Saturday, January 30, 2010

Plea Deal Possible For NWA 253 bomber?

The Detroit Free Press: Plea deal may be in works in bomb case
Public defenders for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian student, are engaged in negotiations that could result in an agreement to share more information and eventually a guilty plea, the unnamed sources told the Washington Post
So, will this information consist of the info he should have gave during his interrogation but didn't because he was Mirandized and then lawyered-up? That's what happens when you treats foreign terrorists as a law enforcement problem.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quick State of The Union Commentary

Just watched some of Obama's first State of the Union address - some thoughts:

1. That smarmy s-eating grin is unbecoming of a President, especially this one who doesn't have the accomplishments to merit a grin half as big.

2. That giraffe-playing-tennis look left at teleprompter, look right at teleprompter, look left at teleprompter, talk and repeat is ridiculous.

3. Crowing about how you didn't raise income taxes on anyone in your first year is hardly cause for a celebration, nor the uniform standing ovation you were expecting and didn't get, and the lame crack about not getting a ton of applause for it didn't go over too well. Promise not to raise taxes on anyone for the rest of your administration and we'll talk.

4. Claiming that the Stimulus saved the economy with unemployment is at record highs is umm a little unwarranted now isn't it?

5. Obama, Pelosi and Biden - they all look so happy and self-satisfied with this train wreck their leadership is causing - just wait for the 2010 elections Dems, that may just wipe the self-satisfied grins off your faces.

Enough, I'm done watching him, can't take it anymore, with luck there's only a few more of these SOTUs left before he gets voted out..

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bin Laden Claims the Failed NW 253 Christmas Day Attempt

Bin Laden claims airline bomb attempt on Christmas

Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas in a new audio message released Sunday threatening more attacks on the United States.....
In the minute-long recording released to al-Jazeera Arabic news channel, bin Laden addressed President Barack Obama saying the recent attempt was meant to send a message similar to that of the Sept. 11 attacks.


There was no way to verify the voice on the audio message was actually bin Laden, but it resembled previous recordings attributed to him.

Note the lag of almost a month on claiming responsibility for the failed attempt?

Anyone else think it took so long as they had to weave the message from old speeches of his as he's likely pushing up daisies by now, while his evil soul is being shredded repeatedly by all the demons in hell?

In related news, the Obama administration in trying to turn Al Qaeda into just another law enforcement problem messed up the interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Mirandizing him and watching him clam up as a result.

The Washington Post: Did the Obama administration blow an opportunity in the Flight 253 case?
Does the Post really have to ask?
- Ok I'll answer:
Yes, yes it did.

Loyalty of the Armies - An Antoninianus of Philip I

Silver Antoninianus. AD 244-249, SEAR #2556.

Obverse: Draped bust of Philip I with radiate crown facing Right

Reverse: Four Legionary Standards

Philip the Praetorian Praefect, after killing Gordian III became emperor and struck this coin -Fides Exercitus - Loyalty of the Armies. A little ironic considering his lack of loyalty to his predecessor in office. Given that the bulk of Roman coins went to pay for the legions, it is unsurprising that the coins carry military themes and celebrate the military victories of the emperor or as in this case, propagandize to the recipients of these coins the need for their loyalty to the emperor and to remind them where their pay was coming from.

One of the main events for which Philip's reign is famous is a series of games held in Rome featuring a variety of wild beasts to celebrate the thousandth anniversary of the founding of the City of Rome. The games were commemorated on a series of coins he struck.

Philip's hope expressed on this coin for the loyalty of the armies was not met. A number of legions rebelled against him and he was killed in battle at Verona against another contender for the Imperium - Trajan Decius.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Biden in Iraq, Announces US will retry Blackwater guards dismissal

In a fit of politics over substance, Vice President Biden while in Iraq announced that the Blackwater guards alleged to have improperly opened fire while on convoy duty in Iraq, whose cases were dismissed by a Federal district Court judge due to prosecutorial misconduct will be appealed.

Biden: US to appeal dismissal of Blackwater case
The U.S. will appeal a court decision dismissing manslaughter charges against five Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday.

Biden's announcement after a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani shows just how diplomatically sensitive the incident remains nearly three years later. A lawyer for one guard, noting that word of the intended appeal came in Iraq, accused the Obama administration of political expediency and said the U.S. was pursuing an innocent man, rather than justice.

You'll recall the case was dismissed in December 2009:
Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court in Washington wrote that the government’s mishandling of the case “requires dismissal of the indictment against all the defendants.”

In a “reckless violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights...Judge Urbina found that “in their zeal to bring charges,” investigators and prosecutors had extensively used those statements, disregarding “the warning of experienced, senior prosecutors” that “the course of action threatened the viability of prosecution.”

“The explanations offered by the prosecutors and investigators in an attempt to justify their actions and persuade the court that they did not use the defendants’ compelled testimony were all too often contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility,” Judge Urbina wrote.

The judge also criticized prosecutors for withholding “substantial exculpatory evidence” from the grand jury that indicted the defendants, as well as for presenting “distorted versions” of witnesses’ testimony and improperly telling the grand jury that some incriminating statements had been made by the defendants but were being withheld. ”

Its certainly peculiar that an American Vice president would announce the continued persecution of Americans in America after a massively flawed process in the underlying case, while he is in Iraq for the benefit of politics. After all Vice President Biden while in Iraq was clear in that he didn't want to interfere in Iraqi politics. lets hope that Iraqi politics doesn't interfere with American justice.

Books Worth Reading: Jawbreaker

I just finished reading Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander by Gary Berntsen.

The book is perhaps the most definitive account of the CIA's role in both the opportunities missed pre-9/11 to stop Al Qaeda, and for the initial stages of the Afghanistan Campaign after 9/11, written by the CIA's commander of the operation on the ground in Afghanistan.

Reading the book, you learn about the Clinton administrations gutting of the CIA's operational capabilities and the hesitant and indeed incompetent role of George Tenet - you'll read of opportunities and operations to capture or kill Bin Laden called off at the last minute for fear of casualties during the missions or political fall-out, the deliberate reduction in CIA operational capabilities and actions abroad and many other failings. Indeed, you can't help but also fault President Bush for keeping Tenet as the head of the CIA.

However, after 9/11 the book chronicles the incredible feat of about hundred and ten CIA agents, and 350 Special Forces troops and their Northern Alliance (and some Eastern Alliance) allies, coupled with massive air-power to defeat a Taliban and Al Qaeda army that outnumbered them over ten to one. Certainly a textbook study in joint CIA-military operations that has many lessons to be learned.

One of the greatest lessons from the book is that more American troops should have been used against Al Qaeda when they retreated into Tora Bora, and that Berntsen had requested that Rangers be sent in but is request was denied, and the lack of US forces on the ground in sufficient numbers at that stage in the war led to Bin Laden's escape. Indeed, throughout the book the failure of the CIA's 7th Floor (Where the executive offices of Tenet and his deputies were located) to listen to its people on the ground continued to hamper operations and America's security.

On the upside the invasion dealt a severe blow to Al Qaeda, destroying their terrorist infrastructure and training camps and killing thousands of Al Qaeda fighters. The book reveals a multitude of terrorist plots that were disrupted by the invasion, including a planned Al Qaeda Germ warfare attack, a planned attack on US, Israeli and other embassies in Singapore and many other Al Qaeda plots that were disrupted by the invasion. The foiling of these attacks were not covered well by the media, and this important result of the Afghanistan invasion should have received a lot more coverage and certainly shows the invasion was the correct course of action.

The book is the real deal, with just about every twentieth word or so marked as [deleted] by CIA censors, including entire sections of the book.

Jawbreaker is a real page turner and its compelling story of how a handful of extraordinary smart and brave CIA agents (including some very patriotic and capable Muslim Americans) and Special Forces troops should be read by everyone interested in our national security and in how this War on Terror has been fought and mis-fought, and lessons that need to be learned to protect this country in the future. If you haven't read it yet, you owe it to yourself to get a copy and read it immediately, you'll be glad you did.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Obama in action and the Economy keeps a Fallin

Interesting set of stories concerning Obama and the economy in the news today

Stocks sink again on Obama's pushback on banks

Unemployment rose in 43 states last month

Obama vows to fight for jobs in retooled message

So let's see, under Obama, with him throwing his weight around, the stock market keeps falling, banks aren't lending, unemployment is rising, with Michigan having the dubious distinction of leading the nation at 14.7%, and that's only because many workers have stopped even looking for work, leading the number to drop. His answer now is to rail against bankers and propose to tax banks - that shold get them to start lending again now won't it?

Now after a year under Obama, it is crystal clear we're worse off than we were, and his promise to "fight for jobs" after doing his best to create an anti-business, anti-jobs environment where business are afraid to hire for fear of what comes next. After all that, now he states he'll push for jobs.

He'd do better by leaving well enough alone.

Instead he's going to make it worse.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Trijicon removes "Bible Codes" from its sights

Trijicon, a Wixom-Michigan based company caught in a controversy regarding its addition of a biblical reference to it's firearm sight stock numbers, has agreed to produce the sights without the biblical references.

Gun sight maker will stop inscribing Bible references:
The Wixom company under fire for putting tiny references to Bible verses on gun sights sold to the U.S. military, announced today it will drop the inscriptions on future arms shipments and offer kits to help the military remove codes on sights in the hands of troops.

Trijicon Inc., responding to an uproar in the United States and abroad, said it has voluntarily decided to drop the inscriptions on all of its products made for the Defense Department. It will also supply the Pentagon with 100 "modification kits" to allow for the removal of the codes.

The company said it took the steps "to ensure the war-time production needs of the troops are met as quickly as possible," according to a statement released today.
One can ceretainly appreciate the pressure that was brought on this company for this non-issue. Indeed, even the New Zealand Army is removing the marking from their sights - New Zealand army to remove Wixom company's Bible citations on gun sights

Indeed, in looking at the pictures below of the sight and then the magnified image showing the offensive marking, the marking is so small and unobtrusive the fuss over this is ridiculous:

What's next, a demand to remove cross-hairs from scopes under the guise that a cross is offensive?

When even the Daily Show Beats On Obama (a little anyway) You Know He's Got A Problem

John Stewart is generally a pretty funny comedian. However he usually reserves his biting humor for attacks on the right wing, avoiding nailing the left.

In The First 364 Days 23 hours (click on the link to view) he finally sends a little humorous scorn Obama's way in reviewing his past year in office.

Yes, its a pretty restrained bite all in all, and he has to take a few swings at right-wingers while doing it, but its still both funny and a warning sign for Obama.

The show misses some great swings at Obama - watch the link and realize how much funnier one of the comments would be if they had raised Obama's declaration that "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.". Opportunities lost, as Stewart probably felt he couldn't go too far with his criticism of the One.

After all Lyndon Johnson may have lost Walter Cronkite and thus Middle America, but Obama losing John Stewart and perhaps even Left-Middle America?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Range Trip and The Saiga 12

On Sunday I went to the fabled Lapeer pit with my friends Craig, Craig's son Daniel (up for a visit from Chicago) and Aaron. Thankfully, Aaron's name is very easy to remember.

The only problem was that on the way up he was driving and I was navigating so we were in front and Craig and Daniel behind. The conversation went something like this:

Craig: Hey, Aaron?

Aaron: Yes? Aaron: Yes?

Craig: No the other Aaron.

Aaron: Him? Aaron: Him?

Craig: No the other Aaron.

Aaron: huh? Aaron: huh?

Craig: The one driving

Aaron: Oh, Ok. Aaron: Yes?

Craig: How about...(discussion ensues)

Aaron: Aaron, while you were chatting you just missed a turn...
We got there via a circuitous route indeed, but it all worked out.

The range has been neatened up recently by the DNR, the big rocks removed, the area regraded, some concrete berms put in to form a shooting line, so ts pretty nice.

It was pretty busy but we eventually got set up and put our targets out.

Daniel, Craig and the other Aaron had never shot an Uzi before, and after safety instruction and a demonstration by yours truly, they really enjoyed themselves. Unfortunately when I told them to buy 9mm fmj (full metal jacket), they went out and bought a ton of the not very common 147 gr truncated cone fmjs that the Uzi really did not like. Luckily I brought along a lot of round nose fmjs and much fun was had.

They also got to shoot my AR15 pistol, which I'm happy to report after a complete detailed cleaning, disassembly of the bolt, and lubrication ran like a top.

We also got to shot my Saiga 12 shotgun. The Saiga 12 is a 12 gauge, semi-automatic, detachable box magazine fed shotgun. Based on the famed Kalashnikov action it offers Kalashnikov-level reliability and good ergonomics and excellent shooting with the 12 gauge.

The Saiga arrived because of restrictions on how it can be imported into the country for sporting purposes looking like this:

This would not do for real sporting purposes and so I sent it off to Alex Wakal of Dreadnaught Industries to be suitably restored.

A few words about Dreadnaught Industries. Unlike another smith to whom I sent an inquiry who then failed to respond after a very short exchange, never getting an answer or a real quote, Alex responded and took this Saiga newbie through the multitude of Saiga possibilities, giving me excellent guidance as to what worked and didn't work as opposed to just looking cool.

Indeed, Alex saved me money by straightening me out to build what I needed rather than what I mistakenly thought I wanted. Because he shoots the Saiga in 3-gun competition, the same sport for which I wanted to use the Saiga, his experience and knowledge were invaluable in the decision making process.

That kind of interaction sold me on him and off the Saiga went.

It came back with the quickest turnaround I could have dreamed about and it came back looking like this:

Now that's a sporting Saiga!

US-made parts are nicely installed, replacing the foreign parts to reach the appropriate parts count to permit it to have a pistol grip and folding stock. A sight rail is beautifully and nicely machined on so that you would think it had always been a part of the firearm, the trigger much improved, an extended magazine release installed for quicker magazine changes, the bolt modified to allow a loaded magazine to be loaded with the bolt closed, an ergonomic Tromix stock affixed, and the usability factor was thus highly increased.

The acid test of course was how well did it shoot? The answer - darn well. With my EOTech mounted on the rail and firing 00 Buck it shot 5 rounds quickly, accurately and with far less perceptible recoil than my 870 pump - the gas system helps bleed off some of the recoil impulse and every shot was a winner.

With 7 1/2 shot it was a bit finicky, jamming on Winchester Super X but liking the Federal brand once the gas system was set to "2" for lighter shells rather than the standard "1" setting. Given that it was brand new and unfired before Sunday for lack of an opportunity to head to the range, a little breaking in period is not uncalled for.

Chris, Aaron and Daniel were very impressed with the Saiga, as was I. Of course after shooting I had to clean all the firearms I had brought along. For cleaning, the Saiga comes apart like any Kalashnikov clone and cleaning is simple and straightforward, as is reassembly.

I can heartily recommend Alex Wakal of Dreadnaught Industries for any Saiga work you might need, he certainly knows his craft and has truly excellent and responsive customer service and he can build you a fantastic Saiga.

Obvious Statement of the Day - "Terrorist Groups Help Each Other"

Defense Secretary Gates Says Terrorist Groups Help Each Other Thanks for the hot tip Captain Obvious.

Next up, a declaration that water is wet.

Fox News:

A syndicate of terror groups is working to sow violence and destruction across South Asia, and India and Pakistan need to work together to combat the mutual threat, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.

Gates, who spoke during a visit to India, said no nation was immune from terror.

He linked Taliban militants operating along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border with Lashkar-e-Taiba extremists accused of orchestrating the 2008 terror attack on the Indian city of Mumbai, saying both groups worked under the umbrella of Al Qaeda.

"It's dangerous to single out any one of these groups and say, 'If we can beat that group, that will solve the problem,' because they are in effect a syndicate of terrorist operators intended to destabilize this entire region," Gates said.

When one group succeeds in carrying out an attack, all of them gain in capability and reputation, he said. "A victory for one is a victory for all."
Once again, pretty obvious statements given what is known regrading cooperation between not only various terrorist groups under the Al Qaeda umbrella but beyond, for example Hamas and Iran and Hezbollah assisting each other in terrorist attacks against Israel. Indeed both Shiite and Sunni terrorist groups have worked together in Iraq to kill Americans in between bouts of killing each other.

Gates then in his address in India stated that
India is spending billions annually on U.S.-made military hardware, although Gates said current agreements prevent India from being able to buy some U.S. weaponry or technology.
Given that India is an ally in this War on Terror, War on Radical Islamic Extremism, or War on Foreign National Caused Disasters, whatever you choose to call this conflict, it is high time those agreements were modified to enable the US and India to more closely cooperate and come together as allies in this conflict.

Much Ado About Markings - Bible "codes" on Trijicon Sights

There's been much coverage recently of Trijicon (a company located in Wixom, Michigan) has imprinted biblical references on their ACOG scopes and our troops are using those scopes in battle.

Wixom company defends Biblical rifle sights: Inscriptions on troops' weapons there for years, Wixom firm says

Military officials promise to investigate a Wixom company's adding of tiny letters and numbers that refer to Bible passages on gun sights it makes for troops, amid calls by critics to ban the inscriptions.

Trijicon Inc. says it has been adding the inscriptions for years and they have been included on sights that are part of a $660 million contract for hundreds of thousands of scopes used in Iraq and Afghanistan being filled by the 200-employee firm.

But after ABC News first broadcast a story about the sights, Army officials said Tuesday they will investigate whether Trijicon violated federal procurement rules.

The military prohibits proselytizing in the combat zones of the Middle East. A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East, which manages military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the inscriptions do not violate that prohibition because they are solely for the U.S. military's use.

The Marine Corps, another major customer of the sights that allow troops to pinpoint targets day or night, says officials plan to meet with Trijicon to discuss future purchases.
markings on a scope are hardly proselytizing, and given that they've been there for ears without any issue its hardly worth the current uproar.

Rob Boston, senior policy analyst for Americans for the Separation of Church and State, said the military should demand Trijicon discontinue the practice.

"We have to remember that our struggle in the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan isn't just against terrorism. It's for the hearts and minds of the average people," Boston said. "If the average people in these countries get the impression that the United States is launching some type of new Crusade with the aim of converting population to Christianity, we're going to lose the hearts and minds."

What, a little marking on a scope, unreadable by the target is going to lose hearts and minds and make the excitable muslims beleive our troops are on a "crusade", anyone else think that's highly unlikely? Wouldn't our fundamentalist enemies be in more of an uproar if they're shot by atheist rifles?

This is as stupid as the prohibition on US Forces using Israeli manufactured 5.56mm ammunition in Iraq and Afghanistan but that it can only be used for training.

This is a tempest in a teapot, and the silly faux outrage over the military using some very effective scopes is ridiculous. Personally, I'd prefer they quoted Joshua 10:12-13 on the sight but its their company and they can put on it what they wish.

Interestingly, Michigan seems to be a hot spot for weapons sights development and production. Not only is Trijicon located here, but so is EOTech, the manufacturer of the excellent line of holographic weapons sights (in Ann Arbor of all places).

Remind me to make my next purchase of night sights be Trijicons.

Has Michigan Got Carp?

The Detroit News: Asian carp DNA found in Lake Michigan for first time

Feds: Don't panic over carp - DNA found in lakes; Granholm calls for White House summit

In short, even as certain Federal agencies deny it, it is most likely that the Asian Carp have already made their way into the Great Lakes, via the Chicago sanitary canal, and all the fiddling around and delays in closing the Chicago canal permitted this to happen.

You'll notice Obama is backing Chicago rather than the ecosystem of the Great Lakes - No big surprise there.
For Cox, Tuesday's pair of announcements added up to bitter news, and he placed much of the blame for it at the feet of President Barack Obama.

"President Obama said he would not tolerate new threats to the Great Lakes, yet he has left the front door to Lake Michigan wide open," Cox said in a press release.

"Billions in economic activity and 800,000 Michigan jobs connected with the health of the lakes are at risk. His indifference is just stunning."

Cox was not alone in his criticism of the president. Noah Hall, a professor specializing in environmental law at Wayne State University, said Obama's failure to step in and compel closure of the waterways shows more concern for the objections expressed by the shipping industry and many of Illinois' elected officials.

"This was supposed to be the Great Lakes president," Hall said. "I don't think we're seeing that. What we're seeing is a Chicago president."

On the potential upside, Asian Carp is apparently tasty and good for you too, so this may open a new sport fishing angle for Michigan. It also might let us have an export to China where the carp is a prized eating fish. Then again the risk it presents to harming the current fish populations likely overwhelms any such potential reward.

At the very least, if we want to eradicate them, Michigan and the other states surrounding the Great Lakes should declare open season on carp for all anglers with no license required and no catch limits.

Brown Wins in MA - First Republican Senator From Massachusetts in 37 years!

Since 1972, MA has had two Democrat Senators.

Not anymore.

Democrats seek back footing after epic loss in Massachusetts election Yes it was an epic victory when you consider that Brown started with no national Republican support against an entrenched Democrat establishement.

In one of the country's most traditionally liberal states, Brown rode a wave of voter anger to defeat Coakley, the attorney general who had been considered a surefire winner until just days ago. Her loss signaled big political problems for Obama and the Democratic Party this fall when House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates are on the ballot nationwide.
To have it most simply put, voters, even in Massachussets of all places, decided Obama and the Democrats were pushing too far left, too fast and taking the nation down with them.

A special thanks to the voters of Massachussets today for making a great decision and trusting the Republicans to put things right. Here's to hoping Brown and the Republicans are worthy of that trust. If they are, expect a massive sea change in Congress in 2010.

Friday, January 15, 2010

UAW to the Obama(croco)dile - Tax Me Last

The Detroit News reports that the UAW is now supporting Obama and the "Cadillac tax" funnily enough the Detroit news neglects to explain why: Union leaders won't fight tax on 'Cadillac' insurance plans

In a major breakthrough, union leaders bowed Thursday to White House demands for a new tax on high-cost health plans as part of landmark health care legislation taking final shape in intensive negotiations.

"We are on the doorstep" of success, President Barack Obama said.

The tentative agreement on the tax, which included significant concessions by the administration, was disclosed as leading lawmakers set an informal timetable of today for a compromise on the health care bill that Obama made a top priority in taking office a year ago.
Notice how these "significant concessions" ar e not identified and reported on by the Detroit News?

Instead, you have to go to Megan McArdle's Blog to find out what the concessions are: Special Deal for Labor Unions in Health Care Bill
And so it looks like they may have reached a deal sooner than otherwise expected: unions get a special two-year exclusion from the tax.
...Early reports understated the deal, which now has the excise tax kicking in for labor unions in 2018.

In other words you will be subject to the 40% tax if you're not in a Union immediately, meanwhile the Union members' benefits aren't taxed until 2018, and expect an extension then, if not before then, if the Democrats can get away with it.

There's certainly no amount of special deals and outright bribes using taxpayer's money that this administration won't do to get this abominable health care "reform" bill passed.

Snakes, why did it have to be Snakes?

New pythons set off fears of super snake
Fears of a new super snake emerging in the Everglades grew this week during a hunt to track South Florida's invasive python population.

A three-day, state-coordinated hunt that started Tuesday had, by Wednesday, discovered at least five African rock pythons -- including a 14-foot female -- in a targeted area in Miami-Dade County.

Those findings add to concerns that the rock python is a new breeding population in the Everglades and not just the result of a few overgrown pets released into the wild, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

State officials worry that rock pythons could breed with Burmese pythons, which already have established a foothold in the Everglades. That could lead to a new super snake, said George Horne, water district deputy executive director.

In Africa, the rock python eats everything from goats to crocodiles. The snakes have even killed children.

"They are bigger and meaner than the Burmese python. It's not good news," said Deborah Drum, district deputy director.

Perhaps a little more control on the import of invasive dangerous species would be in order.

Its time for open season and a bounty on pythons in Florida before this gets out of hand.

Just think of all those boots and purses just waiting to be harvested.

Extra style points for taking a python with a Colt Python.

State response to unsustainable budgets - raise taxes

Tam at View From The Porch comments on the unsustainable budgets states are rapidly accumulating and their proposal to fix them - raise taxes.
Meanwhile, with tax revenues cratering, state budget shortfalls are getting huge, as the towering entitlement edifices of places like California and New York are left with nothing to support their pie in the sky programs:

Of course, this leads to talk about fixing the problem by raising taxes, instead of shutting off the spigot to the trough
She finishes with the question: State legislators have a historic opportunity to slash deadwood here, rather than continuing to try to buy Band-Aids by the bushel.

You all know the answer to that - of course not.

Instead they'll start shooting the hostages first - close schools, reduce police and fire departments, road construction and winter servicing - anything to make the tax payers howl and cough up money for the essential services.

Meanwhile they'll keep plugging along and expand the non-essential but very lucrative (for politicians and their supporters, anyways) services and budget areas of government that caused the budget shortfall in the first place.

That is the Democrat plan so far here in Michigan and it may be working: Polls say Michiganians back higher taxes -

Michiganians are willing to shoulder a little more of the tax burden to spur economic growth and pay for essential state services, according to a new kind of scientific poll released Thursday by Stanford University, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.

Two kinds of public opinion sampling -- a conventional survey of 300 residents and a "deliberative poll" that brought a cross-section of 314 people in Lansing for a weekend in November to hash out the issues -- found people willing to raise sales and income taxes and cut business taxes.

After Governor Granholm's and the Democrats slashing school funding, State Police, road repair and revenue sharing with local units of government for things like police and snow removal services and otherwise balancing the budget with cuts to the essential services, its no wonder the public is crying "Uncle" (or is it "Auntie" in this case?

Look for more of this tactic in a state near you.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sign of the Times: Concealed Carry Permits Double in Michigan

Thanks to rising crime and the Gun Salesman of the Year, applications for Concealed Pistol Licenses doubled in number over last year's total.

The Detroit Free Press: Gun permits doubled in Michigan in 2009
Applications and approvals for concealed weapons permits in Michigan doubled last year, as more than 73,000 people sought to obtain or renew licenses in the 12 months ending June 30, and 66,446 were approved, according to a recently released state police report.

That compared to 33,411 applications and 26,578 approvals in the preceding 12-month period.

A department spokeswoman had no immediate explanation for the increase this morning. There have been widespread reports of increased firearm and ammunition sales in 2009, stemming from fears in some quarters that President Obama and a Democratic Party control of Congress might lead to new gun controls.

Between the worries of an avowed gun banner in the White House and a Democrat-controlled Congress, it is no wonder, after all people respond to incentives.

Combine that with the fact that Michigan has the highest per-capita violent crime rate in the Great Lakes region, the fewest police officers per capita and an apparent catch and early release program, its no wonder responsible people are looking to themselves for protection.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another Arab Disturbance On A Northwest Aircraft to Detroit

This is becoming a troubling pattern.

Flight 243, again a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit had four Saudi Arab males removed from the aircraft upon landing.

Detroit Bound Flight Crew Made Jittery by Muslim Passengers
Four Muslim Men Are Questioned After One Hides His Head Under a Blanket
Another jittery flight crew questioned the actions of a few Muslim passengers today, causing yet another flight to be delayed and police to question the four men.
Surveillance footage shows the security breach that resulted in flight delays.

As Northwest Airlines flight 243 from Amsterdam to Detroit -- the same route taken by a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a plane Christmas Day -- began its descent on Detroit, four passengers began to act in ways that alarmed their fellow passengers.

One or more of the men reportedly pulled a blanket over his head. When the plane landed at around 1:05 p.m., it was met by police.
Apparently they were also joking about terrorism in Arabic, luckily the Air Marshals on board spoke Arabic.

Was this yet another test of the system, especially as it succeeded in exposing 4 Air Marshals that were on the flight, or even a dry run for an attempt perhaps?

Other Bloggers covering this:

The blogprof: Déjà vu: Another Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detroit disrupted this time by unruly Saudis. Most media only calls them "unruly passengers," won't divulge nationalityDebbie

Debbie Schlussel: AGAIN!: Northwest Amsterdam Flight Disrupted by Unruly Middle Eastern Passengers; UPDATED + VIDEO

Michelle Malkin:
Four Saudis disrupt Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight

Michigan Democrat and Republican Prosecuting Attorneys Agree - Gov Granholm's Early Release Policies Are Increasing Crime In The State

Law enforcement officials lament early release of prisoners
Letting dangerous criminals out as early as possible on parole, in order for the state to save money has consequences:
Choking back tears Tuesday, Tameka Briggs gave her testimonial.

“There’s a chance that my dad would still be with me today,” Briggs said, if the man convicted of causing his murder hadn’t previously been freed from prison at the earliest possible date.

Briggs is the daughter of Willie C. Rice, shot dead at age 69 in his Muskegon home during a robbery last June 20. Derrick Lynell Hewlett, convicted of felony murder for organizing the robbery, had been paroled a year earlier after serving exactly 20 months of a 20-month-to-20-year sentence for cocaine delivery.
Talk about catch and release!

Prosecutors Tony Tague of Muskegon County, Bill Forsyth of Kent County, Chrystal Roach of Newaygo County and Andrea Krause of Montcalm County, as well as Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler, all spoke at the Muskegon presentation. They were flanked by police chiefs and sheriffs’ officials from across West Michigan.

The law enforcers’ message was bipartisan. Tague and Roesler are Democrats, the other prosecutors are Republican. All oppose recent corrections policies of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration.

Their message was uniform: They said earlier release of prison inmates is hurting public safety.
It harms public safety and transfers more consts onto individuals rather the the state. The state saves money by not having the criminals in jail, but the individual that becomes the released criminal's target in a robbery or worse pays the price, and that's often a higher price than the cost to the state for keeping the criminal locked up.

The article goes on to point out:
According to law-enforcement officials opposing earlier paroles:

• Michigan has the highest per-capita violent crime rate in the Great Lakes region.

• Michigan has the region’s fewest police officers per capita.

• Michigan sends the lowest ratio of felons to prison in the region — two of 10, compared to the national average of four in 10.

• Michigan spends $32,817 annually per prisoner, Ohio $25,268 and Texas $15,527.

• Michigan’s prison population has dropped from 51,544 to 45,478, down 11.8 percent in 20 months.

— Sources: 2009 reports by Council of State Governments, Office of Community Corrections, Pew Center on the States and Michigan Department of Corrections
Could there possibly be a correlation between Michigan having the highest rate of violent crime in the region and its failure to keep dangerous felons in prison? One would think so, and it is time Granholm ended the early and easy parole policies for violent criminals and kept them locked up. A government's prime function is the safety and protection of its citizens, and Michigan seems to be doing as badly at that as the other areas where this state continues to fall down on its responsibilities.

Funny, Dead-On Review of Avatar

Check out The Filthy Critic's review - its well worth reading. For example:
Filthy: Okay, I'll get this started. Avatar is a major crapload.
Jimmy: Jik jik jik!
Filthy: It is! It looks great, like a truckload of diamonds for sure. But, good lord, the story is a trite, patronizing pile of Hollywood arrogance. The new agey theme and cornball dialog nearly drowns out any goodwill earned by the movie's fancy-ass creation of a fantastic new world.
Jimmy: Jik jik jik!
Filthy: Jimmy says he agrees with me.
And it gets more acerbic and funnier from there

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Imam Elahi Is Upset That The US Will Scrutinize Travellers From Some Arab Countries

Imam Elahi in his irregular column in the Detroit news Religion section, complains that the US is going to subject travellers from certain Muslim-majority countries to higher scrutiny: Expanding terror watch list discriminates against Muslims
In response to the reported attempt by Nigerian Abdulmutallab to ignite explosives aboard the airplane, the Transportation Security Administration has decided to add to the watch list many innocent Americans and passengers from 13 Arab and Muslim countries plus Cuba. This is not the answer.

and he plays the "American liberties card":
While it is an obligation for citizens to contribute to the security of our nation, our liberty must not be a scapegoat. That is the spirit of American Founding Father Patrick Henry.
Hmm., yes some travelers from those countries may be US Citizens but I doubt the majority will be and so its quite the non sequitur feel good phrase.

He also states:
During the past decade, millions of ordinary travelers including myself have navigated the maze of the Amsterdam airport's special security procedures. Yet suddenly this alleged terrorist, whose father had already alerted authorities about extremist associations, passed through security without special checking.
Imam Elahi, you're a former mullah of the Ayatollahs IRANIAN NAVY for Allah's sake! You know the Navy that has made attacks against US interests in the past, for a foreign power that considers America to be the Great Satan, and a country that has launched attacks and supports terrorism against Americans worldwide. If that doesn't mean you merit careful scrutiny then we have a problem.

Of course to Elahi terrorism is bad:
Terrorism is a crime not only against the people and property but also against morality. Detroit Muslim leaders, community members and the Muslim passengers of that aircraft sent a message to the world that there is no place in Islam or in any true faith tradition for terrorism and the destruction of human life. The Ten Commandments says "You shall not murder," and Prophet Mohammad said even in a serious battlefield the life of the enemy's women and children must be safe.

Except of course he's not against terrorism when its for the cause of Islam, then its ok terrorism:
To use Abdulmutallab's case to expand discrimination against Muslims is unfair and immoral. In the beginning, the Palestinians were labeled terrorists because they resisted occupation. This labeling has since spread to all Arabs, Muslims and now Islam itself.

Applying double standards and dividing political violence into good and bad hasn't helped in the past and won't in the future.
So does Elahi now mean that terrorism isn't terrorism when Arabs and Muslims do it, its all just "resisting occupation" or to redress some perpetual grievance or another?

Elahi finishes by throwing out the old root causes canard, ending with a throwaway statement that radicalism could be stopped with better education and social services. Yes, really:
It is caused by social, political, cultural and economic factors and should be treated with education, and social services. To win this struggle, we need to diagnose the diseases and have the determination to create peace and justice. I wish our president the best in dealing with this political and social challenge.
The president will do his best when he and his advisers quit listening to such tripe, and when Elahi and others like him manage to be unequivocal about condemning terrorism without inserting limiting and conditional statements on such condemnation.

Obama and the UAW butting heads over Health Care

Not only is this Health Care reform mess annoying your non-Obama fans who see a runaway train headed down the tracks on the way to damage the US economy even more, but it is aggravating some of his key constituents.

UAW chief to fight 'Cadillac tax'
United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger told reporters he will be in meetings today and Thursday in Washington to fight the so-called "Cadillac tax" on more expensive employer-sponsored health care plans.

The Senate health care bill has a new tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored insurance policies, which has been dubbed the "Cadillac tax." The measure wasn't in the House version of the bill. Now, the two chambers are trying to reach a compromise.

President Barack Obama supports the 40 percent annual tax on individual health plans worth more than $8,500, and above $23,000 for families. "Our people are researching it now," Gettelfinger told reporters on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show.

The White House defended the president's support of the tax.

Obama "supported the Senate bill and that provision was in that bill for what it does in terms of changing the direction of health care costs," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday.

The White House said the tax would raise nearly $150 billion in revenue over 10 years to help pay for health care reform.

Still, Gettelfinger says he wants the tax eliminated -- or at the very least an increase in the minimum level that would be taxed.

When you lose the UAW on your prized piece of legislation to mess with 16% of the US economy supposedly to help your political base, you know you're doing it wrong. Not to mention further aggravating the UAW by calling it a Cadillac tax - again hammering the domestics. Obama should been more UAW-savvy and called it a Lexus tax.

Of course the UAW has fought for and received for its members benefits far beyond Cadillac health care plans for its members. The UAW's Cadillac is a big part of the reason why there's no more Pontiac.

Chinese Toy Manufacturers Just Don't Get It

In an effort to deal with their dangerous use of lead in children's toys, the Chinese toy manufacturers decided to responsibly replace it.

With a substance that is even more harmful.


The Detroit News: U.S. warns about cadmium

Federal and state watchdogs opened a new front Monday in the campaign to keep poisons out of Chinese imports, launching inquiries into high levels of cadmium in children's jewelry while Wal-Mart pulled many suspect items from its store shelves.

A day after the Associated Press documented the contamination in an investigative report, the top U.S. consumer safety regulator warned Asian manufacturers not to substitute other toxins for lead in children's charm bracelets and pendants.

Regulators and lawmakers reacted swiftly to the AP report, which found that some Chinese manufacturers have been using cadmium, sometimes at extraordinarily high levels. Congress clamped down on lead in those products in 2008, but cadmium is even more harmful.

. . .

Cadmium, which is known to cause cancer, is a soft, whitish metal that occurs naturally in soil. It's perhaps best known as half of rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, but also is used in pigments, electroplating and plastic.

Cadmium is attractive to Chinese manufacturers because it is cheap and easy to work with. But, like lead, it can hinder brain development in the very young.

There's pretty clearly a reality disconnect in the manufacturing industry over there, and apparently no regard for end user safety.

Up next, what will the Chinese replace the Cadmium with - maybe Plutonium for an extra sparkle? After all it is a silvery colored metal and gives the kids a happy glow...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Abdulmutallab, American Values, And The Problem Of Treating War As A Law Enforcement Excercise

The blogprof reports that Detroit bomber 'singing like a canary' before arrest until he was treated as an ordinary criminal and advised of his right to silence. You'll note he had to get this from The Telegraph, a United Kingdom newspaper as no word of such has been reported in the local news.

Indeed, the provision of full American criminal law protections, including such lawyering-up is being praised by some former Michigan US Attorneys as a wonderful triumph of law: American values v. Abdulmutallab
As former U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, we are confident in the ability of the federal justice system to handle the trial of Abdulmutallab and any other terrorism suspect. During our time at the U.S. Department of Justice, we never felt the need to stray from our traditional justice system to prosecute those responsible for heinous crimes. There is no need to start now.

And therein lies the rub. The honorable former US District Attorneys, and President Obama for that matter, are mistakenly treating this as a criminal matter, note their emphasis when they say "prosecute those responsible for heinous crimes". After all they're very good at law enforcement and that's the mode in which they function so they slot Abdulmutallab into the criminal defendant slot and proceed from there.

Now, lawyering-up is a time-honored American Tradition, certainly valid for American citizens and others who reside or visit the US. But whether we should extend it to a terrorist with whom, as has been stated even by President Obama that, "we are at war", a terrorist who would not have even touched American soil had his plan been successful is ridiculous.

Indeed, such action is dangerous, as noted by the blogprof, valuable and time-sensitive intelligence has been lost due to the underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab being allowed to invoke the Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights, rights for which he is not entitled. He is not a criminal but instead a terrorist or saboteur and a thorough interrogation, followed by execution is all he is entitled to under the laws of war.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

An Antoninanus Of Gordian III

Obverse: Radiate crowned draped bust facing right.

Reverse: Pax standing left, holding an olive branch.
Inscription: PAX AVGVSTI

Silver antoninianus, Sear #2447, RIC 17.

Gordian III, M. Antonius Gordianus lasted as emperor from AD 238-244. His recent predecessors Gordian I only lasted for 21 days in 238 AD, as did Gordian II his son and co-ruler. There were a total of 6 emperors in conflict and rapid succession in 238, surpassing the famous and far better known year of The Year of Four Emperors, 69 AD. Gordian III was made emperor by the Praetorian Guards after the Praetorians killed the Emperors Balbinus and Pupienus.

The antoninianus was a replacement for the denarius, a product of the rampant inflation that occurred during the Roman Empire. The antoninianus is also referred to as a double denarius, even as it is only slightly larger than a denarius as historians have not found an agreed upon term for this coin. Given it was introduced by Caracalla (M. Aurelius Antoninianus) it is named after him. The antoninianus are distingushed easily from the slightly smaller denarius as the antoniniani always depict the emperor wearing a radiate crown.

The Antoniniani begin as good silver, and over time with inflation become silver-washed bronze coins, as we'll see later.

The coin is rather ironic proclaiming the Peace of the Emperor, as Gordian's reign did not end peacefully. Gordian III was killed while on campaign in Mesopotamia by the head of his Praetorian Guard, his Praetorian Praefect, M. Julis Phillipus.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Experts say terror watch lists have limited uses

Especially when nobody running security reads them.

(Thanks for the headline, Detroit News)

Muslims burn churches in Malaysia, BBC refers to it as a "row"

In yrt another display of religious tolerance for which they are famously known, Muslims in malysia are busy burning churches agfter being dismayed to learn that it is legal in malaysia for non Muslims to say the word Allah.

Yes really.

BBC: Malaysian churches fire-bombed as 'Allah' row escalates
Three churches have been attacked in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, ahead of protests by Muslim groups.

The administrative offices of one church were destroyed by a firebomb attack and one of the other two churches attacked was slightly damaged.

Some Muslim groups are angry at a court decision allowing non-Muslims to use the word Allah to refer to God.

The government of the mainly Muslim nation has condemned the attacks on the churches and vowed to take action.

About 60% of Malaysians are Malay Muslims and the government relies on their vote.

There also significant Chinese and Indian minorities, who are mainly Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.

The controversy stems from a ban on a Catholic newspaper, The Herald, using the word Allah in its Malay-language edition.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court struck down the three-year old ban on non-Muslims using of the word Allah.

Note how the BBC refers to this a s a "row" for those of you who speak English rather than British a row is defined as
When you're having a row with someone, you're quarreling and arguing. It's common to use this term to describe sibling rivalries, husband and wife fights, and any situation where someone is involved in some sort of shouting match.

I first heard this on the radio driving in theis morning and beleive the BBC world service referred to it a s a "clash" or "dispute" between malaysian muslims and Christians.

Whether a row, clash or a dispute, it normally takes two sides to tango and the BBC's moral equivalence between the wrongdoers and their victims in this matter is unfortunate but bloody typical of the BBC.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Republican National Committee is, if anything, predictable

Unfortunately, it is predictably going in the wrong direction.

As noted by Push the Door, the Republicans at the national level aren't doing much to support Scott Brown for the senate seat in Massachusetts. Passing up a great chance to work with popular dissatisfaction over the Democrats and a fighting chance to pick up a Senate seat in yes Massachusetts of all places, the RNC goes belly up.

Yes, the Republican National Committee, never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

hat tip: View From The Porch

Update: At least the RNC is at least promoting Brown now as seen at Riehl World View: Steele, RNC Raising Money For Scott Brown.

Hopefully, the RNC will back this up with some of their own funds in addition to asking others to make donations.

Arab pulled off Detroit bound flight after threatening to kill Jews

In yet another Detroit-bound Northwest airlines incident, a man was removed from a flight after uttering threats.

The Detroit News: Witnesses: Man taken off Detroit-bound flight shouted anti-Semitic slurs
An airline passenger in Miami proclaimed, "I want to kill all the Jews," before police forced him off a Detroit-bound plane, authorities said today.

Mansor Mohammad Asad, 43, of Toledo, Ohio, was arrested Wednesday night, according to a Miami-Dade Police Department statement. Asad was charged with threats against a public servant, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer without violence.

FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said there were no indications the disturbance was related to terrorism. The bureau was initially brought in to look into the incident but is no longer involved in the investigation. She said the FBI is treating the disruption as a matter for local authorities.

The disturbance forced a taxiing Northwest Airlines flight to turn around at Miami International Airport, according to a news release. Witnesses told investigators who boarded the plane that Asad was loud, disruptive and claimed to be Palestinian.

Officers didn't find any weapons or explosives on Asad, who was reportedly agitated and aggressive at times, according to an arrest affidavit. Authorities used a stun gun to subdue Asad on the jet bridge after he charged at an officer with fists clenched. He also chanted in a foreign language and threatened officers during a search.

"I'm not afraid of you cops. I've gotten in fights with cops in Ohio and broke their arms in three places," he said, according to the affidavit. "I've broken skulls, too!"

The affidavit noted that alcohol didn't appear to be a factor during the incident.

The Transportation Security Administration says three of Asad's companions were also taken off the plane and questioned. The plane departed after a search.

Asad was transported to a Miami-Dade County jail after his arrest, according to the affidavit. A telephone number for county corrections rang unanswered early this morning, and his records could not immediately be located online.

Yet another incident involving Muslim males, Northwest Airlines and Detroit as a destination. Whether this was merely some loudmouth or a dry run to see how officials would react is hard to tell, and this cluster of activities certainly bears watching and investigation.

Alcohol may not have been a factor as noted in the report, but in the immortal words of Mark Steyn something else was, something that begins with an I and ends with a SLAM.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Flight 253 Bomber Indicted

The new US District Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan wasted no time in indicting Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with
attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted murder and other charges. No terrorism charge has been filed to date.

Can't have terrorism charges of course in these days of "man caused disasters" As an aside, and interestingly enough, on March 16, 2009 Napolitano in her repeat of the "man caused disasters" quote stated to Der Spiegel the following -
"Napolitano: Our policies will be guided by authoritative information. We also have assets at our disposal now that we did not have prior to 9/11. For example, we are much better able to keep track of travellers coming into the US than we were before. The third thing is to work with our international partners and allies to make sure that we are getting information and sharing information in an appropriate and real-time fashion.
Apparently that didn't work too well in this case now did it? Heckuva a job there Napolitano!

In addition the State Department revoked his visa, so he's now a sad little jihadi who blew his one shot at the America dream.

(at least they didn't issue him one post attack as the INS did for Mohammed Atta).

Of course it looks like he'll be a guest at one of our finer federal institutions for awhile:
"The charges ... could imprison him for life," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. "This investigation is fast-paced, global, and ongoing, and it has already yielded valuable intelligence that we will follow wherever it leads.

"Anyone we find responsible for this alleged attack will be brought to justice using every tool -- military or judicial -- available to our government."

In Detroit, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said: "The attempted murder of 289 innocent people merits the most serious charges available, and that's what we have charged in this indictment."

The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds.

Abdulmutallab, 23, is being held at Milan federal prison.

The most serious charge brought against Abdulmutallab -- attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction -- carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

That charge and the attempted murder count mirror the charges brought against shoe bomber Richard Reid, who attempted to use chemical explosives hidden in his shoes to blow up an American Airlines flight in 2001. He is now serving a life sentence.
- Too bad we don't try him and then execute him as happened to saboteurs in prior wars instead of wasting good prison space with his useless scumbag self.

Clinton: U.S. still open to talks with Iran

Detroit Free Press: Clinton says U.S. still open to talks with Iran
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said today the Obama administration remains open to negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, despite intransigence from Tehran.

Speaking to reporters at the State Department, Clinton said it is clear that administration efforts to engage Iran in talks to restrain its nuclear program in 2009 fell short.

Fell short? Doesn't the term "miserable failure" sound like a more accurate description?
Clinton said the administration is consulting with other nations about new sanctions, but she stressed that this does not mean the administration is abandoning its effort to start a dialogue with Iran.

There is no hard-and-fast deadline for Iran to respond, she said.

"We've avoided using the term 'deadline' ourselves," she said. "That's not a term we have used because we want to keep the door to dialogue open. But we've also made it clear we can't continue to wait and we cannot continue to stand by when the Iranians themselves talk about increasing their production of highly enriched uranium" and taking other steps toward possible production of nuclear weapons.
Could it be because a "deadline" would imply you have to do something when the deadline expires? This administration seems quite detached from effective dealing in foreign affairs. Obama seems to dither around on foreign policy and while trying to "extend a hand", keeps meeting a clenched fist, gets socked in the nose and then puts out the same hand again and expects a different result.

Has the "World's Policeman" now gone British: Stop or we'll talk again?

RIP: Survivor of Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic blasts dies at 93

Talk about being in the wrong places at the wrong times.
Sole Double Atomic Bomb Survivor Dies in Japan
Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only person officially recognized as a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings at the end of World War II, has died at age 93.

Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip for his shipbuilding company on Aug. 6, 1945, when a U.S. B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He suffered serious burns to his upper body and spent the night in the city.

He then returned to his hometown of Nagasaki, about 190 miles southwest, which suffered a second U.S. atomic bomb attack three days later.

Mr. Yamaguchi's luck was as bad as that of Fireman William Clarke - a crewman who was on, and survived the sinkings of both the Titanic and the Empress of Ireland.

Slovak mistake almost turns man into a cancelled Czech.

Slovak Officials Admit Planting Explosives on Innocent Flier in Security Test
Slovak officials on Wednesday blamed "a silly and unprofessional mistake" for a failed airport security test that led to a man unwittingly carrying hidden explosives in his bag aboard a flight to Dublin.

. . .

Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak expressed "profound regret" to the Irish government for the oversight and the three-day delay in alerting Irish authorities about the Saturday incident.

The explosives never posed a danger to the flight, the interior ministry said Wednesday, even as it ordered an immediate halt to such tests and took steps to prevent a repeat of failed security test.

. . .

Security experts said the episode illustrated the inadequacy of security screening of checked-in luggage — the very point the Slovak authorities had sought to test when they placed real bomb components in nine passengers' bags Saturday.

"The aim of the training was to keep sniffer dogs in shape and on alert in a real environment," the ministry said.

Eight items were detected. But one bag had two bomb components in it. The sniffer dog found one but the police officer in charge failed to remove the second, which was not detected by the dog, because he was busy, the ministry said.

That allowed 90 grams (3 ounces) of RDX plastic explosive to travel undetected through security at Poprad-Tatry Airport in central Slovakia onto a Danube Wings aircraft. The Slovak carrier launched services to Dublin last month.

"The police officer made a silly and unprofessional mistake, which turned the good purpose of protecting people into a problem," the statement said.

Slovak authorities realized their error and told the pilot of the Danube Wings flight, who then decided to still take off with the sample on board, the ministry statement said.

"No one was in danger, because the substance without any other components (needed to bring it to a detonation) and under the conditions it was stored, is not dangerous," the ministry said.

Slovak border police subsequently traced the man and told him where the explosive was planted so that he was able to find it Monday evening, said the ministry. Kalinak, the interior minister, called him to apologize.

The man was not identified. Slovak media said he is a 49-year-old electrician who works and lives in Ireland.

The ministry said it contacted Irish authorities and explained the situation on Tuesday, prompting Irish police to raid the man's Dublin apartment. A major north Dublin intersection was shut down Tuesday and neighboring apartment buildings were evacuated as a precaution while Irish Army experts inspected the explosive.

The man was detained for several hours then released without charge.

Irish police said they initially were led to believe the man might be a terrorist until the Slovaks explained the situation further.

Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said Dublin police eventually confirmed that the explosive "was concealed without his knowledge or consent ... as part of an airport security exercise."

The Slovak statement criticized the Irish police action.

"For an incomprehensible reason for us, they took the person into custody and undertook further security measures," it said.

Authorities in Slovakia were considering "new forms of sniffer dog training" to avoid a repeat of the scare, the ministry said.
One would hope so.

On the upside, at least they are performing very realistic tests.....

Dearbornistan High Sweat Shirt Follies

Dearbornistan, the area with the highest number of Arabs outside the Middle East is making the news yet again, as a bunch of Arab students enthusiastically promote their class shirt:

Classy huh? Any similarity to 9/11 and any symbolic support for terrorism is of course purely coincidental. Interesting mindset to wear this sweat shirt don't you think?

From Foxnews:
nine Detroit area high school juniors are in trouble for wearing sweat shirts bearing a design that evokes the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center's Twin Towers.

Dearborn Public Schools spokesman David Mustonen has told The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press that the shirts the boys wore to Edsel Ford High School on Monday are "offensive" and in "poor taste."

The boys are Arab-American, as are about half the school's 1,700 students.

They belong to the 2011 class. On the shirts, the number 11 resembles two buildings, with the school's "Thunderbird" mascot flying toward them. Printed beneath the image are the words, "You can't bring us down."

The boys are to meet with school officials but suspensions are not planned.

Contrast this with the oh-so-reassuring "study' from Duke University: Study: Threat of Homegrown Terrorism Exaggerated .
Researchers identified 139 American Muslims who had been accused of planning or carrying out terror-related violence since the September 11 attacks.

The report's authors say that number is significant but small compared to terror cases in other countries, and compared to overall violent crime in the U.S.

The study credits self-policing in American Muslim communities for limiting radicalization.

The report released Wednesday is from Duke University and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. There was a spike in the number of cases last year, but researchers say it's too soon to know whether that's a trend.
Now don't you feel so much better?

Update: Debbie Schlussel notes that the sweatshirts were indeed about support for the terrorists on 9/11 and flight 253: Told Ya So: Arab Muslim Students Admit Sweatshirts Were Belligerence About 9/11, Flight 253

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Performing Terrorist Jobs Americans won't do -- US Diversity Visas for Yemen?

Ah the wonders of diversity. As reported by the blogprof - Hope? State Department Using 'Diversity Visas' to Encourage Immigration to U.S. from Terror-Ridden Yemen.
the blogprof quotes CNS News:
The State Department has awarded 1,011 special “diversity visas” allowing Yemeni nationals to immigrate to the United States since 2000, the year 17 U.S. sailors were killed when the USS Cole was attacked by terrorists in the Yemeni port of Aden.

The "diversity visas" are designed to encourage immigration from countries that do not otherwise send significant numbers of immigrants to the United States.

...That the U.S. would encourage immigration from Yemen during the past decade is of interest because of the terrorist problem in that country.

I guess we need these diverse immigrants because after all, there are some terrorist jobs that Americans just won't do, and these immigrants will.

Is the GOP Leadership doing some soul searching and waking up?

It looks like the GOP heads may be realizing how it has lost course (and conservative support) the past few years.

GOP chief: Republicans 'screwed up' after Reagan
Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele offers a simple explanation for why the GOP all too often lost touch with typical Americans since the Ronald Reagan era: "We screwed up," he claims in a new book offering a blueprint for the party's resurgence.

That "we" includes the last two Republican presidents and the most recent Republican candidate for president.

. . .

"We must support Republican officials who assert these principles," he writes. "When elected Republicans vote against Republican principles, the voters must withhold their support - withhold it vigorously and consistently."

. . .

To regain the public confidence, Steele says the GOP should, among other things, expose the "reign of error" inherent in liberal policies, contrast conservative and liberal principles, and highlight the damage caused by Obama's policies while explaining conservative solutions.

More surprising, the GOP chairman directly or indirectly criticizes:

-President George H.W. Bush for raising taxes two years after President Ronald Reagan left office, though Steele ignores the fact that Reagan raised taxes too.

-President George W. Bush for not vetoing any spending bills during his first five years in office. He calls Bush and other Republicans "enablers for big government" and derides the Bush administration's Troubled Asset Relief Program as "a massive government slush fund."

-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the party's 2008 presidential nominee, for backing censorship of political speech through the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. Steele says the GOP erred in allowing itself to be associated with "a national political speech code."

-Republican lawmakers in general, who allowed spending to rise from 2001 to 2004, went along with TARP and McCain-Feingold, and supported the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.

"We must quickly learn our lessons, return to our principles and move on," Steele concludes.
About time and certainly its appropriate that Steele has acknowledged the problem.

Too bad the lessons weren't learned, and principles not adhered to years ago, but there's still time before the 2010 elections for the GOP to prove its learned its lesson and that it deserves a shot at governing again.

Sometimes Non-Productivity is a feature, not a bug

Especially when it is the Michigan Legislature not being "productive": They could have done better
Lawmakers were on the way to their lowest output of this decade until they passed 50 more bills in the flurry of activity just before they adjourned for the year on Dec. 20. That put them up near the 240 mark -- there's not an official tally yet -- topping the low of 221 acts adopted in 2007. Two of the most-significant measures passed in December: A state-wide ban on smoking in restaurants and bars but not on Detroit casinos' gaming floors; and a package of new education reforms that position Michigan to compete for millions in Obama administration Race to the Top school money. We'd call it a good year's work if they also had passed at least a few of the spending reforms to deal with another looming budget deficit in the $2-billion range. Instead, they've left a lot of heavy lifting for the year ahead.

Low output means fewer laws clogging the works, and that's something to be applauded, not something to be miffed about.

The Detroit New's enchantment with the "flurry" of 50 new laws in less than 20 days in December to get the legislature to beat their previous low is hardly something to be happy about.

After all, it should not be a cause to celebrate that the legislature beat 2007's low of 221, but rather something to ponder that we're now faced with 240 or so new laws from 2009 to live with that we lived without well enough in 2008.

Michigan's Lt. Governor Cherry apparently not going to run for Governor

Given that he would have to run on Governor "You'll Be Blown Away" (and we were) Granholm, its not surprising that Lt. Governor Cherry is backing out of the Democrat top spot for the race for Governor.

BREAKING NEWS: Lt. Gov. Cherry won't run for governor
Democratic Lt. Gov. John Cherry has decided against running for Michigan governor, Democratic Party sources said today.

Longtime party fundraiser Faylene Owen confirmed today that Cherry, who had not formally entered the race, won't try to succeed Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, saying the tough economy and Granholm's record have made it difficult for Cherry to raise money.

The Cherry campaign could not be reached to confirm whether or not he was pulling out of the race.
As the report notes, it is still unconfirmed if this is his decision or not.

One can hardly blame Lt. Gov. Cherry for making such a decision, running on Granholm's record and the resultant Depression Michigan is in would make his chance of winning a Sisyphean task at best.

This is unfortunate, because with the exception of Mark Hackel, he's probably the best the Democrats would have to offer for Michigan. The replacement contestants will likely be far worse for Michigan, offering even worse leftist ideas to keep Michigan in its current economic free-fall.

Update: as Noted by the blogprof, Obama may have had a hand in this decision. Given the way the Obama administration has interfered in other Governor's races, it would not be surprising.

Update: Lt. Gov Cherry confirmed that he will not be running to suceede Granholm.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year's Day Film Review - Avatar

So yesterday while my wife and her sister went to see Up In the Air (consensus - not a great movie but George Clooney still has appeal to the ladies), I went with my 12 year old niece to see Avatar in 3D.

Best advice I can give you for watching Avatar is 4 words- Leave Your Mind Behind.

That way you won't be bothered by the ridiculous plot, the gaping plot holes in the same plot, and the goofy anti-western, noble native American yipping, African wisdom espousing Dances-With-Smurfs-In-The-Future storyline.

By the end I was half expecting Avatrar to explain the nature of Pandora by the presence of Midi-Chloridians.

On the upside, it was worth paying a for the 3D version as the effects were fantastic. The only downside to 3D was that in certain jungle chase scenes, the images seemed to fuzz out and you couldn't quite see what was happening. Not sure if this was deliberate, if it appears in other forms of the film or if it was a 3D glitch.

Don't expect Avatar to win any best storyline awards anytime soon. While it should sweep the best special effects category without too much trouble, and as long as you go see Avatar for the EFFECTS, you won't be disappointed.
Now, if they can combine these effects with a compelling story (Maybe John Ringo's Posleen Wars, then there would be a great movie.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy 2010 to all.

2009 passed by gracefully at the house with a festive meal, a toast to the year that was, gifts for the kids, and champagne to welcome in the New Year.

Happy New Year to all and may 2010 be better than 2009.