Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Not pouring money into a black hole

You may remember that in April US forces made a big fuss about a prison for children they had found in Iraq. It was actually an orphanage, but by the time they figured that out, the children had been “liberated” on to the streets and a future of begging, prostitution and drugs. Well, the orphanage has been reopened, now run by Shiite mullahs, who have recaptured many of the former occupants. The girls must cover their hair and so forth, or they are beaten. And they are being “married” off, some as young as 13. Imams are encouraging their congregations to go down and pick one out for themselves. UNICEF pulled out a month ago in horror.

Similarly, the NYT has a story Monday about the proliferation of unofficial Islamic courts that people can go to to mediate disputes or give them permission to kill a Baathist or a female relative or whatever.

Similarly, the London Times says an Islamic Shia army is being formed. It claims a million men have already joined. Obviously it’s less, but evidently a shitload.

Although 52 US soldiers have been killed by hostile fire since the war, um, ended (54, I’ve read elsewhere), another 60 have died from other causes: 23 car & chopper accidents, 12 weapons accidents, 3 suicides, 3 drowned. The number of wounded is many hundred. The story on this says, I think correctly, that the impression that this was an easy victory has been erased. Good.

The British Green Party spokesman on drugs was just tried for, what else, drugs, but won his appeal, the court saying his 19 pot plants were for medicinal use for his bad back.

Azerbaijan’s parliament (it doesn’t deserve an initial capital letter) elects as prime minister the son of president-for-life Aliyev. Fellow dictator in Belarus, Lukashenko has announced plans to change the constitution to let himself run for a 3rd term. So of the 12 non-Baltic former Soviet republics, there are a grand total of no democracies.

A few days ago US troops in Afghanistan shot 3 Afghan army officers, justifying it by saying that the taxi in which they had been riding was “driving aggressively” toward them. Driving aggressively? An Afghan? Surely not!

John Poindexter has announced that he will retire, saying he plans to spend more time sailing. In a boat no doubt paid for with betting-on-terrorism-and-assassination money.

Economics from Dummies, as presented by George W. Bush: “Remember on our TV screens -- I'm not suggesting which network did this -- but it said, 'March to War,' every day from last summer until the spring," Bush said. "'March to War, March to War.' That's not a very conducive environment for people to take risk, when they hear 'March to War' all the time.” George has an MBA, you know. How ever did that network get the idea last year that the US was marching to war? We don’t march to war, we drive. That’s kinda the point of the war.

The WaPo finally gets around to a story (11 days after I wrote about it) about Liberia that mentions the terrible human rights record of Nigerian peace-keeping troops, such as the ones now entering Liberia with America’s blessings and no doubt money. Including that little thing in Sierra Leone where 98 prisoners were thrown off a bridge. The US got the UN to give the troops immunity from prosecution for war crimes.

In recall news, the 99-Cent Store chain has offered to pay the filing fee for any 99-year old who wants to run for governor. Larry Flynt now says he plans to conduct polls to see if he’s a viable candidate. "I have money, but I'm not going to pour it down a dark hole ..." He also says that children are our future, which is also a little nervous-making coming from him.

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