whackanarwhal

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newsmongering 07/15 (the “not enough people believe in crumple-horned snorkacks” edition)

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> Looking forward to welcoming my favorite Hungarian at the airport tonight!

> No, I didn’t make it to the theater last night. I did rent Deathly Hallows Part 1, but switched it off two-thirds of the way through because it was two in the morning and I theoretically was going to get stuff done before going to work at noon. I think this is what being grown up is like. Can’t say I’m a fan.

> Speaking of growing up, or rather not, Foreign Policy has a totally ridiculous, utterly awesome piece titled “Send the Hill to Hogwarts: 10 reasons why Washington should take a page from Harry Potter.”

8. Not Enough People Who Believe in Crumple-Horned Snorkacks
We need more Luna Lovegoods in Washington. She’s not a slave to conventional wisdom. She thinks outside the box. She’s got guts. She finds solutions where other people only see problems and take actions when others are only worried about how they will look to others. (It’s also worth noting that her father’s publication, The Quibbler could be the last newspaper left in Britain if Rupert Voldemort’s empire keeps collapsing.)

> Twelve protesters were killed in the largest protests Syria has seen yet yesterday, bringing the estimated civilian death toll in the country to over 1,400. French and American sanctions against the country are expected to expand to include oil and gas within the next few days. Previously, assets of top government officials have been frozen and travel bans have prevented such officials from traveling outside Syria, an act that Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed Mualem stated was “equal to war.”

> NATO leadership is meeting in Istanbul today to discuss the next phase of action against Libya. The US has recognized the Libyan rebels as the legitimate authority in the country as France pushes for a negotiated settlement with Qaddafi. Turkey is aiming for a settlement to be reached in time for Ramadan, which starts in August.

> So it turns out that China is working on developing a missile tellingly known as a “carrier-killer” with a maximum range of 2,700 kilometers – about twice as far as analysts had predicted. China is attempting to reassure the world that it’s a defensive weapon only, which makes one wonder who they’re expecting to go to war with.

> Thirteen Turkish soldiers were killed by PKK operatives in Diyarbakır yesterday. Meanwhile, the pro-Kurdish group DTK has announced the formation of a breakaway Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey following a conference of 850 representatives from Kurdish groups.

> Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has denied any responsibility for the killing of protestors in February, explaining that “Our people and our security are like that.”

> George Clooney’s Satellite Sentinel Project has released images of piles of bodies and mass graves in Kadugli, South Kordofan, Sudan, calling it “a campaign of systematic mass killing of civilians.” According to the BBC, “The spokesman for the Sudanese Armed Forces, Colonel Khalid Sawarmi, told the BBC this was not true, and civilians hadn’t been killed inside Kadugli.”

> Lev, being awesome, linked me to this editorial from an Israeli newspaper on the anti-boycott bill in Israel:

..for example, if we say something like: We can understand why reasonable people could advocate a boycott of products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank because those settlements are deemed illegal under international law and because a boycott is a peaceful way of expressing a moral concern — well, if we say something like that, we could be sued and held liable in civil court. And that court could award financial recompense to the plaintiff not according to actual damage done to his income if, for instance, we suggested that people refrain from buying his oranges or his facial cream, but according to what he thinks he might lose in the future.

Unpack this for a moment. We didn’t boycott, we just expressed sympathy in a way that could be seen as advocacy without taking the leap from speech to action. We didn’t target a product manufactured in Tel Aviv or Hadera or within the undisputed borders of Israel, or in any way seek to delegitimize the state. We surely didn’t advocate violence or express a destructive opinion about Israel or its government and leaders.

We simply said that promoting a boycott of goods from the occupied West Bank could be a legitimate form of political protest by those who love Israel and therefore wish to see her survive as a democratic Jewish state with borders that allow for a viable Palestinian state next door.

But it could get us in trouble.

Which is why we have stricken the potentially offending words. Just in case.

> Days after handing off the rotating EU presidency to Poland, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has moved ahead with a law that has been described as “taking a lawn mower to the media”:

At the same time that Hungary’s EU presidency was drawing to a close, Orbán and his governing party started moving forward with the controversial media law that triggered massive criticism outside Hungary at the beginning of the year. The main thrust of this has been a massive wave of layoffs of people in state-run media organizations.

The scale of these layoffs is unprecedented; by fall, nearly a third of these 3,400 employees will be jobless. In recent days, 550 editors, reporters and technicians have received pink slips. This includes entire bureaus and editorial staffs, such as the entire corps of parliamentary correspondents at public television broadcaster MTV. The layoffs aren’t just affecting those who are openly critical of Orbán’s government. Indeed, their victims also include many prominent and award-winning journalists whose coverage of domestic and foreign policies enjoys a reputation for its high quality and balanced perspective.

These layoffs have been in the works for a while. The official rationale is that cost-cutting and reforming an “obsolete, inefficient and nontransparent media system” are necessary. Indeed, there’s no denying that Hungary’s public radio and TV broadcasters have made restructuring inevitable by amassing millions in debt. But, even so, opposition politicians are still describing the move as a “systematic political purge” of the state-run media. “The government is firing anyone who doesn’t work in line with its directives,” says Attila Mesterházy, chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP).

> In an editorial published Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal (inadvertently?) called for war with Iran. Um. Well, what was specifically said was that “We ought to go after the militias in Iraq as well as their backers in Iran who’ve decided to make Iraq a proxy war,” but show of hands if you think that’s a tad vague and possibly ill-advised.

> GOP 2012 candidate and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain is calling the end of plans to construct a mosque in Tennessee. His reasoning is…opaque. At best.

“It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion,” he said. “And I don’t agree with what’s happening, because this isn’t an innocent mosque.” …

“It is another example of why I believe in American laws and American courts,” Cain said. “This is just another way to try to gradually sneak Shariah law into our laws, and I absolutely object to that.”

I’m trying to figure out what an “innocent mosque” would look like. Drawing blanks at present. Possibly it would be invisible?

Because Kateri is awesome, she did some digging and discovered that the first group that filed against the mosque’s use of the land contested that the mosque couldn’t use the land for religious purposes because Islam is not a religion. Um.

> It’s expensive to eat healthy in the US.

In this chapter of that larger tragicomedy, lawmakers whose campaigns are underwritten by agribusinesses have used billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize those agribusinesses’ specific commodities (corn, soybeans, wheat, etc.) that are the key ingredients of unhealthy food. Not surprisingly, the subsidies have manufactured a price inequality that helps junk food undersell nutritious-but-unsubsidized foodstuffs like fruits and vegetables. The end result is that recession-battered consumers are increasingly forced by economic circumstance to “choose” the lower-priced junk food that their taxes support.

Corn — which is processed into the junk-food staple corn syrup and which feeds the livestock that produce meat — exemplifies the scheme.

“Over the past decade, the federal government has poured more than $50 billion into the corn industry, keeping prices for the crop … artificially low,” reports Time magazine. “That’s why McDonald’s can sell you a Big Mac, fries and a Coke for around $5 — a bargain.”

…A country that can engineer the seemingly unattainable economics of a $5 McDonald’s feast certainly has the capacity to produce a healthy meal for the same price. It’s just a matter of will — or won’t.

According to playspent, 15% of Americans have had a hard time buying food in the last year.

> Californian Governor Brown has signed into effect a law requiring public schools to include LGBTetc. and disabled peoples in their history curriculum.

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Written by whackanarwhal

July 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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