- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2001

Castro's slaves

"In a recent speech at the so-called World Conference against Racism … in Durban, South Africa, Fidel Castro endorsed the idea that the United States and other Western nations should pay reparations to the descendants of black slaves.

"Fidel would be better off worrying about the reparations he owes to his own people, who have suffered for more than 40 years under his communist slave-camp. …

"Since 1959, more than 100,000 Cubans have experienced life in Cuba's prisons or forced labor camps for their political beliefs. More than 15,000 have been executed for the same reason. …

"The communist elites live in luxury, freely patronizing tourist shops and restaurants that take only American dollars. Yet the regime has a long record of sending average Cubans caught with American currency to jail.

"Ordinary Cubans live in utter poverty. …

"Cuba has gone from being one of the richest Latin American countries — before the 1959 communist revolution — to being one of the poorest. Because of Castro's belief in 'socialism or death,' Cuba is now a beggar nation."

— Jamie Glazov, writing on "Fidel's the One Who Owes Reparations," yesterday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

Dangerous waters

"The recent shark infestation off the coast of Florida … is a perfect metaphor for one of America's biggest social problems. …

"By now, every prospective surfer in the country knows that at least seven other surfers have been bitten by sharks in the past few weeks, all in the same stretch of water off Smyrna Beach, where a surfing competition recently took place. … Some Smyrna surfers … have insisted on braving the waves anyway, which is, of course, their prerogative. But, as always, there's a hitch. … Paradoxically, freedoms don't come free. They come with responsibilities attached. …

"Doesn't it strike you, for example, that this death beach scenario … sounds an awful lot like the sexual habits of a certain segment of the gay male population? In a recent New York Times article on the 20th year of AIDS, Erica Goode reported the sad finding that, these days, your average Priapus is likely to have lapsed again into having unsafe sex. …

"Each young surfer, determined to ride the waves of sexual bliss though he knows the waters to be infested with ravenous, disease-bearing, unscrupulous sharks … jumps in feet first."

— Norah Vincent, writing on "Swimming with sharks," Tuesday in Salon at www.salon.com

Death by entourage

"[Pop singer] Aaliyah [was] in the Bahamas to make a video. … The pilot pleaded no contest two weeks earlier to crack-cocaine possession and dealing in stolen property; he does not seem to have been licensed to fly the Cessna … and the plane took off way overloaded. A Bahamian baggage handler warned the pilot they were putting too much on board, but Aaliyah's entourage told 'em to quit being so picky, they needed to get back to Miami.

"Then her 300-[pound] bodyguard and another man of similar weight boarded the Cessna and … lowered themselves into the two rear seats by the door. With skinny Aaliyah up the front and the two heavy dudes and all the bags at the rear, the Cessna wobbled up into the air and came down almost immediately. Unlike the deaths of Glenn Miller, Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, Lynyrd Skynyrd or John Denver, this is one pop-star rendezvous with destiny you can't put down to mechanical malfunction or poor weather conditions. Instead, as London's Daily Mirror headlined it, 'Fat Guard Caused Air Crash.' …

"Whether Aaliyah herself would have chosen to take off with a crack-convicted pilot on an overloaded plane he wasn't supposed to be flying we will never know, but it's doubtful anyone asked her opinion. One of the sadder aspects of becoming a 'celebrity' — in the Aaliyah sense — is the certain knowledge that you'll be spending your life surrounded by awful, third-rate people — the entourage."

— Mark Steyn, writing on "Aaliyah suffers death by entourage," Monday in the National Post

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