Saturday, May 11, 2013

69 Years After Loss in a Normandy Garden, Another Set of World War II Dog Tag Reunited with The Veteran It Belonged To

An American World War ll veteran who lost his military dog tag in France nearly 70 years ago has finally been reunited with it
the BBC's Laura Westbrook reports in a story reminiscent of the discovery of James Kelson's dog tags on a Normandy beach.
The tag was found by a woman tending her garden in France 12 years ago.
Willie Wilkins, 90, was the guest of honour at a ceremony in Newark, New Jersey, to celebrate the 68th anniversary of VE Day, and was presented with his dog tag.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Who Gets Blasted During a Bush Administration Scandal? Republicans (Appropriately Enough); Who Gets Blasted During an Obama Administration Scandal? ALSO Republicans!

No matter how much you get used to the mainstream media's double standards, you always end up getting surprised. Thus, I was pretty much struck speechless when I opened Friday's International Herald Tribune to the Op-Ed page and came upon this Tom Toles cartoon. with a Casablanca theme. Is there nothing The One can do wrong? Is there no instance where liberals cannot let the story turn to their (smug) contempt for Republicans and/or conservatives?

"I may have seen some of the stupidest Negroes I've ever seen! A bunch of stupid, mindless Negroes!"

I may have seen some of the stupidest Negroes I've ever seen … the prestigious African-Americans — even though they've never been to Africa … Blacks! You're not African-American, you're black! Stop it! "I agree with [Barack Obama]!  … He's right about everything! … I agree with the president!" … Negroes would follow Barack Obama to Hell if he went there! … A bunch of stupid, mindless Negroes, if I've ever seen stupid and mindless Negroes! … What about hitting yourself in the head with a hammer?! … "Is the president for it?! Okay, I'm for it!" … God, you people! … Wake up, mindless zombies!
Think I'm quoting some terrible Ku Klux Klan member, or some other racist, and therefore I can only be a racist myself? Problem is, of course, that I am quoting The Angry Black Man aka the doctor of common sense (fist bump to Valerie).

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Good Grief: How to Figure Out Who Is Racist

Click to enlarge (Thanks to Greg in PA, via Duncan Hill)

Plus Ça Change: Christians Accused of Being Hateful by… Nero (!) …Two Thousand Years Ago (!)

In the year 44 King Herod Agrippa I imprisoned and beheaded James the Greater, the first of the Apostles to die 
writes Andrew Todhunter in the March 2012 issue of the National Geographic. The least one can say is that The Journey of the Apostles (with photos by Lynn Johnson) is extremely revealing. Plus ça change, they say, and it turns out that the period of time in that phrase goes back not only over a period of a generation or two (as perhaps commonly thought), or perhaps over a century or two, but over a period of not one but two millennia!

How many times have you heard that Republicans are horrid, that conservatives are racist, that the West is intolerant, that Christians are hateful?

Well, it turns out that the reason that the early Christians were persecuted, it was because they were… — scratch that! In fact, you see, the early Christians were not persecuted per se, it turns out, they were in fact getting their just desserts for being — yes, wait for it — hateful!

The chickens coming home to roost, to use a phrase used by self-serving leftists the world over. Karma! "Haven't the Christians (early or otherwise) asked themselves why they are despised so much? Haven't they asked themselves why their adversaries (the Romans, in this case) treat them the way they do? Haven't they looked into their (dark) souls?" (Ever notice how the — alleged — hatred in the souls of people in the West is always highly reproachable, while that of everybody else always seems to be understandable and natural and somehow a good thing?)

To quote Tacitus, the early Christians were convicted of — get this — "hatred against mankind".

Indeed, hatred is so much of a no-no, hatred is so politically incorrect (already 2,000 years ago), that when Nero accuses the Christians of being behind the great fire in Rome, with all the death and destruction that this entails, even this "crime of firing the city" is not so much the primary reason given for the Christians' conviction, the Roman historian tells us, as is the (obviously indisputable) fact of the presence in their souls "of hatred against mankind."

Let us let Andrew Todhunter (re)tell the story:
In 64, when a great fire in Rome destroyed 10 of the city's 14 quarters, Emperor Nero, accused by detractors of setting the fire himself, pinned the catastrophe on the growing Christian movement and committed scores of believers to death in his private arena. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote: "An immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind … Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired." In the year 110 Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, was arrested by the Romans under Trajan, shipped to Rome, and condemned to death ad bestias—by beasts—at the public games. Bloody episodes like this would recur sporadically for the next two centuries.

Tradition holds that 11 of the Twelve Apostles were martyred. Peter, Andrew, and Philip were crucified; James the Greater and Thaddaeus fell to the sword; James the Lesser was beaten to death while praying for his attackers; Bartholomew was flayed alive and then crucified; Thomas and Matthew were speared; Matthias was stoned to death; and Simon was either crucified or sawed in half. John—the last survivor of the Twelve—likely died peaceably, possibly in Ephesus, around the year 100.
How 'bout that?! Now, in true leftist fashion, we understand the real reason why the Christians were persecuted — or, rather, why they were "persecuted", in quotation marks, since, in some obscure karmic manner, those hateful beings obviously deserved their fate. As French intellectuals said about Americans after the 9-11 tragedy, ils l'ont bien mérité… They had it comin' to 'em…

Update: Two or three years later, a special NG issue on The Rise & Fall of the Roman Empire will mention the Tacitus excerpt again, albeit with a slightly different translation (a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of "hating the human race")

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Goodbye, Friend: RIP Ray Harryhausen

Visual effects master Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion wizardrystop-motion wizardry graced such films as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, has died aged 92.

Olavo de Carvalho on socialism: A thousand combat fronts which do not advance the socialist cause ostensibly, but erode the moral and cultural values of capitalist society

Olavo de Carvalho, President of The Inter-American Institute, is interviewed by the Patrick Henry College's Intelligencer Journal on the subjects of Latin America and Socialism (obrigado para Swimming Against the Red Tide, whose post by Luís Afonso Assumpção contains different excerpts of de Carvalho's thoughts, focusing on the role of the late Hugo Chávez, as a… decoy!).
I. The Causes of Socialism

The Intelligencer: What do you believe are the underlying causes for Latin America’s shift toward socialism/communism after the region had implemented at least forms of capitalism?

Olavo: The history of Latin America in the last half century can be divided into three stages. The first, that of military dictatorships and defeat of the armed left. The second, the return of democracy and a phase of fleeting and skin-deep enthusiasm for free-market capitalism, coinciding with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. Finally, the general rise of the left.
Clearly, the third stage was prepared during the second, when the public opinion thought that communism was dead and buried forever, when in fact it was only playing dead to catch its enemies by surprise. What happened was that, at the time, the right did not understand at all the process of internal transformation of the communist movement. First, the military had focused on combating the armed left without doing virtually anything against communism at the ideological and cultural levels, which, precisely at the time of the greatest repression, were quietly taken over by leftists. In almost all Latin American countries, leftists dominated the cultural and journalistic apparatus precisely at the moment when the fall of the USSR created among them a state of ideological confusion which is very conducive to a thorough strategic review, which occurred with remarkable speed, without the right—so drunk it was with triumphalistic delusion—even noticing it.

This review consisted of the following items: (1) an organizational reform of the communist parties, which abandoned the old vertical chain of command and adopted a more flexible form of organization based on network structures in order to provide a strategic coordination among all factions of the left, bypassing old ideological divisions, (2) a radical shift in the left’s ideological discourse, which, instead of focusing on a structural transformation of the economy, began to emphasize all sorts of group interests that were antagonistic to the system—against which the left no longer waged open war, but rather launched attacks from a thousand quarters, creating a total confusion in society.

These changes reflect what Augusto del Noce called, somewhat ironically, “the suicide of the Revolution:” once any clear vision of a socialist future was dissolved, the revolutionary struggle crumbled into a seemingly unconnected thousand combat fronts which, according to the same del Noce, did not advance the socialist cause ostensibly, but eroded moral and cultural values of capitalist society, which thus assumed increasingly malignant and odious features. The new generations of supporters of capitalism, already educated without the moral and cultural values that held up the regime, contributed to this process, surrendering themselves to an amoral pragmatism that made capitalism precisely the monster that leftists would wish it to be.

Meanwhile, leftists took advantage of this in order to promote and denounce corruption at the same time, laying all the blame on capitalism. The situation as a whole became so confusing that no one on the right understood what was going on. Stunned and paralyzed, conservatives and free-market liberals gradually yielded to an ideological advance whose communist profile they completely failed to notice. That is how a faction that seemed almost extinct in the early 1990’s became the almost absolute dominating political force on the continent.

The Intelligencer: What about the role of outside allies such as Russia, Iran, or China?

Olavo: The entire strategy of the São Paulo Forum clearly fits into the plans of Russia and China to create a “Brand New New World Order” to be built upon the devaluation of the dollar and the collapse of the American economy. … Note that, at the very moment that the United States are under threat of war, the Obama administration is all about weakening the American military and strengthening domestic law enforcement agencies (arming them even with military-style equipment) at the same time it promotes the destruction of the American economy through pharaonic borrowing and spending. To me it seems that the BRICS’ “Brand New New World Order” is already in power in Washington and sees as inevitable—if not desirable—the social crisis that will allow it to severely limit democratic freedoms.

The Intelligencer: Do you believe that the majority of citizens in socialized Latin American nations really believe in socialist policies, or are demagoguery and/or corruption driving the movement?

Olavo: You have no idea of the state of mental confusion and disconnection from reality in which public opinion finds itself in Latin America, especially in Brazil. None of the problems I have mentioned here is ever discussed in the mainstream media or in the Parliament. Most people believe they still live in a capitalist democracy and do not see the slightest danger of a communist dictatorship. It is as though the last newspaper that came into their hands were from about August 1990. Public debates do not reflect absolutely anything that is really going on. Moreover, it is necessary to understand that many of the profound changes that have been introduced into the social, economic, cultural, and educational life in Latin America have been established through administrative decrees, ministerial directives, and judicial rulings—that is, they have never gone through legislative debate, and they have rarely received any media coverage. Everywhere people understand democracy only as an electoral process, failing to notice that without access to essential information, this process is only a façade, with no reality inside. The state of political ignorance in which the population live today in Latin America, and especially in Brazil, shows that the difference between democracy and dictatorship has become relevant. In the United States, things have not yet reached that point, but they are very quickly approaching it.
II. The Future of Socialism

The Intelligencer: What political ideologies do you believe will dominate Latin America in the future?

Olavo: Everywhere on the continent, the political “right” is disjointed and disoriented. In Brazil, the only thing that exists under the name of  “right” is the most moderate wing of the left. In the coming decades, it is possible that some right resurfaces, not so much inspired by the traditional conservative discourse as by moral and religious grounds, since the the dominant left’s insistence on quickly modifying the country’s framework of moral values comes into direct conflict with the religious beliefs of the majority of the population. What seems that is going to happen is not a struggle between socialism and capitalism, but rather between the revolutionary spirit and Christianity.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The DailyMotion Illustration of How Government Intervention Undermines the Free Market

Orange-France Télécom has renounced in its plans to sell Dailymotion to Yahoo! in a Le Monde article that illustrates perfectly how government intervention undermines the free market.

As Cécile Ducourtieux et Alain Beuve-Méry report it, once the French government learned of the proposed sale, it intervened to put a stop to it: "Dailymotion is one of the few content companies these past years which France has succeeded in getting a place on the web," said one internet provider as he summed up the government's thoughts. "It is a real pearl, and which moreover is not losing any money. It would be a real shame to let it go." Later in the article, we learn that with 7.5 million euros in 2009, it is not the first time that the government intervenes in Daily Motion's finances.

(In a similar vein, Gwénaël Pépin informs us that a French government minister has intervened against a "brutal" decision by Apple to ban a French app named AppGratis from its AppStore…)
Selon des sources convergentes, Orange-France Télécom a renoncé à céder l'intégralité de Dailymotion au géant américain Yahoo!

L'opérateur de télécommunications, qui possède 100 % du capital de la plate-forme de vidéo française, cherchait depuis des mois un partenaire américain pour la développer. Mais, il y a trois ou quatre semaines, alertés par des fuites dans le Wall Street Journal, Pierre Moscovici, le ministre de l'économie et des finances, et Arnaud Montebourg, le ministre du redressement productif, ont émis de forts doutes sur l'opportunité d'une telle opération.

"Dailymotion est une des rares sociétés de contenus que la France ait réussi à faire émerger sur le Web ces dernières années, c'est une vraie perle, et qui en plus ne perd pas d'argent. Ce serait quand même dommage de la laisser filer", assure au Monde une figure de l'Internet français.

Pour Stéphane Richard, le PDG d'Orange qui brigue un second mandat à la tête de l'opérateur (l'actuel court jusqu'à mi-2014), il n'était pas question de se brouiller avec l'Etat, qui reste à plus de 27 % son actionnaire. L'ancien directeur de cabinet de Christine Lagarde à Bercy a donc décidé de ne pas poursuivre les discussions sur une base visant à céder une trop grande part du capital de la PME.


Au gouvernement, on a d'autant plus "tiqué" que l'Etat était venu une première fois au secours de Dailymotion pour aider la start-up à se développer et la mettre à l'abri de l'appétit d'éventuels acquéreurs étrangers. C'était en octobre 2009, le Fonds stratégique d'investissement (FSI) y avait injecté 7,5 millions d'euros. Avant qu'Orange ne prenne le relais : en janvier 2011, le groupe avait annoncé un accord prévoyant sa montée au capital de la société à hauteur de 49 %. Cet accord prévoyait qu'il finisse par en contrôler 100 % en janvier 2013.

"Yahoo! demandait plus de la majorité du capital de Dailymotion, au moins les trois quarts, voire l'ensemble. Le portail américain veut pouvoir intégrer la plate-forme à son offre de contenu", croit savoir une source interne chez Orange.
 … Orange est en effet convaincu que la plate-forme française a besoin d'un partenaire américain. Dailymotion, fondée en mars 2005 par Benjamin Bejbaum et Olivier Poitrey, a certes réussi la performance de devenir un concurrent crédible de YouTube, géant mondial de la vidéo sur le Web et filiale de Google.

C'est une des pépites de l'Internet français, comme OVH, une société nordiste qui propose des services d'hébergement informatique, ou la plate-forme d'écoute de musique Deezer (dans laquelle Orange a également pris une participation, en 2010).

"Dailymotion dispose d'une superbe plate-forme technologique, elle est désormais parvenue à l'équilibre", précise un proche du dossier. Comme YouTube, la société a fondé son modèle économique sur la génération de revenus publicitaires. Elle travaille activement à attirer des contenus de qualité sur ses sites Web, afin de faire venir aussi les annonceurs. Elle parie aussi un peu sur la vidéo à la demande, et a commencé son internationalisation (le site est disponible en 16 langues).

Mais la différence d'audience et de moyens avec YouTube reste abyssale. Dailymotion comptabilisait 112 millions de visiteurs uniques par mois en janvier 2013, selon l'institut ComScore, alors que la filiale de Google a passé la barre du milliard de visiteurs uniques par mois début 2013.

 … Aujourd'hui, pour que le dossier Dailymotion avance, la question est de savoir si Marissa Mayer, la charismatique patronne de Yahoo !, arrivée l'été dernier à la tête du portail américain pour tenter de le redresser (il est en perte de vitesse par rapport à Google ou Amazon), va accepter que les Français lui dictent leurs conditions...

Cardinal Questions for the Believers

… semblant entériner un combat perdu, [le cardinal André Vingt-Trois] reconnaît : "Nous ne devons plus attendre des lois civiles qu'elles défendent notre vision de l'homme."
Ainsi écrit Stéphanie Le Bars dans Le Monde sur le sujet du mariage gay (gay marriage) qu'il remet dans un contexte plus large.
Aux croyants, il précise que "la pointe du combat n'est pas une lutte idéologique ou politique" et les met en garde contre "les protections trompeuses d'une organisation en ghetto ou en contre-culture". Il les appelle à vivre en conformité avec leurs paroles. "A quoi bon combattre pour la sauvegarde du mariage hétérosexuel stable si nos propres pratiques rendent peu crédible la viabilité de ce modèle ? A quoi bon nous battre pour défendre la dignité des embryons, si les chrétiens tolèrent l'avortement dans leur propre vie ? A quoi bon nous battre contre l'euthanasie si nous n'accompagnons pas nos frères en fin de vie ?"