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If a shoe-throwing journalist has come to represent the summa of Iraqi opinion concerning George W. Bush, the view from the north is different. In Kurdish eyes, the toppling of Saddam meant liberation. “I like the American army because if the Americans had not damaged the Iraqi regime, anyone cannot damage this regime,” said Zhero, a student at Salahaddin University. He described Bush as “the leader of freedom.” “Generally we are against war, but for making us to be free it was good,” a girl sitting across the table added. I asked whether these students thought killing American soldiers in Iraq was justifiable. They looked incredulous…. The Peshmerga took more casualties in the Iraq War than any other U.S. ally. Not far from the Iranian border, in the guarded compound of the secular-leftist Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, the eloquent Secretary-General Abdullah Mohtadi told me he believed that the Western left “discredited itself” by siding with “the anti-democratic forces” on the question of Iraq. “But I must say, I also blame the Arab intellectuals. Because many, many of them are very silent when it comes to despotic regimes, when it comes to human rights, when it comes to women’s rights in their own society. But they’re very outspoken against the United States.”–“Why Kurdistan Matters,” Tim Goot-Brennan, Dissent
The Queens-Brooklyn border wasteland; America’s best hot dogs are made by migrants in Tucson; what’s inside a Slim Jim?; lost hikers who think they are walking in circles are, in fact, walking in circles; a cheesy car for cheesy people
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman should have sent a big bouquet to Donald Bostrom, the Swedish photographer and journalist who wrote the article claiming that the Israel Defense Forces harvested organs from dead Palestinians….It has been a long time since such a propaganda asset has fallen into the hands of the friends of the occupation. It has been a long time since such damage has been caused to people seriously attempting to document its horrors. The bizarre Swedish report led to a no-less-bizarre Israeli response. Bad and irresponsible journalism crossed paths with bad and irresponsible diplomacy. Instead of simply denying the report, Lieberman, true to form, acted like a bully. In his fiery response – from his disrespectful mention of the Holocaust to identifying every criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism, to his ludicrous demand that the Swedish Foreign Ministry condemn the article – Lieberman caused great diplomatic damage to Israel. Serious journalism’s task is to document, investigate and prove – not to call on others to investigate, as the Swedish tabloid did. One may, for example, accuse the Swedish reporter of a crime, writing that he rapes little boys or girls, all based on suspicions and rumors, and call on the Swedish police to investigate. That’s what the reporter did with his claims of trafficking in Palestinian organs.–“Swedish article on organ harvesting was cheap and harmful journalism,” Gideon Levy, Haaretz
Yesterday afternoon at the Brookings Institution, four analysts portrayed a bleak and terrifying vision of the current state of affairs in Afghanistan in the wake of the presidential election….Their conclusions: (1) A significant escalation of the war will be necessary to avoid utter defeat. (2) Even if tens of thousands of troops are added to the US occupation, it won’t be possible to determine if the US/NATO effort is succeeding until eighteen months later. (3) Even if the United States turns the tide in Afghanistan, no significant drawdown of US forces will take place until five years have passed…. Not a single panelist questioned the goals, purpose or objectives of the Afghan war. Not one said anything about a political solution to the war, about negotiations, or about diplomacy. Not one questioned the viability of an open-ended commitment to the war. And none of them had any doubts about the strategic necessity of defeating the Taliban and its allies. Although the growing political opposition to the war was referenced in passing — more than half of Americans say the the war isn’t worth fighting, and liberal-left members of Congress are beginning to raise objections — the panel seemed to believe that President Obama can and must ignore politics and push to expand the war when General McChrystal, as expected, recommends an increase in the level of US forces once again.–“Afghanistan Apocalypse,” Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”