Buying Time

May 31, 2006

Condi Rice is probably buying time chatting with the Mullahs while the US deploys the systems needed to destroy them.

The US announced Wednesday its willingness to enter multilateral direct talks with Iran, if Teheran agrees to halt its nuclear enrichment activity. The American move is seen as a final chance for negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program.

Oddly, the Mullahs think the US plans to invade them:

Iran, apparently anticipating an American invasion, has quietly been restructuring its military and testing a new military doctrine that calls for a decentralized, Iraqi-style guerrilla campaign against an invading force.

But the Iranian people hate and despise their horrible despots, so all we need to do is remove the latter and their nuclear facilities with minimal damage to the former.

Killing the Mullahs just needs drones equipped with precise knowledge of their movements. That database takes time to accumulate – they’ll have spider holes all over.

The nuclear facilities can be safely and cleanly eliminated as previously suggested, using Trident missiles equipped with kinetic warheads – advanced versions of the ones the Brits used to destroy deep German bunkers in WW2. This work is under way:

The Pentagon is seeking congressional approval for development of a new weapon able to strike distant targets an hour after they are detected, a newspaper reported on Monday.

The International Herald Tribune said the weapon would be a non-nuclear version of the submarine-launched Trident-2 missile and be part of a president’s arsenal when considering a pre-emptive attack.

The report quoted military officials as saying it could be used to hit terrorist camps, enemy missile sites, suspected caches of weapons of mass destruction and other urgent threats.

General James Cartwright, head of the U.S. Strategic Command, said the system would allow U.S. forces to attack targets conventionally and precisely and “limit the collateral damage”.

The Pentagon would like the system available in two years, the report said.

I’m sure it won’t take 2 years, but there’s no harm in keeping the enemy guessing.

So look for the Administration to engage in long, tedious (and of course unfruitful) discussions with the Mullahs while mapping their spider holes and deploying the bunker busters.

DU’s Iranian readers should consider the suggestions in this post may just be Great Satan Misinformation, and prepare for all the other attack modalities – land, sea, air, space, internal, Israeli, or any of the 100 or so combinations of these.


The CPA And The DNA

May 30, 2006

The London Times reports DNA tests show a Florida accountant is descended from Genghis Khan via his paternal great-great-grandfather who came from England’s green-and-pleasant Lake District. But there’s a better theory.

Tom Robinson, 48, has become the first man outside Asia to trace his ancestry directly to Genghis Khan, the 13th-century Mongol leader whose empire stretched from the South China Sea to the Persian Gulf.

And, since his paternal great-great-grandfather emigrated to the United States from Windermere, Cumbria, many more descendants are probably scattered across the Lake District.

Genetic tests have revealed that Mr Robinson, a professor of accountancy at the University of Miami, shares crucial portions of his DNA with the Mongol ruler.

He has little in common with his infamous ancestor. He is not a keen horseman. Though a Republican, his politics are moderate. And while Genghis Khan may have fathered thousands of children, Professor Robinson and his wife, Linda, have no offspring.

But his ancestor is not necessarily GK (my emphasis):

The link is revealed by the Y chromosome, a packet of DNA that determines male sex, which is passed down from father to son. Men who share a Y chromosome are invariably descended from the same man at some point in the past, and the accumulation of mutations can be used to date the common ancestor.

(A) 2003 study found that large numbers of Asian men from the regions that once made up the Mongol empire shared a single Y chromosome, and that this originated in a man who lived in the early 13th century…

Genghis Khan lived from about 1162 to 1227 and fathered hundreds or even thousands of children as his armies swept across the continent. This makes him by far the most probable source of the common chromosome.

Seems pretty implausible to me – running an army of 200,000 while laying waste to Asia and Europe wouldn’t have left much spare time for impregnating thousands of women. No doubt he did collect lots of wives – having massacred their men – but these would have been survivors, and hence smart enough to keep quiet about who really fathered their kids.

My theory is that GK had an army of accountants to manage the finances of his complex operation. They – as accountants do now – would have stayed out of the battles, turning up only for victory feasts. So, when each new fresh crop of females was captured, these accountants alone had the time and energy to procreate.

This explains why their descendants immigrated to the Brit Lake District – a known hotbed of liberal-minded accountants – and hence why the chap in Florida has the special DNA.

QED.


The WSJ Supports Crooked Lawmakers

May 30, 2006

Wall Street Journal editorials of late have become rather elitist – one last week described people opposing the Senate’s amnesty as “Nativists”, and today one claims the FBI and Attorney General are politicized & that the offices of crooked lawmakers are immune from search. These positions do it discredit.

It’s arguments (my subheads and emphasis):

1. The FBI raid was reasonable, but not necessary:

In the case of Mr. Jefferson, Justice clearly had reason to consider a search. The Congressman is suspected of taking bribes, individuals have already pleaded guilty to paying him and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, and a search of his home found $90,000 in his freezer.

Yet with all of this evidence in hand, the question is why prosecutors also felt the need to raid Mr. Jefferson’s office in the middle of the night–the first such raid in the history of Congress.

2. The FBI should have cut a deal:

If they really believe Mr. Jefferson is running a criminal enterprise out of his Capitol Hill office, they could always negotiate the parameters of such a search with House leaders.

3. The FBI and Attorney General acted in bad faith, and the President should have terminated the AG:

Justice also hasn’t helped its case with its bullying behavior after Speaker Denny Hastert denounced the raid. Someone leaked to ABC News that Mr. Hastert was himself a target of a Justice probe…

Someone also leaked that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy AG Paul McNulty had threatened to resign if President Bush returned material confiscated in the raid. So here we have someone at Justice trying to intimidate not just the House Speaker but also President Bush. If we were Mr. Bush, we’d have accepted both resignations on those grounds alone.

4. The President & Congress will suppress the evidence

Mr. Bush’s sensible decision to seal the Jefferson evidence has had the useful effect of calming this dispute down. If it turns out that Justice has to prosecute its case without evidence obtained from Mr. Jefferson’s Congressional office, so be it. Prosecutors have to work around such limitations all the time. Congress’s right to legislate without being intimidated by the executive is a core element of the Constitution, and bullying prosecutors shouldn’t be allowed to violate it.

This piece paints the FBI as politicized, without advancing any evidence. It says the AG – the man sworn to enforce the laws of the United States – should have been terminated for objecting to suppression of evidence. It advances the principle that the offices of politicians – no matter how crooked – should remain sacrosanct.

The EU anti-fraud supremo used similar arguments to hide its own corruption, so it’s sad to see the voice of American conservatism talking the same claptrap.


Memorial Day

May 29, 2006

Today is Memorial Day in the US, the equivalent of Brit Remembrance Sunday.

This is again a wartime Memorial Day, and Scrappleface has a moving post.

I take some comfort that the deaths of our fighting men and women have not been in vain – here’s VHD’s retrospective of the Iraq war:

…what did 2,400 brave and now deceased Americans really sacrifice for in Iraq, along with thousands more who were wounded? And what were billions in treasure spent on? And what about the hundreds of collective years of service offered by our soldiers? What exactly did intrepid officers in the news like a Gen. Petreus, or Col. McMaster, or Lt. Col Kurilla fight for?

First, there is no longer a mass murderer atop one of the oil-richest states in the world. Imagine what Iraq would now look like with $70 a barrel oil, a $50 billion unchecked and ongoing Oil-for-Food U.N. scandal, the 15th year of no-fly zones, a punitative U.N. embargo on the Iraqi people — all perverted by Russian arms sales, European oil concessions, and frenzied Chinese efforts to get energy contracts from Saddam.

The Kurds would remain in perpetual danger. The Shiites would simply be harvested yearly, in quiet, by Saddam’s police state. The Marsh Arabs would by now have been forgotten in their toxic dust-blown desert. Perhaps Saddam would have upped his cash pay-outs for homicide bombers on the West Bank.

Mohammar Khaddafi would be starting up his centrifuges and adding to his chemical weapons depots. Syria would still be in Lebanon. Washington would probably have ceased pressuring Egypt and the Gulf States to enact reform. Dr. Khan’s nuclear mail-order house would be in high gear. We would still be hearing of a “militant wing” of Hamas, rather than watching a democratically elected terrorist clique reveal its true creed to the world.

But just as importantly, what did these rare Americans not fight for? Oil, for one thing. The price skyrocketed after they went in. The secret deals with Russia and France ended. The U.N. petroleum perfidy stopped. The Iraqis, and the Iraqis alone — not Saddam, the French, the Russians, or the U.N. — now adjudicate how much of their natural resources they will sell, and to whom.

Our soldiers fought for the chance of a democracy; that fact is uncontestable. Before they came to Iraq, there was a fascist dictatorship. Now, after three elections, there is an indigenous democratic government for the first time in the history of the Middle East. True, thousands of Iraqis have died publicly in the resulting sectarian mess; but thousands were dying silently each year under Saddam — with no hope that their sacrifice would ever result in the first steps that we have already long passed.

Our soldiers also removed a great threat to the United States. Again, the crisis brewing over Iran reminds us of what Iraq would have reemerged as. Like Iran, Saddam reaped petroprofits, sponsored terror, and sought weapons of mass destruction. But unlike Iran, he had already attacked four of his neighbors, gassed thousands of his own, and violated every agreement he had ever signed. There would have been no nascent new democracy in Iran that might some day have undermined Saddam, and, again unlike Iran, no internal dissident movement that might have come to power through a revolution or peaceful evolution.

If many in the Middle East once thought it was cute that 19 killers could burn a 20-acre hole in Manhattan, I am not sure what they think of Americans now in their backyard not living to die, but willing to die so that other Arabs might live freely.

The Americans have born the brunt of the fighting, but soldiers from the UK, Italy, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Spain, Australia, Canada, Hungary, Slovakia, Netherlands, Denmark, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Romania and Latvia have died and should also be remembered, along with the many Iraqis who have died for their freedom.


What Is It About Islam And Rape?

May 28, 2006

Islam sanctions violence by males against their against wives and daughters, and some extend this violence to all women. So a practical first step to cleaning up our societies would be deportation of all immigrants guilty of violence against women.

The rules by which Muslim males can victimize women are carefully defined, and don’t include rape and murder. But that’s the liberals version – outside of our societies, Muslim males brutalize any woman unable to defend herself.

It’s not just women – as Lawrence of Arabia famously discovered when the Turks captured him.

In the Gulf War, the only American woman captured by the Iraqis was sexually abused while suffering from serious injuries.

Here are the two reports that triggered this reflection. First, the murder of an Israeli kid (my ellipsis):

(an) eight-year-old…, whose body was found a few weeks ago in the open market in the city, was raped by her Palestinian attacker before he killed her…

The suspect… reenacted the crime – which was premeditated and meticulously planned, for police.

Arab rape of Israelis is a daft crime. If they’re lucky, the cops catch them as in this case. If they’re unlucky, the victim’s relatives (most will be IDF) will track the rapist down and administer their own justice – in one famous case, the brother of a murdered Israeli woman, helped by fellow soldiers, is said to have killed the murderer’s entire tribe.

The Iranian regime is built on violence against women – they stone to death rape victims, or – if the victims are kids – hang them in the town square. And rape is the weapon of choice of their security services – they raped the Canadian reporter murdering her, and today we read this woman’s story:

A leading Iranian pro-democracy and women’s activist, who was jailed on trumped-up charges last year, has revealed how the clerical regime cynically deploys systemic sexual violence against female dissidents in the name of Islam.

Roya Tolouee, 40, was beaten up by Iranian intelligence agents and subjected to a horrific sexual assault when she refused to sign forced confessions. It was only when they threatened to burn her two children to death in front of her that she agreed to put her name to the documents.

“When I asked how he could do this to me, he said that he believed in only two things – Islam and the rule of the clerics…”

“But I know of no religious morality that can justify what they did to me, or other women. For these people, religion is only a tool for dictatorship and abuse. It is a regime of prejudice against women, against other regimes, against other ethnic groups, against anybody who thinks differently from them.”

Miss Tolouee’s account of her ordeal confirms recent reports from opposition groups that Iranian intelligence officials use sexual abuse against female prisoners as an interrogation technique and even rape young women before execution so that they cannot reach heaven as virgins.

Eventually, we’ll finish the Mullahs, but we can make a start in our own societies by deporting all immigrant males in any way connected with honor killing or rape.


Third Impressions Of The Mac

May 27, 2006

The Mac gets better the more I use it, though Apple’s Singapore-style DVD policy is still driving me crazy.

Mac Calendar and Address Book Beat Microsoft Office

MS has cut Office for the Mac a big step down from Office 2000. Its Outlook equivalent (Entourage) can’t automatically file new emails by folder (a must for high-email-volume multitasking), and its Calendar is dreadful – to enter an appointment, rather than enter it in situ you have to pull up a screen-obscuring dialog box. Its address book is similarly clunky.

So I’ve switched to the Apple iCal and Address Book which do most of what I need (barring spellcheck), and am testing Apple’s Mail. If that works out, I’ll deep-six Entourage. Plop.

That leaves Word and Excel, which don’t have equivalents in bundled Apple software. This is annoying because both load and run slowly on Rosetta, in spite of 1 GB of RAM and 1.66GHz Core Duo.

The OpenOffice folks are still working on their Apple Intel port (odd, since I thought it was all Java), but if that turns out to run faster, I’ll ditch all of MS Office.

UPDATE: OpenOffice is available for Intel & I’m downloading now.

PC to Mac Networking

Excellent, now running smoothly over the wireless network to Mrs. G’s PC laptop and my dead PC’s file backups.

Dashboard

This pops up a bunch of user selected tools (weather reports, unit converters, language translators etc) when you mouse-off a selected corner. I’ve downloaded some of the thousands of available widgets. Some are useless – a car hire widget told me that there were no cars available at Rome’s Fiumicino airport in August! On the other hand I found a tasteful white Calculator & so was able to ditch the orange-bordered default

Installation

Installing new software on the Mac is vastly faster than Windows. Instead of tiresome Install Shield-Wizard-navigation then reboot, you download the install file, double click it, and a few seconds later it’s ready to run.

The Great DVD Conspiracy

I now know more about Apple, Matsushita, DVD firmware etc than I ever wanted to.

Turns out the reason I didn’t pick the issue up before purchase was censorship on the US review site I’ve hitherto relied on. Before buying, I carefully checked it for DVD problems, finding none.

So, having found the issue, I posted a comment on the site to warn other users. It was suppressed, I assume because the site considers discussion of multi-region DVD to be illegal.

This confirms SecDef’s wisdom: “you don’t know what you don’t know”.

A quick look at the law suggests the reviewer is over reaching – region coding is part of a civil-law contract between the media producers, the DVD drive manufacturers and the PC vendors. Users aren’t party to that contract & so aren’t bound by it – which is why Amazon sells multi region DVD players and why the media producers haven’t been hit for restraint-of-trade by the WTO.

Anyway, I think I’ve figured a way around this evil conspiracy on the Mac & will report results.

The entire process is very annoying, but at least I’ve learned not to trust the review site.


Ejecting Incumbents

May 27, 2006

Americans are just as smart as Brits at spotting the corruption of their elected representatives – even before the latest outrage, 83% viewed Congressional corruption as a serious problem. Voters can remedy this in November.

The poll (reported May 17 – WSJ ($)):

…three times as many Americans disapprove of Congress’s job-performance as approve, according to last week’s Gallup Poll. Those are Congress’s lowest numbers since the Democrats were last in power a dozen years ago.

According to Gallup, 83% of Americans view congressional corruption as a serious problem.

And almost half think most are crooks (my emphasis):

Forty-seven percent of Americans think most members of Congress are corrupt, a significant increase from the beginning of this year.

The vast majority of Americans believe corruption in Washington involves both parties equally.

Until last week, I thought that an extreme view – all organizations have some crooks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the entire outfit is crooked.

But events since the poll show the pessimists are right (WSJ – $, my ellipsis & emphasis):

According to numerous press accounts, after videotaping Mr. Jefferson receiving a $100,000 bribe from an FBI informant, the government executed a search warrant of his home and found $90,000 of that money hidden in his freezer. In another case, a Kentucky businessman pleaded guilty to paying Mr. Jefferson $400,000 in bribes for official favors; and one of the congressman’s key staff members has already entered a guilty plea to aiding and abetting the bribery of a public official.

Based upon such compelling evidence and Mr. Jefferson’s refusal to comply with a subpoena to surrender key documents for eight months, a federal judge issued the search warrant that was executed in the congressman’s Capitol Hill office last weekend. The FBI took exceptional measures to ensure that no privileged documents would be surrendered to investigators, with any close calls being made by a federal judge.

One might expect that others in Congress would be grateful that a scoundrel in their midst has apparently been caught red-handed. But there is obviously a more fundamental issue here, as (Republican) House Speaker Dennis Hastert quickly joined forces with (Democratic) Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, not to commend the FBI for its outstanding work, but to vehemently denounce its actions on the theory that members of Congress are above the law.

These scoundrels expect to avoid electoral penalties because:

Due to gerrymandering, fewer than 10% of all House seats are contested in each election cycle…over 90% of House members are guaranteed reelection every two years, due to lack of electoral competition…

And:

…barring major scandal or controversy, about 95% of congressional incumbents win re-election to their seats.

That may be about to change (my emphasis):

..there exist scenarios in which the incumbency factor itself leads to the downfall of the incumbent. Popularly known as the anti-incumbency factor, situations of this kind occur when the incumbent has proven himself not worthy of office during his tenure and the challenger demonstrates this fact to the voters.

Come November, one third of the Senate and the entire House is up for re-election, so Americans can clean house.