Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ghosts of Mistakes Past: President Bush has pledged not to repeat the mistake of coddling tyrants for short-term benefits -- like we did for years with Middle Eastern dictatorships to get oil and delay confrontation. Apparently this pledge doesn't include genocidal regimes in Sudan. While I understand that diplomacy is an invaluable tool in the War on Terrorism, there is still the simple issue of right and wrong. The Coalition for Darfur offers the latest.

Conflicting Priorities

For more than two years, the international community has done little to stop the violence in Darfur or provide security to the millions of displaced victims. And the closer someone follows the world's response to this crisis, the clearer the conflicting priorities of the major actors (the US, the AU, the ICC and the UN) become.

Though former Secretary of State Colin Powell declared the situation "genocide" in September 2004, the United States has more or less ignored the Genocide Convention's legal requirement that parties to the convention "undertake to prevent and to punish" it. This can be partly explained by the fact that the administration played a key role in ending the decades-long war in the South and does not want to risk upsetting it by directly confronting Khartoum over Darfur. It can also be partly explained by the fact that the CIA has developed significant ties to the regime in Khartoum, which has become "an indispensable part of CIA's counterterrorism strategy."

The International Criminal Court has just recently become involved in the conflict in Darfur, taking up an investigation and warning that Khartoum must cooperate with its investigation. The ICC is a relatively new body that has yet to try a case and is still working to establish itself as a viable international body. As such, the ICC is proceeding slowly and cautiously, attempting to stay within the bounds set by the ICC statute and avoid an embarrassing and potentially damaging showdown with Khartoum should the genocidal regime refuse to cooperate.

The AU faces many of the same problems. As a relatively new organization, the AU hopes to become the key to providing "African solutions to African problems." Over the last six months, the AU has only been able to supply two-thirds the number of troops it initially mandated and will, in all likelihood, be equally unable to fill the size of its expanded mandate. As a fledgling organization, the AU does not possess the clout or support necessary to demand an expanded mandate to protect civilians in Darfur and has been reluctant to seek outside logistical or financial assistance for its mission, perhaps out of fear that doing so will highlight its inadequacies and undermine its credibility further.

While the US, ICC and AU all have a genuine interest in stopping the violence, it is clear that they also have internal concerns that are restricting their effectiveness in Darfur.

At the same time, the United Nations faces internal concerns of its own. The presence of Russia and China on the Security Council has stymied attempts to force Khartoum to reign in the Janjaweed militias and prevented the imposition of sanctions. Nonetheless, no amount of internal concerns can excuse this recent statement by Jan Pronk, Kofi Annan's Special Representative to Sudan.

While Annan was telling Khartoum that the violence "must stop," Pronk was praising Khartoum for setting up meaningless show trials designed solely to slow the ICC investigation:

The government says its national trials will be credible and will be a substitute for the ICC, which announced last week the formal launch of its investigation in Darfur.

Pronk said those concerned about the credibility of the national court, which begins proceedings on June 15, should give the government the benefit of the doubt.

"If the government takes a decision to do something which it had been asked to do late, you only have to criticise that they are late, you should not criticise that they are doing it," he said. "So give the government the benefit of the doubt."
For two years, Khartoum has waged a genocidal campaign against the people of Darfur, taking the lives of an estimated 400,000 people. Under no circumstances does this government deserve "the benefit of the doubt."

Solving the crisis in Darfur is undoubtedly a priority for many in the international community. Unfortunately, it is not a main priority. And because of that, it is likely that tens of thousands Africans will continue to die over the coming months.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Freakin' A! I just started reading the book Freakonomics. It's that book by that economist who proved that the sharp, nation-wide decrease in crime in the mid 1990s was a result not of the strong economy but of Roe v. Wade. You see, because fewer low-income women were having unwanted babies, 20 years later, fewer unwanted children were growing up to become criminals.

So far I've only got through the Introduction, but I'm loving the book already. It has already confirmed something I have long believed -- that money doesn't buy political power. Money simply flows to political power.

Although rich people tend to do well in political contests, all the money in the world would could never buy a President Forbes or a President Perot. Political appeal is what's most important, and politicians with such appeal garner money the same way they garner votes.

The same is true for political issues, I believe. Politicians don't support school vouchers because such lobbyists pay them. Lobbyists pay only the politicians who already support school vouchers.

I'm not naive enough to believe that money has no influence in politics, but I think its influence has been vastly overstated. And when the solution is to drastically cut free expression, such as what the new Campaign Finance Reform law does, then people need to educate themselves about the true nature of politics and money.

Monday, June 27, 2005

We Decree a Shrug: Is it just me, or does the Supreme Court never seem to make many clear rulings anymore? They keep giving out 5-4 decisions that essentially say, "It depends."

The Ten Commandments case is another perfect example. The same religious text, the same type of monument, the same tax-funded government buildings -- yet sometimes it's appropriate to display Christian orthodoxy, and sometimes it's not. This won't give any guidance to anyone.

The same was true for the decisions on affirmative action and whether "Under God" can stay in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Supreme Court took the chicken-shit approach and refused to make any hard decisions with any real meaning.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Oversight: Evan Coyne Maloney asks an interesting question. With all this concern about whether the Koran is being treated with respect at Gitmo, why isn't the ACLU upset that the American government is handing out such religious paraphernalia to prisoners? For an organization that's offended by colored lights at Christmas time, they are strangely silent about government funding for religious material. Or is it okay so long as it's not a Christian book?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Domain Game: We now have a Supreme Court ruling at which both liberals and conservatives can be shocked and dismayed. The Supreme Court essentially ruled that government can take over private property whenever it sees fit (providing only "just compensation" under the Fifth Amendment).

Conservatives should cringe at the government overreach. Liberals should scorn at the favoritism toward rich corporations.

Doesn't private property mean anything in this country? I can see government clearing the way for a needed road, school, or public utility. I can even see an argument for something privately owned but publicly used, such as a sports stadium. But knocking down hundred-year-old homes for a business complex and a parking lot is not "public use".

In this case, people lived in the homes for decades. Some families owned them for more than 100 years.

This is not just a legislative concern, because the public won't bother itself with every zoning issue. Besides, the public has no right to vote to take away what belongs to me.

If Congress is so hot on constitutional amendments lately, then here's one that both sides should agree on and would restore more rights on the people. Return eminent domain to its original intent.

Free Speech for the Dumb: This keeps coming up, and each time Congress gets closer and closer to passing it. I've never seen an American flag get burned (other than on TV), but apparently it's dangerous enough that our government feels the need to restrict freedom of expression through a constitutional amendment for the first time ever to protect us.

I love this country. But I would rather see the flag burned millions of times than see our Constitutional rights go up in smoke.

People who burn the flag in protest are a bunch of idiots. And that's why it's important that we protect their rights. I want to make it as easy as possible to spot an idiot from across the street.

That's one of the unintended benefits of the First Amendment -- it helps identify stupid people. Imagine if Michael Moore were locked up for disagreeing with President Bush. He would become a martyr of sorts, a political prisoner who was standing up to an oppressive government, and that would add legitimacy to his cause. But because he lives in America where his rights are protected, he's free to say whatever he thinks. And as soon as he starts railing against Orange Alerts and accusing Bush of invading Afghanistan to install an oil pipeline, you realize pretty quickly he's not thinking about anything important. You can safely ignore anything else he has to say -- all thanks to the First Amendment.

Burning the flag doesn't say anything more than, "ME HATE COUNTRY. ME WANT TO BURN IT. OOH, FIRE PRETTY. OW! FIRE HOT!" I trust these morons to speak their minds more than I trust my government to decide what I'm allowed to say.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Zero Tolerance: The Washington, DC, city council should vote to ban bars and restaurants from selling alcohol, one of the council members argued. Alcohol is a dangerous, addictive drug that adversely affects the health of the user and is dangerous and uncomfortable for bystanders, she said.

Then she withdrew the proposal -- but not before noting that she is making the same arguments for banning alcohol that others on the council are making for banning cigarettes in restaurants and bars.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Limited Choice: Texas is going another step further in restricting abortion rights -- soon to require girls under the age of 18 to get parental consent before terminating a pregnancy.

The state already has a parental notification law -- parents must be aware but don't necessarily have to give permission. The Houston Chronicle has an article about how this has changed girls' lives. One girl waited three months before she had the nerve to tell who parents, who ultimately convinced her to give the baby up for adoption. Another girl had to sit through a 45-minute discussion with a judge before finally getting permission to bypass notifying her drug-addict/violent mother.

I don't like parental-notification/consent laws. All they do is make a difficult situation that much harder. I had friends in high school who got pregnant. And I can't describe the relief they expressed when they found out that they could get an abortion without letting their parents know.

People say such a surgical procedure is too important of a decision for a teenager to make on her own. Well, carrying a pregnancy to term and becoming a mother is an even bigger decision. If you believe that teenagers aren't capable of making such decisions, then you should just as easily stand for a parental-consent law for baby delivery -- a teenager would be required to get an abortion unless she got consent from her parents to take her pregnancy to term.

That example, of course, is not to be taken seriously. But it shows that this flies in the face of pro-lifers who say this is a "parents issue" and not an "abortion issue". Parental consent laws are meant to restrict abortions, plain and simple.

The article does say that teen abortion rates have decreased noticeably since the notification law came into effect. It doesn't say whether teen pregnancy rates are down at all, though. And personally, I think we should work to create fewer teenage mothers, not more. The best way to do that is to educate teenagers to help them prevent getting pregnant in the first place.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Dead Wrong: Conservatives always butt heads against science, and conservatives always lose. Something to keep in mind next time someone hands you a Bible in place of a science book.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Lesson Learned: A law student sues her law school for giving her an F. At least she's learning something while she's there.

Stop Digging: This issue of the Downing Street Memo has gone on for too long. Some critics wave this around like it's the smoking gun that proves that Bush is a lying war monger.

We have to remember that this is just one interpretation of the administration's plan of attack. But let's just assume the worst of it is true: The Bush Administration had determined as far back as 2002 that America would need to take military action to oust Saddam Hussein.

Good for them. I guess they realized that after 10 years, Hussein wasn't going to change his ways. A decade's worth of disobeying the United Nations wasn't going to change overnight. Does this mean that they were going to invade Iraq even if Saddam Hussein suddenly complied? No. It just means the administration was smart enough to know this would never happen.

Iraq has been a sore spot for a decade. Clinton didn't know what to do. He believed that country was harboring WMD, but there was no real excuse to invade. Instead he launched missile attacks. Then after 9/11, the threshold for military action was lowered, because our national security was at risk. And Bush spent years planning for an invasion that seemed inevitable. What is wrong with this exactly?

We can't ignore that the Middle East is the main breeding ground for the international terrorism that is a threat to our national security. And we couldn't successfully wage a War on Terrorism with Saddam Hussein continually breaking the provisions of the 1991 cease-fire, supporting international terrorism himself, and apparently developing weapons of mass destruction.

It turns out, of course, that we were gravely misinformed as to the extent of his WMD capabilities. That's a serious issue -- in fact, I'd say the incompetence of our intelligence agencies is more serious than any problems Bush has. So it's time to stop trying to find something, anything, to pin on Bush to detract from his progress in Iraq. We're there, we're doing some good, now we should make sure the mission in Iraq is a success.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

All Too Familiar: They say history repeats itself. Unfortunately that includes the ugly parts, such as the current genocide in Sudan acting as a rerun of what happened in Rwanda and in many other instances all over the world throughout the centuries. And the longer the crimes against humanity go unpunished, the harder it is to stop the atrocities from continuing. From the Coalition for Darfur.

The Future of Darfur

There can be no doubt that, relatively speaking, the crisis in Darfur has generated a fair amount of attention. Journalists, human rights experts, and bloggers have poured a lot of energy into raising awareness of the genocide and the 400,000 lives it has taken. Unfortunately, this focus on Darfur only highlights the lack of attention being paid to other, arguably even more horrific, crises in Africa.

For instance -- Uganda:

Eight people are shot, hacked and beaten to death and their bloodied corpses dragged to the middle of a dirt road for aid workers to find.

Six other fatally wounded victims are left lying nearby, screaming in agony. They die hours later.

After nearly two decades of bloodshed, Ugandans are asking why atrocities such as this May 27 attack by Lord's Resistance Army rebels still plague the traumatized people of the north -- and why they seem to have been forgotten by the world.
And the Democratic Republic of Congo:

Militiamen grilled bodies on a spit and boiled two girls alive as their mother watched, U.N. peacekeepers charged Wednesday, adding cannibalism to a list of atrocities allegedly carried out by one of the tribal groups fighting in northeast Congo.

The report came as a key U.N. official said the ongoing violence in Congo, claiming thousands of lives every month, has made it the site of the world's worst humanitarian crisis.


"Several witnesses reported cases of mutilation followed by death or decapitation," the report said. The U.N. report included an account from Zainabo Alfani in which she said she was forced to watch rebels kill and eat two of her children in June 2003.

The report said, "In one corner, there was already cooked flesh from bodies and two bodies being grilled on a barbecue and, at the same time, they prepared her two little girls, putting them alive in two big pots filled with boiling water and oil."

Her youngest child was saved, apparently because at six months old it didn't have much flesh. Alfani said she was gang-raped by the rebels and mutilated. She survived to tell her horror story, but died in the hospital on Sunday of AIDS contracted during her torture two years earlier, the U.N. report said.
In Uganda, the Lord's Resistance Army has abducted some 20,000 children and forced them to become either soldiers or slaves. The attacks have displaced nearly 2-million people and every night, tens of thousands of children trek to the cities to sleep, in hopes of avoiding the rampant kidnapping. For years, the LRA had been supported by the government in Khatroum, the same government now responsible for the genocide in Darfur.

In the Congo, an estimated 3.5-million people have died of disease, starvation and violence since 1998. The situation in the Congo can be directly traced to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which itself took nearly 1-million lives. There are currently 19,000 UN peacekeepers in the Congo with a mandate to disarm the militias, but so far they only attention this peacekeeping force has received has come from allegations that soldiers are sexually abusing the residents of the DRC.

Darfur is an anomaly only to the extent that it has managed to generate a significant amount of coverage and global attention. But if the world does not act soon to address this genocide in Sudan, is it all but inevitable that it too will eventually evolve into years-long, seemingly intractable conflict such as those found in Uganda and Congo?

And as we've seen with Congo and Uganda, once that happens, the world will stop paying attention entirely.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Colored Point of View: The criminal justice system in this country is crippled by racial tensions. Blacks don't trust whites, and whites don't trust blacks. As a result both groups can look at the same case and see completely separate things.

This is what happened in the OJ case, and now it has apparently happened in the Michael Jackson case. Through their limited knowledge of the trial, most whites believe Jacko was guilty while most non-whites believe he was innocent.

Everybody knows about this divide. That's why prosecutors in Texas decided to dismiss as many black jurors as possible when aiming for a conviction in a death penalty case. They knew blacks would distrust the white system and would empathize with the defendant, regardless of the facts in the case.

The Supreme Court rightly overturned that conviction, citing the racism in the jury selection. Now I have no knowledge of the circumstances of that particular case, and I strongly support the death penalty. But what the Texas prosecutors did only breeds more resentment from racial minorities, and develops more distrust.

I'm angered every time I hear about a black juror refusing to render a guilty verdict simply because that juror doesn't want to agree with whites. And I get equally pissed off when whites exclude blacks from the process to prevent that from happening, inadvertently making the criminal justice system even more corrupt.

This isn't something I realistically believe can be fixed in my lifetime. But I hate to see any actions that make it worse. And it will be up to the criminal prosecutors to earn the trust of the public at large, not just part of it.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sign of the Times: I know I shouldn't be too surprised about violence breaking out in the Middle East. And this bombing in Iran was small for the region -- only nine people died.

But Iran is blaming Iraqi Baathists. While that doesn't mean much now, it still makes me nervous. I'm hoping that means Iran will offer some intelligence expertise to help hunt down the Iraqi insurgents and terrorists. But I'm afraid that Iran may eventually want to get involved militarily in Iraq.

Such action isn't imminent. But if the violence in Iraq isn't quelled and it starts spilling into neighboring countries, things may heat up between these nations again.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Aptitude: Y'all remember this?

Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I'm sure the candidates' SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead.
That was from Howell Raines a few months before the election. We now know, thanks to Kerry's incompetently run campaign and his subsequent release of his college transcripts as well as comparisons of military scores, that he is not smarter than Bush. And we have further evidence that not only is Howell Raines biased, he is still a total dick. (Have you heard the stories of the way he ran the NYT? The way he treated his reporters, I'm surprised the mutiny didn't happen sooner.)

People who read this blog know that I like Bush, even though I disagree with many of his political positions, and I'm a big fan of his aggressive fight in the War on Terrorism. I can see how people can differ on his views, and I can even see how some people would disagree with everything he does.

But it amazes me that people still think he's so dumb. This is a myth that's perpetuated by the media, which surprises me. I interviewed Bush several times while he was governor of Texas. When people asked me what he was like, I always answered first that he seemed incredibly intelligent, really sharp -- on top of things.

Since then he has made many verbal gaffes and grammatical blunders. He's not a refined public speaker -- which is a huge liability when you're President of the United States.

But anybody who believes Bush is a dunce and that all of his opponents are Einsteins is just underestimating the president. And maybe that's why they keep losing to the guy.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Killing Time: There's that scene in Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, where Queen Amidala says, "I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die while you discuss this invasion in a committee!" Now the much ballyhooed International Criminal Court is investigating war crimes in Sudan. But results could take years. And action still seems like a distant fantasy. From the Coalition for Darfur.

The Slow Reaction

The big news regarding Darfur this week is that the International Criminal Court has formally announced that it is conducting an investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity in the region.

This investigation is a welcome, if belated, step -- but one that is also unlikely to have much of an immediate impact on the violence, disease, and starvation that plagues the region.

The investigation is the result of a UN commission of inquiry that began in September 2004. Established under UN Resolution 1564, the commission took three months to investigate "violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur by all parties, to determine also whether or not acts of genocide have occurred." In the report it issued in January 2005, the commission declared that genocide was not taking place, but that "serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to crimes under international law" had indeed occurred. The report went on to recommend that the UN Security Council refer the situation to the ICC for possible prosecution.

In April, the Security Council did just that and turned over evidence gathered by the commission, including the names of 51 people suspected of punishable crimes. And now, two months later, the ICC has finally begun an investigation.

It has taken nine months from the time the Security Council authorized the commission to investigate the crimes in Darfur to reach the point where the ICC has finally launched an official investigation.

The ICC has only been in existence for three years and has yet to indict or hold a trial for anyone connected with either of its two other cases, despite the fact that the ICC began its probe of Uganda in January 2004 and the Congo in April of the same year.

Furthermore, the ICC statute itself contains a provision (Article 17) regarding "complementarity" that grants states the priority to try their own citizens for crimes that fall within the ICC's jurisdiction. The ICC thus has no jurisdiction over these cases unless it can be determined that "the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution." And making that determination is going to take time.

Considering that Khartoum has already begun to look at ways to exploit this provision and is openly rejecting calls to cooperate with the ICC, it is likely that, as Nat Hentoff noted, "It will be at least a year, maybe two, before the ICC even issues its first indictments."

We ask you to join the Coalition for Darfur as we attempt to raise awareness of this genocide and collect contributions for worthy organizations providing life-saving assistance to the forgotten people of Darfur.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

High Court: It seems some people are entertained by the fact that conservatives and liberals appeared to have switched sides on the states-rights debate with the Supreme Court decision on medical marijuana.

I've said this before. Neither side supports states' rights outright. Most people only use it to push their own agenda. But when the situation is reversed, they give up on states' rights altogether.

One person who decided to stay consistent to principles is Rush Limbaugh. Although I believe he's against legalizing medicinal marijuana, he criticizes the court's decision. Maybe rehab really works.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Our Faithful Allies: This probably won't surprise anybody, but it's interesting nonetheless. According to a new poll, the United States is more religious than our closest allies. Not only are Americans more likely to worship than are citizens of other countries, some people here don't mind a little mix of church and state.

Of the countries polled, the U.S. had the highest percentage of people saying that religious leaders should actively try to influence government decisions. But, even in the U.S., only 37 percent want that religious influence in government, and 61 percent oppose. While that's a higher demand for religious influence than in other countries, it's still a minority here, so no theocracy anytime soon.

On the other extreme was France, with 12 percent of the population wanting religious leaders to influence government, and 85 percent opposed.

Under this president, religion has become more of a political issue than it has been in the past. And we also have had some pretty fundamental differences with our allies. I know there's so much more going on than that, but it is something to keep in mind.

Friday, June 03, 2005

It Adds Up: At least 12,000 civilians dead at the hands of the Iraqi terrorists and insurgents. They aren't targeting the American troops there, our enemy is attacking the Iraqi people who want to live in a free country.

I know this quote has been overused, but it still angers me every time I read it.

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.
Forget all of his other lies. This is enough to remember never to trust anything Michael Moore says ever again.

Issues: I wasn't around for the whole Watergate ordeal when it was going down. But I'm learning that it has left a big emotional scar on the Right. Now it looks like this whole Deep Throat thing has touched quite a nerve with some of the wing-nut conservatives.

So many of the Rabid Right have come out of the woodwork to blame the whole affair on Mark Felt. Buchanan calls him a "traitor". Liddy questions his morals. Novak criticizes him for leaking government information (???).

Just a little advice here: You're not going to get any sympathy defending Richard Nixon. I'm sure he did some good things. Starting the Environmental Protection Agency? Yay! Gold star.

Now, about all the illegal surveillance, crooked cover-ups, and misuse of power. I'm sure other presidents have done it and have gotten away with it. But Nixon's abuse of power was over the top, and he got caught. Don't blame Mark Felt for that. And don't say this caused the problems in Cambodia. Things were messed up there before Deep Throat took an interest in Bob Woodward's flower arrangement.

I used to think that the Left was obsessed with Watergate, comparing every GOP president to Nixon. Now I see the Right's obsession is worse. This explains the unnecessary impeachment of Clinton. The Right just wanted to brand a Democratic president a criminal as well. But it didn't work, and it won't work. It just makes these conservatives seem all the more extreme.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Strangely Quiet: Apparently the TV show, 24, had to be purified for your protection. The series was criticized for depicting international terrorists as Middle Eastern, so the script was given a quick rewrite. This isn't the first time such a thing has happened. In the book, The Sum of All Fears, the terrorists are Muslim. In the movie, they were changed to Neo Nazis.

Pardon me, but Neo Nazis are not an international threat. They are a bunch of shaved-head hooligans who burn stuff and listen to bad music.

Evan Coyne Maloney notices that this isn't angering many of the Hollywood types who would spit fire if anyone else tried to alter the content of anything.

Tim "Chill Wind" Robbins cries censorship whenever anyone exercises their right to speak by criticizing Hollywood, but when the pressure groups come along to sanitize Hollywood's content, all the brave speakers sit silent.
These people wouldn't know real censorship if it were taped across their faces. Instead of protecting against possible censorship, they use the accusation as a tool to attack anyone who disagrees with them.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Progress: We're trying to get the international community to pay attention to the genocide in Sudan. Now, instead of ignoring the problem, the U.N. is glossing over it. Let's hope we can keep the U.N.'s attention long enough until they have to admit we have a serious problem. From the Coalition for Darfur.

Improvement is in the Eye of the Beholder

Jan Pronk, U.N. envoy to Sudan, recently said that Secretary-General Kofi Annan was greatly impressed by improvement of the situation in Darfur. In Pronk's words:

"Mr. Annan was really impressed by the improved situation in Darfur, which he visited on Saturday," Pronk told a press conference in Khartoum.


"Foreign press reports, especially in the American press, which speak of no progress in Darfur are completely untrue," he added.
At the time Annan was in Darfur, The Scotsman was reporting that:

Confidential African Union (AU) reports have provided damning new evidence of the involvement of Sudanese government forces and their Janjaweed militia allies in the murder and rape of civilians in the Darfur region.
At the same time, two aid workers from Doctors Without Borders were arrested because of a recent report documenting hundreds of cases of rape in the region.

On top of that, the World Food Program reported that the number of people requiring food aid in Sudan is now more than 6-million, while the UNHCR reported that Janjaweed and government attacks have all but destroyed village life and forced some 2-million people into makeshift slums. With the majority of villages destroyed and insecurity rampant, it is not surprising that the displaced have become entirely dependent on foreign aid and are increasingly unwilling to return home.

As Eric Reeves explained in his most recent update:

Sometime in the summer of 2004 (we will never know precisely when), genocidal destruction in Darfur became more a matter of engineered disease and malnutrition than violent killing. In other words, disease and malnutrition proceeding directly from the consequences of violent attacks on villages, deliberate displacement, and systematic destruction of the means of agricultural production among the targeted non-Arab or African tribal groups became the major killers.
According to a recent International Crisis Group estimate, "a minimum presence of 12,000-15,000 [military] personnel is needed now to undertake the tasks of protecting villages against further attack or destruction." But as it stands now, the African Union hasn't even been able to deploy the 3,000 or so troops required under its current mandate and will most likely be able to field the 7,000-12,000 troops called for in its expanded mission.

Thus, it is rather difficult to comprehend just what sorts of "improvement" Annan and Pronk claim to have witnessed in Darfur.

The international community continues to fail to seriously addresses this crisis and so we ask you to join the Coalition for Darfur as we attempt to raise awareness of this genocide and collect contributions for worthy organizations providing life-saving assistance to the forgotten people of Darfur.

Too Shallow: Howard Kurtz recognizes the legacy of Deep Throat.

Too many journalists became sloppy with anonymous sources, some of whom didn't have first-hand knowledge of what they were talking about, and some reporters tried to pump every two-bit scandal into a "-gate." Having been lied to by the Nixon White House, journalists became more confrontational, more prosecutorial and more willing to assume that politicians must be lying. And the news business is still paying the price for some of those excesses.

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