Right wing commentary on world politics from a man on a mission to prove that Conservatism transcends national boundaries. Thoughtful comments from people of all political persuasions are welcome and encouraged. Contact the blogger at elephantman.conservaglobe@gmail.com.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Brief thoughts on Katrina

The primary reason that I have not been posting lately is that, like most of America, I have been too busy watching my television in horror as Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. This is a political blog, and Katrina was not a political story. I figured that my best course of action would be to respectfully shut my trap and leave the coverage to the professionals in the media, who could do a much better job of showing you what was going on than I ever could. However, there are a few things that I want to say; partially because I don't want to seem oblivious by not posting on the subject at all, and partially because I am disgusted by some of things I have heard since Katrina hit. So here is my brief opinion:

This is a time to band together and help our brothers and sisters in need, not a time for making political hay. We can talk about global warming, preserving the wetlands, and saving the whales at a later date. Right now, we need to concentrate on helping people whose lives have been shattered. I DO NOT CARE whether this is the result of increased CO2 levels; I DO NOT CARE about the Kyoto Protocol; and I DO NOT CARE about whether or not we leave wetlands undeveloped. What I care about is whether or not people in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are receiving food, water, and shelter. So, to the radical environmentalists who see this as a golden opportunity to crusade for their cause, I say this: Show a little respect for all of the people who lost their homes (if not their lives) in this storm and do not use their loss for your political gain. We can talk about the political issues AFTER we are sure that all of Katrina's victims are safe, warm, and fed.


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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ethiopian Gov't blames Europe for post-election violence.

This is about the most ill-conceived and ludicrous attempt at a cover-up that I have ever heard.

The dictatorial government of Ethiopia claims that European election observers falsely told opposition parties that they had won Ethiopia's recent parliamentary elections in an effort to cause trouble in the East African nation. Due to this diabolical plot, the opposition became furious when the "real" results (a resounding victory for the party of dictator Meles Zenawi) were announced and staged violent protests. The government responded, 40 people ended up dead, and all of the blame rests with the Europeans.

Now, let me suggest an alternative explanation for the post-election carnage: Zenawi had the vote rigged, the European observers called a spade a spade, the people of Ethiopia realized that they'd been lied to and staged protests demanding a REAL election. Personally, I think that this explanation makes more sense, what about you?

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Venezuelan protesters demand electoral reform.

See, the people of Venezuela don't need any help from CIA assassins. Hundreds of protesters marched in Caracas today demanding that all of the members of the National Election Council be replaced with individuals who are not biased toward the current regime before parliamentary elections in December.

Venezuela is starting to realize that Hugo Chavez is not defending his country's democracy, but tearing it apart piece by piece. I believe that more and more Venezuelans will join the cause, and that the people will remove Mr. Chavez without any need for U.S. help

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Thoughts on the Iraqi Constitution.

I was really hoping that the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds could all agree on a constitution. However, I think that today's decision to stop negotiating and put the constitution up to a nationwide vote is not only neccessary, but also long overdue. Personally, I think that the conduct of Sunni negotiators over the last few days has been deplorable. They were offered compromises, but decided that they would accept nothing other than a constitution written their way and on their terms.

One of the main sticking points was Federalism. The Shiites and Kurds wanted some power devolved to the various provinces, allowing their ethnic groups some measure of self-determination. The Sunnis, on the other hand, wanted the national government to hold all power. The reason for this was that there is not a whole lot of oil in the Sunni Triangle, and they thought that the other ethnic groups wouldn't let them have any of their oil money. Personally, I don't think that this idea holds a lot of water; federalism would also include a national government which would collect a large portion of Iraqi oil revenue. A lot of this money would probably be spent in Sunni areas. Sunni territory is also very close to Baghdad, where enterprising Sunnis could potentially get good jobs in any number of sectors both related and unrelated to the oil industry.

Is this solution to the constitution problem perfect? No. Does it give Sunnis a fair shake? That remains to be seen. Do I have all the solutions? No. I don't have a clue what went on behind closed doors in Iraq, so I can't even begin to fathom the infinite complexities of this subject. However, I can comment on what I read in the news, and all that I've heard is that Sunni leaders don't want to give up the stranglehold on power that they once enjoyed, and that they aren't terribly comfortable being in the minority. They have realized that democracy does not allow them to have things their way on every issue, so they have resorted to throwing a temper-tantrum in the vain hope that they will get what they want if they just scream loud enough. Sunni negotiators need to shift their focus to ensuring that the constitution gives Sunnis the same rights and protections as other groups, not protecting thier own power at the expense of the rest of Iraq.

Disclaimer: My remarks pertained only to the Sunni LEADERS who are helping draft the constitution, they are not meant as generalizations about the entire Sunni population of Iraq.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Coup in Myanmar?


Rumors have been circulating for several hours that Myanmar dictator Gen. Than Shwe has been deposed by his second-in-command, Gen. Maung Aye. I'll try to keep tabs on this, but the government of Myanmar is rather secretive and it could be a wile before I find out anything.

This is probably not a very major development. Maung Aye is a member of the ruling junta (military council), and the artile that I read says that he was backed by five other junta members. Than Shwe was percieved as consolidating power for himself, which is a big no-no in a junta-style government (the generals are supposed to share power amongst themselves). What probably went down is this: Than Shwe wanted all the power for himself, the other genrerals didn't like that, so they got rid of him in order to return to the status quo.

I'll do my best to keep you updated on this situation.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I don't like Chavez either, Pat, but...

Televangelist Pat Robertson suggested in a radio interview that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated by U.S. intelligence operatives, saying "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator...It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

While I would contend Chavez's removal would be a good thing for both the U.S. and the people of Venezuela, I think that Mr. Robertson is dead wrong (pardon the pun) when it comes to methodology. Assassinating Chavez would only make the situation worse. There would be a sudden spike in anti-American sentiment in Latin America, and we would have a huge diplomatic mess on our hands. Chavez has a lot of support from the presidents of Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay (and possibly a few other countries). He would also become a martyr to the Socialist Left in both Latin America and the U.S., to whom he is already an iconic figure (read Communist Party USA's newspaper "People's Weekly World" and you will see that they LOVE Hugo Chavez).

Now, let me offer an alternative to Robertson's solution. U.S. intelligence agents should work closely with the Venezuelan opposition, which has been suppressed under Chavez, in order to foment anti-Chavez opinion among the people. Chavez is becoming a dictator, and I believe that the Venezuelan people will rise up and overthrow him once they realize it. U.S. diplomatic representatives in Venezuela should also be very vocal, calling on Chavez to end his crackdown on the opposition and sever his ties with repressive dictator Fidel Castro. If we take these steps, we would heighten the possibility of a non-violent "people-power" revolution similar to the recent "color revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. This method a take a little longer, but it won't create a backlash.

Hugo Chavez is dangerous. If he does become Castro Part 2, I would even be open to forcibly removing him (not using U.S. troops, but by arming the Venezuelan opposition). However, I think that the best way to get Chavez out of office BEFORE he becomes another Castro is to use our intelligence and diplomatic forces to convince the people of Venezuela to take care of their own problem.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Foot-in-Mouth disease strikes Nebraska senator.

Senator, and prospective presidential candidate, Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) used and interview on Sunday's edition of ABC's "This Week" to reveal his true position regarding the war in Iraq: "I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur." He also said, "by any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... We're not winning," and compared Iraq to Vietnam.

This type of defeatist rhetoric is usually reserved for far-leftists like Howard Dean and John Kerry, and it has no basis in reality. First off, Senator, almost every major war in the history of the United States has taken well over 2 1/2 years. Imagine what would have happened if we had just packed up and left Europe to fend for itself in 1944, or given up on the Civil War in 1863. Second, I think that our destabilization of the Middle East has been quite a positive development. Our involvement in Iraq has sparked a pro-democracy revolution in Lebanon and played at least some part in Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's decision to allow Egypt's first multi-party election in decades. Stability in the Middle East would mean continued domintation by tin-pot dictatorships and the total lack of religious freedom and human rights. By all means, lets keep destabilizing it!

If Hagel thinks that such rhetoric is his ticket to the Republican nomination in 2008, then he's nuts. This country does not want a president who thinks that America is nothing more than a "destabilizing" force.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Kazakhstan presidential election set for December.


Kazakhstan's constitutional court has set a presidential election for the first Sunday of this December, ruling in favor of the opposition. The government had argued that the election should not take place until next December. The current president/dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been in power for 15 years and has announced that he will be a candidate. Kazakhstan has never had an election which was deemed to be "free and fair" by international observers, and I'm sure that Mr. Nazarbyev will take sufficient (though probably not legal) action to ensure that he is "re-elected".

I get excited whenever a dictator in the Former Soviet Union tries to get himself re-elected, because the last 3 such "elections" have culminated in pro-democracy revolutions. Kazakhstan does have a relatively health opposition. However, the standad of living in Kazakhstan has been improving, which may make the population less likely to participate in a popular uprising.

Revolution in Kazakhstan? Only time will tell.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Gaza Update (9) (Final?)

As of now, 16 of 21 Gaza settlements, including Neve Dekalim and Kfar Darom, have been completely evacuated. While I am not pleased with the disengagement, I can say that I am relieved that the violence was not as great as I had expected.

It looks like this story, or at least this phase of it, is drawing to a close. If there is much activity in the 5 remaining settlements, then I will post "Gaza Update (10)" tomorrow. If not, thanks to everyone who stopped by ConservaGlobe during my coverage (Wednesday was the busiest day in the two-week history of this blog). I hope that you will all continue to stop by when I go back to business as usual. I'd say that it's been fun covering this story, but it hasn't. In fact, it has been rather gut-wrenching to watch Israel drag its own people from their homes as a gift to the Palestinians.

I will end with this: Whether I like it or not, all of Gaza will soon be under Palestinian control. Israel has bowed to the wishes of the Palestinians, and now it is time for the Palestinians to start offering their own concessions. One of the big problems in the peace process is that the PLO, and now the Palestinian Authority, have always demanded that they be given everything they want without giving up anything, that is not a true negotiation. It is now incumbent on the Palestinians to stop making demands and start NEGOTIATING. The Israeli Government has shown that it is willing to take painful losses for the cause of peace, and I am going to be royally torqued off if the Palestinians do not return the favor.

I express my deepest sympathy to all of the settlers who lost their homes in this atrocity. While your homes and lives in Gaza can never be replaced, I pray that you will be able to find contentment and shalom (peace) in this next chapter of your lives.

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Hamas to reward pullout with more violence!

From IsraelNN.com via Israpundit:

Hamas: 'Calm' to End December 31 17:46 Aug 18, '05 / 13 Av 5765

(IsraelNN.com) Hamas terrorist leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said Thursday that the period of 'calm' will end at the end of the calendar year because Israel has not lived up to "any commitment to any cease-fire agreement."

He accused Israel of not living up to agreements to release Arab prisoners and jailed terrorists and stop killing terrorist leaders. He did not comment on terrorist attacks and attempted attacks by terrorists against Israel since the calm was announced in February.

ElephantMan's Thoughts: First off, the Israeli Government seems to be bending over backwards in order keep a cease fire in place, going so far as to uproot its own citizens from their homes.

Second, this is exactly what I said would happen! Hamas and other terrorist groups are emboldened by this pullout. It shows them that terrorist attacks are an effective way to drive out Israelis. They are now sure that what worked in Gaza will work in the rest of Israel. If the pullout causes any change in the amount of terrorism in Israel, it will be an increase and not a decrease.

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Gaza Update (8)

Soldiers have now stormed the synagogue in Kfar Darom, and a water cannon is being used on rooftop protesters. In order to remove the protestors, wire cages are being lifted onto the synagogue roof using a crane. Soldiers who have already reached the roof are being pelted with paint, sand, and oil. Haaretz also reports that soldiers are attempting to cut through the barbed wire around the synagogue roof.

I'll try to keep up with the situation as it develops, I'm worried that the confrontation in Kfar Darom could get really ugly.

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Gaza Update (7)

Security forces have stormed the synagogue in Neve Dekalim after negotiations with settlement leaders broke down. However, evacuating the synagogue will be a chore due to the fact that a significant portion of the 1,500 protesters inside are lying on the floor with their arms and legs locked together. The IDF did show a little respect by sending only unarmed soldiers into the synagogue.

In Kfar Darom, an IDF soldier refused to evacuate settlers inside a synagogue and put on his tefillin instead. He has been arrested. Many settlers in Kfar Darom have left the synagogue and gone to their homes, leaving only activists from outside Gaza in the building.

One last thing, the Haaretz news service has taken to using the term "illegal infiltrators" for anyone protesting in Gaza who doesn't live there. While this term is technically correct, it portrays pro-settler activists as evil. Why not find a neutral term?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Gaza Update (6)

According to Haaretz, Israeli forces have kicked off their second day of forced evacuation by rolling into the settlement of Kfar Darom. The situation there is very similar to Neve Dekalim, with hundreds of settlers holed up in the settlement's synagogue. Kfar Darom has taken the additional step of fortifying the roof of their synagogue with razor wire.

Meanwhile, it appears that the synagogue in Neve Dekalim will be stormed sometime some time Thursday.

So, now the IDF has two synagogues full of settlers to deal with.

More in the morning, Good night.

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A really good article on Gaza

The best I've read on the Gaza situation so far

From "Jerusalem Newswire". click here.

Sloppy journalism on Gaza

I happened to hear a CBS Radio news report today (1:00 PM Mountain time), and I couldn't believe the spin that they put on this thing.

The report began, "Before 1967, all of the land in Gaza belonged to the Palestinians. Soon, it will again." Putting aside the obvious bias in this statement, let us examine its factuality (or lack thereof). The land in Gaza has never belonged to the Palestinians. Before 1967, the Gaza Strip belonged to Egypt, which took it as a consolation prize for losing the Israeli war of independence in 1948 (the same time Jordan occupied the West Bank). The land was to be used for a Palestinian state, but Egypt and Jordan (not Israel) decided not to allow that and take the land for themselves. Before that, Gaza belonged to the British. Before that, the area was under the control of the following groups, starting with the most recent: the Ottoman Turks, the Egyptian Mamelukes, Saladin's forces, the Crusaders, the Seljuk Turks, the Islamic Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Roman Empire (Thanks to World Book Encyclopedia for that chronology). I could go back farther, but that would be pointless as I have already far enough back to predate the inception of both the Islamic religion an the term "Palestine".

My point is this: There has never been a self-governed Arab state in the Holy land. In fact the use of the term "Palestinian" to describe the Arabs of the region only goes back to the 1940s. Before that, there was no such thing as a Palestinian (or a Jordanian, for that matter), there were only Syrian Arabs.

So, CBS Radio News, it that a sufficiently adequate fact check?

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Gaza Update (5)

Good News: The police have not yet stormed the synagogue in Neve Dekalim, though a special police unit has surrounded the building in preparation. The IDF is still negotiating with the settlements leaders, so they have postponed the operation at the synagogue until Thursday.

Bad News: Jews are still being drug out of their homes, synagogues, and nursery schools all over Gaza by their own government!

BAD News: A Jewish settler in the West Bank grabbed a security guard's gun and killed three Palestinians. Just what we need, another excuse to demonize settlers! (note obvious sarcasm)

Bizarre News: Orthodox settlers holed up in the bomb-shelter of a girls school in Neve Dekalim have demanded that the soldiers coming to evacuate them put on tefillin (Jewish prayer phylacteries). Putting aside the slight physical constraints that tefillin present (It involves wrapping your arm VERY tightly with a leather strap) this is a brilliant move in that it reminds the IDF that they are standing before their creator; and that they should take a moment to consider G-d's thoughts, not just Sharon's. Now that shows some chutzpah.

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Gaza Update (4)

The settlement of Neve Dekalim is still holding out, but the IDF is trying to negotiate a settlement in which the protesters will leave by 4:00 PM Wednesday (9:oo AM Eastern Time, meaning that is is 4:00 in Israel now).

From what I have read, the IDF has not yet entered the Neve Dekalim synagogue yet. However, they have entered synagogues in two other settlements, so I expect that they will do the same in Neve Dekalim if necessary. The rest of Neve Dekalim is being forcibly evacuated at this time, Haaretz says that there is "violent resistance", but the IDF is allowing the settlers to meet for a prayer service at the synagogue before they are evacuated.

Two settlements, Kerem Atzmona and Tel Katifa, have already been completely evacuated.

The one peice of good news is that it seems that very few people have been seriously hurt. I read that one protester set herself on fire and suffered some pretty bad burns and that a protester in Morag had stabbed an IDF soldier with an IV needle, but that's about the extent of it.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gaza Update (3)

Just checked Haaretz, the protesters blocking the convoy have been cleared from road and the convoy is headed into the Gaza Strip. NOW I am going to bed.

Good night.

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Gaza Update (2)

A convoy of about 100 military vehicles heading to Gaza to remove settlers has been held up by a group of 50 protesters blocking the road. At present, the police are busy dragging the protesters from the pavement.

Meanwhile, several hundred settlers and activists are still barricaded inside the synagogue at the large settlement of Neve Dekalim. The Israeli Defense Force says that it is confident that Neve Dekalim can be emptied in as little as 24 hours.

Unfortunately, I have to abandon my coverage for the night in order to be rested for work in the morning. Unless I can't sleep or wake up in the middle of the night, you can expect another update when I wake up (sometime between 6:00 and 7:30 AM Mountain Daylight Time). If you want live play-by play between now and then, I would suggest you visit an Israeli news outlet such as Haaretz or the Jerusalem Post.

Good night, pleasant dreams, and please pray for the settlers in Gaza.

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Update: Settlers barricaded in synagogue

According to Haaretz, several hundred settlers in Neve Dekalim have barricaded themselves in the settlement's synagogue. So, how far will the IDF go in order to carry out the eviction? They had been giving special consideration to synagogues, considering moving them instead of leveling them. Will they storm a house of G-d?

Also, you may remember that the IDF said that they wouldn't use force until morning, Well, it is now 5:00 AM in Israel. Stay tuned.

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Gaza Update (1)

Sorry for not updating sooner, but a thunderstorm shut down my computer as I was writing a post. So, now that the storm is over, here's the latest.

At least a thousand Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers have flooded into Neve Dekalim and taken up positions as of now (with more on the way). Apparently they don't intend to use violence until morning (5:00 AM in Israel = 10:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time = 7:00 Pacific Daylight Time). I believe that Neve Dekalim is the largest settlement in Gaza. Haaretz news says that about 830 out of 1,700 families had left the settlement, and the blog Israel Reporter says that there are about 7,000 settlers and activists hunkered down. I heard on the radio (I believe it was CBS radio news) that the IDF wants to use Neve Dekalim as an example, intimidating smaller settlements by emptying the biggest one first.

If you want more on this story, here are a few links to my news sources

Pro-settler blogs: Israpundit, Israel Reporter (be sure to visit this one!)
Israeli mainstream media (in English): Haaretz, Jerusalem Post

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Zero hour in Gaza

It is midnight Wednesday in Gaza, which means that the yogurt has officially hit the fan. I hope to be able to provide regular updates (with opinionated commentary) as the situation develops. I hope to be glued to the news (and the computer) for the next few hours, so stay tuned.

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Quick thoughts on Gaza


Pulling out of Gaza will not stop a single terrorist attack. Instead this will INCREASE terrorism in Israel. I know that Ariel Sharon is trying to send the message that he wants peace and is willing to negotiate, but I think that he is actually sending a different message to Hamas and company: If you kill enough of our people, then we'll give in to your demands. Hamas will then increase their bloody campaign of terror, because now they have evidence that their strategy works! Hamas and, to a lesser extent, the Palestinian Authority both have as their goal the total, utter and complete destruction of Israel. If you don't believe me, then I suggest you read the PLO charter, which has NOT been purged of anti-Israel rhetoric as demanded by the Oslo Accords. By leaving Gaza, Israel has given the terrorists hope that they can eventually remove Jews from the entirety of Israel. This is not fair to settlers, it is not fair to Israel, and it is not fair to the Palestinians in Gaza who will lose their jobs and be subjected to a new wave of anti-Israel propaganda as a result of this pullout.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Good news from Aceh

Well, I plan on spending tomorrow keeping tabs on the Gaza sell...I mean pullout (Sorry, Freudian slip), so I figured I'd blog on some good news to break up the monotony .

Rebels in the Indonesian province of Aceh have signed a peace deal with the Indonesian Government. The rebel "Free Aceh Movement" has dropped its demand for independence. In return the government will give greater autonomy to Aceh; allowing the province to pass its own laws, adopt its own flag, and collect 70 percent of the oil revenue generated in the province. This deal provides well-earned relief to the people of Aceh, who have endured a bloody rebellion and took the hardest hit from the tsunami in December (130,000 dead).

So, if you were feeling glum about the current state of the world, here is your dose of good news. Always remember that, no matter how bad it gets, something good has to be going on somewhere.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Just something I read (seemed to fit the situation in Gaza)

"Alas! Lonely sits the city once great with people. She that was great among nations is become like a widow; the princess among states is become a thrall. Bitterly she weeps in the night, her cheek wet with tears. There is none to comfort her of all her friends. All of her allies have betrayed her; they have become her foes."
-Eikhah (Lamentations) 1:1-2


Gaza pullout officially underway

I won't post much on this right now because I want to wait to wait for more developments (and I have about three loads of laundry that need folded in a basket on my couch). However, I want to recognize this historic (and, from my point of view, tragic) moment. So, in lieu of my usual long-winded rantings, I will repeat the slogan that is becoming a rallying cry in the Holy Land:



Friday, August 12, 2005

State of emergency declared in Sri Lanka.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga has declared a nationwide state of emergency after the slaying of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. The military has taken up positions at major itersections in Colombo and is checking all vehicles entering and leaving the capital city.

According to the Sri Lankan Military, the rebel/terrorist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is the primary suspect in the assasination. I checked the LTTE's section in the U.S. Department of State's 2001 report "Patterns of Global Terrorism" and this assassination has all the trademarks of an LTTE operation: "The Tigers have integregarted a battefeild insurgent strategy with a terrorist program that targets not only key personnell in the countryside but also senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders in Colombo and other urban areas...political assassinations and bombings are commonplace."

This murder will almost certainly end the ceasefire between the LTTE and the government, and I think the LTTE wanted it that way. To me, this whole situation just goes to show that terrorists are never really satisfied with peace.

"This senseless murder was a vicious act of terror, which the United States strongly condemns. Those responsible must be brought to justice."
- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice

Sri Lanka foreign minister assassinated.

Sri Lanka's foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, has been shot and killed outside his home in the capital, Colombo. Kadirgamar is very important in that he is a member of Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority. As of now, The media has not reported on any suspects or claims of responsibility.

The big question right now is whether or not this shooting was the work of the rebel group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). There is currently a cease fire between the government and the LTTE, which wants an autonomous Tamil state in Northern Sri Lanka. However, I don't think it will hold for very long if the LTTE is found to be responsible for this murder.

Drudge Report: Cindy Sheehan denounced by family.

The family of , mother of a slain soldier and leader of a massive anti-war protest outside President Bush's ranch, has sent a statement to the Drudge Report denouncing her actions and expressing support for the President. (Click here to read Drudge's report)

I don't want to misconstrue anything said in the statement, so I will only make one brief comment on this. The American Left seems to think that Cindy Sheehan represents large numbers of military families, and once again they are wrong. This report proves that the only person that Cindy Sheehan represents is Cindy Sheehan.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

German magazine obsesses over conservative candidate's armpit!

I guess talking about the issues just isn't exciting enough for the German news magazine "Der Speigel" (which appears to be their version of "Time" or "Newsweek"). Instead, the magazine's website spent a considerable amount of time concentrating on an the armpit of Christian Democrat party leader .

It was discovered that Bavarian Broadcasting had doctored a photograph in order to hide a spot of sweat on the armpit of Merkel's dress. Big whoop! Photos are altered for similar reasons all the time, its called common courtesty; and, contrary to popular opinion, conservatives are just entitled to such courtesy as liberals.

Personally, I think that Der Speigel is desperate. Polls have shown that Merkel is going to pulverize their man Schroeder in next month's general election. She must really be making THEM sweat for them to resort to such petty tactics.

(More on this story can be found on the German blog Davids Medienkritik)

NARAL aborts anti-Roberts ad campaign.

According to Fox News, has withdrawn its attack ads against . NARAL president Nancy Keenan said, "Unfortunately, the debate over that advertisement has become a distraction from the serious discussion we hoped to have with the American public." She also said that she was upset that people had "misconstrued" the ads.

Frankly, Ms. Keenan, the problem was not that people misinterpreted your ads. The problem was that the ad itself was purposefully misleading. The ad totally misrepresented the facts in the case of Bray v. Alexandria Womens Health Clinic. Instead of mentioning anything about the Ku Klux Klan Act being used to arrest pro-lifers (which was the entire point of Bray), NARAL tried to hoodwink the public into beleiving that John Roberts was arguing in favor of a clinic bombing which did not take place until five years after the case!

It was the facts that were "misconstrued", not the ads.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

NARAL v. Roberts

As you may know, the pro-abortion group has put out a rather vicious television ad attacking U.S. Supreme Court nominee . At one point, the ad says, "John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber." The ad was referring to the 1993 case Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic. NARAL would have us believe that Roberts somehow condoned the bombing of abortion clinics by his involvement in the case. However, I did a little research on the case, and this is actually not the case.

Bray v. AWHC was not about whether or not abortion clinic bombings are justified. Rather, it had to do with the law which was being cited in order to take violent anti-abortion activists into custody, the Ku Klux Klan Act. Abortion advocates argued that the protestors were discriminatory and that they could therefore be taken into custody under a law designed to deal with racism.

According to their website, NARAL believes that the KKK Act is a viable "legal weapon" that can be used against violent protestors. I believe that this is a naive statement. Using the KKK Act against pro-lifers is like trying to perform a tonsilectamy with a meat cleaver. Sure, you'll get the tonsils out, but using such a large and inappropriate tool will also cause a lot of damage.

Judge Roberts rightly realized that this case had repercussions that went far beyond a gang of wackos trying to blow up clinics. Had the court ruled that the KKK Act was an acceptable justification for arresting protestors, it would have officially declared an anti-abortion political stance to be the same as white supremacism in the eyes of the U.S. Government. This would have given future courts a precedent to indiscriminately declare political beliefs to be racist and criminal. Imagine how many abuses could be made possible by such a precedent!

John Roberts had the common sense to realize that the problem of abortion clinic bombing should be handled with a surgeon's scalpel (laws against trespassing and harassment), not the cleaver of the KKK Act. Grotesque analogies aside, I think that Judge Roberts' work on Bray v. AWHC showed the same thoughtful approach to the law that led President Bush to appoint him to the nation's highest court.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Azerbaijan Update: War of the Carnations

Now, THIS is intriguing. Both pro-government and opposition forces staged demonstrations outside of the opposition National Front Party's headquarters in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku today. The opposition was obviously protesting the arrest of youth activist Ruslan Bashirli. On the other hand, the supporters of the current regime were incensed over Bashirli's alleged connection to Armenia (Armenia and Azerbaijan don't really get along. If you really want the whole story, look up one of the two countries on Wikipedia). The protest were getting ugly, with both sides throwing bottles and rocks. In an attempt to make peace, a few old ladies on the opposition side offered bouquets of carnations to some of the women on the pro-government side. The gift was not accepted and the two groups of women ended up beating on each other with the bouquets of flowers and throwing eggs at one another.

So, the yogurt has hit the fan in Azerbaijan. My guess is that it will only get more interesting as we get closer to the coming elections.

If you want more on this story, the Armenian blog Blogrel has had pretty good coverage. I'm also going to try to find some good Azerbaijani blogs to link to.

Georgia had the "Rose Revolution", will Azerbaijan have a "Carnation Revolution"?

PM Koizumi shocks Japan, calls for elections.

I know this story is more than a day old, but I found it interesting enough to warrant a post.

Japan's Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has called an early election (he still has two years left in his term). He made the decision after 30 legislators from his Liberal Democratic Party broke ranks and helped defeat his prized postal reform legislation, which would have made Japan's postal system a private sector industry.

Today, the Prime Minister annouced that those legislators who voted agianst the reform would be barred from running as LDP candidates in the coming election. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper quoted Mr. Koizumi as saying "I will crush the old LDP and create a new one. I will not join hands with the old LDP," and the Mainichi Shimbun featured the quote "I will be merciless. I will decide (candidates) depending only on whether they are against or for the plan to privatize the postal system."

ANALYSIS: This could create a bad situation for conservatism in Japan. The Liberal Democratic Party is generally considered to the conservative party in Japanese politics, and it looks like it's going to splinter. The LDP members who voted against postal reform will probably form a second conservative party, splitting the vote. This could potentially set up a situation where the opposition Democratic Party, which is socialist in ideology, could take over the Government. On the bright side, Koizumi's approval rating shot up five points to 47.3% in the latest Kyodo News poll, so he could come out of this stronger than ever.

The LDP is not a member of the International Democrat Union, so I will have to do some research to see just how "conservative" it is (or is not). I cannot say right now which side I would support in the event of an LDP split, because I am not particularly familiar with Japanese politics. I will probably post more as the election nears, it has been scheduled for Sep. 11, 2005.

Prime Minister with President Bush

Sunday, August 07, 2005

In Memoriam: Peter Jennings

I am on the right side of the political spectrum, and I had my disagreements with ABC anchor Peter Jennings. However, Mr. Jennings did a lot to cement my interest in world politics. I have been addicted to current events for a long time; and when I was about ten, I was glued to "World News Tonight" every night. I didn't pick Jennings for any particular reason other than that my tube was tuned to ABC when I decided that I needed to start watching the news, but for some reason I could never switch to Brokaw or Rather. I have since stopped watching network news, and I haven't seen "World News Tonight" in years. However, I do credit Peter Jennings for contributing to my obsession with the news. You could even say that, in some convoluted way, this blog is the result of Peter Jennings' work.

Peter, we disagreed on a lot of things. But tonight I will put that aside to salute all of the good things you did for me and for everyone else who wanted to know what was going on in the world.

My two ce...uh... shekels on Netanyahu, Gaza, and Israel in general.

I've been thinking a lot about how exactly to broach the subject of in this blog for a while. I'll even admit to avoiding it (which should come as a surprise to anyone who knows me personally), because it's so easy to offend people. However, I couldn't resist the urge to comment on Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's resignation from Ariel Sharon's cabinet. I've decided to admit that I am a big-time Zionist. If that offends you, then it's your problem, not mine.

This morning, Bibi resigned as Israel's Finance Minister as a last-second protest to the Gaza pullout. I think he did the right thing, Sharon is selling out. The pullout may placate the international community, but it will not make a single Israeli any safer. Terrorist organizations like Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (which is the military wing of Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party) will not halt their murderous campaign until they wipe Israel off the planet (which will never happen). I am not totally opposed to negotiating with the Palestinians. However, I would prefer that they negoitiate instead of just demanding concessions!

Example: Mahmoud Abbas and company want Israel to pull all Jewish settlers from Gaza (and we all know that they're going to want them out of the West Bank next). However, they also demand that thousands of Palestinians whose mothers and fathers fled Israel back in the 1940s and 50s be allowed to return and settle in Israel. Am I the only one who sees a double standard here?! They want all of the settlers pack up abandon their lives in the Palestinian Territories, but they want to send thousands of Palestinian settlers flooding into Israel!

Until the Palestinians abandon their "right of return" policies, Israel should ensure that every last settler stays in Gaza and the West Bank. When they quit insisting on putting their people on Israeli land, then they can talk about getting Israelis off of thiers.

I greatly respect for having the chutzpah to stand against the forces of appeasement, doing what's right by Israel, and not bowing at the altar of international opinion. I hope he runs for Likud Party leadership at the next election and takes back the Prime Minister's Office.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Government getting paranoid in Azerbaijan?

If you didn't know, there are elections coming up in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. Considering that many recent "elections" in the former USSR have sparked pro-Democracy revolutions (Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan), the government of President Ilham Aliyev is understandably getting a little jittery. However, I think that they have gone a little overboard in making sure that the coming elections produce a favorable result.

Wednesday, youth opposition leader Ruslan Bashirli was taken into custody on charges of planning a coup with the help of the Armenian Secret Service and the US-based National Democratic Institute. Supossedly, a member of Bashirli's Yani Fakir youth movement told the authorities that Bahirli had taken $2000 (US) from Armenian operatives at a secret meeting in neighboring Georgia. Allow me to put this into perspective: either Bahirli works for peanuts or these allegations are nothing but hot air. One would think that the down payment on a full-fledged coup (even if you get the stripped down model without all the optional add-ons) would be just a little more than $2000.

If this wasn't enough, the authorities announced today that will "strengthen control over the activities of political parties ahead of parliamentary elections." Well, so much for the pretense of free and fair elections. The government said that the aim of their new policy was just to keep foreign countries from interfering by funding political parties, but something tells me that ensuring that Aliyev stays in power also had something to do with it.

Anyhow, it will certainly be interesting to see how this story develops. Will there be another pro-Democracy revolution in the former USSR?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

NY Times: How low can they go?

According to the Drudge Report, the New York Times has had an investigative reporter digging through the adoption records of Judge John Roberts' two children, ages 4 & 5. Frankly, that is getting way to personal for my liking. Did they give any thought to the effect on the Roberts family if they find something (which they won't)? They have no right to be rifling through those types of records without cause, and whatever they find would be used for no other purpose then to ruin the lives of both Judge Roberts and his children. John Roberts has more than enough money to conduct a perfectly legal adoption, and I'm sure he knows enough about the law to make sure that nothing fishy was going on during the adoption process. There is simply no evidence to suggest that the Times had any reason at all to look at those documents!

If, as the Times claims, this is all part of a standard background check; then they need to take a serious look at changing their policies. Whether their story is about John G. Roberts or Joe G. Schmo, they have no business prying that deep into someone's private life!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Benevolent dictatorship in Mauritania?

Now this is interesting. The new military regime in Mauritania has said it will instate a full democracy within the next two years and then relinquish its power. A lot of juntas say that they will eventually make way for democracy, but I've never heard a definite time table.

Now, I'm still extremely skeptical. I stand by my previous post, and I really don't think that a lot of progress will be made. But if Mauritania becomes a REAL democracy (which does not include Saddam Hussein style elections, where "vote or die" has a whole new meaning) then I will be very impressed. So, could there possibly be such a thing as a good military junta?

Mauritania Update (plus my opinion)

A military junta has now been set up in the African nation of Mauritania, ousting dictator Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya. The "Military Council for Justice and Democracy" put out a statement saying, "The armed forces and security forces have unanimously decided to put a definitive end to the totalitarian activities of the defunct regime under which our people have suffered so much over recent years," and "This council pledges before the Mauritanian people to create favorable circumstances for an open and transparent democracy." Apparently, most Mauritanians are overjoyed at the news of Taya's removal, and they are celebrating in the streets of the capital, Nouakchott.

This is the part where I rain on their parade. I think that the removal of a dictator is a good thing, and I don't blame the people in Nouakchott for celbrating his ouster. However, the replacement of a dictatorial regime with another dictatorial regime is NOT a good development. Military coups are usually justified on the grounds that the armed forces saw something wrong in the country, seized power as saviors of the nation, and say a democracy will eventually be established once they get the situation under control. IT'S BUNK! Military juntas usually do not like to give up their power to civilians, they don't trust civilians. Instead they usually tend to think that their entire country should be run like the military, meaning that the government give the orders, and anyone who doesn't follow them is punished severely. The country will then become a full-fledged police state, or more accurately a "barracks state" (since the nation is run as if it were a giant military base.)

If this "Council for Justice and Democracy" does actually bring democracy to Mauritania, then I applaud them. However, If they behave like most other juntas, they will do nothing of the sort. While they're at it, they will probably abandon Taya's support for Israel, America, and the rest of the democratic world. In short, they will probably make life hell for Mauritanians and be a real pain in the rear-end to rest of the world. I don't think the celebration in Nouakchott will last much longer.

Possible coup in Mauritania

Military officers have blocked raodways and taken over state radio and TV in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott. Mauritania is especially important in that it is one of the few Muslim nations that has diplomatic ties with Irael. In fact, this coup may have something to do with anger over President Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya's pro-American, Pro-Isreal policy, which he adopted after abandoning his support for Saddam Hussein in the 1990's. Taya was out of the country attending King Fahd's funeral.

While Taya is an ally in the war on terror, he is himself a dictator who seized power in a 1984 coup. He has cracked down hard on terror, but he has also been accused of opressing legitimate opposition groups, labeling thenm terorists.

It is unclear at this time what exactly is goin on in Nouakchott, and it is unknown whether the coup has suceeded or failed. I will post more later, once I know the details of the situation.

Monday, August 01, 2005

John Bolton can finally go to work!

Today, many Democrats are angry that Bush went over their heads and installed John Bolton at the U.N. However, I would like to remind them that the President wouldn't have needed to do this if they had played fair! There is no justification for forcing the United States to function for five months with no reresentative at the worlds foremost intergovernmental organization.

My favorite quote on the Bolton debacle was from Senator Chris Dodd, who said that Bolton would be going to the U.N. "without the confidence of Congress." Funny, I thought the entire reason for the filibuster was that Bolton had enough votes to win conformation! The term "Congress" is not synonymous with the term "Democratic Party", and I wish the left wing would stop acting as if it is. "Congress" consists mostly of Republicans who do have confidence in Mr. Bolton, and the Democrats need to learn to deal with that fact.

My two cents on Garang.

There are a lot of news stories to talk about right now; but I have to go to work, so John Bolton and King Fahd will have to wait until my lunchbreak. I figured I'd post on Garang since I promised to do so last night.

My personal opinion is that there probably was not much foul play involved in Garang's death, the weather was bad an his helicopter had already aborted one landing due to the conditions. If there was any foul play involved (which is certainly a possibility) I would guess that the Sudanese Government had nothin to do with it. I have a lot of issues with President Omar al-Bashir, but I don't think he would be stupid enough to whack a strategic partner whose help he needed to hold the country together. However, there are plenty of people who could benefit from an unstable Sudanese Government: Islamic militants who would prefer that Muslims keep their dominance in the government, rebel groups in Darfur who would prefer that the government be distracted, or rogue elements in Southern Sudan who would prefer to secede rather than unite with the government. However, I will reiterate that it was probably bad weather that brought down Garang's helicopter.

However, what actually happened is not quite as important as what people perceive to have happened. The violence has already started in Khartoum and Southern Sudan due to the fact that Southern Sudanese tend not to trust the government which has oppressed them for so long. I really don't blame them for thinking that al-Bashir had Garang executed, that would have been a distinct possibility if this had happened before the peace agreement. Whether Garang was murdered or not is immaterial, what matters is that he is now seen as a martyr for the cause of Southern Sudan. If anyone wanted to destabilize the fragile peace, they have almost certainly succeeded.

Dr. John Garang