Thursday, December 31, 2009

NYT: Nothing To See Here, Folks, Just Move Along

The all-knowing New York Times on the Interpol thingie:
Contrary to its portrayal in some movies, Interpol has no police force that conducts investigations and makes arrests. Rather, it serves its 188 member countries by working as a clearinghouse for police departments in different nations to share law enforcement information — like files on wanted criminals and terrorists, stolen cars and passports, and notices that a law enforcement agency has issued an arrest warrant for a fugitive.

In the United States, a bureau at the Justice Department staffed by American officials transmits information between law enforcement agencies and Interpol. If a foreign country issues an arrest warrant for a person inside the United States, it is up to the United States government, based on its own laws, to decide whether to apprehend the suspect.
So 'splain, please, Mr. NYT, why was it necessary therefor to give them diplomatic immunity and to make their archives off-limits to FOIA and subpoena?

Answer: Because it gives the US DOJ the ability to simply shove a box full of uncomfortable documents across the hall to the Interpol liaison office and voila! Instant inability to access by the public! No FOIA jurisdiction! And, yes, no nosy NYT reporters can look at it!

You'd think that the folks who brought you the Pentagon Papers would find this just ... a wee bit disturbing, no? No?

Guess not. Guess only mouthbreathing dimwit conservatives who love Sarah Palin and want to fill the world with little Trigs worry about such things.

Bah.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

War's Over: A Photoessay.

(Someone forwarded this to me; I do not know the source.)

HIROSHIMA, 2009







DETROIT, 2009.











The war is over. So who won?

P.S. The picture of Tiger Stadium no longer reflects reality.

They tore it down this last fall. (The abandoned building to the left however is still standing.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Is Interpol Now Immune from Restraint in the US?

The Web is screaming.

Everywhere you look, they're screaming about a new Executive Order, that supposedly gives INTERPOL – the international police organization once headed by Heinrich Himmler – TOTAL IMMUNITY to operate within the United States, free from let or hindrance by the FBI or from any Federal or State Court. The acts of their agents, they say, are absolutely diplomatically immune; their records, inviolate and unsearchable (and un-subpoena-able!), their property free from search, and everyone employed by the organization is now exempt from all Federal income tax, Social Security, or property taxation.

Sounds like tinfoil-hat territory, right?

There's one little problem with this story.

It appears to be entirely true.

ONE UPON A TIME, in 1983, President Ronald Reagan gave the following order authorizing INTERPOL to operate in the United States as an International Organization, however requiring that it be subjected to certain restrictions: their records, like any law enforcement agency, would be subjected to search and review under certain circumstances; income of INTERPOL employees were taxable for both income tax and Social Security taxes; they were subject to our laws and not granted diplomatic immunity for their acts. In short, they were under the same restrictions as the FBI, ATF, Secret Service, or other Federal law enforcement agency His order reads like this (boldface for emphasis).

Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983
International Criminal Police
Organizations

By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and statutes of the United States, including Section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669, 22 U.S.C. 288), it is hereby ordered that the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), in which the United States participates pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 263a, is hereby designated as a public international organization entitled to enjoy the privileges, exemptions and immunities conferred by the International Organizations Immunities Act; except those provided by Section 2(c), the portions of Section 2(d) and Section 3 relating to customs duties and federal internal-revenue importation taxes, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act. This designation is not intended to abridge in any respect the privileges, exemptions or immunities which such organization may have acquired or may acquire by international agreement or by Congressional action.

Ronald Reagan
In 1995, certain amendments were made to the order, stating that all physical property of INTERPOL in the United States was exempted from all taxation to the same extent that our diplomatic property is exempt. Furthermore, their agents and official communications obtained diplomatic immunity (and thus are exempt from our laws).

Executive Order 12971 of September 15, 1995
Amendment to Executive Order
No. 12425

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to extend the appropriate privileges, exemptions, and immunities upon the International Criminal Police Organization (‘‘INTERPOL’’) it is hereby ordered that Executive Order No. 12425 be amended by deleting, in the first sentence, the words ‘‘the portions of Section 2(d) and’’ and the words ‘‘relating to customs duties and federal internal-revenue importation taxes’’.

William J. Clinton
Finally, most disturbingly, the President of the United States last week stripped away all protections of the American people from the actions of INTERPOL by granting them full diplomatic immunity, full inviolability of their records and complete immunity from search or seizure, even in the case of law enforcement investigation by another law enforcement agency (like, oh, the FBI).

Executive Order 13524 of December 16, 2009

Amending Executive Order
12425 Designating Interpol as a Public International Organization Entitled To Enjoy Certain Privileges, Exemptions, and Immunities

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. 288), and in order to extend the appropriate privileges, exemptions, and immunities to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983, as amended, is further amended by deleting from the first sentence the words ‘‘except those provided by Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act’’ and the semicolon that immediately precedes them.

Barack Obama

Therefore Presidential Order 12425 now reads as follows:

By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and statutes of the United States, including Section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669, 22 U.S.C. 288), it is hereby ordered that the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), in which the United States participates pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 263a, is hereby designated as a public international organization entitled to enjoy the privileges, exemptions and immunities conferred by the International Organizations Immunities Act. This designation is not intended to abridge in any respect the privileges, exemptions or immunities which such organization may have acquired or may acquire by international agreement or by Congressional action.

Which means that INTERPOL now has privileges and immunities as an International Organization with the following new (or in the case of the un-italicized text, Clinton-era) immunities:

except those provided by Section 2(c), the portions of Section 2(d) and Section 3 relating to customs duties and federal internal-revenue importation taxes, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act.

INTERPOL was previously excluded from all of these immunities under the International Organizations Immunities Act. They paid taxes; they were not personally inviolate; their records were not inviolate; their records could be seized, searched and, when necessary, subpoenaed; and their employees were taxed for income, Social Security, and property taxes.

No longer.

Let's examine, section by section, Section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669, 22 U.S.C. 288), which can be found at this link.

59 Stat. 669, §2c

Property and assets of international organizations wheresoever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search unless such immunity be expressly waived and [be free] from confiscation. The archives of international organizations shall be inviolable.


[Translation: If INTERPOL violates our laws we can't search or seize their "inviolable" records AND NO COURT CAN SUBPOENA THEM.]

59 Stat. 669, §2d

Insofar as concerns customs duties and international revenue taxes imposed upon or by reason of importation, and the procedures in connection therewith; the registration of foreign agents, and the treatment of official communications, the privileges, exemptions and immunities to which international organizations shall be entitled shall be those accorded under similar circumstances to foreign governments.

[TRANSLATION: All physical property of INTERPOL in the United States is exempt from all taxation to the same extent that our diplomatic property is exempt. Furthermore, their agents and official communications have diplomatic immunity and thus are exempt from our laws. This is a Clinton era change.]

59 Stat. 669, §3

Pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Commissioner of Customs with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, the baggage and effects of alien officers and employees of international organizations, or of aliens designated by foreign governments to serve as their representatives in or to such organizations, or of their families, suites and servants of such officers, employees, or representatives shall be admitted ... free of customs duties and free of internal revenue taxes imposed upon or by reason of importation (this italicized text was a Clinton era change).
[TRANSLATION: Customs can't search any property or baggage belonging to INTERPOL, any employee or servant of INTERPOL, or any members of their families.]

59 Stat. 669, §4
(Omitted; long passage on the terms of the Internal Revenue Act.)
[TRANSLATION: up: INTERPOL employees, servants or agents don't have to pay federal income taxes on their wages while working in the United States.]

59 Stat. 669, §5
(Omitted; long passage on Social Security Act.)
[TRANSLATION: Long passage; I'll sum up: INTERPOL employees, servants or agents don't have to pay SOCIAL SECURITY taxes while working in the United States.]

59 Stat. 669, §6
International organizations shall be exempt from all property taxes imposed by or under the authority of any Act of Congress, including such Acts as are applicable solely to the District of Columbia or the Territories.
[TRANSLATION: None needed; they're not subject to property tax.]

I hesitate to sound like an end-of-the-worlder or a tinfoil hat-wearer, but ladies and gentlemen, .... to use Law French, this Presidential Order is... ahem...

A. Very. Bad. Move.

Or worse.

They want to make a former SS controlled secret police force diplomatically immune, exempt from search or seizure or subpoena, and all its employees free from any and all taxation?

Please, Mr. President, what are you thinking?

ADDENDUM

Turns out that this is NOT-NOT-NOT tinfoil-hat territory.

Even National Review sees this as a problem.

Money graf:

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?


WHY, INDEED.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

LABEL THESE PIX





Are these:
(1) Iranian protestors being gassed by the Ahmonajihad islamocrazy regime? Or
(2) Former LGF posters being run off of LittleGreenSTFUtballs by Charles and co.?
Your call.

Tattered Remnants #023: László Tőkés




(Read all about the Tattered Remnants by clicking {here}.)

THE SPARK OF TIMIŞOARA: LÁSZLÓ TŐKÉS

I write this on December 26, 2009. Yesterday, along with being the Feast of the Nativity of Christ the Lord, was also a special anniversary of a different sort: twenty years to the day from the time that a long Winter at last yielded to Christmas, that an evil dwarf and his ice queen finally met the justice that they long deserved, and their people delivered to freedom.

* * * * *

His name was László Tőkés and he was a minister of Christ. He lived in the obscure town of Timişoara, in the far western tip of Romania. The region in which he lived is called The Banat; although within the borders of Romania, it has a very large Hungarian-speaking minority. The region has, over the years, toggled back and forth between Hungarian and Romanian control.

In December 1989 László Tőkés was a pastor of a Hungarian speaking Protestant church in this town far away from the nation's capital and leadership. He had acquired a name for himself as a supporter–-some say agitator–-in favor of greater linguistic and cultural rights for those, like himself, of Hungarian extraction.

Let Wikipedia tell the story:

Like his father, Tőkés was a persistent critic of the Ceausescu regime. While a pastor in the Transylvanian town of Dej, he contributed to the clandestine Hungarian-language journal Ellenpontok ("Counterpoints"; 1981-82). An article there on abuses of human rights in Romania appears to have been the occasion of his first harassment by the Securitate [secret police]. He was reassigned to the village of Sânpetru de Câmpie, but refused to go and instead spent two years living in his parents' house in Cluj-Napoca.

His situation was discussed in the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which led indirectly to his appointment to be assistant pastor in Timişoara, where he gave sermons that opposed the Romanian national government's program of systematization, which proposed radical restructuring of the infrastructure of Romanian towns and villages. This was seen by Hungarians as a particular threat to their villages, although Tokés' sermons did not single this out, calling for solidarity between Hungarians and Romanians.

But times were changing in the late 1980s. The death of the monstrous Yuri Andropov was followed by the brief papacy of Constantin Chernenko–and then by the so-called reformer, Gorbachev.

And the first signs of springtime began to appear in Eastern Europe.

In May 1989, Hungary dropped all travel restrictions to the outside world; in August, a so-called "Friendship Picnic" ended when 900 guests–almost all East Germans–crossed the Hungarian border into Austria. The Hungarian Communists gave up absolute power in October, and the Berlin Wall first opened, and then completely fell in November. Solidarity had quietly but firmly taken power from the communists of Poland; the Velvet Revolution threw out Czechoslovakia's communist party.

There was but one bastion of hardline Communism left in Eastern Europe: Nicolae Ceauşescu's Romania.

This last near-Stalinist dictatorship had not changed a whit from the mid-1960s. But the winds of change were blowing, and to those who tried to listen, the creaking of the Romanian communist regime was clearly audible.

The horrors of the Ceauşescu regime, while perhaps not comparable to Auschwitz or the Cambodian killing fields, were still remarkable in their cruelty. Again, Wikipedia:

Ceauşescu visited the People's Republic of China, North Korea and North Vietnam in 1971 and was inspired by the hardline model he found there. He took great interest in the idea of total national transformation as embodied in the programs of the Korean Workers' Party and China's Cultural Revolution. Shortly after returning home, he began to emulate North Korea's system ....

[Ceauşescu] heralded the beginning of a "mini cultural revolution" in Romania, launching a Neo-Stalinist offensive against cultural autonomy, reaffirming an ideological basis for literature that, in theory, the Party had hardly abandoned. ... Strict ideological conformity in the humanities and social sciences was demanded. Competence and aesthetics were to be replaced by ideology; professionals were to be replaced by agitators; and culture was once again to become an instrument for political-ideological propaganda.

In this period, great but pointless national projects were undertaken. A new National Palace of the People and a subway system for the capital of Bucharest were built at enormous expense to the common people. Food and gasoline were strictly rationed: not because there were shortages but because as much agricultural output as possible was sold abroad with the intention of paying off Romania's national debt, a goal that was actually achieved in early 1989.

In contrast to the West and China, which turned wholeheartedly to violent population control through legalized abortion, Ceauşescu, through his wife Elena, fell off of the other side of the horse: they instituted a policy of population expansion at great cost to the common people, instituting policies that forced people to have children and actively taxed them if they did not have any (even if they were single).

They opened enormous orphanages to care for the children who were born to unwilling parents, then instituted policies, such as medically pointless involuntary blood-transfusions, that ended up spreading HIV to huge numbers of children. Even today, in 2009, Romania has 95% of Europe's pediatric AIDS population even though it has 3% of Europe's population.

It should also be noted that the Ceauşescus attempted to obliterate the culture of one of their own minorities. Romania had (and has) one of the largest populations of Roma (those people known most commonly to us as "gypsies") in Europe. They were (and are) viewed with hostility as they were and are commonly viewed as a criminal element. To solve this "problem" it became Ceauşescu's and his wife's desire that the Roma lose their identity as a people. They were forbidden to wander in their time-honored fashion, forced to settle in reservations, and were forbidden to use their ancient Romany language; furthermore, their children were often taken away from them and placed in the above-mentioned orphanages.

This combination of needless privation, political and literary oppression, the Ceausescu cult of personality, and the steadfast refusal of Ceauşescu and his wife to read the signs of the times and to sense the winds of change, led to an explosive situation.

It was in this atmosphere of an accumulation of toxic political waste that László Tőkés caused a spark. Again, Wikipedia:

In the summer of 1988, [Tőkés] organized opposition to systematization among Hungarian Reformed Church pastors, again drawing the strong attention of the Securitate. After the Securitate objected to a cultural festival organized on October 31, 1988 (the Day of Reformation), jointly with the amateur Hungarian-language theatre group "Thalia", Bishop László Papp banned all youth activities in the Banat (the region of which Timişoara is part). Tőkés nonetheless collaborated with the bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Church on another festival in spring 1989.

On March 31, 1989, Papp ordered Tőkés to stop preaching in Timişoara and move to the isolated parish of Mineu. Tőkés refused the order, and his congregation supported him. The bishop began civil proceedings to evict him from his church flat. His power was cut off and his ration book taken away, but his parishioners continued to support and provision him, some of them being arrested and beaten for their trouble. At least one, Erno Ujvárossy, was found murdered in the woods outside Timişoara on September 14, and Tokés's father was briefly arrested.

A court ordered Tokés' eviction on October 20. He appealed. On November 2, four attackers armed with knives broke into his flat; Securitate [secret-police] agents looked on while he and his friends fought off the assailants. The Romanian ambassador was summoned to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry and told of the Hungarian government's concern for his safety. His appeal was turned down, and his eviction set for Saturday December 15.
His Hungarian-speaking parishioners began to gather at his apartment to discourage the eviction. Like a snowball rolling downhill, the group grew to include Romanian youth, and then people from all social groups. Signs denouncing the regime and calling for free elections began to appear. Within days the entire city of Timişoara was in revolt.

Ceauşescu, clueless to the last, organized a massive "spontaneous" rally as he gave a great speech on December 21. And spontaneous it was, but not in a way he expected. This massive televised rally, intended to transmit his supremacy to the nation and the world, ended in unexpected booing. Ceauşescu's look of astonishment at the people's hatred was the crowning moment of the Revolutions of 1989. His TV cameras were cut off, and he fled his own Presidential palace by helicopter; captured before he could flee the country, he was returned to Bucharest and, after a two hour drumhead court martial, he and his wife were executed by firing squad on Christmas Day 1989.

The death penalty should not be so lightly given, but bitter things happen in revolutions. And Ceauşescu's quarter-century of brutal terrorism and manhandling of the people of Romania, as well as the abominable social policies pressed by his wife, earned them both their date with the firing squad.

To Tőkés' credit he played no part in the violent denouement of the Romanian revolution. He was eventually elected the Lutheran bishop of his region, and devoted the next years to an (alas, largely unsuccessful) attempt to re-obtain his church's properties that had been confiscated by the Communists. He was elected to the European Parliament in 2007. In 2009, he achieved recognition for his efforts to overthrow his nation's bitter dictatorship when he was awarded the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom from the Victims of Communism Foundation.

In some way, Tőkés' contribution cannot be viewed as crucial in that it is very likely that some event would have triggered the collapse of Romanian Communism. The Ceausescu regime was on its last legs by any measure and its overthrow was almost certain, given the events in the nations surrounding it.

But László Tőkés was not some random historical personage. He, like his father before him, suffered significant retribution from the Communist authorities for decades before his stand. He was a subject of concern and of hearings before the United States Senate long before his stand that December night. While perhaps not a Solzhenitsyn, he was heroic in his own way. And it should be remembered that he chose not to take up arms in defense of himself but rather stood on his moral authority as a pastor and as a Christian.

The pen of history writes, and having written, moves on. History moved forward and Tőkés was, in fact, the individual who fired a moral shot heard around the world. His contribution to the destruction of communism is measurable, and he should be saluted for what he did. László Tőkés is surely one of the Tattered Remnant.

ADDENDUM

It is melancholy for those of us who are individuals who struggle against prenatal surgical violence to contemplate Nikolae Ceauşescu and his vile wife Elena. While the end of preserving unborn life may have been laudable in itself, his motives were not, and the direct and oppressive manner in which they persued their ends should make anyone who stands for human liberty recoil.

Yes, if legalized abortion is once more suppressed, there need to be legal mechanisms in place to encourage childbirth and to discourage and punish those who insist on killing the unborn. But the methods used by the Romanian Communists are in thier own way just as repugnant as those used by the Chinese Communists to restrict birth. Careful thought must be given to how we achieve our ends. This much we know: if there is a question as to which way we must modify our society to end the horror called legal abortion, the bitter ghost of Nikolae Ceauşescu, a philosophical descendant of Vlad Ţepeş the Impaler, surely does not provide an answer.

Not by a long shot.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holy Innocents: Still Dying At Herod's Hand

Sunday commemorates the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which remembers those young children destroyed by a tyrant at Bethlehem. Whether they were counted in the thousands (as thought in Tradition) or dozens (as believed today) they represent all the children, from those murdered at the hand of Pharaoh to kill Moses up to today, who died at the hands of murderous princes seeking eternal power.

The following essay appeared in The Taipei Times. However, since it is a public statement by a sitting U.S. Congressman made in the line of duty, I am assuming that it is not covered by the Copyright Laws of the United States and am taking the liberty of reposting it in its entirety.

Remember: Someone at the White House actually saw fit to hang a picture of Mao on his Christmas Tree.

Behold the handiwork of The Mao Emperor. Anita Dunn and Diane Francis of FinancialPost.Com, in particular, please note.

=======================

One-child policy a rights disaster

By Chris Smith

Thursday, Nov 19, 2009, Page 8

She was dragged into a room to be forcibly aborted with “hundreds of pregnant moms … just like pigs in the slaughterhouse,” Wujian, a Chinese student in the US, told a congressional human rights commission in Washington on Nov. 10.

“He must speak up for us, for our lives, for our human rights. He must speak now,” she pleaded.

He — US President Barack Obama — was in Beijing this week for talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and other senior Chinese officials. Coming on the heels of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s infamous remark made en route to Beijing earlier this year, that human rights can’t “interfere” with US engagement on climate change or selling Treasury bills, the witnesses at the hearing expressed deeply held concerns that human rights in China — especially forced abortion — have been demoted, trivialized and dismissed by the Obama administration.

Through her tears, Wujian appealed to the president to speak with clarity and boldness for the women and children of China who, like herself, have been traumatized by China’s one-child-per-couple policy, which relies on forced abortion and forced sterilization to achieve its goals. Her appeal was echoed by several human rights activists and a world-renowned demographer.

Having become pregnant without a government “permit,” Wujian lived in hiding for months. Family planning cadres, unable to find her remote shack, beat her father almost to death. Still she refused to turn herself in. Eventually the cadres found her.

“The room was full of moms who had just gone through a forced abortion,” she remembered. “Some moms were crying, some moms were mourning, some moms were screaming and one mom was rolling on the floor with unbearable pain.”

The Chinese people are not docile in the face of government abuse. There are about 80,000 anti-government protests in China every year. Nor do the Chinese people accept the one-child policy. Women’s Rights in China (WRIC), a group of Chinese-American women established by Annie Jing Zhang (張菁) and Chai Ling (柴玲) — the famous students’ “general commander” at Tiananmen Square in 1989 — commissioned some courageous Chinese to collect new evidence on such hitherto murky events as a mass uprising in Guangxi Province.

When Guangxi cadres started a one-child policy crackdown in 2007, as many as 50,000 people rose up and destroyed half-a-dozen government buildings and beat several policemen to death. Male villagers smashed the homes of one-child policy personnel, while pregnant women hid in the mountains and along lake shores. It ended worse than you might expect.

Police and family planning cadres organized themselves into military formations and captured hundreds of farmers, surrounded villages, extracted fines by armed force, smashed homes, broke up families, confiscated farm animals and valuables, and took hostages. The captured women were bound, taken to the hospital and sterilized. Other women agreed to be sterilized in order to get their husbands, sons and fathers released from jail.

The one-child policy is enforced with the most ruthless measures, which have not abated in recent years, as the Chinese government would have us believe. Again, Wujian’s tale is emblematic. Struggling with a nurse, begging and weeping, she was told that cadres had performed more than 10,000 forced abortions in her small county that year. Her forced abortion over, Wujian, so traumatized she could not eat, speak or drink for days, returned home to nurse a father recovering from his beatings.

The message is unmistakable. Former longtime Chinese political prisoner and now activist Harry Wu (吳弘達) showed the commission photographs of banners hung across village streets: “Resistance to IUD [intrauterine device] insertion, sterilization and paying fines will cause the total destruction of your home and property! Destroy! Destroy! Destroy!” and “Resistance to sterilization will bring you nothing but detention; refusal to abort will lead to the destruction of your house and confiscation of your cattle.”

This policy affects every Chinese woman’s life. It invades her privacy, colors her experience of intimacy and motherhood with a sense of fear, humiliation, and powerlessness, and traumatizes her. As WRIC reported, family planning cadres require all women to maintain menstrual records and report every four months for crude breast-­uterine-labial checks — called “the three examinations.” The cadres are looking for indications of pregnancy or miscarriage, or removal of contraceptive rings — a serious crime. There are women who have removed their IUD rings living on boats in the Guangxi River, like hoboes or escaped criminals.

Thus the WHO reports more than 500 female suicides per day in China. It is the only country in the world where the female suicide rate is higher than the male — and it is three times higher.

“When I was writing this short testimony, several times I cried out,” Wujian said.

And so I — we — appeal to Obama: Seriously raise the plight of Chinese women who are every day cruelly and systematically assaulted by population control police. China’s population control policy is violence against women and violence against children — by the hundreds of millions. It is the worst violation of women’s rights in human history.

Chris Smith is serving his 29th year in the US House of Representatives and specializes in human rights issues. [In November] he chaired a hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"A Sign Is Given Unto You"



Says it all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dem HQ Vandalism in Denver - The Truth Outs

We reported on a Reichstag Fire type attack on a Democrat Party Headquarters in Denver on or around August 25, wherein the Dems blamed "fundamentalist right wingers" for trashing their HQ.

Turns out that it was a gay-activist/anarchist "transvestite," nominally male, who pled guilty to the attack yesterday.

It's always good to set the record straight.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kim Peek, The Human Google, Goes Home to God

Kim Peek, the model for Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man, has died.

This father of three autistic children salutes him.

God bless you, Sir, and eternal joy to you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tattered Remnants #022: Aleksander Solzhenitsyn



(Read all about the Tattered Remnants by clicking {here}.)

LEAP YEARS: ALEKSANDER SOLZHENITSYN

"If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?"

The name Solzhenitsyn is known to every adult American over the age of 35. But times are changing; already, he is fading into history and into disregard as the train of history moves forward. Although he is today still among the most famous of men, he was, at his finest, an unknown, a single minded enemy of one of the 20th Century's Great Tyrannies, the smallest of Davids against the greatest of Goliaths. As such, he was without doubt one of the Tattered Remnant.


* * * * *

In the year of 1961, in a tiny town called Ryazan south of Moscow, a high school teacher sat, late at night, before his typewriter, composing a short story. It was written in single space, on both sides of the paper (to save on the paper itself, which was hard to find at the time).

The story he wrote was a hidden artwork, created in darkness in a corner of his small apartment; he had never shown this, or any other work, to anybody else, as he was convinced that his works would never be published in his lifetime. This was, after all, only eight years after the death of Josef Djughashvili, known as Stalin; and the gang of terrorists who had assisted him in blighting the evil empire called the Soviet Union still ruled the country with a bitter, iron hand. The cold body of Stalin himself still lay in state next to Lenin's in the latter's Tomb.

He sat in his room writing a story that would change the world, retelling his experience of eight years in Siberia, where he had worked as a slave for the Soviet state, under sentence for "disloyalty" and "founding a hostile organization." His crime had been one of calling the leader of his nation "The Whiskered Guy" and "The Boss" in a private letter to a friend.

The final paragraph he composed slowly, carefully, savoring every single word:

The end of an unclouded day. Almost a happy one. Just one of the 3,653 days of his sentence, from bell to bell.

The extra three days were for leap years.


It took time, but within thirty years the writing of this short story would come to be seen as the first and single most significant event leading to the destruction of his nation's dictatorship.

His name was Aleksander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn. And in typing his story he changed his universe, and ours.

Solzhenitsyn was at that time a 42-year-old survivor of the Soviet labor camps, a former "Zek", or zakliuchonniy, a prisoner. He had been arrested while serving in the Soviet Army in Poland as the Red Army approached Berlin. His letters to his friend having been intercepted, he was shipped by a special train to Moscow proper, where he was imprisoned in the famous Lyublyanka prison. He was severely beaten and, after a drumhead trial before three State Security officers, he was sentenced to eight years in the Soviet labor system. He was shipped to the east, to Siberia, where, in a series of camps, he labored as a bricklayer for the heroic Soviet people.

Solzhenitsyn had been an unquestioning Communist until his arrest. But as he spent eight years in backbreaking labor, his former appreciation for the Soviet way of life gave way to a realization that he lived in the heart of darkness, which called itself a light to the workers of the world but which was, in fact, a vile political monstrosity that ate human flesh.

(Let it not be forgotten that the Soviet empire, in its 70 years, consumed 40 million lives on its own initiative and lost another 20 to the invasion of Hitler.)

At the conclusion of his eight year sentence, he was freed from the camps, but sentenced thereupon to lifetime exile in the East. He was only allowed out of his imprisonment long enough to travel to the city of Tashkent, to receive treatment for stomach cancer.

After Stalin died, he was again allowed to leave the far East and he returned to central Russia, where he settled in Ryazan. His wife, who had divorced him during his imprisonment, remarried him and they settled down to a quiet life.

But he wrote on, regardless, knowing that he had no future: his works would never be published; indeed, if they were discovered, he would likely be arrested again and returned to the cold hell of the far East.

He chose, however, to take a chance. He sent a manuscript copy of his short story – Yedin Den' Ivana Denisovitcha, or One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch - to an old friend of his, Aleksander Tvardovskiy, editor of the magazine Novy Mir ("New World"). The excellence of the work was recognized immediately; some of those reviewing the short story comparing it to Dostoyevski.

But old habits die hard, particularly in socialist dictatorships. The publication of such a (counter-)revolutionary work would require approval at the highest level. It finally came from the unlikeliest of sources: Nikita Khrushchev himself, who, telling the Politburo of his decision to approve the release of the story, made what is possibly the most remarkable admission of any public official in Soviet history:

There is a Stalinist in each of you; there is even a Stalinist in me. We must root out this evil.

But this was but a false spring of freedom in Russia. Although the nation was swept by this daring new writer who actually was allowed to attack the (former) leadership of the Soviet Union, the brief era of tolerance for dissent soon ended when Khrushchev was overthrown and replaced by the Brezhnev clique of reactionaries. And Solzhenitsyn, the golden boy of the Khrushchev era, found himself almost an unperson.

In this period, his next novel, Cancer Ward, was published, but his next, The First Circle, was blockaded. In the years that followed, while the children of the "Free Speech" protestors in Berkeley decried American "censorship" and Woodstock became the symbol of freedom, Solzhenitsyn's home was raided by KGB agents and a copy of his most important work, Arkhipelag GULag, or The Gulag Archipelago, was seized. In 1969 he was expelled from the Union of Writers–membership in which was a sine qua non to being a published novelist in the U.S.S.R.

While the police had seized the manuscript, however, copies had been carefully stored in the homes of friends, and were smuggled out of the Soviet Union to the West. An American at the Embassy, military attache' William Odom -- later head of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan -- got the manuscript to publishers in Paris.

As time passed, his importance as a writer and as a solitary opponent of the Soviet system became more apparent, even to his enemies. The Soviets could not afford to kill him, and they were unable to effectively silence him. His growing reputation became a rebuke to everything the Soviet system stood for. He was given the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970–this, back in the days when Nobel Prizes were still meaningful–and he came to stand for all those silent men of good will inside the Soviet Union who quietly opposed the stone face of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Since he could not be silenced, and since he could not be safely killed, they expelled him.

One day, in 1974, he was again arrested in his home. At this time, he was informed by the KGB officers arresting him that the decision had been taken by the Politburo to strip him of his citizenship and expel him from Russia. He was forcibly placed on an Aeroflot plane to Germany, and he was unceremoniously dumped onto the tarmac.

In the days that followed, he was allowed to migrate to the United States, where he took up residence. His second wife, Natalya -- he had divorced his first wife in 1971 -- was allowed to join him, along with their three young sons.

He took up residence in Cavindish, Vermont, a small, woodsy town in the Northeastern United States, which resembled in many ways his old home in central Russia. He chose well, for his Vermont neighbors had almost as insular views of privacy as he did. He stayed there, shielded by his neighbors' willing shielding of the family from the curious, and quite pointedly rarely left his estate. Although his wife and children all obtained American citizenship, he chose to remain officially stateless.

Never learning to speak English fluently -– although of course he read it well enough –- he spent his seventeen years in exile concentrating on finishing his Red Wheel cycle of four novels on the Russian Revolution. During his stay in Cavindish, he made one public appearance–a speech at Harvard University's Commencement ceremonies in 1977, where he denounced American culture, materialism, and "bad music" to an audience that found his words, to quote the New York Times, "bewildering." It almost seemed like he was biting the hand that fed him–except that this particular "hand" was made up of a lot of people who believed that the USSR was, to put it kindly, unobjectionable.

Your Author recalls seeing him in one of his very rare appearances on American television in 1984, giving an interview where he advocated that the USSR should be broken into its component parts, and the other nations forming it allowed to be free and independent states. Although he foresaw some internal border changes that never took place–he thought, for instance, that majority Russian-speaking regions in Ukraine and Kazakhstan should become Russian territory–his foresight in predicting the shattering of the USSR which came only seven years later was, in retrospect, truly astonishing. (Were that our CIA had had such vision!)

I can remember my father shaking his head after the interview ended. "The man's a dreamer," he said. But, as it turned out, he was (pace John Lennon) not the only one.

Time passed and the ice dam that he had first pierced shattered into a million pieces in his absence. To those of us who lived through those heady years, the events that moved so swiftly still seem miraculous – the "Easter Sunday party" that broke the fence between Austria and Hungary in 1988 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the return of Solidarity, the death of the Warsaw Pact, the execution of Rumania's Nicolae Ceausescu on Christmas Day 1989, the independence of Lithuania, the August coup of 1990, Boris Yeltsin standing on the tank, and, most gloriously, the fall of the Soviet flag from the Kremlin on Christmas Day 1991 and its irrevocable consignment to the ashheap of history.

But Aleksander Solzhenitsyn was forced to observe all this from exile.

In 1995, he finally came back to Russia, landing in Magadan, a city in the Far East near Vladivostok. His first act on emerging from the plane was to kiss the ground in remembrance of his fellow Zeks who had died as Stalin's slaves tearing this city out of the Siberian waste. He then took a train with his wife across Siberia, soaking in the "new Russia."

He was, as one might expect, dismayed. The collapse of the Soviet Union had left the nation impoverished, and yet the Russian people who had suffered so long did not seem to have emerged from their decades of horror morally improved. He saw Russian Mafia influence everywhere, Soviet Communistic influence still abounding, Western materialism, extremely gross sexual immorality, drugs, and mindless pursuit of pleasure, and he was shocked and appalled at what he saw.

He settled in Moscow and became what we might call a "pundit." He had, for a time, his own TV show, two fifteen-minute spots a week where he would interview leading politicians and thinkers of the day. But his bitter and hectoring style attracted few viewers and the show was cancelled after a few months.

He was, in the end of his life, viewed (fairly or not) as a has-been and an eccentric, a supporter of Tsarism and an opponent of democracy. He also held many views that today are held to be unacceptable, including a bitter attitude toward the Jewish people that approached anti-Semitism, although to his credit he recognized it in himself, admitted to it, and battled it. It should be remembered that it was he that observed that "the line between good and evil lies not between 'us' and 'them' but down the middle of every human heart." And none knew that line better than he himself. We all must struggle with evil; some of us have the misfortune of doing so publicly.

Yes, at the end of his life, he was in many ways a crank. But his legacy is clear.

Today, his master work, The Gulag Archepelago, composed in fear of the KGB, is now required reading in every high school in Russia.

ADDENDUM - MADELYN MURRAY O'HAIR

I will not recount her life story here. While she had the makings of a member of the Remnant--she was, indeed, courageous, in a twisted way--she chose to stand up and be counted for the other side.

In the spring of 1985, I was in my final semester as an undergraduate at Michigan State University. A major public speaking event was scheduled one evening at the main theater, where the celebrated Madelyn Murray O'Hair was to come to give a speech.

O'Hair of course was and is famous as the individual who was responsible for forcing public schools to stop allowing prayer or the reading of the Bible as part of educational curricula. She gloried in her title as "the most hated woman in America," and taunted those Christians who she claimed dreamed of her death.

I remember going to see her at MSU on that occasion. As was common at such events, microphones were set up around the ampitheater so that, following her speech, the audience could comment and ask her questions.

I do not remember much about the speech, except that it was standard atheist boilerplate: Christians are idiots, atheists are the smart ones; believers are idiots, scientific materialists are the smart ones; those who imagine that the world was created are idiots... yadda yadda.

I patiently stood in line and was standing before the microphone when someone asked Mrs. O'Hair about freedom of worship in the Soviet Union.

"I've traveled several times in the Soviet Union," she bragged. "In every city there are still churches. They're open. Nobody is in them because nobody believes there any more. But there is no persecution of religious believers in the U.S.S.R."

I spoke up into the microphone at that instant.

"I don't believe Aleksander Solzhenitsyn would agree with your last statement."

"Aleksander Solzhenitsyn," she said, voice dripping contempt, "is a fascist."

At that the room erupted in applause. I had not realized, until that moment, how alone I truly was in that building--or that almost everybody else there seemed to be enthusiastically buying the bovine scatology that she was selling.

I will also not recount what ultimately became of her: an atrocity so horrible that I would not wish it happening to Charles Manson.

I'll simply observe the difference between their respective legacies: Solzhenitsyn's being a book that every school child in his nation must now read; O'Hair's, a Book that no school in her nation is allowed to teach.

"I find your lack of Faith disturbing...."

The Vatican has declared the person of His Holiness The Pope, the Servant of the Servants of God, Patriarch of the West, Bishop of Rome, Successor to St. Peter and Vicar of Christ to be a copyrighted figure, in order to prevent his image from being, well, misappropriated.

We fully support this move, as we cannot have people publishing pictures like this......



(Come on, I'm as big a fan of the papacy as you can ask for, but I gotta think even old JP2 himself would have laughed at this one....)

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Would You Kiss Me?", Part II

The newspaper The Times (of London) reports
UK diplomatic sources confirmed there had been a major setback after China took huge offence at remarks by President Obama over the need to independently monitor every country carbon emissions.

In his speech President Obama said: "Without any accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page" - remarks the Chinese interpreted as an attempt to humiliate them, prompting Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to return to his hotel.
Hmn. I wonder, does Wen look like Mrs. Obama?

How Now Brown Shroud?

In other news, The Times also reports that the Shroud of Turin has been "debunked" because they found another First Century AD shroud in a cemetery, this new shroud belonging unquestionably to a leprosy victim.

The leprosy victim's shroud was of a single weave and was very crude.

Therefore the Shroud of Turin can't be real because it's a rich and complex weave.

By that logic, there are no Lexuses or Mazeratis on the road because they found my three color ten year old Oldsmobile in my parking lot.

Amazing, these scientists. Is there nothing they don't know?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Philip Pullman Loses His Bearings

It sez here that plans to make movies based on Philip Pullman's "Golden Compass" novels have been shelved due to the fact that the first one didn't make enough money.

Okay, fair 'nuff.

But Mr. Pullman is blaming Catholic opposition to the fact that his movie didn't make very much money.

And THAT is, ahem, specious. (That's lawyerese for "bullshit.")

In this day and age, where Christianity and Catholicism are so disregarded that our Congress feels free to pass a health care law that murders children at government expense, the thought that "we" ruined his movie is ludicrous.

Face it, Pullman; your movie didn't make money because your movie sucked. And it sucked because the underlying premise sucked.

Of course, then there is this: When a seller of barnyard-derived agricultural fertilizer is unable to sell his wares, maybe he should look at his product as the source of his troubles. So here.

ADDENDUM

Now Sam Elliot is making the same pathetic claim. Sad, really.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"I'd like to beeeee.... under the seeeeea....."

A video from National Geographic reports: "Octopuses have been discovered tip-toeing with coconut-shell halves suctioned to their undersides, then reassembling the halves and disappearing inside for protection or deception".
The coconut-carrying behavior makes the veined octopus [Amphioctopus marginatus] the newest member of the elite club of tool-using animals—and the first member without a backbone, researchers say.
Hmn. The ONLY spineless tool-users? They obviously didn't take Homo sapiens congressi into account.....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What Christmas is Really All About....

....Christ, the Lord.



This 2005 USA TODAY article explains, far better than I could why this program is so brilliant.

(I should also note that the song that opens this show -- "Christmas Time is Here" -- is the only intelligent Christmas song written in the last half of a century.)

Some Good News from Michigan (For Once)

Back on July 15 I posted about a horrible accident that happened on I-75 at the Nine Mile overpass--the bridge, only recently rebuilt, was burned and destroyed down to the foundations by an exploding tanker truck.

There were no casualties in that accident, thanks to quick action by the local law enforcement, firefighters, and citizens-on-the-spot. But the bridge was totally destroyed. (Pix here.)

Well, whaddayaknow? Yesterday, Friday, December 11, 2009, the bridge was reopened. Around-the-clock labor and an open checkbook made completion of the project in under six months possible.

There's a lot about Detroit that sucks, yes. But a hat tip to all involved in this minor urban miracle. We haven't completely lost what or who we are or what we can do!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I like the guy on the right.


(as if that is a surprise)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Breathtaking Genocidal Evil

You know, watching the total meltdown of political civility that followed the 9/11 massacre has been a trial for all of us. We hear each side accuse the other of being monsters, of being totally destructive abusers of the truth who have no grounds whatsoever of being taken seriously.... blah blah blah blah.

Those who think that global warming is nonsense are referred to as "deniers", as if they were the same sort of individual who denies that the Holocaust occurred. One leading columnist posited this in 2007 and has not yet withdrawn it.

Those Republicans who think that the U.S. government should not be in the health care business are compared to slaveowners and those resisting desegregation .

Those who think that Sarah Palin has something useful to say and to stand for are derided as redneck morons, and Sarah herself degraded and subjected to what has been called almost a public sexual assault: "wilding".

It is, to quote the Squire of Gothos, bad bad craziness.

But it is not often you see explicit and shameless calls for genocide in print.

As here, where one Diane Francis of the Canadian site financialpost.com calls for killing children who are like, oh, me.

The "inconvenient truth" overhanging the UN's Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are overpopulating the world.

A planetary law, such as China's one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.

...None will work unless a China one-child policy is imposed. Unfortunately, there are powerful opponents. Leaders of the world's big fundamentalist religions preach in favor of procreation and fiercely oppose birth control. And most political leaders in emerging economies perpetuate a disastrous Catch-22: Many children (i. e. sons) stave off hardship in the absence of a social safety net or economic development, which, in turn, prevents protections or development.

China has proven that birth restriction is smart policy.

I hereby formally name Diane Francis of FinancialPost.com as an advocate of mass murder (because that is what the one-child policy implies and requires--the involuntary killing of all children after the first).

She's a bitch, too.

ADDENDUM

AND the mother of two.

Hat Tip: National Review The Corner.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tattered Remnants #021: J Harlan Bretz



(Read all about the Tattered Remnants by clicking {here}.)

A FLOOD OF EVIDENCE: J HARLAN BRETZ

Not all of the Tattered Remnant die heroic deaths. Sometimes they live the Death of a Thousand Cuts, as when their contributions or discoveries are mocked and derided by those having a vested interest in established orthodoxies.

As has become clear in recent days from the Climategate scandal, sometimes scientists fight very dirty in order to preserve established opinion, particularly when their income is dependent on their maintaining their world view. (As Upton Sinclair put it: "Nothing is harder than to make a man understand something when his job depends on his misunderstanding it.")

This entry is about a man who stood up to an entire scientific establishment and suffered exile and low regard for decades for daring to hold on to a theory against established opinion.


In Eastern Washington State there is a great, dramatic, dry, scraped area known as the Channeled Scablands. The Scablands contain some of North America's most astounding and mysterious land forms: a dry waterfall ten times the size of Niagara, potholes the size of stadiums, huge boulders made up of rocks having no local origin, stunning cliffs and dry valleys hundreds of miles from the nearest river or even glacier action.

For decades, scientists had absolutely no clue how any of these lands may have been formed.

There was no theory that made the slightest sense that would explain them. Under then-extant established theory, the Scablands would have to have been formed slowly, gradually, over thousands, millions or billions of years. It was clear that some sort of water action must have formed the Scablands, but ... what water? River water? The nearest river was 50 miles south of the extent of the Scablands and there was no evidence that the river had ever flowed through the regions.

There were some features suggesting glacial action, in particular the "Erratics"–huge granite boulders, some more than 100 tons, which would have been deposited by glaciers onto the landscape which had no granite in the ground locally. Problem here is that the Scablands are more than 200 miles south of where scientists were certain was the furthest southern reach of the Canadian glaciers in any of the most recent ice ages.

It made a pretty problem.

Enter J Harlan Bretz–the 'J' had no period behind it, and, Bretz being a famous curmudgeon, God help you if you added one and he found out about it.

Bretz started out as a high school biology teacher and semi-amateur geologist, eventually obtained a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Chicago. He spent thirty or forty years walking the Scablands taking measurements and samples, and it became clear to him that this huge geological region was formed through a particular catastrophe--a great megaflood--and not through long term erosion and a slow natural formation.

Unfortunately, the entire geological world at the time was married to a concept called gradualism--the idea that all geographical forms in the world, without exception, were formed through slow erosion and continental forces and not through fast, catastropic action, and particularly not through a flood! (How biblical! Which is to say, how unacceptable! - for scientists then as now tend to be so allergic to Biblical cosmology that they will go out of their way to suppress any theory that even smells of Biblical imagery.)

But back then, in 1927, the thought that a single catastrophe could form a huge geological feature was heretical. They called Bretz in to present his views at an open forum, where they deliberately lined up a half dozen high priests of gradualism to rub him out.

Bretz was relegated to the outer edges of science and for decades was thought of as a nutcase with discredited views. His appearance in Washington, DC in support of his theory in 1927 essentially cost him any chance of being hired by a major university or being taken the slightest bit seriously as a theorist.

The primary attack on his theory was that, at the time, Bretz offered no explanation as to where such a huge flood of water had come from. And a huge flood it was – imagine a great flow of water equal to half the water in Lake Michigan passing in a few days time from stem to stern, from the entry waters in the east to the Pacific Ocean to the west. Such a huge steam-roller of water, a wall of water a half mile high, could tear out everything in its path!

But where did that water come from? There were no rivers or streams with anything near the volume required; the Great Lakes were too far to the west, and there was no mechanism, even volcanic eruption, that could have melted that volume of water quickly enough for such devastation to occur. Bretz himself did not know, and when challenged, he simply pointed to the evidence that the flood had occurred, stating that that should have been enough. Finding the waters was not his task.

But there was one man who knew–an employee of the United States Geological Service, there at the conference to observe, but not to participate. But he leaned over and whispered to the man sitting next to him and said: "I know where Bretz's flood came from."

As it developed, this man - Joseph T. Pardee, or "J.T." as he was known - had the key to Bretz's mystery. For Pardee was the leading authority on "Glacial Lake Missoula."

Once in ages past, certain rivers in Montana - some 250 miles to the east of the Scablands - had formed with the early melting of the last glaciers. Their runoff, however, was blocked by the glaciers themselves–great ice plugs prevented the rivers from draining naturally. The waters backed up, forming what geologists now call Glacial Lake Missoula, an immense lake that rose a thousand feet above the current surface. What is now a medium sized city in the middle of Montana was then the bottom of a huge lake, deeper than Lake Superior and with a volume of water of some 5 billion cubic meters.

And one day that ice dam broke.

It is now known that the region was formed exactly how Bretz thought: a megaflood caused by the draining of the lake in the course of a very few hours and days, scraping and gouging the plains of eastern Washington, taking everything with it, dumping it into the Pacific: a crush of water equal to one hundred times of all the river flows of all the world combined.

But while Pardee knew of this, he was limited to what he could tell to Bretz, as he was not an academic, but an employee of the United States Geological Survey: giving information to Bretz was the job of his supervisors, not him, and his supervisors were present at that very meeting making very clear that his, Bretz's, views were rawest heresy.

And so Bretz returned home from the conference where his work was derided and rejected by a committee of high priests of 'gradualism.' But he persisted, in spite of having his work derided, and he continued in darkness for years.

Time passed, technology advanced. Aircraft were made available to researchers, and the first arial photography of the area again and again bore out both that Glacial Lake Missoula had indeed existed, that the dam had given way, and that the flood into Eastern Washington State had occurred in exactly the way that Bretz described.

Only when satellite imagery and further research confirmed both the floodlike nature of the scablands from orbit and the existence of Galacial Lake Massoula did his work become validated.

Bretz was a lively and independent man; he fought his solo fight against geological orthodoxy for forty years. It was not until the early 1960s that his theories on the Scablands became generally accepted in the scientific community; it was not until 1970 when LANDSAT - the first geological photography satellite, using photographic technologies previously restricted to military use - first surveyed the Scablands from space, finally giving scientists the proof that they needed to establish that Bretz had been right all along.

His vision was, in the end, universally recognized. He was awarded geology's highest award in 1980, when he was 98 years old; he groused that it was a little late to benefit him as all of his enemies were dead. But he has now the highest scientific honor: J Harlan Bretz is now the father of planetary geology, and his discoveries are applicable to current research on the presence and absence of water on Mars.

If one of the attributes of the Tattered Remnant is the absolute commitment to stick to one's guns, no matter how much fire is received, then J Harlan Bretz surely qualifies for admission to the club, for his persistence in the face of, shall we say, the "inconvenient truths" of conventional scientific opinion.

ADDENDUM:

The physics of the failure of the ice dam, however, are of particular interest to us before we move on to our next section.

The ice dam was the leading edge of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, an immense glacier that covered most of what is now western Canada; as it moved forward, it cut off the flow of the Clark Fork river. The river backed up and, in the face of the immensity of the ice plug, grew deeper and deeper, reaching one point a thousand feet above what is now the city of Missoula, Montana. The ice plug itself reached a height of over 2000 feet at its highest point.

The excellent PBS series NOVA examined the mystery in an episode entitled "Mystery of the Megaflood." The ice dam, however, was not shattered by the melting action of the sun or of warmth, but through causes rooted in some of the more esoteric laws of physics.

As is well known, water has a unique physical property in that it expands as it freezes, which as it developed had a dramatic effect on the ice dam. As the water in the lake grew deeper, pressure on the lower depths became greater and greater. The water in close proximity with the ice grew cooler; indeed, it dropped below freezing temperature, but could not form ice as the great pressure of the waters behind it prevented the necessary expansion into crystalline form.

This water, flowing into every nook and crack of the ice, eventually wore away the ice within the cracks, making them wider and wider. Eventually the supercooled water burst through the dam, causing its eventual sudden and catastrophic collapse.

In short, small amounts of free flowing water that was not physically capable of becoming ordered ice destroyed the structure that held it back, shattering the dam and releasing the water to freely flow again.

As it turns out, it is not merely ice dams that are broken this way...whereby hangs our next entry.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tattered Remnants #020: Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens



(Read all about the Tattered Remnants by clicking {here}.)

LET THOSE WHO HAVE EARS, HEAR - JEANNIE ROUSSEAU

"What I did was so little." - Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens, 1998

Earlier in this series I praised the highly morally questionable work of Richard Sorge, the German communist who very probably saved the Western world through his actions as a spy on behalf of the Soviet Union.

This is the story of a much different kind of spy.

French. Multilingual. Brilliant. Charming. Gutsy. A photographic memory. A superhuman ability to generate plausible falsehoods in defense of her friends in the face of the enemy. The toughness to survive years in Nazi concentration camps.

And, my God, was she beautiful.

The perfect spy. And since she acted in defense of her nation against an invasive enemy, a much less ambiguous character than Mr. Sorge.

Her name during the war was Jeannie Rousseau (later, de Clarens) and, while she may not have saved the Western world from Naziism single-handedly, she certainly played a key role in saving many tens of thousands of lives in London and elsewhere from being blown to bits by Nazi rockets.

Her story was told in 1998 in one of those Sunday-special-section articles in the Washington Post and it is a story that is well worthy of retelling.

Her father was a soldier in the Great War. After he survived to the end–as only half of all French men his age succeeded in doing – he became a diplomat and, later, mayor of one of Paris's most fashionable arondissements, the 17th.

When Paris fell in 1940, and the mythical Rick Blaine was fleeing on the last train to Marsailles, Jeannie's very real family were themselves fleeing: to Brittany, the westernmost point of France, where, they thought, the Germans would leave them in peace.

They had not figured on the Battle of Britain. Or "Operation Sea Lion," the planned Nazi invasion of the British homeland. German soldiers soon swarmed the region and began barking orders. Local officials became desperate for someone to translate the needs and orders of the local military occupation to them. Jeannie volunteered.

Twenty-one years old, very presentable, personable, and with almost-native German linguistic abilities, she was perfect for her role. At a time when most German military forces still wanted to be liked by the conquered, the German officers would have found her almost irresistible-–had she not placed herself physically off limits to them. "I never played Mata Hari games," she said.

Nevertheless, lonely German officers in remote cafes in the presence of a lovely French maiden tended to talk. And Jeannie proved a rapt listener.

She began to take notes and pass them along to the underground. German spies in Britain noted that the intelligence coming to England from her region was excellent. The local German authorities in Brittany started adding two and two.

The Gestapo arrested her and threw her into the Rennes prison on suspicion of being a spy. Her friends among the German officers came to her defense; they could not believe she was spying (or that they had given her so much information). And so –- remember this was still early in the war, when the Germans sometimes still kept a pretense of obeying the rule of law -– they decided there was insufficient evidence to charge her, and she was released.

The Germans, however, ordered her to leave the coastlands, an order that she was more than pleased to obey. She returned to Paris, and found a job with the local equivalent of the industrial chamber of commerce, and burrowed in.

Within weeks, in a scene right out of a Hollywood spy movie, she encountered an old teacher on a train one evening. A quiet conversation, an invitation, and she was in contact once again with the French underground.

She was given her orders: hang out with the Germans, and .... listen.

And soon some of her old German "friends" from Brittany reappeared in Paris as well. And they introduced her to their friends. And they, to their friends. And so on.

By early 1943, she started hearing about something strange, new, fantastical. The Germans in the East were studying a new form of weaponry, a weapon that her friends chatted about endlessly. She began to hear words in German that she had never heard before–what were raketten?

She soon found out. She managed, through simple passive listening, and a God-given gift of a photographic aural memory, to obtain detailed and specific information on two programs being carried out on an island on the Baltic Sea. The island was Peenemünde, and the programs would become known to the world as the V-1 "Buzz Bomb" and the V-2 ballistic missile.

By mid 1943, she was able to assemble a significant amount of information on this program and transmit it to England: its import was recognized immediately by an alert analyst, Dr. R.V. Jones, and it reached Churchill within days.

Churchill took this information and, using it and certain key independent data (provided by two Polish slave laborers on the island itself whose names have been lost to history) ordered that the island be bombed.

In the course of the next year, four crippling bombing raids were carried out against Peenemünde, killing hundreds of workers and significantly delaying the rocket program. When the time came, Hitler was still able to reach London with his "Vengeance" weaponry, killing thousands, but the rocket program as it turned out was not nearly effective as he had hoped, or as it could have been.

(One of the great imponderables of history: what if the buzz bombs and rockets had been directed at the D-Day landings instead of London? And another: what if they had been armed, not with TNT, but with an atom bomb?)

Tens of thousands were killed by these primitive but for the time high-tech horror weapons, but the number could easily have been doubled, but for Jeannie Rousseau's remarkable ears -– and courage.

After Jeannie's report was received, the word went out from British intelligence: they wanted this woman in England for a debriefing. She was ordered, once more, to the Brittany coast to be evacuated.

Alas, she was betrayed and arrested the morning she was to be picked up by a British boat, and she was returned to prison.

Amazingly, however, in a mistake that in today's law enforcement world would likely never happen, she was not identified as the same "Jeannie Rousseau" who had been arrested as a spy in 1941. They had her listed under a different name, and as a result of the confusion she was able to survive.

Her experience in the camps that followed can be summarized: first sent to Ravensbrueck, where she performed menial labor, she was later sent to a labor camp in Eastern Germany, where she was able, through bluster, to avoid being put to work manufacturing munitions. She came down with tuberculosis, was returned somehow to Ravensbrueck, where she hid out until she was released at the end of the war.

She was starving, weighing little over 70 pounds. She would not have survived the camp but for the arrival of a Swedish Red Cross team shortly before the end of the war. She was evacuated to Sweden and slowly recovered.

She returned to France in 1946, where she married a survivor of Auschwitz. She continued to use her linguistic skills over the course of the following years, working for the United Nations and other international organizations. She dodged publicity and refused to talk to reporters.

On October 27, 1993, at the age of 73, she was granted a special CIA citation for her war work, where, together with the analyst to whom she reported, R.V. Jones, she was honored for what the Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Wolsey, called her "embodiment" of the "ideal of human intelligence."

It is today almost 2010. She would be over 90 years old if she is still alive. And, aside from a dinner and an award in 1993, her sacrifice, suffering, devotion and bravery are largely forgotten to history.

Largely forgotten, yes. But not completely.

The Washington Post reporter that told her story asked her why she acted, and she "scoffed." "I just did it, that's all ... [i]t wasn't a choice. It was what you did. At the time, we all thought we would die. I don't understand the question. How could I not do it?"

The reporter put her bravery down to the fact that it was a "simple reflex.... It's a property of the central nervous system, not the higher brain."

For those who have ears to hear, however, the answer is much clearer: she acted as she did because she was one of the Tattered Remnant.

ADDENDUM: WERNER VON BRAUN

Let me take a moment to comment on a key player in this story: the developer of the Saturn 5 rocket, the man most responsible for our successful moon landing, the great and celebrated Dr. Werner von Braun.

Famous, oh so famous he was. Were it not for him we would not have beaten the Soviets to the moon–a key event in history, and (to his credit) one that may have helped avoid the Third World War. While he lived he was covered in accolades and awards, honored with titles and rank and world fame. When he died in 1977 at the age of 65, it was front page news around the world. And it was an event that this shameless teenaged (at the time) space geek followed closely, intently, for he was a hero: a scientist who acted and advanced human knowledge in its first step into space.

Yes, he became a United States Citizen. But he was granted such through a special dispensation, for he was also an SS-Sturbannführer, a key actor in one of history's great criminal conspiracies.

And remember also: his facility at Peenemünde was staffed by slave laborers; every rocket he flew for his Nazi masters was handmade by the kidnaped, the terrified, and the enforced. He was, in fact, a slave master.

He needn't have been. He did act bravely, to an extent, to save certain of his workers from being killed. He showed by doing that that he was not entirely lacking in moral courage. But he never let his moral courage get in the way of his commitment to completing the program. In short, it seems that he could have been one of the Remnant, but refused the commission.

For his efforts, however, thousands of his slaves died building the rockets: one estimate holds that for every rocket launched at England, six slave laborers died, possibly more than were harmed by the rockets' detonation over London. Twenty thousand laborers died, including 200 hanged for sabotage.

And do not forget: his rockets also killed innocent British civilians. The U.S. Air and Space Museum states that the V-2 killed 5,000 people in London. The V-1 buzz bombs killed about the same number.

And also: the very rockets that put us on the moon, which he built, could one day burn the cities of our enemies to ash. And cost us our own. (Do not forget that the first rocket built for the Soviet strategic rocket forces was the R-1, a direct copy of the V-2; while no longer Soviet, those rockets are still aimed at us.)

Yes, Werner von Braun was a great man. But he was also a technological murderer and a great war criminal, a willing instrument of grave evil. For all his achievements and honors, the bitter and mocking lyric of Tom Lehrer forever, and most justly, mars his memory: "'Vanz ze rockets go up, who cares vere zey come down? Zat's not my department!' says Werner von Braun."

He was the very embodiment of the amoral mad scientist, a Viktor Frankenstein of space.

Remember his scientific achievements, which were great. But when so remembering him, do not forget for a moment that he was also a moral monster, less than the dust beneath the chariot wheels of the forgotten Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens.

----

Source: This retelling of Jeannie's story is derived from "After Five Decades, a Spy Tells Her Tale." by David Ignatius, which appeared in the Washington Post, 28 Dec. 1998). The full text can be found here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tiger Woods In Chinese

We were going to ignore the whole Tiger Woods car accident thingy with dignity, but ... this Youtube vid is a must see--and you don't even have to speak Chinese.

In fact, it may be better if you don't speak Chinese....



(Gracias: Lucianne.com)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Trelayne Prances Again

Charles Johnson, the Squire of Gothos, announces he's no longer one of the right, generating some random text in a highly random and nonlinear justification for his political opinions.

Frankly, I don't give a shit where he is in terms of left-or-right.

What makes him repugnant to all that is good and right is the fact that he lies.

He lies.

He lies like a rug. He lies like a dog. He lies like a leftist.

He strains out the gnats of bad behavior by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland seventy years ago yet swallows the camel that leftism is benign instead of genocidal.

Specifically, he and his goons think that it is perfectly acceptable to break faith with, and knowingly spread actionable falsehoods against, individuals with whom he disagrees.

He has no credibility and he has cut the throat of just about every individual who supported him excepting for a few brainless sycophants.

I do not say, farewell, Charles for you have been long gone. Rather, this:

You say, "I won’t be going over the cliff with them."

I say:

Your bones are already there at the bottom of the sea beneath the cliff, Charles, for the shark you jumped has long since eaten you.