Archive for March, 2005

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Terri Schiavo has died.
The Anchoress has a nice post. La Shawn Barber has a round-up of obits and tributes.

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Paul Johnson: “The UN is for Talk, Not Action”
at Forbes

What has emerged so far confirms my view that the UN is constitutionally incapable of conducting any operation efficiently or honestly. Ideally the UN, foreshadowing a future world government, ought to be run by a global meritocracy-rule by the best. In practice, it is the opposite. Any state that can be legally defined as one can join the UN-it is a club having no rules of probity or morals. To be a member, a state does not have to be a democracy, nor must it accept the rule of law. It can be a hopelessly corrupt tyranny.
. . .
But will any punishment be meted out? Will any serious reforms be pushed through? Of course not. As for blame, some of it attaches to the major powers, such as the U.S., Britain and France, who have put pressure on UN officials to award contracts to big firms from their respective countries. The diplomats involved argue that such pressure is routine and inevitable. Any system of punishment would have to involve people from the big powers, and there’s no chance of that happening. As for reforms, the UN is beyond reform until membership is restricted to civilized powers that practice democracy and the rule of law and hold their rulers responsible for their actions.

Johnson compares the UN to the EU:

Other big international organizations show similar endemic weaknesses. The EU has a corrupt, inefficient and hugely expensive bureaucracy that gobbles up billions of euros that are never properly accounted for. It has successfully resisted any kind of real investigation into its misdeeds. It survives and flourishes in its wickedness because major component states, such as France, Italy and Germany, are themselves corrupt and have no desire to see Brussels become pure and honest. The only way to reduce corruption in Brussels is to give it less to do. The same principle applies to the UN.

EU Referendum compares what the UN and the EU have done for the victims of the most recent earthquake in Indonesia:

The UN, that wonderfully efficient and transparent organization, has set up a hub in the Sumatra port city of Sibolga and is wondering what to do next as the weather is very bad on the affected islands. It might send in Chinook helicopters (probably Australian ones). Then again, it might not.
. . .
And the EU? Well, the EU has reacted in its own inimitable fashion:

“The EU’s executive commission has sent an assessment team to the affected area and said it would offer financial aid if needed.”

As Johnson said, “The UN is for Talk, Not Action”, and the same goes for the EU.

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Richard Gere on the WSJ
asks Don’t Abandon Tibet: Why Europe must not lift the arms embargo on China:

All the more so since China enacted an anti-secession law providing it with the legal authority to attack Taiwan should it proceed further toward self-rule. The timing of this legislation contains a lesson for the EU. It was unthinkable until now because China lacked the capability to launch an invasion across the 100 miles of the Taiwan Strait. However, Beijing has invested billions of dollars in Russian-made submarines, destroyers and other weapons. Therefore, lifting the embargo could accelerate Beijing’s buying spree and enable even greater Chinese aggression.

Gere is right.

Paul Johnson has argued that the larger European economies, France and Germany, are unable to generate revenues because of their socialist agendas, and must rely on deals with states like Iran and China for revenues. Let’s hope their leaders realize what’s at stake, before it’s too late. So far, that hasn’t happened. In fact, the Guardian this morning writes, Writing is on the wall for wary Taiwan

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

More on the MS-13
From an on-line English version of a Mexican newspaper, a nicely inflammatory headline, Vigilantes set to ‘confront’ migrants

nationalist vigilantes are set to begin patrolling the border with Mexico in an effort to stem what they see as a tide of undocumented immigrants, and some reports say violent Central American gang members are preparing to confront the selfstyled sentinels.

Balanced news, you ask?

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Nazism in the News
Maria sent me this news item, from HonestReporting.com, on how The Nazi salute has been adopted by Palestinians

On Monday (Mar. 21), the Palestinian Authority’s largest party, Fatah, held a rally for student leaders at Hebron University. At the rally, up-and-coming Fatah leaders collectively struck the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute that’s universally associated with Nazi Germany.

This salute also seems to have been recently adopted by the PA police force, as indicated by this February 10 AFP photo (below):
With momentum gaining to resume peace talks, the PA’s identification with Nazi German practice ― even in a symbolic manner ― is cause for concern.

You can read about The Nazi Roots of Modern Radical Islam

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Stevens Institute story at the Star Ledger
that I posted about on Monday is now on line, at the Star Ledger, but also (via DynamoBuzz) at the Jersey Journal with a different title, Prez’s salary soars; publicly it’s in black, insiders see red.

Mr. Snitch! was wondering if the Hoboken papers (Jersey Journal and Hoboken Reporter) would write on the story. Now Jersey Journal has. Let’s hope Stevens Institute gets an independent audit, and full disclosure.

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Breakfast’s ready!
If I could tolerate sugary cereals, and was paying $40,000 for tuition, room, and board, I’d want my brand-name Cocoa Puffs. Harvard students will agree.

No need to get the reduced sugar versions, though.

Those craving 415 mg of cholesterol can order three eggs, sausages, and bacon – or they can go to Burger King

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Bioethics?
In the article “Human Non-Person”: Terri Schiavo, bioethics, and our future Wesley Smith explains

If you want to know how it became acceptable to remove tube-supplied food and water from people with profound cognitive disabilities, this exchange brings you to the nub of the Schiavo case — the “first principle,” if you will. Bluntly stated, most bioethicists do not believe that membership in the human species accords any of us intrinsic moral worth. Rather, what matters is whether “a being” or “an organism,” or even a machine, is a “person,” a status achieved by having sufficient cognitive capacities. Those who don’t measure up are denigrated as “non-persons.”

Allen’s perspective is in fact relatively conservative within the mainstream bioethics movement. He is apparently willing to accept that “minimal awareness would support some criterion of personhood” — although he doesn’t say that awareness is determinative. Most of his colleagues are not so reticent. To them, it isn’t sentience per se that matters but rather demonstrable rationality. Thus Peter Singer of Princeton argues that unless an organism is self-aware over time, the entity in question is a non-person. The British academic John Harris, the Sir David Alliance professor of bioethics at the University of Manchester, England, has defined a person as “a creature capable of valuing its own existence.” Other bioethicists argue that the basic threshold of personhood should include the capacity to experience desire. James Hughes, who is more explicitly radical than many bioethicists (or perhaps, just more candid), has gone so far as to assert that people like Terri are “sentient property.”

What the definition of “sufficient cognitive capacities” is remains to be seen. Once people are seen as “killable and harvestable” sentient property, any number of justifications can be found to kill and harvest any number of people. And that could mean you, and me.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Why is communism bad?
Asks some clueless kid on a message board, and Bridget Johnson explains why. Many young people know why communism is bad.

Locally, Princeton University Students protest crackdown in Cuba

CAUSA co-founder Chris Gueits, also a Princeton sophomore, said the group’s decision to end its march outside the front doors of Firestone was symbolic of the absence of a free flow of information in Cuba and restrictions against free expression.
“In countries like Cuba, this would land you in jail,” Mr. Gueits said in front of the sculpture outside the library. “There’s a vacuum of information over there, and these people feel alone.”
. . .
The march was held within a week of the second anniversary of an alleged crackdown on dissent by Cuban President Fidel Castro on March 18, 2003. President Castro ordered the arrest of more than 75 journalists, labor union organizers, civic leaders, librarians and human rights activists, according to organizers.

The protest at Princeton University was one of several reportedly held on college campuses across the nation. There was a simultaneous march on the University of Pennsylvania campus, and memorial events were held at Harvard, Georgetown, Boston College, University of Florida, Florida State, Cornell, Columbia and elsewhere, organizers said.

I heartily applaud Mr. Gueits and his group for their efforts.

Update: Che makes it to this Dean‘s list (via Babalu)

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

The Whore of Mensa?
Back in the olden days when Woody Alan was funny, way before his incestuous marriage, the published a story called The Whore of Mensa, which premise was an escort service of high-IQ women.
Well, it looks like someone on campus’s got a business plan:

An online advertisement that offered Princeton University students male escorts — and solicited female students to apply for a position — was a joke, but the ad’s author insists the business model is sound.
A business that catered to the community at large likely would be profitable, said Edward Shin, the univrsity senior who created the ad.
On March 8, Mr. Shin posted the dating service ad on a new student auction Web site called TigerTrade. TigerTrade, which opened Feb. 28, can only be accessed by students of the university and matches sellers to buyers through a bidding system similar to that used by eBay.
The ad — which was marred by several misspelled words — read, “Our gentlemen, over six feet tall and in excellent physical shape, are willing to offer you companionship. Whether the occassion is a formal, a movie, or a shopping trip, we can accomodate.”

Apparently only tall guys were available. What happened to the short guys?

As a side comment, may I mention that the Mayflower Madam has relatives in town?