These are the NDP results in the last 10 Canadian federal elections starting with the most recent one last summer:
If we want to average out these results of the last 10 federal elections this is what we get:
SEATS - 24
POPULAR VOTE - 15.22%
How much more insignificant can one get? The numbers don't lie. True, Handsome Jack did manage to raise the profile of his party somewhat as everyone is talking about him, including yours truly. But I would hardly consider this a good thing. All Handsome Jack really managed to accomplish was to further damage the NDP's already precarious existence in the Canadian political ecosystem. By aligning himself with the most corrupt government this nation has ever seen he has alienated many of his supporters.
It was not long ago that he himself condemned Mr. Dithers but then jumps into bed with him. By supporting the Liberal Party he, by extension, supports the corruption the Liberals participated in with respect to AdScam. One cannot condemn corruption on the one hand and support those who engaged in it on the other.
Handsome Jack should have done the honourable thing by backing the CPC's efforts to bring down the current administration then work with a Conservative government to implement the changes he wanted. Of course we all know the reason he didn't is because he is simply a lapdog of organized labour. Can you say Buzz Hargrove? (At least we know who wears the pants in that marriage)
Technorati tags: Adscam, News, Politics, News and Politics, Canada, Gomery, corruption
?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Commentaries about the intent behind Lien's visit have been flying all over, with supporters claiming that Lien is trying to reduce tensions, while critics comment that he is trying to undermine President Chen's policies and power. For now, I'll just say that it's something slightly less benign than the first, and less sinister than the latter.
Chinese Nationalist Party Chairman Lien Chan expressed, after today's meeting with Hu Jintao, that what citizens can do on their own initiatives in regard to bettering cross-strait relations is limited, and that even if these cross-strait talks bear some fruit, only government approval, support, and initiative can realize them.
They say that all politics is local; and despite the authoritarian past of the KMT, leaders realize that they cannot simply wave a wand and hope to regain power. In order to recapture the Presidency, they must prove worthy. Indeed, it is speculated that the successive Chen victories are not so much an endorsement of his policies, but the result of infighting among the so-called "outsiders" (waishengren or ???), most notably Lien and James Soong (???) in 2000. Indeed, the opposition between the executive and legislative branches of government had led to gridlock, and probably best explains the slight shift away from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP or ???) in the 2004 Legislative Yuan elections. In other words, whereas voters are willing to give the new kid on the block a shot, if there are no results, and the other person has a better proposal, then votes will switch.
Lien seems to me to be trying to accomplish three things:
- Persuade the Party: He hopes to demonstrate that he has the respect and clout to be a credible leader of the KMT going forward.
- Persuade the Voters: By visiting the mainland and holding successful talks with China, he hopes to show himself to be a statesman worthy of consideration for the next presidential elections. If he can get any concessions from China, even on mundane matters such as business contract enforcement and protections for Taiwanese investors, he'll have proven a lot.
- Persuade the World: If the talks are successful, he can jockey for attention from the United States, which has been reluctant to support President Chen because of the gambles he's taken with Taiwan's security. The US would prefer to see a leader that doesn't inflame tensions, but who will also not roll over and play dead at the PRC's whim.
Indeed, some concessions may be on the way. As the Taipei Times reports, Beijing is recognizing that any rapport with Lien would be of a party-to-party nature, and is mulling talks with the DPP:
According to a Hong Kong media report on Wednesday, Sun Yafu (???), the deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council, said China recognizes that discussions with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (??) are of a party-to-party nature, and that discussions with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) may be possible.However, President Chen is no political slouch either. Taiwan News Online reports that, as Lien has been talking about his vision for a peaceful reunification, Chen has retrained some light on what voters can expect with the usual Chinese offer of "one country, two systems":
During a talk on Wednesday at Peking University, Sun said that any consensus reached with Lien, or any document signed, would take into consideration legal ramifications in Taiwan.
A report in the pro-China Hong Kong daily Wen Wei Po quoted Sun as saying that China had taken note of Taiwan's response -- the threat of legal proceedings -- to KMT Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kun's (???) visit, and since then had moved to better understand the legal situation in Taiwan.
He added that any agreement with Lien would be expressed in the "most suitable form" and that China "still hoped to have more contact with the Democratic Progressive Party."
President Chen Shui-bian (???) yesterday declared that the record of nearly eight years of China's "one country, two systems" formula in Hong Kong and Macau had only served to erode judicial autonomy, individual freedom, social order, public administration and economic development in the two territories.To be sure, the abuses have come under focus, not least of all from the United Kingdom, which still keeps an eye on the former British Crown Colony. The latest six-monthly report on Hong Kong is available from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office homepage. Thus it is greatly in Chen's interests to show that he does, in fact, care not just about independence for independence's sake, but for the sake of retaining to citizens of the Republic of China the liberties that they have come to take for granted, which would undoubtedly be withdrawn by the CCP (which had promised the same guarantees to Hong Kong in 1997). In this manner he is also perhaps marching to the beat of US President George W. Bush's drumming, the call for the spread of democracy.
Speaking to a delegation from the "Hong Kong and Macau Taiwanese Association," the president also stated that no process of "political integration" across the Taiwan Strait could begin until the Chinese Communist Party-ruled People's Republic of China had realized genuine democratic elections, a depoliticized military and freedom of speech and religion.
The president reaffirmed his administration's concern for the rights and interests of the over 40,000 Republic of China citizens residing in Hong Kong and Macau, especially in the wake of the transformation of the two former colonies into "special administrative zones" of the PRC in July 1997 and December 1998, respectively.
Therefore, Chen related that the Taiwan government had formed a "Hong Kong Affairs Bureau" and a "Macau Affairs Department" under the Mainland Affairs Council, and had set up related office offices at the Hong Kong International Airport and initiated visa granting operations in Macau that include the provision of landing visas or application for visas through the Internet.
This trip, in short, is many things, but ultimately it is about local politics. The lines are being drawn for the 2008 elections.
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds and Naruwan Formosa]
According to this report from FOX News, Paul Volcker, the man tasked with leading the UN-approved investigation into the Oil-for-Food program, is now telling key US lawmakers that Congress cannot subpoena two of his former investigators. The two investigators in question are Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan, who resigned after the release of the second report. According to the New York Sun, the resignations may have come because the two felt that the report was too "soft" on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's role in the scandla. In fact, the Associated Press reports:
One committee member, Mark Pieth, confirmed to AP that Parton and the other investigator, Miranda Duncan, had left after disagreeing with how the committee handled facts that were uncovered concerning Annan’s dealings with a Swiss company contracted under the program, which once employed Annan’s son, Kojo.Ouch.
None too pleased by dissension from former subordinates, Paul Volcker, whose job is in hoc to Annan's pleasure, is now doing everything he can to prevent the former investigators from speaking out. His argument, according to FOX News, is that:
... the investigators, who resigned two weeks ago, have diplomatic immunity and therefore cannot be called to testify before their panels.As Niles Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation notes, the assertion of diplomatic immunity is all but an admission that Volcker's committee is in fact beholden to the very organization that it is supposed to be investigating.
My question is: What if Parton and Duncan want to testify? The UN has already tried to withhold documents:
Five congressional panels, including Hyde’s, have been pressing the U.N.-appointed independent inquiry to hand over internal U.N. documents for their own oil-for-food probes.But what happens if Parton and Duncan decide no longer to be UN stooges, and become whistleblowers instead? Don't expect most Democrats to be very encouraging: Remember, they only like whistleblowers when a corporation is being exposed. But if it's an unelected bureaucracy other than the Pentagon, then it is to be protected.
On Tuesday, Volcker reiterated his independent inquiry’s refusal to share documents in a letter responding to a request by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn. and Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Volcker, who was appointed in April by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to chair the Independent Inquiry Committee, said the United Nations generally does not make internal confidential information available to any of its 191 member states or their investigations.
It would be good if Mr. Parton and Ms. Duncan would come forward and blow the UN's sham of a cover. They must, as the Democrats would have said, "speak truth to power!"
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]
Well, here’s another whacking to add to the list, courtesy of your unfriendly global Frog:
Oh , dear: ‘It just seemed normal’. Of course it did. Training all those civilians to mow down other – well – civilians. Just a normal day’s work when you’re French, I guess.
French soldiers trained Rwandan civilian militias in the two years leading up to the 1994 genocide, an officer in the French gendarmerie said Friday, contradicting persistent denials from the Paris government.
"I saw French soldiers giving fire-arms training to civilian Rwandan militiamen in 1992. There were about 30 militiamen being trained. I am absolutely categoric about this. I saw them and that is all there is to it," said Thierry Prungnaud.
"They must have been militiamen because the soldiers used to go around in fatigues and these were civilians," said Prungnaud, who was in Rwanda in 1992 on a training programme for the presidential guard. "It must have gone on till 1994. It didn't shock me - after all I didn't see how it all turned out. It just seemed normal," he said.
Prungnaud, a former sergeant in the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN). . .said the training took place in a sparsely populated area of the country in La Kagera park.Of course they have. But then, why should we be surprised? Lying comes all too easily when you don’t have a conscience.
The government in Kigali accuses France of training Hutu militias in Rwanda as the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front mounted an insurrection from neighbouring Uganda.
Hutu extremists went on to kill some 800,000 people in the genocide.
Successive French governments have denied the allegation.
Nonetheless, if the Democrats continue their name-calling, and there's no real sense of unity (and with Bush gone, it'll be harder to find a convincing bogeyman for everyone to unite in hating), they will continue to be in the minority. This is, of course, assuming that the GOP at the very least maintains its current strengths (a large portion of which is, undoubtely, Bush). Indeed, it may not be beyond contemplation that the Party of Jefferson could cease to exist altogether. After that, there could be a brief period of Republican supremacy, followed by the rise of a new party which would combine the moderate elements of both currently existing parties.
However, this is all incumbent on things staying rather much the way they are. James Taranto argues (first item) that the Republicans need to be wary of a victory on some of their pet issues:
One of the most interesting political questions in the coming decades will be the effect of "values" voters, or the so-called religious right. This constituency is riding high at the moment, having been instrumental in Bush's two elections and in electing the most conservative Senate in recent memory. Turnover on the Supreme Court could give these voters a long-sought chance to affect policy on the issues most important to them, above all abortion.Indeed. Good reminder for any of us who are content to rest on our laurels.
But if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, it would dramatically change American politics, which in this respect has been stable for a quarter century. We've argued that the absence of Roe would be politically problematic for Republicans, because it could force them to choose between moderate voters and pro-life absolutists, whereas they can appeal to both groups now by favoring the modest restrictions that Roe permits.
Possibly this problem could be avoided by a return to the status quo ante Roe--that is, for Congress to refrain from passing sweeping legislation on abortion and leave its regulation to the states. It's conceivable that practical-minded pro-lifers would pursue such a strategy on the ground that it is easier to get things done in the state capitals than in Washington. Yet in this case, just as the end of the Cold War diminished national security as an issue pre-9/11, at the expense of the party that led America to victory the Cold War, the overturning of Roe would diminish abortion, depriving the GOP of its current advantage.
If the Republicans' goal today is to reverse Roe, they need to be prepared in the event of success. Standing still is an option only if the GOP doesn't expect to accomplish anything with its power.
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]
. . .al-Zarqawi's gamble started coming badly unstuck the moment GWB was re-elected POTUS. And what made his gamble all the more heady was that the Iraqi people themselves were beginning to realise that his real war, the one of bullets, knives, bombs and blood, was actually with them, not the coalition military.Just last week, we saw this:
With the US election result, Zarqawi's bid for the hearts and minds of the West had failed where it counted. However, in their desperate bid to win this all-important Western campaign, he and his crew had, as a direct consequence, already comprehensively lost the hearts and minds campaign where, given the US election result, it now counted the most: on the ground in Iraq.
Game: Western coalition.
Zarqawi escapes US trap: reportSo - Zarqawi’s network has either been infiltrated or is falling apart, and pretty much right on cue. And if the man is still in Iraq after this (and given he didn’t leave back in January, as he should, I think it’s now safe to say he’ll stay until the end), then his days are most certainly numbered.
US forces recently failed to capture Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq but found his laptop computer and seized some of his money, the American Broadcasting Corporation reports.
Zarqawi's driver and a bodyguard were detained in the operation.
Following a tip-off from inside the Zarqawi network about the meeting, members of the task force had troops in place and checkpoints around Ramadi, as well as Predator drones in the air monitoring the region, the report said.
"We believe he is resilient," Gen Vines said. "He is incredibly evil and we can't forget that, so he is dangerous still, but he is on the run." The owner of the safe house where Zarqawi ran had also been arrested.
Something is terribly wrong. The rest of the world vowed to help Iraq after the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Billions of dollars have been set aside and because Basra is Iraq's only city by the sea, hundreds of military and civilian supply convoys thunder past its hospitals, heading to Baghdad and other centres as part of a huge military and reconstruction effort.This is not a joke - the piece switches effortlessly from Iraq to Schapelle Corby - and by effortlessly, I mean this is a nice screw-up. Most of the Corby part has come from this article, but the line "An Austrian-Arab charity found after finding the large bag of marijuana in her boogie board bag" isn't there, and doesn't show up on a Google News search. One wonders how they can make a mistake like that, however.
But few trucks stop at these hospitals. A few did pull up outside the Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital a month ago and dumped donated second-hand hospital equipment from Japan in the forecourt. But no one knows how to install it all - so the delivery just gathers dust and its flat surfaces have become an extension of the waiting room for day patients.
An Austrian-Arab charity found after finding the large bag of marijuana in her boogie board bag.Of the four customs officers who detained Corby at the airport, three spoke no English and the one who spoke a little English acted as translator.
Corby's lawyers said all these officers relied on this one translator and so all had the same, wrong version of events.
All claimed Corby had refused to open the boogie board bag when asked, while Corby has always insisted she opened the bag willingly.
In case the page changes, I've saved an image copy to here and here.
(Cross-posted to The House Of Wheels. James Ozark's previous pieces on the Corby case can be found here and here.)
Prime Minister Martin and his trained seals, fighting for their political lives, proved that they are more interested in saving their collectives asses then in doing what is best for the country. In fending off a threat from the Conservatives to bring the government down over a confidence vote on the budget, Martin and Layton came to a nifty little deal - if Martin agrees to increase social program spending by $4.6 billion Layton will support the Liberals on the budget.
Bottom line? Martin spends a whack of dough we don't have in order to save his ass. Meanwhile Handsome Jack, who now is apparently the unofficial Prime Minister, forces the feds to cough up the goods. Does Handsome Jack ever wonder why the NDP only gets about a dozen votes each election? Could it have something to do with the fact that Canadians oppose the NDP's policies? Guess that doesn't matter anymore. We have the leader of a party that gets a teeny weeny little slice of the vote each election deciding the nation's fiscal priorities and a PM willingly going along with it to save his ass.
Martin for his part has a different view. (surprise surprise) He claims he went along with it in order to make Parliament work. Uh-huh. If the most corrupt party and government in this nation's history was defeated by Her Majesty's Official Opposition in a confidence vote then that would be proof that Parliament does work. This deal is a sham. And so is Dithers and Handsome Jack.
Technorati tags: Adscam, News, Politics, News and Politics, Canada, Gomery, corruption
Last week, CNN attempted an unusual marketing campaign in the blogosphere. The campaign combined blackhat search engine optimization techniques, viral marketing tactics, and guerrilla comment spam. Unlike the majority of comment spam, this spam appears to only target blogs that have discussed CNN in the past 3 months. So far, 13 separate instances of the spam have been found. Most alarmingly, CNN may have also left malicious keywords at least 3 out of 13 with the intent of using google's keyword stuffing detectors to censor them. As of now CNN has not returned my request for a confirmation or denial.
Some people feel that the comment spams were mere PR, and nothing to worry about. Others, like myself, believe that we must do our best to avoid a world where we constantly have to second guess whether or not we are talking to PR spam, or a human being. In the end it?s up to each of us to decide how far we're willing to go to defend the blogosphere from marketing imposters.
It looks as if CNN is indeed engaging in the spamming of blogs. Are they that afraid of FoxNews?
Technorati Tags: Blog, Blogs, Blogging, Current events, In The News, News, Television, TV
And Renae Lawrence, 27, from Wallsend in NSW, had travelled to Bali three times and used "a different passport". Sitting in the holding cell at Bali police headquarters yesterday, Ms Lawrence confirmed she had been to Bali three times, but denied using different passports.
The alleged "godfather", Andrew Chan, 21, from Sydney, visited Bali twice; and 24-year-old Myuran Sukumaran, now thought by police to be the drugs network's "enforcer", had also been to Bali twice. "Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were in Bali together in October 2004," Lieutenant-Colonel Sugiarto said.
The information sheds new light on the formation of the alleged smuggling ring and casts doubt on the claims Ms Lawrence and the other couriers knew nothing of the operation until April 17, when they claim they were forced to transport a total of 8.3kg of heroin, packaged in blocks and taped to their legs and bodies.
Some, back home have been quick to offer theories that the mules were just misunderstood, socially disadvantaged, gullible, foolish, tricked, forced etc and just needed some support and a helping hand to get back on track, heroin isn't such a bad thing, so what if they brought it back here, so what if heroin ruins peoples lives, its all the AFP's fault, these were just kids who didn't know what they were doing, adolescents who were acting impulsively.
Well, this pretty much blows those theories, sky-high out of the water. I truly hope people learn from this.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Zimbabwe was re-elected Wednesday to the Human Rights Commission, drawing scathing protests from the United States and other countries charging that the African nation is one of the world's worst rights violators.
William Brencick, the U.S. mission representative, said Zimbabwe had "blatantly disregarded the rights of its own people" and its re-election to the U.N. human rights watchdog was inappropriate.
"We remain deeply concerned that the government of Zimbabwe maintains repressive controls on political assembly and the media, harasses civil society groups, and continues to encourage a climate where the opposition fears for its safety," he said.
Zimbabwe's Ambassador to the United Nations, Boniface Chidyausiku, said no nation was beyond reproach in the area of human rights and added: "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones."
Western governments and human rights campaigners have criticized the 53-member human rights commission for allowing countries with poor human rights records to use their membership to protect one another from condemnation.
It's ironic that while John Bolton is being raked over the coals here in the U.S for having a negative view towards the UN, the UN it'self is rewarding a thug like Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
It appears that the Dragon is thinking that the United States and other countries are ganging up on it, and that it is no fault of its own that this is happening.This, combined with Arthur Chrenkoff's "Great Power Deprivation Syndrome" meme, go a long way toward explaining the lashing out that have been emanating from Beijing at increasing rates over the past several years.
Among history nuts, the debate is probably going to be one of which analogy would be the best model: Japan before the Pacific War; or pre-1914 Germany, which despite its Anglophile sentiments, was also motivated by jealousy of a scrappy little island nation's ability to garner so much of the glory while the mighty Second Reich should be confined to the European mainland. As an aside, Catherine Liu compares 2005 China to Nazi Germany before the Second World War, in particular with an eye to its indulgence in victimology. Which, some would note, is a symptom of passive aggression.
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]
Justice John Gomery has lifted the publication ban on some parts of Paul Coffin's testimony so let's go!
MONTREAL (CP) - An advertising executive told the Gomery inquiry much of his $2.7 million in sponsorship income was based in part on false bills requested by program boss Chuck Guite.
Gomery's ruling helped shed light on a lengthy trail of falsified paperwork and inflated bills for several files, including Jean Chretien's Clarity Act on Quebec separation.
Coffin singled out Guite and the bureaucrat's assistant, Huguette Tremblay, in a scheme to bill taxpayers for maximum, pre-set production fees that were paid regardless of whether his firm did any work.
He said Guite asked him to bill for hours worked even though Coffin's firm didn't keep time sheets.
Coffin, who has been charged with 18 fraud-related counts arising from the sponsorship program, testified that Tremblay's role was to press him to send in bills at the end of each fiscal year to meet his production budget. But he said the decision to create fake bills was his alone.
So we have a firm that submitted invoices for manhours but didn't actually keep any timesheets. Coffin claims that Guite told him to submit the invoices using a pre-set fee schedule regardless of whether or not his firm did any work.
Technorati tags: Adscam, News, Politics, News and Politics, Canada, Gomery, corruption
I for one have always doubted George Lucas when he said that after Episode 3 that would be it for Star Wars. I mean, he can’t even leave the original films alone and yet we are supposed to believe he will leave everything alone after this? Yeah, right.
Anyway, I was sent this via email
George Lucas on the Star Wars Franchise
Source: Scott Chitwood April 23, 2005
"Star Wars" creator/writer/director George Lucas made his guest appearance at "Celebration III" this morning at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis and he talked about the franchise. About 9,000 fans had been lined up since midnight for a chance to see Lucas talk.
The event was hosted by actor Jay Laga'aia, who played Captain Typho in "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith," though Lucas funnily made a mistake saying he thought Laga'aia played a Clone Trooper.
Lucas confirmed that they are working on two TV series. One will be a half hour 3-D computer animated series and the other is a live action series. The live action series will star some of the characters featured in the movies, though not the main characters. Lucas will kick-off the series himself. They are planning on writing the entire first season and then shooting Season One all at once. He mentioned Lucasfilm is aiming for a production start in about a year.
Also, George Lucas said that the "Star Tours" thrill ride at Disney-MGM Studios will be getting an overhaul soon. And he confirmed they are working on bringing the early 90's TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles to DVD as well.
Star Walking Inc.
Registered No. A0017217V
Star Walking Inc.
P.O. Box 427
Northcote, Vic, 3070
And after some great snoop work by myself and John Doe, we are able to bring you some additional spin-offs Lucas has planned....
The Odd Sith Couple
This one is about Anakin and Palpatine sharing the palace on Coruscant and all the crazy adventures they have.
This follows six clone troopers stationed on Coruscant and how they deal with the events in their lives
Everybody Loves Palpatine
Well if you don’t, you end up dead having accidentally shot yourself. Several times.
Two law enforcement troopers and their cases in the city planet.
Oh Yoda, Where art thou?
The remnants of the Republic and a rabble that will become the Rebel Alliance travel around the galaxy looking for the elusive Jedi Master.
A long time ago, a crack Jedi team was sent to prison for execution by an Imperial court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security prison facility on Kessel to the Galactic underground. Today, still wanted by the Empire, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the J-Team."
Obi Wan travels from planet to planet, using his mystical Jedi fighting skills to help the local populace.
Just Shoot Jedi
Laughs abound at the Empire propaganda offices, where the boss just likes to play zero-gravity golf, the PA is a quirky little Bothan and the fashion writer is a Twi-lek tart.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Trandos
An antique blaster, Hutt gangsters and a race across Geonosha just ahead of the republic commandos.
Life in an all-female detention block.
Clone Troopers play practical jokes on each other like "Hold my thermal detonator" and "What you do when you’re surrounded by super battle droids".
Some Cloners Do 'Ave 'Em
And these crazy Kamino cloners must deal with the clone troopers as they go about their daily activities.
The J Files
Two officers from the Imperial Bureau of Investigation seek to discover the truth about strange occurrences around the galaxy that could be linked to Jedi activity.
Nal Hutta Vice
Join the Vice unit in the depths of the seedy underworld of the Hutt’s homeworld.
A Clone trooper has an accident and wakes up back when he was a little clone of 14, with a chance to redo his life.
To Kill a Mynock
Follow the efforts of one lone citizen as he tries to free the Empire of its prejudice against non-human species. One episode only.
A transport crashes on a strange planet and the survivors must band together against a mysterious entity that is slowly killing them off one by one.
A republic student is recruited by the GIA (Galactic Intelligence Agency) and is forced to wear skimpy outfits in order to infiltrate the separatists to piece together a mystery that was started by a Jedi called Obi-Rambaldi some 500 years ago.
Also be sure to look out for Survivor: Hoth, Tatooine, Sullust, Kashyyyk, and Dathomir.
(cross-posted at The Asylum)
Much has been said in the blogosphere about Bashar al-Assad, the successor to the formidable and wily Hafez al-Assad, his father. Because Bashar is the head of the Syrian Ba'ath Party, which is, in essence, an Arab Nazi party (Ba'ath is Arab for National Socialist, and Nazi is short for Nationalist Socialist, and they're both fascist), it is tempting to dismiss him as just another autocrat.
The picture was different, however, when Bashar succeeded his father five years ago. At the time, there was hope that he would bring about a sea change in the political culture of Syria, since he was far more steeped in civilian culture than was usually expected of Arab princes. However, his failure to do so was a disappointment to reformers, and was attributed to his incomplete control over the military and the hardliners from his father's reign.
Moreover, in the wake of 9/11 and the renewed focus on dictatorships throughout the world, he hasd been compared far more often to Kim Jong-il, another autocratic successor. As the North Korean dictator has continued the obstructionist stance of his father's regime (with his own idiosyncracies mixed in), and as Syrian behavior hardly changed during Bashar's rule up until now, it was assumed that Bashar would be more like Kim Jong-il.
There is, however, another example for the son of a hard-line military dictator in a developing area: Chiang Ching-kuo, son of Chiang Kai-shek. In 1987, Chiang Ching-kuo ended martial law over Taiwan, and in so doing set the stage for the political modernization of the Republic of China. For this act, he is still fondly remembered, and it is his greatest legacy.
In a similar light, Bashar al-Assad might now take this chance to purge the military establishment of hardliners that he can say got Syria into trouble with the United States to begin with. From there, it will remain to be seen whether the current al-Assad will constitute a new hardline rule of his own, or, as I think is more likely, he'll take cues from his neighbors and set into motion the march toward pluralism and representational democracy. To be sure, it will most likely not have an American flavor to it; but it will still be a liberalizing democracy, and it will have been achieved without invasion and without assassination. What a great example it will then be to the Arab world, and with Iraq and Lebanon, the Cradle of Civilization might yet be brought forward to the 21st Century.
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]
It's not enough to care about it whilst it's in the media. Where were the Greens last month? Why wasn't this an issue when the road-works were first planned? It's not like the Australian Greens don't take an interest in Defence issues. Why, there's a veritable plethora of policy here. Except, it's the ole 'Peace and Security' line. Here's a cogent, well-derived example of strategic thinking at the environmental moon-bat level.
'2.37 respond to the urgent need to develop comprehensive international peacemaking capabilities, both in new regional institutions and through a reformed UN'
Either the Greens don't understand the separate UN Peace-keeping Chapters, or they do, and are unwittingly supporting a military expansionist policy. 'Comprehensive international peacemaking capabilities' is really code for what? More troops? More weaponry? More toothless NGO agencies?
The Australian Greens are supporters of one aim alone. A de-weaponised Australian military, and the use of paper policies to prevent bad things happening to poor people. Imagine the golden sons of ANZAC encountering the hippies protesting in the streets of Sydney and Auckland, whining about the Iraq war. You'd see a new definition of 'peace and security'.
Crossposted at Bastards Inc.
I am Mrs. Suha Arafat, the wife of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader who died recently in Paris. Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state of antagonism, confusion, humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture. As a widow that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment.
You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband secret bank account and companies and the allegations of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in my name of which I have refuses to disclose or give up to the corrupt Palestine Government.
In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of about $6.5 Billion Dollars. And they are not relenting on their effort to make me poor for life. As you know, the Moslem community has no regards for woman, more importantly when the woman is from a Christian background, hence my desire for a foreign assistance.
I have deposited the sum of 21 million dollars with a Security financial firm in whose name is withheld for now until we open communication. I shall be grateful if you could receive this fund into your bank account for safe keeping and Investment opportunity. This arrangement will be known to you and I alone and all our correspondence should be strictly on email alone because our government has tapped all my lines and are monitoring all my moves.
In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for our mutual benefits, we will have to negotiate on your Percentage share of the $21,000,000 that will be kept in your position for a while and invested in your name for my trust pending when my Daughter, Zahwa, will come off age and take full responsibility of her Family Estate/inheritance. Please, if you are honest, I am going to entrust more funds in your care as this is one of the legacy we keep for our children. In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the security and international media as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidence I will greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in good faith and send to me your complete personal contact information.
May God bless you and your household.
Reply to firstname.lastname@example.org
A leftist will see the name of thankfully deceased camel humper Yasser Arafat and immediately think. "Wow. She is contacting me personally. I better sign up, as I assume there will be some opportunity to assist in the killing of more Jooooos!"
I got to admit though, it is pretty accurate account of things. The corrupt Palestinian government, the total disregard for women, the daughter Zahwa, and not least Arafat's stolen multi-billion dollar fortune, and the critical need for secrecy (overlooking the fact this has been emailed all over the web) all entirely accurate and plausible.
Why if I didn't have half a brain (i.e if I were a leftist) I too would probably believe that this is Arafat's widow wanting to pay me a share of $21 million for help and proceed to hand over all my bank account details, at which point I find my account emptied and then go and cry like a little bitch to the media about how the government should ban the internet, or at the very least, monitor and have to approve every single email that ever gets written to stop ones like this coming into the country, so idiots like me are protected from my own idiocy. Have I got that right, leftists?
Of course I have.
I certainly would not assume it was some variation of a Nigerian 419 scam and that perhaps it wasn't really Arafat's widow emailing me, nor that this person would empty bank account as soon as I handed over all the details to it. No, of course not. Nobody would think that.
Still, there are obviously enough morons getting sucked in to these to warrant the number of emails I get each week (over the course of one weekend my net worth went up by over $100,000,000 as a result of all the money I was promised for assisting with transfers like this one and the total of my European lottery winnings that I don't seem to remember buying a ticket for, yet appear to have won first prize in anyway)
To paraphrase one of my favourite movies of all time
"I've been trying to figure something in my head, and maybe you can help me out, yeah? When a person is stupid, as you clearly are, do you know that you're stupid? Maybe you're just sitting around, reading "Green Left Weekly", masticating on your own fingers, do you just stop and go, "Wow! It is amazing how fucking stupid I really am!"? Do you guys do that?"
"The increase will raise the minimum salary from 100 pesos to 225 pesos," the Cuban leader said.This means you could out-earn what the average Cuban earns in a month by working very little:
Castro said this would raise the average monthly wage in Cuba to 312 pesos ($14.20) from 282 pesos ($12.80) at a cost to the government of $48.4 million.
Cubans welcomed the raises, but said it was still too little to live on. Rent and public services are heavily subsidized in Cuba, but essential consumer goods are more expensive than in the United States.
United States: 2 hours, 46 minutes.
Australia: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
And I could go on, but you get the picture. The majority of Cubans live on less than US$14.20, or AU$18.20 a month - a figure that could be doubled (or quadrupled depending on your definition) and still be classified as extreme poverty. The average Victorian earns more than 240 times more than the average Cuban.
But at least those Cubans can enjoy free healthcare. Not to mention their freedoms, especially on the internet. Exactly what is it that radical leftists love so much about Cuba?
(Cross-posted to The House Of Wheels.)
Sydney-born Sheik Faiz Mohamad, 34, a former boxer who teaches at the Global Islamic Youth Centre in Liverpool, made the comments during a lecture for more than 1000 people at Bankstown Town Hall. The Sun-Herald has a recording of the March 18 speech in which Sheik Faiz said: "A victim of rape every minute somewhere in the world. Why? No one to blame but herself. She displayed her beauty to the entire world.
Take note you women, look good and you deserve to be raped!!! Is this guy for real, I thought we had moved on from all this... wait, we did, just not this primate.
"Strapless, backless, sleeveless, nothing but satanic skirts, slit skirts, translucent blouses, miniskirts, tight jeans: all this to tease man and appeal to his carnal nature."
At the local mall, I, being an example of 'man', am subjected to many a species of the opposite sex, dressed in these satanic robes (or lack thereof). Wait till they find out my carnal nature is dying to unleash. I think I'll just wait in the car while the wife does the shopping.
He compared a woman dressed in such a way to a sheep. "Would you put this sheep that you adore in the middle of hungry wolves? No . . . It would be devoured. It's the same situation here. You're putting this precious girl in front of lustful, satanic eyes of hungry wolves. What is the consequence? Catastrophic devastation, sexual harassment, perversion, promiscuity."
Thanks a lot sheik, now I, like all other men out there are deemed lustful, with satanic eyes and with wolf like profiles, although I do prefer to be described as wolflike in stature rather than slightly over weight and a bit clumsy.
But coming back to this comparison, in the recent gang rape cases in Sydney, the women were kidnapped or taken under false pretences, they were not placed with the rapists or something, maybe the good sheik should go on a fact finding mission before opening the trap.
The invitation to the $15-a-head lecture stipulated modest dress and "strict male and female segregation". It was promoted as a lecture about "death" in flyers and on the website of the ICRA Youth Centre in Lidcombe, an Islamic community group which sponsored the evening.
I guess all the men were standing on the other side, eyeing the females with lustful and satanic eyes and also appearing wolfish.
The ICRA and Faiz's Global Islamic Youth Centre have broken away from the Lakemba Mosque, the main place of worship for Sydney's Lebanese Muslims, because, a former associate says, Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali, 64, is too moderate.
Sheik Faiz declined to be interviewed.
Maybe he was afraid to be deemed a dangerous fool, too late for that.
The good sheik really needs to wake up to himself, he just painted all men (not just us infidels) as evil raping bastards who just want to rape any woman that looks pretty. We have no control of ourselves, so no woman is safe in front of us, the wind blows the long skirt a bit, an ankle is revealed, there go the carnal urges, sorry dear, your fault.. this guy is a real piece of work.
Last week I heard a caller to the openline to the local radio station 2GB, a middle aged white woman driving around somewhere in Bankstown or Lakemba, when she had a flat tyre or two, anyway she had to stop and happened to pull over into the parking lot of a Mosque.
They had just finished their prayers and this poor woman was confronted by sight of God knows how many men exiting the mosque. You can just imagine the apprehension, but it all amounted to nothing more than fear, apparently a group of them came over and helped her change the tyres and fix up the car and she didn't have to lift a finger, friendly, polite and happy to help. Off she went safe and sound.
I hope the Muslim community wake up to this deranged fellow and collectively fund his one way ticket to the middle east or whatever crazy planet he has come from.
I don't hold a job that decides which course a person's life is going to take, I don't drive a 10 ton truck, or drive a train or fly a plane, yet my employer will not be happy if I fall asleep on the job.
Documents obtained by the paper showed Judge Dodd snored as he slept for 15 minutes at a time. The victim felt "destroyed and humiliated" and was concerned the judge's response may have influenced the jury's decision to rule the defendant not guilty. The accused was later convicted and jailed for 12 years for a sexual assault on another person in a hearing before a different judge.
Yet this judge fell asleep while hearing the evidence of the victim, the accused was released and then later commited another rape and was found guilty of that. Maybe if he had bothered to hear the victims testimony and found this fellow guilty then the second person would not have been raped. The judicial commission doesn't give a stuff, it wasn't one of them who got raped so who cares.
The Judicial Commission did not uphold the woman's complaint, stating in a letter that there was no evidence of the judge's "unresponsiveness". "There was no evidence that the judge's condition had affected his understanding of what was going on during the trial or his rulings and directions," the commission stated.
I guess pilots, train drivers and motor vehicle drivers are allowed to fall asleep at the wheel and cannot be punished unless there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that they don't know what they are doing when asleep at the wheel.
Judge Dodd acknowledged he had fallen asleep, a problem apparently linked to the disorder known as sleep apnoea. He apologised to the complainant in a letter to the commission, saying he had not been diagnosed of his condition at the time of the 2003 trial. "(The complainant) feels that I did not treat her humanely and with courtesy and respect and that I was gruff and arrogant," Judge Dodd wrote.
"I apologise for any behaviour on my part which has caused her to feel that way." The Telegraph reported that this was one of several cases in which the judge had been accused of falling asleep.
Yes we must trust the system.
The complainant, now aged 30, has lobbied Premier Bob Carr to force the judge to face "serious disciplinary action". "I want him removed from the bench," she said. She also wrote to Attorney-General Bob Debus who stated in his reply that he intended to pursue "a number of unresolved issues with the commission".
Blogs, moreover, are but one item on a growing list of new media tools that the internet makes available. Wikis are collaborative web pages that allow readers to edit and contribute. This, to digital immigrants, may sound like a recipe for anarchic chaos, until they visit, for instance, wikipedia.org, an online encyclopaedia that is growing dramatically richer by the day through exactly this spontaneous (and surprisingly orderly) collaboration among strangers. Photoblogs are becoming common; videoblogs are just starting. Podcasting (a conjunction of iPod, Apple's iconic audio player, and broadcasting) lets both professionals and amateurs produce audio files that people can download and listen to.The Revolution in this case has nothing to do with overthrowing the old order, but with making it more accountable. Come to think of it, the original American War of Indepence started with cries of no taxation without representation!, so the pajamahedin may be Minute Men after all. On second thought, that might give people the wrong idea ...
It is tempting, but wrong, for the traditional mainstream media (which includes The Economist) to belittle this sort of thing. It is true, for instance, that the vast majority of blogs are not worth reading and, in fact, are not read (although the same is true of much in traditional newspapers). On the other hand, bloggers play an increasingly prominent part in the wider media drama—witness their role in America's presidential election last year. The most popular bloggers now get as much traffic individually as the opinion pages of most newspapers. Many bloggers are windbags, but some are world experts in their field. Matthew Hindman, a political scientist at Arizona State University, found that the top bloggers are more likely than top newspaper columnists to have gone to a top university, and far more likely to have an advanced degree, such as a doctorate.
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]
Brandishing an electrical shocker, the delegate of A Woman's Voice International said, "This is what passes for justice in the People's Republic of China." He then turned it on and a silence fell upon the room as the device audibly brought forth electric shocks.China Aid Association disputed the bias in that report, and produced their own report (link in Word format):
At the beginning of the afternoon session on Tuesday, China took the floor, saying, "A Woman's Voice breached security by bringing in an electrical device in violation of Resolution 9631, concerning participation of NGOs at UN meetings". The delegate himself was "an alleged criminal," in China.
The Chinese delegate then made a number of requests to the Secretariat. Among them: security should investigate the incident fully, including the background of the speaker and the organization. The investigation should also include how the man passed through security. The results of the investigation should be made public to the Commission. Furthermore, any NGOs under the umbrella of A Woman's Voice should lose participation rights. For its part, China will report the incident to the Committee of NGOs in New York City, and the organization should regulate its actions in the future.
The Secretariat said that security escorted the speaker from A Woman's Voice out of the building, taking his UN card and banning him from the remainder of the Commission. Accreditation of delegates is the responsibility of the organization concerned and a full investigation would be launched into the matter.
China said that the host country of Switzerland should consider criminal sanctions and background checks should be made into the members of the organization. China said that if A Woman's Voice International could provide a written assurance that it would obey the rules for the remainder of the Commission, "perhaps we can be flexible".
Cuba was also concerned with accreditation of individuals by governments, saying that several delegates accredited by the government of the Czech Republic insulted the Cuban delegation at a parallel event. The Secretariat replied that an investigation into that matter would also be launched.
During his speech on April 5, 2005, with previous agreement from both the Commission secretary office and the UN security guards, Rev. Bob Fu displays and demonstrates an electric-shock baton smuggled out of China recently. It was made in China used by the Chinese police and interrogators to torture victims of religious victims. However, the Chinese delegate immediately registers a complaint to UNCHR that the electric baton made them "feel threatened". Then Both Rev. Bob Fu’s UN badge and the electric baton were taken away by the UN security officials without giving any explanation. Rev. Fu was ordered to leave the UN complex immediately. At the same time, according to those who were present there, for about an hour, China uses the plenary floor attacking A Woman’s Voice International and threatening to shut up all the NGOs. China demands apology from AWVI and Bob Fu.Notice that Cuba was very quick to jump on the bandwagon. Their goal: To be able to control what non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are allowed to speak, and what speakers they're allowed to present, at the UNCHR, and probably elsewhere throughout the entire United Nations system as well.
So here's China trying to make it seem as if it were the equivalent of Jeffrey Dahmer challenging the US. Perhaps the People's Republic would care to explain exactly why the reverend is considered a criminal. If anything, his crime is the political crime of calling a spade a spade. Perhaps the delegate felt threatened because if it ever came to light what devices China uses to silence religious folk, he may lose his job. It is the supreme symptom of insecurity to attempt to silence a critic before the critic has had a chance to speak.
The incident is not going to die in Geneva, however. US Representative Chris Smith (R) of New Jersey's Fourth District has now called for a hearing:
The Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations subcommittee will probe the question of whether the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) continues to promote and serve the purpose it was created to advance: respect for internationally recognized human rights and freedoms.If you care about the freedom of religion, please support Congressman Smith's efforts to get the word out about the appalling treatment of Reverend Fu.
Featured at the hearing will be Bob Fu, a former Chinese prisoner of conscience who was recently removed from the 61st session of the UN Human Rights Commission earlier this month, after he made a presentation showing how China tortures religious prisoners with specially designed electro-shock devices. The Chinese delegation complained that the equipment 'made them feel threatened', and insisted that Mr. Fu be removed from the conference, his credentials seized, and his Chinese torture device confiscated. Mr. Fu’s credentials were issued by a non-governmental organization (NGO), A Woman’s Voice International (AWVI).
Many in Congress and around the world have questioned and criticized the membership of the UNCHR for including a number of countries whose records on human rights are almost universally recognized as deplorable. Many of these regimes (such as the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan) seek membership on the UNCHR in order to deflect criticism from their own poor human rights records, and mutually support each other to prevent the Commission from appointing special rapporteurs to examine particular human rights abuses or situations.
In the meantime, the United Nations is turning into the exact opposite of what it was meant to be. I've said it before and I'll say it now: The United Nations is a farce. It has been going down the path of the League of Nations for some time now, and now we know that it wasn't US non-participation in the League of Nations that condemned that body to obsolescence.
The world has changed since 1945, and the United Nations no longer serves the interests of a free world. Whereas some arms of the United Nations arguably are worthy organizations, the farce, the circus that has become the political arm of the United Nations exacts a toll that is not warranted by what little good the WHO and UNICEF do.
Let's leave the United Nations, and let it relocate to Paris.
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds and Naruwan Formosa]
Three states — Florida, California and Texas — would account for nearly one-half (46 percent) of total U.S. population growth between 2000 and 2030, according to Census Bureau state population projections released today. Consequently, Florida, now the fourth most populous state, would edge past New York into third place in total population by 2011; California and Texas would continue to rank first and second, respectively, in 2030.USA Today's table has the important results, and from here we can work out some interesting things:
These three states would each gain more than 12 million people between 2000 and 2030. Arizona, projected to add 5.6 million people, and North Carolina, with 4.2 million, would round out the top five numerical gainers. As a result, Arizona and North Carolina would move into the top 10 in total population by 2030 — Arizona rising from 20th place in 2000 to 10th place in 2030 and North Carolina from 11th place to seventh place. Michigan and New Jersey are projected to drop out of the top 10.
The projections indicate that the top five fastest-growing states between 2000 and 2030 would be Nevada (114 percent), Arizona (109 percent), Florida (80 percent), Texas (60 percent) and Utah (56 percent).
The population of traditional Red states (states that have gone Republican at least four of the last five Presidential elections) will be projected at 150.3 million, out of a projected 363.6 million.
This is horribly bad news for the Democrats, because theoretically it means that safe Republican states add up to enough percentage of the population to win 222 electoral votes - and not among these safe Republican states are places like West Virginia, Lousiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee that Bush won by more than 8% after winning in 2000 - add those and all of a sudden you've got 175.9 million people - enough to give the Republicans mathematically 260 electoral votes in the bag as long as they continue to hold their stronghold states.
That's just one small-medium state, or 10 votes from victory.
New England stands to lose about 20 percent of its congressional seats over the next quarter-century as political power follows population booms in the South and West: AP
Again, horribly bad news for the Democrats. They've shown themselves virtually incapable of winning states in the South, and their main electoral vote base is going to lose 20 percent of its Congressional states, meaning they'll lose a very similar amount of electoral college votes. But how are they going to get the extra votes they'll need when those votes will be almost all in the South - where the Democrats seemingly don't even try anymore? Howard Dean can talk all he likes about trying to win in 40+ states, but with quotes like "I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.", you're not likely to get anywhere.
So where to for the Democrats? For starters, electing a North-Eastern liberal as your party chief isn't a good move if you want to win votes in the South. Even worse is electing a high-brow North-Eastern liberal as your Presidential candidate. They haven't won the White House in 44 years. The classic quote "That Northeast liberal thing hasn’t panned out for us lately" could not be more accurate. Considering it comes from a DNC fundraiser, the party could do a lot dumber things than listen to him.
In fact, they've consistently done a lot dumber things over the past 5 years.
(Cross-posted to The House Of Wheels.)
“Did anyone in our family die in the war?”I explained.
“Yes, my sweet,” I replied, “they did”.
My little ones great, great grandfather. He was a naval man (Royal Navy), as all our male family members were to that point, following the family’s naval tradition (a custom my great grandmother made my grandfather promise to break, given it was an institution that had killed them all).
It was World War I. The year was 1914. The ship was Good Hope, Admiral Craddock’s West Indies Squadron flagship. The battle was Coronel.
A gunnery officer, his ship, Good Hope, was struck by volley after volley from the German armoured cruiser Scharnhorst, in concert with Gneisenau and a further three German light cruisers, all modern, efficient ships. Once the battle was done, the last it was seen it was steaming to the horizon, listing badly, issuing smoke. It was never seen again. All but five of her nine hundred hands died.
When I was done, my little girl wept for her great, great grandfather, a man she never knew.
And for the first time in my life, quietly, so she couldn’t see. . .
. . .so did I.
What does this day mean for me? It means the sacrifice of a young man named George. And it means a life, celebrated by a little girl George never knew, nearly a century away.