Good riddance or a new martyr?

Good bye Saddam:

Three years after he was hauled from a hole in the ground by pursuing U.S. forces, Saddam Hussein was hanged Saturday under a sentence imposed by an Iraqi court, al-Hurra TV, al-Arabiya and Sky News TV reported.

The deposed president was found guilty over the killing of 148 members of the Shiite population of the town of Dujail after militants tried to assassinate him there in 1982, during Iraq’s war with Shiite Iran.

The official witnesses to his execution gathered Friday in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in final preparation for his hanging, as state television broadcast footage of his regime’s atrocities.


Better late than never

The AP reports Durham DA Mike Nifong is finally coming under some desperately needed scrutiny:

The North Carolina bar filed ethics charges Thursday against the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case, accusing him of saying misleading and inflammatory things to the media about the athletes under suspicion.

The punishment for ethics violations can range from admonishment to disbarment. The complaint could also force District Attorney Mike Nifong off the case by creating a conflict of interest.

Less safe and less income

It’s bad enough that we aren’t really any safer despite the billions of dollars spent and silly policies established in the name of enhanced security, but can the “pain in the posterior” factor in international travel into the US be given a dollar value?

According to Bloomberg, it can, and it’s over $10 billion a year in lost revenue.

For growing numbers of international business travelers, visa and customs regulations are making trips to the U.S. a thing of the past.

Companies say U.S. rules have become so onerous in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that it’s often simpler to meet customers, business partners and employees elsewhere. Exxon Mobil Corp. has resorted to customer meetings in a London branch office; Ingersoll-Rand Co. says it took one of its Indian engineers three 18-hour trips to get his U.S. visa.

Problems created by the entry requirements have become so evident that the man who initially helped enforce them — Tom Ridge, the first U.S. secretary of Homeland Security — is now working with a business group to change them.

“Our challenge now is to continue to meet our security needs while striking a better balance with how we welcome foreign visitors,” Ridge says.

The number of business travelers to the U.S. fell 10 percent in 2005 from the previous year, according to World Travel Market, a London-based trade-show group. The Discover America Partnership — the group Ridge is working with, an organization of business executives working to improve America’s image abroad — says its survey of foreign travelers found that the U.S. entry process was rated the “worst” by a margin of more than two to one.

Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer of the Washington-based Travel Industry Association, says the situation “is going to have disastrous implications” for the U.S. economy unless changes are made. The National Foreign Trade Council says the entry rules cost U.S. businesses $31 billion in lost sales and higher expenses between 2002 and 2004. More broadly, U.S. business groups say, foreign travelers choosing other destinations might fuel the growth of rival commercial and financial centers at the expense of the U.S. Europe is a major beneficiary: Foreign business travel rose 8 percent from 2004 to 2005, according to World Travel Market.

Corrections, not flip flops

Good editorial in WaPo by John Kerry:

I say this to President Bush as someone who learned the hard way how embracing the world’s complexity can be twisted into a crude political shorthand. Barbed words can make for great politics. But with U.S. troops in Iraq in the middle of an escalating civil war, this is no time for politics. Refusing to change course for fear of the political fallout is not only dangerous — it is immoral.

I’d rather explain a change of position any day than look a parent in the eye and tell them that their son or daughter had to die so that a broken policy could live.

No one should be looking for vindication in what is happening in Iraq today. The lesson here is not that some of us were right about Iraq or that some of us were wrong. The lesson is simply that we need to change course rapidly rather than perversely use mistakes already made and lives already given as an excuse to make more mistakes and lose even more lives.

He sees you when you’re sleeping…

from satirist Andy Borowitz:

In a University of Minnesota survey designed to determine who is naughty and who is nice, the naughty outnumbered the nice by a whopping three-to-one margin, the University of Minnesota revealed today.

The survey, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, showed that 70% of Americans identify themselves as naughty while only 22% identify themselves as nice, with 8% defining themselves as “other.”

According to the survey, Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to admit that they were naughty, while Republicans were more likely to claim that they had been nice, only later to be found out to have been naughty.

Davis Logsdon, who supervised the survey for the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, said that the rise of the naughty, along with the steady decline of the nice, can be attributed to two major factors.

“The Internet has spread naughtiness at a rate that few of us could have anticipated,” Mr. Logdson said. “Also, some of the credit has to go to the Fox network.”

In another part of the survey, the number of Americans who know that they are sleeping was slightly edged by the number of Americans who know that they are awake.

According to Mr. Logsdon, those numbers are the reverse of a poll taken in 2004, when more Americans defined themselves as sleeping than awake: “Some of that may have been due to the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass).”

Elsewhere, obesity may be caused not by eating habits but by bacteria in one’s guts, according to a study underwritten by the American Society of Gluttons.