April 12th, 2009

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US Embassy Officials Strand BBC Reporter In Remote Afghanistan

One-way flight to Afghan outback

The day started badly with a rabid policeman waving his Kalashnikov menacingly at us, screaming "where's your card - get back!".

My mistake had been, foolishly, to try to drive to the front-gate of the American Embassy where we had been invited to go on a press trip.

But fortress Kabul has become addicted to security - rather like those bodybuilders who cannot stop pumping iron and popping pills until they resemble some hideously bulging comic book villain.

The city keeps building ever more layers of barbed wire, blast walls, checkpoints, guns and angry policemen.


The US and the rest of Nato keep telling us how the security situation in the capital has improved.

But they are unwilling to practice the confidence they preach.

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LOLitics | BAMF

Joe Biden's half-hour interview with CNN: a 3-parter.

This is the entirety of the U.S. Veep's interview on the Situation Room last week, with Wolfe Blitzer and Gloria Berger. An informative interview overall with great tough questions answered with thorough replies.

I made a broad breakdown of the topics under the cut.

Bonus must-hear: note the cheeky remark Biden makes in the last 5 seconds of part III, just as the camera cuts out.

Part I:


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Part I:
- on drawing down in Iraq
- on North Korea's test
- on inheriting the war in Afghanistan
- on semantics: the "Global War On Terror", renamed?

Part II:
- on Obama admin's objective in Afghanistan
- on the state of U.S. national security
- on the economy: the auto industry/bank bailouts
- on Cheney running his mouth about Obama

Part III:
- on Israel under its new government
- the economy: job losses vs. rebounds
- Biden answers 2 "iReport" questions
- on what's most surprising about being VP
- on getting to pitch at Orioles' opening game
biggie aretha
  • bispo

Dobson concedes that the far right has ‘lost’ the culture war.

james-dobson
In a farewell address to the staff of Focus on the Family, James Dobson conceded that evangelical conservatives had lost most of the recent so-called “culture war” battles. Attributing the right’s recent failures to the “internet” and the election of Bill Clinton, Dobson said, “Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost.” He added that the nation is now “absolutely awash in evil“:
The battles that we fought in the Eighties now, we were victorious in many of those conflicts with the culture, trying to defend righteousness, trying to defend the unborn child, trying to preserve the dignity of the family and the definition of marriage. We fought all those battles and really it was a holding action. […]
[W]e made a lot of progress through the Eighties but then we turned into the Nineties and the internet came along and a new president came along and all of that went away and now we are absolutely awash in evil. And we are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?
Steve Benen writes, “[W]hether Dobson and his cohorts give up now or not, his assessment about their lack of success is nevertheless accurate.”
source
' jules

I think Bernanke is a pretty cool guy, eh cuts interest rates and doesn't afraid of recession

An unlikely revolutionary, Bernanke draws kudos, ire



Every six weeks or so, around a giant mahogany table in an ornate room overlooking the National Mall, 16 people, one after another, give their take on how the U.S. economy is doing and what they, the leaders of the Federal Reserve, want to do about it.

Then there's a coffee break. While most of the policymakers make small talk in the hallway, their chairman, Ben Bernanke, pops into his office next-door and types out a few lines on his computer.

When the Federal Open Market Committee reconvenes, Bernanke speaks from the notes he printed moments earlier. "Here's what I think I heard," he'll say, before running through the range of views. He sometimes articulates the views of dissenters more persuasively than they did.

"Did I get it right?" he says.

The answer, in recent months, has been a resounding yes. And Bernanke's ability to understand and synthesize the views of his colleagues goes a long way toward explaining how he has revolutionized the Federal Reserve, which under his leadership has deployed trillions of dollars to try to contain the worst economic downturn in 80 years.

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As a non-academic, the Federal Reserve is pretty mysterious and fascinating. too bad its hard to read about online w/o running into the "ZEITGEIST 9/11 NWO JEWS" crowd. Anyway some of this article is encouraging and some of it isn't, but hey that's life.
Obama
  • bispo

Captain jumps overboard, SEALs shoot pirates, official says

(CNN) -- The American captain of a cargo ship held hostage by pirates jumped overboard from the lifeboat where he was being held, and U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed three of his four captors, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation.

Capt. Richard Phillips was helped out of the water off the Somali coast and is uninjured and in good condition, the official said. He was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, a nearby naval warship.

At the time of the shootings, the fourth pirate was aboard the Bainbridge negotiating with officials, the source said. That pirate was taken into custody.

Maersk Line Limited, owner of the cargo ship that Phillips captained, issued a statement saying it was informed at 1:30 p.m. by the U.S. government that he had been rescued. John Reinhart, president and CEO, called Phillips' wife, Andrea, to tell her the good news.

Crew members from the ship, the Maersk Alabama, were "jubilant" when they received word, the statement says.

"We are all absolutely thrilled to learn that Richard is safe and will be re-united with his family," Reinhart said. "Maersk Line Limited is deeply grateful to the Navy, the FBI and so many others for their tireless efforts to secure Richard's freedom."
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Is FOX News the new Comedy Central?

Fox's Glenn Beck announces comedy tour


NEW YORK – Glenn Beck, Fox News Channel's latest sensation, is taking a comedy show on the road for six live performances over six days during the first week of June.

Beck calls his act a "poor man's Seinfeld" and intends to mix topical humor with his modern-day reimagining of Thomas Paine's 1776 pamphlet "Common Sense."

The radio and TV talk show host will start June 1 in Denver, then perform in theaters in Phoenix, San Diego, Kansas City, Houston and Richmond, Va., over the next five days, he said.

Beck has done such live performances in the past, most recently during the downtime between his departure from CNN's HLN network and joining Fox's schedule in January.

His profile has increased exponentially since then, with his 5 p.m. show nearly doubling Fox's ratings in the time slot. He's become a favorite target for Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert to lampoon, and been criticized by liberals for over-the-top criticisms of President Barack Obama.

"I couldn't have guessed this success at Fox," Beck said. "We would never have put money down on the table that we would have had this kind of success."

Since he began doing live performances in 2004, Beck has appeared before more than 100,000 fans.

The live shows give him the chance to see firsthand what sort of themes are resonating among his regular followers, Beck said. For the first time during his most recent tour, there seemed to be no regional differences in the concerns that his fans expressed, he said.

"I learn something from the audience," he said. "I know my thoughts but I can see their reaction to things."

Source



Carrie fan

You Are Being Lied to About Pirates

Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy - backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China - is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labeling as "one of the great menace of our times" have an extraordinary story to tell -- and some justice on their side.

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source

kinda old, but before everyone ~rejoices at the death~ of 3 pirate kidnappers CONTEXT, Y0
music | sleigh anne.

#amazonfail



If you're a twitter user, you may have noticed that #amazonfail is the top trending topic for today. Here's the basic gist of it:

Amazon seems to be stripping the sales figures and accompanying rankings from GLBTQ books, erotica, and romance novels, particularly those with what they term “adult content” thus preventing them from showing up in some bestseller lists and searches (and potentially directly damaging their sales), on the grounds that they are "adult" material.

(This is regardless of whether they contain any explicit sex. Meanwhile, books with explicit heterosexual sex scenes retain their sales rank, as long as they're not overtly marketed as "erotica".)

A quick search reveals that books that have had their sales ranks removed include James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story, Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, and Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.

When pressed for a reason, Amazon.com’s customer service department told YA author (and LJ user markprobst) Mark Probst:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.

Best regards,

Ashlyn D
Member Services
Amazon.com Advantage


Probst went on to say:

Yes, it is true. Amazon admits they are indeed stripping the sales ranking indicators for what they deem to be “adult” material. Of course they are being hypocritical because there is a multitude of “adult” literature out there that is still being ranked – Harold Robbins, Jackie Collins, come on! They are using categories THEY set up (gay and lesbian) to now target these books as somehow offensive.

[...] if they are excluding books just on the basis of being “gay” then by all means exclude mine too because I don’t want them just to reinstate just the “nice” gay books, they need to reinstate all the gay books and if they are really going to try and exclude so-called “adult” material, then how come this has an Amazon ranking?


Compiled from various sources including here, here, here

http://community.livejournal.com/meta_writer/11992.html -- a list of books so far that have been removed
http://booksquare.com/open-letter-to-amazon-regarding-recent-policy-changes/ -- an open letter to amazon
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/in-protest-at-amazons-new-adult-policy -- sign the protest

http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23amazonfail -- at least 100 tweets every minute
http://wthashtag.com/wiki/Amazonfail -- keep an eye on this too

ETA
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is running a Google Bomb. They say:

I’ve created a page with the definition for “amazon rank.” LINK TO http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/amazonrank with “Amazon Rank” as the anchor text. The link should look like this:

Amazon Rank
-----
ETA2 The current top results for amazon searches on "homosexuality" are:
  • A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality
  • Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality, Revised and Expanded Edition: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church
  • For the Bible Tells Me So
  • Can Homosexuality Be Healed?

    ....oh
  • home movies
    • bispo

    Update: General amasses Facebook following


    WASHINGTON (CNN) – It did not take long for Facebook users to respond to U.S. General Ray Odierno’s Sunday appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.

    In less than seven hours, Odierno has increased the number of “supporters” connected to his new Facebook page by more than a factor of ten.

    When his CNN interview initially aired Sunday morning, Odierno had roughly 70 followers on the social networking site and by Sunday afternoon, the general has nearly 900.

    The U.S. military commander in Iraq told CNN’s John King that he was excited about using the site to get the word out about what American troops are accomplishing.

    “I think it’s important that people can reach out and ask questions,” Odierno said of his new Facebook page. “Maybe [I can] educate them a little bit more on what’s going on here in Iraq and get to know us a little bit better.”

    “This is new for me. This is new ground so we’ll see how it goes. But I’m actually pretty excited about it.”
    source

    "Richard Who?" indeed

     
    Burr has 'Richard Who?' woes.
     
     
     

    Dems think Burr may be vulnerable

    The GOP senator says organizations have painted a bull's-eye on the backs of N.C. Republicans.

    By Rob Christensen, Staff Writer
    RALEIGH - Republican Sen. Richard Burr says he has little doubt that this is the calm before the storm and that next year North Carolina once again will be the focus of a national battle for control of the U.S Senate."With the bull's-eye that organizations have put on North Carolina Republicans' backs, there is going to be more money spent in North Carolina than anybody can ever fathom in the next election cycle," he says.
    Two statewide polls show Burr's approval rating in the mid-30 percent range, regarded as a dangerously low number for an incumbent.
    That's why Democrats, fresh off defeating Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole last November, are now looking to bump off Burr in November 2010 and gain a filibuster-proof Senate for President Barack Obama.
    Burr spent last week's Easter recess traveling across North Carolina, trying to raise his visibility.
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    rhambo
    • bispo

    Give-and-Take With Emanuel Advances President's Agenda

    Lawmakers Respond to Improved Access to White House

    As the House and Senate debated the budget earlier this month, Rahm Emanuel's spacious West Wing office took on the feel of a legislative bazaar.

    Wavering Democrats filed in individually and in groups seeking audiences with President Obama's pugnacious chief of staff, all bearing concerns about the 2010 fiscal blueprint. For some, the issue was farm payments. For others, veterans benefits. Fiscal conservatives balked at the $1.2 trillion deficit. One House member wanted to discuss a new federal building in his district. Another sought an appointment with the commerce secretary.

    Forty-six lawmakers beat a path to the White House, and, on April 2, Emanuel's hospitality paid off. All but three of his visitors voted in the House or Senate for a $3.5 trillion blueprint that preserved Obama's ambitious domestic policy goals. The 233 to 196 House margin represented the largest budget victory for either party in a decade.

    Emanuel's theatrical style, ballet training and "Rahmbo" nickname, along with the well-worn story about a dead fish he sent to a rival, are duly noted on his Wikipedia page. But in his new job, Emanuel is overhauling his image, becoming more valet than hit man, and his formula for moving Obama's agenda through Congress is beginning to resonate. Even Republicans concede that given Obama's early victories, thornier tasks such as landmark health-care, energy and education bills may not be out of reach.

    One admirer is Rep. Peter T. King, a New York Republican who got to know Emanuel during his House days. "There's a consensus among Republicans who can be objective that the president did a good thing in picking Rahm," King said. "He's tough, and he's really not that partisan. He doesn't think he's morally superior to Republicans, and that alone will get you far in this environment."


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    source: WaPo