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June 19, 2004

"INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM" AT THE BBC: "A senior BBC correspondent in the Gaza Strip is reported to have told a Hamas gathering that journalists and media organizations are 'waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people.'"

Then there's the New York Times . . .

UPDATE: Reader David Gerstman emails that the BBC story is 3 years old, and cites this item from 2002. He's right, and here's what I think is the original report. I don't think that makes it any less revealing, though -- and, in retrospect, certainly explains a lot about media coverage in the Middle East since 9/11.

Here's more on the BBC's own foreign policy in the Mideast, which would seem to contradict its claims of impartiality. And don't miss this bit:

The BBC efforts not to "offend" Arab extremists even extend to their reports on ethnic cleansing and genocide. On both the occasions in the last week when I heard BBC World Service Radio refer to the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing in Sudan, the BBC took scrupulous care to avoid saying who the perpetrators were (they are Arab militias) and who the victims are (hundreds of thousands of Black Sudanese Africans — Muslims, Christians, and Animists). The BBC didn't make any mention whatever of the long history of mass slavery in Sudan, carried out by Arabs with non-Arabs as their victims; nor of the scorched-earth policies, and systematic rape being carried out there by Arabs.

Yet in one of these very same news bulletins, the BBC mentioned that "settlers" in Gaza were "Jewish" and the land they were settling is "Palestinian." . . .

The BBC's Middle East problem is not just a British problem but also an international one. The BBC pours forth its worldview not just in English, but in almost every language of the Middle East: Pashto, Persian, Arabic, Turkish.

I'll bet it's all "Vulfervitz's" fault.

UPDATE: Hmm. Tough question.

BOTH EXXON/MOBIL AND CHEVRON/TEXACO have received oil-for-food subpoenas:

The U.S. attorney in Manhattan is investigating the program.

A spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil, Prem Nair, said the subpoena covered only documents related to the program and did not accuse the oil giant of wrongdoing. "We are in receipt of the subpoena, and we are responding accordingly," she said. "We follow all laws and regulations." Exxon Mobil declined to comment further on the subpoena.

At ChevronTexaco, "we have received a request for information from the U.S. attorney," said Jeff Moore, a spokesman for the San Ramon, Calif.-based company. "We are cooperating."

Very interesting. Perhaps the Unscam scandal is getting some traction.

JOE LIEBERMAN UNDERSTANDS what's going on:

The Islamist jihadist terrorists who wage holy war against us in Iraq and elsewhere represent a system of values exactly the opposite of America's.

There is no better way to know this enemy than to read their words. The father of the jihadist movement, Sayyed Qutb [KUH-tahb] of Egypt, wrote in 1952, “The death of those who are killed for the cause of God gives more impetus to the cause, which continues to thrive on their blood.” The cause of which he speaks is to “establish a [Muslim] state” that “sets moral values,” “abolish[es] man-made laws” and that would impose, by force if necessary, the Islamic system on “all human beings, whether they be rulers or ruled, black or white, poor or rich, ignorant or learned.”

This is a radicalized, violent vision of Islam, as yet embraced by only a minority of Muslims. Pluralism of any kind – a diversity of views or faiths – affronts this radical minority's absolutist vision. Their theological totalitarianism leaves no room for individual freedom.

Restoring the caliphate – the seat of secular and ecclesiastical power that existed for centuries across a wide territory – is their goal. You can read it in their writings: They would create a new evil empire, stretching from Istanbul to Islamabad, from Khartoum to Kabul, from Kuala Lampur to Bangkok, and beyond.

Osama Bin Laden is the leading advocate of this jihadist view in the world today, the current mastermind of this malevolent movement. Every American should carefully read his clearly stated words of intention to know why we must defeat him.

In his “Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad,” issued in February 1998, Bin Laden says that “to kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an individual duty of every Muslim… every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward [must] obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions wherever he finds them and whenever he can.”

In his November 1998 “Letter to America,” Bin Laden condemned the United States because, he said, like all democracies, it is a “nation who, rather than ruling by the Sharia of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, chooses to invent your own laws as you will and desire.” After September 11th attacks, he gloated triumphantly that “the values of Western civilization… of liberty, human rights, and humanity, have been destroyed.”

In this war of ideas and values, Bin Laden is the quintessential anti-American. . . .

The prison abuse scandal has caused many to question our moral standing in Iraq and to use it as an excuse to pull our troops out. That is thoroughly unjustified and profoundly dangerous. As I said earlier, the terrorists will never defeat us militarily. We cannot let them defeat us politically.

I'd like to see Lieberman as Kerry's running mate, but I guess that's not going to happen.

THERE ARE LOTS OF BASEBALL BLOGS, but here's a golf blog.

MORE ON SUDAN AND DARFUR, here, here, here, and most recently here. All from the Cake Eater Chronicles, a blog that has been paying a lot of attention to the subject.

UPDATE: Me and Ophelia is another blog that's paying a lot of attention to this subject.

TYLER COWEN REVIEWS Control Room.

TOM MAGUIRE has several interesting posts. Just keep scrolling.

THE XXIVth LEGION is defending America. This is my favorite bit. Yes, I am a hopeless geek.

How hopeless a geek am I? Hopeless enough that in high school two friends and I made complete Roman legionary kits (including hand-riveted "lorica segmentata" armor of the type you see in the photos above) for the Latin Convention. The equipment was pretty authentic, though our swords -- bootlegged via a shop at Oak Ridge National Lab -- were laser-cut series 440 stainless steel, making them the only part of our outfit that was clearly superior to the real thing. I don't know what happened to mine, but it was quite a piece of metal. Thanks to reader Paul Music for sending these.

UPDATE: Hey, some people are making this stuff pay! This looks better than the stuff we made, but then for $500 it ought to.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This looks pretty cool. I'm pretty sure it's the book I read in Junior High that got me interested in the subject.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Clyde Spicer emails: "I guess that post tells us how much times have changed. Today, if you tried to take a replica sword to a high school, you'd likely be expelled under the 'zero tolerance' rules that many districts have implemented." Yeah. Jeez.

AUSTIN BAY is in Iraq, but he's published this interview with former Sen. Bob Kerrey that he did just before leaving, in which Kerrey talks about what Iraq will look like in 20 years. In his email, Austin observes: "What's interesting is Kerrey and I see Iraq in the same light, 20 years down the pike. The column captures maybe 20percent of the interview/discussion. I didn't tell him I was going to Iraq. Probably should have in retrospect." Sadly, Austin's (or perhaps I should say Col. Bay's) duties are getting in the way of firsthand reporting at the moment, but I hope that will change.

June 18, 2004

Nicholas' sister PreciousVARIOUS DISCUSSIONS AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE lead me to believe that some people are taking this whole blog thing a little too seriously at the moment.

A bit of catblogging seems like an appropriate remedy, and since Kevin Drum has abandoned his Friday-catblogging duties, I'm filling in tonight.

Meow.

LOSING WEIGHT BY EATING NOTHING BUT MCDONALD'S! And lower cholesterol, too!

(Via Countertop Chronicles).

MORE DEVELOPMENTS in the Catholic priest abuse scandal.

WILL THE NETWORKS SHOW THESE IMAGES OF THE PAUL JOHNSON BEHEADING? Probably not. Or only in a token fashion.

UPDATE: In a related matter, read this piece by Nick Schulz.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader wonders why I'm not making a bigger deal out of this. Well, as the Schulz piece notes, this is a case where a picture is worth 1000 words (at least).

Meanwhile, Tim Blair notes that some people are finding words to describe their feelings:

The Independent’s Andrew Gumbel looks on the bright side: "Is this the horror that will finally undo George Bush's presidency?"

Sheesh.


AMIR TAHERI:

No terrorist movement in the past two decades has succeeded in overthrowing the state and seizing power for itself. This is in contrast with the experience of the previous decades that saw several terrorist movements, often disguised as revolutionary guerrilla movements, come to power on a wave of violence.

How did Algeria, Peru and other nations that have defeated terrorism managed to do so in the face of heavy odds?

The question is of interest to the latest victims of terrorism, including Saudi Arabia.

While Algerian, Peruvian and other experiences in fighting terrorism show important differences, they all have several key features in common.

The first of these is a psychological determination on the part of the ruling elites to stay the course. One central aim of the terrorist, of course, is to instill fear in society in general and the elite in particular. By refusing to be frightened, society and its leaders achieve their first victory against the terrorists.

This, of course, is easier said than done.

Indeed. There's also this interesting bit:

In both Algeria and Peru, and to some extent even in Turkey and Egypt, the state decided to actually help the terrorists become fixed targets. In Algeria, for example, the anti-terror units deliberately stayed out of some areas, notably the Mitidja plain and the town of Blida, thus shooing the terrorists there. On some occasions the security forces even refused to intervene to stop terrorist operations that took place under their noses, so to speak. The idea was to convince the terrorists that they had a safe haven. In time this meant that the terrorists became fixed targets while the security forces enjoyed the advantage of mobility and the choice of the time to attack.

I wonder if that's what we're trying to do in Fallujah?

VARIOUS PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW what I think about Andrew Sullivan's announcement that he won't support Bush, and the hostile reactions it's gotten.

I don't have much to say about it, really. If you read a lot of lefty blogs, you know that people write nasty stuff about me all the time. I live with it. Interestingly, unlike (apparently) Andrew, I get less hatemail when I criticize Bush / Ashcroft / etc. than when I criticize the left. But then I've never waxed as rapturously about Bush as Sullivan has in the past. Maybe that makes a difference.

Andrew's position seems to me to be driven largely by Bush's support of the (non-starter) Federal Marriage Amendment. As someone who supports gay marriage pretty strongly (though less so than Andrew, I imagine) I can understand his disappointment. But it seems to me that Bush has done the least he realistically could have done on this issue, only supporting the Amendment when it became obvious that it wasn't going anywhere, and then offering only token support. And though you can draw a distinction between Bush and Kerry on this issue, it's not much of one, really. But obviously it seems bigger to Andrew than it does to me.

There are plenty of things that I disagree with Bush on -- stem cell research (and pretty much all other biotech/bioethics issues), abortion, gay marriage, the Drug War, etc. If it weren't for the war, I'd probably be on the fence. But I can't take Kerry seriously on the war, and for me it's the number one issue. For Sullivan, I guess, it's not. I had thought that it was.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF AND ED DRISCOLL have thoughts on historical revisionism.

UPDATE: Brian Dunn has some thoughts, too: "Saddam had longstanding ties to terrorists including al Qaeda, sponsored terrorism, carried out terrorism, and cheered on terrorism. The press likes to pretend that this is a new argument invented by the Bush administration to trump up reasons for war, forgetting their own reports in the 90s about such connections and the Clinton administration’s claims of such connections."


FOR THE VARIOUS HOMESICK KNOXVILLE EXPATS OUT THERE, here are a couple of pictures, both taken at Concord Park near the Yacht Club. Hope you enjoy them!

MY SPACE-BLOGGING has been miserably deficient lately. But The Belmont Club, Dale Amon, and Rand Simberg are on top of the situation. That's the beauty of the blogosphere. There's always somebody to pick up the slack!

UPDATE: Aleta Jackson emails to note that Mojave Airport is now officially licensed as a spaceport by the FAA.

JAMES MOORE has more on Darfur and the Sudan, and suggests that the U.S. and U.K. may be contemplating military action. He adds: " I personally support declaring the situation a genocide and taking immediate military action."

Based on what I know, so do I. He adds:

Finally, for those who are focused on the weaknesses of the UN system and the oil for food scandal--the scandal of the UN response to this genocide seems to me to be equally damning. Sudan sits on the human rights council, Kofi Annan says nice words but appears not willing to either use his bully pulpit to rally world opinion, nor to use his formal powers to take on the Arab, African, and Russian governments that are said to be blocking stronger action in the Security Council.

As those who know me realize, I am certainly not a unilateralist. On the other hand, this case shows why unilaterial action is sometimes the only way to deal with a problem while it still can be meaningfully addressed.

Indeed.

UPDATE: War Nerd has a column on Darfur, where things are bad enough to penetrate even his hardboiled cynicism.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's John Kerry's statement on Darfur. (Via Cockalorum).

MICKEY KAUS is slamming CBS's John Roberts for misrepresenting what the 9/11 Commission found.

This is egregious, but so is most of the coverage of the Bush/Saddam/Al Qaeda issue. Including Slate's.

UPDATE: Jason van Steenwyk wonders: "Why are respected news organizations letting idiots cover the White House beat?"

THE PROBLEM IS SPREADING: As I've noted in several posts below, Slate's "Bushism" and "Kerryism" features have come in for a lot of criticism for being sloppy, misleading, and just plain dumb.

Now the "Whopper of the Week" feature is getting the same treatment. What's going on at Slate?

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has some thoughts on Slate's problem: "Part of the problem, I think, is precisely that these are regular columns, with constant plots -- not just constant subject matters (the war, the economy, or whatever else), but constant points (Bush misspoke, Kerry spoke in too complex a way, someone lied). This means that their authors are constantly looking for something that fits the plot. That's not a good recipe for sound, thoughtful journalism."

Nope.

UNSCAM UPDATE: An interesting development:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) has received a subpoena from a federal prosecutor regarding the UN-run oil-for-food program in Iraq, the world's No. 1 publicly-traded oil company said on Friday.

The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to comment on whether it has opened a probe of the program. . . . UN officials said they believed the subpoena to Exxon Mobil was the first indication that the federal prosecutor's office might be looking into the program.

Hmm.

UPDATE: Brian Erst thinks this is just the news hook the media have been waiting for:

This may be just the hook that will prompt the major news outlets to start fronting this story. Now that it can be spun as a major scandal involving US oil companies, there's a STORY here! It can be linked to Enron and Halliburton and other completely unrelated corporate malfeasance and shown to really be an "American failing" of "corporate greed", not the inevitable result of unelected, unaccountable, readily-corruptible elites being given access to vast sums of money. Besides, the UN diplomats involved throw, and are invited to, the BEST parties in Manhattan. What could be wrong with them?

I'm shocked by his cynicism, since the story makes clear that Exxon wasn't involved. Let's see if he's right.

MARK STEYN: "I suggested to him, as politely as I could, that, when Canadian nationalism is too strong meat for you, you know you’ve got a problem."

STEPHEN GREEN offers an interesting roundup of links.

HMM. THIS REPORT puts a different spin on the week's news:

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP) - Russia gave the Bush administration intelligence after the September 11 attacks that suggested Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was preparing attacks in the United States, President Vladimir Putin said Friday. . . .

"After Sept. 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, the Russian special services, the intelligence service, received information that officials from Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States and outside it against the U.S. military and other interests," Putin said.

He said the United States had thanked Russia for the information. There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials.

"It's one thing to have information that Saddam's regime is preparing terrorist attacks, (but) we didn't have information that it was involved in any known terrorist attacks," Putin said in the Kazakh capital Astana after regional economic and security summits.

(Emphasis added.) That's the difference between revenge and preemption. Bush's strategy was preemptive, for which he was criticized at the time. And this information seems rather more significant than the 9/11 Commission's claim that it can't prove a Saddam connection to the earlier attacks. It will, however, receive far less media attention, since there's no anti-Bush angle.

UPDATE: Lorie Byrd wonders what would have happened if we hadn't invaded Iraq, and there had been further attacks. Would Democrats be calling for Bush's impeachment?

Yep. And probably noting how tough Clinton was on Saddam, what with his signing the Iraq Liberation Act and calling for regime change and everything.

UPDATE: More thoughts here. Plus this observation: "I don't trust Putin in the slightest. But if he's lying that's interesting and if he's telling the truth, that's interesting."

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This piece by James Joyner is worth reading, too.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh.

DONALD SENSING has thoughts on Stepford wives, and husbands. Once again, Hollywood seems to be behind the times.

OPPOSITION TO THE WAR ON DRUGS from the right continues to grow. The latest manifestation is Joel Miller's book, Bad Trip: How the War Against Drugs Is Destroying America. I had hoped that the war on terror would bring a bit more focus, but so far it hasn't.

The response, of course, is that terrorists often make money via the drug trade. But they do that because it's illegal. At the very least, legalizing soft drugs like marijuana would concentrate resources. That nobody is thinking about that speaks poorly for the Administration -- and for the political establishment in general, since the Democrats haven't been any better.

WALTER SHAPIRO writes that Michael Moore's new film is full of "cheap shots" and "far closer to heavy-handed propaganda than to art." Say it ain't so!

I hope that Shapiro will review this film about Michael Moore when it's out, by way of comparison.

LOTS OF INTERESTING POSTS at Asymmetrical Information.

PEAKTALK IS BACK: Apparently, blog fatigue can be cured. But we knew that already. . . .

INTERESTING PIECE ON RADICAL ISLAM from Pakistan Today:

In an Islamist controlled society, debate is forbidden, difference of opinion and dissension is considered a perversion, and modern education a threat. Individual reasoning is forbidden. And expression of doubt about any aspect of the "religiously mandated" social, cultural and political sociology is barred as blasphemy.

Anyone attempting to challenge the status quo is instantly declared an apostate. An Islamist mind is a possessed mind - a condition that compels him or her to live to destroy others. An Islamist does not believe in living side by side with anyone who does not conform to his or her ideology. His life is a constant Jihad (holy war) to overwhelm and eradicate infidels.

No one is more threatened by radical Islam than the Muslims themselves. That's why some of us who have somehow escaped the Islamist control and influence have taken upon ourselves to expose the scourge and by doing so exterminate it. As a Muslim, it is my experience and observation that radical Islam can only be defeated by providing Muslims a basis of comparison - by informing them of the truth about the others. In an Islamist controlled society, Muslims see Jews, Christians and Hindus through a cleric's lens.

I hope this finds a wide readership among its target audience.

ANOTHER POLITICAL TV AD from the folks at Junkyard Blog -- who are being tough enough to match their name. . . .

ANDREW SULLIVAN slams the Big Lie: "The NYT had the gall to demand that Bush and Cheney apologize. In fact, it's the NYT that needs to apologize." Though he has some suggestions for Cheney, too.

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein comments: "Hey, I can't even find the goalposts anymore," and observes:

I mean, now the quibble is over the relative strength of the ties between committed mass murderers, each of whom declared war on the US...?

Some people are just not serious about fighting this war. Period.

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Adesnik has an interesting post on what Bush said when, and there's more on Oxblog if you just keep scrolling.

June 17, 2004

HERE'S A PICTURE from today's expedition. I outran the thunderstorm that was over Frozen Head when I got there (as you might expect from the name, it tends to get bad weather) but it followed me home, as you can see from the item below.

ANOTHER U.N. SCANDAL AND COVERUP?

Rwanda's genocide began the evening the plane was shot down and many credit that incident with sparking the killing spree that left about 800,000 people dead in the tiny central African nation.

Francois Pascal, a senior investigator in the Office of Internal Oversight Services, was looking into the crash when he found that his boss, Undersecretary General Dileep Nair, recommended he be suspended. Pascal was suspended in April, a month after a black box was discovered at U.N. headquarters. . . .

On Tuesday, Fox News reported that Nair is himself at the center of corruption allegations that have rocked his department.

It's getting hard to keep track.

JUST GOT The Simpsons Fourth Season on DVD -- blogging may be limited for a while. . . .

JACK NEELY has an amusing review of Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me:

Sometimes you sense this gonzo documentarian is tipping the scales just a little. It’s hard to take very seriously some of his vaguer symptoms. When he suffers chest pains and has a “weird feeling” in his penis, you wonder if hypochondria is serving the film’s purposes well.

The fact that some of the most loyal McDonald’s devotees Spurlock interviews aren’t fat at all seems to raise questions that Spurlock doesn’t address. A couple of healthy-looking street kids who love McDonald’s insist that McDonald’s is OK if you get a lot of exercise. It seems plausible and is one of the movie’s several loose ends.

The thing seems less an experiment than a David Blaine stunt. In his own way, Spurlock does point out that living like an American is sort of an Extreme sport.

But the fact is, he’s not really living like an American, but like the cloddish middle American pictured by New Yorkers. . . . But it may even backfire. I haven’t been to any McDonald’s in a couple of years. But by the end of this film, McDonald’s was starting to seem kind of dangerous and exotic, like an opium den in Shanghai, and I was craving a Big Mac. Until Mr. Spurlock reminded me, I’d forgotten how wonderful they were.

And don't forget the McRib!

UPDATE: Several readers note this headline from The Onion: Michael Moore Kicking Self For Not Filming Last 600 Trips To McDonald's. Heh.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Michael Greenspan points out that claims of Americans' fatness are overstated.

And former Knoxvillian Ronnie Venable emails:

Haven't seen this film, but I gather Spurlock eats mostly at McDonald's in the New York area, and lemme tellya, the golden arches up here are seriously tarnished. The food, the service, the ambience are soooooooooo much poorer than in the South that it's hard to even draw a comparison. I haven't eaten in a McDonald's in years, but whenever I fly into Tyson and head into town, I'm tempted to stop at the one on the Strip just to remember how they used to be......But then I remember that the Krystal is next door.

Ummmm -- Krystal. You can't beat ten-baggin'. And with free wi-fi, too!

BETTER ALL THE TIME: The Speculist has its regular roundup of good news for this week. It's a must-read.

WENT OUT TO TAKE PICTURES, got back just in time for a thunderstorm that knocked down a tree in front of my house. More blogging later.

In the meantime, Spinsanity is taking on yet another Slate "Kerryism" that Spinsanity says is even worse than usual, "taking an accurate Kerry statement and editing it into a form that is completely false."

Sheesh.

UPDATE: We went out for dinner with my wife's aunt, who's visiting, and there were trees and power lines down everywhere. Quite a storm. And, in the spirit of enterprise, when we got back a tree-and-stump service had already left us a flyer!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh says that today's Kerryism isn't any better and wonders if the feature has devolved into self-parody.

MARTIN DEVON looks back at Howard Dean's rise and fall.

MICHAEL MOORE UPDATE: from The Guardian, a report that his film Fahrenheit 911 is getting a favorable reaction abroad:

Meanwhile, in the United Arab Emirates, the film is being offered the kind of support it doesn't need. According to Screen International, the UAE-based distributor Front Row Entertainment has been contacted by organisations related to the Hezbollah in Lebanon with offers of help.

Indeed. Just more for these guys to work with.

UPDATE: More here, including this:

In terms of marketing the film, Front Row is getting a boost from organisations related to Hezbollah which have rung up from Lebanon to ask if there is anything they can do to support the film. And although Chacra says he and his company feel strongly that Fahrenheit is not anti-American, but anti-Bush, “we can’t go against these organisations as they could strongly boycott the film in Lebanon and Syria.” . . . Front Row, which also worked with Moore’s Bowling For Columbine, is setting a precedent with Fahrenheit as it is the first documentary ever to be released theatrically in the territory. Bowling went straight to video and had a healthy run. Indeed, Moore is, explains Chacra, “considered an Arab supporter,” locally.

He's found his audience there, apparently.

JAMES LILEKS pens an ode to Fargo. "And now, the Ironic Twist: There is absolutely no ironic twist."

And there's a lesson in that, for those willing to learn.

THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH has moved. Note the new URL.

SADDAM AND AL QAEDA -- THE BRITISH VIEW:

Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein did let al-Qaida operate out of Iraq, Downing Street insisted today.

A US report yesterday said there was no conclusive evidence of a link between the former Iraqi dictator and Osama bin Laden's terrorist group.

But Downing Street said Saddam had created "a permissive environment" for terrorists and al-Qaida operatives were in the country during his time in office.

No 10 said it was not claiming a direct link but a spokeswoman said: "The prime minister has always said Saddam created a permissive environment for terrorism and we know that the people affiliated to al-Qaida operated in Iraq during the regime.

"The prime minister always made it clear that Saddam's was a rogue state which threatened the security of the region and the world."

It seems hard to argue with that.

UPDATE: Andrew McCarthy has more thoughts on Saddam, Al Qaeda, and the 9/11 Commission.

MORE ON BEING SEXY from Eugene Volokh. Meanwhile Andrew Sullivan is blaming women for insufficient sexiness.

SADR'S DECLINE CONTINUES: "NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr sent his fighters home on Wednesday in what may mark the end of a 10-week revolt against U.S.-led forces that once engulfed southern Iraq and Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines."

It's not clear how well things are going with Fallujah, but the response to Sadr seems to have been handled quite well.

June 16, 2004

THE U.N. IS GETTING TOUGH WITH IRAN!

ANDREW SULLIVAN REJECTED BUSH'S CANDIDACY last month? That's news to me.

UPDATE: Sullivan responds to Jonah Goldberg.

IS THE PRESS ABOVE THE LAW? I discuss this subject over at GlennReynolds.com.

MORE ON DARFUR:

The United Nations, United States and humanitarian agencies have been urging the Khartoum government for the past several weeks to allow humanitarian agencies unimpeded access to the war-ravaged region.

Non-governmental organizations in Khartoum say the pressure is paying off and that since May 24, bureaucratic and other forms of restrictions have been eased. . . .

Meanwhile, a senior Chadian official accused Arab militias of recruiting in his country, which neighbours the Darfur region.

"There is a covert force seeking to transport the inter-Sudanese conflict (of Darfur) inside Chad," Allami Ahmat told AFP. He is both diplomatic adviser to the Chadian president and spokesman for Chad's mediation effort.

Mixed developments, I'd say. Meanwhile the Beirut Daily Star is chiding Arab governments:

While the United States is considering formally labeling the Darfur crisis as a genocide in progress, the world - the world beyond the Arab world that is - is justified in asking the following question: "What are the Arabs doing about this atrocity in their own back yard?"

The answer, of course - as usual - is nothing. . . . It is time for a word of advice for the Arab League: We are sick of vacuous statements - the time for action is now. In fact, the time for action was yesterday, last week, last month, last year, last decade.

Indeed.

MORE ON THE 9/11 COMMISSION: Staffer Jonathan Stull emails:

I'd recommend that you look directly at Staff Statement No. 15 when discussing the Iraq-al Qaeda issue, specifically regarding the Commissions' hearing today. Note that the paragraph in question is on page 5 of the attached statement. I'd point out that it is but one paragraph in a 12-page statement. The AP and others have picked up on one sentence, which was carefully worded: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."

The rest of the paragraph concisely summarizes the cases where we can identify cooperation and other connections where they exist.

The other relevant information is included on page 8 of Staff Statement No. 16. In the statement, which exhaustively discusses the 9-11 plot, we address the movements of the hijackers in the years leading up to the attacks. This paragraph addresses reports that Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence agency in Prague on April 9, 2001.

While some have criticized the questioning during public hearings, I have seen few quibbles with our staff statements. I urge you to look over all of the statements.

Here's the link to the staff statements. I couldn't get Statement 16 to open (here's the link to the PDF), I guess because of all the traffic. But maybe you'll have more luck.

More here.

UPDATE: It wasn't their server -- it was a hangup (again) in Acrobat's auto-update routine. Rebooting fixed the problem. I've read the passages that Stull references, and it's not overwhelmingly convincing, though your results may differ. At any rate, as noted below, it's important not to conflate Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 attack, which the Bush Administration has repeatedly said there's no evidence for, with Iraqi cooperation with Al Qaeda in general (existing and threatened), which there's some evidence for and which the Commission notes. As Stull points out, the statement is "carefully worded."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Frank Lynch makes the distinction but thinks it's the Administration that blurred it.

STEPHEN GREEN says it's a trifecta at the Times.

UNSCAM UPDATE: Claudia Rosett has more on the oil-for-food coverup at the U.N.: "The basic flaws are simple: Anytime you create a large institution, accord it great privileges of secrecy, give it a big budget, and have it run by someone immune from any sane standard of accountability, you are likely to get a corrupt organization."

Indeed.

HERE ARE SOME IRAQ TORTURE VIDEOS that the press, strangely, doesn't care about.

I THINK WE SHOULD SUPPORT THIS BLOW AGAINST IMPERIALISM:

One of France's farthest-flung and most exotic colonial possessions, French Polynesia, elected its first pro-independence leader yesterday in a blow to the government in Paris. . . .

France annexed the archipelago, a collection of 118 islands and atolls scattered over an area the size of Europe, in the 19th century.

Mr Temaru's election marks the end of a 20-year reign by his conservative predecessor Gaston Flosse, 72, a friend of Mr Chirac and staunch opponent of independence. . . .

France is likely to oppose any move towards independence. Thousands of French troops and civil servants are based on Tahiti.

"French Polynesia is part of France's aspirations to have a presence in every ocean and any loss of territory would have an impact on their status as a power with global reach," said Mr Maclellan. "The territory also has a huge exclusive economic zone, with rights to fishing and sea bed minerals."

People are calling it a "political earthquake" in the region.

UPDATE: Tucker Goodrich emails:

Support the Tahitian Freedom Fighters!

Think we'll see that soon?

On bumperstickers everywhere. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts on the Free Tahiti Movement.

I think I should go there and investigate. InstaPundit needs more firsthand reporting!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More people are calling for a task force on this important issue.

MORE: The outrage is snowballing!


A NANOTECH INVESTMENT BUBBLE? Some people think so:

One of the valley's most successful venture capitalists is railing against what he sees as the latest bubble: nanotechnology.

And that has the industry steamed.

Vinod Khosla, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has fired salvos at Palo Alto start-up Nanosys, which plans to offer shares publicly but has no revenue for the foreseeable future. He has criticized investment bank Merrill Lynch for hyping the industry just like bankers did during the Internet bubble.

Khosla said he is trying to prevent another bubble, in which public investors get hurt because they buy risky stocks they don't understand. . . .

Khosla has invested in two nanotech-related companies, Kovio and ZettaCore. But like other critics, he believes companies should go public only once they have a product.

I've heard this from some other people myself.

FROM THE 9/11 COMMISSION: "The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks found 'no credible evidence' of a link between Iraq and al-Qaida in attacks against the United States, contradicting President Bush's assertion that such a connection was among the reasons it was necessary to topple Saddam Hussein."

I'd be interested in seeing a comparison between this report and Stephen Hayes' book.

UPDATE: Steven Antler emails:

Please, Glenn, issue a call to the blogosphere to find out who were the two Bin Laden "senior associates" cited as denying the Iraq/Bin Laden connection. If the statement appearedin the middle of a long anti-Bush rant modeled after those originating from the US left, it is vital this news get out ASAP.

Let's hear it. Cody Hatch is already skeptical:

I assume that the Sept. 11th Commission has access to documents that I do not, and that they have access to people and testimony that I do not, but where is the "credible evidence" that nothing came from these meetings? Did Sudan, Iran, and Afghanistan send a senior intelligence official to meet with bin Laden, as Iraq did? How many nations sent official representatives in response to requests by bin Laden for meetings?

Sorry if I sound a bit skeptical of the panel's report, but it seems to me that either they have solid non-public evidence that nothing resulted from the meetings between Iraqi representatives and al Qaeda, or they are dismissing them for lack of solid evidence that something did result from the meetings. If they're dismissing the meetings out-of-hand, that's a major gap in their report, and should be addressed. If they have non-public evidence demonstrating that nothing resulted from the meetings, that information should be made public or the panel should say that they have classified information demonstrating that nothing resulted from Iraq's meetings with al Qaeda.

Sorry, but after the panel's antics and grand-standing over the past few months, I can't simply take their word for it.

Their behavior to date certainly hasn't been credibility-enhancing. Meanwhile Karl Bade emails that the Commission is being disingenuous:

The key phrase is "in attacks against the United States." It seems to me that the Bush Administration has been very careful to state that it did not believe there was a link between Iraq and 9/11, even though Czech intell stands by its report on the meeting between Atta and an Iraqi agent. This apparent mischaracterization of the Administration's position adds to the list of reasons to doubt the Commission's judgment as to what is "credible" evidence in the first instance.

And here's another writer noting that the report is being given an anti-Bush spin:

So. The Bush administration said Iraq and al-Qaida had contacts. The 9-11 commission says the same thing. The Bush administration hasn't said Iraq aided al-Qaida in any of its attacks. The 9-11 commision says there is no evidence that Iraq aided al-Qaida in any of its attacks. According to the Washington Post, this is "contradiction". Apparently somebody needs to sit the reporters and editors of the Washington Post down for a remedial logic course.

Stay tuned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Gerstman notes a chronological error in the report. Robert Racansky, on the other hand, wonders if the Commission read the U.S. Government's 1998 indictment against Osama bin Laden, which said: "In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the Government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq." Or did that turn out to be wrong? (There's this report, too.)

And Q&0 has helpfully outlined the talking points for both sides from the report.

STILL MORE: The Washington Post has apparently been editing its story this afternoon in response to criticisms, though it hasn't so indicated on the page.

MORE STILL: Tacitus has more on how this story is being misreported.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH: "It is more than a little shocking that some Berkeley law students don't seem to understand the function of a legal research memo."

THERE'S A NEW MICHAEL MOORE FILM TRAILER out that's worth your attention. It goes well with this book.

EUGENE VOLOKH PROVIDES ADVICE on how to be sexy.

SMOKING-GUN MEMO from the Council of Economic Advisors predicts an "inflation time bomb." Read the whole thing. Er, or as much as you can, anyway.

STEVE STURM says that I'm wrong to oppose torture, and compares me to Mike Dukakis.

UPDATE: At least he didn't subject me to an animated cartoon caricature, as this long, and actually rather thoughtful post (with many disturbing photos) does to Alan Dershowitz.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Torture as a bipartisan phenomenon.

A WHILE BACK, I speculated that John Kerry, if he wins, might be like Jimmy Carter -- elected by a constituency motivated by dislike of the incumbent, but without any mandate or political base once in office. Reading Howard Kurtz today, on how nobody's very excited about Kerry, makes me think I'm right.

Could America afford another Carter Presidency right now? I'm not as down on Carter as Steven Hayward is, but I think it would be a bad thing.

UPDATE: Call me crazy, but I don't think this slogan does the trick.

UNSCAM UPDATE:

WASHINGTON — The United Nations was rocked by a new scandal yesterday when reports surfaced that the diplomat in charge of rooting out corruption in the world body is himself facing allegiations about unethical conduct.

Fox News reported yesterday that Dileep Nair, the undersecretary general in charge of the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight, has been accused of demanding kickbacks and sexual favors in return for promotions inside his office. Nair, a native of Singapore, also has been accused of attempting to thwart the probe into the Iraq oil-for-food scandal, although his role in that probe remains unclear

Sources told The Post the allegations against Nair stem from complaints from employees inside the United Nations that have reached the employees union as well embattled U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. . . .

The allegations that the man in charge of ethics enforcement is himself facing charges come at a time when the United Nations is facing the gravest test of its credibility in the wake of the oil-for-food scandal.

It also comes a day after the United Nations published a shocking survey in which a majority of the U.N. staff said they fear reprisals from their bosses if they step forward with information about wrongdoing.

It just gets worse. Considering the magnitude and pervasive nature of these corruption problems, though, it's getting surprisingly little attention.

QUITE A FEW PEOPLE ARE blogging from the Southern Baptist Convention. Follow the link for a list.

OPERATION SHOE FLY: Sgt. Hook wants your help getting shoes to Afghan children.

June 15, 2004

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER: My TechCentralStation column for tomorrow is up.

THERE'S A NEW Michael Moore book out. From the publisher's blurb: "Postwar documentarians gave us the documentary, Rob Reiner gave us the mockumentary, and Moore initiated a third genre, the crockumentary." More background here.

I WONDER WHAT MICHELLE MALKIN has to say about Nicole Kidman. $72 million?

MORE ON MEDIA SPIN and the European elections.

UPDATE: Some thoughts on the German elections, here.

THE MANCHURIAN HILLARY/STREEP? Via Ann Althouse.

HOMEBREW NANOTECHNOLOGY LABS? Yep.

THOUGHTS CAPTURED IN REAL TIME? I wrote about brain-scan mind reading a couple of weeks ago, and now here's a report of something that's getting kind of close.

BLOGGING TODAY'S EARTHQUAKE IN SAN DIEGO: More here from LT Smash. And from Steven Den Beste. Nothing serious.

FIRST ERIC ALTERMAN, and now Country Joe McDonald, refusing to associate with communists! ("'Communism tends to be totalitarian, and I am not supportive of that,' Mr. McDonald said.") Bravo. Is this a trend?

UPDATE: But not everyone is hip to the times.

MILTON FRIEDMAN ON RONALD REAGAN: Interesting stuff from Virginia Postrel.

FOXNEWS IS REPORTING on still more UNSCAM problems at the United Nations, involving accusations against internal investigations chief Dileep Nair. (Click on the link and then click on the right to play the video). I can't find anything more about it on the web yet.

WE REFUSE TO SAY WHETHER OUR QUOTES ARE ACCURATE:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Reporters at three news organizations are resisting subpoenas issued in the trial of a lawyer charged with conspiring to support terrorists.

Prosecutors issued subpoenas to four reporters at Reuters, The New York Times and Newsday, saying they want the reporters to testify that lawyer Lynne Stewart said what they quoted her as saying in their articles. . . .

Lawyers for the reporters have argued that making the reporters testify would compromise their neutrality by forcing them to side with prosecutors.

Huh? When you quote someone, you're putting their words in public. Refusing to stand behind your quote isn't neutrality. And since when are reporters above the law anyway? (Emphasis added).

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has thoughts of his own. The terms "pretty weak case" and "appalling" appear.

BERNARD GOETZ: A squirrel-rights activist?

STILL MORE REASON for Bush to pick Condi as his running mate!

Trust me, Kerry won't respond with matching photos of Dick Gephardt.

John Edwards, maybe. . . .

UPDATE: Okay, before being sidetracked by that picture, I actually went to this article for the item about Eric Alterman threatening to sue Bill O'Reilly for suggesting that he likes Castro, which Alterman apparently regards as an unforgivable slur.

Nice to see such vigorous anti-Communism from Eric! Er, and I hope that he won't be appearing topless any time soon. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: I'm behind the curve on the shirtless Gephardt story. But he doesn't look half bad!

NOW WHAT COULD ACCOUNT FOR THIS?

At the beginning of the year, Bush's economic policies overshadowed all other issues in news coverage. However, since April, the networks have practically abandoned coverage of his economic policy - even as the economy and labor market have shown signs of significant improvement.

Go figure.

THIS sounds like good news: "U.S. companies are gearing up to create jobs at rates not seen since the height of the 1990s boom, a survey released Tuesday showed, adding to evidence that job growth will keep the U.S. economic recovery rolling."

GETTING THE WORD OUT:

MARYVILLE (AP) -- As the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment moves out, Blount County is sending a way for them to message back home.

Mayor Beverley Woodruff loaned a half-dozen laptop computers and a laser printer to the Blount County squadron of the 278th. The soldiers were also given 25 digital cameras to keep.

Cool.

AS I'VE MENTIONED BEFORE, I'm against torture. Megan McArdle has an interesting post on the subject in response to an interesting post by Mark Kleiman.

I find it hard to respond to these things in terms of cost-benefit. My law school mentor Charles Black once said that of course you can come up with scenarios -- the classic ticking-nuclear-bomb example -- where torture might be justified. And you can be sure that, in those cases, if people think it'll work they'll use it no matter what the rules are. But there's a real value to pretending that there's an absolute rule against it even if we know people will break it in extraordinary circumstances, because it ensures that people won't mistake an ordinary remedy for an extraordinary one.

I also think that the rather transparent effort to use this against Bush -- often by people who think nothing of cozying up to the likes of Castro, for whom torture and murder are essential tools of governance -- has caused the Abu Ghraib issue to be taken less seriously than perhaps it ought to be.

UPDATE: Useful thoughts on why torture is a bad idea, from Brian Dunn.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more here.

LT SMASH says that the "new" Zarqawi memo isn't new.

MAKING MILLIONAIRES: "North America is turning out more millionaires than the rest of the world combined." It's something we're good at. Cool.

UNSCAM UPDATE:

Many U.N. employees fear reprisals from their bosses if they step forward with information on the Iraq oil-for-food scandal or report other allegations of corruption, according to a shocking internal survey released yesterday.

A recent poll of 6,086 employees and managers released on the U.N. Web site revealed that the staff has little faith in the world body leadership's commitment to ethics and integrity and that most believe that when allegations of wrongdoing surface, they are not properly handled.

The survey, conducted by an outside consulting firm for the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight, also revealed that a large plurality of the staffers feel unprotected from reprisals for reporting violations because the United Nations does not have strong enough whistleblower protection and is run by an "old-boys network."

Sounds about right to me. And this scandal is much bigger than Enron. So what are we going to do about it?

CRYPTO-EXPERT BRUCE SCHNEIER tries to decipher the story about Chalabi and the Iranian codes.

MICHELLE MALKIN writes that Paul Krugman is lying when he says that Ashcroft hasn't convicted any terrorists, and provides a long list of . . . convicted terrorists as proof. Will the New York Times run a correction?

Meanwhile Stephen Green has other problems with Krugman.

SLATE'S BOGUS "BUSHISMS" AND LAME "KERRYISMS" are the topic of a new item on Spinsanity by Ben Fritz. These features have done more to diminish Slate than either Bush or Kerry, in my opinion.

ECONOBLOGARAMA! This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up.

THOSE WHO REMEMBER the great cookware pricing discussion may be interested to know that I bought a couple of cheap Cuisinart pots to use on the grill outside -- and they're very good, in spite of the ridiculously low prices. Go figure.

UPDATE: A fellow blogger sends an I told you so post regarding the Cuisinart.

MISUNDERESTIMATED? Charles Rousseaux thinks that Bush's vision on space is much grander than is generally realized. I certainly hope that Rousseaux's rather positive assessment is right, but I'm not nearly as optimistic.

TIM CAVANAUGH IS STAKING OUT A BOLD POSITION:

It doesn't matter how much gas costs, how poorly things are going in Iraq, what new torture memos surface, or whether there are new terror attacks inside our borders. John Kerry hasn't got a whore's chance in a convent, Bush is going to kick his ass all over the United States, and when we see the results in November, the idea that anybody ever thought Kerry had a prayer will seem as quaint and absurd as the brief flurry of "excitement" for Dukakis (or was it Kakdukis?) back in Old '88.

As I say, bold.

UPDATE: Here are some earlier thoughts of mine on Bush's vulnerability. I don't view Bush's prospects nearly as favorably as Cavanaugh does. But then, he's been in the tank for Bush all along!

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, Kerry's "misery tour" seems likely to flop, at least to me. As I said a while back, this campaign is like a World Series between the Cubs and the Red Sox.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE offers a very nice photo essay.

ALL TOMORROW'S MEDIA: Interesting point:

When U.S. policy was at its best, it refused to give the titans of one technology control over the next technology that came along. For example, the Post Office was not given control of the telegraph; Western Union did not control the telephone; and AT&T was locked out of radio. The lessons for us now, when the masters of old technologies, such as the movies and recorded music, want to control Internet technologies, should be obvious.

Indeed.

June 14, 2004

FRANCE IS NICE this time of year. I think this is another argument for early elections in Iraq.

THERE'S LOTS OF INTERESTING STUFF over at EconoPundit.

Meanwhile, Ann Althouse has multiple posts on the Newdow decision, and Dean Esmay has a suggestion for discouraging terrorists that clearly falls in the "what would Bugs Bunny do?" category. I think it's worth a try.

MORE ON AGING AND EXTENDED LIFESPANS: Here's an interesting Slashdot thread about the Methuselah Mouse Project and related items. But this post is my favorite bit:

Whenever the subject of interfering with nature / the divine plan comes up, I refer to this response which I heard one day in an interview: the single development in recorded history which has most vastly extended lifespans was the invention of the toilet... yet you don't hear people going around debating the morality of having toilets.

This reply is pretty funny.

OUTDOOR LIFE praises gay blogger.

IRAQIS RESCUE AMBUSHED CONVOY: Via BlackFive.

FRANCE reportedly faces an African quagmire in which it has lost the trust of, well, everyone.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has an interesting survey of how media are spinning the European elections.

REGISTRATION-REQUIRED NEWSPAPER SITES: Jeff Jarvis notes a growing controversy. Here's the advice I offered them a while back. Doesn't look like they followed it.

DIGITAL SLR WARS: Here's a review of Canon's latest offering. However, given its near-$4500 price tag even at a discount, I think I'll stick with my D70. Meanwhile, here's an interesting item from Technology Review on how this stuff works.

TALKING PIGS AND JETSONS CARS -- via the blogad on the right, I just watched this flash ad from the AARP. I'm a lot less skeptical about social security privatization than they are (in fact, I'm cautiously in favor of it) but the cartoon somehow kept making me think of James Lileks. And I'll endorse any policy if the AARP will make sure it delivers a Jetsons-style flying car.

BACK IN THE OFFICE, and facing the inevitable stack of mail. On top is what looks like an interesting book from Oxford University Press, by Abigail Kohn: Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures. Obviously, I haven't read it yet, but it looks like an effort to take an honest sociological look at gun owners in America, in opposition to the rather cartoonish and negative view generally found in mass media. Here's an excerpt from the introduction:

According to some of the top journalists in the country, gun enthusiasts and NRA members are racist, stupid, ignorant about history an dpolitics, apathetic to violence, bellicose, and jingoistic. They are, quite simply, evil.

It's difficult to imagine the media promoting these kinds of characterizations of particular ethnic or religious groups without a political firestorm. Yet these are routine characterizations of gun enthusiasts. . . .

When I began my research into gun enthusiasm and gun ownership in the mid-1990s, I learned that a number of my academic colleagues held very similar views.

The book looks quite interesting, and I'll try to say more about it later. Now I'm off to a faculty meeting I didn't know I had until just a few minutes ago. Sigh. Vacation's over. . . .

I'M STILL PLAYING CATCH-UP ON THE NEWS, but Winds of Change has its war roundup and Iraq roundup features posted.

A HARDY PERENNIAL -- law professors whining that their students make more than they do even before graduation.

I took a whopping paycut when I left law practice, and the gap continues to widen. Guys with my seniority are making well over a million bucks a year at big firms.

Best money I ever spent.

LAST WEEK'S COLUMN on aging research led Clayton Cramer to write that life is so bad it's not worth extending. Or something like that.

I don't agree. Meanwhile, here's an interesting post on opposition to anti-aging research. My column for this week will take a further look at the subject.

UNSCAM UPDATE: It looks as if U.N. staff may have been involved:

Washington --- An independent investigation of the United Nations' controversial Iraq oil-for-food program is close to releasing an interim report this summer that is expected to focus on U.N. staff involvement in the program.

But critics and supporters of the United Nations will likely have to wait about a year before the three-member committee releases its findings to the public on a wide array of allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the massive program.

I'm shocked.

UPDATE: William Safire writes "Tear down this U.N. stonewall!"

Let's advance this story. Two BNP Paribas sources tell me this: in a storage facility in Lower Manhattan, the bank had a large room containing some 5,000 oil-for-food file folders.

Each folder contained a copy of the bank's letter of credit authorized by a U.N. official to pay a contractor for its shipment; a Notice of Arrival monitored by Cotecna at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr if by ship, or the Jordanian border crossing of Trebil if by truck; and a description of the contract. The original paperwork went to the Rafidain bank in Amman, Jordan; copies of the damning documents are stored by BNP Paribas in New Jersey.

Though the U.N. purchases were supposedly to supply desperate Iraqis with food or medicine, most of this evidence deals with items like construction equipment from Russia, hundreds of Mercedes-Benz limousines from Germany and thousands of bottles of perfume from France.

The money trail grows cold; won't some lawful authority (Hyde? Snow? Spitzer?) issue a subpoena that would start "due judicial procedure"?

Read the whole thing. And read this, too.

BACK HOME: Regular blogging will resume later.

UPDATE: Various vacation questions: No, we weren't on Pawley's Island, though that's a good guess. It was St. George Island, Florida, near Apalachicola. One reader writes:

Where's the fish?

It would help put me in the mood - I go fishing in a few weeks, in Scotland. Hooray!

Your wish is my command! That's my brother, who agreed with my brother-in-law that it was the best fishing they'd done.

The InstaDaughter caught a shark, too, but I don't have a picture of that. Or of her eating her first raw oyster straight out of Apalachicola Bay. (She loved it.) The Insta-Mom learned to sea kayak, and I took my 13-year-old nephew for his first open-ocean scuba dives. I hadn't been diving in the Gulf of Mexico before, and it wasn't bad. Visibility was about 30 feet, and there were lots of fish -- spades, amberjack, mackerel, and grouper. Not the wild diversity of Grand Cayman's reefs, but a lot of fish. We dove three wrecks: the Lumber Ship, the Kaiser Tug, and the Mexico Beach. Couldn't do the Empire Mica, which is the premier wreck in the area, because it was too deep for a 13-year-old diver.

And, yes, I wish I were still there. . . .

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