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Saturday, March 27, 2004

"They came back and won!" 

That is what people around these parts are saying, in one form or another, today. "They" is the University of Maine hockey team, and their comeback in last night's first round NCAA tournament game was one for the record books. It's still hard to comprehend what we witnessed on television last night, but I will step aside here to let the Albany Times-Union tell the story:

ALBANY -- Maybe the pollsters were right this week when they made Maine the unanimous choice as the top-ranked college hockey team in the country (incorrect - they got 21 of 40 votes) because not many teams could have done what the Black Bears did Friday night.

Appearing hopelessly beaten almost four minutes into the third period, Maine pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in the history of NCAA hockey with four third-period goals in a 5-4 victory over a stunned Harvard University in the first game of the NCAA East Regional at Pepsi Arena.

The comeback from a three-goal deficit equaled the largest game reversal in NCAA history and saved the Region's top-seeded team from being upset by the 14th seed in the NCAA field.
Like all such stories, this one has an unsung hero who stepped up when his team was against the ropes and needed a spark.

ALBANY, N.Y. - He's not a team captain. He's not a senior leader. He doesn't score a lot of goals.

John Ronan is a grunt on this University of Maine hockey team. A ditch digger. A forward on the fourth line. The junior from South Boston who doesn't mind breaking his back doing the heavy lifting and doesn't care if it goes unnoticed.

Friday night, John Ronan cared. His team was down, 4-1. His team was 20 minutes away from the end of its season. And John Ronan had something to say.
Whatever he said, it lit a fire under the team's collective posterior after two lackluster periods in which they were outmatched and always a step or two behind. Then they came back and won.

There is a sense of disbelief in Maine today, but there's no time to celebrate the improbable victory. Wisconsin, a 1-0 overtime winner over Ohio State, is up next, tonight. Maine won an earlier meeting 6-2, but after last night, it's hard to predict how this game will go.

UPDATE: Not a blowout, but a win all the same, and Maine moves on to the Frozen Four in Boston.
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Thursday, March 25, 2004

The jobs, apparently, are out there 

Is it just me, or does this article suggest a large disconnect between the rhetoric of job creation and the economic reality?

An emergency bipartisan bill is expected to be introduced in Congress this week to temporarily lift a federal cap on the number of foreign workers U.S. businesses can recruit for the summer tourism season, officials said Wednesday.Maine and other Northeastern tourism officials fear an economic disaster if seasonal businesses can't import foreign workers in time for the Memorial Day start of the season...

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine will join a bipartisan group headed by Democratic U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts - home to the tourism mecca of Cape Cod - to sponsor the legislation.

The Kennedy-Collins bill would allow U.S. businesses to hire an additional 40,000 summer workers under the federal H-2B visa program, Collins said in a prepared statement late Tuesday.
"Emergency?" An "economic disaster" if we can't import enough foreign workers? Huh? I thought we had millions of Americans who wanted jobs. Well, here you go folks... Jobs for the taking. But we can't get some of those millions of Americans to fill these jobs, so we have to bring in foreigners?

What's wrong with this picture?
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Bad news for France 

Rwandan President Paul Kagame plans to form a commission to investigate foreign involvement in his country's 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 people were killed in just 100 days.

France has long been accused of aiding the Hutu Power genocidaires in carrying out the killings.

France - which was former President Habyarimana's main backer - has denied the allegations, saying it sent troops to intervene and even saved many Rwandans.
I will let Philip Gourevitch, the author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Familes do the talking here, to explain what a load of crap that is:

On the nights of June 16 and 18, arms shipments for the Hutu Power regime were landed, with French connivance, in the eastern Zairean city of Goma and shuttled over the border to Rwanda. But on June 22, the Security Council--eager to be relieved of its shame, and apparently blind to the extra shame it was bringing upon itself--endorsed the "impartial" French deployment, giving it a two-month mandate with the permission to use aggressive force that had systematically been denied to UNAMIR [The UN monitoring mission].

The next day, the first French troops of "Opération Turquoise" rolled from Goma into northwestern Rwanda, where they were welcomed by enthralled bands of interahamwe [roving bands of mass murderers]--singing, waving French tricolor flags, and carrying signs with slogans like "Welcome French Hutus"--while a disc jockey at RTLM advised Hutu women to gussy themselves up for the white men, taunting, "Now that the Tutsi girls are all dead, it's your chance..."

France's own ex-President, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, accused the French command of "protecting some of those who had carried out the massacres..."

Opération Turquoise was eventually credited with rescuing at least ten thousand Tutsis in western Rwanda, but thousands more continued to be killed in the French-occupied zone. Hutu Power brigades draped their vehicles with French flags to lure Tutsis from hiding to their deaths; and even when real French troops found survivors, they often told them to wait for transport, then went away and returned to find that those they had "saved" were corpses. From the moment they arrived, and wherever they went, the French forces supported and preserved the same local political leaders who had presided over the genocide...

Even among the French troops who served in Opération Turquoise, some souls became troubled. "We have been deceived," Sergeant Major Thierry Prungnaud told a reporter at a collection site for emaciated and machete-scarred Tutsi survivors in early July of 1994. "This is not what we were led to believe. We were told that Tutsis were killing Hutus. We thought the Hutus were the good guys and the victims." But individual discomfort aside, the signal achievement of the Opération Turquoise was to permit the slaughter of Tutsis to continue for an extra month, and to secure safe passage for the genocidal command to cross, with a lot of its weaponry, into Zaire.
France has a lot to answer for, and a Rwandan commission to investigate France's involvement will be a great start. Beyond that, France is long overdue in looking inward and coming to terms with its role in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of human beings. It's unlikely to happen, however, as France's main concern in Africa seems to be whether or not the French language is spoken there. During the genocide, they supported and armed the francophone Hutu Power killers against the anglophone Tutsi rebels of the RPF, who were fighting to end the massacre of their people.
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More Bush unilateralism 

US Presents UN Draft to Keep Arms from Terrorists

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States introduced a U.N. resolution on Wednesday that would oblige nations to stop the flow of weapons of mass destruction to terrorists and others smuggling illicit arms.

The Security Council draft, prompted by President Bush's speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September, is aimed at closing loopholes in nonproliferation treaties that target only the actions of nations and not "non-state actors."
This is more of a feel-good resolution than one that will result in real world changes, since it doesn't spell out any penalty for noncompliance.

In any case, the International Atomic Energy Agency will have uncovered the entire global nuclear smuggling operation by June, so the resolution is moot, I guess.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

BREAKING NEWS 

Hamas Plans to Attack Israel, Sharon

I had no idea that Hamas planned those kinds of things.
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Snow-capped mountains 

As an interlude from the usual news, here's a glimpse of how I spent today's bright and sunny afternoon--poking around the wilderness (well, logging roads) around beautiful Mount Katahdin and taking some pictures. Enjoy!
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Bomb found in France 

A rail worker in France found a bomb on a major railway near the city of Troyes today.

A suspected bomb has been found on a French railway line linking Paris to Basel, in Switzerland, police say.

A bomb disposal squad has made the device safe, the French Interior ministry has announced.

The French national rail company SNCF says the object was found during an inspection of the line.
It's only a matter of time before more bombs start going off in Europe. They're just as much the enemy of Islamist terrorists as the United States is, whether they realize it or not, regardless of what they have or have not done in Iraq or elsewhere.

If anything, Europe is a softer target for terrorists than America now, because they have not made many of the changes in security systems that we have. Ironically, their refusal to take the war on terrorism seriously might make them more likely to experience it at home.

And when the next bomb goes off, whether in a coalition country like Poland or Italy, or in one of the anti-war countries like France or Germany, it will inevitably be blamed on Bush. Count on it.

Or... maybe we'll get lucky, and Europe will finally understand that they're part of this war too. Not because they sent troops to Iraq or because of any other foreign policy action, not because Bush provoked Muslim rage, but because they are the infidel West. It is my wish that it will not take another mass murder to drive the point home, but I'm not hopeful.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Tax breaks and jobs 

I keep seeing an anti-Bush ad on television, and I can't remember who paid for it, but it just bugs the heck out of me. It says something to the effect of "Bush gave tax breaks to corporations that send jobs overseas." I'm paraphrasing.

But come on. The logical upshot of the ad is that taxes should be raised. Sure, and then corporations will have even less of a reason to stay here.

Don't these people think?
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Escaped gorilla was taunted 

12/3/04 UPDATE: Buddy Musso is bringing a lot of traffic my way in the last few days. If you arrived here from a Google search, I would really appreciate it if you could tell me if there's some kind of news I'm missing. Thanks.

Original Post:

Things like this just piss me off.

DALLAS - A zoo visitor saw two teen-age boys throwing rocks or ice at Jabari the gorilla shortly before he escaped from his exhibit Thursday and attacked three people at the Dallas Zoo, officials said Monday.

Mammal curator Ken Kaemmerer said the man told zoo officials that he warned the teens not to taunt the gorilla and was walking away from the exhibit when he heard someone yelling that the animal had escaped.
Three people were hurt and a gorilla was killed because a couple of punks didn't have the decency to respect a captive animal. What the hell would prompt two human beings to throw things at a caged gorilla? It's a shame that Jabari didn't attack them instead. If they get caught, it'll be an equal shame that their punishment won't involve being locked in an enclosure and stoned.

Few things upset me more than defenseless victims being abused, especially when the victims have no comprehension of what is happening. One case in particular really bothered me a few years ago, and the victim's name, Buddy Musso, has stuck with me ever since. I figured that few people will remember him, so I decided that, although I only read about his story on the net, I wouldn't forget his name.

A mentally disabled man was beaten to death by six people for breaking a Mickey Mouse ornament, police said Friday.

The three men and three women were charged with capital murder Thursday in the attack on 59-year-old Louis ''Buddy'' Musso, whose body was found in a ditch. He had been kicked, punched and beaten with a bat and belts, police said.

Authorities said the defendants had beaten Musso routinely in recent months. The attack that killed him came Tuesday after he broke the Mickey Mouse ornament, Assistant Police Chief R.C. Pruett said. Police had no details on the ornament and how it was broken.

A family member said Musso had the mental capacity of a 7- or 8-year-old.
The utter pettiness of the reason he was killed disturbed me. I mean, this man was beaten to death over a damned Mickey Mouse ornament. Plus, I can't help but imagine Buddy Musso curled up in a ball, whimpering and screaming while enduring a savage beating, and until the end having no understanding of what was happening or why.

While the abuse those two kids gave Jabari the gorilla was less severe than a deadly beating, I imagine he was confused, hurt, and scared, and he did the only thing he could to stop it--the only thing a gorilla knows when faced with danger. I can't blame him for what happened. The responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the cretins who threw things at him.
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Long overdue 

Efforts that began during the Clinton administration are finally paying off, as 106 nations have formed a Community of Democracies at the United Nations.

By the time the Community of Democracies becomes strong enough to act coherently inside the U.N., it will also be strong enough to act coherently outside the U.N. It will contain most of the world's countries, including most of the strong ones. It will be unencumbered by the vetoes of tin-pot tyrannies. As it gains confidence and skill, it will attract money and authority. It may sprout an aid budget, a relief program, a peacekeeping arm, perhaps treaty powers.
And it will be a nice counterweight to the moral equivalency given to all nations, democracies and totalitarian dictatorships alike, at the U.N.

Today it is absurd for Burma to vote as the moral and legal equivalent of Belgium; more absurd for Cuba and Zimbabwe to be members in good standing of the U.N. Human Rights Commission; and more absurd still for Libya to chair that commission, as it did last year.
Not to mention Iran and Iraq taking turns as chair of the disarmament commission. If the democracies gain enough clout, then maybe that kind of moral equivalency hogwash will stop.
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Next! 

New Hamas leader announced

Hamas today named its new leader in Gaza City and the West Bank as Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a veteran militant dedicated to the destruction of the Israeli state.
Yeah, that's so much worse than Yassin. Various sources have described Rantisi as more extreme than Yassin. Or as the AP puts it, "a hard-liner who rejects all compromise with Israel." Duh, he's a member of Hamas. As commenter Stan LS asks at Tacitus, "More extreme? Meaning? He wants to destroy Israel not once, but twice?"

I'm sure he'll try, if he lives long enough.
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Record gasoline prices 

AAA says that the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is at an all-time high.

The average price for regular gasoline at the nation's pumps was $1.738 per gallon, up less than a cent from the previous record hit last September, according to the motorist group's survey of more than 60,000 stations.
It's true that in money terms, gas prices are at a record high. In real terms, however, we've got a long way to go before we even approach record territory. Prices would have to increase by almost a full dollar per gallon in order to match the constant-dollar high of $2.75 (2002 dollars) set in 1981. (UPDATE: Make that $2.94 in current dollars, per an addition to the article above.) Since 2003 saw record-low inflation, 2002 dollars are close enough to current dollars that the comparison holds.

We're a whole dollar below the record high gas price in real terms, but how many Americans bother to think about prices that way? How many of them realize that gas prices have been trending downward for fifty years? Very few. It's much easier to read a headline about "all-time high" prices and get outraged than it is to actually think a little.
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Monday, March 22, 2004

As you wish 

"They have tried to kill Sheikh Ahmed Yassin before... I would like to say to them: We do not fear death threats. We are seekers of martyrdom."

-Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, 16 January

Oh, and in case anyone is worried about the opening of the "gates of hell," fear not. We've heard that before.

In the past, Hamas dedicated itself to slaughtering Jews and destroying the state of Israel. Now that the spiritual leader of Hamas is dead, will they be more dedicated to slaughtering Jews and destroying the state of Israel? From the Israeli point of view, what difference does it make, other than adding one name to the "silenced racist hatemongers" list?

UPDATE: I said this 20 days ago, and I guess it's a moot point now... "As much as Likud dislikes Arafat, they hardly want Ahmed Yassin to replace him."
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Protests 

Smash got a very revealing inside look at the anti-war protest in San Diego this weekend. Start with this post and just scroll down.
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