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Saturday, June 24, 2006


News roundup

Two days ago I wrote about U.S. threats of a pre-emptive strike on a possible North Korean missile test: "Need I point out that such an act would be an act of war? An unprovoked act of war. A war of aggression. A war crime." Imagine my surprise today when I found Knight-Ridder's Jonathan Landay saying the same thing: "Pyongyang is regarded as having a right to test missiles, making any American attack to forestall a launch an act of war with potentially explosive consequences." Kudos to Landay, although wouldn't it be nice to have a press where it wasn't necessary to extend kudos to a reporter for stating an obvious truth?

The pages and screens of the media are replete with politicians and pundits denouncing the savagery of the recent murders of two American soldiers. Although it is certainly possible, even probable, that the two men were indeed tortured and then beheaded, not the slightest proof has been offered of these allegations, and yet the same people who are denouncing the act, and even using it as the latest justification for why U.S. troops have to stay in Iraq and "finish the job," were the first to talk about how we shouldn't condemn the American soldiers involved in the Haditha massacre because "we don't know exactly what happened" and "an investigation is still on going" etc etc.

On whose word do we know the two men were tortured? The word of the U.S. military, the same U.S. military who claimed that the Iraqis in Haditha were killed by an IED, the same U.S. military who claimed that Jessica Lynch was captured emptying her weapon against attacking Iraqis, the same U.S. military who covered up the death of Pat Tillman, and on and on and on. Would they make up such a grotesque lie as the one about the two soldiers? Probably not, but considering they have gotten away with lies that were just as easily disprovable (Kuwaiti babies thrown out of incubators to die come to mind), it certainly isn't impossible.

Then we have the latest thought crime -- some men in Miami allegedly talking about committing acts of terrorism, although doing, as far as is alleged so far, quite literally nothing about it. News reports of the incident all refer to how "the group had been infiltrated by a government informant." "Informant" is the media's word. I'm giving even odds that the correct term is agent provocateur, and that the first one to mention the words "Sears Tower" or "ammonium nitrate" was he.

And finally in local news we have the indictment of San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales for "bribery." Now believe me, I have absolutely no love lost for Ron Gonzales, but this indictment borders on the ludicrous. Despite the fact that the word "bribery" has been splashed all over the news, Gonzales isn't accused of taking any money himself. To the contrary, the heart of the case involves his efforts (albeit done in secret) to have more money paid to workers, specifically the workers who pick up the city's garbage (the secret deal was the city's agreement to pay more money for the garbage contract, with the proviso that the contractor would employ higher-paid Teamsters rather than lower-paid Longshoremen). Here's a quote from the Deputy District Attorney which I almost decided to run under the "Political Humor of the Day" headline:

"The message that the indictment makes is that public officials cannot use their public office to secure benefits either for themselves or for third parties or for political supporters."
Needless to say, there wouldn't be a politician left in Washington or most state capitols if that standard were to be adopted. In a world where the Halliburtons rake in billions in no-bid government contracts, Ron Gonzales secret agreement to have the city of San Jose pay $11 million more in wages to its garbage haulers doesn't even qualify as small potatoes.

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