Sunday, April 30, 2006

British town's pubs scan fingerprints to spot louts

BREITBART.COM - British town's pubs scan fingerprints to spot louts: "British town's pubs scan fingerprints to spot louts
Apr 28 1:43 PM US/Eastern
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Revellers in a British town are to have their fingerprints scanned when they enter pubs and clubs in a scheme aimed at weeding out drunken troublemakers.

The 'In Touch' project is the first of its kind in Britain.

Biometric finger-scanning machines have been installed at six venues in Yeovil, southwest England. Clubbers will be asked to have their right index finger scanned and show picture identification to register on the system.

The data is then stored on a computer network which other pubs and clubs in the scheme can access so that information on louts can be passed on quickly.

'It will identify those who have previously been intent on causing trouble,' said Sergeant Jackie Gold, of Avon and Somerset Police.

'If somebody is causing trouble in one pub and is removed from the premises, from the time it takes for that person to walk to another venue, the system will have been updated and the door staff at other venues will be aware.'

'It will also mean that they do not have to carry ID on them which can often be the source of inconvenience.'

Once registered on the system, clubbers are identified by finger scan only.

The scheme is voluntary and the information stored will be subject to data protection laws."

Iran's Secret Plan if Attacked by US Codenamed "Judgement Day"

Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Eight fundamentalist Islamist organizations have received large sums of money in the last month from the Iranian intelligence services, as part of a project to strike U.S military and economic installations across the Middle East Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.

The plan, which also includes the carrying out of suicide operations targeting US and British interests in the region, as well as their Arab and Muslim allies, in case Iran is attacked, was drawn up by a number of experts guerilla warfare and terrorist operations, and was revealed by a senior source in the Iranian armed forces’ joint chief of staff headed by the veterinary doctor (?) Hassan Firouzabadi.

The source added that the forces of the Revolutionary Guards’ al Quds Brigades, under Brigadier General Qassim Suleimani is responsible for coordinating and providing logistical support for the groups taking part in the execution of the plan, codenamed al Qiyamah the Islamic word for “Judgment Day”.

The plan includes three steps, which Asharq al Awsat has examined in earlier reports. The source gave more details about how the plan will be implemented. He said, “Most of Iran’s visitors in the last four months, including the leaders of revolutionary groups in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, as well as the heads of Hezbollah cells in the Persian Gulf and Europe and North America were asked, when they met with the Iranian intelligence minister Gholamhossein Mohseni Ezhei and his aides: are you ready to defend the Islamic revolution and vilayat e faqih? If you agree to take part in the great jihad, what would you need to be ready for the great fight?” ...

According to Iran, the latest military plan includes:

1- A missile strike directly targeting the US bases in the Persian Gulf and Iraq , as soon as nuclear installations are hit.

2- Suicide operations in a number of Arab and Muslim countries against US embassies and missions and US military bases and economic and oil installations related to US and British companies. The campaign might also target the economic and military installations of countries allied with the United States .

3- Launch attacks by the Basij and the Revolutionary Guards and Iraqi fighters loyal to Iran against US and British forces in Iraq , from border regions in central and southern Iraq .

4- Hezbollah to launch hundreds of rockets against military and economic targets in Israel .

According to the source, in case the US military attacks continue, more than 50 Shehab-3 missiles will be targeted against Israel and the al Quads Brigades will give the go-ahead for more than 50 terrorists cells in Canada, the US and Europe to attack civil and industrial targets in these countries.

What about the last stage in the plan? Here, the Iranian source hesitated before saying with worry; this stage might represent the beginning of a world war, given that extremists will seek to maximize civilian casualties by exploding germ and chemical bombs as well as dirty nuclear bombs across western and Arab cities.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

My (brief) career as an ISP ::> FBI puts the squeeze on reporter

My (brief) career as an ISP | Perspectives | CNET News.com:

"The FBI is convinced that I'm an Internet service provider.

It's no joke. A letter the FBI sent on Sept. 19 ordered me to 'preserve all records and other evidence' relating to my interviews of Adrian Lamo, the so-called homeless hacker, who's facing two criminal charges related to an alleged intrusion into The New York Times' computers.

There are a number of problems with this remarkable demand, most of which I'll get to in a moment, but the biggest is the silliest. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Howard Leadbetter II used the two-page letter to inform me that under Section 2703(f) of the Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act, I must 'preserve these items for a period of 90 days' in anticipation of a subpoena. So far I haven't received such a subpoena, which would invoke a lesser-known section of the USA Patriot Act.

Leadbetter needs to be thwacked with a legal clue stick. The law he's talking about applies only to Internet service providers, not reporters."

[..]

I'm not the only one who's concluded that the FBI is out of control. The Justice Department's own cybercrime manual says the law applies to "network providers" and offers AOL as an example. In a recent column, former Justice Department prosecutor Mark Rasch says the law "was never intended to apply to journalist's records."

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, says the FBI demand to journalists who wrote about Lamo is more than wrongheaded. "It's stupid. Journalists are not Internet service providers. I think someone at the Justice Department just plain screwed up. Maybe they thought they were getting very creative by going after online journalists and saying they were ISPs."

Last Friday, Dalglish's group sent a letter of protest to the FBI's general counsel. The letter also was signed by the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the National Press Club.

[...]

So what are Leadbetter and his colleagues in the FBI's New York City field office trying to pull off here?

Lamo--who surrendered to the FBI last month and was released into his parents' custody until a hearing scheduled for later this month--has spent the past few years bragging to journalists about how he broke into the networks of companies such as The Times, Yahoo, Microsoft, Excite@Home and WorldCom.

[...]

That said, the FBI is nuts to think there's anything helpful in journalists' notes and other records that agents can't get somewhere else--like from Lamo himself, who has not denied his earlier claims. Not only would turning reporters into de facto agents of the prosecution be unlikely to result in additional convictions, it would also violate constitutional protections for the press.

That's the second problem with the FBI's letter and promised subpoena: It runs afoul of the First Amendment's protections of freedom of the press. Judges have ruled that a wide-ranging inquiry into a reporter's unpublished work is unreasonable, a protection that one federal appeals court described as reflecting "the preferred position of the First Amendment and the importance of a vigorous press." Who would confide in a reporter who was nothing but a lackey for Attorney General John Ashcroft?

Your ISP as Net watchdog

Your ISP as Net watchdog | CNET News.com

Your ISP as Net watchdog
By Declan McCullagh

The U.S. Department of Justice is quietly shopping around the explosive idea of requiring Internet service providers to retain records of their customers' online activities.

Data retention rules could permit police to obtain records of e-mail chatter, Web browsing or chat-room activity months after Internet providers ordinarily would have deleted the logs--that is, if logs were ever kept in the first place. No U.S. law currently mandates that such logs be kept.

In theory, at least, data retention could permit successful criminal and terrorism prosecutions that otherwise would have failed because of insufficient evidence. But privacy worries and questions about the practicality of assembling massive databases of customer behavior have caused a similar proposal to stall in Europe and could engender stiff opposition domestically.

In Europe, the Council of Justice and Home Affairs ministers say logs must be kept for between one and three years. One U.S. industry representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Justice Department is interested in at least a two-month requirement.

Justice Department officials endorsed the concept at a private meeting with Internet service providers and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to interviews with multiple people who were present. The meeting took place on April 27 at the Holiday Inn Select in Alexandria, Va.

"It was raised not once but several times in the meeting, very emphatically," said Dave McClure, president of the U.S. Internet Industry Association, which represents small to midsize companies. "We were told, 'You're going to have to start thinking about data retention if you don't want people to think you're soft on child porn.'"

McClure said that while the Justice Department representatives argued that Internet service providers should cooperate voluntarily, they also raised the "possibility that we should create by law a standard period of data retention." McClure added that "my sense was that this is something that they've been working on for a long time."

This represents an abrupt shift in the Justice Department's long-held position that data retention is unnecessary and imposes an unacceptable burden on Internet providers. In 2001, the Bush administration expressed "serious reservations about broad mandatory data retention regimes."

ABC News: Did Jesus Ask Judas to Betray Him?

ABC News: Did Jesus Ask Judas to Betray Him?

So what is in the Gospel of Judas? It is a dialogue that claims to be a conversation between Jesus and Judas in which Jesus asks Judas to betray him.

"Judas has the terrible task of taking it upon himself to turn him over to the authorities for this reason," Pagels said. "Now, the Gospel of Judas also has Judas say to Jesus in fear and terror that he has a dream that the other disciples will hate him and will stone him to death, will attack him.

"And Jesus says, 'Yes, in fact, they will think that you are a terrible person because of what you did. This is part of the burden that you bear. But they will be wrong about that.' So it is an extraordinary transformation of the ordinary understanding of Judas Iscariot."

Pagels said the text shows that Christ, in fact, asked Judas to betray him for an undisclosed reason. "The Gospel of Judas does suggest that the betrayal of Jesus is not a reprehensible act, not the act of a traitor, you know, the worst villain in the history of the world, but that it's a secret mystery between him and Jesus," she said.

Herbert Krosney, author of "The Lost Gospel: The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot," one of two new books and a National Geographic Channel documentary about the Gospel of Judas, said the finding is significant.

"Judas is not the betrayer," Krosney said. "Judas is, rather, the favored disciple of Jesus. He is the one whose star shines in the heavens and in the skies, and Judas, therefore, becomes unique. He is Jesus' best friend rather than his betrayer."

A New Perspective

Today the Gospel of Judas got its first public outing at a news conference, and it is on display at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. It will eventually return to Egypt to be housed in Cairo's Coptic Museum. It is also available online, in Coptic and English, and is the cover story of the new National Geographic magazine.

But while the document is a real one, is what it claims also true? Did the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John get it wrong? Did Jesus askJudas to betray him?

"I don't think that we have in this Gospel what I would call historical proof," Pagels said. "We also don't have that in the other Gospels."

She said there may never be an answer. "I don't see how we would, although you see we could always find next week or in 50 years other evidence that we don't have now."

In the end, science may have its answers, but questions of spirit and soul cannot be analyzed like a piece of papyrus. If Judas did not betray Jesus and was part of a grand plan, does that change anything for Christian theology?

[...]

The discovery does not alter the belief of evangelical scholar Ben Witherington that Judas did indeed betray Jesus. "Well, it would mean among other things that Jesus had some kind of death wish, for a start," Witherington said. "And it would raise some questions about his character.

"I would think there are some questions of integrity that would be raised about that, for him to sort of script it in such a way that he's using his disciples to go and set this up would suggest a sort of level of hands-on intention to it, where he's not just submitting to the will of God in his life," Witherington said. "He's actually got his hands on the wheel, and he's driving the wheel of history in a particular direction. And some would find that troubling."

The scholars interviewed by "Primetime" agreed that the real importance of the Gospel of Judas is the window it provides into what some early Christians were thinking. But they acknowledged that some in the organized church will not like the discovery of this Gospel.

"Absolutely, they won't," Pagels said. "Some will be very offended, and they'll say this proves that all of those texts are rubbish, because it's an utterly preposterous idea that Judas could have been involved in a secret mystery with Jesus."

But that would miss the point, she added. "The Christian message is a message about faith and hope and, you know, the relationship between God and human beings. It's not a matter of historical fact."

Pagels said she hoped the find will have a big impact.

"I would hope that people appreciate the excitement of this discovery and recognize that it's all right to ask the kinds of questions that sometimes they're afraid to ask, and say, 'What else didn't we know about the early Christian movement? Could, for example, Judas be forgiven?'" she said.

"And when people start asking that question, they'll realize that it doesn't destroy faith, it actually can strengthen it. But it's a different kind of faith; it's informed by what we understand about our past."

Congress may consider mandatory ISP snooping | CNET News.com



Congress may consider mandatory ISP snooping | CNET News.com
:

"It didn't take long for the idea of forcing Internet providers to retain records of their users' activities to gain traction in the U.S. Congress.

Last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a Republican, gave a speech saying that data retention by Internet service providers is an 'issue that must be addressed.' Child pornography investigations have been 'hampered' because data may be routinely deleted, Gonzales warned.

Now, in a demonstration of bipartisan unity, a Democratic member of the Congressional Internet Caucus is preparing to introduce an amendment--perhaps during a U.S. House of Representatives floor vote next week--that would make such data deletion illegal.

Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette's proposal (click for PDF) says that any Internet service that 'enables users to access content' must permanently retain records that would permit police to identify each user. The records could not be discarded until at least one year after the user's account was closed.

It's not clear whether that requirement would be limited only to e-mail providers and Internet providers such as DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable modem services. An expansive reading of DeGette's measure would require every Web site to retain those records. (Details would be left to the Federal Communications Commission.)"

[...]

For their part, Internet providers say they have a long history of helping law enforcement in child porn cases and point out that two federal laws already require them to cooperate. It's also unclear that investigations are really being hindered, according to Kate Dean, director of the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association.

[...]

"Our main concern on the bill is privacy, protecting the privacy of everyone out there on the Internet, but also retention of those records so law enforcement officials will have access to them, so we just need to really tinker with the language," MacGillis said.

Child porn as surveillance excuse?
Critics of DeGette's proposal have said that, while the justification for Internet surveillance might be protecting children, the data would be accessible to any local or state law enforcement official investigating anything from drug possession to tax evasion. In addition, the one-year retention is a minimum; the FCC would receive the authority to require Internet companies to keep records "for not less than one year after a subscriber ceases to subscribe to such services."

Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the free-market Cato Institute, said: "This is an unrestricted grant of authority to the FCC to require surveillance."

"The FCC would be able to tell Internet service providers to monitor our e-mails, monitor our Web surfing, monitor what we post on blogs or chat rooms, and everything else under the sun," said Harper, a member of the Department of Homeland Security's Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee. "We're seeing a kind of hysteria reminiscent of the McMartin case. The result will be privacy that goes away and doesn't come back when the foolishness is exposed."

[...]

At the moment, Internet service providers typically discard any log file that's no longer required for business reasons such as network monitoring, fraud prevention or billing disputes. Companies do, however, alter that general rule when contacted by police performing an investigation--a practice called data preservation.

A 1996 federal law called the Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act regulates data preservation. It requires Internet providers to retain any "record" in their possession for 90 days "upon the request of a governmental entity."

In addition, Internet providers are required by another federal law to report child pornography sightings to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which is in turn is charged with forwarding that report to the appropriate police agency.

ABC News: Sleep Eaters Have No Idea They're Eating

ABC News: Sleep Eaters Have No Idea They're Eating:

"Ever since she was little, Amy Koecheler, a 22-year-old college senior in Eau Claire, Wis., has done something unusual: In the middle of the night, she gets out of bed to eat, without even waking up.

It is called sleep eating, which is a parasomnia, meaning an abnormal behavior during sleep. It's triggered by stress, alcohol, sleeping pills or, in Koecheler's case, genetics.

She isn't conscious during her nocturnal noshing, and has no memories, despite all the times she's done it.

'Not until the next morning, when I saw the evidence of the bowl from my cereal, or I had left the milk out, or the chips were on the couch and they were still open,' Koecheler said."

US urged to be tougher on Russia�|�Reuters.com

US urged to be tougher on Russia�|�Reuters.com:

"Republican Senator John McCain, a possible presidential contender, said Washington should be tougher on what he called President Vladimir Putin's autocratic rule and 'some perverted vision of a restoration of the Soviet empire'.

'In all the days of the Soviet Union, Russia never turned off the spigot of gas. Putin did,' McCain told an International Republican Institute lunch attended by Barroso.

The EU Commission president said Moscow had been a reliable energy supplier in the past and had an interest in secure demand from the EU and also in European investment, technology and know-how to get oil and gas out of the ground.

He criticized Moscow for refusing to ratify an international energy charter treaty that would force it to open its pipeline network to third-party suppliers.

It was up to Russians to decide whether they wanted 'a real democracy or a half-democracy', the head of the EU executive said. The quality of Europe's relations with Moscow would depend on that choice.

Barroso highlighted European concern at perceived efforts by Putin to use energy as an instrument of power politics with its neighbors and partners.

'We are seeing more frequently the use of energy resources as an instrument of political coercion,' the Commission chief said, without explicitly naming Moscow.

'Together, the EU and the United States must send a clear signal on the need for a paradigm shift on energy.'

The EU, depending on Russia for a quarter of its gas, is concerned that Moscow is keeping its pipeline network closed to competition, extending its network control westwards through Ukraine and Belarus, and trying to monopolize pipeline access to Central Asian gas supplies, notably in Turkmenistan."

Report Sets Stage For Action on Iran

Report Sets Stage For Action on Iran:

"The agency's toughest complaint concerned Iran's failure to provide a credible explanation for where it obtained materials used for small-scale experiments with plutonium. Plutonium separation is a process that can be used in weapons development.

'The agency cannot exclude the possibility -- not withstanding the explanations provided by Iran -- that the plutonium analysed by the agency was derived from source(s) other than the ones declared by Iran,' the report says.

The report says that in addition to the 164 centrifuges Iran was previously reported to be using in uranium enrichment experiments, two additional 164-centrifuge systems known as cascades are under construction, an indication that Iran is trying to step up its experiments.

Officials with knowledge of the Iranian program, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said that several centrifuges had crashed during the enrichment run last month and that the Iranians had cut many corners in a rush to demonstrate technical prowess.

The IAEA said Iran had refused to provide any explanation of public statements by Iranian officials concerning the testing of centrifuges known as P-2 models, which can enrich uranium more quickly and efficiently than the P-1 centrifuges currently in use can.

In addition, inspectors reported that since September, Iran has produced 110 tons of UF6, a key product used in the enrichment process. That is a higher amount than previously recorded.

Nuclear experts generally say Iran's program does not pose any immediate dangers to the outside world. 'If they don't have a plant that is able to operate for a significant time, then this doesn't pose a near- or mid-term threat,' said Michael Levi, a nuclear expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

But many experts are concerned that the capabilities gained from experiments -- even those done under the monitoring of the IAEA -- could help Iran conceal the rate of progress in its program.

'Conducting open experiments with uranium enrichment teaches you how to more effectively hide that work, avoid accidents and control emissions that might give away the program,' Levi said. He called Iran's ability to enrich uranium to 3.6 percent purity, as outlined in the report, an achievement."

Friday, April 28, 2006

Wired News: Terrorist, or Truth Seeker?

Wired News: Terrorist, or Truth Seeker?: "
Terrorist, or Truth Seeker?


Reuters 12:00 PM Apr, 28, 2006

LONDON -- To the United States, he is a seriously dangerous man who put the nation's security at risk by committing 'the biggest military computer hack of all time'.

But Briton Gary McKinnon says he is just an ordinary computer nerd who wanted to find out whether aliens and UFOs exist.

During his two-year quest, McKinnon broke into computers at the Pentagon, NASA and the Johnson Space Center as well as systems used by the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force.

U.S. officials say he caused $700,000 worth of damage and even crippled vital defense systems shortly after the Sept.11 attacks.

The unemployed computer programmer is now battling extradition to the United States, where, if found guilty, he faces up to 70 years in prison and fines of up to $1.75 million. His lawyer fears he could even be sent to Guantanamo Bay.

It's all a far cry from how he first got into hacking: watching a film about a teenage boy who breaks into a military central computer and almost starts World War III.

'I had seen the film War Games and I do remember clearly thinking at the time, that's amazing -- a great big military computer system and a young, spotty teenager,' the softly spoken 39-year-old told Reuters in an interview.

A decade later, McKinnon, armed with information gleaned from the book, The Hacker's Handbook, began his snooping.

During 2000-1 from his home in Hornsey, north London, and using a computer with just a limited 56K dial-up modem, he turned his sights on the American government and military.

'My main thing was wanting to find out about UFOs and suppressed technology,' he said insisting his intention was not to cause damage. 'I wanted to ... find out stuff the government wouldn't tell you about.'"

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Now that we've banned smoking, let's ban trains and boats too!

An email alert from the disgusting American Lung Association, which by the way doesn't give any money to people with Lung Cancer, just finds unpopular minorities to blame it on:

"Make a Difference by Cleaning Up Dirty Diesel Locomotive and Marine Engines

More than 150 million Americans still live in counties where they are exposed to unhealthful levels of air pollution, according to the American Lung Association State of the Air: 2006 report, released on April 27. Pollution from marine and locomotive sources are major contributors to the continuing air pollution problem in many areas.

Diesel locomotives and marine engines (boats, inland freighters, ferries, tugs and pleasure craft) are among the largest and most dangerous under-regulated sources of air pollution. They can legally pollute at levels higher than trucks, buses or heavy equipment (tractors, bulldozers) diesel engines. A typical train, for example, will emit as much particle pollution over its life as 500 trucks.

Locomotive and marine diesel emissions are estimated to cause 4,000 premature deaths annually, as well as some 2,000 annual ER visits for children with asthma attacks."

We started off with a made up figure, never proven, of 4,000 deaths a year from secondhand smoke. Now their made up figures are in the hundreds of thousands. But no one can name one person proven to die from second hand smoke. Never mind, it was never really about health in the first place. It's about control. Hey, how many people own pleasure craft? Not many? That makes them a minority, just like smokers! Great, let's demonize them now! Don't we all feel good standing together in a crowd and crushing a minority we feel are bad! There's something primal about it, which is why we do it over and over.

Guardian Unlimited Technology | Technology | Chirac unveils his grand plan to restore French pride

Guardian Unlimited Technology | Technology | Chirac unveils his grand plan to restore French pride: "

Chirac unveils his grand plan to restore French pride


Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
Wednesday April 26, 2006
The Guardian

The French president, Jacques Chirac, yesterday unveiled what he hopes will be his great legacy to France's struggle against the global dominance of the US: a series of technological projects including a European search engine to rival Google.

Mr Chirac, who walked out of an EU summit last month when a fellow Frenchman committed the grave offence of speaking English, styles himself as the defender of France in the globalised world.

After the biggest street protests in decades forced him to stage a U-turn on employment reform last month, Mr Chirac is keener than ever to be remembered for doing something positive for French pride. Yesterday, he announced that he would provide €2bn (�1.4bn) in funding for a series of innovative grands projets, including a Franco-German search engine to compete with Google and Yahoo!.

Named Quaero - Latin for 'I search' - the search engine aims to be the first to efficiently sort through audio, images and video. It would search the growing array of podcasts and videoclips on the web and deliver the information to computers and mobile phones. Quaero has been a pet project of Mr Chirac's for some time. In his new year speech at the Elysee Palace, he spoke of the need to 'take up the global challenge posed by Google and Yahoo!'.

But his plan is not without its sceptics. The French satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchanhas mocked the project's funding as paltry in comparison with Microsoft or Google. Mike Lynch, chief executive of Autonomy, a Cambridge-based search software firm, wrote to the Financial Times calling the plan 'a blatant case of misguided and unnecessary nationalism' and warning that by the time Quaero is developed the market will have moved on."

Iran has nuclear capable missiles that put Europe in range: report | Reuters.com

Iran has missiles that put Europe in range:

report|Reuters.com
: "JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Iran has received a first shipment of missiles from North Korea that are capable of reaching Europe, Israel's military intelligence chief was quoted on Thursday as saying.

Known in the West as BM-25s, the Russian-designed missiles have a range of around 1,500 miles, giving them a longer reach than the Iranian-made Shihab-4 missiles which are capable of hitting Israel.

The intelligence chief, Major-General Amos Yadlin, was quoted by Israel's Haaretz newspaper as saying in a lecture on Wednesday that some BM-25s had arrived in Iran.

The BM-25 was originally manufactured in the Soviet Union, where it was known as the SSN6, a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, Haaretz reported.

After the Russians decommissioned the SSN6, the missiles were sold to North Korea, which adapted them to carry a heavier payload, the newspaper's military affairs correspondent said.

In February, a German diplomat, citing his country's intelligence data, confirmed a German newspaper report that said Iran had purchased 18 disassembled BM-25s from North Korea."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

MySA.com: Bee County leaders urging boycott of Exxon Mobil

MySA.com: Business:

"'I don't know what they are trying to accomplish,' she said. 'It's not going to make a difference on the cost of fuel, but it is a direct impact on us. It's ridiculous. There's nothing we can do about (gas prices).'

Mu�oz said dropping the price of gas at the family's stores from $2.79, as it was Tuesday, to $1.30 would leave them bankrupt.

But the concerns don't stop at the county government level.

In Washington, there's widespread grumbling about why the federal government is handing out billions in subsidies and tax breaks to oil companies that continue to raise prices on taxpayers.

Martinez said he hopes Bee County's resolution will further spark discussions in the board rooms of the nation's largest oil companies.

'The Commissioners Court said, 'Enough is enough,'' the judge said. 'We have to stand up for our people.'

Not everyone in the county is embracing the resolution.

'I think it's crazy,' said Katryna Rincon, 32, who was filling up at The Pantry South. 'I don't think it will really work.'

Rincon said she would continue filling up at the gas station even after the boycott begins next week.

County officials said they targeted Exxon Mobil because they are the largest oil company in the United States and hoped competitors, like San Antonio-based Valero, would be motivated to enter into a price war, driving the cost of fuel down.

Both the National Association of Convenience Stores and the American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday the county's efforts were misguided.

API spokeswoman Jane Van Ryan said major oil corporations own fewer than 10 percent, or about 16,000, of the nation's convenience stores.

And, she said, the price of fuel is determined long before it reaches the pump. Van Ryan said the bulk of its cost, about 60 percent, is determined by the price of crude oil, which rose to record levels last week.

'I understand politicians wanting to show action on behalf of their constituents,' said John Eichberger, the NACS' vice president of governmental relations. 'But, boycotts are the least effective and most destructive outlet for consumers in regards to the markets.'

Van Ryan and Eichberger blamed the higher gas prices on instability in oil producing nations, regulations that determine how gas is manufactured and increasing demand."

We need more economic lessons in this country. And besides, bottom line. Let the oil companies charge whatever they want. It's THEIR oil! Private property! Once the government sticks its nose into this, prices will rise even more, or we will have shortages. When government put more regulations on the oil companies before, and drained their profits, it meant they had less money to spend on finding new sources of oil, and environment regulations made it more expensive, so now we buy most of oil from the Middle East and Venezuala. That was stupid. Also, about 25% of the price of gas at the pump is taxes. Where's the outrage over the greed of the government?

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Rice and Rumsfeld hail Iraq's PM

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Rice and Rumsfeld hail Iraq's PM:

"Rice and Rumsfeld hail Iraq's PM
Nouri Maliki
Mr Maliki's nomination ends months of wrangling over the role
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has praised Iraq's new prime minister, saying he is focused on and committed to forming a national unity government.

Ms Rice was speaking after she and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met the PM, Nouri Maliki, in Baghdad.

'He was really impressive,' Ms Rice said after their talks, while Mr Rumsfeld said he was 'most encouraged'.

Mr Maliki is trying to put together a government after months of deadlock and start the work of curbing Iraqi unrest.

The visit by two of the most senior members of the Bush administration was aimed at encouraging Mr Maliki to push forward with assembling a broad-based coalition.

They held a 50-minute meeting at the US ambassador's residence in the highly fortified Green Zone.

'He understood his role and the role of the new government to really demonstrate that it's a government of national unity in which all Iraqis could trust,' Ms Rice said.

'We came expecting to say that the ministries also needed to be ministries of national unity, just like it was government of national unity, only to hear him say it first.'"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

BREITBART.COM - Iran Ready to Transfer Nuclear Know-How

BREITBART.COM - Iran Ready to Transfer Nuclear Know-How:

"Iran Ready to Transfer Nuclear Know-How

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran

Iran's supreme leader said Tuesday that the country is ready to transfer its nuclear technology to other countries. Meanwhile, Tehran threatened to halt all cooperation with the U.N. atomic energy agency if the U.N. Security Council imposes sanctions, warning that it might hide its nuclear program if the West takes any other 'harsh measures.'

Iran's warning to the U.N. watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, came from Tehran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani. They were the strongest words of defiance yet ahead of a Friday deadline, set by the Security Council, for Iran to suspend enrichment of uranium, a process that can produce fuel for nuclear reactors or material for warheads.

'Military action against Iran will not end our program,' Larijani said at a conference on the energy program. 'If you take harsh measures, we will hide this program. If you use the language of force, you should not expect us to act transparently.'

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice immediately shot back, saying Iran's statements were further isolating it from the international community.

'Iranians can threaten, but they are deepening their own isolation,' she said in Athens."

[...]

China and Russia, which are permanent, veto-wielding members of the council, oppose sanctions and both called Tuesday for more negotiations.

"We see no alternative to the negotiations process," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency while in Beijing for a regional anti-terrorism meeting.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang urged all parties "to show flexibility," saying the international community should not abandon efforts for a peaceful settlement.

Tuesday's comments were not the first time Iran has threatened to curb cooperation. Several months ago, Tehran announced it would not honor the IAEA's so-called "additional protocol," which gave the agency increased and more thorough inspection powers.

But Larijani said this time that Iran would suspend its cooperation altogether if sanctions were imposed.

"How are you going to prevent our nuclear activities by imposing sanctions? If U.N. Security Council sanctions are to be imposed on Iran, we will definitely suspend our cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency," Larijani said. He added that Western countries on the IAEA board "have to understand they cannot resolve this issue through force."

He also hinted that sanctions or even what he called coercive language from the Security Council would cause Iran to speed up its nuclear activities.

"You can't set a framework through coercion. If you try to do it by force, our response will be to break such a framework," he said.

Monday, April 24, 2006

courant.com | FAT IS THE NEW SMOKING Here's How The Public Health War On Obesity Will Unfold

courant.com | FAT IS THE NEW SMOKING Here's How The Public Health War On Obesity Will Unfold:

"FAT IS THE NEW SMOKING Here's How The Public Health War On Obesity Will Unfold
April 23, 2006
By William Saletan

Goodbye, war on smoking. Hello, war on fat.

In a span of two months, smoking bans have been imposed in Scotland, enacted in England, Denmark and Uruguay, proposed by the government of Portugal and endorsed by the French public. China has banned new cigarette factories. In Virginia, our third most prolific tobacco-producing state, senators voted to ban smoking in nearly all public places. The Arkansas legislature, backed by a Republican governor, passed a similar ban and voted to extend this policy to cars in which a child is present. Tobacco companies have won a few skirmishes, but always in retreat.

So we've found a new enemy: obesity. Two years ago, the U.S. government discovered that the targets of previous crusades - booze, sex, guns and cigarettes - were killing a smaller percentage of Americans than they used to. The one thing you're not allowed to do in a culture war is win it, so we searched the mortality data for the next big menace.

The answer was as plain as the other chin on your face. Obesity, federal officials told us, would soon surpass tobacco as the chief cause of preventable death. They compared it to the Black Death and the Asian tsunami. They sent a team of 'disease detectives' to West Virginia to investigate an obesity outbreak. Last month, Surgeon General Richard Carmona called obesity 'the terror within' and said it would 'dwarf 9/11.'

How do we fight it? Everyone agrees on exercise and eating responsibly. The debate is over what the government should do. Health advocates want to restrict junk food sales, regulate advertising, require more explicit labels and ban trans fats (also known as partially hydrogenated oils), which are often put into crackers, cookies and other products to prolong shelf life.

They marshal the kind of evidence that won the war on smoking: correlations between soda, junk food, obesity, disease and death.

Lawyers who made their fortunes suing tobacco companies are preparing lawsuits against soda companies. Two months ago, when President Bush gave a health care speech at the headquarters of Wendy's, activists compared the hamburger chain to Philip Morris. They see themselves waging the same brave struggle, this time against 'the food industry.'"

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Flopping Aces � Blog Archive � The Democrat Mole In The CIA Fired

Flopping Aces � Blog Archive � The Democrat Mole In The CIA Fired

Let's Play Connect the Dots

Let’s connect some dots in the Mary McCarthy CIA leak tale, shall we? (Hat tip: WordWarp).

Mary McCarthy leaks the secret CIA prisons story to Dana Priest, in what may have been a sting operation.

Mary McCarthy and Joe Wilson served at the NSC together at the same time, both with African portfolios.

Does Dana Priest’s Husband Get Joe Wilson Media Gigs?

Did Mary McCarthy Send Joe Wilson To Niger?

The Observer | Magazine | Julian Dibbell repors on 'women's viagra'

The Observer | Magazine | Julian Dibbell repors on 'women's viagra': "

Let us spray

Billed as libido in an atomiser, PT-141 will finally offer women the chance to turn on their sexual desire as and when they need it. Or so the science says. But there are concerns. Will sex in a spray usher in an age of 'McNookie' - quick easy couplings low on emotional nutrition? Julian Dibbell reports

Sunday April 23, 2006
The Observer

Horn of rhinoceros. Penis of tiger. Root of sea holly. Husk of the emerald-green blister beetle known as the Spanish fly. So colourful and exotic is the list of substances that have been claimed to heighten sexual appetite that it is hard not to feel a twinge of disappointment on first beholding the latest entry - a small, white plastic nasal inhaler containing an odourless, colourless synthetic chemical called PT-141. Plain as it is, however, there is one thing that distinguishes PT-141 from the 4,000 years' worth of recorded medicinal aphrodisiacs that precede it: this one actually works.

And it could reach the market in as little as three years. The full range of possible risks and side effects has yet to be determined, but already this much is known: a dose of PT-141 results, in most cases, in a stirring in the loins in as little as 15 minutes. Women, according to one set of results, feel 'genital warmth, tingling and throbbing', not to mention 'a strong desire to have sex'.

Among men who have been tested with the drug more extensively, the data set is richer: 'With PT-141, you feel good,' reported anonymous patient 007: 'not only sexually aroused, you feel younger and more energetic.' According to another patient, 'It helped the libido. So you have the urge and the desire...' Tales of pharmaceutically induced sexual prowess among 58-year-olds are common enough in the age of the Little Blue Pill, but they don't typically involve quite so urgent a repertoire. Or, as patient 128 put it: 'My wife knows. She can tell the difference between Viagra and PT-141.'

The precise mechanisms by which PT-141 does its job remain unclear, but the rough idea is this: where Viagra acts on the circulatory system, helping blood flow into the penis, PT-141 goes to the brain itself. 'It's not merely allowing a sexual response to take place more easily,' explains Michael A Perelman, co-director of the Human Sexuality Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital and a sexual-medicine adviser on the PT-141 trials. 'It may be having an effect, literally, on how we think and feel.'"

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Are Sodas the New Cigarettes? (from the Washington Times)

Are Sodas the New Cigarettes?

By Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H.
Posted: Thursday, March 16, 2006

EDITORIAL
Publication Date: March 16, 2006

This piece originally appeared March 16, 2006 in the Washington Times:

Judging from recent media coverage, soda is quickly gaining on cigarettes for the title of No. 1 Public Health Threat.

Soft drinks now stand accused of being largely responsible for an epidemic of obesity in America -- especially among children. Public health advocates, university scientists, legislators, and litigators claim because of an overwhelming and consistent array of scientific evidence linking obesity with soda consumption, the time has come for punitive action against beverage manufacturers and their nefarious products.

The purported solution to obesity in America? Ban soda in schools, put a stiff "junk food" tax on these drinks, put stringent restrictions on where the product can be sold and slap a stern health warning label on all the cans and bottles.

This demonization of soft drinks as the culprit in the obesity crisis urgently cries out for some perspective:

(1) True, obesity is a serious public health risk in America. A growing number of both adults and children are overweight to the point that their heath is jeopardized. Obesity raises the risk of a full spectrum of ailments including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, including breast cancer in older women.

(2) Too many Americans underestimate how many calories are consumed in liquid form -- but that is true whether that liquid is juice, beer, milk, or soda. I recall my daughter's concern about her weight gain during the first year of college. A quick analysis of her dietary changes revealed she had added four or five bottles of Snapple per day -- easily an extra 500 calories daily.

(3) Long-term weight gain is not explained by consuming one category of food or drink. Excessive calories from any food source and insufficient exercise quickly add extra pounds.

(4) A twelve-ounce soda provides 160 calories. But so do most similar servings of fruit juice or sports drinks. Those concerned about weight gain should cut calories from various different sources. Switching to diet sodas (zero or minimal calories) is a logical place to start. But somehow recent anti-soda advocates overlook this obvious solution, instead condemning all sodas and telling us we and our kids should drink only water.

(5) The science purportedly linking soda and obesity is very weak indeed. Claims that the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used in soda makes consumers crave sweets through some inherent biological mechanism are unproven conjecture. The fact the dramatic obesity rise began just after HFCS was introduced twenty-five years ago does not meet the classic epidemiologic criteria for "causation": it is simply an association.

(6) The increasing comparison of soda and cigarettes -- as if they posed comparable health threats -- is truly appalling. Headlines such as "Food scientists dub soft drinks 'cigarettes' of obesity epidemic" are not only baseless but offensive. Soft drinks are safe and do not threaten health when used in moderation. No such statement can be made about cigarettes.

Ethanol sucks

Ethanol is good, except when it's not
Carney Op-Ed in AFF Brainwash
by Timothy Carney

The Bush administration, like the Clinton administration and the first Bush administration, say that we subsidize ethanol because it's good for the planet. They explain that when ethanol is burnt in a car engine, it gives off much less pollution and CO2 than does petroleum. On that very specific claim, they are correct. However, some scientists argue that ethanol, on the whole, is worse for the planet: it leads farmers to plant only corn, thus degrading the soil; the fuel needed to grow, distill, and ship the ethanol is more than the end product yields; and it evaporates more easily, leading to more hydrocarbons in the air. But the federal government doesn't give these claims or studies much weight.



So, ethanol producers and sellers get all sorts of tax breaks, free gifts, and waivers from environmental rules. Congress has recently voted to mandate we use ethanol. The mandates and subsidies are needed, presumably, because few consumers would choose ethanol of their own free will, it being costlier. But we owe it to our planet, the politicians tell us, to use ethanol, whether we like it or not.



But our government is much more nuanced in its understanding than that. U.S.-made ethanol is good. Foreign ethanol, on the other hand, is bad. You see, one of the subsidies Uncle Sam gives ethanol is a break in federal taxes, worth about 52 cents per gallon of ethanol sold. This tax break happens when the fuel refiner sells his fuel to gas stations. That means the refiner can get the break by selling ethanol from Iowa or from Brazil. That, however, would be unacceptable.



So, Uncle Sam imposes a special tariff on imported ethanol of 54 cents per gallon. You see, Washington is ready to spend your money (or shift a higher portion of the tax burden onto your shoulders) to encourage ethanol, which is good for the air, but only if it is good, homegrown ethanol. Is the foreign ethanol any dirtier? No. Actually, because it's easier to turn sugar into ethanol than corn, Caribbean or South American ethanol might be cleaner on net.

New York Department of Health to review Diabetics private medical records, phone them and lecture them on their health status

Mayor Bloomberg, M.D. (from the New York Sun)


By Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H.
Posted: Tuesday, April 4, 2006

EDITORIAL
Publication Date: April 4, 2006

This article appeared on April 4, 2006 in the New York Sun:

In an effort to curb the rapidly increasing health threat of diabetes in New York City, the Bloomberg administration earlier this year mandated that medical laboratories report the results of special diabetes-monitoring blood tests, along with the name and contact information of patients, to the City Department of Health. While efforts to reduce the devastating health consequences of diabetes are laudable, the violation of patient confidentiality and the precedent set by this new regulation should be the source of grave concern to all New Yorkers.

Diabetes is now among the leading causes of death in the city -- and its incidence is rapidly increasing. Genetics (family history) plays a major role -- African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics are much more susceptible to diabetes than whites, for instance. Obesity is a major risk factor for the disease. If not managed prudently, diabetes causes kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes, and other life-threatening or debilitating illnesses. There is good reason for the city's public health establishment to be concerned.

Given that diabetes prevention (through weight control) and management (through diet planning, exercise, monitoring, and medications) are matters of personal commitment and responsibility, the disease cannot be "solved" by government intervention that goes beyond educational programs. But that is exactly what this new city mandate does: not only is personal medical data now being reported to city officials, but the Department of Health is now doing what they call "interventions": diabetics will receive letters and phone calls from city officials offering guidance on dealing with the disease. If you wish to keep your medical data confidential, you cannot. If you want to avoid "interventions," you must have sophistication and knowledge enough to fill out forms requesting that you not be contacted.

The mandated reporting of diabetes tests is the first such reporting program aimed at countering a non-communicable disease. But the Department of Health admits that this is only a first step in an emerging public health philosophy that assigns to government the responsibility for reducing the rates of chronic disease -- apparently in an effort to replicate the success of vaccination and chlorination programs, which reduced the toll of infectious disease in the last century.

The problem is that many of the leading chronic diseases are related to personal lifestyle factors like smoking, overeating, and sedentary living -- factors that, in a free society, do not easily lend themselves to government intervention.

Given the complete lack of protest in response to the new mandated diabetes reporting and tracking scheme (which, by the way, no New York City newspaper has thoroughly reported, although the regulation took effect in January), it is highly likely that we will see proposals to mandate reporting of serum cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and body mass indices, followed by city interventions to prod us into changing our behavior to reduce the risks of heart attack, stroke, and the spectrum of maladies associated with obesity.

This new diabetes regulation is, in short, a harbinger of more intrusive legislation to come -- all in the name of "public health." It is high time to reflect on the question of what role (beyond education) the government should play in implementing "interventions" meant to protect us from ourselves. At the very least, the citizens of New York should have been given an opportunity to weigh in on this issue before it was implemented.

ACSH > Facts & Fears > Secondhand smoke danger overstated big time!

ACSH > Facts & Fears > Archives:

"Second, the anti-smoking movement has gone off the deep end over secondhand smoke (also known as environmental tobacco smoke).

Sure, exposure to cigarette smoke has all types of negative acute effects, including increased risk of earaches, inner ear infections, asthma, upper respiratory ailments, and more. No argument about that. And it smells nasty, makes your clothes and hair stink, and can ruin a perfectly nice dinner (ACSH did a report in 1999 on the limited but real effects of secondhand smoke).

But anti-smokers can't let it rest at that. They claim that even transient exposure to secondhand smoke causes everything from breast cancer to heart disease.

A few egregious examples: a leading tobacco researcher made the improbable claim that the smoking ban in Helena, Montana resulted in a 40% decline in heart attack admissions in a six-month period after the ban. 'We used to think that heart disease came after years of exposure' said Dr. Richard Sargent, an anti-smoking Montana physician, who then went on to argue that even short-term exposure to exhaled smoke can damage the heart: 'if you go into a restaurant for a sandwich, if you go into a bar for a beer, and you get exposed to a heavy amount of secondhand smoke, you're just as at risk for a heart attack as a smoker.'

Sargent, vice chairman of the Montana Tobacco Advisory Board, noted that secondhand smoke has 'an acute, rapid effect on the heart...[T]hirty minutes of exposure doubles your risk for the next forty-eight hours.'

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights makes similar claims: 'even a half hour of secondhand smoke exposure causes heart damage similar to that of habitual smokers. Nonsmokers' heart arteries showed a reduced ability to dilate, diminishing the ability of the heart to get life-giving blood.'

Give me a break.

While being exposed to cigarette smoke for hours a day for many years certainly could have negative effects, it is unacceptable to use such exaggerated claims to justify a ban on smoking.

The good news is that the radical anti-smoking movement may at last have met its, er, match. Dr. Michael Siegel, a physician specializing in preventive medicine -- and an anti-smoking activist in his own right -- is taking on these hyperbolists. In his Tobacco Analysis blog, he calls these claims -- often used to justify outdoor smoking bans -- 'ridiculous.'

Funny thing about communication in science and medicine. When a politically correct theory or claim takes hold and is loudly trumpeted ( as in 'secondhand smoke, even in trace amounts, kills'), dissenters are terrified to step forward and challenge that theory lest (a) they be called apologists for, in this case, the cigarette industry or (b) they be accused of not getting on the bandwagon of what is an inherently good public health cause.

At this point, with their hype and self-righteousness, the anti-smokers really have gone too far -- they have triggered a counterattack. Stay tuned for a major magazine expose by a well-known journalist (and network TV segment) on the smoke-and-mirrors statistics being spewed out by anti-smokers who decry the health effects of secondhand smoke to justify banning even outdoor smoking.

The moral of the story: stick to science. Cigarette smoking is a multi-faceted disaster for the smoker and for those who are exposed to secondhand smoke for long periods of time. Nothing is to be gained by exaggerating this already-grim story to get even more attention. The only result of such hyperbole is the loss of credibility of the public health profession."

Friday, April 21, 2006

CNN.com - Doc's diagnosis: Nail gun caused headache - Apr 21, 2006

CNN.com - Doc's diagnosis: Nail gun caused headache - Apr 21, 2006:

"PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) -- An Oregon man who went to a hospital complaining of a headache was found to have 12 nails embedded in his skull from a suicide attempt with a nail gun, doctors say.

Surgeons removed the nails with needle-nosed pliers and a drill, and the man survived with no serious lasting effects, according to a report on the medical oddity in the current issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery.

The unidentified 33-year-old man was suicidal and high on methamphetamine last year when he fired the nails -- up to 2 inches in length -- into his head one by one.

The nails were not visible when doctors first examined the man in the emergency room of an unidentified Oregon hospital a day later. Doctors were surprised when X-rays revealed six nails clustered between his right eye and ear, two below his right ear and four on the left side of his head.

The study did not say how long the nails were, and a hospital spokeswoman refused to release that information. A photo published in the study suggests the nails range from 1 1/2 to 2 inches long.

No one before is known to have survived after intentionally firing so many foreign objects into the head, according to the report, written by Dr. G. Alexander West, the neurosurgeon who oversaw the treatment of the patient.

The man at first told doctors he had had a nail gun accident, but later admitted it was a suicide attempt.

The nails came close to major blood vessels and the brain stem but did not pierce them. The patient was in remarkably good condition when he was transferred to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, where the nails were removed."

Shiites choose nominee for Iraq prime minister

USATODAY.com - Shiites choose nominee for Iraq prime minister:

"BAGHDAD (AP) — The Shiite alliance nominated a tough-talking Shiite politician, Jawad al-Maliki, as prime minister Friday in a move that breaks the long impasse over forming a new government aimed at pulling Iraq out of its sectarian strife.

Al-Maliki replaces outgoing Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, whose attempt to stay for a second term had raised sharp opposition from Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders and caused a deadlock that lasted months as the country's security crisis worsened in the wake of last December's election.

ON DEADLINE BLOG: Who is Maliki?

Sunni and Kurdish politicians signaled they would accept al-Maliki — a close ally of al-Jaafari in the Shiite Dawa Party — clearing the way for parliament on Saturday to elect top leadership positions, including the president, and launch the process of putting together a government.

U.S. and Iraqi officials are hoping that a national unity government representing Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds will be able to quell both the Sunni-led insurgency and bloody Shiite-Sunni violence that has raged during the political uncertainty. If it succeeds, it could enable the U.S. to begin bringing home its 133,000 troops.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Bush administration is hopeful that the latest political developments in Iraq will lead to significant progress in forming a permanent government.

'We hope to see good progress in the coming days,' McClellan told reporters traveling with President Bush to California. 'We'll be watching.'

Violence continued Friday with at least 21 people killed, including six in a car bombing in Tal Afar and six off-duty Iraqi soldiers slain in Beiji, police said. The U.S. military announced that a Marine was fatally injured in combat Thursday in Anbar province.

Al-Maliki has a reputation as a hardline, outspoken defender of the Shiite stance — raising questions over whether he will be able to negotiate the delicate sectarian balancing act.

From exile in Syria in the 1980s and 1990s, he directed Dawa guerrillas fighting Saddam Hussein's regime. Since returning home after Saddam's fall, he has been a prominent member of the commission purging former Baath Party officials from the military and government. Sunni Arabs, who made up the backbone of Saddam's ousted party, deeply resent the commission.

Al-Maliki was also a tough negotiator in drawn-out deliberations over a new constitution that was passed last year despite Sunni Arab objections. He resisted U.S. efforts to put more Sunnis on the drafting committee as well as Sunni efforts to water down provisions giving Shiites and Kurds the power to form semiautonomous mini-states in the north and south.

In talks Friday, the largest party in the seven-member Shiite alliance — the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq — initially pushed for the nomination of another Dawa party leader, Ali al-Adeeb, seen as more moderate and less likely to alienate Sunnis.

But Dawa insisted on al-Maliki, who is closer to al-Jaafari. Al-Adeeb, who spent part of his 20-year exile in Iran, was said to have frequent conflicts with al-Jaafari.

SCIRI backed off as Sunnis and Kurds said they could accept al-Maliki, apparently out of eagerness to end the political deadlock as long as al-Jaafari was out of the picture.

'If anyone is nominated except al-Jaafari, we won't put any obstacles in his way. He will receive our support,' Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the main Sunni Arab coalition in parliament, told The Associated Press.

Saleh al-Mutlaq, a leading Sunni politician who was also in the constitutional drafting committee, said al-Maliki is 'firmer and a much more insistent' person than al-Jaafari. But he said that despite his toughness, al-Maliki was 'practical' and more flexible.

'I think if al-Maliki worked hard to get rid of his Baath party complexes, he will succeed,' al-Mutlaq said.

Sunnis and Kurds had blamed the rise of sectarian tensions on al-Jaafari for failing to rein in Shiite militias and Interior Ministry commandos, accused by the Sunnis of harboring death squads. Those parties refused to join any government headed by al-Jaafari.

Al-Jaafari, who has served as prime minister since April 2005, was nominated by the alliance for a second term in February by a one-vote margin, relying on support from radical, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Since then, al-Jaafari had stalwartly rejected pressure to give up the post, until Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, sent word that he should go. On Thursday, al-Jaafari gave the alliance the go-ahead to pick a new nominee.

With the deal on al-Maliki, Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties were set to fill the other top posts of government in a parliament vote expected Saturday, said Humam Hammoudi, the spokesman for the Shiite alliance.

Shiite lawmaker Ridha Jawad Taqi said all sides were agreed on a package deal for the top spots: Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, would remain as president for a second term, with Sunni Arab Tariq al-Hashimi and Shiite Adil Abdul-Mahdi holding the two vice president spots."

Iran’s leader hails rising oil prices - Oil & Energy - MSNBC.com

Iran’s leader hails rising oil prices - Oil & Energy - MSNBC.com:

"TEHRAN, Iran - Iran’s president said on Friday the rise in oil price was “very good,” Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported, emphasizing the hawkish position of the world’s fourth largest oil exporter as crude prices have hit record levels.

“The increase of the oil price and growth of oil income is very good and we hope that the oil prices reach their real levels,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said as he toured an oil exhibition in Tehran, the agency reported.

He did not say what those real levels should be. But these and other earlier remarks suggest he believes crude prices should rise above this week’s record high of over $74 a barrel. On Friday, European Brent crude fell below $73."

Wave of Violent Crime Sweeps Venezuela

Wave of Violent Crime Sweeps Venezuela

Venezuela is among the most violent places in Latin America, and critics of President Hugo Chavez are increasingly accusing him of failing to make crime a priority.

The government says it is making progress on the problem, but a series of particularly heinous murders sparked protests earlier this month by people demanding safer streets, and more rallies are planned for Saturday. While crime has long bedeviled Venezuelans, particularly the poor, some protesters say there's a new element to the danger now - class tensions incited by Chavez himself.

"There has always been crime, but not like this. Now they open fire and that's it," said Freddy Dos Santos, standing beside his father, who lay wounded on a gurney at a public hospital.



Relatives of 89-year-old Rodolfo Dos Santos, who was breathing through an oxygen mask, said he was shot while driving to a construction site to pay his workers. He had just braked at a hilltop when a teenager approached and shouted: "Stop!"

Dos Santos yelled for help. The teenager fired, wounding him in the chest, and then fled.

Dos Santos' son accused Chavez of virtually ignoring crime while also inciting the poor: "The president is always saying it's OK to steal in order to eat."

Chavez has not used those exact words, but he regularly launches into tirades against wealthy Venezuelans. "The rich are condemned to hell. Christ himself condemned them," Chavez said in a speech Tuesday. "I say it from the heart: to be rich is evil."

Class tension has long been a part of life in the South American country, where armed robberies, carjackings and kidnappings are frequent.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

F.D.A. Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana - New York Times

F.D.A. Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana - New York Times:

"The Food and Drug Administration statement directly contradicts a 1999 review by the Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific advisory agency. That review found marijuana to be 'moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting.'

Dr. John Benson, co-chairman of the Institute of Medicine committee that examined the research into marijuana's effects, said in an interview that the statement on Thursday and the combined review by other agencies were wrong.

The federal government 'loves to ignore our report,' said Dr. Benson, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. 'They would rather it never happened.'

Some scientists and legislators said the agency's statement about marijuana demonstrated that politics had trumped science.

'Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the F.D.A. making pronouncements that seem to be driven more by ideology than by science,' said Dr. Jerry Avorn, a medical professor at Harvard Medical School."

[...]

But scientists who study the medical use of marijuana said in interviews that the federal government had actively discouraged research. Lyle E. Craker, a professor in the division of plant and soil sciences at the University of Massachusetts, said he submitted an application to the D.E.A. in 2001 to grow a small patch of marijuana to be used for research because government-approved marijuana, grown in Mississippi, was of poor quality.

In 2004, the drug enforcement agency turned Dr. Craker down. He appealed and is awaiting a judge's ruling. "The reason there's no good evidence is that they don't want an honest trial," Dr. Craker said.

Dr. Donald Abrams, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said he had studied marijuana's medicinal effects for years but had been frustrated because the National Institutes of Health, the leading government medical research agency, had refused to finance such work.

With financing from the State of California, Dr. Abrams undertook what he said was a rigorous, placebo-controlled trial of marijuana smoking in H.I.V. patients who suffered from nerve pain. Smoking marijuana proved effective in ameliorating pain, Dr. Abrams said, but he said he was having trouble getting the study published.

"One wonders how anyone" could fulfill the Food and Drug Administration request for well-controlled trials to prove marijuana's benefits, he said.

Marinol, a synthetic version of a marijuana component, is approved to treat anorexia associated with AIDS and the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer drug therapy.

GW Pharmaceutical, a British company, has received F.D.A. approval to test a sprayed extract of marijuana in humans. Called Sativex, the drug is made from marijuana and is approved for sale in Canada. Opponents of efforts to legalize marijuana for medicinal uses suggest that marijuana is a so-called gateway drug that often leads users to try more dangerous drugs and to addiction.

But the Institute of Medicine report concluded there was no evidence that marijuana acted as a gateway to harder drugs. And it said there was no evidence that medical use of marijuana would increase its use among the general population.

Dr. Daniele Piomelli, a professor of pharmacology at the University of California, Irvine, said he had "never met a scientist who would say that marijuana is either dangerous or useless."

Studies clearly show that marijuana has some benefits for some patients, Dr. Piomelli said.

"We all agree on that," he said.

Why a strong economy is no GOP asset | csmonitor.com

Why a strong economy is no GOP asset | csmonitor.com:

"WASHINGTON – Of all the problems Republicans face heading into the fall political season, one of the most exasperating is the economy.

In many ways, they say, these are the best of times: Unemployment is at 4.7 percent, lower than the averages of the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. The economy is showing strong, consistent growth, without significant inflation. And the stock market is roaring along."

We Need a Fence!

We Need a Fence!:

"... that's why we're promoting a state-of-the-art border fence between the U.S. and Mexico.

The Fence:
What kind of fence are we proposing? [LEARN MORE]


The Problem:
Understanding the illegal immigration problem: [LEARN MORE]

* Illegal immigration into the United States is out of control, particularly across our southern border.
* Several members of Congress and Governors have declared states of emergency.
* The problem is not merely the number of illegal immigrants. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from Central and South America, there are several hundreds, perhaps thousands, of illegal aliens from countries that sponsor terrorism or harbor terrorists entering the United States each year across our border with Mexico. Thus, it is a national security issue as well as an immigration issue.

[LEARN MORE]


The Solution:
Why is a fence the right solution? [LEARN MORE]

* A secure, state-of-the-art border fence must be one element of any comprehensive effort to address the illegal immigration problem. Similar fences in Israel have reduced terrorist attacks by up to 95%.
* Until the border is secured and the tide of illegal immigration is stemmed, proposals to adjust immigration quotas, whether up or down, are doomed to ineffectiveness.
* A border fence is entirely compatible with a guest worker program. In fact, a guest worker program would be reduced to irrelevance without such a fence.

[LEARN MORE]"

FT.com / World / Middle East & Africa - Iraqi PM's climbdown helps ease deadlock

FT.com / World / Middle East & Africa - Iraqi PM's climbdown helps ease deadlock:

By Steve Negus, Iraq correspondent

The Iraqi prime minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari yesterday opened the way to the formation of a new government by agreeing to let his Shia allies reconsider his candidacy.

Mr Jaafari, the candidate of the Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance, the largest group in parliament following December's elections, had become a major stumbling block to the creation of a national unity government, with both Kurdish and Sunni political leaders opposed to his candidacy.

As late as Wednesday, Mr Jaafari - who won the nomination by a single vote in February - had insisted that he would remain in his post as prime minister despite the growing calls for him to step down from not just from Kurds and Sunni but also secularists, and even some fellow UIA members."

MercuryNews.com :: Joan Miro voted worst artist of all time

MercuryNews.com

Joan Miro was today recognized as one of the worst artists of all time. His art was stupid, and indeed was not really art at all. People the world over are trying desperately to forget that he ever existed!
The Artist's Forgetting committee has asked that people not speak of Miro, or exhibit his work, or even acknowledge that he ever existed. A member of the committee, asking not to be named, said he wished that Joan Miro had never been born. However by ignoring and deploring his work, hopefully no one will ever learn more about Joan Miro, or view his art, or ever think about him.
Why waste your money buying books about someone who hated your guts anyway? Why waste money seeing some art snobs stuff in a museum when they detest you and mock you as a capitalist because you work 8 hours a day for your living, while artists are in fact the greediest people on earth? So greedy they don't want anyone to write about them, or learn about them, or talk about them, because you should pay them money to even hear their name? People around the world are starting to realize that art isn't something you buy, it's something you make. It's something you live! Make your own art, and never give famous artists like the family of Joan Miro a penny of your money. Truth is, they despise you!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Are Oil Companies Ripping us off with Gas Prices?


Inflation Adjusted Crude Oil Prices Chart:

"Are Oil Companies Ripping us off with Gas Prices?

October 17, 2005

by Tim McMahon

Recently Gas at the pump has jumped almost exponentially while crude oil prices have stabilized and even have fallen a bit giving rise to the question... are they really correlated?

The chart to the right shows the correlation between the average annual price of gasoline and the average annual price of crude oil. By using the average annual price we eliminate brief spikes and get a better picture of what we really pay over the long term. If we see a brief spike many of us will put off buying gas as long as possible hoping to miss the spike so over the long term we will pay closer to the average price.

But as we can see from the chart gas and oil prices are fairly closely related. They tend to rise and fall in tandem but at some extremes oil will rise faster while at others gas seems to rise faster.

There is a simple explanation for this. Typically the oil price remained below the gas price with the major exception being during the price spike in 1979 -80. If you will notice it also appears that Oil prices are more volatile and erratic while gas prices don't fluctuate quite as much.

Over the last 10 years even though oil prices fell lower and lower gas prices remained the same. Why? Is it some collusion by the oil companies? No actually it is much less sinister than that. It is actually just supply and demand. Over the last almost 30 years (since 1976) there have been no new refineries built in the US due to tight regulations, environmental restrictions combined with low prices making the oil business less profitable. So supply has gotten tighter and tighter with it culminating recently with only one or two percent excess capacity at the refineries.

When supply gets that tight several things happen, first of all, it goes from being a buyer's market to a seller's market and secondly any slight disruption causes all kinds of havoc. And that is exactly what has happened every time a minor storm shut down a refinery for a day we would see a new spike in gas prices at the pump. But then along came hurricane Katrina and it has shut down a dozen refineries for as much as six weeks. Reducing supply by as much as one fifth. In some cases not because of problems at the refineries but also because of transportation issues.

So the recent spikes are due primarily to a lack of processing capacity. And unfortunately, it won't be fixed soon yes the shut down refineries will come back on line but what we really need are more refineries and that takes time. You can build a new refinery over night. Plus there is all the 'red tape' to get regulatory approval and no one wants a refinery in their back yard.

These issues need to be addressed but my guess is that with higher prices at the pump the oil companies will be more motivated to build new refineries and somehow it will get done. But in the mean time we need to learn to conserve gas."

Tech industry attacks state anti-RFID laws | CNET News.com

Tech industry attacks state anti-RFID laws | CNET News.com:

"Tech industry attacks state anti-RFID laws
By Anne Broache

Staff Writer, CNET News.com

ARLINGTON, Va.--In at least a dozen states, the electronics industry has been waging a battle against a rash of proposed laws aimed at limiting--and in some cases outlawing--use of electronically readable chips in personal identification documents.

No states have enacted such laws yet, but bills have been up for debate in California, New Hampshire, Washington, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Illinois and Missouri, among others, during the past couple of years, panelists said Wednesday at an industry conference here about smart card use by the government.

Those proposed laws have been introduced because of concerns raised by privacy advocates over the possibility that as radio-frequency identification, or RFID, chips, become more commonly used in government-issued IDs, they could be abused for secret tracking or unauthorized collection of information about the people who carry the IDs.

State legislators have been far too quick to believe 'misinformation' spread by 'the tinfoil hat crowd,' said Richard Varn, a consultant who counts RFID technology manufacturer HID among his clients."

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Mexico -- Mexico wants migrant rights in U.S., but is harsh to undocumented Central Americans

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Mexico -- Mexico wants migrant rights in U.S., but is harsh to undocumented Central Americans:

"TULTITLAN, Mexico – While migrants in the United States have held tremendous demonstrations in recent weeks, the hundreds of thousands of undocumented Central American migrants in Mexico suffer mostly in silence.

Considered felons by the Mexican government, they fear detention, rape and robbery. Police and soldiers hunt them down at railroads, bus stations and fleabag hotels. Sometimes they are deported; more often officers simply take all their money.

While Mexico demands the humane treatment of its citizens who migrate to the U.S., it appears to be unable to guarantee similar rights for Central American migrants to this country.

The level of brutality Central American migrants face in Mexico was underscored on Monday, when police conducting a raid for undocumented migrants near a rail yard in central Mexico state shot to death a local man, apparently because his dark skin and work clothes made him look like a Central American."

[...]

Central Americans, as columnist Gustavo Arellano of the Orange County Weekly pointed out, “are the Mexicans of Mexico.”

Migrants generally acknowledge that Mexican federal immigration agents are among the more honest of the country's law enforcement officers. The problem is, most migrants here usually are detained by police or soldiers, who technically aren't authorized to enforce immigration laws. Meanwhile, Mexico objects to the United States using army and local police forces to detain migrants.

Among other ironies: Mexican-migrant activists in the United States hotly oppose a congressional bill that would make undocumented immigration in the U.S. a felony – but Mexican law already classifies it as such. The crime is punishable by up to two years in prison, although deportation is more common.

[...]

While pressing the United States for the legalization of millions of its citizens in the United States, Mexico has done little to legalize its own migrants: With a population of about 105 million, the government granted legalization to only about 15,000 migrants in the past five years.

Like the United States, Mexico is becoming reliant on immigrant labor. In a speech on immigration issues presented last year, Magdalena Carral, then-director of Mexico's National Immigration Institute, noted that Central American migrants were not just passing through on their way to the U.S., but were also staying and looking for work in southern Mexico.

“There are sectors of the Mexican economy which face labor shortages, but because there is no formal or efficient method (for work visas), they have to do it as undocumented workers,” Carral said.

Beyond the Geeks: 60 Million Americans Labeled 'Intellectually Curious' - Yahoo! News

Beyond the Geeks: 60 Million Americans Labeled 'Intellectually Curious' - Yahoo! News:

"More Americans are interested in science news and information than is commonly thought, a new study suggests. But not everyone wears the intrigue on their sleeves.

In fact some people are downright silent about their scientific interests, perhaps not wanting to be perceived as nerds.

The study, based on online polling and focus groups, was conducted by the media communications agency OMD for Imaginova Corp., parent company of LiveScience and SPACE.com.

Beyond the geeks

The research aimed to get beyond the recognized geek population and gauge interest in science among the roughly 150 million Americans age 18-54. About 40 percent of them, or 60 million people, were found to be 'intellectually curious' about politics, the arts and science, all spending significant time with newspapers, related television channels and online media.

Among the intellectually curious group, those who are aware of science-oriented websites tend to visit them frequently. Some 85 percent said they are intrigued by scientific breakthroughs and innovation, compared to 35 percent of those outside the group. And while 72 percent of the intellectually curious say science is relevant to many aspects of their lives, that figure is 26 percent among the rest of the population.

Further study of the intellectually curious segment revealed three distinct groups. If you are reading this, you likely fit into one of them:

Science with Passion (14 percent of the 18-54 group): This group contains the geeks and nerds. They don't need to be prompted to share their love of science. 'They might switch a cocktail party from politics to science,' said OMD researcher Mike Hess in a telephone interview. They watch the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel and PBS. Prime interests: nature, medicine and the environment. This group is 53 percent female.

Money, Success and Science (11 percent of the 18-54 group): These people are also very interested in science. But they're unlikely to discuss it. The study did not reveal why, but they were also very interested in privacy and their higher interest in careers and success suggests they do not want to be perceived as nerdy, Hess speculated. They are notably interested in the Sci-Fi channel as well as science programming. Prime interest: technology. This group is 64 percent male.

Style with Science (15 percent of the 18-54 group): This high-income group follows science but would rather be throwing a party or out on the town than watching TV or having a quiet evening. They do like 'Desperate Housewives,' however. 'If an opportunity arises at a cocktail party [to discuss science] they'll engage,' Hess said. Prime interests: technology, weather and nature. This group is 57 percent male.

Underserved market

'We found that consumer interest in science and science-related consumer products is both larger and more complex than many people previously thought,' Hess said.

Imaginova CEO and President Dan Stone thinks that market is largely untapped."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Is France ungovernable? >> .:thebusinessonline.com:.

Is France ungovernable? >> .:thebusinessonline.com:.

Its economy is sick, its people refuse to accept much-needed reforms, there are riots on the streets, government ministers are at each others’ throats and Chirac sits brooding in the Elysée Palace like a lame-duck president

[...]

AT the heart of the French protests is a refusal to acknowledge economic reality. The French are now officially the most anti-capitalist nation on earth, according to a new Globescan poll. Only 36% of the French agree that a free-market economy “is the best system on which to base the future of the world”, by far the lowest of any country, and 50% disagree. It is an appalling indictment of France’s media, education system and elite that half the country has in effect no economic understanding whatsoever. In China, by contrast, 74% of the population now support capitalism, a system that theory and practice has shown to be immensely superior at generating and spreading wealth than socialism, fascism, extreme environmentalism or any other of the statist nostrums apparently favoured by the French population. On top of their wholesale rejection of the market economy, free trade and globalisation, the French have also become extremely pessimistic: 83% believe that their economy is getting worse, more than in any nation bar Zimbabwe, according to the Programme on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.

Swedish Welfare State Collapses as Immigrants Wage War | The Brussels Journal

Swedish Welfare State Collapses as Immigrants Wage War | The Brussels Journal

Swedish Welfare State Collapses as Immigrants Wage War
From the desk of Fjordman on Tue, 2006-03-28 21:49

Last year I wrote an article about how Swedish society is disintegrating and is in danger of collapsing, at least in certain areas and regions. The country that gave us Bergman, ABBA and Volvo could become known as the Bosnia of northern Europe. The “Swedish model” would no longer refer to a stable and peaceful state with an advanced economy, but to a Eurabian horror story of utopian multiculturalism, socialist mismanagement and runaway immigration. Some thought I was exaggerating, and that talk of the possibility of a future civil war in Sweden was pure paranoia. Was it?

In a new sociological survey (pdf in Swedish, with brief English introduction) entitled “Vi krigar mot svenskarna” (“We’re waging a war against the Swedes”), young immigrants in the troubled city of Malmö have been interviewed about why they are involved in crime. Although it is not stated, most of the immigrant perpetrators are Muslims. In one of the rare instances where the Swedish media actually revealed the truth, the newspaper Aftonbladet reported several years ago that 9 out of 10 of the most criminal ethnic groups in Sweden came from Muslim countries. This must be borne in mind whilst reading the following newspaper article:

Immigrants are “waging war” against Swedes through robbery

The wave of robberies the city of Malmö has witnessed during this past year is part of a “war against the Swedes.” This is the explanation given by young robbers from immigrant backgrounds when questioned about why they only rob native Swedes, in interviews with Petra Åkesson for her thesis in sociology. “I read a report about young robbers in Stockholm and Malmö and wanted to know why they rob other youths. It usually does not involve a lot of money,” she says. She interviewed boys between 15 and 17 years old, both individually and in groups.

Almost 90% of all robberies reported to the police were committed by gangs, not individuals. “When we are in the city and robbing we are waging a war, waging a war against the Swedes.” This argument was repeated several times. “Power for me means that the Swedes shall look at me, lie down on the ground and kiss my feet.” The boys explain, laughingly, that “there is a thrilling sensation in your body when you’re robbing, you feel satisfied and happy, it feels as if you’ve succeeded, it simply feels good.” “It’s so easy to rob Swedes, so easy.” “We rob every single day, as often as we want to, whenever we want to.” The immigrant youth regard the Swedes as stupid and cowardly: “The Swedes don’t do anything, they just give us the stuff. They’re so wimpy.” The young robbers do not plan their crimes: “No, we just see some Swedes that look rich or have nice mobile phones and then we rob them.”

Why do they hate the Swedes so much? “Well, they hate us,” Petra Åkesson reports them as answering. “When a Swede goes shopping, the lady behind the counter gives him the money back into his hand, looks into his eyes and laughs. When we go shopping, she puts the money on the counter and looks the other way.” Åkesson, who is adopted from Sri Lanka and hence does not look like a native Swede, says it was not difficult to get the boys to talk about their crimes. Rather they were bragging about who had committed the most robberies. Malin Åkerström,a professor in sociology, sees only one solution to the problem: “Jobs for everybody. If this entails a deregulation of the labor market to create more jobs, then we should do so.”

It is interesting to note that these Muslim immigrants state quite openly that they are involved in a “war,” and see participation in crime and harassment of the native population as such. This is completely in line with what I have posited before. The number of rape charges in Sweden has quadrupled in just above twenty years. Rape cases involving children under the age of 15 are six times as common today as they were a generation ago. Most other kinds of violent crime have rapidly increased, too. Instability is spreading to most urban and suburban areas. Resident aliens from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia dominate the group of rape suspects. Lawyer Ann Christine Hjelm found that 85 per cent of the convicted rapists were born on foreign soil or from foreign parents. The phenomenon is not restricted to Sweden. The number of rapes committed by Muslim immigrants in Western nations is so extremely high that it is difficult to view these rapes as merely random acts of individuals. It resembles warfare. This is happening in most Western European countries, as well as in other non muslim countries such as India. European jails are filling up with Muslims imprisoned for robberies and all kinds of violent crimes, and Muslims bomb European civilians. One can see the mainstream media are struggling to make sense of all of this. That is because they cannot, or do not want to, see the obvious: this is exactly how an invading army would behave: rape, pillage and bombing. If many of the Muslim immigrants see themselves as conquerors in a war, it all makes perfect sense.

Malmö in Sweden, set to become the first Scandinavian city with a Muslim majority within a decade or two, has nine times as many reported robberies per capita as Copenhagen, Denmark. Yet the number one priority for the political class in Sweden during this year’s national election campaign seems to be demonizing neighboring Denmark for “xenophobia” and a “brutal” debate about Muslim immigration. During last years Jihad riots in France, Sweden’s Social Democratic Prime Minister Göran Persson criticised the way the French government handled the unrest in the country. “It feels like a very hard and confrontational approach.” Persson also rejected the idea of more local police as a “first step” in Sweden. “I don’t believe that’s the way we would choose in Sweden. To start sending out signals about strengthening the police is to break with the political line we have chosen to follow,” he said. Meanwhile, as their authorities have largely abandoned their third largest city to creeping anarchy, there is open talk among the native Swedes still remaining in Malmö of forming vigilante groups armed with baseball bats out of concern for their children’s safety. As I argued in another essay: If Arnold Schwarzenegger fails to get re-elected as Governor of California he may like to do a sequel to “Conan the Barbarian.” He could shoot it in Malmö. He will get the extras for free.

What happened to the famous Swedish nanny state, you say? Don’t Swedes pay the highest tax rates in the world? Yes, they do. But tens of billions of kroner, some say several hundred billions, are being spent every year on propping up rapidly growing communities of Muslim immigrants. Sweden has become the entire world’s welfare office, because the political elites have decided that massive Muslim immigration is “good for the economy.” Soon Sweden’s “army” may comprise no more than 5,000 men, five thousand troops to defend a nation more than three times the area of England. Moreover, it may take up to a year to assemble all of them, provided they are not on peacekeeping missions abroad. That Sweden might soon need a little peacekeeping at home seems to escape the establishment. In 2006 the celebrated Swedish welfare state has become the world’s largest pyramid scheme, an Enron with a national flag.

Although Sweden is an extreme example, similar stories could be told about much of Western Europe. As Mark Steyn points out, the Jihad in the streets of France looked like the early skirmishes of an impending Eurabian civil war, brought on by massive Muslim immigration and Multicultural stupidity.