The White House issued a statement that Bush expressed his “sincere condolences” over the earthquake + tidal waves disaster. Isn’t it nice that they specify when he’s being sincere? Wonder how they know?
9.0! I mean, I live in California, where the state sport is guessing the exact magnitude of earthquakes within the shortest time possible after they occur, but 9.0, shit.
Dave Barry’s year in review.
The WaPo has a story about the US increasing its aid for Laos’s efforts to clean up unexploded bombs from “laughable” to “a pittance.” Now when I last wrote about this, nearly 6 years ago, I had the tidbit that the US (whose bombs these are, not only because we made Laos the most bombed nation in the history of the world but because American pilots that aborted their bombing runs to North Vietnam simply dropped their bombs on Laos so they wouldn’t have to land with bombs on board) had consistently refused to tell Laos how to defuse the bombs, making the process that much more difficult.
Uzbekistan’s elections were today and were very exciting, except for the no-opposition-parties-allowed-on-the-ballot thing. But according to President-for-Life Karimov, there is no “real” opposition anyway: “When someone artificially argues that we have not registered some opposition parties that were claiming to do something, let’s be objective.” Think that would work in Iraq?
Asked about the Sunni boycott, which seems to be increasingly worrisome to the very American officials who wrote the very Iraqi election laws that are creating all the problems (distributing seats not according to population but according to votes cast), Colin Powell voices his optimism: “If it was nobody at all [voting in Sunni regions], I think that would be problematic. But I don’t expect it to be nobody at all.” They really don’t know how to respond to a boycott that was predictable. Here’s one unnamed US official: “The Sunnis would have to live with their own decisions if they boycott. Do they really want … a civil war against a Shia population that outnumbers them 3 to 1?” They’re willing to take on the US military, so yeah, I don’t think they’re that worried about, say, the guys we’ve recruited into the Iraqi police and military.