20 February 2006

If free health care for librarians was part of the legislation, would they support the Patriot Act?

[source, source]

To hear the ALA talk, librarians are the last bulwark defending our most cherished civil liberties against government assault. Yet two recent examples show again that self-anointed guardians of the public good can be very selective about the people, and rights, they choose to protect.

One example came from Newton, Mass., on Jan. 18, after someone used a public-library computer to email a terrorist-attack threat to Brandeis University. Many school buildings were evacuated, and FBI agents rushed to the library hoping to track down the email sender in time to prevent an attack. Once there, however, they were held off for some nine hours by library director Kathy Glick-Weil—because they didn’t have a warrant. Newton’s mayor later praised Ms. Glick-Weil for “protecting the sense of privacy of many, many innocent users of the computers.” More important, it seems, than protecting the lives of many, many innocent people who could have died if the threat had turned out to be imminent.

More revealing than a single librarian’s awful judgment is the ALA’s forked tongue when it claims to defend all library freedoms. Since 1998, Cuban authorities have arrested and imprisoned citizens who operate “independent libraries,” and destroyed their collections. Often based in houses, these libraries provide books and other information, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, considered criminal by the Communist dictatorship.

Human-rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have condemned the repression and called for the librarians’ release. Yet the ALA refuses to even acknowledge their suffering Cuban counterparts. It apparently accepts the Cuban government’s assertion that “the dissidents” don’t qualify as librarians and that freedom of information flourishes on the island.

A cat jumped out of the bag at the ALA’s January meeting in San Antonio, though, when keynote speaker and Romanian-born author Andrei Codrescu blasted the organization for abandoning the independent librarians. “Is this the same American Library Association that stands against censorship and for freedom of expression everywhere?” To add insult to injury for apoplectic ALA leaders, a subsequent informal poll of the rank-and-file in an electronic newsletter suggested that 75% want the organization to stand up for the Cubans.

On Sunday, ALA President Michael Gorman emailed the newsletter’s editor to say that “we would be better off without these polls.”

One is left struck at the irony of a librarian saying that what we need is less information.

Posted by orbital at 7:33 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

But they sure talk purty, don't they?

[source, source]

Just yesterday, Hamas came into power. As I noted, its first order of business was to indemnify itself — rhetorically, if not legally — from the obligations of Oslo, and to assert that, no, the nation of Israel does not have the right to exist in this world.


Can you guess what the second order of business was? That’s right: to condemn Israel’s decision to cease sending cash to the Palestinian Authority.

The ony question here is how long it will be before Europe (and later, US Secretary of State Rice) will start pressuring Israel to fork over the money as a “confidence building” measure. While lots of noise will be made about the PA promising to recognize Israel, in the end the PA will just promise to look at the issue once Israel fills their coffers. Afterwards, like the PLO charter, nothing will be changed and no pressure exerted on the PA or Hamas.

Posted by orbital at 6:07 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

But he promises free health care!

[source, source]

Hugo Chavez has had a bad week. Everywhere he went, he found protests, except this time they were all protests by his supporters, not by opposition groups. And much like when the opposition held protests against him, Chavez showed his intolerance towards dissent, telling them to shut up in the name of the revolution and respect for him.

As farmers posted themselves all week in front of the Presidential Palace in protest, Chavez went around the country only to find the same, more protests. In Zulia, it was people asking for homes. The protetsers held placards asking to talk to him. But all they found was the President‘s ire. He told them the “leader? was talking and asked them to shut up. The scene occurred twice more during the week. Once he threatened to leave if people kept protesting. During the other, students protested and Chavez told them, once more, to shut up or he would simply leave.

Meanwhile, in the pro-Chavez area of Catia, in the West of Caracas, public transportation stopped for a full day, as drivers protested the death of another driver by criminals. As the President of the National Assembly accused the CIA of generating the protests, the head of the Catia public transportation union, said he did not know anyone from the CIA and challenged the President of the Assembly to even walk in Catia without bodyguards, guaranteeing that he would be robbed.

Any bets on whether this gets in to Old Media?

Posted by orbital at 5:34 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Hearts and minds

Here’s a PDF of a letter sent from the mayor of the Iraqi city of Tall’afar, thanking the 3rd Regiment for what has done in that city. In addition, the mayor wants the 3rd to stay on in the city. This has, of course, not been reported in Old Media. One can only imagine the reporting should the letter been a curse.

More here.

Posted by orbital at 11:14 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

It's all unnatural

There is no women’s ski jump competition in the Olympic Games.

Why not?

The International Ski Federation has ruled that ski jumping is too dangerous for women, making it the only winter Olympic sport that has male competitors and no female counterparts.

“It’s like jumping down from, let’s say, about two meters on the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view,” the federation’s president Gian Franco Kasper said on National Public Radio.

I would agree that I see it as not appropriate for women. But I also see it as inappropriate for men as well. Beyond that, given the amounts of sports injuries in other sports such as women’s figure skating, this argument doesn’t seem very persuasive.

Posted by orbital at 11:10 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

But we're not questioning his patriotism


The Democratic Party has undertaken an organized campaign to drive Col. Stephenson, two fellow servicemen and the families of servicemen who were killed in Iraq off the airways. The Democratic Party has officially pronounced that Col. Stephenson and his ads are “un-American.” That such a thing could happen is almost beyond belief—a Marine officer with more than ten years of active duty labeled “un-American” for supporting America’s foreign policy—but it is nevertheless true.

Listen to Col. Stephenson and the two ads and judge for yourself whether they are “un-American.”

Let’s see now. One is not allowed to support the invasion of Iraq if one has not served there (the “chickenhawk” argument). Now we have the other rule, one is not allowed to support the invasion of Iraq if one did serve there. So much for the “absolute moral authority” of people who have made sacrifices.

Posted by orbital at 10:33 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL