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Inside the System

May 11, 2001 | Page 6

Bush the bauble
Bugs the bigot
Heard it through the grapevine

Human wrong righted

THE U.S. finally lost its seat on the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Commission.

Since the UN was founded in 1947, the U.S. has held a seat on the body charged with probing human rights abuses around the world. The U.S. came in fourth behind France, Austria and Sweden in balloting for three seats allocated to Western nations that were up for re-election.

Republicans scampered to attack the UN--and deflect blame from President Bush's delay in appointing a U.S. ambassador to the UN. "This is emblematic of the increasing irrelevancy of some international organizations," said Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.). Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) explained the vote as revenge for U.S. attempts to pass a resolution critical of China at this year's meeting of the commission.

But resentment against the U.S. in the UN has been growing for many reasons. First, there's the $1.7 billion in back dues that the U.S. has owed the UN for years. The Bush administration's opposition to the Kyoto climate treaty and plans for a missile defense shield also contributed to the vote against the U.S., according to several Western diplomats.

Joanna Weschler, the UN representative of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said both Western and developing countries bore grudges against the United States. "In recent years, the United States often failed to support important human right initiatives," she said. "These include a measure calling for AIDS drugs to be made available to all, the treaty to ban land mines and the International Criminal Court."

--Reuters, May 4, 2001

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Bush the bauble

A NEW digital craze is sweeping the world's most populous country. Released in April to little interest in the U.S., Eruptor Entertainment's PortaBush software toy hit big in China. Players feed their PortaBush, keeping him happy, and help him to make vital national decisions like whether to bomb teen singer Britney Spears.

The software's designers based in California noticed a spike in traffic coming from China to their Web site, at one point reaching about 2,000 downloads an hour and threatening to overwhelm their servers. "About 80 percent of the downloads were coming from China," said Eruptor Entertainment President Brad Foxhoven. "It's just incredible that it's taken off like this," he said.

The interest in ridiculing Bush might have something to do with the U.S. spy plane that collided with a Chinese jet, killing the pilot. The White House had no immediate comment.

But Bush can at least be relieved that he's in good company. The company has created similar virtual pets based on a fish, a monkey, a kitten and former Baywatch star Pamela Sue Anderson.

--Associated Press, April 14, 2001

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Bugs the bigot

ALL THE Bugs Bunny cartoons will air this June on the Cartoon Network as part of a retrospective on the longstanding series--well, almost all of them. Network executives decided not to air a dozen Bugs Bunny that were simply "too racially charged."

In one episode, Bugs is featured parodying a black-faced Al Jolson. In another short, he calls an oafish, bucktoothed Eskimo a "big baboon." And in yet another, he distracts a Black rabbit hunter by rattling a pair of dice.

Executives decided against airing the shorts, citing concern that the episodes might hurt their merchandising ventures. Warner Bros. began pulling the cartoons lampooning Blacks in the 1960s under pressure from the movement for civil rights, according to animation expert Jerry Beck.

Cartoons featuring stereotyped American Indians were taken out of circulation about five years ago.

--Associated Press, May 4, 2001

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Heard it through the grapevine

"[THEY ARE] damn good people. My faith in them has not been shaken one bit."
--Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher on six SWAT officers under FBI investigation for firing bean-bags into a peaceful crowd

"TO BEGIN the war-ending process, Israel needs an unwavering ally in the Security Council and in Geneva to demonstrate to Arab dictators and queasy abstainers that no 'international force' of human-rights hypocrites will intervene to help defeat the Jews."
--William Safire on why the U.S. shouldn't criticize Israel's use of lethal force against Palestinian protesters

"THERE ARE things we will say we did, there are things we will not say, there are things we shall deny, and there are things that will never be known."
--Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on "pacifying" the Palestinian population

"IT'S REALLY a decision-making job, much more so than people really realize. I make decisions every day--large decisions, small decisions, which is a test of my management skills and a test of how firm the foundation on which I walk--a test of the foundation on which I walk."
--George W. Bush on the job of being president

"FIRST, WE would not accept a treaty that would not have been ratified, nor a treaty that I thought made sense for the country."
--Bush on the Kyoto climate change agreement

"WHATEVER IT took to help Taiwan defend theirself."

"THE ANTIGLOBALIZATION movement already has a remarkable track record of hurting the very people and causes it claims to champion...Many of the people inside that chain-link fence are sincerely trying to help the world's poor. And the people outside the fence, whatever their intentions, are doing their best to make the poor even poorer."
--Economist Paul Krugman on Quebec City protesters

"WE'RE LIVING under what many of us believe to be a criminalization of dissent here and around the world. But who are the real criminals? The violence is coming from the Canadian state. The first violence is institutional violence. The free market is killing millions of people all over the world...When laws are unjust, it's criminal not to resist them."
--French antiglobalization activist José Bové; when asked about violence in Quebec City

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