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August 13, 2004
Friday the 13th

Food aid to to Darfur.

A column on prisoner abuse in Iraq and how the USofA is refusing to do anything about it.

You should know that I disagree with the basic premise of the argument, that we should march in and put a stop to any abuse. First, we're not exactly standing on the high moral ground at the moment ourselves. We whomped on a fair number of Iraqis and our 'leadership' insisted it was just isolated incidents. (I'm still trying to find out what happened to the 50,000 people we took into custody as we shot up the countryside. Where are they and who has custody of them?)

Second, sovereign is sovereign, okay? Either we handed actual sovereignty over to the interim Iraqi government or we didn't. If we did, then we don't have the authority to issue orders about how they should behave. If we didn't, we should stop pretending we did.

Sometimes you read an article and you realize part of it is just lies and part of it is just opinion and it makes you wonder what "news" really is.

President Bush said Thursday that America is "absolutely" better off today than it was four years ago -- on both the national security and domestic fronts.

"The world's safer. ... Libya's no longer a threat. Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror," Bush said in an exclusive interview on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"There are 50 million people that once lived in tyranny now living in societies which are heading toward democracies," he said.

Bush also promoted improvements at home.

"The economy is growing. We've overcome a recession and corporate scandals, a stock market decline and an attack," he said. "And yet we've recovered and our economy is getting better. The education system is getting better because of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Medicare law has been strengthened so seniors will have prescription drug coverage starting in 2006."

You do have to admire his guts, saying all of that publicly.

A Haitian refugee has been held, without charges, for almost two years. No one is saying he's a criminal. No one is saying he's a terrorist. No one is saying anything bad about him. But Ashcroft, it seems, has intervened personally to keep the guy behind bars?

If there's not more to this story than the column says there is, then getting rid of Bush/Cheney would be worth it if for no other benefit than getting rid of Ashcroft.

Playing his ever-present, all-encompassing terrorism card, Mr. Ashcroft personally intervened in Mr. Joseph's case, summarily blocking his release. According to the attorney general, releasing this young Haitian would tend to encourage mass migration from Haiti, and might exacerbate the potential danger to national security of nefarious aliens from Pakistan and elsewhere who might be inclined to use Haiti as a staging area for migration to the U.S.

The mind boggles.

Let's not go overboard. I'm okay with the concept of security. I think it's rational in today's dangerous world to take sensible precautions to keep the population safe, but I don't see the need for paranoia and rabid excess.

"On the date of the Sept. 11 attacks, the concept of homeland defense as we know it today really did not exist," he said in a Thursday interview, adding it had become "the highest strategic goal of transnational terrorists to attack the United States on our own soil."

I sort of hate to burst your bubble, but "no" okay? It's just so not even close to the "highest strategic goal" terrorists have that you're just babbling, so shut up.

Also, since when did "international" terrorists become "transnational"?

The thimerosal battle isn't over.

The UK announced Saturday they will remove the mercury preservative Thimerosal from their vaccines. The news comes days after an LA Times article reported that Aventis-Pasteur, a pharmaceutical giant, is pushing to keep the toxin in U.S. vaccines. According to the article, Aventis is "trying to rally opposition to state legislation that would bar use of a mercury-based preservative in vaccines administered to infants and pregnant women in California."

And while we're discussing healthcare, take a look at this:

Bush launches controversial mental health plan

President Bush announced on 26 July that his administration has begun implementing the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to "improve mental health services and support for people of all ages with mental illness" through comprehensive screening.

The plan states that schools are in a "key position" to screen the "52 million students and six million adults who work at the schools" and includes recommendations for screening preschool children (19 June, p 1458).

Mr Bush's announcement comes after new reports showing that increasing numbers of toddlers and children are being prescribed amphetamines, anti-depressants, and antipsychotic drugs. Concern that widespread screening will only increase the number of young people taking drugs has triggered criticism of the plan.


Victims of gas leak in Bhopal seek redress on compensation

Thousands of compensation claims relating to one of the world's biggest industrial disasters, at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal in 1984, are being taken to India's Supreme Court for revision next week.

The move comes in the wake of a Supreme Court order of 19 July, which asked the government to distribute the remaining 15 billion rupees (176m; $325m; 263m) lying in the coffers of the Reserve Bank of India.

In the incident, poisonous gas leaked from the factory, killing thousands and injuring about half a million people. Their injuries ranged from breathlessness and gastrointestinal problems to neurological disorders. The official death toll is 5800, but campaigners say that more than 20 000 people have died from gas related illnesses.

Twenty years these people have waited.

Sometimes it seems like every time I turn around, I discover another federal government group I didn't know existed. (Common sense should have made me wonder just who supplied the guards for federal buildings, but I don't spend that much time in them.)

This caught my attention, but probably not for the reason the editors expected. The headline is, "Should Putin Fear a Kerry Victory?" and I'm all sort of, who cares right at this moment which candidate has the backing of Russia? But then I read this:

The conventional wisdom is that Democratic candidate John Kerry would be more critical of the constraints Putin has put on democratic freedoms. Bush, a Republican, meanwhile, is a fellow warrior on terror who treats Putin with respect.

I mean, you don't often read that, do you? You don't often read about Bush treating someone with respect.

The article goes on to discuss that Kerry's foreign policy, based on what he's said so far, actually seems more Bush than Clinton, so there wouldn't really be that much of a difference to Russia, leaving one to wonder why they bothered with the misleading headline, but that's what newspapers do, isn't it? If they don't actually have an exciting story, they try to dress it up with an inflammatory headline.

I didn't read the article past the first few paragraphs. I lost interest in it.

That "green card game show" concept I scoffed at recently is catching flak from all over.

It's never too late to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Does that mean there's no hurry for me to get started?

The headline reads, "Boy Falls Out Window, Robs Death" and my first thought was to wonder if Death was going to file charges." Seriously, people. How hard can it be to write a sensible headline?

And, last but never least:

Fifty years ago, it was 1954. (Research is the heart of journalism.)

Many important things happened in 1954. Dean Martin sang "That's Amore," and the French surrendered in Vietnam (these two events were probably unrelated). On television, the new hit was "Lassie," a show about a smart dog who belonged to a family with the IQ of mushrooms. ("What's Lassie trying to tell us?" "I don't know, although the last 29 consecutive times she acted like this, it was because Jeff fell into the well!" "Well, I'm baffled! What's wrong, girl?")

Dave Barry on Godzilla. (He's right about Mothra, too.).

Posted by AnneZook at 01:10 PM


About the story on Bush's controversial mental health plan, to screen millions of teachers and students for mental health problems leading to the use of more psychotheraputic drugs:

This is the prelude to Kurt Vonnegut's "Welcome to the Monkey House."

Posted by: Mark Christal at August 14, 2004 09:08 AM

Or Huxley's Brave New World. NCLB could easily be converted into a tier-screening program..... Though his tax cuts are doing a pretty good job of that already.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at August 14, 2004 05:20 PM