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Current Affairs

Good news, and/or bad news

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These are the actual AP article headlines, via Yahoo News.  Read, and enjoy:

(AP) Poll:  Americans see gloom, doom in 2007.
Six in 10 people think the U.S. will be the victim of another terrorist attack next year, more than five years after the Sept. 11 assault on New York and Washington. An identical percentage think it is likely that bad guys will unleash a biological or nuclear weapon elsewhere in the world.
. . .
The telephone poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Dec. 12-14 by Ipsos, an international polling firm. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus three percentage points.


AP Poll:  Americans optimistic for 2007.
Seventy-two percent of Americans feel good about what 2007 will bring for the country, and an even larger 89 percent are optimistic about the new year for themselves and their families, according to the poll.
. . .
The AP-AOL News poll of 1,000 adults was conducted by telephone from Dec. 12-14 by Ipsos, an international public opinion research company. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Of course, you have to dig through six paragraphs of the more positively-titled article about how bad the Iraq war is going before you come to this paragraph.  Interestingly, this story, and the immediately previous one on the list, appear to refer to the very same poll.


Today's Top 10--12/30/2006

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A new occasional feature (call it a Whip if you must):

10:  Here are your 2006 Darwin Award Winners.
(No article quote.  Follow the link.)
9:  You know those movie monsters who ominously reassemble themselves after the hero has blown them to bits?  Kind of like AT&T?
AT&T completed its $86 billion purchase of BellSouth Corp. after federal regulators cleared the way for the U.S. telephone industry's biggest takeover ever.
8:  Totten talks to Lebanese Christians.

“What do you two think of US foreign policy here?” I said.

“We love America, but have doubts,” Jack said. “They let Syria come in here in 1991 for help in Iraq.” Jack was referring to former Secretary of State James Baker, who green-lighted Syria’s invasion and overlordship in Lebanon in exchange for “help” during the first Persian Gulf War. How Hafez Assad lent any meaningful assistance in ousting Saddam Hussein from Kuwait has never been clear. Lebanese were sold to the Syrian wolf for a cheap price indeed, and Aoun constantly harps on this point to his followers.

7:  Barbara Boxer notices CAIR's terror connections.
In a highly unusual move, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California has rescinded an award to an Islamic activist in her home state because of the man’s connections to a major American Muslim organization that recently has been courted by leading political figures and even the FBI.
6:  Fourth Indiana Jones movie on the way.
Harrison Ford will once again play the lead, revisiting a character that his performance in 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark" made an icon. The 64-year-old Ford said at the inaugural Rome Film Festival in October that he was excited about the project and hoped that he was "fit to continue" to play Indiana Jones despite his age. It's tough to say what effect age will have on the story, but Lucas -- who has kept the plot under wraps -- has divulged that the latest action flick will be a "character piece.
5:  France to publish UFO archive.
According to Reuters, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) will post a database of some 1,600 UFO sightings to the Web in late January or early February. Names, however, will be redacted from the database for privacy reasons.
4:  Wall Street has best year since 2003.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 16.3% for the year, a sharp turnaround after the blue-chip index lost 0.6% in 2005.
3:  Islamists continue attacks on Israel.
Last Tuesday, the Islamic Jihad group launched at least seven Qassam rockets at Sderot in southern Israel. About 10pm the last reached its target - Adir Bassad and Matan Cohen, ninth graders aged about 14, who had no time to reach a bomb shelter.

While surgeons battled to save the children's lives and limbs, residents of Sderot felt increasingly abandoned by the Israeli Government, which continues to seek a peace agreement with the Palestinian territories while as many 60 Qassam rockets have been fired into Israel since a so-called ceasefire was agreed to on November 25.

2:  Ethiopians and Somali Government forces close in on Islamic rebels.
The Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government occupation of Mogadishu has begun. Shabelle notes that "over thousand Ethiopian troops accompanied by military vehicles" entered Mogadishu, and "hundreds of Mogadishu residents could be seen clapping and handing [wreaths] to the Ethiopian troops." In an opinion piece about how the world views the Somali conflict, SomaliNet says the welcoming of the TFG and Ethiopian forces should not be surprising. "The overwhelming feedback SomaliNet received so far tells a unique story. The majority of the feedbacks we received were pro-courts in the first days of the war. As soon as the government started winning, the mood changed into nationalism, sense of [pride] and the possibility of a long awaited national government. The public loves winners no matter which side."
1:  Saddam assumes room temperature.
As the 42-year-old Hussein coolly puffed on a cigar, names of the plotters were read out. As each name was called, secret police led them away. Some of the bewildered men cried out "long live Saddam Hussein" in a futile display of loyalty.

Twenty-two of them were executed. To make sure Iraqis got the word, Hussein videotaped the entire proceeding and distributed copies across the country. The plot claim was a lie.

"A larger war is emerging"

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So says Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) in the Washington Post:
While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States. Iraq is the most deadly battlefield on which that conflict is being fought. How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but the worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001.
Look up from the morbid body-count of how many U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq and see the world as it is, not how you wish it to be.

Via Instapundit.

Hawks meet Eagles in NYC

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Not a sports story:
NEW YORK - Pale Male, the famed red-tailed hawk of Central Park, was perched on the 22nd floor of the swank Beresford apartment building on Wednesday when the national emblem of the United States soared past, carrying a large fish in its talons.

"Pale Male usually sits there sort of relaxed, but he sat up straight when he saw the bald eagle," said Lincoln Karim, the man who made Pale Male and his mate Lola famous with his extensive photographic record of the romantic raptors raising fledglings in their high-rise aerie on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit . . .

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Flatulence blamed for starting jail fight

Sheriff Jerome Kramer said the incident was a result of overcrowding. The jail was built in 1933 and has a capacity of 23 inmates, according to 2006 standards, Kramer said. As many as 65 inmates have been lodged at the jail in recent days, he said.

"You just can't get a reprieve from one another," Kramer said. "When you've got a guy causing problems passing gas, there's no way to get away from the smell."

The report doesn't say whether the offending action was "silent but deadly" or "loud and proud."

More Facts on Farts here. I know you want to read it. Go on. Do it.

Didn't Benjamin Franklin once write a pamphlet titled "Fart Proudly?" Why yes, he did.

Re-engaging the world

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I haven't been posting much lately--ever since the November election in fact.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, I really didn't have much to say.  Second, college basketball season was starting and that always provides me with a huge distraction (and, much entertainment) during the late fall and winter months.

But, with Christmas now behind, I'm beginning to re-engage with the world, and so to post my thoughts here.

The biggest thing I notice is how little changed with the U.S. election results.  The Jihadist threat remains, although Ethiopia is in the process of demonstrating in Somalia that the Jihadists have a very, very vulnerable glass jaw, should they be opposed determined resistance.  Of course, we know this, but our problem has always been that our resistance to Jihadist fascism is anything but determined.  The laughable Iraq Study Group report is a classic example of feckless appeasement.  We shall see if it is remembered in the same breath as Chamberlain's "peace in our time" prelude to a world war.

Elsewhere, Iran and Syria continue to make trouble.  Iranian agents have been detained in Iraq, and bombs and weapons of undisputed Iranian origin are routinely found in Iraq.  Yet, no one in power is willing to call Iran to account for these acts of war.  Syria and Hezbollah continue to work to destabilize Lebanon.  So far, the world is letting them do it.

Israel continues to send stronger and stronger signals that it will not tolerate a nuclear Iran.  Nobody is listening.

Meanwhile, the scandal-ridden Democrats are set to take power in Congress.  Too bad that nobody wanted to focus on Murtha, Jefferson, Hastings, and the rest of the corrupt Democrats, being so focused as they were on sending the corrupt Republicans home.

So, maybe it's time to get back to those Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD's, House, Dr. Who, and Battlestar Galactica on TV, and those rascally Jackrabbits and oh so orange Lady Vols basketballers.  There's only so much "realism" you can take in one dose.

Mpls. Star-Tribune sold off at a loss

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McClatchy Newspapers, which bought the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis/St. Paul in 1998 for $1.2 billion, is sellng it off for $530 million.  That's 44 cents on the dollar.

That's what we normal people call a "loss."  I'd fire a financial advisor who got me into an investment that lost 66% of its value in eight years.  Wouldn't you?

Fortunately (note the irony), McClatchy still owns my home town Kansas City Star.  Oh, joy.



Spicing up Puget Sound

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I'm not sure what to think of this story:

Researchers: Baking impacts Puget Sound

SEATTLE - Researchers at the University of Washington say all that holiday baking and eating has an environmental impact -- Puget Sound is being flavored by cinnamon and vanilla. "Even something as fun as baking for the holiday season has an environmental effect," said Rick Keil, an associate professor of chemical oceanography. "When we bake and change the way we eat, it has an impact on what the environment sees. To me it shows the connectedness."

Keil and UW researcher Jacquelyn Neibauer's weekly tests of treated sewage sent into the sound from the West Point treatment plant in Magnolia showed cinnamon, vanilla and artificial vanilla levels rose between Nov. 14 and Dec. 9, with the biggest spike right after Thanksgiving.

Natural vanilla showed the largest increase, "perhaps indicative of more home baking using natural vanilla," Keil and Neibauer wrote.
Maybe it was all those vanilla and cinnamon lattes being churned out by Seattle-area Starbucks?

What about Christmas?

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Beyond all the wrapping paper and football games, beyond the food and drink, what's it about?

How about:

Humility?

Charity?

Doing unto others as you'd have them do unto you?

Hope?

Mercy?

Forgiveness?