Wednesday, April 30, 2003
So the Tel-Aviv suicide bombers are both British citizens. The one who exploded is from Pakistan; the one who got away was born in Derby, in the heart of England. The Israeli oppression that made them do it sure is far-reaching, isn't it?

(Scotsman link via Instapundit.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2003
C-SPAN is rebroadcasting the Palestinian satellite channel now (in English). I just tuned in, so only heard a few snippets. "Israeli aggression," "roadmap," etc.

Update: They rebroadcast an Israeli news program immediately after.

Blogger Permalink Fix

To everyone using Blogger who's had their permalinks chewed up: the problem isn't actually with the links, it's with your archives. See this Blogger Knowledge Base article for how to fix it:

Permalinks at Thinking Meat have been repaired. Apologies for any inconvenience, emotional distress, or hair loss endured as a result.

Lest it accidentally pick up a loose scrap of credibility, the UN Human Rights Commission diligently strives at self-parody.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Cuba was reelected without opposition on Tuesday to the United Nations' top human rights body, prompting a fierce response by Washington that it was "like putting Al Capone in charge of bank security."

The voting took place in the 54-nation U.N. Economic and Social Council, which two years ago ousted the United States from the Human Rights Commission for the first time since Washington helped found it in 1947. The United States was returned to the body in a vote the following year.
Emphasis mine.
Monday, April 28, 2003

More reality TV

Oh, this is just great.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Andrew Sullivan mentions something that's been bothering me:
THE LEFT'S DESPAIR: I was walking through my neighborhood the other day - in D.C.'s hyper-p.c. Adams Morgan - and I swear I've been seeing a few more anti-war posters since the war ended. The signs are perhaps expressions of some kind of rage at reality...
(Emphasis Sullivan's.)

I've noticed that too. At first, seeing "No War on Iraq" stickers and signs for a war that had already begun (and then, for a war that was over), I figured their owners simply hadn't gotten around to removing them. But it's been quite a while now, and the stickers and posters are still up. It's a poignant mixture of sad and absurd, really: defeated misguided idealism that refuses to acknowledge reality.

Must be the same process that compels people to keep those "Nader 2000" stickers on their cars. Maybe it's there to make it really clear to the rest of us that some people are really slow to catch on.

Sunday, April 20, 2003
Some of you may be lying awake nights, thinking to yourself, "I wonder how Estonia's high-tech industry is doing?" Well, you'll be happy to know that Estonia is blazing the Internet trail.
Banking is actually booming in this former Soviet republic -- via Internet. The number of Estonians who bank online soared from zero in 1997 to 700,000 this year. That's half the country's 1.4 million people.

From Tallinn to Tartu, scores of bank branches have closed, forsaken by cybersavvy Estonians. Nearly all businesses, from one-man shops to utilities, interact with banks in cyberspace...

The government also set up a site called "Today, I'm Deciding" to let citizens offer their own opinions on legislation. It's got a chat room where they can debate the merits of bills or offer up legislation of their own.

One suggestion offered on the site, which is continually monitored by a webmaster in the prime minister's office, called for easing restrictions on carrying swords in public...
Why is Estonia so successful? The article lists a bunch of good reasons. One of them is that, apparently, Estonians are... well...
Part of the technology revolution can be attributed to Estonians' famously taciturn but curious nature.

"If a Frenchman loves to sip wine with his friends and a German enjoys his beer, then an Estonian likes to sit behind his computer on a dark evening, surfing the Net and at the same time talking on his mobile phone," Estonian communications executive Toomas Somera once said.
I will now add the Nerdy Estonian™ to my repository of ethnic stereotypes. Thank you, Mr. Somera!

Rapidly developing Internet connectivity, connection between computers and politics, and the propensity to spend evenings in front of a computer -- does that mean that there are Estonian bloggers out there? Naturally.

Saturday, April 19, 2003
The normally reasonable Aziz Poonawalla retreads an old, absurd, and appallingly heinous rumor of Israel building a "genetic bomb" -- i.e., a genetically coded bacterium or virus that would kill Arabs, but leave Jews unharmed. The idea is imbecilic, a cross between a B-grade action movie, a Baathist opium den fantasy, and a bad Star Trek episode. Nonetheless, seemingly intelligent people seem to be giving it credence, which simply astounds me.

It's a pretty old urban legend amongst Arabs, actually, fueled by the large amount of genetic research that Israeli scientists conduct. (For pure scientific reasons, as well as to retrace the links among Jews worldwide.) In reality, no such weapon is possible, if only because of the large amount of intermixing that has gone on between Arabs and Jews who lived amongst Arabs. (Those Jews often look exactly like ordinary Arabs, which is what allows them to carry out undercover operations in the West Bank or other Middle Eastern countries -- and, conversely, what lets Palestinian suicide bombers blend in among Israelis.) Aside from the monstrous intended effects which the Israeli public would never permit, any such genetic bomb would produce the worst "friendly-fire" problem in history.

And then what? The Muslim anti-Israel world is hardly limited to Middle Eastern Arabs. Would Pakistan just sit around? What about Iran (Persians, of course, but also intermixed with Arabs -- and who would therefore also take heavy casualties)? Northern Africa? The huge Arab population of Europe, and the enclaves in America, North and South? Does Mr. Poonawalla honestly believe that the Israelis are insane and suicidal enough to release something this horrific, that would kill people by the hundreds of millions, including millions of citizens of friendly (and powerful) nations? Hello?!

Furthermore, assuming this were possible, this kind of research would be unprecedented, expensive, and require thousands of people. Operational security on it would be nil, and by necessity it would require cataloguing the genetic commonalities of Jews. Everyone see where I'm going with this? What happens when (not if, when) this information falls into the hands of Israel's plentiful remaining enemies? Israel having done much of the legwork, they could easily re-use that research (and modify isolated organisms of Israel's "genetic bomb") to use this weapon on Jews. This would be a much easier task: the number of Jews is much smaller, and their communities tend to be concentrated in a few specific areas (mostly Israel and large American cities). Developing such a weapon would be a pretty quick way for Israel to commit suicide -- twice! -- and that's assuming that other countries just stood still and didn't destroy it for fear of being next.

Besides, why do this? If Israel wanted to destroy Araby, ordinary nuclear weapons are more than sufficient, and much easier to obtain and store. For populations at closer range (e.g. Ramallah or Gaza), ordinary bombs and/or napalm would do the job quite well, without the danger of unintended side effects, or months upon months of global coverage of Arab hospitals with dying children. To ask the question favored by 9/11 conspiracy nuts everywhere, who would benefit from such a weapon? (Note for the permanently outraged: I'm not trying to be flippant here. Just doing my best to point out that Israel doesn't need this weapon to kill Arabs en masse. The idea is absolutely horrific, but I'm not the one generating stories of DNA-based genocide.)

Even Arab sources were debunking this story, back when it appeared four and a half years ago. (And, might I point out, before the start of the Second Intifada. That seems relevant somehow.)

[Ahmed Mostagir, an Egyptian specialist in genetics] explained that 99.5 per cent of the genes of all the peoples of the world are identical. Genetic differences do not exceed one half per cent. But since many Jews have Arab origins, "they too will be victims of this horrible ethnic bullet," he said...
So apparently the Israelis are so bent on killing Arabs, they are willing to lose a large portion of their own population in the process. Uh-huh. Where have we heard this before? Oh, wait, I know! Can you say projection, boys and girls?

So if the story is so absurd, why is it out there, published by the Times? Moshe Zak of the Ma'ariv has some thoughts:

The joke is old, but the publication by a British paper that Israel is developing a "genetic bomb" gives it new resonance. The story is told of a Jew playing poker at a prestigious London club. In the opening round, one of the players, a distinguished lord, declared a "full house". Before the lord could take the pot, the Jew asked to verify the cards. He was told: We do not check each other, but believe the winner's word. After I became aware of this custom, the Jew noted later, my card playing underwent a marked improvement.

After the Israeli correspondent for the British paper was told that Israel does not bother to argue libelous stories created against it by the psychological warfare departments, he was in an analagous situation. He is certain that the Biological Institute at Nes Ziona, which is a secret facility, cannot be dragged into a confrontation over the accuracy of the baseless story, nor can they deny it. He can publish whatever he wants. He is certain that no-one can prove or disprove the things submitted to him by hostile psychological warfare apparatuses, and he mistakenly swallows their output. The Israeli correspondent cannot be charged with libel against the state in which he was born and raised, but he was an innocent victim of a well-oiled apparatus that wanted, precisely at the moment when Iraq is challenging the United States and the United Nations over the development of chemical and biological weapons, to divert the searchlights towards Israel's apparent dangerous biological weapons program...

During the Cold War, the communist disinformation apparatus tended to plant stories of ethnic-based biological weapons in African newspapers. On the eve of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, the Soviets tried to scare African athletes with stories of a biological weapon developed by the United States in order to injure Africans coming to the games. The story was spread around the world, and there was no-one in the communist apparatus who would point to the absurdity of the charge. After all, the Black population in the United States numbers in the millions, and they have the same genes as the African athletes.

When this trick failed, the Soviets then tried to plant stories that claimed that AIDS was caused by bacteria with which the Americans infected Africans, and that it affects only blacks. Since then, millions of whites have been infected by this disease, and the Cold War between Washington and Moscow has disappeared from the world. Psychological warfare has moved to our region, and it once more bears the guise of a fake biological weapon, this time directed solely against Arabs. And all this in order to ease Saddam's situation when he is pressured by the United Nations over his amassing of biological weapons.
Again, this story is from 1998 -- a nice refresher on how long our "rush to war" with Saddam took. Was the "genetic bomb" story planted by allies of Saddam Hussein? Who knows. But the story itself is obvious bunk, and its appearance in the Times doesn't make it any more credible than the accusations of poisoned wells and blood libels.
Monday, April 14, 2003
What an excellent story:
Iraqi Muslims came to the aid of Baghdad's tiny Jewish community yesterday, chasing out looters trying to sack its cultural centre in the heart of the capital...

"The Jews have always lived here, in this house, and it is only normal that we should protect them," said Ibrahim Mohamad, 36, who works in a small undergarments factory near the centre of town.

Although the majority of Jews fled the country in the early 1950s, many of their Muslim tenants come each week to pay their rent to an old woman at the centre, Mohamad said...

"We are defending the synagogue like all houses on the street and we will not let anyone touch it," said Edward Benham, a 19-year-old computer science student.
(By way of Instapundit.)
Sunday, April 13, 2003

Little Green Birthday

It's Charles Johnson's birthday. Go over to his website, and wish him a happy one.

Charles shares a birthday with Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Beckett, and Eudora Welty. Not bad company at all.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Sorry I've been so quiet lately.

It's been a pretty exhausting couple of weeks, for a whole bunch of reasons. And wow, did things move fast outside my workaday teacup tempests! Three weeks from our first bombing, and Marines are already helping Iraqis tear down statues of Hussein in Baghdad. Unbe-freaking-lievable. Less than a month ago, Hans "Smoove" Blix and his band of Merry Magoos and their Iraqi minders ("now only one per inspector!") were driving white SUVs in circles around Iraq, and Jacques Chirac seemed almost ...significant. Now all he and his German, Russian, and Chinese counterparts can do is wait to see what if anything we deign to let them touch in Iraq after we're through cleaning up the mess they profited from for decades.

Of course, the speed of this war also left a lot of commentators dizzy, unable to replace the reeled-up tapes of "war crimes," "thousands of dead civilians," and the indispensible "quagmire." Well, they'll readjust soon enough; people like them don't bother to rethink their viewpoints over the mere technicality of being consistently wrong.

In the meantime, I'll continue to post any interesting news at the Command Post. Commentary will, of course, remain right here.