Friday, July 24, 2009

Is Mid East Looking Better, New Horrors from North Korea

Paul Krugman
David Brooks
Barbara Boxer & John Kerry

Our new best friend, Nuri al Maliki is heading back home after a successful visit to Washington. As a parting gift, he even said that the armed forces agreement between our two countries could be reconsidered. Which means we could have 130,000 troops in Iraq without a pullout date. Politically, the US will bring out a majority of its troops, wait and see what happens in Iraq, if it stabilizes or not, then renegotiate some kind of standing agreement, justified by the recent spikes in violence.

No American shoes were thrown during the press conferences, Barack Obama sounded more like George Bush making happy platitudes, I guess there's only so many that can go around... al Maliki  was originally chosen because he was some weak guy that nobody really knew, and now he's grown into the next strongman of Iraq. 

The murderous squabbling between Shia and Sunni and Kurd continues unabated, with the added arrests of people seen as future opponents to the current government. We'll see what the upcoming elections in the Kurdish areas bring...

To show how putting away the rockets can help build better confidence with the people, Hamas has completely changed its tactics in Gaza, according to the NY Times: "Hamas has suspended its use of rockets and shifted focus to winning support at home and abroad through cultural initiatives and public relations.

In recent days, a play has been staged, a movie premiered, an art exhibit mounted, a book of poems published and a television series begun, most of it state-sponsored and all focused on the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. There are plans for a documentary competition.

“Armed resistance is still important and legitimate, but we have a new emphasis on cultural resistance,” noted Ayman Taha, a Hamas leader and former fighter. “The current situation required a stoppage of rockets. After the war, the fighters needed a break and the people needed a break.”
Hopefully, they will continue to give us all a break. If Hamas continues working in this direction, then ultimately construction materials will be let in for rebuilding, and maybe even the blockade released. Ironically, then, we could say that the 3 week occupation by Israeli forces was worth it. But don't take away the importance of the Obama administration's influence, with their round robin visits of diplomats and inclusive manner of negotiations.

Even Syria is trying to build better relations with the US: "Walid al-Moallem told reporters in London that his country is looking forward to a visit by U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell as "the first step of dialogue." Mitchell is due in Damascus on Saturday for his second visit to Damascus since he took up his post. The trip is part of the Obama administration's efforts to engage Syria and prod it into playing a U.S.-friendly role in the region."

The latest horror story is coming out of North Korea and will be in the news for the next few days, is reported by al Jazeera: "When Im Chun-yong made his daring escape from North Korea, with a handful of his special forces men, there were many reasons why the North Korean government was intent on stopping them.
They were, after all, part of Kim Jong-il's elite commandos - privy to a wealth of military secrets and insights into the workings of the reclusive regime. But among the accounts they carried with them is one of the most shocking yet to emerge – namely the use of humans, specifically mentally or physically handicapped children, to test North Korea's biological and chemical weapons.
"If you are born mentally or physically deficient, says Im, the government says your best contribution to society… is as a guinea pig for biological and chemical weapons testing."

Even after settling into the relative safety of South Korea, for 10 years Im held on to this secret, saying it was too horrific to recount. But with Kim's health reportedly failing, and the country appearing increasingly unpredictable, Im felt it was time he spoke out."
Click on the link and read the whole article, it's very sad, and helps explain why North Korea has no friends left in the world. The kindest thing the regime could do right now is to drown Kim in his bathtub...

late night jokes:

"President Obama held another press conference tonight, preempting all the major networks again. He does this every week now. It's time for Oprah to give him a show." --Jimmy Kimmel

"And the White House actually - this is true - rescheduled the President. They moved it up an hour from 9:00 to 8:00 because NBC complained it would interfere with 'America's Got Talent'. So in other words, the President of the United States moved his press conference to accommodate a show David Hasselhoff is on. I think Clinton did that for 'Baywatch' once." --Jimmy Kimmel

"The focus was on the national healthcare plan that is working through Congress. He needed to made a strong case tonight - 50% are in favor of the universal healthcare and the other 50% have coverage." --Jimmy Kimmel

"The Republicans had been running a surprisingly effective campaign against the proposal for national healthcare, but the President found a very clever way to get them on board. Behind the scenes, he offered a key provision that would provide free breast implants for their girlfriends." --Jimmy Kimmel

"Anybody in China yesterday? The solar eclipse lasted almost 7 minutes and China was plunged right into the darkness right into the middle of the - wait a minute, that's their pollution." --David Letterman

"But interesting reaction to the solar eclipse. Rush Limbaugh says that the solar eclipse proves the unreliability of solar power." --David Letterman

"Here's some sad news from Iran, ladies and gentlemen. Do you know Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, do you know his vice president has resigned? This guy's main job was ceremonial, his main job was attending funerals. And you know, with Ahmadinejad in charge, that's a full-time gig." --David Letterman

"The vice president 'resigned' and that of course is Iranian for shot and thrown out of a car." --David Letterman

"Anybody here from Alaska? Sarah Palin, some bad news for Sarah Palin - there's another report now that she may have violated Alaska's ethics laws. Like I'm going to say something about that." --David Letterman

"There's kind of a silly thing. Remember the All-Star Game last week, President Obama throws out the first pitch and everything seemed to be fine. Then later, people started to criticize what he was wearing. They said he's wearing, and I never heard this expression, 'baggie dad jeans.' And Obama was surprised by the whole thing. He said, 'Look, they're not even my baggie dad jeans.' He apparently borrowed them from Chastity Bono." --David Letterman

"President Obama was on television earlier tonight. They held a TV conference earlier tonight. It's nice to see the guy finally getting some air time, I thought." --David Letterman

"We're learning more and more about Obama's healthcare plan, and if it passes, the healthcare plan, if that passes, President Obama will have the governor of South Carolina neutered. Did you realize that?" --David Letterman

"But the governor of South Carolina, Governor Sanford has lately been seen not wearing his wedding ring. And I was thinking, geez, I hope he didn't lose it while he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Then he'll never find it." --David Letterman

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says that when President Bush was in office, they used to have a meeting once a week via video conference. Maliki said the teleconferences always ended the same way, with Bush throwing his joystick down and yelling, 'This game is boring!'" --Conan O'Brien

"Yesterday, Secretary of state Hillary Clinton was in India. And today, there was a total eclipse of the sun. After hearing about it, Bill Clinton said, 'If there's one thing Hillary's good at, it's making the light go out of your life.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Weird story about General Motors. General Motors just announced they've created - I'm not kidding - a new line of Cadillac cologne. The Cadillac cologne slogan is, 'Smell like you owe the Federal government $10 billion.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Economists say the recession getting so bad, it's driving down the prices of many goods. In fact, folks, it has gotten so bad, the 99-cent store just changed its name to 'You know what? Just take it.'" --Conan O'Brien

"The astronauts went on a space walk today to change the batteries on the outside of the International Space Station. They hope the space walk will answer some key questions...Like, who put the batteries on the outside of the space station?" --Craig Ferguson

"Did you guys see Michelle Obama last night? She just got a new haircut. It's the first real cut of the Obama Administration." --Jimmy Fallon

"They announced Dr. Regina Benjamin is President Obama's pick for surgeon general. She's facing criticism for being overweight. I don't know if Dr. Benjamin's weight should be an issue, but her food pyramid does call for three to five daily servings of McRibs." --Jimmy Fallon

"Oh my God, Barack Obama's running the old Kenyan Prince birth announcement scam. Here's how it goes: you want to destroy America from the inside but you can't because you're a foreigner. So first, you gotta find yourself a good ol' American to reproduce for you. Then, you have that child on foreign soil, while simultaneously placing the birth announcement of that child in one of our "fringe" state's local newspapers, your Hawaiis, your Alaskas, your Pennsylvanias. Alright, then, kidding. And then, hold on, you wait. Until this baby is a middle-aged man. Now the trap is set. You just sit back and let that child go out and win the election for President of the United States. Now here's where the scam gets tricky; they can't just win the popular vote. He or she must have a strategy to win the electoral vote; that's what trips up most drifters. But, if you pull it off, you and your puppet child can sit back and destroy the fabric of the country you both hate so much. It's almost too easy." --Jon Stewart (Watch video clip)
David Letterman's Top Ten Questions on the Surgeon General Application

10. Are you a surgeon?
9. Can you grow a crazy beard like C. Everett Koop?
8. Are you a general?
7. Any idea what a Surgeon General is supposed to do?
6. Do you have a normal looking pair of jeans the President could borrow?
5. Have you ever obtained pills for Rush Limbaugh?
4. McDreamy or McSteamy?
3. Due to the recession, do you mind working for free?
2. Can we blame the health care crisis on you?
1. Will you look the other way when the President lights up a butt?

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