Monday, October 27, 2008

Staying Sane Teaching Sticks as Drug War Rages

The Republic of Colombia is the 4th largest nation in South America birthed from colonialism and the name Christopher Columbus with two main warring factional parties with embarrassing fringe elements, Conservatives and Liberals. Mix in the profligate drug trade of highly lucrative cocaine and the mix is permanently combustible. Drug cartels, both Medellín and Cali, were world famous for their brutal kidnappings and torture.

The Andean foothills and the picturesque coast are where the majority of the population reside while the steamy tropical Amazon jungle portion is used to hide a multitude of sins and long held hostages.
Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or FARC holds a four star terrorist tag in the US and in official Colombia, but not with Hugo Chavez's Venezuela or a Castro's Cuba because of their Marxist-Lenin communist origins inspired by Bolivar. Common cause was attempted multiple time with the cartels by rebel members of FARC.

Today's FARC is below 10,000 guerrillas after a rampaging heyday controlling much of the rainforest and the production of cocaine. Bogotá citizens of import held another lucrative fundraising means, kidnapping for ransom. Except, when FARC does the kidnapping, it is for years or decade and the victim is forced to survive the most treacherous of environments while being chained like the neighborhood dog with nonstop beatings. FARC twin system of oppression forced juveniles, boys and girls, into servitude and hostages into submission. Hostages stumbling out of the territory into the civilization after years make for dramatic moments to crush the supposed invincibility of FARC. FARC-EP is up against a conservative president that is determined to cur off their supply lines and deploy the military to take back the country by driving the rebels deeper into ferocious foilage while decreasing their numbers by offering incentives for defections and assassinations. That lead to another miracle emerging from the depths of human depravity.

Oscar Tulio Lizcano, 63, escaped through the jungles, marching for three days with his FARC jailer before reaching an army post on Sunday where the guerrilla surrendered to troops.

His escape is the latest blow to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia, or FARC, which has lost three top commanders this year as
President Alvaro Uribe's U.S.-backed military campaign drives rebels deeper into remote jungles.

"The loneliness was terrible. They were forbidden to talk to me," Lizcano, who once taught university classes, told Caracol radio. "I put sticks in the ground... and gave them names and taught them classes, two or three hours a day in classes, imagining I was in a classroom."

Earlier this year, FARC suffered more humiliation of the Colombian military rescuing hostages without a shot being fired by tricking them. American defense contractors held for five years were among those released alongside former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt on 2 July. This escape is a double whammy with the ex-FARC guard who aided congressman and college economics's lecturer Lizcano's escape after his 5 August, 2000 abduction, winning asylum to France with his paramour and a cash reward of just over $400,000 from the USA. France has been instrumental in seeking means to release hostages with the added incentive of Betancourt being a dual French citizen.

Lecturing stick students on World War I, Bolivarianism and Philosophy in an open air jungle amphitheater full of parasites, biting bugs and poisonous snakes was an innovative
way to pass the time and keep the mind working under terrible circumstances. Not allowed to speak to his baker's dozen of guards, even as they starved due to the disruption of their supply lines, the student sticks were his company for three hours a day. The occasional treat was a radio that played family messages on Sunday nights or the meal of heart of palm or sugar cane.

Meanwhile, Colombia is on an international charm offensive led by President Alvaro Uribe. The image is that Columbia is cleaning up its act - narco-terrorism and there should be every reason for the US Congress to approve the Colombian Free Trade Agreement according to conservatives. Strong on crime continues when Colombia seizes a record stash of ten tons of cocaine destined for Veracruz, Mexico, via Venezuela demonstrating a resurgent cartel system, when in walks one of the latest worst cases of human rights abuses in the rag-tag emaciated form of Oscar Tulio Lizcano. (Photo AFP/Getty)

More people are familiar with the depravity of Pablo Escobar. Ron Chepesiuk brings the Cali cartels modus operandi into stark relief as they used guile and cunning to build a chilling corporate structure that too k more than twenty years and a twisted human wreckage to unravel. The book that lays it all out in painful detail is Drug Lords: The Rise and Fall of the Cali Cartel.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Presidential Transitions & the Arc of History

Presidencies begin in strange places. Some people look in a mirror and admire a future president others believe some Deity gave them a Divine Right while more knew enough to take advantage of the right time with favorable circumstances. All eventually come to the judgment of scholars who mine or dumpster dive in multi-million dollar library archives for scraps of obscure papers, have a command of the bald facts underneath the lipsticked pretty version and are far more fearful of the wrath of their peers than some former president, usually long dead. The presidency that still causes the most fights, yet sells the most books is Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe laid down some lessons that stay true while modern presidencies understand their term in office begins as the Obamarella clock strikes 12 on election night while people set up his outdoor stadium today.
This will be the first wartime presidential transition in 40 years and the first in the age of terrorism anxieties after Sept. 11, 2001. Government planners worry about a window of vulnerability in the first days and months of a new presidency when thousands of administration jobs have not been filled yet and a newly elected Congress is just settling in.

"Don't worry about jinxing the campaign or being too presumptuous," urges White House transition expert Clay Johnson, who says post-election planning should have been under way for months. "It is irresponsible for anybody who could be president not to prepare to govern effectively from day one."

The country — and the world — will be watching.
Tuesday, 4 November, will see a historic fanfare and a mandate not seen in decades as Barack Obama streaks to the finish line clutching the title of president-elect. John McCain will be a grumpy bestselling author that brings a rout for the second time for an Arizona Senator. Historians will start loading up on all of the newspapers as they will be the first draft of history. As soon as excitable news anchors shriek the winner in southern states like Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia on election night at 5PM PDT the presidency will have started in earnest. Paging Cassandra Butts, come out into the open now. She has been the sub rosa leader of the secret Obama transition team that has 77 days to get it all together.

Presidential campaigns rate their own bookshelf. There is much about the Obama Campaign of energetic septuagenarian and barely twenty one year old volunteers, the vaunted ground game, polls and GOTV that will fascinate campaign scholars and political junkies for Ages. But who the president is will be foreshadowed as the transition heats up. Tens of thousands of political supporters will call and seek demand jobs in the new administration for less than 8000 appointed jobs of which the senate must confirm 1,177. But the roles that will capture the history writers and watchers are the appointments that get announced with a press conference involving the president-elect. It will be a display of judiciousness to see who lands what role. Question will revolve around organizational design and if it appears ad hoc, rewards cronies or does it have an overarching purpose that reflects the president's agenda. The press will race off to seek dirt on the nominees and the senators will grumble they are being rushed to confirm so many while they are planning the inauguration and their holiday. But the time of testing will have commenced.

There will be $8.5 million worth of high tech office space to handle a cast of thousands and a discreet place to hide the budget wars. There is a new A much noted meeting of the president and president elect. The future first lady will get a tour that will make her gulp from the current first lady as her brain plays toss with educational choices for the kids. Speaking of the kids, cough up the dog quickly please Michelle & Barack, Sasha & Malia will not have as many friends as they do in Chicago! Will the kids bedrooms be on the third official floor with Mom & Dad or will they want to be up near the solarium?
Who will be the Poet Laureate needs a check the box decision and what other themes will be stressed in advance. The transition means every aspect of the president-elects life gets turned upside down while tough decisions need to be made that will disappoint many supporters as some may not get the coveted job but a lesser role or none at all. Others may find their full access suddenly restricted as the campaign detritus is shunted aside for the seasoned political professionals. Will Obama succumb to micromanaging or will he rise above it with a first class chief of Staff who jealously guards the gates or will it be a more time consuming consensus collaborative effort.

Speech writers will be intravenously sucking those blasted energy drinks as they yell at all the policy shops to get it together for the inaugural address. People will have to know who gets to sign off on what sections and they are not even in the White House yet. The sense of urgency will amp up as all realize OMG, simultaneously we have to work on the president's very first State of the Union address which is due the following week. Meanwhile everyday an obscure highly secretive person from the Director of National Intelligence or Langley will visit the president elect, briefing him on all of the ongoing & latest intelligence and black ops. With two wars, there will be a majority of time given to setting the national security operation up to ensure continuity and a new direction. The whole Homeland Security portfolio is ripe for a reorg.

A new White House scheduler will turn up along with protocol specialists who will explain the world's interest in the new president. This will be expressed separately from an inundated
communications operation as they see an avalanche of requests for press credentials because of the historic nature of events. The scheduler will separate out the need to plan inaugural activities, look at time to interview candidates and future major ambassadors, and sort calls from heads of state rushing to be Nation/Monarchy Number 1 to be the first State Dinner recipient and getting a portrait taken that goes into every federal outpost. An official representative from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies will have something to say or a question to ask every single day. They will be listened to as $19,000,000 was set aside by Congress for transition purposes. The complicated schedule will also need time to understand the complexity of the football - the briefcase with the codes to the US nuclear arsenal. The Secret Service will sit the Obamas down collectively and individually to say here are the new and improved security rules you will have as a head of state. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs wants money and more troops as the Secretary of the Treasury says nyet and here is what we must do on the domestic front to forestall a Depression era economy. Lurking in the background are all those sparkly campaign promises which the public, the press and the president-elect's political enemies will remember and recite.

The policy shop needs clear lines of authority. Historians will be watching with eagle eyes to see how the transition is managed and what it bodes for the nation. That's important because each network will load up on Pulitzer Prize winning authors and Nobel Laureates to discuss the decision making of the transition and what it means during the nonstop coverage of the inauguration. Michelle's hat, should she choose to wear one will be an intense topic of discussion for a panel of milliners as if they were discussing when will President Obama get us out of the Iraq debacle. Next comes lots of gray hairs for Obama as he gets on the 44th roller coaster ride as soon as he knows he has 270 electoral college votes, not on Tuesday, the 20th of January at one minute before noon because the historians are already deep into all of the notes and clues you gave while setting up shop.
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The second book Barack Obama said he would take into the Oval office first day is from Doris Kearns Goodwin look at Abraham Lincoln's ability to get his thoughts together as he took the train east from Springfield Illinois to his inaugural. Lincoln invited prior bitter competitors into his presidential orbit and used his gifts to manage the clash of personalities. Barack Obama wants the extraordinary book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln as a template.

This is part of The Transition Series to the presidency of Barack Obama
(please not the posts at the link above are stored by date)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hunger Bows to Financial Crisis Carnivores

It is one of those chicken and egg first type things. Hungry people need money to purchase foods to quiet the pangs of an empty stomach. Stable financial systems are needed to ensure people have a proper diet. One does not exist without the other in an endless feedback loop but the 2008 celebration of World Food Security: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy continues apace without a trace of irony.

The disparity between the issues culminates in an annual World Food Day to bring attention to the ongoing horrible lack of food for much of the world. In the wake of economic collapses in all the swanky market indexes, a day of hunger lost its prominence for much of the participants who gave food and money to stop hunger. A terrible irony as money woes and growling guts coincide in twin tragedies enveloping the world that would cheer a trail of bread crumbs right about now. Only 10& of the world's pledges to stop hunger have been fulfilled to the Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) as the year goes into its eleventh month rebounding from the crashing stock markets around the globe. The motto of the FAO is Fiat Panis or Let there be Bread.

"The media have highlighted the financial crisis at the expense of the food crisis," said Jacques Diouf, head of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome. The World Food Programme's Executive Director Josette Sheeran acknowledged that even citizens of wealthy countries had been affected by high food prices and the financial crisis.
"But for those who live on less than a dollar a day, it's a matter of life and death," Sheeran said.
Proponents of more urgent measures questioned why the world's richest nations could not show the same urgency to save people from starvation as they did when rushing to rescue banks.
The sadder part is pockets of the world are being hit harder than reeling developed nations. Even inside first world countries there are pockets of heartbreak and a ravaged middle class that are showing up at the local food banks grateful for any assistance. The strongest nation on earth cannot properly feed all of its people even though there is an export market for American foodstuffs. America will cough up 5.5 billion in contributions. Juxtapose that against a defense spend of $10 billion a month just in Iraq. Pope Benedict pulled no punches about Sin when he pointed out the amount of money going to military efforts, horrendous corruption schemes leaving a declining amount to feed the world's citizens.
"The means and resources that the world has today are able to provide enough food to satisfy the growing needs of everybody," Benedict told the Rome-based agency.
Benedict blamed food shortages on "feverish speculation" that drives up prices, along with "corruption in public life or growing investments in weapons and sophisticated military technologies to the detriment of people's primary needs."
Mix in natural devastation from climate conditions like flooding or drought and the crisis gives acid reflux to the world.

Raj Patel brings an experts critical eye to the food imbalance that siezes on the twin polar conditions involving food, too much for some - too little for others as food undergoes profound changes to make it more of a business commodity. Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System takes the reader on a hunger tour via the thoroughly inedible written word.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Coming up Obama Roses

Can roses last for three weeks?

Right now, electoral politics favor Obama and his campaign focused on the middle class rather than John McCain's campaign which focuses on the scorched destruction of Middle Earth. Republicans are leapfrogging over the partisan divide to support Barack Obama. Republican Nebraskan senator Chuck Hagel and great friend of McAngry will see his wife on TV tonight sitting next to Michelle Obama as she loudly proclaims her support for the Democratic ticket. Bill Buckley's kid, Christopher, was thrown under the moving republican caboose as he openly supported Obama. Founded by his father , the conservative National Review magazine's editorial board had a bad magical meltdown as they sent tazered orcs to derail his support. Then there is Colin Powell, friend of McCain that called irascible Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere Ted Stevens' character sterling, but has not endorsed the elderly republican nominee who is the same age as him. Crazy neocon Iraq policy supporter, Christopher Hitchens came out in support of Barack Obama.

Now, Obama never planned on this being a 50+1 election in the Clintonian political tradition. The secret is the press does not have budgets that allow then to travel to see what is really happening on the ground in all 50 states. The mostly deskbound journalists search the wilds of the internet for hyperbole, but missed the biggest political story of the year. 24/7 Obama organizing. It happened in Iowa too, in which DC journalists just could not believe it. The community organizer actually knows how to organize. Rolling Stone and a couple of others periodically point out Obama has put together an Army that rivals Dumbledore's. Neighbor to Neighbor is one of the Obama special galleons that alerts the OA to call or canvass folks right where one lives. The Great Schlep is an independent outstanding effort that the mainstream press just discovered that is happening with Jewish organizers.

Contrast all that with the McCain/Palin racial pride hate speech that characterizes their efforts as they gin up all the irrational rationales Obama is a presidential risk. Oops, they forgot its not about the candidates as much as it is about the audience and their biggest concerns, J-O-B-S and keeping the roof over one's head. McCain railing about a republican funded charity that made William Ayers a board member interests a small sliver of the electorate. That ain't nowhere near enough low information voting folks to get McGrumpy elected. Can anybody do math at camp McCain? Obama knew how much money he needed to be competitive and fund a serious effort. John McCain had from February to July to build a republican warchest to not need public funding either. Instead, he rested on his laurels as Obama & Clinton slugged it out and gave away a strategic advantage. That kind of thinking is what keeps the US in Iraq and politically moribund in enlisting the rest of the world's assistance in other causes. Commander in Chief Barack Obama is funding his boots on the ground and ensuring the supply lines and TV ads are fully functioning while the supposed military expert is pinned down in his own supposedly safe territories where Obama soldiers are making inroads. For goodness sakes, Obama is even product placement inside Xbox now as John McCain acknowledges he's learning the art of Googling. The Queen of England who is even older that John Sydney McCain III has had her own YouTube channel longer and rocks out on an iPod.

Early voting - the strategic advantage goes to O. McCain is offering to pay people in Florida to do what Team O's supporters are doing for free and love of candidate. The enthusiasm gap is real. When the republican governor of Florida would rather wear iridescent mouse ears in Orlando than be photographed with McCain at a campaign rally, John has landed with an earth shattering thud in the Bush leagues. Obama's ground operation is everywhere in battleground states while McCain still isn't open on Saturdays at some of his limited hours offices. Voter registration increased by millions this election cycle that did not happen by accident or fraud. The subject of the group ACORN is alleged voter registration fraud, but they are not directly affiliated with the Obama registration effort no matter how hard McCain tries or claps his hands in Tinkerbell fairy voter belief. What the geniuses forget to mention is the law requires ACORN to turn in every single card even though ACORN knows they may be fraudulent. In many cases, ACORN hired idiots that did idiotic things shich ACORN acknowledges by pointing to the newly fired idiot's work when they turn in the form. In any case, ACORN did not do the registering that Obama supporters did in vast numbers in every single state. Listen up Republicans in the leaky McCain paper boat, Obama planned to turn out numbers from the very beginning that would demonstrate a new map. 1,000,000 new registrations is a drop in the bucket to what Obama did legally and reputably. (Props to C who caught my unfinished thought.)

Family moments have made this campaign truly uplifting on the Obama side of the ledger. The indomitable Sasha and the elegant Malia make their hardworking Mom and intellectual Dad truly appeal to the masses.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dirty Dozen Diseases Plot World Domination

Twelve different dirty microscopic pathogens are gearing up to decimate the world. Their germ fuel to grow stronger, faster, deadlier is Climate Change. Earth is going broke in the financial greed demolition derby, placing a precarious world at risk to prepare against a takeover by a dozen powerful germs. Cash is required to fight the marauding germs to buy and distribute drugs and doctors efficiently into containment zones. People on the move from famine, fighting and fallow farms will just accelerate the spread of diseases as refugee crises take on nightmare proportions. Mix in deadly destruction from desertification, storms and flooding and the germs are rubbing their grubby little cells in glee. Most of the world watches as their money turns into unusable leprechaun gold without apparent appreciation that their health is also at stake as the animal kingdom falls prey. Scarcity makes people antsy and it beckons tin pot dictators to unilaterally take decisions to try and take over the world, especially if a two front war develops in the financial markets and a full scale effort to eradicate spreading diseases or pandemics. Who's military will have the money to stop them?

Animals spread disease. Climate change is altering the bounds of nature and pathogens are mutating while animals, mammals, birds and fowl are being eaten. Wildlife experts are screaming at the top of their lungs while global financial markets have people mesmerized as education hopes and retirement dreams float away in the world's legalized gambling meccas. As food prices skyrocket, a celebratory steak may come from a mad cow and that super special Peking duck may have had bird flu are making the remaining wealthy just as vulnerable. China has made it clear making money comes before public health and safety and that's precisely where America's corporate elite put their business chips to increase management's profits and the almighty bonuses.

Ebola, Cholera Notice & Avian Influenza
The resource rich continent of Africa is a hot bed incubator for disease outbreaks as the climate changes habitats for humans, insects and beasts of burden. Waterborne diseases will devastate health as well as its scarcity making crops fail and refugee stampedes likely. Standing water attracts mosquitoes which are disease carriers for malaria and yellow fever. China has long been noted as a location of origin for the H5N1 bird flu to morph to a human flu that would make the the Black Death of the Middle Ages or the 1918 pandemic that felled millions seem small in scope. China's algae problem blossomed stinky lime green right before the Olympics in a 100,000 ton fashion, but it the poisonous red algae tides that will kill off marine life and make eating fish a more perilous exercise.
"The term 'climate change' conjures images of melting ice caps and rising sea levels
that threaten coastal cities and nations, but just as important is how increasing temperatures
and fluctuating precipitation levels will change the distribution of dangerous pathogens," said Steven E. Sanderson, president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

"The health of wild animals is tightly linked to the ecosystems in which they live and influenced by the environment surrounding them, and even minor disturbances can have far reaching consequences on what diseases they might encounter and transmit as climate changes. Monitoring wildlife health will help us predict where those trouble spots will occur and plan how to prepare."

The "Deadly Dozen" list - including such diseases as avian influenza, ebola, cholera, and tuberculosis - is illustrative only of the broad range of infectious diseases that threaten humans and animals, according to a WCS release.
Cholera is a waterborne disease of opportunity from lack of sanitation mixed with water which is prevalent in a myriad of developing countries. Iraq is still suffering from large outbreaks of cholera. Lyme Disease is already in the US and proliferating in the tick community that spreads it to humans. Recently, Malaysia completed a simulation for an outbreak on a plane. Babesiosis is a tropical tick germ that styles itself as a malaria like invasion of the body. Wide eyed raccoons are susceptible to parasites that turn into worms, Baylisascaris procyonis. Animals are our canaries on the Earth mine.

Climate change made clear with charts graphs and analogies that make sense. It draws upon the Nobel Peace Prize winning work of the United Nations IPCC scientific work to make Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming a seminal book on the topic. It is a great book to have alongside An Inconvenient Truth from last year's Co-Nobel Peace prize recipient, Al Gore.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mars Lander to Freeze to Death as it Snows

Winter begins its rampage across the red planet. Martian weather is all the nerdy rage as an actual snow storm produced flakes. The Phoenix Lander has no place to hide as the thermometer races downward. Solar power provides its juice, but no blanket, as the original plan had been for a 90 day summer job. Phoenix has had its death sentence commuted twice, from August to September and then through the Martian holiday season. The challenge for Phoenix is surviving long enough to make it through December as the region it is working in is the north polar area. Closer to Mars equator, the almost 5 year old death defying Rover twins, Spirit & Opportunity, are able to power down, hibernate and soak up solar energy for the winter season while the Mars satellite babysitter observes from its orbit. Anything extra was Martian space gravy for the Phoenix scientists studying the planet for signs of life, water and digging for ice. Good thing that the next iteration of a lander, MSL, is going to be the size of an Earth endangered Hummer.
"We're at the mercy of Mars," said Phoenix project manager Barry Goldstein, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
As winter descends on the Martian arctic, two important things will happen. The sun will sink below the horizon, and "it's going to get cold." said Phoenix meteorological team member Peter Taylor of York University in Toronto, Canada.
Of course, Mars is never warm by Earth standards (it is further from the sun and lacks our planet's thick, heat-trapping atmosphere), but summer above the Martian arctic circle is downright balmy compared to the winter.
It is not even the thick of winter and nighttime temps are -112° F or -80° C. Now that's just freeze your steel parts off cold. But part of the weather phenomenon that has amazed Mars' storm chasers are falling snowflakes, Frosty the Lander style. The Mars Maginot line of death is at 1000 Watt-hours - the minimum amount of solar caffeine needed for the Phoenix to wake up from a frozen nights slumber. There is a race on now between the scientists to get all of their experiments done because no one wants to be the person that has to say it was just this close to proving the first Martian organism that could survive in these conditions before Phoenix freezes solid. No one expects a Lazarus like reemergence come the spring thaw as it will be three months since the sun dropped below the horizon before it peaks over the area again. Lander scientists think Phoenix and Ted Williams styled cryogenic awakening are mathematical improbabilities.

Meanwhile, let it snow, let it snow let it snow. A Martian snowflake caught by a nifty pulsing laser before it ever hit the ground.. Ready sources of red planet water from frost, clouds or in the dirt are important as missions landing people on the red planet need it for survival. Already missions are being drawn up to land astronauts in habitats on the moon in preparation of preparing for a Mars manned spaceflight.

Scientists don’t know yet exactly what Martian snow looks like to the human eye.

"We’ve been trying to capture some snow (on camera) but so far have been unsuccessful," Mr. Dickinson said. "We’ll keep trying. But if we don’t get lucky, that might be something we’ll have to do on the next mission."

The presence of snow means humans might be able to live on the freezing planet.

Of course there is the irony of Canadians finding the snow first...

NASA has laid the ground work for years for a mission. Here is a book they put togther to outline some of the details and challenges for a manned spaceflight mission and what to do one getting off the years long flight pretty much knowing there is no return ticket. The book is The Case for Mars Concept Development for a Mars Research Station: Concept Development for a Mars Research Station - the title pretty much sums up how NASA killed firing up the public imagination on the topic.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Romanovs Rehabilitated by Russian Supreme Court

Russia gave the literate world creative and human tales of woe that are art and parcel of the classics. The angst embedded in some of the heart shredding tales of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina or War and Peace, Federov Dostoevsky . Three centuries of the royal house of Romanov ruling Russia until the final R's did them in, Rasuptin & revolution. Now, history is being rewritten showing the family of Tsar Nicholas II did not get shot full of bullet holes and their remains placed in vats of acid for merely political showmanship on eradicating Russia of ruinous royalty. They were a royal family with vassals and serfs that received approbation under the new Russian historical standards removing any Russian Who's Who listing them as state criminals.

Bolsheviks lead the execution of the family with jewels of renown the world over. Coronations were lavish affairs. For ninety years Russia denied it was a Bolshevik operation at Impatiev House as just a few minions were involved. The 2008 Russian Supreme Court validated evidence of innocence of the crimes the family was accused of because while under house arrest, their benevolent servants left their posts with the family stashed in the basement on July 17, 1918, allowing the slaughter to take place. The children did not die at first because of the density and plentifulness of the jewels sewn into their garb. During his lifetime Nicholas II gave exquisite bejeweled Fabergé eggs to his wife and the family coffers contained a fair cache of other mint condition precious stones. The jewels allowed the kids to first withstand bullets then knives making some of the assassins get the heebie jeebies as it occurred to them some sort of Divine intervention was happening. After all, the family was directly descended from Ivan the Terrible who went rampaging bonkers when the Tsarina of his dreams died under suspicious circumstances making him suspect them of her poisoning.

The move does not presage any attempt by the Romanov family to reclaim their palaces or regain a foothold in the constitutional order of Russia. But they were delighted nonetheless.

“The protracted rehabilitation process has come to a successful conclusion,” German Lukyanov, the Romanov family lawyer, told the Interfax news agency. “Justice has triumphed.” The case has been fought largely by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, a senior member of the royal house.

The ruling may not change the lives of the family, but it does represent a milestone: it is the closest that any post-Soviet government has come to accepting the criminal nature of Bolshevik rule.

Westerners may see that as a truism. But present-day Russia is still in the thrall of the iconography of Lenin. His image is emblazoned on schools and underground stations; his embalmed body is still visited in Red Square, even if not by the thousands of Socialist pilgrims who turned up in the Soviet days.

The conspiracy theories surrounding this family are legendary. Church of the Blood is the structure built upon the killing place where the assassinations took place. For years, two bodies were missing leading to many claims they were the long lost prince or princess or their descendants. Another grave was found leading to DNA results aligning with the rest of the now St. Petersburg interred family. Current descendants wanted the stain on the family's reputation removed and the Court obliged. Little Prince Alexei was the great grandson of Queen Victoria reemphasizing the blood ties from all the crown heads of Europe due to all the intermarrying. The books on the Romanovs are fascinating and where Lenin plays in all of this will keep the playwrights, novelists and historians at it for centuries. To have died in a basement after living in the magnificence of the Winter Palace as serfs died in more menial conditions are what fills Russian literature with irony and angst of the human spirit.

To keep up with all the plot twists and their layers of intricacies, including the healing through prayer and mysticism of Alexei by Rasputin who later had horrible incantations against the Romanovs as other royal nobles attempted to murder him, takes a worthwhile book that covers the indelicacies. Author Lindsey Hughes does that quite well in the biographical The Romanovs: Ruling Russia 1613 - 1917.

McGrumpy versus Cool Hand Obama

The debate was lost by John McCain as soon as he suspended his campaign to return to the swamp that is Washington DC to bring about a deal from a bunch of republican lawmakers that hate his guts but needed him to appear to be leading something.  Instead, the real debate was hosted by the current Chief Oblivious Economic Commander residing in the White House in the cabinet room.  Little china cups of coffee were set about the table and a seating chart was made as if it were a state dinner. 

McGrumpy cannot afford to be seen in a picture frame with Commander Economic Disaster president while still ensuring Cool Hand Obama is well outside the frame.  Then the lights went out on the press
digital mcnews cameras and the hot air rushed out of McGrumpy.  Cool Hand Obama then ran the meeting resulting in Senahtuh Vivian Leigh Shelby making a dramatic Gone with the Wind exit to rush to the cameras and set forth There is Always Tomorrow.  The cable TV press which is limited by their brain functions of only handling one thing at a time became apoplectic over not knowing was the debate in Mississippi really going to happen.  The Yankee senator had already announced his intension Rhett style that he knew where he had to be on Friday night. McGrumpy was welcome to show up after his horrible loss of face and discuss the issue of the day.  After all it was only good manners to show up when you told Ole Miss you were going to show up and make your case.  Honoring one's word used to be important to some republicans.

Meanwhile, McGrumpy's second should he fall on his sword was Sarah Scarlett Lipstick who promptly got orally trounced by a third place steel magnolia news anchor who had once been told never be seen on CNN's airwaves again.  Then came the debate with Joe Biden that included winking and shoutouts as the new catcalls for commander in chief.  This presidential campaign season has been the theater of the absurd and the curtain rises on a new debate on Tuesday night.

This is shaping up to be epic.  Vote early.