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Week in Review:
November 25 — December 1 , 2002

Not Enough Time for Big Mac.

Horror Indeed,
But Sufficient Horror?

The Recurring Theme of Blame.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Less than a fortnight into the project, and already we are forced into a painful confession. Several key thinkers in our party of nine, secluded here in the desert hideaway, are wishing out loud that we'd never agreed to selectively scrutinize, analyze, and synthesize the news for a backwater dot com in the Bozath. What a wretched orb, the planet opposite the hidden X, when seen through the lenses of transformative event, downwardly spiraling trend, and conniving leading personality . . . the only lenses they gave us.

Blame is a recurring theme: fixing it, accepting it, denying it. If it were a game, then playing the blame game would be a cavalcade of infinite consecutive exercises in political spin and propaganda, in which the obvious is often ignored in favour of predetermined agendas, and ancient lies are floated as temporal truths, and half measures avail us nothing but aimless diversion or fruitless exasperation.

So, we begin our week in review by peering through the clearing smoke of mayhem's fires in Nigeria. There last week, Islam's willing minions, provoked by the cynical clerics of Allah, raised a riot that left about two hundred dead and a thousand more in hospital. By contemporary black African standards, a couple hundred dead in an episode of communal rage is nothing extraordinary. The Nigerian riots, however, featured an extraordinary supply of the right stuff for media frenzy: churches in flames, gorgeous beauty queens strolling fashionably through safe-house hotel lobbies or peering poignantly through closed windows of the secular cloister, angry young men rampaging through the streets, bodies strewn in ditches, white-robbed champions of Allah condemning the West for sins of the flesh.

To recap in a blur: Miss World came to Nigeria to stage its Pageant, several comely contestants withdrew to protest the death-by-stoning sentence pronounced by Islamic courts upon a Nigerian woman convicted of bearing a baby out of wedlock, a cadre of righteous Muslim rabble rousers denounced the pageant in ominous tones, a Nigerian newspaper writer chided Islam and opined that the Prophet Mohammed — were he in attendance — might be so thoroughly charmed by the Miss World beauties that he would be tempted to make one his wife — and bang! appalled Muslim clerics in defense of the godhead set hell loose upon earth, incited their troops to burn the newspaper office, which roused blood lust, and then churches were torched, a mad attack on all Christians was unleashed, the Christians fought back and burned mosques, apolitical and nonreligious thugs joined the fray to loot businesses and run amok, and by week's end the beauty queens were on jets bound for London, the hundreds lay dead, and the blame game had begun.

Blamed first by Islam and then by reactionary post-riot pundits from the West (including the usual band of opportunistic feminist hags), officials of Miss World countered by blaming the media. Miss World, you were foolish, insensitive and naοve to have brought the pageant to such a tender place. Miss World, you are antediluvian. Media, you incendiary bastards, you transformed our pageant into a "political football." Nigerian President O. Obasanjo echoed the complaint, blaming "irresponsible journalism," especially the newspaper writer who supposed that the Prophet might be attracted to a beauty queen.

No one directly involved or prominently quoted was bold enough to blame the rioters. No one blamed Islam for its lethal insecurity, or Islam's clerics for their irresponsible leadership, or Muslim hypersensitivity for the quick trigger. Intolerance as practiced by Islam today unveils a religious system raised on spatial illusions, unable to inspire its uneasy adherents through spiritual power, but eager to whip and subdue. One would think the Prophet Mohammed possesses more than sufficient mojo to maintain easy immunity from a news hack's glib commentary. One would expect the Koran to inspire more than the fatwa of death, more than shrill condemnation, more than 200 dead in the smoking ruins of churches and mosques in Nigeria.

We're unfair to Islam, of course — but then again, how can any infidel comment on Islam and be fair? We are at war, we citizens of the USA, at holy war with the evil ones . . . and who's your daddy, who's your enemy today?

A New Sacred Name.

In Washington on Monday, President Bush with collegial ceremony signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Now the formal dismantling of individual civil liberty can begin in the sacred name of national security. You might as well chant as an echo "in the name of God the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost" 'cause it's gonna be done with that kind of fervor and just authority.

The President said: "The new department will analyze threats, will guard our borders and airports, protect our critical infrastructure and coordinate the response of our nation to future emergencies. The Department of Homeland Security will focus the full resources of the American government on the safety of the American people.

"The continuing threat of terrorism, the threat of mass murder on our own soil, will be met with a unified, effective response. Dozens of agencies charged with homeland security will now be located within one Cabinet department, with a mandate and legal authority to protect our people. America will be better able to respond to any future attacks, to reduce our vulnerability and, most important, prevent the terrorists from taking innocent American lives."

First in line to be merged will be the Secret Service, Coast Guard, Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Transportation Safety Administration, and police agents of the General Service Administration. Deadline for the first consolidation of internal security power is informally set for March 1, 2003.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Reports of a spacewalk by USA astronauts reminded us of Space Shuttle Endeavour's mission of construction and crew change at the International Space Station. Any time a space shuttle is aloft, the allure and promise of exploration and adventure are seldom distant from our contemplation of current events.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Henry Kissinger, relic of the Nixon Administration and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was appointed by President Bush to chair a commission, "bipartisan and independent," charged with investigating Nine Eleven. Five each of Republicans and Democrats were appointed to the commission, whose august members are not supposed to become witch hunters but rather sleuths, whose inquiry will identify mistakes that can be woven into lessons to help prevent similar attacks. "This commission is not only important for this administration; this commission will be important for future administrations, until the world is secure from the evildoers that hate what we stand for," the President said. "I hope that the commission will act quickly and issue its report prior to the 18-month deadline embodied in the legislation. After all, if there are changes that need to be made, we need to know them as soon a possible, for the security of our country."

Canadian Motor Mouth.

In Canada, the director of communications for Prime Minister Jean Chretien resigned just a few days after her motor mouth got the best of her bad intentions. Last week during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in the Czech Republic, Francoise Ducros was overheard talking trash about President Bush, saying "What a moron" when asked about the President's hard push to rally USA's NATO allies behind the coming war with Iraq. She figured NATO should be more concerned about its expansion into Romania, Bulgaria, and other points east. Prime Minister Chretien remained unapologetic to President Bush, but did say, "I am sorry, she was very good," when asked about the loss of his long-time media advisor.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Thanksgiving, USA's feast day, provided the occasion for Palestinian political theatre of the deadliest sort. Three weak-minded Arab suicide bombers struck a hotel in Kenya, murdering three Israeli guests and nine Kenyan employees. Israelis own the hotel on the pleasure coast of the Indian Ocean in a region populated by Muslims. Almost simultaneously, a Boeing 757 with 271 passengers and crew dodged two missiles just minutes after lifting off the tarmac at Kenya's Mombasa airport. The Israeli-owned jet was bound for Tel Aviv.

When the rockets missed their mark, sober observers here in the desert figured the attack had lost its symbolic value and would fall upon inattentive ears. A jetliner exploding in mid-air from the impact of a shoulder-fired rocket would have created sufficient horror to capture USA's full attention; a few dead here and there from suicide bombers or automatic-rifle ambushes is little more than another bump on the daily path through death, destruction, and mayhem as presented 24/7 by USA news media.

The fear mongers surprised us. Quick to sound the latest alarm, the television hacks by nightfall had begun to project more attacks, most likely closer to home. "How worried are you about this shoulder-fired missile business?" a popular Fox News hound asked. "There's thousands of these things all over the globe. How am I sure I'm getting to grandma's for Christmas and I'm gonna be safe?" Yes, he did say it. We simply cannot make it up any better.

Friday, November 29

Some analysts suggested the Israeli passenger jet dodged tragedy over Mombasa by employing "secret on-board defenses, not pure luck." The incoming heat-seeking missiles were diverted from their intended target by decoy flares, a Reuters journalist speculated. Israel Borovich, CEO of Arkia Airlines, owner of the jet, said: "Our procedure is to look at the worst possible scenario, and the way we acted was according to Israeli security instructions. Israeli evasive security is the best in the world." The jet has an intriguing history. It is one of two Boeing 757-300s owned by Arkia. One of the two was designated "Israel Air Force One" when it flew Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Washington for a state visit last spring.

The death toll rose to 16 after the rubble of the hotel was thoroughly searched for bodies. Meanwhile, USA reporters were struggling with new and better ways to describe the suicide bombers. The Associated Press referred to them "homicide bombers." A CNN babe called them "Palestinian rejectionists."

Saturday, November 30

On Saturday, spacewalkers in earth orbit completed their installation of girders and radiator clamps at the International Space Station, while down-below station, the planet's most famous hamburger vendor, McDonald's, was closing shop in Bolivia.

Sunday, December 1

We wanted to make much about McDonald's departure from Bolivia, using the corporate giant's exit from one of the planet's poorer nations as a pivot point for analysis of world economies and cultural imperialism. Like we did last week, however, we ran outta steam in the time allotted to us — an energy drain caused by too much of the world being with us, and too little personal discipline being dutifully mustered for the mission. We are not yet honed to the task, although we pledge to get there. We haffta admit that fulfilled pledges aren't a strong suit here in the desert enclave, but all the same, we remain hopeful, like a dog at the door, like a thing with feathers, forever believing in the promise of change.

| David Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles |
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