Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sasha Abramsky lies on Obama and language.

Politics: Obama did put his foot in his mouth over this not because it is wrong that people should learn a second language but his condescending tone and weak dismissal over America having English as an official language.

A few days ago, Barack Obama suggested that it would be a good idea if more American students learned foreign languages. Obama wasn't being a Smart Alec here. He wasn't saying: "Look at me. Look at how many languages I speak." Quite the reverse. Obama has acknowledged he is practically monolingual, and he has said he wished he were more proficient at other languages. In essence, all he said was it would be a good thing if more Americans could do what my Portuguese hosts did – answer questions in words not of their native tongue.

The response launched by anti-immigration groups and senior figures within the Republican party was nothing short of culturally catastrophic. Groups such as Americans for Legal Immigration declared he was saying native-born Americans should be forced to learn Spanish. On television, Rudy Giuliani seemed to suggest Obama's words were simply designed to appeal to European anti-Americanism, a conspiratorial attempt to boost the Democrat's already sky-high poll numbers on the global stage.

This is politics at its most stupid. And it reconfirms my sense that America is at a crossroads. Will the country embrace a politics of ignorance come November? Or will voters realise that if America is to regain its sense of purpose and prosperity it has to embrace smarter ideas, educate its people properly and engage with – instead of be afraid of – the world, peoples and cultures beyond its borders?

Even open borders Oppenheimer was intellectually honest enough to point out Obama's speech.

Speaking in Georgia on July 8, Obama said in response to a question on bilingualism, ''We live in a global economy. And, you know, I don't understand when people are going around worrying about, 'We need to have English-only.' They want to pass a law, 'We want English-only.'

''Now I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But understand this: Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English - they'll learn English - you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language.''

Obama added, "It's embarrassing when Europeans come over here; they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say is 'Merci beaucoup.' Right?''

That is what made people pissed off. He deliberately merges two different subjects. Americans should learn a second language in schools or in general. But to say Americans need to learn Spanish while airily dismissing the notion that immigrants learn English as some sort of hideous wrong got him in trouble.

China bans black people and Mongolians from bars?

Olympics: Well this is racist.

Bar owners near the Workers' Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises.

"Uniformed Public Security Bureau officers came into the bar recently and told me not to serve black people or Mongolians," said the co-owner of a western-style bar, who asked not to be named.

More from the Globe and Mail.

BEIJING -- Chinese police officials have forced some Beijing bar owners to sign secret pledges promising to prohibit blacks from entering their bars during the Olympics next month, a Hong Kong newspaper says.

The police denied the report yesterday, and most bars denied any knowledge of the pledges. But many African residents of Beijing say they are facing harassment from police and discrimination from bars as the Olympics approach.

"Bar owners near the Workers Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises," the South China Morning Post reported yesterday.

It quoted the co-owner of a bar who said that a group of police had recently visited his establishment to order it "not to serve black people or Mongolians."

In the famed Sanlitun bar district of Beijing, some bar owners have been required to sign pledges agreeing to ban a variety of activities, including dancing and serving black customers, the newspaper said.

Africans and Mongolians are often perceived as criminals in Beijing. Until this year, a number of young African men were openly selling drugs in the Sanlitun district, and many Mongolian women were working as prostitutes in the city.

Both groups are among the targets of China's security crackdown in the lead-up to the Olympics, along with thousands of Tibetans, Uyghurs, migrant workers, petitioners and social activists who are seen as potential troublemakers or protesters.

In a notorious incident last September, dozens of black people were detained by police in a raid on bars in the Sanlitun district.

Witnesses said the police rounded up all the black people they could find, up to three dozen in total, and beat some of them with rubber truncheons.

Grenada's ambassador to China filed a complaint to the Foreign Ministry, saying that his son suffered a concussion and needed hospital treatment after he was clubbed on the head by police during the raid.

Spiegel airbrush Maliki interview for Obama?

Iraq: Curious. Talking about a timetable, we have this tidbit pointed out by three sites so far.

Who could blame President Bush or Sen. John McCain for privately fuming right about now since Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has just delivered a big gift with a bow on top to Sen. Barack Obama by embracing his 16-months timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq.

Maliki said as much in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel. Here is the relevant excerpt:

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned. US presidential candidate Barack Obama is right when he talks about 16 months. Assuming that positive developments continue, this is about the same time period that corresponds to our wishes.

SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?

Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business. But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited.

Now check out Spiegel online interview.

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

'As Soon as Possible'

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.

SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?

Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business. But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited.

Now the liberal Tribune blogger Frank James has this glowing piece, as does the Hill and Hot Air. When was this changed and why by Spiegel. I know Spiegel is anti-American and anti-conservative but this looks like the worst kind of journalistic malpractice to make news.

Update: Maliki says Spiegel is full of it.

A German magazine quoted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as saying that he backed a proposal by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq within 16 months.

"U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months," he said in an interview with Der Spiegel that was released Saturday.

"That, we think, would be the right time frame for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes," he said.

But a spokesman for al-Maliki said his remarks "were misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately."

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements, echoing statements that the White House made Friday after a meeting between al-Maliki and U.S. President Bush.

The prime minister's remarks emerged as Obama visited Kuwait and Afghanistan before embarking on a tour of the Middle East and Europe to boost his foreign policy credentials. He also plans to visit Iraq.

The Democratic candidate says he supports a phased withdrawal of troops, promising to remove all combat brigades from Iraq within 16 months of taking office if he becomes president.

McCain does not think American troops should return to the United States until Iraqi forces are capable of maintaining a safe, democratic state.

He has been a strong advocate of the 2007 "surge" to escalate U.S. troop levels and says troops should stay in Iraq as long as needed.

McCain says Obama is wrong for opposing the increased troop presence, and Obama says McCain's judgment is flawed.

Update#2 Spiegel stands by their story but doesn't say anything about the changed quote. They also bolster their defense by quoting every liberal commentator they can find.

A number of media outlets likewise professed to being confused by the statement from Maliki's office. The New York Times pointed out that al-Dabbagh's statement "did not address a specific error."

CBS likewise expressed disbelief pointing out that Maliki mentions a timeframe for withdrawal three times in the interview and then asks, "how likely is it that SPIEGEL mistranslated three separate comments? Matthew Yglesias, a blogger for the Atlantic Monthly, was astonished by "how little effort was made" to make the Baghdad denial convincing. And the influential blog IraqSlogger also pointed out the lack of specifics in the government statement.

BTW, when they say "CBS" they actually mean liberal blogger Kevin Drum. Not exactly the main news division.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Riviera Beach now can enforce 'saggy pants' law

Culture: This is another part of modern culture that needs to go away. How anyone can think wearing saggy pants is fashionable is beyond me. You look ridiculous and an embarrassment.

Argentine Senate rejects farm export tax.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez got slammed by her own party and vice president over this stupid tax.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez suffered a stunning defeat on Thursday when the Senate rejected a tax increase on soy exports that sparked months of anti-government protests.

In a cliffhanger vote, Fernandez's own vice president, Julio Cobos, broke ranks and cast the deciding ballot against the government after nearly 18 hours of debate in the upper house, where the ruling party's majority evaporated.
"This is the most difficult day of my life," said an exhausted-looking Cobos at 4:30 a.m. local time when he had to vote to break a tie in the Senate, over which he presides. "But I can't support (this bill). The president will understand."

Cobos is a member of a bloc from the opposition Radical party that backs the ruling Peronist party. Fernandez tapped him as her running mate last year in a bid to demonstrate broad political support for her candidacy.

But he has clashed with Fernandez over her handling of the long-running farm conflict, calling for compromise whereas she refused to back down on the controversial tax measure.
Fernandez took power in December after easily winning a presidential election, but her approval ratings have since plunged amid Argentina's worst political crisis in six years.

Note to the View: Nigger and Niggas are not terms of endearment.

Culture: Hot Air has the video and Newsbusters has the transcript. Elisabeth Hasselbeck has her naive moments on the show and this time she walked right into the self righteousness of Whoopi Goldberg over Jesse Jackson use of the word niggas on tape.

Elizabeth who as nice as she is just not equipped with the rage needed to slap back the stupid our world view argument or Sherri Sheppard who couldn't spell cat if you spotted her "CA."

WALTERS: Is it-- and what you’re saying– is it okay for black comics primarily, like yourself when you do an act and so forth, is it okay then to use as it is still done and not okay for white people? Is that the case?

SHEPHERD: Yeah I, I have no problem with them using it. It’s something that means something way different to me than it does to you. I grew up with my family using it. It– for me, I can use it as a term of endearment.

WALTERS: But if I used it...

SHEPHERD: I don’t want to hear it come out of your mouth.

HASSELBECK: Look, I’m not saying I won’t explain to my daughter how to talk about words. I grew up in a household where we didn’t say- I’m half Polish and half Italian. If somebody said to me "you’re a dumb Pollack," it offended me. I never made fun of myself saying, you’re, you’re that word. I’m a this. I never would go into my own heritage and use a phrase that is used against me in the privacy of my own home because I think it perpetuates stereotypes and hate.

GOLDBERG: You have to understand [bleeped out] word that has followed us around, and basically what we did is we took it out the hands of people that were using it and put it into our hands and we use it the way we want to use it and that’s the way it is.

So we get to the double standards and the moronic we took it back argument which is like someone saying they took back ownership of a STD. Both versions in the post title has never been and never will be terms of endearment. They are hate words used to describe a race in derogatory terms to make them less than human.

There is no positive saying these words, they are meant to disparage and make a clear point what you think that person is in your eyes.

It is a disgrace to hear people in public use it towards each other and shows a lack of class/values and morals from that person. That two black people on national television tries to justify the usage as a positive is ridiculous and shows a warped way of thinking.

Texas tells World court to go screw.

Crime: Texas is an awesome state.

Despite pleas from the White House and the State Department, as well as an international court order to review their cases, Texas will execute five Mexicans on death row, a spokeswoman for the governor said Thursday.

The first of the executions — that of José Ernesto Medellín, 33, convicted in the 1993 rape and murder of two teenage girls here — is scheduled for Aug. 5.

The decision by Gov. Rick Perry to allow the executions is the latest twist in a long-running battle between Mexico, which has no death penalty, and the United States over the fate of 51 Mexicans facing capital punishment in several states, including 14 in Texas.

On Wednesday, the International Court of Justice at The Hague ordered a review of five of the Texas cases after Mexico complained that the convicts, all men, had not been allowed a chance to talk to a Mexican consul after their arrests, as required under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

But that argument holds little sway in Texas, a place with a long history of upholding the death penalty and of telling other governments to mind their own business.

“This ruling doesn’t change anything,” said Mr. Perry’s spokeswoman, Allison Castle. “This is an individual who brutally gang-raped and murdered two teenage women. We don’t really care where you are from; you can’t do that to our citizens.”

The ruling went further than a 2004 decision by the international court, which again sided with Mexico, ordering a review of all 51 cases to determine if a consul’s intervention might have changed the outcome.

Cop fired over going Vic Mackey on a Starbucks

Crime: As a South Florida resident, this would be some drug dealer or city official getting this speech, but in North Florida its over coffee...

Not only did employees complain about Garvin's demands for free passion tea and coffee laced with white chocolate mocha syrup, but they also said Garvin would come into the store and bypass other customers standing in line and expect to be served first.

"Always . . . always would go to the front of the line," Cato told Daytona Beach police investigators who questioned her about Garvin's behavior. "And (he) would expect us to be able to read his mind and put the coffee down in front of him."

In one particular exchange between Cato and Garvin, the manager claims the lieutenant said: "I've been coming here for years and I've been getting whatever I want and I'm the difference between you getting a two-minute response time -- if you needed a little help -- or a 15-minute response time."

Chicago gets offer of National Guard and Troopers to fight crime.

Crime: When did Chicago turn into the Nuevo Laredo of America where this becomes a serious offer?

The Chicago Tribune says Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich offered yesterday to send state troopers and National Guard helicopters to help patrol the streets of Chicago during a time of "out of control" crime.

"I think we, those of us at state level, need to offer a helping hand, need to do something to help the mayor get his hands around this uncontrolled violence that's taking hold of some communities in the city of Chicago," the governor says, according to the local CBS affiliate. "We're going to see what we could plausibly offer to the city of Chicago to be helpful to do what we can to stop the gun violence and stop the violence," the governor adds.

The Chicago Sun-Times says Blagojevich, a Democrat, may establish an "elite tactical team" that focuses on bringing down a crime rate that has hit "epidemic proportions."

City officials appeared to be lukewarm to the idea, saying that they only learned about it through the news media.

"We're obviously not going to turn away help on a front as important as this," Jacquelyn Heard, a spokeswoman for Mayor Richard Daley, tells the Tribune. "At the same time, we're a little puzzled about how it would work. It's unprecedented."

Obama whines about criticism of Michelle Obama.

Politics: Black Jesus losing his cool over the fact someone dares says anything critical of someone with the last name of Obama.

GLAMOUR: An AP poll shows that while the positive ratings on Michelle are higher than those of Cindy McCain, her negative ratings are higher as well. I’m curious about how as a husband that makes you feel. Does it mystify you? And what do you want to say to those Americans who don’t know the woman that you know?

SENATOR OBAMA: It’s infuriating, but it’s not surprising, because let’s face it: What happened was that the conservative press—Fox News and the National Review and columnists of every ilk—went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way…and treated her as the candidate in a way that you just rarely see the Democrats try to do against Republicans. And I’ve said this before: I would never have my campaign engage in a concerted effort to make Cindy McCain an issue, and I would not expect the Democratic National Committee or people who were allied with me to do it. Because essentially, spouses are civilians. They didn’t sign up for this. They’re supporting their spouse. So it took a toll.

As soon as your spouse puts his or her toes in the political arena championing your policies and for the first time being proud of America she is going to get called on it. There is no free pass in politics. If you don't like the criticism, don't put her out there making speeches which people find insulting.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Warcraft : Wrath of the Lich King beta is out.

Gaming: MMO Champion has on going details.

No beta download for me so far. But now I am getting hyped.

Denver to put homeless in movie theaters for DNC convention.

Politics: How..humane.

Hundreds of Denver's homeless could be cooling their heels in a movie theater or museum while the Democratic National Convention is in town next month.

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless plans to get 500 movie tickets as well as passes to the Denver Zoo, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and other cultural facilities for the people it helps.

Bus tickets will be provided for events beyond walking distance, said John Parvensky, the nonprofit's president.

Many day shelters will have expanded hours during the convention, and big-screen TVs are being donated to some shelters so patrons can watch convention goings-on without being caught up in the mayhem.

"We're trying to let folks know what activities are planned, and what other places they'll be able to go without being harassed," Parvensky said.

A two-day voter registration drive is also planned at shelters and health clinics to ensure that metro-area homeless people have access to the polls in November.

Backers of the plan say it's a more sanitary and humane way to take care of people.

Open border groups go after Sheriff Arpaio with lawsuit.

Immigration: Basically stop enforcing the law.

A coalition of Hispanic and labor groups in Phoenix accused Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of racial profiling yesterday, alleging in a federal lawsuit that one of the nation's largest sheriff's departments is violating the civil rights of nonwhite U.S. citizens in seeking to arrest illegal immigrants.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which filed the suit, also said the U.S. Justice Department and federal immigration agencies have failed to stop civil rights abuses in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, the state capital.

"As charges of discrimination have mounted, Sheriff Arpaio has only dug in his heels, and the federal government has thus far done nothing to rein him in," said Robin Goldfaden, a lawyer with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "Unfortunately, court intervention is necessary for the Constitution to be upheld."

Capt. Paul Chagolla, a spokesman for the sheriff's department, said a move by the groups to seek class-action status of a case filed in December was "old news." He said the 4,000-employee department would not try a case in the media and would not alter its operations.

Espresso debacle between coffee gopher and rude customer.

Nation: Why did this make the newspaper? It did remind me why I don't like these coffee places filed with wannabe elists. Even the term Barista which is essentially filling a cup with coffee is overblown like jumbo shrimp.

Spain says screw you to housing bail out.

Spain: As painful as it is for me, I must praise Zappo's government so far for not bailing out the over extended housing companies like we are desperate to do over here in America.

Spain's finance minister Pedro Solbes has stunned the markets with an admission that his country faces the worst economic crisis in its history as the full effects of the property crash spread through the economy.

"This crisis is the most complex we have ever lived through given the plethora of factors on the table at the same time," he told Punto Radio in Madrid, breaking with past efforts to put a reassuring gloss on events.

Mr Solbes said the Madrid bourse had suffered an "earthquake", crashing 27pc since the start of June. He blamed the toxic cocktail of high oil prices, the global credit crisis and the sharp slowdown in the key export markets of North America and Germany.

The comments follow this week's bankruptcy of Martinsa-Fadesa, Spain's biggest corporate failure. The property developer - with an empire of housing estates, hotels, shopping malls and hotels - collapsed after failing to refinance €5.1bn (£4bn) of debts. The company's demise was a textbook story of aggressive over-expansion at the top of the cycle, driven by high debt gearing. It has €11bn of assets.

Mr Solbes has pursued a rigorous "no bailout" policy, saying Martinsa-Fadesa took "excessive risks" and must now face the consequences. He has reportedly clashed with cabinet colleagues, who are now searching for any means to stop the downward spiral in the economy.

What is the reasoning not to bail out now?

The socialist government is keen to flush away Spain's weakest property and residential construction firms and slim down sectors which previously drove nearly a fifth of the economy -- over twice the average in euro zone countries.

Only a third of Spanish real estate companies that existed in late 2007 may be left in business, Spain's Ahorro Corp said in a research note.

"It's more than likely the government is looking for a faster correction, and will only help surviving firms once this is over," Ahorro Corp said.

....Popular's shares still fell 7.5 percent on concerns earnings would suffer as they restrict lending to ramp up bad debt provisions.

Economists said Spain could benefit from a short, sharp shock to its housing sector.

"When a country goes through a situation like this, it can be seen as some kind of cleansing process," said economist Susana Garcia, at Deutsche Bank in London.

Some U.S. soldiers in Iraq yearn to be in Afghan war

Iraq: Mostly the young first timers ready to show they can fight which is to be expected but the vets are holding them in check.

Spc. Grover Gebhart has spent nine months at a small post on a Sunni-Shiite fault line in western Baghdad. But the 21-year-old soldier on his first tour in Iraq feels he's missing the real war — in Afghanistan, where his brother is fighting the Taliban.
With violence in Iraq at its lowest level in four years and the war in Afghanistan at a peak, the soldiers serving at patrol station Maverick say Gebhart's view is increasingly common, especially among younger soldiers looking to prove themselves in battle.

"I've heard it a lot since I got here," said 2nd Lt. Karl Kuechenmeister, a 2007 West Point graduate who arrived in Iraq about a week ago.

Soldiers who have experienced combat stress note that it is usually young soldiers on their first tour who most want to get on the battlefield. They say it is hard to communicate the horrors of war to those who haven't actually experienced it.

"These kids are just being young," said Sgt. Christopher Janis, who is only 23 but is on his third tour in Iraq. "They say they want to get into battle until they do, and then they won't want it anymore."

That soldiers are looking elsewhere for a battle is a testament to how much Iraq has changed from a year ago, when violence was at its height. Now it's the lowest in four years, thanks to the U.S. troop surge, the turn by former Sunni insurgents against al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Iraqi government crackdowns on Shiite militias.

UK's black father crisis as Cameron calls for change.

UK: Cameron breaks thru the politically correct wall on this subject.

David Cameron echoed the words of Barack Obama yesterday by calling for absent black fathers to take more responsibility for their children.

The Conservative leader called for a 'responsibility revolution' to change patterns of behaviour.

Mr Cameron's high-risk appeal appeared to pay off, winning widespread support from leading members of the black community. They agreed that the lack of traditional family influences is a serious problem.

One of Britain's most prominent black police officers told the Daily Mail Mr Cameron was right to highlight a 'crisis in fatherhood'.

....Labour ministers have been anxious to play down the idea that the absence of fathers is a major influence on crime rates. Around 59 per cent of black Caribbean children and 54 per cent of mixed-race youngsters are looked after by a lone parent. In the white British population, the figure is 22 per cent.

MPs who have investigated the problem say that in the absence of a male role model, many young black men choose to emulate negative, violent lifestyles popularised in some black music and in films.

The charities Barnardos and Babyfather warn that boys and young men can develop 'father hunger', a state which leaves them vulnerable to peer pressure.

Mr Cameron said that Mr Obama had been 'absolutely right' to warn in a recent speech that some African American men were behaving like teenagers and abandoning their parental responsibilities.

He said that many black church leaders had expressed their concerns to him about absent fathers in the UK.

'They are concerned about family breakdown and social breakdown, and want to see what I call a responsibility revolution take place.'

The Tory leader said the discrimination and economic disadvantage black people experienced had to be addressed, but insisted: 'We will never solve the long-term problems unless people also take responsibility for their own lives.'

Scientists make gene link to Africa's hiv epidemic.

Science: Startling discovery that should change the way hiv/AIDS is fought on the continent.

A genetic variant peculiar to Africans substantially raises their risk of infection with HIV, according to research that suggests evolved susceptibility may be helping to drive the continent’s Aids epidemic.

The 90 per cent of Africans who carry the DNA variation are 40 per cent more likely to contract HIV than those without it, after similar exposure to the virus, scientists from Britain and America have found.

As the genetic change is common among people of African ancestry but virtually unknown among other ethnic groups, it could explain in part why HIV-Aids is more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. The United Nations estimates that 22.5 million people there are HIV-positive, more than two thirds of the global total of approximately 33.2 million.

The variant, known as “Duffy-negative”, is so common in Africa that it could be responsible for about 11 per cent of the continent’s HIV burden, or 2.5 million cases, scientists said.

“It is an Africa-specific variant, which is why it’s so interesting in the context of Aids research,” said Robin Weiss, Professor of Infection and Immunity at University College London, a member of the study team.

“It could certainly be a contributing factor to the scale of the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s the first time, so far as we understand, that a genetic factor that increases susceptibility to infection has come into play.”

Wash Post editorial rips into Obama's Iraq plan.

Politics: Nice to see some light being shined on Obama as Wash Post realizes Obama could give a rats ass about Iraq while his plans are stupid or dangerous for the troops. No matter what he hears about Iraq, he doesn't care to change what was when presented and now a stupid, flawed plan.

"....At the time he first proposed his timetable, Mr. Obama argued -- wrongly, as it turned out -- that U.S. troops could not stop a sectarian civil war. He conceded that a withdrawal might be accompanied by a "spike" in violence.

Now, he describes as "an achievable goal" that "we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future -- a government that prevents sectarian conflict and ensures that the al-Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge." How will that "true success" be achieved? By the same pullout that Mr. Obama proposed when chaos in Iraq appeared to him inevitable.

Mr. Obama reiterated yesterday that he would consult with U.S. commanders and the Iraqi government and "make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy." However, as Mr. McCain quickly pointed out, he delivered his speech before traveling to Iraq -- before his meetings with Gen. David H. Petraeus and the Iraqi leadership.

American commanders will probably tell Mr. Obama that from a logistical standpoint, a 16-month withdrawal timetable will be difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill. Iraqis will say that a pullout that is not negotiated with the government and disregards the readiness of Iraqi troops will be a gift to al-Qaeda and other enemies. If Mr. Obama really intends to listen to such advisers, why would he lock in his position in advance?

"What's missing in our debate," Mr. Obama said yesterday, "is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq." Indeed: The message that the Democrat sends is that he is ultimately indifferent to the war's outcome -- that Iraq "distracts us from every threat we face" and thus must be speedily evacuated regardless of the consequences.

That's an irrational and ahistorical way to view a country at the strategic center of the Middle East, with some of the world's largest oil reserves. Whether or not the war was a mistake, Iraq's future is a vital U.S. security interest. If he is elected president, Mr. Obama sooner or later will have to tailor his Iraq strategy to that reality."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Iraq tourist board sets itself up for business.

Iraq: The other big news is Najaf has an international airport opening up. They will be successful, the adventurous types will head over first.

It has some of the finest archaeological sites in the world and some of the holiest places in Islam - but persuading tourists to visit Iraq has to be one of the toughest jobs around.

Hamood Massam al-Yakoubi, the head of the Iraqi Tourism Board, is confident that as the violence begins to recede, the brave and curious may be enticed to the country. “I would like tourists from around the world to visit because there is a lot to see,” he says.

On that score, he is certainly right. Gathering dust in the entrance hall of a Baghdad hotel a guidebook from the 1980s displays pictures of Iraq's attractions, among them the golden dome of the al-Askari shrine, one of the holiest buildings of Shia Islam. Of Samarra, where the shrine is, the book says: “The artistic, literary, and scientific splendours of the city have remained a legend in Arab history.”

As about 200 tourism operators, hoteliers and officials convened this week to discuss the once-booming industry, the recent drop in violence was emboldening them to encourage foreigners to return and restore the heyday of Iraqi tourism.

NYTIMES poll finally catches up on Obama's truthiness.

Politics: The public has finally caught on to Black Jesus and his penchant for being everything to everyone at that given time. Via Hot Air.

But this bonus question by Allahpundit on the question of what percentage of all Americans are black.

Exit question: How to explain this result, with so many overstating the size of the black population? Is it a function of blacks’ cultural influence leading people to think the community itself is bigger than it is?

No, people are just uneducated about the true number(little over 12%) or are inclined to not look racist by picking the bigger number. My personal feeling are people mostly idiots.

Dad branded pervert for taking his kids pictures on slide.

UK: So people have lost their minds.

When Gary Crutchley started taking pictures of his children playing on an inflatable slide he thought they would be happy reminders of a family day out.

But the innocent snaps of seven-year-old Cory, and Miles, five, led to him being called a ‘pervert’.

The woman running the slide at Wolverhampton Show asked him what he was doing and other families waiting in the queue demanded that he stop.

One even accused him of photographing youngsters to put the pictures on the internet.

Mr Crutchley, 39, who had taken pictures only of his own children, was so enraged that he found two policemen who confirmed he had done nothing wrong.

Yesterday he said: ‘What is the world coming to when anybody seen with a camera is assumed to be doing things that they should not?

‘This parental paranoia is getting completely out of hand. I was so shocked. One of the police officers told me that it was just the way society is these days. He agreed with me that it was madness.’

There is a big difference between being on alert and just outright being stupid. This would be the latter as the Dad wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary and even after showing the pics they went nuts.

AP reporter asks why Bush won't tell public to conserve.

Media: Because AP reporter as Bush said, people are smart enough to know to conserve, it comes naturally.

More from Hot Air.

Obama Web site removes `surge' from Iraq problem

Politics: AP's Pickler coming out with the new talking point as Obama tries to forget like Rev. Wright his opposition to the surge in Iraq.

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama's aides have removed criticism of President Bush's increase of troops to Iraq from the campaign Web site, part of an effort to update the Democrat's written war plan to reflect changing conditions.

Debate over the impact of President Bush's troop "surge" has been at the center of exchanges this week between Obama and Republican presidential rival John McCain. Obama opposed the war and the surge from the start, while McCain supported both the invasion and the troop increase.

Obama says New Yorker cover insulted Muslims.

Politics: Bah, this was practice pitch given to him to show he understands Muslims and not really trying to ignore them for political gain.

CHICAGO - Democrat Barack Obama said Tuesday that the New Yorker magazine's satirical cover depicting him and his wife as flag-burning, fist-bumping radicals doesn't bother him but that it was an insult to Muslim Americans.


"You know, there are wonderful Muslim Americans all across the country who are doing wonderful things," the presidential candidate told CNN's Larry King. "And for this to be used as sort of an insult, or to raise suspicions about me, I think is unfortunate. And it's not what America's all about."

Obama blamed himself for not being forceful enough in challenging some of the rumors about him, including that he is Muslim. Obama is Christian.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury says sorry to Muslims over Christian doctrine.

UK: Then Anglicans wonder why people are leaving it in droves when their leader is just a weak willed puss who throws his own religion under the bus.

Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.

Dr Rowan Williams also criticised Christianity's history for its violence, its use of harsh punishments and its betrayal of its peaceful principles.

His comments came in a highly conciliatory letter to Islamic leaders calling for an alliance between the two faiths for 'the common good'.

The Archbishop's letter is a reply to feelers to Christians put out by Islamic leaders from 43 countries last autumn.

In it, Dr Williams said violence is incompatible with the beliefs of either faith and that, once that principle is accepted, both can work together against poverty and prejudice and to help the environment.

He also said the Christian belief in the Trinity - that God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost at the same time - 'is difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims'.

Trinitarian doctrine conflicts with the Islamic view that there is just one all-powerful God.

Dr Williams added: 'It is all the more important for the sake of open and careful dialogue that we try to clarify what we do and do not mean by it, and so I trust that what follows will be read in this spirit.'

Three legged sack races banned.

UK: As UK children get closer to be in covered in bubble wrap.

HUNDREDS of school children have been banned from taking part in traditional sack and three legged races over health and safety fears.

Children were due to compete in the events at an Edwardian-themed sports day tomorrow but the races were dropped amid fears a child would fall over and hurt themselves.

The decision has been slammed as “completely over the top”.

Events such as running, hopping and throwing ping-pong balls into buckets will take place, but it was decided that the sack and three-legged races were far too risky.

Simon Woolley, head of education at Beamish in County Durham, said: “We looked at a three-legged race and a sack race but what we want to do is minimise the risk to the children.

“We had to assess which of the activities were liable to cause a risk. We thought we would be better to do hopping and running instead because there was less chance of them falling over.”

IUPUI says sorry to janitor scolded over KKK book

Nation: Finally, big story earlier this year. The co-worker who complained is an idiot, but the union rep who was ready to throw the poor guy under the bus in the name of political correctness should be dismissed.

A janitor whom a university official had accused of racial harassment for reading a historical book about the Ku Klux Klan on his break has gotten an apology - months later - from the school.

Charles Bantz, chancellor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, apologized to Keith John Sampson in a letter dated Friday, saying the school is committed to free expression.

"I can candidly say that we regret this situation took place," Bantz wrote.

Sampson's troubles began last year when a co-worker complained after seeing him reading a book titled "Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan."

The book's cover features white-robed Klansmen and burning crosses against a backdrop of Notre Dame's campus. It recounts a 1924 riot between Notre Dame students and the Klan in which the students from the Catholic university prevailed.

Sampson, a 58-year-old white janitor and student majoring in communication studies, said he tried to explain that the book was a historical account.

"I have an interest in American history," Sampson said. "I was trying to educate myself."

But Sampson says his union official likened the book to bringing pornography to work, and the school's affirmative action officer in November told Sampson his conduct constituted racial harassment.

"You used extremely poor judgment by insisting on openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your black co-workers," Lillian Charleston wrote in a letter to Sampson.

Civil liberties groups and bloggers who took up his cause said Sampson had been wrongly cited for reading a book that is carried by the school's library.

Mbeki the coward is a done force in Africa.

Africa: Thanks to Mugabe.

"But Mbeki's long -- and so far, failed -- diplomatic bid to ease Mugabe into retirement after 28 years has tied the legacies of the two men together, and badly damaged Mbeki's reputation as the exemplar of a new kind of African president. The leader President Bush described as "the point man" on solving the Zimbabwe crisis in 2003 now is widely regarded as an obstacle to freeing that nation from its steep descent into political and economic ruin.

"I think he's part of the problem at the moment," said Willie Esterhuyse, a Mbeki friend and a professor of political philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch. "

".....Yet Mbeki's time for brokering a solution -- and removing the stain of Mugabe from his own legacy -- is rapidly dwindling. Mugabe, who continues to look remarkably vigorous for his age, could easily remain in office longer than Mbeki, whose second and final term as president is due to end in mid-2009.

Mbeki's legacy in Africa is "in tatters," said Karima Brown, political editor of the South African newspaper Business Day. "Thabo Mbeki is really yesterday's man. He's done."

Not a moment too soon.

Obama too perfect for comedic purposes.

Politics: A whole lot of tip-toeing in this NYTIMES piece except for two parts.

Jokes have been made about what Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton really thought about Mr. Obama during the primaries, and about the vulgar comments the Rev. Jesse Jackson made about him last week. But anything approaching a joke about Mr. Obama himself has fallen flat.

When Mr. Stewart on “The Daily Show” recently tried to joke about Mr. Obama changing his position on campaign financing, for instance, he met with such obvious resistance from the audience, he said, “You know, you’re allowed to laugh at him.” Mr. Stewart said in a telephone interview on Monday, “People have a tendency to react as far as their ideology allows them.”

Despite audience resistance, Mr. Stewart contended, his show had been able to develop a distinctive angle on Mr. Obama.

Noting that the senator seems to emphasize the historic nature of his quest, Mr. Stewart said, “So far, our take is that he’s positioning himself to be on a coin.”

There is no doubt, several representatives of the late-night shows said, that so far their audiences (and at least some of the shows’ writers) seem to be favorably disposed toward Mr. Obama, to a degree that perhaps leaves them more resistant to jokes about him than those about most previous candidates.
“A lot of people are excited about his candidacy,” Mr. Sweeney said. “It’s almost like: ‘Hey, don’t go after this guy. He’s a fresh face; cut him some slack.’ ”

Justin Stangel, who is a head writer for “Late Show With David Letterman,” disputed that, saying, “We always have to make jokes about everybody. We’re not trying to lay off the new guy.”

But Mr. Barry said, “I think some of us were maybe too quick to caricature Al Gore and John Kerry and there’s maybe some reluctance to do the same thing to him.”

Liberal writers and their audience have no funny bone when it comes to Obama. It is that simple.

Jimmy Kimmel, the host of the ABC late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” said of Mr. Obama, “There’s a weird reverse racism going on. You can’t joke about him because he’s half-white. It’s silly. I think it’s more a problem because he’s so polished, he doesn’t seem to have any flaws.”

Mr. Maher said that being sensitive to Mr. Obama was in no way interfering with his commentary, though on HBO he has more freedom about content than other comedians. “There’s been this question about whether he’s black enough,” Mr. Maher said. “I have this joke: What does he have to do? Dunk? He bowled a 37 — to me, that’s black enough.”

Mr. Kimmel said, “His ears should be the focus of the jokes.”

The one example the loathesome Maher's can think of is making fun of the question in a way to defend him. Its going to be a long trek to voting day at this rate. When even the New Yorker which is about to the right as Lenin comes under fire for a satirical cover you might as well say hell with it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dutch military slams their own Aid minister.

EU: This sabotage from the inside?

The Dutch military in the Afghan region of Uruzgan are complaining about Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders, De Telegraaf reports. The newspaper said he is spending millions of euros randomly and suggested he is doing business with the Taliban.

"Nearly 4.5 million euros is being invested in the cultivation of saffron, as a replacement for poppy-growing. But you hear nothing of yields or harvest," says one of the military, Patrick Walthuis. Additionally, 200,000 dollars was paid to controversial warlord Matiullah Kahn to arrange security for the construction of a road through the Balucchi valley, according to the newspaper.

Conservative (VVD) MP Hans van Baalen agrees with the military frustration. "This Khan guy runs with the hounds and hunts with the hare. He will if necessary have attacks committed on the Dutch in order to then force protection money," De Telegraaf quoted him as saying. "Koenders' ministry is a republic of comrades. I am not accusing them of corruption, but everyone knows everyone else and they just keep spending."

Koenders has to date refused to give development funds to Defence for the reconstruction work that it is carrying out in the Afghan province, according to De Telegraaf. Military union ACOM's chairman Jan Kleian: "Koenders simply balks at co-funding Defence projects." Previous development cooperation ministers did do this. "It is a break with the past."

Obama says immigration service(ICE) terrorizes illegals.

Politics: So now immigration officers and officials who in cases are putting their life on the line are basically terrorists? Nice, I expect clarification about this impending distraction by this afternoon. I know he and McCain are going to pander some on immigration but this is out of line.

Sarah Jessica Parker: "She looks like a boiled horse"

Entertainment: Bless Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear with the line of the week.

Detroit scandals take toll on tunnel deal

Detroit: As the fallout continues over the broken wreck that is Detroit.

Windsor's city council will step back from negotiating a tunnel deal, until scandals involving Detroit's council and its mayor subside and Detroit can clearly say what it wants.

"The distractions of Detroit's council have left the situation so uncertain. Windsor's council does not want to proceed and incur further (legal) expense unless Detroit clarifies it's position," local lawyer Cliff Sutts, lead negotiator for Windsor, said after a two-hour special council meeting on Thursday.

"We could proceed with negotiations, reach completed documents and (Detroit's council) could reject it for reasons totally unrelated to the documents themselves.

"Windsor's council has decided they don't want to incur expenses on a speculative basis."

Windsor and its tunnel corporation has offered to pay Detroit $75 million to close a deal, but that offer is up in the air thanks to a growing divide between Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick -- whose office helped assemble the deal -- and his council.

Escondido cracks down on illegals.

Immigration: As residents praise the new crackdown.

Escondido is one of dozens of cities around the country that have employed local ordinances in an attempt to "purge their populations of illegal immigrants," said Wayne Cornelius, who directs the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego.

Between May 2006 and October 2007, 131 cities introduced anti-illegal immigration ordinances, including several that sought to prohibit renting to illegal immigrants. Fewer than half were passed. Many were struck down by the courts.

Many Escondido residents have praised the council and the police for taking a stand on illegal immigration.

Tisha Bennett is among the more vocal supporters. Two years ago, she said, the daughter of a friend was hit and killed by an unlicensed drunk driver who had been deported and sneaked back into the country.

"It's about the law," she said. "All we want is people to obey the law."

Bennett formed a group called Citizens of Escondido for Road Safety and collected signatures in support of the driver's license checkpoints. She also backs the proposed parking ordinance.

"The whole issue is quality of life," she said. "It's not legal versus illegal. It's the overburdening of our system."

Latin America union anger at EU immigration pact.

EU: EU must be doing something right to piss off all the right people.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the Mercosur meeting in Argentina that Europe had "legalised barbarism".

The EU laws, due to come into force in 2010, could see illegal immigrants held for up to 18 months and face a five-year ban on re-entry if expelled.

The summit also voiced concerns about rising global food prices.

But it was the EU rules passed last month that truly united the South American leaders in anger at the gathering in the northern city of Tucuman, says the BBC's Daniel Schweimler in Argentina.

In a joint declaration, they rejected "every effort to criminalise irregular migration and the adoption of restrictive immigration policies, in particular against the most vulnerable sectors of society, women and children".

The statement also noted "the necessity to fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance".

It was signed by the seven presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, and ministers from associate Mercosur members Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa called the EU measures "shameful".

Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva branded it "outrageous, ignominious".

Bolivian leader Evo Morales said the measures did nothing to combat racism.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said the law was inadmissible.

Uruguay's leader Tabare Vazquez said: "Nobody emigrates for fun, they do it out of necessity."

Maybe it would be better to focus on your own region so they don't have to leave and then get huffy when other regions crack down on the money train(remittances) back to South America which is the real worry about this crackdown.

African groups blasts EU new immigration pact.

Immigration: EU got flak from countries in South/Central America and now African countries are terrified of this new pact. I do agree that locking up illegals then deporting them is stupid. Just send them home.

New European Union proposals aimed at tackling illegal immigration drew criticism on Thursday in Africa where the plans were attacked for criminalising immigrants and building a wall around Europe.

African rights watchdog Raddho slammed "the EU policies of criminalisation and locking up of migrants and asylum seekers" and spoke of its "intense worry" at the new guidelines announced by France's EU presidency on Monday.

The immigration issue was spotlighted by a latest tragedy on Wednesday night when at least 15 illegal African immigrants, including nine children, died at sea while trying to reach Spain.

"The establishment of a European pact on immigration and asylum will accentuate the vulnerability and the criminalisation of immigration and asylum rights," Dakar-based Raddho said.

The watchdog called on the African Union (AU) to protect its citizens and engage with the EU on the matter of immigration.

The pact, presented Monday in Cannes, sets out principles for the EU to manage migration, fight illegal immigration and help development in poor countries that people are leaving or travelling through to get to Europe.

The agreement aims to organise legal immigration based on a state's needs and ability to welcome people, and combat illegal immigration, ensuring that foreigners who do not have papers are removed.

EU nations would base legal immigration on workers or professionals whose skills are tailored to their particular labour needs, favouring those who would stay in their countries long term.

Spaniards call for tougher immigration laws.

EU: Spain's economy is going into tatters and that lovely dovey immigration amnesty/loose laws by Zappo and his gang has finally pushed Spaniards over the edge.

More than two-thirds of Spaniards are unhappy with government policy on illegal immigration, according to a poll published yesterday.

Those questioned called for a tougher stance from the government of Spain's Socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, on so-called sin papeles (unregulated migrants). Of 700 people questioned, 67% said they did not agree with the government's policies on illegal immigration.

The poll, conducted by Metroscopia for the Spanish daily El Pais, follows the deaths in the past week of 35 would-be immigrants who succumbed to exhaustion, thirst or hunger while trying to reach Spain.

....The apparent hardening of attitudes amongst Spaniards towards illegal immigrants comes as the country's economic problems deepen.

Spain, which once had the fastest growth among the world's eight biggest economies, is expected to see its growth fall to 1.15% next year from 3.8% in 2007.

Unemployment is set to rise to 11% in 2009. Immigrants, many employed in the hard-hit construction industry, have been worse affected.

The poll comes against amid a growing backlash in Europe against immigration. One key strand of French president Nicolas Sarkozy's Mediterranean union, launched yesterday, if for better economic development in North Africa to reduce migratory pressure towards Europe.

Zapatero said last week that said granting more development aid to poor countries was the most effective way to curb a wave of illegal migrants.

But the socialists are to toughen measures to send home illegal immigrants and enforce stricter checks on family members coming to Spain to be with legal migrants.

The government will also offer financial incentives to unemployed immigrants to return to their countries of origin.

Equality laws ‘are now holding women back’

UK: This is a very stupid law, no business can sustain paying any worker for one year and they are not actually working.

The radical extension of maternity leave and parents’ rights is sabotaging women’s careers, according to the head of the new equalities watchdog.

Nicola Brewer said that it was an inconvenient truth that giving women a year off work after the birth of each child - soon to be paid throughout - was making employers think twice before offering a job or promotion.

The chief executive of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission was speaking to The Times on the eve of a speech in which she will call for a significant rethink of family policy.

Ms Brewer said that generous maternity benefits had entrenched the assumption that only mothers brought up children and failed to hasten a social revolution where both parents were equally responsible for caring for their family.

British fathers have the most unequal rights in Europe, entitled to only two weeks of leave compared with 52 for mothers. At the moment, nine months of maternity leave is paid, but this will rise to a year by the end of the current Parliament.

Ms Brewer said that calls to the commission’s helpline from women who had lost their jobs after becoming pregnant suggested that they were paying a heavy price for their new rights. She said that her fears deepened earlier this year when the entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar claimed that many employers binned the CVs of women of childbearing age.

Business leaders have criticised the new maternity laws, saying that they are a headache for employers and that it is difficult to plan the workforce if parents go part-time. But this is the first time that a criticism has come from an organisation that campaigns on behalf of women.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Newsweek: Obama/McCain all tied up.

Politics: So has Obama star fallen from last month's poll where he led with great fanfare from the media by 15 points or was that a Obama loving poll by Newsweek to push their favored candidate. Considering it was out of whack with other polls I tend to think there was a tweaking going on last month.

(update) BBC defends Muslim beheading in "Bonekickers"

Media(06/14/2008): Come on, you have read all the stories of Christian beheading people all over the world, it is straight out of the headlines!

Exclusive by Derek Robins - BBC bosses have defended the grisly beheading of a Muslim by a Christian zealot in new drama Bonekickers.

In the bloody scene, ex-EastEnder Paul Nicholls plays a fundamentalist who decapitates a Muslim with a sword.

Producer Rhonda Smith said: "It's not meant to be shocking or to cause offence and it comes very much from the storyline."

Here is the plotline.

Updated: The show aired last Tuesday and people have been complaining.

A BBC drama has triggered a barrage of complaints after it showed gruesome images of a Muslim being beheaded.

Bonekickers, about a group of archeological sleuths, depicted an extremist Christian decapitating a man with a sword.

The bloody scene has prompted 100 complaints since it was broadcast on BBC1 on Tuesday evening.

Yesterday the corporation admitted 'regret' that viewers had found the scene 'inappropriate', but defended its decision to show it.

Some viewers were taken aback when former EastEnders actor Paul Nicholls was seen in the drama hacking off a moderate Muslim's head in an unprovoked attack.

He plays a member of the fictional White Wings Alliance, a group of far-Right evangelical Christians inspired by the Crusades.

The show, watched 6.8million, also sparked new claims of anti-Christian bias in BBC programmes.

One viewer wrote on the corporation's website: 'If it had been another religion portrayed in that manner, the PC police would have been up in arms about the nastiness and their rights not to have their religion ridiculed - as it was Christians, it was apparently OK.'

Someone tell Brett Favre to screw off.

Sports: Watching Favre hold the Packers like a hostage and using them as his plaything is ridiculous. players are starting to react negatively and being sympathatic to Aaron Rodgers who is constantly getting screwed up by Favre I am staying/no going/wait I am back routine.