Saturday, November 30, 2002

Copycat Alert!
Gerhard Schroeder has been reading Tommy Daschle's playbook - Schroeder: Media in Campaign Against Him:
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Friday said his family had received a series of threatening letters and accused the media of a campaign against him.

"The unmistakably threatening letters that we are receiving beat everything," Schroeder told ARD television. Schroeder, who lives with his wife and her daughter, gave no details of the threats.
Schroeder said he was in favor of tough scrutiny of politicians by the media. But he accused some newspapers, which he didn't name, of going too far.

"The open character assassination that we have in much of the tabloid press at the moment, and not just against me, damages Germany's democratic culture," Schroeder said, according to a transcript of the interview released ahead of its Friday night broadcast.

Irreverent criticism of Schroeder, whose popularity has plunged since his re-election, hasn't been restricted to the newspapers.
Sing along with the Chancellor, kids!

Friday, November 29, 2002

Fire Up the Wayback Machine!
Through the magic of Google, I came across the original article in the The Northern Rivers Echo (Northern New South Wales, Oz) that welcomed Margo Kingston to its pages: Margo Kingston joins The Echo. (If you aren't familiar with Margo, she's rather like Michael Moore, only better looking and Australian. Her latest flap was a slanging match with the NSW Premier, Bob Carr, about her column blaming the victims for the Bali bombing. )

The Echo seems to be a free rural weekly with a circulation of 20,700. Let's see what they had to say about Margo:
Acclaimed political journalist Margo Kingston has been appointed to write on Federal politics for The Northern Rivers Echo.

Ms Kingston, who is currently the online political commentator for The Sydney Morning Herald, spent more than a decade in Canberra press gallery before recently returning to Sydney, where she keeps a weather eye on the National stage.

The Echo's editor, Simon Thomsen, said he was thrilled to have a commentator of Margo Kingston's calibre join The Echo's writing team.
Her weekly column, Political Corrections, will discuss major political issues facing the community and seek reader feedback. Her first column, on May 17, will discuss dairy deregulation.
Dairy deregulation! I guess that explains the shirt, but I wonder how long it took the locals in Wollongbar and Lismore to discover that she doesn't know one end of a cow from the other.

All of which brings to mind the question of what sort of gnawing hunger drove the powers-that-be at The Echo to insert an intergalactic thinker like Margo into a little local paper?
Must have missed it
It turns out the day after Thanksgiving is "Buy Nothing Day". (Actually if you follow the previous link, there seems to a little confusion about what day Buy Nothing Day actually is, except that it is near the end of November.) It's apparently an ecoweenie and wingnut holiday. Newsday covered the NYC march in On 'Black Friday,' protesters urge consumers to "buy nothing.''
The day after Thanksgiving has long been touted as "the busiest shopping day of the year," but upholding a long-standing tradition, colorful protesters marched down Fifth Avenue on Friday urging shoppers to "buy nothing."

Carrying signs reading "Stop the Marketing of Oppression," and "What Are You Paying For? $Human Exploitation, $Animal Torture, $Environmental Destruction," the roughly 100 protesters went from store to store, handing out fliers and railing against corporate greed and blind consumerism.

"No matter what your cause is, no matter what your philosophy, we all have one common enemy," said organizer Adam Weissman. "That is an ideology of corporate greed, that believes that an animal's body is a product and that a forest should be bulldozed for a cocoa factory."

The protest, which in past years had grown rowdy resulting in broken shop windows, drew a large police presence. But with a somewhat carnival-like atmosphere, it was a mostly peaceable affair Friday.

The line of protesters was led by a group of performance artists who pretended to be "consumer drones" following a man wearing a cardboard television on his head to represent "The TV God."
I didn't spot any of these colorful types this morning at the local Ace Hardware's "One Day Sale". Just some older gents in overalls and feed caps. There must have been some blind consumerism though, since they hoovered all the free (after rebate) sawblades and screwdrivers before I got there.

However, up in Canada they gave the day a new twist - Rampage of thieving feared on 'Buy Nothing Day'
City police say they fear Buy Nothing Day scheduled for today may degenerate into Steal Something Day.

Buy Nothing Day is a day proponents have set aside as a protest against commercialism .

A more radical faction has dubbed the occasion Steal Something Day, police Sgt. Alan Cochrane said yesterday.

Last year, groups of rowdies swept through downtown Victoria, stealing merchandise, terrorizing shoppers and diners.
Didn't see those around here either. Our Ace Hardware is kind of old fashioned - it sells ammunition.
Damn, I stepped in some U.N.
(Via Free Republic) You'll be happy to know that according to the United Nations, November 29 is the day that the UN solemnly marks International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People:
The United Nations today solemnly marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People amid widespread calls for efforts to achieve a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict.

"This Day of Solidarity is a day of mourning and a day of grief," Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a commemorative meeting in a message delivered on his behalf by Chef de Cabinet S. Iqbal Riza. Deploring the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he noted that the human and material losses suffered by the Palestinians over the past two years have been "nothing short of catastrophic."
The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Papa Louis Fall of Senegal, said the root cause of the prevailing violence remains the occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel and its perpetuation of illegal actions, including curfews, arrests, detentions, the demolition of houses, the devastation of farmlands, the deliberate pursuit of the settlements policy and extrajudicial executions.
I wonder how much the benighted American taxpayers laid out for this soiree?
That darn anti-Muslim violence
Vincent Schodolski reveals via the Chicago Tribune News Service that Furor surrounds professor who speaks out against radical Islam:
The death threats have stopped and the white van no longer lingers ominously outside his San Fernando Valley home, but the uproar Khaled Abou El Fadl unleashed a year ago has not abated.

El Fadl, a professor of Islamic law at UCLA, has long been a moderate voice urging Muslims in the United States and elsewhere to speak out against radical elements of Islam.

So when he wrote an op-ed article published by the Los Angeles Times in the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he was expressing views he had aired for years - usually to Muslim audiences.

At the time the article was published, many Muslims were speaking out against radical Islam, the kind personified by Osama bin Laden. So what was it about El Fadl's views that provoked such a furious reaction?

"I am the biggest danger to their (version of) Islam, not to Islam, and they don't make the distinction," El Fadl said.

"They," he said, were people who, for various reasons, support a version of Islam that has roots in Saudi Arabia and which, El Fadl suggests, has gained wide sway because of the willingness of the Saudi Arabian government to spend money to export its views.
Our pals, the Sheikhs of Araby.
The FBI and police are investigating the threats and the vandalism of El Fadl's car while it was parked outside a San Fernando Valley movie theater earlier this year. Although the windows were shattered, nothing was taken from the car, the only vehicle vandalized there that day.

Police tapped El Fadl's telephone but never were able to trace the source of the threatening calls.

At first he thought the threats were coming from non-Muslims angered by the terrorist attacks. But soon, El Fadl and authorities concluded that they were from Muslims angered by his criticism of those who failed to speak out against what he calls a "puritanical" form of Islam espoused by the Saudis.

That form of Islam, known as Wahhabism, is in some ways similar to fundamentalist views in Christianity and Judaism. Wahhabism, however, calls for a return to the Koranic interpretations that flourished in the decades that followed the death of Muhammad, the seventh-century prophet of Islam.
Gratuitous reference to Christians and Jews alert! That's getting so old, but it's probably in their style manual.
Where's the Ecoweenies?
News 13 in Tucson reports Immigrants Leaving Mounds of Trash on Tohono O'Odham Indian Sacred Lands:
The Tohono O'Odham Nation faces an environmental crisis. Every day, nearly 1,500 undocumented immigrants pass through the U.S.'s second largest indian reservation, leaving thousands of pounds of trash on tribal lands.

News 13 recently got a first-hand look at some of the areas on the reservation that appear more like a trash dump than sacred lands.

Piles of trash grow to mounds of trash on the Tohono O'Odham lands. In the process of searching for the American dream, some immigrants are trashing Arizona.

Henry A. Ramon, Vice Chairman for the Tohono O'Odham Nation, says, "Mother Earth is something very sacred, and here we see trash all over it."
Tohono O'Odham officials estimate each undocumented immigrant leaves behind more than 8 pounds of litter. With nearly 1,500 crossing tribal lands every day, that amounts to 13,000 thousand pounds a day, and almost 5 million pounds a year.
Those pesky undocumented immigrants!

But at least they don't have to worry about illegal aliens.

Laughing at the losers
RET in the American Prowler provides Born to Lose:
My colleague, the executive editor of The American Spectator (and editor of this website), Wladyslaw Pleszczynski -- no typographical error intended -- after weeks of scrutinizing the Democrats in defeat has come to an illuminating conclusion. They are cultivating the mentality of the born loser. Rather than going back to the locker room and revising their strategy for the next great contest, they are whining, pointing their fingers at teammates, and blaming the referees. Tom Daschle blames talk radio. Al Gore now blames talk radio, Fox News and the infallible Washington Times. Bill Clinton blames?wait he has been almost totally silent. What can this mean? Has Hillary told him he's been a bad boy again?

My favorite adept of the losers' mentality is the New York Times, the newspaper that is to liberalism what the Christian Science Monitor is to Christian Science -- though Christian Science is so much more plausible as a medical therapy than liberalism is as a public philosophy. The Times, after polling the electorate, reports on its front page that the electorate favors the Republican Party over the Democratic Party. On the other hand the electorate is "ambivalent about" Republican policies such as tax cuts and Social Security reform. Yes, I see what they are getting at. The Americans have been seduced by the voluptuous charms of the raffish Trent Lott and J. Dennis Hastert, the most winsome Casanova ever to emerge from Aurora, Illinois. Is such an incongruous conclusion possible?
They were losers long before the last election.
Tuck it up, Tommy!
Peggy Noonan suggests that the usual cast of crybabies Stand Up and Take It Like an American:
In the America of 50 years ago and a 100 years ago and 1776, this is how it went:

You, a citizen, decide you want to belong to a group but you believe in "A" and they believe in "B." There is a clash. Here the old American myth kicks in. You, the citizen, stick with what you believe, and don't join the organization. You won't lie about what you believe, and they won't change what they believe. So they don't let you in. You pay a price for where you stand. But you can keep standing there.
Now that rough old myth has been disturbed. Now it's, "I have my views and your group has its views. If you don't accept me with my views you're wrong, and will suffer in court." Now you insist on joining. You insist they change to accommodate you. You don't respect their position, you insist they alter it. You get a lawyer. You weep and rend your garments.
Let's pick on Tom Daschle.

He, as a leader of a great political party, is an example-setter for the young. Some of them might look to him as a famous man who knows how to be an adult. After the dreadful showing of the Democrats in the election he held a news conference in which he famously blamed Rush Limbaugh and other conservative radio talk show hosts for inciting people to . . . well, to not liking Tom Daschle. Rush says mean things about Tom. His listeners, who Tom Daschle subtly suggests are possibly unstable and insane--how could they not be, they're conservative--get a little too excited when they hear Rush, and start to make rude sounds. "The threat level goes up," says Tom Daschle.

Oh, please. Boo hoo.
Well Anna, and Tom, I have never written of this or even spoken of it, but let me tell you something.

My political philosophy is conservative. I am pro-life. I live in New York City, surrounded by modern people. They are mostly left-wing, they are all pro-choice, many of them passionately and even furiously so. I have written books saying Ronald Reagan is a great man and Hillary Clinton is a bad woman. I know something about being a target, and I know something about hate mail. I have received not hundreds but thousands of the most personal and obscene denunciations; I have received death threats; I have been threatened with blackmail; I have been informed that I do not deserve to live; I have received a three page typed double spaced letter with perfect grammar and syntax the first sentence of which was "Dr. Ms Noonan, Let me explain to you why you are a . . ." and here I cannot suggest the word used. But damned if he didn't make a good case. I used to hear regularly from a woman who'd tell me she hopes I have a brain hemorrhage.

I have never talked about this because I would consider speaking of it both self-pitying and self-aggrandizing. But there's another reason. I'm a grownup. I know you pay a price for the stands you take.
So that's what I think our culture is losing and wants to get back: The old stoic sense that you pay a price to stand where you stand. This, ultimately, is the story not only of all adults who fully take part in the world but of America itself.
Hard cheese to the usual cast of whiners who use "consensus", "multilateralism", and related trappings as a smoke screen for their tedious agendas. But that's just me and I'm unmutual.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Nothing like modern technology
The Wall Street Journal astounds with If TiVo Thinks You Are Gay, Here's How to Set It Straight:
Basil Iwanyk is not a neo-Nazi. Lukas Karlsson isn't a shadowy stalker. David S. Cohen is not Korean.

But all of them live with a machine that seems intent on giving them such labels. It's their TiVo, the digital videorecorder that records some programs it just assumes its owner will like, based on shows the viewer has chosen to record. A phone call the machine makes to TiVo, Inc., in San Jose, Calif., once a day provides key information. As these men learned, when TiVo thinks it has you pegged, there's just one way to change its "mind": outfox it.

Mr. Iwanyk, 32 years old, first suspected that his TiVo thought he was gay, since it inexplicably kept recording programs with gay themes. A film studio executive in Los Angeles and the self-described "straightest guy on earth," he tried to tame TiVo's gay fixation by recording war movies and other "guy stuff."

"The problem was, I overcompensated," he says. "It started giving me documentaries on Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Eichmann. It stopped thinking I was gay and decided I was a crazy guy reminiscing about the Third Reich."
And then there is More hilarity in the full article.
Whoops Alert!
Randall Parker debunks the notion that relentless immigration is the cure for the demographic problem of the declining number of US taxpayers who will have to support the tide of aging baby boomers.
Dog bites man alert!
Over at Fox News, attorney Matt Hayes shocks with New Immigrants Masters at Food Stamp Fraud:
After he’d gone 90 days without payment, my law firm informed Shihad that we could do no more on his case until he made a payment. He pulled a wad of food stamps our of his wallet and said, "Give me some time to sell these."

Shihad, who’d won his asylum case a few months earlier, might have been eligible for food stamps, but he wasn't eligible to sell them. No one is. It's a crime. "Shihad," I said, "I'm withdrawing. You're trying to pay me with the proceeds of a crime."
Maybe it should have been "Man Bites Dog Alert!" - Matt is apparently an honest immigration lawyer.
Unintentional Humor Alert!
Jerry Harkness opines in the Monroe (Louisiana) News-Star - Republican in control should concern citizens:
Caring about the less fortunate apparently isn't one of the "Christian' values conservatives claim to promote. Remember how they mocked President Clinton's quote, "I feel your pain'? Notice how they always squeal socialist at anyone who advocates social justice? They even sneered and ridiculed Jimmy Carter's Nobel Peace Prize. People of that ilk now control the government.
Oh the horror!

Jerry, you could save valuable trees by just saying "I drank the Kool-Aid".
Let's play weapons inspectors and dictator
Niles Latham is apparently the only one on duty at the NY Post. First there is U.N. Weapons Hunt Farce:
Weapons inspectors began their hunt for Saddam Hussein's secret arsenals yesterday in a circus-like atmosphere that included a car crash, a team getting lost, and the sounding of an air-raid siren over Baghdad just as a "surprise" visit was about to happen.
At one point there was an hour-long traffic jam involving the inspectors and the media after two cars carrying journalists crashed into each other.

One team of inspectors also got lost and dove along the same road twice. They did not ask their Iraqi minders for directions for fear of disclosing the destination of their so-called surprise visit.

And adding to the drama was the wailing of air raid sirens over Baghdad at around 8:30 a.m. - just as the U.N. weapons teams left their headquarters to begin their unannounced visits to Iraqi sites.

Iraqi officials claimed that a "hostile flight" was spotted over the Iraqi capital - but Pentagon brass said there were no U.S. or coalition aircraft anywhere near Baghdad and it was likely the air raid sirens were to tip off Iraqi military and security around town that the U.N. teams were on the move.
Where's Clouseau when you need him?

Then Construction Sites May Be Mosque-ing Arms Development:
Two giant mosques that are under construction in Baghdad - and not on the weapons inspectors' list to visit - have aroused suspicion that they are being used to hide weapons of mass destruction.

Outside experts have expressed concern about the mosques because of their massive size and their location in sensitive areas.

When construction is completed, they will be the largest mosques in the entire Middle East - each occupying more than 11 acres of land.

The mosques also are being built in militarily sensitive areas, off limits to ordinary Iraqis who may wish to worship in them.
Nothing to see here - move along!

Finally the Chief Inspector himself weighs in - Blix: I'm No Expert, So Who Needs Me?:
U.N. honcho Hans Blix yesterday insisted there is no reason for him to be in Baghdad because he's a lawyer, not a weapons expert - and admitted his title of chief U.N. weapons inspector is a misnomer.

Defending himself in the face of questions about why he is not in Iraq overseeing the inspections of suspected biological, chemical and nuclear warfare sites, Blix told reporters at the United Nations:

"I am responsible for the operation politically to the Security Council and negotiations with Iraq. I need to be here with the Security Council.
Typical U.N. operation - 99% of it is swapping spit. Hmmm ... maybe I got the spelling wrong.

PC Police Alert!
From Australia, The Melbourne Herald Sun chuckles through Kinders slap ban on Santa:
Santa Claus has been dragged into the state election after several childcare centres and kindergartens banned him for fear of offending minority groups.

Liberal leader Robert Doyle attacked the Bracks Government over the Santa boycott, saying it was political correctness gone mad.
More than a dozen centres across Melbourne yesterday said they will not let Father Christmas in the door this year.

Some, including a Croydon childcare centre run by the Swinburne University of Technology, will substitute a clown for Saint Nick to avoid offending minority groups.

Ethnic community leaders also say the ban is wrong. They have called on the 14 kinders to bring Santa back.

Swinburne spokeswoman Jenni Austin said staff had decided that Santa was not appropriate.

"As a university, we have to be sensitive to the views of minority groups," she said.

A worker at St Andrew's kindergarten, in Clifton Hill, said most children would celebrate Christmas at home instead.

"The majority of the families do celebrate Christmas but there are a few families who don't, so we have decided to have an end-of-year party instead of a Christmas party,' she said.
Mr Doyle said it was all the Government's fault.

"Next it will be cold showers for all at 5am and an early bedtime. Well, not under the Liberals."
Jeez, Bob! Don't give them ideas! But why isn't this discrimination against elves?

Conspiracy theorists are missing a target rich environment with the PC crowd. It has to be very unlikely that they all went barking mad at the same time, so it must be a vast conspiracy!
Newton's Third Law Alert!
Eric Raymond over at Armed and Dangerous has decided the proper response to the Rittenhouse Review is to add Little Green Footballs to his blogroll.

If the above makes no sense, don't worry about it. You've thankfully been spared the details of a faux controversy brought on by the pompous gasbag who runs the "Rittenhouse Review". His 15 minutes of fame are now winding down.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

And an hour later you're hungry again
Business Week reports China's Exports: How Low Can Prices Go?:
Four years ago, China figured prominently in the disaster scenarios of some international economists. At the time, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, and Russia had all suffered severe currency crashes--and contagion was raging through South America. As a result, China's once-booming export machine sputtered to a near-halt, and its manufacturers were pleading with the government to do something. What would happen if China were to sharply devalue its currency to boost its competitiveness? The result, economists worried, would be another devastating round of devaluations around the world that would exacerbate the global financial crisis. Beijing thought long and hard. In the end, it decided to keep the yuan fixed at 8.28 to the U.S. dollar, to the great relief of the outside world.

These days, Beijing again is coming under pressure to do something about the yuan--still valued at 8.28. But now it faces an entirely different conundrum. Trading partners such as Japan and the U.S. are urging China to let its currency appreciate. Why? Because Chinese factories are flooding the world with cheap goods, everything from televisions and DVD players to bicycles and children's pajamas. At a time when most of the global economy is on its knees, Chinese exports have rocketed by 20% so far this year, while its economy is expanding by nearly 8%. In China itself, overproduction has helped push industrial prices down by 7% over the past five years and retail prices by 10%.

To most U.S. consumers, of course, this is a blessing. Made-in-China products have helped keep inflation at bay in the U.S. And China's rise as a manufacturing power has cemented its relationship with the rest of the world.

But a growing minority of economists and policymakers are arguing that a deflationary China poses a real threat to the world. "China's prices are becoming global prices," Morgan Stanley economist Stephen S. Roach wrote in a recent report. Already pricing power over the past decade has collapsed for many consumer-electronics firms, apparel makers, and others. And even though few American producers compete with Chinese goods, Chinese manufacturers are rapidly moving up the food chain into semiconductors, telecom equipment, and other sophisticated digital devices. If the Chinese start dominating these industries, some fear robust pricing will never return to these sectors.

Chinese prices are already causing imbalances in the developing world. Mexico is seeing the flight of whole industries to the mainland. New manufacturing investment has plunged in most of Southeast Asia. The Japanese are already exploring exporting autos from China. Meanwhile, an influx of cheap Chinese consumer items and foods is raising hackles from Japanese producers. Haruhiko Kuroda, Japan's vice-finance minister for international affairs, warned in mid-November that "China will be exporting price deflation to the other Asian countries" as it produces more sophisticated products.
Gee, what's the Red China magic?
China's export juggernaut will certainly mean plenty of disruption for the global economy. But don't look for quick solutions. China deflation won't go away until the flood of workers from farms to factories slows--a process that will take decades.
It won't stop until most of the world's population gets a wage that would make a Chinese peasant happy.
Mr. 57 Varieties Alert!
Howie Carr in the Boston Herald reveals Kerry profile on target? Now that's rich!:
John ``Liveshot'' Kerry stories? I got a million of 'em.

So, apparently, does everybody else, which is why, in the fawning profile of him this week in The New Yorker, Liveshot attempts to inoculate himself once and for all:

``Look,'' he says, ``I was a very serious guy except for when I was a non-serious guy. I knew how to have a lot of fun, sometimes too much. There were plenty of times when I was disengaged, frivolous, four sheets to the wind.''

Henceforward, every sordid little anecdote can be dismissed as ``old news.'' It's the Clinton m.o. Mistakes were made. Move on.

Remember the Eliot Lounge in the Back Bay? One Friday night, Liveshot decides to take a pass on the Eurotrash scene at Biba's and instead heads over to the Eliot to scout out the local talent. He waves to bartender Tommy Leonard and begins chatting up two unattached babes at the bar.

After awhile, it becomes clear that the two cupcakes do not comprehend just how privileged they are this evening, prompting the junior senator to pose the eternal question:

``Do you know who I am?''

``Yeah,'' says one of the gals. ``You're Bob Lobel.''

Oh, the pain. Liveshot was the first male politician I ever saw wearing makeup outside a TV studio. It was during his first Senate campaign, at a hotel fund-raiser, and I was there to do - what else? - a live shot.

``John,'' I asked him, ``are you wearing makeup?''

``Why yes,'' he sniffed. ``I have a bit of a cold.''

There's much to respect about Liveshot, and by the way, despite what The New Yorker says, I'm the one who hung the ``Liveshot'' moniker on him, not Billy Bulger. Bulger called him ``JFK - Just for Kerry.''
More hijinks in the article to serve as a reminder of who the New Yorker is puffing up.

Mr. Ketchup is good too.
The continuing disintegration of the Goron
Prince Al shares some of his genius in Gore’s TV War: He Lobs Salvo At Fox News:
Among the many problems facing the Democratic Party, according to former Vice President Al Gore, is the state of the American media.

"The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party."
Well, they are certainly doing a rather poor job of it. Unlike the Democratic National Committee parrots at CNN/ABC/NBC/CBS/Time/Newsweek/NY Times.
More parrot news
Parrot gives parishioners the bird:
A foul-mouthed parrot is ruffling a few feathers after setting up home in a West Yorkshire churchyard.

The vicar has received complaints from people who have become targets for verbal abuse from the exotic bird.

The mischievous African grey parrot called Charlie has been living with a flock of pigeons in the bell-tower at St Mary's Church in Mirfield.

Three-year-old Charlie regularly turns the air blue by swearing and wolf-whistling at passers-by.
Owner Zarina France, 34, of Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, said even Charlie's favourite monkey nuts had not been enough to entice him back to captivity.

"Charlie can be very abusive and says all sorts of filthy things that I don't want to repeat.

"He probably picked it all up from me and when I heard about a swearing parrot I knew it was our Charlie."
Well, Zarina's more honest than the Russian.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Something else to be thankful for
Enough said.
Economics in every day life
AFP astounds with Waste, trafficking force oil-rich Iran to import fuel. The article has lots of info on old cars, smugglers, and inadequate refineries, but then mentions:
But as long as a litre costs 500 rials (six US or European cents), Iranians are not too worried about fuel consumption or waste.

Each day, 250,000 litres are lost in service stations across the country.

"No one pays attention when they fill up their tank, sometimes up to a litre is spilled on the ground," one station attendant said.
Each litre therefore costs the state about three times more than it does the consumer.
Until then, experts agree the solution is to raise prices, but all understand the risk of social unrest tied to a brutal hike.
Buddy, can you spare 13 billion dimes?
Reuters says the U.N. Wants $1.3 Billion U.S. Loan for Renovations:
The United Nations (news - web sites) wants an interest-free loan of up to $1.3 billion from the United States as part of an ambitious plan to renovate its Manhattan headquarters building, U.N. officials said on Tuesday.
The United Nations has been talking for more than two years about its Capital Master Plan for renovating its aging landmark headquarters compound, completed in 1952.

But it has never publicly said it hoped to finance the entire project, estimated to cost about $1.3 billion, with an interest-free loan from Washington.
Why don't we just offer them a daisy cutter, gratis? With free delivery too. It would be much cheaper and much more useful.

Hey, the cleared space could be Sophie Cannon Park!
Give 'em the number for Renta-a-Clue
Moonbot is creaming his jeans over See you in court, Tony:
Parliament might have been denied its debate and the cabinet might have been silenced, but there are other means of holding the government to account.
If, by 4pm today, his lawyers have failed to agree that he will not attack Iraq without a new UN resolution, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament will take the prime minister to court. For the first time in history, the British government may be forced to defend the legality of its war plans in front of a judge.
When international terrorists strike, call a lawyer. Bwahahahaa.
The case, hatched by the comedian Mark Thomas, looks straightforward.
To a comedian and Moonbot, at least.
The UK and the US are preparing to invade, whether or not they receive permission from the UN. Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, has stated that the UK will "reserve our right to take military action, if that is required, within the existing body of UN security council resolutions". But no UN resolution grants such a right.

Last week, Matrix Chambers, the legal practice founded by the prime minister's wife, prepared a legal opinion for CND. Its findings were unequivocal: "The UK would be in breach of international law if it were to use force against Iraq... without a further security council resolution."
Ooooo! Pretty scary, eh kids? To these cretins, "international law" has been doing a damn fine job so far. Unfortunately, the average citizen doesn't quite see it that way. Probably because they lack your advanced sensibilities, eh Moonbot?
The judge might decide that the courts don't have the authority to rule on military matters, but if she does agree to hear the case, the chances of winning are high. If CND wins, its lawyers believe it is "inconceivable" that the British government would go to war without a new resolution, as it would lose its remaining moral authority.
A deterrent in his own mind.
Activists in the US are hoping to launch a similar case.
Amazing! They come in herds.
If these suits did force our governments to return to the UN, they might not prevent a war with Iraq, as the security council could grant them the resolution they want. But this would not mean that the exercise was a waste of time. If the most powerful countries are permitted to wipe their feet on the UN charter with impunity, then the world will swiftly come to be governed by unmediated brute force.
What gets wiped, Moonbot, is somewhat higher up.
That ought to help!
Carter Urged To Intervene In North Korea Nuclear Standoff:
Left-wing and civic organizations in South Korea are appealing to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to help resolve the crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The Korean Peace Network, an umbrella group of 13 organizations, planned to send a letter Tuesday to the former president and 2002 Nobel peace prize winner, urging him to intervene to decrease tensions on the divided peninsula.

They include such groups as Green Korea, Women Making Peace and People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD).

PSPD spokesperson Yeara Park said from Seoul Tuesday the group did not expect Carter to "solve the problem by himself, but maybe he can raise the issue somewhere."
Peanut Brain has been a big help so far.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Only in Berkeley
She's a pain in the butt! She orders me around by screaming at the top of her lungs. She thinks I am her mate. In her mind we are married. Whenever I leave the room, she screams her killer maniac pterodactyl scream every 10 seconds, demanding that I sit beside her and give her a goddamned treat and talk to her 24/7. I can't fulfill her intense emotional, and probably sexual, needs, too, so she berates me with her 100-decibel piercing scream that is like a razor blade on my nerves.
And don't miss the answer to the question about how she likes Berkeley.
This one is apparently OK with the Prophet
The BBC reports that UAE stages first camel beauty contest. Hi there hot stuff!
Protecting your brand name
The Daily Telegraph amazes with America's ageing Black Panther warriors go into battle again:
More than 30 years after they first went into battle, the leaders of America's Black Panther movement are mobilising again.

This time their enemy is not the white establishment but a black radical group they claim is tarnishing their name.

Surviving members of America's first armed black revolutionary group, led by one of its founders, Bobby Seale, now 65, are suing a Texan group called the New Black Panther Party on the grounds that its politics are too extreme.

On television, the party's leader described the September 11 attacks as revenge for America's "sins against the people of the Earth".

David Hilliard, the original Panthers' former chief of staff, said: "By using our brand name, this group is getting instant validation for its racial hatred and anti-semitism. This dishonours our history."
Has Hell frozen over?
Cry me a river
Nora Fitzgerald reports in the Chicago Tribune that U.S. chest-beating is a growing turnoff among Germans:
Sieglinde Lemke, a university sociologist who teaches a course called Americans in Berlin, says she can't cope with the avalanche of disdain for President Bush and the United States.

"There has been so much press and so much criticism of the U.S. and of Bush, I don't know what to pick out, where to begin," said Lemke, who is preparing a final lecture on how the United States is presented in the Berlin news media. "There is just too much material."

Surveys show a growing anti-American sentiment, which may be as high as it was during the final days of the Vietnam War.
A recent article in Der Spiegel newsmagazine describes Americans as the people who "eliminated the Indians, bombed Dresden, burned Hiroshima [and] didn't sign the Kyoto Protocol." The odd thing about it, the article was actually pro-American.
Germans are unnerved by the Bush administration's new national security doctrine, which reserves the right for pre-emptive strikes against potential enemies. The hard line on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, despite Bush's winning a UN mandate on renewed weapons inspections, compounded fears that the U.S. is indifferent to world opinion.

"I think the question is dangerous," Maria Etzold, 46, responded when asked whether she "likes Americans."

"Spontaneously, I would give the wrong answer and say no. I think American policies are aggressive and about money, oil, power and influence," said Etzold, who runs a children's bookstore in Prinzlauer Berg, a section of eastern Berlin.

"On television, Americans look so patriotic, like they want to run over the entire world," she added.

Patriotism is a ticklish subject in Germany, where any flag-waving or invocations of the fatherland summons images of its Nazi past. The country's politicians have questioned whether it is even possible to be "proud" of Germany. As a consequence, many of their citizens view the U.S. with unease.
Truly pathetic. Probably time to lower the odds on Germany for which European country will be first to adopt sharia. And I wonder how the St. Pauli girl will look in a burqua?

But not everyone has forgotten the lessons of history.
Older Germans, in particular, tends to remember the Marshall Plan to rebuild their country after World War II, the solidarity against the Soviet Union during the Cold War and U.S. support for German reunification.

"We can be thankful we had" the Americans, said Siegfried Zimmerman, 65, a pensioner in eastern Germany.

"The pressure President Reagan put on the Soviet Union helped to get rid of the [Berlin] Wall. Today I am free, I can travel and I don't have to wait 12 years for a car," he added.

It's all our fault - Miss World version
Samizdata mines a mother lode of stupidity in We're not worthy, we're not worthy...

Well I, for one, am perfectly willing to admit that it is all my fault. My suggestion is: Deal With It TM.
I'm from the UN. I'm here to help.
The NY Post reports that Soda So Bad? Pols Pop Off:
President Bush's team is caught in an international cola war - and critics are fizzing mad.

A World Health Organization report links sugary sodas to obesity across the globe, but the Bush administration claims WHO is grasping at straws and its report should be tossed out.
The WHO draft urges national governments to restrict soda advertising aimed at kids, as well as to limit soda vending machines in schools. It also suggests a tax on soft drinks.
That Pelosi in pants, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Venus), is leading the whining on behalf of WHO, which apparently has nothing more important to do to improve world health. If the US taxpayers wanted whining they could have provided Al Gore with a megaphone.
That Saddam, what a guy!
Ted Loos astounds in the NY Times with 'Uncle Saddam': An Avuncular Uncle He Is Definitely Not:
Two years ago, Joel Soler chose to go on a dangerous journey to the Middle East to shoot an irreverent biography of a dictator who was then, in Mr. Soler's words, "a dead story."

Now the subject of "Uncle Saddam," which is being shown Tuesday on Cinemax, is probably the world's most talked-about person. As the world debates about war with Iraq, Mr. Soler's film introduces a strange new perspective on Saddam Hussein.

Did you know that Saddam likes to be greeted with a kiss near the armpit? That he sometimes fishes with grenades? That he is building the world's largest mosque near a man-made island shaped exactly like his thumbprint? These are among the personal details Mr. Soler has gathered in his highly selective and darkly humorous biography, meant to highlight what he calls the "camp" aspects of a dictator's rule.
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Soler does not give out his address. Don't miss the photo of the armpit kissing.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Letter from a pen pal
The Observer (UK) has a letter that "might" be from our ole pal Osama Rum Baba. Blogs of War has the best take on it that I have seen in Osama bin Laden Joins the Progressive Movement:
Osama's new Letter to the American People has been fully translated. It reads like someone took the Koran and the Reader's Digest Guide to the Progressive Movement and threw them in a blender.
Lots of good wingnuttery by hopping on over to the Observer. "Osama" even complains about the Kyoto agreement! My favorite part is:
Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the official Oval office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that he 'made a mistake', after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and remembered by nations?
Yep. If we don't squash you and your pals like bugs, it would be far worse.
Flamebait Alert!
(Via Fark) Over on there's a FAQ on Russian Mail Order Brides:
Why date or marry a Russian woman?

Why date or marry a Russian woman, you might ask? The inspiration for the Russian Mail Order Brides website grew out of the frustrations the website’s creators had over trying to find nice American women to date.

American women can have attitudes that are difficult to deal with. They are often demanding and hard to please. Russian women on the other hand are so unspoiled.
The sales pitch continues by following the link.
Our pals alert!
Mexico to campaign to legalize workers:
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's foreign minister, Jorge Castaneda, said his country would begin a "bottom-up campaign" to win U.S. public support for a proposal to legalize 3.5 million undocumented Mexican workers in the United States.

Castaneda said Mexican officials will begin rallying unions, churches, universities and Mexican communities.

"What's important is that American society sees a possible migratory agreement in a positive light," Castaneda said. "We are already giving instructions to our consulates that they begin propagating militant activities -- if you will -- in their communities."
"Militant activities" - sounds right interesting. And that really ought to lead to a "positive light".
Ah! Sunday on blogspot
Permalinks aren't working although they will eventually.
Yikes! This sounds like work!
The Seattle Times reveals Return scam brought down by alert worker:
Anthony Davenport made his living in the return line at Home Depot - hundreds of them, in 23 states, police say.

Printing out fraudulent bar codes in a series of temporary homes, Davenport and two accomplices allegedly would place cheaper price tags on two expensive items, buy them and then return them at the true price. They then allegedly sold the cards containing store credit to others at a discount, pocketing the profits.

A Mesquite, Texas, man told police that he was using the cards, which he bought at 70 cents for every dollar of store credit, to build his new home.

In the year before they were arrested at a San Leandro, Calif., Home Depot, the trio visited at least 307 Home Depot stores, buying the same light fixture and faucet again and again and raking in $45,000 a month. Federal authorities last week froze $822,000 worth of their assets.

"It was their job," San Leandro Police Detective Cathy Pickard said. "They would get up in the morning, and that's what they would do. In the statements one of the guys gave, that's what he said: 'This is what we did for a living.' "
Hmmm, but it does pay well.