The Fourth Day of Christmas

fallen-bulbs.jpgOn the fourth day of Christmas

My true-love gave to me

four fallen bulbs.

Rebuilding Ground Zero

ground-zero-120407.jpgLawhawk has been doing a good job of detailing the rebuild efforts at ground zero, today he tells us about the delay from the Deutsche bank building. More here. 

The picture to the left is how it looks this morn, you can check in for yourself on occasion at Earthcam, where they have four different views of the site.

The Third Day of Christmas

dust-bins.jpgOn the third day of Christmas

my true-love gave to me

three dust bins

Nawaz Candidacy Illegal: Pakistan Election Commission

The Pakistan election commission has ruled that Nawaz Sharif’s filing for PM is not legal due to his prior convictions. Captain Ed has some good analysis at Captain’s Quarters.

Pakistan’s Election Commission on Monday barred former prime minister and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif from a January 8 general election because of his criminal record.

“His nomination papers are rejected because of his convictions,” presiding election official Raja Qamaruzaman told Reuters in the eastern city of Lahore, Sharif’s power base where last week he registered to run in the election.

The two-time prime minister says the convictions secured against him in the wake of his 1999 ouster by the then army chief, Pervez Musharraf, were politically motivated.

The Second Day of Christmas

reindeer-statues.jpgOn the second day of Christmas

my true-love gave to me

two silver statues

Pakistan Update: Nuclear Concerns

If you are wondering why I’ve not been covering Pakistan lately it’s because with martial law, the insurrection, the elections, and Musharraf’s retirement from the military they have been getting plenty of coverage from mainstream press, and the press has been getting it mostly right. It’s unfortunate situation that brings that coverage – but things are improving and some media are missing that part — so here it goes.

Benazir Bhutto is campaigning in the Frontiers, which means those areas are now somewhat safer than they were a month ago. She has also directly warned that foreign forces could invade if the Pakistani nuclear weapons are threatened by the tribal insurgencies in the frontiers, which means we can now talk about it here.

The election slates are filled up across the country from all parties, and while some parties are talking boycott that’s not likely to happen. Even religious conservative MMA party is split on whether to boycott, and they are usually the loudest in calls for that, preferring chaos and a split state to grow their party. (Does that sound familiar?)

The army is making slow progress in Swat against Mullah Fazlullah’s forces, taking an outpost or a mountaintop at a time, which is how such campaigns go. The TNSM/Taliban forces are melting before attacks, fading back through mountain tracks when the opposition gets too strong. While the army is having mostly success, they are failing in the same manner they always do – they are not killing and capturing the leaders. When they bring in Fazlullah and the hidden leaders guiding his hand then will the region be subdued.

The US is trying some wargame scenarios to protect Pakistan’s nuclear devices, those are not sanctioned by any government body because of the sensitive nature, but they are ongoing. All the scenarios played so far involve Pakistan’s army cooperating, with Musharraf’s retirement however you have to wonder if that would occur. The information on where the nukes are suspected to be is available, but I won’t share that here.

Nawaz and Bhutto will be meeting today to discuss boycott, and probably power-sharing, I doubt they will come out of the meeting with a plan to boycott however.

Various reports:

Wargaming Pak Nukes — WaPo

Opposition Heads Meeting — BBC

Why are we acting surprised? Hardline Op-Ed from ARI

Turkish President to visit Pakistan — China View

Metroblogging Islamabad Covers Musharraf’s retirement – read the comments for a feel of how Pakistanis view him – he is both revered and reviled, but like President Bush, his popularity is near an all-time low.

Belgian Coalition Talks Collapse

Sinterklaas and Zwart Piet will be leaving lumps of coal for the parliament of Belgium after tries for a coalition government once again failed on the 174th day since elections. Leterme and DeWever (CDV and NVA respectively)  once again weren’t able to gather enough allies with agreements to the liberal Walloon region parties to form a coalition government. It looks as if the Belgians are going to have to do with interim government and Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt until new elections come (I think in January, but I am not certain.)

The CD-V and NVA coalition had been losing support steadily prior to the last elections because the Flemish population thinks they favor the Wallonian regions a bit too much for the majority that the Flemish have in the Parliament. Post election this time they are taking a much harder line to stem the flow of voters departing to Vlaams Belang in protest. It remains to be seen if their harder stance on the BHV region will work until next election. (BHV is a region surrounding West Brussels, splitting that off is somewhat like the Mason-Dixon line and Texas Redistricting all rolled into one for the Belgians, a thorny, passionate issue on all sides.) Story at AFP:
deeper into crisis.

Leterme had given up the task once before since the June 10 general election put his party in pole position to form a Christian-liberal coalition, involving two parties from each side of the linguistic divide.

“The last weeks and months I have done all I can to bring this task to a successful conclusion,” Leterme, the Flemish Christian Democrat leader, said in the parliament building after throwing in the towel.

“Unfortunately that has not been possible. Our country needs a stable government and reforms that will permit it to tackle its problems head on.”

He added that he had been aware, when he had first accepted the task of forming a government, “that I was taking a political as well as a personal risk”.

He remained available to work towards a solution to the political impasse, he said.

Meanwhile the “cordon sanitaire” seems to hold around Vlaams Belang, even though all Flemish nationalist parties voted together on the BHV motion that disrupted talks last time.

zangavondii.gifPerhaps if they gave the Vlaams Belang Jongeren (Flemish Interest Youth) different songbooks then other Flemish parties in their country would feel better about allying with them. This picture comes from the VBJ-Antwerp official page, and Antwerp has always been the core of VB’s party.

UPDATE: Good background of the history leading to this here at Turkish Press

On the First Day of Christmas

first-day-of-christmas.jpgOn the first day of Christmas

my true love gave to me

A Hallmark ornament

on a plastic tree.

Norm Podhoretz Let me Down

As you can see by my sidebar I am a Rudy Guiliani supporter – one of his foreign policy advisors is Norman Podhoretz, also someone whose views I support. Norm is going to have to get quicker on his feet however. Here he debates with Fareed Zakaria, who makes a seemingly clear argument that Norm failed to counter well.

You cannot sound-bite attack arguments like this with Chamberlin arguments — instead you must destroy the case in total, not with ad hominem comparison but instead with clear facts. There are many that Norm could have marshalled, but failed to. 

Here is the transcript of the segment with “Jihad Judy” Woodruff, (sorry, that’s my Mom’s nickname for her,) Norman Podhoretz, and Fareed Zakaria, please read and follow to my thoughts  below the segment. The lead-in was a pastiche of fact and opinion on the potential of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons: Continue reading “Norm Podhoretz Let me Down”