Dangerous Dan Thoughts and musings on the world


CodePink Irony Alert

Filed under: Society,World — Dangerous Dan @ 4:17 pm

The good peace-loving folks at CodePink are taking a "Freedom Delegation to Cuba":

This New Year’s CODEPINK will be organizing a large group of fun-loving and freedom-loving Americans to break George Bush’s ban on travel to Cuba. Join co-founders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, together with Academy Award winning producer Paul Haggis, as we visit with farmers at their co-ops, doctors at their family clinics, dancers at the National Folklore Group, and young people at the ballpark. Don’t miss this historic chance to dance salsa, drink mojitos, and visit beautiful beaches—all while defending our constitutional rights!!!

The federal restrictions barring travel to Cuba are not only counterproductive and outmoded in this post-Cold War context, but also a violation of our constitutional freedom to travel.

Yes, they'll be exercising their "constitutional rights" to travel to whatever countries they please by going to Cuba. Leaving aside the fact that the Constitution guarantees no such right, their choice of country to demonstrate it is highly ironic. Cuba has very tight restrictions on its citizens' ability to visit other countries, and violation of these restrictions can result in the perpetrator never being able to return to the island and also in family never being allowed to leave. Punishments may even be meted out on the defector's family members in retaliation for leaving. Apparently, though, the hypocrisy of CodePink visiting a country in celebration of a "right" wholly denied to the people of that country just hasn't occurred to them.

The Bush administration says we can only travel to Cuba if we have immediate family there. Well, we do. Cubans ARE family—Somos Familia. And while we’re there, we’ll be holding a mutual adoption ceremony in order to demonstrate that family transcends political boundaries. In the ceremony, each participant will be paired with a Cuban brother or sister. After all, we are all part of one human family and there should be no artificial barriers dividing us.

The CodePink people will be meeting co-op farmers, doctors, dancers, and young people and will engage in a mutual adoption ceremony. They're fools. Complete and utter fools. They will go where Castro's regime allows them to go and will meet only those Cubans with whom Castro has arranged for them to interact. It's nothing but the worst form of political theater and propaganda for Fidel and CodePink is a willing participant in it.

I'm always amazed at how so many American liberals play the part of Castro's puppet in his PR games. If they realize the pitiful role they're playing and gleefully play it anyway, they deserve a sound thrashing. If they're ignorant of it, perhaps they need to be educated. Either way, their hatred of U.S. policy and its society, and their starry-eyed reverence of some fantastic socialist/communist utopia created through falsified statistics and carefully managed facades have blinded them to what Cuba is: a totalitarian state run by an absolute dictator. They praise American checks and balances but see no problem in hailing a man who has led his government for the past 46 years. No man in the modern world can be a president for so long without also being a tyrant. They expound of American liberties they claim are being suppressed, like freedom of the press and free speech, and then pay homage to a country that imprisons reporters and dissidents. And now they travel to Cuba to protest U.S. travel restrictions to just the island even though Cuba severely limits the ability of its own citizens to travel anywhere. Such people are fools and possibly also are either mad or colossal hypocrites. No matter their status, though, they are the ever-useful idiots and they deserve utter shame.

(link via LGF)
(submitted to Wizbang's carnival of trackbacks)

Note: Some commenters noted that the travel ban to Cuba isn't Bush's and it's been around for some 40 years. True, but I think they may be referring to the Bush administration's tightening of those restrictions last year. Still, though, the way it's put makes it seem like they're all Bush's doing which is patently false.

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Omar Simpson

Filed under: General,Media,World — Dangerous Dan @ 12:56 am

The Arab satellite network MBC has purchased the rights to air The Simpsons in Arab countries (in Arabic, of course). Homer has become Omar and Bart has turned into Badr. And it's not The Simpsons, it's Al Shamsoon. Other than the language, there will also be a few other changes. The Koran forbids references to things like bacon and beer, so those have got to go.

I know. Given those restrictions, you're probably trying to think of the one or two episodes that can still be aired. Not a problem – they'll just make minor modifications:

Homer Simpson's ubiquitous Duff beer will now be soda in the Arab version of the show.

Hot dogs will become Egyptian beef sausages, and donuts will become popular Arab cookies called "kahk." Moe's Bar has been completely written out of "Al Shamshoon."

Mmmmarrghhh… kahk. And what will become of Duff Man? I'm a little curious how they expect to get around not having Moe's Tavern since so many scenes take place there.

Fortunately, not everyone has gone mad:

With characters who are Jewish (like Krusty the Clown), Hindu (like Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu) and Christian (like the family's pastor, Rev. Lovejoy), Al Jean — "The Simpsons" executive producer — says those changes mean they aren't "The Simpsons" anymore.

"If he doesn't drink and eat bacon and generally act like a pig — which I guess is also against Islam — then it's not Homer," Jean said.

All I know is that I would pay good money to see The Simpsons spoof their portrayal as Al Shamsoon.


Honor Killings

Filed under: Society,World — Dangerous Dan @ 11:56 pm

In Denmark, a Pakistani man killed his sister in broad daylight on a city street in what he said was an honor killing. In case you aren't familiar with the custom, in some societies (most of which are Muslim) men will kill family members, who are nearly always female, in order to preserve family honor if they think the women have disgraced the family in some way. This is sometimes done for such unpardonable offenses as dating a non-Muslim, assimilating into a Western culture, or for getting raped (yes, you can dishonor your family for being raped not for raping – try and figure that one out). While this is normally confined to other countries, immigrants have been importing the practice to Western nations.

Such was the case here, although the story doesn't say what this woman's particular “offense” was. The stunning part, though, is the Pakistani community's reaction:

A so-called 'honour killing' involving a Pakistani family leads members of the immigrant community to reflect on the practice.

A Pakistani man's alleged shooting of his younger sister in a so-called 'honour killing' over the weekend has led members of the Pakistani community to discuss ways of halting the practice.

The Organisation of Pakistani Students and Academics intends to discuss the practice during an upcoming debate forum, according to the organisation's chairman Qasam Nazir.

'Many (Pakistanis, ed) are very disappointed that this problem has again appeared in contemporary Denmark,' said Nazir.

'We will try to find imams and other prominent people to get a discussion about this cultural phenomenon, which is not a religious practice in any way,' said Nazir.

How society could prevent killings committed in the name of honour would be the focus of the discussion forum.

Wow, they're going to reflect on it and discuss it. Where's the outrage?! The most they were was "shocked," which doesn't mean much. This isn't something you need to reflect on and it doesn't need any damn discussing. You condemn it in no uncertain terms, you vilify the perpetrator, you ostracize anybody who would think of doing it, you let it be known that your culture does not tolerate such a filthy practice and that it disgusts you. If the law won't be the deterrent, then the maybe the social mores will. That the community isn't openly expressing their abject abhorrence at this crime, as any reasonable society should, only leads me to believe that they don't think it's as "shocking" as they let on.

Feel free to read more about Pakistani honor killings at Amnesty International.


The Dangers of Statistics

Filed under: General,World — Dangerous Dan @ 1:24 am

British researchers found an interesting statistical corollary between the numbers of women murdered in a society and the average age of death of males in that society. The higher the female murder rate, the lower the age of male death. The conclusion? Since female murder was taken as a sign of patriarchy (not an unreasonable idea, but not concrete), sexism shortens men's lives.

"Our data suggest that oppression and exploitation harm the oppressors as well as those they oppress," researchers at the University of Liverpool concluded.

First, let me be clear that I do not tolerate any abuse of the female gender. That said, the researcher's assertion is a tad silly. It seems more like karmic retribution than anything else. The problem here is that while they apparently accounted for "socioeconomic factors," there could still be a number of other reasons that account for both the lower age of males at death and the female murder rate, or the causes could be largely unrelated save that they tend to coincide in certain cultures. It would be more productive to concentrate on countries that have the most extreme numbers and investigate possible causes for each. Merely saying there's a statistical correlation doesn't mean anything. There’s a statistical correlation between low air pressure readings on barometers and storms, but one doesn’t cause the other.

Not that the researchers aren't without a solution to their unproven problem:

They noted that the higher death rate and shorter life expectancy among men is "a preventable social condition, which can potentially be tackled through global social policy."

For example, changes can be made in the way that young males are socialized into patriarchal gender roles, such as the emphasis on risk taking, aggression and suppression of emotions, the researchers said.

Global social policy, right. That should be easy enough, I suppose. Actually, wasn't this attempted once? Imperialism, I believe, and it doesn't carry much favor in the academic circles.


United Terrorists

Filed under: World — Dangerous Dan @ 8:58 pm

This Times story says that several different insurgent groups in Iraq have merged together under al-Zarqawi. This has an obvious downside which is that it gives the terrorists greater power as now they can coordinate operations. This may have been the case with the bombs that were detonated in Baghdad yesterday that killed 152 people.

There is, however, an upshot. First is the reason the terrorist groups are banding together:

Last night the threat was being taken seriously by US and Iraqi officials, who have offered a $25 million reward for his capture. “We have got reason to believe that al-Zarqawi has now been given tactical command in the city over groups that have had to merge under him for the sake of survival,” an American intelligence officer in Baghdad told The Times yesterday.

Though you wouldn't believe it from media reports, we actually are winning the war in Iraq. Progress is slow and dangerous, but we're winning. U.S. and Iraqi forces are taking out more terrorists and the populace is increasingly coming around to our side as authority is asserted and basic needs are being provided. The fact that the insurgents keep blowing up civilians isn't helping their popularity. Although, it's mainly Sunni and Shia violence as al-Zarqawi desperately wants to foment a religious civil war in Iraq and seriously destabilize the country.

Now we see that the pressure on the terrorists is so great that groups that don't particularly like each other are joining forces just to keep from getting wiped out. The power of al-Zarqawi is thus increased and they're no longer involved in their own internecine warfare. There is a more subtle advantage in this for our side, however. The more interconnected these groups are, the more people there are who know things. Instead of lieutenants only knowing information about their own cell, they may also have information on another group. The intelligence value of each captured terrorist is increased.

And just so we don't forget who these people are:

“The enemy here did just the most horrible things you can imagine, in one case murdering a child, placing a booby trap within the child’s body and waiting for the parent to come recover the body of their child and exploding it to kill the parents,” said Colonel H R McMaster, a senior American commander in the town.

On a last, barely related note, the article also has one of the worst examples of news prose ever:

Yesterday commanders said they were in full control of the town after the insurgents melted away, but their victory appears quickly overshadowed by al-Zarqawi’s subsequent gore-splattered stamp across the very centre of Baghdad.


The Protection of Gaza Assets

Filed under: World — Dangerous Dan @ 1:30 am

Regarding my post from yesterday about the Palestinians looting and destroying former Israeli structures that could have been put to good use, it appears that some of the authorities actually would like to save the place.

Addressing the looters, Qurei added: "You won't profit from a pillar, plastic tubing or pieces of wood that you are taking. Protect them because they are yours. These greenhouses are for the Palestinian people. We don't want anyone to touch or harm anything that can be useful for our people."

But even as he spoke, hundreds of Palestinians raided the former settlement of Gadid to sift through debris. "This is a big disgrace," said policeman Raed Hijazi as he watched the looters. "They are taking everything. This they are stealing the property of the Palestinian people."


Khan Yunis Mayor Osama al-Farra toured the chaos at Neveh Dekalim and acknowledged that it wouldn't be that easy. "In the past, we complained that we could not do the work. Now we must do everything possible to develop the land, without the excuse of Israel or the settlements," he said.

An unusually candid politician, Farra had no illusions that the PA security forces would contain the curious masses streaming toward the settlements. Surveying the bulldozed buildings and the smoldering fires, Farra noted that "this place needs a lot of work."

As if punctuating his sentence, an Islamic Jihad gunman barely a car's length away aimed his AK-47 at a street lamp. Crack! He missed and fired again.
"That," Farra continued seamlessly, "is a good example. A lot of work indeed."

So there are a few sensible guys out there. Unfortunately, they didn't bother getting in and protecting potential assets before looters did… that and many of the security forces are more interested in looting themselves as well as garish grandstanding.

And whose fault is it that this looting and descruction is taking place or that Palestinians are now smuggling from Egypt?

Israel's, of course. Who else could be to blame?

PA National Security Adviser Jibril Rajoub, who participated in the talks with the Egyptians, blamed Israel for the ongoing anarchy. "Israel is responsible for the chaos at the border crossing because it withdrew in a disorganized manner and in a way that did not allow us to take control," he said.


Les Enfants Terribles Take Over Gaza

Filed under: World — Dangerous Dan @ 12:58 am

The Palestinians moved into the settlements abandoned by the Israelis and they proceeded to tear the place apart, thereby demonstrating why they don't do nearly as well as their "oppressive" neighbors. You would think that when the Israelis left behind numerous houses, apartment complexes, storefronts, and warehouses, all in good condition, that the sensible thing would be to renovate and use them. Instead, the Palestinians behaved like rotten children whose parents left them alone in the house:

The minute Israeli troops started to exit the Gaza Strip, crowds ripped into the sprawling Gush Katif settlement bloc, home to 15 of the coastal territory's 21 settlements.

Their mood was anarchic and wild as they attacked the homes of their former neighbours with zeal.

In Neve Dekalim, militants pushed aside nominal Palestinian security control and ransacked still-standing industrial warehouses.

Religious extremists Hamas and Islamic Jihad raised their flags on the community's temple and smashed windows. In another show of force, black-hooded Islamic Jihad militants toting rockets and Kalashnikovs threatened to burn the religious sanctuary to the ground Monday.

But the violence went well beyond the scope of religious extremism and militancy. The stampede into Jewish settlements touched off large-scale looting by people from all walks of life, who were reeling from poverty after five years of intifada.

Note that last part. Who started the intifada?

Many spoke of their first visit to the settlements as a chance to do one-stop shopping before the Palestinian security forces started to crack down on their escapades.

While housewives and unemployed men lugged off rubber, copper wire and sheet metal, stacked in trucks, vans, strapped on bicycles, ladders, or even donkey carts. Some men almost came to blows over who would cart away a bashed up water heater.

One man, dripping sweat, worked feverishly with an axe, ripping out metal girders from an empty warehouse. He was part of a team of three men, furiously pounding away at the building's foundation with sledgehammers and axes, oblivious to the fact the ceiling above them could collapse.

He hoped to sell the metal for 100 shekels (22 dollars) in Khan Yunis.

"It's hard when your kid asks for a shekel and you have nothing to give him. It's very hard," said 33-year-old Nasser Sifi.

"I need this money so I can feed my family."

Ah, yes, the grinding poverty. Same as the New Orleans looters. Well, if you want to excuse them, for the sake of argument, fine, but what about the folks in charge? Why didn't they prevent this sort of thing? While they allowed people to rush in and haul away the spoils of "victory," what were nice facilities that could have been used for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes and could have benefited the Palestinian economy become just more hovels in which people will wail about their plight. If the Palestinian Authority or Hamas or whoever else wants to claim power is serious about helping the Palestinian people, they should have protected and preserved those buildings so they could have been put to good use. When your entire claim to authority, however, is that you're the most anti-Israeli of them all, they only play to the worst impulses of their people. That and if the Palestinians actually were able to improve in their own right, they'd have a hard time complaining about the Israelis keeping them down. Thus, it's in the best interests of their leaders to continue their kleptocratic ways, tucking away billions of dollars of foreign aid in Swiss bank accounts while the average joe feels compelled to risk collapsing a warehouse on his head for $20.


Mubarak Wins!

Filed under: Politics,World — Dangerous Dan @ 2:41 pm

In a not-so-shocking development, Hosni Mubarak won reelection as Egypt's president after allowing other candidates on the ballot for the first time in his 24 years as de facto dictator. He got 88.6% of the vote with the next closest candidate garnering 7.3%. There was only a 23% voter turnout, however, as most people properly decided the election was a sham and didn't bother going to the polls. Given this story, it was just as well:

But hours before the polls closed, reports of campaign violations and fraud had begun filtering into Cairo. Some election observers were beaten or harassed, and voters were coerced, bribed and denied privacy to fill out their ballots, independent monitoring groups said. Results are due later this week.

Fathi Mohammed Mahalawy spent two hours Wednesday morning trying to talk his way into a polling station in the governorate of Kalubeya, where he was supposed to monitor the vote on behalf of the leading opposition candidate, Ayman Nour. By law, each of the 10 candidates could post an observer at every polling station. But a clutch of plainclothes and uniformed policemen turned Mahalawy away. He wasn't even allowed to vote.

"This election is not going to be clean; look what's happening," said Mahalawy, 62, pacing dejectedly on a dirt road outside the maternity clinic that served as a voting center. "The ruling party has cooked a meal that's only for them."

The ruling party ferried voters to the polls in public buses and bribed them with packets of food or a few dollars, the monitoring groups alleged. Some voters were forced to fill out their ballots in front of the judges, the groups said.

Some polling stations failed to open on time or lacked curtains to provide privacy for voters, said monitoring groups. Some didn't mark voters' fingers with indelible ink to keep them from voting twice. And some even lacked ballot boxes, Shahbender said.

My contention from the beginning is that it was a foregone conclusion that Mubarak would win. The real victory, though, is that he felt compelled to allow other candidates on the ballot, a concession he hasn't allowed in the previous three elections. It's a small crack in the door, but opposition groups can open it further.


Hamas Leaders Hold Up Bullseyes

Filed under: World — Dangerous Dan @ 10:52 pm

Hamas has revealed its command structure and posted the names and biographies of its top seven leaders. Israel probably already knows who these guys are, but it still doesn't strike me as a particularly good idea since, ya know, the Israelis tend to knock off terrorist leaders. Thus, when I read the following:

On its Web site, the Hamas military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, laid bare its command structure for the first time, posting names of seven top operatives, along with photos, biographies and interviews. One of the commanders said the group had more volunteers for suicide missions than he could dispatch.

I can't help but wonder if the suicide volunteers in question are the seven top operatives themselves.


Irony Alert II

Filed under: World — Dangerous Dan @ 12:17 am

Egypt is congratulating the Palestinians on reclaiming land in Gaza after the Israelis withdrew:

GAZA CITY (AFP) – A senior Egyptian envoy told the Palestinian parliament that Cairo would work "hand in hand" with the Palestinians for an end to Israel's occupation of all territory seized in 1967.

"I have the pleasure of being with you to convey the congratulations of President (Hosni) Mubarak and his commitment that we stay hand in hand with you until all Palestinian territory, in the West Bank and as well as Gaza, is liberated," Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman said on Tuesday.

Where's the irony? What the AFP article leaves out is that Israel obtained occupied Gaza and the West Bank in 1967 as a result of the Six Day War. That was a little skirmish in which several Arab countries, led by Egypt under Gamal Nasser, were about to attack Israel but then got their clocks cleaned in a surprise Israeli strike against a superior (on paper anyway) Egyptian force. So it was largely Egypt's fault that Israel conquered those territories and now the Arab country is congratulating the Palestinians on regaining land lost due to Egypt's screw-up.

Nekkid Chinese Chatting

Filed under: General,World — Dangerous Dan @ 12:00 am

From Newsday:

SHANGHAI, China — A Chinese researcher has warned of a new threat to public health and morality — naked Internet chatting. Up to 20,000 Chinese Internet users log on to chatrooms each night in which users in various states of undress talk to each other with the help of Web cams, the Shanghai Daily newspaper said Tuesday, citing China Youth Association researcher Liu Gang.

"At first, we thought if was merely a game for a few mentally abnormal people," the paper quoted Liu as saying. "But as our research continued, we found the problem was much larger than expected," Liu said.

You'd think the Chi-coms would be pleased. After all, it's unlikely these folks are using the internet to plot revolution… as no all-naturist country comes to mind, I don't think there's ever been a successful nudist rebellion. Also, just 20,000 people? That's approximately 0.002% of the country's population.


Dollar vs. Euro

Filed under: Media,Pics,Politics,World — Dangerous Dan @ 12:27 am

Does anybody remember all the fretting late last year and earlier this year about the weak U.S. dollar as compared to the euro? The euro was up to around $1.35 and there was all this doom and gloom in the media and about the political implications. You might be wondering why you haven't heard anything about it lately? This might be why:

money graph

The dollar's been steadily rising against the euro this year. For some reason, the improving prospects of the greenback have escaped the media's attention. During the original "crisis," they also tended to omit how the euro is heavily propped up by the EU, that the single currency has been very bad for several member economies, and how there's been some vague mumblings among some to withdraw from the monetary unit. I'm no economics expert, but I think that long-term, the long-established currency of the world's largest economy is a better bet than the new one created when 12 disparate economies got mashed together.


Terrorist Demolitions

Filed under: World — Dangerous Dan @ 10:41 pm

(warning: there be satire ahead)

As I was reading this news story about a fan getting the opportunity to blow up Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the solution to the War on Terror occurred to me. You see, terrorists like to blow things up. It just so happens that we here in America often have things that need blowing up. So why not just combine the two and meet each other halfway? The current disconnect is that they want to blow up things we'd prefer stay intact. What if we just offer them the chance to detonate explosives on buildings we need torn down anyway? It's a win-win. The structure gets demolished and then they can play it up on their internet sites, with video, of course, as a big victory against the Great Satan as they ripped down some imperialist building. They can even make false claims of many dead. It could work.


Filed under: Politics,World — Dangerous Dan @ 4:26 pm

Could somebody kindly explain to me why Pat Robertson's idiot endorsement of assasinating Hugo Chavez is all over the news? It's currently CNN.com's lead story, it's a lead story on FoxNews.com and elsewhere. The White House disavowed his comments. I simply don't see why Robertson, who is not a government official and does not speak for the government, is getting so much attention. Sure, what he said is newsworthy as he is a prominent televangelist and calling for assasinations isn't particularly Christian, but it doesn't deserve the attention it's getting. Slow news day or is the media just playing it up?

One thing is for certain – this will play into Chavez's public paranoia and he'll use it as an excuse to further consolidate control over Venezuela.


Beijing Olympics Logo

Filed under: General,Pics,World — Dangerous Dan @ 10:39 pm


the tank dodge event

(image via Maoman on Flickr)

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