Actor Tom Hanks was inducted Thursday as an honorary member of the U.S. Army's Ranger Hall of Fame for his accurate portrayal of a World War II Army Ranger company commander in the movie "Saving Private Ryan" and for his continued commitment to honoring those who served in the war.
Besides his role in "Saving Private Ryan," Hanks was cited for serving as the national spokesman for the World War II Memorial Campaign, for being the honorary chairman of the D-Day Museum Capital Campaign, and for his role in writing and helping to produce the Emmy Award-winning miniseries, "Band of Brothers."
Via the Corner, some pretty interresting photos of a recent trip to North Korea, plus Enlish translations of the original Russian commentary. If you read Russian, the original photos, with author's commentary is located here
You know, in my mind, the release Wednesday of portions of a report, stating that approximately 500 chemical munitions had been recovered since 2003, would be a significant, or at least, newsworthy event. But apparently not to the good folks at the SF Chronicle (our local rag). The only place it's mentioned is a blog entry by one of the Chronicle's editors.
Now, I suppose that, if the paper had to provide a justification, it would be that these munitions date from before the 1991 Gulf War. However, a few points:
1. The existence of these munitions show that Saddam had been lying, and that pre-war weapons inspections had been ineffective.
2. Opponents of continued deployment (such as Senators Dodd, Leahy, Kerry and a few others) don't make the pre-/post-Gulf War distinction, insisting categorically that Saddam did not have such weapons.
3. What we've seen is only one declassified summary. Notably, the summary is silent on the issue of post-Gulf War Iraqi WMD efforts.
In any event, I'm disappointed, though not really surprised, that this has received no coverage in the Chronicle.
From Wednesday's Senate debate on S. 2766, - Senator Kennedy attempts to justify his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, which would change the Fair Labor Standards Act to increase the minimum wage (Congressional Record vol. 152, at S6202 - S6203):
Mr. ENZI. [Senator from Wyoming] Mr. President, I yield myself 4 additional minutes.
The Senator from Massachusetts has said: Let’s have an up-or-down vote. There are a lot of things around here that we talk about having an up-or-down vote on. We have not been able to have up-or-down votes, and it is always because there are some other amendments that might make the bill better. Sometimes they are even germane to the bill we are talking about.
The one we are talking about, the amendment we are putting this on now is Department of Defense. Yes, you can make some arguments about how this is defense related, I guess, but what we would normally do, if we were serious on an issue such as this, is bring it up as a separate issue and allow amendments to it. But that is not going to happen because there are a few things in my bill that the other side of the aisle would not like to have.
[ . . . ]
Mr. KENNEDY. [Senator from Massachusetts] [ . . . ] We have a right to alter that and change that now when the roll is called. Let’s say that we stand for those workers who are working hard, trying to make a difference for their families, playing by the rules. I hear from my friend from Wyoming they should not be on the Defense authorization bill. How many soldiers who are over there fighting in Iraq, mothers or fathers, might have been earning the minimum wage? What are they fighting for? They are fighting for American values.
American values are to treat people fairly and with respect. Increase the minimum wage, and we will have taken a very important step down that road.
Let me see if I get this straight - the connection between the minimum wage and the defense bill is that soldiers are fighting for American values? I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader as to whether this makes raising the minimum wage sufficiently relevant to a defense bill.
On the other hand, the South Korean government is urging for continuous observation and more prudence. Seoul asserts that it’s not exactly clear for the time being whether it’s really a missile or just a space launch vehicle (SLV) to launch a satellite into an orbit, what North Korea’s status on the preparation is, and when the launch will actually take place. Some governmental officials even complain that some foreign news sources are reporting "reckless speculation." It has been reported that the government’s official position is although symptoms in North Korea appear to be arrangements for an SLV or missile launch, they can’t clearly conclude whether it’s launch preparation or not. Similarly, against foreign and domestic conjectures that the launch is imminent since North Korea injected the vehicle with liquid fuel, the government thinks that "the fuel is removable," according to reports.
A fine distinction. However, this is a distinction without a difference, given that the difference between an ICBM and a space launch vehicle is a matter of payload. So, this goes down as another point to support my inability to take the South Korean government seriously.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The divine Trinity - "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" - could also be known as "Mother, Child and Womb" or "Rock, Redeemer, Friend" at some Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) services under an action Monday by the church's national assembly.
Delegates to the meeting voted to ``receive'' a policy paper on gender-inclusive language for the Trinity, a step short of approving it. That means church officials can propose experimental liturgies with alternative phrasings for the Trinity, but congregations won't be required to use them.
"Rock, Redeemer, Friend"? One wonders whether they also considered "Rock, Paper, Scissors"?
The article continues:
The Rev. Deborah Funke of Montana warned that the paper would be "theologically confusing and divisive" at a time when the denomination of 2.3 million members faces other troublesome issues.
Proposition H, which won a 58 percent majority, would have outlawed possession of handguns by all city residents except law enforcement officers and others who needed the guns for professional purposes. It also would have forbidden the manufacture, sale and distribution of all guns and ammunition in San Francisco.
The National Rifle Association sued on behalf of gun owners, advocates and dealers the day after the measure passed. The NRA argued that Prop. H overstepped local government authority and intruded into an area regulated by the state. The city agreed to delay enforcement of the measure while the suit was pending.
In today's ruling, Judge James Warren said California law, which authorizes police agencies to issue handgun permits, implicitly prohibits a city or county from banning handgun possession by law-abiding adults.
That law "demonstrates the Legislature's intent to occupy, on a statewide basis, the field of residential and commercial handgun possession to the exclusion of local government entities,'' Warren wrote in a 30-page decision.
If the city were allowed to ban handguns within its borders, he said, nearby counties could be flooded by handguns no longer allowed in San Francisco. Such a possibility illustrates the need for gun ownership to be regulated on a state level, Warren said.
In the SF Chronicle, there's an opinion piece which discusses Japanese treatment of POWs during the Second World War. The author attempts to link, in what I consider a ham-handed manner, that treatment with the current war:
Because their attacks killed civilians including children, the bombers are deemed by their captors to be unworthy of the protections accorded to prisoners of war by international law. Special military tribunals are established to try and sentence these "enemy combatants" for their crimes.
This may sound like recent events, but it describes the fate of U.S. air crews shot down during the 1942 Doolittle raid, America's celebrated first attack during World War II on the Japanese homeland. Some of the Doolittle men were sentenced to death and executed, which is often forgotten in accounts of the dashing heroics of the raid. More widely remembered is the fate of tens of thousands of other allied captives, the deprivation and seemingly random brutality they suffered at the hands of their Japanese captors, as dramatized in movies such as "The Bridge on the River Kwai."
[ . . . ]
Things changed dramatically with the escalation of Japan's military involvement in China in the 1930s. Although this developed into a full-scale conflict in 1937, no formal state of war was declared. One reason for this was philosophical -- Japan was not at war with the Chinese people, but with the insurgents and bandit leaders who oppressed them. The goal of Japan's China campaign was to remove the corrupt, unpopular leaders of a fractious yet strategically important country (sound familiar?).
The absence of a declared war was of grave significance to captured Chinese combatants. Under Japanese law, a formal state of war would have begun the formation within the military of an administrative apparatus for the processing and oversight of POWs in accordance with established regulations. With no declaration of war, the disposition of captive Chinese was left to the discretion of the commanders of the units which captured them. To frontline combat units, POWs were a burden at best, and might even be a hated enemy who had killed comrades and could thus be used, without repercussion, for bayonet practice.
[ . . . ]
Utsumi does not seek to justify or defend Japan's POW policies, but in explaining them in terms of rules, regulations and administrative failures her book makes them seem sadly familiar. With a worsening military situation, tempers fray, empathy fades and law becomes seemingly irrelevant. Individual morality becomes the only thing that shields the helpless from the barbaric. Yet as Utsumi shows, it was with an acute awareness of international legal norms that Japan's leaders brought it to this dark place. I hope her book will be translated into English. It is an important work, and, in the opinion of this reader, shows us that we would be mistaken to think we could never tread a similar path.
In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. - Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
I was reminded of that passage upon seeing an ad for Al Gore's global warming movie, An Inconvenient Truth. The ad featured what appeared to be a time-lapse movie of a geograpic region being swallowed up by the oceans.
The problem is that Gore's Inconvenient Truth suffers from its own inconvenient truths, as exemplified in this TCS article. A few examples:
(1) Near the beginning of the film, Gore pays respects to his Harvard mentor and inspiration, Dr. Roger Revelle. Gore praises Revelle for his discovery that atmospheric CO2 levels were rising and could potentially contribute to higher temperatures at a global scale. There is no mention of Revelle's article published in the early 1990s concluding that the science is "too uncertain to justify drastic action." (S.F. Singer, C. Starr, and R. Revelle, "What to do about Greenhouse Warming: Look Before You Leap. Cosmos 1 (1993) 28-33.)
(2) Gore discusses glacial and snowpack retreats atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, implying that human induced global warming is to blame. But Gore fails to mention that the snows of Kilimanjaro have been retreating for more than 100 years, largely due to declining atmospheric moisture, not global warming. Gore does not acknowledge the two major articles on the subject published in 2004 in the International Journal of Climatology and the Journal of Geophysical Research showing that modern glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro was initiated by a reduction in precipitation at the end of the nineteenth century and not by local or global warming.
[ . . . ]
(5) Gore claims that sea level rise could drown the Pacific islands, Florida, major cities the world over, and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. No mention is made of the fact that sea level has been rising at a rate of 1.8 mm per year for the past 8,000 years; the IPCC notes that "No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected."
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And it doesn't help that Gore admitted to exeaggerating, sorry, "over-representing" the scope of the problem (via Grist):
Q. There's a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What's the right mix?
A. I think the answer to that depends on where your audience's head is. In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.
Over time that mix will change. As the country comes to more accept the reality of the crisis, there's going to be much more receptivity to a full-blown discussion of the solutions.
Lovely. Bear patrol, anyone? So not only is he prone to exaggeration, he believes that "full-blown discussion" is possible only when America accepts his opinion.
And, in the absence of "full-blown discussion" concerning the existence or extent of "the crisis," there's always smearing, as Jonah Goldberg points out:
Now, it's true that Earth has gotten warmer — one degree since the 19th century — and it will probably get warmer still. And it's probably true that human activity plays a significant part in all that. But it's also true that we don't have a clear picture of what's happening now, never mind what will happen. Just ask the 60 climatologists from around the world who wrote Canada's prime minister that "observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future." But that's all beside the point to Gore & Co., who say the time for debate is over. And if you disagree, get ready for the witch hunt. Major news media have gone after scientists who argue there's still time to study global warming rather than plunge into some half-baked environmental jihad that could waste possibly trillions of dollars.
As Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at MIT, recently lamented in the Wall Street Journal: "Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science."
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To borrow a popular slogan on the Left these days, it's a climate of fear.* I'm tempted to call it The New Lysenkoism, but Gore has yet to have any dissenting climatologists shot.