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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Barack and his advisers are poring over Constitutional Issues, as the deadline for American involvement in Libya's uprising..
There's a mechanism in place, the War Powers Resolution, which allows that the US can only be involved in an armed conflict for 60 days, unless it's approved by Congress..
That deadline ends today..
Bruce Ackerman, a law professor at Yale University, says continuing without Congressional consent sets a dangerous precedent..
"A future president not as reasonable as President Obama is going to use this case to engage in something much more ambitious..From the point of view of long-term constitutional development, this is an important decision which will have precedental force in a very different context."
It's not a popular war in the States, what with their internal problems looming larger and larger.. and whether Congress will allow American Forces, even those with NATO, to continue their actions against Mohammar, is very much in the balance..
Meanwhile, barack continues his European mini-your in Poland.. where he's taken aim at perhaps the last of the Eastern Bloc dictators, Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko. His hard handed attitude towards protestors in that country.. He's called the governments actions 'unacceptable'.. and that means the eyes of the world will be watching this situation now..
And, to soothe Polish security fears.. Barack has promised a gesture of reassurance towards Nato’s most important East European member, Administration officials said that a US military detachment would be based permanently in Poland to train Polish personnel assigned to fly American F-16 fighters and C-130 transport planes.
Warsaw breathes easier..
Back to the Libya problem for a moment.. Russian President Medvedev has thrown his hat in the ring, and is saying he'll try and broker a peace in that country..
Apparently, Thursday, as NATO war planes prepared fresh strikes against the compound of Muammar Gaddafi, his prime minister, Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, put in an urgent call to Moscow. After months of civil war, he said, Gaddafi was ready to negotiate a ceasefire and he needed Russia to mediate the talks...oddly enough, that same day,the French and U.S. presidents, who have been leading the bombing raids against Mohammar, reportedly came to their Russian counterpart with a similar plea: Help us convince Gaddafi to leave so that a ceasefire can move forward.
But the question remains, is Medvedev up to the job..?
The answer, at best, is a qualified 'maybe'..

Syria now. Reports are that if the protestors fail to bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the economy surely will. Forecasts had that country's GDP growing at about 6% this year before the protests, today, because of the unrest, the forecast has been revised to a 3% retraction..
Once food and essential commodities begin to disappear, so likely will support for the present government..
Only a matter of time..

Egypt has, today, effectively ended the siege of Gaza by permanently opening the Rafah border crossing.. bringing home the harsh truth of Israel's increasingly isolated position..
While the U.S. would stand by Israel unconditionally, Barack has warned that "the march to isolate Israel internationally..and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations..will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternatives.. And for us to have leverage with the Palestinians, to have leverage with the Arab States and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success."
Not with Beni Netanyahu in power though. His opposition to reducing Israel into a State surrounded by antagonistic States is anathema to the Israeli President..

It's interesting to take a geographical sweep around the North African Coast.. and examine those countries affected by popular uprisings..
In Morocco..King Mohammed VI promised "comprehensive constitutional reform" in response to nationwide protests in February, but unrest still continues.
Protesters want some of the king's powers to be handed over, with a Constitution and elections..
In Algeria..President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been under pressure to change the constitution and limit presidential terms following protests that have been going on since January..Strikes, opposition protests and riots have prompted concern among the ruling elite that the country may succumb to popular unrest..Attempts by protesters to march through the capital, Algiers, have been broken up by huge numbers of riot police.
The cause of the protests appears to be mainly economic..particularly the sharp increases in the price of food.
We're all aware of what's going on in Libya..
In Egypt.. The military have been running the country since Hosni, in power for three decades, resigned on 11 February. He resigned after 18 days of protests in the capital, Cairo, and other cities.
The military are to oversee Egypt's transition to a genuine democracy this summer and Essam Sharaf, a popular former transport minister who sided with the protesters, has now been appointed caretaker prime minister.
The opposition Muslim Brotherhood group is expected to do well in any free and fair election, and there is areal fear of a lurch towards Islamist rule worrying the West.. and Israel.
In Jordan..a Hashemite country with little in the way of natural resources but much in the way of strategic location.. Unrest has been simmering since January but while protesters have clashed with security forces, the country saw nothing like the deadly violence in Syria and Egypt until 25 March, when a man was killed in the capital, Amman.
Protesters have been demanding better employment prospects and cuts in food and fuel costs, as well as electoral reforms that would see the prime minister directly elected and more powers granted to parliament.
King Abdullah II has replaced his prime minister with Marouf al-Bakhit, a former general and ambassador to Israel, together with a new cabinet.
But, and it's a big but.. a powerful Islamist opposition group, the Islamic Action Front, has called for the dissolution of parliament and criticised the king's efforts to initiate reform..
Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia itself.. will all be looked at over the coming days..
But back to Barack for a moment.. there have been calls for the US to take a more active role in this 'Arab Spring'.. while Obama has set up plans for a 'Marshal Plan' type of intervention.. pledging $200 million dollars for the effort.. there are those who are still unsatisfied with the American level of involvement in Libya..
Just how Barack's going to deal with the international community and NATO, while keeping his constituents back home happy.. is going to be an act to watch..
Better than a circus..

The legal battle of Domenique Strauss-Kahn has begun with an opening salvo from the defence team for the former head of the IMF..
They're recounting the events, as told by the 32 year old chambermaid who's laid the rape charges.. saying they believe “the forensic evidence . . . will not be consistent with a forcible encounter”, and say they possess “substantial information” that will “undermine the credibility of the complainant”.
By far the largest unknown, however, is the maid.. We now know that she came to America from Guinea seven years ago.. that she worked at the hotel for three years, and that the hotel felt her record was “satisfactory”.
That's it.. Now she claims is She cleaned the living room and dining room and it was only when she entered the bedroom that she encountered Mr Strauss-Kahn, naked and emerging from the bathroom.
What followed will be the crux of the trial.
According to the charge sheet, the chambermaid was subjected to five sexual assaults.. an attempted rape.. and was falsely imprisoned at some point in the suite.
Mr Strauss-Kahn denies all the charges.
This should be even more interesting than Barack's back flips in the Senate and the House over the Middle East..

Speaking at the G8 summit in Deauville on Thursday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy described Radko Mladic's arrest as "..a step toward integration of Serbia into the European Union someday soon.." Since the atrocities committed during the partition of Yugoslavia, Serbia's been something of a pariah in Europe.. This move to legitimatise itself, to prove to the world they are trying to erase their past.. and gain entry into the European Union..
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the G8 meetings, that Serbia has brought itself closer to the ideals held by the rest of the Union, and may well find itself favourably looked upon in the near future..
Meanwhile, there is still a faction among Serbs that see Mladic as a hero of the revolution, and deplore the fact he's been arrested..
The sectarian problems between Muslims and Christians in that country, will not be solved any time soon.. and there's much more work to do..
After all, we've still got the same problems here in Scotland.. if not throughout the British Isles..

As the death toll from the massive tornado's which have swept through Missouri last week reaches 139.. The National Weather Service has announced that this has been the deadliest year for twisters, since 1950..
The total dead this year, has reached 520.. the previous record was 519 in 1953, and while there were deadlier storms before, the cost in lives was estimated, not recorded..
Missouri says there are still 170 people unaccounted for from the Joplin tornado..
And Campers Countdown continues..

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