The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Stephen, we hardly knew ye

Canada's Conservative government has called a snap election:

Prolonged speculation over whether Canada’s minority Conservative government would call an early election has ended with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement that voters will go to the polls on October 14th. This is a full year ahead of the date Mr Harper proposed in legislation submitted after he assumed power in January.

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This will be the third national election for Canada in just over four years, and highlights the difficulty recent governments have had in garnering majority support at the polls. Both the major parties had for months appeared wary of pushing for an early election until they had strong enough backing to win a majority. Until recently the Conservatives enjoyed a slim lead in opinion polls, allowing them to force the Liberals to back down in parliament. Some recent polls show both parties holding nearly equal popular support. The Tories have been damaged by a series of scandals that have tarnished their public image; the latest of these, a campaign-financing scandal, is currently being examined by a parliamentary committee. This has benefited the Liberals....

To some extent, I'm envious of the Canadian system. Last week no one knew they'd have an election this year, and before our third Presidential debate (and three weeks ahead of our own election), they'll either have an entirely new government or the Tories will have a mandate for five more years.

Do you think their campaign will be about patriotism, pigs, or POWs? No? Neither do I.

Now they're really cross

Columbian president Alvaro Uribe admitted today that members of the hostage-rescue team last week wore the Red Cross symbol during the mission, which is a serious violation of the laws of war:

Such a use of the Red Cross emblem could constitute a "war crime" under the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law and could endanger humanitarian workers in the future, according to international legal expert Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association.

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Misuse of the Red Cross emblem is governed by articles 37, 38 and 85 of Additional Protocol One to the Geneva Conventions, the international rules of war. The articles prohibit "feigning of protected status by the use of ... emblems" of neutral parties and say that such misuses are considered breaches of international humanitarian law that qualify as a "war crime."

Oops.

That'll show him!

Her Majesty the Queen has punished the unspeakably foul dictator who has ruined Zimbabwe and thrown millions into starving poverty, by stripping him of his knighthood. This, on top of her government's ongoing finger-wagging and tut-tutting, will no doubt shame Robert Mugabe into better behaviour. Morgan Tsvangerai, you can go home now.

Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama have finally spoken up, though. They are probably the two most influential people in the world on this matter, so perhaps—just perhaps—things may start to change.

Txt a2m1

It seems text-message shorthand sorely vexes the French. Well, some of them, anyway:

"Look at what text-messaging is doing to the French language," lamented President Nicolas Sarkozy in February. "If we let things go, in a few years we will have trouble understanding each other." Most secondary-school pupils have their own mobile telephones, and they use an abbreviated phonetic language to communicate. A2M1, for instance, means à demain, or "see you tomorrow." JTM is je t'aime (I love you). Or try: Ta HT 1 KDO? (T'as acheté un cadeau?, or have you bought a present?).

Well, there's just no arguing with that

Not sure what to make of this in the 21st century:

Penis theft panic hits city

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Wow. From Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko:

"[W]hen you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it?'"

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.

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.

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.

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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.