Bayou Calvinist

A Somewhat Eclectic Discussion by a Law Student Concerning All of Today's Major Topics, as well as, a Few Not So Major Topics

Friday, January 06, 2006

News of Interest to Me and a Little Commentary on the Side

In what is perhaps one of the most consequential stories in recent days, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon remains in coma following several surgeries aimed at saving the political giant from the massive stroke and the fate which eventually awaits us all. Regardless of whether Sharon survives, he is unlikely to recover to a level allowing him to play any significant role in Israeli politics. In the immediate term it seems that the greatest political impact of his prostration, will be the fall of his new centrist political party Kadima in the upcoming parliamentary elections. In the long run, his absence places his strategic peace plan of withdrawal and overwhelming defensive build up in the balance. Several good articles on the many implications and many lessons to be taken from this man's fascinating life and its abrupt end can be found: here, here, here, and here.

On the ever increasing list of reasons to be weary of the "China is democratizing" talk, add the following two stories in today's news:
1) Local officials in China's Shandong Province have hired club-wielding goons to keep
a blind activist and his family in line, after the man telephoned international
newspapers to inform them of his country's policy of forcing certain undesirable
pregnancies to be aborted against the intentions of the mother.
2) Working with American corporate giant Microsoft, China shuts down a blog run by
New York Times Beijing reporter, which discussed "sensitive" political issues facing China.

U.S.-German relations may see a much needed improvement with the rise of the new government in Berlin. Many suspect that while there will be few substantial changes in U.S. or German policies, there seems to be plenty of evidence that the style of diplomacy will change for the better.

The new list from Men's Health is out and it seems that America's fittest city is Baltimore and its fattest is Chicago (no surprise there). But for the first time I can remember New Orleans doesn't even make the top 20 fattest city list. I would be interested in seeing whether the timing of the survey (read Katrina) had anything to do with these results. In related news, it appears that us Americans and our erstwhile French brethren may be on the way to sharing something else in common (the first thing being our hatred of British cuisine). Speaking of New Orleans, perhaps a return to normalcy is not that far away, afterall.

From the world of South American politics, it appears there is yet another reason to hate Chavez on par with Castro. And if there lucky soon Bolivia too will be able to challenge Cuba for having the worst dictator in the Western Hemisphere. Before anyone responds, I do realize that it's arguable that Chavez is a dictator (though arguing against this proposition is becoming slowly more difficult), and Morales has yet to do anything dictator-ish (but give him time he hasn't had the chance yet).

It appears even former members of his own party no longer like the Syrian dictator-king Assad much anymore.

An absolutely fabulous piece touching on the difficulties found in both the Departments of State and Defense in fighting the war on terrorism, by Tony Corn in the latest issue of Policy Review.

Apparently G.W. isn't the only world leader crazy enough to believe that Missile Defense is a good idea (and no I am not talking about the ghost of Reagan). It seems pretty logical to me that those countries (Japan) which are closest to the nuclear missile threat would be the first (other than the forward looking Bush) to see the benefits of a missile defense system. And for all of you wandering to yourselves "but hasn't this guy heard of the argument that such a defense system would destroy the deterrence scheme that has protected us for so long", the answer is yes, I have heard of that argument--I took a class on international security which spent a good deal of time perpetuating that argument--and I don't buy it. I believe that MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), as the end all be all of nuclear threat defense, was passed over a long time ago due to changes in both technology and new security threats. But thank you for your concern.

Steven Spielberg's increasingly controversial take on Israel's response to the massacre of their athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic games is considered in these two articles today. Both disagree with his take but for different reasons.


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