Saturday, October 02, 2004

Pictures of cemeteries are not representative of the new Afghanistan

The UN is funding PR advisers to teach the candidates in the Afghan presidential elections the finer points of spin-doctoring.
Gen. Dostum, a whisky-drinking mujahideen leader whose Northern Alliance forces helped defeat the Taliban, had to be dissuaded from posing for a campaign poster among the graves of "martyrs" who died fighting the Taliban.

Tactfully, they pointed out that he might look for a more positive image. “Pictures of cemeteries are not representative of the new Afghanistan,” Mr Marie said. The general eventually agreed to pose at a building site instead.
The UN, according to the Observer, has 115,000 election officials in Afghanistan, with 5,000 satellite phones, 1,150 jeeps and 4 helicopters. Also donkeys: some of the ballot boxes will be sent by donkey. Meanwhile, in Iraq, they have 8 people working on the elections. Not that the 115,000 officials etc aren’t working in the service of a farce, of course. It would help keep everyone’s understanding of this focused if the media used language more carefully. For example, The Observer says that “More than 10 million voters have registered,” but since there are fewer than 10 million eligible voters in the whole country, so that statement is false, disregarding the large and unknown level of fraud.

Badly chosen BBC headline: “Nigeria Spearheads Polio Campaign.” Glad to find that it didn’t involve actual spears. Given the obscurantism in some of the Muslim states, this would not be out of the question. This time President Obasanjo himself personally administered the vaccine to the daughter of the governor of Kano, one of the states that had previously banned the vaccine.

Porter Goss has picked as executive director of the CIA a guy, Michael Kostiw, who was an oil company lobbyist--natch--after he was forced out of the CIA in 1981 for shoplifting. Well, for getting caught shoplifting, anyway. Hopefully the Post won’t stop investigating until it can tell us exactly what he shoplifted, but somehow I think we all know it was women’s underwear.
(Update: pink
women’s underwear, no doubt in my mind)

Bush and Kerry agreed that nuclear proliferation was an important issue. In fact, Bush said US spending had gone up by I think he said 30%. Turns out, that includes the cost of getting rid of the US’s own unwanted nuclear materials. This means he came prepared with a fake number, on an issue he claimed to consider really important.

The Spanish government is moving forward with plans to allow gay marriage and gay adoption. The Vatican calls this a “sad step.” Yes, and we should listen because the Catholic Church’s record of social policy in Spain is so good:

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