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Just got an email from a friend who sent me a BBC link - seems there have been about 10 coordinated explosions in Baghdad, many of which appear to be car bombs in primarily Shia' areas of Baghdad.  Just a quick news update.  

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I thought I'd share a few news stories in the Afghanistan Observer and the Daily Afghanistan Outlook newspapers - stories that alternately make one laugh or cry.  This diary is not a detailed assessment of current conditions in Afghanistan but a postcard that attempts to give readers a flavor of the local press, and maybe provide an opportunity to talk a little about corruption, electioneering, bird fighting, girl's education, and other topics.  I did update it to reflect the fact that Mohammed Zia Salahi, accused of corruption, appears to be on the CIA's payroll per a NYT article this morning, and which has been reported widely on Afghan television.

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Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 06:13 AM PDT

Easter Sermon for the Birds

by ivorybill

I’ll admit I’m an odd person to be writing an Easter sermon.  Some of us prefer our epiphanies grounded in the external world, even feathered and something we can hold in our hands.  Some of us experience miracles as matters of pure faith or emotional intuitive understanding.  A recent diary by a teenager kicked out of his home for being gay attracted a thousand comments, most of them supportive of the youth. He thought we were all atheists and some of the more interesting comments in that diary had to do with Christians on DailyKos discussing faith from a liberal perspective, and atheists discussing how to reconcile lack of faith as being compatible with the religion of others.  Sometimes believers and non-believers talk past each other, and while we sometimes demonstrate a certain lack of generosity in the way interact with each other, we do OK.  Better, in fact, than society at large.

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I got a call today that I would rather not have received.  M called and told me that his partner was dead.  The Sadr militia caught him, super-glued his anus shut and then beat him to death.  M is ready to leave but feels paralyzed.  He has spent his entire life in Baghdad, has a government job, a nice apartment, a car, the love of his family, and a full life.  He is in demand as a wedding singer.  In the midst of war, people continue living and loving each other, and against the background of violence and fear, life goes on. Even in the dark times there is singing.  There has been plenty of singing and laughter in M’s life; he is in all senses of the word, gay.

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Unfortunately, I share the same last name as a certain former Republican Congressman.  It's not a common name, and for the last few weeks I have been receiving e-mails from a member of his family, who is a fundamentalist pastor at some congregation in California.  I have the same name as one of her sons.  

At first, I e-mailed this pastor to tell her that I'm not who she thinks I am, and that her personal e-mails are being misdirected.  This had no effect, and she continues to send me bulk e-mails. I assumed that she is older, not computer saavy, and so I remained polite and deleted the e-mails whenever they arrived.  

Well, today I received the following e-mail:

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Last week, Lineatus asked me to write a guest Dawn Chorus diary on location in Iraq. I wrote the following last weekend in Suleymaniya, a city in the Kurdistan region, and am posting it this morning:

I’ll give you an update on what’s flying around in my part of the world, but first permit me to share a couple websites, and allow me a short digression on ravens.

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Just a short diary about some new developments in an interesting story.  As was mentioned last week in the NYT, the National Republican Congressional Committee called in the FBI to investigate financial "irregularities" at the NRCC, possibly including fraud.  Now the RNCC has called in a forensic auditor.  Ouch.  Hard to tap donors when your accountant has his hand in the till.

Politico reports that the forged audits might go back before 2006, and that the NRCC is worried about perception of donors.  http://www.politico.com/...

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Tue Jan 29, 2008 at 08:53 AM PST

Gitmo defense attorneys endorse Obama

by ivorybill

I'll make this a very brief diary and add some caveats right at the beginning.  First, I hope this diary doesn't turn into an opportunity for more fighting in the primary wars, because all three Democratic candidates - Obama, Clinton and Edwards - would close Guantanamo, substantially reverse the shameful legacy of torture, restore habeas corpus, bring the United States back into compliance with the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions, and draw back the curtain on the networks of secret CIA prisons.  

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Wow.  Fourty years ago today, George W. Bush first found his name in print in the New York Times.  At the time, Bush was a senior at Yale and former president of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.  Did the NYT report on Bush's academic excellence, future promise, or civic spirit?  Uh, not exactly.  Follow me below the break to find out more.

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Wed Oct 24, 2007 at 11:55 AM PDT

Dream Act Defeated in Senate

by ivorybill

The Senate just voted on the DREAM Act.  The vote was on a procedural motion, so 60 votes were needed to proceed to vote on the DREAM Act itself.  It was not really all that close.  54 voted in favor, 44 against.  The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, as you may recall, would provide a path to citizenship for immigrant students with the grades and ability to go to college and those who serve two years in the United States military.  The bill was initially conceived as a way to help young immigrants who grew up in the United States and play by the rules, and not penalize them for their parents' undocumented status.  All major Democratic presidential candidates support the act.

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OK, this will be a short diary.  There are several diaries up right now about the Turkish invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan, so I feel compelled to post some quick information because we actually work there, and I just communicated with our staff. The situation is not as bad as people describe.

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Tue Feb 06, 2007 at 07:37 AM PST

Out Now!

by ivorybill

Compare and contrast:

Bush Administration incompetence doomed New Orleans.  We created this mess by building levies on the Mississippi, destroying the wetlands, cutting canals through the delta, and overbuilding on one of the most vulnerable coasts in the world.  We had no plan, we failed to learn from our early mistakes, and we didn’t have enough boots on the ground when it counted.  Events that have been building for decades finally caught up with us, and the dynamic of destruction is irreversible.  In the short run it will be painful, but the people of New Orleans will need to find their own solutions, and the sooner we pull out, the better.  

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