Friday, February 18, 2011


"When is a debt not a debt? When you have no intention to pay it back."

Frozen Turbine
Curveball was one of the sources that the world relied on for intelligence from inside Iraq. Working for the German intelligence forces, he claimed that there were still the huge stockpiles of WMD that the UN found inside the country after Desert Storm in 1991. Now, he claims he was lying all along, although his motive in doing so isn't clear. My response is pretty much like Ace, where I saw the story first: even if he was lying, that doesn't negate the fact that we know Iraq had WMD at some point in the past, and that the best intel at the time, acted on in good faith, said that he still did. And you know, the coalition didn't invade Iraq for just one reason. There were actually 23 reasons, one of which was WDM, which we did actually find some of.

Something that frustrates me is that we spend so much money on intelligence in America - especially after 9/11 - and get so lousy results. I know that intelligence is largely educated guesses, but with all those people, all that money, and all that time spent you'd think they'd get it right more often. Having the Obama cheif of intelligence admit that he gets his info from the press about Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood isn't exactly encouraging. Michael Waslh in the New York Post runs down some previous humiliating failures:
Of course, the CIA failed to see the coming collapse of the shah's government in Iran as well as the fall of the Soviet Union -- not to mention the entry of Pakistan and India into the nuclear club. Then came 9/11
Left out was Clinton's aspirin factory shelling. It keeps happening and with the stakes this high and the cost so great, maybe its time to reexamine who's in charge, what they're doing and why.

The King James version of the Bible was finished four hundred years ago at the behest of young King James. This version, updated occasionally for linguistic changes, has been in print continually and is the best selling book in the world, in all of history. There's no denying the amazing literary and linguistic beauty of the King James translation, even if its as hard to follow as Shakespeare can be at times.

Ethanol has proven to be a debacle in nearly every way. It has driven up food prices, been demonstrated to be at least as ecologically destructive as ordinary fuel, caused food shortages, and in some blends is actually destructive to engines. That's where fifteen different groups ranging from Calfornia Dairies to the Small Business & Entrepreneurial Council are calling for the shift to greater Ethanol mix in blended gas be stopped. The EPA Plans on requiring this increase soon in the name of global warming and the will of Gaia. Scientists, car makers, and food manufacturers all agree its a bad idea.

The Heritage Foundation filed a Freedom of Information request with the Obama administration. Their goal was to see a Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA) report on the Yucca nuclear storage facility. As readers here learned months ago, President Obama shut the place down (although courts ordered him to re-open it as they ruled he lacked the legal authority under the constitution). The NRA report contained a study of its safety and feasibility, and when Heritage got the report finally they were excited to learn what it told. When they opened up the report, they discovered that both the executive summary and the NRA conclusions had been redacted: blacked out and unreadable. If this data had been favorable to the president's cause you can be sure that it would have been available to study and read.

The EPA has been up to an awful lot lately, trying to control what we do, how we do it, and every aspect they have any remotest oversight for in a vain effort to change the weather. At Redstate, Lady Impact Ohio has a rundown of all they're trying lately, including these lowlights:
  • EPA pulls permit for Arch Coal mine in WVA citing “Clean Water Act” abuse. Aleady in use. WVA is second in coal production in the country.
  • Troubled Massey Energy is bought by Alpha Natural Resources. George Soros had 59,800 shares in Massey. No wonder Arch Coal lost the bid. Soros is now the proud owner of MOST of WVA coal mines.
  • Chevron, who has been embroiled in a lawsuit in Ecuador for 18 years, and was a couple days ago ordered by an Ecuadoran court to fork over $8.6 billion announced it is exiting the coal business.
  • Shell, who was the sole grantee of a permit for oil exploration in the Beaufort Sea after Dept. of Interior announced it’s moratorium was slapped down by the EPA who pulled their air permits. Shell has apparently decided it ain’t worth the hassle to fight the EPA and is pulling the plug on offshore drilling in Alaska.
They're getting help from shows like CSI that ran a hilariously pedantic tract about Fracking and oil production this season (also known as "the last straw" for me).

New Brunswick Canada spent $200 million on a new wind farm, with wind turbines build to generate power for the province. In a turn of events completely unpredictable at that latitude, the farm has been shut down for weeks because of ice buildup on the turbines. I sympathize with the desire to build these things and I'd love for them to work but... too often they don't.

Mark Hertsgaard wrote a book about global warming, and was scheduled to talk with James Hansen who for some reason is still working at NASA after doctoring temperature information to make it look like its warmer now than at any time before in the last 200 years (the 30s were actually warmer). Hertsgaard is a fellow at the Soros organization Open Society, whose web page ran a note telling that the event had been called off. Why? Excessive snow and blizzards canceled the Global Warming discussion. There is no hint of irony in the report.

Meanwhile, the Orange County Register notes that an unusual, but known combination of tides, weather, and currents are causing "King Tides" to hit the western American coast. Their response is to ask people to take pictures of this event to try to depict what future flooding due to global warming-caused rising oceans would look like. They really put the "news" in newspapers down there, eh?

President Obama released his budget to congress, and its a whopper. Containing billions of dollars in spending increases, it ignores almost every single suggestion of the president's own Deficit Commission. President Obama claims it won't increase the debt or deficit, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) says that by will create "primary balance" in the budget by 2017. Wait, what does that mean? Byron York explains at The Washington Examiner:
A balanced budget means government revenues and spending are roughly equal. But a budget in “primary balance,” according to the Obama administration, occurs when revenues and spending are equal -- excluding all the interest the government pays on its enormous debt.
In other words, if you ignore some of the expenses it all balances out! Andrew Stiles at National Review Online has a breakdown of some of the increased spending which will somehow reduce the deficit.

Scientists think they may have discovered a cure for baldness. They weren't trying to, they found it while studying stress reducing hormones in mice. But they also found out that the mice grew lost hair back when under the treatment. Perhaps in a few years we'll see real, functioning hair loss treatments - but what will the side effects be? Many major discoveries were the result of something totally unexpected found in unrelated research.

Iraq is looking for some repairs. As part of the effort to control the rebuilding process and fight terrorists and foreign insurgents, the coalition army built huge barriers to segment Baghdad and caused some damage to the streets with heavy, powerful Humvees. So Baghdad is asking for a billion dollars to fix the damage and normalize their streets, and wants an apology. Some are suggesting that they take the money out of the almost 800 billion it cost the US to liberate the country, and perhaps even give us that money back in the form of discounted oil.

Debka is an Israeli news source that often has Middle Eastern news that few other outlets carry or have learned. Unfortunately, sometimes this means they have information that's not entirely accurate. For example two days ago they reported that Iran had moved warships into the Suez Canal. Later examination proved this to have been simply Iran stating their intent to do so. Its events like this which remind me how untrustworthy almost all news sources can be at times, particularly those which try to "scoop" everyone else with unique information.

Augustin Blazquez is a director, you've probably never heard of him. He does independent work, primarily documentaries. His latest is called Che: The Other Side of an Icon and it examines the rest of the story: Che's brutality, murderous nature, cowardice, and his extreme, racist radicalism. Unsurprisingly, this violation of the carefully-crafted Cuban narrative is being opposed by the left, the press, colleges, and Hollywood (but I repeat myself). Basically, nobody wants to show it, anywhere.

The Obama administration has decided that decades of UN attacks on and contempt for Israel is a great bandwagon, so they've hopped on. Colum Lynch reports at Turtle Bay:
The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity," a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.
Because colonizing areas owned by Israel is cruel to the terrorists in the palestinian settlements.

We're told emphatically by the legacy media that potential disaster from alleged human-caused global climate change needs to be reported on because its so important. Yet when it comes to the certain disaster caused by excess spending by governments, the media suddenly wants to quiet it down, deflect, and argue against it. Instapundit reader David Gamble puts it this way:
Somehow protecting future generations from possibly having to endure the hardship of an extra tenth of a degree over the next century is a high moral calling, while fighting against the certainty of mortgaging their financial future with trillions in government debt is the work of the devil. Odd.
Well, this is more about the narrative and power - who it hurts and who it helps - than the truth.

Fox started out its TV network with just a few shows, among them 21 Jump Street, which launched Johnny Depp's career, along with several other people. There's a reboot in the works, updating the show about young-appearing cops working inside schools posing as teenagers and the captain is being played by Ice Cube. I've never understood why it is that so many rappers who do raps about how they hate cops and how cops are so evil end up playing them so often. Also on the show is Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, whoever that is.

When Lara Logan was assaulted by a crowd of "youths" in Cairo, what went unreported in almost every outlet was that they were chanting "Jew! Jew! Jew!" Reporting that might upset people and stir animosity against brutal extremist Muslim rapists, though.

Vice President Joe Biden has long been a proponent of trains, particularly high speed rail, so he probably was overjoyed when President Obama spoke at length about the need to build just such a thing in America in his State of the Union speech. However, nobody really wants this to be built, its the wrong time to try to build it, and rail simply doesn't work well in America, nor does it anywhere else. Robert Samuelson at Real Clear Politics went into some detail about why this is such a bad idea:
Consider. In 2010, Amtrak carried 29.1 million passengers for the entire year. That's about one-twenty-fifth of annual air travel (2010 estimate: 725 million passengers). It's also roughly a quarter of daily automobile commuters (124 million in 2008). Measured by passenger-miles traveled, Amtrak represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the national total.

Rail buffs argue that subsidies for passenger service simply offset the huge government support of highways and airways. The subsidies "level the playing field." Wrong. In 2004, the Department of Transportation evaluated federal transportation subsidies for the period 1990-2002. It found passenger rail service had the highest subsidy ($186.35 per thousand passenger-miles) followed by mass transit ($118.26 per thousand miles). By contrast, drivers received no net subsidy; their fuel taxes more than covered federal spending. Subsidies for airline passengers were about $5 per thousand miles traveled. (All figures are in inflation-adjusted year 2000 dollars.)
Here's something for President Obama to consider: if you want to actually cut the deficit and reduce spending as you claimed in that speech, a new gigantic spending debacle is probably the wrong way to go about it.

NASA reports that they may have been successful in creating prototype solar sails. This is an old science fiction concept in which gigantic "sails" are unfolded in space which reflect solar radiation (solar "winds") to move the space ship like ordinary sails move using air. Due to the scant physical motion of these winds, the sails have to be gargantuan. Two of the paper-thin aircraft which consist of little more than just the sail, have been launched out of the space shuttle.

Economically, things are looking a bit more troubling again. After a few months of at least no contraction, we're seeing anemic growth or stagnation combined with inflation (called "stagflation" by economists). Reuters reports that core wholesale prices have risen faster than at any time in two years, and food costs continue to rise as the price of gas keeps climbing. Meanwhile, Jobless claims are rising again (file in the "unexpected news" category). Administration pundits and some economists are trying to claim this isn't much in the way of inflation but I suspect you've noticed it as much as I have.

Austria is doing its best to appease their growing Muslim population by enforcing blasphemy laws. This time it was against a woman who noted that Muhammad, by having sex with a 9 year old, was a pedophile. Their ruling was that this was defamation of religion because she stayed married to Muhammad past the age of 18. Thus, they reasoned, he wasn't a pedophile. Yeah, well maybe it makes more sense in German.

Struggling to help his friends in the recording and movie industries, President Obama's justice department is shutting down file sharing sites. Yet in the process, they're also seizing domain names of these websites. That's like shutting down a fraudulent business, then taking over the copyright and trademarks of that business. I understand stopping theft but domain names?

And that's the Word Around the Net for February 18, 2011.


alethiophile said...

Just a nitpick: solar sails don't use the solar wind, they use the sunlight itself. Solar wind is a stream of charged particles from the Sun that moves outward relatively slowly; there's no useful propulsion to be had there. Solar sails are simply really big, light mirrors that reflect enough light that they move due to its momentum; the solar wind is not involved.

Christopher Taylor said...

Wierd, you wouldn't think that light would have enough momentum or impact to actually move anything, no matter how big or light it is.