Friday, January 21, 2005


Beslan Fallout Continues

An AP story in the Washington Post sheds some light on the continuing fallout from the Beslan tragedy of this past September. For two days now about 100 family members of children who were killed in the Beslan school in September have been protesting - blocking off a highway in southern Russia and demanding that Alexander Dzasokhov, president of the North Ossetian region, resign. They don't think that the situation was handled correctly (and how could they, with so many of their children's lives lost).

For those that do not know, Dzasokhov was the Moscow-supported candidate who won the last election in the typical way that Moscow candidates are installed in the Caucasus. Sure, there was an election, but the main opposition candidate was "disqualified" (a decision that, surprise surprise, the Moscow courts upheld). Anyhow, Putin sure isn't going to have his hold over the region upset by these parents. Today he called for "restructuring" of the state's programs (making no mention of the protestor's demand for an international investigation of the Beslan tragedy... Putin doesn't do investigations, and he certainly doesn't do international.)
"A whole series of terrorist acts organized and carried out last year by international criminal groups showed the necessity of a serious restructuring of state activity in the security sphere," ITAR-Tass and the Interfax news agency quoted Putin as telling a meeting of prosecutors.
That doesn't sound good for anybody, least of all for the poor parents, out in the cold, blocking a highway in southern Russia.

UPDATE: In other cheery Russian news, al-Jazeera is reporting that "Moscow is planning to erect a new statue of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, returning his image to its streets after an absence of four decades."
"A monument will be erected to those who took part in leading the war against Adolf Hitler, including Stalin," said Oleg Tolkachev, Moscow's senator in the upper house of parliament.

Interfax news agency reported earlier that a Stalin monument would also be built in the Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border to mark the Soviet victory against Nazi Germany 60 years ago.

In another sign of Stalin’s growing appeal, state television channels have shown a number of prime-time television shows in recent months depicting him in a positive light.


Rummy at the Inauguration ceremony, which can be summed up in two words: white people.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


umm yeah, seems we forgot to tell you that we're reimplementing a law from 1950 that hasn't been enforced in 37 years. we'll take that land now.

It seems that the Ariel Sharon government in Israel has decided to once again implement the Absentee Property Law of 1950 (one of the most notorious laws that enabled the young Israeli state to take ownership of land that had belonged to Palestinian Arabs). The Israeli attorney general had issued a directive to stop implementing the law in 1967 when East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel and became subject to Israeli law and PM Yitzhak Rabin in 1993 reissued that directive. However, in June a ministerial committee on Jerusalem affairs decided that it would stand by the 1950 Absentee law and in July of 2004 the issue was raised in a court case involving Palestinians who, because of the wall being built through the West Bank by Israel, were no longer able to reach their fields that were techinically in the Jerusalem municipality. So they requested permission to continue working their fields. In response, the government of Israel reached for the Absentee Property Law of 1950, claiming that the Palestinians no longer owned those lands (seeing as how they were absentees). The response of senior judicial official involved in the case?
It's not fair that a man becomes an absentee because his tie to his land has been cut without his doing. But morality is one thing, and what is written in our laws another.
And liberty and justice for all!

Oh, and for some crazy reason:
the decision was not publicized until now and is not listed on the Web site of the Prime Minister's Office.
Go figure.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Quitting the Paint Factory

Mark Slouka wrote the most fabulous essay on the politics of work, leisure, and idleness in the November 2004 issue of Harper's. It is very very very much worth reading. So if you can spare a few minutes, go do that. And if you cannot, then you probably need to read it more than anybody else.


Who Controls Gaza

Amira Hass sets out in today's Ha'aretz to dispell any emerging myths about who controls the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli intelligence officials and those who quote them in the press are right when they say that it's not Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority security services who are in control in the Gaza Strip. The intelligence sources and those who quote them are misleading however, when they say that armed gangs and the Hamas run Gaza. The IDF runs Gaza.

Not only according to international law, not only as far as the Oslo Accords are concerned by leaving the IDF as the supreme sovereign in all of Gaza and the West Bank, but rather in a concrete, spatial, physical manner. It controls Gaza through its fortified positions, which dominate densely populated residential areas; it controls Gaza with its airborne drones and their unceasing buzzing; the bulldozers that have not ceased demolishing, flattening, exposing, uprooting for the last four years; the helicopters that fire missiles; the military orders that turn roads and farmlands and half the coastline into areas "prohibited to Palestinians" so that any Palestinian using them ends up dead; orders that close all the passages into Gaza; the tanks that fire into civilian neighborhoods with Qassams, sorry, tank shells and other forms of munitions with a frequency that makes it impossible to count them, as opposed to the Palestinian Qassams, which fired one by one are counted one by one.
This should not be forgotten.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Larry Summers: complete jerk

It's hard to know whether to expect more from the president of Harvard University, or whether to expect just this. This being Lawrence Summers's remarks at a conference arguing that men outperform women in maths and sciences because of biological differences and that discrimination is no longer a career barrier to female academics. Interestingly enough, under Summers Harvard has hired less women.
During Dr Summers's presidency, the number of tenured jobs offered to women has fallen from 36% to 13%. Last year, only four of 32 tenured job openings were offered to women. (from the Guardian)
In a quote in the Guardian, Richard Freeman, another Harvard asshole, exposes the kind of sexism that is at the root of this problem.
"Some people took offence because they were very sensitive," said Dr Freeman, an economist at Harvard and the London School of Economics.
Yep, those hysterical women, overreacting to everything. They probably all had PMS, right Dr. Freeman? In conclusion, Summers is a jerk (and Freeman is as well).

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