Kidnapped by Japan - How A Mother's Dying Wish Led To A Father's Unimaginable Loss

Read the story here

Friday, April 11, 2008

Saving The Earth One Olympic Torch At A Time

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Forget the whole Tibet/China thing; there a real reason to put out the Olympic torch: to save the Earth.

So when the torch isn't being marched through city streets and/or extinguished by protesters, how is it getting around? You guessed it, by plane -- an Air China A330 custom painted with the Olympic logo and color scheme. The A330 burns 5.4 gallons of fuel per mile. That translates into 462,400 gallons for the entire trip. With Earthlab estimating that every gallon of jet fuel burned produces 23.88 pounds of CO2, the Olympic Torch Relay is adding about 11 million pounds of carbon to the atmosphere. That's 5,500 tons.

London has a plan to ensure that the 2012 torch relay ends up carbon neutral, so we figured that Beijing must have one too, right? Sally Lu, the frazzled Olympic media relations rep that we reached in Beijing, says that if there is a plan to neutralize the torch-carrying jet's carbon emissions, she hasn't heard about it. But she thinks there is one. Probably.
For all our children's sake, let us hope there is!

Cross-Posted at Liberty Pundit

That's What Friends Are For

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The Democrats are forever bemoaning the poor relations the US supposedly has with other nations under George W. Bush, as the quote above shows. We now have a pretty good idea of who the Democrats would like to buddy up to and who they're happy to kick to the curb.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives will effectively kill a free trade deal with Colombia by voting later on Thursday to delay action on it indefinitely, a White House spokeswoman said.

"We believe that if the Democrats decide to hold this vote today they are effectively killing the Colombia free trade agreement and there are lots of consequences that go along with that," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

President George W. Bush sent the Colombia free trade agreement to Congress on Tuesday in an attempt to force a vote on it before the end of the year.

The Democrats are saying that their objection is based on the amount of violence levelled at unionists in Columbia but this claim is shown to be hollow in light of the fact that such deaths have actually decreased 88% from 2002-2007. The real reason for their lack of support is the fact that US unions don't like the bill and the Dems can hear their masters' voice. The ramifications of dissing Columbia, a true US ally in an area of the world we need to be promoting free market democracies are that communist, America -hater Hugo Chavez is strengthened and the US's credibility is weakened.

Now we know who the Dems want for friends:

And who they don't:

Cross-Posted at Liberty Pundit

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Goodbye, Norma Jean

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According to The Politico, at a Radio City rally for Hillary, Sir Elton John had this to say,

"I never cease to be amazed at the misogynist attitude of some of the people in this country," "I say to hell with them."

Hey, at least its not "God Damn America".

It's Miller Time

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Jimmy Carter: Bad President, Bad Man

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It is, of course undeniable that Jimmy Carter is a legend. Few Presidents have failed so monumentally as he. He brought us the first of the modern Islamofascist regimes when he ushered in the Ayotollah Khomeini in Iran. He devestated the American economy with faux oil shortages, he made accusations of American malaise (when the only malaise the American people felt was caused by his being in office), he brought 12% rate of inflation, 20% interest rates, a hostage crisis and on and on and on.

His post-Presidency has been equally illustrious and author Steven F. Hayward documented all the damage Carter has done both during and after his term in office in "The Real Jimmy Carter: How Our Worst Ex-President Undermines American Foreign Policy, Coddles Dictators and Created the Party of Clinton and Kerry"

When it comes to the belligerence of North Korea, Carter's past involvement has done considerable damage. In the early 1990s, Carter traveled to North Korea on another of his "peacekeeping missions" and brokered a deal with dictator Kim Il Sung. He did so without the blessing of the Clinton administration, although, at the behest of then-Vice President Al Gore, President Clinton later agreed to adopt Carter's deal. The United States ended up providing aid, oil and, incredibly, material for building light-water nuclear reactors to the North Koreans in exchange for their abandoning their nuclear weapons program. The problem is they didn't abandon their nuclear weapons program; they just said they did. And in 2002, they admitted as much. Still, to this day, Carter claims that his approach was a success and that it was President Bush's inclusion of North Korea in the famous "axis of evil" speech that led to current leader Kim Jong Il's hostility toward America.

The fruits of Carter's history with Iran are even more rotten. Carter's abandonment of the shah in 1977-78 helped lead to the Islamic revolution (and the murder or imprisonment of many of the Iranian leftists who had supported overthrowing the shah), the emboldening of the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan and the rise of radical Islam worldwide. His botched approach to the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 inspired Islamic terrorists all over the world, culminating in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The threat of nuclear war emanating from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can be seen as another offshoot of Carter's ineffective policies. Predictably, Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski, his former national security adviser, are now pushing for "direct talks" with Iran. But considering the abject failure of U.N.-brokered negotiations (supported by the Bush administration) thus far, it is difficult to imagine how U.S.-led negotiations would fare any better.

Wherever U.S. interests have been imperiled and a temporary "peace" could be bought at the expense of long-term security, Carter has always been on board. The late Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan summed it up when he said of Carter in 1980, "Unable to distinguish between our friends and our enemies, he has essentially adopted our enemies' view of the world."
Not satisfied with this level of disgraceful behavior Carter has pushed on to new heights of awfulness. His anti-semitism, which hitherto managed to elude most of the mainstream media during his Presidency (His Secretary of State once famously said that if Carter had had a second term, he would have "sold Israel down the river." ) has lately taken center stage. His recent book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid raised such a furor with what many considered to be its blatant anti-Semitism that fourteen members of his own Carter Center resigned in protest.

So it is not surprising that today this news comes:

JERUSALEM – The Hamas terrorist organization has confirmed to WND plans are in the works for former President Jimmy Carter to meet the chief of Hamas on a trip this month to Syria.

Sources in the Gaza Strip office of Ismail Haniyeh, the deposed prime minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, confirmed Hamas is in talks with Carter's representatives about setting up a meeting during his trip, scheduled for later this month.

The Hamas sources said no concrete date has been set but that Carter has expressed interest in meeting Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal, who resides in Syria.

In a statement to Fox News today, Carter's press secretary, Deanna Congileo, did not deny the former president was slated to meet Meshaal.

"President Carter is planning a trip to the Mideast next week; however, we are still confirming details of the trip and will issue a press release by the end of this week," Congileo said. "I cannot confirm any specific meetings at this point in time."

Earlier, Ahmed Yousuf, Hamas' top political adviser in the Gaza Strip, claimed to WND he wasn't aware of any Carter-Meshaal meeting.

"I don't know anything about any such meeting," said Yousuf, who advises Haniyeh.

Israeli security officials say Meshaal is responsible for coordinating all elements of Hamas and for calling for many of its major terror attacks.

Hamas is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization. The group is responsible for scores of deadly suicide bombings, and thousands of shooting attacks and rocket firings against civilian population centers.

Just today, Hamas-allied gunmen took part in the deadly shooting of two Israeli civilians near the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. quoted a State Department spokesman in Washington stating the U.S. government is concerned about Carter's unsanctioned trip to Syria, which the Bush administration has been trying to isolate.

"The State Department has expressed our concerns and advised President Carter that past engagement with the Syrian regime has not produced positive results," the spokesman said.

If the meeting with Hamas takes place, Carter would be the highest-level American to meet with Hamas.
The evidence is in. The jury is back. The verdict is certain: Jimmy Carter wasn't just a bad President. He's a bad man.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Climate Change Crazy - Not What You Think

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The headline reads, Climate change leads to psychiatric illness: WHO so naturally I thought it was going to be an article about Al Gore and how society is ready to finally give him and his "We'll all be cannibals" minions the psychiatric care they all so desperately need. But nope, I should have known better. Instead of challenging Al's sanity the article is about yet another monstrous ramification of global warming.

New Delhi: Establishing a link between climate change and mental health, the World Health Organisation has said extreme weather conditions like floods, droughts and natural calamities can lead to psychiatric illnesses.

"Psychosocial illnesses are a part of the various health issues associated with climate change," Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Deputy Regional Director, WHO, said.

Anticipating that severe flooding may become more frequent due to global warming, a WHO report said that independent studies in cyclone-affected Orissa and a flooded town in England has shown that post-traumatic stress disorder syndromes of different severity in affected people even after an year.
So it seems, not only will we be eating each other we're all going to be really stressed about it, too. Global warming sucks, man. Really sucks.

Fred Kagan Explains The World

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American Enterprise Institute resident scholar and one of the major architects of the current Iraq surge Fred Kagan has written a a lengthy piece for NRO Why Iraq Matters, Talking back to anti-war party talking points.

It's probably a good thing that moonbats everywhere already see him as Rudolph Hess to Bush's Hitler as Kagan apologetically faces down many of the anti-war Left's arguments against the Iraq war and this article would certainly put a bullseye on his forehead, if it weren't already permanently affixed there by the Left.

He comes out of the gate, both guns blazing and letting the war's opponents know that their ever-changing reasons for pulling out would have real world ramifications:

Yes, in the world as it is, whatever line we sell ourselves, there really is victory and there really is defeat, the two are different, and their effects on the future diverge profoundly. And yes, the reason we must continue to spend money and the lives of the very best Americans in that far-off land is that the interests of every American are actually at stake.
He makes no effort to disguise his distaste for the Left's cynicism.

The antiwar party rather gleefully seized upon recent Iraqi Security Forces operations against Sadr’s militia and other illegal gangs as proof of this — the general glee with which the antiwar party has greeted any setback in Iraq is extremely distasteful and unseemly, whatever domestic political benefits they believe they will receive from those setbacks.
And then he begins to dismantle their arguments. He dispatches the "The War Cost Too Much" mantra by comparing Iraq War costs with the costs of previous wars.

Military spending in World War II ranged from 17.8 percent of GDP to 37.5 percent; in Korea from 5.0 percent (in 1950 — 7.4 percent in 1951) to 14.2 percent; in Vietnam from 7.4 percent to 9.4 percent. Current expenditures on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars bring total defense expenditures to something well below 5 percent of GDP. Even granting the simplistic and misleading $3 trillion figure, $3 trillion is about 5 percent of the nearly $60 trillion American GDP over the five years of the war.
He also deals with the related complaint that "The war has caused the upcoming recession" with ease as well.

Defense spending as a percentage of total federal spending is now around 20 percent. In World War II, it ranged from 73 percent to 89.5 percent; in Korea it ranged from 32.2 percent (1950 — 51.8 percent in 1951) to 69.5 percent; and in Vietnam from 42.8 percent to 46 percent. In more context: at the height of spending on this war, defense spending was only 12.3 percent of all public spending (including federal, state, and local expenditures); in World War II the high was 82.1 percent; in Korea, 52.5 percent; and in Vietnam 31.3 percent.

And he puts the lie to the assertion that "High gas prices are the result of the war — and ending the war would lower gas prices."

Oil prices do not rise because American forces are in the Middle East — they rise because of instability and fighting in the Middle East. One of the most dramatic increases in oil prices in history occurred during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, when no American forces were present.

One of the arguments that I've always found to be most insincere coming from the Left is their programmed, "We're spending money on X "that would otherwise be spent on more important domestic programs. "

In the real world, there is no way that even a Democratic Congress would spend $100 billion a year in non-offset emergency authorizations for education or health care, even if some war critics think that they would like it to do so. As for increasing domestic spending, those who believe that we should raise taxes and spend more money on domestic programs can still advocate that policy, whatever its wisdom. This isn’t an argument about the cost of the war — it’s an argument about whether we want to have higher taxes to pay for increased domestic spending.
He goes on and on like this, puncturing holes in the Left's varied arguments, revealing them to be the political showthings that most of them are rather than thoughtful, reasoned arguments. The only area in which I think his argument goes weak is in addressing the Arab World's readiness for democracy. He holds up various modern states and populations as examples of how well Muslims can function under democratic rule. There are problems with all of his examples. Indonesia is hardly an example of a stable, long-lived democracy. Any discussion of Muslims in Europe being an example of how easily they can adapt to Western-style democratic ideals just doesn't pass the sniff test. If Kagan were to visit some of the Parisian suburbs or London's mosques he might rethink using these as examples of how ready Muslims are to enter the "Free World". The one example he gives that might have some legs is Turkey, but there are stresses in that country too that might yet cause Kagan to reconsider his confidence.

Of all the arguments the Left uses to attack the war, the above may be their best and seems to demand more attention than the President's "All men yearn for freedom" talk indicates that it is getting. But this argument would change the whole complexion of the Left's anti-war rationales, requiring a good faith effort to develop strategies to assist the Muslim World to reform itself into a more modern form. The Left doesn't want that. They want George W. Bush destroyed. They want him to lose and if it means (as of course it would) that America loses too, that's fine with them.

Kagan points out why their arguments are as insubstantial as their motivations. His article is well worth reading.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Iraq v. Mahdi Army - The Real Story

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The recent stories about the battles between Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the Iraqi Army, in which al-Sadr was declared the victor despite calling for a ceasefire are starting to fall apart. Intuitively it just seemed wrong that al-Sadr was laying down his arms when he was supposedly giving the Iraqi government a shellacking. Well chalk one up for intuition. According to a Center for Threat Awareness symposium Iraq v. Mahdi Army (hat tip to NRO's The Tank) the media (surprise!) got it wrong.

Bill Roggio, Military Operations analyst of The Long War Journal: On March 25, the Iraqi security forces, under the command of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, launched Operation Knights Assault against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-back Shia terror groups in the port city of Basrah. The Iraqi forces met stiff resistance in Basrah as the whole of Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army rushed to fight the security forces. A brigade from the Iraqi Army apparently cracked under the offensive, and about 500 soldiers “underperformed or defected” along with about 400 police. The Iraqi brigade was only five weeks out of training; it is the Army’s newest formation.

The Iraqi military immediately began rushing forces into Basrah; about 7,000 soldiers, special forces, and SWAT units were moved to Basrah to join the fight. Meanwhile Mahdi Army forces attacked in Baghdad and the wider South. US and Iraqi forces killed nearly 200 Mahdi fighters in Baghdad The Iraqi security forces quickly restored security in the cities of Najaf, Karbala, Hillah, Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, Al Kut, and Amarah with minimal US assistance.

Just as the new Iraqi forces began to arrive in Basrah and US and British forces were gearing up to augment the Iraqi military, Muqtada al Sadr, under orders from Iran’s Qods Force, called for his fighters to withdraw from the streets. Sadr issued a nine-point list of demands, which included that operations cease. Maliki refused and Iraqi and US forces continued to move into Basrah and conduct pinpoint raids against Shia terror groups. More than 200 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 700 were wounded, and 300 captured during the six days of fighting in Basrah alone.

Maliki has said the military will continue to operate against the Mahdi Army, and US and Iraqi forces have kept Sadr City and Shula in Baghdad under curfew. Forces have been reported to be slowly moving into the Mahdi Army stronghold.

In other words, despite taking some punishment from al-Sadr's army the Iraqi forces pressed (and continue to press) onward. They now have control of the valuable Basran seaports. It seems that the press was too willing to buy the rather unlikely scenario that at the moment when he was looking victory in the eye al-Sadr was choosing negotiations instead.

It would be easy to blame this very large error on journalistic bias against the war and no doubt this played a part. But even more evenhanded outlets (Fox News) seemed to buy the erroneous interpretation of what happened. The Center for Threat Awareness (CTA) makes a reasonable suggestion about how to prevent or at least lessen such poor reporting in the future:
“Do we want to lose?” That is a question believed by many to unfortunately be perhaps less than rhetorical in nature. We at the Center for Threat Awareness have long held that the American public would be much better served and more accurately informed if we had more military veterans in a journalistic operation rather than journalism veterans in a military operation.

The media no doubt is looking forward to General Petraeus' testimony before Congress this week to watch members of that body slam the General on the recent escalation of violence in Iraq. Petraeus has a better story to tell than Democrats would like to hear. It will be interesting to see how honestly that story is told by the press.

My Next Read

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Stanley Kurtz over on NRO's The Corner points out what looks to be a good, informative read. The book, Culture and Conflict In The Middle East by Philip Carl Salzman is an answer to the late Palestinian academic Edward Said's theory of "Oreintalism" which places much of the blame for the current problems of the Middle East squarely at the door of US and Israeli policy decisions.

Salzman refutes this conception of the causes of current terrorism by focusing on Middle Eastern tribal culture with Islam as only a part of a greater cultural milieu. The idea of tribalism is generally alien to Western thought so it is easy to see how it can be relegated to a minor role in Arab affairs but it is, in fact central as can be seen regularly in Afghanistan and Iraq most notably, today.
Kurtz has a nice review here that should whet your appetite. It did mine and I look forward to finding out more about a perspective that is out of fashion and generally little noticed in the West.

Monday, April 7, 2008

All He Needs Is Love

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According to this story, it would appear that London Mayor Ken Livingstone has more on than merely making London safe for Islamofascists, Bush-bashing, corruption and Hugo Chavez. Besides all these other activities Livingstone somehow found time to have romantic relationships with three women at the same time, impregnating two of them within weeks of each other.

As further details of Mr Livingstone's tangled love life began to emerge, one of the mothers of his five children was yesterday named as Janet Woolf, a teacher who lives only a few streets away from his north London home.

Ms Woolf, 58, is reported to have had a relationship with Mr Livingstone during the early 1990s, when he was Labour MP for Brent East and she was a local Labour Party activist. ...

She gave birth to Mr Livingstone's son, who is now 15, at the Royal Free Hospital in north west London, in November 1992.

Another of Mr Livingstone's lovers had given birth to his daughter at the same hospital two months earlier, just over two years after she gave birth to his first daughter.

All this time the maverick politician was in a long-term relationship with Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty International, with whom he lived for nearly 20 years, between 1982 and 2001. Mr Livingstone
subsequently took up with his office manager Emma Beal.

The mayor is up for election next month in what is reported to be a hotly contestes race against Tory candidate, Boris Johnson. If only all Mr. Livingstone's children were of voting age, he'd be a shoe-in.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Oops, They Did It Again

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Hot on the heels or left-wing radio host Randi Rhodes' recent obscenity-laced rant, fellow lefty host, Ed Schultz (jealous of all the attention Rhodes was getting?) decided to make some headlines of his own. While Rhodes let loose at an Air America promotional event, Schultz went one better,

speaking before Illinois Sen. Barack Obama at a Democratic state party event in North Dakota on Friday night...calling Republican Sen. John McCain a "warmonger."

The McCain camp immediately called on Obama personally to denounce Schultz and the reference, as McCain did after a similar incident in Ohio in late February.

Saturday in Arizona, McCain, a decorated former POW who has spoken often of the horrors of war, said, "I would hope that, in keeping with his commitment, that Senator Obama would condemn such language, since it was part of his campaign."

Apparently Senator Obama wasn't terribly offended by the comment when Schultz said it because afterwards he called Schultz the "voice of progressive radio" . Considering the tone of left-wing radio, the good Senator actually had that just about right. After Schultz's comments started to gain press attention Obama suddenly realized that (as a campaign statement later said),

"John McCain is not a warmonger and should not be described as such. He's a supporter of a war that Senator Obama believes should have never been authorized and never been waged."

It is understandable how Senator Obama may not have noticed Schultz's slur as he was concentrating on how he would soon retell the lie that McCain is alright with a 100 year-long Iraqi war, a claim that has been debunked and which Obama has even been called on publicly.

And so it goes with the party of love.