I'm told that the "cold snap" is reaching its end. This morning for example at 8am it was a mere -30. That's a full two degrees warmer than the day before. One morning at around 6 (I think Wednesday) it got down to -36 which, as far as I know, is as low as it has got (so far). My inner masochistic lover of symmetry kind of wanted it to get down to -40 as I know that's the temperature at which the centigrade and fahrenheit scales coincide, and I could have told everyone I know that it was -40 without having to explain. Rather like the way that I always tried to pay my bills in the US on the 7th of July or the 10th of October or whatever, so I knew I was signing cheques (or "checks", I suppose)without having to think about which way round to list the date.
So cold was it that on the news there were pictures of the Black Sea at Constanta with the ice sheet extending 1km from the shore. Yes, that's the sea which froze over. It was 50cm thick too.
The US marine who killed a Romanian rock star (I mentioned at the bottom of this post) is being court martialed back home, and might get a slap on the wrist, or possibly even a clip round the ear, or if he's really really unlucky a good ticking off. This article (from the US military paper Stars and Stripes) says that he's charged with not only negligent homicide but also adultery. Who knew adultery was a crime? The best bit? The maximum penalty for negligent homicide is three years in jail, and the maximum penalty for adultery is one year. Wonder if they'll throw in a bit of torture too? Or does the US Military reserve that for foreigners held without trial?
I kind of want to write a long piece about how Hamas's election victory is a direct result of the brutal and vicious occupation and that it's exactly the kind of epitaph Sharon would have wanted, but I know whenever one writes about Israel/Palestine all these extremist psychos come out of the internet woodwork and accuse you of terrible things (the extremist psycho pro-occupation wing will tell you that you're condoning terrorism or an anti-semite or no better than Hitler for even daring to suggest that the occupation should be ended, while the extremist anti-semite wing of the internet will come out and condemn you to death for even daring to suggest that Israeli civilians ought to be able to go about their daily lives in safety). It's quite interesting in a blackly comic way to see the US govt tie itself in knots trying to big up democracy while simultaneously condemning the victors in what seems to have been an extremely well conducted election. "We respect the will of the people, but urge Mahmoud Abbas to keep Hamas in opposition" is one I heard yesterday. The endgame of this is that now Sharon has begat Hamas, Hamas may beget Netanyahu. And then we're all finished. In the meantime I will link you to this commentary by Gerald Kaufman in today's Guardian, who says it better than I ever could. (For non-British readers unfamiliar with Kaufman, he's a Labour MP whose been an MP for as long as I can remember - ie he predates Blair by many years - and is Britians most prominent Jewish MP. That last fact shouldn't matter or legitimise his views at all, but sadly in a world where criticism of Israel is painted as anti-semitism it does).