Posts Tagged ‘gay



03
Sep
13

News of the Day

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Michael Kelley: Actually, The U.S. Has A Strategy In Syria – And It’s Starting To Work

One of the primary criticisms of U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan for a limited attack on Syria is that there is no long-term strategy in place for what happens after bombs fall on Damascus. But that’s not true. There is a U.S. Syria strategy, and it is showing signs of increasing success. Former U.S. Army vice chief of staff General Jack Keane said he spoke with Republican senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who were briefed by the president on Monday. “What [Obama] has told the two senators is that he also intends to assist the opposition forces, so he is going to degrade Assad’s military capacity and he is going to assist and upgrade the opposition forces with training assistance,” Gen. Keane told BBC Radio.

Last week Pentagon officials told The Wall Street Journal that the planned attack would “deter and degrade” President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces. The key would be hitting various Damascus headquarters as well as some of the regime’s six operable airports. These airports are the “regime’s nervous system,” defected Air Force Colonel Hassan Hamada told Der Spiegel. The less obvious, and more long-term, part of the plan involves providing vetted parts of the opposition with advanced weaponry, training them with Western advisors, and curbing the funding for jihadist groups.

More here

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Igor Bobic: Kerry: ‘Beyond A Reasonable Doubt’ Assad Conducted Gas Attack

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the United States believed “beyond a resonable doubt” the Assad regime conducted a devastating chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people last month.

“It did happen and the Assad regime did it,” Kerry said at a Senate hearing on whether to approve President Barack Obama’s request to intervene militarily in the country.

“Our intelligence community has scrubbed and descrubbed the evidence,” Kerry said, citing in part hair and blood samples collected by first responders.

More here

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Andrea Peterson: The U.S. Isn’t Bombing Syria Yet. But It Is Providing Tech Support To The Rebels

The United States hasn’t decided whether to launch airstrikes against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. But the Obama administration long ago decided to provide the rebels with another form of assistance: hardware and software to help the rebels communicate more effectively and evade government censorship.

In fact, while the White House authorized the CIA to help arm some moderate rebels battling the Assad regime, it hasn’t done so yet. So the most significant aid given to the rebels by the United States so far may actually be the influx of communications equipment, censorship and monitoring circumvention software, and technical training sent their way by the State Department.

More here

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TPM: Kerry: ‘Obama Is Not Asking America To Go To War’

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that President Barack Obama wasn’t seeking all out war against Syria, but rather the more specific goal of taking out the Assad regime’s capaibility to employ chemical weapons.

“President Obama is not asking America to go to war,” Kerry told a Senate hearing on whether to strike Syria with missiles in response to a reported chemical weapons attack last month.

More here

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Brian Beutler: How Katy Perry Can Thwart GOP Obstruction

Republicans in Congress aren’t about to give the White House any money to get the word out about Obamacare. But it’s forced Obamacare implementers to think creatively about how to get the word out. Farah, and Funny or Die, are among a small network of what you could call Obamacare’s celebrity volunteer army. Just as the White House understands that reaching the young and uninsured via more traditional marketing campaigns means partnering with less-mainstream media outlets, they’ve also identified a number of celebrities with huge social media followings who want to make sure the uninsured have the date Oct. 1 seared into their minds.

Katy Perry has about 42 million followers. Obama has about 36 million. Perry is one of a number of celebrities the White House has enlisted. Last week, reporters spotted Magic Johnson entering the White House. When he left, he made it pretty clear he’s on board. Obama and White House officials also took advantage of a large, captive, mostly African-American audience during the March on Washington anniversary last week, including interviews with popular DJs, meetings, and news interviews in markets with large African-American populations. “Starting on Oct. 1, because of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — anybody who doesn’t have health insurance in this country is going to be able to get it at an affordable rate,” Obama explained to Tom Joyner, host of an eponymous, nationally syndicated morning drive show

More here

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Chris Geidner: Husband Of Gay Service Member Booed At GOP Debate Now Has His Military ID Spouse Card

Major Stephen Snyder-Hill found himself at the center of the national debate over the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” when he was booed by audience members at a a September 2011 Republican presidential debate when he asked about the change that allows him now to serve his country and talk openly about his husband, Joshua. Two years later, in a sign of the changed landscape for same-sex couples, Stephen and Joshua Snyder-Hill went to the Defense Supply Center, Columbus, or DSCC, in Ohio on Tuesday — where Joshua became “official,” as Stephen put it, and received his spousal military ID card on the first day the cards were available to same-sex spouses.

“I’ve been in the military for 24 years. I was pre-‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ during and after. It’s just been a really long fight, I think, for [same-sex couples’] military families to be able to get the same protection that other soldiers’ families get,” Stephen Snyder-Hill told BuzzFeed Tuesday afternoon. “I mean, we’ve had times when we’ve had family days, things that just beat down your morale because you just feel like you’re not the same or you’re not equal or you’re not protected as well. And I think that now, we’re pretty much equal.”

The U.S. military began recognizing married same-sex couples Tuesday, and one of the key changes allows service members’ same-sex spouses to obtain a spousal military ID card. The card provides access to bases and services provided by the military to military families, and, before Tuesday, it was available only to opposite-sex spouses.

More here

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Morgan Whitaker: Conservative Speaker Claims Obama Not Criticized Because He’s Black

Is President Obama criticized too much or too little? The answer you get may depend on who you ask. And if you’re asking at least one conservative writer, the answer is too little and the reason why might surprise you. Conservative writer and occasional conspiracy theorist David Horowitz joined high-profile Republicans like Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Marco Rubio at the Koch Brother-sponsored “Defending the American Dream Summit,” in Florida last Friday. While his fellow speakers were busy blasting the president, Horowitz claimed that Obama doesn’t get attacked enough as The Washington Post first reported.

“The reason we don’t attack him is obvious, but no one will say it out loud. I will: It’s because the color of his skin is black–actually he’s half black,” Horowitz told the crowd. “It is because Obama is a minority that nobody will hold him to a standard or confront him with what he has done.” In reality, the president receives criticism on a nearly daily basis, from everything from his policies to his demeanor.

More here

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Steve Benen: ‘We Agree With The Same Red Line, Actually’

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) issued a statement this afternoon that left his position on Syria unclear, though he complained that President Obama “has some work to do to recover from his grave missteps in Syria.” Curiously, the Wisconsin Republican didn’t say what “grave missteps” he disapproves of. When GOP lawmakers generally make this complaint, they’re referring to Obama last year declaring Syria’s use of chemical weapons a “red line” that the Assad government must not cross. But Ryan really isn’t in a position to make this complaint. As CNBC’s Eamon Javers noted today, this was the exchange from last year’s vice presidential candidates’ debate:

RADDATZ: What happens if Assad does not fall? Congressman Ryan, what happens to the region? What happens if he hangs on? What happens if he does?

RYAN: Then Iran keeps their greatest ally in the region. He’s a sponsor of terrorism. He’ll probably continue slaughtering his people. We and the world community will lose our credibility on this….

RADDATZ: So what would Romney-Ryan do about that credibility?

RYAN: Well, we agree with the same red line, actually, they do on chemical weapons, but not putting American troops in, other than to secure those chemical weapons. They’re right about that.

More here

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03
Sep
13

Rise and Shine

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The Week Ahead (All Times Eastern):

Today:

9:45 AM: President Obama and VP Biden meet with members of Congress

8:30 PM: President Obama departs the White House en route Stockholm, Swede

Wednesday: The President will arrive in Stockholm. While there, he will hold a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Reinfeldt. He will then participate in an event honoring Raoul Wallenberg at the Great Synagogue in Stockholm and tour an expo featuring clean energy innovations at the Royal Institute of Technology. In the evening, he will take part in a dinner with Nordic Leaders.

Thursday: The President will hold a bilateral meeting with the King and Queen of Sweden. He will then depart Stockholm en route Saint Petersburg, Russia where he will attend the G-20 Summit.

Friday: Attends the G-20 Summit. Returns to Washington, DC on Friday evening.

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ABC: Obama to Include LGBT Activists in Russia Meetings

President Obama will include members of Russian LGBT groups among the NGO leaders, democracy activists and human rights advocates he meets later this week when he is in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News.

It’s typical for visiting U.S. officials, including the president, to meet with civil society members here in Russia, something that always irks the Kremlin. But this appears to be the first time LGBT groups have been included in a presidential-level meeting.

…. It comes after a summer of international outrage over Russia’s new gay “propaganda” law, which outlaws even discussing homosexuality around minors. Violators could be fined and jailed. Foreigners face similar penalties plus deportation.

During an appearance on Jay Leno’s show last month, Obama was asked about the law and said he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

More here

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USA Today: Obama’s day: Lobbying Congress, leaving for Europe

President Obama spends a big part of a busy Tuesday making his case for a military strike on Syria, speaking with invited members of Congress at the White House.

The White House did not release a guest list, but it is expected to include members of military and national security committees, as well as congressional leaders.

….. Obama’s lobbying effort goes global later in the week.

On Tuesday night, the president departs for Stockholm, Sweden. After a brief stop there, he heads to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit, where Syria is likely to be a dominant topic.

Full post

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Rick Ungar (Forbes): Media Outlets Spitting Mad At Obama For Spoiling Their Plans To Cash In On War

Following the President’ surprise announcement that he would seek the advice and consent of Congress before launching an attack on Syria, it seemed that no matter where you landed on the cable news dial everyone was in a state of upset.

With visions of TV screens filled with ‘shock and awe’ dancing in their heads along with the blessed promise of the ratings that follow the hysteria of war—not to mention a sublime ending to the slow news agony of August that dogs all news show production staffs, writers and broadcasters (trust me,I know)—Obama had held out the football for Charlie Brown to kick and then pulled it away at the last minute.

And the media was pissed.

…. And then there were the pundits appearing on networks representing all sides of the political spectrum — including those who claim to play it ‘down the middle’ — who took to the airwaves to angrily argue that the President’s backing off an attack pending Congressional approval would weaken America in the eyes of the world.

Really?

More here

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Washington Post: Where The Votes Stand On Syria:

See here for details

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Charles Pierce: Joe Lieberman – Just Shut Up

Let me be more precise. Just shut your fking piehole. Forever. You useless walking, bloodstained pile of casual death.

…. Let us be clear. There is no blazing, murderous maw into which Joe Lieberman would not be willing to feed someone else’s child ….. The man could care less about the dead. He’d feed on them himself, if he could.

Fk him with a Hellfire.

Now that my throat’s clear, let’s start the day.

Full post here

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The People’s View: The Most Worker Friendly President Since FDR

…. The working folk of America needed a champion – we needed a fierce advocate, if you will. And we elected one in 2008. If by some miracle of happenstance, President Obama didn’t have to work twice as hard to get half the recognition, even from “liberals” in the media, it would be patently obvious to everyone that the man presently occupying the Oval Office is the most worker-friendly president since Franklin Roosevelt. Barack Obama is a president who has more than kept his word to always make the best decision for people who work for a living.

…. a look at basically all of the president’s domestic policy – from bills that became law to bills that were blocked by Republicans, from legislation to administrative rulemaking – has been focused on one thing and one thing alone: helping America’s workers regain a footing in this economy. His job has not been easy, to put a severely mild point on it. But if on this labor day, we’re looking for a best friend of the American worker in government, the man behind the presidential seal is a pretty good pick.

Full post here

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Tom Kludt: Obama Discusses Syria With Japan PM

President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday discussed the purported chemical weapons attack in Syria.

According to a White House readout of the phone call, both leaders “agreed that the use of chemical weapons is a serious violation of international norms and cannot be tolerated” while pledging to stay in close consultation on a potential response against the Assad regime in Syria.

More here

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Jerusalem Post: Obama Offers Rosh Hashanah Greetings In Conference Call With Rabbis

US President Obama reflected on the High Holidays and offered New Year’s greetings in a conference call with nearly 1,000 rabbis.

Obama in the call on Friday afternoon extended the greetings on behalf of himself and the first lady for a sweet, happy and healthy New Year….

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins on Wednesday evening.

More here

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Think Progress: Eleven Other Things American Workers Deserve (Besides A Day Off)

Labor Day is meant to celebrate the accomplishments of the American worker, who spends most days on an oil rig or in an office, on the assembly line or on the docks, making the American economy run. The holiday originated in 1894, after two dozen people were killed during the Pullman Strike, a railway workers’ boycott of low wages and high rent. From there, it became an American tradition, meant to honor the accomplishments of the people who make this nation run.

The battle is not yet won. Unions are on the decline, while income inequality is on the rise. Women still aren’t earning what men make. And many employees still aren’t free from discrimination at their jobs. Here are just eleven of the fights we’re still fighting for the American worker

More here

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Caitlin McDevitt: Robert De Niro On Obama: He’s Trying His Best

Actor Robert De Niro defends President Barack Obama as a “good person” who’s “trying his best” for the country in the in the fall issue of Du Jour magazine:

Working as an actor his entire life means that De Niro sees everything through that lens. In describing his steadfast support for Barack Obama, he compares the president’s challenges to a filmmaker’s. “He’s a good person, period,” he says. “He’s trying his best. He’s going to do things that people feel are not right or violating one right or another. But at the end of the day, he represents, I think, the best of the type of people that I would like to see running the government. He has to play that game, the political game. They all do. They make statements they can’t honor because they’re impossible to honor. Once you get into that Washington machinery, you’ve just got to figure it out and swim against the current and grab onto this rock and that, and just try to maintain your course.”

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“You know, it’s one thing to be a critic,” he continues. “It’s another thing to be directly involved. It’s like directing a movie and you edit the film and then someone will give you a suggestion: ‘You could do this, you could do that.’ You look and you say, ‘Yeah, but the reason I can’t do that is because I don’t have that shot, and if I use this shot that’s better here, it impacts on this one and it’s a story point.’ In other words, it can’t be done. You have to make these choices with the government, and you’re going to be criticized. If you took the time to explain it all to the public, they’d say, ‘OK, I get it.’ Can you explain to everybody? No. You just have to say, ‘I made this choice because I felt it was the right choice.’”

More here

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31
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

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The Week Ahead:

Today, tomorrow and Monday: The President has no public events scheduled.

Tuesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House. In the evening, he will depart Washington, DC en route Stockholm, Sweden.

Wednesday: The President will arrive in Stockholm. While there, he will hold a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Reinfeldt. He will then participate in an event honoring Raoul Wallenberg at the Great Synagogue in Stockholm and tour an expo featuring clean energy innovations at the Royal Institute of Technology. In the evening, he will take part in a dinner with Nordic Leaders.

Thursday: The President will hold a bilateral meeting with the King and Queen of Sweden. He will then depart Stockholm en route Saint Petersburg, Russia where he will attend the G-20 Summit.

Friday: Attends the G-20 Summit. Returns to Washington, DC on Friday evening.

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Vice President Biden listens as President Obama speaks to members of the media about Syria during a meeting with Baltic leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Aug. 30

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Washington Post: The one map that shows why Syria is so complicated:

…. The map, from Columbia University’s really exceptional Gulf/2000 Project, shows the different ethnic and linguistic groups of the Levant, the part of the Middle East that’s dominated by Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Each color represents a different group. As you can see, there are a lot of groups swirled together. There are enclaves, and there is overlap.

Ethnic and linguistic breakdowns are just one part of Syria’s complexity, of course. But they are a really important part. The country’s largest group is shown in yellow, signifying ethnic Arabs who follow Sunni Islam, the largest sect of Islam. Shades of brown indicate ethnic Kurds, long oppressed in Syria, who have taken up arms against the regime. There are also Druze, a religious sect, Arab Christians, ethnic Armenians and others.

More here

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Graphic showing foreign forces and bases in the Middle East and selected military equipment

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Washington Post: 9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask

The United States and allies are preparing for a possibly imminent series of limited military strikes against Syria, the first direct U.S. intervention in the two-year civil war, in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.

If you found the above sentence kind of confusing, or aren’t exactly sure why Syria is fighting a civil war, or even where Syria is located, then this is the article for you. What’s happening in Syria is really important, but it can also be confusing and difficult to follow even for those of us glued to it.

Here, then, are the most basic answers to your most basic questions.

More here

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A Word from CarolDuhart:

This week more than ever has reminded me of how lucky and blessed we are to have chosen Obama. His deliberation in the face of a howling chorus is a far contrast to any other President in my lifetime. And in far contrast to the other alternatives. Those emoprogs and those having Iraq flashbacks and comparing him to Bush need to remember that unlike Bush, Obama makes his own decisions based on logic, truth, and in his own time. He doesn’t lie, he doesn’t chestbeat, he doesn’t rush in without planning. He doesn’t need to cement a place in history: just being the first African-American President has secured that. Obama is the man that Shrub could never be, the President he couldn’t even try to be. That very maturity drives both right and left crazy, for we haven’t had a President like him, really, ever. Think about it: a President who isn’t driven by his insecurities like Nixon or Carter, who doesn’t buy into ideological crap like Reagan or Daddy Bush, or sometimes the captive of his appetites like Clinton, or lazy like Bush. There are no hooks on him to make him do something he doesn’t want to do.

Sometimes I think many on the left have issues with power and the responsibility it brings. Having been the subjects of the abuse of power has allowed a certain “righteousness” without responsibility. It’s easy to think all uses of American military or financial power are corrupt without nuance. As long as daddy “conservatives” ran the place, there was no need to think about the deep decisions regarding America’s place in the world. Instead one could choose to “drop out” or talk “third party” or be haplessly pacifist in the face of an armed world. And one could have a progressive fiefdom of adoring followers without the need to reach out to others or be civilly engaged.

Syria is a tough cookie, no matter how you slice it. Assad is just like his father, a brutal bastard who has shown he would kill everyone he can to keep a power that was never granted to him either by election or a legitimate monarchy. And while many of the rebels just want Assad gone and a chance to take their lives in their own hands, some of the assistants just want another theocracy like Iran, which is simply tyranny by another name. But chemical weapons are the cruelest of all weapons. Even after the dead are buried, the soil is heavily contaminated, killing people long after the war is over. So Obama has a hard decision to make, but he’s up to the task and I trust him based on experience to make the right one or at least the best one he can make. If he goes for it, he has a plan to get things done. If he pulls away from the brink, he’ll have something to show for it.

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Spandan C (The People’s View): The US Intelligence Assessment on Syria and the Next Steps in the National Debate

…. This president and his administration has done everything possible up to this point to avoid getting involved in Syria militarily, against the drum beats of the war mongers. Even now, he has shown considerable restraint. But it is important to remember that Barack Obama was not elected on the promise of complete and total pacifism; he was elected on the promise of careful consideration, judgment and letting the facts speak for themselves.

Whatever the president does, I am sure his critics will be many and the criticisms will be far and wide. As has been noted, he has no good options here. But as we debate this going forward, I want us to understand the complexity of the issue, drop the righteousness (either side – no one should take the idea of dropping bombs lightly just as no one should make light of the massacre from the chemical weapons), and do something the pundits won’t do – let’s keep it on the facts, not the conjectures and the rhetoric.

Full post here

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SmartyPants: In the meantime…progress

As we’ve all been consumed with what President Obama will do in Syria, this administration is making some serious progress in other areas. For example:

President Obama took executive action to close gun purchase loopholes.

The IRS will recognize all gay marriages.

HHS announced that Medicare benefits will be extended to same-sex couples.

In yet another step to end the “war on drugs,” Attorney General Eric Holder gave a green light to state measures legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

But yeah, to some folks, Obama is just like Bush. LOL

See post here – with links to all that beautiful progress

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Washington Post: Ginsburg will be first justice to officiate at same-sex wedding

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will become the first Supreme Court member to conduct a same-sex marriage ceremony Saturday when she officiates at the Washington wedding of Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser.

The gala wedding of Kaiser and economist John Roberts at the performing arts center brings together the nation’s highest court and the capital’s high society and will mark a new milepost in the recognition of same-sex unions.

…. During a recent interview, Ginsburg seemed excited about being the first member of the court to conduct such a ceremony and said it was only a logical next step.

“I think it will be one more statement that people who love each other and want to live together should be able to enjoy the blessings and the strife in the marriage relationship,” Ginsburg said.

More here

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Excellent:

Dallas News: Wendy Davis raises $470,000 from outside Texas following her nationally viewed filibuster

In the six weeks following her headline-grabbing filibuster, Wendy Davis raised $1.2 million — nearly 40 percent of it from outside Texas. Davis drew national attention following the filibuster against an abortion-restriction bill that helped shut down the Texas Senate and prompted Gov. Rick Perry to call lawmakers back into another special session. In the wake of Davis’ new-found fame, Davis has been urged by some Democrats to run for governor next year. She says she will announce her political plans — whether to run for reelection as a senator from Fort Worth or as a Democrat for governor — in a few weeks.

More here

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Hey, our very brilliant Liberal Librarian has a new admirer, the very brilliant Kurt Eichenwald of Vanity Fair:

Congratulaaaaaaaaations LL!! But if you end up being hired by Vanity Fair, don’t forget us!

In case you missed it: LL’s post on Syria yesterday here

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Not such a good time, though, for another of our friends on Twitter - Jovie, I should not (literally) cry laughing at your misfortune, but it’s reeeeeeally hard:

This morning: “New account it’s my fifth in 2 weeks.

LOL!

Guinness book world of records.”

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MooooOOOOooooOOOOoooorning.




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