The Spectacle Blog
Three alarming alarming reports have arrived with regard the lynching of the young Jewish Frenchman Halimi, who was found mutilated and dying on February 13 in Paris.
All of the perpetrators are not yet apprehended, though some 20 of the accused so far hail from one suburb that is notorious for drugs and crime. Not all are Moslems, not all are poor, not all are ill-educated, not all our from North Africa. The ringleader has parents from Francophone Ivory Coast, and is said to have travelled to Ivory Coast to use email and telephones in some fashion to avoid detection by the French authorities. The motive for ransom is now discounted. The crime looks to have been sadism, racism, a blunt inhumanity, and is related in unexplained ways to the rioting that burned tens of thousand of cars last fall. The unbelievable report that Halimi's parents were called in the course of the ordeal, read passages from the Koran, and allowed to hear the screams of their child in the background is now confirmed.
I've heard that adage applied to at least three or four politicians. I don't know where it started, but I would not be at all surprised to learn that it went back to the newsreel era.
So the cable guy shows up at my house this morning (two hours late, natch) to help me join the revolution that is digital cable.
I am happy to have digital cable, but am dismayed that it now requires three remote controls to operate my television. I can deal with that, I suppose, but I am not sure I can deal with the enormous digital clock on the front of my new cable box which shall blare at me at all hours and as far as I can tell cannot be disabled.
I hadn't ever been offended by a digital clock until this morning. I think the thing that set me off was the stark realization, as I looked around my place, that I am besieged by digital clocks on things that I neither need nor want to have digital clocks on. In my small apartment, there are no fewer than a dozen digital clocks on things that are not clocks.
The madness must stop.
I hereby unveil my new personal Global initiative to urge manufacturers to stop putting digital clocks on anything other than, well, digital clocks.
Who's with me?
The Southeast European Times covers in succinct tones the Euro-frustration that has put Serbia, once again, behind the crosshairs of a foreign ultimatum:
"Full co-operation with the tribunal must be achieved to ensure that the negotiations are not disrupted," the European Council said in a statement. It called on both Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina "to take decisive action to ensure that all remaining fugitive indictees, notably Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are finally brought to justice without delay."
"Without delay" means by the end of March, and "disruption" means "suspension of Serbia-Montenegro's talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA)" with the EU. Note the tricky timing that prevents Montenegro from voting their way out of their fair share in the onus.
Brokeback Mountain's been out long enough for the media to get this one right. Heck, I haven't seen the movie and I know that Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal's characters are not cowboys, but shepherds. Reporters and writers don't screw this up occasionally, but as many as 1150 times in the last 30 days. And that's only among the news web sites that Google includes in its news search.
I'm sure this case has been made elsewhere, but I doubt this slip is unintentional. As James Bowman writes in our March issue, the movie makes a point of showing the viewer "unforgettable images of toxic masculinity." (subscribe here!) See also Yale Kramer's thorough analysis of the film -- he argues that "It's a story that hates men." If so, then those propping it up in the media are well served by exaggerating the characters' manhood.
Clever headline, Wlady!
Patrick Goodenough at CNS News has a fine report on Taiwan President Chen Shui Bian's controversial decision to scrap the National Unification Council referenced in my post here yesterday.
I find it interesting that so far the Chinese response has much less hysterical than one would imagine. Of course, it is early yet...
Well, journalism school may be part of the problem, not the solution, but journalists need to learn even a semblance of objectivity somewhere.
Abortion stories are usually the worst, and the Associated Press meets and surpasses the expectations today in reporting on the Scheidler v. NOW and Operation Rescue v. NOW cases. The Supreme Court already decided in 2003 that NOW's ridiculous racketeering suit against pro-life protesters outside clinics was, well, ridiculous. These cases were clean-up matters, because the 7th Circuit kept the matter alive even after the Court's 2003 decision.
In an 8-0 decision, the Court ended the racketeering nonsense against the abortion protesters. So how does the AP report it?
The Supreme Court dealt a setback Tuesday to abortion clinics in a two-decade-old legal fight over anti-abortion protests, ruling that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used to ban demonstrations.
The shining star from Indiana, House Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Pence, isn't letting up. The RSC released its legislative agenda. It's bold, principled, and ambitiously conservative, in ways we hope other pols in this town would be:
1. Make the Tax Cuts Permanent, including the repeal of the marriage-tax penalty and the death tax and pass fundamental tax reform.
2. Pass Budget Process Reform, which includes budgeting for emergencies with a rainy day fund, instituting a sunset commission for federal programs, instituting a constitutional line-item veto, and making the budget resolution carry the force of law.
3. Pass another Deficit Reduction Bill in the form of budget reconciliation, to reign in autopilot spending, which has risen from 25% of all federal spending in 1963 to 54% today, and is expected to reach nearly 60% in 2014.
4. Pass Ethics Reform that requires transparency and earmark reform that permits Members of Congress to strike earmarks on the House floor.