Congo Update

Now that French led contingent of 1200 soldies are en route, Kofi Annan is pressing the Security Council to raise the limit of troops that can be sent to the Congo:

For a chance at lasting peace in the region, Annan argued in a new 28-page report that 3,800 peacekeepers in Ituri were needed to disarm combatants, rather than the 1,700 expected to replace the French-led force in September.

”Even a force of that strength would not be able to provide comprehensive security throughout Ituri or secure all major roads or the border with Uganda,” Annan wrote. But he said he expected the troops to provide security for a host of other U.N. personnel to run radio stations and organize police.

Currently there are about 5,000 U.N. military personnel on the ground throughout the vast country as part of the U.N. Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUC.

Bangladeshi and other troops and others expected in August would to raise the number to close to 8,000. The Security Council has imposed a ceiling of 8,700 personnel and Annan now wants it raised to 10,800.

What meets the troops, regardless of how many are eventually sent, is what has been described as “Mission Impossible:”

Naming all the belligerents in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s recent history would be a good trivial pursuit question if the answer did not need continuing updates.

Take, for example, the Union for Patriotic Congolese (UPC). Just as the ink was drying on the all-inclusive political agreement, this group sprang into the headlines for the worst possible reasons its fight for control of the town of Bunia in northeast Congo.

Part of the problem facing the troops is that there simply are not enough of them for the task, another problem is the fuzzy mandate they have been handed:

The United Nations force in Congo (Monuc) of about 4000 does not have the capacity to deal effectively with the complex situation… A ceiling of 8000 troops has been authorised for Monuc but the UN has struggled to find nations willing to contribute. Compare this with the 18000-strong UN force sent to Sierra Leone in its civil war. Analysts say it was a simpler scenario there government versus rebels. The Congo conflict was regional and civil.

Monuc has also been hamstrung by its chapter VI mandate that provides for unarmed observers rather than “peace enforcement”. The allure of the Congo job has not been heightened by reports earlier this year of the slaughter of two unarmed UN personnel.

The UN emergency force is vital to contain the situation in Ituri. But its role, and that of a longer-term beefed up Monuc force, needs to be far wider than finding a military solution. It needs to fill the governance gap. It must put in place sustainable structures for maintaining peace and security and must be backed by thorough regional, international and multilateral support measures. Space must be created for the fledgling central government to prove it can be effective.

As long as military issues continue to sideline economic growth and investment in the Congo, and as long as the country is awash with arms and people ready to act as proxies for all comers, nothing much will change.

I’ll post more when I can find more.

Bullshit Headlines

The headline reads:

Ariz. Bishop Says He Hid Abuse Complaints

and the first few lines of the story state:

The Roman Catholic bishop of Phoenix has relinquished some of his authority in an unprecedented agreement with prosecutors that will spare him from indictment on charges of protecting child-molesting priests.

Under the agreement, Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien acknowledged he concealed sex-abuse allegations against priests, Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said Monday.

So why doesn’t the headline really tell you the truth:

Lying Pedophile Enabler Admits Pattern of Corruption and Deceit in An Agreement to Escape Prosecution.

Cuz that is what really happened, you know.

Good Ole Bob

Leave it to Bob Herbert to not understand that people who don’t pay taxes, by definition, can’t get a tax cut.

*** Update ***

According to people I trust in the comments section, I am wrong. There are people who are paying more than payroll tax (8 Million of them) who are not receiving a cut. I want to know if this is from the original bill or due to ‘negotiations’ on the hill.

*** Update #2 ***

I guess I am not the only one ot misunderstand the tax cut. Paul Krugman doesn’t undertsand it either.

The New “New” Vacation Hot Spot

This doesn’t sound like my cup of tea:

Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit group that builds low-cost housing, is opening an unorthodox ”theme park” at its world headquarters this week designed to give tourists a look at the world’s worst slums.

Millard Fuller, founder of the organization, said he expects the Global Village & Discovery Center to attract as many as 70,000 tourists in its first year of operation.

”Essentially, it’s a theme park for poverty housing,” Fuller told Reuters. ”You’ll come out of the center and walk right into a slum. You’ll see the kind of pitiful living conditions so many people in the world have.”

Another Term for The Blog Glossary

First, there was Godwin’s Law. Then there was Jane’s Law. Then Gorejacking. Now, we present you with the newest addition to our glossary:


Pronunciation: ‘frinj-‘bA-ti[ng]
Function: verb
1. To assert that the mainstream of the political left or the political right should answer for the crimes perpetrated by their respective political fringes
2. To claim, without evidence, that a popularly accepted ideology or belief is responsible for acts committed by extremists
3. To argue that dangerous extremism only exists on the side opposite to one’s own political views
4. To contend that political views are illegitimate if held by both the mainstream and the political fringe

Go to a Fearful Symmetry for a complete explanation, including examples.

John Cole, Staunch Ally of the UN

Dean Esmay is right. The tinfoil hat crowd makes me want to defend the UN.

Hidden Meanings

The Winds of Change has a long and very readable series of posts about why the Democrats are in trouble in 2004, and while they bring up many points (some good, some not so good), I think this comment by Kevin Drum goes farther to illustrate why Democrats are in trouble more than anything described by the folks at the Winds of Change. While discussing FCC Deregulation, Kevin states:

Heh, heh, just kidding. See, the problem is that I’m not sure I’m actually opposed to deregulation. There, I said it.

Roughly speaking, here’s where I stand: despite my liberal leanings, my conservative readers will be either surprised or amused (depending on temperament) to hear me say that I’m not especially in favor of government regulation of industry without a compelling reason.

I don’t recall the party of JFK (and that is Kennedy, not Kerry, thank you) beig culturally and politically defined as the anti-business party, yet that is where the Democrats find themselves today, at least rhetorically. All the years of faux-populism, railing against business, and using the class warfare rhetoric has placed the Democrats in a position where even Kevin has to excuse himself and explain- “Hey- even though I am a liberal- I am not overtly and instinctively anti-business.” When a proud member of the supposedly liberal party has to excuse himself for choosing the primacy of the individual over government, of the primacy of private enterprise over heavy-handed government involvement and regulation, it goes a long way to explain some of the problems the Democrats currently have to overcome.

Congo Update

While waiting for the woefully undermanned contingent of UN peacekeepers, at least 100 more people were slaughtered in the Congo:

At least 100 people were massacred at the weekend in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), near the southern tip of Lake Albert, a Ugandan army officer said on Sunday.

A DRC rebel official put the number of dead at more than 250, including about 20 babies.

The killings come in the wake of a spate of massacres in DRC’s Ituri region and amid preparations for a major French-led international force to deploy over the next week in Bunia, Ituri’s capital, to protect civilians.

Ugandan army Brigadier Kale Kaihura said that fighters from Ituri’s majority Lendu ethnic group attacked the rival Hemas “in Kyomya, about 30 kilometres from the Ugandan border, when they realised that withdrawing Ugandan forces, stuck there due to heavy rains, had finally withdrawn.”

Meanwhile, there appears to be no real mandate for the UN contingent, even when it does arrive:

The UN mission in Congo needs a tougher mandate across the board to allow it to keep the peace and help end the world’s deadliest ongoing conflict, a top UN official said.

A robust French-led force is due to start deploying to the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this week after getting the go-ahead from the UN Security Council to end horrific militia killings and cannibalism in the stricken Ituri region.

However, troops from the United Nations Observation Mission in Congo (MONUC) mission elsewhere in Africa’s third biggest country have a mandate which lets them do little but defend themselves. Uruguayan soldiers in Ituri were powerless to stop savage killings – including those of two UN observers.

For more information, make sure you check the Africapundit, and also read this piece in today’s NY Times.

New Book

My father has just completed his book titled Plugged into English: English and language arts activities for the computer lab, and I thought I might do some free advertising for him. If you are a teacher and are looking the following, or if you know of a teacher who has been complaining that you can not think of many activities for your kids, this might be right up your alley. The nice thing about this is that the activities are adaptable enough for other fields, so all teachers might get some use out of it. At any rate, here is the description from Cottonwood Press:

Plugged In to English comes with a CD-ROM that includes all student activities. The activities can be used with either PCs or Macs in any computer lab, using any word processing program. Although the activities are designed for grades 8-adult, many work very well with younger students as well.

Computer Tips for English Teachers
What If Youre Not a Computer Guru?
How Should a Teacher Deal with Internet Safety Issues?
Activities for the Computer Lab

Internet Poems
Collaboration Stories
Computer Freewriting
Judging Web sites
Citing References

To see more, just go to the Cottonwood Press website, and click on either ‘Features’ or ‘New’- you should be able to find the book and more information there.

At any rate, congrats, dad.

And They Wonder…


Two nude female anti-G8 protesters, one with a slogan painted on her back, take to the streets in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Saturday, May 31, 2003. Slogan reads: ‘Shame on G8! Not on me.’ Some 25 naked protesters blocked roads and shouted anti-G8 slogans to protest against the G8 summit in the neighboring Evian, France. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

And they wonder why we don’t take em seriously.

What WMD? What Weapons Violations?

How many more stories like this before the left stops with the incessant “Bush lied to us” chorus that is reaching a crescendo:

British military officers have uncovered an attempt by Saddam Hussein to build a missile capable of hitting targets throughout the Middle East, including Israel, The Telegraph can reveal.

Plans for the surface-to-surface missile were one of the regime’s most closely-guarded secrets and were unknown to United Nations weapons inspectors. Its range of 600 miles would have been far greater than that of the al-Samoud rocket – which already breached the 93-mile limit imposed by the UN on any Iraqi missiles.

Oh- that smoking gun.

Unhinged Liberals, Pt. 3 in an Unending Series

Apparently, if Democrats do not win the next election, and some Democrats did do everything they could to win, it will be as bad as the Germans who stood idly by and let the Jews be slaughtered in Nazi Germany. At least, that is what Janot Reno thinks:

Joanne Goldfarb, of Delray Beach, said she needed just such a pep talk, just such a push to make her feel she can make a difference. That’s why she was in the audience. She’s taking small steps toward becoming an activist.

One part of Reno’s speech, which touched upon issues such as classroom sizes, health care and the criminal justice system, seemed to speak directly to Goldfarb. Reno spoke about visiting the Dachau concentration camp in Germany as a child and learning what had happened.

“I went back and asked my adult German friends, ‘How could you let that happen?’ ” Reno said. “They said, ‘We just stood by.’ ”

She looked right into the the audience and told them that’s why she was there. She had no intention of just standing by.

“And don’t you just stand by,” Reno said.


I Don’t Get It

I am essentially pro-choice- it is the law of the land, and I think it should stay the law of the land. I am however, personally opposed to abortion, and I would never support having one. I do not think that is a moral contradiction (and I refuse to debate the issue- so don’t even try to start with me in the comments)- I am willing to allow people to make the best decisions for themselves.

However, one thing that does frost me is the attitude of NARAL and other Abortion Rights Activists, who seem to think that there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever. Yesterday, the New Hampshire legislature passed a consent bill that requires the following:

Under the bill, at least one parent or legal guardian of a girl under 18 must be notified 48 hours before she has an abortion. They do not have veto power over her decision, however, and she may bypass the parental notification requirement by seeking a judge’s permission or a medical determination that her life in jeopardy.

“We ask children to get their parents’ permission to get their ears pierced, to take an aspirin at school,” Benson told the Associated Press after the vote. “I think this law finally puts all parental notification on the same footing.” Supporters applauded passage of the measure, saying it protects parental rights and could lead to fewer unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Which led to the predictable apocalyptic rhetoric from the NARAL crowd:

Abortion rights supporters, however, argue it deprives young women of their right to privacy and compromises their freedom of choice. The opponents say the measure also could discourage young women from seeking other reproductive health services, such as contraception, and result in unsafe, illegal abortions.

“This is clearly a very troubling time for New Hampshire,” said Laura Thibault, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice America’s local affiliate. “We certainly hope it does not signify the beginning of a trend.”

What is so awful about parents knowing that their child is about to undertake a medical procedure? Why does this strike me as simply common sense to the point that not notifying parents seems almost criminal? There is nothing in this bill that is even an absolute- a judge can ignore the consent depending on the circumstances, and in no case can the parents veto the decision. Why is this such a bad law?

Biden’s Baby

President Bush apparently signed into effect Joe Biden’s baby, the hideous Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy (RAVE) bill. Jacob Sullum comments.

Why I Don’t Trust Government, Part 1228236

My advisor in grad school once told me that you “can give a monkey a hammer, but you can’t be sure he’ll use it on nails.” So it seems with our Justice Department:

The Justice Department has begun using its expanded counterterrorism powers to seize millions of dollars from foreign banks that do business in the United States, creating tensions with the State Department and some allies.

Law enforcement officials say the tool has proven invaluable in seizing ill-gotten money that criminals hide overseas and that was once out of the government’s reach. Under the counterterrorism measures approved by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks, prosecutors are not even required to trace the money back to the target of an investigation.

Officials at the State Department, however, have raised concerns over the practice in part because most of the seizures have involved fraud and money-laundering investigations that are unrelated to terrorism.

Whenever the government wants to expand its powers again, whether it be Clinton after Oklahoma (you remember that power grab) or Ashcroft after 9/11, keep this in mind. Stupid bastards.