December 29, 2006

CNN.com Home Page Photo Gives Saddam the ‘Deceased Statesman’ Look

Words fail (direct image link):

CNNcom122906Saddam

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE 1: These 74 pages of images (warning: graphic) won’t fail (HT A Blog for All).

UPDATE 1A: Kuwait’s “Not to Forget Museum,” toured by Bill at INDC Journal, is also a must-see.

UPDATE 2: Michelle Malkin noticed.

UPDATE 3: Now THIS from Fox News (who else?; direct link to pic; Hot Air liked it too) is fair and balanced, with images of mass graves on the right balanced by an appropriate pic of Saddam on the left –

FoxSaddamHanged1206

UPDATE 4, Dec. 30, 10 AM — CNN’s home page is different, the original “statesman pic” is still here (saved here at host for future reference).

UPDATE 5, Dec. 30: Even the little things about CNN are maddening. “Symbol” of cruelty?

UPDATE 6, Dec. 30: Here’s a very important, yet slightly incomplete, history lesson from J.R. Dunn at American Thinker (HT Lucianne). After reciting a litany of 20th Century dictators and totalitarians and how they met their end, he notes:

Most of the great butchers of the 20th century died of old age, in their own beds, some of them honored by millions. Not a single one met justice in the sense accepted in free states across the world. The handful who died otherwise are aberrations, victims of strange events that act as models for nothing.

There is one single exception – the hanging of Saddam Hussein on December 30, 2006 after a careful, lengthy trial carried out under extremely difficult circumstances according to internationally recognized judicial norms. The state of Iraq has succeeded where the rest of the civilized world has failed. It is a singular achievement, and it will stand.

While Dunn overlooked Japan’s Hideki Tojo, who was tried and hanged in 1948, this bio importantly notes that Tojo did not stay in power, which is I’m quite sure why Dunn didn’t include him in his list:

Tojo, aware that Japan was unable to win the war, resigned from office after the loss of Saipan in July 1944. He shot himself in the chest just before he was arrested by the US Military in 1945. Tojo survived and after being nursed back to health was tried as a war criminal. Hideki Tojo was executed on 23rd December 1948.

Back on point: It is indeed the case that the trial and execution of Saddam represent an historically “singular achievement.” It is unfortunate that anyone must be executed, but in this case it was wholly necessary, completely just, and brought on by the perpetrator himself.

UPDATE 7: Scrappleface — “WMD Found Hanging from Rope in Iraq”

UPDATE 8: Not to be outdone, here’s the New York Times (HT Hot Air; scroll down, and look on left; direct link to pic is here; may require free registration; pic below is from my host’s hard drive):

NYTsaddamPic1206

Will Friday’s New York Times Editorial on Saddam’s Execution Lose the Manhattan Elites?

The paper’s editorial (requires registration) makes it clear, without having the courage to specifically say it, that it opposed the impending execution of the Iraqi dictator, even characterizing the three-year legal process as “The Rush to Hang” him.

The Times may have taken it too far this time. I would think more than a few in the Manhattan wine-and-cheese set, even those who oppose the war, will be astute enough to substitute the name “Osama bin Laden” and his “orchestration of the 9/11 attacks” for “Saddam Hussein” and his “vile and unforgivable atrocities” in the Times’ Friday editorial.

Many of the Times’ most loyal readers had family members or personally knew people who died in the Twin Towers. Can they, or can anyone else, really doubt that the Times will oppose bin Laden’s execution, should that blessed day ever come, with “creative” excuses like the ones it concocted for Hussein?

Is such a newspaper run by people who are so clearly out of touch really worth anyone’s time, attention, and money, especially when there are two perfectly acceptable alternatives in Gotham, and so many credible alternative resources online?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Memeo has coverage pegging off the related Hot Air post, and will surely have a long list of others following the story (i.e., Saddam’s execution) shortly (as Hot Air does currently).

Shameless Plug: Get Ready for What’s Just Around the Bend

Filed under: General — Tom @ 5:41 pm
cymnow

For many Americans, per Marshall Loeb at MarketWatch (requires free registration), that would be “the staggering holiday debt that often looms long and large after the season is gone.” Loeb goes on to identify a few useful suggestions: don’t do cash advances, negotiate with creditors, try to move debt to lowest-rate cards, etc.

The best thing you can do for yourself, though, would be to click on the symbol at the top right of this post. It will help you get a grip on your situation before it gets a grip on you. Of course, I’m talking about subscribing to CYMnow.com.

Predictions We’re Holding People To: Part 2 (Housing Prices)

Filed under: Biz Weak,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:31 pm

This set of predictions is courtesy of the gloom-and-doom division of Business Week (known as Biz Weak around here).

The magazine, in this slide show, reports the following 10 predicted housing price drops between November 7, 2006 and 2007, based on housing index for the next 12 months traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange:

Boston, -5.7%
Chicago, -4.3%
Denver, -4.6%
Las Vegas, -5.9%
Los Angeles, -5.1%
Miami, -5.9%
New York, -5.0%
San Diego, -6.0%
San Francisco, -4.7%
Washington DC, -6.0%

Unless comparable Nov. 7, 2007 actual data is available (I don’t know where one would find it; e-mail me or leave a comment if you have a suggestion), the above predictions will be benchmarked against the price changes in the four quarters that will end on September 30, 2007, as reported by the government’s Office of Financial Housing Enterprise Oversight.

It strikes me as pretty unusual that Biz Weak would decide to report the predictions based on an Election Day 2006 starting point. It seems like a pretty non-representative day to pick. I would think that pessimism on the part of relatively conservative traders on that day would have caused them to be more negative then than they might be on most other days.

But, we’ll see next year.

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UPDATE: Speaking of housing-market predictions and the OFHEO, here are some other prognositications for next year that will have to wait until February of 2008 to be checked on:

One housing bear, Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist of High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, N.Y., guesses that prices nationally could fall 5 percent to 10 percent from the end of 2006 to the end of 2007, going by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight housing price index. Using that same measure, Goldman, Sachs & Co. predicts a 3 percent decline from 2006 to 2007. Before 2006, the index’ worst performance since its origin in 1975 was a 0.3 percent increase in 1990.

Predictions We’re Holding People To: Part 1 (Rich Karlgaard)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 1:01 pm

The Trends Research Institute didn’t do so well on its 2006 predictions, and is issuing generally vague ones for 2007. So I looked for a prognosticator willing to stick his neck out with specific predictions for next year, and found Rich Karlgaard at Forbes (requires free membership that may be available now to non-subscribers).

I went to Karlgaard in early January to effusively praise his “World’s Worst Disease” column. Even though it was the beginning of the year, I called it the Business Column of the Year (requires free membership). 51 weeks later, I believe it remains at the top of this year’s heap. Here’s how it starts:

(The world’s worst disease is) …. not cancer or AIDS or avian flu; it’s a monstrously flawed idea. The sickest thinking–and the source of most of human misery throughout the ages–is based on the following beliefs:
• The Earth is running out of resources;
• People consume more than they contribute;
• Wealth is a zero-sum distribution game.

History overwhelmingly refutes these ideas; otherwise, humankind would still be living in caves, sharpening spears for the hunt.

It gets BETTER from there.

Anyway, here are Karlgaard’s predictions for 2007:

- U.S. economy grows at 3%-plus.
- Global economy grows at 4.5%-plus.
- American stocks do well.
- Global stocks do better.
- Big Tech has another good year.
- Web 2.0 inflates to bubble status.
- Bargains emerge in U.S. residential real estate.
- Tiny jets begin to ship.
- Hockey and soccer gain popularity.
- The New Orleans Saints win Super Bowl XLI.

I like all of them except the last.

His final prediction (not listed above) is a lock — FORBES magazine will turn 90.

I’ll come back to these at the end of 2007 to see how Karlgaard did. I suspect he’ll improve on Trends Research’s performance.

Correcting an LA Times Headline in Its Ramadi Follow-up Story

Headline:

Marines deny airstrikes used against insurgents in Ramadi

The corrected headline should be:

No Airstrikes Occurred at Ramadi, and We Don’t Have the Integrity to Acknowledge Our Original Error in Reporting Them

Patterico has noticed (“L.A. Times (Almost) Admits Ramadi Airstrike Didn’t Happen”) and promises much more later. Also, Hot Air has weighed in.

Here’s a reminder of original LAT headline and subheadline in its original Nov. 15 story:

Iraqi residents say US airstrike kills 30
Victims include women and children, witnesses in Ramadi say. The military has no immediate comment.

The current LAT story claims that even more civilians were killed:

Recent interviews by a Times correspondent in Ramadi supported earlier eyewitness accounts of civilian deaths during the clashes.

“The actual number eventually reached 35 people, including children and women,” said Yasir Hussein, 40, a Ramadi electrical worker. Hussein said the initial tally of 30 dead increased as injured people died of their wounds.

Memo to LAT reporter Solomon Moore: It’s been over six weeks since the incident in question. Has anyone bothered to get the list of victims’ names for verification purposes?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Memeo is on it.

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Previous Posts:
- Dec. 4 — Catching Up on Patterico’s “No Ramadi Air Strike” Story
- Nov. 25 — Patterico Investigates the LA Times’ Misreporting of an Incident at Ramadi

Following up on a Think Tank’s 2006 Predictions Last December

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:16 am

Last year’s USAT link is still there. Last year’s BizzyBlog entry suggested, “Let me be so bold as to suggest that businesses making decisions based on the idea that these things will occur might be making quite a mistake.”

I think that suggestion was sound. Here are last year’s predictions, with my comments in italics:

  • A backlash against the poor quality of recent movies and music. — Not anything really significant beyond what was already happening; Hollywood’s 2006 box office is actually a bit ahead, even after inflation, of 2005′s.
  • The survival business will boom for the first time since the Cold War as Americans perceive their government as incapable of protecting them from terrorist attacks and natural disasters. – Did not happen, although it’s understandable that some may feel that way.
  • Technology will continue to empower self-reliant, “off the grid” survivalists, who will seek to avoid payment of fuel, water, electricity and telephone bills. – Nothing significant occurred here.
  • Citizen-driven movements for states to break away from the union will arise. – Nothing significant beyond that of previous years occurred.
  • Global sales of products “made in the USA” will suffer after media coverage of Hurricane Katrina, which greatly damaged the world’s view of the United States. — Did not happen.
  • Online TV, the ultimate in media convergence, will signal the decline of the communication industry’s monopoly on broadcast news and entertainment. — This was already happening in 2005 and continued in 2006, but it’s wayyyyyy too early to declare a definitive decline.
  • Real estate values in rural areas will continue to rise as it becomes fashionable to downsize from mega-mansions to log cabins. — Did not happen, especially the log cabin part (zheesh).
  • Entertainment that pokes fun at the consumption habits of the wealthy elite will become popular as reality TV’s projection of “real life” becomes increasingly inaccurate. — If anything, the fun is being poked at the newly-rich who can’t handle their newfound fortune, like that one idiot family on MTV (I don’t remember their names because I couldn’t last 5 minutes without wanting to pull what’s left of my hair out).
  • A new American labor movement will boost union power for workers in the lowest strata of the U.S. economy. — Did not happen, but minimum wage laws were passed in several states. They will help some, and perhaps many, will cause unemployment for others, and I expect will do little to help organizing efforts.
  • Hometown economies will benefit as fuel costs soar and consumers become less willing to drive farther to do their errands; if a pandemic such as bird flu hits, people will patronize local merchants to avoid crowds. — Some trip consolidation occurred during the $3 gas period in the summer, but that’s it.
  • Discovering reliable new sources of alternative energy will be the primary drive in science and invention. — Did not happen to any degree greater than previous years.
  • Americans will address environmental concerns such as global warming, food safety and recycling. – Global warming – no (which is good, because it’s bogus); food safety – as long as we’re not irradiating food sensibly, we’re not really serious about food safety; recycling, as shown a while ago, is (almost) all BS.

Better luck next year to The Trends Research Institute. You’ll notice that the predictions in their 2007 Trends teaser are a lot more vague — and therefore a lot more difficult to monitor the success of.

Ohio Armed Forces State Income Tax Exemption Passes!

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 7:34 am

Here’s some good news for the last business day of 2006. I held off posting on this until I could find a link and verify that Gov. Taft had signed the legislation involved, but I have confirmed that the State Income-Tax Exemption for Ohio Armed Forces members has passed!

I learned of the measure’s imminent passing into law when this comment got posted at the original BizzyBlog entry:

For everyone who urged the Ohio state senate to pass a military tax relief bill, please accept my thanks. Bottom line – they DID IT. On Thursday (December 14th), the bill was sent to the Governor’s office for signature! It is anticipated that he will sign it within the next few weeks. I will provide an update when it happens.

The bill exempts military pay of Ohio troops from state income tax when the troops are stationed or deployed outside of Ohio. It is estimated by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission that the bill will save troops somewhere between $20 million to $28 million. The bill won’t go into effect until next year, though.

I encourage Ohioans to send a “thank you” to Rep. Peter Ujvagi from Toledo – District47@ohr.state.oh.us, psujvagi@aol.com. Rep. Ujvagi sponsored the bill. He has a nephew in the Marines and another in the Army. Others to thank include Sen. Ron Amstutz, sd22@mailr.sen.state.oh.us from Wooster, and Sen. Kimberly Zurz from Green, Ohio senatorzurz@maild.sen.state.oh.us.

Another thank you goes to Blackfive and Bizzyblog for getting the word out.

Sincerely,

Steve Lynch, Lt Col, USAF (ret)
South Russell, OH

Any time, sir. Ohio-based credit really goes to Right Moment and others who got the ball rolling in response to a Cleveland Plain Dealer article on the bill’s then-dormant status.

I believe that Sgt. Lynch’s reference to “next year” means that the legislation will not take effect until January 1, 2007, though it could conceivably mean the beginning of the state’s next fiscal year. I will clarify and let readers know if the effective date is other than 1/1/07.

Proof of passage, which was otherwise not verifiable because there has been no discernible Ohio media coverage of this, starts at Page 30 of the “Ohio House of Representatives Journal” (PDF) of December 13:

SB73message121306

Matt at Right Angle Blog, who sent the link (thanks!) tells me in an e-mail that “It passed originally from the House on March 21, 2006, then we (the Senate — Ed.) concurred on Dec. 13th. It’s an act, which means Taft signed it.”

Thanks to all who supported this legislation and got the attention of legislators. Lumps of coal to those who, for reasons that mystify the mind, didn’t.

Net Neutrality? How About Full Net Functionality?

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:20 am

The big news is that AT&T is supposedly agreeing to “Net Neutrality standards,” whatever that means, for the next 30 months as a condition for getting its acquisition of BellSouth approved.

I’d be more impressed if something would be done about Level 3, the company responsible for routing traffic through the Internet backbone. I have been unable to get through cleanly to Cincinnati.com, Yahoo!, CNN, and a couple of other sites for days. When I do a traceroute test, the problem is always somewhere in the middle of the connection landscape, which is the responsibility of Level 3 (apparently there are no meaningful alternatives; try it yourself, and see where your info goes through).

Level 3 won’t talk to consumers, and tells us to go to our local providers. My local provider tells me that it’s out of their control (which it is), and says they’ll contact Level 3 about the problem. Whether they do is anyone’s guess. Whether a slightly degraded Internet becomes the norm for more people in 2007 is also an open question.

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UPDATE, 5PM: — Specifically, AT&T’s concessions were (link requires free registration):

To break a nearly two-month deadlock at the FCC, AT&T agreed to observe “network neutrality” principles; offer standalone high-speed Internet service for $20 a month to most of its customers; and cap prices on so-called special-access lines that serve big buildings with multiple business customers.
In addition, AT&T agreed to divest 2.5 GHz wireless spectrum owned by BellSouth and bring back 3,000 jobs performed outside the U.S. by 2008.

UPDATE, Dec. 30: Yesterday, Mike at Techdirt claimed that there’s a major network neutrality exception (para breaks added by me for readability) –

The wording is a little tricky, but while they agree not to remove network neutrality from their standard network, hidden in the middle of a later paragraph is this sentence: “This commitment also does not apply to AT&T/BellSouth’s Internet Protocol television (IPTV) service.”

At first that might seem innocuous, but Burstein has pointed out that AT&T’s always planned on using the IPTV network as that high-speed toll lane it wants Google, Vonage and others to pay extra for. Burstein notes that AT&T isn’t even set up to put quality of service on their existing network — so the agreement not to violate network neutrality on that network is effectively meaningless. It is, he claims, a sleight of hand that successfully fooled a bunch of people into supporting the deal, and will probably help it get approval.

AT&T promises not to violate network neutrality on a network they never intended to use that way, and carves out permission to use it on their new network, where they had planned all along to set up additional tollbooths.

Also, in response to the original post, the details show that the naked DSL they’re promising is limited to only 768k down, which is pretty slow these days. It’s also worth noting that they don’t say a damn thing about upstream speeds …..

The Save the Internet blog says that AT&T and its CEO Ed Whitacre have been “neutralized for now.” As noted many times previously, I believe the net neutrality argument is largely about major current players on the USER side (Google, MS, Ebay, Yahoo!, Amazon, et al) entrenching THEIR current position to the detriment of possible alternatives (the best set of arguments, courtesy of Don Luskin, are at this previous BizzyBlog post).

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UPDATE, Jan. 2, 2007: The WSJ agrees on the real effect and very bad precedent being set here (requires subscription):

Net neutrality travels under the euphemism of “nondiscrimination,” which sounds very nice. But what it really means in practice is that the government dictates what AT&T and other Internet access companies can charge users of their pipelines. So there’s “discrimination,” all right — against the companies that have invested billions to lay that pipe.

The beneficiaries of this discrimination are Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other very rich Web businesses, which have loaded up on Beltway lobbyists to have these mandates imposed. Democrats are taking the PAC money and running interference. The Democratic Commissioners — Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps — were able to extort this concession from AT&T because one of the three GOP Commissioners recused himself from voting on the merger under pressure from Democrats on Capitol Hill. It was a nasty game of bad cop-worse cop, and it is probably a portent of things to come.

The one thing no one should be deceived about is that this ambush has anything to do with “consumers.” Internet users will benefit most from the rapid rollout of broadband, which requires letting companies get a return on their investment. Net neutrality is all about imposing price controls that shake down one corporate player for the benefit of another.

Couldn’t Help But Notice — On Spam Proliferation (122906)

Filed under: Consumer Outrage,Privacy/ID Theft — Tom @ 6:15 am

Bad guys’ e-mail messages had a good year — The BBC quotes an e-mail filtering firm spokesman as saying that “92.6% of all e-mail messages are spam ….. That’s the highest it’s ever been.”

I read a “don’t worry, be happy” column about this earlier this week that I can’t find again. The author said that since only 1% or so gets though and false positives are rare, that it’s not that big a bother. I’m not impressed. In my case, about 10% of the junk gets through my pretty tight junk filter (what’s being caught by the ISP, if anything, I don’t know), and while false positives are rare, they occur just often enough that I can’t afford to simply delete all the junk without scrolling through it. This year the volume of the 10% getting through has roughly doubled, and I’m having to sift through a stack of junk that’s twice as big.

That’s horse manure. Life is going to get pretty inconvenient if everyone concludes that whitelisting is the way to go, but that may be the only choice.

Quote of the Day: Milton Friedman

Filed under: Economy,Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:10 am

A great thought (last Friedman quote at Townhall link) for the last business day of the year, and, to our probable detriment, the exact opposite of the thought process of the new congressional majority in Washington:

If a tax cut increases government revenues, you haven’t cut taxes enough.

Here’s the proof, based on Friedman’s quote, that we haven’t cut taxes enough (or spending).

In the UK, Now There Are ‘Respect Zones’

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:05 am

For background, go to the second item at this post on “Asbos” (anti-social behavior orders).

Now to the BBC. It talks about having ‘respect zones,” which appear to be areas where more enforcement tools might be available to police, but it’s not clear.

I’m left wondering why the UK ever went away from tackling the various forms of juvenile delinquency as, y’know, the crimes that they are.

Positivity: Man Sheds 125 Pounds to Become Deputy

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

When you want something badly enough …… (from Wintersville, OH; HT FYI News):

Tue Dec 19, 9:42 PM ET

Michael Warren had a lot of lose. The 20-year-old Wintersville resident who once tipped the scales at more than 300 pounds lost 125 pounds in 18 months to pursue a career in law enforcement.

He was sworn in as a deputy sheriff in Ohio County on Monday, two days after he married his high-school sweetheart of six and a half years.

“I got a wedding ring and a badge, and I closed on a house in one weekend,” Warren said.

Before embarking on his journey to better fitness, Warren said, he couldn’t do one push up and didn’t have the endurance to run very far. Now he can do 30 push-ups and runs nearly every day, managing to clock 1.5 miles in under 16 minutes.

He said his new wife Theresa, was the “angel on my shoulder” who helped him curb his urge to splurge.

“I’m sure she whacked my hands a few times,” he said Tuesday.

With his wife’s help, Warren said he limited his daily intake to no more than 30 grams of fat a day and worked up to running a mile or two every day, lifting weights and doing bench presses.

Warren, a self-professed band geek, was studying music education at Cleveland State University when he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. He transferred to the Weirton campus of West Virginia Northern Community College to study criminal justice before taking an internship with the Steubenville Police Department.

Jim Tully, a criminal justice professor, said Warren excelled in the classroom.

“He set the standard in every course,” Tully said. “In class, he demonstrates leadership.”

Warren’s wife said she is proud of her husband.

“He didn’t think he had the confidence, but he showed what can be done if you really want to do something,” she said.

Warren said he is in a job surrounded by people who are committed to fitness. There’s no way he would ever slip back to the days when he ate just “to pass time,” he said.

“I’m happy to be where I am now.

Well, Well: Investors Business Daily Weighs in on Jamil ‘Captain Tuttle’ Hussein

The last paragraph of their Wednesday editorial (my bold) makes the point that the wire service, its defenders, and those who want to see the whole to-do as being about “just one incident,” won’t see, or won’t admit to seeing:

What is clear about all this is that nothing is clear. Maybe there’s a Jamil Hussein with the Iraqi police, but he’s a sergeant, not a captain. Maybe there’s a police captain whose first name is spelled Jamail, not Jamil. Both possibilities have been floated in the blogosphere, but neither has withstood scrutiny.

Editor & Publisher summed it up best when it reported that Jamil Hussein had been lost, then “found,” then lost again. Amazing.

Last summer, Reuters, the media outlet that refuses to label terrorists as terrorists, was jolted by the “fauxtography” scandal. Adnan Hajj, a freelance Lebanese photographer, allegedly doctored images of the Israel-Hezbollah war and photographed what appeared to many to be staged scenes of victim rescue and recovery efforts in Qana, a Lebanese village where Israel attacked Hezbollah terrorists. Both were clearly an effort to further inflame a world that had already cast Israel as the villain.

Just as we asked in August if Reuters was “a patsy or collaborator,” we wonder the same about the AP. We also wonder if we can trust any AP report from the Middle East. If it can’t show us Capt. Jamil Hussein, we’re not sure it has anything else we want to see.

This goes to the credibility, and ultimately the business viability, of the entire AP operation.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Memeo is on it.

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Previous Posts:
- Dec. 12 — Quote of the Day: Why Jamil Hussein and the Fake Sources Story Really Matters
- Dec. 6 — Cute, Very Cute (Jamil Hussein Graphic)
- Dec. 4 — Quote of The Day: Mary Katharine Ham on Why ‘Police Captain’ Jamil Hussein Matters (Plus Other Updates)
- Nov. 30 — Tonight’s Jamil ‘Captain Tuttle’ Hussein and AP (Always Paranoid) Update
- Nov. 30 — Jamil Hussein Update
- Nov. 29 — Burning Six Update: Michelle Malkin Sums It Up
- Nov. 27 — The Burning Question (Figuratively and Literally): Is Reliance on Bogus and Compromised News Sources Slanting Iraq Coverage?