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Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Eastern Orthodox Relics Return Home
Last Saturday, the relics of Orthodox saints Gregory Nazianzus and John Chrysostom were received at a ceremony at St George's Orthodox Cathedral in Istanbul. Both saints had held the office of Patriarch of Constantinople. In 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, Crusaders had seized the relics and brought them to Saint Peter's, where they have remained until now.
The pope has made better relations between the branches of the church a priority of his long papacy, and both he and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, his spiritual counterpart among the world's Orthodox, spoke of reconciliation at a ceremony yesterday morning under the grand dome of St. Peter's.
Bartholomew I, seated at the altar next to the pope, said the return of the bones — revered as relics and packed in boxes of crystal and alabaster — showed that "in the Church of Christ, there exist no insurmountable problems when love, justice and peace meet."
In a recent episode of the Palestinian version of "Sesame Street," a furry chick character threatens to get an AK-47 and massacre people who have torn down his olive trees, a common complaint by Palestinians against Israeli Defense Forces in the region.
In a scene rebroadcast Saturday by the Fox News Channel, a little girl asks the talking chick, "What would you do if someone cut down your olive tree?"
"I'll fight them and make a big riot," the chick replies. "I'll call the whole world. I'll bring AK-47 assault rifles and commit a massacre in front of my house."
Emergency Landing At Corpus Christi International Airport
A Cessna plane with 11 passengers managed to land safely without its forward landing gear at CCIA late this afternoon. Saw it on TV. Sorry, no links - haven't seen any news coverage on the Internet yet.
City officials are considering charging grocery stores 17 cents apiece for the bags to discourage use of plastic sacks.
Plastic is the choice of 90 percent of shoppers, but the sacks are blamed for everything from clogging recycling machines to killing marine life and suffocating infants.
Suffocating infants? How often does that happen? Every once in a while I hear about a kid who dies after being left in a car on a hot day, but I've never heard about any grocery-bag-related deaths.
Paper is recyclable, but city officials propose to include them as well to help reduce overall waste.
Paper is also BIODEGRADABLE, whereas plastic has a longer half-life than plutonium and Christmas fruitcakes combined.
"One thing we've learned is that sending a financial signal to the marketplace tends to modify behavior much better than voluntary approaches," Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
That signal is telling people to shop outside of San Francisco city limits.
But grocers and the plastics industry oppose the measure.
"We think essentially it's an unnecessary and misguided approach," said Tim Shestek, spokesman for the American Plastics Council. "This tax is going to hurt those who can least afford it."
So, the tax would fall disproportionately on the poor.
In addition, customers often simply buy more plastic bags to use for waste disposal.
News flash: people use plastic grocery bags as trash bags. Especially if they're apartment dwellers, I might add (speaking from experience). So shoppers will just buy plastic trash bags if they don't have grocery bags to use.
The proposal parallels efforts in Ireland, South Africa, Bangladesh, Australia, Shanghai, Taiwan and other countries where the government bans plastic bags or charges a fee to use them.
Shanghai is a country?
State legislators defeated a bill last year that would have charged 2 cents on each non-recyclable disposable bag.
Fifteen cents less than the Frisco proposal. Figures.
A resolution will be considered Tuesday by the city's Commission on the Environment. Mayor Gavin Newsom is reviewing the idea, while Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi is in favor.
How many city governments have environmental departments?
"We all have a responsibility to promote a healthy and sustainable environment, and by doing that, it means we need to help change people's patterns, and that even means their shopping patterns," said Mirkarimi, who will take office in January. "This is a sensible user fee."
The city's Department of the Environment estimates San Francisco grocery store customers bring home about 50 million bags each year. That accounts for about 2 percent of waste, at an annual cleanup cost of about $8.4 million.
A "sensible user fee" would be factored into the bill for garbage pickup services, not for acquiring the bag.
These envirotopians are hoping that people in droves will start bringing their own shopping bags (or whatever) to the store. Picture a supermarket at peak shopping hours. How efficiently do you think checkers will be able to process customers when they have to deal with a wide variety of alternatives to shopping bags? Will they have to redesign the checkout counters to accommodate nonstandard containers?
Some grocery stores are currently equipped for customers to do their own sacking. At the one that I frequent, the checker scans the goods and puts it in a separate shopping cart; the store provides a separate area for customer bagging. Regular grocery stores will have to remove merchandise displays to convert to that method.
Andrew Sullivan implies that it's goofy to perceive Shark Tale as an allegory to the gay lobby's perception of gay tolerance. He claims that this is the money quote from Ed Vitagliano's AgapePress story:
The film does not come right out and say that we should all accept homosexuality. And, naturally, children should be taught to be accepting of others. But as Plugged In's Steven Isaac notes, "Had this movie been released 20 years ago, nobody would have been calling attention to this subject." Two decades ago, accepting differences meant accepting a person who might have a different skin color, or be from a different ethnic background. Such differences are immutable characteristics, however, and not sexual choices. In this respect, Shark Tale comes far too close to taking a bite out of traditional moral and spiritual beliefs.
This is the real money quote:
But Lenny is more than just a vegetarian. He turns out to enjoy dressing as a dolphin, an obvious allusion to cross-dressing, as noted in a review of Shark Tale by Ed Park in The Village Voice.
"Lenny flees his old life by disguising himself as a dolphin and indulging his happy side," Levy says, calling it "a barely hidden subtext here about letting your closeted inner self emerge ...."
When Lino finally sees Lenny dressed as a dolphin, he explodes angrily: "Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Are you out of your mind? Do you have any idea how this looks?" Lino blames Oscar, saying, "[Y]ou turned Lenny into a dolphin!
(Oscar didn't quite turn Lenny into a dolphin. Dolphins are carnivores.)
Vitagliano didn't come up with the idea on his own. He got it from the Village Voice, a bastion of blue-state journalism. And it's not unreasonable to perceive such a connection. The "vegetarian shark" plot device in itself can serve as an allegory to all belief- and lifestyle-oriented prejudices - religion, political belief, and so on. (And, ironically, to the bigotry that some vegans exercise toward meat eaters.) But the "dressing up as a species that you're not" has only one approximate parallel in the real world: dressing up as a gender that you're not.
On a completely different note, I have one artistic beef. The sharks' faces have anthropomorphic features while still looking shark-like. But Oscar and Angie aren't even remotely fish-like above the gills. The animators digitally took two goldfish and replaced their heads with bald quasi-human heads. They're just plain ugly.
Update:Someone else sees the parallel - and not disapprovingly.
Update: Since sharks are equipped to function as carnivores, vegetarianism for them would be a serious disorder. Better be careful with those gay comparisons.
I can think of one parallel that definitely does not exist: homosexuality doesn't lead to malnutrition. Humans can survive gay sex, but sharks can't survive an all-kelp diet. Somebody throw Lenny a Monster Thickburger, quick!
That's what a priest at St. Pius X School told students as young as 5 during morning Mass on Wednesday, a revelation that is causing a furor among parents who claim the priest overstepped his boundaries by speaking so frankly about the much-loved Christmas figure.
During the Mass, school officials admit, the Rev. Ruben Rocha repeatedly told the students in grades K-3 that there is no Santa Claus.
Amy's commenters are quite divided over the issue. Well worth the read.
The Accuracy in Media founder passed away yesterday. Read AIM Report editor Cliff Kincaid's tribute here. His son Don blogged some Father's Day musings last June on - see here.
Reed Irvine had once written columns for NewsMax; his last, dated Sept. 10, 2002, concerned the FBI's treatment of Dr. Steven Hatfill during the anthrax letter investigation. His sixteen-year crusade against Dan Rather took on new life in the wake of the forged documents scandal. So put on your pajamas and drink a farewell toast.
Like all Hardee’s burgers, the Monster Thickburger features 100 percent Angus beef patties. In this case, it’s got not one, but two 1/3-lb. charbroiled patties, topped with no less than four strips of crispy bacon, three slices of American cheese, and some mayonnaise – all on a buttered, toasted, sesame seed bun.
According to a Yahoo story, the burger has 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat.
THE LEFT VERSUS INCREDIBLES - (quoting The Nation) "The superheroes are in hiding because greedy trial lawyers sued them into retirement; and, while concealed, they chafe at their confinement, like Ayn Rand railing against enforced mediocrity." Yeah, the Left really hates those messages against enforced mediocrity. Especially the educrat left.
In The Agora Joshua Claybourn has retired the old blog and has started up a new one. As you might guess, the name comes from theAgora , where public commerce and public discussion took place in ancient Athens. It is a group blog featuring himself, Paul Musgrave, PunchTheBag, and Eric Seymour - click here to go to the "meet the authors" page. In this post Paul Musgrave explains French attitudes toward President Bush.
Oxymoron Ambrosia Ephemeris is under new management and under a new name (but with the same URL) as In this post Blog host Republicus, who is one-fifth Greek, mentions that he knows the former blog host through "various projects, including many on European integration," states that the blog "will continue to focus on Southeast European affairs from time to time," and has a little to say about the prospect of Turkey joining the EU.
Update: While currently in Athens, Republicus hails from France. The flag icon has been updated.
Allison Kaplan Sommer (Israel) excerpts a Ha'aretz article about Arafat's duplicity. She also states: "The primary emotion on the Israeli street regarding the death of Arafat is not glee -- it is relief."
ElBa Diary (US-New York) has details about Arafat's final days. (This blog is now on the blogroll. Co-hosted by husband-and-wife team Elio Bonazzi and Iranian-born Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, names well known to the Free Iran! group.)
Daimnation (Canada) has a few links, including one to a Daily Telegraph article on Arafat's embezzlement activities.
The Gweilo (Hong Kong) doesn't like some of the obituaries he's reading.
Kesher Talk's Judith Weiss (US-New York) has Arafat roundups here and here.
NZ Pundit (New Zealand) notes how official attitudes toward Arafat illustrate New Zealand's girly-man foreign policy.
Pejman (US-Chicago) excerpts Max Boot's obituary (and links my own).
Bjørn Stærk (Norway) quotes numerous Norwegian reactions to Arafat's death.
Update:Little Green Footballs (US) links to one article on the press coverage of Arafat, and two on Arafat's legacy.
The highly abbreviated biography on Wikipedia does little to explain this man's legacy. Arafat does not deserve the traditional deference one gives to the recently departed. He was the founding father of modern terrorism, which has waged war against the West at least as far back as the 1972 Olympics.
Speaking of which, the Munich Massacre was the work of Black September, an arm of Arafat's Fatah terrorist organization. Arafat himself committed an act of war against the United States and Belgium one year later:
Still fewer know that in March 1973, Arafat ordered a Black September attack on the Saudi embassy in Sudan, where our Ambassador Cleo Noel, our Deputy Chief of Mission George C. Moore and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid were taken hostage at a reception. They were brutally murdered, said to have been shot in a way that made their deaths especially agonizing.
These murders were front-page news for days, but Arafat's role is little known because it was discovered in super-secret communications intercepts of the National Security Agency (NSA). It was kept secret for years until James J. Welsh, who was the NSA's Palestinian analyst, decided that his obligation to let the truth be known outweighed his pledge to keep his work secret...
Welsh said that in 1973, Arafat's number two man had ordered the Black September operation and that NSA learned just the day before it took place that the Saudi embassy in Khartoum was to be taken over during a reception that was being held there. A warning was sent to our embassy via the State Department, but for some reason it was delayed and the takeover of the Saudi Embassy was successful. NSA then picked up two more communications, including one from Arafat confirming the execution order. His calls came from the Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon, which was the site of the PLO headquarters and a known terrorist training facility. The Black September murderers surrendered to Sudanese authorities, but they were later released to the PLO and flown out of the country.
[A] Romanian intelligence adviser assigned to the PLO headquarters in Beirut reported that Arafat and his KGB handlers were preparing a PLO commando team headed by Arafat's top deputy, Abu Jihad, to take American diplomats hostage in Khartoum, Sudan, and demand the release of Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian assassin of Robert Kennedy.
"St-stop th-them!" Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu yelled in his nervous stutter, when I reported the news. He had turned as white as a sheet. Just six months earlier Arafat's liaison officer for Romania, Ali Hassan Salameh, had led the PLO commando team that took the Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich Olympic Games, and Ceausescu had become deathly afraid that his name might be implicated in that awful crime.
It was already too late to stop the Abu Jihad commandos. After a couple of hours we learned they had seized the participants at a diplomatic reception organized by the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum and were asking for Sirhan's release. On March 2, 1973, after President Nixon refused the terrorists' demand, the PLO commandos executed three of their hostages: American Ambassador Cleo A. Noel Jr., his deputy, George Curtis Moore, and Belgian charge d'affaires Guy Eid. In May 1973, during a private dinner with Ceausescu, Arafat excitedly bragged about his Khartoum operation. "Be careful," Ion Gheorghe Maurer, a Western-educated lawyer who had just retired as Romanian prime minister, told him. "No matter how high up you are, you can still be convicted for killing and stealing."
FrontPage Magazine has an article by HonestReporting.com that details various episodes in Arafat's life, including his ties to Saddam Hussein:
During the 1980s, Arafat received financial assistance from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, which allowed him to rebuild the battered PLO. This was particularly useful during the first Palestinian intifada in 1987. Arafat took control of the violence from afar, and it was mainly due to Fatah forces in the West Bank that the anti-Israel terror and civil unrest could be maintained. Arafat would then become nearly the only world leader to support Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War. (Saddam would later repay this loyalty by sending $25,000 checks to families of Palestinian suicide bombers.)
So Saddam aided and abetted a terrorist responsible for the murder of one Belgian and two American diplomats. Need any more reason to militarily depose Saddam?
But what of the modern "peace process" in Israel? Had Arafat transformed from terrorist to partner in peace? Dennis B. Ross wrote an article Foreign Policy magazine that offers answers. One illuminating episode is Arafat's refusal to accept the biggest offer ever given to the Palestinian Arabs since the creation of an Arab homeland in the portion of historic Palestine currently known as Jordan:
To this day, Arafat has never honestly admitted what was offered to the Palestinians—a deal that would have resulted in a Palestinian state, with territory in over 97 percent of the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem; with Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of that state (including the holy place of the Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary); with an international presence in place of the Israeli Defense Force in the Jordan Valley; and with the unlimited right of return for Palestinian refugees to their state but not to Israel...
Had Palestinians honestly known what Arafat was unwilling to accept, would they have supported violence against the Israelis, particularly given the suffering imposed on them? Would Arafat have remained the "only Palestinian" capable of making peace? Perhaps such domestic pressure would have convinced Arafat, the quintessential survivor, that the political costs of intransigence would be higher than the costs of making difficult concessions to Israel.
If Arafat had wanted peace with Israel, he would have confront terrorism to the best of his capabilities. He did not.
In the past, whenever Arafat cracked down or threatened to do so, the militants backed down. But that stopped in September 2000 with the eruption of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Those who say Arafat cannot carry out his security responsibilities because Israeli military incursions have devastated his capabilities fail to recognize that Arafat didn’t act even before Israelis destroyed his infrastructure. In the 20 months leading up to May 2002, he never gave unequivocal orders to arrest, much less stop, those who were planning, organizing, recruiting, financing, or implementing terror attacks against Israelis. Whether one thinks—as the Israelis believe recently captured documents demonstrate—Arafat directs the violence or that he simply acquiesces to it, the unmistakable fact is that he has made no serious or sustained effort to stop the violence.
Yasser Arafat lived a life of international crime, and never had to face punishment by his victims, whether in battle or in the courts. He died peacefully in a Paris hospital. He got away with it all.
Update: Some may argue that Arafat's impending divine judgment evens the score. No it doesn't. Human justice doesn't exist solely for the purpose of giving criminals their due. It serves to protect society from the culprit and to deter others from joining the culprit's ranks. Because Arafat escaped human justice, the world is far less safe than it would be had Arafat been dealt with decades ago.
And here's a map from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center's cost of living report for the second quarter of 2004:
(No data on blue states Maine and New Hampshire.)
Of the states with an index of over 120, Alaska went for Bush and California, Connecticut, District of Columbia (not quite a state), Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island went for Kerry (by huge margins, I might add). Electoral votes: Bush - 3, Kerry - 110.
In the second highest category (100-120), Bush got 5 (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming) and Kerry got 8 (Delaware, Illinois, New York, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington. Electoral votes: Bush - 32, Kerry - 107.
In the second lowest category (96-100), Bush got 10 (Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Virginia) and Kerry got Michigan and Wisconsin. Electoral votes: Bush - 109, Kerry - 27.
Bush won every single state in the lowest category (below 96) - Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Misssouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia. Fifteen states, 142 electoral votes.
Nobvember 3 was the 50th anniversary of the release of the original Gojira, edited and re-released two years later as Godzilla. This is a fascinating essay on the contrast between the two versions of the film.
Yesterday I turned 44 and my second blog Henderson Prize for the Advancement of Liberty turned two. The HPAL icon is back on the sidebar, replacing the "McCain/Feingold 04" icon. (I've also removed the election campaign site links.) The CafePress shop is still active; I'll probably relink it some time in the future just in case one or two people want to buy some unique election-year memorabilia.
They've got 200 pictures up from last Friday's festivities, and more are on the way. The photos page is here. I've updated my original post with direct links to the individual costumes mentioned. Mine is right below:
Somehow the flash made the top of my hair a lighter shade of brown. That's the "create new post" Blogger page displaying on the laptop screen. I'm not really online; I saved the page as a .mht file. Fake, but accurate :-)
Yes, I really am in my pajamas. I work a graveyard shift, and I've been asleep all day. I have no idea what's been going on for the past eight hours. For all I know Ohioans are claiming they accidentally voted for Pat Buchanan, even though he's not on the ballot.
But alas, we're not going through that again. Kerry has conceded, and Bush has delivered his victory speech - full transcripts here and here, respectively. Kerry told his last lie of the election cycle, with his "pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide." This from the man who jumped all over the story on the allegedly missing explosives in Iraq before the facts were in, who insinuates and even says outright that votes were suppressed by the GOP in 2000. This from the man who never apologized to his fellow veterans for leveling accusations of war crimes against them.
There are two statements in the Bush speech worth mentioning: "We'll continue our economic progress...We will help the emerging democracies of Iraq and Afghanistan so they can grow in strength and defend their freedom." A lot of Americans don't realize the real progress that has been made in the economic recovery and in the War on Terror. (We had a recession? I never noticed - I was employed the whole time.) Unemployment is on the downswing, and taxes are a touch lighter. Bush learned his lesson on tariffs and won't repeat that job-costing mistake. Two state sponsors of terror have been defeated in war and are undergoing reform as insurgents are (albeit slowly) being contained. Al-Qaeda operatives are being apprehended all over the world. Osama bin Laden can't throw anything bigger than a VHS tape at us. It's not paradise, but we're going in the right direction.
Don't get on Kerry's case for wanting the counts finished. He's not asking for multiple recounts in selected counties in violation of state law. He's still in the race mathematically, even if the probability ain't great.
Pending his defeat, will Kerry become the next Senate minority leader to replace the ousted Tom Daschle? (High five to Thune!)
1783 George Washington delivers his "Farewell Address to the Army"
1889 North and South Dakota become our 39th and 40th states
1917 In a letter, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour declares British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine
1920 KDKA of Pittsburgh is the first commercial radio station; its first broadcast is the 1920 election results
1930 Haile Selassie crowned emperor of Ethiopia
1938 Pat Buchanan born (still alive, but politically dead)
1947 Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose" makes its maiden flight
1948Dewey defeats Truman Truman defeats Dewey
1962 The Cuban Missile Crisis ends
1963 South Vietnamese president Ngo Dihn Diem assassinated
1976 Jimmy Carter becomes the first candidate from the Deep South to win the presidency
1983 Ronald Reagan creates the Martin Luther King federal holiday
1988 The first Internet worm is launched
Want proof? First of all, the only job losses Bush can take credit for (other than Saddam's) are steel industry losses attributable to the tariffs he signed into law. Second, the two biggest job loss factors are a) the Clinton recession (caused in part by the Bush 41/Clinton tax hikes) and b) OSAMA BIN LADEN - factors Bush had no control over. Hoover had no counterpart to Osama or the commerce-eroding tax policy of two previous administrations.
Third, during Hoover's term unemployment rose from 3.2% to over twenty percent (see here); during Bush's tenure unemployment (see here - hat tip to EconoPundit) rose by roughly two and a half percentage points, peaking at 6.4% (lower than the Clinton-era peak of 7.8%) and currently trending downward. Jobless claims are also on the decline, at their lowest since just before the recession began in 2001.
(So why is it a Clinton recession? Because short of erasing a major financial nexus off the map like Osama did, it takes quite some time for contributing factors to create a recession; there wasn't enough time for Bush policy to influence it, so those factors must have started before his inauguration.)
And fourth, banks aren't dropping like flies under Bush as they were under Hoover.
Update: Forbes has a webpage comparing economic data during the terms of ever president from Truman to Clinton. Note that every one of them witnessed increases in the number of jobs, but the unemployment rate increased under the watches of Truman, Eisenhower, and notorious fiscal moderates Nixon, Ford, and GHW Bush. Jobs did not increase at a pace in keeping with the growth of the population; therefore new joblessness outpaced new jobs. The worst beginning-to-end change in unemployment was Ford's - three percentage points. George W. Bush is no Gerald Ford, either; his unemployment figures haven't changed by three points and are trending down. And the Ford era accomplished its feat without a parallel to 9/11.