Thursday, June 12, 2003

Famine-struck N Koreans 'eating children'

Instinctively, I don't want to believe it, and when trying to trace down to the origin news releas(es), I keep finding the same two or three tales quoted in articles. Smells fishy. There's a lack of big-name press reports. And yet, I found a report regarding the late-90's famine that made reference to "isolated acts of cannibilism" during that time period, which implies a certain precedent. The article linked above, however, is pretty clear about the lack of substantiation.

World Food Programme - Korea (DPR)

French aid workers report cannibalism in famine-stricken North Korea (1998)

Famine Pushes North Koreans to Cannibalism (1999)

US Institute of Peace: North Korea's Decline and China's Strategic Dilemmas (1997)

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Word History

Apropos of looking the word up at

  1. One who murders by surprise attack, especially one who carries out a plot to kill a prominent person.
  2. Assassin A member of a secret order of Muslims who terrorized and killed Christian Crusaders and others.
[French, from Medieval Latin assassnus, from Arabic hassassin, pl. of hassas, hashish user, from hasis, hashish. See hashish.]
Word History: At first glance, one would be hard-pressed to find a link between pleasure and the acts of assassins. Such was not the case, however, with those who gave us the word assassin. They were members of a secret Islamic order originating in the 11th century who believed it was a religious duty to harass and murder their enemies. The most important members of the order were those who actually did the killing. Having been promised paradise in return for dying in action, the killers, it is said, were made to yearn for paradise by being given a life of pleasure that included the use of hashish. From this came the name for the secret order as a whole, hassassin, "hashish users." After passing through French or Italian, the word came into English and is recorded in 1603 with reference to the Muslim Assassins.

Sometimes, knowledge for knowledge's sake is just damn cool.

hassassin, hassis, hasas are poor renderings of the actual images displayed in's entry. YMMV.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Compassionate Conservatives

What they like to say:
"I've become a much better person since I let Jaysus into mah heart as my Own Personal Savior."

What's closer to the truth:
"I let Jaysus into mah heart, I didn't let in anybody else."

Dismayed, but not Shocked

Unfound Weapons Put Bush, Blair Political Career At Stake

British MPs said Sunday that Blair and his strategy and communications adviser Alastair Campbell should be forced to appear before a parliamentary committee to explain why an intelligence dossier produced in March last year on Iraq was shelved, the Independent reported Monday, June 9.
The six-page report, from the Joint Intelligence Committee staff, said there was no evidence Saddam posed a significantly greater threat than in 1991.
It was written in the same month Campbell told journalists in America the Government would produce evidence within two weeks proving Saddam was building WMDs.
The report was delayed, but six months later Blair said Saddam was continuing to produce chemical and biological weapons.
Campbell admitted Sunday that the U.K.-drafted second dossier on Iraq?s alleged weapons had been embellished to justify war.
He wrote a personal letter apologizing to Sir Richard Dearlove, the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, for discrediting the service with the release to journalists last January of the "dodgy dossier." The dossier "had not met the required standards of accuracy", he said.