Saturday, June 15, 2002
Just a Thought
Beer and Me
I spent most of the afternoon down at The 2002 Greater Cleveland Midwest Brewfest
. This being a June weekend in Cleveland, the weather was cool (high 50s-low 60s), windy, and rainy. Thankfully, the location was covered so you only got wet when you had to walk over to the restrooms. I really should be used to crappy weather at the strangest times by now, but it still can catch me off guard. It also throws off the brewers, who were expecting nicer, warmer weather and focused on the summer style beers. Lighter, crisper beers.
The admission was $5, and you paid $1 for each 4 oz. sample (12 oz. cups were $3). There was a decent turnout of brewers
. Now, there is only so much beer I can drink and enjoy, especially on a damp day like this. Certain steps were taken to reduce the choices. Right off the bat, I eliminated all major brewers (Boston Beer [Sam Adams], Heineken, Michelob, Miller, etc.). Then I dropped all local breweries that I am very familiar with (Willoughby Brewing
, Great Lakes Brewing
, Crooked River
, and Rock Bottom/Chop House). Now the choice of brewers was much more manageable -- about ten brewers. Still, most had at least 2 different beers (Buckeye Brewing had a whopping 8), so I was not going to have them all.
Quick note of the dumbest thing I saw there. The amphitheater where it took place had its concession stand up and running, including 12 oz. bottles of Bud and Bud light available for $5. I actually saw people at the brewfest, buying bottles!
I mean, never mind the fact that they had their pick of some most excellent beers, but these morons paid extra for the mass produced, bland beers.
Still, I took notes and can report back on what I did enjoy (links provided if available).
, Berea Ohio, Maple Porter.
Very light maple taste, if you really taste for it. The maple syrup seemed more to affect the color -- very, very dark. More bite (hops) than expected for a porter. Not an outstanding beer, but decent.
Blimp City Brewery
, Akron, Ohio, All American Blonde (Kolsch).
Definitely a summer beer. One to enjoy outside on a hot summer night. very light in appearance, but extremely flavorful, mild hoppiness.
Ringneck Brewing Company
, Strongsville, Ohio, Big Daddy Lager (Helles Lager)
Very, very yeasty taste at first, but then nothing. Bland and tasteless overall. No complexity.
Abita Brewing Co
., New Orleans, LA, Turbodog (brown ale)
An excellent brown ale, good flavor and a light, toasty, bitterness. Appearance fools you, looks as dark as a porter.
Rocky River Brewing Company, Rocky River OH, Helles Alt Bier
Amber colored lager. Surprisingly bland. Bitter aftertaste. Disappointing.
Buckeye Brewing, Bedford, OH,
light amber hue (surprisingly dark for a pale ale). This is
the summer ale. A subtle yeast taste mixed with a hint of lemon. A complex beer.
about the same hue as the IPA. Solid lager. A good balance of hops and yeast flavors. Smooth and tasty.
Northfield Park Brewery
(microbrewery at the racetrack), Northfield, OH, Golden Wheat Lager
Worst in show. Very generic. Bland in appearance, bland in taste, just bland. Bland, bland, bland.
, Kalamazoo, MI, Porter
Dark and rich. Good malt taste with a hint of bitterness. A proper porter. Nothing fancy or with a twist. Just a solid, effective offering.
, Denver, CO, Pale Ale
Another surprisingly dark pale ale (amber lager like hue).The hops and yeast are both present in taste. Another complex, excellent pale ale.
, Battle Creek, MI, Arcadia IPA
The ales were the big winner. This has an appropriate bitter taste, but the hops actually smooth out near the end of each drink.
Left Pushes Right
I'm trying to find some humor where I can in the pathetic displays of anti-semitism on the West Coast. The hard left activism in Berkeley and SFSU
has firmly aligned itself with the anti-Israel (not merely pro-Palestine) crowd. The result is pushing Jewish students in those schools to the right, when they would otherwise be supportive of leftish issues.
The irony is that if the pro-Palestinian demonstrators weren't so belligerent, they might find common ground with the Jewish students they're attacking. As opposed to Eastern campuses--where many Jewish students take neoconservative, almost Likudnik stances on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--Jewish students in the Bay Area tend to be on the far left of the American-Jewish political spectrum. Laurie Zoloth, director of the Jewish Studies program at SFSU, explains, "The Jewish students here are absolutely people who stand in the peace camp. These are students who have steadfastly called for a two-state solution and tried desperately to work with the pro-Palestinian groups.... But at San Francisco State to say that I believe in a two-state solution and the right of Israel to exist becomes a right-wing position." Says Goldstein, "It has become politically incorrect among the left to show support for Israel, and that scares me because I really don't want to become a Republican. I really don't." In the Bay Area, he might not have a choice.
I realize I have my East Coast bias (coming from Pennsylvania), but it's not so bad. The funniest, was this lamentation that makes no sense:
Even Bay Area bicycle activists have gotten into the act, staging "Reclaim the Tarmac" actions--like dumping pieces of furniture in the middle of city roads--to "tak[e] back the streets from automobiles and their corporate sponsors." As UC Berkeley philosophy Professor John Searle--who in the '60s became the first tenured faculty member to back the Free Speech Movement--lamented to The San Francisco Examiner on the movement's thirtieth anniversary, "The saddest thing was that it gave a whole lot of people a model of political life which is totally unrealistic. They wanted to keep sitting in buildings and then finding that policies change."
I must have missed how realistic the model of political life was "back then."
Interim State Sucks
This proposed interim state and planned timeline sucks. It is just fucking Oslo accords all over. Decide the easy issues first and then try and work out the hard ones. Wrong!
Before you can agree on giving the statehood to Palestine, the issue of "right of return" needs to be settled. The issue of the settlers in the West Bank and Gaza needs to be settled. The issue of East Jerusalem needs to be settled. Boundaries or some "demilitarized zone is not as difficult. The first 3 issues have to be resolved or the whole matter is unchanged.
I cannot understand the support from the Bush Administration and others for this rehashed idea. I understand the EU support of appeasement -- same old, same old. This is why every plan set out has failed. It starts with the basic fallacy, that all that is needed is to give the Palestinians land and autonomy, and all will be peaceful.
Have the Israelis proposed something like this? This seems like a major way to make it clear what the Palestinians want. Their own country or all of Israel (yes, I'm rather certain of the answer too).
Abboud Check Kiting Update
The Abboud Brothers were finally indicted on check kiting
. I wrote about this a while ago
, and nothing has happened since. Naturally, their lawyer has already started playing the race/ethnic card:
But the Abbouds' lawyers said that the brothers, who are Lebanese, are innocent victims of overzealous authorities' ethnic profiling in the aftermath of last year's terrorist attacks.
"It's more than just a coincidence that they began investigating them after Sept. 11," said James Willis, Michel Abboud's attorney.
The Feds, however, point out that they began their investigation in 2000. They have been charged with 43 counts of money laundering, 21 counts of bank fraud and two counts of conspiracy. As I mentioned before, Elie Abboud was a good political donor and founded the National Arab American Business Association (NAABA)
.Still no mention of the indictment, but here is a letter about NAABA from its President, Elie Abboud
Friday, June 14, 2002
There is no good name for it
points out that "Homeland Security" is a lousy, unnerving, and awkward name. VodkaPundit noted
that the Department of Homeland Security, abbreviated is DoHS, which looks and sounds a lot like D'oh! Everyone agrees, the name sucks. The wife hated it from the get go, it reminded her of Nightwatch
from Babylon 5
. I suppose Dept of Domestic Security (DDS or DoDS) isn't as bad, but it still isn't good.
I don't think there is a good name that won't make me feel uneasy. That might not be a bad thing in a way. I do not want to be comfortable with this.
Dearth of Posting
Just one of those days I guess. The morning was spent doing actual work. The afternoon was spent taking care of personal business. The evening was devoted to picking up some of the remaining items we need for the baby (car seat and stroller, backpack baby carrier) then the dreaded, "some assembly required." I'll be posting in the morning, but the afternoon will be spent sampling beer.
I make no predictions beyond that.
Quick Note: Seems to be something in the Blogosphere. Dave Copeland
, Matt Welch
, Media Minded
, even Instapundit
are taking a little time off this weekend.
Thursday, June 13, 2002
The Trip Really Made a Difference
I haven't seen this get too much coverage, but Fidel Castro has announced a petition drive
to make the present "socialist" system in Cuba "untouchable." This appears to be a direct response to the Varela petition to have a referendum on basic civil liberties. Apparently Castro is going to do more than just bog it down and bury it in red tape -- he is going to render it impotent. Guess Carter really made a difference to Castro's way of thinking.
The referendum by Castro is a pathetic attempt to keep his system in place without violence or a civil war when he finally dies. I've said it before, I am ambiguous on Cuba and the US policy. Cuba is a brutal, repressive regime that has kept its people in squalor and prevented freedom in the name of some "worker's paradise." At the same time, the reasons for the US embargo comes off as very hypocritical considering our dealings with China and even the old USSR starting in the late 80s.
The Spider-Man movie could be the most violent film ever aimed at young children, UK film regulators have warned.
It has been "aggressively" and "unfairly" marketed at young audiences, sending the message that violence is acceptable, according to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
The BBFC had come under fire for giving the blockbuster a 12 certificate, meaning no-one under that age could see it.
And how are the 'commoners' taking the news?
At least three local councils have used their powers to change the rating and let younger viewers into cinemas.
But the BBFC has defended its stance, saying the level of violence almost merited the higher certificate, a 15.
"Spider-Man is possibly the most violent film which is aimed at a young audience that the BBFC has classified," a statement said.
"The violence is set in a modern urban setting with a clear message that the use of violence is the normal and appropriate response when challenged.
"The Board does not believe that this is the sort of message to be sending to young children."
Remember kids, when there is a homicidal villain on a flying skateboard, dressed like a Halloween character, trying to kill you -- violence isn't the answer. Instead, try to engage them in a dialogue. Try to understand their point of view. Above all, do not fight back or try to help others. After all, the similarities to real life in a movie
based on a comic book
are clear. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm due to be bathed in cosmic rays in ten minutes
I've heard this song
Overcrowded jails; spiraling prison population; fear of prison riots; letting lower level criminals free to reduce the overcrowding. Where in America? No, this is happening in Britain
Who is the biggest a-hole?
As the story continues over the AZ student who got to graduate
after a lawyer hired by her parents threatened a lawsuit over receiving a failing grade. The question I have, is who is the biggest a-hole in this entire matter?
1. The student who failed, didn't do the work, but whined to her parents of how unfair it was?
2. The parents who decided their little princess was treated equally
, which was clearly unfair, and hired a lawyer to scare the school?
3. The lawyer slimiest enough to take the case; who tried to intimidate the teacher
and the school district into finding a way to let the girl graduate (now facing state bar ethics investigation
) with a thinly veiled threat of what would happen if there was a lawsuit -- "Of course, all information regarding your background, your employment records, all of your class records, past and present, dealings with this and other students becomes relevant, should litigation be necessary."?
4. The school official(s) who caved and insisted on allowing the little princess to retake a test prior to graduation
after the threats were made, but then refuse to take responsibility for it by not revealing who made the final decision?
I rank the school official(s) #1. Let me explain.
The girl we know nothing about, so I'm not prepared to have her declared the biggest a-hole. For all we know, this could have spun beyond just some whining to the folks that it wasn't fair.
The parents are clearly a-holes. Only a-holes hire a lawyer to threaten a lawsuit to try to change a kid's grade. I just am not convinced they are the biggest a-holes.
The lawyer is also a clear a-hole. Speaking as a lawyer, he is clearly unethical, slimy scum. Threat of lawsuit is one thing, but the letter was pure intimidation to drag someone down (which speaks volumes to the weakness of the case if a lawsuit had ensued). Still, he was point man in this for the parents, so he is somewhat mitigated by the ambiguity of how much should be moved back to the parents.
Now we get to the school official(s) who caved and really caused the mess. Consider, if the school had stood up to the threat and gone public. Public opinion would be with the school, the lawyer would be facing investigation, and have a weak case at best (more likely he would drop the matter). The district would probably have received financial support for attorney fees (or just offers of pro bono
assistance) from outraged NGOs, private citizens, foundations, etc.
Instead, they've blown morale to s**t at the school. They are all involved in ass covering mode:
Joice did not attend graduation, and when she heard district spokesman Jim Cummings on KTAR radio on Monday afternoon discussing the incident, she called in with her side of the story.
"The district said they didn't have the letter from the lawyer before they made their decision," Joice said, "but I think they did."
Cummings declined to say Tuesday whether Joice signed off on the retest or if someone above her made that decision. But he did say her job was not in jeopardy.
"We're not going to fire her," Cummings said. "She's an excellent teacher."
That's the best the spokesman can do, that the teacher's job is not
in jeopardy? The school district looks like it came right from some bad '80s movie starring Nick Nolte, Richard Mulligan and Ralph Macchio
Well that explains a lot
Happy Fun Pundit has the transcripts
of two phone conversations between Martin Sheen and Janet Reno. It all makes sense, now.
So the Senate failed to get the Federal Estate Tax, fully repealed
. No surprise. I am not particularly in favor of repealing the fed's estate tax, so much as permanently raising the the floor for taxation. Raise the floor to about $5 million. Any estate less than that, and no federal estate taxes. Remember, life insurance policies don't count in federal estate tax calculations (unless payable to the estate rather than a person or persons), since it is outside of the estate.
My problem with estate taxes is at the state level. Ohio for example
taxes all estates, regardless of size.
Taxable Estate Brackets (R.C. 5731.02)
Taxable Estates of: -- Tax Rate Imposed:
Not over $40,000 -- 2% of taxable estate
Over $40,000 but not over 100,000 -- $800 + 3% of excess over $40,000
Over 100,000 but not over 200,000 -- 2,600 + 4% of excess over 100,000
Over 200,000 but not over 300,000 -- 6,600 + 5% of excess over 200,000
Over 300,000 but not over 500,000 -- 11,600 + 6% of excess over 300,000
Over 500,000 -- 23,600 + 7% of excess over 500,000
Ohio has some minor deductions for spouses and minor children of decedent. The thing you don't see is that Ohio includes all insurance proceeds in the calculation of the estate. This of course means the estate pays more taxes. When I did private practice, we rarely had to worry or even consider federal estate taxes. It was the state estate taxes that were the pain in the ass.
Six Degrees of Coffee Seperation
Lileks latest bleat
is a little different. It isn't his usual, great meandering recount of his day and thoughts. This one looks at Caribou Coffee
, a Minnesota-based coffee house chain with 9 locations in the Cleveland area
87.8% of Caribou Coffee is owned by First Islamic
. First Islamic is an investment group, with money in many US companies. Go read Lileks story, to read the weirdness.
Where's the Local Coverage?
So, I'm doing my usual routine of going to certain Sites, when I see this story listed under Sports: "Two injured by explosion at Jacobs Field
What the Hell? I read the AP story, which reveals some dumb f**ks threw something (turned out to be a large firecracker) from the upper decks that exploded on Tuesday night.
The three men suspected of throwing it - Donald Kreiger, 22; Clifton Oliver, 22; and Andrew Mendez, 20, all of Elyria - remained in jail Wednesday night. They had not been charged but were being held on suspicion of felonious assault and aggravated arson.
This happened during the game, and interrupted it. The article had quotes from players and managers about their reaction. I figured to follow it up with the local coverage
. Nothing on the front page, nothing in the sports, nothing at all on something that happened in Cleveland, at the Jake, during a game. The Cleveland Indians Web site even had the story
I mean, this Fourth of July is going to be tense enough concerning fireworks and firecrackers. You would think a story like this would at least be used for the standard seasonal story pointing out the potential harm of firecrackers. Weird.
Wednesday, June 12, 2002
But Where's Dr. Strangepork
Great analysis of the White House handling of the "dirty bomb" plot in a comparison to the Muppets
. Hint, Ashcroft is Sam, the Eagle; Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is Fozzie Bear.
The Torture is having to Read the Story
Well, it seems Marwan Barghouti is claiming to be tortured in Israeli prison
. Marwan is the founder of the Al-Aqsa Matyr's brigade and the leader of Tanzim, the armed wing of Yasser Arafat's Fatah Terrorist group. The claims were made by Marwan's lawyer, who is allowed to see his client. Israel denies it. I pretty much lump the torture claim from a terrorist with the claims of the Jenin Massacre. The Guardian repeats the claims and details the method of torture that Israel actually outlawed (can't say the same under the Palestinian Authority, though), but offers no proof. Only that claims of torture "have risen again since the intifada began in 2000." The Guardian sort of acknowledges the evidence Israel has against Marwan.
Allegations of Mr Barghouti's mistreatment while under interrogation by the Shin Bet security service follow claims by Israel that Barghouti was the key link between the Palestinian Authority chairman, Yasser Arafat, and terrorists involved in attacks on Israelis.
Israel has released documents that it claims prove that Mr Barghouti channelled funds between Mr Arafat and wanted "terrorists".
Way to present both sides of that issue.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
is arguably the best and effective way to find out what the Arab governments really think. Since virtually all the Arab language newspapers and tv stations are state-run or controlled they often set out what the government wants its people to think/believe. MEMRI translates these publications. They do not exaggerate the statements. The New York Times and Washington Post have both verified independently the honesty of the translations. This has helped give the US a more truthful look at Arab lies and press spin, because their own papers can be reliably cited to refute them.
Here is the story of MEMRI's latest translations shown at the National Press Club
. Try to read all the way through without squirming or cursing in disgust.
Ever since I knocked up the wife, I've heard stories that we are somehow a part of the cultural zeitgeist of post-9/11 baby boom (as opposed to the simple explanation, that after almost six years together, we got lazy with the birth control). Now, is when the evidence should be hitting. The maternity wards should start filling up with new babies. Or is it? There are now some questions about the whole post-9/11 baby thing
Permitting the Dead
The so-called, "Grateful Dead
Reunion" show (the first time Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir staged a concert together since the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995), is on hold for now
. It seems the "Terrapin Station - A Grateful Dead Family Reunion," set for August 3-4 in East Troy, WI at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre, about 30 miles southwest of Milwaukee, has been denied a permit by the county highway committee. Alpine Valley only has a capacity for about 35,000, but they estimate that at least 200,000 will show up for this event.
Something will be worked out to have the event. I would love to attend, but it is an impossibility at this point ("Sure money is tight dear, and our baby is only a month old, but I gotta go drive 600 miles to see the Dead. I'll be back in a few days." Right). I was never a "deadhead" -- I never followed the band on tour -- and I only saw maybe a dozen shows
between my first show (July 8, 1990, Pittsburgh, Three Rivers Stadium
) and last (July 9, 1995, Chicago, Soldiers Field
). Every show was different. Every time I attended I was in a different condition.
The most fascinating thing to me, though, has always been the Lot. The great center of free market capitalistic economy in action. Something for everyone. Self-contained communities, that would effectively police themselves.
The worst part, was the "Beggars Alley" you encountered on your way in. The people scrounging, begging, pleading for a ticket and/or money (they were there after the show too, just begging for money). The people were sunburned (even in March in Chicago), dirty, whiny, depressing, and generally burnouts.These were the fans, that were pointed to by haters of the Dead. Honestly, most Dead fans didn't like them much.
The fans that caused the most problems, though, were not the deadheads. It was the locals who showed up for one show. They tended to be in their late 30s to early 40s. They had been planning for it the whole summer, much the way they would for a Jimmy Buffet show (actually, they tended to be the same people). They were showing up to get royally f****d up. They didn't give a piss about the band, it was just their chance to go wild. Loud, drunk, obnoxious, and completely uncaring. You prayed not to end up parking near one of them.
Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Joe Bob Briggs, doesn't get nearly the acclaim he deserves for his columns. This one
, via Dave Copeland
, is a riot. It's even funnier with the Altoona, PA reference. Especially considering a recent murder in Altoona that involved lesbians and sex in churches. It would make a great book (or at least a solid Cinemax after Dark feature).
We only finance peaceful ventures
The EU, with its head firmly in the sand and pursuing Arthur Anderson Accounting Methods (I know, a cheap shot) has maintained that none of its money contributed to the Palestinian Authority has, in any way supported terrorism or suicide bombers against Israel. It only goes for "good" things. It's that whole segregated funds theory. Money from B given to a person A , but earmarked for only Project X means it didn't go to Project Y. Though, if A receives money for X, it can use its other money for Y without fear of running out; B of course feels good since none of its money "really" went to Y.
Well, even that is in question.
translated from the German weekly, Die Zeit
(for the original go here
Who is right? Die Zeit researched in Berlin, Brussels, Washington, in Israel and in the Palestinian territories: everywhere it looked into clues and documents that indicated how EU funds that were intended in the name of peace were turned toward war-making and funds intended for the construction of democratic structures were turned to finance a terror network. The results of the investigation are alarming.
September 2, 2000 was a great day for the Palestinians. With all pomp -- only weeks before the outbreak of the second Intifada -- they celebrated another step toward statehood. Naim Abu Houmus, deputy education minister, convened at his ministry in Ramallah diplomats, students and teachers to commemorate an unveiling ceremony: The new schoolbooks, the first ever written by Palestinians for Palestinians, were unpacked. "A dream of my people has been realized", said Abu Houmus, as he placed the books for the 1st and 6th grades in the children's hands. "Now we will teach the truth".
A great day for the Europeans, too. They know: books could be weapons. Therefore the educational assistance is the cornerstone of European peacework in Palestine. Without Europe the school system would be nothing. Buildings, salaries and the schoolbook commission are all subsidized by Brussels -- to the tune of more than 330 million Euros since the 1993 Oslo Agreements. Six European states, coordinated by Italy, financed the printing of the schoolbooks. The Palestinians reassure the group of six that they would be allowed prior approval of the books. But so far, it seems, they don't want to know. The Italians, happy that the ancient books with blatant anti-semitism have been replaced, graciously look the other way as the treaties are violated.
Barely after the new books appeared, there came a hailstorm of criticism from western experts -- despite some progress on the moderation of the tone that everyone acknowledged. Whoever reads the books will confirm: the idea of peace is nowhere to be found. The peace process and the Oslo treaties are never mentioned. There are calls for religious tolerance, but only between Muslims and Christians. Jews appear only in an historical context. Their connection to the Holy Land is stuck in antiquity. The Jewish resettlement of Palestine is called "infiltration". There is no direct appeal to terrorism, but certainly "Palestine's Martyrs" are glorified, including "The Engineer Ayash", who dispatched suicide bombers in the 1990s and killed dozens of Israelis. The State of Israel does not exist. Its name appears on no map, terms such as "green line", "the interior of the country" or the "1948 land" are used repeatedly. Cities founded by Israel, such as Tel-Aviv, are never mentioned. The name of the State of Palestine and the emblem of Arafat's Palestinian Authority are everywhere, such as on the book covers. This state would seem to stretch from Jordan to the Mediterranean.
Abu Houmus, the deputy education minister, justified the suppression of Israel from the school books in the Los Angeles Times "Israel's borders are not yet defined. When they decide where the borders are, we will go by what the government agrees. We left this issue to the politicians." They simply selected maps commonly used in the Arab world. Chapters about peace with Israel would be written as soon as the final peace treaty is signed. In other words: In 2000 a war-curriculum was put in place.
Well, I was surprised to learn that some EU members actually had some questions; though not surprisingly, the EU ducked:
It took a few weeks until the textbook controversy reached the European continent. On November 15, 2000 the French Socialist delegate Francois Zimeray placed an inquiry to the EU Commission. He wanted to know why an educational system was being financed, when its text books were "nothing less than anti-semitic propaganda, which, in any EU Member State, would be prohibited under the law on 'incitement to racial hatred'" Except that the delegate was inquiring into the supervisory practices of the EU.
Foreign Commissioner Chris Patten answered that the EU Commission didn't finance the printing of the books. That is technically correct but evasive. Although the EU can't directly influence what six member nations choose to do, as a member of the international "Donor Forums" it pays for the Palestinian textbook commission and also many teachers. Does the EU care what is being taught by the teachers whose salaries it pays?
Zimeray persisted in attacking the EU Commissioner. "I asked you a precise question, and I expect a precise answer on an important matter. Are you prepared, yes or no, to ensure that the EU's aid is dependent on the respect of fundamental human rights?" Patten answered: "We will raise these issues with the Palestinians".
In order to see what had improved, the German Christian Democratic member of the European Parliament, Armin Laschet, went to Palestine in July 2001. He maintains that nothing happened, nobody changed the instructional materials. Even worse. The old anti-semitic books had been newly reissued, using the European aid. The bindings indicate which country is the sponsor. Armin Laschet even pressed Yassir Arafat. The latter claimed that he saw no reason to changed the new books and had no money to quickly replace the old ones. Arafat forgot to mention that the American government had long ago offered to pay for the immediate and complete replacement of the old books. Arafat declined this offer, preferring instead to use the low-obligation European aid to rebind the old war books.
Horrified, Laschet left Palestine and made a motion in the European Parliament to suspend the educational aid "as long as the textbooks don't change". The motion failed by 2 votes. The Socialists wouldn't go along and neither would various fractions from the Netherlands, Ireland and Scandinavia. This alliance doesn't want to bring any pressure to bear on Europe's great hope for the Middle East. That hope doesn't fade, even amid growing indications that Arafat doesn't want peace, which is a pre-condition for the subsidies. Nobody weighs the consequences that it is Arafat's own Al-Aksa-Martyr Brigades that keeps blowing up Israelis. The credulity, the naivete, the indulgence of the Europeans seems endless.
Then there is the issue of the Karine-A
Underneath the boxes of cheap clothing and sunglasses the soldiers found water-tight containers of weapons and explosives, enough to provision a small army. Rockets with a range of up to 20 kilometers, grenades, anti-tank weapons, machine guns, mines. Enough C4 explosive for 300 suicide bombs: 2200 kilograms, which is 5 times the weight of all of the suicide bombs that have exploded in Israel since the founding of the state.
But it is not the quantity of weapons that had rocked the Near East, but their origin and destination. The Karine-A came from Iran and the weapons were destined for the Gaza Strip. So admitted its captain under custody. The Israelis were pleased to let the man repeat his confession for journalists from the New York Times and Fox TV. In an interview the man, Omar Akawi, also named the originating party: The Palestinian Authority. "They told me that these weapons are for Palestine", recounted Akawi. "As a Palestinian officer I do as I am told". In the meantime American and European officials examined the evidence and confirmed the Israeli version.
The order to procure such weapons marked Yassir Arafat's strategic turnaround from a peaceful to a bloody solution to the conflict. This turnaround was accomplished in precisely the phase in which Europe placed its greatest trust in the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and promised him direct payments. How Arafat paid the friendly price of 10 million dollars for the Karine-A cargo is one of the mysteries of this affair. Whoever finds it reassuring should do the math. At the time of the weapons deal, Europe paid at least 10% of Yassir Arafat's day-to-day budget and 50% of all aid payments. Next to the Europeans, Arafat had only two other revenue sources -- substantial aid from the Arab states, and insignificant tax receipts. How great are the odds that Arafat has not soiled Europe's reputation?
EU Commissioner Chris Patten praises Europe's especially "strict mechanisms for ex-ante and ex-post controls". Every month, he says, funds are transferred only if the proper use of the aid in the previous month has been verified. The budget must be made fully transparent to the EU. Auxiliary budgets are not allowed. It is highly astonishing, therefore, how Arafat could so effortlessly drive an entire weapons ship past the budget.
If one believes the EU, there is an actual control process for the aid payments to Palestine: the International Monetary Fund (IMF). EU Commissioner Chris Patten writes that the IMF examines the payments with precision and sends a monthly "declaration of no objection". Karim Nashashibi performs this job for the IMF. He lives in Jerusalem. The man that monitors the Palestinians for Patten is himself a Palestinian. He comes from the same clan and carries the same last name as Arafat's long-time finance minister. He had even been destined for a political career under Arafat. Until Monday evening of this week the IMF man Nashashibi was going to become Arafat's new Finance Minister. Then the wind changed and Nashashibi's predecessor at the IMF is now first-in-line for the office. Arafat's financial advisor Fuad Shubaki, the man who bought the Karine-A, is proud to call IMF deputy Nashashibi "a friend".
That friend, who presumably is also supposed be a monitor is given to consider "We don't oversee how every Euro is spent", because "we are not auditors". The IMF only verifies that the sums in the budget go to the right departments and in the right amounts. The IMF in Washington does not see it any differently "We don't have audit responsibilities," they say, "we only help set up the Palestinian Authority's budget". It's always been up to the Palestinians to monitor themselves, that is to say not at all.
The piece goes into further details about how suicide operations were undertaken with Arafat and the Palestinian Authority's knowledge and approval. A disturbing and disgusting story that needs to be read in its entirety.
Blind Squirrel Finding a Nut
Robert Scheer is a moron. Still, even with his limited capacity for thought, he has concluded that Arafat must go
. Of course, his reasoning is still moronic:
Arafat should step aside, not because the cause of Palestinian statehood as defined in the Saudi proposal is wrong, but rather because his consistent failure to hold the moral high ground is an impediment to its realization.
The Saudi proposal isn't wrong? "Consistent failure to hold the moral high ground"? When has Arafat ever held the moral high ground? He's held sympathy in some corners, but never moral ground that even approached the Ninth Level of Hell.
That peace has failed is, of course, not solely the fault of Arafat. In a betrayal of its best instincts, the Israeli electorate also turned its back on Barak, embracing instead a bitter opponent of a dignified peace, Ariel Sharon, who has helped fulfill his own dismissive prophesies of doom by destroying the Palestinian Authority. Nor is the state-sanctioned violence of Israel morally superior to the violence of people who do not have tanks and planes with which to resist.
President Bush, who long ignored the plight of the Palestinians and allowed Arafat to be humiliated by invading Israeli troops in the past year, is belatedly looking for leaders in the rubble of the West Bank.
Yes, how dare the Israelis in an honest, open election actually vote for someone Scheer doesn't like. How dare Israelis say, "We tried to make peace with Arafat and he seeks destruction. He wants to kill, well f**k him, then." And of course, no Scheer column can exist without blaming Bush. Arafat humiliated himself by pushing his luck, by hoping the US would somehow convince Israel not to respond. Apparently Scheer thinks the only response to suicide bombers and terrorists is to beg for them to negotiate.
Absurd as it may sound and as difficult as it would be to switch gears, this is a time for passive resistance. This is a time for unarmed mothers and fathers to stand in front of tanks with prayer books and flowers in their hands, instead of proudly sacrificing their young to slaughter innocents.
Prayer books and flowers? Can't you at least write "Koran"? "Sounds absurd"? Nay, it is
A quick aside
Veteran blog readers already know this, but I have some friends who may read this (I have friends?); and the wife has heard me mention the term "Fisking" and has not known what the hell I'm talking about (nothing new there, though). So via the execellent piece from Matt Welch on Chomsky and the far-left's 9/11 book
, here is the brief history and definition:
Fisk, Chomsky's favourite Middle East reporter, has three columns in this collection, though sadly not his unintentionally hilarious account of being gang-stomped by a mob in a Pakistani border town, in which he concludes: "If I was an Afghan refugee in Kila Abdullah, I would have done just what they did. I would have attacked Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find."
His loaded reporting, so reverently cited by Ralph Nader and other denizens of the Chomskyite Left (as if no other journalists had been working the Middle East these past decades), was nonetheless not very well known in the United States until Sept. 11. Now, his output is so routinely debunked by Yankee bloggers that "Fisking" has become a word used to describe any incidence of an online writer picking apart a particularly asinine column.
Is your kid a terrorist?
Courtesy of Ken Layne
makes the best damn fitted baseball hats
. They can take severe abuse, and will still re-form with minimal effort -- even the wool ones. Their hats outlast every other type of hat I have owned. They make all of their top-line products
in the US.
So I was quite disturbed to read that they are being screwed over claims of sweat-shop activities because of a union dispute
. It strikes me as very short-sighted by the unions, since hurting their business will cause layoffs and job loss, especially when you consider New Era competes against Addidas, GEAR, Nike and Reebok. This has resulted in the Fair Labor Association
sitting on their application -- a prerequisite for selling university licensed apparel these days. The report was submitted to the FLA on Jan. 24
. The 4 major competitors are affiliated organizations of the FLA, which seems to be acting as an additional barrier to entry.
Okay, who replaced the Guardian with this? I mean, a column from Matthew Engel listing great things about America
? For him, not guns
, obviously, but a surprisingly positive list.
1. Race. It's been a 140-year journey and the US has not arrived yet. But Europe is way behind in its commitment to racial diversity and equality. A black cabinet minister in Britain? So what? Two of the five most important leaders here are black (Powell and Rice), and no one comments. Also, the tradition of immigration makes it far easier for any outsider to be accepted.
3. Invincible green suburbs. My observation (on incomplete evidence) is that the average patch of American suburbia is less crime-ridden and certainly less fearful than its British equivalent.
4. The ever-open shops.
7. Neighbourliness, ranging from small kindnesses to block parties.
Root Causes for Suicide Bombers
Here's a phrase I didn't think I'd be typing, Suzanne Goldenberg has an interesting piece on suicide bombers
. It definitely is flawed -- it downplays the Palestinian education and propaganda promoting suicide bombers; and it completely ignores the money the families receive for a suicide bombing -- but it does provide an interesting look at the personal preparations that a suicide bomber undertakes before doing this. A very surprising and encouraging part, is that Ms. Goldenberg does give information on how many innocents have been targeted; and honest descriptions of where the suicide bombers purposefully exploded.
They [suicide bombers] accounted for 43% of the 523 Israelis killed during the intifada up to Wednesday, according to Israeli security sources. Put another way, of the 225 Israelis killed in suicide attacks, 192 were civilians: babies, women, teenagers, and pensioners.
On December 1 2001, they died together, blowing themselves up in a pedestrian mall in Jerusalem, spewing nails and metal bolts into a crowd of teenagers, killing 11.
Like I said, the article has its flaws, but it stays away from much of the stock, "this just shows how desperate the people are" line of discussion. She also has a companion piece about the harm to civilians
Monday, June 10, 2002
A little something on Steroids and Baseball
I haven't posted on the whole steroids thing, because I wanted to listen to writers, commentators, players, and such first. And now that the furor has died down, I can say that nothing I've heard has surprised me.
Recap. Ken Caminiti was quoted extensively in a Sports Illustrated story on steroids; which followed up Jose Canseco talking up steroids to drum-up publisher interest (and a big fat advance) for a future tell-all book that he promises will name names. Players are interviewed, some saying that they support steroid testing because they are clean; others saying they need to discuss it with the Union, because it's part of the collective bargaining agreement; others saying it is unfair to have their integrity questioned because of what some former players did. A fair amount of indignation that Caminiti would air this publicly, that he would break a code of the locker room. Caminiti, then backed away from his comments in a radio interview. The second weakest argument has been that just because steroids can make you stronger, they don't make you better able to hit the ball. (Then why lift weights if not to get stronger to hit the ball faster and improve reflexes?) The absolute weakest, is that they aren't illegal in MLB. (They are, however, illegal under federal law without a valid prescription.)
This will be one more thing for the players and owners to fight over when the strike comes in August or September. They will institute a toothless, show policy; and some utility player will be sacrificed.
What would I like to see? The CBA would have to be changed to allow it, but I would like to see it be an optional, negotiated for provision in the contract that a player will be tested 4-6 times during a calendar year
, not the season but over the year so they can't just cycle off, for steroids, Hgh (Human growth hormone), and and any performance enhancing drug that the team wants to check. I don't care about cocaine or marijuana -- those do not constitute performance enhancers. If a player tests positive, it can be kept quiet, but the player assumes responsibility for the financial cost of the insurance on his contract (one of the quietly more expensive aspects of sports contracts) for a full year and loses 25% of his salary, but they still can play. The public humiliation and shame thing is nice, but the players do the performance enhancers to make more money -- so it is important to provide a disincentive. If caught a second time, then it goes public, a 50% loss of salary, pays for his insurance, and a 60 day suspension. Third time, full year suspension; with a team option to void the contract at the end of the suspension.
More importantly, minor leaguers. Six times a calendar year. Each violation, a 30 day suspension during the season. Whatever program baseball wants to set up to educate and rehab is fine. Any minor leaguer caught will be tested every 30 days, and this carries over even if he makes the majors, for 2 years.
Real fantasy baseball.
More Nader Letters
Ralph Nader's NBA complaints
, have been well mocked. Now Jim Caple, ESPN Page 2 has obtained more copies of letters
sent by Nader to NASCAR, NFL, and MLB. An excerpt:
I urge you as strenuously as possible to immediately pass the needed reforms that would set safer, more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly standards for all NASCAR races, beginning with a conversion to ethanol by 2004 and a 55-mph speed limit.
The Bloginality Test
As an ENTP, you are Extraverted, iNtuative, Thinking, and Perceiving. This makes your primary focus on Extraverted Intuition with Introverted Thinking.
This is defined as a NT personality, which is part of Carl Jung's Rational (Knowledge Seeking) type, and more specifically the Inventors or Visionary
As a weblogger, your love for a discussion may cause you to debate things more often. You might also flit from idea to idea, not completing one before going to the next. Your largest sense is intution, which makes you a good at understanding what is going on around you - and this could act to your benefit when making blog-like posts over a journal.
I can't really argue with that.
Violence has been flaring in Belfast, Ireland
; and it appears definite links to the IRA are there. It hasn't gotten a lot of attention, because of those incidents between India and Pakistan, and of course Israel and Palestinian terrorists.
I note this with some dark, cynical amusement. The Guardian
, in the last week had hyped its "peace" meeting on solving the Israel-Palestine conflict. The conference spent a fair amount of time comparing to the Ireland problems, as a way to get to peace. Surprisingly, most of the articles that they published -- with that view of Ireland being a model or framework, are now gone from their Israel and Middle East site
. The closest remaining thing is this article
It's still in my dreams. For five months I have been living, eating and sleeping little else and, even now that it's done, I can't shake it from my system. Maybe that's no surprise. For the Guardian Middle East Dialogue - the meeting which brought Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers together with the men who negotiated Northern Ireland's Good Friday agreement - was an experience like no other.
I think that was true for the participants, who have all spoken of the effect this unique encounter, at Weston Park, Shropshire, had on them; but it was certainly true for the Guardian. Bringing these people together forced us to invert all our usual working habits. For security reasons we would have to maintain secrecy, the very opposite of a newspaper's animating spirit. We would, for once, be inside the room rather than outside, peering round the door - though with clear guarantees from all involved that they would speak on the record afterwards (as we reported on Saturday). And we would not simply be observing or interpreting a political moment - we would make that moment happen.
Can't understand why they would excise those reports of how well the peace process continues in Ireland.
Who do you back?
about how Republicans have been developing their "K Street Project." The project is to examine compile the political leanings and donations of lobbyists and lobbying firms into a report for all Republican lawmakers. I like the idea, and Democrats would be foolish not to consider a similar report. It gives a lawmaker a little advanced notice on the shadings of a lobbyist before a meeting. It doesn't seem to be intended to deny a lobbyist access, but it's just about knowledge. If you know the lobbyist is a heavy donor to Democrats or leftist causes, you know a little more about what side they will likely be arguing a particular issue.
Actually, I'm surprised this is a new thing. I would have thought that the parties would have compiled profiles on the lobbyists a long time ago. It just seems so logical.
Sunday, June 09, 2002
It leaves your breath fresh
Reason # 623 why, "I'm glad there are no societal or religious restraints on my alcohol consumption
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Nineteen people have died and 17 hospitalized after drinking cologne containing methanol, news reports said Sunday.
Drinking alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia and punishable by lashings, fines and prison terms. Some people drink cologne as an alcohol substitute.
Police said 19 people died after drinking the cologne, according to the newspaper Okaz. Methanol is a poisonous substance often used in antifreeze.
The paper did not provide the nationalities of those who drank the cologne, but last week it said four people - a Saudi, two Nigerians and a Malian - died after drinking it. The four are believed to be among the 19 fatalities.
Eleven of the victims died in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, while the rest died in the southern city of Jizan. It was not immediately clear when they died.
For true greetings
Staying with the UNRWA, they offer their own line of greetings cards
. The cards that say, be glad you aren't here.
Amusing Little Refugee Camp Life
Buried in this story on Arafat reorganizing his cabinet
for the appearance of addressing corruption, was this nugget:
Early Monday, a powerful explosion rocked the Jebaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, destroying one building and damaging nearby homes. At least 25 people were injured, including three in critical condition, hospital officials said. Witnesses said the blast came from inside the building, but Palestinian officials would not comment on the cause.
Hmm. Now what could have caused a big-assed explosion from the inside of a building in a Palestinian refugee camp? Had to be a gas line. Jebaliya is an official refugee camp operated by the UNRWA.
Thank god we have this reaffirmation from the UNRWA Commissioner-General
to reassure us as to their mission:
The events of recent months and the current sensitive security situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have once again brought up issues concerning refugee camps and UNRWA institutions. I am mindful of the current attention in the local and international media focused on UNRWA's mandate and its role in the refugee camps. I consider it necessary in the circumstances to reiterate the principles that govern implementation of UNRWA's humanitarian mandate.
Translation: Oh s**t, people are actually paying attention, and realizing we have some responsibility.
In carrying out their duties, UNRWA staff seek at all times to convey to the refugee beneficiaries the principles and objectives of the UN Charter and international humanitarian law. UNRWA's services in its areas of operation endeavour to be consistent with these principles. The Agency's educational, health and social services are targetted at the most marginalised and under-privileged sections of the refugee population.
Translation: And if you pay attention to the numerous resolutions that get introduced, and the various UN agencies hijacked by Arab countries for their own agenda, the message is Israel/Jews are evil.
In keeping with the above objectives:
The Agency's Education Department has provided elementary education to three generations of refugee children;
*In addition to the regular curricula, it has sought consistently to inculcate the values of tolerance, democracy, human rights, mutual respect and conflict resolution;
*In the current state of great strife, the Agency and its leadership have continuously re-emphasised to all those involved in the Agency's Education Programme, particularly the teachers and students, the need to adhere to these values;
*It follows that teachers and other school staff ensure that students are instructed to refrain from any association with militancy or extremism in any form.
Translation: Thank god, I released this as a statement. I don't think I could read that aloud without fear of a lightning bolt or just busting a gut from laughing at my own bulls**t.
The Agency's core programmes have been implemented in accordance with internal monitoring procedures that are extensive and span all programme activities and areas of operation, regarding:
*Identification and targetting of the intended beneficiaries;
*Ensuring the integrity, neutrality and apolitical nature of its installations;
*Field Directors and their staff conducting regular inspections to ensure the integrity of Agency installations and protect them against abuse. Agency warehouses and stores are covered by these periodic inspections;
*Proscription therein of all political activities, activities that are offensive from a religious, ethnic or national standpoint or those that disparage the United Nations or the host governments;
*Community Rehabilitation centres, Women and Youth activity centres in the refugee camps that use Agency premises for their activities, being legally bound and subject to UNRWA control mechanisms;
*Exercising utmost control to ensure that UNRWA transport is not used for purposes that could impinge on its neutrality as a UN humanitarian agency;
*The prohibition of any activity in the Agency's installations classified as illegal under local law;
*In the current charged and sensitive political environment in its areas of operation, the maximum degree of vigilance being exercised to protect the Agency and its programmes from association with any militancy or political activism.
Translation: Really. No, trust us. We really mean it.
UNRWA's employees, whether international or area staff are:
*Required to avoid any active involvement in political activities or any other action that may call into question their integrity, independence and impartiality as United Nations officials;
*Subject to disciplinary action or dismissal for all violations of these staff regulations;
*Required at the time of recruitment to reveal whether they have a criminal record, and any criminal charges proved against them while in service constitute grounds for disciplinary action or dismissal;
*Reminded that if they cannot reconcile their political affiliations or national aspirations with their duty to UNRWA, they should not remain in the organisation.
Translation: Wanting to kill Israelis doesn't count.
UNRWA as a member of the United Nations family maintains its international character. In this regard:
*The Agency has always been aware of the need to demonstrate an enhanced international presence during periods of emergency and crisis when called upon to intervene to provide humanitarian assistance;
*During the first intifada, such an enhanced international presence was embodied in the Refugee Affairs' Officer Programme that provided general assistance to the refugee population;
*During the current strife, UNRWA recruited international Operations Support Officers to facilitate the movement and delivery of humanitarian assistance;
*The Agency would like to project an enhanced international presence through the expansion of the Operations Support Officer Programme in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, subject to funding considerations;
*The reduction in its international staff strength during the last decade has been a result of the budgetary constraints facing UNRWA.
Translation: Dammit, we're a bureaucracy. If we screw up, then it's a matter of not having enough money.
Well, I feel reassured.
You know how some people are capable of doing things in a steady, sustained pace. Others fall into a cycle -- a semi-manic pace of production, followed by downtime. I fall into the latter. This weekend the wife and I went nuts getting the nursery almost done, doing lots of housework and just an incredible burst. So, I haven't been on the computer since late Friday night. Naturally, that is when I get a link from InstaPundit
, and I give the visitors practically nothing new. Not, that I'm not happy to have the dresser/changing table, the crib and the work done; it's just the timing.