Reading Digest – 15 August 2012   Leave a comment

“So, first of all, smoking’s bad.  You shouldn’t smoke.” – Mr. Mackey

Damascus Bombing:

bbclogo1 Syria crisis: Blast near Damascus military compound:

A large explosion has struck close to a military compound in the Syrian capital, Damascus, near a hotel used by the UN’s observer mission.

Syrian state TV reported that three people had been injured in the blast, but that none of them were UN monitors.

aljazeeralogo1 Rebels claim responsibility for Syria blast:

The FSA planted eight explosive canisters in the vicinity of the Syrian military’s Central Security Command, timed to explode during their daily meeting, Abu al-Noor of the Ahfad Al Rasoul Brigade said.

The FSA had intelligence suggesting some 150 high-ranking officers would be attending the meeting. He did not know how many casualties had occurred because the security forces had secured the area.

"We will continue to carry out similar operations in the capital until we reach him [Assad] in the presidential palace," Abu al-Noor said.

nytimeslogo1 Explosion Strikes Near Hotel Used by U.N. in Damascus – On the plus side:

While the administration has not ruled out any option on Syria, American officials have repeatedly said they do not want to further militarize the conflict. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta reiterated that view in an interview on Monday with The Associated Press, asserting that plans for a no-fly zone in Syria were “not on the front burner as far as I know.”

Let’s hope it stays that way.  BBC has you covered for carnage porn.

Bombings in Afghanistan:

aljazeeralogo1 Afghanistan hit by wave of attacks – Things blow up with such frequency there that it’s hard for the press to even keep track.  These are all from just this story:

At least nine people in eastern Afghanistan have been wounded in a grenade attack, a day after dozens of Afghans died in a triple suicide bombing in the country’s southwest.


The explosions in Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province, along the Iranian border, killed at least 36, including 10 policemen, and left about 120 people wounded on Tuesday.


A bomb also detonated in a market in the northern province of Kunduz, killing 10 people and injuring 36 others.

The explosion, which killed several children, went off just as shoppers were heading home for the meal ending the Ramadan fast.

nytimeslogo1 Attackers in Afghanistan Kill at Least 43 – The Afghan police weren’t exactly asleep on the job, either:

The first inkling of trouble came on Monday night when police officers, acting on a tip, found two potential suicide bombers in a safe house with a large amount of explosives and weapons. They killed the two men, and on Tuesday they caught three more suspects in the plot and took them into custody. But just a few hours later, at 3 p.m., explosions began in multiple places, General Rasuli said.

This has been your daily reminder that we are still at war.  

Rohingya in Burma:

bbclogo1 Muslim homes razed in Burma’s Rakhine state – It’s a big planet, and just keeping tabs on where people are killing each other isn’t always possible:

The largest Muslim area in the Burmese city of Sittwe was razed to the ground in recent communal violence, a UK broadcaster has reported.

A team from the UK’s Channel 4 News gained access to Sittwe, which has been off limits to reporters for months.

They filmed an area once home to 10,000 that had been reduced to rubble.

aljazeeralogo1 Thousands of Rohingya helpless after violence:

The aftermath is particularly evident in the Narze quarter of the capital Sittwe, which has become a ghost town since the Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya were evacuated to keep the peace.

The refugee camps and villages lacking food now house 70,000 people, according to police Lieutenant Colonel Myo Min Aung.

Violence flared after the alleged rape of a Buddhist woman and the retribution killing of ten Muslims. Days of fighting between the Rakhine and Rohingya ensued, bringing the official death toll to 78. But that is widely believed to be grossly underestimated.

Al Jazeera also has a slideshow of the city burning and riot police in action.

Kangaroo Camps:

bbclogo1 Australia asylum: MPs back offshore processing:

The lower house passed a bill presented to parliament on Tuesday, following recommendations from an expert panel.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass in coming days because both the governing Labor Party and the opposition back it.

aljazeeralogo1 Australian MPs back asylum-centres plan – Al Jazeera has a video interview with an Australian immigration activist who is understandably not keen on this. 

Kangaroo Cigarettes:

bbclogo1 Australia cigarette plain packaging law upheld by court:

The law requires cigarettes to be sold in olive green packets, with graphic images warning of the consequences of smoking.

Leading global tobacco manufacturers, including British American Tobacco and Philip Morris, had challenged the law.


However, tobacco manufacturers have argued that removing their brand names and company colours from packets will lead to a drastic cut in profits.

Something tells me that “drastic cut in profits” isn’t the argument you want to be making. 

aljazeeralogo1 Australia court backs new tobacco laws:

Leading global tobacco manufacturers, including British American Tobacco, Britain’s Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco, had challenged the law, claiming the rules were unconstitutional because they effectively extinguished their intellectual property rights.


Industry analysts are worried plain packaging laws could spread to emerging markets like Brazil, Russia and Indonesia and threaten sales growth.

I could’ve used a quote from the “Industry analysts” there, however.  I’m sure it would delightfully elide what “sales growth” really means in that context. 

Fit to Print:

nytimeslogo1 Grandma’s Marijuana Farm in Swaziland Is Family Payday:

In 2007, her daughter Tensile died at the age of 24, she said, leaving behind four orphaned children to take in. A couple of years later another daughter, Spiwe, died, leaving three more mouths to feed. They, too, came to live with their gogo. Then in July, her daughter Nomsa died, leaving behind four more children. There was nothing to be done but move them into her one-room hut as well.


Then there are the police. They often search for marijuana fields in March and April, just before the harvest, and burn them to the ground, leaving the women with nothing to show for their hard work.

A good harvest can yield as much as 25 pounds of marijuana. But they sell to middlemen who come through the villages at harvest time, and have little bargaining power. Most make less than $400 per crop.

“The men come from South Africa to buy, but they cheat us,” Ms. Nkosi said. “What can we do? If you sit with it the police can come and arrest you.”

Once more, with feeling: Fuck the Drug War.

nytimeslogo1 Phoenix in the Grip of Unrelenting Heat:

As of Monday, the average August temperature was 100.2 degrees, or 6.2 degrees higher than normal, Mr. Waters said. By Tuesday, the temperature had reached 110 degrees for nine consecutive days; last year, the longest stretch where temperatures reached or surpassed 110 degrees was six days. Tuesday was also the 31st consecutive day the mercury hit 100 degrees.

Building a giant, sprawling city in the middle of the desert when global temperatures are rising across the board might not have been a good idea.

nytimeslogo1 Pastor Kenneth L. Miller Convicted in Parental Kidnapping Case – On the sunny side, that’s one less asshole walking around:

After only four hours of deliberation, a federal jury in Burlington, Vt., found an Amish-Mennonite pastor guilty of abetting international parental kidnapping in a widely publicized case involving a same-sex union and religious opponents of homosexuality.

The pastor, Kenneth L. Miller of Stuarts Draft, Va., could face up to three years in prison. He was convicted of helping Lisa A. Miller flee to Nicaragua with her daughter, Isabella Miller-Jenkins, in 2009 to evade court-ordered visits with Ms. Miller’s former partner in a civil union in Vermont.

In divorce, it’s always the Amish-Mennonite pastors who suffer.

Posted August 15, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Reading Digest, South Park

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