Distance can give a clear perspective

Thanks to Danny Lemieux, I got to read a beautifully written, funny, absolutely on-point article from a Brit analyzing Hillary’s candidacy:

Only a few days have passed since Hillary Clinton announced she is running for president, but already it is clear that much forbearance will be required from us all in the long months ahead. This is not just because Mrs Clinton has started wearing ominous pastels and smiling a lot, or appeared to enjoy a joke apparently about her husband’s sexcapades in the White House

New York Times — tasteless reporting maverick

The Houston Chronicle has a story about a Texas’ families outrage over the fact that the New York Times used a picture of their son dying on Haifa street to spice up a story:

A photograph and videotape of a Texas soldier dying in Iraq published by the New York Times have triggered anger from his relatives and Army colleagues and revived a long-standing debate about which images of war are proper to show.

The journalists involved, Times reporter Damien Cave and Getty Images photographer Robert Nickelsberg, working for the Times, had their status as so-called embedded journalists suspended Tuesday by the Army corps in Baghdad, military officials said, because they violated a signed agreement not to publish photos or video of any wounded soldiers without official consent.

New York Times foreign editor Susan Chira said Tuesday night that the newspaper initially did not contact the family of Army Staff Sgt. Hector Leija about the images because of a specific request from the Army to avoid such a direct contact.

“The Times is extremely sensitive to the loss suffered by families when loved ones are killed in Iraq,” Chira said. “We have tried to write about the inevitable loss with extreme compassion.”

She said that after the newspaper account, with a photograph of the soldier, was published Monday, a Times reporter in Baghdad made indirect efforts to tell the family of the video release later that day. The video was still available for viewing on the Times’ Web site Tuesday night, when the newspaper notified clients of its photo service that the photograph at issue was no longer available and should be eliminated from any archives. (Emphasis mine.)

Since Matthew Brady’s famed Civil War photographs, there’s been a debate about newspapers using images of America’s own dead soldiers to tell a story. This is the first time that I know of, though, where a major American news organization has used video footage of a soldier actually dying.

Incidentally, there is a school of thought that says we shouldn’t make war antiseptic, like packaged meat in the market, but that we should make people on the home front vividly aware of the blood and carnage that is real warfare. The anti-War view has it that this will “turn-off” the public from War, since we have little stomach for finding out what really happens behind bloodless reports. The other view is that, as Americans showed with 9/11, these images, rather than making us passive, make us angry, help us to recognize our troops’s sacrifices, and increase our willingness to fight.

Regardless of whether you incline to either, or neither view, however, the NY Times showed exceptional bad taste in using this footage without the family’s consent — and stupidity in doing so without negotiating a deal first with the Army.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has picked up this story.

UPDATE II:

The internet’s power

If any of you bloggers are getting disheartened, don’t. The internet does matter, even if gains are slow and grudging. Case in point: the bombed out mosques in Baghdad.

The story began in November when the AP reported that Shiite fights had destroyed four Sunni mosques in Baghdad and burned six men alive. Curt, at Flopping Aces, looked at the story with a jaundiced eye, asked some questions, and opened a huge Pandora’s box of journalistic malfeasance, with AP right in the middle of it all.

Now, after much blogging on the subject, after Michelle Malkin went to Iraq to check it out, and after the Confederate Yankee fired off a letter to the AP Board of Directors, the AP is grudgingly, gracelessly, half-heartedly backing down, although it’s still trying very hard to spin a major story where it’s apparent that none exists:

Four Sunni mosques attacked in late November in the embattled Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad still bear scars from the attacks and all are now either under Shiite Muslim control or closed.

Immediately after the Nov. 24 incidents, an Associated Press story quoted an Iraqi police captain saying the four mosques had been attacked and six men doused with fuel and burned alive at one of them. In some early versions of the AP story, which was updated several times as more information became available, the police officer referred to the mosques being burned or blown up.

The report was challenged a day later, when a U.S. military spokesman said it could only confirm an attack on one mosque.

Since then, the AP has confirmed damage at three of the four mosques, including burn damage at two and slight damage at a third.

Today, all four mosques are either clearly under the control of Shiites or closed and nonfunctioning, guarded by Iraqi army troops. The Iraqi army increased its presence in Hurriyah after the November attacks, which drove many Sunnis out of the neighborhood and put it firmly under Shiite control.

The loss of the Sunni mosques is a powerful symbol of how the formerly mixed neighborhood has changed to one where only Shiites are welcome.

You can read the rest of AP’s spin and retrofitting here.

I know that sometimes conservative members of the blogosphere get frustrated with the reach the MSM has. That is, even though there isn’t a vast Left wing conspiracy (a belief that would put us on the same level as Billary), the fact remains that MSM reporters have a tone and worldview that leans left, and they have the world’s biggest bully pulpit. I know that I often feel like Dame Partington, about whom the wonderful Rev. Sydney Smith (1771-1845) wrote:

In the midst of this sublime and terrible storm [at Sidmouth], Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the door of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her mop, squeezing out the sea-water, and vigorously pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused; Mrs. Partington’s spirit was up. But I need not tell you that the contest was unequal; the Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington.

What keeps me going is that I’m not a lone figure with a mop. I’m part of Glenn Reynold’s “ Army of Davids.” Even if I fall back temporarily from fatigue, or miss something altogether, there’s someone else (and usually someone with greater insight, more accurate information, and a bigger audience) to take up the standard.

UPDATE: Here’s Michelle Malkin’s post explaining all the spin still existing in the story. Obviously, the AP is never going to cave in on this one, because to do so would admit how deep the institutional rot runs. Nevertheless, I thinks it’s a stellar blogosphere victory that they conceded, however obliquely and grudgingly, that their first report was just plain wrong.

UPDATE II:

Giving credit where credit is due

In the long ago past, Jews were accused of heinous acts such as kidnapping Christian children and using their blood to make matzoh, or of poisoning wells, accusations that existed entirely separate from actual fact. That is, there was never any evidence that Jews actually engaged in these heinous acts. These accusation were the original blood libels: false charges intended to demonize an otherwise innocent group. In the Nazi era, the blood libels shifted. The Christian angle vanished with Jews instead accused of defiling innocent German maidenhood, and a Marxist element entered with Jews accused of controlling world finances (which, of course, explains why the Nazis felt impelled to slaughter millions of the world’s poorest citizens — Polish ghetto dwellers). Jews are still routinely accused of controlling things to the world’s detriment, and the blood libels and financial libels are alive and horribly well in the Muslim Middle East.

Jews, understandably, have always resented these libels, and modern Jews are not shy about speaking out vociferously against them. Modern Muslims, led by CAIR, like to speak out against calumnies against them as well. The latest Muslim anger is against a Canadian town that took steps to remind its Muslim immigrants that some behaviors will not be accepted in that town (h/t Captain’s Quarters):

Don’t stone women to death, burn them or circumcise them, immigrants wishing to live in the town of Herouxville in Quebec, Canada, have been told.

The rules come in a new town council declaration on culture that Muslims have branded shocking and insulting.

***

Herouxville, which has one immigrant family in its population of about 1,300, is 160km (100 miles) north-east of Montreal.

Its council published the new rules on the town’s website.

“We wish to inform these new arrivals that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here,” the declaration reads.

“We consider it completely outside norms to… kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them etc.”

It points out that women are allowed to drive, vote, dance and own their own homes.

***

However, the president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, Salam Elmenyawi, condemned the council, saying it had set back race relations decades.

He told Reuters news agency: “I was shocked and insulted to see these kinds of false stereotypes and ignorance about Islam and our religion.” (Emphasis mine.)

It’s almost certain that Mr. Elmenyawi himself has never stoned a woman, burned her alive, or otherwise engaged in behavior that Westerners consider anti-social and even, maybe, misogynistic. Indeed, he may not even approve of those acts. However, unlike the Jews who could credibly deny using blood for Passover matzoh (it’s not even kosher), Mr. Elmenyawi is on thinner ice when he professes to be shocked, just shocked that a town would dare to use against Muslims “false stereotypes” about female circumcision, stoning, etc. Maybe he needs a little reminder of some recent events:

It’s appropriate to be shocked and offended when you’re accused of something you manifestly haven’t done. It’s a bit more disingenuous to strike that pose when there’s credible evidence that you (or your culture, I guess I should say) routinely engages in the alleged conduct. Perhaps rather than hollering at the top of his lungs that he’s deeply offended about the suggestion that his people engage in acts in which they, in fact, manifestly engage, Mr. Elmenyawi, if he does indeed find these acts offensive, should set his own house in order.

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The Indian Ocean

What? The Indian Ocean?! What’s that all about? It’s about the fact that, if I were to start digging a hole in my backyard and dig all the way through the earth out out to the other side, that’s where I’d end up: in the Indian Ocean, at a point about 1/3 of the way between the Southernmost tip of Africa and Australia (closer to Africa). And how do I know this? Because of a very cool website.

Hat tip: PalmTree Pundit, who learned about it from Brandywine Books

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White liberal women again unclear on the concept

The Museum of Modern Art hosted a symposium about feminist art. The story covering the symposium noted that the only time these feminist artists contemplated Islam they did so, not to discuss how their art could be used to help Islamic women break free from their invisibility and from the abuse heaped upon them, but to attack the Iraq War. Of course, considering what passes for art amongst the political chattering classes, maybe it’s a good thing that they’re not striving to help these poor women. Their efforts, which would probably involve effigies of mullahs soaked in urine, might backfire.

UPDATE:

Being handicapped is not obstacle

One San Francisco man learned that, even if being handicapped did not prevent him from pursuing his career of choice, perhaps he chose the wrong career:

A San Francisco man who is paraplegic was convicted Friday of two counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery in thefts he conducted from the seat of his SUV in the Richmond District over two months in 2005.

Cuong Vinh Tran, 35, was found guilty by a jury that deliberated a day-and-a-half and also acquitted him on one count of robbery, the San Francisco district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Tran, who uses a wheelchair, robbed one victim of $160 and another of $500 and a necklace valued at $1,000, spokeswoman Bilen Mesfin said.

“According to the charges, the defendant would swoop up on the victims in his van, who were all on foot. Swearing at them in Cantonese, he would act like he had a gun under his sweatshirt,” Mesfin said in a written statement. “His defense included an alibi witness, which the jury did not believe.”

The victims didn’t know Tran uses a wheelchair because he remained in the SUV during the robberies, Mesfin said. He will be sentenced after a trial relating to two prior robbery allegations concludes, possibly Wednesday, Mesfin said.

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It may be a drought, but we’re not panicking yet

In the late 1970s, California experienced a drought severe enough to require water rationing. I found that a very traumatizing experience, perhaps because it reminded me that, no matter how sophisticated we become, we are nothing without water. Now, as California faces its 5th driest January since 1850, I’m starting to get my drought fear back again:

This season’s scant rainfall doesn’t yet mean we’re in a drought — but it’s starting to feel that way. San Francisco is on track to post its fifth-driest January since 1850.

So far, San Francisco has recorded only 0.65 inches of rain compared to a normal rainfall of 4.72 inches. The city’s driest January on record was in 1926 when only 0.26 inches of rain fell.

And California as a whole is just as parched. Most crucially, the Sierra snowpack — which provides Californians with most of their drinking and irrigation water — has only 45 to 60 percent of its normal water content, depending on location. And it’s not improving.

“The snowpack is declining,” said Dan Gudgel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Every day that goes by with no precipitation puts us further behind with less prospect of catching up.”

That’s because California typically gets most of its precipitation in January, February and March, Gudgel said. Worse, no significant storms are headed this way.

“Nothing is coming for at least the next week,” he said. “We’re heading into a dry February.”

The same article says our reservoirs are still in good shape, so I’m not panicking, but this has the potential to be very depressing and demoralizing. I also just happen to like rain. That is, I love rainy days, and I miss them.

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They’ve finally admitted it

A trope on the Left is that, if Israel will just give the Palestinians back their land, glorious peace will instantly descend upon the entire Middle East, whether in the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Iran. All of those nations are convulsing, runs this trope, not because they are backwards dictatorships, whether the dictators use religion (Iran or Saudi Arabia, for example), or just old fashioned terror tactics (Egypt and Syria, for examples) against their citizens.

I fall into the group of people that has said for years that even if Israel were to vanish from the face of the earth (something Ahmadinijad seems to be working on), nothing would change in these Muslim, Middle Eastern nations. This is so becase the leaders in these countries use Israel to keep their uneducated masses from noticing that they are being fiercely abused by their leaders. It’s the strong anti-Democratic tendencies in these countries, not Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians, that have kept Arab (and Persian) Muslims chained to the mud.

I was therefore entirely unsurprised when, after Israel yielded to Leftist and Muslim importuning and violence, a new dawn of peace did not instantly break. Instead, the Palestinians turned on each other with a vengeance. Meanwhile, the Leftists and Muslim world continued to castigate Israel as if she hadn’t done just what everyone insisted was a necessary precondition to the instant creation of a new Utopian Middle East.

What staggered me today was something I read in the AP story about the horrible bakery bombing in Eilat yesterday. The two factions claiming responsibility for the bombing explicitly admitted that they murdered innocents solely to return Israel to her scapegoat status in the hope that this would take the Palestinians’ mind off of their own internecine warfare:

A Palestinian suicide bomber killed three Israelis at a bakery Monday in the first such attack inside the country in nine months, and the two radical groups that claimed to have sent him said they were trying to end weeks of Palestinian infighting by taking aim at
Israel instead.

***

Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed joint responsibility. Both militant groups said they hoped to encourage warring Palestinian factions to end weeks of clashes.

“The operation has a clear message to the Palestinian rivals. It is necessary to end the infighting and point the guns toward the occupation that has hurt the Palestinian people,” a posting on the Islamic Jihad Web site said.

Early Tuesday, officials from the rival
Fatah and Hamas movements announced a new cease-fire. Negotiated by the two sides with Egyptian mediators at a midnight meeting, the agreement was supposed to end bloodshed that has left over 60 Palestinians dead since early December.

But fighting continued in downtown Gaza after the truce was supposed to have taken effect. Several earlier truce agreements have broken down.

I think this must be the first explicit admission from the Muslim world that a primary purpose of fighting Israel is to keep Muslims from fighting each other. And there’s no question but that part of this Arab/Persian need to fight each other arises because the myriad strictures of the Muslim world, whether arising from religion or old-fashioned despotism, have created a very small economic pie indeed. There’s definitely not enough to go around, and the leaders of those countries know that they need an emotionally resonant target to distract the people from their grinding poverty and oppression.

UPDATE:

Covert anti-military operatives.

It’s becoming apparent that there is a new anti-War tactic coming out, and it’s using the military as the base for operations. More and more, people with long-standing anti-War agendas have enlisted in the military after the Iraq War began with the apparent purpose of gnawing away at the military from the inside — especially with the help of that ever useful shill, the American media. I’d first heard about this tactic this in connection with Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada, a cause celebre amongst the anti-War crowd, because he’s being court-martialed for refusing to serve in the Iraq War.

Watada is not your garden-variety conscientious objector. Traditionally, COs were unwilling draftees who were going around living their ordinary lives when the government’s long arm swept them into war. Many had strong religious ties to religions, such as the Quakers, that had long-standing oppositions to serving in war. Beginning in WWI, significant numbers of COs and anti-War agitators were socialists, who envisioned a brotherhood of workers being forced to wage war against each other by capitalists and imperalistic regimes.

Watada doesn’t fall into either of these categories. To begin with, he is not an unwilling draftee. Instead, he is an officer who willingly joined the military after the war began, and underwent training while the war was going on. In other words, he knew what he was getting into and where he’d end up. Given these facts, his only reason to have joined can have been to get a platform from which to broadcast his resistance to the War, something he couldn’t do if he were just your ordinary anti-War activist. It’s just so much more exciting and photogenic when you’re a military anti-War activist. (Watada is still getting air time on reliably liberal forums.)

Not only is Watada a new breed of conscientious objector — someone who joins the military, intending to desert so as to make a loud political statement — he’s also not alone. At the Mudville Gazette, Greyhawk has a long post discussing Jonathan Hutto, who seems to have done precisely the same thing. Hutto was a socialist and a very visible anti-War activist who, in 2004, suddenly decided to enlist in the Navy. His service was apparently exemplary but he used his time in the Navy to gather data about discrimination against African-Americans. From there, he went on, while still in the Navy, to design an anti-War web page, much touted by the usual cast of anti-War activists as a, yes, you guessed it “military anti-War website.” Again, the “military” aspect garnered more media attention than any run-of-the-mill anti-War protest could have.

Americans have always had a warm spot in their hearts for genuine COs who played by the rules. They did not join the military but, if they were drafted, they made a formal declaration of their unwillingness to serve, with their time in jail the necessary martyrdom to garner public interest and, perhaps, change hearts and minds. Some, like the famous socialist Eugene V. Debs were too old to be drafted, but spoke out so vociferously against the way that they ended up jailed for treason. Although the American public was not very sympathetic, his was certainly a newsworthy sacrifice, of a type that can’t be replicated nowadays.

This new breed of CO, however, is a fox in the henhouse, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Knowing his opposition to the war, he nevertheless signs up, takes the military’s money (or, rather, your and my tax dollars), takes military training and then, at the last possible moment, sets up a hootin’ and a hollerin’ that catches the press’ fickle eye. He’s not an innocent swept up in the military draft net. Instead, he’s someone who intentionally places himself in the middle of the game, only to cry foul. It’s sneaky, it’s dishonorable, and it’s a story that deserves to be told so that those who listen to these new COs can fully unerstand how they are manipulating the system to gain maximum attention for their anti-War position.

Hat tip: Webloggin

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Quick picks

Burt Prelutsky explains that the hysteria about oil prices is nothing more than that — hysteria.

While the NY Times gives us a relaxed (indeed) enjoyable short little history about Sundance’s growth, Brent Bozell reminds us just how sleazy the Sundance product is.

Gay partners with children are attending workshops to learn how to communicate better with the world at large. Meanwhile, in England, just as in Boston, the Catholic Church will not be allowed to prevent gay adoptions. By the way, I don’t have too much of a dog in this fight. I think it’s better for a child to be with a loving heterosexual couple than with a loving gay couple, both because I prefer the former model of sexuality and because (as is a major concern for gay parents attending those workshops), children are cruel to other children, especially those raised differently. In other words, children of gay couples are targets, and that’s never optimal. Having said that, though, I think a stable, loving homosexual couple is much better for a child than bouncing through foster care or being in an unloving or abusive heterosexual household. I therefore just offer these news snippets, not to make some larger point about gay parenting, but because they are signs of larger social changes we’re all watching.

John Fund gives a Sandy Berger update — and that’s a good thing too, with the media all busy misreporting the Libby trial.

Confederate Yankee also has an update, this one about his attempts to get the AP to address the myriad problems with the Jamil Hussein story — and it’s looking as if the steady blogosphere drip, drip, drip is working to get AP, if not to admit it’s wrong, but at least to back off (somewhat sneakily) from its untruths and misleading statements.

Anne Bayefsky, who is the best UN watcher there is, exposes the hollowness hidden by the UN’s ostensible focus on the Holocaust, something that is especially important now, given Iran’s increasingly bold threats to annihilate Israel. Basically, as Bayefsky shows, the UN’s actual role when it comes to modern Holocausts is to ignore their buildup and then to wring its institutional hands ineffectually while the Holocausts take place. With regard to Israel, which has been the object of more malevolent UN scrutiny and censure than any other nation in the history of the UN, I ascribe more than mere institutional inertia or uselessness when it comes to stopping the ongoing threat to her existence. The UN, guided by its oil-rich Arab and Persian nations, as well as its residual Marxist factions, would be happy to see Israel terminated.

And now I really, really have some paying work to do.

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I’m proud to announce

I’ve been invited to join the Watcher’s Council, at Watcher of Weasels! I’ll be joining an august company, since the following thoughtful, erudite and interesting bloggers are already members:

Watcher of Weasels
The Sundries Shack
The Education Wonks
Right Wing Nut House
The Glittering Eye
Rhymes With Right
Done With Mirrors
Joshuapundit
Soccer Dad
American Future
The Colossus of Rhodey
Eternity Road

Needless to say, I’m feeling both smug and intimidated. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll update my sidebar soon and I’ll keep you apprised of Watcher activity.

I’d love to blog more today — and there are so many things I want to blog about — but I’ve got to run. I spent the morning tidying so that the cleaning ladies can do the heavy work (scrubbing, dusting and vacuuming), and I’ve now got to run off to meet with DQ about a legal project we’re working on together. Blogging will resume this afternoon or this evening.

Australia joins the victim cult

While we were all delighting in the tough stance the Australian government has taken towards terrorism, it seems that Australian TV has fallen into the same swamp as American TV, which insists that all people who can claim victimhood must be heard, their complaints taken seriously, and the rest of us made to feel very, very sorry for them. Ron, writing from Down Under, tells how the Australian media covered the story of a Muslim resident who brokered stolen arms from the Australian military to terrorist cells. It’s a sleazy little story about a big crime, made worse by the media’s inability to recognize that it’s the Australian people, not the criminal and his wife, who are the victims here.

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Something that goes beyond satire

When I first read the following story at Rhymes with Right, I thought it was a satire. Even though Greg quoted extensively from the news report, I still thought Scrappleface was somehow involved. But no, this is the real news:

Anti-war protesters were allowed to spray paint on part of the west front steps of the United States Capitol building after police were ordered to break their security line by their leadership, two sources told The Hill.

According to the sources, police officers were livid when they were told to fall back by U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Chief Phillip Morse and Deputy Chief Daniel Nichols. “They were the commanders on the scene,” one source said,who requested anonymity. “It was disgusting.”

After police ceded the stairs, located on the lower west front of the Capitol, the building was locked down, the source added.

A second source who witnessed the incident said that the police had the crowd stopped at Third Street, but were told to bring the police line in front of the Capitol.

Approximately 300 protesters were allowed to take the steps and began to spray paint “anarchist symbols” and phrase such as “Our capitol building” and “you can

Cause, effect, cause, effect, cause, effect

Everybody enjoys a good laugh when they read some version of what Robert Godwin calls “the perennially clueless New York Times, which often publishes variations on the theme of “Crime Down Despite Increase in Prison Population.” That is, we enjoy the fact that the NYTs, and other liberal publications, seem blind to the fact that crime might be done, not in spite of, but because of, the fact that more bad guys are in prison. I just got a glimpse of another one of those liberal disconnects, where a liberal makes a statement oblivious to the fact that his premise might be, just might be flawed.

I was reading Jack’s News Snipet ‘Blog, which headed me over to a news story about increased gun crime in England, and cries that Labour is responsible — or rather, not in control, and therefore irresponsible. The crime numbers are impressive:

Labour has been accused of losing control of gun crime as new figures show a sharp rise in armed robberies.

Guns were used in 4,120 robberies last year – a 10% jump – including a 9% rise to 1,439 in the number of street robberies where guns were used.

There was also a rapid and unexplained increase in the number of times householders were confronted in their own homes by armed criminals. Residential firearms robberies show a 46% leap, a record 645 cases in England and Wales – up 204 on the previous year and four times the level recorded in 2000-01.

It’s the last paragraph in this story that has the money quote, the kind of statement that should have someone in government scratching his or her head and saying, “Wait, maybe there’s a connection.” Here:

Home Office minister Tony McNulty said: “Firearm offences have fallen significantly, by 14% in the year up to September 2006, which amounts to 1,642 fewer incidents.

“While there is a small rise in residential firearm robberies, these account for a tiny proportion of recorded offences overall, although we recognise any firearm incident is traumatic for victims.” He added: “We have some of the toughest firearm legislation in Europe.” (Emphasis mine.)

I’m not saying there’s a connection, but there might be. Especially since studies do show that violent home break-ins in London increased immediately after the City outlawed guns entirely. (You can read Mark Steyn’s analysis of that situation here.) The same thing happened in Washington, D.C., so you have an “n” of at least 2 from which to draw your conclusions.

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A tale of two countries

These are two of today’s headlines, one about Israel, a Jewish country; and one about Yemen, a Muslim country. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. First, from Israel:

The Israel government has voted to appoint an Arab Muslim to the cabinet – for the first time in the history of the Jewish state.

Raleb Majadele from the Labour Party will be minister without portfolio.

Mr Majadele, aged 53, said his appointment would give Israeli Arabs a sense of belonging.

Labour Party leader Amir Peretz said it was an historic step towards equality for Israeli Arabs, who make up about 20% of Israel’s population.

All Israeli cabinet ministers – except for the ultra-nationalist Minister of Strategic Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman – voted in favour of Mr Majadele’s appointment.

And second, from Yemen:

Forty-five Jewish people in Yemen have taken refuge in a hotel in northern Yemen after receiving death threats from Muslim extremists.

The group fled their village 10 days ago when they were confronted by masked radical Islamist gunmen.

The minority community has followed a traditional way of life in the village of Salem for centuries.

But, earlier this month, the Salem Jews received a letter accusing them of spreading vice and corruption.

The message was clear – the Jews must leave the country or lose their lives.

UPDATE: Writing at Seraphic Secret, Robert Avrech explains everything you need to know about those poor Yemeni Jews, about the fact that the Arab world has achieved the Nazi dream of being Jew free, and about the liberal response to this ethnic purge. It’s sad, important reading.

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Mitt Romney

I like Mitt Romney. I like his ability to get things done and his presence. I agree with many, if not most of his viewpoints. I hope that his Mormonism does not get in the way of people evaluating the man and his policies. After all, he’s not inviting us to join his faith; we, however, would be inviting him to lead our country. As to the latter, Joel Mowbray, writing from Israel where Romney gave a speech, believes that Romney, out of all the candidates gets it, when it comes to the jihad being waged against the West and to Israel’s role as the front line in this much larger war. If you have an interest in seeing the 2008 election give rise to intelligent and real discussions about the effect jihad has on America and what America should do about it, do not discount the importance of a Romney candidacy.

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