Post No Bills
Welcome to the Me Show.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
 
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Rev. and Mrs. Moon:
    Photo

    This is a photo of them at the recent "Ambassadors for Peace" awards ceremony which was held in the Dirkson Senate Building in Washington D.C. The ceremony was presented by the Moon-sponsored Interreligious and International Peace Council and Moon gave the keynote address (I don't think he was wearing his crown at the time). The event was apparently attended by members of both houses of Congress. Atrios and John Gorenfeld have drawn our attention to the part of his speech in which he claims that in the spirit world, Hitler and Stalin have learned peace from his teachings. I draw your attention to the crowns and robes. For more on the Moonies, follow the link.
     

  • Tuesday, March 30, 2004
     
  • More Wal-mart insidiousness. Via Eschaton and Jesus' General, we learn of Wal-Mart's refusal to carry Robert Greenwald's superb documentary, "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War".
    Anderson Merchandising, the company that picks the movies that are sold in the retail chain, has told the distributor of the movie that the film is inappropriate for Wal-Mart.

    The decision is a form of censorship because Wal-Mart is one of the largest outlets in terms of CD and DVD sales, and is often the only retail source in smaller communities.

    We have to recognize that corporations serve the public good. They are not merely the creatures of their shareholders.
     

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  • Wal-mart works its insidious destruction of society in many different ways. Here is one example. Skim through the page and read the "Why I am selling this" bit near the bottom. Via Who would buy that?
     

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  • That didn't take long. Not that anyone thought it would (although I have to say, I did think China might beat Russia to the punch.)
    Russia has designed a “revolutionary” weapon that would make the prospective American missile defence useless, Russian news agencies reported Monday, quoting a senior Defence Ministry official. ... Military analysts said that the mysterious new weapons could be a manoeuvrable ballistic missile warhead or a hypersonic cruise missile.

    While Mr. Putin said the development of such new weapons wasn't aimed against the United States, most observers viewed the move as Moscow's retaliation to the U.S. missile defence plans.

    (source)

    It is so painfully obvious that the answer to the multi-billion dollar missile shield program is going to be a big bag of microwave popcorn or something equally cheap and simple. It's...so...god...damned...stupid!
     

  • Monday, March 29, 2004
     
  • Bad headline.

    Police found the body of Cecilia Zhang and The Globe and Mail declared After months of agony, family's ordeal finally ends. Somehow, I doubt it is over for them.
     

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  • Canadian politics gets all Soprano.
    Alain Richard [formerly of Groupaction] says he agreed to testify before the House of Commons public accounts committee last Wednesday [about political interference in sponsorship deals]. At 4 a.m. the next morning, he heard his doorbell.

    No one was there, but "on my doorknob was a letter that said if you talk too much, you will die."
     

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  • Un-freakin' believable. To my mind, the fact that John Kerry, a liberal Democrat, is quoting scripture is a victory for the Christian right.
    "The Scriptures say, what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" Kerry said. "When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?"

    It's good insofar as it helps regular Christians see that Bush's Christianity is a sham, but it's bad insofar as it validates relgious, and especially Christian, discourse as legitimate in the public political sphere. Not that Chrisitianity is any better or worse than an alternative religious discourse, but rather having any particular religion as the legitimate source of political authority is inherently intolerant. That's how I see things, but what about the scions of the Christian right?
    Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Kerry's comment "was beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack."

    These people are truly unreal.
    Via Blah3.
     

  • Friday, March 26, 2004
     
  • This past weekend, the Robotics Society of America hosted its first Robolympics competition in San Francisco.
    The robo-athletes in San Francisco came in all shapes and sizes. And they came from 11 different nations, including Japan, Germany and Canada.

    The event ... included robot football, maze-solving and even sumo wrestling. ... The competitions seemed to break down along cultural lines. The Japanese robots reigned supreme when it came to sumo-wrestling, while the European teams showed off their skills on the football pitch.

    As for the American machines, they specialised in demolishing the living hell out of each other in one-on-one robot combat.


     

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  • Via Wonkette, the Sloganator slide show, or if you prefer, Sloganator PDFs. In case you haven't yet encountered the (now deceased) Sloganator, it was an internet-based service of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign that let internet-users create custom Bush/Cheney posters. Lucky for us, the entertaining readers of Wonkette took full advantage of this public service.
     

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  • Why has no one taught him how to turn his neck?
    Photo

    Always with the shifty eyes...
     

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  • How a bill becomes a stupid law:
    ATLANTA — Genital piercings for women were banned by the Georgia House Wednesday as lawmakers considered a bill outlining punishments for female genital mutilation (search).

    The bill would make such mutilation punishable by two to 20 years in prison. It makes no exception for people who give consent to have the procedure performed on their daughters out of religious or cultural custom.

    An amendment adopted without objection added "piercing" to the list of things that may not be done to female genitals. Even adult women would not be allowed to get the procedure. The bill eventually passed 160-0, with no debate.

    Amendment sponsor Rep. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, was slack-jawed when told after the vote that some adults seek the piercings.

    "What? I've never seen such a thing," Heath said. "I, uh, I wouldn't approve of anyone doing it. I don't think that's an appropriate thing to be doing."

    The ban applies only to women, not men. The bill has already been approved by the Senate but now must return to that chamber because of the piercing amendment (search).


    (from Fox news) (via Pandagon)

    I love that the folks at Fox thought this occasion merited a perfectly precise quotation of Heath including the "uh". Really, the moral of the story is contained in that "uh".
     

  • Wednesday, March 24, 2004
     
  • Scott McClellan:
    He said, I don't want to be swatting at flies, we need a comprehensive strategy to eliminate al Qaeda.

    That's just the latest "swatting at flies" reference. Despire his penchant for malapropisms, I'd wager $10 that if the truth of Bush's "swatting at flies" statement ever comes out, the "flies" are al-Qaeda. To swat at flies is to go after small targets. It's possible that Bush meant he wanted to stop doing useless surveillance or that he wanted to stop targeting the bit players in al-Qaeda's organization in order to go straight for the heart and brains of the network. But my guess is it went something more like we "need to stop swatting at flies and go after something big, Iraq."
     

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  • Now is a good time to cut the words "under god" from the US Pledge of Allegience.
    The original Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892. The words "under God" were added by Congress in 1954, during the Cold War, to distinguish America's religious values and heritage from those of communism.

    The Cold War is done and the greatest threat to Americans and their values is from a fundamentalist relgion. This is a good time to emphasize the US (and Western) secular tradition - the lesson of previous religious wars.
     

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  • I'm just reading the Lithuanian Constitution (why I'm doing this really doesn't matter) and here's what I see:
    Article 38
    (1) The family shall be the basis of society and the State.
    (2) Family, motherhood, fatherhood, and childhood shall be under the care and protection of the State.
    (3) Marriage shall be entered into upon the free consent of man and woman.
    (4) The State shall register marriages, births, and deaths. The State shall also recognize marriages registered in church.
    (5) In the family, spouses shall have equal rights.
    (6) The right and duty of parents is to bring up their children to be honest individuals and loyal citizens, as well as to support them until they come of age.
    (7) The duty of children is to respect their parents, to care for them in old age, and to preserve their heritage.
    I just felt like sharing.
     

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  • In case you were wondering...
    In the past six years of flight tests, here is what the Pentagon's missile-defense agency has demonstrated: A missile can hit another missile in mid-air as long as a) the operators know exactly where the target missile has come from and where it's going; b) the target missile is flying at a slower-than-normal speed; c) it's transmitting a special beam that exaggerates its radar signature, thus making it easier to track; d) only one target missile has been launched; and e) the 'attack' happens in daylight.

    Oh, and they're starting to deploy the first parts of this system this summer.
     

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  • Atrios has uncovered the cabal behind the cabal. PNAC's innermost circles have been revealed as what we all suspected: PNAE. Yeah, it's pretty much what you thought.
     

  • Tuesday, March 23, 2004
     
  • Where have we heard this before?
    The White House dismissed [Richard Clarke's] accusations ... by casting him as a disgruntled, politically motivated job seeker and a 'best buddy' of a top adviser to Senator John Kerry.

    Oh, yeah:
    A transcript subpoenaed in the CIA leak probe reveals the White House press operation began efforts to personally discredit former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV days before a columnist blew the cover of his CIA-officer wife. ... Meanwhile, many of the journalists on the subpoena's list have reported various attempts by the Bush administration last year to discredit Wilson by suggesting his wife arranged for the CIA to send him to Niger. ... On July 6, [NBC reporter and "Meet the Press" host Andrea Mitchell] interviewed Wilson about his trip to Niger, and two days later she reported officials tried to cast Wilson as a Democratic "partisan."

    And...
    Bush and his officials sought over three days to discredit Paul O'Neill, and the treasury department yesterday announced it was seeking a probe of how he got what they called a classified national security document, used as a prop when O'Neill was interviewed on the CBS program 60 Minutes.

    Wow. Good help sure is hard to find these days. Why do members of Bush's staff keep turning out to be such bad people? Why can't he find more people to work for him who aren't actually working for the other side or who won't accuse him of all kinds of nastiness just to further their own careers? Why, in other words, is he such an incompetent manager that his own employees keep betraying him?
     

  • Monday, March 22, 2004
     
  • In a surprise move to demonstrate their resolve in the face of islamist terrorism, Europe attacked Irkutsk early this morning. Irkutsk, a former and largely forgotten Soviet republic, has nothing whatsoever to do with islamist terror, but European leaders said it was important to meet an unspecified "gathering threat" building in that nation. No, wait, sorry. These are Europeans. They're doing the sensible thing and "planning new anti-terrorism measures." My mistake. Sorry.
    ``The best response will come from the world intelligence community,'' Spanish Prime Minister-Elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, told El Pais newspaper in an interview published yesterday. ``You don't overthrow terrorism with wars.'' ... Intelligence chiefs from the U.K., Italy, France and Germany meeting in Spain today are discussing the coordination of anti- terrorism efforts among the five countries, Spain's Interior Ministry said.
     

  • Sunday, March 21, 2004
     
  • The accusations against BushCo made by Richard Clarke are truly jaw-dropping. Josh Marshall and Atrios are both covering it. Start with these links and scan down their posts from today. Of all of the murderous clowns, Paul Wolfowitz is probably the one who irks me the most. This is because I think he is a genuine intellectual, cut from the same batch of cloth as people like Lenin and Mao. No, I'm not suggesting he's a communist, it's just that my capacity for thinking up intellectuals-cum-genocidal maniacs is a little stale. He's exactly the kind of person (I suspect) who gets so wrapped up in his own myopic vision of things that he is willing to push the button without ever reflecting on whether or not he might be wrong. That's a different kind of blind faith in one's own conclusions than George Bush's, but it amounts to pretty much the same thing.
    Clarke relates, "I began saying, 'We have to deal with bin Laden; we have to deal with al Qaeda.' Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, said, 'No, no, no. We don't have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.'

    "And I said, 'Paul, there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States in eight years!' And I turned to the deputy director of the CIA and said, 'Isn't that right?' And he said, 'Yeah, that's right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States."
     

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  • Thanks to Greg for pointing this out:
    In Decem-ber, Gov. Jeb Bush dedicated Lawtey as the first 'faith-based,' government-run prison in the country. 'I can't think of a better place to reflect on the love of our Lord Jesus than to be here at Lawtey Correctional,' Bush, a devout Catholic, told the inmates. Bush added that he and his brother, President George W. Bush, agree that the best way to rehabilitate prisoners is to 'lead them to God.'

    Maybe Jeb should spend some time in a Correctional Facility.
     

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  • It's official. Stephen Harper is
    head of the Conservative Party
    again. Oh, I'm sorry, this is a new party? Right... Kids, there's no escaping the fact that Canadian politics bites.
     

  • Saturday, March 20, 2004
     
  • The people who brought you A Modest Proposal are back with more fun and hilarity:
    WHAT do you give someone who’s been proved innocent after spending the best part of their life behind bars, wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit?
    An apology, maybe? Counselling? Champagne? Compensation? Well, if you’re David Blunkett, the Labour Home Secretary, the choice is simple: you give them a big, fat bill for the cost of board and lodgings for the time they spent freeloading at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in British prisons.

    (Via Philosoraptor)
     

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  • Everybody's watching USA Today fantasty writer reporter Jack Kelley and the journalists who aren't are exposing his lies.
    Update: Kevin Drum's coverage is here.
     

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  • Daily Kos asks why the Bush campaign paid $200,000 to Vance International, a firm that "specializes in high-tech surveillance, personal investigations, and paramilitary protection?" The Kerry campaign (not to mention reporters) should look into this if only because Kerry is a friend to labour whereas Vance International "provides security personnel who are trained to protect people and property during potentially disruptive situations, such as strikes, union organizing drives, and plant closings. "
     

  • Friday, March 19, 2004
     
  • Now this is a truly brilliant line:
    It's reasonable to think that the terrorists of al Qaeda wanted to affect the Spanish elections. What's hard to understand is why our own hawks are so eager to hand al Qaeda a victory by rushing to put down Spanish voters as wimps.

    That should shut them up.
     

  • Thursday, March 18, 2004
     
  • The American Prospect has a review of Hans Blix's new book, Disarming Iraq. The reviewer says Blix disappoints because he's too much of a diplomat:
    [T]he authoritative, daring, take-no-prisoners book that might've been is subsumed by Blix's desire to stay far above the fray. The result is a cold, colorless, and overly equivocal volume that confirms what most readers already knew: Baghdad's stonewalling emboldened an Administration that was itching for a fight.
     

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  • Oh, great. At Least 17 Killed in Ethnic Clashes in Kosovo.
     

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  • Rhea County, Tennessee: so stupid, so evil. Via Eschaton.
     

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  • Watch the new Moveon.org ad and ask yourself why anybody in their right mind - correct that: anybody with half a mind - would reelect these people. Via TPM.
     

  • Wednesday, March 17, 2004
     
  • Unbelievable gall. Unbeliveable. Gallier than Gaul. More gall than de Gaul. Wow, that's a lot of gall.
    The ad says Kerry voted no to "higher combat pay."

    This is truly a milestone in the long bilious history of gall.
     

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  • Think you've heard the story about Bush not taking an opportunity to kill a senior Al-Qaeda leader? Think again. Via Eschaton.
     

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  • I don't know what to make of this at all. There's going to be an "internal investigation" (whitewash/smear campaign?) into the accusations made by the chief actuary of the Medicare program, Richard Foster, that he was threatened with dismissal if he revealed his cost estimates of the program to Congress. His cost estimates put the price of the new Medicare bill above the $400 billion mark beyond which several Republican congressmen had said they would not support the bill. Here's the part I don't get:
    The senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, said he and his aides knew in June that Mr. Foster was 'under severe pressure' to withhold information from Congress. The Democrats remained silent, Mr. Rangel said, because of fear that Mr. Foster would lose his post.

    However much I may like the Democrats and as pleased as I am that there is yet another investigation (albeit yet another internal one) into the bad deeds of the liars and crooks in the administration, are we seriously supposed to believe that the Democrats declined to bring forth information which would have killed the Republicans' stupid Medicare reform in order to protect some peon's job? Hard to believe. The only alternative explanation I can think of, though, is that the Democrats were complicit in covering up the real numbers because some of them wanted the bill to be passed. Some of them did vote for it, after all.
     

  • Tuesday, March 16, 2004
     
  • Jack Shafer (whom we met a little while back) has got the final instalment (?) on the Richard Perle Libel Watch. Perle has, predictably, not followed up on his threats to sue New Yorker journalist Sy Hersh. Why? Shafer has the most likely answer: he's a gasbag who never intended to sue and just wanted to throw a scare at the journalists following Hersh's story[.] Via Eschaton.
     

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  • The latest animation from Eric Blumrich, plus via his site we also find Misunderestimated dot Net and God's Mistake -- check them out if you feel like getting angry. Hint: If you have a slower connection, you can download the God's Mistake animation (well worth it) by means of the links on the left of that page.
     

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  • Rummyvision is on the air! Kevin Drum has the latest:
    Wolf Blitzer asked Donald Rumsfeld last night if we should have given the UN inspectors more time. Rumsfeld answered, "Well, the U.N. inspectors were not in there. The U.N. inspectors were out."

    Huh? Can't these guys even be bothered to make up decent lies anymore? They were only out because we told them to leave so that we could start the war?
     

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  • Keeping track of all the investigations into the crimes of the Republicans in Washington is getting harder and harder. The latest is with regard to fake TV news segments put out by the Department of Health and Human Services. Playing government-produced "video news releases" as part of the TV news must have been going a step too far for the big networks, so (as we've seen them do before), they bypassed the national media organizations and went straight for low-budget, low-grade, local TV news shows:
    The videos are intended for use in local television news programs. Several include pictures of President Bush receiving a standing ovation from a crowd cheering as he signed the Medicare law on Dec. 8.

    The materials were produced by the Department of Health and Human Services, which called them video news releases, but the source is not identified. Two videos end with the voice of a woman who says, "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting." ...

    The government also prepared scripts that can be used by news anchors introducing what the administration describes as a made-for-television "story package."

    In one script, the administration suggests that anchors use this language: "In December, President Bush signed into law the first-ever prescription drug benefit for people with Medicare. Since then, there have been a lot of questions about how the law will help older Americans and people with disabilities. Reporter Karen Ryan helps sort through the details."

    It's well worth reading the entire story. Link via a comment at Eschaton.
     

  • Monday, March 15, 2004
     
  • How I hate this: the debate over whaling continues. Make it stop.
     

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  • The next battleground is Africa.
    Military cooperation with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia - where many suspected violent Islamists detained in Europe over the past two years come from - is also being boosted

    Senior US generals, including the commander of the US European command, General James Jones, have been touring the region looking for temporary bases and airfields to use in possible future operations in Africa. ... Unconfirmed reports have already emerged from anonymous Pentagon sources of on-the-ground operations involving the US soldiers.
     

  • Sunday, March 14, 2004
     
  • Via Atrios, we find the .pdf transcript of Rumsfeld on Face the Nation. I'm still making my way through it. For now, here's a taste of Rummyvision:
    We're making very good progress with respect to the Iraqi security forces. We're up to over 200,000 Iraqis that have been trained and equipped and are deployed and out providing security. In fact, there are more Iraqi security forces being killed than coalition security forces.

    Now that's progress.

    Right, if you weren't aware, Rumsfeld is the devil.
     

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  • The war to liberate Iraq has brought about regime change in Spain... Well, maybe that's a little silly (a democratic change of government doesn't equal regime change), but, it sure looks like Bush's friends are falling.
    It was the first time a government that backed the Iraq war has been voted out of office. Incoming prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has pledged to bring home the 1,300 troops Spain has stationed in Iraq when their tour of duty ends in July.

    As happy as I am that democracy is working in Spain, I'm sorry if it means the Spanish will not help finish the job in Iraq... This chokes me up:
    Savoring victory again, outside Socialist party headquarters several hundred jubilant supporters cheered. But they, too, remembered the 200 people killed in Thursday's railway blasts. ``Not all of us are here. Two hundred are missing,'' the crowd shouted.


    Update: Juan Cole has more.
     

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  • Doing more searching on 'post no bills' and I found this page at Snopes.com.
    A properly folded U.S. $20 bill reveals images of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
     

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  • The subtle art of headline writing, brought to you by the Seatle Times:
    New efforts begin to find bin Laden
     

  • Saturday, March 13, 2004
     
  • Journalistic integrity this is not.
     

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  • When we said we wanted to reform the entire region by hook or by crook, we certain didn't mean we wanted to reform the entire region:
    The United States Administration does not seek to impose reforms on Arab countries, asserted Friday, the US ambassador to Morocco.

    Bush 2004: Neoconservativism with a human face. Make that two human faces.
     

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  • He'd get my vote.

    Sticks&Stones has the lowdown on the newest Conservative Party MP-hopeful, a Nova Scotia computer technician who advocates marriage with robots and polygamy. Now, can you marry multiple robots?

    In other Conservative news, it looks like Stephen Harper, who may himself be a robot, will be the next leader of our species -- I mean, of that party. This is after the unfortunate campaign of the sexy but unappealing Belinda Stronach asked for a time out so they could get their shit together. I think the return of Mr. Harper is good news for the country, since I think Harper has about as much sex appeal as this robot. And by sex appeal, I mean electability.
     

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  • Watch the merging of the mercs:
    Media reports link at least one of the 67 men held in Zimbabwe to the London-based Sandline group, which absorbed Executive Outcomes in 1998, the year that South Africa's parliament passed a law forbidding all mercenary activity.

    We'll have to remember that name, Sandline. The alleged mercenaries being held in Zimbabwe may have been working for Severo Moto Nsa, an exiled opposition figure of Equatorial Guinea who says that country's president, Obiang - who seized power in 1979 from his uncle and then executed him - is an "authentic cannibal" who "wants to eat my testicles".
     

  • Friday, March 12, 2004
     
  • "First-Class Foul Up
    Aviation experts are preparing to examine a black box flight recorder which may shed light on the destruction of the plane carrying the Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, which was found in a UN filing cabinet, unopened and untouched for 10 years.

    The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, ordered an internal investigation of the "first class foul-up" which allowed the organisation to overlook, by accident or design, a potentially crucial clue to the genocide. He denied there had been a cover-up.

    The shooting down of the plane on April 6 1994 on its approach to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, triggered the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus at the hands of the extremist Hutu regime.
     

  • Thursday, March 11, 2004
     
  • Truly the day that changed everything. Bush says, "over a million jobs were lost because of that attack." I'd sure like to know where he gets that number.
     

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  • Juan Cole says the behaviour of the Bush administration "is to crookedness as sado-masochism is to sex." Click the link for details.
     

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  • ETA or Islamicists? What a mess in Spain today. Simply horrible.

    Update: Al-Jazeera has more to support the Islamic theory, including a letter from al-Qaida associates claiming responsibility.
     

  • Wednesday, March 10, 2004
     
  • More Montreal blogging: check out Urbanphoto.net.
     

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  • Montrealcityweblog says with such an expensive education, shouldn't the fine folks at Yale be a little better at French? Especially when they're going to all that trouble describing Montreal.
     

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  • I never bothered to checkout my .com address. Maybe I should have.
     

  • Tuesday, March 09, 2004
     
  • KABUL (CP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai offered Afghan men a trade today in an attempt to convince them to let their women vote in upcoming elections.
    'Please, my dear brothers, let your wives and sisters go to the voter registration process,' Karzai told a gathering to mark International Women's Day. 'Later, you can control who she votes for, but please, let her go.'
    Karzai's plea set off a murmur in the crowd of about 500 women and illustrated the fragile grip the democratic process holds in Afghanistan.

    For more on the state of women in Afghanistan, read the rest of the article. Link via Eschaton.
     

  • Sunday, March 07, 2004
     
  • This is an interesting and unforeseen development:
    Armed bands of tribals will help Pakistani authorities search for al Qaeda and Taliban militants in remote western regions of the country, tribal elders assured the government Sunday. ... Tribal elder Malik Abdul Jalil announced after the meeting that different tribes living in Waziristan will raise an army of 1,500 to 2,000 people who will conduct raids on the "indication" of the government.

    "We ourselves will take action against those people wanted by the government," he said.

    How many of these people would actually turn in Bin Laden if they had the chance?
     

  • Saturday, March 06, 2004
     
  • I just stumbled across this story from about a month ago:
    There are reports that an American Airlines pilot 'terrified' passengers when he asked Christians on board the plane to identify themselves, and urged them to proselytize during the flight.
    According to witnesses, the pilot of Los Angeles to New York Flight 34 last Friday used the plane's public address system and asked passengers to 'raise their hands if they were Christian.' He then said, 'Everyone who doesn't have their hand raised is crazy... Well you have a choice: You can make this trip worthwhile, or you can sit back, read a book and watch the movie.'
    Flight attendants were so concerned that they contacted ground control, and had to assure passengers that they were not in immediate danger. Press reports, including a story in the NY Daily News said that passengers were 'frantic,' and feared that the pilot 'might have some sinister plans for the flight.'
    The pilot had reportedly just returned from a missionary trip to Costa Rica. American Airlines says that the company has guidelines about 'inappropriate behavior' and is looking into the incident.
     

  •  
  • From The Onion:
    While dieters are accustomed to exercises of will, a new English translation of Germany's most popular diet book takes the concept to a new philosophical level. The Nietzschean diet, which commands its adherents to eat superhuman amounts of whatever they most fear, is developing a strong following in America.
     

  • Friday, March 05, 2004
     
  • An interesting tidbit which I forgot to include in the last post is Khadr's claim that while he was helping the CIA in Kabul, he was visited by four RCMP officers (or anyway, the CIA told him they were RCMP officers) who questioned him about his family's connections to Al-Qaeda. This is the focus of this Toronto Star story.

    Also from the Star article, we get this bit of idiocy from Conservative public security critic Kevin Sorenson, discussing the fact that the Canadian government says that Khadr's family in Paksitan still have all the rights of Canadian citizenship:
    "It boils down to national security issues. I really think that there are so many people who are legitimate refugees who would love to be in our country; there are so many people who would love to be landed immigrants, who would love to contribute, that people who associate themselves with terrorism just aren't welcome here."

    He said people with ties to terrorism should be refused Canadian citizenship.

    "I think we have to be very frank and very open with them - if you associate with people who are bent on terrorist principles; if you associate with people who think it's all right to have suicide bombers that watch videos of the crashes into the World Trade Centre, we don't want you here in this country."

    Sorensen is just being dumb, unless the Star is quoting him out of context or something. He seems to be equating the Khadrs with refugee claimants or other people hoping to immigrate to Canada. He doesn't seem to realize that they are already Canadian citizens and hence it is absolutely proper for the government to treat them as such. That is, unless he thinks they're citizenship is somehow different than other Canadians' because of their, say, Muslimness. Obviously, I'm not saying they shouldn't be investigated as possible criminals, but to revoke their citizenship is just silly talk. Patriot Act silly talk.
     

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  • The Abdurahman Khadr Canadian Al-Qaeda trainee/CIA operative: When he asked to return to Canada, Abdurahman says the CIA dropped him off at the Canadian embassy in Sarajevo after making him promise to keep his CIA activities secret. So, why is he giving away the secret? It strikes me that (a) you don't want to piss off the CIA, and (b) you probably don't want it widely known that you've been ratting out terrorists and their ilk. He's passed a polygraph test to help demonstrate he's not lying, and his story is believeable, but why tell it? He says, "Why am I telling the story right now? Because I…cannot keep it in my heart anymore. I got to tell people I lied to them in the beginning…I want the people to learn that I lied for a reason and I'm sorry to have lied to them and I want to tell them the real story." So, because his heart is heavy with the lie? To guarantee the CIA won't come knocking again? To write a book (which he says he wants to do)? I feel like we're still missing some details. Maybe that book will clear them up.
     

  • Thursday, March 04, 2004
     
  • Aye, aye, aye. Stephen Gillers, an NYU law prof, has a very strange suggestion: Kerry should choose Bill Clinton as his running mate. Via Philosoraptor.
     

  •  
  • I just finished watching the first half of a truly fascinating CBC documentary. The website is here. The website is useful, but regrettably, the CBC doesn't put transcripts online. This is the story of the Canadian Al-Qaeda family, the Khadrs, particularly of Abdulrahman Khadr, the son who is now speaking out about his family and his past. He and some of the other members of his family described living in a compound in Afghanistan with the Bin Laden family. He says he was raised "to become a suicide bomber". Abdulrahman spent several months in Guantanamo Bay, then went back to Afghanistan, to Pakistan, to Bosnia, and finally returned to Canada. A few months ago, Abdulrahman denied having Al-Qaeda links. Judging from the preview of tomorrow's conclusion to the documentary, he now not only admits his family's close connections to Bin Laden, but says he spent the past two years working undercover for the CIA, first in Guantanamo, then on his long trip back to Canada, via Al-Qaeda cells in Bosnia. Tune in tomorrow, same blog time, same blog channel.
     

  • Wednesday, March 03, 2004
     
  • "Iraqi officials called for calm..." But one day after at least 143 Shiites were killed in Baghdad, three missiles hit the city, according to the Melbourne Herald Sun, although the Sun doesn't say what neighbourhood, or if this was a predominantly Shiite neighbourhood, for example. The story does make it sound like the missiles didn't cause much damage - it mentions only one person "critically injured" and a telephone exchange damaged. I for one, would not be calm in that city. Josh Marshall points out that the number of people killed in yesterday's attacks is, relative to the population of Iraq, comparable to the number of people killed on September 11th relative to the population of the US. That might seem like a silly observation (it's a "crude measure", he concedes) but, it gives you "a feel for the impact of these attacks on the country, the number of people who lost loved ones, know others who did, and so forth." A major blow for the forces of instability.
     

  • Tuesday, March 02, 2004
     
  • "Think sedimentology and water." And expect an announcement from NASA later today.
     

  • Monday, March 01, 2004
     
  • More end-of-days news. In addition to the Montreal crying virgin painting, we now discover
    via Pandagon:
    The number 666, which many Christians recognize as the "mark of the beast," is appearing on movie tickets for Gibson's film at a Georgia theater, drawing complaints from some moviegoers.
    This, Ezra points out, comes after two actors were struck by lightning and one viewer had a heart attack.

    UPDATE: plus, the Philosopraptor informs us of the inevitable destruction of mankind...
     

  •  
  • Juan Cole on the compromises which produced the interim Iraqi constitution:
    What has happened is merely that the big fights have been postponed for the constitutional convention next year. At that point there will be no reason to compromise, no urgency, and there will be every reason to poison the well for ideologues who don't get their way.

    And Juan Cole on Iraq's new pipeline deal with Iran (emphasis added):
    The US civil administrator, Paul Bremer, is said to have approved the plan. The US has faced severe financial problems in Iraq, slowing the rebuilding process and permitting continued high unemployment. Stabilizing Iraq has to be the highest priority of the Bush administration before Nov. 2, and so obviously they won't stand in the way of any step that will bring in big money at this point. ... What burns me is that the IGC is not an independent government, but is rather an appointed organ of the Bush administration. In allowing the Iran pipeline, Mr. Bremer is de facto contravening the US economic boycott on Iran. It is as part of that boycott that the Department of the Treasury is threatening to lock up American editors who edit scholarly submissions from Iran for publication in the US! It is all right for an organ of the Bush administration to sell Iran billions in petroleum, but God forbid a penniless editor should strike out a comma from an Iranian scholarly paper.
     

  •  
  • Via Montreal City Weblog, a miracle, right here in town. That doesn't happen everyday.
     




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