Archive for July, 2007
26 Jul 2007

Wilkes-Barre Evicts Man for Owning Books

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The city fathers of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania would obviously would never have allowed Thomas Jefferson to reside within the jurisdiction of their dismal Anthracite region rust bucket community. Jefferson also owned too many books.


A bookstore owner’s obsession with the written word has cost him his Pennsylvania home after local officials deemed his book collection a fire hazard.

Authorities in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., condemned John Puchniak’s apartment this year when a routine inspection raised concern the bookstore owner’s collection of nearly 3,000 texts could cause a fire, The (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader reported Wednesday.

Puchniak now resides in a local hotel, while attempting to limit the stacks upon stacks of books that decorate his condemned apartment.

But even if he can restore the apartment to acceptable living standards, Puchniak has said he cannot afford to appeal the city to reopen his home.

Attorney Jim Hayward has become a champion for the troubled literary fan, attempting to convince local officials to let the 59-year-old store his growing collection as he sees fit.

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader story.

26 Jul 2007

Gun Control

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A feud between East Bay and West Bay gangs is believed to have been behind some shootings in San Francisco on Monday.

And the city Solons promptly responded.

San Francisco’s already tough laws on firearms will get even stronger — becoming some of the most restrictive in the country — after a vote at City Hall Tuesday. But even new restrictions won’t do much to stop the gun violence escalating on city streets, one sponsor of the new laws said after the vote. …

The laws — which gained final approval from the Board of Supervisors — would restrict both the sale and possession of firearms.

Specifically, they would prohibit the possession or sale of firearms on city property, require firearms in residences to be in a locked container or have trigger locks and require firearm dealers to submit an inventory to the chief of police every six months.

The last provision is intended to allow city officials to know how many guns are sold, though there is only one gun shop in the city.

“We’re pleased that, as soon as the mayor signs this, San Francisco has the strongest anti-gun laws in the nation,” said Nathan Ballard, spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom. The mayor sponsored the legislation, along with Supervisors Sophie Maxwell and Ross Mirkarimi.

Despite the laws, however, Mirkarimi said he doubts they will quell the kind of violence that erupted on Monday afternoon, which police suspect may be tied to a feud between a San Francisco gang and an East Bay gang.

Gun Control regulations will have zero impact on actual gun crimes even the politicians who propose and pass them admit, but isn’t it wonderful that San Francisco has the strongest anti-gun laws in the country?


The comedian Jackie Mason has some very sensible things to say about Gun Control (in his characteristic ethnic accent, of course).

6:43 video

Hat tip to Bird Dog.


And this horrifying news item from Connecticut demonstrates exactly why you need to have a loaded gun somewhere conveniently within reach in your home.

26 Jul 2007

Remembering Robert Heinlein

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Taylor Dinerman, in the Wall Street Journal, commemorates Heinlein’s centenary.

When one looks at the great technological revolutions that have shaped our lives over the past 50 years, more often than not one finds that the men and women behind them were avid consumers of what used to be considered no more than adolescent trash. As Arthur C. Clarke put it: “Almost every good scientist I know has read science fiction.” And the greatest writer who produced them was Robert Anson Heinlein, born in Butler, Mo., 100 years ago this month. …

Robert A. Heinlein, who died in 1988, lived a life inspired by two great loves. One was America and its promise of freedom. As one of his characters put it: “Your country has a system free enough to let heroes work at their trade. It should last a long time–unless its looseness is destroyed from the inside.” And he loved and admired women–not just his wife, Virginia, who provided the model for the many strong-minded and highly competent females who populate his stories, but all of womankind. “Some people disparage the female form divine, sex is too good for them; they should have been oysters.”

In another hundred years, it will be interesting to see if the nuclear-powered spaceships and other technological marvels he predicted are with us. But nothing in his legacy will be more important than the spirit of liberty he championed and his belief that “this hairless embryo with the aching oversized brain case and the opposable thumb, this animal barely up from the apes will endure. Will endure and spread out to the stars and beyond, carrying with him his honesty and his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage and his noble essential decency.”

25 Jul 2007

Wrong Battlefield?

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Thomas Joscelyn, in the Weekly Standard, refutes the recent democratic justification for defeatism: the claim that “Iraq is the wrong battlefield.”

Those cowards and defeatists would be just as unhappy, and just as eager to press for withdrawal, if the US invaded Waziristan. They just feel safe pointing to it as an alternative, because they feel certain that no US administration would invade Pakistan.

The leading Democratic presidential contenders have voiced a new conventional wisdom in recent weeks: The war in Iraq has little or nothing to do with defeating al Qaeda. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have embraced this view, as has the New York Times. It is dangerously wrong. …

Just last week, the summary of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) representing the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community was released. It states that the organization “Al Qaeda in Iraq” is the terror network’s “most visible and capable affiliate.” Al Qaeda’s leadership still desires to strike the U.S. homeland and “will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)” to do so. “In addition,” the intelligence estimate notes, al Qaeda relies on Al Qaeda in Iraq to “energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.”

These judgments are obviously inconsistent with Obama’s belief that America is fighting on the “wrong battlefield.” But the judgments of the intelligence community have been wrong before–witness the October 2002 NIE on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. So we should be wary of taking this latest pronouncement at face value.

The NIE’s conclusions are, however, supported by a source that cannot be ignored: al Qaeda’s two principal leaders. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri have repeatedly called Iraq the “front line” in their war against Western civilization. Indeed, a review of their statements–readily accessible in translation in the anthologies edited by Bruce Lawrence (Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden) and Laura Mans field (His Own Words: Translations and Analysis of the Writings of Dr. Ayman Al Zawahiri) and from other public sources–confirms that they have made Iraq their fight. …

Bin Laden and Zawahiri’s own words tell us that the American project in Iraq jeopardizes everything their group stands for: These two top leaders of al Qaeda have promised the people of the Middle East that al Qaeda will protect Muslim soil from the “Crusader-Zionist” invaders, even if the region’s rulers will not, and even if doing so meant cooperating with the “apostate” Saddam.

Zawahiri believes that Iraq is al Qaeda’s best opportunity for establishing a true Islamist state in the heart of the Middle East. Democracy does not belong in the region, the two men say, and only an Islamic government based on sharia law is acceptable in Iraq. The mujahedeen will drive the Americans out of Iraq using the same tactics they used to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. America’s leaders and soldiers are weak, al Qaeda says. They are looking for a way to run from the fight in Iraq, and they will do so, bin Laden exults, while the “whole world is watching.”

The whole world, that is, except the leading Democratic candidates for president.

Read the whole thing.

25 Jul 2007

Great Bustard Returns to Britain

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great bustard in Beijing zoo

Reintroduced via batches of chicks imported from Russia, the largest Eurasian game bird the Great Bustard, Otis tarda, is being reported to have nested in Britain for the first time, as the London Times puts it, “since Queen Victoria was a child (1832).”

A female bustard has laid two eggs somewhere on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. The precise location is not being publicly released in order to foil the hordes of mad-keen British ornithologists (bird watchers) and the now nearly as endangered as the bustards themselves oologists (collectors of birds’ eggs).

Press release with photo

London Times


UK Great Bustard Reintroduction Project

The primary wing feathers of the great Bustard play an important role in the dressing of traditional featherwing Salmon Flies, being featured as ingredients in the wing of many of the most famous patterns.

Jock Scott

The large patterned black-and-orange mottled strip of feather, third from the top in the wing, beneath the Golden Pheasant crest feather and brown mallard, is from the great Bustard.

25 Jul 2007

Patrolling a Sunni Neighborhood in Baghdad


Michael Totten reports directly from the unbearable fiasco of US military operations in unwinnable Iraq.

82nd Airborne’s Lieutenant William H. Lord from Foxborough, Massachusetts, prepared his company for a dismounted foot patrol in the Graya’at neighborhood of Northern Baghdad’s predominantly Sunni Arab district of Adhamiyah. …

The battalion I’m embedded with here in Baghdad hasn’t suffered a single casualty – not even one soldier wounded – since they arrived in the Red Zone in January. The surge in this part of the city could not possibly be going better than it already is. Most of Graya’at’s insurgents and terrorists who haven’t yet fled are either captured, dormant, or dead. …

Everyone was friendly. No one shot at us or even looked at us funny. Infrastructure problems, not security, were the biggest concerns at the moment. I felt like I was in Iraqi Kurdistan – where the war is already over – not in Baghdad.

It was an edgy “Kurdistan,” though. Every now and then someone drove down the street in a vehicle. If any military-aged males (MAMs as the Army guys call them) were in the car, the soldiers stopped it and made everybody get out. The vehicle and the men were then searched.

Read the whole thing.

25 Jul 2007

Goverrnment Warns of Terrorist Dry Runs

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The Transportation Security Administration (7/20) warned:

A surge in recent suspicious incidents at U.S. airports may indicate terrorists are conducting pre-attack security probes and “dry runs” similar to dress rehearsals. Past terrorist attacks and plots show that such testing generally indicates attacks will soon follow, according to a joint FBI and Homeland Security assessment. …

5 July 2007, San Diego, CA – A U.S. Person’s (USPER) checked baggage contained two icepacks covered in duct tape. The icepacks had clay inside them rather than the normal blue gel.

4 June 2007, Milwaukee, WI – The carry-on baggage of a USPER contained several items resembling IED components, such as a wire coil wrapped around a possible initiator, an electrical switch, batteries, three tubes, and two blocks of cheese.

8 November 2006, Houston, TX – A USPER’s checked baggage contained a plastic bag with a 9-volt battery, wires, a block of brown clay-like minerals, and pipes.

16 September 2006, Baltimore, MD–The checked baggage of a couple contained a plastic bag with a block of processed cheese taped to another plastic bag holding a cellular phone charger.

24 Jul 2007

Enviro-Ethics as Caste Marker and Consumer Good

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Even George Monbiot (whose name is the source of the derisive term for an irrational leftist: moonbat) recognizes what chic and expensive environmental gestures by the haute bourgeoisie are all about.

Last week, for instance, the Guardian published an extract from A Slice of Organic Life, the book by Sheherazade Goldsmith – married to the very rich environmentalist Zac – in which she teaches us “to live within nature’s limits”. It’s easy. Just make your own bread, butter, cheese, jam, chutneys and pickles, keep a milking cow, a few pigs, goats, geese, ducks, chickens, beehives, gardens and orchards. Well, what are you waiting for?

Her book contains plenty of useful advice, and she comes across as modest, sincere and well-informed. But of lobbying for political change, there is not a word. You can save the planet from your own kitchen – if you have endless time and plenty of land. When I was reading it on the train, another passenger asked me if he could take a look. He flicked through it for a moment, and then summed up the problem in seven words: “This is for people who don’t work.” …

Ethical shopping is in danger of becoming another signifier of social status. I have met people who have bought solar panels and wind turbines before they have insulated their lofts, partly because they love gadgets but partly, I suspect, because everyone can then see how conscientious and how rich they are. …

24 Jul 2007

The Surge is Succeeding, and the MSM is Pretending Not to Notice

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J.R Dunn describes the situation at American Thinker:

It’s now quite clear how the results of the surge will be dealt with by domestic opponents of the Iraq war.

They’re going to be ignored. …

Virtually no media source or Democratic politician (and not a few Republicans, led by Richard “I can always backtrack” Lugar) is willing to admit that the situation on the ground has changed dramatically over the past three months. Coalition efforts have undergone a remarkable reversal of fortune, a near-textbook example as to how an effective strategy can overcome what appear to be overwhelming drawbacks.

Anbar is close to being secured, thanks to the long-ridiculed strategy of recruiting local sheiks. A capsule history of war coverage could be put together from stories on this topic alone – beginning with sneers, moving on to “evidence” that it would never work, to the puzzled pieces of the past few months admitting that something was happening, and finally the recent stories expressing concern that the central government might be “offended” by the attention being paid former Sunni rebels. (Try to find another story in the legacy media worrying about the feelings of the Iraqi government.) What you will not find is any mention of the easily-grasped fact that Anbar acts as a blueprint for the rest of the country. If the process works there, it will work elsewhere. If it works in other areas, that means the destruction of the Jihadis in detail.

Nor is that all. Diyala province, promoted in media as the “new Al-Queda stronghold” appears to have become a death-trap. The Jihadis can neither defend it nor abandon it. The Coalition understood that Diyala was where the Jihadis would flee when the heat came down in Baghdad, and they were ready for them. A major element of surge strategy – and one reason why the extra infantry brigades were needed – is to pressure Jihadis constantly in all their sanctuaries, allowing them no time to rest or regroup.

A blizzard of operations is occurring throughout central Iraq under the overall code-name Phantom Thunder, the largest operation since the original invasion. It is open-ended, and will continue as long as necessary. Current ancillary operations include Arrowhead Ripper, which is securing the city of Baqubah in Diyala province. Operation Alljah is methodically clearing out every last neighborhood in Fallujah. In Babil province, southeast of Baghdad, operations Marne Torch and Commando Eagle are underway. (As this was being written, yet another spinoff operation, Marne Avalanche, began in Northern Babil.)

The Coalition has left the treadmill in which one step of progress seemed to unavoidably lead to two steps back. It requires some time to discover the proper strategy in any war. A cursory glance at 1943 would have given the impression of disaster. Kasserine, in which the German Wehrmacht nearly split Allied forces in Tunisia and sent American GIs running. Tarawa, where over 1,600 U.S. Marines died on a sunny afternoon thanks to U.S. Navy overconfidence. Salerno, where the Allied landing force was very nearly pushed back into the sea. But all these incidents, as bitter as they may have been, were necessary to develop the proper techniques that led to the triumphs of 1944 and 1945.

Someday, 2006 may be seen as Iraq’s 1943. It appears that Gen. David Petreaus has discovered the correct strategy for Iraq: engaging the Jihadis all over the map as close to simultaneously as possible. Keeping them on the run constantly, giving them no place to stand, rest or refit. Increasing operational tempo to an extent that they cannot match (“Getting inside their decision cycle”, as the 4th generation warfare school would call it), leaving them harried, uncertain, and apt to make mistakes.

Read the whole thing.

24 Jul 2007

Former Guantanamo Prisoner Dies Fighting Pakistani Forces in Baluchistan

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Abdullah Mehsud aka Noor Alam

AFP details the unhappy end of one of the innocent lambs unjustly detained by the Bush Administration. Poor Abdulah Mehsud was captured at Kunduz in Northern Afghanistan in December of 2001 and detained for 25 months before being released in March of 2004.

A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner wanted for the 2004 kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in Pakistan blew himself up with a grenade during a clash with (Pakistani) security forces on Tuesday, officials said.

One-legged Taliban militant Abdullah Mehsud killed himself to avoid capture after troops raided his hideout, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema told AFP. …

“Abdullah Mehsud blew himself up with a grenade and died when security forces raided his hideout. Three of his accomplices were arrested,” Cheema said.

Mehsud, 32, became the leader of Pakistani Taliban insurgents based in South Waziristan in 2004, after Pakistani forces launched military operations in the troubled tribal region.

In October 2004, Islamic militants led by Mehsud pressed their demand for an end to the army moves by kidnapping two Chinese engineers working on a multi-million-dollar hydroelectric dam project in South Waziristan.

One of the hostages died in a botched rescue bid in a major embarrassment for Pakistan, which counts China as its closest ally and biggest military supplier.

Mehsud, who spent 25 months in the US-run “war on terror” prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba until his release in March 2004, escaped after the incident.

He had been hunted by Pakistani forces ever since. Officials said he had recently been involved in lauching cross-border attacks on NATO and US-led forces in Afghanistan.

“Intelligence reports pointed out his presence at a house and security forces mounted the raid. He sneaked into Zhob from Waziristan,” Cheema said.

Zhob, in southwestern Baluchistan province, borders South Waziristan.

The militant leader and his companions exchanged heavy gunfire with security forces for hours after the house was surrounded late Monday, police said.

“When our forces finally entered before dawn this morning a man blew himself up to avoid being captured. He was identified later as Mehsud,” Zhob police chief Atta Mohammad said.

24 Jul 2007

General George S. Patton on the War on Terror

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Mike Kaminski has updated the famous George C. Scott speech from the 1970 film.

8:21 video

Hat tip to Scott Drum.

23 Jul 2007

IowaHawk’s Miss Hoosegow Contest 2007


Second edition of Iowahawk’s incarceree beauty contest.

Via Maggie’s Farm.

23 Jul 2007

Display of English Flag Considered Racist in England


The Telegraph:

A black dustman (what we would call a garbage man in the USA) has been banned from wearing a St George’s Cross bandana because council officials say it could be regarded as racist.

Matthew Carter, 35, who was born in Barbados, used the headgear to keep his dreadlocks out of the way while he was on his rounds in Burnley, Lancs. He had done so for seven months before his photograph appeared in a local newspaper. A number of local people complained, and his superiors called him.

“I received a verbal warning,” Mr Carter said yesterday. “They told me the St George’s Cross was not allowed to be seen on any clothing we wear because it could be considered offensive and racist.” …

Mr Carter still wears a bandana but one that bears the image of a skull and crossbones.

Now that’s much better.

23 Jul 2007

Measuring Global Warming

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Fort Morgan, Colorado US Historical Climate Network Station

The picture really speaks for itself, doesn’t it?


Hat tip to YARGB.

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