Thursday, March 25, 1999

The return of some old friends

The Axis is back. The Luftwaffe is back in combat for the first time since 1945, and so is Japan, which fired on North Korean spy ships, both in the same day. And today saw the largest air strike in Europe since, what, Dresden? So we have the best of both sides of World War II. And we call it NATO. Now sometime in the last few years, NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has gotten the ability to decide to invade whole countries. If NATO weren’t a tool of the US, that would actually be frightening, since I don’t recall voting for any elections to NATO or in any way giving up that sort of sovereignty to it. Clinton gave another truly crappy speech in support of his little war (by the way, have we stopped bombing Iraq this week so that we can bomb Serbia, or Kosovo, or whoever it is we’re bombing?) He evoked the possibility of a wider Balkans war, which if it hasn’t happened by now, won’t. He said something about leaving a stable Europe to our children. Evidently in his will, he’s leaving Luxembourg to Chelsea. And the Netherlands if she promises not to inhale. He said that we’ll bomb but we won’t send troops. Hey, even if Milosevic suddenly signs the peace accord we stuck under his nose, does Clinton think no peacekeepers will be required? And that’s best-case. If Milosevic doesn’t surrender, we literally have no plan. Clinton is talking about restoring Kosovo’s autonomy, but that was autonomy within Yugoslavia which doesn’t really, ya know, exist. Autonomy within Serbia is meaningless. If we can send troops into a country whose only mischief even we define as domestic, then we can by the same principles decide to dismember that country and declare Kosovo independent, which is the only thing that makes any sense (unless you own a map, when you notice that Kosovo would be surrounded by Serbia). Find a principle, almost any principle at this point, and stick to it.

It’s a wonderful coincidence that the Law Lords released their, for lack of a better word, decision on Pinochet today, given that dictators the world over must have been paying attention. They said he could only be extradited to Spain on 3 of the 35 charges. Although I don’t see anything in the world stopping Spain reinstating the other 32 when they get their hands on him, in a minimum of a year.

The first baby produced by sperm taken from a dead man is born. Yick.

Paraguay impeaches its president. Keep an eye on that one.

A study shows that people looking at crappy video, like security video such as is used in court all the time, or those cameras they’re sticking in city centres, produce images that people can’t match up accurately to mug shots more than 70% of the time. If they see people they know on video, it’s 100%, strangers, not so good. If the head is turned or the guy’s smiling, no chnce at all. It suggests that people are going to jail on the basis of what’s supposed to be objective evidence, but isn’t.

As I said, the Axis is back. Come to think of it, an Italian just became president of Europe today as well.

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