Sunday, December 21, 2003

What Brazilian nuns pray for

Rumsfeld’s famous 1984 trip to see Saddam Hussein, according to declassified documents, was made to assure him that US criticism of his use of chemical weapons was just rhetoric that didn’t affect US support of him. This is the exact opposite of what Rumsfeld has said the trip was about.

How do we know Libya is keeping its promise to give up WMDs? Because of weapons inspectors. Bush has always believed strongly in the efficacy of weapons inspectors and we have always been at war with Oceania.

A figure I missed from the Russian Duma elections: 4.7% voted for of the above, a record. And turnout was 55%. Putin may have a little problem when it comes to his re-election: for the election to be valid, turnout must be 50%, and he’s got no serious rival, thanks to his having destroyed the nascent democratic culture of post-Soviet Russia, and voters will make the entirely reasonable decision not to bother. So it’s expected that Putin might funnel enough backing to some other candidate to make it look like a real election (which seems to be what happened in the Duma elections, where a “left-nationalist” party appeared out of nowhere).

Pope John Paul II has created an almost ridiculous number of saints, many of them political figures. This week they’ve started beatifying the last Austro-Hungarian emperor. You have to wonder if they actually believe in the rather large number of “miracles” they’ve had to certify, in this case a Brazilian nun who was cured of some disease after praying for Charles I’s beatification. Why a Brazilian nun was praying for Charles I’s beatification, I really couldn’t tell you.

In other royalty news, a certain lump passed around for 200 years has been identified by DNA as indeed being the heart of the French sort-of-king Louis XVII, who died miserably in a revolutionary prison at the age of 10.

And in yet more royalty news, Princess Di was evidently pregnant when she died.

Remember the Kabul-to-Kandahar road? It was the only thing Karzai’s government has been able to accomplish outside of the capital, and hence a great symbol. Evidently it was done on the cheap and its surface is very thin and won’t survive the winter.

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