news you should know about

newsmongering 07/08

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> The space shuttle Atlantis is safely in orbit. The 135th shuttle mission since the program’s inception in 1981 will also be the last; the program is shut down when the shuttle lands in two weeks. Foreign Policy has an article I haven’t (yet) read about the implications of the shutdown here.

> South Sudan officially secedes from Sudan Saturday among what are euphemistically being called “tensions”; the line of demarcataion between the two nations is still contended, as is division of oil revenues and how to deal with a violent little province called Abyei. The US will drop sanctions on South Sudan on Saturday, and has pledged $300 million in aid. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, flew to Sudan yesterday to meet with Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. Mr. Bashir has an arrest warrant issued by the ICC, and Mr. Graham got a bit shirty when Foreign Policy pressed him on that issue in an interview.

There’s a lot of criminals in that part of world, okay? They are not short on criminals. You have to work with these guys. He’s the man in power. And I’m afraid if something were to happen to him, you can get somebody in power who is more radical and more dangerous than President Bashir.

The ICC has charged Bashir with seven counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of genocide.

There’s a gorgeous photo essay on the region here.

> More than half a million people have taken to the streets of Hama, Syria today; at least a thousand have fled the city, fearing governmental response. Those in the streets included US ambassador Robert Ford, who made a surprise visit to the city in express solidarity with the protestors (although one could not that Ford is unlikely to be beaten to death if detained, unlike your average Syrian citizen).

Ford intends to stay in Hama until Friday – the first day of the weekend in Syria and the day on which most of the violence of the past four months has occurred. Ford’s security convoy travelled through Syrian military checkpoints to reach Hama, and he is believed to have met residents and business owners inside the city centre.

The show of solidarity with protesters has added another dimension to the tension between Hama and the Syrian military, which seems unsure about how to deal with the long-rebellious city.

Another large rally has been planned in Hama a week after more than 200,000 people turned out for an anti-regime protest after Friday prayers. That mass show of dissent was the largest yet seen in the Syrian uprising.

The Syrian government is, ah, not happy about Ford’s impromptu field trip, calling it “obvious proof of a clear evidence of the United States’ involvement in current events in Syria and its attempt to incite an escalation in the situation, which disturbs Syria’s security and stability.” But I think it’s pretty clear to everyone involved at this point that it’s not the US disturbing “security and stability” in Syria. Foreign Policy comes to roughly the same conclusion here.

> Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh appeared on television yesterday in his first appearance since he was badly burned and shipped off to Saudi following a bombing at his palace last month. In his address, he said that protestors have “the wrong idea about democracy.” Saleh has ruled Yemen since 1978.

> Sixty people have been killed in street violence in Karachi, Pakistan, in the last three days, and the governor of the province has issued a shoot-on-sight order among security forces there.

> Gay couples can marry in New York starting Sunday, July 24, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiating the first ceremony.

> The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco (but of course) has ruled that the military needs to stop enforcing DADT, like, now. Dan Choi is pretty psyched.

> Michelle Bachmann has signed a pledge in which she promises to be “pro-family,” which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but this pledge goes…oh, let’s say it might overshoot the mark a bit. Apparently being pro-family means arguing that African Americans were better off under slavery.

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

It also promises to protect “the innocent fruits of conjugal intimacy.” I am not making this up. Seriously, I could do a full post about this if I didn’t have to leave for work.

> So-called hypoallergenic dogs will not cause less allergy symptoms than any other dog. So you may now desist a) insisting I’ll be fine because it’s a poodle, and b) looking stunned and disbelieving when I tell you that previous encounters with a bichon frise left me miserable and wheezing. So there.

Man, felt good to get that off my chest.

> Daniel Radcliffe apparently used to have an alcohol problem but has been on the wagon for almost a year. Relatedly, he sounds like a pretty chill guy to hang out with. Really, Autostraddle notes, it’s pretty much a miracle that he’s handled everything this well:

One thing that really struck me about Radcliffe’s redemption story is how different it is from so many others. Unlike, say, Lindsay Lohan, Radcliffe likely isn’t concerned over how he can maintain his clubbing schedule without indulging in the occasional cocktail. He sounds like an introvert, someone who was never really a “party person” to begin with: “I’d just rather sit at home and read, or talk to somebody that makes me laugh. There’s no shame in enjoying the quiet life. And that’s been the realization of the past few years for me.” Radcliffe makes it clear that the “party” persona was largely an act, designed to fit a certain ideal of the “Hollywood” lifestyle; when asked what he would tell his younger self, he says, “Don’t try too hard to be something you’re not.”

> Shown an early, piecemeal cut of David Fincher’s remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Daniel Craig was allegedly “completely horrified” – but not necessarily in a bad way. Apparently the film is highly…effective:

Fincher, he’s not holding back. They’ve given him free rein. He showed me some scenes recently, and my hand was over my mouth, going, ‘Are you fucking serious?’ It’s not that he simply showed me footage that was horribly graphic. It was stuff that was happening, or had happened. And somehow you don’t see it… There’s more than one way to sense violence. Much more powerful ways than seeing it step-by-step.”

So, you know, I’m excited. Here, have a trailer.


Written by whackanarwhal

July 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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