(Reuters) - China made its first substantive comments on Monday to reports of U.S. surveillance of the Internet, demanding that Washington explain its monitoring programs to the international community.
Several nations, including U.S. allies, have reacted angrily to revelations by an ex-CIA employee over a week ago that U.S. authorities had tapped the servers of internet companies for personal data.
“We believe the United States should pay attention to the international community’s concerns and demands and give the international community the necessary explanation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing.
The Chinese government has previously not commented directly on the case, simply repeating the government’s standard line that China is one of the world’s biggest victims of hacking attacks.
A senior source with ties to the Communist Party leadership said Beijing was reluctant to jeopardize recently improved ties with Washington.
The explosive revelations of the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying programs were provided by Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor currently holed up in Hong Kong, a China-controlled city.
Snowden told the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s main English language newspaper, last week that Americans had spied extensively on targets in China and Hong Kong.
Conservative pundit Erick Erickson doesn’t like me. This morning he wrote 900 words about why.
But the main thing his post reveals is what’s wrong with Erickson - and with a Republican party that is built to appeal to people like Erickson.
He starts by noting that I am “a late twenty-something gay male.” I’m not sure why my sexual orientation is mentioned right at the top of his hit piece on me, following only my age. (Just kidding; I know exactly why Erickson mentioned this so early.) But at least this statement, unlike some that follow it, has the virtue of being correct.
For example, Erickson says I support “the tax hikes that come with Obamacare.” That’s not true; I wrote last July that Obamacare “should have been financed with efficient, broad-based taxes instead of singling out the wealthiest Americans.” He goes on to complain that I have “worked no campaigns.” That is not only false but contradicted by the same Atlantic profile that prompted Erickson to whine about me.
He even almost got my name wrong. Erickson writes that he drafted the post referring to me as “John Barro,” as he has done in the past on Twitter, until a friend corrected him.
Some of what Erickson says about me is true. I have never “answered to a constituency” as he did during his partial term as a member of the Macon City Council, which he resigned after missing 13 of 27 council meetings and 16 of 19 council work sessions in 2010. Like most Real Americans, Erickson had a poor attendance record because of his busy schedule of media appearances.
But the bulk of the piece isn’t even really about me; it’s about Erickson’s resentment of New York- and Washington-based “elites.” He says our location makes it harder to “connect to the real world,” as though New York and Washington were not real places populated by real people.
And for two decades, the Republican party’s strategy to overcome its disadvantage on economic issues has been a cultural appeal to people like Erickson: non-urban whites who feel threatened by social change. That is, the kind of people who think it’s an alarming trend that women are financially independent, or who think the most salient fact about a writer they dislike might be his sexual orientation.
This is a strategic problem for Republicans for several reasons. One is that the party’s reliance on a resentment-based appeal has caused its policy apparatus to atrophy. Erickson is not alone among conservatives in thinking that “academic and technocratic” approaches are best left to pointy-headed liberals. Another is that people like Erickson are a declining share of the electorate.
Basically, Erickson is derpy. And Erickson has big appeal to conservatives because lots of them are derpy. But the country is getting less derpy, and in time the Republican party will have to get less derpy, too. That’s my project, and I don’t expect Erickson to like it.
1. At a debate, you boo a soldier because he is gay.
2. You accuse a decorated Vietnam veteran of “cutting and running.”
3. You accuse Obama of being a Muslim, yet condemn him for going to Jeremiah Wright’s Christian church.
4. You admire Sarah Palin’s keen intellect.
5. You agree with Alabama state senator Scott Beason who referred to blacks as “aborigines.”
6. You are considering moving to Canada to avoid health insurance mandates.
7. You are convinced that Obama is either Hitler, Stalin, the Joker or a combination of all 3.
8. You ascribe marital infidelity to your sense of patriotism.
9. You become hysterical at the thought of Muslims wanting to build a basketball court three blocks from Ground Zero, ignoring the fact that there was a mosque inside the World Trade Center.
10. You believe family values means having children from your first marriage try to convince people that your second wife is lying about your third wife.
11. You believe gay marriage is the “most important issue of our time”.
12. You believe Obama does not like white people.
13. You believe scientists are cross-breeding humans and animals and creating mice with fully functioning human brains.
14. You believe that Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal caused the Great Depression; even though FDR took office 4 years after it began.
15. You believe that gay marriage undermines traditional family values although your religion and family have advocated polygamy.
16. You celebrate Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment, yet deny Obama had anything to do with Osama bin Laden being killed.
17. You cheer at the idea of the uninsured dying.
Detroit — Federal agents arrested a Saudi Arabian traveler who arrived at Detroit Metropolitan Airport with a pressure cooker, a key component used in the Boston Marathon bombings last month.
Hussain Al Kwawahir will be arraigned at 1 p.m. in federal court for allegedly using an altered passport and lying to a Customs and Border Protection Agent about the pressure cooker.
Al Kwawahir arrived at the airport Saturday from Saudi Arabia, via Amsterdam, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court.
He told agents he was visiting his nephew, who attends the University of Toledo.
During baggage inspection, officers noticed a page missing from his passport.
Al Kwawahir told officers he did not know how the page was removed from the passport.
During the baggage exam, officers found a pressure cooker.
Al Kwawahir said he brought the pressure cooker for his nephew because the devices are not sold in the United States, according to the complaint. [Total BS—VB]
From The Detroit News: detroitnews.com
Wingnuts going crazy with this!
Republican strategist Jack Burkman on Thursday asserted that the 2012 attacks in Benghazi that killed four Americans were “much worse” than the original attacks on Sept. 11, 2011 that killed almost 3,000 people because of “the level of how things were ignored.”
In an panel segment on Current TV, host Michael Shure asked Burkman if he agreed that the Republican obsession with Benghazi was “totally about politics.”
“Well, it’s about both,” Burkman explained. “This thing could turn into a Watergate. I don’t think you realize how bad this is. Obama — all of this — why did any of this happen? This happened because Obama is so afraid. He didn’t want to defend the embassy because he didn’t want to offend Islam. Then he didn’t want to call it an act of terrorism because he didn’t want to offend Islam. That’s fundamentally what it’s about.”
“There are reasonable ways to disagree on this, but to say he didn’t want to defend the embassy because he didn’t want to defend Islam… I’ll give you political advice too, stay away from that one,” Shure advised.
“But the evidence shows that,” Burkman insisted. “Strip aside all the politics and the theory. The evidence shows — take [U.S. diplomat] Gregory Hicks, these guys were trying to get through at 2 in the morning, they were trying to warn, they made so many repeated calls and contacts. What other conclusions can you draw? They were systemically ignored. I mean, I’ve just never seen or heard of anything like this.”
Well, the big Benghazi hearings have finished up for the day, and as near I can tell we learned…..nothing. We heard testimony about the following:
The Pentagon didn’t dispatch fighter jets to patrol Benghazi following the initial attack.
A 4-man special ops team was stationed in Tripoli, but wasn’t dispatched to Benghazi the morning after the attacks to help with rescue and evacuation.
In interviews on the Sunday after the attacks, Susan Rice said things that contradicted Libyan President Mohamed Yusuf al-Magariaf.
None of this is even remotely new. The Pentagon has said before that they believed it was best for the Tripoli team to stay in Tripoli.1 General Carter Ham has testified that he didn’t think deploying F-16s over Benghazi would be helpful, and he still doesn’t. And Rice’s interviews were litigated to death long ago. If you actually review the evidence, it turns out that her language was careful; it was based on CIA talking points; there was (and still is) evidence that the “Innocence of Muslims” video played a role in the attacks; and al-Magriaf was almost certainly wrong about whether the attacks were a long-planned operation. Details here.
All of this stuff is arguable. Maybe the Pentagon was wrong about both the Tripoli team and the fighter jets. Maybe Rice should have said something slightly different on the Sunday shows. Maybe the State Department should have beefed up security in Libya months before the attacks. Maybe the infamous talking points got sanded down a bit too much by the interagency review process. That’s all possible.
Fox News tried to push their Benghazi conspiracy theory today, but things went horribly wrong when they asked Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz for evidence and he couldn’t provide any.
WALLACE: Congressman Chaffetz, has the Obama admininstration blocked potential witnesses from testifying or not?
CHAFFETZ: Absolutely, and more than one. We’ve asked for the non-classified version of how did these people get an attorney who has a degree of classified information, and they still haven’t given us that. No, there are people out there that wanna testify that have been suppressed.
WALLACE: But you heard the State Department person just say that nobody either a lawyer or a witness has requested to testify.
CHAFFETZ: Because they’re scared to death of what the State Department is doing to them. That’s what. Look we’re the other branch of government. They’re supposed to be able to come to congress, and be able to share this type of information. That has not happened, because the administration has suppressed. We have a person who was injured eight months ago who’s still in the hospital. They changed his name on the medical records. This is a story of the State Department doing things that haven’t been done in any other case.
WALLACE: Are you saying? Again, I want to bring in Congressman Lynch. Tell me-a direct threat, a direct act of intimidation against a potential witness?
CHAFFETZ: Yes, and I think we’ll probably…
WALLACE: Tell me one… tell what’s been said.
CHAFFETZ: There are people, more than one, that have felt intimidation from the State Department.
Two northern Iowa women were fired from their jobs at a New Hampton assembly plant for allegedly joking about “burning the Jews” inside a toy oven they were carrying.
Christina Ott of New Hampton and her sister, Susan Ott of Lawler, were fired in late January from the Trimark Corp. assembly plant in New Hampton.
According to plant officials’ testimony at two public unemployment claims hearings, five Trimark workers reported seeing the two walk through an area of the plant Dec. 19, carrying a toy Easy Bake oven with gingerbread men inside.
One of the workers said the women told their colleagues, “Happy Hanukkah. We’re burning the Jews.” The other workers were some distance away and said they didn’t hear any such comments by the women.
After the two were fired, they applied for unemployment benefits and the state scheduled separate public hearings to deal with each claim. Both women testified that they didn’t make the comment, and said the only reason they were carrying the toy oven around was so they could participate in a Christmas sweater contest at the plant.
“We did not have a Christmas sweater, so we decided to give out gingerbread men instead,” Susan Ott testified.
The image above has recently been making the rounds on all the social sites. I first saw it last week and it was good for a facepalm or two but I was a little suspicious, as we all should be when this sort of thing pops up in the social media nowadays. After appearing in my feed a few times it faded away and I thought nothing more of it.
Today, it was in my Snopes report email so I clicked on the link to find out if my suspicions had been correct. I was surprised to find that the image was real. And there was another page to the test. So, it became legitimate news and here we are.
The test was purported to be a 4th grade quiz from a private school in South Carolina. After some digging by Snopes and others, and a confirmation from Answers In Genesis president Ken Ham, we now know that the school is the Blue Ridge Christian Academy in the Greenville area. Our own Filthy Liberal, Justin Rosario wrote about the initial reactions to the picture and the story behind it.
But even before that information was revealed, the reactions to the test had flown furiously around the web, setting off the patented “Christian victimization reaction.” Mr. Ham wrote an alternately whiny and outraged column on his website, complaining that the school, its administrators and teachers were being ruthlessly attacked by those horrible atheists!
DOOFUS OF THE DAY
Last week Gothamist published a photo of a car in Brooklyn plastered with a ridiculous amount of offensive bumper stickers. That car turned out to belong to Heshi Fried—Fried is a Hardei, which is considered the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism. Considering our negative take on his vehicle, we were pretty surprised when Fried called us this week to thank us for writing about him. “I think it was great, and you know, most people are very much with me, the people who are religious are basically all giving me a thumbs up,” Fried said. “Except secular Jews, who usually like, express shock. They feel like I’m causing anti-Semitism or something. They feel really embarrassed.”
Fried, who was a follower of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, was incredibly civil during our 30 minute conversation, during which we tried to pose questions based around the offensive bumper stickers he so proudly shows up. Fried confirmed he used to be a member of the fringe Hasidic group Jewish Political Action Committee, but after the big “Jews against the internet” protest at Citi Field a few years ago, they removed their website. “[The Rabbis] didn’t want us to have anything that may cause religious kids to go look at the internet to see what’s going on. So that’s one of reasons we removed the website.”
As for those bumper stickers, which he makes himself, Fried says it’s part of his goal to make as many people more observant as possible. He proceeded to explain each bumper sticker to us in detail, and how it stems from some passage in the Torah. But we pushed him about the Hurricane Sandy sticker in particular—how can someone possibly connect a weather phenomenon with a legislative action? Below, you can read Fried’s answer, which involves a very vengeance-happy, hail-and-brimstone Old Testament reading of God.
Well, I just feel like I want to Throw Up. It’s very disturbing to read about a religious Jew who embraces the crackpot ideas of the Westboro cult and the extreme creationists. Babushka remembers Avigdor Miller from the 1970’s. He was a fire-and-brimstone stand-up comedian-preacher whose lectures about young-earth creationism and anti-gay diatribes were taken primarily from fundamentalist Christian sources and crackpots like Emanuel Velikovsky. It’s very embarrassing to recall that at one time I actually thought he was entertaining, kind of the same way that Rush Limbaugh used to be funny back in the day.
Having these hateful notions is one thing—a person really ought to work on his middos (good qualities), keep hateful feelings to oneself and concentrate on loving one’s fellow human, even if that person has different beliefs, skin color, or sexual orientation. To plaster one’s vehicle with hateful messages just invites reciprocal hatred, key-scratching, tire-slashing and windshield smashing.
Hateful people suck.