* Look, everybody knows that Koreans and Jews are pretty much the same thing, which probably explains the preponderance of gochujang references in stand-up comedy. Nŏ-mu cho-a-yo!
* Taliban embraces Twitter as tool in continuing effort to better halt the influence of Western Society.
* Say what you will about Osama bin Laden, but the guy knew how to size up the value of a political leader.
Tags: Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Health Care, Islam, Jewish, Joe Biden, Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, Osama bin Laden, Religion, Science & Technology, Taliban, Terrorism, Twitter
Oh, well, here's a lovely story from Afghanistan. Seems two young lovers tried to elope, were caught, and were stoned to death yesterday…
The punishment was carried out by hundreds of the victims’ neighbors and even their family members in a village in northern Kunduz Province, according to Nadir Khan, 40, a local farmer and Taliban sympathizer, who was interviewed by telephone.
As a Taliban mullah prepared to read the judgment of a religious "court," Mr. Khan said the lovers, a 25-year-old man named Khayyam and a 19-year-old woman named Siddiqa, defiantly confessed in public to their relationship.
"They said, 'We love each other no matter what happens,' " Mr. Khan said.
But surely this was just some terrible backwards local tribal thing, yes? Surely, there is not popular support for this sort of activity?
Perhaps most worrisome were signs of support for the action from mainstream religious authorities in Afghanistan. The head of the Ulema Council in Kunduz Province, Mawlawi Abdul Yaqub, interviewed by telephone, said Monday that stoning to death was the appropriate punishment for an illegal sexual relationship, although he declined to give his view on this particular case.
And less than a week earlier, the national Ulema Council brought together 350 religious scholars in a meeting with government religious officials, who issued a joint statement Aug. 10 calling for more punishment under Shariah, apparently referring to stoning, amputations and lashings.
Failure to implement such "Islamic provisions," the council statement said, was hindering the peace process and encouraging crime.
Okay, so, cultural relativism teaches us to say, "Oh, every culture has different rules and different ideas, and who are we to say one culture's system of not-stoning-people-to-death-for-minor-moral-infractions is better than another culture's system of happily-stoning-people-to-death-for-minor-moral-infractions? We are all a beauteous mosaic of different traditions." And, on the other hand, simple pragmatism teaches us that "Afghanistan is full of misogynist pre-medieval douchebags now, was full of misogynist pre-medieval douchebags before we got there, and will almost certainly be full of misogynist pre-medieval douchebags after we leave."
Is there not some way for us to build a bridge by which the cross the gulf between our two cultures? Preferably not with stones, though.
Tags: Afghanistan, Islam, Military, Religion, Taliban
It's been a few days since we peered into the world of America's New Boyfriend, General James Mattis. In other words, it's been far too long! What awesome, straight-shootin' thing did he say at his confirmation hearing to be the head of Central Command? Look like he sounded off on the WikiLeaks scandal!
He called the leak "grossly irresponsible" and said the documents revealed nothing new. "It didn't tell us anything, that I've seen so far, that we weren't already aware of," Mattis said.
"One of the newspaper headlines was that war is a tense and dangerous thing," he said. "Well, if that is news, I don't know who it is news to that's on this planet."
YESSS! Mattis 1, Mainstream Media -92,000!
Seriously, the guy has a point. In terms of quantity, the WikiLeaks thing is the biggest leak of classified data in the history of ever. That in and of itself is a huge deal. But beyond the ginormous, epic size of the leak, does it really tell us anything we didn't already know? The war sucks, Afghanistan is hopelessly corrupt and craptastic, and the Taliban are doing just fine, thank you for asking. These sorts of major security breaches are always interesting to major political dorks/news nerds (ahem, none of THEM around these parts!) but in the end, did the American people learn anything really important? Meh.
Let's get back to comely James Mattis!
In response to questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Mattis said he expects fighting and casualties to increase.
"I believe it will be a difficult summer and into the fall," Mattis said. "We will have some bad days ahead, but so long as we hold fast and adapt faster than the enemy, the enemy's situation will continue to worsen."
This is probably the closest we will ever get to hearing a modern-day general say, "Yeah, it's gonna suck and tons of people are gonna die. But I still think we can make it shittier for the other side in the end." And BTW, don't you love the way he says "the enemy?" This is a Mattis Thing, apparently. It is old-fashioned and adorable, and what was this post about anyway? Oh, evs, confirmation hearings, he's pretty much a shoo-in. A HANDSOME, SINGLE shoo-in! SWOON.
Tags: Afghanistan, James Mattis, Lindsey Graham, Military, Senate, Taliban, WikiLeaks
So, this past weekend, we all woke up in a brand new world. One in which "vuvuzela" has gone from a collection of nonsense syllables to reigning supreme as the most popular/hated word on the Internet. One in which presidential contenders go onto national television to discuss the size of the mammary glands.
And one in which the poorest, most-god-forsaken, hollowed-out bomb-crater of a country is suddenly the El Duraceldo, the fabled Lost Country of Lithium Mineral Deposits…
The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.
The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.
Hmmmmm… I wonder if this in any way explains why the war in Afghanistan keeps going and going and going… (Yikes! So sorry, humanity! My bad.)
Anyway, this is obviously fantastic news for all of the impoverished, dust-eating citizens of the war-riddled country. Now they'll finally be able to pull themselves out from beneath the heel of American imperialism and escape the oppressive stranglehold of the Taliban's brutal strain of Wahhabistic Islamic fundamentalism. It's really the best news they've gotten since the discovery that their country is rich in nutritious heroin deposits.
Finally, some good news for those people! I wonder what color atomic limousine they'll buy first.
Tags: Afghanistan, Environment, Islam, Money, Religion, Taliban