Friday, April 20, 2007

I found Saddam’s WMD bunkers

So says Dave Gaubatz in the Spectator.

I've always believed that WMDs were spirited out of Iraq. It is the most logical explanation for why so many governments and intelligent reports and political leaders believed it to be the case.

Gaubatz tells a disturbing tale of incompetence and scheming that resulted in Syria holding the bag.

Jonah Goldberg suggests "a healthy dose of scepticism" and I agree. But then scepticism would be in order for 90% of the things we hear these days.

One reason I dismiss conspiracy theories is that they require a government that can pull such events off with competence. This one would be a result of incompetence, something I find very believable.

Charles Krauthammer ...What he Said

Charles Krauthammer has a piece up that says a lot of what I tried to say below about the rush to speak in the wake of the VA Tech tragedy. Only he says it with much more eloquence.

He also mentions our failure to care for our mentally ill, something I've railed about it on this blog with no illusions that anything will ever be done.

One point of departure with Krauthammer is that the problem he describes is not exclusively from the left. This has been an equal opportunity for exploitation.

PCV Killer Captured

The suspected killer of Julie Cambell is in custody.

She was evidently beaten to death.

As a PCV, I'm sure she was carrying little cash. Such a waste.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Take a Breath on VA Tech

I'm a big fan of The Corner. I like the sense of humor and freewheeling style of group blogging. So, I'm not picking on them when I suggest that everybody SHUT THE F**K UP with their idiotic expert opinions about what should have, could have, would have been.

We are 3 days away from a terrible, terrible tragedy. We have plenty of time to discover what happened and what went wrong. People evidently feel it is absolutely critical that they offer their opinions as soon as possible about things they can't possibly know anything about.

It is this kind of hysteria that results in bad laws and policy. Everybody just take a breath and stop talking.

NBC has already destroyed its integrity in its rush to publish pictures, letters and videos from the killer. Doesn't anybody have the ability to learn from that?

The sick thing about all of this is that all these idiotic decisions are being driven by money while the anchors express sincere and deep sympathy. The cynicism of the media is sickening.

King of All Media...Charlie Rose?

What's the deal with Google Video and Charlie Rose? Why is it all Charlie all of the time?

Did the Google guys buy Charlie as an especially unique pet to keep round the office?

I don't get it.

Murder Trial For Deaf Victim and Defendent

I stumbled across a discussion board about a trial currently going on in Sioux Falls. After bouncing around several threads I couldn't think of anything but "IDIOTS" as I read the absolute worst series of english posts I've ever encountered. Well, I guess I'm the idiot because the commenters are mostly deaf.

I finally came across a thread, the link above, that had a guy comment on that very issue and somebody explained that deaf people speak in a shorthand unique to sign language.

Anyway, I never thought about it that way.

Suspect in Murder of PCV

Evidently they have identified somebody as a suspect in the murder of Julie Cambell.

Evidently he was seen carrying her backpack.

My thoughts go out to her family.

China Controlling Weather

China reports that they have made it snow.

All I can say is plant them soybeans!

International News | News | Telegraph

VA Tech Killer Videos

Here's a roundup of various reports concerning the package received by NBC.

There's a lot of debate about whether this material should be released with many making the argument that in today's world it should be freely dispersed and shared for examination.

We all know that shootings like this are always followed by copycats and so the question really isn't whether there will be copycats, but how many. If somebody is at a point that they are considering such an action doesn't the opportunity for such exposure only encourage it?

And when the next copycat murders happen, will be media be shocked, shocked! at such a development?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ukraine Continues the Crisis

Subscriber only piece from Jane's Foreign Report titles Ukraine's President Pushes the Panic Button does a good job of providing background in a nutshell.

Their forecast?

The main winner from the crisis is Tymoshenko. In early elections, her bloc
would be likely to come a close second to the Party of Regions and, in an
ensuing Orange Coalition, she would become prime minister.

However, Yanukovych could still turn the tables on his Orange Coalition
rivals and consolidate his position as the key political power in Ukraine.

Should the crisis continue unabated, the potential for violence would also
grow and with this would come the risk of wider societal division and
widespread domestic instability.

During my time in Ukraine I was constantly frustrated by the apathy the west showed toward the region. It is a critically important area that will unfortunately be recognized only when things go terribly wrong.

For anybody that has lost faith in the US political system, just be aware that it is a paragon of virtue in every way when compared to Ukraine.


CNN locked in exclusive rights to cel phone footage of the Virginia Tech rampage. They've been crowing about it ever since.

The Diabolical Gas of Death

First we learn that Ethanol is leading to dramatic increases in tortilla prices and now we are told it is going to kill us.

Be sure to read to the bottom about the anti-rain effect of soybeans.

We don't stand a chance.

Body of US Peace Corps Volunteer Found in Northern Philippines

Profoundly sad news on the missing, now confirmed dead Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines.

This has affected me more than I would expect.

Very, very sad.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ex-U.S. military chiefs warn warming worsens security

Evidently 11 former US military leaders warn about Global Warming and its effect on security.

Well, I'm sure we are going to have security issues when we find ourselves living in underwater cities but what I want to know is what the effect of Flying saucers will be on security. Are we addressing that possibility?

The Vultures Come Out

Somehow I managed to go through half my day without hearing about the massacre at Virginia Tech. Everybody wants to get the information on this but clearly the media have learned nothing from Katrina. They are engaging in conjecture and rumor when the obvious choice should be sticking with the facts.

The story listed above says 29 are dead while another report on google news says 21 and another says 32. These are numbers that are understandably difficult to pin down and I'm not really complaining about that.

What agravates me are the interviews with students in which the talking heads try their best to draw out complaints about why the campus wasn't locked down, why there wasn't more caution after bomb threats last week etc.

The fact is that all of those questions should be and will be answered but now is not the time that any of that can be answered with any accuracy. All it serves is to create chaos.

Another complaint. A talk radio host today was interviewing a student, asking what they witnessed. The student wasn't delivering the goods in his descriptions. He didn't really recognize gunshots for what they were. He thought, but wasn't sure that he heard screaming. He was basically being honest in the aftermath of the event. That's when the host announced that they would play the audio of a cel phone video of the event. After it played, the host actually asked if that was what the student heard. The student already described his experience and it was nothing like the audio...the host was just going for drama. What a jerk.

One of the Columbine parents was just on FOX. I can understand their passion and anger but what do they have to contribute to our understanding of what happened at Virginia Tech today?

PCV Search Continues

Unfortunately the volunteer that has been missing in the Phillipines is still missing.

This is all very distressing since she has been missing over a week now.

The story I link to says that a volunteer was kidnapped and ultimately released in 1990 by rebels. Hopefully this story will turn out with an ending at least that positive.

r blog

I'm not a fan of Rosie's. I remember her singing show tunes and declaring her love for Tom Cruise on the old show and then something about her sueing or being sued by the publishers of her magazine.

Then she shows up on The View and is all batshit crazy.

Now I find
her blog
and I'm trying to figure out exactly what would be the correct description. So far I've got Larry King, Prince and a really emo 15 year old. Have to think about it more.

Friday, April 13, 2007

PCV Missing

In the Philippines a PCV has been missing since April 8. I hope they find her soon.

UPDATE: I'm adding the following to clarify this post a little bit better. I was dumb to not have done it before:

The missing PCV reminds me of an issue that has bothered me since my tour. I don't intend to relate PC security policy with her disappearance in the following.

One of my greatest concerns about Peace Corps is the skewed statistics on crime. Our group had a huge number of assaults but the majority were not reported. Volunteers have found themselves under investigation after being victimized and it is common for PCVs to keep quite. Now before any PCVs challenge that, I'm speaking from experience and personal knowledge of a wide number of unreported assaults. It is simply a fact.

There was a notorious case in South America in which a PCV had been missing for months before anybody noticed. The regional manager had evidently been filing false reports of contacting the PCV during this period. By the time the family raised enough hell to get somebody to try to track down their son, he had been missing for weeks. He was never seen again.

There is a fatal flaw in the PC system for reporting assaults and that is that there is no upside for the staff. Higher assault rates reflect poorly on the staff. So you have volunteers that are encouraged, through a policy of suspecting volunteers first, to not report when they are attacked. Other organizations have procedures to deal with this but PC doesn't and doesn't seem to be motivated to make changes.

Too bad for so many reasons.

In Praise of Smart Radio

I've mentioned my appreciation of "This American Life one of the best radio shows ever. Another program that is equally great, and perhaps even greater because of the sheer quantity of awesome stuff is AirTalk hosted by Larry Mantle on Pasadena, CA public radio station KPCC.

I've listened to Larry for years, my recent years away excluded, and I think it is safe to say he is one of the absolutely best interviewers on radio, TV whatever. Although I have my guess, I could not say for certain what Larry's political persuasion is. He really provides a forum for dialogue and although he isn't confrontational, he does have a way of asking probing questions that go beyond the talking points his guests tend to bring with them.

Added bonus is every Friday the second hour is about movies, usually 30 minutes of interview and 30 of a critics roundtable on the day's new releases.

Extra added bonus, the show is podcasted now so I never have to miss a show.

If you want to listen to the same people scream at each other and tell you what to think, this isn't for you. If you want to hear intelligent talk (the station's slogan) try this for a change.

Ode To Zach Braff

I came to Scrubs late and find it to be one of the funniest and most touching comedies I've ever watched. Zach Braff is a big reason for its success.

This guy likes him even more than me.

Well Jeez, that was Easy

What the entire world body could not accomplish, Mia Farrow does with an Op-ed: "So what gives? Credit goes to Hollywood - Mia Farrow and Steven Spielberg in particular. Just when it seemed safe to buy a plane ticket to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, nongovernmental organizations and other groups appear to have scored a surprising success in an effort to link the Olympics, which the Chinese government holds very dear, to the killings in Darfur, which, until recently, Beijing had not seemed too concerned about"

I don't give Spielberg much credit since it appears he was shamed into acting.

And it is a great example of what truly motivates countries that block certain efforts around the world. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned by a lot of people here.

Too bad the op-ed took so long to come out.

Imus is in Mourning

Yesh, this Imus thing is one long, boring, train wreck.

I learned about Imus when I caught his show on MSNBC and was informed of his great popularity. I never got it. But then I never got Howard Stern either.

So I can't really comment on his character, but the hand wringing going on about his completely meaningless comment has become disgusting. Without mentioning anybody, any particular comic, any particular musical act, any particular reverend, I think me merely mentioning the non-particulars is enough to bring up dozens and hundreds of cases of things said that are so absolutely vile that "Nappy Headed Ho" sounds absolutely quaint.

In the end, it isn't about real or imagined offenses taken, it is about power. And those that increased their power over this are perfectly happy to destroy a man in the process. Its not like they haven't done it before.

UPDATE: Sometimes I try to come up with a witty heading for my posts. I've never thought them actually witty but it gives me joy. Anyway, a quick google blog search of "Imus Mourning" reveals that dozens of bloggers share my incredible skills.

Where is Ukraine?

And how did it get here? Here is a decent analysis of the current situation in Ukraine, tracing back through the squandered opportunities to move the country into a positive direction. The only complaint I have it the title of the piece "Did West Pull Up Stakes Too Soon?" The title implies that the west is responsible but that really doesn't reflect the conclusion reached.

Yushenko ultimately bears the blame for the fiasco since he clearly failed to exploit the massive outpouring of support, failed to use his political capital to push through needed legislation, failed to effectively build working coalitions and failed to maintain the appearance of a level of incorruptability that a person in his position has to have. He failed so completely that the comically corrupt Prime Minister Yanakovich has a piece in the Financial Times about the importance of the Rule of Law!

I don't see how Yanukovich, attempted thief of the 2004 election, was able to pound out the words without destroying his keyboard from convulsions of laughter. Actually, from every impression I've ever gotten of Yanukovich, I don't understand how he was able to actually find the keyboard or the power switch to the computer. Maybe he consulted with his coalition. That's what coalitions are for!

And of course, Yanukovich is demanding the President abide by the law in order that Yanukovich can continue his process of literally buying members of the Rada to create a super majority coalition.

If I sound cynical, see if you can read this passage about protesters in Kiev without a twinge of it yourself:

They pay 40 hryvna a day and 100 hryvna a night, - confesses an elder man
from Zhytomyr camping in the Mariinsky Park next to the Parliament. - I can
make my monthly salary here within a week".

But a group of young people who observe the political show in the Maydan are
divided in their opinion. "I wouldn't have ever accepted any money from
these guys", - says Yurko, a student of Mohyla Academy. But his friend
Alexander, who lives in a student dormitory, says: "Why not? They return
back to the people the money they stole from them.

Their recruiters offer 40 hryvna for just two hours to stay here with
blue-and-white flag. I don't support Yanukovych but my stipend is 350 hryvna
and I get no extra allowance from my parents. I feel it would be actually
better if we take these money ourselves and pay them lip-service. Otherwise,
they would bring their real supporters from Donbas who may make a lot of
harm here".

Unfortunately, this comes from an op-ed by Mykola Rjabtschuk in a German publication (Berliner Zeitung, No.86) that I don't have a link to. The English translation is available at the Action Ukraine Report, a nationalist oriented newsletter maintained by the ex-pat (or diaspora) community in the US. The opinion piece is very slanted in favor of Yushenko but I have known people that took payment for protesting. It is commonly known. If you are interested in receiving the newsletters, you can sign up at the link above.

I've always enjoyed the Action Ukraine Report and actually had the opportunity to meet Morgan Williams, the publisher, who is a very nice man. I don't share his partisanship but I think his heart is in the right place. It just takes a careful reader to understand what is news and what is political opinion.

Finally, no day is complete without visiting the always interesting Neeka's Backlog where Veronica mentions yet more talk of a potential split of Ukraine. I've always thought that kind of talk was silly and hope it still is...silly rather than frightening. Veronica seems to travel a lot and I think she is currently in Russia but she brings a passion and real anger to her posts that captures the heart of somebody who truly cares.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Jews for Allah!

A Jewish friend once described his disdain for any Jewish Christian. I wonder what he would think of a Jew for Allah!

And yes, he apparently hates Jews too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Global Warming Initiative

The upcoming Climate Change concerts have steeled me to fight even harder towards my goal to become a celebrity. After that, life will be sweet.

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