the skeptic

Friday, August 8
Weird to see an editor's comments in the NYT:
The manual had its beginning 100 years ago when typesetters at the University of Chicago Press wrote up a list of dos and don'ts. The first edition was published in 1906. It had some endearing advice. Page 99: 'Read everything as if you yourself were the author, and your reputation and fortune depended upon its accuracy.' On the same page: 'Don't stultify yourself and discredit the office by asking foolish questions on the proof.' (All editors take note.) [No commercials, please. Ed.]

Wednesday, August 6
Maybe our troops aren't spread as thin as the skeptic thought...

Update: The linked picture has now been changed (lost in the land of Yahoo).

Tuesday, August 5
The WP picks up an important connection that the skeptic made a week ago.
As the first unit of Nigerian peacekeepers touched down in Monrovia today to try to halt Liberia's civil war, human rights advocates are criticizing the legacy of the organization that sent them. These activists have urged the United States, the United Nations and African leaders to ensure that the group -- the Nigerian-led Economic Community of West African States -- is held accountable if its troops commit crimes in Liberia.

During more than 13 years as the region's principal peacekeeper, the organization has helped restore an elected leader to power in Sierra Leone and provided a safe haven in Monrovia for more than 1 million people through the early 1990s. But it has also gained a reputation for ruthlessness and corruption, looting property, arming local militias and conducting summary executions. Human rights organizations have sharply criticized the group, and the United Nations and the State Department have taken notice.
In Sierra Leone, Human Rights Watch documented 180 cases of summary executions in 1999 by West African forces or by Sierra Leonean militias under their command. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and the State Department also cited reports of illegal killings by the Nigerian-led force, including a case in which West African troops killed an 8-year-old boy who was caught with a pistol and given no trial. One West African military officer, dubbed "Captain Evil Spirit" by local residents, oversaw the execution of at least 98 people on a bridge, according to a 1999 Human Rights Watch report.

"Small groups of young men were brought to the entrance to the bridge in trucks and cars, and arrived usually stripped down to their underwear and often with their hands tied," the report said. "They were then marched onto the bridge where they were executed and thrown into the bay."

On Jan. 11, 1999, West African forces executed more than 50 rebels in and around the Connaught Hospital, according to several witnesses interviewed by the New York-based rights organization. "Wounded rebels were dragged from their beds and executed within the hospital grounds, or shot directly in their beds or as they tried to flee on crutches and in wheelchairs," the report said. "Others were executed in the morgue where they were caught trying to hide among the corpses."

Nigeria's chargé d'affaires at the United Nations, Ndekhedehe Effiong Ndekhedehe, said none of the allegations against Nigerian peacekeepers has been "substantiated." "By and large our troops are well disciplined," Ndekhedehe said in an interview today. "They behave themselves. We are governed by the rules of engagement laid down in the Geneva Conventions, so our troops know what to do." (emphasis added)

Slate also has a roundup of international media's take on Liberia.

Slate has an interesting feature to keep up with: A week of diary entries from a Zimbabwean activist. Here's how it begins:
These days, in the early morning while lying in bed, I do a reality check.

Q. Where am I?
A. Harare, Zimbabwe.

Q. Who am I?
A. Bev Clark, activist.

Q. What am I going to do to?
A. Anything to bring Robert Mugabe down.
Also interesting:
She asks me what I think of Bush's trip to Africa. I say that I think it couldn't have come at a worse time. The great-white-hunter politician and his flying visit to dispense advice and money. His trip clashes with the African Union meeting, and this immediately raises questions about his sensitivities and his agenda. And then he wants to lecture African leaders about Mugabe's dubious re-election while his own election is shadowed by so much suspicion. But on Zimbabwean streets there are whispers of U.S. intervention and excitement about the effects of Bush's influence on Thabo Mbeki. Pro-Bush graffiti has begun to appear.

An interesting way to make a denial:
It's nonsense. I don't know what they are talking about,' Powell told Radio Sawa, a U.S. government Arabic-language station. 'I serve at the pleasure of the president. The president and I have not discussed anything other than my continuing to do my job for him. (emphasis added)
By issuing his denial on Radio Sawa, it suggests that Powell is most concerned of how the Iraqis and the Middle East will view him (the WP suggests: a lame duck) if he decides to leave. But this dovetails into the skeptic's previous post--how will the rest of the world perceive Condi or Wolfi as a secretary of state? Powell was the reluctant warrior, Condi and Wolfi were hawkies from the start...

Monday, August 4
Two reasons why this story is interesting:

1. This would mean a drastic shift in foreign policy politics. If your leading doves bolt, you'll just have hawks arguing against hawks. how boring.

2. What does that mean for the campaign?