Friday, May 20, 2005


From the Guardian: "Satellite photos and other data showed that ranchers, loggers and especially soy bean farmers felled more than 10,000 square miles [of Brazilian rainforest]."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Galloway vs. Hitchens

As the Guardian correctly notes, the "Mr. Galloway Goes To Washington" show was much more about political theater than about exploration of facts. But man oh man, was it really really good political theater (do read a transcript of the show here). And not only did Galloway eviscerate Norm Coleman, but he took a jab or two at one Christopher Hitchens as well.
Before the hearing began, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow even had some scorn left over to bestow generously upon the pro-war writer Christopher Hitchens. "You're a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway in formed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead. "And you're a drink-soaked ..." Eventually Mr Hitchens gave up. "You're a real thug, aren't you?" he hissed, stalking away.
Because seriously folks, you don't hear the term "popinjay" used as much (and used so appropriately, I might add) as you should here in Washington. You gotta love it.

UPDATE [16 September 2005]: Ok, so I realized that people were coming to this post thinking that it is about the recent Hitchens-Galloway debate. Let me just say that I'm listening to this debate over the internet right now. And let me recommend against doing the same. Honestly, I haven't gotten to Galloway yet, but Hitchens has started off the debate by talking about things that "would have" happened if the anti-war movement had its way or if we hadn't invaded Iraq and on and on. Sorry, if you are going to debate, let's have some reasoned arguments, not counter-historical propositions thrown out as indisputable fact. I can't imagine Galloway has anything worthwhile to contribute, either, and I'm not sure I'm willing to listen to 15 minutes of Hitchens to get there.


Poppies. (photo by my dad)


What a farce!

I'll be the first to admit that my knowledge of the Sami al-Arian case is pretty minimal. I know that al-Arian was a computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida and that he set up an Islamic think-tank type operation and that he is accused of using this think-tank to fundraise for Islamic Jihad. I don't know much more than that, so this has nothing to do with whether I think al-Arian is guilty or innocent. This is about turning a trial that should ideally be dispassionate and thoughtful into a circus. According to Ha'aretz:
Some 100 survivors of terror attacks, relatives of those killed, police investigators, Magen David Adom paramedics, and ZAKA volunteers will testify in what American authorities regard as the most important terrorist trial in the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The group will be flown to Tampa, Florida early next month to serve as prosecution witnesses in the trial of four Arab-Americans accused of belonging to Islamic Jihad and raising funds to finance terror attacks, including some that took place in Israel. . . .

The Israeli witnesses, flying to Florida at the expense of the U.S. government, include survivors of terror attacks going back to 1989, as well as relatives of some of those killed, eyewitnesses, doctors from the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir in South Tel Aviv and police officers.
I hate to sound all Republican on you all, but allow me to emphasize the following phrase: at the expense of the U.S. government. And what are these "witnesses" going to add to the trial? Sensational accounts of blood splattering and bombs exploding and yelling and screaming and "Oh the humanity!" essentially turning this into a trial about suicide bombings. And let me just remind everyone that being in favor of suicide bombings, though not necessarily something you would put on your resume, is not a crime (yet). Unless these witnesses are going to place al-Arian (or one of the other three being accused in this case) at the scene of the crime, which I do not think they are going to do, what exactly is the need for them being there? Here's what should be there:
Dozens of boxes of documents in Hebrew are also being flown to the trial, for the prosecution's use.
That's something worthwhile. That's evidence that is material to the case at hand here. Somehow I'm not sure what testimony "about their experiences" from 100 witnesses to attacks is really going to add, other than a heightened emotional atmosphere that is going to turn this trial into a farcical referendum on one's political opinions rather than on building a strong case linking al-Arian and the other accused directly to terror attacks. I'd like my tax dollars to go toward putting together a fair trial, not a circus.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Castel Ruspoli, the parterres from the main floor of the house. (photo by my dad)


Pentagon tries to blame Newsweek for anti-American anger

I'm sorry, but the Pentagon is so full of shit on this one.
Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for the Pentagon, claimed the report, in last week's issue, was "demonstrably false" adding that it had had "significant consequences that reverberated throughout Muslim communities around the world".

"Newsweek hid behind anonymous sources, which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny.

"Unfortunately, they cannot retract the damage they have done to this nation or those that were viciously attacked by those false allegations." (as quoted in the Guardian)
Yes, yknow, Newsweek has a lot to answer for. They've really done a lot of damage to this nation. Because there was no anger before Newsweek published their story. There was no anger about Abu Ghraib, or about treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, or about outsourcing torture of suspects to other countries. Or about Palestine or the invasion of Iraq under false premises, or about supporting awful regimes (let's just pick on at random... oh, say, Uzbekistan). Yes, you see, none of these things generated anti-American sentiment around the world and resonating especially with Muslims. Or not until Newsweek printed this story, that is. When little Timmy turns to daddy with tears in his eyes and asks "Why do they hate us?" now daddy can look him in the eye and answer simply: "Newsweek!"

I'm sorry, was that copies of Newsweek I saw burning or the American flag?

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