"At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith," the pontiff asserted, and cited Christian communities suffering from violence and intolerance particularly in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Holy Land. "This situation is intolerable, since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity" as well as "a threat to security and peace," Benedict wrote in one of the 17-page-long message's strongest passages. He appealed to authorities to "act promptly to end every injustice" against Christians. Benedict didn't cite countries, but in past years church officials have lamented that Christians — most of them migrant workers — are forbidden to worship in Saudi Arabia. He blasted what he called "more sophisticated forms of hostility to religion, which, in Western countries, occasionally find expression in a denial of history and the rejection of religious symbols which reflect the identity and the culture of the majority of its citizens."
As Benen points out, the Republicans are blocking healthcare for the 9/11 heroes. But the heroes are also blaming the Democrats for some reason:
Responders blame [Republicans] most, but are getting tired of Democrats putting it all on the GOP -- noting Democrats control the Senate, where New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is in charge of policy.
"I simply cannot fathom that a Democratic-controlled House, Senate and White House cannot get our bill passed," [John Feal, founder of the Feal Good Foundation] said.
And you know what? I blame the Democrats, too. But not for the same reason. The Democrats ought to be on TV everywhere screaming about this like maniacs, and so this misunderstanding persists. Where's the president on this one?
Ezra Klein makes the distinction between deficit hawks and deficit frauds.
The deficit frauds are the folks who use deficits for short-term political gain: This year, they've mainly been Republicans who opposed unemployment benefits because they'd add $56 billion to the deficit but demanded tax cuts that would add $4 trillion to the deficit. And they've been empowered not by Peterson's money or even the climate in Washington, but by the fact that people get very anxious about the deficit when the economy slows, as it's a number that they think helps explain the economic problems even as it mainly tracks them, and because a misplaced analogy to the European debt crises has made our deficit look scarier than it actually is.
Matt Yglesias prefers referring to deficit frauds as deficit peacocks. That works for me.
Never hear about this in the media, but those damn homos sure are going to f*** things up for everyone.
DENVER — Sexual assault reports at the three U.S. military academies rose 64 percent in the 2009-10 academic year, but many more victims probably didn't come forward, the Defense Department said Wednesday.
A total of 41 sexual assaults involving students were reported to authorities at West Point, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy in 2009-10, the department said in its annual report on sexual harassment and violence.
In the previous academic year, 25 were reported.
Officials point to a survey of students at the three academies taken last spring as well as statistics from the civilian population as indicators that the reported sexual assaults represent fewer than 10 percent of all types of unwanted sexual contact, ranging from fondling to intercourse.
It wasn't immediately clear what percentage of the respondents had reported behavior that would qualify as a sexual assault.
U.S. Justice Department officials were trying to determine whether Assange encouraged or helped Private Bradley Manning extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system, the newspaper said.
If he did, officials believe Assange could be charged as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the case.
Nouri al-Maliki's claim, reported in the cables, that Chevron was in discussions with the Iranian government will raise eyebrows in Europe and other parts of the world where international companies have come under significant pressure from Washington to end investments and other financial dealings with Tehran.
Chevron declined to either confirm or deny that it had been in contact with Iran, and confined its reaction to a statement saying it had not done, and would not do, anything in violation of US law
Those Tea Partiers are spinning in their graves so fast they could generate electricity over the stupid things today's teabaggers are doing in their name.
For the defense industry, dumb wars are the best ones because they create more problems than they solve, assuring future sales of weapons and services. A great example of this bad policy propaganda machine in action occurred in the winter of 2002, when the Taliban had been defeated in Afghanistan and there was a chance to install a credible government. Then the defense industry helped fund the campaign to convince Americans they needed to divert resources from Afghanistan to launch a preemptive strike against Iraq. Eight years later, Afghanistan is in utter chaos, yet think tank scholars assure us that we can still "win" the war as long as we pursue Gen. David Petraeus' counter-insurgency strategy.
From the vantage of the boardroom of a defense contractor, the Afghan war is a good war. It destabilized much of the Middle East and southern Asia, including nuclear-armed Pakistan. It has created tens of thousands of new enemies for the United States — people who had no beef with us until we invaded their country and killed their relatives. Most of our new enemies are too poor to pose any immediate threat. But they will be targets for recruitment into terror groups, thus assuring future dangers, more war and unsustainable levels of military spending.Yet waste it we will as long as there's money in it for the few.
Many, including George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower, have warned of the danger to republican liberty posed by massive standing armies and unchecked military spending. One of the most eloquent scholars on this topic, Chalmers Johnson, passed away in November. Johnson warned of the inherent instability of a political system that seeks to combine domestic democracy and foreign imperialism. The final volume of his seminal treatise on militarism is titled, The Last Days of the American Republic. If his analysis is correct, we have no time to waste.
[Y]ou may have heard that the US is operating drones down on the Mexican border. But now it turns out the Mexicans are running their own drones along the US border. And one of them crashed this week into a backyard in El Paso.Expect more Churchillian rhetoric from the right:
In 2013 and beyond, though, all bets are off. If the Mexican government cannot contain the violence in that country, or more bloodshed occurs on the U.S. side of the border, either the Mexican government may request humanitarian aide, or the U.S. would be justified in acting unilaterally to go into Mexico to end the drug cartels' brutal terrorism (it's not like it hasn't happened before). In fact, if the violence on the U.S. side of the border does not cease, or escalates further, whomever is sitting in the oval office will be hard pressed not to go into Mexico.
Nation Build or Annex Mexico?
The question then become what to do afterward. Is the U.S. ready for another protracted foray into nation building? Or, in the alternative, does Mexico enter the United States as the 51st state?
Blackwater -- it started calling itself "Xe Services" after some of their mercenaries murdered a bunch of civilians in Nissour Square on September 16, 2007 as they escorted personnel from the State Department through Baghdad.
That event was the one that thrust the company into the public eye and drew them much unwanted scrutiny and earned itself a dark reputation and eventually pariah status. As the steady drip-drip-drip of negative stories came out about the company, Hillary Clinton's State Department threatened to cut off contracts with the company so long as he owned it, Erik Prince found himself testifying before Congress, and he decided soon after that he should put the company on the auction block and relocate the family to a desert compound in Abu Dhabi.
And now the company is selling. To a group of his buddies. After it's been up for sale for months on end. And he is carrying the note.
I'm not so sure about that, and neither is anyone else with two neurons to rub together. Especially the other bidders.
...questions remain about Mr. Prince's continuing relationship with the company. While he is expected to step down from any management or operational role, he will have a financial interest in the company's future, according to people briefed on the negotiations. As part of the deal, he will be paid an "earn out," or a payment that depends on the company's financial performance over the next several years, these people said.
One of the lead investors in the deal is Jason DeYonker of Forté Capital Advisors, who has a long relationship with Mr. Prince and Blackwater. He helped advise Mr. Prince in his development of Blackwater's business plan when the company was founded and helped negotiate the company's first training contracts with United States government agencies and the company's expansion of its training center in Moyock, N.C. In addition, he managed the Prince family's money from 1998 to 2002. The other lead investor is Manhattan Growth Partners, a private equity firm in New York.
Exact terms of the deal could not be learned, but people involved in the talks said the transaction was worth about $200 million. Bank of America led the financing of the transaction, these people said.
On second thought, maybe I was wrong with the title.
He isn't so much selling the company as he is simply auctioning off yet another piece of his soul as he maneuvers to satisfy the letter of the State Department's requirement he sell, while keeping himself involved in the unholy murderous enterprise he created in his own image.
That is the assumption that I am going with, anyway, because no one who had a mother who gave them any raisin' at all acts like the republican asshats in the Senate.
Republicans will paralyze the Senate floor for 50 hours by forcing clerks to read every single paragraph of the 1,924-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.
Senate clerks are expected to read the massive bill in rotating shifts around the clock - taking breaks to drink water and pop throat lozenges - to keep legislative business on track, according to a Democratic leadership aide.
The bill is so long that it took the Government Printing Office two days to print it.
The Senate is currently debating the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty. It is expected to take up the omnibus spending bill on a separate and parallel track later Thursday.
If Republicans follow through on their threat, legislative business couldn't resume until late Saturday in order to give the staff enough time to read the bill aloud, according to a Democratic leadership estimate.
Jim DeMint, the idiotic, inbred douchebag from South Carolina -- who gets credit for the Senate remaining in Democratic control by backing people more insane and extreme than himself -- is proud of the fact that he is obstructing everything to the bitter end, bragging that he is trying to "run out the clock." He sure does know how to throw a hissy-fit that would make the most high-strung and histrionic southern belle blush. "If they bring this yo, they're going to read it," he said defiantly, jutting that weak chin of his out as far as it would go on that chicken neck of his. "Again, we're trying to run out the clock. They should not be able to pass this kind of legislation in a lame-duck Congress."
Of course, it is being taken up in the lame duck session because the asshat republicans have filibustered everything, including lunch, since the 111th Congress was seated in January of 2009.
And even if that wasn't the case, his feigned offense at the people who are leaving making decisions right up to the day their offices expire would still smell of rank hypocrisy. Some of us pay attention, and we remember that the republicans who took a whooping in 1998 impeached Bill Clinton on December 19 -- in a lame duck session of Congress.
So Jim DeMint can go fuck himself.
For most Americans, Christmas is that special time when you gather your remaining pennies, find your way to the local 7-Eleven to finish your Christmas shopping and pray that, when you return home, the Baby Jesus left a job/house/car under your tree. But if you live in Washington, D.C. — a city that was just proclaimed to be wealthiest and most educated in the nation — there's nothing like Christmas! It's been Christmas since Halloween, but now it's really actually almost Christmas. So go out and spend money, D.C., yes?
How to spend Christmas in D.C.: http://wonkette.com/432573/gratuituous-celebrations-of-jesus#more-432573