Saturday, April 30, 2005

I know what it is but I sure as hell don't know why it is

John Bolton, most annoying man alive

Oh my God, it's hard to believe some of the things Bolton has done:
John R. Bolton, the embattled nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, regularly tried to set up meetings abroad with Russian, British and French officials without notifying the U.S. Embassy or the State Department, the outgoing head of the department's European bureau said Friday.

On each occasion, Bolton ultimately received permission to hold the meetings before they actually were conducted because State Department officials found out about his plans, A. Elizabeth Jones, assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Yes, that's right, all of the meetings were ultimately approved. A. Elizabeth Jones is just upset Bolton didn't ask permission first. Boo hoo.

Amazingly clever T-shirt slogans

Democratic Underground recently held a T-shirt slogan contest. Here's one of the winners:
For quality T-shirt slogans try Bastards Inc.

New side-bar poll

Multiple picks. Have a go.

ABC: US forces have itchy trigger fingers

Or so hints the ABC's John Shovelan:
For a month, Italian and American investigators had worked together on the inquiry.

But right from the start, the testimony from the two Italian survivors of the shooting contradicted the US military's version.

The Americans maintain that soldiers fired warning shots in the air, then shot at the engine block because the car was speeding.

But a network television reconstruction of the incident based on satellite imagery claimed US troops opened fire three seconds after the car appeared.

The rescued hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena, and another agent who was driving the car, insist they weren't speeding. But the statement today indicated that neither side was willing to accept any fault in the death of the Italian agent.
This clearly implies that US forces, in firing only three seconds after the car came into view, fired too quickly. It's a case of shoot first, ask questions later.

The ABC report fails to mention that the "network television reconstruction of the incident based on satellite imagery" referred to above calculated the speed of the Sgrena car at over 60 miles per hour:
A US satellite reportedly recorded a checkpoint shooting in Iraq last month, enabling investigators to reconstruct how fast a car carrying a top Italian intelligence official and a freed hostage was traveling when US troops opened fire.

The report, which aired Thursday on CBS News, said US investigators concluded from the recording that the car was traveling at a speed of more than 60 miles (96 km) per hour.

Giuliana Sgrena has said the car was traveling at a normal speed of about 30 miles an hour when the soldiers opened fired, wounding her and killing Nicola Calipari, the Italian agent who had just secured her release from a month's captivity.

US soldiers said at the time of the March 4 incident that the car approached at a high rate of speed and that they fired only after it failed to respond to hand signals, flashing bright lights and warning shots.
The high rate of speed of the approaching car explains why it took only three seconds for the US forces manning the road block to open fire. Why doesn't our ABC tell us this?

Friday, April 29, 2005

French film legend attacks Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 9/11

Jean-Luc Godard speaks out:
He is brutally dismissive of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and of the spate of other recent films attacking globalisation, warmongering and US cultural imperialism. "They say they are attacking Bush, but they are not doing it in movie terms, but in words." He calls Moore (in his idiosyncratic English) "just a Hollywood reporter man"... He even suggests that Moore's work may actually have helped Bush. "It's not enough to be against Adolf Hitler. If you make a disastrous movie, you're not against Adolf Hitler."
Moore's the Leni Riefenstahl of today, without the looks or talent.

Crusaders, the RWDBs of the Middle Ages

Here's Ridley Scott's view of the opposing sides in the Crusades as portrayed in his soon-to-be-released film, Kingdom of Heaven:
I felt it was important to use Muslim actors to play Muslim characters. You see Saladin in private moments; you see his leadership, how he tries to keep the peace. He was under pressure from his people, and on the other side there was the radical faction of the Templars and other knights - what we might call the right wing or Christian fundamentalists of their day. He is a man with a strong sense of his destiny.
Sounds like the old good versus evil theme to me. It is surprising that Scott didn't manage to work "neo-conservative" in somewhere.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Atomic weapons linked to blood leakage

Under the headline OUT OF PAST, ATOMIC FEARS HAUNT PRESENT there's this:
Chizumi Watabe was born eight years after the nuclear blasts that leveled the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II, but the bombs continue to affect her life.

Her oldest son, for example, used to get nosebleeds all of the time, and it worried her.
Nosebleeds, nothing worse than that? Not in this article.

International Respect for Chickens Day

Get involved:
Show the world that chickens are people too!
It's May 4th, don't forget to mark your calendar.

Brought to you by United Poultry Concerns.

On a related – not really – topic, how many people are aware of automated chicken catching machines?

Ben & Jerry's Climate Change College

The goal seems to be to make already annoying environmentalists even more annoying:
It's a three-year initiative that will offer six people between the ages of 18 and 25 in the UK and the Netherlands the chance to learn about climate change through workshops, internships and a visit to the polar region.

Jerry hopes they will then use that training, and the resources of the WWF and Ben & Jerry's, to create campaigns raising awareness about the dangers of climate change. "Remember these words from two old ice cream guys: if it's melted, it's ruined," is the college's founding joke.

McDonalds has a univeristy, why not Ben and Jerry's?

By the way, Ben and Jerry's is owned by corporate behemoth Unilever.

Shock finding: nuclear "bunker busters" dangerous

Like this isn't obvious to damn near everyone on the planet with an IQ over 70:
Nuclear “bunker busters” could destroy enemy hideouts hundreds of metres underground but, if the target is in an urban area, a strike could lead to more than a million civilian deaths, warns a report from the US National Research Council (NRC) issued on Wednesday.

"Using an earth-penetrating weapon to destroy a target 250 meters deep - the typical depth for most underground facilities - potentially could kill a devastatingly large number of people," said John Ahearne, chair of the report committee.
Why would a target for a nuclear "bunker buster" be located under a large number of human shields, err, people?

Jews add to DeLay hysteria

Time has exposed another of Tom DeLay's many indiscretions, he once smoked a Cuban Cigar given to him by a Jew:
DeLay has long been one of Congress' most vocal critics of what he calls Castro's "thugocracy," which is why some sharp-eyed TIME readers were surprised last week to see a photo of the Majority Leader smoking one of Cuba's best—a Hoyo de Monterrey double corona... The cigar's label clearly states that it was made in "Habana." The photo was taken in Jerusalem on July 28, 2003, during a meeting between DeLay and the Republican Jewish Coalition at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
See, the Jews are trouble and they do control the foreign policy of the United States and all.

The article then goes completely off the rails:
DeLay's smoke may have run afoul of his principles, but it did not violate U.S. regulations at the time. However, it would now. Last September, the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control tightened its prohibitions against U.S. citizens importing or consuming Cuban cigars... The regulation also noted that Americans are barred not only from purchasing Cuban goods in foreign countries, but also from consuming them in those countries.
So, DeLay did nothing wrong in accepting a cigar from his host. Anyway, what are the chances Jews spent $25 on a real Hoyo de Monterrey double corona for DeLay? I'm betting counterfeit.

Secret Service not investigating Air America

But maybe it should:
The Air America talk radio network has apologized for joking about shooting President Bush, as part of a segment that called the president a "spoiled child" for proposing Social Security reform.

Broadcast in the opening minutes of "The Randi Rhodes Show" on Monday, the segment featured a spokesman for the fictional "American Association of Armed Retired People" saying: "A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp," followed by the sound of four gunshots.
Liberals calling Bush a spoiled child. Pot... kettle...

EU moves to counter Google virtual library

The French are worried about their language and ideas:
Nineteen European national libraries have joined forces against a planned communications revolution by Internet search giant Google to create a global virtual library.

"Such a move needs a tight coordination of national ambitions at EU level to decide on the selection of works," it added.

The move, organised by France's national library, comes after Michigan University and four other top libraries - Harvard, Stanford, New York Public Library and the Bodleian in Oxford - announced in December a deal with Google to digitise millions of their books and make them freely available online.

Google's plans have rattled the cultural establishment in Paris, raising fears that French language and ideas could be just sidelined on the worldwide web, already dominated by English.
When did any Frenchman last have an idea that wasn't in some way anti-American?

Australia's ugliest icon

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Shocking new Bolton revelation

Some of Bolton's former subordinates have a high opinion of him. Former assistant attorney general and fomer Bolton deputy Thomas M. Boyd thinks Bolton's the man for the UN job:
While it is certainly true that Bolton sometimes breaks china, it is also true that he carefully selects the pattern first.
Boyd then explains how Bolton made the improbable a reality. Read the whole thing.

What's really shocking is that this pro-Bolton article is in the Boston Globe.

Update: Even Maureen Dowd is speaking up for Bolton:
Who doesn't want to see Bolton chasing the Syrian ambassador down the hall, with a flame-thrower?

Who doesn't want to see him machine-gun the Iranian mullahs?

Who doesn't want to see him once more using National Security Agency eavesdropping technology, this time to spy on Kofi and son?

Who doesn't want to see him outrage North Korea by calling Kim Jong Il a fat, maniacal munchkin?
I did edit that a little but it does seem to me she's softening her position, just a little.

UN official shrugs shoulders at news Darfur villages burned

The BBC says the UN is alarmed at news Darfur villages are again being burned. Funny, the quoted UN official doesn't seem alarmed:
"The burning of villages seems to have resumed," Jennifer Pagonis, spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

"This gratuitous act is clearly a message to the former residents not to return home."
I'm alarmed that the UN regards village burning as simply a fact of life in Darfur. With the EU's support, the UN's going to sit back and watch.

Bush didn't choke on pretzel

Oh my gosh, that gay guy Guckert, aka Gannon, spent a lot of time at the white house:
A conservative writer who quit his job covering President Bush amid criticism for his pointedly political questions visited the White House 196 times in two years, the Secret Service has disclosed.
This news has prompted much White House gay sex speculation from the lefties at Democratic Underground:
Who Is FreeperWhore's Boyfriend? I say, Uncle Karl.

So maybe Guckert's the pretzel Bush choked on.

The headline would have to be something like... White House official finds Guckerts dick in their mouth while eating a bowl of chili.

There's a cartoon there...or a great Headline: "Press Secretary finds a Dick in his Mouth while dining in the White House"

A freakin' male prostitute has the run of the house, I don't think he was doing Laura.

There's the twins too!! Or, how about daddy bush? Or, grandma babs herself???

Sound like an awful lot of sperm went somewhere...
Isn't it a bit odd that these gay-friendly lefties are speculating about men having sex? Wouldn't they normally argue that sex between consenting adults is nobody's business but their own? You know, like with Bill and Monica.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Belated Earth Day post

Here's environmental expert Bill Maher:
So, here on Earth Day, let me remind everyone of this: the most vulnerable point of the earth is the atmosphere, which acts like a giant mirror, absorbing 95% of the sun's energy. Now, when I heard that, I said, "Honey, that sounds important!" And I'm not even married. If we don't protect the atmosphere, ultraviolet radiation will fry us like ants under a magnifying glass. I know these kind of facts aren't in the Bible - but maybe - but maybe we should think about them. After all, it could affect Brad and Jen!

It's not a real threat, like an activist judge. But it's kind of important. Because in the last half century, this precious atmosphere of ours has thinned by 40%. And this worries me, because in the exact same time frame, my hair has thinned by 40%. It worked out for me, but the earth may not be so lucky.
Giant mirror? Thinning atmosphere? UV frying us like ants? This guy's hilarious.

Via: daily kos

The case of the disappearing post

Novice blogger Jennifer Marohasy today accused lefty Australian blogger John Quiggin of some sleight of hand with his posts. It seems he deleted a post, replacing it with an "update" with some of the original content omitted. That doesn't sound like our Quiggers.

Ms Marohasy makes several other interesting observations in her post, including one about Quiggin's income. This could get interesting.

Reuters & the BBC, informing totalitarian freaks since 1945

They kept Hitler informed:
With the Soviet army closing in on Berlin and Hitler demanding reports on the fronts, Freytag von Loringhoven quietly began using news bulletins from Reuters and the BBC monitored in the bunker to piece together his briefings and maps.
Any doubt the Islamofascists are fans?

Black redneck culture

In a fascinating article in The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal, researcher Thomas Sowell discusses the factors disadvantaging American Blacks. His conclusion, after 30 years of research, is that Blacks absorbed the broader White redneck culture in which they lived. Unfortunately, Blacks have, with the unwitting "help" of whites, perpetuated that redneck culture:
The redneck culture proved to be a major handicap for both whites and blacks who absorbed it. Today, the last remnants of that culture can still be found in the worst of the black ghettos, whether in the North or the South, for the ghettos of the North were settled by blacks from the South. The counterproductive and self-destructive culture of black rednecks in today's ghettos is regarded by many as the only "authentic" black culture--and, for that reason, something not to be tampered with. Their talk, their attitudes, and their behavior are regarded as sacrosanct.

The people who take this view may think of themselves as friends of blacks. But they are the kinds of friends who can do more harm than enemies.
Anyone wanting to enjoy the advantages of living in America needs to join the mainstream. That includes white redneck remnants like those seen on Springer.

Petrol and benzene into the anuses of others

Lefty Australian blogger Tim Dunlop accepts as fact, the torture allegations of Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes:
"... a guy who was not only locked up in Guantanamo, electric shocked and sodomised by the American guards (amongst other things) but--surprise, surprise--turns out not to be the guy they thought he was."
Deghayes is indeed a clever fellow, having added something new to the list of horrific tortures inflicted on innocent detainees:
Pakistani interrogators put him in a "snake room" with glass cases holding poisonous snakes to make him confess...
Almost sounds like a scene from a Bond movie. But the snakes must not have been scary enough:
At Bagram airbase, Afghanistan, US guards allegedly sodomised five detainees, and forced petrol and benzene into the anuses of others...
It's good to know that the US guards didn't put petrol and benzene into their own anuses, and force detainees to watch – that would have been torture.

In concluding his post Dunlop asks:
"Anyone want to defend this one?"

Dunlop should defend his assumption that Deghayes's allegations are true.

Monday, April 25, 2005

New Yorkers, throw away your raincoats

World's largest prison system

It turns out the land of the free isn't so free after all, or so says Reuters:
The U.S. penal system, the world's largest, maintained its steady growth in 2004, the Department of Justice reported on Sunday.

The latest official half-yearly figures found the nation's prison and jail population at 2,131,180 in the middle of last year, an increase of 2.3 percent over 2003.

The United States has incarcerated 726 people per 100,000 of its population, seven to 10 times as many as most other democracies. The rate for England is 142 per 100,000, for France 91 and for Japan 58.

According to the Justice Department, violent crime in the United States fell by over 33 percent from 1994 to 2003 and property crimes fell by 23 percent.
So, locking up the bad guys is getting results.

In working out that the US has the world's largest prison population I wonder if those doing the calculations considered the prisoners in Cuba? You know, 11 million Cubans.

Update: Accurate figures for the North Korean prison population aren't available. It is known, however, that North Korea has an innovative means of keeping the prison population down: some 20 - 25% of prisoners die each year. Mostly they're not executed or anything nasty like that, they're worked to death, starved, used for weapons' testing or die of exposure, in the name of the people. That's why lefties show no concern.

Celebrity collective blogging

The New York Times says Arianna Huffington's soon to be up and running blog Huffington Post is going to take blogging to a whole new level:
Arianna Huffington, the columnist and onetime candidate for governor of California, is about to move blogging from the realm of the anonymous individual to the realm of the celebrity collective.

She has lined up more than 250 of what she calls "the most creative minds" in the country to write a group blog that will range over topics from politics and entertainment to sports and religion. It is essentially a nonstop virtual talk show that will be part of a Web site that will also serve up breaking news around the clock. It is to be introduced May 9.

Having prominent people join the blogosphere, Ms. Huffington said in an interview, "is an affirmation of its success and will only enrich and strengthen its impact on the national conversation." Among those signed up to contribute are Walter Cronkite, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, Warren Beatty, James Fallows, Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Diane Keaton, Norman Mailer and Mortimer B. Zuckerman.
Now there's a collection of creative minds with pulling power. (Someone needs to come up with a term for a collective of celebrity bloggers. How about an ego?)

Not only will Huffington Post be a group blog – something the NYT seems to think is unusual – it will offer the innovation of ... wait for it ... comments. The national security section will be managed by security expert, former Colorado Senator Gary Hart. A couple of token conservatives have even been lined up.

Will Huffington Post succeed? Well, one thing Huffington and her financial backers have going in their favour, the bloggers will be unpaid.

The coming fall of Europe

It continues to look like French voters will reject the EU constitution. It's time for some heavy-duty scare-mongering:
Former European Commission president Romano Prodi has warned that a French No to the European Constitution would mean the "fall of Europe".

In an interview with French newspaper Journal du Dimanche (24 May), Mr Prodi said that a French rejection of the document on 29 May would result in "no more Europe".

"We will go through a great period of crisis. The problem will not only be a catastrophe for France, but the fall of Europe.

"A No would be catastrophic for Europe, from a social and economic point of view, not only political. And that is the whole contradiction: everybody knows very well that there is no Europe without France, yet France does not realise the chance it has with Europe. She should reflect on that because an isolated France would be very weak".
France needs Europe a hell of a lot more than Europe needs France.


April 25 is ANZAC Day, originally established to commemorate Australia’s entry into combat in World War I, it has become Australia’s national day. It is indicative of Australia’s national character that ANZAC Day celebrates not a great military victory but the start of a tragically costly military adventure: of the 60,000 Australians killed during the “Great War”, some 8,000 were killed during the eight month Gallipoli campaign.

ANZAC Day is for remembering all of the brave men who have served their country over the years. These mostly young men did not see themselves as conquerors. They did not seek to rape, pillage and murder. They simply wanted to do the “right thing”, to serve their country in a time of need.

These young men put the interests of their country ahead of personal interests. They served in far off lands, often in atrocious conditions yet with typical Australian good humour and flair. Brothers, fathers and sons left loved ones behind and went to do what had to be done. Many of them were horribly wounded, living the rest of their days in hospital. Many of them died. All of them deserve our respect.

Update: In keeping with the spirit of the day I had intended to keep away from partisan politics. Some dickheads just can't resist the temptation:

“We ask you all to stand in silence for one minute, in memory of those who fought for freedom and democracy in the First World War”. Well, no one fought for those things in WWI. I kept walking, ignoring the dirty looks.
In short, not only were 10,000 lives lost in a pointless battle at Gallipolli ... the whole gig and all its subsequent meanings and celebrations are crucial to the creation of the conservative and make-up of Australia.

ANZAC Day? Bah! I’ll enjoy the holiday.
Just a couple of caring sharing lefties.

Bono, foolish ass pain

Here's Bono talking about The End of Poverty by Jeffrey D Sachs:
"And we are fools if we do not see the link between terrorism and poverty. Poor nations easily become breeding grounds for terrorists."
In fact, the poor are unlikely to become terrorists. Bono's a fool.

Here's Bono at Canada's Liberal Party 2003 conference:
"I'm going to be the biggest pain in the ass."
He has my vote.

Bono should shut the fuck up, go home and never emerge in public again, ever. Oh yeah, no more singing either.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bolton ordered murder of third world babies

Over the weekend, Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer of California distributed copies of a letter by Utah woman Lynne D Finney accusing UN ambassador nominee John Bolton of ordering her to kill hundreds of third world babies in the early 1980s, or something like that. Naturally, Finney refused to carry out Bolton's odious order. A huge row ensued, with Bolton ultimately challenging Finney to a duel. In the end, nothing came of it – his seconds apparently talked Bolton out of it – and he had to settle for firing Finney, who ended up destitute and homeless.

Apparently some of the above is exaggerated. As it turns out Ms Finney is a "therapist". In the excerpt that follows, Lynne D Finney describes herself:
Lynne is an award-winning author, educator, life coach, motivational speaker, lawyer and retired psychotherapist who specializes in helping people live more fulfilling lives. She was born into the madhouse of Hollywood's fantasy factory. Her mother was an artist and her father an award-winning screenwriter and novelist. She and her parents were portrayed in magazines as "the perfect family", but behind this facade was a nightmare world of violence and sexual abuse that lasted from the time Lynne was born until she was eight years old. Lynne had four near-death experiences that profoundly impacted her life.
Finney was appointed something or other by Jimmy Carter. There's also this:
During her recovery process, Lynne began to have spiritual experiences that opened her to new perceptions of reality. She studied the scriptures of many religions, explored the teachings of spiritual masters, and emerged from a world she perceived as hell into a world of miracles. She now works to help others out of suffering, into their true power, and to realization of their true Selves.
Yes, I'm certain Ms Finney's perception of reality is ... her own. She also has books – one has been printed in Chinese! – and a CD she'd like you to buy.

Read the whole thing, it's very funny, as only a new age, enlightened lefty can be. Lynne D Finney is a con artist and Barbara Boxer's a fool; they're the perfect match.

Exploding toads linked to Global Warming

Strange things are happening in Europe:
Hundreds of toads have met an unexplained, explosive demise in Germany in recent days, it was reported on Saturday.

According to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians as many as a thousand of the amphibians have perished after their bodies swelled to bursting point and their entrails were propelled for up to a metre.

It is like "a science fiction film", according to Werner Smolnik of a nature protection society in the northern city of Hamburg, where the phenomenon of the exploding toad has been observed.

"You see the animals crawling on the ground, swelling and then exploding," he said.
There's no mention of Global Warming in the article, I just threw that in to beat the loonies to the punch, so to speak.

A similar scenario has been playing out in the US for years; Michael Moore will explode, eventually.

Turkey bans haka at Gallipoli

The Kiwi reaction to this will be interesting:
Turkish authorities have banned the traditional Maori haka war dance from ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the ill-fated World War I Gallipoli battle, deeming it "obscene", local media reported.

The daily Aksam reported that Ankara "pleaded" with officials in New Zealand not to send Maori haka dancers to the Gallipoli Peninsula in north-western Turkey, where the ill-fated battle occurred in 1915.

In past years, the haka was performed at official events, including at the presidential palace in Ankara.
There seems to be a bit of a clash of cultures here. Shouldn't New Zealanders be allowed to commemorate their war dead in a way they deem appropriate?

Update: The Gallipoli haka ban situation is somewhat confused:
New Zealanders attending Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli are being urged not to perform the haka because the actions may be culturally offensive to the Turks.

Wing Commander Tim Walshe from the New Zealand Air Force, who has been helping coordinate the 90th anniversary commemorations in Gallipoli, says there is some sensitivity associated with the haka.

But he says there was never any intention to make it part of the official performances. However, he says in the past New Zealanders watching the ceremonies have performed spontaneous hakas.

Walshe says there was no specific request from the Turkish authorities for the haka not to be performed. There are reports the Turkish authorities consider some of the gestures in the haka to be pornographic.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says the haka should have been incorporated as an official part of commemorations.

Sharples says Maori battalions in the two World Wars performed the haka in the trenches and is seen as an integral part of their identity.
Pornographic gestures?

US detains helicopter shooting suspects

It'll be great if this proves correct:
The U.S. military said Saturday it had detained six men suspected of shooting down a Russian-made helicopter carrying 11 civilians — including six Americans — north of Baghdad two days earlier.

An Iraqi civilian helped U.S. soldiers in Task Force Baghdad locate the suspects, who were apprehended at two houses Saturday afternoon, the military said in a statement. The military did not identify the suspects or specify where they were captured.
A slow painful death seems to be in order.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Katy Fernandez for remedial English

Katy Fernandez wants to be elected to the Sydney University Union Board.

Katy has a new campaign blog.

Katy can't write for shit:
Currently the Union board president is elected by and from the Board of directors.A directly elected Union president, i.e one which is elected by us its members would ensure a more democratic union.

The status quo is that the union President is elected by the 11 student board members and two senate representatives who comprise the union board. The current system denies students voice. It can and must be made more inclusive.

Students be able to have a say in who is the leader of this organisation, the public face and prime decision maker of our union... after all its our union, we pay the money and it should be in our hands.
Maybe it's the mull and text messages.

Update: Okay, I'm a prick for picking on a young lady motivated enough to get involved in Sydney University politics. Katy should be praised for having a go. That said, Katy's blogging makes her seem none too bright. Take the start of her latest post as an example:
Hello lovlies,
Generally it takes alot to annoy me. However, uninformed statements such as those extracted above from the comments log in this blog fulfill that high threashold. Let me exaplin why.

Student Organisations proivde essential services. They provide benefits which are not limited to subsidised food . In the case of the University of Sydney Union provides the majority of the funding for the most wide-ranging programs of clubs and societies in Australia. In this way -it is the source of that intangible so often referrred to as campus life.
There are nine more paragraphs if you'd care to read them. If you can't be bothered, take my word on it, Katy needs to lift her game.

Katy concludes her post, in which she argues for continued compulsory student union membership, with this:
Students must retain the capacity to control their own affairs beacause creative, critical, active political student organisations greatly improve the univesity experience.
You're 100 percent right Katy, students should be in control their of own affairs, including their personal finances: let students decide if they want to contribute to a student union. But then, Katy's a lefty ...

The cradle of war

Not surprisingly, the Middle East, site of the world's first agricultural settlements, is also the birthplace of war. (If you're tempted to click on the link, be advised it leads to a long and rather dry, but interesting, article in Military History Quarterly.)

Salma Hayek gets excited

Mexican bombshell Salma Hayek, visiting the arctic to help Inuits protest Global Warming, had this to say about the frozen surface of Frobisher Bay on which she was standing at the time:
"Hello everybody! This is the most exciting place I've ever been in my life."
Either Salma doesn't get around as much as she should or she's a bloody liar.

Update: Salma's excitement probably resulted from her role in creating the "image with a message" noted in the article. While it was a nice image, it isn't in the same league with this anonymously created naked Australian. (A higher quality Marree Man image is here.)

Update: A more explosive – literally – environment story is here.

Update II: For a revealing look at one of Bolton's accusers, go here. Yeah, I know it's off topic.

The old exploding briefcase gag

French PM supports EU arms for China

French Prime Minister Raffarin strongly supports lifting the EU arms embargo placed on China after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre:
"France continues to ask for a lifting of the embargo, and does not see what could lead the European Council [the member states] to change position on that question."
Immediately after making the statement above, Raffarin and his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, attended a ceremony in which both had an interest:
Both Prime Ministers attended a ceremony inking a 2.4 billion euro deal for 30 Airbus aircraft after the meeting.
Money talks.

Australia's soldiers: hunters, trappers and slaughterers of humans

In honour of Anzac Day, cartoonist/philosopher Michael Leunig offers the following salute to those who have fought, and those who have died, for Australia (edited for brevity):
We live in a national culture that glamorises soldiers, yet the sight of a military uniform with its obvious connotations of morbidity and violence provokes in me the question: "What sort of person is attracted to the killing professions?"

"What sort of person volunteers to devote their life to the skills of destruction and the business of hunting, trapping and slaughtering humans?"

Anzac Day brings this question strongly to mind because I am asked each year to remember the soldiers who fought and to spare a thought for them, which I always do, but that's where the trouble starts because before too long questions arise and I try to imagine what sort of men would volunteer to invade a far-off land and perpetrate such murderous violence against its inhabitants ... Inevitably I then start to think and wonder about the forgotten men who on conscience and principle refused to take part in this monumental violence (where is their monument?), which then leads to a yearning for an Australia that would honour and remember the most horrible and sad truth of all: the civilian victims of war. In the grisly light of the fact that Australian soldiers so recently took part in the invasion of Iraq, which involved the killing of more than 100,000 civilians, and lost not one soldier in the process, it feels somehow obscene, bizarre and shameful to be commemorating, yet again, Australia's part in the invasion of Turkey in 1915. More than ever it feels to me that soldiers have been honoured more than enough and civilian victims have been honoured far too little. In the commemoration of war, as in war itself, civilians don't ultimately matter. The failure to prioritise the remembrance of civilian victims is a reinforcement of the military right to abuse or obliterate them with impunity in times of war.
Obviously Leunig would feel a lot better if Australia had suffered casualties, and lots of them, in Iraq. There's also the little matter of the dubious 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed figure. And then there are Australia's inncocent civilian casualties to be considered:
We now know of, and can statistically track, the Vietnam Morbidity Syndrome, a mysterious psychological condition that has seriously plagued children of Vietnam veterans and which indeed may have dire consequences for grandchildren and beyond. And even more surreptitious are the myriad ghosts of war, which return from the battles, banalities and atrocities and attach themselves to the civil situation, entering destructively into the living culture of the nation. This inevitable, postwar militarist invasion of the homeland demands much reparation and imposes hugely on civil society, domestic life and the new generation. Grim authoritarianism, paranoia, guilt, fundamentalism, hostility, bitter or brutal outlooks and a difficulty with Eros, beauty and the feminine are all aftermath qualities that insinuate or assert themselves into family and institutional life with profound consequences. The remnant tones and gestures of war become normalised and the character of society is rewired. The violent, frightened mentality and fetishism of war, the domineering impulse, and the addiction to the "evil other" forever corrupt, disfigure and limit the societies that wage and prosecute the violent solution. A nation may win a war but its people can't get away with it.
In short, Australia is plenty fucked-up. Why? Because we're militaristic. So, let's all get together - those who would kill us included - for a picnic and a group hug. Everything's going to be just fine if we think positive thoughts. Really.

Do yourself a favour, don't bother reading the whole thing.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Cuba: good news and bad news

The good news: Castro more than doubles the minimum wage to 225 pesos a Month.

The bad news: the latest available car costs 800,000 pesos.

The really bad news, if you can afford a car: this is a Cuban freeway.

IMF Europe advice panics Australian economist

The following bit of malicious scare-mongering is bound to send lefty Australian economist John Quiggin into a panic:
Europe needs to focus on bringing young people, people over 50 years old and women into the workforce, the IMF’s deputy director of research, David Robinson, said at the Brussels Economic Forum.

"The key to progress is at the national level," Mr Robinson said.

With fewer working hours due to shorter workweeks combined with more holiday time in comparison with US workers, some of the reasons why Europeans have only 70 per cent GDP per capita versus the US are clear.
I think Mr Robinson is trying to diplomatically say that more Europeans need to be working rather than drawing some sort of government benefit and those that do work need to work harder, if the EU hopes to catch up with the US, that is.

Really Quiggers, there's no reason to be scared, all Europe need do is make a slight turn to the right. Quiggers ... you can come out from behind the couch, it's safe.

Elites cause defeats

Mike Gecan isn't a Bush supporter but he knows why the Democratic Party has lost its appeal:
On the most basic level, the contempt of the progressive elite for ordinary people—for their faiths, their speech patterns, their clothes, their hobbies, their hopes, and their aspirations—has driven scores of millions of Americans out of the Democratic Party and into either the Republican Party or a no man’s land between the two. The willingness of many Republicans to simply show respect for the habits and interests of these mixed and moderate Americans has paid growing political dividends. The Republicans have understood that communicating respect is more important than offering programs or incentives. The Democrats have failed to realize that multiplying programs or policies designed to meet people’s needs is doomed to fail unless and until those people sense a fundamental level of recognition of who they are, not just what they need.
Read the whole thing.

Mr Gecan should know what he's talking about, he's been an organizer for the Industrial Areas Foundation for over 25 years. That makes it virtually certain the Democrats will ignore what he has to say.

Via: Adam Barnes


Kofi Annan's in Indonesia spouting off about the soon to be – he hopes – "new and improved" rebranded UN:
In all areas of its work, from human rights, to tackling poverty, hunger and conflict, the United Nations was not delivering, he said.

"The multilateral system is not delivering or its member states the results that it should," Annan told foreign ministers and officials from 100 African and Asian countries gathered in Jakarta.

The secretary general, who released last month a 63-page report proposing the most wide-ranging shake-up of the U.N. since its creation in 1945, is in the Indonesian capital for an Asia-Africa summit on Friday and Saturday.

"We seem to have lost consensus on basic principles about what constitutes a threat to peace and security, about when the use of force is legitimate and about who should authorize it," Annan said.
The UN isn't delivering? I wonder if anyone in the Sudan has noticed?

Apparently the UN isn't about to deliver in the Sudan because the Europeans are wimping out. Here's Lateline's Tony Jones to explain:
The European Union has withdrawn a resolution condemning Sudan at the UN Human Rights Commission. The EU had planned to attack the Sudanese government over the crisis in Darfur, but has now agreed to express deep concern for the ongoing human rights violations in the western Sudanese region. The diplomatic victory for Sudan's government comes amidst new charges the cease-fire in Darfur is a sham. The strongest allegations come from a former US marine who spent six months in Darfur as a cease-fire observer.

To paint a picture of the situation in Darfur, Toney Jones interviews former cease-fire monitor Brian Steidle:
TONY JONES: Can we start by getting you to tell us what your role was in Darfur, what you did during your six months there?

BRIAN STEIDLE: Well, I was there as a US representative to the African Union - an African Union monitor, monitoring the cease-fire in Darfur. I was there for six months. We were there, like I said, to monitor the cease-fire, yet we weren't able to stop any of the fighting. We were there to observe what was happening and then to make our reports and take our pictures.

TONY JONES: Can you describe for us some of the truly dreadful things that you saw there?

BRIAN STEIDLE: When we were there in Darfur, we would see things - villages up to 20,000 had been burnt down to the ground. We would see scores of women and children that had been killed, evidence of torture - people had their ears cut off, their eyes plucked out, men who had been castrated and left to bleed on the fields when they ran from the villages. That was an everyday occurrence.

TONY JONES: You also have written about walking through a field of bones. Could you tell us about that?

BRIAN STEIDLE: Yes, outside the village of Adwah there was a bone field. It was probably about 50m by 50m and you couldn't walk around without stepping on human bones. We don't really know how many people were killed there, but they apparently had been taken from one of the village by the Janjaweed and executed and left there to rot.

TONY JONES: In all these cases, are you talking about atrocities committed by the Janjaweed militia or the government itself?

BRIAN STEIDLE: Absolutely. That's what we saw the majority of the time and there were a few attacks that occurred by the rebels, but probably say 95 per cent of the attacks, maybe even more – 99 per cent - were from the government of Sudan. It was the government of Sudan working in conjunction with the Arab militias using their helicopter gun ships and their Antonovs to bomb and terrorise the people.

TONY JONES: So would you say the key role of a cease-fire monitor is effectively to stop the Sudanese government slaughtering its own people?

BRIAN STEIDLE: No, no, that's not their mission at all. They don't have a mandate to do that, nor is that their mission. They're there to simply report on the cease-fire.

TONY JONES: Let's get some more detail, if we can. Last December, you witnessed a joint government-militia attack on the village of Labado Can you tell us what happened there?

BRIAN STEIDLE: Yes. During that attack, we arrived when the helicopter gunships were still flying over and they were firing on the village. The village was burning. We arrived there and the government of Sudan had just recently attacked with around 3,000 troops and about 1,500 Janjaweed Arab militias that were with them.

TONY JONES: You're saying these helicopter gunships were actually strafing the village. What sort of damage was done? How many people were killed?

BRIAN STEIDLE: The village was a village of 20,000 people, and the entire village was on fire. Everything was burning. It took them more than a week to burn the entire village all the way down to the ground, but they did successfully do that.

TONY JONES: So the operation actually began with helicopter gunships coming in, strafing the village, and then they brought in the Janjaweed militia, is that right?

BRIAN STEIDLE: Yes, that's correct.

TONY JONES: Was this typical in your experience of the type of attack that you witnessed, the government working alongside the militia?

BRIAN STEIDLE: Yes, that's exactly what happened the majority of the times. The helicopter gunships would come in, strafe the village, the Antonovs would bomb and then the government and Janjaweed Arab militias would arrive and attack the village, killing scores of people and begin the burning process.

TONY JONES: Did you see the aftermath of that attack on the village of Labado?

BRIAN STEIDLE: Yes, it took us about three or four days to convince the government of Sudan to allow us to enter the village. But, yes, we saw it first-hand from the helicopters, as I mentioned before, and when we got on the ground - you know, the burned villages, the looting that was being performed right in front of us by the Arab militias and the government of Sudan.

TONY JONES: What exactly did you see the Janjaweed militia doing in that village?

BRIAN STEIDLE: They were looting and burning the village directly in front of us. They were taking stuff out of the huts and then setting the huts on fire.
Read the rest of the interview. There's no way the UN is going to intervene, there's no money to be made.

Here's Brian Steidle's conclusion to an earlier article he wrote for The Independent:
The women and children are the ones who take the brunt in a conflict like this. Hopefully we'll be able to visit some of the camps for displaced people in Chad and Kenya. I can never go back to Sudan.
Steidle went to Sudan and can't bear to go back. The UN refuses to go there in the first place. Useless. Fucking useless.

Aussie poo paper

No, it's not toilet paper, it's environmentally friendly stationery made from roo poo.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

30 year delay spit-back reaction

It's not very nice but I must admit the mental picture made me smile:
A man who said he was a Vietnam veteran spat tobacco juice in Jane Fonda's face at a Kansas City book signing, calling her a traitor for a trip she made to Hanoi in 1972, police said on Wednesday.

The man, 54-year-old Michael Smith, waited in line for about 90 minutes before spitting a "large amount" of tobacco juice into Fonda's face, according to Kansas City police.

In an interview with the Kansas City Star, Smith said Fonda was a "traitor" who had been spitting in the faces of war veterans for years.

"There are a lot of veterans who would love to do what I did," the Star quoted Smith as saying.
Smith must have been highly motivated, he had 90 minutes queued up to change his mind. Sort of one-ups the old pie in the face gag, don't it?

Fools and their money ...

Read the following excerpt and see if you can guess the consumer item being discussed in the article:
And niche, as John Seely Brown, a marketing expert who is a visiting scholar at the Annenberg Center at the University of Southern California, recently prophesied, is the future of consumer marketing.

Both the surfeit and the numbing sameness of goods on the market have conspired to produce a nascent cult of connoisseurship, experts like Mr. Brown say. In this new marketing sphere, even ordinary objects can be told apart by consumers whose extreme discernment becomes a subtle way of signaling status. Like Luis Buñuel's Tristana, Mr. Brown's new niche consumer can see three peas on a plate and know instantly which is the best.

"Every consumer decision now carries with it class and status implications in a way it didn't used to," said Barry Schwartz, the author of "The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less" (Ecco Books, 2005). "As you add dimensions to goods, you add ways in which people can distinguish themselves." Thus is created a perpetual chase after status and cool.

"You can never relax," Mr. Schwartz said.
Exotic foods? Jewellery? Kick-arse cars? Not even close. Here's a clue, the most sought after of these come from Japan.

Give up? It's Evisu, of course, and a bargain at US$625 they are.

If I could understand words like "surfeit", "nascent" and "connoisseurship" I might be smart enough to earn the kind of money needed to be able to afford such goodies. Evisu sells almost exclusively to more-money-than-sense, daddy-doesn't-love-me-he-just-gives-me-money liberals, wouldn't you think?

Extra weight is good for you, really

Great news from The New York Times:
People who are overweight but not obese have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight, federal researchers are reporting today.

The researchers - statisticians and epidemiologists from the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - also found that increased risk of death from obesity was seen for the most part in the extremely obese, a group constituting only 8 percent of Americans.
So much for the "common knowledge" that being overweight kills. Now, if only researchers would conclude that smoking like a fiend isn't going to kill me.

Update: There more on this, including a "Fair and Balanced" take from Fox News, here.

Swastika? What's a swastika?

A New South Wales family was recently asked by the local council to remove a Nazi flag flying in their yard. The family's response:
The council's director of health and development, Bob Butt, says the family indicated they were unaware of the significance of the swastika symbol and he doubts there was any malicious intent.
How's that for a public admission of idiocy?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sanity check

Ever get the feeling you're, you know, not quite right in the head? Well, when I'm feeling like that I always go here to reaffirm my sanity.

Make sure you say "Hi" while you're there – you'll almost certainly be told to "fuck off" but your gesture will be appreciated, really it will.

Iraq civilian body count exposed

Well, sort of. It seems recently killed humanitarian worker Marla Ruzicka stumbled onto a body count of sorts:
... in an essay Ms Ruzicka wrote a week before her death on Saturday and published yesterday, the 28-year-old revealed that a Brigadier General told her it was "standard operating procedure" for US troops to file a report when they shoot a non-combatant.

She obtained figures for the number of civilians killed in Baghdad between 28 February and 5 April, and discovered that 29 had been killed in firefights involving US forces and insurgents. This was four times the number of Iraqi police killed.
Effectively this means approximately one civilian death per day in Baghdad, on average. Even if we increase that to twenty per day for the whole of Iraq, it would take over 13 years to get the 100,000 deaths reported in the much discussed Lancet study.

Obviously the Yanks aren't dealing out enough death. Pussies.

Update: I was going to send the link to this article to Tim Lambert – he who has 50 posts on the Lancet study – but I don't want to be responsible for Ruzicka's figures causing his brain to blow a gasket.

New pope has "fearsome reputation"

Or so says the sidebar link at the BBC's homepage. The article, however, does not elaborate on how Ratzinger earned his reputation but does contain this little gem of understatement:
He has a reputation for stifling dissent, and one of his early campaigns was against "liberation theology" in Latin America.

Some priests became involved in fighting poverty through social action, but to Cardinal Ratzinger it smacked of Marxism.
So, Ratzinger didn't want priests helping oppressed Latin American's out of poverty. He must really be a nasty old prick. But, what about "liberation theology", did it really smack of Marxism? Hell, it was Marxism, albeit in a "new and improved" Christian wrapper.

Here's Fr. Robert Sirico on liberation theology:
In the days when the Superpowers were locked in a Cold War, Latin America seethed with revolution, and millions lived behind an iron curtain, a group of theologians concocted a novel idea within the history of Christianity. They proposed to combine the teachings of Jesus with the teachings of Marx as a way of justifying violent revolution to overthrow the economics of capitalism.

The Gospels were re-rendered not as doctrine impacting on the human soul but rather as windows into the historical dialectic of class struggle. These "liberation theologians" saw every biblical criticism of the rich as a mandate to expropriate the expropriating owners of capital, and every expression of compassion for the poor as a call for an uprising by the proletarian class of peasants and workers.

This is hardly the first time that the Gospels have been read in a way that seemed designed to support a peculiar and wayward personal agenda. The history of heresy, usually Gnostic at its root (for its perpetual claim to have discovered some hidden meaning accessible only to the elect), is bound up with the history of megalomania and the search for power over others.

What gave liberation theology its currency was its appeal among elite theological students safely cloistered far from the workers and peasants so much in need of liberation. The sheer exotica of reading Christianity through Marxist eyes had an appeal, as did the political luxury afforded by the strange new respect secular intellectuals had for a version of Christianity that seemed to endorse socialism.
Read the whole thing, it's quite interesting.

Oh yeah, one more thing, never trust the BBC.

Schwarzenegger calls for borders to be closed

Arnold didn't mince words:
Close the borders. Close the borders in California, and all across Mexico and the United States," Schwarzenegger told hundreds of newspaper publishers at Newspaper Association of American convention the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

"Because I think it is just unfair to have all of those people coming across, and to have the borders open the way it is," the California governor said. "We in California have to still finish the border. That is the key thing -- to have borders and to keep the law, enforce the law."
Fair enough. Some Democrats, however, were unimpressed:
Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez issued a statement saying Schwarzenegger should "ratchet down this rhetoric and retreat from this narrow-minded approach to immigration."
Who the hell does Schwarzenegger think he is, talking about enforcing the law. The very idea ...

Got a troublesome hole that needs filling?

News flash: Bush influenced selection of Panzer-Pope

There's that little tid-bit plus lots more at the Guardian Newsblog. Make sure you stay informed.

Lefty trouser filler

Attention all of you lefties tired of right-wingers pointing at your crotch and dismissively commenting, "No balls". Short of actually growing some balls to fill out that scrotum there's always this – neither kid nor work friendly – option.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Lefty bloggers, hateship vs mateship

As noted in an earlier post, Australia's lefty bloggers refused to promote fellow Australian lefty blogger Tim Dunlop's brief posting stint at the malevolent Tim Blair's right-wing blog. Tim Dunlop has since returned to his regular site, Road to Surfdom.

Well, one of Tim Dunlop's Australian comrades – Mark Bahnisch – finally got around to acknowledging Dunlop's posts at Tim Blair's but not until Dunlop was already back at Surfdom. I wasn't going to follow-up my earlier post but changed my mind after visiting Bahnisch's site. Bahnisch observes in his post:
One thing I noticed was that few of Tim’s regular commenters made the journey with him, and the comments threads on his posts were largely inhabited by small b blairites. Never the twain shall meet?
Well, Mark, how were Dunlop's regulars to know he was going to post at Tim Blair's since no one, other than Blair himself, put out the word?

Then, in comments there's this from Ron:
As much as I admire and like Tim Dunlop, having to visit him at THAT site is too much of an ask.
So, Tim Blair is so reviled by the lefties that they can't even go to his site, ignore his posts and find and read Tim Dunlop's posts. Talk about hate overcoming reason ...

Soon thereafter is this by Amanda, pretty neatly summing up the situation:
I didn’t even know he was at TB’s site until I read it on Surfdom today. Did I miss the announcement? I don’t think I made of stern enough stuff to start commenting there though.
Yep, that's it alright, there was no way the lefty bloggers were going to publicize Dunlop's stint at Blair's because self-interest and hate prevented them. Hell, I bet Dunlop even got hate mail from some of his comrades – he did seem to make a hasty exit from Tim Blair's, before his new site was fully operational. (I have no doubt the lefty bloggers were expecting Dunlop would be bagged by Blair's supposedly nasty regulars and were mystified, not to mention disconcerted, at the relatively warm reception he got.)

The bottom line is this: Australia's lefty bloggers regularly link to one another when it suits their self-promotional interests but couldn't bring themselves to link to Dunlop at Blair's because Dunlop would be posting to a readership probably bigger than all of the lefties put together. Mateship goes only so far ...

Oh yeah, if you want a laugh, read the comments at Bahnisch's after I dared to point out the obvious – lucky I have thick skin, but most of us pussy-trolls do.

Update: Super-brain Jason – he might get it eventually, but probably not – Soon in comments at Bahnisch's (go to the link immediately above):
wow, that JF Beck has leveraged *two* posts out of this little incident.
seriously, I had no idea that Tim D was posting at Tim B’s simply because I don’t visit Tim B’s site very much anymore and last I checked Tim D didn’t leave any notice on his abandoned old site. simple as that really, and i suspect the same applies to most other ‘lefty’ bloggers who missed this brief period when the lion lay down with the lamb
See Jason, that's the whole point, some of the lefty bloggers had to know that Dunlop would be posting at Blair's but they didn't spread the word. Dumb-arse.

I'll bet I'm not alone in wanting one of these for my wife

"We held her and gave her a shot, and she went in peace."
Seriously, I'd want the wife to suffer.

The quote is from a Schiavo inspired article about making plans for your exit in the Boston Globe.

Japan to replace Australia as US's Asia-Pacific deputy sheriff

A sensible article from the Guardian's Simon Tisdall for a change:
Escalating tension with China, violently illustrated by renewed anti-Japanese protests in Shanghai and other big cities at the weekend, is increasing pressure on Tokyo to expand its military capabilities and back a deepening strategic alliance with the US reaching from east Asia to the Gulf.

Japan's pacifist postwar constitution restricts its armed forces to self-defence. About 50,000 US troops in Okinawa and other bases guarantee the country's security in return for a $5bn (£2.6bn) Japanese cash contribution.

But defence analysts say the perceived Chinese threat, a more assertive, nationalistic Japanese mindset, and Washington's wish to use Japan as a command post for operations extending to the Middle East are transforming Japan's formerly semi-detached defence posture.
At only about 600 words the article is well worth reading.

Australia's being replaced as deputy sheriff before it's had the chance to gun down a bad guy Marshall Dillon style or even rough anyone up. Maybe we should slap around the Kiwis a bit, you know, just for fun.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Dickhead "art"

Check out this attention seeking dickhead's handiwork:
Mark McGowan, 37, will display pictures of himself scratching the paintwork of vehicles in Glasgow and London in an exhibition this week.

He said he had "keyed" 17 cars around the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow's upmarket West End in March and 30 vehicles in Camberwell, south London.

He said: "I pick the cars randomly. What I have been looking at are issues of property and linking it with art and performative action.

"I got the idea when my sister and brother-in-law's cars were keyed. Is it jealousy that causes someone to key a car? Hatred? Revenge? There is a strong creative element in the keying of a car; it's an emotive engagement.

"There is the fear factor, which was an important part of the project. Cars being keyed is a worldwide pandemic at the moment and this should hopefully draw attention to it. Maybe it will enter the mainstream, like graffiti."
There's also a strong revenge element in seriously punching someone who has keyed your car. Wouldn't it be great to see one of the car owners track McGowan down and make him suffer? (Take a look at the article, the guy's a shameless self-promoter.)

Unheralded return of lefty blogger Tim Dunlop

US based Australian lefty blogger Tim Dunlop has experienced technical problems at his site – Road to Surfdom – making his last post there on 6 April. As Dunlop had previously offered to allow right-winger Tim Blair to post at Surfdom, during a period in which Blair was experiencing techinical problems, Blair did the right thing and reciprocated. Dunlop made his first post at Blair's on Sunday. Blair's notoriously – as characterized by lefty bloggers – outspoken commenters, while they aren't likely to be leftified anytime soon, have been remarkably civil. This should be very encouraging for Dunlop as he's getting exposure to a readership that must be many times bigger than the one he had at Surfdom.

Anyway, there is something about the Dunlop-posting-at-Blair's situation that has me stumped: why is it that I can't find a single Australian lefty blogger making so much as a passing comment on Tim Dunlop's return to blogging after an absence of almost two weeks? Is it lack of regard for Dunlop? Out of hatred of Blair? Or, is it as I believe, their envy of Dunlop's access to Blair's huge readership – a readership they'll never achieve – that's causing them to remain silent?

Regardless, it strikes me as seriously odd that Dunlop is getting a warmer welcome from Blair's right-wing readers than from his fellow left-wingers. Dunlop must be wondering where all his comrades have gone.

Update: Go here.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

American dream versus European daydream

Scandinavians believe they live in a welfare state that's about as close to utopia as it's possible to be. They're wrong:
All this was illuminated last year in a study by a Swedish research organization, Timbro, which compared the gross domestic products of the 15 European Union members (before the 2004 expansion) with those of the 50 American states and the District of Columbia. (Norway, not being a member of the union, was not included.)

After adjusting the figures for the different purchasing powers of the dollar and euro, the only European country whose economic output per person was greater than the United States average was the tiny tax haven of Luxembourg, which ranked third, just behind Delaware and slightly ahead of Connecticut.

The next European country on the list was Ireland, down at 41st place out of 66; Sweden was 14th from the bottom (after Alabama), followed by Oklahoma, and then Britain, France, Finland, Germany and Italy. The bottom three spots on the list went to Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Alternatively, the study found, if the E.U. was treated as a single American state, it would rank fifth from the bottom, topping only Arkansas, Montana, West Virginia and Mississippi. In short, while Scandinavians are constantly told how much better they have it than Americans, Timbro's statistics suggest otherwise. So did a paper by a Swedish economics writer, Johan Norberg.

Contrasting "the American dream" with "the European daydream," Mr. Norberg described the difference: "Economic growth in the last 25 years has been 3 percent per annum in the U.S., compared to 2.2 percent in the E.U. That means that the American economy has almost doubled, whereas the E.U. economy has grown by slightly more than half. The purchasing power in the U.S. is $36,100 per capita, and in the E.U. $26,000 - and the gap is constantly widening."
Lots of lefties will argue that these statistics don't give a true picture of Europe's economic situation and the glorious equity of the Scandinavian welfare state. Some will see it as scare-mongering.

Yep, reality can be scary.

Giant footprint found

In order to make soccer fans feel guilty – as is they shouldn't already feel guilty, for liking such a crappy sport – scientists have calculated the environmental impact of the 2004 FA Cup final:
They converted the energy and resources used on the day of the match into an ecological footprint - the hypothetical area of land required to support the use of those resources.
They arrived at a footprint of 3,051 hectares.

Meaningless environmental trivia.

Segway introduces GT

Alright, a Segway GT. There'll be leather jacket clad, Hell's Angels impersonating lefties dragging from cross-walk to cross-walk at break-neck speed, flipping off regular Segway riders, as pedestrians run for cover from fat-tyred, racing striped, metal-flake candy apple red, silent, kick arse, environmentally friendly, speed machines chased by police. Soon, Bonneville (meeting the roll bar requirement will be a challange but the geniuses behind Segway can surely work something out). Hell, I might even consider buying one. Then I found out what GT stands for.

Really, the Segway is nothing more than an expensive novelty: the successor to another ill-conceived personal transport device, the Sinclair C5. Anyone wanting electric transport can buy an electric scooter with equal range and twice the carrying capacity of a Segway but slightly slower – if you're in a hurry the Sewgay is a poor choice anyway – for thousands less.

If you're a trendy lefty, buy a Segway to impress you're lefty friends. If you must travel on two wheels, and want to go in style, save up until you can afford one of these but be quick, only 250 will be made.

Update: In comments, reader grizz links to a Segway owner doing Ben Hur, or something.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Climate change at least partly natural

A European study further complicates the already complicated Global Warming debate:
A Bonn study shows that since 1880 climate gases have caused just under half of global warming.

"Without the influence of the greenhouse gases the average annual temperature would have only increased by 0.4 degrees," is how Professor Andreas Hense summarises the results.

'However, the fluctuations at the end of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century are mainly due to changes in solar activity and volcanic eruptions.'
So, is the glass half empty or half full?

iPod theft trauma

Pity the poor person traumatized by the theft of his iPod:
Victims said they felt the thieves got an illicit glimpse at their musical tastes and even their "souls."
Sounds to me like these people have spent too much time with their headphones on in their own little iPod worlds. Either that or loud volume has rattled their brains.

Holiday destination: Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Remember how the intolerant Taliban thugs blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas? Good news, archaeologists think they'll be able to use the fragments to reconstruct the Buddhas.

Even before the reconstruction of the Buddhas, Bamiyan is attracting foreign tourists. This is difficult to imagine since Bamiyan is without electricity and land-mines litter the ground.

Still, three hotels have been built to take advantage of the oustanding views of the Hindu Kush. Oh yeah, Bamiyan has one more thing working in its favour, at least according to long-time resident and would-be tour guide Abdullah:
"It's peaceful here right now and I know the future will be too. We are now safe."
Thanks to those evil, war-mongering Americans.

EU consitution a "judicial monster"

You're probably aware Jacques Chirac went on French TV the other day to pitch for a YES vote on the EU constitution. Chirac's TV performance was less than convincing, consisting as it did of a stage managed on-air discussion with 80 politically unsophisticated youths.

Now, a member of Chirac's UMP has urged the French to vote NO. According to Niclolas Dupont-Aignan:
"If this Constitution wins, it is the end of Europe."

"The system has been built without the will of the people and they will revolt within ten years if this [treaty] is passed."

"We cannot build a solid European future on such a complex text," the MP added, branding the Constitution a 'judicial monster' which he said would be the end of free states in Europe.
Mark Steyn predicted the EU consitution would be ratified; maybe this is one of those rare occassion he gets it wrong. I reckon the constitution is irrelevant, Europe is doomed.

Friday, April 15, 2005

How you can tell when Seymour Hersh is lying

Supermarkets are eating your brain

US neo-colonialism disguised as reconstruction

In order for the US to better handle any future foreign disasters, the State Department set up the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS). Here's the blurb from the S/CRS homepage:
Failing and post-conflict states pose one of the greatest national and international security challenges of our day, threatening vulnerable populations, their neighbors, our allies, and ourselves. On August 5, 2004, Secretary Powell announced the creation of the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) to enhance our nation's institutional capacity to respond to crises involving failing, failed, and post-conflict states and complex emergencies. Ambassador Carlos Pascual serves as the Coordinator.

S/CRS has a core mission: To lead, coordinate and institutionalize U.S. Government civilian capacity to prevent or prepare for post-conflict situations, and to help stabilize and reconstruct societies in transition from conflict or civil strife, so they can reach a sustainable path toward peace, democracy and a market economy.
International coordination is amongst the S/CRS's core objectives. Specifically:
The Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization will:

•Work with international partners to develop a shared understanding of responsibilities, means for collaboration, and burden sharing.

•Increase efficiency and reduce redundancy in reconstruction and stabilization operations, adding value to existing capabilities and increasing overall effectiveness of multilateral efforts.

•Key international partners:
--United Nations (e.g. DPKO, DPA, OCHA, UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP)
--IFIs (World Bank, IMF, regional banks)
--Regional organizations
--Country partners
Sound's great doesn't it, the good old US of A planning ahead to help future disaster victims through coordinated international effort? Sure, the program isn't totally altruistic but foreigners in need stand to benefit. Or, maybe not.

Naomi Klein sees the S/CRS as something sinister, a neo-colonialist plot:
Last summer, in the lull of the August media doze, the Bush Administration's doctrine of preventive war took a major leap forward. On August 5, 2004, the White House created the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, headed by former US Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. Its mandate is to draw up elaborate "post-conflict" plans for up to twenty-five countries that are not, as of yet, in conflict. According to Pascual, it will also be able to coordinate three full-scale reconstruction operations in different countries "at the same time," each lasting "five to seven years."

Fittingly, a government devoted to perpetual pre-emptive deconstruction now has a standing office of perpetual pre-emptive reconstruction.

Gone are the days of waiting for wars to break out and then drawing up ad hoc plans to pick up the pieces.

"We used to have vulgar colonialism," says Shalmali Guttal, a Bangalore-based researcher with Focus on the Global South. "Now we have sophisticated colonialism, and they call it 'reconstruction.'"

It certainly seems that ever-larger portions of the globe are under active reconstruction: being rebuilt by a parallel government made up of a familiar cast of for-profit consulting firms, engineering companies, mega-NGOs, government and UN aid agencies and international financial institutions.
So, according to Klein there's a massive conspiracy to bleed the third world dry. Read the whole thing, if you can – I kept drifting off but did manage to note the following regarding tsunami aid to Sri Lanka:
"We see this as a plan of action amidst the tsunami crisis to hand over the sea and the coast to foreign corporations and tourism, with military assistance from the US Marines."

The thing that most galls Klein is the western expectation that third world countries will make changes, notably, the privatization of public entities such as utilities. It seems reasonable that change is demanded of countries that cannot adequately look after their own and must go begging to the west.

I thought liberals were the ones who embrace change. Oh yeah, that's right, change is good only if people don't make money as a result. Power, not money, to the people. You know, like in Cuba, where the people reign supreme.

Food should go to waist, not waste

John Vidal, the Guardian's environment editor, has a big cry about the amount of food wasted every day in the UK. A big part of the problem is people who "no longer eat everything on their plate." As the British seem to be getting fatter by the minute, maybe they should throw away more food.

Visitors arriving via Tim Blair

You might want to go straight to my post War criminals UNpunished, which points to another potential UN scandal.

The ugliest kind of war, about US forces beating insurgents at their own game, is a must read.

Thanks for visiting; please take the time to have a good look around.

Annan blames US, UK for oil scandal

The headline above comes straight from al Jazeera, which reports:
Addressing a meeting on the United Nations and the news media on Thursday, Annan pointed to "the fact that the bulk of the money that Saddam Hussein made came out of smuggling outside the oil-for-food programme, and it was on the American and British watch".

"Possibly they were the ones who knew exactly what was going on, and that the countries themselves decided to close their eyes to smuggling to Turkey and Jordan because they were allies."
Interesting. The fact that the US and UK turned a blind eye to oil being smuggled to Turkey and Jordan for political reasons is one thing. For the UN to be riddled with corruption is another thing altogether.

Not only does Annan want to spread the blame, he's also trying – just as a sleight of hand magician would – to distract attention from what's really going on: keep an eye on his right hand while he pockets the coin hidden in his left.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

US forces cleared in Sgrena shooting incident

The only thing in dispute is the speed of the vehicle as it approached the roadblock.

Via: lgf

Lethal injections cause pain

Shocking news:
As many as four of every 10 prisoners put to death in the United States might receive inadequate anesthesia, causing them to remain conscious and experience blistering pain during a lethal injection.

Researchers in Florida and Virginia drew this conclusion after reviewing levels of anesthetic in the blood of 49 inmates after they were executed.
There's always Idi Amin's favoured method of dispatch. Messy but cost effective.

War criminals UNpunished

A while back I posted on the early release from prison of convicted war criminal Miroslav Kvocka. Kvocka was released after serving four years of a seven year sentence for persecution, torture and murder. The full text of the ICTY's decision was not then available but is now online. Basically it states that, even though Kvocka's crimes were "particularly grave", he's actually a pretty nice guy. His sentence has therefore been commuted.

Kvocka is insignificant compared to Vladimir Lazarevic, who has yet to be tried but stands accused of:
... four counts of crimes against humanity and one count of violations of the laws or customs of war. The indictment alleges that the forces of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and Serbia "acting at the direction, with the encouragement, or with the support of" Vladimir Lazarevic, murdered hundreds of Kosovo Albanian civilians as part of a widespread and systematic campaign of brutality and violence that resulted in the forced deportation of approximately 800,000 Kosovo Albanian civilians from October 1998 until June 1999.
(For the full text of the indictment go here.)

Why was Lazarevic's release ordered today after being in the ICTY's custody only since February 3? In the words of the Tribunal:
“The gravity of the charges cannot by itself serve to justify long periods of detention on remand.”
In short, it wouldn't be nice to hold him until his trial starts, probably in 2006.

Will the MSM pick up on this? Don't count on it.

War criminals of the world take note, the UN is going to hunt you down and treat you real nice.

Humans are doomed

Scientists speculate on the end of the human race. I'm betting on the rise of the super-smart robots:
They will be our heirs and will offer us the best chance we'll ever get for immortality by uploading ourselves into advanced robots."
How will we reproduce?

Base jumper seriously injured

Jumping from heights is dangerous:
A man who leapt from the Sydney Harbour Bridge this morning is in a critical condition in hospital.

Police say a 39-year-old man, who was found with a parachute, is alleged to have jumped from the public walkway on the eastern side of the bridge around 2:30am (AEST).

A short time later the water police found the man being treated in a boat by ambulance officers.

He was taken to Royal North Shore hospital with injuries to his entire body and underwent surgery this morning.
Ouch! I probably shouldn't make fun of this guy since he was seriously hurt but I'm sure he understood the risks.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Australian genocide

Words can apparently have any meaning you want:
Aboriginal protesters have threatened to disrupt next year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne if they do not see quick results from a genocide case launched against the federal government.

Calling for the government to be investigated for crimes of genocide, one of the signatories to the writ, Robbie Thorpe, said momentum was building for protests at the Games.

"This is the lead up to the 'stolenwealth' games - we want the issues of the black GST (Genocide stopped, Sovereignty restored and Treaty made) resolved before they have their 'stolenwealth' games," he said.

"We're sick of the genocide and the terrorism in this country and we want it to end.

"If we don't see a treaty by the end of this year, who knows what's going to happen."
Genocide? I thought Aboriginal numbers were increasing. Maybe Robbie Thorpe should buy a dictionary and learn how to use it.

Thorpe's thinly veiled threat of violence adds a nice finishing touch, does it not?

The ugliest kind of war

Not everyone is cut out to fight this kind of war:
From inside a vacant building, Sgt. 1st Class Domingo Ruiz watched through a rifle scope as three cars stopped on the other side of the road. A man carrying a machine gun got out and began to transfer weapons into the trunk of one of the cars.

"Take him down," Ruiz told a sniper.

The sniper fired his powerful M-14 rifle and the man's head exploded, several American soldiers recalled. As he fell, more soldiers opened fire, killing at least one other insurgent. After the ambush, the Americans scooped up a piece of skull and took it back to their base as evidence of the successful mission.

"Our battles have been beyond ruthless," said Ruiz, adding that he believes most Americans have little understanding of how the conflict is being fought.

"An urban counterinsurgency is probably the ugliest form of warfare there is," said Capt. Rob Born, 30, the C Company commander.
Read the whole thing. We're lucky to have a few with the stomach to out-ruthless the ruthless in taking the Arab way of war to the Arabs.

Alaska pipe spews gas and oil

Environmentalists will milk this for all it's worth by using it as an example of what could happen if drilling goes ahead in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge:
An estimated 1.4 million cubic feet of natural gas and an unknown quantity of crude oil spewed from a leak in a pipeline at the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska's North Slope, state environmental regulators said on Tuesday.

The resulting mist of crude oil coated an area nearly a mile long and averaged about 300 feet wide, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said in a statement.
Lucky that stuff's all natural.

New York's event of the year

2005 Left Forum

The whining will be deafening.

By the way, the 2005 Left Forum replaces the long running Socialist Scholars Conference, which was cancelled after seven of the group's 16 board members resigned, "in protest of the lack of democratic and participatory governance procedures." The left undemocratic? Shocking.

Guardian schizo on Iraq

The Wednesday Guardian contains two Iraq opinion pieces, one by Jonathan Steele that's negative, and one by Simon Tisdall that's positive.

The weekend's vast protest shows that opposition is still growing, in spite of US and British government claims to have Iraqis' best interests at heart. It was the biggest demonstration since foreign troops invaded.

The key issue, now as it has been since 2003, is for the occupation to end quickly. Only this will reduce the resistance and give Iraqis a chance to live normally. In a new line of spin - which some commentators have taken to mean that the US is preparing for a pullout - US commanders claim the rate of insurgent attacks is down.

The figures are not independently monitored. Even if true, they may be temporary. Thirdly, they fly in the face of evidence that suggests the US is failing. Most of western Iraq is out of US control. The city of Mosul could explode at any moment. Ramadi is practically a no-go area.
But Saturday's demonstration, the largest that postwar Iraq has seen, suggested that the Sadrists' strategy has definitively changed. Instead of a return to shootings and bombings, they said they would be protesting and lobbying the new Shia-led government as part of a non-violent campaign to secure a US and British withdrawal.

This belated recourse to democratic means by one of Iraq's most formidable militias is in some ways more impressive than the election itself. Predictably, the big poll winners were the moderate Shia parties and the Kurds. The process failed to draw in the Sunni minority, let alone the various hardline Islamist factions.

But progress is being made in involving Sunni representatives in the government and in the writing of a new constitution. And as people such as Mr Sadr focus on conventional politics, the momentum behind the insurgency finally seems to be slowing.

Although US commanders say they still face at least 12,000 fighters, daily attacks on allied forces have dropped by more than two-thirds since the pre-election period. The Iraqi security forces are now bearing the brunt, and are said to be responding with increased competence.
To be honest, Tisdall's piece isn't totally positive but it's a lot better than the relentlessly negative stuff the Guardian usually cranks out. Maybe there's hope for Iraq yet. Maybe there's even some hope for the Guardian. Nah.