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Politics

War

Why the Muslims Misjudged Us

An insightful and unsparing article by the military historian Victor Davis Hanson published in the Wall Street Journal in February, 2002.

Machine-gun Packing Robots Headed for Iraq

A modified version of an Army robot designed to deal with IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq is on display at the 2006 Auto Show at the Washington, DC Convention Center. Terrorists in Iraq likely will soon confront robots that can fight back, according to a Sgt Mero, who works for the U.S. Army's Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center. The robot can be fitted with several types of machine-gun as well as rockets, 40 mm grenade launchers, and the M-16 rifle. Terrorists will likely think twice before engaging machine-gun-packing robots, Mero predicted. "You're not going to try to sneak up on it," the Sgt said, "and if you shoot at it, it's going to know right where you are." I think I might check out the auto show this year.

Who Killed Daniel Pearl?

On WAMU, a DC area NPR station, Kojo Nnamdi interviewed Bernard-Henri Levy, the French philosopher and Journalist, last Tuesday (Sept. 23, 2003). Fortunately, WAMU makes these interviews available on their website (Realaudio streaming, but better than nothing): go to http://www.wamu.org/ram/2003/k2030923.ram. This is a fascinating and shocking interview mainly about Mr Levy's recent book, Who Killed Daniel Pearl. He implicates high-ranking members of the Pakistani government in the support of terrorism, including the September 11 attacks on the United States; these connections were being investigated by Mr Pearl, and it is believed by many that members of the Pakistani government were responsible for his murder. See also a critical review of the book and a reprint of another interesting interview.

John MacArthur gets the last word

After the initial flurry of encomiums upon the untimely death of Christopher Hitchens, we now see something else.

Iran to murder programmer

A Canadian resident visiting Iran was arrested and will be killed for programming. He was tortured to make him confess to things that are physically impossible. The Iranian government’s excuse is that his open-source code happened to have been used by some porn site. The real reason seems to be that he’s an Iranian citizen and engineer who decided to live abroad. The Iranian government hates that. Via Hacker News.

Congressmen want TSA to stop impersonating police officers

30 members of the U.S. House of Representatives think it’s wrong that the people hired to molest children at the airport are dressing up as cops and calling themselves “officers.” They’re trying to pass a law to get them to stop it. It’s about time. I’m proud of these congresspeople and hope that one day they find the courage to draft a bill that stops the TSA from molesting children, with or without the shiny badges.

Arrested for Possessing Information

A citizen of the UK has been jailed for possessing a recipe for the production of ricin, an extremely dangerous poison made from castor beans. He has not been accused of actually doing or having anything besides information.

Pakistani Intelligence Agency Linked to Mumbai Assault

Now we have a name: Major Iqbal. According to a scout who helped to plan the terrorist attack on Mumbai, India, this ISI officer was calling the shots. It’s easy to imagine that the US government is interested in finding this man and having a talk with him about Bin Laden’s house.

Gene Sharp

The “father of the whole field of the study of strategic nonviolent action.”

No Way to Run a Free Country

A UK immigration officer decided to banish his wife by putting her on the no-fly list while she was abroad. ☞ more

Eric Alterman on Christopher Hitchens

He seems confused.

Iraqi Militants Stealing Blood for the Injured

Near the middle of this NY Times article describing one slice of the surrealistic state of affairs in Iraq, it goes over the top: “One patient in our hospital had been kidnapped by insurgents and then released […] Both of his hands and one of his ears had been amputated in a very precise and skilled way — with a skill that a newly trained doctor would not have had.”

Hamas founder’s son worked for Shin Bet

Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security outfit, is believed to benefit from a network of Palestinian informants. It has now been revealed that one of these informants, Mosab Hassan Yousef, is the son of one of the founders of Hamas. There is not a single sentence in the article describing Yousef’s work for the Israelis that is less than fascinating. In this man’s opinion, “the Israelis care about the Palestinians far more than the Hamas or Fatah leadership does.” His reasons for this pronouncement make the article required reading for those who make a facile equivalence between the Israelis and the terrorists. Naturally, the story is being denounced as false “Zionist propoganda” by Hamas and its friends.

Does Serbian Culture Celebrate Genocide?

Karadzic lives and acts very much in a tradition expressed in Serbian epic poetry, that quite unambiguously celebrates genocide. ☞ more

Religion

Saudi police ‘stopped’ fire rescue

Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress [....] One witness said he saw three policemen ‘beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya’.”

Religiosity Correlates with Societal Ills

From the Journal of Religion and Society; the article is by Gregory S. Paul and is called “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies”.

Embarrassing pond name to be changed

Probably a good idea.

Atheism in America

“Being on crack, that was OK. As long as I believed in God”. Her relatives refused to allow her to babysit as an atheist, but had no problem when she was on crack. They were afraid she might teach the babies about evolution. ☞ more

Catholic Clergy Object to Not Being Above the Law

The Catholic Clergy in Ireland is upset that the laws requiring people to report knowledge of child rape will actually be taken to apply to them. ☞ more

Where has Moshe Averick Been?

Rabbi Averick falsely claims that circumcision rituals are always safe, while falsely accusing Christopher Hitchens of committing an “outright lie.”

Preachers of Hate as Loyal Subjects

An illuminating article about Saudi Arabia by Madawi Al-Rasheed: “Far from the princes being the great advocates for reform and the religious scholars the demagogues of terror, as often cited in the West, the two share the same rhetoric and goals.” ☞ more

Gay Bashing at the Smithsonian

In fine, muscular prose, Frank Rich exposes the Smithsonian’s shameful folding in the face of threats by Catholic League bullies.

BBC Shows Lessons of Hate at Some Islamic Schools in Britain

A British network of more than 40 part-time Islamic schools and clubs with 5,000 students has been teaching from a Saudi Arabian government curriculum that contains anti-Semitic and homophobic views, including a textbook that asks children to list the “reprehensible” qualities of Jews […] the Saudi government-supplied textbook [says] that Jews ‘looked like monkeys and pigs’ […] [and] that someone who is not a believer in Islam at death would be condemned to ‘hellfire’ […] One of the textbooks prescribed execution as the penalty for gay sex, and outlined differing viewpoints as to whether death should be by stoning, immolation by fire or throwing offenders off a cliff […] Another set out the punishments prescribed by Shariah law for theft, including amputation of hands and feet. […] [It contained an] illustration of a hand and a foot marked to show where amputations should be made.”

Keeping the Flame Alive in Brooklyn

Evolving Brooklyn neighborhoods through the lens of an orthodox synagogue and its 73-year-old rabbi. ☞ more

Photographs from the Scopes “Monkey Trial”

“Marcel C. LaFollette, an independent scholar, historian and Smithsonian volunteer uncovered rare, unpublished photographs of the 1925 Tennessee vs. John Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ in the Smithsonian Institution Archives.” ☞ more

Explore Evolution: the Latest Tactic of the Stealth Creationists

An insightful review of a pseudo-textbook from the charlatans at the Discovery Institute, exposing their latest attempt to sneak their superstitions in to our childrens’ science classes. ☞ more

Brazil's Condom Independence

Having achieved independence from foreign oil, Brazil is now exploring independence from foreign condoms. ☞ more

Other

Al Franken turns from sharp comedy to bad college radio.

Groklaw: Timely discussion of legal news, with reader comments and an RSS feed.

School Teaching in Chinese Is a Lure for Black Children:

“while most are children of Chinese immigrants, almost 10 percent of the students are black, and many of them come from the outer reaches of the city, enduring long trips for the chance to attend a school that has developed a reputation for excellence.”

Success and Scrutiny at Hebrew Charter School: Only in New York, and a worthy companion to the previous article. This is well worth reading to the end.

Secret “Analogue Hole” Bill

The author of the Freedom to Tinker weblog wanted to find out what was going into the Sensenbrenner/Conyers analog hole bill. So he emailed the company that sells VEIL, one of the technologies that the bill's authors propose be required by almost all analog video devices. The company's conditions for revealing the spec: a nondisclosure agreement and a fee of $10,000. The author asks some good questions: “Are the members of Congress themselves, and their staffers, allowed to see the spec and talk about it openly? Are they allowed to consult experts for advice? Or are the full contents of this bill secret even from the lawmakers who are considering it?”

Bus firm takes car sharers to court

A ‘group of French cleaning ladies who organised a car-sharing scheme to get to work are being taken to court by a coach company which accuses them of “an act of unfair and parasitical competition”.’

Andrew Sullivan is misinformed about the U.S. constitution

Anyone who still believes that the second amendment does not recognize an individual right to own and carry firearms should start here.

Everyone knows David Cameron is a lizard

I tried to find something to extract from Charlie Brooker’s article about the UK PM to illustrate how funny it is and why you should read it, but every paragraph is so wickedly hilarious that I gave up trying to decide. ☞ more

Was Your Adopted Baby Kidnapped by the Chinese Government?

The New York Times describes the practice of Chinese “family planning” agencies kidnapping children off the street for sale in the guise of “adoption.”

Was the 2004 Ohio Presidential Election Stolen?

“A new filing in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case includes a copy of the Ohio Secretary of State election production system configuration that was in use in Ohio's 2004 presidential election when there was a sudden and unexpected shift in votes for George W. Bush […] Connell died a month and a half after giving this deposition in a suspicious small plane crash.”

Canadian Green Party Leader Warns about Imaginary WiFi Health Dangers — By Tweeting from Her BlackBerry

Her name is Elizabeth May and she leads a party whose members are probably proud of what they think the Green Party stands for. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what you stand for if you’re too addled to be able to formulate rational policy in the event you actually get elected to something.

NPR Continues to Implode

If you have the conscience of a normal person, you will never again be able to contribute a dime to National Public Radio.

Bush on Bush

Michael Kinsley’s review of Bush 43’s memoirs is well and cleverly written. He makes up for a few slightly unfair jabs by fearlessly expressing admiration for some of the subject’s attitudes and accomplishments.

Two Letters of the Law

Virginia was under the impression that it had a law requiring drivers to stop at a stopped school bus.

Sam Harris Discusses His New Book, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

He is attempting something very ambitious: to find a scientific basis for moral judgements, as Kant tried to construct a logical basis; both approaches divorced from the reliance on authority. The engaging interview contains many tough-minded quotes: “Look at an institution like the Catholic Church. […] They’re more concerned about preventing gay marriage than preventing genocide. They’re clearly not focused on human well-being […] There’s a 45-percent core of people who are really sure that all of Biblical prophecy is true […] and those beliefs are as crazy as any you are going to find in a psych ward.” ☞ more

Wiretapping the Internet

Finely reasoned and sharply written response by the security expert Bruce Schneier to the New York Times’ report that “President Obama will seek sweeping laws enabling law enforcement to more easily eavesdrop on the internet.” ☞ more

RealClimate

A great resource to counterbalance the confused information sometimes offered by journalism, written by actual climate scientists.

Gapminder World Chart for 2006

This beautiful chart compares the world’s territories by income and infant mortality.

Professor Hill’s Too-Clever Op-Ed

Anita Hill has replied to Justice Clarence Thomas' recent book in an op-ed the New York Times. Reading it leaves me with some odd impressions. ☞ more

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