's simply pandering to Muslims or if he has somehow convinced himself that, contrary to all the evidence, what he's saying is true. Could he really be so detached from reality?

He said the voices of "calm" Islam had been hijacked by extremists, who were no more representative of the true faith than Christians in the Middle Ages who used torture to convert people to their faith.

And he praised a book called The Muslim Jesus as highlighting where the two religions overlapped.

A book that documents the Islamic concept of Jesus not as a Christian prophet but as an Islamic one. Muslims believe that Jesus or Isa as they know him was an Islamic prophet and was definitely not the son of God- and nor did he rise from the dead. In short, Islam at once claims possession of Jesus and denies completely the validity of Christianity itself. Some overlap. I guess Tony didn't get this memo. Or have the initiative enough to do the most basic research into the topic.

Fifth Column?

There are some interesting and important points to this story. The first of course is that the prime example of a would-be jihadist is not some illiterate, poverty stricken and gullible individual; they are, in the majority, university students. By this we can assume that they are not desperately poor nor completely stupid.

AUSTRALIAN Muslim university students eager to become jihadis are regularly seeking advice from Islamic spiritual leaders in the hope of winning religious approval to travel overseas and fight.

Leaders have warned that the obsession among some young Muslims to become holy warriors was also driving them to “shop around” for fatwas - religious rulings - should their initial request be turned down.

Moderate Sydney-based Islamic cleric Khalil Shami said young Muslims, “predominantly university students”, frequently asked his advice on travelling to war-torn countries to fight in the name of Islam.

He said young Muslims interested in jihad either called him anonymously to ask his advice or approached him at the mosque.

The second point to note is that these are not some red-neck bigots eager to defame Islam- these are Muslims are seeking religious advice on going to fight a jihad. Are we to call them Islamophobes for assuming that Islam is not a Religion of Peace? The question is never raised about where they got the idea that their religious duty is to go and fight.

There are a few more points to make- although the spiritual leader at the centre of this story tells us that he advises these young men not to go and fight as holy warriors in the name of Islam he does not do it because there is a Koranic or religious reason not to fight, it's because the regimes they want to fight for are "corrupt". In short, he cannot argue with them on religious grounds that there is no such thing as a jihad. He does not try to convince them that it's an "inner struggle", nor does he tell them that to kill one person is the same as killing all humanity. It seems that he cannot refute their belief that Islam requires them to go and fight in jihad.

The last thing to note is this-

Sheik Shami, who is also an Australian Federal Police chaplain, said he had not notified authorities about Muslims interested in jihad because he did not want to betray the trust of people making the inquiries.

I'm sure that the Australian police and security services might be interested in the names of people seeking permission to go and fight a jihad, particularly since Australian troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan. Remember too that the cleric notes that some of the young men involved were "shopping around" for a fatwa that would give them permission to go and fight- he might have turned them down but that's not to say another cleric will. Thus it would seem important that the authorities be informed of potential jihadists in their very midst, some of whom might turn their murderous intent against Australia itself. Sheik Shami, it seems, places the trust of would-be jihadists above the lives of the people they are planning on killing.

Don't Go Into The Water

Another dinosaur story and one that isn't quite breaking news- rather it's evidence that seems to support a long held theory. Tracks have been discovered which appear to show that theropods, which includes dinosaurs like T. Rex and their equally famous cousins the velociraptors, could swim. If you've read the Michael Crichton Jurassic Park novels, you'll be familiar with the concept; and what I wouldn't have given to see T. Rex swim on the big screen!

The tracks, which are 50 feet long (15 meters long) and contain 12 prints, suggest that a large animal was scrabbling at the bottom of a 10-foot-deep (3-meter-deep) lake with a swimming, not wading, motion.

The marks were likely left more than one hundred million years ago at the well-preserved La Virgen del Campo site, where scientists have also unearthed more than 10,000 other fossil footprints.

Ripples in the stone show that the dinosaur—possibly a T. rex—was fighting a current, trying not to drift sideways.

Other swimming tracks have been discovered in Utah and they may help to lend weight to the theory.

No Feathers?

The feathered dinosaur notion, which has gained so much traction amongst palaeontologists recently takes a body blow.

In a new study, researchers examined the fossil of a 140-million-year-old turkey-size dinosaur called Sinosauropteryx.

Other experts had previously concluded that distinctive patterns found on the skin of a Sinosauropteryx fossil were remnants of downy protofeathers, making the species the most primitive feathered dinosaur.

But the new team says that their analysis shows that the creature was actually bald.

The patterns are the remains of "structural fibers, probably collagen—the most abundant fiber in vertebrates—of the skin and the dorsal frill," said lead study author Theagarten Lingham-Soliar of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

As seems to be the way with science these days the popular theory is opposed by a small cadre of those following evidence rather than the latest trends. I once read an article in which a palaeontologist spoke of a particular species of dinosaur possessing proto-feathers; this despite the fact that there were actual fossilised remains of said dinosaur's skin proving that it had no such features.

"The existence of protofeathers in these dinosaurs was considered critical evidence that birds were derived from dinosaurs," said study co-author Alan Feduccia, a bird evolution expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"What we have shown is that there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that protofeathers existed in dinosaurs, period."

But the majority of scientists in the field are unconvinced.

Of course they are! Heaven forbid that some evidence actually get in the way of a preconceived notion. When did science become a field in which alluring theories were held more dearly than data? Wouldn't it be nice if scientists were, oh I don't know, open-minded?

Monday, June 04, 2007

US Tax-Dollars To Terrorists

The title says it all really.

Holland, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates have all decided to renew funding to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. The countries are following the lead of the United States, which authorized funding of the Fatah faction in the PA through a PLO account set up by Fatah official Salem Fayyad.

US President George W. Bush announced Friday that he intends to deposit $18.8 million into the new PLO account set up by Fayyad – ostensibly to help Fatah fight Hamas. Hamas is not technically a member of the PLO.

Interesting qualification there, isn't it? Who would have thought that US citizen's hard earned tax dollars would be paid to the PLO?

The White House recently gave Fatah $59 million for training and weapons for armed groups controlled by Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas later claimed it had intercepted weapons purchased with the money.

So, from the American taxpayer's wallet to Hamas in a few simple steps.

One of the recipients of such training, Khaled Shawish, was arrested by Israeli security forces last month for scores of shooting attacks on Israeli civilians he oversaw – including the murder of Binyamin Ze’ev and Talia Kahane.

In short then Bush's administration has taken to training terrorists to attack one of America's key allies. What a superb plan in the war on global terrorism, eh?

Setting The Record Straight

Ray Bradbury takes the time to set countless English teachers right about what he actually intended Fahrenheit 451 to be about.

Fahrenheit 451 is not, he says firmly, a story about government censorship. Nor was it a response to Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose investigations had already instilled fear and stifled the creativity of thousands.

This, despite the fact that reviews, critiques and essays over the decades say that is precisely what it is all about. Even Bradbury’s authorized biographer, Sam Weller, in The Bradbury Chronicles, refers to Fahrenheit 451 as a book about censorship.

You have to wonder how hard it is to actually contact a living author and ask him about one of his most important works?

Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.

“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen.

The record has officially been set straight- but I wonder just how much longer all those teachers and university lecturers will continue to dish out the censorship/McCarthyism line?

Bradbury imagined a democratic society whose diverse population turns against books: Whites reject Uncle Tom’s Cabin and blacks disapprove of Little Black Sambo. He imagined not just political correctness, but a society so diverse that all groups were “minorities.” He wrote that at first they condensed the books, stripping out more and more offending passages until ultimately all that remained were footnotes, which hardly anyone read. Only after people stopped reading did the state employ firemen to burn books.

For a book published way back in '53 it seems eerily prescient. And Mr. Bradbury, 87 this year and confined to a wheelchair, continues to write-

Beginning in Arizona when his parents bought him a toy typewriter, Bradbury has written a short story a week since the 1930s. Now he dictates his tales over the phone, each weekday between 9 a.m. and noon, to his daughter Alexandria.

It's high time a lot of that material was published!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

State Approved Prostitution

Funny that the same regime currently cracking down on women not being covered up enough is the one also doing this-

Iran's Interior Minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, has started promoting temporary marriage as a solution to the country's social problems.

Shia Islam allows a man and woman to marry for a fixed period of time, ranging from an hour to a century.

A man can also have any number of temporary marriages - or sigheh, as they are known.

Not surprisingly, it's generally considered to be a form of prostitution- why else would a man want to marry a woman for an hour?

Rafsanjani even put forward this notion- there was no need for a cleric: the couple could read out an oath in private in order to marry.

So, women walking around uncovered is terribly bad, but men can have as many temporary "marriages" as they want and that's all right. Didn't Tony Blair say something about how progressive Islam was and how the Koran was "far ahead of its time in attitudes toward marriage, women, and governance"?

Teaching Intolerance

Saudi propaganda culture comes to an American school.

For one night, on May 9, the quaint colonial town of Amherst, New Hampshire, was transformed into a Saudi Arabian Bedouin tent community, with the help of 80 seventh-graders at the Amherst Middle School.

Pay close attention to the actual details of what these children are being taught-

During the check-in, guests selected a traditional Arabic name for their name badge and completed an actual Saudi customs form, which warned in bold letters “Death for Drug Trafficking ” at the top.

As Robert Spencer adds, "Were crosses, Bibles, stars of David, and all other non-Muslim religious articles confiscated and destroyed?" I've tried to find a copy of the customs form but haven't been able to so far- if you have a link please leave it in the comments. What I did find was the visa application, which includes the following-

"I also agree not to introduce any materials into the Kingdom that contradict the Islamic religion."

Wonder if that was mentioned in any of the school's classes leading up to this activity?

Flowing fabrics hung from the ceiling separated the family and men-only dining sections.

Only the seventh-grade boys were allowed to host the food stations and the Arabic dancing, as the traditions of Saudi Arabia at this time prevent women from participating in these public roles.

Teaching gender apartheid- isn't the US school system so progressive!

Savage Pellucidar!

At last some scientific research that I can really get behind!

A U.S. scientist and a small band of believers are planning a journey to the Canadian Arctic for what they call "the greatest geological expedition in history."

I hope to goodness that they're well armed for the travails that await them in the land of perpetual noon.

They're looking for a fog-shrouded hole in the Arctic Ocean that leads -- they say -- to the centre of the Earth, where an unknown civilization is lurking inside the hollow core of the planet.

That's right- Pellucidar. Only I think they left out the bit about the wide variety of prehistoric life from all eras that still survives in there.

Mr. Agnew is the latest in a long line of people to peddle the nutty, yet persistent, theory that humans live on the surface of a hollow planet, in which two undiscovered openings, near the North and South poles, connect the outer Earth with an interior realm.

Nutty, yeah right, hasn't this so-called journalist done his homework? Not only have David Innes and Abner Perry explored there but so too has Tarzan and a few others. Jeez, it's called research!

While he insists the journey has a genuine scientific purpose, Mr. Agnew also says the expedition will include several experts in meditation, mythology and UFOs, as well as a team of documentary filmmakers.

I'm actually a tad concerned- no big game hunters or military men are mentioned. And UFOs are the least of their concerns- don't they know about the Mahars? I believe they might be walking into a situation they aren't prepared for.

“Pellucidar, as every schoolboy knows, is a world within a world, lying as it does, upon the inner surface of the hollow sphere, which is the Earth.”

The maps are here and you can read of the Innes and Perry adventure here for free.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Fligth of Fantasy

Will I ever run out of Adam Hughes images to post? It's doubtful. Here's Betty Page as a Stormtrooper. Have a good weekend.