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Saturday, May 31, 2003  

People are saying

*Will the Congo be the next Rwanda?

Body and Soul's Jeanne d'arc foresees another tragedy like the Hutu massacre of the Tutus in Rwanda nearly a decade ago in the Congo.

. . .To put it in perspective, the UN mission in Sierra Leone started with 6,000 military personnel and ended up with 17,500. In fact, there are still more than 14,000 troops there. And Sierra Leone is a little smaller than South Carolina and has a population of about five and a half million. The Congo is almost a quarter as large as the entire United States, and has ten times the population of Sierra Leone. Salih Booker, the executive director of Africa Action, recently pointed out that the small number of troops "can help stop the fighting in Ituri, but it's not going to be adequate to implement a successful peace plan in a country that's the size of the United States east of the Mississippi." And stopping a portion of the fighting may not even be in the plan. The force's mandate -- "to protect the airport at Bunia and nearby refugee camps, and if the situation requires it, to contribute to the safety of the civilian population, UN troops and staff and humanitarian workers in the town" -- makes its limitations pretty clear. Far from stopping another Rwanda, it looks like a repeat of that tragedy. In fact, 2,500 UN troops were sent to Rwanda in April, 1994. It wasn't enough, and they weren't well equipped or trained. They couldn't do anything to stop or even slow down the genocide.

I can only speculate about why insufficient peacekeeping forces are being sent. Perhaps, United Nations brass are too discouraged about being ignored by the U.S. in regard to the invasion of Iraq to react strongly about the Congo. If so, they need to pull up their socks and move on. The focus of the forces which are being sent is on keeping an airport open, presumably to evacuate Westerners. That suggests a decision not to really try to stop the violence has already been made to me.

*Big media focuses on absence of WMD

Crow Girl of Magpie has something positive to say about Big Media.

Magpie is being very pleasantly surprised to see that the mainstream media are not letting the fact that no significant quantities of banned weapons have turned up in Iraq slip by unnoticed. As current and former members of US intelligence agencies talk to the press, more details of why Iraq's supposedly immense weapon capabilities were chosen as the main reason for the war are emerging.

This report from Reuters describes how the adminstration 'massaged' intelligence reports into the desired shape:

This team, self-mockingly called the Cabal, "cherry-picked the intelligence stream" in a bid to portray Iraq as an imminent threat, said Patrick Lang, a former head of worldwide human intelligence gathering for the Defense Intelligence Agency, which coordinates military intelligence.

The DIA was "exploited and abused and bypassed in the process of making the case for war in Iraq based on the presence of WMD," or weapons of mass destruction, he added in a phone interview. He said the CIA had "no guts at all" to resist the allegedly deliberate skewing of intelligence by a Pentagon that he said was now dominating U.S. foreign policy.

After the shameful made for the movies treatments of the Pfc. Jessica Lynch and 'Mohammad' episodes, some actual reporting instead of acting as conduits for propaganda is definitely due. Here's hoping Big Media doesn't buckle under the punishment from the Bush administration that is sure to come for doing their jobs.

*Building museum of slavery will be a challenge

Mac-a-ro-nies reader Brian says, in an email, that he favors Doug Wilder's plan to build a National Museum of Slavery, but wonders if the support necessary to make the project a reality exists.

I read with interest your post on the neo-Confederate soft-pedaling of slavery and Douglas Wilder's proposal for a National Museum of Slavery.

Personally, I think such a museum is worth pursuing. I wonder, though, if this idea is seriously pursued that there will be enough political pressure brought to bear to sink it. I'd point to the Enola Gay exhibit controversy at the Smithsonian in the mid 1990s as a cautionary tale. I don't know if you're familiar with it (I suspect you are), but the original idea for the exhibit was pulled from the museum after military and veterans' groups protested what they believed to be the unbalanced and "politically correct" nature of the exhibit's treatment of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Now, it's possible that because far more Americans acknowledge the evils of slavery than are willing to contemplate the moral ambiguities of dropping the atomic bomb, public reception of a slavery museum will be more favorable. I can, however, hear the accusations of "moralizing" and "political correctness" in history already and many of those who might actually go to the museum will simply abandon the effort as too much trouble.

Just a thought.

A very insightful thought.

I agree building such a museum will be a challenge, especially in these times, when the mythology of Pax Americana/Perfect America has been invigorated by the invasion of Iraq. The Bush administration, a beneficiary of the Southern strategy of winking at racism, will do nothing to help. In fact, just this year, the National Park Service succumbed to conservative pressure to change its film on Abraham Lincoln to blunt the suggestion he might have supported later struggles for civil rights in America.

*Erosion is good

At Electrolite, Patrick Nielsen Hayden tells us about writer Jo Walton's take on eroding keyboard letters.

I pretend to be puzzled by this, but secretly I love it. Keyboard letters contain vital nutrients for my metabolism. They are where I get my ideas from, they keep my creativity flowing. They go in and out through my fingers and leave the keyboard burnished and empty.

It's clearly magic realism, because it ought to work like that. It's not in the least remarkable. One would only need to remark on it if it didn't happen.

The keyboard on my TiBook still looks new. (Come to think of it, I can't recall wear away on any of my Mac's keyboards.) However, I've worn a very ugly black metal area on the right side of the bezel of the palm rest. I'm right-handed, and the space is the same size as my wrist, about one and a half inches. I have no excuse. There is an unopened mouse around here I've had since manufacturers started making mice that actually have OS X drivers. Yes, I know about Ti Paint, but being a bit of a klutz, I am afraid to try to spray over the paint erosion myself.

Jo Walton has given me a graceful out when people mention the problem. Instead of looking embarassed, I can rhapsodize about magic realism and erosion of the paint on writers' computers.

*Southern discomfort

What can a famous Southern white fellow who likes Tyra Banks and dislikes contemporary uses of the Confederate flag expect from some of his brethren? Trouble.

7:51 AM