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July 30, 2004
The Quest for the Nonkiller App.

Lookit this.

"Active Denial" sounds unsettlingly like "Plausible Deniability" but that's not really relevant. There's no denying that a nonlethal way to deal with potential (but unproven) troublemakers is a laudable idea.

Nonlethal weapons first gained attention in the 90's, thanks to the efforts of Gen. Anthony Zinni, who was director of operations for American troops in Somalia in 1992.

(Zinni is on my list of "good guys" anyhow for being one of the men brave enough to speak out with doubts about the Bush Administration's Iraq invasion scheme.)

''When we arrived,'' Zinni told me, ''we were confronted with demonstrations, looting and crowd situations that didn't require the use of lethal force. The troops felt frustrated because they didn't have anything but their rifles and bayonets to deal with the situation. One day I came across some of our troops trying to hook up wires to their car batteries so that they could keep people at bay using electric shocks.'' Zinni quickly banned these makeshift gadgets, but he asked Central Command for nonlethal weapons. All he received were cases of pepper spray.

His continuing interest in and experimentation with non-lethal weapons (of a sort) eventualy sparked the current research.

''The way we currently outfit or train our people, they are confronted with these binary choices,'' [Adm. Arthur Cebrowski, who runs the Defense Department's Office of Force Transformation] said, the most consequential choice being shoot or don't shoot. ''Yet we know that combat doesn't necessarily resolve to binary choices. It's an enormously complex and dangerous undertaking. Shouldn't we have a more nuanced weapons capability to go with this?'' Introducing nonlethals into combat, he contended, ''will change the character of war.'' When I asked him about the bottom-line benefits of this change, his response was blunt: ''The general rule is fewer dead people is better than more dead people.'' He added that he believes there is a ''moral imperative to suppress the violence of statecraft.''

I'd like to believe in statecraft as an antidote to violence in and of itself. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case in the Real World.

I predict one of the uses will be on civilians, protesters or 'rioters' in the USofA, but that's just my opinion.

Mike McBride, a specialist in nonlethal weaponry at Jane's Information Group, an internationally respected firm that gathers and provides military analysis, told me, ''the idea that you can neutralize the enemy without killing them is an increasingly attractive proposition.'' He said that ''we're heading toward the day when, like 'Star Trek,' you can set the phaser on stun. That's the holy grail of less-than-lethal weapons.'' But, he cautioned, ''Whether we'll ever get there, I don't know.''

It's hard to reconcile this kind of research with Bush's demand for portable nukes, isn't it?

Both the advantages and the drawbacks make for fascinating reading. (I'm especially confused by the guy who fears that non-lethal weapons might not be acceptable to the international community. Although he has a point, I guess, I think the potential is impressive.)

On the other hand:

Still, if weapons like the Active Denial System leave no mark on a victim's body, couldn't they be used for torture? ''There's always that potential,'' Cordone concedes. And Goose adds, ''What happens when some of these weapons get into the hands of militaries with poor human rights records?'' He paints an Orwellian picture in which repressive regimes obtain nonlethal weapons to keep restive populations in check without resorting to the sort of bloodshed that can earn a country unwanted attention.

There is nothing that someone, somewhere, can't use as an item of torture.

Thanks to Col. Steve for bringing this to my attention.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:51 PM | Comments (4)
I Believe....

Because none of you have done anything in particular to annoy me recently, I'll spare you the two thousand words of rambling and background musing for this post.

After three months of essentially unnecessary (but very interesting) research, I'm no closer to being able to articulate what I believe than I ever was. *

Even more than that, I'm starting not to care. On the off chance any of you remember that I said I was thinking about it, I'd like to suggest that you clear that particular thought from your memory. I've managed without a unified theory of politics for the last 40 years and I think I can muddle along without one for the next 40 years as well.

I know I believe in public education, universal health care, protecting the ecosystem, safeguarding children, and space exploration. I believe in freedom, equality, and a decent life for everyone willing to do a reasonable amount of work to attain it.

I know that when I listened to John Edwards' speech the other night, I found myself nodding again and again. Yeah. What he said. That's what I believe. Tonight I'll listen to the Kerry speech that I taped last night. I hope I find myself saying, "Yes, that's what I believe."

Beyond that, I haven't a clue.

* I considered posting, "I now know what I believe, but I don't believe I feel like telling you about it" but a simple admission of defeat seems more honest. Anyone who would like to chime in with an explanation of what they believe is more than welcome, of course.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:17 PM | Comments (6)
What Do They Know?

What's going on at the NYTimes, anyhow?

Okay, it's "faux" (the link is nytimesfaux.com/) but it's an amusing headline anyhow.

Osama Captured - Kerry Campaign Questions Timing
Overcoming the distraction caused by the suspiciously timed announcement of the capture of Osama bin Laden, John Kerry pledged tonight to help build an America that is secure and prosperous within its own borders; the rest of the world was told to "shove it".
Posted by AnneZook at 07:40 AM | Comments (0)
I Just Don't Believe It

Are we really trying to hide in Iraq? And if we are, is it for the reasons given in the article?

Failure to stamp passports is common practice at may country's borders, so we shouldn't be floating the idea of a war against Iran based on the flimsy excuse offered by the practice. That's the argument, anyhow.

Bill O'Reilly tells lies to make the Bush Administration sound better? Never believe it.

So, there's no right to sexual privacy? Baaaad ruling. When you start subdividing the concept of privacy and saying some kinds are protected and some kinds aren't, you start down a slippery slope.

This isn't a question of criminality, so why the nitpicking? (Possibly because some people can not be convinced they're not entitled to dictate what other adults do in their bedrooms.)

I don't believe in prisons for non-violent 'crimes' like smoking pot. Any time you find yourself imprisoning an outrageous percentage of your population, you should start looking at the laws. (Reports vary, but if these figures and these and these are to be believed, we need to rethink our drug laws, because an awful lot of those over two million prisoners are in for minor drug "offenses."

I don't believe in "racial profiling" but as we all know, it's been officially approved for fighting terrorists, so the Census Bureau has ponied up data on Arab-Americans. And the article itself explains why "racial profiling" is a joke.

The categories were Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Palestinian, Syrian, "Arab/Arabic" and "Other Arab."

Looks like we're actually looking for, let's say, Saudi Arabians like the ones who hijacked planes on 9/11. We're not looking for people from Afghanistan. (Remember Afghanistan? Home of bin Laden and the group that we're told masterminded the 9/11 attacks?) We're not looking for Iranians, either, which is a surprise to me, considering our checkered history with that country. I guess those three countries constitute "other Arab" which I find offensive on a level I find hard to articulate.

From the looks of that list, we're scrutinizing people with dark skins who have not particularly been involved in the recent "war on terror." (And, for the record? Had there been any danger, no matter how remote, that I might not have voted for Kerry/Edwards in November, the danger would have disappeared the instant I heard Edwards' speech the other night and his reference to the "war on terrorism." I was almost moved enough to write a check.)

Would the USofA media "kill" a story that put Iraq's future in a bad light? Of course they would, but I'm not sure this is what's happening now. I think the domestic media is bored with overseas coverage where their star 'journalists' and commentators can't do breezy, on-the-spot commentary and are hoping to turn our attention to the Conventions. They know how to cover Conventions, they've been doing them for years. (It's arguable that someone decided coverage of the ongoing unrest in too much detail would be met with claims bias of being "anti-Bush' at best or more likely "anti-American" during this election season.)

Remember that story about USofA soldiers forcing a couple of Iraq men to jump from a bridge, resulting in the death of one of them? Well, the story isn't gone (even though it didn't make cut for the USofA major mainstream media. First, the military 'commanders have been granted immunity. It seems that the defense is relying upon another soldiers report that he saw two guys get out of the river, and a lack of DNA evidence to defend against the charge.

Let's add arresting people for stupid things to the list of things I disapprove of. Although, I must say that I'm impressed that the level of, you know, actual crime in D.C. is so low that they have the time to watch for chewing on the subway station platforms.

And, of all the things I missed of the Convention coverage, I regret missing Barack Obama's speech the most. Krugman is right, the media tends to ignore issues and focus on the trivial. I tried, I really tried to listen to some of the talking head commentary that surrounded the tiny bit of actual Convention coverage we were being given, but it was impossible. When you turn on the television to see supposed professionals discussing the hand gestures to be used in an upcoming speech, you know these are not people with anything to add to the debate. Apparently Kerry made a great speech last night. I'll know tonight, after I turn on the VCR, fast-forward through the underbrush and debris of media personalities trying to make themselves into stars, and listen to the speech.

Oil in the election gears.

I found this interesting.

In South Africa, we have a term, "Ubuntu," which refers to the spirit of the community. It is a shortened version of a Xhosa saying which means that I am a person through other people. It means that my humanity is tied to yours.

It goes on to say the USofA needs to get out and meet the rest of the world.

And then, 30 seconds ago, I find myself in a conversation with someone at my office who thinks you should just randomly kill drug users and criminals as a means of crime deterrence and now I have a massive headache so I'm going back to work.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:31 AM | Comments (9)
July 29, 2004
The State Of Things

Are there really burgeoning terrorism plots here in the USofA? (Does anyone doubt it? There have been for decades, as far as I know, most of them USofA citizens with no connections to any international groups.)

Still, one wonders why this stuff doesn't get bigger headlines if we're all really worried about impending attacks? (Maybe they actually decided the guy was just an average nut, who knows?)

Lunacy: Alive and Well

So, what's the legal status of a USofA citizen arrested at the request of the USofA government and held, again at our request, on foreign soil?

The FBI has questioned Abu Ali at least twice, but he has not been charged with any crime or allowed to see a lawyer, the suit said. The Saudi government has no plan to charge him and would release him to U.S. custody if asked, the suit said.

Okay, now I'm really confused. When I was young, the FBI was allowed to operate inside the USofA only. How do they get access to someone held by Saudi Arabia? And if the crime they think this guy has committed falls under the USofA's jurisdiction, why not bring him here and charge him?

I'm really, really, really not happy with this trend of arresting people and holding them without charges. I don't like arresting people and holding them 'indefinitely' while we refuse to say what they're being held for.

The irony in us starting to act like a lawless, totalitarian state while we're pretending to fight "terrorism" is indescribable.

Democracy in the USofA: Not going well.

Hmmm...surely they wouldn't go back to that well again? They wouldn't just retread 2000 and Gore Kerry?

Lies and Misdemeanors: Thriving

A. Co**ter, in case I haven't mentioned it before, is an idiot. (I'm not using her name again. I don't want her mindless horde of twelve adoring fans in my neighborhood.) (Nor am I providing a link to her words. I refuse to encourage her self-love.)

Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do. My allies are the ones wearing crosses or American flags. The people sporting shirts emblazoned with the "F-word" are my opponents. Also, as always, the pretty girls and cops are on my side, most of them barely able to conceal their eye-rolling.

For those wondering, that little piece of pointlessness is how she opened the rejected USAToday column*.

*I'm puzzled by the reference to "pretty girls." I suppose there's no reason C**lter can't be a lesbian, which is how the sentence read to me at first, but then it occurred to me that maybe she's implying that all the "girls" on the Left are ugly? (If so, us "girls" on the Left would like to thank her for the sexist language and only wish we could offer her a suitable tribute for the way she's personally setting women's liberation back a decade every time she opens her mouth.)

I read this woman's words, and I find myself staring at the Right in disbelief.

This is the kind of person you identify with? (I mean, say what you will about Hightower, the Left's most visible example of partisanship over facts, but at least he doesn't stoop to childish name-calling because he can't think of any real issues to write about. Well, not in his paid writing, anyhow. On his blog he's not so restrained, although nothing like C**lter.)

I think what I find least forgivable about C**lter is that she's not really a good writer. If she were clever, if she could turn a memorable phrase or create and sustain any kind of original metaphor, I could probably forgive the way she makes things up to suit her bias. But her stuff is usually a mish-mash of tired clichés and predictable name-calling.

Poor writing. The ultimate sin!

Still. She's entitled to write that way if she wants to. And USAToday is entitled to decline to pay her money to do so.

Freedom of the Press: Alive and well.

Tim Rutten was right. It was "casting" and she turned out not to be right for the part.

In fact, this is what he had to say (in part):

This is casting, not editing. It is an extension of the noxious talk radio ethos that confuses a provocation with an idea and abuse with entertainment. It makes a mockery of the fundamental journalistic standard of balance, because pitting two utterly predictable writers with a demonstrable disrespect for the truth is not a debate, it's mud wrestling.

Freedom of the Press: Alive and well, but hard to locate.

On the other hand, the poor quality of Convention coverage may not be the money-grubbing corporate networks' fault. Not entirely.

ABC News President David Westin, who didn't even bother to ask headquarters back in Burbank for more time. He told the Times: "What we've been given [at the conventions] is not something I can take to the West Coast in good conscience and say this is something we need to cover on the broadcast television network."

He has a point. It's a pre-scripted, polished waltz of glitz and glamour. Networks aren't adverse to "live" coverage of politics if something might happen. Maybe if the Conventions loosened up on the rules, they'd find it easier to get network coverage? (Not that I really think, "boring" is a good reason for the networks to fail to live up to their obligations, mind you.) (Nor do I believe that the Bush re-election squad and handlers who have fought to hard to script and pre-approve every public second of Bush's time for the last four years would ever, for one, single instant, consider loosening up the rules at the Convention and risking their guy falling on his face.)

Read Rutten's column. It's worth the time.

(He also answers my question of what precisely it was C**lter was saying in the paragraph I quoted before, something I would have known had I not stopped reading the "column" because of an abrupt wave of nausea.

[C**lter] went on to note that her "pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call 'women' at the Democratic National Convention."

Ann C**lter: Stupidity Ambassador From the Right.)

Moving on to considering Real Issues again, maybe the networks are just looking for Convention news in the wrong places?

Conventioneering: Borrring, yes, but why?

On the other hand, maybe I take back what I said yesterday evening about the "protest zone" at the DNC. From the sounds of things, maybe I approve of the decision by the police (or someone in charge) not to confine protesters to "the protest pen.". Sounds like an unsavory place.

And, speaking of protesters:

On Monday, a group wore black hoods to protest both the abuse at Abu Ghraib near Baghdad and the repression of free speech in Boston.

The two things aren't that similar, they shouldn't have been mixing their protests together that way. They should have chosen a message and stuck with it, you need to focus to get the word across. You can't just toss a handful of things in a barrel and assume anyone is going to understand your platform. (Isn't there anyone there to explain to them how to do it?)

Also? If they're protesting the DNC for Abu Ghraib, I certainly hope they intend to protest the RNC, where the people actually in charge of the mess that produced the abuses are to be found.

On Tuesday, demonstrators — most of them from an anti-abortion rights group — wore white gags and posted signs reading "this is a farce" and "pens aren't for people."

Looks like this group also allowed themselves to be distracted from their actual topic of protest, although the way this reads, it oculd be that they stopped protesting abortion for a day to protest their squalid surroundings.

And it's true. Boston should have done a helluva lot better than this. It's a disgrace.

I do understand the need for security. All question of terrorists aside, we have plenty of nuts in this country that public figures need to be protected against. But the protesters are right that the area provided for them is a farce. Boston should be ashamed.

A district judge ruled last Thursday that the protest site, while "an offense to the spirit of the First Amendment," was legal given the space constraints outside the FleetCenter and concerns that violent protests seen at the Los Angeles convention might be repeated. An appeals court backed the district court ruling on Monday.

I could be remembering wrong, but as I recall it, the police starting in whacking on people sparked the "violence" in LA. I'd suggest that telling the police not to, you know, start in whacking on people, is a good way to avoid violence.

Also? We all need to understand that today's Conventions are carefully scripted television extravaganzas that have nothing to do with whatever issues the public cares about. Attempting to get your message across on the Convention floor is a mistake.

Freedom of Speech: A touch wobbly.

(But, to balance that, we're not actually a repressive, totalitarian regime, and I do know that. If we were, the people and films mentioned here would have been silenced, and they weren't. We're just...in the hands of people whose intentions may be good but who are not only mistaken but who are proving inept at implementing their own agenda.)

Here are some entertaining accounts of the Convention, so far.

Teresa Heinz Kerry:

"I can't be packaged. I won't be packaged. If I have to be packaged, then I can't be part of the process."

Let's hear it for realism in politics.

And, finally, in the category of "dumbest headline I've read today" I'd like to nominate, "Nevada Newspaper Responds to Wildfire With Blog".

Next time, try a bucket of water, guys.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:47 AM | Comments (4)
July 28, 2004
Over the Sea

So, there was a "massive" suicide bombing in Iraq. 68 dead at last count.

Iraq: Not going well

And the international aid group, Medecins Sans Frontieres (or Doctors Without Borders) is pulling out of Afghanistan after having been there for 24 years. Seems that since we went in and improved things, the country just isn't safe.

A 'heartbreaking' decision.

Afghanistan: Not going well

Is the obsession with Iraq interfering not only with any actual efforts to combat terrorism, but with efforts to help Darfur?

Britain and America's preoccupation with Iraq has blocked international efforts to end genocide in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan, according to a highly critical report published by a think-tank close to Tony Blair.

The study, to be published today, said that the war in Iraq had prevented effective planning for military intervention which could have bolstered diplomatic efforts to prevent the bloodshed, which has driven more than a million people from their homes.

It warned that discussion on Iraq had prevented the United Nations Security Council discussing the Darfur crisis in May and diverted attention from clear warning signs that started emerging more than a year ago.

That doesn't sound good, does it? Certainly it's true that the USofA would be hard-pressed to support any significant U.N. action in Darfur, these days.

The study, which was published by the Foreign Policy Center, a left-of-center think-tank which counts Mr Blair as its patron, said that there was a fatal lack of political resolve to take strong action against the Khartoum government, a key American ally in the war on international terrorism.

There we go again, siding with what may be the "wrong" side to further our personal political agenda.

African Union Says Arab Militia in Darfur Burned Villagers Alive

Observers from the African Union say Arab militiamen burned civilians alive in an attack last month in Sudan's western Darfur region.

African Union cease-fire monitors say in a report the Arab militias massacred civilians in the village of Suleia in early June, in some cases by chaining them up and setting them on fire.

In another incident, the monitors say the militias, believed to be Arab Janjaweed, attacked the village of Ehda, burning it to the ground. They say the entire village was deserted after the attack except for a few men.

The future of Darfur: Not good

Is the key to success to work harder, not smarter?

While several German companies have recently reached deals with workers to extend work hours in return for job security, French leaders have now also begun questioning the country's once sacrosanct 35-hour workweek. "We need to increase productivity and stay competitive to prevent companies from moving abroad."

It just seems to me we should be able to think of a system that can combine the maximum amount of freedom and leisure with "economic health." I know that a system has to grow or it will die. I do remember that bit of my economics classes, but I wonder if maybe we shouldn't be balancing the pace of growth or something? I mean, would Germany and France be in this situation if it wasn't for pressure from Japan and (possibly) the USofA?

I don't know if it's the speed of growth that's being attempted that's at fault or if we need to be concentrating on a different kind of "product" or what.

Experts should be thinking about this. Do so, and get back to me.

Capitalism: Being measured for cutbacks?

I should get back to work if I want to keep my job.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:51 AM | Comments (7)
Matters Of More Or Less Concern

Electronic balloting. I'm not saying anything wrong was actually done. I'm saying that even the appearance of tampering or fraud should be avoided at all costs. If we want to be able to have faith in the outcomes of our elections, we need to be able to have faith in the processes.

Another perspective on the Sudan and another example of how carefully Bush's handlers manage to stage photo-ops. You'll pardon me, I'm sure, if I say this particular photo made me a bit queasy.

And The Progressive is still on McCarthyism watch. "Protesters Arrested for Aping Abu Ghraib as Bush Motorcade Approached" and "Protester Arrested for Carrying Sign at Bush Event" are two of the latest stories. Pardon me if I say I think they're reaching a bit. Security around presidents has been slowly tightening since someone took potshots at Reagan.

I mean, yeah, I agree the cops acted like idiots, but they were undoubtedly acting under orders. Blame the bosses, not the guys on the street.

On the other hand, maybe it should be an "Idiocy Watch."

The troopers took Finsel down to the station and locked him in a cell for three hours.

"I wasn't read my rights the whole time, and not one cop told me what I was doing wrong," he says.

"He didn't stay in his designated area," says Trooper Ray Albert, public information officer for the Pennsylvania State Police. "He was arrested for not obeying the rules."

After Finsel was taken out of the cell, he was given a citation for disorderly conduct.

"On the citation where it says victim's name, they put 'society.' " Finsel says.

You see? They were protecting society from the anarchy of a sign. Just doing their jobs.

(Joking aside, I'm concerned that we hear more and more about people being arrested without being read their rights or being given any idea of what they're being charged with. It's a very bad trend.)

Apparently those awkward, panic-inducing, fifteen-second elevator silences are about to be a thing of the past. Can't find a link to the story on-line, but I'm told the firm is bringing new and information coverage to elevators here in Denver. Instead of not catching a stranger's eye, we can now spend those precious seconds trying not to listen to canned "news" items.

"We have a good product, but we don't have very good competition since the other option is to look at the back of someone's head." -- Mike DiFranza, general manager, Captivate Network

Denver's experimental talk radio station ("listen to both sides") is gone. Which is a pity, since I only found out it existed about a week ago. The problem may not have been their format, it may have been their advertising. (On the other hand, there are only so many hours in a day and I wasn't likely to give up NPR.)

Under "other things that made me laugh," let's include the moment when, reading this Josh Marshall entry, I saw that Noonan had compared Bush to noted racist and white supremacist Woodrow Wilson whose years in office oversaw the segregation of the federal government some ground-breakingly progressive legislation.

If she's still dreaming about him donning tights and flying to save her from international scoundrels, I really don’t want to know about it. I hate it when people share their intimate fantasies out in public. Always makes me feel like I need to take a shower and maybe find something my brain can gargle.

Generally I'm okay with dissing people who are making idiots of themselves, but this goes a bit far.

(It's arguably in questionable taste to even mention the post or the incident. I do so only because if there's a story later that the So-Called Liberal Media is oppressing Coulter, you'll know what she's basing it on.)

Yeah, Coulter is an idiot. Yeah, USAToday was dumb to hire her to cover the DNC, if they were looking for unbiased, or even just professionally balanced coverage. She's not a journalist. She's not really even a columnist. She's just rude and blonde. It's a mystery to me how she's been able to make a career out of those pointless traits, but she seems to have convinced the Right she can Write and, as USAToday should have known, she doesn't specialize in facts.

But there are...I'm sure there are a lot of guys who find her mentally and physically appealing, so implying she's her own best girlfriend is a bit over the line.

(Don’t want to dwell on it...subject to nightmares...moving on, quickly.)

Saleton's snarky commentary at Slate is the most interesting Convention coverage I've read so far. (WiFi searchers trying to blog the Convention might want to consider Bill's discovery of the unprotected National Review bandwidth.)

I'm thinking that what we really need, to give us a sense of what a Convention is like from the inside, isn't bloggers writing. It's writers, blogging.

Maybe I just haven't read a wide enough sampling of Convention Blogs yet.

Walter In Denver recommends Reason Magazine. It looks like thoughtful coverage, but I haven't read it yet.

(I'm just skimming through my blogroll while I sit on hold this morning, which I seem to be doing rather frequently. Consequently, I can't really spare the attention to actually read any in-depth coverage of anything. I'm just bookmarking it all for later.)

I actually read, in Andrew Olmsted's comments section, someone arguing that if something was a good idea, everyone would be doing it and, by implication, if everyone isn't doing it, it can't be a good idea. They don't seem to have been joking, either.

We really have to do something about the quality of public education in this country.

Also, Gary Farber was guilty of referencing referring to, "Ad Hominem Tu Quoque" in the same comments string. I'm just saying. It's a bit suspicious, no?

I'm not really in a bloggy mood today.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:22 AM | Comments (7)
July 27, 2004
The News

So, tonight on the way home from work I'm listening to NPR and I hear that in spite of the massive security, and warnings about possible terrorist attacks, and the much-discussed steps taken to keep protesters under police eyes at the Democratic National Convention, I hear that the police have inexplicably elected not to enforce the protest zone and the protesters are out, shouting, chanting, and whatnot, a couple of feet from the delegates passing in and out of the building.

And the cynical, paranoid-theorist part of me whispers that if there's an "incident", the Bush Administration could make good use of it. I mean, I can hear the commentators now..."How can Democrats be fit to handle security for this country if they can't even run a peaceful convention?"

And I can hear Karl Rove chuckling as he pictures the nightly news coverage of delegates, hopefully even candidates, surrounded by screaming protesters.

And I can picture the Republicans saying solemnly that they're going to do a better job with their security...and then they and the NYC police department insure that protesters are kept well out of sight so that there's no chance of catching Bush in a photo shot with any kind of protesters and there's no opportunity for any unscripted, unflattering news coverage.

Of course, I tell myself that's silly. It's not like Republicans own the police forces in New York and Boston, after all.

No doubt there's a very good reason why, in spite of much-ballyhooed security concerns, the Boston police decided not to enforce that particular restriction during this part of the Convention.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)
Oh, Well

I wanted to watch the opening events for the Convention last night but my roommate was unexpectedly at home and since she's not a fan of political news coverage, I only wound up seeing about 30 seconds of it.

How on earth did Congress manage to pass this clearly unconstitutional Act?

Well, it's obvious, isn't it? They did it on purpose. Passed a bill that won't last, I mean. They want to be able to tell their conservative constituents they voted for it, but there was no way they could gather the votes to pass any Act that would actually survive a challenge. So they spent who-knows how much time and money passing something pretty much guaranteed to fail.

It's okay to vote your conscience, though. 23 Senators bravely voted against the Iraq war in 2002 and don't seem to regret it.

Seems there's been a Rocky Mountaineers Revolt and I'm glad to hear it.

Planned gas drilling of tens of thousands of wells has unleashed a backlash among ranchers, farmers and independent business people from New Mexico to Montana.

I don't have anything against exploiting our own natural resources to lessen our dependence on oil from other countries, but...well, let's rephrase that. I have a lot against the continued insistence on exploiting the limited reserves of the planet instead of putting our effort into developing alternative, renewable, less-polluting sources of energy. (And don't tell me it's impossible. Whenever we want a way to kill more people faster, they find billions to hand out for weapons research. If we cared half that much about clean, renewable energy, we'd get the job done.)

If we don't start making some realistic long-term plans we might need an ark for more than endangered animals.

Hundreds of defectors reach South Korea

More than 200 North Koreans arrived in South Korea on Tuesday behind a wall of secrecy in the biggest influx yet of defectors from the North.

Officials said the mass arrival was ‘‘sensitive’’ and refused to discuss details, disclosing only that an Asiana Airlines flight had airlifted the North Koreans from a Southeast Asian nation they would not specify.


China shows military muscle in weekend drill

About 3,000 people took part in a two-day weekend military exercise off the southeastern coast amid increasing tensions with Taiwan, people.com.cn reported Monday.

Officers and soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), militia and paramilitary police participated in the drill, which concluded on Sunday in Zhangzhou, East China's Fujian Province.

On Saturday afternoon, the exercise started with the lift-off of three red signal flares and lasted for one and half hours, said the report.

Receiving orders, the defence mobilization committee of the city of Zhangzhou rapidly mobilized and organized the local citizens to enter a state of war.

The exercise focused on how to provide support to the PLA on the sea when the war broke out.

The report did not say at whom the exercise was aimed. However, the PLA and the Taiwan army are now both conducting military exercises.


Posted by AnneZook at 07:04 AM | Comments (8)
July 26, 2004
That's What I Think, Anyhow

Too much Real Work today and I didn't get in early enough this morning to read much of the news before the phone started ringing.

Me, I think the hanging chad problem has a simple solution. Once the voter has "punched" the card for their vote, let the machine spit it out at them and let them check it to make sure it has registered their votes properly. (I.e., all "hanging" chads removed, etc.) Personally, I prefer punchcard ballots to the no-paper-trail electronic machines.

Just exactly how white are black conservative groups? (Me, I think there are conservatives of every color, age, religion, and ethnic origin. But I instinctively distrust groups formed 'specially to support major policy initiatives that I disapprove of.)

More commentary on what Bill Cosby has been saying. I think we all need to listen to him. I know parents who are struggling with the "proud to be illiterate" youth culture today, and they're not all Africa-American by any means. I see a culture of "entitled to a free ride or I'll spend the rest of my life bitching about it" all over the place these days.

A little history, a little context, a little about the oil. Darfur.

I still think we need a better way to handle legitimate protestors at conventions. I don't know what it is, but surely the location described in the article can't be the best Boston could do? Considering that protesters have been a staple function of conventions for a long, long, long time, I think it's time the cities tendering bids for conventions started making better arragements for the inevitable thousands of protesters.

Yep, the Democratic Convention is almost upon us. Is this going to be Kerry's chance to shine? We can only hope.

Another view is that Kerry is much less progressive than the others who will be showing up at the Convention, but that's not unusual.

Under the category of, "hey, cool!" we find a graph representation of each major candidate on the left-right spectrum but I'd be happier with some discussion of how the authors ranked each vote on the "left-right scale.

I'm just saying. I distrust methodology unless I'm allowed to look at it. (Not that that means I'll understand what I'm looking at, mind you.)

I read this about the 9/11 Commission before.

The commission's 10 members said they planned to team up in pairs - one Democrat and one Republican - to campaign throughout the US for the adoption of their 41 recommendations to make the country safer.

I couldn't figure out then if it was significant and I'm still not certain. I can't remember ever hearing about something like this happening before but as I've said many times, I was largely apolitical for a long, long time. Is it peculiar for members of a committee to go out on the stump like this?

Major floods in Bangladesh.

Almost half of the capital of Bangladesh was underwater on Monday after monsoon rains caused rivers in the area to burst their banks, sparking fears of an outbreak of disease in the city of 10 million.

When I get time, I'm going to google for maps of India and see if the capitol is affected by this dam.

A novel way to remove the stigma from AIDS. A beauty pageant? Well, if it works, I'd support the idea.

In the "Best Headline of the Year" category, I think I'll nominate Me Tarzan, you pre-feminist symbol of patriarchal repression. A study on the "intrinsic meaning and impact of the Tarzan films has been awarded funding from the Arts and Humanities Research" could be a waste of time but then again, maybe not.

The Hill's Front Page picture is fun today.


Posted by AnneZook at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)
July 25, 2004
Babbling and Conventioneering

As I've said before, I've been doing research on UsofA history, especially the early years. I think I need one of these shirts.

Very interesting Slate article on the real Bill Cosby. I was referred to this article by someone who also reminded me of something I hadn't thought of, or remembered, for 30 years. Bill Cosby was an Angry Young Man in the 60s. He has some right to be bitter about the way this generation of youngsters are treating the opportunities Cosby and others like him won for them.

I'd like to use RSS feeds so my links would stay live longer, but I've read and I've read and I still don't understand.

Cool website: Left/Right Perspectives For those of you in need of more bookmarks, it's a nice little reference page offering both "Left" and "Right" political and analysis sites on-line.

You know what makes me mad? What makes me mad is that I can see that the Library of Congress has stuff relevant to some stuff I'm researching, but I have to go to a "reading room" in DC to see it. On-line text is only available to members of Congress and their staffs. The thing I miss most about the university is free access to the university library stacks.

If you were too young to see the last nominating convention of any excitement in the last fifty years and if you're curious about the anti-war movement (since Vietnam is so much a part of the news again these days), and if you don't have many illusions about Daley's Chicago left to lose, NPR talked to Walter Cronkite about the infamous 1968 Democratic Convention.

The main flashpoint of the convention was the war in Vietnam. Thousands of anti-war protesters had gathered six miles away on Michigan Street. Fences, barbed wire and a strong police force kept them back from the delegate gathering at Chicago's International Ampitheater. And a telephone and taxi strike kept delegates and reporters inside in the dark for hours about what was going on outside.

Chicago police broke up a protest outside the Hilton hotel with tear gas and clubs. When footage eventually arrived at the convention, delegates reacted first with disbelief, then anger. Commentator and former CBS-TV anchorman Walter Cronkite replays what happened next.

Go to All Things Considered audio" to hear Walter Cronkite's memories of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. (In case they move the link, it's from the Friday, July 23 show.)

There's audio tape from a journalist watching when the police started in clubbing protestors (well, not all of them. I understand that those marching under the "Christian leadership" banner escaped unbeaten) with Cronkite providing context, as well as a very limited photo gallery.

Having become aware that that last paragraph doesn't read the way I intended it to read, I'm re-writing it.

There's audio from a sound engineer who was on-site and testing some new equipment and thus watching when the police started in clubbing protesters (although he makes it clear that one group, identified as a "Christian leadership" group*, escaped unscathed) with Cronkite providing context. The site also offers a very limited photo gallery.

* Researching this, I find that it was most likely the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as suggested by Ralph Luker. Information here.

Later note:

You can read a chronology of the events that week, or other stories on-line, some with pictures. The press trying to cover the protests had its own problems.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:19 PM | Comments (2)