Plus a final note of apology re. Hurricane Irene
From the HuffPost World report: "With its panoramic views and opulent furniture, the seaside home of Hannibal Gaddafi more closely resembles a luxury resort than a private residence. But a closer inspection of the home following Libyan rebels' ransacking has now revealed some of the unspeakable horrors to have allegedly taken place on its premises -- even among those trusted to take care of the colonel's grandchildren."
Sometimes, faced with a tempting link of a NYT e-newsletter, I find myself trying to establish criteria for clickworthiness sort of the way Elaine on Seinfeld
, faced with the impossibility any more than her current supply of her preferred contraceptive sponge, took to evaluating prospective male companions for "spongeworthiness." Worse still are the times I forget and impetuously click through without taking time for a proper evaluation of clickworthiness. (Luckily, the stakes are less portentous than those Elaine faced.)
So I can't really say that my interest level in the story reached true clickworthiness, but you can't take back a click once delivered, and there I was this afternoon looking at the story, "Qadaffi's Wife and 3 of His Children Flee to Algeria
." No doubt I was primed from having earlier read an AOL-highlighted piece about the Ethiopian nanny of Colonel Qaddafi's son Hannibal's children, "whose wounds appeared to be in desperate need of medical attention" even as she whined about having been tortured by Aline (Mrs. Hannibal) Qaddafi for refusing to beat one of the young uns -- and, oh yes, having worked for a full year in family's seaside home, "with its panoramic views and opulent furniture," which "more closely resembles a luxury resort than a private residence," without being paid a cent.
As it turns out, the "3 of His Children" admitted into Algeria ("admitted through one of the more southerly crossing in the Sahara desert, arriving in a Mercedes and a bus" -- imagine Qaddafis reduced to fleeing the country by bus!) includes, as announced by the Algerian Foreign Ministry and confirmed by Algeria's U.N. ambassador, not just Colonel Q's daughter Aisha and two of his sons, Mohammed and the aforementioned Hannibal, but also their spouses and children
! Oh, were you too thinking of the "children" in that headline as being, you know, children
Oh, there were children packed on that bus -- "many children," according to Algerian U.N. Ambassador Mourad Benmehidi. But they're Colonel Q's grandchildren
, not children. Presumably among the party were Mrs. Hannibal and their insufficiently beaten offspring. One can only hope that their new Algerian hosts will be able to provide referrals for a new nanny, though it may not be easy to find one who works as cheap as her predecessor.
Now this may or may not be of interest to you, but none of this is why I bring it all up. Well, not exactly. We have
sort of grazed up against the delicate question of why exactly the Qadaffi party's Mercedes and bus were allowed into Algeria, and their occupants apparently given refuge in Algiers. In case you were wondering, the NYT report reports:
An Algerian Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of Colonel Qaddafi's future, said the members of his family who came to Algeria were all in Algiers, the capital. The official noted that none of them had been named in warrants issued by the International Criminal Court for possible war crimes charges, unlike Colonel Qaddafi himself, his son Seif al-Islam and his former intelligence chief. [Emphasis added.]
The person I associate most with the War on Anonymous Sources is Salon's Glenn Greenwald, and we've occasionally eavesdropped
on some of his righteous screeds on the subject -- with which, let me say, I couldn't agree more. As Glenn has had far too frequent occasion to point out, the new habit among classier outlets like the New York Times
and Washington Post
of explaining why an anonynous source was granted anonymity
hasn't so much curbed the practice as given it some fancy new window dressing. The Times
policy appears to be that we won't grant you anonymity unless you can come up with a really entertaining reason
, while the Post
's policy appears to be that we won't grant you anonymity unless you ask
But even by these, er, relaxed standards, my eyes underwent some major popping confronted with this specimen. Let's run this through one more time. The Algerian
Foreign Ministry official was --
speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of (deposed Libyan dictator) Colonel Qaddafi's future.
Um, er, huh
? "Because of the delicacy of Colonel Qaddafi's future"? What does that mean?
(Suggestion to NYT Foreign Desk: Couldn't you have given us something more solid, like, say, "speaking on condition of anonymity on account of how it's a month without an 'R' in it"?)
FINAL NOTE OF APOLOGY TO THOSE WHO WERE
PEEVED BY ALL THE ATTENTION PAID TO IRENE
Downtown Brattleboro, Vermont -- as the state suffers perhaps its worst flooding in 100 years. But gee, it's only Vermont, and in truth it's probably less than 100 years.
First, to those outside Irene's path, forced to put up with all our yammering:
So sorry! I realize how tedious are impending natural disasters that may permanently change the lives of other
people. And then when they turn out to be not such a big deal, well, jeez! (Though don't tell that to the folks in Vermont and upstate New York, suffering "Worst Flooding in 100 Years
," but what's 100 years really? And heck, they didn't even get a hurricane, just a ratty tropical storm!)
And speaking of the hurricane turning out to be less big a deal than the worst-case scenarios, to those inside Irene's path who were dissatisfied by the outcome
: Again, so sorry! What's the point of planning for those worst-case scenarios if they don't happen? This group, by the way, includes people who are offended by official "overreaction," like shutting down New York's transit system, which -- to add insult to injury -- then took hours and hours to begin to restart. Just because these folks are too stupid or too lazy to try to understand (a) why it was thought appropriate to shut the system down (and never mind all the damage that was done by the "disappointing" storm, or what would have happened if, say, populated subway trains had been trapped in flooded tunnels, or populated buses had been struck by some of those 600-plus trees that fell), (b), why the shutdown had to be announced so early and put into effect so long before the brunt of the storm was expected, and/or (c) why the system took so long to reboot (including, for example, the tiresome requirement that every foot of subway track be walked before the trains could be restarted), well, I truly am sorry.
Sorry, folks, next time we'll try to arrange a disaster that lives up to your exacting specifications -- and then just keep it to ourselves. So sorry!
ONE LAST NOTE:
You may remember the expedition to Constitution Island
, in the Hudson River opposite West Point, I was planning for Saturday but aborted thinking I could get up there as scheduled before the noon Metro-North shutdown but would have no way of getting back to the city from. It turns out that the great Reenactment Day festivities were canceled
. The tour leader has called to my attention that there's still one more weekend opportunity to visit Constitution Island this season, on Saturday, September 24. I've got my Municipal Arts Society "Starchitecture" tour that day. I thought I might be able to slip up there in time for the tail end of the Constitution Island day, but as I read the schedules (hastily!), the earliest train I could catch would arrive at 3:02, two minutes after the last bus pickup from the station parking lot!
Oh well, as they say, wait till next year.
Labels: Libya, New York Times, storm preparedness, Vermont