Archive for the ‘International News’ Category

When witchhunts clash

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

This is making me laugh, but I’m sure it shouldn’t.  A friend just forwarded this article from the Daily Mail which informs us that they can’t put anybody under eighteen through those “nekkid” scanners at the airport, because the resulting images would constitute child porn and the poor bastards security employees viewing them would instantly be rendered criminals simply for doing their jobs.

This is stupid six ways from Sunday. 1) The scanners still don’t show anything in a “body cavity,” so a determined and creative bomber could still find a way; 2) the idea of the crazed “Islamofascists” hesitating to send a “child” of sixteen or seventeen forth to glorious martyrdom is ludicrous; 3) a blurry clinical-looking picture of a kid glimpsed for a moment (they’re not preserved AFAIK) on a screen hardly constitutes porn—and if it does, then we need to just shut down every water park on the planet right now…well okay, that’s only three ways, but I’m sure given time I can come up with more.

Good To Know Who’s Really in Charge Here

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert showed his hand — or perhaps another part of his anatomy — when he told the Associated Press yesterday that he had forced Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to abstain from voting on a UN resolution on Gaza that she helped to draft.

“I said, ‘Get me President Bush on the phone,’ ” Mr. Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, according to The Associated Press. “They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care: ‘I need to talk to him now,’ ” Mr. Olmert continued. “He got off the podium and spoke to me.”

Israel opposed the resolution, which called for a halt to the fighting in Gaza, because the government said it did not provide for Israel’s security. It passed 14 to 0, with the United States abstaining.

Mr. Olmert claimed that once he made his case to Mr. Bush, the president called Ms. Rice and told her to abstain. “She was left pretty embarrassed,” Mr. Olmert said, according to The A.P.

The State Department disputes this account, of course.  I guess Mr. Olmert just got carried away and forgot he wasn’t supposed to tell that part of the story.  Stay classy, Ehud.

Gaza Insights

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

I asked my friend Shalom Sam to write a piece exploring the situation in Gaza, and as usual he has come through with an excellent summation of the historical and cultural context that has led us to this point.  Sam holds a PhD in Biblical Studies and has traveled and worked extensively in Israel and the Palestinian territories. — Kathy


For the last several days, the evening news has covered the events in the Gaza Strip in the first few minutes of the broadcast. Horrific scenes of mangled bodies, crying children, and wailing women who have lost husbands, sons, and daughters have assaulted our senses. Videos of rocket trails racing skyward are followed by images of missiles exploding in cities. Pundits from all sides have weighed in with their opinions. What in the world is going on?


Pakistan Vote Delayed At Least a Month

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

A senior election official in Pakistan has announced that elections scheduled for January 8 will be postponed till at least the second week of February. This follows the assassination of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on December 27. Apparently Musharraf is afraid Bhutto’s party would get the sympathy vote if elections moved ahead as planned. Or perhaps there’s a need for additional vote-rigging:

Bhutto was killed Thursday evening in a shooting and bombing attack on her vehicle as she left a campaign rally. She had been scheduled to meet hours later with Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I.

Sen. Latif Khosa, a lawmaker from Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party, said she had planned to give the lawmakers a report outlining complaints on “pre-poll rigging” by Musharraf’s government and the military-run Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

Gee, I’m sure our good buddy Musharraf hasn’t used any of that $10 billion we’ve given him to exert any, shall we say, undue influence. I wonder what happened to Condi Rice’s promise to “review” our aid to Pakistan after he fired the Supreme Court and declared martial law in the fall. Guess I shouldn’t hold my breath. These things takes time, you know.  Just like the election.

Pakistan Update

Friday, December 28th, 2007

MSNBC is reporting that Pakistan plans to go ahead with the parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8. Meanwhile, the Pakistani Interior Ministry has announced that al-Qaeda extremists assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, and Time has picked up the story and run all the way down the terror field with it, speculating that political assassination is al-Qaeda’s new best friend. Um, Time guys? Perhaps it’s a little too soon to push the panic button. It’s far from clear who engineered the assassination (something the author does concede near the end of the article), and we might want to wait for a little more information.

Ms. Bhutto was laid to rest today as the country continues to be wracked by violent protests. Sad and frightening. More as it breaks.

ADDENDUM:  I’m not taking up for al-Qaeda here.  Destabilizing Pakistan is probably way up near the top of Osama bin Laden’s to-do list.  I’d just prefer not to given Giuliani, et al, any more opportunities to wank about how they’ll protect us from the evil terrists.

Former Prime Minister Bhutto Assassinated

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at a campaign rally in Pakistan today. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for January 8; her death sparked a violent response from supporters, some of whom blame President Pervez Musharraf. Who, I’m sure, had absolutely nothing to do with it. Uh huh. But I bet he’s really sorry she’s gone. At least 20 other people were killed in the explosion when the assassin blew himself up after shooting Bhutto.

Bhutto served twice as Pakistan’s Prime Minister and had returned in October from an eight-year exile. She headed the largest political party in the country, which was expected to fare quite well in the upcoming elections.

Pakistan is a really scary place right now — political unrest, nuclear weapons, and a leader whose power has been threatened. Oh, and, most likely, Osama bin Laden somewhere in the mix. Stay tuned.

Bhutto Under House Arrest

Friday, November 9th, 2007

UPDATE: Pervez reconsiders the house arrest.  Still, this is some scary shit.

Our pal Pervez Musharraf is determined to silence dissent in Pakistan, so he’s created a “free speech” zone for opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Police surrounded her house with barbed wire, refused to let her leave, and arrested thousands of her supporters in order to stop a huge protest against martial law.

Meanwhile, back in the US, Bush is saying to himself, “Damn. I wish I’d thought of that.” Not really.

Drummond Trial Continues

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Drummond Ltd., the Colombian arm of the Drummond Coal Company, is on trial in federal court in Birmingham, accused of paying right-wing militia members to kidnap and murder three union leaders.  The lawsuit is based on the Alien Tort Statute of 1789.

Don’t know much about the case?  You’re not alone.  Drummond has done its best to keep it under the radar, and the judge in the case cooperated by sealing documents and charging the union’s attorneys with contempt – until the appeals court overturned her ruling in March 2007.

So, if you’ve seen a few mentions in the news recently and are curious about the background of the case, Kyle Whitmire at the Birmingham Weekly fills in the details in this week’s cover story.  Check it out.

Heckuva Job, Wolfie!

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz, forced to resign as head of the World Bank because he got a high-paying, cushy job for his girlfriend (she recently dumped him), managed to hang on to his job long enough to “earn” a $400,000 performance bonus, due tomorrow.

Must be nice.

A Killer Deal

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Um, literally — allegedly literally, anyway.

Lawyers for three slain Colombian coal miners who are suing Drummond Co. in Birmingham have asked for an extra 180 days to get ready for the wrongful death trial slated to start July 9.

The lawyers representing the families of the dead men, their labor union, and international labor rights organizations said in a court filing last week they have discovered a third last-minute witness who needs time to get ready before he can testify at the trial.

The new witness is Isnardo Gonzalez, a former bodyguard for a Drummond executive in Colombia. The filing said he will testify that he saw a Drummond executive visit with militia leaders who were hostile to labor unions, and witnessed payments to such groups.

I’ve heard a few allusions to this case over the past year, and now I see there have been (since overturned) gag orders on top of sealed documents — and not a whole lot of local media coverage.  I can’t access Latin American Post right now, although the Locust Fork Journal does have some links to Stephen Jackson Flanagan’s ongoing coverage.

Could be I have a couple of readers out there who could fill in some of the details.