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The Daily Journal
Candide’s Latest: December 15-17, 2006

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Thanks to Gaby Bustros in Beirut

Lebanon Special, I: Meddlers’ Paradise
Why Lebanon Brings Out the Worst in Foreign Governments

From Lebanon’s Daily Star: “ Lebanon surpasses all other devices in its ability to bring forth various forms of hypocrisy from foreign governments. This quality has been on periodic display for decades, but the past few weeks have seen an intensification of the show. Wednesday was especially productive in this regard, witnessing as it did comments from both Washington and Damascus. Syrian President Bashar Assad opened with an admonition that America and other Western countries should refrain from "intervening in the affairs of Lebanon." US President George W. Bush then took center stage with a demand that Syria "cease its efforts to undermine Lebanese sovereignty." Observers of both countries' policies vis-a-vis this one could only shake their heads in wonderment at how either leader could have expected to be taken seriously. To Assad's credit, he at least paid lip service to Lebanon's independence by stating that "the Lebanese are capable of understanding each other regarding their domestic issues." Bush's secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was not nearly so diplomatic in an interview earlier this week, declaring to all that the world that "we understand who Lebanon's enemies are.” See the full editorial…


Lebanon Special, II: Sectarian Siblings
Where Sunnis and Shiites Shepherd Reason

Kawthariyyat al-Riz is a small village in southern Lebanon, where the Daily Star reported this story: “Ahmad Khalil, a Sunni, and Hassan Touba, a Shiite, live in simple houses and lead simple lives, each herding goats and picking fruits and olives. To them, the question of a possible sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites - the likelihood of which has been much touted by Lebanese media - is farfetched. "We are too mixed, seriously," said Khalil, an Arabic teacher, as he sat under the shade of a tree surrounded by members of his family, each busy with their own banal chores. "We have been living together as neighbors for decades. Why would we start fighting each other out of nowhere?" […] Khalil' daughter, Radneen, said Lebanon's political leaders were behaving like children. "One of them says this and the other responds with that and we, the people, have to bear the brunt of their stubbornness and childishness," she said, referring to the latest exchange of heated accusations between Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who leveled unprecedented personal attacks at each other last week. "We are of one religion - Islam - so I don't understand why people are pushing for a conflict between the Sunnis and Shiites. It is against Allah to fight among each other and insult each other," Radneen said, adding that her main concern was feeding her children, not "picking fights with neighbors." Stroll a few steps down the road from the Khalil family home, hang a left and you are in "the Shiite part" of the village.” See the full story…


Sectarian Fools
Time to Wake Up, Lebanon

An extremely effective message that perfectly illustrates Lebanon’s problem: Individuals, one after the other, speak their nationality to the camera: I’m French, I’m Serbian, I’m South African, I’m American, I’m Palestinian, I’m Indian, I’m Japanese, and so on. Then comes the Lebanese’s turn. Instead of saying I’m Lebanese, they say, in Arabic, I’m Sunni, I’m Druze, I’m Maronite, I’m Shiite. And the final tag line, in Arabic: “When will we wake up, fellow Lebanese?” Watch the video. [Thanks to the Perpetual Refugee.]



Same Scheiße, Different Day
Palestinian PM denied Gaza entry

From the BBC: “ Israel will allow Palestinian PM Ismail Haniya to return to Gaza from Egypt but without tens of millions in donations, Egyptian and Israeli sources say. The money would be left on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, they said. Israel earlier ordered the closure of Rafah to stop the return of Mr Haniya, of Hamas, sparking an angry reaction from militants, who stormed the post. It is not known if Mr Haniya can return on Thursday as European monitors at Rafah will not be back until Friday. At Rafah, Hamas gunmen went on a rampage, occupying the terminal. They smashed windows and furniture inside the building and fired shots into the air. At least three people are reported to have been injured. Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz had ordered the EU monitors to close Rafah. Mr Haniya had been due to return to Gaza on Thursday after cutting short his first trip abroad as prime minister to deal with mounting tensions between Hamas and rival faction Fatah.” The full story…


“Homeland Security”
Kafka Takes a Break

From The Times: “In a major blow to the Bush administration’s efforts to secure borders, domestic security officials have for now given up on plans to develop a facial or fingerprint recognition system to determine whether a vast majority of foreign visitors leave the country, officials say. Domestic security officials had described the system, known as U.S. Visit, as critical to security and important in efforts to curb illegal immigration. Similarly, one-third of the overall total of illegal immigrants are believed to have overstayed their visas, a Congressional report says. Tracking visitors took on particular urgency after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when it became clear that some of the hijackers had remained in the country after their visas had expired. But in recent days, officials at the Homeland Security Department have conceded that they lack the financing and technology to meet their deadline to have exit-monitoring systems at the 50 busiest land border crossings by next December. A vast majority of foreign visitors enter and exit by land from Mexico and Canada, and the policy shift means that officials will remain unable to track the departures. A report released on Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, restated those findings, reporting that the administration believes that it will take 5 to 10 years to develop technology that might allow for a cost-effective departure system. Domestic security officials, who have allocated $1.7 billion since the 2003 fiscal year to track arrivals and departures, argue that creating the program with the existing technology would be prohibitively expensive. They say it would require additional employees, new buildings and roads at border crossings, and would probably hamper the vital flow of commerce across those borders.” The full story…


South Africa’s child murders

From the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian: “Boiling water, hammers and iron pipes were among the instruments used to kill some of the 1,128 children murdered in South Africa last year. […] Almost a fifth of the child murders were committed by other children. According to figures contained in his reply, a total of 324 (28,7%) children died as a result of being shot. A further 287 (25,4%) were killed by knives. However, the third-largest category of causes of death -- totalling 203 of the children -- is headed "unknown". In a statement on Thursday, DA spokesperson on child abuse Mike Waters questioned how seriously investigations into child murders are being carried out. "According to [the] reply ... in almost one fifth of child murders in 2004/05, no cause of death was identified, which means that it is almost certain that no autopsy was carried out. "But an autopsy is the starting point of any investigation and an almost absolute requirement for a successful prosecution. "The reply therefore raises questions about how seriously child murderers are being pursued, if even the basics of an investigation are not being carried out," he said. "Of these murdered children, 26 were kicked to death, ten were burnt to death and six were killed with a fist. Another six were killed with an axe. Boiling water, hammers and iron pipes were used to kill a further nine children.” The full story…


Pointless Journalism in Russia

From the Moscow Times: “The year has been rough for independent-minded media, and investigative journalists wondered at an awards ceremony Wednesday evening whether their often-perilous work was worth the effort. If the ceremony was any indication, the answer appeared to be a resounding no. A mere 20 people showed up for the annual event, the Andrei Sakharov awards for journalism. They included an eight-member jury, five winners and three reporters assigned to cover the event. Vadim Rechkalov, an investigative reporter with Moskovsky Komsomolets who received a runner-up prize, said he had won nearly every Russian journalism award but could not understand why corruption and human rights abuses continued to flourish. "Nothing has changed, not even an iota -- not in the courts, not anywhere else," Rechkalov said. "It makes you wonder about the effectiveness of journalism" in Russia. The ceremony opened with a moment of silence for investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, whose brazen shooting death in her Moscow apartment building in October shocked the West. Politkovskaya, who won the top prize in 2002 for her coverage of human rights abuses in Chechnya for Novaya Gazeta, received a posthumous lifetime achievement award Wednesday.” The full story…


Italy’s "War on Christmas"
Carols Banned as Courtesy to Islam

Note the complete absence of any attempt at objectivity in this supposed news item from Italy’s Corriere Della Sera, one of the country’s national newspapers: “The culprit is a carol. Parents of pupils at the Casa del Bosco nursery school in the multi-ethnic Oltrisarco district of Bolzano have discovered that at this year’s Christmas concert, the youngsters will not be permitted to sing “Tu scendi dalle stelle” (From Starry Skies Thou Comest). Teachers decided to sacrifice the traditional carol about the baby Jesus on the altar of multiculturalismand are thought to have told the children, who then informed their parents about the change in the programme. The upshot is that all heaven has broken loose, so to speak. For the mayor, Luigi Spagnolli, it is “a complete nonsense”.Giovanni Benussi from the House of Freedoms went so far as to call it “absurd and aberrant”. For National Alliance it is “incomprehensible and misleading”while the Union für Sudtirol points out that “tolerance does not mean giving up our customs”. Indeed the local imam himself, Breigeche Abulkeheir, said in an interview with the Corriere dell'Alto Adige that “the figure of Jesus is holy for those who believe in the Koran, too”. It only took the controversy a couple of hours to spill over into other parts of Italy. “We’re getting close to Christmas and this year as every year”, said Northern League senator, Piergiorgio Stiffoni, “we are unable to escape the idiocy of the usual know-alls and well-meaning ideologues offending our beliefs and our culture”.It has to be said that Umberto Bossi’s party is engaged in a campaign to defend the symbols of Christianity. In Milan, the leader of the Northern League group on the municipal council, Matteo Salvini, has carried out a census of the city’s nursery schools to find out which will not display Nativity scenes.He started working the phone and called 75 schools, of which 40% are said to be forgoing the baby Jesus, oxen and asses in the name of political correctness. “Our children celebrate Chinese New Year and learn about the significance of Ramadan”, said Mr Salvini, “but they can’t have a Nativity scene or a Christmas tree in class.It’s ridiculous”. See the full story…


JFK Conspiracies, Con’d.
Oliver Stone Fined for Filming in Cuba

This item out of Cuba’s mouthpiece newspaper, the oddly called Granma, is another gem of guile and style that makes you nostalgic for the old days of Radio Moscow (when the Soviets were calling the shots) and the old Pravda. Not that the substance of the Granma article isn’t on target: “The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has just fined well-known filmmaker Oliver Stone for violating the laws of what they euphemistically refer to as an embargo, actually nothing more than a barbaric, brutal, systematic blockade, universally recognized as such and condemned by an overwhelming majority in the United Nations. Oliver Stone fined for filming in CubaStone and the production company Ixtlan were accused of having traveled to Cuba in 2202 and 2003 to shoot footage for two films on the leader of the Cuban Revolution. The newspaper El Nuevo Herald, voice of the anti-Cuban mafia in south Florida, carried the news in its December 12 edition. In medieval times, such edicts were published as an admonition. The modern-day Inquisition is taking up that ancient practice: the message, obviously, is directed against those who try to exercise their right to creativity and expression, or to objectively reflect the realities of Cuba, even someone like Oliver Stone, whom nobody in their right minds could call anti-American after watching – as hundreds of Havana spectators have done during the 28th Havana Film Festival – his movie, World Trade Center, about the atrocious terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers.” The full story…


Muhammad Cartoons
Bombshell Prize

From the Copenhagen Post: “Flemming Rose, culture editor of Jyllands-Posten newspaper has been named as one of the nominees for this year's Cavling Award, Denmark's highest journalistic honour. Rose was nominated for his defence of freedom of the press relating to his paper's publication of the Mohammed cartoons in September 2005. The cartoons sparked international uproar amongst Muslims and put the issue of free press into the limelight. A total of nine nominations are chosen for the Cavling Award, which carries with it a DKK 20,000 prize and a statue of Henrik Cavling. Besides Rose, other nominees were Charlotte Aagaard and Lotte Folke Kaarsholm, who researched and wrote about Danish museums' dealings in stolen artefacts, and Christian Degn and Stine Skriver, who wrote the articles leading to Minister of Consumer Affairs Lars Barfoed's resignation. The award was established in 1945 by the Confederation of Danish Journalists in memory of its founder, Henrik Cavling. In 1961 the confederation became part of the Danish Union of Journalists, which now oversees the award process and ceremonies.


L'Infame: Durham, North Carolina
America's Other Brainless War (on Drugs)


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