The Occupy Houston camp at Tranquility Park was cleared out this evening by the Houston Police Department at the order of Mayor Annise Parker. (Above–An Occupy Houston photo from the end of the Tranquility Park camp in Downtown Houston.) It was a peaceful process. Here is the press release on this matter from Mayor Parker. [...]
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Spencer Ackerman writes:
The way out of Afghanistan for the U.S. depends on Afghan soldiers and cops? ability to secure their own country. Yet the Pentagon is cutting funding for those Afghan forces by nearly half.Ten years. 2886 American and Allied fatalities. Many times that many maimed. A vast but uncounted number of Afghans and Pakistanis, mostly civilians, dead and maimed. No overall tally of the number of private contractors killed. At least half a trillion dollars in direct costs for the war. Not including costs of future medical care or interest on the debt from borrowing to pay for the war or any calculation for lost opportunities in the civilian economy.
Tucked in the Pentagon?s $88.5 billion budget for war funding for the next year is a request for $5.7 billion for the Afghan National Security Forces. That?s down from the $11.2 billion that Congress approved for the last fiscal year. Which is kind of odd, since the President explicitly tied the withdrawal of American troops to the build-up of their Afghan counterparts.
?Our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead,? President Obama said in June. ?By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security." [...]
But there?s a long, long way to go with the Afghan forces. Most are either illiterate or can barely read. Only one percent of Afghan battalions can fight on their own. The general formerly in charge of training those forces believes the U.S. will have to mentor them until 2017 ? but NATO and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced last week that the U.S.-led coalition plans on turning combat over to them next year.
And what exactly was accomplished?
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2007:
After months of accusations, this weekend the Bush administration finally unveiled their proof that Iran has been supplying weapons to Shiite extremists in Iraq. Of course that proof was in the form of anonymous spokesmen, and photographs or videotaping of the evidence was forbidden, but hey, you go to press with the information you're spoonfed, not the information you'd like. And so it was reported that:
...officials displayed mortar shells, rocket-propelled grenades and a powerful cylindrical bomb, capable of blasting through an armored Humvee, that they said were manufactured in Iran and supplied to Shiite militias in Iraq for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops.
Buried in the article was the fact that, "...officials offered no evidence to substantiate allegations that the "highest levels" of the Iranian government had sanctioned support for attacks against U.S. troops" [...]
Hope everyone severely enjoys their Valentine's Day.
Don't forget: we have Rob Zerban who's vying for Paul Ryan's seat here for a live chat at 11:00 am Pacific/2:00 pm Eastern.
Open thread below...
For what it?s worth, I have zero problem with people buying each other gifts or going out for a nice meal, if that?s what turns your crank. I have a major, major problem with yet another potentially sweet holiday being turned into a festival of misogyny[...]
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There's no clear proof yet that any of Mitt Romney's offshore accounts helped him avoid (even entirely legally) US taxes. But if it is ever is proven, he could have a problem with a recent comment in Maine. Pressed on the question of offshore accounts[...]
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Oh my! It seems my girl Whitney had quite a few admirers all over the world.
"Terror mastermind Osama bin Laden is so obsessed with singer Whitney Houston he thought about killing her husband, Bobby Brown, it was claimed last night.
"The suggestion is made by Sudanese poet and novelist Kola Boof, who claims she was bin Laden's sex slave for four months 10 years ago.
In her autobiography, Diary of a Lost Girl, she writes: "He told me Whitney Houston was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen."
Boof, 37, who claims bin Laden raped her and held her prisoner in a Moroccan hotel, says he could not stop talking about the songbird, even though he disapproved of music.
"Osama kept coming back to Whitney Houston," she says in the book, excerpted in the magazine Harpers' Bazaar. "He asked if I knew her personally when I lived in America. I told him I didn't.
"He said that he had a paramount desire for Whitney Houston, and although he claimed music was evil he spoke of someday spending vast amounts of money to go to America and try to arrange a meeting with the superstar.
"It didn't seem impossible to me. He said he wanted to give Whitney Houston a mansion that he owned in a suburb of Khartoum.
"He explained to me that to possess Whitney he would be willing to break his colour rule and make her one of his wives.
"Whitney Houston's name was the one that would be mention constantly.
"How beautiful she was, what a nice smile she has, how truly Islamic she is but is just brainwashed by American culture and by her husband Bobby Brown, whom Osama talked about having killed, as if it were normal to have women's husbands killed." [Source] (h/t to Susan)
Damn, OBL had more love for Whitney that some of the racist mofos in this country. (And people wonder why I despise FOX and everything they represent so much.)
Anyway, tonight I want to blog about the "occupy woman's vagina" folks who have hijacked this contraception debate. Because we all know that blocking a woman's right to reproductive services is the republican thing to do.
President Obama, much to my displeasure, compromised with the Catholic Church in this debate. I hate to break it to him, but if he thought that the folks who are trying to score cheap political brownie points from this would back off, he would be wrong. And the Catholic Church certainly isn't giving any ground. (Why should they? It's not like we are talking about pedophile priests or anything.)
"It's still clear that President Obama does not understand this isn't about cost--it's about who controls the religious views of faith-based institutions," Blunt said in a released statement. "President Obama believes that he should have that control. Our constitution states otherwise."
And who should have the control over a woman's body? If a------ fill in your religion other than Catholic--- woman chooses to work for a Catholic hospital or university and wants to buy birth control pills for whatever, are you telling me that she shouldn't be allowed because she works for a Catholic institution? (One that most likely gets some kind of public funding.) What about individual freedoms in this country? If a non Seventh Day Adventist man works for Andrews University and wants to buy a bucket of chicken in Berrien Springs, Michigan on a Saturday night, are you telling me that he shouldn't be allowed to because Adventist don't believe in eating meat? And if the poor guy gets a heart attack because of his love for the Colonel's cooking, are you saying that the Seventh Day Adventist health plan shouldn't have to pay for his hospital visit to clear out his arteries? Should an employer who is Jehovah's Witness be allowed to deny blod transfusions to one of his or her employees? Of course not. We all know a stretch when we see one.
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church and their political soul-mates are trying to pull a fast one on the American people. This is not about religious freedom, it's about religious tyranny. Do you honestly believe that if men had to give birth to children we would even be having this debate?
I love what Wendy Kaminer wrote in The Atlantic:
"What accounts for the rhetorical excesses of the Catholic Church and its advocates on the campaign trail and in the media? They reflect some genuine outrage, no doubt. But, in part, the rhetoric is an organizing tool (which may succeed in wresting new concessions from the administration). And in part, it reflects larger rhetorical trends: We inhabit a culture of hyperbole, especially during election years. Every argument is a gunfight (to which someone mistakenly brings a knife), every gunfight is a war, and every war a potential apocalypse.
Still, while the fate of American civilization doesn't depend on this debate about the obligations of church-affiliated institutions to abide by secular law, the stakes are relatively high. As government workers are laid off and government programs shrink, the public role of private, tax-exempt non-profits expands. The stronger their right to dispense public funds and deliver public services according to sectarian religious dictates, the weaker our rights to a non-sectarian public sphere. It's a zero-sum game." [Source]
I disagree with her about one thing: the outrage expressed by church officials might be genuine, but the outrage expressed by the poli-tricksters rallying around this issue are as phony as a W's cowboy persona.
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*updated below* It was the weirdest one-on-one back and forth with a high profile talking head imaginable. It makes high school look mature. It began with a Joe Scarborough blast of venom and didn’t let up until he’d finished unloading. Just[...]
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Alzheimer's is one of the biggest areas of focus for Big Pharma, as the numbers of sick are due to increase rapidly in the coming years. Any breakthrough will enormous, so this is encouraging news. BBC News:
Destructive plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients have been rapidly cleared by researchers testing a cancer drug on mice. The US study, published in the journal Science, reported the plaques were broken down at "unprecedented" speed. Tests also showed an improvement in some brain function.
Adele performing her well-deserved multi-Grammy winning song "Rolling in the Deep" at last night's Grammy Awards
When we first started our GOP superdelegate list, we did not treat TX differently from most other states, and even had TX State Chairman Steve Munisteri as an endorser for Rick Perry. However, we subsequently removed TX, (along with some other states), from the superdelegate list, based on the Texas Republican General Rules for All Conventions and Meeting, October 2011, Section 38.8.f, which says:
The total Texas delegation of delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention shall be proportional to the statewide presidential primary vote, as provided for in this rule.
Seems clear, right? "Total" means "total", right? But today, Munisteri said no, he is a superdelegate:
With Texas' primary date up in the air, there's a question about how important the state will be to the GOP nominating process. One sign of the uncertainty may be that Munisteri's telephone has been curiously silent on at least one front since Perry got out of the presidential race.
Munisteri had supported Perry's White House bid but now is undecided. What's more, he's a super-delegate."
I wouldn't have expected anybody to call me while Perry was running because I was very publicly for Perry, but I would have thought the campaigns would have made efforts to contact the supporters of the candidates that dropped out, especially supporters that are automatically guaranteed delegate spots," Munisteri said. "Maybe I just don't understand campaigns. I must be missing something."
So we did some more research, and found two things. First, the General Rules, cited above, also says in Section 38.7.b:
At the State Convention, the National Nominations Committee shall meet to select nominees for all at-large delegates and alternate delegates, and consider the recommended names of members of the Congressional District Caucuses for possible selection as National Convention Delegates and Alternates. Those individuals who have access to the floor of the National Convention by virtue of their office shall be prohibited for selection as an at-large national delegate, by the National Nominations Committee.
So the superdelegates are not considered "at-large delegates".
We also found meeting minutes of the TX GOP (h/t Green Papers), which says:
Under the new rule, presidential candidates will be allocated national convention delegates in direct proportion to the statewide popular vote they receive in the Texas Republican Primary on March 6, 2012. However, to ensure that local leadership continues to have significant input in the selection of delegates, 3 delegates per Congressional district will still be selected. With 36 Congressional districts, this means that 108 of the state's 155 delegates will be selected by individual Congressional districts. 3 delegate spots are reserved for the National Committeeman, National Committeewoman and State Chairman, pursuant to national party rules. The remaining 44 delegates will be selected at-large by a nominating committee at the convention.
The evidence is clear, so we have restored Texas's 3 superdelegates to our list. Memo to the Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul campaigns: Steve Munisteri, Bill Crocker and Borah Van Dormolen are waiting for your call.