Friday, August 06, 2004

Is the AP staging photos again? 

The Bangor Daily News ran this picture above the fold on the front page today.

The caption says, "One of al-Sadr's men fights with U.S. troops in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Sadr City, Iraq (news - web sites) Thursday Aug. 5, 2004. Insurgents loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fought fierce clashes Thursday with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the holy city of Najaf that quickly spread to other Shiite areas."

The image is of a man kneeling with an RPG launcher. Behind him is a man standing next to a car, and behind that man, a small crowd of unidentifiable people mills about.

Behind a man who is fighting U.S. troops. Which means, if he really is fighting U.S. troops, that he's drawing fire from them.

I'll not dwell on the concept of not making yourself a sitting duck by kneeling way out in the open, away from any cover. If this guy IS fighting anybody, he's got about five seconds left to live, max, in this picture.

My main point is that if this guy is fighting U.S. troops, then they are fighting back. And if they are fighting back, then that small crowd of people is doing anything other than standing around behind him.

Is the AP staging pictures? I'll let you decide that for yourself. But I have my suspicions.

It wouldn't be the first time that photos have been staged or manipulated. Or faked, for that matter.
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Thursday, August 05, 2004

When in doubt, blame America 

An intern at my local newspaper lays the blame for the Sudan crisis squarely at the feet of the United States. No, really. Start reading at the third paragraph... something do with the pharmaceutical plant attack six years ago. No, really. I'm not making this up.

Oh, and he cites "the incomparable Noam Chomsky" as an authoritative source. It would be an entertaining column if not for the severely twisted views of the author.
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Daydream believer (part 2) 

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - The U.N. special envoy to Sudan on Thursday said he and Sudan's foreign minister had agreed a plan to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and avert sanctions threatened by the U.N. Security Council.

Jan Pronk, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative, told reporters: "The government of Sudan has to be commended for keeping its promise (on action in Darfur)."
Phew. Problem solved. The UN envoy has an agreement with the bad guys that says they'll stop being bad.

At least Pronk isn't waving it in the air.
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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Daydream believer 

"I think the Resolution is very clear that if they do not perform there will be consequences. I think the Government of Sudan has got the message loud and clear. And you can tell by their reaction."

-- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, August 3rd.

Is this the reaction he's talking about?

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- More than 100,000 people marched through Sudan's capital Wednesday in a state-orchestrated rally opposing a U.N. Security Council deadline for the government to disarm Arab militias blamed for killing thousands of people in western Darfur province.

Demonstrators also presented a memorandum to the U.N. envoy in Sudan demanding that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan apologize for "misleading" people on the nature of the situation in Darfur, which the world body has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
It gets worse. Annan's own representative Francis Deng stated, on the same day as Annan's remarks:

"Contrary to official statements about improvement of the security situation and the voluntary return of the displaced, I found a situation of persistent insecurity and human rights violations as the paramount concern of the displaced."
I think Kofi Annan has dedicated his life to not offending anyone. No matter how evil they are, we wouldn't want them to get upset!
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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Darfur roundup 

Sudan: The Passion of the Present has an excellent roundup of today's news.

I was going to do something similar today, but then I saw their roundup. They included every single link I was going to mention, and then some. Click on the link and find out:

- The latest about the situation from the UN
- Who is pressuring the US and UK to do more
- Who is already doing more, and
- How Sudan is still conducting business as usual

UPDATE: Every single link but one. Médecins Sans Frontières says that food aid to Sudan needs to double, or thousands of refugees will die.
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Monday, August 02, 2004

I give up 

Yesterday I assumed (er, predicted) that the new terror warning would have a detrimental effect on the markets today.

Well, the Dow rose over 39 points today, and the newly threatened NASDAQ rose nearly 5 points. Citigroup, one of two companies specifically mentioned as a target, went up 6 cents. The only target whose numbers fell today was Prudential, by 46 cents.

It's official: I don't have the foggiest idea what drives the stock market.
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Shameful theft of donated funds 

A shipping company called Atlas Line has $30,000 that belongs to Operation Give. Chief Wiggles set it up to give donated toys to Iraqi children. Now Atlas Line is sitting on that money--money donated by good-hearted people who wanted to help children find a little joy in an uncertain time for their country.

Operation Give, needs help getting that money back. This has been an ongoing problem and they're all out of patience. In the linked post and in comments, Plunge (the poster) and others have posted contact info for Atlas Line, various media personalities, law enforcement agencies, etc... any way they could find to make noise. Lend a hand.
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Sunday, August 01, 2004

France's role in Rwanda 

I wrote a couple of posts mentioning France's role in the Rwandan genocide earlier, and out of the blue comes this:

Rwanda is to investigate France's alleged role in the mass killing of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

The Rwandan government said it was setting up an "independent commission charged with assembling the evidence of France's involvement in the genocide".
France held its own inquiry, which submitted its report in December 1998. (In French, and lengthy.) In a nutshell, the report concluded that France let things happen because nobody knew better.

A "citizens' inquiry" was a bit harsher. (Also in French.)
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Paranoia at Democratic Underground 

Yeah, I know. That's as surprising as a damp day in England. But I often wonder if these people stop to think for just one second.

Today, they are up in arms about the new terror alert. (Links do DU threads at the bottom of this post.) Specific targets mentioned in the alert are:

-The Citicorp building (actually Citigroup Center ever since the company's name changed) and the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.

-The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank buildings in Washington.

-The Prudential building in Newark.

The DU response ranges from a conviction that Bush is using a terror threat to distract attention from the Kerry-Edwards campaign (which is about to go silent for the month of August anyway, but what does that matter?) to the certainty that Bush is going to let a terrorist attack happen because that would somehow help him at the polls, to the idea that Bush will use the terror alert to cancel presidential debates.

You have to hand it to DU. There's nobody else in their league when it comes to irrational paranoia. Did they ever stop to think of the actual consequences of a terror threat to Citigroup, the NYSE, and Prudential? Whatever their imagined rationales for the terror warning, what will actually happen is that at tomorrow's opening bell, Citi stock will fall. Prudential stock will fall. Mostly likely every index will fall, since there is a general threat to the NYSE.

How, exactly, do falling stocks HELP Bush? Nobody at DU seems to have stopped to ponder that question. But come on... thinking that terrorist warnings help the administration is just absurd. Especially when they might hurt the financial and investment sectors. Nobody wants that, especially an incumbent for whom the economy is a liability with a fair number of voters.

DU threads about the terror alert as of this writing:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17
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Why I don't trust France in Sudan 

In a post below, I said that I don't entirely trust French intentions in Sudan.

In case you're not familiar with France's Operation Turquoise during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, here's Human Rights Watch on the subject:

In early April some French authorities considered using the soldiers of their evacuation force to back the Rwandan army against the RPF but decided not to do so. In mid-June they undertook Operation Turquoise purportedly to save lives but also to preserve “territory and legitimacy” for the interim government. French soldiers went to rescue Tutsi in southwestern Rwanda, to the general acclaim of press and public. Others who went to the northwest, ready to impede the RPF advance and to protect the interim government, were hailed by RTLM [the radio station that egged on and even coordinated the efforts of the genocidaires] but drew little foreign notice. Some French soldiers were slow to act to save Tutsi, as at Bisesero, apparently because they accepted the official Rwandan explanation that the Tutsi were RPF infiltrators. In the humanitarian zone which they established, French troops took some measures against the militia but they permitted genocidal officials to continue exercising their functions. Even after conceding a RPF victory, the French took no action against the genocidal authorities, permitting—and apparently in some cases assisting—them to flee the country.(Emphasis added.)
So that's why I don't always trust France's intentions when it intervenes somewhere.

Stories like this one don't ease my mind, either.

Addressing the conference, minister of industry, Dr Jalal Yusuf al-Duqayr , has commended the Sudanese-French cooperation. France is a pioneer in establishing economic partnerships with Sudan, he said.

France is working on upgrading railways, electricity and sugar industry in the White Nile. The minister said Sudan is keen to enhance ties with France in the various domains. The minister has appreciated performance of the French companies operating in Sudan, calling for extra French investments.
Finally, this BBC article requires no comment:

As was the case in Iraq, France also has significant oil interests in Sudan.

[Junior Foreign Minister] Mr Muselier also dismissed claims of "ethnic cleansing" or genocide in Darfur.

"I firmly believe it is a civil war and as they are little villages of 30, 40, 50, there is nothing easier than for a few armed horsemen to burn things down, to kill the men and drive out the women," he said.
There's nothing easier, and apparently that is okay with France.
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Sudan: The Passion of the Present 

I just added the outstanding Sudan: The Passion of the Present to my blogroll. It's a one-stop shopping source for Darfur information for those who want to know more.
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WaPo on Darfur intervention 

A Washington Post editorial today picks apart the arguments against intervention to help the victims of the Darfur genocide. Among the rationales for staying out are:

- The Westphalian concept of national sovereignty (a subject I plan to write about myself at some point in the future, as we no longer live in the 1648 world)

- A lack of impact to national interests (although 57% of Americans support intervention if the UN determines that genocide is taking place)

- The potential Muslim backlash (despite the victims being Muslim themselves)

The Post does a good job of undermining each of the arguments. Go read the editorial.
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