I know you are all glued to C-Span for tonight’s Iowa caucuses, but here is some year in review stuff from people who aren’t me.
- TIME magazine picked Russian president Vladimir Putin as their Person of the Year. The award goes for the most important person in the news, whether “bad” or “good.” Undistinguished winners in the past have been Nixon, Stalin, Hitler, Chiang Kai-shek, Henry Kissinger, and George W. Bush. There’s also an interesting article about a bouncer at a club in Moscow for the new ultra-rich in Russia (53 billionaires and 119,000 millionaires). I concur with TIME’s decision.
- Doctors without Borders announced its 10 most underreported humanitarian crises in the world for 2007. Hear anything about Zimbabwe in the media?
- I hope you all heard about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, head of the Pakistan People’s Party. The best writing I’ve seen on her death comes from the radical Pakistani journalist Tariq Ali in the Guardian.
- Independent journalist in Iraq Dahr Jamail writes his end of the year review of Iraq: “2007 Worst Year Yet in Iraq.” Calculate the number of internally displaced people and refugees from Iraq from the total population of 25 million. It comes out to 18% of Iraqis removed or fled from their homes. The point in short: the surge in troops was to give time for the Iraqi government to settle political differences between the ethnic groups. There has been a fall in violence, but the government hasn’t stopped ethnic bickering at all.
- And tonight is the Iowa caucuses. I’m not here to write about stupid horse race stuff because that is all the media does, but I will make one prediction: Hillary will not come in first place. If you want smart commentary from a guy who was able to call Iowa correctly in 2004 check out Al Giordano’s election blog, the Field.
- And when will someone talk about cutting military spending in the United States? We now spend 56% of all “defense” spending IN THE WORLD. We spend ten times what number 2, China, spends ($623 billion versus $65 billion). It was too much in 2000 when we were spending over $300 billion. See more at Glenn Greenwald’s blog on Salon.com.
Enjoy the New Year!