Archive for April, 2008
26 Apr 2008

Russia, Tropical Resort

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Russia occupies 1/6th of the Earth’s surface, and as English Russia points out, though 65% of Russia is covered with permafrost, Russia has a land area larger than France or Germany lying south of the French Riviera. The photos of Russia the resort area of the city of Sochi on the Black Sea, host of the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the nearby Krasnaya Polyana.

via MeaninglessHotAir at YARGB.

25 Apr 2008

Ritual Humiliation at the Airport

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George W. Bush’s Way

Peggy Noonan experiences contemporary Americans’ most pointless and humiliating ordeal, and not at all incorrectly blames George W. Bush.

She has put her fine literary finger on the almost perfect metonymy for the Bush presidency, the detail that perfectly exemplifies the current administration’s proclivity toward the policy choice dictated by the conventional, liberal, and statist perspective, dictated in essence by the other side, the administration’s fundamental, and ultimately fatal, failure of nerve and will.

America is in line at the airport. America has its shoes off, is carrying a rubberized bin, is going through a magnetometer. America is worried there is fungus on the floor after a million stockinged feet have walked on it. But America knows not to ask. America is guilty until proved innocent, and no one wants to draw undue attention. America left its ticket and passport in the jacket in the bin in the X-ray machine, and is admonished. America is embarrassed to have put one one-ounce moisturizer too many in the see-through bag. America is irritated that the TSA agent removed its mascara, opened it, put it to her nose, and smelled it. Why don’t you put it up your nose and see if it explodes? America thinks.

And, as always: Why do we do this when you know I am not a terrorist, and you know I know you know I am not a terrorist? Why this costly and harassing kabuki when we both know the facts, and would agree that all this harassment is the government’s way of showing “fairness,” of showing that it will equally humiliate anyone in order to show its high-mindedness and sense of justice? Our politicians congratulate themselves on this as we stand in line.

All the frisking, beeping and patting down is demoralizing to our society. It breeds resentment, encourages a sense that the normal are not in control, that common sense is yesterday. …

Lubbock, Texas – Lubbock Comma Texas, the heart of Texas conservatism – they dislike President Bush. He has lost them. I was there and saw it. Confusion has been followed by frustration has turned into resentment, and this is huge. Everyone knows the president’s poll numbers are at historic lows, but if he is over in Lubbock, there is no place in this country that likes him. I made a speech and moved around and I was tough on him and no one – not one – defended or disagreed. I did the same in North Carolina recently, and again no defenders. I did the same in Fresno, Calif., and no defenders, not one.

He has left on-the-ground conservatives – the local right-winger, the town intellectual reading Burke and Kirk, the old Reagan committeewoman – feeling undefended, unrepresented and alone.

This will have impact down the road.

I finally understand the party nostalgia for Reagan. Everyone speaks of him now, but it wasn’t that way in 2000, or 1992, or 1996, or even ’04.

I think it is a manifestation of dislike for and disappointment in Mr. Bush. It is a turning away that is a turning back. It is a looking back to conservatism when conservatism was clear, knew what it was, was grounded in the facts of the world.

The reasons for the quiet break with Mr. Bush: spending, they say first, growth in the power and size of government, Iraq. I imagine some of this: a fine and bitter conservative sense that he has never had to stand in his stockinged feet at the airport holding the bin, being harassed. He has never had to live in the world he helped make, the one where grandma’s hip replacement is setting off the beeper here and the child is crying there. And of course as a former president, with the entourage and the private jets, he never will. I bet conservatives don’t like it. I’m certain Gate 14 doesn’t.

The alternatives were always very simple. Allowing airlines to refuse to carry Muslims and passport-holders from Islamic countries, directing strict scrutiny only in logical directions, and encouraging Americans to travel armed. Can you imagine the sheriff in the Western movie carefully searching the passengers for weapons, and making sure each and every one of them was disarmed, before the stagecoach would be permitted to leave town to travel through the wilderness when hostile Indians were on the warpath?

The American Way

25 Apr 2008

Study Suggests: Humans Nearly Became Extinct 70,000 Years Ago

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Human beings may have had a brush with extinction 70,000 years ago, an extensive genetic study suggests. The human population at that time was reduced to small isolated groups in Africa, apparently because of drought, according to an analysis released Thursday.

The report notes that a separate study by researchers at Stanford University estimated the number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the early Stone Age.

“This study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species’ history,” Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer in residence, said in a statement. “Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world. Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA.”

Wells is director of the Genographic Project, launched in 2005 to study anthropology using genetics. The report was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Previous studies using mitochondrial DNA — which is passed down through mothers — have traced modern humans to a single “mitochondrial Eve,” who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

The migrations of humans out of Africa to populate the rest of the world appear to have begun about 60,000 years ago, but little has been known about humans between Eve and that dispersal.

The new study looks at the mitochondrial DNA of the Khoi and San people in South Africa which appear to have diverged from other people between 90,000 and 150,000 years ago.


The BBC reports the study’s conclusion that mankind nearly split into two separate species at the same time.

Ancient humans started down the path of evolving into two separate species before merging back into a single population, a genetic study suggests.

The genetic split in Africa resulted in distinct populations that lived in isolation for as much as 100,000 years, the scientists say.

This could have been caused by arid conditions driving a wedge between humans in eastern and southern Africa.


Behar et al., The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity, The American Journal of Human Genetics (2008), doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.04.002

25 Apr 2008

Congress Told Syrian Reactor was “Nearly Complete”

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International Herald Tribune:

The Bush administration released detailed photographic images on Thursday to support its assertion that the building in Syria that Israel destroyed in an airstrike last year was a nuclear reactor constructed with years of help from North Korea.

The administration said it withheld the pictures for seven months out of fear that Syria could retaliate against Israel and start a broader war in the Middle East.

The photographs taken inside the reactor before it was destroyed in an air raid on Sept. 6 clearly show the rods that control the heat in a nuclear reactor, one of many close engineering similarities to a reactor halfway around the world where North Korea produced the fuel for its nuclear arsenal.

While the photographs were not dated, some taken on the ground seemed to go back to before 2002.

But after a full day of briefing members of Congress, two senior intelligence officials acknowledged that the evidence had left them with no more than “low confidence” that Syria was preparing to build a nuclear weapon. They said that there was no sign that Syria had built an operation to convert the spent fuel from the plant into weapons-grade plutonium, but that they had told President George W. Bush last year that they could think of no other explanation for the reactor.

Among the photographs shown to members of Congress and reporters on Thursday was one of the manager of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear plant with the director of Syria’s nuclear agency. A car in the background has Syrian license plates. (see below)

When asked about North Korea’s motivation for the project, one of the senior intelligence officials said simply, “Cash.” He refused to say how much.

Too small image courtesy of Depkafile



The Syrian nuclear reactor allegedly built with North Korean design help and destroyed last year by Israeli jets was within weeks or months of being functional, a top U.S. official said Thursday.

The facility was mostly completed but still needed significant testing before it could be declared operational, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

However, no uranium — needed to fuel a reactor — was evident at the site, a remote area of eastern Syria along the Euphrates River.

The Syrian reactor was similar in design to a North Korean reactor at Yongbyon that has in the past produced small amounts of plutonium, U.S. officials said. Plutonium is highly radioactive and can be used to make powerful nuclear weapons or radiological bombs.

Complete story.

25 Apr 2008

Karl Rove on the Democrats

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Karl Rove applies a professional’s analysis to the democrat nomination fight.

Mrs. Clinton started as a deeply flawed candidate: the palpable and unpleasant sense of entitlement, the absence of a clear and optimistic message, the grating personality impatient to be done with the little people and overly eager for a return to power, real power, the phoniness and the exaggerations. These problems have not diminished over the long months of the contest. They have grown. She started out with the highest negatives of any major candidate in an open race for the presidency and things have only gotten worse.

And what of the reborn Adlai Stevenson? Mr. Obama is befuddled and angry about the national reaction to what are clearly accepted, even commonplace truths in San Francisco and Hyde Park. How could anyone take offense at the observation that people in small-town and rural American are “bitter” and therefore “cling” to their guns and their faith, as well as their xenophobia? Why would anyone raise questions about a public figure who, for only 20 years, attended a church and developed a close personal relationship with its preacher who says AIDS was created by our government as a genocidal tool to be used against people of color, who declared America’s chickens came home to roost on 9/11, and wants God to damn America? Mr. Obama has a weakness among blue-collar working class voters for a reason.

His inspiring rhetoric is a potent tool for energizing college students and previously uninvolved African-American voters. But his appeals are based on two aspirational pledges he is increasingly less credible in making.

Mr. Obama’s call for postpartisanship looks unconvincing, when he is unable to point to a single important instance in his Senate career when he demonstrated bipartisanship. And his repeated calls to remember Dr. Martin Luther King’s “fierce urgency of now” in tackling big issues falls flat as voters discover that he has not provided leadership on any major legislative battle.

Mr. Obama has not been a leader on big causes in Congress. He has been manifestly unwilling to expend his political capital on urgent issues. He has been only an observer, watching the action from a distance, thinking wry and sardonic and cynical thoughts to himself about his colleagues, mildly amused at their to-ing and fro-ing. He has held his energy and talent in reserve for the more important task of advancing his own political career, which means running for president.

But something happened along the way. Voters saw in the Philadelphia debate the responses of a vitamin-deficient Stevenson act-a-like. And in the closing days of the Pennsylvania primary, they saw him alternate between whining about his treatment by Mrs. Clinton and the press, and attacking Sen. John McCain by exaggerating and twisting his words. No one likes a whiner, and his old-style attacks undermine his appeals for postpartisanship.

Read the whole thing.

24 Apr 2008

Worse Than Anthropogenic Global Warming!


24 Apr 2008

Bartleby the Candidate


Dan Collins has got Obama pegged:

Karl Rove reflects on Obama and fleshes out the picture with commentary that seems similar to what I was saying yesterday about Think Progress. In his meta-commentary, Ed Morrissey calls him the Jon Stewart candidate:

Unfortunately for Obama and the Democrats who have carried him so close to the finish line, that “fierce urgency of now” is nothing more than a soundbite for a legislator who doesn’t legislate, an agent of change who hasn’t changes anything, and the beacon of hope who hasn’t felt an urgency to take any action in the “now” for the past three years. He’s been eating his waffle and hanging out with people who don’t like America or Americans much. That qualifies him to work the next Daily Show spin-off, not run the nation.

In my view, “the fierce urgency of now” could possibly pertain to the Waffle Imperative or the Beer Relief Imperative. But most of all, considering his refusal to debate any more (he’s already answered, like, eight questions), he has become the Bartleby candidate.

24 Apr 2008

The Friends of Barack Obama

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John Hinderaker at Power-Line is explaining just who they really are.

Part One

Part Two

If you were going to run for a seat on your local school board, would you launch your first political campaign at these people’s house?

23 Apr 2008


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This anti-Obama ad was produced by the North Carolina GOP. (Good for them!)

0:40 video

And, would you believe this?

John McCain and (the now McCain-ite) Republican National Committee have called upon those tarheels to withdraw the ad, calling it “offensive,” “inappropriate,” and not “respectful.”

23 Apr 2008

Mean Old Witch Steals Nice Black Man’s Primary

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Poor Hillary! Now that she is the less-leftwing alternative for the democrat party, she might just as well return to her Youth-For-Goldwater conservative roots. The democrat’s nutroots base of ultra-leftists hates her these days with a passion normally reserved for Republicans.

Wearing its heart upon its editorial sleeve, the New York Times was mincing no words:

The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.

Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.

Hillary must have bribed Charles Gibson and secretly advised George Stephanopoulos to ask the annointed candidate of Change all those nasty and completely irrelevant questions which cost him the debate and, with it, the Pennsylvania primary. It’s so unfair!

23 Apr 2008

Univited Alligator Drops in for Visit

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ABC News:

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (Clearwater/Tampa area)– An Eastlake Woodlands woman made a beeline for the door when she saw what was next to her refrigerator Monday night.

According to deputies, 69-year-old Sandra Frosti heard a noise coming from her kitchen. When she went to check what it was, she saw the head of a large alligator.

Frosti called 911, “There’s an alligator in my kitchen!” she explained. The emergency operator reportedly suggested it might be an Iguana. Frosti suggested otherwise and left the house.

Deputies showed up at the home a short time later and then called a trapper.

Deputies believe the 8-foot 8-inch (2.64 meter) gator was after the family cat. It apparently broke through the back porch screen door, entered the home through an open sliding glass door, and then made its way in through the living room, down the hall, and into the kitchen.

The gator was slightly injured as it was being trapped, when a plate was knocked to the ground cutting the alligator.


Other saurian attempts at trespass:

posting 29 May 2007

posting – 25 June 2006

23 Apr 2008

“That England, that was wont to conquer others…”

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Meanwhile, in today’s Britain, Bradford has cancelled its St. George’s Day Parade in order to avoid offending Muslims.

Daily Mail:

A St George’s Day parade through an inner-city area hit by race riots has been cancelled following police advice.

Community groups had planned to stage the multi-cultural event in Bradford and 1,500 schoolchildren were due to take part.

Many of the youngsters had already made flags of St George to carry on the parade on April 23, which was designed to boost community cohesion.

But last week police and council chiefs told the organisers that the event could not go ahead as planned for ‘health and safety’ reasons. At a meeting, police demanded a shorter route which avoided two streets at the centre of the race riots in 2001.

As a result, organisers have decided to call off the event, which was due to attract more than 10,000 people.

23 Apr 2008

St. George’s Day

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From Robert Chambers, The Book of Days, 1869:

Butler, the historian of the Romish calendar, repudiates George of Cappadocia, and will have it that the famous saint was born of noble Christian parents, that he entered the army, and rose to a high grade in its ranks, until the persecution of his co-religionists by Diocletian compelled him to throw up his commission, and upbraid the emperor for his cruelty, by which bold conduct he lost his head and won his saintship. Whatever the real character of St. George might have been, he was held in great honour in England from a very early period. While in the calendars of the Greek and Latin churches he shared the twenty-third of April with other saints, a Saxon Martyrology declares the day dedicated to him alone; and after the Conquest his festival was celebrated after the approved fashion of Englishmen.

In 1344, this feast was made memorable by the creation of the noble Order of St. George, or the Blue Garter, the institution being inaugurated by a grand joust, in which forty of England’s best and bravest knights held the lists against the foreign chivalry attracted by the proclamation of the challenge through France, Burgundy, Hainault, Brabant, Flanders, and Germany. In the first year of the reign of Henry V, a council held at London decreed, at the instance of the king himself, that henceforth the feast of St. George should be observed by a double service; and for many years the festival was kept with great splendour at Windsor and other towns. Shakspeare, in Henry VI, makes the Regent Bedford say, on receiving the news of disasters in France:

Bonfires in France I am forthwith to make
To keep our great St. George’s feast withal!’

Edward VI promulgated certain statutes severing the connection between the ‘noble order’ and the saint; but on his death, Mary at once abrogated them as ‘impertinent, and tending to novelty.’ The festival continued to be observed until 1567, when, the ceremonies being thought incompatible with the reformed religion, Elizabeth ordered its discontinuance. James I, however, kept the 23rd of April to some extent, and the revival of the feast in all its glories was only prevented by the Civil War. So late as 1614, it was the custom for fashionable gentlemen to wear blue coats on St. George’s day, probably in imitation of the blue mantle worn by the Knights of the Garter.

In olden times, the standard of St. George was borne before our English kings in battle, and his name was the rallying cry of English warriors. According to Shakspeare, Henry V led the attack on Harfleur to the battle-cry of ‘God for Harry! England! and St. George!’ and ‘God and St. George’ was Talbot’s slogan on the fatal field of Patay. Edward of Wales exhorts his peace-loving parents to

‘Cheer these noble lords,
And hearten those that fight in your defence;
Unsheath your sword, good father, cry St. George!’

The fiery Richard invokes the same saint, and his rival can think of no better name to excite the ardour of his adherents:

‘Advance our standards, set upon our foes,
Our ancient word of courage, fair St. George,
Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons.’

England was not the only nation that fought under the banner of St. George, nor was the Order of the Garter the only chivalric institution in his honour. Sicily, Arragon, Valencia, Genoa, Malta, Barcelona, looked up to him as their guardian saint; and as to knightly orders bearing his name, a Venetian Order of St. George was created in 1200, a Spanish in 1317, an Austrian in 1470, a Genoese in 1472, and a Roman in 1492, to say nothing of the more modern ones of Bavaria (1729), Russia (1767), and Hanover (1839).

23 Apr 2008

Grizzly Bear Kills Trainer

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A grizzly bear that appeared in a recent Will Ferrell movie killed a 39-year-old trainer with a bite to his neck Tuesday and had to be subdued with pepper spray.

Three experienced handlers were working with the bear at Randy Miller’s Predators in Action facility when the bear bit 39-year-old Stephan Miller on the neck, said San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Beavers. Stephan Miller is Randy’s cousin, she said.

The center’s staff used pepper spray to subdue and contain the bear and there were no other injuries, she said.

A county Fire Department traumatic injury response unit responded about 3 p.m., but could not revive Miller.

The Department of Fish and Game will decide the bear’s fate after an investigation, Tiffany Swantek, a spokeswoman for the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station, told the San Bernardino Sun Tuesday.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Phelps said the bear was a 5-year-old male named Rocky. The Predators in Action Web site says Rocky is 7 1/2 feet tall, weighs 700 pounds and appeared in a scene in “Semi-Pro” in which Will Ferrell’s character wrestles a bear to promote his basketball team.

Complete story.

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