Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Going the extra kilometer on Iraq

There’s a story in the NY Times on how Ted Turner is no longer happy with his partners at AOL Time Warner because his personal fortune has gone down from its previous $9 billion. Here’s the pathetic part: it says he checks the stock price every hour.

Nicholas Kristof comments that Iraq is only the most oppressive place in the Middle East if you’re a man, whereas the women are doing pretty well, can drive and not wear burquas and everything. Indeed, the head of Iraq’s biological warfare program is a woman. You go, girl!

Of course a Palestinian in Gaza or in a refugee camp, or a Kurd anywhere in the Middle East, may take exception to the most oppressive place thing.

Rummy Rumsfeld yesterday was insisting that US pilots have been putting their lives at risk every day to enforce UN resolutions in Iraq, by which he meant the US-, not UN-imposed no-fly zones. Although he is now claiming, which the Wash Post reported and the Times did not, that those planes have been conducting “aerial inspections” all these years on behalf of the UN disarmament resolutions--presumably the government just forget to mention it before now. Or file reports with the UN, presumably. So all this proves that Iraq trying to shoot down our planes actually demonstrates their contempt for the UN, and therefore they can’t be trusted on inspections. Follow that? Also, he rejects, nay spits on, Russian claims that the stepped-up bombing in recent weeks creates obstacles. He called that criticism “nonsensical,” which is an odd term to use towards a country you’re counting on not to veto your resolution at the UN...

I see that Bush now wants to go to war with Iraq to enforce UN resolutions that have nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, like the return of Kuwaiti prisoners. That’s probably why we rejoined UNESCO last month: there’s probably a plan to switch to the metric system that Iraq isn’t fully in compliance with (yeah, we’re not on metric either, that’s the fuckin’ point).

It is believed that Iraqi commanders have been pre-authorized to use chemical and bio weapons, anticipating that US bombing will cut communications.

The Times’s science pages bring word of a company offering DNA tests to find out just what racial mixture you are. Perfect for improving your chances at college admissions or government contracts (that’s not me, that’s the company’s ad literature).

A study says that the Bushies aren’t enforcing environmental laws, are collecting 1/5 the fines that Clinton did over a comparable period, initiating fewer suits and going for smaller fines. And the Wall St Journal says that the FDA is sending out many fewer warning letters to drug companies about fraud & such.

The EU caved to the US on the International Criminal Court, allowing is members to give it a blanket exemption. Which Germany, amusingly enough, says it won’t.

The British MP for Grimsby has changed his name, in order to support the local fishing industry, from Austin Mitchell to Austin Haddock. Surprisingly, none of his four children have followed suit.

Bush signed a bill to require that Jerusalem be treated as the capital of Israel, including in the naming of nationality in passports (for US citizens born in Jerusalem). And then announced that he’d ignore the law he signed because it’s unconstitutional.

Here’s a sentence from an LA Times story that echoes what a lot of Bushies have been saying: “If the United Nations fails to back the United States, and Washington subsequently acts alone against Iraq, that would seriously erode the Security Council's role in world affairs and the influence of its member states, the analysts say.” An odd definition of influence, really. As Tony Blair has yet to realize, a lap dog is not the same as a guide dog. Indeed, the UN just negotiated details of the return of inspectors to Iraq, and the US is threatening to veto it (it would include the 1998 limitations on inspections of presidential palaces--and today Ari Fleischer said that a bullet in Saddam Hussein’s skull would settle things, so I can’t see any reason why no-notice armed inspections of his palaces would be a sticking point). I thought the US was supposed to be willing to compromise its original position, which I commented on the last 2 or 3 emails, but instead more details are coming out, like the suggestion of “no drive” zones around places being inspected.

Bill Clinton is at the Labour Party annual conference, along with Kevin Spacey (they went to a McDonald’s, it was in all the papers. From the Times: “The plastic seat used by Mr Clinton has already been renamed the McClinton chair.”). Here’s a quote: meld the cadence of the hymnal into political speech. “You were there when we turned back the tide of ethnic cleansing. You were there when the alliance turned back Saddam Hussein. When Saddam threw out the weapons inspectors, you were there. And when you were moving towards peace in Northern Ireland, we were there.” And wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy...

Norway has killed 634 whales this year.

Remember those Japanese the North Koreans admitted kidnapping, but the majority of them died? It seems that their bodies all washed out to sea in floods, as well.

Another result of the American refusal to fund family planning abroad: a shortage of condoms in the developing world, where they must be given away or the people can’t afford them. In 2000 950 million were sent, down from 1.5 billion in 1996, with an actual need of about 8 billion, which is an awful lot of sex in total, but doesn’t some like much per capita (that’s the little capita, and not the big capita, if you get my meaning).

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