Friday, December 31, 2004
Thursday, December 30, 2004
The Pentagon plans to retire one of the Navy's 12 aircraft carriers, buy fewer amphibious landing ships for the Marine Corps and delay the development of a costly Army combat system of high-technology arms as part of $60 billion in proposed cuts over the next six years, Congressional and military officials said Wednesday. [...] The proposed Pentagon cuts, which include sharply reducing the program for the Air Force's F/A-22 fighter and delaying the purchase of a new Navy destroyer, would for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks slow the growth in Pentagon spending, which has risen 41 percent in that period, to about $420 billion this year. Military and Congressional officials said the Pentagon was looking to trim up to $10 billion in the 2006 budget alone. [...] When Donald H. Rumsfeld became defense secretary in 2001, he took aim at costly weapons systems that he and his top aides said were relics of the cold war. Since then, the Army has canceled the $11 billion Crusader artillery system and the $38 billion Comanche reconnaissance helicopter program.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
"We have accelerated disposing of bodies to minimize the risk of an epidemic. Also, we have started spraying bleaching powder on the beaches from where the bodies have been recovered," said Veera Shanmuga Moni, a top administrator of Tamil Nadu's Nagappattinam district.
WHO WARNS AGAINST HEALTH MISCONCEPTIONS IN THE WAKE OF TURKISH EARTHQUAKE
Numerous "myths" are repeatedly broadcast when a natural disaster occurs: the supposed occurrence of epidemics after disasters, the relationship between dead bodies and epidemics, the need for foreign medical assistance, the need for large quantities of medical supplies and camp hospitals, the need to resettle the population in camps, the need for food aid, a return to normality after a few weeks.
The reality is by far different, Dr Michel Thieren, Medical Officer in WHO's Department of Emergency and Humanitarian Action, warned today. "The demand for health services occurs within the first 24 hours of a sudden event. Most injured people may appear at medical facilities during the first three to five days, after which admitting patterns return almost to normal. Patients may appear in two waves, the first (the great majority) consisting of casualties from the immediate area around the medical facility and the second of referral cases as humanitarian operations in more distant areas become organized. Victims of secondary disasters (post-earthquake aftershocks and fires) may arrive at a later stage."
... natural disaster tend to generate false information and principle which lays on no scientific ground. This is particularly the case for the health sector, and relief organization have to battle hard to establish the evidence in relation with the real medical needs, and with the absence of correlation between hurricane and epidemics or between cadavers and large scale epidemics.
The most persistent myth that dead bodies pose a major risk for disease, as reiterated in all large natural disasters - especially earthquakes and cyclones - is just that: a myth. The bodies of victims from earthquakes or other natural disasters do not present a public health risk for cholera, typhoid fever or other plagues mentioned by misinformed medical doctors. In fact, the few occasional carriers of those communicable diseases who were unfortunate victims of the disaster are far less of a threat to the public than when they were alive.
Often overlooked is the unintended social consequence of the precipitous and unceremonious disposal of corpses. It is just one more severe blow to the affected population, depriving them of their human right to honor the dead through proper identification and burial.
The legal and financial consequences from the lack of a death certificate will add to the suffering of survivors for years to come.
Our experience in the aftermath of the Mexico City earthquake showed that health authorities and the media can work together to inform the public and make the identification of the deceased and the return of bodies to their families possible in a climate free from unfounded fears of epidemics.
Moreover, focusing on ineffective and medically unnecessary measures such as the superficial 'disinfecting’ of cadavers with lime, mass burial, or cremation require important human and material resources that should instead be allocated to those who survived and remain in critical condition.
Finally, these measures provide the population with a false sense of security.
Natural disasters such as earthquakes and cyclones/hurricanes do not result in diseases that are not already present in the affected area, nor do they provoke secondary disasters through outbreaks of communicable diseases. Proper resumption of public health services, such as immunization and sanitation measures, control and disposal of waste, and special attention to water quality and food safety, will ensure the safety of the population and relief workers from those diseases which were endemic to the area prior to the disaster.
(Dr. C. de Ville de Goyet - Chief, Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Coordination Program - PAN AMERICAN HEALTH ORGANIZATION, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization)
"Even as local health officials out in the field were racing to create mass graves or pyres to deal with the rising tide of bodies, saying the bodies posed immediate health risks, officials of the World Health Organization emphasized that the biggest risk of an outbreak was posed by survivors. The agency's officials said Tuesday that because there was little danger of epidemics from unburied bodies, immediate mass burials and cremations were not necessary. Instead, they said, family members and friends should be given time, where possible, to identify the bodies first. "
Monday, December 27, 2004
"McGOVERNITIS" - an infectious inflammation originating in the vestigial Left-wing of the body politic
By David Horowitz
December 27, 2004
On Christmas Day, former U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern wrote a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times (and probably many other papers) calling for an American surrender in Iraq. George McGovern has not been in the headlines for three decades, and his name consequently may be unfamiliar to many. But no one has had a greater or more baleful impact on the Democratic Party and its electoral fortunes than this progressive product of the South Dakota plains.
The leftward slide of the Democratic Party, which has made it an uncertain trumpet in matters of war and peace, may be said to have begun with the McGovern presidential campaign of 1972, whose slogan was “American come home” – as though America was the problem and not the aggression of the Communist bloc.
ABBAS: AN AMORAL PRAGMATIST WHO'S ONLY EMBRACING NON-VIOLENCE AND NEGOTIATION BECAUSE GENOCIDAL TERROR HAS FAILED
So... it seems to me he is winking at the terrorists, saying in effect: "terror would be fine if it worked." This may make Abbas a realist and a pragmatist - but not man of peace. He seems, in a way, to be saying that they should use non-violent means to destroy Israel.
I have taken a clear stand toward the continuation of the intifadah .. as it shouldn't have continued following the rebellion in Al-Aqsa that was for the defense of our scared shrines," he said, alluding to the September, 2000, park of the uprising, when unarmed Palestinians engaged in bloody clashes with heavily-armed Israeli troops after Ariel Sharon, before he was named prime minister, paid a provocative visit to the mosque. Abbas affirmed his abidance by the "political settlement and the option of peace," adding, "I say it clearly that believe that the military solution is not possible." He also said that using arms during the uprising against the occupation has actually harmed the cause of the Palestinian people. "The militarization of the intifadah and the usage of arms for liberation is not possible because the balance of powers is not in our favor," said the grey-haired veteran politician.
ON ANOTHER LEVEL: This proves - once again - that the only way to end terror is to defeat it, appeasing it only encourages it; the Israelis defeated the Second Intifada and have driven FATAH to the negotiating tables and to the voting booths. Now Abbas is at best sincerely trying to TALK the Jihadoterrorists into accepting the military defeat and into making the best deal they can at the negotiating table.
If and when the Palestinian Arabs get autonomy again (and then perhaps a state), I think the Jihadists will merely use it as a base for terror - much like the Taliban used Afghanistan and Zarqawi the Sunni Triangle - UNLESS the PA makes as determined a fight against them as the Iraqis are making right now.
That's what makes me a pessimist: It's just that Abbas doesn't strike me as man with 1/10th the courage of Allawi. And I think it will take more than TALK to get HAMAS and Hizb'allah to lay down their arms. And since I think it's unlikely that Abbas will really crackdown on the Jihadoterrorists - the first condition for any deal - I think unilateral separation is still the most likely outcome. But we shall see. I pray Abbas proves me wrong.
MORE HERE (from the IHT). Their title: "Path is peace, but goal is the same, Abbas says" By Steven Erlanger The New York Times. [I guess what I'm saying is that it seems to me that what Abbas is REALLY saying is: "Goal is destruction of Israel, but path is non-violent - for now."]
Sunday, December 26, 2004
More than any other two national security advisors, Zbig and Brent are responsible for the mess we're in today.
Only Clinton's 8 years of repeated failures in the face of Jihadoterror (Khobar, the 1993 WTC bombing, the African embassy bombings, Somalia, the Sudan, and the USS Cole) are worse.
We should no more take foreign policy advice from Zbig or Brent than we should take a lesson in military honor & loyalty from Kerry.
ADDENDUM: Scowcroft has charged "Ariel Sharon has Bush wrapped around his little finger" and I witnessed Brzezinski concur joyfully in a joint appearance they made on TV. IMHO, this is as serious and realistic a critcism of Bush as the one we hear from the Moore-types: that "Bush is a tool of the House of Saud." These mutually exclusive charges are nothing more than LUDICROUS "tin-foil hat" ravings, and they say more about those who utter them than they do about Bush. It's just further proof that Scowcroft and Brzezinski - and Michael Moore - are inane as-h-les who have descended into irrelevance via "B.D.S." THEY SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
"1989: Romania's 'first couple' executed - Deposed Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena have been shot by a firing squad after a secret military tribunal found them both guilty of crimes against the state. They were charged and convicted of genocide and undermining the national economy among a series of other offences, officials said."
NAJAF, Iraq - The Iraqi police chief in Najaf accused the Syrian government Saturday of involvement in last weekend’s deadly bombing that killed 52 people in the Shiite pilgrimage city. One of three suspects arrested in Najaf immediately after the attack “confessed that Syrian intelligence services had played a role in the blast”, on December 19 that wounded more than 140 people, said General Ghaleb al-Jazairi. “He had lived in Syria where he began to work for the Syrian intelligence” at a camp for Iraqi refugees, he said.
Friday, December 24, 2004
The information and items North Korea provided pertaining to 10 missing Japanese are not credible, the government said Friday, warning Pyongyang faces economic sanctions if it continues its "insincere" attitude over the abductions. "Options could include economic sanctions, although this has not been decided as the first choice," Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura told reporters. Friday's announcement is expected to raise diplomatic tension by another critical notch, as domestic pressure mounts for the government to slap sanctions on North Korea.
That's democracy of culture, and like democracy in the political realm: it only frightens tyrants. As well it should.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
"We were very aware of the fact that it wasn't the Iraqi agenda that motivated our kidnappers, but the internationalist jihadist agenda."
I think that the Beeb and the Kuwati press reports on this matter are less biased than the NYTIMES. Unlike the NYTIMES, they both make it CLEAR that the French hostage now believes that Iraq is now part of the war against Jihadoterrorism.
May I add another: they're the same kind of people who say "Bush is Hitler" and "Zarqawi is an insurgent."
The US is contemplating incursions into Syrian territory in an attempt to kill or capture Iraqi Ba'athists who, it believes, are directing at least part of the attacks against US targets in Iraq, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post. The official said that fresh sanctions are likely to be implemented, but added that the US needs to be more "aggressive" after Tuesday's deadly attack on a US base in Mosul. The comment suggested that the US believes the attack on the mess tent, in which 22 people were killed, may have been coordinated from inside Syrian territory.
How this moribund regulatory agency [Ofheo] - which members of Congress were trying to strip of its powers as recently as last spring - transformed itself into a powerhouse that could force so consummate a politician and businessman as Mr. Raines to back down is a testament, several observers in Washington said, to the perseverance of Mr. Falcon, a soft-spoken and often underestimated 44-year-old lawyer. "This is not a crusader," said Stanley Sporkin, the former head of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission, who has advised Mr. Falcon in recent months. "This is a very, very deliberate, decent, focused person, who once he makes a decision, he carries it out; he does not vacillate. [my emphasis - kinda sounds like our president, doesn't it? ...] Mr. Falcon's future is unclear: his appointment at Ofheo [the oversight agency] expired in October and he has said that he intends only to remain until his successor, who must be nominated by President Bush, is confirmed. But even among some of his critics, Mr. Falcon has now earned a new measure of respect. "He has been powerfully vindicated," Mr. Ely said."
Elections in the Occupied Territories May be the Beginning of the End for Arab-Palestinian Jihadoterrorism
Ramallah, West Bank, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The first phase of Palestinian municipal elections kicked off in 26 West Bank towns and villages Thursday amid tight security. Israel agreed to allow 1,000 armed Palestinian police to deploy at the polling stations to ensure smooth proceedings for the first municipal polls to be held in the Palestinian territories since 1976.
Need we say more?
DAMASCUS, Dec 23 (KUNA) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi affirmed on Thursday necessity of continuous coordination between Iran and Syria and confirmed that his talks with President Bashar Al-Assad dealt with Iraqi issues.
Mosul bomb raises fears of infiltration at US army bases
From James Hider in Baghdad
THE explosion that killed 22 soldiers and contractors on an American army base in Mosul on Tuesday was probably the work of a suicide bomber, not a rocket attack, the Pentagon disclosed yesterday. “At this point, it looks like it was an improvised explosive device worn by an attacker,” General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon briefing. [...] One Western security expert said that it was impossible to screen everyone entering the bases with so many personnel involved. “The sheer logistics of life support for the Americans make it physically impossible to check everything,” he said.
"Nor has France shied away from paying ransoms in the past: it is known (although still officially denied) to have paid up to £2m to free hostages held in Lebanon in 1988, when Mr Chirac was prime minister and François Mitterrand president. Indeed, a former aide of Mr Mitterrand's confirmed in a 2002 interview that ransoms were 'perfectly normal' in such situations. The French defence minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, agreed in principle yesterday, telling French television: 'Why would we hide a ransom payment? Governments have to be clear about this kind of thing. Who would object to a ransom payment?' "
IRANIAN MULLAHS PLAN THE DESTRUCTION OF 100 ANCIENT SITES - LOSS DWARFS TALIBAN'S DESTRUCTION OF THE "BUDDHAS OF BAMIYAN"
"More than 100 of Iran's potentially most important but least examined archaeological sites, including fringes of Pasargadae, the city built by King Cyrus the Great, will be flooded in the next two years according to the UN, which appealed yesterday to international scientists to try to record what they can. The flooding of the eight-mile Tang-e-Bolaghi gorge because of the construction of a dam will destroy ancient Persia's imperial road which ran from Persepolis to Pasargadae. [...] Unesco said yesterday it was hopeful that the world heritage site of Pasargadae, Cyrus's capital city, renowned for its palaces, gardens and the tomb of the founder of the Achaemenid dynasty, would be only marginally affected. The city, which was included in Unesco's world heritage site list last year, is less than three miles from the end of the gorge. It was built on the site where Cyrus defeated Astyages, the leader of the Medes, in 550BC. It has added importance today because it is believed to be the capital of the first Asian empire which respected the cultural diversity of its people. "
European policymakers have been advised to prepare for "sudden change" in North Korea amid growing speculation among diplomats and observers that Kim Jong-il is losing his grip on power. A EU delegation to Pyongyang recommended a review of the union's policy towards the peninsula, including proposals for closer engagement with North Korea and contingency plans for a possible collapse of the reclusive state, the Guardian has learned. ... In the past month, however, the North Korean rumour mill has been working overtime. While no one is ever quite sure what is going on in one of the world's most closed countries, diplomats, intelligence agents, academics and defectors across the political spectrum and from several different countries are reporting signs of potentially destabilising change. There are strong indications of a power struggle centring on the successor to Kim Jong-il.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
And more HERE and HERE.
US regulators are set to investigate possible violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation on accounting and corporate governance by Fannie Mae's former senior management. The Securities and Exchange Commission, the chief US financial regulator, is expected to determine whether Franklin Raines, former chief executive, and Timothy Howard, former chief financial officer, infringed the legislation's requirements to certify the accuracy of its accounts. Mr Raines and Mr Howard, who were ousted by Fannie Mae's board on Tuesday, certified that its 2002 and 2003 accounts "fairly present in all material respects" the company's financial condition in signed statements filed with the SEC.
Last week Donald Nicolaisen, SEC chief accountant, ruled that the US mortgage finance company, had violated US accounting rules between 2001 and mid-2004 and called on it to restate its accounts. Fannie Mae, which agreed to restate, estimated last month that the move could lower its earnings by $9bn .
Chestnuts roasting on an catalytically-converted non-polluting fire
Jack or Jill Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols – that don’t mention Christianity - being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like the Inuit.
Everybody knows some tofu and some re-plantable mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots – on over-prescribed Ritalin - with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight –
They know that Santa's on his way
He's loaded lots of toys
And goodies on his sleigh
And every mother's child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer – an endangered species we hope Santa is not mistreating -
really know how to fly.
And so, I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although its been said
Many times, many ways
Happy Holidays, happy holidays, happy holidays to you!
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
(1) We gradually increase the age at which a person may collect benefits (say... one month every four months. In 15 years benefits would be available to people at age 70 - an age more in keeping with current real-world demographics.(2) We should exempt the first $15,000 of income from the payroll tax, and raise the ceiling of the payroll tax to make up the reduction.(3) We gradually allow payroll tax-payers UNDER THE AGE OF 50 to divert from 5% to 15% of their payroll tax to special accounts IF AND ONLY IF they agree to take a proportionately larger reduction of benefits when they retire (let's say twice as much). In other words, if they divert 15% of their payroll tax into a personal account, then they must take a 30% reduction of their benefits upon achieving retiurement age. This guarantees that the diversion of payroll tax won't deplete the outflow of benefits, and keeps the current Ponzi Scheme afloat for older people who are stuck in it.(4) We gradually increase the amount that people may divert to personal accounts until every worker has a personal account, and the current Ponzi Scheme disappears through attrition - probably around 2050.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Sunday, December 19, 2004
the NASDAQ Bubble... BURST; the Telecoms Bubble... BURST; the Internet/New Economy Bubble... BURST; the California Energy Bubble... BURST; (Clinton's FDA approved whatever drugs were proposed, and now we're finding out that some big ones might be harmful - like Vioxx and Celebrex - so we might be on a cusp of a Pharma Bubble bursting. too); OSLO was a bubble of sorts too - Clinton oversold it, and then Arafat abused it (turning down a do-able deal at Taba) and instead burst the Oslo Bubble, and unleashed the Second Intifada; finally, there's the al Qaida Bubble - Osama kept attacking us - (in Somalia, the WTC in 1993; two of our our African embassies, the Khobar Towers, and the USS Cole) - and Clinton did nothing -- that bubble burst on 9/11. And - as if if that wasn't enough - Clinton also bequeathed us the Oil-For-Food Bubble!
Friday, December 17, 2004
Iraqi Insurgents Directed From Syria
By Thomas E. Ricks Friday, December 17, 2004; Page A29A top Army general said yesterday that the Iraqi insurgency was being run in part by former senior Iraqi Baath Party officials operating in Syria who call themselves the "New Regional Command." These men, from the former governing party of deposed president Saddam Hussein, are "operating out of Syria with impunity and providing direction and financing for the insurgency," said Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the U.S. commander in Iraq. "That needs to stop," Casey said at a Pentagon briefing.
It's a fine article; RTWT!
I have been posting on the Syrian problem for weeks. (See HERE and HERE and HERE for starters.) The entire success of all operations in Iraq depend on preventing the "insurgents" from being re-supplied or reinforced.
These warnings - two days ago from Bush, and yesterday from Casey - need to be backed up with a credible, time sensitive threat (something like): "Close the borders by January 7, 2005 or you will be attacked and your military and economic infrastructure demolished."
Thursday, December 16, 2004
The five IDF soldiers were Beduin volunteers - Arab/Muslim citizens of Israel.
Why doesn't the Old Media want you to know this? Because it shatters the Left's "party line" on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Left wants you to think that this is a war between carpetbagging Jewish colonialists and native/Third World Arabs.
In fact, the war is NOW about what it has always been about: the very existence of a Jewish state. Those who use terror and propaganda to attack Israel want to destroy Israel, commit genocide against the Jews, and make all of what was once British Palestine (not just the occupied territories) an "ethnically cleansed" Jihadist state. And they'll kill anyone who gets in their way - even their fellow Arabs and Muslims. RTWT.
(1) When there is an elected government of Iraq; (2) when the Iraqi defenses can defend the borders and maintain law and order; and (3) when the elected government of Iraq ASKS us to leave.