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July 05, 2003

PROTESTS IN IRAN are still going on.

RACISM AND CRUSHING OF DISSENT at Cal Poly. Embarrassing. But F.I.R.E. is on the case.

MARK STEYN WEIGHS IN on the Gray Davis recall campaign:

The last time I discussed California's government in these pages was when their attorney general wanted to introduce Ken Lay, the then Enron boss, to the benefits of California justice. "I would love," said Bill Lockyer, "to personally escort Lay to an 8 x 10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, 'Hi, my name is Spike, honey'."

In those days, Mr Lockyer and his Democratic colleagues were still doing a passable job of blaming everybody else for the state's woes. Now, alas, voters seem inclined to believe that what the attorney general wanted Spike to do to Mr Lay, the state government has done to them, and very comprehensively.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

I'M SHOCKED, SHOCKED:

A SAUDI Arabian with close connections to Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the desert kingdomís defence minister, was among five people who were arrested in Malawi on suspicion of channelling money to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The five are believed to have been on a CIA watch list since the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which more than 200 people died and thousands more were injured.

The men were arrested two weeks ago in an early-morning operation carried out in Blantyre, Malawiís commercial centre, involving the countryís National Intelligence Bureau and the CIA.

Two days later they were deported in defiance of an order by a high court judge who had instructed the authorities to bring them to court instead.

They are believed to have been flown on a charter aircraft to another African country en route for Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or to another American detention centre.

The Saudi, who was named as Fahad Ral Bahli, is a director of Prince Sultanís Special Committee for Relief, a charity set up by the minister which has offices in a number of African countries.

The other detainees were two Turks, a Kenyan and a Sudanese.

The organisationís Malawi office, based in Limbe, was registered in March last year when Dr Faisal bin Jafar Bali, the manager of religious affairs in the Saudi army and who has the rank of major-general, was nominated as chairman. He also chairs the charitable committees in Mali and Nigeria. Another of the directors is a Saudi colonel.

Nobody at the Saudi embassy in London was available for comment.

(Emphasis added.) This has created some problems for the government of Malawi, a friendly Muslim country, which suggests that we regard it as a matter of considerable importance.

How many links between Al Qaeda and the government of Saudi Arabia are needed to justify regime change there? I'm just, you know, asking.

UPDATE: My brother emails to point out that Malawi isn't a "Muslim country," it just currently has a Muslim President. D'oh!

DODD HARRIS is hosting his Second Anniversary Caption Contest. Don't miss it.

A READER EMAILS:

Remember when the opponents of the war in Iraq publicly wrung their hands about American commitment to stay in Iraq? Supposedly, the hawks were only after war and conflict and were not prepared to stay for the long haul.

Colbert I King of the Washington Post posed a typical query in February:

"Are the American people committed to governing Iraq, to having a U.S. administrator run an American-created civilian government in a Muslim and Arab country, with all that entails?"

Today, he himself answers the question in an editorial entitled, "Is There a Road Map Out of Iraq?" Shocking, but it turns out that the people whose commitment the pre-war anti-war types were concerned about were themselves!

Go figure. Meanwhile Brendan O'Neill is unimpressed with people who claim they were duped by talk of weapons of mass destruction:

Take Jane Harman, a Democrat Congresswomen from Los Angeles who sits on the USA's House Intelligence Committee. Harman has kicked up a stink in the USA by alleging that the Bush administration's claims about Iraq's WMD were 'based on circumstantial evidence rather than hard facts', and that she and other right-thinking Democrats might have acted differently over Iraq if they had known the whole truth (4).


What a crock. This is a woman who over the past year has sat on the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security and now the House Intelligence Committee on Iraq. She had access to the bulk of the evidence on Iraq, in all its questionable glory. And she, like a majority of her fellow Democrats, voted for Bush's war resolution in October 2002. If Harman was duped, it can only be because she wanted to be.

Being a believer in addressing root causes -- by which I mean turning the Middle East upside down and shaking, hard -- the WMD issue has never been my prime reason for war, but this is an interesting piece. Question: By saying that WMDs were the only legitimate reason for going to war against Iraq, aren't a lot of people setting themselves up for (1) supporting war against North Korea or Iran; and (2) putting themselves in the position of opposing intervention in Liberia?

ERROR-CORRECTION UPDATE: Oops. Brendan O'Neill's statement about a majority of Democrats is wrong, says Tony Adragna. It was a lot, but not a majority.

SOMEBODY HIRE TED BARLOW:

If you know of anyone in the Houston area who would be interested in a quantitative analyst with experience in health care, commodities and market research, with skills in SPSS and SQL (for example), don't hesitate to contact me at edwardbarlow at aol.com.

Well, hire him already.

THE ROCKETS' RED GLARE: Rand Simberg has a Fourth of July column over at FoxNews about Homeland Security idiocy and the model rocketry community.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, here's a very different kind of July Fourth post, from Bigwig. And read this, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more on how BATF nearly ruined the Fourth of July. Sheesh.

RON BAILEY WRITES that Bill McKibben doesn't understand the Declaration of Independence.

BILL WHITTLE writes on success, failure, and creativity. It's a nice post for the Fourth of July weekend. Best bit:

Sorry, but itís not God, Guts and Guns. The Arabs have God, the Russians have Guts and the Colombians have Guns Ė you want to live there?

Nope. But read the whole thing.

I'M JUST CRAZY ENOUGH: Bill Adams emails:

Personally I think you're crazy to look at even a word of news until the weekend's over, but if you -- or anyone outside California's event horizon -- wanted a complete recap of the gubernatorial recall drive, Davis' history, Schwarzenegger's chances -- you could do a lot worse than my post here.

I'm the first to admit its primary virtue is the links, over a score of 'em.

There's an update to that post, too, here. I confess it's hard for me to stir up a lot of interest yet, but I will note that although many people consider Schwarzenegger's stardom his chief asset, it may well be that the discipline, and ability to psych out an opponent, that he cultivated as a bodybuilding competitor may be at least as important.

UPDATE: PrestoPundit is all over this story, of course.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sacramento Bee blogger Daniel Weintraub has this observation:

When forces working on behalf of the governor of California try to link his opponent to the Nazi party, it has news value. Not because itís true or might be true, but because it demonstrates the character and the judgment of the man who would allow his campaign team to make such allegations. If the governor said he thought little green men had landed from Mars and launched the recall, it would be ludicrous, but it ought to be reported, because the voters would want to know that the chief executive of their state had taken leave of his senses. The same is true here in a political context. . . . It is most definitely news when public officials lie or attempt to grossly mislead the voters, especially in a malicious way. Sometimes you have to report the lie in order to expose the lie.

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Bear Flag League, a new association of California bloggers, can be expected to be all over this story.

July 04, 2003

I'M BACK FROM VACATION: The diving was great. (That's me in the yellow fins). My favorite spot was on the East End, which I hadn't visited before. The swell and current were a bit stiff (coming back to the boat was like a carrier landing -- miss the rope and you were sailing toward Belize, waiting for the boat to pick you up, as happened to one person). The best dive was Snapper Hole, which is where these pictures are from. Beautiful canyons and tunnels (see more pictures here, here and here). I never went deeper than about 110-120 feet. Nothing, I suspect, that would impress a certain tech-diving former girlfriend and sometime InstaPundit reader, but adventurous enough for a mild-mannered law professor such as myself.

I paid no attention to the news, and have no idea what's going on in the world, and I'm off to an afternoon of July Fourth celebrations with family, so more blogging will have to wait. Enjoy the holiday, and check back later!

UPDATE: In response to various questions:

Who do I like to dive with? My hands-down favorite, and the mainstay of most of my trips, is Peter Milburn, who runs a small but excellent operation there and has done so for 25 years. We did the East End dive with Ocean Frontiers, who I found to be very professional and knowledgeable. I've also had good experiences with Fisheye Tours, whose website seems to be down, and with DiveTech -- though this year their operation seemed a bit disorganized.

How are things recovering from Hurricane Michelle? Last year I could see a good deal of damage remaining. This year the reef seems well on the way to recovery.

Should I start Scuba diving? I don't know. It's not too hard to get started. I recommend doing the "resort course" somewhere first. That's a one-day trial that lets you dive with an instructor. If it's for you, you'll know. If it's not, you won't have wasted your time. It's not terribly dangerous: you can die, of course, if you do something stupid, but you can die driving cross-town if you do something stupid, too.

How's the economy there? Fair. Locals complain about the prices killing business, and it has gotten pretty expensive. There's still a lot of new construction, but there are also a lot of condos and houses for sale. The tourist industry seems to be doing okay, but not as well as it was a couple of years ago. The high prices stem from the control of many important businesses by a rather small number of local families, which has actually produced rumbles toward political change and independence from Britain (the Caymans are a British Dependent Overseas Territory now) -- though independence seems more likely to cement that dominance than to challenge it. What they really need is a WalMart. What they're getting is telecom liberalization, which is nice, but not enough.

You stay in touch with your old girlfriends? Doesn't the InstaWife mind? Yes, I do. My mother, in fact, says I have an Old Girlfriend Network instead of an Old Boy's Network, and there's some truth to that. I do stay in touch with a lot of former girlfriends, who as a group basically rock. The InstaWife, who met me through one of 'em, has no complaints, and rather likes the ones she's met.