Publius Pundit has pretty much all the info on Zimbabwe's elections you'll need.
As of 10am UK time, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has won 31 of the 39 declared seats, although This is Zimbabwe reports that "presiding officers were instructed to openly flout the law by imposing a news black-out on the results until authorised to release them by Harare." There are also reports of tens of thousands of voters being disenfranchised.
Even if the incredible does happen, and the opposition manage to overcome Mugabe's dodgy tactics (even if they seem to have been surprisingly nonviolent this time), The Zimbabwean notes that the MDC will still not be able to form a government.
It has to be said - considering the date I'm wondering if these early, hopeful results aren't just an elaborate and sick practical joke to piss off the opposition even more...
Russian revolts - March madness?
It's all going a bit mental in the former Soviet Union, in case you hadn't noticed. Siberian Light's weekly news roundup has some concerning and potentially important stories which the western media certainly doesn't seem to have picked up on much. Some highlights:
After the surprise events in Kyrgyzstan, which not a single "expert" on the region managed to predict the outcome of, any of these could turn out to be something major...
However, the one from Siberian Light's excellent roundup that is most likely to make the news: Moscow has invited North Korean maniac Kim Jong Il to celebrate the 60th anniversary of VE Day in Moscow
. US President George W Bush has already confirmed he will be attending
. This could turn out to be a nice diplomatic incident...
Bits and pieces
Blogger is playing up, so just a few quickies while it's working to let you know I'm still here.
Paul Wolfowitz is trying to reassure everyone that he's not going to bugger up the World Bank, and seems to be attempting to suck up to the EU to make up for his ex-boss Donald Rumsfeld's somewhat antagonistic remarks about "old Europe".
In other Euro news, here's The Bluffer’s Guide to… the Bolkestein directive on services - sounds dull, but it's likely to be a major issue as neither the right nor the left are especially happy with the thing...
Closer to home, Chicken Yoghurt sums up what must be many people's feelings in the UK right now, while Perfect has a round-up of some of the nonsense we're having to put up with.
Still it looks like the state of political debate is soon going to be raised a notch, as Blair finally answers the toughest questions. From a couple of 10 year olds on "Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway".
Christ almighty... This is how respect for the British political system ends - not with a bang, but with a faint feeling of embarrassment. It's going to be like watching your Dad drunkenly groping a teenage girl at a party.
The "interview" will likely be broadcast this Saturday - just two days before the expected announcement of the general election on Monday 4th April. Nice bit of free propaganda there from ITV. Unless they get in a couple of particularly subversive 10 year olds, that is...
Following The Zimbabwean's online launch (anticipating Thursdays's doubtless dodgy elections) comes This is Zimbabwe, a bog from the Sokwanele opposition civic action support group. Worth a look - although sadly no comment facility up at the moment. (Hat tip Cabalamat Journal.)
Elsewhere, via Siberian Light, The Agonist has Some Things You Need to Know About Kyrgyzstan. Siberian Light also points to a Tulip FAQ and part 2, a Kyrgyz who's who.
The FAQ in turn points to a couple of blogs from Kyrgyzstan - Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan and Aileyinastan - although the latter is now being updated from Germany. The first blog has links to a number of others from Peace Corps volunteers although, unlike with Ukraine's Orange Revolution, there don't appear to be any native Kyrgyz bloggers writing in English at the moment. Nonetheless, Registan.net (the blog formerly known as The Argus) continues to do a great job of keeping track of everything.
Meanwhile, Publius Pundit asks why there is no attention being paid to vote-rigging in Tajikistan, and points in the direction of an article by a resident outlining the background to the disputed elections there which, as of yet, have received scant attention from pretty much anyone outside the country.
More bullshit scare tactics
After Blogging Labour MP Tom Watson (which sparked off an interesting discussion, at least), this time it's Peter "Two Jobs" Hain spouting the guff about how if you vote Lib Dem you'll get the Tories.
As I believe someone said before - "Vote Kennedy, possibly get Howard - but vote Blair, get Blair".
Watch this. Watch this. Try and spot the difference between the two parties. Then remind yourself of some of the other crap. Then at least consider checking out Strategic Voter, Vote 4 Peace, So Now Who Do We Vote For? and Backing Blair.
Hell, judging by what happened in Birmingham last time elections were held, even if you do try and vote for another party Labour will just alter your ballot paper anyway...
Ah, it's great to be living in such a wonderfully free country, isn't it?
Portillo in EU promotion shocker!
I did have a nice long post about a couple of nicely Eurosceptic articles in today's Sunday Times, but there was a Bloggerquake, and the entire bloody thing got lost. Being trusting in technology, I type it direct into the thing and never cut and paste from Word, so I have no backup. Piss.
Here they are, anyway, with far less well-considered commentary (which is also, thankfully, considerably shorter - I think I went into rant mode after a bit...):
First up, "French ready to spite Chirac on EU" - which takes the rather unusual line for a Eurosceptic paper of saying that because the proposed constitution should prevent a French farmer from being paid £60 an acre in subsidies (that's £60 an acre paid for by the EU taxpayer), it's a bad thing...
The rest of the article is overly simplified "us vs. them" stuff, where the current shift towards opposing the constitution which seems to be happening in France is a combination of old school French arrogance and xenophobia - largely against the British, but also against Turkey. Still, some interesting stuff in there hidden amongst the guff.
Second up is Tory ex-minister and leadership hopeful Michael Portillo, an arch Eurosceptic vby his own admission but whom I normally rather like, with a nicely constructed but overly simplistic take on the whole constitution thing:
"The integrationists want a constitution, president and foreign minister because those are the attributes of a nation state. The treaty does not bring about a United States of Europe, but it seeks to accustom us to the terminology and institutions of a country called Europe."Yes Michael. Of course. A constitution, president and foreign minister are the attributes of a nation state and there can OBVIOUSLY be no other motivation for wanting any of these than the desire to become a nation state. Which is precisely why practically every major City company has a constitution, Chief Executive (president) and external relations manager (foreign minister) - they're all wanting to become nation states too, aren't they?
As for the old and frankly stale argument about being "accustomed" to the "terminology and institutions" of some kind of European state, this is the typical bullshit which is repeated every single time the EU is mentioned. I could accuse Portillo of precisely the same thing - the more he blathers on about the EU, its terminology and institutions, the more his readers are going to be aware of it. If they're more aware of it they might start supporting it. Load of old nonsense, in other words.
There's more nonsense in amongst the rest of the article, which I would go through and dissect line by line, but that's utterly dull and would take forever. Instead, what with it being a bank holiday and all, I'm going to crack open a beer.
(Oh, and if anyone can tell me who all the people are who are voting in the Guardian's weblog awards, I'd be grateful. By my calculations, since polls opened on Wednesday evening this site has received more votes than it has had visitors in that time - and other sites on there seem to have disproportionate amounts of support for their relative Technorati popularities. As I am only getting about an extra 30-40 visitors a day from the Guardian, is there something dodgy going on, or what?)