Monday, March 31, 2008

Zimbabwean Election

The results of Saturday's election are still not in although Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission is giving the opposition Movement for Democratic Change a six seat lead over Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwean National Union-Patriotic Front. If no presidential candidate receives 50% of the vote there will be a runoff on April 19th. I've a feeling the opposition will win but that Mugabe will find a way to cling to power. If that happens, the violence in Zimbabwe will make Kenya look like a Sunday picnic. If Mugabe digs in his heels, one can only hope that South African President Thabo Mbeki will have the good sense to invite him to live out his golden years in South Africa as they did with Mugabe's predecessor Ian Smith who died last November. Of course, if the opposition does win and Mugabe does accept the results the euphoria will not last long. The country is seeped in hyperinflation, AIDS and food shortages. These problems will not be resolved in the next decade, let alone my lifetime. It is worth remembering that there was a euphoria when Mugabe came to power in 1980 as white minority rule came to end. There was much left to be desired for blacks under Ian Smith but Mugabe found a way to make life worse for everyone - black or white.

One More Note on the Nationals

I would be remiss if I didn't talk a little about the Nationals-Braves game. After Bush called the Chipper Jones homerun, it was 2-1 for the Nationals. There was no scoring until the top of the 9th, with two outs, when pinch runner Martin Prado scored on a wild pitch by Jon Rauch to tie the game. The Braves pitching was superb. After the Nationals scored two runs in the first, Braves pitching led by Tim Hudson, followed by Will Ohman and Peter Boylan retired the next 24 batters. But Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman broke the string with a walk off homerun in the bottom of the 9th to give the Nats a 3-2 victory. OK, there are 161 games to go and my prediction for the Nationals to win the National League is a longshot. But make no mistake this team can compete even if they have suspect hitting and barely adequate starting pitching. They have an outstanding bullpen and they get their hits when they need to get them. Andrew might have reason to celebrate this October.

Al Sadr Blinks; Signs Ceasefire

I was a little worried when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki backed off his 72 hour ultimatum against the Shiite militias and extended his deadline to April 8th. But as it turned out he was just buying a little time as yesterday, after a week of fighting, Muqtada al-Sadr unexpectedly pulled his fighters off the streets of Basra and have negotiated a ceasefire with the Iraqi government. This is Maliki's biggest achievement since becoming almost two years ago. When he first took office, he appeared nothing more than a puppet of al Sadr and the Mahdi Army. But the Iraqi Army is clearly performing better and Maliki is gaining confidence. The more the Iraqi Army can defend themselves in time we will be in a position to draw down our troops. Things are really getting better in Iraq and now is not the time to follow the prescription of surrender by Dr. Obama or Nurse Hillarycare.

Bush Throws Out First Pitch at Nationals' Park

President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the brand new home of the Washington Nationals prior to their game against the Atlanta Braves. After playing their first three seasons at RFK Stadium, Nationals' Park is their new home. Unlike when he threw out the first pitch at Game 3 of the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium, Bush was greeted with a chorus of jeers accompanied by a smattering of applause. Bush rushed his pitch to home plate and it was high although with good velocity. He would join ESPN broadcasters Jon Miller and Joe Morgan for the 3rd inning and the top of the 4th. When Atlanta thirdbaseman Chipper Jones hit a solo homerun in the 4th, Bush adroitly noted it was the first homerun hit at Nationals' Park. Bush also discussed steroids and the need for baseball to return to the inner city. Perhaps the most interesting thing he said was that he attended his first major league game at the Polo Grounds where the New York Giants faced the Milwaukee Braves. He did not say when he attended but it would have been between 1954 and 1957. The Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee after the 1953 season and the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dith Pran, 1942-2008. R.I.P.

Dith Pran, the Cambodian photojournalist who survived what he termed the "killing fields" of Pol Pot's Cambodia, died today at the age of 65. Three months ago he was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas. Dith's harrowing journey after the fall of Phnom Penh (which he covered with journalist Sydney Schanberg)was documented in the 1984 film The Killing Fields surviving on little food and escaping to Thailand on a trial of skeletal remains. Dith was portrayed by Dr. Haing S. Ngor, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance. Dr. Ngor also lived through the killing fields. Sadly, Dr. Ngor was murdered in 1996. Dith came to the United States in 1979 and began working as a photographer for The New York Times the following year.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

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