Wednesday, September 25, 2002

HOW MANY WAYS does the South China Morning Post suck? The bastards charge you a subscription fee to access stories from their website. And the web site lacks the one redeeming feature of the dead tree version, that you can use it for bird cage liner. Screw that! On the rare occassions that the SCMP has something useful to say, most of their content is reproduced for free at Asia Media, helpfully linked at the right.

The Gweilo Diaries, abetting the theft of intellectual property since 2002.
THE HONG KONG GOVERNMENT has finally unveiled its proposed new laws under Article 23 of the basic law. The contents are troubling and raise deep concerns. The new legislation, drafted at Beijing's command and direction, would impose criminal penalties of up to life imprisonment for treason, secession, subversion, sedition, theft of state secrets and links to foreign political organizations. Hong Kong had delayed proposing such legislation due to "the perceived fragility of confidence in [the] 'one country, two systems'" structure. Perceived?

Hong Kong Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, the strings connecting him to his puppet masters in Beijing clearly visible, justified the new legislation on the grounds that "[i]t is the communities' collective duty to protect national security." While the mainland's Foreign Ministry Spokesman, the scent of sulfur clinging to his clothing, stated that the new legislation was "necessary and would be conducive to the maintenance of social order." Social order being defined as the continuation of the oppressive regime in Beijing.

Despite government insistence to the contrary, the new offenses of secession, subversion and sedition do not require a predicate act of violence, force or threat of force. When questioned about the effect of the provisions, Secretary for Security, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who gives the impression she would happily string us all up were she only given the go-ahead by Beijing, prevaricated -- no surprise to anyone familiar with her -- comparing the laws to purportedly similar legislation in the US and the UK. Of course, the cited US and UK legislation is much narrower. Furthermore, it is limited by the existence of democratic institutions and constitutional limitations (written in the case of the US and unwritten in the UK but supplemented by EU human rights requirements), none of which exist in Hong Kong.

Confronted with a series of hypothetical situations, all currently legal, Ms. Ip was asked whether the new laws would impose criminal liability. Ip managed to avoid giving a straight answer with respect to any of them but, notably, failed to rule out prosecution with respect to a single one. When asked if possession of printed material advocating the independence of Taiwan would constitute "sedition," Ip's reply was "[t]he publication needs to be seditious." Yeah, no shit Regina, and is it? Would an organization that advocated democracy and the elimination of one party rule in the PRC be guilty of subversion? "Subversion does not cover groups that chant slogans only" replied Ip. Well, that certainly clears things up. Would it be unlawful for the media to report on confidential information disclosed by a government source? "It depends upon whether this is protected information." Ahh, I see.

An amazing performance. Ms. Ip speaks in Hong Kong and Mr. Jiang's lips barely move in Beijing.

The truth of the matter is, whether any particular action violates the new law will depend entirely upon whether or not Beijing says it does.

I urge the people of China to do the world a favor and rise up to over-throw the repressive parasites of the Chinese Communist Party and I'd gladly help them do it. Guess what folks? I just committed subversion and sedition in one easy sentence.

Oh shit! Who's that pounding on my door?

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

VERY LIGHT BLOGGING today and tomorrow. I'll try to put up a few links but probably won't have time to compose much original content. I'm speaking at a conference today and am off to Indonesia tomorrow. Once there, I'll post daily observations, although most of what I intend to observe will either come in a Martini glass or be wearing a skirt.

Anyway, bear with me, I know that your repeat traffic must be earned.

UPDATE: So much for "light blogging." As you can see above, duty calls.
ANDREA SEE posts on ethnic concerns in Singapore. Thanks guys, Lord knows we wouldn't want a peaceful, multi-ethnic society in Southeast Asia.
INDONESIAN VICE-PRESIDENT Hamzah Haz is pictured in a Time magazine article shaking hands with Muslim cleric Abubakar Ba'asyir, the reported spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah. Courtesy of So Many Islands So Little Time:

Jemaah Islamiah and Ba'asyir are directly connected to al Qaeda activities in SE Asia according to many SE Asian governments and press reports. According to the Time magazine article, al-Faruq directly tied Ba'asyir to planned terror attacks on American targets and to the Christmas-eve church bombings in Indonesia.

Haz has been outspoken of his support of Ba'asyir and anyone else whose name comes up on the short list of "Muslim" extremists (including the head of Laskar Jihad). Why is this acceptable for a prominent Indonesian politician? Will Indonesian voters punish or promote him in the 2004 elections?

My guess is that, no, they won't punish him. Haz knows the audience he is playing to and has counted the votes.
REPORT TO RECOMMEND more politcal freedom in Singapore:

The Singapore government is weighing up a comprehensive report that suggests the country's political system falls far short of best practices commonly adopted elsewhere.

The paper, prepared by a nine-member independent panel, said that the electoral system needed to be more transparent, that media coverage was "less than impartial" and citizens perceived the political playing field as favouring the ruling People's Action Party (PAP).

Both the report and the willingness of ministers to accommodate its controversial contents have thrown the country's authoritarian political system under the spotlight.

Viswa Sadasivan, a local businessman who chaired the study, wrote: "To us, how the government responds to this paper will give a measure of its commitment to further developing a political system based on accepted - and practical - principles of fairness and democracy and its sincerity in wanting genuine and well-intentioned feedback."

I harbor a tremendous amount of goodwill towards Singapore's former president Lee Kuan Yew. He took an impoverished citystate, beset by communist aggitators, with no natural resources but its harbor, and created a modern, vibrant, multi-ethnic, society. Singapore has avoided nearly all of the ethnic and religious strife that has plagued Indonesia, Malaysia, and other surrounding countries. Lee's achievements are remarkable, would have, I believe, been impossible at the time, absent the benign authoritarianism he established, and make him one of the truly great political figures of the 20th century.

But the time to loosen has come. The populace is educated, middle class and responsible. They are ready for real democracy. Lee and his political heirs will be rightly judged on their willingness to relinquish their grip on the reins of power. A positive legacy hangs in the balance.
GEORGIA FOR IRAQ: If this is true, it's disgraceful.

Monday, September 23, 2002

IRAQ AND NORTH KOREA may already have nuclear weapons according to this and this. Come on Iran, you're not going to be allowed to remain in the axis-of-evil unless you start pulling your weight.

BTW, Asia Times rocks! I don't always agree with its conclusions but it is a fantastic source for Asian news and commentary not seen elsewhere. Charles at Little Green Footballs agrees.
BLOGROLLING: skippy the bush kangaroo gives us a caps free plug today so I'll return the favor. This post is absolutely hilarious. Although, I gotta admit, he kinda lost me on the earlier photo thing.

BTW skippy, I'm not the raving righty you'd imagine from my recent posts. I promise to go on a good lefty rant against Hong Kong security chief and Beijing puppet Regina Ip (my all time favorite target and an evil harridan from hell) soon. I'm simply waiting for her to do something particularly eggregious . . . and, as surely as the sun comes up in the morning, she will.

UPDATE: That didn't take long, did it?
US SENATOR ROBERT BYRD, the longest serving member of the Senate at age 86, is showing signs of senile dementia. In a floor speech on Friday Byrd said:

"This administration, all of a sudden, wants to go to war with Iraq," Byrd said. "The [political] polls are dropping, the domestic situation has problems. . . . So all of a sudden we have this war talk, war fervor, the bugles of war, drums of war, clouds of war.

"Don't tell me that things suddenly went wrong. Back in August, the president had no plans. . . . Then all of a sudden this country is going to war," Byrd told the Senate on Friday.

Well, yeah Senator, things did go "suddenly wrong" after August. Airplanes, towers, thousands dead, September 11. . . . Does any of this ring a bell?

Back in March of last year James Minton urged Byrd to "retire with dignity." Too late.
R. NELSON E-MAILS me to advise me that I am "just another stupid, bigoted, reactionary, jerk-off." Jerk-off?!? Damn, I've got to remember to close the curtains.
WILL SOMEBODY please slap this evil bitch!
STUPID TERRORIST TRICKS: Terrorists in Jakarta, Indonesia attempted a grenade attack this morning, targeting a residence owned by the US embassy. Of course, being Indonesia, the home was vacant and the grenade went off prematurely in the attackers' car, killing one badguy. Local residents were awakend by the explosion and set off in hot pursuit of the surviving terrorists who attempted to flee but lost control of their car, crashing into a concrete curb. The driver was captured. Three suspects remain at large.

UPDATE: The US embassy in Jakarta has announced that it is not certain whether the attack targeted embassy owned property after all. This is only moderately reassuring. The foreign service officers in Jakarta take win, place and show in the international clueless diplomat sweepstakes. If there is any US embassy in the world with less understanding and insight into the country in which it is located, I sincerely hope I never have occassion to encounter it. The consular officers in the US embassy in Hanoi, however, get a well earned honorable mention.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

AN EXTRAORDINARY and damning indictment of Hong Kong's present leadership and future propects.

Last month, Japan's Fuji television network closed its bureau in Hong Kong. "There's no news," Fuji explained.

That statement came as a terrible blow to all of us who lived through the glory days when Hong Kong seemed to be the center of the universe, before the return to Chinese sovereignty and the concurrent regional economic crash in July 1997. But Fuji was wrong: there's plenty of news in Hong Kong - it's just all bad.

The mess over delisting so-called penny stocks, and the subsequent report whitewashing the disaster, is the latest illustration of how Hong Kong's great and good are hastening its decline into irrelevance.

[. . . .]

Tough measures on [corporate] governance wouldn't fly in Hong Kong, where price manipulation is a fact of trading life and controlling shareholders exploit minority investors with impunity (and with regulators' implicit endorsement, since they fail to take steps to prevent abuses).

[. . . .]

The penny-stock fiasco is a textbook example of "non-positive interventionism". If other government measures to improve the economy are as poorly conceived and clumsily executed - and then as easily excused - as this debacle, Hong Kong's economy, its standing as an international city, and its reputation as a safe harbor for investment may never recover.

And Fuji TV may regret its decision to pull out and miss the upcoming disaster footage.
A GOOD OLE BOY explains it all.
CLAIRE SHORT recommends we deal with Saddam Hussein by thinking about him.

"We should be ready to impose the will of the United Nations on them if they (Iraq) don't co-operate, but not by hurting the people of Iraq. Each one of them is as precious as the 3,000 people in the twin towers. We can't sacrifice them to putting it right. We have to find a way of making Saddam Hussein know he's got to obey the UN. We know that he has in the past played games with the UN enormously. We've got to have remedies that will hit him and the elite and not the people and I think we need more thinking about that," the British Minister stated.

Ms. Short actually believes that nonsense like this constitutes reasoning. She concedes (elsewhere in her remarks) that Saddam is a threat and is striving to obtain nuclear and other horrific weapons. However, she refuses to take any action likely to be effective for fear of hurting Iraqis. I'm really sorry that innocent Iraqis are going to suffer and die in the process of uprooting the evil ones who mean us harm. However, make no mistake, if it comes down to a choice between innocent Iraqis suffering or innocent Americans/Europeans/Asians/Middle-easterners/Africans -- what have you -- then I pick the Iraqis. There are more than 20 million people in Iraq. There is one Saddam Hussein. If the Iraqi people were truly committed to his removal, he'd be gone tomorrow. Apparently they aren't. That's their choice. But choices have consequences. In this case, one of the consequences is, sadly, that some of them will die.

UPDATE: It may be an entirely logical choice too. The Iraqi people may well have concluded -- although probably not consciously -- that, while they'd prefer to be without Saddam, the casualties they would incur in removing him in a popular uprising exceed those likely to be inflicted by a US attack. I suspect that calculation is correct. It therefore makes sense for them to let the US do the job for them.
GERMAN JUSTICE MINISTER Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, who compared Bush policies to those of Adoph Hitler, will resign . . . or maybe not.

UPDATE: She's gone. And Schroeder's hypocrisy in canning her is breathtaking. In his tepid, non-apology to Bush, Schroeder backed Daeubler-Gmelin's denial that she ever made the Hitler reference. Now he fires her. Whassup with that? Simple, he wanted to use her anti-American rhetoric to help him gather votes in the East. Now that the election is over and he has the votes, he wants to use her firing to placate Washington. Nothing doing you bastard! You made your bed, now lay in it.
THE INDONESIAN House of Representatives has delayed endorsing a controversial new press law in the face of mounting criticism. The bill would grant authority to an independent commission, whose members are elected by the House, to revoke TV and radio licenses and impose sanctions on them without court approval. The delay does not kill the legislation and the House can be expected to seek its enactment in the future.

Indonesia is at a crossroads in its democratic development and no one seems to be noticing.
CHINA SENTENCES 15 Falun Gong members to prison terms of up to 20 years.
NO POSTING this weekend due to a poisonous hang-over.

Friday, September 20, 2002

A NEW LINK to Tony the Teacher. This is who is shaping Australia's impressionable young minds?!?
YOU WOULD THINK that the last person to compare George W. Bush to Adolph Hitler would be a freakin' German. . . . Talk about Chutzpah. German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin may not be familiar with that concept. Perhaps she should ask Germany's Jewish population. Oh yeah, I forgot, they killed them all.
I'VE BEEN REMISS in blogging today. I had a client with a legal crises call just as I was mixing the drink referred to in the post below. The crazy things those kids will do. Note to readers: if you have a question about the terms of a contract, the time to call your lawyer is before, not after, you sign it.

I've got a date tonight and will catch up tomorrow. In the interim, here's a pair of stories on Article 23. To be fair, there were reassuring words from the government today in the dead-tree version of the SCMP, but I can't find the story on its web site.

UPDATE: here's the missing story, found on Asia Media.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

A BANNER DAY for Gene Expression. Razib Z gets snarky with teachers, bringing to mind the observation that anyone who doesn't know what's wrong with America's public schools never shagged an Education major in college, and posts the single most useful link in the history of the blogosphere. Then Godless offers a suggestion which I intend to address here, just as soon as I've changed clothes and poured myself a double Bookers on the rocks.

You guys are rolling today.
TODAY'S E-MAIL includes six, count-em six, solicitations for penile enlargement. I'm not sure how I ended up on this particular mailing list, indeed I'd rather not think about it, but I would truly appreciate being removed before I develop a complex resulting in performance anxiety. Now where's that url for Viagra online. . . .

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

SKIPPY THE BUSH KANGAROO apparently thinks that the US is not a free country. He's a little vague (actually, he's completely obscure) as to why he thinks this, but as evidence he cites the treatment of two women who yesterday unfurled banners, protesting US policy towards Iraq, in the midst of Donald Rumsfeld's congressional testimony. The women were politely escorted from the building and released. The last I saw of them they were chatting happily on the front steps with the assembled media. The horror!

Actually Skippy, THIS is what happens to folks who unfurl protest banners in an unfree country.
SECRET Al QAEDA training video discovered.
TONY AT AFTER GROG BLOG is extremely pleased with himself, having figured out how to create a link. Now if he'd only freakin' write something. . . .
SCOTT RITTER takes employment with the City of New York.

US Roman Catholic bishops question the legitimacy of an attack on Iraq:

America's Roman Catholic bishops have told President Bush they have grave reservations about a unilateral U.S. strike against Iraq and urged him to use the United Nations to pressure Saddam Hussein for change.

Actually, Your Eminences, it would be immoral not to remove Saddam Hussein.

Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, acknowledged in a statement Tuesday that Iraq posed a threat, but said it would be difficult to justify a pre-emptive attack under Catholic teachings on warfare.

So, 18 months from now, how will Catholic teachings on warfare justify having permitted a terrorist bio-weapons attack on New York or a nuclear strike against Israel? The truth is that Saddam's past conduct, his present oppression and his drive to acquire W.O.M.D., place an attack on Iraq well within the Catholic "just war" doctrine.

Last November, the bishops overwhelmingly backed the United States' right to use military force against terrorists in Afghanistan as part of a broader foreign policy protecting human rights and easing poverty.

So, what's the difference now Padres?

But in a letter Gregory said he delivered personally to National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, he wrote, "we believe Iraq is a different case," because of the potential to cause greater harm than good by possibly destabilizing the Mideast and killing civilians.

Excuse me, Wilt (Can I call you Wilt? After all, it beats "Posturing Dip-shit."), "destabilization of the Mideast," assuming for the sake of argument that would be a bad thing, is a purely political consideration and not your concern. The killing of civilians is, admittedly, a moral issue. But, the very same risk existed in the Afghanistan conflict which you admit you supported.

"We find it difficult to justify extending the war on terrorism to Iraq, absent clear and adequate evidence of Iraqi involvement in the attacks of Sept. 11 or of an imminent attack of a grave nature." [Gregory] wrote.

An attack of "a grave nature"??? To quote Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men -- is there another kind?

Stick to the God business Padre and leave foreign policy to those who know what they're doing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

GERMAN CHANCELLOR Gerhard Schroeder claims that Iraq's offer to permit the return of UN weapons inspectors validates his opposition to threats of military action. Uh, excuse me Gerhard, why exactly do you think Saddam made this offer?

Meanwhile, further evidence that the entire European continent has gone completely fucking insane, as French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin says that the international community "must take Saddam at his word."
GOT MILK? Australian company intends to sell alcoholic milk drinks under the brand name "Moo Joose."
ILLINOIS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE admits to trying marijuana in his youth but "can't remember" if he inhaled.

Yeah, he must have been stoned at the time.
EVIDENCE THAT INDONESIA is beginning to address its history of anti-Chinese discrimination. A positive sign but, in light of not so distant events, there is still a long, long way to go.
THE HEAD OF THE BEIJING LIASION OFFICE in Hong Kong, insists that the SAR's enactment of anti-subversion laws under Article 23 of the Basic Law will not infringe on the freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong. (link requires registration) All well and good, but then he added that "[a]s Chinese citizens, the people in Hong Kong should endeavour for [our] national security."

Not very reassuring when one considers what the Mainland thugs deem to be threats to China's national security.
NORTH KOREAN DICTATOR Kim Jong Il admits that his country abducted Japanese citizens. He promises that those responsible will be punished.

What is he going to do? Dig up his father and give him a swift kick in the ass?

Monday, September 16, 2002

BUT THEY DIDN'T STAY BOUGHT: The Governer of Jakarta, former General Sutiyoso, was re-elected to another 5-year term by the city parliament last week despite wide-spread allegations of incompetence and corruption. His opponent, Mahfudz Djaelani, protested, claiming that the election was bought. His evidence -- Mahfudz claims that he thought that he had bought the election, having paid for the votes of 40 of the 84 legislators. When the ballots were cast and he only received 3 votes, Muhfudz concluded he had been "out bribed."

Governer Sutiyoso denies knowledge of any impropriety, but he didn't help his case when, upon learning that he had received 47 votes, exclaimed "What! There were supposed to be 49 votes for me."

Mahfudz now demands a refund stating "[i]f don't get the goods, then I want the money back or I will reveal their names."
ROBERT GO of Singapore's Straits Times apparently believes that high tariffs and protectionism are sound economic policy. Used economics textbooks can be forwarded to Mr. Go care of his newspaper.
MARK HELPRIN takes Bush to task on the "War on Terror." Helprin is smart, insightful and wrong. Bush will have the bases, the air support and the manpower necessary to defeat Iraq decisively. The remaining culprits will be dealt with in due course.
SINGAPORE ARRESTS 21 AL-QAIDA SUSPECTS: 21 terrorist suspects linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah organization, who's leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, is based in Indonesia, have been arrested in Singapore. Singaporian authorities previously requested that Indonesia arrest Bashir, but were refused on the grounds that Indonesia has no evidence against him. Indeed, disgraced Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives and Golkar party chairman, Akbar Tandjung, made a public display of meeting with Bashir. It seems likely that one or more of the detainees will give evidence linking Bashir to terrorism. The Indonesian government's reaction will be interesting and, sadly, predictable.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

THE LATEST STEP in the English legal system's criminalization of the right of self-defense:

Times of London -- A FATHER-OF-TWO who stabbed a “career criminal” to death with a bread knife after finding him burgling his family’s home was found guilty of manslaughter yesterday.

Barry-Lee Hastings, 25, shook his head and fought back tears as an Old Bailey jury cleared him of murder but found him guilty of killing Roger Williams.

Hastings, who was remanded in custody to be sentenced next month, faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Amid cries from his family in the public gallery, Hastings shouted “look after the kids” to his estranged wife Nicola.

She replied “love you” before he was led away to the cells.

This, of course, brings to mind the Tony Martin case, where an English farmer whose rural home had been repeatedly broken into was convicted of murder for shooting and killing a burglar. The current state of affairs England is that the private ownership of firearms is prohibited, police response times are pathetically slow, conviction rates for property crimes are low, sentences are absurdly lenient and self defense is a punishable offense. The result, burglary, including burglary of occupied dwellings, is at epidemic proportions.

The old common law designated burglary of a dwelling place as a capital offense because of the risk of confrontation with and harm to the occupants. I hope to pass through life without ever taking the life of another. However, were an intruder to illegally enter my home while I was present, I would damned sure err on the side of self-preservation. Multiply that exponentially were I to have a wife and/or children in the house.

I once had an intruder enter my apartment in the middle of the night while myself and my girlfriend were sleeping. It turned out to be an extremely drunken college student who mistook my apartment for his own and, when his key didn't work, thought it a good idea to climb in the open window. That young man came very, very close to getting shot. Not because I am trigger happy or blood thirsty but because it is an extremely frightening situation where there is little opportunity to debate one's options. I am extremely thankful that no one was hurt, but had it not been quickly apparent that there was no danger, I would have fired and would, I believe, have been perfectly justified in doing so.
GOD GAVE YOU EYES, plagiarize. The following is stolen, lock stock and barrel from the blog A Dog's Life:

A GOVERNMENT UNWORTHY OF ITS PEOPLE... Enough bloggers from the Great North have already had their say about the idiotic comments of their Prime Minister, Jean Crétin (sic). Nothing further from me is needed.

Listening to the stupid things that the Canadian chattering classes say about the war, it is easy for Americans to forget the courage and fortitude shown by Canada and Canadians in the two World Wars. A country large in size but small in population gave its sons unstintingly in the fight against tyranny. From the slaughter of the Newfoundlanders on the first day of the Somme, to Vimy Ridge, to Passchendaele, to the Canal du Nord, to the ghastly raid on Dieppe, to the desperate fight in the hedgerows of Normandy, to the brave sailors and pilots who kept supplies and troops moving across the Atlantic, the valor of Canadian arms will be eternally written in letters of glory.

But will there be anyone left who can read them? I came across this remarkable story, wherein the Canadian defence minister was unable to place or name correctly Canada's most notable battles:

Last week John McCallum, Canada's Minister of National Defence, stood on the beaches of Dieppe, France, to mark the 60th anniversary of one of the most disastrous battles in our military history. In doing so, he made modern political history by admitting that he had no idea what he was doing. He frankly conceded, that until the previous week, he had never heard of the battle of Dieppe.

Since then, our number one military man has been publicly pilloried by veterans, politicians and bemused historians. Mr. McCallum then decided to use an offensive manoeuvre and respond to critics in a letter to the editor of this paper. Wise tactic -- but he sustained huge losses when he mistakenly compared the Dieppe battle to "Vichy" (the Nazi capital of occupied France) rather than to "Vimy [Ridge]," the site of Canada's most famous battle in the First World War.

O Canada! You're a great nation and a great people. Despite disagreements of detail, I think you and us Americans understand the enemy that threatens us. How did you fall in the clutches of morons like these as your ministers?
DISGRACED INDONESIAN Speaker of the House of Representatives, Akbar Tandjung, refuses calls to resign despite his conviction on corruption charges.
All IS NOT WELL in Afghanistan. From the The Spectator:

[M]uch of the country remains in the grip of simmering anarchy. In Khost the armed gangs of rival warlords continue to clash sporadically, and while we were there a bomb went off in the marketplace, injuring 13 people. The target was a newly opened video shop regarded by Islamic extremists as a source of Western decadence. The explosion left a slew of cassette boxes of Hollywood action movies and Bollywood musicals spilling into the street.

Here as elsewhere, American military power has destroyed the Taleban administration and scattered al-Qa’eda, but a deep wellspring of Islamic rancour remains, fed also by Pashtun resentment at what they see as the usurpation of power by their Tajik ethnic rivals, who hold most of the key positions in the new government. It is a poisonous brew, and there are now signs that something sinister and damaging may be starting to emerge from it. Experts from the International Security Assistance Force who examined the remains of the car bomb which killed 26 people in Kabul were impressed by its sophistication. It was command-detonated by radio and was set off after a smaller bomb had drawn onlookers to the scene. Significantly it resembled another large car bomb which was intercepted in Kabul in July after the driver was involved in a traffic accident. That bomb, it has now been established, was driven in from the Khost region.

A key question is whether the car bombs are linked to the attempt to assassinate President Hamid Karzai during his visit to the former Taleban stronghold of Kandahar. That attack has visibly punctured growing American complacency over the results of their Afghan campaign, for, had the gunman’s aim been truer, the war against terror would have been derailed at a stroke. It was presumably at Washington’s urging that Karzai cancelled much of his schedule and flew to the United States earlier than planned. This unseemly haste at least ensured that America’s choice of Afghan leader would not be murdered before or during the commemoration of 11 September.

Karzai’s life was probably saved by his team of American bodyguards, who fired through the window of their car, killing the would-be assassin as well as an Afghan soldier and a civilian bystander. However, the permanent presence at Karzai’s side of these self-confident foreigners draped with weapons and communications gear may in the end do almost as much harm as good. The visiting Iranian President, Said Mohammed Khatami, was apparently astonished to find armed Americans at his photocall with Karzai; and such sights can easily feed the ingrained xenophobia of much of the Afghan population, which amid its privations has always drawn comfort from a proud tradition of driving out the foreign invader.

If bin Laden is still alive, there is fertile ground for him to furrow and, despite his disappearance, there is no doubting his residual power. The evidence of the last week is that bombers and assassins, like the mediaeval hashshashin, are still ready to do what they perceive as his bidding. President Bush has failed to get his man ‘dead or alive’ and now wishes to change the subject to Iraq. But the old man of the Afghan mountains may not be so easy to forget.

Worrisome. But it doesn't change the fact that the man himself is dead.
MORE THAN 100 DEAD from poisoned food in Nanjing China according to the South China Morning Post (link requires registration). Apparently the food was contaminated with rat poison. The government, predictably, is trying to down-play the incident:

On the Web site of the People's Daily, some readers expressed their frustration on a bulletin board. "So many people are dead, but the TV channels are all putting on a show of happiness. Do the news people have no sense of responsibility or pity?" said one.

Silly question, we're talking about the Chinese government here, of course they don't.
I LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER: That screeching sound you hear is the despicable House of Saud desperately trying to shift into reverse gear before it is too late. The Saudi kleptocrats have done everything in their power to thwart an American attack on Saddam Hussein. They failed. Bush's ultimatum to the UN was a masterstroke. A removal of the Iraqi dictator is now a foregone conclusion and the Saudi parasites know it. Now this:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The Saudi foreign minister said Sunday the kingdom would be ``obliged to follow through'' if the United States needed bases in the kingdom to attack Iraq under U.N. authority.

The comments to CNN by Prince Saud al-Faisal would mark a dramatic change in Saudi policy. In an interview last month with The Associated Press, Saud declared that U.S. facilities in the desert kingdom would be off limits for an attack on Iraq.

When asked by CNN specifically if Saudi bases would be available to Washington, Saud said: ``Everybody is obliged to follow through.''

Now that an American orchestrated regime change is inevitable, the Saudi princes, with their own survival at stake, desperately want to be in a position to influence its replacement. Too late boys. The US will use Saudi bases and then (I hope) do as it pleases in Iraq. The House of Saud will have no choice but to accept US policy and pretend to concur. The alternative is to be seen by the restless Saudi population as weak, ineffective and manipulated by the US. They simply cannot be seen this way and hope to survive -- not with a newly liberated Iraq on its border as an example of an alternative. Unfortunately for the Sauds, none of this matters. They are toast. After Iraq, the Iranian people will effect their own regime change. And after Iran come the Sauds. After that, its a pick-em whether Arafat or the boy Assad goes next. But go they will, every God damned, miserable one of them. Fresh deposits on the ash-heap of history.
OSAMA BIN LADEN is still dead:

OSAMA bin Laden's supporters say the al-Qaeda leader is dead.

Shahid Ayan, who was hiding in Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountains with bin Laden during United States air raids in December, said the terrorist chief died 10 months ago.

"Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead, but the jihad will continue until Judgment Day," he told United Arab Emirates newspaper Al Bayan.

Shahid said that late on December 10 – "the 24th night of Ramadan" – there were "some scary explosions" in the area where bin Laden's cave was located.

"The cave was completely erased from the ground and became nothing," he said.
WOULD YOU ALLOW your daughter to take this job?

"Administrative tasks," I haven't heard it called that before.
INDONESIA's State Minister for Women's Empowerment Affairs, Sri Redjeki Soemarjoto, is calling for the police to "throughly investigate" those responsible for smuggling Indonesian women to Malaysia for prostitution, says the Jakarta Post. Only one problem -- the police control the trafficking of women from Java and Sulawesi. I find it hard to believe that a government minister doesn't know this while I do.
GODLESS CAPITALIST of the blog Gene Expression forwards an article on a subect near and dear to the hearts of all of us here in Asia -- inter-racial relationships. E-mail me with any thoughts. In the meantime, I'm off to research the subject by having lunch with a pretty Vietnamese girl.

UPDATE: Do not e-mail me to tell me that the bible forbids race-mixing or to condemn fraternizing with "mud-people." I will respond by telling you that you are an idiot and adding your name to the bozo-filter.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

ARAB MUSLIMS in New York and New Jersey may have had advance knowledge of the September 11 attack. Nope, I'm not buying it. This simple doesn't pass the "smell test." But, if true, what does this say about the competence of the FBI/CIA?
TIM BLAIR Fisks Fisk.

Friday, September 13, 2002

NEW LINK: I just found a new blog, Gene Expression (via Instapundit) that I've added to the links. I've only skimmed through it and, frankly, am not quite sure what the hell it is yet. But its well written (yeah, I know, we could use a little of that here), entertaining and contains some interesting and unexpected links. Which leads to an observation, the phrase "information revolution" is not just so much hype. Its real and this is it. The range and quality to be found in the blogosphere -- for free, mind you -- is truly amazing. Its also humbling. I am either going to have to devote significantly more time, effort and creativity to making this site something worth reading on a regular basis, or else shut it down. There are too many bloggers doing what I am doing now, and doing it far better.
WARREN ZEVON has terminal cancer. That sucks! The world is about to become a less interesting place.
INDONESIA A MODEL ISLAMIC SOCIETY: In an interview with The Jakarta Post Professor Bassam Tibi of Gottingen University in Germany, said that Indonesia could become the prototype of a democratic Islamic nation.

"The mainstream of Islam in Indonesia is not scriptural and the popular face of Islam here is flexible. I believe Indonesia may be able to come to terms with modernity better than other Muslim nations, like Egypt,"

Hopeful but, unfortunately, Tibi overlooks the threat posed by the lack of economic prospects in the country. Indonesians face the same problem that has driven radicalism throughout the Muslim world. True, Indonesia isn't authoritarian like its Muslim counterparts in the Middle East, but its government is utterly corrupt and unresponsive to the legitimate aspirations of its citizens. The end result is the same, poverty and frustration. The key to eradicating Islamic fundamentalism is hope. Faced with the certainty of a bleak future, surrounded by a kleptocracy of elites and with no prospects of influencing change, I am not as optimistic about Indonesia's future as Tibi.

I’ve been reading reactions to the President’s UN speech, and I’m amused at how people don’t seem to get it. Oh, now he’s being a multilateralist? Now he believes in the UN? No. That speech was the equivalent of that fabled kung-fu move that removes your opponent's heart and shows it to you, just before you crumple. It’s of a piece with the administration’s behavior since 9/11: Let all the carpers and obstructionists gather on the tip of the thinnest branch, then show up with a saw and announce they have five minutes to come hug the trunk, which incidentally is covered with sap and stinging ants. It was sheer malicious brilliance to cast the entire case in terms of UN resolutions, because it mean the UN had to chose: either those resolutions mean something, or the UN means nothing. Why, it's almost as if the UN painted itself into a corner - and woke up to find this rude simple cowboy holding the brush. How the hell did he do that?
ANDREW SULLIVAN gives a proper Fisking to Susan Sontag. Its like shooting fish in a barrel really, but even that can be entertaining if, as here, the fish is shot accurately and with style.
JAKE VAN DER KAMP gets it exactly right regarding the Hong Kong currency peg. God help us if Mr. Tung and his cronies get control of the currency.
PARANOIA STRIKES DEEP: Indonesians see Wednesday's closing of the US Embassy in Jakarta as part of a US plot against their country.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER Jean Chertien blames the West for September 11, wishes we were poorer and longs for the days of the Soviet empire. It's depressing that such a vacuous moral pygmy can rise to lead a nation. Fortunately its only Canada, so its not like it really matters.
ITS OFFICIAL: South Florida voters too stupid for democracy.
I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP: Misty Clymer, Rebekah Revels? Words fail me.
ASSHOLE: A Belgian film director used the anniversary of the 11 September attacks to audition actors to play Osama Bin Laden in a new movie. Rob Van Eyck is making a "black comedy" in which Bin Laden seeks asylum in Belgium before becoming European Union Commission President. Van Eyck admits that his choice of dates was a publicity stunt which he defends thusly:

"It's not pleasant for the Americans, but every day people are killed in attacks."

Van Eyck went on to accuse Americans of being "incapable of laughing at themselves."

Yeah, come to think of it Rob, those bodies falling from the upper floors of the WTC were a riot.
IN HINDSIGHT I may have been a little too harsh on the 9/11 observances yesterday. I still don't care for the sentimentality and I think they lacked sufficient dignity and gravitas. The British ceremony at St. Paul's was more to my taste -- but that's what it comes down to I guess, taste. I'm an American, despite my foreign mother and my many years spent outside the US. But those things do have an effect and, though I am an American, I'll never fit entirely comfortably among my countrymen. There will are and will always be aspects of American life and culture from which I will be estranged. Besides, the Brits have much older and deeper traditions to fall back on and furthermore, their detachment was easier, it wasn't their country or their countrymen who were attacked. And compared to the mawkish excesses when Princess Diana was killed, Americans were models of restraint and stoicism yesterday.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

9/11 OBSERVANCES: Watching the September 11th anniversary memorial services I find myself uneasy and disappointed. The mawkish sentimentality, to me at least, strikes the wrong note. I don't want mourning, closure or introspection. By God, I want vengeance. I want examples made, evil eradicated, wrong-doers punished. Its a symptom of our age I suppose. But I'd be willing to bet serious money that there weren't readings of names and speeches by victims family members twelve months after Pearl Harbor. We were too damn busy beating the hell out of the Japanese . . . and the Germans . . . and the Italians. The continued arrogance of the Saudis, the kibitzing of the EUnuchs, the atrocities of the Palestinians, the existence of Sadam Hussein, all demonstrate that we are a changed people in the last 60 years. And not, in important ways, for the better.

UPDATE: Great minds think alike, or fools never differ -- Jennifer Haper says the same thing, only better in the Washington Times (via Drudge).

UPDATE: I knew it!
STOP THE PRESSES: Politician does honest day's work. Note the location. But again, it could have happened anywhere. . . .
NO AUSSIE JOKES. It could have happened anywhere. Really.
LESSONS LEARNED: What lesson did the FBI learn in the Richard Jewel case? Apparently, to judge by their conduct in the Steven Hatfill investigation, that they could get away with it.
BIN LADEN IS DEAD. This latest tape proves it. If the man is alive he has two logical choices (1) remain silent and underground to keep the US guessing as to his status and whereabouts (at least until another major terrorist attack gives him a grand stage upon which to emerge) or (2) make a defiant public statement to rally the faithful and demonstrate US "impotence." Recordings like the one at the link, that may not be him at all and, if it is, could have been recorded at anytime, serve no useful purpose and, indeed, are counter-productive in that they keep the search alive in exchange for little gain. This is the best Al Qaeda can do -- a desperate attempt to obscure the truth. If bin Laden was available to make a recording, they'd have released it rather than this ambiguious thing we have now. The man was roasted alive in an Afgan cave -- a fitting end considering what eternity doubtless has in store for him.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

THERE IS A TYPHOON alert in Hong Kong today. The city is shutting down the sky is dark and the wind is howling. A far more fitting memorial to 9/11, in my estimation, than the "peace gathering" that was scheduled for today.
JANET RENO is reportedly considering challenging Florida election results. Jesus Christ, don't any of that lot (1) know how to lose with grace or (2) learn from experience?
A BRITISH LEFTIST condemns anti-Americanism.
APOLOGIES for the silence over the past few days. I managed to come down with a case of Dengue Fever, most likely picked up in Thailand or Indonesia. Christ what a miserable experience!
THERE'S NO FOOL LIKE AN OLD FOOL: Nelson Mandela seems to think that the Soviet puppet regime in Afghanistan was "moderate", the United States is a threat to world peace and that Saddam Hussein black. Very sad, I've had a great deal of respect for the man but this is either base demagoguery or abject stupidity.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

TIM BLAIR moves to the top of my list of links for giving The Gweilo Diaries its first blogosphere link. Only a week of whoring for plugs and I've arrived. Thanks Dude.
WOW: Now that's a rant.
OH DUDE, YOU'RE GOING TO HELL! A US man left a strip show on Sunday, abducted 2 nuns, raped and sodomized them both and then strangled one of them to death using her own rosary beads. I think he'll be needing his asbestos water skis when he takes his eternal vacation on the lake of fire.
EUROPEANS SAY U.S. PARTLY AT FAULT FOR 9/11: According to a survey published in the Financial Times --

"A majority of Europeans think that US foreign policy is partially to blame for the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. . . . 55 per cent of respondents from six European countries agreed that US policy had contributed to the attacks." and that "a mere 10 per cent of Europeans would support US military action in Iraq without backing from the UN and allies"

The poll also found that and that "65 per cent of Europeans said that the European Union should become a superpower similar to the US." This is presumably to be achieved by waving a magic wand (or more likely, issuing an EU directive) since the EUnuchs have conclusively demonstrated their unwillingness to expend the resources, make the commitments or take the risks necessary to accomplish this pipe dream.

In a related survey, it was revealed today that 100% of the people writing this blog don't give a fuck what the Europeans think.

UPDATE: The survey was conducted by Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the German Marshall Fund of the United States. So, apparently not only can't the EUnuchs pay for their own defense, they must also rely upon the US to conduct their polling for them.
HOW THE YAKUZA IS SURVIVING THE RECESSION: Diversifying, restructuring and redundancies in the Japanese mafia.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

THE STUPIDEST STATEMENT TO COME FROM JOHANNESBURG: Quite a competition. Like anointing the largest star in the universe or the prettiest snowflake in Antarctica -- the number and quality of the contenders threatened to overwhelm. Just as I was prepared to abandon the search, one jackass emerged head and shoulders (or tail and hindquarters) above the rest. Here's Gar Smith representing something called the Earth Island Institute:

"I don't think…electricity is a good thing. There is a lot of quality to be had in poverty. The electrification of the Third World is destroying hundreds of worthy cultures."

Stupid, racist, condescending and evil -- all at the same time. Smith is prepared to consign millions of our brown brothers to life without refrigerated food, telecommunications, computers, air-conditioning, modern medicine and CNN -- in other words disease, death, boredom and ignorance. Let's all head over to Gar's house, cut his main power line and see exactly how long it takes him to call the electric company demanding service.

Smith went on to say that "you can't really have poverty unless you have wealthy people on the scene," answering the age-old question, will a starving child in Africa make a sound if Bill Gates isn't around to hear him?


It gets better/worse, but you'll have to read it yourself -- as my ex-girlfriend used to say "its done my head in."

UPDATE: If you want a realistic insight into the quality of life without electricity, read the first volume of Cato's Lyndon Johnson biography, in which he discussed the "sad irons." It's been 15 years since I read it and the bleak landscape it painted is still clear in my mind.
THE PROMISED BANGKOK FIELD NOTES are coming. Honestly. Really. No, I mean it.
I ARRIVED IN HONG KONG LATE last night and turned on CNN to catch up on all the news I missed during my 4 days of hedonism. I figured I'd last 5 minutes and stumble into bed in pursuit of some much needed sleep. I was mistaken. Excerpts from Mugabe's Johannesburg speech were being aired. Jesus wept! The combination of arrogance, stupidity, dishonesty, immaturity, false bravado, totalitarianism, nihilism and disregard for human life was staggering. Like driving by a horrible car-wreck, I simply couldn't look away. Just when I thought it was as bad as it could get, CNN informed me that the speech was met with massive applause by representatives from the third world.

I found myself thinking back to my law-school days, when I was younger and considerably more idealistic/stupid than I am today. I spent a semester as a Legal Aid volunteer. Actually, I spent about a month and quit, disillusioned and disgusted, realizing that the clients didn't need a lawyer, they needed a swift kick in the ass. Nearly every problem I encountered was self-inflicted. Caused by an incomprehensible combination of self-indulgence, blindness to seemingly obvious consequences, and non-existent impulse control. Indeed, the last thing these clients needed were free lawyers to protect them from the consequences of their actions.

And it dawned on me, as I listened to the pack of jackanapes applaud Mugabe's evil ignorance, countries and people are the same. Or so close as to make no difference. Debt forgiveness for the third world. Don't make me laugh! I know exactly what my Legal Aid clients would have done had their debts -- which they weren't paying anyway -- been forgiven. Promptly run out and borrowed twice as much and then demanded that they be relieved of that too. Anyone care to wager what Mugabe and Company would do in response to debt forgiveness?

My solution? Pawn shops for countries. You want to borrow a billion dollars Mr. Kabila? No problem, we'll just take title to those diamond mines until you pay us back. You want to build a new airport Vietnam? Let me tell you about our rent-to-own plan.
Apologies to my readers (all three of you) for the long posting drought. I do have an excuse, however. Everything about my recent trip to Bangkok was great except my dial-up connection which was atrocious. Between the dreadfully slow connection and the regularly broken connection, I simply gave up. I was complaining about this to one of the attendees at the conference where I was speaking, who promptly put things into perspective when he informed me that when he first moved to Thailand in the 60's, in order to make an international call one had to travel to the post-office, fill out a request for authorization to call abroad, wait three days for approval, then return to the post-office, where the only phones capable of making such a call were located.