Monthly Archives: December 2011

On This Day…

In 1972, the United States halted its heavy bombing of North Vietnam.

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Republican Candidates Tell The New York Times Their View of the Presidency

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As they advocate for limited government, the Republican Presidential candidates hold expansive views about the scope of the executive powers they would wield if elected.


As Republicans prepare to select their 2012 Presidential nominee, Newt Gingrich, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have detailed their views on executive power in response to questions posed by The New York Times, which has published their responses online.


Most of them see the commander-in-chief as having the authority to take extraordinary actions if he decides doing so is necessary to protect national security. Only Mr. Paul argued for a more limited view of Presidential power.


The other four candidates echoed expansive legal theories advanced by President George W. Bush. In significant ways, they dovetailed as well with the posture taken by President Obama since taking office.


Asked to describe the circumstances under which the Constitution permits a President to order the targeted killing of a citizen who has not been sentenced to death by a court, Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Huntsman, Mr. Perry and Mr. Romney said that a President could order the killing of a citizen who joins an enemy force that is at war with the U.S.


The Obama administration embraced similar reasoning as the basis for a drone strike in Yemen this year that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen.


Mr. Paul described the circumstances in which a President could order the extrajudicial killing of a citizen: “None.” Similarly, while Mr. Paul said that a President should not order a military attack without Congressional permission unless there was an imminent threat, the other four candidates agreed that a President could do so.


Mr. Gingrich in particular has taken an assertive view about the scope of the Presidency, saying Presidents may lawfully ignore Supreme Court rulings.


Presidential power has grown since the early years of the cold war and ratcheted forward under the Bush administration. As a candidate, Sen. Obama accused Pres. Bush of undermining the Constitution.


After taking office, Pres. Obama ordered adherence to antitorture rules; justified counterterrorism policies as authorized by Congress and consistent with international law; and sought to handle terrorism cases that arise on domestic soil exclusively through the criminal justice system and not the military.

Via The New York Times.



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Gingrich: My First Two Marriages Didn’t Count

Newt Gingrich speaking to voters at Des Moines...

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It has been difficult for evangelicals to take Newt Gingrich seriously as a “family values” politician. It might be even more difficult now that Mr. Gingrich has said that his first two marriages do not count.

One Iowa voter has driven the point home by asking Mr. Gingrich whether he would legalize polygamy if taking a seat in the White House.

The question came from a caller to one of Mr. Gingrich’s tele-town hall meetings. The caller said,

I’m a Bible believing Christian, and Jesus very specifically states in the Bible that divorced people are really still married which I think technically means you’re a polygamist. I’m wondering what you’ll do to legalize polygamy in U.S. if elected president.

Mr. Gingrich answered that he is not a polygamist because he did not get a divorce… er, two divorces. The Catholic Church annulled his marriages, which Mr. Gingrich says means Jesus can discount them.

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Man Divorces Wife for Affair in the 1940s

LOL Just divorced. And no, that's not my car.

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An Italian couple are getting divorced after seventy-seven years of marriage.

A few days before Christmas, Antonio, who is ninety-nine, was searching through a chest and found letters that his ninety-six-year-old wife had written to her lover in the 1940s. He was so upset by the discovery that he immediately told Rosa that he wanted a divorce.

The couple has five children, twelve grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

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On This Day…

In 1940, during World War II, Germany began dropping incendiary bombs on London.

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China Cracks Down on Activists During Christmas

On Monday, a court in Guiyang, China sentenced activist Chen Xi to ten years in prison for “subversion of state power” and “inciting subversion of state power.”

Chen Xi has been jailed repeatedly for his continued advocacy of human rights and freedom of expression in China. Photo Courtesy of BBC News.

The court also announced that Chen will be “deprived of his political rights” for three years.

According to a statement by Amnesty International,Chinese law never defines “subversion” or “incit[ing] others to subvert state power,” common charges leveled against activists in China.

Chen Xi is a former soldier and factory worker, previously jailed for three years in 1989 for his support of the student protests in Tiananmen Square. Mr. Chen served a ten-year jail term from 1995-2006 for “organizing and leading a counter-revolutionary group.” Mr. Chen is a prominent member of Guizhou Human Rights Forum, which China outlawed on December 5.

Mr. Chen’s conviction follows his arrest on November 29 in what activists claim to be a response to his authoring thirty-six online articles critical of the state and Communist party. The articles were published domestically and abroad and called for political reform and improvement of human rights in China. Mr. Chen recently incurred the ire of officials by campaigning for independent candidates.

Chen Xi’s sentence is one in a series of lengthy prison terms recently handed down to human rights activists by Chinese authorities. Many analysts believe that the arrests, trials, and imprisonments coincide with a window of low-key diplomatic activity in the West during the Christmas holiday to reduce criticism.

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Somali Women Face Rape and Sexual Assault

English: Najmo, an 8 year old Somali schoolgir...

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Somalia has been worn down by decades of conflict. This year, tens of thousands have died from famine, with countless others cut down in combat. Now Somalis face an increase in rapes and sexual abuse of women and girls.

The Shabab militant group, which presents itself as a morally righteous rebel force and the defender of Islam, is seizing women and girls as spoils of war, gang-raping and abusing them as part of its reign of terror in southern Somalia. Short of cash and losing ground, the militants are forcing families to hand over girls for arranged marriages that often last no more than a few weeks and are essentially sexual slavery.

It is not just the Shabab. In the past few months, there has been a free-for-all of armed men preying on women and girls displaced by Somalia’s famine.

With the famine putting hundreds of thousands of women on the move — severing them from their traditional protection, the clan — more Somali women are raped now than at any time. In some areas, women are used as chits at roadblocks, surrendered to the gunmen at the barrier so that a group of desperate refugees can pass.

In the past two months, from Mogadishu alone, the United Nations has received more than 2,500 reports of gender-based violence. Because Somalia is a no-go zone for most operations, United Nations officials are unable to confirm the reports, leaving the work to fledgling Somali aid organizations under constant threat.

Somalia is a traditional place, where 98% of girls are subject to genital cutting. Most girls are illiterate and relegated to their homes.

The famine and mass displacement, which began over the summer, have made women and girls more vulnerable. Many Somali communities have been disbanded, and with armed groups forcing men and boys into their militias, it is often single women, with children in tow, who set off on the dangerous odyssey to refugee camps.

Aid workers and United Nations officials say the Shabab, who are fighting Somalia’s transitional government and imposing a harsh version of Islam in the areas they control, can no longer pay their several thousand fighters.

Via The New York Times.

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