Saturday, March 08, 2003

Apart from the lack of underpants, it was a conventional operation

2 Hughes Aircraft divisions, neither still owned by Hughes, plead guilty to giving China data rocket & satellite data, and pay a fine. No actual human is held responsible in any way, certainly are not facing trials for treason and possible execution, although the Rosenbergs were certainly electrocuted for less. If only they’d known enough to work for a multinational corporation.

Good piece on the Bush press conference. I’d have to ask what the hell are the “Al Qaeda-type organizations” Iraq is supposed to be funding. (I’d have to ask because none of the reporters did, although the format and Bush’s filibustering/rambling responses prevented there being all that many questions asked to begin with. Joe Conason in Salon points out that no such accusation was made in, say, the last State Dept report on international terrorism.) Bush refused a couple of times to say whether the war would be a failure if it didn’t end in the capture or “accidental” death of Saddam Hussein--like with your father, the reporters were too polite to add. One minor innovation in rhetoric is the new Bush line that if Iraq were disarming, it would be obvious. How that would be obvious, I don’t know, although he did say that inspectors “could have showed up [sic] at a parking lot and he could have brought his weapons and destroyed them.” Yes, that’s how you destroy biological warfare agents. In a parking lot. Hitting them with hammers, maybe. Moron.

Bush’s answers to questions on N Korea don’t seem to have gotten much attention--indeed, those parts of the press conf don’t even appear in the transcript in the print edition of the NY Times. Oddly, he said that North Korean nukes are a “regional issue.” I’m not even sure what that means, but even if it were true, and even if N Korea didn’t have missiles that could reach, well, me here on the West Coast, don’t we have defense pacts with some of those countries in the region? Also, he described the region as including China, Japan and Russia, which is less a region than it is half the world.

He also has what may be a new line on opposition to his policies: asked why “so many people around the world take a different view of the threat that Saddam Hussein poses than you and your allies” he said “I recognize there are people who don’t like war.” And then says that he doesn’t like war either, which was surprisingly not followed by the reporters bursting into laughter. What he’s doing with this line is pretending that real intellectual disagreement is just based on knee-jerk pacifism, and can therefore be dismissed.

Yesterday’s press conference was followed by today’s conference by the arms inspectors. Most interesting was the complete refutation of there being any Iraqi nuclear program, of there being any connection between aluminum tubes, magnets, etc to such a program, and of the claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. The latter is the most interesting: the evidence cited by British intelligence is forged. Badly.

Not much attention is being given to the sudden appearance of holes in the fence between Kuwait and Iraq, and the foray by US Marines into the neutral zone, which will not only piss off the Romulans, I mean Iraqis, but makes Kuwait a legitimate target and, by the by, is a violation of the cease-fire accords.

A Texas judge gives a gay divorce. This has proven a bit of a problem, since Vermont will let anyone get a gay marriage, but only residents (1 year+) can get divorces there.

The Pentagon refuses to comment on the cases of two prisoners beaten to death, possibly during interrogations, possibly not, at a US military base in Afghanistan.

The DOD’s budget proposals (so why do I have to read this in a British paper and there’s nothing in the Post or NY Times?) include a single line asking to be allowed to develop mini-nuclear weapons. Which, bad enough in themselves, would need to be tested, breaking yet another international treaty.

Dick Cheney sends a letter (on official Office of the VP stationary, yet) threatening a satire site,, which has a moderately humorous (don’t bother, really) parody of his wife.

The US is claiming that Iraq is buying up uniforms like those worn by American soldiers (while refusing to offer any proof). So remember, any soldiers in American uniforms committing atrocities are bound to be Iraqis. Really.

Britain’s Education Secretary’s 16-year old son was suspended from his school for swearing at a member of staff who confiscated his football.

Jörg Haider, the gay neo-fascist in Austria, has started a campaign for independence for Carinthia.

We never hear anymore about the passengers of Flight 93, the one on 9/11 that went down in Pennsylvania, and isn’t that interesting? The only instance of civilians (admittedly doomed civilians) fighting back against terrorists, but it’s been allowed to fade into the background. What should be powerful symbolism is never invoked--when was the last time Shrub mentioned them? I assume it’s for the same reason he refuses to ask for any sacrifices: he doesn’t really want the citizenry participating actively, but rather wants them to view security and safety as one more commodity to be purchased and consumed passively.

Follow-up: I mentioned (2/4/03) that the feds asked a district court judge to dismiss a case by a whistle-blower who was wrongly fired by TRW for pointing out that they were faking Star Wars tests, arguing that this would endanger national security. The case has been dismissed.

From the Daily Telegraph:
Worldwide: Police accused of using witchcraft to catch fugitive
By Margaret Wilson in Lusaka

Claims that the Zambian police removed their underpants in order to search more effectively for a fugitive are the latest bizarre revelation in a row about the role of witchcraft in the capture of Zambia's most wanted man.

Katele Kalumba, former foreign minister, vanished three months ago after his arrest was ordered on charges of plundering the nation's resources. Despite the best efforts of a large team of police and reported sightings from as far as Belgium, he was living undetected in a tent on his farm in north-western Zambia.

Police say witchcraft lay at the heart of his elusiveness and they displayed an assortment of "magical objects" found in his tent when they finally caught up with him.

Black arts, and the fear of them, bubble just below the surface of life in Zambia. Police have been accused of resorting to the services of a witchdoctor to find their man.

Mr Kalumba, 50, disappeared when Zambia's national task force investigating corruption demanded he answer questions relating to the disappearance of £12.5 million for military equipment, as well as other sums.

Police say he used two witchdoctors to achieve his invisibility and eavesdropped on them with the aid of a wooden fetish doll. They also said he used the screen of his solar-powered laptop computer. "He confirmed he was able to see what was going on through this traditional computer," said a police spokesman.

As it happened, Mr Kalumba voluntarily showed himself to the team that came searching again after a tip-off from a local man. He emerged from behind a shrub too small to hide a man, said the police, adding that he wore charms around his neck and waist.

Now behind bars in Lusaka awaiting trial, Kalumba has denied the use of witchcraft, saying the objects were planted on him.

Police said the case was plagued with strange troubles. Police vehicles would unpredictably run out of fuel or develop mechanical failure; heavy rain would fall from clear skies at key moments.

Even after his capture, they said, Mr Kalumba was able to make himself invisible when the convoy passed through roadblocks on its return to Lusaka. Mr Kalumba and his wife, Lumba, claimed that police resorted to a witchfinder to track him down.

Accusations that police removed their underpants to make the search more effective would be interpreted in Zambia as a sure sign of witchery; black magic is best practised naked.

But police said that, apart from the lack of underpants and their urination on traditional herbs found at Kalumba's hideaway, it was a conventional operation.

No comments:

Post a Comment