Pakistan update

Torkham gate in the Khyber pass remained closed the third day as tribals fight in the area with “militants” – obviously Taliban from their strategy outlined here the other night.

Torkham gate in the Khyber pass remained closed the third day as tribals fight in the area with “militants” – obviously Taliban from their strategy outlined here the other night.

This is backing up returning refugee caravans of Afghans being evacuated back to Afghanistan from a refugee camp near Peshawar. The shops in the refugee camp have all been bulldozed and burnt, but the homes remain as the UN wants the exodus of refugees to go slow.

Meanwhile Laskar-Islami (LI) is sending threats out to factory owners to close evening and nightshifts. This is the inbred luddite streak of the Taliban movement which is one of the reasons they get the big (L)ose wherever they go. People in NWFP and FATA will be losing their jobs if it continues, which isn’t going to win the Taliban fans.

People in the area are also going to start getting very hungry very shortly as all supplies to the region are now backed up down the pass, including fuel, seed for planting, and food stuffs for the region. I predict that the populace will turn on them with a vengeance in short order.

The forces trying to interdict the pass appear to be LI, and the umbrella of Kashmiri veteran groups collected under the HuJI-P umbrella, but they are fighting against locals who know the area much better, so it will be interesting to see how this goes as the “foreign dragon/local snake” factor comes into play here. The concern I have is that this could be largely distraction while something of import is being done elsewhere.

Meanwhile the Tehreek e Taliban are talking about making peace with the new government, and they do seem responsive, but with them attacking the Khyber Pass the PPP government has to be seriously worried. The Government can’t last if someone else holds the Khyber for a long time, it’s one of the lifelines of Pakistan. If the government jumps in to help the tribals, which they should, the Taliban will accuse them of being guided by the US and continue to wage war in Pakistan. If the government doesn’t respond, then they will have let down the locals and the tribals, as well as the industrial base of the NWFP, and the Taliban will continue to war on them anyway. The Taliban doesn’t seek peace, they just want a hudna while they triangulate new angles with the new government in place.

In other news, a fourth Urdu journalist has been killed in Hub.

Gore Lied : People Died II

Almost one fifth of US cropland has been converted to energy crops, why grow wheat with small profit margin when you can grow subsidized fuel crops, a sure thing? I read the news today ….. The Government of Haiti has fallen to food riots.

Almost one fifth of US cropland has been converted to energy crops in the quest to reduce carbon and create energy independence – Brazil has about a sixth of its cropland for energy production, and many countries, like China are following suit. Why grow wheat or rice with small profit margin when you can grow government subsidized fuel crops, a sure thing?

I read the news today oh boy….. The Government of Haiti fell to food riots.

The World Bank devoted almost their entire session this meeting to the food price crisis. “The food price crisis” is shorthand for the poor of the world starving once more, it’s code for babies dying with grotesquely enlarged but empty bellies.

For more than a decade we’ve kept famine at bay, and it looked as if it were gone forever. That’s not the case as the dire combination of high energy prices and food shortage has driven many countries close to the edge.

From Wapo:

Zoellick said that the fall of the government in Haiti over the weekend after a wave of deadly rioting and looting over food prices underscores the importance of quick international action.

He said the bank is granting an additional $10 million to Haiti for food programs.

Zoellick said that international finance meetings are “often about talk,” but he noted a “greater sense of intensity and focus” among ministers; now, he said, they have to “translate it into greater action.”

The bank, he said, is responding to needs in a number of other countries with conditional cash-transfer programs, food and seeds for planting in the new season.

“This is not just a question of short-term needs, as important as they are,” Zoellick said. “This is about ensuring that future generations don’t pay a price, too.”

The head of the IMF also sounded the alarm on food prices, warning that if they remain high there will be dire consequences for people in many developing countries, especially in Africa.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn had said Saturday that the problem could also create trade imbalances that would affect major advanced economies, “so it is not only a humanitarian question.” 

Hunger has a cold calculus that’s much easier to factor and surer of outcome than climate modeling.

Eventually people will figure out that there’s money to be made in food as well as fuel crops, more rain forest will be converted to food crops, and famine and death will tire of their race. More forest land will be lost in the US in one of those unintended consequences that environmentalists never see. (The US has been at equilibrium for forest land the past century – with rising demands for crops, that will change.) It will take years however, and the government created shortages will have killed hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions by then.
Update: Biofuels a Factor in Food Prices:

The World Bank report says concerns about oil prices, energy security and climate change have led governments to encourage people to produce and use more biofuels and less petroleum. The report says that means greater demand for raw materials, including wheat, soy, palm oil and corn, which means costlier food. The World Bank also blames the food price increases on more expensive energy and fertilizer, as well as export bans and a weak dollar.

With that in mind, Kimberly Elliott, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, says it’s time for governments to stop placing so much emphasis on corn-based biofuels such as ethanol. “So it’s driving up food prices because we’re shifting corn from food to fuel, and not doing very much for the environment, if anything, and it is very costly, so it’s really a policy that just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

What’s Al Gore got to say about this? Not much.

Haitian Prime Minister Removed

Think Haiti’s just an anomaly? More here, here, here, here, here, here
Food Crisis Deepens, Calls for Summits, Riots in Haiti
How Global Warming Activists Manipulate the News at BBC
Gore Lied; People Will Die

The Taliban’s Afghanistan Strategy

The Taliban strategy in the Khyber is bound to fail, as I’ve said in the past, but it won’t fail for want of trying. Syed at The Asia Times outlines it here, and in past articles (note that much of this is part of the Taliban’s new media blitz now that Al Masri is dead and Haqqani has grabbed the reins for Afghanistan.)

Reading between the lines you see that the Taliban is really incapable of mounting a real offense, so instead they will rely on three things:

  1. Kidnappings to gain press, points in the Islamic “who’s more Jihadi” propaganda contest,  and funding.
  2. Continued Suicide bombings whenever they can find a willing victim (someone young or mentally deficient who they can manipulate to do their dirty work.)
  3. Continued attempts to interdict supplies to Afghanistan.

(More on why the Taliban can’t mount a real offense later.)

Syed’s got some Taliban contacts, but generally what we get from him is what we already know and just what the Taliban want us to see. What’s not said is the educational part.

The attempts to blow the Kohat tunnel, the ongoing war vs. oil Tanker trucks, and the recent bridge bombing are attempts to stop supplies to the US and ISAF forces in Afghanistan, as well as to the Afghanistan army.

However it amounts to war on commerce between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and if the attempts actually succeed in blocking the pass (highly unlikely) the backlash will be tough for the Taliban. Not only will they stop supplies to the forces, they will stop supplies to tribal regions already feeling some bite from rising staples prices.  The more they work inside Pakistan, then the more of their base and support structure they reveal, and the more revealed the more destroyed. With the help of Islamic operatives from various countries it’s becoming much easier to pin down their leadership and forces inside Pakistan as well.

While they would like to think they match General Giap, they fail to. Giap had a large, strong ally who resupplied them with more tanks, guns, and ammo than the German army had in WWII for the final push that won. I don’t think the Taliban has that kind of friend right now – and if any country tried to do that I’ll just be blunt and state that they would get destroyed.

They also forget that Giap lost and lost again most of the war. South Viet Nam was still there after we left, and had we applied air support then Giap would have failed again. It was a strange moment in history that created those conditions – that combination of events in the US will never happen again, US demographics alone prevents it. (e.g. While the Democrats have slight control of the legislature they had to elect Conservative Democrats to get there, and anti-war sentiment is nowhere near as strong as it was in the 60’s.) So the Taliban base their hope for victory on the forlorn hope that we will act like we did 30 odd years ago, but it’s just not going to happen, Afghanistan is still largely viewed as “The good war” in the US.

Here’s a hint: When Al Qaeda failed in Iraq, they really failed at the Giap strategy.

Also if AQ and the Taliban are counting on large scale support from Iran as Giap got from the Soviet Union and China, they better forget it. Iran’s playing their covert support role in Pakistan and Afghanistan for a reason, they want to keep both unstable. If they do that long enough then perhaps they can extend eastward at the right moment. Witness the recent pull back from Basra if you need more proof, they aren’t going to go overt and massive in support.

AQ and the allied Taliban have figured out that working inside urban areas of Pakistan is causing them problems, and many urban sympathizers in the Sindh and Punjab have turned from Jihad specifically because of that. It doesn’t pay to rile up the Sindh and Punjab, Pashtuns always lose when that happens. The problem is that the realization is too little too late for the urban areas, and to do anything more there they will have to continue working through students and criminal resources, not the best allies they would hope for.

In the Pakistan frontiers the tribals have figured out that opposition to the Taliban at the moment isn’t wise until the new government sorts itself out, so while AQ and allies might get a lot of visible support at rallies and gatherings, what’s overt doesn’t always match what is covert. They better watch their backs – large swaths of Pakistan are now highly disaffected with the Taliban and their AQ allies. Also note that party affiliations aren’t a good score card as to who’s who anymore, the elections changed a lot of things besides who’s in office.

Why can’t the Afghanistan Taliban mount a reasonable effective campaign?

There are several reasons – the first being the disaffection already spoken of. While they gain lip-service from many, they gain actual participation from few. The other problems are that their key leadership has been destroyed to a large extent over the past two years, and what’s in place is green, or if they are veteran, then they are third or fourth or fifth string. Another reason has been the steady decrement of actual Afghan refugees within both Pakistan and Iran — the recruit pool both inside Pakistan and from without has shrunk. Another reason is the fact that nowadays if you go to fight in Afghanistan, it’s likely that you will face Muslims in the form of the ANA and other foreign operatives in country.

However the main reason is that the Taliban and AQ are flagging – the fractionalization into the previous warlord structure prevents support. The warlords in Afghanistan know that if they actively participate that the US and ISAF will get around to them. It might take some time, but they will get there. Along with that you have the situation inside Pakistan – Baitullah Mehsud is not going to bare his throat to the PPP and others by sending a large amount of his forces in support of a now lost cause. You can forget about that.

One last word: The new strategy is bluster, boast, and mostly distraction. AQ has set their sights elsewhere, whether that’s still Pakistan remains to be seen. The current lull in terror activity could be the lull before the storm, or it could be that the AQ/Taliban is now stinking, rotten, fruit fallen from the vine to the eyes of former supporters.

UPDATE: I might end up eating some crow here if the current blockage of Torkham continues any length of time.

Obama: Tone Deaf to the American Dream as Well as Our Anthems

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations. — Barack Obama

Obama’s recent gaffe on small-town america demonstrates how isolated he is from the real hopes, dreams and fears of the average american, as well as the populist victimism that powers his campaign.  Barack’s bitterness is transferred to all people he sees, and he assumes that most people are motivated by the things that motivate him. He takes the same narrow view of small-towns that all the elites do, whether they reside in Hollywood, New York, or Chicago, to paraphrase Barack from above:

 People in small towns are narrow-minded, bigoted religious zealots with guns, and besides that they are bitter.

In the statement above he certainly doesn’t appear friendly towards religion or gun-owners, for he groups them with “antipathy to people who aren’t like them”, “anti-immigrant,” and “anti-trade.” That’s a large list lumped together, and like other poly-pundit populists, he uses vague words and fears to try to factionalate, fractionate, and fictionalize the small town electorate into victim categories useful to a populist progressive socialist such as he is.

His mirror image is Ron Paul, another polypundit populist coming from the opposite end of extreme politics. In the end both want to paint existing government, our institutions, our freedoms, and our business’ as some vast conspiracy against the common person.

You can only get so far with that kind of message, and once beyond the primary Barack will certainly founder on the rocks of American reality if he continues the course he’s taking.

People in small towns don’t expect the government to take care of them, and when someone tells them government is there to help, their hand reaches to cover their wallets.

People in small towns are not as prejudiced as the divided, segregated urban areas are. Indeed there are more interracial marriages per capita in small southern and western towns and suburbs than in the segregated urban regions that Barack draws his base from. 

In 1970, shortly after laws of miscegenation were gotten rid of approximately 35% of the populace thought there should be laws against interracial marriage, nowadays less than 10% of the populace thinks that way, so prejudice and racism is clearly diminishing. What about the ten percent you say? Well some of them go to black liberation theology churches like the Reverend Wright’s, and others of them read stormfront and vdare.

Racial purism and tribal purism are diminishing and dying ideologies, and no matter how outspoken and annoying their proponents are, they just aren’t America anymore so the rest of us are tired of hearing from them, and of them. It really is time to move on to other things because in another few hundred years race and tribal identity just isn’t going to matter, we’ll all be some wonderful shade between cream and dark mocha, and wondering what the heck all that racial fuss was really about.

I guess it also takes a streak of bitterness to be religious, a surprise to the majority of the populace in the US who are largely religious (only 14% of the US population identifies themselves as “no religion” in census studies.)

Then there are those bitter gun owners, solacing themselves by shooting tin cans and things with fur, grumbling about the vast _____ conspiracy (that’s sarcasm, I’ll point out  since I don’t use it that oft.) Somewhere between 40-60% of the electorate own guns, and Barack is going out of his way to antagonize them in his words above. (All surveys of gun ownership are variable year to year and disagree with other surveys – a variety of factors skew the statistics, first among them being reticence to report gun ownership to a government agency when surveyed.)

To sum up, victim hood is appealing to only a small percent of the American populace. In the general election populist tactics and statements such as this will get any candidate the big LOSE, so Barack’s handlers need to get on top of this fast…. and DKOS is quick to note the blow, and quick to rush to defense.

 Small town America wants a lot of things, but most of them have to do with the future — they truly are hope-driven and not fear-driven as Barack and his elitist coterie would like us to suppose. Small town America’s dreams are enduring and ineradicable – talk of bitterness only firms them more.

This is best demonstrated by John “Cougar” Mellenkamp’s song “Little Pink Houses” – intended to be a cynical screed against America and a hosanna for victims, instead it turned into an anthem for conservatives — because in the end owning your own house is part of the dream. Even if it’s just a little pink house, it’s still your house, your land, and your dream , and that’s just cool beyond belief.

More on the breakdown of what was said and the attempt to recover by Barack at NRO from Victor Davis Hanson.

Charles Johnson Playlist

Kasey WatchesCharles is trying out Imeem over at his place, I’m swiping his playlist to see how the embeds work in WordPress, so here you go, along with a photo of Kasey.
Actually inserting the photo was quite painful, because you have to insert by hand code, and you have to manually add the url for both the thumbnail and the linked actual photo to make WP behave like it did pre-2.5.
Apparently I’m one of the people affected by the bug with the Gallery that causes some SQL configurations to return blanks on the gallery query. So you won’t be seeing too many photos here until the patch in 2.5.1 comes out.
I also pulled down the playlist, no matter how many times I saved it with autoplay off, Imeem ignored it and overode with the playlist owner’s settings. I will need to make my own playlists before I do that again. If you click the link above you can pick it up over at his place, I recommend you do as there’s some really good music in the list.


Food Crisis Deepens, Calls for Summits, Riots in Haiti

While the food crisis deepens, world bodies are calling for a summit — in June. We’ve seen food riots across the globe in several countries as rising demand and falling supplies create shortages, and some middle class areas of the world are also feeling the pinch of breadlines. The latest riots have been in Haiti. The demand is created by more countries becoming wealthier, and the shortage is created by several factors, prime among them:

  • Conversion of food cropland to Fuel crops
  • Cold weather
  • Sustained high-energy costs
  • rising demand from India and China

Of those things the most easily fixed is the first and third, the other two we can’t do much about.  Note that food is really the first source of energy man used, and the one that pollutes the most. The alternatives for energy should not include burning food as it really has dire consequence, as can be seen this year. Nearly 20 percent of US cropland previously devoted to grains and other food products has been converted to fuel crops, and the story is the same in many other nations.

So we need to convert croplands back to food use at least until we find the balance, and consider other means to produce energy. Burning hydrocarbons, no matter what sort produces pollution; even burning hydrogen produces nitrous oxides and hydrogen vehicles take masterful carburation to combat that. In the past few years great strides have been made in that area, but fuel cells currently seem to be the way to go.

We still have to make the hydrogen for those fuel cells some way, and that takes energy to do on the industrial scale needed to fuel the world’s fleet of vehicles. One estimate states that 70 petawatt hours will be needed within 42 years if we convert to Hydrogen powered vehicles.

The only way to get there realistically is to use nuclear reactors in concert with the other clean energy technologies, and we will need them all.

If you look at energy sources they break down from clean to dirty about like this, keep in mind that some purists who think their favorite form of energy is cleaner than another would argue with this, but I’m agnostic, I think we will surely need them all:



Ocean Thermal




Natural Gas




Wood and other biomass combustion


When food was our sole source of energy slavery was the norm, so I suspect that food and slavery is the least desirable energy alternative (one of the popular things at ecology fairs in the ’70’s and ’80’s was someone generating electricity by pedaling a bike. Think about that a minute – if that’s our main source of energy, who’s going to be holding the whip and gun, who’s going to be pedaling? E.F. Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” philosophy turns quite ugly when applied to masses of people, as was demonstrated by rampant slavery across the world when food was the main source of energy.)

Everything below nuclear above either requires combustion and puts complex pollutants into the air, or it puts waste in to water. In a few short years the population of the world will be 9 Billion. We can’t afford to keep converting croplands to bio-fuels, we need them all. Next time you pump that ethanol into your tank, picture someone chewing on a belt, or bark, or grass — because there’s nothing else to eat that they can afford.

Al Gore and the limousine liberals have never known that sort of desperate hunger, but as you read this hundreds of thousands of real people across the world are feeling the gnaw and discomfort due to croplands converted to fuel.

Also please note that this problem is not confined to one hemisphere: the shortage of grains has triggered more demand for Rice, creating shortages and price hikes there as well.

HezbAllah TV (Al Manar) Broadcasting in Indonesia

HezbAllah Television station, Al Manar, has begun broadcast in Indonesia. The Coalition Against Terrorist Media has started a campaign to see if they can get it removed from the airwaves. Indonesia also hosted the large gathering of Hizb ut Tahrir, whom I believe to be the “political wing” of Al Qaeda, late last year.

From AHN:

Windsor Genova – AHN News Writer

Washington, D.C. (AHN) – A global coalition of Muslim, Christian, Jewish and secular organizations urged Indonesia’s state-owned television network Wednesday to stop broadcasting a television channel operated by Hezbollah.

A press statement from the Coalition Against Terrorist Media called for Indonesia Telkom to follow the lead of other major satellite companies and cease its ties to al-Manar, Hezbollah’s propaganda arm.

“The Jakarta government should not be enabling the broadcast of al-Manar because it uses the Quran to justify terrorism and violence,” said Mark Dubowitz, manager of the Coalition.

Al-Manar also recruits terrorists, provides “operational surveillance” to Hezbollah, and violates the European Television Without Frontiers Directive, which prohibits “any incitement to hatred on grounds of race, sex, religion or nationality,” according to the statement.

More from CATM:

Al-Manar has been found to be in breach of the European Television Without Frontiers Directive (TWFD). According to Article 22a, “Member States shall ensure that broadcasts do not contain any incitement to hatred on grounds of race, sex, religion or nationality.”  

When al-Manar was launched, its website stated its purpose: to wage “psychological warfare” against its enemies, including the United States. That goal remains the same today. In an interview, an al-Manar official said its programming is meant to “help people on the way to committing what you call in the West a suicide mission.”  Implementing its goal, many of al-Manar’s videos aim to recruit terrorists. Al-Manar uses music videos and programs aimed at children glorifying suicide bombers and encouraging children to engage in terrorist activity.

In urging Indonesia Telkom to cease its relationship with al-Manar, Dubowitz said, “Indonesia Telkom’s relationship with al-Manar cannot be seen merely as a business transaction. In today’s world, corporations have global responsibilities besides earning a few extra dollars for its shareholders. Moreover, transacting commerce with terrorist entities can’t help shareholder value.”

Asiasat, Eutelsat, Globecast, NSS, Intelsat, Hispasat, Amazonas, TARBS and most recently Thaicom are some of the satellite companies that have ceased broadcasting al-Manar.

CATM, a coalition of Muslim, Christian, Jewish and secular organizations and individuals in Europe, the Middle East and the United States, works to educate the public, the satellite industry and governments about media outlets that are owned or funded by terrorist organizations and those who advocate or incite violence.

Cheerless Leader Lost?

couric.jpgI don’t normally write about cruft like this — I mean who watches evening news nowadays anyway? However on seeing this story I had to do this post because the title for it popped into my head, a pun that plays at many levels.

There you have it.

Katie Couric is rumored to be leaving as anchorperson at CBS Evening News due to tanking ratings:

Katie Couric, who left her coveted spot on the “Today” show for the chance to anchor a nightly news program, is likely to leave CBS News well before her contract ends in 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported today.