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newsmongering 06/13

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> Belgium has had no government for a year now, making them the nation to go the longest without one (they bested Iraq’s record of 298 days in February). Technically things can continue this way until the next federal election in 2014. Whooo Belgium!

> Reporting on the Arab Spring in Morocco, Foreign Policy notes that not one regime in the region has yet managed to introduce reforms that actually produce enough change to meaningfully satisfy protestors – but Morocco’s King Mohammed VI might yet be able to. The King allowed protests to occur unimpeded, and in March, appeared on TV to promise reforms that, if actually implemented, would significantly reduce royal authority while strengthening the parliament.

In his March 9 speech, the king promised “comprehensive reforms.” The prime minister would henceforth be chosen by the winning party, not by the palace. The parliament would gain “new powers that enable it to discharge its representative, legislative, and regulatory mission.” The judiciary, currently run by the Judicial Supreme Council under the control of the king, would be granted “the status of an independent power.” New mechanisms would be established to strengthen political parties, now widely deemed moribund. And the king announced that he was impaneling a committee of legal scholars to produce a draft constitution not by some remote future date, but by June.

The question now, of course, is to what extent the promises will be kept, and how.

Of course, what was once touted as the new generation in the Arab world, whether the young kings of Jordan and Morocco or second-generation autocrats like Bashar al-Assad of Syria, have almost always disappointed the hopes they’ve raised. Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, says, “Mohammed has promised substantive reforms time and again, and has always portrayed himself as a modernizing reformer and democratizer. But he’s never lived up to that; it’s been largely cosmetic.” Hamid sees the king’s speech as more of the same.

> Similarly, Jordan’s King Abdullah II has promised to relinquish is right to appoint ministers and cabinets – at some unspecified point in the future. He was also either greeted by thrown stones and bottles or a warm community welcome when visiting the town of Tafila on Monday; government spokespeople have indicated that the reports of attack were misconstrued accounts of youth bowling other members of the crowd over in their eagerness to meet the monarch. Uh huh.

> Opposition leaders in Yemen are allegedly meeting with representatives of the vice president to discuss a transfer of power within a transitional period.

In Monday’s meeting, they discussed the transfer of power and the need to expand the truce brokered by Saudi Arabia in Sanaa to the rest of the country to help end the violence in the country.

They also discussed ways to ensure that people continue to receive food supplies and basic services.

But ruling party members and Saleh’s relatives dismissed any deal on the future of the country in the absence of the president.

It was the first meeting between the vice president and the opposition since Saleh left the country for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, following an attack on his compound earlier this month.

> Syrian state TV is reporting that security forces have “retaken” Jisr al-Shughur. There are widespread reports of mutinies within the military, and I’m not seeing current casualty counts (32 dead as of two days ago), but 10,ooo are reported to have fled to the surrounding countryside, and 5,051 have crossed the Turkish border.

> The Gay Girl in Damascus is an American holidaying in Turkey. Talk about appropriation. And this could have immense harm for bloggers who actually are in harm’s way: “One day if I’m kidnapped by my government, many readers won’t care because I could turn out to be another Amina,” wrote one Lebanese blogger.

> Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been re-elected to his third term as Turkey’s prime minister. Although the AKP, Erdoğan’s party, fell short of the 330 parliamentary seats it would need in order to create a new constitution without consulting the other parties, Erdoğan maintains that a new constitution will be crafted “through consensus.” However, the CHP, Turkey’s primary opposition party, notably increased its parliamentary presence, which will undoubtedly force the AKP to make some concessions it’d rather not make.

> Christchurch, New Zealand was hit by two earthquakes yesterday, registering 5.5 and 6.0 on the Richter scale respectively. Forty injuries have been reported. Dear Pacific Rim: feel free to calm down a bit? Love, me.

> Also, Fiji has invaded New Zealand, if by ‘invaded’ we mean ‘landed some navy boats on a disputed atoll.’ I had no idea lines of demarcation in the South Pacific were so contentious.

> Foreign Policy has a summer reading list! *pounce*

> Anthony Weiner is taking a short leave of absence from Congress and is seeking treatment “to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person.” And the ever-excellent Michael has a really, really good treatise on Weinergate, and why he’s not condemning Weiner specifically:

Whoever sent the picture to Cordova via tweet from @RepWeiner’s account was sexually harassing her in doing so; although I suspect that Weiner did not actually send the tweet, I have no sufficiently conclusive evidence that someone else did (except perhaps the Cannonfire blogpost, though some people obviously think that’s not sufficient, including the author of the Maddow Blog post I linked, which was updated to say it was “purely academic”, so eh). Which is to say I won’t say you’re wrong wrong wrong if you accept that he did send it, even though I suspect he didn’t. (“Whoever sent” has the advantage of being correct regardless of whoever “whoever” was.)

 TL;DR: Andrew Breitbart is a cretin and a known liar, and if the only evidence I have to condemn someone comes ultimately from him, I’m not going to condemn the person (at least not specifically).

> A Tennessee GOP lawmaker has (perhaps not noting the irony) compared defunding Planned Parenthood with making out with the prettiest girl at prom. Um.

“We had to kiss a lot of ugly girls at the prom, but we took the pretty one home,” said Campfield. “As long as we got what I was looking for, which was defunding Planned Parenthood, I’m willing to let it drop.”

Yeah, but you’d better hope that pretty one kept her legs shut, or else you’re going to be paying child support for life. Particularly now that she can’t get an abortion. Or a pap smear. Or even prenatal care. On the upside, if she didn’t, you can call her a slut and condemn her on national TV, and your peers seem to have a lot of fun with that.

> Androcentrism is the new sexism – the preference for the masculine over the feminine rather than explicitly male over female.

> The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, VA decided to run up a rainbow flag on June 1st in recognition of Pride Month. Apparently this signaled the beginning of the apocalypse; according to some authorities, Gay and lesbian “behavior…undermines the American economy, shortens lives, adds significantly to illness, increases health costs, promotes venereal diseases,” and invites Satan to feast upon the earth. Or something.

Just saying, three words to save the economy: gay bridal registry.

> When real life and The X-Files collide: a tiny village in England is reporting experiencing a phenomenon known as “the hum” – a throbbing, permeating noise similar to an idling car persistently audible between midnight and four a.m. for months. This not a new occurrence – Bristol in the 1970’s, over a thousand residents complained of headaches, sleeplessness, and nosebleeds before the noise vanished as mysteriously as it appeared. (X-Philes may remember the episode where Bryan Cranston’s head explodes.)

> Flash mob kicks off Pride Week in Pittsburgh!

> Speaking of pride, mobs, and flashing, the Canadian sent me this really excellent Lady Gaga melody by some kids at her school. It’s fantastic.

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Written by whackanarwhal

June 13, 2011 at 10:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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