Never embarrass Vladimir Putin

March 6, 2015
"I won"

“Leave no witnesses”

Because you won’t get a second chance:

Russian secret services may have executed the troops suspected of shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, say sources involved in the investigation of the crash over eastern Ukraine.

The Dutch-led probe is leaning towards a conclusion that a BUK missile fired from rebel-held territory downed the Boeing 777, killing all 298 on board.

And it is highly likely the aircraft was shot out of the sky by Russian military personnel, according to a report by the Netherlands’ state broadcaster NOS, citing anonymous sources in the police and the group of investigators working on the probe into the plane’s loss.

‘My sources believe that these people might have changed their identities or even been executed by Russian secret service in order to hide everything,’ said Dutch journalist Robert Bas.

(…)

And they’re taking “active measures” to make sure they know what the investigators know:

Sources close to the investigation also complain they are under siege from persistent attempts by Russian secret services to hack their computer system and plant spyware software on their smartphones, reported NOS.

Phones and laptops used by investigators in Ukraine had to be ‘destroyed’ subsequently because they were infected with spyware, it was claimed.

Even home communications devices of police officers on the investigation were removed because they were ‘contaminated’, it was alleged.

Well, what else would you expect from a country run by an ex-KGB colonel who thinks the fall of the USSR is the great geopolitical catastrophe of the age?

This report shows again that, to use a baseball analogy, we’re dealing with a foe who plays hardball, while our leaders aren’t even playing softball. They’re playing Tee-ball.

Only this game has no “mercy rule.”

 


Ebola: What is so hard about a travel ban?

October 16, 2014
Ebola virus

Ebola virus

Honestly, it seems like the most commonsense move in the world: If Ebola is rampant in West Africa, you bar incoming flights and passengers from that region until the disease is brought under control. After all, the disease was introduced into Houston Dallas by a man flying from West Africa. If he hadn’t been allowed in, there would be no people sick with Ebola in Houston Dallas, now.

But, that’s not how this White House operates. At a White House briefing yesterday after the President (finally) held a meeting on Ebola, press secretary the latest Mouth of Sauron, Josh Earnest, was asked about the possibility of imposing a travel ban. Here’s his response:

At today’s briefing, White House press secretary Josh Earnest was asked why it was still OK to allow flights from the three West African countries that comprise Ebola ground zero — Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone — if it was risky for [nurse Amber] Vinson to hop on a commercial flight from Ohio.

“There’s a multilayered screening protocol that’s in place to ensure that individuals that may have symptoms consistent with Ebola are not even able to board planes in West Africa,” Earnest said.

A travel ban “is not on the table at this point.”

“Shutting down travel to that area of the world would prevent the expeditious flow of personnel and equipment into the region, and the only way for us to stop this outbreak and to eliminate any risk from Ebola to the American public is to stop this outbreak at the source,” Earnest said.

“So we are mobilizing significant resources to make sure that supplies and personnel can get to the affected region and start meeting the needs of the affected region so that we can stop the outbreak there. And that’s why, right now, the travel ban is not on the table.”

There’s a word to describe Earnest’s response that begins with “bull,” but this is a family show. First, the guy from Liberia carrying the disease showed no symptoms until after arriving in Dallas Houston, thus the “multi-layered” screening process Earnest mentions probably would not have caught him. Second nurse Vinson, who had been treating the infected Liberian, had a mild fever and was allowed to fly anyway, even after reporting herself to CDC. Who’s to say similar mistakes wouldn’t be made by far less sophisticated personnel in Dakar or Monrovia?

As for interfering with needed personnel and equipment reaching the affected countries, that is utter nonsense. Any necessary planes can be given the needed clearances easily, and procedures can be put in place for quarantining crew and disinfecting equipment. What a ban would stop is a casual traveler bringing the virus back with him — just as has already happened!

This is malfeasance in office that goes beyond incompetence and verges, in my non-legal opinion, on criminal negligence. And if Chief Executive Obama won’t take the necessary executive action , then Congress should haul its collective butt back to Washington and pass legislation that does impose a ban.

Really, this shouldn’t be hard.

PS: Be sure to read the whole article. Obama’s “statement” is a marvel of bureaucratic blather, verbal “jazz hands” meant to hide the fact that he has, again, done nothing about a potential crisis.

UPDATE: Edited because I placed “patient zero” in Houston instead of Dallas. Not sure which city would be more offended.


The IRS wants to tax your frequent flyer miles and hotel points

May 27, 2014

taxes IRS shakedown

It’s as if the agency was worried it wasn’t hated enough.

Writing at Reason, Ira Stoll reports that the Internal Revenue Service is looking at taxing rewards points offered by airlines and hotel chains:

Just in time for your summer vacation, the IRS is getting ready to toughen the tax treatment on frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty reward programs.

The IRS announced in 2002 that it wouldn’t try to go after individuals for income taxes on frequent flyer miles or hotel loyalty points earned on company-paid business trips. Yet the temptation to wring some tax revenue out of the vast non-dollar economy of Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, Marriott Rewards points, American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Delta Skymiles, and so on is apparently so great that that the government just cannot resist.

Sure enough, the Tax Foundation, a research group that tracks tax issues, flags a recent post on the View From the Wing blog that runs under the provocative headline, “The IRS Looks To Be on the Verge of Imposing a Big Tax Burden on Loyalty Points.”

The IRS’s plans are vague, but they have airlines and hotel owners concerned enough about the issue that they reportedly sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. “The IRS’ proposal to alter the tax treatment of loyalty programs will impose a significant new tax on existing and future loyalty points that travel customers enjoy and rely upon,” said the letter, according to a report in Politico. “Any change or clarification of loyalty program accounting should be made through the legislative process, not IRS promulgation.”

Frequent flyer mile fanatics got a wake-up call on the issue back in 2012 when Citibank sent IRS Forms 1099, documenting “miscellaneous income,” at a rate of 2.5 cents a mile, to customers who had signed up for an American Airlines-branded credit card and gotten 40,000 AAdvantage miles as a bonus. It was an unpleasant surprise to cardholders who thought they were getting a free trip, not an unwanted extra tax bill.

I’ll say. I rarely rack up enough points for a free flight or hotel night, but I know plenty of people who fly a lot and who rely on those points to help cover the occasional vacation. Suddenly taxing them not only diminishes their value as a customer-retention tool, but also burdens the consumer by imposing a monetary cost for a non-monetary reward. (Sure, the points have “value,” but it’s not like real income. Just try paying for a meal with airline points…)

Stoll covers several problems with this plan, but I’ll add one of my own: this is another example of the gradual bureaucratic usurpation of legislative power that’s grown to be such a problem since the Progressive Era. Congress writes laws that allow regulatory agencies to create rules for their implementation, but agencies, like bureaucracies everywhere, constantly push the bounds of that authority to accumulate ever-greater power to themselves, to the point whereat they’re no longer writing rules, but actually making law in place of the elected legislature. Which, for progressive ideology, is a feature, not a bug. (1)

Although, perhaps “usurpation” is too strong a word. After all, congresses dominated by both Democrats and Republicans have gone along with this, even if they didn’t agree with progressive ideology, passing vague legislation and letting agencies “fill in the blanks.” It’s a tempting bit of laziness: as Washington accumulated more power to itself, Congress had to deal with more and more, until it became expedient to let someone else deal with the details. And it gives them political cover: It wasn’t your congressman who decided to tax your airline miles, it was the IRS. Left unsaid is how generations of congressmen and senators have enabled this.

Of the many reforms our government needs, congress reclaiming its power to make laws and reining in the bureaucracy —especially the IRS!— is high on the list.

Footnote:
(1) The basic idea is that democratically-elected legislatures are too prone to public passions, too full of unqualified people, to be trusted with governance. Progressives prefer unelected, dispassionate boards of technocrats who would practice scientific management of public affairs. They may be right about the problems of legislatures, but I think the last century has shown their solution is even worse.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


CNN’s dumbest news question, evar

March 20, 2014

And yet CNN wonders why its ratings are in the tank…

Watts Up With That?

And we thought this one was bad:  CNN talking empty head (Feyerick) asks Bill Nye if approaching Meteor was a result of global warming….

OK that set the stage, what could be dumber than that? Now study the picture below, and ask yourself, what’s wrong with this picture? Note the plane, a Boeing 777.

black_holes_777_CNN

And here is what was said: 

View original post 117 more words


(Video) The 12 Banned Items of Christmas

December 26, 2013
I said, no fun allowed!

No guacamole on the flight!

So, okay, it’s now the day after Christmas, but there’s still a lot of traveling going on, so ReasonTV has created this video guide to those things the TSA will and will not let you take along on a flight.

(Slightly R-rated)

There, that clears things up, doesn’t it? And it’s so nice to know the TSA has thought this list through so carefully.

Happy flying!


Off for the holiday

November 27, 2013
"On the road again..."

“On the road again…”

I’m off for the Thanksgiving holiday, and the loyal Public Secrets minions have been unchained from their desks through Friday, so no new items until Saturday at the earliest.

Assuming I can recapture those escaped sla… er… round up my loyal minions by then, of course.

Enjoy the holiday! smiley eating gluttony


The greatest issue facing America: a cruise-ship passengers’ bill of rights

March 18, 2013

And Chuck Schumer is on the case:

Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the cruise ship industry to adopt a “bill of rights” to guarantee passengers certain protections while aboard their ships.

The New York Democrat says Sunday he’ll be asking industry leaders to voluntarily adopt the guidelines which include guarantees that ships have sanitary conditions, back-up power, medical staff and other standard procedures.

Schumer’s plan would also include the right to a full refund if a trip is abruptly canceled due to mechanical problems.

And thus we see the modern Democratic Party’s priorities in action: no budget from the Senate in more than 1,400 days? Bah! The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran or North Korea? Don’t waste my time! Food-stamp usage at an all-time high while labor force participation is at a record low? Small potatoes, friend.

No, as we see from the senior senator from New York’s example, what really matters is grandstanding whenever possible and wherever cameras and mics are available, so that you can pretend you’re fighting for the little guy and convince enough saps to vote for you again.

This also shows the different mindset of the limited government advocates on the one hand, and the statists on the other.

Limited Government Advocate:

“A company that provides poor service will eventually put itself out of business, and those who feel harmed by it have access to the civil courts. Annoying as these incidents are, it’s really none of the federal government’s business, and we should get back to tending to what properly is.”

Statist:

“This is an outrage! People need our protection against evil corporations; the government must do something! What? They already have redress under the law? They can take their business elsewhere? Insufficient! We must pass new laws, because that’s what we’re here for — to pass laws! Not in our purview? Nonsense! We’ll pass a law to make it our business! Call a press conference!”

Is it any wonder people are disenchanted with our political class, when so many of them ignore the real problems we face and instead go chasing butterflies?

via Liberty Unyielding

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Disgraceful: UK sailor humiliated by Virgin Atlantic

March 10, 2013
"Welcome to fight for us, not welcome to fly us."

“Welcome to fight for us, not welcome to fly us.”

If this had happened in the US… Well, let just say it wouldn’t happen here:

For 15 years she has proudly served her country as a Royal Navy engineer, risking her life in Afghanistan when she fought against the Taliban.

But far from showing Nicky Howse the respect she deserved as she flew back to her latest posting, Virgin Atlantic staff chose to humiliate her – by demanding that she remove her uniform because it was ‘offensive’.

They warned the 32-year-old helicopter technician she would not be allowed to fly unless she took off her combat fatigues and wore a sleep suit instead.

Petty Officer Howse is on a three-month deployment with a helicopter unit in the US, but had been home on compassionate leave to attend her grandfather’s funeral. She had worn her uniform without any problems on a Virgin flight from America to Britain the week before.

The incident happened as she waited for her return flight to Los Angeles from Heathrow on Monday.

She was confronted by a G4S security guard and Virgin Atlantic staff, who ordered her to change into pyjamas before boarding the jet.

They told her – wrongly – that it was the company’s policy not to allow military personnel to travel in uniform.

As Petty Officer Howse herself put it:

‘To clarify, a British airline who claims to be Britain’s flag carrier won’t allow a member of Britain’s armed forces to travel on their airline in uniform.’ Armed Forces rules state that a serviceman or woman can wear their uniforms voluntarily from their ‘residence to place of duty, irrespective of whether they travel by public or private transport, or on foot.’

That’s a fine “thank you for your service,” isn’t it?

A commenter at the Daily Mail site pointed out that G4S is the same firm that couldn’t properly handle security for the recent Olympics, necessitating the deployment of the British Army. Maybe their customers should reconsider hiring the services of such a bunch of incompetents.

Virgin has admitted the error and apologized to Petty Officer Howse. They ought to comp her a couple of free flights, too, while explaining to their staff that the British military is not the enemy.

Read the rest for further examples of the ill treatment of men and women who wear the Queen’s uniform. Something is very wrong in the UK, these days.

via ST’s Hot Headlines


Forget ObamaCare. The first thing President Romney does is nuke the TSA

June 26, 2012

I’ve seen some pretty appalling stories of people who’ve been maltreated by the Transportation Security Administration, but this has got to be a topper:

Confrontation With TSA Agent Leaves Grandpa’s Ashes On Floor

John Gross, a resident of Indianapolis’ south side, was leaving Florida with the remains of his grandfather — Mario Mark Marcaletti, a Sicilian immigrant who worked for the Penn Central Railroad in central Indiana — in a tightly sealed jar marked “Human Remains.”

Gross said he didn’t think he’d have a problem, until he ran into a TSA agent at the Orlando airport.

“They opened up my bag, and I told them, ‘Please, be careful. These are my grandpa’s ashes,'” Gross told RTV6’s Norman Cox. “She picked up the jar. She opened it up.

“I was told later on that she had no right to even open it, that they could have used other devices, like an X-ray machine. So she opened it up. She used her finger and was sifting through it. And then she accidentally spilled it.”

Gross says about a quarter to a third of the contents spilled on the floor, leaving him frantically trying to gather up as much as he could while anxious passengers waited behind him.

She didn’t apologize. She started laughing. I was on my hands and knees picking up bone fragments. I couldn’t pick up all, everything that was lost. I mean, there was a long line behind me.”

First let me say I’m impressed and amazed at this man’s restraint; had my loved one’s ashes been left for the vacuum cleaner, that laughing jackass would likely be picking her teeth out of the carpet.

The rest of the article, which includes a video report, mentions that TSA rules, contrary to what Mr. Gross was told, actually do require physical inspection of human remains, including ashes. Fine. Then arrange a process whereby they can be pre-cleared and treated with respect by agents who do not make Bevis and Butthead look like geniuses.

This is something I would expect from goons straight out of Central Casting, not agents of the United States charged with protecting us with terrorism.

And it’s also illustrative of the broader problem with TSA: they’re going about their mission in all the wrong way. They’re looking for devices and weapons, not for the type of person likely to be a terrorist. They’re looking for things, not patterns of behavior. They’re pawing through human remains when they should be profiling human beings.

Like El Al does. When’s the last time an Israeli plane was hijacked? 1968. And they profile.

Let’s be honest: TSA is a failure. It doesn’t protect us, but it does succeed in humiliating us on a regular basis. Time and again.

It’s time for it to go.

via Moe Lane

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#BlogConCLT How I spent my BlogCon vacation

April 24, 2012

Early last Thursday morning (as in 1:40 AM!), I jetted off for the wilds of North Carolina for the third gathering of the Rebel Alliance conservative bloggers, videographers, and policy wonks known as “BlogCon.” This being my first visit to the state and my first face-to-face interaction with my fellow dangerous potential right-wing extremists (1), I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thought I’d have a good time. In truth, I had a great time, and the entire trip far-surpassed expectations.

I’ll break this into topics.

Effusive Thanks Department:

First of all, many thanks to Freedom Works, the Franklin Center, and the indefatigable Tabitha Hale for the offer of a scholarship that enabled me to go at all. It was absolutely unexpected and out of the blue; I had a marvelous time, learned a lot, and met some great people. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Then come equally heartfelt thanks to my blog-buddy, Sister Toldjah, who’s not only let me play in her yard for nearly two years, but graciously chauffeured me to and from the airport, introduced me to as many people as she could in spite of my shyness, and treated me to some wonderful North Carolina barbecue at R&R. (2) From beginning to end, she made sure I enjoyed my stay in her beautiful state and lovely city. Thanks, ST.

Finally, thanks and praise to the Hilton Charlotte Center City, which provided a comfortable room (all to my own), excellent service, and flawless Wi-Fi. And thank goodness the air-conditioning was adjustable. (Why do they always set it to freezing in hotel rooms?)

The Convention Itself Department:

With about 250 people, the convention was a small one (3), but very active and enthusiastic. All the presentations were held in one ballroom, with panels ranging from deep red meat (Stephen Kruiser’s rousing closing address) to matters of policy (Freedom Works head Matt Kibbe on “public choice theory.”) My favorites were the impressive rough cut from the forthcoming documentary about what’s behind the Occupy movement, narrated by the late Andrew Breitbart; “Data Visualization: Telling the Story,” which sounds incredibly dry but was very interesting as presented by Matthias Shapiro and Alex Lundry; presentations on investigative research and reporting by Lachlan Markey, Trent Seibert, Mandy Nagy, and Brandon Darby; and legal issues in blogging, such as suing and getting sued, presented by Kurt “#caring” Schlichter and James Skyles. Tons of good information.

The whole two days was worth it. You can find the whole agenda here.

The People Department:

Aside from learning handy stuff, one of the main features of a convention such as BlogCon is the chance to meet and network with people you’ve only read online. Quite often, you’d introduce yourself by your real name, but the light of recognition wouldn’t go on until you also mentioned your Twitter handle or blog. Then it was some variant of “Ah-HAH! That’s you? I love your stuff!”

There’s something to be said for being among people like you politically and not having to be careful what you say. Must’ve been how the people of Rohan felt after Wormtongue was kicked out.

In no particular order, I want to note some of the great folks I met. If I’ve left anyone out, it’s not because I didn’t enjoy our encounter, but because this post-con head cold has ravaged my brain.

Regardless, it was a high pleasure and honor to meet: Jimmie Bise, jr.; JKinLosAngeles; Amelia Hamilton; Gay Patriot; JCinQC; Gabriel Malor; Jon FleischmanTony Katz; Anthropocon; SteveEgg; Melissa Clouthier; AlwaysOnOffense; ExJon; Jim Geraghty; and Andrew Malcolm.

Disappointment Department:

Not introducing myself to Dana Loesch while we were at the post-con bowling and billiards party. She’s a one-woman conservative war band. Next time. Also, the lack of Ed Morrissey, one of my early blogging role models. The woman who was so rude as to have a loud cell phone conversation in the back of the ballroom during a presentation. Learn some manners! Finally, getting my sinuses and ears all messed up by air travel. Argh.

Sudden Unexpected Thrill Department:

Seeing the news flash on my laptop that Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had been forced into a primary, and then hearing a moment later the whoops of joy from Kristina Ribali and the Freedom Works people in the hall outside the ballroom; they had worked tirelessly to bring this about. It struck me both just how powerful the populist conservative movement can be, and how wired-in we’d become. I think we knew before the major news networks. (For the record, I think it’s time for Hatch to retire or be retired, but I don’t bear him any particular animus.)

Freudian Moment Department:

Late night Saturday night at the hotel bar after the convention closed, seeing a group of hot conservative women smoking cigars. God Bless the South.

Finally:

If you have a strong interest in grassroots conservative politics; if you have a blog, a video site, a podcast, or even just a bunch of post-its; and if you want to meet nice, friendly, and very smart like-minded people, you owe it to yourself to go at least once.

I’m looking forward to next year.

Footnotes:
(1) According to Homeland Security, at least
(2) In the infamous North Carolina BBQ sauce civil war, I tried both the tomato-based and vinegar-based sauces. Call me a fence-sitting centrist, I liked them both. I know, I know… RINO!!
(3) For comparison, I often go to GenCon in Indianapolis, which last year drew over 36,000 people.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#BlogConCLT Sporadic blogging for the next few days

April 19, 2012

Posting’s going to be sporadic here for the next few days, as I’m attending Blog Con 2012 in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina, home of NASCAR, the Carolina Panthers, real good barbecue, and the esteemed Sister Toldjah.

I’ll try to put up something (I hate dead air), hopefully photos  from the panel sessions and blogger get-togethers. I’m looking forward to meeting people I’ve only encountered online, and it’s nice to be among fellow frothing right-wingers and not have to be shy about it.

Regular service will resume next Tuesday (Sunday being devoted to travel and Monday to recovery), but, in the meantime, why not have a look at some of the fine sites in the sidebar?

But now, it’s time for a nap. Hey, my flight was a red-eye and it’s not exactly conducive to a refreshing sleep…


Here’s an idea: let’s abolish the TSA – updated

June 27, 2011

While founded with the best of intentions after 9-11, the Transportation Safety Administration has become a source of outrage for Americans rather than a reassuring sense of security. In the past we’ve seen children groped, a breast-cancer survivor forced to remove her prosthetic breast, and a bladder-cancer survivor left soaked in his own urine. I’m sure you can think of others.

This latest incident had got to be a finalist in the “Let’s humiliate innocent travelers” contest: forcing a 95-year old woman to remove her adult diaper before allowing her on the plane:

[Jean] Weber said the two were traveling June 18 from northwest Florida to Michigan, so her mother could move in with relatives before eventually going to an assisted living facility.

“My mother is very ill, she has a form of leukemia,” Weber said. “She had a blood transfusion the week before, just to bolster up her strength for this travel.”

While going through security, the 95-year-old was taken by a TSA officer into a glassed-in area, where a pat-down was performed, Weber said. An agent told Weber “they felt something suspicious on (her mother’s) leg and they couldn’t determine what it was” — leading them to take her into a private, closed room.

Soon after, Weber said, a TSA agent came out and told her that her mother’s Depend undergarment was “wet and it was firm, and they couldn’t check it thoroughly.” The mother and daughter left to find a bathroom, at the TSA officer’s request, to take off the adult diaper.

Weber said she burst into tears during the ordeal, forcing her own pat-down and other measures in accordance with TSA protocol. But she said her mother, a nurse for 65 years, “was very calm” despite being bothered by the fact that she had to go through the airport without underwear.

Eventually, Weber said she asked for her mother to be whisked away to the boarding gate without her, because their plane was scheduled to leave in two minutes and Weber was still going through security.

TSA defended itself against complaints by saying its agents were following proper procedure, and it’s true that explosives have been smuggled in underwear before, as Ed Morrissey points out. But it’s not just the lack of common sense in the application of those procedures, as Ed argues, but the procedures themselves.

TSA screening procedures focus on the device, the means of attack, rather than the attacker himself. The myriad ways al Qaeda has dreamed up to deliver the explosives to their targets (shampoo, shoes, ladies’ lingerie, breast and rectal implants) have lead the TSA to increasingly invasive and outrageous efforts to find the weapon. And with each new means of attack, our response is yet another regulation that annoys and humiliates.

Let’s face it: while these procedures are incredibly effective against little old ladies in wheelchairs and young children, they don’t seem to be all that good against potential terrorists on a dry run.

What would be much more sensible and less intrusive would be the dread “P-word:” profiling. By looking at patterns of behavior indicative of a potential terrorist, we would concentrate on the person, not the weapon, an approach the Israelis have shown to be very effective.

The Transportation Safety Administration is in need of serious reform if it is to be able to actually carry out its mission, which, the last time I checked, was to make air travel safe, not leave innocent people crying.

And if it can’t be reformed, then it should be abolished and replaced with something that can do the job.

UPDATE: Courtesy of International Liberty, here’s video of Senator Rand Paul, who’s rapidly becoming a favorite of mine, taking a TSA representative to task for these stupid search policies:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


European Union to ban cars by 2050?

March 29, 2011

In order to fight a problem that does not exist, the monster under the bed anthropogenic global warming, the European Union is pushing to ban automobiles by 2050:

The European Commission on Monday unveiled a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050.

The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.

Top of the EU’s list to cut climate change emissions is a target of “zero” for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU’s future cities.

Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.

“That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres,” he said. “Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour.”

Not surprisingly, the Association of British Drivers has had a fit at the idea, calling it “economically disastrous” and “crazy.” While they’re right, that’s never stopped Green Statists in the past. I mean, what could be more desirable to their ethanol-fueled hearts than striking a blow against climate change (ignoring that it’s a natural process they cannot control) and at the same time constraining the individual liberty –in this case, the freedom of movement– of the citizen even more? I’m sure EUrocrats all over the Continent thrilled at the very idea.

And so did the buggy whip industry.

And thus we learn the Green Movement’s motto: Forward, into the past!!

via Pirate’s Cove

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Jordan conquers Israel!!

March 23, 2011

(Click the map to enlarge.)

Well, that’s what Egypt Air would evidently have you think, since they eliminated Israel from their web site’s map:

Egypt Air, the largest airline in Egypt, has removed Israel from the map – literally. On its website, Ynet has learned, Jordan’s land reaches the Mediterranean Sea.

The airline’s subsidiary, Air Sinai, flies to Israel regularly, but customers seeking flights to Ben Gurion National Airport will have a hard time finding them. On the map are the names of the Mideast capitals – Amman, Beirut, and Damascus – but Israel is nowhere to be found.

Both Lebanon and Jordan seem to have grown immensely, but where oh where did little Israel go? I know Ahmadinejad, promised to wipe Israel from the map, but I don’t think he meant it like this.

I’m sure this has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood gaining in influence in Egypt. Nah. Not at all… .

via Big Peace


Mexico’s drug war hurts Los Angeles’ economy

January 17, 2011

Call it a spillover effect, or maybe collateral damage. For years, the Port of Los Angeles has been the jumping off point for cruises down the Mexican coast. Those days are now coming to an end, as the ships sail away for good:

The sour economy and growing drug-related violence in Mexico is having a major impact on the two largest cruise ships serving the Port of Los Angeles.

Royal Caribbean is leaving the rough waters of Southern California and Mexico after a voyage that begins Sunday.

The cruise line’s Mariner of the Seas, a 3,100-passenger vessel, will end up in its new home base of Galveston, Texas.

Norwegian Cruise Lines will pull its Norwegian Star out of port in May. The 2,348-passenger ship will end up in Tampa, Fla.

The two ships combined carried nearly half of the Port of Los Angeles’ passengers in 2009.

KABC also provides a video report.

Carnival Cruise lines is also leaving, sending its ship to Australia next year. These ships bring in roughly $1 million dollars each to the Los Angeles economy, so this is a heavy blow to an area already struggling with high unemployment and government mismanagement. The report cites a bad economy in Southern California as another reason for leaving, but, come on. Maybe passenger numbers for Mexican cruises are down because of news like this: 19 beheadings in Acapulco* this January alone — and the month’s not even over!

Small wonder these ships are leaving.

*A major cruise destination. That’ll draw the tourists.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


November’s Porkers of the Month

November 26, 2010

We have joint winners for this month’s Porker Award from Citizens Against Government Waste and Reason.TV: Senators Tom Carper (D) of Delaware and George Voinovich (R) of Ohio, who want to raise the federal gasoline tax 135% so they and their buddies can use even more of the Highway Trust Fund for purposes for which it was never intended, such as hovercrafts.

No, really:

Congratulations, gentlemen. Well done!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Did DHS hang ABC’s Brian Ross out to dry?

September 1, 2010

Following up on this story, Annie Jacobsen wonders just what is going on with the tale of the two perhaps-terrorists arrested in Amsterdam, and why ABC’s Brian Ross was made to look like a fool:

Sometime on Monday afternoon, a “law enforcement official” (which is now how DHS asks press to refer to them) gave ABC’s Brain Ross a breaking news story with an attention-grabbing quote. The two men taken off the Chicago-to-Amsterdam United Airlines flight had been charged by Dutch police with “preparation of a terrorist attack.”

As far as the DHS national security machine is concerned, it doesn’t get any more serious than that. And that quote is certainly not something a veteran newsman like Brain Ross is going to get wrong.

FBI agents were sent to Detroit to search al Soofi’s apartment. One neighbor told reporters that the front door of an apartment al Soofi once lived in appeared to have been kicked down.

All throughout the following morning, DHS and TSA officials at headquarters refused to answer questions on the record. I spoke to three TSA agents and two DHS agents, none of whom would provide me with any on-record information other than a previously released official statement describing the investigation as “ongoing.”

Suddenly, around 11:00 a.m. PST, the Department of Homeland Security provided a New York Times reporter with utterly contradictory news.

This reporter then was interviewed on National Public Radio, providing the world with an exclusive, totally different version of events. ABC’s Brian Ross had rushed to judgment, the Times reporter said, explaining that news is a competitive business and insinuating that the desire to make money had gotten in the way of good judgment (nevermind what the unnamed DHS official originally said). According to the Times, what had happened was a just a mistake, a mix-up, a confusion of sorts. It was United Airlines who had changed the mens’ itineraries in the first place — after they missed their flight to Yemen via Washington, D.C. It was United Airlines who instead re-booked the two men to Amsterdam. It was all one big misunderstanding.

Wait a minute.

The Times reporter appears to have forgotten to ask his unnamed law enforcement official, aka DHS, the most important question of all: is that really how it works over at the Department of Homeland Security these days? They make good old-fashioned mistakes, and then hang ABC’s Brian Ross out to dry?

Jacobsen then goes on to list several reasons why DHS’ story is either implausible, or it reveals gross incompetence. To name one, are we really to believe that, if the second story is correct and United caused the mix up itself, that DHS didn’t think to contact United first to find out if there was a real problem, before issuing an intercontinental alert? It’s not as if baggage errors are something new. Does the FBI always kick down doors in lost-luggage cases? (Mind you, I’ve sometimes felt like doing that myself while stuck in a baggage-claim area…)

Regardless, a good reporter was left with substantial egg on his face by a DHS pushing two different stories, and it makes one wonder even more just what was going on with the two travelers and their suspicious luggage.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


They’re still trying to kill us

August 30, 2010

I’m not sure what to make of this story, other than TSA is a bunch of boobs:

Two men taken off a Chicago-to-Amsterdam United Airlines flight in the Netherlands have been charged by Dutch police with “preparation of a terrorist attack,” U.S. law enforcement officials tell ABC News.

U.S. officials said the two appeared to be travelling with what were termed “mock bombs” in their luggage. “This was almost certainly a dry run, a test,” said one senior law enforcement official.

A spokesman for the Dutch public prosecutor, Ernst Koelman, confirmed the two men were arrested this morning and said “the investigation is ongoing.” He said the arrests were made “at the request of American authorities.”

The two were allowed to board the flight at O’Hare airport last night despite security concerns surrounding one of them, the officials said.

The men were identified as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi, of Detroit, MI, and Hezem al Murisi, the officials said. A neighbor of al Soofi told ABC News he is from Yemen.

Airport security screeners in Birmingham, Alabama first stopped al Soofi and referred him to additional screening because of what officials said was his “bulky clothing.”

In addition, officials said, al Soofi was found to be carrying $7,000 in cash and a check of his luggage found a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cell phones taped together, several watches taped together, a box cutter and three large knives. Officials said there was no indication of explosives and he and his luggage were cleared for the flight from Birmingham to Chicago O’Hare.

So, what did they need to actually stop him? An autographed photo of Osama bin Laden and travel brochures for Waziristan?

This sure sounds like another terrorist dry run, which happens more often than most people think. And it’s a healthy reminder that there is still an enemy out there seeking to get to Paradise over our corpses. But, what were they doing sending the suspicious goods one direction, while taking themselves to Amsterdam? Was the whole point to see what they could get on board, and Amsterdam was their route back to whomever they report to?  If so, part one succeeded gloriously, and TSA again makes us ask “Why on Earth are we paying you guys?”

I’ve long argued that we make a mistake by concentrating on the tools and not the people, but this Keystone Cop episode make me wonder if profiling* would do any good, given the boneheads we apparently have “guarding” our security.

*(Oooh! I used the “p-word.” That must mean I’m a racist Islamophobic hater… or something. I shall have myself reported for sensitivity training, immediately.)

LINKS: More from Hot Air.

UPDATE 8/31/2010: Dry run unlikely? Perhaps, though the bundled items still make me very suspicious, and saying the pair was allowed to continue to Amsterdam for “investigative purposes” sounds like after-the-fact CYA.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Blog holiday

August 11, 2008

I’m off on vacation until a week from tomorrow, Tuesday, and my ancient laptop doesn’t have wireless, so no blogging. Just because I’m gone, however, is no excuse not to keep up your reading: take a look at any of the fine blogs listed on the left side of this page — I’m sure you’ll find something to enjoy. So, until then, be good, and no rearranging the furniture while I’m gone!

That’s, I’m outta here! Dancing

 

Technorati tags:

I like walks on the beach…

July 12, 2008

But maybe not in North Korea:

A South Korean woman visiting Mt. Geumgang, a resort in North Korea, was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier for entering an off-limit area.

Just another day in Kim Jong-Il’s prison camp masquerading as a real nation.

(hat tip: Claudia Rosett)