31 May 2005

But it's not about us!


These anti-poverty wristbands are so authentic you can almost imagine poor starving workers making them!

Fashionable wristbands worn by pop stars, actors, top athletes and celebrities to publicise the Make Poverty History campaign are produced in appalling “slave labour” conditions, damning evidence has revealed.

Chinese factory workers producing the white rubber bracelets are forced to toil in conditions that violate Chinese law and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) set up to establish international standards for working conditions.

The revelations are laid bare in sensitive “ethical audits” of factories that make the must-have fashion accessories for the national Make Poverty History campaign begun by a partnership of over 400 charities …

A leading executive in one British charity also condemned the revelations as “deeply shocking”. He went on to blame Oxfam, Christian Aid and Cafod of “rank hypocrisy” for dealing with sweat shops while calling for fair and ethical trade.

Rank hypocrisy is a caring celebrity staple. I’m no fair-trade idiot, but how bad must working conditions be if they violate Chinese law? Stephen Pollard has more on the Make Pathetic History campaign.

Blair’s exactly right. What else would one expect from the same set that flies private jets to anti-consumer feasts?

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27 May 2005

It's all about your behavior, not mine


What Peace Means to the Egyptian Government:

This Egyptian government website, which my wife stumbled upon by chance, tells an amazingly distorted story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general, and the history of Jerusalem in particular. Of particular note is this page on the “history” of Jerusalem. It starts with the assertion that “[a]ll along human history, Jerusalem has always been an Arab Palestinian city”—quite a feat given that Palestine didn’t exist as a geographic entity until Roman times, and then only briefly until the 20th century, and, as the page itself later notes, the Arabs didn’t invade Jerusalem until the 7th century—and goes downhill from there (e.g., “[in] 600 years BC, the political history of the Jews had ended in Palestine”—guess that Hasmonean dynasty was just Josephus’s imagination). Egypt, remember, is at “peace” with Israel. I’d hate to see what lies and distortions the government’s website would come up with if they were still at war.

I’m not sure it would be any different if Egypt was at war with Israel, as the primary effect of the “peace” is

  • Egypt gets huge amounts of American money
  • Israel isn’t allowed to blow the Egyptian military in to tiny little pieces

It certainly doesn’t seem to restrain Egypt in any way.

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You can no longer make this stuff up

[source, source]

A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.


The study found links between easy access to domestic knives and violent assault are long established.

Is there no mockery so ridiculous that the forces of nanny-fascism won’t eventually catch up?

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26 May 2005

It was important to us!

[source, source]

The first lady, who was encouraged to visit Israel by her husband, was greeted by about 20 protesters as she walked along the huge plaza before entering the Dome of the Rock, one of the Muslim world’s holiest shrines.

As noted, “wow, 20 protestors!”. One wonders how many of them were paid by the news organizations doing the reports. And of course, this is big news, deserving the headline “Protesters overshadow Laura Bush’s Mideast tour”. Insert “the New York Times’ view of” and it would be accurate.

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Again, from the top, and try to get it right this time

[source, source]

France and the Netherlands should re-run their referendums to obtain the “right answer” if their voters reject Europe’s constitutional treaty in imminent national ballots, Jean-Claude Juncker, the holder of the EU presidency, said on Wednesday.

So the whole referendum thing is more of an instructional than electoral nature, designed to teach the peasants their proper place?

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25 May 2005

We don't count tax revenues in our cost basis

[source, source, source]

For a price tag of $621 million, Luberoff shows, based on 2004 state estimates, these [mass transit] projects would eliminate no more pollutants than could be accomplished by giving tune-ups to a couple of hundred automobiles that don’t meet current emissions standards. ”In fact,” he writes, ”the state [of Massachusetts] probably could identify and replace each of those 200 cars with a Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle for about $5 million, which is less than 1 percent of the cost of the three transit projects.”

The pollution and congestion has always been a pretext, not an issue.

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Will their entourages fit in the building?

[source, source]

San Francisco has the smallest share of small-fry of any major U.S. city. Just 14.5 percent of the city’s population is 18 and under.

It is no mystery why U.S. cities are losing children. The promise of safer streets, better schools and more space has drawn young families away from cities for as long as America has had suburbs.

But kids are even more scarce in San Francisco than in expensive New York (24 percent) or in retirement havens such as Palm Beach, Fla., (19 percent), according to Census estimates. […]

Determined to change things, Mayor Gavin Newsom has put the kid crisis near the top of his agenda, appointing a 27-member policy council to develop plans for keeping families in the city.

“A 27-member policy council” – yeah, that’ll get something fixed in a hurry. I suppose in San Francisco seriousness is judged by the number of people on the committee. Or did it have to be that big to be properly inclusive?

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24 May 2005

Crimes of office

[[“source”;http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/printstory.mpl/metropolitan/3188696], source

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who denies partisan motives for his investigation of a political group founded by Republican leader Tom DeLay, was the featured speaker last week at a Democratic fund-raiser where he spoke directly about the congressman.

A newly formed Democratic political action committee, Texas Values in Action Coalition, hosted the May 12 event in Dallas to raise campaign money to take control of the state Legislature from the GOP, organizers said.


“This case is not just about Tom DeLay. If it isn’t this Tom DeLay, it’ll be another one, just like one bully replaces the one before,” Earle said.

So it’s nothing personal , Earle is prosecuting DeLay for being Republican while in office.

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I learned technicalities from the master

[source, source]

Howard Dean, national chairman of the Democratic Party, said Tuesday that he thinks House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has committed crimes that could put the Republican in jail.

DeLay’s office fought back with Dean’s own words from the 2004 presidential campaign. The former Vermont governor had maintained that even terrorist leader Osama bin Laden should not be pre-judged if captured.

“I’ve resisted pronouncing a sentence before guilt is found,” Dean said during the 2004 Democratic primary campaign. “I still have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials.”

I suppose Dean will claim that he’s not in a position of executive power, something for which we can all be grateful.

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Oh horrors, not that!

[source, source]

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that’s all I’m saying. But, no, you’re absolutely right, it’s not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report.…

Q Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you’re saying here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, let me finish my sentence. Our military —

Q You’ve already said what you’re — I know what — how it ends.

Yes, what could be worse from Old Media’s point of view than writing about how great the American military is?

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Eventually I'll be so far behind I'll be ahead

Sorry for the extreme unpostingness but I’m now working seriously on my start up and just don’t spend the time reading the blogosphere like I used to.

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13 May 2005

Anti-democratic caucus

[source, source]

Of course everyone wants to nourish oases of civil society in the deserts of despotism. So why bother with all these vacuous “Yay for freedom” acts? Aren’t they kinda like resolving, “We love our Moms”? Shouldn’t it go without saying that every member of Congress favors democrats over dictators?

Yes, it should. But then there’s Cuba. To endorse the sociopolitical spadework of Cuban democrats is, of course, to rebuke Fidel Castro. And that, apparently, is too much for a handful of House Democrats—and one Republican—to stomach.

On Tuesday, the House passed a measure first introduced by Miami-area congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American Republican. HR 193 expressed support for the Assembly to Promote the Civil Society in Cuba, an umbrella structure of over 360 dissident and civil society groups led by economist Marta Beatriz Roque. […]

The legislation passed with 392 supporters—and 22 opponents.

Those voting “nay” included the following Democrats: Reps.

  • John Conyers (Mich.)
  • Sam Farr (Calif.)
  • Maurice Hinchey (N.Y.)
  • Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Ohio)
  • Carolyn Kilpatrick (Mich.)
  • Dennis Kucinich (Ohio)
  • Barbara Lee (Calif.)
  • Jim McDermott (Wash.)
  • Cynthia McKinney (Ga.)
  • Gregory Meeks (N.Y.)
  • George Miller (Calif.)
  • John Olver (Mass.)
  • Donald Payne (N.J.)
  • Charlie Rangel (N.Y.)
  • José Serrano (N.Y.),
  • Pete Stark (Calif.)
  • Edolphus Towns (N.Y.)
  • Tom Udall (N.M.)
  • Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.)
  • Maxine Waters (Calif.)
  • Lynn Woolsey (Calif.).

Kind of the who’s who of Congressional idiots. But I’m not surprised — of the names I recognize here, none support liberty in the USA, so why would they support it in a foreign country?

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06 May 2005

No tip for you!


I’m an admirer of Blair, but the voters basically handed Howard the head of Tony Blair on a platter, and he took one look at it and asked: “Did I order that?”

Matt Murphy

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05 May 2005

EU Constitution – even worse the McCain-Feingold


The EU, though, now threatens free speech in Britain. The threat derives from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, acclaimed by EU leaders at the Nice Summit in December 2000, and now part of the draft EU constitution proposed by the Constitutional Convention presided over by M. Giscard d’Estaing. The Charter contains an implicit list of subjects that EU citizens have no right to talk about.

This result comes about through Article 54, the final article of the Charter. Article 54 says (in its entirety):

Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as implying any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognised in this Charter or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for herein.

Any activity … any act. A speech that is critical of one of the rights recognised by the Charter must surely be an act or activity aimed at the destruction or limitation of that right; a fortiori if the speaker expressly urges that the right be rescinded or limited. A newspaper or magazine article to the same effect must also be such an act-if it is not, what is?

Nothing in this Charter. Article 54 therefore trumps Article 11, which grants EU citizens a “right to freedom of expression” and provides that they should be free “to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers”. Article 11 should be annotated to say that its pretty sentiments apply only to ideas that don’t challenge the content of the Charter.

Here we see the true source of terror for modern politicians — the idea that masses might talk back to their betters. As with the McCain-Feingold campaign finance “reform”, the essential thrust is to prevent independent discussion of contentious issues. The EU Constitution is, astonishingly, far more straight forward and honest about it than McCain-Feingold.

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Remember Vietnam

Ejecting American imperialists out of the country: 2 million dead

Building communist utopia: 1 million refugees, hundreds of thousands of “reeducated” political prisoners, basic human rights suppressed, economy ruined while the rest of Asia is thriving

Admitting after three decades that your stupid communist policies have failed and the experiment is just about over: priceless.

Arthur Chrenkoff

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I try to be cynical but it's hard to keep up


This FrontPage article accuses Jane Christensen, the 9/11 conspirozoid teaching at a North Carolina University, of being a Holocaust denier. I did a little googling and found this e-mail exchange between Christensen and fellow conspirofreak Mark Robinowitz (editor of oilempire.us, a website ugly enough to make your eyes bleed), who condemns her for linking to Holocaust deniers and blatant anti-Semites on her faculty homepage. Christensen’s response? “I rather think the ‘Holocaust’ denial sites have a great deal of credibility since the ‘Holocaust’ was the greatest hoax of all.”

If you aren’t intellectually honest enough for the people who run creepy 9/11 conspirozoid sites, there will still be a place for you at North Carolina Wesleyan University, I guess.

Yet if you put this kind of thing in a Tom Wolf book, he’d be accused of being too heavy handed in his satire.

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03 May 2005

With a whimper, not a bang

[source, source]

US-led forces have recovered a letter they believe was addressed to Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi complaining about low morale among his followers and the incompetence of leaders in his terror network, the military said today. […]

But it also speaks of low morale, weakening support for the insurgency, and the incompetence of many militant leaders, the statement said.

Well, that would seem to be the point of an attritional strategy. There may be an unlimited supply of jihadis, but there’s far from an unlimited supply of competent ones. This is a factor that has destroyed military organizations far more impressive than the Caliphascists, were constant combat losses of trained personal drags down the overall competence of the organization and the troops in the field continue to make the same mistakes their predecessors did. Unfortunately it’s a slow and gradual effect, without any grand, final battle to put an end to it.

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Only the self-blinded are surprised

[source, source]

President Chavez once again affirmed that his government is taking Venezuela towards socialism, a socialism that still needed to be constructed for the 21st Century. Rival May Day marches took place again in Caracas and ended without incident.

“It is impossible that we will achieve our goals with capitalism, nor is it possible to find an intermediate path… I invite all of Venezuela to march on the path of socialism of the new century. We must construct a new socialism of the 21st century,” said Chavez his speech at the end of the traditional May 1st workers’ day march.

Chavez had just returned from Cuba earlier that day, where his government and that of Cuba signed 49 cooperation agreements. In allusion to his visit, Chavez said that the Cuban revolution “vibrates to the same rhythm” as Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution and that the changes have just barely begun.

I’m sure that the pro-dictator factions will say that “21st Century” Socialism will be all the good parts of 20th Century Socialism without all that mass murder, ecological devastation and economic failure.

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