The UN’s performance in peacekeeping missions has been less than stellar, both militarily (Srebrenica, anyone?) and in terms of humanitarian assistance. The most common result of UN forces coming in to “assist” the locals? A booming sex trade wherein UN forces wind up both abusing their positions in order to get sex from the local girls and becoming pimps themselves.
Well, they’ve finally had enough of that and they’re going to get serious this time. Honest.
But as a new wave of more than 2000 UN-employed police and staff prepare to travel to the capital Dili, Sukehiro Hasegawa, the top UN official in East Timor, has acknowledged for the first time that the UN system failed to bring anyone to justice for crimes that included sex abuse of children and bestiality.
Dr Hasegawa declared that the UN’s Integrated Mission in East Timor (UNMIT), which became operational on Monday, would enforce a “zero tolerance” policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN personnel.
He said several UN staff would be employed solely to enforce the policy, which will include briefings for all staff.
Briefings. Yeah, that oughta do it. Best line out of this report, and the 1 line you can bet no UN official is going to even acknowledge, let alone do anything about? Here you go:
It revealed that one UN peacekeeper from an unnamed country sexually abused two boys and two girls in the enclave of Oecussi, and in 2001, two Jordanian soldiers were evacuated home with injured penises after attempting sexual intercourse with goats.
How’d you like to fill out the health insurance application on that one?
Those of us in the blogosphere are well familiar with the UN’s lack of willpower on these issues, so I hope Turtle Bay will forgive us if we wait to see concrete results of their “zero tolerance” policies.
Yet another factor in the Comair crash investigation has come to light. The controller in the tower, aside from being alone up there, had put in 15 hours at work and slept just 2 in the 24 hours prior to the crash. According to the NTSB the controller had 9 hours of time between the end of his shift Saturday and the beginning of the Sunday shift. The rules say there must be a minimum of 8 so this, unlike the fact that he was alone in the tower, is not a violation of the FAA’s regulations.
The Air Traffic Controllers’ union (First PATCO back before Reagan busted their illegal strike, now NATCA) has long maintained that staffing levels in the nation’s towers are too low. There have been numerous tv and newspaper stories with quotes from union reps and controllers alike that we need more controllers and this incident investigation is lending some weight to that position. If the staffing is so tight that a single person calling in sick or taking vacation puts you below the minimum staffing requirement, then you’ve got too few people on the roster. This isn’t like the FAA’s got stockholders or something, they’re a government agency. If they need more staffing, then the Agency should be screaming to the Congressional committee that provides that.
If they have been, who’s been ignoring them? If they haven’t, then why not?
I should point out that the revelation of the low amount of sleep this controller had might be interesting but it is clearly not the proximate cause of the crash. The tapes confirm that he provided the correct instruction to the flight crew. So far as I’ve heard, the controller made no mistakes in the performance of his duties. Aside from the fact that his attention was drawn – of necessity – to the radar screens and away from the traffic on the ground, I haven’t heard anything to support the notion that his directions contributed to the crash.
I await more details from the investigation and will comment more when more is known.
The demolition was delayed a half-hour early Tuesday by safety concerns. At one point, the crowd started chanting, “Blow it up!”
Then, Ruefly and his daughter pushed the plunger.
“Make sure nothing’s left,” Ruefly’s friend had told him.
Ruefly, for his part, said he was “probably more angry at the politicians who made it this way” than at the bridge, a chief chokepoint on the north-south I-95 corridor.
Nobody anticipated the volume of traffic the bridge would carry when it opened in December 1961. The old bridge carried more than 73 billion vehicles, but sometimes caused massive traffic jams when it stuck open. Many commuters also remember the time in 1998 when a man held up traffic for hours as he contemplated whether to jump off.
Although I was never a regular commuter of the bridge, I’ve dealt with the consequences of it’s backlog of traffic plenty of times. Congrats to Mr. Ruefly for allowing a regional catharsis to ride on his actions. And now, the bridge is dead – long live the bridge!
Additional details are coming out about the Comair crash as the NTSB continues its investigation. The ultimate cause of the crash is a simple one: the aircraft needed about 1500 feet more runway to develop sufficient flight speed than she had. By the time the crew ran out of runway, there was no chance whatsoever for the aircraft to take flight. It is, regrettably, that simple. The question isn’t what made the plane crash, it’s why did the pilot get on the wrong runway to begin with?
The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) shows that the pilots noticed something wrong with the runway they’d turned onto. It had no lights, which should have been a dead giveaway that something wasn’t right. Neither pilot notified the tower of the discrepancy.
Coming to light now is the fact that the controller in the tower was up there by himself. At the crucial moment, the controller had to turn away from the field and handle a traffic count, an administrative duty. According to the FAA, the controller was performing both tower operations and radar approach ops. That’s a workload in violation of the FAA’s own directive, issued in November of 2005, which is something that someone at the FAA better have an explanation for.
Also playing a factor was a recently completed repaving project that changed the active taxiway configuration. The lack of familiarity with those changes might have confused the pilots.
DHS Secretary Chertoff has been quoted as saying that the government needs better access to passenger data being collected by the airlines. Doing this would allow the TSA and our intel services to identify potential terrorists even if they book travel across multiple airlines and reservations systems.
So, what do you guys think? Is this just a hugely bad idea to be fought to the bitter end? Is it a great idea we should implement today? If it’s somewhere in between, how far would you be willing to support increased access for the government and what restrictions would you put in place?
Back on the 10th I noted a story about the Wilson Bridge in DC and a contest to be held to allow a commuter with the worst bridge horror story to push the plunger down and detonate the demolition charges that will a large part of the bridge to the ground. Seems that contest has been won and the impending doom of the old Wilson Bridge is now at hand.
A portion of the Old Woodrow Wilson Bridge will come tumbling to the ground with a flash of light on Monday at midnight.
A flash of light — but no actual explosion — will bring 2,600 tons of steel crashing to the ground, Wilson Bridge Project spokesman John Undeland says.
“The charges are very controlled and what they do is generate heat to cut the steel,” Undeland says.
The process will create a “slight seismic effect,” Undeland says.
Yeah, I’ll bet. When 2600 tons of steel hits the deck, it does tend to make a vibration. The winner of the contest was commuter Dan Ruefly whose story must simply be read at the WTOP News site, so I leave it to you to click the link and read. He and 4 of his fellow nightmare-commuters will attend the demolition and the rest of us will simply have to bask in the reflected satisfaction I know he’ll be feeling. Good luck, Dan! Give ‘er a big blast for us all.
Some immediate information has come to light about the Comair crash in Kentucky yesterday. While I still caution people to not draw conclusions ahead of the investigation, there are certain facts that are available and confirmed.
The investigation is concentrating on figuring out why the Comair flight was using the short runway at Lexington. The runway is 3500 feet long which is a real problem for an aircraft like the Canadair RJ-100 since it requires about 5000 feet for takeoff. Drawing on my past experience, I cannot fathom why a pilot would ever make such a mistake given the huge amount of documentation available to him. The airport plates that every pilot I’ve ever known carry with them have details on every airport they might fly into or out of. Every runway, altimeter setting, radio frequency, and much more are reported on those plates. “Puzzling” doesn’t begin to capture this situation.
More to come as I hear more.
An Ecuadorean woman believed to have been the oldest person in the world has died. She was 116. Maria Ester de Capovilla was born in 1889 and has been a widow since 1949. As a history buff, my mind reels when I think of the events this woman lived through. Literally all of the major events of a century, things I learned of in history class or in speaking to my father, she lived as a current event. When she was born, man could still not fly in heavier-than-air aircraft. The telephone was still new technology and not very widespread. “Titanic” was a word that would not enter the common lexicon for two dozen years, yet. There had never been such a thing as a “world war.”
My sympathies to her family and my prayers go to her. May she be in reunion with her husband and her friends, long departed, in that place where no shadows fall.
The TPS is valid for a year and in past years the Consulate had received half of the applications within the first 2 months of the renewal period. This year, it’s down to the last week and they’ve only now crossed the halfway mark. Any idea why?
Immigrant advocates attributed the low turnout to a raft of reasons: summertime languor, a culture of putting off tasks, even soccer. Many Salvadorans, they said, believe a path to permanent residency will soon clear Congress, which remains deadlocked on immigration legislation.
Earth to you Salvadorans: the “immigrant advocates” in this country who trotted you guys out in California and Chicago and fed you stories about how Congress would never get serious about immigration enforcement have seriously misled you. Congress will no sooner put a permanent citizenship path in place by Friday than they will unanimously vote to revoke their own paychecks.
This situation has, however, offered a wonderful opportunity for the rest of us to see what’s coming with that temporary worker program the President has been touting. Faced with a hard deadline to simply file for an extension of their status, this rather large group of “temporary protected status” individuals have decided to simply not bother. Someone else will do the work necessary for them to just stay, they’re sure. No need to get off their own duffs at all. Any day now, yessir, it’ll be any day now.
And if such action in Congress doesn’t come to pass? Is anyone even briefly going to suggest that these 112,000 or so Salvadorans will voluntarily leave? I think not. They’ll stay, in violation of the law, and those same “immigrant advocates” will demand that the deadline be turned into a “suggested-line” and that those same people who were just too darned busy to comply with the law be allowed to make their applications late. This is the shape of things to come, ladies & gentlemen, should we start doing this en masse. “Temporary” workers will come in, miss their extensions, and just stay under the cover of advocates who demand special treatment for people who have no intention of following the law. Until someone shows me they’re serious about enforcing these laws – and this would be a dandy opportunity to do so – I’ve got no reason to think such a program as the temporary worker program will be anything but an unmitigated disaster.
By now you’ve all heard of the “crime emergency” in Washington, DC. There were a number of muggings that took place in the Mall area in DC – that stretch of governmental real estate between the Capitol Building in the east and the Lincoln Memorial in the west. The Washington Monument is there, as are the memorials to the Vietnam War, Korean War, and World War II dead. Flanking much of the Mall is the world-famous Smithsonian Institution. It’s an area of DC that was traditionally quite safe to visit at night. Right up until some armed thugs decided to start stealing people’s wallets.
The Capitol Police and DC Police got into action and started hunting these criminals down, eventually catching them. The authorities have said these criminals came to the Mall from other neighborhoods, riding the Metro to get to and from their crimes.
Now, imagine for a moment that there was a couple of guys who decided, for whatever reason, that they were going to assist these crooks. Not that they knew them, or anything like that, but they were going to assist them in safely getting away from the police by providing, each night, a new change of clothing for these guys to get into as they made their escape so they wouldn’t match the descriptions given to the cops. These guys didn’t make any money off the deal and didn’t accept stolen property in any way. In fact, although they made sure to give the crooks their contact information for later communications, these guys didn’t actually talk to the crooks at all during the commission of their crimes. All they did was to offer needed assistance to these guys so they could successfully break the law and get away with it.
Are these guys part of the “good guys” or are they guilty of aiding a abetting lawbreakers? I would suggest that this is a softball question. Of course they’re guilty. They’re assisting people in breaking the law. In legal parlance, that’s called being an accomplice and that can actually land you in jail.
So, what to make of this puff piece in the Washington Post this morning about a group of people who take to the air in small planes to perform little air drops of water and instructions to foreigners attempting to enter the United State illegally? To read the story, you’d think these guys were dropping in supplies to people who had been hit by an earthquake or a hurricane. They’re just humanitarians trying to keep people from dying in the desert, or so the story would have you believe.
First off, the reason these people are even in the desert to begin with is because they’ve made the decision to break US law, evade our border patrols, and enter the United States, they hope, surreptitiously. No one forced them into that desert. No storm came over them and left wasteland around them instead of the homes they had before. No natural disaster befell that left them stranded with no method of getting the food and water they needed. They went out into a desert – a desert they were fully aware was there – and they did so voluntarily. That they went into it without adequate supplies and while dragging their young children with them changes nothing. They did so of their own accord.
Second, the assertion by these people who wish to enable illegal aliens to penetrate our borders that they “neither for illegal immigration nor against it” just doesn’t hold water (no pun intended) given their actions. Let them tell you themselves:
The first few bubble-wrapped bottles of water burst upon impact, and the intended targets in the desert responded by hurling back rocks. “They thought we were trying to hit them — intentionally,” Alarcon said.
An engineer in San Francisco, who read about the project, came up with a novel idea: Attach small parachutes to the bottles. The engineer bought and donated several hundred 36-inch-diameter surplus Army flare chutes. He also had them silk-screened with information in Spanish on the symptoms of dehydration and heat stroke; the distance from the border to Phoenix and other cities in the West; the local telephone numbers of the Mexican and Salvadoran consulates and instructions on how to signal the plane if a rescue was needed.
(Emphasis mine.) Their flight path takes them directly over the border between Mexico and America. So, tell me, if they’re “neither for illegal immigration nor against it” then why are the only instructions given with these “humanitarian drops” those that tell the recipients how to get to cities on the American side? Why not provide distance and direction to cities on the Mexican side? And if they’re not suggesting that the recipients of these drops should come on in to the US, then why are the phone numbers for the Mexican and Salvadoran consulates given? How about telling them how to contact low-income assistance programs in Mexico once they get back to the Mexican cities?
The implication of the instructions provided with the water bottles is obvious – the pilots want the people below them to press on into the US and are taking actions to enable them to do just that. This is arguably playing the role of an accomplice to a crime. If they’re interested in helping people in the desert, feel free to drop the water and then call the Border Patrol with a report of where they are. The fastest way to help them is to get someone to them that can get them out of the desert. If that’s all they’re interested in doing, if the issue of illegal aliens busting the border is of no consequence one way or the other, then immediately calling the Border Patrol is the only logical choice. That this is precisely the action they are not taking gives lie to all their talk about just being humanitarians.