Friday, February 26, 2010

Since someone asked...

...there's not much good to say about double-dealing agreement-breaking already-invaded-once Argentina in regard to the latest developments in the Falkland Islands.

...but there is far less good to say about the American government's stance on the issue. In fact, just to point out how *idiotic* the Obama administration (and in particular the State Department) is being, here's a "fun fact" for you:

The British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands is a slightly *better* claim, as such things are considered, than the American sovereignty over the Florida Keys.

The only significant difference is that neither Cuba nor Spain chose to "reserve their claim" as a condition to joining the United Nations... Argentina expressly did so regarding the Falkland Islands, and any time an Argentine government makes a mess of things domestically, they haul out this old canard and pray for a nationalist frenzy to bail them out.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Freedom for Iran: 22 Bahman

22 Bahman, or February 11th, is the anniversary of the 1979 Khomeinist Revolution in Iran. Officially, it is an unparalleled national holiday.

Unofficially, today is confrontation day.

Yesterday, Iran set the tone by shutting down most text message and low-bandwidth internet feeds, and then announced a permanent ban on Google's GMail service, all trying to cut the cable on news getting out about today's events.

Just to show they are still in the game, the U.S. Department of the Treasury set a new round of sanctions on Pasdaran (IRGC) entities and one IRGC official under E.O.13382, the authorization to sanction Proliferators of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The Iranian Government announced further uranium enrichment activities, taking LEU (3~5% fissionable) stock up to 20%... not quite bomb grade, but so close as to be within trivial reach. For a simple enough explanation of how nearly trivial, I'd recommend ArmsControlWonk's presentation on the matter.

The usual ranting and raving by the Ahmadinejad regime has also been on full display, and huge numbers of regime supporters (well, rent-a-mobs, but government paid) have turned out for the show at pro-government rallies. Here's a review of the situation from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

In one bright note, however, the "Green Movement" anti-regime protesters are out in strength. The cost is pretty high, though. You can follow one of the better sources on the protests at The Guardian (UK) live 'blog of the day. RFE/RL's Transmission 'blog is also being updated in near real-time.

There well may be more coming of all this...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Morning Push

Here we go, with another weekend open. Obligations have made things a bit hectic, and will continue to do so for a couple more days. (Rounds that were only Tuesday are now split between Monday and Tuesday... twice the drive time for the same number of working hours... can't be helped, though.)

This thread is left open for comments if you have any topics you'd like discussed, or suggestions as to things to look into in more detail here. The usual rules still apply: Play Nice.

As always, thank you all for coming here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Watching Venezuela

There are all sorts of reports coming in off social networks and sources that today (the 4th) is going to be another big round of protests against the Chavez regime.

A more deserving target is hard to imagine:

Besides the mismanagement of the entire utility system of the country, and all the dictatorial moves against the media and public discourse...

Besides the fact that the economy as a whole is gasping and wheezing...

Besides land seizures that make Venezuela a copy of Mugabe's Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) complete with the land taken "in the name of reform" being given to members of the party elite...

Besides all the senseless sabre-rattling against threats imagined...

... besides all that, there is the very real perception that Hugo Chavez is just the front man for the Cuban Government. The latest example being held up about that being the appointment of Ramiro Valdés Menéndez of Cuba as an advisor to Chavez... supposedly as a technology expert there to help solve the electrical utility problems. That would be *this* Ramiro Valdés Menéndez.

This is simply madness.

The people of Venezuela know it, too.

The only questions are:

...will they go out in the streets against the guns of the regime and its militia?

...and if they do, will the regular Army stand with the regime or with the people?


More on this as word comes in.

I didn't mention it above, but the significance of the day is that Feb. 4th 1992 is the date of Hugo-and-friends failed attempted military coup against the Carlos Andres Perez government... so for his team, this is an honored day...

Fausta's podcast is all about this, today. As always, I recommend it.


One heck of an election

This has been "fun" week in the election in Ukraine...

We got off to a great start with the definition of a one-sided debate as Y. Tymoshenko got left appearing alone when rival V. Yanukovych refused to attend their scheduled televised debate. Let's just say Ms. Yulia didn't let the opportunity go to waste.

Then, in an unrelated-but-timely event, the Intelligence Service of Ukraine bagged five Russian spies redhanded, expelling four and holding an Russian FSB Colonel on charges of espionage.

And then, with V. Yanukovych's lead, the Parliament of Ukraine passed a new law "...on February 3 eliminates the need for candidates' representatives to supervise vote-counting at individual polling stations", which was promptly answered by the Tymoshenko camp with the threat of mass protests if there is the hint of election fraud.

Election day is February 7th. Hang on to your hats, folks. It's going to be a ride.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Freedom for Iran: Mousavi makes a challenge

It is looking more and more like the "Green Movement" is gearing up for a heck of an Anniversary-of-the-Revolution party on February 11th.

The latest indication comes from M.H. Mousavi, who has now made an open challenge to the regime:
In a statement posted on his website, Mr Mousavi said the 1979 Islamic revolution had failed to achieve most of its goals.

He said politically motivated arrests of protesters were illegal and more should be done to secure people's rights.
This is not going to go over well at all with the regime, to say the least. But it may just be that the time has come for open confrontation...

History books are full of well-intended but unsuccessful insurrections. What differentiates the rare case of success is a combination of at least (1) preparation; (2) regime vulnerability; (3) an unwillingness of at least some of the authorities to crush dissent; and (4) whole lot of good fortune.

Here's hoping that those bases that can be covered are covered, and that fortune favors the insurrection.