Archive for December, 2005
30 Dec 2005

The Lost Ark

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Ark Chapel
The true resting place of the Lost Ark?

The Telegraph reports:

If Indiana Jones had done his homework, he would have found the Ark of the Covenant by raiding a church in the barren mountains of northern Ethiopia.

Many Ethiopians believe that the Ark, containing the stone tablets inscribed with God’s Ten Commandments, rests in the church of St Mary of Zion, at the town of Axum, and some western scholars have endorsed this national myth as true.

The story underpins the country’s sense of identity. Ethiopia believes itself to be a unique nation with an ancient Christian tradition. This fervent patriotism has led Ethiopia into a perilous military confrontation with neighbouring Eritrea.

Axum

30 Dec 2005

CIA Rendition Program Began Under Clinton

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Bush Administration critic Michael Scheuer, author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, appeared in an interview yesterday with Die Zeit , which revealed the origin under the Clinton Administration of several controversial US methods of fighting Terrorism. AFP English report here:

BERLIN (AFP) – The CIA’s controversial “rendition” program to have terror suspects captured and questioned on foreign soil was launched under US president Bill Clinton, a former US counterterrorism agent told a German newspaper.

Michael Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the CIA who resigned from the agency in 2004, told Thursday’s issue of the newsweekly Die Zeit that the US administration had been looking in the mid-1990s for a way to combat the terrorist threat and circumvent the cumbersome US legal system.

“President Clinton, his national security advisor Sandy Berger and his terrorism advisor Richard Clark ordered the CIA in the autumn of 1995 to destroy Al-Qaeda,” Scheuer said, in comments published in German.

“We asked the president what we should do with the people we capture. Clinton said ‘That’s up to you’.”

Scheuer, who headed the CIA unit that tracked Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from 1996 to 1999, said that he developed and led the “renditions” program, which he said included moving prisoners without due legal process to countries without strict human rights protections.

“In Cairo, people are not treated like they are in Milwaukee. The Clinton administration asked us if we believed that the prisoners were being treated in accordance with local law. And we answered, yes, we’re fairly sure.”

At the time, he said, the CIA did not arrest or imprison anyone itself.

Hat tip to Franco Aleman, who cited Davids Medienkritik. What do you suppose the Left is going to say now?

29 Dec 2005

Tomorrow’s Leak

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Send the subpoena to Dana Priest at the Washington Post.

The effort President Bush authorized shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight al Qaeda has grown into the largest CIA covert action program since the height of the Cold War, expanding in size and ambition despite a growing outcry at home and abroad over its clandestine tactics, according to former and current intelligence officials and congressional and administration sources.

The broad-based effort, known within the agency by the initials GST, is compartmentalized into dozens of highly classified individual programs, details of which are known mainly to those directly involved.

GST includes programs allowing the CIA to capture al Qaeda suspects with help from foreign intelligence services, to maintain secret prisons abroad, to use interrogation techniques that some lawyers say violate international treaties, and to maintain a fleet of aircraft to move detainees around the globe. Other compartments within GST give the CIA enhanced ability to mine international financial records and eavesdrop on suspects anywhere in the world.

Add to the list of those indicted for conspiracy to jeopardize national security:

“In the past, presidents set up buffers to distance themselves from covert action,” said A. John Radsan, assistant general counsel at the CIA from 2002 to 2004. “But this president, who is breaking down the boundaries between covert action and conventional war, seems to relish the secret findings and the dirty details of operations.”

And be sure to nail to the barn door, as well, the hide of the:

former CIA officer [who] said the agency “lost its way” after Sept. 11, rarely refusing or questioning an administration request. The unorthodox measures “have got to be flushed out of the system,” the former officer said. “That’s how it works in this country.”

29 Dec 2005

San Francisco, Get the Rice Ready at the Pier

41 year old Sharon Tendler, a British subject of the Jewish faith, plighted her troth yesterday to Cindy, a 35 year old (evidently male) dolphin, in Eilat, Israel.

I’m not a pervert.

said the bride, according to the Bangkok Post.

29 Dec 2005

Michael Crichton’s 11/6 Speech in Washington on Complexity

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Speaking in Washington, last Novermber 6th, on Fear, Complexity, & Environmental Management in the 21st Century, Michael Crichton observed that

one important assumption most people make is the assumption of linearity, in a world that is largely non-linear….

Crichton proceeded to explain the peril of exaggerated linear views, taking predictions of deaths resulting from the reactor meltdown at Chernobyl as an example:

according to the UN report in 2005, is that “the largest public health problem created by the accident (at Chernobyl)” is the “damaging psychological impact [due] to a lack of accurate information…[manifesting] as negative self-assessments of health, belief in a shortened life expectancy, lack of initiative, and dependency on assistance from the state.”

In other words, the greatest damage to the people of Chernobyl was caused by bad information. These people weren’t blighted by radiation so much as by terrifying but false information…

You may know that Australian aborigines fear a curse called “pointing the bone.” A shaman shakes a bone at a person, and sings a song, and soon after, the person dies. This is a specific example of a phenomenon generally referred to as “hex death”—a person is cursed by an authority figure, and then dies. According to medical studies, the person generally dies of dehydration, implying they just give up. But the progression is very erratic, and shock symptoms may play a part, suggesting adrenal effects of fright and hopelessness.

Yet this deadly curse is nothing but information.

This is a must read.

Hat tip to terrye at YARG, who linked Roger L. Simon.

29 Dec 2005

Chicago’s Oldest Restaurant Closing After More than 100 Years

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ABC Chicago’s John Garcia, writing in English-as-a-second-language, reports:

Chicago’s oldest restaurant is closing after more than 100 years in business. The Berghoff will serve its last meal February 28.

The federal government is in the process of acquiring a lot of the buildings in the block around Berghoff’s using meant (sic: should be “eminent”) domain, but they say they wouldn’t dare to touch this restaurant, because it’s too much an important institution in Chicago.

Mayor Daley issued a statement Wednesday saying the Berghoff family has been a very important part of Chicago history, and he says he speaks for many Chicagoans in saying he is sad to see the restaurant close.

The Berghoff is more than just a restaurant, it’s part of Chicago history. The news comes three months after the announcement that Marshall Field’s stores will be renamed Macy’s. Some Chicagoans are worried the city is losing some of the character that makes it so unique…

Chicago author and historian Studs Terkel calls it an important link to Chicago’s past.

“Berghoff seems to be one of the connecting links to the early Chicago that still (sic: ?) healthy good and meant what it said — good food and service,” said Terkel.

The history of Berghoff’s began in 1898 when founder Herman Joseph Berghoff opened the place looking for a way to showcase his authentic Dortmunder-style beer. It went for a nickel a glass back then.

Berghoff survived the prohibition by selling food, and when it was over Berghoff got the city’s first liquor license. It hangs in the restaurant to this day

29 Dec 2005

Latest Bush Administration Civil Liberties Outrage

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Time to summon another special prosecutor and conduct a major Congressional Investigation. Under the Bush Administration, the dread National Security Agency has been caught violating federal law:

The National Security Agency’s Internet site has been placing files on visitors’ computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most files of that type.

The files, known as cookies, disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week. Agency officials acknowledged yesterday that they had made a mistake…

Until Tuesday, the N.S.A. site created two cookie files that do not expire until 2035.

Don Weber, an agency spokesman, said in a statement yesterday that the use of the so-called persistent cookies resulted from a recent software upgrade.

Normally, Mr. Weber said, the site uses temporary cookies that are automatically deleted when users close their Web browsers, which is legally permissible. But he said the software in use was shipped with the persistent cookies turned on.

“After being tipped to the issue, we immediately disabled the cookies,” Mr. Weber said.

In a 2003 memorandum, the Office of Management and Budget at the White House prohibited federal agencies from using persistent cookies – those that are not automatically deleted right away – unless there is a “compelling need.”

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The level of coverage accorded this kind of triviality demonstrates, once again, the generalized dearth of minimal intelligence, technological savoir faire, and rational perspective among the bozos of the MSM.

(yawn)

For anyone who’s worried:

In MS Explorer, to eliminate all, including persistent, cookies, click on TOOLS, INTERNET OPTIONS, then DELETE COOKIES.

In Firefox, click on TOOLS, OPTIONS, PRIVACY, then the CLEAR button in COOKIES.

29 Dec 2005

ACLU Demands Special Prosecutor

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ACLU ad
The ACLU ran this advertisement in the December 29, 2005 edition of The New York Times.

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The Left is trying to impeach the president of the United States in time of war on the basis of pettyfogging and absolutist legal claims against highly pertinent war-time measures to protect American lives from terrorist attacks on urban population centers employing weapons of mass destruction.

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We have an alternative proposal: the Never Yet Melted Herpetological Studies Fellowship Program, providing duration-of-the-war opportunities for the study of Mojave Desert flora & fauna in a safe, barbed-wire-surrounded, environment.

Mojave Desert

29 Dec 2005

Spare the Innocent Muskellunge

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painting  by Don Hechesky Jr.
Don Hechesky Jr., Just Browsing, Muskie
acrylic on canvas, 11 x14″ (27.9 x 35.6 cm), collection of the artist

The muskellunge, Esox masquinongy, a torpedo-shaped predator and the largest member of the pike family, is one of the most desired trophy fish in the Great Lakes region. The musky was named the official Wisconsin state fish in 1955.

Muskies reach a maximum length of over 5 feet. Trophy size is more than 50 inches. A musky can reach a maximum weight of almost 70 pounds. A trophy sized example would weigh 40 pounds or more. The state of Wisconsin has produced more record-size muskies than any other region and holds the world record at 69 pounds and 11 ounces. It takes the average angler 20-80 hours to catch a legal musky, but that doesn’t stop hundreds from trying each year.

The musky hunts by stealth, waiting motionless for its prey to swim by. Muskies are ferocious predators and will eat even other muskies. When a potential victim appears, they will strike, pierce the prey with their large canines, rotate their victim, and swallow it head first. GULP! Muskies frequently devour mice and frogs, and will also sometimes eat ducks and muskrats.

Madison, Wisconsin’s WIBA reports:

PETA is asking Governor Doyle to ban fishing of the state fish. Karin Robertson with the animal rights group admits they’ve tried to get other governors to do the same, with no luck. “Well our expectations is at the very least…that the request will generate interest in the fact that fish are intelligent animals…that they feel pain just like all animals do and that they deserve to be treated with compassion and respect.” Robertson tells WIBA news that fish are just as smart as cats and dogs with complex social structures. She claims fish can eavesdrop on each other.

I’d bet that minnows, perch, sunfish, mice, frogs, ducks, and muskrats would all oppose the musky fishing ban. Look closely at the above picture (by Don Hechesky Jr.). Just how much “compassion and respect” do you suppose old br’er musky is handing out?

28 Dec 2005

Fighting Dems

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John F. Kerry

The tactic of taking an ultra-liberal, soft on defense, and inclined toward anti-US positions overseas, but equipped with some sort of military record, draping him in the flag, and trying to run him for office did not work out so well for the democrats in 2004. But nagging insecurities on the Patriotism front (for some reason) seem inevitably to lead our democrat friends to rush to use the alleged war hero as their front man for appeasement and surrender.

Look at John Murtha, whose Marine Corps background was exploited by the democrats to provide patriotic cover for last month’s trial balloon call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

The MSM obligingly portrayed the faithful hack Murtha as “conservative,” “a hawk,” and a previously strong supporter of the War in Iraq, suddenly converted. But in reality, Murtha’s record on intervention in Iraq was strongly negative until a week before Congress voted overwhelmingly in its favor. Some sources believe Murtha’s willingness to take a leading anti-war position may have been motivated by considerations other than conviction.

And they are going back to the military hero well for the coming 2006 Congressional election. They probably had to turn over a lot of rocks, but they did it. They have found thirty odd veterans, able to walk and talk, and not currently in jail or under indictment, who are actually willing to be described as democrats.

More than 30 Iraq and Persian Gulf War veterans have entered congressional races across the country as Democrats, hoping to capitalize on their military experience to topple the incumbent Republican majority.

In Colorado, two former military men, Jay Fawcett and Bill Winter, are vying for the House seats of two strong, entrenched Republicans: Rep. Joel Hefley of the 5th Congressional District and Rep. Tom Tancredo of the 6th Congressional District, respectively.

“Do we understand military and foreign affairs? You bet,” Fawcett said. “Most of us have been to the point where you get a direct dose of military and foreign affairs, mostly in the category of small-caliber weapons. But we understand that that is just one aspect of national policy.”

On Dec. 20, Fawcett and Winter joined 35 Democratic veterans running for Congress at a strategy session in Washington, D.C.

The veterans voted on a name for their emerging caucuslike campaign coalition: Veterans for a Secure America. They also agreed that their military backgrounds should be promoted as credentials for leadership across the full spectrum of public policy…

Fawcett said the group is not anti-war but is concerned about what appears to be a lack of a solid plan for the war in Iraq. He said the group’s military experience could be crucial in providing better leadership.

The first to succumb to visions of inevitable victory, based upon this brilliant strategy, is none other than Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, Kos himself, hailing it as the Fighting Dems phenomenon:

This country craves leadership, and these guys are providing it unbidden. They are self-organizing, taking the initiative, and taking the fight to the enemy. These guys are rock stars.

Unbidden, eh, Kos? I can just imagine how “unbidden” these guys are.

DaveNYC identifies “the Fighting Dems” web-site, titled Band of Brothers. Like John Cole’s leftie pal Tim F, DaveNYC believes there is strength in numbers, which is to say, you get a whole bunch of ultra-lefties with discharge papers out there, and it’s impossible for fellow veterans to debunk (what the left calls: swiftboat) their military and political records. Time will tell.

28 Dec 2005

Tech Amusements

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A Very Cisco Xmas

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25 Most Interesting Webcams of 2005

28 Dec 2005

Suicidal Perfectionism

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ShrinkWrapped associates the neurotic inclination of the intellectual left toward vehement opposition to any measures to protect America from International Terrorism as similar to patterns of self destructive behavior previously seen in patients of his. In both cases, the pathological behavior, he finds, is grounded in the narcissistic pursuit of perfection

Many years ago a young woman entered Psychoanalysis for chronic problems she was having in maintaining her relationships. She announced at the start that she was an ardent feminist and that her feelings about this were not subjects for analytic review. Early in her treatment, her primary interest seemed to be to initiate arguments with me over male perfidy and oppression of women. It was not easy to maintain my neutral position in the face of near constant attack… The breakthrough came when she casually mentioned toward the end of one session that her ankle was bothering her and she was annoyed (she was almost always annoyed about something, I might add) that she wouldn’t be able to jog that night. Since I knew that she was living in a marginal area of Manhattan and this was at a time when crime was at high levels and much in the news, I had concerns that her jogging might be putting her at risk. When I asked her where she jogged, she confirmed that she jogged in a relatively dangerous area. Her response to my comment to that effect was that women should be allowed to jog wherever and whenever they wished without fear of men and that nothing and nobody, including me, was going to stop her from doing what she wanted.

I was greatly relieved that it did not take long for her to recognize that her angry feminism (which had roots in long term feelings of disgust with her mother and envy of her brother’s exalted position in her family) was inadvertently providing her with a rationalization for dangerous and self destructive behavior. I should point out that both of us agreed that she and every other woman should be free to jog wherever and whenever they wished, but reality required that until such time as this Utopian ideal could be arranged, prudence dictated that she jog at a different time and place as was her wont. When, as often was reported in the news in those days, a woman was assaulted and badly injured near the area she had been jogging, she responded with an anxiety attack; she was stricken with the thought that it could have been her and that there was an unconscious part of her mind that had been inviting just such an outcome. This was the true beginning of a very successful analytic treatment.

This patient from many years ago comes to mind now in the context of the recent flood of “leaks” of intelligence which have been appearing in the New York Times and other MSM outlets. The idea of elevating one’s ideological and/or intellectual ideas above the needs of self-preservation were clearly traceable in my patient to her unconscious needs for self-punishment. She risked her life and well-being for reasons having nothing to do with her conscious motivations (which didn’t make sense on their face).

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