Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for October 6th, 2007

Dictator Musharraf wins rigged election

Posted by Charles II on October 6, 2007

Jason Burke, The Guardian describes the free and fair elections of Pakistan, in which all competitors were prevented from returning to campaign:

By early yesterday afternoon, supporters were already celebrating a win for the president, who has been weakened in recent months by a series of domestic crises, internal militant violence and a loss of international goodwill. Though the victory can still theoretically be overturned by a supreme court judgment, the massive win, with 252 of the 257 votes cast in parliament and landslides in all four provinces, makes that unlikely....

However, the margin of Musharraf's victory owes much to a last-minute deal with opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. In just over a week, Bhutto will make a spectacular return to her homeland after nearly a decade in exile in London and Dubai, in a move that will return her to power. In return for Musharraf pledging to resign as head of the army, and a new legal device lifting corruption charges against her, representatives from her Pakistan People's Party did not resign, merely staging a symbolic walkout from voting in parliament yesterday....

So, Musharraf removes his Army uniform, Bhutto gets the corruption charges lifted, and nothing fundamental changes. Meanwhile, this is the life of more typical Pakistanis:

At dawn tomorrow, the thousand men, women and children who work on the brick kilns of Tarli village will wake up at 5am, pray and go to work. Their day will last until sunset, 13 hours of backbreaking physical toil in the heat and dust of a Pakistani autumn. In the evening, they will draw water from the fetid well, eat a thin lentil curry and sleep. The day after, they will wake at 5am again, pray and go back to work.

There is no electricity, water or sanitation in Tarli. Saddled with unpayable debts to the owners of the kilns, often incurred generations ago, the families of Tarli know that escape is impossible. At night, the village is ringed by armed guards. During the day, the villagers are watched closely. And where would they go if they made good their escape? ...

Akram remembers May not for the legal crisis that rocked Musharraf, but because his wife, Safia, injured her hand. Seeing a doctor is out of the question: with his earnings rarely exceeding 300 rupees (£2.50) a day, he has barely enough to feed his family, especially with recent price rises. The alternative is a further loan from the kiln owner, to whom he already owes 125,000 rupees (£1,040). 'We are not human beings,' he said. 'We are donkeys.'...

Akram does not remember much of last week at all. On Thursday, he worked late to buy some meat. 'They ask us for chicken so we try to give it to them once a week,' he said. Friday, the weekly day off, Akram remembers simply for the pleasure of not working....

The elections? Akram spits. 'The politicians don't think or know anything about us,' he says. 'We don't know anything about them. We are nothing.'

I can sympathize with that sentiment.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

What He Didn’t Say

Posted by MEC on October 6, 2007

President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday, declaring, “This government does not torture people.”

“The government outsources the torture to private contractors and foreign governments,” he did not add.

Posted in anti-truth, madness of King George | 2 Comments »

Money Isn’t Everything

Posted by MEC on October 6, 2007

Here’s what happens when “saving money” is the primary consideration:

When 17-year-old Dennys George was arrested this summer, allegedly for carrying 10 grams of crack cocaine, he was taken handcuffed and shackled to the state prison’s high-security wing — not a juvenile facility.

George said he was strip-searched and spent the night in a cell with another teen. Though he didn’t have contact with older inmates, he wouldn’t shower because he was afraid of being near them.


George is one of about 40 teenagers who have been jailed in the state prison under a new law that treats 17-year-olds as adults in the court system. Billed as a way to save money, youth advocates, judges and the attorney general sounded the alarm early that the proposal might actually be more expensive, and could hurt children.

Now, four months after the measure passed the Legislature, state officials admit their mistake: It’s unlikely to cut costs, it has created confusion in the court system and it is imprisoning teenage offenders who might have been sent home with their parents instead.

State officials say it happened because the chain of people responsible for the proposal — who drew it up, signed off on it, forwarded it to lawmakers and voted it into law — never thoroughly researched it and ignored warnings.


College-bound teenagers arrested under the new law risk losing federal financial aid if convicted of a drug crime. Those looking for work will have to disclose a criminal record. If the 17-year-olds had been in Family Court, their records would be hidden from public view.

Oh yeah, and it’s making it less likely that the kids will be rehabilitated and go on to become productive, law-abiding members of society. Does anybody care about that anymore?

Posted in 'starving the beast', wrong way to go about it | 22 Comments »

The nuclear gamble: Windscale

Posted by Charles II on October 6, 2007

Fifty years ago, a nuclear reactor in the UK came very close to going critical.

Scientists had been warning about the dangers of an accident for some time.

The safety margins of the radioactive materials inside the reactor were being further and further eroded.

"They were running much too close to the precipice," says Dr Dunworth, a senior manager in the Nuclear Research Laboratory in Harwell, Oxfordshire, who was one of those highlighting the potential dangers.

But the politicians and the military ignored the warnings; instead they increased demands on Windscale to produce material for an H-bomb.

and so what happened was this:

A fire ripped through the radioactive materials in the core of Windscale, Britain's first nuclear reactor.

Tom Tuohy, the deputy general manager at the site, led the team faced with dealing with a nightmare no-one had thought possible.

"Mankind had never faced a situation like this; there's no-one to give you any advice," he said.

Tuohy and his men were confronted by a terrifying dilemma.

If they let the fire burn out, it could spread radioactivity over a large area of Britain. But if they put water on the reactor, they risked turning it into a nuclear bomb that could kill them all.

Fortunately, the Tuohy guessed right. There was significant radioactive contamination anyway. The politicians blamed the plant operators for doing what they were commanded to do in the name of national security. Only fifty years later is the truth seeping out.

There’s a lesson there somewhere.

Posted in eedjits, energy, government malfeasance | 2 Comments »

Saturday Morning Vacation Pictures

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 6, 2007

From the vacation I took a month ago.

This is Duluth’s Canal Park in the morning:

Posted in Good Things, Just for fun | 3 Comments »

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