Monday, July 31, 2006

Random News & Views Roundup

- On the heel of the news that Fidel Castro has handed over power to his brother Raul while he undergoes intestinal surgery, pandemonium has broken out in the Little Havana district of Miami.

People waved Cuban flags on Little Havana's Calle Ocho, shouting "Cuba, Cuba, Cuba," hoping that the end was near for the man most of them consider a ruthless dictator. There were hugs, cheers and dancing as drivers honked their horns. Many of Miami's exiles fled the communist island or have parents and grandparents who did.

Newsweek has more on how Raul Castro would govern.

- Texas Democrats are in court trying to keep Tom DeLay's name on the November ballot. Republicans, of course want DeLay's name to be history after all of the shenanigans he's pulled. It looks like the Dems will win and DeLay will get the public flogging he deserves.

- Note to American lefty bloggers: Enough with the Lieberman/Lamont daily postings! Holy crap. Yes, it would be great if Lamont wins, but by now everybody and their dog knows where to send money to support Lamont. And, let's get serious here, Lieberman's defeat would be sweet but this is about a Democrat replacing a Democrat which will not affect the outcome of the November election. Why not focus more on Dems who need help defeating Republicans? (not that American bloggers ever listen what I have to say...I just had to say it...)

- Jimmy Carter in a Washington Post editorial:

It is inarguable that Israel has a right to defend itself against attacks on its citizens, but it is inhumane and counterproductive to punish civilian populations in the illogical hope that somehow they will blame Hamas and Hezbollah for provoking the devastating response. The result instead has been that broad Arab and worldwide support has been rallied for these groups, while condemnation of both Israel and the United States has intensified.

Israel belatedly announced, but did not carry out, a two-day cessation in bombing Lebanon, responding to the global condemnation of an air attack on the Lebanese village of Qana, where 57 civilians were killed this past weekend and where 106 died from the same cause 10 years ago. As before there were expressions of "deep regret," a promise of "immediate investigation" and the explanation that dropped leaflets had warned families in the region to leave their homes. The urgent need in Lebanon is that Israeli attacks stop, the nation's regular military forces control the southern region, Hezbollah cease as a separate fighting force, and future attacks against Israel be prevented. Israel should withdraw from all Lebanese territory, including Shebaa Farms, and release the Lebanese prisoners. Yet yesterday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected a cease-fire.

These are ambitious hopes, but even if the U.N. Security Council adopts and implements a resolution that would lead to such an eventual solution, it will provide just another band-aid and temporary relief. Tragically, the current conflict is part of the inevitably repetitive cycle of violence that results from the absence of a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, exacerbated by the almost unprecedented six-year absence of any real effort to achieve such a goal.



- Gunfire :

SEOUL (Reuters) - North and South Korean troops along their heavily fortified border exchanged gunfire for the first time in about a year, a military official said on Tuesday, with the incident coming as once-warming ties have turned chilly.

North Korean troops fired two shots at a South Korean guard post near the Demilitarized Zone late on Monday and South Korean troops returned six shots, an official said by telephone.

"No one was injured in the incident," the Joint Chiefs of Staff official said referring to South Korean troops. There was no word if any North Korean soldiers were hurt.

And you probably didn't hear about the fact that North Korea test fired up to 4 long range missiles on Monday, since everybody's so focused on the Middle East and this isn't the fourth of July, like the last time around. It looks like Kim Jong-Il may be a bit pissed off that Israel and Lebanon are getting all of the attention while he's been pushed to the backburner again. 'Hello?? Over here! Firing missiles!!! Hello??'

- While a few Democrats have signed a letter asking for a timeline for troop withdrawals from Iraq, Bush is busy sending more soldiers over there. The letter is short on specifics though and was only signed by 14 Dems.

- Speaking of Iraq: Some Thoughts about Colonialism on Day 1,230 of the Iraq Occupation.

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