Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"McCain-Clinton Gas Tax Holiday"

[I love this. This is yet another good example of why Obama will be so much better as president.]

McCain and Clinton, who apparently are coordinating their policies now, have proposed that the 18.4 cent federal gas tax be lifted for the summer to help people get through the summer.

Only one problem. (Well, actually many.) It seems that many economists have come out against the "plan" because the temporary price decrease would increase demand, which would drive the price right back up and, instead of the money going to the federal fund that is used to build and maintain roads and bridges, it will go to oil companies, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, and Iraq (who will bank it and continue to let us pay for their reconstruction. Sorry, off topic). Tom Friedman pounds on it too.

Anybody remember right before the 2006 mid-term elections when the Republicans, desperate to maintain their majorities in Congress, tried to push through a pander-rific $300 gas rebate? It was shut down pretty quickly as voters were quick to recognize that what was going on was attempted vote buying, not responsible policy making.

Well, McCain-Clinton seem to be going to that well again.

This is one of the most insanely idiotic proposals that I have ever heard. (But at least it is bipartisan idiocy.) What a couple of mavericks. The best part is that I read several articles that called it the "McCain-Clinton" plan.

That seems appropriate since they are acting like they are running mates anyway.

Here's their opponent, looking like a president (an honest - we haven't seen that in a while):

Shillary W. Clinton, ready to say and do anything to be elected on day 1 (or day 2, or day 3, or hell, pick a day and tell her what you want her to say - I'm sure she'll oblige).

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Chinese Factory Makes "Free Tibet" Flags


Monday, April 28, 2008

Zimbabwe Update and What You Can Do

[I was away from my computer for the weekend so I missed some significant developments.]

The two factions of the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) announced today that they are reuniting to work as a combined front against Mugabe. This comes after recount results showed that MDC has won a majority in parliament.

Also, the Secretary General of MDC is going to address the U.N. Security council tomorrow. Hopefully, this will help spur the U.N. to action. (However, with Mugabe arms supplier China on the Security Council, I doubt anything significant will come from this. It does help to raise the profile of the issue, which will hopefully shame China - again, not likely.)

Finally, on my last post, I had a comment from the proprietor of the Zimbabwean blog Scotch Cart in Harare North (who I have added to my blogroll). Some of these action items are too late to do (Sorry!) but many are not - especially contacting the embassies.
"Despair is our biggest enemy.

Please do one small thing today to help.
1. Email the SA Embassy protesting the deportation of Zimbabweans back to Zimbabwe (follow This is Zimbabwe for details)
2. Email the USA embassy in China on a fyi basis to tell them what is happening. There is a big British delegation over there right now.
3. Email everyone you know in SA to ask them what they think. It raises consciousness. Ditto in all African countries.
4. If you are a member of a church, join the world wide prayer day for Zimbabwe on Sunday. Awareness helps.
5. If you are part of other organizations, consider how you can help.

Civil action turned away a ship that had travelled across the globe. This has had an enormous effect. It only takes good people to speak up for good to prevail.

Thanks for thinking of us and giving us blog space. 'God be with you'."
And also with you...

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Mugabe's Crackdown Begins in Earnest

Bad news. So, the question is, what is the rest of the world going to do?

I'm guessing nothing, and sadly, Zimbabwe could make Kenya look mild by comparison.


See "This is Zimbabwe" for more updates.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shotgun Blast

I've got a lot of stuff bouncing around in my head today but I'm feeling to lazy to put together coherent stories or arguments. So, I'm going to use a shotgun approach and try to hit as many things as possible:

Apparently, Bush personally told Ariel Sharon that the U.S. would be OK with Israel expanding West Bank settlements. The illegal expansion of West Bank settlements being one of the main barriers to a two-state solution.

My take: Thanks again, genius.

Muqtada al-Sadr is contemplating pulling back from politics and letting the Mahdi militia go back to full out war on U.S. and Iraqi troops.

My take: Can you say "Surge II: Breaking the Army"? Seriously, the Iranians must just giggle themselves to sleep every night. I'll bet the only thing that scares them is the thought of a new U.S. president.

McCain "condemned" an ad planned by the North Carolina Republican party that shows excerpts from Rev. Jeremiah Wright's inflammatory sermons.
My take: Bull$#!#.

The new Farm Bill is being debated and is going to be delayed again.

My take: Food prices are at record highs and the U.S. government is going to give billions of tax dollars to a few, very rich farmers. The push for more corn and soy bean based fuel seems to be aggravating food shortages around the world. This whole thing is so depressing and because it is filed under "Farm Bill", which most people don't give a damn about, it won't even register. People should be as pissed about this as they are about tax breaks for the oil companies.

And finally, Clinton can't win.

My take: She needs to win 68% of the remaining delegates. Ain't gonna happen. Math doesn't lie.

Nebraska's doing its part

Robb will be proud to see this.......

A delegate update from MSNBC.

Relevant excerpt:

Audra Ostergard, the lone remaining Nebraska superdelegate, publicly endorsed Obama, per a campaign release. Obama now has the backing of all six Nebraska superdelegates.

Good on you, Huskers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Torture & Genocide in Zimbabwe

Things continue to spiral downward in Zimbabwe.

Leaders of the churches of Zimbabwe have released a united plea for help to resolve the electoral crisis. They say that people are being kidnapped and tortured by Mugabe's surrogates and that, if it isn't checked soon, the violence could escalate to the level of genocide. (History has shown that genocide in Africa is not uncommon and, unfortunately, is mostly ignored by the rest of the world. Hopefully, this pattern won't continue in Zimbabwe.)

For visual evidence of the torture that is going on see here. [WARNING: GRAPHIC] People are being beaten with chains and set on fire.

Independent election monitors have declared that the recount is being rigged. This is particularly telling considering monitors were not nearly as critical of the original election.

He's stealing it, folks, and (more) people are going to die. "Never again" sounds more hollow every day.

Update: The BBC has a video report on the violence in Zimbabwe.

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PA Election Prediction

Clinton will win.

By a little or a lot doesn't matter because she won't drop out even if Obama wins.

We'll just keep having primaries until the end of time.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chinese Arms Now to Be Flown to Zimbabwe

[Like I said, the Chinese don't give up easily...]

According to more reports from Southern Africa, now that the cargo ship carrying weapons from China (to help Mugabe finish stealing the election) is roaming international waters trying to avoid seizure by local authorities, a new shipment of arms is going to be flown into Zimbabwe.

If at first you don't succeed...

Seriously, I know I've said this before but how do we let China get away with this crap? Are we too beholden to them? Why can't we even try to make them act like adults on the world stage? People are dying and more will die if these weapons get to their intended customer. They are totally irresponsible.

Why are we their bitches?

Update: Apparently, the Bush administration has been pressuring southern African countries to not accept the shipment. That's great. Now why don't they try to cut off the source? (See above bitches comment.)

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

McCain: And He Was BY FAR the Best Republican Candidate

This morning, John McCain was on "This Week" with George "quantify the strength of another person's feelings toward a somewhat abstract concept and compare to the strength of your own feelings toward that same concept" Stephanopolous. (That is a much more complicated, albeit accurate, nickname than when I used to call him George Snuffleupagus.)

It really brought into focus how much my opinion of McCain has been diminished during his presidential campaign.

My favorite moment was when McCain argued (I don't have access to the exact quote, but the gist is) that an increase in fees to people on (I believe) Medicaid should not be viewed as a tax increase because it is a fee, not a tax.

I seem to remember one of the Republican primary debates where McCain lit into Mitt Romney, saying that the increases in fees that the state of Massachusetts charged for things like signs for McDonald's on the interstate were, according to McCain, actually taxes because he was sure they felt like taxes to the people who had to pay them. But, apparently, McCain can throw down a "fee increase" and that isn't a tax because he says it a fee. Just one of the many examples of the new "I'll do anything to be president" McCain. Sound familiar, Hillary fans?

In other McCain shouldn't president news, check out his economic cred:

Oh, and he's also apparently a bit of a rage-aholic (i.e., he's addicted to rage-ahol).


Evening Chuckle: Danny Boy


Chinese Arms for Mugabe Update

It looks like the Chinese ship, An Yue Jiang, that is carrying a shipment of weapons to Zimbabwe, will not have enough fuel to make it to Angola. The South African government is being urged to seize the ship when it comes to port for more fuel.

We will see...

Stop Chinese weapons reaching Zimbabwe

PS: The MDC says that ten people have been killed and 500 more injured in retaliatory attacks meant to intimidate the opposition.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

China Looks for Any Port in Zimbabwean Storm

Apparently, the shipment of arms from China to Mugabe has left South Africa and is looking for another port to be offloaded and delivered to Zimbabwe. Mozambique will not allow it to dock; so, it is believed to be headed toward Angola.

The Chinese don't give up easily...

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Edwards and Obama on Colbert


Thursday, April 17, 2008

China-Mugabe Arms Shipment Update

South Africa deserves better than Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki has decided that the South African government will not keep the Chinese weapons shipment (that I wrote about yesterday) from being delivered to the Zimbabwean government (emphasis mine):
"The ship, the An Yue Jiang, has been given clearance to dock in Durban and, according to the government, the 77t shipment of rocket-propelled grenades, mortar bombs and AK-47 ammunition will not be prevented from being sent to Zimbabwe."
Fortunately, the South African people aren't Mugabe-whores like Mbeki:
"SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) general secretary Randall Howard said: 'Satawu does not agree with the position of the South African government not to intervene with this shipment of weapons.'

'Our members employed at Durban Container Terminal will not unload this cargo neither will any of our members in the truck driving sector move this cargo by road.'"
It is always heartening to see that the people (unsurprisingly) have more sense than their leaders and have the conviction to defy the immoral decision of their government. Bravo. (I hope the PRC is paying attention because civil disobedience is coming their way soon...)

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Chinese Are Sending Weapons to Mugabe to Help His Crackdown

That is the word on the Zimbabwean blogosphere and also on Reuters.

These weapons are ostensibly meant to help China's man in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, head off his electoral troubles and reassert his authority in the same brutal way that he has ruled with for years and that the Chinese favor themselves in their own country (see Tibet).

This isn't the first shipment of weapons from Beijing to Harare but the timing of it is ominous. The Chinese are quite satisfied with their relationship with Mugabe and tend to favor stability and status quo in their allies - no matter what the cost. So, to them, regime change would be most unwelcome.

I have asked "Is China Good for Africa?" [See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, and part 7.] I think it is pretty clear that China is NOT good for Zimbabwe.

How long is the world going to put up with this crap? When we will stop kissing their ass and calling it ice cream? Not soon enough.

But hey, let's all enjoy the Olympics (with our mouths shut), right?

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Evening Chuckle: Mahna-Mahna

Only one word for this: solid.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

The News Is Broke. Please Fox Fix It.

Anonymoustache has a great post about how all the big time news organizations have devolved into steaming piles of poop.

And Armchair Generalist has posted The Daily Show's expose on why Fox News sucks.

Both well worth checking out.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"There is no crisis in Zimbabwe."

So says South African President (and all around waste of space) Thabo Mbeki.

That was his declaration after meeting with Robert Mugabe prior to today's SADC regional meeting on the subject of the Zimbabwean presidential election, which has now gone two weeks without results being released. Violent intimidation and reprisals against Mugabe's opponents are the order of the day in Zimbabwe as he prepares to once again unlawfully cling to power. Apparently, though, all is well. So, thanks for the help, Mbeki. Why don't you go give another speech about how HIV doesn't cause AIDS?

Hopefully, the SADC will actually come out with a strong rebuke against Mugabe but, with Mbeki present and Mugabe not, and their history of hero-worshipping Mugabe, I doubt it.

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Cyber Dogs Fighting Terrorism in Israel

I am doing some research into the CDC's BioSense biosurveillance program (probably more on that later) and, whilst checking Google for information on it, I stumbled on an Israeli company called Bio-Sense. They claim to have a product that can distinguish between dog barks of alarm and all other types.

According to the site, "Nature and technology, cooperating and improving each other's performance, have finally generated the ultimate security solution."

Also according to the site, the "DogGuard System" is already being employed in the Israel Prisons Service and other government sites.

I have no real comment on this. I just thought it was a cool thing to accidentally find. (I love the Internets.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Things Keep Getting Worse

The Mugabe crackdown in preparation to steal a run off election (or just finish stealing the original one) continues as the Zimbabwean police have banned political rallies.

That says free and fair elections, don't it?

In response to the continued delay in the release of the election results, the MDC has called for a general strike across Zimbabwe.

Oh, and Mugabe will not be attending the emergency regional summit to attempt to resolve the electoral crisis. Considering that the ostensible point of the summit was to pressure Mugabe to accept the loss, this is a bad sign.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

China's Perfect $#!#storm

I am really enjoying all the outcry and protests around the Olympic flame as it slouches towards Beijing but I have not written about my delicious schadenfreude yet.

I have always thought it was stupid that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ever gave China the Olympics in the first place and was just another example of everyone lying down for the PRC. But now? Now, it could hardly be working out worse for PRC leadership! This was supposed to be China's coming out party as a world power but it has ended up looking more like China is on an episode of "My Super Sweet 16". (Yes, I have seen that show and it nearly as soul crushing and the PRC.) They are being exposed as the petulant children that they are. The well-timed Tibetan protests (as well as in other restive provinces) have shown how the PRC runs China.

Iron fist. No dissent. Nothing to see here.

Unfortunately, for them, there is plenty to see.

I am glad to see that the IOC has said that athletes competing in Beijing will be able to speak freely while there (other than the actual Chinese athletes, of course). However, considering the IOC is basically a bunch of whores, I will need to see that to believe it. Good luck, NBC.

I was all for a boycott but I think having the athletes speak out in Beijing or staging protests on the medal stand will be much more powerful than just not showing up (although, I think everyone - heads of state as well as athletes - should boycott the opening ceremonies).

I will certainly watch way more of this Olympics than I have of any other in recent memory just to see what embarrasses the PRC leadership next, and believe me there will be plenty more to come. Now is the greatest opportunity Chinese dissidents have had since Tiananmen Square. Let's hope this public shaming will pressure the PRC into opening up life for the Chinese people (not to mention the Tibetan people).

But don't hold your breath (although, in Beijing, you may WANT to hold your breath).

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MDC Plans to Boycott Presidential Run-Off

Apparently, Morgan Tsvangirai and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have decided that they will boycott any presidential run-off.

I am unaware of any time that boycotting an election has not been a huge mistake for the boycotting party. (E.g., Sunni's in Iraq, opposition parties in Venezuela.)

Even if the election is going to be stolen, MAKE THEM STEAL IT! Do not just roll over. It'll be rough, no question, but so is the alternative.

On the other hand, attending the emergency regional summit is the right move. Everyone knows Mugabe stole the election; hopefully, the heads of state of the other countries in the region will have the sack to call him on it. (Spoiler: Don't expect that from South Africa's Thabo Mbeki.)

PS: If you want to see how Mugabe actually steals an election, see here and here. WARNING: Graphic images.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dream Ticket Showdown!

CNN breathlessly reported today on a head-to-head match-up between a John McCain/Condi Rice ticket vs. a Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama (or Obama/Clinton) ticket.

According to the poll, McCain/Rice would beat Clinton/Obama 49-46, and would beat Obama/Clinton 49-44.


Stunning because this is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.


1. Obama as VP to the person he's consistently beating? That'll happen.

2. Clinton has no chance to be Obama's running mate. She would be like a lead albatross. (I love mixing metaphors!)

3. Condi Rice? Based on her role in the Bush administration, she either easily surrenders her authority or she is grossly incompetent (these two are not mutually exclusive, btw). Let's just remind everybody about the Bush administration and what a wonderful ride it has been (and she is one of the few that have been there the ENTIRE time). That'll go over well in a "change" election. (See lead albatross.)

While we are discussing "dream tickets", I have a couple of match-ups I would like to see polled, perhaps in a state, like New York, that is so representative that the results could be extrapolated to rest of the country (let's say Utah).

Batman/Santa Claus vs. Jack Bauer/Snoopy


Boss Hogg/John Shaft vs. Silent Bob/Sam the Eagle (from the Muppet Show)


Master Shake/Faberge Eggs vs. General Zod*/Mustard

(Please vote your conscience in the comments...)

*Apparently, General Zod actually is running this cycle! (I love Google.)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Zimbabwe High Court Rules in Favor of MDC

Tuesday the High Court in Zimbabwe ruled on a petition filed by the MDC. They found that the opposition's case was, in fact, urgent and that they would begin hearing arguments right away.

MDC lawyers had originally been blocked by Mugabe loyalists from entering the courthouse to present their petition.

I hope that the court will rule that the results from the March 29 elections should be released immediately. However, even if they do, I doubt that Mugabe's appointees in the Zimbabwean Election Commission would heed such a ruling.

Meanwhile, ZANU-PF has begun their process of violent intimidation in preparation for a run-off and the MDC has warned of impending, widespread violence.

10 days since Mugabe lost the elections and counting...

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Evening Chuckle: Wing Commander Basil Morningwood

[It has been too long since I have done this.]

This was one of the funniest bits I have seen on "The Daily Show" in a while.

PS: I am now #1 on Google when searching "Basil Morningwood"!


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mugabe Asks for Recount; Opposition Asks for Original Count to Be Released

Seriously though, isn't it customary to know what the results are before you ask for a re-count?

If this doesn't prove that Mugabe lost, nothing will (short of, say, the actual vote tallies, of course).

Meanwhile, the MDC is going to court to attempt to force the Zimbabwe Election Commission to release the results of the presidential poll.

More waiting...

This is interesting. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has offered aid to Zimbabwe if the results of the election are fair.

I like Rudd. I saw him give a talk on China at the Brookings Institute when he was still "Shadow" Prime Minister. Unfortunately, if Mugabe or ZANU-PF cared about the quality of life in Zimbabwe (for anyone other than themselves), they would have shown it by now. They certainly will not give up their grip on power to prove it.

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Tsvangirai Claims Zim Presidential Victory; Final Senate Results

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangiral has declared himself the victor in the Zimbabwean presidential poll despite the lack of official results one week after the election.

The opposition does not want to have to contest a run-off because of the near certitude that the ruling party would result to voter intimidation and outright violence to gain Mugabe another term as president. It is widely believed Tsvangirai would win a free and fair election against Mugabe in a landslide. Tsvangirai has also called for transition talks with Mugabe and has intimated that he would be safe from recriminations.

The final results of the election for the Zimbabwe Senate has been released and, big surprise, it is a tie:

MDC (combined): 30

The Senate also has 33 other seats. [From "This is Zimbabwe" blog:]
"The Senate is actually made up of a total of 93 Senators:

* 60 directly elected by voters in 60 constituencies;
* 5 Senators appointed by the President;
* 10 Provincial Governors;
* 18 chiefs – 16 elected by fellow chiefs, plus the President and Deputy President of the Council of Chiefs ex officio."
P.S. South African President Thabo Mbeki continues to prove that he is one of the worst heads of state in the world. According to him, everything is just fine in Zimbabwe. This fits with his pattern of preferring incompetent dogmatics over competent, evidence-based leaders.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Zim Senate Results; Still No President

Zimbabwean Senate Results:

MDC (combined): 23

Still no presidential poll results, but it looks like Mugabe is prepping for (stealing) a run-off.

More waiting...

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Something's Going to Happen Today

Election results are constitutionally mandated to be released today in Zimbabwe. However, ZANU-PF are meeting today to discuss:
"a negotiated, immediate departure for Mugabe; a second round of voting by April 19 as required by law if no candidate has a majority; or a 90-day state of emergency in hopes of improving conditions before an eventual runoff"
Hopefully, the more sensible elements of ZANU-PF will win out but with riot police expanding their presence around the country, I'm not optimistic.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Look's Like Bob's Made Up His Mind on His Future...

...or someone made up his mind for him.

An office of the MDC in Harare has been raided by Zimbabwean security forces.

Police also arrested reporters, including one from the New York Times.

This is what everyone has been waiting for and Mugabe is not going to disappoint.

Despite this, results for the Zimbabwean Senate have begun to trickle out:

MDC: 5

PS: I'm not going to call these posts "Zimbabwe Election Updates" in the title anymore. I think if I did, I'd be passing the current Super Bowl numbers pretty soon.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Zimbabwe Election Update XI: Final House Results

MDC (combined): 109
Independent: 1

(There are three races that have yet to be run because three of the candidates recently died.)

Still nothing on the poll for president. I have read that they may not release the final results until Friday.

The Zimbabwean constitution allows the president to dissolve the house; so, as great a victory as this is,it may not mean anything if the presidency is (again) stolen by Mugabe.

I have a feeling news will be even slower the next few days...or everything could explode...

Update: (Maybe I spoke too soon.) Is Mugabe negotiating for a unity government with MDC and ZANU-PF that will be able to cover his @$$ as he exits?

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Zimbabwe Election Update X: ZANU-PF Lose Parliament!

According to the AP, official results now say:

MDC (combined): 105
ZANU-PF: 93 94
Independent: 1

Wow. Only 12 more seats are left to be announced.

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Zimbabwe Election Update IX: MDC Declares Victory!

The MDC has declared Morgan Tsvangirai the winner of the presidential poll:

Tsvangirai: 50.3%
Mugabe: 42.9%
Makoni: 6.8%

Surpassing 50% means that no run-off would be necessary. However, it seems doubtful that these result will stand since the state run media has been predicting a run-off is in the offing. I'd be surprised if these results were allowed to stand but this is a bold move by the MDC. They must be feeling very confident (or very worried).

House of Assembly Results:

MDC (combined): 96

I expect that the house results will end up with a narrow lead for ZAUN-PF, allowing them to remain in control.

There is a lot of potential for volatility depending on what the "official" results end up saying.

I doubt Mugabe has given up yet - the question is: have those around him?

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Zimbabwe Election Update VIII: What about Bob?

Mugabe on the way out.

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Zimbabwe Election Update VII: Still Neck and Neck

House of Assembly:

MDC (combined): 90
ZANU-PF: 86 (three ministers have lost their seats)

Still no presidential results.

This article has a lot of interesting speculation...

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Zimbabwe Election Update VI: What about Bob?

[I was hoping I could use this title at some point.]

I have been reading conflicting reports about what is going on with Mugabe.

The story seemed to be that party bigwigs in ZANU-PF were negotiating with the opposition on a way to transition Mugabe out of power, possibly including some sort of freedom from reprisals for the (former?) dictator. The MDC - specifically, Morgan Tsvangirai, the party leader - is denying this. Apparently, Tsvangirai may not have won the 50%+ 1 vote needed to avoid a run-off election but competing in a run-off may be too humiliating for Mugabe to be willing to endure.

To get Mugabe out, the MDC will probably, happily, make a deal. And I wouldn't blame them. Of course, the military may have different ideas and ZANU-PF may be stalling for yet more time to fix the election.

So, we have to continue waiting until something definitive is released by the Zimbabwe Election Commission.

The current tally for the House of Assembly is:

MDC (combined): 82
ZANU-PF: 79 (three of Mugabe's ministers have now lost their seats)

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Zimbabwe Election Update V: ZANU -PF Concedes First Round Loss!

At least privately.

They are still trying to figure out how best to steal the election. This whole thing still has a long way to go...

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