Saturday, August 31, 2002

Kumbaya Alert!
From the NY Times, Lesson Plans for Sept. 11 Offer a Study in Discord:
The anniversary of Sept. 11 has set off the latest skirmish in the classroom culture wars.

On one side are school districts, universities and organizations across the country that have produced lesson plans for the day that try to teach everything from what snacks to eat for mental health to the traditions of Islam.
Snacks for mental health?
On the other side are those, mostly conservatives, who say these plans spend too much time talking about feelings and not enough time teaching history and civics if they teach anything at all. They say the lessons are too focused on teaching tolerance and are unwilling to cast judgment or assign blame. In bending over backward to help students understand the ideology behind the attacks, they say, educators have gone so far as to be unpatriotic.
More by following the link, but for a Times story, it gives an amazing amount of ink to the non-touchy feely side. On the other hand, it makes you wonder where all the wussies came from.
Jeffrey Mirel, a professor of educational studies at the University of Michigan, noted that as the nation approached World War II, the N.E.A. produced a book starkly critical of those who would become the United States' enemies, calling them "ruthless men of force who care nothing for civil liberties and who mock all appeals to humanity."

Now, Professor Mirel said, "there's a great deal of reticence among teachers to make a value judgment, to adopt a stance they feel would be perceived as arrogant or absolute."

"The irony is," he said, "what the Islamic terrorists accuse us of is arrogance, yet here's a country that is so reticent to say our form of government is better than the kinds of autocratic, intolerant governments that they support."
Who Let 'em Out of School?
From the groves of academe comes Adult 'Bad' Behavior May Encourage Teen Sex - Study. Uh oh! Hanky panky leads to hanky panky? Not quite:
Parents who smoke and drink and otherwise fail to take care of their health are influencing their children to do likewise--but they may also be somehow giving them the nod to have sex, researchers said on Friday.

Teen-agers whose parents smoked were about 50 percent more likely to have had sex by the time they were 15, the researchers reported.

"Adolescents whose parents engage in risky behavior, especially smoking, are especially likely to be sexually active," Esther Wilder of Lehman College in New York and Toni Terling Watt of Southwest Texas State University wrote in their report.
Repeat after me, students: Correlation is not Causation.

Oh wait, they may have a clue:
"This is not to say that parents who smoke are causing their children to become sexually active," Wilder said in a telephone interview.

"You'd want to go in and see what is going on in these households. It may have to do with things such as parents who are smoking are not eating as healthy and it might be they might not be doing other things. Who knows what all the mechanisms are? I suspect they are very complex."
In other words, they have no idea what is really going on. Thanks for the insight, pal. One wonders whether they corrected for socioeconomic status which is probably both highly correlated and arguably causative, but it's too much trouble to bother with the pseudoscientists. More blather by following the link, but don't forget, buckle up for paternity safety:
Wilder and Watt found that boys were more likely to have sex if their parents failed to use seatbelts--but not girls.

Newsroom Hijinks!
Thanks to Andrea Harris for the link to Prof. Bunyip who once again has his way with the Australian newshawks:
Breathless Reporterette: Hey, chief, have I got a scoop! The Earth is in peril and we're all going to die.

Weary Editor: Great Caesar's ghost! (Thinks: I made this woman a senior writer. Doesn't she know that means minimal output is expected -- and appreciated.)
More goodness by following the link.
Wingnut Alert!
More on the wingnut march at the Earth Summit, in Long live bin Laden:
It is not clear what Osama bin Laden has to do with sustainable development, but there were certainly a number of his supporters in one of the marches on the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Muslim protesters under the banner of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee made up a major block at the rear of the civil society march that began at Alexandra Stadium north of the city.

Among the chants of "Free, free Palestine" there were also shouts of "Viva bin Laden" and "Phanzi (down with) George Bush".

One man wore a T-hirt saying "Long live Osama bin Laden".

As the marchers passed a row of black policemen on the outskirts of the Alexandra township one man called out "Viva Osama, comrades. You suffered under apartheid, but you are our brothers".

Said another marcher, Imran Abrahams of Cape Town, "The people love Bin Laden, the poor people of South Africa. He's been deprived of his money, they froze his money, so he can't give to the poor now."

He said Bin Laden was seen as a hero even though the US branded him as a sponsor of terrorism after the September 11 attacks.

"The poor people of South Africa, they actually like America because America's responsible for a lot of atrocities around the world.

"So, when the bombing happened it was a joy to the people. But in the other sense it wasn't Bin Laden that did the bombing."
Typos courtesy of News24. Irrationality courtesy of the marchers.

I wonder if there are any spare daisycutters?

All Right!
Bruce Anderson has thoughtful commentary on Iraq in the Spectator (UK), Say no to the nay-sayers. The best line is (link via InstaPundit):
There is a constant interplay of co-operation between London and Washington; the SIS and the CIA are virtually functioning as one body. Recently, one British visitor was chatting to CIA Director George Tenet about the Europeans' role. "I'll tell you exactly what the President said the other day on that very subject," said Mr Tenet. "He said, 'I don't give a shit what the Europeans think.' "
Bubba Goes to the Fair!
Check out this photo of Bubba and the Witch at the NY State Fair. No word on which category of the livestock judging they were competing in.

And yes, Bubba didn't just feed his face and catch up on his bedtime reading. His whine included
A U.S. attack on Iraq could give Saddam Hussein ( news - web sites) an excuse to use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and its allies, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said.

Clinton said Friday that the current administration should move cautiously on Iraq and urged President George W. Bush to listen to Congress and the American public.

"Looking at it from the outside, it seems to me we have maximum incentive now for him not to use these weapons and not to give them to anybody. Because he knows all of America is ready to go after him, and would if he did that," Clinton said at the New York State Fair after speaking at a luncheon hosted by his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton
Clueless as ever, eh Bubba (AKA the Scourge of Terrorists)? Apparently he hasn't noticed that the "Peace in our time" gambit has not proved overly successful.
Good Riddance
Stefan Sharansky weighs in on Palestinian joke, Ray Hanania. The AP story is the "Opening act for comedian Jackie Mason canceled because he is Palestinian", but the real story should be "Jackie Mason refuses to share stage with apologist for terror organizations".
Common Sense From The North Woods
From Charlie Weaver, State commissioner of public safety and director of Minnesota's Office of Homeland Security, in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Two recent commentaries in the Star Tribune ("Driver's license restrictions won't fix inept immigration laws," by Reva Rasmussen, Aug. 8; "Myths of driver's licenses and terrorism," by Steven Foldes, Aug. 10) criticized our department's recent actions linking the expiration of a person's driver's license with the expiration of that person's legal status in this country.

Unfortunately, the commentators' lack of regard for the facts do a disservice to public discussion of this issue. Let me set the record straight.

Our recent rule changes accomplished two important goals. First, they make it easier for law enforcement officials to identify people who are in this country illegally. This change had strong support from a bipartisan majority of Minnesota legislators as well as the state's top law enforcement organizations.

Second, the rule changes ensure the integrity of our state's driver's license -- Minnesota's most important identity document. It is ironic that on the same day one of the opposing commentaries was printed, a front-page story in this paper identified fraudulent use of Minnesota's driver's license as creating serious problems for both retailers and law enforcement officials throughout Minnesota.

The changes, authorized by the state's top administrative law judge, are founded on the basic premise that it doesn't make sense to give a four-year driver's license to someone who can legally be in this country only a few weeks.
Makes sense to me. Dare I ask why the whiners are upset?
Foldes argues that our rule changes somehow amount to profiling. This inflammatory word is often tossed about by those who possess neither the facts nor the law to support their position. Since when is merely enforcing the law -- particularly immigration law -- considered profiling? Does Foldes really want police to pick and choose which laws they decide to enforce? Equal application of the law is core to our democracy and is a fundamental principle we will not sacrifice on the altar of political correctness.


I am unwilling to delay reforms that will protect the lives of Minnesotans in the hope that terrorists will wait patiently while we debate these proposals. Remember, just a year ago Zacarias Moussaoui, who recently admitted that he was part of the Al-Qaida terrorist network, was taking flight lessons in Eagan.
Amen, brother.
No Surprise
The BBC is running with Hijack suspect 'had US embassy target':
A man arrested in Sweden on suspicion he was about to hijack a plane, was planning to crash the aircraft into a US embassy in Europe, according to a Reuters report.
Swedish intelligence sources told the news agency that the 29-year-old Swedish man may have been working with others on the plan.

Police are looking for four more men, including an explosives expert.

A military intelligence source told Reuters: "We know for sure that the plan was to crash the plane into a US embassy in Europe."

The suspected would-be hijacker is still being questioned in Sweden after trying to board a flight for Stansted in the UK.
The hijacker is a "Swedish citizen of Tunisian origin". Nice. A self-inflicted fifth column.
Someone Call the Orkin Man
It's protest march day for the junketeers in Johannesburg and there are two marches to choose from: radical and wingnut. The wingnuts started first (an hour late) and are whining about everyone from the South African government rightwards (quite a swath). Some of the cockroaches had pro-Osama and Saddam placards and banners.

Over at the merely radical march, it's an anti-Israel fun fest, with SA President Mbeki rallying the unwashed with "a strong call for a free Palestine and an end to the US blockade of Cuba".

Meanwhile, back at the Summit, Bobby Mugabe arrived. I hope the fancy shoppes in Sandton are ready for some power shopping!

Friday, August 30, 2002

Looking to Europe for Our Public Policy
Susanna Cornett deconstructs the port leaning side of the US Supreme Court who would overturn US laws based on the feelings of the "international community". Good thing there aren't any Martians or they'd get to put their oar in too.
BS Award Update
Yesterday, I mentioned the BS award presented to Greenpeace at the Earth Summit. The group behind the award has a press release that claims that while Greenpeace was in the running, the winner was actually Vandana Shiva:
28 August, Johannesburg - At a mass rally today in Johannesburg, the winner of the Bullshit Award for Sustaining Poverty was announced. In a closely run race, the winner was chosen for her important contribution to sustaining poverty around the world, in her role as a mouthpiece of western eco-imperialism.

In front of a rapt crowd of farmers from Africa and Asia, the award - a plaque mounted with a cow manure, representing the traditional agricultural technology that the winner favours - was bestowed on Ms. Vandana Shiva. Other award nominees included Greenpeace International, BioWatch, SAFeAGE, and the Third World Network.

The award was bestowed on behalf of Indian farmers by Barun Shankar Mitra of the Liberty Institute in New Delhi, India, who commented:

"Vandana Shiva is an individual whose immense presence at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and other global meetings, and her passionate defense of poverty, has resonated as far as newspapers and TV cameras can be found.

"Millions of people rely on backbreaking labor and low-intensity subsistence farming, not out of choice but out of necessity, yet Ms. Shiva claims that modern agricultural technologies are too dangerous for the poor. But given the choice, poor rural farmers seize the opportunity to use modern technologies to improve their agricultural productivity. Ultimately, it is farmers who should make the choice over what technologies they use, not eco-imperialists such as Shiva. Farmers are the most important stakeholder in this debate and their voice must not be ignored.

Farmers are choosing modern agricultural technologies out of their own free will - and for good reasons. And by so doing they are benefiting the environment. Low intensity farming not only hurts farmers, but also endangers environmental quality. Poverty and environmental degradation go hand in hand - and modern technologies alleviate poverty and enable environmental protection. This means that we should empower poor people to use these technologies, to increase their consumption of resources, which will benefit them as well the environment."

Unfortunately, the goddess of poverty was not able to attend the event in person to receive the award (a sign that she is perhaps not omnipresent). Mr. Mitra invites her to accept it at any time during the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Liberty Institute ( is a member of the Sustainable Develoment Network (
Dubya ought to hire these guys, they know how to kick butt and take names!

And if you are unfamiliar with Vandana Shiva, Michael Fumento had a profile in NRO, The Villainous Vandana Shiva:
Attila the Hun, though widely regarded as a barbaric tyrant, is revered in Hungary. The same is true of Vlad Dracula in a region of Eastern Europe. Knowing this makes it just a bit easier to understand how the current issue of Time magazine could profile Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva as "hero."

"Shiva has made it her mission to fight for social justice in many arenas," gushes Time. True, "social justice" is a meaningless term but it certainly sounds nice.

Shiva's "pet issue these days is preservation of agricultural diversity," we're told. "It is under assault, she says, from global companies that encourage farmers to grow so-called high-yielding crops that result in a dangerous dependence on bioengineered seeds, chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides."

Yet even Time admits, "Chemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetic engineering rescued India from its eternal cycles of famine and huge debts from importing food."

"The very chemicals Vandana Shiva condemns, along with the development of new 'Green Revolution' plants, have allowed Indian farmers to quadruple the production of food grains since independence from Britain without bringing any more forest land under the plow," says C. S. Prakash, a Tuskegee University plant genetics professor and founder and president of AgBioWorld Foundation.


If developing world farmers took her one-tenth as seriously as do Western activists and Time magazine, Shiva's proclamations would lead inexorably to massive famine. Organic farming simply cannot produce the yields that farming using chemicals or genetically engineered crops can.


In a wealthy country like the U.S., which produces far more food than it can sell or give away, there's plenty of room for organic farming. Further, because our consumers have so much expendable income our organic farmers have found they can more than make up for poor yields by charging organic-eating yuppies outrageous prices.

But there are no "Fresh Fields" stores in India and other such developing countries, and all too many farmers in these lands still barely grow enough to provide for their own families much less sell crops on the market.


How could Shiva be so insensitive? How could she not comprehend that people living almost exclusively on rice obviously cannot afford chicken cacciatore?

It may have something to do with her having never been a part of the culture she pretends to represent. Shiva was born into wealth and her soft palms have never worked a plow. Weighing in on the heavy side of "pleasantly plump," hunger to her is something she reads about in the newspapers.

Arghh! It's Jabba!
Only such bluebloods have the resources to buy into agrarian sentimentalism.
Typical. A limousine liberal dictating to the peasants.

Quite a Poser!
A post on Free Republic alerted me to a paper by a Yale philosophy professor entitled ARE YOU LIVING IN A COMPUTER SIMULATION?
This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a "posthuman" stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.
OK, kids! Stop watching The Matrix and go to bed!

Thursday, August 29, 2002

It's Crunch Time
Alex Kirby, the BBC News Online Environment Correspondent woke up from his Earth Summit induced lethargy long enough to warn Summit talks 'nearing meltdown':
After four days of the World Summit on Sustainable Development here, delegates are warning it is likely to prove a failure.

They say the talks are approaching meltdown, over the world's failure to confront US intransigence.
What kind of confrontation do the bureaucrats have in mind, Alex? A pouting contest?
Climate change, judged one of the gravest problems, appears to be an afterthought.

And the political declaration may not be ready for world leaders to sign before they return home.
Be still, my heart!
The summit website says: "Major progress has been made in the negotiations on the major outcome document for the World Summit on Sustainable Development on issues relating to trade and finance questions, which include some of the most contentious issues."

But it appears the US wants a weak agreement, or none at all, to leave it free to act as it will.
You got that right, mate! And if the Euroweenies had half a braincell among them, they would too.
The European Union, by contrast, wants something stronger, but has no leverage.
Well if you'd prefer something stronger, why don't you start without us?
It is reported now to be facing pressure from the South African Government to begin to think of compromise, to avoid an outright failure.

The US appears to be set on a unilateralist course.

One delegate told BBC News Online: "The US has nothing to lose, because it wants to preserve the status quo.

"The EU needs to isolate it by winning the support of the G77 group of developing countries, and the only way to get them onside is through some grand political gesture - more rapid trade reform, a faster phase-out of the EU common agricultural policy, more development aid, something like that."
Kirby isn't the only one slipping into a coma apparently.
Paul Jefferiss, head of environmental policy at the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, told BBC News Online: "We must not end up with a weak agreement because we've been outmanoeuvred."
Uh oh! The birdwatchers are pissed!

Skipping more birdbrained blathering we get to the closer:
And fears have surfaced that the political statement world leaders will sign next week may not be ready before many of them return home.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has taken personal charge of it, and there is no word on when it will be ready.
Hey, maybe he can work his theories on AIDS into it!
Back to the Cave, Man!
The Weekly Standard (via Tim Blair) has a deconstruction of envirowacko Gar Smith. A sample Garism "'There is a solution to climate change and pollution. We saw it happen to Russia when their economy collapsed. Their industrial plants closed down, the skies got clear. Their air is a lot cleaner now,' Smith said."

Hey Og! Pass the joint of mastodon!
Amongst the Blogs
By way of putting off seeing what mischief the Johannesburg Junketeers are up to now, I hoovered my rapidly expanding blogroll for the following gems:

Winds of Change (via @i330) has an interesting series about and from an American in the Sudan. While all are of interest I especially like the one pointed to by @i330 which involves fields of Reagan and kids named after the first President Bush.

Over at Daimnation! there's a heartrending appeal to help the unfortunate.

Although I'm sure he would reject the description, Dr. Weevil puts the hammer down on bogus political publicity stunts.
It appears to me that the movie stars, politicians, and other participants in the "Grate American Sleep-Out" were going about their self-appointed task of helping the homeless in exactly the wrong way.

Instead of sleeping on a grate himself, each participant should have invited a homeless person to spend the night at his house: a home-cooked dinner, a shave and a hot shower, a run through the washer and dryer of all the homeless person's clothes, a spare bed or couch to sleep on, a stack of waffles for breakfast, and a bag of ham sandwiches and apples for lunch the next day: all these would have cost the donor very little and helped the recipient a great deal. (As it is, all the celebrities accomplished was to hog some of the best heating grates for themselves and their goose-down sleeping bags, so the homeless were actually worse off than they would have been without the "Sleep-In".)

Glenn Frazier has an interesting discussion of James Bennett's Anglophones Against Transnationalism. Unfortunately the EU and other transnational endeavors are like Communism in its heyday - you can vote yourself in, but you can't thereafter vote yourself out. Therefore, the forces of light have to win every battle.

The Happy Fun Pundit is having a laugh (or something) on Norm Mineta.

I was entranced by John Ellis's analysis of Netflix and the movie rental industry.

Scott Chaffin (The Fat Guy) is doing the Blogcritic thing on his specialty of down home Texas music.

Rand Simberg has a chuckle at Bangladesh nosing out Nigeria for the coveted "world's most corrupt country" award.
Some Common Sense About the Earth Summit
Common sense is in short supply in Johannesburg (and in proximity to any UN outpost), but there are some voices of rationality that appear like jewels in the sty of big media sensationalism. For instance, Jerry Taylor tells us in the The American Prowler about Snubbing Johannesburg:
The world's chattering classes are beside themselves over President Bush's decision to stay in Texas rather than travel to Johannesburg, South Africa, over the Labor Day weekend to attend the U.N.'s "World Conference on Sustainable Development." ...

It's not as if there is any serious business on the table in Johannesburg either. No treaties, no protocols, no binding agreements -- just a lot of hand-wringing about how poverty in the Third World is a western conspiracy and a lot of emotional nonsense about the coming collapse of the environment due to our piggish insistence on maintaining a standard of living beyond that of, say, Pakistan. ...

Look at the data. Life expectancy across the globe has shot up over the course of the last two centuries. People are better fed, better clothed, and better housed today than ever before. Inflation-adjusted prices for virtually all resources -- renewable and nonrenewable -- are going down, which points to growing abundance, not growing scarcity. Global forests have, on balance, expanded over the past 50 years. Air and water pollution in the most industrialized nations of the world is a mere shadow of what it was decades ago. Even Third World countries have found that, once per capita income reaches a certain point, economic growth coincides with a cleaner environment. And if current trends in productivity, population growth, and consumption continue, we'll be able to return a chunk of land the size of the Amazonian Basin back to nature by 2070. The human footprint on the environment is indeed becoming lighter and softer.
Similarly sensible is Claudia Rossett in the Wall Street Journal with When It Pays to Be Poor:
Amusing though it is, however, all this planning of the planet would be a lot more agreeable to watch were this summit really a potent force for reducing poverty (step one, by the way, toward a cleaner earth). Instead, something about the bureaucratic blather and sheer industrial scale of this conclave keeps reminding me of a notion put forward by a 19th century scientist, Simon Newcomb, who wrote that from an economic point of view, "The combined willingness and ability of a number of persons in a community to give dimes to beggars constitutes a demand for beggary." The result, wrote Newcomb, is that in such a community, "a certain number are sure to become beggars, and to study the professional accomplishments which will be most likely to draw money from the pockets of the benevolent."

Not that charity in the best sense is a bad thing. There is something in the human soul--and I'd suggest it is one of our better aspects--that wants to help people in real trouble. Giving food to a person who is hungry is a way of satisfying our own more decent instincts. As a private act, it can be loaded with merit.

But when we create huge state-funded bureaucracies to dole out charity--or aid--we produce a class of professional aid administrators, handing out money that is not their own, and creating a class of professional beggars. By this I do not mean the genuinely poor people all this U.N. hoopla is theoretically supposed to help. They can't afford tickets to this summit, let alone pollution rights for eco-neutral travel. And, since the root cause of poverty is not lack of aid, but lack of liberty backed by law, it's safe to say that most of the world's really poor people, in nations such as Vietnam, Rwanda and Uzbekistan, live under regimes that are hardly democratic enough to let anyone represent true "citizen participation." No, the professional panhandlers I'm talking about are by and large the governments with their attendant bureaucracies that make up the "client nations" on the receiving end of this "sustainable development" pajama party.

In that sense, we are about to witness a mighty meeting in Johannesburg of supply and demand, a global gathering of people engaged in vast transfers of money that keeps aid bureaucrats employed and too often helps keep unattractive potentates in power. It's easy to forget that all official aid--doled out by the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations Development Program, the regional development banks and the whole vast caboodle of tax-funded poverty reducers--gets funneled to its erstwhile end-users via the governments of the receiving nations. For bureaucrats and their bosses, on all sides, that's power.
Claudia's clearly trying to spoil Third World Mercedes sales!
Ramsey Clark, who never met an anti-US cause he didn't like, is taking a field trip to Iraq:
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark has urged President Bush not to attack Iraq, saying a military strike on Baghdad would be a "massive crime against all international law."

"My message to President Bush is: we have absolutely no right to attack the people of Iraq. ... You shouldn't and must not do it," Clark told Reuters late on Wednesday night.


Clark has made repeated visits to Iraq since the 1990 Gulf crisis over Kuwait. This time he was given the red carpet treatment. He met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz and several other ministers.
Little Ramsey Tucker, sings for his supper.
We Want Our Fair Share!
As I mentioned previously, US Congresswhiner Dennis Kucinich is spicing up the Earth Summit by trotting out the old saw that:
"More than 70 nations have signed on (to the Kyoto treaty), and it's imperative that our nation, which has 25 percent of the energy consumption and only five percent of the population, participate in this," said Ohio's Dennis Kucinich.
Here's a clue Dennis. Taking national GDP figures from the IMF, it looks like the total of national GDP's for every country in the world in 2001 for which info is available was $32.939 billion. The US GDP for 2001 was $10.391 billion. The net is that the US produced 32% of the world's goods and services. In 1999, the last year for which complete country information was available, the US fraction was 30%. If we're really doing this with only 25 percent of the world's energy consumption, I'd say we aren't getting our fair share!
It's That Wacky Earth Summit Again

Broccoli Bimbo Alert: one of the PETA "Lettuce Ladies", Lisa Franzetta, will promote vegetarianism on Friday by wearing a lettuce leaf bikini and handing out free vegan sausages, burgers and schnitzels in front of the wingnut Summit in Nasrec. That's a pretty jaded crew, Lisa, the fake leather dominatrix outfit would likely go over better.

BS on a Stick: The Sustainable Development Network, an organization of
African and Asian farmers, and hawkers from across South Africa handed over a "Bullshit Trophy" (yes, that is the trophy's real name) to Greenpeace, the Third World Network and BioWatch for their contribution to the "preservation of poverty" in developing countries.

The trophy comprises of a piece of wood on which two heaps of dried cow-dung - "unfortunately not elephant dung" - are mounted.

Barun Mitra of the Sustainable Development Network (SDN), a coalition of non-governmental organisations which believes, among other things, that sustainable development is attainable only through free trade, officiated at the symbolic handing-over in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Mitra denounced the three NGOs as parasites which "prey on the blood of the poor" and did not help to improve agricultural productivity in the Third World.

"They are not interested in famine or poverty. This lot is concerned only about their own interests.

"They sit here at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in their rich man's hotels and romanticise everything," he said.
The ecoweenies shouldn't be too upset, both wood and BS are renewable resources. Particularly the latter.

DemoWhine: For reasons that aren't clear, other than they need a junket, the US Summit delegation includes a selection of US Congressmen of the wackiest Democrat variety. Yesterday they put up a predictable whine.
"It's a horrible mistake. This was an opportunity for the president to come here and demonstrate his concern and his commitment on these issues at the same time as pressing his war on terrorism."


Ohio's Dennis Kucinich said: "More than 70 nations have signed on
(to the Kyoto treaty), and it's imperative that our nation, which has 25% of the energy consumption and only 5% of the population, participate in this."
This old saw is really tired. Developed economies use more eneregy, Einstein. It doesn't take much electricity to sit in a hut scratching your hindquarters and swatting flies.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

GI Janet with the Kung Fu Grip
Moderate humor from the Tampa Tribune in Reno Protest Masked As Official Web Site:
It has her picture. It even has her own words, taken from transcripts of congressional testimony probing her handling of the deadly 1993 standoff with Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.

And until early July, the now less-than-flattering Web site - - was one that redirected Internet users automatically to Reno's official campaign site, But not anymore.

Ken Adler, a California mortgage banker with a deep self- described dislike of the former U.S. attorney general's politics, noticed a few months ago the domain name was set to expire and waited for his chance to snatch it up. He got his chance in early July, paid $15 for the Internet address and posted the protest page, then waited for the Reno campaign to call with its checkbook ready.

That phone call never came, so the Web page stands.
Clinton's cabinet always seemed to resemble the tavern scene from Star Wars, but even in that zoo, Reno stands out.
Earth Summit Snooze Update
Things are kind of slow around the convention hall, but some of the unwashed are promising lots of fun in the days to come:
Certain environmental and human-rights activists are planning the large-scale disruption of the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, during the next couple of days.

Serious concern exists in South African security circles that this disruption could include violence.

Beeld has learnt on good authority that the South African authorities are bracing themselves for an onslaught by activists bent on derailing, in particular, next week's meeting of about 100 government leaders at the Earth Summit in Sandton.


Security officials are aware of attempts to barricade the highways to and from Sandton with people, among other methods.

A method used abroad, with activists standing on platforms with a hangman's noose around the neck, is expected to be used on the city's highways.

Security officials are hesitant to approach such protesters, in case the platform gives way and the protesters then would hang themselves.
Ooopsie! Sorry about that, pal!

Sounds like Darwinism in action to me.
There is serious concern about a meeting to be attended by Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres in Johannesburg early next week. There are fears that Israeli and Palestinian activists could come to blows.

Beeld has learnt that if the government has its way, the meeting will not take place.

"We cannot stop the meeting, but we regard it as very provocative," said an official.
How's that? Last I heard, Fishface Arafat was going to show his ugly mug at this hootenanny. Tell me about what's "very provocative" so I can save it for my collection.
In government circles, Greenpeace is suspected of having brought activists into South Africa under false pretences.

It is suspected some of the activists involved in the Koeberg incident had obtained visas saying they were coming for research purposes.
Maybe they just wanted to study for their pilot licences.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Earth Summit Humor
Not all Johannesburg hoteliers are raking in the Earth Summit cash according to this report at ScrappleFace.
And at the Monkey House...
To liven up the proceedings at the Earth Summit today, they brought in Jane Goodall who ejected the following:
"Since Sept. 11, Americans haven't wanted to speak out for the environment because it doesn't seem patriotic," Goodall said. "If we allow our planet to deteriorate any more, the terrorists will get their victory. There will be nothing left."


But we're building on a groundswell of concern about environmental issues. People are pretty fed up with the Western world and its greed," she said.
There were already reasons not to hang with Jane.
You Can't Make This Stuff Up
Chile has its own problems with government grants for the "arts":
A Chilean art exhibition featuring dead dogs picked off the highway has stirred controversy in this conservative South American nation, particularly over the use of government funds to promote the event.

The painter and sculptor behind the exhibit, Antonio Becerra, scoured the streets of the capital collecting about a dozen corpses of dogs that had been hit by cars.

He then embalmed the mutilated cadavers and painted on their bodies, inserting pins and spikes into their preserved flesh.

Animal lovers and politicians are outraged by the "Oils on Dogs" exhibition, made possible by a $7,800 government grant.
I wonder how much they will give him if scoops up behind dogs and paints it instead?

Then there's the librarian from the Library of Congress who sold his massive porn collection to a museum. I can't really do this one justice, you have to read it, but here are a few samples:
That's right. The Museum of Sex -- a serious, academically credentialed museum opening in Manhattan on Sept. 23 -- has purchased all of Whittington's grip-and-grin photos of porn stars.

The museum also purchased -- for a sum that remains secret -- nearly everything else in Whittington's world-famous porn collection, which had filled almost every inch of his modest brick house in Clinton.

Whittington, 57, is thrilled. He figures this vindicates his 30 years of curatorial labor in the vineyards of smut. "This should give me a little credibility," he says.

Whittington's 85-year-old mother, May, who lives with him, is also thrilled.

"It got to the point where he had too much," she says. "He couldn't keep it clean."
Undoubtedly an important consideration.
Ralph Whittington learned his archival skills while slaving for Uncle Sam. For 36 years -- until his retirement in 2000 -- Whittington worked at the Library of Congress. Along the way, he was given the responsibility of overseeing the library's collection of phone books.

"I was in charge of every phone book in the freaking world," he says.
Hmm - how to relieve career frustations?
"All I did was use the same techniques that archivists use for other subjects on this subject," he says. "I hope you'll convey to your readers that I'm serious about this. This isn't brain surgery, but I'm not just a guy with a lot of big-breast magazines."


In 1976, his wife left him, taking their 2-year-old daughter. Whittington says he dealt with the pain of divorce by spending quality time with his porn collection. "It kept escalating," he says, "and when my wife left, it escalated some more."


Five years ago, when May Whittington was 80 and widowed, she moved in with Ralph and found herself sharing a home with a world-class porn collection. At first she wasn't too happy about that, but gradually she changed her mind.

"It's something he loves," she says. "You see men his age going to bars or on dope. But he's home day and night. That gives me peace of mind. . . . He's not doing anybody any harm, and he's not doing himself any harm."
How's his eyesight?

As for the "academically credentialed" museum in NYC:
"When a U-Haul opens its doors in Manhattan," Turner says, "and people start unloading boxes marked 'Gangbang' and 'Obese' and 'Ginger Lynn,' you draw a crowd."
More by following the link.

Speaking of collectors, a Gainesville neurologist had an argument with his wife who squealed to the cops about his body parts collection:
According to an arrest report, Debra Warner told police that various body parts could be found in the house.

"I also noticed three human brains contained within jars (in a solution) in plain view," wrote the officer. "The defendant stated he conducted research at his home, including dissections of human and animal body parts. The defendant showed us two human heads, numerous human brains, spines and various other parts contain within jars. The defendant also had a human shoulder with an arm attached in a ... container inside of the car garage."
Hey, everyone needs a hobby!

A Thoroughly Advanced Notion!
The Sydney Morning Herald entrances with Minister to cabbies: you cheat, you die:
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's tourism minister has called for tourist-cheating taxi drivers to be shot dead, likening them to "traitors and communists", reports said today.

In an outburst against cabbies who are found to over-charge or mistreat their customers, Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said they were the "new enemies of our country, the same as communists" and should be shot.

"I am not joking. This is a serious matter. If they can be shot, all the better."
Malaysia also gives illegal immigrants 6 lashes before kicking them out. Somehow, I don't think Mr. Fadzir would approve of the American notion of giving Communists full professorships.
Many Unhappy Returns
The Forrester for Senate campaign has fun with Da Torch:
Happy Birthday, Senator Torricelli!

(HAMILTON, August 26) - Forrester for Senate campaign manager Bill Pascoe - celebrating Senator Robert Torricelli's 51st birthday today - today issued the following statement:

"What do you get the guy who already has EVERYTHING? He has a Rolex, a big screen TV, a $1.225 million 'Torch Mahal' Hunderdon County compound (where, by using a loophole he once condemned, he pays a paltry $198 in property taxes), a jammin' CD player, plenty of snazzy European designer suits, plush oriental rugs, antique grandfather clocks, a couple of brass statues, lucrative insider trading stock tips, and envelopes loaded with spending money.

"You know, he's received so many gifts of late that whatever we'd send would be a pittance. Plus, we have to save our pennies to buy expensive New York and Philadelphia television ads to respond to Mr. Torricelli's slash-and-burn, sleaze-and-destroy, say-anything campaign of misinformation and deceit.

"So we considered just sending a letter - but, of course, he's already received one of those too, from his own colleagues! Then we threw around the idea of showing up at Mr. Torricelli's campaign office with a birthday cake - with a heavy metal file stuck in the middle of it, just in case he should ever need it.
$198 in property taxes on a million dollar house! What a guy!
Party Hearty!
The AP keeps a straight face while recounting Man Pleads Guilty in Union Case:
WASHINGTON (AP) - A partner with an accounting firm specializing in organized labor pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to helping leaders of the iron workers international union hide $1.5 million in entertainment and dining expenses on annual disclosure reports to the Labor Department.

Frank J. Massey, 50, a certified public accountant and partner in the Washington offices of accounting firm Thomas Havey LLP, agreed to cooperate with the government in its criminal investigation of embezzlement and fraud at the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers. The union has about 140,000 members.

Investigators say Massey's cooperation could widen the investigation to include other unions. Thomas Havey is the auditor for more than 700 union-bargained benefit plans and Massey worked with a number of international unions based in Washington.
Nothing like legally sanctioned thuggery to bring out the best. Mr. Massey is presumably being fitted for a Kevlar leotard.
IQ's Have Dropped Sharply
FOXNews provides this bon mot from the Earth Summit:
Just a day into the 10-day summit, delegates were wearing their anger on their lapels -- sporting buttons that read, "What should we do with the United States?"
Piss and moan and demand cash? Nah, they've been there and done that.

Stop whining and get out of our way? Nah, too rational.

How about ingest excrement and expire?
Uh Oh!
News24 says the wingnut Earth Summit crowd is getting restive in Taking a walk about sitting:
Unhappiness about seating arrangements and space allocation at the Sandton Convention Centre could see non-governmental and civil society organisations walking out on the World Summit on Sustainable Development events planned for the centre.

Civil Society secretary Desmond Lesejane told journalists on Tuesday: "The Sandton Convention Centre can take 6 000 people, but 20 000 people have been accredited and 5 000 of those are government delegates."

"The arrangement is that the civil society and NGO members must apply to sit on a first-come first-served basis. We think this is not fair, because if one does not get a seat at the right time to participate, then we miss out on the relevant topic of the day."

Lesejane said they were negotiating with the United Nations on the issue and, depending on the outcome, the groups might walk out on the Earth Summit.
The wingnuts have their own separate "summit" but want to be in on the "real action" in Sandton. I hope they have good metal detectors. The wackos also have a big protest march scheduled for Saturday.

When you invite the mob in, you have to entertain them. Stand by for a "whiff of grapeshot".
Fish Story
Local 6 News astounds with Fisherman Reels In Human Head:
FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- A Fort Pierce man out fishing with his son and a friend made a gruesome discovery in the waters of the Atlantic: a human head.
Paul Trabulsy found the dismembered body part about 22 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet.

The men used a gaff to fish the head out of the water and placed it in a garbage bag. Then they kept right on fishing.

"We didn't want to come in right away, so we just put it in a bag in a bucket. It'd been out there awhile. What's a couple of hours?" Trabulsy said.
I bet the boys at the bait shop can't top that one!

Monday, August 26, 2002

Eat Here, Get Gas
The Sun (UK) waxes wroth with Lobsters, caviar and brandy for MPs at summit on starvation:
The sickening champagne and caviar lifestyle being enjoyed by Earth Summit delegates was exposed yesterday.

They are gorging on mountains of lobster, oysters and fillet steak at the Johannesburg conference - aimed at ending FAMINE.

As the summit began yesterday, desperate kids in nearby shanty towns queued for water at standpipes.

Bigwig politicians among the 60,000 delegates, including Deputy PM John Prescott, also get vintage bubbly and brandy.

Taxpayers are footing the £500,000 bill for the 70-strong British party.
They have a picture of John and he clearly hasn't missed many meals lately. He also plays no particular role at the summit other than taking up oxygen. Of course that could be said about a lot of the junketeers.

One other choice morsel:
But in another ironic twist, hundreds of trees have been felled around the conference centre so fleets of limousines will have unhindered access.
I wonder if they have log fires in the VIP suites?
Latest Earth Summit Snooze
Since the UN came up with the format for the Johannesburg Summit, it's a little hard to explain, but here goes.

Over in Nasrec, the Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's) are having their meeting which seems to go by multiple names including the World Forum, Global People's Forum, or Civil Society Global Forum. This is a major wingnut magnet as the AP describes:
Men and women in traditional African dress stood side-by-side with suited delegates talking into cell phones in the long lines of people waiting to clear security at the entrance to the forum.

Inside, Jewish students danced with farmers from the tiny southern African nation of Lesotho.

An artist fashioned penguin ice sculptures with a chain saw, leaving them to melt in the sun to represent the effects of global warming. And two Falun Gong followers sat cross-legged on the floor meditating next to a display of photographs illustrating the suppression of the spiritual group in China, where it is outlawed as an "evil cult."

Other protesters sang songs from the South African struggle against apartheid and waved placards describing the World Trade Organization as "a monster" and proclaiming: "Release land for landless people."
Gawd! A sixties flashback!. But it gets better:
Despite the festive atmosphere, however, the forum has been plagued with logistical failings.

Organizers had yet to finalize a list of speakers for the event, which officially began Saturday. A promised address by former South African President Nelson Mandela was canceled at the last minute - his office said he was never told he was expected to be there.

Only about half of the anticipated 40,000 delegates registered over the weekend. While people continued to arrive Monday, the main hall was more than half empty for the start of talks.
But peace, love, and general incompetence did not go far enough according to Reuters:
South African police at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg stepped in to keep small groups of jeering Palestinian and Israeli activists apart on Monday.

About a dozen youthful protesters from both sides taunted each other from afar in a 20-minute shouting match but, when the groups moved closer together, heavily armed police quickly moved in and made them disperse before they could come to blows. ...

The young Israelis sported T-shirts with the slogan "Stop hijacking the summit" while the Palestinian placards said: "End the new apartheid in Gaza" and "Free Palestinans".

The line taken by Palestinian environmental activists at the summit has been that conflict with Israeli armed forces has prevented them taking the time to think about how to save the planet.
Don't strain yourselves, fellas!

The most radical of the wingnuts seem to be in charge of this clambake and are calling for a big protest march this Saturday to confront the exploiters in Sandton. Stay tuned for the riot!Meanwhile back in Sandton, the "real" governmental summit had yet another kickoff today, this time without giraffe costumes. The usual suspects , South African President Thabo Mbeki, and UN hacks Klaus Toepfer and Nitin Desai delivered a full load of blather before the proceedings veered into the Slumber Zone:
To allow others to discuss the issues, organisers have staged a series of plenary discussions, in an effort to help the world focus on the main issues.

The format of each session is a mix of official statements, questions and answers from experts and comments from the floor.

But our correspondent says the first two sessions - on health and biodiversity - have not shown the format to be a total success.

The organisers were keen to get off to a harmonious start by choosing a topic on which nearly everyone agrees.

The result was a health session at which speaker after speaker pledged their government's support for better health and listed their achievements and the large amounts of aid they give.
The biodiversity debate has been livelier, with discussion ranging over questions of biotechnology and the patenting of natural life forms.

Our correspondent adds that although the South African foreign minister appealed to speakers to be brief, most speakers approached the microphone clutching prepared statements and read them with single-minded determination.

Organisers say it is the first time this kind of format has been tried at a big UN meeting, and they expect the debates to get livelier as the week goes on.
It's hard to see how that could happen unless some delegates come down with terminal flatulence.
Others pin their hopes on the arrival of senior delegations later in the week.

One UK delegate told BBC News Online: "Nothing's happening here - nothing of any substance. And nothing will till later in the week, when there'll be a critical mass of ministers here."
So why are we paying for it? It sure isn't for the entertainment value. The answer appears to be that the cast of thousands provides a scenic backdrop for backroom negotiations.
The BBC's Liz Blunt at the summit says the main political work is being carried out by a relatively few delegates in closed door sessions.
Hey guys, why not rent a conference room at a Holiday Inn in New Jersey? And how much money is the "political work" going to cost the long suffering US taxpayer?
World Summit Hijinks Alert!
The Independent (SA) has a chuckle with Sex workers show summit pair a trick or two:
The serious business of summitting in Sandton appears to be rendering some delegates vulnerable to the trickery of sex workers, officials said on Monday.
Well, that's one way of describing it.
They said two delegates to the World Summit on Sustainable Development fell prey to some of these service providers at the weekend.

Sex workers somehow stole accreditation cards, which are issued only to delegates, journalists and staff directly involved in the event.

This gave the ladies of leisure access to the Sandton Convention Centre - and delegates who might be in need of some recreation.
And no one could tell them from the rest of the delegates.
Officials said the sex workers apparently befriended two delegates and gave them drugs that caused them to lose their vigilance.
I'm sure they were paragons of vigilance.
"The two delegates were fleeced and lost some valuables in the process."

Officials said the victims should actually regard themselves fortunate to have escaped unharmed.

During the World Conference Against Racism in Durban last year, a delegate died of a drug overdose that was apparently administered by sex workers before they robbed him.

Delegates and others involved in the summit would be well advised to guard their accreditation cards - and their virtue - at all times, officials said.
Likely a tall order.

Another Euroweenie Whine
John Sutherland has his panties in an apparently painful wad and let's everyone know via the Guardian in Return of the ugly American: A redneck country singer is tops with the guys in uniform. No wonder Dubya invited him to the White House. The commentary is insipid, but Sutherland apparently has a thing for Peter Jennings, the talking hair-do:
Jennings is from that distinguished generation of newscasters who dragged middle America back from the Vietnam madness. He rejects the doctrine that America's foreign policy is best conducted by B52. Jennings took particular exception to the chorus: "Oh, justice will be served / And the battle will rage / This big dog will fight if you rattle his cage / You'll be sorry that you messed with the US of A / Cause we'll put a boot in your ass / It's the American way."


In a bizarre evocation of the film Wag the Dog, Senator Zell Miller (Georgia) sent Paul Jennings a pair of boots. Others followed.
(Confusion as to Jennings' first name, courtesy of Sutherland and the Guardian)
Sorry Johnnie, but Peter has never demonstrated any ability beyond that of the average mannequin. Any thinking is likely done by his staff. Maybe they'll take the boot for him too!

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Share the Wealth!
More of the locals in Johannesburg have gotten into the spirit of the Earth Summit and have started their own "Soak the Rich" programs. Monday's Times (UK) reports that:
Last night it also emerged that in spite of the extra 8,000 police on duty, that a shot had been fired at a Swiss delegate in an attempted robbery in a hotel. It followed the earlier robbery on Saturday night of another delegate in a nearby room.
In the same article, the Times notes that the summit promoters rather overestimated the gate:
As the gloom deepened in the corridors, it seems many delegates are staying away. Although 65,000 delegates had been predictected to turn up, the UN has downgraded its expectations to just 40,000, and by yesterday only 9,000 delegates and journalists had been accredited.
It's still two orders of magnitude too large for any serious business, but of course, it's not serious business.
Merry Pronkster Update!
The BBC has a report with more details on the remarks of Jan Pronk, Special UN Envoy responsible for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (sic), whom I mentioned below. Here's the full complement of wisdom from this genius:

He said: "Post-September 11 last year, we have seen security being the overwhelming preoccupation of a country which is already safe.

"We have stoked up fears about aliens, strangers and 'illegals'. We can go for an exclusive society, with the poor and underdeveloped always excluded, or we can go for a world that is a safe place, where people have safe homes and jobs.

"We must stop this trend in inward-looking values, because if we fail to include everyone we will breed resentment, which may also breed violence."
Jan, perhaps you should shut your yap. It breeds resentment in the USA, which may also breed violence.
Budget Crisis at the UN!
Drudge is reporting that Ted Turner is having a hard time fulfilling his billion dollar promise to the United Nations now that AOL Time Warner stock has tanked. Break out the hankies!
Students! Attendance at the Pep Rally is Mandatory!
They held a big hoedown today in Johannesburg to kick off the Earth Summit. Based on available photos, it seems to have resembled an African shanty town with multimedia effects. There were some people dressed up like giraffes though. Unfortunately, those weren't the speakers, no matter how appropriate.

The BBC tried an uplifting version of South African President Thabo Mbeki's welcome address, saying he "urged delegates to go into the summit on Monday in a mood of hope, not despair." They apparently didn't feel it necessary to report additional details like the following snippet reported by News24:
"This is a world in which a rich minority enjoys unprecedented levels of consumption, comfort and prosperity, while the poor majority endures daily hardship, suffering and dehumanisation," he said.

It was a world in crisis through the effects of unsustainable development and the injudicious exploitation of natural resources, in which poverty was exascerbated by war and conflict.

This social behaviour had produced and entrenched a global system of apartheid.

"The suffering of the billions who are the victims of this system calls for the same response that drew the peoples of the world into the struggle for the defeat of apartheid in this country."

Mbeki said the decisive victory of South Africa's apartheid system confirmed the possibility of achieving victory against global apartheid.

"Out of Johannesburg and out of Africa, must emerge something new that takes the world forward away from the entrenchments of global apartheid, to the realisation of teh goals of sustainable development.
(Typos courtesy of News24)
Stay tuned for "global apartheid" to become the catch phrase of the clueless.

Meanwhile the huge (supposedly 65,000) cast of characters started showing up. "Special UN Envoy responsible for the World Summit on Sustainable Development", Jan Pronk demonstrated his solar powered barbering skills, and then confirmed his room temperature IQ with:
The divide between the wealthy and the poor was brought into stark relief by the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States, said Jan Pronk, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's liaison to the summit.

He said that ostracizing the poor will only breed more resentment toward the West.

"We have to provide a safe place for every person, in the future, on this Earth. A safe place, safe home, safe job," he said.
Somehow I don't think providing dirt naps to wealthy Islamic terrorists figures high in his plan.

Then Hans Christian Schmidt, the environment minister in Denmark who is leading the EU delegation, warned that "There is broad agreement that another summit full of words followed by no concrete action would be intolerable." Hans doesn't realize that it is an even better argument for getting rid of the summit generating bureaucracy in the UN. 65,000 delegates indeed.

Hanging Chad Alert!
Alaskan's are considering some election tinkering:
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Voters get to decide this week whether Alaska will become the first state with instant runoff elections, something supporters say would give third-party candidates a fighting chance.

The initiative, appearing on Tuesday's gubernatorial primary ballots, would replace Alaska's majority-vote election with preferential voting similar to the method used in San Francisco city elections and to elect Lord Mayor of London and members of the Australian House.

Voters would pick their choices for an office in descending order from most favored to least favored.

If no candidate received more than 50 percent of the first-choice vote, then the lowest vote getter would be defeated. Election officials then would count the second choice votes of voters who picked the losing candidate and add those numbers to the totals for the remaining candidates.

The process would continue until one candidate received more than 50 percent.
I think this would be great for Palm Beach County! Can you image all the confusion, whining, and general comedy?