Mark Steyn reminds us there is another Iranian hostage crisis.

How do you feel about the American hostages in Iran? No, not the guys back in the Seventies, the ones being held right now. What? You haven't heard about them? Odd that, isn't it? But they're there. For example, for two months now, Haleh Esfandiari has been detained in Evin prison in Tehran. Esfandiari is a U.S. citizen and had traveled to Iran to visit her sick mother. She is the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, which is the kind of gig that would impress your fellow guests at a Washington dinner party. Unfortunately, the mullahs say it's an obvious cover for a Bush spy. Among the other Zionist-neocon agents currently held in Iranian jails are an American journalist, an American sociologist for a George Soros-funded leftie group, and an American peace activist from Irvine, Ali Shakeri, whose capture became known shortly after the United States and Iran held their first direct talks since the original hostage crisis. Two months in an Iranian jail is no fun. Four years ago, a Montreal photo-journalist, Zahra Kazemi, was arrested by police in Tehran, taken to Evin prison, and wound up getting questioned to death. Upon her capture, the Canadian government had done as the State Department is apparently doing – kept things discreet, low-key, cards close to the chest, quiet word in the right ears. By the time Zahra Kazemi's son, frustrated by his government's ineffable equanimity, got the story out, it was too late for his mother. ...

Hugh Hewitt with great post on Senate maneuvers.
A remarkable thing happened in the United States Senate earlier Thursday evening, and it occurred over a rather unremarkable piece of legislation that was being debated. Conservatives, frustrated at the lack of a genuine leader of their party, may have finally found one in Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. After Democratic leader Harry Reid’s MoveOn.org all-night session Tuesday night, a move that resulted only in helping unify the weak-kneed Republicans who were peeling away from continued support of the Petraeus surge in Iraq, McConnell, the Republican leader, served notice to anyone watching C-SPAN that he now runs the Senate. ...

Andy McCarthy says the Senate has killed the bill that would have protected innocent bystanders when they report suspicious behavior.
At least for now, the Democrats have killed Rep. Pete King's amendment which would have provided protection from being sued for people who report suspicious behavior — like the Flying Imams' simulated hijacking — in national security cases. Michelle Malkin has the details. Maybe it's me, but I just find this stunning. Asking whether, in this era (or, frankly, any era), you should be able to tell the police you saw something troubling without having to worry about it is like asking whether you should be able to breathe. It is common sense — if such a thing exists anymore in Reid/Pelosi America. ...

... All Republicans in the Senate except Brownback voted for the measure. Hillary Clinton, who is running for president and obviously is not suicidal, broke with her party and voted with the Republicans. So did Senators Bayh, Conrad, Dorgan, Landrieu, Lieberman, Nelson (of Nebraska), and Schumer. The remaining 39 Democrats were all nays. Call them the "Death Wish Caucus," doing the bidding of CAIR, which is backing the Flying Imams and their alleged right to sue Americans for reporting potential terrorist activity. ...

Debra Burlingame, sister of one of the 9/11 pilots, reacts to the Senate move.
... Yesterday, members of Congress met in conference to finalize provisions of the 9/11 security bill, which implements the final recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. But as of press time, the Democratic majority was using a technicality to block the so-called John Doe amendment from being included in the bill. The amendment, which protects citizen whistleblowers who report suspicious activity from being sued, was sponsored by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) after six imams who were removed from a U.S. Airways flight in November filed a lawsuit against the passengers who reported their behavior to flight crews. ...

Marty Peretz touts a WSJ column by Michael Oren Here's the piece by Oren.
JERUSALEM--Newspapers in Israel Tuesday were full of stories about President Bush's call on Monday for the creation of a Palestinian state and an international peace conference. While Israeli officials were quoted expressing satisfaction with the fact that "there were no changes in Bush's policies," commentators questioned whether the Saudis would participate in such a gathering and whether Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with his single-digit approval ratings, could uproot Israeli settlers from the West Bank. But all the focus on the conference misses the point. Mr. Bush has not backtracked an inch from his revolutionary Middle East policy. Never before has any American president placed the onus of demonstrating a commitment to peace so emphatically on Palestinian shoulders. Though Mr. Bush insisted that Israel refrain from further settlement expansion and remove unauthorized outposts, the bulk of his demands were directed at the Palestinians. ...

The Australian has a great item on what it's like to go against the global warming crowd.
WHEN I agreed to make The Great Global Warming Swindle, I was warned a middle-class fatwa would be placed on my head. So I wasn't shocked that the film was attacked on the same night it was broadcast on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company) television last week, although I was impressed at the vehemence of the attack. I was more surprised, and delighted, by the response of the Australian public.

The ABC studio assault, led by Tony Jones, was so vitriolic it appears to have backfired. We have been inundated with messages of support, and the ABC, I am told, has been flooded with complaints. I have been trying to understand why. First, the ferocity of the attack, I think, revealed the intolerance and defensiveness of the global warming camp. Why were Jones and co expending such energy and resources attacking one documentary? We are told the global warming theory is robust. They say you'd have to be off your chump to disagree. We have been assured for years, in countless news broadcasts and column inches, that it's definitely true. So why bother to stamp so aggressively on the one foolish documentary-maker - who clearly must be as mad as a snake - who steps out of line? I think viewers may also have wondered (reasonably) why the theory of global warming has not been subjected to this barrage of critical scrutiny by the media. After all, it's the theory of global warming, not my foolish little film, that is turning public and corporate policy on its head. The apparent unwillingness of Jones and others at the ABC to give airtime to a counterargument, the tactics used to minimise the ostensible damage done by the film, the evident animosity towards those who questioned global warming: all of this served to give viewers a glimpse of what it was like for scientists who dared to disagree with the hallowed doctrine. Why are the global warmers so zealous? After a year of arguing with people about this, I am convinced that it's because global warming is first and foremost a political theory. It is an expression of a whole middle-class political world view. This view is summed up in the oftrepeated phrase "we consume too much". I have also come to the conclusion that this is code for "they consume too much". People who believe it tend also to think that exotic foreign places are being ruined because vulgar oiks can afford to go there in significant numbers, they hate plastic toys from factories and prefer wooden ones from craftsmen, and so on. ...

Speaking of global warming foolishness, WaPo says all the corn planting has the potential to harm the Chesapeake Bay. Knowledge Problem gives us a link. Allen Barra in the Village Voice doesn't like the rehabilitation of Barry Bonds.
It's a sad situation when the tabloids are on higher moral ground than the mainstream press, but that's what Barry Bonds has driven us to. Watching Fox's coverage of the All-Star game in San Francisco with a smiling Bonds escorting his godfather, Willie Mays, around AT&T Park, and listening to Joe Buck chide Hank Aaron for not being in attendance while Tim McCarver hedged on the issue of Bonds and steroids . . . Well, one yearned for the overwrought but refreshingly uncompromised headlines in the New York Post last year, when Bonds tied Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time list at 714. The Post's Sunday cover featured a series of needles arranged to form the number 714 under a headline that read "Hey, Babe: Move Over for the 'Shambino.'" The inside was just as good, with stories headlined "Say it taint so!" and "Sultan of Syringe." ... ... Let's also dispense with the idea that whatever Bonds used didn't enhance his performance. In 1999, a 34-year-old Bonds, weighing around 200 pounds, hit .262 with 34 home runs. Then, in defiance of all known natural law, he put on about 25 pounds of rock-hard muscle and proceeded to become, over the next five years, arguably the greatest hitter in baseball history. No such late-career surge has ever been seen in baseball, or anywhere else in professional sports. ...

... Barry Bonds, on the other hand, was a pampered middle-class brat who grew up in a world of privilege and was merely jealous of the attention accorded other home-run hitters. He has polluted the historical record for all time.

Planet Ark says Spanish scientist has solved the case of the missing bees.
The culprit is a microscopic parasite called nosema ceranae said Mariano Higes, who leads a team of researchers at a government-funded apiculture centre in Guadalajara, the province east of Madrid that is the heartland of Spain's honey industry. He and his colleagues have analysed thousands of samples from stricken hives in many countries. ...

Orange County Register Look who's holding hostages again
by Mark Steyn How do you feel about the American hostages in Iran? No, not the guys back in the Seventies, the ones being held right now. What? You haven't heard about them? Odd that, isn't it? But they're there. For example, for two months now, Haleh Esfandiari has been detained in Evin prison in Tehran. Esfandiari is a U.S. citizen and had traveled to Iran to visit her sick mother. She is the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, which is the kind of gig that would impress your fellow guests at a Washington dinner party. Unfortunately, the mullahs say it's an obvious cover for a Bush spy. Among the other Zionist-neocon agents currently held in Iranian jails are an American journalist, an American sociologist for a George Soros-funded leftie group, and an American peace activist from Irvine, Ali Shakeri, whose capture became known shortly after the United States and Iran held their first direct talks since the original hostage crisis. Two months in an Iranian jail is no fun. Four years ago, a Montreal photo-journalist, Zahra Kazemi, was arrested by police in Tehran, taken to Evin prison, and wound up getting questioned to death. Upon her capture, the Canadian government had done as the State Department is apparently doing – kept things discreet, low-key, cards close to the chest, quiet word in the right ears. By the time Zahra Kazemi's son, frustrated by his government's ineffable equanimity, got the story out, it was too late for his mother. Still, upon hearing of her death, then-Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham expressed his "sadness" and "regret," which are pretty strong words. But then, as Reuters put it, this sad regrettable incident had "marred previously harmonious relations between Iran and Canada." In his public pronouncements, Graham tended to give the impression that what he chiefly

regretted and was sad about was that one of his compatriots had had the poor taste to get tortured and murdered onto the front pages of the newspapers. With an apparently straight face, Graham passed on to reporters the official Iranian line that her death in jail was merely an "accident." The following year, Shahram Azam, a physician who'd examined Kazemi's body, fled Iran and said that she had broken fingers, a broken nose, a crushed toe, a skull fracture, severe abdominal bruising, and internal damage consistent with various forms of rape. Quite an accident. The longer American prisoners are held in Evin, the more likely it is they'll meet with a similar accident. It would be nice to think the press has ignored these hostages out of concerns that they might inflame the situation. (To date, only National Review, Bill Bennett on his radio show and various doughty Internet wallahs have made any fuss.) Or maybe the media figure that showing American prisoners on TV will only drive Bush's ratings back up from the grave to the rude health of intensive care. Or maybe they just don't care about U.S. hostages, not compared to real news like Senate sleepovers to block unblocking a motion to vote for voting against a cloture motion on the best way to surrender in Iraq. But I'll bet the mullahs wouldn't really care if everyone put Haleh Esfandiari on the front pages 24/7. It's only a few months since they seized a bunch of Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines in international waters (an illegal act) and paraded them all over Iranian TV (in breach of the Geneva Conventions) and dressed up the female sailor in Islamic garb (another breach). And the U.N. and the EU and all the other transnational arbiters of global order sent a strong message: "Whoa, you guys really need to tamp things down, de-escalate, defuse the confrontation." But, for some reason, they sent the strong message to the British government, not the Iranians. And, with the sailors' humiliation all over the media, the British public was inclined to agree. Almost to a man, they rose up and told Tony Blair: "This is all your fault for getting us into Iraq." But outrage at Iran? There was none. The ayatollahs figure that's how it usually goes with a plump, complacent Western world that just wants to be left alone and wishes these crazies would stop trying to catch its eye. Officially, Iran is "negotiating" with the European Union over its nuclear program. If this were a real negotiation, instead of a transnational pseudo-negotiation, the Iranians would be concerned to stop any complicating factors coming into play. Instead, every week they gaily toss new provocations into their EU chums' laps: In recent days, they've stoned to death various fellows for adultery and homosexuality, two activities to which Europeans are generally very partial. But why let a few stonings throw your negotiations off track? And, if the Americans are so eager to get a seat at the negotiating table, why not remind them of the rules of the game? Last week, the Iranians paraded their U.S. hostages all over TV as they confessed to engaging in espionage, along the way fingering the Woodrow Wilson Center and George Soros as key elements in the plot to overthrow the ayatollahs. If only. The week before, Iran captured 14 spies near the Iraqi border who it claimed were agents of American and British intelligence equipped with surveillance devices. The "spies" in question were squirrels – as in small furry animals very protective of their nuts (much like the Democratic Party regarding Mr. Soros). I'm prepared to believe that a crack team of rodents from NUTS (the Ninja Undercover Team of Squirrels) abseiled into key installations in Iran and garroted the Revolutionary Guards, but not that the U.S. and British governments had anything to do with it.

If they have any CIA or MI6 training at all, they must be rogue squirrels from the Cold War days who've been laid off and gone feral. In America, public opinion is in no mood for war with Iran. In Washington, Congress is focused on finding the most politically advantageous way to lose in Iraq. In Europe, they've already psychologically accepted the Iranian nuclear umbrella. In the Western world, where talks are not the means to the end but an end in themselves, we find it hard despite the evidence of 30 years to accept that Iran talks the talk and walks the walk. Once it goes nuclear, do you think there will be fewer fatwas on writers, stonings of homosexuals, kidnappings in international waters, forced confessions of American hostages and bankrolling of terror groups worldwide? These latest hostages are part of a decades-old pattern of behavior. The longer it goes without being stopped, the worse it will be.

Hugh Hewitt.com The night Mitch McConnell became the leader of the Republican Party.
Posted by Hugh Hewitt A remarkable thing happened in the United States Senate earlier this evening, and it occurred over a rather unremarkable piece of legislation that was being debated. Conservatives, frustrated at the lack of a genuine leader of their party, may have finally found one in Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. After Democratic leader Harry Reid’s MoveOn.org all-night session Tuesday night, a move that resulted only in helping unify the weak-kneed Republicans who were peeling away from continued support of the Petraeus surge in Iraq, McConnell, the Republican leader, served notice to anyone watching C-SPAN that he now runs the Senate. The Senate spent much of the day discussing the merits, or demerits, of HR 2669, the Student Loans and Grants Act. Maybe it was the culmination of a long week already, or maybe it was the upper chamber being lulled off guard by the increasingly senile senior Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd, who spent 25 minutes decrying the plight of the helpless fight dog in response to the weird Michael Vick story in the news, but tonight, McConnell and the Republicans decided to take control of the Senate. The Republicans offered amendment after amendment to the bill, catching the Democrats flat-footed. In case you want to hear about the plight of the fight dog, here’s Robert Byrd’s Senate floor address. After a couple of Republican amendments failed, Mitch McConnell took to the floor and offered his own amendment, which was a Sense of the Senate that Guantanamo detainees not be allowed released or moved to U.S. soil. To conservatives, this obviously makes sense. To liberals, especially California’s Dianne Feinstein, one of the chief proponents of the effort to close the detention center at Gitmo and relocate these detainees into the American justice system, especially when tagged onto a student loan and grant bill, you’d think this measure would go down in flames. Except a funny thing happened. The bill was titled in a way that you had to vote yes to vote no, and no to vote yes. The final vote was 94-3, officially putting the Senate on record as saying terrorist detainees shouldn’t be moved to the U.S. Before the Democrats, who clearly hadn’t read the amendment, realized they screwed up, the vote was recorded. Jim DeMint of South Carolina was the author of the next amendment in line, had just gotten the consent of Bernie Sanders, the presiding officer, to order the yeas and nays. Up stepped Massachusetts senior Senator Ted Kennedy, now obviously aware that he and his colleagues

just got bamboozled, and went on a full-throated rant, with reckless disregard to obvious hypocrisy, and blasted DeMint and the Republicans for slowing down the works in the Senate. The rant is worth hearing, so here it is. Once the rant was over, Kennedy threw the Senate into a quorum call so that the Democrats could regroup. The session progressed well into the night, and McConnell could easily have rested on his laurels, but he wasn’t finished. Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar offered his own irrelevant amendment, asking for a sense of the Senate that President Bush not pardon Scooter Libby. McConnell, with that wry smile he offers when he’s up to something, countered with a secondary amendment to Salazar’s, saying that if it’s fair to bring up the Senate’s view of potential future inappropriate pardons, maybe we should also have a sense of the Senate of past inappropriate pardons, and proceeded to maneuver the Senate clerk into reading off the laundry list of Clinton administration pardons, including those of Marc Rich and others, which again set the Democrats off in a tailspin. After throwing the Senate back into a quorum call for half an hour, the beleaguered Harry Reid came out and pulled the Salazar amendment off the floor. He’d been Mitchslapped twice in one night. Once again, the senior Senator from Massachusetts took to the floor, this time directing his venom at McConnell. Here’s the audio and text. What in the world does the Republican leader have against this legislation? The legislation that we have here before the United States Senate passed 17-3. The authorizing provision that changes policy was virtually unanimous. Young people all over the country are looking in here in the United States Senate. This is about the future of this next generation. Their hopes and their dreams. It’s about our country and being able to compete in the world. It’s about the quality of our armed forces, about getting well-trained, well-educated young people. It’s about our institution, whether they’re going to be functioning and working. Why can’t we go ahead and vote on this legislation? We were here for two days, waiting for different amendments on education. And few of them came. Why in the world are you holding up this legislation that means so much to the future of our young people. We’re prepared to vote. We didn’t have amendments over here on our side. We want to get this legislation going ahead. We’re looking forward to the reauthorization debate for next week, and we’re looking forward to getting something worthy of this institution. We, in the 45 years I’ve been in the United States Senate, under the leadership of Stafford of Vermont, of Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, of the members that we have had here, we have had true... The Senator’s time is expired. Kennedy: Why are we disrupting… Senator’s time is expired. If anyone really believes Senator Kennedy hasn’t seen obstruction like this in his 45 years, then they haven’t met Judges Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, William Myers, William Pryor, Henry Saad, Richard Griffin, David McKeague, Miguel Estrada, Peter Keisler, Charles Pickering, or Leslie Southwick. While some of these judges eventually got onto the bench as part of the Gang of 14 deal, there are many who were scuttled as part of the deal, and Keisler and Southwick continue to languish at the hands of the Pat Leahy controlled Judiciary Committee, of which Kennedy is a member. Kennedy is no stranger to preventing votes from being taken.

Senator Kennedy isn’t angry at Republicans tonight anyway. Any conservative who watched the debate in the evening recognizes the frustration in him. It’s the same frustration conservatives had between 2005 and the beginning of this year when Bill Frist, the affable but ineffective Republican majority leader, consistently mismanaged the Senate. Ted Kennedy is angry at Harry Reid, because in seven short months, Mitch McConnell has run rings around him on issues from Iraq to immigration, and tonight, he just flat-out schooled Reid on how the Senate works, as if to say to Reid you messed with us two nights ago on a PR stunt for your fringe base, here’s how things like that can be answered. And considering the fact that McConnell, Republican Conference Chairman Jon Kyl and other GOP Senators have been vocal about the growing frustration that the Democrats are not processing judicial nominees in good faith, and the coming slowdown showdown that really could grind things to a halt as a consequence of continued Democratic inaction on these nominees, if I were Kennedy, I’d be real nervous about who my leader was. The political landscape in Washington, D.C. would be completely different if McConnell would have been running the Senate the last two years rather than Senator Frist. While Dr. Frist was and remains a good conservative, ideologically speaking, he simply could not deliver the fight in the Senate that the conservative base by and large wanted to see happen while they had the numbers in the majority they did. Over the next 16 months, there are going to be many issues the Senate should be taking up but won’t, and many other issues it has no business debating but will. Obviously, nobody is pleased with the performance of the Republicans in the Senate overall in the last few years. Members who have strayed off the reservation on core conservative issues have been too numerous to count. But the fact of the matter is there was one amendment by Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman that failed on almost a purely party line vote that should make all conservatives pause before they wash their hands of the party November next. Senator Coleman tried to require as an amendment to this bill that the FCC not be allowed to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, and was defeated 49-48. All Republicans present voted yes, all Democrats present, including Hillary Clinton but excluding Indiana’s Evan Bayh, voted no. Make no mistake about it, if the Democrats gain the White House next November, and Republicans get so lost in which Senator voted what way on this or that, causing the Democrats to pick up additional seats, the Fairness Doctrine might very well be in play, and could take years before the Court could rule it unconstitutional. Goodbye talk radio. The Senate surely has made the base nervous at best and disgusted at worst in the seven months of the McConnell tenure. But if you look at the stats, when all is said and done, when the base needed him, he’s been there. He successfully kept the Republicans in line on multiple time certain withdrawal resolutions in the Senate, skillfully allowed the immigration bill to die while at least giving it a chance to be debated, and tonight showed the ability that he has no reservations about going toe to toe with Harry Reid and beating him repeatedly. It’s time conservatives use the old Reagan adage, trust but verify, and continue to support and encourage Mitch McConnell, and work to add to his numbers in the Senate next November.

The Corner Flying Imams, CAIR and Democrats Defeat Common Sense National Security
[Andy McCarthy] At least for now, the Democrats have killed Rep. Pete King's amendment which would have provided protection from being sued for people who report suspicious behavior — like the Flying Imams' simulated hijacking — in national security cases. Michelle Malkin has the details. Maybe it's me, but I just find this stunning. Asking whether, in this era (or, frankly, any era), you should be able to tell the police you saw something troubling without having to worry about it is like asking whether you should be able to breathe. It is common sense — if such a thing exists anymore in Reid/Pelosi America. The Democrats' maneuver here is also an obnoxious assertion of state power over the individual: If the state subpoenas you for information, you are compelled to provide it to the authorities whether you want to or not; but if you want to provide it voluntarily in order to protect your community, the Democrats say, "prepare to be sued." What possible good reason is there to silence people who want to tell the police they saw suspicious behavior? Under circumstances where we are under threat from covert terror networks which secretly embed themselves in our society to prepare and carry out WMD attacks? Planet earth to the Democrats: To execute such attacks, terrorists have to act suspiciously at some point. There are only a few thousand federal agents in the country. There are many more local police, but even they are relatively sparse in a country of 300 million. If we are going to stop the people trying to kill us, we need ordinary citizens on their toes. Again, this is just common sense. Profiling? Our war is against ISLAMIC radicals. They think the KORAN is commanding them to murder us. The guy who tried to bomb the airport in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago was yelling ALLAH! as he fought with the police. We're supposed to ignore that? Democrats killed the amendment in a very sneaky, technical, under-the-radar way in the House — so they can tell their insane fringe backers they pulled it off, yet no one's fingerprints are on it. As far as I'm concerned, that just means we should blame "THE DEMOCRATS." Period. If they don't want personal accountability, we should see it this way: When it comes to national security, this is who they are. In the senate, the measure fell short by three votes of the 60 needed. By the way: Barack Obama and Sam Brownback, showing real leadership as they run for the White House, did not bother to vote. Nor did Dianne Feinstein, though she is a member of the Judiciary Committee and frequently has lots to say on national security issues. Three votes were needed on an issue that pitted the American people against the netroots, and those three were nowhere to be found. Profiles in courage all. All Republicans in the Senate except Brownback voted for the measure. Hillary Clinton, who is running for president and obviously is not suicidal, broke with her party and voted with the Republicans. So did Senators Bayh, Conrad, Dorgan, Landrieu, Lieberman, Nelson (of Nebraska), and Schumer. The remaining 39 Democrats were all nays. Call them the "Death Wish Caucus," doing the bidding of CAIR, which is backing the Flying Imams and their alleged right to sue Americans for reporting potential terrorist activity. Michelle advises us to take heart: "This fight is not over. There still is a final conference report to be hashed out. Keep your phones lit. The Senate Dems need to hear from you."

NY Daily News Disarmed by the Dems
Congressional leaders fail to protect terror tipsters from insane lawsuits by Debra Burlingame He's your son, riding a commuter train to work. Your daughter, taking the subway to go shopping downtown. Your grandparent, boarding an airplane at JFK en route to a family reunion. Your husband or wife, working anywhere in America. John Doe is you. Me. All of us. And he's in trouble. Yesterday, members of Congress met in conference to finalize provisions of the 9/11 security bill, which implements the final recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. But as of press time, the Democratic majority was using a technicality to block the so-called John Doe amendment from being included in the bill. The amendment, which protects citizen whistleblowers who report suspicious activity from being sued, was sponsored by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) after six imams who were removed from a U.S. Airways flight in November filed a lawsuit against the passengers who reported their behavior to flight crews. Their lawsuit charges that the imams were victims of an "intentional" and "malicious" . . . "conspiracy to discriminate" and seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the airline and "John Doe" passengers - including an elderly couple who, according to legal papers, "purposely turned around to watch them" in the boarding area and then "made a cellular phone call." The John Doe legislation, called the Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act, passed in the House in April with overwhelming bipartisan support, by a vote of 304-121 - including 105 Democrats. Now, King wants to include it in the 9/11 security legislation as a stand-alone measure to assure its passage apart from the larger bill. It is up to the majority leadership, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whether they will allow the provision to be added to the bill. Reached by telephone yesterday, a senior Pelosi staffer refused several times to say whether Pelosi supports the John Doe legislation in principle. Why? What could prevent any member of Congress from supporting no-brainer, bipartisan legislation that protects Good Samaritans from frivolous lawsuits? One possible motive: According to key Democrat leaders, John Doe protection will encourage "racial profiling." Let's put this in perspective. The alleged conspiracy to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix was foiled by a Circuit City store clerk who alerted law enforcement after the suspects brought a video to the store for reformatting on DVD. An FBI spokesman called the 23-year-old tipster an "unsung hero" and acknowledged that the plot would have gone undiscovered if he hadn't stepped forward. The hero clerk later told reporters that after seeing several Middle Eastern-looking men shouting "Allah Akbar" while firing assault rifles and engaging in military-type maneuvers on the video, he discussed overnight with his family whether or not to call authorities. Lucky for us, he made the right decision.

But would he have made that call if he thought getting it wrong might require defending himself against a multimillion-dollar lawsuit? Would you? "An overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of Congress supports protecting vigilant citizens who are our first and sometimes last resource in the War on Terror," said Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), co-author of the John Doe bill. "But unfortunately they're not going to get the support of the new majority leadership in Congress." It has been nearly six years since 19 ordinary-looking men boarded four commercial airliners, killed all the pilots and then flew the planes into buildings and the ground. One of those most haunted by that day is the airline employee who checked in two of the hijackers that morning. He told the 9/11 commission that the pair, traveling on first class, oneway, e-tickets, "didn't act right." Though he selected them for secondary screening, he didn't request a more thorough search because "I was worried about being accused of being 'racist' and letting 'prejudice' get in the way." We disarm ourselves when we succumb to political correctness - which encourages us to second guess our common sense and look the other way. It is an outrage that Pelosi and Reid would allow individuals to be punished when they come forward to protect us all. Burlingame, a director of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, is the sister of Charles Burlingame 3rd, the pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Spine OREN ON BUSH
by Marty Peretz You will know Michael Oren from TNR (see here, here, here and here). His book , Six Days of War, established him as one of the leading political and military historians of our time. His more recent book, Power, Faith and Fantasy, on the American involvement and enchantment with the Middle East, proved him to be a narrative historian in the tradition of Simon Schama, Arthur Schlesinger, and Hugh Thomas. I reviewed this last book in the Wall Street Journal . He is also an American-born, Princeton-educated political strategist who lives in Jerusalem. He sure hopes for peace between Israel and its neighbors. (He has a wife and three children who live there with him). But, given his terrible habit of seeing history for what it is, he is skeptical of its prospects. Still, the Bush Doctrine for Israel and Palestine gave him some hope, largely because the president's expectations put many of the burdens of establishing peace on the Palestinians themselves. Unless the Palestinians carry these burdens, both Oren and I believe, nothing that Israel might do will ever satisfy the Arab lust for a past that never existed. We have the example of Israel leaving Gaza in the hope (actually in the confident expectation) that the Palestinians would make something--at least, something--out of a Gaza that belonged to them. Two years later, we see what they made of it. I won't use an expletive. Think of one yourself. What Gaza exports to Israel are rockets. And that's what a "liberated" West Bank will export, too, unless Palestinian attitudes and behavior change. And change fundamentally. This is something that George Bush grasps, and grasps fully. He understands it better than Bill Clinton did, and--unless I'm very much mistaken--also better than a very smart man now in the Middle Eastern trade, Tony Blair.

Oren wrote about Bush's Monday speech in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

WSJ The Bush Doctrine Lives
The president isn't selling out Israel or relaxing his call for Palestinian democracy. by Michael B. Oren JERUSALEM--Newspapers in Israel yesterday were full of stories about President Bush's call on Monday for the creation of a Palestinian state and an international peace conference. While Israeli officials were quoted expressing satisfaction with the fact that "there were no changes in Bush's policies," commentators questioned whether the Saudis would participate in such a gathering and whether Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with his single-digit approval ratings, could uproot Israeli settlers from the West Bank. But all the focus on the conference misses the point. Mr. Bush has not backtracked an inch from his revolutionary Middle East policy. Never before has any American president placed the onus of demonstrating a commitment to peace so emphatically on Palestinian shoulders. Though Mr. Bush insisted that Israel refrain from further settlement expansion and remove unauthorized outposts, the bulk of his demands were directed at the Palestinians. "The Palestinian people must decide that they want a future of decency and hope," he said, "not a future of terror and death. They must match their words denouncing terror with action to combat terror." According to Mr. Bush, the Palestinians can only achieve statehood by first stopping all attacks against Israel, freeing captured Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, and ridding the Palestinian Authority of corruption. They must also detach themselves from the invidious influence of Syria and Iran: "Nothing less is acceptable." In addition to the prerequisites stipulated for the Palestinians, Mr. Bush set unprecedented conditions for Arab participation in peace efforts. He exhorted Arab leaders to emulate "peacemakers like Anwar Sadat and King Hussein of Jordan" by ending anti-Semitic incitement in their media and dropping the fiction of Israel's non-existence. More dramatically, Mr. Bush called on those Arab governments that have yet to establish relations with Israel to recognize its right to exist and to authorize ministerial missions to the Jewish state. Accordingly, Saudi Arabia, which has offered such recognition but only in return for a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, will have to accept Israel prior to any territorial concessions. Mr. Bush also urged Arab states to wage an uncompromising battle against Islamic extremism and, in the case of Egypt and Jordan, to open their borders to Palestinian trade. If the Israeli media largely overlooked the diplomatic innovations of Mr. Bush's speech, they completely missed its dynamic territorial and demographic dimensions. The president pledged to create a "contiguous" Palestinian state--code for assuring unbroken Palestinian sovereignty over most of the West Bank and possibly designating a West Bank-Gaza corridor. On the other hand, the president committed to seek a peace agreement based on "mutually agreed borders" and "current realities," which is a euphemism for Israel's retention of West Bank settlement blocks and no return to the 1967 lines. Most momentous, however, was Mr. Bush's affirmation that "the United States will never abandon . . . the security of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people." This

means nothing less than the rejection of the Palestinians' immutable demand for the resettlement of millions of refugees and their descendents in Israel. America is now officially dedicated to upholding Israel's Jewish majority and preventing its transformation into a de facto Palestinian state. Beyond these elements, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's vision was the international conference. The Israeli press hastened to interpret this as a framework for expediting the advent of Palestinian statehood, yet it is clear that the conference is not intended to produce a state but rather to monitor the Palestinians' progress in building viable civic and democratic institutions. The goal, Mr. Bush said, will be to "help the Palestinians establish . . . a strong and lasting society" with "effective governing structures, a sound financial system, and the rule of law." Specifically, the conference will assist in reforming the Palestinian Authority, strengthening its security forces, and encouraging young Palestinians to participate in politics. Ultimate responsibility for laying these sovereign foundations, however, rests not with the international community but solely with the Palestinians themselves: "By following this path, Palestinians can reclaim their dignity and their future . . . [and] answer their people's desire to live in peace." Unfortunately, many of these pioneering components in Mr. Bush's speech were either implicitly or obliquely stated, and one might have wished for a more unequivocal message, such as that conveyed in his June 2002 speech on the Middle East. Still, there can be no underrating the sea change in America's policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict brought about by this administration. If, under U.N. Resolution 242, Israelis were expected to relinquish territory and only then receive peace, now the Arabs will have to cede many aspects of peace--nonbelligerency and recognition--well in advance of receiving territory. Similarly, Mr. Bush's commitment to maintain Israel's Jewish majority signals the total rescinding of American support for Resolution 194, which provided for refugee return. Moreover, by insisting that the Palestinians first construct durable and transparent institutions before attaining independence, Mr. Bush effectively reversed the process, set out in the 1993 Oslo Accords, whereby the Palestinians would obtain statehood immediately and only later engage in institution building. Peace-for-land, preserving the demographic status quo, and building a civil society prior to achieving statehood--these are the pillars of Mr. Bush's doctrine on peace. But will it work? Given the Palestinians' historical inability to sustain sovereign structures and their repeated (1938, 1947, 1979, 2000) rejection of offers of a state, the chances hardly seem sanguine. Much of the administration's hope for a breakthrough rests on the Palestinians' newly appointed prime minister, Salaam Fayyad, who is purportedly incorruptible. Nevertheless, one righteous man is unlikely to succeed in purging the Palestinian Authority of embezzlement and graft and uniting its multiple militias. The Saudis will probably balk at the notion of recognizing Israel before it exits the West Bank and Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees throughout the region will certainly resist any attempt to prevent them from regaining their former homes. Iran and Syria and their Hamas proxies can be counted on to undermine the process at every stage, often with violence. Yet, despite the scant likelihood of success, Mr. Bush is to be credited for delineating clear and equitable criteria for pursuing Palestinian independence and for drafting a principled blueprint for peace. This alone represents a bold response to Hamas and its backers in Damascus and

Tehran. The Palestinians have been given their diplomatic horizon and the choice between "chaos, suffering, and the endless perpetuation of grievance," and "security and a better life." So, too, the president is to be commended for not taking the easy route of railroading the Palestinians to self-governance under a regime that would almost certainly implode. Now his paramount task is to stand by the benchmarks his administration has established, and to hold both Palestinians and Israelis accountable for any failure to meet them. Mr. Oren is a fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and the author of "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present" (Norton, 2007).

The Australian Up against the warming zealots

Martin Durkin says his documentary has survived last week's roasting by the ABC

WHEN I agreed to make The Great Global Warming Swindle, I was warned a middle-class fatwa would be placed on my head. So I wasn't shocked that the film was attacked on the same night it was broadcast on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company) television last week, although I was impressed at the vehemence of the attack. I was more surprised, and delighted, by the response of the Australian public. The ABC studio assault, led by Tony Jones, was so vitriolic it appears to have backfired. We have been inundated with messages of support, and the ABC, I am told, has been flooded with complaints. I have been trying to understand why. First, the ferocity of the attack, I think, revealed the intolerance and defensiveness of the global warming camp. Why were Jones and co expending such energy and resources attacking one documentary? We are told the global warming theory is robust. They say you'd have to be off your chump to disagree. We have been assured for years, in countless news broadcasts and column inches, that it's definitely true. So why bother to stamp so aggressively on the one foolish documentary-maker - who clearly must be as mad as a snake - who steps out of line? I think viewers may also have wondered (reasonably) why the theory of global warming has not been subjected to this barrage of critical scrutiny by the media. After all, it's the theory of global warming, not my foolish little film, that is turning public and corporate policy on its head.

The apparent unwillingness of Jones and others at the ABC to give airtime to a counterargument, the tactics used to minimise the ostensible damage done by the film, the evident animosity towards those who questioned global warming: all of this served to give viewers a glimpse of what it was like for scientists who dared to disagree with the hallowed doctrine. Why are the global warmers so zealous? After a year of arguing with people about this, I am convinced that it's because global warming is first and foremost a political theory. It is an expression of a whole middle-class political world view. This view is summed up in the oftrepeated phrase "we consume too much". I have also come to the conclusion that this is code for "they consume too much". People who believe it tend also to think that exotic foreign places are being ruined because vulgar oiks can afford to go there in significant numbers, they hate plastic toys from factories and prefer wooden ones from craftsmen, and so on. All this backward-looking bigotry has found perfect expression in the idea of man-made climate disaster. It has cohered a bunch of disparate reactionary prejudices (anti-car, antisupermarkets, anti-globalisation) into a single unquestionable truth and cause. So when you have a dig at global warming, you commit a grievous breach of social etiquette. Among the chattering classes you're a leper. But why are the supporters of global warming so defensive? After all, the middle classes are usually confident, bordering on smug. As I found when I examined the basic data, they have plenty to be defensive about. Billions of dollars of public money have been thrown at global warming, yet the hypothesis is crumbling around their ears. To the utter dismay of the global warming lobby, the world does not appear to be getting warmer. According to their own figures (from the UN-linked Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the temperature has been static or slightly declining since 1998. The satellite data confirms this. This is clearly awkward. The least one should expect of global warming is that the Earth should be getting warmer. Then there's the ice-core data, the jewel in the crown of global warming theory. It shows there's a connection between carbon dioxide and temperature: see Al Gore's movie. But what Gore forgets to mention is that the connection is the wrong way around; temperature leads, CO2 follows. Then there's the precious "hockey stick". This was the famous graph that purported to show global temperature flat-lining for 1000 years, then rising during the 19th and 20th centuries. It magicked away the Medieval warm period and made the recent warming look alarming, instead of just part of the general toing and froing of the Earth's climate. But then researchers took the computer program that produced the hockey stick graph and fed it random data. Bingo, out popped hockey stick shapes every time. (See the report by Edward Wegman of George Mason University in Virginia and others.) In a humiliating climb down, the IPCC has had to drop the hockey stick from its reports, though it can still be seen in Gore's movie. And finally, there are those pesky satellites. If greenhouse gases were the cause of warming, then the rate of warming should have been greater, higher up in the Earth's atmosphere (the bit

known as the troposphere). But all the satellite and balloon data says the exact opposite. In other words, the best observational data we have flatly contradicts the whole bally idea of manmade climate change. They concede that CO2 cannot have caused the warming at the beginning of the 20th century, which was greater and steeper than the recent warming. They can't explain the cooling from 1940 to the mid-'70s. What are they left with? Some mild warming in the '80s and '90s that does not appear to have been caused by greenhouse gases. The whole damned theory is in tatters. No wonder they're defensive. The man-made global warming parade, on one level, has been a phenomenal success. There isn't a political party or important public body or large corporation that doesn't feel compelled to pay lip service. There are scientists and journalists (a surprising number) who have built careers championing the cause. There's more money going into global warming research than there is chasing a cure for cancer. Many important people and institutions have staked their reputations on it. There's a lot riding on this theory. And it has bugger-all to do with sea levels. That is why the warmers greeted my film with red glowing eyes. Last week on the ABC they closed ranks. They were not interested in a genuine debate. They wanted to shut it down. And thousands of wonderful, sane, bolshie Australian viewers saw right through it. God bless Australia. The DVD will be out soon.

Knowledge Problem Another Black Eye for Corn-based Ethanol
by Michael Giberson A surge in the demand for ethanol -- touted as a greener alternative to gasoline -- could have a serious environmental downside for the Chesapeake Bay, because more farmers growing corn could mean more pollution washing off farm fields, a new study warned yesterday. A Washington Post story on the study paints a not so pretty picture: farms growing corn tend to produce more run off of excess fertilizer, which leads to algae blooms in the Chesapeake Bay, the unnaturally large algae blooms "consume the oxygen that fish, crabs and other creatures need to breathe, creating the Chesapeake's infamous dead zones." The report and additional information is available from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the USDA's Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Program.

Village Voice Rehabilitating Barry
Baseball's new feel-good story of the summer has Allen Barra feeling burned by Allen Barra It's a sad situation when the tabloids are on higher moral ground than the mainstream press, but that's what Barry Bonds has driven us to. Watching Fox's coverage of the All-Star game in San Francisco with a smiling Bonds escorting his godfather, Willie Mays, around AT&T Park, and listening to Joe Buck chide Hank Aaron for not being in attendance while Tim McCarver

hedged on the issue of Bonds and steroids . . . Well, one yearned for the overwrought but refreshingly uncompromised headlines in the New York Post last year, when Bonds tied Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time list at 714. The Post's Sunday cover featured a series of needles arranged to form the number 714 under a headline that read "Hey, Babe: Move Over for the 'Shambino.'" The inside was just as good, with stories headlined "Say it taint so!" and "Sultan of Syringe." No doubt the Post was playing to a virulent strain of New York chauvinism last year, just as Alex Rodriguez is now being swiftly transformed by the local press from an idol with feet of clay to the coming Messiah because he is roughly 160 home runs ahead of Bonds's career pace and should be skyrocketing past him in about six or seven seasons. But that's a long time to wait—and while we do, it's good to know that not everyone is caught up in the recent wave of feel-good Barry Bonds revisionism. Such as the 92 percent of fans surveyed in a May 18 USA Today/Gallup poll who didn't think Bonds was "the greatest slugger ever" even if he surpassed Aaron. Or the 77 percent of respondents in a recent Time.com poll who said they didn't want Bonds to break Aaron's record. Or fans all over the country whose anti-Bonds banners and displays are being banned from major league ballparks. This has gotten little national attention, despite a front-page story in, of all places, the July 1 San Francisco Chronicle titled "Silencing Angry Fans." According to a letter from the Arizona Diamondbacks to one angry fan, "We have been asked by Major League Baseball to carefully screen the signs that are brought into the ballpark by our fans." The Barry Bonds controversy is the most written-about and divisive sports topic thus far in the young century. So much excess baggage has been piled onto it that a massive cleanup is required before the basic point can even be addressed. Let's toss the biggest red herring out the window right now. The issue is not whether Barry Bonds was a Hall of Famer before performance-enhancing drugs; no one says he wasn't. Rather, the issue is this: Is Barry Bonds a cheat and a liar? And an overwhelming body of evidence says yes. Let's dispense with the notion that there's no evidence that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs. According to leaked grand-jury testimony, Bonds admitted to the use of BALCO substances and claimed that he didn't know they were performance-enhancing. Right. This sort of defense can only have credence in a city where you can get off for murdering somebody because you ate too many Twinkies. Let's also dispense with the idea that whatever Bonds used didn't enhance his performance. In 1999, a 34-year-old Bonds, weighing around 200 pounds, hit .262 with 34 home runs. Then, in defiance of all known natural law, he put on about 25 pounds of rock-hard muscle and proceeded to become, over the next five years, arguably the greatest hitter in baseball history. No such late-career surge has ever been seen in baseball, or anywhere else in professional sports. All this is of little consequence, of course, if you're not a baseball fan. As John Heilemann wrote in defense of Bonds's steroid use last year (April 17) in New York magazine, "All the talk in baseball about the sacredness of its records is little more than another tactic in the long-running campaign waged by its overseers to mystify the game. To treat baseball as if it were something more hallowed than mere entertainment." In other words, there is no such thing as cheating and lying—merely entertainment. But real fans are the ones who are entertained because they believe that what happens on the field does have integrity.

Barry Bonds, on the other hand, was a pampered middle-class brat who grew up in a world of privilege and was merely jealous of the attention accorded other home-run hitters. He has polluted the historical record for all time.

Planet Ark Asian Parasite Killing Western Bees - Scientist
MADRID - A parasite common in Asian bees has spread to Europe and the Americas and is behind the mass disappearance of honeybees in many countries, says a Spanish scientist who has been studying the phenomenon for years. by Julia Hayley The culprit is a microscopic parasite called nosema ceranae said Mariano Higes, who leads a team of researchers at a government-funded apiculture centre in Guadalajara, the province east of Madrid that is the heartland of Spain's honey industry. He and his colleagues have analysed thousands of samples from stricken hives in many countries. "We started in 2000 with the hypothesis that it was pesticides, but soon ruled it out," he told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. Pesticide traces were present only in a tiny proportion of samples and bee colonies were also dying in areas many miles from cultivated land, he said. They then ruled out the varroa mite, which is easy to see and which was not present in most of the affected hives. For a long time Higes and his colleagues thought a parasite called nosema apis, common in wet weather, was killing the bees. "We saw the spores, but the symptoms were very different and it was happening in dry weather too." Then he decided to sequence the parasite's DNA and discovered it was an Asian variant, nosema ceranae. Asian honeybees are less vulnerable to it, but it can kill European bees in a matter of days in laboratory conditions. "Nosema ceranae is far more dangerous and lives in heat and cold. A hive can become infected in two months and the whole colony can collapse in six to 18 months," said Higes, whose team has published a number of papers on the subject. "We've no doubt at all it's nosema ceranae and we think 50 percent of Spanish hives are infected," he said. Spain, with 2.3 million hives, is home to a quarter of the European Union's bees. His team have also identified this parasite in bees from Austria, Slovenia and other parts of Eastern Europe and assume it has invaded from Asia over a number of years.

Now it seems to have crossed the Atlantic and is present in Canada and Argentina, he said. The Spanish researchers have not tested samples from the United States, where bees have also gone missing. Treatment for nosema ceranae is effective and cheap -- 1 euro (US$1.4) a hive twice a year -but beekeepers first have to be convinced the parasite is the problem. Another theory points a finger at mobile phone aerials, but Higes notes bees use the angle of the sun to navigate and not electromagnetic frequencies. Other elements, such as drought or misapplied treatments, may play a part in lowering bees' resistance, but Higes is convinced the Asian parasite is the chief assassin.