January 19, 2009
Dropping a DIME on Hamas
Israel has been accused of dropping Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) bombs on Hamas positions in Gaza. This new type of munition is designed to limit the shrapnel and blast effects to a very small area, thereby reducing the risk of collateral damage to non-combatants.
Naturally, the usual suspects are complaining about possible war crimes. (I suppose it is better to drop conventional high explosive munitions that will destroy an entire building, civilians and all.)
October 05, 2007
Viva La France
Proof that elections matter; the French government has volunteered to begin protecting UN ships carrying food aid from pirates off the coast of Somalia.
The United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) has accepted France's offer to protect its ships from Somali pirates as its vessels carry food aid to needy Somalis. In a WFP press release, Executive Director Josette Sheeran states, "We are grateful to the Government of France for this generous offer, which would reduce the threat of piracy and allow WFP to feed more hungry people in Somalia."
May 03, 2006
From Breadbasket to Basket Case in 20 years
Robert Mugabe has continued to drive his country's economy straight into the ground. The NYT's Michael Wines reports on the latest affliction for those poor, benighted people; hyperinflation.
April 03, 2006
Who Knew Pirates Had PR People?
The WaPo's Emily Wax had an interesting piece following up on the recent string of pirate attacks on shipping off the coast of Somalia. Her article is datelined Mombasa, the Kenyan port city along the Indian Ocean, and the focus is the upcoming trial of a group of pirates captured by the crew of the USS Winston S. Churchill in the course of rescuing the crew of an Indian freighter that had been captured by the Somali pirates.
In her article, Wax refers to the capture last month of a group of Somali pirates who made the mistake of opening fire on two US Navy vessels. Always fair -- at least to those critical of the US -- she includes the pirates' version of the events:
Two U.S. Navy warships returned fire on a group of suspected pirates off the Somali coast last month, killing one suspect and wounding five, according to Cmdr. Jeff Breslau, spokesman for the U.S. Naval Forces Central Force at Bahrain. Ten of the suspects are in U.S. custody at sea, and two are being treated for injuries in an undisclosed country, Breslau said. A spokesman for the pirates has said the Americans fired first, according to news reports. [Emphasis added]
What I want to know is who are these pirate spokespersons? Do they have fax machines to send out press releases? If Wax really wanted to wrie something interesting, she should go to Mogadishu and interview these buccaneer flacks.
(By the way, the Kenyan coast below Mombasa has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The sand is a wonderful, ultra fine, white powder that squeeks underfoot. Unlike most sand, it feels great on your skin, almost like talcum powder. Of course, I was there 25 years ago, so things may have changed somewhat.)
Technorati Tags: Somali Pirates
April 02, 2006
A Clockwork Orange in the Banlieues
The UK Sunday Times' Matthew Campbell has a horrifying account of the details emerging from the recent kidnap, torture and murder of a young jewish cell phone salesman in Paris:
THE pretty schoolgirl known as Yalda wore tight white trousers and thigh-high boots to the rendezvous. Her target, a young Jewish telephone salesman, quickly fell under her spell. He meekly followed her when she suggested a nightcap at her place.
It would be his last date.
The testimony of this 17-year-old femme fatale who happily offered herself as “bait” in the kidnapping of Ilan Halimi, whose tortured body was found on wasteland, has shocked a country which is haunted by a painful history of anti-semitism.
Yalda’s only moment of doubt came when she heard Halimi’s shrieks as he was carried away by thugs in balaclava helmets. “He screamed for two minutes, with a high-pitched voice like a girl,” she told investigators.
She soon forgot, however. . .
To be fair to the French, we have our share of this kind of horrific crap here in the US. (For example, look at this recent Brooklyn kidnap/murder.) But what is truly terrifying about the French situation is the ethnic, religious and political dimensions of the problem. France has a large, disaffected, underclass that is a perfect breeding ground for jihadist terror. Think I'm overreacting? Check out this story from AFP. (Hat tip to ¡No Pasaran!)
March 21, 2006
There are a couple of interesting editorials today about the French demonstrations opposing the introduction of a new youth employment law that would make it easier for employers to fire (and therefore encourage them to hire) people under the age of 26.
The LAT's editors beat the already dead horse by arguing the economic case for liberalizing France's sclerotic labor laws. You've gotta love their headline, though: Liberté, egalité, stupidité.
IT'S SPRING, AND THE FRENCH are rioting again. This time, it's students and labor unions protesting a minor reform of the country's employment laws that was imposed to help solve the problems that spurred last fall's riots. If the protesters get what they want and the law is rescinded, the result will be continued high youth unemployment — which will doubtless spur more riots. And that, Simba, is the Circle of Life in French politics.
The WSJ's editors take a different tack, while of course endorsing this first step at labor market reform. (Non-subscriber link here.) They argue that the larger issue in France is the lack of a truly participatory democracy which allows fundamental policy questions to be calmly debated rather than be the target of violent demonstrations:
The right to assemble is a pillar of free society. But in France it's the only pillar its citizens seem to take seriously. So much so that any public debate of import gets conducted in the streets rather than through the ballot box or institutions of a purportedly mature democracy.
. . . Reasonable people could have had a spirited debate about this [new employment] policy. So why didn't they before the jobs contract became the law of the land? Parliaments and elections exist so complicated issues can be digested and decisions calmly taken. France went from little discussion to protests in central Paris, blockades at the Sorbonne and a rampage through a McDonald's restaurant. That's "civic discourse"?
The masses on the streets reply that this is the only way to fight a sclerotic political system, and the claim isn't without merit. MPs and the president face voters only every five years. The National Assembly is notoriously unresponsive to voter concerns, though the chicken-and-egg problem is that citizens don't bother even to try to sway their representatives. The jobs bill was pushed through using a special procedure that allowed for little debate or amendment.
If I were truly cynical, I would observe that people usually get the governments they deserve. For France's sake, I hope not.
March 09, 2006
HehThe New York Times: All the news you already knew before you even read the article.
Going Hungry in a Breadbasket
Zimbabwe, which had previously been the largest grain exporter in Africa, is teetering on the brink of famine, thanks to the ruinous economic policies of Robert Mugabe. The Telegraph's Peta Thornycroft reports from Harare:
"I can't afford bread any longer," said Rejoice Makore, 54, a self-employed handyman in central Harare. "Only Jesus can help us now. I am hungry all the time."
His business is faltering as fuel, only available at black market prices, is now so expensive he cannot afford to travel to customers.
"Under (Ian) Smith, we had meat every day for just a few cents. I haven't eaten meat for so long I can't remember the last time," he said.
"Yes, I supported Mugabe then. But not now as we are starving."
February 17, 2006
Unholy Alliance in France
Cats and dogs living together? Are we witnessing the End of Times? Michel Gurfinkiel reports from Paris in today's NY Sun:
It looks like a political oxymoron, but Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front is poised to strike an alliance with France's large immigrant Muslim community.
A generation after France's right-wing party began its surge with a tough anti-immigration campaign tinged with both racism and anti-Semitism, three factors are coming into play that could spell a strategic realignment.
- The Islamicization of France is largely a fait accompli. It is assumed that 6 to 8 million citizens or residents of France, 10% to 13% out of a global population of 62 million, are Muslim by now. And that the Muslim community, being more prolific, is much younger than the rest of the population: As much as 25% of French citizens or residents under 20 is Muslim, with the number reaching 40% or 50% in the big cities.
- The National Front is surprisingly popular among Muslim immigrants or second-generation Muslim citizens. For all its campaigning about immigration, Mr. Le Pen's party has always extended support to Arab and Islamic causes abroad, from Saddam's Iraq to Arafat's or Hamas Palestine, and from Al Qaeda to Iran. And it is as firmly anti-American and anti-Jewish as the Muslim community itself tends to be.
- The attraction of the French far left, which accounts for another 20% of the national vote, toward Islam, rabid anti-Americanism, and even anti-Semitism, a phenomenon underscored by the emergence of Dieudonne, a former liberal music-hall humorist who has turned into an enormously popular French equivalent of Louis Farrakhan. Dieudonne, the son of a black Camerounese father and a white French mother, claims that Jews were the main European slave traders in the 17th and 18th centuries. He refers to civic and educational programs about the Holocaust as "memory pornography." He has welcomed the electoral victory of Hamas in Palestine. According to the philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, he is in moral terms "Le Pen's son."
Gurfinkiel's thesis is that Le Pen is really more of a neo-fascist anti-semite than he is a Christian conservative. United by their hatred of jews and the US, Le Pen and some of France's radical Muslims may have a lot in common. Très bizarre.
February 14, 2006
China's Old Guard Reformers?
This is interesting: old line communists in China criticising the government for restricting free speech.