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Midday Open Thread

December 25th, 2009 admin No comments
  • Courtesy of Cracked, the 6 most horrific ways pop culture has misused Santa Claus.
  • It has been a bad couple weeks for heads of state moving through crowds in Italy(ish). The Vatican is reviewing its security.
  • As is often the case, Ta-Nehisi Coates takes a subject that could play out all too predictably on the blogs — in this case, the gun-waving cop at the snowball fight — and shows why it’s important to get to something a little different:

    Lazy tactics prop up lazy arguments. I think we can all agree that throwing a snowball at an armed man–cop or otherwise–is dumb as fuck. It’s a reckless, arrogant, stupid act that endangers you and everyone in the vicinity. I think we can also agree that yelling “Fuck you pig!” or some such is the kind of thing that makes those of us who live in fear of the police chafe. Lastly, I think, for black people, and especially those of us who’ve had friends killed by the cops, it’s particularly grating to be confronted with the fact that we live under different rules.

    But that said, an argument about who was “the bigger idiot” is really beside the point. One idiot lacks home training. The other idiot lacks professional training. One idiot is a dumb-ass kid. But the other idiot is a salaried, pensioned employee of the state, whose job specifically entails not acting like an idiot. One idiot thinks he’s empowered to throw snowballs at cops. The other idiot is, as a matter of law, empowered to throw hot-ones. One idiot might ruin your Hummer. The other idiot might ruin your life–and then go to work the next day.

    They aren’t the same, and soft-peddling the act of drawing a gun in snowball fight in hopes of spiting some stupid kid, is the kind of dumb-ass tribalism that ultimately hurts the tribe. D.C. is a majority black city, and this guy has been on the force for over a decade. If he’s acting as he was–on camera–toward a group of predominantly white kids, imagine how he’s acted toward black kids over the years. Imagine how he’ll act towards your kids in the future.

  • In the consumer society, every object gets its own psychology.
  • What exactly are emergency rooms for?
  • There will be many end-of-year assessments of Obama’s performance. I don’t agree with everything Paul Starr says at The American Prospect, but it’s a thoughtful piece to add to the genre’s pile:

    A year ago, as the nation spiraled into the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, many were comparing Obama to Roosevelt or at least to an image they had of FDR. Obama may never meet that standard, but if we measure where we are today against the threat to the economy as 2009 began, he has done well enough.

  • Amanda Marcotte helps The Hill understand “when or why Lieberman has taken a hit.” Hilarious.
  • I recently made the Atholl Brose recipe Matt Browner Hamlin provides here; it’s too late to make it for Christmas, but it’s a terrific holiday cocktail.
  • Cash for chokers? Funds for fumers? Whatever your cash for clunkers parallel of choice, trade-in programs for smoky wood stoves are gaining ground.
  • A tribute to actors and others in the film industry who died in 2009:


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , , ,

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

December 25th, 2009 admin No comments

There’s certainly plenty of snow and ice to go around this time of year. Maybe enough to provide a White Christmas depending on where you are. According to Wikipedia, the odds of a White Christmas in Fairbanks, Alaska are listed as 100 % and you can bet many Canadian Kossacks face a similar proposition. After a long night, Santa just finished delivering gifts in the least likely US city to see snow glistening, sunny Honolulu, where the chances of a vacationing first family seeing snowfall are about nil. Similar data exists for large parts of southern Alabama, South Carolina, most of Florida, and a number of readers signing in today from south of the US border — but don’t feel sorry for us! We like it warm, and you probably don’t want to see us try and negotiate icy roads anyway.

As you might expect, LA and Phoenix come in way low but still manage to score 1% each, and they’re tied with some other large cities that aren’t as obvious, like San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, or Charlotte, North Carolina. Further north, chances of a snowman being built by bloggers today in small towns across the great state of Idaho, rugged Utah, the sweet rolling plains of Iowa and all around the lower Great Lakes in Michigan and Illinois clock in at roughly 50/50 or better, edging toward 100% in some parts of Montana, Minnesota, and the Dakotas.

Progressives in Kansas and Missouri might hear sleigh bells ring every fourth or fifth Christmas on average, but elevation and proximity to the coast makes a huge difference. The meadows of Spokane, Washington, will have a snowy Christmas 70 percent of the time. But Seattle residents 200 miles to the west and 1500 feet lower have less than a one in ten chance of seeing the white stuff today. Over on the east coast, Bill in Portland Maine faces a big whopping 83% chance of having to break out the snow shovel, dropping to just over 50/50 for our friends at My Left Nutmeg; the latter is still five times higher than residents near the Big Apple and roughly the same for our many hard working regs hunkering down in Philadelphia or the DC region.

Little Rock and Oklahoma City strangely chime in at only 3% each, oddly similar to New Orleans, while Dallas-Fort Worth clocks about 8% — depending of course on the fleeting definition of a White Christmas. But the odds drop back off fast toward more southerly San Antonio. In fact, there has never been an official White Christmas for the writers of the Burnt Orange Report in Austin, although chestnuts have been known to roast over the coals in the Lone Star State, especially in the vast colder western areas and out toward New Mexico.

Snow or no snow, it’s pretty damn cold in large sections of the US today! But for those of us lucky enough to bask in the warmth of friends and family, it’s sure dreamy by the fireplace, even tempered with the thought of those having a tough time at the end of a tough year, or who couldn’t make it home. From all of us for all of you, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,

Sargent’s Top Five Online Stories of the Year

December 25th, 2009 admin No comments

Greg Sargent picks his top five stories that “showcased the world of online journalism at its finest.”

  1. The release of the torture documents and Cheney’s response
  1. The heath care town hall wars of August
  1. The “birther” controversy
  1. The campaign to force a public option into the health care reform proposal
  1. The war on the left over whether to kill the Senate bill

The video makes the case for the importance of these stories and why they revealed online journalism at its best. My conclusion:

For all its flaws, the world of online journalism proved conclusively that it was able to make a transition from covering a campaign to covering government and covering policy. And if there’s one thing that’s clear about the online journalism world’s performance in 2009, it’s that they have no intention whatsoever of functioning merely as a partisan strike force on Obama’s behalf.

Here’s the video.

It’s a big tent, but someone’s got to make sure that the left tentpoles are holding firm.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , , ,

Klipsch headquarters walkthrough: behind the scenes and between the ears

December 25th, 2009 admin No comments

Every time trade shows such as CES and CEDIA open their doors, the collective masses are flooded with headphone after headphone, speaker after speaker. After awhile, one driver looks just as round as the next, and frankly, you start to take for granted what all goes into bringing the tunes we all dig to our ears, dens and underutilized kitchens. One of the mainstays in the audio industry opened their doors up to us this past weekend, and it didn’t take much arm pulling to get us inside. We’ve generally found the design and sound qualities associated with Klipsch gear to be top-shelf, and we’ve struggled in the past to find too many gripes with the headphones and sound systems we’ve had the opportunity to review. Needless to say, we were quite curious to hear about (and see) what all goes into imagining, designing, testing and qualifying the ‘buds and speakers that we’ve enjoyed for so many years, and if you share that same level of curiosity, join us after the break for the full walkthrough (and a few heretofore unreleased secrets, to boot).

Continue reading Klipsch headquarters walkthrough: behind the scenes and between the ears

Klipsch headquarters walkthrough: behind the scenes and between the ears originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 25 Dec 2009 13:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Categories: Electronics, Technology Tags: ,

David Goldman says reunion with son, Sean, is ‘Christmas miracle’

December 25th, 2009 admin No comments

An emotional David Goldman said he’s experiencing a true “Christmas miracle” spending the holidays with his son for the first time in five years.

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Neo-Nazis stole Auschwitz death camp sign to fund terror plot: report

December 25th, 2009 admin No comments

A Swedish neo-Nazi group and ghoulish collectors are among possible suspects behind the shocking theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign from the Auschwitz concentration camp, according to reports.

Categories: Gossip Tags:

Bowe Bergdahl Taliban VIDEO: Family Plea After Taliban Releases Video Of Captive Soldier

December 25th, 2009 admin No comments

(AP) KABUL — The Taliban released a video Friday of an American soldier captured in Afghanistan, showing him apparently healthy but spouting criticism about the U.S. military operation. In Idaho, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl’s family pleaded on Christmas Day for his release and urged him to “stay strong.”

Bergdahl disappeared June 30 while based in eastern Afghanistan and is the only known American serviceman in captivity. The Taliban claimed his capture in a video released in mid-July that showed the young Idaho soldier appearing downcast and frightened. He hadn’t been heard from until Friday’s video, in which he looks well and speaks clearly.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed hours later that the man in the video was Bergdahl, but denounced both its timing and content.

“This is a horrible act which exploits a young soldier, who was clearly compelled to read a prepared statement,” said a statement from U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, ISAF’s spokesman. “To release this video on Christmas Day is an affront to the deeply concerned family and friends of Bowe Bergdahl, demonstrating contempt for religious traditions and the teachings of Islam.”

Lt. Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard issued a statement Friday from the family of Bergdahl, who live outside Hailey, Idaho. In their statement, the family urged the captors “to let our only son come home.”

And to their son, the family said, “We love you and we believe in you. Stay strong.”

Marsano met with the family Friday morning at their home. He told the AP that the family had not seen the video but had talked to other relatives who had seen it.

In the video, Bergdahl is shown seated, facing the camera, wearing sunglasses and what appears to be a U.S. military helmet and uniform. On one side of the image, it says: “An American soldier imprisoned by the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” It also shows him eating while wearing garb characteristic of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, an area where the Taliban emerged in the 1990s.

He identifies himself as Bergdahl, born in Sun Valley, Idaho, and gives his rank, birth date, blood type, his unit and mother’s maiden name before beginning a lengthy verbal attack on the U.S. conduct of the war in Afghanistan and its relations with Muslims.

In the video, Bergdahl says “It’s our arrogance and, and our stupidity that has made us so blind that we simply refuse to see the blunders and mistakes that we continue to make over and over again. “

“This is just going to be the next Vietnam unless the American people stand up and stop all this nonsense,” he said.

Although it is unclear where Bergdahl was being held when the video was recorded, he said he had not been abused by his captors and drew a sharp contrast with his own country’s treatment of war prisoners.

In light of “the brutality and inhumane way my country has ravaged the lands and the people of my captures (sic), the Taliban, one would expect that they would justly treat me as my country’s Army has treated their Muslim prisoners in Bagram, in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and many other secret prisons hidden around the world,” he said.

“But I bear witness. I was continuously treated as a human being with dignity,” he said.

The video, which has an English-language narration in parts, also shows images of prisoners in U.S. custody being abused. The speaker says he did not suffer such ill treatment.

A statement read by a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, appears at the end of the video and renews demands for a “limited number of prisoners” to be exchanged for Bergdahl. The statement says that more American troops could be captured.

The Geneva Conventions, which regulate the conduct of war between regular armies, bar the use of detainees for propaganda purposes and prohibit signatories from putting captured military personnel on display. As an insurgent organization, the Taliban are not party to the treaty.

Statements from captives are typically viewed as being made under duress.

Bergdahl, who was serving with a unit based in Fort Richardson, Alaska, was 23 when he vanished just five months after arriving in Afghanistan. He was serving at a base in Paktika province near the border with Pakistan in an area known to be a Taliban stronghold. On Friday, NATO said a joint Afghan-international force killed several militants in Paktika while searching for a commander of the Jalaluddin Haqqani militant network that is linked to al-Qaida.

U.S. military officials have searched for Bergdahl, but it is not publicly known whether he is even being held in Afghanistan or neighboring Pakistan.

___

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann in Kabul, Noor Kahn in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and John Miller in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

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Categories: World Tags: , , ,

Bowe Bergdahl Taliban VIDEO: Family Plea After Taliban Releases Video Of Captive Soldier

December 25th, 2009 admin No comments

(AP) KABUL — The Taliban released a video Friday of an American soldier captured in Afghanistan, showing him apparently healthy but spouting criticism about the U.S. military operation. In Idaho, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl’s family pleaded on Christmas Day for his release and urged him to “stay strong.”

Bergdahl disappeared June 30 while based in eastern Afghanistan and is the only known American serviceman in captivity. The Taliban claimed his capture in a video released in mid-July that showed the young Idaho soldier appearing downcast and frightened. He hadn’t been heard from until Friday’s video, in which he looks well and speaks clearly.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed hours later that the man in the video was Bergdahl, but denounced both its timing and content.

“This is a horrible act which exploits a young soldier, who was clearly compelled to read a prepared statement,” said a statement from U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, ISAF’s spokesman. “To release this video on Christmas Day is an affront to the deeply concerned family and friends of Bowe Bergdahl, demonstrating contempt for religious traditions and the teachings of Islam.”

Lt. Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard issued a statement Friday from the family of Bergdahl, who live outside Hailey, Idaho. In their statement, the family urged the captors “to let our only son come home.”

And to their son, the family said, “We love you and we believe in you. Stay strong.”

Marsano met with the family Friday morning at their home. He told the AP that the family had not seen the video but had talked to other relatives who had seen it.

In the video, Bergdahl is shown seated, facing the camera, wearing sunglasses and what appears to be a U.S. military helmet and uniform. On one side of the image, it says: “An American soldier imprisoned by the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” It also shows him eating while wearing garb characteristic of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, an area where the Taliban emerged in the 1990s.

He identifies himself as Bergdahl, born in Sun Valley, Idaho, and gives his rank, birth date, blood type, his unit and mother’s maiden name before beginning a lengthy verbal attack on the U.S. conduct of the war in Afghanistan and its relations with Muslims.

In the video, Bergdahl says “It’s our arrogance and, and our stupidity that has made us so blind that we simply refuse to see the blunders and mistakes that we continue to make over and over again. “

“This is just going to be the next Vietnam unless the American people stand up and stop all this nonsense,” he said.

Although it is unclear where Bergdahl was being held when the video was recorded, he said he had not been abused by his captors and drew a sharp contrast with his own country’s treatment of war prisoners.

In light of “the brutality and inhumane way my country has ravaged the lands and the people of my captures (sic), the Taliban, one would expect that they would justly treat me as my country’s Army has treated their Muslim prisoners in Bagram, in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and many other secret prisons hidden around the world,” he said.

“But I bear witness. I was continuously treated as a human being with dignity,” he said.

The video, which has an English-language narration in parts, also shows images of prisoners in U.S. custody being abused. The speaker says he did not suffer such ill treatment.

A statement read by a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, appears at the end of the video and renews demands for a “limited number of prisoners” to be exchanged for Bergdahl. The statement says that more American troops could be captured.

The Geneva Conventions, which regulate the conduct of war between regular armies, bar the use of detainees for propaganda purposes and prohibit signatories from putting captured military personnel on display. As an insurgent organization, the Taliban are not party to the treaty.

Statements from captives are typically viewed as being made under duress.

Bergdahl, who was serving with a unit based in Fort Richardson, Alaska, was 23 when he vanished just five months after arriving in Afghanistan. He was serving at a base in Paktika province near the border with Pakistan in an area known to be a Taliban stronghold. On Friday, NATO said a joint Afghan-international force killed several militants in Paktika while searching for a commander of the Jalaluddin Haqqani militant network that is linked to al-Qaida.

U.S. military officials have searched for Bergdahl, but it is not publicly known whether he is even being held in Afghanistan or neighboring Pakistan.

___

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann in Kabul, Noor Kahn in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and John Miller in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

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Categories: World Tags: , , ,

Southern States Losing Population As Recession Alters Migration Patterns, According To U.S. Census Bureau Data

December 25th, 2009 admin No comments

The recession has had a profound effect on migration patterns in the U.S., reversing the flow of people to former housing-boom states such as Florida and Nevada, the latest data from the Census Bureau show.

In the year ending July 1, 2009, Florida — once the top draw for Americans in search of work and warmer climes — lost more than 31,000 residents to other states, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday. Nevada lost nearly 4,000. The numbers are small compared with the states’ populations, but they reflect a significant change in direction: In the year ending July 2006, Florida and Nevada attracted net inflows 141,448 and 41,640 people, respectively.

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Southern States Losing Population As Recession Alters Migration Patterns, According To U.S. Census Bureau Data

December 25th, 2009 admin No comments

The recession has had a profound effect on migration patterns in the U.S., reversing the flow of people to former housing-boom states such as Florida and Nevada, the latest data from the Census Bureau show.

In the year ending July 1, 2009, Florida — once the top draw for Americans in search of work and warmer climes — lost more than 31,000 residents to other states, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday. Nevada lost nearly 4,000. The numbers are small compared with the states’ populations, but they reflect a significant change in direction: In the year ending July 2006, Florida and Nevada attracted net inflows 141,448 and 41,640 people, respectively.

More on Economy


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