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BENAZIR Bhutto is murdered and Gordon Brown makes a stand:
Gordon Brown: “Knowing, as she did, the threats to her life, the previous attempt at assassination, she risked everything in her attempt to win democracy in Pakistan, and she has been assassinated by cowards afraid of democracy. This is a dark day for everyone who believed in a stable and democratic future for Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto may have been killed by terrorists, but the terrorists must not be allowed to kill democracy in Pakistan. And this atrocity strengthens our resolve that terrorists will not win there, here or anywhere in the world”
No surrender. Unless…
Gordon Brown And The Taliban: “Spies from Britain’s MI6 are thought to have held at least six meetings with key Taliban figures in order to negotiate a peace deal in Afghanistan’s south-eastern Helmand province. The revelations are an embarrassment to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who just a fortnight ago denied in the British Parliament any such talks were taking place”
Fearless stuff. Benazir Bhutto is missed…
“If it means sacrificing our lives, if it means sacrificing our liberties to save Pakistan, then we are prepared to risk our lives and we are prepared to risk our liberties, but we are not prepared to surrender our great nation to the militants” – Benazir Bhutto.
A WRITER comments on Benazir Bhutto: Quite interesting that India and Pakistan were the same country with the same people. When the people split and two nations were born, democratic Hindu (secular laws) India now flourishes, whereas the democracy-phobic Pakistan with its Islamic citizens has been a total failure.
Now the task for the Muslims and left wingers is to somehow try and blame Israel and America for this.
Benazir Bhutto, a leading democratic leader of Pakistan, is dead. Suicide bombing in the city of Rawalpindi. 20 others dead. Like her or not, very sad day. Deepest levels of hell for those organizing such bestiality.
I suspect there are going to be riots like crazy. Actually, from what I’m hearing they’ve already started.
Apparently her car was shot at before the suicide bomber killed himself. When the guy started shooting he was apprehended, then he blew himself up. (Geo TV). It was the shot to the neck that killed her, say her people.
Its very important to see what Musharraf does. If he does not arrest any terrorist sympathizers in the military, that’s a problem. Musharraf did kill Akbar Bugti, the Balochi leader, a few years ago.
Rawalpindi, incidentally, was the city where Benazir’s father, Zulfiqar, was hung by General Zia ul Haq in 1978. One of my relatives reminds me that Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was also killed in Rawalpindi, circa 1950. The place Benazir was killed is called Liaquat Bagh — Liaquat Garden.
Additionally, there were sniper shots at a Nawaz Sharif — the other democratic leader and former prime minister — rally as well, killing four people. He was not there. Nawaz Sharif is ineligible to run for elections. Benazir was eligible.
On the web:
AFP: “Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf appealed to the nation to remain peaceful on Thursday after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto ‘so that the evil designs of terrorists can be defeated,’ state TV said.”John Podhoretz: “The murder of Bhutto moves foreign policy, the war on terror, and the threat of Islamofascism back into the center of the 2008 campaign.”
Roger Simon: “Since all politics is semi-local, it will be interesting to see what ramifications this event has on domestic presidential politics.”
AP: Bush condemns Bhutto assassination.
Jules Crittenden: Who killed Benazir Bhutto? A roundup.
The Belmont Club: “The next few days will show whether the Pakistani Army — for it will surely not be the Taliban — can rededicate itself to electoral democracy. Pakistan needs its George Washington. Unfortunately it only has its Pervez Musharraf.”
Pakistani Spectator: Angry crowds in Rawalpindi are burning shops and vehicles and shouting slogans. Bhutto’s husband and two daughters have left Pakistan for Dubai.
Classical Values: “It not only does not bode well for democracy in Pakistan, but by highlighting the growing instability of a nuclear power, it’s a reminder that isolationism — whether of the Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, or Dennis Kucinich varieties — is not a great idea.”
Michelle Malkin: “They tried and failed when she returned to Pakistan in October. They tried and failed with a baby suicide bomber. Yesterday, they stopped a 15-year-old with a bomb packed full of nails trying to kill her. Today, they succeeded. Dammit, dammit, dammit”
The Pakistan Policy Blog: Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated in Rawalpindi on October 16, 1951. Bhutto’s father was also hung in Rawalpindi in 1979. Ms. Bhutto joins the list of assassinated family members: her brother Shahnawaz died from poisoning in France in 1985 and her other brother Murtaza was shot to death by police at close range in 1996.
Donklephant: “Well Pakistan, this is your chance. You can see what people will do to stop a more democratic government from gaining a foothold. Will you let this deter you or will you push towards a more just and fair republic?”
Getty Images: Graphic photos of the attack
MSNBC: “Bhutto’s supporters at the hospital began chanting “Dog, Musharraf, dog…” Some of them smashed the glass door at the main entrance of the emergency unit, others burst into tears.”
Reuters: “Police said a suicide bomber fired shots at Bhutto as she was leaving the rally venue in a park before blowing himself up. ‘The man first fired at Bhutto’s vehicle. She ducked and then he blew himself up,’ said police officer Mohammad Shahid.”
CNN: Media reports quote her husband saying she suffered a bullet wound to the neck in the attack.
THE inheritance of US heiress Paris Hilton will shrink after her grandfather vowed give most of his fortune to charity.
Hotel magnate Barron Hilton, 80, will donate 97% of his $2.3bn (£1.2bn; 1.6bn euros) fortune to the Conrad N Hilton Foundation.
What odds a charity job for the tireless Paris?
NOW this: “A suspected suicide attack at a rally of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has left at least 15 people dead, police say.
“A PPP spokesman has told the BBC that Ms Bhutto was injured. It is not clear how badly. She had just addressed the rally in the town of Rawalpindi”
IN “Secrets of a Hollywood survivor” the Times share a skinny latte with “top Hollywood producer MR X”.
He relives a moment:
Proximity to wealth does not make one wealthy. In fact, the closer you are, the more painfully obvious your non-richness becomes.
I once played in a high-stakes poker game with a Very Famous Actor. There were several other high-profile people involved, but the last hand came down to just me and him.
Now I’m no expert, but my pocket aces seemed awfully eager to meet their shiny red brother in the middle of the table. Three aces — I could smell the pot coming my way, and all I could think of was how to collect the chips gracefully. The Famous Actor turned to me and said: “Shall we raise it to $10,000?”
I knew two things for sure: there was no way I could afford the bet, and I’d be damned if I was going to lose to that bully-betting bastard. You know what happened next.
When I got home, my girlfriend asked me how I could lose a quarter of my annual salary on one hand of poker, and I replied — quite logically — that I thought I could beat him.
When she reminded me that he’d starred in a classic movie about poker (which I realised, somewhat belatedly, probably involved months of poker lessons), I knew that it was time to end the relationship. Or, more accurately, have the relationship ended for me.
TOTESPORT Casino is the internet arm of the Tote, the bookmaker owned and operated by the Government.
The Guardian reports that Totesport is relocating to the offshore tax haven of Alderney.
This enables it to advertise freely in the UK while avoiding UK tax and regulation.
The Government loves tax. You pay it. And you might suppose that its businesses should too. This is a loophole. Cynics might say loopholes exist not by accident but by design. They enable businesses to remain competitive and the Government to look proactive at election time when it vows to close the loophole.
Play them at their own game – with a Casino Bonus
Daily Express readers can rest easy. It’s not a re-branded Ariana Airlines, the carrier that brought Afghan hijackers to the UK in 2000. This is a service taking asylum seekers away from Blighty.
Asylum Airways is run by Austrian aviation consultant Heinz Berger. His plan is to offer a kind of Appeals On Wheels bus service, his jets flying around Europe picking up failed asylum seekers and dropping them off somewhere else.
The planes will boast padded rooms, restraints and straps. Mr Berger may have confused political asylum for a lunatic asylum, but Easy jet services to Faliraki are looking on with envy, and interest.
The Independent has a picture of Mr Berger holding a model plane that looks not unlike the kind of vehicle that drops parcels of grain and Blue Peter badges on impoverished Africans.
Might it be that to save the bother of landing the aircraft, and keep carbon footprints to a minimum, Mr Berger’s aircraft will not so much land as dip?
Should Mr Berger’s service solve the asylum issue, expect other similar initiatives, such NHS Air, Credit Crunch Air and for global warmists, Hot Air…
HAIRDRESSERS unders siege: “BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Umm Doha cuts hair and waxes eyebrows in secret from her living room because making women look pretty can get a person killed in her Sunni-dominated Baghdad neighborhood.
“Hardline Muslim extremists who believe it is sinful for women to appear beautiful in public have forced many beauticians to move their trade underground.
“Sunni and Shiite militants began blowing up salons roughly two years ago. They killed several stylists and bullied others into putting down their scissors and makeup brushes for good, all in an effort to stamp out what they view as the corrupting spread of Western culture.”
CLICK and run, says the FT: “Google took the top spot. Its shares rose 47 per cent between its announcement in April of the $3.1bn purchase of Doubleclick, the internet advertising company, and December 14. The search engine outperformed the S&P 500 index by 44 per cent.”
“Zahi Hawass, who chairs Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told the BBC the law would apply in all countries.”
Can you copyright a pyramid?
Vivian Norris de Montaigu on subprime mortgages:
And that is exactly the problem, the money is not really there, it is tied up in your neighbor’s home and someone else’s home. And if your neighbor cannot pay back, or you cannot pay back, the entire system suffers. The problem is that trust was not part of this sub-prime equation once someone greedy got their hands on it. In the beginning, the idea was to actually help people build up equity, therefore strengthen the economy, by buying their own homes. Mortgage companies do not want everyone’s homes back, they want to sell homes. Many people in the business were actually excited that people who normally would not get access to money to purchase a home, could end up doing so and making monthly payments that were less than rent to a faraway landlord. Because one way you begin to touch the American Dream is by building up equity, and it was not those who took subprime loans who ruined the deal, it was the speculators who used cheap money to flip real estate. They were not investing in homes for their families, they were trying to make a fast buck. But both sides lose, when the borrower does not understand the contract he or she is signing, or no one factors into the borrowing equation the higher monthly payment of an arm.
“Several stores in the Beyoğlu and Kadıköy districts of Istanbul were raided, with police questioning storeowners whether they kept T-shirts that promoted drugs“.
Whether this is a law, or police discretion in operation is not entirely clear, nor yet whether sporting a shirt like so will give visiting tourists a chance to have the full Midnight Express experience.
I imagine that most folk wearing t-shirts like so do it mainly to annoy their parents etc, as a sage shopkeeper interviewed notes, “The ban is meaningless since people using or selling drugs never wear any kind of drug symbols in order to remain inconspicuous“. Well, exactly.
Sartorial questions to one side, there is a very serious issue here as to the right or otherwise to campaign, one way or another for a change in the law. Would a plain t-shirt with the slogan ‘Repeal [insert penal code reference] now‘, without a cannabis leaf, ecstasy pill etc bring down the wrath of The Man in the same way? And if so, what if the penal code reference was to something else, like – cough – Article 301, which prohibits ‘insulting Turkishness‘, by way of pointing the finger over the Armenian genocides?
I like the Pope, the Pope smokes dope…
CURRENTLY, the total national US debt stands at $9,136,418,062,457.29.
Like a ticking time bomb, the national debt is an explosion waiting to happen. It’s expanding by about $1.4 billion a day — or nearly $1 million a minute.
What’s that mean to you?
It means almost $30,000 in debt for each man, woman, child and infant in the United States.
WITH pipe and in cardigan, Tony Benn delivers his hopes for 2008 – MI5 permitting:
I’d like to see troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately in 2008. I’d also like assurances that there will be no attack upon Iran. I would like to see Israel withdraw to its historic frontiers, to make possible the establishment of a Palestinian state, and lift the embargo on Gaza.
I would also like to see the religious element in the world’s conflicts removed, as all the major religions preach the same thing: treat others the same as you would like others to treat you. I would like to see the UN strengthened and made more democratic, to better reflect the size of the states involved. This would mean that China would have a bigger representation than Luxembourg, which is not the case at the moment.
There should also be a much more serious examination of market forces after the Northern Rock episode. Pensions should be linked to earnings as they used to be, while students should be liberated from the debt they accumulate for acquiring an education. I would like to see an end to privatisation, which I do not think has worked, and finally I would like to see Parliament stand up for itself much more than it did in 2007.
THE Dutch Government’s consumer safety institute issues advice on fireworks.
“What is the campaign hoping to achieve by depicting a negative stereotype of the Muslim community in a fireworks advert?” says Saad Saraf, the chief executive of multicultural marketing specialists Media Reach Advertising.
“Are the producers aware that the actors in the advert are speaking in an Iraqi accent; with the current state of affairs in Iraq and the loss of lives as a result of suicide bombing, I question, what were the creatives thinking?”
Anorak’s resident mad mullah paused only to say it is T minus 4 days to New Year’s Eve…
VLADIMIR Putin’s dog, Connie, will be fitted with a satnav collar.
Walls have ears…
LIFE imitates art (Borat): BISHKEK (Reuters) – “Seeking a novel remedy to revive its rickety economy, the tiny ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan has declared itself the new home of Santa Claus.
“Citing Swedish engineering firm that determined the ideal spot for Santa’s global toy delivery hub, officials in this predominantly Muslim country have quickly moved to capitalize on the finding.
“They named a mountain peak after Santa, to join Mounts Lenin, and Yeltsin, and declared 2008 The Year of Santa Claus.
“Its slogan will be ‘Kyrgyzstan is the land of Santa Clauses’, said Kyrgyz tourism authority spokeswoman Nurkhon Tajibayeva.”
WHO knew – the war is being won: Iraqis crowd churches for Christmas mass.
TONY and Cherie or: “Photographers are stalking the Egyptian resort of Luxor, after Nicolas Sarkozy arrived there to holiday with his new girlfriend, former model Carla Bruni.
“Holding hands with Ms Bruni, the French president waved at onlookers as they arrived at their luxury hotel.
“But security is tight with plainclothes guards deployed in the town and two journalists were briefly detained on Monday night after filming the hotel.”
IRAN and the bomb, sorry nuclear power: TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran said on Monday it rejected any preconditions for talks with the United States, which suspects it wants an atomic bomb, and a member of parliament was quoted as saying Tehran planned 19 nuclear power plants.
Reports the Jerusalem Post: “If a nuclear war between Israel and Iran were to break out 16-20 million Iranians would lose their lives – as opposed to 200,000-800,000 Israelis, according to a report recently published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which is headed by Anthony H. Cordesman, formerly an analyst for the US Department of Defense.”
WHICH place is next? You Highness:
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) – The world’s last Hindu monarchy is to be swept aside under an agreement between Nepal’s former communist rebels and its major political parties that sets the stage for the country once idealized as a Himalayan Shangri La to become a republic.
Ever been to Katmandu? Like Birmingham, only with less planning…
SOVEREIGN Wealth Funds – “An issue rumbling away in the business sections for the past few months, and likely to rumble on in the New Year, are the activities of what are called “sovereign wealth funds,” enormous funds, usually accumulated from government oil revenues and run by countries such as Norway.”
Big money. Foreign money.
“They are now major buyers of assets such as chunks of shares of banks like Citi, the US bank that has taken massive write-downs connected to the US sub-prime mortgage crisis.
“The question that comes up, especially when these funds are run by Middle Eastern governments or the Chinese, is whether their control of large parts of western firms poses some sort of ‘problem’.
“At this stage, I do not see it being a problem. As Sylvia Pfeiffer points out, these funds ultimately want what any intelligent investor wants: maximumum possible returns. I suppose that conspiracy theorists might wonder whether the Chinese, say, will deliberately run their acquisitions into the ground as part of some grand dastardly Blofeld-like plan to take over the world, but this strikes me as a bit unlikely. Perhaps more significant are issues such as protection of intellectual property rights and whether the companies that get taken over are as open about their accounts and profits as before. But again, it strikes me that as long as these new funds do not breach any regular laws against fraud or force, I do not see their activities as a problem.
“The truth is, emerging economies in Asia, coupled with the petro-dollar wealth of the MidEast, parts of Asia, Russia and even Africa, is giving these funds a degree of market muscle that has taken some investment observers by surprise, but it should not do so. We are living through a major period of change in the economic clout of non-western states.
We might as well learn to profit from it.”
So says Samizdata. We say if the foreign power is looking to make money, then why not use a SWF. Or why not just give it back to people in tax breaks and let them decide how the money should be spent?
AS the Telegraph reports, Iggle Piggle, from the trippy chidlren’s TV show In The Night Garden is 31-year-old Nick Kellington, a member of rock band Ella Guru