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Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Hurty, hurty,
deep and dirty.
Why can't I be more flirty?


Go, Air New Zealand, go! 

Air New Zealand made a successful two hour test flight yesterday with a Boeing 747 powered by a jatropha, a very hardy plant native to warm dry climes. This groundbreaking test was important for several reasons. Previous tests of airplane powering biofuel had been dismissed as publicity stunts because engines were fueled by products that could not be mass produced for the commercial aviation market. Other biofuels also carried the disadvantage of not being significantly more environmentally clean than conventional kerosene based jet fuels. The jatropha blend, on the other hand, produces 25% less of a carbon footprint than standard jet fuel according to Air New Zealand. Even better unlike many alternative fuels, jatropha is not a dietary staple, and therefore would not have the negative knock-on effects of fuels like ethanol, which has contributed to rising food prices across the globe.

Go, Air New Zealand, go, a bio fuel that is environmentally sound, not a food and can be mass produced, we love it. Air New Zealand hopes that by 2013, 10 percent of its flights will be powered, at least in part, by biofuels. The experimental flight was a joint venture by Air New Zealand, Boeing, engine maker Rolls Royce (yes, that Rolls Royce, formerly,) and biofuel specialist, UOP, a unit of Honeywell International. Read more here.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

A whole new way to tap into the grid 

AP Photo

Recent winter storms have resulted in widespread consumer power outages. Sometimes folks have been left for days without electricity by ice storms that have brought down power lines and swamped utility crews. We just read about a fascinating individual response, a terrific way to get your power back on, and one more reason to support President-elect Obama's alternative energy push. (Hey Detroit, get with the program.)

Toyota Prius owners pay attention!!! This item from the New York Times via the Harvard Press blew us out of the water. John Sweeney, a Harvard resident who lost power in the storms, ran his refrigerator, freezer, TV, woodstove fan, and several lights through his Toyota Prius, for three days while waiting on utility companies, on roughly five gallons of gas!!!

Mr. Sweeney wrote, in an e-mail message to The Harvard Press, “When it looked like we were going to be without power for awhile, I dug out an inverter (which takes 12v DC and creates 120v AC from it) and wired it into our Prius.” According to the Press, “the device allowed the engine to run every half hour, automatically charging the car battery and indirectly supplying the required power.”


This scenario is not entirely new, many advocates of electric cars have argued that they can help build a smart grid. This means when not in use, the Prius and other similar plug-in cars can be wired to feed electricity back into the national electricity grid. The New York Times says the President-elect is already aware, having been quoted during the campaign discussing exactly thus, how consumers can use their plug-in cars to help regulate and smooth the national power grid and supply.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ice Cream tip 

WaDuke ice cream not pictured

Virginia Tech Men's Basketball coach Seth Greenberg reports that the Washington Duke Inn in Durham, NC has the best ice cream in the world, bar none. The Clarion Content has yet to try it, but we have to give Greenberg's opinion some credence. The widely traveled Coach Greenberg, a FDU graduate, has been on coaching staffs all over the country including: Columbia University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Virginia, the University of Miami, Cal State University at Long Beach, the University of South Florida and Virginia Tech.

We have to believe the man has tried ice cream in a lot of different cities and joints. And if he bothers, during an interview about his basketball team's prospects against mighty Duke next week, to throw a shout out to the locally known, WaDuke, as the best ice cream in the world, we think it is noteworthy.

We are going to give it a try. Stay tuned to this page for further updates.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A different perspective 

Perhaps you read the Clarion Content's reporting a few days back on the rioting in Athens, Greece. We noted that Greece has a long tradition of street violence. High unemployment among youth, a stagnating economy, and rising expectations after hosting the Olympics seemed to us the tinder, the spark was the shooting of an affluent youth who was participating in actions against authority. The Clarion Content viewed (and views) these riots as very unlikely to spread beyond Greece's borders to more general international unrest, ala 1848 or 1968.

However, a certain Illinoisan blogger we read has other thoughts. He provocatively asks what we happen if, "the citizens of Illinois challenged their state government the way young people are challenging the national government in Greece?" He cites personal disgust for Governor Blagojevich's corruption case and Illinois' "politics as usual" mindset. He is inspired and calls out young Illini, "politically engaged citizens in the streets confronting their government - young people who reject complacency and refuse to accept conditions that others have imposed upon them. Yes, a better world is always possible if you're willing to partake in the struggle to bring it about."

Sadly, the youth of Illinois, like those of East Lansing, Michigan or Columbus, Ohio seem far more prepared to riot over the outcome of a sporting event, than against the ineptitude and corruption of their state's governor. The current Illinois governor's corrupt predecessor, George Ryan, is now serving time in prison and begging George Bush II for a pardon.

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Bigger than Dallas 

A troubled former Utah highway patrolman killed two apparently unconnected people in a freeway crime spree yesterday in Dallas before turning the gun on himself. He is in critical condition and not expected to survive.

Shortly before beginning his horrific Monday morning rush hour rampage, the former trooper leaped the counter at a local Garland grocery store pharmacy and stole Oxycontin at gunpoint. The perp fled by car. Minutes later 20-year-old Jorge Lopez of Rowlett, was killed while sitting in his car at a red light in Garland. The criminal then pulled on to Interstate 635 firing at 18 wheeler trucks. The first driver survived unhurt, the second 42-year-old William Miller, the driver of a United Van Lines rig was killed by gunshot wounds. Dallas police matched the bullet to bullets recovered from a standoff which ended with the former highway patrolman shooting himself. The criminal had been dismissed from the Utah Highway Patrol after an incident during which he drove his police vehicle drunk and threatened to kill himself. How and why was this former cop able to obtain a gun? Why did he decide to perpetrate his evil deeds in Dallas? Just because that was where he had moved? New neighbors claimed to have seen no warning signs.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Beef Short Ribs 

Beef Short ribs with Mushroom Risotto...side green salad

Once again the Clarion Content's editorial staff was lucky enough to be hosted by one of Durham's fine local chefs. The weather here has turned colder than we are used to abiding. This savory, rich dish will warm your palate and your belly. The process will leave your kitchen with a delightful hearty ambiance as well, there is nothing like slow cooking meat in the winter to make you grateful for what you have. Happy holidays to one and all!

So about the short ribs...
8 short ribs on bone
2 shallots (minced)
4 cloves garlic crushed
4 medium carrots (cut in thirds)
4 C of a red wine you wouldn't be scared to drink with dinner
4 C beef stock/broth
2 bay leafs
3 sprigs fresh thyme
olive oil
salt and pepper (to taste)

Preheat your favorite non-stick braising pan (large saute pan) to medium high heat (and actually wait till the pan is hot. This is very important.)

Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and add to the HOT pan with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook with a modicum of space in between them until all the sides are nicely brown. Do the ribs in batches so that they will all brown well. After meat is browned remove it from heat and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add the shallots, a little bit of salt and pepper, and cook for one minute stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for about fifteen seconds, then deglaze the pan with red wine making sure to release all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. When the bottom of the pan is clean, reduce the red wine by half, add the carrots, beef broth, bay leaf, thyme and the short ribs back to the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer so that all you see are little bubbles coming to the surface. Cover the pan and simmer for about two to three hours. How long you let it keep going depends on how big the ribs are, just take your time and cook them slow. They are really done when the meat is fork tender.

When the ribs are done remove them from the liquid. Reduce the sauce to one cup and return to the pan with any remaining ribs, keep warm for seconds.

This night chef served the short ribs over a mushroom risotto. We highly recommend this plan, mushroom risotto, and ending your meal with a green salad.

All in all...

it was a joyous evening.

Even the kitty ate well.

Canned food rules!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Things that need to be invented, part V 

After a long hiatus, we are bringing back the "Things that need to be invented" column. The Clarion Content has always viewed itself as an aggregater of good ideas. We are always trying to spread the news on the worthy things we hear good and the warnings on the bad ones. Things that need to be invented are our own original ideas and reader submissions for products, services, concepts that ought to exist, but do not yet.

This week's "thing that needs to be invented" is a microchip to be implanted inside the National Football League's official footballs, along with a chip reader that will determine the ball's exact spot on the field. Surely the technology already exists to do this, heck pets are implanted with chips of this nature, as are automobiles.

It is not so important on a play by play basis, however, it would be hugely beneficial for determining whether or not the ball broke the plane of the goal line on a potential touchdown. Last week's contests featured a controversial last minute touchdown in a battle between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, in a game for first place. Officials on the field initially called no touchdown, only to be overruled by the replay official on what looked to be at best disputable evidence from video. The microchip in the ball would nearly eliminate that ambiguity. The officials would still have to determine when the ball crossed the plane of the goal line and was it in the player's possession when it did so. Nevertheless, it seems inarguable that it would be an improvement from the guesswork way things are being done now.

Chips and beams, adapt an anti-shoplifting device, come on people, invent this, we know the ingenuity is out there. Why, Durham, North Carolina, where the Clarion Content is headquartered is the very city that invented the yellow electronic first down line that you see each week on your football games. It can be done.

Read old "Things that need to be invented" posts here. You will see this one again first. Scroll down for older ones.

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Friday, December 19, 2008


The Clarion Content was surprised to read in this morning's LA Times that more people are moving out of the state of California than into it. It is our positively biased view towards the almost nation of California that makes that fact hard for us to swallow. When this was last happening in the 1990's, we made epic arguments that it wasn't only to be factually debunked.

What, you are leaving the temperate climes of the most cutting edge place in the country behind? What, have you been reading the Clarion Content's anti-recession shoutouts to the Dakotas? Unlikely.

The LA Times says the states that Californians are most frequently moving to Texas, Nevada, Arizona and Washington. It is primarily the cost of living and the economy that folks cite as reasons for leaving. California is an expensive place in the best of times, but when jobs are scarce and the economy is contracting it becomes a downright difficult combination of circumstances. Fear not Cali, your mini empire of 38 million is not going away, a mere 135,173 more people moved out of California than moved into it, a drop in the bucket. And California rates as one of the top four states for likelihood that natives reaching 18 there stay there, with more than 69% electing not to leave. The three states that rank ahead of CA for their residents who grew up there loving it enough that they are not leaving, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

New story 

Or at least, it is a new story to the Clarion Content, we covered last year's Indiana Hoosiers college basketball season, trainwreck that it was, fairly closely. However, we did not realize just how badly coach Kelvin Sampson had let things get off the rails. (Pun intended.) Yesterday in an exclusive interview with Indianapolis Star former IU guard and last year's leading scorer Eric Gordon said that there was a major problem with drug use on the team, and that Coach Sampson knew about it. According to Gordon, Sampson, who has since, ironically, landed an assistant coaching job in the NBA on Scott "Busted for nose candy in college" Skiles staff, was too focused on winning to solve the problem. Oh really? We thought he was too focused on cheating to even notice.

Way to go Coach, we thought you had already brought as much dishonor to the Indiana program as you possible could, but there are new depths. The Clarion Content would like to add a special heartfelt, "Fuck you!!!" to all the trustees, alumni and faculty members who thought firing Coach Knight was a good idea. Yeah, yelling at the players sure was mean, good thing you ran Bobby out of there. Much better to have a coach that cheats and ignores the players' drug problems so long as the team is winning. Thank goodness the university cleaned house by firing athletic director Rick Greenspan.

Coach Sampson, there are reservations waiting in hell for you pal.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Banker desserts 

Hopefully you saw the British comedy clip we posted last week about the roots of the economic crisis. It was dry, acerbic, funny stuff. Here from the highly recommended Best of Craig's List is a little more fiery American response rooting for the bankers to get their just desserts. Ahh, comeuppance.

It is titled, "You reap what you sow: the greed of an archetypal Lehman douche."

"Most of you deserve this, you really, truly do. You chose this road because it was easy and because you’re stupid. This was and is the best you’ll ever do. You know who I’m talking about. I’m pointing the finger at you, you and you. And especially you. To all the overtanned Jersey douchebags with steroid addictions, to the smug Ivy League grads with dads in high places, to the good looking brain dead women that eschew Anne Taylor Loft for sales rack Brooks Brothers, and to the upwardly mobile black girls with fake hair and inappropriate-for-work Joyce Leslie outfits. Actually, scratch that. The black girls can stay.

Fuck all of you. You brought this upon yourselves. Your Alpha male bullshit begat this greed, your vile existence is truly at the core of this collapse. For all the times you and your drunk cronies threw up on the street outside Pacha, for all the times you made a scene on the 3:51 LIRR train to Babylon, for all the times you stood on the Path train, or the 6, iPod in hand, desperately trying not to touch anyone. You had it coming.

Is there some kind of code that says you MUST wear a blue shirt? Or is that some kind of unspoken bro ethos? Like, if you’re the dude in the white button down in Bryant Park, is no one gonna blow you? Or is conforming just that much easier, is conformity just a part of your DNA? Is that really the true reason why you’re so universally loathsome to anyone that’s not a part of that vile world?

Before the Bubble O’ Bullshit burst, you would laugh at me. You were the douche bags that felt superior, the ones who turned up their nose at their working-class roots, the ones who scoffed at their peers who worked at the Local Union. You were the ones who laughed at those that worked at non-profits and LIKED IT. “Art History? What are you going to do with a major in Art History?” Yeah, your finance major got you real fucking far. Maybe after this ship sails you’ll realize that aside from your rape trial, college didn’t teach you much of anything. Sorry bro, but in the real world, you can’t walk down the street, lacrosse stick in hand, and just get respect.

I hope that with this smashup comes your own social foreclosure. I hope all those dudes from my high school -- you know who I'm talking about -- the ones that never got good grades, the ones that never knew how to act like decent human beings, the date rapists, the juicers, the guidos, the Quinnipiac or Iona grads that never should have graduated yet somehow landed cushy Wall Street jobs -- receive the guerdon from the gods . I hope you’re evicted from your Upper East Side apartment, I hope your Denali gets repoed, I hope you can’t afford your bullshit Murray Hill lifestyle. I hope you truly get your comeuppance. Because it’s well fucking deserved and the Universe knows it. And what about me, you ask?

I’m laughing all the way to the nonexistent bank."

The Clarion Content says, "Whoa."

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One more 

We were noting for you earlier in the week here the dramatic decline in sports' corporate sponsorships and advertising dollars. We saw one more the other day. General Motors is canceling its contract to be the Yankees automotive sponsor next year. The Yankees, however, are not the Pirates and New York isn't Pittsburgh. They have replaced G.M. already, according to Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost in ESPN.com, "Toyota and Audi will take over as the club's auto sponsors." Interesting that they found two non-American car companies to work with.

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A young Iraqi journalist at a press conference threw his shoes one after the other at George Bush the II. The Clarion Content thought it quite the fitting gesture since in the Arabic and Islamic worlds shoe throwing is a very serious insult. It compares the person being insulted to the lowest thing on earth. George Bush the II is lucky he only got that after the havoc that has been wreaked on Iraq, a country that had never attacked the United States, never supported Al-Qaeda and did not have the purported stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction that were King George's raison d'être for offensive war. As we stated in these pages recently, whatever happens to the Iraqi state after the withdrawal of United States military forces, we think its successors have a strong cause for reparations.

The incident has drawn great interest throughout Iraq and the Muslim world. Ironically the brother of the shoe throwing journalist was quoted in the A.P. saying the journalist was no more of a fan of some of the protesters than he was of America and Bush. "He hates the American physical occupation as much as he hates the Iranian moral occupation," said his brother - himself a Shia according to the BBC.

See the video of the incident along with an interesting column by former U.S. Marine Tim King in the Salem-News here. Mr. King makes several salient points including, "it is important to note that in spite of the number of Western media reports lauding the success of the military conflict, most Iraqi people do not see it that way. Most believe that their nation was functional and while seriously flawed, they were able to live for the most part, an average day-to-day life before U.S. intervention.

Since the arrival of U.S. forces, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people have died and a large percentage of those who fight against U.S. and Coalition forces are not people who would have been considered terrorists prior to the current war there.

Most people in Iraq feel the United States has done them no favor in invading and occupying their country. Some, particularly those who work for the U.S. government, have a different view and strongly support the U.S. occupation. These citizens however will likely be in danger at some time in the future as a result of that support."

Elsewhere the leader of the Liberal Democrat party in England Nick Clegg said, "There must be a fully independent public inquiry...The death and injury of hundreds of British troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians in this futile war cannot simply be swept under the carpet."

Incidentally, two of the countries King George the II and the evil Dick proclaimed as knock on benefits for the United States in the "War on Terror" were in the news this week. Libya refused to vote, abstaining in the United Nations Security Council, when a resolution urging Israel and Palestine to make peace and calling the peace process "irreversible" came up for a vote. Lebanon took delivery of 10 free upgraded
MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia. Useful. Real useful, big victories, King George, Dick, you two and your erstwhile allies are really aiding the cause of peace.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grist for the mill 

Some links to things we have been following, reading on, or just happened across recently...

Custom Made Cop Cars
Read here about the E7 from Carbon Motors. The first custom made for the cops, cop car. No modified, retrofitted Crown Victorias, Tauruses or Impalas here, no Mustangs either, this baby has more in common with the recently revived Knight Rider car or the Batmobile. As the company's CEO says, "You would never send a pickup truck to go put out a fire. Why would you send a family sedan to go take care of a homeland-security issue?"

Bill Richardson facing objections
High profile Chinese-American activists are opposing President-elect Barack Obama's nomination of Bill Richardson as Commerce Secretary. Richardson was famously involved during his tenure as Bill Clinton's Energy Secretary with the high profile spying case against Taiwanese-American Wen Ho Lee. Lee worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory and was investigated for passing nuclear secrets to China. He always denied the charges, and although the man wouldn't let him off completely, obliging him to plead guilty to one felony count of downloading sensitive material, the presiding judge at his trial said 99 percent of what he was accused of passing was in the public domain. Richardson led what felt like a witch hunt at the time. He fired Lee and was the first to publicly name Lee as being under suspicion of espionage. Richardson has, "acknowledged the government made "some mistakes" in the Lee case," read more here in the San Jose Mercury News, incidentally a brilliant newspaper.

Get your surgery done in India
This one we saw in the New York Time's Health section a while back, talk about globalization. The health insurance company Wellpoint is trying out a pilot project at Serigraph, a huge printing company in Wisconsin. The program offers insured members the option of flying to India for elective surgery, with no out-of-pocket medical costs and free travel for both the patient and a plus one. Serigraph also has offices in India and the Times says, many of its employees are familiar with India. It quotes Dr. Razia Hashmi, chief medical officer for national accounts for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which is affiliated with Wellpoint, "Knee surgery that costs $70,000 to $80,000 in the United States can be performed in India for $8,000 to $10,000, including follow-up care and rehabilitation. The quality is comparable to care provided in the United States, Dr. Hashmi said. All the physicians speak English, and patients can share their medical records and consult with a surgeon in India before making the trip." Read the original article here.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ads on tests 

We assume you are familiar with the expression, sometimes you just can't make this sh*t up. It also masquerades as, truth is stranger than fiction. Hoo boy, do we have a doozy for you.

A San Diego High School teacher is selling ads on tests and quizzes, "$10 for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test, $30 for a semester final." For real. Tom Farber teaches A.P. calculus, and when the school cut his photo copying budget by a third from the previous year Farber adopted the radical plan. Takers include parents, a local structural engineering firm and an orthodontist.

The Clarion Content is no no fan of advertising. We can't even wrap the mind around this meme. Debate amongst yourselves.

Thanks to Liberation begins with Education for the steer to the full USA Today article. Rarely has mindblowing felt so apropos.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Athens riots 

Picture from NY Times

Here at the Clarion Content we have been ignoring the riots in Athens, and other parts of Greece for days. By choice. A cop shoots a rich kid and they riot? How un-American! Why not just sue? In America when a poor kid gets shot there might be riots, but a rich kid? How would his friends find out, by checking their Facebooks? What a way to start a riot...

But, folks keep emailing us about the riots. Maybe it is the concurrence with the financial crisis that has people so geeked up about it? We didn't hear anything last year when the youths of Paris burned many parked cars, and shot at the police, among other things, after two teens were killed fleeing the cops. Is it 1848 all over again?(better) Or 1968?(worse)

We did read today that sympathy protests were planned in Moscow and Madrid. Anything come of it? Anyone think anything is likely to come of it? Greece has a long tradition of mayhem in the street, in Europe, it is maybe second only to France. According to the Times of London, "there were 902 demonstrations in Athens last year that closed the central square at a cost to the economy of some £1.3 billion."

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Disorderly whodunit 

As loyal readers of the Clarion Content's politics and policy diatribes know, we are quick to point out the flaws and faults of the police and the American criminal justice system. We concede, however, that we fear that America and the world are not yet ready for an Eden-like state, sans police. We have to work beyond the dog eat dog capitalist paradigm first.

There was another reminder of that this week on the LA freeways. A 25-year-old Los Angeles man was critically wounded while driving a new silver Bentley Continental on southbound U.S. Highway 101 at around 3.30am. Police describe the vehicle valued at approximately $100,000 as riddled with bullet holes. It had crashed into a median. The driver was found unresponsive and slumped over the wheel. There were no witnesses. Police closed the freeway for more than ten hours to investigate causing a classic, massive LA traffic jam. They did find shell casings on the highway during their investigation.

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Sports sponsorship 

Some of the most visible signs of the economic downturn are occurring in sports sponsorships. Advertising is on the decline everywhere, as a non-essential cost that can be trimmed. If you know the Clarion Content's opinions about advertising, you will know we are not crushed.

It is the plethora of places we see it happening that keeps smacking us in the face. A few weeks back it was General Motors saying they couldn't keep sponsoring Tiger's bag. We heard from them again earlier this week when they cut ties with the Pittsburgh Pirates. (It took a cratering economy for them to make that move?) We have read of races losing sponsors from biking to NASCAR. A television industry ad sales exec told us this weekend, off the record, Washington better save the car companies, this is killing us. You know it is bad when they are having trouble selling the commercial time for the Super Bowl.

Ahhh, comeuppance.

Fortunately, there some sports where the money hardly matters, nature provides the playing field and the beat goes on.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

iPhone picking up steam 

We told you a few weeks back that the iPhone was coming, it was moving toward a tipping point of dominance. Two new recent harbingers said to the Clarion Content, if not the Apple iPhone, a hand held computer of some sort is on the way to your palm soon (if it is not already there.)

The word from tech bloggers and other industry experts including Computerworld is that Apple is going to sell its iPhone at Walmart. It may even be creating a special "everyman" $99 4 Gigabyte iPhone. Just the unusual decision to sell an Apple product at Wal-Mart caught the Clarion Content off-guard. Apple has long been known for selling its products almost exclusively through its own stores. In large part because Apple has cultivated a fervent culture of control, both of product and image. This had been the Apple way since very early in the personal computer wars.

The second event we noted was similarly a move away from the culture of control. However, not by Apple, but by one of its new competitors in the cell phone industry. This competitor in the Clarion Content's view has recognized, like we and others have, that the truly revolutionary, paradigm breaking thing about the iPhone is that it is not a phone at all. It is a hand held computer. The competitor that has caught on is Google. Google has been forming an open source alliance for making cell phone software. It has already released this software, Android on a T-Mobile G1. Sales of this phone have been robust with some estimates topping 500,000 units. And the open source alliance around Android just got more powerful this week when it was joined by Telco Vodafone, equipment maker Ericsson and handset maker Sony Ericsson, huge companies, other new members of the Open Handset Alliance announced included AKM Semiconductor Inc., ARM, ASUSTek Computer Inc., Atheros Communications, Borqs, Garmin International Inc., Huawei Technologies, Omron Software Co. Ltd, Softbank Mobile Corporation, Teleca AB and Toshiba Corporation.

Both of these competing developments can only be good news for the common person, hand held computers are coming to the masses. Soon. Stay tuned.

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As we have warned and warned, and warned again, violence continues in Iraq. American troops can do little to prevent the on-going civil conflict, they can only get caught in the crossfire. It is urgent that President-elect Obama withdraw as soon as possible. Today saw another terrorist incident. Fifty people, so far, were killed by a suicide bomber in a Kirkuk restaurant, thirty more are in critical condition. A Patriotic Union of Kurdistan delegation was meeting tribal leaders from the al-Hawija area council. The area around Kirkuk remains disputed and so violent that no date for elections has been set. Many children and innocent by-standers were among the casualties.

Whatever becomes of the Iraqi state, its successors will have an excellent case for demanding reparations from the United States of America and its allies.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Robin Williams 

New Robin Williams stand-up comedy recorded in England.

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Truth is often said in jest 

This comedy routine recorded in 2007, sounds all to real circa 2008, (save the racially insensitive humor.) It is a line that is frequently attributed to Shakespeare that, truth is often said in jest. Some speculate it dates to a courtly era when only the jester could point out certain things to the monarch aloud, publicly. This maxim continues to apply because humor is a natural human defense mechanism, what is indefensibly ridiculous or hard to believe is roundly mocked. This is very dry British comedy from the longest running TV show in the UK, "The South Bank Show."

Below George Parr appears on the fake talk show, "The Last Laugh."

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Michael Franti 

Playing his new song live in New York City.

"Barack Obama, yes we can!"

Special thanks to a New York City reader for sending this our way.

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Cell Phone trick 

Follow this link to a video of a fancy trick you and your friends can do with your cell phones.

Thanks to the Durham reader who sent this craziness our way. It wasn't Photoshopped? Right? Nah, there's no way.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New York cops busted 

It is all too soon for the Clarion Content to want to write a follow-up to our piece entitled "Trust the Police." (Link to it here.) Yet today we read of the ugly story surrounding the arrests of three New York City cops by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. One officer was charged with aggravated sexual abuse and faces up to 25 years prison if convicted. The other two officers were charged with trying to cover it up.

The allegations against the cops sound awful. They chased a young man whom they thought they saw smoking a joint into a subway station, handcuffed him and sodomized him with a police baton. Then they tried to cover it up, telling him if he "reported the circumstances to anyone that he would be arrested and charged with a felony."

Bad stuff. Fortunately, after weeks of stone walling one cop broke what is sometimes called the Blue Wall of silence. Courageous NYPD transit Officer Kevin Maloney testified before a grand jury against his fellow officers. The victim's screams were heard by several bystanders.

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Sad story 

The Clarion Content is fond of the old saw, "The bus can come for ya any day." Meaning any given day can be one's last. We strive to follow the immortal words of Steven King's unforgettable character Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding, "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'." Rarely is our inevitable mortality brought home so forcefully as it was by reading this tragic story this morning.

Three generations of a family and four people were wiped out in an instant, a mother, her baby, her other 15 month old daughter, and a grandmother. An F/A-18D Hornet fell from the sky over a residential neighborhood in San Diego. The house burned to the ground as did the thankfully unoccupied house next door. The young Naval Aviator flying the plane was ordered to fly to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar rather than attempt to return to the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, after one of his engines failed. En route his other engine failed, he ejected and survived the crash.

What a sad story.

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Pithy F*rging Sayings (9th ed.) 

"As James Baldwin taught us, black liberation was never only about black people. It was also about whites being liberated from the tyranny of their own white supremacy."---Adam Haslett

"The history of the world is not the theater of happiness. Periods of happiness are blank pages in it."---Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by its private citizens."---Alexis de Tocqueville

"Success is a partnership between the individual and society. It's true in sports, and it's true in the rest of life as well."---Malcolm Gladwell

"The lessons I learned while playing basketball for the Citadel Bulldogs from 1963 to 1967 have proven priceless to me as both a writer and a man. I have a sense of fair play and sportsmanship. My work ethic is credible and you can count on me in the clutch. When given an assignment, I carry it out to completion, my five senses lit up in concentration. I believe with all my heart that athletics is one of the finest preparations for most of the intricacies and darknesses a human life can throw at you. Athletics provide some of the richest fields of both metaphor and cliché to measure our lives against the intrusions and aggressions of other people. Basketball forced me to deal head-on with my inadequacies and terrors with no room or tolerance for evasion. Though it was a long process, I learned to honor myself for what I accomplished in a sport where I was overmatched and out of my league. I never once approached greatness, but towards the end of my career, I was always in the game."---Pat Conroy

Link to old P.F. Sayings posts here. You will see this one again first. Scroll down for older ones.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Never would have guessed 

capital building

We never would have guessed? Would you?

Which state has thus far sidestepped the recession nigh economic crisis? Whilst so many other state budgets are exploding with red ink, this state has a $1.2 billion budget surplus. The number of new cars sold was up 27% from last year. Its unemployment rate is a minuscule 3.4%. Recruiters troll out of state for job seekers.

Hint 1: Microsoft is expanding its $70 million campus in the state.

Hint 2: It's cold.

Hint 3: It has benefited from high commodity prices.

A moment to think.

Okay, times up.

Got it?

Go here to check. If you're surprised, so we were.

Thanks to the New York Times for their article supplying the data used for our little game.

final, bonus hint, if you haven't peeked yet
One long time resident put it like this, “BLANK never gets as good as the rest of the country or as bad as the rest of the country, and that’s fine with us.”


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Interesting links! 

Time for a new sampling of the fantabulous, magically amazing, interesting links. If you are interested in looking at our old interesting links posts click here. Many of these links were compiled from reader submissions, so if you have cool links, send'em our way...

Without further adieu, our first link is to some nearly Hiro Protagonist style living---while not quite the storage unit Hiro lived in (allegedly,) these are converted shipping containers that have been turned into domiciles, guest quarters and the like. Bad ass. Three pages of photos from Tree Hugger.com This link was submitted by one of our wonderful North Jersey readers.

Next up, when we tell you this site, miscellaneous pics blogspot, has insanely cool pictures, we are not yanking your chain.

This fascinating link was forwarded to us by a local, Durham, Clarion Content reader. The upshot is seized drug money and assets are quite the sticky wicket. For while it might incentivize local law enforcement to go forth and enforce drug laws to let them keep what they can seize from the criminals, but, it still might not be a great idea. Read about the unintended consequences and other issues that can arise in this excellent NPR piece.

This is a link is of an entirely different nature. It is to an article detailing a service that allows users to figure out who is googling them. Now most of us have googled a few names out of the past, it is easy to imagine how one might be curious to see who was googling you. But beyond the most obvious personal reasons to subscribe to this service called, Ziggs, are the business applications. Imagine the possibilities in terms of learning who is looking at your firm or looking your business up. Also seems like it would have wonderful for political applications where one contacts supporters and potential supporters by knowing about who looked you up. Of course, the whole thing sounds quite big brotherish, too. Always the conundrum with the internet, the good and the awful tend to run contiguously.

Next up a smashing idea forwarded to us by one of our northern most New Jersey readers. This service offered currently in San Diego, California is sure to catch on elsewhere. The story fits perfectly in a modern American context. American society, modern society, can often be frustrating, vexing, aggravating, but the appropriate outlets for that anger and emotion in this society are very limited. Enter an American entrepreneur, Sarah Lavely, founder of Sarah's Smash Shack, where customers pay to smash dinner plates, glasses, cups, mugs, vases and a variety of other breakables. Ms. Lavely insures this takes place in a much safer environment than breaking things around one's own house. The smashing is done in soundproof "breaking rooms" where customers - outfitted in coveralls, boots, gloves and helmets - crouch behind a wall and whip dishes, glasses and other breakables at a stainless steel barrier. Smashy, smashy. Lavely told CNN that the breaking of the taboo by breaking something makes for a great outlet for anger and angst. And the broken glass is donated to art programs throughout the region.

Finally we are going to wrap it up with links to two excellent local artists. The first one is a Durham resident by way of New Orleans. He works in modern visual mediums, from sculpture to painting. See his work here.

The second one is an amazing photographer and photo journalist out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina by way of Charlotte. She is an insightful reader of people. Her skills bring light and life to her subjects, causing all of us here at the Clarion Content to reflect deeply on the importance of Art in society. See her latest photo essay here.

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UNC basketball, WOW! 

Winning it all? It's tough even with the best team.

The Clarion Content normally does not cover a lot of college basketball before the New Year's holiday. In our view, it typically takes at least that long for things to start sorting themselves out, for the hype to dissipate, for the pretenders to separate themselves from the contenders. This year may be different.

This year a single squad is poised to dominate the college basketball landscape like no team since UNLV in 1990-91, perhaps even to make a run at joining the last undefeated, national champion, Indiana University 1976, in immortality. The University of North Carolina Tar Heels look just that good. The Clarion Content, despite our geographical proximity, is no homer for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We are just long time college basketball fans who have seen something special.

It starts with the national player of the year returning for his senior season, Tyler Hansbrough. A solid post player, Hansbrough averaged 22.6 points per game last year, the most of anyone at UNC since 1969-70. (more than Jordan, Worthy, Sheed, Stack, or May.) He is the first person to return after winning the player of the year since Shaq in 1991. Of course, the past two seasons have demonstrated that having the young man voted the best overall player is not enough by itself. What really sets Carolina apart this year is the cast of characters around Hansbrough.

Point guard Ty Lawson is a future lottery pick. He was a likely first round draft pick last year, but elected to return to Chapel Hill. Lawson, already strong with the ball, has really elevated his game so far this year. Lawson is averaging nearly 17 points and 7 assists per game, but what is truly mind boggling is his nearly off the charts 6 to 1 assist to turnover ratio.

The Tar Heels have several other likely NBA players on the squad. Junior forward Deon Thompson has nearly doubled his scoring and rebounding averages from last year as he has filled out and become more comfortable in his body. Guard Danny Green looks like a terrific defensive stopper with NBA speed, and is contributing 13.5 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Senior Bobby Frasor is a serviceable back-up point guard and a steadying hand if the Tar Heels ever have to play any close games. Finally, the one young guy whom people aren't talking about enough yet is (as Dickie V would say) the super-scintillating freshman forward, Ed Davis. Davis looks like Greg Oden's younger brother, as in his body is 18 going on 30. He is a man amongst boys, Oden-like except he is twice as athletic as the stiff, earthbound Oden. Davis shows the hops of a triple jumper. He is insanely talented, averaging nearly 10 points and 9 rebounds per game in very limited minutes early in the season.

Folks, the Tar Heels are loaded. Watching them blow out top 15 Michigan State in Michigan by 30 plus the other night, the only comparisons for this group coming to the Clarion Content were historical. There is nobody talent-wise who comes even close to this squad in this year's NCAA.

UNC's only Achilles heel is their atrocious game coach, Roy Williams. Can Williams take the best squad to the NCAA tournament and lose? He has done it before, and it is after all a North Carolina, and Dean Smith tradition.

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Buffalo football 

The Bulls, not the Bills. Yes, the University at Buffalo, the team that will still be in town long after the NFL has absconded to Toronto permanently. The Clarion Content has been warning you for quite a while to keep your eye on hot coach, Turner Gill and his U Buff Bulls football team. Resurrected from the ashes, the Bulls had won just 10 games in the seven seasons before coach Gill took over the program in 2006, now in only their 9th in year in Division-I, the Bulls put the hammer down last night.

They crushed previously undefeated Ball State 42-24 to win the Mid-American Conference title.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Caroline Kennedy in the Senate 

- Kennedy today

New York Governor James Patterson, renown for keeping his own counsel, is soon to make an appointment to succeed Hillary Clinton as the junior Senator from New York. Whomever assumes the seat will have to run in a special election in 2010 and again for a full six year term in 2012. That is not putting off the interested politicians, read here a piece from a Washington Post blog handicapping the contenders... comprehensively right down to former governor Eliot Spitzer at a 1,000,000 to 1.

The speculation hadn't caught the Clarion Content's interest until we heard there was serious talk about Caroline Kennedy. The possibilities became more serious when Robert F. Kennedy Jr., announced he was not interested in the position, sidestepping any family competition. There is much historical brouhaha surrounding former President John F. Kennedy's only surviving child. The seat in question was once held by her Uncle Robert F. Kennedy. She has never held elective office. She is considered tightly connected to President-elect Obama having worked behind the scenes on his Vice-Presidential selection committee. She is known as an author and an attorney.

The Clarion Content confidently predicts that women will outnumber men in the United States Senate by 2036. The millennium of women is ending its 9th year. This election season, Hillary Clinton was another harbinger on the one side, as was Sarah Palin on the other. The Clarion Content believes they were duly rewarded for their comparative merits.


A hero in a bad scene 

From the terrorist assault on Mumbai, perhaps you have already heard this story. Perhaps, you have read other stories of heroism from this dastardly terrorist attack. The Clarion Content read about a heroic nanny, Sandra Samuel.

She was in the Chabad House with two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg and six other people when the assault began. Only Sandra Samuel and Moshe Holtzberg made it out alive. When she was shot at early in the assault, she locked herself and fellow employee Zaki Hussein in a downstairs utility room. As Samuel described it there was screaming, hundreds of gunshots and periodic grenade blasts that shook the building. Conflicting reports say, as the gunmen went door to door looking for survivors, Sandra Samuel unlocked her door, eluded some gunmen and dared others to shoot her. All reports agree that she ran upstairs to find the boy's American and Israeli parents shot and the child crying over them. She picked him up and made another dash past the gunmen for the door.

Both, two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg and the boy's heroic nanny, Sandra Samuel are both recovering from the affair in Israel.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Cluster Bombs 

One of the very first posts on this Politics & Policy page after the Clarion Content was split into subsections was entitled "On the wrong side again." It detailed how the Bush II administration had America refusing to sign a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are canisters packed with small bombs, called bomblets that spread over a large area when a canister is dropped from a plane or fired from the ground. A percentage off the bomblets often go unexploded only later to cause awful injuries to innocent civilians. The Clarion Content noted that China, Russia, Israel, India and Pakistan also opposed the treaty. It was little noticed and not mentioned that America's imperial governor in Afghanistan had their apparatus of state opposed the the cluster bomb treaty, as well.

It is all but inconceivable that Afghanistan could oppose a cluster bomb treaty. The Russians made extensive use of them in their failed conquest of the territory of the Afghan state, circa 1978-1989. They wounded and maimed thousands of Afghans, many of whom were civilians and children. Last week, hours before the treaty signing ceremony, the Afghan government of Hamad Karzai reversed course. The New York Times speculated that the shift in position reflected the waning influence of the Bush II administration in Afghanistan, in the failed president's final weeks as a lame duck. The Times said the announcement was unexpected in Oslo and, "A group of Afghan survivors of cluster bombs, most of them in wheelchairs or on crutches, burst into tears when they heard [it.]"

Hopefully, President-elect Obama will recognize that cluster bombs, like land mines are nefarious weapons designed to punish an enemy's non-combatant civilians. They are not a weapon America needs in its arsenal.

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Finacial crisis roots and shoots 

Link here to an unbelievably amazing article by Michael Lewis on Conde Nast's Portfolio.com. Nothing else the Clarion Content has seen yet even comes close to detailing intimate underpinnings of the current financial morass. You may remember Lewis from his books, Liar's Poker and Moneyball.

*Warning it's a long article.

**Special thanks to a Durham reader who sent this link our way.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's A New Day 

Follow this link to a neat new Obama related ditty, "It's A New Day" by will.i.am. The song is well constructed, the video is even better.

This link is to eleven interesting reactions to Obama's election, published in Seattle's The Stranger, including why it is now weird to wear a shirt with Obama's mug on it.

Special thanks to the Durhamanians who sent this stuff our way.

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NBA notes 

A couple of quick NBA notes from the early season for your reading pleasure. The Clarion Content's staff, exclusively Knicks fans until our next hire, roots against the Nets, like all real Knicks fans. However, you have to respect Nets General Manager Rod Thorn and the work he has done. The Jason Kidd trade looks better and better ever game, as in "Here Dallas, take this always slow, and getting slower, aging veteran who has never won a thing off of our hands. Ok, I guess we can take that young, quick, scoring point guard Devin Harris in return. And two first round picks? If we must." (Thorn hangs up phone and cackles audibly.)

Is it too soon to call Greg Oden a bust? Despite what the Disney honchos think it is surely too soon for him to be doing commercials. For now, there is no doubt that Trail Blazers back-up center, eight year vet, the big polish-American kid from Minnesota, Joel Przybilla is totally outplaying him. What is Oden's ceiling as a player?

Can the Knicks please just cut Stephon Marbury already? They couldn't have handled this any worse. Their methodology is approaching their course in dealing with Anucha Browne Sanders in the levels of inaneness. Jimmy Dolan, you have got the money. You are going to have to pay Starbury, anyway. No come off of it, dumbass.

Finally, one note of warning from ESPN's Daily Dime to all the fans drinking the Lakers Kool-Aid. Phil Jackson, Kobe and the rest of the Lake Show have lost seven of their last eight games decided by a single point, including last night to the 12th place in the Eastern Conference, 7 up and 10 down, Indiana Pacers.

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NFL tidbits, goodies and predictions 

At the three quarter pole of the NFL regular season and the beginning of many folks fantasy playoffs the Clarion Content has a few NFL tidbits, goodies and predictions for you.

How cooked is Romeo Crennel's goose in Cleveland? Well it was surely done before last week's pathetic six point showing against the banged up Colts defense. But how about now that both of the Browns top two quarterbacks are out for the year? Brady Quinn had finger surgery and Derek Anderson tore up his knee, that means the Browns are heading into this week's match-up with 11 and 1 Tennessee starting Ken Dorsey from the U. Despite the fact that the last good quarterback to come out of the U, Bernie Kosar, enjoyed great success in Cleveland, Ken Dorsey has to make Browns fans a little anxious. The more interesting question is who will the Browns pull off the street as the back-up QB for the game. Doug Flutie? Jared Lorenzen? Tim Couch?

While hope has faded to black in Cleveland, this note from ESPN's NFL Power Rankings correspondent Kevin Seifert, may offer a glimmer to the winless Lions, "An 0-12 Lions team beat the Vikings at home in 2001. Guess who this week's opponent is?"

And how did we originally miss this? Raiders interim coach, Tom Cable, of University of Idaho fame, ran an option pitch play to 275 lb kicker Sebastian Janikowski as a running back on a fake field goal? So for the record, that's one running play for Janikowski this season and one missed 76 yard field goal attempt. And you wonder why the Clarion Content divorced the Raiders and Al Davis in approximately 1990.

Now for a few quick playoff predictions. The Dallas Cowboys will steal the last NFC Wild Card spot away from the amazingly resurgent Atlanta Falcons and rookie of the year to be Matt Ryan. (The Clarion Content completely underestimated Ryan. We never thought he would do what he has done.) Brett Farve and the New York Jets will not win the AFC East. Less heralded rookie QB, Joe Flacco, will lead the Baltimore Ravens to the playoffs. The eventual AFC West winner will be no more than 8-8, sorry Oakland you can't even get to 8 and 8. Check back in the coming weeks to see just how wrong we were.

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Britney Spears 

Yahoo released its list of the top ten most searched items in 2008. Six of the top ten terms were people. A person was number one on the list of most searched terms. Guess who? Britney Spears, of course. She has been the most searched thing on Yahoo, seven out of the last eight years.

A closer look at the list reveals the searchers likely skew to a younger demographic. Terms also making it into the top ten: RuneScape, a massively multiple player fantasy game arguably aimed at a younger demographic, teen star sensation, Miley Cyrus, Naruto, a current Japanese anime and manga series (also the name of the adolescent lead character.)

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Venice under water 

Follow this link to way better pictures

On no! Venice, Italy is experiencing its worst flooding in twenty years. The fourth highest tide in modern history surged into the city Monday. The pictures from the Daily Mail of England are hard to fathom. The debate in many media organs is whether or not Venice which is known to be sinking risks becoming uninhabited. The population in recent years has dwindled to 66,000 and a large percentage of those residents are elderly. The city is flooded several times a year. Residents this week say you can literally swim across St. Mark's Square. Yet the city receives as many as twenty million tourist visits a year according to the Daily Mail.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Iraq, where there is smoke 

There is fire. Last week the Clarion Content editorial staff took a hiatus for the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of us took the opportunity to spend time with our families. Some of us were subjected to rants and raves from ardent Bush II supporters about the election. One such rant was the continuing fiction that things in Iraq are all but peaceable. As the horrors of Mumbai sadly blew Iraq off the front pages, the Bush II automons took that as reason to claim all was well in Iraq. After all when was the last time, more than a 100 people had been killed on a single day in Iraq. Orwellian double speak, underreporting in the mainstream media and a mentality of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil have seeped into the public consciousness. We fear it could be infecting President-elect Obama who is rapidly backpedaling away from his promise to withdraw the troops from Iraq in less than sixteen months, who has kept on King George the II's Secretary of Defense, who has offered the Secretary of State to the notoriously pro-war Senator Clinton.

Of course, no sooner had we returned to work, a mere one day after the Mumbai attacks, there was an outbreak of violence in Iraq big enough to be noticed by the mainstream Western media. Detailed research will alert the studious to the fact that Iraq is in a steady state of civil war, on-going violence, Low-Intensity conflict. Pick your verbiage du jour. December started off with a bang, thirty-four people were killed in bombings in Baghdad and Mosul today according to the LA Times. It also reported that 339 people were killed in the on-going violence in the month of November, after 278 had been killed in October. This supposedly improved situation in recent months is still on pace to see near 7,500 deaths per annum. Non-lethal casualties run at ten times this amount.

See peace in 7,500 deaths and 75,000 wounded per year? Aren't you glad America invaded and removed that brutal dictator and his weapons of mass destruction? We bet the average Iraqi is real thankful for America this holiday season and what we have wrought on their state.

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