sidebar 2006.02.21
Well, there ya go!

Actually the Salvation Army has its USA organization broken up into 4 territories; I think Ohio is the westernmost state of the Eastern Territory. And the schools (the Army "seminary") are done at the Territorial level, so I grew up hearing about "SFOT" (School for Officer's Training) instead.

Cool though. And of course, there's always Wrigley Field.
--Kirk Tue Feb 21 16:32:26 2006
Crossing our fingers that the landlord accepts us for the apartment, though.

I'm a little anxious about listing my employer here, in MA, rather than listing an IL employer. Still, I've got great credit, a great history with landlords and there's another positive element that shall remain private.

Still, there's anxiety about it.
--The_Lex Tue Feb 21 17:18:23 2006
Ibis, you're so frickin' right. I was considering kisrael'ing on the same issue.

First off, there is a big racist component to it. It's a legitimate question; how much more likely is an Arab-owned company to be "infiltrated" or cast a blind eye to terrorist element. I think the short to that is "not much"... in fact, I think there can be serious advantages in having allies that are closer to our enemy, so to speak.

Second off, I think it misses the elephant in the room or whatever the cliche is: we are only inspecting/scanning a tiny fraction of the shipping containers coming into our ports. I know it could be a huge expense to change that, but it's a much bigger issue than who's administrating the damn things.
--Kirk Tue Feb 21 21:07:06 2006
Yeah. Though I am enjoying the bi-partisan spanking Bush is getting over this.
--Mr. Ibis Wed Feb 22 14:13:00 2006
S'true. A guilty pleasure though, watching a political opponent getting beaten up for what is probably ultimately the right thing-- except he might be doing it for the wrong reason (I.e. a personal contact from the Emerate overnment...)

NPR had a good piece this morning about port security, and how it's really independent of who's managing the damn thing (there have been foreign companies involved for a long time)
--Kirk Wed Feb 22 14:16:32 2006
Everything I read and heard indicated that the particular port company had a financial connection to terrorists, though I'm unclear as to what that connection is, and whether or not they stand by it. There was also the fact that the UAE recognized the Taliban government, but that's just local politics.

However, my Dad's in the Navy, and he tells me great things about Dubai and UAE, and how they're so wealthy they paved the sea bottom of one of their ports in order to cope with all the sand that the Persian Gulf likes to deposit. 

Because of all this, UAE sits firmly in my mind as a capital-A Ally, and Dubai looks like one of the coolest cities on Earth, and I don't care one whit if a Dubai company buys a controlling share in a London company that already is going to be managing the activities of our port. Bush seems to get this as well, and it appears he'll be exerting some of that leadership that he normally doesn't bother with when it comes to Congress.
--LAN3 Wed Feb 22 15:09:40 2006
Also, a quick correction: Dubai is a city, the capital of United Arab Emirates, the nation from whic 2 of the 9/11 hijackers originated. But in this tolerant age, we all know that every one of these countries has its radicals, which is why nobody gives the Saudis a hard time merely because hijackers came from there as well. Noooo.
--LAN3 Wed Feb 22 15:12:54 2006
LAN, that is my problem with the whole thing. There are all these nebulous "connections" between UAE and terrorists. So I say, if there are connections then we should sanction them, if there are not, then why the furor?

As per your correction: there a lot of confusion about whether Dubai is a country or not. From what I can gather it's sort of a city-state, or emerite, in the UAE, but the news reports refer to it as the "government of dubai" who owns DP World, so that doesn't help. Maybe they are using synecdoche. Though they are just confusing the issue since it is not commonly known how the UAE is composed.
--Mr. Ibis Wed Feb 22 18:35:14 2006
Is that so? I didn't know that Dubai's political status was so... erm, unlike what I thought.

Emirates are presumably like fiefdoms-- just today I was reading about the formation of Prussia -- Post-Napoleon germany was composed of over 300 tiny kingdoms, and they merged the lot into less than 40 states, of which 5 were sovereign, including Prussia. Or something like that. Wikipedia does this better than I can.
--LAN3 Thu Feb 23 02:55:07 2006
I think in general James Lileks gets it wrong in his current screed on the subject (one he posted while bracing the regrets for doing same) but he does capture the precise nature of the fear this does and frankly should provoke:

"Im not worried that some evil emir is putting a pinky to his monocled eye, and saying /Mwah! at last I have them where I want them!/ Im worried about the guy whos three steps down the management branch handing off a job to a brother who trusts some guys who have some sympathies with some guys who hang around some rather energetic fellows who attend that one mosque where the guy talks about jihad 24/7, and somehow someone gets a job somewhere that makes it easier for something to happen."

http://www.lileks.com/screedblog/

I think I can live with that fear, relying, however foolishly, on the security measures in place and more likely the other people who work at the ports, in London, and in Dubai, to stop That Guy before something awful happens.
--LAN3 Thu Feb 23 02:59:32 2006
I can see both point of views, even though I can also feel a little disgruntled about two things:

(1) Yet more money getting sent out of the US (but that's more of an issue with the lack of innovative ideas in our country and not being able to attract and retain foreign human capital like we used to be able to) and

(2) The whole Bush didn't even know about the Dubai connection with the security company. At least his press secretary or someone in his administration that has to do with this issue should have had some kind of press release, speech or something prepared to make the President look good instead of like some kind of ignoramous or shifty guy trying to pull a quick one by us that he and Cheney look like a lot.
--The_Lex Thu Feb 23 13:12:53 2006
I find myself more muddled about this whole issue the more factoids emerge.

Like everything else in our approach to security, you have to balance risks against costs. Frankly, you can't cast a net wide enough to get all that Lileks "six degree of bin Laden" squared away, and even the "well we need to do everything we can" approach has significant costs and eventually leads to something like a police state.

Since we can't stop that kind of 6-degrees stuff, we need to have very formal, redundant methods of checking the stuff coming in to our ports.

Also, who knows...maybe that cousin of a guy of a friend at the mosque doesn't lead to a blind eye turned to something slipping past, but instead gives us a security lead that we otherwise would not have had.
--Kirk Thu Feb 23 13:35:26 2006
The real thing to worry about, and this flap is providing a nice spotlight on it, is that US ports only examine ~5% of the containers that come in.


And for that Bush need a big public spanking.
--Mr. Ibis Thu Feb 23 14:55:04 2006
"maybe....but instead gives us a security lead that we otherwise would not have had. "

EXACTLY! Such connections work both ways.
Also, since when did the current trouble mean no-one else is ever going to do something? To pick an entirely random example, employing some Spanish or French people *may* mean that the Basque separatists ETA are able to sneak something in - and what better time, when all eyes are on the Arab world?

My point is that the panic over the terrorist aspect of the port sale is, as everyone says, wildly exaggerated and disproportionate. 
--Catherine Thu Feb 23 21:00:20 2006