Lost In New York

I’ve been away in New York this week, at the IBM Palisades Executive Conference Center. Four days of team meetings with my immediate project team. Four of us are located in Austin, but senior management were in New York, so everyone traveled to New York via New Jersey. Traveling from Newark airport to Palisades isn’t exactly difficult, but it’s surprisingly easy to end up in Manhattan accidentally. There are two main traps I’ll need to remember if I go there again.

Failures of the Free Market: US healthcare

One of the things that continues to amaze me about the US is that Americans seem to believe they have the best healthcare in the world. Truth is, Americans have the most expensive healthcare in the world. A few of them have excellent healthcare, but most get the kind of treatment you’d get in a third world nation. Bloated, blue-collar Americans—gorged on diets of fries and burgers, but denied their share of US riches—are bringing the nation’s steady rise in life expectancy to a halt.

Iraq: The Final Verdict

The results are in: The comprehensive 15-month search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has concluded that the only chemical or biological agents that Saddam Hussein’s regime was working on before last year’s invasion were small quantities of poisons, most likely for use in assassinations. A draft of the Iraq Survey Group’s final report circulating in Washington found no sign of the alleged illegal stockpiles that the US and Britain presented as the justification for going to war, nor did it find any evidence of efforts to reconstitute Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme.

Politics

Wednesday’s Guardian had a story with the headline Bush names rightwing Republican as CIA chief. I half expected to see a story elsewhere on the page saying Study confirms bears defecate in woods or Pope announces he isn’t Jewish. Yes, I’m talking about the guy who says he’s not qualified for a job at the CIA. Also yesterday, Wikipedia’s featured article was MKULTRA. I must admit, I was amazed by some of the details.

Attacked by Saudis? Invade Iraq!

I’m sure there are some people who still doubt that Bush decided to attack Iraq immediately after 9/11, in spite of the fact that the 9/11 attackers were Saudi Arabian and Iraq had nothing to do with it at all. So: PRESIDENT George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.

In case you missed it

President Bill Clinton’s administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its inaction, according to classified documents made available for the first time. Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided not to intervene. Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president had been told of a planned “final solution to eliminate all Tutsis” before the slaughter reached its peak.

So about those weapons of mass destruction…

I know it’s churlish of me to keep harping on about this, but: …investigators have found no support for the two main fears expressed in London and Washington before the war: that Iraq had a hidden arsenal of old weapons and built advanced programs for new ones. In public statements and unauthorized interviews, investigators said they have discovered no work on former germ-warfare agents such as anthrax bacteria, and no work on a new designer pathogen—combining pox virus and snake venom—that led U.

Planet Of The Apes

The 2001 remake. Ugh. I’d heard it was a stinker, but Tim Burton’s made some great movies, so I decided to watch it anyway. It seems from the commentary that Burton was mainly interested in the aesthetics of having a bunch of great actors dressed up in really good ape suits. He does a great job of coming up with a convincing fantasy world of semi-civilized apes; it’s the SF pieces and the plot that make this a stinker.

Now this could REALLY get interesting…

The next World Bank meeting is due to be held in Washington, DC on September 25th. However, DC’s police chief says his force won’t provide security coverage unless the attendees come up with a few million dollars to pay for it—as the force still hasn’t been reimbursed for the millions it spent trying to protect the previous meetings from protestors. Other agencies are also waiting to see if they’ll get paid; having requested 3,000 officers from elsewhere, DC police have only had 700 volunteers…

“Mr Smith Goes To Washington”

I watched Mr Smith Goes To Washington last night. It’s one of those movies that you just have to watch if you’re a movie fan. Unfortunately, I didn’t think all that much of it. It’s overlong at 129 minutes, too sugary in places, and the children are portrayed in a gratingly “Gosh, gee willikers Mister!” style. I’m still glad I watched it, though.