Monday, March 3, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap (and open thread)

Medvedev has been declared the winner of the Russian sham election. He intends to work in an "effective tandem" with Putin as prime minister. Isn't that nice? I think that's just precious. Of course, Willie Tyler & Lester were an "effective tandem," too.

I don't think I can snark on this...Tensions between Ecuador and Colombia are about to boil over. Colombia claims that documents found in a crossborder raid tie Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa to the FARC terrorist/rebels who have waged war against Colombias government for decades. Correa responded by calling the raid a "massacre" that slaughtered civilians, and recalled the ambassador. I don't like the idea of all-out jungle warfare in Latin America. But I remember the 80's and the refugees streaming in to this country from war-torn Central American countries. Oh - and there is the fact that we have American military personnel there to help prop up the Colombian government, and have for years - and I mean years. Isn't that just what we need though? A hattrick of shooting wars!

Schisms abound in Iraqi society and they are being highlighted vividly by the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iraq. It is the first such visit since the fall of the Shah. The visit provided the spark for protests and demonstrations that broke out along ethnic lines. In Sunni Fallujah, they protested the visit and denounced him as a killer of Iraqi children. At a state reception hosted by Iraqs Kurdish president, Iraq's Sunni vice president showed up late. On the other hand, the ruling Shiite elite, many of whom fled from Saddam Hussein's Iraq and took refuge in Iran welcomed him warmly. In a joint press conference, Ahmadinejad stated that Iraqi's don't like Americans and Maliki did not utter a syllable of denial. Americans stayed the hell away.

Booming Asian economies are decimating turtle populations in the United States Turtle meat is a traditional food in many Asian countries, and as more and more people prospered and were able to afford to purchase it, hunting decimated Asian populations until they were endangered. They looked to the United States and began buying up all the turtle meat they could. Now populations are decimated here.

It's a start...And since it's happening in Illinois, it has a prayer of success. Illinois has a tough, mandatory sentencing law that has sent 103 Illinoisans to prison for life, for crimes committed as juveniles. If the legislation currently being backed by a coalition of human rights organizations, defense lawyers and legislators, those 103 inmates will have their cases and sentences reviewed. Remember that Illinois is the state that ceased all executions when it was revealed that the system was fraught with errors and several death row inmates were exonerated by DNA. (The courageous vote will not be "present.")

I have decided that Wall Street exists in an alternate universe. Municipal bonds are just about the safest investment instrument out there. The bonds are usually tax free and far safer than bonds issued by businesses. Cities and states rarely default on their debts. The bonds are backed by the local tax base, and are generally issued for civic improvements that cause the tax base to grow. So why does Wall Street follow a convoluted rating scheme (scheme being the operative word) to set prices that makes borrowing by state and local governments needlessly expensive? Wither Wall Street is in an alternate universe, or it has a secret clause in the mission statement about screwing taxpayers at every opportunity.

I know it's kinda puny, but that's all for tonight, back tomorrow to do it again. I have a feeling that tomorrow is gonna be a roller-coaster. Feel free to leave your most over-the-top predictions for Monday news events in comment.

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