September 5th, 2009

Progress in Afghanistan

The Afghan Phoenix

Peter Bergen
AC360° Contributor
CNN National Security Analyst

The first surprise is Kabul airport. The new terminal — “a gift of the people of Japan” — appears to have been airlifted in from a small American city; light-filled, modern and staffed by young men in uniforms of khaki pants and blue shirts who politely answer travelers’ questions as they direct traffic through the quiet, marble halls of the terminal.

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Afghanistan making significant progress in mine clearance, reports UN official

More than 38,000 anti-personnel mines have been cleared in the past six months across Afghanistan – one of the most heavily mined countries in the world – representing 10 per cent of the total number cleared in the past 18 years, a senior United Nations official said today.
Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, and more than four million Afghans are living in mine-contaminated areas.

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Marinara sauce.
Alfredo sauce.

Protect the planet! OR I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU! >:3

A group cited by U.S. officials as a domestic terrorism threat claimed responsibility Friday for knocking down two radio station towers in Snohomish County, Washington.

The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) issued a statement saying opponents of the towers argue that "AM radio waves cause adverse health effects including a higher rate of cancer, harm to wildlife, and that the signals have been interfering with home phone and intercom lines."

"When all legal channels of opposition have been exhausted, concerned citizens have to take action into their own hands to protect life and the planet," Jason Crawford, a spokesman for the group, said in a news release.

Members of ELF have been sentenced for acts of domestic terrorism in the past.

Though no one is known to have been killed in ELF attacks, the government defines domestic terrorism as use or threatened use of violence by a domestic group "against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives," the FBI's then-domestic terrorism chief, James F. Jarboe, explained in congressional testimony in 2002.

The towers belong to radio station KRKO. "There's quite a bit of destruction to the antenna system and it will probably take at least three months to get it back up and operational again," station manager Andy Skotdal told CNN affiliate KIRO, adding that much of it was "flattened like a pancake."

The station remained on the air by using a backup transmitter site, he said.

KRKO is working with authorities to find those responsible, Skotdal said, adding, "We'll use our own airwaves to do it."

The perpetrators stole an excavating machine out of a yard in order to knock down the towers, Skotdal said.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said the Seattle office of the FBI is the lead investigative agency in the incident. Officials at the FBI office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Snohomish County is just north of Seattle. The attack took place in an unincorporated part of the county, officials said.

In its news release, the ELF describes itself as "an international underground organization that uses direct action in the form of economic sabotage to stop the systematic exploitation and destruction of the planet. Since its inception in North America in 1996, the ELF has inflicted well over $150 million in damages to corporations and governmental agencies that are profiting from the destruction of the Earth."

Source watches too much Robot Chicken.

Teenage Jobless Rate Reaches Record High

Pity the unemployed, but pity especially the young and unemployed.

This August, the teenage unemployment rate — that is, the percentage of teenagers who wanted a job who could not find one — was 25.5 percent, its highest level since the government began keeping track of such statistics in 1948. Likewise, the percentage of teenagers over all who were working was at its lowest level in recorded history.

“There are an amazing number of kids out there looking for work,” said Andrew M. Sum, an economics professor at Northeastern University. “And given that unemployment is a lagging indicator, and young people’s unemployment even lags behind the rest of unemployment, we’re going to see a lot of kids of out work for a long, long, long, long time.”

Recessions disproportionately hurt America’s youngest and most inexperienced workers, who are often the first to be laid off and the last to be rehired. Jobs for youth also never recovered after the last recession, in 2001.

But this August found more than a quarter of the teenagers in the job market unable to find work, an unemployment rate nearly three times that of the nonteenage population (9 percent), and nearly four times that of workers over 55 (6.8 percent, also a record high for that age group). An estimated 1.64 million people ages 16-19 were unemployed.

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What Obama will say in his address



President Barack Obama plans to reach out to Republicans and reassure — rather than confront — his liberal supporters when he addresses an extraordinary joint session of Congress at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday.

But he will warn lawmakers against seeking a perfect plan and then winding up doing nothing, as happened to the last Democratic president back in 1994.

The high-stake speech makes sense because Obama is such a gifted orator. But it is also risky because if poll numbers on health-care reform don’t improve after he speaks, it will be clear that the problem isn’t in the packaging, but in the proposal itself.

The contents of the speech were still being debated over the weekend. But here is what POLTIICO gleaned from conversations with top aides:

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(no subject)

Students must learn about other religions: judge

Parents say new course threatens Christian faith

Graeme Hamilton,  National Post 

MONTREAL -- Christian parents who objected to their children being taught about other religions in a mandatory new Quebec school course have suffered a serious setback with a ruling this week that the teachings do not infringe their religious freedoms.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Jean-Guy Dubois dismissed a bid by parents in Drummondville, Que., who said the course on ethics and religious culture introduced across the province last year was undermining their efforts to instill Christian faith in their children.


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' jules
  • schmiss

Hearts in my eyes :D

Brown to White House: "Congress is Writing the Bill, the President's Not"

Despite several indications that the White House will ultimately not go to bat for a public option, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) says he's seen no signs that the White House will change course--but if they do, he's not budging.

"I know that the White House is debating it internally," Brown said in an interview with TPMDC. "But Congress is writing the bill, the President's not."

"The White House should not take progressives for granted," an animated Brown told me. "It's not just the conservatives he needs to be in the fold. It's the progressives who've been in the vineyards fighting for reform for years."

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Charlie Brooker on James Murdoch and his media empire

At last weekend's Edinburgh TV festival, the annual MacTaggart Lecture was delivered by Niles Crane from Frasier, played with eerie precision by James Murdoch. His speech attacked the BBC, moaned about Ofcom and likened the British television industry to The Addams Family. It went down like a turd in a casserole.

Still, the Addams Family reference will have been well-considered because James knows a thing or two about horror households: he's the son of Rupert Murdoch, which makes him the closest thing the media has to Damien from The Omen.

That's a fatuous comparison, obviously. Damien Thorn, offspring of Satan, was educated at Yale before inheriting a global business conglomerate at a shockingly young age and using it to hypnotise millions in a demonic bid to hasten Armageddon. James Murdoch's story is quite different. He went to Harvard.

Above all, Murdoch's speech was a call for the BBC's online news service to be curbed, scaled back, deleted, depleted, dragged to the wastebasket, and so on, because according to him, the dispersal of such free "state-sponsored" news on the internet threatens the future of other journalistic outlets. Particularly those provided by News International, which wants to start charging for the online versions of its papers.

Yes Thorn - I mean, Murdoch - refers to the BBC as "state-sponsored media", because that makes it sound bad (although not quite as bad as "Satan-sponsored media", admittedly). He evoked the goverment's control of the media in Orwell's 1984, and claimed that only commercial news organisations were truly capable of producing "independent news coverage that challenges the consensus".

I guess that's what the News Of The World does when it challenges the consensus view that personal voicemails should remain personal, or that concealing a video camera in a woman's private home bathroom is sick and creepy (it magically becomes acceptable when she's Kerry Katona).

Another great example of independent consensus-challenging news coverage is America's Fox News network, home of bellicose human snail Bill O'Reilly and blubbering blubberball Glenn Beck. Beck - who has the sort of rubbery, chucklesome face that should ideally be either a) cast as the goonish sidekick in a bad frat house sex comedy or b) painted on a toilet bowl so you could shit directly on to it - has become famous for crying live on air, indulging in paranoid conspiracy theorising, and labelling Obama a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or white culture".

As a news source, Fox is about as plausible and useful as an episode of Thundercats. Still, at least by hiring Beck, they've genuinely challenged the stuffy consensus notion that people should only really be given their own show on a major news channel if they're sane.

The trouble is, once you've gasped or chuckled over the YouTube clips of his most demented excesses, he's actually incredibly boring: a fat clown with one protracted trick. His show consists of an hour of screechy, hectoring bullshit: a pudgy middle-aged right-winger sobbing into his shirt about how powerless he feels. It's an incredible performance, but it belongs in some kind of zoo, not on a news channel. But that's the Murdoch way.

Now there's a lengthy, valid, and boring debate to be had about the scope and suitability of some of the BBC's ambitions but, quite frankly, if their news website (a thing of beauty and a national treasure) helps us stave off the arrival of the likes of Beck - even tangentially, even only for another few years until the Tories take over and begin stealthily dismantling the Beeb while a self-interested press loudly eggs them on - then it deserves to be cherished and applauded.

To finish his speech, Murdoch claimed, "The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit." Or to put it another way: greed is good.

Then he clopped off stage on his cloven hooves, guffing out a hot cloud of sulphur as he left.

Charlie Brooker's screen burn (The Guardian)
I love this man.<3
MLP Rainbow Dash nahnah

Because Beck's had too much attention recenetly

O'Reilly Encouraged An Obama Address To Schoolchildren
By Jason Linkins

Yesterday, I ran down the myriad ways that the conservative fringe are agogging and aghasting at the prospect of President Barack Obama speaking to children and encouraging them to do their homework and not drop out of school, which is precisely the way Karl Marx suggested the a proletariat paradise could be achieved. You'd think that a president had never addressed America's children before. And you'd think that no one had ever previously imagined that President Obama might attempt to impart some inspirational advice to America's kids. But, if you thought that, you'd be wrong! In fact, as one emailer reminded me yesterday, at the beginning of August, one prominent media figure openly advocated for Obama to address America's children. That figure? Fox News's Bill O'Reilly.

In the August 9 Parade Magazine, O'Reilly had a column titled "What President Obama Can Teach America's Kids." This being Parade, it is about as anodyne as an opinion column can be. But, leaving that aside, O'Reilly's piece is a thoughtful and sentimental take on how the experiences Obama had lived could translate into lessons that children could benefit from -- things like "forgiveness" and "persistence." One of O'Reilly's suggestions reads as follows:

A child does not go from taking English lessons in Indonesia to editing the Harvard Law Review without doing some tough work. The President earned his present job by performing in school and, later, in his various jobs. He was smart enough to lay a foundation for success. Early on as a kid, he understood the big picture.

"Barack Obama loves his work," Saunders says. "And this is a great example for children. They must understand that work is very important and will ultimately define their lives."

One can't help but notice how neatly this proposal dovetails with the content of Obama's planned Tuesday address, which the White House is making publicly available on Monday. And I'd have to think that O'Reilly would likely defend the idea of Obama making this address, having encouraged it. Unfortunately, when the O'Reilly Factor took up the matter Wednesday night, the show was under the stewardship of Laura Ingraham, who refused to accept any premise other than the most absurd and diabolical, turning loose Monica Crowley to call the planned address "surreal" and "Orwellian." Meanwhile, Alan Colmes registered quiet and unobtrusive objections.

^Image included because it was creepy then, and it's still creepy now.

White House Discloses All Agency Waivers

By Anna Palmer
Roll Call Staff
Sept. 4, 2009, 6:07 p.m.

The White House publicly disclosed Friday on its blog all of the ethics waivers that the administration has granted for federal agencies besides the White House.

Three of the 10 waivers were granted to individuals in the Justice Department regarding the internal inquiry into the government’s case against former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

Attorney General Eric Holder, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer were given waivers to be able to review the materials and be involved in the decision-making process for how the department will resolve the internal inquiry.

After dismissing the charges against Stevens, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Emmet Sullivan appointed a special counsel to investigate and prosecute six DOJ lawyers who handled the U.S. v. Stevens case.

A conflict arose because the law firms where the three previously worked are representing DOJ lawyers under investigation by the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

Holder and Breuer formerly worked at Covington & Burling. Ogden previously worked at WilmerHale.

DOJ Designated Agency Ethics Official Lee Lofthus wrote that the three would need to be familiar with the individual cases in this circumstance in order to come to an adequate resolution.

“This is highly unusual, and raises jurisdictional issues, and questions concerning the authority of the special counsel and the proper relationship between OPR’s investigation and that of special counsel,” Lofthus wrote in Holder’s waiver. “In order for you to be fully advised on the issues and facts as they arise, to enable you to make the legal, policy and strategic decisions necessary for the Department, you must be able to participate and freely receive information and advice on any and all of the individual investigations.”

The White House’s move comes after it was lobbied by public interest groups to provide information in a central clearing house.

Waivers were also given for, among others, Naomi Walker, associate deputy secretary at the Department of Labor, to work on matters involving her former employee, the AFL-CIO; and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ashton Carter to deal with Textron Inc., to which Carter had previously provided strategic consulting advice.

The administration has been careful to limit the number of lobbying waivers after it received criticism for granting a waiver to William Lynn. Appointed to the No. 2 post at the Pentagon, Lynn was formerly senior vice president for government operations and strategy at defense contractor Raytheon Co. and was a registered lobbyist until July 2008.

Gay Abortions!
  • markslj


En la reunión popular de la ciudad de Norwalk, el obispo Emilio Alvarez le pregunta al representante Jim Himes (CT-04) sobre la asistencia sanitaria. El público le abucheó. ¿Por qué? Porque lo preguntó... EN ESPANOL.

One of these things is not like the others...

Catholic League president Bill Donohue’s new book, Secular Sabotage: How Liberals Are Destroying Religion and Culture in America, is now in bookstores. Additionally, it can be ordered online at several book outlets. For $20, including shipping and handling, it can be ordered from the Catholic League: go to for information.

Here is what some are saying about the book:

· “In these dispatches from the culture war, the indefatigable president of the Catholic League fires on all cylinders. With passionate prose he re-creates many of his hard-won religious battles and offers an urgent warning about what lies ahead.” – Raymond Arroyo, bestselling author of Mother Angelica, host of EWTN’s “The World Over Live”

· “In this bracing, brutal exposé of the anti-God movement, Donohue delivers a common sense smackdown that is both informative and entertaining.” – Laura Ingraham, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and bestselling author

· “Like the man himself, the book is feisty, controversial, impassioned, and important.” – Michael Medved, nationally syndicated talk show host

· “Bill Donohue is right on target. Every Christian needs to read his book.” – Donald E. Wildmon, founder and chairman, American Family Association

· “SECULAR SABOTAGE is an absolute must-read for anyone who believes the Judeo-Christian ethos is the very heart and soul of civilized society.” – L. Brent Bozell III, president, Media Research Center

· “Wake up, America! The secular minority has cut the brake cables on America’s In-God-We-Trust-Mobile™! Not even all 43 of our Christian presidents can save us now.” – Stephen Colbert, host of “The Colbert Report”