In addition to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto near Islamabad, Pakistan, here’s some other news and the afternoon’s open thread.
With the Iowa caucus just a week away, Reuters notes the obvious: U.S. presidential contenders scour Iowa for votes. While CNN predicts Edwards and McCain are positioned to shake up race. While, the Tribune’s Washington bureau notes that big white hunter Huckabee has a muzzle control problem. Out hunting pheasants, “at one point, Huckabee’s party turned toward a cluster of reporters and cameramen and, when they kicked up a pheasant, fired shotgun blasts over the group’s heads.” Huckabee is using the Cheney method.
Meanwhile, Ghouliani is battling poll shrinkage and is going big and playing his 9/11 card. The Boston Globe reports Giuliani ad links World War II to 9/11. “The 60-second spot mixes video of Giuliani speaking and then speaking over images of American soldiers and homefront workers during the war and then firefighters at Ground Zero in New York. One is the famous photo of Marines planting the US flag on Iwo Jima and another of the flag raised over the rubble of the World Trade Center.”
Disgusting and offensive, but he is not stopping there. Desperately trying to regain relevancy in the Republican primary, Giuliani was first to pounce on the Bhutto Assassination. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post writes, “The assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was only minutes old and details remained sketchy when former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign issued a condemnation of terrorism writ large… Bhutto’s assassination could well work to Giuliani’s benefit because it may enable him to thrust himself back into the daily political conversation after steadily losing ground in the presidential campaign for weeks.”
The Miami Herald reports Colombian hostage handover in the works. “Relatives of hostages held captive for more than five years by Colombian leftist rebels Thursday packed their bags to travel to neighboring Venezuela hoping to be reunited with their loved ones, while Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez prepared to send planes and helicopters to pick up the three hostages… A senior Venezuelan diplomat, Rodolfo Sánz, said that the handover would happen between Friday and Sunday… The release would also be a major diplomatic coup for Chávez, who has emerged as a key figure in the liberation process even after he was told by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to stay out of hostage negotiations a month ago.”
The murders of musicians in Mexico continues. The Washington Post reports on The savage silencing of Mexico’s musicians. “Sergio Gómez, 34, was the latest of a dozen pop musicians to have been killed in the past year in Mexico. Nearly every one of the slayings bore the hallmarks of the drug cartel hitmen blamed for 4,000 deaths in the country in the past two years. But the savage murder of Sergio Gómez — one of Mexico’s hottest singers, a headliner whose band, K-Paz de la Sierra, commanded $100,000 a show, twice the rate of other top bands — was different. It has set off an unprecedented chain reaction in which at least half a dozen bands have canceled concert tours… Among music industry insiders, Sergio Gómez’s death and the previous killings are also forcing a quiet assessment of the influence drug trafficking kingpins wield over the business.”
While people were distracted by Santa and the North Pole, The Guardian reports that at the South Pole, two Antarctic base staff evacuated after Christmas brawl. “Two men, one with a suspected broken jaw, have been airlifted from the Antarctic’s most remote research facility after an incident described as a ‘drunken Christmas punch-up’. The brawl happened at the US-operated Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, located at the heart of the frozen continent… The injured man is an employee of Raytheon Polar Services, one of America’s largest defence contractors.” Defense contractors are everywhere!