Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Iraqi bridge stampede

I couldn’t believe my eyes this morning when an alert flashing on my monitor told me that 500 Iraqis had died during a stampede on a bridge on the river Tigris, in Baghdad. I waited and looked for confirmation but it is now clear that the toll is worse than that. Gatewaypundit has an excellent round up and also an underreported item about a rally in Kut, in favor of the constitution with 12,000 participants.


Site Meter tells me that I have had 1000 visitors! It might not be much to you but to me it is important.

Thank you all!

EU starving the developing world

Activists usually blame the inaction of rich countries for killing people in poor countries.

According to Ronald Baily, it could instead be a case of too much action:

Anti-biotech European regulations are spooking the governments of poor countries into preventing their farmers from growing the new genetically enhanced crops. And that’s a shame, because researchers in laboratories and plant breeding stations around the world are endowing new biotech crop varieties with traits like disease resistance and improved nutritional value.

For example, researchers are trying to save bananas and plantains from commercial extinction in the coming decade. Bananas and plantains rank fourth as a staple crops after rice, wheat, and maize, providing food for nearly 400 million poor people. Unfortunately, bananas and plantains, are rapidly succumbing to global plagues like black sigatoka and a new variety of Panama disease. As a result, yields have dropped by half in many poor countries.

Then there is golden rice. Golden rice was the first crop developed specifically as a nutritional enhancement for hundreds of millions of vitamin A–deficient poor people whose main staple is rice. In the developing world some 500,000 people per year go blind due to vitamin A deficiency.

A new version released this year, containing genes from corn (maize) has boosted the amount of beta-carotene per serving to 50 percent of the RDA.

Finally, there is the case of disease resistant cassava. Researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center near St. Louis, MO, has developed a cassava plant that resists the devastating effects of cassava mosaic virus. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out that African subsistence farmers produced 108 million tons of cassava in 2004, more than two-and-a-half times the amount of corn they produced. But African farmers could produce a lot more if it weren’t for the cassava mosaic virus.

The Danforth Center’s genetically improved cassava is now ready for field testing, but because of concerns about the reaction of the European Union and anti-biotech activists, no African nation has had the nerve to approve such tests yet.

Not surprisingly, the constituency of anti-biotech environmental groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth is not poor African and Asian farmers and their families, but affluent and easily frightened European consumers. In response to ferocious pressure ginned up by the misleading campaigns of ideological environmentalists, EU politicians and bureaucrats have built an all but impenetrable wall of anti-biotech regulations around themselves. Wielding these onerous crop biotechnology regulations, the EU, on specious safety grounds, has essentially banned the importation of most biotech crops and foods. But these regulations do not only have consequences for European farmer and consumers.

Even more tragically, some developing countries are so afraid of the EU’s anti-biotech wrath that they are willing to risk the lives of millions of their hungry by rejecting food aid that contains genetically enhanced crops.

Sadly, everything has become a political issue and it is now impossible to trust reports on biotech, ecology, global warming. Numbers are manipulated to score political points, not to describe facts. The various activists seem to have played a self-defeating game here, since no one believes their alarmism anymore. The problem is that we all lose if we play this game instead of seriously looking for solutions.


Welcome Roger L. Simon readers! Stick around, enjoy and come back often!

Oil for Food: the saga continues

The nine U.N. agencies involved in the oil-for-food program have agreed to pay Iraq about $40 million in oil proceeds they received in 2003 to finish their work but never spent, United Nations officials said Tuesday.

Yet the Volcker probe promised to investigate the nine because of an "apparent lack of transparency and oversight" in the way they spent the money allotted to them.

The nine agencies involved are: the U.N. Development Program; UNESCO; the World Food Program; the Food and Agriculture Program; the World Health Organization; U.N. Habitat; the U.N. Office for Project Services; the International Telecommunication Union; and the U.N. Children's Fund.

I hope this is only a first step in the right direction. As I said earlier, UN agencies covered their backs by carrying out external audits, but these were specifically instructed not to look at their purchasing offices' procedures and contracts and limit their inquiries to cash transactions and the like.


Mayor Livingstone to be disciplined

As they caught Al Capone on a pretext, I hope this will lead to his permanent ousting:

London mayor Ken Livingstone will face a disciplinary hearing over comments made to a Jewish journalist.

He will appear before an independent panel and could be banned from office for five years if it rules against him.

He could be banned from office, suspended, told to apologise, censured or told to go for training.


Mugabe goes for broke

Zimbabwe parliament has approved a number of constitutional amendments that make Zimbabwe officially an outlaw of civil society and will further scare away investors:

The bill has raised serious concerns among human rights groups and the political opposition, who are worried about how the draft puts certain actions of the government beyond the reach of the judiciary.
The government will now, for example, be able to expropriate land without being challenged in court.

One opposition MP raised the concern that vague wording meant it could affect someone growing cabbages in his back yard.
Another clause will give the government the right to withdraw passports or travel documents, again with no possibility of judicial appeal - opponents of the measure fear that it will be used to keep government critics on a tighter rein.
The changes also reintroduce the Senate, the upper house of parliament that was abolished in 1987. The president will be able to appoint 16 of the 46 senators, in addition to the 30 MPs he already appoints to the lower house. President Robert Mugabe is expected to use this as an opportunity to bring back into parliament certain favoured former MPs and ministers who lost their parliamentary seats in the election earlier this year.
The new bill also includes a proposal to bring private schools under state control.

President Mugabe has repeatedly changed the constitution during his 25 years as Zimbabwe's leader, but the latest changes are the most wide-ranging amendments ever put forward.
Most attention, though, has focused on the clause to deny the right of appeal to farmers whose land has been seized. The government says it will conclude the land question.

The opposition says the move would further undermine property rights, deepening the country's economic crisis.

The horror! The horror!


Bird flu

I don’t know if this is an electoral stunt, a political ploy, but, whatever the reason –if it is true – I find myself in the strange position of praising France:

France is taking extra measures to protect itself against bird flu, stockpiling drugs and vaccines and reinforcing health checks at airports.

The World Health Organization has said that if the virus mutates and becomes capable of human-to-human transmission, a devastating pandemic is "inevitable".
"Reserves of anti-viral medicines, vaccines and protection measures for the population will be increased to the levels required to ensure the health of all French citizens in the event of any pandemic," a French government statement said.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hariri investigation

The commander of Lebanon's presidential guard is one of the five men arrested by Lebanese police on Tuesday in connection with the February assassination of former premier Rafiq al-Hariri. The arrest of the presidential guard's Mustafa Hamdan, follows the detentions of three former top pro-Syria security officials, and a former member of parliament.

Jamil al-Sayyed, former chief of the General Security Directorate, Ali Hajj, ex-head of police, and Raymond Azar, ex-head of military intelligence, were arrested in dawn raids at their homes. MP Nassir Qandil was also arrested.

Before taking over his post as chief of police, Al-Hajj was for 10 years the commander of a group of bodyguards assigned to protect Hariri.

The suspects are all closely linked to Lebanon's pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud…

Let’s see Assad wriggle out of this one.

Zimbabwe self-sufficient soon

Urban residents in Zimbabwe endure frequent power cuts.
On Sunday state media announced a 100% rise in electricity tariffs in a further blow to Zimbabwe's struggling consumers.
The state-run Herald newspaper reported Monday that the government would soon embark on an ambitious programme to conserve desperately needed fuel and electricity.
…local pig farmers want to apply for funding from the central bank for a project to generate electricity from pig manure…According to Paul Ndiweni, director of the Pig Industry Board of Zimbabwe, the "technical aspects of the project have already been worked out."

The IMF can go to hell, says embattled Mugabe.

NB: when I read the first article, I couldn’t stop laughing. It was clearly trying to give the impression that pig manure would solve Zimbabwe’s energy problems. I decided to help a little by changing slightly the order of the clippings; mad Bob deserves no less.

Bolton at the UN

If you are curious about what Bolton’s been up to (I know I am), read this post on Hugh Hewitt’s blog. He says Bolton is breaking the china at Turtle Bay.


Good news from Iraq

Don’t miss this week Chrenkoff’s good news; you won’t find this stuff on the official media.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Human cannonball

This will complicate immigration procedures...

Fighting on two fronts

Today's Times Online publishes another pathetic attempt to discredit Tony Blair, rehashing - badly - the old refrain of "they attack us because we are in Iraq":

ATTEMPTS by Tony Blair to deny a link between the occupation of Iraq and last month’s London bombings were further undermined yesterday by the leak of a letter by a top diplomat.
Correspondence was published showing that Sir Michael Jay, head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, gave warning a year earlier that Britain’s foreign policy was a key factor in recruitment by extremist organisations.

This is outrageous; you would expect to read such drivel on a tabloid. Sir Michael Jay, according to the article, recommends adjusting Britain's foreign Policy to the terrorists' demands. Mr Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, put it very well:

...that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it's given the game away...

Here the scribbler is plainly trying to sell a lie; he takes as a given that Blair denied the link between the London bombings and the liberation of Iraq, when he never did that.

“Most people with common sense would say there is probably some link in terms of making it easier to recruit extremists from the Muslim community.” ....

Which, of course, is exactly what Blair said in reply to the usual stupid question:

Look Angus, as I have tried to say when people have asked me about this, there is absolutely no doubt that these terrorists will use Iraq as a reason, and before Iraq Afghanistan, and before Iraq and Afghanistan, around September 11, they used different justifications. But I think most people understand the roots of this are deeper, and we have also got to be careful of getting ourselves in the frame of mind where we see what they are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan now, which is basically the same terrorist ideology, killing innocent people, of having any sort of justification at all. And so I don't doubt that they will use these issues wherever it suits them to use them, but nothing can excuse or justify what they have done, and if you look at the roots of this they are far, far deeper.

And again the next day:

Question: You said that it was being used to recruit more people, more terrorists, and act as a motivator for them. Now I understand the argument of cause and effect and saying that Iraq didn't cause as you put it the London bombings, but is the effect that we are going to have more terrorists now, that we have got a recruiting sergeant out there?

Prime Minister: You know you can go through all these arguments, and I went through them at the press conference. I think the real point is that people will use, they will use whatever issue is there, because you go back to September 11 and that was before Iraq and Afghanistan and they were using something else then, and if you got rid of all these issues they would use something else, and if you look at what they use in respect of Saudi Arabia, or Turkey, or Egypt or any of these other countries where terrorist acts happen, they will always use something different. I think most people understand that the roots of it go deeper and that is really what I was trying to say at the press conference earlier, and I think, and as I said this morning, and I probably said it more than enough, people can debate this issue forever, but I think most people recognise there is absolutely no excuse for what has been done.

To watch the appeasers squirm and being reduced to outright lying in order to be noticed is reassuring. However, we should not forget that we are at war and an article on the Times that echoes the words of Al Zawahri is no help at all. If we add to a corrupt media the various Galloways, Livingstones, and the like, it is easy to see that we are fighting terrorism on two fronts.

Let’s not misunderstand the word “democracy”. Democracy does not mean we should put up with terrorists' sympathizers, does not mean we should let those who take money from our enemies go around free to spread their propaganda, does not mean we should bear the insults and lies of collaborators.

Their opportunism and intellectual dishonesty should not go unchecked and unpunished.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Venezuela protest

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- A street march by hundreds of Venezuelans opposed to President Hugo Chavez turned violent on Saturday, when people believed to be government supporters threw rocks and tear gas canisters at the protesters.

Roughly 1,000 demonstrators marched through the capital to demand that election authorities, who are viewed by government opponents as pro-Chavez, be replaced before upcoming congressional elections.

Six people were injured when people believed to be Chavez supporters attacked the march, launching powerful fireworks and throwing bottles, rocks and tear gas canisters at protesters, Caracas Fire Chief Delio Martinez said.

Something is moving again. About time.

Placebo effect

I am really glad this has come out at last:

Now a study from a team in Switzerland and the UK has conducted a meta-analysis of 110 existing clinical trials of homeopathic medicine and concludes that the treatments offer no benefit over placebo.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Knowing the truth helps

People with friends or relatives serving in Iraq are more likely than others to have a positive view of the war.

"He talked about all the good things that are going on," said Chittum, a school superintendent and a political independent who supports the war effort. "Schools are opening up. The people are friendly, wanting our help. You get a whole different spin from what you get on television."

"From most of the information I get, the people over there fighting basically are proud to be there and feel they're doing something good,"

Let’s see…does this mean that most newspapers and broadcasters are lying? Nahhh…I can’t believe it!



Oil- and gas-rich Mauritania's foreign minister Ahmad Walid Sayd Ahmad on Friday signaled his country's foreign policy - especially its diplomatic relations with Israel - were not about to alter as a result of the change of government earlier this month.

This is good news, especially in light of al Qaeda interest in North Africa.


Paris burning

According to CNN, all the dwellers of the building that caught fire in Paris on Friday, four months after a similar tragedy killed two dozen immigrants, were on the dole. So, on one hand you have unemployed people living off the state, without skills, abandoned to their destiny. On the other hand the State, paying unemployment subsidies to these immigrants forever, keeping them in old an dangerous buildings that become ghettoes and hotbeds of crime.

What sick politician could ever have come up with such an immigration policy, selling it - no doubt - as a humane initiative in the name of solidarity? Is this integration?

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Unreliable allies

As usual, Italy has shown the world how unreliable a friend and ally it is. All the characters in this confused story are suspect:

The two Simonas, for years working in Iraq under the Bath regime, with declared sympathies for the insurgents. It is very likely that they set up the whole “kidnapping” with a little help from the Italian left, to embarrass the government and mobilize public opinion for the withdrawal of Italian troops.

Ms Sgrena, “journalist” of an Italian propaganda sheet of the extreme left, il Manifesto, famous for its lies, support for terrorists and vitriolic attacks against democracy. She went to Iraq not to find the truth but, by her own admission, to find or create proofs of her insane and paranoid ideas. She has strong links to the terrorists’ supporters in Italy, the various leftist movements collecting money the help the beheaders. It is very likely again that the same actors were involved for the same reasons. During her “liberation” mr Calipari, an Italian secret agent, was killed at an American check-point (now at least we know for sure that they were trying to avoid having to explain their actions to coalition forces).

Berlusconi. Aware that the kidnappings might well have been a trap laid by the left to his government, he probably and naively did his best to get the “prisoners” freed, paid a ransom and looked the other way when the Red Cross “informally” told the government the conditions for the liberation (ransom, curing terrorists and their families, etc.).

Scelli, commissioner of the Italian Red Cross. Praised as a hero when the two Simonas were freed, has now decided to tell his truth. Why? And why now? Has he been promised a political career by the left?

The row broke out when Red Cross commissioner Maurizio Scelli told the Italian newspaper La Stampa, in an interview published on Thursday, that US officials were not told about the deal and the decision to keep it from them was approved by cabinet office undersecretary Gianni Letta, a close aide of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The next day after his explosive declaration, he started to retract:

Scelli himself also began to play down the government's involvement, telling Italy's La Repubblica newspaper on Friday: "We carried out this operation in total autonomy and neutrality. " But he reiterated: "I informed Letta and told him the solution we were offered. Letta told me to go ahead with great caution. The fact that we kept the Americans in the dark was my request, and to this day, I honestly don't know if the government then informed them or not."

Was he feeling lonely?

He also expressed his bitterness at being abandoned by the government. "Obviously the heroes are always those who die. Those who stay alive, however, insult you without even a word of thanks. I put my life at risk in those days as well," he told La Repubblica.

Whatever the reasons that prompted Scelli’s revelations, Berlusconi is right at least in this:

Berlusconi, on holiday in his Sardinian villa, is reported to have said: "Scelli is either naive or irresponsible. Doesn't he understand that discretion is fundamental in the sector he operates in?", before expressing concern that the whole affair could further damage Italy's relations with the United States.

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Mugabe is our fault

I am not having a fit of relativism, but let’s be honest: Mugabe is our fault.

When he had his opponents murdered in the ‘70s to eliminate competition for the post of head honcho we pretended not to see; when he was carrying out the genocide of the Matabele, we looked the other way; when he embarked in the whole-sale looting of the DR Congo we kept quiet; when he threatened and intimidated the judiciary, and bombed independent newspapers nary a word was spent to condemn him. The atrocities that soon followed were to be expected.

The truth is, Mugabe has not changed at all. He has always been a bitter and revengeful arseshole, with very limited intelligence and full of contempt for the people of Zimbabwe.

It was convenient in the early ‘80s to fete and praise him, hoping that this would keep him happy and he would not transform himself in the typical president for life; it didn’t work - it never does - and usually it has the opposite effect on weak minds, who feel emboldened by the hypocrites who laud them.

Even today, those who attack him feel obliged to recall how progressive and democratic he was at the beginning of his reign; but this, too, is a lot of politically correct poppycock. Mugabe, unintelligent but street-smart, had simply understood how to keep the aid money flowing; when it finished (with very little to show for it, apart from a few schools and hospitals) he had to find ways to entrench himself (he had already committed so many atrocities that could only feel safe by remaining in power) and had to start to take decisions: all wrong, all tragic, all stupid.

Despite the numerous examples on the continent he could have learned from – have you noticed how all African dictators consumed and destroyed the initial enthusiastic aid money and the inherited colonial infrastructure in about 15 years from independence before starting to really act up? – he persisted in following the same route, pinning the blame for his failures sometime on the west, sometime on homosexuals, more often on imaginary “enemies of the people”.

Today Mugabe probably feels betrayed, and with reason. He must be asking himself: “why attack me now when you all knew from the beginning where I was going?”

We should have acted a long time ago to avoid the ruin of the one country that could have lead the continent to the 21st century.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Zimbabwe encourages foreign investments

Recently, South Africa Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma questioned the wisdom of "smart sanctions" imposed on the Zimbabwean government by Western countries, particularly the European Union (EU). How can you attract foreign investments if your country is the target of international sanctions, she argued?

Fair enough, you might think, especially when Mugabe is putting so much effort in creating a friendly business environment to reassure investors and entice them to put their money in Zimbabwe:

A bill forcing all foreign-owned mining companies operating in Zimbabwe to cede 30% of their shares to indigenous business people is ready to be tabled in parliament.

A slate of amendments that critics warn will seriously reduce constitutional protections and freedoms in Zimbabwe cleared a first vote in Parliament.

Zimbabwean officials want custom duties to be paid for about 6 000 blankets given by South Africans to victims of the government's recent mass demolitions campaign.

Zimbabwe, which is battling a host of economic challenges, will become a prosperous country through "God's grace and intervention", said vice-president Joyce Mujuru.

A PROTRACTED price war between bakers and the government, resistant to free-market principles, has had a devastating impact on the baking industry.

The annual inflation rate soared to 254.8% at the end of July, up from 164.3% in June, according to official statistics.

About 5 000 starving families in Zimbabwe could be fed for a month. There's just one snag: red tape [waiting for a clearance certificate from President Robert Mugabe's government] is keeping the trucks carrying the food from reaching their destination.

As the trial of a High Court judge arrested for allegedly obstructing the course of justice gets underway in Zimbabwe, law experts say the proceedings are likely to bring the independence of the judiciary under close scrutiny once more.

Book well in advance!


Unacceptable behaviour

The Home Office today published a list of "unacceptable behaviours" which will lead to the deportation or exclusion of any foreign national who commits them from the UK.

Fair enough, but I want to know what they are going to do to Galloway.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bin Laden wounded

Thanks to Rantburg, we learn that Osama Bin Laden might have been injured in Afghanistan during an attack on a Spanish base.

Osama bin Laden has been wounded in Afghanistan, according to two different reports carried by various Islamic websites. Referring to the al-Qaeda leader as Abu Abdullah, the second message, which appeared on Wednesday, said: "Mullah Ahmadi, military leader of the Badr brigades, which form part of the al-Qaeda organisation in Afghanistan, has confirmed that Sheikh Abu Abdullah has been injured in his left leg."

If thoughts of gangrene, infections and amputations come to your mind, it’s ok.


Another televangelist

After the delirious pronouncement of Pat Robertson, asking for the US to assassinate Hugo Chavez - the guy is completely nuts; I mean, if you want to do it, you don’t go and announce it, no? ;-) -, another pathetic and ridiculous fatwa to draw attention (look ma, no hands! type of thing):

Iran's hard-line Revolutionary Guards have declared the death sentence on British author Salman Rushdie is still valid - 16 years after it was issued.

Khamenei and Robertson should get together; in a mental hospital.

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Iraq constitution

There has been a lot of hype lately on the MSM about Iraq becoming another Iran, its constitution being based on a fundamentalist view of Islam and so on. No doubt it is all part of the same negative reporting we have been seeing for years.

Luckily for me, I read one of the few intelligent newspapers in Europe (il Foglio) that prefers informed and documented analyses to easy alarmism.

I was further comforted by Micheal Ledeen's comment on The Corner:

First, there is hardly a country in the region without some language acknowledging Sharia as either "the" or "a major" basis for national legislation. But Iran, for example, says that Allah is the sole source of authority, while the Iraqi constitution says that the people are the only legitimate source of authority. This in itself is a revolutionary event.

The new constitution makes Iraq a Federal Republic, NOT an "Arab Republic," which is again revolutionary. And the federal nature of the new republic is revolutionary for the whole region.
My favorite newspaper, il Foglio, comments: "All the neighboring countries (Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia) and also more distant ones (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria) have trouble facing the spread of a democratic Iraq, of a Constitution born from true multiparty elections, and now a new innovation has been added: the...decentralization of power."

Back to war, but a proper one

Since I doubt very much that the Taliban have developed some kind of warrior fairness overnight, this is likely another sign that terrorists’ indiscriminate violence against innocent people is not paying off:

Taliban fighters will not attack polling places during parliamentary elections next month, to avoid killing civilians, but will continue to attack American and Afghan government forces, a spokesman for the group said Monday.

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Fair is fair downunder

This seems to echo Tony Blair’s recent statements; it was a long time in coming but hopefully it will be taken up by the rest of the world:

One of the recommendations at Prime Minister John Howard's terrorism summit yesterday was for Islamic schools to be encouraged to denounce extremism and teach about Australian traditions and culture.

"We want them to understand our history and our culture, the extent to which we believe in mateship and giving another person a fair go, and basically if people don't want to support and accept and adopt and teach Australian values then, they should clear off."

If they want to live under sharia law, they can go to Canada.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

EU looters

If you ever wondered why eurocrats defend the Common Agricultural Policy so strenuously, now you know:

It has been revealed that Holland's agriculture minister, the country's most prominent opponent of farm subsidy reform, receives 190,000 euro each year to prop up farms he owns in France and Holland.

CAP apologists insist that the handouts aid small farmers - a claim comprehensively undermined by recent revelations.
Campaigners are hopeful that other EU nations will be forced to reveal where taxpayers' money is being spent in the name of the CAP: Information is slowly trickling out from Ireland and Estonia, while Spain may become the next big nation to reveal the destination of its payouts. Top of the campaigners' list, however, is the single biggest beneficiary of the CAP and the nation most resistant to both transparency and reform: France.


South Africa backpedals already

Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma keeps missing opportunities to shut up and wants to join the “notMensa” club of distinguished ministers that compose the south African government:

"Now tell me, if you are a business person and you hear your country has sanctioned the president of that country [Robert Mugabe] are you going to go running there with your investments? You are not," she said.

Which, of course, is the whole point of imposing sanctions. Or she thinks that rigging elections should be only frowned upon? (She could be thinking of the future…).

Dlamini-Zuma said although the sanctions - imposed by the United States and the EU after intimidation and violence in Zimbabwe's general election in March - targeted individuals, they had a general effect on the country.

If they keep this rhetoric up, South Africa could be the next in line.

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Saddam the chameleon

We all know Saddam Hussein is a coward, but this last-ditch attempt to avoid the gallows is pathetic:

"I sacrifice my soul and very existence to the Arab cause and liberation of our homeland," Saddam writes. "Life is meaningless without the considerations of faith, love and inherited history in our nation."

Not even Kofi Annan would fall for it.



What is the world coming to? I would never have thought I would find myself in agreement with Pat Robertson (chuckle):

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, said on "The 700 Club" it was the United States' duty to stop Chavez from making Venezuela a "launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."



Al Qaeda’s bad reputation

It is always pleasant to be proven right by facts. Two weeks ago I said:

It would appear that, contrary to current opinion that equals terrorists to “evil geniuses”, they have an uncanny tendency to shoot themselves in the foot.

Now we learn of more botched attempts to create chaos in Saudi Arabia:

The terrorist organization piled up more failures and defeats, adding to their growing reputation as loudmouthed losers.
First, Saudi Arabian police cornered and killed the head of al Qaeda operations in the kingdom last week. In another battle, fifteen Islamic terrorists were killed in a three day gun battle. The terrorists used women and children as human shields, which did little for their heroic reputation. The Saudis used special police for these operations.

I hope they keep it up.

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Bird flu

I think it is important that everyone keeps up to date on the progress of avian influenza and the scientific and political establishment’s efforts to prevent it.

Instapundit has a good round-up of the latest news:

Canadian Tamiflu sales jumped to more than 76,000 prescriptions in the 12-month period ending in June, compared to 22,000 prescriptions in the entire 2004 calendar year, says IMS Health, which compiles drug sales data.

Dr. Fred Aoki, an antiviral expert at the University of Manitoba, sees little wrong with the idea of individuals putting aside a cache of antivirals, as long as they learn how to properly use the drugs, which he believes are very safe.

People have been emailing me asking what to do in response to the avian flu reports. "Nothing, yet," is probably the best answer -- it's the public health people who need to be getting their act together at this point -- but there's probably no harm (other than the financial variety) in asking a doctor for a prescription, and getting it filled, now. And to the extent that this causes production to be ramped up in advance of an outbreak, it might do some small good.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Zimbabwe future

Blogcritics has published this piece I wrote about a possible outcome of the Zimbabwe impasse (a previous article on terrorism self-defeating tactics can be found here):

Like a reverse King Midas, everything Mugabe touches is changed into waste.

The latest of his blunders is changing the constitution – yet again – so that the rightful owners of the farms he has stolen cannot challenge the confiscations in court.

One way out for Mugabe, perhaps the only one (short of suicide) at this point, is to provoke a crisis that would justify the introduction of martial law, immediately followed by a military coup (with his support in exchange for protection). His recent promise to allocate stolen land to 6000 members of the armed forces hints at some kind of agreement.

Read it all!


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Losers in Ecuador

The two big losers of Latin America, decades behind from the rest of the world, namely Castro and his new found admirer Chavez, don’t like to feel isolated and forgotten by history. They are stirring all sorts of unrest in neighboring countries; first Bolivia, now Ecuador:

To close the circle we saw Hugo Chavez declaring yesterday in Caracas "surely up north they will blame me for the turmoil in Ecuador..." A latin adage pertinently describes Chavez unsolicited mea culpa: "Excusatio non Petita, Accusatio Manifesta". Besides it is quite difficult to imagine a Lula fighting for his political survival or a prone to be re-elected Uribe having the time to stir revolts regionally, after all who's Castro's heir? Who's the reincarnation of Che?

Do they think that to fail together is to fail less?


The Pope and Islam

Benedict XVI addressed an Islamic audience in Cologne and didn’t mince words:

The pope spoke of terrorism striking in "various parts of the world" but did not mention any specific attacks, assess responsibility or speak directly about suicide bombings. It appeared significant, however, that he chose a Muslim audience for his remarks on terrorism as many recent attacks have been blamed on Islamic extremists.

Reciprocity should be the key to our relations with the Arab world and we should insist on it at all levels. It is surprising that this simple concept, that should be the basis of any diplomatic relationship but has been taboo until now, has been finally brought into the open by the Pope. Hopefully, other heads of state will now have the courage to demand it and enforce it.

In his meeting with Muslim leaders, Benedict also alluded to another of his themes — the need for reciprocity in religious freedom for Christians and other minorities in some Islamic countries. He didn't name any but said the defense of religious freedom "is a permanent imperative and respect for minorities is a clear sign of true civilization."

Strong words for a pope. Good show.


Bird flu

Migratory ducks and waders could bring bird flu to Britain this winter, experts have warned, after the disease was found in wild flocks in Russia.

The disclosure is likely to force European governments to step up control measures.

Ministers and the World Health Organisation believe a global flu pandemic in the next few years is inevitable and fear it could potentially cause millions of deaths worldwide and hundreds of thousands in Britain.

Be prepared.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Iran’s who’s who

Michael Ledeen, knowledgeable of all things Iran, gives us a short biography of each of Iran’s new cabinet members (a bunch of crooks if there ever was one). In addition, he asks what we are going to do about Iran and its murderous activities (by their own admission, as I noted recently).

Meanwhile, the mullahs are killing us. Time published a long report from Baghdad on August 14, entitled "Inside Iran's Secret War for Iraq," which lays out chapter and verse of the mullahs' longstanding efforts — often coordinated with Assad's Syria — to drive us out of Iraq. It is the first time I've seen a major publication confirm what I reported months before Operation Iraqi Freedom: planning for the terror war against Coalition forces in Iraq "began before the U.S. invaded." And Time quotes a "British military intelligence officer about the relative inattention paid to the murderous Iranian activities. 'It's as though we are sleepwalking'."

It is high time we stop pretending that this is a normal regime negotiating honestly for its rights; we cannot expect Europe, with its shady affairs and skeletons-in-the-cupboard to act decisively. The US must act now in support of the Iranian people and in its own interests.

The seemingly inescapable fact is that Iran is waging war on us, we are well aware of it, and we are not responding, even though most Iranians are dreaming of the day that the United States supports them against the mullahs. Hardly a day goes by without anti-regime demonstrations in one Iranian city or another, involving students, workers, intellectuals, and even some very important clergymen. The number of Iranian dissidents on hunger strike is growing. Akbar Ganji hovers between life and death in a hospital in Tehran. Yet, aside from occasional statements of compassion, there is no hint of action from the Bush administration.

I think the President could do worse than listen to Micheal Ledeen when he says:

Enough already. Let's roll.

Gaza withdrawal

Charles Krauthammer pinpoints the meaning of the Gaza withdrawal and the future of Israel after it. His conclusions:

The Gaza withdrawal is not the beginning but the end. Apart from perhaps some evacuations of outlying settlements on the West Bank, it is the end of the concession road for Israel. And it is the beginning of the new era of self-sufficiency and separation in which Israel ensures its security not by concessions, but by fortification, barrier creation, realism and patient waiting.

Waiting for the first-ever genuine Palestinian concessions. Waiting for the Palestinians to honor the promises -- to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism -- they solemnly made at Oslo and brazenly betrayed. That's the next step. Without it, nothing happens.

Read it all.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Carnival of Elections

Afghan legislative elections to be held next month.

Egypt presidential elections campaign are under way.

Pakistan is holding local government elections.

Burundi to elect president today.

Merkel announces cabinet ahead of Germany polls on 18 September.

Liberia opens political campaign period.

Don’t puke

As if the various scandals involving Kofi Annan and his family were not enough, UNDP is now openly financing terrorist propaganda (I use the term “openly” advisedly; they have been at it for years through the good offices of UNRWA).

… not all that cash is going to alleviate poverty. Instead, some of it is funding a Palestinian political campaign under the slogan, "Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem."

UNDP has also been giving money to organizations tied to Hamas (search). One UNDP bank transfer request, obtained by FOX News, shows the organization giving thousands of dollars to a Jenin-based organization with links to the militant group.

Perhaps this is why the Palestinians are so impoverished; not much you can do if you get t-shirts, mugs and bumper stickers as aid.


Points of view

Niger's women and children starve as men hoard food.

Noura Abdurrahi's four children were crying from hunger, and she knew there was food in the house. But her husband, Musa, had locked it away, out of her reach, when he had left to search for work the previous week.

Now I understand why the President commented:

President Tandja: 'The people of Niger look well fed, as you can see'.

Mil palabras

Better than a thousand words.

Nano breakthrough

This is pretty exciting, and it’s industry ready!

An advance in nanotechnology may lead to the creation of artificial muscles, superstrong electric cars and wallpaper-thin electronics, researchers report.

Gaza withdrawal

It does not matter what your political views are, the scenes of the young settlers fighting their evacuation from Gaza are sad and moving.

These people have been used by politicians and found themselves overtaken by history. We have seen it before, in Kenya, in Rhodesia; people encouraged by their government to emigrate and settle new lands, made to feel like pioneers, and working hard to create their little paradise out of nothing.

The price Sharon is paying is high, but it will expose the international pretense that once Israel withdraws from Gaza a viable Palestinian state would arise from the ashes. Nobody, of course, really believes this; in fact they are all afraid of the possible outcomes, and that is why the situation has been allowed to drag on for years. Egypt will now have to take over from IDF and, at last, take responsibility for the Gaza strip. We shall see how they like it and how much they will enjoy a fundamentalist state at their border.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Blogging from Word

I am testing this. So far it is a bit of a mess (it could be me):

1) No matter what your settings are, it asks you for a title;

2) It is slow;

3) Does not see a highlighted block of text and will publish the full page.

Let me know if you have a better experience!

The Pope to be charged

A lawyer who's suing Pope Benedict for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of children by a seminarian says he'll challenge U.S. diplomatic recognition of the Vatican if the pope is given immunity as a head of state.

The Pope is to be charged for facts connected to the scandal of the pedophile priests that took place when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

I have not seen anything on the Italian press except for this. Strange.


Daily picks

Israeli troops finalize evacuation of Gaza.

Saudi forces fight terrorists in Riyadh.

Thousands of left-wing militants demanded Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva step down.

Mugabe rejects Chissano mediation.

200 homemade bombs rattle Bangladesh (some say 500).

If you want to be informed about bird flu facts and developments, this is the blog for you.

And ecologists plan to relocate African wildlife to North America.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Saudi Arabia to promote tourism

An hilarious look at Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry (by a Saudi):

RP: So anyone can fly into Riyadh or Jeddah and just pick up a visa at the airport?

M: Men can, certainly, and married couples, as long as they can prove they're married, so they'll need to bring a Marriage Certificate, four copies translated into Arabic and certified by a lawyer. Not a Jewish lawyer, naturally. Women, on the other hand, will need to be sponsored by someone inside Saudi Arabia.

RP: And what about couples who aren't married, or gay couples?

M: Well as you know, we behead homosexuals, and stone adulterous or loose women to death, so it's probably best if we don't let them in the first place, otherwise there'll be no end of paperwork.

RP: So men and women will be able to go swimming up there?

M: Certainly

RP: Together?

M: I didn't say that. Swimming together, as you know, is un-Islamic. Most hotels only allow the men to go swimming. However there are one or two already that are more relaxed, and allow men to swim in the morning and women in the afternoon.

Read it all!

Daily picks

Israel begins evacuation of Gaza settlers.

Bomb blasts shake Bangladesh.

Mugabe to resume clean-up. This time he will target orphans and beggars.

Three car bombings in Baghdad, two at a bus stop and one at a hospital, kill 40. And they still call it “resistance”?

Another installment of “Good news from Iraq” from the indispensable Chrenkoff.

Islam and women. Don’t miss it.

Avian influenza at Foreign Affairs: The Next Pandemic?

And this year “Mr. Perfect Husband” finalists are up! (ht: Gateway Pundit)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bird flu

Russia Reports Bird Flu Dangerous to Humans Spreading Towards Europe.

To know more and be prepared, read my previous posts about it.


Scarcely noticed

The democratic rallies in the Maldives continue. The Maldives Freethink Blog comments:

The education that " ah-Sheikh al-Akh al-Ustaaz President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom al-Azhari" received in the 50' and 60's from pyjama-clad mullahs in Cairo is not what we need for the Maldives if we want modernity and progress. We should move on.

I could not agree more.

Helicopter crash

A Spanish helicopter has crashed near Herat in Afghanistan. All seventeen soldiers on board died. My heartfelt condolences to the soldiers, and I hope the infamous Zapatero will not feel compelled to withdraw the troops from Afghanistan as well.


Oil for Food

A scathing summary of UNSCAM by Mark Steyn:

Despite the current investigations into his brother, his son, his son's best friend, his former chief of staff, his procurement officer and the executive director of the UN's biggest ever programme, the Secretary-General insists he remains committed to staying on and tackling the important work of "reforming" the UN.

Some “moral authority”.

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Get insulted today!

Via Winds of Change, the North Korea propaganda machine. An example from the NK insult generator:

"You black-hearted political dwarf, we will thwart your frantic attempts to stifle us!"

Get insulted today!

Iraqi constitution

If you want to understand the critical issues being discussed by the various Iraqi leaders before the text of the constitution is finalized, read this analysis on MEMRI.

The article highlights 18 contentious issues and their possible resolutions.

Daily picks

Iraqi constitution delayed one week.

Good news from Iraq (thanks to the blogosphere).

Gaza settlers given until Wednesday.

An earthquake of magnitude 7.2 hit Japan, but a tsunami warning was lifted.

Afghan Army kills 21 Talibanis and arrests six.

Police raid Cyprus crash airline looking for documents.

Nerve stem cells made from human stem cells have been created.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Red on red

As I noted earlier, terrorists are making mistakes. Bill Roggio of The Fourth Rail reports another red-on-red incident (enemy-on-enemy):

Rising up against insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, Iraqi Sunni Muslims in Ramadi fought with grenade launchers and automatic weapons Saturday to defend their Shiite neighbors against a bid to drive them from the western city, Sunni leaders and Shiite residents said. The fighting came as the U.S. military announced the deaths of six American soldiers.

Zarqawi is in a bind. His plan to foment civil war between Sunnis and Shiites is now being opposed by his Sunni "allies". Sunni tribes are tiring of his violence against fellow Iraqis, even against non-Sunnis.

This is very encouraging.


Daily picks

The Observer rehashes the usual clichés to criticize Blair’s anti-terror policy.

Senator McCain agrees with me that in dealing with Iran the military option cannot be taken off the table.

Iraqis are trying to finalize their constitution; the deadline is today.

Israel launches its Gaza pullout this morning, while Palestinian Authority policemen are deployed near the settlements to prevent terrorist attacks to disrupt the process.

A lieutenant of al Zarqawi has been killed by Iraqi forces; al Zarqawi himself could be hiding in north Iraq.

Indonesia and Aceh rebels agree to end 30-year conflict.

Something is happening in the beautiful Maldives. It looks like a democratic demonstration has been brutally crushed; Publiuspundit is on it.

And thanks to Bad Comedown, I can show you an exclusive picture of two dragons fighting over the Himalayas.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Air crash

The Boeing 737 was flying from Lanarca in Cyprus to Athens when it crashed onto a mountain on the Evvoia peninsula.

Apparently the F-16s that flanked it after the S.O.S. reported that they could not see the pilot but they saw the co-pilot slumped on his seat.

A passenger sent a SMS to his cousin, waiting for him at Athens airport, saying:

“The pilot is dead, we are freezing. I know we won’t see each other again”

Very strange.

Oriana Fallaci

Today Libero publishes an exclusive interview with Oriana Fallaci by Father Andrzej Majewsky, chief editor of the Polish public TV. Excerpts (the translation is mine, bear with me):

Islamic terrorism is only a facet, a side of the strategy adopted to carry out the global offensive called Islam Awakening. An awakening that does not manifest itself only through massacres but also through its secular expansionism.

To say that the war in Iraq is the cause of Islamic terrorism is a fraud to trick fools. There was no war in Iraq the 11th September 2001. The war declared to us by Bin Laden had been going on for years.

All evil that Muslims perpetrate against us and themselves is written in the Koran. It is not a question of race, it is a question of religion.

I know very well that by saying this I am risking jail. I know very well that for me jail means death. All the same I am defying the new Hitler-Jugend that would like to kill me. Since nobody says all this and someone must say it, I have to say it myself.

The interview will appear on the next issue of Przegląd Powszechny; look for it online soon because it is worth it.

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Iran and EU (update)

Desperately trying to regain some popularity, Mr. Schroeder has issued (yet again) an irresponsible statement, knowingly playing in the hands of the mullahs:

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has warned the US to back away from the possibility of military action against Iran over its nuclear programme.

One never takes ANY options off the table when negotiating with totalitarian regimes.

"This is why I can with certainty exclude any participation by the German government [in a military action] under my direction," Mr. Schroeder tells the paper.

He should not worry; he will not be given the chance: he is a little man and he is finished. Sadly we have seen this movie already:

In the 2002 poll, he came from behind to snatch victory after anti-Iraq war feeling - and an outbreak of serious flooding in Germany - helped him attract last-minute support.

No wonder the dream of a European union is looking more and more like a nightmare.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Iran and EU

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Iran's chief nuclear affairs negotiator, and Supreme National Security Council member Hosein Musavian.

There is nothing that You or I did not know already, but it is a slap in the face of the EU who pretended to believe them:

"Thanks to our dealings with Europe, even when we got a 50-day ultimatum, we managed to continue the work for two years. This way we completed (the UCF) in Esfahan. This way we carried out the work to complete Natanz, and on top of that, we even gained benefits. For 10 years, America prevented Iran from joining the WTO. This obstacle was removed, and Iran began talks in order to join the WTO. In the past, the world did not accept Iran as a member of the group of countries with a nuclear fuel cycle. In these two years, and thanks to the Paris Agreement, we entered the international game of the nuclear fuel cycle, and Iran was recognized as one of the countries with a nuclear fuel cycle. An Iranian delegate even participated in the relevant talks. We gained other benefits during these two years as well."

As usual, when it is almost too late, we will again go running to Uncle Sam and ask him to save us:

President George W. Bush said on Israeli television he could consider using force as a last resort to press Iran to give up its nuclear program.