Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Mid-Week Post

A merry Purim to all y'all.

Obama cannot comment on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress because he wasn't there and has no intention on reviewing it in transcript or video form.

A couple of highlights:

According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed. Because Iran's nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran's break-out time would be very short -- about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel's. And if -- if Iran's work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter. True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran's nuclear program and Iran's adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here's the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don't stop them.

Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn't stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb. Now, we're warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs. Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It's done that on at least three separate occasions -- 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras.

Obama promised to meet with Iran without pre-conditions in 2008. Now, with this deal, the chickens will have come home to roost. Iran, like imperial Japan after the Second World War, must be de-militarised because it will not stop until its genocidal objectives are met. Netanyahu uses the North Korean example to state his case not only against rogue states having nuclear weapons but of the UN's willing impotence.


I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite -- would only wet Iran's appetite for more. Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it's under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism? Why should Iran's radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world's: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?

In 2009, Obama had a chance to support, even philosophically, a populist movement. He did not. Just as with the wishes for China, the regime in Iran will not change. It will carry on until catastrophe ruins it and others in the process. There is no reason for it to change nor is there support for those on the ground who desire it.

No matter how badly the economy is doing, count a totalitarian state to raise the defense budget:

China's defense budget this year will rise about 10 percent compared with 2014, a top government official said on Wednesday, outpacing the slowing economy as the country ramps up investment in high-tech equipment such as submarines and stealth jets.

When I was a wee lass, one was expected to walk to school or to the park with one's friends or siblings. It was called exercise.  It (and good genes) kept one from being a fat, non-paranoid blob forever staring at a screen. In an age where hovering parents fret unnecessarily over their snowflakes and an intrusive civil service claims to know one's kid better that one can ever do so, only walking to a playground can be grounds for punishment:

A decision has been made regarding the Maryland parents that were placed under investigation for child neglect in January after allowing their kids, ages 6 and 10, to walk alone to neighborhood playgrounds. But the ruling, by Montgomery County Child Protective Services (CPS), has not provided any closure on the situation for parents Danielle and Alexander Meitiv.

“The Department has found you responsible for UNSUBSTANTIATED child neglect,” Danielle tells Yahoo Parenting regarding the wording of the decision. “It’s Orwellian to me,” she adds. “It’s incomprehensible.” It also signals a closing of the case. Nevertheless, since it was not a clear and outright dismissal, the family intends to appeal the decision.

Paula Tolson, spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, cannot comment directly on the Meitiv case. But she tells Yahoo Parenting in an email that there are three possible findings in such investigations — “ruled out” “unsubstantiated,” and “indicated.” And, as she explains it, “an ‘unsubstantiated’ finding by law means that the agency did not have sufficient evidence to support a finding of either ‘indicated’ or ‘ruled out.’ An unsubstantiated finding typically occurs when the agency has some information supporting a finding of child neglect, or has what appears to be credible reports that are at odds with each other, or does not have sufficient information to reach a more definitive conclusion.”

The CPS investigation into the Meitivs’ parenting decisions stems from an incident in late December, when Montgomery County Police were alerted by an observer that the kids, Rafi and Dvora, were walking just half a block from home. The police picked them up and delivered them back home; six cop cars soon showed up at the house, spurring Montgomery County Child Protective Services to investigate Danielle and Alexander for child neglect. The incident launched a national media firestorm, which the Meitivs did not shy away from. They explained that they consider themselves “free-range parents,” basing some of their parenting philosophy on the book “Free-Range Kids” by Lenore Skenazy.

“My biggest fear is to wonder, how much worse is this going to get?” Danielle says of the CPS ruling. “We have no intention of changing our parenting approach — my kids are playing outside unsupervised right now, as a matter of fact. We do worry, however, what will happen to them and us if CPS gets another call about them.”

Consider that leaving a child in a classroom where a convicted child pornographer's sex ed program will be taught can actually get the political party sponsoring it back into the seat of power.

Speaking of which...

Oh, it gets much worse:

Documents received by under Ontario’s Freedom of Information laws show that child pornographer Ben Levin was a trusted friend and advisor to Ontario’s Ministry of Education until the moment of his arrest in 2013. This directly contradicts Liberal claims that Levin had nothing to do with government education policy, including the controversial child sex-ed curriculum introduced for this fall.

Is this what Wynne and Levin's program is geared to?

Three people have been charged with human trafficking after Toronto police rescued a 14-year-old girl who they said was forced into sex work at a downtown hotel.

Police said security staff responded to a noise complaint in a hotel room in the Bay Street and Dundas Street West area last Friday night. Inside, they found a 14-year-old girl who told them she had been forced into the sex trade.

The teen told police she had been invited to the hotel by the three accused, and was then held in the room and forced to provide sexual services for a week.

The girl said she feared for her safety and couldn't contact anyone because her cellphone was confiscated and the hotel phone was disabled.

Meanwhile, police allege, the accused advertised the girl's services online and arranged meetings with clients. Police said the girl was forced to turn over all of the profits to the alleged offenders.

Police said the 14-year-old victim is back at home with her family.

The three accused — a 21-year-old man, a 19-year-old man, and an 18-year-old woman — each face 10 charges including forcible confinement, human trafficking and benefiting from sexual services provided by a person under the age of 18.

(Sidebar: what is wrong with people?)

Your global warming update:

Climate models can be good tools for predicting future sea ice levels — unless, of course, they are completely wrong. In the case of Antarctica, the climate models were dead wrong, according to a new study by Chinese scientists published in the journal Cryosphere.

The study found that most climate models predicted Antarctic sea ice coverage would shrink as the world warmed and greenhouse gas levels increased.

The opposite happened. Most climate models analyzed in the study predicted Antarctica would shrink between 1979 and 2005, but instead south pole sea ice levels increased during that time. Going a step further, sea ice levels have only increased since 2006, hitting all-time highs for sea ice coverage in September of last year.

In a new study published in the scientific journal Geology, researchers from institutions including Aarhus University in Denmark show that, during the last 4,000 years, there appears to have been a close correlation between solar activity and the sea surface temperature in summer in the North Atlantic. This correlation is not seen in the preceding period.

Since the end of the Last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago, the Earth has generally experienced a warm climate. However, the climate has not been stable during this period, when temperatures have varied for long periods. We have generally had a slightly cooler climate during the last 4,000 years, and the ocean currents in the North Atlantic have been weaker.

“We know that the Sun is very important for our climate, but the impact is not clear. Climate change appears to be either strengthened or weakened by solar activity. The extent of the Sun’s influence over time is thus not constant, but we can now conclude that the climate system is more receptive to the impact of the Sun during cold periods – at least in the North Atlantic region,” says Professor Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz, Aarhus University, who is one of the Danish researchers in the international team behind the study.


Yeah but it's probably legal tender on Vulcan!

It turns out there's not a lot of logic in the belief that it's against the law to Vulcanize Wilfrid Laurier's likeness on the $5 bill.

The death of Leonard Nimoy last week inspired people to post photos on social media of marked-up banknotes that show the former prime minister transformed to resemble Spock, Nimoy's famous "Star Trek" character.

For years, Canadians have used pens to doodle Spock's pointy Vulcan ears, sharp eyebrows and signature bowl haircut on the fiver's image of Laurier.

Contrary to what many believe, the Bank of Canada said Monday it's not illegal to deface or even mutilate banknotes, although there are laws that prohibit reproducing both sides of a current bill electronically.

Nonetheless, bank spokeswoman Josianne Menard pointed out there are reasons to resist the urge to scribble on bills.

"The Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride," Menard wrote in an email.

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