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Now it can be told


Knight-Ridder has just published an interesting analysis of the Katrina tragedy:

Four months after Hurricane Katrina, analyses of data suggest that some widely reported assumptions about the storm's victims were incorrect.

For example, a comparison of locations where 874 bodies were recovered with U.S. Census tract data indicates that the victims weren't disproportionately poor. Another database, compiled by Knight Ridder of 486 Katrina victims from Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, suggests they also weren't disproportionately African-American.

Oh, wait a minute. You're telling us that everything we read in the MSM about Katrina disproportionately affecting poor and black people was … wrong?

Good thing this didn't come out until well after it could have influenced the public's view of events.

Wouldn't want to rob Kanye West, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, John Kerry et al. of a sound bite.

Posted by Rodger on December 31, 2005 at 10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


Whacks and Wayne


What's in a name?

Well, as a public service, News of the Weird has compiled a 2005 list of murderers.

Arrested in 2005, and charged with murder:

Darrell Wayne Maness, 19, Wilmington, N.C. (January)

Timothy Wayne Ebert, 40, Cleveland, Texas (February)

John Wayne Blair, 49, Sevier County, Tenn. (April)

Derek Wayne Jackson, 18, Norristown, Pa. (April)

Nathaniel Wayne Hart, 34, Austin, Texas (April)

Kenneth Wayne Keller, Denton, Texas (August)

Ronald Wayne Lail, Burke County, N.C. (September)

Timothy Wayne Condrey, Caroleen, N.C. (September)

Roy Wayne Russell, Vancouver, Wash. (December)

Jeremy Wayne Hopkins, 22, Denton, Texas (November)

Reginald Wayne Thomas, 23, Huntsville, Texas (November)

Matthew Wayne Almand, 18, Melbourne, Fla. (November)

Convicted of murder:

Donald Wayne Shipe, 37, Winchester, Va. (May)

Sentenced for murder:

Emmanuel Wayne Harris, 28, Bisbee, Ariz. (February)

Tyler Wayne Justice, Alice, Texas (September)

Douglas Wayne Pepper, 44, Greensboro, N.C. (November)

Executed for murder:

Dennis Wayne Bagwell, 41, Huntsville, Texas (February)

Lonnie Wayne Pursley, 43, Huntsville, Texas (May)

Melvin Wayne White, 55, Hunstsville, Texas (November)

Committed suicide while suspected of murder:

Eric Wayne Jacobs, 27, Castroville, Calif. (April)

Michael Wayne Baxter, Edgewater, Md. (October)

Died of a drug overdose while serving two life terms for murder:

Russell Wayne Wagner, Jessup, Md. (February) (but buried at Arlington National Cemetery based on Army service in Vietnam, prompting Congress to propose to ban capital criminals from having military burials at Arlington)

Don't know about you, but I think I detect a pattern here.

Posted by Rodger on December 30, 2005 at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)


The rendition chickens return


Agence France Presse has broken a story on the rendition imbroglio that you won't find in The New York Times. (Hint: It involves the former Clinton administration.)

The US Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) controversial "rendition" program was launched under US president Bill Clinton, a former US counter-terrorism agent has told a German newspaper.

Michael Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the CIA who resigned from the agency in 2004, has told Die Zeit that the US administration had been looking in the mid-1990s for a way to combat the terrorist threat and circumvent the cumbersome US legal system.

"President Clinton, his national security adviser Sandy Berger and his terrorism adviser Richard Clark ordered the CIA in the autumn of 1995 to destroy Al Qaeda," Mr Scheuer said.

"We asked the president what we should do with the people we capture. Clinton said 'That's up to you'."

Mr Scheuer, who headed the CIA unit that tracked Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from 1996 to 1999, says he developed and led the "renditions" program.

He says the program includes moving prisoners without due legal process to countries without strict human rights protections.

"In Cairo, people are not treated like they are in Milwaukee," he said.

"The Clinton administration asked us if we believed that the prisoners were being treated in accordance with local law.

"And we answered, 'yes, we're fairly sure'."

He says at the time the CIA did not arrest or imprison anyone itself.

"That was done by the local police or secret services," he said, adding the prisoners were never taken to US soil.

"President Clinton did not want that," he said.

Just for the record, Michael Scheuer is no leftover Bush family loyalist. He was the not-so-anonymous author of two books—Through Our Enemies' Eyes and Imperial Hubris—that excoriated the present administration for its intelligence failures in the war on terror.

Until now, Mr. Scheuer—along with fellow intelligence community "whistleblowers" Joe Wilson and Bob Baer—has been a darling of the MSM and the left-wing lecture circuit.

Will he remain so now that he's exposed rendition's true origins?

Posted by Rodger on December 29, 2005 at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


Al Qaeda's next phase


Earlier this month, the ever-cheerful Dr. Ayman Zawhiri posted excerpts on the Internet from an interview he gave in September to celebrate the fourth anniversary of 9/11.

Zawahiri's comments (as translated by MEMRI) would seem to signal a new strategic direction for group:

"I call upon the mujahideen to focus their attacks on the stolen oil of the Muslims. Most of its revenue goes to the enemies of Islam, and most of what they leave is plundered by the thieves who rule our countries. This is the greatest theft in the history of humanity. The enemies of Islam are consuming this vital resource with unparalleled greed. We must stop this theft any way we can, in order to save this resource for the sake of the Muslim nation.

"If the only way to repel these thieves is by killing them, they should be killed without honor."

Although governments and oil companies appear to be downplaying it, it's possible that this next phase of attacks has already begun.

Just a few days after Zawahiri's web post, on December 12, a massive explosion and fire rocked the Buncefield fuel depot near Hemel Hempstead (pictured above), injuring 43 people, two of them seriously. The disaster was described as the largest of its kind in peacetime Europe.

Authorities in Britain have downplayed the terror angle. The BBC reported:
A police investigation into the incident has begun, including investigations by anti-terrorist police.

But Chief Con Whiteley said there was "nothing to suggest anything other than an accident".
All the same, there has been considerable speculation about possible terrorism at Buncefield, particularly in the blogosphere's left wing.

Regardless of what investigators find in the ashes of Buncefield, a report out of Kenya about a December 20 pipeline attack in Nigeria suggests that a terror campaign against the oil companies may in fact be underway:

Oil giant Shell has been forced to delay shipments of Nigerian crude after an apparent dynamite attack on one of its main pipelines in the country.

The attack by unknown gunmen killed at least eight people, and is expected to delay deliveries of more than 180,000 barrels per day for up to a week.

After the incident, Shell had to shut down two wells that supply the pipeline in the main Niger Delta oil region.

Pipelines have been attacked in the region a number of times before.

Some residents in the Niger Delta area have long claimed they do not benefit from the oil wealth, leading to the attacks.

In other instances, pipelines have been cut by thieves to siphon off the oil.

Anglo-Dutch Shell has involved "force majeure" to formally delay the shipments of oil.

This is a legal term allowing a company to release itself from a contract due to unforeseen circumstances out of its control.

The attack occurred 50km (31 miles) west of the oil centre of Port Harcourt, said Shell, hitting its Bonny terminal.

"There is a team on site now which has boomed off the oil spill, a fire-fighting crew has been mobilised as well to put out the fire," said a Shell spokesman in Nigeria.

"We have shut down [the] Bonny flow station in order to enable us to contain the fire, which is still raging, and carry out repairs.

"We are cutting back the production and exportation and it also means that we won't be able to provide all the crude we were supposed to."

The attack, which will cut total Nigerian oil exports by 7%, has had a knock-on effect on global oil prices, with both US light crude and the UK's Brent rising.

A previously unknown militia group calling itself the Martyrs' Brigade has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Andoni region local government chairman Monwan Etete said youths in four speed-boats had warned residents of local fishing villages to leave their homes shortly before the attack on Monday night.

Nigeria is the world's eighth largest oil producer, and the largest in Africa.

"The Martyrs' Brigade" sounds suspiciously like a jihadist organization. News outlets, however, seem to be downplaying this story, for reasons that entirely aren't clear.

This looks like a story to watch.

UPDATE: This analysis by David Wood highlights the vulnerability of Nigerian oil. Good background on al Qaeda's growing influence in Africa here—also here and here.

Posted by Rodger on December 28, 2005 at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


Ghost of Christmas past


This item appears in my morning copy of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The estranged wife of the publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was arrested Friday and charged with defiant trespass after refusing to leave her husband's Shadyside residence.

Pittsburgh police said they were called to the home of Richard Mellon Scaife, at 5201 Westminster Place, at about 7 p.m. Friday. Mr. Scaife called police because his wife, Ritchie Scaife, was pounding on doors and peeking in windows.

When police arrived, Mrs. Scaife, who was in the back yard, was told to leave. She did, but only for about 15 minutes, police said. When she returned, she refused officers' orders to leave and was arrested. She was charged with defiant trespass and released on her own recognizance.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Could it be that the maximum leader of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy is mere flesh and blood after all?

And when is Ritchie Scaife finally going take the Kerry bumper sticker off her Mercedes?

[My apologies for the light posting lately.]

Posted by Rodger on December 27, 2005 at 12:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)