Chrenkoff has part 16 of the good news from Afghanistan, including that the First Special Olympics have been held in Afghanistan in late August, with 360 athletes with intellectual disabilities participating in athletics, bocce and football.
Archives for September 2005
Sam: [lying] No, I don’t.
Rick: You played it for her, you can play it for me!
Sam: [lying] Well, I don’t think I can remember…
Rick: If she can stand it, I can! Play it!
Kofi does his best to recall lines from Casablanca during his London interview.
To help the few who haven’t memorized Casablanca by now, I’m showing the quotes from the film in italics. Kofi’s words are indented.
In Casablanca, Senor Ferrari said, As the leader of all illegal activities in Casablanca, I am an influential and respected man. In London, Kofi says:
But you have certain elements in American society – the right-wing group and certain (members of the) press who have been very negative and very aggressive and have been systematically attacking us.
And, of course, I’m the face of the United Nations. And so if you want to destroy the United Nations, to discredit it, you have to focus on the face and the leader. It’s easier to attack an individual than an institution.
And they sometimes forget that the institution of the United Nations is the 191 states, including their own country, including the United States.
Hearing that made me think of these words, You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who’s trying to convince himself of something he doesn’t believe in his heart. But Kofi continues,
So the failures of the United Nations are their failures too. And the successes of the UN are theirs. They sometimes behave as if the UN is a satellite somewhere, headed by this secretary general who wants to disturb our world.
To which I say, Kofi, We musn’t underestimate American blundering.
Since the Oil-For-Food program and subsequent scandal literally jumped onto his lap Kofi echoes Rick’s Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.:
Oil-for-food was an extra programme we were asked to undertake. Honestly, I wish we had never been given that programme, and I wish the UN will never be asked to undertake that kind of a programme again.
In Casablanca, [after observing the gambling tables at Rick’s]
Customer: Are you sure this place is honest?
Carl: Honest? As honest as the day is long!
while, in Kofi’s view,
We have lots of hard-working men and women who take risks to work for the organisation, who go to distant places to help others. One of them is in this room.
I hasten to add that there was at least one other UN employee in the room.
Casablanca’s Captain Renault said Realizing the importance of the case, my men are rounding up twice the usual number of suspects, and here’s Kofi’s version:
So when you compare the size of the programme and the review that has been done with other situations, for people to say that the UN is packed with thieves and corrupt people – one has to put things in perspective.
Then there’s this exchange, which reminded me of They got a lucky break. Yesterday they were just two German clerks. Today they’re the “Honored Dead”, in which Kofi manages to blame terrorism on both the Americans and television — yesterday they were just “insurgents”, today they’re victims of the USA and the media:
Q: Is it fuelling a recruitment drive by the most militant of organisations?
A: Angry young people who have emotional and nationalistic or religious feeling may be inclined to sign on or would be very angry to see what is happening in what they would describe as the “occupation”, or one thing or the other – because they will not take the time to sit back and analyse.
They only base their decisions on what they see on television.
For now, You’ll excuse me, gentlemen. Your business is politics, mine is running a
saloon blog, but I end this post with Rick’s immortal words,
Rick: Twenty thousand francs says it isn’t.
Update Another line from the movie: Ugarte: Heh, you know, watching you just now with the Deutsche Bank, one would think you’ve been doing this all your life.
Via The Corner, Claudia Rosett & George Russell: The U.N.’s Spreading Bribery Scandal: Russian Ties and Global Reach
Procurement and budgeting corruption may escape Volcker’s scrutiny, but they are central to the mandate of Annan.
This scandal touches on almost everything the secretary-general is supposed to control. It is by way of procurement contracts, for goods and services ranging from cappuccino and paper clips at U.N. headquarters, to air freight services and food rations for peacekeeping troops worldwide, that the United Nations spends the billions contributed every year by member states — of which U.S. taxpayers provide the largest slice.
. . .
the documents provide more information than perhaps Volcker intended. The letter discusses food services costs for U.N. peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Eritrea and Burundi, and refers to pricing and delivery amendments to the supply contracts. The memo includes references in Yakovlev’s handwriting to peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, Cyprus, Western Sahara and the Golan Heights.
. . .
Yakovlev was also heavily involved in the United Nations’ hiring of inspection firms to monitor Saddam Hussein’s oil sales and relief purchases under the 1996-2003 Oil-for-Food program, in which Russia topped the global list of both oil buyers and relief suppliers. Indeed, in the first of three interim reports this year from the U.N.-authorized probe into Oil-for-Food, led by Volcker, Yakovlev was presented as a star example of U.N. integrity. Only after his wrongdoing was brought to light by FOX News did Volcker produce evidence that Yakovlev was himself embroiled in corruption schemes.
Federal investigations into the alleged U.N. procurement bribery ring are continuing. Volcker has promised to release the underlying documentation of his Oil-for-Food probe when it comes to an end, after the main report due out Wednesday and a wrap-up report due in October. That could help identify the unnamed parties Volcker referred to as holding at least $79 million worth of U.N. contracts on which they paid Yakovlev close to $1 million in bribes
…Here’s looking at you, kid
BBC News’ Trystan Young leaves no cliché unturned
in his coverage of the hurricane relief effort, by managing to squeeze the words Baghdad, Viet-Nam, and Contras in the first sentence of this report (see 5 September Army battles to bring order to New Orleans at this page if the prior link doesn’t work).
Too bad Mr. Young didn’t have time to search back in history books or he would have included names such as Forts Jackson and St. Phillip, and Port Hudson which at least are in the vecinity. Citing those names would require a modicum of knowledge of history and geography, and they aren’t as catchy as “Baghdad, Viet-Nam, and Contras”, though. I wouldn’t expect him to mention the January 8, 1815 defeat of the British at the Battle of New Orleans because of its Jacksonian overtones.
As a former Air Force logistics officer, let me clarify the following for the idiots in the Left Wing Media:
1. Things can get destroyed far more swiftly than they can get fixed.
2. The United States military can wipe out the Taliban and the Iraqi Republican Guard far more swiftly than they can bring 3 million Swanson dinners to an underwater city through an area the size of Great Britain which has no power, no working ports or airports, and a devastated and impassable road network.
3. You cannot speed recovery and relief efforts up by prepositioning assets since the assets are endangered by the very storm which destroyed the region.
4. We do not yet have teleporter nor replicator technology like you saw on “Star Trek” in college between hookah hits and waiting to pick up your worthless communications degree while the grownups actually engaged in the recovery effort today were studying engineering.
5. Getting people out of the stricken areas is the most pressing concern, since we cannot get enough supplies into it to safely sustain them.
6. Getting the airport, bridges, and roads repaired is the next priority, since the supplies and people needed to fix levees, drain the city, and repair the infrastructure cannot be transported via aircraft. You need to truck them in.
7. Once the infrastructure is repaired, it is vital to get the ports in working order. Equipment and supplies can only be moved into the area in large quantities by sea.
8. Only then can recovery efforts begin in earnest.
9. The above will take weeks and months, not days or hours.
10. No amount of yelling, crying, and mustering of moral indignation will change any of the facts above. Facts are facts. Opinion is cheap.
11. You could do more help actually keeping your damned satellite trucks out of the way of the folks doing the real work.
12. If you must vent your indignation, how about targeting the Louisiana officials who did absolutely nothing to protect their constituents? At least you can help ensure the populace doesn’t elect these clowns again.
Don’t miss the rest of the post.
Update Harry sent this, New Orleans: A Geopolitical Prize by George Friedman (emphasis mine):
The focus in the media has been on the oil industry in Louisiana and Mississippi. This is not a trivial question, but in a certain sense, it is dwarfed by the shipping issue. First, Louisiana is the source of about 15 percent of U.S.-produced petroleum, much of it from the Gulf. The local refineries are critical to American infrastructure. Were all of these facilities to be lost, the effect on the price of oil worldwide would be extraordinarily painful. If the river itself became unnavigable or if the ports are no longer functioning, however, the impact to the wider economy would be significantly more severe. In a sense, there is more flexibility in oil than in the physical transport of these other commodities.
There is clearly good news as information comes in. By all accounts, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which services supertankers in the Gulf, is intact. Port Fourchon, which is the center of extraction operations in the Gulf, has sustained damage but is recoverable. The status of the oil platforms is unclear and it is not known what the underwater systems look like, but on the surface, the damage – though not trivial — is manageable.
The news on the river is also far better than would have been expected on Sunday. The river has not changed its course. No major levees containing the river have burst. The Mississippi apparently has not silted up to such an extent that massive dredging would be required to render it navigable. Even the port facilities, although apparently damaged in many places and destroyed in few, are still there. The river, as transport corridor, has not been lost.
I’ll be waiting a long time before the Beeb finds Mr. Friedman and asks for his perspective, instead of puffing up their inane reports with inappropriate clichés.
I’m sure the entire Iberian peninsula would fit in that area.
More news you might have missed while watching the disaster coverage
1. The German elections are coming up: On the one hand,
On the other hand, Schroeder’s Party Reaches Five-Month High in Weekly Stern Poll
3. Six thousand executed in Venezuela?
The Havana Convention Center was dressed in hospital whites on Sunday evening with 1,586 Cuban doctors awaiting the go ahead from the Bush administration to fly to the US and provide emergency assistance to Hurricane Katrina victims wherever needed.
I told my mom about this one and her reply was “Make that 1,586 more refugees!”
GWB: Bigger than Zeus, just not as popular
In view of the Bush bashing following the hurricane, I’ve come to the conclusion that the bashers must hold the belief that the President is Zeus, only bigger. After all, Zeus was
associated as being a weather god, as his main attribute is the thunderbolt, he controlled thunder, lightning and rain
but didn’t have to deal with the media.
Ben Stein’s Get Off His Back relates to this attitude:
Is there any problem in the world that is not Mr. Bush’s fault, or have we reverted to a belief in a sort of witchcraft where we credit a mortal man with the ability to create terrifying storms and every other kind of ill wind?
Allow me to add a few comments as I look at a few of Ben’s paragrpahs:
4.) There is no overwhelming evidence that global warming exists as a man-made phenomenon. There is no clear-cut evidence that global warming even exists. There is no clear evidence that if it does exist it makes hurricanes more powerful or makes them aim at cities with large numbers of poor people. If global warming is a real phenomenon, which it may well be, it started long before George Bush was inaugurated, and would not have been affected at all by the Kyoto treaty, considering that Kyoto does not cover the world’s worst polluters — China, India, and Brazil. In a word, George Bush had zero to do with causing this hurricane. To speculate otherwise is belief in sorcery.
One thing that I find amazing is how great a belief in a man’s (the president’s) omnipotence and omniscience appears to run among his critics. Not even the weather service knew for sure where the storm was heading after it hit Florida (link via The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid). Even then, as PoliPundit points out, by Saturday, August 27 President Bush had declared a state of emergency in Louisiana. There was plenty of time for the local authorities to have put some of the most at-risk people (the handicapped, for instance) in those buses. Back to Ben,
5.) George Bush had nothing to do with the hurricane contingency plans for New Orleans. Those are drawn up by New Orleans and Louisiana. In any event, the plans were perfectly good: mandatory evacuation. It is in no way at all George Bush’s fault that about 20 percent of New Orleans neglected to follow the plan. It is not his fault that many persons in New Orleans were too confused to realize how dangerous the hurricane would be. They were certainly warned. It’s not George Bush’s fault that there were sick people and old people and people without cars in New Orleans. His job description does not include making sure every adult in America has a car, is in good health, has good sense, and is mobile.
I disagree with Ben on this point. “Mandatory evacuation” was an abstract concept in the minds of New Orleans authorities. As Sigmund Carl and Alfred points out,
Clearly, many had no form or means of transportation out of the city. Without local, county and state help to help with the evacuation- ordered at least 24 hours in advance and suggested days earlier, there was no way we could have seen a viable exodus or poor residents. Any viable evacuation would have entailed cooperation at the city, state and local levels- cooperation that was not in evidence.
What special abilities does the media have for deciding how much blame goes to the federal government as opposed to the city government of New Orleans for the aftereffects of Katrina?
A Chrenkoff reader points out,
What’s been lost in all the blather over New Orleans is that it was really Mississippi that took the big hit.
. . .
Amidst all the hyperventilating that’s going on, it’s actually a good time for a civics lesson, particularly watching the competence of the people in Mississippi and the gross incompetence of almost all concerned in Louisiana. Who was responsible for what?
Ben’s list goes on,
6.) George Bush did not cause gangsters to shoot at rescue helicopters taking people from rooftops, did not make gang bangers rape young girls in the Superdome, did not make looters steal hundreds of weapons, in short make New Orleans into a living hell
They’re still shooting. I heard in the news this morning that rescue workers were throwing food from a helicopter to people shooting at them. I appreciate the workers’ intentions, but please, in such circumstances, if someone doesn’t want the help, don’t give it. Ben asks
Why is it that the snipers who shot at emergency rescuers trying to save people in hospitals and shelters are never mentioned except in passing, and Mr. Bush, who is turning over heaven and earth to rescue the victims of the storm, is endlessly vilified?
Maybe it has to do with the MSM not wanting to look at how A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State:
What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider “normal” behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don’t sit around and complain that the government hasn’t taken care of them. And they don’t use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.
But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don’t, because they don’t own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.
People living in piles of their own trash, while petulantly complaining that other people aren’t doing enough to take care of them and then shooting at those who come to rescue them—this is not just a description of the chaos at the Superdome. It is a perfect summary of the 40-year history of the welfare state and its public housing projects.
The welfare state—and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages—is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.
Zeus had it easy.
After Sept. 11, many people who should have known better argued that it was somehow a vindication of government.
. . .
. . Sept. 11 was an appalling comprehensive failure of just about every relevant federal agency. The only government that worked that day was local and state: The great defining image, redeeming American honor at a moment of national humiliation, is those brave New York firemen pounding up the stairs of the World Trade Center.
Equipment includes ultrasound, digital radiology, satellite Internet, and a full pharmacy, enabling doctors to do most types of surgery in the field, including open-chest and abdominal operations.
It travels in a convoy that includes two 53-foot trailers, which as of Sunday afternoon was parked on a gravel lot 70 miles north of New Orleans because Louisiana officials for several days would not let them deploy to the flooded city, Rich said.
Zeus, by Jove!
Update, Tuesday, September 6: Mark Steyn: Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it’s bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness. (My thanks to Maria, who sent the link)
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Jacques Chirac In Hospital Due To Vascular Accident
French President Jacques Chirac, 72, has been hospitalized with what appears to be a minor stroke. According to Le Monde (link in French), he was admitted to the emergency room of Val-de-Grâce Military Hospital last evening, Friday September 2. Bloomberg quotes Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin stating
“He had a small vascular accident yesterday evening, which led to slight vision problems that should resolve itself in the coming days”
Chirac is expected to remain in the hospital for the upcoming week, but there has been no mention of any temporary handover of authority.
Also posted at Blogger News Network
Update, Sunday September 4: Last evening’s France2 newscast had a couple of interesting details:
- The French do not consider the status of their president’s health a right-to-know issue. (related article here)
- DeVillepin took the press along for his morning jog for the first time Saturday morning
- Chirac had been in the hospital over 12 hours before the information that he was hospitalized was made public on Saturday noon
- DeVillepin and Sarkozy had a cordial meal outdoors (in the hot sun but in full view of the press) before attending the ongoing UMP convention. It was so cordial they nearly got into a Barak/Arafat-like “After you. No, after YOU, I insist” shoving match at the doorway. Luckily it was only the two of them or they would have looked like these guys.
Today the media’s camping out at the hospital entrance.
Update 2 The Telegraph (UK) today: ‘Minor’ stroke puts Chirac in hospital but he hangs on to reins of government