Thursday, April 29, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I Don't Even Want to Know What the Santa Suits Were For.

Will We Never Tire of Being China's Trade Bitch? The Bush administration has decided not to complain about China's treatment of its workers and about its illegal (under international trade rules) practice of pegging the value of its currency, the yuan, at 8.28 to the dollar, which makes the cost of Chinese goods artificially low. Now, it's no surprise that the Bush gang doesn't give a fuck about Chinese workers - they don't care about American workers, either. But the total failure of nerve on the yuan is interesting, because the groups who wanted the White House to do something about it include major manufacturers' associations with a lot of pull in the Republican Party. My suspicion is that the White House realizes it is even more beholden to the Chinese government, which is the last major purchaser of US government bonds on earth (and therefore the entity that is doing more to keep our awash-in-debt government afloat than any other), than it is to the National Association of Manufacturers. The short version: We're so fucked.

Our Proud Heroes of Abu Ghraib Sixty Minutes should be interesting tonight, as the show will feature an investigative report on the court martial of US military personnel who ran the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad last year. The soldiers, and civilian employees of the US military not subject to military law, are charged with severe mistreatment of prisoners including torture and rape. The geniuses apparently took pictures of themselves beating prisoners, torturing them with dogs, and forcing naked Iraqis to have sex with each other (note: Why are there so many photos of American troops doing weird homoerotic things to prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq? Apparently they made naked prisoners stack themselves in a pyramid, the way cheerleaders do, and then took pictures of it: If that's not suppressed homosexual urges expressing themselves in totally psychotic ways, I don't know what is). Apparently, the reservists who were in charge of the prison did not know that the Geneva Convention has rules for the treatment of POWs, and, in fact, had never seen a copy of the Geneva Convention until after they were arrested. The General in charge of the investigation asserts: “The Army is a values-based organization. We live by our values." I am not comforted.

Rampage of the Canyonero Another reason not to like sport utility vehicles: The number of US traffic deaths increased for the fifth straight year in 2003, with the number of SUV-related deaths increasing by an astonishing 10 percent over 2002 (nb: SUV sales also increased by 10 percent in 2003). More than half the fatalities occurred when the top-heavy behemoths rolled over, as they are prone to do, and more than two-thirds of SUV fatalities involved people who weren't wearing their safety belts. Hey, why would you need to? Those things are the safest automobiles on the road, right?

More Bad News A car bomb south of Baghdad killed eight American soldiers today, bringing today's death toll for US forces to 10. All told, 125 American soldiers have been killed this month, and God knows how many Iraqis.

The Imelda Marcos Memorial Government Credit Card Senate hearings this week have revealed that purchases using government credit cards have gone from $1 billion 10 years ago to $16 billion last year. What's that money being spent on? How about: a stuffed dear head, Santa suits, plastic surgery, cars, private businesses operated by government employees, ski clothes, and jewelry? Apparently, the vast majority of credit card purchases are never even investigated - in the case of the stuffed dear head, the Air Force employee who bought it wrote on the purchase voucher that it was to "educate airmen about local deer population," and no questions were asked. Me to government: Give me back my fucking money, you Santa suit-buying weirdos.

-Consider Arms