Nov. 9th, 2003

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Three explosions rocked a residential compound in the Saudi capital last night, causing numerous casualties in what the government said was a suicide car bombing.

Saudi officials said the attack occurred at the Muhaya compound, an area near Riyadh's diplomatic quarter that houses mostly Arab and Western foreigners, news services reported from Riyadh. Some officials suggested that it had been carried out by Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda.

Estimates of the number of dead and wounded varied late last night. Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language television network based in the Persian Gulf, said that four people had been killed and that 86 had been wounded.

Residents of the compound, meantime, said that 20 to 30 people had been killed, and that up to 60 had been wounded...



See, now you Wahhabists have gone too far. Prince Bandar's wife is totally cutting off your allowance.
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Pauline Hanson is sort of a distaff Pat Buchanan figure in Australia who has, of late, been in jail for fraud.


PAULINE Hanson appeared to have emerged from jail a more compassionate person, Labor's treasury spokesman Mark Latham said today.

Ms Hanson and her One Nation Party co-founder David Ettridge walked free from a Brisbane jail last week after their fraud convictions were quashed on appeal.

When she was sentenced to three years' jail, Mr Latham said Ms Hanson campaigned at this year's NSW election for tougher sentences and she had received one.

But today he said her jailing was unfortunate and she appeared to be more understanding now of those who were disadvantaged in the community.

"She sounds more compassionate, she seems to have a broader understanding about Aboriginal people, about the disadvantaged," Mr Latham told the Ten Network.



um.

So let's see - Ms. Hanson, whose rise to whatever power she and her party have managed has been marked by the most shameless sort of racebaiting, has found herself at the receiving end of the kind of criminal justice she campaigns for.

Now she she knows what it's like to be a systematically oppressed person.

Guessing not. Just guessing, but guessing not.
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On Thursday, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer told reporters that he and Schwarzenegger had discussed the accusations and Lockyer said he urged that the governor-elect to have an independent third party investigate them.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman criticized Lockyer, saying he had violated attorney-client privilege by revealing the contents of their private meeting and announced that Schwarzenegger had already decided to hire an independent firm to look into the allegations, fulfilling a campaign promise.

Stutzman said the governor-elect was "extremely disappointed" in the attorney general's actions.

But Rep. David Dreier, R-California, and a co-chair of Schwarzenegger's campaign and transition committee, said he would not characterize the situation between the newly elected governor and Lockyer as a "falling out."

"They're looking forward to a strong working relationship," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

A spokeswoman for Lockyer said Thursday there was no breach of attorney-client privilege in Lockyer's revelations.

"The attorney general was giving advice to a friend," said spokeswoman Hallye Jordan. "There is only one governor at a time. He (Schwarzenegger) has not been sworn into office."



From this passage, we learn that

a) the Attorney General of California is not Arnold Schwarzenegger's personal attorney

b) the Attorney General of California is not the California Governor's personal attorney

c) Governor-elect Schwarzenegger is not currently the Governor of California

d) Attorney General is not an appointed position

e) It's much more difficult to tell people what to do when you can't have them fired

f) Governor-elect Schwarzenegger might should have taken a quick civics class before taking executive control over the fifth largest economy in the world

g) Not enough information


As a result of Mr. Lockyer's technical lack of malfeasance, Governor-elect Schwarzenegger may not release the results of his privately-funded investigation of himself.

I hope he can trust himself not to talk.
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Sky-watchers in every continent but Australia reveled in the relative rarity of a total lunar eclipse Saturday night but as stargazers have noted for centuries, it was a matter of celestial perspective.

"From the moon, they're having a solar eclipse," said Dean Regas, an astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory Center.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon, Earth and sun are in alignment and the moon passes through the planet's shadow. In a solar eclipse, the Earth is in the moon's shadow.



Pauline Hanson noted that as a result of her experience, she knows just how the moon feels...

ahem.

It was way cool.

HM has rejected the dragon theory.

I never get to have any fun.
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...Ditto Iraq. Why have the U.S. forces never gotten the ovation they expected for liberating Iraq from Saddam's tyranny? In part, it is because many Iraqis feel humiliated that they didn't liberate themselves, and America's presence, even its aid, reminds them of that. Add the daily slights and miscommunications that come with any occupation, and even the best-intended liberators will wear out their welcome over time. I was with my Iraqi translator one day in Baghdad, trying to enter the office of the Governing Council. The American private security guard at the door ordered me to shut my mouth until I was told to speak. Then he told my translator to sit in the 130-degree heat while he escorted me - the American - inside to see if the Iraqi leader we were seeing was available. Both of us felt like punching that guard in the face.

"Iraq is full of angry men," Mustafa Alrawi, managing editor of Iraq Today, wrote in Beirut's Daily Star. "For example, in the area unfairly labeled as the `Sunni triangle,' the population was badly hurt by the decision to disband the army and the policy of de-Baathification. . . . Thousands of men, many of whom took pride in their rank and status, were left bewildered and confused. It must be remembered that the army . . . did not fight the U.S. invasion, effectively giving their stamp of approval to the plan to topple Saddam Hussein. They have wounded pride to restore. Entire tribes feel embarrassed that they supported the invasion, only to be left out in the cold by the coalition's myopic vision of how Iraq should be run."

Never, ever underestimate a people's pride, no matter how broken they might be. It is very easy for Iraqis to hate Saddam and resent America for overstaying. Tap into people's dignity and they will do anything for you. Ignore it, and they won't lift a finger. Which is why a Pakistani friend tells me that what the U.S. needs most in Iraq is a strategy of "dehumiliation and re-dignification."

The only way we'll foster a decent government in Iraq is if every day we turn a little more power over to Iraqis and create the economic conditions where Iraqis can be successful. The more we empower Iraqis, the less humiliated they will feel, the more time we will have to help them and the less they will need our help.



It's sort of like in Gentlemen's Agreement, where we learned that antisemitism is shocking and wrong when it's directed at christians.

On the one hand, Mr. Friedman's American private security guard (whose presence he hasn't had too much to say about in the past) was good and darn rude to him.

On the other hand, I wonder if Mr. Friedman has reached his current eminence without realizing that the current crop of "Iraqi leaders" need the New York Times far more than the New York Times needs the current crop of "Iraqi leaders"

Guess it wasn't worth the risk of demanding some air conditioning for his translator.

Some topics you might want to explore:

Would the iraqi people be more enthusiastic about us if we hadn't arranged to have all the patriots who were willing to put their lives on the line to free their country from Saddam Hussein killed with weapons supplied by Halliburton at the end of the last Gulf War, when we told them to rise up and then ran?

Could they possibly be a tad miffed that our de-Baathification is being carried out at the same time as we're arming former Baathists and sending them out on the street to tell their fellow iraqis what to do?
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...Even when FOIA requests were granted, key information about government contracts often was redacted, or blacked out. For example, the Pentagon provided the Center copies of seven contracts awarded to Science Applications International Corporation for work in Iraq. The total contract value was omitted, although some unit pricing - typically redacted under a rule that gives companies a right to oppose FOIA requests about their government contracts - was left in. That same rule was cited by one Pentagon FOIA officer as justification why the department was not releasing a Raytheon Aerospace contract worth more than $7 million. Raytheon Aerospace, along with its affiliated companies, was the 11th—ranked government contractor among companies with contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning $2.7 billion since 1990, according to the Center's analysis.

SAIC officials refused to discuss their contracts with the Center, directing all calls to the Pentagon press office, which did not answer Center queries. However, a congressional source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Center that one SAIC media contract in Iraq likely would be worth more than $50 million by the end of 2003. The total value of SAIC's contracts could not be determined.

Since February 2003, SAIC - the country's largest employee-owned research and engineering company - has been in charge of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council, a Pentagon-sanctioned group of Iraqis that is effectively functioning as the country's temporary government. The senior members of IRDC hold positions at each of 23 Iraqi ministries, where they work closely with U.S. and British officials, including L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. The Council's official task is to rebuild the structures of a government that are expected eventually to be handed over to the new Iraqi authority. Members of the IRDC are officially employed by SAIC, according to the contracts.

SAIC has also been hired to rebuild Iraq's mass media, including television stations, radio stations and newspapers. SAIC, which is not generally known for its media expertise, runs the "Voice of the New Iraq," the radio station established in April 2003 at Umm Qasr with U.S. government funds. (For more information see SAIC Reconstruction Contracts and company profile.)



Does that name, SAIC, sound familiar to you?

SAIC, or Science Applications International Corporation, were recently cleared by the state Ethics Commission of Maryland of conflict of interest for hiring a lobbyist who also works for Diebold, the maker of the voting machines they were supposed to be checking for security violations for the state.

They still have some things on the fire, though.


When the Pentagon wanted to assemble a team of Iraqi exiles to assist in restoring postwar Iraq, it gave the job to a company with a name not chosen for flashy marketing: Science Applications International Corp.

When Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. wanted experts to assess alleged security problems with electronic voting machines Maryland is buying, he, too, turned to SAIC.

The National Security Agency signed a contract with SAIC last year to overhaul its top-secret eavesdropping systems. The Army hired the company to support the delicate task of destroying old chemical weapons at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The National Cancer Institute relies on SAIC to help run its research facility in Frederick.

And this month, when the Transportation Security Administration decided it needed help disposing of all those nail clippers confiscated from air travelers, it gave the multimillion-dollar contract to SAIC.



but wait - there's more! (this appears to have been a source for the first report above)


Even when FOIA requests were granted, key information about government contracts often was redacted, or blacked out. For example, the Pentagon provided the Center copies of seven contracts awarded to Science Applications International Corporation for work in Iraq. The total contract value was omitted, although some unit pricingÑtypically redacted under a rule that gives companies a right to oppose FOIA requests about their government contractsÑwas left in. That same rule was cited by one Pentagon FOIA officer as justification why the department was not releasing a Raytheon Aerospace contract worth more than $7 million. Raytheon Aerospace, along with its affiliated companies, was the 11th—ranked government contractor among companies with contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning $2.7 billion since 1990, according to the Center's analysis.

SAIC officials refused to discuss their contracts with the Center, directing all calls to the Pentagon press office, which did not answer Center queries. However, a congressional source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Center that one SAIC media contract in Iraq likely would be worth more than $50 million by the end of 2003. The total value of SAIC's contracts could not be determined.

Since February 2003, SAICÑthe country's largest employee-owned research and engineering companyÑhas been in charge of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council, a Pentagon-sanctioned group of Iraqis that is effectively functioning as the country's temporary government. The senior members of IRDC hold positions at each of 23 Iraqi ministries, where they work closely with U.S. and British officials, including L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. The Council's official task is to rebuild the structures of a government that are expected eventually to be handed over to the new Iraqi authority. Members of the IRDC are officially employed by SAIC, according to the contracts.

SAIC has also been hired to rebuild Iraq's mass media, including television stations, radio stations and newspapers. SAIC, which is not generally known for its media expertise, runs the "Voice of the New Iraq," the radio station established in April 2003 at Umm Qasr with U.S. government funds. (For more information see SAIC Reconstruction Contracts and company profile.)

In many ways, SAIC is typical of the kinds of American contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among companies with contracts in the two countries, SAIC was the third-largest recipient of U.S. government contracts over the last 12 years; the company, its employees and PAC contributed $4.7 million to national political campaigns, the Center's investigation found.

SAIC's largest customer is the U.S. government, which accounts for 69 percent of its business, and its company roster is a revolving door of government-corporate influences.

David Kay, the former U.N. weapons inspector who was hired by the CIA to track down weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is a former vice president of SAIC. Kay left SAIC, where he oversaw homeland security and counterterrorism work, in October 2002.

Christopher "Ryan" Henry left SAIC, where he was vice president for strategic assessment and development, in February 2003 to become principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy. Henry now works for the office overseeing his former employer, directly under Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy who has been deeply involved in postwar planning.

SAIC's Executive Vice President for Federal Business and Director Duane P. Andrews served as assistant defense secretary from 1989 to 1993, when he joined SAIC. Board member W.A. Downing served as deputy assistant director for international counter-terrorism initiatives on the National Security Council and joined SAIC after retiring as an Army general in 1996. Bobby Ray Inman, a board member until October 2003, is a retired U.S. Navy admiral who once directed the National Security Agency and served as deputy director of central intelligence. Inman is also a member of the board of directors of Fluor, another contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan.



They also gave us Steven Hatfill, the man who is or is not a person of interest in the anthrax investigation [sic].

If the standard of proof of misconduct for criminal prosecution for corporations were as lax as the standard of proof for Weapons of Mass Destruction, these people would never get out of court.
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Turning a novel of ideas into a movie risks disapproval, even when, as with Philip Roth's "The Human Stain," the novel is somewhat cinematic in that its subject is the social ramifications of how things look. And many reviews of the movie "The Human Stain" have been tepid or chilly.

And mistaken. Critics complain that Anthony Hopkins, the versatile Welsh actor (he has played Hannibal Lecter, the cannibal, and C.S. Lewis, the Oxford don), is miscast as an African American who, during a long career as a classics professor, has passed as white. But the point of the novel and movie is subtle and paradoxical. It is that racial identity can be both chimerical and imprisoning. The difficulty of seeing Hopkins's character, Coleman Silk, as black underscores how racial identity can be optional for some people -- a choice.

...

The movie turns on what we see: pigmentation -- a stain, of sorts. Visually, Silk is quite simply not black. And aside from the visual, what is race?



Race is that which caused people who were perceived as having it not to be hired at the time when Silk was starting his career, which is why Anatole Broyard (yes, the character is based on someone - well, real is such a restrictive word) never acknowledged his mixed-race background (or his darker mixed-race family).

Aside from the visual. Feh.

I don't have any particular comment on the content of this - I mean, it's more or less the usual race can't hurt us unless we talk about it screed and it's George Will, so you can pretty much presuppose strike three right there and not bother - but I was struck by how thoroughly bad the writing is, even for George Will.

Really, if they're not going to edit anyone who moves in with the publisher's sister, the publisher's sister is going to have to meet better writers.


More Coherent (but still stuffy) George Will

Adapting even a novel of ideas as cinematic as Phillip Roth's "The Human Stain," which deals with the social effects of our perceptions of race, is risky. Indeed, many reviews of the movie have been tepid or chilly. The reviews are wrong.

Critics complain that versatile Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins, who audiences accepted as both Hannibal Lecter the cannibal and C.S. Lewis the Oxford don, is miscast as an african-american classics professor who has passed as white for most of his career. Ironically, some critics, who I'm not going to cite and who may or may not exist, have objected to a white actor with an educated demeanor playing the role, but the point both novel and movie are trying to make is that racial identity can be both intangible and restrictive. If Hopkins' character, Coleman Silk, doesn't seem "black" to you, perhaps you should look at your assumptions about race.

...

Coleman Silk may be nothing like your image of an african american man. It's worth asking yourself why.



Shorter George Will, possibly even with worse glasses

It's not my problem. No-one held a gun to your head and made you be black.



edited. what a concept.
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