What really happened in the Syrian desert near the Euphrates River on the night of September 6, 2007? The Bush Administration is finally due to
answer that question today when it briefs Members of Congress. We've
been hearing, and the press is now reporting, that the Administration
will confirm that Israel bombed what the U.S. believes was a nascent
plutonium-producing nuclear reactor being built with North Korea's
The British are; the French aren't. Good for the French. As John S. Burnett, writing for the NYT, reports:
ON April 11, French commandos went in with guns blazing and captured
a gang of pirates who days earlier had hijacked a luxury cruise ship,
the Ponant, and held the crew for ransom. This was the French solution
to a crime wave that has threatened international shipping off Somalia;
those of us who have been on the business end of a pirate’s gun can
only applaud their action.
The British government on the other
hand, to the incredulity of many in the maritime industry, has taken a
curiously pathetic approach to piracy. While the French were flying six
of the captured pirates to Paris to face trial, the British Foreign
Office issued a directive to the once vaunted Royal Navy not to detain
any pirates, because doing so could violate their human rights. British
warships patrolling the pirate-infested waters off Somalia were advised
that captured pirates could claim asylum in Britain and that those who
were returned to Somalia faced beheading for murder or a hand chopped
off for theft under Islamic law.
It woke up Paperclip. She said, "Why is everything shaking? Are we having an earthquake?" Nobody answered her because Mommy and Daddy didn't even WAKE UP dammit:
WEST SALEM, Ill. (AP) — A 5.4 earthquake early Friday rocked people
awake as far away as Indiana, surprising residents unaccustomed to such
a large Midwest temblor.
The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was
centered 6 miles from West Salem, Ill., and 66 miles from Evansville,
Ind. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
"It shook our
house where it woke me up," said David Behm of Philo, 10 miles south of
Champaign. "Windows were rattling, and you could hear it. The house was
shaking inches. For people in central Illinois, this is a big deal.
It's not like California."
The quake also shook tall buildings in downtown Indianapolis, about 160 miles northeast of the epicenter.
I am so disappointed I could bite someone.
And, by the way, the great San Fransisco earthquake occurred at 5:12 A.M. on Wednesday, April 18, 1906.
Update: Just felt an aftershock (around 10:20), so now I'm happy.
Central Americans without documents now face increased security within Mexico, including checks on the train for stowaways. . . .
Isaac Castillo, owner of the Hotel La Posada in Arriaga, argues that
Central American immigrants often end up working in Mexico, where wages
can be double the few dollars a day they might earn at home.
"The problem isn't just in the U.S., but in Mexico, because a lot of
Central Americans want to stay here and compete with Mexicans for
jobs," he said.
The relatives of five American missionaries who were abducted and
murdered by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have
filed suit against Chiquita Brands International Inc., accusing the
banana company of secretly financing and arming the rebel (and
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of Florida, alleges the banana company
knowingly and willfully provided the FARC with protection money and
weapons in the late 1990s.
The case sheds much-needed light on
the role that U.S.-based companies (and certainly others) play in
fomenting conflicts that cost thousands of lives. Chiquita has admitted
to being one of them. . . .
Here is the gist of what the law suit alleges, making it clear that
the company never bothered to tell the grieving families of Chiquita’s
role in funding the FARC. It may be enough to make you give up bananas,
as it was for me:
Although Plaintiffs confirmed years ago that FARC was the entity or organization that carried out the kidnappings and
murders, Plaintiffs did not learnuntil recently about Chiquita’s
involvement in funding and providing other material support to FARC. Indeed, to this day, the full scope, including dollar amounts,
timing, mechanisms, and anti-detection methods employed by Chiquita in
connection with its FARC-related conduct is murky, and demands document
and testimonial discovery.
It was not until March 19, 2007 thatPlaintiffs learned, through filings made public by the DOJ, in regard to Chiquita’s illegal payments to another Colombian FTO, that Chiquita had, in prior periods, made illegal and secretpayments to FARC as well. To conceal its unlawful conduct from both Colombian and U.S.
authorities andprevent disclosure of the facts to Plaintiffs, Defendant
funneled weapons to FARC (and assisted FARC in the transport of weapons) through Defendant’s local transportation contractors. As alleged above, Chiquita also falsified payroll records used to
divert funds from non-existent employees to FARC, used existing
contracts with legitimate organizations to bury and disguise 33
payments, or drew up phony contracts with legitimate vendors as a means
of falsifying the payments and booking them as legitimate expenses.
As alleged supra, Chiquita also secretly concealed payments to local
labor unionsthat it knew, or consciously avoided knowing, were
controlled by FARC and made other clandestine payments through
FARC-established fronts and dummy companies.
Bush "has done more than any other president so far," Geldof said.
He went on to say of the president: "This is the triumph of American
policy really. It was probably unexpected of the man. It was expected
of the nation, but not of the man, but both rose to the occasion.
What's in it for him? Absolutely nothing."
The mainstream US press is bored by Africa, but here is at least one non-rock-star-philanthropist assessment, from columnist Don Surber:
Bush's record in Africa is amazing. Despite a $3 trillion budget,
presidents don't get a lot of say in how the money is spent. Half the
money goes to entitlements. And Congress has the power of the purse.
But Bush has made fighting AIDS, HIV and malaria in Africa a priority.
The American press may not have noticed, but the foreign press has.
Reuters reported: "Because of the U.S. anti-malaria program, 5 percent
of patients tested positive for the disease on the offshore islands of
Zanzibar in 2007 compared to 40 percent three years earlier, the
Tanzanian leader said."
At least these achievements don't bore the Africans, and that's what matters. People always prefer not to die of malaria if at all possible -- whether anybody else cares or not. Via Anchoress