Friday, September 7, 2007

Testing Syria's Defenses

The Israeli foray, into Syrian airspace earlier this week has apparently mystified commentators, some of whom have speculated that it was a navigational mistake.

Probably the real reason was to test the capability of a newly-installed anti-aircraft system that the Russians have sold to both Syria and Iran. The system failed to down any of the Israeli jets which failure has no doubt embarrassed the Russians, frustrated the Syrians and caused deep concern among the Iranians who were surely hoping it would give some measure of protection against an American strike on their nuclear facilities.

DEBKAfile says:

The purported Israeli air force flights over the Pantsyr-S1E site established that the new Russian missiles, activated for the first time in the Middle East, are effective and dangerous but can be disarmed. Western military sources attribute to those Israeli or other air force planes superior electronics for jamming the Russian missile systems, but stress nonetheless that they were extremely lucky to get away unharmed, or at worst, with damage minor enough for a safe return to base.

The courage, daring and operational skills of the air crews must have been exceptional. They would have needed to spend enough time in hostile Syrian air space to execute several passes at varying altitudes under fire in order to test the Pantsyr-S1E responses. Their success demonstrated to Damascus and Tehran that their expensive new Russian anti-air system leaves them vulnerable.

There's more on this incursion at the DEBKAfile link.


Support the Mission

If you agree with the following four points you can go here to sign a petition that will be given to members of Congress this month to let them know how you feel.

  • Recognize the importance of fighting and defeating al-Qaeda, wherever they can be found, not least in Iraq;
  • Consider the testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker with an open mind and without regard for partisan politics;
  • Recognize the significant threat to U.S. national security that a hasty retreat or a made-in-Washington timetable for withdrawal from Iraq would generate; and
  • Listen to the U.S. service members who willingly sacrifice to protect our country and who do not want defeat legislated in Washington so long as American troops are on the battlefield.

It's important.


Dog Evolution

Denyse O'Leary has an interesting post at Uncommon Descent in which the diversity among dogs is explained. The variations among canines, it turns out, are not the result of an evolutionary process in which genetic information is increased, as Richard Dawkins suggested in his critique of Michael Behe's The Edge of Evolution. Rather what happens is that new varieties arise when genetic information is actually degraded.

O'Leary quotes David DeWitt:

Many of the traits for different dog breeds are examples of neoteny.

Neoteny refers to the maintaining of juvenile characteristics into adulthood. Mutations can prevent proper development and maturation. Even though particular traits might seem like they are novel, in such cases it is really a loss of information since the animal has stunted development in one trait.

This is why some breeds of dogs are so cute and look like puppies even though they are full grown (Jack Russel, Shitzu etc).

In other words the regulatory processes that shut off the juvenile characteristic and allow for maturation have been somehow disrupted, probably through some genetic mutation, so that the juvenile characteristic persists. This is not Darwinian evolution which posits an increase in genetic information. It is in fact, the opposite.

In other words, in at least one area where we have evidence of evolution, it seems to go from more complex genetic arrangements to less complex which is exactly what creationists have been claiming for decades that all evolution does.

I'll bet Dawkins wishes he hadn't brought up the subject of dog evolution.