Saturday, February 25, 2006

ports, liars, and hacks

Again, Crooksandliars, Onegoodmove, why aren't you showing any of this? If it's just because you've already jumped the gun and shown that you're just generally against anything that Bush does, because he does it, then you've shown that your hacks.

Sorry. We read your sites every day, and we appreciate what you do, but you're doing no service to your country or to the world if you proceed like this.

So, do you care more about Bush being out of office or about doing what's in the best interests of the world? If it's the latter, you should be ready and willing to support the president in what he does right. If that's not the case, "wingnuts" are never going to try to reach out to the left because they'll start with the assumption that the left will automatically be against them on principle.

"Why Dubai is Good for US business," Christian Science Monitor:
True, the United Arab Emirates - where Dubai stands out as a modern city-state on par with Singapore and Monaco - was home to the man, Marwan al Shehhi, who piloted United Airlines Flight 175 into the second World Trade Center tower. But our key frontline ally in fighting terror today, Pakistan, was home to a lot worse. True, bad banking went on in the UAE, some of which funneled money to the 9/11 hijackers, but money laundering is not unique to Arab countries. True, Dubai was the distribution hub of rogue Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan's nuclear black market. But truer still is the cooperation Dubai's intelligence officials gave the US in helping unravel Dr. Khan's network.

...Dubai's business environment is the Middle East's only meritocracy. Young men and women compete openly with ideas and ambitions to make their nation a model example for Muslim societies besieged by high unemployment, low literacy rates, bad trade policies, and authoritarian political structures. They run businesses transparently, with integrity and with an increasingly democratic and accountable corporate culture.

...It is hypocritical for America to want democracy in the Middle East, to champion capitalism as the best economic framework while pushing for reform, transparency, and anticorruption practices in its businesses, and then turn protectionist when a Dubai-owned company turns up on our shores having played the capitalist takeover game responsibly and transparently.

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Terrorism, Port, Allah, Terrorism, Globalization....

From the liberal economist Andrew Leonard's How the World Works at Why is it that so many liberals are writing in support of Bush, yet Crooksandliars and Onegoodmove have posted any of them? Just as hippocritical as they say all "wingnuts" are)...

"Terminal Folly":
The ties of the Bush family to Dubai elites are also well known -- the infamous Carlyle Group does business in Dubai and Bush's brother Neil has been known to frequent the tiny emirate. The jump from these circumstantial pieces of evidence to the assumption that Bush approved the purchase of P&O as a giveback to his cronies is easy to make -- and in the current political climate, quite unavoidable. As many have noted, when you cry wolf about terrorism as much as Bush does, sooner or later the wolf turns around and bites you on the ass.

But the whole uproar is also kind of dumb. There's no evidence anywhere, yet, that George W. Bush, his brother or Carlyle had anything to do with the purchase of P&O by Dubai Ports World. The simple reality is that with oil prices sky-high, Dubai is flush with cash, and thus the state-owned DP World could outbid the Singapore state-owned PSA. No conspiracy necessary here. You could even make the argument that having a Dubai company run logistics at those terminals would make them safer. If you were a terrorist trying to sneak an atomic bomb into New Jersey, would you choose to do so on a container set to be unloaded at a Dubai-run terminal, where scrutiny would most likely be highest? Or would you look for the Singaporean or Korean or Japanese terminal, where no one was paying attention?

Port security, as has been noted repeatedly in press coverage, is the responsibility of the U.S. Coast Guard and customs officials. One can quite reasonably argue that President Bush could have made a much bigger difference in keeping the U.S. safe if he had authorized the spending of a mere fraction of the funds that have gone to pay for the war on Iraq on bulking up container inspections. But how does it help anyone's security to deny a company that is playing by the same rules as everyone elsl the same opportunities as everyone else? If anything, it will only further inflame the sentiments of Arabs who see the U.S. as inimically opposed to all things Middle Eastern. And just as with the case of China's CNOOC oil company's attempt to buy Unocal, the political opposition sends a clear message to the rest of the world. It's OK for American corporations to traipse across the globe buying up everything they want, but don't you foreigners even dare to give us a taste of our own medicine.

In the long run, that kind of attitude is not going to bolster American security. It's just going to make the rest of the world even more angry at us than it already is.

"Democrats Ruining America's Future" (We remind you, this guy is a liberal, writing for a liberal media organization!):

In my e-mail this morning, an alert from an outfit calling itself Democrats for America's Future, claiming in screaming capital letters that "BUSH LEAVES PORTS OPEN TO ATTACK." "The White House is scheming to outsource management of America's six largest ports -- including two that account for 40 percent of the cargo needed for the war in Iraq. And to which foreigners is President Bush so eager to turn over control of our biggest and most security-sensitive ports? ... Why, the United Arab Emirates, of course!"

Wow -- what a bonanza: transparently stupid and racist to boot! With Democrats like these, who needs terrorists bent on destroying the American way of life? We're more than capable of undermining everything we supposedly stand for, right here at home.

...The [Dubai Ports] deal, according to analysts, is largely motivated by Dubai Ports World's desire to get a larger piece of booming Asian trade...

...Nearly all American ports are already operated by foreign companies, Dubai Ports World has a sterling reputation around the world, and it just happens to be run by a senior staff that includes a bunch of, guess what, Americans.

But heck, sure, security at U.S. ports is an issue, and we could probably could do a lot more to oversee them effectively. But that's a completely separate argument from the blatant fear-mongering, racist-baiting and flat-out misinformation that Democrats for America's Future is committing.

First, George W. Bush is not "scheming" to outsource anything. Operation of these ports was already in foreign hands, and the purchase of a British company by a United Arab Emirates company is hardly a result of malign White House maneuvers. Meanwhile, as Time magazine notes, the International Longshoremen's Association workers who currently offload ships at the U.S. ports will continue to do so, regardless of who has the contracts to run the ports.

But much worse, the spectacle of Democrats joining in a chorus that attempts to paint Bush as weak on security because, horror of horrors, he isn't stopping an Arab-owned company from operating ports in the U.S. is pathetic and embarrassing... Engagement of this kind with moderate Arab countries is exactly what this world needs more of. Instead, in their attempt to score political points against Bush, these bozos are telling all Arabs everywhere that we don't trust you and will treat you as the ultimate boogeyman.

Despite all that, people like Lou Dobbs (again, whom we generally agree with, but whom many also say wrote the book on protectionism) is furthering this drivel about Bush's connections. We are not denying people in the Bush Administration have some very questionable connections, but we have no reason to believe that any of this mess is a part of it.

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Port, Port, Port, Terrorism, Port, Allah, Port...SHUT UP!

"Ports deal defended on Hill; UAE firm says it will wait," Washington Times:

"The reaction in the United States has occurred in no other country in the world," said Ted Bilkey [does that sound like an Arab name?], chief operating officer of Dubai Ports World (DPW). "We need to understand the concerns of the people in the U.S. who are worried about this transaction and make sure that they are addressed to the benefit of all parties. Security is everybody's business."

..."The track record of this administration on homeland security -- its inadequate funding, its bureaucratic dysfunction at the Department of Homeland Security, as evidenced most tragically in [Hurricane] Katrina ... does not create an atmosphere of confidence when looking at this particular matter," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat. [She's right, though she's wrong to think this has anything to do with it]

..."The Dubai deal outsources our ports to the state-owned entity of a foreign government," he said. "This deal turns back on the free-market principles that have guided this nation into economic prosperity." [It's been a long time since American ports were run by American companies, listen to the NPR stories]

...DPW's pending $6.8 billion purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which operates port terminals in New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami, Philadelphia and Newark, N.J., is due to close Thursday. [the most overlooked part of this issue is that fact that the company doesn't RUN the PORTS, it RENTS TERMINALS in the ports]

"Fight Over Ports Clouds Efforts to Open Middle East Markets" LA Times:
Unless America takes steps to address the growing tensions between open economic borders and national security, trade experts predict that there will be more of these conflicts, given the emergence of new players from the Middle East and China and the growing internationalization of the U.S. economy. And that could be dangerous for a country that needs roughly $4 billion a day in foreign capital to cover its budget and trade deficits.

...Foreigners already control a large share of the U.S. port business, including seven of the eight container terminals at the Port of Los Angeles.

"There is nothing inherently dangerous about doing business with Arab countries, any more than with Chinese and Brazilian countries," said Moore, with USC's Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events. "We cannot allow our reactions to extremists to dictate our business choices."

...U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman warned Wednesday that "canceling this port deal would be contrary" to the U.S. belief that fighting terrorism means promoting policies that create "opportunities for people to improve their lives and the lives of their families."
[is this the Twilight Zone? We agree with almost everything the Bush Administration is saying!]
"Ports Debate Reawakens Foreign Investment Jitters" Washington Post:

"The implication of failing to approve this would be to tell the world that investments in the United States from certain parts of the world aren't welcome," Treasury Secretary John W. Snow told reporters yesterday. His words echoed those of President Bush, who noted Tuesday that the terminals in question are currently operated by a British firm and that the UAE has been Washington's partner in the war on terror. "It would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through," the president said.

The potential for diplomatic damage concerns some foreign-policy heavyweights, notably Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), who said in an interview that "if the United Arab Emirates feels they're not being treated fairly, it could result in their pulling back some of the support they've given us," which includes allowing U.S. naval vessels to dock in the country's ports.

...Todd M. Malan, president of the Organization for International Investment, agreed, calling the reaction to the ports takeover "an anomaly of Congress's view about foreign investment in the United States." Malan, whose group represents the U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinationals, observed that Toshiba Corp. of Japan is on the verge of buying Westinghouse Electric Co., a builder of nuclear power plants -- "and there hasn't been a peep about that."

...Officials involved in the review countered that the Homeland Security Department took the lead on the review of the ports takeover because of its expertise and jurisdiction. The officials said in a briefing that the department's security experts had a positive view of Dubai Ports World because the company participates in a U.S. program to screen containers before they are put on U.S.-bound ships. Moreover, they knew that at terminals managed by the firm, vital security functions would continue to be performed by Customs and Border Protection employees and the Coast Guard and that longshoremen's unions would continue to supply other security personnel.

But asked whether the panel could have handled the issue better, Stewart A. Baker, the assistant secretary for policy at the Homeland Security Department, said: "Obviously, given all the firestorm on this one, I would think that we probably could have."

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Why ending the debate over something insignificant is significant.

The reason we write so adamantly about the port issue is that it could cause serious problems with foreign investors. We do not want to become France. This is not time to start talking about "patriotisme économique."

Protectionism is not in anyone's interests. We're not talking about free trade at all costs. We're talking about fair trade, especially with Arab countries who are a problem essentially because they are not a part of international trading webs:
Obviously, Iraq, Syria, south Lebannon, North Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran are not part of any major global supply chains, all of them remain hot spots that could explode at any time and slow or reverse the flattening of the world.
Says Mr. Friedman. As we've said before, Arab nations need to be pulled into this system, and out of the oil driven, dictatorial, closed societies. Read the best of liberal economists -- Stiglitz, Sachs, Sen -- and you'd probably find the same answer.

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More on this tomfoolery: The UAE government has nothing to do with the Dubai Ports

Just more reasons why this hoopla about the ports is a plain dumb story:

Strife deepens over port security, Alexandra Marks, Christian Science Monitor

Companies like P&O don't provide security at the ports. The US Coast Guard and Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement do. For instance, in New Orleans, P&O is one of eight terminal operators responsible for marketing the port, signing agreements with shipping lines, hiring labor, loading ships, and moving cargo.

But P&O has no responsibility for security. "We have our own police force, harbor patrol, customs officers, and Coast Guard," says Chris Bonura, spokesman for the Port of New Orleans. "That won't change no matter who is operating the terminal."

P&O is not commenting on the political uproar over the deal. But a source within the company worries that the media and politicians are misrepresenting the arrangements. Other who work within the port communities agree. They note that P&O will not be "managing" the ports, as many news organizations have reported. Instead, the company is one of many that leases terminals at the port.

"I've never quite seen a story so distorted so quickly," says Esther de Ipolyi, a public-relations executive who works with the port of Houston. "It's like I go to an apartment building that has 50 apartments, and I rent an apartment. This does not mean I took over the management of the whole building."

What's the real problem with ports?
Security is a top priority at the ports, but there's concern the Bush administration has not provided enough funds to properly pay for it. Earlier this month, the president of the American Association of Port Authorities complained that the $708 million allotted for maritime security over the past four years amounted to only one-fifth of what the port authorities had identified as needed to properly secure the ports.
Here's an interesting discussion on why, aside from questions about the Dubai government, essentially, on why this isn't a big deal.

As concerns the Dubai government and their connection to Osama Bin Lizzle, one of the company's representatives says that the Dubai government doesn't take any part in the running of Dubai Ports. On top of that, the ports in Dubai are considered some of the best ports in the world, so maybe it would be better if they would have a part in the six ports now in focus in the US.

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Videos about this ridiculous port hoopla...

Here is a taste of some of the videos we've found on the subject of what Lou Dobbs called a "clear clut national security issue."

We've already provided articles.

Tell us why this is a big deal. Because Dubia has ties to terrorists? It's also one of the US's only Middle Eastern allies. Because it's a foreign country? Almost no ports in the US are managed by domestic companies. Because it's a security issue? The port managing companies don't change security, which is managed by the coast guard and customs.

This just seems absurd.


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Badly Punned: Please protest something imPORTant....

America: the ADHD nation

The uproar over port control in US is just absolutely ridiculous. It is a perfect example of (1) liberals finally finding a consensus subject which they can milk in an election year to gain favor with the American public and (2) conservatives finding a consensus subject to regain squandered favor with the American public.

This is all politics, and bad politics at that.

So, here we are, nearing five years after 9-11 (the last time there was such cohesion among Dems and R-pubs), and there is once again collusion. Let's reflect a bit. There has been numerous torture allegations, CIA prison scandals, a war that has made our country more universally hated around the world, a CIA leak used for political gain, spiralling quality of education, abonimable economic practices, illegal NSA spying, and the list goes on. All of these things are issues that have a significant effect on the safety, competitiveness, and peace of the United States of America. There is not one of these issues that is not directly pertinent to every American and his/her desire to gauranty his/her well-being.

Yet, Dems and R-pubs have come together to battle the president on the one thing that has, if any, very little to do with national security!

This isn't the first time we've mentioned this, but the more we look at websites like and (sites we read/appreciate quotidiennement) the more we get sick to our stomach. We get the impression that all liberals are opposed to it because Bush is for it, and liberals are always desparate to undermine what Bush is doing, if anything, on the principle of being so very revolted by everything he is to them.

Onegoodmove even has a link to the AFL-CIO which reiterates the same seemingly baseless concerns about terrorism:
But while much of the outrage over the impending port contract has focused on the potential for increased terrorism, there is another outrage factor at work: Greed.
We have yet to find one article/video that gives reason to claims that Dubai Ports would pose a serious terrorism threat:
The Dubai firm wouldn't be handling security — the U.S. Coast Guard would continue to do that; unionized American longshoremen would still to do all of the loading and unloading; the ports in question were already foreign-owned, as are countless other ports in the United States; and if the U.S. had rejected the Dubai bid, a Singapore firm would probably have gotten the contract from the Brits instead.

Democratic and Republican politicians respond by insisting that the UAE is a bad country full of bad Muslims and Arabs, while Britain is a nice country where everyone likes us. I'm as Anglophile as they come, but you might have noticed that Britain has a surfeit of jihadi nut bags, such as the guys who blew up the Underground and want to behead Danish cartoonists.

Besides, the same Dubai company bought CSX's American port business in 2005, and nobody seemed to care then. So, why now?
We are in no way fans of Bush, but the Americans among us at the B&G are at least reasonable enough to support him in doing things that are good (or at least not bad). We have no reason to believe that the Dubai company poses a threat, and the fact that it's causing so much cooperation between liberals and conservatives against el presidente.

They should be standing together against things that matter, like bad education and torture.

This is ludicrous.

Then again, maybe we'll eat our words one day.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Badly titled news: Doesn't seem so imPORTant....

Why is there so much uproar about the ports? It doesn't seem to us that much will change, but what do we know?

So is it outsourcing major port security when
  • "U.S. Coast Guard controls security of our ports"
  • "U.S. Customs Service controls container security"
If nothing changes "no matter who owns the business operations," what's the problem?

Concerning the whole problem of "foreign-based" company problem, one obvious mistake:
Nor is it clear why Mr. Graham or anybody else should be worried about "foreign-based" companies managing U.S. ports, since P&O is a British company. And Britain, as events of the last year have illustrated, is no less likely to harbor radical Islamic terrorists than Dubai.
We'd like to add that:
Dubai Ports World is one of several foreign giants that operate terminals in ports around the globe; other big companies are from Denmark, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. Few U.S. terminals are managed by American-owned firms.
To continue (from first article):
None of the U.S. politicians huffing and puffing seem to be aware that this deal was long in the making, that it had been reported on extensively in the financial press, and that it went through normal security clearance procedures, including approval from a foreign investment committee that contains officials from the departments of Treasury, Commerce, State and Homeland Security, among other agencies. Even more disturbing is the apparent difficulty of members of Congress in distinguishing among Arab countries. We'd like to remind them, as they've apparently forgotten, that the United Arab Emirates is a U.S. ally that has cooperated extensively with U.S. security operations in the war on terrorism, that supplied troops to the U.S.-led coalition during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and that sends humanitarian aid to Iraq. U.S. troops move freely in and out of Dubai on their way to Iraq now.

Finally, we're wondering if perhaps American politicians are having trouble understanding some of the most basic goals of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. A goal of "democracy promotion" in the Middle East, after all, is to encourage Arab countries to become economically and politically integrated with the rest of the world. What better way to do so than by encouraging Arab companies to invest in the United States? Clearly, Congress doesn't understand that basic principle, since its members prefer instead to spread prejudice and misinformation.
Well, as that stands, this doesn't seem so dangerous. Seems as though all Arabs are being grouped into one group that can't be trusted (that's aside from the fact that there is no information showing that Dubians will be coming to US ports to run them under new governance).

What's the big deal? We should hope people aren't speaking up for political reasons, but that doesn't happen in Washington....

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sometimes it helps to be hairy

Fanfan (right), our resident Chinese translator, writer, and all-around beautiful Taiwanese correspondant has allowed her boyfriend, yours truly, to make his Chinese fashion magazine debut.

Fanfan writes a monthly article for the magazine Orange based in Shanghai, I believe. These articles are meant to focus on certain cultural differences or nuances in the West that would be interesting to people in the East. One of these differences, obviously, is body hair.

As you can see, she used me as an example. The caption above my head says something along the lines of, "People in the Occident have a lot more hair to deal with." (Note: I'm the guy that's not a girl, and not a French rapper. I'm in the middle).

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Important instructions in case of terrorist attack!

According to unilife :
The US government has a new website aimed at preparing its citizens for terrorist attacks. It's another attempt at scare-mongering in the style of the old "duck and cover" advice of WWII. The funny thing is that these pictures are so ambiguous they could mean anything! Here are a few interpretations...
Here's a couple samples, but there's a lot more at the unilife site:

My favorite's "Use your flashlight to lift the walls right off of you!"

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

St. Jack: God's crusader to take Him out of Washington

The Episcopal priest who presided over the funeral of Ronald Reagan, former Republican senator, and leader of battle to put Clarence Thomas on the supreme court says that the Republican's close relation to religion "makes the party seem exclusive" and "makes American politics meaner."

Danforth has written quite a bit on the subject, and it would be a good idea for liberals to work hand and hand with men like Danforth (who are becoming more numerous as the days pass) if they intend to bring more reason and less fireworks to Washington.

Not saying it's going to happen, though, because the only thing that liberals can agree on right now is that they disagree with Republicans. Democrats should call themselves the "Anti-Republicans," seeing as that is the only thing that seems to define them.

This anti-Liberal rant, brought to you in part by John P. Avlon:

Accidentally shooting a party fundraiser and then delaying telling the press: Regrettable.

Intentionally shooting down the career of one of your party's rising stars: Really stupid.

Vice President Cheney's hunting accident last weekend struck a nerve not just because of the inherent sensationalism of a second-in-command this side of Aaron Burr firing a gun at someone, but because for critics it served as a microcosm of the administration - insularity and incompetence resulting in people getting hurt.

But when Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leaders Charles Schumer and Harry Reid decided to pull the plug on the U.S. Senate campaign of Iraqi War veteran Paul Hackett, they unwittingly encapsulated the reasons why Democrats have been unable to capitalize on a hailstorm of Republican mistakes over the past year.

Democrats don't seem to understand that politics is perception and that campaigns need to become crusades in order to succeed.

Hackett's candidacy in Ohio directly addressed the Democratic Party's deepest weaknesses - military credibility and red state resonance.
When will democrats realize that most republicans don't even like Bush but wouldn't vote for a democrat because they don't think democrats have any direction. Not to mention that democrats have let the republicans label them godless, baby-killing, anti-Americans who will turn your children into fags and dykes if they don't keep vigilant eye out.

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Fraternité? Laissez-les manger du porc...

Don't like poor immigrants? Just feed them things they're not aloud to eat.
PARIS -- French authorities have begun closing down soup kitchens run by anti-immigrant groups that serve pork because the practice is offensive to Muslims, who cannot eat pork.
In Strasbourg and Nice, food handouts have been banned because they could lead to "public disorder."
"Schemes with racial subtexts must be denounced," Mayor Fabienne Keller said.
In Paris, police have stopped charities from serving pork soup at major stations on "administrative grounds," claiming the soup kitchens do not have the correct papers.
The scene has been repeated all over France in recent weeks after complaints that right-wing groups have been serving "racist" food. The groups giving out the soup say it is nothing more than traditional French cuisine. They say that hundreds of homeless people will go hungry.

You gotta' love French ingenuity in the face of immigration. Wouldn't be surprised if the "right wing group" is connected to the beloved Front National.

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I joined al-Qaeda for the Benefits

The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point has done a study that shows,among other things, that al-Qaeda has a corporate structure which allows its opperatives far more vacation time than the American worker, though the pay is less than stellar:
"The corporate culture appears to be similar to other modern organizations," the study states.

Indeed, some of the documents used by researchers indicate that al Qaeda has vacation plans -- seven days every three weeks for married members, five days a month for bachelors -- and provides its members with 15 days of sick leave a year.

One document states that al Qaeda operatives must request vacation 10 weeks in advance, and another document outlines the pay scale for members: about $108 a month for married members, less if they're single and more if they have more than one wife.

The Harmony documents, some of which date back to the 1970s, when Islamists tried to overthrow the secular government of Syria, "also reveal a high level of arrogance and intense ambition" common to jihadist groups, the study states.

"While the theology may seem reactionary, the organization insists on using modern management principles as well. Instruction is provided on applying information technology, manipulating the media and researching the use of nuclear weapons for the cause of jihad."

More surprisingly, the study suggests that "the United States should conduct counterinsurgency and psychological operations against terrorist organizations in a subtle manner that avoids 'direct engagement' whenever possible."

So, one may ask, how could an entity (say, a country like the United States) take advantage of this structure?

1. Disrupt al-Qa’ida’s control of operations and limit its financial efficiency.
(see graph)

2. Constrain al-Qa’ida’s security environment.

3. Prioritize efforts based on sub-group vulnerabilities.

4. Conduct an aggressive study of jihadi strategy and foreign policy.

5. Deny jihadi groups the benefit of security vacuums they seek to exploit and create.

6. Turn the jihadi vanguard back on itself.

7. Confuse, humiliate, demoralize and embarrass the jihadi rank-in-file.

8. Subvert the authority of senior commanders.

9. Facilitate misunderstanding as well as understanding of America’s intentions and capacity.

10. Force jihadi propagandists back on their heels.

11. Understand and exploit the ideological breaks in the jihadi movement.

12. Anticipate al-Qa’ida’s transformation from an organization to a social movement.

One interesting note:
The Combating Terrorism Center and the al-Qaeda's own words within the Harmony documents go a long way in debunking the myth that al-Qaeda possesses an infinte pool of talent capable of stepping in for experienced leaders jilled [sic: jailed] or captured on the field of battle.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Hicks: Part deux

Unsexy article of the week: Why Big Money could mean Big Peace

At least five of the Taiwanese companies that make parts for Dell computers have factories in China: MSI, Quantra, Darfon, Asutek, Liteon. In order to function, these companies rely on good, open relations between China and Taiwan. Though tensions are always high between the two "countries," the more intertwined these countries become in commercial competition and not political quibbling, the less likely it is that China will ever use exercise its sovereignty over Taiwan.

This is a part of what Thomas Friedman called the Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention:
"no two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain, such as Dell's, will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain, because people embedded in major global supply chains don't want to fight old-time wars any more."
Friedman illustrates this by showing the process of constructing a Dell laptop he ordered, and comes to the conclusion that "involved about 400 companies in North America, Europe, and primarily Asia, but with 30 key players. Somehow, though, it all came together."

This idea of a supply chain bringing about a new sort of stability isn't new, seeing as it can be found in Kant's 1795 work Perpetual Peace:
The connections, more or less near, which have taken place among the nations of the earth, having been carried to that point, that a violation of rights, committed in one place, is felt throughout the whole, the idea of a cosmopolitical right can no longer pass for a fantastic exaggeration of right; but is the last step of perfection necessary to the tacit code of civil and public right; these systems at length conducting towards a public right of men in general, and towards a perpetual peace.
Yet, there is still the tendancy towards protectionism. On top of that concept of "China is stealing our workers and so on," there is the cry of how capitalism is inherently bad. This is very noticeable in France:
The French regard America as the epitome of liberal “Anglo-Saxon” capitalism. What sets their model apart from the individualist American one, they believe, are the values of equality and community. After a visit to America in the 1940s, Simone de Beauvoir wrote that she regarded “America as the country where capitalist oppression had triumphed in the most vile fashion.”
In France, capitalism, by and large, is bad. It abuses workers in third world countries, it sees nothing but dollar signs, and it places no dignity in humanity.

We are not denying that, rather we are saying that it's only have of the story. As a report on the evening news on TF1 the other night showed, turning the Clemonceau away was much lamented by the Indian shipyard workers who needed the work. So, yes, companies/countries do abuse workers in less developed countries, but at the same time, it has been shown time and time again that these people need the work also in order to make a better life.

That said, we hang largely on the idea that global commerce will stabilize the world, and that most companies don't want war, as it is bad for business. As mentioned in this article:
In the run-up to the Iraq war, some anti-war campaigners made the argument that capitalism and war go hand-in-hand. Because we are running out of resources, they said, the ever-increasing quest for oil and other raw materials would lead to more conflict.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Firstly, we are not running out of resources. This is a counter-intuitive argument, but scarcity of resources, as measured by price, is decreasing. New resources are being found, new technology means that resources are used more efficiently. Higher prices for resources lead to investment in technology or new thinking about how to accomplish end products - leading to less scarcity. While oak furniture is often real wood, my sturdy Ikea bookcases are only Beech veneer because that's the way to make them cost-effectively. Cars of the future will run on hydrogen - not because we run out of oil but because they will be cheaper.

Secondly, while war may be in the interests of defence companies, it is not in the interests of business in general. War gets in the way of commercial interests. It leads to greater uncertainty and higher taxes...
The problem? Why is there still war? Mr. Friedman, would you like to take this?
Obviously, Iraq, Syria, south Lebannon, North Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran are not part of any major global supply chains, all of them remain hot spots that could explode at any time and slow or reverse the flattening of the world.
Friedman points to the only Middle Eastern company traded on the Nasdaq: Aramex. If there was a way to encourage this sort of developement in the Middle East, more Aramex's, we would see a huge change in the social conflicts in the world. In that case, one would think, competition would move from the oil fields to the stock exchange.

What can we do? That we don't know. How do you improve education in a region you've never been to? We'll work on it, but we'll have to get back to you later.

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Oscar the Fish warns of Allah's wrath

Fortunately, Westerners aren't the only one's who spread emails with badly photoshopped photos.

As you see here, people are sending photos concerning Allah's wrath on a Danish road (taught that road a lesson).

This picture should remind people of other popular photoshop emails like "Sharking jumping up to bite helicopter rescuer" or "satellite picture of the great black out in the north east" -- among many, many others.

Let's not forget the non-photoshop photos either. These are the photos of people praying to a sweat stain that looks like Jesus or a cheeseburger with the image of Mary.

Add Oscar the fish to God/Allah's (they're the same entity) minions of message bearing objects:

Locals flocked to the village's pet shop, Water Aquatic, this week after it was noticed that the markings on the scales of the two-year-old albino Oscar fish mimicked the Arabic script for Allah.

That the other side of the fish appeared to be inscribed with the word Muhammad only served to compound the spectacle. Within hours, Oscar - originally from Singapore - found hordes of locals, paparazzi and national television news reporters peering into his tank.

Mohammed Riaz-Shahid, 38, the manager of the Oasis Fast Food restaurant across the road was quickly appointed interpreter and led the chorus of claims that this was a message from above.

"There's no doubt about it," he said. "The markings are clear to see. Allah on one side, Muhammad on the other."

"Christians, Jews - they all believe in God," he explained. "So God's showing a sign to everyone, a sign that he's here."

Peter Hurst, 17, concurred. "It's a sign of something - no doubt - probably God," he said. "It's amazing, especially for this time of year."

Perhaps the most flabbergasted visitor of all was a man from "a town nearby" who asked to remain anonymous. Last night, he claimed, he had dreamed about a whale with the words Muhammad and Allah inscribed on its head.

In similar news, I had a dream a couple of nights ago of dead flamingoes frozen in a lake. The next day (this is true), I saw an article in the paper talking about Flamingoes at an aviary in France. The article was about the bird flu worries in Europe.

I haven't alerted the authorities yet, but I'll make sure the media knows once the flu strikes.

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Israeli chief of Shin Bet: I’m not sure we won’t miss Saddam.”

We'll be as brief as possible here. Israel's one of America's most contraversial allies, especially when it comes to dealing with Arab nations. Osama has cited the US's relationship with Israel several times as a reason for the current al-Qaeda conflict.

So, the US makes itself so much more vulnerable to attacks vis-a-vis its deep connections to and protection of Israel.

Well, unfortunately, some Israelis aren't singing the US's praises...ungrateful bastards:

Iraq Invasion a Distaster For Israel

Remember when the neo-cons boasted that invading Iraq would be good for Israel? The chief of Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, begs to differ. The BBC reported today that the head of Israel’s security agent said a “strong dictatorship would be preferable to the present ‘chaos’ in Iraq.” So much for making the Middle East more stable.

BBC | Yuval Diskin said a strong dictatorship would be preferable to the present “chaos” in Iraq, in a speech to teenage Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

He also said the Israeli security services and judiciary treated Arabs and Jewish suspects differently.

A Shin Bet veteran, Mr Diskin took over as Shin Bet’s chief in May.

His speech to the students at the Eli settlement as they prepared for military service was secretly recorded and broadcast on Israeli TV.

When asked about the growing destabilisation of Iraq, Mr Diskin said Israel might come to rue its decision to support the US-led invasion in 2003.

“When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos,” he said.

“I’m not sure we won’t miss Saddam.”

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You say sedation, I say sedition: VA Nurse investigated for "Sedition" for Criticizing Bush:

Here’s what her letter said.

“I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government,” it began. “The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes!” She mentioned that she was “a VA nurse” working with returning vets. “The public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder,” she wrote, and she worried about the hundreds of thousands of additional cases that might result from Katrina and the Iraq War.

“Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown, and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence,” she wrote. “This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil. . . . We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.

Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times.”

This is certainly the type of thing Americans need to be spending their time on. If this is sedition, the terrorists have won.

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Hope this time it works better than before

Round two:
The Bush administration made an emergency request to Congress yesterday for a seven-fold increase in funding to mount the biggest ever propaganda campaign against the Tehran government, in a further sign of the worsening crisis between Iran and the west.

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said the $75m (£43m) in extra funds, on top of $10m already allocated for later this year, would be used to broadcast US radio and television programmes into Iran, help pay for Iranians to study in America and support pro-democracy groups inside the country.

We here believe that there couldn't be a better way to deal with Iran. The US should be inviting all qualified students to students from contentious countries to study at their universities. We never understood why the government thought making visa restrictions on students was going to fight terrorism.

American politicians should be doing everything in their power to revive the old American image as "Exporters of Hope" as T. Friedman put it.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Drawing conclusions: Mohammed's image a pretty familiar site

(“The Mi’raj of Muhammad,” a 1517 piece.)

A Long History of Muhammed drawings:

Muhammad on Museum Walls

As they understand it, the Koran does not forbid representations of Muhammad, though other revered texts have led millions of Muslims to scorn the idea. They know that many Islamic artists have taken on the subject. And they know that pictures of Muhammad — not caricatures, but respectful representations, executed by and for Muslims, sometimes with the prophet's face shrouded by a veil, sometimes not — can be found in museums throughout Europe and North America.

By happenstance, curators say, none of the artworks at LACMA, the Freer or the Met were on public display when protests erupted late last year following publication in Denmark of a dozen newspaper cartoons lampooning Muhammad. But most of the museum-held portrayals of Muhammad can be accessed through the museums' Internet sites, along with some explanatory text.


At LACMA, Islamic art curator Linda Komaroff said: "We've always known about these images, and no one's ever had a problem, because they are respectful.... I wish this whole issue would go away because it's so incendiary."

In Art Museums, Portraits Illuminate A Religious Taboo

"Of course such depictions exist," says Sayyid Syeed, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America. "What is important to remember is that they were never widely available. Had they been, the common people surely would have resented them. But they were made for powerful dynasties, and no one could take them to task.

"Today the consensus is strong. From Morocco to Indonesia, our tradition prohibits such images."

Those rough cartoons from Denmark were intended to enrage. They do what they set out to do. Published in a bunch, they disrespect the faith. The paintings of the prophet found in grand museums aren't like that at all.

Here are LOTS of examples for you arranged in chronological order:

From Rashid al-Din's Jami al Tawarikh (Compendium of Chronicles) - here's a page from the Met (with pictures) explaining some history of the book.
-----Khalili Collection Ms 727, Rashid al-Din's Compendium of Chronicles, f3a: Muhammad conquers Mecca, 1314, painted Iran.
-----Edinburgh University Library MS Arab 20, Rashid al Din's Compendium of Chronicles, Scene of the Birth of Muhammad, 1315, painted Iran. The baby Muhammad has a visible face. Here's a link to an image of ONE folio, though not one showing Muhammad.

---Topkapi Sarayi Library, Istanbul, B.282 Kulliyyat-i Tarikhi of Hafiz-i Bru, folio 171A: Muhammad Conquers Mecca, 1415-1416, painted Afghanistan -- Muhammad's face is a golden wash of fire and he stands in front of a gold background. F 169A shows Ali storming a fortress.

---Topkapi Sarayi Library, Istanbul, MS Hazine 2154, F 107:Muhammad describing Jerusalem, 1400-50, painted Iran -- FULLY FACED Muhammad.

---Paris, Bib Nat, SupplTurc 190, Hari-Malik Bakhshi, Mi'rajnama, folio 34B: Muhammad and the Angel Gabriel, 1425-50, painted Afghanistan. Fully faced Muhammad, both Muhammad and Buraq encased in flames.

---Khalili Collection MSS 620, The Giant Uj* and the Prophets Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, 15th Century book, painted Iraq - click this link, choose Publications, choose Vols XXV-XXVI, scroll down - it's the image in the left margin. I can't find the folio information without going to our library and the Khalili collection doesn't allow access to pages deep in the directory. Sorry.

---London, British Museum. Mi'raj, 1497, painted Iran. The thumbnail image I can see looks like a fully-faced Muhammad, but it won't enlarge and I'm not sure.

---Worcester Art Museum, page from a Khamseh of Nizami, Mi'raj, Muhammad on Buraq, 1550, painted Iran. Here's a link to a page from the book, but like the Edinburgh link not to the correct page. It begins to make me wonder if the curators are avoiding controversy by keeping the Muhammad images off the internet?

---Freer Gallery, Washington, Jami, Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones), F 275A, Mi'raj, Muhammad on Buraq, painted Iran, 1556-65. Go here, scroll to Arts of the Islamic World, choose the last virtual exhibition -- your tax dollars at work!! Choose the first poem of the 7 - "Chain of Gold." The Ascent of Muhammad (the Mi'raj) is the 4th page in. There's a nice note on the use of the veiled prophet (anyone from St. Louis reading? That's where it comes from.).

---Topkapi Sarayi Library, Istanbul, MS.Hazine 1221, Kitab Siya-i Nabi (Life of the Prophet), multiple scenes from the life, including the Birth, Call by Gabriel, the Call to Prayer from the top of the Kaba, the Mi'raj, and the Death of the Prophet, 1594, painted Turkey.

Some other useful things
Here is a useful piece on the Night Journey of Muhammad, the Mi'raj, from Wikipedia. Perhaps its explanation of the mystical content will help you understand why this is such a common IMAGE of Muhammad.

The Wikipedia article on Buraq, the steed of Muhammad, even has a picture optimistically described as "public domain." I don't recognize it (it's not a great reproduction and, like I said, I'm not a specialist). It shows a veiled Muhammad.

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Cartoons...are you listening?

(From Slate)
This is what cartoons are supposed to do. Political cartoons are meant to make a point, not childishly insult an entire group of people.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

T BaG Bicks VSer: The Bow and Grimace Bill Hicks Video Series (part 1)

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So much little organization...

Sunny days aren't just for working on your base tan anymore
In a scientific breakthrough that has stunned the world, a team of South African scientists has developed a revolutionary new, highly efficient solar power technology that will enable homes to obtain all their electricity from the sun.

This means high electricity bills and frequent power failures could soon be a thing of the past.

The unique South African-developed solar panels will make it possible for houses to become completely self-sufficient for energy supplies.

The panels are able to generate enough energy to run stoves, geysers, lights, TVs, fridges, computers - in short all the mod-cons of the modern house.

It actually shouldn't be much of a suprise
Global Warming (the other GW) is becoming a hot topic in red states. The movement was, after all, started by a conservative republican.

Paciderm Payback: Elephants never forget...and they want revenge!
The reputation that elephants have for never forgetting has been given a chilling new twist by experts who believe that a generation of pachiderms may taking revenge on humans for the breakdown of elephant society.
Berlusconi = Jesus, according to Berlusconi
The connection is fairly apparent, once you remember that Paul said in his lost letter to the Ephesians (later revealed in the LA Times), "Thou shoult nullify laws that make anticorruption prosecution possible, so as to facilitate organized crime in the name of the Lord God, our Savior, maker of heaven and gelato."

Sharon: "Did I miss anything?" Well, aside from Hamas winning the election....your son was arrested.

You mean to tell me that Arabs don't watch FOX?
One of the chief means by which democracy was supposed to be preached to Arabs is the U.S. Arabic-language television station Al Hurra ("the Free One") and its sister station, Radio Sawa ("Together"). Instead, these government-funded stations represent everything that is wrong and misconceived about official U.S. ways of approaching the Arab world.

Widespread Muslim fury at the European media's caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, and widespread Western incomprehension of that fury, illustrate the extent to which we are still talking past each other. Clearly there is an urgent need for media that will bridge this gap. But to be effective, they have to be credible with Muslims — which Al Hurra is not.

Still, President Bush has requested a 13% spending increase for Al Hurra. Yet, according to a recent Zogby poll, only 1% of Arab viewers watch it as their first choice. Al Hurra claims 21.3 million viewers, but it will not publish the Nielsen survey that supposedly supports this figure. The station is rightly regarded by most Arabs as a mouthpiece for the Bush administration.

Um...Conservatives, don't you like small government?

Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina called some of the legal justifications the Bush administration used for the program (like its assertion that it didn't need Congress's or the judiciary's OK) "dangerous." Over in the House, Heather Wilson, a Republican from New Mexico, is calling for an investigation.

Why was this significant? Because conservatism, real conservatism with its distrust of government and radical change, has been in short supply in our nation's capital since 2001. Oh, there are Republicans, and they have controlled the political landscape here since then. But there is a difference between Republicanism and conservatism.

Stem Cells may be back in business in the US.

Mr. Hicks, did you want to say something about this?
"Gays in the military . . . here's how I feel about it, alright? Anyone . . . DUMB enough . . . to want to be in the military, should be allowed in. End of fucking story. That should be the only requirement."

Prisons in and outside of the US:
1) Those anti-American killjoys at the "U.N." have more to whine about:
A draft United Nations report on the detainees at Guantanamo Bay concludes that the U.S. treatment of them violates their rights to physical and mental health and, in some cases, constitutes torture.

It also urges the United States to close the military prison in Cuba and bring the captives to trial on U.S. territory, charging that Washington's justification for the continued detention is a distortion of international law.
Don't these guys have better things to do than to keep nagging the US? "Wah wah wah...don't go to Iraq. The weapons inspectors do their job...wah wah wah...You need to close Guantanamo...wah wah wah...." I mean, don't these guys know that the US is at war against terrorism? If the US closes Guantanamo, the terrorists win. Do you want the terrorists to win?

2) Abu Ghraib: The most understated headline of recent history (like saying "Katrina Victims Unhappy"):
Iraq's acting human rights minister, Nermine Othman, said she was "horrified" by the pictures and would study whether any action could be taken against those responsible, even though some offenders have been imprisoned.

"There will be two kinds of reactions from Iraqis," she told The Associated Press. "One will be anger and others will feel sorry that they (SBS) didn't give them to the Iraqi government to investigate. Why use them? Why show them? We have had enough suffering and we don't want any more.

3) Then, the party doesn't stop in the city of Angels....

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Shut up about art, stupid hippies....Lessons in Harmony

There's a John Lennon exhibit here in Paris that's actually very interesting, but it's also very angering, in the sense that it reminds me of how tired I am about people saying things like, "Music will save the world."

Do I not believe that? Yes, and that's the problem. I'm just tired of people saying like music will feed people, relieve debt, or something like that. Music won't cure aids, but it will make people want to save others.

Art -- more specifically, music -- can make a change, but you can't just say that without validating it.

This documentary is one of the most touching films I've ever seen, because it's real. It's about a Palestinian-Israeli orchestra formed by Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim.

For now, just check out the videos. They're from the documentary about the orchestra called Lessons in Harmony.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Stupid in America

This is a 20-20 episode with John Stostle (the other mustache). There are no wars, no talks about evolution or religion, and no celebrities getting naked, so there probably won't be much talk about it.

What it addresses is what we're convinced is the deterioration of the American education system. It's a system that has changed little since it was created, when most Americans were still living on farms.

Here are some highlights:
  • Giving a test in New Jersey and Belgium: in a charter school in Belgium, the kids score, I believe, 30 points higher than the American students in New Jersey.
    • Notice that, in a country where French, Walloon, and Flemish is spoken, the Belgian students are smacking us down in English.
  • The Money Question: We've doubled the amount of money for education (adjusted for inflation) in the last 30 years, but the grades have fallen.
    • A principal in a school that spends thousands less per student says the money complaint is the "biggest lie in America"
  • South Carolina
    • 18 year-old in SC can't read.
    • Sanford trying to create a voucher system
  • Teacher's Unions.
    • can't fire teachers (even when crude, sexual emails have been sent to female students)
    • 2/80,000 teachers have been fired as incompetent
    • Rubber Room - $20 million spent per year just to keep dangerous teachers away from children. These teachers are paid to go into these "rubber rooms" and do nothing all day.
The most common answer given as a remedy: choice. People say that vouchers are the answer. Take a look. Think about it.

Outside sources:

Literacy of College Graduates is on Decline

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Bill Hicks on creationism and fundamentalism...

This is the legendary philoso-comedian Bill Hicks. One of the funniest, most sarcastic jokesters who ever lived. He died, I believe, about ten years ago (that's why he mentions Bush 1 being voted out of the white house).

Hicks is the voice on the last song of Tool's Aenima album, if you're familiar with it.

We've referenced Bill Hicks several times. Most recently we referenced his comments on evolution, which are in this video.

Warning: there's naughty langauge in the video.

The views of Bill Hicks do not represent the religious views of the Bow and Grimace, however, they do represent our humanist views. That said, as usual, we are not mocking religions, religious, or God... Just certain people's views thereof.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Read all about it....

We've said it before, Sweden is impeccable. When God created the world, he was thinking of Sweden. This is just another reason why.

Rest in Peace, Mr. and Mrs. King. We've still got some work to do.

Staff members of three Democrats and two Republicans aren't so keen on unflattering-but-accurate information about their bosses on Wikipedia.

(Little) Women's lib: Girls are drinking and pill-popping more than boys. You've come a long way, baby!

The War You Didn't See: a soldier's story

Smuggling Bacon: more on American basketball players in Iran

More on Sciences:
God Bless Darwin
Can Bush make America more competitive in Math and Science?
Is it hot in here?
Remember when they said, "We're still waiting for a verdict on global warming," they meant, "We're trying to figure out how we can surpress the information."

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

T BAG Hypo PubS: The Bow A Grimace Hypothetical Public Service Announcements

We are starting a series of public service announcements we would put on billboards and television if we had the money to do so. It's called "T BAG Hypo PubS."

The first one is, to keep our theme for the day, to end the Intelligent Design debate:

[SCENE: Students sitting in a classroom. The camera is moving down the center aisle towards the teacher who is standing in front of a chalkboard littered with terms and sketches. What she is saying gradual becomes audible. As the teacher is speaking, the camera gradually circles the teacher until it is behind her head as she finishes the line. The view is the whole class before the teacher]

Teacher: And that concludes are day-long discussion of evolution. Tomorrow, we will begin our month long session on all of the systems of the body: circulation, endocrine, etc. Any questions?

[One student in front of the teacher raises his hand.]

Teacher: Timmy.

Timmy: For the test, if we believe God created the world, are you going to count off if we put that? You know, if we don't believe in evolution.

Teacher: First of all, evolution doesn't attempt to explain who or what created the world, only what happened from there.


Teacher: Any more questions?

[Screen goes black. The word EVOLUTION appears on the screen in white letters.]

Narrator (Morgan Freeman, preferably): Evolution. It's only a debate in the US.

[The narrator's (Clint Eastwood would be good too) words appear on the screen as he's saying them. Then, cut back to the classroom]

Teacher: Chang, what are you doing back there?

Chang: (nervously) Oh, I'm sorry. While you were both talking about God during biology, I started sketching a new idea I had for a computer processor using nanotubes instead of silicon chips. I'm sorry for not paying attention.

Teacher: That's okay, Chang.

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Castration and my toilet: Great American inginuity...It was great while it lasted.

UPDATE: "Chinese To Develop Sciences, Technology" Washington Post, Feb. 10, 2006

This is a tale of American, her inginuity, her ability to make food fast and computers faster (with effective grammar/spellchecks that have rendered us unable to spell anything on hour own). This is an example of the resiliancy of American spirit in the face of adversity.

Unfortunately, this is also a story about how it has nothing to do with America. The great American inginuity that made America what it is will just as easily make India, China, etc. back into what they once were, centers of innovation and .

You see, since our first meeting, the toilet seat in The B&G's Paris bureau has been broken. It favors female use (or use by uncooth males who choose not to lift up the toilet seat). I'm a traditional Southern gentlemen, so not lifting the seat when I'm shaking the dew of my lilly is simply not an option (though I rarely put the seat back down). Unfortunately, the seat on this toilet doesn't stay up on its own (probably made in France).

Finally, one day, I got fed up having to lean over to hold up the seat while I micturate (God bless the Cohen Brothers), and in a moment of genius, not so unlike Newton creating calculus or John Nash's developement of Game Theory, I fixed the damn toilet. In the spirit of Macgyver dismantalling an atomic submarine with a matchstick and a wine bottle, I used a coat-hanger and a pair of wire cutters.

Not only did I fix the toilet, but I accessorized. You see, the loop at the end of the coat hanger could double as a flower holder (like in the new VW beetles) or as a candle holder to get rid of that new poo-poo smell.

My major fault: I dropped that grey towel in the toilet after I took those pictures.

Anyway, God bless America, right? Nope.

There was a time when America was the leader in science and engineering, and as a result the most powerful nation in the world. Sure, America is still the most powerful nation in the world, but we're afraid that's changing. What is being called the "War on Science" is the reason.

The most recent indicator is the TIME magazine article on science in America. This is just another of the hundreds of articles we will one day look back on and say, "Shit, we should have seen it coming."

I can't get my hands on a copy of the magazine, but we're pretty sure the answer to their "Is America flunking science question?" is yes. An emphatic yes.


In the National Science Board's most recent report, they note that, of the 2.8 million science and engineering first university degrees (bachelors degrees) in the world, 1.2 million were in Asia (to students from Asian universities), 830,000 were from European universities, and only 400,000 were in the US. (see graph at left)

If you want a good idea of how significant this is, you can look at chapter 7 of Friedman's The World is Flat. As he quotes the NSB:
The number of jobs requiring science and engineering skills in the U.S. labor force is growing almost 5 percent per year. In comparison, the rest of the labor force is growing at just over 1 percent. Before September 11, 2001, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that science and engineering occupations would increase at three times the rate of all occupations.

A lot of the most recent problems in American science are a result of certain religious stigmas about science (which is the inspiration for this article). That's not to say that it's all the reason, since American students are perhaps the most apathetic students in the world, to make a huge generalization.

Before moving on to God, we're going to mention the stark contrast between the American spiral of science and engineering students to the spike of degrees coming from Asia. Going to Freidman again:
Science and engineering degrees now represent 60 percent of all bachelor's degrees earned in China, 33 percent in South Korea, and 41 percent in Taiwan. By contrast, the percentage of those taking a bachelor's degree in science and engineering in the United States remains at roughly 31 percent. Factoring out science degrees, the number of Americans who graduate with just engineering degrees is 5 percent, as compared to 25 percent in Russia and 46 percent in China...
Man, does that suck.

I'm not going to rewrite the whole chapter. You get the point: science and engineering breed innovation, innovation leads to new technology, new technology leads to big money. An economy that constantly innovates is a powerful economy. Am I wrong?

Well, what's the newest element in the "War on Science"? His name is Ken Ham. His photo (right, from this PBS documentary) reminds me of the Bill Hicks talk about evolution where he says something along the lines of "Why is it that so many people who are against the idea of evolution just seem bitter that they missed the boat, like God took 'em out of the oven too early."

Kenny believes that the Bible can be taken literally and that the world is 6,000 years old. He's going around the country teaching children to tell their teachers that, like their teachers, they weren't around when the world was created but they "know" someone who was: God.

That's great, Kenny. Make sure you tell them also that God is still working on the cure for cancer, a better source of renewable energy, a perfect democracy, a way to stop weapons proliferation, a way to stop global warming, and a solution to the lack of potable water in the world.

One good sign, though, I get the impression from the article that they've finally realized that evolution has nothing to do with how the earth was created or by whom, so they're focussing some on the Big Bang.

We have two solutions to the science/religion "debate" in America. One, any male who believes that the Bible should be taken word for word must castrate himself, for the Lord said to Matthew (Matt. 19: 12):
For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.
Let there be eunuchs! This will curb, after a generation, the flow of fundamentalists who aren't willing to dig deep into the questions of religion (like, explain how the choice between paradise and eternal torture is a choice, and if not how do we have free will?)

DISCLAIMER: We are not anti-religion, -Christian, etc. We believe in God, we just don't know what it's name is. We're under the impression that everybody is worshipping the same being and they don't even know it. Moreover, we know that Kenny doesn't represent most Christians, but it is up to devout Christians to silence men like him who are tainting the religion.

Second solution to the religion/science debate, support men like Jack Danforth, a former Republican senator and Episcopal minister who for several years now has been fed up with the fact that religion has hijacked politics.

We have a third solution as well, but we fear that it is too reasonable to work for Kenny.

We'll talk about that later. Until then, be ready for incredible innovations like my toilet-seat-holder-upper to start coming from China, India, Taiwan, etc. Not from the US.

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