3/08/2003

Richard Butler Speaks A few days ago the former chief UN weapons inspector Richard Butler gave an interview to Linda Clark, on New Zealand’s National Radio, which I’ve transcribed below for those interested. Well worth reading. Highlights are where he states the French are consistently lying over Iraq and they know Saddam has WMDs as they have the receipts for them and his comments on Scott Ritter. He isn't a supporter of war but he does bring some facts and honesty to the debate which are much needed.

Butler: I think we just have to accept, that doesn’t mean approve of, but we have to accept that we’ve been told pretty plainly by the President of the United States and people around him that they’re going to go and do this thing. I now think that we can say, as I said a few moments ago, for various reasons that it’s going to happen within the next few weeks. Now, the U.S. continues to say that it would prefer to do that in a legitimate way, that is with the backing of the Security Council and that’s why they’ve tabled a draft resolution and that’s why political negotiations are taking place. On that question you know, is there a likelihood that the resolution will be agreed, I think the likelihood is only 50/50. Three days ago it was even less than that. It’s improving slightly but my point is that even without that approval I think we now must conclude that the U.S. is going to act. Presenter: on that question of the resolution at the Security Council and obviously that’s going to be debated later this week, an interview in this week’s time magazine with Hans Blix where he suggests in fact that the gulf between the United States and France might not be as wide as we think. What’s your view of that? Butler: yeah, I agree with him on that. I think France has been posturing in a way that is almost outrageous. Let’s face it, you know, France knows Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. One of the reasons for that apart from the fact that they’ve got a very good intelligence service is that they know it because they’ve got the receipts, in other words because they sold them some of those weapons in the past. You know, it’s just silly and France also has shown over a long, long time that it’s not going to be divided from other members of the Security Council on matters like this, especially the Russians. It’s a curious thing that France is a member of the Western group of countries but we have seen over and over again that it will not be in a different place than the Russians on the Iraq Issue. Now, there are signs that Russia is actually coming to terms with the American contention that Saddam has had his chance and it’s time to go and deal with him militarily so I don’t know what will happen in the next ten days but I agree with the analysis that says that France’s position, in spite of their posturing, isn’t actually as rock solid as they proclaim and I add to that this, that if the Russians move, if the Russians decide not to oppose America or just simply to abstain, I find it almost unthinkable that France will not join them. Presenter: the French presumably are concerned that out of all of this America will end up controlling the oil, aren’t they? Butler: Well no, the French are concerned with the shape of the post cold war world. They don’t like a uni-polar world, they don’t like the fact that it’s becoming an anglophonic world. They’ve got lots of such concerns. Oil is a part of it. Its not always been easy and I sat at the Security Council table for years. I mean it’s not easy to work out exactly what motivates the French other than to form the view that I put a moment ago that when the train finally is leaving the station and everyone is on it, they’re not going to be off it. I think they’re.. I think what we’re seeing now is a basic antipathy to pax Americana, the idea that the world can be dominated by American interests and they find it important to oppose that up to a point and I think that’s what we’re seeing played out here. Their contentions about Iraq and the state of disarmament and the need for more inspections and so on are rather empty. I’ve read carefully the paper that they submitted to the Security Council and I was shocked. I was quite frankly shocked because of all of the fuss that the French president had been making about the high moral ground, when you read that paper it begins with two statements of alleged fact that are frankly lies, just not true and I can’t believe it that with all of their posturing they begin in their paper by putting forth contentions that are simply not true and then go on to make proposals for renewed inspections that we tried years ago. Presenter: so what have they said that’s not true? Butler: Oh, about how it is perfectly clear and abundantly established that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction and there’s been no evidence produced to that effect. I mean that is nonsense. France itself has signed up to previous Security Council conclusions that this is not the case. France itself voted in the unanimous decision of last November to create resolution 14.41 which clearly states that Iraq has weapons unaccounted for. For it to now submit a paper that says there’s no evidence of that is just a lie.

Shameless "Boobies for Hits Survey" Nominations Now Being Taken Ok admit it, you're not here for the pithy observations and penetrating political analysis; you're all here for nakedness aren't you. Dont lie, we got more comments from Mike's boobs for beads post than any other five combined. Well you cant fight the numbers so lets give the mob what they want! Send in or post in the comments, your nominations for whose naked boobies you want to see the most. The top five will go into a poll. What happens after that depends on how public spirited the individual is and wether or not they have a lawyer on tap. In the interests of keeping it all in the family. Anyone who has been silly enough to have added a comment to any post on this site in the last six months is eligible for nomination. So if you have always want to see Fat Old Sailor shirtless, now is your chance! I hope you all appreciate the sacrifice Im making here, there are at least three people who are just likely to smack me upside the head when they read this tomorrow.
INTREP: FRANCE: France is a medium-sized foreign country situated in the continent of Europe. It is an important member of the world community, though not nearly as important as it thinks. It is bounded by Germany, Spain, Switzerland and some smaller nations of no particular importance and with not very good shopping. France is a very old country with many treasures, such as the Louvre and Euro Disney. Among its contributions to western civilization are champagne, Camembert cheese and the guillotine. Although France likes to think of itself as a modern nation, air conditioning is little used and it is next to impossible for Americans to get decent Mexican food. One continuing exasperation for American visitors is that local people insist on speaking in French, though many will speak English if shouted at. Watch your money at all times. THE PEOPLE France has a population of 57 million people. 52 million of these drink and smoke (the other 5 million are small children). All French people drive like lunatics, are dangerously over sexed, and have no concept of standing patiently in line. The French people are in general gloomy, temperamental, proud, arrogant, aloof and disciplined; those are their good points. Most French citizens are Roman Catholic, though you would hardly guess it from their behaviour. Many French are communists. Men sometimes have girls' names like Marie or Michel, and they kiss each other when they meet. American travellers are advised to travel in groups and wear baseball caps and colourful trousers for easier recognition. SAFETY In general, France is a safe destination, although travellers must be aware that from time to time it is invaded by Germany. Traditionally, the French surrender immediately. A tunnel connecting France to Britain beneath the English Channel has been opened in recent years to make it easier for the French government to flee to London during future German invasions, and for them to offload all their illegal immigrants. HISTORY Charlemagne discovered France in the Dark Ages. Other important historical figures are Louis XIV, the Huguenots, Joan of Arc, Jacques Cousteau and Charles de Gaulle, who was President for many years and is now an airport. GOVERNMENT The French form of government is democratic but noisy. Parliament's principal occupation is setting off atomic bombs in the South Pacific and acting indignant and surprised when other countries complain. According to the most current American State department intelligence, the President is now someone named Jacques. Further information is not available at this time. CULTURE The French pride themselves on their culture, though it is not easy to see why. All their music sounds the same and they have never made a movie that you would want to watch for anything but the nude scenes. CUISINE Let's face it, no matter how much garlic you put on it, a snail is just a slug with a shell on its back. Croissants on the other hand, are excellent, although it is impossible for most Americans to pronounce this word. In general, travellers are advised to stick to cheeseburgers. ECONOMY France has a large and diversified economy, second only to Germany's in Europe, which is surprising because the French hardly work at all. If they are not spending four hours dawdling over lunch, they are on strike and blocking the roads with their trucks and tractors. France's principal exports, in order of importance to the economy, are wine, nuclear weapons, perfume, guided missiles, champagne, guns, grenade launchers, land mines, tanks, attack aircraft, miscellaneous armaments and cheese. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS France has more holidays than any other nation in the world. Among It's 361 national holidays are: 197 Saints' days, 37 National Liberation Days, 16 Declaration of Republic Days, 54 Return of Charles de Gaulle-in-triumph-as-if-he-won-the- war-single-handed Days, 18 Napoleon-sent-into-Exile-Days, 17 Napoleon-Called-Back-from-Exile-Days, and 2 "France is Great and the Rest of the World Stinks" Days. CONCLUSION At least it's not Germany.
And if you still believe blubbering Blix...
Not only does he seem to be less than enthusiastic about finding WMD associated equipment, he neglects to mention it when he does. No, no agenda here. Lets get the party started before his reports contain recommendations for an inspector's pension plan after playing 20 years of blind man's bluff.

3/07/2003

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RIK MAYELL!! Yes the universal roll model for the Hill brothers turns 45 today, well yesterday for me. Jeeze we need to get this time zone thing sorted! Universal roll model you ask? Why ceratainly, he inspired Bruce as Rick, "The Peoples Poet" the left wing fascist bastard in the Young Ones, then to assist Bruces political flip flop as Alan B'Stard, RIGHT wing fascist bastard in The New Statesman. Me? Lord Flasheart in Blackadder of course... well duh! "How disgusting, a German on the sole of my boot, I'll probably be shunned in the officers mess now. Sorry about the pong you fellows, trod in a boche and can't get rid of the wiff!" Comedy or documentry, such a fine line.
AND THE DEADLINE IS....ST PATRICKS DAY! March 17th is D-Day, according to Jack Straw. It's St Patrick's Day, when Islamically-prohibited alcohol has been known to flow freely. And this year, the day after is Purim, the Jewish festival in which we commemorate our military triumph over those who were about to exterminate us, and when it it a religious obligation to get rip-roaringly drunk.

1 And in the twelfth month, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's command and his order came to be done, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them; though it was turned around, so that the Jews had rule over the ones who hated them. 2 The Jews gathered themselves in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, in order to lay hand on any who sought their harm. And no man could withstand them, for the fear of them fell on all people. 5 And the Jews struck all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would to those who hated them. 15 For the Jews in Shushan gathered themselves on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and killed three hundred men at Shushan. But they did not lay their hands on the spoil. 16 But the rest of the Jews in the king's provinces gathered themselves and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of their foes. But they did not lay their hands on the spoil. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who lived in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and a day of sending portions to one another.

Is God (or whoever's really in charge) trying to tell us something? CHENEY. O that we now had here But one ten thousand of those men in England That do no work to-day! BUSH. What's he that wishes so? My cousin Cheney? No, my fair cousin; If we are mark'd to die, we are enow To do our country loss; and if to live, The fewer men, the greater share of honour. God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more. By Jove, I am not covetous for gold, Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost; It yearns me not if men my garments wear; Such outward things dwell not in my desires. But if it be a sin to covet honour, I am the most offending soul alive. No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England. God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour As one man more methinks would share from me For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more! Rather proclaim it, Cheney, through my host, That he which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart; his passport shall be made, And crowns for convoy put into his purse; We would not die in that man's company That fears his fellowship to die with us. This day is call'd the feast of Patrick. He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd, And rouse him at the name of Patrick. He that shall live this day, and see old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say 'To-morrow is Saint Patrick's.' Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, And say 'These wounds I had on St Patrick's Day.' Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, But he'll remember, with advantages, What feats he did that day. Then shall our names, Familiar in his mouth as household words- George the President, Colin, Rummy and Condi, Tony and John and Jose Maria and Arik- Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red. This story shall the good man teach his son; And St Patrick's Day shall ne'er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered- We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; Make him a member of the gentry, even if he is a commoner. And gentlemen in England now-a-bed Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Patrick's day.
Line On The Left, One Cross Each. Ok just when I thought those crazy kids from liberal New Zealand had hit rock bottom, they pull out the blasting powder and head for China. Their motto apparently being "When you get to the bottom of the hole, the stupid get going". This... (insert you own word, I'm at a loss) has offered herself to GW for crucifiction in exchange for him not attacking Iraq. God I wish I coould write fiction this good! NZ Pundit has the story. I said to Gordon I had bridge spikes if he had the wood and we could hitch there, do the deed and be back in time for work on Monday, but he seems to think I was joking. The funny noise being picked up in Aussie is just 3.9 million Kiwis making the Marge Simpson noise.
Quote of the Millennium. The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth When the last soldier leaves it to them in his will.

3/06/2003

UPDATE: Good idea, its now a caption competition. Go for it.
Missing the main event?
Seeing Tom's last entry, this article is not at all surprising.
"If the President of the United States decides to undertake action, we are in a position to provide a military option" Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command
And of note, the administration is now mentioning that Iraq now has a 'few days,' a change from the mention of weeks being used earlier. Of course, studying the news reports coming from the area itself, one could easily get the impression that things are already well underway. Is it possible that the diplomats and media types that are still deluded into thinking they can influence events are so busy trying to get everyone to pay attention to their opposition that they'll up and miss the whole thing? We're rapidly approaching the point that they might as well just go out and play frisbee, for all the impact they're having. It will happen very, very quickly - possibly over in a matter of a few days. With such speed that the term 'Blitzkrieg' may take on a whole new meaning, akin to describing a turtle race. At this rate, we may see headline space shared by continuing UNSC bickering, inflated protestor coverage, and the announcement of the first press conference by the new military governor of freshly liberated Iraq.
THE TONGANS ARE HERE, YOU CAN START THE WAR NOW As part of my job, which for legal reasons I can't talk about, I get to travel around the South Pacific quite a lot. That's not as glamorous as it sounds, because whenever I'm up in the islands, there's just been a cyclone, or a civil war, or a tsunami or some damn thing that ensures poor room service, power outages, and boulders in the hotel swimming pool. Monumentally rude government officials are, of course, a permanent fixture. But wherever I go, I make sure to get invited to a kava circle (it's a drink made from the crushed roots of a pepper-like bush, traditionally chewed by the old women of the village, tastes as good as it sounds) in order to plug into what's really going on. And to learn local history. And from Papua New Guinea, through New Caledonia and Vanuatu, to Fiji, Samoa and the Cooks, all the way over to Tahiti, wherever I've gone, at some stage in the recitation of local history, some venerable repository of legends and stories will say something along these lines: "...and then a Tongan war party came over the horizon, massacred all the men, took the prettiest women for themselves, raped the others, and took off again". For those of you who don't know the Tongans, count yourselves lucky. They put the Vikings to shame for warlike aggression, and being a reasonably unified people, their raiding was done on a far more organised and profitable basis than even the Samoans to the north could manage. There was a period of around 300 years in which the Tongans actually conquered and ruled Samoa (that's not the way the Samoans tell the story of course), but these days the bloodshed is mainly confined to the rugby field and an occasional bar brawl in Auckland. So Saddam Hussein should take warning from the fact that the US military contains at least two Tongans! That's it, once the Prussians of the Pacific are on the warpath, blood will flow. Ask any New Zealand provincial rugby team that's ever toured Tonga.

Philip Kaveni Simpson and Maaka Tu'i'onetoa are just two heroes of what is believed to be many Tongan-American soldiers fighting the battle against terrorism and vowing to uphold Freedom and Justice half way around the world, in the Middle East. Both their families are proud of what they represent and honour them, regardless of the fact that what their futures hold is unknown. Philip Kaveni Simpson, 24 years old is a combat fighter in the United States Air Force, and is currently serving his country in the Middle East. During the political upheaval in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2000, he was one of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers sent to defend the persecuted. After returning from his mission in 2001, he continued his training at Fort Carson in Colorado, and transferred to Fort Hood in Texas, where he was enlisted to be amongst the 130,000 troops fighting for the liberty of the many people threatened by Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He made his family proud when he honoured his mother's heritage, by recognizing Kameli, Vava'u as one of his origins. [His mother] Dorothy says that they last spoke with their son, one hour before he was scheduled to depart for Turkey. His mother has raised the American flag and Kaveni's military flag. She says that if for some reason her son doesn't return from battle, the flags will remain at half staff on their residence forever. On the other hand, Maaka Tu'i'onea, a member of the United States Armed Forces - second son of Auditor General, Mr. Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa and Hena Tu'i'onetoa, called his mother before leaving for the Mid East. In their conversation, Maaka recited Psalm 121 as one of his favourite Bible verses, and cried silently as he said to his mother, "If I don't make it back, I will see you in heaven."

You will notice the tone of the newspaper article. It's not at all sophisticated, nuanced or ironic. This is how people in Tonga think, and speak, and behave. I'm sure glad they're on OUR side!
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
Thanks to Imshin.
"WHEN ARAB UNITY IS ACHIEVED, ISRAEL WILL BE DESTROYED!" When some spokesman from the International Association of Arab Mad Bastards or whatever they were calling it back then said that back in the 1970's, I'm sure there was an audible cheer they could hear clean across Mt Hermon in Damascus. It's a certain bet that slogan is perfectly correct, and it means Israel is here to stay. The idea of the Arabs agreeing on anything for more than about five seconds is laughable. As witnessed this week, what with Crown Prince Abdullah and Colonel Ghaddafi tearing strips off each other, and now the latest example of the steadfast brotherhood of the unified Arab nation, live on TV from Qatar, at least until it became too embarrasing. Here it is, your moment of Lawrence of Arabia deja vu...

In a clash caught on live television before the Qatar state broadcaster shut down transmission, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's top aide Izzat Ibrahim departed from his text to zero in on the Kuwaitis sitting across the conference chamber. "Shut up you minion, you (U.S.) agent, you monkey. You are addressing Iraq," Ibrahim said. "You are insolent. You are a traitor to the Islamic nation," he spat out as Qatar's Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani tried to shut him up. A Kuwaiti delegate responded that the insults were "the words of an infidel and a charlatan," as the two sides shouted and gesticulated angrily at each other.

As General Allenby/Franks sits patiently outside the city, waiting for the inevitable descent into chaos.

Colonel Harry Brighton: Look, sir, we can't just do nothing. General Allenby: Why not? It's usually best.

Of course the killer quote, the one that still stings today, comes from Lawrence himself.

So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people, greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are.

So You Want to Burn an Australian Flag? Sure, go ahead, its not specifically against the law… but before you do, take a trip. Go to a few places, heres a little list. Gallipoli Palestine France Greece France Crete Honk Kong Singapore Malaya Egypt Libya Papua New Guinea Numerous Pacific Islands Korea Viet Nam There’s a lot more places you could go, I didn’t even have to think about this I just typed them off the top of my head. These are all place where Australians died and are buried so you could have the freedoms you do now. They did it under that flag, the one you chose to burn as your thanks for the freedom that you’ll never have to fight for. Oh yeah, there is one other place I’d like you to go before you flick your bic, this trip will be cheap, just swing by your nearest RSL and see how they feel about it. You could say thanks while you’re there, but I doubt you will. Someone get me these maggots addresses.

3/05/2003

THE PAST REVISITED: Go read - it is absolutely fascinating.
AGAIN. There was a suicide bombing on a bus in Haifa. So far 15 dead, 37 injured, 10 seriously. All that is left of the bus is its front part, including some of the front row seats. Police says that there were no specific warning about this particular attack. But I doubt that there is anyone in Israel who is surprised by this. This is the first terrorist attack after two months of numerous thwarted attempts. The previous one was a month and a half before that. IDF radio cites a "senior security official" as saying that the low frequency of the attacks suggests that Israel's current approach is effective, and thus we should not expect neither any major operation on the scale of "Defensive Wall", nor the expulsion of Arafat. They just interviewed the bus driver who happens to be an Arab, and who spoke from the hospital, where he is being treated for his injuries. He said that most of the passengers wer elderly. There were no security guards on the bus, which he said was unusual. Haifa is my hometown, BTW. (IDF radio) Update: It turns out many of the victims were highschool kids.
SHOULD THE UN EVEN BE PERMITTED TO EXIST? If it continues on its self-destructive path as a collection of rat-bag Lilliputians attempting to tie down the American Gulliver, I feel the answer has to be no. Let it die a natural death and go to whatever Hell the League of Nations is currently burning in (no doubt still awaiting a response from Signore Mussolini to their stiff note concerning the invasion of Abyssinia). Writing in Forbes, Paul Johnson seems to feel the same way.

The assumption, in many minds, seems to be that whereas individual powers act on the world stage according to the brutal rules of realpolitik, the U.N. represents legitimacy and projects an aura of idealism. In fact, more than half a century of experience shows that the U.N. is a theater of hypocrisy, a sink of corruption, a street market of sordid bargains and a seminary of cynicism. It is a place where mass-murdering heads of state can stand tall and sell their votes to the highest bidder and where crimes against humanity are rewarded.

You know, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the UN attempts to implement their fatuous plan to run Iraq after it's been freed by US military power, and Bush tells them where they can go and what they can do when they get there. Followed swiftly by the US formally withdrawing from the world bofy. Followed by Mayor Bloomberg turning up and nailing an eviction notice on the front door of that whorehouse on the East River. Stick a fork in them, they're done.
CAPTAIN SCOTT'S GOT THEIR MEETINGS BUGGED Asparagirl's personal one-bar heater has released the tapes. He's good. He should work in Hollywood. Oh, yeah, that's right...

I'm reminded of how ludicrous the peace-at-any-cost crowd sounded when they crowed about how an aggressive campaign against al Qaeda was "just what they wanted us to do". I can almost imagine the planning session now: KSM: "Okay, here's the plan. After we attack the United States, bringing the rest of the civilized world onto their side, we'll stick around Afghanistan until they show up and drop fuel-air bombs on our heads." Goon: "Pardon my impudence, wise leader, but does this not sound like a way to reach martyrdom, ah, a bit more quickly than many of us would like?" KSM: "Foolish coward! Can you not see that any time someone provokes a stronger enemy into war, it is always the weaker party's 'big plan'? The Japanese provoked the Americans into conflict, and look how well it worked for them!" *Thinks for a moment* "Oh fry me in camel shit..."

Ahhh, roger that, GPS coordinates locked into targeting computer, one self-detonating camel-shit cannister on the way...
UNITED NATIONS PLANS TO ADMINISTER POST WAR IRAQ I thought I was reading something from The Onion when I read this. Is there no end to the UN's brass? There's a story about a little red hen baking a loaf of bread that springs to mind here....

The United Nations has drawn up a secret plan, which would establish a post-Saddam Hussein government in Iraq, to be implemented even if the United States decides to unilaterally take military action against the Arab nation, the London Times reported Wednesday. The Times said the confidential plan, which has been in the works for a month, was ordered by Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Canadian deputy, Louise Frechette. A six-member pre-planning team put the 60-page plan together at U.N. headquarters in New York. The plan foresees the United Nations stepping in some three months after the military action has ended. The world body will then build democratic institutions in the Arab nation.

Oh HELL no!

3/04/2003

Pressing to test
The North Koreans are getting serious with their provocations, attempting to create an international incident. This weekend they sent at least four fighters out 150 miles over international waters to Intercept a US 'Cobra Ball' aircraft. This is extremely disturbing. As is noted in the CNN article, the last time they did an intercept of this nature over the Sea of Japan 30 years ago, they shot down a US EC-121 aircraft, killing the crew of more than 30. The old, Cold War game of the watchers and the watched is not what is happening here. It was not at all uncommon for those on missions to watch to have company at some point in the sortie, high over international waters. You may recall seeing pictures of US aircraft shadowing Soviet Bear-D aircraft as they flew close to the US East Coast, or near Alaska. There weren't a lot of pictures taken during the photo ops when the roles were reversed, at least not that made the mainstream media. Such things had an order to them, a set of gentlemen's rules, and both sides at least tacitly acknowledged them, if not publicly. The North Koreans, however, cannot be relied on to play by those rules. Make no mistake here folks. These aircraft are completely, absolutely completely unarmed. The North Koreans have been working on something else for the past few years, in addition to trying to build a nuke. They've also been trying to develop a system to deliver one. That's worth keeping watch on. And at 150 miles into international waters and airspace, the North Koreans have absolutely no right whatsoever to make a beef about it. But then, they know that, even if they bluster to the contrary or claim hollow justifications in public. There isn't any sign that they're backing off at all. Be prepared for more disturbing news from the Land of the Morning Calm. News that may, if they continue to escalate the tensions, may very well include reports of the loss of an aircraft. I'm somewhat surprised that shots haven't been fired at this point. I can only credit the restraint of US and South Korean Forces to this point for that fact.

3/03/2003

Quote of the Day
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go." - Oscar Wilde
Did someone say...a race?
I've had occasion to speak with a few of the scientists working at NASA's Langley facility over the past couple of weeks. Quite a bit of the conversation has revolved around the possible causes of the loss of Colombia. With one fellow, who specializes in automated flight dynamics control systems (autopilots), the discussion wandered a bit farther. We began discussing the utility of space, and space travel. While he was very well versed in technique and procedure, specific enabling technologies, and such, he seemed to be so totally immersed in them that mention of the larger aims seemed, well, unconsidered. We discussed how we'd managed to move so quickly from tinkering with modified ICBMs, to venturing forth, and landing on the moon, but that since then, we'd pretty much been walking in place. Many of the points discussed were talked about as givens - that low earth orbit was not a destination, but at most a transfer point. And that our focus on the moon was brought about and facilitated by one thing, more so than the pursuit of science, or understanding. Competition. We were in a high stakes race for bragging rights against the Soviet Machine. When discussing the re-energizing of the space effort, he seemed at a loss as to where such competition might come from in the future. He pondered the Europeans, and even the Brazilians, as they were sources of some of the enabler technologies for the International Space Station. He mentioned that with sufficient capital backing, the Russians could be back on their way to the moon in short order. His picks were solely from a technical insight point of view. The one direction he didn't even mention as a source of competition, however, is positioning itself to attempt some pretty remarkable things in the next few years. Competition? Its knocking on the door, my friends.
Now, about those categories...
Several people have hailed the return of the Blogosphere Ecosystem, over at NZ Bear's place. Neat item, but... Yesterday I went and checked it out, and we were 'Flappy Birds'. Ok, fair enough. Today, I check it, and we've transmogrified into 'Slithering Reptiles'. Not sure I like the whole 'slithering' thing. Oh well. Looking into the WMDI specification. Some confusion, but I'm going to take a crack at it. Hopefully I won't trash the templates too severly...
Reconnaissance Tasking
SRHQNAD has received a Request for Information from the Organizer of the International Eat an Animal for PETA Day SouthEastern Virginia Chapter (and Worldwide Headquarters). Synopsis of Information desired: Availability and accessibility of parking lots, open spaces, or other available venues proximate to PETA HQ in Norfolk, Va, on or about 15 March. Authorized disciplines: HUMINT/PHOTINT. Direct observations and initial predictive analysis desired, with information obtained from contacts in the local vicinity a plus. Ground level photography if available, but not required; Oraganizer will not provide operational or support funding for aerial observation of this target area. Ad hoc space based sensing may be employed, if already available, space assetts will not be re-tasked to support this RFI. Deliverable: Report of feasability of tailgate style cookout event near PETA HQ on March 15th. Desired timeline: By Friday. Additional comments: This still involves fire, so, sounds like a good alternate plan, with possibilities! Aside from making a statement about the completely offensive and moronic 'Holocaust on your Plate' idiocy, this will also partially make up for that goofy McCartney/PETA poster in the airport, welcoming folks to town. ::UPDATE:: Gratuitous link - It's what's for dinner
Mr Howard Goes to Wellington Australian Prime Mister John Howard is dropping in for a visit, prompting the Greens To “demand” he not be permitted to enter New Zealand on what they consider to be the very solid grounds that he is a “warmonger”. Having received nothing more and a sneer from the PM in response they are now threatening more “mass demonstrations” (in Green lingo anything more than 40 is a mass). They also plan to show their displeasure by either not attending the luncheon, or attending and walking out. Again the Greens have badly miscalculated a number of factors. First their own relevance, they are not. Helen Clark’s coalition government no longer needs them to operate and their hare brained single mindedness is not going to get any consideration. Two, if there is one thing Kiwis cannot stand its bad manners. We are not pathologically polite like the people of Virginia, but we have this reputation for being “very friendly people”. As any international celebrity will know, the first thing that happens when you get off the plane is to be bailed up by a series of reporters who will not get out of your face until you say the following: 1. New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world. 2. The people are just sooooo friendly. 3. I plan to come back real soon. Some how you have managed to acquire this knowledge from overflying the country for 38 seconds but if you don’t say it you name will be Mudd, or the local equivalent, "Sorbo". For the Greens to “make a statement” via the use of extreme rudeness grates on our puritanical souls. Simply not done old boy! Anyway Helen has observed that the Greens seldom show up to these things anyway so they wont be missed this time. As for the Greens demanding she confront John Howard over his “warmongering’ the answer was essentially fuck off. New Zealand and Australia have a policy of not critising each other’s leadership, thus avoiding the degrading slanging matches that go on in other parts of the world. As Helen noted, she and John Howard are very well aware of each-others position and neither is going to play irresistible force vs. immovable object. Other observations from our politicians were “don’t they realise how irrelevant they are?” “So the greens want free speech for Iraq but not for Australia?” There was more on the subject but essentially its open season on the Greens and not before time either. I personally welcome Mr Howard’s visit and extend an invitation to him to join me for a beer after work. Your well paid aren’t you John? Your shout.
St. Louis Mardi Gras

The French may, in fact, be Weasels, but I have to at least credit them for producing a holiday where forty-cent plastic beads compel women to remove their shirts. Why, you might ask, would a woman be more-than-willing to show "the goods" for meaningless plastic trinkets? Well, the only answer I can give is... Shut up! Don't question it for Christ's sake, just revel in it!

RETREAT!

"Bloody hell, gov, but I do believe that the Americans actually mean to bomb whether we're there or not!"

But at least the Human Shields have the courage of their convictions... Oh, wait, no, they really don't.

Money quote:

Maria Ermanno, chairwoman of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, cited reports that Iraqi officials were arranging transportation, accommodations and news conferences for the human shields.

"To go down to Iraq and live and act there on the regime's expense, then you're supporting a terrible dictator. [emphasis mine] I think that method is entirely wrong," Ermanno told Swedish Radio.

Damned straight.

Getting down to brass tacks
So, the Iraqis are making a big show of dismantling some irrelevant showpieces. In their words
Gen. Amir Saadi, an adviser to Hussein, said the banned Al Samoud-2 missiles are "quite useful" but not decisive in battle, so "sacrificing them" is acceptable to Iraq.
Basically admitting it is a show. They did get a fair return on the PR investment - for their four to six smashed missiles (out of as many as 120) they got a glowing report by Hans, sure to muddle the UNSC a bit more, and the Turkish Parliment demurring on allowing additional US forces in country. Guess the twofer has sort of emboldened them, because now they're threatening to quit if the US doesn't back off. Icing on the cake, to give the likes of Chirac more screech material. They're also doing a 'variation on a theme,' dangling the promise of a new report on chem/bio stockpiles, to replace the information the dog ate, by 'the end of the week'. Nice try, thank you for playing. Fact is, Saadi nailed it with his remarks. The missiles are irrelevant, as is the big show of running over a few of them with a bulldozer. A 'new report,' or more specifically, the promise of a 'new report' is just another straw offering to maintain the appearance of cooperation, where none truly exists. We are coming. Soon. Save the postage and handling on the 'report'. We'll stop by and pick it up in person.

3/02/2003

Well don't just sit there! Go and visit hippies are for barbecuing What? Oh you want a reason... ok heres a couple of quotes; Hey, Khalid: we're coming for your asshole buddies too. Rot in hell you bastards. Everyone try to control their surprise when you find out that those scheming, anti-American fucks don't want our money to leave... The most hilarious part: The French don't understand what "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" means! I wonder where she stands on the left/right scale of things. No I'm not going to attach them to their orgional posts, go surf for them. I really just spoon feed you people you know.
Is it the Vatican or the Catholics in general?
I think this is the wrong question. The right question should be: is it American or European Catholics? Or, better: is it American or European, (or, for that matter, Arab) Christians? In case you don't know, I am talking about the Pope's and some French Cardinal's siding with the Arabs against Israel, and now also against the US. No, I am not talking about their antisemitism, are you nuts? They are not antisemites, and besides, it is all the Jews' fault anyway. This is just another case where the discussion of religion obstructs the obvious, and that is the fact that it has nothing to do with religion. That Polish-Italian guy (well, yeah, you have a problem with that? You have African-Americans, don't you?) just happens to be a Pope, and that French guy just happens to be a Cardinal. So what. Like I said before: it's the culture, stupid.
Finally, someone thinking straight. I don't have an issue with arming the pilots, but I don't think it is a solution to the problem. There will have to be someone other than the pilot on each plane who's job is to subdue anyone who might be a threat. I might disagree with Wind on one point, though: I don't think the flight attendants are the right people to have this responsibility, although I would like to have them trained to assist such a person. The reason for this is that it would require finding people with two conflicting traits of personality. I just don't think that good flight attendants (i.e. people who are good at serving the passengers, and making them as comfortable and relaxed as possible) can also be good at detecting suspicious behavior, and acting aggressively towards both the assailants, and the potentially panicking/hysterical/interfering passengers. It does happen occasionally, but mostly in movies. What we need is an air marshal on every flight. That's what El-Al has had on all of its flights for years, following the first highjackings in the 60ies. Wind is right that after 9/11 our enemies are likely to try different means for a future attack. Still, it does not mean that they are not likely to try the same thing, if they come to the conclusion that we have not learned the lesson. There was at least one instant I know of when an air marshal on an El-Al flight has subdued a would-be highjacker.
How about this
Since the urge to get naked in public to spell things out seems to be a growth industry, I'm waiting for someone to organize an 'event' so large that the participants have absolutely no perception of what is actually being spelled. Here's hoping that it's a dupe or the dupable, and they spell something like
NAKED BECAUSE WE'RE STUPID
(inspired by LGF)
I would consider it an honor and a privilege...
To render whatever assistance is within my capabilities to facilitate specific Carnivorous Behavior, precisely as an affront to the 'hug a hamster for peace of mind' naifs from Virginia Beach, such as that proposed by the esteemed and gracious Ms. Yourish. As acting director of SRHQNAD*, I stand ready to lend the full influence and prestige of our modest endeavor to her cause, which I endorse completely, wholeheartedly, and with enthusiasm. Hey, raw meat and open flame. What's not to like?

*Silent Running Headquarters, North American Division

I AM SHOCKED, SHOCKED... ...to disover that the United States posesses a spy apparatus! And furthermore, that it is being used to gather information useful to national security! Well I never! This is most ungentlemanly behaviour! Harrumph! I've half a mind to pen a stiffly worded letter to the Times. And the next time I see an American diplomat, I shall subject him to the "cut direct" and walk by pretending not to notice his existnce. I shall instruct the under-footman to inform American callers that we are no longer "at home". Really, this is quite unconscionable. Gentlemen reading other chaps mail, why it's enough to get one blackballed from Whites and the Reform Club. My monocle fell out as I was reading The Observer, so startled was I to learn of this astonishing and unexpected turn of events. Hudson, fetch me a stiff brandy, there's a good chap.

The United States is conducting a secret 'dirty tricks' campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq. Details of the aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the emails of UN delegates in New York, are revealed in a document leaked to The Observer. The disclosures were made in a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency - the US body which intercepts communications around the world - and circulated to both senior agents in his organisation and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency asking for its input. The memo describes orders to staff at the agency, whose work is clouded in secrecy, to step up its surveillance operations 'particularly directed at... UN Security Council Members (minus US and GBR, of course)' to provide up-to-the-minute intelligence for Bush officials on the voting intentions of UN members regarding the issue of Iraq. The leaked memorandum makes clear that the target of the heightened surveillance efforts are the delegations from Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Mexico, Guinea and Pakistan at the UN headquarters in New York - the so-called 'Middle Six' delegations whose votes are being fought over by the pro-war party, led by the US and Britain, and the party arguing for more time for UN inspections, led by France, China and Russia. The memo is directed at senior NSA officials and advises them that the agency is 'mounting a surge' aimed at gleaning information not only on how delegations on the Security Council will vote on any second resolution on Iraq, but also 'policies', 'negotiating positions', 'alliances' and 'dependencies' - the 'whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises'.

Grow the f**k up! This isn't a trivial pursuit game, this is life and death and the future of the planet! Did anyone seriously think the CIA, FBI and NSA would just sit around twiddling their thumbs and peering hawkishly in the opposite direction while the fate of millions hangs in the balance? If there's blame here, it's for whoever leaked this. A cold, early morning, a stone wall and six grim-faced men with rifles is all he or she deserves. No one believes there are consequences for their actions anymore, so perhaps it's time there was. If Washington bureaucrats thought they might face something a bit worse than a high-profile sacking and a lucrative slot on the lecture circut and Sunday talk shows for betraying their country, there might be a little less treason commited. Kill one, scare a thousand. Having said that, Damien Penny is possibly correct in suggesting a new Security Council vote is questionable at best.

Unless this is proven to be a forgery, there's almost no way the Security Council will authorize action against Iraq now. You don't have to be a drooling anti-American militant to get pissed off about something like this (though it helps), and it would be politically suicidal for the Mexicans, Chileans, Angolans et al to approve a US-led war when this story takes off.

It doesn't even need to be a genuine document to lead to the end of the UN option. Watch Chirac perform for the cameras like a trained seal at this, his little nostrils quivering with indignation as he denounces American perfidy. It might be a forgery, it might be genuine, it doesn't matter. It's the appearance that counts. We either just shot ourselves in the foot, or got neatly and cleverly shafted. By who? Who can tell? C'est la guerre, shall we say?
HOW ABOUT THAT? I JUST FOUND A USE FOR JELLO BIAFRA! Looking at the human shields panicking as they realise the Iraqis seriously expect them to deploy to places that might get them transformed into a red smear on the landscape puts me in mind of that classic song by the Dead Kennedys, "Holiday in Cambodia".

Almost all of the first wave of British "human shields" to go to Iraq are on their way home after deciding that their task was now too dangerous, the Sunday Telegraph reported. Two red double-decker buses, which symbolised the hopes of anti-war activists when they arrived to a fanfare of publicity a fortnight ago, have left Baghdad and were on the long journey back to Britain, the paper said. Nine of the original 11 peace activists decided to pull out after being given an ultimatum by Iraqi officials to station themselves at targets likely to be bombed in a US-led war or leave the country, according to the Telegraph.

Enjoy having this song play in your head while you watch the chicken parade stampede for the last train out of Dodge. Are we having fun yet? I know I am...

So you been to school for a year or two And you know you've seen it all In daddy's car thinkin' you'll go far Back east your type don't crawl Play ethnicky jazz to parade your snazz On your five grand stereo Braggin that you know how the niggers feel cold And the slums got so much soul It's time to taste what you most fear Right Guard will not help you here Brace yourself, my dear It's a holiday in Cambodia It's tough kid, but it's life It's a holiday in Cambodia Don't forget to pack a wife Your a star-belly sneech you suck like a leech You want everyone to act like you Kiss ass while you bitch so you can get rich But your boss gets richer on you Well you'll work harder with a gun in your back For a bowl of rice a day Slave for soldiers til you starve Then your head is skewered on a stake Now you can go where people are one Now you can go where they get things done What you need my son: Is a holiday in Cambodia Where people dress in black A holiday in Cambodia Where you'll kiss ass or crack Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot [etc.] And it's a holiday in Cambodia Where you'll do what you're told A holiday in Cambodia Where the slums got so much soul Pol Pot!

And they said punk was dead.