Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Environmentalism: the new religion?

Environmentalism, the doom and gloom that surrounds the reporting about the imminent demise of the planet by its careless inhabitants, the pontification from those who want to tell the rest of us what we are doing wrong, and the shock and horror that I hear from youngsters, all remind me of a different time, when I was lectured about the same stuff, although then it was not global warming, but rather, global icing, and the horrors of land fills and disposable diapers.

In fact, I even switched to cloth diapers for one of my kids, because I was so concerned about the impending disaster, and wanted to do my share in alleviating the planet's burden.

Then the Chernobyl debacle occurred, and I remember how scared we all were about that. Years before, the incident at Three Mile Island had made a profound impact on the perils of nuclear reactors and nuclear power.

So, it was with great interest and amazement that I just read a couple of not-so-old speeches of Michael Crichton. I did not know much about the man, other than the fact that my kids loved Jurassic Park, and had re-read the story umpteenth times. For anyone who is starting to panic and thinks that the end of the world as we know it is near, I recommend reading his speeches here and here. They are informative, rational, without all the hype, and provide food for thought.

In fact, I was surprised to find out that the Chernobyl disaster, although a tragic event, was not really the global catastrophe it had been depicted. About 50 people died in Chernobyl, which is apparently the number of Americans that die every day in traffic accidents.

In the final analysis, Crichton equates environmentalism with religion, ascribing it as holding all the incidents of the Judeo-Christian faith: the garden of Eden, a paradise, where man is in a state of grace and unity with nature; falling from grace leads us into a state of pollution, and we are faced with a future day of judgment. As "energy sinners", we are doomed to die, unless we seek salvation -or its modern day equivalent: sustainability.

Now, if environmentalism is the new religion, who are the real prophets and who are the Pharisees?

Monday, February 26, 2007

The slave trade and religion.

It's been 200 years since the slave trade was abolished in the UK. The man who led the cause of abolition, William Wilberforce, was a deeply religious man.

Modern skeptics should remember that the great campaign against the international slave trade was not led by atheists. It was fought by people with deep Christian convictions about the dignity and freedom of every person made in the image of God.
Read John Loconte's piece on Wilberforce here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900.

Read an incisive review by Keith Windschuttle of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, by Andrew Roberts at the New Criterion. Here's an excerpt:

Eventually, Roberts says, just as historians now see no fundamental discontinuity between the republican and imperial eras of Rome, they will not see a great distinction between the British Empire-led and the American Republican-led periods of English-speaking world dominance between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries.

Indeed, the author quotes the distinguished Indian economist and historian Deepak Lal who declares the English-speaking peoples’ rise to predominance the most important event in the history of the past millennium. The spread of their common political culture has been, Roberts says, the most significant historical development since the invention of gunpowder and the printing press.

Hence, rather than “the century of the common man” or “the American century,” Roberts calls it the century of the English-speaking peoples, and emphasizes that it is far from over. Having seen off the major challengers to their supremacy, his subjects today have no rival in might, wealth, or prestige—though they have plenty of enemies. “We are part of the hegemonic power that the Arabs, Africans, and Europeans so self-referentially loathe.”

Gaucho Polish Jews? Sapo cancionero, el grillo y la noche estrellada, mate y bombilla, alla va el gaucho polaco y judio…

The story of Moises Ville in the Argentine Pampas, courtesy of the BBC:

When tens of thousands of Jews fled the pogroms in eastern Europe at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries they mostly sought refuge in the cities of New York, London, Paris and Buenos Aires.

But one small group of Polish Jews arrived in Argentina with the ambition of recreating a biblical dream and working the land.
The Jewish congregation, like most in the other rural Jewish towns in Argentina, is small and elderly and does not warrant its own rabbi. The future is uncertain.

But for now at least the Hebrew prayers and traditions brought from Eastern Europe over 100 years ago still mix with the sound of crickets on a starlit night on the Argentine pampas.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How big a hoax could global warming hysteria be?

Geoffrey Hunt says that,

As hoaxes, deceptions and hyperbole go, this one may be the biggest and hardest to shake. Following a pattern from other panics, clever entrepreneurs and global corporations alike will make a handsome profit, some even obscene, employing the 16th century idiom "a fool and his money are soon parted." Of course government bureaucrats, never actually in danger of a recession or natural devastation affecting their lifetime employment, will have found another justification for tenure.

Too many cases of "sudden jihad syndrome"?

An editorial at Investor's Business Daily points to the obvious...

It looks like the Muslim teen who opened fire on shoppers in a Salt Lake City mall is yet another case of "sudden jihad syndrome," a condition in which normal-appearing American Muslims abruptly turn violent.

Taken together, this and other cases add up to an invisible jihad inside America.


This is not terrorism, the FBI said. Just some nutty kid. In all these cases, the feds' first reaction was to shrug. They said the perps were lone individuals who just went ballistic after having a bad day, as if anyone could have done such crimes.

But they weren't just anyone. They were all young Muslim men. Of course, the FBI can't treat all law-abiding young Muslim men as potential killers. But neither should the agency ignore this trend.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Chilling comparisons between global warming and bad science.

Rep. John Linder writes in The Washington Times that

"Global Warming" had a precursor in capturing the hearts and minds of the world. Michael Crichton, in his novel "State of Fear," brilliantly juxtaposes the world's current political embrace of "global warming" with the popular embrace of the "science" of eugenics a century ago. For nearly 50 years, from the late 1800s through the first half of the 20th century, there grew a common political acceptance by the world's thinkers, political leaders and media elite that the "science" of eugenics was settled science. There were a few lonely voices trying to be heard in the wilderness in opposition to this bogus science, but they were ridiculed or ignored.

Believers in eugenics argued that we could improve the human race by controlling reproduction. The most respected scientists from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other bastions of intellectual rigor retreated to a complex on Long Island named Cold Spring Harbor. Their support came from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman fortune working with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, State and other agencies. The "science" was not lacking important public supporters. Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson were enthusiastic believers. The theory won approval of Supreme Court justices, leaders in higher education and Nobel Prize winners. The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was one of the most vocal adherents. She established the first "birth control" clinic in 1916. They believed that "the best" human beings were not having as many children as inferior ones -- the foreigners, immigrants, Jews, Blacks, degenerates, the unfit and the "feeble minded." Sanger said "fostering the good-for-nothing at the expense of the good is an extreme cruelty." She spoke of the burden of caring for "this dead weight of human waste." H.G. Wells spoke against "ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens." Roosevelt said, "Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind." George Bernard Shaw said that only eugenics could save mankind. Twenty-nine states passed laws allowing sterilization. Ultimately, 60,000 Americans were sterilized -- some legally.

The Germans were the most progressive. They had help. The Rockefeller Foundation funded the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and the work of its central racial scientists, one of whom was Josef Mengele. Ultimately the "mental defectives" in Germany were brought to newly built houses where they were interviewed. They were then shown to a back room where they were gassed. Eventually the German program was expanded into a vast network that killed 10 million undesirables. After World War II many of the public dherents to the pseudoscience of eugenics went silent. Colleges removed the textbooks and stopped teaching it.

Michael Crichton gives us yet another example of politicized science:

A second example of politicized science is quite different in character, but it exemplifies the hazard of government ideology controlling the work of science, and of uncritical media promoting false concepts. Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was a self-promoting peasant who, it was said, "solved the problem of fertilizing the fields without fertilizers and minerals." In 1928 he claimed to have invented a procedure called vernalization, by which seeds were moistened and chilled to enhance the later growth of crops. Lysenko's methods never faced a rigorous test, but his claim that his treated seeds passed on their characteristics to the next generation represented a revival of Lamarckian ideas at a time when the rest of the world was embracing Mendelian genetics. Josef Stalin was drawn to Lamarckian ideas, which implied a future unbounded by hereditary constraints; he also wanted improved agricultural production. Lysenko promised both, and became the darling of a Soviet media that was on the lookout for stories about clever peasants who had developed revolutionary procedures.

Lysenko was portrayed as a genius, and he milked his celebrity for all it was worth. He was especially skillful at denouncing this opponents. He used questionnaires from farmers to prove that vernalization increased crop yields, and thus avoided any direct tests. Carried on a wave of state-sponsored enthusiasm, his rise was rapid. By 1937, he was a member of the Supreme Soviet. By then, Lysenko and his theories dominated Russian biology. The result was famines that killed millions, and purges that sent hundreds of dissenting Soviet scientists to the gulags or the firing squads. Lysenko was aggressive in attacking genetics, which was finally banned as "bourgeois pseudoscience" in 1948. There was never any basis for Lysenko's ideas, yet he controlled Soviet research for thirty years. Lysenkoism ended in the 1960s, but Russian biology still has not entirely recovered from that era.

More on the science behind global warming.

Here's an excerpt of what Michael Crichton testified before the United States Senate in September 28, 2005:

...when adhered to, the scientific method can transcend politics. And the converse may also be true: when politics takes precedent over content, it is often because the primacy of independent verification has been overwhelmed by competing interests.

Verification may take several forms. I come from medicine, where the gold standard is the randomized double-blind study, which has been the paradigm of medical research since the 1940s.

In that vein, let me tell you a story. It's 1991, I am flying home from Germany, sitting next to a man who is almost in tears, he is so upset. He's a physician involved in an FDA study of a new drug. It's a double-blind study involving four separate teams---one plans the study, another administers the drug to patients, a third assesses the effect on patients, and a fourth analyzes results. The teams do not know each other, and are prohibited from personal contact of any sort, on peril of contaminating the results. This man had been sitting in the Frankfurt airport, innocently chatting with another man, when they discovered to their mutual horror they are on two different teams studying the same drug. They were required to report their encounter to the FDA. And my companion was now waiting to see if the FDA would declare their multi-year, multi-million dollar study invalid because of this chance contact.

For a person with a medical background, accustomed to this degree of rigor in research, the protocols of climate science appear considerably more relaxed. In climate science, it's permissible for raw data to be "touched," or modified, by many hands. Gaps in temperature and proxy records are filled in. Suspect values are deleted because a scientist deems them erroneous. A researcher may elect to use parts of existing records, ignoring other parts. But the fact that the data has been modified in so many ways inevitably raises the question of whether the results of a given study are wholly or partially caused by the modifications themselves.

Venezuela and the war on terror.

This Investor's Buisness Daily editorial brings to mind a certain quote: "Men are ruled, at this minute by the clock, by liars who refuse them news, and by fools who cannot govern." - G. K. Chesterton.

With a warning on the Sawt-al-Jihad Web site, al-Qaida vowed to attack three of the top four oil suppliers to the U.S. — Mexico, Canada and Venezuela — on the logic that the economic disruption would drive the U.S. from Iraq.
Venezuela is another story. Its defense chief of staff, Rear Adm. Luis Cabrera, scoffed at al-Qaida's threat as "illogical" because of Venezuela's long record of antagonism toward the U.S.

Meanwhile, Saul Ortega, chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs, dismissed the threat as a U.S. concoction and "terrorist maneuver." It's not surprising because many Venezuelan officials, including Hugo Chavez, subscribe to crackpot conspiracy theories about George Bush being behind the 9/11 attacks.
Read it all here.

Are all scientists the same? Are they all experts on global warming?

Thomas Sowell has a couple of interesting articles on global warming and all those scientists mentioned, cited or quoted by global warming crusaders... Mr. Sowell points out that

There are all kinds of scientists, from chemists to nuclear physicists to people who study insects, volcanoes, and endocrine glands -- none of whom is an expert on weather or climate, but all of whom can be listed as scientists, to impress people who don't scrutinize the list any further. That ploy has already been used.

Then there are genuine scientific experts on weather and climate....

... Are there serious scientists who specialize in weather and climate who have serious doubts about the doomsday scenarios being pushed by global warming advocates? Yes, there are.

There is Dr. S. Fred Singer, who set up the American weather satellite system, and who published some years ago a book titled "Hot Talk, Cold Science." More recently, he has co-authored another book on the subject, "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years."

There have been periods of global warming that lasted for centuries -- and periods of global cooling that also lasted for centuries. So the issue is not whether the world is warmer now than at some time in the past but how much of that warming is due to human beings and how much can we reduce future warming, even if we drastically reduce our standard of living in the attempt.

Other serious scientists who are not on the global warming bandwagon include a professor of meteorology at MIT, Richard S. Lindzen.

His name was big enough for the National Academy of Sciences to list it among the names of other experts on its 2001 report that was supposed to end the debate by declaring the dangers of global warming proven scientifically.

Professor Lindzen then objected and pointed out that neither he nor any of the other scientists listed ever saw that report before it was published. It was in fact written by government bureaucrats -- as was the more recently published summary report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that is also touted as the final proof and the end of the discussion.

Why all the recent hysteria about global warming?

The non-scientific answer is probably encampsulated in David Warren's succinct analysis:

Once upon a time, there were two modes of journalism, called tabloid and broadsheet. The distinction was clear. The first (tabloid), aimed at the more ignorant and credulous section of the population, was shamelessly sensationalist, and indifferent to its own track record. The second (broadsheet), aimed at the more intelligent and sceptical -- businessmen, especially, with money on the line. It cultivated greyness and sobriety, and was fixated on reputation. Tabloids were for fun, broadsheets were for information. In my own lifetime as a journalist I have watched this distinction evaporate, and the unrestricted triumph of the tabloid ideal.

But at the same time, there has been a swing, among the class of people who staff the media. Where before they were generally short on academic qualifications, but long on street smarts, now we have a broad creamy froth of journalism-school graduates with zero street-smarts, but thorough indoctrination in the art of attitudinizing. Or to put it another way, the political outlook has swung dramatically from right to left.

Nevertheless, so long as our (human) race can stay out of the trees, there will be a demand for good solid information and lively but responsible analysis. These have not disappeared, but gone largely underground, or more precisely, into the aether of the Internet. People who feel the need to know what is actually going on, are increasingly by-passing the “mainstream media” and going directly to the best sources.

There's a lot of superstition going around...

Archbishop Pell from Australia makes sense of the global warming hysteria:

What we were seeing from the doomsdayers was an induced dose of mild hysteria, semi-religious if you like, but dangerously close to superstition.

I am deeply skeptical about man-made catastrophic global warming, but still open to further evidence. I would be surprised if industrial pollution, and carbon emissions, had no ill effect at all. But enough is enough.
Read more here.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Talking about global warming...

The question is whether what's happening now is just the natural give and take of the planet, as Erik the Red and my town's early settlers understood it. Or whether it's something so unprecedented that we need to divert vast resources to a transnational elite bureaucracy so that they can do their best to cripple the global economy and deny much of the developing world access to the healthier and longer lives that capitalism brings. To the eco-chondriacs that's a no-brainer. As Mark Fenn of the Worldwide Fund for Nature says in the new documentary ''Mine Your Own Business'':

''In Madagascar, the indicators of quality of life are not housing. They're not nutrition, specifically. They're not health in a lot of cases. It's not education. A lot of children in Fort Dauphin do not go to school because the parents don't consider that to be important. . . . People have no jobs, but if I could put you with a family and you could count how many times in a day that that family smiles. Then I put you with a family well off, in New York or London, and you count how many times people smile. . . . You tell me who is rich and who is poor."

Well, if smiles are the measure of quality of life, I'm Bill Gates; I'm laughing my head off. Male life expectancy in Madagascar is 52.5 years. But Mark Fenn is right: Those l'il malnourished villagers sure look awful cute dancing up and down when the big environmentalist activist flies in to shoot the fund-raising video.
Read it all here.

Can a 400+ year old schism be overcome?

Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt.

The proposals have been agreed by senior bishops of both churches.

In a 42-page statement prepared by an international commission of both churches, Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope.

The statement, leaked to The Times, is being considered by the Vatican, where Catholic bishops are preparing a formal response.

Unparalled perfidy.

Strong stuff:

Give us the tools and we'll finish the job, said Winston Churchill in the dark days before our official entry into World War II. America delayed its entry into both world wars, but once in, we were committed to win. Hillary thinks that applies only to her campaign, not to the war on terror.

Neville Chamberlain's naivete may have helped bring on World War II, but at least he supported his country when war began. Norway's Vidkun Quisling and France's Vichy government under Marshal Petain may have collaborated with the Nazi enemy, but after their countries' defeats, not before.

We'd have to go back to Benedict Arnold to find Americans as eager as Murtha & Co. to see an American defeat on the battlefield.

They are working on the game plan of al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In October 2005, Zawahiri outlined al-Qaida's plan in a letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, late head of al-Qaida in Iraq:

"The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority . . . over as much territory as you can spread its power in Iraq . . . in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans."

John Murtha and his perfidious friends are working on creating that void and completing Zawahiri's first stage. They are the appeasers Churchill warned about who hope that by feeding the Islamofascist tiger, it will eat us last.
Read it here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

That’s the point: a society whose army recruits drunken pregnant adulterous fornicating exhibitionist women, and it’s no big deal...

Mark Steyn dissects and explains Dinesh D'Souza's new book. Excerpts:

The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left And Its Responsibility For 9/11 is the geopolitical If I Did It. As you may recall, that was the title of the artful OJ Simpson tome no sooner announced than yanked from the warehouses and pulped by its publisher: OJ isn’t saying he did do it but if he had done it he’d have done it like this. Likewise, Dinesh D’Souza’s new book: he’s not the jihad’s marketing consultant but, if he were, this is pretty much the critique of America he’d have offered to buck up the lads in the cave on September 10th 2001.

From a sophisticated writer, the central proposition of this book is absurd - that western conservatives should make common cause with “moderate Muslims”. That would be merely the inversion of the freakshow alliance between the godless left and the jihadists embodied by the participation in one of the big “anti-war” rallies of a group called “Queers For Palestine”. “Moderate” Islam is preferable to jihadism, has many admirable qualities and many less so. But attempting to align our social values with theirs would be the right’s strain of appeasement and just as doomed. The reality is that Islam sees our decadence not as a threat but as an opportunity. For the west to reverse the gains of the cultural left would not endear us to Islam but would make us better suited to resisting its depradations. We should reject Britney because she’s rubbish not as a geopolitical strategy.

Of NASA, astronauts and diapers.

Did you know this?

“The diapers they use today are a modified adult diaper, except you just pull it up like a pair of shorts,” Teresa Sindelar (a camp programs manager in the education department at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center), said. "Inside there is a chemical [sodium polyacrylate] that can absorb about 1,000 times its weight in water. The powdery material is woven into the fabrics of the diaper itself so when the astronaut uses the restroom, the liquid is absorbed into the fabric and the diaper pulls it away from the skin.
The NASA diapers helped to influence the consumer diaper market, as well as feminine hygiene products. “It's what we call a spinoff, which is anything that is developed for the space program and then is passed down for commercial use,” Sindelar says. “Since NASA is a governmental institution they can't patent anything. The basic design and chemicals in the consumer products are the same as the NASA products, so if you were to pull apart a baby diaper, you would see the powder.”

Check out the whole story here.

Global warming in a nutshell.

George Will is succinct as to what the concerns are regarding global warming:

The consensus catechism about global warming has six tenets: 1. Global warming is happening. 2. It is our (humanity's, but especially America's) fault. 3. It will continue unless we mend our ways. 4. If it continues we are in grave danger. 5. We know how to slow or even reverse the warming. 6. The benefits from doing that will far exceed the costs.

He then comes up with a couple of mistifying (at least for me) questions:

Over the millennia, the planet has warmed and cooled for reasons that are unclear but clearly were unrelated to SUVs. Was life better when ice a mile thick covered Chicago? Was it worse when Greenland was so warm that Vikings farmed there?

Interestingly, in 1997 during the Kyoto Protocols,
The [US] Senate warned against any agreement that would require significant reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States and other developed nations without mandating "specific scheduled commitments" on the part of the 129 "developing" countries, which include China, India, Brazil and South Korea—the second, fourth, 10th and 11th largest economies.

President Clinton and his earnest vice president knew better than to seek ratification of Kyoto by a Senate that had passed its resolution of disapproval 95-0. Fifty-six of those 95 senators are still serving.

[global warming]

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Here's the law that makes Hugo Chavez a Dictator:

Número 38.617

Caracas, jueves 1º febrero de 2007




Decreta :

la siguiente,




[Press Read More below for the full law.]

Artículo 1.— Se autoriza al Presidente de la República para que, en Consejo de Ministros, dicte Decretos con Rango, Valor y Fuerza de Ley, de acuerdo con las directrices, propósitos y marco de las materias que se delegan en esta Ley, de conformidad con el último aparte del artículo 203 y el numeral 8 del artículo 236 de la Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela y, en consecuencia:

1. En el ámbito de transformación de las instituciones del Estado:

Dictar normas con el objeto de actualizar y transformar el ordenamiento legal que regula a las instituciones del Estado, a los fines de que éstas orienten su actuación al servicio de los ciudadanos, en forma eficaz, eficiente, honesta, participativa, simple, imparcial, racional y transparente, evitando el sobredimensionamiento estructural y garantizando la participación popular.

2. En el ámbito de la participación popular:

Dictar normas que establezcan los mecanismos de participación popular de la comunidad organizada en la aplicación del ordenamiento jurídico y ámbito económico y social del Estado, a través de la planificación, el control social, la inspección técnica social y la práctica del voluntariado, y que adecuen la estructura organizativa de las instituciones del Estado, para permitir el ejercicio directo de la soberanía popular.

3. En el ámbito de los valores esenciales del ejercicio de la función pública:

Dictar normas orientadas a erradicar definitivamente la corrupción, reformar el régimen funcionarial y de responsabilidad personal del funcionario, fomentar su ética, su actualización técnica continua y su formación como servidor público.

4. En el ámbito económico y social:

Dictar normas que adapten la legislación existente a la construcción de un nuevo modelo económico y social sustentable, destinadas a los sectores de salud, educación, seguridad social, seguridad agroalimentaria, turístico, de producción y empleo, entre otros, que permita la inserción del colectivo en el desarrollo del país, para lograr la igualdad y la equitativa distribución de la riqueza, actualizando el Sistema Público Nacional de Salud y elevando la calidad de vida de los ciudadanos y de los pueblos y c omunidades indígenas, en aras de alcanzar los ideales de justicia social e independencia económica, así como las relativas a la utilización de los remanentes netos acumulados de capital.

5. En el ámbito financiero y tributario:

Dictar normas que profundicen y adecuen el sistema financiero público y privado a los principios constitucionales y, en consecuencia, modernizar el marco regulatorio de los sectores monetario, banca, seguros, tributario e impositivo.

6. En el ámbito de la seguridad ciudadana y jurídica:

Dictar normas destinadas a la organización y funcionamiento del sistema de seguridad ciudadana, del sistema policial y del sistema penitenciario; establecer procedimientos eficaces, eficientes, transparentes y tecnológicamente aptos y seguros para la identificación ciudadana y el control migratorio y la lucha contra la impunidad, así como establecer procedimientos tendentes a materializar la seguridad jurídica.

7. En el ámbito de la ciencia y la tecnología:

Dictar normas que permitan el desarrollo de la ciencia y la tecnología, a fin de satisfacer las necesidades de educación, salud, medio ambiente y biodiversidad, industrialización y calidad de vida de la población, de conformidad con los principios constitucionales.

8. En el ámbito de la ordenación territorial:

Dictar normas que establezcan una nueva distribución y ocupación de los espacios subnacionales, a los fines de que se constituya una nueva regionalización del país, para optimizar la acción del Estado, y que regulen la creación de asentamientos de las comunidades en el territorio nacional que estimulen el desarrollo endógeno.

9. En el ámbito de seguridad y defensa:

Dictar normas que establezcan la organización y funcionamiento de los asuntos relacionados con la seguridad y defensa integral de la Nación, así como la implementación de las zonas operacionales de defensa de la Nación; que desarrollen la estructura, organización y funcionamiento de la Fuerza Armada Nacional, así como lo atinente a la disciplina y carrera militar; la organización y funcionamiento del Sistema Nacional de Inteligencia y Contrainteligencia; para la regulación y supervisión de todo lo concernie nte a la materia de armas y elementos conexos; y las que garanticen y desarrollen la atención integral de las fronteras.

10. En el ámbito de la infraestructura, transporte y servicios:

Dictar normas que fomenten la utilización del potencial humano e industrial y la infraestructura existente, a los fines de optimizar los sistemas de transporte terrestre, ferroviario, marítimo, fluvial y aéreo, regulando la prestación de los servicios públicos en general, y de un sistema para la construcción de viviendas dignas, así como el desarrollo de las actividades marinas y conexas, de los espacios acuáticos e insulares, de los puertos, de las zonas costeras, y del comercio marítimo. Igualmente, dicta r normas regulatorias que actualicen el sector de las telecomunicaciones y la tecnología de información, tomando en cuenta su convergencia, el servicio postal y el acceso de los ciudadanos a la Administración Pública mediante mecanismos informáticos, electrónicos y telemáticos.

11. En el ámbito energético:

Dictar normas relativas a los hidrocarburos y sus derivados, que adecuen la normativa vigente a las transformaciones del Estado y en armonía con el principio de plena soberanía de los recursos naturales; tales como, las relativas a las potestades regulatorias de supervisión y control del Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Energía y Petróleo; las concernientes a los regímenes sancionatorios, disciplinarios y de administración y recaudación de los tributos; al sistema de distribución y transporte de los pro ductos derivados del petróleo y gas doméstico; y a las medidas de seguridad aplicables a los bienes afectos a las actividades petroleras, con especial énfasis a los tecnológicos e informáticos y a la administración e inversión de los ingresos percibidos por la República en razón de los hidrocarburos. Dictar normas que permitan al Estado asumir directamente, o mediante empresas de su exclusiva propiedad, el control de las actividades realizadas por las asociaciones que operan en la Faja Petrolífera del Orino co, incluyendo los mejoradores y las asociaciones de exploración a riesgo y ganancias compartidas, para regularizar y ajustar sus actividades dentro del marco legal que rige a la industria petrolera nacional, a través de la figura de empresas mixtas o de empresas de la exclusiva propiedad del Estado. Dictar normas para reformar el Decreto Número 310 con Rango y Fuerza de Ley Orgánica de Hidrocarburos Gaseosos, a fin de adecuar el aprovechamiento, exploración, explotación e industrialización del gas a las po líticas implantadas por el Ejecutivo Nacional para este sector. Dictar normas que permitan al Estado asumir directamente, o mediante empresas de su exclusiva propiedad, el control de las actividades realizadas por las empresas privadas en el sector eléctrico, por razones estratégicas, de seguridad, utilidad o bienestar social. Dictar normas para reformar la Ley Orgánica del Servicio Eléctrico, en función de las medidas de reestructuración del sector que viene adoptando el Ejecutivo Nacional a los fines de l ograr una mayor expansión y eficiencia del servicio en beneficio del pueblo.

Artículo 2.— Cuando se trate de un Decreto con Rango, Valor y Fuerza de Ley, al cual el Presidente de la República le confiera carácter Orgánico, deberá remitirse, antes de su publicación en la Gaceta Oficial de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, a la Sala Constitucional del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, a los fines de que ésta se pronuncie sobre la constitucionalidad de tal carácter, de conformidad con lo dispuesto en el artículo 203 de la Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela.

Artículo 3.— La habilitación al Presidente de la República para dictar Decretos con Rango, Valor y Fuerza de Ley en las materias que se delegan tendrá un lapso de duración de dieciocho (18) meses para su ejercicio, contado a partir de la publicación de esta Ley en la Gaceta Oficial de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela .

Artículo 4.— La presente Ley entrará en vigencia a partir de su publicación en la Gaceta Oficial de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela.

Dada, firmada y sellada en la Plaza Bolívar de la ciudad de Caracas, sede excepcional de la Asamblea Nacional, a los treinta y un días del mes de enero de dos mil siete. Año 196º de la Independencia y 147º de la Federación.

Palacio de Miraflores, en Caracas, al primer día del mes de febrero de dos mil siete. Años 196º de la Independencia y 147º de la Federación

Venezuela's nightmare.

The Bolivarian dream could turn into a nightmare... Here's historian García Hamilton's take:

García Hamilton: "El sueño bolivariano puede convertirse en una pesadilla."
La Nación
4 de febrero de 2007

El actual presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, al cabo de casi dos siglos, está logrando cumplir los anhelos de Bolívar. La actual Constitución le permite designar y remover al vicepresidente, y la Asamblea Nacional, a su pedido, está a punto de concederle la posibilidad de la reelección indefinida. El sueño bolivariano que, acaso, se convierta también en pesadilla.

Durante su fascinante y turbulenta trayectoria, Simón Bolívar tuvo una ermanente aspiración: llegar a ser consagrado presidente vitalicio de Venezuela y de los otros países que señoreaba, en lugar de gobernar limitado por un tiempo fijo, es decir, por los cuatro años que marcaban las constituciones vigentes.

Ya en 1815, mientras se encontraba desterrado en Jamaica, Bolívar escribió la famosa carta en la que expresaba su desencanto con la primera experiencia republicana de Venezuela, opinaba que las instituciones representativas no eran adecuadas a nuestro carácter hispanoamericano, y sugería establecer un "gobierno como el inglés, con la diferencia de que, a cambio de un rey, tendrá un Poder Ejecutivo electivo y vitalicio, y un senado hereditario".

Cuatro años después, habiendo liberado militarmente a casi todo el territorio venezolano, convocó a una convención constituyente a reunirse en Angostura (hoy Ciudad Bolívar), pero seguía pensando que nuestros pueblos no podían equipararse al norteamericano, y por ello exhortó a los delegados a establecer, para Venezuela, un presidente a perpetuidad, un senado hereditario integrado por los generales de la Independencia y una cámara de diputados de elección popular. Los convencionales, sin embargo, no aceptaron sus sugerencias y dispusieron que el presidente debía durar cuatro años en sus funciones.

Tras el triunfo de Bolívar en Boyacá, lo que significó la liberación de la actual Colombia, una convención reunida en Cúcuta aprobó la unión del país con Venezuela, con lo que se integró la llamada Gran Colombia, con capital en Bogotá, a la que luego se incorporó el Ecuador. Bolívar fue designado presidente de esta ampliada nación y Francisco de Paula Santander vicepresidente, pero la convención rechazó la idea del nombramiento en forma vitalicia, mantuvo el período de cuatro años con reelección, y tampoco aceptó la iniciativa de los senadores hereditarios.

Luego de entrar en Perú y vencer a los españoles en Junín, Simón Bolívar fue elegido presidente de esa nación y continuó su marcha hacia el Alto Perú. Un congreso reunido en Chuquisaca declaró la independencia, otorgó al flamante país el nombre de Bolivia, en honor al apellido del victorioso guerrero, y le pidió a éste que dictara una constitución a su gusto. Bolívar aprovechó, entonces, para redactar de puño y letra las instituciones que venía proponiendo desde hacía una década: un presidente vitalicio (es decir, él mismo), senadores hereditarios y diputados elegidos por el pueblo.

Después regresó a Lima, extendió la vigencia de este texto constitucional al Perú y se instaló en la residencia de La Magdalena (donde había vivido el general San Martín) a disfrutar de la presidencia perpetua con su amante Manuelita Sáenz.

Pretendió desde allí que la Gran Colombia aprobara también la llamada "Constitución boliviana", pero se encontró con el rechazo del vicepresidente Santander, llamado el "hombre de las leyes", quien le recordó que la vigente carta de Cúcuta no podía ser reformada antes de los diez años. "Además, no he luchado catorce años contra Fernando VII para tener ahora un rey que se llame Simón I", le escribió.

Bolívar mandó entonces un delegado militar hacia Bogotá para que, en el camino, instara unas "actas populares" para exigir la reforma de la Constitución. Santander le escribió para decirle que esas actas no eran legales, a lo que Bolívar respondió que "no eran legítimas, pero sí populares, y por lo tanto propias de una república eminentemente democrática".

Bolívar y Santander acordaron finalmente convocar a una nueva convención constituyente en Ocaña. Pero al comprobar que su vicepresidente había obtenido en las elecciones más delegados que él, Bolívar retiró sus convencionales y dejó sin quórum a la asamblea. Simultáneamente, por medio de un "autogolpe", se constituyó en dictador de la Gran Colombia bajo el paradójico título de Libertador Presidente y destituyó a Santander de la vicepresidencia.

Poco tiempo, sin embargo, pudo disfrutar Bolívar de esta "suma del poder público", buscada durante más de una década. Los jóvenes liberales de Bogotá, sintiéndose traicionados, intentaron asesinarlo, pero salvó su vida gracias a la arriesgada acción de Manuelita. Santander fue acusado de haber participado de la conspiración y fue desterrado, pero Bolívar no pudo sostener políticamente su dictadura y, en 1830, renunció y murió en Santa Marta, mientras la Gran Colombia se desintegraba.

El actual presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, al cabo de casi dos siglos, está logrando cumplir los anhelos de Bolívar. La actual Constitución le permite designar y remover al vicepresidente, y la Asamblea Nacional, a su pedido, está a punto de concederle la posibilidad de la reelección indefinida. El sueño bolivariano que, acaso, se convierta también en pesadilla.

It is essential to always go to the original source of information...

Who hasn't seen this photo these last few days all over the press? But, did you know that the photo was taken in 2004 by Amanda Byrd during an exploration project, and that the photo was captioned "Mother polar bear and cub on interesting ice sculpture carved by waves"?

Mexifornia: the Mexicanization of California. Issues to ponder regarding illegal immigration.

Check out Victor Davis Hanson's piece on illegal immigration. Excerpts:

The riots in France, the support for jihadism among Pakistanis in London, and the demands of Islamists in Scandinavia, Germany, and the Netherlands do not encourage Americans to let in more poor Mexican illegal immigrants with loud agendas, or to embrace the multicultural salad bowl over their own distinctive melting pot.

Then there were the April–May 2006 demonstrations here in the United States, when nearly half a million protesters took to the streets of our largest cities, from Chicago to Los Angeles. Previously, naive Americans had considered that their own discussions over border security and immigration were in their own hands. And while Chicano-rights organizations and employer lobbyists were often vehement in their efforts to keep the border open, illegal aliens themselves used to be mostly quiet about our internal legal debates.

In contrast, this spring Americans witnessed millions of illegal aliens who not only were unapologetic about their illegal status but were demanding that their hosts accommodate their own political grievances, from providing driver’s licenses to full amnesty. The largest demonstrations—held on May Day, with thousands of protesters waving Mexican flags and bearing placards depicting the communist insurrectionist Che Guevara—only confirmed to most Americans that illegal immigration was out of control and beginning to become politicized along the lines of Latin American radicalism. I chronicled in Mexifornia the anomaly of angry protesters waving the flag of the country they vehemently did not wish to return to, but now the evening news beamed these images to millions. In short, the radical socialism of Latin America, seething in the angry millions who flocked to support Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Mexico’s Andrés López Obrador, had now seemingly been imported into our own largest cities.

Ever wandered what the mosque being planned in London will look like? Check this video, courtesy of YouTube.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

And now, something different, but equally important... A delightful and engrossing article by Michael Pollan in the New York Times magazine. Here are some tidbits:

At the end of the 19th century, British doctors were puzzled by the fact that Chinese laborers in the Malay states were dying of a disease called beriberi, which didn’t seem to afflict Tamils or native Malays. The mystery was solved when someone pointed out that the Chinese ate “polished,” or white, rice, while the others ate rice that hadn’t been mechanically milled. A few years later, Casimir Funk, a Polish chemist, discovered the “essential nutrient” in rice husks that protected against beriberi and called it a “vitamine,” the first micronutrient. Vitamins brought a kind of glamour to the science of nutrition, and though certain sectors of the population began to eat by its expert lights, it really wasn’t until late in the 20th century that nutrients managed to push food aside in the popular imagination of what it means to eat.

...But if nutritionism leads to a kind of false consciousness in the mind of the eater, the ideology can just as easily mislead the scientist.

...No one likes to admit that his or her best efforts at understanding and solving a problem have actually made the problem worse, but that’s exactly what has happened in the case of nutritionism. Scientists operating with the best of intentions, using the best tools at their disposal, have taught us to look at food in a way that has diminished our pleasure in eating it while doing little or nothing to improve our health. Perhaps what we need now is a broader, less reductive view of what food is, one that is at once more ecological and cultural. What would happen, for example, if we were to start thinking about food as less of a thing and more of a relationship?

...Today, a mere four crops account for two-thirds of the calories humans eat. When you consider that humankind has historically consumed some 80,000 edible species, and that 3,000 of these have been in widespread use, this represents a radical simplification of the food web. Why should this matter? Because humans are omnivores, requiring somewhere between 50 and 100 different chemical compounds and elements to be healthy. It’s hard to believe that we can get everything we need from a diet consisting largely of processed corn, soybeans, wheat and rice.

...when it comes to food, culture is really just a fancy word for Mom, the figure who typically passes on the food ways of the group — food ways that, although they were never “designed” to optimize health (we have many reasons to eat the way we do), would not have endured if they did not keep eaters alive and well.

Abdul Saleem: 'UK you will pay, Islam is on its way."

'UK you will pay, Islam is on its way," is the chilling slogan favoured by Muslim radical Abdul Saleem, who was convicted this week of stirring up racial hatred at a rally in London last year. Addressing the crowd in Belgravia Square, near the Spanish and German embassies, Saleem was filmed saying: "There will come a time when we will stand inside these embassies. There will come a time when we will remove that flag. There will come a time when we will raise the flag of Islam – whether you like it or not, Islam is superior and cannot be surpassed."

Another must read article that came out this week-end in the UK: Sleepwalking with the enemy by Ruth Dudley Edwards.

Bernard Lewis: This is the third time Islam is trying to bring its faith to the rest of us.

Excerpts of an interesting series of lectures given by Bernard Lewis, the renowned historian, at several Israeli institutions:

Muslim believers consider themselves 'the fortunate recipients of God`s final message to humanity and it is their duty not to keep is selfishly to themselves ... (but) to bring it to the rest of mankind,' Lewis noted.

In their first attempt to do so, they emerged from the Arabian Peninsula and conquered vast territories from Iran across North Africa to Spain, Portugal and parts of Italy. Converts conquered Russian lands and established an Islamic regime in Eastern Europe. There are even reports of an Arab raid into Switzerland. But that attempt to conquer Europe failed, and the Crusaders recovered the Christian holy places in Jerusalem.

In the second round, the Ottoman Turks crossed southeastern Europe and reached Vienna. Twice they tried to capture it and failed. Western imperialism halted and reversed the Ottoman push.

The current, third invasion, is not done by armed conquest or with migrating hordes, but by a combination of migration, demography, 'self denigration and self abasement, totally apologetic,' Lewis said.

Nevertheless, it arouses a fair and very alarming possibility that it could lead to a long, dreary race war between different communities in Europe.

Signs of it are already visible in the form of neo-Fascist racist movements. If that 'is going to be the only response of Europe, apart from self-abasement, the outlook is grim,' he predicted.

Meanwhile, among Muslims there is a competition over who should lead their cause. This is one of the keys to understand the present situation, Lewis continued.

On the one hand stand Osama bin Laden and his movement. He is a Saudi-Wahabi; in other words an ultra-conservative puritan Sunni-Muslim. The Saudi establishment considers him a rebel but they all belong to the same branch of Islam.

And then there are Muslim Shiites. They assumed a modern form and new vigor since the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1978.
Read it all here.

This editorial from Investor's Business Daily is a must read.

Drop The Gloves

Global Jihad: The ghastly plot by Muslim terrorists in Britain to kidnap and behead a British soldier to blackmail the U.K. into leaving Iraq is a grim reminder of the enemy we’re fighting. And sadly, we need reminding.

While the bare-knuckled British press condemned the “evil Muslim terrorists,” our media by and large shrugged, preoccupied as they’ve been with more important news, such as the sandbox spat between Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump. You’d never know we were at war with a barbarian culture bent on destroying our way of life.

Though we’ve so far avoided another attack here in America, there’s been no shortage of terrorism around the world. You might say there’s been a silent rampage. The thwarted British plot coincides with no fewer than 655 Islamic terror attacks across the globe in just the past three months. The full list appears on the Web site

We can’t vouch for the list’s accuracy, but based on a quick survey, the data seem correct. We commend the list to your attention because it puts the war on terror in the proper light.
That is, this war is truly a worldwide clash of civilizations and not, as the cut-and-run crowd keeps telling us, simply a “situation” that requires “managing.”

Following is a sample of atrocities from the list, showing how peace-loving and tolerant Muslims are. They:

  • Blew up three Israelis at a bakery.
  • Slashed the throat of a non-Muslim teenager in Thailand.
  • Butchered a Buddhist man in Thailand as he drove his 7-yearold son home from school.
  • Murdered a teacher on her way to a girl’s school in Baghdad.
  • Gunned down an “infidel” advocate for the victims of Armenian genocide in Turkey.
  • Slaughtered at least 70 students at a mostly women’s university in Baghdad, using a car bomb followed by a suicide bomber on foot to kill survivors.
  • Murdered a married couple in Thailand, pinning a note to the beheaded body of the husband reading, “We kill all Buddhists.”
  • Beat to death an Indonesian police officer at a funeral for a fellow terrorist.
  • Beheaded a newspaper journalist in Pakistan.
  • Beat to death a Christian with a metal bar in Ethiopia.
  • Shot and set on fire two Buddhist teachers in Thailand.
  • Killed three Afghan police officers with a bomb.
  • Decapitated 26 Afghan men and strung their bodies from trees.
  • Killed 15 civilians in Chad, including a man who was disemboweled and a woman set on fire.
  • Hacked to death a Hindu leader in India.
  • Blew up a passer-by outside the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, using a bicycle bomb.
  • Blew up two dozen innocents at a Shia wedding in Baghdad.

As we say, reading the full list (our download of the data filled 47 computer-screen pages) puts this war into cold perspective.

We are at war with an enemy that is driven by a religion that is far from peaceful. And the battlefront is worldwide, in what looks more and more like a clash of civilizations — the “mujahedeen” of pan-Islam vs. the “infidels” of the West. We don’t divide the war that way, but they do. And that’s the problem.

For us, this is a technical war, one from which we hope to quickly extract ourselves so we can go about our business. For them, it’s a perpetual holy war, led by fanatics who are patient, counting on us tiring of the fight as it becomes too savage and costly.

The 2004 work, “Management of Barbarism,” by Abu Bakr Naji, a rising star in the jihadi movement, is instructive for anyone who doubts their commitment and ruthlessness.

“O people! The viciousness of the Russian soldier is twice that of the American soldier. If the Americans suffer one-tenth of the casualties the Russians suffered in Afghanistan and Chechnya, they will flee and never look back,” Naji rallied fellow jihadists in his Internet-posted screed. “They have reached a stage of effeminacy that makes them unable to sustain battles for a long period of time, a weakness they compensate for with a deceptive media halo.”

Our troops are tough as nails, hardly effeminate. But our leaders — those who set the rules of engagement, and targets and strategies — often hold them back and tie their hands.

Meanwhile, politically correct politicians and media don’t do anyone any good by downplaying the Islamic threat we face. They may be costing us victory.

“We are losing in Iraq and Afghanistan,” asserts former senior CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, “because the political leaders of both parties — and their politically correct acolytes in the media, the academy and the general officer corps — refuse to square with the American people about the enemy’s motivation.”

That motivation is their 1,400-year-old faith, said Scheuer, who closely tracked Muslim terrorists like Osama bin Laden over the last decade.

Indeed, the biggest myth going is that Islam has been “hijacked” by the terrorists. No, the only thing that’s been hijacked is the truth about fundamentalist, radical Islam, which makes holy war against infidels a sacred duty for Muslims.

The terrorists are getting all their violent ideas — the jihad, the martyrdom for virgins, even the beheadings — right out of their holy book. To pretend otherwise, to brainwash soldiers and cops on the home front into thinking the enemy is simply a ragtag network of random thugs and not part of a larger movement — is to set them, and us all, up for failure.

The almost endless stream of terrorists we’ve seen committing almost unspeakable acts of violence all over the world aren’t the irrational fanatics they’ve been portrayed to be. Hard as it is to believe, they have a calculated worldview based on religious and historical assumptions. They don’t act willy-nilly. These aren’t common street hoods who will mug their own mother for drug money.

They are disciplined soldiers in a holy war.

While their bloodshed may seem random, they have a purpose, a religious purpose, sick as it may be. And they are relentless.

Denying this unpleasant truth so we can feel nice and tolerant is politically correct suicide. We need an honest assessment of our enemy. Wishful thinking is not going to win this war.

Jihadists have declared war on America and the West, yet we are reluctant to even identify them with the religion in whose name they kill us. It’s time to take off the gloves.

We must declare war on jihad — and all its participants and supporters — before they can make even deeper inroads.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The man behind the book that unmasked Stalinism.

Christoper Hitchens has a great piece on Robert Conquest, the prescient author of "The Great Terror", " the volume that tore the mask away from Stalinism before most people had even heard of Solzhenitsyn."

Here are some excerpts:

A few years ago [Rober Conquest] said to [Christopher Hitchens] that the old distinctions between left and right had become irrelevant to him, adding very mildly that fools and knaves of all kinds needed to be opposed and that what was really needed was "a United Front against bulls--t."

For all that, his life has been lived among the ideological storms of the 20th century, of which he retains an acute and unique memory. He was himself a communist for a couple of years in the late 1930s, having been radicalized while studying in France and observing events in Spain.

"I was even a left deviationist--my best friend was a Trotskyist and when King George V was crowned we decorated the college at Oxford with eight chamberpots painted in red, white and blue." He left the party after asking what the line would be if Chamberlain ever declared war on Hitler, and receiving the reply: "Comrade, it is impossible that the bourgeois Chamberlain would ever declare war on Hitler." This he found "oafish." "I didn't like the word 'impossible.' "

Wartime service in Bulgaria, which made him an eyewitness to Stalin's takeover of the country at the end, was proof positive. From then on, working as a researcher and later as a diplomat for the British Foreign Office, he strove to propose a social-democratic resistance to communism. "I'd always been a Labour man and somewhat on the left until the 1970s, when I met Margaret Thatcher and she asked my advice." That advice--which translated into the now-famous "Iron Lady" speech--was to regard the Soviet system as something condemned by history and doomed to fail. If that sounds easy now, it wasn't then (though Mr. Conquest insists that it was George Orwell who first saw it coming).

On the events of today he is always very judicious and reserved. "I have my own opinions about Iraq, but I haven't said a great deal about the subject because I don't know all that much about it."

An agnostic in religion ("did you know that Milton Friedman was an agnostic, too?") Mr. Conquest is likewise suspicious of anything too zealous or systematic in human affairs. He is also refreshingly empirical in his judgments. Asked why he, the great anatomizer and accuser of Stalinism, still regards Nazism as morally worse than the Gulag, he replies mildly but somehow irrefutably: "I simply feel it to be so." In his most recent books, "Reflections on a Ravaged Century" and "The Dragons of Expectation," he goes beyond the usual admonitions against Jacobinism and more recent totalitarian utopias, and argues for "the Anglosphere," that historic arc of law, tradition and individual liberty that extends from Scotland to Australia and takes in the two largest multicultural democracies on the planet--the U.S. and India.

Read the whole article in Opinion Journal.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Sick, sick, sick...

The Daily Mail's headline is "'Wave of hatred' warning as attacks on Jews hits record high".

Attacks on Britain's Jews have risen to the highest level since records began.

A study published today shows the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents has almost tripled in 10 years, with more than half the attacks last year taking place in London.

The findings prompted the report's authors to warn of a "wave of hatred" against Jews.


The Anti-Semitic Incidents Report 2006, compiled by the Community Security Trust (CST), responsible for combating anti-Semitism in the UK, blames the huge rise on a number of factors ranging from Israel's invasion of Lebanon last summer to the jailing of the historian David Irving in Austria for denying the Holocaust.


According to Barry Casselman:

...the West, for a few centuries the dominant force on the planet, is in a political trance. The East, which dominated much of the civilized world 1,000 years ago (when Europe was paralyzed in its "Dark Ages"), now appears to return as a pivotal force in the world as the ancient countries of China and India, by force of their populations and skills, assert themselves.

After centuries of raging strife, war and violence against itself, Europe seemed to be on the verge of political transformation by inaugurating the European Union. But the end of the Cold War has brought back many of its contradictions, pretensions and prejudices, as prosperity drew so many from its impoverished former colonies to settle in Europe. Its resentment against the United States, after enjoying the New World's protection and assistance for much of the 20th century, portends a difficult relationship in the 21st century, as the two foundations of the West face the competition from the East, and the threat from Islamofascist terrorism.

I am increasingly convinced that the West is in denial of what is truly happening in the world. This self-delusion is the most dangerous response possible to the intense and rapid change all over the planet. This self-denial takes many forms, including obsessions with abstract issues of little real consequence, e.g., animal rights, capital punishment, celebrity gossip, political correctness, etc. It is accompanied by the rise of secular mandates and the suppression of spiritual values. It exhibits excesses of greed that threaten both capitalism and representative government.

... Every great civilization has its day. A few have more than one day. But no civilization or people has all the days to themselves.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

At stake in the war on terror is nothing less than preserving Western civilization.

Has the Western world lost its courage and willpower to win against Islamist terror? Senator Jon Kyl posits that question originally issued as an admonishment by Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the West for its lack of moral spine to fight communism. Read the piece in The Christian Science Monitor. Some excerpts:

Solzhenitsyn's beliefs in faith and courage undoubtedly drew the attention of a new generation of leaders. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II – like the giants of America's founding – came to their positions of authority at a historically propitious time and helped supply the essential willpower of which Solzhenitsyn spoke.

...Unfortunately, our respite from ideological confrontation was short-lived. And, once again, the same lack of courage has inhibited the West's struggle against global terrorists, many of them state-sponsored.

...[Solzhenitsyn] observed that "Political and intellectual bureaucrats ... get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists." Consider, for example, the UN's weak resolutions against Iran. Solzhenitsyn also observed: "When a government starts an earnest fight against terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorists' civil rights. There are many such cases."

...At stake in the war on terror is nothing less than preserving Western civilization, as Solzhenitsyn sensed almost 30 years ago: "The fight, physical and spiritual for our planet, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started."

The fate of future generations depends on how we answer the enemy's challenge today. To do that, we must clearly understand the nature of the threat we face – and we must marshal the courage and character necessary to prevail.

A public figure calls for wiping Israel off the world...isn't that incitement to commit genocide?

There is a petition circulating to indict Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for incitement to commit genocide, under Article 3(c) (Direct and public incitement to commit genocide) of the UN Genocide Convention, which was adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

The real story behind the 2 state solution for Israel and Palestine...

Very interesting article by Caroline Glick. Excerpts:

In the world of international diplomacy few issues receive more wall-to-wall support than the notion that it is essential to establish a Palestinian state. Leaders worldwide are so busy speaking of how essential it is for a State of Palestine to be founded that none of them seems to have noticed that it already exists.

This state was officially founded in the summer of 2005, when Israel removed its military forces and civilian population from the Gaza Strip and so established the first wholly independent Palestinian state in history. Israel's destruction of four Israeli communities in Northern Samaria and curtailment of its military operations in the area set the conditions for statehood in that area as well.

And so it is that as statesmen and activists worldwide loudly proclaim their commitment to establishing the sovereign State of Palestine, they miss the fact that Palestine exists. And it is a nightmare.

Of course, neither Livni nor Peretz, who insist that Israel's most urgent priority is to establish Palestine, is willing to recognize that Palestine exists already. They refuse to acknowledge what we already know: Palestine is a terror state and an economic basket case fully funded by the international community. Indeed, over the past year since Hamas won the Palestinian elections, international assistance to the Palestinians has increased dramatically.

As Ibrahim Gambari, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, noted last Thursday, official Western aid to the Palestinians, not including Arab and Iranian support for Hamas and Fatah, increased by 10 percent in 2006 over 2005, and stood at $1.2 billion.

The Palestinians, who receive more aid per capita than any people on earth, are needy not because they lack funds. They are poor because they prefer poverty, violence and war to prosperity, peace and moderation. So it is that 57 percent of Palestinians support terror attacks against Israel.

The multitude of protesters worldwide who demand an end to the so-called "occupation" and the establishment of Palestine should be made aware of the fact that Palestine already exists. The hordes of political leaders mindlessly squawking about "visions" and "two-state solutions" should know: This is Palestine. Enter at your own risk.

"There are only two races, the decent and the indecent." Viktor Emil Frankl

An uplifting story:

JERUSALEM, Jan. 30 - At the height of World War II, Khaled Abdelwahhab hid a group of Jews on his farm in a small Tunisian town, saving them from the Nazi troops occupying the North African nation.

Now, Abdelwahhab has become the first Arab nominated for recognition as "Righteous Among the Nations," an honor bestowed on non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from Nazi persecution.
Read the rest here: AP.