| Completely predictable. "The US has expressed "great concern" over a deadly assault by militants on the American consulate in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar. The Pakistani Taliban say they carried out the attack, which left three guards and four militants dead. A gun battle erupted between security forces and militants after a series of blasts, which damaged buildings. The raid came hours after 43 people died in a suicide attack just to the north-east, near the Swat Valley. The bomber targeted a crowded rally held by a Pashtun nationalist party in Timergara, Lower Dir. Investigators suspect it was co-ordinated with the Peshawar raid, in which attackers tossed grenades into the consulate compound. There were no reported US casualties and it is not clear if the US building suffered any damage."
Imagine the fun if American presidents could call elections at their convenience. "Gordon Brown will announce on Tuesday morning that the general election will, as expected, be held on 6 May, BBC political editor Nick Robinson says. The prime minister will go to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament. On returning from the Palace he will formally confirm the date and make a speech in Downing Street in which he will dub the election "the big choice". The economy, taxation and public services will be key battlegrounds. The campaign will also feature, for the first time, live television debates between the three main party leaders. It will be the first time that Mr Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have faced a general election."
A rational choice from an irrational party. "The party of murdered South African white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche has withdrawn a threat to take revenge for his death. AWB spokesman Pieter Steyn said no member of his organisation would engage in any form of violence. The remarks come after officials from the ruling ANC paid their respects to the Terreblanche family and President Jacob Zuma issued a call for calm. Police say his murder on Saturday was caused by a dispute over workers' pay. Supporters of the AWB - Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging or Afrikaner Resistance Movement - blamed provocative actions by the ANC youth leader, Julius Malema, for the killing."
Still the most dangerous occupation in the world. "Seven miners have been killed and around 20 are missing after an accident at a coal mine in the eastern US. An underground explosion was reported at the Upper Big Branch mine some 30 miles (50 km) south of Charleston, in West Virginia. The accident happened around 1500 (1900 GMT), said the mine's owner Massey Energy Company. The extent of the damage caused remains unclear, and emergency teams from all over West Virginia are on the scene. National safety officials are on their way to oversee the rescue effort, says the BBC's Jane O'Brien in Washington. Three helicopters are taking casualties to the nearest large hospital in Charleston, our correspondent adds. "We're uncertain as to what happened but we are working diligently on rescue efforts," Massey Energy's chief executive officer, Don Blankenship, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency. Massey Energy says on its website that it has a safety record that is above the national average, with three fatalities in the last 12 years. Last year 34 miners were killed in accidents across the US, the lowest on record."
If this doesn't make you rage and despair, nothing will. "WikiLeaks has posted a video on its website which it claims shows the killing of civilians by the US military in Baghdad in 2007. The website's organisers say they were given the footage, which they say comes from cameras on US Apache helicopters. They say they decrypted it, but would not reveal who gave it to them. The WikiLeaks site campaigns for freedom of information and posts leaked documents online. So far there has been no official Pentagon response. The video, released on Monday, is of high quality and appears to be authentic, the BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says. It is accompanied by a recording of the pilots' radio transmissions and those of US troops on the ground. The video shows a street in Baghdad and a group of about eight people, whom the helicopter pilots identify as armed insurgents. The transmissions says of one of the individuals: "He's got an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade]. I'm going to fire." After a voice on the transmission urges the pilot to "light 'em all up", the individuals on the street are shot by the gunship's cannon. A few minutes later a van drives to the scene, and its occupants appear to start picking up a wounded person. It, too, is fired upon. Altogether, around 12 people die."
Somali pirates having bad week. "A South Korean navy warship is in pursuit of a huge oil tanker, hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The 300,000-tonne Samho Dream, which was on its way from Iraq to the United States, has 24 crew on board, and is loaded with crude oil. Reports suggest the Korean destroyer is fast enough to catch up to the tanker before it reaches the Somali coast. Pirates targeting ships off the coast of Somalia made tens of millions of dollars in ransom payments last year. South Korea is one of several Asian nations that have an anti-piracy warship patrolling Somali waters to guard against hijackings. Western navies are also trying to protect ships against pirate attack."
If the day ends in "y" you can bet there is another Catholic clergy sexual assault scandal coming to light "A Catholic priest charged with sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Minnesota has been allowed to continue working at a Catholic diocese in southern India despite warnings from an American bishop that he could still "pose a risk to minors," according to church documents released Monday. ... In a letter sent in December 2005, the bishop, Victor H. Balke, told Vatican authorities that preliminary investigations showed that the priest, Father Joseph Pavanivel Jeyapaul, had molested a 16-year-old girl after promising to discuss her interest in becoming a nun. Bishop Balke wrote that the priest had also "misappropriated a substantial amount of money." Bishop Balke asked the Vatican to investigate the allegations and "apply whatever penalty you feel appropriate." ... He wrote that Father Jeyapaul, who had returned to India to care for his dying mother, was not complying with his request to return to the diocese to be made accountable. ... But five months later, the Vatican office he appealed to, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declined to take on the case, saying only that "Father Jeyapaul's priestly life should be monitored so that he does not constitute a risk to minors and does not create scandal among the faithful." The Vatican office is charged with investigating sexual abuse."
What? Was NYC jealous of all that glowing press Detroit receives after every "Devil's Night"? "Four people were shot in three episodes in Midtown Manhattan, and the police said they arrested 33 people as rowdy crowds roamed the area in the waning hours of Sunday and early Monday in what has become something of a violent Easter Night ritual. ... No one had been arrested in any of the shootings - two near Times Square and the other near Pennsylvania Station - by midmorning Monday. The four people who were shot were in stable condition at hospitals in Manhattan, the police said."
We are far from experts in economics, but we know that repealing Glass-Steagall was the biggest economic fuckup since 1637 when the Dutch economy collapsed when the Tulip bubble burst As our friend the divine Ms. N put it so succinctly in the note she sent along with the link "Sometimes it's a damn shame flogging and the stocks are out of fashion - either or both would be less than these three [Allan Greenspan, Bob Rubin and Larry Summers] deserve."
Suit filed over nuclear waste fees "Sixteen utilities and a trade association sued the Energy Department on Monday to halt the government's collection of nuclear waste disposal fees, arguing that the country no longer had a disposal plan after ruling out Yucca Mountain, Nev., as a repository. ... The utilities, which filed the lawsuit in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, jointly pay about $750 million a year - amounting to a tenth of a cent per kilowatt hour - into the fund. It now stands at about $24 billion and earns about $1 billion annually in interest. ... The money was supposed to pay for the development of the Yucca Mountain repository, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, but the Energy Department said last month that it was formally seeking to withdraw its application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate the site."
It just doesn't get any mavericky-er than this John McCain, slipping his last moorings with reality, declared today that he is not only not a maverick, but he never considered himself one. That's a pretty mavericky position to take, especially since it was just over a week ago that Sarah Palin campaigned for him by urging Arizonans to "send the maverick back to the Senate!"
Inquiries are fine, we suppose, provided they have some weight and authority. Otherwise they are just exercises in procedural masturbation. "The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has ordered a second investigation into the deaths of three Afghan women and two men during a botched nighttime raid in February, after Afghan investigators said they found evidence of possible tampering with evidence at the compound where the Afghans were killed. ... Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who oversees all U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, ordered the review after receiving a briefing from Afghan officials in late March, according to Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a NATO military spokesman. ... The Afghan officials from the Ministry of Interior told McChrystal they visited the compound some time after the incident and found evidence of bloodstained walls being washed down and bullets being dug out of walls, according to two U.S. military officials. McChrystal wants a thorough review now to see why U.S. and Afghan accounts differ so greatly, according to one of the sources, a senior US official familiar with the briefing."
Egos could ground Angel Flights "For the pilots who donate their time to Angel Flight of New England Inc., the mission - flying sick patients to medical appointments for free - has always been more important than how the organization was run. ... That changed abruptly last year, when a power struggle erupted between the nonprofit's founder and the board. Now, pilots worry the in-house upheaval could put Angel Flight at risk, with major donors threatening to withhold money, and each side complaining to the Massachusetts attorney general of improprieties by the other."
UPDATE: We are thrilled to announce that we were dead wrong in our prediction that no more than nine of the dozens of miners trapped in a flooded coal mine in China would be rescued. "At least 115 miners were pulled alive from a flooded coal mine in north China after being trapped for over a week, eating tree bark to survive and prompting jubilant officials to hail their survival a miracle. Rescued miners wrapped in blankets were hurried to waiting ambulances that sped wailing to nearby hospitals. One clapped on his stretcher and reached out his blackened hands to grasp those of rescuers on either side. "A miracle has finally happened," Liu Dezheng told reporters Monday morning, after the first nine miners were taken out shortly after midnight. "We believe that more miracles will happen." " No, not a miracle; just human persistence and will to survive. But for tonight, the Chinese are not vicious fuckers.
Fledgling? We do not think that word means what Fox News thinks it means Remember how that exec at Fox took a shot at LL Cool J when he protested an interview he gave being included on Scary Sarie's special on the teevee machine, and the exec said they would remove his interview and wished him luck with his "fledgling acting career"? Yeah, well, on a lark, we googled "LL Cool J + filmography" and we got a long-assed list of roles he has played, both in movies and on television, going all the way back to 1985, about the time Failin' Palin was bailin' on her first of six colleges. No, Deliver Us From Eva and B.A.P.S. didn't get any Oscar nominations, or even a Golden Globe, but "fledgling" sure as hell isn't the word to describe his acting career, either.