Saturday, March 16, 2013

If the "Costs of the War" Study Proves Anything, It Is That the Left's Numbers of Iraqi Dead Through the Years Were Highly Inflated

If the findings of a Brown University project are to be believed, the U.S.-led war in Iraq claimed 190,000 lives and will cost the U.S. government at least $2.2 trillion.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur adds that
The total estimate far outstrips the initial projection by President George W. Bush's government that the war would cost $50 billion to $60 billion.
What Pat Reber does not note is that the number of dead — if true — is far inferior to the hysterical numbers made up at one time or another (out of the blue?) by BDS-infected leftists (half a million Iraqis dead, one million, etc).

By 2006, The Lancet's October (2004) surprise of 194,000 Iraqi deaths (Iraqis alone and over only the first year and a half of the conflict) had risen to over 600,000, while a year later, Opinion Research Business came out with a figure more than double that, at over 1.2 million deaths.

Those figures, moreover, had the additional particularity, needless to say, of ignoring the huge numbers of Iraqis who would have continued to die in the killing fields of Saddam Hussein had Bush and Tony Blair not invaded his Ba'asist Iraq.
More than 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence in Iraq were civilians, or an estimated 134,000 people. A small number of the 190,000 dead were U.S. casualties: 4,488 U.S. military members and at least 3,400 U.S. contractors, according to the report.

"The staggering number of deaths in Iraq is hard to fathom, but each of these individuals has to count and be counted," said Catherine Lutz, a professor at Rhode Island-based Brown University who helped lead the study.
"The staggering number of deaths in Iraq"? Indeed. Except that, again, it is far inferior to that professed by the hysterical anti-war activists. Additionally, we still do not know if this lowered figure isn't similarly exaggerated as well: I am not sure to what extent the make-up of the Costs of War report ("released ahead of the 10th anniversary of the war on March 20") is conducive to trust:
The Costs of War project involved 30 economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel and political scientists from 15 universities, the United Nations and other organizations.
Offhand, that doesn't sound like many conservatives were involved. Although the UN was. Oh, and speaking of which: does the Costs of War study tackle the dollar amounts involved in the UN's food for oil scandal? I thought not…

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Pope from… the "Southern Hemisphere"?!

Plantu's take on the (s)election of Franciscus I to the papal office is to give the event a definite anti-racist bent of the (habitual) inane variety.

You've heard (or read) of Francis I being the first pope from South (or Latin) America, the first pope from the Americas (in the plural), the first pope from the New World, indeed the first pope from outside of Europe.

Well, what take does Plantu take on that? He calls Francis the first pope from the… Southern Hemisphere, with the world's downtrodden (all Southerners and most if not all "colored") all joining in a rush of joy and song, as if the world is only, or mainly, divided between the evil rich Northerners (look at the other — clueless, joyless, and heartless — "insider" cardinals in Plantu's cartoon) and the poor innocent victims of the South. Thus, the poor Southerners, arrive in triumph to see one of their own kin, one of their protectors, finally in power. (Because "insider" popes like Benedict XVI and John Paul II, you realize, had not an iota of love for them — well, certainly not for those rotten Southerners…)

I guess that all this Southern unity of the downtrodden will be news for Paraguay and all its neighbors, as well as the Hutus and the Tutsis, and I could probably come up with many other examples, if I didn't want to go to bed now…

In addition, Plantu has obviously not heard the theory that in turning to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the (mainly Italian) cardinals of Rome chose deliberately chose a man, even if (Latin) American, of Italian extraction.
Incidentally, check out Plantu's previous take on the Vatican, before the choice was known:

For the left (those nuanced souls, those deep thinkers), when everything in the world doesn't boil down to racism, it all boils down to sexism.

Black-out at the Vatican's conclave

• So? Any hints?

• They believe it will be somebody male!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lure of Islam Grows in France; and Western Converts Represent a Critical Element of the Terrorist Threat in Europe

French antiterrorism officials have been warning for years that [Western] converts [to Islam] represent a critical element of the terrorist threat in Europe, because they … do not stand out
writes Maïa de la Baume in a New York Times "Memo From France":
Agnes Dherbeys for The New York Times
The Sahaba mosque in Créteil, a Paris suburb, popular with those converting to Islam, which is a small but growing number.
CRÉTEIL, France — The spacious and elegant modern building, in the heart of this middle-class suburb of Paris, is known as “the mosque of the converts.”
Every year about 150 Muslim conversion ceremonies are performed in the snow-white structure of the Sahaba mosque in Créteil, with its intricate mosaics and a stunning 81-foot minaret, built in 2008 and a symbol of Islam’s growing presence in France.
Among those who come here for Friday Prayer are numerous young former Roman Catholics, wearing the traditional Muslim prayer cap and long robe.
While the number of converts remains relatively small in France, yearly conversions to Islam have doubled in the past 25 years, experts say, presenting a growing challenge for France, where government and public attitudes toward Islam are awkward and sometimes hostile.
French antiterrorism officials have been warning for years that converts represent a critical element of the terrorist threat in Europe, because they have Western passports and do not stand out.
In October, the French police conducted a series of antiterrorism raids across France, resulting in the arrests of 12 people, including at least three French citizens who had recently converted to Islam.

Converts “often need to overdo it if they want to be accepted” as Muslims, and so veer into extremism more frequently than others, said Didier Leschi, who was in charge of religious issues at the Interior Ministry under former President Nicolas Sarkozy.
There are persistent concerns that French prisons are fertile ground for conversions and for Islamic radicalism; observant Muslims are thought to make up a least a third of the inmate population, according to French news reports.
Many Muslims counter that they regularly face prejudice, and consider a 2010 law banning the full-face veil from public spaces and the growing concern with conversions as reflections of French intolerance.
Whatever the impact, there is little doubt that conversions are growing more commonplace. “The conversion phenomenon is significant and impressive, particularly since 2000,” said Bernard Godard, who is in charge of religious issues at the Interior Ministry.
Of an estimated six million Muslims in France, about 100,000 are thought to be converts, compared with about 50,000 in 1986, according to Mr. Godard. Muslim associations say the number is as high as 200,000. But France, which has a population of about 65 million, defines itself as secular and has no official statistics broken down by race or creed.
For Mr. Godard, a former intelligence officer, it is the “nature” of conversions that has changed.
Conversions to marry have long been common enough in France, but a growing number of young people are now seen as converting to be better socially integrated in neighborhoods where Islam is dominant.
“In poor districts, it has become a reverse integration,” said Gilles Kepel, an expert on Islam and the banlieues, the poor, predominantly Muslim neighborhoods that ring Paris and other major cities.
Many converts are men younger than 40, experts say, often born in France’s former African colonies or overseas territories.
 … In many banlieues, Islam has come to represent not only a sort of social norm but also a refuge, an alternative to the ambient misery, researchers and converts say.
 … Hassen Chalghoumi, the moderate imam of Drancy, another suburb near Paris, says he thinks conversions have also been propelled by France’s official secularism, which he says breeds spiritual emptiness.
“Secularism has become antireligious,” Mr. Chalghoumi said. “Therefore, it has created an opposite phenomenon. It has allowed people to discover Islam.”
Many experts note the influence of celebrity converts, particularly soccer players. Nicolas Anelka, who played on the French national team and whose parents came from Martinique, changed his name to Abdul-Salam Bilal Anelka when he converted to Islam in 2004. Franck Ribéry, a popular player from northern France, converted to Islam in 2006 to marry a Muslim woman, Wahiba, and took the name Bilal Yusuf Mohammed.
 … Recent arrests of radical Muslim converts have also increased concern among public officials and Muslim leaders, though radical Islam is by no means the norm among converts.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

One Black Nobel Peace Prize Winner Complains About the Decisions of Another

From Desmond Tutu comes opprobrium, the kind of which can always be counted on being leveled against America alone, and perhaps the West in general, but never against anybody else…

Also notice how the United States in general is being criticized when a leftist is in the White House, whereas during the Bush years, Dubya would have been ostracized…

I am deeply, deeply disturbed at the suggestion in “A Court to Vet Kill Lists” (news analysis, front page, Feb. 9) that possible judicial review of President Obama’s decisions to approve the targeted killing of suspected terrorists might be limited to the killings of American citizens. 

Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it. 

I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity. 

Aboard MV Explorer, near Hong Kong Feb. 11, 2013
The writer, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

French Cartoon Has Snickering Devious Yanks Thrilled to See "Their War" Being Fought by Their Unsuspecting Victims, the French

While Selçuk pens a strange (and gratuitous?) "clash of the titans" in Le Monde between a foreboding American eagle and a puny French rooster, anti-Americanism is back in vogue at Le Canard Enchaîné with the ugliest possible of Americans, the devious and treacherous kind (hat tip to Bill):

Americans Overjoyed
• Snickering, gun-loving, devious Yank:
Cool! Our war is being fought by the French, now!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Only Place That the MSM Admits to the GOP's Central Role in the Fight for Blacks' Civil Rights Is in the "50 Years Ago" Section

The only place nowadays that you can read about the historically central role of the Republican Party (you know, those awful, terrible racists) in the fight for civil rights is in the MSM newspapers' 50 Years Ago section:
1963 Republicans Seek Civil-Rights Program
WASHINGTON — Nine Republicans in the House of Representatives plan to introduce a broad civil rights program and make as much noise as possible about it. Although their chances of enacting the program are small, they could embarrass the Kennedy administration by their move. Led by Rep. John Lindsay, of New York, the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee will introduce bills to establish a fair employment practices commission, give the Attorney General increased power to bring civil action in discrimination cases and abolish literacy tests.

French Troops in "a Landscape as Seductive as a Bayonet in the Back": "We Have Broken an Al Qaeda Dungeon" in Mali

From Jean-Philippe Rémy in the Valley of Amettetaï (Tigharghâr Adrar, northern Mali) comes a report on the French army's destruction of an Al Qaeda group:
… les soldats ont une raison de se réjouir : ils sont en train de terminer la conquête de la vallée où était concentré un dispositif majeur d'AQMI dans le nord du Mali, dans la vaste zone de l'Adrar des Ifoghas. Les hommes sont rincés, leurs lèvres sont gercées, leurs nez pèlent, ils ne se sont pas lavés depuis des jours, mais l'air de la victoire leur donne des envies de fantaisie, et même d'oignons.

Dans la première phase de l'opération Serval, les soldats ont été sur les pistes, à avaler de la poussière. L'avancée des premières semaines a permis de prendre Gao, Tombouctou, Kidal et Tessalit.

 … Pour une armée conventionnelle, le paysage de cette région, vu de loin, est aussi séduisant qu'un coup de baïonnette dans le dos. De près, c'est pire encore. Entouré par des plaines qui dérivent vers le désert, l'adrar de Tigharghâr, à l'ouest du massif des Ifoghas, ressemble au résultat d'une grande colère géologique échouée sur le sable, avec son relief tourmenté d'éboulis, de pitons, d'amas de pierres volcaniques noires et coupantes, truffées d'anfractuosités.
…  La guerre au Mali n'a pas pris fin, mais à Amettetaï, elle vient de connaître un renversement majeur. C'est la première fois que les forces françaises et leurs alliés tchadiens ont affronté, au sol, des combattants qui, depuis le début de la phase terrestre, dans la foulée des frappes aériennes entamées le 11 janvier, ont vu à chaque fois les hommes d'AQMI fuir l'affrontement direct.

Comparing Chávez to De Gaulle, French Government Minister Says: "The world would benefit from having many more dictators like him"

"The world would benefit from having many more dictators like him", declared France's Minister of Overseas Territories as he attended the funeral of Hugo Chávez as the French government's official representative.

Victorin Lurel went on to compare him to de Gaulle mixed with Léon Blum, reports Le Monde, while denying that the Venezuelan strongman was a dictator at all, as the Frenchman claimed that Chávez had never failed to respect human rights.
Victorin Lurel s'attire de nombreuses critiques depuis vendredi. Ce jour-là, le ministre des outre-mer, qui représentait le gouvernement français lors des funérailles du président vénézuélien défuntdéclarait à Caracas que "Chavez, c'est De Gaulle plus Léon Blum" et que "le monde gagnerait à avoir beaucoup de dictateurs comme [lui], puisqu'on prétend que c'est un dictateur [alors qu'il] a, pendant ces quatorze ans, respecté les droits de l'homme".

Invitée de France 3 dimanche 10 mars, la présidente du Medef, Laurence Parisot, a dénoncé une "déclaration très choquante". "Comment peut-on dire d'un homme qui était un dicateur, un démagogue, qui incarne le populisme dans toute son horreur, puisse avoir les qualités que prétend notre ministre ?", s'est indignée Mme Parisot.

Le député UMP de la Drôme et ancien ministre de l'outre-mer Hervé Mariton s'est dit "choqué par ces propos". "J'ai été ministre de l'Outre-mer, c'est une responsabilité importante de la République mais ça n'autorise pas, que ce soit en France de métropole ou d'outre-mer ou à l'étranger pour représenter le gouvernement, de tenir des propos aussi invraisemblables, a-t-il affirmé. Je considère qu'on est là, non pas dans une erreur de communication, mais qu'il s'agit d'une faute majeure, d'une faute grave dont il conviendrait que le président de la République, le premier ministre, s'excusent."

Le président du Nouveau centre, Hervé Morin, en a lui aussi appelé à l'exécutif, dimanche matin sur Twitter : "J'ai honte pour mon pays quand le gouvernement ose déclarer que #Chavez c'est Blum et de Gaulle. M. Hollande, réagissez !"

75 Years Ago: Neville Chamberlain Challenged on Policy of Desiring Alliance with France, Hitler, and Mussolini

February 21:
1938 Eden and Chamberlain Clash
LONDON — In one of the most stirring scenes in the modern history of Parliament, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his resigned Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden today [Feb. 21] challenged each other as to the wisdom of their conflicting ideas for preserving the peace of Europe and keeping Great Britain out of another general war. “Tony” Eden took his stand by the side of the League of Nations and respect for treaties as opposed to the methods of power politics and the philosophy that might makes right. Now was the time, Mr. Eden warned, for Britain to stand firm and show its traditional temper, instead of submitting to the threats of the dictators. Mr. Chamberlain paid lip service to the League, but made it plain his heart’s desire is for a four-power alliance of Britain, France, Germany and Italy to control Europe’s affairs in place of the League.
March 7:
1938 Reich Fleet Twice Size of Britain’s
LONDON — The British government plan to spend over £350,000,000 this year on its Air Force, Navy, Army and air raid precautions was approved late tonight [March 7] in the House of Commons after a disquieting debate in which Winston Churchill charged that the Royal Air Force expansion had fallen two years behind schedule and that Germany possessed an air force more than twice as strong as the British. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain refused to commit himself as to the relative strength of the British and German air forces, but he did attempt to clear up his position in connection with his attempts in Rome, Berlin and London to make peace with Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Mr. Chamberlain made it plain that he was not afraid of the dictators and would fight, if necessary, for democracy.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

600 Years Later: Is the Battle of Agincourt Still Being Fought Between Britain and France?

50 Years Ago,
Britain vowed [on Feb. 1, 1963] to do everything it can to wreck President Charles de Gaulle’s plan for a French-dominated Europe. Indicating that the United States might join in this campaign, a British Cabinet minister implied that Britain will try to align France’s five Common Market associates against Gen. de Gaulle. Meanwhile, Britain does not accept his “curt dismissal” of this country from Europe and will not abandon its hope of joining the Common Market, Cabinet minister Iain MacLeod said in a speech at a Conservative party meeting in Norwich. Mr. Macleod, chairman of the Conservative party and sometimes mentioned here as a possible future Prime Minister, is leader of the House of Commons. Mr. Macleod accused Gen. de Gaulle of “slamming the door” on Britain’s Common Market entry application, threatening Europe with division and jeopardizing the Western alliance.
Which contributes to Alan Cowell penning the following piece (although half of it concerns pacifist political correctness regarding the House of Windsor):
It has been tempting this past week to recall the Battle of Agincourt between the French and English armies, not because of any looming anniversary — the 600th is not due until 2015 — but because some things never seem to change. 

Once more, England has a royal warrior called Harry, although he is a prince of the realm and a helicopter pilot, not the equestrian king immortalized by Shakespeare in “Henry V.” 

And, as Prime Minister David Cameron’s effort to redefine his land’s relationship with the European Union seemed to show, the nation still harbors old ambitions to mold events in the vast Continent separated from it by a narrow band of sometimes fog-bound water and by large dollops of mutual incomprehension.

“In all history,” the columnist Simon Jenkins observed in The Guardian, “the conundrum of Britain’s relationship with the rest of Europe has never been resolved.” 

But one function of that tangled past is to hold up what the historian Barbara W. Tuchman called a distant mirror to the present, and so it was last week when Prince Harry returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. 

Almost immediately, he was ensnared by a public dispute that a medieval monarch would have found quite baffling. 

When Prince Harry acknowledged in interviews that he had opened fire on the Taliban insurgents — what else would the gunner of an Apache attack helicopter in Afghanistan be expected to do? — he inspired a media frenzy that seemed to reflect a degree of doubt about whether the nation wanted its royal warrior to be quite so warlike, or, at least, to talk about the realities of war in a way that other royals on military duty, like his brother, uncle, father and grandfather, have not. 

“We fire when we have to, take a life to save a life,” Prince Harry said, stirring Taliban ire by ascribing his aptitude as a gunner to his prowess as a player of video games. 

As the younger son of Diana, Princess of Wales, who had her own fraught relationship with the paparazzi and the press, the 28-year-old prince should perhaps have understood that discretion is sometimes the better part of valor.

“Never in her 86 years has the queen been a fraction as indiscreet as Prince Harry was in his interview,” the author Harry Mount wrote in The Daily Telegraph. 

“Royal service is not a pick-and-mix game. You can’t just pull out the plums — the money, the girls, the servants, the palaces, the private jets.” The prince, he said, would do well “to button his lip.” 

The furor raised the same questions of privacy and privilege as have clung to Harry through a catalog of missteps and nurtured his ever greater acrimony toward the media. 

The episodes include being photographed naked playing strip snooker in a Las Vegas hotel room last year — “probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, not enough prince,” he said in his post-Afghanistan musings on the struggle to compartmentalize life between private, military and public moments — in other words, between the normal and the extraordinary. 

War in Afghanistan, Harry lamented, is “as normal as it’s going to get.” 

Arguably, though, the response to his remarks showed a broader ambiguity in a post-imperial Britain wrestling with diminished status on the global stage that it cannot quite accept or seem to reverse.
Before an audience in London, Mr. Cameron projected his land as doughty and resilient. “We have the character of an island nation — independent, forthright, passionate in defense of our sovereignty,” he said as he promised a referendum within five years on membership in the European Union if he is re-elected in 2015. 

(The qualities resembled those listed by President Charles de Gaulle of France in vetoing Britain’s entry into the forerunner of the European Union 50 years ago this month, concluding that by its very nature Britain differed “profoundly” from the Continental Europeans.) A day later, speaking to business leaders in Davos, Mr. Cameron expanded the definition. “We are a global nation, with global interests and global reach.” 

That seemed to echo his calls for a robust response to a newly perceived threat in what he has called the “ungoverned space” of North Africa after the Algerian hostage crisis. But it also came as Britain announced new military cuts. 

“It looks a little odd to be thinking about a developing situation in a very difficult part of the world when you’re making your defense capability smaller,” said Gen. Richard Dannatt, the former head of the British Army. 

Compared with such uncertainties, the English triumph at Agincourt was a model of decisiveness, but it was not the only marker. 

In the Bordeaux-based Sud-Ouest newspaper, the columnist Bruno Dive preferred to cite the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745 as an example of Gallic guile trumping British maneuvers. “Every day that passes,” he went on to say, “shows that General de Gaulle was right” in 1963 to block British ambitions at Calais. 

Plus ça change....

Send in the clowns....

An unfortunate reality of modern reality is that reality is often times unrecognised. While it is hip and with it to drag about with your windmills and solar panels, regardless of their collective umph, such things as real reality gets lost in the hipster mix:

State politicians have slammed German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer for not taking action sooner. "We're making ourselves the laughing stock of the world," Schleswig-Holstein Economics Minister Reinhard Meyer said.


The Kiel Canal, one of Europe's most vital shipping lanes, was shut down this week when two neglected locks broke down. The closure threatens to cause major disruption to shipping in Northern Europe, but Germany's Transport Ministry has promised rapid repairs.

While we go on and on and on and on about God knows what in terms of futurism (which should be pursued, prudently), reality takes a back seat, fyi - IMHO - btw - OMG - etc........