Sir Mark Thatcher has been refused a visa to live in the United States following his conviction for involvement in the failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea. Sir Mark, the son of Baroness Thatcher, the former prime minister, had intended to join his wife and their two children in the US after being given a four-year suspended jail sentence and fine at his trial in January, but immigration authorities turned down his visa application, it was confirmed yesterday.
"It is quite true that my visa application has been rejected," Sir Mark said in a statement. "It was always a calculated risk when I plea-bargained in South Africa."
Sir Mark was fined £265,000 by a South African court but escaped jail as part of a deal in which he admitted to having "unwittingly" financed the attempted overthrow of the government in Equatorial Guinea.
That's from "Thatcher is refused US visa over coup plot conviction" by Harvey McGavin and it appears in UK's The Independent. Billie e-mailed that in.
Billie: As someone living in the DFW area, I'm quite pleased to know that someone who admitted guilt in a plot to overthrow a government won't be easing his way back into Dallas
just because his mother happens to be Margaret Thatcher. At a time when Arabs are regularly targeted and treated as criminals without any proof, there's no reason in the world to let Mark Thatcher back into this country. The news that he will soon be moving his wife and children from Dallas to England suits me just fine.
From The Guardian, learn that Homeland Security apparently applies to pot smuggling as well in Julian Borger's "Behind the idyll, the drug war that threatens to erupt:"
It is a sunny spring day; the water is sparkling, dotted with the white sails of jauntily leaning yachts and the green islands that speckle the US-Canada border. Welcome to the frontline of a vicious multibillion-dollar drug war.
A high-powered grey patrol boat with a three-man crew from the US department of homeland security buzzes across this Pacific idyll like a frenetic killjoy, boarding sailboats, disrupting jolly outings on family motor launches and even accosting tiny sea kayaks.
In theory, the crew's primary task is to stop terrorists infiltrating the US. Ever since Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian militant, was caught a few miles from here in December 1999 with more than 45kg (100lb) of explosives in the boot of his car, border patrols have been braced for the next episode. One of the crew wears a radiation detector at all times.
Since then, however, the homeland security patrol has been finding mainly marijuana on the boats they search - industrial quantities of a potent strain known as BC Bud, named in honour of the Canadian province where much of it is grown, British Columbia.
From Scotland's Sunday Herald, note Connie Levett's "We fear the earth and sea will conspire and break open the mountains and flood the land:"
Like so many on Nias, the villagers of Afia are caught between a tsunami and an earthquake, fearful now of both earth and sea.
"We are afraid of the tsunami, afraid of the earthquake, already my house is falling down," says Raina, 75, who shakes with a malaria-like fever she has developed since she moved to the mountain. She cannot sleep. "All the people here go to the hill every night."
On the mountain they have built simple thatched sleeping shelters.
Over at Baghdad Burning, Girl Blogger reports the latest Iraq invasion -- media. Besides propaganda demonizing Sunnis, Girl Blogger reports this on the American programming she's receiving:
I've been enchanted with the shows these last few weeks. The thing that strikes me most is the fact that the news is so… clean. It's like hospital food. It's all organized and disinfected. Everything is partitioned and you can feel how it has been doled out carefully with extreme attention to the portions- 2 minutes on women's rights in Afghanistan, 1 minute on training troops in Iraq and 20 minutes on Terri Schiavo! All the reportages are upbeat and somewhat cheerful, and the anchor person manages to look properly concerned and completely uncaring all at once.
About a month ago, we were treated to an interview on 20/20 with Sabrina Harman- the witch in some of the Abu Ghraib pictures. You know- the one smiling over faceless, naked Iraqis piled up to make a human pyramid. Elizabeth Vargus was doing the interview and the whole show was revolting. They were trying to portray Sabrina as an innocent who was caught up in military orders and fear of higher ranking officers. The show went on and on about how American troops never really got seminars on Geneva Conventions (like one needs to be taught humanity) and how poor Sabrina was being made a scapegoat. They showed the restaurant where she worked before the war and how everyone thought she was "such a nice person" who couldn’t hurt a fly! We sat there watching like we were a part of another world, in another galaxy. I've always sensed from the various websites that American mainstream news is far-removed from reality- I just didn’t know how far. Everything is so tame and simplified. Everyone is so sincere.
Click the link (for those who do access links) to find out Girl Blogger's concept of a must-see reality show.
While we're on the topic of Iraq, let's return to the UK's The Independent for Daniel Howden's
"US troops injured in raid on Abu Ghraib attack:"
Heavily armed insurgents have launched an audacious attack on the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, wounding 44 American soldiers and 12 prisoners, the US military said.
The raid on Saturday night, which the self-proclaimed "al-Qa'ida wing in Iraq" claimed to have carried out, targeted an outbuilding with two suicide car bombs, American officials said, and followed up with small-arms fire and grenades.
From Aljazeera, we'll note "Ex-Yukos boss faces labour camp:"
Russian prosecutors have requested Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former chief executive of the Yukos oil company, be sentenced to 10 years in a prison labour camp.
Chief prosecutor Dmitry Shokhin asked a Moscow court to find Khodorkovsky guilty on tax evasion and other charges on Tuesday.
Also from Aljazeera, we'll note "Inquiry into missing Algerians urged:"
Algerian human-rights groups have called for an independent investigation into the detentions and disappearances of more than 6000 civilians by the security forces during the 1990s.
They rejected a much-awaited report this week by a government commission which laid the blame on agents acting individually during a war on rebels.
From Australia's ABC we'll note "Oil prices hit new high:"
Oil prices have reached a new high on speculation that an increase in quotas, being considered by OPEC countries, will not be enough to meet demand.
US light crude futures hit $US 57.79 a barrel, topping Friday's record of $US 57.70 in New York.
Australia? Let's check in on our friend Luke of wotisitgood4. On Saturday, Natalie e-mailed this post (from Thursday) noting that Luke was staying on the Wead story:
as u know - im skeptical about the whole doug waed tape-gate thingy - the whole "gee - blinky sounds exactly the same in private as he does in public" line seemed to get swallowed by just about every observer. the LATimes did another story about it earlier this week - in their 'STYLE & CULTURE' section.
heres a question i hada month ago:
"* apparently Wead quotes the tapes 'briefly' in his book - itll be interesting to see when that book went into print (released jan5).
itll also be interesting to see how 'briefly' he quotes the tapes - and how directly... presumably he didnt mention the tapes in the book - otherwise the furor would have began earlier...
"i couldnt find the answers at the time, but the LAT piece attempts to fill in some of the detailsheres the money quote from Weads book:
"George Bush apparently experimented with cocaine. He has never spoken about it publicly and so we can only speculate on if and when it happened…. The fear that it might flare into the open would become at times an obsession. Privately he brought the subject up often in his run for the presidency in 2000…. "you'd think that was kinda the end of the story - but i noticed something weird - for all the brouhaha about tape-gate and the excoriation and/or self-flagellation of mr wead, and for all the ensuing punditocracy, heres the funny thing - if u google any of those sentences that were apparently at the center of it all, you only get four hits - and they are all just copies of this recent LAT article. does that seem weird?
i wouldnt have thought anything of it, except that i had specifically asked the question at the time, and i had noticed at the time that nobody was actually quoting the relevant passages. if you google "wead tapes bush cocaine", you get 4000 results - and the only 4 which actually include the quotes from the book are all this one LAT article. weird.
if any of u lot can actually get your hands on the book, id be interested to see if these are the actual quotes. if they are the direct quotes then its kinda odd that no-one ever quoted them before. and if they arent the actual quotes, then we have a bunch of new questions.
While New York Times reporters appear hungover and unable to sort out Kyrgyzstan, let's go to OpenDemocracy and Mary Dejevsky's "Kyrgyzstan questions:"
The world’s press has been filled in the past week with news about a “tulip” or “daffodil” revolution in plucky little Kyrgyzstan and the universal – and inevitable – appeal of democracy. Only a few days since the events of 24 March in the central Asian country’s capital city, Bishkek, it all looks much more complicated. In fact, it was much more complicated all along.
What we know is this. Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary elections on schedule in February-March 2005. OSCE observers reported widespread violations. Street protests began, not in the capital, Bishkek, but in the southern city of Osh, which has seen inter-ethnic violence at least twice in the recent past: in 1990, when Soviet authority was waning, and again in 2002.
[. . .]
At best, what we now have is a parliament which is the product of elections designed to keep the old, Akayev, regime in power, and a self-appointed executive from an opposition whose only significant point of agreement was the need to get rid of Akayev. This is not a recipe for long-term stability. Nor, by any stretch of the imagination, can it be defined as democratic.
There was a great deal of wishful thinking in the early days of this “revolution” which precluded sober analysis of the facts. Much western opinion insisted that Kyrgyzstan was the next post-Soviet “domino” to fall peacefully to democracy, after Georgia and Ukraine. And we had been well prepared for just such an eventuality. I received emails from opposition activists anticipating not just the rigging of the elections, but “rose-” and “orange-” style protests well before the elections were even held.
From ZNet, Lloyd e-mails W. David Kubiak's "Introducing The Constitution Restoration Act: Say Hello To Taliban America And Goodbye To Godless Judges, Courts And Law:"
Just when you thought the corporatist/Christian Coalition had milked the 9/11 "surprise" for all it was worth in powers, profits and votes, we regret to report that you may have to think again. Just in case you've briefly fallen behind on your rightwing mailing lists, you might have missed the March 3rd filing of Senate bill S. 520 and House version is H.R. 1070, AKA the "Constitution Restoration Act" (CRA).
In the worshipful words of the Conservative Caucus, this historic legislation will "RESTORE OUR CONSTITUTION!", mainly by barring ANY federal court or judge from ever again reviewing "any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government." [Emphasis demanded - see full text here.]
In other words, the bill ensures that God's divine word (and our infallible leaders' interpretation thereof) will hereafter trump all our pathetic democratic notions about freedom, law and rights -- and our courts can't say a thing. This, of course, will take "In God We Trust" to an entirely new level, because soon He (and His personally anointed political elite) will be all the legal recourse we have left.
This is not a joke, a test, or a fit of libertarian paranoia. The CRA already has 28 sponsors in the House and Senate, and a March 20 call to lead sponsor Sen. Richard Shelby's office assures us that "we have the votes for passage."
[We're putting Z-Net in here because Lloyd e-mailed about this on Friday and he's been waiting ever since. My apologies to Lloyd.]
From the Canada's CBS, we'll note "Bombs hit airport, mall, hotel in southern Thailand:"
Three bombs exploded almost simultaneously in southern Thailand on Sunday, killing at least two people and injured at least 40 others.
The blasts hit an airport, a department store and a hotel in Songkhla province, which has been wracked by an Islamic insurgency for more than a year.
Also, we have a young member who's 12. She's a big fan of Avril Lavigne and I see this story on
the CBC that we'll note just for her, "Billy Talent, Avril, k-os win big at Junos:"
Rockers Billy Talent won two of the most coveted honours at the Juno Awards, Canada's annual celebration of music, while pop singer Avril Lavigne and rapper k-os won the count, netting three Junos apiece.
[. . .]
The pop-punk Lavigne -- currently on tour in Southeast Asia – won in absentia for artist of the year, pop album of the year for Under My Skin and the fan's choice award, which she accepted through a pre-taped message.
From Haaretz, we'll note Yoav Stern's "Envoy to Ethiopia dies from gunshot wounds:"
Israel's ambassador to Ethiopia, Doron Grossman, 49, died of his wounds yesterday morning at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, in Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry announced. Grossman shot himself in Addis Ababa last Tuesday, apparently after learning he was suffering from an advanced stage of terminal cancer.
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