Thursday, February 28, 2008

"I'm a free human being in Europe, and I'm not a slave of the European Commission."

With this existential cry, Czech Republic interior minister Ivan Langer today ripped the electrodes out of his head and disconnected the downlink from Brussels, in his country's latest act of defiance against the Borg-like entity that is the European Union.

The BBC reports that the Czech government could face legal action after signing its own deal on visa-free travel with the US, having become fed up waiting while the EU haggled over a Europe-wide deal:

The European Commission fears the accord undercuts its own talks with the US on an EU-wide visa agreement.

But Czech interior minister Ivan Langer criticised the EU. "We've been waiting years and nothing happened," he said.

The report adds that Hungary, Lithuania and Estonia may now follow suit.

You have to love those Czechs. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus is a lone but eloquent voice of sanity in the European madhouse on the subject of 'climate change'.

And Mr Langer's thumb in the eye of the EU follows hot on the heels of yesterday's announcement that his country is close to agreeing a deal on hosting elements of the US Missile Defence system.

The proposed anti-ballistic missile shield is another issue that has pitted 'new' European nations against 'old', with Germany leading the opposition, and several countries expressing concern that the project could undermine relations between the EU and Russia, from which Europe gets much of its energy.

It's no surprise to see Europeans fretting over their 'relationship' with a country that threatens, blackmails and attempts to destabilise its neighbours, as well as murdering opponents at home and abroad.

After all, the unreconstructed socialists now running the EU are the generation that marched against the deployment of Pershing IIs 25 years ago, preferring a Soviet takeover of Europe to a peace guaranteed by the Great Satan.

Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Czechs and several other newly independent states understandably turned to the EU for security guarantees and economic support. Now they're finding out that they were liberated from one dictatorship only to fall under another one that's marginally more civilised, but every bit as corrupt and intolerant of dissent.

It's good to see that they're still up for a fight.

Obama will divide, not unite, says UK equality chief

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, is likely to stir up a hornet’s nest after claiming that Barack Obama might prolong racial divisions in the US, rather than heal them, if he becomes President.

In an article entitled ‘Healing postponed’, which appears in the new issue of the UK current affairs magazine Prospect, Phillips - who is black - suggests more forcefully than many US commentators have that Obama’s success is in large part due to white guilt (they'll vote for him 'so long as they don't have to live next door to him'), and goes so far as to suggest that he’s taking advantage of racial divisions.

Phillips, whose observations on the failure of multiculturalism in Britain have drawn criticism from white ‘progressives’ such as odious London mayor Ken Livingstone, draws on many of the arguments put forward by Shelby Steele in his book on Obama, A Bound Man, in which he divides America’s black leaders into ‘challengers’ (Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson) whose power derives from real or imagined black victimhood, and bargainers (Cosby, Oprah).

Phillips, like Steel, portrays Obama as the quintessential bargainer, and claims that Obama is more Bill Clinton that JFK, writing:

Both challengers and bargainers offer a strategy that needs the racial divide to stay at the centre of US life. In truth, Obama may be helping to postpone the arrival of a post-racial America, and I think he knows it. If he wins, the cynicism may be worth it to him and his party.

But he takes issue with Steele’s assertion that underachievement by blacks is primarily the result of a lack of responsibility, characterised by violent rappers and feckless fathers, pointing to factors such as the effects of globalisation on poor communities.

And he also suggests (although not very convincingly) that domestic issues of race may have become less of an issue since 9/11, with Osama bin Laden representing a ‘new other’ for both blacks and whites.

Phillips writes that Britain hasn’t produced an Obama-like figure partly because it has proportionally much smaller black population, but also because ‘At a personal level, few people are as charismatic, capable and ruthless as this mixed-race political phenomenon.’

Read the whole thing. It's a serious contribution to the analysis of Obama-mania from a man who hasn’t been afraid to address difficult issues about race in his own country.

Thanks to Dan for linking.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's official: global warming isn’t happening

Click image for full-size version

Someone get Al Gore on the phone, and tell him that debate he keeps saying is settled has just been blown wide open again.

There’s been a steady stream of evidence that global temperatures have been falling over the past year or so, capped by reports from around the globe of record cold temperatures and snowfall over the past couple of months.

And now data released by the four major temperature monitoring centres is showing that global temperatures fell by an unprecedented amount – more than half a degree Celsius – over the past 12 months.

Online science magazine Daily Tech reports:

The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C - a value large enough to wipe out nearly all the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.

'But hang on', the alarmists will say. 'Remember that a couple of years back, when we realised that global warming wasn’t keeping pace with our predictions, we started to talk about ‘climate change’ instead, and ‘climate change’ doesn’t necessarily mean hotter; it can mean colder, wetter, drier, or anything else we want it to mean.'

That’s true. But when they say that they’re talking about localised extreme weather conditions, all of which they claim are ultimately caused by steadily rising global temperatures, which in turn they claim are caused by rising CO2 emissions. Nowhere in the alarmists’ spin book is there provision for an entire year of such dramatic cooling over the planet as a whole. And last time I looked, those CO2 emissions were still increasing.

Why isn’t this huge news? Why isn’t this everywhere? It’s on many of the ‘skeptic’ blogs and websites, but it’s apparently yet to be picked up by the MSM.

We know why, of course. Too many environmental groups and trans-national bureaucracies, along with their lackies in the media, have too much invested in the biggest hoax of all time to admit that the game is up.

The BBC, for example, which has been acting as the unofficial PR outfit for the alarmists for years now, is far more interested in publicity stunts by environmental protestors (see this post, and they’re at it again today), than reporting evidence that pretty much proves that the threat the eco-warriors are protesting about doesn’t actually exist.

If the cooling continues eventually even the alarmists won’t be able to ignore it. And then they’ll either claim it’s down to ‘feedback mechanisms’ that we don’t fully understand (despite the fact that the 'science is settled') or they’ll tell us that this is exactly what they expected to see – some kind of correction before the runaway warming begins in earnest (hang on – they’re already doing that).

Maybe the International Conference on Climate Change, which opens on Sunday in New York and features many of the leading ‘skeptics’, will be able to get this development the coverage it deserves, although environmental groups are already spinning against the conference, and it won’t be a big surprise if the media largely ignores it.

Slowly but surely, however, the tide is turning, and eventually the alarmists’ position will become untenable. And when it does, someone will have to decide what we should do with those who have spent years abusing science and distorting truth for financial or political gain. Nuremberg-style trials anyone?

More at JammieWearingFool and Say Anything.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What’s going on at the IAEA?

On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued its latest report on Iran. While it said it could not provide ‘credible assurances’ that Iran is not building a bomb, and said Iran remained evasive on key issues, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei managed to put a positive gloss on the report:

In the last four months, in particular, we have made quite good progress in clarifying the outstanding issues that had to do with Iran´s past nuclear activities, with the exception of one issue, and that is the alleged weaponization studies that supposedly Iran has conducted in the past. We have managed to clarify all the remaining outstanding issues, including the most important issue, which is the scope and nature of Iran´s enrichment programme.

As Danielle Pletka and Michael Rubin wrote in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, ElBaradei has in the past been even more effusive in his positive assessment of Tehran’s intentions, and has consistently undermined and second-guessed attempts by the US and Europe to call the regime to account.

And he was assisted by last December’s U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that Tehran had been attempting to build a bomb, but had frozen its weapons program in 2003.

But today, out of the blue, IAEA delegates revealed that they had been shown evidence that suggested that Iran had in fact continued work on its weapons beyond 2003. And some of the evidence appears to leave very little room for doubt, or for Iranian wiggling:

A senior diplomat who attended the IAEA meeting said that among the material shown was an Iranian video depicting mock-ups of a missile re-entry vehicle. He said IAEA Director General Oli Heinonen suggested the component — which brings missiles back from the stratosphere — was configured in a way that strongly suggests it was meant to carry a nuclear warhead.

Other documentation showed the Iranians experimenting with warheads and missile trajectories where "the height of the burst ... didn't make sense for conventional warheads," he said.

The fact that ElBaradei’s name doesn’t appear in today’s stories, and that some IAEA members asked to be quoted anonymously, suggests that not everyone at the authority is singing from the same hymn sheet. Did ElBaradei know about these new revelations when he spoke on Friday? If so, why didn’t make any reference to them? Or was he not even aware that significant new information was about to be made public? And did he approve of the comments by IAEA delegates that are being reported today?

Evidence of continued Iranian duplicity will be an embarrassment to ElBaradei, and will further call into question his fitness to lead the IAEA. It will also be another blow to the credibility of the CIA, which has developed an uncanny knack of producing intelligence that proves to be the exact opposite of what's going on in a given country at any given time.

Equally, it’s bad news for Barack Obama, assuming he gets the Democratic nomination, as it further exposes the foolishness and utter naivety of his assertion than Iran and other terror states can somehow be forced to change their ways by ‘engagement’.

And by the same measure it has to be good news for John McCain, who made his position on Iran clear in his speech at CPAC earlier this month:

I intend to make unmistakably clear to Iran we will not permit a government that espouses the destruction of the State of Israel as its fondest wish and pledges undying enmity to the United States to possess the weapons to advance their malevolent ambitions.

The implications of today's news could turn out to be seismic – both metaphorically, in terms of the effect on efforts to achieve a consensus on how to deal with Iran; and literally, if they lead the US to conclude that bunker busters, and not interminable negotiations, are indeed the best way of dissuading the mullahs from their nuclear ambitions.

Thanks to Kate for linking.

UK's Iraqi employees: fine words, shabby deeds

From Dan Hardie, who is working to draw attention to the plight of Iraqis who were employed by the British military in Iraq…

Do you like reading fine words? Here is the Prime Minister on the subject of Iraqi ex-employees of the British Government, speaking in the House of Commons on October 9th, 2007: 'I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of our civilian and locally employed staff in Iraq, many of whom have worked in extremely difficult circumstances, exposing themselves and their families to danger. I am pleased therefore to announce today a new policy which more fully recognises the contribution made by our local Iraqi staff, who work for our armed forces and civilian missions in what we know are uniquely difficult circumstances.'

Fine words. What about deeds?

A small number of Iraqis - fewer than a dozen, according to people close to the operation who are in contact with me- were removed from Iraq in the early autumn of 2007. Since the Prime Minister's admirable declaration of October, how many Iraqi ex-employees have been evacuated from Iraq? According to all the Iraqis that I am in contact with: none.

More, including details of what you can do to help, here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

BBC happy to plug climate change stunt

If you’re thinking of staging a publicity stunt make sure you put in a call to the BBC, because they’ll give you all the publicity you want – on the condition, of course, that the cause you’re seeking to publicise is one to which the BBC is also sympathetic.

You’ll need to look elsewhere for exposure if you’re planning to protest atrocities committed against muslims by other muslims, rocket attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists, or high levels of crime committed by illegal immigrants.

But if you want uncritical and disproportionate coverage of a pathetic little demonstration against ‘climate change’, then you can rely on the BBC to make sure that your message is heard loud and clear around the world.

If placement on its news website is a guide, then the BBC considers four Greenpeace ‘activists’ climbing on top of a plane at London’s Heathrow airport in a protest against plans for a new runway to be among the dozen or so most important stories in the world today – the story was on the front page for much of the day before being shunted off to the UK pages this evening.

The fact that security at one of the world’s busiest airports was breached so easily is certainly newsworthy, and it would make perfect sense to report the story from a security standpoint, while making a passing reference to the nature of the protest.

But because the BBC is a fully paid-up member of the global warming alarmist movement the security angle is secondary to the nature of the protest. So the headline is ‘Climate protest on Heathrow plane’, and a large part of the story is given over to quotes from the protestors:

Greenpeace said protesters put a banner reading "Climate Emergency - No Third Runway" over the plane's tailfin at about 0945 GMT.

It said two women and two men crossed the tarmac at the airport after the passengers had disembarked.

One protester, Anna Jones, said: "Our planet and the people who live on it are in danger.

"Climate change can be beaten but not by almost doubling the size of the airport.

"We are here to draw a line in the sand and tell Gordon Brown his new runway must not and will not be built."

Needless to say, because the BBC takes it as read that ‘climate change’ poses an imminent threat to the world, the unsubstantiated claims of the protestors go unchallenged, and the issues involved go unexamined.

The canard that ‘Our planet and the people who live on it are in danger’ is repeated in some form on an almost daily basis by the BBC, while it either plays down or ignores altogether the steady stream of articles and data suggesting otherwise.

The BBC doesn’t find it newsworthy that Antarctic ice coverage is at record levels, or that Arctic ice coverage has returned to normal seasonal levels after reaching a record low during the summer – an event on which the BBC provided almost weekly updates, or that large parts of North America and Asia are experiencing record cold temperatures and snowfall.

And it will be interesting to see how much coverage the BBC gives to this event (related thoughts from WSJ's John Fund here).

Aside from the BBC acting as PR merchants for global warming alarmists, there’s another issue here. There are plenty of lawful ways to make a protest, but sensational coverage of dangerous and criminal behaviour is bound to encourage more of the same from Greenpeace and their fellow eco-warriors.

But then again the odd broken leg, a night in the cells and disruption for air travellers are a small price to pay for saving the world.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gates: Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!

Twenty-five years after Ronald Reagan first announced his intention to develop a 'Star Wars' missile defence system, it finally became a reality yesterday when a US warship shot down a malfunctioning satellite 130 miles above the Earth. (Incidentally I was disappointed to see that the BBC called it a 'disabled' satellite – surely 'orbitally challenged' is the PC term here?)

The Pentagon had been playing down the significance of yesterday's operation for the past couple of weeks, but no sooner had the remains of USA 193 started to burn up on re-entry than Defense Secretary Robert Gates hailed the shoot-down as proof that the US missile defence system works.

And how it worked. For years critics of the system have claimed that carefully controlled tests proved nothing, and have insisted that system isn't feasible and is a waste of money - and perhaps the US was happy for its enemies to think that too. Well, we now have spectacular evidence to the contrary.

We can't be sure how much of a threat USA 193 really posed – was the missile strike absolutely necessary, or was the US just using the satellite story as cover so it could show off its anti-satellite and anti-missile capability to the world?

Either way, Russia and China are pissed off, which has to be a good thing, and China is demanding the US 'share information' about yesterday's strike. (How about this: you know the ship that launched the missile? Well that ship floats because it’s designed to displace an amount of water equal in weight to its own weight. Give that to your scientists and tell them to knock themselves out.)

Of course, unless either country is thinking about launching a pre-emptive missile strike against the United States, they don't really have any reason to worry. Their objection appears to be the FISA argument writ large - we know that no harm is being done, but we object to the principle. And they're bound to be piqued by another demonstration of American technological superiority.

More pressingly, yesterday could dramatically change the picture as far as Iran is concerned, to the extent that we may not need to worry about striking Iran's nuclear facilities after all. If the US was happy to make yesterday's shoot-down so public, who knows how much more they're keeping classified – by the time Iran gets the bomb and puts it on a delivery system the US will probably be able to intercept the thing, turn it around in orbit and send it back to Tehran.

The mullahs have in the past suggested that they don't care how much damage is inflicted on Iran in the event that it launches a nuke at Israeli and the Israelis retaliate. They figure that Israeli will be annihilated, while Iran will suffer millions of casualties but survive.

But if the US has developed, or is close to developing, the capability to shoot a ballistic missile out of the sky, the picture changes dramatically. If the mullahs decide to launch, they run a real risk of sustaining those millions of casualties while the Israelis escape without a scratch. Many commentators have said the mullahs 'can't be deterred', but maybe that just changed.

Cuffy Meigs and his commenters have some interesting analysis on yesterday's events, although the discussion does get a bit esoteric at times. Cuffy notes that the shoot-down caps the best year yet for the missile defence program. It seems the only thing that can stop it now is the Democrats.

Talking of which, I hope McCain makes a big show of hitching himself to the missile defence bandwagon, while the Democrats fret about an 'arms race in space' and 'sending out the wrong signals'. That said, yesterday's events should raise new concerns about an Obama presidency – if a man with a well-documented Messiah complex gets control of such a weapon there's no telling what he might do.

A final thought… Michael Goldfarb writes:

It is the greatest PR boost the program could have gotten short of actually striking down a North Korean missile inbound to Hollywood.

I disagree. The greatest PR boost the program could get was if they announced that they had the capability to shoot down a North Korean missile that was inbound to Hollywood, but they decided to let it hit. On Oscars night.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BBC's US chief thinks al-Qaeda is rooting for McCain

I want to thank Justin Webb, the BBC's North America editor, for helping to shift the blogger's block/laziness/crisis of confidence I've been experiencing for the past couple of months. What got the juices flowing again was a post by Webb on his blog entitled Al-Qaeda's Choice. In the post Webb is commenting on an article in the London Times, in which William Rees-Mogg suggests that al-Qaeda would rather see Barack Obama become the next President of the US than John McCain.

Webb concludes:

Islamic terrorists want war. They want suffering - among others and their own people alike.

They would surely surmise that McCain will give them what they want. Bin Laden himself intervened with what many thought was the effect of keeping President Bush in power in 2004 with that weird tape just before the poll.

I think al-Qaeda would back McCain - that is not an argument for or against America backing him, but it seems to me that the vague assumption that the terrorists would back a lefty is lazy thinking...

There's certainly some lazy thinking going on here, but it's not on the part of Rees-Mogg. Assuming that Webb is serious, it's alarming that a person with such a simplistic view of such an important issue plays a significant part in shaping the way in which people around the world view America and its politics.

Webb foolishly suggests that al-Qaeda would rather see McCain as president than Obama because McCain will ‘give them what they want’ – ie continuing war. He overlooks a fact that should be obvious to anyone who takes an interest in these things: war for al-Qaeda is not an end in itself but a means to an end, and Obama’s policies of retreat and appeasement will help them to achieve their goals.

I posted a comment on Webb's piece. It hasn't appeared yet, although it may do in due course. I reproduce it below, partly in case it doesn't appear on Webb's blog, but mostly because much of what I wrote is stuff I've been meaning to post here for a while…


Either you're being disingenuous, or what I've been mistaking for anti-American bias for so long is in fact naivety.

Who do you really think al-Qaeda wants to win the election?

McCain, who was one of the biggest supporters of a policy that has seen al-Qaeda pushed to the brink of defeat in Iraq, with key leaders being killed there and elsewhere; who has pledged to continue the fight for as long as is necessary; and who isn't afraid to call the threat of Islamic extremism by its true name?

Or Obama, who has promised to withdraw US troops from Iraq despite knowing that it will enable al-Qaeda to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and turn Iraq into a terror state – Afghanistan with oil wealth; who refuses to even talk about the threat from Islamic extremism; and who has pledged to meet with the leaders of the world's most dangerous terrorist states within weeks of taking office?

Do you seriously think for one moment that a US withdrawal from Iraq will mean an end to the wider war that Islamic extremists are waging against us? It won't. It will simply mean that instead of being driven from Iraq and suffering a crushing propaganda defeat, al-Qaeda will be able to retake enough of that country to establish bases (and no, Obama, those bases won't take the form of rows of tents and assault courses in the middle of the desert, with the flag of al- Qaeda flying above the parade ground, which you'll be able to bomb with impunity from Kuwait; they'll be blended invisibly and inextricably into re-subjugated Sunni communities who will be pushed back into the arms of the extremists as a result of their betrayal by the US). It will be free to intensify its efforts to topple the fragile government in Afghanistan, from where Obama is also likely to retreat, just as soon as he's picked up his Nobel Peace Prize for withdrawing from Iraq. And al-Qaeda will be free to launch attacks throughout the Middle East and Europe, and of course against the US.

How long do you think it will be before a gloating bin Laden films his first video message to the world inside a 'liberated' Iraq? And what lessons, and how much inspiration, do you think other terrorist organisations and their state sponsors will draw from a US defeat?

You're absolutely right about one thing however, obvious though it is. You wrote:

Islamic terrorists want war. They want suffering - among others and their own people alike.

I can't believe I'm hearing that from you; your bĂȘte noir, President Bush, couldn't have put it better himself. It's just a shame that you and your colleagues don't make this point more forcefully and more often, and in an environment rather more public than your blog – on the 6 o'clock or 10 o'clock news bulletins on BBC1 for example, or on the front page of your news website that's read by millions around the globe. Or would that be frowned on as 'editorialising'?

Instead, along with the mainstream US media, the BBC too often passes off acts of terrorism as some kind of unfortunate and inexplicable natural disaster, or actually makes excuses for it (most egregiously in Gaza, but in Iraq and Afghanistan too), while seizing with something approaching glee on every mistake made or perceived transgression committed by the US, and every setback that it suffers. I can understand this attitude from the utterly defeated hard left, but why is it that even among the 'soft left' (who of course don't see themselves as taking sides at all, but as fair-minded spokespeople for some imagined global 'consensus'), the desire to see Bush's America humiliated appears to trump the desire to see genuine evil defeated?

Yes, Islamic terrorists want war. But they know they can't win on the battlefields of Anbar or Helmand without first winning on the battlefield of public opinion. It's a strategy that succeeded spectacularly in Spain four years ago, and an Obama victory will be a sure sign of further progress on that front.