BOB HERBERT, WHERE ARE YOU?

South Africa’s ruling party still refuses to remove value added tax from HIV medications, a tax that helps put such medicines out of reach of those few in South Africa who have adequate private medical care. So Pretoria now won’t provide the drugs publicly; and it taxes the drugs if they are provided privately. Thanks, Mbeki. As opposition Democratic Alliance spokesman, Kobus Gous, said last week, “Removing VAT from AIDS drugs in the private sector is the least this government could do, given its refusal to make them available in the public sphere.” Not a squeak from the usual suspects in America who spent many months demonizing the pharmaceutical companies for letting Africans die. Why isn’t ACT-UP protesting the South African government? Why hasn’t Bob Herbert weighed in? Can you imagine what they would be saying if white people were enforcing these policies?

THE DEFENSE OF COWARDS: “”This story has gained so much momentum that it seemed foolish to avoid it,” said Andy Buncombe, a Washington-based foreign correspondent who penned a 1,200-word account of the saga for the London Independent. “It’s one thing, pure and simple: the relationship between an intern and a congressman who seems to be less than wholly forthcoming.”” – from a disturbing piece about the Condit affair in the Fresno Bee. Notice the story is no longer about finding a missing person or tracking down a potential murderer. It’s about a possible sex scandal. And the justification for pursuing it as a story is simply that others are already doing it. (Hence the ‘news’ of Condit’s alleged affair with a flight attendant). Some readers have emailed to say that Condit’s refusal to be forthcoming to the cops about his relationship with Levy renders the story legitimate. But the incursion into Condit’s private life began long before such a detail was known. If you can justify any incursion into privacy on the grounds that sometimes your hunch can turn out to be right – then you have basically ended privacy altogether. Even if it turns out that Condit has something to do with Levy’s disappearance, it still doesn’t justify this fishing expedition. The ends do not justify these means.

CORRECTION: Provincetown and Truro are not part of the Upper Cape, even though they are to the north of the rest of it. They are part of the Lower Cape. Apparently, these sections were named according to where the English landed first – not where they tried to vacation several centuries later. Sorry.