November 20th, 2007

Chris Keeley

Juan Cole, Combating Muslim Extremism (The Nation)

*WS*

*COMBATING MUSLIM EXTREMISM *

*Juan Cole  The Nation  [from the November 19, 2007 issue]  Posted
November 1, 2007*

All the major Republican presidential candidates have bought into George
W. Bush's rhetoric of a central struggle against Muslim extremism and
have thus committed themselves to a generational, often self-generating
war. By foregrounding this issue, they have ensured that it will be
pivotal to the 2008 presidential race. The Democratic candidates have
mostly been timid in critiquing Bush's "war on terror" or pointing out
its dangers to the Republic, a failing that they must redress if they
are to blunt their rivals' fearmongering.

Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani in his recent /Foreign Affairs/
article complains that the United States has been on the "defensive" in
the war on "radical Islamic fascism" and says with maddening vagueness
that it must find ways of going "on the offensive." He promises that
"this war will be long." Giuliani is being advised on such matters by
Representative Peter King, who has complained that "unfortunately we
have too many mosques in this country"; by Daniel Pipes, who has
questioned the wisdom of allowing American Muslims to vote; and by
Norman Podhoretz, author of /World War IV: The Long Struggle Against
Islamofascism/. Combining the word "Islam" with a European term like
"fascism" is profoundly offensive; a subtext of anti-Muslim bigotry
pervades Giuliani's campaign, a sop to the Christian and Zionist right.

John McCain depicts withdrawal from Iraq as "defeat," saying in Michigan
on September 21 that it would "would strengthen Al Qaeda, empower Iran
and other hostile powers in the Middle East, unleash a full-scale civil
war in Iraq that could quite possibly provoke genocide there and
destabilize the entire region.'' But continued occupation of Iraq, a
major Muslim country, is just as likely to lead to the consequences
McCain fears. Some front-runners, like Mitt Romney, argue for a big
expansion in US military forces, without explaining how that would help
with counterterrorism.

The Republican candidates have taken their cues from Bush and his
Administration. They have continued to vastly exaggerate the threat from
terror attacks (far more Americans have died for lack of healthcare or
from hard drugs) and have demonized Muslims. India's Hindu-extremist
RSS, the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, the Lord's Resistance Army of Uganda
and Colombia's FARC (a hard-drug smuggler) are seldom referred to by
Republican politicians worried about terrorists, even though all these
movements have been extremely violent and have threatened US interests.

Advocates of the "war on terror" fantasize about the Muslim world as a
Soviet Union-type challenge to the United States. In fact, the dozens of
countries with majority Muslim populations are mostly strong allies of
the United States. One, Turkey, is a NATO ally, and six (Morocco, Egypt,
Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Pakistan) are non-NATO allies. Only fourteen
countries have this status, so Muslim states make up nearly half. The
United States counts many other friends in the region, having
significant frictions only with Sudan, Syria and Iran, and those are
mixed pictures (Syria and Sudan helped against Al Qaeda, and Iran sought
a strategic alliance with the United States against Saddam Hussein in
early 2003).

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Chris Keeley

First Firefox 3 Beta ready for download

First Firefox 3 Beta ready for download
 
Al sez, "This is a Mozilla DevNews article announcing the release of the first beta of Firefox 3. You can download it from this link (which Mozilla asks that people go to in order to read the information included in it)."

I'm downloading it now. First beta == interesting curiosity, but nothing I plan on using on a regular basis. Still, I saw a demo of the Firefox 3 beta a couple weeks ago at the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin, and it was amazing -- particularly the zoom-whole-page feature that lets you resize all the elements on a page, up or down, including images and form elements. No more squinting at tiny webcomic writing! No more tedious side-scrolling for huge-mongoose inline images! Link

http://developer.mozilla.org/devnews/index.php/2007/11/19/firefox-3-beta-1-now-available-for-download/
Chris Keeley

Last week's debate ended with Senator Hillary Clinton being asked whether she preferred diamonds or

Last week's debate ended with Senator Hillary Clinton being asked whether she preferred diamonds or pearls. The question was asked by a UNLV student who has since said that she was forced by CNN to ask that question instead of a pre-approved query about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. 

Debates Ignores Questions About Presidential Power and Civil Liberties
A new study by the watchdog group Media Matters has found that Democratic and Republican candidates have been asked few questions about their views on executive power, the Constitution, torture, wiretapping, or other civil liberties concerns during the first 17 presidential debates. According to Media Matters there has been only one question about wiretapping. Not a single question about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or renditions. The words "habeas corpus" have not once been spoken by a debate moderator. Candidates have also not been asked about whether telecoms should be granted immunity over their role in domestic spying. Last week's debate ended with Senator Hillary Clinton being asked whether she preferred diamonds or pearls. The question was asked by a UNLV student who has since said that she was forced by CNN to ask that question instead of a pre-approved query about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

Chris Keeley

For Freud, denial was a defense against external realities that threaten the ego, and many psycholog

For Freud, denial was a defense against external realities that threaten the ego, and many psychologists today would argue that it can be a protective defense in the face of unbearable news, like a cancer diagnosis. 

Denial Makes the World Go Round

For years she hid the credit card bills from her husband: The $2,500 embroidered coat from Neiman Marcus. The $900 beaded scarf from Blake in Chicago. A $600 pair of Dries van Noten boots. All beautiful items, and all perfectly affordable if she had been a hedge fund manager or a Google executive.

Friends at first dropped hints to go easy or rechannel her creative instincts. Her mother grew concerned enough to ask pointed questions. But sales clerks kept calling with early tips on the coming season’s fashions, and the seasons kept changing.

“It got so bad I would sit up suddenly at night and wonder if I was going to slip up and this whole thing would explode,” said the secretive shopper, Katharine Farrington, 46, a freelance film writer living in Washington, who is now free of debt. “I don’t know how I could have been in denial about it for so long. I guess I was optimistic I could pay, and that I wasn’t hurting anyone.

“Well, of course that wasn’t true.”

Everyone is in denial about something; just try denying it and watch friends make a list. For Freud, denial was a defense against external realities that threaten the ego, and many psychologists today would argue that it can be a protective defense in the face of unbearable news, like a cancer diagnosis.

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Chris Keeley

Amy Winehouse's 2003 debut, "Frank," was a U.K.-only release that came out back before all the hue a

Amy Winehouse's 2003 debut, "Frank," was a U.K.-only release that came out back before all the hue and cry over her boozing and drugging, and all the critical acclaim for her follow-up album, "Back to Black." Now released stateside, "Frank" more than confirms what the fuss over Winehouse -- then just 19 and with a lot fewer tattoos -- was originally all about. The record doesn't contain anything as indelible as this year's hit single "Rehab," but as tracks like the libidinous "Amy Amy Amy" attest, her attitude and command were already there. And then some. 

Winehouse (shown earlier this month) had plenty of attitude and musical command long before

Amy Winehouse: A 'Frank' Assessment,
Chris Keeley

650 lifer law," which required life sentences for anyone convicted of crimes involving 650 grams or

650 lifer law," which required life sentences for anyone convicted of crimes involving 650 grams or more of cocaine or heroin.

Julie Stewart established Families Against Mandatory Minimums, one of several advocacy groups credited with getting some crack cocaine penalties relaxed.

Brother's Drug Sentence Ignited Woman's Crusade
D.C. Group Helps Win Relaxed Penalties

By Avis Thomas-Lester
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 20, 2007; B01

 

Julie Stewart was sitting at her desk at a think tank in the District 17 years ago when her telephone rang. It was her brother calling to say he had been busted for growing marijuana.

"How stupid," she recalled thinking. She figured he would get off with a relatively light punishment -- perhaps a little jail time, maybe probation. After all, she reasoned, he had no record. And it was "only" marijuana.

Instead, for cultivating 365 six-inch marijuana plants, Stewart's brother received five years in federal prison, a sentence Stewart considered harsh.

"I was astounded," said Stewart, 51, of Chevy Chase. "We are putting people in prison with sentence lengths that used to be reserved for the most violent offenders."

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