At Large

At Large

Back to the Future in Cairo

By 12.4.13

The definitive sign that Egyptian politics had spiraled out of control — or rather back into control — came last August when the former head of the IAEA, the often anti-American Mohammed ElBaradei, unexpectedly gave up his relatively new national ambitions and hurried back to his home in Vienna. He had broken his decades-long self-exile when he thought there might be a chance for him to become a compromise presidential choice. Baradei has always been a barometer of international politics and his flight back to European security told a clear story.

At Large

Still Playing on the Carefree Highway

By 11.13.13

Happy birthday next week!!!” A man shouted his congratulations to Gordon Lightfoot during his concert at the Shubert Theater in Boston last week. It was the penultimate stop of the Canadian recording legend’s eight month long Carefree Highway tour which took him across North America. The tour marked his 50th anniversary on the road.

The audience member was slightly imprecise, but Lightfoot will turn 75 on November 17. That in of itself is remarkable considering he nearly died in 2002 following an aortic aneurysm. Four years later, Lightfoot suffered a minor stroke during a performance in Michigan. The stroke caused numbness in Lightfoot’s right hand and impeded him and severely impeded his guitar playing.

At Large

Gray Side of Border Sercurity

By 11.7.13

There is an interesting documentary that runs on the National Geographic TV channel entitled Border Wars. The series chronicles the continuing battle by American law enforcement -- primarily the Border Patrol and DEA -- to inhibit the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants into the U.S. The title is misleading because the “war” tends to involve little bloodshed, as neither the organized criminal smugglers nor the border agents want the commerce in narcotics and people to become a combat affair – unlike the case in Mexico itself.

There are incidents, of course, where officials and innocents are killed or wounded on the U.S. side. This was the case of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry killed, killed by a weapon from the “Fast and Furious” project, and the mysterious shooting of a long time Arizona rancher whose property was crossed regularly by smugglers. A great deal of press attention was given to the killing of an official ICE agent traveling by car to inspect facilities in the northern provinces of Mexico and the tourist David Hartley who was shot and presumably drowned on his jet ski-boat on Falcon Lake.

At Large

Secession and Tax Hikes

By 11.6.13

Much of the out-of-state attention paid to Colorado in Tuesday night’s elections was in regard to the fundamentally unserious ballot measures in 11 counties to secede from the state and createNorth Colorado. To be more precise: The fact that the votes are happening represents a most serious message from the citizens of rural and oil-rich parts of the state to the petty tyrants in Denver and their mindless supporters in Boulder and Aspen. But there was and is no way that the 51st state will come into creation this way.

Still, let’s mention the results:

With most of the votes counted in the relevant counties, five of the 11 counties supported secession. However, all that really matters in this discussion is that Weld County, home to what would be over 70 percent of the population of the proposed new state, gave the measure a resounding “no” vote, with approximately 58 percent voting against secession versus 42 percent supporting.

So now we can move on to the important elections.

At Large

Venezuela Rumbles

By 10.10.13

Among the happiest people in Venezuela after President Maduroexpelled the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires and two other diplomats was Henrique Capriles, the principal opponent in the presidential election last April. The White House had put out public “feelers” toward improving relations just before Hugo Chavez’s death. The victory of Nicolas Maduro, hand picked by Chavez, made the earlier American move appear to be an unnecessary advantage to the new president in the eyes of his former opponent, Capriles.

From Henrique Capriles’s view Maduro benefited by the Americans’ short-sighted action even though there clearly was to be no change in the previous Chavista anti-U.S. policy. Maduro officials stepped up their charges that Capriles maintained regular communications with the U.S. and other Western embassy representatives. There was nothing new in these complaints that previously had been a staple of the Venezuelan government while Chavez was alive. What was new was that they had been pressed forward at all by the new Maduro regime.