news you should know about

newsmongering 07/28

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>Stuart, my favorite Kiwi, linked to this Onion article on Facebook this morning (tomorrow night for him): “Congress Continues Debate Over Whether Nation Should Be Economically Ruined“.

“It is a question that, I think, is worthy of serious consideration: Should we take steps to avoid a crippling, decades-long depression that would lead to disastrous consequences on a worldwide scale? Or should we not do that?” asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), adding that arguments could be made for both sides…

Stuart’s comment was, “What an odd country you live in lol,” which is possibly the best description of the situation that I’ve seen so far.

> The Somalian al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab has arrested 30 women for not wearing the veil properly. This could be considered a rather moderate move; in 2009, the group arrested and whipped women for wearing bras, which are apparently forbidden on the grounds that they’re “deceptive”; if breasts looked “too firm,” women were “inspected” (read: strip searched) to see if the firmness was fake. If it was, residents were ordered to remove the bra and shake their breasts. Because of course bras could only be worn to deceive – not because they’re, you know, comfortable or anything. Under al Shabaab, anything un-Islamist is outlawed; previously, they has included mustaches, the World Cup, and dancing at weddings. Samosas have apparently been added to the list, as the savory pastry’s triangular shape has been deemed too closed to a Christian cross. Relatedly, the first wave of UN relief aid has arrived in Mogadishu – ten tonnes of it – with9,000 African Union troops defending the food and those trying to reach it from al Shabaab attacks. At least four people have been killed as thousands of refugees arrived in the city amidst heavy fighting. Somalian Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali has stated that the delivered food will not enough and has accused the UN of deliberately withholding aid. The World Food Programme has denied these allegations.

> New estimates place the death total in Syria at 1,600, with an estimated 3,000 missing and 26,000 in detention. At least eleven people were killed in a town outside Damascus yesterday, and an estimated 300 were arrested. Activists estimate that one person is seized every hour by Syrian security forces.

Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri has released a statement praising Syria’s protestors, portraying the uprising as an Islamist battle against American and Israeli interests. This rather makes him sound as delusional as Assad.

> BBC reporter Ahmad Omid Khpolwak was killed in an insurgence in Afghanistan that killed at least 16 other people.

> At least 35 people have been killed in a downpour and associated flooding in South Korea.

> It is steadily becoming more difficult to be a journalist in Turkey.

“Before they shot you; now they shut you down,” said Ramazan Pelegöz, Istanbul-based news coordinator of the Kurdish Dicle news agency.  He said reporters and photographers are often arrested covering protests and demonstrations in the Kurdish region; they are also denied access to government and security forces officials and information.

It’s ironic that as the AKP consolidates its grip on power it should risk tarnishing its image among the Western democracies that it wants to join by curbing press freedom. Erdogan is popular among many ordinary Turks who have seen living standards rise. His party took more than 50 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections last month for a third term, capping a referendum victory six months earlier on constitutional reform. Turkey’s supporters in the EU hoped these popular endorsements would accelerate the accession process but just this month the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Thomas Hammarberg, called Turkey out on its media freedom record in a critical report.

“There is really an authoritarian, totalitarian government now in Turkey in terms of freedom of speech and human rights,” said communications professor Esra Arsan, of Istanbul Bilgi University. But people don’t seem bothered by this, she laments. “These are good economic times.”

> More than half a million Ivorian refugees have refused to return to Cote d’Ivoire, stating fear of ethnic reprisals. Post-election violence in the spring killed over 3,000 people and displaced nearly a million,

> In a statement to reporters, Norweigan Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed his nation’s commitment to “an open, democratic, inclusive society.” Norway has launched an inquiry to investigate (and presumably adjust) police actions immediately following the attacks. The EU has announced a war on extremism, which somehow sounds like a contradiction in terms, but some far-right politicians in Europe have praised the attacks, calling perpetrator Anders Breivik “an icon” and “in defense of Western civilization.”

I haven’t fully read it yet – out the door, sorry – but Salon’s Glenn Greenwald had a discussion of the Norweigan response to terror and how it’s not really anything like the American response to terror, and how possibly we should take a look at their approach, because it’s decidedly more sane.

The reaction to the heinous Oslo attack by Norway’s political class has been exactly the opposite: a steadfast refusal to succumb to hysteria and a security-über-alles mentality.  The day after the attack — one which, per capita, was as significant for Norway as 9/11 was for the U.S. — Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang, when asked whether greater security measures were needed, sternly rejected that notion:  “I don’t think security can solve problems. We need to teach greater respect.”  It is simply inconceivable that any significant U.S. politician — the day after an attack of that magnitude — would publicly reject calls for greater security measures.

> Tensions continue to rise in Kosovo; Serbian arsonists torched a border crossing last night, and a Kosovo police officer was shot and killed in an exchange of fire with Serbian civilians on Tuesday. Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008, a move Serbia refuses to recognize.

> Following meetings in Washington, Russian NATO ambassador Dmitry Rogozin referred to American senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) as “radicals” and “monsters of the Cold War” and warned that the US/Russian relationship would collapse if Republicans returned to power in the US.

“Today in the Senate, I met with Senators Jon Kyl and Mark Kirk. The meeting is very useful because it shows that the alternative to Barack Obama is a collapse of all the programs of cooperation with Russia,” he said. “Today, I had the impression that I was transported in a time machine back several decades, and in front of me sat two monsters of the Cold War, who looked at me not through pupils, but targeting sights.”

Rogozin also warned that Russia cannot afford to deepen its ties with the United States given the GOP’s current position, because doing so would put its security at risk if the Republicans came back to power.


> A week ago, House Republicans advanced a bill that would slash foreign aid and payments to the UN. The bill would remove $6.4 billion from Obama’s $51 billion budget request for foreign policy, and:

The committee’s measure mandates that security assistance be provided to Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority only if the Obama adminstration certified that no members of terrorist organizations or their sympathizers were serving in their governments.

…Among other Republican priorities, the bill also would reinstate the “Mexico City” rule, which would eliminate federal funding for any non-governmental group that offered abortion counseling overseas.

In a statement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blasted the bill’s “onerous restrictions”, argued that it “would be debilitating to my efforts to carry out a considered foreign policy and diplomacy, and to use foreign assistance strategically to that end,” and promised a veto should it clear the Senate.

> A Planned Parenthood outside Dallas was hit by a molotov cocktail last night. The incendiary device apparently bounced off the door and detonated harmlessly on the sidewalk.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: plenty – plenty – of pregnant women seeking prenatal care go to Planned Parenthoods. Attempting to damage those buildings threatens the life and health of pregnant women and their children who patronize those clinics.

> So in 2003, after Rick “Crazypants” Santorum compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, columnist Dan Savage googlebombed the man, effectively redefining the term “santorum” into something decided sexually explicit (google it on your own to see what it means now). Savage has now released a video promising that if Santorum continues to attack gays and lesbians in his 2012 election bid, Savage will expand the “google problem” to include “rick,” too.

> Should you believe that Facebook is the best medium in which to announce your pregnancy, you now have the ability to do so.

> Apparently Cowboys & Aliens isn’t terribly good? Quelle surprise! I’m crushed. And will probably see it anyway.


Written by whackanarwhal

July 28, 2011 at 10:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. “Today, I had the impression that I was transported in a time machine back several decades, and in front of me sat two monsters of the Cold War, who looked at me not through pupils, but targeting sights.”



    July 28, 2011 at 10:50 am

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