Friday, March 7, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Funniest headline I've seen all week....Excuse Me? Is This the Right Way to Wank?

The government of Belarus has told the U.S. Ambassador to leave the country, and recalled it's own ambassador from Washington. A spokesman for the State Department said that the US ambassador had not been formally expelled, and would remain in Minsk while the situation is reviewed. The move comes in the wake of the US levying economic sanctions against Belneftekhim, Belarus' oil monopoly.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out after charges were made suggesting that Turkey ended its ground offensive against the terrorists of the PKK who find safe haven in Iraqi Kurdistan, bowing to pressure from the US. Erdoğan threatened to step down from his post if anyone can prove the allegations true.

Anyone who really gives a damn about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process needs to go read this Op-Ed by Maria Appokova right now.
For the U.S. administration, a peace agreement in the Middle East is a matter of principle. It has become part of its strategy in the global struggle against terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. This issue is as important as the overthrow of former President Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Bush simply cannot leave his office without drawing a line under the main project of his whole presidency...and the suffering of others be damned.

The British are coming! The British are coming! Some 200 British Army and Royal Marine officers have descended on Holton in northeast Kansas to take part in joint counterinsurgency training with their American counterparts. The joint training has taken pace for four years now. This is the second year it has been conducted in Holton.

Australian authorities are bracing for a flood of cheap heroin from Afghanistan after opium production rose approximately 34% last year according to a UN survey. Addiction treatment professionals are already reporting an increase in Afghan "brown tar" heroin in Australian cities. As is always the case, purity is increasing, prices are decreasing and deaths by overdose are on the rise. Just another unintended consequence of Bush foreign policy.

After 28 centuries, the patent is expired
(I should probably issue an insensitivity warning before I go on, so consider it done...) The Balkan Republic of Macedonia wants to join NATO, and Greece is promising to veto their membership bid if the country doesn't change it's name, and Macedonia has taken out full-page ads in key newspapers to plead their case. In 1995, the Greek government and representatives of the fledgling Macedonian republic signed an agreement in which the republic of Macedonia added a constitutional amendment that stipulated the nation made no claim to the region of Greece know as Macedon, or Macedonia. The nation also changed it's flag at the request of Athens. When Yugoslavia disintegrated in the 1990's, Greece allowed the nation to join the UN under the acronym FYROM (Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia) but will not let the nation into NATO using it. Now, I can read a map, and there is plenty going on in that part of the world to get excited about before a nation like Greece gets too worried about a tiny nation like Macedonia usurping it's territory. Get real.

It's time to debate and redefine roles and missions, whether the turf-protectors at the Pentagon want to or not. A new report (.pdf alert) from the House Armed Services Committee "hopes to jump-start the arduous process of breaking down those sorts of walls — not only within the Pentagon, still operating largely under a Cold War construct that is grappling with new concepts such as cyber-warfare, but in an intelligence community that is dealing with the complexities of tracking shadowy terrorists around the world, and a State Department that is shifting gears from “genteel diplomacy” to demanding volunteers for provincial reconstruction teams." I remember 1986, when Goldwater-Nichols was supposed to be the end of western civilizations if interoperability was even worked toward. Yet even after it was achieved, life went on. New recruits enlisted, new commissions were granted, children were born, billets were assigned, careers progressed, retirements were accepted and pensions were granted, and now interoperability is SOP. In short...We got over it. And todays Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines will as well.

Climate Change is affecting Antarctica The calving of a gigantic iceberg - 34 KM by 20 KM - from the Pine Island Glacier last summer, while impressive, is becoming something of a frequent occurrence as the gigantic ice shelf that extends into the ocean off the western edge of the continent is crumbling. Not only that, but the glaciers on the landmass are speeding toward the coast. Scientists are getting concerned at a rate that rivals the acceleration of the glaciers. If the melt-rate continues, or increases, many experts fear a catastrophic rise in ocean levels.

The latest Congressional Power Rankings are out and boy! Is Rick "indicted on 35 counts" Renzi's face red! He is in last place. The cleaning lady who vacuums unused conference rooms enjoys slightly more authority in the halls of congress than he does. Last place used to be held by my congressman, Emmanuel Cleaver, back when he was a freshman and the Publican kneecappers were running the show. He is now in the top half with breathing room, at 189.

Speaking of my congressman, he is calling on national party chairman Howard Dean to help cool the rhetoric before Democrats ruin their chances to win the White House. Cleaver penned a letter to Dean, urging him to appoint a special committee of party luminaries to mediate squabbles, like the chase for superdelegates, and such as the fight over seating Michigan and Florida delegates. He told Jo Mannies of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the prospect of a seven week ‘fist fight’ over the Pennsylvania primary sends chills down his spine.

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