NoonShadow

An expat's commentary on current events in national security, foreign affairs, the media, culture, technology and assorted trivia.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

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Honour killing in Canada

The Vancouver Sun tells us about another shocking episode of honour killing.

Death has guaranteed that the forbidden love between Amandeep Atwal, a beautiful Indo-Canadian teenager, and her lover Todd McIsaac, will remain forever young.

It was in this small town on the north-central coast that the two met and fell in love.

But it all ended in tragedy when 17-year-old Amandeep was delivered to Langley Memorial Hospital by her father Rajinder one afternoon two years ago -- her bloodied body pierced with multiple stab wounds.

He said she had killed herself. (Give me a bit more credit than that, asshat! - ed.)

However, he was later charged with second-degree murder, and on Friday a B.C. Supreme Court jury in New Westminster deliberated just five hours before finding the 48-year-old man guilty.


Only the perp is not who you think it is.

Regrettably, the Vancouver Sun is too PC to inform us the poor woman's background. It would actually help illuminate matters.

She is from a Sikh, not a Muslim, family. The problem lies in the patriarchical, tribal superstitious traditions that some people are brought up in, and is nothing inherent to the religions themselves.

(Via a commenter on LGF.)

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Scheuer: Al-Qaeda season of penance closes

A worrying analysis of recent Al-Qaeda media announcements from Michael Scheuer (head of the OBL unit at the Counterterrorism Center and author of Imperial Hubris) may be found at the the Jamestown Foundation:

After 9/11, bin Laden received sharp criticisms from Islamist scholars that dealt with the al-Qaeda chief's failure to satisfy several religious requirements pertinent to waging war. The critique focused on three items:
  1. insufficient warning;
  2. failure to offer Americans a chance to convert to Islam; and
  3. inadequate religious authorization to kill so many people.
Bin Laden accepted these criticisms and in mid-2002 began a series of speeches and actions to remedy the shortcomings and satisfy his Islamist critics before again attacking in the United States.

Scheuer posits that the recent videos of bin Laden and Zawahiri were done in order to 'get right' with the Islamic scholars who condemned 9/11. The cycle of remedial actions may be complete (and the offers of mercy were not acted upon - i.e., Bush did not lead all Americans in a mass conversion to Islam - and no, I am not being sarcastic).

(The) November 28 2004 speech by deputy al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri seems to have brought closure to the warning cycle begun by bin Laden in 2002. In his speech, Zawahiri spoke more in sorrow than anger when he gave Americans "a final piece of advice." He said that Americans had again elected leaders who would keep the status quo in U.S. foreign policy toward the Islamic world. Noting that al-Qaeda had repeatedly warned against this course of action, Zawahiri implied that Americans would get no more warnings and that they would have only themselves to blame for future disasters...

If Zawahiri's November 28 speech did conclude al-Qaeda's warning cycle, it probably means the group is ready to attack in the United States, a situation that makes DCI Goss's statement that Soviet nuclear materials may be held by al-Qaeda all the more troubling..

(Emphasis added. Via Word Unheard.)

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How do you say 'Patriot Act' in Dutch?

The AP reports on the Dutch government strengthening its powers to snoop, snatch and hold anyone, in the name of (of course) 'state security'. Note how the recent 'Your papers, please!' law also dovetails quite nicely:

The Dutch government approved a new terrorism bill Friday that grants law-enforcement authorities far-reaching powers of investigation and allowing them to hold suspects for up to two weeks without charges.

The measure, which still must be passed by parliament (whew! - ed.), would allow intelligence agents to use currently banned techniques such as infiltrating terror cells for undercover operations and telephone taps, a Justice Ministry statement said. They will also be allowed to use entrapment tactics, such as bogus sales transactions...

The new law also lowers the level of proof needed to hold a suspect believed to be plotting terrorist activity...

Prosecutors will be able to approve the use of spot searches of people and cars in public places that could be potential targets, such as an airport or a sports stadium, if there is suspicion of an attack plot.


(Emphasis added.)

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Quote for the day

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

- Albert Einstein
German-born physicist (1879 - 1955)

Friday, March 04, 2005

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UN fights to keep its Congo fish

The Christian Science Monitor reports:
Faced with a double-barreled crisis over its inability to forge even a semblance of peace in the African jungles of Congo or prevent its soldiers from sexually abusing civilians there, the United Nations' biggest global peacekeeping operation is undergoing a dramatic makeover. ..

First, UN Congo chief William Swing, a former US diplomat, may resign Friday amid charges he hasn't prevented things like UN soldiers raping teenage girls or trading sex for bread or peanut butter. The UN may soon let accused peacekeepers worldwide be put on trial where the crime is alleged to have taken place - instead of just shipping them home, where justice can be uneven.

Second, in a rare burst of aggressiveness, the UN Congo team killed some 60 militia members this week, just days after nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers were killed in an ambush. It's a departure from the UN's studied neutrality, which UN critics say has contributed to the world body's impotence and to the slow-burning tragedy of 1,000 civilians dying each day in eastern Congo, according to the International Rescue Committee.

(Emphasis added.)

Other reports say that up to one-third of the dead in the attack were civilians, perhaps being used as human shields by the militia. In the Telegraph today, the report included this tidbit:

Congolese officials in the area said that 20 of those killed in the battle were civilians, including three children and several women who were burned to death after rounds from helicopter gunships set fire to their huts.


OK, back to the CSM:

Last June, some 3,000 rebels overran the eastern town of Bukavu, despite the presence of 400 peacekeepers, who were ostensibly there to protect civilians. Then in December came the UN report that chronicled 150 allegations of sexual misconduct, including an apparent pedophilia ring, rapes, and solicitations of prostitutes. All along, there have been unabated killings of villagers by militias of the Lendu ethic group, seemingly under (the UN peacekeeping force's) nose.


(Emphasis added.)

That Bukavu incident is a complete disgrace, pungently redolent of the UN shame in Srebrenica in July 1995.

To refresh any readers' memories, Srebrenica is a town in Bosnia. During the Yugoslavian breakup, the UN declared the town of Srebrenica a 'UN Safe Area' (cautionary note: if the UN ever declares your hometown a 'Safe Area', RUN!). The UN force was 600 Dutch peacekeepers under the command of a French general. The Serbs decided to come in and get the Muslims in the 'Safe Area'. The Dutch saw the danger and repeatedly requested air strikes, requests which were rejected repeatedly (famously once for the unpardonable sin of submitting the request for air strikes on the wrong form). The Dutch peacekeepers, without firing a shot, handed over 5,000 Bosnian Muslim citizens in their protection to the Serb militias, then the Dutch fled. The Serbs proceeded to comb the area and execute every male above the age of 12. The final death toll approached 10,000 dead in that one medium-sized town, their bodies dumped in mass graves. Genocide had returned to Europe.

As Alan Little of the BBC put it some years later:
I remember writing a piece for Radio 4 saying that when the men of Srebrenica were finally murdered, then none of us should dare to say afterwards: "If only we had known what would happen". We knew.

(Emphasis added.)

Once again, after Cambodia, after Rwanda, after Bosnia, they beat their chests and gnash their teeth, and again shout, 'Never again!' But once again, UN peacekeepers can't be bothered to protect the civilians in their trusted care.

Oh, and back to the Congo. No need to worry! A UN Deputy Secretary-General is doing a seagull tour.


UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette toured West Africa this week, specifically highlighting the new "zero-tolerance" policy against peacekeeper sexual abuse.

Ms. Frechette has been fingered as being one of the crucial cogs in the gigantic, greedy, evil machine known as the Oil-for-Food-and-Palaces-and-Weapons scandal.




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Opthalmologist regains partial sight

The AP reports (dynamic link may not be reliable):

President Bashar Assad will address his country's parliament on Saturday in a previously unscheduled speech that raised speculation he may announce some kind of troop withdrawal from Lebanon.

A Syrian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said from Damascus on Friday that Assad's address will "deal with the situation in the region and the ongoing developments." He did not elaborate...

tick... tick... tick...

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Next!

Another totalitarian dictatorship begins to feel some pressure. From the Joong Ang Daily of South Korea:

It has been revealed that the United States has decided to accept North Korean refugees and is holding negotiations with the Chinese and South Korean governments. This is part of the follow-up measures to the North Korean Human Rights Act that was passed last year.

Some North Korean defectors are trying at this moment to illegally enter the United States through neighboring Canada and Mexico or asking the U.S. government for asylum while residing near its borders. Also, one defector even tried to seek political asylum at the American consulate in Vladivostok, Russia last year. The United States currently disallows refugees from the Stalinist state.

But the enactment of the law will allow North Korean refugees asylum in the United States. Considering that the country accepts some 50,000 refugees annually, it will not be difficult for it to bear a small increase.

The new policy, however, will bring an altered situation for both Koreas and China. The Kim Jong-il regime will most likely openly express dissatisfaction over having its human rights problems raised into an issue on the international level and China will dread having to deal with an increased number of North Korean defectors. But with U.S. President George W. Bush selecting improved human rights and expanding freedom as the top priorities of his diplomatic policies, his administration will certainly continue to push for the new plan.

As a result, the North Korean human rights issue will likely turn into a full-scale political issue, and our government must be prepared with a policy to deal with it... We cannot deny that the American policy has the positive effect of improving human rights of North Korean defectors through the international system and procedure.
(Emphasis added.)

Why should repression of every human right become a political issue? More information at NKZone.


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France is onside

David Warren on Middle Eastern prospects for democracy:

The French have, I think, looked fairly deeply into the new course of Middle Eastern events, and decided with their customary fortitude that they must choose the winning side. The French intelligence services are not to be sniffed at; and my information is that their information is "democracy is bursting out all over". Suddenly the people in the streets of Beirut have lost their fear; and the loss of fear is spreading.


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Quote for the day

Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security.

- Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)
American statesman, author and inventor


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Ihre Papiere, bitte!

According to the UK Home Office, 21 of the 25 EU Member States (all apart from the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Latvia) have national identity cards, and Tony Blair's government is champing at the bit to reduce that set by one member.

Happily, there are only a few EU member states that demand compulsory production, i.e., where it is the law that you must obey an order for, "Your papers, please!"

European Digital Rights (EDRI) leads the way in tracking these straws in the wind.

EDRI summarised the state of affairs thus in 2003 when the EU had 15 members (and I believe that many of the new Eastern European members also have compulsory ID presentation laws):
Belgium currently has the strictest legislation, requiring everybody age 15 and older to show ID when asked by a police officer, without the need for a suspicion. In the Netherlands, the minister of justice recently proposed an ID-requirement for everybody age 12 and above. According to research by the ministry of justice, published in a letter to parliament 29 October 2001, the Netherlands would suddenly have the most repressive ID-scheme in Europe.

According to this research, in Germany inhabitants 16 years and older are required to show ID to police officers. In practice ID-requirement is limited to financial transactions. In France and Spain, officials must provide some ground, like danger to public safety, to require ID, but in practice there is a lot of debate about arbitrary checks, like in Belgium.

Several other states have rules but they are bound by common sense limits, as in the case of suspects of a crime or certain financial transactions. Happily, very few give such open-ended power yet. The Axis of Weasels plus the Netherlands.

The Netherlands - the crowded, but happy, industrious and easygoing Dutch - seems to be the odd man out in this group.

So since the New Year introduction of this law, the most onerous in Europe, how has the Dutch experience been? Also from EDRI:
On 1 January 2005, a new law went into force in the Netherlands obliging everybody above the age of 14 to always show ID when asked. Dutch police has immediately started to use the new power by fining dozens of citizens for not being able to present a valid passport, drivers license or ID card...

The Council of State, the highest legal advisory body in the Netherlands, strongly criticised the proposed law for the lack of any substantive evidence that it would help in the battle against terrorism. This criticism was bluntly ignored by Cabinet and Parliament.

(Emphasis added.)

It may be that it is a budgetary and not a security measure:
In the first month of the new ID obligations in the Netherlands, the Dutch police have issued 3,300 fines to people who could not immediately show a valid ID when asked. If the current wave of fines continues, at the end of this year the police will have issued around 40,000 fines, thus creating a large new group of criminal offenders.

I hope that this officious method of intrusion will finally break into the major media when the German government begins to exercise its powers in this area - powers which are already on the German books.



Thursday, March 03, 2005

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Schadenfreude, the sequel

In my weekly ritual of leafing through the blessed Economist, I admit it, I spend time on the legible-only-with-a-microscope tables on the back pages (behind the adverts) of each issue.

Here comes the schadenfreude:
Of the 'industrialised nations' tracked monthly by the Economist, what are the only ones boasting of double digit unemployment?
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Spain
Is that the full Axis of Weasels or did I miss a stoat?


_______________________________________

Earth to Old Europe: stop appeasing dictators!

70 years of practice haven't proved dictator appeasement to be a wise choice for Old Europe.

The Economist says in this week's issue:
America's detractors are having to admit that its often clodhopping policies may be starting to work

... The Europeans, with the French and Germans to the fore, have been gracelessly loth to admit that the Bush doctrine, however crassly simplistic in expression and implementation, has moved the scenery—in the right direction. As a token of recognition, they should certainly offer heartier help in Iraq.

(Emphasis in original.)


One of these days, the self-righteous socialists of Old Europe will realise that their comfort is not a justification for the enslavement of others.



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Eye doctor can't see writing on the wall

The Syria tyrant clan feels more heavyweights leaning on them.

Russia and Saudi Arabia say, "Get out of Lebanon - like you said you would do 15 years ago."

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Naughtie-Balls cock-up

£2.8 billion (4.2 billion euros or $5.3 billion) in compulsory tax doesn't buy impartiality.

From today's Sun, of all places, comes further evidence (if any were needed) that the blatant leftism of BBC 'presenters' and 'journalists' is indeed blatant leftism:

THE BBC’s reputation for fair and balanced reporting was at risk last night after top broadcaster James Naughtie blurted out his pro-Labour sympathies.

In a live chat with ex-Treasury chief Ed Balls — weeks before the May 5 election — he asked: “If WE win the election, does Gordon Brown remain Chancellor?”

He struggled to recover, saying: “If YOU win the election.”

The blunder came on Radio 4’s flagship Today programme. Mr Naughtie has frequently given Conservatives a rough ride in interviews while apparently giving Labour frontmen an easy time.

The veteran anchorman is author of a biography of Gordon Brown and is close to Tony Blair and other Cabinet ministers.

But he surprised his own colleagues yesterday by blurting out his true colours on prime time radio.

The slip-up is particularly embarrassing after the Beeb found its newsmen had swallowed pro-EU propaganda without finding out the facts about Europe.

The Tories are already at war with the Beeb over its allegedly one-sided coverage of the 1980s miners’ strike in last week’s BBC1 film Faith. And it follows Lord Hutton’s bombshell report last year criticising the BBC’s Iraq war coverage.

Blunders by correspondent Andrew Gilligan on the Today programme were followed by the suicide of MoD scientist Dr David Kelly and the resignation of two BBC chiefs.

Tory ex-Cabinet minister Norman Tebbit pounced on Mr Naughtie’s comment. He said: “How often a slip of the tongue betrays the true thoughts in the mind of the speaker. We could all see the shape of the cat in the bag, but Mr Naughtie has now let it out for all to see.”

Broadcaster and ex-Labour MP Brian Walden said: “It’s not usual for a broadcaster to betray their true allegiances.”

(Emphasis in original.)


Plenty of additional evidence at the redoubtable Biased BBC blog, who first noted the story on the Guardian's blog.

They extort money from UK taxpayers with threats of prison so they can push their leftist politics on us.

What should the public say to this, "Thank you, sir, may I please have another?"


UPDATE: Listen for yourself! (Via the Guardian's blog.)



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Second him to the UN peacekeepers, he will fit right in there

So a diplomat from the United Arab Emirates is caught in Virginia for trying to get some action from a 13-year-old-girl. What to do, what to do? Why, claim diplomatic immunity and skip the country, of course! From the Washington Times:

A top official at the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington fled the United States with his family during the weekend, just days after being arrested in Virginia on charges of soliciting sex from an undercover detective posing as a 13-year-old girl.
...
Mr. Krantz said there was no doubt about Mr. Al-Mazrooei's (director of the embassy's Abu Dhabi Scholarship Program Office) intentions when he took the four-hour drive to Bedford County to meet with the "teenager," noting that in one e-mail he said, "I know what I'm doing is illegal, I know that it is wrong," and in another, "If you've got a friend, maybe we could have a threesome. I could take you back to school."

He said the diplomat also had a MapQuest printout of the meeting location and a tube of KY Jelly, a sexual lubricant in his sport utility vehicle.
...
State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said yesterday that U.S. officials learned that Mr. Al-Mazrooei and his family had returned to the UAE when they went to the embassy earlier this week to request that his diplomatic immunity be waived.

Well, I certainly hope K-Y Boy's plane ride with his wife (wives?) and kids was a long, unpleasant and mortifying one. I hope they gave Ambassador Pedophile enough guilt trippage to last him if he survives to the 27th Century.

...Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown said Mr. Al-Mazrooei was detained, handcuffed and taken to the sheriff's office, but released after his claim of diplomatic immunity was verified. Mr. Al-Mazrooei has since been charged with five felony counts of sexual solicitation of a child by computer and one felony charge of attempted indecent liberties with a child. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Once the warrant was issued, Mr. Al-Mazrooei's name was entered into U.S. visa and immigration watch lists to prevent his return to the United States.

(Emphasis added.)

I should certainly hope so. If he can't return to the States, I have an idea where he and his speciality are likely to fit right in.

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Another small step for (wo)mankind

No credit for this bit of progress for women must go to the warmonger on Pennsylvania Avenue or his poodle on Downing Street:

AFGHANISTAN today named its first female provincial governor, a step forward in the slow political progress of women since the fall of the Taliban more than three years ago.

The appointment of Habiba Sorabi as the new governor of Bamiyan was announced in a brief statement on state-run Kabul Television.

I am sure it would have happened had the Taliban still been blowing up Hindu statues and crushing homosexuals to death.

(Via Michelle Malkin.)

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Great minds think alike

As I was writing about the UK media's tax ticks, George Will was writing in the Washington Post about the US variant.

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Look a-yonder comin'

Comin' down that railroad track...

It's the Demographic Train Wreck!

Bringing the Depression back...

The Washington Post notes the demographic collapse of Japan.

The junior high, which ceased operation six years ago because of a shortage of children, now houses a community center for the elderly.

... (Japan's) population of almost 128 million is expected to decrease next year, then plunge to about 126 million by 2015 and about 101 million by 2050....

Japan has tried just about everything to boost the fertility rate, or number of children per woman, which hit a record low of 1.29 in 2003, compared with 2.01 in the United States.

The replacement rate of a population is 2.1.

There is a lot to be written about the demographic collapse of the developed world. I will not go into it all here, but due to reproductive momentum, there are no quick fixes to the monumental impact of the coming train wreck. It is not only that schools and obstetricians and playgrounds are unneeded, as the article achingly points out. Japan's economy will be damaged immensely from many angles. The population has already started to decline.

For Japan, the coming lack of young people (workers for industry and taxpayers for governments) combined with a surfeit of pensioners with long life expectancy will generate huge deficits, which will result in higher taxes and excessive government borrowing (in the trillions of dollars) on the world market, which will cause interest rates to spike and remain high, retarding economic growth and creating bankruptcies for companies (on debt) and families (on mortgages) alike.

Japan, with the second-largest economy in the world, is in deep trouble.

Want more bad news? Germany and Italy and Spain are in the same boat. Most of the EU member states, so proud of the 'European Social Model,' stupidly wrapped their societies into sure-to-collapse-someday pension schemes, complete with early retirement, generous benefits, and very little private provision. Then they tightened the knot by raising taxes so high that 1) they could not be raised anymore and 2) those employers who could, fled the area.

Want more bad news? China and Russia and Mexico and Eastern Europe are in trouble too.

A good introduction to the topic is here. More disturbing detailed information is here.

There is more to come on this subject.

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Body snatchers claim another victim

Who wrote today's editorial in the Washington Post? Must be a new guy in the office, because it does not sound like them at all.

From the title, "A Tyrant Cornered" to the conclusion, "The old, corrupt order in Beirut, as in Baghdad, is crumbling," it is remarkably reality-based.

It even mentions good news from Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon!

(To be fair, the Washington Post has been light years ahead of the New York Times on foreign affairs issues over the recent past. And no scandals or resignations for the WaPo!)

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Quote for the day

I count him braver
who conquers his desires
than him who
conquers his enemies;
for the hardest victory
is the victory over self.

- Aristotle (384 B.C. - 322? B.C.)
Greek philosopher

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Auntie Beeb lied to me and extorted money from me

In my reply to Jay's comment below, I noted:

Unfortunately, in the BBC's case, they are insulated from their customer's feedback - they use the government to shake down the British populace with a £120 annual tax (approx. 180 euros or $210) on anyone who owns a television.
(Emphasis in original.)

I swear that I did not know when I wrote that comment that today the UK government's review ("The Green Paper") of the BBC's ten year charter had been issued late yesterday (via Andrew Sullivan.) nor that it included at least ten years more of the hated licence fee.

Good Lord, the UK's £120 annual tax on every TV is enough to buy a brand new set every year.

And watch out, for they are also greedily eyeing your PCs, laptops, PDAs...
THE BBC licence fee should be replaced by a tax on the ownership of a personal computer instead of a television, ministers said yesterday.

...you name it and they will tax it if they can.

And we will send around our muscle to squeeze a £1000 fine out of you or throw you in gaol ('jail' for North Americans) if you will not pay.

Stop complaining, milch cow! Can you not hear my posh accent? I am better than you!

It is not your place to ask where we may choose spend your licence fees! Fictional broadcasts or golden parachutes, or both? It is up to us to splash out the £2.8 billion any way we want!


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Chekhov would be proud

Blogger Vodkapundit pens a news article that rings so true that I fear the future.

As V-E Day is announced in the Second World War, opposition politicians in the US object:

"Our Democratic president claimed he was fighting to prevent tyranny, but what has he really accomplished? Communists are making inroads in France and Italy, and Stalin controls Poland. Wasn't preserving Polish freedom supposedly the reason this so-called 'World War' began in the first place?"

"President Truman and the Democrats have let us down," added Republican House Conference Chairman Roy Woodruff. "It was Japan who attacked us, yet Tojo and Hirohito remain at large, three and a half years later. The Democrats' foolish European campaign has cost us thousands of lives and millions of dollars, and distracted us from our real enemies. Japan attacked us on December 7, 1941, not Germany."
...

Read the whole thing.

Smekh skvoz' slyozi (laughter through tears) as Chekhov put it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

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Voting with their clickers

I used to be a CNNophile. My first browser homepage was CNN.com.

Then I slowly came to notice their blatant bias, and to really clarify things the head of CNN News, Eason Jordan, admitted (in the NY Times, no less!) that to maintain CNN's privileged access, he and his staff had for years been covering up many of Saddam's murders and human rights violations. Then the same clod claimed slanderously that US troops in Iraq deliberately killed journalists as a matter of policy.

Now I chuckle evilly and rub my hands together every time I hear that ill has befallen those unethical CNN wankers.

So today, I nearly soiled myself with glee when I noted Variety's report:

CNN posted steep viewer losses (in the USA) during the month of February, slipping 21% in primetime and 16% overall, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Fox News was the only cable news network to see gains in primetime during February and beat all other cable news outlets combined for the sixth straight month.

FNC averaged 1.57 million viewers in primetime, up 18% from the same period last year, while CNN fell 21% to 637,000 viewers from the same time period.

Joyous over CNN's February (ratings numbers), Fox staffers began referring to the CNN (president Jon Klein) as "Jon De-cline."

Via Drudge.


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Genocidal anti-Semitic totalitarian dictator has soft spot for Germany, France

From Expatica:
Saddam last met his defence counsel in December and conveyed his greetings to all "free people" of the world "and especially to France and Germany," which were staunch opponents of the war that toppled him, (his defence attorney) Khassawneh said.

Via LGF.

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FRG stats contain no joy

German unemployment spikes again:

The figure of 5.216 million people, or 12.6% of the working-age population, is the highest jobless rate in Europe's biggest economy since the 1930s.

The news comes as the head of Germany's panel of government economic advisers predicted growth would again stagnate.

Speaking on German TV, Bert Ruerup said the panel's earlier forecast of 1.4% was too optimistic and warned growth would be just 1% in 2005...

The mass-market Bild tabloid used red type to splash the phrase, "Do something!" across its front page.



_______________________________________

What's the frequency, Dan?

Dan Rather has always maintained that there is no liberal bias in the mainstream media, and that the New York Times is 'middle of the road.' Here he is, in his own words.

Not to be missed.

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Europe begins to gird its loins

The EU is a military bantamweight? The answer to that question (as it is to all questions these days) must be more power to the EU.

From the UK Times:
Nick Witney, the British chief executive of the European Defence Agency, set up last month, explained his plans to boost Europe’s “defence, technological and industrial base” by co-ordinating the military activity of EU members.

Concern about Europe’s military weakness came to the fore in the 1990s when it was unable to prevent civil war in the Balkans. Since then, the European Union has been developing a common foreign policy and set up the EDA to increase its military power.

Mr Witney said: “(Europe) set itself the relatively modest initial ambition to be able to put 60,000 troops in the field for two months and keep that level of force there for a year, and frankly failed to do that.

“When you think that we have two million men and women under arms in Europe and you link that to €160 billion (£115 billion) of defence expenditure across Europe it suggests money is not being well spent.”...

The defence industries making the equipment are duplicated — there are half a dozen tank manufacturers across Europe. Many member states are separately trying to develop a new drone (an unmanned aircraft for reconnaissance) and new armoured vehicles. It is one of Mr Witney’s first tasks to put these many programmes together.

Previous European military projects have been uncoordinated, and plagued with problems: the Eurofighter is hugely over budget; the Airbus A400M transporter plane is severely delayed; and the Horizon frigate has been abandoned.

(Emphasis added.)

Not only will the EDA coordinate military activities, but it will also involve itself with industrial matters, as the EDA is tasked with 'coordinating and planning joint research activities', as well. On past experience, European bureaucracies do not use a light touch when 'coordinating and planning' private sector activities.


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Quote for the day

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

- H. G. Wells (1866 - 1946)
English novelist

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Blood to wash away shame

From the Christian Science Monitor:
So-called "honor" killings - the murder of a woman who is accused of tainting family honor - account for one-third of all violent deaths in Jordan, a country which otherwise has low crime rates.

For example, how about the 16-year-old girl strangled by her 31-year-old brother because she had been raped by another brother?

And if, by chance, a woman survives an attack, Jordanian authorities put her in prison anyway... for her own protection.

It isn't only in Jordan. Try Germany, Netherlands and the UK... and many others.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

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Blue helmets and purple helmets, the sequel

Barracks and Brothels, a study on sexual trafficking in international peacekeeping missions, was released Monday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

NATO and the DOD do not get off scot-free in the CSIS study, but:
the United Nations has an especially troubling track record of peacekeeper involvement in trafficking as well as in other forms of sexual exploitation in conflict and post-conflict regions... Yet decisionmakers at the UN seem to fear that creating a taboo against trafficking for peacekeepers will negatively affect the UN’s ability to attract peacekeepers.

Kofi, we mustn't "create a taboo!" If we do that, France and Pakistan and Morocco and Bangladesh et al won't send us any more pedophiles!

As the LA Times reported in February:
A report by U.N. investigators last summer noted that there had been "zero compliance" with (the U.N.'s) "zero-tolerance" policy instituted in October 2003, and that peacekeepers had traded favors with colleagues to withhold reports of policy violations.

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Germans of the world, unite!

You have nothing to lose but your chains jobs!

Maybe one reason that the German economy is such a mess may be because when asked last year,

"Who was the best German in history?"


Karl Marx came in third (and was #1 in the East).


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Ba'ath going down the drain

Editorial opinion from today's London Telegraph:
Mr Assad has set his face against attempts to bring democracy to Iraq and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. In so doing, he has forfeited any chance of engaging Tel Aviv in talks for the return of the Golan Heights and has put at risk his country's hold over Lebanon. If he fails to recover the first and loses the second, he could well be overthrown by forces within Syria. His father, Hafiz, always managed to persuade the world that he was a key player. Bashar, by contrast, is digging himself deeper and deeper into trouble by defying the seismic changes in the region. Iraqis and Palestinians have held democratic elections. London today hosts an international conference on reforming the way the Palestinians are governed. Syria, meanwhile, carries on regardless. Its brazenness appears suicidal. And few would shed tears for the extinction of Ba'athist rule in the Middle East.

I don't think the Syrian tyrant (and former opthalmologist) is suicidal, just plain dumb. Here is some more editorial opinion: Get your troops out of your Lebanese colony already, you fascist occupier. You will need them closer to home since your countrymen are aching to give you the Ceausescu treatment.

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Quote for the day

A man who seeks truth and loves it must be reckoned precious to any human society.

- Frederick II, aka Frederick the Great (1712 - 1786)
King of Prussia

Monday, February 28, 2005

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Not to be missed!

Check out Austin Bay, Mark Steyn, Roger L. Simon, and others on Austin Bay's blog discussing the prospects for Europe's future.

Make sure that you budget some time for reading and digesting.

Fantastic, thought-provoking commentary.

Via SteynOnline.

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Quote for the day

It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent,
but the ones most responsive to change.
- Charles Darwin (1809 - 1892)
English biologist

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Blue helmets and purple helmets

We can't trust them with our women or our children, but we are supposed to trust them with our national security?!?!?

The head of U.N. peacekeeping (Undersecretary-General Jean-Marie Guehenno) said yesterday he is expanding an investigation of staff and troop conduct from Congo to 15 other missions to ensure greater transparency, even though additional sex scandals are likely to emerge...

The United Nations, beset by scandals over the Iraq oil-for-food program, also is reeling from charges of sex crimes committed by its peacekeepers in Congo, including the gang-rape of children as young as 12.

This week, three Pakistani peacekeepers were accused of raping a prostitute in the Haitian city of Gonaives, and there are reports from Liberia and Burundi of similar abuses.

Hmmm, I notice a trend here... But it seems they left out rape, pimping, people trafficking, and pedophilia, in Somalia, East Timor, Ivory Coast, Bosnia and Kosovo. In fact, pretty much everywhere UN peacekeepers show their blue (purple?) helmets.

But the most extensive scandal occurred in eastern Congo, where peacekeepers and U.N. civilian staff have been accused of raping girls as young as 12, bribing children with eggs, milk or a few dollars for sex, and fathering and abandoning hundreds of children.

Some 51 peacekeepers or civilians have been expelled from the Congo...

"But (M. Guehenno) must understand that it is up to us to supply these troops, and it is not always an easy thing. He must have some sympathy, ... some patience," the diplomat said.

(Emphasis added.)

I suppose that these "audits" are at least a sign of some progress. In 1993, the then-Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping, Yasushi Akashi, mildly replied, "Boys will be boys," when confronted with evidence that UN troops in Cambodia were pedophile rapists.


UPDATE: Reuters reports, "U.N. officials fear the sex-abuse scandal among peacekeepers in Africa is far more widespread and appears to be a problem in each of the global body's 16 missions around the world."

(Emphasis added. Via Instapundit.)

Words fail me.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

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Let's be tolerant... from a lot farther away

From today's New York Times comes another straw in the wind about Europe's difficulties with and responses to mass immigration. A main Dutch response seems to be mass emigration:

Paul Hiltemann had already noticed a darkening mood in the Netherlands. He runs an agency for people wanting to emigrate and his client list had surged.

But he was still taken aback in November when a Dutch filmmaker was shot and his throat was slit, execution style, on an Amsterdam street.

In the weeks that followed, Mr. Hiltemann was inundated by e-mail messages and telephone calls...

Leave this stable and prosperous corner of Europe? Leave this land with its generous social benefits and ample salaries, a place of fine schools, museums, sports grounds and bicycle paths, all set in a lively democracy?

The answer, increasingly, is yes. This small nation is a magnet for immigrants, but statistics suggest there is a quickening flight of the white middle class. Dutch people pulling up roots said they felt a general pessimism about their small and crowded country and about the social tensions that had grown along with the waves of newcomers, most of them Muslims."The Dutch are living in a kind of pressure cooker atmosphere," Mr. Hiltemann said.

There is more than the concern about the rising complications of absorbing newcomers, now one-tenth of the population, many of them from largely Muslim countries. Many Dutch also seem bewildered that their country, run for decades on a cozy, political consensus, now seems so tense and prickly and bent on confrontation. Those leaving have been mostly lured by large English-speaking nations like Australia, New Zealand and Canada, where they say they hope to feel less constricted.

In interviews, emigrants rarely cited a fear of militant Islam as their main reason for packing their bags. But the killing of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh, a fierce critic of fundamentalist Muslims, seems to have been a catalyst.

"Our Web site got 13,000 hits in the weeks after the van Gogh killing," said Frans Buysse, who runs an agency that handles paperwork for departing Dutch. "That's four times the normal rate."

Mr. van Gogh's killing is the only one the police have attributed to an Islamic militant, but since then they have reported finding death lists by local Islamic militants with the names of six prominent politicians. The effects still reverberate. In a recent opinion poll, 35 percent of the native Dutch questioned had negative views about Islam...

Many who settle abroad may not appear in migration statistics, like the growing contingent of retirees who flock to warmer places. But official statistics show a trend. In 1999, nearly 30,000 native Dutch moved elsewhere, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. For 2004, the provisional figure is close to 40,000...

Ruud Konings, an accountant, has just sold his comfortable home in the small town of Hilvarenbeek. In March, after a year's worth of paperwork, the family will leave for Australia. The couple said the main reason was their fear for the welfare and security of their two teenage children.

"When I grew up, this place was spontaneous and free, but my kids cannot safely cycle home at night," said Mr. Konings, 49. "My son just had his fifth bicycle stolen." At school, his children and their friends feel uneasy, he added. "They're afraid of being roughed up by the gangs of foreign kids."...

After Mr. van Gogh's killing, angry demonstrations and fire-bombings of mosques and Muslim schools took place. In revenge, some Christian churches were attacked. Mr. Konings said he and many of his friends sensed more confrontation in the making, perhaps more violence.

"I'm a great optimist, but we're now caught in a downward spiral, economically and socially," he said. "We feel we can give our children a better start somewhere else."...

Dutch demographers say their country has undergone one of Europe's fastest and most far-reaching demographic shifts, with about 10 percent of the population now foreign born, a majority of them Muslims.

Blaming immigrants for many ills has become commonplace. Conservative Moroccans and Turks from rural areas are accused of disdaining the liberal Dutch ways and of making little effort to adapt. Immigrant youths now make up half the prison population. More than 40 percent of immigrants receive some form of government assistance, a source of resentment among native Dutch. Immigrants say, though, that they are widely discriminated against.

Ms. Konings said the Dutch themselves brought on some of the social frictions. The Dutch "thought that we had to adapt to the immigrants and that we had to give them handouts," she said. "We've been too lenient; now it's difficult to turn the tide."

Mr. Buysse, who employs a staff of eight to process visas, concurred. He said farmers were still emigrating as Europe cut agricultural subsidies. '"What is new," he said, "is that Dutch people who are rich or at least very comfortable are now wanting to leave the country."

(Via NRO.)

Voting with their clogs! Unlike most of the rest of Europe, you can't blame it on the economy or jobs. In the Netherlands, unemployment is only 6.5%, although economic growth has only been so-so over the past year (1.3%, but negative last quarter). And Dutch pension problems are nowhere near as bad as Italy or Spain or Germany.


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"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Recession, unemployment, the demographic train wreck, uncontrolled immigration, domestic terrorism, taxation, building George Orwell's superstate... those topics can wait.

We have a real issue that demands out most urgent attention! As the IHT spells it out:

José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, is facing a rebellion in Brussels after Italian and Spanish were quietly downgraded as working languages of the European Union.

The revolt, led by members of the European Parliament and journalists, began when the European Commission decided to use only English, French and German in some news conferences because of a lack of translation resources as well as a stated desire for efficiency...

The dispute started when journalists noticed that Spanish and Italian had been dropped during news conferences and that German had taken their place.

The newspaper Corriere della Sera began a campaign, including front-page editorials declaring that Italy's national identity was being denied.

The campaign, which drew widespread public support in Italy, forced Gianfranco Fini, Italy's foreign minister, to write to the newspaper that he would fight to defend the language...

The subject of language is delicate in Brussels, where speeches often have to be repeated two or three times, press releases are issued in triplicate and earphones are a necessary accessory in meetings and conferences.

The French have long defended their language as Brussels' first tongue, even though it has been gradually usurped by English.

Recently, German has come to be used more frequently. It was this that apparently irked the Italians.

"German was upgraded and Spanish and Italian have gone from being always there to being almost disappeared," said Enrico Brivio, a correspondent in Brussels for Il Sole 24 Ore. "The point is, we were not consulted first."

Barroso's office promised Thursday to act soon to solve the diplomatic standoff.

"It seemed a reasonable solution to save taxpayers money," said Françoise Le Bail, Barroso's spokesman. "But we have to accept that this linguistic issue is a matter of national pride. We will look at it again."

Just for the record, here are the respective populations of France and Italy:
France 60.4 million
Italy 58.1 million

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Europe: The Final Countdown

I can find little to argue with in the lates column by Mark Steyn:

Most (American) administration officials subscribe to one of two views: a) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater; or b) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater where the whole powder keg's about to go up.

For what it's worth, I incline to the latter position. Europe's problems -- its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed -- are all of Europe's making. By some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025. Already, more people each week attend Friday prayers at British mosques than Sunday service at Christian churches -- and in a country where Anglican bishops have permanent seats in the national legislature.

Some of us think an Islamic Europe will be easier for America to deal with than the present Europe of cynical, wily, duplicitous pseudo-allies. But getting there is certain to be messy, and violent.

Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there's no point picking fights with the terminally ill...

(Via RCP.)


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NY Times to Senior Citizens: Drop Dead!

You thought that Logan's Run by William Nolan and George Clayton Johnson and The Children of Men by P. D. James, with their tales of mandatory life expectancy, were in the realm of science fiction?

Not so, young grasshopper. The New York Times advocates killing off the elderly to save on Medicare costs.

No, I am not making this up.

And I quote from Daniel Altman's piece in the Sunday Times:

So, how can Medicare's ballooning costs be contained? One idea is to let people die earlier.

And you say you want a second opinion or a novel treatment in an attempt to prolong your life? You selfish bastard!

These choices can actually harm patients, contradicting the purpose of the treatment, said Dr. Arnold S. Relman, a professor emeritus of medicine and social medicine at Harvard and former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine. "Sometimes, you know that death is inevitable over the next few weeks or few months," he said. "And then there are some doctors, and some families, who just don't want to confront that, and feel that they want to and should invest everything possible - the maximum amount of resources - in fighting the inevitable. That often results in prolonging the pain and discomfort of dying."

Don't fight it. Accept death.

Or the hospital budget director will decide your fate for you.



One poet much beloved of the counterculture saw things rather differently:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

- from The Poems of Dylan Thomas


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There was a Finance Minister who lived in a shoe...

Great laughs to be had from this article in the IHT, and even heartier laughs may be indulged because the centre of attention is a super-rich, aristocratic French Cabinet Minister (formerly the Agriculture Minister, where he apparently did not pick up sufficient skill in spreading fertiliser):

French Finance Minister Hervé Gaymard resigned Friday after 12 weeks on the job after revelations that he and his family were renting a €14,000-a-month luxury apartment in Paris paid for by the state...

In addition to the high rent, about $18,500 a month, there was an additional €2,500 a month for maintenance and three parking spaces, €32,000 to renovate the apartment and the parking area and €12,000 for real estate fees...

What was particularly unsettling for many public critics was his claim in a magazine interview that if he had been the son of rich bourgeois and not of a shoe repairman, there never would have been a problem because he would own his own apartment.

It turns out that Gaymard owns a 200-square-meter, or 2,150-square-foot, apartment on Boulevard St.-Michel in the heart of the Latin Quarter that he rents out for about €2,300 a month. On Friday, the left-leaning daily Libération reported that the minister's properties also include two small apartments and a house in the Savoy region that he inherited and another house in Brittany that he bought last year...

Paris is suffering from a severe housing shortage amid skyrocketing prices for both renters and buyers. (One month of M. Gaymard's rent) is the equivalent of the annual minimum wage for a worker in France. So there was little public sympathy for what was perceived as extravagance and hypocrisy by the man who is supposed to be the country's champion of public spending cuts.

In his first major news conference as Finance Minister on Feb. 8, Gaymard said that unless the government reins in spending, "We're going to hit the wall." On a talk show a few days later, he said, "We need to detox ourselves from public spending."

France, Europe's third-largest economy, is reeling from a public deficit that violates European Union rules; 10 percent unemployment, a five-year high; and public distrust of government manifested in street protests over its economic reforms.

(Emphasis added.)

M. Gaymard's reason for renting such an enormous, expensive flat? Der Spiegel enlightens us:

Gaymard -- who has pushed reform on the French and insisted everyone needs to tighten their belts -- defended his posh living quarters by saying the 200 square meter apartment he owns is too small for his large family (a wife and eight children).

So who does live in the $3,000 a month rental? According to Liberation, it's a family with nine children. (Emphasis added.)

Is there a French word for schadenfreude?


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Physics joke II

A hydrogen atom goes into a bar and says to the bartender: "I've lost my electron!"

The barkeep looks him over in concern and says, "Are you sure?"

The hydrogen atom replies, "I'm positive."

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Quote for the day

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.
- Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)
American President

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"All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others."

The free movement of labour in the EU is not free.

Amongst the pre-enlargement EU-15, only:
allows free movement of people and labour from new EU member states.

A very helpful summary of the situation is here. (Italy is misleadingly listed in the table as open to migration.)

Helpful suggestion for the new brothers and sisters of the EU: don't count on receiving the permission from your elder brothers and sisters to allow you move to the Left Bank, the Costa del Sol, Potsdammerplatz, etc, to live the EU's version of "the good life" until summer 2011.

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Common European home? Bollocks!

Der Spiegel throws a "fear the foreigner!" headline to its readers: Eastern European Workers Flood Into Germany: "People are Afraid Here"

Der Spiegel immediately praises German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for having managed to win the power to limit for several years the free migration of people from the new EU member states, such as Poland and Hungary. An auspicious beginning, that - immediately give them a proper EU welcome by turning 75 million people into second-class citizens.

Perhaps Herr Schroeder should read a bit more closely the European Constitution which he so cherishes. You don't have to read very far to encounter cognitive dissonance:

ARTICLE I-2: The Union's values
The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities...

ARTICLE I-3: The Union's objectives
1. The Union's aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples.
2. The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, and an internal market where competition is free and undistorted.

ARTICLE I-4: Fundamental freedoms and non-discrimination
1. The free movement of persons, services, goods and capital, and freedom of establishment shall be guaranteed within and by the Union, in accordance with the Constitution.
2. Within the scope of the Constitution, and without prejudice to any of its specific provisions, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.

(Emphasis added.) I guess the Constitution doesn't mean what it says, it means what Chirac, Schroeder, Solana, Prodi et al says it says. Silly me.

But you know what is even worse than rank hypocrisy? Some of them are managing to get into the Fatherland anyway!

What are the horrid Poles doing in our formerly happy, sunny towns and villages? Working. What's worse? Working hard. Unconscionable behaviour!

"Every morning at 5 a.m., they can be seen on their way to work, silent and walking closely together."

Why might these diligent workers be silent? Hmmm, could it be because the local inhabitants don't like them, and even the moral paragons at Der Spiegel look down their morally superior noses at them?

Der Spiegel's Markus Deggerich writes that the name of her employer "is one of the few German words that Beata can pronounce without a Polish accent."

As the city's "pleasantly portly mayor" (who Der Spiegel presents as the picture of a jolly burghermeister) says, "Things should remain the way they were. We don't want workers forced out of their jobs. The ethnic makeup in our city was about right."

I thought the Poles were our European brothers and sisters in our common European home? Not if we can blame them for our mass unemployment! Der Spiegel's obvious xenophobia has disturbing echoes of Der Sturmer. Will Der Spiegel's motto become "The Poles are our misfortune?"