current affairs

Published on November 9 2006

The Blotter
Though he is now the former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld is expected to be accused of war crimes in a lawsuit to be filed next week in Germany. The Center for Constitutional Rights will file the suit on behalf of a group of Iraqi detainees as well as the so-called 20th hijacker, who is currently being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Ok, I understand that lawsuits will be filed and dismissed, investigations will open and drag on for absolutely un-riveting weeks and weeks, fingers will point, and heads will roll. That's just the American Way. But ya gotta wonder about this one.
The suit is being brought in Germany because a "universal jurisdiction" law there allows German courts to claim jurisdiction over war crimes even if they were committed outside that country's borders. CCR filed a similar lawsuit in Germany two years ago. That suit charged that Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tenet and other senior officials were responsible for the torturing of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. The suit was dismissed, however, because German prosecutors said the case had no connection to German citizens nor to events that took place in Germany.
K, let me make sure I have this right. Iraqi prisoners. Americans accused. Iraqi prison. American accusers. Wonder how far this lawsuit will get?

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Published on November 9 2006

Age of Hooper (The) Cindy getting the good news yesterday, live on camera. What a classy dame. And check out this picture. Cindy loves her a Mercedes.

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Published on November 8 2006

....I know how fascinated you are with Britney! ;-) Filing hints at Federline-Spears divorce battle
A day after Britney Spears asked for a divorce, Kevin Federline filed court papers seeking sole custody of the couple's two children. The former backup dancer and aspiring rapper is also seeking spousal support. He says the couple's community assets are "uncertain," though Spears said in her divorce papers there were none to speak of. "Kevin is prepared to go the distance in order to do what he feels is necessary to protect and safeguard the children and will not be intimidated or dissuaded from pursuit of those goals," Michael Sands, spokesman for Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said Wednesday.
A nice fat spousal support check will help, too! What a nice goal to "pursue". [/snark]

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Published on November 8 2006

Watching all the speechifyin'. CNN and MSNBC are going wild today. Pelosi sounds almost normal, definitely further to the center than I've ever heard before. (And oh, so tastefully dressed) Hopefully her behavior is an acknowledgement that it was the moderates that won this one, not the loonies. Jaw-dropper. Rumsfeld resigns. And Bush is speaking now. "Why all the glum faces?" /:-) He just announced the resignation. Bob Gates nominated. "To our enemies, do not be joyful" An awful lot of "Last week, you said.....why is it different now?" questions. Idiots. What changed is the election!!! Grow up, already, lol. What a day this is turning out to be. [Update] Was flipping through all the news channels this afternoon while down in the dungeon. One one of the stations (MSNBC, maybe?), the view went to a reporter outside the White House. Her delivery was interrupted with what sounded like chanting and yelling from outside camera range. The commentator spoke up at that point. "Somebody please go tell Cindy Sheehan that her side won". Almost pmp'd, I laughed so hard.

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Published on November 7 2006

10:13 pm CST--CNN just announced the Dems took back the House. Not sure yet about the Senate, that's still an if. Wonder if they've let John Kerry out of his soundproofed padded room yet? We're back to a divided government, more partisan, more deadlocked, and accomplishing less than ever before. Let the investigative hearings begin!! "Wonder how long before impeachment proceedings begin", mused a coworker last night. He seemed excited about it! I have a feeling it's going to be more of a circus sideshow out east than I/we thought possible. At least both parties are going to be more worried about the 2008 Pres election than getting anything done. On a local note, Doyle held on as governor, Kohl as Senator, and Dave Obey as Congressman from D7. From the looks of our announced winners' results, we like our incumbents here. With the Dem majority, Dave Obey becomes Chairman of the Appropriations committee. Guess who'll have a big say in where the $ are spent? The Marriage Amendment passed.
“Marriage. Shall section 13 of article XIII of the constitution be created to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state and that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state?”
The surprising (to me, anyway) result is that the Death Penalty question is so close. It's only an advisory referendum, but I'm surprised the results are as close as they are at this point.
“Should the death penalty be enacted in the State of Wisconsin for cases involving a person who is convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, if the conviction is supported by DNA evidence?”
Going to bed now, too pooped out to listen to the rest of the results.

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Published on November 7 2006

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Published on November 5 2006

Saddam Hussein sentenced to death by hanging Is anybody surprised by the verdict? They broke in on the local radio station to announce this one.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Iraqi High Tribunal on Sunday sentenced a combative Saddam Hussein and two other defendants to death by hanging for a brutal crackdown in 1982 in the Shiite town of Dujail. "The Saddam Hussein era is in the past now, as was the era of Hitler and Mussolini," said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, calling Hussein the worst ruler ever in Iraq. "We want an Iraq where all Iraqis are equal before the law," he said. "The policy of discrimination and persecution is over."
But there was a little bit of an extra slap delivered to a certain American as well....
Defense attorney Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general, was ousted by judges early in the session. The court asked him to leave, saying he had come here from the United States to mock the Iraqi people and the court.

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Published on November 2 2006

Too bad it's over such a saddening incident. Duct tape no substitute for a babysitter, police say
JACKSONVILLE, Florida (AP) -- A woman accused of duct-taping her two children together and leaving them home alone has been charged with child abuse, the sheriff's office said. Agla Nadia Vincent, 25, was arrested Monday following a seven-month investigation into whether she left her two boys, then aged 2 and 3, taped to each other while she went to work, said Lt. Annie Smith of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

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Published on October 27 2006

Putin: Don't back North Korea into corner - CNN.com
SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) -- North Korea should not be backed into a corner over its nuclear test if the global community wants to resolve the crisis over the North's atomic ambitions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday. Putin, referring to six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program, said one of the reasons Pyongyang had resorted to conducting the test was that "not all participants in negotiations were able to find the correct tone..." "You must never push one of the participants in talks into a corner and place it in a situation from which it can find no way out other than boosting tension," he said answering questions on live television. The U.N. Security Council voted on October 14 to impose financial and arms sanctions on North Korea after it staged the nuclear test, but just what those sanctions meant and how they would be implemented was still a matter of debate. North Korea warned its neighbor against imposing sanctions. "South Korea, forced by the United States, has already halted inter-Korea humanitarian projects and is moving to stop cooperation in other areas. The South is even revealing an intention to join U.S.-led military operations aimed at blockade against us. "South Korea's participation in the U.S. racket to put pressure upon the North...is a serious provocation leading to a crisis of war on the Korean peninsula," a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland was quoted by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying. "If South Korea joins the U.S. ploy to pressure us, we will consider it as a declaration of a showdown and take corresponding actions," the spokesman added. North Korea blamed the United States for creating the crisis. "... the world has been pushed into the vortex of nuclear arms race by the nuclear strong-arm policy of the U.S. based on double standards," said the Communist Party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun. "Its grave policy of nuclear threat is the main factor that pushed the DPRK to access to nukes," KCNA said, using the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The United States, which as one of the five recognized nuclear states maintains a massive nuclear arsenal, has promised that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and has also said it has no intention of attacking North Korea. China voted in favor of the sanctions but both Beijing and Seoul fear that if they squeeze the impoverished North too tightly it could ruin ties and risk the North's collapse, sending waves of refugees into China and threatening regional turmoil.
Another good article at CFR. Reading some of the news reports brought to mind the questions on this subject that I had to answer for IR class last year. In fact, I was working on the questions at the same time I was partying down at the last reunion. (Hotel wireless is so cool! Yes, I am a hick, as a matter of fact!) So I dug around in my notebook to find my answers--seems like things haven't changed all that much in a year. The problem hasn't changed. I still am so intrigued-- and impressed-- watching these kinds of negotiations and considering all of the myriad factors involved. I always end up with more questions than answers studying these ideas. Since it looks as if I'll be taking basically the same course over again beginning in December, I'm hoping maybe I'll understand a little more about it this time around. To me, it looks more like China has been put in a corner, rather than NK. What does China do next?? because, as much as NK rants and raves about the US, the power they *really* need to worry about it China. And I think that is why the US doesn't seem to have done much--at least not as much as some factions in this country think we should do--about the DPRK. In some strange way, we realise that NK is more China's baby than ours. Section 5 questions
    If you were the head of state for South Korea, what particular aspects of North Korea's weapons technology would you find most troublesome? If you were among the top officials of the U.S. government, what particular aspects of North Korea's weapons technology would you find most troublesome? Explain the difference in perspective. If you were among the top officials in China, would you apply negative pressure on North Korea, or implicitly support their policies? Why?
"North Korea (DPRK) is a country whose major element of power is its military. With the demise of one of its major supporters, the Soviet Union, North Korea has remained barely a third World Country economically, headed by a dangerously unstable dictator. Important resources and monies continue to be funneled to the military under the doctrine of “military first”, at the expense of the economy. North Korea seems very much to be a state based only on its military and preparation for war. North Korea’s military doctrine appears to have one purpose: be able to conduct an offensive into the Republic of Korea, with the eventual goal being the re-unification of the Korean peninsula under the North Korean regime. One concern would be the continual buildup of NK troops in the area of the Demilitarized Zone. According to the web page: Korean People's Army - Introduction: "Seventy percent of their active force, including approximately 700,000 troops, over 8,000 artillery systems, and 2,000 tanks, is postured within 90 miles of the Demilitarized Zone." Obviously, as a South Korean leader, I would find the constant presence of this large force massed at my northern border, within close striking range, very troubling. The DPRK’s focus on the power of its national culture as a People’s Army building an offensive force to reunify the peninsula does not lend itself to the idea that this presence is a purely defensive force, as is claimed by the DPRK. Most countries, South Korea included, would find the nuclear capability the most troubling aspect of the North Korean weapons program. In late 2002, North Korea restarted its nuclear facilities, and removed monitoring equipment put in place per previous agreements. According to the same Webpage referenced above, 2005 Defense Intelligence Agency analysts were reported to believe that North Korea may already have produced as many as 12 to 15 nuclear weapons. North Korea is unlikely to ever be a player on the worlds’ stage without the threat of its nuclear capability, and it seems to be quite prepared to use this fact to its advantage. This nuclear program, in combination with a missile program which has already proved the capability to fire missiles as far away as Japan, indicates North Korea is using the only power it has left. These capabilities enable North Korea to bargain, rather than to beg, for its economic survival. However, as long as North Korea continues to push its isolationist policies with regards to its economy, and as long as its regime’s methods of economic expansion is encouraging “donations” from the outside world, its nuclear threat may be limited. As to the third question, China’s approach to the Korean problem will be very important. China is the only support remaining to North Korea, even though there is limited trade with other countries. On the other hand, China is also moving away from the extreme Communist hard-line approach in its economic policies, something which the leadership in Pyongyang is unwilling to do. China is becoming globalized very rapidly in its economy. China, with its more open economic policy, as well as its huge natural resource of its population, will become a world superpower in time. North Korea, a client state and a rogue nation with nuclear capabilities threatening the region, is a problem China must have a role in solving if it wants to continue its march towards globalization. China will prevent the complete collapse of North Korea, based on its long association as a fellow Communist regime; but it must also find a way to use its considerable negotiating power to prevent North Korea from undermining the stability of the entire region with its nuclear threats and coercion."

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Published on October 26 2006

...by losing some of the "junk in MY trunk"!! Soooo.....since I've lost a large amount of weight since 2001--and no, I'm not going to actually write the number out, lol-- looks like I'm in the $30 per year savings area. $30 over five years....hmmmm..... $150.00!!! /me smells a shopping trip in my future!!! Weight gain means lower gas mileage - Yahoo! News
CHICAGO - Want to spend less at the pump? Lose some weight. That's the implication of a new study that says Americans are burning nearly 1 billion more gallons of gasoline each year than they did in 1960 because of their expanding waistlines. Simply put, more weight in the car means lower gas mileage. "The bottom line is that our hunger for food and our hunger for oil are not independent. There is a relationship between the two," said University of Illinois researcher Sheldon Jacobson, a study co-author. "If a person reduces the weight in their car, either by removing excess baggage, carrying around less weight in their trunk, or yes, even losing weight, they will indeed see a drop in their fuel consumption." The lost mileage is pretty small for any single driver. Jacobson said the typical driver — someone who records less than 12,000 miles annually — would use roughly 18 fewer gallons of gas over the course of a year by losing 100 pounds. At $2.20 per gallon, that would be a savings of almost $40.

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