...Views from mid-Atlantic
29 July 2006

German researchers have announced that honey is more effective in healing problem wounds, ulcers and skin conditions than standard antibiotics. According to the Washington Times, "'In hospitals today we are faced with germs which are resistant to almost all the current antibiotics,' said Dr. Arne Simon, an oncologist with the Children's Hospital at the University of Bonn. 'As a result, the medical use of honey is becoming attractive again for the treatment of wounds.'

"Dr. Simon is the first to acknowledge that honey is a 'millennia-old' panacea for all sorts of ills, from baldness to intestinal distress. But the emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria in the last decade has generated new interest in an old remedy.

"With cooperation from specialists in a dozen German hospitals, Dr. Simon is planning a large-scale study on honey's curative effects. He has already charted the success of traditional honey poultices on troublesome surgical wounds and skin conditions. 'Even chronic wounds infected with multi-drug resistant bacteria often healed within a few weeks,' Dr. Simon noted, adding that the honey method was particularly helpful for young patients with weakened immune systems -- deeming it 'astonishing.' Honey also made dressings easier to change and even reduced distressing smells associated with some skin conditions."

The Guardian's editor writes about the paper's efforts to adapt to the changes the internet has made to reading habits: "This week Guardian Unlimited launched a new print edition - but unlike any newspaper you'll have come across before. For a start, its distinguishing features appear to owe more to the world of online news than traditional print. It is updated every few minutes, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is free, and it can be found around the world.

"The big difference is that we're now asking you to, in essence, supply the printing press. The new edition - G24 - is available to download from guardian.co.uk as a PDF file, which should open on most computers. You can then print it out and take it away."

I didn't like it much. It's an attempt to shoehorn a strictly print format onto the screen, using a PDF format. PDFs are slow and cumbersome - good for some uses, bad for this one.

Still, they're trying. More than you can say about some.

The Irish writer Edna O'Brien cut her teeth on James Joyce. I read once that she said it was Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that made her realize that she wanted to be involved with literature for the rest of her life. And so when she writes a Guardian opinion piece about Joyce, it's worth paying attention: "Joyce described the creation of a work of art as evolving in three stages: artistic conception, artistic gestation and artistic representation. Accidents, as he said, 'never happen to men of genius'. He who had such a burning need to be betrayed was to get his fill of it, on his home ground. In 1909 he arrived in Dublin with his young son Georgio, in the hope of a reconciliation with his family, who had not forgiven him for eloping with Nora Barnacle, a Galway girl, who had been a chambermaid in Finn's Hotel in Dublin.

"He had many enemies, but chief among them were his former drinking cronies, Oliver St John Gogarty and Vincent Cosgrave. Both bore him malice because he had left Ireland; imprudently he had had chapters of his novel Stephen D distributed in Dublin, in which they appear in a villainous light, and though they mocked it as 'scholastic stink' they also feared that he might indeed, as he had vowed, 'become the Homer of his race'. When he got off the boat in Kingstown, the first omen was not propitious, sighting as he did, 'Gogarty's fat back'. For several days he avoided them, until Gogarty and Cosgrave, 'the hooded reptile', searched him out. He determined to be aloof, refusing grog, wine, coffee and tea, inducing Gogarty to say 'Christ man, you're in phthisis'. Then Cosgrave, 'the rum rooster', struck. He claimed that when Joyce was courting Nora and had met her on certain nights each week, he, Cosgrave, met her on the other nights and had dallied with her out in Ringsend and along the banks of the Dodder. In short, Joyce had been deceived. A cuckold.

"Accusations shot across the Irish Sea to reach Nora in Trieste, his heart full of bitterness, wounded, dishonoured and destroyed for all time. His faith in her was broken. He would leave for Trieste immediately once his beleaguered brother Stanislaus, who was in the lodgings with Nora in Trieste, had wired the fare money.

"Driven to the edge of delirium and having traipsed around Dublin all day, he headed for his last remaining friend, John F Byrne, who lived at number 7 Eccles Street - an address that was to become famous in Ulysses - where he wept, groaned and gesticulated in futile and wretched impotence. Byrne assured him that it was a 'blasted plot' to break him, because Cosgrave had always wanted to get 'inside' Joyce with Nora. A letter from his brother Stanislaus confirmed Cosgrave's treachery and so came the flood of recantation. By the fact of her neither confirming nor denying the trysts with Cosgrave, his desire for her was inflamed as he tasted in his imagination the nectar of the voyeur.

"Whether it was true or not, it would become true for literature. He had found the first incentive for Exiles."

Speaking of writers and teeth, Salman Rushdie and Germaine Greer are trying to sink theirs into each other. It's all about Monica Ali and attempts to turn her book Brick Lane into a film. The Guardian says: "It began as a territorial dispute between a low-budget film production company and a group of Bengali traders determined, they said, to protect the reputation of the community living in Britain's best-known Asian street. But the battle of Brick Lane, which this week saw the producers of a film based on a novel by one of Britain's most promising young writers take police advice and abandon filming in the street, has spiralled into a war of words between two literary giants."

One of them says the other is guilty of making comments that were "philistine, sanctimonious, and disgraceful, but...not unexpected."

Brick Lane residents, who feel dissed by the book, are apparently going to hold a rally tomorrow, at which copies of Brick Lane will be burned.

The Guardians says "Enthusiasm for tomorrow's protest has been stoked by rumour. In one scare-story gaining unfounded credence in Brick Lane's restaurants and clothes factories, the movie is said to feature a scene in which a leech falls from the hair of a Bangladeshi woman into a pot of curry. The film company strongly denies any such scene exists."

28 July 2006

The best art show in New York this summer, says the New Yorker's art critic, Peter Schjeldahl, is No Limits, Just Edges: Jackson Pollock Paintings on Paper at the Guggenheim. "Half a century ago, on August 11, 1956, an Oldsmobile convertible driven by Jackson Pollock, who was drunk, hit a tree in the Springs, killing the artist and a passenger...Pollock, like other doomed artists and martyrs to fame in his era - Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean - advanced and, by destroying himself, oddly consecrated America's postwar cultural ascendancy. Sometimes a new, renegade sensibility really takes hold only when somebody is seen to have died for it."

Even Alan Dershowitz is pulling for John Bolton this time around. In the Washington Times this morning, he writes: "On the basis of his performance, I have become a Bolton supporter. He speaks with moral clarity. He is extremely well prepared. He is extraordinarily articulate. He places the best face on American policy, particularly in the Middle East during this crucial time."

Warren Christopher, the American secretary of state who brokered the ceasefire that got Israel out of Lebanon in 1993 and again in 1996, disagrees with the US administration's strategy this time. In the Washington Post, he writes: "In the course of her trip, the secretary repeatedly insisted that any cease-fire be tied to a 'permanent' and 'sustainable' solution to the root causes of the conflict. Such a solution is achievable, if at all, only after protracted negotiations involving multiple parties. In the meantime, civilians will continue to die, precious infrastructure will continue to be destroyed and the fragile Lebanese democracy will continue to erode.

"My own experience in the region underlies my belief that in the short term we should focus our efforts on stopping the killing...Finally, Syria may well be a critical participant in any cease-fire arrangement...Although Syria no longer has troops in Lebanon, Hezbollah's supply routes pass through the heart of Syria, and some Hezbollah leaders may reside in Damascus, giving the Syrians more leverage over Hezbollah's actions than any other country save Iran.

"Syria has invited a direct dialogue with the United States, and although our relations with Syria have seriously deteriorated in recent years (we have not had an ambassador in Damascus for more than a year), we do not have the luxury of continuing to treat it with diplomatic disdain. As the situations with North Korea and Iran confirm, refusing to speak with those we dislike is a recipe for frustration and failure.

"Because Hezbollah has positioned itself as the 'David' in this war, every day that the killing continues burnishes its reputation within the Arab world. Every day that more of the Lebanese infrastructure is turned to dust, Beirut's fragile democracy becomes weaker, both in its ability to function and in the eyes of its people."

27 July 2006

Emmett Tyrell and Claudia Rosett are both banging on this morning about the uselessness of the UN. In the New York Sun, Tyrell says "The 'international community' through the instrumentality of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has done nothing to disarm Hezbollah, though according to U.N. Resolution 1559 it was supposed to. Instead Hezbollah has been free to militarize southern Lebanon beyond even the imagination of Israeli intelligence agencies. It is difficult to believe that Hezbollah bunkers, tunnels, and missile sites could have been established without the knowledge of UNIFIL forces stationed nearby. So now Israel is to end its defensive attacks on Hezbollah, according to the desire of the 'international community.' Israel is undoing the mischief that the United Nations allowed, but now Israel is to desist.

"The 'international community' has no conscience. If it has a memory, the memory goes unused. Israel withdrew from today's contested regions in Lebanon and Gaza with the hope and the promise that those areas would become peaceful. Now they are being used as launching sites for killing Israelis - and the 'international community' wants Israel to cease fire and forbear. What would it have Hezbollah do?"

Ms Rosett agrees. In the National Review Online, she writes: "As Israel fights to defend itself against the Iranian-and-Syrian-backed terrorists of Hezbollah, are we really seeing a reckless, damaging and - yes - disproportionate response?

"You bet. But not from Israel. It's coming from the U.N."

Even before the election, word was that Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manual Lopez Obrador was a sore loser, but he really is turning sore losing into some kind of aberrant science. JURIST reports that he's filed a criminal complaint against the Federal Electoral Institute, alleging "that it should have blocked campaign ads funded by private companies that he alleges broke election regulations. Obrador has claimed that the commercials contained subliminal messages."

The editor of Mexico's Letras Libres magazine, Enrique Krauze, says in a Washington Post article this morning that "Most troubling of all is that Lopez Obrador has called for demonstrations all over the country 'in support of democracy' - the same democracy whose institutions he has impugned. Even though he insists that the marches will be 'peaceful' and 'won't get out of hand', he knows very well that in the atmosphere he has created, violent actions might be initiated by either side.

"It isn't hard to gauge his intentions. He's made them very plain, and since he's a man of his word, he must be believed: 'I'll go as far as the people want me to go.'

"Apparently, however, 'the people' are not the 27,034,972 Mexicans of all classes who didn't vote for him; they're not even the 14,756,350 citizens who supported him at the polls. 'The people', or 'the nation', will be those sectors of the population that Lopez Obrador is able to get out into the country's streets and plazas in coming days and weeks - those who see him as he sees himself, as the Mexican messiah.

"And who will interpret the wishes of this 'people', a repository of natural and divine law rather than of the petty laws written by men? The charismatic leader who incarnates Truth, Reason, History and Virtue, the leader who will save Mexico from oppression, inequality, injustice and poverty, who will 'purify national life': Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

"This is a film the world has seen many times. The seed of dictatorship has been planted. Impermeable to objective truth, a messiah who has proclaimed himself 'indestructible' and publicly (and seriously) compared himself to Jesus, seeks to kidnap Mexican democracy. If the ransom he demands (strict obedience by the Federal Electoral Tribunal to his will) is not paid, he is prepared to set the country aflame."

Guy can write!

British scientists are saying that there's a faster way for airline staff to get their passengers aboard a plane: "As you board your flight, the fabric of space-time is probably the last thing on your mind. But research suggests that by harnessing the maths behind Einstein's theory of relativity, airlines could speed up the arduous process of boarding."

They say the best way to do it would be to board window seat-holders first, then the middle seat people and finally those who sit on the aisle. I say the best way to do it would be to arm every tenth passenger for a week. Seating manners would improve immeasurably, one way or another.

The hate/hate relationship between Israel and the BBC continues - the executive director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Andrea Levin, says in a Jerusalem Post article that most of the media are covering the war in southern Lebanon fairly. "The BBC, however, is a frequent exception. Correspondent Nick Thorpe, for instance, in a report broadcast on July 15 and posted as well on the network's Web site - 'Becoming Israel's greatest enemy' - opted for jarringly flippant characterizations of the present crisis in Lebanon, followed by anti-Israel distortions and platitudes.

"An introductory account of the assault of Katyusha rockets raining down on northern Israel, and the less lethal Kassams plaguing the south of the country, are reported like a child's fable. Thorpe says: 'The Kassams mostly needle the Israelis, like pinpricks in the ankles of a giant, taunting him to stamp back with his big, US-issue army boots. The Katyushas are like poisoned arrows. They drive him mad.'

"Thorpe likes the image of Israel as a mad giant, saying later: 'The giant is kicking out, then landing punch after punch on long-suffering Lebanon.'"

26 July 2006

Kofi Annan let something nasty slip yesterday when he claimed, apparently without evidence or justification, that the Israelis had deliberately killed UN observers in an airstrike in Southern Lebanon. As an obviously disgusted Ehud Olmert asked, what possible profit would that bring to the Israelis? Haaretz says Olmert has ordered an investigation to establish what happened, but Dan Ayalon, Israel's Ambassador to Washington, demanded that Annan apologize for the remarks, which he called 'baseless'.

One might think Annan's remark was simply an irresponsible slip, made in the anger and stress of the moment, if it weren't for the fact that the UN is well-known for its strong bias against Israel. Top-down institutional anti-semitism, perhaps?

Meantime, a pair of Claremont Institute fellows, Bill Bennett of the television programme, Morning in America, and his producer, Seth Leibsohn, in a National Review article, are holding Israel up as a model democracy in the Middle East.

"What model should the U.S. be pointing to to the Iranian dissidents, the Egyptian dissidents, the Saudi dissidents? Would we be right to say, 'Vote and behave like they did in Lebanon, and erect a government like that (where 400,000 people live under Hezbollah control)', or 'Look at Israel: It comes to the aid of others around the world, it has a minority population with full democratic rights that even serve in government, and its economy, free of oil, works.'"

On the extent of Hezbollah's state-within-a-state status in Lebanon, they quote from a recent Amir Taheri article in the London Times:

"Hezbollah is a state within the Lebanese state. It controls some 25% of the national territory. Almost 400,000 of Lebanon’s estimated four million inhabitants live under its control. It collects its own taxes with a 20% levy, known as 'khoms', on all incomes. It runs its own schools, where a syllabus produced in Iran is taught at all levels. It also runs clinics, hospitals, social welfare networks and centres for orphans and widows.

"The party controls the elected municipal councils and appoints local officials, who in theory should be selected by the central government in Beirut. To complete its status as a virtual state, the party maintains a number of unofficial 'embassies': the one in Tehran is bigger and has a larger number of staff than that of Lebanon itself.

"Hezbollah also has its own media including a satellite television channel, Al-Manar (the lighthouse), which is watched all over the Arab world, four radio stations, newspapers and magazines plus a book publishing venture. The party has its own system of justice based on sharia and operates its own police force, courts and prisons. Hezbollah runs youth clubs, several football teams and a number of matrimonial agencies."

This is a bit of an embarrassing problem! The man Guyana wants to make its Commissioner of Police, according to Caribbean Net News, has had his US visitor's visa revoked. Not only that, the US revoked Acting Commish Henry Greene's diplomatic visa earlier this year. No reason has been given, but the story makes reference to the fact that "two years ago, former Acting Police Commissioner, Floyd Mc Donald, and Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, had their visas revoked as rumors exploded about their links to a killing squad formed to counter criminal elements during the shadowy post-February 2002 jail break era."

I don't think it's possible to say, as this Los Angeles Times article tries to do, what various trade ministers were and were not willing to do in the failed Doha talks - some of the most professional spinners in the world are busy obfuscating the whole business. But it is true to say, as the Los Angeles Times does, that "While Hezbollah missiles and Israeli airstrikes crossed in the night, militias rampaged in Somalia and Darfur and death squads made their ghoulish rounds in the streets of Baghdad, a quieter disaster - but one with arguably larger long-term implications - took place in placid Geneva...The Doha round of talks that collapsed Monday in Geneva, launched in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, could have put a genuine dent in that poverty while boosting standards of living in wealthy nations. The World Bank estimates that a successful outcome would add nearly $300 billion to the world economy."

Maybe this is the way to move forward: Australia and New Zealand believe that if voters knew what their countries were missing out on, that might change the positions of those nations at key trade talks. Groups in those two countries are advocating an independent arm of the WTO be created to show how consumers are being hurt by the steep forms of protection already in place."

The Globe and Mail alerts us to a little rumble brewing between Steely Dan and Owen Wilson, star of the new film comedy, You, Me and Dupress. The group claims claiming the film's concept was uncool-ly ripped off their song, Cousin Dupree.

Band leaders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen have posted an open letter on their website, addressed to Owen Wilson's elder brother, Luke. They ask that Luke get his young brother to apologise onstage at a concert for his offence. Or else, "if this business goes unresolved, there are some pretty heavy people who are upset about this whole thing and we can't guarantee what kind of heat little Owen may be bringing down on himself."

25 July 2006

I guess this is a kind of catching up without seeming to be running. People's Daily says: "In China, where men have traditionally been regarded as superior to women, and in a family in which tradition is strictly observed, it is of great significance that female descendants of Confucius will now be included in the family tree,' said Liu Shifan, Vice President of the International Confucius Association.

"Kong Dehong, Dean of the Confucius Genealogy Office at the Association of Compilation Work for Confucius' Genealogy, said that female descendants would not be added to past compilations of Confucius' family tree, where the spouses of male descendants were marked behind their husbands' names in smaller characters.

"The current project to trace Confucius' genealogy began in 1996 and is the fifth of its kind. But this time, female descendants will be included, and their names will be written in the same size as their male counterparts. The names of the female descendants' husbands will be printed next to them and marked in smaller characters. If the children of female descendants carry the surname Kong, they will also be included in the genealogy."

Scientists are puzzled by a series of 'silent' earthquakes deep underground that trigger no seismic signals, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article, "and by swarms of tremors they have detected in Northern California and other regions of the world where major quakes constantly threaten.

"Those mysterious events, the scientists say, might help warn of truly dangerous quakes before they occur - if only their meaning can be deciphered...The silent-slip events are extremely slow-moving earthquakes that do not generate seismic waves and so cannot be detected by seismometers. A slipping fault - sometimes as deep as 25 miles underground - may take weeks or even months to distort the Earth's surface enough for Global Positioning System satellites to measure the motion, which is often less than an inch - compared with the 1906 San Francisco quake, which displaced the surface as much as 21 feet at Tomales Bay.

"The swarms of tiny quakes with magnitudes of less than two that sometimes accompany these events also might provide valuable clues to what's happening underground, the scientists say - particularly in regions where one huge slab of the Earth's crust is diving beneath another in a process called subduction."

Columnist Michael Barone says, in a Washington Times piece, that this Mideast War is different from the others, in that this time, a land-for-peace deal ain't gonna cut it. "Bill Clinton devoted much of his vast psychic energy and negotiating skill to making a land-for-peace deal between first Yitzhak Rabin and then Ehud Barak of Israel, and Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

"In 2000, he got Mr. Barak to offer Arafat the lion's share of the West Bank and Gaza in return for peace. Arafat refused and launched the Second Intifada instead. Rabin and Mr. Barak, both distinguished military leaders, imagined Arafat wanted land enough to make peace. But Arafat preferred the armed struggle that left him in control of Palestinian Authority funds. He encouraged Palestinians to continue to lust after Israel's destruction.

"Today, almost no one demands a land-for-peace deal. The reason is obvious. Israel left the Gaza Strip last year, and the Palestinians there, instead of observing a cold peace, began launching missiles into Israel and elected a Hamas government that seeks Israel's destruction. Now, Hamas forces have killed and kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Similarly, Israel left southern Lebanon to the tender mercies of Iran-supported Hezbollah fully six years ago. But Hezbollah, urged on by the Iranian mullahs who want to deflect attention from their nuclear program, has lobbed missiles into Haifa and attacked Israeli soldiers.

"No government can be expected to ignore such armed attacks on its people and its military forces. Land-for-peace is a nonstarter. Hamas and Hezbollah already have land. And they have made it clear they will never willingly make peace."

It's been like a veil falling, very, very slowly from the real face of the terrorists. What they really want has pretty much been defined by Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad - that is, to destroy the Israeli state. One of the men helping Iran and its terrorists to accomplish that goal is a man called Mugniyeh: "The name Imad Fayez Mugniyeh," writes Dan Darlin in the Weekly Standard, "is probably not familiar to most Americans, but it is never been far from the minds of most international security experts. As the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel continues, analysts and observers would do well to remember Mughniyeh, who may have been the architect of the Hezbollah raid that killed eight Israeli soldiers, captured two others, and sparked the current crisis.

"Details of Mughniyeh's origins are fragmentary. He is believed to have served as a member of Force 17, Yasser Arafat's personal bodyguard unit, before joining Hezbollah. There he acted first as a bodyguard for the group's spiritual leader, Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, and eventually rose to his current role as the group's operations chief. His official role in Hezbollah is unclear, with various sources describing him as the current head of Hezbollah's security section, a member of the group's Jihad Council, the director of its intelligence apparatus, or its external operations chief.

"He likely serves as all of the above, but whatever the case, one thing is clear: He has been at the heart of every major Hezbollah terrorist attack for the better part of the last 25 years."

You don't see much about the Oil-for-Food scandal in the media any more, but it continues to percolate quietly in the background, all over the world. The latest country to find itself with a problem is Sweden: "Some 14 Swedish firms are under investigation for violating the United Nations' sanctions under the Oil-for-Food Programme by paying Iraq illegal fees to do business in the country. Now the Swedish government is being drawn into the fray for reportedly knowing about the illegal payoffs and not stopping them." The article's from The Local, Sweden's English language newspaper.

Meantime, the race to replace Kofi Annan has officially begun, the New York Sun says, and so far, it ain't exactly a star-studded race. "Although South Korea's foreign minister emerged yesterday as a front-runner in the race to replace Kofi Annan as secretary-general of the United Nations, diplomats said none of the four declared candidates had made enough of a leap to discourage those who are waiting in the wings to join the race.

"'It is clear that the Security Council is going to have to look for other names, because none of these are going to make it,' a council diplomat, who requested anonymity because the 15 members of the body decided not to speak about yesterday's 'straw poll' results beyond informing representatives of the countries that presented candidacies."

24 July 2006

Britain's Independent publishes a fascinating piece about a German Nazi who saved thousands of Chinese from death in the Nanjing Massacre: "Thousands of residents were killed by the Japanese army, but for some, a saviour was at hand - a member of the Nazi party who offered refuge in the garden of his comfortable, grey-bricked house near the city university and helped save the lives of more than 250,000 people.

"John Rabe led a group of Western missionaries, businessmen and scholars in draping Red Cross flags painted on sheets around a two-by-three-kilometre area. The 250,000 people who were able to get inside the safety zone survived - another 300,000 people outside the international safety zone became the victims of the Nanjing massacre."

Johnny Cash died in May, 2003. In the last months of his life, shunned by his record company, he collaborated with an unusually sympathetic producer. The result was some of the best music he ever made. The Globe and Mail says : "Before he died in May, 2003, Cash laid down the vocals to 60 or so tracks. A dozen of them made their way on to the just-out American V: A Hundred Highways, the fifth release in a series of records produced by Rick Rubin, the serene bush-bearded enigma who owns his own imprint, American Recordings. The four previous discs all won Grammy Awards: American Recordings (1994); Unchained (1996); American III: Solitary Man (2000); and American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002). A sixth album, with material drawn from the same sessions as American V, is in the works.

"Rubin (a vegetarian longhair who loves speed-metal, yoga and professional wrestling) and Cash (a deeply spiritual hell-raiser) began working on the fifth album the day after the fourth album was completed in 2002, with the pace accelerating with the death of June Carter Cash in the spring of 2003. 'The schedule changed; it got more intense,' Rubin recalls. 'Johnny called me and told me, 'I need to work every single day.' Cash might have needed to work steadily, but his own dire health wouldn't allow such a regimen. And so Rubin put a recording engineer and a couple of guitarists on call near Cash's rambling home on Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville, Tenn."

This sounds like a television series worth giving a try - The New York Times says Tabloid Wars is beginning tonight on Bravo. "Reporters and editors for The Daily News in New York are followed around by camera crews with the kind of intimate scrutiny found on The Anna Nicole Show, Family Bonds, Growing Up Gotti and Cold Turkey.

"Actually, The Daily News gets a better break. Its staff is given an unusually sympathetic close-up with almost none of the cruel editing that provides the comic underbelly of most documentary-style reality shows. And that is a little scary. It suggests that journalists are so hated and the future of newspapers is so bleak that even Bravo didn't have the heart to mock them."

"Word is that Ms. Rice's more ambitious plans include the creation of an international stabilization force for southern Lebanon, according to the Wall Street Journal. "...Properly conceived, this might be a genuine help. We're not talking about the kind of 'peacekeeping' mission UN Secretary General Kofi Annan envisions, whose purpose would be to keep the 'warring parties' apart. That would only hand Hezbollah and Iran a victory by showing they can attack with impunity and the international community will ride to the rescue.

"An international force inserted after Israel finishes cutting Hezbollah down to size could serve a very different purpose. Its mission could be to see that Hezbollah and the mullahs never regain a military foothold in Lebanon or hold the threat of violence over that country's fledgling democracy. It could also work to strengthen the official Lebanese Army, facilitate its deployment in the south of the country, and otherwise help implement UN Resolution 1559 - under whose terms Hezbollah should already have disarmed. Israel is talking about a robust NATO force, which makes some sense. But if the 'moderate' Arab states are really concerned with stability, they could also contribute troops - as could Turkey."

And if you want to know why no one is pushing the UN in this role, read the long post by David Kopel on The Volokh Conspiracy's blog, dated Friday, July 21. As another of the Volokh team of bloggers points out, he may not be correct to jump from this specific incident to a general conclusion about the UN's troops. However, the incident does point up a weakness in the UN system, in that troops whose job is standing around doing nothing need more robust leadership than normal. For a variety of reasons, UN troops seldom get that kind of leadership.

"The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been deployed since 1978, not long after Israel first entered Lebanon in pursuit of PLO terrorists. UNIFIL was created pursuant to Security Council Resolution 425, for the purpose of "confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restoring international peace and security and assisting the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area." Quite obviously UNFIL has utterly failed to achieve the Security Council's objectives, either before or after Israel's 2000 complete withdrawal from Lebanon. One reason is that UNIFIL does not interdict Hezbollah attacks on Israel. Instead, UNIFIL allows Hezbollah to set up positions next to UNFIL units, in effect using UNIFIL as human shields against Israeli counterstrikes. (Aluf Benn, Israel accuses UN of collaborating with Hezbollah," Haaretz, Sept. 11, 2005.)

"UNIFIL's most notorious collaboration with terrorists involved the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli soldiers, and the subsequent cover-up...It appears that at least four of the UNIFIL 'peacekeepers', all from India, had received bribes from Hezbollah in order to assist the kidnapping by helping them get to the kidnapping spot and find the Israeli soldiers. Some of the bribery involved alcohol and Lebanese women."

23 July 2006

Remember that strange letter Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent President Bush? He sent another one to German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week. She's not going to reply, according to her spokesman. Der Spiegel says: "German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has dismissed a letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The missive contains no references to Tehran's nuclear program or the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. But there are 'unacceptable' remarks about Israel's and the Holocaust."

This is one strange hombre. Agence France Presse is saying he told Israel earlier today "'pack up' and move somewhere outside the Middle East...'I advise them to pack up and move out of the region before being caught in the fire they have started in Lebanon,' said Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly called for the Jewish state to be relocated elsewhere on the planet."

In an editorial, the Washington Times notes a change of mind at the New York Times: "Two days ago, the New York Times suggested an out-of-character response to dealing with the crisis in the Middle East should the UN Security Council fail to enforce Resolution 1559, which requires Hezbollah to disarm. 'If the Security Council isn't willing to issue such explicit demands or link them to clear punishments,' the paper editorialized, 'the United States, Europe and key Arab allies, who are also eager to see the fighting and Hezbollah contained, will have to bring serious pressure on their own.' Of course, the editorial continued, 'the United States will have to take the lead.'

"The NYT's argument that the United States may be forced to assemble and lead a coalition if the Security Council fails to act represents a remarkable change in perspective from just three years ago. This is the same editorial page, after all, that claimed in March 2003 that it was 'persuaded of the vital need to disarm Iraq. But it is a process that should go through the United Nations.' The Times consistently chided President Bush for not being more patient with the United Nations, even when it became clear that no action could be expected from the Security Council.

"It's curious that the Times predicated the necessary action to resolve one dangerous situation on UN approval (an editorial, also in March 2003, declared that 'the threat of force... should not give way to the use of force until peaceful paths to Iraqi disarmament have been exhausted and the Security Council gives its assent to war') but is now willing to wave that condition in order to deal with Hezbollah. Friday's editorial fails to explain why the Times believes two situations should be handled so differently."

Maybe the paper's just had it with the UN - that's a crowded room.

There's another one of those end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scandals droning on in the UK about...well, the truth is I've never been curious enough to figure out what it's about. I do remember it involves John Prescott, the Dome, a meeting that shouldn't have been a secret, a cowboy suit that should have been declared to Customs, and this man, Philip Anschutz. He seems to have a spot of dough, or two.

"On a warm summer evening in 2004, Philip Anschutz greeted British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott at the $150-million soccer palace Anschutz had created in Carson. After settling into a luxury suite to watch the Los Angeles Galaxy battle the San Jose Earthquakes, Prescott asked Anschutz which side he was rooting for.

"'He said it didn't matter because he owned the two teams,' Prescott recalled in an interview in London. At the time, Anschutz controlled half of the 10 pro soccer franchises in the US.

"The moment captured Anschutz's trademark approach to investments, which holds that they are to be dominated, not merely owned. That philosophy has made Anschutz an economic force in Los Angeles, as important to the region's future, some say, as the William Mulhollands and Harry Chandlers of the past.

"Yet in a city known for its entertainment moguls and industrialists who seek the limelight, Anschutz is intensely private. He is a longtime Denver resident and doesn't even maintain a Los Angeles address. 'Philip Anschutz is sort of like the Wizard of Oz,' said Los Angeles economist Jack Kyser. 'He is the man behind the curtain pulling the levers. Nobody sees him, yet he has a huge impact on Los Angeles.'"

It's taken 21 centuries, maybe more, but finally, the world has a line of cosmetics that actually does what it claims to do. It's being made by a company with the unlikely name of Klinger Advanced Aesthetics. The New York Times says "Its Cosmedicine brand arrived in stores this spring and included products like Physical Conditioning Body Skin Therapy Lotion; Global Health, an SPF 30 sunblock; and Opti-mologist, an eye cream. Cosmedicine does not advertise itself as antiaging. "There's no such thing," (company partner Jane) Terker says simply.

What claims Cosmedicine does make are backed up by Dr. Fred Brancati, director of the division of general internal medicine at Johns Hopkins, and his team, who have verified that those claims match results from scientific studies."

I use Frederick Fekkai, myself, and I don't think I care whether it does what it says it does. Let's just say I like Mr Fekkai's line...


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

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