13 Dec 2014

Don’t Mess With Texas

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AlyssaCaldwellMoutainLion
12-Year-Old Alyssa Caldwell and the lion

Mississippi Rebel reports that a New Mexico mountain lion tried stalking a young girl from Odessa, Texas. Unfortunately for the lion, the little girl was deer hunting and carrying a .30-06.

A twelve-year-old girl killed a mountain lion that was threatening to attack her on a hunting trip in New Mexico.

Alyssa Caldwell was hunting elk with her father in October when he left her alone to gather some gear. Almost immediately, she noticed that something was wrong.

“I already had a feeling that something was watching me or something, but I didn’t see the cat until it was close,” she said.

Just feet away, a mountain lion crouched ready to attack. Although she had never shot anything bigger than a white tailed deer, Caldwell knew exactly what to do. She raised her brand new .30-06 and fired, killing the animal instantly.

“I just raised up my gun and shot it point blank long ways through the body because it was facing me when I shot,” she told CBS News. “The cat instantly flopped over right there, of course I kept my gun on it just in case it got up or something like that.”

Her father came running back, thinking she had downed an elk. When he realized what had happened, he fell to his knees and “got emotional,” Alyssa says.

“I definitely could have died,” she added. “It was probably like seconds away from pouncing on me.”

12 Dec 2014

Greenpeace Publicity Stunt Vandalizes Nazca Lines

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GreenPeaceNazcaLines
Posterity may get to see the footprints of Greenpeace activists for another few thousand years.

io9:

The Peruvian government is planning to file criminal charges against Greenpeace activists who may have permanently scarred the Nazca Lines World Heritage Site during a publicity stunt.

As The Guardian reports, the Nazca lines “are huge figures depicting living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary figures scratched on the surface of the ground between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago.” The figures, which can only be seen from the air, are believed to have had ritual functions related to astronomy.

The ground around the site is so sensitive and so sacred that Peru has even forbidden presidents and top officials to walk where the Greenpeace activists went. Peru’s Deputy Culture Minister told the BBC: “You walk there, and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years.” Tourists generally get to see the site from the air, or, on rare occasions, are equipped with special foot gear.

“They are absolutely fragile. They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” said the minister. “And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all.”

Several Greenpeace activists entered into the prohibited area beside the figure of a hummingbird where they laid big yellow cloth letters reading: “Time for Change! The Future is Renewable.” They were also sure to leave a signature. The message was intended for delegates from 190 countries at the UN climate talks being held in Lima.

Peru is planning to file criminal charges against the activists before they leave the country.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

12 Dec 2014

Cayuga’s Waiters: “We Didn’t Go to Harvard”

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Cayuga’s Waiters is clearly a Cornell a capella singing group.

Hat tip to Frank Dobbs.

12 Dec 2014

Ayn Rand Wrote the Plot For This One (While She Was in a Bad Mood)

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ruenzel
The late David Ruenzel and some police drawings of the suspects who shot him.

Downtrend:

David Ruenzel: Guy Who Made A Living Excusing Black Criminality Just Got Murdered By Two Black Oakland Males

A prominent writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center was gunned down by two black males while hiking in Oakland, reports NBC Bay Area News:

    A man who was fatally shot at a park in the Oakland hills on Tuesday afternoon has been identified as David Ruenzel of Oakland, East Bay Regional Park District police said Wednesday.

    . . . They said they are investigating robbery as a possible motive for the crime.

    Ruenzel’s son in a statement said his dad was a loving father, grandfather and best friend. He also described Ruenzel as a brilliant writer and educator who touched the lives of many.

    . . . Police said one of the suspects is described as a man who is black or possibly of mixed race and in his late 20s or early 30s with dreadlocks, a medium complexion, high cheek bones, a narrow face, a thin build and was wearing dark clothing.

    Police said the other suspect is described as a black man who is 6 feet tall, weighs about 240 pounds, is clean shaven with short hair and was wearing dark clothes and a black backpack. Witnesses described the man as being out of shape and “overly friendly,” police said.

Why did he have his life taken away from him? The suspected reason is robbery.

The tragic irony of his murder is that according to Colin Flaherty over at American Thinker, David Ruenzel had made a living using the notion of white privilege to excuse any and all black crime:

    As a writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of this favorite topics was rooting out racism. And how white racism is permanent. White racism is everywhere. And white racism explains everything.

    This mantra of the Critical Race Theory and the Southern Poverty Law Center applied to all white people because, even if they were not personally cracking the whips, or breaking the skulls, white people benefitted from a racist system that did all that — and a lot more.

The greater irony, as Flaherty astutely states, is that Ruenzel was basically an “enabler of black violence” who for whatever reason believed that he was somehow magically “exempt from it.”

12 Dec 2014

Odysseus Homecoming

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OdysseusHomecoming
Georg Jung, Ruckkehr des Odysseus [Odysseus’ Homecoming], 1947, private collection.

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

12 Dec 2014

Ryszard Barylinski, Brushmaker

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Barylinski

A rather charming short 3:54 video about a Polish brushmaker who still produces his wares personally by hand.

11 Dec 2014

Enhanced Interrogations Saved LA

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USBankTowerLA
The US Bank Tower, formerly the Library Tower (left), and the Financial District of Los Angeles: still there.

Marc Thiessen factually refuted the claim that enhanced interrogations were ineffective back in April of 2009 using government memos revealing that Downtown LA is still there only because KSM talked after being waterboarded.

The Justice Department memo of May 30, 2005… notes that “the CIA believes ‘the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.’ . . . In particular, the CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques.” The memo continues: “Before the CIA used enhanced techniques . . . KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will find out.’ ” Once the techniques were applied, “interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast. …

[And] there is more information confirming the program’s effectiveness. The Office of Legal Counsel memo states “we discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM” and notes that “intelligence derived from CIA detainees has resulted in more than 6,000 intelligence reports and, in 2004, accounted for approximately half of the [Counterterrorism Center’s] reporting on al Qaeda.” The memos refer to other classified documents — including an “Effectiveness Memo” and an “IG Report,” which explain how “the use of enhanced techniques in the interrogations of KSM, Zubaydah and others . . . has yielded critical information.” Why didn’t Obama officials release this information as well? Because they know that if the public could see the details of the techniques side by side with evidence that the program saved American lives, the vast majority would support continuing it.

Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, “as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, ‘brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.” In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can — and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that “Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable.” The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.

11 Dec 2014

Torture

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Originally published 24 April 2009.

Torture
Real torture, a very different thing from the infliction of mild and temporary discomfort or a slap.

Torture

[adopted from the French torture (12th century Dictionnaire général de la langue français Hatzfeld & Darmesteter, 1890-1900), adaptation of Latin tortura twisting, wreathing, torment, torture; from torquēre, tort- to twist, to torment]

1. The infliction of excruciating pain, as practised by cruel tyrants, savages, brigands, etc. from a delight in watching the agony of a victim, in hatred or revenge, or as a means of extortion; specifically judicial torture, inflicted by a judicial or quasi-judicial authority, for the purpose of forcing an accused or suspected person to confess, or an unwilling witness to to give evidence or information; a form of this (often in plural). To put to (the) torture, to inflict torture upon, to torture. …

historical examples of usage omitted

2. Severe or excruciating pain or suffering of mind or body; anguish, agony, torment; the infliction of such. …

figurative meanings omitted

– Oxford English Dictionary, 1971, p. 3357.

————————————————-

The left has loudly and persistently accused the Bush Administration of violating International Law, the US Constitution, the Geneva Convention, and conventional standards of human decency by torturing detainees.

These accusations have been advanced by a large variety of allied voices at every level of print and electronic publication employing the same inflammatory characterizations, the same reliance on preassumed conclusions, and the same intimidating tone of exaggerated emotionalism.

The left’s punditocracy naturally avoids ever questioning whether modest forms of coercion, such as waterboarding, slaps to the face or abdomen, sleep deprivation, and deliberately-caused temperature discomfort, etc., carefully and deliberately calculated to stop short of inflicting any enduring harm to the subject, actually do rise to the level of meeting the normal (non-figurative) definition of torture.

A slap to the face may be painful, humiliating, and unpleasant, but it is really “excruciating” or “severe?” Most of us (of the older generation, at least) actually have been slapped in the face in childhood by other children and even by adults. My elementary school principal did not like an angry letter to the editor about her school policies I had composed in the 8th grade and slapped me across the face. I can’t say that I ever thought of myself as a torture victim or an appropriate case for an investigation by some International Committee on Human Rights.

When I read over the list of coercive measures sanctioned by the Bush Administration for use in extracting information from only three of the most important participants in a conspiracy which brought about the violent deaths of more than 3000 innocent American civilians and which was actively in the process attempting further such attacks on an even greater scale, most of them remind me of the ordinary cruelties inflicted on small children commonly by schoolyard bullies.

Waterboarding amounts to the victim being briefly deprived of breath by facial immersion in an attempt to use fear of drowning to compel cooperation. Is there really anyone in America who didn’t have his or her head held underwater at least once by a larger bully or childhood playmate?

Abu Zubaydah was placed by CIA interrogators into close propinquity with a caterpillar. I’m afraid that when I search my own conscience I can recall dropping a caterpillar down the back of at least one female classmate back in the third grade myself.

The controversial coercive interrogation methods were employed by the Bush Administration against, we must remember, only three spectacularly guilty murderers whose hands were dripping with innocent blood, and were clearly not excruciating. They were capable of, and intended to, induce discomfort, probably even anguish, but not agony.

Severe is a relative term, I suppose. But, in the context of forcible interrogation, surely a severe form of coercion would be a practice capable of producing permanent injury or death.

What traditionally defined real torture, more specifically than the OED’s definition, was the permanence of the result. Someone would not be refered to as “tortured,” who had been beaten up or simply slapped around. A person referred to as having been tortured would have to have suffered, at the very least, lasting serious injury.

Torture has always conceptually involved pieces of one’s anatomy being cut or burned, fingernails pulled out, bones broken, and joints dislocated. Having your head dunked or your face slapped or being confronted by a caterpillar may be unpleasant, but only in the context of figurative speech is it torture.

A common perspective on the subject is that real torture has to include an ultimate threat of ending with death. The audience finds credible this viewpoint as illustrated in the 1941 John Huston film version of The Maltese Falcon.

Sam Spade finding himself unarmed in the presence of Caspar Guttman and his criminal allies successfully defies threats of torture because his adversaries can’t afford to kill him.

Joel Cairo: You seem to forget that you are not in a position to insist upon anything.

Caspar Cuttman: Now, come, gentlemen. Let’s keep our discussion on a friendly basis.

There certainly is something in what Mr. Cairo said…

Sam Spade: If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? If I know you can’t afford to kill me, how’ll you scare me into giving it to you?

Caspar Guttman: Sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill.

Sam Spade: Yes, that’s…That’s true. But none of them are any good unless the threat of death is behind them.

You see what I mean?

If you start something, I’ll make it a matter of your having to kill me or call it off.

Caspar Guttman: That’s an attitude, sir, that calls for the most delicate judgement on both sides. Because, as you know, in the heat of action, men are likely to forget where their best interests lie, and let their emotions carry them away.

Look at the first definition again. The coercive tactics employed by the Bush Administration did not produce “excruciating pain.” The US Administration was not a cruel tyranny (whatever the infantile left may chose to think). Our intelligence officers were not savages or brigands, though the three interrogation subjects certainly were. The discomforts inflicted on the three interrogation subjects were not done out of hatred or revenge, but to protect innocent lives. The only small portion of the Oxford Dictionary’s definition which fits is the purpose of causing unwilling witnesses to provide information. But that is only a descriptive portion of the definition, and the vital and key “excruciating pain” element of the definition is completely missing.

QED: The coercive tactics employed by the Bush Administration against three Al Qaeda detainees were not torture, not by the best dictionary definition of the word, and not by our conventional “ordinary language” understanding of the meaning of the word.

11 Dec 2014

Largest White Truffle Sold at Auction

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white-truffle-4.16

Italia Living:

[A] record-setting 4.16-pound [1.8869 k.] white truffle [Tuber magnatum] found by Sabatino Truffles in Umbria, Italy, has sold for $61,250 at a New York City auction.

Sotheby’s says the fungus was sold Saturday to a food and wine lover from Taiwan bidding by phone.

The firm had said it turned down million-dollar offers from buyers in China. Instead, it chose to auction the truffle in New York to benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels and the Children’s Glaucoma Foundation.

Sabatino Truffles spokeswoman Jane Walsh had said the truffle was slightly smaller than an American football. She says the average white truffle that’s unearthed is about the size of a walnut.

Sotheby’s says the previous largest white truffle ever found was 2.5 pounds [1.1339 k.].

Via Ratak Monodosico.

10 Dec 2014

“Use the Whole Damned Egg!”

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“A St. Louis news station reconsiders its morning programming in light of the Ferguson riots.” Not actually aired by SNL, allegedly because it was too long. Right.

Via Vanderleun.

09 Dec 2014

One Man’s Choice 73 Years Ago

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LtCesarBasa
Lieutenant Cesar Baza, Philippine Army Air Corps (1915 – 12 December 1941)

Richard Fernandez had a very nice Pear Harbor day posting.

[L]iberty is the building block of history; the primitive element of biography. It is perhaps even the building block of reality. Without choice — free will — everything is mechanical sound and fury. To understand this clearly, recall that today marks the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a moment now on the furthest fringe of living memory. Suppose the significance of that long-ago day consists not in the physical events which occurred, as if the bombs were just rocks tumbling down the hillside of some mountain, but in the things that were chosen that day.

Our telescopes are turned outward seeking Dyson Spheres in the vast reaches of the cosmos for proof of life. Yet I have on my hard drive the picture of a man long ago dead, part of a group of fliers who rose in [horribly obsolete -JDZ] Boeing P-26 Peashooters to challenge Zeros over Batangas province on December 12, 1941. The pilot did not survive the day. In some modern cosmology there is multiverse where he landed safely; just as there is one where all the battleships at Pearl Harbor rode out the day peacefully at anchor. There is a multiverse where America surrendered to Japan. But while those multiverses may exist in potential, the universe we have, through the operation of choice is the one where the flag flies, unvanquished to this day. But that particular today had its price. To purchase it the pilot could not land and the proud warships were forbidden to live out the day.

09 Dec 2014

Not All Lives Matter?

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Tweet69

Clearly they don’t at Smith. That illustrious girls’ school’s president recently had to apologize for saying such a thing.

Campus Reform:

The president of Smith College was forced to apologize after she sent out a campus wide email saying “all lives matter” instead of the rally cry of Ferguson protesters—“black lives matter.”

In the original email, obtained by Campus Reform, Kathleen McCartney used “all lives matter” in the email detailing the “struggle” and “hurt” the Smith community was experiencing following the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

“We gather in vigil, we raise our voices in protest; yet we wake again to news of violence that reminds us, painfully, of the stark reality of racial injustice,” McCartney wrote.

McCartney also announced the college’s plan to institute a new Chief Diversity Officer to support programs and conversations to advance social justice.

However, it was the subject line that had Smith students up in arms. Students took to social media to chastise McCartney, blaming her skin color for her lack of understanding.

“No, Kathy. Please do not send out an email saying ‘All lives matter.’ This isn’t about everyone, this is about black lives,” Sophia Buchanan, a Smith student, said on Twitter.

“[P]eople are upset because…[K]athy (and other white people) clearly doesn’t understand the importance of holding black lives central to the conversation,” one student wrote on an anonymous online confessional. “Black lives can’t be central to the conversation if the word black isn’t even in the title.”

Six hours later, McCartney apologized in a separate email to the student body, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. McCartney alleged that she was not aware the term “all lives matter” could be used by some on social media to supposedly counter the “black lives matter” movement. …

Sophomore Cecelia Lim told the news outlet that McCartney should have apologized.

“It felt like she was invalidating the experience of black lives,” said Lim.

09 Dec 2014

Senate Democrats Arm the Left With Partisan Intelligence Report

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De_Niro


Spence (Sean Bean): – lnterrogation.

Sam (Robert De Niro): – What ?

Spence: – Methods to withstand interrogation.

Sam: – You’ve done that ?

Spence: -We were taught to hold out indefinitely.

Sam: – Nobody can hold out indefinitely.

Spence: – Ah, is that so ?

Sam: -Everybody has a limit. l spent some time in interrogation… once.

Spence: – They make it hard on you ?

Sam: – They don’t make it easy.

– Yeah, it was unpleasant. l held out as long as l could.

– All the stuff they tried.

– You just can’t hold out for ever.

– lmpossible.

Spence: – How’d they finally get to you ?

Sam: – They gave me a grasshopper.

Spence: – What’s a grasshopper ?

Sam: -Let’s see… That’s two part gin, two part brandy, one part crème de menthe…

–“Ronin” (1998).

—————————

What Sam mockingly tells the pretender Spence in “Ronin” (1998) is a truth generally recognized by all adults in the military & the intelligence community: Nobody can resist all forms of coercive interrogation indefinitely.

There is, however, serious dissent on this obvious truth from the left-wing democrat party establishment, and particularly from prominent portions of the Gay commentariat.

Democrats, having just lost control of the Senate, are leaving power in the manner of dead skunk, leaving a terrible odor behind them, with today’s cynical publication of a totally partisan official intelligence report, concluding that enhanced interrogation (not even the trained attack caterpillar!) never worked, the CIA allegedly misinformed the rest of the government about the results of enhanced interrogation, the CIA roughed up some of the prisoners in manners and forms displeasing to the sensibilities of Senate democrats, confinement conditions were bleak, and the CIA was generally naughty, misleading, evasive, and destructive both to good government and the standing of the US in the world(!).

It is a total hatchet job, and it will be interesting to watch over time what the CIA does to democrats, particularly to Nancy Pelosi, in response.

Jose A. Rodriquez Jr. ran the CIA Interrogation Program, and he responded, back in April, to what was obviously coming.

On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify and release hundreds of pages of its report on U.S. terrorist interrogation practices. Certain senators have proclaimed how devastating the findings are, saying the CIA’s program was unproductive, badly managed and misleadingly sold. Unlike the committee’s staff, I don’t have to examine the program through a rearview mirror. I was responsible for administering it, and I know that it produced critical intelligence that helped decimate al-Qaeda and save American lives.

The committee’s staff members started with a conclusion in 2009 and have chased supportive evidence ever since. They never spoke to me or other top CIA leaders involved in the program, or let us see the report.

In other words, that report is just a partisan crock.

08 Dec 2014

Flash Mob: The U.S. Air Force Band at the Smithsonian

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