Monday, March 10, 2003

My relationship to sheep is a bit ambivalent now

The world’s richest nations have given the UN refugee agency 1/4 of what it asked for to deal with the crisis that Gulf War II will cause. I have the sneaking suspicion at least some of this is deliberate, as one of the areas which will be flooded is the northern Iraq Kurdish-run region; this would be one way of over-stressing their resources and forcing the Kurdish government into collapse in advance of its reabsorption by the central Iraqi government. If you follow.

The pope says that Scotland is no longer a Christian country.

Seymour Hersh on Richard Perle’s venture-capital company. Evidently after 9/11 he set this thing up to invest in defense industries, seeing no conflict of interest with his day job in the Pentagon, pushing for wars that would benefit the company. Indeed, defense contractor Boeing found it prudent to invest heavily. Evidently he’s done this before, advising the army in 1983 to give a contract to an Israeli firm that had paid him $50,000 two years before. Another featured player in the article: Adnan Khashoggi of Iran-Contra fame, who helped Perle try to blackmail the Saudis into investing in the company. Asked about the article on CNN, Perle said "Sy Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist."

Speaking of Reagan’s evil-doers, Fox News hired Ollie North to follow his old Marine division into Baghdad. He’s already given up, saying "I'm too old for all this. I'm going back to Kuwait City for a shower and a decent night's sleep."

Li Peng, the Butcher of Tiananmen Square, retires.

Here’s a headline--“Net Closing Around Bin Laden”--that must rival “Time Running Out for Saddam” as the most frequently rerun headline of our time. Pakistani intelligence officials say they are “just hours” behind bin Laden, but don’t say whether that’s by car or by airplane.

N Korea says that the $500 million secret payment it took in exchange for coming to a summit with the South was not a bribe but an expression of brotherly love. I’m suddenly sorry I’m an only child.

George Monbiot’s latest column. He says that the argument that it took 9/11 for the US to start caring what sort of regimes there were in the Middle East is false, since Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Elliott Abrams, etc were demanding the US overthrow Saddam in 1998. Monbiot says that while the overthrow of the Taliban may or may not have improved the lives of Afghans, and the overthrow of Saddam ditto in Iraq, the real worry is the change in the US, which is now feeling empowered to reshape the world.

An interesting interview with the Israeli military refusenik who is Netanyahu’s nephew. While international human rights conventions forced Israel to set up tribunals to assess conscientious objectors, it stocked them with military officers who have never recognized the existence of pacifism.

The Pentagon has hired an art director (just off a Michael Douglas film) to create the set for Pentagon daily briefings during the war. The set’s budget is $200,000. Don’t know if that includes the salary of this guy, who also designed the set for Good Morning America and works with magician David Blaine.

In Norway, a heavy metal band named Mayhem was carving up a dead sheep on stage when the head went flying off and hit a concert-goer, Per Kristian Hagen. He said later: "My relationship to sheep is a bit ambivalent now. I like them, but not when they come flying through the air. I have a headache now." Police detective Carl-Petter Leganger said an investigation has started, but "nothing suggests this was a conscious act".

No kidding.

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