micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links

Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.

Please send him email at micahth@chartermi.net.

Holmquist's full archives are listed here.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)

Aljazeera.Net English
AlterNet (War on Iraq)
Alternative Press Review
Always Low Prices -- Always
Another Irani online
antiwar.com (blog)
Asia Times Online
Axis of Logic
Baghdad Burning (riverbend)
BBC News
blogdex.net ("track this weblog")
The Christian Science Monitor (Daily Update)
Common Dreams
Daily Rotten
Democracy Now
The Drudge Report
Eat the Press (Harry Shearer, The Huffington Post)
Empire Notes (Rahul Mahajan)
frontpagemag.com (HorowitzWatch)
Guardian Unlimited
The Independent
Information Clearing House
Informed Comment (Juan Cole)
Iranians for Peace

Iraq Dispatches (Dahr Jamail)
Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report (Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice)
Mr. Show and Other Comedy
The Narco News Bulletin (blog)
The New York Times
Occupation Watch
Political Theory Daily Review
Press Action
Project Syndicate
Raed in the Middle (Raed Jarrar)
The Simpsons Archive
Simpsons Collector Sector
Technorati ("search for mth.blogspot.com")
United States Central Command
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
War Report (Project on Defense Alternatives)
The Washington Post
Wildfire (Jo Wilding)
wood s lot
www.mnftiu.cc (David Rees)

Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)

Thivai Abhor
As'ad AbuKhalil
Ken Adrian
Christopher Allbritton
Douglas Anders
Mark W. Anderson
Aziz Ansari
Atomic Archive
James Benjamin
Elton Beard
Charlie Bertsch
alister black
Blame India Watch
Blog Left: Critical Interventions Warblog / war blog
Igor Boog
Martin Butler
Chris Campbell
James M. Capozzola
Avedon Carol
Elaine Cassel
cats blog
Jeff Chang
Margaret Cho
Citizens Of Upright Moral Character
Louis CK
Les Dabney
Natalie Davis
Scoobie Davis
The Day Job
Jodi Dean
Dominic Duval
Steve Earle
Daniel Ellsberg
Tom Engelhardt
Lisa English
Barbara Flaska
Brian Flemming
Joe Foster
Yoshie Furuhashi
Al Giordano
Rob Goodspeed
Grand Puba
Guardian Unlimited Weblog
Pete Guither
The Hairy Eyeball
Ray Hanania
Mark Hand
Hector Rottweiller Jr's Web Log Jim Henley Arvin Hill Hit & Run (Reason) Hugo Clark Humphrey Indri The Iraqi Agora Dru Oja Jay Jeff Lynne d Johnson Dallas Jones Julia Kane Blues Benjamin Kepple Ken Layne Phil Leggiere Brian Linse Adam Magazine Majority Report Radio Marc Maron Josh Marshall Jeralyn Merritt J.R. Mooneyham Michael Scott Moore Bob Morris Bob Mould Mr. Show and Tell Muslims For Nader/Camejo David Neiwert NewPages Weblog Aimee Nezhukumatathil Sean O'Brien Patton Oswalt The Panda's Thumb Randy Paul Rodger A. Payne Ian Penman politx Neal Pollack Greg Proops Pro-War.com Pure Polemics Seyed Razavi Rayne Simon Reynolds richardpryor.com Clay Richards Mike Rogers Yuval Rubinstein
Steven Rubio
Saragon Noah Shachtman Court Schuett The Simpsons Archive Amardeep Singh Sam Smith Soundbitten Jack Sparks Ian Spiers Morgan Spurlock Stand Down: The Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq Aaron Stark Morgaine Swann Tapped (The American Prospect) tex Matthew Tobey Annie Tomlin Tom Tomorrow The University Without Condition Jesse Walker Warblogger Watch Diane Warth The Watchful Babbler The Weblog we have brains Matt Welch
Alex Whalen
Jon Wiener
Lizz Winstead
James Wolcott
Wooster Collective
Mickey Z

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
The sport of trying to make sense of the "war on terror"

The threat posed by "the terrorists" and weapons of mass destruction has been said to have been so great that the U.S. needed to invade Iraq and set up a new government in that country.

One could be excused for being shocked by a report on 60 Minutes this past Sunday, which revealed that there is plenty of reason to believe that security at "the nine nuclear weapons factories and research labs" in the U.S. is not anywhere near what it should be:

...a recent investigation by the government's General Accounting Office found that... security at these sites is inadequate.

Richard Levernier, a senior Department of Energy nuclear security specialist, whose job it was to test how well-prepared America's nuclear weapons sites were to defend against a terrorist attack, says security is not only inadequate, but some facilities are at high risk...

These were tests in which U.S. Special Forces, playing the role of terrorists, armed with simulated weapons, would try to penetrate the facilities, steal imitation nuclear material, and then escape. The security guards there were expected to stop the attackers.

“Overall, the test results that I was responsible for showed a 50 percent failure rate,” says Levernier. “If you understand the consequences associated with the loss of that kind of material, it would make the World Trade Center event of Sept. 11 pale in comparison.”

In fairness to the Department of Energy, which is responsible for security at these plants, it isn't as if there was a Cold War or anything.

(I haven't been able to find the GAO report but POGO has done work on this topic.)

While a similar lack of interest in the dangers of weapons of mass destruction in a case where greater interest would not lead to another war on the part of the Bush Administration has been noticed before, perhaps there is a reasonable explanation for this.

It might have been necessary to divert valuable resources to the effort to make sure the invasion happened. "A joint British and American spying operation at the United Nations scuppered a last-ditch initiative to avert the invasion of Iraq," Peter Beaumont, Martin Bright and Jo Tuckman write in an important story in Sunday's Observer. (More on this story can be found here.)

Or those resources could have been put into making sure Bush doesn't read everything. In the February 12 edition of USA Today, John Diamond writes:

A classified U.S. intelligence study done three months before the war in Iraq predicted a problem now confronting the Bush administration: the possibility that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction might never be found.

The study by a team of U.S. intelligence analysts, military officers and civilian Pentagon officials warned that U.S. military tactics, guerrilla warfare, looting and lying by Iraqi officials would undermine the search for banned Iraqi weapons. Portions of the study were made available to USA TODAY. Three high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials described its purpose and conclusions.

"Locating a program that ... has been driven by denial and deception imperatives is no small task," the December 2002 report said. "Prolonged insecurity with factional violence and guerrilla forces still at large would be the worst outcome for finding Saddam's WMD arsenal."

The report went to the National Security Council but was not specifically shown to President Bush, the officials said...

The study looked at scenarios including Iraqi use of chemical or biological weapons and the possibility that no weapons would be found. The study considered but rejected the possibility that Iraq had no banned weapons.

The study said arms searchers would be "trying to find multiple needles in a haystack ... against the background of not knowing how many needles have been hidden."

Some of the obstacles outlined by the study included the expected rapid movement of U.S. ground forces over wide areas, leaving critical sites vulnerable to looting. Guerrilla warfare, the report predicted, also would make the weapons search difficult.

It would be an error to think that the answer would lie in unglamorous possibilities. A desire to crackdown on porn could be the culprit.

Richard B. Schmitt reports in Saturday's Los Angeles Times that a new appointment to the Justice Department makes it look like the "U.S. Plans to Escalate Porn Fight"

Officials said the appointment of Bruce A. Taylor, who worked in the department during the heyday of its anti-porn efforts in the late 1980s and early '90s, shows that Justice is serious about cracking down on porn after what critics called lax enforcement by the Clinton administration...

Taylor, who in recent years has headed a conservative advocacy group fighting for tougher regulation of the Internet, has been given the title of "senior counsel" within the criminal division at Justice, with a focus principally on federal adult obscenity issues.

The department's obscenity chief, Andrew Oosterbaan, who has been drawing much of the flak from conservatives, will retain his position. But instead of reporting to him, Taylor will answer to a more senior-level assistant attorney general...

The department has made other moves recently to shore up its anti-porn effort, including assigning for the first time in years a team of FBI agents to focus exclusively on adult-obscenity cases.

In his fiscal 2005 budget proposal released this month, President Bush sought increased spending to fight obscenity; it was one of the few spending increases — besides for anti-terrorist efforts — in the otherwise austere proposal.

In addition to being an overture to the Christian Right, a new effort against pornography to get the support of people who have noticed the lack of porn in post-apocalyptic stories and concluded that the utopian possibilities of this period must be tied in with that.

Then again, maybe the explanation is that securing nuclear weapons sites doesn't amount to war and thus isn't any fun for George and the boys.


The rest of this post is an attempt to clean out bookmarks and may lack in the area of organization.


Bush spent some time with the people of NASCAR over the weekend. This would be preaching to the choir if not for how ungodly those musical types can be.


"British soldiers called hooded Iraqi detainees by footballers' names as they kicked and beat them, The Independent on Sunday has been told," Andrew Johnson and Robert Fisk write in Sunday's Independent.


"Iraq's U.S. administrator suggested Monday he would block any move by Iraqi leaders to make Islamic law the backbone of an interim constitution, which women's groups fear could threaten their rights," Robert H. Reid of the AP writes.


John Dean doesn't think much of Bush's commission to look into WMD intelligence.


"The White House is declining to make public the financial histories of the commissioners President Bush appointed to investigate U.S. intelligence failures," Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times writes.


Jonathan Yardley on James Baldwin




In a story from Friday, Gary Schaefer of the AP writes:

Near where the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima, the faces of the victims silently appear and fade on a wall of television monitors in a relentless display of the attack's terrifying human toll.

Amid the thousands of faces, one stands apart: that of Cpl. John Long Jr., U.S. Army Air Force.

Long, who died in the blast while being held by the Japanese, last month became the first American serviceman to be enshrined at a memorial here, throwing light on the little-known story of U.S. prisoners of war who perished at Hiroshima.


"Iraq's deposed dictator Saddam Hussein is unlikely to stand trial for at least another two years, the Guardian has learned," Rory McCarthy writes in yesterday's Guardian. "The Iraqi special tribunal for crimes against humanity is months away from hearing its first case, and when the trials begin in October or November the first defendants to appear will be high-ranking Ba'ath party officials."


Tessa DeCarlo of The New York Times profiles Sophie Crumb.


Mahmood Mamdani's "Why the US practises double standards" is a bit weak on dates and, much more importantly, implies that the U.S. did not support authoritarian rightist regimes prior to Reagan's presidency.


The Central Intelligence Agency and terrorists that are part of "the terrorists"


Larry David's "My War" is entertaining, and I say that as someone who does not like Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm. (I strongly dislike the former, FWIW.)


Joy Press on Tanner '88




"Christians, Let's Take Back Our Nation"


Jeff Jarvis is apparently unable or unwilling to see that "terrorism" and the U.S. are connected in ways that go beyond being adversaries. I just hope we can survive what Jarvis calls "Mexican soccer holligans."


"The teenagers of Ardoyne talk about suicide in the most shockingly matter-of-fact way, recalling the friends who have killed themselves. Many also talk of how they often think of killing themselves," David McKittrick writes in today's Independent. "The Northern Ireland war is supposed to be over but this tough north Belfast Catholic ghetto goes on counting its dead, with young people continuing to go to early graves because of the remnants of paramilitarism."

Militarism is always dangerous due to its ability to become the one thing it should not be, a way of life.

At the same time, events in Haiti show the fallacy of believing that an outside force is capable of entering and forcing a solution upon societies that have no resolved on their own. (This idea shows up in a variety of place, including the argument that democracy in Iraq will lead to democracy throughout the Arab world and Slavoj Zizek's in many ways brilliant Welcome to the Desert of the Real (Verso, 2002).

Sometimes a society has to sort its self out.


Daniel Gross:

With remarkable speed, renting videotapes has become passé. Instead, buying DVDs has become popular. You can play them anywhere, on portable devices, in the minivan, on your laptop. You can burn copies with a computer or digital recording device. And DVDs are comparatively cheap. By the time you go to Blockbuster, rent a movie, and pay the late fees on the video you forgot to return, you're half way to owning a DVD. Driving to a video store—twice—to deal with a single movie is a supremely inconvenient transaction.
I don't understand people.


Bryan Curtis of Slate on "The roots of Bush's Daytona strategy"


The BBC writes (February 10):

Foreign troops must target traffickers if Afghanistan is to win its war on drugs, a senior UN official says.

Antonio Mario Costa, head of the UN office on drugs and crime, said a rare US raid on an Afghan opium-processing lab last month should be repeated.

US and Nato-led forces have so far resisted calls to tackle drugs traffickers, saying their first responsibility is to maintain security.

Three-quarters of the world's opium was produced in Afghanistan last year.

Mother Jones has more.


Jane Mayer on "What did the Vice-President do for Halliburton?"


Here are some interviews with Gilbert Achcar, Kathy Acker, Sami Al-Deeb, Theodore W. Allen, Tariq Ali, Isabel Allende, Martin Amis, David Aguilar, Gregg Araki, Hanan Ashrawi, Sherman Austin, Anthony Aziz, Jean Baudrillard, Greg Bear, Walden Bello, Peter Berger, William Blum, Neve Campbell, John Carlos, Margaret Cho, Larry Clark, Sofia Coppola, Roger Corman, Ernest Crichlow, Barry Crimmins, Clare Danes, Gretta Duisenberg, Johanna Drucker, Umberto Eco, Ntone Edjabe, Barbara Ehrenreich, Carl Elliott, Norman Finkelstein, Joe Gage, Neil Gaiman, John Gerassi, Paul Giamatti, Terry Gilliam, Adam Goldberg, Fe'lix Guattari, Che Guevara, Günter Grass, Michael Hardt, Louise Hassing, Peter Hedges, Edward Herman, Jaime Hernandez, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Hudson, Eric Idle, Fredric Jameson, Ben Katchor, Sam Keith, Paul Krassner, Nancy Kress, Jean Laplanche, Geert Lovink, Rahul Mahajan, Sarat Maharaj, Mike Marqusee, Ray McGovern, David Meggysey, Russ Meyer, Evo Morales, Tom Morello, Johan Norberg, Tim O'Brien, Patton Oswalt, John Pilger, Melinda Rackham, George Ritzer, Edward W. Said, Danny Schechter, Hideaki Sena, Wallace Shawn, R.U. Sirius, Sam Smith, Annie Sprinkle, David Suzuki, Serj Tankian, Alex Villar, Sarah Vowell, Malcolm X, Michael Yates, Patrice Zappa and Slavoj Zizek

UPDATE: Tom Izzo once again shows himself to be a class act.

From today's Lansing State Journal, Joe Rexrode looks at Shannon Brown and "Spartan fast break: A weekly wrap-up and look ahead."


Robert Chalmers profiles Randy Newman in this past Sunday's Independent:

A front of cynicism - in the music, as in the man - conceals a smouldering rage at injustice and bigotry. In 1972 he released his study of US foreign policy, "Political Science": "No one likes us, I don't know why/We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try/But all around even our old friends put us down/ Let's drop the big one and pulverise them/ Asia's crowded and Europe's too old/Africa is far too hot and Canada's too cold/And South America stole our name/Let's drop the big one, there'll be no one left to blame us..."

Performing in the US, he used to introduce "Political Science" (which contains his most famous single line "Boom goes London, and boom Paree") by saying: "You know, over in Europe, they believe this song to be a joke."

Three decades ago, "Political Science" was wryly amusing song noir in the mould of Tom Lehrer. Today, after Donald Rumsfeld's remarks about "Old Europe", it reads more like Nostradamus.

"I doubt that Rumsfeld had those lines at the back of his mind when he said that," Newman says. "It's more worrying than that. He's a like-minded guy to the character in the song."

"It's a bizarre coincidence."

"It is, because he used the phrase practically word for word. 'Political Science' is closer now than ever to being something beyond jingoistic exaggeration. It's like the current US administration just don't know the rules. They don't understand that you can't consign a nation - Germany or France, say - to being part of an Old Europe that we don't need any more."

Maybe Rummy attended too many Lakers games.

Newmans's official site, randynewman.com, features a journal. "The wind is howling outside my window and I must take it to the streets," he says.


"As the violence continued in Iraq yesterday, the head of the American occupation administration admitted the US was waiting for the United Nations to find a way out of the impasse on handing over power to Iraqis. Speaking on two American talk shows, Paul Bremer admitted the US was now pinning its hopes on the UN, an organisation it had written off as irrelevant at the time of the invasion of Iraq. Rejected by the Americans and forced to flee Iraq last year after two bombings, the UN is suddenly back in the frame in Iraq," Justin Huggler writes in yesterday's Independent.


"Plans to plough up to €2bn (£1.3bn) a year of EU cash into defence and security research were presented yesterday, raising the prospect of Europe spending as much as the US Department of Homeland Security," writes Stephen Castle in today's Independent.


"Tony Blair's plan to lower the burden of proof for prosecuting terrorists and gangland criminals will lead to innocent people being sent to prison, the head of the body that reviews miscarriages of justice has warned," Robert Verkaik writes in yesterday's Independent. "Professor Graham Zellick, the new chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), said the move would mean a return to the flawed convictions of the 1970s and 1980s."

Brendan O'Neill of Spiked has more on Britain's defense of freedom, as does the BBC.


Tara Bagrampour looks at tensions between Hasidic Jews and artist/hipster types in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in today's New York Times.

Peter M. Nichols looks at some movies that have just made it to DVD in today's New York Times.

I'm amazed that Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar (1954) is only available as a region 2 DVD. I mean I know the French love Ray, as they should, but that doesn't excuse the rest of us.


Michael E. Grost's "Classic Film and Television homepage" is worth a look if the subject matter described in the title interests you. Grost argues that the study of auteurs and genres are can got together in "Auteurism and Genre Studies." What's interesting about this is I, a younger person, never doubted this and in fact consider some of the great genre projects such as Charlie Chaplin's mutual shorts, John Ford's The Searchers (1956) and Jean-Luc Godard's À bout de souffle (1960) to be the work of auteurs. Could there be a conflict? Yes, of course, but given the similarities of the recording material and the source material, there is plenty of room for overlap.


In today's New York Times, Marc Lacey writes:

It was 10 years ago that members of Rwanda's ethnic Hutu majority went on a rampage, killing their countrymen in a 100-day fury that left bodies strewn along roadsides, floating down rivers and piled up in churches, stadiums and schools. An estimated 800,000 people, Tutsis and moderate Hutus, died in the frenzy of ethnic animosity, fueled by an extremist government known for the motto "Hutu Power."

To commemorate what happened, Rwanda's leaders are planning a string of memorial services across the country on the 10th anniversary of the day the killing began, April 7, 1994. There will be testimonials from survivors, the unveiling of new memorials and speeches.

Raoul Peck, the Haitian-born film director who made "Lumumba" in 2000, is at work on his own remembrance, "Sometimes in April," an HBO movie that will recreate the horror as well as the heroism of 1994. It winds up filming at the end of February and is planned for television in the United States next year.

The film follows one family, using actual events as a guide, and switches from now to 10 years ago. Mr. Peck's movies have a documentarylike edge and mix politics with engaging story lines.

Already, though, the project is bringing the events of that April back to life for many Rwandans. Survivors fill most of the acting roles in the film and make up much of the crew. Recreating the horror has been a traumatic exercise for many of them, but a therapeutic one as well...

[one] scene required the intervention of Mr. [Simon] Gasibirege, the psychologist [at the National University of Rwanda]. The special-effects crew had scattered fake cadavers in a swamp outside Kigali that had been a killing ground and hiding place for thousands of Tutsis.

In the re-creation, some of the very Tutsi survivors who had crouched in the muck to save their lives returned to their old hiding spots. They were eager for the jobs, and for the world to know what they went through. They refused the boots that the movie crew offered. They had been barefoot 10 years ago. "They made the film just like it was back then," said Joseline Uwangabe, 25, who survived a month in the swamp in 1994 with her mother and two brothers. Six other siblings were killed.

The swamp scene was too much for one onlooker, a young woman from a nearby village who thought the corpses were real. She began shouting hysterically and sobbing. Then she couldn't move. "It took two hours for her to come out of it," Mr. Gasibirege said.

There are onlookers at every scene. Some hope to be given employment, which is in short supply here. But others are drawn by curiosity. Why is that man wearing the despised uniform of the now-disbanded Forces Armées Rwandaises? What are those loud bangs? Why are those girls screaming?

"It hurts so much to remember," said Jean de Dieu Butera, 32, who was in a crowd of gawkers. He had lost his parents and seven of his brothers and sisters in 1994. What happened to him, he said, would make a horrifying movie. Although remembering was painful, Mr. Butera said he was pleased that the movie would spread the word of the fate of his relatives and so many others. "Foreigners need to know what happened here," he said. "It could happen in other places, too."


Human cloning may still be a long way off, Stephen S. Hall reports in today's New York Times.


I wish I could make sense of this.


riverbend marks the Amiriyah Shelter massacre, which happened 13 years ago.


In an AP story from this past Friday, Ken Guggenheim writes:

The Bush administration is hampering efforts to improve intelligence by clinging to the false hope that weapons of mass destruction may be found in Iraq, the former chief U.S. weapons inspector said Thursday.

"My only serious regret about the continued holding on to the hope that eventually we'll find it is that it eventually allows you to avoid the hard steps necessary to reform the process,'' David Kay said in an interview with The Associated Press.


Afghan Freedom


"Most members of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council no longer support the Bush administration's plan to choose an interim government through caucuses and instead want the council to assume sovereignty until elections can be held, several members have said," Rajiv Chandrasekaran writes in today's Washington Post.

They want more power. Fancy that.

I suspect they will "their way."



Iraqi Democracy


Nicholas Blanford looks at the structures of Iraqi democracy that are being considered in tomorrow's Christian Science Monitor:

The first is to expand the Governing Council from 25 to 100 members to make it more representative.

The second plan calls for reducing the council to around 15 members until elections are held.

The third idea is to scrap the council altogether and hold a national conference of up to 2,000 prominent people to choose a new government among themselves, a plan echoing Afghanistan's loya jirga process.

A final decision is expected toward the end of the month. The United Nations is to announce Feb. 21 the conclusions of a recent fact-finding trip to Iraq. The mission assessed the feasibility of holding national elections before the June 30 deadline.


The Feminist Majority Foundation is calling on people to "Send a message to the Bush Administration that the recent move to cancel current family laws and to place family law under the jurisdiction of Islamic (sharia) law [in Iraq] is unacceptable."

There is undoubtedly something unsavory about feminists, or anyone else from the outside, trying to make sure that Iraq turns out as they want it to. At the same time, such a process is going on, so those who attempt to move things into a better direction are arguably not the cause of the problem so much as they are a product of U.S. control of Iraq in the same way that a vaccine is a product of a disease. It wouldn’t exist if not for which it is designed to ameliorate or destroy.


"U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that almost all of the Iraqi defectors whose information helped make the Bush administration's case against Saddam Hussein exaggerated what they knew, fabricated tales or were 'coached' by others on what to say," Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay of Knight Ridder write in a story from Saturday. (If that link is expired, you can try to find the story by clicking here.)


In Sunday's New York Times, Elaine Sciolino writes:

RAN is embroiled in one of the most serious crises it has faced since clerics seized the palaces of kings in Tehran and declared an Islamic republic a quarter century ago.

To protest the rejection of the eligibility of thousands of candidates in parliamentary elections this month, more than a third of parliament has resigned, and the reformists have vowed to boycott the election.

But it is a curious crisis. While parliament may not survive in its current form, there have been none of the street protests that rocked the big cities in 1999 and have occurred sporadically ever since...

"The conservatives know they face no serious challenge," said Saeed Leylaz, an economist. "They know that people will not come out into the streets for the cause of reform."


Bushist nepotism


"Aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis in Haiti, which is on the brink of a civil war between rebel forces and armed supporters of the president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide," Tash Shifrin of The Guardian writes today. "In a joint statement, 15 UK and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including ActionAid and Oxfam, have warned that the economy is collapsing, with a threat to food supplies as transport breaks down exacerbated by a doubling in the price of petrol."


"[M]ob rule" exists in the Haitian city of St Marc, according to Gary Younge's first-hand report in Saturday's Guardian.


"Haitian rebels seeking to topple President Jean-Bertrand Aristide have brought in reinforcements from the neighbouring Dominican Republic, including an alleged former death squad leader [Louis-Jodel Chamblain] and a former police chief [Guy Philippe] accused of fomenting a coup, according to witnesses," Ian James writes in yesterday's Guardian. "The rebellion, which broke out nine days ago in Gonaives, 70 miles (112km) northwest of Port-au-Prince, has so far killed some 50 people. Although the rebels are still thought to number less than Haiti's 5,000-member police force, their ranks have been strengthened by paramilitary leaders and police living in exile in the Dominican Republic."


The Guardian:

...Haiti is one of those places where the news is usually either bad, or very bad. At present, amid an upsurge in violent attempts to unseat President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, it falls into the latter category. Looked at up close, Haiti is a deeply depressed, deeply dysfunctional society. Its people live, for the most part, in abject poverty. Two-thirds of the 3.6m workforce has no formal jobs and no skills. About half the 8m population is illiterate; less than 70% complete primary education. Average life expectancy is 52 years; only 3.7% make it to 65 or over, and HIV/Aids infection rates are rising. Haiti has few natural resources; its economy is mainly agricultural. Its budget is in deficit and its external debt runs into billions of dollars. Haiti receives a mere $120m in annual economic aid. Britain chips in £125,000.

However bad or indifferent the political situation may be at any given moment, such figures provide the true measure of Haiti's tragedy. That tragedy has changed only in magnitude since Toussaint L'Ouverture led the slave revolts that won independence from France 200 years ago last month. Since then, free Haiti has never had a fair crack. The old colonial empires that helped destroy its aboriginal population turned their backs on the world's first black republic. The US ignored its existence until 1862. Later, beginning in 1915, it occupied Haiti for 19 years and then abruptly left. Years of dictatorship and coups ensued. To a degree, history repeated itself when the US intervened again in 1994 to restore Mr Aristide. Bill Clinton halted the influx of Haitian boatpeople that had become politically awkward in Florida. Then he moved on. Although the US has pumped in about $900m in the past decade, consistency and vision have been lacking. In 2000, George Bush dismissed even Mr Clinton's half-hearted approach as a misguided exercise in nation-building. Partly for that reason, another, direct US intervention is seen as unlikely.

The unpalatable truth is that Haiti just does not matter very much, strategically, economically or politically, in the world as presently organised. The Foreign Office's assessment is unusually candid on this point: "Intrinsic UK interests in Haiti are limited".

One could hope that this insignificance could open up a space for Haiti to develop and solve its own problems, but the simple fact is that self-sufficiency is impossible. Control and neglect may lead to different results, but either way the story is sad. 4:25 p.m. 02/17/04

UPDATE #2: It wasn't beautiful but Michigan State beat Purdue 62-55 tonight.


Somebody needs to tell Jeff Shelman that even the best of Tom Izzo's teams looked left for dead at some point.


Ward Sutton's cartoon "Bush Answers Questions With More Questions" is highly inaccurate. The press doesn't point out that Bush is dodging their questions.


Joy Press of The Village Voice invasive t.v. programs

From the same publication, Cynthia Cotts on capaigndesk.org and J. Hoberman on The Magnificent Ambersons


"The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, yesterday angrily accused the United States of being behind a 2002 coup and of helping continuing opposition attempts to overthrow him," Alexandra Olson writes in tomorrow's edition of The Independent "Mr Chavez said the US Government was providing millions of dollars to Venezuelan groups."

Crazy Bastard. You'll never find a good patriotic writer in a publication like The National Review who admits to America's history of controlling other countries.

I love this part of Olson's article:

A visit to Venezuela on Monday by Peter DeShazo, US deputy assistant Secretary of State for western hemisphere affairs, was part of the campaign "to try to destabilise Venezuela", Mr Chavez said. The US official urged the election authorities not to use technicalities to invalidate petitions demanding a recall referendum that could lead to a new presidential election.
Listen you stupid spics, it is not enough to have a democracy. You have to do it our way! 10:04 p.m. 02/17/04