March 1st, 2009


Learning to Live With Radical Islam

We don't have to accept the stoning of criminals. But it's time to stop treating all Islamists as potential terrorists.

Pakistan's Swat valley is quiet once again. Often compared to Switzerland for its stunning landscape of mountains and meadows, Swat became a war zone over the past two years as Taliban fighters waged fierce battles against Army troops. No longer, but only because the Pakistani government has agreed to some of the militants' key demands, chiefly that Islamic courts be established in the region. Fears abound that this means women's schools will be destroyed, movies will be banned and public beheadings will become a regular occurrence.

The militants are bad people and this is bad news.
But the more difficult question is, what should we—the outside world—do about it? That we are utterly opposed to such people, and their ideas and practices, is obvious. But how exactly should we oppose them? In Pakistan and Afghanistan, we have done so in large measure by attacking them—directly with Western troops and Predator strikes, and indirectly in alliance with Pakistani and Afghan forces. Is the answer to pour in more of our troops, train more Afghan soldiers, ask that the Pakistani military deploy more battalions, and expand the Predator program to hit more of the bad guys? Perhaps—in some cases, emphatically yes—but I think it's also worth stepping back and trying to understand the phenomenon of Islamic radicalism.
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  • bispo

Huntsman takes aim at GOP

There was at least one 2012 presidential contender missing from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this weekend, traditionally a testing ground for any Republican even remotely considering a White House bid.

That could be in part because Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. risked getting booed off the stage for some of his views.

Largely under the radar of the national media and even out of sight of many in his own party, Huntsman, 48, is emerging as an articulate, unapologetic and unlikely spokesman for a new brand of Republicanism, one that seems out of vogue at a time when many in the GOP attribute their fall from power to a deviation from right-wing orthodoxy.

Huntsman thinks the party's challenge is more profound, owing less to its excessive spending practices during the Bush era than to sweeping demographic and political changes that threaten to consign
Republicans to a long-term minority status and confine their appeal to narrow sections of the country.

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biggie aretha
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Vanden Huevel rips Rove: ‘It’s laughable for you to talk about fiscal responsibility.’

Today on ABC’s This Week, Karl Rove slammed the cost of President Obama’s new budget. The Nation’s Katrina Vanden Heuvel quickly fired back at Rove’s newly-discovered sense of fiscal responsibility, observing that Rove and President Bush “helped plunge this nation into trillion dollars of debt”:


ROVE: Call me Karl.

VANDEN HEUVEL: It’s laughable for you to talk about fiscal responsibility from someone who helped plunge this nation into trillion dollars of debt, through tax cuts for the very rich and a war we never should have fought. And also starving the beast. Starving government has been a Republican role in terms of government. And, therefore, when George asks why government hasn’t functioned, people have not seen the role of government improving the conditions of their lives for decades.

Watch it:

Pollster Stan Greenberg also chided Rove. “It’s a remarkable lecture considering the performance,” he said.

After the surge, the splurge: Iraq spends $5bn rebuilding its forces

America is supplying the Iraqi armed forces with tanks, fighter jets and other high-tech weapons worth billions of dollars, in one of the biggest rearmament programmes ever seen in the region.

The Iraqi Army, Navy and Air Force are all being rearmed under the programme, which is designed to make sure that the fledgeling Government in Baghdad is able to subdue the insurgency once US troops leave. The weapons should also be enough to defend the country against hostile neighbours.

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' jules

You'll always be Secretary of Awesome to me, bb.

Dean Talks About Not Getting HHS And Post-DNC Plans

(taken from dean_daily)

Having been bypassed for a cabinet post after leaving the DNC, former Gov. Howard Dean has chosen to pursue a multi-faceted career in health care advocacy, progressive political strategy, speeches, education and energy, and even election monitoring.

The Vermont Democrat, whose supporters were hoping to see him end up as Secretary of Health and Human Services, summed up his plans this way: "It is sort of outside government but doing the things that I want to do anyway."

Buoyed by the opportunity to tackle so many different projects, Dean nevertheless didn't hide the fact that his preference was to serve in the Obama administration. "I was pretty clear that I would have liked to have been Secretary of HHS but it is the president's choice and he decided to go in a different direction," he said. As for the person who got the HHS nod over him - Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas - he said: "I think she will be very good. She is a very nice person and I think she will be fine."

Despite spending four years deep in the trenches of political warfare, Dean won't be winding down. In a phone interview with the Huffington Post he listed seven full-to-part-time gigs that he has lined up for the months and years ahead. Chief among them would be to renew his work with Democracy for America, the organization that he founded to build on the grassroots success of his presidential campaign.

"I'll be most interested in their health care stuff," he said. "Not only pushing for a health care bill but for one with meaningful reform."

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    The Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)

Remembering a coup d'état in Haiti

By Roger Annis

This February 28, Haitians will observe an important anniversary in the 205-year history of their country. But it won’t be a celebration. There will be protests across the country condemning events five years ago that continue to reverberate.

On February 29, 2004, Haiti’s popular and elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown by a right-wing paramilitary rebellion that received essential material and political backing from the United States, France, and Canada and from the neighbouring Dominican Republic. An apparatus of the UN Security Council, known by its acronym, MINUSTAH, has played a dominant role in the affairs of the country ever since.
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U.S. rattled as Mexico drug war bleeds over border


Hit men dressed in fake police tactical gear burst into a home in Phoenix, rake it with gunfire and execute a man.

Armed kidnappers snatch victims from cars and even a local shopping mall across the Phoenix valley for ransom, turning the sun-baked city into the "kidnap capital" of the United States.

Violence of this kind is common in Mexico where drug cartel abductions and executions are a daily feature of a raging drug war that claimed 6,000 lives south of the border last year.

But U.S. authorities now fear that violent crime is beginning to bleed over the porous Mexico border and take hold here.

"The fight in Mexico is about domination of the smuggling corridors and those corridors don't stop at the border," Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said.
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Bree Gun

VA attorney general says state can purge gay employees

I got a press release yesterday from a man suing the Virginia Museum of Natural History because they fired him for being gay. Instead of arguing that they didn't fire him for being gay, they're saying that there's no employment protections in that state based on sexual orientation.

While the state legislature has resisted passing any kind of employment protections for LGBT people, Governor Tim Kaine wrote an executive order protecting state employees, which would include people who work at the state museums. But the state attorney general has just filed a non-binding opinion that the governor doesn't have the authority to protect GLB folks by executive order:

"Sexual orientation is not a protected classification under either state or federal law. Attempts to make sexual orientation a protected category under the Virginia Human Rights Act have been continually and consistently rejected by the Virginia General Assembly. The only source of protection for this classification is provided by the Governor's Executive Order #1, which by itself, does not provide a cause of action.

Are they really making the argument that the governor can't determine the hiring practices for the state government?

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You might remember that Bill Clinton issued a similar executive order to provide protections for sexual orientation within the federal government. There was a similar problem there, since, without Congressional action on nondiscrimination, fired employees couldn't file a claim with the EEOC:

Second, sexual orientation is not covered by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which means, as Clinton noted in his statement, that the executive order "cannot create any new enforcement rights," such as the ability to bring bias complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In other words, without ENDA, Clinton's word were just words.

But what they were supposed to do was to get agencies that didn't end discrimination based on sexual orientation to start doing so:

Rob Sadler, an attorney with the Department of Commerce and president of Federal GLOBE (Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees), said that, even though Gay federal workers still lacked civil rights protection, the executive order has "more than symbolic" significance.

While many agencies have announced nondiscrimination policies that include Gays, Sadler said, the executive order will be "another impetus" to get laggard agencies to issue similar statements. Also, he said, the order will spur many agencies to publicize the previously "hidden procedures" available to Gays to complain about discrimination.

It seems like Clinton didn't have the authority to create the new protections through executive order, even for the federal employees. So while the legal system in Virginia might be different, it's looking like this person isn't going to be able to get his suit through.

Meanwhile, the Museum of Natural History should be ashamed of itself, trying to protect its right to fire people based on sexual orientation. Why not just stop the hate instead?


Do Poor Whites Even Exist?

This post’s title is a rhetorical question. Of course poor whites exist, but not that you’d know so if you’re informed by the mainstream media. While Ronald Reagan was successful in painting urban black women as “welfare queens”, whites receive nearly 2/3 of all welfare benefits administered by the federal government. Still, Shaniqua Jackson, not Samantha McMullen, is the face of American poverty.

Last Friday’s edition of ABC’s 20/20 tried to shed some light on the woes of dirt poor rural white Americans, a group of folks so routinely (and IMHO, intentionally) ignored they’re damn near considered invisible. And while A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains is a fairly nuanced portrait of life in the hills of Kentucky, it both informs and pisses off at the same time.


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el borracho

MGMT vs Sarko, round 2

MGMT 'insulted' by €1 offer from Sarkozy's party

U.S. indie band MGMT has threatened to sue French President Nicolas Sarkozy's party for repeatedly using one if its hit songs without permission, unless the band is fully compensated for its use.

The Union pour un Mouvement Populaire party paid a standard €53 fee ($75.54 Cdn.) to France's music licensing body, but MGMT's lawyer Isabelle Wekstein says that this was not enough to cover subsequent uses of the song, particularly on the Web.

The party has admitted to using the popular track, Kids, at its national congress in January, in two online videos and in political advertisements. But it claims this was an unintentional mistake and offered the band a symbolic €1 ($1.43 Cdn.) for copyright infringement.

Wekstein has rejected the offer, calling it insulting.

"This offer is disrespectful of the rights of artists and authors. It is insulting," she told Agence France-Presse. "We are dealing with acts of counterfeiting, an infringement of intellectual property."

Ironically, the UMP has been pushing for tougher laws against those who infringe musicians' copyright.

"It seems that those who led the charge against Internet users are not the most respectful of copyright," Wekstein told Le Monde.

She has asked for full financial compensation, failing which she intends to sue the UMP.

Xavier Bertrant, the UMP's new secretary general, has promised that the band will be paid.

The controversy comes a week before the UMP will present new legislation carrying stricter penalties for online piracy and filesharing to France's national assembly (lulz!)

maple syrup flavoured sauce
  • eyots

WTF were they thinking??

O’Reilly to speak at fundraising event for rape victims.

News Hounds points out that on March 19, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is slated to speak at a fundraiser for the Alexa Foundation, a group committed to supporting rape survivors:


In the past, however, O’Reilly has made controversial comments about an 18-year-old woman, Jennifer Moore, who was raped and murdered, implying that it was partially her fault. O’Reilly called her “moronic,” adding:

O'REILLY: So anyway, these two girls come in from the suburbs and they get bombed, and their car is towed because they're moronic girls and, you know, they don't have a car. So they're standing there in the middle of the night with no car. And then they separate because they're drunk. They separate, which you never do. All right.

Now Moore, Jennifer Moore, 18, on her way to college. She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at two in the morning. She’s walking by herself on the West Side Highway, and she gets picked up by a thug. All right. Now she’s out of her mind, drunk.

Source 1
Source 2

If you're as upset about this as I am, please email and let them know.

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    Joshua Bell, Philharmonia Orchestra/Joshua Bell, Philharmonia Orchestra - 05 - I. Cremona, The Red V

The Burden of Being An Intelligent Woman

Gail Trimble has recently been called an "annoying bitch" and a "horse-toothed snob." And why is she the target of such vitriol? Because she dared to show off her brilliant mind on national television.

Trimble, 26, appeared on the British tv quiz show "University Challenge," and consistently blew the other contestants away, Ken Jennings-style, with her ability to answer nearly every question on the board. She led her team, from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, to victory by scoring nearly 2/3 of their points, and has been called "the brainiest woman on British television."

Yet some viewers find Trimble's intelligence annoying, dubbing her "cocky," "smug," and, as India Knight of the Times of London notes: "brain-rupturingly irritating." Her brain isn't the only thing viewers seem to be interested in, as her looks have also gone up for debate: "I'm glad that people are being nice about me rather than nasty," Trimble says, "but... I very much think this would not be happening if I was a man. People would not feel it necessary to comment on my looks so much."


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  • bispo

New Yorker: Taking The Job

A politician ascending to the pinnacle of American power receives custody of the Presidency and its powers on January 20th, but he becomes President over time, through a testing procession of civic rituals and occurrences planned and unplanned: his announcement of candidacy; his acquisition and acceptance of his party’s nomination; his campaign debate appearances; his electoral mandate; his Cabinet and staff choices; his Inaugural; his first full-scale news conference; his first trip overseas on Air Force One; his first crisis in office. Barack Obama—whose first crisis took hold before his election and dwarfs any of his predecessors’ since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s, which it chillingly resembles—performed another of those rituals last week. In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama took full possession of his job and his role.

For an hour, Obama spoke with a measured urgency that occasionally overrode even the customary bobbings up and down of the Speaker, the Vice-President, and the audience. (Congressional standing ovations: America’s answer to North Korean calisthenics.) The President began by casting the crisis in human terms (“the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope”), offering reassurance (“America will emerge stronger than before”), reviewing the immediate goals of the economic-stimulus bill he had signed a week earlier, and explaining why the government’s hugely expensive effort to re-start the flow of credit is an absolute necessity (“It’s not about helping banks, it’s about helping people”). He then sketched the outlines of a program for change as ambitious as any President has proposed since this one was a toddler: first, a new energy economy, based on a surge of public investment in renewable technologies and including, crucially, a cap on carbon pollution; second, the long-postponed comprehensive reform of our health-care system, aimed not only at bringing “quality, affordable health care to every American” but also at lightening its burden on American business; and, third, an expansion of educational quality and opportunity such that “every child has access to a complete and competitive education, from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.”

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