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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Record Antarctic Sea Ice

More evidence of global cooling. From Newsmax:
The sea ice coverage around Antarctica over the weekend marked a record high, with the ice surrounding the continent measuring at 2.07 million square kilometers, according to an environmentalist and author who says the ice there has actually been increasing since 1979 despite continued warnings of global warming. 
The new record was posted for the first time by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s online record, The Cryosphere Today, early Sunday morning. 
It's not apparent if the record actually occurred on Friday or Saturday, says Harold Ambler on his blog, Talking About the Weather.
Ambler is a journalist and author of the book "Don't Sell Your Coat: Surprising Truths About Climate Change."
"The previous record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice area was 1.840 million square kilometers and occurred on December 20, 2007," said Ambler. Meanwhile, he pointed out, global sea ice area on Sunday was standing at 0.991 million square kilometers above average, a figure he arrived at by adding anomalies for the North and South hemispheres.
 
While early models predicted the sea ice would decrease because of global warming, other models are showing that the opposite is happening around Antarctica, where sea ice growth is increasing. 
. . . In addition, Ambler said, the South Pole's temperature has been dropping over the past 40 years.

ISIS Declares New Caliphate

File:ShababFlag.svg
(Source)

Wow. That was fast. It was only on June 17 that I said that I thought the new Caliphate would become reality, and here we are. From CBS News:
The al Qaeda breakaway group that has seized much of northern Syria and huge tracks of neighboring Iraq formally declared the creation of an Islamic state on Sunday in the territory under its control. 
The spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, made the announcement in an audio statement posted online. Islamic extremists have long dreamed of recreating the Islamic state, or caliphate, that ruled over the Middle East for hundreds of years. 
Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said the group's chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is the new leader, or caliph, of the Islamic state. He called on those living in the areas under the organization's control to swear allegiance to al-Baghdadi and support him. 
"The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the caliph's authority and the arrival of its troops to their areas," al-Adnani said.
USA Today reports:
An al-Qaeda breakaway group that seized large swaths of Iraq in recent weeks declared Sunday the creation of a new religious state in Iraq and Syria, as it continued to repel government forces in Tikrit, the hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein. 
The militant group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant announced it will now be known as The Islamic State. 
A spokesman for the new entity, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, said the group's chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains its leader, and called on residents in areas under its control to swear allegiance to al-Baghdadi and support him. 
The announcement could force other jihadist groups to either join or fight the group, which lays claim to billions of dollars in assets, scores of communities and operations that extend into Turkey and Lebanon, said Charles Lister, an analyst at the Brookings Doha Center, a think tank. 
"The Islamic State's announcement made it clear that it would perceive any group that failed to pledge allegiance an enemy of Islam," Lister said. "Already, this new Islamic State has received statements of support and opposition from jihadist factions in Syria." 
The group, which was disowned this year by al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri, has developed an elaborate bureaucracy and an efficient model of governance, providing modern social services together with medieval justice. And it has supporters in Jordan, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, Lister said. 
"This could well be the birth of a totally new era of transnational jihadism," he said.
See also this article at RT. Meanwhile, the Iraqi military has failed in its attempt to retake Tikrit, and withdrawn its troops. However, Russia has delivered new fighter jets to Iraq, which Iraq hopes to use against ISIS.(More evidence of the collapse of U.S. influence in the region).

Last September, I linked to a Wall Street Journal article discussing ISIS's goal to create a new Caliphate.

The declaration of a new Caliphate is significant in Islamic eschatology. That is why Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are so frightened of this announcement. Joel Richardson notes in his book, AntiChrist--Islam's Awaited Messiah that the Mahdi (a messianic figure in Islam) will lead a Caliphate, and lead an army waving black flags, to attack all non-believers, including Israel. According to Islamic tradition, this army will originate from the direction of Khorasan (Iran). The appearance of this army is supposed to signal the imminent appearance of the Mahdi. By declaring a new Caliphate, ISIS has potentially seized the moral high ground (from a Muslim perspective).

The Gulf royalty and the financial elite that have been backing radical Islam should be afraid. They have empowered a beast that may turn on them and destroy them. See Chapter 17 of Revelations.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Obama Carrying Out Plan Written for Him

The Gates of Vienna has posted a video made in 2009, where Russian historian Andrey Fursov comments on Obama and what to expect from his presidency. The video is subtitled in English and there is a transcript accompanying it. Fursov notes that Obama is very much a president elected by the financial elites, intended to help those elites recover from the financial crises. He predicts (remember, this was 2009) that the Obama administration would seek closer ties with radical Islam, and that there would be serious problems between the U.S. and Russia after 4 or 8 years. Watch it (or read the transcript).

The Border Crises

A couple stories I saw on Drudge that were notable to me:

First, as many of you probably have heard, a Mexican military helicopter recently crossed into the U.S. and open fire on Border Patrol agents. However, this recent report indicates that the Mexican government is now denying that any shots were fired or that the helicopter crossed the border.
Border Patrol agents in Arizona were reportedly fired upon by a Mexican military helicopter that traveled across the border. 
Mexican authorities were conducting a drug interdiction operation when the incident happened early Thursday morning on the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. The Mexican chopper fired at the agents and then flew back into Mexico. 
However, Mexican authorities have denied shooting at agents and say they were under attack during a mission to find smugglers on the border. 
Tomás Zerón, the director of the Mexican attorney general’s office investigative office, said that Mexican military and federal police who were conducting an operation on a ranch in Altar, Sonora, were shot at by criminals. Mexican authorities never fired any weapons and in fact never crossed into the U.S. side of the border, he said.
This isn't the first incursion of Mexican military across the border, and it won't be the last.

The second story is from Investors Business Daily:
 But while the political debate has focused on U.S. immigration enforcement, a key economic factor has been lost in the clamor. Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, which are supplying three-quarters of the latest cross-border flood, are bucking a trend in Latin America toward stronger local economies based on sound reforms and security. 
Those three Central American countries are dependent on their diaspora to prop up their own woeful economies. Immigrants send back billions of dollars to their families. 
Remittances have risen to 16.5% of El Salvador's GDP, 15.7% of Honduras' and 10% of Guatemala's, according to World Bank data. Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia rely on remittances for 4.1% to 9.7% of GDP. 
But the figure drops precipitously for every other country in Latin America.
Not mentioned is that the U.S. soaks up a significant portion of the "surplus" population of those countries, reducing social welfare spending and increasing political stability. Yes, illegal immigration is just another form of "international aid."

J.R. Nyquist has some thoughts on the border crises at his blog:
It appears we are witnessing a diversionary operation targetting the U.S. border with Mexico (flooding it with people). Anyone with strategic sense should be alarmed at the way this is progressing. It is an objective fact, like it or not, that somebody has gone to a lot of expense to mess with our border. And now the border patrol has to switch personnel from Arizona to Texas. But the main drug pathways into the U.S. come through Arizona. And as we know all too well, these are the same pathways marked out by Moscow for smuggling WMDs past our security services. So there is reason for concern, especially as Russia has resumed its heightened state of alert, with further troop mobilizations and exercises. At the same time, Iraq is being lost to some kind of terrorist blitzkrieg. It is all very disconcerting, though Washington continues with its usual silliness. While the enemy maneuvers on every front, our leaders in Washington are like blind kittens -- helpless and doomed. They do not know what they are doing, failing to recognize the leathal threat that is building.
 Read the whole thing.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Iraq/Syria Continue to Heat Up

The Telegraph reports that there are 25,000 Indian Muslims willing to go to Iraq to fight to protect Shia holy sites. They had better hurry, though. Breitbart reports:
While Iraqi government officials continue to claim that they are making advances in defeating the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Kurdish forces on the ground report that ISIS has begun to slowly isolate Baghdad, targeting cities in the Sunni north as well as Shi'ite south. 
An extensive McClatchy report quotes several Kurdish military leaders who are significantly concerned that Baghdad could fall to ISIS. At least two critical towns that hold a supply route to Baghdad have been captured, they reported, and ISIS appeared to be traveling south to capture routes on the other side of the capital. 
Jabbar Yawar, the spokesman for the Kurdish peshmerga militia, told McClatchy that ISIS was reportedly six miles from Baghdad at times. “This area controls access to southern Iraq, and it appears as if they might try to push into Baghdad or even south towards the city of Hilla,” he stated. 
ISIS moving south of Baghdad is significant because of strongholds they already possess in Anbar province, to the west, and their initiatives to control the north. They have also been moving ISIS jihadists east to attempt to cut off the remaining roads to the city.
Meanwhile, Turkey is making sure that NATO will defend it.

Turkey raised fears on June 25 over potential spillover from turmoil in neighbouring Iraq, as NATO promised not to hesitate to defend its ally from the widening conflict.    
"I can assure you that NATO allies stand together in solidarity and unity and we are focused on providing effective defence and protection of all our allies including Turkey," NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in talks with foreign ministers of the 28-nation alliance. 


"We will not hesitate to take the necessary steps to ensure such effective defence protection of Turkey," he added, confirming Ankara had raised concerns about Iraq.
 Whether the Administration wants to or not, it may soon become deeply involved in this spreading conflict.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wendy Davis and Her Transgender God

Wendy Davis started off her abortion party with a prayer to: "God, you are our father, and our mother."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Those Damned Rebels

Here is a truth so fundamental that it should be self-evident: When legitimately constituted state authority stands down in the face of armed threats, the very foundation of the republic is in danger. And yet that is exactly what happened at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch this spring: An alleged criminal defeated the cops, because the forces of lawlessness came at them with guns — then Bureau of Land Management officials further surrendered by removing the government markings from their vehicles to prevent violence against them. 
What should be judged a watershed in American history instead became a story about one man’s racist rants. ...
Such actions are the logical conclusion of a movement that has been veritably sweeping the nation for years now. Early Tea Partiers began attending rallies with guns on their hips. “Open carry” advocates make a fetish of just this sort of brandishing of guns in public places, especially where they are most unwanted. The slogan “molon labe” — “come and take them,” the defiant cry allegedly uttered by King Leonidas I when the Persian army ordered the Greeks to surrender their weapons at Thermopylae — is everywhere on the right: molon labe T-shirts, molon labe cloth napkins for your next dinner party, sexy molon labe thongs, molon labe release-catches for your AR-15, available on Etsy.com from “MolonLabeLLC.”
Perlstein then goes on to blame Democrats for the backlash from certain conservatives, suggesting that it could have been avoided if the Democrats had been more forceful about enacting gun control. He states:
So what’s different now? Why is this language so prevalent, and why do so many on the far right seem so eager to act upon it? They haven’t changed. We have. 
By “us,” I mean Democrats — though the kind of Democrats, to be fair, who decide party policy from Washington. Once upon a time, Democratic presidential candidates robustly argued for gun control — that, as the party platform put it in 1980 (the year the NRA made its first ever presidential endorsement, of Ronald Reagan), “handguns simplify and intensify violent crime”; Democrats support “enactment of federal legislation to strengthen the presently inadequate regulations over the manufacture, assembly, distribution, and possession of handguns.” 
Except, he's wrong. The Left hasn't changed--at least not the way he suggests. Democrats didn't back away from gun control--they still want it. Democrat politicians have downplayed the gun control issue however, because the average American has changed. At one time, the public (and the NRA) meekly permitted the passage of the 1968 gun control act. Nary a word was spoken in opposition to the 1987 ban on the manufacture and sale of "new" automatic weapons. Even the 1994 Brady Bill seemed to have popular support. Now, not so much. Even if Republican politicians are not doing so, conservatives are beginning to push back, to adopt some of the tactics used by the Left.

And that is what bothers Perlstein. He's not bothered by the use of force in politics. Perlstein has written approvingly of the Occupy movement. (See, e.g., here, here and here). In fact, if anything, he was critical of the Occupy movement because it did not go far enough. In his Rolling Stone article linked above, he wrote of the need for the Occupy movement to not only occupy public space, but to make specific political demands. In a Crooks-and-Liars post, he wrote:
Change, Occupiers, or die. Scare politicians. Systematically. Do politics—even if it means the messy of forming coalitions with the nasty organizations "that got us into this mess in the first place." Human beings got us into this mess in the first place. And no one is saying we shouldn't be working with them. Or if you are, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
 So, it is not the threat of force or "scaring politicians" that frightens and bothers Perlstein. Rather, it is that conservatives are attempting to "scare politicians." Like a criminal, Perlstein doesn't want the Left's victims to fight back.

Recession Ahead

The final figures for the first quarter GDP are in, and it shows that the economy shrunk more than previously calculated (par for the course with the current regime, which always releases fake numbers first). From CNBC:
The U.S. economy contracted at a much steeper pace than previously estimated in the first quarter, but there are indications that growth has since rebounded strongly.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday gross domestic product fell at a 2.9 percent annual rate, the economy's worst performance in five years, instead of the 1.0 percent pace it had reported last month.

While the economy's woes have been largely blamed on an unusually cold winter, the magnitude of the revisions suggest other factors at play beyond the weather. Growth has now been revised down by a total of 3.0 percentage points since the government's first estimate was published in April, which had the economy expanding at a 0.1 percent rate.

The difference between the second and third estimates was the largest on records going back to 1976, the Commerce Department said. Economists had expected growth to be revised to show it contracting at a 1.7 percent rate. Sharp revisions to GDP numbers are not unusual as the government does not have complete data when it makes its initial and preliminary estimates.
The article discusses mixed signals regarding second quarter growth, then adds:
A separate report showed orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods unexpectedly fell in May, suggesting an anticipated rebound in growth this quarter could fall short of expectations, even as a measure of business capital spending plans rose.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders declined 1.0 percent as demand for transportation, machinery, computers and electronic products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, and defense capital goods fell.
 Why do I expect a recession? Two primary reasons: First, due to ISIS's continued victories in Iraq, including capture of several small oil fields, oil prices will increase. Historically, increases in oil prices--particularly sharp increases--have led to recessions. Second, there is no hope of any relief in energy prices. The powers that be are planning an end run around Congress to further choke energy production and impose a carbon trading scheme. From the Washington Examiner:
Senior White House officials and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are set to meet this week with Tom Steyer, an environmental activist pledging to pump up to $100 million into the November midterm elections, as part of a new campaign to promote President Obama's green agenda. 
“On Wednesday, senior White House leadership and Secretary Lew will meet with former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, Cargill CEO Greg Page, and Tom Steyer [to] discuss the results of their soon-to-be-released Risky Business report -- which assesses the economic risks of climate change,” a White House official said, previewing the meeting.
... According to the White House official, Lew and senior Obama advisers John Podesta and Valerie Jarrett and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Kathryn Sullivan and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate will meet Tuesday with insurance industry leaders to discuss the “economic consequences of increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather.”
 From a different Washington Examiner article:

The climate change debate took a sharp left turn on Tuesday when several former cabinet secretaries, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a key Wall Street donor to environmental causes said companies that don't buy into global warming should be punished and penalized. 
While the Obama administration has called for polluters to clean up their operations, the former government and business leader said the hammer should come down on business that ignore the potential impact of climate change on their companies and rewards such as greater investment be doled out to those that do. 
"We need to reward people whose behavior reduces climate risk and penalize people who add to it,” said Thomas Steyer, a former hedge fund manager and environmentalist who is a major player and funder of climate change initiatives. “Climate risk should be taken into account by every business and every investor,” he said at a New York press conference to unveil a report on how global warming could cool the U.S. economy. 
He is one of the leaders with Bloomberg, three former Clinton cabinet members and former Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, of the Risky Business Project that released Tuesday's "Risky Business" report. Steyer and members of his group plan to discuss it with White House officials Wednesday. 
Overall, the report said that climate change could cost East Coast business and governments $35 billion a year. In other areas of the nation, said Bloomberg, it will be too hot to work outside. And he also warned of a “really scary” potential that tree-killing bugs might not be limited by cold winters.
 The Power Line blog has more about Steyer here, including the following:
Billionaire hedge fund operator and “green” energy magnate Tom Steyer has pledged $100 million in the 2014 election cycle to help Democratic candidates who oppose the Keystone pipeline and who favor “green” energy over fossil fuels. Steyer claims to be a man of principle who has no financial interest in the causes he supports, but acts only for the public good. That is a ridiculous claim: Steyer is the ultimate rent-seeker who depends on government connections to produce subsidies and mandates that make his “green” energy investments profitable. He also is, or was until recently, a major investor in Kinder Morgan, which is building a competitor to the Keystone pipeline. Go hereherehereherehere and here for more information about how Steyer uses his political donations and consequent connections to enhance his already vast fortune. 
But Steyer’s hypocrisy goes still deeper. Today, he is a bitter opponent of fossil fuels, especially coal. That fits with his current economic interests: banning coal-fired power plants will boost the value of his solar projects. But it was not always thus. In fact, Steyer owes his fortune in large part to the fact that he has been one of the world’s largest financers of coal projects. Tom Steyer was for coal before he was against it.
 Read the whole thing.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jailing Journalists OK? It Depends

An Egyptian court has sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to seven years each in prison on charges of supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news, in a case that has drawn international condemnation. 
The three sentenced Monday in Cairo include Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, who was given an extra three years on another charge. 
Speaking to reporters in Baghdad on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry harshly criticized the ruling a day after speaking with Egyptian leaders in Cairo. 
"Today's conviction is obviously a chilling and draconian sentence," Kerry said.
However, those convictions apparently do not extend to Kerry's overlord. The arrest of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the scapegoat for the Benghazi massacre, is still okay. Or how about Obama personally interfering with the pardon of Abdulelah Haider Shaye by the Yemeni president? (Shaye was released from prison to house arrest on July 23, 2013).

Global Warming Junk "Science"

Christopher Booker writes at the Telegraph the truth that the New York Times will never admit:
When future generations try to understand how the world got carried away around the end of the 20th century by the panic over global warming, few things will amaze them more than the part played in stoking up the scare by the fiddling of official temperature data. There was already much evidence of this seven years ago, when I was writing my history of the scare, The Real Global Warming Disaster. But now another damning example has been uncovered by Steven Goddard’s US blog Real Science, showing how shamelessly manipulated has been one of the world’s most influential climate records, the graph of US surface temperature records published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 
Goddard shows how, in recent years, NOAA’s US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been “adjusting” its record by replacing real temperatures with data “fabricated” by computer models. The effect of this has been to downgrade earlier temperatures and to exaggerate those from recent decades, to give the impression that the Earth has been warming up much more than is justified by the actual data. In several posts headed “Data tampering at USHCN/GISS”, Goddard compares the currently published temperature graphs with those based only on temperatures measured at the time. These show that the US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record; whereas the latest graph, nearly half of it based on “fabricated” data, shows it to have been warming at a rate equivalent to more than 3 degrees centigrade per century.

Doubling Down on Stupid

Elliot Abrams refers to Obama as the man who broke the Middle-East. Abrams writes:
The Middle East that Obama inherited in 2009 was largely at peace, for the surge in Iraq had beaten down the al Qaeda-linked groups. U.S. relations with traditional allies in the Gulf, Jordan, Israel and Egypt were very good. Iran was contained, its Revolutionary Guard forces at home. Today, terrorism has metastasized in Syria and Iraq, Jordan is at risk, the humanitarian toll is staggering, terrorist groups are growing fast and relations with U.S. allies are strained.
Where did this disaster come from? Abrams points to a fickleness on which Egyptian leaders to support and the failure to assist the Syrian rebels against Assad. Abrams is wrong, although, somewhat surprisingly, identified the root causes why the Administration is unable to deal realistically with the Middle East.

First, my views on why Abrams is wrong. Egypt was and is on the verge of collapse. It's only means of survival is political stability and a secular government. Obama failed in Egypt because he chose a fundamentalist Islamic group with open and obvious ties to terrorists--the Muslim Brotherhood--over the secular Mubarak. Then he doubled down in support of Morsi when it was obvious that Morsi was going to institute a theocratic Islamic state, placing him at odds with the current government.

The Syrian debacle comes from the same flaw--supporting Muslim fundamentalists over a nominally secular government. If we had left Syria alone, the rebellion would have been crushed and Al Qaeda would have been hunted down. Instead, we have provided sufficient arms that Syrian rebels were able to arrive at a stalemate in Syria, and have the resources to turn to Iraq.

Now, moving on to Obama, Abrams actually identifies factors as to why Obama is so willing to double down on stupid. It is because Obama's worldview is based on Leftist propaganda.

First, as Abrams recounts:
The new president told the world, in his Cairo speech in June 2009, that he had special expertise in understanding the entire world of Islam—knowledge “rooted in my own experience” because “I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.”
In other words, at best, he has a fairy-tail view of Islam. Like most Liberals, he doesn't care Islam is anti-American.

Second, as Abrams recounts: "Obama began with the view that there was no issue in the Middle East more central than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Another sentence from the Liberal propaganda machine, although the proposition is blatantly false. Although Israel has been subject to attack by neighboring countries, it has in fact been at peace with the bordering nations. The major conflicts and tensions in the Middle-East do not concern or relate to Israel at all. The only persons believing the Israeli-Palestinian issue is of any great significance are the anti-Western Liberals.

Third, Abrams notes: "... in the White House the key desire is to put all those nasty Middle Eastern wars behind us." This deliberate obtuseness was necessary to Obama's reelection strategy--to claim he had successfully extricating the U.S. from the Middle-East and ended the threat of Al Qaeda. The Liberal Media pushed this issue all through 2012, ignoring Benghazi and the obvious resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Africa, and Syria. In this case, Obama actually believed his own propaganda.

And so, now that Obama has fanned the flames of war in the Middle East, what is his response. Double down on stupid. In this case, it is continuing to weaken the U.S. militarily and diplomatically for the sake of implementing Leftist pipe dreams. As the Weekly Standard reports, Sec. of State Kerry has indicated his top priority:
So I am very proud of the progress that we are now making even in appointing LGBT ambassadors. I worked with the committee here at the State Department – with the D Committee, and I worked with the White House. And as a result, Ted Osius, sitting here, whom I’ve known a long time, and his family I know, will be the first openly LGBT officer nominated to serve as an ambassador in Asia. And on confirmation, he’s going to join five openly gay ambassadors who are now serving their country. I’m working hard to ensure that by the end of my tenure, we will have lesbian, bisexual, and transgender ambassadors in our ranks as well.
And that, in a paragraph, shows the true priorities of this Administration.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Coming Ice Age

David Archibald writes at the American Thinker:
... one of the best predictions of climate ever made (weighted for distance and accuracy) was by two Californian researchers, Leona Libby and Louis Pandolfi. In 1979, they used tree ring data from redwoods in Kings Canyon to make a remarkably accurate forecast. From a Los Angeles Times interview of that year,
When she and Pandolfi project their curves into the future, they show lower average temperatures from now through the mid-1980s.  “Then,” Dr. Libby added, “we see a warming trend (by about a quarter of 1 degree Fahrenheit) globally to around the year 2000.  And then it will get really cold—if we believe our projections.  This has to be tested.”  
How cold? “Easily one or two degrees,” she replied, “and maybe even three or four degrees.”
 Recent tree ring data confirms Libby and Pandolft's predictions.
The tree ring readings of the Finnish foresters are predicting a large decline in temperature bottoming out in about 2045. The downturn you see on the right hand side of the graph is as large as any in the last 200 years.
 [And] we now have a way of cross-checking the tree-ring based predictions. A just-released climate model using a notch-delay filter has the promise of providing much higher resolution in climate forecasting. Using historic TSI data, the model can see out to 2025:
... The figure above shows the model output plotted against the UAH temperature record. It shows a very steep decline starting in late 2014 and ending in June 2016. After that it trends sideways for the rest of the decade. The green box shows the expected temperature range in this period. The predicted decline to mid-2016 is 0.6°C. That is not remarkable in itself. There are a few declines of that magnitude in the 34 years of the satellite record. The remarkable thing will be that the temperature will not bounce back. 
We can predict out a further couple of decades using a prediction of Solar Cycle 25 peak amplitude of 7 (Livingstone and Penn) and the Lean 2000 TSI reconstruction back to 1610 as an indication of what TSI will fall to under Dalton/Maunder Minimum-like conditions:
... The figure above plots the notch-delay model output against the Central England Temperature (CET) record. The hindcast match is good. The interesting thing is that the projected temperature decline of 3.0°C is within the historic range of the CET record. The low is reached about 2045, lining up with the projection from the Finnish tree ring study. Maunder and Dalton Minimum-like levels of solar activity will be associated with temperature levels similar to those recorded during these minima.
 Archibald then discusses the impact on agriculture due to temperature declines, and concludes:

All things considered, the production decline for U.S. agriculture could be 8% per 1°C. A fall of 3°C and the United States would be out of export markets for agricultural products, with the same true of most mid-latitude grain exporters. This will have profound geopolitical implications -- namely, starvation and collapse for countries that import food. That’s for next decade. This decade, once the temperature decline is widely apparent, currently importing countries around the world will rush to stockpile, bringing forward the price effect of scarcity. ...
Read the whole thing.

Friday, June 20, 2014

What is Gravity?

Not in the sense of describing how gravity works, but measuring the strength of gravity. Apparently, even after new measurements, the value is still somewhat vague. From Ars Technica:
The gravitational attraction being studied here is that between a cloud of cold rubidium atoms and a 500 kg tungsten weight. The tungsten was arranged in a cylinder that surrounded the device that contained the rubidium atoms. It could be shifted up to pull the atoms back against the downward force of the Earth's gravity or shifted down to accelerate the atoms further. 
Using light, a single cloud of atoms was split into two populations and propelled upward through a vacuum chamber—the authors refer to "using the ‘moving-molasses’ technique" to shift the atoms. The two populations move to different heights and then return to the bottom of the chamber. There, due to the quantum nature of the atoms, they create an interference pattern. If anything alters the trajectory of the atoms, such as the gravitational attraction of the large chunk of tungsten used in these experiments, it will show up as changes in the interference pattern. 
... In the end, the experimental uncertainty is 150 parts-per-million, a value the authors think they can reduce considerably in future work. The value of G ends up being 6.67191 x 10-11 cubic meters per kilogram per second-squared. 
That's in keeping with fewer than half of the previous measurements, most of which were made using torsion bar devices. Of course, those measurements don't all agree with each other

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Culture Wars and the Decline of the West

I know this will be misunderstood, and that I will be maligned for this by some, but what we see afoot, in both America and Europe, is no less than a war conducted from the outside by forces such as the Great Muslim Murder Machine, and by a fifth column of "progressives" against Western civilization. 
Let's be more precise. We have a war underway against white male civilization.
Let's be even more blunt.
 
The concepts of human rights, democracy, liberty, and free enterprise; the great scientific, engineering, and medical inventions and discoveries; the great explorations of the globe; the magnificent literature and art; these are overwhelmingly the products of white males--many of them Jewish, most of them Christian. In the past few decades we have seen a backlash against that, a movement that instead of calling on all to emulate these white male achievements, calls upon these achievements to be ridiculed, denigrated, and destroyed. That is the core of the issue in America and in Europe and around the world. The haters, the race-obsessed thugs are now in charge. 
We see the results of this at home with the opening of our borders to a hostile invasion and most notably abroad as our power and influence are undermined from Washington DC.
His comments tie in with this review at the American Spectator of Michael Waldman's book, The Second Amendment: A Biography. Seth Lipsky, after reading Waldman's book, concluded:
Waldman’s book is notable as a marker for the direction of the debate on the Constitution today. It concludes with three lessons. First, that “originalism” as a way of reading the Constitution is, he says, “untenable.” Second, that “judicial restraint” is important in defense of liberal, but only liberal, laws. Third, that the “fully engaged” public makes constitutional law “as much as jurists and lawyers”—or, to put it in plain language, forget what the Constitution actually says.

Why Democrats and Republicans Push "Immigration Reform"

Obviously the Democrats get the votes. So why the support from Republicans? Because big business interests support "immigration reform." The biggest push is from tech companies, so they can bring in more H1-B visa workers. They can replace American tech workers with H1-B visa workers--who still have to be trained at their jobs. (See also here). The advantage for the companies--they can pay the foreign worker's less salaries and, because they risk losing their visas, the foreign workers can't jump ship. Just a new form of indentured servitude.

Businesses that employ low-skilled labor also benefit, because an influx of immigrant labor also pushes down labor costs.

Benefit to the middle-class? None that I see.

ISIS Continues Advance

Reports are coming out that ISIS has captured Iraq's largest oil refinery in Baiji (Daily Mail and New York Times). Also, the Wall Street Journal reports that ISIS has seized one of Saddam Hussein's old chemical weapons factories, which may still have stockpiles of chemical weapons (you remember, the WMDs that the Liberals have been telling us never existed). All of this is, of course, emboldening the Taliban in Afghanistan, who have attacked a NATO base.

So where did the U.S. go wrong? (Besides electing to President a man so stupid, he does not dare show his grade reports in public). David Goldman examines this issue in his latest op-ed, entitled "America Wants the Impossible and Gets the Unmentionable." I recommend reading his entire piece. But the gist is that Islam is a civilization in collapse, and the best we can do is attempt to manage its decline. What we cannot do is turn individual Middle-Eastern countries (or any other alien culture) into a Western democracy modeled after the United States.

Goldman explains:
We never nurtured foreign policy elite that views America as radically unique, and other parts of the world as existentially challenged by comparison. 
America has neither the students nor the teachers to fix its problems overseas. There are a few sages still left, notably Angelo Codevilla, who holds up the example of John Quincy Adams against the utopian obsessions of the major schools of foreign policy thinking. 
... Americans seem to think that because they had the good grace to stumble into world history a couple of hundred years ago, everyone else should stop what they are doing and emulate them. That point of view is not as ludicrous as it sounds: no nation has ever been more successful than the United States, which has brought more prosperity and security to more people than any other political experiment in human history. 
America’s genius lies in assimilating individuals of all ethnicities into a state based on a laws rather than race or language, and Americans assume that because Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians cohabit peacefully within their borders, they should be able to do so everywhere. That ignores the possibility that those individuals who wanted to [live] peacefully with people of other ethnicities abandoned their home culture, leaving behind those who did not. 
... The radical Protestants who created the American experiment saw their achievement as a universal example but had no expectation that a depraved world would as a general rule choose to emulate it. Most of humanity, they believed, would be damned and forgotten. Today’s mainstream of American Conservatism tends to see America as exceptional only in the sense that it an exceptionally good recipe that every cook ought to be able to master. 
It has become nearly impossible in America to ask the question: Which cultures are viable and which are not? Individuals of all cultures are viable Americans, but that is not necessarily true of the culture they left behind. I have argued for the past dozen years in this space and in my book How Civilizations Die (Regnery 2011) that Muslim civilization will not survive: it passes directly from infancy to senescence. 
That does not impugn the success of Muslim immigrants to America, nor of the hundreds of head-scarf-clad girls one sees at Ariel University in Samaria, but it does mean that Muslim states will be unstable and crisis prone and that Muslim populations will be discontented and prone to extremism for the duration. It is a fool’s errand to stabilize them; the best one can do is to prevent their problems from spilling over onto us.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Another Axe/Knife Attack in China

Full story here. Just as deadly as the recent shooting at the school in Portland. As Obama says, no civilized nation would put up with such attacks. Time for China to ban anything sharp.

Hillary Clinton's Book Flops

The book has only sold 60,000 print copies, and 24,000 e-books. Over a million copies of the hard-cover edition have been shipped to stores. I'm sure most of those will be destroyed. Think of all the trees that died in vain. Another example of how Liberals destroy the environment.

Will It Pass?

The spectacular advances by ISIS forces in Iraq in recent days have been a catastrophe for Iraq and a major setback for American interests but they are not the end of the world. 
ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) now holds substantial swathes of territory and may have something like $2 billion in cash, a fleet of armored vehicles and probably more small arms than it knows what to do with. Unusually among jihadist groups, ISIS has focused in Syria on governance beyond just shooting, beheading, and crucifying people it doesn’t like. Presumably it will do the same in Iraq. 
However, this will not last. For an explanation why, we can turn to probably the most brilliant jihadist strategist to have touched a keyboard: Abu Musab al-Suri. He believed that “open fronts,” such as the 1980s jihad against the Soviet Union, efforts intended to liberate and hold territory, are unlikely to succeed. The simple fact is that they cannot stand up to modern military power backed up by modern intelligence. Instead, he recommended a turn toward individual jihad because it avoided the enemies’ strengths. In other words, Al-Suri would say that the more cities ISIS captures, the more money it has to keep track of, the more armored vehicles it acquires, the more social services it has to organize and deliver, the more it is setting itself up for a fall. These things have all sorts of pernicious effects from the point of view of security: they tie ISIS to fixed territory, they create networks that can be mapped and exploited, and they provide targets to airpower and artillery. ...
I'm not sure that ISIS will pass or, even if it does, that things will return to normal.

ISIS has passed the point of merely being a guerrilla movement. It now holds a large enough contiguous territory to be considered a nation-state, with sufficient forces to challenge Iraq's military on equal terms. It has accepted the reigns of government, providing infrastructure and social services generally provided by governments. It has--at least for now--a generally supportive population. The Iraqi government has proven itself incapable of stopping ISIS's advances, and will probably be equally unable to retake substantial territory, unless (as in the surge during the American occupation) ISIS alienates the population. In short, ISIS is at the same point Mao was in China when the tide turned against the Nationalist Chinese.

Even if ISIS is pushed back, though, its actions are a watershed event for Iraq. The Kurds will demand greater independence from Iraq's central government and get it. I suspect that now that they have control of Kirkuk, the Kurds are not going to cede it back. The Kurds are strongly positioned to declare an independent state, which will, more likely than not, lead to armed conflict with Turkey.

Even if ISIS is defeated, it will not end the Sunni/Shiite split in Iraq. The Sunni's will have had a taste of the power they lost upon the U.S. invasion, and will want it back--at least to the extent of having their own autonomous region.

Finally, if ISIS is defeated militarily, they will merely melt back to the stage 1 of revolution, becoming fish in a sea of Sunni supporters.

Sarah Hoyt: "Assume the Crash Position"

Sometimes it is good to get an outsider's impression. Sarah Hoyt writes generally about decline, and more specifically about our current leadership, and why and where it hopes to take us.

Firstly, Ms. Hoyt notes:
To expect the worst to happen in catastrophic situations is just as unreasonable as to expect the best to happen. Neither are realistic outcomes.

For instance, even if we seem to be heading towards a cooling period (we’ve had maybe three hot days so far this year) I don’t expect us to revert to the age of cavemen and hunt mammoths. It’s a very inconvenient mode of the human brain that we tend to think in stories. So when we talk about a crash people expect the middle ages. In fact, that is in the article at PJM.

The middle ages are grossly unlikely. Grossly, bizarrely unlikely. Technology doesn’t go backwards when the economy and society collapse. It just becomes… dingy.

My experience in Portugal through the hard times is that electricity became… unreliable. Food on shelves became iffy (so you stockpiled when you could) and there were a hundred others daily inconveniences. I understand if it had advanced all the way to a communist state it would have got even worse, but never, mind you, like the middle ages. Here’s the thing, even in the soviet union, life was dingy, dangerous and icky, but it was still life in an industrial state.
Second, Ms. Hoyt comments on where our political leadership hopes to take us:
... The websites are abuzz again, with the old question “dunce or traitor?” I fail to see why it’s one or the other. I very much think it’s both. It’s traitor because he was raised to be a traitor. I don’t know how to link L. Neil Smith’s article, so I’ll just say that he pointed out that someone who was raised as a communist, is in fact a communist. Why would he be anything else? It would require a Road of Damascus experience, and I don’t remember his telling us of one. And trust me, he would have. 
So, there’s the traitor part. But in it there’s the dunce part too. 
Look, I’m not going to consider whether or not communists can be very smart. Maybe they can. I’ve never met any, though. 
Oh, raw IQ, sure. But people don’t move and choose through raw IQ. My brother is brilliant. He’s also a deeply conventional man. This mean his thoughts move only in the “approved thoughts for brilliant people” mode of the last century – that is, leftist. We have a childhood friend who is an European communist leader (I suppose not openly, but who knows?) Is he stupid? Not raw IQ. But communism requires him to believe certain things. Such as “the right people” will naturally seize power after a collapse. 
That’s what we’re dealing with here. Given Obama’s performance off script, I don’t think his dunceness is that smart. Look, as with his being a red diaper baby, it doesn’t even take much guessing. The evidence is RIGHT before our eyes. If he were smart, it would have been shouted from the rooftops. IQ? Grades? Achievement of some sort?
Come on, the biggest thing they have to tout is the fact that he was editor of the Harvard Law review, even if he published nothing. That means IQ, grades and achievement are all of a nullity or very close. Which – yes, I’m going to be crude here – in an age of political correctness when Harvard would want to give him a “win” (i.e. good grades/honors) just because of his color and his exotic religious background, means he must be something special in the way of dumb.
 
That is important, to an extent, because it means to the extent he’s in control, we’ll get dunce-moves. 
But he’s not fully in control. From the disabled credit card checks, to the carefully scripted campaign that he clearly had bugger all to do with, it’s been clear all along someone else is driving this train. And that person might or might not be a dunce, but they are, definitely a true believer. 
The problem posed by “dunce or traitor” is that the answer is both. He is a traitor, but to the extent that it’s not working, it’s because he’s also a dunce. And whether he’s a dunce in IQ or an ideology-impaired-dunce the result is the same. 
For instance, have you guys figured out yet that OWS’s was supposed to be an attempt at a “proletarian revolution”? No? If you look at it, it becomes clear. Raised on stories of proletarian revolution, they thought if they squeezed us just enough, and then provided a spark – OWS screaming about the 1% — the country would spontaneously rise up in a communist revolution. 
This was obvious to me, because I KNOW communist myth. 
Then there was gun control, which has failed, even despite Fast and Furious. And Fast and Furious is something that only crazy, delusional and dumb people would dream up.
But there are things he can still do – crash the economy (the continuous money printing can’t go on) disarm (while China arms) and effectively switch sides in the war on terror.
These might be enough. I can see a very difficult winter ahead. I am still/again afraid that we’ll lose at least a city, and possibly more to enemy action. And I’m very afraid both my sons will end up in uniform and possibly dying to pay for this massive mistake.
So… It’s time to assume crash position.
It is clear from Obama's actions (for instance, the nonstop golf excursions and vacations) that he is indifferent to governance. Hoyt provides an explanation for this indifference--that Obama doesn't care because he is not in charge.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Of Course!

The couple responsible for killing two police officers and a concealed carry holder in Nevada were Occupy Members. From the article:
While living in Lafayette, Jerad and his wife Amanda took part in last November’s “Million Mask March” – a gathering of protesters from the Occupy movement, anarchists, and hacktivists.
(H/t Instapundit)

Fiddling While Rome Burns

News reports continue to indicate that ISIS is working toward an attack on Baghdad. The U.S. is evacuating its embassy. (See also here). ISIS forces are slaughtering prisoners.

So what is President Obama doing? Golfing in Palm Springs.

Obama Has Become Dangerously Delusional

Obama had doubled down on the "climate change" meme notwithstanding that there has not been global warming for over 17 years, none of the climate models has ever accurately predicted anything, and there is no evidence of a connection between man-made production of carbon having any impact on global temperatures.

The really humorous part of his speech--at least as reprinted in the article cited above--is where he explains that he isn't a scientist, but he has some good ones at NASA. Does  that include the 49 former scientists and astronauts that claimed that AGW is a hoax? Or the NASA data showing a "warming pause" of over 17 years?

The less humorous aspect of this whole thing is that because of his power and authority, Obama's delusional fantasies have real world consequences. He is going to kill American energy production and industry to satisfy his Messianic delusions of saving the world.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Reprint: "What is the Worth of a Father?"

Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there. For this year's Father's Day, I am reprinting something I had written back in February 2012.

* * * * *
One of the most insidious results of the welfare state and the feminist movement is the loss of respect for fathers, or even the belief that fathers are needed in a home. We are surrounded with ads and TV shows that show fathers as clueless idiots--essentially just another child for the mother to care for and look after. The legal system bases custody on "the best interests of the children" which has merely become a code phrase for "fathers not needed." Even my church, sad to say, while emphasizing the importance of motherhood, significantly downplays the importance of fathers.

I was reminded of the importance of fathers today when reading this article concerning on how New Jersey's court system has usurped the powers and authority of the legislature in important areas, including education. It noted:
The court also seemed oblivious to the fact that, no matter how much money the state spent, educational “adequacy” in the Abbott districts would remain a casualty of widespread family breakdown. In Newark and Camden, about 70 percent of children grow up in homes without fathers—which, research shows, frequently leads to dismal academic performance and high drop-out rates. “While many of the mothers and grandmothers were making a tremendous effort with their children, the consequences for most of the fatherless kids were devastating,” wrote Saul Cooperman, the state’s former education commissioner, in a 2002 op-ed. Assessing the likely effectiveness of the supreme court’s education mandates, Cooperman was blunt: “Until dramatically more fathers as well as mothers raise their children in our cities, we may be disappointed with the results.”
Why are fathers so important? It is because fathers inculcate skills and discipline in their children that mothers, single or not, don't.

As noted sociologist David Popenoe explains,
Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers – especially biological fathers – bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.
Fathers bring good, essential things to the lives of children. Children are impoverished developmentally when they are deprived of their father’s love.
The Review of General Psychology concludes:
Many studies conclude that children with highly involved fathers, in relation to children with less involved fathers, tend to be more cognitively and socially competent, less inclined toward gender stereotyping, more empathetic, and psychologically better adjusted.
(Footnotes omitted). (See also this article). And, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood. Infants who receive high levels of affection from their fathers (e.g., babies whose fathers respond quickly to their cries and who play together) are more securely attached; that is, they can explore their environment comfortably when a parent is nearby and can readily accept comfort from their parent after a brief separation. A number of studies suggest they also are more sociable and popular with other children throughout early childhood.

The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child's emotional and social development. Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Rough-housing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions. Generally speaking, fathers also tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world. Fathers often push achievement while mothers stress nurturing, both of which are important to healthy development. As a result, children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them and more likely to exhibit self-control and pro-social behavior.

One study of school-aged children found that children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior. This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had stronger self-esteem. In addition, numerous studies have found that children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior.

In short, fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. A caseworker who understands the important contributions fathers make to their children's development and how to effectively involve fathers in the case planning process will find additional and valuable allies in the mission to create a permanent and safe environment for children.
(Footnotes omitted).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

When Seconds Count, ...

The Daily Mail reports:
A Florida resident who called 911 to report a violent home invasion on was directed to voice mail when a dispatcher tried to transfer the call from the fire department to law enforcement. 
Unable to get a hold of police on time, the homeowner at Gwain Road in Port Richey in Pasco County grabbed a gun and shot one of the intruders who were apparently after cash and prescription pills. 
WTSP reports that Joseph Rich, and brothers Michael Reverdes and Steven Reverdes are now in custody after police finally arrived on the scene. Steven Reverdes was shot in the back by the homeowner. 
No information on the ethnicity of the homeowners, but the attackers could have been Obama's sons. I just mention that to once again point out that the majority of violent crimes are by those that have been most heavily subjected to Democratic/Liberal/Progressive policies. Liberals cause crime, and until we recognize that fact, we will never be able to deal with the high crime rates in inner cities.

EMC2 Fusion Sees Promising Results, Looks for Investors

With its government contract expiring, EMC2 Fusion is making its research results public and seeking public support. Compared with other fusion initiatives, EMC2's efforts are cheap and, if workable, results could be seen in just years instead of decades. Alan Boyle reports:
In comparison [to other test concepts], Polywell fusion is a bargain-basement technology. It combines two design concepts: One of the concepts involves an unorthodox containment device that's called a Wiffle-Ball, because the magnetic field pattern produced by the reactor looks like the well-known perforated plastic ball. The other concept is the Farnsworth fusor, which uses a high-voltage cage to direct beams of ions to a fusion reaction. Fusor technology is so well-understood that a teenager could do it.
EMC2 has shown that their containment system can be used for high pressure containment--something other concepts cannot match--which will make fusion easier to obtain.

Administration Abandons More Americans to Terrorists

This is becoming a recurring theme for this Administration. Weazel Zippers reports:
According to Fox, the Obama regime doesn’t at this point intend to evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, despite the fact that ISIS is within 70 miles of Baghdad, because it is “too politically sensitive to do so”. 
In addition to those at the Embassy, many Americans are still reportedly in Iraq, including a reported 600 contractors that were seeking to be evacuated from an Iraqi military base. The U.S. government apparently evacuated a small number of U.S. personnel, but did not evacuate the contractors. Some of the contractors have allegedly been evacuated by Iraqi Army planes, others were still waiting. They are no longer at that military base, but for obvious reasons we do not want to be more specific about where they might be. We believe based on latest information, that those particular contractors should now be out aboard Iraqi Army planes, without U.S. help, in the words of one family member, “Obama AWOL”. We will keep you informed as we find out more about their safety.
Like during most every other crises, Obama will spend his time fund raising and playing golf.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Two Massive Planets at Edge of Solar System?


When potential dwarf planet 2012 VP113 was discovered in March, it joined a handful of unusual rocky objects known to reside beyond the orbit of Pluto. These small objects have curiously aligned orbits, which hints that an unseen planet even further out is influencing their behaviour. Scientists calculated that this world would be about 10 times the mass of Earth and would orbit at roughly 250 times Earth's distance from the sun. 
... Some of the smaller objects have very elongated orbits that would take them out to this distance. It is unusual for a large planet to orbit so close to other bodies unless it is dynamically tied to something else, so the researchers suggest that the large planet is itself in resonance with a more massive world at about 250 times the Earth-sun distance – just like the one predicted in the previous work. 
Observing these putative planets will be tricky. The smaller bodies are on very elliptical orbits and were only spotted when they ventured closest to the sun. But the big planets would have roughly circular orbits and would be slow moving and dim, making them tough for current telescopes to see. "It's not at all surprising that they haven't been found yet," says Carlos.
 H/t Instapundit

The Breakup of Iraq

In December 2012, I warned against the U.S. intervening in Syria, stating: "... aiding the rebels does not advance U.S. interests. Assisting the rebels in Syria will only guarantee the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Al Queda [sic]."

Whether it was because of our meddling or not, Assad was not able to put down the rebellion, and Al Qaeda--in the form of ISIS--has grown exponentially in power, to the point it may be able to create its own state and threaten the fragile stability of the region.

The Independent reports:
Iraq is breaking up. The Kurds have taken the northern oil city of Kirkuk that they have long claimed as their capital. Sunni fundamentalist fighters vow to capture Baghdad and the Shia holy cities further south.

Government rule over the Sunni Arab heartlands of north and central Iraq is evaporating as its 900,000-strong army disintegrates. Government aircraft have fired missiles at insurgent targets in Mosul, captured by Isis on Monday, but the Iraqi army has otherwise shown no sign of launching a counter-attack.

The nine-year Shia dominance over Iraq, established after the US, Britain and other allies overthrew Saddam Hussein, may be coming to an end. The Shia may continue to hold the capital and the Shia-majority provinces further south, but they will have great difficulty in re-establishing their authority over Sunni provinces from which their army has fled.
 It is unlikely that the Kurds will give up Kirkuk. “The whole of Kirkuk has fallen into the hands of peshmerga [Kurdish soldiers],” said the peshmerga spokesman Jabbar Yawar. “No Iraqi army remains in Kirkuk.”
 The article goes on to describe the basic conflict in terms of Shiite versus Sunni.

The Daily Mail makes similar observations, devoting an entire article on the Shiite and Sunni conflicts and tensions throughout the Middle-East. It observes:
Its [ISIS'] extraordinary success could not have been achieved without the tacit support of ordinary Sunni people in the areas it has conquered.

The Sunnis in Mosul regarded the Shia-dominated army from the south of the country as an occupying force and were only too pleased to see the back of them.
 
True, these people are terrified of the brutal ideology of ISIS, which specialises in amputations and crucifixions for those who do not subscribe to its fundamentalist creed.

But for now, their hatred of al-Maliki’s authoritarian government, which treats them as a lower caste, outweighs those fears.
It goes on to mention:
Meanwhile, across the Middle East, Sunni and Shia rivalries are festering like open sores. Of the world’s 1.6billion Muslims, the vast majority are Sunnis; Shias comprise 10 to 15 per cent - two hundred million people.  
Egypt, Turkey, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are Sunni. In Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the ruling Sunni treat Shia as second-class citizens.  
The Shia are concentrated in Iran, southern Iraq and Lebanon. And despite being in the minority in Syria, they are powerful there, too: President Bashar Assad’s ruling party belong to a Shia sect called the Alawites. 
Once you understand the Sunni/Shia divide, you can make sense of the rivalries in the Middle East. It explains why Sunni rebels - backed by the predominantly Sunni powers, ranging from Turkey to Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf states - are determined to fight Assad’s Shia-dominated army to the death. 
And why Lebanese Hizbollah militias (Shia) are fighting for Assad, under the command of Revolutionary Guards officers from Iran (also Shia).
 ISIS, true to their nature, is already initiating a bloody reign of terror. The Daily Mail reports:
The full horror of the jihadists’ savage victories in Iraq emerged yesterday as witnesses told of streets lined with decapitated soldiers and policemen. 
Blood-soaked bodies and blazing vehicles were left in the wake of the Al Qaeda-inspired ISIS fanatics as they pushed the frontline towards Baghdad. 
They boasted about their triumphs in a propaganda video depicting appalling scenes including a businessman being dragged from his car and executed at the roadside with a pistol to the back of his head.
... In the swathe of captured territory across northern Iraq, ISIS declared hardline Sharia law, publishing rules ordering women not to go outside ‘unless strictly necessary’, banning alcohol and smoking, and forcing all residents to attend mosques five times a day. BBC correspondent Paul Wood said one woman from Mosul, Iraq’s second city, had spoken of seeing a ‘row of decapitated soldiers and policemen’. 
The refugee woman told how the victims’ heads were placed in rows – a trademark, trophy-style execution favoured by ISIS militants.
Michael Totten writes:
Al Qaeda splinter group ISIS has taken the Iraqi city of Tikrit and the Kurdish Peshmerga has taken the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Iraq's army fled both and hardly fired a shot. 
God only knows what happens next, but this much is clear—the Syrian war is no longer the Syrian war. It’s a regional war. It spilled into Lebanon at a low level some time ago. It sucked in Iran and Hezbollah some time ago. Now it is spreading with full force at blitzkrieg speed into Iraq and has even drawn in the Kurdistan Regional Government which managed to sit out the entire Iraq war. 
This could easily suck in Turkey, Jordan, and Israel before it’s over. 
... Arab governments complain when we intervene and they complain when we don't intervene. Basically, they complain no matter what. So asking what they want is pointless. It takes a while to notice this trend over time, but there it is. They have not stopped to consider the consequences of this behavior, but those consequences are about to become apocalyptic for Nouri al-Maliki. 
“We’ll kill you if you mess with us, but otherwise go die” is not even close to my preferred foreign policy, but it’s what President Barack Obama prefers (phrased much more nicely, of course) and it’s what the overwhelming majority of Americans prefer, including most liberals as well as conservatives. 
Still, it’s only a matter of time before we get sucked in kicking and screaming one way or another. Because the Middle East isn’t Las Vegas. What happens there doesn’t stay there.

Mission Accomplished

MissionAccomplished0067
(Source: Powerline Blog)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Did She Expect?

The Daily Mail reports:
The founder of a Mormon women's rights group faces being excommunicated from her church after leading a demonstration in Salt Lake City.  
Two months ago Kate Kelly defied church orders to led [sic] hundreds of people in a rally at Temple Square to highlight gender inequality in the Mormon faith. 
On Sunday, she received a letter from the bishop of her Virginia congregation telling her a disciplinary hearing had been set to discuss her being removed from the church. 
Kelly, who founded Ordain Women, said she was shocked, dismayed and devastated by the letter, which informed her that a hearing had been set for June 22.  
She has been accused of apostasy, which was defined as repeated and public advocacy of positions that oppose church teachings.
If she doesn't like the Church's teachings, she should have found a church more conducive to her beliefs, rather than expect everyone else to conform to what she wanted. Typical liberal--can't just let others alone.

Update on ISIS/Iraqi Conflict

Obama has no problems using drones in Yemen and Afghanistan, but he wants Iraq to remain Bush's fault. According to the New York Times:
As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials. 
But Iraq’s appeals for a military response have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011. 
The swift capture of Mosul by militants aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has underscored how the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have converged into one widening regional insurgency with fighters coursing back and forth through the porous border between the two countries. But it has also called attention to the limits the White House has imposed on the use of American power in an increasingly violent and volatile region.
Meanwhile ISIS pushes toward Baghdad.  The London Times reports that Iran has sent special forces troops to Iraq to assist the Iraqis:
Iran has sent special forces and a unit of elite troops to Iraq to bolster floundering efforts by the Iraqi government to halt the advance of militants from an al-Qaeda splinter group. 
A 150-man unit of the Quds Force, the elite section of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, has deployed to Iraq, supported by a team of Saberin, Tehran’s equivalent of the SAS. 
To my unpracticed eyes, it appears that the Administration's goals are two-fold: (1) destroy any semblance of influence that the U.S. has in the region, and (2) support Sunnis in their war against Shiites. (Obama was likely raised as a Sunni, since most Muslims in Southeast Asia are Sunni).

However, there is a broader theme here, as well. In Tainter's work on the collapse of complex societies, he concluded that the interconnection between societies made it impossible for a complex society to collapse, because other nations would step in to fill the vacuum and prop it up. We have seen this in many cases, on of the most recent being the financial support Egypt is receiving from other Arab countries to prevent its total collapse.

But Tainter also indicated that in order for modern society to collapse, it would have to all collapse. I don't know if Tainter believed that it would all suddenly collapse (a house of cards) or that once one society collapsed, collapse would spread to other societies and be neigh unstoppable (dominoes). What we have seen in many situations on the periphery of modern civilization, such as Africa and Central Asia, are smaller societies collapsing into "failed states." But, rather than effectively intervening, the great nations are simply walling these societies off--largely isolating them from the outside world--because they lack the political will and physical/financial means to intervene. It is too early to predict whether Syria and Iraq will join the failed states category. But we may be seeing the first dominoes falling.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Did the Left Get the School Shooting They Have Been Waiting For?

The Left have been disappointed time and again over the past several years as so-called "mass shootings" have been committed by Leftists/Liberals. The Oregon school shooting may finally give them what they wanted--an unhinged conservative. The Daily Mail reports:
The gunman who killed a Reynolds High School student in Portland, Oregon, and injured a popular teacher in a shooting spree on Tuesday has been named today as 15-year-old student Jared Michael Padgett. 
... Padgett was known by his classmates as a quiet student from a large military family with a fascination for guns. 
On Padgett's Facebook page, the 15-year-old liked two tactical knife companies, M4 assault rifles and political pages such as 'Conservative American Military Veterans Against Barack Obama' and 'We WILL NOT Be Disarmed.' 
Padgett, whose family attended a Mormon church ward in Hartley Park in Gresham was described [by] Earl Milliron, 86 'as a quiet young man who was very involved in the church'. 
Milliron, who said he knew the Padgett family said that Padgett was a deacon in the church and that he had known the 15-year-old's father for more than 25-years.
He referenced problems within the family, describing it as having 'had its ups and downs over the years' and revealed that Padgett's parents, Michael and Kristina broke up four or five years ago.

Big Wins in Iraq for Al Qaeda

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Source: Daily Mail
The disastrous loss of Mosul and Tikrit just gets worse and worse.  The Daily Mail has a lengthy and detailed piece worth reading. Among other things, it notes:
While the West has so far refused to assist with military support, the US has said it will come to the aid of the 500,000 people who have fled fierce fighting in Iraq. 
Denouncing ISIS as ‘one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world, Stuart Jones, the nominee to be the next US envoy to Baghdad, told US politicians the United States ‘will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will work with our international partners to try to meet the needs of those who have been displaced’.  
Today UK Foreign Secretary William Hague played down any suggestion of sending troops to support the Iraqi military and the White House National Security Council said: 'President Obama promised to responsibly end the war in Iraq and he did'. 
A country into which America poured so much blood and money faces the prospect of dealing with this major new military threat by itself in light of Western governments' insistence that the matter is not their concern.
Also, the terrorists have seized weapons. From the story:

Insurgents and Iraqi troops have been fighting for days in Mosul, but the security forces' hold appeared to collapse late Monday night and early Tuesday.  
Gunmen overran the Ninevah provincial government building - a key symbol of state control - Monday evening, and the governor fled the city.  
The fighters stormed police stations, bases and prisons, capturing weapons and freeing inmates. Security forces melted away, abandoning many of their posts, and militants seized large caches of weapons.  
They took control of the city's airport and captured helicopters, as well as an airbase 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of the city, the parliament speaker said.
The story indicates that the Kurds may send troops beyond the borders of their autonomous region to deal with insurgents, which in itself may cause additional problems as some of the areas occupied by the militants have large Kurdish populations which the Kurds want to include in their zone.

The Telegraph is reporting mass beheadings in Mosul and Tikrit. The International Business Times reports:
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (Isis) has become the richest terror group ever after looting 500 billion Iraqi dinars - the equivalent of $429m (£256m) - from Mosul's central bank, according to the regional governor. 
Nineveh governor Atheel al-Nujaifi confirmed Kurdish televison reports that Isis militants had stolen millions from numerous banks across Mosul. A large quantity of gold bullion is also believed to have been stolen.
The Turkish consulate in Mosul was seized, and Turkish truck drivers have been captured, which has prompted Turkey to call for an emergency meeting of NATO.