Monday, January 24, 2005

Maybe Saddam’s plumber still has some of those gold bidets in stock


While doing my evening trawl through the British press tonight, I’ve seen articles about scared Iraqi election workers who hide their identities, scared Iraqi security men (“even in the hospital ward they refused to remove their black ski masks as they were treated by doctors”), and scared Iraqi candidates (“They are being told how to campaign for the election without getting killed. The instructions are simple - avoid public places and do not reveal your identity, the cleric advised. Most candidates should stay at home as much as possible, he added.”) The entire country is in witness protection.

The Indy points out the problem with banning all cars before and during the elections: insurgents know that any moving car is likely to contain people connected with the election. There really is a very fine line in Iraq between elections and free-fire zones, isn’t there?

Shrub used to like to say that Saddam Hussein built palaces instead of schools and hospitals. Today, the US announced plans for a new $1.5 billion embassy.

Back in the continent no one’s paying attention to right now, the former head of the US Army’s Southern Command accused Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez of funding Bolivian opposition parties and providing a haven for (Colombian) FARC training camps, while Chávez accuses the US of being behind Colombia’s kidnapping of a FARC leader from Caracas. This reminds me so much of the mid-1980s, when it was the US, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica.

I was going to write something asking why Yushchenko should be “wooing” Putin, when Putin should be apologizing for interfering in Ukrainian elections (see if you think this counts: “we did only that which was asked of us by the Ukrainian Government”). But then Pock-Faced Mr. Y appointed as his prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, the “Gas Princess,” who is actually wanted in Russia on charges of having bribed officials, and has talked about exporting the Orange Revolution to Russia. Interestingly, though, her first language is Russian rather than Ukrainian.

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