Sunday, June 13, 2004

Ratting out the paedophiles

Have I been using the British spelling of paedophiles all this time? Anyway, some unnamed bishop (or somesuch) on McNeil-Lehrer today referred to informing the appropriate authorities as ratting out priests. Others still treat it as their personal right to decide what crimes to report to those legally responsible for enforcing the law.

That might have been the stupidest thing I heard out of the Catholic church today, but for the canonization of Padre Pio (see the London Times for Saturday on this, it’s hilarious), who died in 1968 and who had stigmata, which even the church once realized came from nitric acid, and could be in two places a the same time. Now it’s an opportunity to sell cheap trinkets to tourists.

Speaking of cheap trinkets, a crewman of the Enola Gay has auctioned off parts of the Little Boy nuclear device, 2 plugs used to keep it from going off in the plane. The lucky buyer is a scientist who paid $167,000 (after the US government lost a lawsuit trying to stop the sale because 1) it’s government property, 2) it endangers national security, 3) they wanted to use it in the Smithsonian), because Hiroshima was what inspired him to become a scientist. So amorality isn’t confined to Catholic bishops.

The queen is giving out honors to celebrate her Jubilee, including to Mick Jagger and Harold Pinter, who is to be made a Companion of Honour in a ceremony expected to be marked by long awkward pauses (what, you thought I’d make a Mick Jagger joke rather than a Harold Pinter joke?).

London Times headline: FBI and CIA Call a Truce on Leaks, or So a Leak Says.

The loya jirga is over. The UN and the Afghan government allowed war criminals to participate, women were present but had no power, there were armed thugs everywhere to intimidate delegates, and everything was decided before the thing even opened. So while it doesn’t much resemble democracy, it does look an awful like a Republican National Convention.

The partisan fighting has again postponed the start of investigations of the intelligence failures of 9/11, and all legislative measures to prevent another Enron have also stalled out (the role of Phil Gramm, whose wife worked for Enron, in preventing more transparent accountancy rules, is especially egregious). The US just cannot learn from its mistakes.

And it exports them, if you follow a Guardian columnist who blamed the current image problems of the Blair government on its having followed Bill Clinton’s spinmeistery a little too slavishly. Last week they were caught trying to find out if members of a group of survivors of the Paddington train crash, who are lobbying for better safety measures, were Tories, in order that they could smear.... train crash survivors. This week the fuss is over Blair’s evident attempts to get a bigger role in the Queen Mum’s funeral (actually, although I can’t be arsed to read the 29-page file of documents Downing Street just released, it does look like he was just trying to find out what he was supposed to do. Still, it brings him into conflict with the royal official whose title is Black Rod, and you can imagine how much fun the press is having with that).

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