Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama’s Syria policy

Ok, let’s see…

and

but

and

in the meantime

so that

It will be interesting to watch how the various players respond to “the dialog” …

Cutting off your nose…

Stratfor on Obama’s decision to release four classified memos from former President George W. Bush’s administration that authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques.”:

Unlike in television shows like “24,” it is not uncommon in the real world for a meeting called to plan a counterterrorism operation to feature more CIA lawyers than case officers or analysts. These staff lawyers are intricately involved in the operational decisions made at headquarters, and legal issues often trump operational considerations.

I have seen it in other countries as well and I don’t understand it; as a revenge against previous administrations, is rather masochistic! A Secret Service should be secret, period. This fake moral posturing is so transparent (I mean, nobody believes for a second that any president/politician would give a damn about “enhanced interrogation techniques.”!) that it is not worth the price of tying the hands of your own country’s intelligence service. The disadvantage is equivalent to losing the arms race to your enemies.

Swine flu again

I am touching on this issue again because I have noticed that a lot of people do not know how to react to the bombardment of news they are subjected to; I was surprised (and a little revolted) by the time that was given by the Media yesterday to the death of a Mexican child in Texas which, sad as it is, should have been better employed to inform the public.

A few points that might help you interpret correctly what is going on:

  • between 250,000 and 500,000 people die every year of seasonal flu
  • normally, the more dangerous the virus is to its host, the less it will spread (e.g. Ebola)
  • understand the difference between Case Fatality Ratio (CFR), virulence and mortality rate
  • Mexico’s numbers are, for the moment, almost useless to determine any of the above (in fact yesterday Vivienne Allan, from WHO's patient safety program, said the body had confirmed that worldwide there had been just seven deaths - all in Mexico - and 79 confirmed cases of the diseasenot 150 as circulated before)
  • relatively recent epidemic/pandemic fears like Mad Cow disease, SARS and Avian Influenza have had a beneficial effect in promoting awareness, stockpiling of anti-viral drugs and preparation of contingency plans; however, authorities must balance these advantages against crying wolf too many times.
  • the 1918 pandemic that killed 50 million people is often quoted; remember though that at the time the world was just coming out of  World War I and no anti-viral drugs or antibiotics (to cure respiratory complications) were available.
  • take also into account, that vested interests, political agendas, snake oil salesmen must be factored in when reading or watching news about swine flu (or anything else for that matter)

One lie after another…

Before someone accuses me of not being objective, I will quote the AP, a notoriously liberal and anti-bush source:

OBAMA: "Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.... That wasn't me.
THE FACTS: Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for Obama's last two years as Illinois senator.

Pathetic, like a kid who has broken a vase…read it all, it’s one lie after another…as usual.

History repeats itself

The German Near and Middle East Association (NUMOV), an NGO whose honorary chairman is former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, is promoting billions of euros of trade between German companies and Iran.

Why am I not surprised?

Gurkhas as tough as ever

Thanks to my previous post (you wish!) the government has been defeated on the Gurkhas’ settlement rights:

“All Gurkhas are welcome in the UK … they fought for us”

People Magazine makes a sick joke

 

Christina Applegate made the cover of People magazine's 100 most beautiful people issue on Wednesday in a list that welcomed newcomers U.S. first lady Michelle Obama...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Windows XP Mode for Windows 7

Years ago, I asked Robert Scoble (at the time he was still working at Microsoft) why they didn’t develop a legacy-free “parallel” Windows to make a lighter, faster and modern (cutting edge modern, I mean) OS. He replied that the customer base was so huge that there was no way Microsoft could risk such a move.

It seems that the time has come though, and Windows 7 could be the fist step in the right direction; Paul tells us how:

…why bother tying down new Windows versions with legacy deadwood when you can seamlessly and effortlessly run older Windows applications inside of a hidden virtualized environment?… by removing the responsibility of legacy application compatibility from the core OS, Microsoft can strip deadwood technology out of future Windows versions more quickly and create a system that is, by default, even smaller, lighter, and more secure than Windows 7 is today.

The Great Game: continued

 

The Taliban scored the first major victory in the nascent battle of Buner today after its fighters captured 60 Frontier Constabulary and policemen.

Of course the first mistake was to give (tolerate?) any kind of autonomy to the The Federally Administered Tribal  Areas (FATA) in 1947…(click on image to enlarge)

Arabs defending Israel

It’s good to know that at least someone has his feet firmly planted on the ground:

It is true that you can't help but get a funny feeling when you see the Arabs defending Israel from American criticism. But with the Obama administration's Middle East policy firmly grounded in La La Land, what choice do they have? They understand that today all that stands between them and enslavement to the mullahs is the Israel Air Force and Binyamin Netanyahu's courage.

Cap and trade, taxing photosynthesis, and other amenities

Not all students of climate favor legislation and some point out the dangers of over-regulation. Here are a few points by Arthur Robinson from the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons:

  • First, man-made carbon dioxide is an insignificant greenhouse gas; water vapor is the major factor.
  • Second, the sun’s cosmic rays have the most significant influence over global temperature and weather.
  • Third, if all nations’ carbon dioxide emissions were halted the impact would not be significantly measureable.
  • Fourth, the imposition of control would be catastrophic, adversely affecting the emerging nations of the world.
  • Finally, climate alarmists are motivated by politics and finances, and if the controversy would end, thousands would be unemployed.

Is Britain Finished?

Now…why would anyone say that…

The first 100 days…again

It wasn’t only me then: 100 days, 100 mistakes…

Bless John Howard!

In 2007, Prime Minister John Howard changed the name of the ministries of the Australian government.  What had been the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs became the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Today on Uncommon Knowledge, I ask the former prime minister why.

The whole idea of immigration is to make citizens.  Multiculturalism is a very confused credo. (h/t instapundit)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Joke of the Day

I recently asked my friend's little girl what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said she wanted to be president some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, "If you were president, what would be the first thing you would do?"

She replied, "I'd give food and houses to all the homeless people." Her parents beamed.

"Wow...what a worthy goal." I told her, "But you don't have to wait until you're president to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and sweep my yard, and I'll pay you $50. Then I'll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house."

She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, "Why doesn't the homeless guy go over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?"

I said, "Welcome to the Republican Party." (link)

Indonesia’s Voters Retreat From Radical Islam

You mean … Bush was right?

Welcome the Gurkhas!

A government decision to limit the number of Gurkha veterans allowed to settle in the UK faces a parliamentary challenge from the Liberal Democrats.

The UK should welcome the brave Gurkhas with open arms; this is another idiotic, uninformed and kukriinsulting decision by Gordon Brown, who apparently doesn’t even realize where UK’s and his own interests lie:

immigration Minister Phil Woolas said "It has never been the case that all Gurkhas pre-1997 were to be allowed to stay in the country. With their dependants you could be looking at 100,000 people," he added.

That’s exactly the point, moron, put them in charge of security if you get my drift …

(403) Forbidden

I have been struggling to get around what I thought was a bug of the excellent Windows Live Writer; when trying to publish a post to my Blogger blog, I would get the above error message.

After reading dozens of fora, Q&As, and finding complicated solutions, patches and the like, I added the program to Windows Firewall as an exception and it works.

If you have been having my same problem, try for the simplest solution first before tampering with code!

Swine flu: useful links and tips

Mashable has a few useful links to follow the developments of this latest disease outbreak to which I would like to add my own suggestions. A word of caution, though: there are many vested interests involved and, consequently, a tendency to exaggerate and unnecessarily scare the public; keep this in mind, especially if you follow MSM sites (popular blogs are usually more reliable) or public timelines, and don’t panic!

1)  Get a twitter account: yes, twitter is the gossip and celebrities micro-blogging platform of choice but, if used correctly, also the best real-time news search engine there is. Once you have an account, you want to follow these:
Capture
redcross
breakingnews
emergencynews
reutersflash
cnnbrk
ntarc

While on twitter you can also search for #swineflu (with a pinch of salt, see above).

2) Google is of course also a good resource: you may want to set up a search (and relevant email alert) as follows: “http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&ie=UTF-8&q=%22swine+flu%22+OR~H1N1&scoring=n

3) Detailed maps of the outbreak can be found here.

4) Of the official specialized sites, I would follow CDC (at the moment the most reliable) and WHO (pinch of salt here, too).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

And Spengler is ...

Spengler”, after years of mystery, has revealed his identity to the world; he is David P Goldman, associate editor of First Things.

Although I am not a religious person, I have followed for years, as thousands of readers have, his brilliant articles and essays on Asia Times; furthermore, we share a great admiration for Pope Benedict XVI.

Why did he use a pseudonym? He tells us:

I needed to tell the Europeans that their post-national, secular dystopia was a death-trap whence no-one would get out alive. I needed to tell the Muslims that nothing would alleviate the unbearable sense of humiliation and loss that globalization inflicted on a civilization that once had pretensions to world dominance. I needed to tell Asians that materialism leads only to despair. And I needed to tell the Americans that their smugness would be their undoing.

Read it all.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What happened to Speakers’ Corner?

Nile Nardiner: Sadiq Khan MP, the U.K.’s “Cohesion Minister” (what the f*&^? You’re kidding me!), has called on the British government to distance itself from recent U.S. drone strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban positions on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border…Khan also urged Britain to distance itself from American foreign policy in the region, in order to win over ‘hearts and minds.’

This idiot is an MP? What happened to Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner?

They should put him in the same padded cell with George Galloway and throw away the key!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pirates? Poppycock!

I have been reading a lot about this issue and of course I don’t believe a word of what has been written; this photo should explain my skepticism:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can anyone tell me how a bunch of idiots riding floating coconuts can take huge tankers hostage?

Who’s behind it? Insurance companies? Terrorists sympathizers? Have we completely lost it?

Be afraid, be very afraid…

But the strategic consequences of the last “offensives” inside Pakistan are boundless. By reaching a distance of 70 miles or so of the capital the Taliban are putting the government under their direct menace. Pushes elsewhere are expected southbound and northeast bound. The army is deploying around public buildings; that is a bad sign. I’d also project a Jihadi push along the Kashmir borders with India. The hydra is expanding gradually, preparing for a massive squeeze.

We should be concerned about two titanic effects on international security: Obviously, the nukes of Pakistan are on the minds of the Al Qaeda leadership, hidden comfortably in the belly of the Taliban. But also the US-led coming campaign in Afghanistan. The Taliban are attempting to change the landscape inside Pakistan and along its northwestern borders so that when the new push begins in Afghanistan, the Taliban would already have a deep hinterland east of the borders and so that the Pakistani Army busy is protecting the government, not in encircling the jihadists. The war room of the terror forces has begun fighting America’s new terrorism strategy before the latter starts. I can only characterize it as a “jihadi preemptive war.”

I am sure you all remember when they were pushing and screaming for Musharraf to resign (not that he was a saint, but certainly better for Pakistan than anything before or after), or when they said that Zardari should give in to Sharif to solve the political stalemate (and Sharif has been sleeping with terrorists for a long time). Whatever happens now should not be a surprise for anyone.

Not only that…

Melanie Phillips quotes an interesting article by Bret Stephens of the WSJ:

Why, for instance, do high-profile Western writers like Portuguese Nobelist José Saramago make ‘solidarity’ pilgrimages to Ramallah, but not to the Chechen capital of Grozny? Why do British academics organize boycotts of their Israeli counterparts, but not their Russian ones? Why is Palestinian statehood considered a global moral imperative, but statehood for Chechnya is not? Why does every Israeli prime minister invariably become a global pariah, when not one person in a thousand knows the name of Chechen ‘President’ Ramzan Kadyrov, a man who, by many accounts, keeps a dungeon near his house in order to personally torture his political opponents? And why does the fact that Mr. Kadyrov is Vladimir Putin's handpicked enforcer in Chechnya not cause a shudder of revulsion as the Obama administration reaches for the ‘reset’ button with Russia?

He has an answer: racism, with which Melanie seems to agree:

I have a hypothesis. Maybe the world attends to Palestinian grievances but not Chechen ones for the sole reason that Palestinians are, uniquely, the perceived victims of the Jewish state.

While this is certainly true, and sadly anti-Semitism is spreading again in Europe, I would like to add another reason to explain the selective behavior of the hypocritical left:  if they attempted to do or say to the Russians (or Sudanese, Arabs, Iranians, North Korean, Chinese) what they do and say to Israel, they would be castrated, quartered, dissolved in acid and shipped back to their countries in a jiffy.

Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Obama is musing about extending the political reach of the criminal law. If he does so, he will find he has opened a new front of political warfare that will not soon end.

After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush drew a curtain of oblivion against all the errors and mistakes that had led up to the attacks. There was accusation and counter-accusation in the media, but at the official level there was no recrimination against President Clinton's decision not to kill bin Laden when he had the chance, no action against those who had failed to stop the 9/11 hijackers from entering the country.

If Obama proceeds to take legal action against those who did what they thought was right to defend the country, all that will change. Prosecutions launched by Obama will not stop when Obama declares "game over." If overzealousness under Bush becomes a crime under Obama, underzealousness under Obama will become a crime under the next Republican president.

And

At least until now, the U.S. political system has avoided the spectacle of a new Administration prosecuting its predecessor for policy disagreements. This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power.

No need for Nostradamus

Cause and Effects:

Blasts kill 78 in Iraq's bloodiest day in a year.

Taliban advance eastward, threaten Islamabad.

Just as the Obama administration was reaching out to Iran, the Islamic Republic sentenced an American journalist to eight years in prison and leveled a heated new attack on Israel as racist.

Fidel Castro says that President Barack Obama "misinterpreted" his brother Raul's sentiments toward the United States.

Venezuelan court orders arrest of Chavez opponent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Korea says it will try detained US journalists.

And it’s only the beginning.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

South Africans Go to the Polls

I don’t envy the poor guys…they have to chose between the ANC (who has not delivered any relief from crime, corruption and poverty and it’s unlikely to do it under Zuma almost certain leadership but will nevertheless win comfortably) and the new Congress of the People (Mbeki’s old guard). The Democratic Alliance, like the ANC, has increased its share of votes in the past but it remains to be seen if and how much COPE will erode its quota.

Obama vs. P2P

Even liberal geeks won’t like this: “In the wake of the Hollywood and major record label attack on Swedish search engine The Pirate Bay, P2P file sharers and enterprises set up to serve the P2P communities can expect a massive upsurge in hostilities.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First comment!

I welcome my first commenter and appreciate her/his civil – if misinformed – rebuttal; it also gives me an opportunity to clarify a couple of points of my earlier post.

She/he touches on two important points, in my opinion: honesty of the new administration and the damage of Bush legacy.

About the first, there is nothing I can (or wish) to say: hope, like faith, is something that you either have or not have (I must admit I rather admire the pure souls who have this gift).

Besides, if the AIG bonuses pantomime (signing the bonuses, then denying the fact, then going on tv trying to look surprised and revolted by the “scandal”) hasn’t confirmed to all and sundries that politicians – no matter their message – are corrupt by definition (some more then others, of course), there is nothing an old cynical bastard like me can say to shake her/his faith/hope.

The second point is funny in its own way because it is based on a mantra that the dems have – apparently with success – repeated for years; that is, the world hated Bush and therefore America.

It is funny because it is totally baseless and relies more on Bush’s lack of personal warmth and communications skills than anything else. It is not the first time that I encounter this argument and I thought about it a good deal. I believe the answer I have come up with could be useful (perhaps the NYT, The Huffington Post, The Wapo, the BBC might want to adopt it) if some good blogger has the time to develop and publish it.

Here it is: take pen and paper and draw a divider (no pun intended) like a T on the sheet (like an accountant’s debit and credit graph); go back in your mind to a few months or few years ago. On the left column start listing Bush’s foes and on the right his friends/allies; you will immediately realize that the list on the left contains the names of tyrants, dictators, madmen, fraudsters, corrupt politicians, etc. (Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, the Castro brothers, Chavez, Morales, Chirac, Schroeder, Saddam Hussein, etc., etc.) and the right mostly the names of heads of state of democratic countries (Israel, Sarkozy, Merkel, Harper, John Howard and now Rudd, New Zealand, Iraq, etc., etc.). You will admit that to be hated by the scum of the earth is rather a nice compliment, no?

PS: Since I mentioned heads of state and their feelings towards Bush, I would also like to remind my commenter that the main culprits for boycotting the coalition against Saddam (who would have quietly gone into exile without a shot being fired had he seen a united Security Council) were Chirac, Schroeder and Martin, who all played the card of opposing the Iraq liberation war in the hopes of being re-elected. Lo and behold, the Bush haters were kicked out of power!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The first 100 days…

I don’t believe the various theories about Obama’s dark plans, closet communism, etc.; the guy barely understands what he is doing yet. Moreover, he has shown such poor judgment in his choice of friends and mentors in the past (and more recently of team members) that I rather think he is manipulated, not the manipulator.

We’ve all known in our school days the shy kid, the insecure boy who tried to hide his shyness but regularly overdid it, upsetting tables, tripping on his shoe laces, laughing too loud, etc. Well, Obama gives me the same impression: prostrating himself to the bedouin king, jumping up to warmly squeeze Chavez hand, hitting the Queen on the back like one of his basketball pals, dismissing Brown as he would have an undersecretary of Okephenokeestan , etc..

His wife, poor thing (I wouldn’t even mention her if she didn’t play “First Lady” all the time), suffers from the opposite problem; awkward and ungainly as she is, she dresses like a clown and walks like a sasquatch, but insists on being in the forefront at all times; no class at all.

If all this explains the exotic first dog, the ridiculous arugula quote, the pathetic snobbery, with the desire to be loved and accepted by the world, it does not explain why an adult politician in Obama’s position would confuse his personal fears – in fact, himself as a person – with the US of A. Going around the world apologizing for real or imagined wrongs America committed won’t make him or the USA more loved or respected; on the contrary, it will only attract ridicule from his colleagues and embolden his and the world enemies (have you ever heard Sarkozy blame Chirac – as much as they hated each other - or Merkel publicly attack Schroeder as Obama continuously does with his predecessor?)

As for the title of this post, I will not go into the details of Obama’s performance during his induction; others have been doing it meticulously. However, I believe it can be summed up as a total disappointment so far; whatever good will was there, it was squandered by rash decisions, superficial or inexistent study of the issues and horrible choices (apart from his vetting team, which alone would merit our tears – think Joe Biden among others – the publication of the secret memos on enhanced interrogation is such a gift to wanna-be jihadists that could have been published by Bin Laden himself if he could have got his hands on them).

A lot of publicity has also been given to Obama’s new wave of  “opening”, “dialog”, “reset” with USA’s foes; just to give you an idea how much this is naïve, misguided and just plain wrong, let me quote Natan Scharansky:

the great brilliant moment [was] when we learned that Ronald Reagan had proclaimed the Soviet Union an Evil Empire before the entire world. There was a long list of all the Western leaders who had lined up to condemn the evil Reagan for daring to call the great Soviet Union an evil empire right next to the front-page story about this dangerous, terrible man who wanted to take the world back to the dark days of the Cold War. This was the moment. It was the brightest, most glorious day. Finally a spade had been called a spade. Finally, Orwell's Newspeak was dead. President Reagan had from that moment made it impossible for anyone in the West to continue closing their eyes to the real nature of the Soviet Union (emphasis mine; h/t: no-pasaran).

In my opinion, the only right thing Obama has done to date has been deciding – although belatedly – for the US not to attend the obscene “Durban II” in Geneva. (I am not sure about his role in the successful sniper attack on the Somali pirates so I cannot give him another point…).

Keep watching.

Monday, April 20, 2009