Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Still working in Afghanistan

U.S. Arrests Reputed Afghan Drug Lord

A reputed Afghan drug lord who authorities say operated with the protection of the Taliban has been captured and faces charges that he tried to smuggle more than $50 million worth of heroin into the United States, authorities said.

Bashir Noorzai, who is on the U.S. list of most-wanted drug kingpins, was ordered held without bail at his initial court appearance in Manhattan. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Snow makes a comeback

Last Friday we had a strange day of snow here in Romania. Then I got some emails from home saying that show was expected in Ohio, but I heard no follow up information on this...and now, I see that it did indeed arrive:

Midwest, Appalachians Dig Out From Storm

Misleading Headline of the [Past Weekend]

"Poll finds Ohioans still split on Bush"

To me, the connotation here is that we are sort of undecided. But...I don't know so. We decided. We in Ohio choose President Bush, by a larger margin than Liberals can bear to take.

It's strange to me that there are still approval ratings going on, but I think the liberals are still waiting for people to stop liking the President...and I don't think there is a chance that this will happen in any great number of people.

I watch dog shows...so I'm well informed

This is from Monday's Best of the Web
(It got my attention because it had the title "Poodles of the World, Unite!":
Of course, John Kerry is an unlikely tribune of hardscrabble-Americans, as Frank acknowledges--though he spends most of his time whining about how mean the Republicans were in caricaturing Kerry as an out-of-touch aristocrat. Among his complaints:
The NRA came up with an image that brilliantly encapsulated the whole thing: an elaborately clipped French poodle in a pink bow and a Kerry-for-president sweater over the slogan "That dog don't hunt."[10]
The pedantic footnote, though, is the best part of the whole article (emphasis his):
[10] In fact, poodles are hunting dogs, bred hundreds of years ago to retrieve ducks from water. Their distinctive clipped coats were designed to aid them in this purpose, keeping the dog's body and joints warm as it splashes about but otherwise leaving it free from encumbrance. See Jill Hunter Pellettieri, "Why Are Poodle Haircuts So Weird?," Slate, February 10, 2004.

Actually, the delightfully named Slate writer says that poodles used to be hunting dogs, back in 16th- and 17th-century Germany. The current stereotype is based in more recent history:
Poodles' haircuts evolved into some of the more ornate and elaborate incarnations we see today when the animals gained popularity in France, particularly in the 18th century under the reign of Louis XVI. Poodles, especially the smaller varieties, were popular with the nobility, who would mold the little dogs' hair into extravagant styles, sometimes mimicking the ornate pompadours that French men and women wore themselves at the time.

Likening Kerry to a poodle, then, doesn't seem all that unfair to poodles. Besides, until 40 years or so ago, most Democrats were hawks. If they can change, why can't dogs? Doesn't Frank believe in evolution?

Yeah, I don't need a "recent history" to know that poodles aren't currently hunting dogs. You could watch any dog show and see that they are not part of the sporting or hunting groups.

(Oh and I like the use of the word "hardscrabble")

Monday, April 25, 2005

Double Trauma

Here in Romania there are two big stories dominating the news. Flooding in the western "county" of Timis, around the large city of Timisoara and the abduction of the Romanian journalists in Iraq.

First, the flooding. I find the news coverage of this here very interesting because it's very dramatic with moving music and very sad pictures. It's been going on for about a week, but it's still a major story. I was surprised at how strongly everyone is reacting to it and then I realized: "You don't get much flooding here in Romania, do you?"
Nope. They don't. So this is a disaster for that area. And it's not like America where there are tons of charities and government organizations with money to hand out to places deemed "disaster areas." I did see some footage of water bring brought to the people who lost their homes. But the poor state of the infrastructure around the country, especially in the outlying villages makes it all the more tragic for the victims. Many people prayed for this situation out loud in church yesterday.

Second, Romanian Journalists.
I've been frustrated with the coverage of this story because it seems so confusing. I have no idea what is being shown in America, but I'm assuming it's not a big story or my mom would be writing and saying something like "I'm so worried about you there because Romanians were kidnapped, did you know???" :)
I've never seen it on the front page of yahoo news, even on the front page of world news, but I found stories here and here that are relatively recent.
My frustration though stems from the fact that reporters are putting out stories without knowing very much. First I heard they were released, rescued by Americans or something. Then I saw the stories about the hostages being part of a plot and now it seems certain that both of the first two are not true and there is real danger.
The interesting thing about this story is that even high school-age people are knowledgeable and interested. I was at a birthday party for an 18 year old girl yesterday and when news of the hostages came on, all the kids said to be quiet because they wanted to hear what happened. My friend Lena, who is also 18, knows about this from reading the paper and says that the current Romanian president is the best they ever had and Romanian troops will not be withdrawal from Iraq because of Terrorists demands. However, one of the hostages is from the nearby city of Sibiu and so that is also increasing the level of concern here.

I haven't seen it in any online news story, but I heard on the news here that a tape was made to help the journalists and sent to Al-Jazeera in the hopes that Al-Jazeera would be, I suppose "fair and balanced", and run tapes from both sides. I haven't heard the result of this, but I would welcome any comments as to the coverage of this story in State-side media.

Meanwhile, we continue to pray.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Taranto takes on the Anti-Bolton-ites

As I've said before, I think Bolton sees potential in the UN while the democrats think that the UN is perfect just as it is. Isn't that sweet?
Well, nothing is perfect and everything can use improvement and that's what the President and John Bolton understand. Yesterday, James Taranto explained this all very well:
Bolton's view--with which this column agrees--seems to be that the U.N. is useful and worthy of respect only insofar as it responds to American leadership and serves American interests. The Democrats' view, by contrast, seems to be that the U.S. has an obligation to follow the U.N., whether it acts in America's interests or not. That's why, for example, John Kerry*, who voted in 2002 to authorize U.S. military force in Iraq, changed his mind the next year when the U.N. Security Council balked at passing a resolution expressly permitting such action.

Only that's not quite right. The classic example of the U.S. leading the U.N. was the first Gulf War. In November 1990 the Security Council passed Resolution 678, which authorized member states "to use all necessary means," including military force, to liberate Kuwait, then under occupation by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The resolution also "request[ed] all States to provide appropriate support" to that end.

In January 1991 Congress obliged. The House voted 250-183, with 179 Democrats voting "no," to authorize U.S. military force. The Senate vote was 52-47, with 45 Democrats voting "no." Only 86 House Democrats and 10 Senate Democrats voted in favor.

Among the negative votes were all five current Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who were then in Congress: Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Kerry, Paul Sarbanes and then-Rep. Barbara Boxer. All told, 25 of the 28 current Senate Democrats who were in Congress in 1991 voted against the Gulf War. (The three who voted for it, in case you're wondering, were Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Tom Carper of Delaware and Harry Reid of Nevada.)

So the U.N. gave the thumbs-up for military force and asked for help, and most Democrats balked. Only a handful of lawmakers, including Sen. Jim Jeffords, ex-Sen. Bob Graham, Reps. John Dingell and Jim Leach and a few other House members (along with Al Gore), took what might be considered the consistent pro-U.N. position, supporting the liberation of Kuwait but not Iraq. Most Dems who now pose as champions of the U.N. showed their disdain for the world body by voting to refuse its request for help in 1991.

It seems fair to conclude, then, that most liberal Democrats, like Bolton, are pro-U.N. only when it suits their purposes--and that their purposes are the opposite of Bolton's. That is, for the Democratic left, the U.N. is useful and worthy of respect only insofar as it acts as an obstacle to American leadership and an opponent of American interests.

But, of course, we're not saying that the Dems are unpatriotic.

Traffic Lights are better in Romania?

This past weekend we were in the north central city of Cluj. It's a rather large city and something I found pretty interesting was the system for their traffic lights. There was an automatic clock that would countdown, in either red or green, to tell you how much longer the red or green light would be present. I thought this was quite helpful so you wouldn't be sitting there waiting to see when the light would change. It seems a lot safer this way.

And now I see this story:
Traffic lights get an F in efficiency
The nation's traffic lights are woefully inefficient and outdated, forcing frustrated commuters to sit in congestion, waste gasoline and pollute the air, a traffic engineering group said Wednesday.

Ahh...you see...it's an environmental issue! Where's Hillary when you need her???

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bolton and the UN

So the Bolton vote is postponed?? I don't know exactly what is going on here, but everyone really needed to understand that the Bolton nomination is not a sign of the end of the UN. I read somewhere that a Democratic congressman (whose name is escaping me at the moment) thinks that John Bolton is there to break the UN. Instead, Bolton is a serious nomination meaning that the President is trying to repair the UN, or at least that he isn't ready to throw it under the bus. I somewhat disagree with the PResident on this because I haven't seen the UN being very useful in most of its current capacity. But I do appreciate that it has good potention and I think that with Bolton there, perhaps some of this potential can be realized.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Romanian Connection

It's something to be here in Romania when the story about the Romanian journalists being kidnapped in Iraq is hitting the press. Phoebe said that she saw on the news last week that the Americans had rescued the hostages, so I considered it over. But then yesterday we saw on the news that the only information the Romanian press had was that the journalists were alive. We were so confused about this.
Then Phoebe checked the internet and saw that a Romanian journalist had written about the story. He said that he had been there with those that were kidnapped and presented the idea that they had worked in conjunction with Omar Hayssam - in essence faking the kidnapping to get Hayssam out of Romania (because he is currently on restriction and cannot leave the country).

Then today, I saw this article about the events in the Turkish Press:
The prosecutor's office said last week in Bucharest that a Romanian-Syrian businessman arrested in the Romanian capital was "linked to the alleged kidnappers."

Surveillance of businessman Omar Hayssam has shown "links between him and people suspected of being implicated in the kidnapping of three Romanians in Iraq," it said in a statement.

Hayssam, who was arrested late Tuesday, is being charged under an anti-terrorist law, the statement said, adding that he is also suspected of fraud and tax evasion.

On March 29, the day after the kidnapping, Hayssam had told Romanian television stations that he had been "contacted by the kidnappers", who had demanded an undisclosed ransom, which he had refused.

Hayssam is close to Iraqi-American businessman Mohamed Munaf, who was taken hostage along with the three Romanians.

Munaf allegedly financed the trip of the Romanian journalists and was their guide in Baghdad.

With all that, the paper seems to be implying links between Hayssam and the kidnappers, but nothing about the hostages being in on the plan. But Phoebe's article said there was a connection between the family of the female hostage and Omar Hayssam. I wouldn't have been too skeptical of the Turkish Press Article if not for the last paragraph:
Iraq has been plagued by hostage-takings of foreigners and locals since the US-led war two years ago to remove president Saddam Hussein. Some hostages have been released, many of them for ransom, while others have been executed.

This reads like US-Anti-war propaganda to me. What is Turkey's position on Iraq again? Just curious...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

What would God think?

I agree with Matt:

First, Jeff Brokaw says:
Besides, with all the ridiculous, overheated rhetoric about the “Christian right” running the country and embarking on a fevered rush to take away our freedoms to surf for pr0n 24x7, aren’t Christians allowed to make some over the top statements once in a while, without being pilloried?

To which Matt replies:
Around the coffeetable? Maybe. In public? Nope. No one's perfect, but we've got to be above this sort of thing. Wise as a serpent, gentle as a dove.

Yes, This would be a true statement if all that mattered was what other people thought. But it's not all that matters. We have to be good witnesses, but we also have to act responsible before God. Afterall, what is an "over the top" statement? It's an exaggeration, which is a way of lying, right? That's not good. We need complete honestly with ourselves, with others, and especially with God.

Today I saw a young married woman wearing a shirt with some sparkly writing on it. I didn't particularly think the word on it was a good word. It wasn't a curse word, but it didn't display Christian modesty. My friend said, "Well, if her husband doesn't mind, what's the big deal?"
Well, what about being a good Christian witness?
And - what about God?
Maybe it's a shirt she can wear "around the coffeetable" with her husband...but not out visiting people in town.

Maybe I'm being too modest, but the point remains the same. We must remember that we can sin against others, but we can also sin against God. He asks us to be Holy as He is Holy and we must try to do this in everything we do and say.

What would we do without polls?

Poll: Americans Say Taxes Too Complicated

Yeah. No Kidding.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

People can still revoke their American citizenship, can't they??

From Friday's Best of the Web:

"More than 20 Ohio University students, Athens residents and out-of-town visitors sprawled out on sidewalks around campus [Wednesday], symbolically 'dying' to protest the war in Iraq," reports Ohio Daily, a student paper:

"We were looking for a way to visually represent the war in Iraq, something that would really make an impact," said Fiona Mitchell, an Interact member and organizer of the event.

One woman, 46-year-old Connie Harris, carried "a sign of an upside-down American flag with the word 'shame' above it." Harris told the Daily: "I was born in America, and I can honestly say I'm not proud to be an American." Finally, an "antiwar" activist who owns up to being unpatriotic!

Hey, I'm a conservative Scientist...

...And so were most of my physics professors. And so is the Ranger.

Jonah Goldberg has letters from a few others (keep scrolling down from there for more)...about the fact that there don't seem to be enough conservative scientists.

And I definately think this is an important point...though I don't know if it's very related to the topic at and, or just a sore spot among scientists:
Engineering is NOT a 'hard science'. It is in a separate college, and has little or nothing to do with the Arts and Sciences. Generally speaking, the liberals are in places like Physics and Biology. Chemists trend a bit more Republican.

Though again...more conservatives in Physics that I've seen. But that's just me. Oh, and it's not counting Maryland...where it's probably not true.

For me...it's an any time thing.

Coming down on the cookie? How dare they....

My beloved blue, furry monster — who sang "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me" — is now advocating eating healthy. There's even a new song — "A Cookie Is a Sometimes Food," where Cookie Monster learns there are "anytime" foods and "sometimes" foods.

"Sacrilege!" I cried. "That's akin to Oscar the Grouch being nice and clean."

I would have to agree with Ms. Chelsea Carter on this one. I mean...No one thinks that Oscar being dirty makes kids think they don't have to bathe...does it???

And really...I think Cookie Monster has bigger problems then eating a lot of cookies. Ms Carter asked about these:
But will he still scarf his food? Yes, plus the occasional object, Truglio said.

But isn't that unhealthy? Her reply: He's still Cookie Monster.

I think scarfing of any food is a worse habit then eating a cookie everyday. I think ice cream every day is good for your health...I would probably say the same about cookies :)

It's big news

Yesterday here in Romania, there was a lot of news about the Pope. I understood some of what I heard on the radio...but most of it was either in Romanian or Latin.

But towards the end of the day when a my romanian friend Phoebe couldn't find any other news except about the Pope. She couldn't even find much coverage of the death of Prince Ranier, and an friend arriving here from Spain hadn't heard anything about it either. And this is Europe people! So... I begin to wonder the same thing Sean did:

This -- Bushes, Clinton but no Carter at funeral -- was all over the morning shows today. It reminds me of Junior-High.

Isn't there some news that need covering?

Yes. I thought so too.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


At noon I'll be leaving for the Airport. I'm going to Romania until about the end of the month. I'll be doing some mission work there, but I'll also be in a wedding. So it will all be quite an adventure. I expect to go to the internet cafe, but I don't know if I'll be able to blog very often...certainly not every day. And all the preparations and packing have kept me from keeping up this week. Cause you know...I also like sleeping :)

I'll show up here when I can.

Thanks much and God Bless :)

A Better Place

Last week I disagreed with Glenn Beck for positing that Jesus would have healed Terri Schiavo. But this week he said something that I agreed with related to all that. It was actually something I had noticed over the weekend.

Glenn noticed that there has been so much sadness on TV over the Pope dying, and I understand that death is generally a sad thing. But when Terri Schiavo died one could hear the press talking about how it was such a beautiful thing and she was in a "better place" and not much about mourning or being sad.

And so I wonder if the press really knew much about Terri's faith and simply what sent her to said "better place" was that she was handicapped and then killed. Whereas, the Pope, who devoted practically his entire life to following God and leading His Church, is someone to be mourned. We are told to be sad instead of being told to celebrate his Homegoing. I understand that it is sad that the era is passing in the church, but I don't feel sad for the Pope because his death was not a tragedy or unexpected. He lived a good life, a life he gave to God and to people. And now he is having an even better life with God, one without tears and pain and surely one that began with God saying "Well done, good and faithful servant." Because the Pope was indeed a good and faithful servant of the Lord.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Jesus, Terri and a life worth living

Glenn Beck was just on the radio talking about what he thought Jesus would do if He were here with Terri Schiavo. Glenn said Jesus would have fed her and/or healed her, because Jesus's power to heal came from the person's faith in Him/faith in His ability to heal them. Then, when Terri died, Jesus would have brought her back from the dead. Glenn's position was that this is what happened with Lazarus and that Jesus valued life so much, even after seeing the "other side" that He rose people from the dead instead of letting them stay dead. Therefore, Glenn concluded that Jesus would not have agreed with the sentiments that say, about someone who has died, "She is better off now. She's with God and she's in a better place."

Now, I enjoy listening to Glenn Beck - Christians in talk radio are always welcome :) Plus he's hilariously funny and often, he's right - or I agree with him, which is basically the same thing :)

But this? not so much. I don't think that Jesus rose people from the dead because He thought it was better to be alive then to be with God. Instead, I think that He rose people from the dead to show other people that He could do it. He did miracles so that people would believe. He was kind of upset that He had to keep doing miracles for people to believe because I think He wanted them to believe based on what He said, not based on what they say, for that is what faith is all about right?

There is also the apostle Paul, in his New Testament epistles, says that he would rather be with God:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.
But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;
yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
[Philippians 1:21-24]

He wasn't afraid to die or dreading death, in fact he was looking forward to it! But he knew that he was in the service of the Lord and that there was more for him to do on the earth, and so he would stay and do it.

Of course we could make the argument that this is Paul's view of life and not Jesus's. But then we would have to reject the idea that Paul's epistles are part of Holy Scripture and this God's words, not just Paul's.

I do believe that Terri is in a better place, that in the resurrection of the dead she will have a brand new body. But that doesn't mean her death is not a tragedy.

Jesus valued life, but not only for the sake of living it, but for the sake of spreading the Gospel. And He certainly didn't value life on earth above eternal life with God.