Friday, March 08, 2002

Ashcroft wants to form neighborhood watch groups to fight terrorism. That’s too silly even to make a joke about.

The Israelis, meanwhile, are passing out guns to everyone, including schoolteachers. Ariel Sharon said, in case you missed it, “If the Palestinians are not being beaten, there will be no negotiations. ... Only after they’ve been battered will we be able to conduct talks.” And then he bombed a school for blind children.

Bush slogan: “A quality teacher in every classroom.”

The Whitewater investigation is over, if anyone cares, Robert (you can call me Ray) Ray’s final report says he could certainly have convicted Clinton if he felt like it. Well that was certainly worth $70 million, or whatever the final figure was (no reporter saw fit to ask).

I understand that some of the Afghans rushing in to support US troops are being paid, that is as mercenaries, by the US.

In yet another creepy story about twins, two 70-year old Finn twins are killed by being hit while driving bicycles on the same day.

Indian bookies have been spreading rumors to promote further violence. They are currently offering between 4:1 and 6:1 that inter-communal violence will spread to Rajasthan.

When the US started rounding up furriners after 9/11, you may remember some very brief mentions of the fact that a bunch of them were Israelis. So what happened to them? I don’t actually know, and have seen only one story in the middling-reliable Daily Telegraph, which suggests that a couple hundred of them were actually spies, possibly shadowing Muslim militants in this country, without the knowledge of the US government. At the very least, a suspiciously large number of them have backgrounds in military intelligence. So why were they arrested in the first place: I think they were pretending to be Arabs.

Although I often say that the real news about how the world works is hidden away in the business pages, I don’t always take my own advice, and missed an interesting issue. A passing reference in the New Statesman sent me to the Web, to look up the Carlyle Group. In retrospect I remember one minor aspect, that there was this major but secretive military company (technically it’s an investment group, and is now somewhat diversified, but it specializes in gentrifying dilapidated defense contractors) in which the bin Laden family was an investor until last Oct. 27, and which employs George Bush the Elder. Carlyle is very hooked up, its chair being Reagan’s defense secretary & ex-head (assistant DCI? I forget) of the CIA Frank Carlucci, who was Donald Rumsfeld’s wrestling partner at Princeton (ie, look for Rumsfeld to join the board when he moves out of government), and others working for it include James Baker and John Major. There’s a self-propelled howitzer project even the Pentagon says is outmoded and it doesn’t need, which was due to be killed by the Clintonites and mysteriously revived by the Bushies. There are issues of Carlyle’s investments in South Korea, possibly responsible for Bush’s u-turn re North Korea after a call from his father. Shrub himself worked for the company before he became governor and, after he appointed a few members to the board of the Texas teachers’ pension fund, $100m of public money was invested in Carlyle. The real problem is the connection with Saudi Arabia, perhaps explaining the administration’s complete inability to criticize the Saudis for anything (his father is over there a lot trying to sell them stuff--Carlyle is responsible for training the guards for the royal family--and gets a lot of money for it). No wonder we’ve heard so little from Bush Senior, he’s out making money, something like $50m, and $100,000 every time he opens his mouth for the company, and no one is screaming conflict of interest.

Speaking of which, Neil Bush is also in Saudi Arabia (I sent something from a Saudi paper a while back), this time promoting educational software. There was an article in the NY Times this week. He thinks it has nothing to do with who all his relatives are; he thinks he’s just a great salesman.

The Guardian reports that when the US blamed the French for the failed attempt to capture Karadizc in leaks to the press, they had absolutely no basis for it.

Advice to Tonya Harding: go for the nose.

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