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April 05, 2004
Ethics and Land Mines and Voting and Stuff

Another story of a lapse in journalistic ethics.

I don't think a smarter land mine is really going to fix the objections people have with land mines. As the world becomes ever-more computerized, I foresee ever-more danger that bombs activated by electronic signals could be activated by someone's toaster.

Okay, that's an exaggeration. But there's no way to guarantee accidental activation won't take place, triggered by someone's new security system or by the accidental crossing of electronic signals.

And there's no way to guarantee terrorists won't figure out how to activate someone else's minefield.

Also? Let's not miss the blackmail potential inherent in being able to call someone up and casually inform them that they're sitting on a minefield and if they don't behave in a way that makes me happy, I'll hit the switch. "I" could be a terrorist and I could be a 'legitimate' government, but it's blackmail either way.

What's going on in Slovenia?

Voters in Slovenia have rejected plans to restore rights stripped from ethnic minorities after the country's independence from Yugoslavia.

Around 18,000 people were removed from population records and lost all their residency rights.

Most of them were nationals of other former Yugoslav republics.

That's harsh.

On the other hand, I'm starting to wonder if voting is the best way to decide some issues. (I'm on slippery ground here, I know.)

Initial results from the state electoral commission showed 94% of those who voted rejected the law. Only 4% voted in favour.

That's a pretty sweeping majority, but it's less impressive when you read the next sentence.

Turnout was 31%.

So of the 31% of the population who cared enough about the issue to come out and vote, mostly it was the xenophobia and racists who cared? Are we to assume this is a fair representation of Slovenia's mindset?

Place-holding. It's an odd little story, but I can't honestly say I see anything wrong with the practice. I find it a bit hard to view it (as described) as some of kind proof of the evil power of wealth. I'd find it easier to sympathize with this as proof that we need some serious alterations in the way our government conducts its business, but that wasn't really the point of the article.

William Safire thinks we're all bogged down in ancient history, trying to figure out what happened in 2001, and should relegate those events to the history books alongside FDR and Pearl Harbor. William Safire, as I believe I've said before, can be a bit of a twerp sometimes. (I have no patience with people who don't think how we got where we are matters or with people who think anything more than a month old is ancient history.)

And I'm no military research and spending expert, so I can't tell. Are we spending $300 million a plane for a fleet of jets to meet a need that no longer exists? I'm not immediately convinced by the news that we have "old" planes that can do the job. How well do they do it and as those planes age, what will it cost us to build new ones like them and will they meet future needs or are the planned planes more flexible that way?

Molly Ivins mentions some things that matter to me. Like the lack of attention paid during a campaign to states not "in play." As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I support split electoral votes.

If a state's voters vote 60% for one presidential candidate and 40% for a different presidential candidate, then I think that state's electoral votes should reflect the split. Each makes its own decision about this and I wish Coloradans would give the issue some consideration. (Molly discusses a few other matters as well.)

And, while we're in Texas, say 'howdy' to Kinky Friedman who is planning to run for governor on a platform that's an odd mixture of the admirable and the absurd. Mostly the latter.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:34 AM