More dithering in the face of Iranian hostilities. Bush must be rubbing off on Blair. From FOX New: Britain Takes Case of Detained Troops in Iran to U.N..
Britain took its case to free its 15 sailors and marines held by Iran to the United Nations on Thursday, asking the Security Council to support a statement that would "deplore" Tehran's action and demand their immediate release.
But Security Council diplomats said the brief press statement circulated by Britain's U.N. Mission is likely to face problems from Russia and others because it says the Britons were "operating in Iraqi waters" — a point that Iran contests.
The British move came as Iran rolled back on its promise to release the sole female British sailor among the captives, Faye Turney. The Iranian military chief, Gen. Ali Reza Afshar, said that because of the "wrong behavior" of the British government, "the release of a female British soldier has been suspended," the semiofficial Iranian news agency Mehr reported.
Iran's top negotiator, Ali Larijani, also hinted that the British crew members may be put on trial. ...
If Britain follows through with its policies toward Iran, Larijani said "this case may face a legal path" — a clear reference to Iran's prosecuting the sailors in court.
Blair's official spokesman said Britain wanted to resolve the crisis quickly and without having a "confrontation over this."
Meanwhile, Iran is using the hostage mother-of-one for propaganda, and a group of students in Tehran call for the execution of the British captives. From The Daily Mirror: Iran releases hostage marine's 'anti-war' letter. (via Little Green Footballs)
Iran is walking all over us and the British. How many acts of war do the mullahs have to commit before we begin fighting back?
This cartoon was originally posted on June 12, 2005, and is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our latest book Black & White World III, which can be ordered via Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
From FOX New: Sean Penn Leads California Town Hall Against Iraq War.
Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn lead a town hall meeting in California Saturday that was critical of President Bush and his handling of the Iraq war.
About 800 people crammed the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland, Calif., to hear the one-time Hollywood bad boy and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., discuss the Iraq war, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
"You and your smarmy pundits — and the smarmy pundits you have in your pocket — can take your war and shove it," Penn said, according to the paper. "Let's unite not only in stopping this war, but in holding this administration accountable."
Hot Air has the audio.
From The Jerusalem Post: Gaza: At least six dead in flooding from sewage breach. (via Little Green Footballs)
At least six people were killed Tuesday when the wall of a large cesspool collapsed, flooding the northern Gaza Beduin village of Umm Naser with mud and raw sewage, Palestinian medical officials said.
The officials said dozens were injured and missing, with some saying up to 10 people were killed. The rest of the village's 3,000 residents fled or were evacuated by rescue crews.
A 70-year-old woman, two toddlers and a teenage girl died in the sudden flood, and 25 people were injured, said Dr. Muawiya Hassanin of the Palestinian Health Ministry. ...
Rescue crews and Hamas gunmen rushed to the area to search for people feared buried under the slide of sewage and mud. ...
The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear. A local Palestinian official blamed the disaster on shoddy infrastructure and UN officials said they had been warning of a catastrophe for more than two years. ...
Stuart Shepard, of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the wave of waste released Tuesday sent the health risks even higher. ...
Shepard said that since the report was published, international funding for a new plant had been secured but construction had not been able to go ahead because of the high security risks in the area.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum blamed international "sanctions against Palestinians, including Gaza and the West Bank" for the condition of Gaza's infrastructure. Most foreign donors froze aid to the Palestinian government after Hamas swept to power in a 2006 general election, but Shepard said the Umm Naser project had not been affected by the boycott. ...
Abu Safia explained that the lagoon which collapsed is a smaller one built to relieve pressure from the larger pool. He says there are plans to change the infrastructure in the area, and construction began two years ago with foreign aid, but several more years, and more money, are needed. The recent political sanctions of the PA have slowed down the work, he added.
"Foreign experts are unable to come to Gaza," he said. ..
Several major sewage treatment projects funded by foreign donors, including one in Umm Naser, were frozen after Hamas won elections last year.
Seven Kassam rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning.
No casualties were reported in any of the incidents, but agricultural produce from farms south of Ashkelon sustained damage.
UPDATE II: Here is a story from earlier this month that demonstrates how this cartoon is literally true. From The Jerusalem Post: Israeli metal used for Kassam rockets. (via Elder of Ziyon and Soccer Dad)
A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who worked as a metal merchant at the Karni crossing between Israel and the Strip was arrested by the Shin Bet last month for allegedly selling pipes he bought in Israel to terrorist groups that used them to manufacture Kassams, it was released for publication on Sunday.
On February 9, the Shin Bet arrested Amar Azk, 37. During his interrogation, he confessed selling the pipes to Hamas and other terrorist organizations that manufactured Kassam rockets, fired almost daily at Israel. ...
The pipes that were sold to Zak were intended for the construction of a sewage system in Gaza.
From The New York Sun: Thompson Takes Bites Out of Giuliani, Romney.
The latest USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Friday through Sunday, on the presidential race is out, and it's a humdinger. It's hard to say what the headline even is. Here are a few tries, though:
* Romney's support drops to within the margin of error of not existing (that's 3% support in a poll where the margin of error is 3%).
* Giuliani's support drops 13 percentage points since the last USA Today/ Gallup poll, March 2-4 (that's gotta hurt).
* Fred Thompson (not running, by the way) is now the No. 3 in the GOP field, at 12%.
From CBS News: Possible Fred Thompson Candidacy Animates Conservatives.
The possibility that former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee might run for president has animated many conservative leaders who are unhappy with the GOP choices that exist now.
They consider Thompson a strong conservative with stellar communications skills and an interesting resume that includes success and fame as a movie and TV actor. All this reminds many of Ronald Reagan, an icon of the right.
"Fred says he might run and he would be a real threat for the Republican nomination," says a prominent conservative who is neutral in the presidential race so far. The problem: Is Thompson willing to devote the time and energy needed for a run?
From WKRN Nashville: Video: Thompson Aid Speculates On Possilbe Presidential Run.
From Pajamas Media: Fred Thompson on the movie "300".
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
From FOX News: Iran to Suspend Cooperation With Nuke Watchdog Over Sanctions.
Iran isn't backing down after a unanimous vote by the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions, announcing Sunday that it will partially suspend cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency and will be adjusting relations with those nations who voted for sanctions.
Iranian officials called the vote by the U.N. Security Council in response to Tehran's refusal to stop enriching uranium "illegal and bullying."
"The Security Council has to be aware of its own position and status. Actions that are illegal, unwarranted and unjustified will reduce the credibility of the Security Council," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said through a translator while in New York.
"A few select countries don't have the right to abuse the Security Council," Mottaki added.
In response to the vote, the Iranian Cabinet also decided to stop informing U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency of any new steps or decisions in its uclear weapons program, Gholam Hossein Elham, a government spokesman said on state television.
Sunday's decision is a response to "Saturday night's illegal and bullying resolution by the Security Council," Elham said. The suspension of cooperation "will continue until Iran's nuclear case is referred back to the IAEA from the U.N Security Council."
While Iran stands firm against the world, international pressure continues to mount for Tehran to release 15 British soldiers who Iranian officials say had crossed into Tehran's territory. Accused of trespassing, Britain says the sailors and marines were conducting a routine inspection of a merchant ship in the disputed Shatt Al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq when they were captured Friday by Iranian forces.
UPDATE -- March 26: Gateway Pundit has related video: Activist Zand-Bonazzi Says Mottaki's UN Speech Was "Regular Regime Taqiyya".
From The New York Times: Democrats See a 'Document Gap' in Dismissals .
The dismissal of eight United States attorneys has elicited a long and ever-growing list of theories by Democrats on Capitol Hill about ulterior motives and suspicious coincidences. Now there is a new one: the document gap.
Democrats on Capitol Hill were privately urging reporters on Wednesday to press the Bush administration to explain why in the thousands of pages of e-mail messages and documents turned over to investigators, there is almost nothing from Nov. 16 to Dec. 7, the day seven of the firings occurred. In contrast, there are hundreds of pages from the weeks after the dismissals. One of the last e-mail messages before this period was sent by D. Kyle Sampson, then chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, to Harriet E. Miers, then the White House counsel, and includes a request that the White House approve the plan. “We’ll stand by for a green light from you,” said the Nov. 15 e-mail message.
From AP: Giuliani: Give Gonzales benefit of doubt.
Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney in New York, said Thursday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should get "the benefit of the doubt" in the uproar over the firings of federal prosecutors.
"The president has addressed it," Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, said. "The attorney general's an honorable man. He's a decent man. He should be given a chance to explain and everybody should sort of give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him to explain."
Republicans and Democrats alike have questioned Gonzales' leadership and some have called for him to resign as Congress investigates whether the firings of eight prosecutors over the past year were politically motivated.
From ABC News Political Radar: Gonzales: 'I am not going to resign'.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told a crowd in St. Louis, Mo. that he's happy to be out of Washington - if just for a day. The embattled head of the Justice Department is standing firm amid calls for him to step down, telling reporters, "I'm not going to resign. I'm going to stay focused on protecting our kids," a nod to the Project Safe Childhood program, a Justice Department initiative against online predators and child exploitation.
UPDATE -- March 25: From FOX News: Feinstein Calls for Gonzales' Resignation.
The White House and a key Republican senator reaffirmed support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales even as more Democrats called for his resignation over the botched firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year.
"I believe he should step down," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on "FOX News Sunday." "I don't like saying this. This is not my natural personality at all. The nation is not well served by this."
This cartoon was originally posted on March 29, 2005, and is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our latest book Black & White World III, which can be ordered via Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is using "hit squads" to crack down on opposition politicians and activists, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said in an interview published Tuesday.
Speaking to Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, Tsvangirai said: "Instead of random beatings at police stations, (Mugabe) is now using hit squads, unidentified men, unidentified vehicles.
"But we know these are units of state agents that have been given this assignment."
Tsvangirai and dozens of other activists were severely beaten as they tried to stage an anti-government rally on March 11.
The opposition leader laid the blame squarely at Mugabe's door, telling the Telegraph: "I can assess who is in charge of this -- it is coming directly from Mugabe."
"Mugabe is a violent man and he doesn't hide it, especially where his power is threatened ... No excuses, no regrets, the defiance epitomises his attitude."
The country's Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, however, denied Tsvangirai's allegations, saying bluntly: "It is a flat lie."
Global pressure mounted on Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday, with former colonial ruler Britain calling for tougher EU sanctions over his "disgraceful" crackdown on opposition leaders.
Criticism of the Zimbabwean regime's violent campaign against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has deepened in recent days, with other African leaders joining a Western outcry over Mugabe's tactics.
Britain has been among the most vocal critics, and Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday said he wanted Europe to take a tougher line with the 83-year-old head of state.
"We will press the European Union to widen the political sanctions that were introduced in 2002 and introduced very much as a result of our prompting at the time," Blair told parliament.
Mugabe himself and his entourage are banned from travelling to the EU under sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in 2002 for human rights violations.
And from The Telegarph: Mugabe associate defies EU travel ban
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested with other members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Wednesday after police stormed the party's headquarters, officials said.
Witnesses said armed riot police surrounded and then entered the building in downtown Harare where the MDC leadership had been due to hold a news conference.
From The Jerusalem Post: Iraq steps up anti-Israel boycott.
The US-backed Iraqi government is enforcing the Arab boycott of Israel with increasing frequency, The Jerusalem Post has learned, with the number of boycott-related incidents involving US firms operating in Iraq nearly quadrupling last year, according to official US statistics. ...
US law bars American firms from complying with boycott-related requests and requires them to report any such incidents to the authorities. These might include demands made of companies to verify that their products do not contain components made in the Jewish state or signing forms attesting that they do not do business with Israel.
In referencing the above article, Charles Johnson commented:
Why are Americans fighting and dying to support this disgusting behavior? ... The single biggest mistake the US made in Iraq was not imposing a government free of shari’a law, and free of this kind of sickening Arab antisemitism. If we had treated imperial Japan with the same lackadaisical, "assume the best" attitude after World War II, we'd still be enemies today.
For a thorough, must-read explanation of how the war with Japan compares to our war with Islamists, I'll again point out "No Substitute for Victory": The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism by John Lewis. Earlier this month, Dr. Lewis was to give this speech at George Mason University, but the event was canceled after complaints from Muslim students. Fortunately, the speech has since been rescheduled for April 24. Having personally experienced this lecture, I can highly recommend it. More about the controversy at Diana Hsieh, EGO, and Gus Van Horn.
And Debbie Schlussel has more on the Iraqi boycott.
Amid growing calls for his resignation, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales apologized to the nation's U.S. attorneys for his handling of the firings of eight people who used to hold the position, according to a Justice Department spokesman.
"The attorney general reiterated how important the U.S. attorneys are to him as his representatives in the communities they serve and as prosecutors charged with protecting their communities from violent criminals, drug dealers and predators," spokesman Brian Roehrkasse told CNN's Terry Frieden. Gonzales made his remarks in a conference call.
A Justice Department official said all 93 U.S. attorneys were invited to join the call, but it was not clear how many of them did.
"On the call, he apologized not for the dismissals, but rather for the handling of the situation, including that the suggestion the prosecutors had performed poorly was ultimately discussed publicly," the official said.
"He encouraged them, as members of his team, to be open with him and share any thoughts or concerns they have during this period," Roehrkasse said.
The move did not appear to mollify Gonzales' critics. "I think it's highly unlikely he survives," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, told NBC's "Meet the Press." "I wouldn't be surprised if, a week from now, he's no longer attorney general."
He added about Gonzales, "He's bungled it."
Michelle Malkin has more: The fate of Alberto Gonzales. [Fixed typo in Michelle's name (sorry, Michelle!). Thanks to Casey Smith. -- Ed.]
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
UPDATE -- March 20: From CNN: Bush stands behind Gonzales in prosecutor firings.
Israel rejected the newly anointed Palestinian unity government Sunday after the Palestinian prime minister said the deal didn't rule out "popular resistance against occupation."
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet that the Palestinian government's platform "includes problematic elements that cannot be acceptable to Israel and the international community, like the right to resist, the use of terror and the non-recognition of Israel."
The Cabinet voted 19-2 to back Olmert's boycott, dashing hopes that the Palestinians and Israelis will sit down for the peace talks that the formation of a unity government was supposed to help facilitate.
Other aims of uniting the Hamas and Fatah factions are quelling a bloody feud between the two groups and ending a Western boycott of the Palestinian territories that has crippled the Hamas-led government since it toppled the moderate Fatah party in January 2005.
The United States and Israel consider Hamas a terror organization.
But while Israel was quick to denounce the new Palestinian government, the U.S. responded more cautiously, saying the deal was still under review. Meanwhile, the European Union and Norway welcomed the coalition, and Norway said it was willing to lift sanctions on the government.
Israel rejected the deal before it was even forged because of remarks by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, a Hamas hardliner who said before signing the deal that the Palestinian government would emphasize "resistance with all of its means, including the popular resistance against occupation."
Resistance, said Haniya, "is a legitimate right for the Palestinian people, a right that has been guaranteed by all international resolutions and conventions. It is the right of our people to defend themselves against the Israeli occupation."
Traditionally, Hamas' use of the word "occupation" has not been confined to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and, historically, Gaza; it also refers to the state of Israel, which Hamas says is part of the Palestinian territories.
In rejecting the government, Israel called on other countries to pressure the Palestinian government into accepting three conditions for lifting the international boycott: that Hamas renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and accept past peace agreements.
UDPATE -- March 25: From CNN: U.N. chief balks at Hamas talks, meets with Abbas.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, declaring the atmosphere "not fully ripe," shunned officials from the Islamic militant Hamas group on Sunday, dealing a setback to the new Palestinian government's efforts to win international recognition.
Ban's comments came on a day of high-profile diplomacy, with the U.N. chief and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both in the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Both hope their clout will help to prod the two sides to start talking peace again.
Hamas, branded a terrorist group by the U.S. and European Union, joined the more moderate Fatah Party in a coalition government last week. The bitter rivals have expressed hope their alliance would end international isolation of the previous hard-line Hamas government.
U.S. and European diplomats have held a stream of contacts with moderate members of the new coalition while avoiding Hamas ministers.
While welcoming the new government's formation, Ban said "the atmosphere is not fully ripe" for talks with Hamas, which has killed more than 250 Israelis in suicide bombings and refuses to recognize the Jewish state.
Six Islamic religious leaders have filed suit against US Airways for having them removed from a domestic flight last November.
Police escorted the imams, all residents of the United States, off a plane in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after passengers and airline staff said the men were acting suspiciously.
Some of the men had prayed in the airport lobby before boarding, and passengers were concerned when two of the men requested seat belt extensions. ...
The men said the arrest was degrading and a violation of their civil rights, and the event provoked outrage from several minority groups. At a news conference Tuesday morning, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the government must work to protect the civil liberties of every citizen. ...
In a statement regarding the incident, US Airways defended the flight crew. ...
"This was not about prayer, but rather about behavior on the airplane that led to a decision by our crew members -- backed by local law enforcement -- to remove these customers from the airplane for further questioning."
In addition to US Airways, the imams are suing the Minneapolis Metropolitan Airports Commission.
But the suit doesn't stop there -- some passengers are included, too. From the Star Tribune: The real target of the 6 imams' 'discrimination' suit by Katherine Kersten. (via Debra Burlingame)
[T]he most alarming aspect of the imams' suit is buried in paragraph 21 of their complaint. It describes "John Doe" defendants whose identity the imams' attorneys are still investigating. It reads: "Defendants 'John Does' were passengers ... who contacted U.S. Airways to report the alleged 'suspicious' behavior of Plaintiffs' performing their prayer at the airport terminal."
Paragraph 22 adds: "Plaintiffs will seek leave to amend this Complaint to allege true names, capacities, and circumstances supporting [these defendants'] liability ... at such time as Plaintiffs ascertain the same."
In plain English, the imams plan to sue the "John Does," too.
Who are these unnamed culprits? The complaint describes them as "an older couple who was sitting [near the imams] and purposely turn[ed] around to watch" as they prayed. "The gentleman ('John Doe') in the couple ... picked up his cellular phone and made a phone call while watching the Plaintiffs pray," then "moved to a corner" and "kept talking into his cellular phone."
In retribution for this action, the unnamed couple probably will be dragged into court soon and face the prospect of hiring a lawyer, enduring hostile questioning and paying huge legal bills. The same fate could await other as-yet-unnamed passengers on the US Airways flight who came forward as witnesses.
The imams' attempt to bully ordinary passengers marks an alarming new front in the war on airline security. Average folks, "John Does" like you and me, initially observed and reported the imams' suspicious behavior on Nov. 20. Such people are our "first responders" against terrorism. But the imams' suit may frighten such individuals into silence, as they seek to avoid the nightmare of being labeled bigots and named as defendants.
Also this week, The New York Times saw fit to defend CAIR against charges that the Muslim group is tainted by terrorist connections. At Protein Wisdom, Karl provides the context conveniently evaded by the NYT. (via Little Green Footballs).
At FrontPageMag.com, Patrick Poole recaps more of CAIR's history: CAIR's Blood Money.
And there's at least one Muslim group in America with a different opinion on this issue. From the American Islamic Forum for Democracy: Press Release: Not All Muslims Support CAIR Plan to Sue U.S. Airways on Behalf of Six Imams. (via Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi)
1. We will not accept the victimization agenda of organizations like CAIR. Lawsuits like the one announced today exploit the climate of political correctness and at the end of the day are harmful to the Muslim minority in America.
2. Make no mistake, this type of agenda and policy direction of organizations like CAIR only represents its own membership and its own donors. ...
3. One of the frontlines in the war on terror is at the airports and at the gates. While the imams were clearly removed for their behavior after entering the plane, it should be made clear that many less rigid but equally pious Muslims believe (including 3 out of 6 of the imams for that matter) that the prayer they performed could have been performed upon landing in Phoenix due to travel dispensations in Islam or privately on time while seated on the flight. Muslims believe that God is forgiving and does not expect religion to be "too difficult".
UPDATE I -- March 16: Worth pointing out again, from The Wall Street Journal in December: On a Wing and a Prayer; Grievance theater at Minneapolis International Airport by Debra Burlingame.
And Tim Sumner has not only reposted USAirways contact information for showing your support, he also has a suggestion:
If someone, acting in good faith, reports suspicious behavior or items in airports or aboard a plane, they should be federally protected from civil action, as should the crews be who act upon those reports. And the safeguard is already in place as those who maliciously or falsely report such things are punishable under federal law for disrupting a commercial aircraft.
UPDATE II -- March 17: From The Washington Times in December: Imams' suit risks 'chill' on security by Audrey Hudson.
"If such a suit could proceed, it would have a chilling effect on the willingness of people to provide information that authorities need to act when people are engaged in wrongdoing," said Mark Behrens, a liability defense lawyer with the Washington firm of Shook, Hardy & Bacon. ...
"The implications are that if you appear to just buzz about what you perceive to be a security threat then you are a legal wrongdoer and responsible for damages, even if all you did was notify the authorities. And that would have a tremendous chilling effect, win or lose.
"Unless this is thrown out of court early, the lesson learned will be that next time someone sees something, it may be safer to stay quiet and hope someone else reports it. Even if the charges get thrown out or dropped, this is an announcement that you could be caught up in litigation for years and spending your savings on lawyers."
And the Mark Levin Fan Web site has posted audio commentary by Levin and a guest on his show, M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
UPDATE III -- March 18: LGF has posted a Hannity & Colmes video in which Steven Emerson gives a breif history of CAIR.
UPDATE IV -- March 18: Much more info on the lawsuit at The Washtington Times Insider Politics Blog.
UPDATE V -- March 24: From The Washtington Times Hill bill protects flying public by Audrey Hudson.
House Republicans are pushing legislation to protect airline passengers from lawsuits for reporting suspicious behavior that might be linked to a terrorist attack.
Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico Republican, introduced the Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act of 2007 on Thursday, a week after a lawsuit was filed by a group of Muslim imams who were taken off a US Airways flight in November.
It is "unconscionable" that those who report suspicious activity could be "terrorized in our own court system in our own country," Mr. Pearce said on the House floor yesterday afternoon.
Continuing the global warming theme: This cartoon was originally posted on December 6, 2005, and is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our latest book Black & White World III, which can be ordered via Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
From AP: Frostbite ends Bancroft-Arnesen trek. (hat tip Jack Friedman)
A North Pole expedition meant to bring attention to global warming was called off after one of the explorers got frostbite. The explorers, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, on Saturday called off what was intended to be a 530-mile trek across the Arctic Ocean after Arnesen suffered frostbite in three of her toes, and extreme cold temperatures drained the batteries in some of their electronic equipment.
"Ann said losing toes and going forward at all costs was never part of the journey," said Ann Atwood, who helped organize the expedition. ...
[T]he latest trek got off to a bad start. The day they set off from Ward Hunt Island, a plane landing near the women hit their gear, punching a hole in Bancroft's sled and damaging one of Arnesen's snowshoes.
They repaired the snowshoe with binding from a ski, but Atwood said the patch job created pressure on Arnesen's left foot, which led to blisters that then turned into frostbite.
Then there was the cold — quite a bit colder, Atwood said, then Bancroft and Arnesen had expected. One night they measured the temperature inside their tent at 58 degrees below zero, and outside temperatures were exceeding 100 below zero at times, Atwood said.
"My first reaction when they called to say there were calling it off was that they just sounded really, really cold," Atwood said. ...
Atwood said there was some irony that a trip to call attention to global warming was scuttled in part by extreme cold temperatures.
"They were experiencing temperatures that weren't expected with global warming," Atwood said. "But one of the things we see with global warming is unpredictability."
UPDATE I -- March 16: Making this story even more ironic, CNN reports: Winter has been world's warmest on record.
And Newsday has a report on a debate held in NYC this week on whether or not global warming is a crisis: The climate's just perfect for a debate.
This issue will never be resolved in one brainy evening, even one as pointed and personal as this. In the previous five IQ2 U.S. debates, there hadn't been all that much mind-changing in the room. But this time, there was. Before the debate, not-a-crisis got 30 percent of the vote. After, the number rose to 46 percent. The is-a-crisis tally dropped from 57 to 42. The undecideds dipped slightly, from 13 to 12.
BECK: Just in the last few centuries, we have had global warming cycles that were far worse than that. I read in "The Times" piece today that there have been several times in the last, I think it was 15,000 years, where there have been cycles that were 20 times worse than this right now. True?
EASTERBROOK: That's correct. Most of those that were of that magnitude occurred about 10,000 to about 15,000 years ago, and the ones that have occurred in the past 8,000 years or so are not as profound as that.
The big ones were then, but nonetheless, there have been at least ten times when global warming and the rates of global warming have been greater than we`re seeing right now.
From The Telegraph: Scientists threatened for 'climate denial'.
Scientists who questioned mankind's impact on climate change have received death threats and claim to have been shunned by the scientific community.
They say the debate on global warming has been "hijacked" by a powerful alliance of politicians, scientists and environmentalists who have stifled all questioning about the true environmental impact of carbon dioxide emissions.
Timothy Ball, a former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, has received five deaths threats by email since raising concerns about the degree to which man was affecting climate change.
One of the emails warned that, if he continued to speak out, he would not live to see further global warming.
"Western governments have pumped billions of dollars into careers and institutes and they feel threatened," said the professor.
"I can tolerate being called a sceptic because all scientists should be sceptics, but then they started calling us deniers, with all the connotations of the Holocaust. That is an obscenity. It has got really nasty and personal."
Last week, Professor Ball appeared in The Great Global Warming Swindle, a Channel 4 documentary in which several scientists claimed the theory of man-made global warming had become a "religion", forcing alternative explanations to be ignored.
Richard Lindzen, the professor of Atmospheric Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology - who also appeared on the documentary - recently claimed: "Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves labelled as industry stooges.
"The Great Global Warming Swindle" is an excellent, must-see British documentary that shows how global warming is treated as a religious orthodoxy that cannot be questioned. Little Green Footballs has posted the Flash version of the one-hour-plus film. YouTube has a version in eight parts for easier viewing starting here. (LGF also noted an article about an oceanographer who says his views were misrepresented in the film).
UPDATE I -- March 14: This books appears to have much of the information presented in the documentary (particularly in regards to climate history): The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (and Environmentalism) by Christopher C. Horner.
EASTERBROOK: It's disturbing as a scientist, because there`s definitely a move today in the direction that anybody who doesn`t sign on to CO2 as the cause of global warming is somehow either stupid or has some political reason or just some financial reason for saying that.
And it is true that scientists are being discouraged from putting out anything which is contrary to the CO2 version of global warming.
DOBBS: You say that CO2 doesn't cause it?
EASTERBROOK: That's correct. If you look at the last century, the warming is about one degree. But for the first 45 years, there was no rise in CO2, so you can`t blame half of it on CO2.
The big rise in CO2 was in 1945 to the present and during that time, during the first 30 years, the global climate actually got colder, when it should have been getting warmer. And it's only in the last 30 years where global climates have warmed in concert with rise of CO2. Otherwise, CO2 is totally out of phase.
From The Washington Times: Libby pardon seen as risk for political grief.
Richard M. Nixon. Caspar Weinberger. Marc Rich.
Is President Bush willing to risk -- on behalf of ex-White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. -- the kind of political grief that pardons for those three men brought the presidents who granted them?
Mr. Nixon resigned the presidency over the Watergate scandal. Mr. Weinberger was the defense secretary charged in the Iran-Contra scandal. Mr. Rich was a fugitive financier and his ex-wife a major contributor to President Clinton.
All received presidential pardons processed outside normal channels. As in those cases, Mr. Bush would have to bypass the regular clemency process to pardon Libby for his four convictions last week for lying to investigators in the Valerie Plame CIA-leak case.
Such pardons historically have gotten presidents into political trouble.
A number of conservative politicians, bloggers and commentators, including National Review and Wall Street Journal editorial writers, want Libby pardoned -- preferably now. Top Democrats have demanded that Mr. Bush pledge not to pardon Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.
From IBD Editorials: The Waxman Cometh.
From CNN: 300 Spartans sack movie theatres.
The ancient battle of Thermopylae was the stuff of 2007's first certified blockbuster as the bloody action tale "300" debuted with $70 million over opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.
That's about $233,000 for every one of the legendary 300 Spartan soldiers who fought off a much larger Persian force in the epic battle.
"On a Spartan-by-Spartan basis, that's a lot of money," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "Summer came a little early, because this is a summer-style opening."
The number of movie-goers for the Warner Bros. epic "300" outnumbered crowds for the rest of the top-10 movies combined. If the estimate holds when final numbers are released Monday, "300" would break the record for best March debut ever, topping the $68 million haul for "Ice Age: The Meltdown" last year.
"300" played in 3,103 theaters, about 850 fewer than the "Ice Age" sequel, making its box-office performance even more notable. The movie averaged $22,567 a theater, a whopping number for a wide release.
The total for "300" includes $3.4 million from 62 IMAX theaters, a record opening weekend for the large-screen format.
Buoyed by "300" and some solid holdovers, Hollywood business soared, with the top-12 movies taking in $139.4 million, up 49 percent from the same weekend last year.
For some historical perspective, see Victor Davis Hanson's History and the Movie "300".
... 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.
If critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus — who long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian autocracy, free men in superior fashion dying for their liberty, their enslaved enemies being whipped to enslave others.
Also see the excellent History Channel documentary Last Stand of the 300.
From Reuters: U.S. will not rebuff Iran, Syria on talks about Iraq.
The United States on Thursday sent its clearest signal yet it is open to bilateral talks with Iran and Syria by saying it will not rebuff them if they wish to discuss stabilizing Iraq at a regional meeting this weekend.
"If we are approached over orange juice by the Syrians or the Iranians to discuss an Iraq-related issue that is germane to this topic -- stable, secure, peaceful, democratic Iraq -- we are not going to turn and walk away," David Satterfield, the State Department's Iraq coordinator, told reporters.
He said whether or not such talks were held would depend in part on the Syrian and Iranian stance at the Saturday conference in Baghdad, which will gather Iraq's neighbors as well as the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
The United States accuses Iran and Syria of fomenting the insurgency in Iraq, where violence rages four years after U.S.-led forces invaded the country to topple former dictator Saddam Hussein.
Washington has accused Iranian elements of providing sophisticated roadside bombs used against the roughly 140,000 U.S. forces in Iraq. It accuses Syria of allowing militants to enter Iraq and harboring Baathists who support the insurgency.
Iran and Syria both deny fueling the violence in Iraq.
The United States, which has no diplomatic relations with Iran, has had contacts with Iranian officials in group settings -- including as recently as September -- but has resisted bilateral talks.
UPDATE I: Related ...
Iraqi insurgents being trained in Iran, U.S. says (CNN, April 11, 2007)
US troops attacked by Iranian military last year (The Jerusalem Post, March 25, 2007)
Iran's influence grows in Iraq, region (Chicago Tribune, March 7, 2007)
Iraqi extremists trained in Iran: US intelligence (AFP, February 28, 2007)
Military: more evidence of Iran-made explosives (Seattle Times, February 27, 2007)
U.S.: Large Cache of Weapons Discovered in Iraq Traceable to Iran (AP via FOX News, February 26, 2007)
Iraqi insurgents using Austrian rifles from Iran (The Telegraph, February 13, 2007)
Iran involvement suspected in Karbala compound attack (CNN, January 31, 2007)
Donkeys harboring weapons stopped at Iran-Iraq border (Army Times, November 2, 2006)
Barbero: Iran training Shiite insurgents (AP via Army Times, August 24, 2006)
Casey cites Iran hand in attacks by Iraqi Shiites (The Washington Times, June 23, 2006)
Rumsfeld accuses Iran of troublemaking in Iraq (AP via Army Times, March 7, 2006)
EXCLUSIVE: Iraq Weapons -- Made in Iran? (ABC News, March 6, 2006)
Rumsfeld: Iraq bombs 'clearly from Iran' (CNN, August 10, 2005)
UDPATE II -- March 10: From MSNBC: U.S., Iranian envoys hold direct talks on Iraq.
In their first direct talks since the Iraq war began, U.S. and Iranian envoys traded harsh words and blamed each other for the country’s crisis Saturday at a one-day international conference that some hoped would help end their 27-year diplomatic freeze. ...
During the talks, U.S. envoy David Satterfield pointed to his briefcase which he said contained documents proving Iran was arming Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq.
“Your accusations are merely a cover for your failures in Iraq,” Iran’s chief envoy Abbas Araghchi shot back, according to an official familiar to the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
UDPATE III -- March 11: From MSNBC: Bush presses Iran, Syria to help Iraq.
President Bush said Sunday that Iran and Syria need to follow through on pledges to help Iraq, but left the door open to additional contacts between Washington and its chief Mideast foes.
"If they really want to help stabilize Iraq, there are things for them to do, such as cutting off weapons flows and or the flow of suicide bombers into Iraq," Bush said during an appearance here with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
The cartoon was originally posted on October 30, 2005, and is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our latest book Black & White World III, which can be ordered via Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was found guilty Tuesday of four of five counts of perjury, lying to the FBI and obstructing an investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity.
Libby was found not guilty on count three, which was the subject of late questioning Monday by the 11 jurors. The jury reached a verdict on the 10th day of deliberations and just hours after they had received an answer to a three-part question about count three, which alleges that Libby lied to the FBI about a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper.
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said his team was "gratified" by the verdict.
"Obviously, we are gratified by the jury's verdict today. The jury worked very long and hard and deliberated at some length over the charges and returned a verdict on four of the counts. The jury was obviously convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had lied and obstructed justice on a serious matter," Fitzgerald said. ...
Defense attorney Ted Wells said he was very "disappointed" in the verdict and would try to get the verdict overturned.
"Despite our disappointment in the jurors' verdict, we believe in the American justice system and we believe in the jury system. We intend to file a motion for a new trial and, if that is denied, we will appeal the conviction, and we have every confidence that ultimately Mr. Libby will be vindicated," he said.
President Bush on Tuesday named Democrat Donna Shalala and Republican Bob Dole to head a commission to investigate problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Substandard conditions and a confusing bureaucracy at an outpatient facility for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were revealed in a series of articles in the Washington Post.
"It's unacceptable to me, it's unacceptable to you, it's unacceptable to our country, and it's not going to continue," Bush said in a speech to the American Legion.
"My decisions have put our kids in harm's way. And I'm concerned about the fact that when they come back they don't get the full treatment they deserve."
Michelle Malkin has a number of good links related to his issue, including round-ups for milbloggers:
Newsflash: Government-run health care sucks
Taking care of the troops
Milbloggers on WaPo series: Broken system, biased report
From CNN: Coulter under fire for anti-gay slur.
Prominent politicians from both parties and a gay-rights group on Saturday condemned right-wing commentator Ann Coulter for her reference Friday to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards as a "faggot."
"Ann Coulter's use of an anti-gay slur yesterday was un-American and indefensible," Edwards said in a posting on his Web site, www.johnedwards.com. ...
Edwards' campaign posted the video on their Web site, and asked readers to help them "raise $100,000 in 'Coulter Cash' this week to keep this campaign charging ahead and fight back against the politics of bigotry."
Coulter made her comment in Washington during an address to the 34th annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, during which she gave her opinions about the Democrats' slate of presidential hopefuls.
"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I'm - so, kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards, so I think I'll just conclude here and take your questions," said Coulter, whose comment was followed by applause.
From FOX News: John Edwards Breaks Silence on Coulter's 'Faggot' Barb.
Michelle Malkin comments:
Her "faggot" joke was not just a distraction from all the good that was highlighted and represented at the conference. It was the equivalent of a rhetorical fragging--an intentionally-tossed verbal grenade that exploded in her own fellow ideological soldiers' tent. ...
With a single word, Coulter sullied the hard work of hundreds of CPAC participants and exhibitors and tarred the collective reputation of thousands of CPAC attendees.
UPDATE -- March 6: From FOX News: Ann Coulter Fires Back at Critics Over John Edwards 'Faggot' Barb.
From IBD Editorials: Lifestyles Of The Rich, Famous.
Gore, driven by a narcissistic compulsion to save the planet, has been nagging Americans about energy conservation for years. Drive a smaller car or, even better, buy a hybrid. Live in a more modest house. Put on a sweater, as Jimmy Carter suggested, and keep that home cooler in the winter.
Does John Edwards, who lives in this enormous house in North Carolina, know what it is like to be "struggling to get by?"
Don't turn the air conditioner up so high in the summer. Replace those incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones. Go green even if it hurts.
These aren't so much tokens of good advice as they are commandments from on high.
So how does Gore live? Like the privileged leaders of the Soviet ruling party who led lives that were far more comfortable than those of the peasants they ruled.
When he isn't hectoring Americans about their lifestyles or basking in the praise of Hollywood stars who burn large quantities of fossil fuel to preach energy use in all corners of the world, Gore luxuriates in a grand dacha that has 20 rooms and a pool house. And it's an energy vacuum.
From ABC News: Al Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth'? -- A $30,000 Utility Bill.
Back home in Tennessee, safely ensconced in his suburban Nashville home, Vice President Al Gore is no doubt basking in the Oscar awarded to "An Inconvenient Truth," the documentary he inspired and in which he starred. But a local free-market think tank is trying to make that very home emblematic of what it deems Gore's environmental hypocrisy.
Armed with Gore's utility bills for the last two years, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research charged Monday [Feb. 26] that the gas and electric bills for the former vice president's 20-room home and pool house devoured nearly 221,000 kilowatt-hours in 2006, more than 20 times the national average of 10,656 kilowatt-hours. ...
[The Gore] family tries to offset [their] carbon footprint by purchasing their power through the local Green Power Switch program — electricity generated through renewable resources such as solar, wind, and methane gas, which create less waste and pollution.
Iowahawk has more: Repent, Sinners! Earn Eco-Salvation the Quick and Easy Iowahawk Way.
Thanks to everyone purchasing items from the new Cox & Forkum CafePress Store. We can make a little money with the store, so your support is appreciated.
We've updated the store in a couple of ways, like adding a section featuring the Cox & Forkum Logo, and adding some shirts with the designs on the back and a logo on the front -- like this Victory Sign Jersey.
So far the most popular designs are the ones tweaking the left, like the Victory Sign. Another best-seller is below (click on image to see products):
I figured it was time to put the "peace symbol" in its true context. But what's really ironic is that the design looks perfect on "Military Green."
We'll be slowly adding more products, so check back often!
UPDATE I -- March 2: As per requests, I've added some bumper stickers:
UPDATE II: As per request, I've added women's V-neck shirts.