Tuesday, January 27, 2004

AGAIN, so good i had to post it all...


[Image: Silver-spangled Hamburgs, 1890.]

David Kay, the outgoing head of the Iraq Survey Group, said
that Iraq got rid of its illegal weapons programs years
before the United States invaded. Kay made it clear that the
United Nations weapons-inspection process had succeeded in
disarming Iraq and said the Iraqis had been reduced to
experimenting with ricin, a primitive but deadly poison
easily made from fermented castor beans; Kay also said that
the CIA had completely misread the situation in Iraq,
largely because the agency had no on-the-ground spies after
the U.N. inspectors were removed. More than 100,000 Iraqis
filled the streets of Baghdad in a march supporting the
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in his demand for direct
elections; thousands also marched in Basra, Najaf, and
Kerbala demanding that Saddam Hussein be turned over to the
Iraqi people to stand trial. Skepticism was growing that the
United States will succeed in handing power over to an Iraqi
client regime before the presidential election, and the head
of the occupying authority's Tribal Affairs Bureau admitted
that he had been relying on a 1918 British report in his
attempts to make sense of local politics. President George
W. Bush made his State of the Union address just one day
after the Iowa caucuses and appealed to voters to reelect
him so that he could continue to wage war on terror.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on the United States and its
allies to confess that the conquest of Iraq was wrong. Vice
President Dick Cheney defended Halliburton, which continues
to pay him a salary, from what he said were "desperate
attacks" by opponents of the Bush Administration. "They're
rendering great service," he said. "They do it because
they're good at it, because they won the contract to do it.
And frankly the company takes a certain amount of pride in
rendering this kind of service to U.S. military forces."
Halliburton, which received most of its Iraq contracts by
administrative fiat rather than through a competitive
bidding process, admitted that its employees in Iraq have
accepted $6.3 million in kickbacks. People at the
Conservative Political Action Conference were grumbling that
President Bush's fiscal policies, which have led to giant
budget deficits, have been anything but conservative; they
also denounced the USA Patriot Act and complained that
"big-government Republicans," who seem to think government
is the solution rather than the problem, have been too busy
"baby-sitting the nanny state."

Republican staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee
were still under investigation for improperly infiltrating
Democratic computers and reading strategy memos, which were
then leaked to the press. Several computers, including a
server from Senator Bill Frist's office, have been
confiscated by the Senate's Sergeant-at-Arms. An expert
panel that was asked to review a Pentagon-funded Internet
voting system declared that the system was fundamentally
flawed. "Using a voting system based on the Internet," said
one of the experts, "poses a serious and unacceptable risk
for election fraud." The Pentagon nonetheless said that it
"stands by" the program, which will be used in several
primaries this year. "We feel it's right on," said a
spokesman, "and we're going to use it." Newly released
documents revealed that the U.S. Census Bureau gave
information on millions of Americans to NASA for a study on
the feasibility of mining such data to look for potential
terrorists, and it was reported that American intelligence
officials have compiled a list of five million potential
terrorists worldwide. President Pervez Musharraf admitted
that some of Pakistan's top nuclear scientists had sold
nuclear technology to other countries but denied that the
government was involved; Musharraf was accused of
scapegoating the scientists to appease the United States.
Art Garfunkel got busted with pot. Russian soldiers rescued
10 tons of beer kegs that became trapped under the ice of a
frozen Siberian river; after divers from the Ministry of
Emergency Situations failed to dislodge the kegs, a T-72
tank saved the day. Senator John Kerry won the Iowa
caucuses. Howard Dean decided to tone down his campaign
persona after the media became alarmed at his "nutty" Iowa
concession speech. There was speculation that Israeli prime
minister Ariel Sharon might soon be indicted for taking
bribes. A Mexican man reportedly hacked open his father's
head with a machete, drank his blood, and then ate his

The European Mars Express mission made the first direct
measurement of ice on Mars; a second American Mars rover,
called Opportunity, landed on the planet; and new research
suggested that astronauts sent to Mars might be paralyzed by
the prolonged lack of gravity. Scientists found that the
Ebola virus can spread from dead animals such as gorillas to
human beings, and genetic analysis suggested that the five
recent outbreaks of the disease were caused by five distinct
strains of the virus, which is among the most contagious
known, rather than one strain that had mutated. "If Ebola is
popping up randomly," said one scientist, "then things are
pretty hopeless." Avian influenza was spreading across Asia;
the World Health Organization said it was the largest
outbreak in history. Indonesia said that millions of
chickens had died of the flu in recent weeks, and workers in
Thailand were bagging live chickens and burying them in
pits. Laksamana.net Indonesia's agriculture minister said
that his government can't afford to dispose of the dead
chickens. Women who have used dark hair dye for at least 24
years have a greater chance of developing cancer, a study
found, and frequent underarm shaving together with deodorant
use could increase the risk of breast cancer. Saudi Arabia's
highest-ranking cleric said that women's rights are
anti-Islamic, and an American diplomat in London declared
that referring to the American Jewish lobby is anti-Semitic.
The Salvation Army received a $1.5 billion donation, and an
Indian diamond seller who had hidden $900 worth of small
diamonds in a pile of hay was busy feeding laxatives to his
cow. There were new massacres in Congo, Rwanda's former
minister for higher education was given a life sentence for
genocide, and a sniper was still shooting cars in Ohio.
Captain Kangaroo died. Britain's naked rambler completed his
900-mile journey and put on some clothes. A Japanese
scientist created a belly-dancing robot.

--Roger D. Hodge

No comments: