Saturday, June 22, 2002

I've found the first link to this site from another blog. Thanks to Max Power.
"With Max Power, you strap yourself in and feel the G's." - HS
Is this for real?
LONDON: As comic book hero Spider-Man fills cinemas with his webby adventures, prepare to meet an equally astonishing creation - Spidergoat.


Scientists have combined the DNA from a goat and spider to create an animal which produces silk that is five times stronger than steel. The fibre, derived from the goats' milk, harnesses the huge strength of silk spun by spiders.

That's really pretty amazing. Silk 5 times the strength of steel?
I saw Minority Report last night. Excellent movie, really well done. I'm not really a movie-review kind of guy, so just take my word on it. Prediction: Someone on the NY Times op/ed page will write about the parallels between the state of civil liberties in fictional 2054 and actual 2002. Most likely Maureen Dowd.
Saddam Hussein may hand over power to his son to avoid, well, a whoopin':
Arab diplomats in Baghdad said that the Iraqi leader may not seek re-election in the presidential vote due later this year but instead allow Qusay Hussein, his heir apparent, to become the country’s leader.


The Iraqi dictator, who has ruled unopposed for three decades, would remain in de facto control, much as the late Chinese leader Deng Xaioping. But the tactic may satisfy the Americans, or at least to delay their planned military action aimed at a change of regime in Baghdad by next year. “The word in the diplomatic community is that when the elections are being prepared this autumn, Saddam will not put his name forward but instead allow Qusay to go forward,” one diplomat said. “The aim would be to deflate the American threat.”

1. It's not going to work, buddy.
2. It's nice to know that they have a democracy over there in Iraq, with Presidential elections and all.
3. Who is this reporter? "But the tactic may satisfy the Americans..." Does this guy think we're that dumb?
Happy 4th of July, from Osama Bin Laden.
Osama bin Laden is to give another televised address to the world.


The al-Qaeda leader is to deliver a hate-filled video on July 4, American Independence Day.


The announcement was made on the Arabic Sahab website which issues daily information on the war in Afghanistan.


Bin Laden was pictured on the site, kneeling between two al-Qaeda officials.

Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile has died...

Friday, June 21, 2002

This piece from CNN seems to blame North Korea's disastrous food problems on donor nations and the collapse of Soviet communism.
The WFP was forced to temporarily suspend distribution of food aid to around 1.2 million secondary school children, elderly people, caregivers and teachers between May and August because of a lack of pledges from donor nations, Bourke said.


Distribution projects to 500,000 North Korean workers have also been cut back.

...North Korea's food shortage started in 1991, when the former Soviet Union collapsed and its satellite states stopped sending food and other economic aid. Since 1995, floods, droughts and tropical storms have exacerbated the country's agricultural and industrial problems.

The North Korean system is so backwards and corrupt that when its Soviet patrons stopped sending it food it was unable to produce its own. This indicates that the heart of the problem lies with North Korea, not a lack of aid. While I applaud the efforts of the World Food Programme, instead of complaining about a lack of donor commitment maybe it should look at the root cause of the problem. Those 1.2 million schoolchildren, elderly folks and teachers are going hungry for one reason only, and it is not the lack of Western aid.
On the shake-up at Rolling Stone. While in recent years there has been too much Spears and not enough O'Rourke, and I almost always regret spending four dollars on an issue, there is usually something interesting in each issue. By perusing an issue of FHM magazine, one is assured that this will no longer be the case.
A bedtime story for the kids.
How Davey saved California

Once there was a little offshore oil platform named Davey the Derrick. Davey was shiny, and new, and proud...

It's the first day of summer. Have a laugh at the expense of the UN and Hollywood.
Good news in the world of stem cell research.
Researchers have isolated a type of cell from bone marrow that seems capable of transforming itself into most or all of the specialized cells in the body, a dramatic new finding likely to fuel the debate over the ethics of stem-cell research.


The finding was reported by researchers at the University of Minnesota and published online yesterday by the journal Nature. It heightens the prospect that therapies scientists are trying to create -- cures for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, hemophilia and many others -- can be made entirely with adult cells, alleviating moral concerns over using discarded embryos and fetuses as sources of tissue.

I haven't fully made up my mind on where I stand on this issue - while the therapautic possibilities are enormous, I think it wrong to create a life destined to be destroyed - if stem cells could be useful without the creation of a cloned, viable embryo that would certainly put an end to many of the anti-cloning objections.
John Derbyshire in NRO on the folly of a state made of two non-contiguous parts.
The Washington Post has an article on Arab critics of suicide bombing:
The most comprehensive criticism of suicide bombing came from Palestinian scholar Hani al-Masri, who declared that the suicide operations "must be stopped for fundamental, moral, political, military reasons as well as the national interest." Writing in the Ramallah daily Al-Ayyam, an independent Arabic newspaper traditionally supportive of Arafat, Masri made the case that was echoed in the June 19 appeal. (Indeed, Masri was one of the 54 signers.)


Masri recognized the unpopularity of his view, saying "It is better to admit the bitter truth about the magnitude of support for martyrdom operations, but not in order to bow to them."


He argued that while suicide attacks "are not mad, incomprehensible acts" but "a reaction to the occupation, aggression, and the daily Israeli crimes," Palestinians must develop a strategy of "systematic resistance not governed by sentiments -- that is, not mere acts of revenge."


Masri cataloged 13 common arguments in favor of suicide bombings, including the notions that they compensate for Israeli military superiority, punish the Israeli economy and demonstrate Palestinian refusal to surrender. In response, he offered ten counter-arguments.


Suicide bombings, he wrote, are a violation of international law that

"greatly dented the Palestinian people's moral superiority against Israel's military superiority, because they helped Israel falsify the facts and appear as the victim defending itself and its citizens in opposition to those who target children, women, and the elderly."
Since Sept. 11, he said, suicide attacks have helped Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon

"show that his unjust war against the Palestinians falls under the international war against terrorism. This provided an American cover and international neutrality toward the conflict raging in Palestine. This is happening at a time when we are in dire need of recovering international support."

Masri argued that the killing of civilians not only united Israel, enabling the Jewish state, "to use its superior military power without internal opposition," but also thwarted the goals of most Palestinians.


"[T]he fact that most Palestinians support martyrdom operations must not conceal another firm fact: the majority of Palestinians support a solution based on the formula of two states for two peoples -- a Palestinian state alongside Israel."
Masri put little hope in what he called "the futile vortex of negotiations," saying peace talks were merely aimed at forcing an "unjust agreement" upon the Palestinians. Rather he called for "operations that target military checkpoints, settlements, Merkava tanks, and to make such attacks prevalent, for they present a brilliant example of what resistance should be."

Look at the first line. Masri suggests that there are moral objections to the bombing. This is a first. You'll notice that whenever Arafat denounces the bombings he does so not because of moral issues but because the bombing leads the Israelis back into the West Bank and hurts his ability to control the situation. So here we have a Palestinian scholar, writing in a pro-Arafat newspaper, denouncing suicide bombings (Islamikazes as someone recently suggested) for moral reasons. Alas, if you read the rest of the article there is no more mention of this. He does argue that the bombings "dented the... moral superiority..." but he makes this out to be not a moral problem, but a strategic one. When are we going to hear someone in the Arab world denounce the bombings simply because targeting innocent men, women and children is wrong?

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Answer to the baseball question below:
Dunston has 10 hits in 58 at bats with no walks. But he does have one
> sacrifice. His batting average is listed as .172 (10/58) and his on base
> percentage is listed as 0.169 (10/59). Thus
>
> avg = hits / ab
>
> and
>
> obp = (hits + walks) / (ab + walks + sac)

Should baseball be socialized? Arnold Kling makes a case for it at TCS, and I think I'd have to agree with him. The abolition of free agency and performance-based salaries sound good to me. He makes some other good points, and includes this little tidbit:
In 1951, the owner of the St. Louis Browns, Bill Veeck, used a midget in order to take advantage of his small strike zone. Although Eddie Gaedel was allowed to bat once (he walked on four pitches), baseball banned midgets.

On a related note, can anyone explain to me how Shawon Dunston can have an on-base percentage that is lower than his batting average?
Good piece in Slate on extending the concept of land for peace...
To the extent that the purpose of Palestinian terrorism is to get land—and it must be understood that this extent is limited—the clearest demonstration of the failure of that approach is to take land from the Palestinians each time they commit terrorism. If it wasn't crazy for the Israelis to halt their surrender of land under the Oslo agreement on the grounds that they weren't getting the peace they had bargained for, why is it crazy for them to raise the ante? The new policy simply pushes the Palestinian reward/punishment calculus into negative territory. If Israel is deprived of peace, it won't just stop giving up land. It will take land back.
Check out this poll on college student attitudes towards the Middle East, the war on terror, national and international leaders, etc. Not too surprising, I guess. Notice how 79% of students do not believe that Western culture is superior to Arab culture. Now for a little insight on Arab culture, check out this State Department warning to American women thinking of marrying Saudi men.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

There's a lot wrong with this story...
Seven Mesquite School parents whose children were given a controversial survey that asked questions of a sexual nature have filed a claim against Palmdale School District of the Antelope Valley, about 50 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.


The survey had asked youngsters if they thought about having sex, if they thought about "touching other people's private parts" and if they didn't trust people because they might want sex.

...Prompted by parents' complaints, the district in January halted the survey that was administered to 13 third- and fifth-graders by a mental health therapist for her doctoral degree.

...but the worst part is that the school district allowed a doctoral candidate to essentially experiment on children without their parent's consent.
The WSJ manages to combine Alan Keyes, Talking Heads references and a Jewish joke in three short paragraphs.
Stop Making Sense


Life during wartime hasn't been good to Alan Keyes, whose once-in-a-lifetime gig as a talking head is coming to an end. MSNBC announced last week that it will cancel the two-time presidential candidate's low-rated daily prime-time show, "Alan Keyes Is Making Sense," in July. In response, a Jewish group called Mesora has launched a petition campaign to send the following message to NBC:

I urge MSNBC to continue "Alan Keyes is Making Sense" in the 10:00 PM slot. I protest your succumbing to pressures against Keyes' stance for truth, and his honest fight against terrorism. Too many Americans died, and Keyes is defending them, . . . but you favor those who oppose Keyes. This is not American. Keep him on air, or I will cease watching your programming, and get others to join me.


One wonders if these guys have ever watched Keyes. He's a brilliant and eloquent man, but he doesn't seem capable of speaking in any manner other than high-flown oration. He's simply too intense to be watchable except in very small doses, which is doubtless why is ratings are poor. To blame his cancellation on terrorist sympathizers--not exactly an ascendant group in post-Sept. 11 America--reminds us of the guy in the old joke who complains to a friend that he was turned down for a radio job "because I'm J-J-J-J-Jewish."

Or is that a stuttering joke? Personally, I think he was cancelled because of the Bill Cosby sweaters...
Jimmy Carter gets results! Only a month after his historic trip to Cuba major changes are afoot on the island. An overwhelming majority of Cubans (99%!) have signed a petition calling for democratic reforms "an amendment to the constitution that declares Cuba's socialist system to be untouchable."

Of course, anytime 99% of the people support something one has to be a little suspicious. Look at the picture at the top of the article. "Just sign here..."
A study in Finland has found that cell phone use has damaging effects on the brain:
A major study into the safety of mobile phones has concluded that they may affect the health of people who use them.
Research carried out by scientists in Finland suggests radiation from mobile phones causes changes in the brain.


It is the first time that scientists have looked at the effects of mobile phone radiation on human cells rather than those of rats.


The two-year study concluded that even low-level emissions from handsets are damaging.

Great, so all this time I've been giving myself brain damage. This is major news that will affect hundreds of millions of people and destroy an entire industry. But wait. Reading further:
Prof Leszcynski said mobile phones were still safe to use.


"At the moment, there is no scientific support for introducing any sort of limitation either on use of mobile phones or setting new safety limits.


"There is no need because we don't have any science to support it. All the guidelines in place at the moment are fine."

...Dr Michael Clark, science spokesman at the National Radiological Protection Board, said the research did not show any impact on people's health.


"This is demonstrating a biological effect in cells in the lab."


Speaking to the BBC, he said: "It doesn't relate to a health effect. You can't go from a biological effect in a petrie dish to say that's a health effect."


He added: "The authors themselves are saying that this doesn't mean that mobile phones are unsafe or the guidelines are wrong."

Crisis averted. Gotta go, my phone's ringing...



Details emerging on the administration's Middle East policy:
President Bush plans in the coming days to propose the establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional boundaries, most likely in September, with negotiations over permanent borders to be completed within three years, U.S. and diplomatic sources said.


In a much-anticipated speech outlining his Middle East policy, the president will propose that the plan be adopted at an international conference, tentatively set for September, provided measurable progress has been made in revamping Palestinian security forces and reducing violence against Israeli civilians, the sources said.


Achievement of the three-year deadline for final settlement of the most difficult Israeli-Palestinian issues, including the status of Jerusalem and of Palestinian refugees, will also be dependent on measurable benchmarks for both sides, the sources said.

Will it work? Who knows, probably not. But it least it's step in the right direction. Given that there was another bombing today, though, I doubt the Israelis are ready to negotiate.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Thanks to Instapundit for the link to this great piece on the rise and fall of Garry Trudeau.
Here's an interesting environmental site, via National Review Online.
The NY Times had an article Sunday on rising temperatures in Alaska.
To live in Alaska when the average temperature has risen about seven degrees over the last 30 years means learning to cope with a landscape that can sink, catch fire or break apart in the turn of a season.


In the village of Shishmaref, on the Chukchi Sea just south of the Arctic Circle, it means high water eating away so many houses and buildings that people will vote next month on moving the entire village inland.


In Barrow, the northernmost city in North America, it means coping with mosquitoes in a place where they once were nonexistent, and rescuing hunters trapped on breakaway ice at a time of year when such things once were unheard of.


From Fairbanks to the north, where wildfires have been burning off and on since mid-May, it means living with hydraulic jacks to keep houses from slouching and buckling on foundations that used to be frozen all year. Permafrost, they say, is no longer permanent.


Here on the Kenai Peninsula, a recreation wonderland a few hours' drive from Anchorage, it means living in a four-million-acre spruce forest that has been killed by beetles, the largest loss of trees to insects ever recorded in North America, federal officials say. Government scientists tied the event to rising temperatures, which allow the beetles to reproduce at twice their normal rate.


In Alaska, rising temperatures, whether caused by greenhouse gas emissions or nature in a prolonged mood swing, are not a topic of debate or an abstraction. Mean temperatures have risen by 5 degrees in summer and 10 degrees in winter since the 1970's, federal officials say.

Seven degrees? Most climate change models don't even predict a seven degree temperature change over the next century, so seven degrees in thirty years seems a little high. (For more on this subject see Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist.) I did some checking around and found the Alaska Climate Research Center's web page, where they have a response to the Times article.
In response to the New York Times Article of 16 June 2002

The article "Alaska, No Longer So Frigid, Starts to Crack, Burn, and Sag" written by Timothy Egan quoted some statistics regarding the change in average temperatures in Alaska with which we cannot agree. In the first paragraph, a rise of "about seven degrees over the last 30 years" is quoted. We are not aware of the specific data which shows this.

Where did the Times get this data? What are the motivations behind this story? Ironically, yesterday the Times ran this story:
Advancing Glacier Threatens an Alaskan Fishing Village


Stratfor is kind of a bummer...
Jesse Jackson, call your office
A group of South Africans are seeking billions of dollars in compensation from foreign corporations for the "blood and misery" which they allegedly caused by doing business with the apartheid regime.

A team of American and South African lawyers is about to file a $50bn class action suit in New York against Swiss and US banks accused of backing the former apartheid regime.

The emerging figurehead for the plaintiffs is the sister of a 13-year-old boy shot dead by police in South Africa 26 years ago.

Standing at the site of the shooting in Soweto, Lulu Petersen said she was hoping that the white regime would be brought to justice.

She is one of four apartheid victims suing Citigroup, the largest financial institution in the US, and Swiss banking giants Credit Suisse and UBS for allegedly profiting from loans to the white South African government while a UN embargo was in force.

If the plaintiffs can prove that the defendants were profiting while under UN sanctions then all power to them. I was in South Africa several years before the fall of Apartheid and all I can say is that it is one of the most beautiful places, with one of the most amazing people, that I have ever seen. What a shame what has happened to this incredible place. The whole of Southern Africa has been visited by a plague which they do not deserve. I was in Zimbabwe when Mugabe was just a Marxist, before he was totally insane... another incredible country. Absolutely heartbreaking what is happening there.
Finally, Bush seems willing to veto something:
The White House issued a new veto threat Monday against the anti-terrorism bill Congress is writing, this time objecting to an effort by lawmakers to protect the proposed Crusader artillery system from extinction.


"The secretary of defense has determined that the Crusader artillery program is no longer relevant to our future requirements," White House budget director Mitchell Daniels wrote legislators.


He added that House-approved language "is unacceptable and the president's senior advisors would recommend that he veto any bill that included statutory restrictions limiting his ability to cancel this program."

Of course this should be vetoed, as the Crusader is unnecessary. Too bad he was unwilling to exercise his veto power on something more important, say, campaign finance reform, the farm bill... I guess something is better than nothing.

Monday, June 17, 2002

I go out to a nice dinner for a friend's birthday and come home to this.

Goddamn it.
Read this.
In today's uncertain world, where we have already lost the voice of Ronald Reagan, and we are soon, it seems, to lose the voice of Karol Wojtyla, it is comforting that Maggie is still around.
A couple of thoughts on the World Cup.

1. There has been a lot of mention of how great it is that immigrants to this country are rooting for the US. I watched a piece on the local news last night and not one of the five or six Mexican-Americans interviewed were rooting for the US. That's fine, but lets go overboard on soccer's power of assimilation.
2. Is anyone in this country going care about soccer next year?

Update I was in a Mexican restaurant tonight which had a sign up saying "Mexico sucks. Go U.S.A."
On the subject of online music trading, this from Reuters.
Mark Steyn on Bush jettisoning of conservative principles, via tariffs and subsidies, to win back the Senate -
This shameless pork (and wheat, and cotton) spending prompted paroxysms of rage from The Daily Telegraph's Boris Johnson, who declared that the President "has taken the engorged hosepipe of federal spending, and squirted it at any state that may return a Republican in this autumn's mid-term elections." If it's any consolation to him, as far as I can tell no actual farmers -- that's to say, gnarled guys in overalls, plaid shirts and John Deere caps with straws in their teeth -- will benefit from the so-called farm bill. Almost three-quarters of the subsidies will go to 20,000 multi-millionaire play-farmers and blue-chip corporations with some canny land investments. Among the lucky "farmers" piling up the dollar bills under the mattress are CNN founder Ted Turner, ABC News bloviator Sam Donaldson, the oil company Chevron, and dirtpoor hardscrabble sharecropper David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan Bank. Federal subsidies are aimed at the largest, most profitable farming operations, so, if you've got a small dairy operation in Vermont or New Hampshire, you'll be getting precisely nothing. But Ted and Sam and the Rockefellers will all be putting in new barns and buying new combines and remodeling the en suite bathrooms in the milking parlour. How ya gonna keep 'em down in Paree after they've seen the farm?


The legislation, as Johnson notes, is designed to help Republican fortunes in the "farm belt." Judging from this bill, the farm belt runs from Park Avenue, down Wall Street, out to the Hamptons and then by yacht to Martha's Vineyard -- or, as I like to think of it, Martha's Barnyard. These precincts will all be voting Democratic this November, as per usual: An extra three hundred grand here and there doesn't make any difference to these boys. But the political calculation is that out in the real farm belt the straw-suckers will watch Sam Donaldson discussing the new farm bill on ABC and draw the reasonable conclusion that Bush is "helping" farmers. Perception is everything: Just as Federal education bills do nothing for education, so it is not necessary for Federal farm bills to do anything for farms, just so long as they give the impression they do. By shoveling U.S. Department of Agriculture dollars at Ted Turner and David Rockefeller, President Bush hopes that enough folks in, say, rural South Dakota will be sufficiently grateful to vote against Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson on election day and return the Senate to Republican hands.

Let's hope that this calculation is right, and that, with the Senate back in Republican control, Bush returns to the conservative principles that he once claimed to stand for.
Richard Bennett on blogs.
I was watching a story on the local news about the City Car Share program we have here in San Francisco. They were interviewing a woman in Car Share's headquarters and I could swear there was a poster hanging on the wall behind her that read something to the effect of "When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler." I don't think I was seeing things. I hope I was.

UPDATE: Got a call from a friend in Boulder informing me that this is a real poster from WWII urging people to conserve gasoline for the war effort. The question remains whether the people at City CarShare find the poster a nice bit of history or whether they really, really hate people who don't carpool.
Andrew Sullivan is back from vacation and taking on Richard Goldstein's ridiculous article on conservative gays in The Nation.
I was arguing with a friend the other day about online music sharing, Napster, etc. I've always had a problem with services like Napster, but have never been able to really define my objections. On one level I have an aesthetic problem - to me (and many others) MP3s just don't sound as good as CDs (which of course don't sound as good as vinyl, but that is another topic). Plus you don't get album art, liner notes, all those things which true music afficionados want.

More importantly though, services such as Napster obviously engage in breaking the law (which is why they were shut down). Whether or not you like giving money to huge multinational corporations is beside the point. It is against the law to re-distribute copywritten material. Rule of law and property rights are two of the fundamental tenets of our system, not ideas to be discarded because you don't think you should have to pay for music. Of course the technology has many good, legal uses. It is a great way for unsigned bands to distribute their music, good for trading live music not subject to copywrite laws, etc. But the pro file-sharing argument most often used is that these record companies and musicians make millions (or billions) of dollars. True the record companies and some artists do, but many more don't and downloading their music does hurt their livelihood. Perhaps more importantly having a moral objection to record company profits doesn't justify breaking the law.

This brings up the topic of copying CDs, which I regularly do. This is different from file-sharing in scale - instead of distributing material to millions of people all over the world, I am distributing it to maybe four or five of my friends. Does this make it right? No, but I doubt that it hurts the industry as much as online sharing, so I can live with myself after copying a CD from a friend.

One point my friend made was that when you go buy a CD, say Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, you are giving money to Columbia Records, some portion of which goes to Dylan, but the majority of which goes to market and maintain Columbia's current stable of hitmakers. So you may think you're just getting a classic album, but you're really keeping Ricky Martin's career afloat. (Is Martin a current hitmaker? This may be a bad example.) This may be true, although I don't know what percent of the money goes where. I certainly don't want to be responsible for teaching a new generation of TRLers to shake their bon-bon, but I would hate to see record companies stop issuing old albums because it is not profitable to do so (because everyone is downloading them). In the same respect I don't want my hard-earned money subsidizing pictures of the Virgin Mary smeared with elephant dung, but I do enjoy a strong national defense, so I pay my income tax (and vote Republican). I am willing to subsidize no-talent Puerto Rican soap stars in order to continue enjoying Bob Dylan on CD and whatever the next new music medium is.
From Best of the Web Today:
America beat Mexico, 2-0, in soccer's World Cup in the wee hours of this morning. The Associated Press reports Mexicans got quite belligerent before the game:


A wave of nationalist fervor and dreams of soccer greatness swept Mexico before the game.


Mexico has been through three U.S. invasions and lost half its territory to its northern neighbor. Monday's match represented a chance for some psychological payback.


"This is war!" announced a headline in the Mexico City newspaper Reforma, describing a match between countries "who are neighbors, and bitter rivals."


In a rematch of World War II, America plays Germany on Friday.

Bob Herbert has a column in the NY Times today about the government's handling of Jose Padilla. While I agree with him in some respects, he resorts to this argument:
In the United States, as opposed to the many tyrannical societies we've known and are coming to know, the government is not permitted to hustle its citizens into prison without offering a legally sound reason for their incarceration, and without giving the accused an opportunity to challenge their loss of liberty.

Today it may be Padilla. Tomorrow it might be you.

This slippery slope argument is made to scare people in thinking the gov. is on its way to Soviet-style justice, locking up people on a whim. This seems rather unlikely. Whether or not you agree with the way the Padilla case is being handled, there at least is evidence that he was planning an attack on the US. The government is not running around throwing people in the brig for no reason. So don't worry - unless you're a terrorist, tomorrow it won't be you.

Conservative Christian organizations in the U.S. are joing forces with Islamic countries in the UN to halt protections for gays, women and children, the Washington Post reports.
UNITED NATIONS -- Conservative U.S. Christian organizations have joined forces with Islamic governments to halt the expansion of sexual and political protections and rights for gays, women and children at United Nations conferences.

The new alliance, which coalesced during the past year, has received a major boost from the Bush administration, which appointed antiabortion activists to key positions on U.S. delegations to U.N. conferences on global economic and social policy.

But it has been largely galvanized by conservative Christians who have set aside their doctrinal differences, cemented ties with the Vatican and cultivated fresh links with a powerful bloc of more than 50 moderate and hard-line Islamic governments, including Sudan, Libya, Iraq and Iran.

"We look at them as allies, not necessarily as friends," said Austin Ruse, founder and president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a New York-based organization that promotes conservative values at U.N. social conferences. "We have realized that without countries like Sudan, abortion would have been recognized as a universal human right in a U.N. document."

What would we do without countries like Sudan?
OK, so maybe we'll win the Cup this year.

Sunday, June 16, 2002

It's too nice a day...I'm going out.
Here's a great piece from Reuters about a Canadian math teacher's test questions. Seems they're all about pimpin' and dealing coke. Someone should hook this teacher up with the writer's of the New York Regents exam. The last line of the story is the best. I guess people just don't get satire these days.
Happy Father's Day.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could topple Saddam Hussein without invading Iraq? Doesn't seem too likely, but at least some action is being taken. It's a start.