Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo.
Monday, August 27, 2007
In an article titled Terror trial hurts group's funding, AP reporter David Koenig gives a megaphone to Parvez Ahmed, the current chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), to complain about his organization's inclusion as a an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).
Piggybacking on CAIR's filing of an incredibly disingenuous amicus brief in an effort to have the organization removed from the list, Ahmed proceeds to whine about how prosecutors are on a mission to shut his organization down, without acknowledging any of the plentiful reasons as to why CAIR ended up on the Department of Justice's radar screen as a co-conspirator in the first place.
As Koenig reports, "[t]he Council on American-Islamic Relations has come up several times in testimony. An FBI agent said two founders of the group were present at a 1993 meeting in Philadelphia at which Hamas supporters plotted how to derail a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians." Ahmed, of course, "denied any link to Hamas by the council or the two founders who were in Philadelphia," and protests that the government is "trying to damage his group's reputation and chill Muslim opposition to the prosecution of Holy Land Foundation leaders."
Ahmed's denials are, of course, laughable on their face, and perhaps due to word limits and deadlines, there may not be enough space and time in mainstream reports to conclusively demonstrate exactly why. But as the CT blog has no such constraints, here is the background:
CAIR was founded by high ranking officials of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a Hamas front group effectively shut down after losing a $156 million civil judgment in a case brought by the parents of an American teenager murdered by Hamas terrorists. HLF was also a defendant in that case, and the ties between CAIR, IAP and HLF run very deep.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Mr Livingstone, London's mayor, said London and Venezuela had exchanged "those things in which they are rich to the mutual benefit of both".
"This will make it cheaper and easier for people to go about their lives and get the most out of London," he said. "The agreement which makes this possible will also benefit the people of Venezuela, by providing expertise in areas of city management in which London is a world leader."
Angie Bray, the Conservative leader in the London assembly, said Mr Livingstone should rather have appealed to the Treasury if he needed financial support. "The spectacle of our mayor ... going cap in hand to a dictator ... is morally indefensible," she added.
Full speech by Dr. Baumeister of Florida State University,: "Is There Anything Good About Men?"
A few lucky men are at the top of society and enjoy the culture's best rewards. Others, less fortunate, have their lives chewed up by it. Culture uses both men and women, but most cultures use them in somewhat different ways. Most cultures see individual men as more expendable than individual women, and this difference is probably based on nature, in whose reproductive competition some men are the big losers and other men are the biggest winners. Hence it uses men for the many risky jobs it has.
Men go to extremes more than women, and this fits in well with culture using them to try out lots of different things, rewarding the winners and crushing the losers.
Culture is not about men against women. By and large, cultural progress emerged from groups of men working with and against other men. While women concentrated on the close relationships that enabled the species to survive, men created the bigger networks of shallow relationships, less necessary for survival but eventually enabling culture to flourish. The gradual creation of wealth, knowledge, and power in the men's sphere was the source of gender inequality. Men created the big social structures that comprise society, and men still are mainly responsible for this, even though we now see that women can perform perfectly well in these large systems.
Today that same market is telling rappers to please shut up. While music-industry sales have plummeted, no genre has fallen harder than rap. According to the music trade publication Billboard, rap sales have dropped 44% since 2000 and declined from 13% of all music sales to 10%.
Friday, August 17, 2007
A team of mathematicians have come forth with a startling new theory that solves both these problems. Led by Dr. Anastasios Tsonis, their model says the known cycles of the Earth's oceans -- the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, El Nino (Southern Oscillation) and the North Pacific Oscillation -- all tend to try to synchronize with each other.
The theory is based on a branch of mathematics known as Sychronized Chaos. The math predicts the degree of coupling to increase over time, causing the solution to "bifurcate," or split. Then, the synchronization vanishes. The result is a climate shift.
Eventually the cycles begin to sync up again, causing a repeating pattern of warming and cooling, along with sudden changes in the frequency and strength of El Nino events.
Better yet, their theory has predictive power. The model predicts past shifts in the year 1913 (explaining the strong warming of the 20s and 30s), 1942 (resolving the post-WW2 cooling trend) and 1978 (covering our current warming). The model predicts another shift to occur around the year 2033. Most shocking of all is their prediction for the year 2100 to be slightly cooler than present day, despite the assumption of a doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels. Eye-popping indeed.
Is carbon-dioxide really so ineffective at warming? A new study by Belgium's Royal Meteorological Institute seems to think so. Its conclusion is that, while CO2 does have some effect, that "it can never play the decisive role attributed to it" in global warming, and that its effects have been grossly overstated.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
INTRODUCING Newsweek's Aug. 13 cover story on global warming "denial," editor Jon Meacham brings up an embarrassing blast from his magazine's past: an April 1975 story about global cooling, and the coming ice age that scientists then were predicting. Meacham concedes that "those who doubt that greenhouse gases are causing significant climate change have long pointed to the 1975 Newsweek piece as an example of how wrong journalists and researchers can be." But rather than acknowledge that the skeptics may have a point, Meacham dismisses it.
"On global cooling," he writes, "there was never anything even remotely approaching the current scientific consensus that the world is growing warmer because of the emission of greenhouse gases."
Really? Newsweek took rather a different line in 1975. Then, the magazine reported that scientists were "almost unanimous" in believing that the looming Big Chill would mean a decline in food production, with some warning that "the resulting famines could be catastrophic." Moreover, it said, "the evidence in support of these predictions" -- everything from shrinking growing seasons to increased North American snow cover -- had "begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it."
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
British-born physicist Freeman Dyson has revealed three "heresies", two of which challenge the current scientific orthodoxy that anthropogenic carbon causes climate change. "The fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated," writes Dyson in his new book Many Colored Glass: Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe, published on Wednesday.
He pours scorn on "the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models".
"I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry, and the biology of fields and farms and forests," writes Dyson.
Biomass holds the key to carbon, he writes - leaving us to infer that he thinks the human contribution is negligible. Overall, Dyson issues a plea for more scientific research into the behaviour of the planet's biomass."Many of the basic processes of planetary ecology are poorly understood. They must be better understood before we can reach an accurate diagnosis of the present condition of our planet," he says.
Friday, August 10, 2007
NASA has now silently released corrected figures, and the changes are truly astounding. The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as record-breaking) moves to second place. 1921 takes third. In fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II. Anthony Watts has put the new data in chart form, along with a more detailed summary of the events.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Who is Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz? Well, he's a very wealthy and influential Saudi. Big deal, you say. Is there any other kind? Yes, but even by the standards of very wealthy and influential Saudis, this guy is plugged in: He was the personal banker to the Saudi royal family and head of the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, until he sold it to the Saudi government. He has a swanky pad in London and an Irish passport and multiple U.S. business connections, including to Thomas Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission.
I'm not saying the 9/11 Commission is a Saudi shell operation, merely making the observation that, whenever you come across a big-shot Saudi, it's considerably less than six degrees of separation between him and the most respectable pillars of the American establishment.
As to whether allegations about support for terrorism by the sheikh and his "family, businesses and charities" are "entirely and manifestly false," the Cambridge University Press is going way further than the United States or most foreign governments would. Of his bank's funding of terrorism, Sheikh Mahfouz's lawyer has said: "Like upper management at any other major banking institution, Khalid Bin Mahfouz was not, of course, aware of every wire transfer moving through the bank. Had he known of any transfers that were going to fund al-Qaida or terrorism, he would not have permitted them." Sounds reasonable enough. Except that in this instance the Mahfouz bank was wiring money to the principal Mahfouz charity, the Muwafaq (or "Blessed Relief") Foundation, which in turn transferred them to Osama bin Laden.
In October 2001, the Treasury Department named Muwafaq as "an al-Qaida front that receives funding from wealthy Saudi businessmen" and its chairman as a "specially designated global terrorist." As the Treasury concluded, "Saudi businessmen have been transferring millions of dollars to bin Laden through Blessed Relief."
Indeed, this "charity" seems to have no other purpose than to fund jihad.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Two Democrats changed their votes to ensure that the measure would fail, but then three Republicans did the same. The vote total was 215-213 in favor of the Republican motion to recommit. At that moment, Rep. Mike McNulty ( D-N.Y.), who was in the Speaker's chair, gavelled out the vote, thinking that it was a tie and the motion had failed. But he had miscounted — the motion had actually passed. The Democrats were only able to change this by cheating and changing more votes after the gavel.Although they did not do so for hours, the House clerk's office finally did put a record of the vote online this morning, with the measure failing by a vote of 216-212.
Also, as the aide quoted on The Corner earlier today points out, the Democrats used this creative vote-counting in order to preserve and expand new welfare services for illegal immigrants. Republicans don't have too many issues going for them right now, so this might be a good one to keep alive.