Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Mullahs Will Test In 18 Months

There's spirited debate on this issue, some of it informed. Estimates range from a few months to 10 years. My estimate is 18 months, but here are some snips for you to form your own opinion.

Charles Krauthammer in WaPo (my emphasis):
Makes you want to weep. ...Britain, France and Germany admitted that their two years of talks to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program had collapsed. The Iranians had broken the seals on their nuclear facilities and were resuming activity in defiance of their pledges to the "E.U. Three." This negotiating exercise, designed as an alternative to the U.S. approach of imposing sanctions on Iran for its violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, had proved entirely futile. If anything, the two-year hiatus gave Iran time to harden its nuclear facilities against bombardment, acquire new antiaircraft capacities and clandestinely advance its program.

Ah, success. Instead of being years away from the point of no return for an Iranian bomb, as we were before we allowed Europe to divert anti-proliferation efforts into transparently useless talks,
Iran is probably just months away.
Now Arms Control Wonk (my ellipsis):

When some moron like Charles Krauthammer claims Iran is now just “months” away from a bomb, you can pretty much ignore him: He has no idea what he is talking about.

Overall, Iran is probably a little less than a decade away from developing a nuclear weapon.

So, the real question, however, is how quickly Iran could assemble and operate 1,500 centrifuges in a crash program to make enough HEU for one bomb (say 15-20 kg).

Albright and Hinderstein have created a notional timeline for such a program:

  1. Assemble 1,300-1,600 centrifuges. Assuming Iran starts assembling centrifuges at a rate of 70-100/month, Iran will have enough centrifuges in 6-9 months.
  2. Combine centrifuges into cascades, install control equipment, building feed and withdrawal systems, and test the Fuel Enrichment Plant. 1 year.
  3. Enrich enough HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium) for a nuclear weapon. 1 year
  4. Weaponize the HEU. A “few” months.

Total time to the bomb—about three years.

Some of the comments on this piece are well informed, and there's this splendid put down:

Comment 1 (Brit, I suspect):

My questions, as an obviously naive European, are as follows:

1) why is GWB trying to build up a case for war in Iran? What is the benefit to himself given that at the end of this term he can’t seek re-election? Or is there a cunning plan (cf. Baldrick in Blackadder) to place the next Bush in the dynasty at the White House?

2) Although I am not advocating appeasement, would it not be a good idea to tread carefully given that Iran’s internal politics is obviously in turmoil? Doesn’t lending credence and weight to the Iranian “agents provocateurs” actually give a longer lifeline to the wrong faction? Would it not be a rather radical step to endorse an entirely civilian programme under NPT protocols and verification?

Comment 2:

I’ll agree that you’re an obviously naive European.

1. Where is GWB building up a case for war?? And even if he was, why must it necessarily be self-serving?

Maybe he’s just actually concerned about an apocalyptic regime who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth acquiring nukes. It doesn’t appear that the EU is too keen on it either. BTW why on earth would you think that another war would help him get re-elected anyway? Quite the opposite.

2. You are essentially advocating appeasement. Time is of the essence here. Ahmadinejad can pussy-foot around just enough to give him time to finish off the Tehran Project.

Sort of like allowing Hitler to re-arm after WWI.


Arms Control Wonk comes across as a bureaucrat who doesn't understand crash programs. Assuming the Mullahs are running one (they'd be idiots not to), I'd expect them to test a weapon in 18 months.

For an insight into how these programs work, see the history of the Stealth and Blackbird projects here.

The Ports Deal (2)

This just gets worse. The company aiming to take over management of US ports is owned by the Government of Dubai, and boycotts Israel (that's against US law). This mess looks like a set-up of the administration by State, which should never have authorized the deal.

Here's the JPost:
The parent company of a Dubai-based firm at the center of a political storm in the US over the purchase of American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The firm, Dubai Ports World, is seeking control over six major US ports, including those in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is entirely owned by the Government of Dubai via a holding company called the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, which consists of the Dubai Port Authority, the Dubai Customs Department and the Jebel Ali Free Zone Area.

"Yes, of course the boycott is still in place and is still enforced,"...a staff member of the Dubai Customs Department's Office for the Boycott of Israel, told the Post in a telephone interview.
Under US law, the Arab boycott of Israel is illegal:
On at least three separate occasions last year, the Post has learned, companies
were fined by the US government's Office of Anti-boycott Compliance, an arm of
the Commerce Department, on charges connected to boycott-related requests they had received from the Government of Dubai.

US law bars firms from complying with such requests or cooperating with attempts by Arab governments to boycott Israel.
I once (pre-9/11) experienced an audit by a team from the The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), in connection with a sale of a US company to a company owned by a foreign (but democratic) state. The audit was thorough and competent and covered both target and buying companies.

It's inconceivable that the CFIUS team would have failed to spot that the intended buyer was owned by the government of one of the least free nations in the world, and that its parent was in breach of US law.

It looks like a setup.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Prediction On ID Cards

A poll confirms that Brits are cynical about ID cards, confirming the Wisdom Of Crowds. Once the Brit government figures this out too, expect ID cards to degrade to a basic photo ID.

The poll:
People doubt whether cards will materially assist in the war on terror and clearly think that a national scheme will be shot full of holes. Yet a small majority, 52 per cent, persist in saying that the cards should be brought in.That small majority will disappear when Brits realize how the system will actually work.
From 2008, people applying for or renewing passports will be get ID cards as well, so let's start with the Brit passport system. Currently, passports are issued by mail - you send in a form, appending original birth and marriage certificates, and photos notarized by a member of one of 43 professions, ranging from accountants through journalists to opticians.

If this system is continued for ID cards, they'll have little value, but a more robust system will be a logistical nightmare and unaffordable. That's because ID cards need a biometric identifier on them - there's a good summary of options for biometrics here and in the referenced report.

To continue using the passport system and postal applications, the ID card biometric will have to be a photo, with identification through face recognition software. That's because - provided they're authenticated - photos can be sent through the mail so citizens won't all have to travel to have their biometrics taken (as they must for retinal scans, fingerprints etc). Photos are acceptable to most people, it's easy to image people - for example when they visit their doctor or claim a state benefit, and of course everybody has a face. But there are huge negatives - faces change over time, recognition performance is poor (depends on lighting, camera quality, expression), and faces can be fairly easily modified.

And the ID application system itself would be as easy to compromise as the current passport system - all you need is a dodgy journalist or optician (for example) to authenticate a photo of somebody other than the applicant - bin Laden for example - and he gets a Brit ID card as well as a passport.

The only way around this is to use better biometrics - iris recognition is good - and combine that with a face-to-face interview that positively verifies the applicant. But for this to work, the applicant has to travel to a secure facility where their biometrics can be taken, and their identity confirmed by an interview. Here's what that might cost.

Assume that the ID card has to be renewed every 5 years (to cater for biometric change with age), that all 60 million Brits have to have one, and that each application involves 8 hours travel, waiting and interviewing by the applicant (based on US Green Card experience), plus 30 minutes by the interviewer plus 90 minutes support (data input, validation), giving a total of 10 person-hours. Double that to 20 hours to allow for inefficiency (this is a government department!). At 12 million applications every year, that's 240 million person-hours, which at £15/hour is £3.6 billion. Double that to get gross costs - travel, overheads, securing staff against kidnap, etc, and we have an annual cost of over £7 billion. Finally add depreciated capital and setup costs of £3 billion/year (£17 billion deprecated over 5 years), and the running cost is £10 billion/year.

Blair or his successor can't live with this cost - it's a third of the entire of the Brit defense budget. Not to mention the enormous political backlash from forcing 20% of the nation, kids included, to travel to the national ID center very year.

So, I'd expect the ID card to end up much like the current passport, as are ID cards in the rest of Europe. It won't stop visitors daft enough to come to the UK to use the NHS, since most of them are either EU (entitled) or legal or illegal immigrants (protected). It won't stop professional criminals, who'll be able to fake cards with their own pictures for a very modest sum. And it won't stop terrorists, who'll pose as tourists. It won't cut down on illegal immigration, since the primary problem is that the Brit legal system won't deport illegals.

But it will cut down on entitlement fraud by petty criminals, at least only until an entrepreneurial crook decides to exploit this mass market...

Russia Helps The Mullahs Build Nukes

Russia is actively helping the Mullahs build nuclear weapons, and if the US doesn't stop them, they risk inflicting nuclear war on the middle east and Europe. And themselves.

Here's the deal Putin has offered the Mullahs:

Iran and Russia agreed in principle Sunday to establish a joint uranium enrichment venture, a breakthrough in talks on a U.S.-backed Kremlin proposal aimed at easing concerns that Tehran wants to build nuclear weapons.

But further negotiations on the details lay ahead, and it was not known whether Iran will entirely give up enrichment at home, a top demand of the West.

Actually, all this does is reduce the number of centrifuges the Mullahs need to build enough weapons to wipe Israel off the map.

Here's why:
  • Uranium ore contains about 0.7% of the U235 isotope needed for fast reactors and bombs.
  • Light water reactors need that enriched to 3% - 5%.
  • Experimental reactors need enrichment to 12% - 19%.
  • Bombs need enrichment to 85% - you can use less, but the weapon gets much heavier and harder to initiate.
Since the Mullahs have emphasized that they're researching nuclear power, the Russians will probably offer them 20% enriched Uranium.

So instead of having to enrich from 0.7% to 85% (a factor of 120), the Mullahs need only enrich from 20% to 85% (a factor of 4.25). If they need a centrifuge array of 50,000 to enrich uranium ore to bomb grade, they'll need just 2,000 centrifuges starting from 20%.

Building and hiding 2,000 centrifuges is way easier than hiding 50,000, and since the Mullahs successfully hid their entire nuke program for 20 years until dissidents blew their cover, they're experts.

This twisting and turning by the Mullahs and their Chinese and Russian allies suggests that, whatever happens at the UN, the Mullahs will get their nukes.

Russia presumably calculates that it's at no risk from the Mullahs - it has ample nukes to deter them. So that leaves a nuke armed Iran sitting astride the West's oil supply, which will push up prices to Russia's benefit.

But that assumes that the Mullahs are rational, which they are probably not. In which case they'll use their weapons to advance the cause of Islam - that includes avenging the Chechens that Putin has so vigorously ethnically cleansed...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Port Deal

Congress should veto the proposed takeover of the management of a number of US ports by a corporation from the United Arab Emirates - not because the UAE is Arab, but because it's as unfree as China. Unfree counties are fear states run by small cliques, and the US would be foolish to place its security in such hands.

A United Arab Emirates-based company said Sunday it has agreed to seek a broader U.S. review of the security risks from its deal to take over major operations at six American ports.

In addition to the request for a 45-day examination, DP World is promising to create a U.S. subsidiary that would operate independently of executives in Dubai until May.

The moves are an effort to avert a damaging showdown between President Bush and Congress over the fate of DP World's $6.8 billion takeover.

The ports are currently managed by a Brit company, and some in the administration have suggested that there's no difference between the Brits and the UAE. You be the judge.

NationFreedom RatingCorruption Ranking
UAENot Free30th

The Insecurity Of High-Value Databases

The big Brit bank raid shows how the Blair's national identity database will be compromised by terrorists, so making the country less safe.

Brit debate has focused on the cards themselves and their civil liberties implications, missing the much scarier central identity database.

The database is needed because ID cards will be as forgeable as any other card - you'll just encapsulate your own biometric data with your false identity data onto a forged card. The only way to stop that is to check cards against a central database of all legal ID cards.

Most terrorists will dodge the entire system by posing as illegal immigrants (Brit PC rules protect them), or tourists. But if they do want Brit identities, the database will be a cornucopia.

The best way of attacking high value targets is by compromising insiders - this was pioneered by the IRA and has been extended by the Brit criminal fraternity (or maybe the IRA again):
(A) security manager...was hijacked on his way home from work at the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent. His wife...and eight-year-old son...were (also) abducted after bogus police officers called at the family’s home...and told them he had been badly injured in a a car crash.

All three were taken to the depot where the gang used threats against them to force staff inside to open up. They stole an estimated £50m, some £24m of it belonging to the Bank of England.

Security industry sources have revealed that (the security manager) had no key or code to allow himself into the building.

The robbers, wearing balaclava masks and carrying handguns, threatened to kill his son unless a security guard in a bullet-proof, bomb-proof pod inside the depot — who could see what was happening via an intercom CCTV system — allowed them through a security door.
The same technique will work against every user with access to the national identity database. Users with write access will be particularly at risk, and will need 24*7 protection:

In future senior employees...are likely to be given panic buttons in their cars or high-technology “voice bars” that they can pull open to start an immediate dialog with their control rooms if their cars are stopped or tailed.

The industry has brought in psychologists to study the reactions of victims in robberies and has found that if another human life is in danger, staff will normally act automatically to help. In future it wants computerized systems with disembodied Big Brother-like voices issuing commands to staff seeking access to high-security buildings.

The above examples can be fairly easily penetrated, and hopefully the industry will come up with better defenses - but none will be 100% effective.

So Blair's central database will give a terrorists access to the full identity of every Brit - poetically, including Blair himself.

Another triumph of socialism.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Playing Chicken

Using chickens as tennis balls is presumably an ancient Indian custom, but, at 1 chicken per game, it's going to take decades to finish them off.
Indian officials struggle to kill domestic chickens in H5N1 clean-up

Animal health officials must still find and kill domestic chickens in 70 villages before they complete the slaughter of all birds around India's first outbreak of H5N1.
Nice service though.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Brief Outage

The Gs are frolicking in Italy for a few days, next post Saturday.

Busting Iran's Nukes Is Not Hard

Conventional wisdom says the Mullahs' nuke program is so well dispersed & hardened that it's impossible to take out without a huge effort. In fact it can be easily destroyed.

To build their bombs, the Mullahs are enriching uranium, in two steps:

1. Convert it to the gas uranium hexafluoride (UF6). The Mullahs are reported to do this at facility at Isfahan.
...conservative intelligence estimates suggest there are sufficient stocks of UF6 for 30 kilos of enriched uranium. The warhead used at Hiroshima contained 25 kilos
2. Then spinning the UF6 in a cascade of centrifuges, reportedly at a hardened facility at Natanz
...to reach the advanced stage needed for building an atomic weapon, it is necessary to connect a number of centrifuges so that they form a "cascade".When they were finally allowed to visit Natanz two years ago, IAEA inspectors were
alarmed to discover that the Iranians had managed to construct a cascade. This comprises 164 centrifuges, which are based on Pakistan's P2 design.
To build enough nukes to wipe Israel off the map, they're said to be building a 50,000 centrifuge farm at Natanz.

So the Mullahs can be de-toothed by just destroying the Isfahan and Natanz facilities. For obvious reasons, it's best to do this with minimum fuss and collateral damage.

Istahan is fairly soft, but Natanz is hardened to protect all those delicate centrifuges:

Covering 100,000 m2, the Fuel Enrichment Plant complex...boasts two 25,000-meter halls, built 8 meters-deep into the ground and protected by a concrete wall 2.5 meters thick, itself protected by another concrete wall.

The solution is this high velocity kinetic energy weapon:

Someone is finally putting conventional warheads on an ICBM...The navy is taking the three ton warhead of the Trident...Sea Launched Ballistic Missile...and fitting it with non-nuclear weapons. This could be...a single bunker busting weapon.
In WW2, the Brits used the 5-ton Tallboy bomb to destroy hardened German facilities - it penetrated almost 5 meters of concrete, weighed 5 tons and fell at about 1,130 meters/sec. It, and it's 10-ton big brother Grand Slam, easily destroyed massive bunkers - the only delivery problem was bombing accuracy which although excellent for those days was poor by modern standards.

A Trident warhead would be much more effective than Tallboy, since although it would be 2 tons lighter, it would be much faster - reentering at 5,500 m/s and striking (after atmospheric drag) at over 3,000 m/s - over 2.5 times faster than Tallboy. Plus it's accurate to a few meters.

The kinetic energy released is proportional to the square of the velocity, and allowing for the different weights, a solid Trident warhead would be at least 5 times more destructive (and penetrative) than Tallboy. It needs no explosive charge since its energy would convert to massive shock waves to cream a facility full of centrifuges. The UF6 plant would be even easier.

I'd use multiple warheads on each facility - the US and Brit Navies have plenty of Tridents.

This is clean, surgical, can be launched from anywhere in the world, and even if the Mullahs get Russian Ballistic Missile Defenses, almost impossible to stop. Plus, if the Russians started fielding BMD in Iran, that would be the time to strike - otherwise I'd wait until all the centrifuges were up and whack the lot.

Game over for the Mullahs.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Roots Of Anti-Semitism

Bernard Lewis offers penetrating insights into Western and Islamic anti-semitism - it's an echo of the Nazis, except this time the Jews win.

Lewis specializes in the history of Islam and the interaction between Islam and the West. His book What Went Wrong?: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response is a classic (though it doesn't really explain what went wrong!).

This summarizes his latest essay on Islam and the Jews.

Until the late 1800s, Islam was a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution in Europe!

...until fairly modern times there was a much higher degree of tolerance in most of the Islamic lands than prevailed in the Christian world. For centuries, in most of Europe Christians were very busy persecuting each other; in their spare time, they were persecuting Jews and expelling Muslims—all at a time when, in the Ottoman Empire and some other Islamic states, Jews and several varieties of Christians were living side by side fairly freely and comfortably.

...the limited but substantial tolerance accorded to Jews and other non-Muslim communities in the Muslim states until early modern times was certainly vastly better than anything that was available in Christendom.

Islam tolerated Jews because they had useful skills and were stereotyped as unwarlike:
A late Ottoman joke may serve to illustrate this. The story is that in 1912, at the time of the Balkan war, when there was an acute threat to the Ottoman Empire in its final stages, the Jews, full of patriotic ardor, decided that they, too, wanted to serve in the defense of their country, so they asked permission to form a special volunteer brigade. Permission was given, and officers and ncos were sent to train and equip them. Once the Jewish volunteer brigade was armed, equipped, and trained, ready to leave for the front, they sent a message asking if they could have a police escort, because there were reports of bandits on the road.
However, Muslim attitudes towards Jews changed in the 19th and 20th centuries, and in 1933:

:...within weeks of Hitler’s coming to power in 1933, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem got in touch with the German consul general in Jerusalem...and offered his services.

In 1940 the French surrender gave the Nazis new opportunities for action in the Arab world...From Syria they extended their activities to Iraq, where they helped to establish a pro-Nazi regime headed by Rashid Ali al-Gailani.

This was overthrown by the British, and Rashid Ali went to join his friend the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in Berlin, where he remained as Hitler’s guest until the end of the war. In the last days of Rashid Ali’s regime, on the first and second of June 1941, soldiers and civilians launched murderous attacks on the ancient Jewish community in Baghdad. This was followed by a series of such attacks in other Arab cities, both in the Middle East and in North Africa.

The Nazi propaganda impact was immense. We see it in Arabic memoirs of the period, and of course in the foundation of the Ba’ath party.

We can see the Nazi propaganda impact here:

Things got worse when a tiny band of the "unwarlike" Jews beat the crap out of 5 Arab armies:

We have some vivid descriptions at the time of the expectations and reactions of 1948. Azzam Pasha, who was then the secretary-general of the Arab League, is quoted as having said: “This will be like the Mongol invasions. We will utterly destroy them. We will sweep them into the sea.”

The expectation was that it would be quick and easy. There would be no problem at all dealing with half a million Jews.

It was then an appalling shock when five Arab armies were defeated by half a million Jews with very limited weaponry. It remains shameful, humiliating. This was mentioned at the time and has been ever since. One writer said: “It was bad enough to be conquered and occupied by the mighty empires of the West, the British Empire, the French Empire, but to suffer this fate at the hands of a few hundred thousand Jews was intolerable.”

Since then, in 1956, 1967 and 1973, the world became accustomed to images of long lines of surrendering Arab armies, miles of destroyed Arab tanks, and airfields full of burned Arab planes.

The West held Israel to civilized standards but accepted Arab violence:

On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the famous resolution calling for the division of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and an international zone of Jerusalem.

Just over two weeks later...the Arab League adopted a resolution totally rejecting this UN resolution, declaring that they would use all means at their disposal, including armed intervention, to nullify it—an open challenge to the United Nations that was and remains unanswered.

At the end of the initial struggle in Palestine, part of the country was under the rule of the newly created Jewish state, part under the rule of neighboring Arab governments. A significant number of Arabs remained in the territories under Jewish rule.

It was taken then as axiomatic, and has never been challenged since, that no Jews could remain in the areas of Palestine under Arab rule, so that as well as Arab refugees from the Jewish-controlled areas, there were Jewish refugees from the Arab-controlled areas of mandatary Palestine...notably the ancient Jewish community in East Jerusalem, which was totally evicted and its monuments desecrated or destroyed.

... the response of the United Nations to (Jewish and Arab) refugees was very different. For Arab refugees in Palestine, very elaborate arrangements were made and very extensive financing provided.

Then, as memories of the Holocaust faded, anti-semitism reappeared in the West:

For more than half a century, any discussion of Jews and their problems has been overshadowed by the grim memories of the crimes of the Nazis and of the complicity, acquiescence, or indifference of so many others. But inevitably, the memory of those days is fading, and now Israel and its problems afford an opportunity to relinquish the unfamiliar and uncomfortable posture of guilt and contrition and to resume the more familiar and more comfortable position of stern reproof from an attitude of moral superiority. It is not surprising that this opportunity is widely welcomed and utilized.
So we have a humiliated Islam that seeks revenge, backed by resurgent anti-Semitic Western nations and pseudo-nations.

Lewis does not analyze the effect on the Jews and their enemies of this long conflict.

My view is that Israel has become what Arnold Toynbee calls a Marches state - holding the frontiers of civilization, they've learned to excel in battle and the technologies that support it.

Of course Israel has had great support from the US, but - because of Jewish scientific and technical excellence - they'd probably have prevailed anyway. Almost all the team that built the Atomic bomb was Jewish.

Conversely, Israel's opponents have been weakened by the support of their friends and easy money from oil - Palestine is a welfare-dependent dump, and its Arab supporters are impoverished and incompetent. Toynbee would predict this too - an easy life for the rulers brings decadence.

So the Israeli struggle is a rerun of the Jews against the Nazis, and this time the Jews are winning.

A Fowl Canard

It's hard to take the latest MSM Panic Attack seriously, so I won't.

The London Times reports (my emphasis):
Britain is to let 25 million free-range chickens stay outdoors because the Government believes that a duck that died of bird flu in France was not heading for the Channel.
The Brit government would have used the following clues to figure out the duck's vacation plans.

1. It was not fleeing community-exclusion, because its feathers were not " all stubby and brown".

2. No red-blooded duck would travel to a nation that expostulates "Cor, love a duck!" - the less well-known Vice Anglais. (Common in old Brit movies and certain parts of Notting Hill - the expression, I mean).

3. No duck is going to make it through France without being converted into confit de cuisses canard.

4. Ducks know they're 50% of the menu in low-beamed Brit pubs, which prominently advertise "Duck or Grouse".

Sorry, couldn't stop myself, won't happen again.

10 Truths About The US Economy

The strong growth of the US economy after the 2001 recession and 9/11 has surprised - and I suspect disappointed - European and Dem critics of the administration. They shouldn't be surprised - most of their assumptions are myths.

The contradictions of the myths come from the data assembled here - published in late 2004, so there's no excuse for ignorance.

1. Real earnings are up on the dot-com boom
Real earnings are higher now than at the height of the dot-com boom in 2000.
2. Unemployment is very low
(The peak) unemployment rate of 6.3 percent...following the 2001 recession (was) lower than the average unemployment rate for the 1980s and less than one point higher than the average unemployment rate for the 1990s.
3. The Bush tax cuts boosted investment
Business investment contracted at a 1.14 percent annualized rate over the 14 quarters prior to the 2003 tax cuts (then) grew at a 13.03 percent rate over the 3 quarters following the 2003 tax cuts (on business investment).
4. Insourcing is huge
...more than 5.4 million jobs in America are the result of insourcing—that is, they have been outsourced from abroad into the United States. Annually, these insourced jobs account for $307 billion in wages and salaries.
5. The US has a trade surplus in services, even allowing for outsourcing
The United States exports more business, technical, and professional services than it imports (and offshore outsourcing of service work is synonymous with importing those services). In 2003, the trade surplus for these services was $27.0 billion.
6. Lack of health insurance is transitory
Only 3.3 percent of all Americans went without some kind of health insurance for four or more years.
7. Poverty is transitory
Very few people—only about 2 percent of the total population—are chronically poor in America, as defined by living in poverty for four years or more.
8. The US "rich" are highly taxed
Households in the top income quintile provide one-third of all labor in the economy (and) pay 82.5 percent of total federal income taxes and two-thirds of federal taxes overall.
9. So real income inequality is very small

By the uncorrected Census numbers, the top 20 percent of earners, or top quintile, appear to have $14.20 of income for every $1 of income that the bottom 20 percent earn.

(But adding in benefits and subtracting taxes and correcting for household sizes and hours worked)... the income ratio between the top and bottom quintiles drops to $2.91 for every $1.

10. The Bush tax cuts held taxes at historical levels
The Bush tax cuts, even if made permanent, return the tax burden to its historical level as a proportion of the economy. Allowing the Bush tax cuts (to) expire would raise the tax burden to historically unprecedented levels.
So if Europeans just cut taxes and work harder, they'll be able to pay for their redistributive entitlement programs!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Undermining Hamas

The Israeli interim government has decided to put one bullet at a time into Hamas, rather than the whole clip. Machiavelli would approve.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that the new Hamas-led Palestinian Authority was a "terrorist entity" and that Israel would not negotiate with it so long as Hamas constituted a part of it.

...Olmert added that Israel would immediately cut off funding to the Palestinian government... the purpose of these actions was to target Hamas and not to harm the Palestinian populace. He ruled out all contacts with the militant group but said that Israel would allow humanitarian aid to reach the Palestinians.

This is good thinking. Covert terror-supporters like the EU argue that a) Palestine's people should be supported, no matter how repulsive the government they have elected and b) Hamas will mellow once in the driving seat.

Hamas will now retaliate and Israel will progressively shut Palestine down as a defensive measure. This will confirm that governments' supporting Hamas have harmed the Palestinian people and Hamas remains a terror gang.

Here are future options (my ellipsis):
....barring Palestinian workers from entering Israel, preventing travel from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, doing away with the common Israel-PA (Palestinian Authority) tax envelope and ending cooperation with the PA on economic projects, such as the construction of an airport and harbor in Gaza.

One official said that at this point Israel would not cut off water and electricity to Gaza...

Muslim Enlightenment

A poll of Muslims living in Britain say 40% want sharia law. Sharia institutionalizes the oppression and brutalization of girls and women, and - as all the world now knows - denies freedom of speech. That's going to be a tough sell to the Brits, but it's worth polling them.
Forty per cent of the British Muslims surveyed said they backed introducing sharia in parts of Britain, while 41 per cent opposed it. Twenty per cent felt sympathy with the July 7 bombers' motives, and 75 per cent did not.

Half of the 500 people surveyed said relations between white Britons and Muslims were getting worse.
That's a surprise! Anyway here's Wikipedia's current consensus on Sharia - it's the kindest one I could find and makes no mention of Muslim victimization of gays (my ellipsis and emphasis):

The role of women under Sharia
Islam does not prohibit women from working, but emphasizes the importance of housekeeping and caring for the families of both parents.

In addition, women are generally not allowed to be clergy or religious scholars. Many interpretations of Islamic law hold that women may not have prominent jobs, and thus are forbidden from working in the government.

A Muslim man may marry a (Jewish or Christian) woman; traditionally, however, Islamic law forbids a Muslim woman from marrying a non-Muslim man.

Dress code
The Qur'an also places a dress code upon its followers. For women, it emphasizes modesty. Allah says in the Qur'an, "And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts and not to display their adornment (interpreted as the hair and body-shape) except that which ordinarily appears thereof (interpreted as the face and hands) and to draw their headcovers over their chests and not to display their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands fathers, their sons, . . . ."

Female circumcision is not part of mainstream Islam on an international scale, but is performed by Muslims and non-Muslims alike across East Africa and the Nile Valley, as well as parts of the Arabian peninsula and Southeast Asia.

The Egyptian-born president of the 'European Council on Fatwa and Research'...emphasises that this is not a religious obligation, but expresses his personal(?) preference for removal of the prepuce of the clitoris, called clitoridotomy.

Domestic justice
According to most interpretations, authorization for the husband to physically beat disobedient wives is given in the Qur'an. First, admonishment is verbal, and secondly a period of refraining from intimate relations. Finally, if the husband deems the situation appropriate, he may hit her.

...punishments are authorized by other passages in the Quran and Hadiths for certain crimes (e.g., extramarital sex, adultery).

Sahi Muslim No. 4206: "A woman came to the prophet and asked for purification by seeking punishment. He told her to go away and seek God's forgiveness. She persisted four times and admitted she was pregnant. He told her to wait until she had given birth. Then he said that the Muslim community should wait until she had weaned her child. When the day arrived for the child to take solid food, Muhammad handed the child over to the community. And when he had given command over her and she was put in a hole up to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al-Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on her face he cursed her."

Many Islamic leaders and scholars condemn the practice of honor killing that some critics argue, and strongly deny that it is based on religious doctrine. Indeed honor killings themselves are not prescribed by the religious doctrine of Sharia.

Muslim apostates
In some (but not all) interpretations of an Islamic state, conversion by Muslims to other religions is forbidden and is termed apostasy. In Muslim theology, apostasy resembles the crime of treason, the betrayal of one's own country.

Freedom of Speech
... Sharia law in its most vigorous interpretations does not allow freedom of speech on such matters as criticism of the prophet Muhammad.

I can't see Brits buying into these behaviors, even if "liberally" interpreted and restricted to Muslim ghettos.

But let's ask them! Phrasing the questions will be fun, for example:

Do you believe that husbands should punish rebellious wives:
a) Verbally
b) By withholding sex
c) By beatings that leave no marks
d) By beatings that leave marks (nobody's going to see them!)
e) All of the above.

Do you believe homosexuals should be executed:
a) By being thrown from high places
b) By being crushed by a collapsing wall.
c) By stoning
d) By hanging.
e) All of the above

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The EU Becomes A Terrorist Organization

The EU has broken with its established policies, drawing a false distinction between its funding of "the Palestinian people" and funding the Hamas government these people elected. That makes the EU a terror state.
Europe will continue to financially support the Palestinian people regardless of which government is installed as the Palestinian Authority (PA), said the European Union’s top official for security and defense policy.“The EU will not abandon the Palestinian people,” Javier Solana said in a statement issued after a Feb. 13-16 swing through the Middle East.
The EU doesn't apply this principle to other peoples - when they didn't like the US government's steel tariffs, they threatened hit back at the American people:

March 2002: The European Union is preparing to retaliate against the United States for President Bush's 30 percent tariff on steel imports, and the GOP may be the most likely target.

The EU head office sent the 15 EU governments a list of U.S. products to be hit with punitive import, and most are near-and-dear to the Republicans, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The paper said the EU would target goods from states President Bush considers keys to re-election, such as Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The list could include Harley Davidson motor bikes, orange juice, citrus fruit and textiles, as well as American steel products.

And when they didn't like the Austrians' choice of government, the EU had no problem in sanctioning that elected government:
March, 2000. EU leaders pledged last night to maintain their collective boycott of Austria, dismissing the resignation of Jörg Haider as leader of the country's far-right Freedom party as a meaningless ploy.

Portugal, the current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, set the tone, with the prime minister Antonio Guterres insisting: "The problem is not Jörg Haider but what his party represents."

But the united response gave no clue as to how long the freeze would last - it was in evidence on Monday when Freedom party ministers were snubbed at regular EU meetings - or whether there was an exit strategy.

One interpretation was that the EU could increase pressure on Austria's entire coalition government, under the leadership of chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, to step down
Hence the EU has broken with its previous practices to finance people who elected a genocidal government, and to not boycott that government. Terror-financiers are themselves terrorists, and Brussels joins Tehran and Damascus on the hit list.

Surviving Brit Doctors

In my limited experience (mostly sports injuries) Brit doctors are fine, but now we know that one of their leaders is ignorant of basic statistics, it pays to be wary.

A doctor at the top of the Brit medical profession - a professor and consultant, who was knighted for "services to child health" has been found to be ignorant of statistical correlation.

He'd have been surprised that many cancers run in families, and that individuals and families often have quite different vulnerabilities from the general population.

As researchers pick apart the human genome and statisticians build better models of medical outcomes, it's becoming possible to figure out what combinations of diseases specific individuals are vulnerable to, and which medical interventions they'll react best to.

So here's a survival mechanism. If a Brit doctor tells you that you have certain chance of a particular medical outcome, ask him for the dependent variables and correlation coefficients. If he doesn't answer you coherently, head for the hills.

The Curse Of Gandalf

This inadvertent curse fell on Apple Computers – after I decided to switch to a PowerBook, Apple obsoleted it before I could place my order and then became virus-prone. I need to find a less innocent party to curse.

With laptops I use “one strike and you’re out” – if one fails prematurely, I don’t use that manufacturer again - so have worked through Gateway, NEC, Sony, IBM & Dell. The current Toshiba is senile after just 4 years – failing memory (down to a lousy 256 Meg), arthritis (DVD player won’t play March Of The Penguins, Trackpoint mouse gone stiff), and it's full of
Cruft. Its firewall, popup blacker, virus stopper & spyware doctor slow it to a shuffle.

So, early in January, I decided to move to the green fields of the Mac. Checked out nifty 15”
PowerBook in Apple’s London showroom - looked good, so went off to research. Three days later Steve Jobs announce the MacBook Pro using Intel, not available until February. Having de-supported plenty of obsoleted systems in my life, decided to wait for MacBook to release & stabilize – living with the creaking Toshiba until this June and hoping no more bits would seize up.

Still, worth waiting for - at least when it did arrive it wouldn’t need all that PC antivirus stuff! Then
two days back:
A malicious computer worm has been found that targets Apple Computer Inc.'s Mac OS X operating system, believed to be the first such virus aimed specifically at the Mac platform.
I think still worth waiting, but fully expect that in the interim Apple will sign up as chief Internet censor for the Chinese Tyrants and adopt French as its default GUI.

Still, this cursing ability should be exploitable – maybe if I converted to Islam they'd stop threatening to kill everybody who doesn't agree with them?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Brit Professionals

Professionals who make untrue statements that result in innocent people being jailed should suffer consequences. Sadly for the Brits, their "old" professions don't work that way:
Sir Roy Meadow, whose evidence helped to send three innocent mothers to jail for killing their babies, today successfully appealed against being struck off the medical register.

Mr Justice Collins ruled that the General Medical Council's punishment against Sir Roy, 72, for giving erroneous evidence at the trial of Sally Clark was "unduly harsh".

The retired paediatrician who, over decades, has convinced courts that at least 81 infant deaths were murders, controversially told jurors that the chances of two cot deaths in a family were effectively one in 73 million - famously likening this to the probability of an 80-1 horse winning four consecutive Grand Nationals.
The probability is actually 1 in 77, but, hey, as the judge said:
Sir Roy...made a simple, honest mistake.

Visitors should be reassured that - outside of medicine and the law - most Brits professionals are competent.

Judging A Book By Its Critics

Gitmo's critics are all bad actors - corrupt and/or appeasing pols, or thuggish tyrants. Since Gitmo criticism is a litmus test of evil, the US should keep the facility open in perpetuity as a service to freedom.

Kofi Annan
"The basic point, that one cannot detain individuals in perpetuity and that charges have to be brought against them and be given a chance to explain themselves and be prosecuted, charged, or released, I think is common under any legal system," Mr. Annan told reporters.
Dead right, one cannot detain individuals without trial etc - except for POWs, but, hey, that's a detail - so this will be excellent news for the citizens being tortured and murdered by these thugs on the UN Commission On Human Rights:

Nation2005 Freedom Rank
AzerbaijanNot Free
ChinaNot Free
CubaNot Free
EgyptNot Free
EritreaNot Free
PakistanNot Free
QatarNot Free
Saudi ArabiaNot Free
SudanNot Free
ZimbabweNot Free

Still, the "rapporteurs" working for these thugs have principles:
(Their) findings are based almost entirely on uncorroborated accounts of former Guantanamo detainees. None of the rapporteurs visited the facility, although last year they heavily publicized their attempt to gain access to Guantanamo. The Pentagon allowed them to visit as long as they abided by the same rules observed by visiting press reporters and American legislators - some of whom have returned from Guantanamo with very critical reports on conditions in the facility.

Nevertheless, in a defiant public letter, the five Geneva-based human rights experts refused to accept the American conditions. In a letter last November, they said "principles" they have set as guidelines for their work were not accepted by America, and therefore they would not go to Guantanamo. "These principles apply to all fact-finding missions undertaken by the different special rapporteurs," the letter said.
Quite right too! Well with the odd small exception:

The main reason cited for declining the visit was that they were not permitted to interview detainees without being accompanied by American officials.

However, in a December report made by (these) rapporteurs about torture in China..."Officials from [China's] ministry of foreign affairs accompanied (to detention centers in order to ensure unrestricted access"...

So we have a committee that includes thugs reporting to a master of corruption, with flexibly principled employees. But at least one man with a spotless reputation has spoken out against the horror of Gitmo:
Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, has increased pressure on the United States to shut down the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay by backing its closure.
This is the same Peter Hain who has presided over Blair's capitulation to the IRA, most recently offering their fugitive murderers an amnesty. Here's a man clearly headed for the upper pastures of the UN.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Morning In Iraq

As you might guess from the MSM's silence, things are going well in Iraq. Iraqis are very optimistic and now have the first democratically elected President in the Arab world. He's a Shiite, but he's doing a better job bringing Sunnis into his cabinet than Blair has bringing English - as opposed to Scots - into his. Plus, the US Army is hosing out the last of the terrorists, to the delight of Iraqis.

Here's what
Iraqis think (poll was December 05):

Average household incomes have soared by 60 percent in the last 20 months (to $263 a month), 70 percent of Iraqis rate their own economic situation positively, and consumer goods are sweeping the country. In early 2004, 6 percent of Iraqi households had cell phones; now it's 62 percent. Ownership of satellite dishes has nearly tripled, and many more families now own air conditioners (58 percent, up from 44 percent), cars, washing machines and kitchen appliances.

Interest in politics has soared.

Preference for a democratic political structure has advanced, to 57 percent of Iraqis, while support for an Islamic state has lost ground, to 14 percent (the rest, 26 percent, chiefly in Sunni Arab areas, favor a "single strong leader.")

Whatever the current problems, 69 percent of Iraqis expect things for the country overall to improve in the next year — a remarkable level of optimism in light of the continuing violence there. However, in a sign of the many challenges ahead, this optimism is far lower in Sunni Arab-dominated provinces, where just 35 percent are optimistic about the country's future.

Here's Iraq's new president (WSJ, subscription):

It's become a cliche in some circles that Iraq won't be ready for "Jeffersonian" democracy any time soon. And maybe not. But the more we watch the political developments that the U.S. is fostering in Iraq, the more we see the kind of compromise and debate that are crucial to democratic progress.

The latest news is the orderly election this weekend of Ibrahim al-Jaafari as the Shiite Alliance's candidate to serve as Prime Minister for the next four years.

Though not the most inspiring of political personalities, Mr. Jaafari is well-liked by the Iraqi public and by his fellow political leaders. He delegates power and is willing to trust the skills of those around him. He has also never been associated with even a hint of corruption. And far from being a reformed Baathist, he has an untainted record of courageous opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime.

Of all the Shiite Alliance's conceivable choices for the post, Mr. Jaafari is also the least beholden to Iran. Mr. Jaafari can also call upon a strong team already in office. We're particularly impressed with Defense Minister Saddoun Dulaimi, a Sunni brought in by the Shiite Alliance despite the Sunni boycott of the January 2005 vote.

You read it right - he's appointed a Sunni as Defense Minister - seems pretty Jeffersonian to me.

Fighting continues, but here's part of a letter from the mayor of a town in northern Iraq to the commander of the US troops that just cleaned it up, hat tip Power Line and Mudville Gazette:

In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful

To the Courageous Men and Women of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who have changed the city of Tall’ Afar from a ghost town, in which terrorists spread death and destruction, to a secure city flourishing with life.

To the lion-hearts who liberated our city from the grasp of terrorists who were beheading men, women and children in the streets for many months.

To those who spread smiles on the faces of our children, and gave us restored hope, through their personal sacrifice and brave fighting, and gave new life to the city after hopelessness darkened our days, and stole our confidence in our ability to reestablish our city.
The leaders of this Regiment; COL McMaster, COL Armstrong, LTC Hickey, LTC Gibson, and LTC Reilly embody courage, strength, vision and wisdom. Officers and soldiers alike bristle with the confidence and character of knights in a bygone era.

The mission they have accomplished, by means of a unique military operation, stands among the finest military feats to date in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and truly deserves to be studied in military science. This military operation was clean, with little collateral damage, despite the ferocity of the enemy. With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.

God bless this brave Regiment; God bless the families who dedicated these brave men and women. From the bottom of our hearts we thank the families. They have given us something we will never forget. To the families of those who have given their holy blood for our land, we all bow to you in reverence and to the souls of your loved ones. Their sacrifice was not in vain.

This looks like WW2 in March 1945 - some tough fighting left, but the enemy beaten. You'll know when the war is finally won - Iraq will fall entirely of the MSM's radar. It's mostly done so - just one US newspaper ran the mayor's letter.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Support British Troops!

The kerfuffle about Brit soldiers roughing up Iraqi rioters shows the Brit government and MSM to be hypocrites and fools. Wouldn't it be nice if Blair made this statement:

"British soldiers in Iraq are doing an excellent job in a tough situation, and they have my full support. I am responsible for their being there, so if you have problems about their war fighting, address them to me, not them."

The young soldiers being persecuted were sent to war by Blair. War means killing and hurting people and breaking things. The Brit contingent in Iraq has been doing this for almost 3 years, behaving as their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers did. Brit soldiers killed surrendering German machine gunners in WW1. In WW2 they bayoneted captured Japanese soldiers, and shot captured SS officers and men. Their allies did the same - see this insensitive behavior of US troops to surrendering German snipers.

There are good reasons why soldiers kill or brutalize captives:

1. It improves morale. When a unit has taken many casualties, it may doubt its competence. Vengeance reinforces its sense of control.

2. It saves time - prisoners have to be escorted to POW camps and guarded by men who could otherwise be fighting alongside their mates.

3. When it's known to the enemy, it discourages them. Iraqis throwing rocks at Brit soldiers learned that they could be hurt in return (unfortunately they've now learned they'll get compensated).

Of course there are bad reasons for vengeance. But fighting is not an easy experience, and after the action is over, it's hard for pumped young men to return immediately to normality. So there is a transition, where captives may be hurt - officers are supposed to manage this.

Brit soldiers in Iraq fight under very restricted rules of engagement and have lost over 100 men. Thye''ve shown extra ordinary bravery - think of the two SAS soldiers, surrounded by brutal enemies, patiently tracking down the local head-hackers.

To send men to do this bloody job and then refuse to accept the consequences is hypocrisy.

It's stupid too - if you punish people for their actions, they avoid future punishment in the most economical way. So if you discipline support staff because customers are unhappy, they just avoid customer contact - that's easier than trying to balance their resources and deal with a bunch of cranky customers.

So the Brit army is not learning to be nice to captured terrorist suspects. It's learning to avoid fighting - that way they won't be vilified by their MSM and prosecuted by their pols.

This is not an outcome any Brit should want.

The Blessed US Trade Deficit

The Us is lambasted by the currency markets for its twin US deficits - imports are more than exports and Congress spends more than it collects. But that assumes the trade deficit is bad, when it's actually good.

This "twin deficit" argument has always been shaky - the US government spending deficit as a percent of GNP is a bit over 3%, same as the Europeans (which is not something to crow about, but not a reason to mark down the dollar). And if the US stopped importing more than it exported, the economies of China, Japan nd Europe would head south. Now there's an even better argument for disregarding the trade deficit:

America's trade deficit -- in December reaching a near-record $64.7 billion -- is unfortunate, right?

Wrong. Contrary to popular opinion, this so-called "deficit" is a blessing.

Consider that if Americans export lumber, sheetrock, and architectural blueprints to China so that people build a factory there, we're gleeful. "Wonderful!" we proclaim. "Exports are up and our trade deficit is down!" But if those very same building materials are assembled by Americans into a factory situated and operated in, say, Utah and then bought by Chinese investors, we complain -- led today by the likes of Senators Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham -- that "Something's wrong! Our trade deficit is higher!"

Truth is, though, that nothing economically important separates the first scenario from the second. In each case the world's stock of productive capital grows as Americans produce things for sale to foreigners. Those cases appear different from each other only because of the conventions of international commercial accounting, which records investments separately from imports and exports.

This accounting convention creates the false impression that an excess of imports over exports -- called a "trade deficit" -- is an ominous imbalance requiring corrective action. In fact, America's trade deficit is evidence, not of any imbalance, but of the happy fact that our economy is so strong and stable that foreigners invest here eagerly.

When foreigners sell things to Americans they earn dollars. If foreigners then spend all of those dollars on American exports, trade is "balanced." There's no trade deficit or surplus. But if foreigners instead invest some of those dollars in dollar-denominated assets -- say, by purchasing that factory in Utah, houses in Hawaii, or shares of Google -- they obviously must buy fewer American exports.

So the trade deficit grows as investment in the U.S. rises.

That makes foreigners buying US assets no different to foreigners buying US products. Of course if foreigners buy a US company, they control it, but so what? The US is by far the world's best machine for converting foreigners to nationals.

Unless it's a military asset - and it won't be because the Pentagon stops that, just as it stops non-allies buying US defense products - all it means is that new management appears from overseas. If they're good, they grow the US economy, if they're not, they head home and may sell the company.

This is not to give a pass to financing the budget deficit - caused by the greed and incompetence of pols - by selling T Bills to foreigners. Although the US is no more guilty of this than France, Germany and now the UK, it should set an example and bust the pork.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Traitors Now And Traitors Then

Both AP photos, sources: al Gore, el Heath.

Blairite Lies About Fighting Terror

Blair and is supposed successor, Brown, insist that the only way Brits can defeat terror is to accept many new limitations on their own liberty. Readers will be shocked to find that they're lying.

They want 90-day imprisonment of terror suspects without charging them

Parliament just bounced this, limiting the period to 28 days, and Brown wants another vote, because:
...the independent reviewer of the terrorism laws, had said that he was satisfied there had been situations in which "significant conspiracies to commit terrorist acts" had gone unprosecuted because of the time limitations placed on the authorities after arrest.
But the real problem is that Blair lets these people in - if he kept them out - easy on a small island - he wouldn't need to arrest them:

Londonistan is a pejorative sobriquet referring to the British capital of London, used since the 1990s by French counter-terrorism agents, as well as by the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, because of the number of exiled Islamist groups that established political headquarters in the city, from which they may seek to overthrow governments they consider oppressive heretical or plan terror attacks on other European countries.

The presence of active Islamists in London began to cause tensions with Middle Eastern, European and the United States governments, who view many of these groups as terrorists. After terrorist attacks by Algerian militants in France in 1995 the French government accused the British government of not doing enough to curtail their activities.

Foreign governments were particularly angered when the head of Al-Muhajiroun, Omar Bakri Muhammad, claimed he lived in the UK under a "covenant of security", whereby he was left alone by the authorities so long as he did not sanction attacks on British soil. The British government denied the claim. Some suspects of the 1995 attacks on Paris have fled to the United Kingdom; Rachid Ramda was eventually put into French custody on the 1 December 2005.

...in the wake of a failed second bombing attempt on the London Underground, some overseas governments and commentators were quick to blame Britain's tolerance of Islamism for the extremist attacks. "At the end of the day, Britain's attachment to tolerance has brought it nothing but death and desolation"

They want want new laws criminalizing "glorifying terrorism"

...Brown appealed to Labour rebels and the opposition parties not to vote down a new offence of glorifying terrorism...
Existing laws criminalize threatening behavior, but Brit cops don't enforce them against Muslims. If Brown can't change police behavior, any new laws will be used exclusively against Brits protesting Muslim behavior - as the current laws have been.

They want (and just got) Brits to have ID cards

Brits reluctantly carried ID cards during WW2 & then "lost" them when it was won, disregarding government attempts to make them permanent. Blair and his team have reintroduced them, using creative justifications:

...they would disrupt terrorists and criminals travelling on stolen identities as well as helping to tackle identity fraud, which he claimed cost Britain £1.7 billion a year.

They'll do nothing to disrupt terrorists - foreign visitors won't carry ID cards, so they'll be able to slip in, set up the hit with locals, and slip out - as they did for the July 2005 bombings.

Criminals will forge cards, as they do now, and the £1.7 billion is claptrap:

The £1.7 billion included £395 million for "money laundering" even though a Home Office study concedes that this figure is only "illustrative".

The total also includes more than £500 million attributed to the misuse of credit cards, yet only £13 million of this is due to fraudulent applications.

Andy Burnham, the Home Office minister, said ID cards would help combat the problem. "One of the major breakthroughs that they will bring is the link with a personal biometric. . . a fingerprint or an eye scan," he said.

To combat credit card fraud, every Point of Sale device (including PCs used for online shopping) would need a secure retinal and/or fingerprint scanner plus pattern recognition software.

I'll show how ID cards will be hacked in a later post. But, even if they were secure, are retailers really going to make their customers peer into laser scanners and/or have their fingerprints taken, everytime they shop? Will online retailers refuse to do business with customers that don't buy biometric scanners? Of course not. So forget stopping credit card fraud.

They lie.