The Null Device
A brief roundup of news items this God Bless America Day: Salman Rushdie commenting on how Bush's selective "anti-terrorist" campaign may end up achieving what Osama bin Laden sought to do, i.e., radicalising large sections of the Islamic world. Meanwhile, a US journalist comments on the blind spot of the US newsmedia:
In Washington, the media function like a palace court press. In the name of political neutrality, the definition of quotable sources is limited to the narrow spectrum from Republican to Democrat. If a given point of view - say, that missile defence is a dangerous fantasy - is not articulated by leading lawmakers, it is ignored. Instead of substance, journalists focus on palace intrigues: what is the White House proposing today, how will Congress react, who will win the fight? Rarely does the coverage stand back from insider debates, or offer alternative analysis. Thus our media fail to act as the check and balance our nation's founders envisioned.
And then there's the Stepford Citizen Syndrome, or the 10 official "truths" of the War On Terrorism (ranging from Bush's moral virtue and wise leadership to the immediate threat of Saddam Hussein, to the integrity of America's famed constitutional checks and balances), each debunked:
Overlooking our thrice-arrested president's blatant disregard for civil rights, human rights and the environment, they continue to downplay scandals and downgrade their role as protectors of the public trust. But with oft-repeated quips like, "lucky me, I hit the trifecta" and "if this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier," G.W. offers a glimpse at his indecent inner frat boy. Especially revealing was a Talk Magazine interview, in which he mimicked death row inmate Karla Faye Tucker. "Please," Bush whimpered, mocking Tucker's plea for clemency, "don't kill me." Gallows humor is only funny when those telling jokes don't have the power to save people from the gallows.
Europeans don't agree with us because we're wrong. They understand the geopolitical motivations behind this war, as their press isn't as censored. In America, however, stories about Enron's involvement in the proposed oil and gas pipeline though Afghanistan were squashed, and if you wanted to know about the Taliban's trip to Texas, you had to learn about it in the National Enquirer rather than on Meet the Press.
Stability in Afghanistan is but a myth, warlords carry out atrocities without intervention, and the State Department is forced to guard President Karzai. Meanwhile, many warn that Bush's plans for Iraq could lead to Armageddon. Yet "Bush is doing an excellent job in the war on terror?" How?
In other words, where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?
Yakuza gangs in Japan have figured out a way of monetising sex crime; and have started operating rape safaris for paying customers, presumably the sick bastards whose tastes have become too rarefied for hentai anime and vending-machine schoolgirl panties.
"If a member tells his club the type of women he'd like to rape, the club will arrange it for him. Market rates are about 100,000 yen a rape. If the member designates a specific individual, the fee can go over 1 million yen in some cases. Designating an individual usually involves putting the guy together with somebody who knows him, making it more likely they can be reported to the cops, so the greater cost arises from the greater risk factor," the source tells Asahi Geino.
(via die puny humans)
Shortly after the CIA has failed to find any link between Iraq and terrorist groups, the UN's chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has said that there is no evidence of Iraq having or trying to build weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless, Bush, Blair and Howard are still going on about how there must be terrorist links, and how with international help, Iraq could easily make a nuclear bomb to give to Al-Qaeda. Call it faith-based geopolitics.
Evidence or no evidence, there will almost certainly be an invasion of Iraq. Bush will not be robbed of his statesmanly stature and turned into just another bumbling idiot politician again, and nothing short of Saddam Hussein giving himself up to U.S. authorities (and not those UN/EU pinkos either) will suffice to stop the machinery now in motion. And as soon as Saddam is safely in his supermax cell in Colorado and the insurrections across the Middle East have been put down, they can go after Castro or Gaddafi; the possibilities are endless.
The World's Oldest Multinational Corporation: Looks like the Vatican is still unclear on the concept of free speech and the open debate of issues, fiercely condemning a film about abuse in convents. Perhaps they should bring back the Index and summarily excommunicate anyone who partakes of forbidden media. Incidentally, I wonder how it will fare against Australia's film censorship regime.