Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

  • MacLean’s: Shocking article about NATO compensation schemes for civilian deaths in Afghanistan. It’s a business. Compensation for one tragedy was $20,000 and a new car, whereas for another death, it was just $210. That NATO forces are able to put a dollar value on human life through bargaining is proof of the devastating and dehumanizing effects this war is having. End it now before any more blood ends up on our hands.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, HuffPo: Visualizing what America’s armies hath wrought in Iraq: 100-150k dead civilians, 2 million refugees abroad, 2 million displaced persons domestically.  If you had any illusions about this empire being a liberal or ennobling one (contradiction in terms), they must be shredded by now.
  • The Globe & Mail: In news that should shock no one, a Kelowna (B.C.) Mountie kicked the hell out of a suspect. You can watch the video yourself. Eyewitnesses report that the suspect, Buddy Tavares, was complying with the officer. Cops are not your friend.
  • Juan Cole: We already knew about Jawaher Abu Rahmah, the Palestinian woman killed by Israeli tear gas recently. Add to the list of Israel’s victims the names of Anas Salih (died in Gaza after being denied the exit visa he needed to get medical treatment) and Omar al-Qawasmeh (innocent man murdered in his home in a case of mistaken identity). The occupation must end.
  • Glenn Greenwald: Writing about the “climate of fear” the American government has created in the minds of its citizens. I used to study totalitarian regimes. Many scholars agreed that the worst kind of censorship they exercised was the self-censorship that went on in the fear-wracked minds of their citizens. This self-censorship is now here in America. Progress!
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Guess what–stupid anti-meth laws had the unintended consequences of making the meth trade far more profitable and seeing a boost in meth use. But hey, at least those kneejerk laws that make you feel like a criminal when you go to buy cough medicine kept some old lady without an ID from getting the Nyquil she wanted.
  • NYT: Do not forget the name “Nasrin Sotoudeh.” She is a human rights lawyer in Iran who has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, disbarred, and (my favorite) banned from leaving Iran for 20 years. “You are such an awful criminal that…we cannot bear to have you leave us!” What a vile place. Sotoudeh’s “crime” was talking to the foreign media.
  • National Post: In this time of governmental austerity, the Canadian government has somehow found additional money to expand their prison capacity. To be fair, Canada’s incarceration rate is much lower than America’s. This move still repulses me. At best, it is a cynical way to “create jobs,” never mind the fact that building more jail cells creates a powerful incentive to fill them. At worst, it is a declaration of faith in the untruth that locking more people in cages makes a better society. It doesn’t.
  • Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy: Post on the Illinois budget crisis, where income taxes may be jacked up to cover a deficit. I don’t have a strong position on the budget crisis. What I do have a strong position on is oft-quoted beltway “libertarian” Megan McArdle, who wrote, “Whether or not you think these programs should exist, they do now, and you can’t simply throw people off who planned their lives around them.” Time to write that loser out of the libertarian movement.
  • Via Thomas DiLorenzo, Anne Applebaum: It’s not often a mag like Foreign Policy prints an article titled “Homeland Security Hasn’t Made Us Safer,” so relish it for now. After unmasking the fact that DHS is a porkbarrel subsidy program, Applebaum writes, “As for the TSA, I am not aware of a single bomber or bomb plot stopped by its time-wasting procedures.” Amen.
  • Via Liberale et Libertaire: “Serious” and “respected” pundit Matt Yglesias recently called for the U.S. to institute a gendarmerie system (as he put it, “a quasi-military federal organization specialized in police/security functions rather than finding and killing bad guys per se.”) Sweet Jesus! As if the thing that this horrid little police state needs to get it going again is more cops with more power.
  • MacLean’s: This article about drunk driving nearly made me cry. In each case discussed, a drunk driver killed a beloved passenger. In each case, the family of the dead victim asked for clemency for the drunk driver, a friend of their lost loved one. In each case, Leviathan said, “Down, slave! I know what is best for this society,” and promptly threw the book at the offenders. No respect for the dead.
  • Cienna Madrid at The Stranger: Blogging from day two of the inquest into the murder death of half-deaf woodcarver John T. Williams at the hands of SPD Ofc. Ian Birk. A homicide investigator apparently tried to claim that the legal-sized whittling knife Birk claimed Williams had open but was found closed at the crime scene somehow magically closed itself when Williams dropped it. Mmmm-hmm. Then Birk took the stand to admit that he never called for back-up in 10-second confrontation that ended with Williams dead on the pavement. Birk has the gall to claim Williams looked at him threateningly, even though dashcam footage shows the perpetually drunk Williams shuffling across the street in a pitiful and harmless enough way that other pedestrians continued to walk towards him. It can’t happen in this inquest, but I look forward to the day Birk faces murder charges.
  • NYT: Israeli bloggers question their government’s use of tear gas following the tragic death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah. Awesome work, bloggers. It is a powerful and important thing for the world to understand that not all Israelis support the brutal thuggery and murder carried out in their name.
  • NYT: The Russian opposition thought they had a way around the country’s absurd permit process for protests–sending out protesters willing to stand an approved distance away from each other. Now pro-Kremlin groups are counter-picketing the solo protesters by standing near them, just to get them arrested. Of course, the cops are not arresting the pro-Kremlin folks. Vile.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: In case you still thought NAFTA was really a free trade agreement, did you know Mexican truckers have been banned from driving in the U.S. since 2009? This then led to punitive tariffs from Mexico. Sounding like free trade, right? Well, Obama might be about to address the situation, but not without the noxious Teamsters warning us how awful that would be for America.
  • NYT: My, my, the Israelis are bloodthirsty lately–the latest allegation is that they killed a 65-year-old Gazan man on his farm…for getting too close to the security fence. Of course, Palestinians responded with violence of their own.
  • NYT: The post-election crackdown in Belarus is getting worse. Lukashenko’s rotten state is now trying to place Danil Sannikov, the 3-year-old son of (arrested) opposition leader Andrei Sannikov and his (arrested) journalist wife Irina Khalip, in an orphanage. Never mind that his grandmother has been appointed to care for him! How dare Lukashenko bring innocent children into his bloodsport.
  • Daily Anarchist: Another “ugh” moment from this (formerly good) blog–author Seth King says that it is right to milk the state for benefits. Why? “Only then will the productive class begin to realize that paying taxes is for chumps.” Also, “you are not responsible for its theft because you never condone forced wealth redistribution.” Whatever helps you sleep at night after you’ve spent your ill-gained food stamps, Seth. Shameful.
  • Brendan Kiley at The Stranger: The fourth (and last) installment in an awesome investigative series on the drug war. Kiley comes to the conclusion that the best thing to do is legalize all drugs. This is very good. The only problem is this statement: “The only way out is to legalize—and regulate—everything.” Regulate it? Why? Just let people put what they want into their bodies and face the consequences. If they don’t like the risk, then don’t ingest the drug or create a private testing organization to give them the safety they want. Even if I disagree with regulating, it’s a great and invaluable piece of writing.

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Well, it’s been too long again, dear readers. I return to coverage with another large accumulation of internet curiosities to share with you.

  • Glenn Greenwald: Meet Jacob Appelbaum, the Free Bradley Manning advocate who was stopped at customs on his return from Mexico and had all of his electronics confiscated. He wouldn’t give up the encryption keys, but the bottom line is that thousands of dollars in property have not been returned to him in more than four months. All because he visited Bradley Manning in jail. But hey, this isn’t a police state, guys!
  • The Vienna Review: Vienna’s famous and beloved coffee shops are under assault thanks to Austria’s adherence to EU-wide anti-smoking directives. Fascism is worse on national level than a local level, worse on a transnational level than a national level, and worst on a global level. We’re already to the transnational point. How long until we reach the global one? It is repulsive to see private property owners told how they can define owner-client relationships based on mutual consent, but even more sickening when it involves beloved cultural institutions.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: The FDA is proposing to mandate the addition of graphic illustrations of cancer patients to cigarette packaging. Burn in hell, you losers! Even if you hate smoking, you should hate even more the spectacle of a bunch of useless bureaucrats trying to make themselves relevant by thinking up new ways to punish private corporations that sell products to adults.
  • Via LewRockwell.com, Orlando Sentinel: It’s an old story at this point, but Orlando cops decided to “protect and serve” by arresting barbers at unlicensed shops. In one case, 14 armed thugs raided one shop. Does that make you feel tough, you bullies? They arrested 37 barbers in all. I guess it is nice that the state decided to be so blatant in playing their role in their symbiotic relationship with the licensed barber cartel.
  • NYT: God, I wish this was a joke–Britain is now going to require the recording of all conversations conducted on the work cellphones of investment bankers and traders. This is like if the Stasi moved to modern-day Britain and wanted to monitor phone calls, but they were too lazy so they subcontracted the work out to the employers of the relevant people. Predictably, people aren’t up in arms because they hate bankers that much. The bad news is this is a gross extension of the surveillance state. The good news is that it will be laughably easy to circumvent. Stupid statists, always a step too slow.
  • NYT: A Michigan town is seeking donations to its budget from non-profits in its jurisdiction. I like that they are at least not being coercive about it, but here’s a better idea for how to balance your city  budget: fire people! Lots of them. In fact, fire all of them.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, StopTheDrugWar.org: A couple had their newborn taken away by protective services goons for five days because the mother submitted a positive drug test. A lot of people are angry because she tested positive due to a poppy seed bagel. I’m angry that mothers are getting children taking away for drug test results at all! Do you really think smoking a bowl makes someone a bad parent? If yes, this is the wrong blog for you.
  • NYT: I didn’t even read this story about NATO deciding to extend their stay in Afghanistan until at least 2014. I began seething as soon as I saw the photo of a beaming Karzai sitting across a table from the gleeful warmongers Obama and Petraeus. Of course Karzai is smiling! He is now guaranteed four more years as the mayor of Kabul, four more years of secret cash from Iran, four more years of secret cash being stored in Dubai, four more years of protection for his dope-baron half-brother in Kandahar. And for Obama and Petraeus, well, they get to continue to see American teenagers killed and killing innocents in a foreign land. What could make an imperialist happier?
  • William Grigg: Grigg always does the best police brutality write-ups–“the city’s most violent street gang —  the El Paso Police Department.” In this case, an El Paso cop, sirens off, cut off a man who wrecked his motorcycle into him. The man was grievously injured and also got charged with evading arrest. The cop served a brief paid administrative leave and is now up for promotion. It’s their country, we just live in it.
  • The Globe & Mail: Poor Canadian PM Stephen Harper said he “didn’t really want to do it, but felt compelled to bend” and keep Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan beyond his original deadline. Poor Steve! This spineless coward should be embarrassed to even spout such intelligence-insulting muck. What we are doing in Afghanistan is wrong. Shame on Harper for going along with it, whether it’s because he’s a lapdog of American imperialism or because he wanted to coopt soft imperialist liberal interventionist Michael Ignatieff’s position.
  • The Globe & Mail: Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour is being held on a death sentence in Iran…for allegedly running a porn site. “Allegedly” is key–his confession was coerced. He’s already been in jail since October 2008. He could yet be killed for something that, at worst, was an expression of free speech and, at best, he didn’t even do.
  • NYT: Briton Paul Chambers was found guilty of causing a “menace” and fined $4,800 for a joke he made on Twitter. He made the mistake of joking about bombing an airport. That might be a stupid thing to do, but it’s an expression of free speech that only a bunch of terrorist-obsessed loony tunes like the Anglo-American governments would bother to violate. And don’t even think of mentioning Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. or I might vomit.
  • St. Petersburg Times: In late summer, Russia banned the once-ubiquitous currency exchange booths. It made me angry at the time, so I am glad to see that the entrepreneurs behind the booths basically just found a loophole and spit in the state’s eye. Good for them!
  • Der Spiegel: Earlier reports were that Namibian airport officials had found a luggage bomb sent from Germany. Nope! Turns out that it was one of the state’s own test bombs. Part of me wants to laugh at the ineptitude of these fools, but a much larger part of me is angry because I know that it was the first headline that mattered, not the later correction. People have been scared again, lost rights will probably follow.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: My new home state of Washington banned the caffeinated beer drink Four Loko recently. Basically, some kids got sick at a party and annoying public health bullies talked about how dangerous the drink was, so now an entire state of people won’t have the option of buying this beverage because three old hags on our state’s Liquor Control Board decided it was dangerous. I hate these kneejerkers who just think they are giving the people what they want. Stand up for freedom, you scum!
  • Pat Buchanan: Taking on Helicopter Ben’s massive campaign of inflation Quantitative Easing II. It’s too bad Buchanan quotes Sarah Palin, but he did have this one really great section–

    But “sit on cash” is a definition of saving. Is saving bad? Once, Americans were taught that saving was a good thing.

    Not to Krugman. He wants to panic the public into believing the money they have put into savings accounts and CDs will be rapidly eaten up by Fed-created inflation, so they will run out and spend that money now to get the economy moving again.

    Whatever the economics of this, the morality of it is appalling.

  • Glenn Greenwald: Vintage Greenwald–if giving terrorists civilian trials was about restoring the Constitution and getting rid of the Bush legacy, does Obama’s recent decision to put off indefinitely Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s civilian trial mean he is violating the Constitution? It’s pretty appalling to see how the Left went from being totally anti-torture under Bush to pro-torture, pro-naked scanners, pro-everything under Obama. This isn’t a partisan issue.
  • St. Petersburg Times: Just ignore the title (“Russia Could Have Been China”–like being a corporate fascist state would be a good thing) and this is a great piece. It’s a debunking of all the people who say dumb things like, “Oh, what Stalin did was horrible, but it was the only way to get Russia over the hump and into modernity.” Did Stalin kill a ton of slave laborers in building things like the Moscow Metro, the dam at Dnipropetrovsk, and the Belomorkanal? Yeah, and those things did get built. But was that the only way they could have been built? Hell no. Late imperial Russia was actually one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

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  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Radley Balko: Tupelo, Miss. judge Talmadge Littlejohn sends an attorney to jail for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in court. Oh my God. This is our country. Leaving alone the fact that the Pledge of Allegiance is a sickening little exercise in nationalist-slave conditioning, this judge should be locked up for contempt of his own court. Contact him here.
  • Via Lew Rockwell, Atlanta tv: TSA thugs launch a counterterrorism raid against an Atlanta bus station. The reason? “Officials told Channel 2’s Eric Philips there is no particular threat sparking the surge in activity, just their desire to ward off any potential attacks.” Translated, that says “preemptive fear-mongering.” The only criminals  in that bus station were these sick freaks with the badges and the guns. Leave our country alone!
  • Glenn Greenwald: highlighting the sad case of Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al-Janko, a Syrian man we tortured and knowingly detained as innocent for over seven years. He is suing the U.S. government, but Glenn’s right–we know this will end with another invocation of state secrets. If you are one of the bureaucrats who helped keep this man in jail, you weren’t just doing your job. You don’t get that excuse. You were complicit in ruining a man’s life. If there is a hell, you will rot in it.
  • Maclean’s: Canadian municipalities start banning longboards. Border town White Rock, B.C. sounds to be the most repugnant. An art student was killed riding such a board in July, and now senior citizens have been complaining to the mayor about how frightened they are of the boards. Oh, we wouldn’t want you to be scared! Oh, we wouldn’t want you to risk your life as you see fit! Instead we will take away your rights. It’s for your own good, children! Now kneel down and thank your master!
  • The Globe & Mail: covering the Burmese “election” process. It’s a fixed “election” that will just make the awful junta feel more legitimate. But unlike Venezuela, the Burmese opposition is being smart and boycotting it. Never, ever let the devils ruining your lives think they do it with your consent or any shred of moral legitimacy. Some day they will pay for what they have done.
  • NYT: profiling an English village that has become a mecca for swingers and public sex fans. This is just such an English story. There’s the woman who found a sex toy in the bushes and asked the police to book it into the lost and found. And then, from a 71-year-old woman: “I think we should just let them get on with it.” Wait, you mean you don’t want to stop consenting adults from doing something that poses no harm to you? Crazy! I don’t like the creepy Big Brother stuff the UK has done lately, but you have to admire this old-school British spirit of tolerance.
  • Daniel Larison in The Week: calling for the end of NATO. Awesome. It can’t stop expanding. The Warsaw Pact is long gone. It gives irresponsible American foreign policy and military hacks an automatic team of allies to help back up our disastrous policies abroad. Get rid of this beast before they go and do something really stupid like invite Georgia to join.
  • Pat Buchanan: outlining the poisonous effects of welfare on families. According to Buchanan, one in five New Yorkers receives food stamps. And we wonder why people are so irresponsible.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: celebrating the Nobel Lit Prize victory of the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, who actually has quite a libertarian pedigree. He even wrote two essays for Reason: #1, #2. I’m a bit wary because most South American neoliberals tend to end up being quite statist, but it’s automatically better than the late, nasty Portuguese commie Jose Saramago having won.
  • Katerine Mangu-Ward at Reason: highlighting a piece on Canada’s exercise in fiscal discipline under the Liberal governments of the late 1990s. Worth clicking through just for the graph that shows real cuts of nearly 20% across the board in just a two year span. Again, cutting government inefficiency is nice, but it’s not even close to the total elimination of the state that we need.
  • Moscow Times:  Moscow gossip columnist Bozhena Rynska might face up to seven years in jail for hooliganism charges after she tased a vile abuser who put his hand down her pants in a nightclub. If she had taken revenge with a chair on the scene instead of walking to her car for her taser, she would have been justified, says a lawyer. So because a woman tried to equalize her level of force against a man stronger than her, she becomes the bad guy? Violence is not the outcome I would support, but there’s no doubt in my mind she was justified.
  • National Post: more info on the Canadian parliamentary bill that would make salaries and expenses for top First Nations (Native American) authorities public. Take a look at the Enoch Cree Nation, where councilmembers earn $175,000 compared to an average resident’s income of $15,000. Of course you don’t want your salaries made public, you fatcats. You should be ashamed to live like that as the people you “represent” exist in squalor.
  • Glenn Greenwald: reminding us all of the very real nature of blowback in analyzing the Faisal Shahzad ruling. The longer we occupy Muslim lands, the more innocent Muslims we put to the sword, the more the violent minority will come here and attack us. The war on terror is a self-perpetuating exercise, but then that’s the best sort of exercise if you are a defense contractor or security state hack.

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  • NYT: a NATO airstrike kills somewhere between 4-32 Afghan civilians. More blood on our hands, everybody. We voted in the elections that produced the politicians who started this war just as we voted in the elections that produced the politicians who escalated this war. Our participation in those elections was our consent. So whilst the blood falls most immediately on the commanders who ordered this airstrike and the pilots who carried it out, it falls, too, on our hands. Still think it’s a just war? Still want to kill people to make peace and fail to protect noses? Hopefully you’ve woken up and realized it’s time to get involved in the sort of left-right peace coalition we discussed here yesterday.
  • Nick Gillespie at Reason: covering one of the stories of the day, Michelle Obama’s vacation in Spain, for which taxpayers will at least be footing the tab for 70 Secret Service agents. The Europhile in me think it’s refreshing to see someone from the presidential family vacationing in glorious Europe. It bothers me that European leaders like Sarkozy feel no pressure in choosing to vacation in America, but the idea of an American president in Europe or elsewhere is apparently so deeply upsetting to the nationalistic American public that we can’t even discuss it. On the negative side of the ledger, I love that Ms. Obama is going to Spain with 40 of her supposedly closest friends. People don’t have 40 close friends, lady. Cut the artificiality. Also, it bugs me to no end that we the taxpaying masses will be footing her security bill. She’s a private citizen. If she wants Secret Service coverage on a voluntarily-scheduled vacation, then she should pay for it.
  • NYT: Pentagon asks WikiLeaks to return leaked documents. At first glance, it sounds like a cute little kid demanding his toy back, but the more you read this article, the more you recognize that a lot of the statements from the Pentagon sound like threats to WikiLeaks. Consider: “Mr. Morrell said that if asking WikiLeaks respectfully did not work, the Pentagon would resort to other steps, which he did not describe. ‘We will figure out what other alternatives we have to compel them to do the right thing,’ he said.” Julian Assange, watch your back!
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: feds admit that they’ve already broken their word about not saving body scan images from security x-ray scanners. I’m not prudish about nudity, but there’s no reason we need the x-ray scanners to begin with and there’s even less of a reason for the feds to save the resultant data. At least they are making sure we don’t forget how consistently they lie when it comes to matters of the security state and civil liberties. Oh, and remember–you never have to walk through an x-ray scanner, you can always request an alternate method like a metal detector, wanding or pat-down.
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason: guy starts a free shuttle service to prevent DUIs, gets ambushed by a protection racket local taxi operators. The best part is that he’s even been arrested for running his shuttles without licenses. I understand that the cabbies want to protect their turf and make money. I understand that they can’t really compete with a free shuttle service. Still, there must be a better way to resolve the issue, especially when you consider the guy they took down was trying to solve a real societal problem.
  • AlterNet: UN General Assembly passes a resolution recognizing “the human right to water.” When exactly did this Enlightenment project go off the rails? Water issues are an unfortunately large problem in our world today. Helping people in problem areas access clean water is a priority I can support. However, creating new positive rights out of thin air is not the way to do it. How can people have a natural right to a material good or quantity? Natural rights are negative rights; that is, freedom from something, like censored speech or gun ownership restrictions.
  • NYT: wealthy Chinese use money to buy their way out of their corrupt, anti-humanistic dictatorship. Good for these emigres. I guess I am glad that Western governments allow them to invest their way to permanent residency, but ideally Chinese who want to emigrate would be treated as refugees fleeing a dictatorship and given a fast-track to permanent residency in the free West, regardless of wealth.

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I’ll have some real posts coming up later today, but I wanted to throw out links to some of the more interesting stories I’ve read lately in the meantime.

NYT: Russian parliament discussing Soviet throwback law that would allow security services to warn people of future crimes. Hello, Minority Report.

The Globe & Mail: the future of the European dream. Interesting piece on European expectations for post-university careers vs. the North American system.

NYT: European gay pride parade in Warsaw. Poland is now the Catholic heartland of Europe and the parade was not without difficulties and protests, but still, it is good to see Poland succeed where Russia has so badly failed.

South China Morning Post: Hong Kong tourism board chairman calls for government to take over licensing of tour guides from independent, industry-led organizations. Hmm, a bureaucrat calling for more powers to be placed at his discretion? Never! When will people realize state licensing programs are just a racket to give the state more power and freeze competition out of the marketplace for those already in it?

NYT: The conscientious objector hotline for the U.S. military. Features the story of a guy claiming C.O. status because he doesn’t want to serve in a post-Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military and have to shower with out gays. Because showering with forcibly closeted gays is so different.

The Globe & Mail: Gary Webber, the guy who wants to test Canada’s marijuana laws by creating a 250-strong chain of franchised pot dispensaries. Vive la revolution!

AlterNet: A decade on, assessing the effects of the U.S.’s Plan Colombia offensive in the drug war. Spoiler: it’s been expensive and bloody!

The Independent: Document leaked from British government indicating full withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014. More U.S. allies need to do this–if our leaders won’t recognize the stupidity and unfairness of the war in Afghanistan, then other leaders need to hold their feet to the flames by withdrawing their troops and making our burden unsustainable.

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Doug Sanders had a good piece in The Globe & Mail about the future of NATO. There’s the usual concerns about how an organization designed to defend the Fulda Gap against a communist tank invasion may have lost much of its relevance 20 years after the fall of communism and well into the era of small wars. There’s also an interesting stat provided–only five of NATO’s 28 member states are spending the required 2% of their budget on defense. (more…)

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Talk continues to rage over Afghanistan. I wonder how much of it is because we are watching Iraq fail to set up a coalition government and devolve into violence that goes against the nice little victorious Surge narrative we’ve crafted and how much of it is because Afghanistan really deserves this much attention on a daily basis. But on with the news… (more…)

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