30 June 2004

One brick at a time


France has blocked a U.S. bid to deploy NATO’s new strike force to safeguard Afghanistan’s elections, stoking tension between the two allies that fell out over the Iraq war, diplomats said Tuesday.

Although one wonders what it will take to just admit that France is a hostile state, not an ally, perhaps this kind of thing is the only thing that (realistically) can be done. It may simply take endless demonstrations of this kind of obstinancy to gradually convince the American citizenry that NATO and France are no longer useful entities to the USA and should be disbanded or ignored.

P.S. Wretchard has a good and longer write up on the situtation.

Posted by orbital at 2:12 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Phoning it in from Baghdad


So, did Paul Bremer deliver a farewell speech to Iraq or not? Here’s Ali at Iraq the Model:

Suddenly Mr. Bremer appeared on TV reading his last speech before he left Iraq. I approached the TV to listen carefully to the speech, as I expected it to be difficult in the midst of all that noise. To my surprise everyone stopped what they were doing and started watching as attentively as I was.

The speech was impressive and you could hear the sound of a needle if one had dropped it at that time. The most sensational moment was the end of the speech when Mr. Bremer used a famous Arab emotional poem. The poem was for a famous Arab poet who said it while leaving Baghdad. Al-Jazeera had put an interpreter who tried to translate even the Arabic poem which Mr. Bremer was telling in a fair Arabic! “Let this damned interpreter shut up. We want to hear what the man is saying” One of my colloquies shouted. The scene was very touching that the guy sitting next to me (who used to sympathize with Muqtada) said “He’s going to make me cry!”

Then he finished his speech by saying in Arabic,”A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq”! (Long live Iraq, Long live Iraq, long live Iraq).

And here’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran in the Washington Post:

When [Bremer] left Iraq on Monday after surrendering authority to an interim government, it was with a somber air of exhaustion. There was no farewell address to the Iraqi people, no celebratory airport sendoff. [emphasis added]

Ali says there was a speech; the Washington Post says there wasn’t. Who to believe? A professional journalist, with access to every information stream on the planet and supported by a massive number of editors and researchers — or Ali, watching TV at a Baghdad hospital?

My money’s on Ali.

UPDATE. Ali wins! The Washington Post loses! Lebanon’s Daily Star reports “a televised speech by former occupation administrator Paul Bremer” and the SF Chronicle’s Robert Collier mentions the former administrator’s “short speech”.

Chandrasekaran has been having some reality dysfunction troubles for a while.

Posted by orbital at 1:34 PM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

THIS JUST IN: Major news anchor acts like an arrogant jerk

[source, source]

When Brokaw asked the new Iraqi leader if he could “understand why many Americans feel that so many young men and women have died here for purposes other than protecting the United States?” Dr. Allawi responded:

“We know that this is an extension to what has happened in New York. And the war [has] been taken out to Iraq by the same terrorists. Saddam was a potential friend and partner and natural ally of terrorism.”

Plainly miffed that Dr. Allawi hadn’t accepted the U.S. media’s attempt to cover-up links between Saddam, al Qaida and 9/11, Brokaw reprimanded him as cameras rolled:

“Prime minister, I’m surprised that you would make the connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq.”

And they say that conservatives are parochail!

Posted by orbital at 12:47 PM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

All this for only $2B a year

[source, source, source]

Studies in Theology: Tradition and Morals, Grade 11, (2001) pp. 291-92 …This noble [Qur’anic] Surah [Surat Muhammad]… deals with questions of which the most important are as follows: ‘Encouraging the faithful to perform jihad in God’s cause, to behead the infidels, take them prisoner, break their power, and make their souls humble - all that in a style which contains the highest examples of urging to fight. You see that in His words: “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly. Then grant them their freedom or take a ransom from them, until war shall lay down its burdens.”’

Commentary on the Surahs of Muhammad, Al-Fath, Al-Hujurat and Qaf, Grade 11, (2002) p. 9 …When you meet them in order to fight [them], do not be seized by compassion [towards them] but strike the[ir] necks powerfully.… Striking the neck means fighting, because killing a person is often done by striking off his head. Thus, it has become an expression for killing even if the fighter strikes him elsewhere. This expression contains a harshness and emphasis that are not found in the word “kill”, because it describes killing in the ugliest manner, i.e., cutting the neck and making the organ - the head of the body - fly off [the body].

Descriptions of sections from Egyptian textbooks in state run schools. Really puts the claim that the beheadings of infidels in the Saudi Entity and Iraq are “non-Islamic” in perspective, doesn’t it?

Posted by orbital at 11:50 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

I guess when you eat snails you get used to turning over rocks and kissing what you find


French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier has urged Israel to end the isolation of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

After meeting Mr Arafat in Ramallah, Mr Barnier said the living conditions were “not dignifying” for the elected Palestinian leader.

“We consider that this situation cannot last,” Mr Barnier added.

If it cannot last then what’s the problem? You won’t be able to suck up to a murderous dictator soon enough?

Posted by orbital at 11:39 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

29 June 2004

It feels good to finally be able to be open about my politics

We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good

Hillary Clinton

Posted by orbital at 2:51 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Liberal words, foreign actions

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has addressed Nato leaders at a summit in Istanbul, urging them to send promised extra peace-keepers immediately.

You know, if America and its allies are such imperialist oppressors, why are the downtrodden asking for more of us?

Posted by orbital at 2:09 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

The gloves come off


US President George W Bush has repeated his call for Turkey to be admitted to the EU, despite being rebuked by France for interfering in Europe’s affairs.

Mr Bush told students in Istanbul the US believed that “as a European power, Turkey belongs in the European Union”.

He said EU membership for Turkey would be “a crucial advance in relations between the Muslim world and the West”.

Beyond being it being viscerally gratifying to see Chirac sputter like an old lawnmower without enough gas, note that Bush is pushing a wedge issue between the EUlite and our potential allies in the Islamic world.

Posted by orbital at 2:07 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

28 June 2004

Let's hope for some long coat-tails

[source, source]

[Former President Bill] Clinton’s Secretary of State Warren Christopher ignored personnel policy and fired a woman who had plea-bargained to a felony count — of defrauding the State Department. She sued, she won, she got her job back, and got back pay. Why? Because, the court ruled, the Secretary of State can’t fire even a convicted felon.

To add one more level of institutionalized insanity, the Secretary of State does not even have any authority over personnel decisions, except for the small percent that are considered politically-appointable. All hiring, firing, transferring, and promoting is done by a panel of senior Foreign Service Officers (FSOs).

This is almost the archetype for a self selected elite who pursue their own interests instead of those of their host government. It’s hardly surprising that the State Department is far more concerned about “getting along” with their clients than aiding the foreign policy of the USA. At this point, only Congress can clean up this mess.

Posted by orbital at 9:32 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

How dare you speak back to your betters!


French President Jacques Chirac has complained about US President Bush’s support for Turkish EU membership.

Mr Chirac said George Bush had gone too far by saying Turkey should get a date for acceptance into the EU.


Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, Mr Chirac said this was none of Mr Bush’s business.

“Not only did he go too far, he ventured into territory which is not his concern,” he said.

Yes, Chirac would never tell the USA how to conduct it’s foreign relationships, like, say telling the USA how to run the occupation of Iraq, which France decided to not be involved with.

Posted by orbital at 3:38 PM | View 3 Comments | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

If they fixed it, how would I posture properly?


At a Milwaukee area high school, the school newspaper turned down a military recruitment ad on grounds it violated the ad policy, which bans businesses and organizations “deemed destructive to the social, economic and environmental health of the earth and all of its inhabitants.”

[the editor of the paper] also says the military is “both classist and racist in its approach.”

“I realize this is sort of absurd coming from a privileged, white male, but the recruitment sort of targets those with fewer opportunities,” Firer says.

So of course, the proper response is to prevent the military from fixing the problem by targeting those with more options, such as the students of this school in a wealthy neighborhood. Here we see the credo of the modern Left - “it’s all about my moral posturing”.

Posted by orbital at 8:14 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

27 June 2004

Yeah, we didn't like them much either


Palestinian mourners vowed to avenge Israel

Look, guys, there’s no need to avenge a successful raid.

Posted by orbital at 3:31 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

What was the lesson again?


Members of Seoul’s small Muslim community filed past rows of riot police to attend prayers Friday amid bomb threats and an angry backlash over the beheading of a South Korean hostage in Iraq.

Yeah, I remember how the riot police were required in the xenophobic USA after the 11 Sep attacks, the protective custody for Muslims and burned mosques… If only we could learn from other, more tolerant nations.

Posted by orbital at 3:27 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Why choose between "stupid" and "gullible"?


Sitting with his family in the shade, Qassim didn’t say much but occasionally rested his head on his mother’s shoulder. “It hurts,” he whispered.

His mother, wounded by shrapnel in her left leg, held Abdullah on her lap. Stripped down to his underwear in the 120-degree heat, the baby had small shrapnel wounds on his left thigh.

Qassim’s father, Talmasan, a 39-year-old police lieutenant colonel, blamed U.S. troops for the attack on his family.

“I asked the Iraqi civil defense soldier whether it was safe to drive past the Americans, and he said ‘yes.’ A few seconds later we were fired on,” he said, standing next to his car. The front passenger window was shattered and the door pockmarked by gunfire.

“You know how they (the Americans) are, they just shoot at anyone,” said Talmasan Qassim, who had been trying to get his family to a safer area when they were shot at. [emphasis added]

Since when do you get shrapnel wounds from gunfire? Is this the reporter being stupid or being set up? Or both? The deeper problem is that reporting from Iraq is so bad that there’s no way to tell.

Posted by orbital at 3:25 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Is it too late for the stupidity defense?


The New York Times, less than a week after demanding apologies from George Bush and Dick Cheney for supposedly misleading Americans on ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, publishes a report detailing even more ties and evidence of collaboration between Saddam and bin Laden (via Power Line):

Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990’s were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq.

This is an interesting tidbit, but it’s not really different from the Plame affair. Big Media is about processing and using other people’s information, not their own.

Posted by orbital at 3:21 PM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

But they prooooommmmised!

[source, source]

Iran made good on recent threats yesterday and announced that it will resume building equipment essential for a nuclear weapons program, despite its agreement with three major European powers.

The decision does not violate international treaties that allow Tehran to make centrifuge parts for peaceful nuclear energy. But the move does break an agreement Iran signed with France, Britain and Germany, in which it promised to suspend nuclear efforts as a goodwill gesture toward earning trade incentives with the European Union.

European officials and arms-control specialists called Iran’s move a major setback and a reflection of the difficulties faced by those working to check Iran’s nuclear ambitions as evidence mounts that the country is concealing information from international inspectors.

Hands up every one who was surprised by this, except for the EUlite and their sycophants.

Posted by orbital at 1:17 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

They just read my advice column

[source, source]

Arafat issued the call at a lighting ceremony for a symbolic Olympic torch at his headquarters in Ramallah.

“On the occasion of lighting the Palestinian Olympic torch, I declare our respect and commitment for an Olympic Truce, which I signed in my besieged office,” Arafat said.

“We hope that the revival of the ancient and noble Greek tradition will help in creating a world that enjoys peace, justice and security for the coming generations,” he said.

A senior Israeli official dismissed Arafat’s offer, accusing the Palestinian leader of being behind the killings of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

“Arafat’s Olympic torch is a torch of death. There is a big difference between what Arafat says and what he does,” the official said.

But wait — if Arafat can issue this truce, doesn’t that mean that the terrorists are under his control?

Posted by orbital at 11:28 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

THIS JUST IN: Vehicles get damaged in combat


In what was probably the most psychologically revealing moment of the battle [in Najaf], [American] infantrymen fought six hours for the possession of one damaged Humvee, of no tactical value, simply so that the network news would not have the satisfaction of displaying the piece of junk in the hands of Sadr’s men. The enemy understood the rules of engagement too well, but from the other side.

This is what our media has come to - forcing our military to risk lives in order to avoid bad visuals on the evening news. Not to win, not to perserve, but just to keep American reporters from smearing our efforts in Iraq by hyping a trivial loss of equipment.

I’m trying to not descend to their level by using intemperate language, but I’m sure thinking it.

Posted by orbital at 10:21 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

26 June 2004

Sorry, needed to test some launch vehicles

Sorry about the lack of posts, but She Who Is Perfect In All Ways let me take some time out to play with Green Rage 2 / G35 and PML IO / F23 but best of all Retro Rocket Works Spitfire (all wood) / G40! See ya next week…

Posted by orbital at 10:31 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

25 June 2004

We know what you mean, even if you don't

[source, source]

Iraq’s deputy prime minister implored the American press to provide more balanced coverage of operations in Iraq.

Barham Salih, a prominent leader from Kurdish northern Iraq, made his plea June 19 to American reporters traveling in Iraq with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

“I hope you from the American press will be able to tell people back home … that (through) this mission you are giving an entire nation an opportunity to be rid of their challenges,” he said.

“These soldiers are helping renovate schools and so on, and very, very little of that is reported,” Salih continued. “We have to be grateful to those young men and women who have come from afar, sacrificing their lives to defend our security and our freedom.”

I’m sure this will be reported widely as soon as Big Media decides whether he really meant “Stop President Bush from killing us!” or “Help, help, they’re stealing the oil!”.

Posted by orbital at 1:45 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Looking for my keys under the light


The eight British sailors arrested by Iran have been paraded on television and forced to make public confessions. It just occurred to me that these are both violations of the Geneva Convention, which I believe applies in this case because the British sailors were in uniform, etc.

So why have I not heard any screams of outrage from the Usual Suspects? There are, after all, interest groups out there so enamored of the Convention that they want it followed in cases (illegal combatants, nonstate actors, etc.) where its provisions clearly do not apply. You would think they would be double-extra hot to have it followed where its provisions do apply, but apparently not. I guess we can file their complaints under Outrage, Manufactured Selective Partisan, Discount and Dispose of Soonest.

The usual suspects are just concentrating their efforts on where it will do them the most psychological good.

Posted by orbital at 10:43 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

They don't use rusty blades during decapitations, it's only fair to be polite in return

[source, source]

Israeli-made bullets bought by the U.S. Army to plug a shortfall should be used for training only, not to fight Muslim guerrillas in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. lawmakers told Army generals on Thursday.

Since the Army has other stockpiled ammunition, “by no means, under any circumstances should a round (from Israel) be utilized,” said Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, the top Democrat on a House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee with jurisdiction over land forces.


The Israeli firm was one of only two worldwide that could meet U.S. technical specifications and delivery needs, said Brig. Gen. Paul Izzo, the Army’s program executive officer for ammunition.


“There’s a sensitivity that I think all of us recognize,” [Representative Curt] Weldon [R-PA] told the Army witnesses

Well, I certainly recognize it, appeasenik, just like I recognize cat food after it’s been partially digested and then sprayed across my floor by one of the feline parasites in my house. And frankly, the processed cat food looks and smells better. But what I want to know is, can’t we cross ship the ammo through India in order to maximize its psychological effectiveness?

Posted by orbital at 10:39 AM | View 1 Comments | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

24 June 2004

More SpaceshipOne pictures

There are some additional photographs of Spaceship One on the day of the flight here and here. These were taken by one of the avionics software guys, so he had a front row seat.

Posted by orbital at 3:05 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Hey, don't try to impose your reality on me!


In an HonestReporting communique earlier this week, we noted that Palestinian PM Ahmad Qurei openly admitted to Fatah’s bearing full responsiblity’ for the actions of the terrorist Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade.

We called on the media to acknowledge this bond with Fatah in ongoing coverage of the Al Aqsa Brigades. Yet AFP, for one, has not heeded the call. From an AFP report on Tuesday:

The gunman was named as Khaled as-Shimbari, 21, a member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group loosely linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah party.

Still calling them ‘loosely linked’?! After Qurei’s statement, this is a blatant misrepresentation of reality.

Silly boy! What do you think is more important, the framing of the story or mere facts?

Posted by orbital at 2:35 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

A gag for the gander is a gag for the goose

[source, source]

Michael Moore may be prevented from advertising his controversial new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” on television or radio after July 30 if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today accepts the legal advice of its general counsel.

At the same time, a Republican-allied 527 soft-money group is preparing to file a complaint against Moore’s film with the FEC for violating campaign-finance law.

In a draft advisory opinion placed on the FEC’s agenda for today’s meeting, the agency’s general counsel states that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

The opinion is generated under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which prohibits corporate-funded ads that identify a federal candidate before a primary or general election.

Even if this doesn’t go anywhere, it is the best approach for removing this travesty of a law from the books - force its silencing effects on its supporters.

Posted by orbital at 12:09 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

It's just not interesting when it's done on the Left


Don Wycliff writing about Bill Clinton in 1999:

I suspect it would be hard to find an extended black family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner in the United States that conforms perfectly to the common ideal: Every child conceived in wedlock; no single mothers; no “love children”; every husband perfectly faithful to his wife and vice versa. (I suspect it would be hard to find such a family of any ethnicity…

So when it developed that Clinton had strayed from his marriage vows, I suspect it was neither surprising to most African-Americans nor disillusioning. After all, it happens. Remember, the life of the Savior of us all began in just such a dubious, difficult circumstance.

Commonweal, Feb. 26, 1999

Ombudsman Don Wycliff writing about an allegation, from a bitter divorce four years ago, that sixteen years ago Senatorial candidate Jack Ryan unsuccessfully asked his wife to have sex with him in a club while another couple watched:

I think the Ryan story belonged in the newspaper. I think it belonged on Page 1.

Chicago Tribune, June 24, 2004

I wonder how much cursing goes on in newsrooms these days because it’s so easy to find damning quote pairs like this?

Posted by orbital at 11:59 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Hey, we make the rules!


The European Commission is planning to alter the rules which governs budget deficits in its member states.

Announcing a review of the Stability and Growth Pact, economic affairs commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the Commission had been “too stringent”.

The pact is meant to keep the deficits of eurozone states below 3% of GDP, but many - most notably France and Germany - have breached it.

Well clearly, if it’s wrong for France and Germany to break the rules they agreed to, the correct resolution is to change the rules until those countries are in conformance.

Posted by orbital at 8:22 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

23 June 2004

Always some evil plot from the VRWC

[source, source, source]

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A rise in U.S. urban minority homeownership has been accompanied by an even greater surge in the number of people straining to pay for their homes, the Fannie Mae Foundation said on Wednesday.

“Hundreds of thousands of urban minorities are struggling to sustain homeownership,” the study said.

The scales have fallen from my eyes. I used to think that rising home ownership was a mark of economic success, but now I see that it was all a VRWC plot all along. Thank you Big Media!

Posted by orbital at 8:03 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

It's good to see young people get involved


Ah, the story of a boy and his posters that’s sure to warm the heart of even a curmudgeon like me. Reminds me of my days of running an underground newspaper in high school.

Posted by orbital at 11:52 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

What we're fighting for (2)

[source, source]

On the evening of May 30, 2004, Jassim and his fellow members of 4th Platoon, India Company, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) were jointly patrolling the streets of Al Karmah, near Fallujah, with leathernecks from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. All at once, the patrol was ambushed from the rear by enemy insurgents. A U.S. Marine was instantly struck down with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Reacting as they had been trained to do by their U.S. counterparts, the Iraqis swung into action.

Jassim, who was standing closest to the Marine when the latter was hit, immediately returned fire.

Sergeant Abdullah Sadoon Isa, Corporal Eiub Muhamad Hussane, and Private Ahmad Lazim Garib raced toward-and-beyond the downed American. Constantly under fire and simultaneously returning fire, Sgt. Isa quickly positioned other members of his platoon between the wounded man and the enemy.

Jassim and another private, Kather Nazar Abbas, stopped shooting long enough to begin dragging the American to a position of relative safety. Bullets and at least one rocket-propelled grenade zinged past their heads as they managed to pull the Marine behind a wall. A U.S. Navy medical corpsman rushed forward to render first aid. The Iraqis and the Americans continued battling the enemy force.

The response to the ambush was textbook. “The ICDC ultimately assaulted through the enemy’s position and pushed them out,” said 2nd Lt. Charles Anklin III, of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines.

These are the seeds of the future Iraq that our troops have given so much for.

Posted by orbital at 7:58 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

It's a workplace - you have no rights!

[source, source]

Free-speech groups want the California Supreme Court to overturn an appellate ruling that allowed a writers’ assistant for the TV comedy “Friends” to pursue a sexual harassment claim because of bawdy banter between the show’s writers.

The appeals court said a plaintiff in a sexual harassment case “does not need to be a direct victim” and can pursue a sexual harassment claim exclusively on the basis of hearing speech at work that is sexual in nature.


Amaani Lyle, the plaintiff, said she was subjected to harassment in 1999 by the frequent sexual banter of the writers while they discussed ideas and developed story lines for the show.

Miss Lyle, a writers’ assistant who was terminated after four months, said both male and female writers made “sexually offensive comments and jokes during writers’ meetings.”

Miss Lyle said she was not the target of any of the comments, but that the remarks were derogatory to women in general, and therefore created a “hostile environment” for her work. [emphasis added]

Imagine that! Offensive comments and conversations among the writers for Friends! The appellate court apparently believes that writers discussing the script for a show laden with sexually suggestive dialog shouldn’t actually have any themselves. Perhaps this is simply a back door to de factor prohibiting racy TV shows.

Posted by orbital at 7:51 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

What we're fighting for

[source, source]

Here’s a story from David Zadel [Lieutenant in the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division]:


My platoon and I were on a security patrol in the countryside on the outskirts of the town when one of our vehicles became stuck on a narrow road bordered by a canal. It was in danger of rolling into the water. We had to stop our vehicles which can be very dangerous.


Our vehicle was badly stuck and we needed chains to remove it. At this point, the surrounding families joined us and showed us tremendous hospitality. This is remarkable because often times, local terrorists will sometimes intimidate those who help us or show us kindness.

Without prompting the men brought out shovels and began to dig out the wheels of our vehicle that were stuck. With much effort, working together, we succeeded in removing our vehicle from danger.

Far too inspiring to be reported in the USA by our media.

Posted by orbital at 7:40 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

22 June 2004

See, it's that competition thing


The French and German Governments do more harm than good when they intervene to protect their own companies, the European Commission has warned.


France has saved engineering giant Alstom, while Germany has moved to shield Volkswagen from takeover.

“You don’t help industry by protecting it,” [ Internal Market Commissioner] Mr Bolkestein warned.

“This interventionist policy has been tried before and failed.”

Yes, and so they created the European Union to try it again.

Posted by orbital at 7:20 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Somehow, "credible" does not come to mind


The architect of the Clinton administration’s policy towards North Korea has told the BBC the current US approach to Pyongyang is going nowhere.

Ambassador Robert Gallucci stressed the growing danger that North Korea might sell nuclear materials or even a bomb to a terrorist group.

Would that be from the nuclear technology North Korea built while protected by the cover the the Clinton administrations policy?

Posted by orbital at 7:18 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Iran sees how far the UK will bend over

[source, source]

Eight British sailors seized in Iranian waters appeared in blindfolds on Tuesday on Iranian television which said Tehran would prosecute the group, as the border incident escalated into a serious diplomatic spat.

Since the UK didn’t make any threatening noises at the seizure, the mullahocracy is going to have a trial. I’m sure the point of this is to see just how far they can go before the UK actually gets serious.

Posted by orbital at 10:22 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

21 June 2004

THIS JUST IN: USA to blame for human rights problems in Arabia


The organisation [Amnesty Internationl] says Gulf states, along with the US, show a “disturbing disregard for the rule of law and fundamental human rights standards”.

It says a region whose rights record had been improving was now using the war as a cover for repression.

Yeah, hardly any of that went on before the invasion of Iraq. The gentle and kind Ba’athists who cared for the poor and down trodden of Iraq until they were swept away by the bloodthirsty mercenaries of the Coalition.

Posted by orbital at 8:05 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

E-rate, F-grade


The United States Congress has opened hearings into a multi-billion pound scheme to hook poor school districts up to the internet, which is at the centre of allegations of rampant fraud and waste.

Government audits and media investigations have turned up scores of troubling cases in the “E-rate” programme, which is funded with £1.35 billion in annual levies from telephone users. Forty-two criminal investigations are now under way. [emphasis added]


One case to be examined was in El Paso, Texas, where IBM received £18.9 million to build a fibre-optic network powerful enough to serve a small city.

When school staff were overwhelmed by the system’s complexity, IBM charged an extra £14.5 million to build a maintenance support centre.

When a bid for an extra £24.9 million in running costs was rejected by federal regulators, the support centre was dismantled after only nine months in operation.

Auditors are also investigating why officials bought a £540,000 network server suitable for a multinational corporation for the Endeavour elementary school in Cocoa, Florida, with only 650 pupils.

Because it was someone else’s money. The real idiots are the people who thought this would turn out differently than it has.

Posted by orbital at 8:02 PM | View 1 Comments | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

NASA sees which way the rocket is flying


Within hours of the first private flight to outer space on Monday, a NASA (news - web sites) official said the agency might offer millions of dollars in prizes to encourage commercial missions to orbit the Earth or land on the moon.

Michael Lembeck of NASA’s office of exploration systems said such prizes would go to private explorers for such landmarks as “the first soft landing on the moon, or for returning a piece of an asteroid to Earth.”

“What we’re looking for is innovation like what Burt Rutan brought to the table today,” Lembeck said, referring to the legendary aerospace pioneer who designed the rocket plane SpaceShipOne that entered outer space 62 miles above the Mojave Desert in California.

Lembeck said NASA would consider offering $10 million to $30 million in prizes to encourage private investors to develop space vehicles. There was even discussion of offering “a couple hundred million dollars for the first private orbital flight,” he said in a telephone interview.

Given NASA’s past history with private space flight, this is like the UN declaring that the Coalition was right in Iraq. I have to give NASA some praise for getting on the band wagon instead of declaring the wheels are falling off.

Posted by orbital at 4:55 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Very Dowdful

The ultimate Maureen Dowd skewering. A copy of her most recent column, annotated with hyperlinks to make her points more clear.

Posted by orbital at 11:49 AM | View 1 Comments | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Arab street takes a hike

[source, source]

A day after a U.S. air strike destroyed six homes in this flash- point city, a senior Iraqi official said Sunday that 23 of 26 people killed in the attack were foreign terrorists, including men from Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.


On Sunday, there were no serious mortar attacks against U.S. forces, no fiery sermons at the mosques, no marches in the street. Instead, Fallujah, a battered city that just weeks ago was the scene of some of the most intense urban combat in Iraq since the occupation began, was functioning normally, with police officers at checkpoints, traffic flowing smoothly and boys selling roasted cashews on the sidewalk.

Looks like every one’s learned a lesson from the siege except western journalists.

Posted by orbital at 11:30 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Privateering - Spaceship One flies to space

Spaceship One flight this morning was good. Whether it made it to space is still to be verified. Reports from webloggers on site indicate success. However, headline writers still desperately need the “No Reporters Left Behind” initiative:

Rocket plane reaches Earth’s atmosphere in private space flight

All the way to the atmosphere! Does that mean they rolled it out on the tarmac?

Posted by orbital at 10:02 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

20 June 2004

Now they have two problems

[source, source]

The BBC decided that it had a problem with balance in its coverage of the Middle East. The solution was to hire someone

to advise on balance in Middle East coverage, and head “media training projects,” i.e. to train BBC (and perhaps other journalists) into “understanding the Middle East better.”

What neutral, respected person did the BBC hire for this important, sensitive job? Why Ibrahim Helal, editor in chief of al Jazeera TV network.

Posted by orbital at 1:35 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

19 June 2004

Kerry writes off Florida in exchange for the pro-Castro vote

[source, source]

Sometimes in the unscripted moments of a campaign, when the handlers are away, a candidate shows his true nature. Earlier this month, Andres Oppenheimer of The Miami Herald asked John Kerry what he thought of something called the Varela Project. Kerry said it was “counterproductive.” It’s necessary to try other approaches, he added.

The Varela Project happens to be one of the most inspiring democracy movements in the world today. It is being led by a Cuban dissident named Oswaldo Payá, who has spent his life trying to topple Castro’s regime. Payá realized early on that the dictatorship would never be overthrown by a direct Bay of Pigs-style military assault, but it could be undermined by a peaceful grass-roots movement of Christian democrats, modeling themselves on Martin Luther King Jr.


Then came Castro’s crackdown. Though it didn’t dare touch Payá, the regime arrested 75 other dissidents and sentenced each of them to up to 28 years in jail. This week Payá issued a desperate call for international attention and solidarity because the hunt for dissidents continues.

John Kerry’s view? As he told Oppenheimer, the Varela Project “has gotten a lot of people in trouble . . . and it brought down the hammer in a way that I think wound up being counterproductive.”

Clearly Kerry knows who his friends are.

Posted by orbital at 7:07 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Oooh, that's gotta hurt

Tell me again why I should believe or care about the memoirs of a man who, whenever he appeared in court during that time, could only respond, “I can’t recall”.

Raoul Ortega

Maybe former President Clinton asked other people what it was he did during those years.

Posted by orbital at 5:55 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

18 June 2004

EUlite put a fork in Europe


A deal has been reached on the first constitution for the European Union after hours of talks at the EU summit.

The final text of the constitution was put to leaders of the 25 EU states, who approved it a short time ago.

I understand why Old Europe embraced this suicide pact, but why did the newly free nations of Eastern Europe do so?

Posted by orbital at 5:38 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

How not to pick a headline

Here’s a classic poorly worded headline from Real Player for the Rather/Clinton interview:

Clinton on Monica

I guess it summarizes the whole thing well.

P.S. Let me say that I hate Real Player. The technology’s a bit flaky and it is so annoyingly in my face. I don’t want the premium service, I don’t want it to check for whatever stupid things it’s always checking. If it weren’t a required corporate standard it would be in the bit bucket faster than Clinton’s pants hit the floor when he “consulted” with Monica.

Posted by orbital at 9:58 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Ignore them, what do they know?

[source, source]

A 9/11 commission staff report is being cited to argue that the administration was wrong about there being suspicious ties and contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda. In fact, just the opposite is true. The staff report documents such links.

The staff report concludes that:

  • Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden “explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan.”
  • “A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting bin Laden in 1994.”
  • “Contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan.”

Chairman Thomas Kean has confirmed: “There were contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda, a number of them, some of them a little shadowy. They were definitely there.”

Following news stories, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton said he did not understand the media flap over this issue and that the commission does not disagree with the administration’s assertion that there were connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s government.

Yet even intelligent observers are labeling this as “no Iraq/Al Qaeda” connection. It’s especially amusing to read arguments that support that contention via the authority of the Commision when the Chairman and Vice Chairman are confirming those links.

Posted by orbital at 9:01 AM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

We don't care that we don't care

Here’s a headline for you:

Climate Change Experts Despair Over U.S. Attitude

Note that these are not experts on climate but on climate change. A bit of pre-ordination, but at least they’re open about it. Bummer about that obstinate American attitude, though.

Posted by orbital at 8:52 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Putin confirms Ba'ath regime didn't like USA


Russia warned the United States on several occasions that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein planned “terrorist attacks” on its soil, President Vladimir Putin said today.

“After the events of September 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services several times received such information and passed it on to their American colleagues,” he told reporters.

Mr Putin said Russian intelligence services had many times received information that Saddam’s special forces were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States “and beyond its borders on American military and civilian targets.”

“This information was conveyed to our American colleagues,” he said.

He added that Russian intelligence had no proof that Saddam agents had been involved in any particular attack.

Oh right. Everyone knows that Putin is another Cheney run sock puppet, used primarily for testing out repression techniques in the Russian laboratory before imposing them on the unspecting USA. Of course he’d say this kind of thing. Wake up people!

Posted by orbital at 7:14 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

17 June 2004

Uh, wasn't that part of his job?


A US army officer has been charged over the murder of an Iraqi follower of Shiite Muslim radical cleric Moqtada Sadr, the US military said Thursday.


“The charge stems from a May 21 incident which took place near Kufa. Soldiers conducted a high-speed chase with a vehicle that they believed to be carrying suspected members of Moqtada Sadr’s militia,” it said.

“During their pursuit, soldiers fired at the vehicle, wounding the driver and passenger. Shortly afterward, the driver was shot and killed at close range.”

The military was referring to an incident in which Sadr aide Mohammed al-Tabtabai was arrested by US troops as he headed back from Kufa to its twin city of Najaf, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Baghdad.

It’s not a full court martial yet, just an article 32 investigation. Unless there’s a lot more than is in this story, I’d suggest a medal instead of an investigation. Any follower of Sadr is an illegal combatant who, as far as I’m concerned, can be freely gunned down like the scum he is.

Posted by orbital at 8:24 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Taxes + fads = boom for con men


WASHINGTON — U.S. House members are promising to investigate an embattled government program intended to bring telephone and Internet access to schools and libraries in poor areas.

Members of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations heard testimony Thursday about alleged mismanagement of the E-Rate program in Puerto Rico. The nationwide program has a $2.25 billion annual budget funded by telecommunications carriers through the federal Universal Service Fund. In February, subcommittee staffers found $23 million worth of networking equipment intended to go to Puerto Rico schools sitting in a warehouse, reportedly not moved out of the warehouse for about four years.

The Puerto Rico problems are a fraction of the “waste and abuse” found during a year-and-a-half subcommittee investigation into the E-Rate program, said subcommittee chairman Jim Greenwood, a Pennsylvania Republican.

In late May, NEC-Business Network Solutions pleaded guilty to defrauding the E-Rate program and agreed to pay $20.6 million in fines and restitution.

Earlier this year, SBC Communications agreed to return $8.8 million to the Federal Communications Commission after equipment was not installed in Chicago schools. The Department of Justice has investigated E-Rate fraud in New York City and Milwaukee, and recent newspaper reports have alleged abuse in several other cities.

Gosh, a fadish government program thrown at the schools with little oversight, planning or even goals, and there is fraud and waste? I’m shocked, shocked to hear that.

Shut it down.

Posted by orbital at 8:21 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL


[source, source]

The Muslim Student Union (MSU) of University of California-Irvine has asked graduating Muslim students to wear green sashes bearing the word “shahada,” the Arabic word for “martyrdom.” The Muslim world refers to a suicide bomber who kills innocent civilians in Israel as a “shahid.” Pilots and their cohorts who fly airplanes into skyscrapers are also celebrated for their “martyrdom.” Children in Palestinian schools are taught, “blessed with shahada and honour, his soul returns to its Creator to live a different life, content with the rewards and honour bestowed upon it, a life of grace thanks to Allah.”

[… ]

It is hard to believe that the UC-Irvine would silently endorse this culture of death at its graduation ceremony, yet to date, not a single member of its administration has spoken against the MSU’s promotion of the suicide sashes. The proposed sashes don’t just represent Palestinian “freedom fighters” and their crusade against Israel. They also glorify the actions of those 15 “martyrs” who brought the World Trade Center to the ground on top of American citizens. And this institution of higher learning has chosen to support pro-terrorist advocacy while this country is at war with terrorism (or rather, vice-versa).

What’s so hard to believe? It’s California.

Posted by orbital at 4:53 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

One crack in the dam?


Last month, an attack on contractors at the Saudi oil facility in Yanbu killed six Westerners, two of them Americans. Senior Saudi officials told the world al-Qaida terrorists were to blame and al-Qaida claimed responsibility.

But tape obtained by NBC News reveals that, inside Saudi Arabia, on Saudi television, Crown Prince Abdullah told a strikingly different story about who was to blame.

NBC News translated Abdullah’s remarks from Arabic: “Zionism is behind it. It has become clear now. It has become clear to us. I don’t say, I mean… It is not 100 percent, but 95 percent that the Zionist hands are behind what happened.”

I’ll echo Backspin with kudos for NBC actually publishing a story about the double dealing of the Saudi Entity.

Posted by orbital at 12:52 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

We're from the government and we're here to help

[source, source]

Naperville has a unique law that allows police to ticket underage people for drinking even when they’re not drinking. All a person under 21 has to do to get a ticket is to be in the same area as an underage drinker.

In the last six months, Julie Beata, 19, said she has received two citations from Naperville police for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Both times, said the North Central College freshman, she was picking up underage friends who had had a few drinks at a party.

The law is being criticized for encouraging underage people to drink when around other underage drinkers since non-drinkers receive the same punishment as those who are actually drinking. It is also seen as encouraging drinking and driving as it discourages non-drinkers from picking up their friends that imbibe and reduces the number of sober drivers at a gathering.


Naperville has made the punishment for being the designated driver a $75 minimum fine, court appearance, suspension from extracurricular activities and your name in the paper as an alcohol related offender. And this is being done to help the underage drinking situation?

Francis Cuneo Jr., Naperville city prosecutor, said the community has an obligation to keep young people out of the company of those who commit crime.

Better to have the drunken kids driving on the road than to permit non-drinkers to associate with their ilk, apparently.

Posted by orbital at 10:32 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

But if we reported that, we'd lose credibility!

[source, source]

On June 9, Demetrius Perricos announced that before, during and after the war in Iraq, Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction and medium-range ballistic missiles to countries in Europe and the Middle East. Entire factories were dismantled and shipped as scrap metal to Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey, among others, at the rate of about 1,000 tons of metal a month. As an example of speed by which these facilities were dismantled, Perricos displayed two photographs of a ballistic missile site near Baghdad, one taken in May 2003 with an active facility, the other in February 2004 that showed it had simply disappeared.

What passed for scrap metal and has since been discovered as otherwise is amazing. Inspectors have found Iraqi SA-2 surface-to-air missiles in Rotterdam — complete with U.N. inspection tags — and 20 SA-2 engines in Jordan, along with components for solid-fuel for missiles. Short-range Al Samoud surface-to-surface missiles were shipped abroad by agents of the regime. That missing ballistic missile site contained missile components, a reactor vessel and fermenters — the latter used for the production of chemical and biological warheads.

“The problem for us is that we don’t know what may have passed through these yards and other yards elsewhere,” Ewen Buchanan, Perricos’s spokesman, said. “We can’t really assess the significance and don’t know the full extent of activity that could be going on there or with others of Iraq’s neighbors.”

Perricos isn’t an American shill defending the Bush administration, but rather the acting executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and his report was made to the Security Council.

Just try to find American coverage of this strong evidence for pre-invasion claims of WMD programs.

Posted by orbital at 8:49 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

16 June 2004

First, do no harm


WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US government’s main consumer protection agency said it was not ready to launch a “do not e-mail registry” to curb spam, saying it could not be effectively enforced.

The Federal Trade Commission said in a report to Congress that such a plan — based on the “do not call” telephone registry — would fail to reduce the amount of unwanted e-mails and might even increase the amount of spam.

The agency said such a registry cannot work because there is no effective system for “authentication,” or verification of the origin of an e-mail message.

The FTC said anti-spam efforts should focus on creating a system that would prevent spammers from hiding their tracks and evading Internet service providers’ anti-spam filters and law enforcement.

“Without authentication, a registry will, at best, have no impact on spam and, at worst, result in more spam,” the report said.

I can’t believe it. A government agency with clue.

Posted by orbital at 11:36 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

With a whimper


Radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr has told his militia to leave the southern city of Najaf, the scene of frequent clashes with US-led forces in the past.

Mr Sadr issued a statement calling on his men who are not from Najaf to “do their duty” and go home.


However violence flared up again in Najaf last week.

At least six Iraqis died in clashes between the Mehdi Army and Iraqi police.

This kind of withering is probably optimal for our purposes, as it gives the Iraqis plenty of time to get sick of a loser who won’t quite. It’s also very significant that the Mehdi Army is now clashing with Iraqi police. Once Coalition forces are out of the way, it’s really downhill for the insurgents.

Posted by orbital at 11:29 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Nobody watches these watchers!

[source, source]

NEW YORK (AP) — Reporters at three news organizations are resisting subpoenas issued in the trial of a lawyer charged with conspiring to support terrorists.

Prosecutors issued subpoenas to four reporters at Reuters, The New York Times and Newsday, saying they want the reporters to testify that lawyer Lynne Stewart said what they quoted her as saying in their articles. […]

Lawyers for the reporters have argued that making the reporters testify would compromise their neutrality by forcing them to side with prosecutors.

Beyond the obvious farce of the reporters refusing to legally testify that they don’t make up quotes, one wonders just why verifying that their reporting is accurate is siding with the prosecution? Doesn’t that imply guilt on the part of the defendants?

Posted by orbital at 10:32 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

15 June 2004

It's not covering the economy, stupid!

[source, source]

New York - June 14, 2004. Coverage of the state of the economy, education, healthcare and domestic security have been declining in the U.S. TV evening news since January. The latest report from Media Tenor, an independent media analysis institute, shows that the big three networks have neglected topics that are crucial influences on voters’ decisions in national elections.

At the beginning of the year, Bush’s economic policies overshadowed all other issues in news coverage. However, since April, the networks have practically abandoned coverage of his economic policy - even as the economy and labor market have shown signs of significant improvement.

ABC focused heavily on the state of the economy in its news coverage at the beginning of the year, and in January, issues such as domestic security, healthcare and education still played a role on World News Tonight, albeit a small one. Since April, however, these four issues have practically vanished from news coverage. The same trend also occurred at the other two networks, and all four issues.

Purely a coincidence, I’m sure.

Posted by orbital at 1:35 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

UN-important (2)

[source, source]

Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special envoy to Iraq, announced his resignation from the post at a meeting yesterday of the Security Council and in the presence of Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The resignation, brewing for a number of days, shocked the diplomatic community at the world body.


According to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Brahimi’s current assignment in Iraq has been completed. [emphasis added]

Brahimi slinks away, nobody cares, and the UN generates a pathetic “We meant to do that” response. How the mighty have fallen.

Posted by orbital at 10:13 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Canadians free of health care


More than 3.6 million Canadians didn’t have a regular doctor last year, and many of them suffered a lack of basic preventive care, winding up in emergency rooms at far higher rates than those with doctors.

The problem was almost as serious in urban as rural areas, according to a new Statistics Canada survey, the most comprehensive picture to date of the country’s doctor shortage and its consequences.

Of the 3.6 million who didn’t have a doctor, 2.4 million hadn’t bothered to look, the Canadian Community Health Survey released Tuesday says.

But 1.2 million searched, some long and hard, with no success.

But at least those people who can’t find a doctor aren’t uninsured!

Posted by orbital at 9:39 AM | View 2 Comments | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL



HARARE, Zimbabwe - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special envoy for humanitarian needs in southern Africa called off a visit to Zimbabwe on Tuesday after he was told neither President Robert Mugabe nor any of his top officials were available to see him.

So now even Mugabe doesn’t worry about blowing off the UN? How the mighty have fallen!

Posted by orbital at 9:34 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Sharon dodges legal bullet


Israel’s attorney general on Tuesday dropped a corruption case against Ariel Sharon, ending months of uncertainty over the prime minister’s political future and boosting prospects of an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Attorney General Meni Mazuz told a news conference that he is not indicting Sharon on bribe-taking charges because of lack of evidence. Mazuz informed Sharon of the decision by phone before the news conference.

Crushing the Palestinian resistance, now this - Sharon is on a roll.

Posted by orbital at 9:32 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Film to follow vinyl?


Canon and Nikon control nearly all of the nascent digital SLR market. They are also the leading makers of film SLRs, but demand is declining due to a rapid switch to digital models.

Kimura said Nikon had no plans to stop producing film SLRs, but that it may next year start considering pulling out of the film compact camera business due to a sharp plunge in demand.

“There is still the matter of timing, but eventually we will have to dissolve this business,” Kimura said. “There really is no region in the world where you can do good business in compact film cameras anymore.”

I gave up on film years ago, primarily because of the expense and personal lack of talent. With digital, a success rate of 1 in a 100 pictures is affordable (and yes, with a bit more practice, I should get to that kind of yield).

I don’t think film will disappear entirely, just like vinyl records and vacuum tube amplifiers are still around. But it will become the toy of the affacianados instead of the medium of the masses.

Posted by orbital at 9:29 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

14 June 2004

Never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity

[source, source]

Terrorists in the Palestinian Authority-controlled town of Jenin, in northern Shomron (Samaria), opened fire at and inside the local United Nations office, in protest of the small size of the apartments being built for them. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is in the process of building the new houses to replace the slums damaged during the IDF’s anti-terror Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. The operation is being funded by a $27 million contribution from the Persian Gulf Emirates,

Although the houses are much fancier and sturdier than the old houses, they are 15% smaller, in order to make room for wider streets […]

UNRWA’s spokesman in Judea and Samaria said that five Arab gunmen approached UNWRA offices and fired at the building last week before entering the offices and firing shots into the rooms. This was the third such attack on UN offices and crew in Jenin camp in the past half year. Complaints dealt not only with the size of the housing, but also with the slow speed and accusations that senior Palestinian Authority officials had stolen some of the financial donations to the camp.

One of the gunmen complained that the 180-square-meter (1,900 square feet) apartment he had been given - much larger than the typical Israeli apartment - was too small for his wife and him. “When we have children, this apartment will be too small,” he reportedly told the UN staff.

The UNRWA clerks, contractors and planners have halted all construction until their security can be guaranteed.

Is there anything counter-productive that the Palestinians haven’t tried?

Posted by orbital at 7:10 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Berkeley comes out for silencing the Sierra Club

[source, source]

Now therefore, be it resolved that the Council of the City of Berkeley supports amending the United States and California Constitutions to declare that corporations are not granted the protections or rights of persons, and supports amending the United States and California Constitutions to declare that the expenditure of corporate money is not a form of constitutionally protected speech.

So much for free speech for newspapers and non-profit organizations, which are corporations as well.

Posted by orbital at 7:04 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

OK, that's seriously embarassing

[source, source]

WASHINGTON — A U.S. State Department report that incorrectly showed a decline last year in terrorism worldwide was a “big mistake,” Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday.


Mr. Waxman (D-California) asked for an explanation, and Mr. Powell called last week to say the mistakes were unintentional. “He says it wasn’t politically motivated, so I will accept that,” Mr. Waxman said after their conversation. But he added: “We are still left with the fact that this report is useless until it is corrected.”

The April report said attacks had declined last year to 190, down from 198 in 2002 and 346 in 2001. The 2003 figure would have been the lowest level in 34 years and a 45-per-cent drop since 2001, Mr. Bush’s first year as president.


“There’s a new terrorist-threat information centre that compiles this data under the CIA. And we are still trying to determine what went wrong with the data and why we didn’t catch it in the State Department,” Mr. Powell said yesterday.

“It’s a very big mistake. And we are not happy about this big mistake.”

The department has said that one of the mistakes was that only part of 2003 was taken into account.

Majorly lame. Only counted part of the year? I’m not sure I wouldn’t prefer clever dishonesty to this kind of blatant incompetence.

Posted by orbital at 6:13 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Voters say EUck!

[source, source]

VOTERS last night gave Brussels a two-fingered salute and handed anti-EU rebels a raucous new voice in the European Parliament.

The UK Independence Party made sweeping gains at Tory and Labour expense on a blatantly aggressive vow to pull Britain out of the European Union.

All across Europe, voters were giving Brussels the cold shoulder.

Last night there were fears in the EU capital that the explosion of anti-EU feeling could wreck the planned European Constitution altogether.

In both France and Germany the ruling parties suffered humiliating defeats. And across Europe the election of 732 MEPs attracted an embarrassingly low 44.6 per cent turnout.

I’m waiting for the flood of “we must ask why they hate us” articles. That’s the response the EUlite suggest for other people for this type of disagreement, right?

Posted by orbital at 8:15 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Self-inflicted propaganda

[source, source]

DUBAI, June 13 (Reuters) - A purported al Qaeda videotape posted on an Islamist website on Sunday claims to show the killing of a U.S. employee in the Saudi capital Riyadh last week.

“The murder of the Jewish American Robert Jacob, who worked for the Vinnell espionage firm,” a statement announcing the video on the Website says.

The video shows a man who seems to be a Westerner fall to the ground in front of a garage as two men holding guns run towards him.

What we have here, is a failure to communicate. Isn’t this the kind of propaganda we used to write about our enemies? Now our enemies write and distribute it themselves? I suppose they have to distribute it, since our local media will publish hate propaganda only at our own troops.

Posted by orbital at 6:18 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

13 June 2004

Bias watch


While many leaders came here in affectionate remembrance, some were drawn here despite bitter memories of the Reagan era. Grenada, for one, which was invaded at Reagan’s order, was represented by Prime Minister Keith Mitchell.

AP press report

Grenada’s leaders sent condolences and ordered flags flown at half-staff in honor of the late President Ronald Reagan. In a letter to President Bush on Tuesday, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell called Reagan a “stalwart in the advancement of democracy.”

The Grenadans

Meanwhile, in Grenada, they’re celebrating the anniversary of the invasion. But move along, no bias here.

Posted by orbital at 3:42 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL


[source, source]

During his years at the United Nations, monitoring sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf war, critics called Michael Soussan a baby killer. One said the oil-for-food programme administered by the UN amounted to “overseeing genocide”. To Mr Soussan’s dismay, the most vocal critics worked alongside him at the UN. The genocide charge was levelled by an assistant secretary general in charge of humanitarian work in Iraq.

His colleagues blamed the Security Council - especially the United States and Britain - for the suffering of Iraqis, ignoring evidence that Saddam was stealing food from his own people’s mouths.


UN staff did not speak out when Saddam refused to buy high protein foods recommended by UN experts, or spent oil-for-food millions on sports stadiums, or broadcasting equipment for his propaganda machine.

The UN turned a blind eye to signs that Saddam was bribing cronies at home and abroad with black market oil vouchers, and was skimming billions from funds meant for food and medicine, demanding secret, 10 per cent “kickbacks” on humanitarian contracts.

The UN recently claimed it “learned of the 10 per cent kickback scheme only after the end of major combat operations” in 2003.

A lie, said Mr Soussan, recalling the hapless Swedish company that called in 2000, seeking UN help after being asked to pay kickbacks. The Swedes’ plea was quickly lost in red tape and inter-office turf wars. After a “Kafka-esque” flurry of internal memos, the Swedes were told to complain to their own government.

Obviously this is the Bush Administration’s fault for not catching and prevent the UN from engaging in all that corruption!

Posted by orbital at 2:50 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

11 June 2004

Is that a trick question?

[source, source]

Without explicitly referencing the current U.S. administration, [UN Secretary General Kofi] Annan challenged various elements of American foreign policy, including the use of preemptive strikes in the war in Iraq.

“What kind of world would it be, and who would want to live in it, if every country was allowed to use force, without collective agreement, simply because it thought there might be a threat?” Annan said, to applause from the audience.

Isn’t that the kind of world we live in now? What nation, besides the USA, has ever asked for collective agreement before going to war?

Posted by orbital at 1:32 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Uh, this one?

[source, source]

Without explicitly referencing the current U.S. administration, [UN Secretary General Kofi] Annan challenged various elements of American foreign policy, including the use of preemptive strikes in the war in Iraq.

“What kind of world would it be, and who would want to live in it, if every country was allowed to use force, without collective agreement, simply because it thought there might be a threat?” Annan said, to applause from the audience.

Isn’t that the kind of world we live in now? What nation, besides the USA, has ever asked for collective agreement before going to war?

Posted by orbital at 1:26 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Finally, some hope for NASA

[source, source]

Specifically, the commission will recommend that:

[…] NASA allow the private industry “to assume the primary role of providing services to NASA, and most immediately in accessing low-Earth orbit […]”

If NASA deserves to exist at all (a point I consider unresolved), then it should be doing science that can’t (or won’t) be done by private interests. Hauling mass to LEO is not in that category and private development in that area has been stymied by NASA for decades.

Posted by orbital at 12:46 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Laborous defeat

[source, source]

Looks like a pretty good night for the Conservatives in the local elections, winning seats from both Labour and the Lib Dims (who have lost more councils than they’re gained so far), and a bad one for Tony Blair. Most of these councils are urban, and therefore more naturally Labour in the post-Thatcher political world, yet they’re still losing. They lost Newcastle, for goodness’ sake (and I wonder how Mr Spin will react to that).

The spin is that the losses are about Iraq, but given the success of the UKIP, it seems that Eurosceptism was a bigger factor. But we can’t say that in public.

Posted by orbital at 12:35 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Revenge is a dish best served cold

In the comments to this this post by David Cohen, J.H. serves up a sweet plan for dealing with “fixing” politically incorrect names:

I definitely think you’ll probably eventually see some counties in various states especially ones with weird Indian names or ones named after people that nobody remembers take on the Reagan name.

Posted by orbital at 9:41 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

10 June 2004

Reagan steals the credit from Gorbachev

[source, source]

[…] the Iron Curtain’s collapse was hardly Ronald Reagan’s doing.

It was Mikhail Gorbachev, who with a sweeping democratic revolution at home and one peace initiative after another abroad, backed the Gipper into a corner, leaving him little choice — actors don’t like to be upstaged — but to concede there was a whole new world opening up over there.

[…] the U.S. administration was reeling. Polls were beginning to show that, of all things unimaginable, a Soviet leader was the greatest force for world peace. An embarrassed Mr. Reagan finally responded in kind. Nearing the end of his presidency, he came to Moscow and he signed a major arms-control agreement and warmly embraced Mr. Gorbachev.

[…] In fact, Mr. Gorbachev could have well perpetuated the old totalitarian system. He still had the giant Soviet armies, the daunting nuclear might and the chilling KGB apparatus at his disposal.

But he had decided that the continuing clash of East-West ideologies was senseless, that his sick and obsolescent society was desperate for democratic air. […]

What’s really odd here is the admission that the USSR was “sick and obsolescent”. I thought Big Media still considered Communism the wave of the future.

Posted by orbital at 2:39 PM | View 2 Comments | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Turkey releases Kurdish activitists


Four prominent Kurdish activists, including award-winning ex-MP Leyla Zana, have been freed from Turkish jail pending an appeal.


Turkish Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said those who opposed Turkey’s entry into the EU should think again.

“This is the last bargaining chip in the hands of those who were seeking excuses in Turkey’s EU bid,” Anatolia news agency quoted him as saying.

Interesting that Turkey is doing this to humour the EU while they’re facing a possible Kurdistan on their border.

P.S. Interestingly, the BBC considers Turkey to be part of Europe - this was filed under “European” news.

Posted by orbital at 2:14 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

EUlite terror funding

[source, source]

Bayerische Rundfunk (Bavarian TV) reported that 246 million euro of EU money, granted to the Palestinian Authority by the European Commission, ended up in fully uncontrollable bank accounts. Bayerische Rundfunk said, on the basis of a letter by Arafat that it had obtained, that the Palestinian leader personally ordered terrorist attacks, using the accounts where the EU money ended up.

That seems kind of counter-productive - if Israel is destroyed won’t many Jews head back to Europe?

Posted by orbital at 2:08 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

But the dialog is open!

[source, source, source]

(Brussels, June 7, 2004) — The Iranian government has intensified its campaign of torture, arbitrary arrests, and detentions against political critics, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Iran’s outgoing reformist parliament in May passed legislation to prohibit torture, but without effective implementation, the law remains an empty gesture.


The report called on the European Union to increase pressure on Iran to take strong steps to end torture and ill-treatment in detention and restore freedom of expression. The ongoing EU-Iran human rights dialogue will have its next meeting in Tehran on June 14 and 15. The dialogue, entering its third year, has failed to achieve any tangible results. In fact, the human rights situation in Iran has markedly deteriorated since the inception of the dialogue. “The European Union’s weak response to continuing human rights violations in Iran is deeply disturbing,” said Whitson, “It’s time for the European Union to condemn Iran’s record of persecution and torture and to set real benchmarks that the government must meet.”

But the EU is doing something - they’re talking to Iran. How could that not be effective?

Posted by orbital at 11:21 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

09 June 2004

Why would they want to be occupied by a blood thirsty unilateral nation?

[source, source]

The Pentagon has advised Germany that as part of a global shifting of U.S. military forces, it wants to withdraw its two Army divisions and replace them with fewer, lighter, more mobile troops.


Posted by orbital at 7:49 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

At least be consistent


The Justice Department today announced that it has entered into a consent decree with New York City and various school district officials, settling allegations of civil rights violations and deprivations of equal educational opportunities at Brooklyn’s Lafayette High School.

The government’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that school district officials deliberately ignored severe and pervasive harassment directed at Asian-American students by their classmates. This harassment allegedly included both physical and verbal abuse, including multiple violent assaults. According to the complaint, students regularly threw food, cans and combination locks at Asian-American students, while shouting ethnic slurs.

What’s missing here? The race of the attackers. One can reasonably presume from this that the attackers weren’t white. The Volokh Conspiracy asks

When newspapers are covering racial and racist conflicts, should they remain silent about which groups’ members are involved in the conflict (at least on one side)? Or should they reveal them?

I’d settle for either if applied consistently. What happens in real life is that whether race is reported depends on the race, not a consistent policy.

Posted by orbital at 7:05 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

It's all about meeeeeeeeeee!

[source, source]

[UK Health Secretary Doctor John] Reid said that the middle classes were obsessed with giving instruction to people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and that smoking was not one of the worst problems facing poorer people.

The poor! Who cares about them — the level of righteous self-satisfaction among the liberals is at stake! I just can’t believe a government do-gooder questioned that attitude.

Posted by orbital at 12:14 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

08 June 2004

Slicing it very thin


This correction ran in today’s New York Times:

Because of an editing error, an obituary of former President Ronald Reagan yesterday referred incorrectly in some copies to the Nicaraguans known as contras, to whom his subordinates secretly diverted profits from selling arms to Iran. They were rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government, not the Marxist Sandinistas who ran the government.

Does that mean the insurgents in Iraq are fighting against the Iraqi government, not the Coalition?

Posted by orbital at 3:56 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Normal street talk

[source, source]

Dutch police don’t know what to do with the case of the Turkish immigrant rapper zg r Korkmaz and his group NAG (Nieuwe Allochtone Generatie - New Immigrant Generation). In his song “F***ing Jews,” Korkmaz warns the “f***ing Jews” that immigrants are “comin’ to kill” them. After CIDI’s director Ronnie Naftaniel filed a complaint against him, Korkmaz reported to his local police station. But the police, who probably couldn’t decide whether these lyrics were an expression of genuine anti-Semitic feelings or just normal street talk, sent him away without even charging him. “I don’t understand,” Korkmaz said. “I was here to make a statement because I feel CIDI is right. My lyrics were completely over the top.” Instead of singing “kill all Jews,” he would have preferred to have sung “kill the Jews that are in Israel’s government and are responsible for the slaughter of Palestinian babies.”

So the only people who don’t think this was judenhass are the Dutch police. One is forced to wonder about how bad things are in the Netherlands if the police think this kind of thing is “normal street talk”. Is the street talk that bad or are the police that clueless? No good answer to that question.

Posted by orbital at 8:45 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Ooooh - that's not gonna hurt


A UN official has accused Sudan of not taking the crisis in Darfur seriously enough.

Oh no, not an accusation from a UN official! How can any government withstand that kind of pressure? But if that doesn’t work, maybe the UN official should take it up with UN Human Right Commission.

Note that even here, the UN has to weasle and distort. If Sudan weren’t taking seriously the ethnic cleansing in Darfur, it wouldn’t be happening.

Posted by orbital at 6:20 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

07 June 2004

Helping the Palestinians help themselves

[source, source]

According to Hader Abu Sheikh, an official of the Palestinian Legislative Council, “there is 70% more nightlife in Jenin than a year ago.” “We are talking about the resumption of traditional Palestinian nightlife,” explains Abu Sheikh. “Weddings, men sitting in cafes late at night, women visiting each other.…The point is, people are no longer confined to their houses at night, because Israel has left the city.” According to the IDF, the security fence relieves the army of the necessity to regularly patrol the city.

“There are positive business indicators, as people are starting to think of capital and investment and commerce again,” said Ziad Mifleh, director-general of the Jenin Chamber of Commerce. Even Palestinian Legislative Council member Sakhri Turkuman, a Fatah official, concedes that the security fence has “created some stability in Jenin.”

No wonder the Palestinian Authority opposes the security fence! The PA is doomed if life improves for the Palestinians.

Posted by orbital at 7:55 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

THIS JUST IN: Al Qaeda threatens the USA


A statement purportedly from al Qaeda militants in Saudi Arabia warned Monday of new attacks on U.S. and Western airlines, as a Saudi diplomat said the militant group was behind an attack that killed a BBC cameraman.

“All compounds, bases and means of transport, especially Western and American airlines, will be a direct target for our coming operations in the near future,” said the statement, posted on a pro-al Qaeda site on the Internet.

Was there some point in time since 1993 when Al Qaeda wasn’t planning attacks against the USA?

Posted by orbital at 12:25 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Careful with the match, Riyadh!

[source, source]

Explosions rocked the compound surrounding the Kufa mosque on Monday after ammunition used by fighters loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr apparently caught fire, witnesses and Shiite militia members said. At least nine people were hurt.


Riyadh Moussa, a militiaman who had been sleeping in compound, said he heard a “whoosh of a missile in the air” and a strong thud when a projectile hit the storage area.


A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said no forces were near the mosque at the time of the blast. Iraqi police took small arms fire when they tried to approach to see what was going on, the U.S. military said.

When your enemies are stupid, it’s best to give them some rope even if it seems defeatist on the surface.

Posted by orbital at 12:22 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

05 June 2004

Reagan dies at 93

[source, source]

Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States of America, is dead at age 93. Reagan occupies a pivotal point in American history, turning the the accomodationist and defeatist attitudes in the USA into the leading edge of history that we ride yet today. He had the courage to stand up and say “I will not abide this evil”, thereby leading us to victory in the Cold War against Communism.

Posted by orbital at 6:11 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

04 June 2004

It's not about answers!


Time magazine and NBC on Friday filed motions seeking to quash grand jury subpoenas issued last month to compel testimony from their reporters about whether Bush administration officials leaked the name of a covert CIA operative.

Yeah, it’s obvious that we don’t know who leaked the name because of stone walling by the Bush Administration. Why pick on people who know the answer if they’re not Republicans?

Posted by orbital at 8:43 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

What did you expect?


Iraq’s new prime minister gave his first televised address to the nation yesterday and insisted that the premature withdrawal of multinational forces from the country “would be a major disaster”.

Yeah, they’ll be asking for a US troop withdrawl real soon.

Posted by orbital at 8:37 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Chatterati: We don't trust your friends

[source, Best of the Web]

Then comes my favorite: The new government has no legitimacy because it is composed of so many exiles. What kind of political leadership does one expect in a country that endured three decades of Stalinist tyranny in which any expression of opposition met with torture and death?

Strange. I do not remember any of these critics complaining about the universally hailed Oslo peace accords that imposed upon the Palestinians a PLO government flown in from Tunisia composed nearly entirely of political exiles.

Ah, but Yasser Arafat, thug and terrorist, instantly wins legitimacy in the eyes of Western intelligentsia because he is a self-proclaimed revolutionary, while Iraq’s interim prime minister, who was nearly axed to death by Hussein’s agents in London, is dismissed as an “exile.”

No, Arafat is automatically legitimate because he is no friend of the West and the USA in particular.

Posted by orbital at 2:50 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

03 June 2004

Light that candle!

[source, source]

Paul G. Allen and aviation legend Burt Rutan have teamed to create a manned space program, which will attempt the first non-governmental flight to leave the earth’s atmosphere. SpaceShipOne will rocket to 100 kilometers (62 miles) into sub-orbital space above the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center, a commercial airport in the California desert. If successful, it will demonstrate that the space frontier is finally open to private enterprise. This event could be the breakthrough that will enable space access for future generations.


“This flight is one of the most exciting and challenging activities taking place in the fields of aviation and aerospace today,” said Paul G. Allen, sole sponsor in the SpaceShipOne program. “Every time SpaceShipOne flies we demonstrate that relatively modest amounts of private funding can significantly increase the boundaries of commercial space technology. Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites have accomplished amazing things by conducting the first mission of this kind without any government backing.”

Today’s announcement came after SpaceShipOne completed a May 13th, 2004 test flight in which pilot Mike Melvill reached a height of 211,400 feet (approximately 40 miles), the highest altitude ever reached by a non-government aerospace program.

This is the real thing. The 100 km mark is the next natural progression of their series of successful test flights. They’re already the first private team to go supersonic. Will they be the first to get to space? Houston, prepare to eat their dust.

Posted by orbital at 9:23 PM | View 2 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

European Doom Watch

[source, source]

In case you wonder if Europe is truly screwed: the Spanish Prime Minister José Zapatero has awarded medals - Cross of Military Merit - to his Defence Minister and three generals, not for anything as mundane as bravery or distinguished service, but… wait for it… for withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq!

The controversy that consequently erupted, has forced the Defence Minister to hand his medal back

Shouldn’t the Defence Minister get a medal for that brave act of returning his award?

Posted by orbital at 2:59 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Who pays attention to Senate votes?

[source, source]

The US Senate recently voted on funding for Project Bioshield which would attempt to prepare the USA to defend itself against biological attacks. Meanwhile, Senator John Kerry was telling people that the USA was not sufficiently prepared to deal with biological attack.

The vote in the Senate was 99-1 for funding Project Bioshield. The lone dissenting vote was — Senator John Kerry.

Posted by orbital at 2:29 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL


[source, source]

Aweideh handles the gun awkwardly, though with obvious reverence, asking for a plastic bag to hide it in for the short hop from the backseat of a car into the store. Not long ago Aweideh and his comrades from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — the armed cells, affiliated with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, that sprung up with the intifada — would have been swaggering through the streets of this West Bank market town, inspiring admiration in some residents, terrorizing others and plotting what they call “military operations” against nearby Jewish settlements or Israeli cities that lie over the Green Line, the pre-1967 border that skirts Tul Karm to the west.

But the armed men are not walking around here anymore, certainly not in broad daylight. The few of them left after the army’s frequent raids, targeted killings and arrests are said to be feeling hunted and alone. And while predictions of calm times ahead may be premature, many here are already declaring Tul Karm’s intifada over.

“Everybody’s either dead or in prison,” says Nidal Jallad, who is hanging around the store shortly before Aweideh makes his entry. “It’s over. We’ve had enough. All we want now is for the prisoners to come home.”

And jobs - for some reason, the Israelis aren’t hiring as many Palestinians as they used to.

Posted by orbital at 8:20 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

02 June 2004

The Dark Earth

[source, source]

Interesting article about evidence for

  • a complex society that previously inhabited the Amazon basin
  • most of the Amazon being an artifact of human terraforming
  • terra preta”, a dark soil that resists leaching, promotes crop growth and regenerates itself. It’s found scattered across the Amazon basin.
Posted by orbital at 1:41 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

I'll bet he's popular with the ladies now...


No more ladies’ nights at bars in New Jersey.

The state’s top civil rights official has ruled that gender-based promotions are discriminatory.

The ruling came after a man complained that women could get into Cherry Hill’s Coastline nightclub for free and receive discounted drinks — while men had to pay a five-dollar cover charge and full price for drinks.

How did America get in to the state where state legilsators and supreme courts feel free to weigh in on such weighty matters as ladies’ nights at local bars?

Posted by orbital at 12:44 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Charter shredding

[source, source]

The Supreme Court of Canada, in a ruling laden with meaning for the coming federal election, has upheld legal limits on campaign spending by lobby groups.

In a 6-3 judgment Tuesday, the court acknowledged the expenditure caps have the effect of limiting free speech. But the majority said the harm is minimal and is justified in the wider interest of ensuring fairness between competing voices on the campaign trail.

This makes a mockery of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights, as noted by Colby Cosh:

This all merely confirms that the Charter, whether good or bad in itself, is a filthy lie. It advertises itself as the basic law of the land, yet when more than half the Supreme Court decides that something explicitly contrary to it would be a capital idea, the document’s text evaporates. “Fundamental” freedoms become provisional, negotiable, disposable. The notion of “an egalitarian model of electoral fairness” appears, let me emphasize, nowhere in the Charter. Believe it or not, the Court pulled those theoretical wheezings about “egalitarian” fairness out of a half-baked and much-contested 1992 Royal Commission report on election spending. Somehow, the judges thought that implementing this dusty shred of bumf was more important than applying the stated essence of the Constitution. Seems odd to me, but I never went to law school or suffered a major head trauma.

I haven’t begun to sum up the Harper ruling’s noxiousness here. One astonishing utterance from the Honourable Mr. Justice Bastarache will, I think, long be remembered: “While the right to political expression lies at the core of the guarantee of free expression and warrants a high degree of constitutional protection, there is nevertheless a danger that political advertising may manipulate or oppress the voter.”

The danger being that the advertising might not be “Canadian”.

Posted by orbital at 11:39 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

01 June 2004

Faking never helps

Jesse Walker is complaining about the Boston Herald modifying a Gore quote. The newspaper said

How dare Gore say that Americans have an “innate vulnerability to temptation…to use power to abuse others.” And that our own “internal system of checks and balances cannot be relied upon” to curb such abuse.

While techincally accurate, both in meaning and quote (so it’s not Dowdification) it’s still misleading. Gore’s actual statement was

Our founders were insightful students of human nature. They feared the abuse of power because they understood that every human being has not only “better angels” in his nature, but also an innate vulnerability to temptation — especially the temptation to abuse power over others.

Our founders understood full well that a system of checks and balances is needed in our constitution because every human being lives with an internal system of checks and balances that cannot be relied upon to produce virtue if they are allowed to attain an unhealthy degree of power over their fellow citizens.

This is of course exactly what I believe as well. Note that it was the Boston Herald, not Gore, who singled out Americans as having these innate vulnerablities.

Given all the other issues with Gore, there’s no need to be manufacturing quotes. That’s wrong, regardless of who does it.

Gore’s statement in this regard would be a tad bit more believable, though, if he and his political allies hadn’t spent the last few decades attempting “to attain an unhealthy degree of power over their fellow citizens”.

Posted by orbital at 11:27 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL