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7/25/2005

Market Busting in Africa

Why do we get these mountains of clothes? No one is freezing here. Instead, our tailors lose their livlihoods. They're in the same position as our farmers. No one in the low-wage world of Africa can be cost-efficient enough to keep pace with donated products. In 1997, 137,000 workers were employed in Nigeria's textile industry. By 2003, the figure had dropped to 57,000. The results are the same in all other areas where overwhelming helpfulness and fragile African markets collide.
spiegel online via free advice
An interview with economics expert James Shikwati. Read the whole thing.

A friend indeed!

In my mail this morning came a note from a chap named Brian Mertens. He has a blog, called, appropriately enought, Free Advice. In his email he allowed as how he knew a bit about PHP and if I needed any help...I wrote back with a number of the issues at The Canadian Bullet. This afternoon I check my email and there is a full on stylesheet fixed!

Thank you Brian!

canada.info-syn.com Update

Great feedback, links and support for my little aggregator. There are any number of issues, the worst being the rather random nature of the truncation. This is my number one priority to fix because without it long posts take way too much space.

Traffic is beginning to build with links from Let it Bleed, Anonalogue and Crawl Across the Ocean adding to the stream.

One of the reasons I wanted to launch in high summer was that the level of activity in the blogging community is low this time of year. It will be interesting to see how many posts a dog day weekday produces.

On the Next Plane

A controversial Toronto imam warned Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan at a closed-door meeting to stop "terrorizing" Canadian Muslims.

"If you try to cross the line I can't guarantee what is going to happen. Our young people, we can't control," Aly Hindy, the head of Scarborough's Salaheddin Islamic Centre, recalls telling the minister at the May meeting she held in Toronto with dozens of Muslim leaders....

"We believe CSIS should stop terrorizing us," he says in a flyer he is circulating to mosques. "CSIS is powerless. CSIS has no authority over you. If CSIS agents come to your door, do not open [it] for them."
globe and mail
A brief bit of Googling does not disclose whether Aly Hindy is, in fact, a Canadian citizen. But he is the Khadrs' imam and there are serious suggestions that the Salaheddin Islamic Centre where he preaches may have been funded with Wahabbi money.

Better safe than sorry. The statements quoted in the Globe suggest an indirect bit of incitement. Bung him on a plane if he is not Canadian. If he is then it is time to put legislation in place which deals with incitement. The English are just doing this now - a bit late.

Plumbing new depths of dumb

Conservative MP Vic Toews (Provencher, Man.), his party's high-profile justice critic and a former Manitoba justice minister, told The Hill Times that the Conservatives will definitely make it an election issue out on the hustings and said if the federal Conservatives win the next election they will attempt to repeal the law.

"The Conservative government will bring forward an alternative; that's what political parties and governments do," Mr. Toews said in an interview last week with The Hill Times in regards to whether it's worth repealing the new law. "They offer alternatives and this is a commitment that we've made as an alternative to what the Liberals have forced on the Canadian people. I can't see how one can avoid it being an election issue. There's a very clear distinction between the Conservatives and all the other parties on that issue."
hill times via bound by gravity
55% of Canadians don't want the SSM legislation repealed. It is probably impossible to do so without having the legislation overturned on Constitutional grounds. Harper claims he will not use the scary notwithstanding clause so failure in the Courts would be an end of it.

What are these idiots thinking? Do they really want to go into a campaign promising to take rights away from Canadians?

Dumber and dumber as the days go by.

Blogger fix

Yipee! If you have been coming to this blog using certain flavours of FireFox you may have noticed a gap, a big, honking, gap. Blogger has finally fixed it....Thank you for your patience.

7/24/2005

Flu...

I ran across this excellent Avian Flu site while getting the dirt from the Zerb.

Canada, like many other countries, has failed to stockpile sufficient anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu in preparation for a (bird) flu pandemic. The government simply has not been paying attention until recently, and it is too late now: the sole manufacturer of Tamiflu has worldwide orders for at least 40 million doses, and nowhere near the capacity to make them anytime soon.

The federal authorities responsible have neglected to do the jobs they were hired for. Canada has Tamiflu in stock for maybe 7% of its population, the US less than 1%. European countries like Britain and France are reported to be close to 40%.
epidemica
How serious is this, well, if you want to be scared out of your wits go read Ian Welsh's piece on what the survivors can expect. Normally I childe Ian for being alarmist; but not with this.

Canada.Info-Syn.Com Update

I am still fighting with the code to try and get the posts to truncate. Two reasons: first because I want The Canadian Bullet, which is the "brand" for the blog aggregator as in, "Have you seen the Bullet?, to be a quick skim. Hit it, read what's up in the Canadian political blogosphere, hit an ad, and off. Second, because I think people, once their are interested in a post, should go to the blogger's own site to "read the rest".

So far it has been hit and miss on the truncation front. It may be the feeds or just my total lack of PHP knowledge.

Very kind words and links from Andrew over at CanConv, Robert Mcclelland at MyBlahg and Section 15.

If you would like to link The Canadian Bullet (and I would be grateful if you did) please point the link to http://canada.info-syn.com.

It has been really interesting to see how the Canadian blogosphere works from an eagle's eye perspective. One of the reasons I wanted to do the aggregator was that I always felt I was missing interesting posts. I was right, even on a sultry July weekend there are lots of interesting posts, brush wars, photographs and fun.

It still has a way to go; but all of the issues are now capable of solution.

Meanwhile, just to avoid narrowness, the beta of the first of the topical aggregators is up. Food!. Sex cannot be far behind.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Stephen Harper talked tough on security and not at all on same-sex marriage on Saturday as the Conservative leader's 10-day tour of Ontario drew to a close. Harper said Friday's deadly bombings in Egypt should serve as a warning to Canada.
cp
Good for Harper...It has finally dawned on the brainiacs in the CPC that SSM is a non-issue outside North Armpit Alberta. But if you are riding the subway in Toronto or the Skytrain in Vancouver you damn well care about security.

Time for the CPC to do itself, and the rest of us, a big favour and let go of SSM.

7/23/2005

I hate MS Explorer

So now I have The Canadian Bullet up and, more or less, running. And I go to take a look at it in Explorer. And it renders with everything wrong. Grrr!

It's Iraq you know...

The horrific Egyptian bombings have draw the comment from one Canadian lefty blogger,

In the wake of the assorted terrorist incidents in London, and the interesting news - which took my by suprise, because I was not planning to move to the UK - that we are now all Londoners, I am relieved today to discover that we are not suddenly all Egyptians. I didn't want to move to Egypt.
Of course, the WonderDog had little choice as it was pretty impossible to blame the bombings on Bush or Blair or, er, Iraq. Faced with the horror of calling Islamic terrorists, terrorists, the Dog's head exploded. Pointless mockery ensued.

(I have to say that having an Canadian politics aggregator has already broadened my horizons.)

Judge Posner on Blogging

The latest, and perhaps gravest, challenge to the journalistic establishment is the blog. Journalists accuse bloggers of having lowered standards. But their real concern is less high-minded - it is the threat that bloggers, who are mostly amateurs, pose to professional journalists and their principal employers, the conventional news media. A serious newspaper, like The Times, is a large, hierarchical commercial enterprise that interposes layers of review, revision and correction between the reporter and the published report and that to finance its large staff depends on advertising revenues and hence on the good will of advertisers and (because advertising revenues depend to a great extent on circulation) readers. These dependences constrain a newspaper in a variety of ways. But in addition, with its reputation heavily invested in accuracy, so that every serious error is a potential scandal, a newspaper not only has to delay publication of many stories to permit adequate checking but also has to institute rules for avoiding error - like requiring more than a single source for a story or limiting its reporters' reliance on anonymous sources - that cost it many scoops.

Blogs don't have these worries. Their only cost is the time of the blogger, and that cost may actually be negative if the blogger can use the publicity that he obtains from blogging to generate lecture fees and book royalties. Having no staff, the blogger is not expected to be accurate. Having no advertisers (though this is changing), he has no reason to pull his punches. And not needing a large circulation to cover costs, he can target a segment of the reading public much narrower than a newspaper or a television news channel could aim for. He may even be able to pry that segment away from the conventional media. Blogs pick off the mainstream media's customers one by one, as it were.
quoted at powerline
Blogs are not going to replace mainstream media. But they are going to replace the "take it off the wire" lamers who pretend to be MSM...this would include the Asper papers in toto save the Ottawa Citizen which seems to still have some idea that telling original stories is important.

Info Syn Update

Just a quick update: the Canadian political blogs aggregator will be moving to its permanent home http://canada.info-syn.com shortly...Now if I can just get Kate's posts to truncate properly. [And, hey, talk about the perfect time to launch...I can get the bugs worked out while everybody is away, too hot, too lazy, too kidded out...Perfect!

Dumb...

Poor Frank...it never did have very interesting graphics...now it has this. E-Frank.

7/22/2005

Beta....Info-Syn

The height of summer and all the bloggers are on vacation. Which will give me a chance to iron the kinks out of my new blog aggregator....Info-Syn.com. Everything, including the final url - likely a sub domain - is going to change. But go and kick the tires and send any suggestions along. Critically, which bloggers am I missing who I shouldn't be.

I could really use help from my more leftish friends - both of you - on lefty blogs of merit.

There is much more to come but I thought I would start with Canadian political blogs...It's day one.

It Ain't Easy

The Making of a Legend by Rod Stewart (Reader’s Digest/Dec/2004)
"For me, just shaking his hand – knowing all the great musicians whose hand he’d shaken before –was mind-blowing. But so was John. Picture this elegant man with a proper English accent, never without a tie, a towering six-foot-seven. I was a huge fan and I was intimidated by his offer. Rod Stewart wasn’t in demand in those days; no one was interested. I immediately said yes. John had a knack for discovering talent. Ginger Baker, Jeff Beck and Brian Jones all worked with him early on. Elton John played piano in one of his bands, other Rolling Stones too – Charlie, Ron Wood, and Keith. In 1962, when the Rolling Stones were just getting started, they opened for him in London. Eric Clapton has said many times that John was one of the musicians that inspired him to play the Blues. And for their internationally televised special in 1964, the Beatles invited John to perform his version of 'I Got My Mojo Working'. In those days the only music we fell in love with was the Blues, and John was the first white guy singing it, in his wonderful voice. It was the true Blues and everyone looked up to him."
rod stewart
Just saw this at pogg, eh. As pogg says, "But for those of us of a certain age this one, too, seems like the end of an era."

To sound like the sort of aging boomer I detest, I saw Baldry live in, of all places, a bar in downtown Calgary. He was well past whatever zenith his career had but, complete with two girl backup singers, a horn section and a kickass rock and roll band he owned the room. While "Don't try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock and roll" is probably his best known song, the two Baldry songs which are part of the IPod in my head are "Flying" and "It ain't Easy".

7/21/2005

Boring....

Well, digging actually.

Three people have been arrested after police raided a sophisticated tunnel intended to smuggle drugs under the U.S.-Canada border between Vancouver and Seattle, investigators said on Thursday.

The smugglers spent more than a year building the 360-foot (110-meter) tunnel that ran from a Quonset hut-style storage building in the rural Aldergrove neighborhood of Langley, British Columbia, to the living room of a home in Lynden, Washington, U.S. and Canadian investigators said.

"It was well built, probably one of the most sophisticated tunnels we've ever seen," said Rod Benson, an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. "There was a significant drug trafficking organization that was responsible for the construction."
reuters
The number of people I've known who have managed to expend vast amounts of energy trying to establish grow ops only to fail because of blight or being too stoned to remember to water the damn things, suggests just how unlikely this endevour is. In fact it looks to me like organized crime rather than a couple of guys with a stoner idea.

And they say Canadians are not entreprenurial...our criminals seem to be.

Yawn....

Our friends on the American Left seem to be taking London 1.5 in stride....

Atrios - nada - Rove and Roberts

Kos Front Page - nada - RU-486, DeLay, Republican internal briefing memo on Roberts

Others are better. But it is amazing that a blog like Kos would not have something up. Though, given the moonbat reaction to the last bombings....It's the Jews and Blair and Bush...it may also be a blessing

London 1.5

Details at Tim Worstall who links to news and blogs.

This does not, at first reading, seem as serious. No deaths reported as I write. However, the co-ordination is worrying. The speculation is off to a huge start - copycat? Right wing extremists? Al-Qaeda farm team?

My own speculation is that this may have been a botched set of suicide bombers. Bad explosive. After the first bombings no one would think they were going to plant bombs in the tube unobserved by the CCTV which cover London. Tim has a quote from Sky News worth sharing

He told me he had seen a man carrying a rucksack which suddenly exploded. It was a minor explosion but enough to blow open his rucksack. Everyone rushed from the carriage. People evacuated very quickly. There was no panic.

"I didn't see anyone injured but there was shock and fright.

"There was a smell of smoke."

"The man who was holding the rucksack looked extremely dismayed."
sky news via tim worstall
Now, these bastards will be caught and, with luck, are going to talk. And, with more luck, they will be the B-team of bombers from the same origin as the A-Team two weeks ago. Then the Brits and the rest of us will have a bit of information on methods and planning.

The danger here, bad as bombs are, is what was suggested by the bobbies in Hazmat suits.

7/20/2005

Albert Speer Lives!

For those of you who find Masonic symbols in your cornflakes....Check this out.
(Thanks Flea)

More from England

I've had enough. I awoke today at 7am. By 7.23am I'd heard two apologias for suicide bombing. I wake to the BBC's Today programme, you see. A nice woman presenter politely thanked both apologists very much for their time.

I turned off and turned on my PC. At the BBC website I find the Tory Party Vice-Chair Sayeeda Warsi saying, 'Mr Blair should negotiate with the terrorists. We need to bring these groups into the fold of the democratic process. As long as we exclude them and don't hear them out, we will allow them to continue their hate.' I reflect that I last heard this from Tony Benn – the hero of my youth whom I now think a dangerous political idiot - speaking on BBC's Newsnight on the evening of 7/7 (and before that from Mo Mowlam about Bin Laden). I then notice the BBC has a story about 'Muslim reactions to 7/7'. First voice up, top of the screen, is Dr Imran Waheed, the media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Britain), who says, 'What is required is for the whole society to accept responsibility for 7/7'. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a racist anti-Semitic organisation that supports suicide bombings.
alan johnson at normblog
We may well owe the London Bombers a vote of thanks simply for waking up at least some of the wankers on the British Left...Hello, this is not about root causes. It's about terrorisms and the faster the West realizes that the better. London may have helped.

Ian McEwan on Iraq

I never thought that in the run up to the war we were discussing simply the difference between war and peace. We were discussing the difference between war and continued torture and genocide and abuse of human rights by a fascist state. I missed any sense of that complexity in the peace camp. I certainly had the feeling that whatever the strong moral arguments were for deposing Saddam, the Americans would not be good nation-builders. But I had a moral problem with this view among the 2 million protesters that you should leave Saddam in power in a fascist state with 27 million Iraqis under him. The problem is that they felt good about it. I thought they should have opposed the war but also felt bad about it.
.....
I think if Bush and Blair could press a button and we could all fast forward backwards, rewind the tape, they'd probably do this differently. But I don't think they fully grasped, and even the anti-war (movement) could have never fully grasped the fantastic viciousness of the insurgency against its own people.
Ian McEwan via normblog
I've always thought that McEwan was a much better novelist than Margaret Drabble - how encouraging that I can think he is a better person as well.

Google Moon

The guys at Google take one more giant step for man....zoom right in here

Extremist Database

The UK is to set up a global database of extremists who face automatic vetting before being allowed in, Home Secretary Charles Clarke has told MPs.

He said the database would list "unacceptable behaviour" such as radical preaching, websites and writing articles intended to foment terrorism.
bbc
One might be forgiven for thinking that this should have been done....five years ago!

New Media?

Glenn Reynolds does an interview with J.D. Johannes of Faces From the Front. Basically, Johannes got fed up with MSM coverage of the war in Iraq and, with less than $10,000 in equipment and software, set about shooting video about a group of Reserve Marines from Kansas City. It is a pretty cool idea and it certainly represents a bit of a challenge to legacy media. Plus, Johannes gets what is wrong with current TV journalism:

Every local TV station has a "Statehouse" reporter. What makes these reporters so special that their coverage should be respected? Nothing, other than they work for an identifiable and reliable media outlet.

Do they have any special knowledge of law, politics, government, economics, policy, etc? No. They have a bachelor's degree in Mass Media or Journalism, possibly the worst education possible outside of a teaching degree.

I worked in television for four years producing newscasts every day, these reporters are some of the least equipped individuals to be covering important topics that affect people's lives. And in TV news, performance abilities are rewarded more often than analytical ones.
techcentralstation
The question that kept coming up for me was that with all the internets' capacity to hyperlink and present information in new ways, why is Glenn so fixated on video.

In fact, one of the surprising things about much of the push for guerilla media is that it seems so intent on mimicing legacy media. Video and podcasting are so slow.

For a generation raised on video games and blogs, the idea of sitting in front of a screen for ten minutes while material is presented in a linear fashion is simply not going to happen. The pleasures of the 'net are about the immediacy and the connectedness it brings.

Reynolds seems to see the internet as cable television with 100 million channels. However, as the statistics are beginning to show, television in general is in decline.

The real challenge is to create alternatives to mainstream media - complete with reporting - which take full advantage of the interconnectedness the internet provides.

Ten minute video segments, while no doubt providing stories MSM just does not cover, is still linear, slow and yesterday's tech.


7/19/2005

John G. Roberts

If you want to get the full attention of the American public for a Supreme Court nomination which is of only tiny interest to anyone outside the legal biz of government...you leak a name. John G. Roberts. John G. Roberts may or may not be the actual nominee; but it doesn't matter for the spin.

Karl Rove really is that smart...

Update:The Dems are going to be split here. Roberts is not, on the face of it, a terribly good hook on which to launch an assault on Bush. Conservative but no yahoo. But they will still attack. Which will take Rove off the front page and, once he is off that page, unless he is actually charged, the light as air allegations the Dems have been baying are going to be forgotten. Most of all by the MSM who realize, but will not admit, that not mentioning the name of a CIA employee who was not covert is not actually a crime...

Men, Women and Math

I enjoy reading about mathematics and I can even do elementary statistics. But, from the time I was a kid I recognized that there were other kids whose intuitive "feel" for numbers and the relationships of abstract qualities left mine in the dust.

Larry Summers, the President of Harvard, got into big trouble a while ago for suggesting,

"It does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability-there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means-which can be debated-there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population. And that is true with respect to attributes that are and are not plausibly, culturally determined."
Oops!

Now La Griffe du Lion does the math:
The mathematics results revealed a mean (male-female) difference of 0.12 standard deviations2 and a 1.20 (male/female) variance ratio.
La Griffe du Lion
The thing of it is that the male female performance differences don't matter much at the level most of us function at; but Harvard math profs tend to be at the very top of the profession which puts them at the extreme right hand side of the distribution.

Go read La Griffe du Lion...Summers had nothing to appologize for.


Giving multi-culturalism a rethink

Mark Steyn takes a pick-axe to the cult of multi-cult in the Telegraph,

It has been sobering this past week watching some of my "woollier" colleagues (in Vicki Woods's self-designation) gradually awake to the realisation that the real suicide bomb is "multiculturalism". Its remorseless tick-tock, suddenly louder than the ethnic drumming at an anti-globalisation demo, drove poor old Boris Johnson into rampaging around this page last Thursday like some demented late-night karaoke one-man Fiddler on the Roof, stamping his feet and bellowing, "Tradition! Tradition!" Boris's plea for more Britishness was heartfelt and valiant, but I'm not sure I'd bet on it. The London bombers were, to the naked eye, assimilated - they ate fish 'n' chips, played cricket, sported appalling leisurewear. They'd adopted so many trees we couldn't see they lacked the big overarching forest - the essence of identity, of allegiance. As I've said before, you can't assimilate with a nullity - which is what multiculturalism is.
telegraph
It brings up the interesting question whether immigration is about coming to, for example, Canada to become Canadian or is it about coming to Canada to be Pakistani somewhere other than Pakistan.

Canadian orthodoxy, invented to appease Diefenbaker who pointed out that there were rather more Ukranians than French Canadians on the prairies, during the debates on bilingualism and bi-culturalism, suggests that multi-culturalism is the state religion. This makes us ever so different from America. In America you are dumped into the melting pot and you come out an American. Not in Canada. Here we are celebrating our diversity.

The problem with this orthodoxy is that it results in the celebration of a nullity. A Canada reduced to the logotype which purports to be our flag. A nation without history.

In a sense, what the orthodoxy has done is denied everyone in Canada the ability to be Canadian because we have stripped the very idea of Canadian of any meaning at all. Except, of course, that we are not American and have free health care.

Little wonder that Canadian politicians have wasted so much time searching for the Canadian identity. Our own fixation with ensuring diversity and multi-culturalism has left the concept as meaningless as our flag.

7/18/2005

Slavery and Islam

Over at Winds of Change Joe Katzman writes an excellent post on the world of Islamic slavery. It links to this article.

While the mortality rate for slaves being transported across the Atlantic was as high as 10%, the percentage of slaves dying in transit in the Trans Sahara and East African slave trade was between 80 and 90%!

While almost all the slaves shipped across the Atlantic were for agricultural work, most of the slaves destined for the Muslim Middle East were for sexual exploitation as concubines, in harems, and for military service.

While many children were born to slaves in the Americas, and millions of their descendants are citizens in Brazil and the USA to this day, very few descendants of the slaves that ended up in the Middle East survive.

While most slaves who went to the Americas could marry and have families, most of the male slaves destined for the Middle East were castrated, and most of the children born to the women were killed at birth.

It is estimated that possibly as many as 11 million Africans were transported across the Atlantic (95% of which went to South and Central America, mainly to Portuguese, Spanish and French possessions. Only 5% of the slaves went to the United States).

However, at least 28 million Africans were enslaved in the Muslim Middle East. As at least 80% of those captured by Muslim slave traders were calculated to have died before reaching the slave markets, it is believed that the death toll from the 14 centuries of Muslim slave raids into Africa could have been over 112 million. When added to the number of those sold in the slave markets, the total number of African victims of the Trans Saharan and East African slave trade could be significantly higher than 140 million people.
the scourge of slavery
Anyone wanting to run a morally relativistic argument as to the relative strength of the West vs. Islam has to be prepared to deal with the continuing Islamic appetite for slaves....Caliphate anyone?

Moderating Islam

Britain's largest Sunni Muslim group yesterday brought the full weight of Islamic law against the perpetrators of the July 7 attacks on London's transport system, issuing a binding religious fatwa against suicide terror.

Calling the bombings the work of a "perverted ideology," the Sunni Council declared such actions forbidden by the Qur'an, the Muslim holy book.

"Who has given anyone the right to kill others? It is a sin. Anyone who commits suicide will be sent to Hell," Mufti Muhammed Gul Rehman Qadri, the council chairman, told Associated Press.

"What happened in London can be seen as a sacrilege. It is a sin to take your life or the life of others."

The council warned Muslims not to use "atrocities being committed in Palestine and Iraq" to justify acts that pervert Qu'ranic law. It also condemned "those who may have been behind the masterminding of these acts, those who incited these youths in order to further their own perverted ideology."
toronto star
I very much doubt this fatwa will stop al-Qaeda recruits from strapping on bombs and blowing themselves and others to the promised 72 raisins.

It does, however, provide a basis for moderate Muslims to refuse to support or remain silent about the terrorists in their midst. Which is a crucial first step.

Post Modern Shackles

In a word, this version of events brings spiritual calm for millions of troubled though affluent and blessed Westerners. There are three sacraments to their postmodern thinking, besides the primordial fear that so often leads to appeasement.

Our first hindrance is moral equivalence. For the hard Left there is no absolute right and wrong since amorality is defined arbitrarily and only by those in power.

Taking back Fallujah from beheaders and terrorists is no different from bombing the London subway since civilians may die in either case. The deliberate rather than accidental targeting of noncombatants makes little difference, especially since the underdog in Fallujah is not to be judged by the same standard as the overdogs in London and New York. A half-dozen roughed up prisoners in Guantanamo are the same as the Nazi death camps or the Gulag.

Our second shackle is utopian pacifism — ‘war never solved anything’ and ‘violence only begets violence.’ Thus it makes no sense to resort to violence, since reason and conflict resolution can convince even a bin Laden to come to the table. That most evil has ended tragically and most good has resumed through armed struggle — whether in Germany, Japan, and Italy or Panama, Belgrade, and Kabul — is irrelevant. Apparently on some past day, sophisticated Westerners, in their infinite wisdom and morality, transcended age-old human nature, and as a reward were given a pass from the smelly, dirty old world of the past six millennia.

The third restraint is multiculturalism, or the idea that all social practices are of equal merit. Who are we to generalize that the regimes and fundamentalist sects of the Middle East result in economic backwardness, intolerance of religious and ethnic minorities, gender apartheid, racism, homophobia, and patriarchy? Being different from the West is never being worse.
victor davis hanson, nro
Go read the whole article. For people wondering why the Left looks so consitently idiotic on the War on Terror VDH is a good place to start. Largely because he is perfectly willing to recognize that this is a war.

7/17/2005

A duty and a pleasure

Australia's government said that having babies is a patriotic duty and promised to pay accordingly — and its citizens appear to have answered the call.

The 133,400 babies born in the six months ending in September were the most in a half-year period in 14 years, according to recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The government — responding to a falling birth rate, looming labor market shortage and shrinking tax base — had offered to give mothers $2,319 for each baby born after July 1 last year.

In announcing the payments in May 2004, Treasurer Peter Costello told the country: "You go home and do your patriotic duty tonight."

The father of three suggested that two children per couple was not enough to combat the effects of an aging population: "You should have ... one for your husband, one for your wife, and one for your country."
ap
An anonymous commenter here pointed me to this. A similar program has been in effect for years in Quebec.

Now, I fully expect Sean and other hard libertarian friends to land on me for suggesting government payouts for babies. However, the alternative seems to be 300,000 immigrants a year with the costs which that entails both economically and culturally. It makes more economic sense to encourage people already in the country to have families of three or more than to raid talent from developing nations - and the current approach to immigration is, largely, a talent raid where we want the best educated. The very people developing nations can least afford to lose.

As well, given what the feds are willing to piss money away on, taking a few hundred million and investing it in the future makes some sense. The fact is that a nation's only capital is its people and if those people, for whatever reason, cease to replace themselves the nation has only two choices - wither and die or borrow from abroad. Neither are terrifically attractive.

They call me Jed

No, really, where did Harper manage to find a hillbilly hat and biker vest of quite this brilliance? (via iridescent spoke)

Silly Season turns nasty in Iraq

The chattering classes in the US are having great fun with, as John Tierney puts it in the NYT,

For now, though, it looks as if this scandal is about a spy who was not endangered, a whistle-blower who did not blow the whistle and was not smeared, and a White House official who has not been fired for a felony that he did not commit. And so far the only victim is a reporter who did not write a story about it.
nyt
Mark Steyn disassembles Joe Wilson, the ambassador who lied to rather than for his country.

Meanwhile, a rolling series of actual attacks in Iraq are taking lives and bringing the day closer when the Sunni minority may be stuck with the bill for its support of an increasingly murderous terrorist minority in its midst.
IRAQ is slipping into all-out civil war, a Shia leader declared yesterday, as a devastating onslaught of suicide bombers slaughtered more than 150 people, most of them Shias, around the capital at the weekend.

One bomber killed almost 100 people when he blew up a fuel tanker south of Baghdad, an attack aimed at snapping Shia patience and triggering the full-blown sectarian war that al-Qaeda has been trying to forment for almost two years.

Iraq’s security forces have been overwhelmed by the scale of the suicide bombings — 11 on Friday alone and many more over the weekend — ordered by the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
the times of london
Suicide bombers operating with at least tacit support from the Sunni minority are very hard to stop and, more to the point, potentially extrememly deadly. Their use signals the end of anything which might be called an "insurgency" in that they are not, in the main, being directed against anything which might be realistically called military targets. It also indicates that al-Qaeda, knowing full well that it cannot defeat the Coalition has decided to embark on a full scale war against the Shia majority.

Why? In simplist terms al-Qaeda cannot afford to lose or be seen to lose in Iraq. The problem it faces is that it is losing and that is going to become increasingly obvious as time goes by. Suicide attacks do not defeat a determined opposition.

What might defeat such opposition is the creation of conditions in which the Sunni minority become involuntary martyrs to an outraged Shi'ite majority.
Sheikh al-Saghir is close to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the supreme Shia spiritual leader and moderate who has so far managed to restrain powerful Shia militias from undertaking any outright attack on Sunni insurgents.
the times
As the focus of al-Qaeda's terror shifts from the Americans and other coalition troops to Shia civilians the provocation to that community becomes intense. Its own extremists, including Moqtada al-Sadr, are beginning to patrol parts of Baghdad. There are reports of reprisal shootings in the countryside.

A scorched earth strategy in which the Shi'ites massacre the Sunnis would be horrific; but it would, from al-Zarqawi's perspective, count as a victory. The anger at the Shi'ites throughout the Sunni world. The spectacle of the invasion of Iraq turning into a sectarian slaughter rather than the beginning of a transformation of the Middle East.

If al-Zarqawi can achieve this at the cost of a dozen jihadis, while he will not have "won" in Iraq, he certainly will not have lost. And lose he must.

It is armchair generaling of the worst sort to suggest that efforts to capture or kill al-Zarqawi be redoubled. Obviously every effort on those lines is being pursued. However, in a non-military sphere there may be opportunities to prevent the full onrush of the slaughter.

A place to start might be to give greater prominance to the recent declaration that,
According to PETRA, leading Muslim clerics on Wednesday endorsed religious edicts forbidding the declaration of any Muslim an apostate and limiting the issuance of religious edicts to qualified Muslim clerics in the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence.
al bawaba
The declaration is important because it was endorsed by both Grand Ayatollah Al Sayyid Ali Al Sistani, the Shi'ite leader in Iraq and Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Jumaa who many regard as the leading Sunni religious teacher.

Now, there is no chance that al-Zarqawi is suddenly going to lay down arms - after all, his rationale for blowing up Shi'ites is rather clearly stated in his 2004 letter to al-Qaeda,
"These [Shi'ites] in our opinion are the key to change," Al Zarqawi said in the letter. "I mean that targeting and hitting them in [their] religious, political, and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies and bare the teeth of the hidden rancor working in their breasts. If we succeed in dragging them into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis as they feel imminent danger and annihilating death at the hands of these Sabeans."
world tribune (there are more reputable source for the letter)
However, there is every chance that Sunnis and Shi'ites could be made to realize exactly who the enemy is and who the enemy is not. This is critical because the only way to soundly defeat al Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq is to deny them the support of the majority of the Sunnis. Whether better security, ongoing sweeps, bribery or the Sunni's own sense of having backed the wrong horse will do this is difficult to say; but it has to be done and done before the Shi'ites take matters into their own hands on a large scale.


Goodbye

A London-based Islamic radical has praised the suicide bomb attacks on the capital.

Hani Al-Siba’i, an Egyptian-born academic, described the attacks that killed at least 55 people as “a great victory” that rubbed the noses of G8 countries in the mud.

His inflammatory comments come as the government is preparing to create a new offence of “glorifying or endorsing” terrorism, such as praising suicide bombers as martyrs.
times of london
You would think his earlier, completely looney remarks about Blair paying the price for blaming Islamists without knowing for sure, would have had him on a plane to Egypt. Tolerance is a virtue; so is a swift kick.

Irshad Rocks!

She recalls asking Mohamed al-Hindi, political leader of Islamic Jihad, where the Koran glorifies martyrdom; he insisted it was there, but even after looking up books and phoning colleagues, he couldn’t find one reference.

"His translator suggested I better go if I wanted to leave alive," she recalls. "I asked why he had even given an interview, and the translator said, 'Oh, he assumed you would be just another dumb westerner'."
times of london via andrew sullivan
Irshad Manji falls into that rather exclusive category of lefties for whom truth matters more than ideology. The interview in the Sunday Times is well worth reading. A good deal of the support for the radical Palestinians and the Islamo-fascists comes from the sheer number of dumb Westerners whose ideology gets in the way of their capacity to apprehend truth.

7/16/2005

Suicides in waves

At least 58 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack in the town of Musayyib, some 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad.

Police told the BBC the bomber blew himself up near a mosque. The blast caused a nearby fuel tanker to explode.

At least another 80 people are said to have been injured.

The blast, the worst single attack in over two months, follows a week of violence in which 100 were killed in 16 suicide attacks in Baghdad.

On Friday alone, 10 suicide bombers blew themselves up in a wave of attacks across the city.

In a statement posted on the internet afterwards, the militant group al-Qaeda in Iraq said their leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had urged them to intensify their attacks.
bbc
al-Zarqawi is following through on his strategy of blowing up Shi'ites as well as innocent by-standers. Which will what? Well, my bet is that it will stiffen the resistence of the Iraqi government, bring the Shia militias out and make the position of the Sunnis in Iraq very uncomfortable. Which it has to be until they give up the al-Qaeda who are sheltering among them.

The Iraqis have been anticipating an upsurge in the violence. What I am hoping is that the assorted border operations of the past few weeks have shortened the reserves of the suicide bombers - almost all of whom are coming from outside Iraq. But it is likely to be an explosion filled couple of weeks.

As the operational tempo increases on the al-Qaeda side there needs to be an even more determined effort on the Iraqi and American sides to close down the cells and to close the borders.

Has anyone told Lloyd?

Canadian troops will take a more active role hunting down the "detestable murderers and scumbags" of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in southern Afghanistan next year, Canada's top military officer said in comments published on Friday.

Canada is boosting its presence in Afghanistan and by next February there will be 1,500 soldiers in the southern city of Kandahar. General Rick Hillier, chief of the defense staff, said the troops would track down members of the former ruling Taliban and al-Qaeda.

"We're actually going there to take down the folks who are trying to still blow up men and woman in Afghanistan and still provide a base for an organisation like al-Qaeda," newspapers quoted Hillier as saying.....

Hillier also confirmed that Canada's top secret Joint Task Force Two commando force would be taking part in operations in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

"These are detestable murderers and scumbags, I'll tell you that right up front. They detest our freedoms, they detest our society, they detest our liberties," he said.
reuters
Some of the folks in the rightish end of the Canadian blogosphere are taking some relish in General Hillier's remarks. And some suspect he will not be the Commnader of the Canadian Forces very long if he keeps talking like this.

I suspect this is a well calculated move on the part of the Liberals - on the one hand they will have Bill Graham spouting the soft power, Axworthian line, on the other - complete with deniability if anything goes wrong - they'll have "Give'em Hell, Hillier." for those of us who think the Taliban and al-Qaeda are, well, bad.

Never underestimate just how clever the Liberals can be when they are running scared.