Friday, February 17, 2006

The Avian Flu Hits France

It didn't take long for France to go from warning its people about the Bird Flu to actually dealing with it on its own soil:

PARIS (Reuters) - Bird flu spread to France for the first time with the discovery on Friday that a dead duck had tested positive for the virus, although it was not yet clear the fowl was carrying the deadly H5N1 strain.

Amid reports the disease was spreading in fowl in Europe and the Middle East, the World Health Organization confirmed that an Iraqi who died in January was the country's second human bird flu victim.

Officials said the disease had infected chickens in Egypt for the first time, while Azerbaijan and Slovenia reported more cases of H5N1, which is transmissible to humans.

The H5N1 strain was probably present in a wild duck found in eastern France, according to test results.


The westward path of the H5N1 virus is something to take note of, especially for local governments and health organizations.

The Madness Continues

As if the riots weren't enough, one Muslim cleric is now calling for the murder of the cartoonists who drew the Mohammed cartoons:

A Pakistani cleric announced a $1 million bounty for killing a cartoonist who drew the Prophet Muhammad as thousands joined street protests after Friday prayers...

Prayer leader Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi announced the bounty for killing a cartoonist to about 1,000 people outside the historic Mohabat Khan mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

He said the mosque and the Jamia Ashrafia religious school he leads would give a $25,000 reward and a car for killing the cartoonist who drew the prophet caricatures _ considered blasphemous by Muslims. He said a local jewelers' association would also give $1 million, but no representative of the association was available to confirm the offer.

"Whoever has done this despicable and shameful act, he has challenged the honor of Muslims. Whoever will kill this cursed man, he will get $1 million dollars from the association of the jewelers bazaar, one million rupees ($16,700) from Masjid Mohabat Khan and 500,000 rupees ($8,350) and a car from Jamia Ashrafia as a reward," Qureshi said.


Radical Islamists like this should not go unchecked. The world would be greatly served if mainstream Muslims joined the ranks of Western Christians, Jews, and secularists alike in condemning statements of this kind, and deeming as unacceptable anything that prescribes to violent solutions.

Fighting the GWOT means isolating the terrorists and the radicals who submit to their ideology. The majority of muslims don't agree with this ideology, yet it is crucial that they make an effort to make that known. If anything, it might make the radical Islamists realize that they don't have the entire Muslim faith behind them when they make statements like the ones above.


UPDATE:

Radical clerics don't only put bounties on the heads of innocent people, but they also instigate malicious riots like this, also targeted at innnocent people:

(CNN) -- Eleven people were killed and an Italian consulate was burned in Libya on Friday night during protests to denounce the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, sources in Libya said.

There also was a "high number" of injuries, said an official with the Italian Embassy in Tripoli.

In the port city of Benghazi in northeast Libya, protesters set the Italian Consulate on fire, but it was safely evacuated and no employees were injured, said Francesco Trupiano, Italy's ambassador to Libya.


When will it stop?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Iraqi Documents

Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard has been covering the story of Iraq's untranslated government documents for some time now, but today's piece is one of the most important to date:

FOR MORE than a year, THE WEEKLY STANDARD has sought the release of documents captured in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have pressured Pentagon officials, cajoled intelligence analysts, listened to would-be whistleblowers, interviewed Iraqis and filed numerous Freedom of Information Act requests with multiple government agencies. Today, because of two developments that have nothing to do with these efforts, we will all learn more about the captured documents and what they tell us about our enemies in the global war on terror....

Tonight on ABC News, first on World News Tonight and later on Nightline, we will hear excerpts from 12 hours of audio recordings reportedly made of meetings Saddam Hussein had with his senior advisers over the course of a decade. The full tapes, or transcripts of them, will be made available Saturday. The recordings are said to contain numerous references to weapons of mass destruction and Iraq's thwarting of U.N. weapons inspectors. Already, some are touting the tapes as a "smoking gun" that will prove Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Others are dismissing the tapes as old news and insignificant. All of this before anyone other than a handful of people know what is on the tapes and before one second of any of the tapes has been played in public.


The information in these documents and on these tapes will have a lot of impact upon how we look back at the war in Iraq. The truth about WMDs, terrorist conncections, and the like may or may not surface, but it is certainly a very real possibility.

Whether or not any "smoking guns" emerge, we do know that Saddam had previously possessed and used WMDs, and there was a high potential that he still had them. Saddam was also involved with al Qaeda and other terrorists, regardless of the degree to which he was involved. And lastly, Saddam was a brutal dictator who oppressed his people.

These things were certainly enough to legitimize an invasion of Iraq in 2003, and they still justify the war, especially given all of the war's results: a democratic and free Iraq, a people freed from the rule of an oppressive dictator, an apporved constitution, and successful elections among other things. Even so, the documents may offer an even further justification.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The (Non)Objectivity Of CNN

When CNN did not show the Danish Cartoons portraying Mohammed, it was a perfectly legitimate decision. CNN stated that this decision was made in order to avoid inciting further conflict or uproar over the cartoons.

However, when CNN chose to run the newly released, highly inflammatory Abu Ghraib photos, the station put itself in direct contradiction with its earlier statements. The Abu Ghraib photos have just as much potential to fuel protest and anger in the Arab world as the cartoons. Therefore, logically, they should have received the same treatment as the cartoons.

But not at CNN.

Why the difference in handling the two issues? Given that the publication of both the cartoons and the photos will hurt our efforts in the GWOT, making the job of our soldiers harder and thereby endangering their lives, what separates the two issues in such a way that CNN can choose to handle them differently?

The answer: the Abu Ghraib photos give CNN a chance to take a shot at the Bush administration. The Abu Ghraib photos relfect poorly on the White House, whereas the cartoons are merely a foreign piece of hate material.

In other words, CNN's decision making process has nothing to with concern for unnecessarily offending Muslims or instigating more riots, but it has everything to do with seizing any opportunity to make the administration look bad. The network's bias agaisnt the president is as blatant as ever in this exmaple, and it would be foolish not to recognize it.

CNN has joined the ranks of The New York Times and The Washington post as yet another MSM outlet bent on bashing the president and his party.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Islamic Cartoon Insanity

When will they stop? When will it be "enough?" Probably not any time soon, after seeing the fervor of the protests today.

Things got very out of hand in Pakistan, where protesters set fire to western businesses:


Thousands of protesters rampaged through two cities Tuesday, storming into a diplomatic district and torching Western businesses and a provincial assembly in Pakistan's worst violence against the Prophet Muhammad drawings, officials said. At least two people were killed and 11 injured.

Security forces fired into the air as they struggled to contain the unrest in the eastern city of Lahore, where protesters burned down four buildings housing a hotel, two banks, a KFC restaurant and the office of a Norwegian cell phone company, Telenor.

U.S. and British embassy staffers were confined to their compounds until police dispersed the protesters, some of whom chanted, "Death to America!"


But they were even worse in Iran, where radical Islamists attacked the British embassy with Molotov cocktails, and then went after the German embassy:


The protesters, mostly religious seminary students, chanted "Death to Tony Blair", "Death to Britain" and Death to America" while throwing hundreds of stones at the embassy buildings, smashing many windows... "Insulting the Prophet disgusts us and nuclear energy gives us dignity," the crowd of about 200 people shouted. The West suspects Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons. Cheers erupted when a petrol bomb was thrown over the high wall surrounding the embassy compound in central Tehran. Several other petrol bombs struck the wall and the embassy's main gate. Scuffles broke out between the protesters and dozens of riot police trying to prevent the crowd from surging towards the embassy gates.

Stones and firecrackers were thrown at the nearby German embassy by a smaller crowd of protesters earlier on Tuesday. "Europe, Europe this is the last warning. Mohammad is the Prophet of compassion, America is the cause of all misery," the crowd of about 50 chanted outside the German embassy.


This is utter insanity. Protesting is a perfectly legal right, and one of the beauties of free societies. But torching embassies and businesses --let alone killing 2 people and injuring many more-- is certainly not. It is completely savage for individuals of a free state to abuse their right to protest and behave this way.

Pictures like these should never be possible.


I can't help but wonder, where does this hatred come from? There are many answers to that question, but in many cases, what it boils down to is that these protesters are simply completely misguided. The average Muslim does not commit these sorts of acts, despite the offense they might take to the cartoons portraying Mohammed.

The people who do these sorts of things are the radical Islamists who fly planes into bulidings, despise all that is western, and call America the Great Satan. Nonetheless, their actions are unacceptable, and should be condemned by both the West and Muslims who don't see violence as the answer to the world's problems.

For more on the effects of the cartoons, read this debate, which I found very intriguing and relevant.

Also, see this post about some more cartoon overreaction.

The Avian Flu Continues To Move Westward

First, this report from Germany:

BERLIN (Reuters) - Two dead swans in Germany have tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, the Agriculture and Consumer Protection ministry said on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the ministry told Reuters two of four dead swans found on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen had registered positive in an initial test for the virus.


And this warning from France:

The French food safety agency AFSSA warned of a heightened risk of the deadly bird flu virus reaching the country, and called for poultry to be kept indoors wherever possible.

The government is expected to announce on Wednesday extra safety measures based on AFSSA's recommendation, after Austria became the latest European country to report the presence of the deadly H5N1 virus.

France is Europe's biggest poultry producer, with free-range birds accounting for 17 percent of its production -- as well as western Europe's main crossroads for migratory birds, potential carriers of the virus.

According to a member of the AFSSA expert panel, it is only a matter of time before bird flu arrives in France.

"We have absolutely no control over the introduction of the virus by migratory birds that are about to start returning from Africa to Siberia, Scandinavia and Greenland. It is unavoidable," Jean Hars told AFP.

"All migratory species either fly over or stop in France," he added, warning that the deadly virus could be carried by pigeons, sparrows or birds of prey as well as by geese and ducks.


One thing is becoming clear: there is a very strong potential that the virus will eventually make it's way to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security has made state and local governments increasingly aware of this, but it remains the responsiblity of these local branches to prepare for the arrival of the virus.

Our ability to deal with the H5N1 virus hinges on the preparedness of our local governtments. The sooner plans are put into effect, the sooner we will be ready to avoid the devastating results of being unprepared, such as what we witnessed with Katrina.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Al Gore Doesn't Care About National Security

What person thinks it is a good idea to go to Saudia Arabia --the home country of fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers-- and make remarks specifically intended provoke anger towards the United States?

Al Gore certainly does.

He traveled halfway around the world to Saudi Arabia to alert the Saudis and other Arabs of the United States' "abuses" of their fellow countrymen:


JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Former Vice President Al Gore told a mainly Saudi audience on Sunday that the U.S. government committed "terrible abuses" against Arabs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that most Americans did not support such treatment.

Gore said Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions. The former vice president said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida's hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.

"The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake," Gore said during the Jiddah Economic Forum....

Gore told the largely Saudi audience, many of them educated at U.S. universities, that Arabs in the United States had been "indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable."

"Unfortunately there have been terrible abuses and it's wrong," Gore said.


First of all, Mr. Gore, do you have any facts to back up these preposterous statements? No? I didn't think so. But it's certainly still alright to make baseless remarks in front of people who aren't too fond of us to begin with, damaging our national security in the process, right? Why let a few inconvenient facts get in the way of a chance at political gain?

Secondly, Mr. Gore, do you really consider overstaying a visa or not having a green card as not that big of a deal? Actually, Mr. Gore, it is a big deal. That's why there are laws requiring foreign students and immigrants to have valid student visas or green cards.

In fact, some of the 9/11 hijackers were still in America courtesy of expired student visas. If the United States had cracked down harder on these "minor charges," 9/11 may not have even happened. So there is every reason to regard this as a very, very serious issue.

Finally, in the GWOT we must seek to create peace with the Muslims who are not the radical jihadists that are waging a war on western nations. But we cannot do this effectively if they see the United States as hostile to their faith. Making foundationless acusastions that the United Sates "abused" Arab Muslims after 9/11 is as irresponsible as it is reckless.

It is also completely untrue.

Al Gore has done a diservice to our national security, and can only have weakened the ever-shaky relationship the United States has with the Arab Muslim Middle East.


UPDATE:

Michelle Malkin has much more, including details about detention policies after 9/11, and links to reactions from all over the blogosphere.