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Here is an eloquent New Year's message from an Iraqi blogger, The Messopotamian:
MAY THE NEW YEAR BRING FINAL VICTORY AND PEACE TO IRAQ.
LOVE TO ALL PEACE LOVING PEOPLE EVERYWHERE.
ETERNAL SHAME AND DISGRACE TO ALL MURDERERS THUGS AND TERRORISTS.
2004 BY THE GRACE OF GOD WILL BE THE YEAR OF VICTORY
HONOR AND REMEMBRANCE TO ALL THOSE FALLEN FOR THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM, IRAQIS, AMERICANS, AND ALL COALITION MEN AND WOMEN.
WE GRIEVE FOR THE FALLEN AMERICAN AND COALITION MEN AND WOMEN AS MUCH AS FOR OUR IRAQIS, BECAUSE THESE ARE NOT INVADERS BUT LIBERATORS WHO HAVE DONE US THE GREATEST FAVOR IN OUR HISTORY. ALL BLOCKHEADS MUST GET THIS THROUGH THEIR THICK SCULLS.
SPECIAL THANKS AND NEW YEAR GREETINGS TO PRESIDENT BUSH, MR. BLAIR AND ALL ALLIED LEADERS, THANK YOU.
WE SHALL OVERCOME
Here are Joseph Farah's top ten spiked news stories in 2003:
1. The de-Christianization of America via the court system
2. NASA's use of a green-friendly but inferior material on heat shields that broke up prior to the shuttle disaster
3. The legal implications of the Supreme Court's "sodomy" ruling
4. Persecution of Christians worldwide, especially those in countries seen as "friends" of the United States
5. A major federal study that found no connection between gun laws and gun violence
6. The continued vulnerability of U.S. airports
7. The ominous free-speech implications of the Supreme Court's decision upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law
8. The Beltway sniper investigation "hero" Police Chief Charles Moose was so obsessed with avoiding "racial profiling" that he seriously hindered the investigation
9. The Terri Schindler-Schiavo case
10. Human bio-chip implant arrives for cashless transactions
A very interesting piece on blogging in USA Today by Kathy Kiely. However, I think that Ms. Kiely misses a few points.
First, she repeats at length that most bloggers don't have any credentials or experience as journalists. They don't have editors and make no pretense of objectivity. I'm not really sure where to start with this one (probably because I'm not a "professional") so I'll just delve right in. I think it's refreshing to read the opinions and expressions of just poor common folk. The media elites may believe that they have a monopoly on ideas, but it just aint so. As for lack of editors, it hasn't been readily apparent in many media outlets that editors have been up to the task (see New York Times--but more on that later). Additionally, most bloggers have direct links to speeches, statements, and other articles which they comment on so that the readers can read the direct source and judge for themselves. Finally, if you read this site you know what my political leanings are. My judgement of news events is informed by this perspective as it is with any human being. To pretend to be completely objective is a complete fallacy. The blogosphere is replete with examples of media bias. Most (all?) blogs are also replete with bias. So what's the difference? Bloggers admit their bias and don't pretend that it doesn't exist. Bloggers are not constrained by this fallacious construct of objectivity.
Second, Ms. Kiely is correct in her assertion that the blogosphere is causing the mainstream media to sit up and take notice of certain events. However, she only mentions the The Drudge Report, which broke the story of Monica Lewinsky which lead to the impeachment of a President, as an example of a controversial web site (and yes, Matt Drudge has no journalistic credentials). Of course, she specifically mentions (and manages to do so twice) the downfall of Trent Lott as a story that began on the internet and eventually made it to the mainstream media. Without repetition (and off the top of my head), I could name a few others:
It has also given many honest, thoughful citizens (and me) a chance to vent. But, as you read this, beware: I am not a professional. I have no editors. I am not objective.
Here's just a little tidbit from The Jerusalem Post chastising Bob Simon's 60 minutes piece on the Israeli fence designed to keep the Palestinians from murdering the Israelis:
By conscious editorial choice, emphasis was given to critics of the fence, with three Palestinians and an Israeli detractor counterbalanced by two Israeli proponents of the project. Nowhere did Simon report the overwhelming Israeli public support for the barrier, as indicated in an October poll by the Tami Steinmetz Center that found 82% believe the fence will prevent or significantly reduce terrorism.
Instead, a former Israeli official opposed to the fence is featured both in the program teaser and in the segment itself declaring that giving "hope" to the Palestinians, rather than building a fence, is the key to security. For emphasis, Simon reiterates: "So giving the Palestinians hope is a more effective security measure than building a fence?"
Simon also repeats without caveat the nonsensical claim of the same Israeli that "there's less terrorism when Palestinians have more hope for a state of their own." The CBS luminary has himself reported from Israel since before Oslo, when large-scale terror attacks were rare, and after Oslo's ceding of land and authority and the offer of a state, when the mass killings exploded. But the correspondent known for tough jabs is silent.
Lest you think that I'm just a toe the line, yes-man Republican, let me just say clearly, loudly and unequivocally:Bush is spending this country into ruin!!! Note: he is not a Hitlerite, imperialist, prevaricator, whatever-else-the-haters-say. But, he is a politician. He is pandering to the electorate. In some ways, he is alienating some of his base--the true conservatives. Here's why:
Medicare is a bigger ticking time bomb than Social Security. Whereas the latter's unfunded liabilities total about $7 trillion, Medicare's projected shortfall is more than $30 trillion, according to an American Enterprise Institute report by professors Jagadeesh Gokhale and Kent Smetters. They say that to make the two programs solvent, payroll taxes would have to immediately almost double (and the revenue invested in securities paying an annual real return of at least 3 percent). Alternatively, Social Security and Medicare benefits would have to be cut by more than 40 percent immediately. For each year that passes without reforms, they admonish, the fiscal imbalance will grow by about $1.4 trillion.
That assessment was done before the prescription drug bill passed. Now, the numbers are even worse.
I saw a television ad for an upcoming Michael Jackson special and I thought: why are they promoting this sick freak? Then I read this and found that it was a quid pro quo for Ed Bradley's interview of the sick freak on 60 minutes:
It appears that, in exchange for landing the first exclusive interview with Jackson, the network agreed to broadcast the entertainment show it had tabled when Jackson was booked in Santa Barbara on seven counts of child molestation. There is no mention of Jackson's legal woes in the special.
In a word: revolting
Sometimes the do-gooders just can't help themselves:
Keiko should probably never have been removed from his native pod. But, once that was done, nothing in his story suggests that this highly social mammal, imprinted on humans at an early age, was a serious candidate for return to the rough-and-tumble of life on the ocean waves. It is a classic anthropomorphic fallacy to believe that an animal's best interests are whatever a human would desire under similar circumstances.
In his latest domicile, Keiko was supported by an international team of experts who fed him dead herring at an annual cost of over half a million dollars and worked feverishly to continue to "free" him. Despite all the money, time and sincere effort, Keiko did not die in the company of his own species, but up against a pier, seeking human consolation.
It's always a bad idea to get scientific information from most media outlets--especially broadcast media. That said, here's a good primer on the whole "Mad Cow Disease" issue and related hysteria:
That didn't stop vCJD from being labeled the human form of mad cow. A popular orthodoxy has evolved, fueled by media frenzy, that meat contaminated with the brain prions of mad cows could give people the disease. "It's all been much ado about nothing," said Scott C. Ratzan, director of the Emerson College/Tufts University School of Medicine Program in Health Communications and editor of the Journal of Health Communications. "Based on available scientific evidence, we can be virtually certain that mad cow disease poses no threat to humans."
While several studies published in Nature reported an association between vCJD and BSE, they are far from conclusive and other researchers question the theory. No one has ever been able to establish that any vCJD victim has ever eaten beef from a diseased animal or that infected prions can cross the species barrier and cause disease in humans. There also aren't increased cases in cultures where brains are a favorite dish. Transmission from other exposures doesn't hold up, either, as there's no higher incidence among farmers, slaughterhouse workers, butchers or others in greater contact with BSE or animal products.
Here's Peggy Noonan's answer to ongoing public debate regarding the display of religious symbols:
The answer is not to present in the school's display case the sorry little compromise of the 1990s--the tired little Santa and the dusty dreidel. The answer is to display a menorah and explain what it is, and its history, and what it means to Jews. The answer is to display a crucifix or a cross and explain what it means to Christians. And, yes, the answer is to show a Koran and explain what it is. The answer is not to ban Christmas carols from the school pageant but to sing them; they are part of our culture and history, and they are beautiful. And there are other religious songs that are not Christian. Sing them too.
The answer is not to banish belief but to bring it in and explain it in loving terms to our hungry-minded children. This will truly teach them appreciation and diversity and respect and regard for others. We, their parents, are limiting them and harming them by hiding the things of faith, or forcing them underground. They deserve light.
Much as some (no, not many--just vocal ones) would hate to admit it, America was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics. In many ways, America still abides by such ethics as compassion and helping the needy. This is what makes America the Greatest Country on Earth:
The first US flight to Iran since the Iranian hostage crisis ended in 1981, which carried emergency aid to the earthquake-stricken population of Bam on Sunday, will be followed by more in the humanitarian mission, the US Air Force says.
The US combined air operation centre in the Gulf state of Qatar said the Air National Guard C-130 which landed in Kerman early Sunday "carried aerial port operations and support agency experts to assess the operational and equipment needs for follow-on aircraft."
"The assessments are vital because the Department of Defense is loading C-5 and C-17 aircraft for follow-on relief flights," a statement said.
The C-130 Hercules brought 20 pallets of humanitarian aid and five pallets of such medical supplies as intravenous fluids, bandages, gauze, and surgical equipment, plus food and purified water.
"American airmen and Iranian soldiers worked side-by-side forming a human chain to unload the 20,000 pounds (9,000 kilograms) of badly needed material into waiting trucks," the statement said.
Here's some scary stuff:
Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi provided al-Qaida with chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction before changing heart and agreeing to destroy his arms program, Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin has learned.
Libyan intelligence chief Musa Kussa told U.S. and UK spy agencies that tens of thousands of weapons had been produced at 10 secret sites in the country. Kussa has named hundreds of what he termed "sleeper" al-Qaida agents in Britain and the U.S.