Sunday, March 20, 2011

Last Call

Tonight's lesson:  misdirection.

In his press briefing earlier this afternoon, U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney emphasized that the international coalition's air campaign is not deisgned to target Gadhafi, but is limited to enforcing a no-fly zone and preventing Gadhafi's forces from further pressing rebel positions.

"We are not going after Gadhafi," Gortney said at the Pentagon. "Regime forces are more pressed and less free to maneuver."

One hour later:

AS fresh blasts rock Tripoli and smoke rises near Muammar Gaddafi's residence, Libya has announced an immediate new ceasefire - the second in a matter of days. 


All the cool kids are doing it. After all, the Pentagon wasn't going after him. We didn't say anything about the other nations in the coalition, now did we.

Attention Useful Idiots

The Republican Party needs YOU to keep attacking President Obama on Libya to continue to demoralize the left.  Step 1, GOP warpig hypocrisy:

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Sunday called on President Barack Obama to explain the U.S. mission in Libya and how his administration intends to achieve its goals.

“The president is the commander-in-chief. But the administration has a responsibility to define for the American people, the Congress and our troops, what the mission in Libya is,” Boehner, a Republican, said in a statement.

“Before any further military commitments are made, the administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved,” he said.

Right.  The same Orange Julius that asked no questions about Bush's years in Iraq and said this about our troops there:

"Long term, the investment that we’re making today will be a small price if we’re able to stop Al Qaeda here, if we’re able to stabilize the Middle East. It’s not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids," he said.

Yeah, the thousands of our troops who died in Iraq?  Small price to pay in a war that dragged on for years, redefined the term "mission creep" and is STILL GOING ON.  But even though our mission in Libya has been so far limited to a bunch of cruise missiles, OJ wants to know what our mission is.  Iraq needed no explanation because SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO OUR GENERALS.

Moonie Times today:  "Obama's Illegal War"

With Thursday’s passage of United Natons Security Council resolution 1973, the United States is set to go to war against Libya. Removing Moammar Gadhafi from power would probably advance the cause of freedom, but the United Nations has no legal authority to take a step of this magnitude. By bowing to the will of the U.N. Security Council, President Obama is diluting the sovereign power of the United States.
Same Moonie Times six months ago:

President Obama was granted an opportunity to give a victory speech about Iraq on Tuesday, courtesy of George W. Bush. He mentioned President Bush in passing, essentially damning him with faint praise. If Mr. Bush had followed Mr. Obama’s strategic recommendations in 2007, the war in Iraq would have been lost years ago.
The Obama haters are dragging up all the same arguments they laughed at eight years ago.  The Useful Idiots on the left are going right along with the script, too.  So go ahead and watch the TV and blame Obama, guys...and watch the Republicans finish the country off in 2012.  The right is already attacking Obama as "having no exit strategy" in Libya, which coming from any Bush supporter is laughable.  But hey, let's continue to give these assholes cover, eh?

Or you know, you guys could just go The Full Nader.

Globe's A-Poppin

With more Yemeni government officials resigning in protest over the bloody crackdown in Sanaa on Friday, things are getting very serious and complicated in the Gulf states.

Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah Alsaidi has resigned, the latest high-ranking member of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government to quit in protest against the killing of dozens of demonstrators.

Snipers killed up to 42 protesters among crowds that flocked to a sit-in at Sanaa University after Friday prayers. The opposition says at least seven snipers were caught carrying government identity cards, a charge the government has denied.

"Mr. Alsaidi has sent his resignation to the president's office and the Foreign Ministry," a Yemeni Foreign Ministry official said on Sunday, and added that it was in protest at the Friday violence.

Defying a crackdown after the government called a state of emergency, the opposition has vowed to keep up its pressure to end Saleh's 32-year rule in the poor Arabian Peninsula state, a neighbor of Saudi Arabia and a U.S. ally against al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, a bit to the northeast of Yemen, protests and crackdowns in Syria are underway.

Crowds set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Baath Party in the Syrian city of Deraa Sunday, residents said, as the wave of unrest in the Arab world shook even one of its most authoritarian states.

The demonstrators also set ablaze the main courts complex and two phone company branches. One of the firms, Syriatel, is owned by President Bashar al-Assad's cousin Rami Makhlouf.

"They burned the symbols of oppression and corruption," an activist said. "The banks nearby were not touched."

Thousands rallied to demand an end to 48 years of emergency law in the southern city, on the third consecutive day of protests emerging as the biggest ever challenge to Syria's ruling party since it seized power nearly half a century ago.

"No, no to emergency law. We are a people infatuated with freedom," marchers chanted, despite the arrival in Deraa of a government delegation to pay condolences to relatives of victims killed by security forces in demonstrations there this week.

Arab rulers are falling apart, and the people rising up are treating both US intervention (that gave them the status quo of repressive, authoritarian rule) and Islamist violence (which they have seen lead to death and destruction in both Sunni and Shi'a states) as the enemy.

It's a pretty dangerous situation from Tunisia all the way over to Pakistan and the war in Libya, crackdowns in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Iran aren't helping, and neither is the quasi-military coup in Egypt.  We're rapidly reaching a fully out-of-control situation here.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 13

Finally, Japanese nuclear officials and TEPCO workers are starting to get some of the less damaged reactors under control, and some of the more critical ones stabilized at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Workers began to see some success in their battle to cool down reactors at the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant Sunday, but Japanese officials said they may need to release additional radioactive gas into the air.

The plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said electricity was being supplied to a switchboard in reactor No. 2.

But officials said they were monitoring reactor No. 3 to determine whether to release gas to reduce mounting pressure in the containment vessel -- the steel and concrete shell that insulates radioactive material inside.

Power company officials said pressure was higher than previous readings -- but stable -- Sunday afternoon. And Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the pressure increase did not require "an immediate release of the air at this moment."

Still, "even in the best scenario, there will be a lot of bumps ahead," Edano told reporters as he assessed the situation at the plant in a briefing Sunday.

There's a long way to go before the plant is under control, much less to the point where it can be buried under sand and concrete, much less to the point where the plant is salvageable in any fashion.  But finally people are making progress and the immediate danger is under control...for now.

But how much radiation has been released, and will continue to be released over the next several days and weeks, if not months?  It's a grim situation even without the earthquake and tsunami ravaged country being critically short on basics.  The missing/dead numbers have topped 20,000 total at this point in northern Japan, and the situation is getting worse by the hour as Japan is a country that relies heavily on imports for food and other staples.  Any damage to infrastructure, transport, power and production capabilities means there's no slack to absorb the disruption shock.

The country will continue to reel for quite some time.

All Oiled Up, Bend Over...Again

It's baaaaaack!

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating reports of a potentially massive oil sheen about 20 miles north of the site of last April's Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

A helicopter crew and pollution investigators have been dispatched to Main Pass Block 41 in response to two calls to the National Response Center, the federal point of contact for reporting oil and chemical spills, said Paul Barnard, an operations controller for Coast Guard Sector New Orleans.

The first caller, around 11 a.m., described a sheen of about a half-mile long and a half-mile wide, he said.
About two hours later, another caller reported a much larger sheen -- about 100 miles long -- originating in the same area and spreading west to Cocodrie on Terrebonne Bay, Barnard said.

"We haven't been able to verify that, and it would be very unlikely for an individual to be able to observe a 100-mile long sheen," he said, adding inspection teams were en route around 3 p.m. to the site.

Eileen Angelico of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which oversees offshore oil and natural gas production, said late Saturday afternoon that her agency was awaiting Coast Guard confirmation of the nature of the sheen. The bureau had not received word from any operators in the gulf of a spill, she said.

What, you thought just because this was out of the news that this problem was solved too?  If this turns out to be more leakage from the Deepwater Horizon site or even an all new oil spill right now, all hell is going to break loose on Monday in the markets.  A 100-mile swath of oil isn't something you can just hide, folks.

This year just keeps getting better.  I'm really hoping this is nothing more than some sort of algae or silt or something not oil, otherwise all these crises are really getting exhausting.

Meanwhile In Port-au-Prince...

Haiti goes to the polls today to select a President as the country is still dealing with the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake.

Haitians will choose between a former first lady and a popular musician Sunday in a pivotal presidential runoff vote for a nation still recovering from a devastating earthquake and political turmoil.

Former law professor and first lady Mirlande Manigat will face singer Michel Martelly in the second round of presidential elections.

Final results of the runoff will be released on April 16, according to officials.

Martelly made a name for himself as a flamboyant carnival musician who sometimes ripped his clothes off onstage.

In early December, the electoral council announced that Manigat had won but lacked the majority of votes needed for an outright victory. Initial results put her in a runoff with government-backed candidate, Jude Celestin.

Haitians responded by charging fraud and burning cars, tires and Celestin's campaign headquarters in Port-au-Prince.

The third-place candidate, Martelly, claimed he had won more votes than Celestin and a review of results by an Organization of American States team supported that contention.

The review suggested that Martelly earned a spot in the runoff.

Oh yes, and former President Aristide is floating around the country too, showing up just days before the runoff, swearing he's not going to get back into politics, either...but I'm sure he'll offer his services as an advisor to Sunday's winner, too.

Meanwhile Haiti continues to languish in squalor as thousands face a massive cholera epidemic that could end up infecting some 750,000 plus people this year...almost ten percent of the population of the country infected by a preventable disease.  Nobody seems to care much, either...and if they do, they're certainly not doing very much about it.
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