Monday :: Jan 7, 2008

And beyond the election news...

by Turkana

  • The BBC is among many reporting that five Iranian speedboasts approached, and radioed a threat to blow up, three Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz, over the weekend. The Bush Administration responded with a stern warning, and some are comparing this to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Iran said it was no big deal. The Guardian reports that, according to a Pentagon official, the boats pulled away "literally at the very moment that US forces were preparing to open fire ... it is the most serious provocation of this sort that we've seen yet".
  • At TalkLeft, Jeralyn points to this New York Times article. The government says they can search anyone's hard drive, at the border. They say it is like searching suitcases. Thus far, the courts have backed them up. Another strike against personal privacy.
  • Agence France-Presse says Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has called off nationwide protests over the disputed election, in order to give mediation a chance. More than 600 are now dead, and the BBC reports that more than 180,000 have been displaced, with the U.N. saying more than half a million need emergency assistance. The BBC also reports that President Mwai Kibaki has invited Odinga for face-to-face talks, and according to the New York Times, Odinga's spokesman says Odinga will participate, if it is part of the mediation process, led by by Ghanaian President and head of the African Union, John Kufuor.
  • While nobody expects much from Bush's trip to Israel, Ha'aretz had this hopeful news, over the weekend:

    A document obtained by Haaretz shows that the Palestinian Authority vehemently rejected most of Israel's security demands in negotiations at Camp David and Taba in 2000 and 2001, but contrary to what has been assumed for years, significant agreement was reached on parts of three core issues: borders, refugees and Jerusalem.

    When we have an administration that is serious about attempting a peace process, those previous agreements would seem to be a good place to start.

  • The Los Angeles Times also reports that ostensible post-partisan centrist Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is again having problems with pragmatics:

    He has prided himself on thinking big, and used his larger-than-life persona to advocate grand visions for California's future.

    But as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger begins his fifth year at the helm of the state, he is hemmed in by the past, staring at a fiscal crisis much like the one he was elected to solve. That leaves little room for the "fantastic" ideas on which he has staked his reputation as a visionary.

    Instead, political observers said, he will be forced to confront a basic and perennial question: whether California voters are willing to pay for the programs they want.

    On Tuesday, Schwarzenegger, a Republican who in the last two years has been closer to Democrats, will use his State of the State address to lay the groundwork for a broad array of cuts to state services, according to his aides. He will call on everyone to share the pain of closing a budget gap the administration has projected at greater than $14 billion -- without raising taxes. And he plans to renew previously failed efforts to change the state budget process.

    His slash and burn tactics will not go down well, and you can expect a return to the partisan tensions of the governor's first year in office.

  • In science news, Science Daily reports on a Stanford scientist's finding of direct links between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increases in human mortality. The numbers are relatively trivial, compared to the catastrophic potential from global warming and climate change, but it's yet one more reason why we need to make the development of clean renewable energy sources one of our top priorities.

    On that front, the Guardian reports that a group of British scientists and academics has condemned "as undemocratic and possibly illegal" their government's "plans to force through a new generation of nuclear power stations to meet Britain's energy needs for the next 30 years." Replacing one problem with another is no solution.

  • Turkana :: 12:10 PM :: Comments (15) :: Digg It!