November 30, 2006

Tonight’s Jamil ‘Captain Tuttle’ Hussein and AP (Always Paranoid) Update

Let’s see (go to Curt’s “UPDATE 1530hrs PST” at the link, and read the whole post to get fully up to date; UPDATE — It’s on the wires; also here):

  • Jamil Hussein has not made an appearance but has supposedly confirmed his story about the burning of the six Sunnis three times. Until we see him, he’s Iraq’s “Captain Tuttle” (one has to wonder if Mr. Hussein is destined to suffer Captain Tuttle’s tragic fate).
  • AP now admits that the part of the original story about four mosques burning is down to one that is “badly damaged by explosives and shows signs of scorching from fire.” I am not aware of any formal correctons sent out to AP subscribers to correct this stunning error.
  • No name identification of the remaining five alleged victims has been done. A person from AP who called me back in response to my phone request to speak with John Daniszewski, and my message left for him (my message was left with a person, not on his VoiceMail), confirmed this fact this afternoon. I informed this person that I was having a hard time believing that in roughly six days, some local Iraqi news outlet hadn’t published the names of the victims yet (that is, if there are really five other victims). I was told they’re “doing all they can.”
  • AP utterly failed to explain how their “story” can possibly be true in light of the following assertion by Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesman for Iraq’s Interior Ministry: “Khalaf said the ministry had dispatched a team to the Hurriyah neighborhood and to the morgue but found no witnesses or evidence of burned bodies.”

And I’m sorry, AP’s last paragraph so over the top I wonder why they shouldn’t just be booted out the country for being immature, childish jerks:

Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, the government imposed censorship on local media and severely restricted foreign media coverage, monitoring transmissions and sending secret police to follow journalists. Those who violated the rules were expelled and in some cases jailed.

Y’know, Eason Jordan at CNN admitted it (a couple of years before he falsely accused the US military of “targeting journalists“), but surely other media outlets were willing to self-censor their Saddam-era coverage of Iraq to maintain their precious “access.” What Iraq’s Interior Ministry is asking is a courtesy that is no different than any other municipal police department would request and receive, namely that they (the police, and by extension the military in this case) be allowed to have their side of the story presented before news outlets go off half-cocked and issue incomplete and possibly inaccurate reports about what may or may not have happened when incidents take place. Without the context from the police (or military), the chances that errors in reporting will take place are greatly increased. Since the errors and lies in Iraq appear to routinely exaggerate the level of violence and mayhem, and to routinely falsely claim or exaggerate the degree of civilian casualties, AP’s and others’ inaccurate reporting could very well be feeding the anger that leads to the violence. Why should I not think that this is exactly what AP wants?

It seems to me that AP and the rest of the press in Iraq prefers to get their uncorrobated, uncontextualized stories out as fast as they can before the police or military can even respond. Thousands of news outlets therefore get rumors and, as has already been shown in some cases, demonstrable lies passed off as “news.” If they end up being exaggerated, or not true, it’s “oh well,” and nothing else happens. And then these people have the nerve to play the freedom of the press card as the main element of the story (“Iraq Ministry Forms Unit to Monitor News”)? Horsecrap.

The past two weeks have shown anyone with open eyes that it has never only been about the suppression of good news, which has been going on for years. No, it’s much worse than that. The press blindly passes on spin and propaganda from the enemy and questionable (if even existing) sources, and dismisses or ignores what our military or the Iraqi government says. This isn’t journalism; it’s subversion.

The lesson is that no reporting out of Iraq that does not give at least equal play to the military’s or government’s version of events can be believed. Policymakers and planners who are placing any reliance on unbalanced media reports out of Iraq are gullible and dangerous fools.

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UPDATE: Other voices –
- Brutally Honest: “Ballsy bastards, eh?”
- USA Today’s On Deadline has an update.
- Hot Air: “…. nothing more than “fake but accurate” with the “fake” part as yet unsettled.”
- SeeDubya at Junkyard Blog: “The answer appears to be that he doesn’t really exist, at least as a Police Captain. But even if he did, AP’s defense is no defense. It just affirms their incompetence.”
- A Syria(s) insight from Dan Riehl.
- Michelle Malkin, at the current end of her day-long post, has confirmed with Centcom that Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf Al-Kenani is legit. See AP? That wasn’t so difficult.
- Dean Esmay totally misses the point in so many ways, and his commenters let him have it. Not four mosques, Dean — ONE. No names of five victims, etc., etc.
- Stephen Spruell at NRO’s Media Blog says “it remains a standoff” (perception, yes; reality, no), but adds this question: “Given our enemy’s goal of driving us from Iraq by undermining domestic political support for our mission there, shouldn’t the AP be making more of an effort to explain fully to its readers just who the hell this guy is?Well yeah; that’s why it is objectively NOT a standoff, Steve.
- Blue Crab Boulevard: “(AP) could have actually done themselves real harm this time. One can but hope.”
- Don Surber’s demand from earlier today stands: “OK, show him. Until then, I can only conclude he does not exist.”
- Confederate Yankee: “In short, we aren’t questioning all of AP’s stories based upon a single story, we are questioning a broken methodology that lead to such a story. There exists in the media’s reporting in Iraq no effective editorial checks at the very root level of reporting, to verify that the most basic elements of the story are indeed factual, much less biased.”
- Ace: “AP dodges the issue, stating they merely erred by calling him an official police spokesman. But that’s not the charge: The charge isn’t that he’s not a spokesman. It’s that he’s not a cop at all.”
- Allah at Hot Air, in the process of vetting the acknowledged difficulties with name similarities, characterizes the final paragraph of the AP report (the Saddam comparison) in his inimitable way as “undistilled douchebaggery.”
- LGF: “(AP) refuse(s) to deal with this endemic rot, even though the corruption has been exposed over and over again.”

UPDATE 2: Curt at Flopping Aces has a direct Q&A answer to the “burned bodies” question at his “UPDATE 1545hrs PST”:

Q There is conflicting news about burning six people in one of the Baghdad neighborhoods. What is the truth about this incident?

A This is another rumor; we dispatched our forces to the area where the rumor claimed the burning took place and found nothing. We also send a team to Al-Dab Aladly (medical center) and I was in touch with this center. No one can confirm any burned, dead body was received. MOD also has no information about this incident, either.

UPDATE 3: Countercolumn — “Kathleen Carroll, You May Resign Your Post.” Carroll is the same person who criticized the critics of Green Helmet Guy and the fauxtography in Lebanon. She was shown to be a complete fool, and her news organization exposed as a complete tool. The AP’s Board of Directors needs to be asking serious questions, assuming they don’t want to see the American press’s print circulation drop faster than Carl Lewis used to sprint.

UPDATE 4: Gateway Pundit and Strategy Page have a tremendously important question about the validity of recent death toll claims in Iraq.

UPDATE 5: More (to be updated continually for a while) from Democracy Project; Right Wing Nut House; a soldier checking in with American Thinker (“A review of the databases that painstakingly record every single incident in Iraq shows no evidence or report of the event. It is hard to believe that something as momentous as this would have escaped the notice of both the U.S. military and the entire Iraqi government.”);

Friends of the Earth to Starving Africans: Drop Dead

Filed under: Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:47 pm

At Reason’s Hit & Run Blog (HT Instapundit), one Arthur Williams is quoted as saying this about Sierra Leone:

We are a nation just recovering from years of civil war and now to attack us in this manner is now making our people once more vulnerable.”

(Aside: “We?” Is Williams a native Sierra Leonean? — Ed.)

Williams is not complaining about armed attacks, or terrorism, or even missionaries excessively proselytizing. No, his outraged reaction is part of this:

In this case, local FOE (Friends of the Earth) activists are demanding that Ghana and Sierra Leone recall rice imports from the US because they are “contaminated” with a harmless herbicide resistance gene.

The genetically modified rice was approvied by USDA in a decision that was apparently so non-controversial that the WaPo article covering it didn’t even carry an objection from anyone.

Starvation is apparently a preferable outcome.
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RELATED: Fairfax County, VA to the homeless — Go Ahead and Starve (WaPo:”Freshly Baked Handouts Forbidden in Fairfax”; HT Keeler Report)

Jamil Hussein Update

From the press conference (quoted at Michelle Malkin):

For example, we have some of the respected news outlets that deal with news fast and have a relation with many TV channels and the media in general, who distributed a story quoting a person called Jamil Hussein. Afterward, we searched our sources in our staff for anyone by this name– maybe he wore an MOI uniform and gave a different name to the reporter for money. And the second name used is Lt. Maythem.

However, all of you know that the ministry of interior has a large public affairs office and its official spokesman, and we are ready to answer any questions you may have. Therefore, you should contact MOI PAO for all your needs to get real, true news. Based on that, we strongly deny any relation with those two names.

More to come this evening when there’s time to digest, but in the meantime, read up:
- Hot Air
- Michelle Malkin
- Patterico
- NYT’s Blog (!)
- American Thinker
- Blackfive
- Memeorandumscroll down a little; Michelle’s post is the peg (Update: link is to the page as of 11PM Nov. 30, and has Michelle’s post at the top)
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UPDATE, 2:30 PM: Have to note that Curt at Flopping Aces has a new post (scroll down to “UPDATE 1000hrs PST”; HT Malkin) that includes a laughably inadequate non-response response from AP.

Timely Holiday Reminder: Forget the Extended Warranty (with a couple of exceptions)

Filed under: Business Moves,Money Tip of the Day — Tom @ 11:45 am

From Consumer Reports (via ZDnet’s Hardware 2.0 blog; HT Techdirt):

This holiday season, shoppers are expected to spend a whopping $1.6 billion on extended warranties for laptops, flat-screen TVs, other electronics, and appliances.

And almost all of it will be money down the drain.

Retailers are pushing hard to get you to buy extended warranties, or service plans, because they’re cash cows. Stores keep 50 percent or more of what they charge for warranties. That’s more than they can make selling actual products.

“You sell a $400 television set and maybe make $10,” Eric Arnum, editor of Warranty Week, a trade newsletter, says of retailers. “But you sell a $100 warranty and make $50.”

For the consumer, extended warranties are notoriously bad deals because:

  • Products seldom break within the extended-warranty window (typically around three years), our data show.
  • When electronics and appliances do break, the repair often costs about the same as the cost of the warranty…..

Two possible exceptions

There are two caveats to our just-say-no advice: It’s worth considering an extended warranty if you’re buying a rear-projection microdisplay TV. Repair costs can be high, and these sets have been three times more likely to need repairs than other types of TVs. We also think it may be wise to get an extended warranty (which includes extended tech support) if you’re buying an Apple computer, because they come with only 90 days of phone tech support.

I agree that extended warranties are usually a bad idea, but also have to agree that AppleCare (the name for Apple’s three-year extended warranty) is an absolute must. I have found that the phone support alone pays for itself in money and grief saved, and the occasional logic board that fries in less than three years would be disastrously expensive without AppleCare. The service is a bit pricey (but worth it) for laptops, but very affordable for desktops, and includes onsite service for a year (maybe more).

The Consumer Reports piece goes on to talk about repair rates, suggests a number of other protective steps, and is worth the full read.

More Stem Cell News You Can Use (113006)

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 10:16 am

From Blackburn, UK, use of adult stem cells saves a life:

Stem cell donation gives sister a new future
10:37am Friday 24th November 2006
A Blackburn woman who beat leukaemia after being given her sister’s immune system through a pioneering technique today thanked her for the gift of life.

Christine O’Toole, 39, said she was looking forward to spending Christmas with her three children after her life was saved by sister Susan Bradley.

Christine, who lives in Greenfield Avenue, Blackburn, received stem cells from Susan’s healthy immune system, which allowed her to fight the deadly disease.

Her world was turned upside down last July when she was diagnosed with myeloid leukaemia, which attacks the immune system and would have killed her within a year.

She was told there was a one-in-four chance one of her three brothers and two sisters would have the right genetic make-up to give her their stem cells.

Luckily 45-year-old Susan, who also lives in Greenside Avenue, provided a match this time last year.

She had to give up medication for her arthritis and underwent a four-hour session to extract the cells.

Then about half-a-pint of the cells were pumped into Christine’s body – in just 10 minutes.

At her Greenside Avenue, Blackburn home, surrounded by pictures of her children, a fit and well Christine said: “It is incredible. She has saved my life. The hospital gave me an 80 per cent chance of survival and if I get past five years they say it will be like I never had leukaemia. I am so grateful.

“It is like I am a newborn baby.

“Any one of my brothers and sisters would have done it. I was confident my family would back me 100 per cent. We are a close family.”

Couldn’t Help But Notice (113006)

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:24 am

Wal-Mart deserves style points for this idea:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) is edging into selling video downloads by offering buyers of the “Superman Returns” DVD a chance to buy downloads of the same movie, beginning Wednesday.The world’s largest retailer said Tuesday that shoppers have the choice of paying $1.97 to download the movie to a portable device, such as Apple’s iPod or Microsoft’s Zune, or paying $2.97 to download it to a laptop or desktop computer. For $3.97, customers can download the movie for both formats.

“This unique Superman Returns physical/digital DVD combination not only marks our first step into the video downloads market, but gives our customers the best of both worlds in movie entertainment,” said Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart’s divisional merchandise manager for digital media.

OK, so you have to buy the physical DVD to get the cheapo downloads, but when you average out the cost, it’s not bad at all. A non-digital person could find a digital friend or neighbor and leverage the heck out of this thing.

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Venezuela can do it, why can’t we?

Unlike with most U.S. electronic voting machines, Venezuelans will get paper receipts that verify their choices were properly recorded, and must deposit them into boxes before leaving the polls. After Sunday’s vote, election officials monitored by representatives of each candidate will count millions of the paper receipts for comparison to the electronic totals.

What’s driving this in Venezuela, of course, are fears that strongman Hugo Chavez will rig the election if left to his own devices. Fine — even if you don’t think top-down fraud is realistically possible here, in the absence of paper receipts and parallel counting, where is the protection against hackers or small-scale fraud? It doesn’t take much to turn an election.

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“The U.S. government’s first-ever effort to use trade sanctions to personally aggravate a foreign president” may or may not be effective, but it at least has forced coveage of the relatively little-known fact that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and his favored “600 loyalist families” live the high life while their people starve.

Ask Us What WE Think, Bob

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:19 am

Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this Earth.

Ronald Reagan — “A Time for Choosing,” 1964

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Boring Made Dull notes Bob Taft’s effort to confirm the truth of what the Gipper said:

Before leaving office Gov. Bob Taft will push the state legislature to remove a spending cap on a program that has funded almost 700 preservation and cleanup projects, a staff member said.

Lawmakers put a $400 million spending limit on the Clean Ohio Fund when they approved it in 2001, the year after voters passed the program that Taft pitched as a way to build recreation areas, parks and wildlife habitats.

It seems only fair to me that the taxpayers should be asked again, and that extra money should not be presumptively spent. Of course, if Bob Taft grasped that, he would not be the most unpopular governor in the country.

PC Run Amok in the Windy City

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:14 am

An AP report in WaPo (HT Pro Ecclesia and many others) leads as follows, and there’s no real need to read further to grasp the madness:

A public Christmas festival is no place for the Christmas story, the city says.

John Edwards Really Makes Ridicule Too Easy

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:09 am

First it was sending out an aide to try to circumvent the lines at Wal-Mart to get a new Sony Playstation 3 a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the latest embarrassment (HT Don Luskin; bold is mine), and Wal-Mart also figures into thsisone:

Former Sen. John Edwards is to spend an hour at the Manchester Barnes & Noble tonight promoting his new book. We find his choice of venue very interesting.

“Wal-Mart makes plenty of money. They need to pay their people well,” Edwards said at a Pittsburgh anti-Wal-Mart rally in August.

So naturally Edwards is holding his book signing at Barnes & Noble instead of Wal-Mart. Which is too bad for his anti-low-wages campaign, because in Manchester Wal-Mart pays hourly employees more than Barnes & Noble does.

The Barnes & Noble where Edwards will hawk his book pays $7 an hour to start. The Wal-Mart that sits just yards away pays $7.50 an hour.

If Edwards by some miracle actually gets his party’s presidential nomination, they are so doomed.

Excerpt of the Day: Walter Williams

Filed under: Economy,Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:04 am

In a Wednesday Townhall column, Williams issues his periodic reminder of how far we have strayed from the Constitution, and towards government-sanctioned theft:

At least two-thirds of the federal budget represents forcing one American to serve the purposes of another. Younger workers are forced to pay for the prescriptions of older Americans; people who are not farmers are forced to serve those who are; nonpoor people are forced to serve poor people; and the general public is forced to serve corporations, college students and other special interests who have the ear of Congress.

The supreme tragedy that will lead to our undoing is that so far as personal economic self-interests are concerned, it is perfectly rational for every American to seek to live at the expense of another American. Why? Not doing so doesn’t mean he’ll pay lower federal taxes. All it means is that there will be more money for somebody else.

In other words, once Congress establishes that one person can live at the expense of another, it pays for everyone to try to do so. You say, “Williams, don’t you believe in helping your fellow man?” Yes, I do. I believe that reaching into one’s own pockets to help his fellow man is both laudable and praiseworthy. Reaching into another’s pockets to help his fellow man is despicable and worthy of condemnation.

The bottom line: We love government because it enables us to accomplish things that if done privately would lead to arrest and imprisonment. For example, if I saw a person in need, and I took your money to help him, I’d be arrested and convicted of theft. If I get Congress to do the same thing, I am seen as compassionate.

This vision ought to bother the Christians among us, for when God gave Moses the commandment “Thou shalt not steal,” I’m sure He didn’t mean thou shalt not steal unless you got a majority vote in Congress.

Positivity: Son Saves Father in Indiana Boat Accident

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

Where does such strength come from? Wherever that is Andrew Pickel’s dad is surely glad it was there:

November 10, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) – A man whose leg was partially severed by a propeller after he was thrown from his boat was rescued by his teenage son, who pulled him from the water in an act of strength that amazed police.

The accident happened Wednesday on Lake Monroe as Merle K. Pickel, 49, of Bloomington, was operating a boat he had been working on, followed in another boat by his son, Andrew Pickel, 17.

The teen told officers his father was thrown into the water when Merle Pickel’s boat lurched to the left. The boat’s propeller struck Pickel’s right leg below the knee.

Andrew Pickel was able to pull his father, who was not wearing a life jacket, into his boat. State conservation officer Marlin Dodge said it was remarkable that the teen was able to pull the man out.

“I asked him, and he thinks adrenaline just took over,” Dodge said.

Merle Pickel, who has an optometry practice east of Bloomington in Nashville, underwent surgery to remove the lower portion of his leg.