Friday, August 31, 2007

ATF Firearms Trace Data

Very interesting. Just quick look at some states and you find that most guns are traced from within the state and then for the most part, from adjacent states. I've primarily been looking at the New England region states and nearby states.

Make you wonder how Mumbles Menino can make statements about NH screwing up his city when in fact more guns are traced from his own state than from NH. The only reason that there are more from NH has a lot to do with the proximity of the population centers.

Unfortunately, the data is really thin. They give you the pretty graphs, but don't let you do any analysis on your own.

So Much for Tort Reform

Got the link from Bruce.

This is just scary. I realize that tort reform isn't something the Dems will ever consider, let alone politicians in general, but this is like putting all lawyers on the public dole.

What am I referring too? Well the House Energy Bill of course.
Among the myriad problems with the House bill for example, is that it allows anyone 'harmed' by global warming to bring suit against any federal agency that fails to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as required in the legislation. Plaintiffs are specifically authorized to recover $1.5 million, and to be compensated for legal fees win or lose, as long as the court determines it to be 'appropriate.'
Here is a congressman's reaction.
Mr. Chairman, this piece of legislation is a license for an unlimited amount of suits against the government by the extreme environmental groups. In fact, this bill pays a $75,000 bounty on top of unlimited legal fees to anyone who sues the government even if, in fact, that suit is based on this body's failure to act. Yes. Lawyers will be telling us, by suing us, that we must do more, and there will be no controls. They can sue in all 92 locations around the country. They can sue for any reason. We will have to pay the bill. When they lose, too bad. When they win, they get paid for taking from us not only 100 percent of their legal fees but $75,000 on top of that.

This is a license for America to be held hostage by the trial lawyers. It was deliberate. It was slipped through the committee. They said it was going to be fixed. In fact, nothing has been fixed; and we have been prevented from having an amendment on the House floor. This is undemocratic, and the Democrats know it.

That's Darrel Issa of California. A Republican. Could this actually be a fiscally responsible politician, and from California?

Who ever wrote that bit of legislation should be removed from office. Maybe their just putting ludicrous sections into the bill as bargaining points so they can try and get through something slightly less stupid. I don't know, but this makes me completely convinced that the Dems have completely lost sight of reality. If they think the US publics displeasure with Bush's handling of Iraq will give them a pass on this level of stupidity, they may want to think again.

This also makes one realize that there are some people who really don't give a damn about controlling spending. How these people live in this world is beyond me.

From Bruce:
Sometimes, I wish these weasly little fuckers would just introduce in Congress the "Complete Dissolution of America Act of 2007". It's time that quit beating around the bush, already, so we can settle this shit once and for all.
I'm there.

Kates-Mauser Gun Violence Study

Rustmeister over at the GunBlog posted the link to the Gun Thing where they discuss this new study.

The results:

In their analysis, Kates and Mauser compared different countries, different population groups and different types of interpersonal violence, homicide and suicide throughout much of recorded history, and found that the old anti-gun axioms that you so often hear are false:

* More firearms do not equate to more homicide or more suicide.

* Fewer firearms do not equate to less homicide or less suicide.

In fact, more often than not, just the opposite is true.

Now to read the article.

I've generally liked Kates' work so I'm sure that this will be pretty disciplined. And you have to laugh about a guy named Mauser doing a gun study.

Oh, here's the direct link to download the study.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

White Gun Culture

OK I admit that I've never gone to a gun show in any southern or western state. I've been to gun shows in nearly every state in the North-East, New York and PA. And frankly, I've never seen what Courtland Milloy mentions in his op-ed.
And go to any major gun show -- into the heart of America's white gun culture -- and you'll find plenty of Confederate flags and supremacist literature on display. And even if everybody at the show doesn't subscribe to those views, the people there aren't offended enough to stay away.
Never seen any supremacist literature and never seen a Confed flag in the show. I don't doubt that it may occur in some venues, but generalizing this way, and other ways in the article are just sad.

"Cop-Killer" Guns Going to Mexico

No shock, this is from the Boston Globe. And they get the facts wrong, again.
Particularly worrisome are US sales of Belgian-made FN-57 pistols. These fire bullets that "will defeat most body armor in military service around the world today," according to the Remtek weapons site on the Internet. They sell for $800 to $1,000 each at dozens of gun stores within a day's drive of the border.

The weapons were unheard of in Mexico until they were used to kill at least a half-dozen police officers this year.

Among them were Mexico City policemen Felix Perez and Jose Rodriguez, slain in May when a car full of suspected mobsters fired FN-57s whose bullets sliced right through the officers' body armor.
Not sure why they think the FN-57 is the culprit. The gun isn't any more dangerous than any other gun that fires ammunition specifically made to pass through "bullet-proof" vests. You can't by that type of ammunition for any gun in the US. It is illegal here. But anyone can make the ammunition for just about any handgun that will penetrate a "bullet-proof" vest. If the story is accurate, they had ammunition that can't be bought in the US and thus had to have been manufactured. The delivery system (the FN-57) in effect is irrelevant.

But in full disclosure, why would the Boston Globe bother to actually point out all of the facts?

Studying the Scientists


In 2004, history professor Naomi Oreskes performed a survey of research papers on climate change. Examining peer-reviewed papers published on the ISI Web of Science database from 1993 to 2003, she found a majority supported the "consensus view," defined as humans were having at least some effect on global climate change. Oreskes' work has been repeatedly cited, but as some of its data is now nearly 15 years old, its conclusions are becoming somewhat dated.
Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte recently updated this research. Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, of which DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.
Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."
The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.
Interesting perspective on the Global Warming Consensus.

Not that I think that a Consensus is important. Frankly the science should speak for itself.

On the other hand, those pushing radical changes in our fossil fuel use are absolutely the worst salesmen I've ever heard of. This isn't a difficult case to make. If global warming isn't being caused by man's dumping of huge volumes of CO2 into the atmosphere, it certainly will have an effect some time.

And let's not forget that there are many other reasons to dump fossil fuels as an energy source. Supports despotic regimes world wide, quantities will at some point become untenable for use. Anything else? Overall, getting the oil monkey off our back is still a good idea.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Legitimacy in the Politics of Iraq

al-Maliki is apparently having a bird over the criticism from the US Dems. Probably should be, considering that many are calling for him to be ousted.
Iraq's beleaguered leader lashed out yesterday at Sen. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats seeking his ouster, saying they're treating Iraq like "one of their villages."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite leader increasingly under fire for failing to make political progress with his country's Sunnis and Kurds, also slammed the U.S. military for aggressive tactics against Shiites.

"There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin," he told reporters, referring to the New York senator and Levin, the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "They should come to their senses."

I'm thinking the politicos in the US are dancing a bit over the line. They seem to forget that a mule tends to resist when forced and that tampering with a legitimately elected government has bad consequences. Max Boot speaks to the Vietnam comparison relating to the ousting of Diem and how the government of South Vietnam never really really recovered. (h/t geekWife)
The problem with Mr. Bush's Vietnam analogy is not that it is inaccurate, but that it is incomplete. As he noted, "The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech." If he chooses to return to the subject in future speeches, there are some other parallels he could invoke:

The danger of prematurely dumping allied leaders. A chorus of voices in Washington, led by Sens. Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton, is calling on Iraqis to replace Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. Even Mr. Bush and his ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, have expressed disappointment with Mr. Maliki. They have been careful, however, to refrain from any calls for his ouster. That's wise, because we know from our experience in Vietnam the dangers of switching allied leaders in wartime.

In the early 1960s, American officials were frustrated with Ngo Dinh Diem, and in 1963 the Kennedy administration sanctioned a coup against him, in the hope of installing more effective leadership in Saigon. The result was the opposite: a succession of weak leaders who spent most of their time plotting to stay in power. In retrospect it's obvious that, for all his faults, we should have stuck with Diem.

Diem's government may have been corrupt, but the ones that followed were as bad and were never seen as legitimate due to the interference of the US. The Maliki government has legitimacy, for the main reason that he wasn't the guy that the US wanted. Politicos should be very careful in playing with the government of Iraq. They could easily make mistakes that end with a government that is much more resistant to the present stabilization work. al-Maliki does have to cry foul when he sees his majority interest being pushed on. The Shiite militias are a problem that he hasn't done much, at least successfully, to secure.

Back to the original article:
Clinton's office declined to respond to Maliki, but one of her Democratic rivals in the White House race, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" the prime minister shouldn't be worried about U.S. politicians.

"I think that Maliki should quit worrying about Democrats and the presidential campaign in America and start worrying about what he needs to do in his own country," he said.

Senator "Silky-Pony" Edwards may want to engage his brain before he opens his mouth. Part of the reason al-Maliki is pushing back is due to the US politicians questioning his viability. All that does is weaken his position to work with the minority groups who will start to view him as weak and likely to be replaced. Why would they then put in the effort to come to any terms with him? That directly effects his ability to deal in his own country.

I do find this a bit hard to take though:
Maliki also criticized U.S. soldiers, saying they kill too many innocents in the hunt for terrorists. He was responding to recent raids in which the U.S. military said it took out Shiite terrorists, but Iraqis said some were civilians.

"There were big mistakes committed in these operations," he said. "The terrorist himself should be targeted, not his family."

Right. The US is obviously a monster for taking out suicide bombers who are hiding among supporters in Iraq. Seeing that they benefit from any news that shows any civilian deaths at the hands of US forces, I doubt that the terrorists would ever allow themselves to be taken without peripheral deaths. Maliki obviously has missed the recent house bombs that the US forces have run into. They are intentionally placed to do major damage and cause collateral damage in the neighborhood. The Arab press obviously blame the US for any deaths even when they are likely to have been terrorists. The US can't win that side of the PR war, but they can be as careful as possible to ensure locals understand they aren't just destroying without care.

Read the Boot article. It's quite informative on the Vietnam comparison and where the US still hasn't quite got it right in Iraq.

Then there is the continued call for a change in strategy in Iraq and the prejudging of the results. Not that the present strategy has actually been given sufficient time to show enduring results, but hey, let's judge and shift before the paint has dried.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday he thinks there is a good chance that President Bush will take a new direction on Iraq following the status report next month from General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker.

Though McConnell said he would not like to prejudge the highly anticipated report on Iraq, but he added that “there’s a good chance that in September we’ll go in a different direction.”

The senator stressed that this would not mean “an arbitrary surrender date,” which is what he is accusing Democrats of trying to do.

“But I think it’s entirely possible that the president will lay out a strategy that takes us into a different place, which hopefully, at the end of the day, ends up with some American troops forward deployed in the Middle East at the end of this draw down that many of us are anticipating over a period of time,” he said on Fox News Sunday.

McConnell criticized Democrats for prejudging the outcome of the troop surge, which Bush set in motion at the beginning of the year, but he reserved his harshest words for the Iraqi government.
Why are these people so impatient? Not that there is any historical perspective to look at, but most insurgencies take time. But hey, the surge started seven months ago, let's just call it a failure and call for a change. The politicians of all colors are just pathetic on this one.
“But by any objective standard, any objective standard, the one thing that there is broad bipartisan agreement on in the United States Senate is that the Iraqi government has been a huge disappointment,” McConnell said. “All of the kind of political compromises that we were looking to them to make, they have not yet made. Maybe it's not too late, but it's time they get about it.”
By their own measure, this congress is more pathetic than the Iraqi government. The question really is, who are they to judge? They aren't the ones serving under threat of death from an insurgency. They aren't there trying to create stability in a sectarian and tribally fractured country. They may hold the strings to the purse that pays for the stability, but they also are in the US which is highly dependent on the Middle-East for energy and support of the world economy. I find it hard to listen to this type of criticism when this same congress can't seem to do anything of real value. And the US public agrees from the look of their poll numbers.

Politics is just so interesting. Or not.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Left Sponsored Military Coup

The Puffington Host really cracks me up periodically. Martin Lewis is asking General Pace to unseat President Bush as CIC. It really makes me wonder if this guy is all there.
General Pace - you have the power to fulfill your responsibility to protect the troops under your command. Indeed you have an obligation to do so.

You can relieve the President of his command.

Not of his Presidency. But of his military role as Commander-In-Chief.

You simply invoke the Uniform Code Of Military Justice.

With all the yelping from the left related to the alleged violations of the constitution by this president, you have to wonder why any one would suggest such a thing and not be open to being placed in the tin-foil sect.

BobG had this quote on his blog that is rather appropriate:
They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq . Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it has worked for over 200 years, and we're not using it anymore.
Kind of inksome, don't you think?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

French on Jogging and Western Civilization

You have to love this one. It is a bit old, but just wonderful.
“Is jogging right wing?” wondered LibĂ©ration, the left-wing newspaper. Alain Finkelkraut, a celebrated philosopher, begged Mr Sarkozy on France 2, the main state television channel, to abandon his “undignified” pursuit. He should take up walking, like Socrates, Arthur Rimbaud, the poet, and other great men, said Mr Finkelkraut.

“Western civilisation, in its best sense, was born with the promenade. Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging is management of the body. The jogger says I am in control. It has nothing to do with meditation.”
I love the french using Socrates, from the culture of the marathon and the Olympics, as an example of jogging being outside the realm of western civilization activities.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More Finger Pointing Over 9/11

Well, that and more confusion.

I guess I was of the belief that the 9/11 Commission had stated that there were barriers between the CIA and FBI that would have disallowed the sharing of this type of information. (Instituted by the Clinton Administration.)
The 19-page report, prepared by the agency’s inspector general, also says 50 to 60 C.I.A. officers knew of intelligence reports in 2000 that two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, may have been in the United States. But none of those officers thought to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the potential domestic threat, the report says, evidence of what it calls a systemic failure.
But since this journalistic prancing around the facts doesn't actually discuss the 9/11 Commission findings around the topic I guess I'll have to look to the blogsphere or go back and re-read the report. (ugh)
Many of the report’s findings about bureaucratic breakdowns that allowed the 19 hijackers to elude the authorities and carry out the attacks have been documented elsewhere, principally by the Sept. 11 commission, but this report by John L. Helgerson, the C.I.A. inspector, was the first to recommend that top agency officials face a disciplinary review.

The full report by the inspector general, totaling several hundred pages, remains classified. As spelled out in the executive summary that was released on Tuesday, the report found neither “a single point of failure” nor a “silver bullet” that would have allowed the C.I.A. to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks. It found that no agency employee violated the law and that none of their errors amounted to misconduct.

Still, you would have thought that there would have been some sanction. I don't like this point:
The recommendation that the agency establish an “accountability board” to determine possible disciplinary action was rejected in October 2005 by Mr. Goss, who was the C.I.A. director and who argued that that punishing top officials “would send the wrong message to our junior officers about taking risks.”
I think it would have been a good lesson. The problem is that they didn't actually take any risks, they just let it sit on the table. And in reality, the people that run the CIA are political appointees and don't ever seem to get sanctioned. If the inner workers understand the liability, maybe they would be the ones to ensure that things are done correctly when the threat is higher.

This report doesn't really do much to solve anything though. Just more political tango.

Monday, August 20, 2007

ATF and Sgt. Yorks Maxim

Seeing that it is in Massachusetts, I'm guessing they will go the way that the ATF suggests. Caught this from Of Arms and the Law to Armed and Safe.
The Nahant Public Library wants to sell one of its most valuable possessions: a German machine gun captured by Army Sgt. Alvin C. York during World War I.
John Welsh, a library trustee, said a bureaucratic tangle soon emerged and hasn’t been resolved. “It’s a machine gun and it’s not registered, so apparently we can’t sell it until we find a legal way to own it,” he said. “We’ve had estimates that it could be worth up to $200,000, presuming we can show its relationship to Sgt. York.”

Both Welsh and deStefano said at least two agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) have listened to the story but offered no recommendations, other than to suggest the machine gun be destroyed.

“Imagine destroying the German machine gun that was captured by Sgt. York just because it’s not registered,” said Welsh, adding that the library trustees’ decision to seek legislative help was equally unproductive. “We didn’t get anywhere. It seems nobody wants to touch the problem and be credited as the politician who put another machine gun back into society. But it’s not like we’re going to sell it to some street gang. Besides, there’s no ammunition.”

According to deStefano, getting permission to sell the weapon could take an act of Congress. Meanwhile, the machine gun captured by Sgt. York remains in an evidence locker at the Nahant police station. The Historical Society has been caring for the Mauser rifle.

Brilliant. There are more than a couple of collectors and museums would love the weapon, and the ATF suggests destruction. Next they'll be stating that they fear it will be used in drive by shootings.

Studying War

Hanson goes into the lack of study of war.

Try explaining to a college student that Tet was an American military victory. You’ll provoke not a counterargument—let alone an assent—but a blank stare: Who or what was Tet? Doing interviews about the recent hit movie 300, I encountered similar bewilderment from listeners and hosts. Not only did most of them not know who the 300 were or what Thermopylae was; they seemed clueless about the Persian Wars altogether.

It’s no surprise that civilian Americans tend to lack a basic understanding of military matters. Even when I was a graduate student, 30-some years ago, military history—understood broadly as the investigation of why one side wins and another loses a war, and encompassing reflections on magisterial or foolish generalship, technological stagnation or breakthrough, and the roles of discipline, bravery, national will, and culture in determining a conflict’s outcome and its consequences—had already become unfashionable on campus. Today, universities are even less receptive to the subject.

This state of affairs is profoundly troubling, for democratic citizenship requires knowledge of war—and now, in the age of weapons of mass annihilation, more than ever.

I think this is also highly indicative of why our politicians are so bloody clueless when it comes to how and why wars are fought. Maybe if they spent more time studying some basic history rather than kissing lobbiest's backsides, they might figure out why Iraq needs to be completed successfully.

It's a long article, but I liked this part:
Military history teaches us, contrary to popular belief these days, that wars aren’t necessarily the most costly of human calamities. The first Gulf War took few lives in getting Saddam out of Kuwait; doing nothing in Rwanda allowed savage gangs and militias to murder hundreds of thousands with impunity. Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and Stalin killed far more off the battlefield than on it. The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic brought down more people than World War I did. And more Americans—over 3.2 million—lost their lives driving over the last 90 years than died in combat in this nation’s 231-year history. Perhaps what bothers us about wars, though, isn’t just their horrific lethality but also that people choose to wage them—which makes them seem avoidable, unlike a flu virus or a car wreck, and their tolls unduly grievous. Yet military history also reminds us that war sometimes has an eerie utility: as British strategist Basil H. Liddell Hart put it, “War is always a matter of doing evil in the hope that good may come of it.” Wars—or threats of wars—put an end to chattel slavery, Nazism, fascism, Japanese militarism, and Soviet Communism.
Go and read.

Gun Buy in Orlando

From the Castle Argghhh!

Not what I'd call a smart article, and again, the guns turned in would have brought a good amount of cash from a pawn shop or were obviously stolen.
Orlando emptied its bureau drawers and closets Friday of more than 300 unwanted guns -- and what was initially thought to be a surface-to-air missle launcher.
Unwanted, you bet. It wasn't a SAM but a MANPADS. A commentor at this site says it's really a expended TOW. [TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) missile] Must have made it an exciting day.
Traded for sneakers or $50 gift certificates, the guns that filled boxes at the Pine Castle Woman's Center on South Orange Avenue would never reach the hands of criminals.

A portable crime scene

And each gun came with a story never to be told.

"No questions asked, right?" asked one man, who questioned the promise of anonymity for everyone turning in a gun.

"Absolutely," said deputies, who described the fellow as looking like an old biker.

Moments later, he returned with a plastic bag and extracted what deputies described as a portable crime scene worth a five-year mandatory minimum sentence in federal prison. The homemade, 40-shot assault pistol turned out to be a cut-down rifle with an illegal short barrel.

"That would scare the pants off you," Rollins said.

Deputies in Pine Castle and Orlando police officers working at a second exchange outside the Citrus Bowl checked each gun against state and federal lists to find out whether it had been reported stolen.

At least four turned in at the Citrus Bowl were hot guns because police say the serial numbers had been filed off in violation of federal law.

Many could not be traced because they were made before 1968, when serial numbers became mandatory for new firearms sold in the U.S.

An unblemished 1903 .32-caliber Colt pistol caught the eye of a knowledgeable deputy who checked the Internet and found it was worth about $1,400.
Great. The criminals dumped their crime weapons, and the stupid through away collectors items that they could have made decent money on.

But no criminals will be getting their hands on, oh, wait. They're the ones turning them in.

Anarchy More Effective Than Government

Interesting, but I still have serious doubts. Guess I need to read more.

Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy discusses it:

At Cato Unbound, economist Peter Leeson has summarized some of his innovative research showing that the anarchy is, at least in many situations, superior to government.

Peter's post is followed by responses by Bruce Benson (himself a leading libertarian anarchist scholar), Dani Rodrik (a prominent liberal economist), and Randall Holcombe, a nonanarchist libertarian scholar. Peter replies to the critics here (quite effectively, in my judgment).

I guess I have to wade through all of this and figure it out.

Wretchard has a long entry on topic.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anonymous Sources

Hanson has a piece at National Review on the use of anonymous sources. I think he doesn't take the theme far enough.
Anonymity on rare occasions may have a place in protecting whistleblowers or honest journalistic sources fearful of retaliation. But lately it is being misused in a variety of different contexts to destroy people and institutions — and as a way for authors of all sorts to avoid responsibility for what they write.
I agree with this. But, anonymous sources, though allowable, should only be used rarely.
What can we learn from all this — while savoring the irony of authors and journalists fudging on their own ethical standards as they race to uncover the supposed ethical lapses of their government officials?

If an “I accuse” author like Scott Thomas Beauchamp or Michael Scheuer avoids using his own name, or reporters like Dan Rather or Michael Isikoff won’t name a source for a potentially history-changing story, there is often a good suspicion why: They apparently don’t look forward to questions about why — and how exactly — they wrote what they wrote.

Instead, anonymity gives them free rein as judge and jury, exempt from cross-examination. This “trust me” practice goes against the very grain of the American tradition of allowing the aggrieved the right to face his accusers.

Sometimes the result of this increasing abuse is more lasting damage to the authors than any temporary discomfort of fending off cross-examination. Beauchamp is now a disgraced storyteller. The New Republic has lost whatever credibility it had regained after its embarrassment several years ago of printing false stories by Stephen Glass, the lying reporter who likewise used anonymous sources.

Scheuer sounds goofier each time he gives an interview — and the credibility of his once anonymously written Imperial Hubris shakier and shakier. Isikoff has never quite recovered his journalistic reputation. We all know what happened to Dan Rather.

And all this nemesis is as it should be. Anonymity is a vicious but seductive Siren that lures its heedless listeners to shipwreck on the shoals.
I think, and from my reading of various military and security sources it appears accurate, that many anonymous sources in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention Lebanon) are fairly often the voice of propaganda for those who appose US efforts. How many anonymous police informants in Iraq have we heard were never vetted by the AssPress or other similar organizations? Even more suspect is the fact that such organizations will use "journalists" and then accept their sources with out independent vetting. This has provided no small number of false reports that the world takes as fact and they ignore the reality of the situation when it is later found to be false. This works very well for those fighting with 4GW methods.

Hanson does point to multiple "journalistic" examples of the improper use of anonymous sources. Sadly, I don't expect that we'll see the use of that tool decreasing any time soon.

NASA, Data, and Bloggers

You've heard this already:
( - NASA scientists this month corrected an error that resulted in 1934 replacing 1988 as the warmest year on record in the U.S., thus challenging some key global warming arguments, but the correction is being ignored, a conservative climate expert charged Wednesday.

Yet at the same time, announcements that support global warming are considered "front-page news," said H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

For his part, James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has called the correction is "statistically insignificant."

Burnett challenged that assertion, saying the correction made it clear that NASA's conclusion -- that the majority of the 10 hottest years have occurred since 1990 -- is false.

"Time after time, Hansen and other global warming alarmists present their data as 'the facts,' and [say that] 'you can't argue with data,' " he said. "Well, it turns out their data is just wrong. And when it's wrong, they want to say it's not important.
But I hadn't heard that the temperature collection method was pointed out to NASA by some guy in his pajamas.
The controversy began on Aug. 4, when blogger Steve McIntyre of the website, sent an email to NASA asserting that the data collected by the agency after 1999 was not being adjusted to allow for the times of day when readings were taken or the locations of the monitoring stations.

According to a blog posting by NASA climate modeler Gavin Schmidt, agency analysts then "looked into it and found that this coincided with the switch between two sources of U.S. temperature data."

"There had been a faulty assumption that these two sources matched," Schmidt said. "The obvious fix was to make an adjustment based on a period of overlap so that these offsets disappear."
Imagine that, another one of those loser bloggers actually was smart enough to show the egg-heads at NASA that they screwed up.


The rest of the article analyzes how the Climate Change Fanatics (especially Hansen) are now saying the data isn't really that important. I wonder why it was so important before.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

MicroStamping Going Federal

Caught this in a Google-news autosearch. But took a second to look around and see it's being discussed elsewhere as well.

Looks like the Union of Soviet Socialist California is going to be moving forward with microstamping. And sadly, looks like the blue bloods of the People's Republic of Massachusetts with help from comrades in USSC are going to try and push legislation in the Federal Government.
While California may be the first state to pass the microstamping legislation, Massachusetts and Rhode Island introduced similar legislation this year and the Maryland Police Department is promoting consideration there. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) intend to introduce legislation to require microstamping on a Federal level.
Great. Hopefully the blue-dogs will stick to their campaign statements and remain on the side of gun rights.

Jeff reminds us of what the consequences of such legislation is:
What’s important to remember is this: If all guns have to stamp a unique code on bullets, that means there has to be a central database of those gun codes — and the gun owners. Sounds like nationwide registration to me.
On balance, I think that this doesn't serve lawful gun owner's interests. The costs are what the anti-gunners want, but those who want to be responsible and capable of defending themselves will be hurt by the costs. And once a gun is stolen or makes it into crime in some other way, how will knowing the original gun owner help solve crime?

Even better, I'm betting on an increase in sales of wheel guns in California.
The legislation, called the Crime Gun Identification Act of 2007, requires that all new models of semiautomatic handgun are microstamped with its make, model and identification number.
I'm still trying to figure out the relevance of the make and model. If this is too work the ID number alone should be enough. The gun registry will have all the rest of the data. Or you could just hand out unique serial number sets that are indicative of the maker and model just like MAC addresses on network cards today.

Bush Addresses the most Recent Threat to the US

Over at IMAO, they have a hilarious clip on a Bush press conference with regards to Zombies.

Spinning Petraeus' Report

No real surprise that the spinning is already started. The problem is that this starts to gel the mind set of the various parties on what the results are rather than reading the report and making a decision from there.
Lawmakers are trying to anticipate what the top U.S. commander in Iraq will say in the report, gaming out how the other side will spin it, and then trying to figure out how to react to the spin.

Led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Democrats say they fear that Bush’s handpicked commander in Iraq will paint an unreasonably rosy picture of the progress on the ground.

“I’m very concerned that they will kick the can further down the road or talk about a few anecdotal successes that they’ll try to pass off as the situation in Iraq,” Pelosi told a group of journalists recently.

Republicans say that the Democrats are unwilling to accept the good news that’s coming in about Bush’s initiative. U.S. commanders are already touting that large, al Qaeda-style attacks have dropped 50 percent since the troop increase started six months ago.

“Liberal Democrats are going to approach this with closed minds and open mouths,” said Brian Kennedy, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

The political stakes are high, especially for Republicans and President Bush. Centrists who have stuck with Bush on the increasingly unpopular war have pointed to September and Petraeus’s report as the point at which they will re-evaluate their support for the war.
The real shame is that only the shrillest of voices will be reported for the most part. Pelosi and Boehner are both essentially disqualified from reasoned discussion due to where they sit in the political battles. No doubt you'll need to decide at what level Petraeus fits into the political distortions as well, but I'm willing to give him more benefit of the doubt for an honest report than any politician.

This bit is interesting as well:
The benchmarks to be evaluated in the report include de-Baathification, distribution of oil revenue, disarming militias, reducing sectarian violence and increasing the capability of Iraq Security Forces.
Disarming militias? What about the arming of militias? In some areas the residents have been armed by the military to assist in their own security. This is generally a method that shows promise, but there seems to be little understanding that this does go on. (and that it's a good thing in controlled circumstances.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Under Reporting When it's Convinient

There is a large military action in Diyala province at this time, and when you do a google-news search for the operation name you get very limited responses. Now is that because the news in general is ignoring the action or due to Google being a lousy news search engine?

Action like this shows some good signs that the military is working quite hard on eliminating the terrorists and insurgents. But, the MSM seems to think this isn't worth reporting.

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, said the troops were pursuing al-Qaida cells that had been disrupted and forced into hiding by previous operations.

"Our main goal with Lightning Hammer is to eliminate the terrorist organizations ... and show them that they truly have no safehaven—especially in Diyala," he said in a statement.

The military did not immediately provide results from the operation because it was in the beginning stages.

Spokesman Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly said the effort would not interrupt operations in Baqouba, where U.S. forces have flushed out al-Qaida and Shiite militiamen who had fomented a virtual civil war there.

"We are not drawing down in Baqouba at all, in fact, we are in the build and hold portion of the operation there," he said.

The military has claimed success in quelling the violence in the city, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, as well as in the capital, but it also acknowledges that Shiite and Sunni extremists fled to outlying areas where attacks have been increasing.

This is about the only good thing in the article. Unfortunately, the political front is slowly drying up and blowing away.
The sinking fortunes of al-Maliki and his Shiite-led administration have become something of a second front for Washington.

Al-Maliki appeared to have cleared the way, with a last-minute push from U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, for a crisis council that seeks to save his crumbling government, but the timing of the meeting was uncertain.

Al-Maliki's government—a shaky coalition of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds—has been gutted by boycotts and defections. A full-scale disintegration could touch off power grabs on all sides and seriously complicate U.S.-led efforts to stabilize Iraq.

Al-Maliki has struggled over the past days to pull together a summit of Iraq's main religious and ethnic groups. The meeting finally appeared likely after Crocker called on Vice President Tariq al- Hashemi, the lone Sunni Arab invited to the talks. Al-Hashemi's attendance had been in question.

A senior American official, who spoke in Baghdad, said Monday that the stage was set for major changes in the "structure, nature and direction of the Iraqi state." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the planned gathering.

But ending the political impasse would likely require concessions from al-Maliki's embattled government toward Sunnis, who account for up to 20 percent of Iraq's population but complain they have been sidelined in trying to rebuild Iraq after Saddam Hussein.

Without all the portions of the solution pushed toward conclusion I just don't see success coming. I understand that this is difficult, but all sides have to concede something in order to reach some stability in the short term. And those that want the US out of Iraq the most seem to forget that the sooner they can stabilize the sooner the US will be leaving.

Then of course, you get the anonymous sources news section:
A police officer in Sadr City, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information, said the four civilians were killed and five others were wounded as American and Iraqi troops backed by helicopters, conducted house-to-house searches in the sprawling area in eastern Baghdad.

Associated Press photos showed the body of 3-year-old Zahraa Hussein lying in a wooden coffin, her white nightdress stained with blood. Police said she and her father had been struck by shrapnel while they slept on the roof of their house seeking comfort from the heat.

Spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said he had no reports of civilians killed in the operation.

"I can't confirm that our operation did that," he said, referring to Hussein's death. "We work very hard to avoid any injury to civilians."

Since it's sourced by the AssPress, I'm going to guess that this is highly unreliable. Not that the AssPress has ever reported unvetted sources before. Nope, never seen that.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bullet-Proof Backpacks

Got this from Schneier. I take it he's being sarcastic when he states:

We've seen calls for transparent backpacks. Here's a call for bulletproof backpacks, which -- I presume -- go hand in hand with bulletproof textbooks.

With this kind of thinking, we'll have the school shooting problem licked in no time!

Here's a quote from the article.
It's time for parents to make the annual trek to get back to school items, which usually includes jeans, jerseys and a few notebooks.

NewsCenter 5's Pam Cross reported Thursday that a couple of North Shore men want parents to consider something else -- a bulletproof backpack.

"They have them with them on the floor, on their laps, on the bus. They always have a backpack," said Joe Curran, of My Child's Pack.
"If the kid has a backpack next to them, or under the desk, they can pick it up, the straps act as a handle and it becomes a shield," Curran said.
Yeah, that'll work. I guess if you use it right it may mitigate some risk, but more likely than not you'll just make yourself a more obvious target.
"I want to keep my kid safe. I don't care what you do -- if you want to fight the good fight or fix the world's hurts, I can't help you, but my kids are going to be safe because of these backpacks," Curran said.
Hmm. I'm thinking the text books I used to carry would be just as effective and cost less.

Well, whatever you're willing to buy someone is willing to sell.

Pushing Out Santa

I hadn't realized that the US is part of this movement to claim the North Pole.
The pristine, resource-rich Arctic is a growing area of dispute (Spiegel) thanks to climate change. The shrinking polar ice cap has led to rival claims among the eight countries with Arctic borders: the United States, Russia, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark (via control of Greenland). The competition tests the international accord (PDF) that governs oceans and seabeds like never before. The Law of the Sea Treaty gives a nation the option of expanding its ocean economic zone—over which it has exclusive resource-development rights—beyond the two-hundred-mile limit off its coasts if it can prove that the seafloor is actually an extension of its geological territory. The United States is weighing whether to claim up to six hundred miles (USA Today) off the Alaskan coast, but some experts contend U.S. failure to ratify the treaty may complicate the issue. CFR fellow Scott Borgerson argues that the Arctic situation may require a diplomatic solution (IHT) similar to the one in place for Antarctica, where “countries bordering the Arctic could settle their sovereignty disputes in an organized and transparent way.”
I'm willing to bet that not being part of the Land of the Sea Treaty doesn't negate the US claims. In fact, I'd wager that our standing is as valid as any due to our rather potent ability to enforce our claims. This one will likely just end up in the UN as a international treaty that goes beyond the Land of the Sea Treaty.

The Most Important Quiz Ever


Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

I found this over on View From The Porch where Tamara, who I would expected to score in the high 90's only got up into the 70's.

Nyarl, ruthless bastard that he is, is likely to score even higher. than I did.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

People's Republic of Massachusetts Seeing a Decline in Gun Ownership

BOSTON - The number of licensed gun owners in Massachusetts is falling.
In the past six years, gun licenses have dropped by 25 percent, a decline driven by more restrictive laws, higher fees and a gradual change in culture, according to law enforcement and gun owners.
Much of the drop-off is centered in the state’s urban areas.
In Boston, Springfield, Fall River and Waltham the number of licensed gun owners has fallen by at least 30 percent, according to statistics from the state’s Criminal History Systems Board reported by the Boston Sunday Globe.
The only areas to see an increase in gun owners were 40 mostly smaller communities in the central and western parts of the state. Some of the exceptions were Weston and Brockton in the eastern part of the state that also saw increases.

Many point to the state’s 1998 Massachusetts Gun Control Act as one of the main reasons for the decline.
Of course, they also pull out a quote from the imbecile, uhh, police chief of Quincy:
"Fewer firearms on the street makes life safer for everyone," said Quincy Police Chief Robert Crowley. "The average citizen who has a gun 24-7 I don’t believe has the experience, knowledge and training to know when and if they should use a firearm."
I'm betting the same can be said for him and a lot of his officers.

Dodging Company Computer Security

Wall Street Journal article on how to dodge the most common security policies in big companies.
There's only one problem with what we're doing: Our employers sometimes don't like it. Partly, they want us to work while we're at work. And partly, they're afraid that what we're doing compromises the company's computer network -- putting the company at risk in a host of ways. So they've asked their information-technology departments to block us from bringing our home to work.

End of story? Not so fast. To find out whether it's possible to get around the IT departments, we asked Web experts for some advice. Specifically, we asked them to find the top 10 secrets our IT departments don't want us to know. How to surf to blocked sites without leaving any traces, for instance, or carry on instant-message chats without having to download software.

But, to keep everybody honest, we also turned to security pros to learn just what chances we take by doing an end run around the IT department.

Most of the things they list are pretty well known, and companies with real security have made it very difficult to impossible to use some of these. I got a kick out of some of the blogs ranting against this article. Computer World has this blog entry on topic.
I understand why the security people are unhappy with the WSJ for publishing this piece.

But the security people should understand that, on this one, they're dead wrong.

Not a little wrong -- completely, 100% wrong.

And I'm really appalled to think that serious security professionals believe what the WSJ published was a bunch of deep, dark secrets to corporate users.

I have to agree. Those people that are going to misuse company resources know these things and a lot more. The rest of the workers will just live with limitations and be good. They have a few links from blogs that have some irritated security professionals. Frankly, their complaints are pretty lame overall.

Here's one that is pretty fanatical, and quite pathetic.
I anticipate Ms. Vara being vilified by mainstream InfoSec professionals for this article, and well she should. Teaching users how to “Search For Work Documents At Home” or “How To Store Work Files Online” is a stupid thing to do, no doubt. But the IRM community should explain to Ms. Vara that she is not a professional risk analyst, does not have a clue as to what the most probable Threat Community Actions, Attack Vectors, or consequences of a Loss Event are, her “How To Stay Safe” suggestions are impotent, and as such - she would do very well to shut her piehole.
Rhetoric like this is a touch childish. Reasoned discourse this is not. I also haven't seen any discussions on how to mitigate these risks. Instead of name calling doing something constructive would have been much more interesting and instructive. Well, it is a blog, though one disguised in professional trappings.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Driving Cars Better for the Environment than Walking

Yeah, I thought that too. Or maybe not.

This is a weird article that I'm not really sure I can believe.
Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance. The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes. Provided, of course, they remembered to switch off the TV rather than leaving it on standby.

The sums were done by Chris Goodall, campaigning author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, based on the greenhouse gases created by intensive beef production. “Driving a typical UK car for 3 miles [4.8km] adds about 0.9 kg [2lb] of CO2 to the atmosphere,” he said, a calculation based on the Government’s official fuel emission figures. “If you walked instead, it would use about 180 calories. You’d need about 100g of beef to replace those calories, resulting in 3.6kg of emissions, or four times as much as driving.

“The troubling fact is that taking a lot of exercise and then eating a bit more food is not good for the global atmosphere. Eating less and driving to save energy would be better.”

Mr Goodall, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon, is the latest serious thinker to turn popular myths about the environment on their head.

I'm going to bet that this has more truth in the UK than here in the US. For some reason I think they have a higher car efficiency there, but I have absolutely nothing to back that up with.

Eugene Volokh
, whose site I found this at has this comment.
Some such demands may indeed be quite sound, and there certainly are real environmental hazards. Poisoning our neighbors, and ourselves, is bad, if there are alternatives that poison less at acceptable cost. (Recall that some degree of environmental harm is inevitable to get important benefits; to give a simple analogy from the context of biological poisoning, we put our fellow citizens at risk of contagious disease whenever we walk near them, even when we seem asymptomatic, but we think the benefits of such interaction exceed the cost.) But I'm cautious about jumping on bandwagons in this field, and the more strident the bandwagoneers, the more I wonder whether they've really examined the tradeoffs dispassionately, carefully, and thoroughly.
Odd thing is I do think that many extreme environmentalists would prefer to be killing off humans rather than finding realistic solutions.

I also love this statement from the article:
Catching a diesel train is now twice as polluting as travelling by car for an average family, the Rail Safety and Standards Board admitted recently. Paper bags are worse for the environment than plastic because of the extra energy needed to manufacture and transport them, the Government says.
And maybe my thought on their car efficiency is sound (maybe not) but the rest of their economy isn't sounding too great by this statement:
Simply cutting out beef, or even meat, however, would be too modest a change. The food industry is estimated to be responsible for a sixth of an individual’s carbon emissions, and Britain may be the worst culprit.

“This is not just about flying your beans from Kenya in the winter,” Mr Goodall said. “The whole system is stuffed with energy and nitrous oxide emissions. The UK is probably the worst country in the world for this.

Which makes me wonder just how much worse the US is. Larger population, many more commuters, less fuel efficiency. Food transported longer distances in some cases probably is just as much of an aggravating factor as the UK has.

Get this list from the end of the article:
— Traditional nappies are as bad as disposables, a study by the Environment Agency found. While throwaway nappies make up 0.1 per cent of landfill waste, the cloth variety are a waste of energy, clean water and detergent

— Paper bags cause more global warming than plastic. They need much more space to store so require extra energy to transport them from manufacturers to shops

— Diesel trains in rural Britain are more polluting than 4x4 vehicles. Douglas Alexander, when Transport Secretary, said: “If ten or fewer people travel in a Sprinter [train], it would be less environmentally damaging to give them each a Land Rover Freelander and tell them to drive”

— Burning wood for fuel is better for the environment than recycling it, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs discovered

— Organic dairy cows are worse for the climate. They produce less milk so their methane emissions per litre are higher

— Someone who installs a “green” lightbulb undoes a year’s worth of energy-saving by buying two bags of imported veg, as so much carbon is wasted flying the food to Britain

— Trees, regarded as shields against global warming because they absorb carbon, were found by German scientists to be major producers of methane, a much more harmful greenhouse gas


Monday, August 06, 2007

FISA Update

So they finally passed something. Most conservatives are still angry about what it took to get us there. I guess I'm not particularly surprised, but for the more moderate, at least it got done.
The crux of the problem is this: Earlier this year, a judge with the special federal intelligence court charged with overseeing FISA ruled part of the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance efforts in effect since 2001 to be illegal (the Bush administration had operated the program separately from FISA, but that changed after the existence of the surveillance program was leaked by the New York Times.) The practical result of this ruling was to block the National Security Agency's efforts to collect information gathered from foreign telephone calls, e-mails and faxes which are routed through fiberoptic connections in the United States. Back in 1978 when Congress passed FISA, telephone calls from Pakistan to Egypt or from Afghanistan to Great Britain weren't routed through servers in this country; today, the odds are such messages would come through the United States. The failure to modernize the law has two primary perverse results: 1) the NSA cuts back on surveillance of terrorist targets, and 2) phone companies become reluctant to respond to intelligence agencies' requests for help for fear of lawsuits from "privacy rights" advocates.
NRO also points out that FISA really is constitutionally questionable.
That task has never been more vital than it is today, when transnational terror networks, seeking access to weapons of enormous power, vow to attack us after killing nearly 3,000 Americans. Yet our defense is hindered by an improvident and outdated legislative scheme, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA was an overreaction to Nixon-era abuses, which included employing the CIA to conduct domestic spying on the administration’s political enemies. FISA purports to require that the president, before monitoring foreign communications, satisfy a federal court (specially created by FISA) that there is probable cause to believe the surveillance target is an “agent of a foreign power.”

We say “purports” because FISA is of dubious constitutionality. Foreign-intelligence collection is a plenary executive responsibility that judges are neither constitutionally authorized nor competent to oversee. Further, most of the targets of such surveillance are “non-U.S. persons” — a technical term meaning neither American citizens nor permanent resident aliens. “Probable cause” is a standard intended to prevent domestic law enforcement from breaching, by search or arrest, the privacy rights of American citizens. Most non-Americans, and especially aliens situated overseas, have no constitutional right to, and no expectation of, privacy from monitoring by U.S. intelligence agencies.
I've read some on the topic with the latest agitation, and I still don't see where those who see this as carte blanche for the government to spy on the US citizen get their ideas.

I think Orin Kerr has a good (and brief) review of the legislation.
So what does the legislation do? As I see it, there are three key parts of the new legislation. The first change is a clarification that FISA warrants are not needed for "surveillance directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States." That is, if the government is monitoring someone outside the United States from a telecom switch in the U.S., it can listen in on the person's calls and read their e-mails without obtaining a FISA warrant first. The Fourth Amendment may still require reasonableness in this setting when one or more people on the call of e-mail are inside the U.S. or are United States citizens, but there is no statutory warrant requirement.

The second change is a requirement of a formal authorization of a program to do such monitoring. The Director of National Intelligence and the AG have to approve a program (for up to one year) reasonably designed to be limited to the monitoring of persons outside the United States. Those procedures have to be submitted to the FISA court, which then reviews whether the Executive's conclusion that the procedures are reasonably designed to only pick up the communications of people reasonably believed to be outside the U.S. is "clearly erroneous." If the conclusion is clearly erroneous, the court sends them back and tells the Executive to try again. The government can also appeal that determination to the FISA Court of Review and if needed the Supreme Court. I'm not exactly sure, but my sense is that this is a one-size-fits-all order; that is, the one authorization covers all the providers.

The third change -- and probably the most important, albeit something that a lot of people will overlook -- is that ISPs and telcos have to comply with the program. They will get compensation for their time and effort "at the prevailing rate," and they can challenge the legality of the program in the FISA court, but they can't opt out of the program if it is held to be legal. In effect, the government's certification of the program is akin to a court order; it makes the program mandatory instead of optional. So long as the program passes legal muster, the providers have to go along with it; if they refuse to cooperate, the FISA Court can hold them in contempt. (Note that the providers can't be held civilly liable for their mandatory participation in the program, either.)
Read the rest.

Uptight French President

Man, this guy should just relax.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, rarely shy in front of cameras, found enough was enough Sunday when chased down by two news photographers while boating in his bathing suit on his American holiday.

Sarkozy angrily confronted two photographers and even jumped aboard their boat when they snapped pictures of him and his family, one of the photographers told AFP.

"Zut alors! French president loses his temper on Lake Winnipesaukee," was the banner headline Monday on the front-page of the local newspaper, the Union Leader. It ran with a photograph of an upset Sarkozy pointing his index finger directly at the photographer.
I can understand being irritated, but jumping into the photographer's boat is a bit over the top.

Too bad he had such an experience in NH. Unfortunately there isn't any law against jackass photographers.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Banning Reincarnation

I check out Drudge every once and a while for a laugh. He links some of the most bizarre articles. This is one that I doubt I would have found on my own.

I think China has gone too far in this cases.
Tibet’s living Buddhas have been banned from reincarnation without permission from China’s atheist leaders. The ban is included in new rules intended to assert Beijing’s authority over Tibet’s restive and deeply Buddhist people.

“The so-called reincarnated living Buddha without government approval is illegal and invalid,” according to the order, which comes into effect on September 1.

Ummm. Yeah.

Something missing in translation maybe?
For the first time China has given the Government the power to ensure that no new living Buddha can be identified, sounding a possible death knell to a mystical system that dates back at least as far as the 12th century.

China already insists that only the Government can approve the appointments of Tibet’s two most important monks, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama’s announcement in May 1995 that a search inside Tibet — and with the co- operation of a prominent abbot — had identified the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, who died in 1989, enraged Beijing. That prompted the Communist authorities to restart the search and to send a senior Politburo member to Lhasa to oversee the final choice. This resulted in top Communist officials presiding over a ceremony at the main Jokhang temple in Lhasa in which names of three boys inscribed on ivory sticks were placed inside a golden urn and a lot was then drawn to find the true reincarnation.

Great. Wonder who they'll recognize as the next Panchen Lama. Probably some stooge from the politburo.

Undercover Journalist Outed at Defcon

Just too funny.

NBC's mole, Michelle Madigan, became the target of predators herself this afternoon when she was outed at DefCon as an undercover reporter and bolted out of the conference hotel with about two dozen reporters with cameras and others chasing after her -- in the manner of an NBC Dateline To Catch a Predator episode.

According to DefCon staff, Madigan had told someone she wanted to out an undercover federal agent at DefCon. That person in turn warned DefCon about Madigan's plans. Federal law enforcement agents from FBI, DoD, United States Postal Inspection Service and other agencies regularly attend DefCon to gather intelligence on the latest techniques of hackers. DefCon holds an annual contest called Spot the Fed, in which attendees out people in the audience they think are undercover federal agents. The contest is good-natured, but the feds who get caught are generally ones who don't mind getting caught.

DefCon staff say that Madigan was asked four times -- two times on the phone and two times at the conference -- if she wanted to obtain press credentials, but she declined.

DefCon staff lured her to a large hall telling her that the Spot the Fed contest was in session and that she could get a picture of an undercover federal agent at the contest. When she sat down, Jeff Moss, DefCon's founder, announced that they were changing the game. Instead of Spot the Fed, they were going to play Spot the Undercover Reporter and then announced, "And there's one in here right now." Madigan, realizing she'd been had, jumped from her seat and bolted out the door with reporters carrying cameras chasing after her through the parking lot and to her car.

That's a bit of Karma for you.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Second Amendment Literalists Winning

Interesting article from NRO by Ramesh Ponnuru. I have to say I don't like how he phrases things.
But Bloomberg, the media, and the gun-control groups have lost the fight. In July, the House appropriations committee voted 40–26 to keep the Tiahrt amendment — rejecting both a proposal to eliminate it and a compromise. Thirteen Democrats voted for the amendment. The Senate appropriations committee voted to keep it, too, with five Democratic senators on the winning side.

Bloomberg is wrong: The Democrats are not “in charge” of Congress, at least when it comes to guns — the National Rifle Association is.
Sorry, this is rhetorical BS. The Gun Rights Voters are the ones in charge. The NRA is merely one of their mechanisms. This gibbering again postures the NRA as a large evil lobby rather than the lobby of 4 million citizens.

Another Corrupt Politician and More Political Games

To no great surprise they are investigating Ted "Bridge-to-Nowhere" Stevens. Not that the Senate will be taking any ethics stand on this one. No doubt he will be charged right in the heat of the '08 election. I've no evidence that the investigators are politically motivated, but after the glacial investigation of Jefferson Davis with charges only coming after the election, one is really challenged to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Despite pressure to remove Ted Stevens from the powerful Appropriations panel, Senate leaders of both parties closed ranks behind the Alaska Republican Tuesday and refused to follow the House’s example of removing members under investigation from key committees.

As the GOP corruption scandals that rocked the 2006 elections continue to simmer, Senate Republicans courted political risk in backing the influential Alaskan, the longest-serving Republican senator in history and former Appropriations chairman. To counter charges of ethical laxity, they attacked a lobbying overhaul bill drafted behind closed doors by
Democrats, calling it weak and leaving open the possibility of attempting to derail it by week’s end.

The FBI and the IRS raided the senator’s Alaska home Monday in a growing corruption probe that also has snared Alaska’s lone congressman, Don Young (R). The state’s junior GOP senator, Lisa Murkowski, is facing a separate ethics complaint from a government watchdog group regarding a land sale struck with a business partner of Stevens’s.

Stevens would not comment Tuesday, but his office said in a statement that the senator has done nothing wrong.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) both said Tuesday that Stevens could continue serving on his Senate panels, since charges have not been brought against him.
Sorry, but being the senior Repub on the Appropriations committee really sends the wrong message about ethics reforms is he is left standing. And, it also sends a bad message to the voters when they allow him to remain.