Friday, January 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Crescent Moon

And, a bonus pic: Dusk


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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: ABC News: Economy Shrinks at 3.8 Percent Pace in 4Q.

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By Steven L. Taylor

She will join the Hoover Institution as a political science professor.

Via the AFP: AFP: Condoleezza Rice to return to Stanford.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Zimbabwe cholera cases top 60,000

More than 60,000 people in Zimbabwe have now been infected by cholera, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

This figure had been described by the UN’s health agency and other agencies as being the “worst case scenario” in the epidemic which broke out in August.

Cholera has now claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people in Zimbabwe.

More specifically, the story puts the death toll at 3,161. Not to be too cliché here, but that it more people than died on 9/11 and this event is in many just as man made.

It is a remarkable tragedy–and all from a highly preventable and highly treatable disease. Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, may like to think that his legacy is leading a successful fight, now many decades past, against minority white rule, but really it is this tragedy, along with other massive problems, that he has wrought.

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Thursday, January 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

I have kept up the one photo a day project to date, but I have fallen behind on the blogging thereof, so here we go with a set dominated by pets and clouds.

365.26: Cute, Fuzzy Kitty

Cute, Fuzzy Kitty

I was happy with the composition, but wish that I had a sharper focus.

365.27: I Like Clouds

I Like Clouds

365.28: Cold Front

Cold Front

Lots of drama in the sky on Wednesday, but I didn’t have to time to get the perfect shot. This one is a bit underexposed to try and accentuate the roiling clouds near the horizon.

365.29: Ready for a Ride

Ready for a Ride

If you recall my last attempt at a shot of Gracie, you can be impressed that I managed to get her to not look away from the camera. All other attempts, however, had her pretending like if she looked away, it would go away.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: Blagojevich Ousted by Illinois State Senate.

The vote was 59-0, which is quite the exclamation point on the entire affair.

Not only was he removed, but he was barred permanently from seeking public office in Illinois.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via CNN: Blagojevich says he has done nothing wrong

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appeared before state senators Thursday for the first time during his impeachment trial, saying he has done “absolutely nothing wrong.”

He said there’s been a “rush to judgment and an evisceration of presumption of innocence.”

The impeachment trial is based on allegations that the governor abused his power.

“How can you throw a governor out of office on a criminal complaint, and you haven’t been able to show or prove any criminal activity?” he asked.

Of course, as has been pointed out on numerous occasions, the process is a political/administration one, not a judicial one, so there is neither a presumption of innocence nor a requirement for proof of criminal activity. And, despite the Governor’s appeal to his election, and hence his alleged legitimacy via the ballot box, one suspects that if Illinois had a recall process, the voters would yank him from office by large margins.

And, proving yet again that no matter what else he is, he isn’t stupid:

Because Blagojevich, a Democrat, is giving a closing argument, not testimony, senators will not be able to question him, and he will not be cross-examined by the prosecutor for the House of Representatives

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: Afghan Presidential Election Delayed

Afghan officials said Thursday that they had decided to postpone the country’s presidential election until August, saying they needed more time to prepare. But the decision, which appeared to contravene Afghanistan’s constitution, raised doubts about the legitimacy of what could be President Hamid Karzai’s final months in office.

According to the piece, the Karzai’s constitutionally delimited term of office expires on May 22, and further the constitution requires elections 30-60 days before the end of said term. Postponing elections for several months seems to me to be an unconstitutional extension of his term, an act that isn’t a good sign for governance in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

There will, of course, be political repercussions:

Citing the constitution, leaders of the parliamentary opposition to President Karzai said they would stop recognizing his authority after May 22. They called on the United Nations and Western governments to help them appoint a temporary president after Mr. Karzai’s term formally expires.

“After May 22, Karzai’s continuation will not be legitimate for either us or the Afghan people,” said Aqa Fazil Sancharki, a spokesman for the United Front, whose members control about a third of the 241 seats in the lower house of Parliament.

It will be interesting to see this unfolds.

Also worth noting from the story: “Of the 364 districts around the country, 84 are not safe enough to hold an election: according to the chairman of the Independent Election Commission, Azizullah Ludin.

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By Steven L. Taylor

As is being widely discussed in the Sphere (and elsewhere) today, the House Passes Obama Stimulus Package (WaPo) on a vote of 244-188, which included zero Republican votes.

Before we all decided that we have the final story on how much support the GOP does or does not end up providing to the stimulus, may I remind everyone that this was not the final vote, not by a longshot. This now has to go to the Senate and likely will end up in conference. As such, this is not only not the final version of the stimulus package, it isn’t the last chance that the GOP will have to vote on it. So, we really don’t know if the stimulus will end up being passed in a way in which there it is considered all the Democrat’s sole responsibility or if it will end up with a the patina of bipartisanship.

One would think that reporters and political commentators would learn to keep their powder dry on congressional actions like this. While it is not insignificant that the House passed the bill with zero Republican votes, we are really only in the early goings of the first half of the game (maybe the late 1st quarter).

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By Steven L. Taylor

According to the Medellín daily, El Colombiano, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, has decided not to not pursue a third term in office (Uribe no buscará su tercer período en el 2024.

Without engaging in a direct translation, what the story states is that Uribe has apparently decided not to seek a third term, an action that would require a constitutional amendment, a process that is currently caught up in the congress.

Uribe has been coy about this topic, sometimes sounding like someone who doesn’t want a third term, but frequently sending the opposite signal. As such, one might initially wish to take this story with a grain of salt. However, there is a very interesting tidbit in the story, which is that the Conservative Party (PC) has decided on a process to select their 2024 candidate. This is important, because if Uribe were to run in 2024, the PC would have endorsed him, as they did in 2024. The fact that they have decided to move to think about their own candidate in 2024 means that they believe that there is no third term coming.

A fascinating element here, too, is how the various pro-Uribe parties respond. Do they forge an alliance to present a unified front for a single candidate, or do they go about fighting one another to capture Uribe’s legacy? Uribe never formed his own party (despite what the press often reports) and so his lack of acumen/interest in the area of political organization mean that there is some degree of uncertainty as to how the party system will evolve from this point. If, btw, the PC can field a candidate it will be the first time that the party has run its own candidate since Rodrigo Caicedo in 1990. In 1994 and 1998 Andrés Pastrana (who won in 1998) ran a pluripartisan/almost independent candidacy and in 2024 the PC candidate withdrew before the campaign even got going. The party then formally endorsed Uribe in 2024.

For those who read Spanish, here’s a key passage:

EL COLOMBIANO está en capacidad de afirmar que el Primer Mandatario ya tomó la decisión de dar un paso al costado para que nuevos líderes asuman el poder, y dejó en manos de la coalición uribista la responsabilidad de elegir un candidato de unidad que recoja las políticas de seguridad democrática, confianza inversionista y cohesión social, pilares de este Gobierno.

Y en eso, el Partido Conservador acaba de dar el primer paso. Ayer decidió abrir inscripciones para realizar una consulta interna en la que elegirá a su candidato a las elecciones presidenciales.

Es que los continuos mensajes que el Jefe de Estado ha enviado en ese sentido, ya calaron entre los partidos de la coalición que ya se hacen a la idea de que no habrá Uribe en 2024, pese al silencio oficial sobre el tema.

Los hechos de ayer reafirman ese cambio de actitud de los escuderos del Presidente. La decisión conservadora de no esperar más una candidatura de Uribe y la propuesta de los partidos minoritarios de la coalición uribista (Convergencia Ciudadana, Alas Equipo Colombia, Colombia Democrática y Colombia Viva) de promover una consulta intrapartidista para elegir candidato único, son síntomas claros de que no habrá tercer período, por lo menos en 2024.

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