October 3rd, 2004


Well, what do you know?

It really was all about oil:
A LEAKED report has exposed the extent of alleged corruption in the United Nations’ oil-for-food scheme in Iraq, identifying up to 200 individuals and companies that made profits running into hundreds of millions of pounds from it.

The report largely implicates France and Russia, whom Saddam Hussein targeted as he sought support on the UN Security Council before the Iraq war. Both countries were influential voices against UN-backed action.

It also implicates Benon Sevan, the UN director of oil-for-food, who allegedly pocketed more than a million dollars. (Other reports I've seen have a company with which Kofi Annan's son worked making out like a bandit -- and when the story of Sevan's involvement broke, Annan sent him on vacation to Australia. For a month.)

On Friday Night Lights

I'm not one for sports movies, but I might go see the film Friday Night Lights, if only because the book is so great. It's a little morally compromised: author Bissenger, a journalist, got very close to the people involved, gained their trust -- and then wrote a damning indictment of Odessa, Texas and the sports program at Permian High School that left many feeling betrayed. And in all honesty, they're probably right to. But the story is enthralling.

The most heart-breaking thing in the book is the story of Boobie Miles. Boobie was a star. He was a great runner in high school football; though he wasn't a student by any stretch of the imagination -- Boobie didn't do much work off the field, and didn't spend much effort trying to -- colleges wrote him fawning letters on a daily basis, promising him the moon. If Boobie had applied as just a student, they'd have laughed him off. But that didn't matter. Because the kid could *run.*

This is what happened to Boobie Miles: he blew out his knee.

He got surgery and rehab, but he never came back to his best, never regained his fearlessness. And his chance at college evaporated, because all Boobie had were his legs -- and without them, he didn't stand a prayer of even getting in.

Other things in the book come and go; Boobie stays with you. I always wondered what happened to him. The movie's coming out, so now I know.

Dunno if the movie's any good. The book is fantastic.