Saturday, May 03, 2003

The Big Shrug

From the Guardian: Later, veteran Labour MP Tam Dalyell tabled a Commons question to the prime minister asking to which Iraqis he was referring when he claimed in Warsaw that he had spoken to local people during his visit to Iraq on the subject of welcoming the American-British military action. Mr Dalyell, MP for Linlithgow and father of the Commons, commented: "From the public prints and the BBC, I understand that the only Iraqis to whom he spoke were schoolchildren."

The same story says Blair gave an “angry but opaque” denial of accusations that MI6 was told to “sex up” the dossier of accusations against Iraq. (In another bit of good writing, Polly Toynbee says that with Blair there is always a wavy line between deception and self-deception. “There is an almost childish blurring between the wish and the fact: if he says something strongly enough, his words can magic it into truth.” Sound like anyone else you know?)

Matthew Parris in The Times says that Blair’s (and by extension Bush’s) new communications tool about such things as the Big Shrug, a term I intend to use frequently. He doesn’t think it’ll work in Britain, and is surprised that the country turned out not to be so amnesiac as to have forgotten the reason given for going to war. The US, of course, is populated almost entirely by amnesiacs.

They’ve also been sexing up the March report of the UN inspectors, as proof that Iraq had WMDs. Hans Blix denies that they ever said anything of the sort.

If anyone out there cares about the Congo, they might want to read this . Here’s it’s opening sentence: “From her hiding place in the woods outside the Congolese town of Bunia, Ruta Bonabingi watched as militiamen roasted and then ate the severed arms of her dying daughters.” The paper notes that this is the deadliest war since 1945. Let’s give some credit to the French for being willing to send peacekeeping troops into the heart of darkness.

Some Burmese are suing Unocal in American courts, for the forced labor, murder, torture, rape, etc etc used by the Burmese military to provide security and free labor for the building of Unocal’s pipeline. John Ashcroft wants to eliminate the ability of foreigners to pursue such suits in US courts.

The Texas thing goes on. A restraining order was issued barring the fuzz shredding any more paperwork related to its hunt for the missing D’s, no doubt too late. A Dem. state rep on the Law Enforcement Committee, seeking to interview 4 cops, was told by the attorney general that he must first tell them who leaked that they were destroying documents.

A British soldier is being questioned for the torture of an Iraqi POW (also something about soldiers performing sex acts near POWs, details unclear at present). How do we know this? Because he took pictures. And had them developed in a shop in Britain. Which called the cops.

What is Bush’s thing with eyes? There was his comment about looking into Putin’s eyes and understanding his soul, or something, and now he says he’s going to the Middle East because “I want [Middle East leaders] to look me in the eye so they can see that I am determined to work to make this happen.” Is it the left eye or the right eye that’s the determined one? To me, they both look vacant.

Reality tv at its finest, in Britain, where the parties are competing to see who can be nastiest about and to seekers of political asylum. Viewers will be invited to vote on particular cases.

There was a major earthquake in Japan. The deputy governor of the affected region has been fired because after hearing the news, he carried on playing a pinball gambling game for 45 minutes. Actually, if it’s the game I think it is, it’s very popular in Japan and takes in huge amounts of money, which go to North Korea.

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