31 July 2004

I question the patriotism of people who question my patriotism


John Kerry stepped straight from his coronation stage in Boston into a political firefight yesterday over his relentless use of fellow Vietnam veterans to bolster his campaign.

As the Democratic presidential candidate began the long march with his ‘band of brothers’ towards the November elections, he was ambushed by a second group of navy veterans who, like him, fought on Swift Boats on the Mekong Delta - but who dissent from Sen Kerry’s own account of his war record.

The ambushers have declared Senator Kerry as “unfit for office” and include his entire chain of command. The contradictory chickens of Kerry’s relationship with the war in Vietnam are coming home to roost.

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The paranoid style in politics

When Senator John Kerry was photographed in a bunny suit (a suit used in ultra-clean environments), he was mocked. The Kerry campaign response was to accuse NASA of releasing the photos as a dirty trick. It’s just a bit worrisome when the first response of a presidential campaign to any bad PR is an accusation of conspiracy and malice. On the other hand, Transterrestial Musings has dug up photos of George Bush senior in a bunny suit. I’m sure those photos were never actually released but simply inserted in to NASA’s image database after the fact to cover up the plot against Kerry.

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My new business idea


The New Zealand government, having taken the step of legalising prostitution, has now issued a guide for sex workers.

You have to admit, one thing a government does have world expertise in is screwing people.

The 100-page Occupational Safety and Health guide to safe sex practices has been launched on a government website with the caution: “Warning: this document contains sexually explicit material”.

Maybe it’s a kind of indirect anti-prostitution effort. 100 pages now, 1,000 pages in a decade — eventually it will be easier to get a non-sex related job.

[…] Employers are asked […] to provide beds that support the back for a variety of services to be performed without strain or discomfort.

I wonder how much research went in to generating the list of services that require back support in the bed.

[…] Comprehensive training of staff in the safe use of all equipment, particularly for fantasy work, is also recommended.

Maybe I should drop the weblog and work on a training website for this? On the other hand, how long till there are lawsuits about insufficient safety warnings on sexual fantasy props?

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THIS JUST IN: Iran mocks EU diplomatic effort


Iran, intensifying a standoff over its nuclear programs, has told European officials it will not back down on its right to proceed with uranium enrichment, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

Standoff? What standoff? Iran is doing as it likes while the EU frets and sputters.

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29 July 2004

Just not serious

[source, source]

A classified Justice Department investigation has concluded that a former F.B.I. translator at the center of a growing controversy was dismissed in part because she accused the bureau of ineptitude, and it found that the F.B.I. did not aggressively investigate her claims of espionage against a co-worker.

The Justice Department’s inspector general concluded that the allegations by the translator, Sibel Edmonds, “were at least a contributing factor in why the F.B.I. terminated her services,” and the F.B.I. is considering disciplinary action against some employees as a result, Robert S. Mueller III, director of the bureau, said in a letter last week to lawmakers. A copy of the letter was obtained by The New York Times.

Ms. Edmonds worked as a contract linguist for the F.B.I. for about six months, translating material in Turkish, Persian and Azerbaijani. She was dismissed in 2002 after she complained repeatedly that bureau linguists had produced slipshod and incomplete translations of important terrorism intelligence before and after the Sept. 11 attacks. She also accused a fellow Turkish linguist in the bureau’s Washington field office of blocking the translation of material involving acquaintances who had come under F.B.I. suspicion and said the bureau had allowed diplomatic sensitivities with other nations to impede the translation of important terrorism intelligence.

I wish I could remember where I saw it, but someone summed this kind of thing up succinctly - the real problem with our intelligence services is that actual investigation is bad for one’s career. I’m sure the FBI people involved only peripherally with this are thinking that, had the local investigated Edmonds’ accusations, they would be in even worse trouble.

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Remember, it's Bush's fault

[source, source]

I don’t sense the same affection for Kerry. I also don’t think it matters. Right now I have a browser window open to Fark, and a T-shirt ad shows Bush’s face with the logo “American Psycho.” What else do you need to know? As Teddy Kennedy said in his convention speech: “The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.” It’s really quite simple, isn’t it? We live in a manufactured climate of fear ginned up by war-crazed neocon overlords. There is no threat. The only thing we have to fear is Bush, who sits as we speak in the Oval Office sucking the marrow from Whoopi’s shin-bones.

If so, I wonder why anyone agreed to the stringent security policies that characterize this year’s conventions. Why the bomb-sniffing dogs? Why the snipers? Why the metal detectors, the invasive inspection of bags? Is it all an elaborate defense against Bush crashing the party and setting off a bomb belt, shouting God is Great, y’all!

They only need that stuff because President Bush is in the White House. Once he’s outta there, everyone on the planet will join together in a big love hug.

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28 July 2004

Force the contradiction

[source, source]

Religious rights campaigners, buoyed by a UN call for an end to repression of minorities by majority religions, today urged the world body to tackle persecution of ”apostates” in Muslim countries.

This should be interesting, so see how the Islamic fight against allowing apostacy from Islam is handled. It will at least make a good talking point.

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We're the PA - we can make anything worse


Human rights groups have called for the lifting of security restrictions in Gaza, to allow 2,500 Palestinians stranded in Egypt to return home.

Stranded, eh? I wonder why.

The Israeli authorities have closed the crossing for fear of militant attacks.


PHR-Israel - along with Palestinian groups Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights and Gaza Community Mental Health Programme - is demanding that the Israeli army find an “acceptable solution” to the crisis.

That sounds reasonable. Maybe Israel could open some other crossing, if there’s a security problem at the Rafah crossing.

Israel has offered to let the people through a different crossing, but only at a rate of 250 a day.

Oh, they did. So what’s the problem?

The Palestinian Authority rejected the offer as insufficient

Ah, the usual problem. It’s the whole Palestinian issue in miniature, the suffering held hostage to the intransigience of the PA which refuses to accept any non-maximal resolution. You can call that many things, but “negotiation” is not one.

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Nice headline, dudes!


Seven Iraqi Troops Killed in Poland

A fierce battle between insurgents and Iraqi soldiers fighting alongside multinational forces in the south-central city of Suwariyah on Wednesday has left seven Iraqi soldiers and 35 insurgents dead, a coalition military spokesman said.

I didn’t realize that there were insurgents fighting in Poland, nor that Iraqi troops were helping out the local Polish forces.

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No, we gave those all away as part of the ransom


But seven [UN Security] council members — Pakistan, China, Russia, Algeria, Angola, the Philippines and Brazil — have expressed concern about the sanctions threat [to Sudan], council diplomats said. [emphasis added]

I’d expect that kind of thing from most of these countries, but shouldn’t the Philipines be

  • supporting the USA to demonstrate that it’s an ally?
  • not turning a blind eye to the horrors in Darfur after surrendering to the jihadis in Iraq?

Or has the Philipine government basically thrown in the towel on acting like it has a spine?

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27 July 2004

How many copies would you like?

[source, source]

A DEDICATED special forces unit is being assembled alongside the SAS and SBS to infiltrate and destroy Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.


Much of the core of the unit will be made up of undercover surveillance operators who have honed their skills fighting terrorists in Northern Ireland.

Hopefully they’ll pull the internal security from somewhere else.

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Germany plans for brain raid


German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer launched a fresh bid to recruit Indian [IT]professionals, pledging that a new immigration law would make Germany a winning alternative for the best brains.

Given the unemployment rate in Germany, what does this say about the level of technical education in Germany that it needs to import IT professionals? Or maybe IT work is too declassé for the natives?

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Who are we to tell us what to do?

Matt Welch asks what a White House administration should do (beside not being Republican) to repair our transatlantic aliances. Jeremy Shapiro answers thusly:

Well first of all I don’t think that not being a Republican is an essential requirement to [rebuild] the relationship with Europe, (waits a beat for the punchline) but it’s helpful. But I think that many Republican governments and conceivably a Bush government can do more. But specifically at the question, I think that there is a European side to the equation. Any administration is going to need to show results from the European side; they’re going to need to demonstrate that a policy of according respect to European countries and according respect to international institutions actually delivers something in terms of burden-sharing, and actually deliver something in terms of the problems that the United States sees as security issues. And that really is going to mean demonstrating to the European countries that they’re very serious about getting contributions to the problems, and that they really want to hold, for example, the French to the claim that Ambassador Leaf just made that they recognize that Iraq is a common problem, and that common problems require common contributions. I don’t think that that’s possible, but it does require A) holding them to standards that they themselves proclaim, and B) acknowledging the court of public opinion, and cede authority commensurate with the assets that you get, so that people feel as if they do have a stake and a control over security problems. So for example the Bush Administration is very reluctant to do that, it tends to ask for European assistance without granting a sense or semblance of control. I don’t think this something that the States should be afraid of.

Translated - it’s the USA’s responsibility to see that European nations behave responsibly and live up to their own standards.

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26 July 2004

Who is really aided?

[source, source]

Palestinian businessmen have made millions of pounds supplying cement for Israel’s “security barrier” in the full knowledge of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader and one of the wall’s most vocal critics.


The report reveals that the cement originally came from Egyptian companies which supplied it at a huge discount of $22 (£12.50) a ton to help rebuild dilapidated Palestinian houses or buildings bulldozed by the Israelis.

The most interesting point here is that it was Palestinians who brought up this issue. Are they finally getting tired of Arafat trading their blood for his money?

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We'll put it back up after the election

[source, source]

When John Kerry glances around the convention hall in Boston this week, his eye will be drawn to brightly lit television network signs — ABC News, NBC, CNN, CBS, and banners for Hearst-Argyle and Belo.

Missing from the lineup is Al-Jazeera, the controversial Arab-language TV network that often is first to carry news involving al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

The Qatar-based network, which has 16 staff members assigned to the convention, was directed by convention officials to remove its sign. If it had remained, Al-Jazeera’s sign would have been seen by millions of television fans looming over the shoulder of convention speakers.

Isn’t that racist discrimination?

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Why would they need to be involved?

[source, bq. [Dateline UK] The Hospital Chaplaincies Council has criticised several NHS Trusts for their “hysterical” refusal to disclose the religious backgrounds of their patients. The trusts claim that such information is “too sensitive” to share with chaplains.

Yes, we wouldn’t want chaplains to know any of that “religion” stuff, not even if it’s a dieing patient.

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They promised to use them only for good

[source, source]

Amnesty International and Greenpeace condemned the Spanish government Friday for exporting arms to war-torn Sudan despite a European Union ban.

The civil rights and ecological groups said Spain was selling light arms and munitions to the Sudanese government, according to an investigation by researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Isn’t it the USA that supposed to value arms merchants over human rights? The “Spain” must just be a typo.

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Schooling well with others

[source, source]

Parents are fuming over a letter from a Kuala Lumpur primary school headmaster directing non-Muslim pupils not to bring non-halal food to school.


Zainal’s letter dated July 14 sent to parents and guardians of students read: “Please be informed that non-Muslim students are altogether forbidden from bringing non-halal food to school, forbidden from using canteen utensils, for example forks and spoons, and from throwing rubbish into rubbish bins.”

Only 40% of the children in the school are Muslim.

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23 July 2004

Sullying a good cause


The 1971 shooting of students by government forces in Mexico’s so-called “dirty war” has been classified by an investigating prosecutor as genocide.

While I think it’s a step forward to break the immunity of high officials who have committed serious crimes, I just don’t see how the dirty war in Mexico rises to the status of “genocide”. It degrades the term and seems to me to indicate a prosecutor more interested in blaring headlines than justice. It’s particularly jarring to see this claim while people argue about whether the situation in Darfur is genocide or not.

UPDATE: Samizdata notices this story as well.

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Welcome to reality


The capture of three Kenyan hostages in Iraq has bewildered newspapers back home, who demand to know why the insurgents have picked on a country that refused to join the US-led invasion.

Uh, because they’re nihilistic psychopaths? Can this really be a surprise to anyone without severe Reality Dysfunction?

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We were just repressively governing and suddenly there was no food!


The United States said it would donate 50,000 tons of agricultural commodities through the World Food Program to nuclear power North Korea, which is grappling with a food shortage.

“Grappling with a food shortage”? Wouldn’t “starving their people in to cannibalism” be far more accurate?

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Definitely not Kent

[source, source]

Even after bin Laden’s departure from the area, CIA officers hoped he might return, seeing the camp as a magnet that could draw him for as long as it was still set up. The military maintained readiness for another strike opportunity. On March 7, 1999, Clarke called a UAE official to express his concerns about possible associations between Emirati officials and bin Laden. Clarke later wrote in a memorandum of this conversation that the call had been approved at an interagency meeting and cleared with the CIA. When the former bin Laden unit chief found out about Clarke’s call, he questioned CIA officials, who denied having given such clearance. Imagery confirmed that less than a week after Clarke’s phone call the camp was hurriedly dismantled, and the site was deserted.

Yes, it’s the same Richard Clarke who was involved in the bin Laden family exodus, which was no big deal but is frequently treated as something evil to blame on President Bush.

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Finally, some honesty from the Democratic Party


Just days after Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger called state Democrats “girlie men” for failing to pass a budget by the state’s July 1 deadline, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur has begun selling T-shirts over the Internet with the slogan “Sacramento Girlie Men.”

Words fail me.

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We list him as a matyr anyway

[source, source]

An Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades cell killed a 16-year-old Palestinian youth in Beit Hanun on Friday after his family opposed the cell’s attempt to launch Qassam rockets from their yard, security sources said.

He’s already been lumped in with “Palestinian casualties” caused by Israel.

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That's a harsh way to reduce

UK says “we need fewer troops”

Britain is to slash around 19,000 posts from its armed forces over the next four years as part of an overhaul of military priorities, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon announced.

The reforms will see the Royal Air Force shed about 7,500 posts and the Royal Navy 1,500 by 2008, while the army will shed some 10,000 personnel, Hoon said.

So we’ll send them to Sudan!

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Cluebat time


The Bush administration is pressing Britain, France and Germany for strong measures against Iran in response to its violation of a nonproliferation agreement reached with the three last fall, a State Department official said Wednesday.

The issue is part of a deepening American concern over recent Iranian activities that range from weapons programs to terrorism. To head off a potential crisis, some analysts believe the administration should work harder to promote a dialogue with Iran.

Oh, because dialogue has worked so well in the past. Doesn’t the just previous paragraph note that Iran simply blew off the results of the last dialogue? The mindset that can write things like this is beyond my capability to understand.

It is not clear what the United States expects the three European Union members to do in response.

Stop offering Iran more concessions in exchange for more meaningless dialog? Stopping shipping them equipment to support their nuclear ambitions? Heck, at this point maybe just frowning severely in Iran’s direction would be an improvement.

Iran has said it feels no obligation to honor the agreement, alleging that the Europeans had violated a promise to ensure that the U.N. nuclear watchdog group would give Iran a clean bill of health.

Hahaha, I almost had to clean my monitor on that one. Beyond wondering how the EU could ensure how the UN group would report, what in the world was the point of that? Maybe the action the USA expects from the big three is to stop helping Iran pretend it’s not working on nuclear weapons?

Rend al-Rahim Francke, Iraq’s chief representative in Washington, told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that Iran has played a positive role in the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

Calling the act of sending over intelligence agents with explosives as a “positive role” is quite teh aggressive propaganda effort.


[former CIA director Robert Gates advocated appeasement of the current regime and] added that a U.S. military attack would galvanize support for the Tehran government across the country. Iranian authorities, he said, could retaliate by destabilizing neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, countries in which, he noted, the United States has an undeniable strategic stake.

In sharp contrast to Iran’s current efforts to destabilize Iraq and Afghanistan.

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What do they have to do with it?


Saddam lawyers appeal to Europe

Of course they would appeal to the EUlite.

Mr Ludot said he had petitioned the US to gain access to Saddam Hussein - to no avail.

He said he had chosen France to put pressure on Washington because it had a reputation for respecting human rights.

Like in Sudan, for instance.

Maybe Ludot should try appealing to, say, Iraq about this?

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22 July 2004

Theft of classified information by Berger is Bush's fault

The Belgravia Dispatch nails the NY Times’ coverage of Sandy Berger’s theft of classified information and documents from the National Archives. I can’t extract it but the general analysis is that the article talks almost exclusively about President Bush and the White House, barely mentioning Berger’s actions.

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21 July 2004

It's OK to wipe out European cultures


Former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, setting out his plans to the European Parliament, said he also wanted to tackle Euro-apathy.


“I pledge to work actively for a Europe which is much more than only a market: I want a Europe which is also social and cultural.

Wait, isn’t that just globalization in miniature, wiping out local cultures? I thought the EUlite viewed that as a bad thing.

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Let's go where facts don't matter


Several US states are filing law suits against five power companies challenging their gas emissions.

The case is to be launched in the federal district court of Manhattan using the common law of “public nuisance” to demand cuts.


The action would “for the first time put global warming on the litigation map,” a spokesman for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said.

Yes, having lost in the law of nations, the court of public of opinion and losing ground rapidly in the court of scientific opinion, the court of law is the last refuge for the true believers.

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That site is blocked by our firewall


US Navy reports

Summer Pulse ‘04 exercised the logistics and shore infrastructure necessary to execute a large scale surge operation and stressed the operational concepts in the Navy’s Sea Power 21 strategy. It also served to strengthen maritime capabilities by improving Navy interoperability with more than 23 allies and coalition partners, as well as other U.S. military forces. U.S. Navy ships and aircraft participated in more than 13 exercises in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Arabian, Baltic, Mediterranean, North and Red Seas, and the Sea of Japan and Persian Gulf. [emphasis added]

LA Times reports

Quietly and with minimal coverage in the U.S. press, the Navy announced that from mid-July through August it would hold exercises dubbed Operation Summer Pulse ‘04 in waters off the China coast near Taiwan. [emphasis added]

This will be the first time in U.S. naval history that seven of our 12 carrier strike groups deploy in one place at the same time. It will look like the peacetime equivalent of the Normandy landings and may well end in a disaster.

For an article with this kind of sweeping claim (“If American militarists are successful in sparking a war…”) the LA Times couldn’t be bothered to actually check on this via the Pentagon website (not even a phone call required!)? Moreover, this isn’t an ancillary fact but the key of the article’s entire thesis. But still, apparently, not worth a quick check. But you know, it’s Old Media you can trust because of their editors and fact checkers.

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Have the Palestinians figured out that actions have consequences?

[source, source]

The Palestinian cabinet has called on terror groups to stop the launching of Kassam rockets towards Israel.

The unexpected plea followed this morning’s Kassam attack in which a rocket landed on a home in a kibbutz in the western Negev, miraculously causing no injuries. It was explained as a desire not to give Prime Minister Ariel Sharon any pretense for taking over additional territory in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

So, in fact, grabbing bits of the West Bank with the wall is helping to create peace, even beyond the direct physical effects of the wall. Gosh, how could have expected that?

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[source, source]

The United Nations has decided to move 20 people working in UN facilities in Gaza - about a third of its foreign crews - to the UN headquarters in Armon Hanatziv in Jerusalem. The other 40 non-Palestinians working for the UN in Gaza will remain at their jobs.

The transfer was ordered by Peter Hansen, UNRWA commissioner general in Gaza, who is also responsible for the security of all the UN organizations operating in the strip. According to a Hansen spokesman, the transfer of the 20 was the result of “the security situation in the area of the Erez Junction and Beit Hanoun, where IDF forces are operating and which endanger the movement of UN people entering and leaving Gaza.”

But other international groups operating in Gaza said that the real reason for the redeployment of the civilian foreigners is the deteriorating security in recent months, and particularly the events in Gaza last weekend when French aid workers were briefly kidnapped by armed Palestinians.

As noted, the UN people will be cowering behind the wall Israel built.

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If this is international law, let's have anarchy

[source, source]

The [International] Court [of Justice] has declared four new rules about the meaning of the right of self-defense in the face of terrorism today.

  1. There is no right of self-defense under the U.N. Charter when the terrorists are not state actors.
  2. There is no right of self-defense against terrorists who operate from any territory whose status is not finalized, and who therefore attack across disputed borders.
  3. Where military action is perpetrated by “irregulars,” self-defense does not apply if the “scale and effects” of the terrorism are insufficient to amount to “an armed attack…had it been carried out by regular armed forces.” (The scale in this case is 860 Israeli civilians killed in the last three years — the proportional equivalent of at least 14 9/11’s.)
  4. Self-defense does not include nonviolent acts, or in the words of Judge Rosalyn Higgins: “I remain unconvinced that non-forcible measures (such as the building of a wall) fall within self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter.”

But other than that, states can defend themselves, like Sudan is doing in Darfur.

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20 July 2004

Yeah, but on our planet...

[source, source]

Because of an editing error, an article on Thursday about British prewar intelligence on Iraq misstated the location cited by President Bush in his State of the Union address when he talked about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium. Basing his comments on a British report, the president said Iraq had made those efforts in Africa. He did not specifically mention Niger, though that country was identified several weeks earlier — along with Somalia and Congo — in the National Intelligence Estimate provided to members of Congress on Iraqi purchase attempts.

Yeah, Niger and the entire continent are easy to get confused. Not to mention that both words contain the letter ‘r’. This kind of error indicates a lot about the pervasiveness of the delusional cocoon the reporters at the NY Times live in. Apparently they forgot that they were only vending the poisoned Cool-Aid and drank it themselves.

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I'll see your insurgency and raise you a counter-attack


Iraq is ready to retaliate against countries it accuses of supporting violence wracking the country, the country’s defense minister warned Tuesday.

Hazim al-Shaalan mentioned no countries by name but accused old foe Iran of “blatant interference.” Iraq has also complained in the past about guerrilla fighters entering the country from Syria.

“We are prepared to move the arena of the attacks on Iraq’s honor and its rights to those countries,” he was quoted as saying by the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

Looks like someone is getting the pieces in the right places for the next move of the Great Game.

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Next I'll make the tide go out


President Robert Mugabe declared that Zimbabwe was undergoing an economic “revival” at the opening of the last session of parliament before key elections next year.


In his address to parliament, the president said his land reform programme had led to a good harvest and announced new laws tightening control over non-governmental organisations, some of which claim the contrary.

It’s not so odd to me that Mugabe makes these kind of counter-factual claims, but that so many others, especially outside of Zimbabwe, let him get away with it.

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Ungrateful peasants!


The French 35-hour-week, a bold experiment to reduce high unemployment, appeared at a crossroads following a vote by Bosch workers to put in extra time without pay to save their jobs.

French politicians and unions were in a state of angst over a vote by workers at a subsidiary of German group Bosch to accept extra unpaid work to avert the re-location of a plant to the Czech Republic.

Yeah, don’t those workers realize that the 35 hour work week makes more jobs? Why if it didn’t, we would have to start doubting whether Socialism itself worked!

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Now there's a classic case of projection

[source, source]

The Detroit Federation of Teachers is threatening to sue if Michigan universities sponsor charter schools, as allowed under a new state law. On what grounds? They’ll come up with something. Central Michigan University is thinking of starting a Detroit charter school. The Detroit News reports:

Janna Garrison, head of the union representing roughly 9,000 teachers in Detroit Public Schools, wouldn’t specify on what legal grounds the union would challenge the law, saying it’s still premature. But she said CMU and other colleges considering authorizing new charters should be “ashamed.”

“What they’re doing is not about educating students,” Garrison said. “What they’re doing is about making money off our children: greed.”

Don’t we all contemplate inchoate legal action first and figure out reasons later?

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Soft bigotry of low expectations watch

[source, source]

To blame Israel for encouraging Mr Arafat’s worst tendencies will only serve as an excuse for his continuing failure to reform, but neither should the Israeli government be tempted to see Palestinian disarray (as the Jerusalem Post claimed yesterday) as “a good scenario for Israel (with) a divided enemy”. Division will lead to more terror. Israel must offer more incentives for moderation. [emphasis added]

What, not being in a living hell with random gunnies shooting each other isn’t enough incentive? Israel must offer more? I guess that’s The Guardian’s equivalent of “does not compute!”, to be uttered whenever ugly facts get in the way of an editorial viewpoint.

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19 July 2004

And the moonbat you rode in on!

[source, source]

Before singing “Desperado” for an encore Saturday night, the 58-year-old rocker [Linda Rondstadt] called Moore a “great American patriot” and “someone who is spreading the truth.” She also encouraged everybody to see the documentary about President Bush.

Ronstadt’s comments drew loud boos and some of the 4,500 people in attendance stormed out of the theater. People also tore down concert posters and tossed cocktails into the air.

“It was a very ugly scene,” Aladdin President Bill Timmins told The Associated Press. “She praised him and all of a sudden all bedlam broke loose.”

Oh, I guess this is what Elton John meant about the silencing of dissent, that audiences get upset about paying for songs and getting offensive political diatribes instead. I don’t think speech is “free” once it’s been paid for.

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And you need a new hairdresser


Elton John has said stars are scared to speak out against war in Iraq because of “bullying tactics” used by the US government to hinder free speech.

“There’s an atmosphere of fear in America right now that is deadly. Everyone is too career-conscious,” he told New York magazine, Interview.


Ah, so free speech is the right to say whatever you want while forbidding others from saying what they want (like, “I won’t buy your albums”).

“That’s not happening now. As of this spring, there have been virtually no anti-war concerts - or anti-war songs that catch on, for that matter,” he said.

Maybe because the people have spoken and your songs suck.

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And your intention was...?

[source, source]

President Clinton’s national security adviser, Sandy Berger, is the focus of a Justice Department investigation after removing highly classified terrorism documents and handwritten notes from a secure reading room during preparations for the Sept. 11 commission hearings […] he [Berger] voluntarily returned documents to the National Archives. However, still missing are some drafts of a sensitive after-action report on the Clinton administration’s handling of al-Qaida terror threats during the December 1999 millennium celebration.

Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed handwritten notes he had made while reading classified anti-terror documents at the archives by sticking them in his jacket and pants. He also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio, they said. [emphasis added]

The “inadvertently” is rather thin, but isn’t taking out notes flat out illegal as well?

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But what did he mean by that?


France awaits an explanation from Israel of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s remarks calling on France-based Jews to leave and move to Israel immediately to flee anti-Semitism, a French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told a news conference Monday.

The French government reacted strongly to Sharon’s remarks on Sunday urging France’s Jews to move to Israel and accusing France’s Muslims of being the source of unrestrained anti-Semitism in France.

“We immediately contacted the Israeli Authorities to ask their explanation on these unacceptable remarks,” the ministry said on Sunday.

Uh, just a wild guess, but maybe Sharon thought Jews should leave France to get away from the judenhass? Maybe Sharon is confusing the French government by saying what he means, just like President Bush has baffled them with his straight talking cowboy ways.

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We're only trying to help


The division’s entire 2nd Brigade would begin pulling out of South Korea next week, and the entire unit would be in Iraq by the end of August, Gen. Richard Cody, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said at the Pentagon on Friday.

The brigade is about 3600 troops, while the 2ID is 14,000. According to this report, the entire 2ID will be in Iraq by the end of 2005. The article has reports of concern about this transfer from South Koreans, but if the USA is more dangerous than North Korea to the South, wouldn’t this make South Korea safer?

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Buying out the competition


Ontario is striking back at the creeping privatization of medicare by preparing to buy seven private clinics and bring them into the public fold, The Canadian Press has learned.

Maybe voucher opponents should try that tack…

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You see, that's why I mock them

[source, source]

But a C.I.A. analyst opined “the Brits have exaggerated this issue [of Iraq trying to buy yellowcake]” because “the Iraqis already have 550 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory.”

So the CIA’s view is that President Bush overreacted to stories of the Ba’ath trying to acquire yellowcake because there was already plenty in the inventory?

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Ahnold says - "I'm not French"


A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said yesterday the governor would not apologize for calling lawmakers “girlie men,” despite criticisms from Democrats that the remark was sexist and homophobic.

The critics are mostly disarmed once Scharzenegger refuses to surrender. I’m sure they’ll try some sort of campaign but Ahnold can just reply “I’d rather talk about the budget”. Should be fun.

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18 July 2004

My leadership skills are as good as they ever were!

[source, soure]

Gunmen angry over Yasser Arafat’s overhaul of his security forces burned down Palestinian Authority offices in Gaza on Sunday.


Dozens of militants belonging to an extreme offshoot of Arafat’s Fatah movement stormed an office building in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis shortly after midnight to protest Arafat’s appointment of his cousin, Moussa Arafat, as chief of security.

One security guard was wounded in a gun battle with the militants, who seized control of the building, stole weapons, and burned two offices and several cars parked nearby, witnesses and officials said.

Caught between a rock and hard place (the gunnies and reform), Arafat, as usual for a Palestinian leader, manages to get the worst of both worlds. Too little reform to matter and too much for the gunnies.

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What about sunglasses with the department logo?

[source, source]

Beards are out. So are jeans and athletic shoes. Suit coats are in, even on the steamiest summer days.

That dress code, imposed by the Department of Homeland Security, makes federal air marshals uneasy — and not just because casual clothes are more comfortable in cramped airline seats. The marshals fear that their appearance makes it easier for terrorists to identify them, according to a professional group representing more than 1,300 air marshals.

“If a 12-year-old can pick them out, a trained terrorist has no problem picking them out,” said John D. Amat, a spokesman for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

Documents and memos issued by the Department of Homeland Security and field offices of the Federal Air Marshal Service say marshals must “present a professional image” and “blend unnoticed into their environment.” Some air marshals have argued that the two requirements

Just not serious. While I’d hate to provide ideas to my political opponents, this would make a great Kerry ad.

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17 July 2004

My favorite campaign poster


Let America be America again

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Use a bigger bomb

[source, source]

“I ask US President (George W.) Bush to withdraw from Iraq or else Ramadi will become a graveyard for US soldiers,” declared Sheikh Akram Ubayed Furaih at weekly prayers in the city, 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Baghdad.

Wouldn’t it be simpler and easier for us to erase Ramadi with bombers and long range artillery instead? I mean, Syria did it in Hama and no one in Arabia seemed to mind.

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16 July 2004

Don't ask for poisoned fruit


Iraq ’s interim prime minister has issued a plea for help from countries with large Muslim populations, after a bloody spate of suicide bombings, hostage-takings and beheadings in Iraq rocked the U.S.-led coalition.

Yeah, I’m sure the Ummah will help Iraq just as much as they’ve helped the Palestinians.

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Last one out is a rotten Arafat!


Two top Palestinian security chiefs resigned Friday after a series of kidnappings of security officers and French civilians in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said.

A bit more evidence for the “PA is collapsing” theory.

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Palestinians decide they can, in fact, have too many friends


Masked Palestinian gunmen kidnapped three French civilians in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis Friday and were holding them hostage in a Red Crescent building, Palestinian witnesses and security officials said.

So, the Palestinians are threatening to kill the UN envoy to the Middle East even though the UN is an ardent backer of the Palestinians. Now they’re also kidnapping citizens of the country run by ‘Jacques “I’ve never met a dictator I didn’t want as a buddy” Chirac’:http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/nm/20040716/wl_nm/mideast_gaza_kidnapping_dc? Have the years of absolutely no accountability finally led the Palestinians to believe they can do absolutely anything without losing any support from their allies?

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



The annual UN Human Development Report for the first time placed Ireland among the top 10 developed countries in an annual list based on each country’s average income, educational levels and life expectancy.

But a parallel finding, measuring the level of poverty in the world’s 17 most highly developed countries, placed Ireland second from the bottom - just above its primary economic role model, the United States.


The UN Poverty Index has consistently rated Ireland as having the highest percentage of poor people in Western Europe, some 15.3 per cent of the country’s 3.9 million residents. The United States came in at 15.8 per cent.

Of course, “poverty” is defined in a rather bizarre way:

Dan McLaughlin, chief economist at the Bank of Ireland, said he agrees with the government’s view that real poverty in Ireland today is at a historic low of around five per cent.

“I’ve never understood the poverty thing coming from the UN and other sources,” McLaughlin said. “They say poverty when they mean relative incomes, and, of course, the relative gap between the richest and poorest is growing. But by their logic, in a land where the average wage-earner is a millionaire, then somebody on 500,000 a year would supposedly be poor.”

On the other hand, if everyone was broke and living in caves, there’d be no poverty. Is that the UN’s plan?

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Free the north!

[source, source]

I have been in Canada for just two weeks and already I feel at home. I feel at home not because of the landscape or climate. Nor do I have any family here. But public policy in Canada reminds me of growing up under a communist regime in Hungary during the 1970s.

Maybe, if Canadians are lucky, they’ll be liberated through the rhetoric and actions of an American president as Hungary was.

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Running in to a burning house


Germany renewed its call for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council on Friday and dismissed a newspaper report that the United States was blocking its bid.

I say let them on. The UN is a decaying, dysfunctional organization. If Germany wants on a sinking ship why should we stop them?

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No escape


An American Airlines’ plane circling over Dallas yesterday was scheduled to play host to the first purpose-built system to handle air-to-ground [cell phone] calls using a standard mobile handset.


Rigging up the MD80 jet to take cellphone calls didn’t take much technological wizardry. It involved little more than a cell site crammed into a laptop computer, two or three antennas dotted around the passenger cabin and a link to the Globalstar satellite system to carry the calls back to earth.

I’ve been wondering why this wasn’t done before. I expect a rapid proliferation of this capability once it is available anywhere.

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So embarassing he has to do it in another country


The new U.N. envoy to Iraq said Wednesday he accepted the potentially dangerous job because of the challenge of helping the country complete its transition to democratic elections under a new constitution.

Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, now Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, was at U.N. headquarters for meetings with senior officials after being chosen to replace Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in last August’s bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.

I guess it’s OK at long as he doesn’t try that “democracy” thing at home.

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15 July 2004

Clean environment at the NY Times


Barbara Ehrenreich writes:

[…] I have been endeavoring to calculate just how many blue-collar men a T.A.N.F. [welfare] recipient needs to marry to lift her family out of poverty.

The answer turns out to be approximately 2.3, which is, strangely enough, illegal.

[…] If she’s serious, how exactly did she calculate that 2.3 figure? .…Some numbers: The 2004 government poverty line for a family of four is about $18,850. For a family of three it’s about $15,500. […] Even at the current minimum wage, a full-time worker earns $10,700 a year and an Earned Income Tax Credit of $2,500 (three person family) to $4,200 (four person family). Add in $4000-5,000 of food stamps and subsidized Medicaid or CHIP health care for the children, and you’re well above the poverty line even with a single breadwinner and a stay-at-home mom.

Kaus provides some possible alternative explanations, all of which rely on Ehrenreich making non-obvious hidden assumptions. My explanation is that she writes for the NY Times and is therefore not allowed to handle actual facts.

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Tiny violin time

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations has tried to play down claims that the UN envoy to the Middle East is banned from Palestinian territory.


Earlier, Palestinian officials said the UN’s Terje Roed-Larsen was “unwelcome” after he criticised the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.


A senior adviser to Mr Arafat, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said Mr Roed-Larsen had shown he could not be objective.

He described the envoy’s statement as “inaccurate and biased”.

The militant group, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades also said Mr Roed-Larsen was “banned” from Palestinian territory.

While saying no formal decision on a ban had been taken, Mr Kidwa said the earlier Palestinian comments were a reflection of “real” anger over Mr Roed-Larsen’s remarks.

“Several Palestinian statements were made to the effect that the Palestinian side is angry, and to the effect that Palestinian officials will not welcome Mr Larsen,” Mr Kidwa said, the AFP news agency reported.

Roed-Larsen ought to refuse to enter the West Bank or meet with Arafat until the al-Aqsa Brigade retracts the “ban” and guarantees his safety. After all, Arafat’s gang, Fatah, is fully responsible for the actions of the al-Aqsa Brigade.

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Recruiting suicide propagandists

[source, source]

ISM was founded by Israeli and Palestinian peace campaigners and leading members of the Palestinian Communist Party. It is run by Communist Party activist George Rishmawi and party politburo member Mustafa Barghouti.

Rishmawi said the ISM’s main purpose is to increase international awareness of Palestinian suffering through the involvement of foreign activists, who pay their own way to the West Bank, where they are trained in various methods of nonviolent direct action.

“When Palestinians get shot by Israeli soldiers, no one is interested anymore,” Rishmawi said. “But if some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice.”

ISM is the group Rachel Corrie was working for. The last paragraph puts her fate in perspective.

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Looking down on you from my knees

[source, source]

Bradford city councillor for Wisbey, Arthur Redfearn, drove a bus for children and adults with special needs.

But West Yorkshire Transport Service said it was “incompatible” for a BNP member to transport the mainly Asian passengers every day.

Note, as seems usual in the UK, no actual complaints. It’s the astonishing mixture of arrogance and subservience that strikes me most — one the one hand the fear of offering the tiniest offense and on the other the presumption that the enlightened know best what’s offensive.

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14 July 2004

Contributing to the common weal

[source, source]

Senator Edwards talks about the need to provide health care for all, but that didn’t stop him from using a clever tax dodge to avoid paying $591,000 into the Medicare system. While making his fortune as a trial lawyer in 1995, he formed what is known as a “subchapter S” corporation, with himself as the sole shareholder.

Instead of taking his $26.9 million in earnings directly in the following four years, he paid himself a salary of $360,000 a year and took the rest as corporate dividends. Since salary is subject to 2.9% Medicare tax but dividends aren’t, that meant he shielded more than 90% of his income. That’s not necessarily illegal, but dodging such a large chunk of employment tax skates perilously close to the line.

Now we know that the Democratic Party definition of “rich” has a cap somewhere below $26.9 million / year. I’ll admit bias in that my income is just a tad less than that.

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Free Trade expansion


The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a free trade agreement with Iraq war ally Australia on Wednesday, despite last-minute concerns the pact could hamper congressional efforts to allow imports of lower-priced medicine.

The House voted 314-109 to pass the United States’ first free trade agreement with a developed country since a 1989 deal with Canada. The Senate Finance Committee also voted 17-4 in favor of the agreement, setting the stage for a possible full Senate vote on Wednesday night.

Excellent news, but I’m wondering why the House is voting on a treaty. Is it just symbolic?

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Would they be willing to go to such a violent, lawless place?


Several members of the House of Representatives have requested the United Nations (news - web sites) to send observers to monitor the November 2 US presidential election to avoid a contentious vote like in 2000, when the outcome was decided by Florida.

Recalling the long, drawn out process in the southern state, nine lawmakers, including four blacks and one Hispanic, sent a letter Thursday to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asking that the international body “ensure free and fair elections in America,” according to a statement issued by Florida representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, who spearheaded the effort.

So if we have voting problems, the solution isn’t to fix the problems but to invite in “observers” from a haven of dictators and thugs to … well, to do what? I can’t see this as anything other than anti-American propaganda. I’m embarassed to have these people in our government.

Posted by orbital at 4:52 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

When an official pays out a bribe, he deserves to know it's to a real journalist

[source, source]

AS if crop-destroying monkeys, algal blooms suffocating fish stocks and illegal loggers plundering protected forests were not enough, Indonesia has a new plague - bogus journalists.

The imposters have been invading government offices and companies warning they will expose corruption or other wrongdoing if they are not paid a bribe.

News hounds this week rallied in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta to protest against the proliferation of fraudsters masquerading as working journalists.

I’m not sure this rates up with the monkey, algae and loggers — after all, these aren’t real journalists.

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I hope they meant to do that


China expressed mounting alarm about U.S. support for Taiwan on Tuesday and warned that continued arms sales to the island nation could endanger U.S.-Chinese relations.

China expressed mounting alarm about U.S. support for Taiwan on Tuesday and warned that continued arms sales to the island nation could endanger U.S.-Chinese relations.


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But we meant to do that!


The [UK] government is refusing to negotiate with the European Commission over plans to scrap the UK’s £2bn EU rebate, won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984.


But a British Government spokesman said: “This proposal is not negotiable.

“It is ludicrous and manifestly unfair to suggest doubling the UK’s share of the EU bill while leaving more than £6bn a year flowing into French coffers from farm subsidies.

I don’t see the spokeman’s point — he’s objecting to the very purpose of the EU.

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This is what happens when you don't pace yourself

[source, source]

The Palestinians challenged Israel on Monday to accept the world court’s ruling and destroy the barrier it is building to seal off the West Bank, warning that failure to do so will lead to “practical measures” against its construction.

Somehow, the threat of “practical” measures doesn’t quite measure up to the “psychotic death cult” measures that have been the modus operandi of the Palestinians.

Posted by orbital at 12:05 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

But they played the "get out of scrutiny" card!


I was listening to Fox just now, and they ran a report on summer camp for Palestinian children, at which instead of making lanyards and leather products, learning to swim or sail, and engaging in various sports, they are learning to sneak past Israeli checkpoints, and the virtues of dying for the Palestinian cause. […]

And then I recalled that people like Human Rights Watch have actually expressed concern about the use of children as soldiers. Surely, thought I, they will have had something to say about this?


Surely, I thought, now we’ll find out about all of this turning young Arab children into Jew-hating killbots.

Imagine my surprise again, to learn that they discuss:

  • Israel holding teenagers in the same prisons with adult men.
  • Israel using youth as informers against Hamas and Islamic Jihad
  • Israel allowing seventeen-year-olds to volunteer for the IDF
  • Arrest and interrogation of children suspected of throwing rocks, by (you guessed it) Israel

[…] as to the Palestinian summer camps […]

There was no evidence that the Palestinian Authority (PA) recruited or used child soldiers. […] During 2002, both Hamas and Islamic Jihad disavowed the use of children after under-18s were involved in suicide bombings and armed attacks on Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Well, I guess that settles it. I mean, if you can’t take the word of models of probity and honesty like Yasser Arafat, and the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, well, what’s the world coming to?

Posted by orbital at 11:48 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Political details

A political fundraiser in New Jersey has been indicted for hiring prostitutes to seduce and provide blackmail material against witnesses in a federal investigation of the fundraiser on other charges. What’s interesting is how much effort Big Media is going to in order to downplay the politicians and parties for which the fundraiser raised funds. CNN buries it in paragraph 13. Others don’t mention it at all. That’s because the politicians include Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, NJ Governor James McGreevey and Senator John Kerry. It’s a pretty mild indictment of those politicians but a big indictment of the reporting on the story in comparison the reporting on legal difficulties for any fundraiser supporting Republicans.

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Are you sure he works for the UN?


[U.N. Mideast envoy Terje] Roed-Larsen painted a grim picture of lawlessness in the Palestinian Authority, its failure to institute critical reforms, and he blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

He lamented that there was “no sign” of the bold leadership needed to tackle Palestinian reform and move toward peace.

“The Palestinian Authority, despite consistent promises by its leadership, has made no progress on its core obligation to take immediate action on the ground to end violence and combat terror, and to reform and reorganize the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

Roed-Larsen said the only explanation is “the lack of political will” to advance toward reform, which is critically needed in the security services.

I’m still waiting for the PA to stop sponsoring terror.

Posted by orbital at 9:21 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

13 July 2004

Pact? We don't need no stinkin' pact!


The European Court of Justice has annulled a decision by EU finance ministers to suspend action against Germany and France over budget deficits.

Giving its verdict on a case brought by the European Commission, the court said the ministers’ decision was not compatible with EU law.

Looks like the various anti-American factions are falling to fighting amongst themselves.

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12 July 2004

Only in dreams


Cuba has ordered a study of its military recruitment program, hoping to enlist more young men in the armed forces during a period in which authorities say they are increasingly concerned about a U.S.-led military attack.

Ah, if only!

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Let's not be speciest


The European Union knows the precise number of cows grazing its fields, but not the number of citizens in the 25 member states, its chief statistician has been quoted as saying.

There’s a difference?

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Auditor, audit thyself

The UN is now accusing the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq of havingshoddy accounting with regard to money spent on reconstructing Iraq. While I would like the USA to be more transparent about how the money was spent, it does seem a bit odd that a program the USA ran for just over a year gets this kind of scrutiny but the Oil For Graft Food program has yet to have public audit.

Posted by orbital at 7:41 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

We're not partisan, we just prefer a particular candidate

[source, source]

The media “wants Kerry to win” and so “they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic” and “there’s going to be this glow about” them, Evan Thomas, the Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, admitted on Inside Washington over the weekend. He should know. His magazine this week sports a smiling Kerry and Edwards on its cover with the yearning headline, “The Sunshine Boys?” Inside, an article carrying Thomas’ byline contrasted how “Dick Cheney projects the bleakness of a Wyoming winter, while John Edwards always appears to be strolling in the Carolina sunshine.”

No, no bias there.

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If it's defined to produce useless output, why keep it?


Tony Blair’s war case has suffered a fresh blow after MI6 took the rare step of withdrawing intelligence about Iraq’s WMD, the BBC has learned.

So Blair is in trouble because MI6 gave him bad information? Isn’t the lesson here that MI6 should be disbanded since no PM will ever be able to use its information again because it might be wrong and the PM, not MI6, will take the blame for that?

Posted by orbital at 8:47 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Sic transit gloria Alemania


an influential all-party committee of German MPs has recommended a mandatory speed limit of 130km/h (80mph) across the entire 7,000-mile autobahn network - and, for the first time, there seems to be enough popular support for the proposal to be approved by parliament.

Oh, truly this is a sad day. Why would Germany do such a thing?

Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker, the chairman of the German parliament’s environmental committee and a member of the Left-leaning Social Democratic Party, which leads Germany’s ruling coalition, said that the time was is right for change. “People can see that it makes sense in the face of rising fuel prices, and increasing concerns about the environment and public safety,” he said.

Ah, so that when the Germans pass from history they’ll leave behind a clean landscape.

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Everyone likes soft targets better

[source, source]

An increasing number of Saudis who crossed the border into Iraq to fight the U.S.-led military occupation are returning home to plot attacks against the Saudi government and Western targets in the desert kingdom, according to Western counterterrorism officials and Saudis with ties to militant groups.

Well, yeah — the Saudi security force shoot back a lot less often and accurately than the Coalition forces.

Posted by orbital at 8:37 AM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Clever or stupid? It's so hard to tell these days

[source, source]

At issue are the taxi vouchers the DNC wants to give to delegates arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport. Under the DNC’s proposal, taxi drivers would be required to accept the vouchers, worth $12 per passenger, in lieu of payment, even though the meter fare from Logan into the city, including tolls and an airport surcharge, is typically over $40. To add insult to injury, they’d then have to apply to the DNC to redeem the vouchers.

Soviet style central planning! One wonder why the DNC expects the cab driver to show up at the airport at all under this system. Is it all part of a clever plan to prevent any news coverage of the Democratic Party Convention, on the theory that the less people hear about Senator Kerry, the more likely they are to vote for him?

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10 July 2004

If only he'd dressed up as a Ba'ath torturer

[source, source, source]

One of the participants in Bainbridge Island’s annual Independence Day parade was Jason Gilson, a 23-year-old military veteran who was injured in the line of duty in Iraq. He wore his war medals and carried a sign indicating his support for President Bush—heresy on liberal Bainbridge Island. Upon seeing Gilson and his sign, the crowd booed and called him names including “murderer” and, yes, “baby killer.”

Hasn’t it been claimed that the reports of “murder” and “baby-killer” thrown at Vietnam veterans were just exaggerations? I suppose they’ll say that about this 20 years from now.

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LA Times decides to speak up and remove all doubt

[source, source]

[President George W. Bush] has declined to speak at the NAACP’s annual convention, which starts Saturday. Unless he changes his mind, this will make Bush the first president since Hoover not to attend a single NAACP convention during his presidency.

Why on earth not? Bush’s decision to boycott the NAACP is inexplicable as a matter of presidential leadership. And it is just as inexplicable as a matter of low, self-interested politics. We would accuse him of ulterior motives, but it is hard to think of any.


Not since Richard Nixon have a president’s motives been so hard to fathom.

I think we may have a winner in the 2004 Most Severe Reality Dysfunction category!

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Now there's a hole with no bottom

He says: [source, source]

There was no hug between “Fahrenheit 9/11” director Michael Moore and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle at the film’s June 23 premiere in Washington, D.C., Daschle said Thursday.

When asked about Moore’s account of a hug after the premiere and the criticism Daschle has received for it, the South Dakota Democrat said he and Moore did not embrace. […]

“I know we senators all tend to look alike. But I arrived late, and I had to leave early for Senate votes. I didn’t meet Mr. Moore,” Daschle said.

He says: [source, source]

Two weeks ago, at the Washington premiere, Moore sat a few rows behind Daschle. Afterward, says Moore, “he gave me a hug and said he felt bad and that we were all gonna fight from now on. I thanked him for being a good sport.”

Michael Moore vs. a leading Senator disagree — which one is more likely to be the liar?

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I didn't realize we'd officially announced we ruled the world

[source, source]

Attorney Curtis F.J. Doebbler has made an unusual appeal to the US Supreme Court on behalf of an unlikely client - Saddam Hussein.

Doebbler, the lone American on Saddam’s legal team, wants the high court to declare the detention of the ousted Iraqi president unconstitutional.

I’d be very curious as to how Doebbler plans to claim that US Constitution is relevant to the detention of an Iraqi citizen by the Iraqi government in Iraq.

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We were covering the essence, not the facts



WASHINGTON - A Senate report criticizing false CIA claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the same time provides support for an assertion the White House repudiated: that Iraq sought to buy uranium in Africa.

A Friday report from the Senate Intelligence Committee offers new details supporting the claim.

French and British intelligence separately told the United States about possible Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in the African nation of Niger, the report said. The report from France is significant not only because Paris opposed the Iraq war but also because Niger is a former French colony and French companies control uranium production there.

Joseph Wilson, a retired U.S. diplomat the CIA sent to investigate the Niger story, also found evidence of Iraqi contacts with Nigerien officials, the report said.

Hmm. That’s not what his Times oped said, is it? But wait, there’s more:

Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, dispatched by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq sought to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program with uranium from Africa, was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly. [emphasis added]

Read the whole thing, which also notes that Wilson’s public statements about what he found don’t match the record.

So it turns out that the anti-Bush factions and media simply “made stuff up”, as they say. And this is supposed to demonstrate that it’s President Bush and his supporters that have problems with the facts?

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09 July 2004

What, am I supposed to represent people of different races?

[source, source]

A kerfuffle broke out in California after Richard Riordan, the state’s secretary of education and a former Los Angeles mayor, made a stupid and rude comment to a little girl


Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally “scheduled a protest by civil rights organizations. . . . Dymally was quoted in the San Jose Mercury News Thursday saying the child was ‘a little African-American girl. Would he (Riordan) have done that to a white girl?’ “

It turns out, however, that Isis is a person of pallor—indeed, a blonde.

Dymally, who had issued a statement Wednesday calling Riordan’s remark “outrageous and irresponsible,” put out another statement yesterday, saying, “To err is human; to forgive divine”:

“Race is not a factor in this issue,” Dymally said in Thursday’s statement, adding that Riordan had apologized a second time. “It is time for us to move on.”

Hopefully the voters in her district will move on.

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Staying the course over the cliff


While acknowledging some risk of mismatching categories due to separate sources, it’s highly instructive to take the expenditures (in $m) by category and divide by the corresponding usage data. This will give an index of the relative costs of reaching an audience in the different media. This comes to roughly:
Comparative costs per viewer-hour
Cable TV17
Network TV55
The loser really sticks out, doesn’t it? Newspapers are way out of band on costs, and are flatlined or worse on their audience.

Not that newspaper should or would compromise their coverage to appeal to readers! Journalists will sacrifice whatever readers it takes to be true to their beliefs.

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08 July 2004

BBC claims death cult wide spread in Arabia

[source, source]

Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi achieved a star status with the emergence of the Qatari satellite channel, Al-Jazeera, several years ago.


He has distanced himself from suicide attacks in the West but he has consistently defended Palestinian suicide attacks against Israelis.

Recently he told Al-Jazeera that he was not alone in believing that suicide bombings in Palestinian territories were a legitimate form of self defence for people who have no aircraft or tanks.

He said hundreds of other Islamic scholars are of the same opinion. In this respect, he is very much in tune with what the vast majority of people in the Arab world believe.

Defending suicide bombings that target Israeli civilians Sheikh A-Qaradawi told the BBC programme Newsnight that “an Israeli woman is not like women in our societies, because she is a soldier.

“I consider this type of martyrdom operation as an evidence of God’s justice.

“Allah Almighty is just; through his infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have and and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do”.

So the BBC is claiming that support for suicide bombing is widespread among Muslims? That’s somewhat different than their usual claim of a “Religion of Peace”. I also find it bizarre that A-Qaradawi thinks that Israelis are not capable of “turning their bodies in to bombs”. I’m sure they could, but why would they when they have missiles and artillery? It’s a sign of “infinite wisdom” to give the Palestinians a savage yet inferior weapon?

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Ooooh, that's gotta hurt


If the new Moore-standard says you can be a force for good even if you argue through half-truths, guilt-by-association and innuendo, then the case against Joe McCarthy evaporates entirely. He did, after all, have the larger truths on his side.

Johah Goldberg,

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Is it simply never in France’s interest to oppose mass murdering oppressive regimes?


France says it does not support US plans for international sanctions on Sudan if violence continues in Darfur.


[junior French Foreign Minister Renaud] Muselier also dismissed claims of “ethnic cleansing” or genocide in Darfur.

“I firmly believe it is a civil war and as they are little villages of 30, 40, 50, there is nothing easier than for a few armed horsemen to burn things down, to kill the men and drive out the women,” he said.

So the French position is because it’s easy to do this, it’s not a problem?

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At a Jerusalem press conference, actress Vanessa Redgrave, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, accused the IDF of deliberately firing at Palestinian school children. Said Redgrave, ”Any Palestinian mother or schoolchild knows that a schoolchild who is dressed in the uniform can be and is frequently shot in the head — not in the chest, not in the legs, in the head.”

Seems like the standard sort of completely unsubstantiated blood libel you’d expect from the UN.

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07 July 2004

The real battleground


Secular politicians in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province are protesting at an extension of Sharia law they say will “Talebanise” society.

The Islamic alliance that runs the province is preparing the Hisbah bill, which would enshrine observance of strict Islamic codes in people’s lives.

Maybe it’s a long range plan to get reconstruction funds from the USA.

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Don't be bumping my satellites!

China aims to send a spacecraft to the Moon in three years’ time, the head of the country’s space agency, Sun Laiyan, has confirmed to the BBC.


Mr Sun made no secret of China’s ambition to become the next space superpower.

The Moon was a major target, he said, and the first mission should take place before Beijing hosts the Olympic Games in four years’ time.

“First, we’ll try to send an unmanned spacecraft there in 2007,” he explained.

Is this a new era for Chinese exploration or a repeat of the isolationism of the 1400s?

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African priorities


The NGOs were back for the UN African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (this time in Cape Town). While participants talked about taking action against Israel, we wonder if this recent report in Ethiopia’s Addis Tribune about Israeli agricultural assistance will have any impact on the NGOs.

If only these people could get this worked up about the situation in Sudan or even Zimbabwe. But I suppose those Africans, unlike the Palestinians, have no inalienable rights to their homes, food and lives.

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Eyes bigger than your budget


Only $366 million has been spent of the $18.4 billion President Bush and Congress provided last fall for rebuilding Iraq, a White House report showed Friday.

That’s just pathetic. Either Bush asked for too much money or the CPA royally screwed up using it. Of course, as others have noted, no small part of this is because of the political climate in the USA where any “waste” is immediately publicized as impeachable incompetence or vile conspiracy. It’s another symptom of our ‘intellectual’ class to realize we’re at war and in war, speed matters much more than effeciency.

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06 July 2004

African leaders take tentative step toward relevance


The African Union executive council has adopted a report highly critical of Zimbabwe’s human rights record.

Are some things too much even for the solidarity of African kleptocracies?

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Factoid of the day

[source, source]

there are more Arab MPs in Israel [than in France]

Arabs are about 8-10% of the population in France. But remember, it’s Israel that’s running an apartheid state.

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Oh, Canada!

[source, source]

[Dateline: Canada] Dubbed “Youth Vote 2004”, the polls, sponsored by the Dominion Institute and Navigator Ltd. were taken with a view to getting more young people involved in the political process.

In one telephone poll of teens between the ages of 14 and 18, over 40 per cent of the respondents described the United States as being “evil”. That number rose to 64 per cent for French Canadian youth.

This being Canada, the amount of anti-Americanism that was found is not surprising. What is significant is the high number of teens who used the word “evil” to describe our southern neighbour. As Misty Harris pointed out in her column in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, evil is usually associated with serial killers and “kids who tear the legs off baby spiders.” These teens appear to equate George W. Bush and Americans with Osama bin Laden and Hitler, although it is unknown if the teens polled would describe the latter two as being evil. Whether someone who orders planes to be flown into heavily populated buildings would fit that description would make a good subject for a future poll.

That’s probably because bin Laden and Hitler were supporters of nationalized health care, and by what other measure can one judge the level of civilization in a nation? The only reason the people in the World Trade Center died is because they had to rely on the gross inadequate American health care system, right?

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Depends on what the meaning of "documentary" is


Michael Moore’s record certainly didn’t last long. The Associated Press reports that the new documentary “Spider-Man 2” took in $40.5 million in its first day, far more than the $24.1 million “Fahrenheit 9/11” earned in an entire week.

OK, we know some will dispute our characterization of “Spider-Man 2” as a documentary. But hey, it tells essential truths, doesn’t it?

Yeah, every single bit in the computer generated graphics is a real bit with a real truth value.

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05 July 2004

Lead me in to temptation

[source, source]

[Egyptian security chief Omar Suleiman] called upon Israel to allow the Palestinians to open an airport and seaport in order to allow the Palestinians to prevent weapons smuggling.

And I should let my son play with matches so he can avoid being an arsonist?

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Testing the waters



The militant Shiite cleric whose uprising last April left hundreds dead pledged Sunday to resist “oppression and occupation” and calling the new interim Iraq government “illegitimate”.


We pledge to the Iraqi people and the world to continue resisting oppression and occupation to our last drop of blood,” al-Sadr said. “Resistance is a legitimate right and not a crime to be punished.”


The spokesman for militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (search) tempered threats to continue fighting Monday, saying his movement only planned to wage “peaceful resistance” against the interim government.

There are accusations of Sadr flip flopping, but I think it’s simpler. He’s just testing limits by running out inflammatory statements to see if he can gain ground with them. If not, they’re withdrawn. In a region with very selective long term memory, it’s usually a successful ploy.

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The wages of restraint

[source, source]

Iraq’s justice minister says that even the life of the trial judge is now under threat after Robert Fisk of the Independent, together with other anti-war newspapers from the Arab world, blithely published his name, having ignored an explicit request not to do so.

While Fisk is demonstrating that he’s willing to actively collaborate with the fallen Ba’ath regime, the real question remains - why is he still a privileged journalist with access to information like this? This is what people mean when they say that the Caliphascists can’t defeat the West, the West must surrender.

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04 July 2004

Accept no substitutes


Mahadad, 38, is one of the 12 survivors of last week’s bomb attack by Taliban on a bus that was carrying women election workers and a child near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. Two of the women and the child were killed in the explosion.

They had been on their way to a registration site to hand out identification cards to women which would allow them to vote in the coming autumn elections.

OK, that’s what a real dark night of fascism looks like for all the hyperbolic gits here in the USA.

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Factions are us


Russia’s communists in disarray

Rival congresses of the Russian Communist Party are being held in Moscow on Saturday. Correspondents are forecasting an official split in the successor to the party which has dominated Russian politics for much of the last century.

On Thursday, opponents of party leader Gennady Zyuganov said they had voted him out of office and appointed Ivanovo region governor Vladimir Tikhonov.

But Mr Zyuganov refuses to stand down, saying most party members support him.

I’ll bet this just breaks the BBC’s heart. But it’s still funny that a Communist party leader is relying on vote counting to claim legitimacy. Isn’t he the vanguard of the proletariat?

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02 July 2004

No actual complaints but we must keep ahead

[source, source]

A Fifa [international soccer association] sub-committee will re-instate the rule that the removal of shirts in celebration will be a mandatory cautionable offence.

The law was relaxed a couple of years ago but football’s governing body is set to approve a proposal that the celebration must be punished by a yellow card.

Some critics might argue Fifa is taking away the joy of scoring a goal, but there are other considerations.

Football is televised worldwide and Muslim countries find it offensive to see bare chests.

But the beer / wine commercials aren’t a problem?

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Swedish priorities

[source, source]

A Swedish court has sentenced a pastor belonging to the Pentecostal movement in Sweden, Ake Green, to a month in prison, under a law against incitement, after he was found guilty of having offended homosexuals in a sermon. Soren Andersson, the president of the Swedish federation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights (RFSL), said on hearing the sentence that religious freedom could never be used as a reason to offend people. “Therefore,” he told journalists, “I cannot regard the sentence as an act of interference with freedom of religion.” During a sermon in 2003, Green described homosexuality as “abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society”.

Yeah, it’s wrong to use religious freedom to offend people. Kill them perhaps, but not offend.

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EUlite supports its friends

Two standards:

For those accused of collaborating with Israel:

Palestinian militants publicly executed an accused collaborator with Israel with machineguns in a West Bank town square on Friday after a throng of Palestinian onlookers called for him to die.

For mass murdering dicators:

The 25-member European Union intends to let Iraq know of its opposition to the death penalty in all cases – even those involving allegations of genocide or crimes against humanity.

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There was a sale over in the next camp...


Sudanese government officials emptied a camp of thousands of refugees hours before UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) was to arrive here Thursday, preventing him from meeting some of the hardest-hit victims of the humanitarian crisis in the province of Darfur.

“There may have been 3,000 to 4,000 people here as of 5 p.m. yesterday,” UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said as he gazed upon the empty camp at Mashtel. “Now, as you can see, no one is here. I can’t imagine they spontaneously moved.”

Those UN types - so perceptive! But somehow they don’t seem to perceive the open contempt the Khartoum regime is demonstrating. I’m sure that this latest affront will draw a strongly worded response, before the UN drops the incident down the memory hole and starts negotiating again.

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01 July 2004

It didn't work last time, so why not try it again?


UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said refugees from Sudan’s troubled Darfur region will not have to return home without guarantees of protection.

“Nobody is going to force you to go home,” Mr Annan said during a visit to a refugee camp in northern Darfur.

How generous of Annan! I mean, the UN never forced the refugees from the 1948 war of the founding of Israel to return and how look well things turned out for them!

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But we tried to talk to them

Women survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia have demonstrated to demand compensation for the failure of Dutch peacekeepers to protect the town.


One of the demonstrators, Sahabeta Fejzic, told AFP news agency that she last saw her son during the storming of Srebrenica in July 1995.

She says Bosnian Serb forces wrenched her son from her as Dutch peacekeepers stood by.

But if the Dutch forces had defended Sebrenica, there would probably be a group of Serbs suing for compensation for any injuries caused during the defense. Such are the wages of victimology.

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