Monday, June 23, 2003

A gay canon

Ha’aretz reports that Ariel Sharon told his cabinet that Israel will continue building settlements but “should not celebrate the construction, should just build.” Settlers are putting up more of those “outposts” faster than they’re being taken down.

WashPost headline: “Bishops Urged to Reach Out to Victims.” Isn’t that what got them in trouble in the first place?

The Russian government has shut the last independent tv channel (and just 5 months before the next elections, too). Remember glasnost? And the Duma passed a censorship law, which got rather more attention because it’s so stupid, but should probably be ignored because 1) nothing the Duma passes is to be taken seriously, 2) Putin will do whatever he wants, no matter what the Duma has decided, 3) ownership matters more than law, as we know from the media wars in the US.

Which reminds me. Michael Powell’s new standards allow for more monopolistic ownership than we realized, because viewers of UHF stations only count as ½ in deciding how much of the market one company owns.

Bush’s latest statement on Iraqi weapons is not that they will be found but that the “true extent” of Saddam’s weapons program will be discovered. He adds that "all who know the dictator's history agree" that he had previously possessed and used banned weapons. Sure, in the 1980s! At the very time that Shrub himself possessed and used Alcohol of Mass Quantities.

USAID has been attempting to turn NGOs into GOs. NGOs awarded humanitarian contracts for Iraq were ordered not to speak to the media, and the head of USAID has threatened others for not telling Iraqis and Afghans receiving food and medicine that this was the largesse of George W. Bush and that they had better make it clear that they are “an arm of the US government.” The American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society have set up a McCarthyite “NGO Watch” in order to monitor any NGO that dares speak against Bush policies or for international treaties.

And something I missed, last month the US trade rep said that in future the US will only do trade agreements with countries that follow our line on foreign policy & security issues.

A good piece in USA Today (!) on how stupid decisions rather than the economy are responsible for the bad fiscal conditions of states (especially Calif.). Although it also suggests that those were precisely the stupid decisions (more spending, no tax increases) that polls say the voters want. I blame the failure to make the case for progressivity in taxation, but that’s just me.

A Slate article asks the question, Does it matter if we know whether Bush is lying or is just stupid.

And I have a new “tell” for when Bush is going to lie about his rationale for something, as demonstrated in something he said today: "For the sake of a continent threatened by famine, I urge the European governments to end their opposition to biotechnology.” (the continent is Africa). The tell is “for the sake of.” Remember all those Iraqwar statements by Bush beginning “For the sake of peace...”?

Two consecutive stories in the breaking news section of the London Times: “Archbishop Bids to Calm Gay Clergy Row”; “MPs Urge Ban on Smacking”. They’re not related, but wouldn’t it be fun if they were? The gay bishop in question is referred to in one headline as a “gay canon,” which I assume is his nickname.

Oh, and here’s one I hadn’t noticed, in the main British news section: “Sex Obsession Must Stop, Says Archbishop.”

The US accidentally invaded Syria yesterday.

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