Saturday, January 26, 2008


(Sorry for stealing your line CDR.) We have all missed the news, what with the RoP, VB and the frikkin primaries, but on January 4, 2008, Warner finally went Blu Ray.

Prof Crackaquack sez:

Blu-ray Disc (aka BD) is a high-density optical disc format for storing digital information, including high-definition video. The name Blu-ray comes from the blue/violet laser beam used to read and write this type of disc. The blue laser's shorter wavelength (405 nm) means that far more data can be stored on BD than on the ordinary DVD format, which uses a red laser with a wavelenght of 650 nm. A single-layer Blu-ray Disc can store 25 gigabytes (GB), more than five times the capacity of a single layer DVD (4.7 GB). Consequently, a dual-layer Blu-ray Disc can store 50 GB, or almost six times the capacity of a dual layer DVD (8.5 GB).

Its competitor HD DVD or High-Definition DVD was designed to be the successor to the standard DVD format and is a logic continuation of it derived from the same underlying technologies. Ironically, it's kind of a Blu Ray disc format too since all variants except the 3x DVD employ a blue laser with a shorter wavelength. It can store about 3 1/2 times as much data per layer as its predecessor (maximum 17 GB per layer instead of 4.7 GB per layer).

So then, there you know it. Warner Bros. Entertainment will be releasing its high-definition titles "exclusively in the Blu-ray disc format beginning later this year." Barry Meyer, Warner's Chairman & CEO, described the move as a "strategic decision focused on the long term and the most direct way to give consumers what they want." I don't know what Barry Meyer looks like, but the CEO of the HD DVD Promotion Group strongly reminds me of a famous socialist I read about. No wonder they used red lasers to begin with.

Hat tip Smetty's Soapbox.


Thursday, January 24, 2008


Mind you, my choice. Until further notice DowneastBlog is still Tom, Scott, Kerry and me; I can't claim the good general is also their choice. But I bet a crate of Duvel that I'm not stepping on sore toes here. Anyway, better late than never and yes, I know the Redhunter has beaten me to it. Well, TIME may nominate an unapologetic dictator of a country where critics of the regime - Litvinenko, Politkovskaya, Safronov - meet untimely ends, over at DowneastBlog a man is honoured who more than anyone else contributed to the success of the Surge, and by consequence to the political fortunes of the American Right: the commander of the Multinational Forces in Iraq (MNF-I), General David Petraeus.

David Petraeus, born in 1952, is a scion of a Dutch American family. His father, Sixtus Petraeus, was a sea captain who fled to the US when Holland was overrun in 1940 and who commanded a Liberty ship throughout the war. His mother was Holly Knowlton, from Brooklyn and the daughter of West Point's superintendent. Young Petraeus graduated from West Point in 1974 and returned there in 1981 to earn the General George C. Marshall Award as the top graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Class of 1983 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He went on to earn an MPA in 1985, and a Ph.D. in International Relations in 1987 from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Later yet he served as an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the U.S. Military Academy, so in short, he's not somebody John Kerry would like to refer to to illustrate his theories on the correlation of IQ and Service in the US Army.

Petraeus began his career with an assignment to the 509th Airborne Infantry Battalion at Vicenza, Italy. The 509th was essentially a light infantry unit and looking back now, one concludes that's the branch which has been at the core of his career throughout the years. It is therefore not surprising that in March 2003, then Major General David Petraeus commanded a "light infantry" division, the famous 101st Airborne (Screaming Eagles) in its drive through Karbala, Hilla and Najaf to Baghdad. After the fall of the latter, the division spent much of the year in Iraq's north, where its brigades were responsible for Mosul and surroundings. In Mosul, Petraeus oversaw a program of public works and political reinvigoration whereby approximately 4,500 reconstruction projects were launched, not to forget the restoration and reopening of the University of Mosul. I especially recall a story from that time detailing the prodigious efforts of soldiers of the 101st laying scores of fibre optics cables to modernize Mosuls telecom infrastructure - I still must have that story somewhere, btw. Such was the impression of the general on the Iraqis he was working with that some nicknamed him "King David" (!) From that time too dates his slogan "Money is ammunition", and together with his insistence his soldiers mingle freely and unprovocatively with the local populace, this illustrates the intelligent approach with which he kept Mosul a model of "winning hearts and minds" for a long time. As much as I regret to say it - I still hold Donald Rumsfeld in very high esteem - I fear that much of the credit Petraeus built was lost when Rummy decided to replaced the 101st's foot soldiers with fast racing Strykers. As it was however, Petraeus' experiences found their way into the U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual, which by the way he co-authored.

And late in 2006, when much of Iraq was a mess - or so it seemed - people high up in Washington and the Pentagon remembered Petraeus' successful stint in Mosul. One year ago, on January 26, 2007, he was confirmed by the Senate as Commanding Officer of MNF-I, and as such, with the rank of a Four-Star General (in Europe, we would call that a Colonel-General) he oversees the operations of all coalition forces in Iraq and the implementation of what has become known as the Surge. In practice, Petraeus deployed what he had - the troops present and the newcomers - in a totally different way. Before, US troops were garrisoned in five huge main bases, from which they regularly ventured out in high-speed motorcades. Petraeus on the other hand developed a network of joint security stations in Baghdad's neighborhoods and in al-Anbar Province, in which U.S. and Iraqi troops lived and worked together. This established a constant military presence in the streets, a heavily armed community policing that is an essential element in the Counterinsurgency Strategy as co-developed by Petraeus during his time at Fort Leavenworth. In addition, he was not too proud to not encourage and fund the Sunni tribes organizing themselves in the anti-AQ Anbar Salvation Country from fall 2006 on, even though he knew these men had quite literally just the other week assaulted his troops. This especially was a risky move, but one year on it is safe to say that it worked. Baghdad and by extension Iraq may be far from safe, but Petraeus' tenure has undoubtedly heralded an new era of relative security and prosperity. And as Iraqis see what they have to gain by cooperating, they bet in ever greater numbers on the strong horse. The battle is not won yet, but with the remnants of AQI clinging to some fringe vestiges from where they spordically carry out their hallmark grueseome killings, it is beginning to look more and more like a giant mopping-up operation.

And that is largely because of Petraeus. Despite being beset from foes in Iraq and from foes in Washington, he may not only have won Iraq. If the senator who called him "the de facto spokesmen for what many of us believe to be a failed policy" is kept out of the White House... he may have won even far more.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Charles Johnson just can't get enough of it. A recent post sheds light on JihadWatch's Robert Spencer's decision to distance himself from the Vlaams Belang, on the grounds that it "allied" itself with the BNP (British National Party). What has happened? First of all, delegations from a number of rightwing parties - most commentators dub them "extreme right", "far right" etc. - have recently convened in Antwerp, northern Belgium, to announce the formation of a new organization, "Cities against Islamization". According to The Australian:

SEVERAL European far-right parties announced a new organisation aimed at fighting the "Islamisation" of Europe. The group dubbed "Cities against Islamisation" was presented to the media in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp by Filip Dewinter, head of the far-right Belgian party Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) along with Austrian FPOE leader Heinz-Christian Strace and Robert Spieler of the regionalist Alsace First group. Parties from Britain (the British National Party), Denmark, Germany and Italy were also represented at the launch of the group which has a road-sign-style crossed-out mosque as its logo.

I must admit that, although I have been aware of the existence of the BNP for many years, I never took a close look at their programme. It is therefore with more than a frown that I came across the following membership statement, as posted on their site:

Membership of the British National Party is open to those of British or kindred European ethnic descent. While we welcome contact and co-operation with nationalists and patriots of other races, and with the many non-whites who also oppose enforced multi-racialism, we ask them to respect our right to an organisation of our own, for our own, as we respect and applaud their measures to organise themselves in like fashion.

Although further on the BNP's site strictly denies claiming to be white supremacists - and does offer some arguments to back that up - I fear that, were I a Brit, the requirement to be of white race only would withhold me from becoming a member. Luckily, I am not confronted with the same dilemma in my party, the Vlaams Belang, which is open to people of all races and yes, religions. It is therefore very regrettable, that in much the same way that Johnson took the arguments against the VB hook, line and sinker, Robert Spencer now has done the same with the info obtained from the Top Lizardoid. In my book, BNP's refusal to accept people of other races is racist in nature. There is no such refusal within the VB. So why then does Spencer write:

As I have said before, I completely disavow all racist and neo-Nazi ideas. I also disavow all race-based approaches to the jihad threat, for the reasons explained above, and will not work with the VB or the BNP. I hope other anti-jihadists will find those arguments compelling and follow suit. In the recent bitter controversy between Charles Johnson and a group of counterjihadists over the nature of the VB, it does appear quite clearly from this new alliance, if it wasn't already, that Charles was right. The VB needs to do much more, and much more clearly, if it really wishes to avoid appearing to oppose Islamization solely on racial grounds.

Do your homework Robert Spencer! During all these months, Johnson has never come up with a photo like the one below. I'm afraid it does not fit his agenda, you see.

Is this Filip Dewinter with a scary Obersturmbannfuehrer? Nope. It's Filip Dewinter with a very fine young lad, Pieter Van Boxel, of Indonesian descent but raised in a Flemish household, hence the name. He is a local chapter leader in the small community of Malle. There are others like him. There would be many more, if not the Belgian media, political parties and unions had not been unleashing a tidal wave, for thirty years now, of the most vile disinformation regarding my party. The real reasons the VB is so hated is NOT because it would be racist, but firstly, because it is unashamedly CONSERVATIVE in a political environment where even the Right - or what passes for it - is leftist to a considerable degree. Secondly, and this is especially indegistible for the Belgian establishment, because it strives for Flemish Independence (note that I am not in favor of that, but that is another question). The last reason, perhaps the most compelling one, can be summarized in the following photo:

The banner behind Mr. De Winter reads: "BUSH IS RIGHT. STOP ISLAMIC TERROR."

The photo was taken in early fall 2001, at about the time Mullah Omar fled Kabul in the back of a pickup with his djellaba sporting some suspicious smelly brown streaks. At the very same moment, Green MP Jef Tavernier gave a TV interview urging the US to immediately stop bombing the wifebeaters since "enough was enough". But I digress. Suffice to say these are the real reasons why the VB is so hated here, and unfortunately the PC crowd is succeeding to tar my party's reputation on yonder side of the Atlantic too. I suppose the VB's access to Washington channels, back in February, was more than they could bear.

But I digress. Back to the BNP. Johnson and now Spencer too make it appear as if the "Cities against Islamization" campaign is a broad strategic alliance. It is not. As a matter of fact, the BNP was not even present at the Counterjihad Conference in fall 2007 in Brussels. It is a specific action field aimed especially at some key cities suffering most from an uncontrollable influx of islamic customs and all this accompanies: sharia, a religious police, no-go zones, soft, or not so soft expulsion of indigenous people etc etc. Personally, I can live with the VB joining hands with the BNP in this particular initiative. Americans should understand this. In WWII, they allied themselves with a monstrous regime in order to defeat an even worse enemy. And in more recent times, we had the good fortune of seeing the famous photo of George W. Bush shaking hands with his new ally from the Anbar Salvation Front, Sheikh Abu al-Shattar (who was shortly thereafter murdered by AQI). One year ago, the good Sheikh orchestrated or at least supported attacks by his men on American columns. In Iraq, US troops are now allies of groups like the 1920's Revolutinary Brigades, who until recently ambushed them. I don't recall BNP guerrillas ever taking potshots at VB members. So I wonder what exactly is wrong with the VB working together with the BNP on one particular issue?

Were the VB proscribing from tomorrow on that it only accepts whites, I quit immediately. It does not. In the same manner that the US did not tar its reputation - at least not in my book - by working with the USSR to defeat Nazi Germany, I fail to see why the VB should now become political pariahs by working with the nationalist Brits. And if their programme smells racist, have you taken into consideration what may have spurred them to take such a hard stance? No? Take a look at this video then. From The Brussels Journal: This video is a disgrace:

Mr. Johnson, sitting safely on his warm ass in distant La-La Land, can possibly permit himself a Holier-Than-Thou attitude. The lads from the BNP are past that stage, I fear. I want my kids to grow up in a FREE society. If that requires the VB cooperating with the BNP, I see no problem with that. Congratulation Charles Johnson. And congratulations Robert Spencer. Nice rift you got us there. I suppose you DO know which party laughs most, don't you?


Sunday, January 20, 2008


About one month back I posted a story about the murder on Dr. Fuat Deniz, an Assyrian Christian professor living and working in Orebro, Sweden. In that post, I stated that muslims had carried out the assassination. I was wrong. The truth is more prosaic. According to the excellent Gates of Vienna, which has followed this affair closely, Mr. Deniz was the victim of an old family feud:

But now the Swedish police have arrested a suspect, and politics was apparently not involved. Instead it was, like so many murders, a family quarrel:

Murder suspect ‘was related’ to lecturer

Police in Örebro have confirmed that university lecturer Fuat Deniz was related to a 42-year-old man being held in connection with his murder.Police said that an old feud between the two family members constituted the most likely motive for the killing. “The political motive is no longer valid,” police spokesman Torbjörn Carlson told SVT. The suspect was questioned by police on Thursday evening and the investigation is said by Carlson to be progressing well. Prosecutors have applied for the suspect to be remanded in custody, with a hearing scheduled for 1pm on Friday. Deniz, 40, was stabbed in Örebro University’s sports complex on December 11th last year. He died of his injuries two days later. Police in Örebro have questioned hundreds of people in a wide-ranging investigation into the murder.

I apologize to the DowneastBlog readership for the incorrect information.