Friday, March 21, 2008

At the End of the Day

Dana Perino says that the public had our chance to weigh in on Iraq in 2004 and we should all just sit down and shut up. During a White House press briefing on Thursday, Dana Perino told Helen Thomas that very thing in so many words when the Doyenne of the Press Corps asked about Dick Cheney's dismissive "So?" When Ms. Thomas pressed her, Perino snapped that "You had input. The American people have input every four years and that's the way our system is set up." What an unctuous little guttersnipe.

Bachmann Busted On March 14th, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (Wingnut, MN) published a fearmongering screed on the op-ed pages of the Minneapolis StarTribune, in which she screeched that Democratic leaders were a bunch of terrorist-enablers who were making her constituents less safe! But she wasn't quite in the same room with reality when she sat down to write, and today, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes responded with an op-ed of his own, in which he torched all of her her magnificent strawmen - including the fact that the assertions made by DNI McConnell on February 5 were retracted on February 23 - and her op-ed didn't run until nearly three weeks later.

Canadian Supreme Court takes on Guantanamo The Canadian high court ruled on Thursday that it would consider petitions on the international legality of the U.S. military detainment center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "Certainly, what the Supreme Court of Canada says about the legality of Guantanamo Bay and the actions of Canadian officials with respect to a citizen there, will reverberate in the political sphere in terms of bringing greater attention to, and a requirement of justification by the government of Canada about why it refuses to intervene," said University of Toronto law professor Audrey Macklin, who will represent the university's law clinic and Human Rights Watch at the hearing.

Oh, please, please, please, please, please Cuyahoga County, Ohio has launched an investigation into crossover voting. Before the Ohio and Texas primaries, Rush Limbaugh urged listeners to cross over and vote for Hillary Clinton in order to prolong the Democratic nominating process. As the investigation progresses, there is a huge open-ended question hanging out there: Will county officials go after the ringleaders of apparently illegal electioneering? In other words, will they indict Limbaugh for illegal electioneering?

With friends like these Extrajudicial slayings are on the rise in Colombia. The Colombian military, straining to show results of the U.S. funded war against leftist guerrillas are slaughtering civilians and calling them rebels. Human rights groups in the United States are questioning whether the United States is upholding U.S. law and withholding funding from units accused of human rights abuses. The Fellowship of Reconciliation and Amnesty International found that military aid was approved for 11 units of the Colombian armed forces last year, in spite of the fact that there were "credible allegations regarding killings, disappearances and collaboration with outlawed paramilitary forces," said Renata Rendon of Amnesty International. "It's outrageous this is happening. It's up to the [U.S. government] to ensure that we are not providing aid to abusive units."

Fighting broke out between Palestinian factions in the Ain al-Hilwe refugee camp in Lebanon between followers of Fatah and followers of the Islamist group Jund al-Sham. One Fatah member was killed and four others were wounded in the street fighting that broke out after Fatah arrested the Jund al-Sham commander on Thursday and handed him over to the Lebanese army. Jund al-Sham is a radical splinter group, estimated to have only about 50 armed members in the camp. Given the fight they apparently are capable of mounting, their small numbers are a good thing.

Taiwanese are at the polls today to choose a new president, and turnout among the 17 million registered voters is expected to be high. Both candidates favor a closer economic relationship with the Chinese mainland, and the candidate favored by Beijing was leading in the polls...until all hell broke loose in Tibet, now it's not just a horeserace, but a likely photo-finish.

Democracy by royal decree will commence on Monday. The people of Bhutan might prefer for their exalted monarch to run the show, but he has a different notion - he wants to turn the country into a constitutional monarchy, and the Bhutanese to elect their own leaders. "We are reluctant democrats," said one candidate for parliament. "It's been forced on us, and we have to embrace it."

In a sweeping speech today, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Friday that the nation would scale back their arsenal to about half the cold-war number, or about 300 warheads total. When making the announcement, Sarkozy stressed that France will maintain a vigorous defense and warned against threats to Europe by Iran and other powers, but he also encouraged European powers to work toward deterrence via diplomacy. He also urged the U.S. and China to ratify a nuclear test-ban treaty that was signed over 40 years ago.

And lets end on a lighthearted note
...I love squirrels - love 'em, love 'em, love 'em. I can sit in the woods and watch squirrels for hours - I could have made a career of watching squirrels. So this didn't really surprise me - squirrels have social networks. They tend toward other squirrels with similar personalities and characteristics. Read the whole article - then go to the park.