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Thursday, September 27, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Court orders Pakistan releases

Pakistan’s top judge has ordered the immediate release of dozens of detained opposition supporters who have been taken into custody since the weekend.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry made the ruling after summoning police and government officials to court.

He did so shortly after papers were filed naming Gen Musharraf to contest presidential elections on 6 October.

[...]

The government has said it will abide by the Supreme Court order. It had argued that the detentions were necessary to maintain law and order.

The degree to which the Pakistani Supreme Court has been a thorn in the side of Musharraf has been rather interesting to watch, as generally speaking judicial institutions tend to be politically quite weak in such contexts. Indeed, I can think of no example wherein the chief political counterbalance to a military president who came to power via coup was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Remember: Musharraf had suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, yet was unable to make the suspension stick. Further, the court has issued a number of rulings that have not gone Musharraf’s way.

And, there is yet more on the Supreme Court’s plate:

The Supreme Court is to decide whether he can stand for election while holding the posts of president and army chief.

At the moment, it is Musharraf’s position that he will step down only once elected, and should the federal and provincial assemblies fail to elect him president (we aren’t talking about a popular election) he plans to remains army chief.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Gorbachev warns Russians against rise of Stalinism:

“We must squeeze Stalinism out of ourselves, not in single drops but by the glass or bucket,” Gorbachev added. “There are those saying Stalin’s rule was the Golden Age, while (Nikita) Khrushchev’s thaw was sheer utopia and (Leonid) Brezhnev’s neo-Stalinism was the continuation of the Golden Age.”

[...]

During the Great Terror, 1.7 million Soviet citizens were arrested between August 1937 and November 1938, of whom 818,000 were executed, the human rights group Memorial said.

Historians estimate that up to 13 million people were killed or sent to labor camps in the former Soviet Union between 1921 and 1953, the year Stalin died.

Despite Stalin’s record, recent polls have shown many young Russians have a positive view of the former Soviet leader and there have been attempts this year to play down his excesses, which have found an echo among the country’s youth.

Fifty-four percent of Russian youth believe that Stalin did more good than bad and half said he was a wise leader, according to a poll conducted in July by the Yuri Levada Centre.

Chilling stuff all around–and doubly so given the authoritarian direction in which the country is going at the moment.

It is also frightening to see what people will believe as well as what they will ignore.

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By Steven L. Taylor

This post from this morning made me think of the following classic SNL bit, starting at 1:30 (thru to 2:50ish):

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: House Panel Approves a Trade Pact With Peru

A trade pact between the United States and Peru won bipartisan support in a crucial Congressional committee Tuesday, signaling that some Democrats will be receptive to new trade deals as long as they call on other nations to adhere to international labor and environmental standards.

The action, a voice vote in the House Ways and Means Committee, clears the way for approval of the Peru deal by Congress this fall, with most Republicans and perhaps a minority of the Democrats supporting it, Congressional aides said. The Senate Finance Committee approved the pact on Friday.

Considering that the current Congress has been slow to act on these measures, this is important progress.

Of course, the other pending deals aren’t in as good a shape:

Despite the boost for the Peru deal, prospects for other pending trade deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea remain clouded by continuing disagreements that have to be resolved before the deals can be approved.

[...]

A Panama deal may have the best chance of passage. But Democratic leaders said that the Colombia deal cannot be considered until Colombia does more to end human rights abuses, especially against workers trying to organize. And they said South Korea must take further steps to open its market to American beef, autos and auto parts.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via WSFA TV in Montgomery: Congressman Terry Everett Announces Retirement.

From Everett’s statement:

For 15 years I have been allowed the privilege of representing the people of the 2nd District of Alabama in the U. S. House of Representatives. This has been an honor, privilege and responsibility that I have taken seriously. I’ve worked hard at it, and hope that my efforts to serve our nation, state and the 2nd District have been well received.

“In February I will celebrate my 71st birthday. While there remains much work to be accomplished by Congress, I made a difficult decision over the weekend not to seek election for a ninth term.

The district in question is quite Republican, so this retirement will have no effect on the partisan composition of the House. Everett has been running effectively unopposed for years.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Burmese riot police attack monks

Thousands of Burmese Buddhist monks and other protesters have been marching in Rangoon despite a bloody crackdown by police. At least one death is reported.

Monks’ shaved heads stained with blood could be seen at the Shwedagon Pagoda where police charged against protesters demanding the end of military rule.

One supposed that it was only a matter of time before the military government attempt the crack-down route.

The BBC has some picture as well: click.

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By Steven L. Taylor


When words get in the way, Bush goes phonetic – Yahoo! News

How do you keep a leader as verbally gaffe-prone as U.S. President George W. Bush from making even more slips of the tongue?

When Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, the White House inadvertently showed exactly how — with a phonetic pronunciation guide on the teleprompter to get him past troublesome names of countries and world leaders.

[...]

It included phonetic spellings for French President Nicolas Sarkozy (sar-KO-zee), a friend, and Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH-bee), a target of U.S. human rights criticism.

Pronunciations were also provided for Kyrgyzstan (KEYR-geez-stan), Mauritania (moor-EH-tain-ee-a) and the Zimbabwe capital Harare (hah-RAR-ray).

No doubt that this is hardly unusual, but one gets the impression that Bush needs the phonetic help more than most.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Ezra Klein is on target in regards to the Ahmadinejad:

He’s not being feared. He’s being laughed at. Imagine how the Iranian people feel seeing these clips (and they’re seeing them). Imagine how the rest of the Iranian government feels being made to look so foolish — and all for this jester’s dreams of personal aggrandizement.

Exactly. This clearly underscores why having him come to Columbia was a good thing, not a bad one.

Watch the clip:

Without a doubt the biggest headline has been his denial that there are any homosexuals in Iran. For him to make such absurd statement makes him look foolish and diminishes his international prestige. It also makes his Holocaust denial appear even more cartoonish and ignorant.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Yet another example that raises an ongoing question: who have most anti-terrorism policies annoyed the most, terrorists or American citizens….

Certainly it seems that most of these policies have done a far better job of making it more difficult for everyday Americans to pursue their lives than they have in stopping terrorists in pursuing theirs…

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By Steven L. Taylor

For those who might be interested, hop over to PoliSciFi

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