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newsmongering 02/23

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> Foreign Policy’s Passport blog has an exasperated review of last night’s Arizona debates. Over at HuffPo, Bill Maher quipped:

My favorite moment of the debate was the last question, when they all were asked to summarize themselves in one word: Ron Paul said “consistency,” and you know what? I have no argument with that. It’s true, and he’s earned it. The other ones however, I think I could find a more honest word. Mitt Romney said “resolute.” I would have gone with “shapeshifter.” Or perhaps “irresolute.” Rick Santorum said “courage” , whereas I would have said “Bellevue.” And Newt Gingrich said “cheerful.” I was thinking “pus.”

> Protests in Afghanistan have hit their third day after some number of Korans (I’ve seen anywhere from four to fifteen) were damaged in a “accidental burning” on Tuesday (apparently they were inadvertently placed in an incinerator? What is this I don’t even…). Anyway, at least something like six Afghans have been killed and fiftysomething have been wounded, and at least one NATO officer has been killed. Members of the Afghan parliament have called for military action against American forces, referring to them as “invaders” (which…is kind of true?), and the Taliban has called on Afghans to take up arms against foreign troops and Afghan security forces. President Obama issued an apology today, following the one released by NATO commanding general in Afghanistan John R. Allen, who vowed to make sure every NATO soldier is trained in the proper handling of religious texts. Which I’m sure will help.

> A wave of violence in Iraq has killed 55 people in predominantly Shia areas.

> Tanks entered the Syrian city of Homs today on the twentieth day of heavy artillery shelling of the city. Eighty people were killed in the siege yesterday. Foreign Policy has a somewhat surreal piece on Homs’ status as the longtime butt of Syrian jokes and a photo diary of the siege.

> The “somewhat official” Iranian news agency Fars is reporting that the wife of a slain nuclear scientist has announced that her husband’s goal was the eradication of Israel. So that’s great.

> The President of Abkhazia, Aleksandr Ankvab, survived an assassination attempt on Wednesday. (For those of you who were wondering, Abkhazia is not in Oz; it’s a little Russia-backed breakaway enclave about the size of a high school gymnasium sandwiched between Georgia and the Black Sea recognized by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu).

> An estimated 130,000 people took part in a combination march/stadium rally in support of Vladimir Putin yesterday.

Speaking just over a week before a presidential election he is expected to win, Putin called on people “not to betray the motherland” and repeated his by now familiar promise of pledging to protect Russia from foreign interference.

“We are the defenders of our homeland,” Putin told the crowd. “We will not let anyone interfere in our internal affairs … We are a nation that wins. This is in our genes.”

There’s some evidence that participation might have been purchased, but. Well. Russia.

“I came here with friends. They said they would pay each of us 2,000 roubles (43 pounds),” said a 21-year-old man who gave his name only as Alexander and said he and his friends had been bussed into Moscow from outside the city.

“If I had a choice I would vote for (nationalist Vladimir) Zhirinovsky, but our voices don’t count.”

> The former leader of the Catholic church in the UK, Rev. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, has suggested that perhaps Christians should stop claiming that they’re being persecuted.

> A federal judge has ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional.

A judge on Wednesday declared the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and ordered the federal government to ignore the statute and provide health benefits to the wife of a lesbian federal court employee.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White was the first since the Obama administration announced a year ago that it would no longer defend a law it considers discriminatory and reflective of a long history of denying equal rights to gays and lesbians.

…”The court finds that DOMA, as applied to Ms. Golinski, violates her right to equal protection of the law … without substantial justification or rational basis,” wrote White, who was named to the federal bench a decade ago by President George W. Bush.

> JK Rowling has announced that she’s publishing a novel for grown-ups! (Which is hilarious, because by most measures, I think I theoretically qualify as a grown-up by this point, and I reread Harry Potter all the time.) (Also, did anyone else’s brains trick them into thinking that Rowling was publishing an adult novel? …No? Okay, just me, then)


Written by whackanarwhal

February 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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