Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Europe to Impose Ban on Certain Pesticides to Protect Bees

From France24:

The European Commission said on Monday it would go ahead and impose a temporary ban on three of the world's most widely used pesticides because of fears they harm bees, despite EU governments failing to agree on the issue. 
In a vote on Monday, EU officials could not decide whether to impose a two-year ban - with some exceptions - on a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, produced mainly by Germany's Bayer and Switzerland's Syngenta. 
The Commission proposed the ban in January after EU scientists said the chemicals posed an acute risk to honeybees, which pollinate many of the crops grown commercially in Europe. It said it would go ahead with partial restrictions anyway. 
Pesticide manufacturers and some scientists say no link has been proven between the use of neonicotinoids and a sharp decline in bee numbers in Europe in recent years - a phenomenon known as "colony collapse disorder".

Looting Egypt's Treasures

France24 reports on increased looting of archaeological sites since the "revolution" in Egypt:

The looters are excavating around the black pyramid and the bent pyramid every day and every night. When it’s dark, they even use bulldozers. They dig up such large areas that you can see where they’re working clearly on satellite images. There are a couple of guards at these pyramids, but they’re outnumbered. They have 9mm handguns; the looters have machineguns.

Villagers have built a new cemetery near the bent pyramid. [Editor’s Note: This construction has been carried out illegally.] Some are genuinely doing this to bury their relatives, because their old cemetery is full; however, I have also seen looters working there.

The Netherlands Celebrates Its New King

The rather reserved queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has handed over her crown to her son Willem-Alexander. He's somewhat closer to the people, and people across the country are celebrating their new king.
When Beatrix became queen in 1980, the ceremony was marred by violent demonstrations of squatters and anarchists. During the celebration in the "New Church," Beatrix, who took over on the throne from her mother Juliana, was able to hear the anti-royalist protests outside. 
This time, the installation of the monarch has been somewhat more peaceful and jolly. About one million Dutch and foreign tourists are celebrating in Amsterdam. Everywhere in the country special parties are being held for the occasion, and almost every Dutchman and woman is sporting at last one piece of clothing in the national color, orange.

Civil Liberties After Boston ...

... is the title of a piece written by Richard Epstein  who apparently is willing to sacrifice freedom for a little security, as he thinks. Epstein writes:
In the aftermath of the terrorist bombing—no lesser word will do—at the Boston Marathon, a major debate has broken out over the proper law enforcement procedures in two key areas: general surveillance and targeted searches. Many insist that a general right to privacy should limit the first, and that concern with racial and ethnic profiling should limit the second. Both of these overinflated concerns should be stoutly resisted.
He then goes on to argue why our Fourth Amendment rights should be further curtailed.
The basic command of the Fourth Amendment says that, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . .” For these purposes, the operative term is “unreasonable,” which, in light of the weighty interests on all sides of the dispute, requires some public judgment that compares the risks of inaction with those of excessive action. This unavoidable balancing process makes it foolish to elevate privacy—itself a complex notion—to that “nonnegotiable” status under a Constitution that also values the protection of life, liberty, and property.
Second, the last thing needed in these difficult circumstances is a squeamishness about aggressive government action. It is wholly unwise to think that we can turn surveillance devices on and off with the flip of a switch, as Hedlund proposes, and still get the information we need. The correct approach is to do exactly what Hedlund would stop: collect troves of information about the conduct of people in public places, which can then be stored for future use.
Epstein is being disingenious. He casually omits the bulk of the Fourth Amendment because it does not support his premise. The whole text is: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Up until the progressives took over the Supreme Court, a search was presumably "unreasonable" if it wasn't supported by warrant or made in the process of an arrest. However, over the past 50 years, and accelerating under the so-called "war on drugs," the Supreme Court has gradually allowed our Fourth Amendment rights to be eroded to allow for exception upon exception, until now the exceptions have all but swallowed the rule. This is why Epstein feels he can so casually disregard everything after "unreasonable searches and seizures." However, as Benjamin Franklin is credited with observing: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Given that one has a greater chance of being struck by lightening than killed by a terrorist, Epstein's desire for a surveillance society is a gross overreaction to what is, in reality, a minimal threat. So, yes, it should be nonnegotiable.

Epstein also makes the classic progressive mistake of confusing religion with race. Islam is a religion, it is not an ethnicity. So, is Epstein as willing to jettison the First Amendment as he seems so eager to do to the Fourth.

Finally, let us be honest here. Epstein is of that class of elites who will never be subject to a "shelter in place" order (i.e., martial law). His risk/benefit analysis is, accordingly, skewed.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Israeli Attack on Syrian Chemical Weapons Site?

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) reports that Israeli fighter jets slipped into Damascus over the weekend and bombed a chemical weapons depot outside the city.
Neither Damascus nor Jerusalem have yet confirmed the attack, according to UPI.
According to The Jewish Press (JP) "many" reports came in over the weekend confirming the mission. Sources told the JP Israeli jets arrived over Damascus early Saturday morning and circled Assad's presidential compound before moving on to target the weapons site.
The Israeli jets reportedly received fire but returned to base unscathed. 
The Lebanese Daily Star confirms heavy FSA fighting occurred near the plant, the Scientific Studies and Research Center, but troops lacked the resources to breach the heavily fortified site.
The reason for this would be to keep Syrian rebels, linked to Al Qaeda, from getting control of the stockpiles. Asthis article from JNS notes:

 ... reports indicate a mounting presence of Islamic terror groups within Syria’s rebel forces, complicating options for Western policymakers to address the Syrian civil war.
According to a report in the New York Times, Islamic groups have provided basic government and local services such as running bakeries, controlling power plants and providing medical services in rebel-controlled areas.
Local residents have grown to respect the Islamic groups who receive funding and weapons from sympathetic donors in the Arab Gulf states. As a result, Islamic commanders have risen up the Syrian rebel ranks, now controlling many positions in the rebel umbrella group, the Supreme Military Council.
The biggest concern for the West is a U.S.-designated foreign terror group, the Al-Nusra Front, which has direct ties to Al-Qaeda in Iraq and has pledged loyalty to Al-Qaeda chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Another prominent terror group is Ahrar al-Sham, which is made up primarily of native Syrians.
“My sense is that there are no seculars,” Elizabeth O’Bagy of the Institute for the Study of War, who has recently interviewed several rebel commanders, told the New York Times.

The Sequester Worked

The treasury reportedly will pay down some of the public debt for the first time in six-years.

The Treasury Department on Monday said it expects to cut its "marketable" debt load by $35 billion in the current quarter, the first such reduction since the second quarter of 2007, when it shed $139 billion in debt. What did the trick? Higher tax receipts and lower government spending -- an austerity cocktail.

Pelosi Sees Government Childcare As Next Pillar Of Government

Apparently she thinks there are too many mothers staying home to care for their children that should be working. Lazy proles. Pelosi is quoted as saying: "... it’s long overdue that we would have this. Now, the president comes close in his budget when he says ‘preschool for all’ because we have a situation of children learning, parents earning.”

Everything Is Rigged

Rolling Stone reports on the latest price fixing super-scandal:

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that's trillion, with a "t") worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it "dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets."

That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world's largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world's largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.

Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It's about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.

It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture.
Its a lengthy article, but you should read the whole thing.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Recent Breakthroughs in Battery Technology

One of the biggest limitations on various technologies--mobile electronics and electric vehicles come to mind--have been batteries. However, there are a couple recent breakthroughs that may make batteries more powerful, faster to recharge, and less expensive.

First, microbatteries:
A team of scientists from the University of Illinois, Urbana said on Tuesday that it had created lithium ion “microbatteries” that have an energy density 2000 times greater than existing microbatteries and equal to today’s “best supercapacitors.” This was accomplished by condensing and combining components on a microscale with what the researchers call “bicontinuous interdigitated microelectrodes.”

In plain English: “This is a whole new way to think about batteries,” said lead researcher William P. King. “A battery can deliver far more power than anybody ever thought. In recent decades, electronics have gotten small. The thinking parts of computers have gotten small. And the battery has lagged far behind. This is a microtechnology that could change all of that. Now the power source is as high-performance as the rest of it.”

The researchers say that another practical benefit is extending the range of radio signals (such as those used in some consumer electronics) 30 times farther. Other applications include medical devices, lasers and sensors. A cell phone battery would be powerful enough to jumpstart a car, so jumper devices could become dramatically smaller.
Second, some advances in lithium-sulfur batteries:
A team at Cambridge University has developed a breakthrough battery which could double the life of mobile devices - and make them cost less.

The new batteries are able to hold twice the energy of current generation lithium-ion batteries.

Up to 40% of the the cost of current batteries is taken up by the positive electrode - the cathode - which is normally made of lithium and a metal oxide, usually cobalt, manganese or nickel.

The Cambridge team instead used a composite of sulphur and nanostructured carbon for the electrode.

By doing so they were able to dramatically cut the cost - and achieve double the energy density.

"Using sulphur instead of the materials currently used in lithium-ion batteries could substantially reduce production costs, as sulphur is a fraction of the cost of other materials," said Dr Can Zhang, one of the developers of the material.

"Additionally, compared with conventional lithium-ion batteries, the carbon-sulphur electrodes achieve double the energy density per unit of weight."

The new cathodes are made by growing a "forest" (their word) of carbon nanotubes on a layer of metal foam.
 More here.

Indirect Evidence of Panspermia?

From MIT Technology Review:
As life has evolved, its complexity has increased exponentially, just like Moore’s law. Now geneticists have extrapolated this trend backwards and found that by this measure, life is older than the Earth itself.

... is it reasonable to think that the complexity of life has increased at the same rate throughout Earth’s history? Perhaps the early steps in the origin of life created complexity much more quickly than evolution does now, which will allow the timescale to be squeezed into the lifespan of the Earth.

Sharov and Gorden reject this argument saying that it is suspiciously similar to arguments that squeeze the origin of life into the timespan outlined in the biblical Book of Genesis.

Let’s suppose for a minute that these guys are correct and ask about the implications of the idea. They say there is good evidence that bacterial spores can be rejuvenated after many millions of years, perhaps stored in ice.

They also point out that astronomers believe that the Sun formed from the remnants of an earlier star, so it would be no surprise that life from this period might be preserved in the gas, dust and ice clouds that remained. By this way of thinking, life on Earth is a continuation of a process that began many billions of years earlier around our star’s forerunner.

Sharov and Gordon say their interpretation also explains the Fermi paradox, which raises the question that if the universe is filled with intelligent life, why can’t we see evidence of it.

However, if life takes 10 billion years to evolve to the level of complexity associated with humans, then we may be among the first, if not the first, intelligent civilisation in our galaxy. And this is the reason why when we gaze into space, we do not yet see signs of other intelligent species.
Read the whole thing.

We Should Repeal the 16th Amendment

Andrew Napolitano explains why income taxation is theft ... or worse.

Yet, the imposition of a federal income tax is more than just taking from those who work and earn and giving to those who don't. And it is more than just a spigot to fill the federal trough. At its base, it is a terrifying presumption. It presumes that we don't really own our property. It accepts the Marxist notion that the state owns all the property and the state permits us to keep and use whatever it needs us to have so we won't riot in the streets. And then it steals and uses whatever it can politically get away with. Do you believe this?

There are only three ways to acquire wealth in a free society. The inheritance model occurs when someone gives you wealth. The economic model occurs when you trade a skill, a talent, an asset, knowledge, sweat, energy or creativity to a willing buyer. And the mafia model occurs when a guy with a gun says: "Give me your money or else."

Which model does the government use? Why do we put up with this?
 (H/t The Woodpile Report)

Boston Bombers Used RC Components

Shortly after the bombing, based on a photo of battery and a battery harness, I had suggested that the Boston Bombers had used RC components for their bombs. Turns out that I was correct. From Fox News:

The bombers who attacked the Boston Marathon last week did not rely on cellphone detonators, but rather toy car speed controllers as the trigger, requiring a clear view of the explosives, according to a national security source familiar with the FBI investigation.
The source, who agreed to discuss progress in the marathon bombing case on the condition of anonymity, said the finding is significant, adding the use of remote-control toy parts as a detonation mechanism is not found in the Al Qaeda online magazine Inspire, which was cited in early reports as the suspects' likely bomb-making guide.

While the working theory among investigators is that one or both of the Tsarnaev brothers triggered the detonation using the speed controllers, Fox News is told a third party in the crowd has not been ruled out, though there is no evidence suggesting a third party at this time.
[Docent--What about the Saudi national that was acting suspiciously?]

"I can't comment on any of the specifics on the design of the weapon that went off, but it is very clear when you take the totality of it that there was some outside counsel to these individuals on how to build and how to detonate," Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said.

Asked about possible third-party involvement, Rogers did not rule it out.
"This was not something that we believe that on their own that they came up with, that design was on their own," he said. "That's why those six months in Russia becomes so important. And other persons of interest that I know investigators would like to talk to becomes very, very important here."
 NBC reports:

A detailed analysis of the bombs used at the Boston Marathon and during a firefight between the suspects and law enforcement shows how closely the bombmakers followed instructions from the digital al Qaeda magazine “Inspire,” according to a government document obtained by NBC News.
The unclassified report from the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center found that the pipe bombs allegedly thrown from a car by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev during last Friday’s chase through Watertown, Mass., resembled the design described in “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” an article in the first issue of the English-language magazine. At least one of the Watertown bombs used an elbow pipe wrapped in black tape, as discussed in “Inspire.”

“The use of elbow pipes specifically is unique,” states the report, “and rare in other extremist and anarchist literature.”

“How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” also provided instructions on how to build bombs with kitchen pressure cookers. The bombs detonated at the marathon on April 15 were constructed from pressure cookers, as was a bomb authorities say the suspects threw at police during the Watertown shootout. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a 26-year-old immigrant of Chechen origin, was killed during the confrontation. 
According to the TEDAC analysis, the pressure-cooker bombs also match the “Inspire” designs in their use of spherical shrapnel and gunpowder from fireworks, as well as the possible use of Christmas tree lights as an initiator.

The pipe bombs also used fireworks and spherical shrapnel. Both types of devices apparently used glue to secure the shrapnel, as described in “Inspire.” NBC is not disclosing details that could aid in the construction of a bomb. 
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who survived the Watertown shootout and was captured last Friday night, has told investigators that he and his brother Tamerlan got bombmaking instructions from “Inspire,” according to law enforcement officials. The TEDAC document, however, notes while the elements of the Boston bombs “use similar components to those described in several issues of ‘Inspire,’” they also diverge from the “Inspire” designs, with different triggers and power sources. A fusing system that used parts from a toy car, say the investigators, does not seem traceable to the magazine.

Vikingism (or Manning Up)

The Viking Supremacy Blog explains Viking supremacy (or Vikingism). (Warning--vulgar language). It is reminiscent of The Art of Manliness, except based around the Viking warrior rather than the Edwardian gentleman.

(H/t Instapundit)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Do The Taliban Even Want To Talk?

Rob Crilly at the Telegraph tries to answer this question. I think that the answer is best summed up on the movie, Independence Day, where the alien pilot is asked what the aliens want. Its reply: "We want you to die."

Actually, there are some pragmatic reasons for the Taliban not to talk. The U.S. and NATO have announced pull out dates, so they can simply wait us out. Also, they have become narco-terrorists, so they benefit from the chaos that allows them to pursue the opium trade. Finally, if there is peace, what are they to do? They are fighters, not citizens.

From the perspective of Western nations, the only really successful wars against insurgencies have been the wars against the American Indians and the Second Boer War. However, if we are not willing to engage in similar strategies, we will lose. Thus, unless we are willing to engage in such strategies, we shouldn't become involved.

Antimatter May Decay Faster Than Matter

The Big Bang Theory (or Theories) contend that at the instant of the big bang, equal amounts of matter and anti-matter were created. The question has always been, where did all that anti-matter go? If matter and anti-matter self annihilate, why is there any matter left at all? One possibility is that the big bang, for some reason, created slightly more matter than anti-matter. But scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have found evidence that anti-matter may decay faster than matter. From the Telegraph:
Physicists believe that a subtle difference in the way the two behave, however, meant that more antimatter was destroyed than matter.

The result was that enough matter was left once all the antimatter had vanished to make up the universe that now exists around us – an affect known as the CP Violation.

Scientists working on the LHCb detector at the Large Hadron Collider have now announced that they have spotted a slight difference in the way antimatter decays that may go some way to explaining this.

By smashing particles known as protons together in head on collisions in the LHC, the scientists have been able to recreate some of the conditions that existed shortly after the Big Bang.

This has included creating some particles of antimatter, which are identical to normal matter but have a different electrical charge.

The scientists found that some of the antimatter particles they created decayed into smaller particles more quickly than their matter opposites.

Professor Tara Shears, a physicist at the University of Liverpool who helped conduct the experiments, said: “In the moments after the big bang matter and anti matter were continually meeting and annihilate each other.

“As a consequence of a very tiny difference between antimatter and matter, it meant that the matter survived while the antimatter did not.

Not Another War!

It looks like Obama may institute air action against Syria. (Stories here and here). Since Congress gave its war making authority to the President, there is nothing it can do. It has always been interesting to me that most of the major conflicts this country ends up fighting are initiated by Democratic presidents. What makes Democrats so blood-thirsty?

I don't see any upside to this intervention, and see some serious downsides, including needlessly antagonizing Russia, that we would be providing de facto support for Al Qaeda and the Wahhabi wing of Islam, and that the result will be horrendous ethnic and religious purges should the "rebels" win. 

Phone Case That Makes It Easier to Take Photos/Video Discretely

Full story here.

Mormon Church OK With Gay Scouts?

NBC News is reporting that the LDS Church has tacitly approved the BSA recommendation to accept gay scouts. The full statement seems more neutral than NBC seems to suggest.

Some of the comments to the story ask why it should matter what Mormons think. The story answers that: "The Mormon church tops the list of membership enrollment numbers, with 431,000 youths participating in LDS-sponsored units as of Dec. 31, 2012." My question is why should the BSA care what people that don't and are unlikely to participate in Scouting think.

I have noted my practical concerns with the issue before, and that is all I have to say.

Victim of Boston Bombers' Carjacking Recounts Story

... at the Boston Globe.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boston Bombers Had Only One Gun

Early reports (including from the New York Times) indicated that the Boston Bombers had multiple firearms, including an AR rifle of some sort. Now it turns out that they had only one firearm between them--a 9 mm handgun with the serial number obliterated--which they did not legally possess. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was unarmed when he was fired upon multiple times by FBI and captured. This must be terribly disappointing news to the liberal media.

Samurai Bishop and the Boston Manhunt

A Samurai sword-wielding Mormon bishop helped a neighbor woman escape a Tuesday morning attack by a man who had been stalking her.

Kent Hendrix woke up Tuesday to his teenage son pounding on his bedroom door and telling him somebody was being mugged in front of their house. The 47-year-old father of six rushed out the door and grabbed the weapon closest to him -- a 29-inch high carbon steel Samurai sword.

He came upon what he describes as a melee between a woman and a man. His son stayed inside to call 911 while he approached the man along with other neighbors who came to help. The martial arts instructor didn't hesitate in drawing the sword and yelling at him to get on the ground.
The attacker fled and, later, surrendered to police.

You might not think that there is any connection between this and the Boston manhunt for the Marathon Bombers, but there is by comparing the reactions of citizens.

Michael Walsh writes that Bostonians should be ashamed of how the man-hunt was prosecuted. He says:
Enough with all the chest-thumping, mingled with manly tears, about the dramatic end of the Marathon bombers’ reign of terror in Boston last week. From the press coverage, you’d think the entire city (which is actually rather small) rose up as one and smote two evil Chechens a stunning blow for truth, justice, liberty and the American Way. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What we saw instead was a city cowering in fear, led by two particularly pusillanimous toads in Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Mumbles Menino, who had the services of some 10,000 armed personnel — literally, a small army — to take down… wait for it… a wounded teenager with a gun, and maybe some self-detonating explosives.

Way to go, Boston. You’ve made all of us proud to be Americans.
He contrasts Boston with the reaction by Russians to the Chechen slaughter of school children at Beslan:
But don’t you wish, just once, an American public official would react like a man? A man, say, like this guy, who said this about the Chechens after they attacked a school back in 2004. WARNING: offensive, ethnically biased stereotyping ahead:
“You find it possible to set some limitations in your dealings with these bastards, so why should we talk to people who are child killers? 
“No one has a moral right to tell us to talk to child killers,” he added.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but Margaret Thatcher, whom I’ve met more than once said: ‘A man who comes out into the street to kill other people must himself be killed’.”
Now, that’s some real straight talk about murdering, child-killing bastards.
Walsh adds:
Note that, when the Russian military finally stormed the school, they were accompanied by armed residents of the village, desperate to save their children. In typical ham-handed Russian fashion, the former Soviets managed to kill almost as many people as they saved — but the point is they fought back. They didn’t “shelter in place” (what an odious, bloodless phrase for enforced institutional cowardice), hiding behind locked doors; they got up, got their guns, and finally did something to rid themselves of the aliens in their midst. For they knew — with the example of the Moscow theater crisis fresh in everybody’s minds — that there was no way this atrocity could end any way but bloodily. They wanted to get their licks in, and die like men instead of dumb beasts waiting for the slaughter.
He concludes:
So congratulations, Boston. In a state with some of the “toughest” gun laws in the country – and by “toughest” I mean unconstitutionally restrictive — a legislature completely conrolled [sic] by Democrats and a congressional delegation that includes a grand total of zero Republicans, it was somehow not surprising that the Chechens chose one of the few places in the United States where a) the people could not and would not fight back and b) the media would find them sympathetic. Heck, even the UN agrees with me… sort of.

I’ve long said that the relationship between the American Left and Islam is that of masochist and sadist; the perfect Suicide Cult meets the Death Cult of its dreams. No wonder they got along so well together, right up to the moment when they didn’t.
So, what the two stories--the katana wielding Mormon bishop and Boston man-hunt--have in common are the differences. In one, the Mormon bishop took up arms to confront evil, and in the other, politically correct politicians had disarmed the populace and had them cower in fear from the evil. 

Entitlements and Terrorism

It has now been reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the two brothers involved in the Boston Bombing, had been receiving welfare benefits. The Boston Herald reports:
State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits. Russell Tsarnaev’s attorney has claimed Katherine — who had converted to Islam — was working up to 80 hours a week as a home health aide while Tsarnaev stayed at home.

In addition, both of Tsarnaev’s parents received benefits, and accused brother bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were recipients through their parents when they were younger, according to the state.
(See also this story from Fox News). It is also notable that the younger brother had received scholarships and educational assistance.

Is there a connection between the welfare and the terrorism? Last night, Glenn Reynolds linked to a December 2001 article by Mickey Kaus that explored this issue. Kaus noted several terrorists that had been the news had been receiving welfare benefits, and wrote:

The point isn't simply that many terrorists take advantage of Western welfare states, the same way they take advantage of Western freedoms and Western technology. The point is that extreme anti-social terrorist ideologies (radical Islam, in particular) seem to breed in "oppositional" cultures supported by various government welfare benefits.
This is particularly evident in France, where—as this Los Angeles Times piece describes—unemployed and alienated North African Arab immigrants in subsidized public housing projects turn to crime and violence in a vicious cycle familiar to students of the African-American "underclass." Except that in France, in the "violent neighborhoods, the housing projects where the young men can be recruited" into terrorism, an "ironic thing" happens, according to a French intelligence officer quoted by the Times' Sebastian Rotella:
"When the extremists take control, violence goes down. Islam brings discipline. But then we have to watch that neighborhood for a different reason."
Such North African Arabs make up "the backbone [of] Islamic terrorist groups in Europe" reports Peter Finn of the Washington Post—although the 9/11 hijackers seem to have been a separate, elite al-Qaida group drawn largely from Persian Gulf states.
What do you want to bet that the French pattern is visible in Britain, which has been (in the Post's words) "a haven for fundamentalists who enjoy traditional British liberties and a generous social welfare system even as they rail against the culture that has given them refuge"?
In fact, there's a good argument that "welfare benefits + ethnic antagonism" is the universal recipe for an underclass with an angry, oppositional culture. The social logic is simple: Ethnic differences make it easy for those outside of, for example, French Arab neighborhoods to discriminate against those inside, and easy for those inside to resent the mainstream culture around them. Meanwhile, relatively generous welfare benefits enable those in the ethnic ghetto to stay there, stay unemployed, and seethe. Without government subsidies, they would have to overcome the prejudice against them and integrate into the mainstream working culture. Work, in this sense, is anti-terrorist medicine. (And if you work all day, there's less time to dream up ways and reasons to kill infidels.)
There is another point, in the Fox News article, that shouldn't be overlooked. The story reports:

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, who was arrested in the United States in June on charges of shoplifting, has told The Associated Press that her son Tamerlan greatly enjoyed his time with her relatives during a trip to his ancestral homeland in southern Russia last year. But Tsarnaeva said he never traveled to her native village in a mountainous region of Dagestan, which is a hotbed of an ultraconservative strain of Islam known as Wahabbism. Wahabbism was introduced to the Caucasus in the 1990s by preachers and teachers from Saudi Arabia.
Pundits and politicians from both sides of the political claim that it is unfair and unwise to paint all of Islam with the same broad brush of fomenting terrorism. Whether that is true or not, there is one branch or sect within Islam that clearly is tied to terrorism against the United States and that is Wahabbism--the ideology that underlies Al Qaeda and the Taliban and other terrorist groups. It is tied to extremism throughout Europe. It is the religious sect behind the 9/11 terrorists. Although rooted in Saudi Arabia, it is a weed that has spread to wherever the Saudis have spread their money.

Finally, the Fox News article also indicates that the bombers obtained at least some of their materials from purchasing commercial fireworks. Remember this when the politicians start trying to use the bombings as yet another excuse for gun control.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boy Scouts and the Cultural War

This past week saw news that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will recommend to its National Council to accept openly homosexual boys into the Boy Scouts, but still exclude homosexual leaders. I personally think that taking such a stance will do far more harm to the Boy Scouts than maintaining their standards.

I've written about this issue before, so I'm not going to go over my objections in detail. However, it boils down to two issues. First, the same reasons for not having girls in camp outs with boys applies to mixing heterosexual and homosexual boys. Second, I am somewhat confused as to how a boy of the age to be in the Boy Scouts can know that he is homosexual absent being sexually active: at the lower end, the boys are only 11 years old, when they still think of girls as "icky"; and at the upper end of the age brackets, boys are still trying to figure out their identity. And if a boy scout is sexually active, he probably shouldn't be participating in scouting activities; and he is also either a victim or perpetrator of molestation or other sex crime.

On a related note, here is another article (this one being from the Economist) suggesting that acceptance of "gay marriage" must necessarily lead to acceptance of polygamy.

So there's one aspect of the pro-gay-marriage brief that deserves a mental asterisk. A second argument that has always been a bit weak has been the attempt to minimise the extent to which allowing same-sex marriages will change the definition of marriage for straight married couples. When conservatives have argued that gay marriage would "devalue traditional marriage", the response has often been to ridicule the idea that straight people's marriages will change at all. ("OMG! Marriage is now worthless!") This isn't a serious response. Obviously the legalisation of same-sex marriage represents a major change in the institution and in the meaning of the word, much as the meaning of phrases like "all men are created equal" changed significantly when they began to be understood to include, say, women. For people who have a strongly gendered understanding of their own marriage, this is a paradigm shift. The government is now saying it understands marriage as a long-term legal commitment between two people who are assumed to have a sexually attached relationship to each other. Gender is irrelevant; marriage is simply a paired relationship. It's a big deal when social institutions change this way, and if conservative heterosexuals feel their marriages are affected, they're right, even when the way they phrase their complaints is wrong.

Which brings us to moderately off-the-mark argument number three. One of the assumptions that gay marriage calls into question, for many conservatives, is: why pairs, then? If not man-woman, then why not man-woman-woman, and so forth? Again, the response of gay-marriage proponents is generally ridicule. I don't think this is a ridiculous question. "Why can't you marry your dog, then?" is a ridiculous question; marriage, in our society, is between consenting adult persons. (Though states where girls can marry below the age of legal adulthood violate this premise, and show the traces of a premodern understanding of marriage as a reproductive contract between extended families that few Americans would say they support today.) But "why only two?" isn't a ridiculous question. It's easy enough to show that gay marriage does not empirically lead to pressure to legalise polygamy; that hasn't happened anywhere that gay marriage is legal. But this is different from explaining why opening up the boundaries of the 20th-century understanding of marriage shouldn't raise the possibility of legalising polygamy. Why shouldn't it be legal for more than two consenting adults to marry each other?

There are, obviously, a whole lot of societies in the world where polygamy is legal and normal. In fact the anthropological record suggests that the overwhelming majority of human societies have allowed men to have more than one wife simultaneously. I don't want to be taken to be making a creepy dirty-old-man argument in favour of polygamy. But the reflexive belief that polygamous marriages must be evil and oppressive even in societies where they are traditional is basically an expression of cultural prejudice. I would never want to be in a polygamous marriage myself, because I've grown up in the West and it seems freaky and inegalitarian to me; but for people who grew up in Yemen, or in Swaziland, or in Vietnam before the 1950s, that is not necessarily the case. Women in polygamous societies may decide to become a rich man's second wife rather than a poor man's only wife, and do not necessarily feel oppressed by that choice. Their children usually turn out well-adjusted. To take the typical paradigm-upender, if you imagine a Sudanese man with two wives (and children by each of them) who wins the Green Card lottery and is told he has to divorce one of his wives before coming to America, you have to wonder whose interests the government thinks it is defending.

Comet ISON Could Dump Dust On Earth

Earth will be passing through the tail of the comet, should it survive it pass-by of the Sun. NBC News reports, however:

The particles are so small that even though they will hit the atmosphere at about 125,000 mph, instead of burning up, triggering so-called “shooting stars,” they will be stopped entirely, predicts astronomer Paul Wiegert, with the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

The only visible and detectable sign of the comet dust might be a proliferation of bright blue clouds at the edge of space. Scientists suspect these so-called noctilucent, or “night-shining” clouds are be seeded by dust in the upper atmosphere.

Eventually, the trapped comet dust will make its way -- silently and invisibly -- to the planet’s surface.

Ancient Europeans Mysteriously Vanished 4,500 Years Ago

From NBC News:

... Cooper and his colleagues analyzed mitochondrial DNA, which resides in the cells' energy-making structures and is passed on through the maternal line, from 37 skeletal remains from Germany and two from Italy; the skeletons belonged to humans who lived in several different cultures that flourished between 7,500 and 2,500 years ago. The team looked at DNA specifically from a certain genetic group, called haplogroup h, which is found widely throughout Europe but is less common in East and Central Asia.

The researchers found that the earliest farmers in Germany were closely related to Near Eastern and Anatolian people, suggesting that the agricultural revolution did indeed bring migrations of people into Europe who replaced early hunter-gatherers
[about 7,500 years ago].

But that initial influx isn't a major part of Europe's genetic heritage today.

Instead, about 5,000 to 4,000 years ago, the genetic profile changes radically, suggesting that some mysterious event led to a huge turnover in the population that made up Europe.

The Bell Beaker culture, which emerged from the Iberian Peninsula around 2800 B.C., may have played a role in this genetic turnover. The culture, which may have been responsible for erecting some of the megaliths at Stonehenge, is named for its distinctive bell-shaped ceramics and its rich grave goods. The culture also played a role in the expansion of Celtic languages along the coast.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Civil Liberty and the Boston Manhunt

A startling home-made video now shows the terrifying moments where Watertown residents were forced out of their homes at gunpoint as SWAT teams performed door-to-door searches as they hunted the second marathon bomber.

While millions of Bostonians waited in their houses on Friday during the city-wide lockdown, the people of Watertown were faced with SWAT officers yelling at them to get out of the buildings immediately.
At the time, the Boston police department and federal agents were barely criticized, but now many are concerned about the dangerous precedent that could lead to more police searches using the rationale of ‘exigent circumstances’ as an excuse.
The video, shot by an unidentified Watertown resident, shows a team of SWAT officers wielding semi-automatic guns bang on his neighbor’s front door and scream for them to get out of the house’.
The residents are whisked away- hands in the air, one by one- to a nearby group of officers as the SWAT team searches the house for the second shooter, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Early reports, made by journalists who were kept out of Watertown by a police barricade, said that the searches were voluntary.
Now, the video published on right-wing conservative news blog InfoWars, asserts that the searches were involuntary, as all residents were forced out of their homes whether they liked it or not.
How "voluntary" is it when you have police officers pointing assault rifles (i.e., weapons of war that have no place on our streets) at you?

Facial Recognition Software Failed In Boston Manhunt

Ars Technica mentions:
While the whole country is relieved that this past week’s Boston Marathon bombing ordeal and subsequent lockdown of the city is finally over, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis told theWashington Post that the department’s facial recognition system “did not identify” the two bombing suspects.
“The technology came up empty even though both Tsarnaevs’ images exist in official databases: Dzhokhar had a Massachusetts driver’s license; the brothers had legally immigrated; and Tamerlan had been the subject of some FBI investigation,” the Post reported on Saturday. 
Facial recognition systems can have limited utility when a grainy, low-resolution image captured at a distance from a cellphone camera or surveillance video is compared with a known, high-quality image. Meanwhile, the FBI is expected to release a large-scale facial recognition apparatus “next year for members of the Western Identification Network, a consortium of police agencies in California and eight other Western states,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Time For Common Sense Abortion Control

Over the past few weeks those who read or listened to anything except the liberal media have caught story after story of new horrors perpetrated by Kermit Gosnell in his so-called abortion clinic, including, according to recent testimony, drowning at least one baby in a toilet. We've also learned that, like other serial killers, Gosnell liked to keep trophies of his kills.

In contrast to the uncomfortable silence from the MSM about Gosnell, we had practically wall-to-wall coverage in favor of gun control.

The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right under the Second Amendment. It is expressly set out in the Constitution. Abortion, on the other hand, is derived from an implied Constitutional right  to privacy. Even the court in Roe v. Wade acknowledged that "[t]he Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy." Id., 410 U.S. 113, 152 (1973). "This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." Id. at 153.

Yet, for some reason, abortion--twice removed from any actual text of the Constitution--is granted far more protection than the express right to keep and bear arms. However, why shouldn't they be treated similarly? To borrow the favorite argument of the left, "if its saves just one child," as any restriction on abortion would inevitably do, "it is worth it."

Here is my proposal, in no particular order, based on the current regulatory environment for firearms:

1.  All abortion providers must be licensed by the Federal government after an extensive background check, including fingerprinting, pay an annual fee, and be subject to inspections. Even minor violations of paper-work requirements (such as transposing numbers) can result in suspension or revocation of an abortion provider license.

2.  Abortion clinics may not be located within 1000 feet of a school.

3.  States may impose additional restrictions on the licensing, operation, and location of abortion providers.

4.  A special Federal agency will be created whose primary purpose is to monitor abortions and abortion clinics.

5.  In order to obtain an abortion, a person must present a valid government issued photo-id, such as a driver's license, and fill out a lengthy questionnaire on their medical history.

6.  Such person wishing an abortion must also undergo a background check.

7.  States may impose additional restrictions, such as waiting ("cooling-off") periods or requirement to obtain state approval to obtain an abortion. There is no requirement that States issue an abortion permit just because a person wants one--it would be perfectly legal for a State to deny an abortion permit because the person could not show sufficient need or justification.

8.  You must be 21 years of age and an American citizen or permanent resident in order to obtain an abortion.

9.   Provision of an abortion without a license, or attempting to illegally obtain an abortion, will be a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

10.  Abortion providers are required to report "suspicious" abortion applications to law enforcement.

11.  States may limit the number of abortions a person may undergo or receive, or the frequency. 

12.  The person paying for the abortion must be the one receiving it--no third parties (including insurance) may pay for an abortion for another person.

13.  A person may not cross state lines to obtain an abortion in a different state, or travel to another country to obtain an abortion without special government permission and purchase of special Federal tax stamps.

Any other similar restrictions you can think of?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Only A Journalist Could Come Up With This

I saw several headlines the last few days expressing amazement that the fertilizer plant in Texas was storing the same chemical as used in the Oklahoma City bombing. Who, but a journalist, would think it amazing that a fertilizer plant would store fertilizer?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston and the Future

Now that the two men that planted the bombs have been caught, it is time to consider the further implications of the bomb attack. It is clear that, whether or not the bombers were part of a larger conspiracy or group, they were inspired by the ideology of Islamic supremacy. Of course, Obama has indicated that we should not jump to conclusions about their motivation, but this is coming from the same person and Administration that still cannot bring itself to admit that the motivation for the Ft. Hood shooter (even though he yelled "Allah Akbar") was Islam. (Conversely, if the FBI were to discover that one of the brothers had read "The Turner Diaries" ten years ago, that would be enough for them to be branded "right-wing" extremists).

However, John Hinderaker notes at the Powerline Blog that whether they were part of a terrorist organization or acting on their own is largely irrelevant:

... The important point is not that the Tsarnaevs acted on their own, but rather that they could have. There is nothing about the murders they carried out that was beyond the capacities of two bright (as they were) and committed young men. 
That being the case, it is depressing to contemplate the success that the brothers’ terrorist act achieved. They killed three people and wounded nearly 200. The death toll was kept remarkably low by the fact that the finish line of a marathon is swarming with doctors, nurses, policemen and ambulances, and by the presence nearby of several excellent hospitals; still, the destruction must have been satisfying, from their perspective. Moreover, their homemade explosives succeeded in virtually shutting down a major American city for the better part of a week, and diverting an astonishing volume of law enforcement resources at enormous cost. 
That being the case, it is reasonable to ask whether the question of their association with a larger terrorist group, while entirely appropriate, is nevertheless overrated. It strikes me that the main lesson we should take away from the Boston Marathon massacre is the destructive potential of jihadist ideology in itself, apart from its manifestation in relatively large and well-organized groups like, most notably, al Qaeda. Doesn’t the fact that two guys like the Tsarnaev brothers can cause such destruction, and paralyze an entire metropolitan area, regardless of whether they had any direct association with al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations, call into question the adequacy of a drones-over-Afghanistan strategy? And shouldn’t we at least consider, in the midst of a wide-ranging debate over immigration policy, whether more realistic immigration measures should be taken to limit the risk posed by home grown (or, as in this case, transplanted) terrorists?
Hinderaker's last question is important as the backers of "immigration reform" try to rush a bill through Congress before anyone has had a chance to review it. Over at the National Review, John O'Sullivan raises an important issue--the failure of assimilation:
The first point that strikes me is that these young men should have had every reason to be happy in the United States and grateful to the country for its giving them sanctuary. Their uncle seems to have developed just such a loyalty. In addition, the young men were apparently well-integrated into American life locally. They had been to good schools, taken part in voluntary activities, and were regarded by Americans who knew them as bright kids and potentially productive citizens.

... In that case 
[the 2005 London subway bombings] — and I suspect we shall find also in the case of the marathon bombers — the explanation was (or included the fact) that they had been assimilated into a nullity. For almost the entire youth of the 7/7 bombers, the British had acted as if they were ashamed of their national identity and history. So young men, with the usual propensity of young men to want to identify with patriotic and idealistic causes, had been told that there was nothing admirable or heroic about being British. It was a sort of swindle, and one, moreover, that had been perpretated especially upon people of their ethnic backgrounds. They had therefore looked around for a heroic cause they could identify with. The radical Islamists provided them with the cause of radical Islamism — and they embarked on the relatively short road to mass murder.
When that happened, several British commentators argued that this wouldn’t happen in America because America, with its public and private ceremonies of Americanization, had solved the conundrum of how to turn immigrants into loyal and patriotic Americans.
Alas, I had to tell them sadly that they were a generation behind the times. America now bore all the marks of a society that had been subjected to sevral decades of relentless indoctrination in the dogmas of multiculturalism and bilingualism. And the results are now in.
Ten days ago the Hudson Institute published an important paper, “America’s Patriotic Immigrations System is Broken,” by John Fonte and Althea Nagai, which drew on a massive new Harris Interactive survey of native-born Americans and immigrants (which Fonte discussed on the Corner).
This study shows beyond any doubt that, as John Fonte puts it, the patriotic attachment of naturalized citizens is much weaker than that of the native-born. For example, by 30 percentage points (67.3 percent to 37 percent) native-born citizens are more likely to believe that the U.S. Constitution should be a higher legal authority than international law if there is a conflict between the two. But that is only one example — the strength of Fonte-Nagai paper is the cumulative evidence that a relatively weak love of country persists across a large range of issues. But read the study for yourself.
Into this moral and patriotic vacuum seeps what Orwell called “transferred nationalism.” In his day this was usually some variety of Marxism; today it often often a variation on radical Islam. But it is adopted and sparks violent thoughts in the minds of young men whom official America has shielded from the old Americanization.
Getting patriotic assimilation right is as vital — perhaps more vital — than getting border security right. It is an essential part of any comprehensive immigration reform worth the name. To propose opening the country to millions of new immigrants until we have solved this problem is simply to invite more violence from more young men whom we have disoriented and left victim to the worse impulses.

...The fact that Senator Schumer has declared ex cathedra that the Boston bombings have no significance for the immigration bill before Congres 
[sic] merely shows that folly has no natural internal limit.
I'm also concerned with the police response, which seemed over-the-top, yet largely ineffective. An entire city put on "lock down" to track down two men. And unsuccessfully. The first clue as to the brother's location came only after their photos were finally released to the public (apparently panicking them into action). The second brother was located only after the "lock down" was lifted, and a citizen called in a tip. The success of the two will surely breed copycats. Will these also result in shutting down cities and ordering 24-hour curfews?

Friday, April 19, 2013

America's Fifth Column

Just an incredible amount of sickness being displayed by the liberal media. The New York Times attempted to solicit sympathy for the two terrorists by claiming, in a headline, that the two were "far from war-torn homeland, trying to fit in." So killing people is just trying to "fit in"?

For other examples, on MSNBC, Jessica Stern was adamant that the bombing had to be the work of anti-government right-wing extremists. Newsbusters noted that CNN's Amanpour hoped beyond hope that the terrorist was not Middle-Eastern. David Sarota, writing at Slate, expressed his hope that the bomber(s) were white Americans. Michael Moore was obsessed with the attack having occurred on "tax day" and "patriots day," and was sure it was the result of a right-wing group.Gov. Cuomo of New York blamed the bombings on global warming. Overall the media--even after evidence of the two bombers fascination and links to Islamic ideology came to light--kept stating that we could not jump to conclusions about the two men's motivation. These people are the enemies of the United States, trying to distract us from the real issues that we have in certain Islamic beliefs and sects, implacable enemies of the United States and our way of life. (See also here, reviewing the morally bankrupt media types; and 

Kevin Cullen, a columnist for the Boston Globe hits back:
I was on an NPR show this morning, talking as I drove back from Cambridge to write this column, and a caller came on the air and started talking about how we’ve got to look in the mirror and ask what we as Americans have done to create angry young men like this.
I almost drove off the road.
No one who lost their life or their limbs on Boylston Street last Monday did anything to create angry young men like this. And I know that 8-year-old Martin Richard, a beautiful little boy from Dorchester who was killed by a bomb the authorities say the Tsarnaev brothers prepared and left near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, never hurt a soul. He was a kind little boy who was unfailingly nice to his classmate, the daughter of the Boston firefighter who knelt over his body.
Sean Collier, the 26-year-old MIT police officer who was shot to death Thursday night, was a wonderful young man. He worked as a civilian for the Somerville Police Department, but desperately wanted to be a cop. He was thrilled when he got the call to join the MIT force last year, and he was willing to put his life on the line for all of us, as he did late Thursday night when he responded to a call in Kendall Square and was, the police say, executed by the Tsarnaev brothers before he could even get out of his cruiser.
I am willing to bet my life on the certainty that Sean Collier would have laid down his life for anybody, including immigrants from Kyrgyzstan or Chechnya. In the end, he did lay down his life, trying to protect others.
I don’t want to listen to how innocent people bear some responsibility for creating the twisted minds of the Tsarnaev brothers, who emerged from the break up of a totalitarian form of government that collapsed under the weight of ordinary people wanting freedom.
The Tsarnaev brothers are responsible for twisting a great religion to foment hatred. They don’t speak for Muslims any more than I speak for overweight Irish-American guys who like to play hockey. It would be a horrific insult to their victims, and to the unimaginably brave first responders who ran toward the bombs last Monday, if there is a backlash against Muslims.
But, please, spare me the guilt.
 Read the whole thing.

Roger L. Simon chips in with a piece discussing that the real issue is radical Islam:
Today Sirota seems like an imbecile (well, he did before), but I would venture to say he doesn’t know why. So I will spell it out for him: the War on Terror (euphemism alert) is not about skin color. It is about ideology, Islamic ideology.
The Tsarnaevs are white people in the purest sense. They are Caucasians from the Caucasus, of all things, but they believe in Allah — do or die, apparently.
Too young for the civil rights movement, Sirota is an adherent of an ultra-bourgeois nostalgia for racism that hides under the ludicrous rubric “progressive.” It’s laughable, but it’s also sad and dangerous.
It avoids a confrontation with the great issue of our time — what to do about Islam, an all-consuming ideology that seeks to engulf the world. The Sirotas of our culture want to downplay that but the reality remains.
Sloughing this off on “white skin privilege” is particularly worrisome, even venal, because many will believe it. As one who was heavily active in the days that term was invented (’60s) and helped promulgate it in my writing and speechmaking, I can attest to how dangerous it is. Its intention was never really to cure racism, but to perpetuate it, to increase racial enmity by pointing the finger at people who were, if anything, only culpable in the most remote sense.
Sirota and his ilk are contemporary dupes of our 1960’s lie. We all pay the price for it.
Now the focus will shift to that other dubious term, Islamophobia. We should beware of being Islamophobic.
What does that mean? We should ignore that people around the world are killing each other and innocent others in the name of one version or other of Islam? The numbers doing that are staggering.
And why is this a phobia? A phobia implies that it is not happening. It is.
A hopeful sign has been the reaction of the Tsarnaev’s uncle, who is appalled by the actions of his nephews and is calling for Dzhokar to turn himself in.
We need more of this, much more. Organizations like CAIR, that spend so much time looking for prejudice and so-called Islamophobia, should look instead to reform the views of their own people. They could start with the rights of women and homosexuals and then move on to revising the whole idea of jihad and the way Islamic cultures treat other religions and peoples.
The Islamic people of the world need a reformation in the most extraordinary way. Ignoring that, as do the Sirotas of our culture, will not help it happen.

What Will Be The Spin On The Boston Bombing?

Well, the liberal media must be crushed to learn that two "suspects" (the "suspects" at one point bragged to a carjacking victim that they were the bombers) in the Boston Bombing turned out to be Chechen Muslims rather than "right wing" extremists as they have very publicly hoped. (Details on the events leading to the death of one of the suspects are in this Washington Post article).

The suspects were identified by law enforcement officials and family members as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechen brothers from Dagestan, which neighbors Chechnya in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, an uncle said.
Obviously, we do not know--and may never know--whether the two were associated with a particular terrorist or insurgent group. However, the AP story cited above goes on to explain:
Chechnya is the home of an Islamic insurgency that has carried out deadly bombings in Russia and the region, but its militants have never been known to export violence to the West.
In the past, insurgents from Chechnya and neighboring restive provinces in the Caucasus have been involved in terror attacks in Moscow and other places in Russia.

Those raids included one in Moscow in 2002 in which a group of Chechen militants took 800 people hostage and held them for two days before special forces stormed the building, killing all 41 captors. Also killed were 129 hostages, mostly from the effects of the gas Russian forces used to subdue the attackers.

Chechen insurgents also launched a 2004 hostage-taking raid in the southern Russian town of Beslan, where they took hundreds of hostages. The siege ended in a bloodbath two days later, with more than 330 people, about half of them children, killed.

Insurgents from Chechnya and other regions also have launched a long series of bombings in Moscow and other cities in Russia.
The Washington Post reports:
The brothers’ alleged motive in Monday’s bombings remains unclear, but in the last several months, Tamerlan Tsarnaev had posted videos to YouTube indicating his interest in radical Muslim ideologies.

The family appears to be originally from the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, and two law enforcement officials said there is a “Chechen connection” to the bombings. Chechnya has been racked by years of war between local separatists and Russian forces and extensive organized crime since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

The extent of the possible connection remained unclear, and some reports indicated the family had also lived in Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia.

According to a database search, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a boxer who worked out at a martial arts facility in the Cambridge area.

On a YouTube channel, Tamerlan created a video file called “Terrorists,” where he posted footage that has since been removed from view. He also shared other videos of lectures from a radical Islamic cleric. In one video, Arab voices can be heard singing as bombs explode from high-rise buildings.

The caption below says: “Then Allah will rise an army from the non-Arabs, who will be greater riders and will have better weapons than the Arabs … but their weapon will be the weapon of faith.”
 It goes on to note:

The Chechen conflict dates to the early 1990s. In the summer of 1999, fighters in the predominantly Muslim republic rose up in an attempt to throw off Russian domination. Vladimir Putin, then the Russian prime minister, responded quickly, firmly and brutally to put down the rebellion.

Later that summer, there were several explosions across Russia and Putin blamed Chechens. Putin sent the army back by force, which resulted in Western criticism of Russian tactics and human rights violations.

In the most dramatic episode, about 40 armed Chechen separatists took more than 900 hostages at a Moscow theater. After a two-day siege, Russian special police pumped a chemical agent into the theater’s ventilation system and raided the building. About 130 hostages died, and all of the Chechens were killed.

Though the war has officially ended, the Russians have maintained a tight grip on Chechnya, backing a strongman friendly to Moscow. Efforts have also been underway in recent years to rebuild the shattered capital of Grozny.

Still, sporadic violence and kidnapping have continued in Chechnya, and separatists retain a following. The years of fighting, crime and economic difficulties led tens of thousands of Chechens to leave their homes for other former Soviet republics.

Aslan Doukaev, an expert on the Caucasus who works for Radio Liberty in Prague, pointed out in a telephone interview that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born the year the first Chechen war started, in 1994.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the war in Chechnya — which is not over — absolutely affected their worldview,” he said. He added that if the brothers were indeed the bombers, “I’m slightly baffled why they decided to attack Americans on American soil. Chechens have no grievances against Americans.”

One possible explanation, he said, is that they were motivated more by radical jihadism than Chechen separatism. It would be difficult to miss that influence in Dagestan, where they lived and where their father still lives.

“The epicenter these days is Dagestan. The jihadist movement in Dagestan is pretty strong,’’ Doukaev said.
 The Daily Caller reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev self-described as being a very religious Muslim. The Weekly Standard also has discovered:
BuzzFeed has linked to the YouTube page of Tamerlan Tasarnaev – the older brother in the pair suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon earlier this week. A video he linked to on his page is titled, “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags From Khorasan.”
The video deals with a key part of jihadist mythology: That one of the most significant battles fought against the “infidels” will take place in the Khorasan, a geographic area that includes parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

As my colleague Bill Roggio has explained, “The Khorasan is considered by jihadis to be the place where they will inflict the first defeat against their enemies in the Muslim version of Armageddon. The final battle is to take place in the Levant - Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. Mentions of the Khorasan have begun to increase in al Qaeda's propaganda.”

This, of course, does not make the brothers al Qaeda operatives. It does increase the likelihood that Tamerlan Tasarnaev, if this is indeed his YouTube page, was at least sympathetic to the same underlying ideology.
 I am interested in seeing how the liberals spin this.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Evidence of Dark Matter?

Researchers identified signals which could have been caused dark matter particles known as “wimps”, or weakly interacting massive particles, colliding with normal matter.
Although the results are uncertain, further experiments could establish whether dark matter, which makes up a quarter of our universe and holds galaxies together, has indeed been glimpsed for the first time. 
Attempts to pin down dark matter have proven tricky because although it is all around us, it does not directly interact with visible matter except in rare circumstances. 
But deep underground at the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search in Minnesota, researchers have been attempting to detect instances of dark matter particles clashing with the nuclei of atoms.
Full story here.

"Hobbits" Had Brains the Size of an Orange

... and may have been a dwarf version of Homo erectus, according to this article at the Daily Mail.
Dr Yousuke Kaifu, of the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, said: 'The new model shows that, contrary to expectations by some researchers, it is possible that large bodied Javanese Homo erectus migrated to the solitary island and evolved into Homo floresiensis by marked island dwarfism.' 
He added: 'Evolution of the genus Homo is characterised by increases in brain and body sizes, but Homo floresiensis suggests these human' characters can be substantially flexible.

'These may have evolved to the opposite direction in some specal circumstances.'
The brain was the tiniest of any member of the genus Homo, small even for a chimpanzee.

But despite giant lizards and storks inhabiting the island, there were no maneaters which may have meant the tiny creatures did not need a large brain for survival.
Otherwise, Homo floresiensis may have experienced 'neurological reorganisation' where brain functions are largely maintained in spite of its overall size change, said Dr Kaifu.

Whether You Like Him Or Not, He's Right

From NBC News:

Drawing parallels with Western support for anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980s, some of whom later formed the al Qaeda organization which attacked the United States in September 2011, Assad said Washington and Europe would regret supporting rebels in Syria.
"The West paid heavily for funding al Qaeda in its early stages in Afghanistan. Today it is supporting it in Syria, Libya and other places, and will pay a heavy price later in the heart of Europe and the United States," he told al-Ikhbariya channel.
"The truth is, what is happening is that we are mainly facing extremist forces," Assad added.
He was speaking a week after Syria's rebel al-Nusra Front, one of the most effective rebel forces battling his troops, formally pledged allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

The War On Men Is A War On The Family

Robert Samuelson writes at the Washington Post:

The discouraging March employment report, with a job increase of only 88,000, raises questions well beyond the dreary state of today’s labor market. Prolonged high unemployment may be silently shredding the social fabric in ways that last for decades. Even before the Great Recession, men with a high school diploma or less faced lower wages and a harder time finding work. This made them less attractive as husbands, contributing to the growth of single-parent families. Stubbornly high unemployment almost certainly aggravates these destructive trends.

It’s hard to overstate the breakdown of marriage and the rise of single-parent families. Consider out-of-wedlock births. In 1980, about 18 percent of births were to unmarried women; by 2009, the proportion was 41 percent. Among whites, the increase was from 11 percent to 36 percent; among African Americans, from 56 percent to 72 percent; among Hispanics, from 37 percent (1990) to 53 percent. Or look at the share of children living with two parents. Since 1970, that’s dropped from 82 percent to 63 percent. Among whites, the decline is from 87 percent to 73 percent; among African Americans, from 57 percent to 31 percent; among Hispanics, from 78 percent to 57 percent.

Samuelson suggests that a large part of the reason is the declining economic fortunes of men:

From 1979 to 2010, inflation-adjusted hourly wages for men age 25 to 39 with only a high school diploma fell 20 percent, while the wages of similar women rose 1 percent. Among those with some college (but no bachelor’s degree), women’s wages were up 8 percent; men’s were down 8 percent. As important, fewer men and more women proportionally have jobs. From 1979 to 2007 — prior to the recession — the share of male high school graduates with jobs fell 9 percentage points; job-holding by similar women rose 9 percentage points. For those with some college, men were down 6 percentage points, women up by 12 percentage points.

Women have adjusted better than men to an economy with more office work and less factory, construction and transportation activity. Autor and Wasserman fear these changes are now feeding on themselves. On average, children in single-parent homes do worse — have lower grades, do more drugs, have higher arrest rates — than similar children raised by two parents, who can devote more money and time to their offspring. Boys seem especially at risk because they often lack “a positive or stable same-sex role model,” say Autor and Wasserman. So boys will do less well in school and less well (later) in the labor market. They will then be less appealing as husbands.

“Over the last half-century,” writes Murray, “marriage has become the fault line dividing American classes.” Autor and Wasserman reach the same conclusion: Their data show a tight correlation between the falling earnings of poorly educated men and declining marriage rates.

Today’s dismal labor market may now further aggravate family meltdown. It’s harder for men to get jobs or higher wages.
 Walter Russell Mead, commenting on Samuelson's article, notes:

If the gender roles were reversed here and a generation of women has suffered huge setbacks, we would have a great hue and cry with blue-ribbon panels, academic roundtables, and a lot of national soul-searching. But men’s problems don’t seem to interest anyone much, not even men.
I would suggest that there are several reasons for the lack of interest, from it not being politically correct to worry about men, to the fact that the media, political, and intellectual elites are so wrapped up in their bubble that they don't care about a problem that, up until recently, was a poor, minority problem. And Black leaders long ago forsook their fellow African-Americans.

Bombing Suspect Arrested (Updated)

A suspect has been arrested according to CNN. Liberals have been hoping it is a right wing white male. However, the suspect is being described as a dark skinned male.

Update:  No suspect has been arrested. The Associated Press reports:

A law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity confirmed only that investigators had an image of a potential suspect whose name was not known to them and who had not been questioned.
Several media outlets reported that a suspect had been identified from surveillance video taken at a Lord & Taylor department store between the sites of the bomb blasts.
The turn of events came with Boston in a state of high excitement over conflicting reports of a breakthrough.
A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told the AP around midday that a suspect was in custody. The official, who was not authorized to divulge details of the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the suspect was expected in federal court. But the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Boston said no arrests had been made.
By nightfall, there was no evidence anyone was in custody. No one was taken to court. The law enforcement official, who had affirmed there was a suspect in custody even after federal officials denied it, was unable to obtain any further information or explanation.
Of course, "no arrests" may just mean that the CIA gets first crack ....

Did Bomber Use RC Components?

NBC News has photographs of pieces of the bomb from the crime scene in Boston. The battery casing indicates it was made by Tenergy, while there is the name of a Chinese company on the wiring.Tenergy batteries are used in RC cars.