Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Baghdad - Tens of thousands of Baghdad soccer fans cheered on their club in the top league's final game, the largest sports crowd the city has seen since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
The Baghdad club, al-Zawraa, lost 0-1 in overtime Sunday to a team from Irbil in northern Iraq. But the game was not marred by crowd violence or a terrorist attack, a sign that security forces are asserting more control in the capital.
[that the soccer game featured only a soccer game is good news is, well, less than stellar - but we'll take it. besides, it's better than Britain usually manages...]
Obama wants to have it both ways on Iraq.
Senator Barack Obama has done his best to make it appear as if he has embraced the surge, noting in his VFW speech last week, that “gains have been made in lowering the level of violence”. Yet when actually pressed on the subject he continues to insist that the surge has not worked. He is effectively embracing the surge without embracing it at all.
Obama has gone so far as to insist — when pressed by Katie Couric last month — that if given the opportunity to support or oppose the surge again, ["knowing what we know now"] he would still oppose it. So, on one hand, Obama recognizes success in Iraq. But on the other hand, he still opposes the American policy that fostered that success. In Obama’s mind, this is not a contradiction.
The reason why is that Obama won’t admit that the gains we’ve seen in Iraq are at all related to the surge. He knows things have improved in Iraq — even on the political front — but credits everything but the surge strategy and U.S. troops for those improvements. Sure, he’ll say on the stump that “our troops have accomplished every mission” and “they have performed brilliantly.” But in the very next breath, he’ll deny that they were responsible for the success (remember: “gains have been made”).
It seems as if nothing good can possibly have come from U.S. military policy in Iraq simply because it went ahead without Obama’s blessing.
Pakistan coalition in major split
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has pulled his PML-N party - the country's second biggest - out of the multi-party governing coalition. He has been in dispute with the country's biggest party, the PPP, on the reinstatement of judges sacked by former President Pervez Musharraf. The two sides also disagree over who should be the next president. The move throws Pakistan into further turmoil at a time of economic gloom and growing threats...
[as predicted: we're going to miss Musharraf]
Pakistan turmoil deepens
Islamabad - Pakistan's political turmoil deepened on Tuesday after the two main parties in the ruling coalition split, weakening the fragile government just a week after president Pervez Musharraf resigned. The world's only nuclear-armed Islamic nation, already facing a fresh campaign of bombings by a resurgent militant movement, now faces the prospect of a bitter political battle over the choice of Musharraf's successor.
Points of views vary regarding military withdrawal from Georgia, because the Russian government states it is in compliance, while Georgia and the US at the very least, do not concur. [snip]
It's been said that an aggressor always sets the terms, but an added rub is "the extraordinary vagueness of the EU-brokered ceasefire deal" [snip]
In South Ossetia, Russian troops erected 18 peacekeeping posts in the "security zone" and planned to build another 18 peacekeeping posts around Abkhazia. A total of 2,600 heavily armed troops the Russians call peacekeepers will be deployed in those regions.Russia is staking out positions far beyond the bounders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
A top Russian general on Saturday said his country's forces will continue to patrol a key Georgian Black Sea port even though the city lies outside the 'security zones" where Russia claims it has the right to station soldiers in Georgia.If setting up multiple check points and categorizing large swaths of land as security zones is the Russian government's interpretation of compliance, the US and the West better start advancing their own game of compliance before Georgia is "complianced" out of existence.
Moscow - Russia plans to halt visits by senior Nato officials and joint military exercises with the alliance, Moscow's envoy to Nato announced on Tuesday.
"There will be no joint military exercises," Dmitry Rogozin told a Moscow news conference, adding that an upcoming visit to Moscow by Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer would also be postponed.
Rogozin listed 10 areas where Russia would limit, halt or suspend its cooperation with Nato: [snip]
"If they (Nato) start smashing the dinnerware, then we can add more to the list," Rogozin said.
[my take: Russia (and others) watched the EUNuchs' systemic incompetence and learned from Iran that belligerence works. They obviously expect the West to cave...]
Fred Kagan, the intellectual author of the successful US "troop surge" plan in Iraq, believes Nato's presence in the Baltics must be massively strengthened to pre-empt the risk of them being invaded in the same way as Georgia
One year after assuming total power over the Gaza Strip, Hamas is stronger than ever. Its weapons caches are overflowing and its control over daily life is secure. The Islamists can go about their business largely thanks to the supplies that get in via the tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt.
Throwing the "greenest national political convention to date" is easier said than done, as Democrats are learning the hard way... [snip]
The biggest environmental disaster to befall the convention hit two weeks ago, when the Barack Obama campaign announced that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee would make his acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High stadium.
The decision to move to the stadium threw a Chernobyl-sized wrench into the sustainability plan. Switching the venue from the Pepsi Center, which seats fewer than 20,000, to Invesco, which holds 78,000, threatens to saddle the convention with the Shaquille O'Neal of carbon footprints...
[ah, but their punitive enviro-moralism measures are meant to control our actions, not theirs...]
Gore's call to replace America's electric plants with windmills and the like in the next 10 years is a lawyer's delight.
Billions would be spent on litigation and on public hearings. Eco-protesters would use every stalling tactic possible to fight the installation of each and every turbine.
I say that because that is what they are doing now...
Liberal Democrats who oppose producing more American oil are in a bind.
They know voters are suffering from high energy prices and overwhelmingly want more American oil production. But they can't side with angry citizens and risk upsetting their left-wing base. So they need to make us think they support more drilling—while effectively preventing us from drilling any new wells.
They think they've found a way out: a proposed "use it or lose it" law for energy exploration. Drilling opponents accuse the oil industry of "sitting on" 68 million acres of "non-producing" leased land—and say energy companies must "use" this leased land within 10 years, or lose exploration and drilling rights... [snip]
The proposed legislation rely on the absurd assumption that every acre of leased land contains oil. Obviously, they don't. And the lease law agreements already require that energy companies explore expeditiously, or risk forfeiture of the lease. The Democrats' "solution" would just duplicate these requirements... [snip]
We don't need a "use it or lose it" law—or more big-oil conspiracy theories. Congress simply needs to allow drilling on the 60 percent of onshore federal oil and gas prospects and 85 percent of Outer Continental Shelf prospects that it has placed off-limits...
The call to arms is emotional: ‘We need a President who will stand up to Big Oil!’
The impact is nationwide: ‘National Day of Action for an Oil Free President… At gas stations across the country…’
The movement is massive: ‘American people need an Oil-Free President!’
And the Albany Times Union took a photo-op to demonstrate the fury of the numerous protesters
– all 7 of them.
[no media manipulation here...]
I recently said that America "would become France" if a certain bill now in Congress -- which would virtually guarantee that every company becomes unionized -- ever became law.
Deceptively named the Employee Free Choice Act, this bill would in most cases take away an employee's right to a secret ballot in a union election and give unions the option to have federal arbitrators set the wages, benefits, hours and all other terms and conditions of employment.
Countries other than France have suffered the consequences of bad labor laws. When I was CEO of Handy Dan, the precursor to Home Depot, I traveled to England in the 1970s to take a look at a chain of stores we were considering for acquisition. When I arrived in London, the airport workers, bus drivers and garbage collectors were all on strike. The major shareholder of the company asked me to interview three employees. He informed me afterward that he wanted me to hire them at Handy Dan "because the U.K. was finished." He explained that his tax rate was 75% and there were no incentives to grow.
When I asked what he and his company were doing about it, he told me that the media would attack the company if it got involved politically. I jumped all over him and the company's CEO for letting this happen without a fight.
Needless to say, Handy Dan did not buy these stores. Fortunately for Britain and thanks to the courage of Margaret Thatcher, both tax rates and the power of labor unions were reduced in later years.
My advice today about the Employee Free Choice Act is the same as I gave in England: You better fight to stop this undemocratic bill...
In the wake of former Sen. Phil Gramm's statements earlier this week about this being a nation full of whiners, the good folks at ABC's "Good Morning America" brought on a consumer psychologist Sunday to discuss whether or not the McCain advisor had a point.
Shockingly, not only did Kit Yarrow tell host Kate Snow that "the way consumers feel about things is very emotional," but also these "emotions are trumping reality" thereby creating a snowball which makes the economy worse.
Yarrow not only believes that things are "not as bad as consumers feel like it is," but also that the media are at fault because "everything is described as a crisis."
What follows is a partial transcript of this rather shocking and refreshing exchange (video available here),
Mexico's war on drugs is costing American taxpayers big bucks, as the U.S. government is bringing Mexican casualties from the conflict to hospitals north of the border and paying for medical treatment.
According to The Los Angeles Times, El Paso’s Thomason Hospital has treated 28 victims of the Mexican drug war this year, at a cost of about $1 million. The costs are not confined to medical treatment. With the border area becoming a battle zone where drug gangs, seeking to finish the job by pursuing their victims even into hospitals, Thomason has had on occasion been turned into an armed camp.
The Times reported that on three occasions this year, the hospital was placed under maximum security, with local law enforcement providing additional protection for patients, visitors, and employees at the hospital.
MSNBC:'People Get Stupider and Stupider Every Election Cycle' During MSNBC's convention coverage on Monday night, Bill Maher explained to Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann that American politics "seem to be getting worse because, sorry to say it, people get stupider and stupider every election cycle."
Maher's evidence of Americans' stupidity is found in the fact that "they think off-shore drilling is gonna lower the price of gas and they think Obama, the black guy from the single mother, somehow is the elitist."