Monday, December 3, 2007

In the News

Two sociopathic leaders were involved in elections. In Russia, Vladimir Putin's party secured a victory. Here is the important part.

Mr Putin has said a strong result would give him the authority to retain
political power after his presidential term ends next year, possibly as prime

No one can underestimate this guy's evil and cunning under any circumstances. He has used the price of oil to gain extra power and he has his sights set on damaging our country. I believe that Bush's biggest mistake was looking into this man's eyes and not seeing the cold blooded evil of a former KGB agent, but rather goodness.

Hugo Chavez, on the other hand, lost in his appeal to rule for as long as he wanted. The race was tight however in the end he lost 51-49 percent.

Voters in this country narrowly defeated a proposed overhaul to the constitution in a contentious referendum over granting President Hugo Chávez sweeping new powers, the Election Commission announced early Monday.

It was the first major electoral defeat in the nine years of his presidency. Voters rejected the 69 proposed amendments 51 to 49 percent.

The political opposition erupted into celebration, shooting fireworks into the air and honking car horns, when electoral officials announced the results at 1:20 a.m. The nation had remained on edge since polls closed Sunday afternoon and the wait for results began.

The British teacher in the Sudan that "dared" to allow one of her students to name their teddy bear Muhammad has been released from jail.

Sudan released a British woman given a presidential pardon today after being jailed for insulting religion and handed her over to British officials, an embassy spokesman said.

"We can confirm now she’s in British embassy custody and our officials are with her," Omar Daair told AFP by telephone refusing to give any further details on her precise location.

Teacher Gillian Gibbons was arrested eight days ago and sentenced to 15 days in prison on Thursday for insulting religion by allowing children at an English school to name a teddy bear Mohammed - the same name as the Muslim Prophet.

Hey, she "only" had to spend eight days in jail for her "crime". Here is a new twist. I don't know if I should be impressed by her courage and tenacity or wonder about her sanity.

The British teacher jailed for naming a teddy bear Muhammad has said she wished she could stay in Sudan.

Gillian Gibbons, who faces deportation when she is released, said: "I'm really sad to leave and if I could go back to work tomorrow then I would."

In a statement issued through her legal team on Saturday, she added: "I'm fine, I'm well, I'm very grateful to all the people who have been working on my behalf. I know so many people out there have done so much. I want people to know that I have been well treated and especially that I am being well fed."

I have a friend who is 23 years old. She is always apologizing to me for what are frankly trivial things. For instance, she sent me a text message meant for someone else. She apologized later. I keep telling her that apologizing for trivial things is a sign of weakness and also it clouds the issue when you have something that you actually should apologize for. This faux outrage over nothing of course clouds the issue in the same manner. It is frankly obscene. Their fellow Muslims cut off people's heads in the name of their beloved religion and they choose this to get outraged about.

It only took the New Republic almost five months but they have finally figured out that Scott Thomas' work shouldn't have been published. For all those that haven't followed this story, Scott Thomas wrote a few pieces in TNR about horrors he claimed to have seen in Iraq. The stories were suspect and with little or no outside sourcing besides his word. Bloggers immediately picked apart the story for mistakes and inconsistencies. There were plenty and it became obvious in almost no time to most observers that Thomas was a fraud. It took TNR about five months to join the rest of us.

For months, our magazine has been subject to accusations that stories we published by an American soldier then serving in Iraq were fabricated. When these accusations first arose, we promised our readers a full account of our investigation. We spent the last four-and-a-half months re-reporting his stories. These are our findings.

When Michael Goldfarb, a blogger for The Weekly Standard, left me a message on a Tuesday afternoon in mid-July, I didn't know him or his byline. And I certainly didn't anticipate that his message would become the starting point for a controversy.

A day earlier, The New Republic had published a piece titled "Shock Troops." It appeared on the magazine's back page, the "Diarist" slot, which is reserved for short first-person meditations. "Shock Troops" bore the byline Scott Thomas, which we identified as a pseudonym for a soldier then serving in Iraq. Thomas described how war distorts moral judgments. To illustrate his point, he narrated three disturbing anecdotes. In one, he and his comrades cracked vulgar jokes about a woman with a scarred face while she sat in close proximity. In another, a soldier paraded around with the fragment of an exhumed skull on his head. A final vignette described a driver of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle who took pride in running over dogs.

Goldfarb said he had been contacted by tipsters who thought these scenarios sounded concocted by a writer with an overactive imagination--or perhaps by a total fabulist. He asked for evidence that might answer these complaints, "any details that would reassure that this isn't fiction." Among other things, he wanted the name of the base where the author had mocked the disfigured woman.

The same afternoon, we contacted the author, asking permission to answer Goldfarb's queries. We thought we could provide details that might answer these concerns without revealing the author's identity and violating the compact we formed when granting him a pseudonym. He agreed. I told Goldfarb that the insults to the woman had occurred at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Falcon. A day later, Goldfarb sent a link to an item on the Standard blog. It quoted an anonymous source who said the story sounded like a collection of the "This is no bullshit ... stories soldiers like to tell." Goldfarb called on the military blogosphere to do "some digging" and for "individual soldiers and veterans to come forward with relevant information."

Paul Krugman makes what would be a laughable, if it wasn't so dangerous, contribution to the mortgage crisis. He actually blames the concept of mortgage backed securities for creating the crisis. There is too much to break down here, however Krugman fails to mention that mortgage backed securities created an opportunity for millions of poor folks to own property they never would have. To blame financial innovation for a crisis is frankly the height of irresponsibility and class warfare. It is nothing short of dangerous.

A fresh batch of polls are out in Iowa and for the first time Huckabee leads in the RCP average. His momentum is real. He shouldn't be underestimated, and neither should the power of charm and charisma, which he has in spades. A second poll in a row has Obama leading as well. Obama also now leads in the RCP average. Again, the power of charm and charisma cannot be underestimated...Obama has it in spades and Hillary...well she has Bill.

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