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.
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?).
I'm not kidding: the Evanston (pop. 75,000) City Council has decided against war with Iran (pop. 66 million):
Aldermen on Evanston's Human Services Committee voted 4-1 Monday without discussion to back a resolution urging that the United States not take military action against Iran. The resolution was proposed by a coalition of local groups opposed to the war in Iraq.
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?'"
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.
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.
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.
Via Bruce Schneier, a fourth undersea cable providing Internet connectivity to much of the Middle East has been cut in as many weeks:
The first three have been blamed on ships' anchors, but there is some dispute about that. And that's two in the Mediterranean and two in the Persian Gulf. There have been no official reports of malice to me, but it's an awfully big coincidence. The fact that Iran has lost Internet connectivity only makes this weirder.
This may not be more important than tonight's primary elections, but it may be important.
I have to thank Mike Huckabee for comic relief just now, too.
Via Bruce Schneier, apparently the physical security of British nuclear weapons until around 1998 consisted of, essentially, a bicycle key:
To arm the weapons you just open a panel held by two captive screws - like a battery cover on a radio - using a thumbnail or a coin.
Inside are the arming switch and a series of dials which you can turn with an Allen key to select high yield or low yield, air burst or groundburst and other parameters.
The Bomb is actually armed by inserting a bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees. There is no code which needs to be entered or dual key system to prevent a rogue individual from arming the Bomb.
Oh. Well. Of course. Why use a hard-to-forge sequence of letters and numbers like the U.S. or U.S.S.R. when a little key will do?
So what prevented an accidental (or deliberate) British detonation until Tony Blair fixed the problem? Why, tradition, of course, what what!
The Royal Navy argued that officers of the Royal Navy as the Senior Service could be trusted: "It would be invidious to suggest... that Senior Service officers may, in difficult circumstances, act in defiance of their clear orders."
(Insert nervous laughter here.)
From this week's Economist, a strangely understated note:
The British army officially ended Operation Banner in Northern Ireland, its longest continuous operation. Soldiers were sent to the province in 1969 in what was intended to be a brief stint to quell sectarian violence. A garrison of 5,000 men will remain to offer support to the police.
More from the BBC about Tuesday's event:
The British army's operation in Northern Ireland came to an end at midnight after 38 years. Operation Banner—the Army's support role for the police—had been its longest continuous campaign, with more than 300,000 personnel taking part.
At the height of the Troubles, there were about 27,000 soldiers in Northern Ireland. From Wednesday, there will be no more than 5,000.
At 276,000 population, Belfast is about the same size as Raleigh, N.C., by the way.