• Monday, October 31, 2005 at 1:15 PM

    Meet President Bush’s unmiered follow-up to the Harriet Miers nomination debacle

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    President Bush has just announced Judge Samuel A. Alito as his “second” most qualified nominee to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court of the United States. Alas, notwithstanding his impeccable credentials, the nomination process in America has become so bereft of political integrity that the only thing one needs to know about Judge Alito is that Christian fundamentalist Republicans say that he passed their litmus test on unqualified opposition to abortion rights with flying colours. And, this fact alone guarantees that liberal Democrats will deploy every weapon in their political arsenal to defeat his nomination.

    Click here to see what this nomination portends for politics in America. Because, sadly enough, I telegraphed what is bound to follow months ago. And, so much for Laura’s push for gender diversity on the court.

    Let the partisan wars begin…

  • Monday, October 31, 2005 at 11:54 AM

    Courting America PART II: England’s King and Queen (in waiting) preview their “working” tour of America

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    In a preemptive PR move to establish his royal and political relevance, Prince Charles condescended to a carefully managed interview on the popular American news programme 60 Minutes (e.g., no questions about the well-documented spousal abuse he inflicted upon Princess Diana was allowed). The interview gave the Prince a national forum to declaim on everything from the looming hazards of global warming to urban planning and the redeeming values of Islam. His courtiers timed it for broadcast last night as a teaser for the 8-day tour of America the Prince embarks on tomorrow with his royal consort Mrs Parker Bowles.

    But as he travels the country – dutifully courting the surreal entitlements of his charmed life – Prince Charles would probably prefer it if fawning Americans did not know that back home an increasing number of disaffected Britons dismiss him as a self-indulgent, spiteful, whining, pontificating bore. Of course, we now know that he thinks commoners are just “bloody fools” (see link below) because one of his obscenity-laced temper tantrums was caught on camera during his ski vacation in Switzerland last winter.

    Nevertheless, Prince Charles strikes me as a remarkably intelligent and thoughtful man. And he seems to have done a commendable job of executing his noblesse oblige through a variety of charitable ventures. But therein lies the Prince’s inescapable paradox: Because everything Prince Charles says and does is undermined by the fact that he represents, indeed personifies, an institution that is (almost) as anathema to the founding principle of democracy – that “all men are created equal” – as the institution of slavery.

    And, no matter how public-spirited the Prince or legally sanctioned his entitlements, the monarchy remains as much an eyesore on the landscape of modern societies as the modern buildings he once described as

    “…a jostling scrum…so mediocre that the only way you ever remember them is by the frustration they induce – like a basketball team standing shoulder-to-shoulder between you and the Mona Lisa.”

    Well, at some point along his tour, perhaps an American bloody fool will inform the Prince that monarchy obstructs the advance of democracy just as that basketball team obstructs his view of the Mona Lisa. Then let him explain which obstruction is the more unseemly eyesore.

    Note: I would like to see monarchies abolished as much as Prince Charles would like to see modern buildings bulldozed. But I invite you to click here for a little appreciation of what informs my distaste for this anachronistic institution.

  • Monday, October 31, 2005 at 11:17 AM

    Courting America PART I: Prince Albert of Monaco tries to explain to America why his black son is unfit to be a Prince

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    One would have expected the smooth-talking, cosmopolitan and media savvy Prince Albert II of Monaco to acquit himself well under questioning from TV journalists about his illegitimate black son; especially since any commoner could have anticipated the questions that would be asked. Yet as I reviewed the video of his appearance on Good Morning America last week, Prince Albert seemed to be imitating the worst deer-caught-in-the-headlights moments of President George W.Bush in response to every question.

    Indeed, after deploying every journalistic technique to get the Prince to utter a coherent sentence on why he tried to keep his loyal subjects in the dark about his black son, interviewer Diane Sawyer became so nonplused, if not exasperated, that she finally exclaimed:

    “What’s the big deal. He’s your son. You’re the Prince. You can change the succession laws [of Monaco to grant your son his birthright]?”

    To which the playboy prince mumbled:

    “It’s just complicated.”

    In fact, it’s as simple as black and white. But Prince Albert appeared like a royally confused bigot because his decision to honour classic European racism at the expense of his own flesh and blood is (today) incomprehensible and morally indefensible!

    The avenging mistress and black son (a.k.a. royal pain) that Prince Albert just wishes would go away

    Note: Albert’s performance on Good Morning America not only made a mockery of his royal title but also betrayed the royal proclamation he made last summer upon ascending Monaco’s Monegasque throne to lead his principality with “a focus on ethics and honesty.”

    Endnote: Years ago, when they had relatively few blacks in their midst, Europeans were keen to cast self-righteous aspersion on white Americans for the virulent and overt racism that prevails in the United States. But in recent years, as more and more Africans immigrate to Europe, their racism and moral hypocrisy have become patently manifest.

  • Sunday, October 30, 2005 at 12:20 PM

    Happy Halloween…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Saturday, October 29, 2005 at 9:50 AM

    U.S. pays unprecedented tribute to Rosa Parks

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    The U.S. Congress voted yesterday to pay tribute to Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks by allowing her to become the first woman (and only the 30th person in American history) to Lie in Honour at the U.S. Capitol. Those wishing to pay their last respect can see her in repose tomorrow and on Monday.

    Farewell Rosa! And thank you for paving the way for us to have a much smoother ride in this life…

  • Friday, October 28, 2005 at 10:44 AM

    UN Report cites international firms, British MP George Galloway and others as thieves

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    BREAKING NEWS: Feeding frenzy in New York as journalists line-up for their copy of the most anticipated Report ever published by the United Nations.

    Meanwhile…

    Buried in schadenfreude and lamentations here in Washington, DC over President Bush’s withdrawal of his Harriet Miers nomination and looming indictments against one or more White House aides was news of Paul Volcker’s release of his final Report on the Manipulation of the [UN] Oil-for-Food Programme.

    Highlights of the report include charges that 2,253 firms from 66 countries took kickbacks (including Volvo and Daimler Chrysler AG), and that a number of individuals took bribes from Saddam Hussein to argue for lifting UN sanctions and against regime change in Iraq (most notably amongst them the maverick British MP George Galloway whose vain protestations to the contrary – under oath – I wrote about in this previous article).

    Click here for my article on what Volcker’s report portends for the United Nations and its beleaguered Secretary General Kofi Annan.

  • Friday, October 28, 2005 at 10:08 AM

    Washington awaits the indictment(s) of senior White House aide(s)…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Which of these two White House aides just looks guilty: Vice President Cheney’s smug Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter Libby (above) or President Bush’s cherubic political architect Karl Rove (below)?

    Like kids giddy with suspense on Christmas morning, today all of Washington is anxiously awaiting the announcement by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald of indictments against senior aides in the Bush Administration based on his 2-year CIA leak investigation. Indeed, as the ironical torpedoing of the Harriet Miers nomination demonstrated (see article below), it is very likely that moderate members of President Bush’s own Republican Party will be just as happy as gloating Democrats to see his aides indicted.

    Despite the mandated secrecy of grand jury proceedings, everyone expects Fitzgerald to indict Bush’s political “architect” Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby. And, even though indictments will effectively end their political careers (and probably their freedom for a little while), predictions that they will plunge Bush’s presidency into complete disarray and fecklessness are grossly exaggerated. If either Rove or Libby (or both) is indicted, however, he (they) will soon be relegated to the dust-bin of Washington history – after pro forma Presidential pardon(s) for all crimes committed that everyone expects Bush will grant on his last day in office in January 2008.

    But there could be a silver lining in the political dark clouds now hovering above the White House. Because these indictments would provide the perfect cover for Bush to finally extricate himself from the neo-con cabal that led his presidency astray (into Iraq) and drove away his most prudent adviser, former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    Moreover, if he is favoured by the gods, someone he genuinely respects – his wife Laura – will do for Bush what Nancy Reagan did for her husband President Ronald Reagan when his presidency was in similar crisis: Namely, advise him to get rid of the ring leader of this White House cabal – Vice President Dick Cheney – who, after all, will be an un-indicted co-conspirator if Libby is indicted. The country deserves this act of enlightened courage and his legacy demands it.

    And, just imagine how fortuitously things could fall into place after that: He could appoint Condoleezza Rice as his VP – positioning her to win the Republican nomination for president in 2008 by acclamation; He could appoint a female John Roberts as his substitute nominee to the Supreme Court (but one predisposed to overturn abortion rights as payment to his right wing for firing their godfather Cheney); and he could hire a new political architect (if Rove is indicted or remains unrepentant) to help him reclaim the political centre at home (as he did on Education and had even liberal Sen. Ted Kennedy singing his praises) and chart a more pragmatic and sensible course abroad (as he did when he emulated his Daddy by amassing a true coalition to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    All quite simple really; stay tuned

    ***UPDATE: Like everyone else in Washington, I just watched special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s press conference on his indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby. I was especially struck by the righteous indignation he projected when he explained why the crimes he alleges against Libby are so serious, and why he has no regret about incarcerating reporter Judith Miller for failing to reveal Libby as the source of classified (top secret) information. And, in the disingenuously maligned tradition of “I told you so”, that is essentially how I characterised this political saga – perhaps with more sarcasm than self-righteousness – in this article on 7 July.

  • Friday, October 28, 2005 at 9:58 AM

    The Borking of Harriet Miers

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Harriet Miers has been borked!*

    Just weeks ago when President Bush thrust judicial virgin Harriet Miers into the political grinder as his nominee to the Supreme Court, he seemed cocksure that he had made the right decision. But yesterday, he withdrew her nomination amidst withering criticism from intellectual snobs and Christian fundamentalists (in his own Party) whose passion for judicial jihad and craving for the nuclear option Miers could not satisfy.

    Let the record show, however, that it was the President who suffered performance anxiety; not his ingenuous nominee who seemed perfectly willing to go all the way. Because the fact of the matter is that Bush simply could not get pumped-up to fight for the Miers nomination – with a critical mass of backbiting Republicans protesting about how Miers did not excite them intellectually and did not offer them adequate assurances that she would tow the Party line once confirmed to the Court (by joining other conservatives in overturning a woman’s right to an abortion, for example). And, his and Miers’ claim that the nomination was withdrawn to protect attorney (she) client (he) privilege over papers requested by the Senate Judiciary committee is patent rubbish.

    But just as President Clinton’s failure to support his nomination of Lani Guinier (to head the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department) remains a stain on his presidential legacy; Bush’s failure to support his nomination of Miers will become a stain on his legacy as well. Next up: Janice Rogers Brown or Pricilla Owen

    Note: In the Wag the Dog article I published on Tuesday (see below), I wrote that Bush was having an annus horribilis. Well, he may no longer be mired in this nomination mess but he’s still in judicial peril as criminal indictments against key aides are imminent.

    * The New York Times defines being “borked” as having a judicial nomination defeated by a concerted attack on the nominee’s character and background – having no regard for her fitness to serve.

  • Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 10:04 AM

    Iran declares Final Solution for peace in the Middle East

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The world seems shocked that Iran’s secular (and disarmingly genial) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is turning out be less of a religious fanatic – like Ayotollah Khomeini, but more of a genocidal fascist – like Adolf Hitler

    Anyone (like me) who harboured hopes that Iran’s first non-cleric leader would moderate the jihadist rhetoric of the country’s Islamic fundamentalists must be profoundly dismayed today. Because on the very day (yesterday) that another Muslim suicide bomber tried to take as many Jewish lives along with his own (he took 5), the professorial President Ahmadinejad was reported to have called for the state of Israel to “be wiped off the map.”

    And, just to be clear, this was not a private remark like the joke President Reagan made about nuking the Soviet Union (at a recording of a radio address in his office) when he thought his microphone was turned off . Instead, President Ahmadinejad made his declaration at a conference called, ominously enough, “The World without Zionism”, which was attended by some 3,000 conservative students (Ahmadinejad youth?) who chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America”.

    Nonetheless, I suspect some critics of American foreign policy will blame President Bush for provoking Ahmadinejad’s intemperate words (i.e., by declaring Iran a member of the axis of evil and vowing to prevent it’s leaders from acquiring nuclear weapons). But, like UK officials, I am merely sickened by them; because I fully appreciate the inspiration and state sanction these words provide for every suicide bomber and Islamic terrorist around the world.

    It is worth remembering, however, that Bush was not even Governor of Texas yet when Islamic jihadists began their holy war against America and western civilization in the early 1980s. But whatever their grievances against the U.S., does anyone think that Iran deserves to be respected in the community of nations when its leader is emulating Adolf Hitler in his attitude towards the Jews and seeking nuclear weapons to execute his final solution against them?

  • Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 9:47 AM

    USA TODAY caught doctoring photo to demonize Condi Rice

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    Normally, I eschew the Blogosphere rumour mill, which invariably makes a tempest in a teacup out of fringe issues for partisan sport. But when I saw this demonic image (above right) of Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice in the largest daily newspaper in America, I thought helping to expose the crass manipulation that manufactured it would be of public service.

    Perhaps you recall how TIME magazine doctored OJ Simpson’s image – as much to convey his loss of face in white America as to impute guilt for the murders of his ex-wife and her friend. What message, then, do you suppose USA TODAY is attempting to convey with this doctored photo of Dr Rice?

    See more racially / politically edited photos here.

    UPDATE: After being deluged with complaints, USA TODAY issued the following statement; but the damage was done:

    Editor’s note: The photo of Condoleezza Rice that originally accompanied this story was altered in a manner that did not meet USA TODAY’s editorial standards. The photo has been replaced by a properly adjusted copy. Photos published online are routinely cropped for size and adjusted for brightness and sharpness to optimize their appearance. In this case, after sharpening the photo for clarity, the editor brightened a portion of Rice’s face, giving her eyes an unnatural appearance. This resulted in a distortion of the original not in keeping with our editorial standards.

    Whatever!

    Endnote: Anyone who doubts the value of diversity in executive decision-making at major corporations should consider this: If USA TODAY had any self-respecting black person with editorial input on this Condi Rice story, that doctored photo would never have been published.

  • Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 11:02 AM

    Update: British MP George Galloway went to Washington…and committed perjury?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I, George Galloway MP, do solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…as it is known to me, a man of principles who does not concern himself with petty details like bank deposits. Now, what’s all this rubbish about me lying under oath…

    In this article published on 18 May, I marveled at how the congressional testimony of maverick British MP George Galloway left U.S. Senators dazed and confused. Galloway appeared before the senate’s committee on investigations to defend himself against charges (by UK and U.S. authorities) that he took bribes from Saddam Hussein to sway public opinion against the looming war in Iraq. And even though Galloway was ultimately unsuccessful, Saddam got pretty good value for his money – assuming the allegations against Galloway are true. (Because U.S. Senators were confounded even more by his unqualified denials [that he took bribes] than they were by Galloway’s dazzling rhetorical flourishes [during which he called them murderers and money-grubbing hypocrites].)

    But yesterday, the Senators seemed fully recovered, and their lead inquisitor Sen. Norm Coleman made quite a spectacle of his own in declaring that Galloway lied. And, though no match for Galloway rhetorically, Coleman was nonetheless quite persuasive when he announced that:

    We have what we call the smoking gun.”

    Coleman then disclosed bank receipts showing a series of deposits from one of Saddam Hussein’s moneymen into an account named for Galloway’s wife and another named for one of his “anti-war charities” – amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Clearly, this constitutes prima facie evidence that his fellow Englishman Christopher Hitchens was right in suggesting that the “unmitigated Galloway” is a fascist pimp and Saddamite whore.

    Fighting words indeed; and, we look forward to Galloway’s return to Washington for round 2 of his congressional sparring match with U.S. Senators.

    Stay tuned folks…

  • Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 10:27 AM

    Update: The 419 Nigerian scams

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    “There’s a sucker born every minute.” [P.T. Barnum (allegedly)]

    Just over 6 weeks ago, I published this article on the infamous 419 Nigerian scams. I did so because a number of friends and colleagues were enquiring about email business solicitations that – although tempting – just seemed too good to be true (as was always the case). And I hoped the article would help increase public awareness of these trademark scams that have made suckers of so many people around the world.

    Nigeria’s computer whiz–kids surfing the Internet for “business” opportunities. (Note the 419 warning which, evidently, is as much a deterrent to them as speed limit signs are to highway motorists.)

    Well, the Los Angeles Times has surpassed my public spiritedness. Because last week this paper published an investigative report on 419 scammers from inside their dens of cyber iniquity. And, not surprisingly, the report reveals that these thieves are not only clever but also exceedingly proud of their ability to get maghas (i.e., gullible white people – invariably American) to part with their money.

    Click here to read this insightful and instructive report. It’s truly sad. Because the folly of their misguided pride is only compounded by the realization that whilst these geniuses in Nigeria are busy designing new computer schemes to steal from Americans, their counterparts in India are busy designing new computer programmes to do business with Americans.

  • Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at 10:54 AM

    Rosa Parks is dead!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    Rosa Parks, matriarch of the Black American Civil Rights Movement, died last night at 92. And, if you don’t know who she was and why she is destined to become as iconic a figure in American history as Martin Luther King, Jr., then shame on you!

    After all, notwithstanding the efforts of M L King and other purported black leaders, Rosa Parks’ simple act of civil disobedience (i.e., refusing to give up her bus seat for a white man) was the tipping point in the advancement of civil rights in America. And, she should inspire us all to appreciate how ordinary personal courage can lead to extraordinary public legacies.

    God bless you Mrs Parks!

    No obituary can do her justice, but read here for a little edification about this woman who symbolized so much not only for Americans but also for people struggling for their civil rights all over the world…

  • Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at 10:31 AM

    Wag the Dog? Bush and new best pal Jacque Chirac target Syria

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    With the quagmire in Iraq, the debacle of his Harriet Miers nomination and the looming indictment of the man he calls his political “architect” – Karl Rove, President Bush is clearly having an annus horribilis. And, just as the second terms of his recent predecessors were plagued by scandals (Reagan – Iran Contra; Clinton – Monica Lewinsky), he seems fated to an embarrassment of troubles to continue this phenomenon of the second term jinx.

    But, ironically, another equally curious phenomenon might enable Bush to redeem (or at least salvage) his presidency: Remember Wag the Dog (the movie in which a character based on President Bill Clinton stages a war abroad to divert attention from his sex scandal at home)? Well, I have no doubt that Rove does; and, he can thank America’s erstwhile nemeses – the United Nations and French President Jacque Chirac – for providing this Clausewitzian opportunity to help him save Bush’s political hide, if not his own (from assault in prison).

    Here’s how this can (and probably will) work:

    Earlier this year, 15 February, I posted this article detailing America’s saber rattling against Syria. Back then, Bush cited a variety of grievances to justify his hostilities, but even his die-hard ally British PM Tony Blair showed little sympathy. Moreover, because he was still being bashed by Chirac and his coalition of those who were unwilling to invade Iraq, Bush was in no position to do anything except huff and puff at Syria.

    However, that all changed last week when the United Nations published the report – notably by a German independent prosecutor, Detlev Mehlis – of an inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. And, as Bush could have told them, Giles and his investigators found that Syrian officials (including President Bashar al-Assad’s own brother and brother-in-law) were directly involved.

    Therefore, it does not bode well for Syria that the UN Security Council is scheduled to meet today in a special session. And, the only item on its agenda is the examination of Syrian fingerprints all over the planning and execution of the mafia-style hit on Hariri.

    Bush and Chirac are undergoing a metamorphosis into a formidable 2-headed political hydra to “bring Syria to justice”

    The French reaction to this UN report, however, was as surprising to many as the American reaction was predictable. After all, despite the congenital obstructionism being proffered by his UN Ambassador, reliable sources confirm that Chirac seems just as determined to lead a coalition of the willing to get the Syrians as Bush was to get Saddam. And, where Chirac may not advocate invading Syria, he seems cocksure about regime change – “by any means necessary.”

    Of course, at this point, Bush would welcome any leadership role he can play abroad that diverts attention from his woes at home. And, this wag-the-dog opportunity could not be more fortuitous. Far more intriguing in this regard, however, is Chirac’s motivation. Because where Bush might be wiggling in political quicksand (for the reasons mentioned above), Chirac is feeling that sinking feeling as well because of the arrest of one (and looming indictments of more) of his close aides over the oil-for-food scandal. Indeed, as this scandal continues to unfold, Chirac may actually be more eager than Bush to wag the dog. Because it’s becoming quite clear (and may ultimately be proven) that it was Saddam’s money, not international law, that inspired Chirac’s spirited opposition to Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad knows full-well that his long neck is on the line for Hariri’s assassination (notwithstanding denials of personal involvement) and for undermining America’s efforts in Iraq

    Nonetheless, what makes Syria an especially worthy scapegoat is the damning dossier the Americans have compiled on the Syrians: implicating them in harbouring Iraqi war criminals; conspiring with Hezbollah and Iran (as a mini axis of evil) to undermine the state of Israel; and, aiding and abetting the Sunni insurgency that is killing so many American soldiers in neighbouring Iraq.

    But if ever there were a symbiotic relationship or strange bedfellows in international politics, this alliance between Bush and Chirac qualifies without parallel. And, the first synergistic step in their march of folly to do in Syria what Bush and Blair did in Iraq will be to ram a resolution through the United Nations calling for crippling sanctions against the Bashar al-Assad regime. (Notwithstanding the Saddam paradigm which shows, definitively, that the only people crippled by economic sanctions are the poor in target countries.)

    Note to Bashar: Start building your rat hole now. And make sure it’s more hidden and better stocked than the one where the American’s found Saddam leading his army in the mother of all battles with a toy gun and a can of tuna….

    Endnote to VP Dick Cheney: Your loyal aide “Scooter” Libby seems poised to rat you out. And, you may soon find that you’re the big fish special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been angling for, not Karl Rove. I suggest you retain a really good lawyer Mr Cheney….

  • Monday, October 24, 2005 at 10:13 AM

    Wilma: Hasta la vista Mexico; Good morning America…and Bahamas!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Images of Wilma’s destruction in Mexico:

    Images of hurricane destruction are becoming as commonplace in the Americas as images of bomb explosions in Iraq. Indeed, these pictures show that Hurricane Wilma did to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico (including Cancun) much of what Hurricane Katrina did to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana (including New Orleans).

    However, these pictures also show that Mexicans battered by Wilma reacted just as (black) Americans battered by Katrina did. But for those who might wonder foolishly: Do only blacks and Mexicans loot under these tragic circumstances?

    The answer is: hardly! It’s simply convenient for some people to forget how whites rummaged and pillaged in Florida after Hurricanes Andrew, Frances and Jeanne.

    (Remember the widespread looting that occurred in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein (including the theft of cultural treasures from the Iraqi National Museum? People in desperate circumstances do desperate (and often stupid) things….)

    At any rate, just hours ago, Wilma made landfall in America around Marco Island Florida, with howling CAT 3 winds (125mph), storm surges of 17 feet and rain, rain, rain.

    Good luck!

    **UPDATE: Images of Wlima’s destruction in The Bahamas:




    According to news reports, Wilma destroyed over 100 homes, left thousands homeless and tens of thousands without electricity. Indeed, after surveying the areas devastated by this hurricane, Bahamian Prime Minister Hon. Perry Christie expressed his shock and bereavement as follows:

    “I cannot describe adequately what we have seen….I saw scenes that I imagined when I saw the reports of the tsunami in the Far East. I saw scenes reminiscent of what we saw in Louisiana and Mississippi….I saw entire communities with houses having disappeared…we knew that God must have been present because this could have happened at night when people were asleep and if it had happened at night, God knows the price we would have paid.”

    Indeed!

  • Monday, October 24, 2005 at 10:08 AM

    Tropical storm Alpha makes a most unwelcome visit through the tropics

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Here are a few images from this relatively ignored but no less destructive storm still raging through the Caribbean; thus far, leaving 5 dead in Haiti:

    Hurricane Alpha making landfall on the island of the Hispaniola (comprised of Haiti and the Dominican Republic) early yesterday

    Haitians holding on for dear life on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti yesterday

    Haitians who escaped the floods could find no shelter from the storm

    Dominican children being sheltered from the storm in San juan de la Maguana just outside Santo Domingo

    Haitian children scavenging for food amid the debris that Alpha left in her path

    Alpha’s path of destruction, which explains America’s (and the world’s) lack of interest in its potential (and actual) impact

    UPDATE: Images of the flooding sustained by my people in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI):

    TCI residents rowing boats instead of walking through their neighbourhoods

    TCI cars floating instead of riding on island roads

    Note: Haiti is a “chronic humanitarian crisis” and it clearly has no infrastructure to collect and disperse humanitarian aid. Therefore, I recommended sending donations to help Haitians and others affected by Alpha through the International Committee of the Red Cross. (And, please specify Haitian, Dominican Republic or Turks and Caicos Islands emergency relief).

    Endnote: Notwithstanding flooding in residential areas, resort areas of the Turks and Caicos Islands were unaffected by Alpha and remain open for business. And, no one is more thankful than the locals (rowing through flood waters to get to their homes) who depend on tourism for their livelihoods. So, book your TCI vacations and come on down!

    UPDATE: As of 27 October, Alpha was reported to have killed 26 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

  • Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 12:13 PM

    China flies over the moon

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    With the U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) now grounded indefinitely, the Chinese Space Programme’s completion of its second space flight last week positions China to lead the world in the colonization of space.

    And a good thing too; because, wouldn’t we all prefer Chinese food than McDonald’s in space?

  • Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 11:24 AM

    Alas, defendant Saddam has too many skeletons to hide in his closet…GUILTY!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Friday, October 21, 2005 at 10:36 AM

    Update: Condi vs Hillary…for President? Oh Boy!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    A measure of the partisan antipathy towards Hillary Clinton is the fact that a bombastic anti-Hillary book – by disaffected Bill Clinton political Svengali Dick Morris – is selling like the second printing of a Harry Potter novel. The book Condi vs Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race offers reliable (if not intimate) insights into the political machinations of (and gossip about) Hillary and her Machiavellian prince of a husband Bill Clinton.

    It is an open secret in political circles that the Clintons are planning to consummate their 33-year political marriage by getting her elected president of the United States. But, given that he was the third wheel in their courtship for over 25 years, Morris’ indignation at the Clintons’ marital ambitions smacks of rank hypocrisy. Moreover, he undermines his clever political analyses by positing the absurd notion that electing Hillary would portend the end of the American republic; And, that the only way to prevent this apotheosis of the anti-Christ is by drafting Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice to challenge Hillary in 2008.

    Admittedly, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political ambitions seem every bit as immoral and insatiable as Bill Clinton’s sexual pursuits. Indeed, she exudes an aura of entitlement when it comes to elective office.

    But, despite his almost blinding animus towards (and jealousy of) her, Morris has found the Achilles heel that allows him to rain on Hillary’s parade to the White House. And, ironically, his reason for gloating in this respect stems from the one political constituency that the Clintons have always taken for granted: the black vote.

    According to Morris, a number of prominent black Americans – including former Clinton Cabinet Secretary Mike Espy – confided that at least 50% of blacks will vote for Condi – “with their hearts, not their heads.” And, I have no doubt that this is true. In fact, I wrote as much in this article (over 6 months ago), which Morris might have found quite helpful in rushing his book to press. (No, I shan’t be claiming any royalties.)

    But in my draft Condi article, I presented her as a dream candidate; not as a desperate foil against a diabolical Hillary. And even though she insists that, unlike Hillary, she harbours no presidential ambition, I suspect Condi is acutely aware that her Shermanesque denials only make her a more desirable prospect.

    Moreover, given the spectre of criminal indictments (from the CIA leak investigation) hovering over V.P. Cheney and his cabal of neo-con cohorts, there’s growing speculation that President Bush might render her protestations moot by replacing Cheney with Condi as his Vice President in due course. This, of course, would be an offer Condi could not refuse; and, it would certainly guarantee her an easy ride to the Republican nomination.

    However, some pundits speculate that since his nomination of Harriet Miers has angered so many of his ardent (Christian fundamentalist) supporters, Bush’s appointment of Rice as VP might, in fact, be the kiss of death. But when push comes to shove, I think the visceral hatred these members of the vast right-wing have for Hillary will fuel their support for Condi in 2008 (despite her race, incidentally).

    Note: It’s worth bearing in mind that if 50% of blacks cross Party lines to vote for Condi, that could impact the final vote by 5 to 10%. And, given the 2004 presidential election results (George Bush 50.7% to John Kerry’s 48.3%), this modest shift could prove decisive in Condi’s favour.

  • Thursday, October 20, 2005 at 10:14 AM

    U.S. declares zero tolerance immigration policy…yeah right!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made the following declaration:

    “Our goal at DHS [Department Homeland Security] is to completely eliminate the ‘catch and release’ enforcement problem, and return every single illegal entrant, no exceptions.”

    This “BREAKING NEWS” was evidently intended to calm Americans who have been unnerved by a series of false terror alerts in recent weeks. But Secretary Chertoff’s declaration only reinforces cynicism amongst those of us who regard America’s war on terror as a big joke. And, it did not take long for our cynicism to be vindicated, once again,. Because less than 24 hours after declaring this “no exceptions” policy, Chertoff’s own department announced that “undocumented workers will be welcomed” to help meet the (cheap) labour demands for rebuilding New Orleans and other Gulf Coast areas destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. (Only in America folks!)

    Nevertheless, anyone remotely familiar with U.S. immigration policy would have summarily dismissed Chertoff’s declaration as patently disingenuous. Because so many undocumented people enter America daily (across its Northern and Southern borders) that the “catch” part of this new zero tolerance policy can refer to no more than a fraction of the illegal entrants Chertoff purports to target.

    Moreover, I suspect that citizens in almost any city in the U.S. would direct Homeland Security officers to havens of illegal immigrants in their midst (not all of them Mexicans incidentally), if they thought the government had a fair and enforceable immigration policy. For example, most Americans chafe at this policy that admits Cubans (just to spite Fidel Castro) but rejects Haitians (even though Haitians have had, in some years, a far more credible fear of persecution at home). In addition, they find unconscionable the scapegoating of Hispanics who cross the Mexican boarder (to do menial work) whilst Europeans who cross the Canadian border enter the country scot (and stigma) free.

    Therefore, Chertoff should spare us such fatuous immigration pronouncements and spend more time coordinating his FEMA soldiers to ensure that emergency aid is available to help Floridians deal with Hurricane Wilma in ways that it was unavailable to help New Orleaneans deal with Hurricane Katrina.

    Speaking of hurricanes…

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