Monday, May 12, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Serbia keeps its Pro-Western government: Serbia's pro-Western president declared victory in Sunday's parliamentary elections -- a stunning upset over ultranationalists who tried to exploit anger over Kosovo's independence. But his rivals vowed to fight on, and it was unclear if he could stave off their challenge. Serbian President Boris Tadic declares victory in the country's closely contested parliamentary elections. "This is a great day for Serbia," Boris Tadic proclaimed after an independent monitoring group that carried out a parallel vote count nationwide said his bloc won 39 percent -- about 10 percent more than the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party.

Storm updates: RACINE, Mo. — The area around Bill and Jane Lant’s destroyed businesses was strewn this morning with wedding gowns, tuxedos and other apparel. Surveying the wreckage of the bridal shop and the feed store the couple operated near Racine, about 15 miles south of Joplin, the Lants gave thanks that the tornado struck when it did, just about 15 minutes after the businesses closed. Otherwise the death toll from the twisters that struck Oklahoma and Missouri on Saturday evening could have been much worse. Emergency crews still were assessing the damage today from the string of killer tornados that left at least 22 dead, including seven in Oklahoma, 14 in Missouri and one this morning in Georgia. The storm system spawned at least eight tornados, some as powerful as EF3, according to the National Weather Service. The Enhanced Fujita scale goes up to EF5 and rates an EF3 tornado as capable of severe damage and 165 mph winds.

Tentative cease fire in Sadr City: One day after an agreement between followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr and the Iraqi government to end more than six weeks of fighting, the streets in parts of the vast Shiite slum of Sadr City were deserted, amidst signs of a battle. Wires snaked out of potholes and from underneath tires - signs of past or future roadside bombs; abandoned pickup trucks, destroyed by airstrikes, littered the streets, and bullets or shrapnel scarred the houses.

Airline Safety Bill blocked in the Senate: The Senate grounded the airline safety bill this week, a victim of political infighting and partisan wrangling. "The most frustrating week I have spent in the Senate in my 24 years here," Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, who led the fight for the bill, said on the Senate floor. "It defines what the American people find so inadequate about Congress. Days go by and nothing happens." The only vote taken was a 49-42, nearly party-line procedural step to end debate and bring the airline safety bill to a vote. But the largely Democratic backers needed 60 votes to be successful...The Federal Aviation Administration now won't have the money to hire more air traffic controllers, who safety advocates said are overworked and under stress. Nearly a fifth of the workforce has left the FAA since 2006, plunging the number of experienced controllers to a 16-year low, according to Patrick Forrey, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. He said 2,300 more were eligible for retirement.

Venezuela Arms Up with Chinese military planes, cementing the relationship between China and the OPEC member nation that has been solidifying for several years, based on the pathological symbiosis of arms and oil. Venezuela is building a new refinery on Chinese soil, indicating that the country is looking beyond the United States energy market as China emerges economically and militarily. In his Sunday radio address, Venezuelan president Chavez alleged that Colombia is trying to provoke a war with his country, with the goal being to draw the U.S. into a conflict in South America.

A family affair The most tense woman in all of England has to be Wendy Mackness. In the coming days, her husband and two of her sons will join her other son son who is already serving in Iraq. All four will be in the area around the southern port city of Basra. Basra was turned over to local control a few months ago and the Brits drew back out of the city, but maintain a presence in the region, operating out of the airport.

I do not think that word means what he thinks it means Would someone get Glenn Reynolds a copy of Websters dictionary and point him toward the "S's" so he can look up the definition of the word "Socialism." The guy works for a state university, for christ's sake, yet he likens fuel efficiency standards to socialism? If one of my kids attended law school at the University of Tennessee, I would sue.

How's that "war on drugs" working out? A month after Mexican president Phillippe Calderon deployed 2000 soldiers to the border town of Ciudad Juarez to quell drug violence along the border the violence shows no signs of abating. Just the opposite, in fact. In the last three weeks, ten federal police officers and a state prosecutor have been gunned down. "Even for a violent city like Juarez, this is pretty amazing. It's unprecedented," said Tony Payan, a drug cartel expert in El Paso, Texas, and author of the book "The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration, and Homeland Security."

The Missouri GOP is ginning up the voter suppression machine After the Supreme Court upheld the restrictive Indiana law, the knuckle-draggers of the MOGOP said "Hell's bells! We can top that!" and started the ball rolling to get an even more restrictive law, requiring proof of citizenship, in the form of an amendment to the state constitution, on the August state primary ballot. Get out the vote Missouri - while you still can.

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