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A repository of random thoughts, odds and ends, and not-quite-fully-formed ideas.

Archive for September, 2007

Off for a few days


I’ll post again on Monday

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, September 27th, 2007 at 10:25 am |
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Into the trash? Well, not just yet


Here’s a radio segment I heard this morning that I loved.

It was on “Marketplace,”:http://marketplace.publicradio.org American Public Media’s business show.

One of the reporters, Tess Vigeland, is carrying around all the garbage she produces in two weeks. She’s on Day 11.

And though she says her family is good at composting and recycling, she’s still got some pretty smelly stuff.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 at 11:50 am |

Shameful, Iranians charge


Now, the Iranians are complaining about the way their president was introduced by Columbia University’s president on Monday.

They thought it insulting, according to the Associated Press.

Apparently the chancellors of seven Iranian universities have issued a letter today to Lee Bollinger telling him his statements were “deeply shameful” and inviting him to Iran.

Bollinger was aggressive, that’s for sure.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, September 25th, 2007 at 7:24 pm |
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Lost in translation?


Just what did President Ahmadinejad mean when he said: “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.”

I took it to mean that he was denying the existence of any gay people in Iran. So did other news organizations that covered the speech.

But maybe his comment — made in response to criticism of gays and women in Iran — meant that Iran did not allow people to be openly gay “like in your country.”

Bolstering that argument was his comment immediately afterward: “It’s not a crime to be a woman.”

Not that this was any less offensive as a defense for executing gay people.

What do you think?

UPDATE: Seems that I took it the right way the first time. During a press conference, Ahmadinejad demanded the address of anyone who was gay in Iran.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, September 24th, 2007 at 5:46 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

“No gays in Teheran”


The most astonishing statement out of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s mouth this afternoon at Columbia University: “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country.”

He spent much of his time evading answers, giving long-winded answers even when he was asked to respond yes or no.
Yes or no, did he seek the destruction of Israel but he talked about determining the status of Israel through a referendum.

But the comment about homosexuals….. That’s what happens when you’ve got someone live.

I watched Ahmadinejad on CNN. The university’s president, Lee Bollinger, introduced him this way: “Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.”

Bollinger had been ridiculed repeatedly for inviting Ahmadinejad and he was surprisingly harsh. It will be interesting to see what people will say now.

On Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust, Bollinger told him: “You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.”

He might fool the uneducated, the university president said, but, “When you come to a place like this it makes you simply ridiculous.”


Today, Ahamdinejad, said instead: “Why is it that the Palestinian people are paying the price for an event they had nothing to do with?”

On Israel and Jews, he said that there were many Jews living secure lives in Iran and more along that line. In an earlier video conference with reporters — he in New York, the National Press Club in Washington D.C. — he was asked whether Iran and Israel could co-exist in peace.

“We do not recognize that regime because it is based on discrimination…occupation,” he said. “And it consistently threatens its neighbors. ”

“And they discriminate between people,” he said. “They kill people. They displace people. They kill young people in their own homes. How is it possible to recognize it?â€?

The reporters were more persistent than the Columbia audience, but that’s their job. Their questions didn’t always elicit answers either but they kept at it.

What about weapons that the U.S. military has accused Iran of smuggling into Iraq, surface to air missiles, Ahmadinejad was asked and he avoided an answer.

“Are those Iranian weapons going into Iraq?” he was pressed.

“Iraq’s security means our security,” Ahmadinejad answered.

“So is that confirming that those weapons are going in?”

“No,” he answered finally. “This does not exist.”

But he added: “Are you telling me that the U.S. military is defeated as a result of two or three weapons here and there?”

PHOTO: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, speaks at Columbia University. (AP Photo/Shannon Stapleton, Pool)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, September 24th, 2007 at 4:52 pm |

Protesting Ahmadinejad


I’ve just been listening to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad answer questions from reporters at the National Press Club.

CNN.com carried it live on video.

He wasn’t convincing when he told reporters that Iranian women were free, or when he dismissed a question about abuses in Iran, about reporters and bloggers being detained and newspapers being closed.

Two of the journalists have been sentenced to death. When he was asked whether he would give his word that he would do everything in his power to keep the sentence from being carried out, he said the information was untrue and didn’t give an answer.

“This report comes from Reporters Without Borders,� he was told.
And again he was unconvincing.

Hundreds are outside Columbia University protesting his appearance there this afternoon. Hundreds have criticized the university for inviting him to speak — and I heard from some of them when I wrote over the weekend that I thought Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs was correct to invite him.


I still think that. There’s no substitute for seeing someone in person, to hear how they answer questions or avoid them as Ahmadinejad did. He’s the president of a country whose policies many of these students will be confronting.

Here’s what the university president, Lee Bollinger, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America�: It’s extremely important to know who the leaders are of countries that are your adversaries. To watch them to see how they think, to see how they reason or do not reason. To see whether they’re fanatical, or to see whether they are sly.�

Bollinger’s been reviled since last week for defending this invitation.

And here’s a quote from a student who was planning to attend the session.

“The students, by and large, want the forum here,� Michael Clyne, who is studying for a master’s degree in international affairs, told the Associated Press.
“The rest of the country doesn’t go to school at a unversity. They’re perceiving this as a platform for him to simply feed us propaganda, but we’re too intelligent for that.�

PHOTO: Columbia University senior Ari Gardner, left, New York City Council Member James Gennaro, center, and Rabbi Zev Friedman, right, speak to protesters gathered outside of Columbia University yesterday. The demonstration was organized by New York City Council Member David Weprin. (AP Photo/John Smock)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, September 24th, 2007 at 1:40 pm |


Courting the NRA


Twelve years ago, Rudy Giuliani described the NRA as extremist.

“The NRA, for some reason, I think goes way overboard,” he said in an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS. “It’s almost what the extremists on the other side do. I think the extremists of the left and the extremists of the right have essentially the same tactic — the slippery slope theory. ‘If you give one point, then your entire argument is going to fall apart,’ and we kind of get destroyed by that.”

Not what he wants to be reminded of today.

And so when rival John McCain spoke to NRA today in Washington, D.C., he had this to say.

“My friends, gun owners are not extremists, you are the core of modern America.”

He went on to castigate politicians who use crime in big cities to justify gun control and denounce a lawsuit that Giuliani and other mayors brought against the gun industry.

“A number of big-city mayors decided it was more important to blame the manufacturers of a legal product than it was to control crime in their own cities,” McCain said.

Bad luck for Giuliani that a federal court in New York is hearing arguments in that lawsuit today.

Giuliani of course supported gun control as mayor. He now says gun laws are best left to local governments.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, September 21st, 2007 at 12:10 pm |

Disgraced fundraiser charged with fraud


Norman Hsu, the disgraced fundraiser who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hillary Clinton, was accused today of breaking campaign finance laws. Here’s the start of an Associated Press story.

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors unsealed a criminal complaint Thursday charging Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu with breaking campaign finance laws and creating a “massive� Ponzi scheme.

The complaint says Hsu — who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hillary Rodham Clinton and others — violated campaign finance laws by making contributions to candidates in other people’s names and perpetrated a Ponzi scheme to defraud victims across the United States of over $60 million.

Robert Emmers, a spokesman for Hsu, declined to comment on the charges.

On CNN today, Clinton said she was not concerned Hsu would reflect negatively on her campaign.

“No,” she said on CNN Newsroom. “Because unfortunately none of us caught the problems that were there. This happened to a lot of campaigns, a lot of investors who made investments that unfortunately don’t look like they were treated appropriately. The system of justice will work its course, and I think that appropriate.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, September 20th, 2007 at 2:53 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Ahmadinejad asks to visit Ground Zero


Here’s where Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton agree: condeming any plans Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has to visit Ground Zero when he attends the United Nations General Assembly meetings
Giuliani: “Assisting Ahmadinejad in touring Ground Zero — hallowed ground for all Americans — is outrageous.”
Clinton: “It is unacceptable for Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who refuses to renounce and end his own country’s support of terrorism, to visit the site of the deadliest terrorist attack on Amerian soil in our nation’s history.”
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center site, told the Associated Press that it had not received a request from Ahmadinejad to go inside.
A police official said though that the request had been denied because of the construction there.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007 at 8:56 pm |


Rudy pays homage


He was called Churchill in a Yankees cap after the Sept. 11 attacks, and if you need to be reminded, Rudy Giuliani was in London today taking questions from Winston Churchill’s granddaughter Celia Sandys.

Should that not be enough, he was to receive the first-ever Margaret Thatcher Medal of Freedom from the Iron Lady herself.

The three-day trip offered Giuliani the chance to press his credentials as terrorism fighter and evoke Reagan’s memory.

And after meetings with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessor Tony Blair, Giuliani was raising campaign cash from ex-pats in England.


He’s the latest Republican to visit Thatcher and extol the friendship between her and Ronald Reagan.

“That’s one of the strongest relationships that American presidents and prime ministers ever had, between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher,” he said in comments at 10 Downing Street, according to excerpts provided by his campaign.

The presidential candidate has talked about reading Roy Jenkin’s biography of the British prime minister for inspiration after the attacks.

“On the night after the attacks of Sept. 11, I remember getting home at about 2:30 a.m. and seeing on my nightstand a book I had been reading, a prepublication copy of Roy Jenkins’s forthcoming ‘Churchill,’ ” the former mayor wrote last year in the Wall Street Street Journal. “I picked up this biography of a man who embodied every leadership principle I value — courage, optimism, preparation and a determination to stand up to bullies — and began reading about Churchill’s becoming prime minister in 1940….”

Today, of the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, he said: “It is a special relationship that has been forged over many, many years of common objectives, common values. Tested by war. Tested by terrorism.”

PHOTO: Rudy Giuliani answers questions from Celia Sandys, Sir Winston Churchill’s granddaughter, in London today. Giuliani says he was inspired by Churchill when he faced the 9/11 terror attacks. (AP Photo/Akira Suemori)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007 at 3:38 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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