Monday, November 10, 2003

le parcours

A bit brief as I'm trapped in the hell up of dial-up AOL service...

First off, we have to note the Maximum Leader's lovely church sign. I'll have to do one of my own at some point.

The Marmot links to and comments on the news about a labor demonstration that curdled into a riot.

He also notes Parapundit's recent post on North Korea.

The Infidel keeps track of Japanese erec--, uh elections and predicts that "politics in Japan will turn more divisive and open in the future."

I'm a bit late in pointing this out, but Richard at Peking Duck has some good posts on Taiwan's social progressivism. Try this post for starters.

Richard has another great post about China's banking system, and how it might be China's "Achilles' Heel." Again, this isn't a hot-off-the-press item; the post has been around a few days, but I've been slow in pointing it out.

Conrad at Gweilo Dairies notes Singapore's lameness when it comes to oral sex. He tries to divert my attention with a tit and bush shot here (attention diverted, though more toward the body than the face). And his post on the recent Saudi incident bears reading.

Annika endorses Al Sharpton. I agree his hair is probably a living thing.

Glenn takes on Dr. Phil. Good.

Dan Darling posts on the Riyadh bombings. A must-read. Fragrant hunk of liverwurst:

...what appears to have been going on in Saudi Arabia over the last several months is a crackdown, abeit a half-hearted one (perhaps due to the fact that man responsible for the crackdown, Interior Minister Prince Nayef, was just this last December musing about how the Jews were really the ones responsible for 9/11), on al-Qaeda's activities in the Kingdom. One might aptly note that this crackdown is in no way directed against either Wahhabism or even militant Wahhabism - Saudi funding reportedly still accounts for 50% of Hamas's budget.

More to the point, to date Saudi authorities have only arrested or apprehended individuals who can be definitively linked to planning terrorist attacks in the Kingdom.

Perhaps more interestingly:

Shutting down the al-Qaeda financial infrastructure in Saudi Arabia will go an extremely long way towards the final destruction of the network as well as ending the long-standing conflicts in Algeria, Chechnya, Kashmir, and Mindanao. Shutting down the entire terrorist infrastructure in Saudi Arabia will at the very least severely diminish Hamas's capabilities with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ultimate test of whether or not the Saudis are prepared to fully sever their ties to al-Qaeda will be whether or not the Kingdom is willing to cut the financial umbilical chord for international terrorism once and for all. Until that occurs in some fashion or another, everything that happens in the Kingdom should be the subject of intense skepticism, particularly claims to the press or even by public figures that the Saudis are no longer turning a blind eye to terrorism. The royal family has known about the activities of these individuals for well over a year at this point, and to date have done absolutely nothing to hinder them.


Once again, it appears that al-Qaeda's famed decentralization may in fact be as much of a bane as it is a boon to the terrorist organization. This latest bombing has gotten the network plenty of bad PR and may well be completely disavowed or regarded as an American plot much the same way that the bombing in An Najaf was.

Andrew Sullivan on the essential question: we want a president who will veer on the optimistic side when it comes to Islamist terror, or do we want a president that will veer on the side of caution and aggression? Do we want one who will hope for the best or one who will act, assuming the worst? I thought 9/11 ended that debate. It clearly hasn't. But it's the central debate of the coming election.

Amritas on Chomsky. My first (and still principal) acquaintance with Noam Chomsky was in my linguistics courses at Georgetown. Transformational grammar. Deep structures. The possibility of universal commonalities in language. A lot of this made sense to me, and still does, but Miyake, himself an obviously formidable linguist, takes issue with Chomsky here. Miyake's disagreements with the Chomskyan school are, like many conservatives', generally focused on Chomsky's political views, but he [Miyake] has on several occasions linked the "linguistics Chomsky" to the "politics Chomsky." I'm still exploring whether those links are valid.

A-HA? Perhaps an answer to Kevin at IA's post re: whether or not NK has a nuclear program-- this article in the Washington Post says the following:

The CIA has concluded that North Korea has been able to validate its nuclear weapons designs without a nuclear test, the agency told Congress.

The intelligence service believes that conventional explosives tests, conducted since the 1980s, have allowed the North Koreans to verify that their nuclear designs would work. The agency believes North Korea has one or two nuclear weapons similar to what the United States dropped on Hiroshima during World War II; a minority of U.S. analysts believes the communist country may already have made more.


North Korea has suggested it may conduct a nuclear test to demonstrate that it is a nuclear power. But U.S. officials are not sure that the North Koreans would expend a nuclear weapon if they have only a few.

"A North Korean decision to conduct a nuclear test would entail risks for Pyongyang of precipitating an international backlash and further isolation," the CIA said. "Pyongyang at this point appears to view ambiguity regarding its nuclear capabilities as providing a tactical advantage."

The CIA's conclusion was reported in an unclassified letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in August. That letter -- along with similar communications from the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI and the State Department -- was obtained by the Federation of American Scientists, a watchdog group that focuses on security and intelligence matters.


U.S. intelligence officials have acknowledged uncertainties about North Korea's weapons programs. The Defense Intelligence Agency, in its letter to the Senate committee, said a once-feared North Korean missile, the Taepo Dong 1, now appears to be only a research and development platform that is not intended for operational use.

North Korea remains ready, however, to test the Taepo Dong 2 -- a newer, long-range missile that might be capable of reaching the United States, the DIA said.

The defense agency vaguely suggested that such a test could take place either from North Korean soil or "perhaps in another country" that the agency did not name, although Iran and North Korea are known to have cooperated on missile projects in the past.

Will no one rid me of this meddlesome pompadour?

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