current affairs

Published on March 21 2007

JS Online: Damage blamed on frustration
One day after 21 people were arrested during a demonstration that vandalized a U.S. Army recruiting office on Milwaukee's east side, Wisconsin peace activist groups on Tuesday said some protesters might increasingly turn to destruction as their frustrations mount.
Isn't this sorta what a two-year-old does?
 Regarding a police report that human excrement was smeared on the recruiting center, Johnson said he wasn't aware of such vandalism.
Okay. Smearing $h*t on a recruiting center is a perfectly rational way of showing your disagreement with government action. I do it all the time-- especially during tax season.
Peace Action Wisconsin does not condone violence, said the group's project organizer Julie Enslow, but some anti-war protesters might feel the need to be violent to get their point across. "We do not use those tactics ourselves, but the movement is very broad, and as this war continues, the anti-war movement is going to take many forms - not all of which everyone feels comfortable with," Enslow said.
Consider yourself warned.

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Published on March 20 2007

It's a good thing I work nights... I don't think I can sleep after reading this one. Children used in Iraqi militant attack
WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - A U.S. general on Tuesday said Iraqi insurgents used children in a suicide attack this weekend, raising worries that the insurgency has adopted a new tactic to get through security checkpoints with bombs.Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations in the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, said adults in a vehicle with two children in the backseat were allowed through a Baghdad checkpoint. The adults then abandoned the vehicle and detonated it with the children still inside, he said. "Children in the back seat, lower suspicion, we let it move through," he said. "They parked the vehicle, the adults run out and detonate it with the children in the back."

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Published on March 16 2007

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Published on March 9 2007

Dave Obey..... yelling at anti-war protestors about their position of an immediate end to the war in Iraq, angrily referring to them as "idiot liberals" and telling them Democrats "did not have the votes" to cut funding for the war. However, listen to the vid for his other means to the same end. I think somebody needs a weekend back home. Shoveling snow, maybe. But then again, after looking at the link of the woman confronting Obey in that hallway, I think I can understand why he might have gone off on her.
The talking points for the Democrats sound just like the Republican ones and then they tell us, "We don't have the votes." Maybe if they spent their time trying to get the votes, we could end this war.

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Published on March 3 2007

Liechtenstein: no retaliation for Swiss invasion | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited
Swiss soldiers accidentally crossed into neighbouring Liechtenstein above yesterday. The Swiss army is not renowned for its aggressive expeditionary adventures - but it does appear to have accidentally invaded Liechtenstein. According to the Swiss daily Blick, around 170 infantry soldiers from the famously neutral country wandered more than a mile across the unmarked border with the tiny principality. The incident happened yesterday morning and the Swiss troops turned back - probably slightly sheepishly - after they realised their mistake.
Oooops. So much for that famous neutrality. I think I hear what may be the WORST butt-chewing in the world going on right about now. Makes you wonder if Switzerland will be denounced in the UN? After all, they were carrying WMD on their foray into tiny Liechtenstein.
As well as the obligatory Swiss army knives, the troops were armed with assault rifles - however, they had no ammunition, Mr Reist said. Markus Amman, an interior ministry spokesman, said nobody in Liechtenstein had even noticed the soldiers. "Its not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something," he said.

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Published on February 26 2007

UNs top court clears Serbia of genocide during Bosnian war
THE HAGUE AFP - The UNs top court on Monday cleared Serbia of direct involvement in genocide during the war in Bosnia, but said Belgrade did breach international law by failing to prevent the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica. "The court finds that Serbia has not committed genocide," ICJ president Rosalyn Higgins said. The ICJ found that "massive killings" and atrocities occured throughout Bosnia with Bosnian Muslims being the victims in many cases. However, it stressed most events did not amount to genocide because "the evidence did not show that these terrible acts were accompanied by the specific intent to destroy a group that is the required proof of genocide," Higgins told journalists after the judgement. The ICJ found only one act of genocide -- the massacre at Srebrenica of nearly 8,000 Muslims by Bosnian Serb troops -- and said there was not enough evidence to suggest Belgrade was directly responsible. However, it ruled that Serbia had failed in its responsibility under the 1948 genocide convention to try and prevent the killings.
Let me see if I have this right. Lots of killings happened, but it was just a coincidence that most of the victims were a particular nationality and religion? After all, the ICJ found only one act of genocide. It was only one little massacre. ICJ President Judge Rosalyn Higgins said the court concluded that the Srebrenica massacre did constitute genocide, but that other mass killings of Bosnian Muslims did not. I never knew there were "levels of genocide".
While the ICJ ruled that Belgrade had given "considerable military and financial support" to the Bosnian Serb leadership, the court found it did not mastermind the slaughter in Srebrenica. "The decision to kill the adult male population of the Muslim community was taken by some members of the main staff of the Bosnian Serb army but without instructions from or effective control by Serbia," the court said. But Higgins stressed the case had also "conclusively proved" that the Serbian leadership, and former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic in particular, "were fully aware ... that massacres were likely to occur".
The court found that Serbia supplied "considerable military and financial support available" to the Bosnian Serbs but that it had not known they had genocidal intent. They "were aware" it was "likely", but there ends their responsibility. Ahhh, I understand now. Blame it on the military. Who can control them, after all? They have guns! I had wondered aloud during class what the reaction of the Muslim world would be if the decision happened to go Serbia's way, considering the reaction to a few cartoons and a comment by the Pope. Surely, if Serbia was found not guilty, the reaction would be incredible, wouldn't it? My prof forwarded the question to one of his TA's in another class, who happens to be a Muslim from Bosnia. Her response follows:
Dr. K, this is a difficult question, and I am not sure if I can help with it. I am willing to try, though. First of all, there is a problem within the question. Bosnia is not predominantly Muslim - before the war Bosnia had about 44% of Muslim population; now it must be either close to that or even less, after so many people left, and many were killed. So, even though, Bosnia has high percentage of Muslim population, it is usually not considered Muslim. More than fifty percent of Bosnian population is Christian, mostly Eastern Orthodox, but also Catholic. We also have a Jewish minority. Even though, some Arabic countries have tried to be involved in rebuilding Mosques in Bosnia, and have tried to finance some religious schools, etc., most of the Bosnian Muslim population is not religious in the sense that they follow some of the most sacred Muslim traditions. Very few Bosnian Muslims pray five times a day, and it is very difficult to find a Bosnian (regardlss of religion) who does not drink!!! (I am still looking to find one). Even though the Muslim world, so to say, did sympathize with Bosnian Muslims during the genocide, I doubt that the decision would bring about any type of radical reaction within the Muslim population. And lastly, in my mind, there is honestly no way that Serbia can be found not guilty on all counts - the evidence is overwhelming. Overall, I do not think that decision (whatever it might be) will carry much importance for the Muslim world, and most likely than not, Serbia will be found guilty on at least some accounts.
Will be interesting watching the news over the next few days, I think.

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Published on February 25 2007

Indonesia drops balls into mud volcano There. is. no. possible. comment.

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Published on February 25 2007

Tomorrow's news will provide the last paragraph to the short case report I wrote for the last class. After all the reading I did on the case, I am *really* interested in seeing the final ruling and how it will affect Serbia's application to the European Union, in light of the Copenhagen Declaration laying out the requirements for membership. World Court to deliver genocide ruling
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Can a state commit genocide? Should an entire nation — not just its presidents, generals, and soldiers — be held responsible for humanitys worst crime? In one of the most momentous cases in its 60 years, the U.N.s highest court will deliver its judgment Monday on Bosnia's demand to make Serbia accountable for the slaughter, terrorizing, rape and displacement of Bosnian Muslims in the early 1990s. If it rules for Bosnia, the International Court of Justice could open the way for compensation amounting to billions of dollars from Serbia, the successor state of Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia, although specific claims would be addressed only later. It also would be a permanent stain on Serbia in the eyes of history, regardless of any effort by Belgrade to distance itself from the brutality of those years.
One of the criteria in the Copenhagen Declaration is that country must have achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and, protection of minorities. Considering that the Serb province of Kosovo is still a UN protectorate, ya gotta wonder if that stability is achievable, especially when nationalists in the country are calling for leaving the UN, abandoning the EU application process, and sending troops into Kosovo should that province gain independence. Nationalists urge Serbia to abandon EU plans, quit UN if Kosovo gains independence
BELGRADE, Serbia: Serbia's ultra-nationalists said Friday the Balkan country should quit the United Nations and abandon its efforts to join the European Union if Kosovo becomes independent. The comments illustrate the pressure nationalists are putting on Serbia's pro-Western leaders, who have promised to participate in the final U.N.-brokered talks on Kosovo currently being held in Vienna, Austria, although they have rejected the possibility of independence for Kosovo, which is considered the heartland of Serbian statehood and religion. Serbs and Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians are discussing a U.N. plan for the Serb province which envisages internationally supervised statehood. Although it does not directly mention independence, Belgrade believes the plan would eventually lead to Kosovo becoming a separate country, and has rejected the document.
But then, we can always fall back on rewarding behavior. Carrot and stick. Sometimes it works.
Fearing that the extremists could return to power in Serbia because of the possibility of Kosovo's secession, EU officials have hinted that they would consider offering Serbia a shortcut to EU membership if it reconsiders its staunch opposition to Kosovo's independence.

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Published on February 24 2007

....but I have to say I admire the guy. If I can ever manage to stay up late enough to actually watch his show, he might have a new viewer. Did I just stick up for Britney Spears????? Craig Ferguson Refuses To Do Spears Jokes, Talk Show Host Who Battled Alcoholism Takes Heat Off Of "Vulnerable" Pop Star
(CBS/AP) Craig Ferguson decided not to poke fun at Britney Spears, at least for now. Ferguson, host of "The Late Late Show" on CBS, told viewers Monday that after seeing photos of the bald female pop star, he reconsidered making jokes at the expense of the "vulnerable.""Tonight, no Britney Spears jokes. Here's why: The kind of weekend she had, she was checking in and out of rehab, shaving her head, getting tattoos. That's what she was doing this weekend," he said on his show. "This Sunday I was 15 years sober. I didn't do it for anyone else but myself. I did it because it was an act of conscience. I'm amazed that not poking fun of somebody has become a news story." "For me, comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it," Ferguson said. "It should be about attacking the powerful — the politicians, the Trumps, the blowhards — going after them. We shouldn't be attacking the vulnerable."
UPDATE: Here's the link to Ferguson's monologue. Food for thought. Not to mention.... oh dear .... Laurie loves her a Scottish accent. :-x

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Published on February 18 2007

Robert Adler, dead at 93 - International Herald Tribune
Hit the mute button for a moment of silence: The co-inventor of the TV remote, Robert Adler, has died. In his six-decade career with Zenith, Adler was a prolific inventor, earning more than 180 U.S. patents. He was best known for his 1956 Zenith Space Command remote control, which helped make TV a truly sedentary pastime. But he downplayed his role when asked if he felt his invention helped raise a new generation of people too lazy to get off the couch. "People ask me all the time — 'Don't you feel guilty for it?' And I say that's ridiculous," he said. "It seems reasonable and rational to control the TV from where you normally sit and watch television."
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click.Click. You get the picture, I think. I'm guessing it's a "guy thing". But here we have the flipside of relaxing in front of the tube with the finger on the ol' button--a sad story from New York. I always figured this would be the fate of somebody else I know. Mummified body found in front of blaring TV
Police called to a Long Island man's house discovered the mummified remains of the resident, dead for more than a year, sitting in front of a blaring television set. The 70-year-old Hampton Bays, New York, resident, identified as Vincenzo Ricardo, appeared to have died of natural causes. Police said on Saturday his body was discovered on Thursday when they went to the house to investigate a report of a burst water pipe.

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