No campaigns / No Hope / No BP fix / Erlinder update

Campaign season, but these politicos can kick back and relax: Willmar’s West Central Tribune reports that MN Representative Paul Anderson from Starbuck (District 13A) doesn’t have to worry about campaigning this summer. He’s one of five legislators with no opponent in November. All five are Republicans – State Senator Warren Limmer (District 32), Representative Paul Shimanski (18A), Representative Paul Torkelson (21B), and Joe Hoppe (31B).

Hope is still missing – and that’s not even a political comment. The internet-famous bear cub is missing again in northern Minnesota. Why won’t Lily take care of her? One possibility, say scientists: Three-year-old are just not very good mothers. The Duluth News-Tribune has good continuing coverage.

Daily oil spill update: BP’s plan to cut through a pipe with a diamond-edged knife failed when the knife got stuck. Now they are trying a giant scissors. Suggestions to explode an underwater nuclear bomb to seal the spill have been rejected. Could this get much more surreal? Back on shore, the Obama administration has ordered that BP pay for miles of berms in a last-ditch effort to keep (some? more? most?) oil off Louisiana’s coastline. Of course, hurricane season has now begun, and no one knows what would happen if a hurricane hits the oil slicks. In case we forget – BBC offers BP in numbers:

  • Profits in 2009: $13.96bn (£8.75bn)
  • Clean-up costs so far: $990m (£674m)
  • Estimated cost of sand barrier project $360m (£244m)
  • Dividend payment 2009: $10.5bn (£7bn)
  • BP scheduled to make a first-quarter dividend payment to shareholders on 21 June
  • At its worst BP saw 34% wiped off the company’s value
  • Share prices on London Stock Exchange fell from a pre-disaster high of 655.4 pence to 429.75p

Did jailed Minnesota attorney Peter Erlinder attempt suicide and confess to crimes? Not likely, according to Erlinder’s family, friends and attorneys. With attorney access to Erlinder limited, sporadic and threatened (Rwandan officials are talking about deporting the U.S. attorney who is leading the three-lawyer defense team), it’s hard to get solid information about Erlinder’s medical condition.

The charges of “genocide ideology” are not based on any denial that Tutsis were massacred in 1994. Instead, the arrest of Erlinder stems from very specific charges against Rwanda’s current head of state, Paul Kagame. “The allegation of ‘genocide denial’ has been an important instrument of Kagame’s rule,” write Edward Herman and David Peterson in MRZine, “with potentially rival politicians, or in fact any Kagame target, so accused and pushed out of the way.”

Erlinder represents the widows of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, who charge that Kagame orchestrated the attack on the airplane that then crashed in 1994, killing both of the presidents and precipitating the genocide. Kagame also stands accused of preventing free elections, and of genocidal operations against Hutus, both inside Rwanda in 1994 (see PDF of internal State Department report) and continuing in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

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