Category Archives: news

US Politics: Overcoming Gerrymandering in Pennsylvania

You may have heard about gerrymandering. It is the practice, long used by both political parties, to re-draw electoral maps to favor candidates from their party. The Republicans took gerrymandering to an extreme after their victories in the 2010 elections.

For the first time (to my knowledge) there has been a successful legal challenge to what they did. That challenge was brought in Pennsylvania state courts, and has resulted in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court re-drawing the congressional districts in the commonwealth.

Not surprisingly, Pennsylvania Republicans are furious. They want to take this the US Supreme Court. It is doubtful, however, whether the Supreme Court will take the case, as it is based solely on state law.

The key point — the redrawn map gives Democrats a fighting chance to gain equal representation based on voting percentages. This, just before, the most important midterm elections of a generation.

Stay tuned!

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Mueller Update – 13 Russians Now On the Hot Seat

Bob Mueller’s investigation was in the news and then out of the news in light of the Florida  nightmare. But several stories are worth noting

Gates knows a lot, and his cooperation would be a huge step forward in nailing down WTF Manafort et al were up to. Meanwhile, Bannon was not very cooperative before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Did he say more to Mueller? Apparently yes. A lot more

At some point, we may find out what Bannon and Gates are saying.

Just after I posted the above came the news that Mueller has indicted 13 Russian individuals and 3 institutions for criminally conspiring to interfere in the 2016 elections.

Boom. Wham. That will change the focus of the conversation.  Republicans were gearing up to defend Trump — not Russians. They will have to re-think their attitude to Mueller now.

Big news!

Something is Happening in Saudi Arabia

Arrests of princes? Unheard of. But it just happened. NYT offers this blurb to explain

Taming the powerful religious establishment may bring historic change to Saudi Arabia, where the royal family has always governed in consensus with clerics.

It is not yet clear whether the arrests are more than just a bid by the crown prince to consolidate power and reduce corruption.

But if indeed the arrests lead to less Saudi support for radical Islamic causes, we could see a change in the so called “war against terrorism”.

Stay tuned!

Catalonia has declared independence from Spain

A headline like that gets your attention.

Here is the link to the BI article describing the current state of affairs.

Post referendum negotiations broke down. While it is not impossible that they will start up again, the crisis also has its own momentum. At a certain point, it becomes more difficult for either side to make concessions.

I am not an expert on the issues involved in this particular conflict. At the same time, I do know that the Catalans have historical reasons to see themselves as separate from Span. One question will be how will any solution to this conflict take this historical reality into account.

BTW, one might say the same for the Kurds in Iraq and Syria. Is there a place in this world for a people who historically have their own identity to govern themselves?

Stay tuned on this one.

The Galizia Case is Opened

This blurb from NYT tells you what you need to know about recently assassinated Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Daphne Caruana Galizia enraged dozens of powerful people with investigations that exposed corruption. Virtually nobody expects her killing to be solved.

Wikipedia offers more detail

This was her last blog post

, “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate

She didn’t realize how correct she was.  A very short time later, she was killed when a car bomb under her car was remotely detonated. BTW, that is the 5th car bombing this year in Malta.

 

Raqqa Has Fallen!

ISIS has lost its capital.

U.S.-backed militias have completely taken Syria’s Raqqa from Islamic State, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

The conflict that drew US into combat in Syria is now a mopping up operation. But I doubt if US forces are going anywhere. Fighting between the various tribes and factions continues and will continue until some sort of peace deal is worked out.

Stay tuned on that one. But at least we can now saw that the self proclaimed Caliphate has been crushed.