Archive for February, 2009

Good old days

February 19, 2009

Music from the opening credits of Kit Kat. Posted for the Mumkin 3 Boys who used to do their fair share of hanging out on the houseboats near Midan Kit Kat. (And for Tritone, who did some backround coughing of his own [and “saw out of the sides of his eyes”?])


Big Deal

February 12, 2009

New York Times / February 12, 2009

Judges Approve Warrant for Sudan’s President

THE HAGUE – Judges at the International Criminal Court have decided to issue an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, brushing aside diplomatic requests to allow more time for peace negotiations in the conflict-riddled Darfur region of his country, according to court lawyers and diplomats.

It is the first time the court has sought the detention of a sitting head of state, and it could further complicate the tense, international debate over how to solve the crisis in Darfur.

Ever since international prosecutors began seeking an arrest warrant last year, opponents have pressed the United Nations Security Council to use its power to suspend the proceedings. But a majority of Council members have argued that the case should go forward, saying Mr. Bashir has not done enough to stop the bloodshed to deserve a reprieve.

Many African and Arab nations counter that issuing a warrant for Mr. Bashir’s arrest could backfire, diminishing Sudan’s willingness to compromise for the sake of peace. Others, including some United Nations officials, worry that a warrant could inspire reprisal attacks against civilians, aid groups or the thousands of international peacekeepers deployed there.

The precise charges cited by the judges against Mr. Bashir have not been disclosed. But when the court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, first requested an arrest warrant in July, he said he had evidence to support charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide related to a military campaign that “purposefully targeted civilians” and had been “masterminded” by Mr. Bashir.

Lawyers familiar with the case said the court had already sought to freeze the president’s assets but had found his possessions to be hidden behind other names.

The decision to issue a warrant against him, reached by a panel of judges in The Hague, has been conveyed to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and is expected to be formally announced at the court, officials at the United Nations said.

The prosecutor became involved in the case after the Security Council asked him to investigate the conflict in Darfur, where massacres, disease and starvation have led to the deaths of up to 300,000 people and driven millions from their homes.

Although there has been sporadic fighting in Darfur for decades, the conflict significantly intensified in 2003, when rebel groups demanding greater autonomy for the region attacked Sudanese forces. The Arab-led government responded with a ferocious counterinsurgency campaign, which the court’s prosecutor called a genocidal strategy against Darfur’s black African ethnic groups.

Relations between Mr. Ban and Mr. Bashir continue to be strained by Sudanese government actions in Darfur and by Mr. Ban’s refusal to deal with Mr. Bashir directly.

But on Sunday the two men had an unscheduled encounter at a summit meeting in Ethiopia. Diplomats described it as “a stormy meeting” and “a shouting match” in which Mr. Bashir vented his anger at the court, though it is independent of the United Nations. Mr. Ban, in turn, insisted on the safety of United Nations staff members and peacekeepers, and demanded that Mr. Bashir stop the attacks on civilians.

The prospect of an arrest warrant for Mr. Bashir has already caused a diplomatic rift, with the African Union and members of the Arab League asking the Security Council to exercise its right to postpone any moves against the president for a year, arguing that he might still help bring a settlement in Darfur. Once an arrest warrant is issued, the Council can request that it be postponed.

There is broad concern that removing Mr. Bashir from power could threaten a landmark peace treaty between the Sudanese government and rebels in the southern part of the country. The treaty was signed in 2005 to end a civil war in which 2.2 million people died, far more than in Darfur.

Mr. Bashir fought members of his own party to approve that peace deal, and it is widely seen as critical to holding the country together.

On Wednesday, the Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, dismissed the court’s decision as “not deserving the ink used to print it.” The ambassador accused the court of being a political tool of mostly Western powers that want to fragment Sudan.

Mr. Abdalhaleem contended that in separate talks at the United Nations last fall with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and top European officials, Sudan was promised that Western powers would support a suspension of the prosecution if the country cooperated with United Nations peacekeeping efforts, pursued peace talks and more aggressively pursued war criminals.

“We are moving on all those tracks,” he said, though human rights groups and diplomats disagree.

A top United Nations official said Mr. Ban’s advisers were now struggling to forge a policy that supports the court’s pursuit of justice but avoids wrecking Sudanese cooperation with the complex missions there.

The court has issued two other arrest warrants in connection with the Darfur conflict, one for a former government minister, Ahmad Harun, and another for Ali Kushayb, a leader of a government-backed militia. Neither has been arrested.

The prosecutor has also accused three rebel leaders of the killing of 12 African Union peacekeepers. They have said publicly that they will surrender to the court.

Marlise Simons reported from The Hague, and Neil MacFarquhar from the United Nations.

Words: stranger than fiction!

February 11, 2009

Of “reality’s” ongoing joke of naming things with a strange wink, a new–possibly emo–entry has come to light.

Former entries include: *That the most infamous military cover-up of the Vietnam War is known as My Lai (and that the middle name of the only man found guilty for the massacre–whose life sentence in prison was subsequently reduced to 3.5 years under house arrest–is Laws). *That following a utilities consiracy orchestrated by Enron which crippled the state of California and precipitated an obscure electoral procedure called a “Recall”, the sitting governor was challenged by an Austrian-born muscle-man who famously starred in a movie called Total Recall.

Well now we learn that the intricate tissue complex that helps regulate the rhythm of the human heart is known as the Bundle of His. Yes, woe is the heart of man, that bungling bundle of sorrow!

[To lend a shading of the struggle found in the breast of man, the OED also notes: bundle (slang) a fight or scrap. As in: “If there was going to be a bundle, he was not going to be bashed sitting down” -James Curtis The Gilt Kid (1936). To lend a shading of the tragedic irony found in the breast of man, Dr. Wiki notes: “James Curtis died in North London after suffering a heart attack in a chemist shop” (1977).]

Mysticks at the NYT

February 10, 2009

I just noticed the White Goddess-y logo for the NYT “100 Days” section:


Wiccans in the graphics department?


February 9, 2009

Surprisingly honest advertising by PepsiMax.


…but not in the Senate

February 5, 2009

Senate Approves Tax Break for Homebuyers

$15,000 tax break for people who buy a new home.

Isn’t the problem the fact that too many people were buying homes that they couldn’t afford with wacky mortage rates that were designed by predatory/stupid firms with impossible infinitely-skyrocketing-housing-prices models in mind?

Not to mention that we don’t really need more homes built in this country; no more ugly, resource squandering, energy wasting subdivisions. . .

At least 3/4 into the article they quote an economist who describes this and a tax break for those buying new cars as short-sighted and pandering.