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March 31, 2004
Headlines and Stuff

Contrary to what "resistance fighters" or whatever they call themselves in Iraq might believe, things like this don't make me (or, I'd imagine, most of us) think we should bail out on Iraq. They're not speeding up the process of bringing security to the country, either, so the end result of their behavior is to prolong the occupation they say they oppose.

A conference just opened in Berlin to encourage countries to aid in rebuilding Afghanistan so that it doesn't fall back into the hands of criminals and druglords. From what I understand, large parts of the country have not yet been removed from those hands (the BBC has a lot of good info), so this might be a tad premature, but I applaud the continued commitment.

An oil company is in trouble. Who'd have thought?

OPEC is cutting oil production by 4%. I paid $1.99 to fill up the other day and there's at least one place in Denver where gas is at $2.15. I'm just saying. Those living on the edge of poverty and homelessness are going to be in big trouble.

Defecting and telling the world that your home country is engaged in human rights abuses around weapons development is a good thing, but you have to use some sense. Defecting to China, for instance, probably isn't wise. They might send you back to face the music.

Speaking of facing the music, to what extent are Republicans becoming disenchanted with the Bush Admininstration's spending?

Soldiers departing for Iraq should stop worrying about body armor. The army says it has armor for them and soldiers will be issued the armor before they're in any danger in Iraq.

Molly Ivins thinks Bush might lose in November because of. . . birds.

And the debate continues over whether jokes about WMD, from the man who sent soldiers off to die to find them, are appropriate or not. (I know I argued that the jokes weren't so much evil as just stupid, but I admit that if someone I loved had died in that search, I'd be livid right now.)

Space should be a weapons-free zone. Period.

And freedom of the press has to be honored, no matter what the press is saying about you.

I'm sorry, but in what alternate reality does a restaurant employee actually believe they have the legal right to strip-search a customer?

How To Keep A Big Secret

Posted by AnneZook at 09:42 AM


Weapons in Space: There are treaties against this sort of thing. We helped write them, and we signed them. If we militarize space, we're going to end up fighting wars there, and those wars are going to have real consequences for us down here. "Rogue nations" are not going to develop weaponized satellite technology, so unless there's a clear push by some other major nation, or evidence of a threat "from space" (as Rumsfeld so ominously put it), we've got no right or reason to do this.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 31, 2004 01:18 PM

Restaurant Strip-searches: Clearly, we need to begin inculcating people with a slightly healthier skepticism towards "authority figures" like telephone cops, district managers and fast food supervisors.

Tom Paxton wrote a song about Jimmy Carter's encounter with a rabbit, and he gets the audience singing the chorus, "I don't want a bunny-wunny in my wittle woboat, in my wittle woboat on the pond / for the bunny might be crazy and he bite me in da fwoat, in my wittle woboat in the pond." The hardest I every laughed in my life (except for the kelp tea, I think) was after he taught 5000 people in Wolf Trap to sing that chorus, then looked up at us sweetly and said "It's amazing what people will do if you just ask them too."

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 31, 2004 01:23 PM

Birders against Bush: Apparently hunters aren't happy with him either, because of the commercialization and exploitation of previously un-despoiled forest and range.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 31, 2004 01:24 PM

Don't underestimate the political and economic clout of the so-called "military-industrial complex."

And, of course, space warfare/defense has long been a fantasy of some on the Right . . . many of whom arrived in Washington with Reagan in the early 80s. GWBush's Administration is stuffed with them, so it's no surprise that one of their pet projects is coming up again.

I really don't honestly think a signed treaty matters that much to this bunch.

Posted by: Anne at March 31, 2004 01:31 PM

It doesn't really matter whether they like the treaty or not; unless there's a clause for withdrawal, a properly ratified treaty is the law of the land just as if it were written in the Constitution (which is why us right-wing fanatics try to avoid treaties unless they're extremely well-written).

But I suspect China is unlikely to care whether we militarize space or not; they're not sending up taikonauts because they're hoping to reduce their population pressure. If they develop a good space program, they will put weapons into space.

Posted by: Andrew at March 31, 2004 04:24 PM

That's interesting. Of course, I don't know much about the question in general, but I wouldn't have picked China for a long-term drive toward space. Explain. Just how sure are you that China wants to put weapons into space and why would they be set on the idea? Who are they afraid of? Us?

Posted by: Anne at April 1, 2004 08:03 AM

China's space program has a couple of goals, I'm sure, but weaponizing space probably isn't one of them, at least not long term. Proponents of the US Space program have often cited the technological marvels which have spun off from that R/D project: China is hoping for similarly stimulating results. The Taikonaut program is also a poweful nationistic booster, a rallying point for an increasingly obviously diverse population. I suspect that missile technology is on their list, too, but as far as weaponizing space goes, I'd suggest that the Chinese approach to nuclear weapons (small deterrent quantities) suggests that they are more realistic about their security than we are.....

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at April 1, 2004 02:39 PM

Pondering Andrew's comment, it occurred to me to wonder if China isn't going into space just to insure that the USofA and the West don't start considering it their personal property. Just to sort of keep the options open?

Although China's need for a nationally unifying theme is certainly clear, now that you mention it.

Posted by: Anne at April 1, 2004 04:53 PM