...Views from mid-Atlantic
25 September 2004

Now here's an interesting little strategic move - China and Cuba snuggling up together. People's Daily says Chinese President Hu Jintao told Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, a visiting member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and vice president of the Council of State of Cuba that he valued the achievements made by the Communist Party of Cuba in "leading the Cuban people to pushing forward the socialist cause." For his part, Machado said the Cuban people admired the achievements of the Chinese people, and wanted to strengthen cooperation with China in all fields.

He sounds a little like Coltrane on acid, but once Albert Ayler's got your attention, he doesn't let go. The Guardian says he's overdue for a reappraisal. "Ayler was a virtuoso who sounded deceptively like a primitive, filtering the grotesque honks and squeals of R&B saxophonists through a completely different sensibility. Whenever people try to describe the sound he made, particularly those who heard him in person, they remark first on its physicality. 'You had to be in the room to feel the full effect,' said the trombonist Roswell Rudd, who worked with Ayler. 'The first time I heard him was shattering.' A celebrated American poet likened his saxophone to the blare of a foghorn. Someone else compared its effect to that of a massive snowplough."

With wins in two regions of the former East Germany, in Saxony and in Brandenburg, neo-Nazi parties took seats in German legislatures this week for the first time in 36 years. Mainstream politicians have spent the week reacting with fury, denial and rejection. These are only seats in provincial parliaments, yet there exist now, according to the Globe and Mail, "chilling echoes of the circumstances that saw Hitler sweep to power in the late 1920s and early 1930s: a sustained period of growing unemployment and economic malaise; angry and jobless young men in the eastern provinces infuriated by the liberal, tolerant society of the west; a widespread distrust of "outsiders," immigrants and others perceived to be non-German.

That's one theory. The other is that that dreadful man Gerhard Schroder's making them do it.

24 September 2004

Hollywood writers have long suffered at the bottom of the Hollywood pecking order, the only members of the filmmaking establishment who are so routinely fired and replaced. But no longer are their complaints confined to rants at Writers Guild of America meetings or over the pastrami at Canter's Deli.

A private website, WriterAction.com, lets guild members air their feelings about the executives and producers who hire them. It's a sort of Zagat guide to power in Hollywood, where WGA members post anonymous evaluations, grading Hollywood suits on qualities including honesty, story sense and clout. The worms turn frank, you might say.

President Robert Mugabe's rosy claims of a bumper crop harvest in the country were flatly contradicted by the mayor of Zimbabwe's second city yesterday when he disclosed that 162 people have starved to death in Bulawayo since January. Zimbabwe's charming Information Minister, however, called the mayor a liar, and said starvation was unknown in the country.

This is such a wonderful bureaucratic bungling story it should be made into a film. Peter Sellers would have been perfect...John Cleese, maybe... And for a sequel, one needs look no further than a different page in the same newspaper.

Action Democratique du Quebec wants the province to become an autonomous state within Canada, with its own constitution and sole power to collect taxes. Diane Lemieux, a spokeswoman for the Parti Quebecois, says the ADQ is just recycling old ideas. "They're trying to sell a dream," she told the Globe and Mail. Recycle a nightmare seems more like it to me.

Hugh Hewitt is the host of a nationally-syndicated radio show, an author and a blogger. In the Weekly Standard, he suggests that CBS President Les Moonves needs to get everybody who works for CBS News in one place for a little strategy talk, in the wake of the forged National Guard documents debacle. Hewitt drafts a speech which includes a couple of little nuggets. First this: "I am not firing Andrew Heyward, Dan Rather, or Mary Mapes, though Heyward is no longer CBS News president and Dan's not our anchor anymore. These three, and a few others involved in this meltdown, have been given an assignment to produce a one-hour special detailing what happened. It is scheduled to run in two weeks. I will review it before it airs. If it doesn't answer every question, then that will be the end of some fine CBS careers."

Then this: "We aren't losing the audience - we are driving the audience away! Ask yourself why, and don't tell me it is because we don't have a bureau in Vienna. It's because we don't have a clue. We aren't the news anymore. We are the echo chamber of the center-left establishment of America. We are seminar material for j-schools. We are well-paid, well-educated yes-men to Manhattan and Beltway elitism, and guess what, America hates us. They should. You couldn't get more arrogance in one room at a World Affairs Council meeting."

Pretty good speech.

23 September 2004

The United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Financial Action Task Force are all examples of international organisations that seek to establish rules and regulations for people who have not consented to their rule. The Washington Times points out this morning that their rise to prominence has come about at the same time as democracy is establishing itself in more and more countries around the world. The article is written by Richard W. Rahn, a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute.

"According to Freedom House," he writes, "65 percent of the world's people now live in at least limited democracies, where they are free or partially free, and their laws and rules are established by consent of the governed. Yet, at the same time, international organizations have arisen, which increasingly establish rules and regulations not consented to by the governed...In addition, national governments, such as the US government, and governmental federations, such as the European Union, increasingly assert they have tax and financial regulatory powers over individuals and institutions that are neither their citizens nor residents."

"What is new is the rise of these multinational organizations unconstrained by adequate checks and balances. National leaders and their bureaucratic agencies are too often in bed with their counterparts in these organizations, so necessary oversight is not provided. Citizen legal empowerment may be our best hope to preserve both the liberties and economic opportunities of the world's people against the global bureaucratic power elites."

The brother of Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, doesn't think like him. Although he says he admires his brother, "I don't get my opinions from him and he doesn't get his from me. And the South African government is not a family business."

Moeletsi Mbeki, head of the South African Institute of International Affairs, told a meeting in Durban that Africa was in a spiral of decline. "The average African is poorer than during the age of colonialism," he said. He accused Africa's post-colonial rulers of neglecting development and wasting money on "enormous entourages of civil servants".

A US missile strike on a car in Western Baghdad (are they learning lessons from the Israelis?) has killed the man who is said to have been the spiritual mentor of Abu Musab Zarqawi, and who had the idea of beheading hostages. Sheik Abu Anas Shami was 35, and seems to have been a Jordanian.

It is a pity the Americans couldn't have waited until he had Zarqawi with him. The Guardian published a profile of him this morning that describes him as a thug who will stop at nothing to create pure Islamic zone in Middle East. He's not a thinker, the newpaper says. "Zarqawi is more a ruthless operational commander, putting strategy into action...His aim, like Bin Laden's, is to recreate a pan-Islamist caliphate across the Middle East and beyond, headed by himself or a like-minded individual committed to a return to what he regards as a purer form of Islam."

Buju Banton's having more difficulty with his reputation for as a gay-basher. Manchester police have cancelled a concert that had been scheduled to be held tonight, for fear of public disorder.

Archaeologists have found tools in North Carolina that may date to more than 2,000 years before what were thought to have been the earliest inhabitants lived in North America. That would mean humans have been on the continent for more than 25,000 years, since before the last ice age. But don't take this as gospel yet. Discoveries of this sort can ignite debates conducted with all the gentility of the Stanley Cup finals.

Actually, says military historian Victor Davis Hansen, President Bush's speech in front of the UN this week was an offer of "Wilsonian idealism, concrete help for the dispossessed, and candor about past sins. The president wished to convey a new multilateralist creed that would have made a John Kerry or Madeleine Albright proud, without the Churchillian 'victory at any cost' rhetoric." But the UN ain't what it used to be, he says, writing in the Wall Street Journal.

"The UN is not the idealistic postwar organization of our collective Unicef and Unesco nostalgia, the old perpetual force for good that we once associated with hunger relief and peacekeeping. Its membership is instead rife with tyrannies, theocracies and Stalinist regimes. Many of them, like Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, have served on the UN's 53-member Commission on Human Rights. The Libyan lunocracy - infamous for its dirty war with Chad and cash bounties to mass murderers - chaired the 2003 session. For Mr. Bush to talk to such folk about the need to spread liberty means removing from power, or indeed jailing, many of the oppressors sitting in his audience."

22 September 2004

Iraq's interim government has done a good job securing thousands of documents related to the UN Oil-for-Food scandal probe, US lawmakers who have just returned from a fact-finding trip said yesterday. "There are still a lot of folks wishing this investigation would just go away," said Rep Joe L Barton, Texas Republican who chairs the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of those investigating the scandal. "I think the UN should cooperate a little bit more" with multiple congressional probes into the scandal, said Mr. Barton.

I tend not to subscribe to that opinion. It seems obvious that criminal convictions are not best secured after investigations that have been conducted in a circus-like, free-for-all atmosphere. But I agree that the kind of total secrecy the Volcker Commission seems to be demanding is not a good thing, so the pressure being brought to bear by these US legislative groups probably has a good effect. Mr Barton has a simpler opinion - "My mandate comes from the people of the United States of America, and quite frankly, I will take the United States of America over the United Nations any day."

Syria and Lebanon say that the troop movements that began this week in Lebanon "signal a new willingness by the Syrian government to comply with international demands to leave Lebanon, an issue brought sharply into focus last month after Syria intervened in its neighbor's fractious domestic politics." The redeployment has so far affected only a small portion of the Syrian contingent in Lebanon - about 1,000 of roughly 20,000 troops.

Israel's Ariel Sharon thinks it's just a window-dressing exercise. Haaretz quotes him as having told Israel Radio that the Syrian move was not a concrete change. "We don't at this point see a change in Syria's position," he said. "Syria is under US pressure these days because it is helping Iraqi terrorists ... They have an interest in taking steps that will take off or weaken the pressure."

Janet Daley takes an amusing, perceptive swing at the tacit British conviction that it is evil to want lower taxes in her column in the Telegraph this morning. "So absurdly demonised has the notion become that to say that you want lower taxes doesn't even count as putting forward a rational political alternative: it is to declare yourself beyond the ethical pale. That is why the Tories are still so hopelessly mealy-mouthed about promising tax cuts. I remember when William Hague first took on this mythology, in a brave little speech entitled something like 'The Moral Case for Lower Taxation'.

"He was not treated as if he were opening a challenging debate, or putting forward a contentious but intriguing proposition. His proposal - which was based on assumptions that were commonplace, almost banal, before the post-war consensus rewired the brains of Britain's governing class - was regarded as lunatic."

It is interesting to see how some of the old media respond to the phenomenon of blogging. A CBS executive described bloggers as "guys in pyjamas" to express his disdain for their claims that the now-infamous Bush National Guard documents were forgeries. He was speaking, I guess, for those who worry bloggers are a threat to their control of the news business. I don't know of any blogger who believes such a thing - blogs pretty much couldn't exist without the old media.

But there are some, and Britain's Guardian is one of them, which understand the power of blogging very well, and which have moved to make their own use of it. Victor Keegan, the editor of the online version of the paper, says in an article this morning: "There is no doubt that the tectonic plates of journalism are moving. There is awesome potential in the internet as a gatherer, distributor and checker of news - not least through instant delivery channels such as mobile phones. This does not mean old media will die. But it will have to adapt quickly to what has so far been an asymmetrical relationship."

A former New York schools official faced seven years in prison, until she made a deal with prosecutors, for having used forged credentials to get her job. I post this story in the New York Times because we had a similar case here in Bermuda, in which a Bermuda College lecturer evidently lied about his qualifications to get his job. He was fired, but not charged with any offence. An independent body dealt with the final disposition of his case, but there were signs that, had it been left to the Minister of Education, nothing at all would have been done. There seems no question that using false credentials is a species of forgery. Our Government should have moved to close what seems a loophole in our law, but has not done so.

Claudia Rosett, whose work on the UN Oil-for-Food scandal is much admired, is offended by what she sees as Kofi Annan's hypocrisy in preaching to the US and others about the rule of law. In the Wall Street Journal this morningm, she writes: "It was in service of that UN mix of sanctions and humanitarian relief that Mr. Annan after visiting with Saddam in Iraq in 1998 returned to New York to report: 'I think I can do business with him.'

"And oh what a lot of business the UN did. Mr. Annan's Secretariat collected more than $1.4 billion in commissions on Saddam's oil sales, all to supervise the integrity of Saddam's $65 billion in oil sales and $46 billion in relief purchases. The official aim of this behemoth U.N. aid operation was solely to help the people of Iraq, while the UN waited for sanctions to weaken Saddam enough so he would be either overthrown from within or forced to comply with UN resolutions on disarmament. Instead, Saddam threw out the UN weapons inspectors for four years, and, by estimates of the U.S. General Accounting Office, fortified his own regime with at least $10.1 billion grafted and smuggled out of Oil-for-Food...

"Mr. Annan is due to step down next year. If he wants to leave a legacy more auspicious than having presided over Oil-for-Fraud, he might want to devote his twilight time at the U.N. to mending a system in which a UN Secretary-General feels free to describe the overthrow of a murderous tyrant as 'illegal', but no one at the top seems particularly bothered to have presided over that tyrant's theft of food from hungry children."

21 September 2004

Syria's ambassador to Washington says his country's forces in Lebanon will begin a major redeployment toward their own border this morning, presumably in response to the UN Security Council resolution demanding they leave Lebanon altogether. Syria has something like 17,000 troops there. Best bet is that they have no intention of withdrawing them, and will simply redeploy some, perhaps a battalion or two, closer to the border, much of which is open desert.

The Heritage Foundation has some sober comment on the Volcker Commission, which is conducting the official investigation of the UN Oil-for-Food scandal. Its "refusal to share documentation with congressional investigators demonstrates not only breathtaking arrogance but also complete disrespect for Congress and the American public that helps fund the Commission through the United Nations. If it is to be treated seriously and respected as something other than an elaborate but costly whitewash exercise, the Commission will need to implement major changes, both in its operations and in its approach. Above all, transparency and accountability will be needed if the Independent Commission is to avoid becoming yet another example of mutual back scratching at the UN."

Commentator Fareed Zakaria has some definite ideas about European attempts to block Turkey's bid to become a member of the European union. In the Washington Post he says: "In the end the European Union decision will not be about Turkey's performance, which has been better than anyone could have hoped. It will be made by a Europe that is either confident or scared of the future. The former would see that Turkey could help solve its labor shortages, help with its problems assimilating Muslim populations and send a powerful signal across the world. The latter is best symbolized by the leader of the German conservatives, Angela Merkl, a bitter opponent of Turkish membership who acknowledged these positive effects but said recently, 'I look inward.' Alas, there are too many European leaders today who look only inward."

I said yesterday that I thought the man who provided those documents to CBS wasn't as tightly wrapped as he might be. That turns out to have been an understatement.

John Keegan weighs in on the Iraq war opposition in a column in the Telegraph this morning: "Western so-called progressives who denounce the war of 2003 as a mistake are in fact illiberal and reactionary. They should be ashamed of themselves. Denunciation of war-making is much more fun than the recognition of the truth that the calculated use of force can achieve good. The United States and Britain must not be deterred."

He's too polite. There was an editorial in the New York Daily News this morning that said it better, in the guise of a suggested script for the American President's address to the UN:

"Mr. Secretary General. Distinguished fellow members of the world community of nations.

"Well, God knows why I'm standing here before you today. I might as well be talking to the wall. You're the people who didn't mind a bit that Saddam Hussein paid absolutely no attention to 17 of your formal resolutions. You're the people who would have cheerfully allowed him to ignore 17 more. You're the people who couldn't be bothered to so much as raise an eyebrow over an oil-for-food swindle so obvious it might as well have had a neon sign on it.

"And you're the people who just sit there and let Iran poke you in the eye with a stick whenever you mutter anything about how deeply concerned you are about those uranium enrichment programs.

"And you're the people who are plainly going to let countless more thousands of suffering people die in Sudan for years yet while you appoint commissions and consider taking a meeting soon to think about threatening more sanctions. Which, of course, you're not going to do anyway because, after all, some of you sell arms to Sudan and - oh, never mind. Everybody knows all this already.

"You're the people who've got criminal crackpots sitting on human-rights panels. You're the people who regularly condemn Israel for defending itself against madmen who have bombs strapped to their bellies. You're the people who would actually like nothing better than for there not to be Iraqi elections in January, am I right? Why don't you just admit it up-front, Kofi?

"No, truthfully, I'm not expecting very much from you. But I'm here because you're the world body, put here to look after the better interests of the inhabitants of this planet. It was a nice idea. Darn shame it long ago got hijacked by a sorry bunch of do-nothings like you. The world deserves so much more.

"By the way, hello to the several of you out there I know to be my good, dependable friends. 'The coalition of the bribed and the coerced,' as my statesmanlike campaign opponent likes to call you. Yeah, we're kind of outnumbered here in a crowd like this, aren't we? But we'll manage."

Here's another assault on the principles of free trade disguised, as usual, as an attempt to stop food being snatched from the starving mouths of the world's poor. The Guardian reports on the formation of a new pressure group in Britain which has been formed to help stop companies moving offshore to lighten their tax burdens. "Aid organisations are alarmed," the Guardian says, "that money which should be used for building the infrastructure of the poorest countries is being hidden in havens by corrupt politicians and multinationals exploiting tax loopholes." This group has no time even for offshore financial centres that obey every law on the books - "While a number of havens, such as the Cayman islands and Bermuda, have improved regulations, the effect of this has been, in the view of Mr Christensen (the new organisation's spokesman), to legitimise them. 'Merely chasing out the worst havens and setting international standards for the better ones does little to address the real problems,' he said."

The truth of the matter, no matter how many red herrings are dragged across the face of it, is that taxes are like prices. If you raise them too high, people will look elsewhere for a better deal. The solution is not to form a squad of thugs to intimidate the competition like some robber baron from the 19th Century, but to institute reform that will allow competition on an equal footing.

20 September 2004

An article in Jewish World Review wonders whether the US is prepared to pay the price of defeating terrorism, as it seems more and more obvious that Israel has done. Let's review: the Israeli army has destroyed most of what remained of Hamas's organization in the West Bank and a substantial part of its infrastructure in Gaza. "Just last week," say the authors, "Israeli gunships rocketed a Hamas training camp in Gaza, killing 15 operatives. Hamas leaders, who once routinely led rallies and gave interviews to the media, don't dare show their faces in public anymore. Even their names are kept secret. Hardly a night passes without the arrest of a wanted terrorist. Hamas's ranks have become so depleted that the organization is now recruiting teenagers: At the Gaza border, Israeli forces recently broke up a Hamas cell made up of 16-year-olds.

"Meanwhile, life inside Israel has returned to near normalcy. The economy, which was shrinking in 2001, is now growing at around 4 percent per year. Even the tourists are back: Jerusalem's premier King David Hotel, which a few years ago was almost empty, recently reached full occupancy. All summer, Israel seemed to be celebrating itself, with music and film festivals and a nightly crafts fair in Jerusalem that brought crowds back to its once-deserted downtown. Everyone knows a terrorist attack can happen at any time. Still, Israeli society no longer lives in anticipation of an attack. The Beersheba bombing, which once would have seemed to Israelis part of an endless and unwinnable war, is now perceived as an aberration. Terror that no longer paralyzes is no longer terror.

"Israel's triumph over the Palestinian attempt to unravel its society is the result of a systematic assault on terrorism that emerged only fitfully over the past four years. The fence, initially opposed by the army and the government, has thwarted terrorist infiltration in those areas where it has been completed. Border towns like Hadera and Afula, which had experienced some of the worst attacks, have been terror-free since the fence was completed in their areas. Targeted assassinations and constant military forays into Palestinian neighborhoods have decimated the terrorists' leadership, and roadblocks have intercepted hundreds of bombs, some concealed in ambulances, children's backpacks, and, most recently, a baby carriage."

The price Israel has had to pay, though, is that it has become an international pariah. "Americans would be wise to study this final lesson, too: Perhaps the greatest danger in fighting terrorism is the polarizing effect such a campaign can have — not just internationally, but domestically. To avoid this pitfall, a strong political consensus for military action is necessary. That means the president must actively reach out to domestic opposition. But American leaders must also heed Sharon's other lessons. That means an ability to endure criticism from abroad and even to risk international isolation, a willingness to define the war on terrorism as a total war, and a commitment to focus one's political agenda on winning, not on divisive or extraneous concerns. Fulfilling those conditions does not guarantee success. But it does make success possible - as Israel is, at great cost, showing the world."

DEBKAfile thinks Syrian president Bashar Assad is in some difficulty as a result of the recent Security Council condemnation of the extent to which his government runs Lebanon. He's now in danger of taking on the Security Council, Arab rulers and the United States all at the same time. Egyptian Hosni Mubarek tried to give him some helpful advice during his visit to Syria last week, but Assad's youth and inexperience may prove to be his worst enemies.

The World Trade Organisation has apparently broken the deadlock that has prevented it for the last three years from ending protective subsidies on agricultural products in rich countries, in exchange for broad cuts in tariffs on industrial goods and greater access for services trade in poor countries. Rick Lazio, a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York, who is now president and chief executive officer of the Financial Services Forum, tells the Washington Times why that's such a good thing.

CBS is apparently just about to admit that it was misled on the infamous Bush National Guard memos. Dan Rather is said to have been huddled in Texas for much of the weekend with his source, Bill Burkett, the retired Guard official whose anger at Republicans is at levels that indicate he may not be wrapped as tightly as he could be.

Che Guevara's widow talks about her reaction to the increasing commercialisation of her husband's life in the Los Angeles Times. He is Cuba's ultimate revolutionary martyr, consecrated officially by Fidel Castro's regime as a kind of latter-day saint to the cause of global socialism, which puts Aleida March de Guevara in the uncomfortable position of trying to safeguard his real-life legacy while simultaneously propagating his mythologized persona. "If we can get Che's ideas across to a youngster from el capitalismo [Cuba's official euphemism for most of the rest of the world] because he wants to wear a T-shirt with Che's face on it," she says, "so be it."

The BBC's political editor, Andrew Marr, has written a book, just published in Britain, called My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism. An excerpt in the Guardian this morning begins: "Reporting is now so contaminated by bias and campaigning, and general mischief, that no reader can hope to get a picture of what is happening without first knowing who owns the paper, and who it is being published for. The Mirror defines its politics as the opposite of the Sun's, which in turn is defined by the geopolitics of Rupert Murdoch's News International - hostile to European federalism and the euro and so forth. If it is ferociously against Tony Blair, this is probably because Number 10 has been passing good stories to the Sun. Its support for Gordon Brown was, similarly, driven by the need to find a rival when Blair courted Murdoch. It felt jilted. You need to know these things. You need to aim off."

I haven't read his book. I'm sure that somewhere in it, he must have said something about the rapidly growing crisis of believability at the BBC. Meantime, my own rule with that organisation is to get a second opinion on every claim they make.

Blogger Arthur Chrenkoff's twice-monthly report on good news from Afghanistan is published this morning in the Wall Street Journal. Among many other things, he reports that The UN's Refugee Agency recorded the return home of the one millionth Afghan from Iran since the start of voluntary repatriation to their war-ravaged country in April 2002, reducing by half the overall Afghan refugee population there. The agency's representative in Iran comments that "many Afghan refugees in Iran are very educated. They have professional skills that are essential to the future of Afghanistan...Every teacher who goes back will teach hundreds of Afghan children to read, every doctor will save lives, all will be an integral part of the reconstruction of Afghanistan."

Kofi Annan's 'Iraq war was illegal' statement has strengthened the hand of those trying to disrupt the January election, according to the Wall Street Journal. "The Secretary-General's latest posturing is far from harmless. The UN has been given the lead role in organizing the elections in Iraq scheduled for January. But Mr. Annan's 'illegal' comments, which have been replayed across the Arab world, have given an added feeling of legitimacy to every jihadist hoping to disrupt the vote.

"His comments also suggest that Mr. Annan belongs in the same category as France and Russia in never intending the 'serious consequences' threatened by Resolution 1441. We wonder: Could the corrupt Oil for Food program and all the revenues it generated for the UN have anything to do with it?" Fair question.

Meantime, a children's charity has accused the UN of breaking its promise to help end the kidnapping of children by the Lord's Resistance Armyin Uganda. The number made homeless by the insurgency is twice that in Darfur, says the report by World Vision, which runs a children's rehabilitation centre in Gulu, Uganda. It points out that the UN has passed five resolutions in as many years on the protection of children in armed conflicts, including specific calls for action in Uganda, but the rate of abductions is higher than ever.

"While the extreme abuses of children in northern Uganda are well documented and widely known, the international community has failed to find an effective way to protect them," it adds.

19 September 2004

If, like me, you're a Hendrix fan, this will be the most important news of the day. Technicians at Sweden's public television station have unearthed a complete original recording of a 1969 Jimi Hendrix concert in Stockholm. It was on a tape a producer ordered destroyed the year it was made because it was too expensive to store raw footage.

CW Nevius, a San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist, hits one out of the park in this piece about the incident in the Texas/Oakland game the other day, when a Texas player threw a folding chair into the stands and broke a fan's nose. Sure, the player deserves to get his, he says, but spare a thought for the asshole whose smart remarks set him off.

"We've all sat near someone like Craig Bueno at a game. You know the type. He thinks he's part of the game. He wants everyone to hear him rag tirelessly on the other team. Some of us go to watch professional athletes play at the highest level of sport. He goes with the fervent hope that he can become the center of attention...Major League Baseball also must give players, managers and umpires some way to call attention to fans who are going on and on with their taunts and insults. Bueno didn't suddenly come up with one smart remark that made everyone snap. It went on and on. Players should be able to send word of problem fans to security, and their concerns must be taken seriously."

As much as anything else, I'm linking to this story because of its lead paragraph: "It has been a tough time for journalists - a period when those who consider themselves serious and honest practitioners of the craft begin to wonder if they should be ashamed of what they do. To borrow an old line: 'Don't tell my mother that I'm a reporter. She thinks I'm a towel man in a bawdy house.'"

But that's not all this story has going for it. It was written by a former Scripps Howard News Service editor, who thinks that jouralistic ethics are taking a beating in the run-up to the election. "From a notorious 'gotcha' biographer's unsupported allegations of drug abuse by George W. Bush to utterly discredited charges John Kerry lied about his Vietnam War record, there seems no end to the assault on journalistic ethics, if that isn't an oxymoron."

That Italian intelligence agent who planted bogus documents showing that Saddam Hussein had been trying to buy yellowcake in Niger for his nuclear programme has admitted that France paid him to do it. He is identified as businessman Rocco Martino, codenamed Giacomo. Italian diplomats claim that France was trying to set up Britain and America in the hope that when the mistake was revealed it would undermine the case for war, which it wanted to prevent.

Leonard Cohen will be 70 on Tuesday. Tim de Lisle of the Guardian lists 70 things you may not know about him, one for... He needn't have bothered trying to be so damn cute. Cohen cuts more dash at 70, and has more to say, than any other entertainer in the world.


Art in Bermuda
Bermuda's Cuban Connection
Death of the Nation State
Helen Lives!
Joe Wilson and Michael Moore
Linton Kwesi Johnson's Dub Poetry
Me and Evergreen Review
Michael Howard's Vision
Miss Lou and Jamaican Patois
More Doomsday Nonsense
Mullah Nasrudin's Lessons
New York Dogs
OECD's Unfair to Competition
On Catullus
On Charles Ives
On Colin MacInnes
On Collecting Books
On Collecting Books - Part Two
On Gambling in Bermuda
On Napoleon
On Patrick Leigh Fermor
Race and Bermuda's Election
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Gift of Slang
The Limits of Knowledge
The Nature of Intelligence
The Shared European Dream
The US Supreme Court's First Terrorism Decisions
Useful Yiddish
Yukio Mishima's Death

Article Archive

2003 Index


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