Archive for December, 2006
31 Dec 2006

We Arrest Them; They Release Them

, ,

The Washington Post reports:

Two senior Iranian operatives who were detained by U.S. forces in Iraq and were strongly suspected of planning attacks against American military forces and Iraqi targets were expelled to Iran on Friday, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.

The decision to free the men was made by the Iraqi government and has angered U.S. military officials who say the operatives were seeking to foment instability here.

“These are really serious people,” said one U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They were the target of a very focused raid based on intelligence, and it would be hard for one to believe that their activities weren’t endorsed by the Iranian government. It’s a situation that is obviously troubling.”

More details here:

Two Iranians detained by U.S. forces in Iraq were senior members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and had coordinated attacks against coalition troops and Iraqi civilians, the head of an Iranian opposition group said Thursday.

The White House said earlier this week that U.S. troops had caught a group of Iranians in a raid on suspected insurgents in Iraq. Two of the men had diplomatic immunity and were released them to Iran, but the other two were kept in custody.

Maryam Rajavi, who heads the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NICR), an anti-regime umbrella group based in Paris, said the two men being held were senior members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods force and were responsible for sectarian attacks in Iraq.

She cited the group’s intelligence officials as the source of the information.

It was not possible to independently verify Rajavi’s claim, but the group has provided relatively accurate information on developments in Iran over the past several years, including details on the country’s secretive nuclear program.

In Washington, a Pentagon official said Thursday that U.S. forces had found “indications and evidence that all of the people rounded up, including the two Iranians, are involved in the transfer of IED technologies from Iran to Iraq.”

IED stands for improvised explosive devices, or small bombs that are commonly used in attacks in Iraq.

The U.S. military has confirmed that troops found documents, but it was not clear if any actual explosives were found.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not yet been made public, said that U.S. forces are currently working out ways to turn over the Iranians to the Iraqis, but that has not been resolved as yet.

In Baghdad, a spokesman for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Monday that the two detained Iranians were in the country at his invitation.

But U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell confirmed Thursday that the detained men were part of a group of 10 suspects taken into custody after the raid on Dec. 21. They were being interrogated by U.S. intelligence, he said.

U.S. officials have charged that Iran provides training and other aid to Shiite militias in Iraq, including equipment used to build roadside bombs. Tehran denies this and says it only has political and religious links with Iraqi Shiites.

There is good reason to suppose that significant Shi’ite elements of the Iraqi government are working with Iran, but why is the Kurdish President of Iraq inviting Iranian agents provocateurs into the country to organize acts of terrorism? So much for naive Wilsonianism.

31 Dec 2006

Which Super Hero Are You?

,

My results:

You are Superman

You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

QUIZ

30 Dec 2006

Top Geek Quotes

,

If at first you don’t succeed; call it version 1.0

I would love to change the world, but they won’t give me the source code.

A Life? Cool! Where can I download one of those?

link

30 Dec 2006

Proposed Resort Hotel Songjian, China

,

China is planning to build a 400 room resort-hotel in a water-filled quarry in Songjiang. Atkins Architectural Group won the international design competition.

Hat tip to Andy G.

29 Dec 2006

Rightwing Shrinks, Who Would Have Imagined Such a Thing?

, ,

Before the blogosphere came along, I would never even have suspected that such a thing as a skeptical, rational, freedom-loving, Republican-voting alienist existed.

But I read Dr. Sanity and Shrinkwrapped regularly, who certainly thoroughly discredit my former naive assumptions that anyone associated with, or trained in, any form or species of the social sciences simply has to be some kind of leftist.

Dr. Joy Bliss, over at Maggie’s Farm, has a larger list than my own of the non-collectivist psychologically-inclined to which she has added a meditation on freedom and the psyche.

It has been a wonder to me that so many folks in the mind and soul-treating professions are so non-freedom-minded, when these professions are designed to free people from their inner demons which restrict their taking on life freely, cheerfully, and energetically, in the way they see fit, and taking their own chances and making their own choices – in free societies. Freedom is what they are all about, and why psychoanalysis and psychotherapy are never permitted in totalitarian states.

I need to keep an eye on this lady’s postings, and I believe I am going to arrange a new Psychology link category.

29 Dec 2006

Celebrating the New Year With a Sardine

, ,

The Boston Globe reports on some cities with more colorful approaches than New York’s.

As the 1,070-pound Waterford crystal ball begins its descent in New York’s Times Square on Sunday night, a few hundred souls in Eastport , Maine, 570 miles to the northeast, will lift their eyes and watch their own harbinger of the New Year: a 22-foot-long sardine.

The sardine is a symbol for the easternmost city in the United States, where canneries were once a booming industry. The canneries are gone, and Eastport is known as an artsy seaside community with galleries and a quaint downtown. But the sardine is a new New Year’s Eve tradition.

“We thought it was intriguing enough, bizarre enough, that it might catch some interest,” said Hugh French , director of Eastport’s Tides Institute & Museum of Art , which will lower the sardine on Sunday night.

Eastport is not alone. Across the country, enterprising civic cheerleaders have come up with all manner of local versions of the Times Square countdown.

In North Carolina, Brasstown drops a live opossum in a cage from the top of a country store.

In Pennsylvania, Lebanon drops a massive bologna.

In Florida, Key West boasts three drops within a mile of one another — a conch shell, a woman dressed as a pirate wench, and a drag queen named Sushi, generally ensconced in a red high-heeled shoe.

29 Dec 2006

10 Downing Street

,

Telegraph article

virtual tour

29 Dec 2006

Victor’s Justice

, ,

Saddam Hussein was a pertinacious enemy of the United States, a notorious sponsor of international terrorism, and had the effrontery to attempt the assassination of a president of the United States. He brought his own downfall upon himself by persisting in violating the ceasefire agreement which ended the Gulf War.

If the US general in command of the unit which captured Saddam had promptly hailed him before a drumhead courtmartial, stood him up against a wall, and shot him at dawn, I don’t see how anyone could complain of the injustice of US actions.

Turning the vanquished dictator, however, to the petty political opponents he had always previously defeated to be hanged after a show trial is a policy unworthy of a great power. The 19th century was usually more civilized. Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena. Even Mexico’s Santa Anna was accorded refuge in New Jersey, where he repaid America’s clemency by introducing Americans to chewing gum.

The United States finds itself divided at home over the war in Iraq. Surely Saddam could be useful in clearing up Americans’ confusion about his role in terrorism and about those missing WMDs, and in elucidating his own plans for the current insurgency. Why not offer the condemned prisoner a deal?

In return for Saddam agreeing to testify fully and frankly about his regime’s relationship with Islamic terrorist groups, possible ties to the 9/11 conspiracy, about his WMD programs, and the evacuations to Syria, if he discloses pre-invasion plans for the current insurgency, and calls for Ba’athists generally to make peace with the new parliamentarty regime, we could offer him clemency and asylum in exile. The information he could provide would be a lot more valuable than the pathetic spectacle of his execution.

28 Dec 2006

Lonely in Iraq

, ,

Scott Hennen received the above photo of John Kerry at breakfast from a friend in Iraq.

This is a true story…..Check out this photo from our mess hall at the US Embassy yesterday morning. Sen. Kerry found himself all alone while he was over here. He cancelled his press conference because no one came, he worked out alone in the gym w/o any soldiers even going up to say hi or ask for an autograph (I was one of those who was in the gym at the same time), and he found himself eating breakfast with only a couple of folks who are obviously not troops.

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin.

28 Dec 2006

Fate of Confederate Heroes Uncertain at University of Texas

, , , , ,

A common tragic reality of our time is that positions of power and responsibility typically go to the mediocre conformists who successfully climb the greasy pole of life, one finger cautiously raised in the air at every level of ascent. In a better world, the president of the University of Texas would be a gentleman of sound principles and liberal education, capable of feeling a sense of loyalty to his state and region’s history, courageous enough to withstand the divisive demands of rabblerousers and demagogues, and dignified enough to dismiss the unseemly impulses of fashion.

William C. Powers, the current president of the University of Texas, is not such a man.

he plans to form an advisory committee to study whether something should be done about numerous campus statues honoring the Confederacy.

The statues have in recent history become a topic of debate among students, professors and administrators.

They include four bronze figures on the South Mall honoring Confederate leaders such as Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States, and Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Powers said he plans to appoint a committee of advisers early next year, probably including faculty and students.

“The whole range of options is on the table,” Powers said.

And when the wheel turns, and the most vulgar political fashion requires a different outrage, like Germany’s 1930s removal of books by Jewish authors from university libraries, the likes of President Powers will be again appointing committees made up of the most ideologically-infected and trendy students and faculty to decide the university’s course of action. And the decision will always be in favor of the bonfire.

28 Dec 2006

The Grinches (Who Didn’t Get a Free Notebook) Spoil Xmas

, , , , ,

Those jolly little elves at Microsoft and AMD handed out to a number of bloggers (but not this one, alas!) as Xmas presents for review purposes brand new Acer Ferrari notebook computers, retailing for $2,299.

But, predictably enough, jealous grinches (who obviously didn’t get theirs) started accusing the elves of Redmond of bribing bloggers, forsooth.

APC

Slashdot

So, inevitably, the elves got nervous and upset, decided it was safer to turn Indian-giver, and send the fortunate bloggers the following request:

Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding of our intentions I’m going to ask that you either give the pc away or send it back when you no longer need it for product reviews.

Hat tip to Techmeme.

28 Dec 2006

Stradivari’s Secret Discovered?

, ,

The Houston Chronicle reports that Joseph Nagyvary, a biochemist at Texas A&M University, thinks he has.

A starter violin costs about $200. A finely crafted modern instrument can run as much as $20,000. But even that’s loose change when compared with a violin made three centuries ago by Antonio Stradivari.

His 600 or so surviving violins can cost upward of $3.5 million.

For more than a century, artists, craftsmen and scientists have sought the secret to the prized instruments’ distinct sound. Dozens have claimed to have solved the mystery, but none has been proved right.

Now, a Texas biochemist, Joseph Nagyvary, says he has scientific proof the long-sought secret is chemistry, not craftsmanship. Specifically, he says, Stradivari treated his violins with chemicals to protect them from wood-eating worms common in northern Italy. Unknowingly, Nagyvary says, the master craftsman gave his violins a chemical noise filter that provided a unique, pleasing sound.

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted for December 2006.

















Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark