August 29, 2003

DR. VOLLERTSEN'S CRUSADE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA

Free North Korea blog has the latest on Dr. Norbert Vollertsen, author of Diary of a Mad Place.

The JYB has chronicled Vollertsen's work here and here. Once considered a friend by the North Korean regime for his medical work there, today he is a pariah to governments on both sides of the DMZ.

It's especially interesting to note that though Vollertsen considers himself a liberal, he calls the Sunshine Policy a "criminal act" (which it was) and sounds very much like a hard-line conservative on North Korea, as well as South Korea's collaboration with the North.

I guess you could call him an "old liberal." New liberals don't seem to care much about human rights unless they can somehow blame the US for violations.

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I'M NOT CATHOLIC

...but Rev. George W. Rutler is my kind of priest.

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UNFETTERED NET ACCESS IN SADDAM'S HOMETOWN

More underreported good news from Iraq: Tikrit has its first internet cafe with unrestricted access:

TIKRIT, Iraq — The first words Ahmed Abdullah typed in the Google search engine were "George Bush."

The 19-year-old wanted to access the president's Web site, something he couldn't do under restricted and tightly controlled Internet service during Saddam Hussein's rule.

Heh. "George Bush" was his first Google. The Indymedia/Democrats.com crowd won't like that. Or this.

A Baghdad mother and father, to show their thanks to President Bush for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, have named their son after the American leader.

---

"I tell you all Iraqis hated Saddam's regime. It was only George Bush who liberated us, without him it wouldn't have happened. If he hadn't done it the sons of Saddam would have ruled us for years. He saved us from Saddam and that's why we named our son after him," Mohammed told Associated Press Television News.

But back to the new hotspot in Tikrit.

"I like it. It's beautiful. There is so much information I can get," Mr. Abdullah said, surrounded by U.S. soldiers and commanders who crammed the one-room Internet cafe they had helped set up with $24,000 from the 4th Infantry Division's budget.

The owner, Hashim Hassan, 33, ran a similar cafe for two years before the war. But in those times, "any political sites, opposition or sex pages, were blocked. Now there are no restrictions."

No restrictions. Freedom is coming to Iraq, slowly but surely, in spite of the continuing work of bitter-enders.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

ONCE A RACIST...

...always a racist?

Yes, it would seem. California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D)refuses to renounce MEChA, the Chicano-supremacist organization that he belonged to as a student.

In fact, the Democrats seem to be a racist-admiring lot these days. Check out this post over at TAPPED:

FAREWELL TO FRITZ. Pundit Mark Shields gives Democratic senator Ernest Hollings a nice send-off in this column. Aside from Hollings' positions on intellectual property and technology, Tapped has always found a lot to admire about the guy. And like his fellow old-timer Robert Byrd, the senior Democratic senator from West Virginia, Hollings provided a voice of reason during the debates over Iraq. We're sorry to see him go.

Mark Shields, Dem-friendly pundit, admiring the man who raised the Confederate flag over South Carolina, while TAPPED praises him and the only sitting Senator to have been a member of the KKK. And don't forget California's unrepentant MECh-ista.

If the Republicans stepped into a pattern like this, pundits like Josh Marshall would froth at the mouth until every last Pach involved had either resigned or crawled over hot coals, slept on beds of nails and apologized until they'd done permanent damage to their vocal chords.

Just look at the Trent Lott fiasco of a few months back if you don't believe me. One stupid comment at an old man's birthday party cost him his SML post (rightfully so, I might add). Will Bustamante's MEChA past cost him anything?

Ha!

Here's more about Bustamante and MEChA. That the media is thus far letting him get away with praising a KKK-like organization is all the proof necessary to demonstrate liberal media bias.

(links via InstaPundit and Henry Hanks)

MORE: Just to check facts and all, I've gone poking around MEChA sites on the web. There are lots of them, just Google the name you'll see. MEChA is every bit as bad as Michelle Malkin alleges. From its constitution:

Chicano and Chicana students of Aztlán must take upon themselves the responsibilities to promote Chicanismo within the community, politicizing our Raza with an emphasis on indigenous consciousness to continue the struggle for the self-determination of the Chicano people for the purpose of liberating Aztlán.

"Self-determination of the Chicano people for the purpose of liberating Aztlan..." That's racial separatism with the aim of "liberating" a large portion of the United States and reuniting it with Mexico. And a man who supports this wants to be governor of part of that territory.

Section 2. The official symbol of this organization shall be the eagle with its wings spread, bearing a macahuittle in one claw and a dynamite stick in the other with the lighted fuse in its beak. The acronym MEChA shall be above the symbol with the phrase "La Union Hace La Fuerza" below.

Dynamite? That's rather terroristic, isn't it? Of course, if you want to separate the southwestern states from the rest of the US, violence is about the only way that's going to happen. Here's that symbol.

Bustamante refuses to denounce such an organization. The Democrats support him, and he is in good standing with the party.

Where's the media on this story?

Posted by B. Preston at 08:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 28, 2003

CHINA AND NORTH KOREA: ALLIES?

John Pomfret of the Washington Post, on the Sino-North Korean relationship:

China's government once saw North Korea as a strategic buffer and a friendly communist economy. But Beijing increasingly views Pyongyang and its apparent desire to develop a nuclear weapon as a risk, and officials have all but pleaded with the government of Kim Jong Il to begin reforming the country's moribund economy.

Though both remain Communist, their cultures have diverged:

"We used to say we were as close to our North Korean brothers as lips and teeth," said Cui Xiaodong, a Beijing trader who routinely spends months at a time in a hotel in Pyongyang. "But now it's like those people are living on the moon."

The result seems to be growing Chinese indifference to the fate of North Korea and its rulers. China is even preparing for North Korean collapse:

The People's Liberation Army, once a staunch ally of the mercurial Kim family, which has run North Korea for more than five decades, now has elaborate plans to deal with the country in case of its collapse, Chinese military sources said.

And for China, North Korea's demise might not be a bad thing:

Some Chinese academics have started arguing that North Korea's disappearance would actually not be harmful to China's long-term interests. In one unpublished paper, a specialist on Chinese security, Shi Yinhong, wrote that China could benefit in the long term from North Korea's collapse. South Korea, which would take over, would naturally gravitate toward Beijing and away from Japan and the United States, he wrote. U.S. troops would leave the peninsula and China's influence over northeast Asia would rise.

Whether a Korea united on the southern model would ultimately gravitate toward China and Russia or not is an open question, but if China sees North Korea's nuclear program as a threat and is willing to find positive effects of North Korean collapse, Kim's days may be numbered.

The JYB has previously covered Chinese-North Korean relations here and here. And here.

UPDATE: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il may have signed his own death warrant during six-power talks today.

North Korea startled a six-nation conference in China on East Asian security by announcing its intentions to formally declare its possession of nuclear weapons and to carry out a nuclear test, an administration official said Thursday.

North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Yong Il also told the gathering that his country has the means to deliver nuclear weapons, an apparent reference to the North's highly developed missile program.

The comments cast a pall over Thursday's plenary session, which included representatives of the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia, in addition to North Korea.

---

According to the [Bush] administration official, China's delegate appeared visibly angry over Kim's statement but responded in a moderate tone.

North Korea has managed to alienate and anger, and perhaps unite, the five powers of the US, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia against it.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS?

Oh, that liberal media bias...

Some interpretations of recent polls have focused on what are perceived to be downturns in Bush's public opinion ratings and support for the Iraqi situation. A Newsweek article this past weekend, for example, said: "Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the U.S. mission in Iraq" and "Against this backdrop, President George W. Bush's approval ratings continue to decline."

But the just-finished CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll does not support the hypothesis that the recent events in Iraq have had a significantly negative impact on how the public views Bush's overall job performance as president:

Bush's overall job approval rating is at 59%, essentially unchanged from the ratings he received in the last three Gallup Polls: 60% in early August, 58% in late July, and 59% in mid-July. Bush's ratings this year were generally in the high 50%/low 60% range for much of the time prior to the initiation of the war with Iraq. His ratings jumped to as high as 71% during the Iraq war, and have dropped back to levels that are now generally the same as he had before the war -- but no lower.

The key point to emphasize in the current situation is that Bush's ratings have held steady over the last 40 days or so, even in the midst of the less than positive news from Iraq...

(thanks to Hanks, who also catches Wesley Clark in a big, fat lie)

Posted by B. Preston at 10:22 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

GLBT PERSONS AND ADOPTION

Rob Douglas writes:

William L. Pierce's revealing commentary, Adopting Numbers: The Census Side Of The Story, goes on to deflate the statistical claims made by GLBT activists when it comes to their role in adoptions.

The numbers say to me, an adoptee, that there is no need to add to the potential burden adoptees face by placing them in GLBT homes. Speaking as an adoptee, I thank my lucky stars that I was placed - like the overwhelming majority of adoptees - in a two-parent, married couple home.

In response to:

"A Census Bureau report on adopted children released August 22 is certain to add fuel to the fiery debate over adoption by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons because it shows that 78 percent of all adopted children live in two-parent, married-couple households. Adoption by married couples is still the norm.

The most comprehensive data on adopted children ever collected has just been published as Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2000 by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 22-page report by the Census Bureau's Rose M. Kreider, with six additional pages of supplemental data tables, is sure to stimulate a great deal of discussion, especially in regard to the controversial topic of adoption by unmarried persons who are cohabiting, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) persons.

One of the arguments in favor of continuing to allow GLBT persons — whether living alone or cohabiting — to adopt unrelated children, including children who are languishing in the public foster-care system, is that GLBT persons represent a "last chance" resource for these children. The theory is that if GLBT persons — or for that matter, any unmarried couples — are barred from adopting, then children will needlessly grow up without parents..."

Why do so many lefty issues center on The Children--except adoption policy, in which children's best interests are seldom paramount?

Posted by B. Preston at 08:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 26, 2003

BATTLE IN BEIJING: A BRIEFING

Six-way talks over North Korea's nuclear program will begin tomorrow. Signs are that things will be interesting, though unlikely to produce any major breakthroughs. But there are signs here and there that things might at least get interesting.

Jack Pritchard, a US special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, has resigned. Pritchard had been an advocate of conciliatory approaches toward Pyongyang, thus his departure is a good sign that the US will stand firm.

All six parties come to the table with different, even conflicting, agendas. The US wants North Korea to halt its nuclear program immediately, as do China, Russia, South Korea and Japan. North Korea wants a non-aggression pact with the US, diplomatic recognition and food and technological assistance from the US, Japan and South Korea. Secondarily, it wants to delegitimize Seoul in the eyes of the South Korean people. The US says North Korea can achieve none of its goals without first disarming.

China could halt North Korea's nuclear ambitions any time it wants, by cutting off fuel and food supplies and halting overflight rights to North Korean traffic. But it hasn't, and shows no signs of willingness to do so.

For all the condemnation that President Bush's axis of evil speech received internationally, it seems that fear of a possible US attack is bringing North Korea to the table for talks. Coupled with that is North Korea's fear that should there be a second Korean war, China will not fight against the US and its allies, and it already knows that Russia is both unwilling and incapable of assisting in a conventional war. China has reportedly warned Pyongyang that it should expect no Chinese help in the event of war, reducing the North Korean regime's prospects for survival to nil. It has to talk its way out of the current stalemate, or fight to its own certain death.

While North Korea's military remains mired in Cold War-era doctrine and armed with aging, obsolete weaponry, South Korea continues to modernize its own forces. North Korea has to sell whatever weaponry it can build just to generate the cash to survive.

Japan is considering revising its pacifist constitution. The US favors revisions that would allow Japan to participate in collective defense action as well as international peace-keeping and security situations. Japan's defense budget is currently the world's second largest, despite the ambiguous status of its Self Defense Forces. Japan subjects even the most mundane North Korean ferry visiting its ports to rigorous inspections. Japan also pledges to have North Korea's abduction of 100 Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 80s on the agenda for the Beijing talks; China is unhappy with that. Japan will probably win US support here, and will thus get abductions on the agenda. Japan may also experience anti-North Korean terrorism as frustration with the abduction issue and North Korean threats grows. Japanese citizens are generally unsatisfied with their government's failure to make headway on abductions, and have recently turned to the Bush administration for help.

Currently, the picture for any sort of breakthrough is murky. The US and Japan come to the table as hawkish toward North Korea; the US, to keep nuclear weapons developed in North Korea from being sold to rogue states and terrorist groups, and Japan, because of North Korea's long-standing abduction program. North Korea's 1998 launch of a missile over mainland Japan also undoubtedly influences Japanese hawkishness, as do North Korean threats to attack Japan. China and Russia are the most conciliatory toward North Korea, though neither seems willing to back it up should war break out. South Korea, ironically, the most threatened state, is the least reliable for either side. It has come to a "common understanding" of some sort with Russia, yet is historically allied with and is defended by the US. Neither side can fully count on South Korean support for its position.

Of course, all of this should have the veneer of international (meaning UN) support, but the UN is as morally bankrupt as ever. The head of its nuclear weapons inspection program, Mohamed ElBaradei, says the US should lead by example and offer to cut its own nuclear programs before demanding that anyone else do so. Never mind the US is not accused of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and never mind that the US is taking the lead in actually trying to rein in the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Due mostly to Chinese and Russian influence, the UN has balked on taking action against North Korea. President Bush came into office proposing to unilaterally cut the US nuclear stockpile, but 9-11 and the terrorist threat have taken precendence. ElBaradei also says the US shouldn't develop missile defense, which is a non sequitur from his mission to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Missile defense would render long-range nuclear weapons obsolete. But of course, to ElBaradei the US is just wrong because it's the US.

On that, South Korea, Russia, China and North Korea probably all agree.

MORE: David Kenner blasts ElBaradei's moral equivocation between Communist thugocracies and free democracies.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

MAINSTREAMING DEVIANTS

Or, as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, defining devaincy down.

A book being sold on a popular website claims paedophiles are "loving human beings".

That popular website is Amazon.com.

In the 108-page book, which has sold 150,000 copies, Mr Riegel describes paedophiles as "sincere, concerned, loving human beings" who have probably been born with "a sexual orientation neither understood nor accepted by most others".

Pedophilia is a "sexual orientation?" We are one sick society if that view ever takes hold. Of course, in another context it already has, to the point that we may yet redefine our most foundational institution to suit a tiny minority.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:31 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

August 25, 2003

AMNESTY BY ANOTHER NAME

This has to be one of the worst ideas ever, yet it's gaining acceptance with startling swiftness: Illegal aliens from Mexico can now use their matricula cards to access government (meaning taxpayer-funded) services in more than 100 cities and 13 states.

The card has been issued by the Mexican government for more than 100 years to keep track of its citizens in the United States. But across this country cities and states are increasingly recognizing the card, too, as officials seek ways to identify residents in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and try to better serve immigrants.

Meaty paragraph, that. Mexico tracks its citizens here, but does nothing to help get them back there. It also, apparently, does a better job tracking people in the United States than we do. In the name of 9-11, cities are just letting the matricula card stand in for visas, passports, citizenship. And why do American cities want to "try to better serve (illegal) immigrants"? With whose money are these cities serving these "immigrants"? What next--voting rights for non-citizens? Well, organized labor is certainly pandering to the illegal aliens among us, and given labor's electromagnetically bound relationship to the Democrats and to presidential candidate Dick Gephardt, yes, some sort of voting rights drive is probably in the works.

The failure to deal with illegal immigration is probably the single most damning failure of the Bush administration and of our government generally. That failure led directly to 9-11 (before and during Bush's watch), and led directly to the Beltway sniper rampage (before and during Bush's watch). The Bush administration must curb illegal immigration into this country one way or the other, but of course it won't fearing a Hispanic backlash and Democrat demagoguery. Which says much about our Balkanized and generally dishonest politics nowadays.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

LORD OF THE THEATRES

The Two Towers DVD hits stores tomorrow. The Return of the King hits theatres in December. All three LOTR films will return for a marathon:

Cinephiles who couldn't get enough of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring special edition DVD, which clocked in at 208 minutes and included scenes not in the theatrical version, will be able to see the epic on the big screen in all its glory starting on December 5 in about 100 movie houses in the U.S. and 20 in Canada.

A week later, on December 12, New Line will unspool the special 214-minute extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. That version is slated to premiere as a DVD first on November 18 (the DVD of last year's "official" theatrical release is due out on Tuesday).

But wait! There's more!

For those with serious Hobbit habits longing to venture into Middle Earth for more than a few hours, New Line plans to screen all three films back-to-back-to-back on December 16 in a daylong marathon that will carry over with The Return of the King's global release on December 17.

If you go for that Dec 16th back-to-back run, you'll be sitting through something like 650 minutes of movies. And for once, it would probably be worth it.

**Memo to George Lucas: Please, please, let Peter Jackson direct Star Wars Episode III. Then let him go back a remake the first two.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

OUR FRIENDS, THE FRENCH

...don't think Hamas and Islamic Jihad are terrorist groups.

This isn't terrorism?

The bomber squeezed onto the crowded bus as it made its way from the Western Wall to the Orthodox suburbs in the north of the holy city. He set off the charge, wrapped around his body, as the bus crossed the “green line” marking the pre-1967 border between the Israeli and Arab parts of Jerusalem. A number of babies and young children were among the 20 dead and almost 100 injured. Severed limbs and torsos were scattered around the street by the force of the blast. Many were killed or maimed by ball-bearings packed into the bomb to maximise its human toll. Rescue workers, though wearily accustomed to scenes of carnage, said this was the worst they had seen.

There were claims of responsibility for the bombing from both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the region’s two main Islamic fundamentalist organisations.


(via, somewhat ironically, The Tocquevillian)

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LOSERS' LAMENT

Fred Barnes crushes Tim Noah's pathetic anti-GOP conspiracy theory better than I did.

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SADDAM AND AL QAEDA

Stephen F. Hayes, writing in The Weekly Standard:

The CIA has confirmed, in interviews with detainees and informants it finds highly credible, that al Qaeda's Number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, met with Iraqi intelligence in Baghdad in 1992 and 1998. More disturbing, according to an administration official familiar with briefings the CIA has given President Bush, the Agency has "irrefutable evidence" that the Iraqi regime paid Zawahiri $300,000 in 1998, around the time his Islamic Jihad was merging with al Qaeda. "It's a lock," says this source. Other administration officials are a bit more circumspect, noting that the intelligence may have come from a single source. Still, four sources spread across the national security hierarchy have confirmed the payment.

In interviews conducted over the past six weeks with uniformed officers on the ground in Iraq, intelligence officials, and senior security strategists, several things became clear. Contrary to the claims of its critics, the Bush administration has consistently underplayed the connections between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Evidence of these links existed before the war. In making its public case against the Iraq regime, the Bush administration used only a fraction of the intelligence it had accumulated documenting such collaboration. The intelligence has, in most cases, gotten stronger since the end of the war. And through interrogations of high-ranking Iraqi officials, documents from the regime, and further interrogation of al Qaeda detainees, a clearer picture of the links between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein is emerging.

More:

Critics of the administration insist the CIA was "pressured" by an extensive and aggressive intelligence operation set up by the Pentagon to find ties where none existed. But the Pentagon team consisted of two people, at times assisted by two others. Their assignment was not to collect new intelligence but to evaluate existing intelligence gathered by the CIA, with particular attention to any possible Iraq-al Qaeda collaboration. A CIA counterterrorism team was given a similar task, and while many agency analysts remained skeptical about links, the counterterrorism experts came away convinced that there had been cooperation.

Read the whole thing.

The JYB highlighted David Rose's reporting on these links here and here. Rose focuses on the Pentagon team, which corroborated 100 links between Saddam and al Qaeda from the 1980s to the recent past.

Why is the administration underplaying this evidence? One reason may be the Secretary of State, and his February UN presentation:

According to administration sources, Colin Powell, in his presentation before the U.N. Security Council, used only 10 or 15 percent of the newly declassified material. He relied heavily on the intelligence in Tenet's letter. Press reports about preparations for the Powell presentation have suggested that Powell refused to use the abundance of CIA documents because he found them thin and unpersuasive. This is only half right. Powell was certainly the most skeptical senior administration official about Iraq-al Qaeda ties. But several administration officials involved in preparing his U.N. presentation say that his reluctance to focus on those links had more to do with the forum for his speech--the Security Council--than with concerns about the reliability of the information.

Powell's presentation sought to do two things: make a compelling case to the world, and to the American public, about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein; and more immediately, win approval for a second U.N. resolution explicitly authorizing the use of force. The second of these objectives, these officials say, required Powell to focus the presentation on Hussein's repeated violations of Security Council resolutions. (Even in the brief portion of Powell's talk focused on Iraq-al Qaeda links, he internationalized the case, pointing out that the bin Laden network had targeted "France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Russia.") Others in the administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney, favored using more of the declassified information about Hussein's support of international terrorism and al Qaeda.

As I said before, read the whole thing. It makes a strong case that the Bush administration has actually made a weak case in connecting Saddam to al Qaeda, touching on themes familiar to JYB readers, such as the Salman Pak terrorist training camp, and the Mohammed Atta-Iraqi intel meeting in Prague.

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