Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shadow Minister

There's something curious about the Congolese minister of foreign trade — he doesn't exist.

When the prime minister asked for two nominees for the post, UNACEF party leader Kisimba Ngoy nominated himself and "Kasongo Ilunga," apparently thinking he was bound to win against a phantom.

The plan backfired when the prime minister chose Ilunga. The enigmatic 36-year-old failed to appear at the opening of the new government, and he hasn't claimed his office. Ngoy says that the invisible bureaucrat has resigned, but the prime minister insists that he must do so in person.

That leaves Congo without a trade minister — and Kisimba helplessly offering that dubious resignation letter. "He wrote it himself," he insists. "He signed it. Could an imaginary man do that?"

More interesting oddities like this at Futility Closet.

China's Olympic Nightmare.


Failure to plan for predictable problems has turned China's coming-out party into an embarrassment.

Why you should leave comments...I'll link to you. I'm that easy.

Wahrheit is a blogger who's recently come to my attention. While his (mostly) political blog is on hiatus a the moment, it's worth taking some time to read some of his posts. After what can only be described as a cursory examination this afternoon I found tons of good stuff including this homage to Jonathan Swift. He also has a chess blog that I need to spend some time digging through. I used to play quite a bit, but my game (which was never really very strong) is embarrassing at this point. Hopefully he won't laugh at me when I'm forced to ask "how does that en passant thing work again?".

Can the UN be sued for its role in the Srebrenica massacre?

A Dutch court is currently considering whether the United Nations and the government of the Netherlands are immune from a suit brought by families of some of the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

At Sbrenica, Dutch forces, operating as UN "peacekeepers" lured Bosniacs into areas which were claimed to be safe havens, disarmed the Bosniacs, and promised that the UN peacekeepers would protect the disarmed Bosniacs. When Serbs attacked, the Dutch peacekeepers (unlike peacekeepers guarding some other safe havens) fled, leaving the Bosniacs to be murdered.

Obama Throws Another Pal Under the Bus.

Oops!... There goes another one! Wright- Pfleger- His white grandmother- Trinity Church- Muslim girls at a rally...

Now it's the Maoist hardliner's turn to be airbrushed.

In fairness he's always said he's all about change.

Big Win for Freedom: Supremes Strike Down D.C. Gun Ban.

The Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Second Amendment, and striking down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban and the ban on the use of any firearm for self-defense in the home, is solidly reasoned. Although the case leaves ample room for moderate gun control laws, the case casts doubt on the continuing validity of a variety of other gun prohibitions.

I think it's appalling that it was only a 5-4 decision. The Second Amendment has always been embarrassing for liberals who consistently seek to interpret every constitutional guarantee as broadly as possible save this one. This isn't some vague penumbra we're talking about here. The right to keep and bear arms is an express provision of the Bill of Rights.

The notion advanced by some, that the right to bear arms is conditional on service in a "well regulated militia" begs the question of why would the framers think they had to guarantee such a right in the first place.

The already enacted Constitution provided for the creation of the armed forces. Did the framers think they needed to make it clear that the army was allowed to have weapons? Of course not. It would be stupid, but that's what you essentially have to believe if you embrace the "collective right" approach. What the framers intended was that the populace be armed to protect itself, not just against criminals, indians and foreigners, but against the possibility of tyranny by by our own government. They came from a tradition that stood in defiance against the worst excesses of absolutism. They wanted to build a shining city on a hill where the state would be the servant of the people, not the reverse.

Glen Reynolds (better known as Instapundit) says it much better here.

The full text of the court's decision is here.

Spain to extend rights to apes.


It'll probably surprise the readers of this blog that I actually don't have a huge problem with this. While I've never been much of a fan of the "animals are people too" school of thought, I think that primates are scarily close to human. No animal that can communicate abstract concepts via sign language should be used for dangerous (or fatal) medical experiments or as is the case in much of the world...meat.

The genetic differences between chimpanzees and humans are minuscule. The simple truth is that they are our cousins and we have a duty to treat them as decently as possible. I have to disagree with the Spanish prohibition against using primates in the media or the circus. These don't strike me as unethical per se, though obviously there is potential for abuse there.

What is bizarre about this is that one of the major proponents of this legislation is the Australian philosopher Peter Singer. Singer is to put it charitably, an apologist for eugenics. While apes may have nothing to fear from professor Singer, humans with the misfortune of being born blind or retarded can expect to euthanized should his views become popular. It's happened before and the only thing keeping it from happening again is the willingness of decent people to stand against it. Peter Singer is not one of those people.

When conservatives argue that abortion is equivalent to infanticide, Singer to his credit concedes the point but argues that we ought to legalize infanticide too. Then there's his defense of animal/human sexual relationships. He's a scary guy.

It says a lot about American academic life that Princeton University gave this guy tenure. His book Practical Ethics is one of the most popular college philosophy texts in the United States.