Ms Bhutto - the first woman PM in an Islamic state - was leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi when a gunman shot her in the neck and set off a bomb.
At least 20 other people died in the attack and several more were injured.
It was the second suicide attack against her in recent months and came amid a wave of bombings targeting security and government officials.
I'm not going to pretend that I've ever mistaken the woman for some sort of saint - Benazir Bhutto and her husband embezzled on a truly gigantic scale during her incompetent tenure in office - but the manner and timing of this murder give me serious cause for concern: how can a country in the grip of such religious insanity be allowed to possess nuclear weapons?
Oh, and to forestall the conspiracy theories, while I recognize that Pervez Musharraf has long been cynically exploiting the threat of Islamic extremism to hold back Western criticism of his hamfisted attempt at remaining in an office no one ever elected him to, the idea that anyone would engage in a suicide attack just to keep some general in power seems a tad bit too farfetched to me. The level of fanaticism and ideological commitment required to do something like this is such as the likes of Musharraf will never muster. To the extent that Pervez Musharraf can be faulted for Bhutto's murder, it is that he almost certainly skimped on Bhutto's protection, hoping that by so doing he would scare her off the campaign trail.
Right now, if you wander over to the TMZ website, you'll see this inflammatory headline at the top of the article list: "Will Smith -- Hitler, Schmitler; He Wasn't That Bad". You might be forgiven for thinking that Will Smith had suddenly lost his mind and started cribbing from the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" or something, but when you actually go take a look at the source article, what you find is something else entirely:
Now, for all I know, it might be true that the Queen really is an "uneducated" philistine, but if I were the one going to make such an accusation, I'd at least try to get my quotes right. When David Starkey says
"I think she's got elements a bit like Goebbels in her attitude to culture," the historian told the Guardian. "You remember: 'Every time I hear the word culture I reach for my revolver.' "
He displays the shallowness of his own historical knowledge: the original source of this notorious "quote" wasn't Goebbels or Goering or any other Nazi bigwig who said such a thing, but a character in a 1933 play called "Schlageter", which was written by a fellow called Hanns Johst. Worse yet, what the character actually said was
"Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning"
In other words, while we can't be certain of the Queen of England's philistinism - and given the attitudes of the British aristocracy towards learning, it's quite possible that she is a philistine - one thing we can be certain of is that David Starkey is your typical pretentious tw*t who thinks he can pass himself off as an "intellectual" by regurgitating bits and pieces of pseudo-knowledge. That he thinks Prince Charles (of all people!) to be the "best hope" for the monarchy just happens to reveal how little judgment Mr. Starkey has.
PS: Oh, and by the way, it is a serious historical error to assume that Joseph Goebbels was some sort of aesthetic ignoramus just because of the vile things the man said and did for public consumption. Of all the Nazi leadership, Goebbels seems to have been by far the most cynical about what he said to the masses and what he truly believed, and the Propaganda Minister's own tastes actually ran to the "degenerate" art and architecture he condemned on his master's behalf rather than to the tired neoclassicism worshiped by Hitler. Goebbels was not a philistine, nor was Reinhard Heydrich or many other a butcher of the Third Reich - yet another black mark against David Starkey.
Yet another one of those issues I've harped on repeatedly in the past is that the highly skewed sex ratios for births in East Asia stem from selective abortion, and that this prejudice itself originates from a Confucian bias against women, which is why the only East Asian country not to suffer from a distorted sex ratio is the one in which Confucian influence has been weakest, i.e. Japan. I've been encountered several nonsensical arguments for why something so obviously true must not in fact be the case, from the claim that Confucianism had no influence in Korea, to far-fetched hypotheses about Hepatitis B being to blame for the ever-increasing skew in male-to-female births in a period of sharply rising prosperity and better presumably ever improving healthcare.
With the news that Korea is finally getting over its son worship, however, it is now clear that my critics were the ones who didn't know what they were talking about. Korea's surplus of boy babies was indeed the product of a highly sexist mentality with roots in Confucian values, and as such values recede in potency, so does the skew they gave rise to. With any luck, Korea will soon join Japan on the exclusive list of East Asian countries in which daughters are seen as just as valuable as sons - too late for the young men born in the late 1970s and early 1980s, perhaps, but certainly a positive for the generation after them.
As a Christmas present for my Gundam-loving husband (33 years old), I'd like to secretly buy him a Gundam plastic figure to leave as a gift for him, so I can't ask him which he'd like, and on top of that I don't have the slightest clue about Gundam.
At present, the house is decorated with what would appear to be "Zeta Gundam", "Freedom" and "Type 100". Also, written on the DVDs he records everyday are "Gundam Seed Destiny" and "Victory Gundam".
Please give me your recommendations for a Gundam figurine suitable for a husband with such tastes. As we have a baby, a figurine which would be easy to obtain would be preferable.
Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.
That a 33-year old guy who tapes Gundam cartoons and decorates his house with the anime's posters should not only have a wife, but a wife who's actually borne him a child, and who seeks to indulge his obsession on Christmas day, is all the proof I require that there really is a suitable partner out there for everyone, no matter how strange one may be. Western otakus, take heart!
Couple frigid temperatures and abbreviated daylight hours with the synchronized cessation of most organized activities which marks the Christmas period, and here's the result in photographic terms: I'm reduced to basically taking product shots.
Still, in the end the pictures are what count, so if knickknacks and items of jewelry are the only things I can get to sit still for me at the moment, so be it ...
One of the favorite arguments made by the shameless apologists for the ex-KGB murderer who pulls the strings in the Kremlin is that at least Vladimir Putin has restored a measure of probity to Russia's public finances after the thievery of the Yeltsin era. Apart from the fact that apologizing for authoritarianism in such a manner smacks of the "He made the trains run on time!" nonsense favored by certain groups, it now appears that the claims made for Putin's honesty aren't even true: the man would seem to be a thief on such a gigantic scale that all of the "oligarchs" start to look like choirboys by comparison.
An unprecedented battle is taking place inside the Kremlin in advance of Vladimir Putin's departure from office, the Guardian has learned, with claims that the president presides over a secret multibillion-dollar fortune.
I've always looked with contempt on the South African emigres who seemed to spend all their time whining about how the country had supposedly gone to the dogs now that "the blecks" had taken over, all evidence to the contrary be damned, but now that I'm hearing the ANC has elected the thief and rapist Jacob Zuma to be its next leader, it looks like all the racist grumblers will finally have solid justification for their complaints. Unless the South African courts manage to lock this criminal up before he can do any more damage, I foresee Jacob Zuma rapidly leading South Africa down into the abyss in a similar manner to Zimbabwe. The thing is, I just don't see this escape route coming to pass.
I have to confess that I've never been more disgusted with the "wisdom of the people" than I am at this moment, not when the stupid Venezuelan masses first elected Hugo Chavez or recently nearly handed him the presidency for life, and not even when I first realized that the Russian masses preferred to be slaves under a "strong leader" just as long as Russia was "respected" (i.e. feared) abroad. What we are seeing here is a crucial moment in the history of electoral idiocy, not quite on the scale of the 1932 Weimar elections, but certainly pretty high up there as far as such things go. The ANC has just voted for the ruination of South Africa at the hands of an embezzling sex criminal, and I'm struggling to contain my feelings of nausea.
Right now the weather in the UK is about as dull and depressing as it gets, which is to say pretty cold, gray and miserable indeed. Although I'm not in a position to alter this state of affairs, I can at least offer something by way of escapism to those others out there who also have to suffer through a dreary winter.