Friday, June 3, 2011

The Morning Blog

There's been speculation as to whether or not Yemen is on the verge of a civil war. Yes. Yes, I should say that it is. Hopefully, the dire economic condition in Yemen will be a wake up call to the rest of the Middle East. If you base your entire economy around a single, rapidly dwindling source of revenue, sooner or later, you're just going to run out of cash. Sadly, I've no idea what Middle Eastern countries could peg their economies to other than oil. Granted, the fat boys of Dubai can always hope for ski tourism but I don't know that that's the best thing to rely on in a desert.

At this point, strapped for cash and unable to keep buying supporters, Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh is finding that insurgents are taking it personally.

Well, I see that at least one Middle Eastern country is pegging it's economy to something else.

I'm lucky enough to get along with my neighbors. They're all decent people. Though they might play their music a bit loud, I'd say that we have a pretty good relationship. Some people aren't quite so fortunate. It's not surprising to me that North Korea would make such an aggressive response to reports that South Korean soldiers were using images of the Kim clan for target practice. It's important to understand that as far as the North Koreans are concerned, the Kim's were, are and always will be, the literal embodiment of all that is their state. Thus, we get statements like these:

Kim Il Sung remains North Korea's "eternal president" 17 years after his death, his beaming face on billboards, portraits and the small pins North Koreans wear affixed to their shirts and jackets.

North Korea said in its statement that South Korea had "staged such rowdyism as setting up a target and daring fire at it, a thrice-cursed criminal act of hurting the supreme dignity of" North Korea. It also mentioned alleged anti-North Korea propaganda in the South.

Thrice-cursed, criminal rowdyism no less...

Can't really say that there's much cheerful news today. Uganda has announced that it will pull its soldiers out of the African Union force in Somalia if the mandate of the Somalian interim government isn't extended for another year. The worry is that going to a vote would give insurgents the time they need to reorganize and retake lost territory. Honestly though, given that the interim government controls mere blocks within a single city, how long could a vote possibly take? You could probably conduct it by strolling door to door.

With all the troubles going on in the Third World and developing countries, I think it's safe to file this as a First World problem.

Well, I guess this is something to be cautiously cheerful about: Congress is finally, hesitatingly, haltingly growing a pair. Two resolutions have been proposed (by a Democrat and a Republican no less), demanding that the executive branch explain what the hell we're doing in Libya, what it's going to cost, what our goals are, and why the President has been in flagrant violation of the War Powers Act, which demands an end to hostilities after 60 days without congressional approval (a deadline that was passed May 20th). Naturally there's some push back from the executive:

“It sends an unhelpful message of disunity and uncertainty to our troops, our allies and, most importantly, the Qaddafi regime,” Mr. Morrell said. He also warned that the Kucinich measure could harm American relations with NATO allies contributing troops to Afghanistan.

No, no and no. What it sends is a message that the President is not above the law, especially those explicitly pertaining to him. If he wants his war, he has to get approval from the elected representatives of the people. It's just that simple.

Meanwhile, the FBI toils on along with the NYPD to protect the decent people of this country from the insidious scourge that is poker. Clearly, not a complete waste of resources.

The city of Pittsburgh is pretty strapped for cash right now. Recently, the fees for parking skyrocketed to $3 an hour. What else can our city do to collect revenue? Oh right: tickets. Let's be polite and not call this a "shake down". Let's just smile and accept that they really do want to protect us from ourselves and collecting fines is merely incidental.

This however, is legitimate. Even assuming that he really did have a change of heart, the bottom line is that he terrorized a poor couple. Absolutely he should be charged and held. The excuse that he suddenly realized that armed robbery is wrong doesn't hold much water.

Kacee Bait: I hear they make some pretty good chili too.

Cymotrichous. May I have a definition, please?

Close call. I'm glad we dodged this bullet. Edwards certainly was not presidential material as it turns out.

Certainly though, Edwards isn't the only man having his day in court. Ratko Mladic has described the charges against him as "obnoxious". Now, stink bugs...Those are obnoxious. Charges of genocide? I think that those deserve a stronger adjective. The hunt for Mladic is detailed here.

Seeing red.

Wired takes a look at the DC Comics reboot. I know it's meant to be funny but actually, I really like their idea for Batman. In fact, I like it a lot.

As long as you nerds are fired up about comic books, I might as well throw a bit more red-meat your way and give you a chance to do some stargazing.

I mentioned in yesterdays Morning Blog that the British are having quite a bit of fun with cyber-warfare. I didn't realize that it was delicious, tasty fun to boot! Hopefully, one of the recipes isn't for a chocolate bombe.

They don't make 'em like they used to: A gallery of vintage travel posters.

A picture says a 1,000 words.

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