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July 30, 2005

The President's Health

From his last exam:

-- Facts and figures about President Bush's health, from a physical examination Saturday at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Bush, 59, was born July 6, 1946:

Height: 5 feet, 11 3/4 inches.

Weight: 191.6 pounds.

Blood pressure: resting, seated 110/64 (below 120/80 is healthy).

Pulse: resting, seated 47 beats per minute (60-100 bpm is normal for adults; 40-60 bpm is normal for a well-trained athlete).

Body fat: 15.79 percent.

Cholesterol: High-density lipoprotein 56 (goal is above 40); low-density lipoprotein 100 (optimal is below 100); total cholesterol 178 (below 200 is desirable).

Overall health: "The president remains in the 'superior' fitness category for men his age." _ summary of exam.

The president was found "to be fit for duty" with "every reasonable expectation that he will remain fit for duty for the duration of his presidency." _ statement issued by his doctors.

Since his December physical, President Bush has lost a little weight and gained a few points in his cholesterol level.

His weight fell from nearly 200 pounds to 191.6 pounds, and his body fat dropped from 18.25 percent to 15.79 percent.

His overall cholesterol level went up from 170 to 178, still well below to the desirable limit of 200.

He exercises six times a week by bicycling 15 miles to 20 miles, working out on a treadmill and an elliptical trainer, performing free weight resistance training and stretching.

The report by his doctors notes, "The president has a history of activity-related injuries ... (that) do not impact his current duties."

He enjoys an occasional cigar, gets his caffeine from diet sodas and coffee, and reports no usage of alcohol.

The report also notes, "The president has not missed work due to illness since his last physical exam."

Thanks Associated Press!

Posted by Jeff at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2005

Foolish Questions, and Very Good Answers

From the press conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard and British Prime Minister Tony Blair after today's (yesterday's, depending upon where you are) attacks:

Embarrassingly stupid question: Prime Minister [Blair], you have appealed for people to stay calm, but do you feel any sense of responsibility at all for the fact that ordinary people here in London now seem to be in the frontline in the war against terror?

Prime Minister Blair (dodging the idiotic question, giving the pinhead a chance to save face): Well I think what is important is that people do stay calm and react in the way that they have reacted so far. And the very purpose of the people who are doing this type of thing, their purpose is precisely in order to make people worried and frightened and taking responsibility off the shoulders of the people who engage in these types of acts. And we have just got to remain as we have been. I think the one thing, and the Prime Minister was just saying this a moment or two ago, the one thing that has come across very clearly over the past couple of weeks has been the impact if you like that the British attitude has had on the rest of the world, where people have seen our country react to terrorist attacks that are meant to make people frightened, and worried, and scared, and react with great dignity, and great strength and great determination that it doesn't change us, it is not going to change what we do. And therefore when something like this happens again today, and as I say I can't give you the full details of it at the moment, and the police will at a later time, our reaction has got to be the same. To react in any other way I think is to engage in the game they want us to engage in.

Incredibly stupid question asked again: Do you feel in any sense that you have put people in this position, do you feel that in a sense your policies may have put people in this position?

Prime Minister Blair gives a polite answer: Well I think I have said to you before, that I feel that people who are responsible for doing these things are the people who do them.

Question: To both Prime Ministers, what was your immediate reaction on hearing that some incidents had occurred, was it here we go again? And do incidents like this, coming just 14 days after the horrific attacks, suggest that the war against terror is being lost on the streets? And yesterday an Australian bomb victim of July 7 linked the bombings to Iraq. Does that suggest that the propaganda war against terrorists is also being lost?

Prime Minister John Howard: Could I start by saying the Prime Minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it, and my first reaction was to get some more information, and I really don't want to add to what the Prime Minister has said. It is a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here. Could I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government, and indeed the policies of the British and American government on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it has given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq; and could I remind you that the 11 September occurred before the operation in Iraq; can I also remind you that the very first occasion that Bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor.

Are people, by implication, suggesting that we shouldn't have done that? When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on 7 July, they talked about British policy, not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Melo was murdered in Iraq, a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, immensely respected for his work in the United Nations, when al Queda gloated about that they referred specifically to the role that de Melo had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor. Now I don't know the mind of the terrorist, by definition you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber, I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I have cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq, and indeed all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggest to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion that at its root preaches peace and cooperation, and I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances, rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

Prime Minister Blair: I agree 100% with that.

Question: Inaudible.

Prime Minister Blair: No, I don't think so at all actually, I don't think so at all. I think that in the end though, I was asked this question I think it was at the press conference I had on Tuesday with President Karzai from Afghanistan, but the roots of this are deep. You know this is the mistake of people thinking this suddenly began in the past couple of years, the roots of this were deep, the terrorist attacks go back over 10 years. And the way of defeating it is to defeat it of course by security measures, but also by going after the ideas of these people, the ideology of these people, their arguments as well as their methods, taking them on and defeating them, and the best way of doing that is to show how the values of freedom, and tolerance, and respect for people of other religions and races is the best way to lead our lives.

But in the end what they want us to do is to turn round and say oh it is our fault. The people who are responsible for terrorist attacks are the terrorists, and this combination of this evil bankrupt ideology based on a perversion of Islam with terrorism, this is something that has built over a period of time, it will have to be dismantled over a period of time, but I have got no doubt at all that in the end the values that we represent are the values that will triumph.

And do you know why I say that, I say that because every time people in somewhere like Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Palestine, these causes that they try to pray upon, every time the ordinary people in those countries are given the chance to vote, they vote, and they actually prefer the democratic way of life too, and that is why in the end we will win.

Rock on, Blair and Howard.

Posted by Jeff at 11:05 PM | Comments (1)

July 18, 2005

A Defensive War Against Terrorism Will Ensure Terrorism

Time for Stoic Brits to Come Out Swinging (News link deleted - no longer valid.)

One way of measuring any terrorist attack is to look at whether the killers accomplished everything they set out to. On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida set out to hijack four planes and succeeded in seizing every one. Had the killers attempted to take another 30 jets between 7:30 and 9 that morning, who can doubt that they'd have maintained their pristine 100 percent success rate? Throughout the IRA's long war against the British Crown, two generations of politicians pointed out that there would always be the odd ''crack in the system'' through which the determined terrorist would slip. But on 9/11 the failure of the system was total.

Thursday, al-Qaida hit three London Underground trains and one bus. Had they broadened their attentions from the Central Zone, had they attempted to blow up 30 trains across the furthest reaches of the Tube map, from Uxbridge to Upminster, who can doubt that they too would have been successful? In other words, the scale of the carnage was constrained only by the murderers' ambition and their manpower.

The difference is that 9/11 hit out of the blue -- literally and politically; 7/7 came after four years of Her Majesty's government prioritizing terrorism and ''security'' above all else -- and the failure rate was still 100 percent. After the Madrid bombing, I was struck by a spate of "comic" security breaches in London: two Greenpeace guys shin up St. Stephen's Tower at the Palace of Westminster, a Daily Mirror reporter bluffs his way into a servant's gig at Buckingham Palace a week before Bush comes to stay; an Osama lookalike gatecrashes Prince William's birthday party. As I wrote last March: "History repeats itself: farce, farce, farce, but sooner or later tragedy is bound to kick in. The inability of the state to secure even the three highest-profile targets in the realm -- the queen, her heir, her Parliament -- should remind us that a defensive war against terrorism will ensure terrorism.''

It's just amazing to me how many people, after 9/11 and even until today, started whining about how well we're not locking our doors, then further to criticise our taking of the fight to the terrorists. The old battle cry, or, rather, fear of a battle cry, for these people is, "We (America) should be minding our own business!"

If we ever want proof that our education system is failing, that's it. Freedom is defined by unlocked doors. What makes it possible is an underlying philosophy of respecting the rights of others. The contrary philosophy, moral relativism, which tells us that there are no inherent rights (or what our Declaration of Independence calls "Unalienable Rights"), but instead proclaims there are only differing opinions of good and bad, pulls the rug out from under freedom and reduces it to a matter of "might makes right". What makes the philosophy of freedom different is the anti-thesis of "might makes right": self restraint; those who believe in freedom and the inherent moral rights which form its foundation will avoid violating those rights even if they have the power to do so and to get away with it. (As an example: what prevents me from stealing isn't the fear of getting caught, but my respect for the rights of the owner. It's also what prevents me from killing people just because they disagree with me.)

Here at home, it's important that we continue to teach, and to shore up wherever its enemies knock it down, the philosophy of freedom: respecting the unalienable rights of others (and while I'm not at all religious, I can't help but notice that the Judeao-Christian traditions are monumentally effective at this). That's our primary, and long term, preventative measure against "home grown" terrorists.

In the short term, while we have enemy forces outside of the country taking aim at us, we also must also improve the locks on our doors. But ultimately this is not an effective solution; we must also put an end to the need for these locks. In the medium term, that means taking the fight to our enemies and killing them, thus eliminating their immediate threat; but there will always be new enemies to take their places. So in the long term, the solution is to eliminate what allows them to continue to replicate, and that means eliminating their central philosophy, a philsophy which is counter to freedom and thus counter to respect for the rights of others.

In practice, the short term solution is The Patriot Act. I don't like it, and I suspect that you don't like it either. It's a locking of our doors, an elimination of freedoms here at home. But the alternative is death by terrorism. These "Patriot Acts" should certainly not be made permanent, as the current administration wants, but instead be given sunset dates so that they never become an excuse to avoid the medium and/or long term solutions.

The medium term solution, in practice, involves the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and probably more wars still. Every time that one of those who are out to get us, as they did on 9/11 and 7/7, is killed, that's one less lock that we need on our doors at home.

The long term solution, in practice, is the overthrow of the governments in Afghanistan and Iraq (and maybe more to come) to eliminate their poison apple underlying philosophies and then to replace them with freedom and democracy. Far from being an expendable solution, it's the only real solution; i.e., the only solution which has any chance of long term success. The short and medium term solutions just bide time while this long term solution takes place.

History, I believe, will judge President George W. Bush as one of the greats. He won't be forgotten, but will instead have a name recognized the world over, and recognized amicably, just as Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln are recognized. Those who recognize him as such today are in tune with the future.

Those who despise President Bush are, for the most part, not part of the problem, but instead are inertia which prevents the solution from succeeding sooner. But, as someone pointed out, the cold war was won without their help, this one will be too.

Posted by Jeff at 05:12 PM | Comments (1)

July 13, 2005

Islam Motivates Political Killings

This is the third of three articles which have just been published which I want to help to popularize today. I think that they're important and should be read by all. They help to define the problem which gave rise to the 9/11 bombings and have necessarily required us to enter the war on terror in self defense. These are no small issues. I encourage you, if you have a weblog, to make at least some kind of a post linking to these articles. Getting these articles into the consciousness of as many people as possible is important. These are not small issues. (Note.***) Here is article #3:

Suspect in Van Gogh Slaying Admits Guilt

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - The man on trial in the slaying of filmmaker Theo van Gogh admitted his guilt in court Tuesday, declaring he acted out of religious conviction and would do it again if given the chance.

Mohammed Bouyeri also turned to Van Gogh's mother, Anneke, in court and told her: "I don't feel your pain."

"I can't feel for you because I think you're a nonbeliever," he said.

...

"I did it out of conviction," Bouyeri said. "If I ever get free, I would do it again."

He glanced at notes, paused between sentences, and chose his words carefully. Some spectators rose to their feet as he spoke, visibly stunned by his comments.

"I shot to kill and to be killed. You cannot understand," he said, addressing police officers in the public gallery whom he fired upon eight months ago.

...

Van Gogh was a prominent critic of Muslim fundamentalism. The killer left a five-page note pinned to the corpse with a knife, filled with religious ramblings and threatening further attacks.

...

"The accused preaches a message of hate and violence," [lead prosecutor Frits van Straelen] said. "He preaches that anyone who thinks differently can be killed ... He is and remains a danger to our society."

...

Bouyeri, allegedly a member of a terrorist cell known as the Hofstad Network, is said to have attended private prayer sessions with a Syrian spiritual leader, Redouan al-Issar, who disappeared shortly before the Van Gogh killing.

...

Van Straelen said Tuesday there was some evidence Bouyeri had help, especially financial help, in preparing the killing, but there are no other suspects who can be shown to have directly participated.

...

Van Gogh, a distant relative of the artist Vincent van Gogh, was apparently targeted because he offended many Muslims with his 2004 short film "Submission," which told fictional stories of Muslim women who were sexually and physically abused.

This is what we're up against, here, people. This is not something that can be reasoned with - and it's a devastating blow against our values. This is a person who made a film about abuse against women which offended a Muslim. The Muslim, owing to his religion, decided that Van Gogh must die for offending a Muslim. That's the whole story, not oversimplified, but the whole big fat deal in two sentences.

Now, taken on its own, you might just think that's just one disturbed young man. But this attitude is rampant within a global community which is anti-American in nature - and has declared a jihad against us. Now take what this Muslim did and give it the context of article #1 and article #2 which I posted earlier. All of this is happening and it's who these people are and what they are about. And yet there are people protesting the war on terror. What is with these people?

Again, these three articles should be propogated around the Internet so that they can be read by as many people as possible. It is precisely this kind of article which should help a person to form a context within which to consider the war on terror.

Note: These articles are not re-printed in their entirety. I'm very mindful of copyrights (the rights to copy) - violating peoples' rights is not part of my mindset; these are merely "fair use" excerpts from the articles which I consider most important. I encourage you to read the articles in their entirety, and to spread them through your own means.

Posted by Jeff at 02:08 AM | Comments (5)

July 12, 2005

Are Islamic Jihadist's Nukes Already in the U.S.?

This is the second of three articles which have just been published which I want to help to popularize today. I think that they're important and should be read by all. They help to define the problem which gave rise to the 9/11 bombings and have necessarily required us to enter the war on terror in self defense. These are no small issues. I encourage you, if you have a weblog, to make at least some kind of a post linking to these articles. Getting these articles into the consciousness of as many people as possible is important. These are not small issues. (Note.***) Article #3 will be posted later in the day. Here is article #2:

Al Qaida Nukes Already In U.S.
Terrorists, bombs smuggled across Mexico border by MS-13 gangsters

WASHINGTON - As London recovers from the latest deadly al-Qaida attack that killed at least 50, top U.S. government officials are contemplating what they consider to be an inevitable and much bigger assault on America - one likely to kill millions, destroy the economy and fundamentally alter the course of history, reports Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

According to captured al-Qaida leaders and documents, the plan is called the "American Hiroshima" and involves the multiple detonation of nuclear weapons already smuggled into the U.S. over the Mexican border with the help of the MS-13 street gang and other organized crime groups.

Al-Qaida has obtained at least 40 nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union - including suitcase nukes, nuclear mines, artillery shells and even some missile warheads. In addition, documents captured in Afghanistan show al-Qaida had plans to assemble its own nuclear weapons with fissile material it purchased on the black market.

...

The plans for the devastating nuclear attack on the U.S. have been under development for more than a decade. It is designed as a final deadly blow of defeat to the U.S., which is seen by al-Qaida and its allies as "the Great Satan."

...

But the most disturbing news is that high level U.S. officials now believe at least some of those weapons have been smuggled into the U.S. for use in the near future in major cities as part of this "American Hiroshima" plan, according to an upcoming book, "The al-Qaida Connection: International Terrorism, Organized Crime and the Coming Apocalypse," by Paul L. Williams, a former FBI consultant.

According to Williams, former CIA Director George Tenet informed President Bush one month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that at least two suitcase nukes had reached al-Qaida operatives in the U.S.

"Each suitcase weighed between 50 and 80 kilograms (approximately 110 to 176 pounds) and contained enough fissionable plutonium and uranium to produce an explosive yield in excess of two kilotons," wrote Williams. "One suitcase bore the serial number 9999 and the Russian manufacturing date of 1988. The design of the weapons, Tenet told the president, is simple. The plutonium and uranium are kept in separate compartments that are linked to a triggering mechanism that can be activated by a clock or a call from the cell phone."

According to the author, the news sent Bush "through the roof," prompting him to order his national security team to give nuclear terrorism priority over every other threat to America.

...

Bin Laden, according to Williams, has nearly unlimited funds to spend on his nuclear terrorism plan because he has remained in control of the Afghanistan-produced heroin industry. Poppy production has greatly increased even while U.S. troops are occupying the country, he writes. Al-Qaida has developed close relations with the Albanian Mafia, which assists in the smuggling and sale of heroin throughout Europe and the U.S.

Some of that money is used to pay off the notorious MS-13 street gang between $30,000 and $50,000 for each sleeper agent smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. The sleepers are also provided with phony identification, most often bogus matricula consular ID cards indistinguishable from Mexico's official ID, now accepted in the U.S. to open bank accounts and obtain driver's licenses.

...

According to Williams' sources, thousands of al-Qaida sleeper agents have now been forward deployed into the U.S. to carry out their individual roles in the coming "American Hiroshima" plan.

Bin Laden's goal, according to the book, is to kill at least 4 million Americans, 2 million of whom must be children. Only then, bin Laden has said, would the crimes committed by America on the Arab and Muslim world be avenged.

"2 million of whom must be children"? See Article #1 for Islam's position on killing civilians.

There is virtually no doubt among intelligence analysts al-Qaida has obtained fully assembled nuclear weapons, according to Williams. The only question is how many. Estimates range between a dozen and 70. The breathtaking news is that an undetermined number of these weapons, including suitcase bombs, mines and crude tactical nuclear weapons, have already been smuggled into the U.S....

The future plan, according to captured al-Qaida agents and documents, suggests the attacks will take place simultaneously in major cities throughout the country - including New York, Boston, Washington, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.

...

I'm sure that we all just want all of this to go away. We want to go back to a time when domestic issues were our primary concern. We want to go back to...September 10th. But avoiding the problem isn't going to solve it. September 10th thinking is a recipe for disaster. The only way out is through.

Note: These articles are not re-printed in their entirety. I'm very mindful of copyrights (the rights to copy) - violating peoples' rights is not part of my mindset; these are merely "fair use" excerpts from the articles which I consider most important. I encourage you to read the articles in their entirety, and to spread them through your own means.

Posted by Jeff at 06:18 PM | Comments (23)

Islam: Killing Civilians is Okay

There are three articles which have just been published which I want to help to popularize today. I think that they're important and should be read by all. They help to define the problem which gave rise to the 9/11 bombings and have necessarily required us to enter the war on terror in self defense. These are no small issues. I encourage you, if you have a weblog, to make at least some kind of a post linking to these articles. Getting these articles into the consciousness of as many people as possible is important. These are not small issues. (Note.***) Articles #2 and #3 will be posted later in the day. Here is article #1:

Muslim Scholar: Killing civilians OK

Head of Islamic center in London responds to attack

Responding to questions about the terrorist attack on London, a Muslim scholar in the British capital asserted Islam makes no distinction between civilians and military targets.

"The term 'civilians' does not exist in Islamic religious law," said Hani Al-Siba'i, head of the Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies in London.

Al-Siba'i, in an interview with the Arab news channel al-Jazeera, elaborated, "There is no such term as 'civilians' in the modern Western sense. People are either of Dar Al-Harb or not."

Dar Al-Harb refers to the Muslim concept of the world being divided into two "houses," the House of Islam and the remaining territories, the House of War, or Dar Al-Harb.

...

"If al-Qaida indeed carried out this act, it is a great victory for it," he said. "It rubbed the noses of the world's eight most powerful countries in the mud."

...

Al-Siba'i finally said al-Qaida could not be ruled out as the perpetrator.

He asserted the terrorist organization controls the "war agenda" in Iraq and "imposes its policies" on the Middle East.

As an example, he pointed out that al-Qaida's beheading of an Egyptian envoy prompted Cairo to lower its level of representation in Baghdad.

Let me interrupt here to make a point: this sort of appeasement must never be allowed here. Spain appeased the terrorists, now they've been bombed again today - possibly by a non al Qa'eda group. Their appeasement of terrorism after last year's train attack has given new hope to terrorists and would-be terrorists everywhere. And here we see this Muslim scholar saying that these types of attacts control the middle east. Is this how you want to live your life?

...

Asked whether he considered bin Laden a religious scholar who issues fatwas or the head of al-Qaida, Siba'i said, "First of all, he is one of this (Islamic) nation. ... We have no clergy or a pope, or anything like this. Anyone can carry out his religious duty, even if he is by himself."

...

The host argued that the religious law assembly in Mecca at the end of last month issued a fatwa forbidding the killing of civilians.

"Should we follow it or Osama bin Laden?" the host asked.

Al-Siba'i said, "These assemblies resemble the assemblies of the church. These assemblies forbid young people from going to Iraq to fight the jihad. ... The Higher Religious Authority (in Saudi Arabia) are the ones who allowed the presence of Crusader forces in the Land of the Two Holy Places (Saudi Arabia)."

So this is the face of the enemy. They are your enemy because they are targetting you (article #2, later today, will give rise to just how significantly you may already be targetted; 9/11 may be a drop in the bucket). This is a defensive war. 9/11 was a modern century "Pearl Harbor".

Don't give up. Above all, don't appease.

Note: These articles are not re-printed in their entirety. I'm very mindful of copyrights (the rights to copy) - violating peoples' rights is not part of my mindset; these are merely "fair use" excerpts from the articles which I consider most important. I encourage you to read the articles in their entirety, and to spread them through your own means.

Posted by Jeff at 02:56 PM | Comments (3)

July 08, 2005

London, 7/7

Provoking honest responses:

Political Grapevine
'Terror' Ban

The BBC's website called the multiple explosions there Thursday "'terror' attacks and while the term may be perfectly appropriate, it turns out that using that word goes against company policy. The BBC instructs its reporters: "The word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term, without attribution."

In Israel, the BBC has repeatedly refrained from using "terrorism" to describe Palestinian suicide bombings. In 2001, the BBC declined to use the word "terrorism" to describe deadly attacks in Haifa and Jerusalem killing 26 Israelis, but did use the word "terror" to describe the Israeli response.

Posted by Jeff at 11:52 PM | Comments (4)

. Original Copyright, May 2004. All Rights Reserved.