Daily Archives: September 5, 2011

Libya Says “Thank You, America!”

At The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof has written an Op-ed from Tripoli, where he has spoken with locals about American involvement in Libya. Almost across the board, the reaction has been the same: “Thank you, America!” or “Thank you, President Obama!”

It’s a really heartening piece that reminds us how important humanitarian intervention is, for, as Kristof says, “It is better to inconsistently save some lives than to consistently save none.”

You can check it out here.

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Republicans Notice Opponents for the First Time

I took this picture at the "Ask Mitt Anyt...

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The Republican nomination process has reached a pivotal stage: the candidates have started to criticize each other as well as President Barack Obama.

The three frontrunners, Representative Michele Bachmann and Governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, will face each other in three debates in the next three weeks.

Sarah Palin, meanwhile, just happened to swing through the election-important states of Iowa and New Hampshire this weekend. “There’s room for more,” she said.

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United States Tries to Stall U.N. Vote on Palestine

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

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The Obama administration has circulated a proposal for renewed peace talks with Israel in the hopes of persuading Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to abandon the bid for recognition at the United Nations General Assembly beginning September 20.

The United States does not have enough support to block a General Assembly vote on whether to elevate Palestine from an “entity” to a “state,” but the administration has made it clear to president Abbas that the U.S. will veto any request presented to the U.N. Security Council to make a Palestinian state a member.

Last month, the State Department issued a formal diplomatic message to more than seventy countries, urging them to oppose any unilateral moves by Palestine at the United Nations.

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WikiLeaks Documents Show Israeli Diplomatic Relations

Map of Israel, the Palestinian territories (We...

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A recent cache of documents released by WikiLeaks reveals new insights into Israel‘s diplomatic and political relations. The documents cover topics ranging from information about U.S. citizens living in the West Bank to dealing with non-violent protests in the West Bank.

A document from a 2006 meeting between the U.S. ambassador and Israeli foreign minister notes that the model for a secure Israel is keeping Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews segregated.

More recent documents show that U.S. officials have been aware of Israel’s harsh methods of dealing with peaceful protests in the West Bank since February 2010 or earlier.

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Discharged Under DADT and Ready to Reenlist

Hundreds of gay men and lesbians discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) have contacted recruiters or advocacy groups saying they want to reenlist when the policy is repealed on September 20.

Former service members discharged honorably under DADT will, like all other recruits, have to pass physical fitness tests and prove they have skills the armed services needs. Some will have aged to the point that they will need waivers to rejoin.

If they are allowed to rejoin, they will not go back to their former jobs or ranks.

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On This Day…

Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle (1887-1933)

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In 1921, a bootleg-booze-soused party took place in room 1219 at San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis Hotel. As a result of this party, an actress named Virginia Rappe ended up dead.

The man charged with her death was Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Hollywood‘s first one-million-dollar star.

Arbuckle had ended up at a party in a luxury suite on the twelfth floor of the St. Francis during a break from a hectic filming schedule. Among the guests was Virginia Rappe, a thirty-year-old struggling actress.

Arbuckle and Rappe ended up together in a bedroom. A few minutes later, others heard her screams. Guests rushed in to find Rappe, fully dressed, writhing in pain on the bed.

¬†Arbuckle said he had gone to the bathroom and found Rappe passed out on the floor. He insisted that he had carried her to the bed, and she had fallen off it. Rappe said, “He did this to me.”
When Arbuckle left, the other guests assumed the actress was just drunk, but her condition worsened until her friend took her to the hospital three days later and told the doctor Arbuckle raped Rappe. A medical examination found no evidence of sexual assault.
Nonetheless, a day later, Rappe died from peritonitis caused by a ruptured bladder. Arbuckle was charged with first-degree murder. Morality groups demanded he face the death penalty.

Arbuckle was never tried for sexual assault, but the notion that he raped Rappe endured because of the way the trial was reported. The star was portrayed as a fat brute who had pinned down his prey, rupturing her bladder. The actor faced trial three times. The first two trials ended in hung juries.

After a third trial in 1922, the jury took just a few minutes to acquit Arbuckle. “Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle,” the jury said in a written apology. “A grave injustice has been done.”

Roscoe Arbuckle spent more than a decade trying to make a comeback after being blacklisted from Hollywood. In 1927, he discovered Bob Hope in Cleveland.

Finally, in 1933, he was offered a feature-film contract. He said it was the best day of his life. That night, he died of a heart attack at age 46.

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Human Rights Chief Condemns European Participation in U.S. War on Terror

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On September 1, Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, released a statement condemning European nations for aiding and committing countless crimes against humanity during the past decade in collaboration with the U.S.’s War on Terror.

Hammarberg accused several E.U. nations, including Britain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Sweden, of participating in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency‘s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program, which has deeply violated human rights. Hammarberg said European governments were “deeply complicit” in U.S. counterterrorism strategies, including pervasive torture techniques.

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WikiLeaks Reveals Execution of Iraqi Children by U.S. Troops

A diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks provides evidence that in 2006 in Isahaqi, Iraq, U.S. troops executed at least ten civilians, including a woman in her seventies and a five-month-old infant before calling in an airstrike to destroy the evidence.

A cell phone photo of the aftermath of what autopsies reveal to be an execution of 11 people including women and children (Photo courtesy of McClatchy).

A cell phone photo of the aftermath of what autopsies show was an execution of 11 people including women and children (Photo courtesy of McClatchy).

The cable has questions posed by a United Nations investigator after Iraqi officials demanded a remedial response. The U.S. responded by denying that anything out of the ordinary had happened. The original incident report put the fault on a battle with an Al Qaeda suspect that resulted in the complete decimation of the house in which he was hiding. Townspeople insisted that the soldiers had executed the eleven people in the house.

Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, sent a cable to then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. He revealed that autopsies revealed that the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head. Among the dead were four women and five children under the age of five.

In 2006, Ishaqi, about eighty miles from Baghdad, was extremely dangerous. All roads in the area were classified “black,” meaning they were likely booby-trapped.

The Pentagon has not responded to requests for comments on the incident or the leak.

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Cantor Says No Disaster Relief without Spending Cuts

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia

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Eric Cantor is making waves in Washington by insisting that any federal aid to the victims of Hurricane Irene be offset by cuts in other spending.

Cantor’s critics are not just accusing him of being stingy; they’re accusing him of being a hypocrite. In 2004, when his home state of Virginia was struck by Tropical Storm Gaston, Cantor voted against a bill that would have required exactly the same kind of pay-as-you-go scheme he is now advocating.

Hypocrisy and heartlessness aside, it is an economic tenet that temporary spending bursts which can arises after natural disasters are good reasons to run temporary budget deficits. Thus, Cantor’s claim that fiscal responsibility requires spending cuts to offset the cost of disaster relief is wrong.

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Rick Perry and the Death Penalty

"The Honorable Rick Perry (front right), ...

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As Rick Perry picks up his campaign, his home state is set to add six more executions (including a controversial one) to the record tally he amassed during his years as governor.

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