Sparky: Stuff for a Friday night
No matter how obvious the mistakes in Iraq become, or how many Americans get fed up, Republicans in Congress and the White House will label you a traitor to your country if you stand up and question them.
I'm not naïve enough to think it won't be an issue in the election year but accusing people of being unpatriotic cheats good Americans out of any chance for a real resolution to the mess in Iraq. And while this issue of war is neither a Democratic nor a Republican one, the need for new leadership in the House is clearly an issue.
While the Republicans have been busy name calling, the situation in Iraq has only gotten worse. The insurgency has grown exponentially. IED attacks, where our troops are sitting ducks for an enemy they can't even see, have increased steadily. And the patience of the American people for this flawed policy is running out.
We need to put an end to these outrageous attacks on people who disagree with Bush and his Rubber Stamp Republican Congress's "sit and watch" plan for Iraq. My colleagues in the House Democratic leadership are so committed to winning a Democratic majority that they have offered to match all contributions that come in from before midnight on June 30th.
With a Democratic majority, we would have an honest debate about the war. The American people's concerns and opposition would be recognized.
Double Your Impact Now With a Matched Gift and Help Win a Democratic Majority.
Last week, during the House floor debate, I hoped the Republicans would have realized that the majority of the American people do not support this war. I hoped that they would have recognized that the American people need more from their government than a Republican Congress that asks no questions and demands no answers. But that didn't happen, and it's clear we need a Democratic majority to chart a new course.
When I offered a concrete plan to get our troops out of harm's way, where they have become the target, I didn't expect every member of Congress or every candidate to agree with my specific proposal in this debate. But I did expect them to acknowledge that there is more to be done than sitting and watching.
Double Your Impact Now With a Matched Gift and Help Win a Democratic Majority.
The single most important thing you can do right now as a supporter of the DCCC is make a contribution.
Thank you for all your help, it's so important.
Member of Congress, Pennsylvania's 12th District
P.S. I hope you will join me in my fight. Our candidates have to be able to fight back against the Rove Machine's traitor talk in order to start getting Congress to move towards finding real solutions. We need a Democratic majority to change the direction in Iraq. Contribute before midnight on June 30th and your contribution will be matched, doubling your impact towards winning a Democratic majority.
By Charles Babington
June 23, 2006
The fire wrecked the left-hand tower.
The Principality of Sealand is currently being checked, after a fire caused havoc to the ex-World War II tower. Fire fighters from the Thames coastguard poured water onto the structure, and rescued a security guard who has been taken to Ipswich hospital. It is believed that the fire was started by a fault in a generator.
Sealand, formerly Rough Towers, is a self declared principality comprising of an old army fort. It was built to deter, and report back on, any German attempts to lay mines using aircraft in the channel of the Thames. The offshore company HavenCo currently uses it to hold servers for the computer industry.
The Principality of Sealand is a micronation that claims as its territory the artificial island of Roughs Tower, a former Maunsell Sea Fort located in the North Sea 10 km (six miles) off the coast of Suffolk, England, at , as well as territorial waters in a twelve-nautical-mile radius. Sealand is occupied by family members and associates of Paddy Roy Bates, who styles himself as H.R.H. Prince Roy of Sealand. The population of the facility rarely exceeds five, and its inhabitable area is 550 m².
Although Sealand's claims to sovereignty and legitimacy are not recognized by any country, it is probably the world's best-known micronation, and is sometimes cited in debates as an interesting case study of how various principles of international law can be applied to a territorial dispute.
Map of Sealand and the United Kingdom, with territorial water claims of
3nm and 12nm shown (note the 12 mile limit was introduced in 1987 - not 1968).
Sealand's claim that it is an independent state is founded on the following two propositions:
- When Paddy Roy Bates and his associates occupied Roughs Tower in 1967 it was located in international waters, outside the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom and all other sovereign states. Sealand claims de jure legitimacy on this basis.
- The interactions of the UK government with Sealand constitute de facto recognition. Sealand claims de facto legitimacy on this basis.
In international law, the two most common schools of thought for the creation of statehood are the constitutive and declaratory theories of state creation. The constitutive theory was the standard nineteenth century model of statehood, and the declaratory theory was developed in the twentieth century to address shortcomings of the constitutive theory. In the constitutive theory, a state exists exclusively via recognition by other states. The theory splits on whether this recognition requires "diplomatic recognition" or merely "recognition of existence". It is clear that no other state grants Sealand diplomatic recognition, but it has been argued by Bates that negotiations carried out by Germany constituted "recognition of existence". In the declaratory theory of statehood, an entity becomes a state as soon as it meets the minimal criteria for statehood. Recognition by other states is purely "declaratory".
One set of criteria for statehood under international law is defined by the Montevideo Convention. This asserts that a defined territory, permanent population, government and the capacity to enter into relationships with other sovereign states are the only foundation requirements for a sovereign state. None of these requirements necessarily has to conform to a certain size or standard, but their general characteristics should be taken into account.
A similar set of criteria for statehood is found in the European Community Opinions of the Badinter Arbitration Committee. The committee found that a state was defined by having a territory, a population, and a political authority. The committee also found that the existence and disappearance of states was a question of fact, while the recognition by other states was purely declaratory.
Since the 1968 UK court decision, the United Kingdom has extended its territorial sea to twelve nautical miles (22 km), which it had the legal right to do under international law since 1958 (although the necessary Act of Parliament was not passed until 1987). These and subsequent laws have dealt with the construction and legal position of artificial islands. However, as Roughs Tower is actually a sunken ship, some have claimed it is not covered by these rulings. Sealand declared that it, too, was extending its claim of territorial waters to twelve nautical miles at a similar time to the UK.
According to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, there is no transitional law and no possibility to consent to the existence of a construction which was previously approved or built by a neighbouring state. This means that artificial islands may no longer be constructed and then claimed as sovereign states, or as state territories, for the purposes of extension of an exclusive economic zone or of territorial waters. However, since Roughs Tower is not an artificial island but a sunken ship, it would be necessary for Her Majesty's Crown Estate (which owns the land itself under the tower) to act as the complainant landlord in order to get the wreck removed from its property. If Sealand is a sunken ship rather than an artificial island then no claim to statehood can be made, as a ship cannot constitute the "permanent" territory required for statehood to be established.
The only prospect for successful assertion of sovereignty would be to show that there was de facto sovereignty prior to 1968.
Although the UK has publicly asserted its authority over Roughs Tower, it appears to be government policy to refrain from comment or action except when forced. British Government documents, now available to the public under the 30-year expiry of confidentiality, show that the UK drafted plans to take the tower by force, but such plans were not implemented by the then Prime Minister due to the potential for loss of life, and the creation of a legal and public relations disaster.
In 1978 a German court ruled that Sealand was not a valid nation: "A man-made artificial platform, such as the so-called Duchy of Sealand, cannot be called either 'a part of the earth's surface' or 'land territory' and only structures which make use of a specific piece of the earth's surface can be recognised as State territory within the meaning of international law." (In re Duchy of Sealand (1978) 80 ILR 683, 685 (Administrative Court of Cologne))
In 1990 a US Administrative Court also ruled that Sealand was not a valid sovereign nation, following evidence from James Murphy of the Department of Trade and Industry. On appeal in 1991 the decision that the state called Sealand does not exist, and has not ever existed was upheld by a US Federal Court.
The Times on December 6, 2005, claimed that the British government and courts finally admitted that Sealand "is outside British national territory [...] and not part of the United Kingdom", however The Times did not elaborate and there has been no confirmation by other sources. 
- "Blaze at offshore military fort". BBC News, 23 June 2006
- "Blaze rages on sea platform". East Anglian Daily Times (EADT24), 23 June 2006
Ask yourself why Rove isn't in prison - Sparks