DETAILS OF SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM LEAKED:
2 CHOICES ONLY, BUT VOTING-AGE ISSUE DEFERRED TO SCOTS PARLIAMENT;
GREENS CONVINCE SALMOND TO DITCH NUKES, PUSH FOR LEAVING NATO;
ROW OVER ABORTION IN AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND;
PLUS, ROGER MOORE VS. SEAN CONNERY ON SCOTS SEPARATISM,
AND LONDON REVELS IN SALMOND’S FALLING-OUT WITH DONALD TRUMP
U.K., Edinburgh Hammer Out Deal: Only 2 Choices on Ballot; Voting-Age Matter Deferred. Details emerged this week about some features of the agreement reached between Scotland’s deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and the United Kingdom’s “Scottish Secretary,” Michael Moore, on the shape and form of the planned referendum in 2014 on Scottish independence. After days in which leaks indicated first one thing and then another, especially on the question of extending the voting franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds for the vote, it seems that that question will be left for Scotland’s parliament to decide. The Scottish National Party (S.N.P.) has been arguing for the lowering of the voting age. Even though only a quarter of Scottish teenagers favored independence in a recent poll (as reported in this blog), the separatists seem to think that demographic can be won over in time for the vote. It has also been revealed that it will be a single-question referendum, also a demand of the U.K., as opposed to one which offers a third choice of simply enhanced sovereignty—nicknamed “devo max,” for maximum devolution—for the territory. Again, the insistence on a three-choice ballot is an interesting choice for the Scots, since three-choice ballots, in places like Puerto Rico and Western Sahara, tend to split votes and result in status quo ante, and thus are preferred by the colonizing power. But London seems to feel that having no “devo max”—which it also does not want—on the ballot means that most Scots will opt for the status quo—a gamble to be sure. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, on the other hand, seems to think that the status quo is so unlikely to win a plurality that no matter how things go he will at least have “devo max” and, at the most, independence. The agreement will be signed October 15th when the U.K.’s prime minister, David Cameron, visits Salmond in Edinburgh.
Scottish Greens Back Yes Vote, but Want to Ban Nukes; Salmond Agrees. The Scottish Green Party debated in Glasgow on the weekend of October 6-7 whether and under what terms to back Yes Scotland, the pro-independence organization established earlier this year by the territory’s ruling Scottish National Party (S.N.P.), and Alex Salmond, the S.N.P. leader and Scotland’s First Minister, turns out to be open to some of them. Patrick Harvie, a Green member of Scottish Parliament for Glasgow and a co-founder of Yes Scotland, articulated the Greens’ conditions for sovereignty. Among them, an independent Scotland would be a secular republic—with no established church, such as the Church of England is in the United Kingdom. Also, with Scotland a republic, the Kingdom of Scotland, which was merged with the Kingdom of England in 1707 to form the U.K. but never formally dissolved, will go on the dustbin of history. Harvie also looks forward to a nuclear-free Scotland outside of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a separate Scots currency (but never the euro), although the S.N.P. tends to favor keeping the British pound. Harvie was pleased that the S.N.P.’s movement has not become “nationalist” and “has evolved into the sort of organisation it should have been from day one.” Though supporting Yes Scotland formally, the Greens, unlike the S.N.P., have supported a multi-choice referendum (see above) and will have their own “yes” campaign while also joining the S.N.P. in urging a “yes” vote. However, Salmond said the next day that the new constitution he will draft will ban “weapons of mass destruction” from Scottish soil and territorial waters. “Greens are not nationalists,” Harvie said, “and we’re not motivated by devotion to one flag or another. But we can see huge opportunities to make our country fairer and greener.”
|Patrick Harvie, head of Scotland’s Greens, has put his weight behind independence.|
Unearthed Draft Trump Speech on Freed Libyan Bomber Taints Salmond. Meanwhile, media in England this week revealed a chapter in the erstwhile troubled friendship between Salmond and the flamboyant American billionaire Donald Trump which they hope will embarrass the S.N.P. leader. In 2009, Salmond tried and failed to recruit Trump to tamp down anger in the United States over the release of one of the Libyan terrorists in the 1988 airplane bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed nearly 189 U.S. citizens. During the controversy, after Scotland freed the only convicted plotter, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, on medical grounds, the S.N.P. drafted a statement for Trump to release to the public as his own words, in which he was to say, “As an American, I personally would sympathise with the U.S. families. However, I am certain that the Scots issued this release for good reasons and ... it won’t stop my love affair with Scotland and the Scots. No one should ever demean that country. Too many Scottish soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan for the head of the F.B.I. to lecture Scots on fighting terrorism.” But Trump refused, arguing that he would be “run out of New York” if he backed Scotland’s decision publicly. At the time, the S.N.P. was helping clear the way for Trump to build a £750-million golf resort on unspoiled Aberdeenshire coastline—a deal that has since gone south, taking the Salmond–Trump bromance with it, after the Scottish government approved an offshore wind-farm to be built in full view of the links. The pro-unionist Conservative and Labour parties made political hay from the revelation, with the Scottish Conservatives’ deputy leader saying, “Donald Trump, like most people in Scotland and almost everyone in the U.S., clearly realised the release of Megrahi was a huge mistake,” and Scottish Labour’s shadow justice minister saying, “It would appear the First Minister thought Mr. Trump had a favour to return, even if the U.S. tycoon didn’t agree. It is extremely worrying that such close relationships between politicians and rich and powerful businessmen can affect Scottish Government policy.”
|Donald Trump in Scotland|
For the latest news from Nigeria (and Cameroon), including Boko Haram violence and the dispute over the Bakassi Peninsula, see this week’s “Nigeria Update.”
U.N. Security Council Gives Ecowas, Mali 45 Days to Submit Plan to Free Azawad. The thousands who marched in Bamako, the capital of the Republic of Mali, on October 11th to demand military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to dislodge the Islamist militias that for months have been running the northern two-thirds of the country—known as Azawad—were vindicated the next day as the United Nations Security Council gave Ecowas and Mali 45 days to come up with a plan for military intervention to submit to the Council for approval. Ecowas, for its part, is still waiting for a green light from the United Nations and from the Malian central government.
|Thousands rallied in Bamako for Malian unity—i.e. the reabsorption of Azawad.|
200 Timbuktu Women Rally against Shari’a Law in Islamist-Ruled Azawad. About 200 women staged a rally on October 6th in Timbuktu, in the Islamist-ruled Independent State of Azawad, to protest the imposition of shari’a (Islamic law). The jihadist militias that rule the territory, which comprises what the international community considers the northern two-thirds of the Republic of Mali, broke up the rally by firing shots in the air. Reports also emerged this week that Islamists are compiling lists of women who have had children out of wedlock, raising fears that those women could be targeted for execution by stoning, as has happened to other women under shari’a in Azawad.
|An expansive vision of Barotseland.|
In reality, it is only the secession of Western Province that is on the table.
5 Hurt by Blast in Somaliland’s Sool Region; Governor Orders Ex-Governor Arrested. Five people were injured in an explosion October 5th in Las Anod, capital of the recently-pacified Sool region, in a disputed area in the east of the unrecognized Republic of Somaliland. Also this week in Las Anod, the governor of Sool, Mohamed Mahmud Ali, a.k.a. Jinn Yare, ordered the arrest of Harir Gadweine, former governor of the nearby Ayn (a.k.a. Cayn, a.k.a. Buhoodle) region, though no reason for the arrest has yet been given.
Puntland Police Shut Down Radio Station for “Destabilizing Peace and Stability.” Police in the self-governing Puntland State of Somalia, on orders from the de facto republic’s ministry of information, on October 6th shut down a radio station for “destabilizing [the] peace and stability of Puntland” by spreading supposedly false news. The station, Horseed Media, in Bosaso, on Puntland’s north coast, claims it never received the government’s letter of warning ahead of the raid. Puntland’s authoritarian president, Abirahman Mohamed Farole, runs, thanks to the Federal Republic of Somalia’s blind eye, one of the most politically stable parts of the Horn of Africa, but it is marred by authoritarian overreach, and suppression of the press especially.
Paddy Roy Bates, a.k.a. Prince Roy of Sealand, Dies at 91. See the full obituary on this blog.
Spanish Parliament Denies Catalans Right to Hold Independence Referendum. The Spanish parliament voted on October 9th to block the Autonomous Community of Catalonia from holding a referendum on independence from Spain. Catalonia’s own autonomous parliament voted last month (as reported in this blog) to hold a referendum on some unspecified future date, possibly soon after next month’s elections for the Catalan parliament. The Republican Left of Catalonia party (E.R.C.) brought the question before the chamber by tabling a motion to permit Catalonia to hold referenda, but it was voted down 276-42, with no abstentions. Already, however, Catalan separatist leaders are vowing to ignore the result and hold a vote on independence anyway.
A few days later, on Spain’s national holiday, October 12th (the same as Columbus Day in the United States, celebrating one of the most bloodthirsty genocidal mass-murderers in history, who was in fact Italian), supporters and opponents of Catalonian secession held rival marches and demonstrations in Barcelona and other cities.
Some injuries were reported.
|Spain’s Falangists—a holdover from the days of Fascism—oppose any kind of separatism.|
|Ah, well, there’s a bit of craziness on both sides.|
|Hemorrhage to Catalonia: a pro-independence demonstrator after the rioting|
|Basques rallying in Edinburgh, Scotland, against an extradition|
In Kosovo, Serb Cemetery Vandalized, Serb Home Bombed. A Serbian cemetery in a predominantly-ethnically-Albanian town in the Republic of Kosovo was found vandalized on October 6th. The cemetery, in the village of Žač, had its gate torn out, its church demolished, tombstones damaged, and dead cattle strewn about. Approximately a dozen Serbian families live in Žač, and there has been friction with the Albanian majority in the community. Then, on October 10th, in Kosovska Mitrovica, the northern half of the divided northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica which serves as the de facto of the Serbian-backed enclave North Kosovo, a bomb was thrown into the yard of a Serbian home. There were no injuries. Then, the next day, two Serbs were attacked by three Albanians near Mitrovica, prompting a search by officers from the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (Eulex) of two nearby Albanian-owned homes, from which 82 weapons were seized.
|A Serb cemetery vandalized in Kosovo|
Road Dispute Pushes Moscow Suburbs to Secede from Russia, Waving Fascist Ukrainian Flags. See this week’s full article on this development.
6 Militants Killed by Police in Dagestan; Chopper Bombs Militia’s Mountain Hideout. A checkpoint in Buynaksk, in southwestern Russia’s Republic of Dagestan, was attacked by rebels on October 7th with grenade launchers and automatic weapons. Interior-ministry officers returned fire, and there were no reports of any casualties. The following day, a car stop in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, led to a shoot-out with police in which three militants were shot and killed. Another militant died after resisting arrest in the village of Endirey on the same day, while other reports also mention a second militant killed by police in the capital on the 8th, as well as two mysterious explosions in the city that morning, which the Dagestani interior ministry later said were not terrorism-related. Then, on October 9th, a Russian foreign-ministry helicopter bombed a militia’s mountain redoubt near Makhachkala, and on October 11th a siege of a militant hideout in Endirei, in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district, ended in the death of the 22-year-old militant holed up in the house. One policeman was injured.
2 Militants Dead in Karbadino-Balkaria Siege. Two Islamist militants were killed in the western North Caucasus region’s Kabardino-Balkar Republic, in southwestern Russia, on October 12th, after a police siege of a house. The militants fled to the house after a shoot-out prompted by a police identification check in the republican capital, Nalchik.
Ingush Madrasah Teacher Killed; Confessed Killer Cites Sexual Harassment. Meanwhile, in the nearby Russian Republic of Ingushetia, a 48-year-old Muslim religious leader, Yunus Akhilgov, was killed by unknown assailants in the village of Troitskaya on October 11th. Later, police said a 53-year-old man confessed to killing Akhilgov, a madrasah teacher who the suspect said was harassing his 19-year-old son.
2 Extradited from Britain Plead Not Guilty in Connecticut to Aiding Chechen Rebels. Running money, guns, and recruits to the Islamist insurgency is among the charges to which two men extradited from the United Kingdom pleaded “not guilty” on October 6th in a courtroom in New Haven, Connecticut. The two men, Babar Ahmad, aged 38, and Syed Talha Ahsan, 33, are also charged with aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan after the United States military removed them from power with an invasion in 2001. They are being tried in Connecticut because that is where an Internet service provider used in their operations was based.
|Anti-extradition protesters on Britain. Ahmad is accused of running guns to Chechen rebels.|
BITS OF ASIA THAT LIKE TO PRETEND THEY’RE PART OF EUROPE
New Georgian Government Pledges Softer Stance on Abkhazia, South Ossetia. The newly elected government in the Republic of Georgia said this week that it would open dialogue with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two mostly-unrecognized Russian puppet states carved out of what most of the world still regards as Georgian territory. Giorgy Volsky, an aide to Bidzina Ivanishivili of the Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia coalition, who won the presidency October 1st, told media, “The talks aim to establish strong relations with the parties and to start a direct popular dialogue,” adding, “We don’t think we should call them ‘puppet regimes,’” and he said Russia did not need to be part of the talks. Ivanishvili, a billionaire, is perceived as being softer on Russia than his predecessor, Mikheil Saakashvili, who provoked a war with Russia over South Ossetia in 2008, which Georgia lost.
Suspected P.K.K. Terrorists Attack 10 High Schools in Southeast Turkey, Injure 5. Coordinated attacks on 10 high schools in Diyarbakır and Şırnak provinces, in southeastern Turkey’s Kurdistan region, on October 9th injured two teachers and three students. In most instances, Molotov cocktails and noise bombs were lobbed at the buildings. In Diyarbakır, unknown attackers stormed the school and firebombed administrative offices. Authorities suspect the banned, separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.). A security video camera captured images of a teacher trying to block an attacker from entering a hallway. Meanwhile, a Turkish military helicopter crashed at Abali, in Diyarbakır province, on October 11th, killing one soldier and injuring seven. It was an accident, not combat-related, but the heavy military presence in the province is because of the Kurdish insurgency.
|A teacher scuffles with a Kurdish attacker in a school attack in southeast Turkey|
Autonomous Kurdish Region in Syria Announces Formation of Protection Force. The Democratic Union Party (P.Y.D.), a pro-Kurdish group in northern Syria, declared October 4th the formation of Kurdistan People’s Army Brigades (known as Y.P.G.). The new forces will protect Kurdish-dominated areas along the Turkish border which the embattled dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad relinquished in July, allowing the creation of a de facto West Kurdistan Autonomous Region (as reported at the time in this blog). The quasi-state’s very existence has spooked the government of Turkey, which regards the P.Y.D. as an arm of Turkey’s own banned separatist army, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), so with the creation of the Y.P.G., all the pieces are in place for full Turkish intervention in an ethnic civil war in Syria.
|New Kurdish protection forces in Syria|
Hamas, Israel Exchange Retaliatory Missile Attacks, Air Strikes. In response to an Israeli air strike on October 7th on the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestinian Territories, the Islamist terrorist groups Hamas—which governs the territory—and Islamic Jihad fired more than 40 rockets and mortars at southern Israel the next day. One home was damaged, but there were no reported casualties. The original strike injured two Gaza terrorists on a motorcycle, according to Israel. Then, after the Gaza bombardment, the Israeli air force hit more targets later in the day, including a Hamas position, according to Israeli sources, in a Gaza City mosque.
|The Gaza Strip this week|
Gorkhas Push for Own State If India Caves to Telangana Demand, but Vidarbhis Pessimistic. The secretary general of Gukhta Janmukti Morcha (G.J.M.), a political party in India’s northeastern West Bengal state which represents the Gorkha and other Nepali-descended ethnic groups of the northern Darjeeling Hills region, announced on October 7th that if the central government meets the demands of activists in Andhra Pradesh to create a separate state, Telangana, for the Telugu-speaking minority (see last week’s report on the Telangana statehood movement), then “the G.J.M. will immediately resurrect the agitation for Gorkhaland.” Starting in the 1980s, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (G.N.L.F.) pushed for an separate state within India to be called Gorkhaland, but the creation of an autonomous Gorkha Territorial Administration (G.T.A.) within West Bengal mostly put statehood demands on the back burner. Meanwhile, advocates of the creation of a separate state out of Maharashtra’s landlocked Vidarbha region also reacted to the seemingly increasing likelihood of Telangana statehood, with the Vidarbha regional president, Deepak Nilawar, saying on October 8th, “Vidarbha missed the bus a decade ago when new states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Uttarakhand were carved out. Now, Telangana state is being considered. But thanks to the dominance of western Maharashtra leaders who know well that their future will be bleak if Vidarbha state is created, the statehood remains a distant dream for us.”
|Map showing the proposed territory of Gorkhaland within the current West Bengal state|
India Agrees to Autonomous Region in Deal with Dimasa Rebels in Assam. In New Delhi, the Republic of India and the government of Assam state signed a peace deal on October 8th with the Dima Halam Daogah (D.H.D.), representing the Dimasa ethnic group. The agreement maps out a route to the establishment of an autonomous region in south-central Assam to be governed by a new entity to be called the Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council (D.H.A.T.C.). The D.H.D. has been waging violence since 2003 with the aim of an autonomous region to be called Dimaland, Dimasaland, or Dimaraji in parts of the states of Assam and Nagaland.
|Map showing the location of the Dimasa people in India|
|A flag of the former princely state of Manipur. Now that is a bitchen flag.|
China Cracks Down in Tibet Following Self-Immolation at Monastery. Another Tibetan protester set himself on fire on October 6th in the eastern part of the People’s Republic of China’s misnamed Tibet Autonomous Region, prompting the tightening of a crackdown on the citizenry that involves greater surveillance and restriction of movement. The activist, Sangay Gyatso, who was 27 years old, self-immolated near a monastery and died “shouting slogans,” according to reports, “for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet.” An exile group reports, “The Chinese security officials also attempted to arrest the Dokar Monastery monks responsible for taking care of ... and taking pictures of his charred body.” Just as the final version of this blog was being written (on morning of October 13th), word came in of another self-immolation today: 52-year-old Tamdrin Dorjee, who is the grandfather of the 7th Gungthang Rinpoche, an important religious figure. Dorjee, who set himself ablaze in Gansu province, died of his wounds.
|Sangay Gyatso after his self-immolation|
|Daisy Dukes, American flags, and sand sculptures mocking Mongolian tribal ancestors—|
a beauty pageant in the Chinese-pop-culture tradition of utterly baffling what-the-fuck randomness.
Philippine President Announces Final Peace Deal with
Defendant in Quebec Victory Rally Shootings Arrives in Court Wounded, Blames Guard. In Canada, Richard Henry Bain, the disgruntled Anglophone Quebec fishing-lodge owner who took out his rage against Francophones with a shooting at the separatist Parti Québécois election victory rally in Montreal last month, killing one and injuring another, showed up in court in Montreal on October 11th with two wounds on his head, saying only, “A guard pushed me.” His defense team is asking for an investigation of the incident.
Alaska Militia Member Given 5 Years for Insurrection Plot. A member of the radical individual-sovereigntist militia called the Alaska Peacemakers Militia was given a five-year prison sentence on September 24th for his role in a plot to assassinate government officials. The defendant, Coleman Barney, age 38, from the city of North Pole, near Fairbanks, was convicted in June of mostly weapons-related charges in the plot. Barney filed an appeal on September 26th. Two co-conspirators, Francis “Schaeffer” Cox (founder of the militia) and Lonnie Vernon, will be sentenced November 19th. The Alaska Peacemakers Militia believes that the United States government should be abolished if gun rights are violated.
|Members of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia|
|Live free or die.|
|The “Hammerfest 2012” white-power music festival came off without a hitch (not counting trailer hitches).|
|Staten Island’s flag. Good God, my eyes hurt. Change the font, please.|
(That reminds me, see my favorite blog, Bad Flags.)
(And don’t the seagulls sort of serve as an unwelcome reminder that most of Staten Island
consists of garbage landfills?)