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February 28, 2003

Even more stupid human tricks

Students of Darwin will want to go visit the website of those amusing, amazing human shields.

Logo/postcard from humanshields.org

Salam Pax from Baghdad has some funny stories about these misguided war tourists.   (And thanks for the link.)

February 28, 2003 at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interesting Iraqi blog


Found what is apparently a blog from Iraq in english.   (Thanks to the amazingly productive Instapundit for the link.)   Its very well written, amusing, and has some great pictures of everyday life in Baghdad.   Check it out.

February 28, 2003 at 10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 27, 2003

Howellwatch

I'm a little bit behind the times (no pun intended) on this one, due to the ongoing Blogger situation.    However, the indomitable Mickey Kaus found a great piece from the Media Research Center on Howell Raines' acceptance speech before the National Press Foundation awards dinner last week.     Methinks Raines' critics are beginning to affect him; he now sees a Hillary-style vast right-wing conspiracy seeking to persuade the NYT's audience that they are an "agenda driven" news organization with a "liberal bias".   To paraphrase another famous Raines, Claude, I am shocked!  Simply shocked!

The most important development of the post-war period among journalists, American journalists, was the acceptance throughout our profession of an ethic that says we report and edit the news for our papers, but we don't wear the political collar of our owners, or the government, or any political party. It is that legacy we must protect with our diligent stewardship.  To do so means we must be aware of the energetic effort that is now underway to convince our readers that we are ideologues. It is an exercise of, in disinformation, of alarming proportions.  This attempt to convince the audience of the world's most ideology free newspapers that they're being subjected to agenda driven news reflecting a liberal bias. I don't believe our viewers and readers will be in the long-run misled by those who advocate biased journalism.

But perhaps those of us who work for fair-minded publications and broadcasters have been too passive in pointing out the agendas of those who want to use journalism as a political tool, while aiming an accusing finger at those who practice balanced journalism.  I believe as Coach Bryant used to say, 'The fourth quarter belongs to us.' As inheritors of the mainstream journalistic practices of the post-war era, we will endure because we have values to protect.   Values that were forged in the furnace of democracy by our brothers and sisters who could not be seduced into being either the lapdogs or the attack dogs of any political interest or philosophy.

Ideological biases have a lot in common with accents: nobody thinks that they have one.

February 27, 2003 at 02:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interesting analysis from the Hindustan Times


Stephen Den Beste found a very thoughtful column from today's Hindustan Times by Pramit Pal Chaudhuri ("Why George wants Saddam's head).   I don't know how the man does it.   In addition to being an independent software engineer, prolific journalist, and student of history, he somehow finds time to monitor scores of daily publications from all other the world.   Damn, he's good.

Anyway, check out Chaudhuri's column.   I think it is very sensible and to-the-point.

February 27, 2003 at 02:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A good speech, but not THE speech


I watched Bush's speech last night from the gym.   When I first heard that the White House was billing this as a "major address" and that the topic would be Iraq, I expected to learn that the war had begun.   After all, the new moon occurs on Monday, Gen. Franks has said that we now have in place the forces needed to get the job done, and the number of weeks before conditions become hellishly warm are dwindling.   However, when I saw the traditional pol's introduction, thanking the group for inviting him, acknowledging dignitaries in the audience, the lame self-deprecating jokes, I knew that this was not be THE speech.

It was a little odd to be listening to the President while on the elliptical machine.   About half of the TVs in the gym were tuned to the speech, with some basketball game and various cable channels were on the remainder.   Nobody seemed to be paying much attention, to tell the truth.

I thought Bush did a fine job.   Speaking without a TelePrompTer (as Chris Matthews observed), he was articulate and sincere in his delivery. He also looked more rested and comfortable than he has in a while.   Earlier in the week I watched him answering reporters' questions following a cabinet meeting on economic policy and he seemed distinctly testy.   Responding to the inevitable question about Iraq and war, he seemed pissed-off and almost disgusted that he had to repeat the mantra that "total disarmament" was the only way Saddam could preserve the peace.   At the time, I thought that he was expressing his disappointment with the behavior of our former allies in Europe.   But perhaps he it was just fatigue.   In any case, he seemed to be in fairly good spirits last night.

The message that the US has a vital security interest in the liberation of Iraq and the reformation of the dysfunctional societies within the Arab world is an important one.   Stephen Den Beste, as usual, has some excellent insights on this question (see also here).   The point is that the traditional Faustian bargain that defined US relations with the Arab world for the last half century or so was one of the casualties of 9/11.   Until then, we had been willing to tolerate Arab regimes that taught hatred of the West and Israel to their people in an effort to deflect attention from their own corruption and repression as long as they remained within their own borders and did not export violence.   Implicitly, we were accepting a trade-off between stability (and the oil exports that it would facilitate) and our own traditional values.

Of course, that trade-off exploded in our faces when the murderous fanatics of 9/11 brought their internal struggles for an Islamic state to our doorstep.   The doctrine that Bush began to elucidate last night is that in order to win the war against terrorism, we must promote the achievement of modern, functional, humane societies within the Arab world.   In this regard, Iraq is merely the starting point of a larger social revolution within the Arab world.   While it won't be easy to achieve the goal of creating democratic, peaceful societies in the Mideast, there really is no other way to make our own country safe against future terrorist attacks.

February 27, 2003 at 12:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Deep-sixed Topica


You may notice that the link to email alerting via Topica has been replaced by Bloglet.   Topica stopped working a week or two ago, for reasons that remain obscure but are probably linked to issues at Blogger Pro.   This new service is based upon my own RSS feed, so it should work better.   Please let me know of any problems.

February 27, 2003 at 10:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 26, 2003

Back from Blogger-induced silence


I have been silent for the last couple of days due to problems with Blogger Pro which is the application service provider (ASP) that I use to format my blog.   While their service is cheap (Blogger is free and Blogger Pro costs $35 per year), you get what you pay for.   In their defense, their company (Pyra Labs) was acquired last week by Google, so they must have been pretty distracted.   In any case, their flakiness and lack of responsiveness, has finally gotten to me, and I will be changing my publishing system soon.   (Sigh)

February 26, 2003 at 01:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 24, 2003

France's new medal: the Double Croix de la Guerre!

From Jessica's Well via Instapundit...

Picture of Double Croix de le Guerre

February 24, 2003 at 10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2003

Stupid humanshield tricks


From today's UK Telegraph (via Little Green Footballs):

We don't want to shield Iraqi army, say British
(Filed: 23/02/2003)


The first Western "human shields" will take up their places at strategic sites around Iraq today as dissent among them grows about the nature of the targets they are being asked to protect.

Fifteen volunteers from the first 200 shields are moving into a bunker at the South Baghdad Electricity Plant in an effort to deter attack by America and its allies. However some of the shields yesterday questioned Iraq's selection of the power plant, after discovering that it is situated next to an army base.

Since the shields' first visit to examine their new quarters, sandbags and unmanned check points had been erected around the plant. Asked about the neighbouring Rasheed military base, an Iraqi official said: "Don't worry, it is a small army camp."

The Iraqi government has drawn up a list of other sites that it wants shields to protect. These include water purification plants, communication centres, food stores, historic monuments and oil refineries.

Yesterday Iraqi officials gave way to pressure from disgruntled volunteers, and agreed to place some at the schools, hospitals and old people's homes where they had hoped to defend the civilian population against possible attack. Divisions between the volunteers and their Baghdad hosts had opened up during a meeting with Iraqi officials last Thursday. Rick Pruttwein, 28, from London, who runs summer camps for underprivileged children, told them he wanted to stay in an orphanage, capitalising on his work in Britain.

The officials, however, said that he could be better used at more strategically important targets. "There are maybe 40 or 50 children in the orphanage, which is in an area of maybe 200,000-300,000 civilians," said Abdul Razak Al Hashimi, president of the Organisation of Friendship, Peace and Solidarity in Iraq.

"If you go to a water purification plant instead, that will help many thousands more people - including children - to have clean water to drink. That is a priority. Every house in the area is under threat if the infrastructure is damaged."

One shield who has agreed to move into the bunker in the South Baghdad Electricity Plant is Godfrey Meynell, 68, a former high sheriff of Derbyshire and a veteran of the Colonial Office in Aden, south Yemen.

He has appealed to the RAF not to kill him. "I am an old man and they know I am here," he said. "If they bomb this site, they will be deliberately targeting me too."

The electricity plant has been rebuilt after being destroyed by four missiles during the Gulf war in 1991. One landed just yards from the heart of the complex, an area now converted into basic accommodation.

At present, Mr Meynell is staying in a hotel in Baghdad as a guest of the Iraqi government. For the foreseeable future, his group will live in the confined space of a dark and depressing dormitory, adorned by nylon drapes, brown velour curtains and a large framed portrait of Saddam Hussein dressed in military uniform. Steel, hospital-style beds line both walls.

Ube Evans, 50, a stagehand from Dublin, said that those staying in the plant would be relying on their own food and water supplies to survive in very basic living conditions.

"We are taking bottled water and some food with us," he said. "We hope to beg or borrow some cooking rings so that we can be as self-sufficient as possible.

"I imagine that we will take it in turns to go into the centre of town in order to have a shower, and that will happen every four to five days. We hope to spend the days liaising with the workers at the power plant and integrating with the local community by visiting schools and homes."

Yesterday, the volunteers who will move into the plant - who include Algerians, South Africans, Finns, Turks and two Russians from Siberia - painted a large sign bearing the human shield emblem on its roof, to alert fighter pilots to their presence.

I hope somebody tells those poor misguided fools that cruise missiles and JDAMs can't read.   (Sigh)

February 23, 2003 at 03:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2003

Giving the debil his due...


Now that I've gotten my daily quota of anti-Timesian venom off my chest, allow me to recognize an excellent editorial they ran yesterday.   While hardly controversial -- it calls for approval of Chief Judge Judith Kaye's long-overdue streamlining of NY State's convoluted court system -- it is a step in the right direction.   Now if they can only keep following up the issue and not allow it sink without a trace into the Albany cesspool...

February 22, 2003 at 10:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack