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Belmont Club

Monthly Archives: November 2009

Lunatics

November 30th, 2009 - 9:30 pm

Michael Totten writes a half obituary, half-paean to Dubai, that Secret Dubai termed the “‘strict Muslim emirate’ [that] is akin to describing Amsterdam as a ‘puritanical Christian state’”. It’s a glittering city with a cosmopolitan and unreal air.

“People in the region who visit Dubai,” he writes, “return home wondering why their governments can’t issue passports in a day or provide clean mosques and schools, better airports, airlines and roads, and above all better government.”

He’s right. Most Beirutis I know look down on Dubai as artificial and gimmicky, but just about everyone else in the region who isn’t a radical Islamist thinks it’s amazing.

It’s different geopolitically, too. The government is more sincerely pro-American than the nominally pro-American governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Michael Yon put it this way when he visited in 2006 on his way to Iraq: “Our friends in the UAE want the Coalition efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan to succeed, and they are vocal about it. While much of the west, including many of our oldest allies, postures on about how the war on terror is a horrible mistake, the sentiment in the UAE is that it would be a horrible mistake not to face the facts about our common enemy, an enemy that might be just as happy to destroy the UAE as America.”

Maybe it was unreal. The main problem with Dubai is that it may be about to go bust. As late as November 27, the Times Online reported that investors were consoling themselves with the idea that Abu Dhabi, one of Dubai’s guarantors, was going to ride to the rescue. But now the New York Times reports that it ain’t gonna happen:

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Homogenized, sterilized and pasteurized

November 29th, 2009 - 2:45 pm

The University of East Anglia’s CRU has told the public it no longer stores the raw data upon which it bases its famous global warming theory. The UK Times reports it as saying, “we do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.”

Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.

The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.

The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building. The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.

The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.

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A Blast From the Past

November 26th, 2009 - 8:45 pm

A Harvard Crimson article from 2003 described what fate befell two Harvard scientists who dared to challenge Global Warming.

A study by two Harvard researchers quietly published last January in a small research journal has set off a political storm that has led to debate on the senate floor and internal wrangling at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The study, co-authored by two scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, concluded that the 20th century has been neither the warmest century of the past millennium nor the one with the most extreme weather.

The two scientists were subsequently excoriated in the strongest terms by Michael Mann and John Holdren, now Barack Obama’s science czar. The Crimson describes the reception they got.

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The Big Mistake

November 26th, 2009 - 1:35 pm

As I suspected in the comments of a previous post, the case against Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Junior, who is suspected of killing 57 people in Philippine election related violence, is unlikely to prosper. The reason is simple. Junior is the son of Senior. And Senior is related to cabinet officials in the Arroyo administration. There are cousins and relatives all up and down the line. Hence the prospect of Junior ever walking the last mile to gurney is somewhere between slim and none. Jojo Robles of the Manila Standard writes:

Dureza, the presidential adviser on Mindanao affairs— who had already been fired as press secretary before—said he has visited the Ampatuans and secured a promise from them that they would “cooperate” with any investigation of the incident … laid the groundwork for what is now looking like a not-so-subtle scheme to get the Maguindanao warlord and his family off the hook for what is already being called the worst-ever mass killing in Philippine history outside of wartime. … announced that the palace was not going to arrest or even suspend Datu Unsay town Mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. “We have due process to be observed also, so let us allow the investigators on the ground to come up with [a case] through their investigation [first],” the intellectually challenged press secretary said yesterday.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed would be glad to know just how scrupulous the Western world is; that whether a perp is accused of killing 57 or 3,000 victims nothing must disturb the majestic progress of the law. Except that sometimes the law is used as an excuse to avoid, rather than to seek justice. Virtues are invoked to preserve vice; and when evil impersonates good, innocence is sometimes forced to come forward to identify itself. Right now innocence is being played for a sap. Consider the following statement from rival local politician Esmael Mangudadatu to the Telegraph about why he sent his wife into Junior’s lion’s den instead of going himself when he knew Junior had it in for him.

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More AGW Controversy

November 26th, 2009 - 1:42 am

Watts Up With That? describes the controversy surrounding New Zealand’s official temperature readings after the Climate Science Coalition replotted the raw data and found the “rising temperatures” were really flat. The rises in temperatures reported by the official (NIWA) figures were the result of adjustments. However, the agency defended its adjustments.

NIWA’s David Wratt has told Investigate magazine this afternoon his organization denies faking temperature data and he claims NIWA has a good explanation for adjusting the temperature data upward. Wratt says NIWA is drafting a media response for release later this afternoon which will explain why they altered the raw data.

“Do you agree it might look bad in the wake of the CRU scandal?”

“No, no,” replied Wratt before hitting out at the Climate Science Coalition and accusing them of “misleading” people about the temperature adjustments.

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So sue me!

November 25th, 2009 - 1:12 pm

Fox News reports that Navy Seals who captured the mastermind of the attack on the Blackwater convoy through Fallujah in 2004 are being sued by their captive for punching him.

Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told FoxNews.com.

The three, all members of the Navy’s elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral’s mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named “Objective Amber,” told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.

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Going Native

November 25th, 2009 - 10:10 am

Pundita quotes and analyzes an article by Mark Mazzetti written more than a year ago describing the CIA’s relationship with Pakistan. Mazzetti basically asks the question who is running who?  According to Mazzetti the question of what the CIA in Islamabad is doing is uppermost in the minds of CIA station in Kabul.

As American and allied casualty rates in Afghanistan have grown in the last two years, the I.S.I. has become a subject of fierce debate within the C.I.A. Many in the spy agency — particularly those stationed in Afghanistan — accuse their agency colleagues at the Islamabad station of actually being too cozy with their I.S.I. counterparts.

There have been bitter fights between the C.I.A. station chiefs in Kabul and Islamabad, particularly about the significance of the militant threat in the tribal areas. At times, the view from Kabul has been not only that the I.S.I. is actively aiding the militants, but that C.I.A. officers in Pakistan refuse to confront the I.S.I. over the issue.

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Wild, wild east

November 24th, 2009 - 8:15 pm

The recent election-related murders in the Philippines are nothing new.  Some 24 people were massacred on a road, including 12 reporters. The victims were associated with one political clan and the suspected perpetrators are associated with another. That will surprise no one.

Back in the day I remember visiting the city of Jolo in sulu after it had been burned to the ground by fighting between the Mayor and the Vice Governor of the Province.  About a square mile was totally incinerated down to the foundations. Nor was it an isolated incent, While in Sulu on another occasion, I got a report of a murder of one mayor by another mayor in the process of a reconciliation meeting. The murdered party was asked to bury the hatchet and when they debarked on the pier, two M1919 .30 caliber machine guns were waiting in a crossfire to greet them. The surviving warlord looted the bodies as they were still twitching in death.

It was not hard to believe. Life was cheap.  Rebels would kidnap road workers for $50 ransom. You’d see their wives collecting money in tin cans to get their husbands out of captivity. I met the aged Father Blanco when he had just escaped from the Abu Sayaf. The old Spanish priest had waited until his captors drank more than the usual and then asked permission to answer the call of nature in the perimeter. He then ran for all he was worth until dawn when he reached an Army roadblock. Pretty wiry guy for a seventy something person. He could probably walk most people half his age into the ground.

Then there was the time when Herminio Montebon, who was the Mayor of Isabela City, told me about the attack on Christmas Eve on the market by 300 armed men. He was attending an office Christmas party when someone rushed in to say he had intelligence that a battalion minus force of rebels would hit the town in about an hour. Montebon rushed to the Army Camp and got to the market with a company of troops and two V-150 armored cars. Montebon hoped to forestall the attack but he was too late. When they got to the market  all hell broke loose. He distinctly remembers the thud of the Ma Deuce in the turret of the V-150 he was in as its slugs ripped through the thin stall walls in the market.

Merry Christmas and welcome to Basilan. But violence isn’t confined to Mindanao. One of the most celebrated massacres occurred in Nothern Luzon.

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The Big Green Machine

November 24th, 2009 - 9:25 am

Tim Flannery, chairman of the Copehagen Climate Council says the publication of documents taken from the British CRU suggesting some global warming data may have been manipulated only “reveals the depth to which climate skeptics will go to influence the course of events. … It does nothing to throw doubt on the climate science”.   It is the last act of desperation by heretics standing in the way of the big green doctrine. But the main response to suspcions that the whole thing has been cooked up has been to simply ignore criticism and focus on enacting new taxes and obtaining further pledges. Efforts to place the world under a Green Framework are well underway and nothing is going to stop it now.  Next stop: Copenhagen. The AFP reports:

the United States is to announce concrete targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions as pressure mounts on polluters to find a formula for success two weeks ahead of a crucial climate summit. …

An emissions target from the United States, the world’s number two polluter and wealthiest country, was essential for the success of the conference, according to United Nations climate chief Yvo de Boer.  “The key issue here at the moment is the United States. My sense is Obama will be in a position to come to Copenhagen with a target and a financial contribution,” he said in Brussels on Monday.

The sole roadblock may be the American voter. The global warmists privately fear that the US Congress will stand in the way of providing any real teeth to the whatever concessions the Obama delegation is prepared to make at the Danish capital. The Americas Society held a public discussion attended by a number of insiders to assess what would happen next. According to Rubén Kraiem of Covington & Burling the Green allies in the US Congress had best push through the needed measures before 2010 because the prospects of success after the elections are small.

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Odds against tomorrow

November 23rd, 2009 - 10:32 am

The New York Times is worried about burgeoning government debt as interest rates begin to climb. Much of the newly acquired mountain of government debt was acquired at rates which were low because of the recession. Those low rates made them temporarily tolerable. Now, as those rates begin to climb, debts are interacting with demographic trends to create a potentially disastrous tsunami. Even if the government stopped spending immediately the interest payments would continue to climb, like a credit card in meltdown.

With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher. In concrete terms, an additional $500 billion a year in interest expense would total more than the combined federal budgets this year for education, energy, homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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