The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Great news, not an April Fools joke

MSNBC is reporting that Robert Mugabe, who has, as dictator, destroyed Zimbabwe's economy, may be stepping down:

Advisers of Zimbabwe's president and main opposition leader are discussing Robert Mugabe relinquishing power, The Associated Press has learned from someone close to the state electoral commission.

Meanwhile, a projection by the ruling party, ZANU-PF, indicates that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will beat Mugabe, but be forced into a runoff vote in three weeks, Reuters reported.

About friggin' time.

Krugman on the Dilbert Strategy

Krugman's column today explains how Treasury's banking "reform" over the last week isn't, actually. And he concludes with a fear I've had for some time now:

If we don’t reform the system this time, the next crisis could well be even bigger. And I, for one, really don’t want to live through a replay of the 1930s.

It's a must-read.

Why are there red-light cameras again?

Via Bruce Schneier, confirmation of your suspicions about automatic traffic cameras:

Faced with data showing that drivers pay attention to cameras at intersections — resulting in fewer ticketable violations and ever-shrinking revenue from fines — municipalities across the country are reconsidering red light cameras, which often work too well.

...

Citywide statistics obtained by NBC [Dallas] affiliate KXAS-TV found that red light cameras do reduce accidents. That is a good thing.

But they do it by reducing red light violations, by as much as 29 percent from month to month at particularly busy Dallas intersections. On the face of it, that, too, is a good thing — but not, necessarily, if you rely on traffic fines to make up a healthy chunk of your budget.

I don't even know where to begin. It's just sad, isn't it, that saving lives isn't the reason we enforce traffic regulations.

Forehead-slapping proposal

Via Calculated Risk, Georgia's junior (Republican) senator has one of the dumbest proposals in history:

Isakson is pitching an idea to his colleagues in Congress: a $15,000 tax rebate check to anyone who agrees to buy a home. Congressional budget analysts project the program would cost $14 billion over the next few years. But Isakson said the rebate checks are well worth the hefty price tag. "If we can convince buyers to come back to the marketplace and buy these houses, then the houses aren't vacant. It's replaced by an owner-occupant, who is there making payments on a loan and helping all of the other houses around."

Where does one begin to explain to this guy what's wrong with the proposal?

I hope longtime blog reader AR, a resident of Georgia, will chime in and explain how this guy got elected.

The enemy of my enemy...

Via Talking Points Memo, Reuters reports the reception Iran's president got in Baghdad this week:

Pomp and ceremony greeted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his arrival in Iraq on Sunday, the fanfare a stark contrast to the rushed and secretive visits of his bitter rival U.S. President George W. Bush.

Ahmadinejad held hands with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani as they walked down a red carpet to the tune of their countries' national anthems, his visit the first by an Iranian president since the two neighbours fought a ruinous war in the 1980s.

His warm reception, in which he was hugged and kissed by Iraqi officials and presented with flowers by children, was Iraq's first full state welcome for any leader since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Weren't our troops supposed to be greeted this way? Funny how that didn't happen.

William F. Buckley, Jr.

...died last night, aged 82:

William F. Buckley Jr., the erudite Ivy Leaguer and conservative herald who showered huge and scornful words on liberalism as he observed, abetted and cheered on the right's post-World War II rise from the fringes to the White House, died Wednesday. He was 82.

Wheat price increase foretells great doom: Daily Mash

The UK humor site Daily Mash has a different take than, say, the Chicago Tribune:

THE price of a bushel of wheat rose yet again in the markets of Flanders yesterday presaging a monstrous tribulation and a grave rise in the price of mead, the Lord High Guardian of the King's Purse has warned.

...

The noble lord forewarned that a time of privation would surely be visited on the kingdom, when the peasant would find himself cast from his wretched midden and the knight dispossessed of his estates by the grubby moneychangers of old Lombard Street.

Countrywide may want to improve its process

Via Calculated Risk, in Sunday's Chicago Tribune:

The new buyers of a rundown graystone on the South Side showed up Jan. 9 to look at the house they won at a foreclosure auction. They took the plywood off the front door and went inside to make sure the utilities had been shut off. Then they called the police.

Sitting upright in the corner of a bedroom off the kitchen was a human skeleton in a red tracksuit. Next to him lay a dead dog. Neighbors told police the corpse was almost certainly Randy Johnson, a middle-age man who lived alone in the North Kenwood house.

...

Left holding the bag is Countrywide Home Loans, the nation's largest mortgage lender and a company whose practices are being scrutinized by the Illinois attorney general's office. Countrywide made mortgages of $450,000 on the property. Now it is likely to lose it all because it financed the sale of a home whose rightful owner was in no condition to sell.

Lovely.