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Monthly Archives: June 2009

Will Chavez intervene in Honduras?

June 28th, 2009 - 8:13 am

VOA reports that the Honduran Army has arrested the President after he attempted to hold a referendum to extend his term, something which the courts had ruled illegal.

Aides to the president say troops took Mr. Zelaya from his residence Sunday morning. Some officials say he was taken to a nearby air base. The Honduran Supreme Court has declared the referendum illegal and the military had refused to help organize the balloting. The president fired the armed forces chief of staff General Romeo Vasquez last week for failing to support him. … President Zelaya was elected in 2006 to a four-year term. The 1982 constitution bans re-election. The president enjoys the support of leftist Latin American leaders, including Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

Fausta notes that Chavez has already declared he will not accept Zelaya’s arrest. Translating a Noticias 24 report, Fausta writes:

Rosetta Stone

June 28th, 2009 - 7:58 am

The famous video of two cats “talking” on YouTube has spawned a number of responses showing other cats reacting to the video. Some appear to think they are watching a “real” scene and try to join in, as the video below shows.

YouTube Preview Image

Other cats are a little more skeptical about the “reality” of the scene when shown on video and inspect the display monitor for signs of trickery, as the video shows after the “Read More” shows.


The molten calf

June 27th, 2009 - 5:20 pm

George Orwell’s experiences in the Spanish Civil War forever changed his view of totalitarianism. It had been the one dimensional stereotype portrayed by the classic left-wing ideology. In that narrative the enemy was capitalism and its representative the fat man in striped trousers and a top hat. What Orwell learned after watching the Communists crush spontaneity in Spain was that Bolshevism could be totalitarianism too; which frightened him because it acted in the name of the poor and the oppressed; and if one could not trust the do-gooders, then who could you trust?  This video excerpt from a BBC biopic of Orwell, with the author played by an actor but whose lines consist of his published words only, captures the moment when his understanding of totalitarianism became universal.  Where once he imagined that totalitarianism consisted of an enumerable number of fascists who would all disappear if we shot one each, he suddenly saw that totalitarianism was a face that haunted every human undertaking. Fleeting, shifting, but indisputably present.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
petals on a wet, black bough.


The Cordon Sanitaire

June 27th, 2009 - 4:33 am

Neil McCormick’s piece in the Telegraph on Michael Jackson’s death describes the concentric layers of retainers that stood between the late entertainer and nearly everything. He had lawyers, accountants, spokesmen, personal physicians, bodyguards, servants and hangers-on of various kinds. The King of Pop never actually touched the world. It was interpreted to him through buffers. And though this was ostensibly to protect him, the stark fact of Michael Jackson’s corpse lying in a sealed crypt in an LA morgue rather suggests that more was not better. Ironically, he may have gotten worse financial and medical advice from his expensive assistants than we would from the town accountant or general practitioner. The Daily Mail wrote that his ‘enablers’ may soon even be under investigation:

Los Angeles police detectives are conducting a separate inquiry into the death and Harvey said they have requested a hold on any further information being released to the public. As the police inquiry was launched an inner circle of ‘enablers’ was blamed for Jackson’s death.Long-time family lawyer Brian Oxman accused personal physicians, businessmen and media agents of helping the singer abuse prescription drugs to prepare for his gruelling 50-concert London comeback.


Will Ahmadinejad get his apology?

June 25th, 2009 - 8:50 pm

The Washington Post reports President Ahmadinejad of Iran is demanding an apology from Barack Obama for casting doubt on the integrity of the recently concluded elections. The WaPo writes:

Teheran June 25 — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at President Obama on Thursday, warning him against “interfering” in Iranian affairs and demanding an apology for criticism of a government crackdown on demonstrators protesting alleged electoral fraud. …

In a speech at a petrochemical plant in southern Iran, Ahmadinejad said Obama was behaving like his predecessor, George W. Bush, and suggested that talks with the United States on Iran’s nuclear program would be pointless if Obama kept up his criticism. Obama, who has expressed interest in talking to the Iranian leadership about the nuclear issue, said at a news conference Tuesday that he was “appalled and outraged” by recent violence against demonstrators, and he accused the Iranian government of trying to “distract people” by blaming the unrest on the United States and other Western nations.

“Do you want to speak with this tone?” Ahmadinejad responded Thursday, addressing Obama. “If that is your stance, then what is left to talk about?”

Ironically Ahmadinejad may be right, but in the wrong way. Given the character of the regime in Iran, what is there left to talk about? The Iranian President doesn’t sound like a man who wants dialogue, but submission.  Unfortunately, I’m sure someone will think of a subject of conversation.

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Michael Jackson dead

June 25th, 2009 - 3:05 pm

Fox News reports:

The legendary singer, 50, reportedly went into cardiac arrest and had to receive CPR in the ambulance, according to a report from TMZ. Joe Jackson, his father, told multiple news sources that his son is not doing well.

I’m sad to hear this. But there it is. The story on the radio is that Jackson was exhausted, preparing for a comeback tour that will never come. He is now reported as having died.

At 50, he had overstayed his time in a frenetic business. “In November 2008, Jackson was reportedly too sick to travel to London to testify in a suit claiming he owes an Arab sheikh $7 million. Jackon sought to give his testimony by video link from the United States. Jackson has often been seen wearing a surgical mask in public. In one infamous 2002 court appearance in California, he appeared to have a bandage hanging from his hollowed-out nose. Despite much speculation about his radically changed appearance over the years, he has denied having had any alterations to his face other than two operations on his nose to help him breathe better to hit higher notes.”


Blogging tools

June 25th, 2009 - 4:43 am

The Iranian crisis has highlighted a new source of information: the non-professional journalist. This new species, equipped with a cell phone, a digital camera and access to the Internet and using blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms have provided raw data about events in ways which professional journalists, by virtue of their fewer numbers, never could. It’s not the first time non-professional journalists have been the first and perhaps only source of events in distant places. Images of the December 26, 2004 tsunami which swept through beach resorts in Thailand showed what was possible, when for the first time in history, ordinar people captured striking images and video of events which would otherwise have gone unrecorded.

The trend is clear. An increasingly large percentage of the world’s population will be observers.  In a crisis, a statistically significant number of ordinary people will have the presence of mind to record and report. Perhaps the term non-professional journalist should be used in place of the more derogatory “amateur” journalist. Many of the reporters of the future will be far from untutored. Some will be doctors, engineers, pilots, scientists and technicians. Others will be local to the event, and as such understand what they see with a depth of understanding that stranger could not approach.  Their on-the-spot testimony may be of the highest value.  Not only that, but technology has advanced to the point where an ordinary person’s tools equal or even surpass the professional tools of twenty years ago.


Nature’s A-Bomb

June 25th, 2009 - 2:05 am

Follow this link to view pictures of a volcano erupting on a remote Russian island. The pictures show the volcano’s plume clear a path through the clouds.

The round hole in the clouds is thought to have been caused by the shockwave of the initial explosion. At the centre lies the billowing mushroom tower of grey and brown ash. For volcano experts, the most exciting part of the image is the layer of smooth white cloud that caps the plume – a little like a layer of snow on a mushroom. This cap of condensed air is created from the rapid rising and then cooling of the air directly above the ash column. When moist, warm air rises quickly it creates a cloud.

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“You Light Up My Life”

June 24th, 2009 - 7:14 pm

The composer of these words may be revising the lyrics to “you’re looking at life” — in jail. The UPI reports that composer Joseph Brooks, 71, has been charged with rape. He has pleaded not guilty.

The New York Times said Joseph Brooks, who won an Oscar for his 1977 song “You Light Up My Life,” was arrested and charged Tuesday with assaulting nearly a dozen women between the ages of 18 and 30.

Prosecutors said he met his alleged victims through Craigslist and an unnamed talent Web site, then lured them to his home with the promise of helping them with their acting careers.

Brooks’s 42-year-old female assistant, Shawni Lucier, was charged with assisting the songwriter, who suffered a stroke last year, in his alleged crimes, The Times said.

WSJ Blogs calls it “the old casting couch scheme”.


Until next time

June 24th, 2009 - 5:18 pm

Andrew McCarthy at the National Review points out another change in the Administration’s war on man made disasters, formerly known as the War on Terror. He is swapping live enemy prisoners — facilitators of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps operation guilty of murdering American captives — for dead hostages.  These Iranian special forces raided an American base disguised as friendlies, carted away prisoners and executed them when the rescue forces were hot on their tail. They were captured by the coalition and for a moment the scales were balanced by the avengers. But retribution and victory are so yesterday. Let McCarthy take up the story.

On Jan. 20, 2007, five American soldiers were killed and three seriously wounded in Iraq. As Bill Roggio relates at the Long War Journal, it was a daring operation: a twelve-man terrorist team disguised as U.S. servicemen attacked our troops as they held a previously arranged meeting with local officials in Karbala. Four of the soldiers were alive when they were abducted from the scene. They were handcuffed and murdered in a remote location when the coalition forces attempting to rescue them closed in.

Given the sophistication of the raid and the intelligence required to pull it off, it was a virtual certainty that the mullahs’ special forces, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, were behind it. More than a decade earlier, in concert with Hezbollah (Iran’s forward terrorist militia), the IRGC had bombed the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 members of the United States Air Force. In Karbala, the IRGC had relied on what Michael Ledeen of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies aptly calls its “most lethal element,” the Quds (Jerusalem) Force, in combination with a burgeoning, Hezbollah-like network of local Shiite terrorists.

This was confirmed two months later when U.S. forces captured Ali Mussa Daqduq, a high-ranking veteran of Hezbollah, in Basrah. As Roggio explains, Daqduq had been tasked by Iran to organize a network of terror cells to strike coalition forces in Iraq. The network would operate under the direction of Qais Qazali. Qazali and his brother, Laith Qazali, were captured along with Daqduq.

You can guess what is coming next.