Monday, January 10, 2005

I always enjoy a good wingnut, don't you?

Hiding from the facts of the modern world
On Palestinian Authority TV, according to MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris asked Allah in a Friday sermon to have mercy on "all the Muslims who died" in the tsunami. Which means everyone else is on his own.
That was real warm of him!
Next, the sheik railed against the disaster's cause, which was neither earth, skies nor anything divine in between. It seems it all had to do with "the oppression and corruption caused by America and the Jews" -- naturally. General corruption in Bangkok worked its way into the homily as well, but mainly as the sordid site of "Zionist and American investments." The question for his flock was: "Do you want the sea to lower its waves in the face of this corruption that it sees with its own eyes?" "No," he replied, "the zero hour has come." Too bad his handlers haven't.
Indeed, but for prime wingnuttery, check out Kachan Gupta's report from India - Party time for the UN
The Communist Party of India-Marxist, in the latest issue of its weekly publication, People's Democracy, has darkly hinted that Black Sunday was god's retribution for the people voting the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance Government to power in two successive elections and keeping it in office for six years.

Islamist web sites across the Net are belligerently accusing the United States of America for the terrible disaster and the loss of more than 150,000 lives, two-thirds of them Muslims inhabitants of coastal Aceh, Indonesia. The same loonies had claimed that the USA and Israel were behind the 9/11 terror attacks. For good measure, the Islamists have added that as on 9/11, Jews were forewarned by the USA on 12/26, too.

True blue loonies aver that they spotted UFOs shortly before the Indian Ocean rose in mad fury. According to them, 'aliens, trying to correct Earth's wobbly rotation,' stepped on the wrong tectonic plate. And, boom! Others have described the disaster as divine finger wagging for the current travails and tribulation of the Shankaracharya of Kanchi.
The last reference is local color, but you get the idea. But now we are coming to the good stuff:
Meanwhile, the real life, high political drama over dispensing aid to the tsunami-hit countries reached its expected denouement in Jakarta on Thursday, January 6, with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan having his way yet once again. He and the UN now preside over a vast fortune of aid money, totalling more than $4 billion -- of which $3.7 billion have been pledged by governments around the world and $630 million by private groups and individuals.
It's a pity that the US caved in rather than stand up to a sulking Kofi Annan and his petulant fellow travellers in Europe who have been busy kicking up a storm this past week against the nascent 'core group.'
Iraq is not the only place where the UN has covered itself with less than glory in disbursing and managing aid. We have seen millions of dollars squandered or siphoned off in Angola, Somalia and Cambodia. In Kenya, UNICEF botched a project worth millions of dollars.

At the height of the infamous famine in Ethiopia during the 1980s, the UN spent $ 75 million in building and upgrading apartment complexes for its administrators and staff as food rotted in the docks due to lack of transport. In East Timor, $50 million of aid money, administered by the UN, has been reportedly used for building hotels and malls instead of schools and health centres.

As much as 70 per cent -- and that is a conservative estimate -- of the UN's operational costs goes towards staff salaries, inflated bills, first class air travel, fancy cars, fancier accommodation, often in five-star hotels, huge allowances and other pecuniary benefits. Half the UN's workforce, whether at headquarters spinning red tape or in the field administering aid, former Secretary General Boutros-Ghali famously told The Washington Post, 'does nothing.' But everybody has his or her snout in the trough.

A pioneering study on how the UN operates while administering aid provides a revealing insight: In a particular year, the 'Executive Board of the (UN) Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation received $1,759,584 for travel and lodging. During the same time it spent $49,000 on education for handicapped children in Africa, and $1,000 to train teachers in Honduras.'

All this, of course, is necessary to disburse and administer aid.
Think of it as a "handling" fee. I do.
After a rather bleak 2004 when the UN found itself squeezed out of Iraq and the lucrative multi-billion-dollar 'oil for food' programme, and scandal after scandal of financial malfeasance and worse surfaced, painting the world organisation, to quote a particularly colourful though apt description, as a 'miasma of corruption beset by inefficiency,' a 'Kafkaesque bureaucracy' that deliberately obfuscates the truth and maintains a conspiracy of silence, it is party time for Kofi Annan and his aid administrators.
It's Kofi and the Kleptocrats in "Party Hearty!" Be there or be square.