Euro Bats

June 15, 2005

I just ushered a cute little bat out of the house.

About 6″ wingspan, great big ears, small furry face that I can only describe as “bat like” and lousy radar (kept veering away from windows I’d opened for him). And, between trying STOL landings on my head, he hung upside down on the rafters in the approved manner.

After seeing him fly off in to the night, I Googled to get pix, without success. However, you’ll be delighted to know that there’s a site called Among other things it stages a European Bat Night & just hosted a Bat Workshop in Slovenia.

Just though you should know.


Google and Yahoo Are Evil, Not Microsoft

June 15, 2005

Microsoft is censoring its portal because its customer, the Chinese State, requires it to, and that’s normal free market behavior. However Yahoo and Google are censoring their news to their Chinese customers out of fear. That’s pusillanimity.

In today’s WSJ Opinion (subscription required):

(Microsoft) has just bowed to the Chinese government by banning (the words ‘freedom,’ ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’) . If you type them on Microsoft’s new portal, a message appears telling you to try different ones. If this weren’t insulting enough, the message actually says, according to news reports, “this item should not contain forbidden speech such as profanity. Please enter a different word for this item.”

With all respect to the WSJ, blaming Microsoft for satisfying its customer is, well, lefty. Because:

Microsoft formed a joint venture with China’s state-funded Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd (SAIL) last month to launch the MSN China web portal.

So the customer is the Chinese Fear State. And Microsoft is publicizing this limitation on its service, so no deception is involved. However:

Yahoo! and Google have also caved in to China. Google chose last year to omit sources the Chinese government does not like from its Google News China edition.

The customers of Google and Yahoo are Chinese users, not the Chinese state. So, in censoring the news they provide, they are violating the trust of these customers, every minute, every day.


If You Don’t Like Gitmo, What’s Your Alternative?

June 15, 2005

The people deploring US interrogation of prisoners at Gitmo are dishonest hypocrites – they seek to protect the terrorists who commit the depravities while condemning the US for taking mild measures to squeeze the thugs for life-saving intel.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that the U.S. extracted valuable inside information on al Qaeda from a would-be September 11 hijacker who underwent rough interrogation tactics at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Mr. Rumsfeld said information from Mohammed al-Qahtani, the so-called “20th hijacker,” and others led to the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks; the identities of 20 bodyguards of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden; and the disruption of planned terror attacks around the world.

My approach to interrogation morality is utilitarian – if I were captured by a bunch of Islamic terrorists, would I really mind the Gitmo techniques being used on me? Of course I wouldn’t feel good if it caused me to reveal secrets, and I wouldn’t like the hazing. But would I mind it as much as, say having all my teeth or fingernails pulled out, or an arm sawed off? I don’t think so.

So, if that’s the choice, how do you interrogate people who you reasonably believe are planning to slaughter more Americans?

1. Put them through the criminal courts

The ACLU proposes this & has been saying so since 9 days after 9/11, when the WTC was still an open grave.

But then you find out nothing – because you can’t coerce people when they’re in the criminal justice system. So then we get more open graves. Here are their alternative treatments for terrorists captured in battle:

Charge a terrorist suspect with the crime of “material support” for terrorism or other broadly-defined crime, such as harboring terrorists.

Charge a terrorist suspect with an unrelated criminal offense and use evidence of terrorism at sentencing.

Detain a terrorist suspect as a “material witness” to a criminal proceeding.

This is the policy which has worked so brilliantly in Germany.

A Moroccan who was cleared last week of plotting the 9-11 attacks on the United States refused to testify on Wednesday when called as a witness at the Hamburg trial of fellow-accused Mounir al-Motassadeq.

2. Treat them like POWs

This means asking only name rank and number, which is the privilege granted by the Geneva Convention to combatants who are captured while observing the rules of war.

…drawn from earlier international practice and agreements, and include subordination to a responsible command structure, wearing uniforms, carrying arms openly, and operating in accord with the other laws and customs of war.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is pushing this one. They argue that the US is bound by the 1977 “Protocol I Additional” to the Geneva Conventions:

In particular, for those countries who have ratified Protocol I, the treaty fundamentally alters the status of irregular or guerrilla fighters under the laws of war. It gives them a lawful status and the right to POW treatment. In addition, because a successful guerrilla campaign involves hit-and-run tactics and the ability to “disappear” into the surrounding civilian population, Protocol I created a substantial advantage for irregulars by relaxing the requirements of uniforms and openly carried weapons. The regular armed forces of states, of course, must continue to distinguish themselves from the civilian population by wearing a uniform and carrying their arms openly.

Not surprisingly, Protocol I was immediately embraced by “national liberation movements”, many “developing” states (at the height of its export of terrorism, Libya rushed to become the second nation to ratify Protocol I).

Unfortunately for the ICRC, the US never ratified Protocol I, for the reasons explained by President Reagan:

It contains provisions that would undermine humanitarian law and endanger civilians in war. . . . It would give special status to “wars of national liberation”, an ill-defined concept expressed in vague, subjective, politicized terminology.

Another provision would grant combatant status to irregular forces even if they do not satisfy the traditional requirements to distinguish themselves from the civilian population and otherwise comply with the laws of war.

This would endanger civilians among whom terrorists and other irregulars attempt to conceal themselves.”

Nevertheless, the ICRC pretends that Protocol I is now settled international law & is repeatedly attacking US policy:

Leaked ICRC reports have described conditions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as “tantamount to torture” because indefinite detention is stressful. And just last month the ICRC’s Washington office broke its confidentiality agreement with the U.S. government to fan the flames created by Newsweek’s false Quran-abuse story.

And yet the ICRC has done nothing for US POWs:

(In Vietnam) the ICRC itself made no discernible effort on behalf of American POWs.

…during the Gulf War, ICRC officials in Baghdad failed to protect coalition POWs held by Saddam, merely assisting in their repatriation once he was defeated–even though there were a dozen ICRC delegates in Baghdad during the war.

The ICRC is also oddly silent:

Today, our enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the War on Terror do not take prisoners. Most of those Americans, whether military or civilian, unfortunate enough to fall into their hands have been butchered, and their murders have been broadcast on television throughout the Middle East and made available around the world on the Internet.

Which leads to these classifications under the ETF Ecosystem.

Donald Rumsfeld is, of course, a Spiny Norman
The ACLU is a Kierkegaard (small-time criminal)
The ICRC is Dinsdale Piranha (big-time but cowardly criminal)

Incidentally, the American Red Cross is part of the ICRC – if you give it money, you’re aiding an enemy of America.

Remember Lord Nelson

June 15, 2005

A rare eye-witness account of the Battle of Trafalgar is up for auction. Which reminds me of how, at Trafalgar, Lord Nelson made our modern world possible.

Lord Nelson

First the eye-witness account, from a17 year old powder monkey – the lowest form of life on a line-of-battle ship in Nelson’s command:

Then Victory came under heavy attack: “Our After magesene [magazine] skreens took fire and burnt the Leftanant of mereans [Marines] badley. I had jest left thair wen the exploshon took place. The men Inside the skreens was burnt to deth. . . Then I had to go to the fore magesene for my powder wilst the Victory Engaged the Redoutable on the starboard side. . .

“The Example of the Admerel was universely folowed by the British Captains, they broke into the Enemys Line on Everey side, Engaged 2 or three ships at a time and mantained the batle at the verey musels [muzzles] of the Canon.”

“The fleets of france and spain ware in fact annihalated yet grate and gloureus as was the triump[h] to us British was Dearley bout [bought] for Lord Nelson fell mortley wounded Earley in the Action.”

Here’s what Nelson achieved:

In 1804 Napoleon planned an invasion of Britain…150,000 French soldiers, known as the ‘Army of England’, were assembled at Bologne.

To get across the channel, Napoleon needed to defeat the British Navy. Instead:

The Franco-Spanish fleet met Nelson off Cape Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. Nelson used unusual tactics and blew the enemy fleet to pieces. Eighteen of Villeneuve’s fleet of thirty-four were accounted for in the battle and none ever fought again. Nelson had twenty-seven ships.

Britain was safe from invasion. Napoleon went on winning battles for a while in continental Europe. But now he was landlocked by the technologically superior Brits, and his days were numbered.

Revolving Postage Stamps

June 15, 2005

The Washington Times is having fun.

EU leaders are furious about rebellious Italian dissatisfaction with the single currency.

“It is just inconceivable that a country could envisage dropping out of the euro,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of postage-stamp-sized Luxembourg, which is currently the revolving European Union president.