Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

I think we can safely file this under "No shit, Sherlock" Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says Zimbabwe "is effectively being run by a military junta". Since the disputed presidential election in March, 66 people who supported Mugabe's political opponents have been killed in the political violence that has rocked the country. At least 200 opposition supporters have gone missing, and 3,000 have been treated in hospitals for injuries sustained in violent acts against supporters of Tsvangirai. Mugabe, of course, blames the opposition MDC party for the violence.

The Nepalese won't have Guyanendra to kick around any more The recently outlawed monarch has given up and will quit his occupancy of the palace and relocate to his summer home in a suburb of Kathmandu. Most of the property previously owned by the monarch and transferred via succession has now been nationalized. It is even expected that the royal accouterments such as the kings crown and scepter and the queens tiara will become the property of the state. The Maoists who have taken over the government had "urged" the king to bow out gracefully (by urged we mean "threatened with prosecution for corruption") was so very...Maoist...in their commentary on the kings decision to quit the palace. "It's a very positive step that the king has peacefully accepted the decision to vacate the palace. We are thankful to him," said Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara. "It has started a new era for peaceful political transition, and we honor his decision to live as a common citizen."

So when do we stop calling it a trade gap and start calling it a trade chasm? Driven by the high cost of importing foreign oil for our junkie populace to mainline, the U. S. trade deficit grew to $60.9 Billion in April. Crude oil imports alone increased $4.3bn to $29.3bn over the month, reflecting the higher prices for fuel on global markets. The increase totally negated the gains from strong US exports, which grew 3.3%.

Dude, where's my plane? One night in late 2007, a Boeing 727 flew in to Hanoi's Noi Bai airport from Siem Reap in neighbouring Cambodia - and that's about all that's known, the plane has been abandoned ever since. This is the sort of thing that never happens in the United States, but that makes the emerging world so very, very interesting.

Ron Paul plans parallel convention in Minneapolis After the Republican National Committee denied him a speaking slot at the party convention, Ron Paul - who does not support John McSame, nor his pet war - has decided to stage an alternate convention in the shadow of the party nominating convention. "There is a growing surge of people out there just craving" for a return "to traditional American government, limited government that places personal liberty first and places an emphasis on personal responsibility and essentially gets out of the way after that," Paul spokesman Jesse Benton told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. "The buzz we get from supporters is that they are very eager to come to St. Paul and very eager to send a strong message." At first, Ron Paul's campaign was seen as little more than a quixotic flash-in-the-pan, but then he gained momentum during the primaries, raising approximately $35 million dollars, and earned the votes of over a million republican primary voters. But the republican powers that be don't think he's influential enough to speak at the convention.

Will they or won't they? Will the Fed Raise Rates in August? The buzz on the street is that the Fed might raise the Fed Funds rate 25 bps at the August meeting.

Here's another great issue to use in the general--Republicans giving oil companies shelter from paying taxes: Senate Republicans blocked a proposal Tuesday to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies, despite pleas by Democratic leaders to use the measure to address America's anger over $4 a gallon gasoline. The Democratic energy package would have imposed a tax on any "unreasonable" profits of the five largest U.S. oil companies and given the federal government more power to address oil market speculation that the bill's supporters argue has added to the crude oil price surge. "Americans are furious about what's going on," declared Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and want Congress to do something about oil company profits and "an orgy of speculation" on oil markets. But Republicans argued the Democratic proposal focusing on new oil industry taxes is not the answer to the country's energy problems. "The American people are clamoring for relief at the pump," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., but if taxes are increased on the oil companies "they will get exactly what they don't want. The bill will raise taxes, increase imports." Note that that's RETIRING Senator Domenici who's out front on this issue...

Would they talk about Jewish issues with Billy Graham if they did meet? Kind of like how Billy and Tricky Dick talked about Jewish issues? A half-baked Internet news "story" that said Sen. John McCain had declined a meeting with Billy Graham dominated the Christian blogosphere Monday. It sent McCain staffers scurrying to deny the rumor and insist they've been working behind the scenes to set up such a meeting with the Charlotte-born evangelist. But spokesmen for Graham and his son, Franklin, insist neither of the evangelists have initiated a McCain sit-down or have talked with McCain staffers about holding one. The chain of events began Sunday night with a startling online headline: "McCain Campaign Declines to Meet with Billy Graham," read the headline atop a story on Newsmax.com, a conservative site that claims to report news.

Plane bursts into flames in Sudan: A Sudanese Airbus carrying 214 people veered off the runway in a thunderstorm and burst into flames late Tuesday, killing dozens unable to escape the inferno. Officials said more than 100 people fled the plane before it was engulfed by towering orange flames. The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that 103 passengers and all 11 crew members survived. But it said some other passengers may have gone home directly from the crash on the rain-soaked runway after crew members helped them through the emergency doors. The death toll wasn't immediately clear. Reports right after the crash said about 100 were killed, but officials later put the toll at dozens without being more precise. Deputy parliament speaker Mohammed al-Hassan al-Ameen said ''about 30 people'' died, while police spokesman Mohammed Abdel Majid al-Tayeb said 23 bodies were brought to the morgue.

A Shift in Real Estate Books A few years ago, when the housing market was white-hot, companies that publish how-to books were tripping over themselves to pump out titles about buying property and making money in the real estate business. Now that the bottom has fallen out of the housing market, the opposite is true: publishers are updating their backlist titles as well as rushing out newly acquired manuscripts to advise consumers who may have stumbled in the housing game. These two covers tell the story: From "Flipping Houses" to "Foreclosure Investing" in just a couple of years. And, yes, both books are by the same authors.

Yeah, but it's not like anyone is going to do something about it The U.S. government has photographic evidence that a Guantanamo Bay inmate was tortured with a knife after being taken to Morocco by U.S. forces, a British human rights group said Tuesday. Reprieve said their client, Binyam Mohamed, had his genitals slashed repeatedly with a doctor's scalpel while in custody in Morocco after he was flown there from Pakistan by American officials in 2002. It also said his U.S. captors later took pictures of the abuse to show authorities that his wounds were healing. Mohamed, an Ethiopian national and former British resident, is charged by the United States with plotting with al Qaeda to bomb American apartment buildings. Reprieve maintains the charge is based on information coerced from Mohamed using torture. Reprieve quoted Mohamed as saying that an American female photographed his wounds before he boarded a plane in the Moroccan city of Rabat on the night of Jan. 21, 2004. Were those pictures destroyed? Will we ever know?

What would you pay? Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones are offering Internet viewers the lurid details of encounters they claim they had with former President Bill Clinton - for $1.99 a pop. The women, who gained notoriety in the early 1990s, have created a Web site offering videos of their thoughts on Clinton, his wife Hillary and other matters. Each video segment is available for $1.99. "It's a way we can get our story out there in our own words, without someone making their own interpretations or corrections," Jones said. During the 1992 presidential race, Flowers claimed to have had a 12-year affair with then-candidate and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. Clinton initially denied the allegation, but later, during his deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, acknowledged a single sexual encounter with Flowers. Jones accused Clinton of sexual harassment, saying he made an unwelcome sexual advance in 1991 in a Little Rock hotel room while he was Arkansas governor and she was a state employee. Her lawsuit set in motion the events that led to the impeachment of Clinton. More like the last gasp of two pathetic idiots who pissed away the money they got the first time they extorted it, but oh well. Kinda cool that they are going to see the bottom drop out of their scheme now that Hillary is out of the race, isn't it?

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