"1989: Romania's 'first couple' executed - Deposed Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena have been shot by a firing squad after a secret military tribunal found them both guilty of crimes against the state. They were charged and convicted of genocide and undermining the national economy among a series of other offences, officials said."
Saturday, December 25, 2004
NAJAF, Iraq - The Iraqi police chief in Najaf accused the Syrian government Saturday of involvement in last weekend’s deadly bombing that killed 52 people in the Shiite pilgrimage city. One of three suspects arrested in Najaf immediately after the attack “confessed that Syrian intelligence services had played a role in the blast”, on December 19 that wounded more than 140 people, said General Ghaleb al-Jazairi. “He had lived in Syria where he began to work for the Syrian intelligence” at a camp for Iraqi refugees, he said.
Friday, December 24, 2004
The information and items North Korea provided pertaining to 10 missing Japanese are not credible, the government said Friday, warning Pyongyang faces economic sanctions if it continues its "insincere" attitude over the abductions. "Options could include economic sanctions, although this has not been decided as the first choice," Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura told reporters. Friday's announcement is expected to raise diplomatic tension by another critical notch, as domestic pressure mounts for the government to slap sanctions on North Korea.
That's democracy of culture, and like democracy in the political realm: it only frightens tyrants. As well it should.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
"We were very aware of the fact that it wasn't the Iraqi agenda that motivated our kidnappers, but the internationalist jihadist agenda."
I think that the Beeb and the Kuwati press reports on this matter are less biased than the NYTIMES. Unlike the NYTIMES, they both make it CLEAR that the French hostage now believes that Iraq is now part of the war against Jihadoterrorism.
May I add another: they're the same kind of people who say "Bush is Hitler" and "Zarqawi is an insurgent."
The US is contemplating incursions into Syrian territory in an attempt to kill or capture Iraqi Ba'athists who, it believes, are directing at least part of the attacks against US targets in Iraq, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post. The official said that fresh sanctions are likely to be implemented, but added that the US needs to be more "aggressive" after Tuesday's deadly attack on a US base in Mosul. The comment suggested that the US believes the attack on the mess tent, in which 22 people were killed, may have been coordinated from inside Syrian territory.
How this moribund regulatory agency [Ofheo] - which members of Congress were trying to strip of its powers as recently as last spring - transformed itself into a powerhouse that could force so consummate a politician and businessman as Mr. Raines to back down is a testament, several observers in Washington said, to the perseverance of Mr. Falcon, a soft-spoken and often underestimated 44-year-old lawyer. "This is not a crusader," said Stanley Sporkin, the former head of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission, who has advised Mr. Falcon in recent months. "This is a very, very deliberate, decent, focused person, who once he makes a decision, he carries it out; he does not vacillate. [my emphasis - kinda sounds like our president, doesn't it? ...] Mr. Falcon's future is unclear: his appointment at Ofheo [the oversight agency] expired in October and he has said that he intends only to remain until his successor, who must be nominated by President Bush, is confirmed. But even among some of his critics, Mr. Falcon has now earned a new measure of respect. "He has been powerfully vindicated," Mr. Ely said."
Elections in the Occupied Territories May be the Beginning of the End for Arab-Palestinian Jihadoterrorism
Ramallah, West Bank, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The first phase of Palestinian municipal elections kicked off in 26 West Bank towns and villages Thursday amid tight security. Israel agreed to allow 1,000 armed Palestinian police to deploy at the polling stations to ensure smooth proceedings for the first municipal polls to be held in the Palestinian territories since 1976.
Need we say more?
DAMASCUS, Dec 23 (KUNA) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi affirmed on Thursday necessity of continuous coordination between Iran and Syria and confirmed that his talks with President Bashar Al-Assad dealt with Iraqi issues.
Mosul bomb raises fears of infiltration at US army bases
From James Hider in Baghdad
THE explosion that killed 22 soldiers and contractors on an American army base in Mosul on Tuesday was probably the work of a suicide bomber, not a rocket attack, the Pentagon disclosed yesterday. “At this point, it looks like it was an improvised explosive device worn by an attacker,” General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon briefing. [...] One Western security expert said that it was impossible to screen everyone entering the bases with so many personnel involved. “The sheer logistics of life support for the Americans make it physically impossible to check everything,” he said.
"Nor has France shied away from paying ransoms in the past: it is known (although still officially denied) to have paid up to £2m to free hostages held in Lebanon in 1988, when Mr Chirac was prime minister and François Mitterrand president. Indeed, a former aide of Mr Mitterrand's confirmed in a 2002 interview that ransoms were 'perfectly normal' in such situations. The French defence minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, agreed in principle yesterday, telling French television: 'Why would we hide a ransom payment? Governments have to be clear about this kind of thing. Who would object to a ransom payment?' "
IRANIAN MULLAHS PLAN THE DESTRUCTION OF 100 ANCIENT SITES - LOSS DWARFS TALIBAN'S DESTRUCTION OF THE "BUDDHAS OF BAMIYAN"
"More than 100 of Iran's potentially most important but least examined archaeological sites, including fringes of Pasargadae, the city built by King Cyrus the Great, will be flooded in the next two years according to the UN, which appealed yesterday to international scientists to try to record what they can. The flooding of the eight-mile Tang-e-Bolaghi gorge because of the construction of a dam will destroy ancient Persia's imperial road which ran from Persepolis to Pasargadae. [...] Unesco said yesterday it was hopeful that the world heritage site of Pasargadae, Cyrus's capital city, renowned for its palaces, gardens and the tomb of the founder of the Achaemenid dynasty, would be only marginally affected. The city, which was included in Unesco's world heritage site list last year, is less than three miles from the end of the gorge. It was built on the site where Cyrus defeated Astyages, the leader of the Medes, in 550BC. It has added importance today because it is believed to be the capital of the first Asian empire which respected the cultural diversity of its people. "
European policymakers have been advised to prepare for "sudden change" in North Korea amid growing speculation among diplomats and observers that Kim Jong-il is losing his grip on power. A EU delegation to Pyongyang recommended a review of the union's policy towards the peninsula, including proposals for closer engagement with North Korea and contingency plans for a possible collapse of the reclusive state, the Guardian has learned. ... In the past month, however, the North Korean rumour mill has been working overtime. While no one is ever quite sure what is going on in one of the world's most closed countries, diplomats, intelligence agents, academics and defectors across the political spectrum and from several different countries are reporting signs of potentially destabilising change. There are strong indications of a power struggle centring on the successor to Kim Jong-il.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
And more HERE and HERE.
US regulators are set to investigate possible violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation on accounting and corporate governance by Fannie Mae's former senior management. The Securities and Exchange Commission, the chief US financial regulator, is expected to determine whether Franklin Raines, former chief executive, and Timothy Howard, former chief financial officer, infringed the legislation's requirements to certify the accuracy of its accounts. Mr Raines and Mr Howard, who were ousted by Fannie Mae's board on Tuesday, certified that its 2002 and 2003 accounts "fairly present in all material respects" the company's financial condition in signed statements filed with the SEC.
Last week Donald Nicolaisen, SEC chief accountant, ruled that the US mortgage finance company, had violated US accounting rules between 2001 and mid-2004 and called on it to restate its accounts. Fannie Mae, which agreed to restate, estimated last month that the move could lower its earnings by $9bn .
Chestnuts roasting on an catalytically-converted non-polluting fire
Jack or Jill Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols – that don’t mention Christianity - being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like the Inuit.
Everybody knows some tofu and some re-plantable mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots – on over-prescribed Ritalin - with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight –
They know that Santa's on his way
He's loaded lots of toys
And goodies on his sleigh
And every mother's child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer – an endangered species we hope Santa is not mistreating -
really know how to fly.
And so, I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although its been said
Many times, many ways
Happy Holidays, happy holidays, happy holidays to you!
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
(1) We gradually increase the age at which a person may collect benefits (say... one month every four months. In 15 years benefits would be available to people at age 70 - an age more in keeping with current real-world demographics.(2) We should exempt the first $15,000 of income from the payroll tax, and raise the ceiling of the payroll tax to make up the reduction.(3) We gradually allow payroll tax-payers UNDER THE AGE OF 50 to divert from 5% to 15% of their payroll tax to special accounts IF AND ONLY IF they agree to take a proportionately larger reduction of benefits when they retire (let's say twice as much). In other words, if they divert 15% of their payroll tax into a personal account, then they must take a 30% reduction of their benefits upon achieving retiurement age. This guarantees that the diversion of payroll tax won't deplete the outflow of benefits, and keeps the current Ponzi Scheme afloat for older people who are stuck in it.(4) We gradually increase the amount that people may divert to personal accounts until every worker has a personal account, and the current Ponzi Scheme disappears through attrition - probably around 2050.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Sunday, December 19, 2004
the NASDAQ Bubble... BURST; the Telecoms Bubble... BURST; the Internet/New Economy Bubble... BURST; the California Energy Bubble... BURST; (Clinton's FDA approved whatever drugs were proposed, and now we're finding out that some big ones might be harmful - like Vioxx and Celebrex - so we might be on a cusp of a Pharma Bubble bursting. too); OSLO was a bubble of sorts too - Clinton oversold it, and then Arafat abused it (turning down a do-able deal at Taba) and instead burst the Oslo Bubble, and unleashed the Second Intifada; finally, there's the al Qaida Bubble - Osama kept attacking us - (in Somalia, the WTC in 1993; two of our our African embassies, the Khobar Towers, and the USS Cole) - and Clinton did nothing -- that bubble burst on 9/11. And - as if if that wasn't enough - Clinton also bequeathed us the Oil-For-Food Bubble!