Saturday, August 7, 2010

Marginalia...

…or reactions to events and news reports about them.
  • A NYT story today reports that hard-line Islamic groups are helping flood victims in Pakistan, distributing food and aid where the government fails. They have acted, says the article, “much as the Islamists did during the earthquake in Kashmir in 2005, which helped them lure new recruits to banned militant groups through the charity wings that front them.” Two reactions. One is that the same ambiguous charges are occasionally leveled in the West against Hezbollah and Hamas. Anything these groups might do for their constituencies—emergency assistance, education, welfare—is labeled as “front” activity for terrorism. The Taliban are whipped with the same lash. Presumably they stopped the opium trade in Afghanistan briefly, while they had power, as a “front” gesture. They are the only power that ever did that. My other reaction: The war on terror really is a religious conflict, Islam clashing with Western secularism and vice versa.
  • I note with pleased bemusement that this same paper, for the second month in a row now, shows the same chart, with its story about the employment situation, that I’ve been posting on LaMarotte ever since December of 2009. This month the Times’ graphics designer has also highlighted, for the first time, the last data point in the series, as I’ve been doing since January. My chart appeared yesterday. Yeah. It’s a nice way of showing the reality of the situation…
  • Regarding events, I note here that yesterday’s temperature was finally tolerable after a month or more of horrid heat—and humidity was down to 41 percent, believe it or not. The temperature dropped to 59 degrees F during the night.

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