Monday, July 07, 2003

A very important continent

Gray Davis is spending a million bucks or so to get signatures on petitions against the recall. Such petitions have no legal value, or any other value really, and are presumably just intended to fog the issue. The LA Times has a story about migrant signature-collectors, who go from state to state in search of these paying gigs (it is illegal for other than registered voters to collect signatures, but the Republicans actively recruited in Washington state). Some simultaneously collect signatures for each side. Ah, citizen democracy at its finest.

The Israeli Cabinet agrees to release some prisoners. Islamic Jihad is threatening to end its week-old truce because none of its (or Hamas’s) people will be released. Or any the Israelis “think have blood on their hands.” That formulation refers to the fact that Israel doesn’t bother trying most of the people it detains. The 400 (some papers say 300) that will be released--very very slowly--would only amount to a fraction of the number detained without trial (every paper has its own figure for this one). I don’t know if releasees will be confined to them or will include people actually convicted of something, although I gather most will be women, children and sick people.

You’ll remember that Rumsfeld threatened Belgium that if it didn’t change its crimes against humanity law, he would pull NATO hq out of Brussels and otherwise punish them. They pointed out that they had already changed the law, stopping the proceedings against Bush and Tommy Franks, so why is Rumsfeld still not happy? Well, Rummy is actually acting on behalf of Ariel Sharon. The change in the law, allowing defendants to be tried only in their own countries, did in fact protect all Americans, but the people who filed charges against Sharon for the Sabra-Shatila massacres are Palestinian refugees, who wouldn’t be allowed into Israel to present their cases, so Belgium still has jurisdiction.

Only 9 current and former Senators made it to Strom Thurmond’s funeral. Trent Lott did not go. Suggested eulogy: If we had buried Strom in 1948 the country would not be in this mess.

I can’t figure out what the vote in Corsica turning down greater autonomy meant, but it sounds like the Corsicans weren’t too clear themselves.

African leaders are expected to complain to Bush about their cotton farmers being bankrupted by the heavy US subsidies of our cotton farmers. Oh sure, but when we brought them over to work in our cotton fields, they bitched and moaned about that too.

By the way, Bush will be visiting Nigeria, which he once described as “a very important continent.”

Italy’s highest court, which you know from this space deals exclusively with cases involving sex in automobiles, mothers-in-law, whether women wearing jeans can be raped, etc etc, rules that a pat on the ass constitutes sexual violence.

We’re getting closer to figuring out the precise limits of acceptable homophobia in this country. It’s somewhere between Rick Santorum and Michael Savage (who I never got around to watching during his brief run on MSNBC, not knowing the wit and subtlety of his rhetoric rose to this level: “Oh, you're one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it. Get trichinosis.”).

In Britain, those limits have been clarified this week by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who pressured the newly appointed Bishop of Reading to resign. Seems the guy is in a homosexual relationship, celibate just as the Church of England and until recently the state of Texas demands, but the evangelicals, who have all the money, and the Anglican church in Nigeria, complained that he used to have sex and has not “repented.” The thing is, Rohan Williams, the bearded, happy-clappy Archbishop, knows better and not only gave in but defended the right of the bigots to be bigots.

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