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The unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates

January 21, 2009

Taliban warn Obama: Leave Afghanistan

Analysts say the war will be one of the new president’s toughest challenges.


As President Barack Obama steps into the White House and into history, the Taliban have a message for him: Leave Afghanistan.

“The insurgent Taliban said Wednesday that US President Barack Obama should learn from the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan and pull his troops out of the country to allow Afghans to decide their own fate,” reports The News, a popular English-language daily in Pakistan.

“We have no problem with Obama,” a spokesman for the extremist Islamist movement [said] after the inauguration of the new US president. However, “he must learn lessons from [former US president George W. Bush] and before that the Soviets,” Yousuf Ahmadi said by telephone.

Their remarks come as militants in neighboring Pakistan widened a bloody campaign in the country’s North West Frontier Province, blowing up girls’ schools and engaging in pitched battles with Pakistani military forces.

As President Obama officially enters the White House, some analysts say the fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan may be his toughest international challenge, reports ABC News.

Now the hard part begins, and there may be no harder spot on the planet for President Barack Obama than Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The unreliable border between those two countries will help determine whether some of the tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops being sent to Afghanistan will come home in body bags; whether al Qaeda can launch another attack; and whether the Taliban can continue to destabilize both countries economically and politically.

The Boston Globe adds that a “record 151 American forces died in Afghanistan in 2008, compared with 111 the previous year. It was the deadliest year yet in a seven-year war that military officials say is likely to get even bloodier this year, as thousands more American troops pour into the country.”


Responding to the challenge, the new Obama team has outlined a diplomatic as well as military approach to fighting the Taliban, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported yesterday.

Despite plans to send tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan to boost stability, the Obama administration seems to be heeding expert advice that no military solution is possible over the long term.

Hillary Clinton, Obama’s pick for secretary of state, last week omitted mention of the idea of a military victory….

“We will use all the elements of our power — diplomacy, development, and defense — to work with those in Afghanistan and Pakistan who want to root out Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other violent extremists,” Clinton said.

The challenges Obama faces were crystallized in violence in neighboring Pakistan.

Pakistani forces have been fighting Taliban militants up and down the Afghan border, and claim to have killed more than 1,500 in the last 17 months, according to AFP.

Some 60 militants were killed in the latest round of fighting on Tuesday, reports The News.

Twenty-two militants, including several local commanders, and two civilians were killed and several others sustained injuries as fighter planes and gunship helicopters blitzed different areas of Pandyalai and Lakaro Tehsils of the troubled Mohmand Agency on Tuesday. A press release of the Frontier Corps, however, claimed killing 60 militants in the ongoing operation besides securing a number of militant-held areas.

In the neighboring Swat district, the Taliban blew up five schools for girls in a growing effort to stop female education, according to Dawn, a leading English-language daily based in Karachi, Pakistan. “Swat District Coordination Officer Shaukat Khan Yousafzai said 182 schools, most of them for girls, had been destroyed by militants, affecting over 100,000 primary- to college-level students,” it reported.

The violence comes as Gen. David Petraeus, the top military commander in the Middle East, wraps up meetings with Afghan and Pakistani leaders. In Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari told General Petraeus that the US should halt the predator drone attacks it has increasingly used to target Al Qaeda and Taliban militants inside Pakistani territory, reports The News.

Pakistan on Tuesday stressed the need for halting the drone strikes and urged its key ally, the United States, to enhance intelligence-sharing with Islamabad….

President Zardari said the drone attacks in the tribal areas were weakening the writ of the government and destabilising the political process, according to sources.

The sources said the president was of the view that the ongoing war on terror had badly affected Pakistan’s economy and that the world should help Pakistan tackle the economic challenges.

Petraeus is scheduled to return to Washington on Wednesday, where he will attend Obama’s first official meeting with military commanders, reports the Associated Press.

Obama will begin to put his imprint on the nation’s war strategy in his first full day in office, gathering his top military and national security advisers at the White House for what is expected to be the start of the new commander in chief’s shift in emphasis from Iraq to Afghanistan.

According to officials, Obama will conduct a video teleconference late Wednesday afternoon with members of the National Security Council as well as the US military commanders in the two war zones.






My wife sat down on the couch next to me as I was flipping channels. She
asked, ‘What’s on TV?’
I said, ‘Dust.’
And then the fight started…
———— ——— — ——- ——— ——— ——— ———
My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary. She
said, ‘I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 200 in about 3 seconds.’
I bought her a scale.
And then the fight started….
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ———
When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her someplace
expensive… so, I took her to a gas station.
And then the fight started…
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ———
After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social
Security. The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver’s license to
verify my age. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at
home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home
and come back later.
The woman said, ‘Unbutton your shirt’. So I opened my shirt revealing my
curly silver hair. She said, ‘That silver hair on your chest is proof
enough for me’ and she processed my Social Security application.
When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social
Security office.
She said, ‘You should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten
disability, too.’
And then the fight started…
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ———
My wife and I were sitting at a table at my high school reunion, and I kept
staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby
My wife asked, ‘Do you know her?’
‘Yes,’ I sighed, ‘She’s my old girlfriend. I understand she took to
drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she
hasn’t been sober since.’
‘My God!’ says my wife, ‘who would think a person could go on celebrating
that long?’
And then the fight started…
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ———
I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, took my order
“I’ll have the strip steak, medium rare, please.”
He said, “Aren’t you worried about the mad cow?””
Nah, she can order for herself.”
And then the fight started…
———— ——— ——— —
I tried to talk my wife into buying a case of Miller Light for $14.95.
Instead, she bought a jar of cold ; cream for $207.95.
I told her the beer would make her look better at night than the cold
And then the fight started….
———– ——— ——— ——— ——
A man and a woman were asleep like two innocent babies.
Suddenly, at 3 o’clock in the morning, a loud noise came from outside.
The woman, bewildered, jumped up from the bed and yelled at the man ‘Holy
crap. That must be my husband!’
So the man jumped out of the bed; scared and naked jumped out the window.
He smashed himself on the ground, ran through a thorn bush and to his car
as fast as he could go.
A few minutes later he returned and went up to the bedroom and screamed at
the woman, ‘I AM your husband!’
The woman yelled back, ‘Yeah, then why were you running?’
And then the fight started…..
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— —-
Saturday morning I got up early, quietly dressed, made my lunch, grabbed
the dog, and slipped quietly into the garage.
I hooked up the boat up to the truck, and proceeded to back out into a
torrential downpour.
The wind was blowing 50 mph, so I pulled back into the garage, turned on
the radio, and discovered that the weather would be bad all day.
I went back into the house, quietly undressed, and slipped back into bed.
I cuddled up to my wife’s back, now with a different anticipation, and
whispered, ‘The weather out there is terrible.’
My loving wife of 10 years replied, ‘Can you believe my stupid husband is
out fishing in that?’
And then the fight started …
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— —-
I asked my wife, “Where do you want to go for our anniversary? ”
It warmed my heart to see her face melt in sweet appreciation. “Somewhere
I haven’t been in a long time!” she said.
So I suggested, “How about the kitchen?”
And that’s when the fight started….
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— —-
My wife and I are watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire while we were in
bed. I turned to her and said, “Do you want to have sex?”
“No,” she answered.
I then said, “Is that your final answer?”
She didn’t even look at me this time, simply saying “Yes.”
So I said, “Then I’d like to phone a friend.”
And that’s when the fight started….



1908New York City passes the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public, only to have the measure vetoed by the mayor.



Harpers Weekly Cartoon of the Day

On January 21, 1865, Harper’s Weekly featured a cartoon about public safety. Image and text provided by HarpWeek.

“The Merry-Andrew of the Bergen Tunnel”

Artist: Unknown

his grim Harper’s Weekly cartoon reveals the existence in the 1860’s of serious concerns for public safety on the passenger railroads of the New York City region.After the presidential election of 1864 and as the Civil War drew to a close in April 1865, public health and safety concerns regained prominence in the pages of Harper’s Weekly . Editorials, news stories, illustrations, and cartoons reported the deaths caused by the alleged negligence of railroad and steamship management or workers, comparing the accidents to “murder,” “manslaughter,” and “slaughter.” Railroad travel, according to the newspaper, was becoming increasingly hazardous, particularly in the winter months.

Editor George William Curtis suggested a strategy to improve the situation. He encouraged newspapers to publicize poorly-run railroads and steamships, and for passengers to sue the companies for negligence. Furthermore, he called for the state legislatures to regulate them. In the case of New Jersey, however, Curtis endorsed congressional regulation because he believed that the New Jersey state legislature was too dominated by the railroad companies to pass effective safety laws.

This cartoon reminds readers of a recent accident in the train tunnel to Bergen, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York City. Every day, hundreds of passenger trains passed through the Bergen Tunnel, owned by the Erie Railroad Company. It was a 4400 foot-long, unlit cavern with no signalmen assigned to it. The accident which promoted this n occurred when a train broke down just before emerging from the tunnel. The only safety precautions taken were a colored lantern hung on the caboose and flares set on the track. Another train’s engineer, seeing or hearing nothing, barreled into the back of the disabled train.

In the cartoon, death is doubly emphasized by the skull-shaped tunnel and the skeleton which floats within it. The foolishness of the danger is communicated by using the term “Merry-Andrew,” which means clown or buffoon. The accident’s commonplace nature is announced by the sign over the tunnel, “Here We are Again!” The second editorial of this issue discusses the accident under the headline “More Railroad Murders,” referring to the passengers as “slaughtered sheep in that dark den.”

Rob Kennedy


1813 – John C. Frémont, American army officer, explorer and presidential candidate (d. 1890)
John C. Frémont

John Charles Frémont (January 21, 1813 – July 13, 1890), was an American military officer, explorer, the first candidate of the Republican Party for the office of President of the United States, and the first presidential candidate of a major party to run on a platform in opposition to slavery. During the 1840s, that era’s penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder, which remains in use, sometimes as “The Great Pathfinder”.

Thomas JonathanStonewallJackson (January 21, 1824– May 10, 1863) was a Confederate general during the American Civil War, and probably the most well-known Confederate commander after General Robert E. Lee. His military career includes the Valley Campaign of 1862 and his service as a corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee. Confederate pickets accidentally shot him at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863, which the general survived, albeit with the loss of an arm to amputation. However, he died of complications of pneumonia eight days later.

Military historians consider Jackson to be one of the most gifted tactical commanders in United States history. His Valley Campaign and his envelopment of the Union Army right wing at Chancellorsville are studied worldwide even today as examples of innovative and bold leadership. He excelled as well at the First Battle of Bull Run (where he received his famous nickname “Stonewall”), Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. Jackson was not universally successful as a commander, however, as displayed by his weak and confused efforts during the Seven Days Battles around Richmond in 1862. His death was a severe setback for the Confederacy, affecting not only its military prospects, but the morale of its army and the general public; as Jackson lay dying, General Robert E. Lee sent a message to Jackson through Chaplain Lacy, saying “Give General Jackson my affectionate regards, and say to him: he has lost his left arm but I my right.”

 Karina Lombard (born January 21, 1969 in Tahiti) is an actress and singer.



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Early lifephoto15

Doña Karina Lombard’s mother, Nupuree Lightfoot, was an immigrant of Lakota Sioux ethnicity living in Tahiti. Her father, Henry Lombard, was a European aristocrat. Lombard is a naturalized U.S. citizen, but when she was one year old, her parents separated, and her father, who is of Russian, Italian and Swiss descent, took Karina and her four siblings, Helen, Inez, Charles, and Denise, to live at his estate in Barcelona, Spain. She went on to attend a number of Swiss boarding schools, including in Lausanne, where she has said that “being American Indian meant being treated like a savage”. Over the years she gained proficiency in Spanish, English, Italian, French, and German. She came to New York when she was 18 and began modeling and studying acting.

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Lombard’s major break in modeling came about due to a Calvin Klein photo shoot with a Native American theme. One of her photographs was chosen to be a billboard ad.

As an actress, her first major film was Wide Sargasso Sea in 1993, followed by the 1994 film Legends of the Fall, and in the 2000s she moved into television, appearing on the first season of The L Word, and also in The 4400. She reprised her role as Marina Ferrer in the first episode of Season Four of The L Word and made one more brief appearance later that season (as an actress auditioning for Jenny’s film, Lez Girls).

Her theatre training and stage experience primarily comes from New York City‘s Gallery Theatre, the Neighborhood Playhouse, the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and the Actors Studio. Lombard was with controversial director Damian Chapa shortly after his divorce from Natasha Henstridge.


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Lombard has hinted at being bisexual. When asked about her love scenes in The L Word she said, “I grew up in Europe and you know – you love who you love, so I didn’t have to prepare, you know what I mean?”

Later, in 2006, she did a six-page nude pictorial for Playboy where she portrayed both feminine and masculine counterparts of a lesbian couple. The concept was her own idea. She told “one night I had this dream about these images, and it was all about the dichotomy of male and female within an individual, and the empowerment within a human being in embracing the female and the male inside of you — the dichotomy of the wild self vs. the tamed self. I woke up and I was like, “Whoa — what was that about?” And when I get those dreams, it’s always very specific, and for a specific reason, it’s not random.”

Though this comment and the pictorial would seem to confirm her orientation as bisexual, she told the magazine: ‘I thought I was bisexual until I did the The L Word, then I associated it with work…”

In a Planetout interview she was asked, “What type of women are you attracted to, butch or femme?” and answered, “I don’t have categories, I just go with the person. You can be butch and really sexy, and you can be femme and really sexy.”



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