Another beautiful day in the neighborhood

Or not. Current events aren’t really worth discussing anymore unless they pose a negative threat to our planet’s peaceful existence, right? On that note…

  • Zimbabwe is no model of Democratic values. Since 1988, shortly after Zimbabwe gained it’s independence from the UK, Robert Mugabe has served as the country’s president and has benefited from nearly non-existent political opposition. Economic mismanagement, a hard-currency shortage, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a nationwide drought, and prohibitions on foreign aid have left the country in dire straits. This year’s presidential election was expected to be full of drama and challenge Mugabe’s long-held position. So far, Zimbabwe’s election story rivals our own recent presidential elections in it’s treatment of democratic principles. The first round of elections was held on March 29th and it’s candidates were Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (or ZANU-PF), Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (or MDC), and Simba Makoni running as an independent. For nearly a month after the election, it’s results were withheld from the public. This indicated that the MDC had won the popular election, since the ZANU-PF was already in power and had no reason to withhold the results otherwise. A re-do election, or run-off election, was declared when Mugabe & his supporters alleged that MDC-affiliated officials had tampered with the votes. The period between the first and the second round of elections has been marked by political violence on both sides. The second election was held on June 27th, but Tsvangirai formally withdrew from the race, calling it a “violent sham” and claiming that his supporters risked being killed if they voted for him. He cited 86 instances of his political supporters being murdered and the displacement of another 200,000 in the state-sponsored campaign of violence, which has included politically-motivated rapes of MDC supporters. Tsvangirai’s name remained on the ballots, none the less. As expected, the June 27th results were prompted released & they proclaimed Mugabe the winner in a landslide. Now, the African Union is considering what, if any, they should do about the obviously falsified election results. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has even expressed his support for using UN troops to restore peace in Zimbabwe by force. You know it’s serious when a Nobel Peace Prize winner like Tutu calls for a unilateral ass kicking! Zimbabwe reminds me that my home country is not the only politically retarded nation on the planet. Keep your eyes on the Southern region of Africa, Zimbabwe in particular, if you watch current events like other folks watch soap operas (as I do). This season should be interesting.
  • South Korea recently repealed it’s ban on American beef imports & it’s an understatement to describe the South Korean population as “pissed”. So far, two separate protests have postponed the lifting of the ban. Critics point out how the ban was intended to protect the people of South Korea and since the U.S. beef industry has yet to make any real changes related to the initial concerns that prompted the ban, lifting it ignores the threat posed to the population’s health. Many people are annoyed with their government’s apparent willingness to cave to the demands of Washington. Today, a reported 13,000 people demonstrated in Seoul during Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the country. It seems to me that the people of South Korea aren’t about to be punked by the American government or it’s over-bearing industries without a fight and I find that commendable. That used to be the American Way. Maybe I outta’ start calling rebellious acts against oppression “the South Korean Way”. Lacks the same ring to it…
  • Everybody my age remembers the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. The blackened animals, miles of oil slick along Alaska’s coast, and the environmental damage that can be seen even today. Many of us will be surprised to hear that the Supreme Court has overturned the $2.5 billion in fines that Exxon still owes for the accident, calling them “excessive”. In my opinion, Exxon Mobil’s $40.6 billion in profits during the past year (while I paid out my ass for gas) is excessive. I hate corporate immunity to justice.

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