Views on the News

ANTI-TALIBAN OFFENSIVE: U.S. forces have directly engaged the Taliban in Afghanistan once again, thermobaric bombs are falling: Needs to be done–we can expect more American casualties before this is over–count on it. It’s a cold winter to be fighting in Afghanistan right now. Very grateful to our troops–this hits home and makes me think: I’ve got a son close to fighting age.

IRAQ COUNTDOWN: Doesn’t look like any way out of this, rhetoric building on both sides. We should try EVERY MEANS to a peaceful solution. But if Saddam won’t open his facilities to inspection…he must have something to hide..Duh! Tariq Aziz promises another Vietnam–so did the Taliban. It’s bluster and they know it, but it’s their best shot at scaring the west into inaction. Too damn bad that Bush Sr. didn’t finish the job when he had the chance. It would have been a cakewalk in ’91 with far less loss of life. Now, the outcome is uncertain. Russians will grumble, Europe will grumble, possibly deny use of bases. Regardless, it must be done–keep your fingers crossed. God help the Iraqi people caught in the middle…

TIME MAGAZINE WILL REPORT that the highest levels of the U.S. government believed that a 10-kiloton nuke was pre-positioned in New York following 9/11, according to the Drudge Report. This turned out to be false, but experts believe that it’s only a matter of time…Other fears include a LP-gas tanker detonated in a major seaport…Time to beef up U.S. covert intelligence to a fever pitch: it’s the only defense.

UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS ADJUST DOOMSDAY CLOCK: It would be smart for the world to pay attention to smart people: UCS now places the clock at 11:53. Previously, midnight had been defined as all-out nuclear war. Now, midnight is the detonation of a nuclear device in anger anywhere on earth.

BUSH APPROVES YUCCA MOUNTAIN NUCLEAR DISPOSAL SITE: And it’s about time. In the September issue, **before 9/11**, I warned that this facility needed to be expedited because of danger of terrorist attacks on the hundred or so nuke plants near major cities. Even if legal challenges to Bush’s approval of the site are unsuccessful, Yucca Mountain won’t start accepting waste until 2010 at the earliest. This is years too late–it should be open NOW. They better get this site cracking or we’ll all be sorry!!!

GEORGE W. IS NO LINCOLN OR KENNEDY: Much as I support the fact that Bush has mobilized our resources to fight terrorism, the country would rally around any wartime president. Polls that put W. just behind Lincoln and Kennedy in all-time popularity reflect people’s fears and the immediacy of the moment. Take the poll again in 20 years–W. won’t stand a chance.

PROTOTYPE MISSILE INTERCEPTORS TO BE READY BY 2004: With full deployment to follow. These will be at sites in Alaska. The world is a very dangerous place and getting more so by the day. China has Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles and Iraq, North Korea and others suspected of having nuclear weapons are on the verge of ICBM deployment. Let’s hope the interceptors aren’t 20 years too late. Reagan tried to build this system in the 1980’s. Arms control advocates screamed, because it was “destabilizing.” I’ve never understood the flawed logic of MAD: “We’re secure because we’ll be totally destroyed, so we’ll be afraid to launch an attack, and so will the other side.” What a moronic Cold War throwback THAT is. These interceptors only shoot down incoming missiles: no one is threatened by these purely defensive weapons, period.

UGANDA’S PRESIDENT Claims that Uganda has no homosexuals, crediting this for having slashed the rate of HIV infection from 28 percent to under 10 percent. This is obviously false, and a cruel throwback to the days when HIV was seen even in the West as a “gay disease.” This prejudice stalled work toward a cure and cost thousands of lives. If HIV were a white heterosexual middle American disease, we’d have spent half the national budget on a cure by now.

FORENSIC EVIDENCE SHOWS WIDESPREAD MORPHINE USE IN THE 60’s: The 1860’s, that is. Morphine, widely available in American drugstores in the 1860’s, was used for its recreational and euphoric effects. Syringes from that period recently unearthed in Virginia City, Nevada contained traces of morphine as well as DNA residue which identified the race and age of the drug users. If legal morphine use didn’t destroy 19th century America, ostensibly in “the good old days,” why should we fear legalization today?

SOMETHING’S ROTTING IN GEORGIA: Namely 300 plus corpses stacked like wood behind a supposed ‘crematorium’ that turned out to be nothing but a money making scam. The 28-year old proprietor was a “childhood friend” of one man whose mother had been stacked with the rest of the corpses. This in a town where “everybody trusts everybody” Heard that before? Let’s stop this stupid blind trust, recognize human nature for what it is: we’re a bunch of dog-eat-dog animals who will always take advantage. If this weren’t true, some other species would rule the earth today. How much more evidence do we need?

SPEAKING OF SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: AP reported on Feb. 22 that a man bled to death after falling on the shards of a coffee cup he was carrying. Sounds like a Darwin award winner to me!

PRIVACY NO LONGER ONLY CONCERN OF CRIMINALS: Recent reports predict a 10-fold increase in security cameras in public spaces in the next 5 years. This combined with widespread use of software that covertly logs all activity on computers may severely threaten civil liberties. While necessary in some form to fight terrorism, this level of surveillance will almost certainly be misused, both against law-abiding citizens and non-violent offenders. If this trend continues, we can expect at the very least more traffic-cams and automated tickets. At worst, we could see harassment in the form of selective prosecution of minor drug or vice offenses against those the government would like to silence–among other abuses. Taken to the extreme, this large number of cameras could lead to a bona fide Big Brother mentality in the U.S., formerly land of the free.

9/11 RELATIVES OBJECT TO GRAPHIC FOOTAGE: While I sympathize, I don’t think that CBS should change one frame of the film it plans to air this month. The attack happened to the entire nation, and we deserve to experience it first hand. In fact we NEED to have these images. Those who watched the bodies fall that day will be changed forever, they have a new appreciation for the preciousness of life. Let’s not pretend that this tragedy can be sanitized or Disneyfied–it can’t. The bereaved families know what the show is about and they can choose to turn it off or not watch at all. Censorship NEVER pays. Only through the full weight of experience can Americans come to grips with what it means to us and our worldwide policies. A century ago, death used to be a part of life. Today, we are insulated from death at every turn. We see plenty of make-believe killings, and macho on-screen violence. But when the real violence comes out to play, we cover our eyes. We never see the damage our own policies or bombs cause overseas, and that makes us less likely to get to the root causes of why these attacks happened to us. Seeing real death up close and personal makes us less likely to be jaded by cold casualty statistics. If we’ve watched one of our own splatter the day before, and then we hear about Palestinian civilians being shot or bombed in the Gaza strip, we won’t be so insensitive. Democracies only function when they are informed. We are not children–we don’t need Daddy Censor to protect us. Let’s grow up and face this scary new world.

[UPDATE ON 9/11 DOCUMENTARY: Turns out CBS never had any graphic footage after all. The Naudet brothers, who chanced on the scene with their cameras, self-censored by turning away from all such scenes as they happened. As an editor, I find this abhorrent. Get the coverage, make those decisions later. Footage deliberately forgone is a tremendous waste of opportunity. Chance presence with a camera at a historic event confers a special responsibility to be the eyes of the world. What if news cameramen at Pearl Harbor had decided the scenes were too horrible and turned away? The world would have lost much of the lesson it learned from those events. Enough said.]

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