• The Guardian is excited: "Do not put the champagne on ice yet - there are, after all, five months to go before the election - but it is beginning to look as if Senator John Kerry may have the beating of President George Bush in November."
• Paris Hilton continues to impress Australians. She’s making a film here. With more than one camera.
• Anglican Archbishop Bernard Malango, primate of central Africa, isn’t supportive of Canadian moves to back gay marriage: "These people are going berserk. They do not care about the Anglican communion. They are causing disgrace to the whole church."
• Gerard Henderson writes: "Here's hoping this D-Day kick-starts some modesty on the part of the French political class. But don't bet on it."
• Pay peanuts, get monkeys. Pay nothing, get Al Franken: "In a sign that the privately held company's financial woes have not fully abated, Al Franken, the network's best-known star, said in an interview last week that he had agreed not to draw a salary, however temporarily, making him 'an involuntary investor.'"
• After a brief break, Tex is back blogging. And he’s angry.
• The Indianapolis 500 was once the most gothic of American sports events. Now, following administrative brawls and restrictive rule changes, it’s dominated by no-name drivers and dinky, technically-uniform cars. Buddy Rice won this year’s race; as in 1986, when Rice team co-owner Bobby Rahal was victorious, the 500 was hit by rain.
• Batting at nine, Bangladeshi Mohammad Rafique tore a century off the West Indies in the First Test at St. Lucia, helping his team to their highest Test total. Rezwan is yet to mention the historic score, although he does have useful advice for anyone planning a heart attack.
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has slammed the intolerance and bigotry inside our immigrant detention centres. Andrew Bolt reports:
A Last Resort? cites many witnesses who confirm that Muslims in most detention centres have persecuted Christians and Sabian Mandaeans, people of a Middle Eastern faith that borrows from Christianity.
In three centres, the persecution was so bad that non-Muslims had to be given protection.
For instance, A Last Resort? notes: "A Christian mother reported to the South Australian child protection agency that she was persecuted by Muslims in the detention centre because of her religious beliefs.
"They view her as unclean and she was assaulted by a Muslim detainee when she tried to pass food to him while she was working in the detention centre kitchen."
Wow. How’s that guy going to cope with the drive-thru at McDonald’s?
Most of the cops I know tend not to draw attention to themselves when they’re out drinking. Then again, most of the cops I know are Victorian; their approach apparently isn’t employed in Western Australia:
Claims that nine off-duty police officers taunted and humiliated American university students about the US involvement in Iraq are being investigated by West Australian police.
The incident occurred last Tuesday in Fremantle, when drunken police officers, seven from WA and two from NSW, forced the students to kneel on the ground at their dormitory at Notre Dame University.
The kneeling episode followed a nightclub fight in which an officer received some free dental work from a US student:
Enraged, some of the drunken officers tracked the American down to the university.
It was there that several American students, including some who had nothing to do with the clash, were made to kneel on the ground.
It is believed the taunting included comments such as "Yankees go home", "What are you doing in our country" and "What are you doing in Iraq".
Nice. Robert Corr, a student at Notre Dame, writes:
Rumour has it that a similar incident occurred earlier this year: a group of bikies from a well-known gang followed the students back to their dorm, kicked down the door and threw someone down a flight of stairs.
Who would have thought that two gangs who wear leather jackets and club colours would behave so similarly?
You’d expect that the police allegedly involved in this might be impetuous youngsters. Wrong; today’s West Australian reports that six of those under investigation are detectives.
UPDATE. Angie Schultz predicts that the American street will erupt with rage:
Unbearable humiliation! We must avenge this insult to our honor! All signs of the Australian oppressors must be purged from our country, like, uh, like ... Fosters! Down with Fosters! And squash the Bananas in Pajamas! And ... and ... gig the Wiggles! And, um, and ... well, I'll have to think about it.
UPDATE II. Then again, things could have been worse ...
Thousands of supporters of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo rallied on Saturday to demand United Nations peacekeepers disarm rebel fighters or leave the West African country.
Some 20,000 pro-Gbagbo militants crammed into the country's largest stadium in the main city Abidjan wearing mock blue helmets like those worn by U.N. soldiers and T-shirts bearing the motto "Disarmament or Nothing".
Meanwhile, in the rebel camp:
Sympathy for France and the United Nations was also absent at a parallel protest by the rebels in their stronghold Bouake, Ivory Coast's second city 350 km (220 miles) north of Abidjan.
"I appeal to the U.N., France, and all the international community to stop sitting on the fence when they know who the problem is in Ivory Coast," rebel leader Guillaume Soro told a stadium packed with thousands of his supporters.
"One minute the French are in one camp, the next minute they're in another."
Yep. They’ll do that.
"Are you Muslim or Christian? We don't want to kill Muslims. Show us where the Americans and Westerners live," Islamic militants told an Arab after a shooting rampage against Westerners in Saudi Arabia.
The four gunmen, aged 18 to 25 and wearing military vests, grabbed Abu Hashem, an Iraqi with a United States passport, in front of his home in the Oasis compound in Khobar, but they let him go when he told them he was a Muslim.
"Don't be afraid. We won't kill Muslims - even if you are an American," he quoted them as saying.
Mighty decent of them. Of course, if you aren’t of the approved faith ...
Saudi special forces rescued 25 hostages when they stormed a building where suspected al-Qaeda militants had already slit the throats of nine people, a survivor told AFP.
Among the dead were seven Asians, a Swede and an Italian, said Nijar Hijazin, who had himself been taken hostage at the housing compound in the kingdom's Eastern Province yesterday.
The gunmen who sparked a terrifying hostage crisis in Saudi Arabia went from house to house, rifling through papers and asking probing questions as they hunted down foreigners to kill, witnesses said today.
Noting a reversal of opinion among the previously hawkish, Mark Steyn writes:
Fourteen months ago, there were respectable cases to be made for and against the war. None of the big stories of the past few weeks alters either argument.
The bleats of "Include me out!" from the fairweather warriors isn't a sign of their belated moral integrity but of their fundamental unseriousness. Anyone who votes for the troops to go in should be grown-up enough to know that, when they do, a few of them will kill civilians, bomb schools, abuse prisoners. It happens in every war. These aren't stunning surprises, they're inevitable: it might be a bombed mosque or a hospital, a shattered restaurant or a slaughtered wedding party, but it will certainly be something.
Okay, a freaky West Virginia tramp leading a naked Iraqi round on a dog leash with a pair of Victoria's Secret panties on his head and a banana up his butt, maybe that wasn't so inevitable. But, that innovation aside, the aberrations of war have nothing to do with the only question that matters: despite what will happen along the way, is it worth doing?
I say yes.
So do I. Be interesting to hear from any former hawks on this, however. At what point, for you, did the war become unsupportable?
UPDATE. Beneath the headline "Iraq doomed, once the neo-cons won the White House battle", hysterical ultra-dove Robert Manne shrieks:
Even former enthusiasts now generally acknowledge that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq is the greatest disaster in the recent history of US foreign policy. Nothing is more important than to try to understand how this catastrophe occurred.
You’ve probably come across various Nicholas Berg conspiracy theories online -- arguing, say, that the white plastic chair Berg was seated on is identical to chairs at Abu Ghraib prison (or, to give the place its full name, notorious Abu Ghraib prison) -- which proves, I don’t know, that the whole war was driven by greedy US chair cartels. Owned by Dick Cheney.
So who does the Sydney Morning Herald choose to investigate these theories? None other than Richard Neville, who, we’ve learned, isn’t exactly your go-to guy for online detective work. Neville’s history of getting things wrong is apparently a qualification at the Herald. His revelatory probe begins:
Iraq in flames, Washington an object of disgust. What to do? At this pivotal moment, CNN and Fox News are tipped off to a clip of an American citizen being beheaded. The victim is a 26-year-old idealist from Pennsylvania, Nick Berg. Despite the perpetrators being masked, the vile deed is deemed the work of al-Qaeda.
The clip was first "discovered" on an Islamic website in Malaysia. Its Arabic title reads "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi shown slaughtering an American". al-Zarqawi is a 38-year-old Jordanian militant who fled to Iraq in 2001 after reportedly losing a leg in a US missile strike. al-Zarqawi's face is widely known and he credits himself with the deed, so why a mask?
The timing of the video was brilliant for the West. Media pundits judged the crime a deeper evil than the systemic torture of innocent Iraqis. But some people sensed a rat. But if it was not al-Qaeda, who? Surely not Uncle Sam. That's too dark, even for the CIA.
”The timing of the video was brilliant for the West.” Yes, Richard -- all of us were delighted. Neville then runs through the facts, as he almost understands them, of Berg’s time in Iraq (readers will no doubt locate many errors) before ending with this expert opinion on Berg’s murder:
According to a blogger (internet diarist), Nick Possum, "this footage was subsequently modified frame by frame to make Berg's body move very occasionally". Apparently, this can be achieved with "commonly available software".
Possum believes "the available evidence surrounding the case suggests that it was a 'black operation' by US psychological warfare specialists ... to provide the media with a moral relativity argument to counter the adverse publicity over torture at Abu Ghraib". The use of FBI footage in the opening sequence, if confirmed, suggests the involvement of high-level US Government operatives.
I do not know who killed Nick Berg, or how he died. But there's something fishy about this video.
In the end, the question is: who killed Nick Berg, and why?
Well, it surely can’t be those nice al Qaeda boys. They’d never do anything so unpleasant.
Jonathan V. Last writes that The Day After Tomorrow won’t hurt George W. Bush, and praises the film’s disaster-movie fidelity:
A divorced couple torn apart by the husband's work, who must reconcile in the face of death? Check. A character who sacrifices himself for the good of the team by falling to his death? Check. Two attractive adolescents who struggle to reveal their true feelings for one another? Check. Rich people learning valuable life lessons from the poor? Check.
The film doesn’t have any grinning Canadian minisheep, however. Every disaster/horror/slasher movie needs these brutes, regardless of theme or location. Look at the hostile, unearthly expression worn by the monster in the second pic. Tell me you won’t see that in your nightmares for the next twenty years.
Michael Danby got to his feet and spoke for nine minutes in the grievance debate on one subject only. That subject was my journalism and what he traduced as my "ethical standards". He does not like "the bile" I write and he likes even less the "lazy and dishonest journalism" I bring to readers of this newspaper. He calls it "journalistic theft raised to a lifestyle". That is his opinion.
It’s an opinion Ramsey appears to have acted on. In his main item today, the long-form quote-recycler writes practically the entire piece himself. Danby calculated that some of Ramsey’s earlier columns depended on previously published material for 85% of their content.
They can have my gum when they’ve prised it from my cold dead teeth! Doug Payton reports that Singapore has relaxed its punitive gum control laws -- but only for registered chewers.
In other gnawing regulation news, British butchers face fines if they give bones away to dog owners:
They are being sent letters telling them that a new European directive bans the traditional practice.
In future, Britain's 10,000 butchers will have to pay for the bones to be incinerated rather than hand them free to customers for their pets.
Thank you, EU.
The Boston Herald launches into Al Gore:
He never mentioned Nicholas Berg. Or Daniel Pearl. Or a single person killed in the World Trade Center. Nor did former Vice President Al Gore talk of any soldier by name who has given his life in Iraq. And he has the audacity to condemn the Bush administration for having "twisted values?"
Gore spent the bulk of a speech before the liberal group MoveOn.org Wednesday bemoaning Abu Ghraib and denouncing President Bush's departure from the "long successful strategy of containment."
Yes, the very same strategy that, under Gore's leadership, allowed al-Qaeda operatives to plan the horror of Sept. 11 for years, while moving freely within our borders.
Gore even had the audacity to defend the perpetrators of the prison abuse - by name - while denouncing President Bush for humiliating" our nation.
How dare he.
It'll be interesting to see how little coverage this receives:
The military has revealed that one soldier initially listed as killed in action while riding in the same doomed convoy as former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch was actually captured by Iraqi fighters.
More than a year after the March 23, 2003, ambush, the military released new details on Tuesday to the family of Sgt. Donald Walters of Salem, Ore. On Thursday, the details were released to the public.
Walters "was held separately from his fellow soldiers and killed while in custody," according to a news release from the Oregon National Guard.
"He was executed -- shot twice in the back," Maj. Arnold Strong, public affairs officer for the Oregon National Guard, said during a telephone interview Thursday.
Perhaps Walters' captors hadn't been told of their need to comply with the Geneva Convention.
• Chris Sheil fans will thrill to his latest epic “I won’t tell you what car I own!” argument (previous instalments here and here) presented in comments at this Tim Dunlop post. Keep in mind as you negotiate his evasions, inconsistencies, and impossibly titanic sense of self-regard that Chris isn’t an Indymedia kid or someone on a mental disability pension; he’s a university lecturer in his mid-40s. Be alert also for a special guest appearance from Niall Cook, who announces that he does “NOT resile” from his controversial views on Vietnamese immigrants. For some reason Niall is convinced that I own a BMW.
• "What's in a bra?" asks The Age. Which explains a lot about the investigative abilities of that newspaper.
• Franco Aleman, formerly of HispaLibertas -- and known to readers of this site for his fine coverage of events in Spain -- has gone solo, at Barcepundit. He might drop in here again from time to time, too.
• David Horowitz and Ben Johnson review Al Gore’s MoveOn.org speech.
The largest mosque in Stockholm is spreading double messages. What the Imam says in his speech in Arabic doesn't match how the text is interpreted in Swedish.
"America rapes Islam," the Imam roars in Arabic from the platform.
The interpreter translates to Swedish: "We condemn USA’s torture of Iraqi prisoners."
The UK Telegraph’s Daniel Johnson had a ringside seat for yesterday’s Abu Hamza arrest:
Ever since the police had searched his home, 50 yards up the street, about five years ago, we had been aware that the charismatic cleric was our neighbour.
Not that he has ever offered the hook of friendship to us. He keeps himself to himself, as they say, and his privacy has always been respected. One Christmas, before we knew who he was, the children sang carols outside his door. They were sent packing.
Every time we organise a Neighbourhood Watch meeting, Abu Hamza gets his invitation through the letter-box, like everybody else. Oddly enough, he never turns up.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t keeping an eye out.
Via The Daily Telegraph’s excellently-named Tory Maguire, some good news -- with a local angle -- out of Iraq:
The Treasury in Canberra is not a place you would expect to find a veteran of the Iraq campaign but principal adviser Tony McDonald is just that.
His job in Baghdad was to put the Iraqi economy, budget and pay systems back together.
And between losing his room in the hotel Al-Rasheed to a rocket attack and working himself to the bone, Mr McDonald helped transform the "gangster economy" of Saddam Hussein's regime.
"It was a really tough environment but it was also one with a lot of people who were very dedicated," he said yesterday.
"It may not be the impression that people have but it is just inspiring to work with them."
In a letter to Treasurer Peter Costello, Iraq administrator Paul Bremmer said he "often acted solely upon Tony's macro-economic advice".
Under Saddam, the tax system consisted mostly of imposts on business and very high tariffs, designed to maintain the regime's monopoly on smuggling.
In a comment piece not available online, Maguire writes that "anyone feeling jaded about Iraq after the relentless horrors of the US Military Police in Abu Graib should spend five minutes with Tony McDonald. The unassuming 34-year-old treasury official from Canberra has made a contribution to the future of Iraq that will last long beyond any military intervention."
Last week The Age published Julian Ninio’s unreadable anti-US screed. Now The Age is running a piece by some Common Dreams-worthy plonker named Tom Teepen, who believes George W. Bush should have given this speech:
I have several announcements tonight.
I have today asked for and received the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defence. His successor will be chosen in consultation with the leadership of both parties in Congress, in the interests of establishing consensus for our remaining tasks in Iraq.
I will tomorrow ask the United Nations to establish a transitional trusteeship for Iraq, so that wide international commitment can be enlisted in bringing a new Iraq into being.
And I am announcing now that I will neither seek nor accept my party's nomination for a second term as your president.
Despite being a scientifically nonsensical story of climatic apocalypse (climate change isn't an overnight phenomenon), the film's message about politicians ignoring scientists' warnings is so compelling that some commentators expect it to play a part in President George Bush being defeated in the November election.
A recently leaked Pentagon paper concluded climate change could become an issue of national security.
UPDATE. Anyone else got any Bush = Satan garbage to unload? It’s a sellers' market down here.
Tracey Emin artworks worth up to $14 have been destroyed in a London fire. Cause of the fire is unknown, but it is suspected that some of the Emin pieces may have spontaneously combusted due to shame.
Evil hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza was due to be arrested early today.
Police were set to make a pre-dawn raid at his London home.
They planned to hold the hate-filled preacher on terror charges before deporting him for trial in America.
The plot to arrest the hate-filled cleric was hatched by American lawmen.
The Palestinian-born ranter was due to be held on a warrant from the U.S. Department of Justice under new extradition laws.
The arrest marks a spectacular victory for The Sun.
MPs and moderate Muslims have praised our campaign to have the one-eyed hate preacher locked up or booted out of Britain.
Meanwhile, over at the SMH:
An angelic-looking Pakistani woman with a doctorate in neurological science is among seven "dangerous" al-Qaeda terror suspects identified today by the FBI as planners of new attacks on the United States.
Siddiqui is a picture of innocence amongst the dangerous-looking male suspects ...
This crude sexism has no place in a reputable newspaper. Why, I'd cancel my subscription if I hadn't made certain never to take one out in the first place.
I am a: One-eyed hook-handed hate preacher
Residence: Finsbury Park
For: walks along the beach, romantic dinners, Holy War
My Age: 47
Speak: Arabic, English, Hate
Children: Two wonderful sons! Plus a few lesser humanoid life-forms I keep in sacks
Relocate?: Currently being relocated, yes
Citizen of: Britain, Allah bless its multicultural tolerance
Body: Partially metallic
Education level: I got blown up clearing landmines. How much more do you need to know?
Occupation: Cleric/pantomime pirate
Smoking: Only after landmine incidents
Drinking: Never drink. But I’m very good at retrieving martini olives
Zodiac Sign: Semtex
Using artificial insemination to get pregnant, lesbians are four times more likely to have children than gay men.
(Via Opinion Journal)
Moveon.Org has posted Al Gore’s demented speech to the howly left collective, which it claims is "as prepared", presumably by the former VP:
Listen then to the balance of internal impulses described by specialist Charles Graner when confronted by one of his colleagues, Specialist Joseph M. Darby, who later became a courageous whistleblower. When Darby asked him to explain his actions documented in the photos, Graner replied: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the Corrections Officer says, 'I love to make a groan man piss on himself."
Groan? Looks more like a scream.
The opinion pages of The Sydney Morning Herald ain't a happy place:
• Peter FitzSimons is again identified as a harvester of ancient jokes (in addition to those earlier noted, Gareth Parker points out via email that Fitzy's Dennis Cometti gags were circulating nearly two years ago);
• And Paddy McGuinness has quit completely. Here’s Paddy’s resignation letter to SMH editor Robert Whitehead, as published by Stephen Mayne:
Before you rang me the other day, I had been contemplating whether I wished to retain any connection with the Sydney Morning Herald, and with the increasingly chaotic and badly managed Fairfax company. Your courteous call the other day, followed by a discourteous silence despite the promise of a further call, only helped to hasten my decision.
This is to sever my relationship with the SMH. I am supposed to give three months' notice. But before your call I had already bought and paid for my ticket to Europe in July, during which I intended to take leave, and I am not prepared to change this arrangement. Therefore, I would like to resign effective as of the end of June. If you wished me to serve out the full three months' notice, I would feel obliged to work during August and September, but would prefer not to.
I offer you my commiserations on the situation in which you find yourself. It is not only your fault, but that of the SMH and Fairfax journalistic staff generally.
They’ll miss Paddy. Adding to the fun, a senior Sydney Morning Herald identity told me the other day that the paper is "trying to get rid of" Kingston, but is terrified of a psycho-backlash from various Indymedia types. Meanwhile the search for somebody to edit the SMH's sister paper, the Melbourne Age, continues.
John Menadue -- a man with "a distinguished record in public life", according to the Sydney Morning Herald's Tony Stephens -- has a wild and crazy idea:
He is preparing to launch a national, independent electronic political weekly newsletter that, he says, will "break news that is relevant to a more modern and generous spirited Australia and professionally analyse events and issues".
Mr Menadue believes his newsletter, New Matilda.Com, can challenge existing media, which he calls predictable and tightly controlled.
It is -- by the Left, to which Menadue belongs. His supporters include John Button, Elizabeth Evatt, Lowitja O'Donoghue, John Clarke, Robert Manne, Peter Redlich, Ian Macphee, Hugh Mackay, Michael Kelly, Graham Freudenberg, Julian Burnside, Stephen Duckett and Eva Cox. Allow the deluded person to continue:
"Our editorial position will be pluralist, liberal and relevant to a modern and more humane Australia," he said yesterday. "Public life must be based on enduring values - truth and openness, respect for all, justice, fairness and human flourishing."
Lefty Tim Dunlop has already trashed Menadue's idea. Who needs New Matilda when we've already got Fairfax and the ABC?
Bjorn Lomborg on enviro-doom crap-feature The Day After Tomorrow:
The movie's website provides links to news reports from February about "a secret report prepared by the Pentagon" that warned climate change would "lead to global catastrophe costing millions of lives".
What the movie's promoters don't reveal is that the Pentagon report was a hypothetical worst-case scenario – one that has been thoroughly debunked.
Months ago. Don’t these people have any real evidence to work with?
• Cannes judge Tilda Swinton explains the true meaning of Michael Moore's Fahrvergnuegen 9/11: "It's possible to see that this film is not about Bush, America, or Iraq, but about the system, in a very precise way. It's about the dialectic between film-makers, the media, and the audience." Ohhhh-kay ...
• Natasha Stott Despoja and Nine network newsreader Hugh Riminton travelled at taxpayers' expense while they "investigated the differences between European parliamentary systems." So that’s what they’re calling it these days.
• If the highlight of Madonna's concert was a rendition of John Lennon's Imagine, accompanied by a video of sick and injured children from around the world, what the fuck was the lowlight?
• In yet more music news, Jewel is losing it.
• Jonah Goldberg writes: "Cricket is not a sport. It's complete nonsense the British and their subjects do to keep the rest of the world confused." Oh, please. What’s so difficult about the leg-before-wicket law as it applies to deliveries that pitch outside the line of the stumps, except in such cases as the batsman is judged not to be playing a shot?
• Spanky the circus clown was arrested last week on charges involving child pornography.
• Richard Reeves believes that the ignorant should be appeased: "If young women on the streets of Rome are comparing America's president to Hitler, they probably are going to see other Americans as brutes and thugs who ignored the obvious at home and unthinkingly followed orders in dehumanizing prisons and other symbols of military occupation far from home." More Eurohate is evident in Britain -- from the Right.
• "You go and spend $8 for a lobster," declares Dover lobsterman Edward Heaphy, "you want a good-looking lobster."
• Fox movie man Roger Friedman reviews controversial global-warming terror flick The Day After Tomorrow, When We’re All Killed Because Bush Didn’t Ratify Kyoto. His verdict: two globally-warmed thumbs down.
Interesting line from the NYT’s Daniel Okrent in this OJR piece on bloggers who challenge newspaper inaccuracies:
"In some instances, some are so partisan -- even though they're right in many instances -- they're immediately discredited within the newsroom because of their partisanship. If the comment comes from someone who isn't identified as a partisan, they take it much more seriously."
Explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Saddam Hussein, Bob Brown, Natasha Stott Despoja, Andrew Bartlett, Brian Greig, Lyn Allison, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Murray, Peter FitzSimons, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Captain Cook, Mark Latham, Margaret O'Connor, Phillip Adams, Nick Grimm, and Michael Moore.
Via a reader, Professor Bunyip once again catches Phillip Adams stealthily exposing his audience to insidious American culture. Compare Phil’s lines with a piece from The New Yorker published a month prior:
New Yorker: "The favoured epithet among interns and residents is GOMER, which stands for Get Out of My Emergency Room"
Philip Adams: "Interns and residents in the US brand them with the epithet GOMER, which stands for Get Out of My Emergency Room"
New Yorker: "Conventional medical wisdom holds that hypochondria is a hopeless condition and should be treated by ignoring it"
Philip Adams: "The general medical attitude is that hypochondria is time-wasting nonsense and should be treated by ignoring it"
New Yorker: "women['s] nervous behaviour was typically interpreted as hysteria"
Philip Adams: "women's medical fantasies were, even then, deemed hysterical"
New Yorker: "For some, fear of illness is so great that they avoid all doctors"
Philip Adams: "Some are so terrified of illness that they shun the medical profession"
The Bunyip’s laser-eyed correspondent writes:
I contacted Crikey.com, which seemed in disarray. Mediawatch's exec producer had the gall to tell me that what Adams had done was "not plagiarism". Then I contacted The Australian itself, and despite repeated correspondence from me over a period of several months, no acknowledgement or slap on Adams's pudgy wrist.
What, do you suppose, is going on? Why is this so complicated?
It isn’t complicated. It's pathetic.
(The Bunyip has been in ripping form lately, so go visit.)
Phillip Adams does not understand that our involvement in the Solomon Islands is linked to our invasion of Iraq. Both are examples of Australian imperialism at work. The Solomon Islands is our Iraq. Not the same outcome, of course, but the same drivers.
John Passant, Kambah, ACT
Scroll to page 71 (bottom right corner) of this Hansard pdf file to enjoy a Parliamentary critique of the Sydney Morning Herald’s plastic turkey correspondent -- who doesn’t mention the subject in his column today. Probably saving it for Saturday, when he'll quote the entire thing.
Meanwhile, a conservative ABC boardmember has addressed some Media Watch issues:
Dr Brunton's "essay" raised concerns about Media Watch's report of the Hutton inquiry into the suicide of UK weapons expert David Kelly. He also questioned the program's treatment of columnist Janet Albrechtsen through its coining of the verb "to albrecht" - meaning to lift and twist sources to suit the writer's purposes.
ABC director of television, Sandra Levy, would like to assure everybody that Media Watch did not breach any of the ABC's editorial policies.
What the hell is Time magazine’s Mary Corliss talking about?
Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Iraq and, to the cheers of his military audience, defiantly called himself "a survivor" (a word traditionally reserved for those who have lived through the Holocaust or cancer, not for someone enduring political difficulties).
I hope Corliss points out to fellow Time staffers Karen Tumulty ("Bill Clinton, who was the ultimate political survivor") and Richard Lacayo ("What makes Clinton a survivor?") that they have violated this ancient and noble tradition. Of which nobody has ever heard.
Bjørn Stærk on Norway’s first casualty in Afghanistan:
Tommy Rødningsby (29) volunteered to make life better in a country far away, in a conflict he could have stayed out of. That was brave, and worth our respect and admiration. Our politicians and pundits are soft and confused, but our professional soldiers stand comparison to anyone.
Read the entire post.
Brief ideological descriptions of people or groups in the news help audiences understand the perspective of those people and groups.
So it is a good thing that the ABC describes the Hudson Institute as a conservative think tank, the Darwin Research Institute as a conservative think tank, the Fraser Institute as a conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute as a conservative think-tank, (and a classic neo-conservative Washington think tank), the Rand Corporation as a conservative think-tank, Gerard Henderson as a conservative think-tank commentator, the Institute of Public Affairs as a conservative think-tank (and a well known conservative think tank), the Centre for Independent Studies as a conservative think-tank (and a Australian neo-conservative think tank), and the Heritage Foundation as a conservative think-tank.
See? Now everybody knows the background of these groups and people. Problem is, the ABC is reluctant to label non-conservative groups; for example, the lefty Australia Institute, which apparently exists in an ideological vacuum. According to the ABC, the Australia Institute is an influential national think tank, a Canberra-based public interest think tank, a think-tank that focuses on issues of public interest, a Canberra based think-tank, a public policy Think Tank, an environmental think tank, an independent public policy research centre based in Canberra, and even a think tank mostly funded from philanthropic trusts and with no party political affiliations.
In an ABC story mentioning both the Centre for Independent Studies and the Australia Institute, the CIS is described as "a privately funded conservative think tank" while the Australia Institute is merely "Canberra based". An inconsistent labelling policy may cause confusion. Luckily for the ABC’s Tony Jones, senior Liberal Tony Abbott was able to help him out during this 2002 interview:
TONY JONES: There's been a right-wing think tank raise the idea of a leadership challenge in the Liberal Party. The Australia Institute --
TONY ABBOTT: That's a left-wing think tank.
TONY JONES: The Australia Institute?
TONY ABBOTT: It's a left-wing think tank aligned with the Labor Party.
TONY JONES: All right.
Perhaps Tony should call and remind them. The most recent mention of the Australia Institute on the ABC describes it as a public policy research centre.
(Via reader Geoffrey C.)
And what a lead it is:
Labor would win in a landslide if an election were held now, as more Australians than ever regard the Iraq war as unjustified, a new Herald Poll has found.
A week before John Howard heads to the US for meetings with President George Bush and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on Iraq, the poll showed a strong majority - 63 per cent - thought the war was not justified, compared with 51 per cent in September last year.
Mr Latham's personal approval rating has shot up by eight points in NSW - his home state - over the last month.
It’s all due to the Margo Effect, finally kicking in after a hideous six-month incubation. No mere war can influence events so profoundly.
Madonna in January: "I am writing to you because the future I wish for my children is at risk. Our greatest risk is not terrorism and it’s not Iraq or the ‘Axis of Evil.’ Our greatest risk is a lack of leadership, a lack of honesty and a complete lack of consciousness."
History professor Elizabeth Eve reveals the Left’s latest tactic against war and Bush and the whole hegemonic petrodollar imperial Halliburton killing machine:
Elizabeth is part of Axis of Eve, a fledgling group of rabble-rousing feminists and anti-war activists who have taken to flashing their undies as a form of political dissent.
"I was teaching a class on imperialism, and I was delivering all this material that was kind of new and upsetting, and everyone was getting all worked up and upset, and I was getting all worked up and upset, and all of a sudden, all I wanted to do was flash my underwear! It was crazy."
Yes. Yes, it was. Or, as one of Elizabeth’s pantysisters explains:
"I think sometimes verbal discourse is insufficient as a mode of expression."
So shut up already. Here are the gals at a recent protest, which looks more like some kind of "Skanks for Bush" support march. All that free advertising!
It was fun, during Pauline Hanson’s brief media-driven popularity, to attend meetings of her supporters and listen to them rail against globalisation and cheap imports and the destruction of local industry. And then watch them all drive home in inexpensive, reliable, imported Hyundais.
It was only last week that I stood with a friend looking across the docks at Port Adelaide, taking in what seemed like hundreds and hundreds of cars, waiting to be shipped out. 'Gees', I said, "imagine the blow to this place if Mitsubishi shuts down". We shuddered at the thought ... What would happen if everything produced in Adelaide was subject to a management stuff-up, or became cheaper to produce somewhere else in the world? We'd just shut the whole joint down I guess.
Poor shuddering Chris, all worried about the Australian car industry! Naturally, I assumed my pro-local pal owned an Australian-made vehicle. But asked about this -- you can find our conversation at the above link -- Chris became strangely evasive:
That's for me to know and you to explain what it possibly has to do with the issue. Whatever I drive has nothing to do with the "creative destruction" of capitalism, as Schumpeter termed it, somewhat politely imo.
The point is right or wrong (or debatable on the merits, if you must). Whatever any individual may drive has no standing in this context.
If you're into that kind of thing, why not blog a post over at Spleenville which asks everyone what they drive.
Good idea! I drive an imported Mazda MX-5. Chris Sheil drives a Weak Argument. Or a Schumpeter, whatever the hell that is.
• Mark Steyn’s latest:
Here's a story no American news organization thought worth covering last week, so you'll just have to take it from me. In the southern Iraqi town of Amara, 20 men from Scotland's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders came under attack from 100 or so of Muqtada al-Sadr's ''insurgents.'' So they fixed bayonets and charged.
It was the first British bayonet charge since the Falklands War 20 years ago. And at the end of it some 35 of the enemy were dead in return for three minor wounds on the Argylls' side.
• Tim Dunlop attends a John Kerry fundraiser in Washington, and discovers widespread ignorance about the war in Iraq: "Not one person knew of Australia's involvement."
• Aieeeee! The Blair Watch Project is out to get me!
• For quality reviews of Bogart classics, look no further.
• What about this month-long break I’m meant to be on? Well, I’ve cut way back on posting, but actual money work left more opportunity for blogging than I anticipated. And, again, much thanks to all who’ve recently donated.
• Air America host Randi Rhodes doesn’t know when World War II ended.
I am sure that the one who wielded the knife felt Nick's breath on his hand and knew that he had a real human being there. I am sure that the others looked into my son's eyes and got at least a glimmer of what the rest of the world sees. And I am sure that these murderers, for just a brief moment, did not like what they were doing.
George Bush never looked into my son's eyes.
He never carved your son’s head off, either.
By studying Islam's self-image, we can collect symptoms of the 'disease' that ails Islamic society, writes Julian Nimio:
Of course, every Muslim is not always ignorant, hypocritical and obedient. Of course, Islam does not have a monopoly on ignorance, hypocrisy and obedience. But when we interpret Islamic society through these lenses, current events make a lot more sense.
(Note: a few proper nouns have been altered in the above extract, so that it "makes a lot more sense".)
George W. Bush hits the dirt:
President Bush fell off his bicycle Saturday while riding on his ranch, according to White House spokesman Trent Duffy.
Bush, who was accompanied on his bike ride by his doctor, Richard Tubb, a military agent and a member of the Secret Service, fell about 16 miles into a 17-mile ride.
Bush suffered minor abrasions to his chin, upper lip, nose, right hand and both knees, but was able to ride back home, Duffy said.
UPDATE. The reason for Kerry's recent shoulder surgery? Fell off his bike in '92.
Fred Barnes on Michael Moore:
A few years ago Michael Moore, who's now promoting an anti-President Bush movie entitled Fahrenheit 9/11, announced he'd gotten the goods on me, indeed hung me out to dry on my own words. It was in his first bestselling book, Stupid White Men. Moore wrote he'd once been "forced" to listen to my comments on a TV chat show, The McLaughlin Group. I had whined "on and on about the sorry state of American education," Moore said, and wound up by bellowing: "These kids don't even know what The Iliad and The Odyssey are!"
Moore's interest was piqued, so the next day he said he called me. "Fred," he quoted himself as saying, "tell me what The Iliad and The Odyssey are." I started "hemming and hawing," Moore wrote. And then I said, according to Moore: "Well, they're . . . uh . . . you know . . . uh . . . okay, fine, you got me--I don't know what they're about. Happy now?" He'd smoked me out as a fraud, or maybe worse.
The only problem is none of this is true. It never happened. Moore is a liar. He made it up.
Meanwhile, Jean-Luc Godard reveals himself to be a Moore doubter:
Godard went on to say that the Flint, Mich.-born director lacks subtlety. "Moore doesn't distinguish between text and image," Godard argued. "He doesn't know what he's doing."
Publishing house ReganBooks announced plans this week to release an anti-Moore book called Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man. The book comes from authors Jason Clarke and David T. Hardy, the web agitators who run mooreexposed.com and moorelies.com, sites which are aimed at discrediting Moore's books and movies.
As the limousine carrying Moore to his Cannes press conference pulls out of the Majestic, bound for the Palais less than 200 yards up the road ...
The entire Guardian piece on Moore is worth reading, by the way.
UPDATE II. Moore’s Cannes victory speech is characteristically modest and tasteful:
"I want to make sure if I do nothing else for the rest of this year that those who died in Iraq have not died in vain."
The company was responsible for providing thanksgiving dinner to none other than US President George Bush when he made a surprise visit to Baghdad last year, appearing in front of the cameras offering US troops that plastic turkey on a tray.
It’s been nearly six months since The Washington Post first wrote about Bush’s folkloric fowl. And in that very first report, we find this:
A contractor had roasted and primped the turkey to adorn the buffet line.
(Via reader Alan A.)
UPDATE: Yet more bogus turkey believers: Southern Illinois University physiology instructor Mick Youther, Australian Greens member of Parliament Michael Organ, and CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. The fake turkey is true, because I can feel it in my soul!
Calling Americans "barbaric wild beasts" who are "born in brothels," likely Arab propagandists have sent a group of "rape" photographs – including some WND uncovered as fake images taken from a pornographic website – to an Australian TV program.
Staff of the program, called "Media Watch," contacted WND yesterday to get help identifying the photos, which the senders claim depict U.S. servicemen raping Iraqi women. WorldNetDaily was able to confirm that all eight "rape" photos were taken from the same pornographic site previously identified, "Sex In War."
World Net Daily’s work was mentioned earlier by Professor Bunyip and in The Bulletin. Research-averse Sydney Morning Herald columnist Alan Ramsey was duped by the “rape” images, which should earn him a Media Watch citation.
Wonder if they’ll also bring up Ramsey's plastic turkey blunder; not likely, considering this email I received from Media Watch executive producer Peter McEvoy after I wrote asking him why the turkey myth hadn’t been mentioned on his program:
Why don't you do the work to investigate this turkey yourself, and publish the results in your column?
Silly me. Here was I thinking a show called "Media Watch" might actually conduct such investigations itself.
The names of more than 700 American service members killed in Iraq will appear in a "Doonesbury" comic strip during the Memorial Day weekend.
The comic will list chronologically the names of 702 soldiers killed through April 23, said Lee Salem, editor of the Kansas City-based Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes the strip.
"The intent is to recognize those who died," Salem said.
• ABC, NBC, NPR, CNN, Newsweek, The New York Times, and The Washington Post all hyped the debut of Air America. What have they written since, as Air America slumps towards collapse? Not much.
• When the Melbourne Age claims that the prisoner abuse scandal has widened, it only means that they’ve got a new photograph of an event over which charges were laid following an investigation back in January.
• Attention, Danish Royal wedding fans! (ie, all Australian women). Photographer Hans Nyberg writes: "I know Australia saw much of the wedding on TV but you cannot see an event on TV the way you can in a 360 degree QTVR. I was assigned by Danish television to shoot panoramas from the event. And of course they are also in full screen QTVR which I have introduced on the net. You can view them all from Panoramas.dk where I have posted an additional full screen from the Cathedral." Or from here.
• Celebrate Arthur Chrenkoff’s 40,000th hit in just eight weeks by contributing to his reader competition. (Arthur is a recent addition to the blogroll at left, along with Election Projection and Chase Me Ladies.)
• Ted Lapkin writes: “Amnesty International has argued that the US violates the law of war by refusing to apply the Convention to Guantanamo detainees. Yet a sober perusal of the Third Geneva Convention reveals that US policy towards captured al-Qa'ida and Taliban fighters is consistent with the law of armed conflict.”
• Robert Fisk complains about "inhumanity" and "scare tactics". Except this Robert Fisk is a bear-shooting opponent who lives in Maine.
• Rejoice, followers of idiot women who can’t write! Maureen Dowd’s new book is "a powerful look at the current administration." And Margo Kingston’s new book is "a no-holds-barred expose of what she terms as John Howard's 'Anglo-fascist' agenda." Yay!
This article originally appeared in The Daily Telegraph:
"Michael Moore backs striking French workers," read the weekend's headlines from the Cannes Film Festival. In fact, the people Moore backed were the opposite of workers -- they were unemployed actors, and they were protesting about welfare cuts. So they weren’t actually on strike, either. An accurate headline might have read: "Michael Moore backs work-shy French dole mimes."
Accuracy tends to elude Moore, in Cannes to promote Fahrenheit 9/11, his latest anti-George W. Bush propaganda exercise. By all accounts it should satisfy the same gigantic audience that enjoyed Moore’s previous film, Bowling for Columbine, and his best-selling books Stupid White Men, Dude, What Happened to my Country?, and Hey, Commies! Buy This Book and Make a Fat Millionaire Even Richer!
A complete list of the misrepresentations in these works would run longer than a Kenyan marathoner. Among Columbine's howlers, Moore altered an old Bush/Quayle ad to include words that didn't appear originally, claimed that the U.S. gave $245 million to the Taliban, and described harmless missiles designed to launch weather satellites as "weapons of mass destruction". Central to Moore's new movie is an alleged conspiracy between the Evil Bush Family and Wicked Saudi Oilmen, which led to -- as Moore presents it -- the stealthy spiriting away from America of bin Laden family members following September 11.
This will excite people who haven't read the testimony from the 9/11 Commission, which cleared the US government of wrongdoing over the bin Laden family issue. (Incidentally, if Moore had serious evidence of governmental mischief, what was he doing concealing it for more than a year?) Little surprise that most of Mike’s causes end up destroyed. Hand him a cute little pet cause and he’ll hug it and pat it and squeeze it and hug it and ... oops. Dead.
Like Payback Tuesday, Moore's advance description of the 2002 congressional elections. "We will deny Bush control of the Congress," Moore predicted. Result: a massive swing to Bush. And Wesley Clark, of whom Moore said: "He will cream George W. Bush." Result: Wes was wiped. Moore’s latest pet cause is Iraqi insurgency. "They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow," Moore wrote, "and they will win."
Sure they will, Mike. Just like your handout-addicted French drama friends.
UPDATE. Here’s a roundup of views on Moore and his new load of crap. First, from the Hollywood Reporter:
What Moore seems to be pioneering here is a reality film as an election-year device. The facts and arguments are no different than those one can glean from political commentary or recently published books on these subjects. Only the impact of film may prove greater than the printed word. So the real question is not how good a film is "Fahrenheit 9/11" -- it is undoubtedly Moore's weakest -- but will a film help to get a president fired?
From Britain’s Daily Telegraph:
The simple truth about Michael Moore is that this self-righteous critic of corporate America is one of its most bloated beneficiaries. It is time someone made a film about him - and, we are pleased to report, someone is. Forget Fahrenheit 9/11: later this year, a young film-maker called Mike Wilson will unveil a documentary entitled Michael Moore Hates America, in which the self-proclaimed "slob in a baseball cap" will find his techniques turned on himself. Don't miss it.
The Dallas News:
Some journalists suggested there wasn't much new information in the film about President Bush and the Iraqi war.
From Ben Shapiro:
If anyone ever doubted that colleges are more similar to France than they are to mainstream America, Michael Moore's reception on campus should quell those doubts. As long as there are universities, Michael Moore and his ilk will never go out of business.
And finally, a quote from Moore that reveals a certain insight into the modern Left:
"It is rare, and I don't know when it's happened in the last 20 or 30 years, when someone on the left has crossed over to mainstream America," Moore said. "That's mostly the left's fault, because they don't know how to talk to real people. In fact, they don't really like real people, a lot of them."
That’s why they like you, Michael.
• Salam Pax revealed! He’s in Australia for the Sydney Wanker’s Festival.
• Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian: “A media willing to incite Arab outrage but spare our own is not a media interested in balance. This one-sided reporting of our own misdeeds eats away at our resolve to stay the distance. Indeed, one suspects that is its purpose.”
• The Sydney Morning Herald reports: "David Hicks received a prolonged beating from US military personnel during an interrogation soon after his capture in Afghanistan." The source for this claim? Hicks’ lawyer Stephen Kenny, who "gave no details of the abuse but said it was sanctioned by higher authorities."
• Four “people” have reportedly been arrested over Nick Berg’s murder.
Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Mark Latham, Professor John Spencer, Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard, Steve Bracks, John Howard, Mike Seccombe, Alan Ramsey, Christopher Pyne, Sherrie Gossett, Laura Tingle, Nicholas Berg, Michael Berg, Alexander Downer, Paul Wolfowitz, Ian Moore, and Ruslana.
UPDATE. Further to the dental issues mentioned in this week’s column, Julia Gillard advisor Jamie Snashall writes:
When the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee inquiry into Public Dental Services published its report in May 1998, they found that when the Commonwealth Dental Health Program was abolished (abolition in the 1996 Budget, but funding would have run until the end of the 96-97 financial year)there were approximately 380,000 Australians waiting an average of 6 months for public dental care.
The Australian Health Policy Institute then commissioned a paper in 2001 from Prof AJ Spencer of Sydney University. He found that by May 2000, that figure had blown out to half a million people waiting for between 8 months and 5 years for public dental care. The collection of national figures has since stopped.
The waiting list figures I have (a compilation of State figures) - which are mid 2002 - are incomplete, but show approx 450,000 people waiting and that is excluding New South Wales figures.
From: Tim Blair
Date: Tue May 18, 2004 1:45:59 PM
To: David Marr
Subject: abc bias
Do you believe that Media Watch is an example of the ABC's lack of political bias?
From: David Marr
Date: Tue May 18, 2004 2:33:19 PM
To: Tim Blair
Subject: Re: abc bias
UPDATE. Gareth Parker has more.
UPDATE II. So does Andrew Bolt:
Instead of simply vilifying non-Leftist commentators, why not give some a chance on your show to argue back? Isn't that fair?
Darrell Morris, the media liaison officer for James Cook University’s United Nations Society, sent me an email yesterday about AMUNC, which apparently is some kind of pretend-UN festival happening in Australia:
AMUNC is the Asia-Pacific Model United Nations Conference. This is the 1st time the conference is being hosted by a regional Australian University & the 2nd time in 10yrs that the conference is being hosted outside Melbourne & Sydney. The students organising this conference have a vision to expand & develop AMUNC into an Asia Pacific phenomenon.
The conference runs from 5-11 July is hoping to attract over 600 delegates from all over Australia, Asia& the Pacific to participate in a week packed full of diplomacy, social functions & other activities.
It is an annual event that attracts tertiary students from around the Asia-
Pacific region to a week of diplomatic frenzy. Student delegates who attend this conference role-play as ambassadors to the UN & affiliated organisations. The host university provides a realistic simulation in which dozens of international disputes are resolved.
Naturally, I expected the email to at some point invite me to this AMUNC-athon, where I might add to the realism by bribing pretend delegates with pretend oil money. I’d even planned to kiss a pretend George Galloway! But no invitation was included. Guess I’ll just have to role-play by sitting at home and doing nothing.
Reader IXLNXS writes:
Invading Iraq for one shell of outdated sarin gas equates to the local police kicking in your door and shooting your family because your supposedly have a huge weapons cache, and they end up finding a pistol.
Lets wait and see what else develops of this before the "Mission Accomplished" banner unveils shall we.
And reader CurrencyLad responds:
Your analogy should run like this:
Three of that family's neighbours had been shot at by the householder concerned. The Kurdish neighbours down the street had been poisoned to death. The police issued operational commands for the household to be lawfully raded by SWAT unless the madman came out peacefully. Affadavits had been signed by most of the local citizens attesting to the relevant crimes.
The miscreant householder didn't come out with his hands up. A few of the neighbours were being bribed to look the other way, as were a few police officers. Fearful for their well being, some of the neighbours facilitated the rading of the house by a coalition of security firms. The madman was removed.
Doesn't even really matter whether or not they found weapons in the manhole or the basement. As it happens, they found a few. Kurdish neighbours will not be slaughtered again, others will not be burgled again. Madman's children will not be abused again.
Mission goddam accomplished.
By the way. this brief return to blogging is made possible by various happy money-related factors. Many thanks to all who’ve donated in recent days; an actual Pledge Drive is planned for later in the year. Sydney readers are invited to purchase a copy of today’s Daily Telegraph, in which I make several observations on the subject of Michael Moore’s new film.
Due to space limitations, the word “fat” appears only once.
John O'Sullivan in the Chicago Sun-Times:
Admittedly, reporters and editors make mistakes. But when all the mistakes are on the side of opposing the liberation of Iraq, and none of the mistakes favor the United States or Britain or Bush or Blair, it tells you something.
Namely, which side they're on.
The Odd Couple star Tony Randall has died at 84. To hell with Friends; Felix and Oscar were far cooler than Rachel and ... umm ... that guy who can’t act, and had a monkey. Paulo? Geoffrey? Apple? Whatever his name was.
Also, their apartment was better.
I've got a lot of paying work to complete, so I’m taking the next month off. See you back here June 13. Meanwhile, please check out the (recently updated) links at left.
Robert Fisk, last week:
Just look at the way US army reservist Lynndie England holds the leash of the naked, bearded Iraqi. Take a close look at the leather strap, the pain on the prisoner's face. No sadistic movie could outdo the damage of this image.
Really, Robert? Take a look at the the beheading of Nick Berg, via a currently overloaded link at LGF. Sane readers might also examine this butchery, and afterwards wonder at The Melbourne Age’s headline:
US rocked by 'execution'
Excuse me, but is there some doubt that Berg was executed? Did his head just accidentally fall off, and roll into the hands of the masked bastard who held it up before the camera? Here’s Farifax correspondent Marian Wilkinson’s intro:
The beheading of a US citizen by Islamic terrorists in retaliation for abuses at Abu Ghraib prison has rocked the Bush Administration as it battles increasing violence in Iraq triggered by graphic photographs showing prisoners being abused and a Senate inquiry into the scandal.
Berg’s subsequent execution -- imagine the mindset of a person who’d run that word in quotes -- was plainly opportunistic and intended to capitalise on media-driven Abu Ghraib hysteria. Prior to Berg’s capture, we knew that Larry T. Elliott, Jean Dover Elliott, Karen Denise Watson, and David E. McDonnall were murdered on March 16; that four US contractors were slain on March 31 and their bodies suspended from a Euphrates River bridge; and that Fabrizio Quattrocchi was executed on April 15. These crimes were in retaliation for what?
Wilkinson supplies a slightly different introduction to her piece for the Sydney Morning Herald:
The beheading of an American in Iraq in retaliation for the abuse of prisoners has rocked the Bush Administration as it emerged that the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had approved harsh interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay.
The SMH’s headline?
Chilling payback over abuse scandal
UPDATE. Consider, in the wake of Berg’s murder, Dan Rather’s words:
"What drives American civilians to risk death in Iraq? In this economy, it may be, for some, the only job they can find."
They could always read autocues. As an antidote to all of the above, view this.
A little over a year ago, CNN rejoiced in its new-found freedom to report the truth about Iraq:
As Baghdad fell last week, CNN announced that it too had been liberated. On the New York Times' op-ed page on Friday, Eason Jordan, the network's news chief, admitted that his organization had learned some "awful things" about the Baathist regime--murders, tortures, assassination plots--that it simply could not broadcast earlier. Reporting these stories, Mr. Jordan wrote, "would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff."
Gary Bauer points out today that formerly-cautious CNN has since become "a non-stop media frenzy machine" on the prison abuse scandal. Did CNN consider whether any lives might be jeopardised? In other journalism news, Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker piece begins thusly:
In the era of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world’s most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions. As many as fifty thousand men and women—no accurate count is possible—were jammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, in twelve-by-twelve-foot cells that were little more than human holding pits.
In the looting that followed the regime’s collapse, last April, the huge prison complex, by then deserted, was stripped of everything that could be removed, including doors, windows, and bricks.
Correction: the prison wasn’t looted. It was souvenired. That’s the word Paul McGeough uses, anyway:
Perhaps the inmates of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison should count themselves lucky that in the days after last year's US-led invasion, one of my press colleagues souvenired the noose from the gallows in the prison west of Baghdad.
That word only applies when journalists are involved, however. Non-media souvenir hunters are simply looters, according to McGeough. Looters "who went through the buildings like locusts." They were, he wrote, "a product of the regime that has shaped them - poorly educated, hungry for revenge after decades of oppression and unable to appreciate the damage they are doing to the country that is theirs."
Which makes them different to journalists ... how, exactly?
(An earlier mention of this story here.)
UPDATE. Mark Steyn:
The media are happy to show us Iraqi criminals on dog leashes night after night, because they shame Americans. To see the Berg or Pearl videos would anger Americans, and that doesn't suit the media's purposes. The Islamists have begun to figure this out. That AOL headline could just as easily have read "Abuse Scandal Media Overkill's Deadly Fallout".
Moore, the polemicist behind Bowling for Columbine, has spent the last week fighting Disney and, so far, winning every round. Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, about George Bush, the Bin Laden family and their collective dirty deeds, was made under the auspices of Miramax, a Disney subsidiary, but Disney is refusing to distribute it. Moore says that this is an issue of free speech, since its refusal may mean it is never seen in America.
There is no Arab country - none - in which prisoners aren't treated immeasurably worse than the victims of the sadists in uniform at Abu Ghraib.
Ralph Peters kicks off a mini wrap-up of various Abu Ghraib pieces. My own view? The prison abuse is abominable, in and of itself, but doesn’t speak to wider issues involving the war, the occupation, or the liberation of Iraq. The racism of some western coverage -- which assumed Iraqis would be universally hateful towards the US following publication of the torture photographs, as though Iraqis aren’t capable of telling good (liberation) from bad (naked men menaced by dogs) -- is blatant, and is refuted by sites like Iraq the Model, among others. Iraqis, more than most, are aware that good and evil can co-exist within nations. Anyway, the wrap-up:
In Canada’s Globe and Mail, Laura Robinson writes that the abuse nearly reached the level of hockey hazing:
The brutal sadomasochistic acts themselves are hardly original. They are strongly reminiscent of the initiation rites some soldiers themselves report taking place at the start of their military service.
The truth is, they also bear a striking resemblance to what junior and NHL hockey players have told me formed part of their own initiations in playing hockey in this country.
One day, a Sudanese black will scour the world press archives to find out what the world was preoccupied with while her family and hundreds of thousands of other Sudanese blacks were raped, enslaved, ethnically cleansed of their lands and murdered. She will learn the world was deeply concerned with a couple of dozen Iraqi men photographed in humiliating sexual positions.
While the world is busy denouncing the United States for the deplorable behavior of a few soldiers, it is oblivious to growing incitement by Islamist clerics against America and the West. Calling for jihad earlier this month in London, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad told his disciples: "All Muslims of the West will be obliged to become his sword" in a new battle. At the same time, another Islamist, Imam Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, is preaching in London that "it's okay to kill [those who] work against Islam, by slitting their throats, or by shooting them."
Blogger Cicada catches The Guardian in its latest contradiction, wherein it first denounces “coalition partner” Britain as implicated in the Bush regime’s crimes before declaring of Bush:
More important, however, is his international policy agenda, which has been consistently unilateral and destabilising.
Consistently unilateral -- but with partners. Guess it makes sense to The Guardian.
(Much thanks to contributor J.F. Beck)
UPDATE. You want your abuse of prisoners? Click here.
This week’s Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions Bilal, Hakeem, Musad, Charles Darwin, Mark Latham, Aphrodite, Pauline Hanson, Bonnie Bryant Hiller, Claudia Karvan, Osama bin Laden, Paul Bremer, Shakespeare, Sheik Abdul-Sattar al-Bahadli, Reemon A'adel Sami, Imad Al-Sa'ad, and Iraq the Model.
Hugh White, director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, believes the UN’s credibility will save Iraq:
Iraq needs the power of the US and the credibility of the UN. The US must sustain its huge commitment of resources to Iraq, but put the UN unambiguously in charge of the whole operation.
Let's be clear how radical this suggestion is. US forces would remain in Iraq, but come under UN command. The massive US aid effort would continue, but under UN control. The UN should take full responsibility for the management of Iraq's political transition, and America would surrender to the UN its say over Iraq's political and strategic future. Paul Bremer would be replaced by a UN-appointed High Commissioner, answerable to the Security Council.
Not mentioned at all by White is a certain $10 BILLION OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL. Presumably the Australian Strategic Policy Institute doesn’t take into account such trifles when determining an organisation’s credibility. Hey, let’s replace Paul Bremer with Benon Sevan! Speaking of whom:
So now there's a third "hush" letter from the United Nations demanding that an Oil for Food Program contractor cease cooperation with Congressional investigators. Dated April 27, the note -- like earlier ones to inspection companies Saybolt and Cotecna -- is signed by another U.N. official "for Benon V. Sevan," the outgoing Iraq Program chief. In this case the recipient was an individual consultant whose name was blacked out by our Capitol Hill source.
The purpose of the first of these letters to surface, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard argued last week, was to facilitate evidence gathering by the U.N.-backed inquiry headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. This excuse didn't make a whole lot of sense. It's not as if the Oil for Food-related documents in question could be shared with either Congress or Mr. Volcker but not both. But this latest hush letter adds a new wrinkle, stating twice that the U.N. demands control of "documentation or information" (emphasis added). Translation: Shut up or we'll sue.
I don’t get it. According to Tim Dunlop’s UN friend, the joint is a total free-information zone:
She said the thing that most struck her about moving to the UN was that there was no such thing as a confidential report at the UN. Part of the philosophy of the place is that everyone can see everything and she said it took some getting used to just leave stuff on her desk and to not have a safe in her office for storing sensistive documents.
I wish Tim would tap this source again.
Because as all right-thinking people know, the Gilligan report, although wrong in virtually every particular, was actually right in virtually every particular. And that is because everyone knows for a certainty, don't they, that simply everything that Tony Blair and Geoff Hoon and John Scarlett ever said which had any bearing on the war on Iraq was a lie -- even though the evidence to Hutton (as opposed to the reporting of the evidence to Hutton, which was a bent cherry-pickers' paradise) clearly demolished every aspect of the case made against them -- because the war on Iraq was wrong, and so everyone who opposed the war is honest and truthful and brave and everyone who supported the war is a dishonest, dangerous, insane neo-con lickspittle.
Paul McGeough in Tuesday’s SMH:
New allegations of abuse of Iraqi prisoners, accompanied by some of the worst images so far, are overwhelming the White House's efforts to contain a scandal that is swamping President George Bush's re-election campaign.
And a report the same day from Investors.com:
Despite the Iraq prison scandal that has rocked the Bush administration and damaged America's credibility, the latest Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll shows that the president would win if the election were held today.
Many US commentators noted over the past week that Bush’s numbers weren’t being hurt (or were improving) during the abuse scandal. This phenomenon hasn’t been reported at all in Australia, so far as I can tell.
Who has the best breasts in Hollywood? Sheila O’Malley wants to know. Michael Moore is yet to be nominated, probably due to Disney interference.
Rob Hinkley at Semiskimmed writes:
Conveniently, he provided me with the e-mail address to tell MSNBC I fully understand they're under no obligation to run the work of a talentless doodler if they don't want to.
Send a note to MSNBC! Ted Rall demands it!
UPDATE. Jim Treacher has the latest on pretender-Ranger Micah Wright, presently howling like a cat in a microwave over the terrible treatment he’s been subject to. Cover your ears. As Treacher writes: "You'd think a former paratrooper would know not to keep kicking his legs on the way down... oh, right. Forgot."
UPDATE II. Ted Rall, big man.
Here’s some sophisticated Budget analysis from the SMH’s Tom Burton:
For some it's wine and roses, for others not even a milkshake. Middle and high income earning families are the big winners of tonight's Budget with the promise of tax cuts and benefits worth up to to $117 a week - but if you're single with no kids and earn less than $50,000, you get nothing.
I hate this kind of reporting, which ignores existing tax rates under which the tragic childless sub-$50,000 earners pay tax at a lower rate than those earning more. The fact that this rate isn’t further reduced means, according to Burton, that they get “nothing”.
Greenpeace campaigns manager Danny Kennedy said the Budget failed to address the key threat of national warming.
Global warming is now thinking local. Stand by for neighbourhood warming and frightening increases in living-room warming.
Turns out brotherhood only goes so far:
A Boston labor union representing some 6,000 members has amended its benefit plans to exclude gay married couples from receiving health and pension benefits, evoking fear in some labor unions in Massachusetts that the move will set a dangerous precedent for other unions and employers throughout the state.
Anticipating the legalization of same-sex marriage inMassachusetts next week, trustees and administrators of the benefit plans of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 issued a clarification of the phrase "dependent spouse" to mean "a person of the opposite sex." The clarification was announced in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe, sent Friday to union members throughout Eastern Massachusetts.
We now cross to the Al-Quds University Debating Society, where Junior Hamas is presenting the “I kill you!” case, while Fatah Youth argues “No, I kill you!”:
At least eight Palestinians were injured yesterday in the center of Nablus when a gunfight broke out between Hamas and Fatah activists.
The gunfight took place against the backdrop of elections to the student council of the Open Al-Quds University, based in the city's Rafadiyeh neighborhood.
Palestinian sources said it began as a brawl between Hamas activists, who were looking to set up a campaign booth on the university grounds, and Fatah youth, who wanted to stop them.
The brawl and shouting match soon turned into a knife fight, the sources said, adding a large group of Fatah activists then arrived on the scene and set fire to furniture and office equipment belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad opposition groups on campus. Shortly thereafter, the gunfight began.
A Palestinian teen who decided not to blow himself up in Jerusalem after all caused panic in a West Bank security office on when he went for help, officials said today.
Palestinian security officials said a youth appeared at their Ramallah office late last week and stripped off his jacket - revealing an explosives-filled vest with a detonation switch at his neck.
The youth, whose name was not released, told the officers he was recruited by the Islamic Jihad group in Jenin and was supposed to blow himself up in Jerusalem.
On the way, though, he had second thoughts. "I kept thinking of myself, of my family, and to be honest - I don't want to die," one of the officers quoted the youth as saying.
The abuse of Iraq prisoners by American soldiers was disgusting.
But also disgusting is that this abuse seems to delight anti-war activists -- and particularly many journalists.
For them, it seems "proof" that the democratic United States is as bad as the genocidal regime of Saddam Hussein. Or worse.
ABC AM's Fran Kelly even found a former British prisoner of Saddam, Andy McNab of the SAS, to ask: "Were you tortured and humiliated in similar ways by the Iraqis?"
McNab, of course, pointed out that making prisoners pose naked in sexual poses was awful, but nothing as bad as what he'd suffered -- whipping, a tooth yanked out and hot spoons held to his legs.
The latest from Margo Kingston, whose comical illiteracy is somehow unable to be corrected by a multi-million dollar media empire:
Makes you winder what the Administration is really sorry about, doesn’t it?
Makes me winder if these guys can supply an editor or proof-reader.
Occupying forces stand accused of terrible crimes against the people they claim to be helping:
The UN Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (Unmee) patrols a 1,000km (620 mile) border between the two Horn of Africa countries, which fought a war between 1998 and 2000 that is thought to have killed more than 70,000 people.
Eritrea broadcast a statement on Thursday alleging a string of offences committed by Unmee, including housing criminals, paedophilia, making pornography and even using the national currency as toilet paper.
An Unmee report last June quoted Eritrean women as saying Irish peacekeepers on the mission had used prostitutes as young as 15.
The Eritrean government said: "The fact that Unmee has to date not taken any concrete actions and shown no co-operation to correct its modus operandi and clean up its activities, exposes to grave danger the peace and stability of the people and government of Eritrea, as well as the security and stability of our region."
Bring on the photographs.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough reports:
Perhaps the inmates of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison should count themselves lucky that in the days after last year's US-led invasion, one of my press colleagues souvenired the noose from the gallows in the prison west of Baghdad.
Er, Paul ... that’s called “looting”. McGeough concludes another report with this:
Iran, Iraq's neighbour and foe of Washington, yesterday weighed in to the scandal, claiming it had obtained documents showing the abuses in US detention were far worse and had been going on much longer than had so far come to light.
Those Iranians, always so deeply concerned about human rights abuses. McGeough will accept the opinion of anybody -- murderers, torturers, whoever -- just so long as that opinion is anti-US. It degrades his opposition to the war and to the appalling treatment of those in Abu Ghraib.
The following letter to the editor (no link available) ran in today's Newcastle Herald:
We are all aware, mainly through government rhetoric, that Saddam Hussein was a bad ruler.
Most Australians are unaware of the good that occurred under Saddam.
Copious funds were given to schools and hospitals. All religions were encouraged - their expenses, such as electricity, were even paid for.
Women were allowed to work and wear what they wanted.
Via reader Peter S. There’s more local clue-free opinion, from Nick Kenny of North Ryde, in today’s SMH (again, no link -- this letter doesn’t appear online):
Iraqis have no employment, food, water, electricity, nor any certainty about the future of their nation. Suicide bombings are regularly occurring in major cities. Iraqi prisoners are being treated as subhumans. Is this what Mr Bush calls freedom?
Mr. Kenny must be a real handful at McDonald’s. “I have no fries! I ordered fries! But I have none!” “Sir, your fries are right in front of you.” “No they aren't! There are no fries anywhere in this entire restaurant!” etc.
If Col Allan was Margo Kingston’s editor ...
COL sits in his office, idly scanning the copy for tomorrow’s op-ed pages. His blank expression suddenly changes to a scowl. He reaches for the telephone.
COL: Sally? Could you tell Margo Kingston to pay me a friendly visit, please? Thank you, sweetheart.
Thirty minutes later, MARGO walks into COL’s office. Still reading, he doesn’t look up.
COL: Margo! Your charming 120-decibel gum-chewing announces your arrival. Please, take a seat.
MARGO: I hope this won’t take long. I’ve got an important Robert Bosler piece to put online with little or no editing.
COL: Who? Oh, yes. Bosler. Then I won’t waste too much of your time. It’s about your column for tomorrow, Margo. I’m not sure about this intro: "John Howard is a weak man."
MARGO: Yeah. So?
COL: By all means, call him weak. By all means! I’ve called him worse. But do you have anything to support that line? (COL hands MARGO a clipping from the Sydney Morning Herald) Howard’s decision to join the invasion of Iraq was unpopular. You think that makes him weak?
MARGO: It’s an opinion piece. That’s my opinion!
COL: Margo, it might also be your opinion that John Howard is an octopus. But unless you’ve got pictures showing him waving his tentacles and eating live crabs, that opinion isn’t worth running in a newspaper people pay money for. People don’t care what you think. They buy newspapers for information, not for ...
MARGO: But I’m giving them information! Look, I’ve got all the details from the 60 Minutes broadcast.
COL: It was 60 Minutes II, Margo. A different program.
MARGO: (puzzled) There’s a 60 Minutes II now?
COL: And what does this mean: "Now that we know what the Americans do to prisoners, the Australian Government says nothing. Nothing." For fuck’s sake, Margo ... (COL slides another clipping towards the uncomfortable columnist) Read it out loud, Margo. Read what the Prime Minister didn’t have to say.
MARGO: Ummm ... (glances through the article, finally locating the PM’s words) "I condemn it unconditionally and any mistreatment should be condemned."
COL: Right. Now, does that sound like somebody saying "nothing"?
MARGO: Well, it’s kind of saying nothing, because he’s really saying that ...
COL: (slams his desk with both fists) FUCKING BULLSHIT! You want to attack Howard? Go right ahead, but arm yourself with some facts before you expose you, me, and this newspaper to absolute fucking ridicule! (COL smashes wildly at his telephone keypad.) SALLY! BRING ME A CIGARETTE! Margo, if I want to read opinions like this, I’ll read -- what’s it called -- Indo Media, or whatever its name is. I’m not going to ask civilised human beings to pay money for this load of ...
MARGO: Col, Indymedia is a crucial and idealistic venue for alternative opinions on the current global crisis.
COL: (long pause) Really. (Another long pause, extended by Sally’s arrival with a cigarette) And what do you think the idealists at Indymedia would think of this: "Imagine if Tony Blair and Howard had had the courage to say no to an idiot President advised by mad ideologues like Rumsfeld."
MARGO: I think they’d support my brave stand against the Yank's government-military hegemony.
COL: That's Yanks', Margo. (COL hits redial) Sally? Call Indymedia. Tell them there’s an out-of-work columnist they might be interested in.
This review first appeared in the Sunday Telegraph:
In 1955, the Ford Motor Company hired poet Marianne Moore to come up with a name for its latest model*. Moore supplied 6,000 suggestions ... and every single one of them was rejected by alarmed executives. They didn’t believe that American motorists would be willing to buy something called Mongoose Civique or Pastelogram or Silver Sword or Resilient Bullet; also knocked back were The Intelligent Whale, Magigravure, and Turcotinga. Even Utopian Turtletop failed to impress the suits.
If only Marianne were still with us. She might be able to provide a name for the Ford Escape that would lend this mid-size 4WD what it most needs: some distinctiveness and character.
Let’s run through the list of good things about the Escape (and there are quite a few):
The 3.0 litre V6 (standard equipment in the top-of-the-range Limited version tested) is zesty and mostly smooth, although possibly a little wanting for thrust at low revs. Steering is perfectly geared for urban dodgem driving; roundabouts, carparks, and the like. Other primary controls -- brakes, automatic gearshift -- are impressively light, as are secondary controls like doorhandles and rear folding seat. It’s plenty roomy, for people and luggage. Handling is sound. Ride is friendly, as you’d expect from a car-based, all-independently suspended vehicle.
Now, the bad things (and you’ll note that most on this list are minor complaints):
The Escape isn’t really a four-wheel-drive. It’s a front-driver with four-wheel-drive that kicks in when conditions demand. The rest of the time you’ve got 200 horsepower mainly being delivered through the front wheels, which transmit an irritating amount of torque steer back to the driver. Fuel economy isn’t great (11.6 litres per 100 km during speed-cautious highway driving) and is compounded by a small fuel tank. Brakes pull up sharpish enough, but in 2004 it’s wrong to pay more than $30,000 for something equipped with drum rears. The Limited’s leather seats are of the gripless variety; unless you drive bolt upright (hello, bowling ladies!) you’ll find yourself sliding down, down, down towards the pedals during long drives. Remember column shifts? The Escape has one, which in itself isn’t bad, but it’s placed so as to interfere with easy use of the radio/CD player (also, the steering wheel’s large centre often obscures the dashboard gear display; three-point turns involve a lot of neck-craning to work out whether you’re in R or D or N). Big tyres contribute to more road noise than you’d anticipate.
Those are the good and bad things. Trouble is with the Escape is, it mostly falls into a bland “middle” area. Start with the styling. In a market sector now producing some playful and innovative designs, the Escape stands out as a non-stand out. It’s the sort of car that would ideal for anyone in a witness relocation program. Interior-wise, you’re looking at a generic ‘90s layout. Technically ... well, the engine is loaded with a bunch of valves and camshafts, but the rest of the Escape is just your standard point A to point B human transportation module.
Even the name is middling and ambivalent. Do you want to escape in your new Ford, or escape from it? Far better to imagine yourself aboard a stunning Turcotinga or Resilient Bullet than in this unadventurous machine.
*The safety-first name Ford eventually chose, Edsel, didn’t work. In fact, sales were so poor the company lost nearly quarter of a billion dollars and came close to collapse.
Iraqi human rights groups exploring prisoner abuse aren’t falling for any opportunistic fakery:
Fallujah native Abdul-Qader Abdul-Rahman al-Ani, his left elbow wrapped in bandages, his right forearm bound in a cast, recounted how he was beaten by soldiers who picked him up last month. The soldiers tied him and two others arrested with him to a tree and sodomized them one after the other, he told journalists.
"I ask President Bush," he said. "Does he agree with this?"
As Ani, 47, repeated his story, he was interrupted by Jabber al-Okaili, a member of one of the human rights groups that organized the gathering. "He's lying," al-Okaili shouted. "He's a liar!"
Al-Ani was rushed to an office, where al-Okaili and others unwound the bandage on his left arm and found the elbow unscarred and healthy. They cut off half of the cast on his forearm, even as al-Ani insisted, "By God, it's true, everything I say is true."
UPDATE. More fakery, this time in Arab newspapers. As if the genuine abuse wasn't bad enough ...
UPDATE II. SBS television just showed German news footage of Ani making his disputed claim -- and that's all. No mention of anybody calling him a liar.
The Chicago Tribune on UNSCAM:
How much money illegally went to Hussein for palaces, for weapons, for oppression, for mischief? The General Accounting Office, an arm of Congress, puts the total at more than $10 billion.
Annan's response essentially is that the UN is being blamed unfairly for corruption over which it had no control. We'll see.
"I am going back to America tomorrow morning - I am not running away," he said. "I will talk about this when it's all over. Please don't underestimate me."
Nobody does, Mr. Sevan.
Mr Sevan's office ... was criticised last week for sending at least three letters to potential witnesses demanding their silence. The letters were unearthed by the US Congress after witnesses to its own inquiry into the oil-for-food debacle suddenly fell silent.
One letter, written in Mr Sevan's name, was sent to a consultant to the programme who had been identified by congressional investigators as a potential whistleblower.
A congressional investigator said: "This particular individual is someone we have been in contact with for more than a month. This letter has chilled his willingness to co-operate with the congressional investigation. This individual also appears to be genuinely frightened by the implications inherent in the letter."
Smoking was banned at Australian football grounds several years ago; next, we might see no-swearing zones:
The AFL is considering setting up cordoned off areas at football grounds so parents can shield their children from swearing and violence.
This is insane. Without expert instruction, how will children ever learn how to swear? They'll grow up swearing all wrong.
Among stuff I should have mentioned earlier, here’s Rep. Maxine Waters:
"Everywhere we go we seem to make a mess. We've created a mess in Iraq. Our soldiers are dying everyday. Now we find we are violating the prisoners. We're treating them worse than so-called Saddam had treated them."
So-called Saddam? And from Mark Steyn, a terrific piece on so-called John Kerry’s latest dodging:
When Kerry talks about ''any Benedict Arnold CEO or corporation that takes American jobs overseas,'' he's not referring to someone who ''takes jobs overseas.'' Perish the thought! He's all in favor of taking jobs overseas. It wasn't him who attacked all those ''Benedict Arnold CEOs,'' just his ''overzealous speechwriters.'' And the minute he discovered it was going on, he called them to say, ''Look, that's not what I'm saying.''
I mean, OK, it was what he was saying in the narrow technical sense of words emerging from between his lips, day after day, night after night, all through primary season. I had a quick rummage through the Nexis database, and found a mere 746 citations for Kerry and the expression ''Benedict Arnold.'' I myself have personally been present on three occasions when he attacked ''Benedict Arnold CEOs'' who ''take jobs overseas,'' and on two of them he didn't have a TelePrompTer or even a script. He just stood in front of us and the words came out of his mouth, almost as if they were what he himself believed.
In 1983 the Indiana University historian Robert F. Byrnes collected essays from 35 experts on the Soviet Union -- the cream of American academia -- in a book titled After Brezhnev. Their conclusion: Any U.S. thought of winning the Cold War was a pipe dream. "The Soviet Union is going to remain a stable state, with a very stable, conservative, immobile government," Byrnes said in an interview, summing up the book. "We don’t see any collapse or weakening of the Soviet system."
Barely six years later, the Soviet empire began falling apart. By 1991 it had vanished from the face of the earth. Did Professor Byrnes call a press conference to offer an apology for the collective stupidity of his colleagues, or for his part in recording it? Did he edit a new work titled Gosh, We Didn’t Know Our Ass From Our Elbow? Hardly. Being part of the American chattering class means never having to say you’re sorry.
Harry points out the correct way to deal with cat whisperers:
At work today a woman told me that she talks to her cats and tells them her problems, and the cats listen. “You should be locked up,” I thought. If you meet someone who tells you that her best friends are cats, the correct response is to look at your watch and say, “Is that the time? TAXI!” That is what I would do, if I met such a person in my free time. But here there was no escape.
There is no escape but the tomb.
The Observer/Guardian reports:
Encouraging schoolchildren to experiment with oral sex could prove the most effective way of curbing teenage pregnancy rates, a government study has found.
Pupils under 16 who were taught to consider other forms of 'intimacy' such as oral sex were significantly less likely to engage in full intercourse, it was revealed.
Definition of "mixed feelings": a parent whose child receives an A in "other forms of intimacy".
What the hell is New Zealand’s problem with Israel?
"Israelis are a nation of spies and drug dealers", according to New Zealand immigration officials speaking to the Jewish Agency treasurer Shai Hermesh upon his arrival there, reported Army Radio Saturday.
Hermesh and his assistant were detained and searched by airport officials for 3 hours after their arrival in Auckland in spite of the fact that Hermesh presented a diplomatic passport.
The place is full of pinheads. Luckily NZ Pundit is keeping them honest.
If there’s one group on earth you don’t want to confront, it’s part-time French actors angered by planned cuts to their welfare benefits:
Six hundred riot police will shield this year's Cannes film festival from protests by part-time French actors angered by planned cuts to their welfare benefits, officials said on Friday.
Only six hundred cops? What if a freakin' mime militia turns up?
If dead terrorist Osama bin Laden thinks he can scare Kofi Annan, the bug-munched, inanimate former Al Qaeda boss better think again:
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was taking seriously a death threat against him and other U.N. officials allegedly from terror leader Osama bin Laden, but he pledged Friday to "carry on with my work."
Squinting enigmatically from beneath a cowboy hat lowered to conceal one eye, the unshaven UN leader paused to spit tobacco juice before continuing:
"We take it seriously, and we will have to take precautions and then carry on with my life and my work."
In response to press questions about what exactly his “work” is, Annan mounted a white Segway and rode wordlessly away from the UN media centre.
• Congratulations to Muttiah Muralitharan, who now holds the world record for taking the most wickets without actually bowling.
• All my rugby union friends are depressed because the Waratards lost again. Therefore they're all out drinking which, strangely, they'd also planned to do in the event of a 'Tards win.
Iraqi Sarmad Zangna has a message for those who’ve recently become concerned about the treatment of Iraqi prisoners:
Suddenly all people in seems take care of human rights ,and the hall Arabic world get out from his deadly silent ,and cry for the Iraqi prisoners ,those unsent an harmful people ,and those bad and bad Americans soldiers “torches” and “kill” those people with out mercy, ha ha ha ha ... also I speak with some people were in this prison ,the were suspects and they where ,saying ,the American solider treat us so well , and those people don’t represent the hall American ,we could might not ever know a bout the hall think ,but because they are a big deferens between what was happening in saddam time and now ,and the transpierce from the American side ,we know about the hall thing ,I wonder if the hall Arabic regimes allowed the human rights and the press to see what happening in there dark holes.
Yeah, so it’s all Puce-like. I kind of prefer it that way, especially when Sarmad is sarcastic (“saddam was a good guy and we were the bad guys and we heart him ,and he was treating us kindly”). Read the whole post. Here’s another extract:
We will win and we will establish freedom all over our land and more ,we will teach our kids and there kids, and the hall next generations.
Living free or we die .
The scenes from Abu Ghraib have inspired Robert Fisk to apocalyptic hyperbole:
Just look at the way US army reservist Lynndie England holds the leash of the naked, bearded Iraqi. Take a close look at the leather strap, the pain on the prisoner's face. No sadistic movie could outdo the damage of this image. In September 2001, the planes smashed into the buildings; today, Lynndie smashes to pieces our entire morality with just one tug on the leash.
Our entire morality? Lynndie isn’t the only one doing some tugging here.
Could ever Islam have come so intimately into contact with the sexuality of the Old Testament? Could neo-conservative Christianity - Lynndie is also a churchgoer - have collided so violently, so revoltingly, so obscenely with Islam?
Making rather a lot of this, isn’t he? Lynndie also used to hang out at the local Dairy Dip. Maybe her victims preferred Baskin-Robbins. It’s the ultimate ice cream chain confrontation! Fisk believes that unnamed forces compelled Lynndie England -- Fisk refers to her as “a girl” -- and her fellow tormenters to carry out their loathsome acts:
They were told to do these despicable things. They were encouraged. This was an order from someone. Who? When can we see their pictures, their identity, their passports, their orders?
What does it matter? We’re all to blame, according to Robert:
Yes, it's part of a culture, a long tradition that goes back to the Crusades; that the Muslim is dirty, lascivious, un-Christian, unworthy of humanity - which is pretty much what Osama bin Laden (now forgotten by Mr Bush, I notice) believes about us Westerners.
Is there anything Fisk and bin Laden don't agree on?
He knew whom to turn to: David Hackworth, a retired colonel and a muckraker who was always willing to take on the military establishment. Mr. Lawson sent an e-mail message in March to Mr. Hackworth's Web site and got a call back from an associate there in minutes, he said.
That e-mail message would put Mr. Lawson in touch with the CBS News program "60 Minutes II" and help set in motion events that led to the public disclosure of the graphic photographs and an international crisis for the Bush administration.
Hackworth has lately experienced some public disclosure of his own. Old pal Phillip Adams was recently alarmed by reports in the Toledo Blade:
Ken Kurney, a former private, talked about the briefing he’d received when joining Hackworth’s Tiger Force. "What goes on here, stays here. You’ll never tell anyone about it. We find out you did, you won’t like it."
Times have evidently changed for the Hackster:
When he was a sergeant in Korea, one of his soldiers executed four prisoners after making them dig their own graves. Hackworth kicked the man out of his unit but didn't pursue charges, saying in "About Face" that no one reported war crimes in Korea because "all of us had seen too many atrocities, and what is war anyway but one raging atrocity?"
"As liars go," writes the WashPost's Richard Leiby, "he's an 11" -- he being Micah Wright, the faux-Ranger exposed following Leiby’s FOIA request. Kevin Parrott has the last word on one of the creepiest losers to come down the pike in the whole history of creepy loser pike travel.
(Via Jim Treacher, who has a bunch of excellent Wright posts and much else besides.)
One item in the mass of reporting immediately post 9/11 mentioned that the rescue dogs at Ground Zero were becoming distressed because, well, there was nobody at all to rescue. Handlers had to arrange fake rescues -- hiding themselves in the rubble -- to make the dogs happy again.
Here’s a slideshow tribute to the beautiful dogs of 9/11. You won’t believe how compelling it is.
(Via Florida Cracker.)
A letter to the Illinois Leader notes:
One would think that after the media feeding frenzy over President Bush’s National Guard service, John Kerry being called unfit to be commander-in-chief by the retired rear admiral who commanded the Swift Boat force during Kerry’ s brief tour of duty in Vietnam would receive some attention.
It’s certainly received some attention, much of it from people talking the group down. Like Vaughn Ververs in the Washington Post:
There is some skepticism about this group in the press. One of the main organizers is John O'Neill who's been debating Vietnam with Kerry since the two appeared on the Dick Cavett show together in 1971.
That blabbermouth O’Neill! Why won’t he just shut up? Actually, he did, for more than 30 years:
From 1972 onward, whenever people ran against Kerry, they asked O'Neill to spill some more beans, but he always declined.
And here’s O’Neill himself:
Since 1971, I have refused many offers from John Kerry's political opponents to speak out against him. My reluctance to become involved once again in politics is outweighed now by my profound conviction that John Kerry is simply not fit to be America's commander in chief. Nobody has recruited me to come forward. My decision is the inevitable result of my own personal beliefs and life experience.
UPDATE. Cicada points out Kerry’s inability to process good news.
United Nations staff, who presumably joined the global oil-broking firm to further their trading careers, are furious that Kofi Annan is instead sending them to dangerous places:
The resolution, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, said the union was "dismayed that the secretary-general continues to send staff to Iraq despite the present highly volatile and insecure environment."
While UN staff are telling the UN to keep them out of Iraq, the UN is telling others not to tell anyone anything:
The United Nations has sent a stern letter to an important witness in the Iraq oil-for-food investigation, demanding that he not cooperate with congressional probes of the scandal, The Post has learned.
The letter - in the name of oil-for-food program chief Benon Sevan - was sent to a U.N. consultant after it was learned he had been talking to congressional investigators about allegations of wholesale corruption, officials said last night.
Take the UN challenge! Finish this paragraph:
Kofi Annan is the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. Born in Ghana, he completed his bachelor's degree at Macalester College in Minnesota. After earning a Master's degree in Management at M.I.T., he joined the United Nations staff in 1962 and is the first Secretary-General to be elected from among its ranks. Prior to becoming Secretary-General in 1997, Mr. Annan served as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. His tenure coincided with unprecedented growth in the size and scope of ...
"If I were a Jew," writes the Melbourne Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt, "I'd be frightened by the letters of hate in this town's newspapers this week." Silent Running has a follow-up to the propaganda art story that led to the sadly predictable mail outrage.
Air America is sucking air:
In yet another sign of trouble for Air America Radio, the liberal talk network entering its fifth chaotic week on the air, co-founder and chairman Evan Cohen resigned Thursday, as did vice-chairman and investor Rex Sorensen.
The company also failed to make its scheduled payroll Wednesday, leaving its staff roughly 100 radio personalities, writers, and producers unpaid until Thursday.
Annoyed by coverage of last week’s Air America executive resignations, Al Franken is making that familiar whining sound.
• Natalie Solent posts a lyrical mini-essay on the modern photography compulsion -- particularly as it relates to the degradation of Iraqi prisoners.
• Fascinating blogger profile today at NormBlog.
• Stung by criticism, Professor Bunyip modifies his Ted Rall disease-wish.
• James Lileks is on simplisme watch: “Got the latest New Yorker today. The cover has an oil derrick gushing blood.”
Wal-Mart is planning its own brand of budget wine. From TopFive.com, twelve suggested names:
12. Chateau Traileur Doublewide
11. White Trashfindel
10. Big Red Gulp
9. Grape Expectations
8. Domaine Wal-Mart "Merde du Pays"
6. Chef Boyardeaux
5. Peanut Noir
4. Chateau des Moines
3. I Can't Believe It's Not Vinegar!
2. World Championship Wriesling
1. Nasti Spumante
The NYT’s Tom Friedman urges George W. Bush to make the world’s most humiliating apology:
Mr. Bush needs to invite to Camp David the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the heads of both NATO and the U.N., and the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. There, he needs to eat crow, apologize for his mistakes and make clear that he is turning a new page.
Sure thing, Friedman. I bet the President’s speechwriters are working on a draft right now:
”To the planet’s assembled corrupt nations and institutions, what else can I say but this: I am sorry. I am sorry, Syria, for distracting you from your wonderful torturing and killing and obliteration of elemental freedoms. Egypt -- my heart aches for the concerns you must have had for the prisoners in Abu Ghraib, cruelly denied the electric shocks you routinely administer in your own country. The traditions of liberty in Jordan are likewise affronted by our inexcusable behaviour. Who knows how many schoolgirls have escaped burning buildings in Saudi Arabia while that beautiful nation has wrung its hands over America’s evil? And to the United Nations, bravely shaping a wealthy future for many previously impoverished UN officials, I also say: I am sorry.”
It’s not going to happen. Bush has more important people to speak to.
(Via reader Joel G.)
UPDATE. Jeff Jarvis has little time for Friedman’s idea.
UPDATE II. Hey, let’s get Bush to apologise to Sudan as well. I don’t know what for, but Friedman will think of something.
UPDATE III. George W. Bush's prisoner apology has won global applause, as Iowahawk reports:
The apology also prompted an outbreak of gratitude in the Arab street, as hundreds of thousands of Muslims took to the streets Friday in an impromptu demonstration of thanks. In Gaza, a cheering crowd estimated at 30,000 waved American flags and banners reading "No Prablem Bosh" [sic], while in Damascus throngs gathered in the Square of the Martyrs chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A".
Also from Iowahawk: the controversial film that Disney refuses to distribute. (Scroll down a couple of posts.)
UPDATE IV. Senator Joe Biden wants some top-level resignations over the Abu Ghraib prison debacle:
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., a key Democratic supporter of President Bush's decision to wage war onIraq, said the president must demonstrate that he understands the "nature of the damage" caused by the abuse incident by "determining who is responsible, no matter how far up the chain of command this goes."
Once those people are identified, Biden said, Bush must "demand the resignations for whoever is involved in this policy, and that includes Lord God Almighty himself. It includes anybody involved."
Contributor J.F. Beck writes: “An omniscient God would have known about the abuses and surely must resign. But, an omnipotent God can’t resign because he all powerful. Maybe God should smite Biden and be done with it.”
Whoever’s impersonating Osama bin Laden these days is clearly influenced by e-mail prize spam:
We in al-Qaeda organization will guarantee, God willing, 10,000 grams of gold to whoever kills the occupier Bremer, or the American chief commander or his deputy in Iraq.
For security reasons, the rewards will be given as soon as conditions permit, God willing. As for those who die while killing an occupying solider, the great prize will be for us and for him when God grants him martyrdom, and the smaller prize (the gold) will be for his family.
The United Nations is nothing but a Zionists' tool, even if it worked under the cover of providing humanitarian aid. Whoever kills Kofi Annan or the head of his commission in Iraq or a representative like Lakhdar Brahimi, he will be awarded the same prize of 10,000 grams of gold.
Next from al Qaeda: Turn Your TV into a 150 INCH Big Screen! You have won a $50 gift card! Add expressions to your e-mail - for FREE! (By the way ... only 10,000 grams? Who’s running this show -- Dr Evil?)
Radio host Neil Mitchell's chances of becoming editor of The Age firmed with the news, but he refused to speculate on an appointment last night.
"I haven't made any agreement to go anywhere or do anything apart from have Melbourne's No. 1 radio show," he said.
Mr Hilmer was believed to be the main opponent to Mitchell's appointment.
That line was swirling around yesterday among journalists, but newspaper talk about newspaper issues often turns out to incorrect. For example, a rumour this week had it that a prominent Sydney journalist had been hospitalised due to a condition that had blinded him. Wrong end; he’s been diagnosed with colorectal cancer (and is expected to make a complete recovery).
The Age’s prognosis isn’t as certain. A Mitchell appointment, if it happens, would at least be entertaining. How would the precious Age types react?
While Michael Moore was complaining to ABC News, CNN, and Entertainment Tonight about corporate media crushing his dissent, Disney folk were quietly pointing out that Moore was aware a year ago that he needed to locate another distributor:
Executives said it was made clear to Miramax last May, when it became the principal investor in the film, that Disney would not let it be the distributor.
"Mr. Moore has had and continues to have every opportunity to either find another distributor or distribute the film himself," a spokeswoman for Disney, Zenia Mucha, said in a statement.
Marc Cooper has lots more.
UPDATE. As many readers have suspected from the outset ... Moore admits Disney 'ban' was a stunt:
Less than 24 hours after accusing the Walt Disney Company of pulling the plug on his latest documentary in a blatant attempt at political censorship, the rabble-rousing film-maker Michael Moore has admitted he knew a year ago that Disney had no intention of distributing it.
The admission, during an interview with CNN, undermined Moore's claim that Disney was trying to sabotage the US release of Fahrenheit 911 just days before its world premiere at the Cannes film festival.
Instead, it lent credence to a growing suspicion that Moore was manufacturing a controversy to help publicise the film, a full-bore attack on the Bush administration and its handling of national security since the attacks of 11 September 2001.
"Can't the hawks who dragged us into this hideous unholy war at least pay attention to a crisis of American credibility that's exposing Iraq and the world to more dangers every day?" asks Maureen Dowd, before being quarantined for tests to discover if the disease consuming her brain stem is infectious.
Talk about your lack of nuance. If Dowd’s views were reversed, we’d be reading something like this:
Can't the pussies who denounced this beautiful God-given war at least acknowledge the American bravery that's making Iraq and the world more perfect every day?
Run that line and you’ll be condemned as a tabloid simpleton. Dowd’s view is exactly as sophisticated, but redeemed somehow by being anti-war. Her latest column features a rare MoDo journey away from her NYC office, to the White House Correspondents' dinner in Washington:
When a beaming Mr. Wolfowitz stopped at my table to greet an admiring Republican, I wanted to snap, "Get back to your desk, Mr. Myopia from Utopia!"
Snap away, Dr. Seuss. Ms. Maureen of Predictable Routine next demonstrates her fabled awareness of 12-year-old pop culture:
Most Republicans seemed in a "party on, Garth" mood, less concerned with Humpty Dumpty Iraq or Unjolly Green Giant John Kerry than with the unfairness of a world where Jeb Bush would probably not be able to succeed his brother. "By 2008," a wistful Republican fund-raiser said, "there'll probably be Bush fatigue."
By the seventh paragraph, I’m suffering Dowd fatigue. The Times should hire Cathy Seipp.
UPDATE. Peggy Noonan provides a Dowd antidote:
This is a cover-up? Unlike the Catholic bishops, some corporate boards and the editors of the New York Times or USA Today, the military brass did not dismiss early allegations of bad behavior. Instead, it established reviews and procedures that have uncovered the very details that are now used by critics to indict the Pentagon "system." It has done so, moreover, amid a war against a deadly insurgency in which interrogation to gain good intelligence is critical to victory--and to saving American lives.
Fairfax chief executive Fred Hilmer today announced he plans to quit next year after nearly six years ruining ... er, running the media company.
There’s trouble in Vienna, as AP reports:
Plans to name a Vienna square after Zionist Theodor Herzl drew protest Tuesday from the Arab League, which urged city fathers to reconsider for the sake of continued "good relations" with the Arab world.
Representatives of Vienna's Islamic community also opposed the plan to honor the founder of Zionism, the movement to establish the state of Israel.
Helpfully, Islamic spokesburqa Carna Amina Baghajati proposes a compromise:
She suggested a square be named instead for Mohammad Asad, the Austrian-born Jew who changed his name from Leopold Weiss, converted to Islam and went on to become an honored 19th century Muslim scholar.
Maybe you've never heard of the 1979 movie Ashanti. Robert Fisk has; in fact, as Blue Octavo reveals, Fisk is obsessed by what Michael Caine describes as the "worst, most wretched film I ever made". Here's Fisk's latest column:
Even today, we still show the revolting Ashanti on our television stations, a feature film about the kidnapping of the wife of an English doctor by Arab slave--traders, which depicts Arabs as almost exclusively child--molesters, rapists, murderers, liars and thieves. It stars -- heaven spare us -- Michael Caine, Omar Sharif and Peter Ustinov and was made partly in Israel.
And in 1999:
I had just arrived in the Middle Fast, more than 20 years ago, when I first saw, on television, the movie Ashanti. It starred Omar Sharif and Roger Moore and portrayed Arabs as slave-traders, murderers, child-molesters and sadists. The film was, said the credits, partly made on location in Israel.
And again last year:
Why do they still show Ashanti, a potboiler about the Arab slave trade that portrays Arabs much as The Protocols portray Jews: as venal, child-molesting murderers? (We shall forget that the Lebanese-born actor Omar Sharif acts in this vile movie.)
(Via Damian Penny)
Is Mark Latham the victim of an insidious Google bombing?
Type the name of Labor's chief on-the-run policy maker into Google's image search facility, add some double quotation marks at each end, and the search engine throws up a picture of David Brent, from British TV series The Office.
So who would go to the trouble to link Latham with Brent - the smug, self-righteous boss from hell? And what are they suggesting about the two men's similarities?
The comparison is absurd. Brent is far more likeable.
A major initiative to counter anti-Muslim propaganda is to be launched in Greater Manchester schools, reports The Asian News. Organiser Dr Sangeeta Dhami explains:
We will be leaving issues like suicide bombing up for discussion to encourage pupils, having heard about the general principles of Islam and jihad, to discuss and decide for themselves whether suicide bombers are carrying out their principles of jihad.
Radio National has tried this once before:
The ABC's quest for presenters who might broaden perceptions of Radio National's political tone has led to it hiring one of the broadcaster's most frequent critics, the publisher and right-leaning columnist, Michael Duffy.
Duffy – who from May 17 will present a new weekly RN program, Counterpoint – has described ABC services as "middle-class welfare", has advocated the corporation boost its finances by accepting commercials and has often joined the chorus of critics who accuse it of being biased towards the Left.
Neither Duffy nor RN's manager, Mark Collier, attempt to mask the fact that the new program will attempt to balance perceived pro-Left views expressed by Phillip Adams (Late Night Live) and other ABC identities.
Perceived pro-Left views? Anyway, best of luck to Michael -- he’ll need it.
Yamin Zakaria says Australia, not Iraq, requires liberation:
Recently a young Aboriginal boy was killed by the police, which sparked a riot. People then began to put up posters with photos of police. They read as follows - "Wanted - Child Murderers. There is gang of child killers operating in the Redfern area …… They are serial killers and will reoffend." Such posters would have been equally if not more suitable in Fallujah, Jenin, Gaza, and Baghdad.
Read the whole piece for instruction on building an ... err ... utterly compelling, watertight argument. Meanwhile, in NRO, MEMRI executive director Steven Stalinsky reviews the performance of Australia’s Grand Mufti.
"Today is Cinco de Mayo," writes Texan reader Bob C. "It celebrates the day that Mexico kicked France's ass. Do you know if the following countries have similar holidays?"
That’s just mean and unfair France-bashing, Bob. You know they don’t like to be bashed, or hit, or poked, or otherwise touched inappropriately. Greater sensitivity is also demanded of Pugs of War, who confesses:
I see that the American soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison were torturing prisoners by forcing them to perform auto-erotic acts. Apparently I've been torturing myself for years and I didn't even realize it.
Well, I guess it’s possible:
2004 could be a decisive victory for Kerry. The reason to think so is historical. Elections that feature a sitting president tend to be referendums on the incumbent--and in recent elections, the incumbent has either won or lost by large electoral margins. If you look at key indicators beyond the neck-and-neck support for the two candidates in the polls--such as high turnout in the early Democratic primaries and the likelihood of a high turnout in November--it seems improbable that Bush will win big. More likely, it's going to be Kerry in a rout.
I’ll take that bet.
(Via Chris Sheil)
Age staffer David Bernstein addresses many of the stupidities raised by the council’s crap exhibit. By the way, does anyone know how long that “art” was on display before the forces of civilisation intervened? None of these articles say.
Most of us only know Ted Rall as a mild-mannered cartoonist and puke-wallowing non-person, but it turns out Rall has a secret identity -- as Taxi Ted the Terminator, avenger of his fallen cabby comrades! Read on to discover how Deadly Teddy dealt with NYC’s taxi killer, whom Rall has imprisoned in his cab:
"Let me out! Forget it! You’re nuts!" He was really scared.
"Throw out the gun first." He did. I slowed down to 20 or 30.
"Jump out! I’m not slowing down anymore!"
He opened the door. When he jumped, I swerved to the side of the street and sped up. I heard a deep, sonorous "bong!" and kept driving.
After composing myself, I circled the block and returned to the spot where my attacker had jumped, a half-hour later. Two EMS technicians were busy loading up my assailant.
I rolled down my window casually. "What’s up? What happened to him?"
"Guy got tossed from a moving car. He’s really bad. Hit his head on a lamp post. Ugly."
Incidentally, the wave of cabby shootings along the West Side stopped.
I find this level of distrust alarming.
UPDATE. James Lileks:
Sometimes just being yourself is punishment enough. I have no idea if Mr. Rall is personally happy, although the one time I met him he didn’t strike me as a jolly old soul. But it has to be hard to be happy when one carries around so much bile and rage. It’s tiring. Anger wears you down, especially when your anger doesn’t seem to accomplish anything. Ted Rall’s cartoons could have run in every paper every day since 9/11 and there will still be kids who saw Tillman’s choice as a remarkable act. (Tillman’s Choice: there’s a phrase that sums up quite a lot, doesn’t it?) People like Rall are sitting on the curb, feet in the gutter, watching the parade go past, smirking at the guy with the baton, sneering at the cheerleaders. Everyone else watching the parade thinks I wonder if there will be elephants! And when they do appear, he rolls his eyes. Elephants. How obvious.
UPDATE II. Ted Rall: "I'm just a good liberal Democrat."
Mark Steyn on various Fallujah scenarios:
Tammy Bruce, the magnificent lesbian whom the doctrinaire left has driven over to the other side (politically speaking only, I hasten to add), has called on the US to “level Fallujah”, as long ago the RAF leveled Dresden and the USAF Hiroshima: that way the losing side knows it’s lost. “Steady on, old girl,” I thought, as I read Miss Bruce. I don’t subscribe to the view that we can win the “hearts and minds” of the Sunni Triangle, but, heartless and mindless as they are, I’m reluctant to kill 300,000 of them.
But Miss Bruce usefully clarified the options. If the Bush doctrine – fixing the problem at source by reforming dysfunctional states – is a long shot, what’s the alternative? If failed states stay failed, and we permit ourselves only to fight defensively, through e-mail chatter and airport security, and railway bombs neuter American allies even more thoroughly than they already are, and a suitcase nuke goes off in Dallas or Detroit, then at some point it’s going to be a choice between the Bruce option or a slow surrender.
Iranian Hashem Aghajari dares the fundamentalists:
A university professor has decided not to appeal a reinstated death sentence, effectively challenging Iran's hard-line judges to execute him for criticizing clerical rule, his lawyer said Tuesday.
The original sentence came after the Hamedan court convicted Aghajari of insulting Islam and questioning the rule of the clerics in a speech he gave to students in the province. In the new finding, the court convicted Aghajari of apostasy, or the betrayal of Islam.
Fellow brave dissenter Michael Moore can relate:
I would have hoped by now that I would be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter.
The whole story behind this (and other attempts) to kill our movie will be told in more detail as the days and weeks go on. For nearly a year, this struggle has been a lesson in just how difficult it is in this country to create a piece of art that might upset those in charge.
Webdiary columnist Antony Loewenstein interviews U.S. whistleblower Joseph Wilson, a former diplomat whose revelations of a lie Bush told on WMDs to invade Iraq saw the Bush adminstration leak top secret material about his wife to a friendly columnist.
Way to dash off a grabby lead, girl. Imagine her assigned to sports:
ZAIRE, October 30, 1974: World heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, a former Baptist who changed his name from Cassius Clay when he adopted Islam and once threw his Olympic medals in a river last night fought George Foreman in economically-depressed Zaire.
Michael Moore’s new release is a no release:
The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Bush, executives at both Disney and Miramax said Tuesday.
The film, "Fahrenheit 911," links Mr. Bush and prominent Saudis — including the family of Osama bin Laden — and criticizes Mr. Bush's actions before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Naturally, Michigan Fats is screaming oppression:
Mr. Moore, who will present the film at the Cannes film festival this month, criticized Disney's decision in an interview on Tuesday, saying, "At some point the question has to be asked, 'Should this be happening in a free and open society where the monied interests essentially call the shots regarding the information that the public is allowed to see?'"
I prefer to imagine focus groups viewing the film and returning comments like "tomorrow I drive to Disneyworld -- stab mouse" and "this movie would be much better if it didn’t exist". Maybe it’ll get a direct-to-TV release on GoreVision.
Mentioned in this week's Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are David Flint, Alan Jones, John Laws, John Howard, Mark Latham, Vivian Schenker, Phillip Adams, Paul Keating, David Hill, Mary Delahunty, Danny Frawley, Saddam Hussein, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, Bob Carr, Peter Schwartz, Neil Mitchell, George W. Bush, Alan Ramsey, Michael Moore, Jon Bon Jovi, Susan Carew, Peacefull the Clown, Ronald Reagan, and Godzilla.
Reuters discovers another way to avoid using the dread word "terrorism":
Three time-bombs exploded outside a central Athens police station early today but caused no serious injuries, a police official said.
The blasts came before ceremonies to mark 100 days left until the August 13-29 Olympics.
Fears have been running high that the games could be a target of political violence.
A publicly funded art exhibit critical of Israel has been dismantled amid a political furore and reported threats of vandalism.
The exhibit, in a Flinders Street shopfront, featured anti-Israel text against a backdrop of a Star of David.
Its two creators erased the display last night after it was condemned as offensive by Jewish groups and the State Opposition.
Lord Mayor John So had also called for the scrapping of the exhibition, which was partly funded by the Melbourne City Council.
Silent Running’s campaign was earlier mentioned here.
Alan Ramsey complains:
It costs taxpayers $250,000 a year, plus expenses, to employ David Flint as John Howard's chairman of the radio and television regulator, the Australian Broadcasting Authority. For this we get Professor Flint's many years of academic legal experience (he and Howard went through law school together), his loyalty to the Liberal Party, the continuing serial of David Marr's wondrous Media Watch revelations and now the detail of Flint's gushing correspondence with Alan Jones.
Hey, Alan; it costs taxpayers $1.2 million a year for David Marr’s wondrous 15-minutes-per-week Media Watch. For this we get ... David Marr.
"I was on Mr. Kerry's boat in Vietnam," writes John O’Neill. "He doesn't deserve to be commander in chief."
John Kerry is doing exactly what he should be doing right now. He is in a post-primary molting season. He's emerging from the shadow of Howard Dean and becoming more like the policy twin of Joe Lieberman: a pro-trade, fiscally conservative centrist Democrat who is willing to pour more troops into Iraq to win the war.
Even liberals know liberalism doesn't win general elections; that's why they decided not to nominate Dean in the first place. So Kerry is absolutely correct to take some time off, retool the message and play the quadrennial game that smart nominees play: Shaft the Left.
Problem is, unlike most previous campaigns, the Internet will endlessly remind voters of Kerry’s opportunistic pre-nomination Shafted by the Left messages. And every time Kerry re-tools, it’ll just play to Republican designs that cast him as the King of Flip.
• Who the hell is David Pepin, and why is his sub-blog junk commentary linked to by Google News?
• Sure, the Spanish may have appeased the Moors, but the Moops are probably still angry.
First Libya caved, and now ...
North Korea, probably the world's most secretive and isolated nation, has offered an olive branch to the US by promising never to sell nuclear materials to terrorists, calling for Washington's friendship and saying it does not want to suffer the fate of Iraq.
Maybe it was those prison photographs that scared 'em.
UPDATE. Several readers note that the opening paragraph quoted is not representative of North Korea’s stance as described in the rest of the article. I should have quoted the item at greater length. Apologies.
Australian soldiers are living large in Saddam’s old palaces:
The vast Presidential Palace North, now christened Camp Victory, features hundreds of ornate buildings with Aussie troops locating their headquarters and accommodation in buildings on the edge of a huge artificial lake.
Aussie soldiers wake each day to the sun rising over Saddam's personal lake, recline on his gilt-trimmed furniture and marvel how one man could squander so much of his country's wealth.
The Australians remain on full alert, however, for stealthy paddle boat raiders:
"One night while we were sitting around here on picket (guard duty) about 11pm I noticed a row boat out on the water and behind the row boat I could see a head moving towards us," [Sergeant Mark Dowling] recalled.
"The person I was with shone a torch on him and said 'what are you bloody doing mate'.
"He (an American soldier) looked at us and said 'I just thought it was a nice night for a swim' and swam off. He was obviously trying to steal our paddle boat."
UPDATE. The 380 Salvadoran troops in Iraq haven’t received much notice. Check this:
One of his friends was dead, 12 others lay wounded and the four soldiers still left standing were surrounded and out of ammunition. So Salvadoran Cpl. Samuel Toloza said a prayer, whipped out his knife and charged the Iraqi gunmen.
In one of the only known instances of hand-to-hand combat in the Iraq conflict, Cpl. Toloza stabbed several attackers swarming around a comrade. The stunned assailants backed away momentarily, just as a relief column came to the unit's rescue.
"We never considered surrender. I was trained to fight until the end," said the 25-year-old corporal, one of 380 soldiers from El Salvador whose heroism is being cited just as other members of the multinational force in Iraq are facing criticism.
Peter “Chippy” Frilingos, The Daily Telegraph’s senior rugby league writer, died yesterday afternoon at his desk. He was 59.
I worked with Chippy for a year or so, when I was a chief of staff at the Telegraph. Being Victorian, I was at a massive disadvantage in judging the worth of rugby league news, so I’d seek out Chippy for advice. In between denouncing society at large -- Chippy’s views were brilliantly, hilariously intolerant -- he’d quickly set me straight on all the rugby league stories I needed to be aware of. Chippy was incredibly generous.
People at the Telegraph are devastated. Paul Kent’s memorial is perfect, and will resonate with journalists everywhere.
(Via Stefan Sharkansky)
Ted Rall interrupts his grief over Pat Tillman’s death to compose this touching cartoon tribute.
UPDATE. The real war hero is Ted Rall himself:
Rall, who risked his life in Afghanistan himself as a visiting cartoonist/writer after 9/11, told E&P: "The word 'hero' has been bandied about a lot to refer to anyone killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. But anyone who voluntarily goes to Afghanistan or Iraq [as a soldier] is fighting for an evil cause under an evil commander in chief."
"Tillman gave up millions of dollars," Rall added. "To that extent I think he's admirable, but the cause is not. ... He would have been a better person and a better husband if he took the $3.6 million and played football and left the poor and beleaguered people of Afghanistan and Iraq alone."
Because that’s what good people do. They leave the poor and beleaguered alone.
The Guardian’s John Sutherland attempts to destroy his newspaper’s lowly reputation with this thoroughly-researched, fact-filled report:
The word "fundagelism" has never appeared in the columns of this newspaper. The term is, however, current in the blogosphere - that cyberforum which nowadays carries the most interestingly paranoid political debate. "Fundagelism" is not a word that trips easily off the tongue. It's a crunching together of the even more mouth-boggling compound "fundamentalist evangelism".
There are, it is estimated, 90 million evangelical Christians in the US. If they can be mobilised, they will form a rock-solid foundation for November victory for the Republican incumbent.
Excuse me ... 90 million? Sutherland’s estimates are a little on the high side.
What do fundagelicals instinctively oppose? Gay marriage, abortion, gun control, taxes, the UN (and the currently top-rated candidate for anti-Christ, Kofi Annan), withdrawal from Iraq, Michael Moore, Janet Jackson's left breast.
Until a couple of years ago, the Democratic front-runner was assumed to be as Boston Irish as his namesake county. Newspaper sleuthing discovered that his paternal grandfather was, in fact, a Czech, Fritz Kohn, who changed his name. Kerry lost relatives in the Holocaust. Race-hate websites nowadays routinely abuse him as "Kerry (Kohn aka Cohen)".
Famously, Kerry is a decorated Vietnam war hero who, like Siegfried Sassoon, threw his medals away in disgust at what he came to see as a futile colonial war.
Kerry says he didn’t throw his medals away. You calling him a liar, pal?
Was ever a candidate for the presidency more triangulated? Pro-choice Catholic, Shamrock-Jewish, warrior-pacifist? In any rational contest, to be all things to all voters should be an advantage.
Interesting theory. In any rational contest, Sutherland would lose his position at The Guardian to a random-phrase computer program or a cat trained to stomp across keyboards.
(Researched by J.F. Beck)
UPDATE. Sing along with SarahW! Funda-gelical Cats! They have moonbat eyes!
What’s the story behind Margo Kingston's fatherhood fixation with old Klansman Robert Byrd?
"Robert Byrd, a Democrat, is the father of the US Senate."
"Across the Atlantic in mid February, Democrat Senator Robert Byrd (at 86 years of age the so-called 'Father of the Senate') spoke out ... "
"I'll never forget what the father of the US Senate, Robert Byrd, said on the eve of war. I cry every time I read it."
In her latest wild offering -- in which Margo claims that those torture photographs "end any chance that the Iraqi people will believe that America is a benign force for freedom and democracy" -- Big Daddy Byrd makes another, slightly Margofied, appearance:
"The father of thus Senate and a consistent opponent of the war, Senator Robert Byrd made a speech called Mission Not Accomplished in Iraq."
Maybe Margo is angling for an adoption.
• Were you among the recent Cawley Children Fund donors? Chief Wiggles, to whom I’ve sent your e-cash for delivery to the Cawleys, says thanks.
• Andrew Sullivan is the latest NormBlog profile subject. I’m next -- or next after the next -- to face Norm’s cross-examination.
• Remember Katherine Wilson, who wrote that "if the Iraqis had treated American soldiers in the way American soldiers are treating Iraqi prisoners now, the entire Arab race would have been demonised"? Wonder what Katherine thinks of this:
The Australian engineer killed in Saudi Arabia was shot dead by Islamic terrorists who worked undercover alongside him, it emerged yesterday.
Anthony Richard Mason, 57, and four other Westerners were gunned down by men who worked as security guards at the giant Exxon Mobil refinery complex in the Red Sea port city of Yanbu. A Saudi was also killed.
Witnesses said one victim's body was tied to the back of their grey Toyota LandCruiser and dragged for 3km before being dumped outside the Arab British Bank.
A witness said: "The body had all the clothes ripped away except for shreds of underwear and shoes. It was just lying in the gutter. It was horrible to see."
Take a look at this display in a Melbourne window. It reads:
Since the creation of Israel in 1948
200,000 Palestinians have been killed
5,000,000 refugees have been created
21,000 square kilometers of land have been annexed
385 towns and villages have been destroyed
200,000 settlements jave been built
300 billion military dollars have been spent
100+ WMDs have been manifactured
65 UN resolutions have been ignored
Who’s paying for this? Well, if you’re a City of Melbourne ratepayer ... you are! Silent Running has the full story. Meanwhile, James Lileks notices competing news values at Al Jazeera and the Jerusalem Post. Here’s how the Post describes the murder of a pregnant mother and her four daughters by terrorists:
A pregnant mother and her four daughters were shot dead on Sunday by terrorists ...
Seems straightforward enough. And here’s Al Jazeera’s description of the same crime:
Two palestenian fighters were killed when they opened fire on an Israeli vehicle near the entrance of a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, killing 4 Israelis.
Yisrael Medad, former director of Israel's Media Watch, reported that a source from the Gush Katif Regional Council called him and explained the heroism of CNN's Mike Schwartz, the producer for the CNN crew in Israel: "He saved Jewish lives today," the source explained.
As the events were described to Medad: "Two convoy cars of CNN were travelling behind Tali Hatuel's car when the terrorists continued to fire at every direction and at every car. Mike Schwartz of CNN decided to block the crossing of more cars into the crossfire of the terrorists with his CNN bulletproof car along with his camera crew who were on their way to Gush Katif to cover the referendum results. Ten cars of other citizens of Gush Katif who were returning from precinct watches were 'stopped' by Mike Schwartz and his CNN crew cars."
Also: let's hear it for Russell Crowe!
"Democrats," writes Time’s Karen Tumulty, "start to get nervous whenever the Massachusetts Senator opens his mouth without a script." Wasn’t George W. Bush meant to be the bumbling stumblemouth? Tumulty continues:
Kerry gives plenty of ammunition to those who say he considers no hair too fine to split and who charge that he tailors the cut of what he says to meet the tastes of the audience and the moment. Asked on Earth Day whether he owns a gas-gobbling SUV, the champion of higher fuel-efficiency standards first said no, then admitted under questioning that, yes, that was a Suburban parked at his Sun Valley, Idaho, vacation house. Next, he distanced himself from his own driveway: "The family has it. I don't have it." It was a far different story, however, when Kerry visited car-loving Detroit last February. Back then, he exulted to local reporters about how much horsepower he commands: "We have some SUVs. We have a Jeep. We have a couple of Chrysler minivans. We have a PT Cruiser up in Boston. I have an old Dodge 600 ... We also have a Chevy, a big Suburban."
Says a former aide, sighing: "He wants everybody to love him."
UPDATE. Test your Kerry knowledge! Select the correct answer to complete this sentence from today’s New York Times:
Senator John Kerry is set to introduce a major television advertising push on Monday that will highlight his ...
UPDATE II. The Germans can’t understand why anyone would vote against Kerry:
The US President seems invulnerable at home. His popularity numbers are even climbing ... So far, at least, the growing count of war victims in Iraq and the equally growing criticism of President Bush from his political opponents has had an (opposite) effect: The voters are apparently still unimpressed; in most polls Bush has even risen slightly.
What's going on here? Don't Americans watch TV? Don't they read newspapers?
It’s the interactive quiz challenge that’s sweeping the West Bank!
It's on show in all bookshop windows, and stacks of it are on sale at supermarkets. It's selling fast. And yet the media ignore it. There's no publicity like negative publicity, as it was shown with "The Rage and the Pride". Perhaps, as she attacks the left, the right, and the church, and points out undisputable facts, the media think this time it is safer to bury her under a blanket of silence.
The book has yet to be translated.
Wright knows about war first hand. A former U.S. Airborne Ranger, Wright participated in the invasion of Panama in 1989. He discovered his antiwar side after a stray American bomb left one of the country's poorest neighborhoods in ashes.
"Standing in Panama City in 1989 on the roof of a six-story apartment building and looking out over a burned-out ruin the size of a medium-sized American town, I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity: everything I had been told while growing up was a pack of lies," Wright notes in the introduction to his book.
That introduction is a comedy goldmine. Here’s another extract, in which Rambo Wright comments on news reports of the attack on the Panamanian Defense Force's Rio Hato Military Base by his Charlie Company, Second Ranger Battalion/75th Ranger Regiment, on the night of Dec. 20, 1989:
NBC's Tom Brokaw exclaimed on December 20, 1989: "We haven't got [Noriega] yet." PBS announcer Judy Woodruff concluded on the following day: "Not only have we done away with [the Panamanian army], we've also done away with the police force."
Strange, I never saw Tom Brokaw humping an M-60 down the Rio Hato runway next to me. Perhaps I was distracted by the sight of Judy Woodruff providing covering fire on the runway control tower.
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry took a spill from his bicycle after hitting a patch of sand during a ride Sunday afternoon, but he was uninjured, campaign officials said.
Kerry was riding south on a two-lane road at about 1:00 p.m. in the direction of Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord, a quiet, suburban town about 18 miles northwest of Boston.
The Massachusetts senator was riding his custom Serotta bicycle, and was wearing a helmet.
A Serotta bike will cost you anywhere from $1,800 to $5,000. And that’s before you add wheels. Take better care of your investment, Mr Junior Senator man!
Damian Penny writes:
Six weeks ago, Israel launched a fatal missile strike against the "spiritual leader" of Hamas, Sheikh Yassin, and the world recoiled in horror. "War crime!" people cried. "Murder! The cowardly killing of an old blind man in a wheelchair!"
Today, gunmen from Hamas and Islamic Jihad walked up to a car containing a mother and her four daughters, aged 2 to 11, and shot them all dead at close range.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s account of this atrocity seems remarkably outrage-free.
What was Phillip Adams saying the other day? Something about being right to “back the UN rather than the US”, I think. Former deputy prime minister of Sweden Per Ahlmark might disagree, particularly if any UN-backing involved Kofi Annan:
One might think Annan far too compromised to become secretary-general but the UN doesn't work that way. Instead of being forced to resign after Rwanda and Srebrenica, he was promoted to the post.
That is the culture of the UN: believe the best of barbarians, do nothing to provoke controversy among superiors, and let others be the butt of criticism afterwards. Even subsequent revelations about Annan's responsibility for the disasters in Rwanda and Bosnia did not affect his standing. On the contrary, he was unanimously re-elected and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
UPDATE. Lots more in the archives. Hit ‘em and scroll.
Just thought you’d like to know.
Australia’s anti-war Left -- down here, we call it “the media” -- is hitting new peaks of raving madness. Here’s Margo Kingston:
The US under its present government is a force for evil and perpetual war.
And Richard Neville:
Around the time US snipers were taking aim from the rooftop of Falluja's last functioning hospital, and images of their infant victims started to appear on websites, an old-fashioned student demo erupted in Sydney.
Let’s not forget Scott Burchill:
The fact that more than 10,000 innocent civilians have been killed in Iraq as a consequence of regime change is a responsibility Canberra refuses even to acknowledge, let alone share. It is remarkable that John Howard is not asked how many dead Iraqi citizens he believes are a reasonable price for Saddam's removal. The arrival of terrorists, kidnappers and suicide bombers (for the first time since the 13th century) is a direct result of the coalition's intervention ...
Suicide bombers in the 13th century? Really? Here’s another Neville extract:
The same culture that is destroying neighbourhoods in Iraq, in order to save them, is subduing the spirit of gen Xers (1965-1980) and their young siblings, who are left swimming in cliches, clutching at baubles, barely aware that the ocean's fish stocks are down 50 per cent.
The silence ... the silence of the fish! Just for the hell of it, enjoy this late extra from Morlock Kingston:
The ugly side of being American, the side incapable of empathy with any other culture, has eaten alive any chance of nurturing democracy in Iraq.
Has Kingston ever actually been to the US? An email has been sent. Reply eagerly awaited.
Shabana Rehman provides an instructional guide.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst student who penned a column deriding a fallen soldier as an "idiot" asked that his screed be taken off a school newspaper Web site after receiving death threats, student journalists said.
His editors aren't sure where Rene Gonzalez is because the political science graduate student and part-time columnnist has been incommunicado since the furor erupted Wednesday.
"The only information we have directly from Rene is that he had received death threats," said Matthew Reid, editor of The Collegian's editorial page.
Brave kid. Rene dismisses someone who was killed in combat as an idiot who got what was coming to him, then runs for cover as soon as he receives some unfriendly email. In other Rene updates:
• The Boston Herald notes that there’s “no accounting for morons.”
• Rene’s editor has no regrets about publishing the column.
• Bob Young covers UMass footballer Jeff Krohn’s role in tackling Gonzalez.
• Some believe we should take a more nuanced view.
• On a positive note: the Gonzalez gibberish provoked many entertaining confessions of youthful leftoid madness.
Just before 10:30 a.m. Thursday, 1st Lt. Nicholas Bradley crouched next to an Iraqi boy, telling him he’s going to live. The boy, about 12, was bleeding from shrapnel wounds in his back, near his spinal column, and his arm.
The boy couldn’t move his legs, couldn’t feel anything as Bradley probed his feet. But the platoon leader kept talking to him soothingly as medical help arrived. Bradley held the boy’s hand while repeating, “Hey, buddy. You’re good. You’re gonna be all right,” sounding like he believed it, too.
The whole piece, from Stars and Stripes, is worth reading.
The Herald Sun reports:
It has emerged that Professor Flint and Mr Howard studied at university together.
More than 40 years ago. That’s how long this outrageous conservative plot has been festering!
One year after his invasion predictions were dashed ...
I am happy to be wrong about the fall of Baghdad.
... pessimistic Professor John Quiggin again foresees disaster:
The anniversary of Bush declaration of victory looks as good a time as any to date what seems increasingly certain to be a defeat.
It’s just as well that Quiggin is happy to be wrong. He must be a very happy man.
To quote an honourable man such as Gerry Cudmore only after Gerry is not in a position to vouch for his words smacks of opportunism ... I wasn't there on the 1RAR tour and therefore can't comment on the accuracy of Ramsey's memory but I can say this. Either I spent 13 months in a war zone medically unfit for operational service with my eyes and ears not functioning or rampant rape and murder didn't happen.
If Ramsey thought Cudmore’s opinion -- as he recalls it, anyway -- was worth reporting, why didn’t he do so before Cudmore died? Why did he wait for 39 years?
Been wondering how something like this could have happened?
The vast majority of the United Nations' oil-for-food contracts in Iraq have mysteriously vanished, crippling investigators trying to uncover fraud in the program, a government report charged yesterday.
A year-old post from Tim Dunlop might supply a small piece of the answer:
A few weeks back I was talking to a person I know who has just started working for the UN. She has a background in the military and has therefore often dealt with confidential reports.
She said the thing that most struck her about moving to the UN was that there was no such thing as a confidential report at the UN. Part of the philosophy of the place is that everyone can see everything and she said it took some getting used to just leave stuff on her desk and to not have a safe in her office for storing sensitive documents.
In light of recent revelations, Tim should talk to this contact again.
UPDATE. Maybe someone wandering around the UN can find a copy of this report:
Last year a British UN worker, Ian Hook, was killed in Jenin after an Israeli soldier fired on him by mistake. The Israelis claimed he was caught in a gun battle after they returned fire from Palestinian gunmen. The UN denied there had been any such battle and presented Israel as trigger-happy assassins. Yet although the UN launched an inquiry within days of the incident, its report still has not been published. Why not? Might it be because it discovered that the Israelis had been telling the truth?
In a piece that traces John Kerry’s increasingly nuanced explanations of his medal disposal method, Jeff Jacoby writes:
If John Kerry hadn't already clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, his medals meltdown on "Good Morning America" this week would have sunk his campaign.
Hmm ... what might happen when Kerry names his running mate -- and that running mate invariably out-performs his leader? The week prior to the Dem convention could be very entertaining.
Michael Moore pretends to care about the lives of American soldiers (while demoralizing them and us with his lies and propaganda) while remaining fat, safe and stupid at home. Terrorists are concerned with killing fat, safe and stupid Americans at home. Let's bring them together. Mr. Moore should be flown to Iraq and strapped to the side of convoy Humvees. That way, when a roadside bomb goes off, everyone is happy. Soldiers are shielded from the blast by Moore's largeness, and we are spared any future idiotic and disingenuous pontificating by Moore.
According to Margo Kingston’s Webdiary Ethics:
I will correct errors of fact on Webdiary as soon as possible after they are brought to my attention and will disclose and explain any inadvertent breach of my ethical duties on Webdiary at the first available opportunity.
While everybody is freaking out over recent photographs from Iraq, it’s worth recalling this editorial by Phil Lucas, executive editor of Florida's Panama City News Herald. It's about some photographs we saw earlier in April.
(Via reader Paul C. in Texas)
UPDATE. Happiest photograph of the week: Sgt. Seth Cole meets his pen-pals.
UPDATE II. Also from Florida Cracker, who speaks for many:
General Janice Karpinski is a disgrace to the uniform. With friends like her, we don't need enemies.
What a disgusting business. I want the whole lot of them busting rocks in Leavenworth. I bet the guards there know how to conduct themselves like professionals.
UPDATE III. George W. Bush agrees with the Cracker:
President Bush has condemned the apparent mistreatment of some Iraqi prisoners, saying, "Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people. That's not the way we do things in America. I didn't like it one bit."
UPDATE IV. Melbourne Age letter-writer Katherine Wilson reveals her profound short-term memory problems:
If the Iraqis had treated American soldiers in the way American soldiers are treating Iraqi prisoners now, the entire Arab race would have been demonised.