Wotka World Wide

Monday, March 30, 2009

Israeli drones attacked Iranian convoys in the Sudan, destroying sophisticated missiles set to be smuggled into Gaza via tunnels from Egypt. They are specially designed to break down into small parts to ease transfer into sensitive areas.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Traffic cameras cause road rage, from the Wall Street Journal. A round-up of developments in the increasing usage of traffic cameras to raise revenues. Drivers are fed up with the spreading scourge of traffic cameras, but they are still spreading like crazy, simply because they bring in loads of cash with no effort. And claims that they improve safety are dubious at best. Direct legislative action is needed, but good luck getting a majority to shut down an easy source of free cash. Of course, officials and those with connections get automatic dismissals of their charges. It is just more of screwing the little guy in the name of public safety.
A vast computer spy system, based in China, has been monitoring and stealing data from computer systems all over the world, including the Dalai Lama's server network. Scary stuff. Maybe we can get some stimulus money for cyber security. Looks like we are going to need it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A reminder of the dangers of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, from Jonah Goldberg:
There is a bloody spin war over whether card check abolishes the secret ballot or not. Pro-card-check forces insist that it doesn’t. Unfortunately, these voices include many mainstream reporters who consistently use the language preferred by Big Labor. They parrot the labor line that if 30 percent of workers sign a card asking for an election, they can have one.

But this ignores the unions’ crimp tactics. For starters, the cards are written in ways that make “predatory lending” mortgages seem like paragons of full disclosure.

The National Right to Work website shows an example of such a card. In big, bold letters on top, it says “Request for Employees Representation Election.” But after you fill out the relevant info, there’s the small print, authorizing the Teamsters to “represent me in all negotiations of wages, hours and working conditions.”

In other words, in many cases, workers who think they’re just voting for an election are in fact voting for unionization. The unions make it as difficult as possible to do the former without also doing the latter.
All we can do is hope that a few conservative Democrats prevent the passage of this nonsense. Otherwise, small businesses around the country will be shutting down, and power hungry Teamster bosses will join with the mob to remake employee organization in this country to follow the example of France. Which is just what our economy needs right now.
A parking meter revolt in Chicago, after the city leased the rights to 36,000 parking meters for75 years for $1.2 billion. Now 25 cents buys five minutes. What a way to kill downtown businesses!! And all so the city could meet the budget for this year, because they are unable to cut anything. Mayor Daley is such a disgrace!
Remembering Bletchley Park and the role the British code-breakers played in defeating the Nazis.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sprint and other cellphone companies are moving beyond just selling phone service and are now making their networks available to companies needing wireless bandwidth. For example, Amazon's Kindle relies on Sprint's 3G network to distribute its content. Sprint has an advantage over the other companies with more available bandwidth, and while they are losing traditional subscribers, they are making steady gains in wholesale users, which pay less but require considerably less expenses for customer service and marketing. Originally from the Wall Street Journal.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Obama DOJ sides with RIAA in suit against a college student. And we find out that RIAA lawyers have been appointed to senior positions within the DOJ. Sounds like the foxes are running the henhouse. But Obama is still 'concerned' about the little guy...
Amateur hour on Sixty Minutes, from Pajamas Media's John Hawkins:

Each time Obama got a tough question, he did what sociopathic politicians have done for decades: he lied, dodged, and talked out of both sides of his mouth. The best example of that was near the beginning of the interview when Steve Kroft asked Obama about the AIG bonuses.

Was Obama surprised by the hostility to the AIG bonuses. His answer?

I wasn’t surprised by it. Our team wasn’t surprised by it.

Well, that begs the question: if the Obama administration wasn’t surprised by the furor, why did they work with Chris Dodd to safeguard the bonuses that were in the bill? It just makes no sense. What does Obama expect us to believe? That he thought it would be cathartic for Americans to yell in outrage at his incompetence, so his administration made sure the bonuses, the same ones he later criticized, were included in the stimulus for that reason? These are the sort of very obvious bald-faced lies that Democrats like Barack Obama are perpetually allowed to get away with by sympathetic liberal reporters who don’t want to make “their side” look bad.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Banker fury over tax 'witch-hunt', from the Financial Times:

Bankers on Wall Street and in Europe have struck back against moves by US lawmakers to slap punitive taxes on bonuses paid to high earners at bailed-out institutions.

Senior executives on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday warned of an exodus of talent from some of the biggest names in US finance, saying the “anti-American” measures smacked of “a McCarthy witch-hunt” that would send the country “back to the stone age”.

There were fears that the backlash triggered by AIG’s payment of $165m in bonuses to executives responsible for losses that forced a $170bn taxpayer-funded rescue would have devastating consequences for the largest banks.

“Finance is one of America’s great industries, and they’re destroying it,” said one banker at a firm that has accepted public money. “This happened out of haste and anger over AIG, but we’re not like AIG.”

Why do the politicians in Washington seem hell bent on further driving our economy into the ground? All because of some fake outrage from those who knew all along what was coming, and even wrote provisions protecting these bonuses into the February stimulus bill. Get used to this kind of governance in the future from our leaders; fake outrage over a manufactured crisis followed by rash and poorly planned legislative responses that have vast unintended consequences. And this doesn't even cover all the nonsense Congress passed on the sly while the talking heads were following their directives and focusing solely on bonuses and Cramer vs. Stewart. See michellemalkin.com for a roundup of these excesses. Thanks to Instapundit for the initial link, and be sure to read the whole thing.

Elites removed from Google's Street View U.K. Service. Including the head of Google U.K. Big surprise.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Did Iran finance Syria's attempt to build a nuclear plant, buying North Korean technology in the process? Sure looks like it. Thank goodness the Israelis have the cojones to take action when it is required. If only they were closer to Iran... Read the whole thing.
The fool's gold of carbon trading, or why it isn't working in the U.K. and why we shouldn't try it here. The U.K. government is raising billions with this scheme - but it hasn't decreased carbon emissions one iota. In fact they have risen. But never let facts get in the way of a government scheme to make more money! And when we go through this debate here in the U.S., look to see whether anyone observes the problem inherent with the government collecting revenue on the sale of credits for a substance we want businesses to stop producing. If they really want to stop carbon production, they should just straight tax it. But then we wouldn't be projecting billions in revenue over the next ten years, because carbon producers would actually have an incentive to stop producing it. Not that I particularly favor either option... I would rather see incentives offered to those that make drastic reductions in carbon output.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Senator Chris Dodd just admitted earlier today to inserting language into the February stimulus bill exempting certain bonuses from executive pay compensation limits. He had previously denied this. However, he tried to shift the blame, as usual, suggesting that Treasury Dept. officials had requested the change. The fact remains though that he wrote the provision, not anyone else. Let us all hope that Connecticut voters have some sense in 2010 and throw this bum out. And don't forget, he was the largest recipient of AIG campaign contributions.
A brief example of how China treats their labor organizers, from Human Rights In China:
On Monday, March 16, 2009, Yao Fuxin (姚福信), a long-time labor activist, was released from Lingyuan No. 2 Prison, Liaoning Province, after completing his seven-year term on conviction of “subversion of state power.” In March 2002, Yao was detained after speaking at a two-day peaceful demonstration involving at least 5,000 workers from six factories in Liaoyang, Liaoning Province, to demand back wages and pension payments. Yao’s initial charge of “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” was later changed to the more serious charge of subversion, a charge based on his alleged involvement in the banned China Democracy Party. During trial, the court accepted the prosecution’s charge that Yao organized labor activities even after his detention.
Note his treatment in prison:
During his detention and imprisonment, Yao suffered two heart attacks and a stroke. In the Liaoyang Detention Center, he and 19 other inmates were made to sleep on one bed. There, a guard named Lang arranged for two death-row prisoners to watch Yao. Every time Yao closed his eyes to sleep, the two prisoners would step on him. Yao went hungry often as there was not enough to eat. Vegetables were not washed before cooking, so he ate vegetables caked with mud.

HRIC also learned that in late 2002 and early 2003, as the weather got cold, Yao did not have enough clothing or warm bedding. He was placed near an open window, and often he would wake up covered with snow. When he requested permission to ask his family to bring him money so that he could buy bedding for the winter months, prison officials told him they could not get through to his family by phone.

According to sources close to Yao, Yao expressed that he felt it was his duty to fight for the interests of the people and the country, and that what he suffered was a price he was willing to pay.
Read the whole thing, and remember it next time you are buying goods made in China. Also worth considering is why Hillary Clinton has indicated she will de-emphasize human rights in contacts with China.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Amid the AIG furor, Chris Dodd tries to undo executive bonus protection provisions he included in the stimulus legislation. Also interesting is the list of top recipients of campaign donations from AIG. Any surprise Chris Dodd tops the list? Here are the top fifteen:

Office Total Contributions
Dodd, Chris (D-CT) Senate $103,100
Obama, Barack (D-IL) Senate $101,332
McCain, John (R-AZ) Senate $59,499
Clinton, Hillary (D-NY) Senate $35,965
Baucus, Max (D-MT) Senate $24,750
Romney, Mitt (R) Pres $20,850
Biden, Joseph R Jr (D-DE) Senate $19,975
Larson, John B (D-CT) House $19,750
Sununu, John E (R-NH) Senate $18,500
Giuliani, Rudolph W (R) Pres $13,200
Kanjorski, Paul E (D-PA) House $12,000
Durbin, Dick (D-IL) Senate $11,000
Perlmutter, Edwin G (D-CO) House $10,500
Rangel, Charles B (D-NY) House $9,000
Edwards, John (D) Pres $7,850
A vast left-wing conspiracy? The JournoList private server for left-wing big-wigs certainly seems that way:
POLITICO contacted nearly three dozen current JList members for this story. The majority either declined to comment or didn’t respond to interview requests — and then returned to JList to post items on why they wouldn’t be talking to POLITICO about what goes on there.

For all its high-profile membership — which includes Nobel Prize-winning columnist Paul Krugman; staffers from Newsweek, POLITICO, Huffington Post, The New Republic, The Nation and The New Yorker; policy wonks, academics and bloggers such as Klein and Matthew Yglesias — JList itself has received almost no attention from the media.

A LexisNexis search for JournoList reveals exactly nothing. Slate’s Mickey Kaus, a nonmember, may be the only professional writer to have referred to it “in print” more than once — albeit dismissively, as the “Klein Klub.”
Next time you wonder where the left gets all their lock-step talking points, you know where they probably originated. Left unsaid is who from the White House is involved. Or the mainstream media.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More of what is wrong with this country:
More than one out of every five dollars of the $126 million Massachusetts is receiving in earmarks from a $410 billion federal spending package is going to help preserve the legacy of the Kennedys.

The bill includes $5.8 million for the planning and design of a building to house a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate. The funding may also help support an endowment for the institute.

The Senate project apparently will feature a replica of the U.S. Senate and feature training (??) for new Senators. I wonder if it will have a memorial of the Chappaquiddick incident? Or any mention of Mary Jo Kopechne, the poor woman Teddy left to drown after he swam ashore and didn't report the accident until the following morning (of course he got off with a suspended sentence). The arrogance of those in power knows no bounds (John Kerry in particular, as he is the sponsor of this nonsense). And it isn't like we are having a budget crisis or anything...

Via Instapundit.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vaunted Obama message machine is off-key. You know it is a rough day when you catch major flak from Warren Buffett, Jack Welch and Jim Cramer in the same news cycle. And they all supported Obama for President. But he is still a great guy though!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Looking closer at Tibet:

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of China's suppression of the Tibetan uprising. This year, Tibetans in Tibet and in exile have noted this event by observing the normally festive Tibetan New Year, or Losar, as a time of mourning and remembrance. Unable to tolerate even this mild protest, the Chinese government has ordered Tibetans to attend state-sponsored celebrations and has ramped up security. On Feb. 27, a monk in a Tibetan area of Sichuan province set himself on fire after the authorities blocked his monastery from conducting Losar prayers. Chinese police shot him three times while he was on fire, though state media now claim he's alive in a hospital. It seems clear Beijing intends to maintain its current hardline approach to Tibet.

Compounding matters, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's dismissive comments about the limits of diplomacy in advancing human rights last month will likely be seen in Beijing as tacit permission to do what it feels necessary to maintain "stability" on the Tibetan plateau. In the coming months, Secretary Clinton may find that her glib remarks served to exacerbate the human rights crisis in Tibet and undercut America's ability to use diplomacy to address it.

And then there is the example of former President Bush's leadership on the issue, focusing on standing for human rights:

President Bush also made a point of formally meeting with the Dalai Lama in May 2001 and several more times, which broke with his predecessor's insulting practice of "dropping by" the Tibetan leader's scheduled meetings with the U.S. Vice President. The Chinese got the message, and in September 2002, they hosted the Dalai Lama's envoys for the first of eight rounds of talks. While these talks have failed to achieve results to date, China would never have entered into them without pressure from the U.S. -- particularly the direct diplomacy of senior administration officials up to and including the President. In October 2007, the U.S. Congress also awarded the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the American government's highest civilian honor. That event was quietly celebrated by Tibetans in Tibet and served to underline American support for their struggle. Although the Chinese vehemently complained about the Gold Medal -- particularly President Bush's highly visible role in the awards ceremony -- the overall U.S.-China relationship was unharmed.
How is this not the liberal position? Look to see if President Obama meets with the Dalai Lama in the coming years as an indication of how he really feels on human rights in China.

Obama proposes reaching out to "moderate Taliban". Analysts call the efforts "useless". Isn't moderate Taliban an oxymoron? And it is working so well for the Pakistanis...
It is time for the "Religion of Peace" to prove that it really is one:

Scholars in the most prestigious Islamic institutes and universities continue to teach things like Jews are "pigs and monkeys," that women and men must be stoned to death for adultery, or that Muslims must fight the world to spread their religion. Isn't, then, [Geert] Wilders's criticism appropriate? Instead of blaming him, we must blame the leading Islamic scholars for having failed to produce an authoritative book on Islamic jurisprudence that is accepted in the Islamic world and unambiguously rejects these violent teachings.

While many religious texts preach violence, the interpretation, modern usage and implementation of these teachings make all the difference. For example, the stoning of women exists in both the Old Testament and in the Islamic tradition, or "Sunna" -- the recorded deeds and manners of the prophet Muhammad. The difference, though, is that leading Jewish scholars agreed to discontinue these practices centuries ago, while Muslim scholars have yet to do so. Hence we do not see the stoning of women practiced or promoted in Israel, the "Jewish" state, but we see it practiced and promoted in Iran and Saudi Arabia, the "Islamic" states.

From Tawfik Hamid, at the WSJ. Note that Mr. Hamid is "a former member of an Egyptian Islamist terrorist group, is an Islamic reformer and senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Protester throws show at Ahmadinejad, in Iran! And he got away in the crowd! Glad to see the real tyrants are receiving some shoe-hate as well (Wen got his in the UK earlier this year). I just wish this got a tenth of the coverage of the Bush shoe-thrower...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

While Team Obama is trying to distract the country with their silly attack on Rush Limbaugh, their own side is turning on them. Even Maureen Dowd, famed leftist at the New York Times, has a bevy of criticism for the President in her latest column, lambasting him for back-tracking on his campaign promise to ban earmarks. She has a nice list, along with John McCain tweet commentary (where the heck was that during the campaign?). Is Rahm gonna go after now Dowd too? At some point you actually have to defend your positions, not just attack the other side and blame them for problems you have created.

Then there is the issue of conservative Democrats in the House turning against the new liberal agenda. They are usually from more conservative districts and realize that they might get voted out if they keep going along with all this reckless spending (especially without even reading it). So Obama's own party and supporters may end up derailing his agenda. Funny how that works.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The legal maneuvering continues in Minnesota between Al Franken and Norm Coleman, with little end in sight. Michael Barone suggests that the issue could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, a la Bush v. Gore, or even result in a new election being declared. Regardless of the result, I am glad Coleman has the resolve and resources to keep fighting. Keeping another Democrat out of the Senate and possibly securing another Republican seat is worth just about any price (securing a filibuster-proof minority is vital as well), and with the shady things that have happened so far, like some heavily Democratic counties having "found" more votes for Franken in the recount than the actual number of registered voters, leads to the conclusion that the election has been tainted irrevocably.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Obama Will Sign Spending Bill Despite Earmarks:
President Barack Obama will break a campaign pledge against congressional earmarks and sign a budget bill laden with millions in lawmakers' pet projects, administration officials said.

The House last week passed the measure that would keep the government running through Sept. 30, when the federal budget year ends. Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group, identified almost 8,600 earmarks totaling $7.7 billion; Democrats say the number is $3.8 billion.

Obama's top hands assigned responsibility to their predecessors and President George W. Bush. Blaming Bush-era proposals for deficits, Obama wanted to set up his own budget that would start Oct. 1, which he proposed last week with a bold goal of cutting the deficit by half within his four-year term.

"First, this is a $1.7 trillion deficit he inherited. Let's be clear about that. We inherited this deficit and we inherited $4 trillion of new debt," Emanuel said. "That is the facts."

Wow. Just wow. Bush left office with a $459 billion deficit from last year. Obama signs an absolutely massive "stimulus" bill, a health insurance expansion and a massively bloated budget, all authored by Democrats, and it is somehow a "fact" that it is all Bush's fault. While breaking another campaign promise along the way. What unbelievable double-speak from Rahm Emanuel. This just goes to show that Obama is letting Congressional Democrats dictate the agenda, not leading with his agenda. Hope this is the change America wanted.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Abu Dhabi Invest Authority, the largest sovereign fund, is considering its options on its investment in Citigroup. They hold $7.5 billion in bonds, which are due for conversion into common stock at prices over $30 per share early next year. They seem committed to Citigroup, but with Citi stock around $1.50 a share, they are understandably concerned. As are the other major international investors in Citi, Saudia Arabia's Prince Alwaleed and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, who combined hold $27.5 billion in bonds that are also due for conversion to common stock.

This uncertainty has led to an undertandable reluctance on the part of sovereign investment funds to make new investments abroad, especially in foreign financial firms, which has increased the uncertainty for organizations like Citigroup. Hence the U.S. government's move to buy up a larger stake in the company to keep it solvent. The big investors seem committed to Citigroup, but everyone else is jumping ship and getting what they can for the stock, which has caused its massive decline. Citigroup is perhaps the most at-risk financial company out there, and their continued struggles will doubtless mirror continued uncertainty in the greater financial markets throughout this year and the next.