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Candide’s Latest: December 26, 2006

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Israel's Make-Believe Hannukah Gift to Palestinians
27 Roadblocks Removed; 515 To Go

Cattle are treated with more dignity

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's big Hannukah-Christmas-Adha PR move? The removal of 27 roadblocks from the hell-making they're designed to be on Palestinians' ordinary lives in the West Bank. Good enough--for those who have no clue how many roadblocks and obstructions there are to daily life in the West Bank. Remember the New York Times' Grey Myre and his "Highway to Frustration" piece back in November? "Palestinians traveling within the West Bank now face 542 obstacles, 83 of which are guarded by soldiers, compared with fewer than 400 a year ago. The obstacles have effectively divided the West Bank into three sectors -- northern, central and southern -- and limited movement among them." Keep that in mind as you take in Ehud's gift. From Haaretz: "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that Palestinians will soon feel a significant improvement in their daily lives, as a result of a plan to gradually ease restrictions on Palestinians in order to strengthen Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. [...] Olmert approved the plan Monday, which, among other gestures, includes the removal of 27 roadblocks across the West Bank. [...] Peretz told a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee hearing Monday that there are currently roughly 400 roadblocks in the West Bank. Peretz said the removal of 59 of the roadblocks had been decided upon, including the 27 to be removed in the immediate future. But, the PMO statement said, the removal of roadblocks will only occur in the second stage of the plan to ease restrictions, in keeping with developments in the coming days. In addition to the removal of roadblocks, security screening of Palestinian pedestrians and vehicles will be eased at 16 main checkpoints throughout the West Bank." Like I said: Very little, very well publicized. The full story...

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Japan's Christmas Hangings
In Cold Blood

The death penalty's conveyor belt isn;t exclusively an American specialty. Japan, imitator of all things electronic, efficient, and, occasionally, barbaric, has an assembly line of its own. From Asahin Shimbun: "Four convicted killers, two of them in their 70s, were hanged Monday in the first executions in more than a year. The executions were the first to be carried out under Justice Minister Jinen Nagase, who took office in the Cabinet named by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sept. 26. His predecessor, Seiken Sugiura, had refused to sign execution warrants during his 11 months in office. He is also a Buddhist priest. Monday marked the first time in nine years that four death row inmates have been executed on the same day. [...] The men put to death were: Hiroaki Hidaka, 44, convicted of killing four women in 1996 in Hiroshima Prefecture. [...] Michio Fukuoka, 64, convicted of killing three people, including his sister-in-law, between 1978 and 1981 in Kochi Prefecture. [...] Yoshimitsu Akiyama, 77, convicted of killing a factory owner in Chiba Prefecture in 1975 and stealing about 10 million yen; and Yoshio Fujinami, 75, convicted of killing two relatives of his estranged wife and robbing them of cash and goods in 1981 in Tochigi Prefecture. The full story...

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Islamophobia Watch
Virgil Goode's Constituents

Even illiterates understand

Nancy Cahill, a friend of the Notebooks and a neighboring constituent of U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, the Virginia Republican who wants Americans to "wake up" before hordes of Muslims take over Congress (see here for details), wrote the Right Honorable Congressman on December 22, and shared the letter with us:

Virgil Goode
1520 Longworth Building
Washington, DC 20515

Deer Mr. Goode:

I herd on the radio today that Tomas Jefferson took the oath of offise with his hand on a law book not the Holy Bible. What was that degenerite tryng to say? Was he pledgin his allegince to the rule of law not the rule of God? What a Commy pervert. How did he get to be a famos American anyway?

Anyhow, I am a proud Virginan, I just wanted to write and say in the name of another great Virginan, Sen. George Allen (retired), thank you for keeping our great Commonwelth of Virginia in the newpapers with storys about our racism, which is a sign of high intelict... intellict... of high smarts.

Yours truely,

Nancy Cahill

[Address withheld]
Woodbridge, The Proud White Christian Commonwelth of Virginia, 22191

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Veni Vidi Video
Gore Vidal on the Bush Junta
 

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John Kerry, Two Years Too late
When Resolve Turns Reckless

John Kerry in the Washington Post: "There's something much worse than being accused of "flip-flopping": refusing to flip when it's obvious that your course of action is a flop. I say this to President Bush as someone who learned the hard way how embracing the world's complexity can be twisted into a crude political shorthand. Barbed words can make for great politics. But with U.S. troops in Iraq in the middle of an escalating civil war, this is no time for politics. Refusing to change course for fear of the political fallout is not only dangerous -- it is immoral. I'd rather explain a change of position any day than look a parent in the eye and tell them that their son or daughter had to die so that a broken policy could live. [...] When young Americans are being killed and maimed, when the Middle East is on the brink of three civil wars, even the most vaunted "steadfastness" morphs pretty quickly into stubbornness, and resolve becomes recklessness. Changing tactics in the face of changing conditions on the ground, developing new strategies because the old ones don't work, is a hell of a lot smarter than the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again with the same tragic results. Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial died after America's leaders knew that our strategy in that war was not working. Was then-secretary of defense Robert McNamara steadfast as he continued to send American troops to die for a war he knew privately could not be won? History does not remember his resolve -- it remembers his refusal to confront reality.

[...] This isn't a time for stubbornness, nor is it a time for halfway solutions -- or warmed-over "new" solutions that our own experience tells us will only make the problem worse. [...] We have already tried a trimmed-down version of the McCain plan of indefinitely increasing troop levels. We sent 15,000 more troops to Baghdad last summer, and today the escalating civil war is even worse. You could put 100,000 more troops in tomorrow and you're only going to add to the number of casualties until Iraqis sit down together at a bargaining table and compromise. The barrel of a gun can't answer the question of how you force Iraqi nationalism to trump sectarian loyalty. The only hope for stability lies in pushing Iraqis to forge a sustainable political agreement on federalism, distributing oil revenues and neutralizing sectarian militias. And that will happen only if we set a deadline to redeploy our troops. [...] Conversation is not capitulation. Until recently, it was widely accepted that good foreign policy demands a willingness to seize opportunities and change policy as the facts change. That's neither flip-flopping nor rudderless diplomacy -- it's strength. How else could we end up with the famous mantra that "only Nixon could go to China"? [...] Ronald Reagan was no shape-shifter, either, but after calling the Soviet Union the "evil empire," he met repeatedly with its leaders. [...] When Churchill urged, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in," he added: "except to convictions of honour and good sense." This is a time for such convictions." The full column...

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Vigilante Bigotries
Nativists Are US

They call themselves Americans

From Reuters and the Boston Globe: "The founder of the Emigration Party of Nevada is among a growing number of nativists from across the United States that have been stepping up direct action in recent months to make a stand on the issues of illegal immigration and border security. The milder end of the spectrum includes the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, who spot for illegal entrants crossing the borders from Mexico and Canada, and councilors in towns and cities from California to Pennsylvania who vote to curb landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants. The wilder fringe stretches from activists who burn Mexican flags -- like Pauly and his eye patch-wearing companion Laine Lawless -- to brutal thugs like a Texan teenager sentenced to 90 years in jail in December for sodomizing a Hispanic youth with a pole. [...] Nativist activism has been around for centuries in the United States. Some analysts trace it to the gangs who battled newcomers on the streets of New York in the 1800s, while others date it to the Ku Klux Klan's rants against Mexican immigrants in the last century. All agree that it has mushroomed amid growing security concerns since the September 11 2001 attacks. The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that there are now more than 140 nativist groups taking direct action on the borders with Mexico and Canada or targeting the 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens living in the United States. [...] Some are quirky and relatively harmless, like Luca Zana, an Italian-American immigrant who uses a truck-mounted sound system to blast the amplified shrieks of wild animals over the Mexico border in a down-home version of psychological warfare to dissuade undocumented migrants from crossing north. Pauly, meanwhile, is more extreme. In one recent Internet posting he called for Mexican women to be sterilized after the birth of their first child, and wants the U.S. Border Patrol to be transformed into sniper teams with orders to "shoot to kill on sight." Laine Lawless, the founder of the Arizona-based Border Guardians group, also reaches out to white supremacists online. In one recent e-mail to a Neo-Nazi group, she urged "warriors for the race" to intimidate Spanish-speaking school children, and rob aliens depositing funds in U.S. banks. [...] However, analysts caution that the groups are small and increasingly out of step with mainstream Americans, who elected a Democratic Congress on November 7 that promises a comprehensive approach to immigration combining tough enforcement with incentives for newcomers." The full story...

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Veil Versus Crown
A Muslim Woman Takes on Queen Elizabeth

From The Age, Australia: "A Muslim woman in a full-face veil went head-to-head with the Queen on British television today, delivering an alternative Christmas Day message on religious integration. At the same time as the 80-year-old monarch's Christmas message to Britain and the Commonwealth was broadcast, a woman known only as Khadijah spoke on Channel 4 about why she wore the niqab in public and called for tolerance. "We are seen as oppressed. Since I've started covering I feel much more liberated, which I know a lot of people possibly won't be able to understand," she said. "I don't wear the niqab to separate myself from society. I want to be part of this society - this is where I choose to live. I hope that society is more accepting of my personal choice. It's not about separation." Khadijah's appearance comes amid a debate about the extent of religious and ethnic integration following last year's home-grown Islamist extremist suicide attacks in London." The full story...

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Namibian Brew
Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow

From The Namibian: “NAMIBIANS might have to savour every drop of their favourite beverage this festive season, because Namibia Breweries cannot keep up with the demand from beyond our borders.The local brewer says it is experiencing an unprecedented demand for its premium beer brands from countries in the southern African region, resulting in a "tight supply situation". "Due to this high demand for our beer brands some temporary shortages are being encountered with resulting disruption of supply," Namibia Breweries announced yesterday. "Our production and distribution teams are however working hard to counter this in order to meet the unprecedented demand for its beer," the company said in a short statement. Beer is the nation's most popular drink and the local brew is internationally acclaimed. Due to its high quality because it is brewed under the German purity law of 1516, Namibian beer has won various international awards. According to Nambrew, Namibian beer has become the "drink of preference" of an increasing number of consumers both locally and abroad. One Windhoek bottle-store owner The Namibian visited yesterday said he only had enough beer in stock to last until tomorrow, because he usually places a larger order before the festive season. "We just hope that there are enough supplies from Namibia Breweries for New Year's Eve, when everyone wants to party," the store owner said. One large supermarket chain in Windhoek ran out of beer on Wednesday.” The full story...

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