God and STDs

London Times religion correspondent Ruth Gledhilll writes today that studies have shown that more secular countries are better off than those inclined to believe in Creationism.

?In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.
?The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.?

Which leads me to wonder exactly to whom Tony Blair was referring this morning when he justified keeping British troops in Iraq as necessary means to avoid turning the country over to “the mercy of religious fanatics.””

Fallout from Basra

“What our police found in their car was very disturbing – weapons, explosives, and a remote control detonator. These are the weapons of terrorists. We believe these soldiers were planning an attack on a market or other civilian targets,” Sheik Hassan al-Zarqani, spokesman for the Mehdi Army said.

It was widely reported that British troops stormed a prison in Basra (ramming an armored vehicle into a police station, according to the Washington Post) to release two of their men who were detained by the Iraqis. It is still unclear whether the soldiers were detained for plans to execute what amounts to an act of terror – by any definition. A crucial line that was originally printed in a September 20 Washington Post report was eventually omitted, although questionable implications remain untouched:

“Monday’s clashes stemmed from the arrest by Iraqi police on Sunday of two Britons, [omitted]whom Iraqi police accused of planting bombs. ”

Censorship just doesn’t go these days. The omitted text is based on arbitrary speculation, still, The Post quickly retitled the article, and dropped the Iraqi co-author to the status of italicized contributor in the endnote. While it led the original Post report, it is tucked away in the back of the edited article that appears in in subsequent printings:
Washington Post
Iraq Mirror
Free Republic
Liberty Post

China Dailyrelayed a statement that ”
“Two persons wearing Arab uniforms opened fire at a police station in Basra. A police patrol followed the attackers and captured them to discover they were two British soldiers,” Washington Post reported last Wednesday that:


“about 500 civilians and policemen held a protest in downtown Basra denouncing ‘British aggression.’ The demonstrators, waving pistols and AK-47s, shouted “No to occupation!” and carried banners condemning “British aggression” and demanding the freed soldiers be tried in an Iraqi court as “terrorists.”

Today, al-Jazeera proclaims that fact must be separated from fiction the true intentions (if any) of the British should be known.


Christopher Hitchens: Contrarian bent over backwards

Christopher Hitchens lampooned Michael Janofsky’s coverage of this past weekends “protest” in of the New York Times. In an essay on Slate, Hitchens writes if readers should feel cheated by the Times’ failure to expand their report of the “wide range of progressive political objectives” of International ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice, the two most prominent sponsors of the rally. Hitchens would continue to point out – as if he’s the only one in the world who knows – several of the disturbing and controversial agendas that these organizations have been involved with.

Hitchens’ retort, like many of his musings in the past month, have an underlying tone of angst and frustration that obscure his astute insight. Instead of informing his audience, he degradingly paints them as clueless, uninformed poseurs. Shame on these people for getting out on a Saturday and indiscriminately marching to express their personal if not selfish motives. And shame on The New York Times for failing to divulge the alarming and disturbing details that would have brought a lifetime of nightmares to some readers, while others would have concluded that NYT was participating in some leftist conspiracy theory.

It is extremely to blame Janofsky for being shallow in his vague description of ANSWER et al?s political objectives. Hitchens should be thanking Janofsky for providing the grounds on which to take the Times to task. His informed disclosure of the crooked objectives of Int?l ANSWER and United for Peace in the Slate essay are chilling and appreciated. Hitchens should NEVER take for granted how lucky he is that he?ll never have to write light and fluffy filler for a daily newspaper!

Write an editorial on it instead Hitch, just don?t shit on the readers!

Truth is, while Hitchens couldn’t contain his response to the New York Times omission of these details, he was far from the first person to note the conspicuous coincidence of Answer International and United for Peace?s sponsorship of the “anti-war protest.” In fact its been long debated by numerous blogs including those of Hitchens’ peers, leftist moms, and even High-school conservatives. Instapundit chimes in and alludes to ProteinWisdom, who extends the argument question Hitchen’s basis for arguing.

Christopher Hitchens may be losing himself inside voice. Now in his mid-50s, Hitch is looking worse for the wear and has adopted a mid-day Manchester (UK) pub-fight-seeking demeanor. His series of articles in The Nation after 9/11 were brilliantly inspired, and documented the beginning of his conversion to take-no-prisoners contrarian advocacy. After all, Hitchens was the brains behind “The Minority Report” in The Nation for twenty years.

While Hitchens presents himself as the absolute antithesis of lip-flapping liberals suchGeorge Galloway andMichael Moore, ironically, it seems he’s becoming that which he despises – putting himself on a pedestal beyond even his own consciousness. Hitch far too brilliant and knowledgeable to permit his voice to crash down on the under-informed masses as indictments of naivete criticism of free thinking. Forget the red/blue dichotomy and say it straight!

Hitchens lives and breathes ?history? to the point that he seems to have displaced himself from the present. Whenever he is challenged about G.W. Bush?s inability to caputer bin-Laden, he counters that G.H.W. Bush and Clinton both could have done away with Osama bin-Laden. A more convincing answer would allow that the current administration STILL has three years to get him. If Hitchens? contrarianism banks on the War on Terror he can?t be disqualifying the war?s still infantile progression with a shrug.

The War on Terror was originally announced by President Bush following the 9/11 attacks. Terror itself has been around forever, and it is now apparent that the war against it will perpetuate long past the tenure of George W. Bush. To preserve the credibility of their pro-war message, Hitchens and his ilk should take a big shot of reality and quit defending George W. Bush as the messenger.

Keep your head, Hitch ? maybe just step back and write another book, bring on the book reviews and come back in a bit. I trust that next time you?ll leave that goon Galloway muttering contradictory sweet nothings to himself on the streets of London.

Iran’s nuclear program – Europe threatens, Russia encourages

The U.S. government is not about to get caught up in a controversy involving potential weapons of mass destruction and a non-democratic nation in the Middle East.

The Iranian government most likely got tired of waiting for the U.S. to continue with their plan to whitewash the axis of evil and has decided to speak up for its own supposed rights to nuclear arms.

Washington is afraid to be goaded into anything in light of a recent history of bad moves. The Pentagon and White House continually remind the public that things are going well, and we must stay the course. But whoever would have thought that Iran and North Korea would be making the first moves in the new nukes game while America lay glued to its vast green pastures of naivete.

AP: Iran isn’t taking lightly a move by Europe aimed at forcing Iran to stop some of its nuclear activities.

Iran will not accept any deadline or any trigger mechanism.
In any such case, it will give its appropriate response.

Russia is defending Iran’s right to a civilian nuclear power program because it has vital interests of its own in doing so, and Moscow will not reverse its position despite US and EU pressure to do so, analysts said.

The EU is routing the case to the security council at the UN in New York…. ???
Iran senses victory in nuclear battle

Russia eyes its own interests in backing Iran’s nuclear program

Is North Korea In Control of the Global Media?

Anyone else notice that North Korea has seemed to dominate front page news on nearly every continent this week? They’re really at it – and there are no bombs involved. Even The Dear Leader has been mysteriously silent. But North Korea is creating daily headlines that are befuddling all of the nations in the civilized world – and even the media is falling for it.

President Bush has not said anything about North Korea’s hogging of the international squawk box lately, however, he has found a way to stay the course despite the fact that TEXAS is about to get hit by a massive hurricane. According to the Taipei Times, however, Christopher Hill, the chief US nuclear negotiator has expressed a desire to visit the communist country for talks. According to tomorrow’s JoongAng Daily, Pyongyang welcomes his visit.

Yesterday North Korea reiterated demands for light water reactors from the U.S. (audio | text). Simultaneously, DPRK Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon announced that U.S. tourists will be allowed to visit for the first time in three years to mark 60 years of North Korean independence and to visit relics from the Korean War.

Wonka Bar You’d think those New Orleans evacuees who apparently had things going “very well” when they were left homeless on the Astrodome floor no longer feeling like they found Babs’ golden ticket. Surely Papa Bush can’t be pleased that his home state can only cross its fingers with Hurricane Rita on the way. According to the President’s speaker Scott McClellan, the federal government is going to try and coordinate a little better than last time. What more can you ask of a privatized national crisis management organization?

President Bush decided that staying to course is the surest resolve for natural disaster when he suggested for the second time this month, (contrary to NY Times’ report) that devastation from Hurricane Katrina is linked to the persistent terrorists’ threat. Although NOBODY could have imagined Iraq would break, the administration’s talking points continually allude to the notion that the insurgency would wreak even more havoc if American troops left Iraq… they laugh at our suffering, and “we’re at war with these terrorists…” The truth, as John McCain was noble enough to point out, is that “congress [is] spending more on rebuilding schools in Iraq before they rebuild schools in New Orleans.” New Orleans’ education system was bankrupt BEFORE Hurricane Katrina.
Fox News
Choe Su Hon - S. Korea Deputy Foreign Minister
“On Monday, North Korea shocked the entire 6 nation Beijing gathering by announcing that they would ditch their nuclear weapons program. In return they would receive a light-water reactor and other goods from the United States.

The Western media reported this as good, if not revolutionary news, declaring the news an end to nuclear testing in the DPRK, without realizing that a main clause of the agreement would involve an arms/energy deal with the U.S.

Today, North Korea has decided they just don’t want any help at all anymore, despite considerable evidence of a major food shortage. It may seem that this is equivalent to an aid package for disaster victims across the world, but let us not forget North Korea’s utter disregard for civil rights.

All of a sudden, Kofi Annan appears headed out of the disheveled U.N. – doubly shaken by the antics of John Bolton. George Bush’s popularity at home has finally caught up with his reputation globally. Germany just had an election in which d) none of the above came out on top.

Consider the (American media’s reaction of Iran’s nuclear announcement (that they have the right to explore nuclear energy) | compared to the Iranian media’s criticism of America’s reaction to the announcement)

Oh, and by the way, there was a presidential election this week in AFGHANISTAN. But who really cares anymore, right? The U.S. government declares it was a success! And North Korea, without raising the slightest threat to the global community – albeit with absolute disregard for its own citizenry – has the media of the world on a roller coaster ride of unpredictable, yet globally relevant headlines.

Declared National DisastersMy thoughts are with everyone who will be battling Hurricane Rita over the next few days. Write your congress reps to suggest raising the gas tax by a few cents and setting up a public fund for disaster relief from the revenues. And do yourself a favor and fill ‘er up today.

The public MUST help. FEMA has its own agenda and they prove it on their home page, where a national disaster has been declared in nearly every state in the union.