Saturday, May 31, 2008

Meaningless action

The AP reports:
Barack Obama has resigned his 20 year membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in the aftermath of inflammatory remarks by his longtime pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and more recent fiery remarks at the church by another minister.
Trinity United is an explicitly racist church and has been for the 20 years that Sen. Obama belonged to it. That he resigns now tells us nothing but that the Obama campaign has been studying the polling data. The immediate benefit to the campaign is that, for the "unbiased" media at least, this resignation is all the excuse that they will need to ignore the issue from here on.

More here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Soon only animals will have human rights

Animal rights activists have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights:

His name is Matthew [image at right], he is 26 years old, and his supporters hope to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

But he won't be able to give evidence on his own behalf - since he is a chimpanzee. Animal rights activists led by British teacher Paula Stibbe are fighting to have Matthew legally declared a 'person' so she can be appointed as his guardian if the bankrupt animal sanctuary where he lives in Vienna is forced to close.

An anonymous businessman has offered a substantial amount to cover his care, but under Austrian law only humans are entitled to have guardians.

The country's supreme court has upheld a lower court ruling which rejected the activists' request to have a trustee appointed for Matthew.

So now 36-year-old Miss Stibbe and the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories have filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The pretense for this case appears to be a fraud: an animal does not need a "guardian" in order to be taken care of. If the "anonymous businessman" with too much money were genuinely concerned about Matthew, the chimp, he could buy Matthew from the animal sanctuary where Matthew currently resides. That would be 100% effective and also much less expensive than paying lawyers to pursue this series of court cases.

Contrast this with the continuing attempts in Europe to limit human rights for humans. There is some good news on this front, at least for those who can afford the legal expenses. Douglas Farah writes:

Today there was good news on freedom of speech front, as the Wall Street Journal won a complete victory in a libel case involving terror finance issues. The lead reporter, the venerable Glenn Simpson, is now 4-0 since 9/11 in these types of cases.

While the victory is a testament to his tenacity and care, it is also a testament to the courage of the WSJ in willing to fight and win these cases. Most are lost simply because the will to fight has gone out of so much of the media, who would often rather settle than protect
the truth.

There were similar legal attacks on Channel 4 (UK) for airing the documentary "Undercover Mosque." As Alistair Palmer of the (UK) Telegraph writes of this documentary and the reaction by the West Midlands police:
The programme recorded preachers at the Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham making remarks that were not only bigoted and full of hate but also bordered on incitement to murder. Abu Usamah, one of the main preachers, was shown saying: “Osama Bin Laden, he’s better than a thousand Tony Blairs, because he’s a Muslim”; “Allah has created the woman, even if she gets a PhD, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete”; and advocating that homosexuals should be “thrown off” mountains. [Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police] Mr. Patani’s reaction? To refer the programme makers to the Crown Prosecution Service for inciting racial hatred.

He also referred the programme to Ofcom, the TV regulator, sending out a press release as he did so. Mr Patani’s press release claimed that “those featured in the programme had been misrepresented” and that it had “undermined community cohesion”. Those claims were blatantly false, as the Ofcom investigation itself made crystal clear.

To get Mr. Patani to stop his accusations, Channel 4 had to sue the police for libel, winning a £100,000 settlement. Channel 4 had the privilege of defending itself with the argument the documentary was truthful. By contrast, for a Canadian accused under 'hate speech' laws, truth is not a defense.

RELATED: See Mark Steyn defend himself against similar charges in an Alberta (Canada) Human Rights Commission hearing here.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lying as a political strategy

Rep. Paul Kanjorski explains the meaning of the Democrats anti-war stance in 2006:
"I'll tell you my impression. We really in this last election, when I say we...the Democrats, I think pushed it as far as we can to the end of the fleet, didn't say it, but we implied it. That if we won the Congressional elections, we could stop the war. Now anybody was a good student of Government would know that wasn't true. But you know, the temptation to want to win back the Congress, we sort of stretched the facts...and people ate it up."
Among the people fooled was Osama bin Laden. In a video from September last year, bin Laden said:
"After several years of tragedies of this war, the vast majority of you want it stopped. Thus, you elected the Democratic party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven't made a move worth mentioning."
Obviously, the Democrats need better communication with foreign leaders so those leaders don't feel betrayed by Democratic lies.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Better thinking through chemistry

As reported by the Economist, two prescription drugs are being used/abused by a large number of scientists to improve their focus, concentration, and memory:

Provigil [modafinil] and Ritalin [methylphenidate] really do enhance cognition in healthy people. Provigil, for example, adds the ability to remember an extra digit or so to an individual's working memory (most people can hold seven random digits in their memory, but have difficulty with eight). It also improves people's performance in tests of their ability to plan. Because of such positive effects on normal people, says the report, there is growing use of these drugs to stave off fatigue, help shift-workers, boost exam performance and aid recovery from the effects of long-distance flights.

Earlier this year, Nature, one of the world's leading scientific journals, carried out an informal survey of its (mostly scientific) readers. One in five of the 1,400 people who responded said they had taken Ritalin, Provigil or beta blockers (drugs that can have an anti-anxiety effect) for non-medical reasons. They used them to stimulate focus, concentration or memory. Of that one in five, 62% had taken Ritalin and 44% Provigil. Most users had somehow obtained their drugs on prescription or else bought them over the internet.

It remains to be seen whether normal people will find the side-effects of these drugs to be better or worse than those of caffeine or cocaine.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bizarre hero worship

In a country filled with genuinely accomplished athletes, Men's Fitness magazine chose Barack Obama (who smokes) as one of the 25 "fittest guys in America." More at NewsBusters and Pal2pal.
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