Saturday, February 16, 2008

Evening Digest Feb 16, 2008

After the Read More! The BBC apologizes for equating Rafik Hariri with Imad Mughniyeh. We shall be overcome: fainting incidents at Obama rallies. Zombietime covers Code Pink in Berkeley. Military curio: AK-47s are photographed mounted on AAA barrels in China; but why? You've heard about sharia law in Britain, but what about Islamic bonds? A new meaning to the word "dumped". And we are told that drinking bottled water is "immoral".

The Jerusalem Post says, "In an uncommon act of journalistic contrition, the BBC has apologized for equating former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh as 'great national leaders.'"

The BBC took the unusual step after Don Mell, The Associated Press's former photographer in Beirut, lambasted the parallel, drawn by BBC correspondent Humphrey Hawkesley in a BBC World report last Thursday, as "an outrage" and "beyond belief." ...

In his letter to the British state broadcaster, Mell wrote: "For you to refer to former prime minister Rafik Hariri and Imad Mughniyeh as 'great national leaders' in the same sentence is beyond belief. One was an elected leader who spent years and millions of his own money rebuilding his country. The other was probably the world's second most notorious terrorist, who was responsible for, in addition to running a major criminal enterprise, destroying the US Embassy, the French and US Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983; the hijacking of TWA 847; the bombing of the Israeli cultural center in Buenos Aires, [and] the kidnapping and murder of many Westerners in Lebanon, including Terry Anderson, Terry Waite, John McCarthy."

For my money it was that last bit about Terry Anderson which hit home. Terry Anderson was a journalist and his mistreatment by Mughniyeh broke the union rules.

Maybe Obama draws individuals of the sort who would come to mass events in search of something transcendental. And either they are overcome with emotion or are physically frail so that prolonged waiting, jostling and standing eventually knocks them down.

Zombietime in Berkeley. Part 1 and Part 2.

Noah Shachtman at Wired asks: "Okay. Can anyone come up with anything approaching a logical explanation for why the Chinese have mounted AK-47s on their anti-air artillery? Anyone?"

Ok. Here's my theory. The AAA crews were issued with personal defense weapons and decided to clip it to barrel of their main weapon for easy access. I know it's lame, but what else makes sense?

The Daily Mail thinks the Archbishop of Canterbury's ill-timed remarks may have queered the pitch for plans to issue new "Islamic bonds".

A new sharia law controversy erupted last night over Government plans to issue special "Islamic bonds" to pay for Gordon Brown's public-spending programme by raising money from the Middle East.

Britain is to become the first Western nation to issue bonds approved by Muslim clerics in line with sharia law, which bans conventional loans involving interest payments as "sinful". ...

It will lead to the ownership of Government buildings and other assets currently belonging to British taxpayers being switched wholesale to wealthy Middle-Eastern businessmen and banks. ...

The Treasury proposal follows the heated debate over the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams's claim that the spread of elements of sharia law in parts of Britain was "inevitable".

I'm of two minds on this and neither thought is particularly edifying. On the one hand I think "Islamic" financial instruments are hokey ways of disguising fees and interest charges in order to attract credulous Muslims into financial markets which would otherwise be regarded as impure. It's a feeling shared by a European Muslim who can do his sums.

The colonial Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) was the first to come up with the ingenious idea of re-branding with its Amanah house finance scheme. If an interest-bearing mortgage could be sold to Muslims as "halal" and virtually interest free, those Muslims desperate to do the right thing would happily pay even higher interest rates than anywhere else on the market. The government even changed the rules on stamp duty to allow this con to be marketed.

Any day now I'm waiting for some Chinese company to market a service where any meat-packing plant can tune into a videocast of a slaughterhouse in Saudi Arabia and have the tasmiyah and takbir blessings virtually intoned over PC speaker. So one way to regard "Islamic bonds" is as yet another clever ploy to part a fool from his money. But on the other hand it's yet another step on the process to building "social cohesion" by creating a multitrack society. I have no doubt that the moneymen will make money; but I suspect society will wind up paying hidden costs for the transaction in the end.

The moral of the story? Don't assume that just because you're quadriplegic and helpless that people will have pity on you. Out on the street being weak and vulnerable is like being an old and lame zebra on the Serengeti plain. Pity ain't got nothing to do with it.

A British environmental minister says that bottled water should be as anathemized as smoking. "A BBC Panorama documentary, "Bottled Water: Who Needs It?", to be broadcast tomorrow says that in terms of production, a litre bottle of Evian or Volvic generates up to 600 times more CO2 than a litre of tap water."

I actually never drink the stuff, but I'd defend people's right to drink it. Bottled water is useful in certain situations, chiefly when traveling abroad and you're not sure whether the local stuff will give you gastro-enteritis. It's also useful in situations where you must provide water to children in the field. Back when, people's immune systems were prepped enough by well water and similar sources to be able to resist the odd bug in the water. Today, this is not the case.

But my principle difficulty with all the trivial little dos and don'ts that now beset society is that people ought to be able to figure stuff like when and when not to drink water or smoke cigarettes by themselves. Not long ago a man won a suit against a seaside town in Australia because he injured himself diving into the water and hit his head in the sandy bottom. He claimed the town should have posted a sign notifying swimmers that the ocean had a bottom. Why do we need a minister of the environment to figure out which way is up?

We can't childproof the world without infantilizing ourselves. If we turn ourselves over to the child-care State let there be no complaints when we're fed blended food and finally put to sleep. And yes they will put us to sleep in the end, only some of us will still have a memory, illegal by then, of running free in the fields. And there will be those who will argue at the last that it were better to have no memory of freedom that we may have no sense of loss, but I disagree.

I hold it true, whatever befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'tis better to have sipped water and lost
than never to have sipped water at all



Blogger Alexis said...

Perhaps what we have is adulation by faint praise.

2/16/2008 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Star Wars, sorry for the distraction.

The easy shoot-down, like the Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, and the underlying question, why can’t everybody do that?

After all, no one cares about plinking defenseless satellites in outer space. We want to plink all incoming, the closer the more we want to plink. Re-entry vehicles ... mmmm, fresh game, like dogs we chase them.

The NYT still makes light of the mission, pretending it's like shooting a fat target school bus gently scuttling down the lane.

NROL=21 is about 8 feet wide by 15 feet long, smaller than a Deux Cheval, and it's moving about 25,000 mph, faster than most school buses.

I wonder if anyone is taking odds on the likelihood of USN shooting down this satellite? In Vegas, on the Islands, anyone taking odds? I bet we hit it.

2/16/2008 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

The rifle on the barrel has to be an aiming appliance. That is unless the artillery piece is an aiming platform for the rifle.

2/16/2008 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Some of the Wired commenters got it.

Attaching RPK machine gun to the gun tube allows the gun crew to practice gunnery using cheaper 7.62x39mm small arms ammunition.

Old M-60A1 tankers used to bolt Ma Deuce to the main gun for the preparatory gunnery tables leading up to Tank Cew Qualification Course.

I think Table I-III were fired with a .22 LR subcaliber firing device mounted in the breech of the main gun. We shot at little rubber models.

2/16/2008 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Starling said...

In likening the Hariri to Mughniyeh the BBC is doing nothing or more or less than parroting the line coming out of the mouths of commentators and analysts of Al Jazeera International over the past few days. As I mentioned in a post last spring entitled "Three Peas in a Pod", BBC World, CNN International, and Al Jazeera International are competing for a lot of the same viewers, i.e. a world-wide audience of English-speaking America dis-likers.

2/16/2008 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Regarding the fainters at Obama events, Powerline has a discusison of "The Return of Sister Flute", which talks about Obama presenting himself as a messianic savior, a la a revival tent. The description of a black audience revival is typical, with the participation of the ladies present being as follows:

If the men in the white suits do their job right, Sister Flute will start to moan. She may stand where she is and wave one hand in the air, or rock her head back till her broad brimmed Sunday hat threatens to drop off. And if the men are truly successful, if they shout the house, Sister Flute's moans will turn to shrieks. Her legs will stiffen, and the heels of her best shoes will start to drum the floor, and, as the spirit gathers, she may collapse, or throw herself into the arms of the deacons, all the time shouting the praises of an almighty and present God.

If you have an African-American crowd of the moaning, shrieking, "hallelujah!" persuasion and if you have a good speaker who presents himself as a savior (what we used to call Bible-thumping), then wouldn't it be more surprising if you did NOT have a few fainting black sisters proving that they've been overcome by the word of the Lord being channeled through Obama?

At least, let's hope it's our typical Lord being channeled and not that other lord denoted by the middle name Hussein.

None of the stories discuss the mellanin content of the fainters, nor can you see it in the video clip(s), but I'll betcha they're African-American.

* * *

The photo's ZombieTime posts from the Battle of Berkeley are instructive and astonishing mostly for the huge number of teenagers present, and the way they conducted themselves.

Young black girls are shown with gnarled up faces as they hurl words like "old hag!" an "racist!" at perceived enemies. Young brown girls have equally hatred-skewed faces which are accessorized with Palestinian terrorist scarves. These children are also threatening other demonstrators, declaring that the high schoolers have a right to their "terroritory" and that the prostestors should leave.

This is gang talk. It's also, of course, Marxism, but if you have a pack of young people surrounding one or two single people in a wolf-like configuration and attacking them with hatred about "territory", that it not politics as they are played out in a democracy. It's politics as they are played out on the streets among thugs and gangsta's, and if this is what Berkeley is breeding in its high schools, then the Code Pink moonbats will start to be shaken down for protection money very shortly.

I can't imagine that even a Berkeley parent would approve of their child's behavior if they view these pictures.

2/16/2008 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I wouldn't say that it is all a manifestation of revivalism. Man's need to believe is great and probably built into human nature. Modern secular society, in denying ultimate meaning and leaving no provision for it has left a huge breach open through which anything can sail.

Hillary actually thinks people want to listen to her drone on about her health care program; she thinks people really find her little "gift" packages interesting. The truth is that apart from some wonks, most people won't.

People come to politicians in order to be led; saved; comforted and given a sense of belonging. They want to come back from a rally thinking they've learned some great secret. In the man onstage they see someone who can lead them from out the loneliness of their lives to a larger tableau; a bigger place than the cubicle at work.

Obama provides that. And the fact that I don't need what he can supply doesn't alter the fact that other people need what he can give.
All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?

2/16/2008 11:45:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Barack Hussein Obama, with the backing of a not inconsiderable proportion of the Democrat establishment, is running an emotion laden, substance free, flim-flam campaign. My rational self tells me that this Obomination should have dissipated into the ether, but instead has already lasted far too long to ignore the implications.

A civil left wing blogger writes about the fury of the attacks she is getting from Obama zealots for not jumping on board. Not surprising when you consider that Obama's base is the the crowd. What makes this situation ominously different is that the street thugs are directly attached to a particular candidate in a Presidential campaign.

It's still too early to be jumping to any conclusions but I know that I'm not alone thinking about the creepiness of the whole Obama phenomenon.

2/17/2008 04:32:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

We don't think that the heel-drumming, the collapsing and the fainting on the part of certain members of Obama's audience are bids for attention, rather than being overcome by any spirituality and/or quest for knowledge?

If it was happening to HIllary, we'd know for certain-sure that the fainters had been pre-selected and placed in advance, and that Hillary had been coached on how to best react.

2/17/2008 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Barack Hussein Obama, the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief, used his Senate vote to require US intelligence services to meet a probable cause standard and get court authority before monitoring a telephone call between a jihadi in Pakistan and a jihadi in Saudi Arabia.

I'm going to faint if the clown gets elected.

2/17/2008 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...


2/17/2008 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

I heard Barack Obama speak last month in South Carolina, to a relatively small crowd in a high school gym. He was a good speaker, but the vibe did not go beyond a normal, fired up political audience. Unless something has changed in the last four weeks, I do not think his campaign is some new revivalism.

In my long life, I've heard live speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Al Sharpton. (The two Jacksons and Sharpton I heard in church, as preachers.) Jesse Jr. was the best speaker of them all, and each of them had at least as much skill as Barack Obama.

This is more media in search of a emotional theme, to spare themselves thought about other issues.

2/17/2008 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger weswinger said...

Just a reminder: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing — they believe in anything."

2/18/2008 10:01:00 AM  

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