January 12th, 2009


Analysis: Abbas weakened by Israel's Gaza war

Analysis: Abbas weakened by Israel's Gaza war

Mahmoud Abbas hasn't been in this much trouble with his people in four years as Palestinian president. Never very popular, he is widely dismissed here as ineffective and now he seems to have misread popular sentiment regarding Israel's war on his Hamas rivals in Gaza.

With continued international support, the Western-backed moderate will likely be able to stay on, despite Hamas' insistence that his presidency ended Friday. But his declining popularity at home does not bode well for the inevitable next round in the battle between Islamic militants and Palestinian moderates seeking a peace deal with Israel.

At the start of Israel's offensive, Abbas, widely known as Abu Mazen, said the territory's Hamas rulers were at least partly to blame, because they provoked Israel with constant rocket fire.

Many West Bankers, even those who oppose Hamas' violent ideology, view the war in Gaza as an assault on all Palestinians. Israel says it's targeting Hamas strongholds in Gaza, but hundreds of civilians have also been killed. In West Bank homes, TVs are obsessively tuned to Arab satellite stations which run the brutal pictures of Gaza's dead and wounded that Western audiences are less exposed to.

"When it comes to Israel, we are all Hamas," said Nablus resident, Hanan Izzat, 42.
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50 Most Loathesome People

John Cole is fast becoming one of my favorite bloggers. I'm not sure how I've missed out on his snarkiness for so long. Yesterday he was the only one to draw attention to The Buffalo Beast's 50 Most Loathesome People made my Internet weekend:
50. Barack Obama

Charges: Beyond a few token acts of bipartisan marketing, Barry's major duty in the Senate was to avoid legislating, so he could pretend Washington-outsider status and nullify attacks on his non-existent policy positions. That's the thing about Obama and his candidacy: He was a blank slate, the pinnacle of vapid public relations—onto which the benighted masses may project their sincerest, yet unfounded, hopes in the wake of the worst administration in history. Couldn’t disown Rev. Wright, until he suddenly could, and then marred his first moments as president ahead of time by inviting a pastor whose advice to gays is just to refrain from sex for life. Promised not to run for president, then did; vowed to take public election funds, then didn't; backed telecom immunity, then accepted the nomination at the AT&T sponsored convention; expressed displeasure with Clinton's hawkish foreign policy and vote for war in Iraq, then named her as Secretary of State. And despite all that, he's plenty affable. There's nothing more loathsome than a likable politician.

Exhibit A: “Yes we can” is the “Just do it” of politics.

Sentence: Presiding over the decline of an exhausted empire.

1. Sarah Palin

Charges: If you want to know why the rest of the world is scared of Americans, consider the fact that after two terms of disastrous rule by a small-minded ignoramus, 46% of us apparently thought the problem was that he wasn’t quite stupid enough. Palin’s unending emissions of baffling, evasive incoherence should have disqualified her for any position that involved a desk, let alone placing her one erratic heartbeat from the presidency. The press strained mightily to feign respect for her, praising a debate performance that involved no debate, calling her a “great speaker” when her only speech was primarily a litany of insults to city-dwellers, echoing bogus sexism charges when a male Palin would have been boiled alive for the Couric interview alone, and lionizing her as she used her baby as a Pro-life stage prop before crowds who cooed when they should have been hurling polonium-tipped javelins. In the end, Palin had the beneficial effect of splitting her party between her admirers and people who can read.

Exhibit A: Waving her embryo-loving credentials, in the form of her Down syndrome baby, at "But ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy."

Sentence: Hand-to-hand combat with Vladimir Putin and a pack of wolves.


All 50 along with John Cole are worth reading.
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Obama Team in Talks to Tap TARP

WASHINGTON -- The incoming Obama administration, stymied by political opposition to the Bush administration's financial rescue, is negotiating with lawmakers to avoid a messy political fight as it seeks the second half of the $700 billion bailout.

The Obama team would like to ask for the money even before President-elect Barack Obama takes office but is concerned lawmakers would reject the request, handing Mr. Obama the sticky task of vetoing Congress as one of his first acts in office.

Members of Mr. Obama's team, including Treasury Secretary-nominee Timothy Geithner, are working to satisfy lawmakers' concerns by proposing using the funds for new purposes, such as preventing foreclosures, and imposing tougher conditions on recipients, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The political calculations are complicated by the need to navigate around Congress's ire toward the program. Making matters worse is the transition to the new administration, which wants to revamp its predecessor's work.

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Cohen: Mideast dream team? Not quite

NEW YORK: The Obama team is tight with information, but I've got the scoop on the senior advisers he's gathered to push a new Middle East policy as the Gaza war rages: Shibley Telhami, Vali Nasr, Fawaz Gerges, Fouad Moughrabi and James Zogby.

This group of distinguished Arab-American and Iranian-American scholars, with wide regional experience, is intended to signal a U.S. willingness to think anew about the Middle East, with greater cultural sensitivity to both sides, and a keen eye on whether uncritical support for Israel has been helpful.

O.K., forget the above, I've let my imagination run away with me. Barack Obama has no plans for this line-up on the Israeli-Palestinian problem and Iran.

In fact, the people likely to play significant roles on the Middle East in the Obama administration read rather differently.

They include Dennis Ross (the veteran Clinton administration Mideast peace envoy who may now extend his brief to Iran); Jim Steinberg (as deputy secretary of state); Dan Kurtzer (the former U.S. ambassador to Israel); Dan Shapiro (a longtime aide to Obama); and Martin Indyk (another former ambassador to Israel who is close to the incoming secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.)

Now, I have nothing against smart, driven, liberal, Jewish (or half-Jewish) males; I've looked in the mirror. I know or have talked to all these guys, except Shapiro. They're knowledgeable, broad-minded and determined. Still, on the diversity front they fall short. On the change-you-can-believe-in front, they also leave something to be desired.

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Community organizing, resurgent?

A reader sends in this course catalogue from the adult education arm of the University of Missouri Kansas City, which is using Obama's (rough) image and slogan to promote classes in ... community organizing.

Which is to say that Obama has made community organizing cool. Or, at least, that college administrators think he has.

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Scarborough: ‘That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard’ that torture doesn’t work.

Today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough waged an ardent, six-minute defense of torture, arguing with the Financial Times’ Krystia Freeland that torture is always effective — and that waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and stress positions aren’t torture anyway. He mocked Freeland’s objections as “sophomoric” and declared that torture has saved American lives:
SCARBOROUGH: Yes I do. Yes I do. And I know for a fact that waterboarding brought our interrogators, brought Americans, probably about 70-75 percent of what they get. What they got from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed opened doors that we are still going through. Waterboarding has produced and given so much evidence to our people in the CIA and in the other intelligence agencies. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed by himself has done more to crush al Qaeda than Dick Cheney or George Bush because of waterboarding.
Watch his entire screed:

Scarborough condescendingly asked Freeland, “Should we just bring them a birthday cake and ask them what soccer match they’d like to see?” In fact, the interrogator who successfully brought down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — and who has written and spoken publicly about how torture doesn’t work — told Laura Ingraham last month he broke one insurgent after he gave him a copy of Harry Potter.

panda bear

(no subject)

Joe The Plumber Files First Reports From Israel On Gaza Crisis

SDEROT, Israel — Joe the Plumber has set aside his wrenches to become a rookie war correspondent, covering Israel's side of its two-week-old military offensive in Gaza.

The Ohio man, who rocketed to fame during the U.S. presidential campaign for asking Barack Obama about his tax plan, was in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Sunday to tell readers of the conservative pjtv.com Web site about the rockets that rain down from the neighboring Gaza Strip.

The people of Sderot "can't do normal things day to day" like get soap in their eyes in the shower, for fear of rockets, said America's most famous plumber, whose real name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher.

"I'm sure they're taking quick showers," he said. "I know I would."

Wurzelbacher's status as a rookie was evident when he stood in front of a pile of spent rockets and said: "I have thousands of questions but I can't think of the right one."

What he could summon was contempt for Israel's critics, who are outraged by the more than 870 Palestinians killed in Israel's bruising air and ground onslaught against Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas rulers. Thirteen Israelis have also died since the operation began, including four killed by the rocket fire that touched off the war in the first place.

"Why hasn't Israel acted sooner?" Wurzelbacher asked. "I know if I were a citizen here, I'd be damned upset."

He described himself as a "peaceloving man," but added, "when someone hits me, I'm going to unload on the boy. And if the rest of the world doesn't understand that, then I'm sorry."

Wurzelbacher, who underwent intense media scrutiny during the campaign, said he was enlisted to cover Israel because he's "an expert on media bias."

"I was on the short end of the stick," like Israel is now, he said.

When Wurzelbacher joined Republican Sen. John McCain on the campaign trail, he agreed with a supporter who asked if he thought "a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel."

Wurzelbacher said the full story of Israel's campaign against Hamas isn't coming out on mainstream news outlets. He said they are demonizing Israel instead of recognizing it as the victim of Gaza militants who have fired thousands of rockets at Israel over the past eight years.

"It's asinine when someone is firing upon you and the world is coming down on you," he said. "Common sense has gone out the window."

"Hamas hides among its own people," causing civilian casualties, he added. "But I hear no cry out from the international community."

That's the Israeli government's position, too. And though foreign reporters normally have to provide proof of experience to receive government authorization to report from Israel, Wurzelbacher was being escorted Sunday on his first reporting gig ever by the head of the Government Press Office, Danny Seaman, and a press office photographer.

Wurzelbacher said he's been "embraced" by the people of Israel because "they know I have no agenda but the truth." But his arrival in a busy cafe elicited no overt signs of recognition. He appeared to cause more of a stir among the press there.

This is his first trip to Israel, and he pronounced himself "happy to be here."

But war correspondent or not, Wurzelbacher won't get to Gaza: Israel has barred access to foreign journalists.

"If he wants to put on an Israeli military uniform and go in as a volunteer, maybe," Seaman quipped. "Nobody goes in."


lol omg

Poland: Workers find WWII mass grave of Germans

Poland: Workers find WWII mass grave of Germans

Construction workers in northern Poland have unearthed a World War II-era mass grave containing what are believed to be the bodies of 1,800 German men, women and children who disappeared during the Soviet Army's march to Berlin.

Poles digging at the site of a planned luxury hotel in Malbork — which was called Marienburg and was part of Germany during the war — excavated a bomb crater at the foot of the city's famous 13th century Teutonic Knights fortress, authorities said Monday.

The workers found a small group of bodies in late October and halted digging to allow prosecutors to investigate. After resuming work weeks later, the workers turned up dozens, and then hundreds, more corpses. They believe more may be found.
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NYC judge allows Madoff to remain free

NYC judge allows Madoff to remain free

A judge allowed disgraced investor Bernard Madoff to remain free on bail Monday, rejecting an attempt by prosecutors to send him to jail for mailing more than $1 million in jewelry to family and friends over the holidays.

The decision means Madoff will avoid having to leave the comfort of his $7 million penthouse and await trial in a cramped jail cell with nothing but bunkbeds, a sink and toilet. Madoff will remain under house arrest and under the constant watch of security guards.

The ruling further outraged investors who have been clamoring for Madoff to be sent to jail for allegedly carrying out the largest financial fraud in history. They find it shocking that Madoff is free on bail, despite distributing assets that could be used to help repay investors who lost billions.
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Sun Tzu says, "You dont use the same tactics in different battlefields you dumbass"

U.S. finds Iraq tactics don't work in Afghan war

On a sunset patrol here in late December, U.S. Marines spotted a Taliban unit trying to steal Afghan police vehicles at a checkpoint. In a flash, the Marines turned to pursue, driving off the main road and toward the gunfire coming from the mountain a half mile away.

But their six-ton vehicles were no match for the Taliban pickups. The mine-resistant vehicles and heavily armored Humvees bucked and swerved as drivers tried to maneuver them across fields that the Taliban vehicles raced across. The Afghan police trailed behind in unarmored pick-up trucks, impatient about their allies' weighty pace.

The Marines, weighted down with 60 pounds of body armor each, struggled to climb up Saradaka Mountain . Once at the top, it was clear to everyone that the Taliban would get away. Second Lt. Phil Gilreath , 23, of Kingwood, La., called off the mission.

"It would be a ghost chase, and we would run the risk of the vehicles breaking down again," Gilreath said. The Marines spent the next hour trying to find their way back to the paved road.

The men of the 3rd Batallion, 8th Marine Regiment , based at Camp Lejeune , are discovering in their first two months in Afghanistan that the tactics they learned in nearly six years of combat in Iraq are of little value here — and may even inhibit their ability to fight their Taliban foes.
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Gene Robinson To Deliver Inaugral Invocation

NH gay bishop who criticized Obama's invocation choice to give prayer at preinaugural event


CONCORD, N.H. - The first openly gay Episcopal bishop will offer a prayer at the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural event for President-elect Barack Obama.

The selection of New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson for Sunday's event follows weeks of criticism from gay-rights groups over Obama's decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Warren backed the ban on same-sex marriage that passed in his home state of California on the November ballot.

Robinson said last month the choice of Warren was like a slap in the face. In an interview with the Concord Monitor, he said he doesn't believe Obama invited him in response to the Warren criticism but said his inclusion won't go unnoticed by the gay and lesbian community.

"It's important for any minority to see themselves represented in some way," Robinson told the newspaper for a story in Monday's editions. "Whether it be a racial minority, an ethnic minority, or in our case, a sexual minority. Just seeing someone like you up front matters."

Clark Stevens, a spokesman for the inaugural committee, said Robinson was invited because he had offered his advice to Obama during the campaign and because of his church work. When asked whether Robinson was included to calm the Warren complaints, he said Robinson is "an important figure in the religious community. We are excited that he will be involved."

Robinson, 61, said both Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden will attend the event, and Obama is expected to speak. As for himself, Robinson said he doesn't yet know what he'll say, but he knows he won't use a Bible.

"While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans," Robinson said. "I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation."

Robinson said his prayer will be reflective of the times.

"I think these are sober and difficult times that we are facing," he said. "It won't be a happy, clappy prayer."


Obama To Throw Party For McCain

Obama to host McCain at Bipartisan Dinner


President-elect Barack Obama will hold a dinner toasting his presidential opponent, John McCain, the night before he's sworn in, the inaugural committee announced today.

The Jan. 19 gathering will be held in Washington and feature a bipartisan contingent from Congress and others from both parties.

The "Bipartisan Dinner," as it is being billed, will be held in conjunction with two events the same night aimed at political unity. Colin Powell, who endorsed Obama, and Joe Biden will also be honored at dinners of their own.

"Each of these distinguished Americans has spent his life in service to his country, at each and every moment placing the interests of America before issues of political party," Obama said in a statement.

Tickets will be required but each of the dinners will be open to the media.

"These are typically fancy candlelight dinners – but the president-elect wanted to find a way to make these a little more relevant to his thinking about the presidency and suggested using them as a forum to promote bipartisanship on the eve of the Inauguration," an inauguration official told Politico.

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Blackwell: I Could Restrain Homosexual Urges -- If I Had Any, Which I Don't

You gotta love the candidates for RNC chair.

Gay-rights activist and talk-radio host Michelangelo Signorile has posted an amusing piece of audio of Ken Blackwell during the Republican National Convention, telling Signorile that homosexuality is a compulsion that can be "restrained," and he's quite confident he would be able to suppress it within himself -- though of course he's never had any sort of problem like that.

"I've never had to make the choice because I've never had the urge to be other than a heterosexual," Blackwell said, "but if in fact I had the urge to be something else I could have in fact suppressed that urge."

(Via The Hill)

panda bear


Obama Closing Guantanamo: Preparing Order In First Week

Advisers to President-elect Barack Obama say one of his first duties in office will be to order the closing of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. That executive order is expected during Obama's first week on the job _ and possibly on his first day, according to two transition team advisers. Both spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Obama's order will direct his administration to figure out what to do with the estimated 250 al-Qaida and Taliban suspects and potential witnesses who are being held at Guantanamo.

It's still unlikely the prison would be closed any time soon. Obama last weekend said it would be "a challenge" to close it even within the first 100 days of his administration.



Paris area synagogue hit in firebomb attack

Paris area synagogue hit in firebomb attack

Two Molotov cocktails were hurled at a synagogue north of Paris, the latest attack in what France's interior minister said Monday is a new wave of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim attacks over the violence in Gaza. No injuries were reported.

President Nicolas Sarkozy met with religious leaders and reiterated the need to avoid "transposing" onto French soil a foreign conflict the country has been working to ease, his office said.

Firebombs broke a window and charred the walls of a pizzeria on the ground floor at Chabad House Ohr Manahem, in the town of Saint-Denis, said Isroeil Belinow, the synagogue's assistant rabbi. Belinow said police found 15 other unignited firebombs nearby.

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said France has faced a "very clear increase" in anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim attacks since Israel started an offensive against the militant group Hamas in Gaza on Dec. 27.
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War strains Gazans' survival skills

War strains Gazans' survival skills

In 17 days of war, Hisham Abu Ramadan has fallen into a new routine.

He gets up before dawn and goes to his mosque, not just to pray, but to charge his cell phone, since it's the only place in the neighborhood with a generator. After prayers, he gets in line at a nearby bakery, where as many as 150 people are already waiting to buy bread.

"We've gotten accustomed to this life," said Abu Ramadan, 37.

Others face a tougher time.

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Israeli leader warns Hamas of 'iron fist'

Israeli leader warns Hamas of 'iron fist'

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stood within Hamas rocket range Monday and warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. Hamas showed no signs of wavering, however, with its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, saying the militants were "closer to victory."

Despite the tough words, Egypt said it was making slow progress in brokering a truce, and special Mideast envoy Tony Blair said elements were in place for a cease-fire.
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K-Box cartoon

When "gotcha journalism" and continuity-fixated comics fans collide ...

... You get stuff like this:

Obama Associate Made Deal with Devil!

If, like me, you’re a citizen of the United States concerned about the safety and security of your family, then you should be appalled that the President-Elect has been photographed trading pleasantries with Spider-Man. We’ve known for years, thanks to the forthright reporting of the Daily Bugle, that he’s either a threat or a menace. I know that I wasn’t persuaded to think otherwise when he unmasked at the height of the so-called “Super-Hero Civil War,” mostly because I can’t seem to remember what he looked like.

Whatever the case, it’s been rumored that this wall-crawling hazard to humanity has trafficked in the dark arts! Rumors abound on the Internet that Spider-Man made a DEAL with the DEVIL to get rid of his wife! Who knew that he was even married? But it was on the Internet, so it must be true. SPIDER-MAN: DEVIL DEAL-MAKER!

And if that’s true, what does that say about Mr. Obama? Do we want to see the leader of the free world trading Satanist Fist-Bumps in front of the entire country? I think not. America needs the leadership of stand-up men of valor. Like Norman Osborn. Get with it, Mr. Obama. Keep your freedom-loving friends close, and the Devil-Loving Masked Men far away.

This message has been paid for by Brand New Day for America.
For those who don't get the joke.
' jules
  • schmiss

McCain be mixing his Metamucil with haterade

Report: McCain ducking media to avoid questions about Palin

It’s a sore subject, apparently.
Sen. John McCain doesn’t want to talk about the presidential campaign, and he certainly doesn’t want to discuss Sarah Palin…

During a GOP-senators retreat this week at the Library of Congress, McCain told his colleagues that Republicans need to reach out more to diverse groups, rather than just relying on Christian conservatives, if they want to regain majority status, according to sources who attended the event.

[McCain] talked about the lessons he learned on the campaign trial, and the ‘discussion’ he had with the American public and what he learned from it,” said one GOP insider.

But the man who once called the media his “base” has not done TV or press interviews lately, and he won’t do so for at least several more weeks, according to his aides. He especially wants to avoid discussions about his relationship with Palin, whose nomination as McCain’s running mate was either the best or worst thing that happened to his campaign, depending on who you talk to.

What’s eating him, specifically? Does he feel overshadowed? Bored with answering questions about the backbiting? Reluctant to get dragged into her war with the media? Just had enough of the whole “hockey mom” shtick to last a lifetime? You can run but you can’t hide, Maverick! Eventually he’ll be holding a presser about some bill on the floor and the question will come: “Senator, what do you think of Governor Palin’s statement that she’s had an ‘awakening’ on immigration and now opposes a path to citizenship for illegals?” And then all the bile’s going to come pouring out. Followed by him endorsing Tim Pawlenty in 2012, natch.

Also mentioned at the Senate retreat this week: A lecture about “tone” on immigration. Of course.


I love how whenever McCain loses an election he decides to spite the Republicans as much as possible. It's great.
team science

Obama Refuses to Answer Questions About Size of His Package

‘A Personal Matter,’ Says President-elect

At a press conference in Washington today, President-elect Barack Obama repeatedly refused to answer questions about the size of his package, calling the subject "a personal matter."

Again and again, reporters attempted to get Mr. Obama to tell them exactly how big his package was, but the President-elect was steadfast in his refusal to quantify it.

"If I tell you the size of my package, some of you will think that it sounds too small, " he said. "And others will be uncomfortable with how big it is."

The President-elect seemed to indicate, however, that the size of his package may vary according to the circumstances.

"Depending on what is going on, my package could grow significantly larger," he said. "It all comes down to the amount of stimulus."

The President-elect apologized for his vagueness about his package, telling reporters, "I know you're having a hard time getting your arms around it."

Mr. Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, later indicated that the President-elect does plan on unveiling his package for the American people, probably at his inauguration.

"This will give the American people an opportunity to finally grasp his package," Mr. Emanuel said.


...must...resist..."Chief of Staff's hands-on approach" jokes...

' jules
  • schmiss


Franken And Coleman Publicly Come Together On Israel

Al Franken and Norm Coleman were able to just briefly put aside their legal fight over who actually won the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota, the Star Tribune reports, and come together on one issue: Showing support for Israel.

Both Franken and Coleman were invited speakers at a pro-Israel rally yesterday in the Twin Cities area, at which Minnesota politicians from across the political spectrum all made appearances. The two candidates even shook hands.

"You can imagine how rare it is for me to agree with everything Senator Coleman says," Franken said to laughter and applause. Then after pledging to support Israel as a U.S. Senator, Franken joked to Coleman: "That's something we might disagree on."


Groups say Israel failed to plan for the safety of Gaza civilians

Groups say Israel failed to plan for the safety of Gaza civilians

Israel's offensive in Gaza has forced as many as 90,000 Gazans to abandon their homes, and thousands more may soon have to flee in search of safety, humanitarian aid organizations said Monday.

For civilians caught in the crossfire between Hamas militants and Israel's military, however, there's no escape to safety abroad and no sure sanctuary in Gaza . Some families have had to move repeatedly to escape the violence.

In the 17 days since Israel began pummeling Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip , Mohammed al Sultan's family has moved four times, from house to house, shelter to shelter, having left all their possessions behind. Now they're among hundreds of displaced Palestinians who are sleeping in cold concrete classrooms in a schoolhouse that's serving as a temporary shelter in Gaza City .

"They have no place to hide, and no place to run," said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki -moon, who announced that he'd visit the region this week to push for a cease-fire that the U.N. Security Council has ordered but that Israel and Hamas have ignored.

Senior Israeli officials said they're close to achieving the objectives they set for the war: stopping Hamas militants from firing rockets into Israel and preventing the group from rearming itself. Relief officials and human rights groups, however, said the Israeli military failed to plan for the safety of civilians in one of the most densely populated patches of the Middle East .
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ACLU claims Catholic bishops misusing grant money

ACLU claims Catholic bishops misusing grant money

A federal lawsuit filed Monday claims Roman Catholic bishops are wrongly imposing their religious beliefs on victims of human trafficking by prohibiting grant money to be used for emergency contraception, condoms and abortion care.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the complaint in federal court in Boston against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The suit claims the agency, which distributes money to help trafficking victims, has allowed the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to limit the services its subcontractors provide. The ACLU claims the bishops' conference is misusing taxpayer money and attempting to impose its religious beliefs on trafficking victims.
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OMG the Boss!!!!

Obama Inauguration Lincoln Memorial Celebration: Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen Performing


President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration events kick off on Sunday, January 18th with a celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

Performers include Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, will.i.am, and Stevie Wonder. Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington are reading historical passages.

Reverend Gene Robinson, an openly gay bishop, will deliver the invocation prayer.

Obama will arrive at the Memorial steps after a train ride tracing Lincoln's path from Philadelphia to Washington.

"It is one of the great, patriotic symbols of our country," Presidential Inaugural Committee spokeswoman Linda Douglass said of the location. "It's a symbol of the American spirit; it's a symbol of unity; it's a symbol of our values. So for all those reasons it's an appropriate place to celebrate an inauguration that is really built around celebrating our common values as a people."

HBO will televise the event.

Source plus Off. Press Release