:: Friday, May 30, 2003 ::
A look at the red-light districts of Tel Aviv
:: Thursday, May 29, 2003 ::
Slate's "brothel-hopping intern" Avi Zenilman has an entertaining series of journal entries going on about his visits to various houses of ill repute in Tel Aviv, as part of his dad's research trip:
My father is what you might call a "clap doctor"; he's a physician specializing in the epidemiology of dirty little secrets like chlamydia and herpes. We're in Israel thanks to the generosity of the National Institutes of Health, which has awarded him a grant to study HIV/STD rates among Tel Aviv's estimated 3,000 prostitutes.
I like the bit in Thursday's entry about the whorehouse with a mezuza on the front door.
The study, which will be conducted mostly by my dad's Tel Aviv University friend and colleague, Dr. Michael Dan, is three-pronged: First, find exactly where the hookers are and how they operate; second, meet and survey the hookers; finally, gather the data. My dad and Dr. Dan's working hypothesis is that the sex workers are acting as a "bridge population" between foreign workers from HIV-laden places like sub-Saharan Africa and the general Israeli population. Their hope is that by identifying the bridge early, they can help prevent a larger epidemic of HIV and STDs in Israel.
:: Wednesday, May 28, 2003 ::
AC Milan won the Champions League final yesterday over Juventus of Turin after a mediocre scoreless game. Juve's goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, is one of the best in the world, and he was in top form with some fantastic saves, so it was tough to see his teammates squander the great plays he was making. An early bet for next year has to be Real Madrid, which won in '98, '00, and '02, so they're due in '04. That and they keep adding huge superstars every year to their lineup (Figo, Zidane, and Ronaldo in the last three years), although it wasn't enough this time around against Juve in the semi-finals.
Behind the scenes
:: Monday, May 26, 2003 ::
The Financial Times has a series this week about the diplomatic problems in the run-up to the Iraq war. I think most of it is subscribers only, although I saw one part the other day without being a subscriber, so maybe I'll do the free trial thing to read it. Their US editor was on TV last night and said that in one of the installments, they talk about how Aznar urged Blair not to push for a second UN resolution.
The weirdest Israel supporter ever
:: Sunday, May 25, 2003 ::
Hard to imagine a weirder one than Francisco Gil-White, the author of this article about PLO mendacity linked to at In Context. If you click through to the website he writes for, The Emperor's New Clothes, you'll find articles that seem to focus on three main subjects. One of them is this guy's stuff about Israel, another series is about 9/11, and the most written about subject is the Western intervention in the Balkan wars of the '90s. Now here's the weird thing--the 9/11 articles are about how the Bush administration knew about the attacks ahead of time, and is guilty of a massive cover-up, and the Balkan articles are about how the West, the Bosnian Muslims, and the Kosovar Albanians faked everything about Serb atrocities and framed an innocent government. One of the main contributors listed on the website is apparently "a Vice-Chairman of and spokesperson for the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic"! This is truly amazing: someone who cuts through Palestinian propaganda is party to some of the most appalling lies imaginable about 9/11 and the Balkans.
Jonathan Chait of The New Republic has an article up about the dishonesty of Bush's latest tax cut, but the story is for subscribers only. Here's a part with an explanation that I particularly enjoyed, with my own emphasis added:
In recent months, the administration has hit upon another tactic to sell the dividend-tax repeal: Pitch it as a tax cut for the elderly. "If you're worried about the senior citizen being able to live a comfortable life upon retirement, then you need to join us in getting rid of the double taxation of dividends," Bush argued last week. "A lot of seniors count on dividend income in order to survive." A Wall Street Journal editorial made this case earlier this year. Pointing out the disproportionate ownership of dividends by seniors, the editorial argued, "That arresting fact has been lost among the Democratic howling that the President's plan is a sop to the rich. In reality, while seniors receive about 15 percent of the nation's income, Treasury statistics show they are the recipients of about 50 percent of the nation's dividend income." So, reasoned the Journal, Democrats claim Bush's tax cut goes to the rich, but in reality it goes to the old!
Can you spot the logical flaw here? Yes--it is actually possible to be both rich and old. This phenomenon has been documented in popular culture for decades, in the form of characters such as Ebenezer Scrooge and C. Montgomery Burns. And, indeed, the 11 percent of the elderly who earn more than $100,000 per year would receive more than 60 percent of the benefit of a dividend-tax repeal. And those old folks who earn less than $50,000 per year--that is, two-thirds of all seniors--would get less than 11 percent of the benefit. All of which suggests that helping Granny afford the early-bird special at Denny's may not be exactly what the Bushies had in mind.