Monday, May 26, 2008

Overnight - A roundup of news items that you might have missed

Oops! A customs agent at the Tokyo airport conducted a little experiment and it went awry. Instead of using a planted decoy bag, the official decided to use a customers bag to test the sniffer dog's ability to locate cannabis, and slipped 142 g. of pot into the sidepocket of a travelers suitcase. "I knew that using passengers' bags is prohibited, but I did it because I wanted to improve the sniffer dog's ability," the officer was quoted as saying. "The dogs have always been able to find it before... I became overconfident that it would work," he said. But the dog missed it, and the agent forgot which bag he slipped it into (perhaps after sampling his own stash?) and now the authorities are asking whoever got away with over a quarter pound of the kill to contact them and give it back. Here is hoping that it is discovered promptly if Singapore or Thailand are on the unsuspecting passengers travel itinerary.

Blair Booed at Yale Students graduating from Yale last night knocked the wind out of Tony Blair's sails by greeting him as he took the stage to deliver the graduation address with signs that read "NO WAR" and "PEACE NOW" that they smuggled into the ceremony under their graduation gowns. When the speech was over, loud "Boos" were heard among the applause, especially from the graduating class. One of the students, a young woman wearing a headscarf, remained standing throughout the ceremony, staring him down and holding a "Peace Now" sign above her head just 10ft in front of the former Prime Minister. It was obvious that he was either ashamed - or afraid - to look at her. If we have entered the phase where acts of defiance like that are becoming almost routine, especially at bastions of staid decorum like Yale, the dead enders are just about out of pavement - yet it actually looks like they are not interested in hitting the brakes, but instead are opting to challenge the trees.

Fareed Zakaria generates his own gravitational field with this bit of spin The warmongering hack (isn't he service age?) explains to us that terrorism is way down...if you just don't count dead Iraqi civilians! (i.e. the victims of the terrorists the U.S. created by invading and occupying Iraq) His reasoning is something akin to measuring the rate of incarceration, but omitting the people in prisons, and limiting the counting to those locked up in county jails.

everybody hates George Bush" Those words were not spoken by some dfh lefty blogger - they were spoken by Rep. Pete Sessions, addressing a group of eighth-graders from Dallas's private Akiba Academy who were visiting the Capitol last week. "the American people are fed up.... we've lost the House and Senate, and everybody hates George Bush." The problem, Mr. Sessions said, is that the president hasn't reached out enough, on a host of issues. "When I was the quarterback of the team," Mr. Sessions said, "if I came and told everybody, 'I don't care whether you like it or not, I'm going to do what I want to do,' my guys wouldn't block for me."

Japan redirecting aid and development packages to Africa In what amounts to nothing less than a diplomatic sea change, the Japanese government is redirecting economic and development aid to sub-Saharan Africa from Asian economies. The move is not merely humanitarian - African nations are resource-rich and the developed world is running out of them. Japan is looking ahead to future business relations with todays emerging economies that will provide a return on investment at a future date.

Korean protest against U.S. beef imports turns ugly Protesters in Seoul on Saturday breached the "legal line" after an approved protest and temporarily stopped traffic on a major street. About 250 die-hard demonstrators who resisted until the bitter end were forcibly dispersed, and 37 were arrested. This was the first time since protests against reopening of the Korean market to U.S. beef began on May 2 that participants have occupied a street illegally and clashed with police.

Not at all clear at what is going on between Israel and Syria? Andrei Murtazin has a very clear and concise primer in the Middle East Times that everyone should read. Especially if they have any plans to shoot of their mouths about it.

I am grateful for the gesture and infuriated by the necessity Thousands of therapists are stepping up and volunteering their services to veterans struggling to readjust to life after war because the VA and the DoD failed to plan ahead and have the helping professionals in place that the Vietnam experience had already shown would be needed. (For the record, incentives needed to be offered to future helping professionals when the war entered it's seventh month. But in this case, it isn't too late - the feds could start offering forbearances on student loan repayment and debt retirement after a set term of professional services to returning veterans.)

This complicates things for Pakistan's new government The U.S. government was already pressuring the Pakistanis to capture or kill Baitullah Mehsud, so his public admission that he has been sending Tehrik-e-Taliban fighters across the border into Afghanistan is not likely to be shrugged off. It has something of an open secret that some of his men were fighting against NATO forces in Afghanistan, he has never before publicly conceded this fact. A Nato spokesman threatened retaliatory strikes if the militants kept entering Afghanistan from Pakistan to launch attacks against its forces. (The Pakistani press is getting more and more openly critical since the fall of Mushareff. For example, the following passage is from the linked article. The US, as we all know, has already attacked targets on Pakistan's soil with Hellfire missiles fired by the pilotless Predator planes. Besides, Nato in actual terms means the US, which alone is using the CIA-operated Predators in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

James McMurtry has a new album
and he wants you to make a video to the new protest song Cheney's Toy. Details here, and you can create videos using slideshow applications at Submissions must be received by July 4, 2008. The top five entrants will receive t-shirts and signed copies of the CD. James' favorite will score the creator an iPod.

If you make a video, let us know and we will post it here!