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Armed to the teeth? 武装到牙齿

中国日报网 2024-05-28 14:04


Reader question:

Please explain “armed to the teeth” in the following:

It was 400 years ago when they first arrived in New York harbor, and eventually established New Amsterdam. To celebrate the anniversary, the Dutch government has snuck back in and planted a windmill and village on the site of their former colony; add tiny canal houses and hundreds of wooden shoes. They have come armed to the teeth: 2,000 pounds of Gouda cheese, tulips and narcissi.

My comments:

To celebrate the anniversary of the first Dutch landing in New York, the Dutch government has built a village on the site of their former colony, complete with a windmill as well as other things that are considered quintessential Dutch, including 2,000 pounds of Gouda cheese, tulips and narcissi.

Hence the description: They have come armed to the teeth, meaning fully armed.

Armed, of course, originally refers being armed with weaponry. Arms, plural, is the term for weapons and ammunition in general. Ernest Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms, for example, and that title means goodbye to weapons and war.

Armed to the teeth?

In the old days, pirates were said to be armed literally to the teeth because, as we can see in movies, they kept a small knife in between their teeth.

Presumably, they also had pistols in both hands. Also presumably, the knife they kept in the mouth will come in handy if they ran out of bullets.

Anyways, metaphorically speaking, if one is armed to the teeth, he or she is fully equipped and well prepared. They are armed, in other words, with all the wherewithal that’s needed for an endeavor.

In our example, the Dutch are thus well prepared – building a windmill and bringing in all quintessential Dutch things, including Gouda cheese, tulips and narcissi.

All right?

All right, here are media examples of people who are described as “armed to the teeth” in various situations, all non-military:

1. Determined and aggressive questioning by Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, a highly experienced former South Carolina prosecutor, failed to lead former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton down the path of political destruction he and fellow Republicans undoubtedly envisioned.

Members of the committee came armed to the teeth with the kind of material prosecutors love to use in forceful cross-examinations of hostile witnesses. They had stacks of documents from months of investigation and the availability of hours of prior sworn testimony by the very witness about to be examined.

Most importantly, the matter under investigation was of enormous interest to all Americans – the murder of a young American ambassador and three other brave Americans at the hands of Islamic terrorists in war-torn Libya.

Their deaths had indisputably resulted from a lack of State Department security at the scene of the crimes. Repeated requests for additional security had been made by Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens to State Department security officials, but they were denied. The murders occurred on a long and violent September 11, 2012. Yes, the date was actually September 11.

Sitting before Gowdy and looking extraordinarily confident was the former secretary of state and presumptive presidential nominee of the Democrats, Hillary Rodham Clinton, an experienced lawyer herself. The stars were aligned for a confrontation of historic importance. Never before in American history had the presumptive presidential nominee of a major American political party been examined under oath in a congressional hearing by the opposition party during the course of a presidential race.

Yet after a sometimes dramatic and certainly exhausting 11-hour hearing, congressional Republicans learned the prosecutor’s dream of “breaking” a witness and forcing a clear admission of guilt on the witness stand rarely comes true. When the witness lies under oath, the supported charge can theoretically be perjury, but nothing even close to a perjurious statement was made by Clinton during Thursday’s congressional inquiry.

Of course, because of the majesty of the hearing room, the television cameras and the intensity of the questioning, the public is often left with the mistaken impression that anyone who dares to tell a lie before a congressional committee will be soon residing in a federal prison. In reality, though, such charges are so unusual that between the 1940s and 2007, it appears that no more than six individuals have been charged with perjury in connection with congressional testimony. Two of the more memorable cases involved the prosecution of President Richard Nixon’s Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and his attorney general, John Mitchell, regarding false testimony in the Watergate scandal.

- Grilling of Hillary Clinton misfired, CNN.com, October 23, 2015.

2. Skulduggery is nothing new when it comes to World Cup host awards, whatever the controversies over Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010 as well as upcoming Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively.

New evidence has been revealed of how the then FIFA president Joao Havelange comprehensively stitched up the United States over the award of the 1986 finals to Mexico.

The tale is told by authors Claudia Fernandez and Andrew Paxman in new edition of their biography of the Mexican television mogul Emilio Azcarraga, owner of the Televisa entertainment giant whose ‘properties’ include Club America and Necaxa as well as the iconic Estadio Azteca.

Azcarraga’s opportunity to buy into world football came in the autumn of 1982 after Colombia was dropped by the world football federation as prospective host of the 1986 finals.

Colombia had won host rights when the finals featured 16 teams. Subsequently, however, to fulfil Havelange’s promise to Africa in winning the FIFA presidency in 1974, the finals were expanded to 24 nations.

During the 1982 finals in Spain Alfonso Senior, head of the Colombian federation, told Havelange that Colombia could stage the finals only if they reverted to 16 teams. That was impossible for Havelange so, in October 1982 after the Colombians refused to budge, he launched his search for a new host.

The 1986 finals had been allocated to the Americas and no South American nations were economically capable. Canada and the United States both expressed interest. But already, according to Fernandez and Paxman, the die was cast.

They describe how “days after Colombia’s withdrawal, Havelange flew to Mexico to meet his good friends Guillermo Canedo – then his most loyal supporter in the FIFA executive committee – and Emilio Azcarraga.

“Within a few months this meeting was followed by the creation of a committee which would present a [hosting’ recommendation to the exco.

“Once the commission members had been shown Mexico’s likely facilities by Canedo, they flew directly to Europe without bothering to consider the US and Canada.

“FIFA’s rules required an inspection of all potential hosts but the committee made an exception on the grounds of omissions on the application files of those two countries. In March 1983 the commission presented a report recommending the choice of Mexico.”

That was not the end of the fiction. Delegations from Canada and the US – along with Mexican federation president Rafael del Castillo – were invited to Stockholm on May 20, 1983 to present their candidatures to Havelange and his FIFA exco (observed by newly-promoted general secretary Sepp Blatter).

Fernandez and Paxman say: “While Canada had no chance, the US came armed to the teeth with a delegation led by Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and negotiator of the latest peace deal between Israel and the Arabs, plus his ‘dream team’ which included another ex-Secretary of State in Cyrus Vance along with Pele and Franz Beckenbauer [veteran stars then with New York Cosmos].”

Not only had Mexico already staged the finals, in 1970, but the US bid was vastly superior. FIFA’s minimum demands for the finals included 14 stadia with a minimum capacity of 40,000. US had all of that and more. Mexico had only six. As for transport, communications, transport and accommodation, it was also no contest.

Kissinger and his team spent an hour outlining their bid in private to the exco. The Canadians needed half an hour. Del Castillo went in for just eight minutes and joked later: “Actually, I needed only one minute to convince them.” The vote for Mexico, announced Havelange afterwards, had been unanimous.

- Skulduggery that led to US losing 1986 World Cup finals to Mexico, WorldSoccer.com, April 19, 2016.

3. By the time the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminated the federally protected right to abortion one year ago, public-health and legal experts were armed to the teeth with predictions about what the complicated fights over reproductive care would look like in all 50 states. Experts warned that key steps of the anti-abortion movement’s path to a total abortion ban could include attempts to establish fetal personhood laws, criminalize pregnant women facing complications and miscarriages, and access citizens’ private data to enforce restrictions.

Since last June, 14 U.S. states have enacted near-complete abortion bans, and nearly half a dozen more restrict the procedure to a narrow gestational window. Other, less straightforward measures such as strict clinic regulations and an interstate travel ban for minors in Idaho, have similarly limited the accessibility of care. Decades of planning and anticipation meant that the anti-abortion movement was quick to act when Roe fell, and in the last year, they’ve made rapid progress through the strategic playbook. “There were more than 360 anti-abortion bills filed across over 47 states,” says Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood. “They are pulling every single lever and trying to identify any way to restrict access.”

For anti-abortion organizations and politicians, if the first year post-Roe was about pulling all possible levers, the second will be about focusing on those that they’ve found worked best. Here are some of the key strategies the conservative movement will use to try and restrict reproductive rights in the coming year:

Electoral maneuvering

There’s less doubt than ever about where Americans stand when it comes to reproductive rights. According to a June 14 Gallup poll, 69% of Americans believe abortion should be legal throughout the first trimester, while 34% support access under any circumstances. Meanwhile, just 13% of Americans want abortion illegal in all circumstances. Pro-abortion access ballot measures did well with voters in the 2022 midterm elections, with Michigan, California, and Vermont enshrining reproductive rights in their state constitutions. In Kansas, Montana, and Kentucky, voters turned out to defeat measures that would have further restricted access to care. In light of these numbers, continuing to restrict abortion will require what McGill Johnson describes as “a tyranny of the minority.”

“Many of the groups that are active on the frontlines of the anti-abortion movement are also supporting broad sweeping efforts to undermine the ability of people to vote,” says Skye Perryman, president and CEO of Democracy Forward. For instance, explains Joanne Rosen, a legal scholar and associate lecturer in health policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, some conservative states, like Mississippi and North Dakota, responded to the midterms by handicapping the procedures and protections that made it possible for such ballot measures to reach poll booths in the first place. Others, such as Ohio, are taking a different tack: increasing the percentage of voters that must support an initiative in order for it to pass. In May – just months after the right to abortion was enshrined in neighboring Michigan with a 56% majority – an amendment was proposed in Ohio’s state legislature that would increase the threshold for constitutional amendments from approval by 50% of voters to 60%. At least four other states are considering similar constitutional changes.

- America’s Second Year Post-Roe Will Be Even More Contentious, Time.com, June 25, 2023.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)


Truth or dare? 真心话大冒险


The right horse? 合适的人选


Better left unsaid? 不说为妙


Borderline impossible? 几乎不可能


The upshot is… 结果

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