Thursday, January 29, 2009

Governor Rod Blagojevich has been impeached. And the vote was 59 to 0!

I’m going to follow the advice that if you don’t have anything good to say about a person, then don’t say anything.

Let the Chicago Tribune report the news.


Senators vote to oust Blagojevich

4:58 p.m. Senate votes to ban Blagojevich from ever holding office again. The state Senate voted 59-0 to ban former Gov. Rod Blagojevich from again holding elected office in Illinois. The vote is the equivalent of the political death penalty.

4:53 p.m. Senate vote now official. The Illinois Senate has voted 59-0 to remove Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office.

4:50 p.m. Senate now voting. The Illinois Senate is now voting on whether to remove impeached Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office. As each senator’s name was called, they and spoke their vote, either “yes” or “no.”

The question posed to them was: “Shall the Senate sustain the article of impeachment against Rod R. Blagojevich and remove him from the office of governor?”

The vote right now is 58-0 with one vote not yet counted due to some sort of technical issue. Senate President John Cullerton, who is to cast the final vote, could not get his vote recorded.

They’re now going to redo the roll call by allowing senators to press a button.

They did, and it’s 59-0 to remove Blagojevich from office.


Blagojevich was caught actively trying to sell the Senate seat that President-elect Obama vacated. Obama was an Illinois Senator. Naturally, after he was elected President, Obama's Senate seat became available. The constitution of the state of Illinois vests the Governor with the power to appoint a replacement. Blagojevich was trying to sell the seat to the highest bidder.

After his impeachment, he is going to have to defend himself in a criminal lawsuit.

Here's the timeline; courtesy again of

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009


In Orthodox societies, Christmas and New Year are celebrated differently. In the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, for instance, Christmas (December 25th) is a non-event. Christmas is celebrated on January 7th instead. The country works through December 31st and then goes on holiday from January 1st to the 7th.

First, a country background. Ukraine is ancient. It lies along the many routes of conquerors and the conquered. From the north came the Vikings and the ancient Germanic tribes. From the west came the Romans, from the south, the Turks. And from the east came the Mongols. As can be expected, its people are a varied lot. Ukrainians share their Slavic roots with people of the surrounding regions—the Russians, Poles, Serbs, and Macedonians—to name some of them. The Slavic heritage, in turn, comes from the Vikings. Around 1000 AD, Ukraine, specifically its capital—Kyiv—was the seat of a kingdom called Kyivan Rus. The seat of this kingdom eventually migrated north, to present-day Moscow, to form the offspring that we now call Russia.

Second, a political background. Ukraine has a tortured past. Its national anthem, for example, can be translated as “Ukraine is still standing" or "Ukraine is not yet dead.” While it implies heroism, it also conjures an image of desperate bravery. In fact, with the major exception of Kyivan Rus, Ukraine has always belonged, in whole or in part, to more powerful kingdoms. After the Nazi occupation, it became an important cog of the defunct USSR. The Soviets exploited Ukraine to the hilt. It was simultaneously its “breadbasket” as well as its heavy metal (steel) source. In addition, many of the USSR’s engineering talent had Ukrainian origins. Most of the USSR’s navy was built in Ukraine. Its space program was based in Ukraine as was its nuclear missles. Indeed, after the USSR’s collapse in 1991, Ukraine suddenly found itself with the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal (after Russian and America). One of the longest-lived Soviet leaders, Leonid Brezhnev, was Ukrainian by birth although he did not bestow any special benefits to his native land during his era. Today, Ukraine is divided. Its president is pro-West and has been driving his country towards membership in NATO and the European Union. Ukraine’s prime minister, on the other hand, prefers the status quo and stay close to Russia. The division divides Ukraine along nearly geographic lines. With Kyiv in the center, the eastern half—the one adjacent to Russia—is pro-Russian. And it can literally be heard on the streets. The dominant language is Russian. The western half, by contrast, is more nationalistic if not pro-West. Similarly, Ukrainian is the lingua franca.


Dnipropetrovsk, “Dnipro,” as the locals call it, is Ukraine’s third largest city (1.1 million). It’s in the eastern half and lies along the banks of the great Dnipro river (known in Russian as the “Dnieper”). During the Cold War, it was a “closed city.” Admission into and out of Dnipro was tightly controlled. Among other things, most of the USSR’s InterContinental Ballistic Missles (ICBMs) were produced there. So tight was its security that this city of 1 million did not officially exist in any map.

Padlocks seal the new marriage

People practice different customs in their part of the world. In Ukraine, newlyweds carry on a cute tradition. A bridge connects the city center (downtown) to an island on the river.

This island, Monastyrskiy, contains the earliest evidence of human inhabitation in the area. Today, the island houses a rebuilt cathedral and one of the tallest statues of Ukraine’s most heroic figure, Taras Schevchenko. A transplanted New Yorker, Michelle, explained a custom that newlyweds engaged in after getting married. They lock a padlock to the bridge’s rails. As you can see, the city has had many newlyweds.

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