United Nations (9/24/08) – Have you ever wondered why Hollywood celebrities make some of the ridiculous comments that they do? Well, most of the time it’s because they just aren’t all that bright. Other times they inject themselves into serious debates of public policy with little or no expertise on the issue. Then, there are times like today, when they are goaded into it by arrogant reporters who ask them inane questions.
At the United Nations this morning, actor Michael Douglas — a so-called “UN Messenger of Peace” — sat with former Defense Secretary William Perry, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik and others to discuss the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Douglas has long been an activist for the agreement, but admitted today that he is not an expert on the issue.
Three different reporters — one from CNN, one from Reuters, and the last I was unable to identify — asked Douglas his opinion of the real world financial crisis on Wall Street based on Douglas’ starring role in the 1987 Oliver Stone movie, Wall Street. One reporter asked him, “Are you saying, Gordon, that greed is not good,” referring to Douglas as Gordon Gekko, the character he portrayed in the film. “My name is not Gordon,” Douglas snapped before making a strained and ineloquent analogy between nuclear testing and the financial crisis.
When the press conference was over, the photo journalists gave smiles, and “thumbs up” to the CNN reporter whose question prompted in Douglas the body language they needed to get their “shot.” Other reporters gave nods of approval for the “gotcha” question that gave them their lead. “Well,” one reporter said to another, “we got him to say he’s not Gordon.” “Yeah,” the other replied, “I’d say that’s a good day’s work.”
I’d say there is a serious crisis in the journalism industry.
News Flash: It’s All America’s Fault
Each year at the opening of the UN General Assembly, the competition for the “I Hate America Most” award is always fierce. But today, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, the head of the Cuban delegation to the UN, put himself in the driver’s seat with his speech to the assembled delegates.
The “sole superpower,” he began, is responsible for “the inequalities and exclusion to which the great majorities of the population of our planet have been condemned.” He accused the U.S. of waging a “so-called war on terrorism,” and denounced U.S. actions as “an excuse for aggression and military occupation, for torture, arbitrary arrests and the denial of the right of self-determination of peoples, for unfair blockades and unilaterally imposed sanctions, for the imposition of political, economic and social models that facilitate imperial domination.”
That was just the beginning.
Increases in world oil prices have nothing to do with OPEC’s manipulations according to Machado Ventura. They have risen because of “imperial war adventures,” and a “criminal strategy driven by the United States.” He called the U.S. trade embargo against the communist state a “genocidal policy” which amounts to “economic war.” He also made clear that the U.S. has no right to protect its own borders when he denounced America as “one that hunts down and cruelly mistreats the illegal migrants at its southern border.”
But don’t feel sorry for Fidel Castro’s protege. As he told the UN delegates, “we have not come here to complain.”