Saturday, January 01, 2005

Now for something completely different

The Australians and British have this quaint custom of declassifying documents that are 30 years old on New Year's day. As a result there are a raft of stories mostly of the low comedy variety. I particularly liked the Gough Whitlam follies including nearly accepting a con man's offer to loan the Australian government big bucks. However, my favorite is Princess foiled 1974 kidnap plot:
Ian Ball, a 26-year-old burglar with mental health problems, ambushed Princess Anne's car in the Mall, London, one night in March 1974.

He had asked her to "come with me for a day or two" because he wanted £2m.

Papers released under the 30-year rule show the Princess told him "bloody likely, and I haven't got £2m".

The briefing has been released by the National Archives.

In the document, written for prime minister Harold Wilson, the Princess said the only thing that had stopped her from hitting Ball was the thought that he would shoot her.

"It was all so infuriating; I kept saying I didn't want to get out of the car, and I was not going to get out of the car," she said.

"I nearly lost my temper with him, but I knew that if I did, I should hit him and he would shoot me."

Ball was apprehended after shooting and wounding two police officers, Princess Anne's driver and a journalist who had been following in a taxi.
Mr Wilson wrote in green pen at the top of the file: "A very good story. Pity the Palace can't let it come out. Perhaps it will in court. HW"
I'm not a huge fan of the Royals, but enjoy the idea of feisty Anne telling off a kidnapper with a gun.

Other revelations in the documents by following the link including:
Ugandan dictator Idi Amin offered to save the UK from financial ruin, and suggested he could broker peace in Northern Ireland
Too bad ole Idi isn't around anymore. He'd be a hero at the United Nations.

There's one in every bunch

You know who I mean. The co-worker or fellow member of some community organization who, when the group is faced with a task, claims to be the leader, does no work but nitpicks everybody else's, and spends most of their time talking to folks outside the group claiming credit for all the work being done. Cut to the Diplomad:
Well, we're heading into Day 7 of the Asian quake/tsunami crisis. And the UN relief effort? Nowhere to be seen except at some meetings and on CNN and BBC as talking heads. In this corner of the Far Abroad, it's Yanks and Aussies doing the hard, sweaty work of saving lives.

Check out this interview (on the UN's official website) with SecGen Annan and Under SecGen Egeland shows,
I provided this to some USAID colleagues working in Indonesia and their heads nearly exploded. The first paragraph is quite simply a lie. The UN is taking credit for things that hard-working, street savvy USAID folks have done. It was USAID working with their amazing network of local contacts who scrounged up trucks, drivers, and fuel; organized the convoy and sent it off to deliver critical supplies. A UN “air-freight handling centre” in Aceh? Bull! It's the Aussies and the Yanks who are running the air ops into Aceh. We have people working and sleeping on the tarmac in Aceh, surrounded by bugs, mud, stench and death, who every day bring in the US and Aussie C-130s and the US choppers; unload, load, send them off. We have no fancy aid workers' retreat -- notice the priorities of the UN? People are dying and what's the first thing the UN wants to do? Set up "a camp for relief workers" one that would be "fully self-contained, with kitchen, food, lodging, everything."
Gosh, I hope they'll have a fully stocked bar, too!

And check out this post from the day before:
We have US C-130s flying in and out of here dropping off heaps of supplies; US choppers arrive today; USAID is doing a knock-out job of marshalling and coordinating US and local resources to deliver real assistance to real people. The Aussies have planes and troops delivering stuff; even the Indians have goods on the way. The UN? Nowhere to be seen. OK, I'm not being fair. Last night they played host to a big "coordination" meeting of donors to announce that the UNDP has another large "assessment and coordination team" team arriving. Our USAID guys, who've been working 18-20 hrs/day, came back furious from this meeting saying everybody would be dead if the delivery of aid waited for the UN to set up shop and begin "coordinating." The UN types are upset with the US, Ms. Short, dear, not because we're undermining them but because we're showing them up as totally inept.
Of course, my analogy breaks down because in the case of the United Nations, all the coworkers are paying them to "participate." I wonder when we'll wake up and kick the kleptocrats out?

Things you don't understand can kill you

I was horrified by the stories of the folks on the Indian Ocean beaches who thought it was neat the way the water suddenly went way out and ventured out to look at the rock formations and what not. Even if you didn't know what it meant, wouldn't you be a tad suspicious? Apparently, all but a few were not.

PHUKET, Thailand - Quick-thinking 10-year-old Tilly Smith is being hailed as a hero after saving her parents and dozens of fellow vacationers from the deadly tsunami - thanks to a school geography lesson.

Tilly warned the doubting adults at a resort that a massive tidal wave was about to strike - just minutes before the deadly tide rushed in and turned the resort into rubble. Tilly's family, from Surrey, England, was enjoying a day at Maikhao Beach last Sunday when the sea rushed out and began to bubble.

The adults were curious, but Tilly froze in horror.

"Mummy, we must get off the beach now!" she told her mother. "I think there's going to be a tsunami."

The adults didn't understand until Tilly added the magic words: "A tidal wave."

Her warning spread like wildfire. Within seconds, the beach was deserted — and it turned out to be one of the only places along the shores of Phuket where no one was killed or seriously injured.
Elders' Knowledge of the Oceans Spares Thai 'sea Gypsies' From Tsunami Disaster
Knowledge of the ocean and its currents passed down from generation to generation of a group of Thai fishermen known as the Morgan sea gypsies saved an entire village from the Asian tsunami, a newspaper said Saturday.

By the time killer waves crashed over southern Thailand last Sunday the entire 181 population of their fishing village had fled to a temple in the mountains of South Surin Island, English language Thai daily The Nation reported.

"The elders told us that if the water recedes fast it will reappear in the same quantity in which it disappeared," 65-year-old village chief Sarmao Kathalay told the paper.

So while in some places along the southern coast, Thais headed to the beach when the sea drained out of beaches - the first sign of the impending tsunami - to pick up fish left flapping on the sand, the gypsies headed for the hills.

It's too early in the morning for these idiots

Click photo for full size

Even worse, the snap accompanies an article reporting that Language Purists Sack 'You're Fired!':
From wardrobe malfunctions to erectile dysfunction, it's been a tough year all around for the guardians of English - language purists from blue, red and battleground states who long to say "You're fired!" to offensive words and phrases.

More than 2,000 nominations arrived in Michigan's far north, where a committee at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie released its 2005 compilation of language irritants Friday.

Among the 22 expressions on the "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness" are "blog,""sale event,""body wash" and "zero percent APR financing."
These are the worst they could come up with?
Donald Trump's phrase "You're fired!" from his TV show "The Apprentice" deserves a ban, if nothing else so that imitators avoid a possible trademark infringement, the committee said.
I guess they banned "clue" some years ago.

Friday, December 31, 2004

It must be New Year's Eve!

Everybody is talking hangover cures and coming up with lists of best whatever for 2004. I'm fortunately free of the list making gene which allows me to just quote the best lines from everybody else's lists. Anyhow, the NY Post has the Cliff's Notes version of The Media Research Center's The Best of Notable Quotables 2004. Pride of place has to go to:

"The story is true. The story is true. . . . So, one, there is no internal investigation. Two, somebody may be shell-shocked, but it is not I, and it is not anybody at CBS News. Now, you can tell who is shell-shocked by the ferocity of the people who are spreading these rumors." — Rather, denying that CBS would investigate his story on President Bush
There's a million of them! How about:

"John Dean, who was at the center of the greatest political scandal in this nation's history, has produced a book with perspective, and that perspective is simply terrifying. The bottom line: George Bush has done more damage to this nation than his old boss, Richard Nixon, ever dreamt of. . . . This could have been the historical, essentially, prequel to George Orwell's novel 1984, that if you wanted to see what the very first step out of maybe 50 steps towards this totalitarian state that Orwell wrote about in his novel, this [President Bush's policies] would be the kind of thing that you would see." — MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Countdown


There are those who believe that Dick Cheney has led this administration and this president down a path of recklessness, that maybe his approach, his dark approach to this constant battle against another civilization, is actually the wrong approach for ultimately keeping America safe." — NBC's David Gregory, shortly before Cheney's acceptance speech
The MRC also has Times Watch 'Quotes of Note Worst of 2004' featuring the ripest foolishness from the New York Times. Where else could you read tripe like:
Tots surely won't recognize that Santa's big entrance in front of the throngs of frenzied elves and awe-struck children directly evokes, however unconsciously, one of Hitler's Nuremberg rally entrances in Leni Riefenstahl's 'Triumph of the Will.' But their parents may marvel that when Santa's big red sack of toys is hoisted from factory floor to sleigh it resembles nothing so much as an airborne scrotum." -- Movie critic Manohla Dargis reviewing "The Polar Express," November 10.
Then there are all the folks with their New Year's Resolutions. The NY Post asks some celebs and got some rather nontraditional responses:
Actress Diahann Carroll: "To be more selfish and think more about myself."
Miss Guy, lead singer of the Toilet Boys: "To drink more, smoke more and have more sex."

Andy Clerkson, editorial director, Maxim magazine: "To fight off worrying symptoms of metrosexuality. I will refuse latte, lightly tinted sunglasses, fingernail-buffing and the phrase 'low-carb' in favor of billiards, dirt biking and drinking hard liquor at the office."
Toilet Boys?

And one more:
Actor Dan Aykroyd: "To look [others] in the eye for the fond, warm embrace that wafts across this great, free land, and let us remember this phrase: 'Death to our enemies! Go, Marines!'"
Could Dan be funnin' us? He doesn't seem the type.

Watch out for tsunami relief con artists!

And not just the petty crooks that these kinds of disasters seem to attract. I'm talking about the big chiselers at the United Nations. I mentioned yesterday that all the UN brings to the table is other people's money. Diplomad provides Things That Make You Say 'Blah!' The UN Response to the Tsunami:
We've been working some very long days since the tsunami hit this region: today was another 18-hour day, on the heels of a sleepless night answering phones, writing messages back to Washington, coordinating with Pacific Command in Honolulu, and trying to nail down a thousand and one details big and small. There will be no New Year's holiday for any of us.

Our regular readers know that this blog is very critical of the Foreign Service and the State Department. But to be fair, I think Americans would be proud of the dedication shown and of the work being done by their Foreign Service, some incredibly competent and energetic USAID workers, and, of course, the US military.
In stark contrast, the much-vaunted UN humanitarian effort is a disgrace.
Believe me, there is no massive UN effort underway. There is a lot of UN blah-blah, but that's it.

Notice in citation #2 above that when Egeland talks about "an enormous relief effort is on its way" he really means the UN has begun to send bureaucrats out to affected areas to file reports. Also note citation #3: children are dying all over the place and where does UNICEF want to spend its, I mean, your money? On psycho-babble training of teachers -- teachers who probably are knee-deep in mud and water right now.

Ironically the UN effort is best summed up by the "outspoken" Mr. Egeland, who in an unguarded moment in New York revealed the truth: "We are doing very little at the moment."
Follow the link for more. The kleptocrats don't have a clue except how to attach themselves to cash and organize conferences at world resort spots. I guess the Indian Ocean is off the list for a while.

Biscuits and Gravy - Dec. 31, 2004

Conservatives dominate the media, really
So let me 'fess up: It's true. America's major media have long been the lapdogs of conservatism, quietly but effectively purveying its propaganda to an unsuspecting public.

Space limitations prevent me from offering more than a few examples, so let's start with the one that conservatives have long identified as the primary cancer on the body of American journalism: The New York Times. Are you among the millions who have been deceived by what we conservatives have long pointed to as proving our contention: that the Times, in its editorials, endorses Democratic candidates, for everything from president to dog-catcher, 99 percent of the time? Don't be so naive!

Nobody reads the Times' editorials, or at least takes them seriously. Look, instead, at the Times' fabled Op Ed page. Can you believe that anyone seriously wanting to do liberalism a favor would give permanent weekly spaces in that valuable real estate to three such hysterical leftists as Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert and that rehabilitated Enron consultant, Paul Krugman? It would be fascinating to know how many thoughtful Times readers have been edged toward conservatism by weekly doses of their drivel. Do you think the Times is unaware of that?
BBC checks navel for clue - can't find either
Should we be worried about the threat from organised terrorism or is it simply a phantom menace being used to stop society from falling apart?
I believe the technical term is "false dichotomy."

NY Post Letters on Bill Clinton's Rich Pardon
Hopefully, some chickens are coming home to roost for Bill and Hill now that Marc Rich has been fingered as an active participant in the U.N. Oil-for-Food fiasco.

This is the same tax evader and fugitive whose ex-wife Denise funded Hillary's senate campaign and Bill's presidential library with big bucks, in exchange for a last minute presidential pardon for her husband just before Clinton left office.

When Hillary Clinton runs for president as the Democratic candidate in 2008, the Republicans must not let Americans forget about Marc Rich.
From another letter:
Bill Clinton: the gift that keeps on giving.
Kind of like the clap.

Analgesic withdrawals: What a pain
It is a fact of American journalism that it is almost always in a state of agitation. Its practitioners should, with a few notable exceptions, be on medication at all times.

For the newsrooms of America I would prescribe one of the many fine tranquilizers produced by leading pharmaceutical companies.

An example of the agitation afflicting my unsedated colleagues is the enormous pother they have created over another of the pharmaceutical companies' wonders: painkillers.
Brazil Town to Honor Arafat With Statue
The New Year's Eve celebrations in the small community of Paraiba do Sul will honor a figure the town's mayor says hasn't been honored anywhere else in the West - the late Yasser Arafat.

Moments before the clock rings in 2005, a fireworks and light show will serve as a backdrop to the unveiling of a life-sized statue of the Palestinian leader holding the traditional symbol of peace, the olive branch.
If they wanted traditional symbols for ole Fishface, the statue would be wearing a bomb belt and holding a money bag.
The New Year's Eve inauguration of the Yasser Arafat Memorial will be Onofre's last public act as mayor of Paraiba do Sul, a town of 37,000 people 250 miles northeast of Sao Paulo.

During his eight-year tenure, he has unveiled statues of Cuba's revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Cuban President Fidel Castro, as well as Brazil's late Communist leader Luiz Carlos Prestes, among others.

Onofre, a socialist, said the people he decided to honor are "individuals who fought for their ideals."

Asked if referendums were held so that the citizens of Paraiba do Sul could decide which personalities to honor, the outgoing mayor said: "No. I and my cabinet made those decisions."
He's sad he didn't have time to put up one of Jimmy Carter. Seriously.

Warren Christopher - Still an idiot
We stand at a moment of rare opportunity for the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate Palestinian leader, dominates the field for January's presidential election.
Yeah, real moderate, real opportunity. If you're a Clinton dung fly.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

It's all about the United Nations, I guess

Former UK cabinet minister Clare Short has her knickers in a twist - Bush 'Undermining UN with Aid Coalition':
United States President George Bush was tonight accused of trying to undermine the United Nations by setting up a rival coalition to coordinate relief following the Asian tsunami disaster.

The president has announced that the US, Japan, India and Australia would coordinate the world’s response.

But former International Development Secretary Clare Short said that role should be left to the UN.

“I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up,” she said.

“Only really the UN can do that job,” she told BBC Radio Four’s PM programme.

“It is the only body that has the moral authority."
Sigh. The only thing the UN brings to the table is other people's money. More perverse whining by following the link including this beauty:
Ms Short said the coalition countries did not have good records on responding to international disasters.
Have another hit off the bong, Clare.

Anyhow, it isn't just Clare. Apparently Kofi Annan noticed he wasn't going to get his cut and called Colin Powell - Powell, Annan Discuss Asia Aid:
Secretary of State Colin Powell conferred by video hookup U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Thursday on assistance to the victims of the Asian and African tsunamis and then added the United Nations to the core group planning relief efforts.
Hasn't Colin left yet? On the other hand, maybe they can send the UN folks out for coffee. And there's one sure way to tell that the U.N. is involved - it's conference time!
With the death toll rising, European governments were taking soundings on holding an international donors conference Jan. 7, a senior U.S. official said.
Here's a thought, maybe the United Nations could dig into its piggy bank and come up with some loot:
The already controversial U.N. Oil-for-Food program may also have been a vast international money-laundering scheme involving potentially hundreds of millions of dollars, documents reviewed by FOX News suggest.
Anyhow, Fox News has a video of Kofi's news conference linked off their home page where he was asked explicitly whether the United Nations had enough people to provide disaster relief and he launched into a spiel about U.N. partners like the Red Cross. Hey everyone! Just provide the cash and the workers and the goods and they'll provide the "moral authority." With that and $10 and a US Air Force C-130 you can airlift a bag of rice.

Was Nick Coleman drunk or just off his meds?

Nick Coleman, crack columnist
Nick Coleman, "crack" columnist

It's a fair question after his ranting, ad hominem screed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune attacking the proprietors of Power Line. "Career Suicide by Blogger", indeed. But the fascinating part of all this is the insight into the the life of a leftoid columnist for a big city left-wing daily like the Red Star Tribune.
As staff at the Star Tribune got word of Coleman's hire, there was little in the way of celebration. The decision to hire a 53-year-old white guy with liberal tendencies to write a column in the metro section alongside Doug Grow, another fifty-something lib with skin color to match, actually befuddled a number of people--including Grow, who some believe may be reassigned to a lower-profile beat. "I always assumed, and this is not meant as a criticism of Nick, that they would hire someone with a much different voice; whether it be a female, a person of color, or a conservative [snort - ed.]," Grow says.

Confusion in the newsroom quickly morphed to anger, not only because a brand-new, high-paying position was created for Coleman while other departments at the newspaper are struggling to do more with less, but because the job was never posted, which offended many longtime writers, especially women and people of color. There was even scuttlebutt, unsubstantiated but illuminating, that Coleman may have signed a package deal so that his wife, PiPress columnist Laura Billings, could come over to the Strib after she completes her pending maternity leave. (Coleman flatly denies the rumor.)

By the end of last week, the Newspaper Guild, which also represents editorial workers at the Strib, was debating whether to lodge an official complaint against the paper for engaging in illegal hiring practices. "It would be more than fair to say that a lot of people are upset," one union rep says. "That's a great job, and there's more than a few people around here who would have done it very well."
Ruh Oh! I guess ole Nick has to keep up his street cred with the wingnuts or he gets "equal opportunitied." No more columns about domestic bliss, eh Nick?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

It's another one of those damn clowns!

Idiot Ramsey Clark and his bosom chum John Kerry

Guess Who's In The Courtroom With Saddam?

Time magazine checks butt for cranium

(Hat tip: FR) I missed this beauty in the issue where Power Line was named Blog of the Year. Cut to the press release:
TIME also names Power Line its Blog of the Year. “Before this year, blogs were a curiosity, a cult phenomenon, a faintly embarrassing hobby on the order of ham radio and stamp collecting. But in 2004, blogs unexpectedly vaulted into the pantheon of major media, alongside TV, radio and, yes, magazines, and it was Power Line, more than any other blog, that got them there,” writes TIME’s Lev Grossman.
It's no surprise that I missed it, since I don't read Time, but I wonder - did they reveal any of Lev Grossman's hobbies? If so, did sheep bothering play a prominent role?

Someone got it


The usual suspects searching for a meme

Wizbang has a series of posts nicely covering the wingnuttery as the usual suspects strive to find a away to blame Americans, in general, and George Bush, in particular, for the Indonesian tsunami and its effects. Of course, it's a little tough blaming anyone for an earthquake, but that isn't going to stop them.

First off the mark was an attempt to blame "global warming" and "evil" development for er, making things worse. As a bonus, there's a nice whine that Momma USA should have done more to contact every government in the region when the needles started jiggling on the seismographs. Maybe singing telegrams? Of course, some of the local governments had plenty of warning and did nothing. Hmmm, there's novelty in these, but they don't seem like winners.

OK, how about some United Nations whining that the US is stingy as I mentioned on Monday? Nice try, but the gales of hilarity that greeted that ploy have forced the kleptocrat in question, Jan Egeland, to retract his remarks:


Egeland knew exactly what he was saying — and he meant every word of it.

Of course, it was about as truthful as the rest of the slime that oozes from that cesspool on First Avenue.
Ruh Oh! Time to try something else!

Well, the Washington Post is making a game attempt today by trotting out a Democrat hack who's sobbing that President Bush hasn't been sensitive enough. You know, having a photo-op to feel their pain and all that. Yeah, that'll make the survivors living in shelters feel so much better - when they get their TV's working.

Still not good enough, folks. What's next?

There's always fun at the UN!

Claudia Rosett does the honors again in Blue: The Next Orange? Forget reform. The U.N. needs regime change.
The advance of liberty and its attendant institutions can be a rough business, provoking stiff resistance by those who find their interests most threatened: the dictators, cronies and retinues of careerocrats who have already have made their compromises of conscience. And although specifics vary, there are some broad familiar patterns to the process of genuine reform. Protests break out, criticism once whispered in backrooms is heard on the streets, misrule and corruption are increasingly exposed. The regime tries to smother dissent while announcing reforms: too little, too late. In the best of cases--the Baltics 15 years ago or, one hopes, Ukraine today--the old framework gives way, and the democratic revolution has arrived.

In the worst of cases, however, we could just as well be talking about the ruckus of recent times at the United Nations, where the regime, is now really beginning to fight back, and may yet succeed in smothering progress. Without making a single truly significant reform--or, for that matter, suffering a single indictment--the U.N. this past year has weathered its worst spell since the early 1980s. That was the stretch in which the Soviets shot down a South Korean airliner, the U.S. pulled out of a corrupt Unesco, and with certain U.N. member states resenting all the fuss, U.S. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick's deputy, Chuck Lichenstein, told unhappy member states that if they wished to leave America's shores, "the members of the U.S. mission to the United Nations will be down at the dockside waving you a fond farewell as you sail into the sunset."
A lot of the citizens too.
Of course, the U.N. remained comfortably berthed in Turtle Bay, stoked to this day with U.S. taxpayer money, wrapped in diplomatic immunity, and steeped in secrecy more appropriate to the inner workings of the 18th-century French court than a modern world in which free and open political systems offer the best hope of all that peace and prosperity the U.N. is supposed to promote.
Not that the U.N.'s top officials make much secret about their opinions, of, say, their U.S. sugar daddy, the latest example being the rush by Undersecretary-General Jan Egeland this week to condemn as "stingy" U.S. and European offers of relief for the tsunami that has devastated South Asia. Mr. Egeland opined that taxpayers "want to give more," a notion that somehow equates giving more via the U.N. with getting better results. This comes from a U.N. that while evidently failing to set up an international warning system for catastrophic tidal waves did manage last year to turn in a report on snow levels in Alpine ski resorts.
Woohoo! It's just a matter of priorities, Claudia!

If you take a walk in the woods, no opprobrium attaches to finding a wood tick on your body. But what dementia would prompt you to leave it there and watch it gorge itself and grow swollen with your blood?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

It's so hard to decide!

I think I'm with Rodger on this one. Franken is just a twit and there are some much more deserving targets pretending to be journalists.

It must have really broken the AP up to run this photo:

Jihadi Grease Spot
Click for full size
An Iraqi National Guard collects remains of a suicide bomber after a car bomb targeted the home of a senior Iraqi National Guard officer in the Azimiyah neighborhood, Baghdad Tuesday Dec. 28, 2004, injuring nine of his guards and passersby.
It might have been one of their stringers who's now a grease spot.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Here it comes - the UN weenies are complaining that the US is "stingy"

While the USA and other nations are sending in relief supplies, emergency workers, and funds for the aid of the tsunami victims, back at United Nations headquarters in New York, Jan Egeland, undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, opened his piehole:
In a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York, Egeland called for a major international response -- and went so far as to call the U.S. government and others "stingy" on foreign aid in general.

"If, actually, the foreign assistance of many countries now is 0.1 or 0.2 percent of the gross national income, I think that is stingy, really," he said. "I don't think that is very generous."
It's a massive natural disaster and the kleptocrats at the United Nations want to whine about foreign aid "in general."
Egeland said that in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, politicians 'believe that they are burdening the taxpayers too much and that the taxpayers want to give less. That's not true. They want to give more."
What's stopping them from making private contributions? And when you write that check to United Nations, don't forget to add some extra for handling, because they love to handle it.

UPDATE: Here's the UN News Centre report. It was a regular herd of bloviating bureaucrats! Ruud Lubbers was even there and hopefully kept his hands off female staff members. And while the report tactfully doesn't mention the "stingy" remark, it does have this gem:
Adding his condolences to those of other UN officials, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States Anwarul K. Chowdhury said the catastrophe “highlights the vulnerability” of such nations to these events.

Mr. Chowdhury, who is Secretary-General of next month’s UN International Meeting on Small Island Developing States, which will be held in Mauritius, urged affluent countries to work together to support small island States as they try to recover from natural disasters such as the tsunami that struck southern Asia and to cope with the effects of climate change.
He managed to work in Global Warming! But I would like to have a title like Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

But it wasn't all bad news!

Church finds its own brand of beer draws young crowd:

Since introducing its own brand of lager this fall, St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill has seen an influx of twenty- and thirty-somethings on Sunday mornings.

"I can't say it's a compelling reason," Rector Paul Abernathy said when asked whether the addition of Winged Lion Lager to Sunday's pub-lunch menu had anything to do with the new faces.

But he acknowledged the coincidence and said with a smile, "I'll find out."

Pub lunches are a long-standing tradition at the 135-year-old church, whose 700 members pride themselves on their fellowship and conviviality, Abernathy said.
Ah, wondrous conviviality! Maybe they could kick back and watch the game together on Sunday afternoon too! All they need to add are some bar maids and a big screen TV.

Castro hits oil:
President Fidel Castro said a crude oil deposit has been discovered off Cuba containing up to 100 million barrels, good news for a country that imports about half the petroleum it needs.
Castro said the deposit was located off the coast of Santa Cruz del Norte, east of Havana, during an exploratory drilling. He said production at the site could begin during 2006.
Yikes! Underwater drilling! I'm sure the ecoweenies will be all over the bearded one! Of course, they won't let out a peep, so why not let him drill the wells and then "Kick the Thug's Ass and Take the Gas"? Maybe we could hire him to drill in Alaska too!

Insurgent, family killed in accidental bomb explosion. Other than misspelling terrorist, it's a heart warming tale:
An insurgent accidentally has killed himself and four members of his family in Iraq's southern city of Karbala.

Police say a bomb he was making exploded inside his house.
Gosh, too bad.

Unnatural Disasters

Seismologists have discovered the real cause of the horrific tsunamis that hit Indonesia and nearby countries on Christmas Day:

But not to worry, the United Nations is on the case - UN Warns of Possible Epidemics in Quake-Hit Asia:
The United Nations warned on Monday of epidemics within days unless health systems in southern Asia can cope after more than 15,500 people were killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless by a giant tsunami.
As James Taranto frequently observes, what would we do without experts? Particularly UN experts. Hmm, I wonder how long before one of the usual suspects opines that some part of the disaster is all the fault of George Bush and those intolerant Red Staters? Maybe we could have a pool?

Meanwhile in outer space, Asteroid With Chance of Hitting Earth in 2029 Now Being Watched 'Very Carefully':
Update, Dec. 25, 9:47 p.m. ET: The risk of an impact by asteroid 2004 MN4 went up slightly on Saturday, Dec. 25. It is now pegged at having a 1-in -45 chance of striking the planet on April 13, 2029. That's up from 1-in-63 late on Dec. 24, and 1-in-300 early on Dec. 24.
Gosh, maybe we should put the United Nations in charge of preparations! First, a special assessment on the developed nations and then a series of conferences at world resort spots (skipping Indonesia, of course). Actually,
Astronomers still stress that it is very likely the risk will be reduced to zero with further observations. And even as it stands with present knowledge, the chances are 97.8 percent the rock will miss Earth.
but we would want the UN to be prepared, wouldn't we?

Some folks should have received lumps of coal

Bloviating Thomas L. Friedman

The Times' Terrible Tommy Friedman got caught with his pants on fire again!

And then one of the crack UN investigators working the United Nations "Oil-for-Food" scandal picked Christmas Day to break the news that
The U.N.-ordered probe into oil-for-food corruption is being seriously hampered by an elaborate system of ghost firms set up around the world to cover the tracks of bribes to Saddam Hussein as he cheated the $60 billion program...
I'm sure shocked, aren't you?