Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mugabe Pushes on with Land Grabs

So, if you were wondering how much better things would be in Zimbabwe after the swearing in a the ZANU-PF/MDC Unity government, the answer, sadly, is not much:
"Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has vowed to continue seizing land from white farmers after a spate of "farm invasions" over the past month.

Speaking at a rally to celebrate his 85th birthday, he also promised to push for majority Zimbabwean ownership of companies operating in the country."

Just to clarify, the land redistribution policies that have turned the country from a net exporter of food into one where at least half of the 11 million people are in need of some sort of food assistance is going to continue? Secondarily, a country that may well need $5 billion to rebuild its collapsed economy is going to tell foreign corporations (who have already fled the country, mind you) that they cannot operate unless a 51% stake in the company is owned by Zimbabweans (which, by the way, means Mugabe's cronies)? That should get foreign investment ramped right up!

Problem solved! Way to go you crazy, old bastard!

I was afraid the Unity government would not work (although it was hard to fault MDC for trying to do something to halt the complete collapse of the country - there have been some improvements). It may have been better to wait for the Obama Administration to lean on the U.N. (including Russia and China) to actually do something to remove Mugabe from power, which they were apparently discussing. Sadly, that is probably off the table for the time being.

Apparently, beggars can be choosers...they can choose to continue making their people beggars.

PS: While I'm here, I'd also like to point out a fun story that illustrates how China can see Mugabe burn his country down and still support him (hint: they don't give a damn about anything):
Tibetan monk shot while on fire

"The monk, named Tapey, is said to have shouted slogans and waved a Tibetan flag, then doused himself with petrol and set himself alight.

Campaign groups said witnesses then saw Chinese police shoot the man."
Thank goodness me only owe them a trillion dollars.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Colorado State Senator (D-Bag)

[Don't be confused by the title of this post, this guy's a Republican.]

Via Political Wire:

"A Republican legislator in Colorado opposed a bill requiring pregnant women to be tested for HIV, so that if they are infected their babies can be treated to prevent the transfer of the virus, the Rocky Mountain News reports.

But it was his reasoning that sparked outrage.

Said state Sen. Dave Schultheis (R): 'This stems from sexual promiscuity for the most part, and I just can't go there. We do things continually to remove the consequences of poor behavior, unacceptable behavior, quite frankly. I'm not convinced that part of the role of government should be to protect individuals from the negative consequences of their actions.'"
Wow. Sorry for the lack of nuance here, but what a piece of crap excuse for a human being.

So, if I understand his argument correctly, babies should get AIDS because preganant women are promiscuous? Tell me one thing that isn't wrong with that logic.

Seriously though, this type of thinking is so willfully, dangerously ignorant that it boggles the mind.

Pardon me, folks. This is for Mr. Schultheis: Go #&@# yourself, state Senator.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Send a Letter to Muammar Gaddafi!

I received this email today from The One Campaign:
Dear ONE Member,

Zimbabwe is beyond a state of crisis.

Zimbabwe was once one of the most promising countries in Africa with a thriving agriculture industry, one of the region’s highest literacy rates and a robust healthcare system. Today, Zimbabwe is a land of devastation. 28 years of increasingly dictatorial rule by President Robert Mugabe have led to hyperinflation, food shortages and a breakdown of basic public services.

Last year, the world watched Zimbabwe suffer through a botched and violent election. But last Wednesday, after months of bitter negotiations with President Robert Mugabe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as the new Prime Minister, forming a “unity government” that will attempt to move the country forward. It won’t be easy. Last year’s disastrous election and President’s Mugabe’s continued presence casts doubt about how much change is possible. The good news is that Zimbabwe does not have to do this work alone. The African Union (AU) will serve as guarantor for this new government and it is critical that they take immediate action to ensure Zimbabwe’s unity government takes steps in the right direction.

You can show the African Union that the world is watching to make sure it keeps its promise to Zimbabwe’s new unity government, by signing our petition to the newly-elected African Union chairman Muammar Gaddafi:

Petition text:

Please ensure that the African Union executes its role as guarantor of the new Zimbabwe unity government.

The African Union can put Zimbabwe on the right footing and show the world that it is serious about change by aggressively policing the agreement, and, at a minimum, acting on the four recommendations offered by civil society groups in Zimbabwe:

* Insist on the immediate cessation of abductions and torture, as well as the release of the human rights activists and political prisoners.
* Demand that humanitarian agencies be allowed to work in an unrestricted environment.
* Call for an immediate repeal of unjust legislation like the Access to Information and the Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
* Ensure an enabling environment for the new unity government.

The consequences of years of poor governance in Zimbabwe are poverty and disease on a tragic scale that demands a global response. Public hospitals have been without running water for months, creating a petri dish for easily preventable killers like cholera. More than 3,000 people have died in Africa’s worst cholera epidemic in 19 years. Schools have been shut down because teachers can’t be paid. The agricultural sector has collapsed, half the population requires emergency food aid and humanitarian aid groups are struggling to keep up.

We’re not the only ones calling for action. In South Africa, activist and co-founder of the Global Campaign Against Poverty, Dr. Kumi Nadoo had this to say: "Unity within governmental structures alone does not address the humanitarian and human rights issues that the people of Zimbabwe face on a daily basis. Therefore, the AU must – first and foremost – demand that the Zimbabwean government listen to and respect its people."

You can help make that happen. Take action now by adding your name to our petition asking the African Union to do its job as guarantor of the unity government, and work to end the political repression that has crippled Zimbabwe.

Thank you for making a difference,

David Lane,
I agree with everything in this letter, and I would like to personally ask anyone who reads this to sign the petition. However, I think it speaks volumes to both the depth of the crisis in Zimbabwe and the current political realities of Africa that this appeal for good governance is being directed to Muammar Gaddafi.

Terrifying. (But we still need to do what we can.)

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tsvangirai Sworn in as Zimbabwe Prime Minister

clipped from
Morgan Tsvangirai, left, leader of the main opposition party ...

Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in today as the new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. (The full text of his inauguration speech can be found here.)

This new arrangement has been viewed with much skepticism, and rightly so. Mugabe has used the guise of a unity government before to eliminate his enemies and he has given Tsvangirai as little power as he could get away with.

The MDC members of the new government believe that, given the mass humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, they had no choice but to join so they could begin to fix the myriad problems in the country. They also believe they can co-opt Mugabe's backers in the government over time. However, there is a possibility that the privileges of power that produced the corrupt Mugabe regime could seduce MDC and result in another generation of corrupt government. (This is Africa, after all.)

Let's hope this is a step in the right direction.

Now would be a good time to donate to Save the Children's Zimbabwe Children in Crisis Fund

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Zim Update 2.5.09

I have been holding off on talking about the latest developments in the political situation in Zimbabwe because it has seemed like it could fall apart at any minute, which it still may.

But I would be remiss if I did not mention what happened today:
"Zimbabwe's parliament passed a key constitutional amendment Thursday opening the way for a unity government after years of deadly political conflict.

The amendment was passed by acclamation in the assembly dominated — but only just — by the opposition. It creates a prime minister's post, which main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will hold in the proposed coalition government. Robert Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, will remain president.

Tsvangirai and the rest of the unity Cabinet will be sworn in next week. The government will bring together members of Mugabe's ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and a smaller opposition party."
There was some talk that some in the international community were hoping that the deal would fall apart after the Obama administration indicated that they would make a diplomatic push in the U.N. to outright oust Mugabe. They had even planned to try and bring Russia and China in to the process. That may still be necessary if this latest effort fails.

Tsvangirai and the MDC could have kept pushing for a better deal, and they would have had international backing to do so. However, the conditions for the people of Zimbabwe continue to rapidly deteriorate. Being in the government, even with an inequitable deal, will hopefully allow MDC to begin to stop the country's free fall. I am still skeptical that anything will really come from this arrangement, but I hope something can be done (Mugabe can't live forever - although I said the same about Fidel).

As long as ZANU-PF has complete control of the security apparatus in the country, I will be skeptical, but let's hope it works.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

There Goes The Neighborhood

It seems that former Vice President Cheney has moved into an office just down the street from me in McClean. Sadly, his new lair isn't exactly a hollowed-out volcano:
"His office is in a non-descript suburban office building in McLean, Va., in a suite that could just as easily house a dental clinic. The office is across the hall from a quick-copy store. The door is marked by nothing except a paper sign, held up by tape, saying the unit is occupied by the General Services Administration."

View My Stats
Politics Blogs
Start Blogging