Archive | January, 2013

And in Other News…

What Reagan Missed: Other News of the Day

30 rock other news

In honor of the last 30 Rock episode, the Daily Beast presents the 12 most absurd 30 Rock moments. The Daily Beast

Now you can be a Barbie Girl too! Barbie Cafe opens in…wait for it… Taiwan! It had to be somewhere in Asia…  The Daily Beast

Syria tells Iran on Israel. Iran threatens to retaliate. Nothing good can come of this… Washington Post

Think Glenn Beck can’t get any crazier? Take a visit to Libertypendence park! Huffington Post

Icelandic girl wins legal right to use her given name. Hmm. I didn’t know Iceland was a crazy name-nazi. BBC

Budweiser + Corona = never going to happen. BBC

More shootings in US schools. Seriously? There’s literally a new one every day. USA Today

Oil Disaster in Mexico City: An explosion at the main headquarters of Mexico’s state-owned oil company in the capital killed 14 people and injured 80BBC

Geraldo Rivera and his mustache hint at a 2014 Senate run. CNN 

The Somali government has charged a woman who has said she was raped by security forces. Somalia is giving Russia a run for it’s money re: human rights. National Post

‘Gay dog’ saved from death sentence at last minute. Previous owner/idiot should be euthanized. Daily Mail

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Putin’s Worst Political Crackdown Yet?

putin political crackdown

Vladimir Putin, known for stifling civil liberties and appearing in frequent shirtless photo-ops, has unleashed another political crackdown. And according to Human Rights Watch, this one’s Russia’s worst! (Soviet era excluded…)

According to Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director for the organization,

“This has been the worst year for human rights in Russia in recent memory. The Kremlin in 2012 unleashed the worst political crackdown in Russia’s post-Soviet history.”

Go on….

“Measures to intimidate critics and restrict Russia’s vibrant civil society have reached unprecedented levels. Pressure and reprisals against activists and non-governmental organizations need to stop.”

In their report, Human Rights Watch stated Putin had signed a series of laws last year restricting political freedoms. The laws included new powers to limit public assembly, increase fines for protesters, restricted access to the internet and recriminalise libel – all intended to squash public dissent. Apparently Putin got a little spooked by incredibly angry at the anti-government protests in Moscow and other major cities following the December 2011 parliamentary elections and  is now out to make sure they won’t happen again.

The report also highlighted the two-year prison sentences given to two women from Pussy Riot for staging an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral as well as the ban on “homosexual propaganda”. The human rights group also threw in some reports of enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions in the North Caucasus for good measure.

Russia – how do you respond? Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said he had not read the report but that Russia would probably comment later and “show that the human rights situation in Russia is not the worst.” Sounds good Lukashevich, I’m sure you’ll find worse countries – North Korea? Eritrea? So I guess Russia’s response is ‘We’re terrible but we’re not the absolute worst.’ That’ll shut everyone up.

Via: The Toronto Star 

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All Sides On Board Immigration Reform

immigration reform

A bipartisan group of US senators has unveiled a plan for sweeping immigration reform. The framework, which calls for a ‘path to citizenship’ for many of the 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the US while also tightening border security, is a result of a rare occurrence: Republicans and Democrats working together.

Barack Obama, however, has his own immigration reform plan. Well, actually it’s quite similar. Much like the Senators’ plan, the president backed a comprehensive overhaul of the existing immigration system, securing US borders, and offering a pathway to earned citizenship.

But what’s more interesting is that the immigration reform plan embraced by Obama is remarkably similar to what the George Bush administration proposed in 2006. Both plans call for increased border security, temporary guest-worker programs, requirements for businesses to e-verify their employees, increased visa, incentives for skilled workers, and an eventual pathway to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants. The main difference is that Obama’s immigration reform has a much better chance of passage.

Why the sudden change? Well, the Bush bill ultimately died because of the right wing crowd which touted the bill as “amnesty”. Potential candidates vying for the top spot were quick to jump onboard, in hopes of winning conservative votes. As you may recall from the lead up to the GOP primaries, the candidates were very vocal about their opposition to illegal immigration.

As Herman Cain said about his plan to secure the border with a fence:

 “It’s going to be 20 feet high. It’s going to have barbed wire on the top. It’s going to be electrified. And there’s going to be a sign on the other side saying, ‘It will kill you — Warning.’”

Michele Bachmann expressed a similar sentiment when she spoke of the burdens illegal immigration places on Americans signed a pledge to build a “secure double fence” along every foot of the border with Mexico.

Fast forward to post-election life, and it seems conservatives have finally realized that their hard line on immigration has actually become quite the electoral liability. Obama won 70% of the Hispanic vote in the last election. Hispanics constitutes roughly 17% of America’s population and by 2050 that percentage is estimated to rise to 30%. So… basically they have to be a little less mexican’t and a little more mexican or they will likely lose yet another election.

To its credit, the GOP has been making some efforts recently to improve its standing among minority voters, aside from the bi-partisan Senate plan. They recently held a minority outreach retreat. Which was held at a former slave plantation… Nice.

Long story short, they have a long way to go and a short time to do it.

Via: CNN

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Current Event Cat of the Day

Chinese Hackers Current Event Cat

Read more Current Event Cats here.

Read more about Chinese Hackers here.

And in Other News…

What Reagan Missed: Other News of the Day

beijing pollution other news

You can literally chew the air in Beijing. Just don’t spit it back out on the street – that’s gross.  New York Times

NRA Chief fights to stop the ‘nightmare’ of background checks. You know what else is a nightmare? Getting shot in the face. NPR 

In related news, more shootings happen in the US. Chicago Tribune

Where are you on the global fat scale? Apparently I’m most like something from Ethiopia. That doesn’t sound good… BBC 

Hagel-bashing becomes Republicans’ newest hobby. CNN

Killer tornadoes hit the US while Canada enjoys unseasonably warm weather. USA Today

The Daily Beast says not to panic over the GDP drop. It’s time to PANIC! Daily Beast

Sam (aka Eyebrow Cat) is the new Grumpy Cat (but less grumpy and more surprised…) Buzzfeed

RIM introduces the BlackBerry 10. Not buying it. National Post

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Conflict in Syria Deteriorating

conflict in syria

The conflict in Syria is deteriorating and Bashar al-Assad doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, despite numerous calls for him to step down. Even Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi supports calls by people in Syria for President Bashar al-Assad to be tried for war crimes.

Let’s break it down:

Bashar al-Assad came to power after the death of his father in 2000, and originally sought to represent himself as a reformer. In his inaugural address, Mr Assad promised wide-ranging reforms, including modernizing the economy, fighting corruption and launching “our own democratic experience”. He also pointed to the “dire need for constructive criticism”. This lasted about a year…. and for the rest of the decade, emergency rule remained in effect under which security forces detained and tortured people with impunity. Sounds super.

The conflict in Syria began in March 2011 as a peaceful protest inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt but has since spiraled out of control. Al-Assad’s effort to crush anti-government protests has turned into a bloody civil war in which the United Nations estimates that more than 60,000 people have been killed. The UN reports an increase in Syrian refugees, increasing the total in neighbouring countries to more than 700,000 from 500,000 in December.

The president denied ordering the military to kill or be brutal in its crackdown on anti-government protesters, saying only a “crazy person” would kill his own people. Touché Mr. President, touché.

In more recent news, activists report another massacre this week in which dozens of bodies were found near the banks of a river in a city north of Aleppo. Video footage shows some corpses stuffed into a metal container, other on the street next to a pickup truck, and civilians in surgical gloves examining the bodies.

As the bloody internal battle between forces loyal to al-Assad and those opposed to his rule continue, many believe it is only a matter of time before the president is overthrown. But who knows where the death toll will be at when that happens. Throw in a few jihadist militant groups whose hobbies include planting bombs in major cities, and it sounds like a lovely place.

Oh and if Syria didn’t have enough problems, Israel is now dropping some missiles on them.

Via: BBC News

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Zimbabwe’s Bank Account Makes Us All Feel Richer (except Zimbabweans…)

Zimbabwe's Bank Account

The U.S economy may have shrunk in the last quarter, but to make us all feel better, check out Zimbabwe’s bank account: $217! I’m richer than Zimbabwe!! We’re all richer than Zimbabwe!! (well maybe not all...)

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said that the country only had $217 left in the country’s bank account last week after paying civil servants. Although the country did receive $30m of revenue the following day, that’s pretty much the definition of cutting it close.

Biti insists that his statement was taken out on context and he was only trying to show how the country could not afford to finance upcoming elections. Apparently Zimbabwe needs nearly $200m to pay for a referendum on a new constitution, as well as the election. Still, it’s hard to take $217 out of context – poor is poor.

Biti has at least partially blamed the state of Zimbabwe’s bank account on the diamond mining companies who haven’t been paying revenues to the government, but Zimbabwe’s economy has been in shambles since President Robert Mugabe’s infamous land reform programs began in 2000. The move, which basically involved seizing white owned farms, demolished investor confidence in the country, paralysed production, prompted international sanctions and repelled tourists. Since then the country has suffered hyper inflation of 231 million percent! Yeeeikes!

Although relatively more stable now with the power sharing government established in 2008, Zimbabwe still needs to come up with some funds to finance elections this year. Biti’s plan is to approach the international community  and ask donors for cash, but I’ve got a better plan: Check Robert Mugabe’s bank account. I’m sure they’ll find more than $217

Via: The National Post

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Current Event Cat of the Day

US Economy current event cat

Via: Current Event Cats

And in Other News…

What Reagan Missed: Other News of the Day

Other News John Kerry

Kerry confirmed as Secretary of State. In related news, long monotonous speeches are on the rise. CNN 

Google maps comes to North Korea! Great for gulag spying, but with only 100 North Koreas having internet access, not much trip planning is anticipated. Times Live

Just awful: father of Newtown victim heckled by pro-gun nuts at hearing. Connecticut Post

Does A-Rod love steroids more than he loves women on steroids? Miami Times

Breaking news: Chris Brown still terrible. Also thinks he’s Jesus? Reuters

Suicide blast near the offices of Somalia’s president and prime minister. This is why you don’t hire and then fire ex-Islamist militants as part of your intelligence services. Lesson learned? BBC News 

Passenger plane crashes in Kazakhstan. Was Borat on board? BBC News

Casey Anthony believes “strongly in our justice system”. No kidding – she got off scot free. Daily Mail

Cats have killer instincts. Let’s hope they’re also killing dogs. BBC News

Is Germany Europe’s Afghanistan in terms of treatment of women? New York Times

Obama makes the case for immigration reform. Thousands of Mexicans’ ears perk up. Huffington Post

Now let’s all reminisce about 80s Pop Culture and the Reagan White House. Buzzfeed

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Pentagon Lifts Ban on Women in Combat

Women in Combat

On Thursday the Pentagon lifted a long-time ban on women serving in front line combat zones, two years after it scrapped the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, signed an order at a Pentagon news conference rescinding the rule that prevented women from serving in direct combat roles.

Removing the ban on women is considered to be a huge step towards gender equality, but it’s actually just stating publicly what has already been happening over the past decade. Although women were previously barred from infantry, armoured and special operations units, the realities of the past decade of war have blurred the lines of distinction.

Whether people want to acknowledge it or not, women have played a major role in conflict zones over the years, even while their theoretical fitness to serve was being debated back home. At the moment women make up about 14% of the military’s 1.4 million active members and more than 280,000 of them have done tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas bases. Of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 152 have been killed, including 84 in hostile action, and nearly 1,000 have been wounded. It seems lifting the ban is more about giving women the correct job titles.

The move could, however, open some 237,000 potential job titles to women and expand opportunities for career advancement, provided they pass the gender-neutral performance standards.

As Panetta puts it:

“Let me be clear. We are not talking about reducing the qualifications for the job. If they can meet the qualifications for the job, then they should have the right to serve regardless of creed or color or gender or sexual orientation.”

While Obama has expressed strong support for the new policy, as have many civilian and military leaders from the different services, there have been some mixed reactions. Retired General Jerry Boykin is one such case. For him the issue comes down to personal hygiene:

“As a man who has been there, […] I certainly don’t want to be in that environment with a female because it’s degrading and humiliating enough to do your personal hygiene and the other normal functions among your teammates.”

Hmm. If the Taliban were shooting at me, I doubt I’d be worried about my personal hygiene.

Anyways…. Boykins all over can continue fighting about whether or not this ban on women in combat should be lifted, but the fact is women have been and will continue to fight on the front lines. Instead of ignoring this or telling them they’re not allowed, perhaps they should thank them?

Via: Reuters

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