2012 Election | Afghanistan | Barack Obama | Deaths | Gay Marriage | Hip-Hop | Miley Cyrus | South Carolina | Sweden

NEWS: Afghanistan, Cannibalism, And Rap Battles

Picture 17
Road Lately, the New York Times has been publishing incredible long-form journalism lately. This week, they published the most beautiful, heart-broken war reporting I've seen in years; "The Hard Way Out of Afghanistan":

“People ask me all the time, ‘Can the Afghan National Security Forces hold what we’ve got and maintain security?’ ” General Toolan told me. “I say, absolutely: they’re better-trained, better-equipped and better-liked than the insurgency. They can do it. However, what is important is their will. Their will is a function of their leadership. And their leadership is oftentimes susceptible to corruption.” This perhaps would be the greatest tragedy of all: if the gains earned in Helmand by the coalition since 2006 were lost because of a lack of will. For what would the British and Americans have sacrificed so much? To what end would we be able to say 821 of them gave their lives?

Before I left Sangin, I attended a memorial service for two marines who were killed a week earlier by an I.E.D. The centerpiece of any memorial for a marine is the formal construction of his battle cross. The rifle stuck bayonet down, the helmet set atop the butt stock, the dog tags draped on the pistol grip, the boots placed on the ground. The end result is a movingly personlike assemblage of the dead man’s essential gear. What holds it all together is the rifle. Clearly, the rifle is meant to symbolize a kind of linchpin — the singularly vital thing. Yet somehow, it is the boots, their laces neatly looped and tied, that are most affecting. It is the boots, not the rifle, that most evoke an absence.

Road What are dying people's top five regrets?

Road Journalistic ethics: Should gay cruises be called gay cruises?

Road Miley Cyrus supports marriage equality, suffers Christian backlash:

... Cyrus reveals the threats and hate mail she received in 2010 after she tweeted a photo of a tattoo on her finger, which with the message "all love is equal" demonstrated her support for same-sex marriage. Cyrus writes that she was mocked by some fans, adding "They said, 'What happened to you? You used to be a Christian girl!' And I said, 'Well, if you were a true Christian, you would have your facts straight. Christianity is about love.'"

Road Is this conservative Christian's discussion of moral relativism a straw-man argument, or is there something to it?

Road The Advocate on "The Wit, Wisdom, and Rage of of Gran Fury."

Road Love finds a way! Incarcerated Swedish cannibal finds love with incarcerated Swedish vampire:

He killed mother-of-five Helle Christensen - his girlfriend at the time - by cutting her head off, eating parts of her body and then boasting about it on the Internet.

She stabbed a single father to death and then drank his blood - posing in a picture online, before her arrest, with blood dripping from her lips, holding a power saw and a knife.

... the diabolical duo live in hope. Gustafsson posted on the Internet this week: 'We want to live together at some point, have dogs and pursue our hobbies: piercing and tattoos. '

Her cannibal fiance added: 'I love Michelle. Have never met anyone like her. I want to live a non-criminal life.'

Road Georgia judge decides that Obama is a natural born citizen and can therefore be President of The United States. Obama's lawyer never bothered to show at the hearing. Some people are really upset:

Obama’s action, he said, “amounts to no less than a declaration of total dictatorial authority. Such declaration cannot go without response from this court. Failure to respond to the defendant’s contumacious conduct would amount to an admission that this court and the judicial branch as a whole do not have the authority granted to them under articles III and IV of the Constitution.”

The controversy over Obama’s eligibility dates to before his election in 2008. Some contend he was not born in Hawaii and that the birth documentation the White House released in April is a forgery.

Others say it doesn’t matter where he was born, as his father never was a U.S. citizen.

The Constitution requires presidents to be “natural-born citizens,” and experts say that the Founders regarded it as the offspring of two U.S. citizens.

... Top constitutional expert Herb Titus contends that a “natural-born citizen” is born of parents who were U.S. citizens at the time of the birth. The argument also is supported by a 19th-century U.S. Supreme Court decision, Minor vs. Happersett in 1875. The case includes one of very few references in the nation’s archives that addresses the definition of “natural-born citizen.”

That case states: “The Constitution does not in words say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners.”

Picture 19 Road Stump for marriage equality with your license plate in South Carolina.

Road (HT to Jezebel.) Everyone's saying this is a rap battle between a 17-year-old named Blizzard and his teacher. That's probably not true, but I wish it was. Because if it was -- wow! What an education! The battle starts around 1:25. Check it out AFTER THE JUMP ...


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  1. "rap battle" sounds more like a bullying competition.

    Why would you be constantly reporting on bullying, and yet glorified aggression through rhyme somehow passes as impressive entertainment?

    This is why it's hard to like rap. It's awfully narcissistic and little more than boasting and jeering.

    Posted by: Lucrece | Feb 4, 2012 9:31:51 PM

  2. FTFA: “The Constitution does not in words say who shall be natural-born citizens."

    Read the 14th amendment, you bloody blithering benighted Birther buffoons...

    Posted by: Rich F. | Feb 4, 2012 11:29:24 PM

  3. Lucrece, did you watch the clip? It's clear everyone was having a good time, airing out their (supposed) differences this way. Both competitors are incredibly smart, quick, and lyrical thinkers.

    As for your mischaracterization of rap ... to make such a statement you cannot have listened to much of it. Rap is a lot more varied than diss tracks.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 5, 2012 12:19:49 AM

  4. The conservative Christian is, as usual, mis-identifying the problem, and applying the wrong solution.

    The problem is not moral relativism or political correctness. It's good that different places implement different morals, so we can see what is best. We cannot have nor invent all the answers ourselves, and some will only be found outside our culture by seeing them in action. The real problem is twofold: a failure to empathize -- to recognize when action should be taken, and also a cultural chauvinism -- to assume our nonsense is better nonsense, and at the same time assuming that other cultures aren't worth improving when they are harming themselves.

    The solution? The Lord's Prayer is hardly the answer to honour killings. Many women were burned at the stake because of the beliefs it comes with. Not to mention the Inquisitions, the Crusades... That's "religious grace" for you. Morality pretty clearly doesn't come from following ancient (or even recent) nonsense.

    Morality comes from an honest examination of the evidence and logic. Why is honour killing bad? First, it's one person killing another, and humans usually agree not to do that except under very specific circumstances. Second, as practised, it doesn't seem to have any of the evidence, consistency, or proportionality rules that a court of law would provide, making it ripe for all manner of abuse, even if you accept it in principle. Third, it deprives everyone else, including the family itself, of the benefits that the presence of person provided. Fourth, it fails the golden rule (a rule that is evolutionarily advantageous) because those who carry out the punishment are not often subject to it when they do the same things. Fifth, the notion of honour also implies a type of duress upon the family, that they would not do this without. The list goes on, but this is more than enough to say it is wrong.

    Uganda's treatment of gay people is not purely their own cultural issue. History shows that institutional homophobia was imported from Christian Britain, and intensified by evangelicals from the US. This is our cultural issue, as much as it is theirs.

    We don't need the supernatural to live moral lives, and save people from immoral governments and mobs. We just need to pay attention, and think it out. I'm sure a philosopher would be able to argue the case better. It deserves a proper response.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 5, 2012 2:20:33 AM

  5. Proud to be a native-born Georgian -- where some of us still believe the Obama is ineligible to be President and where some are still fighting a war that, for practically everyone else, ended 147 years ago. Good grief!

    Posted by: Gregor | Feb 5, 2012 9:47:22 AM

  6. Cannibals can marry, but gay people....? Ohhh, no!

    Posted by: lewlew | Feb 5, 2012 1:34:45 PM

  7. Ya know, I cringed a bit at some of the aggression in the lyrics, cringed even more at Grist when he directed a bunch of raunch to Bradley's mom..... but in the end it really did seem all rather good-natured. And the young one showed heaps of maturity in accepting his loss.

    Posted by: sparks | Feb 5, 2012 3:05:43 PM

  8. "Georgia judge decides that Obama is a natural born citizen..."

    Good grief. Is this nonsense still an issue?

    Lol @ people who still think rap is cool.

    Posted by: Max | Feb 5, 2012 3:27:59 PM

  9. anyone that needs the bible to know that it's wrong to murder, rape and steal is a complete sociopath who should be locked up.

    it' amazing - every culture around the world understood the same basic principles of fairness and Right and Wrong. The amazing thing is how religion screwed most of it up.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Feb 5, 2012 3:42:22 PM

  10. Regarding the birther nonsense... Damn, Republicans are sore losers. The election is over, you lost and you couldn't get the Supreme Court to vote McShame and Nailin' Palin in. Get over it, already! It's obviously racism that's causing their heads to explode. They can't stand that a person of colour is in the White House.

    Posted by: Graphicjack | Feb 5, 2012 3:44:17 PM

  11. I'm sorry, but anyone who muses about the evils of cultural relativism, touting SOME of our current-day morals against honor killing as being superior to those of another country (which they are, by the way, but neither because they are ours nor because they are "Christian") while lamenting that we have strayed from our moral roots, pointing back to a time when our ancestors had their own version of honor killing is just plain stupid.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 5, 2012 4:22:24 PM

  12. Thomas Froese the conservative Christian who wrote the editorial, as usual, has created a crafty, well drafted straw man argument. The one thing which he utterly fails to address, because of his religious beliefs in God's inerrancy, permanence and omnipotence, is the one and only true constant of the universe which he does not acknowledge, change.

    The universal law of entropy requires that, with the passage of time, the universe shall become increasingly disordered and that complex structures of the past shall be replaced with newer, less formally structured systems of organization. Religionists, like the gentlemen here, wish to disbelieve that this law exists. God, after all, in their minds, created order from chaos, not the other way around. That the universes is not permanent and subsequently that human beings (being part of the universe) and the hierarchical societal structures which they create to supposedly mimic God's creation, will not go on forever is an anathema to them.

    Dispersion, or where human being are concerned, EQUALITY, is, by scientific definition, the unquestionable end result of the passage of time. To pretend somehow that human beings are immune from this is farcical at best. People are not diminished by the loss of older, outmoded and often rigid societal structures. To believe any different is to stick one’s head in the sand and believe that by doing so, nothing will change. 500 years ago, western society believed in witchcraft and that any woman who expressed any independence must be some kind of sorcerous. With the passage of time, these beliefs or beliefs like them fell away for the more educated and enlightened among us. Thomas Froese, the author of this article, is not a member of this group.

    Posted by: Robert In WeHo | Feb 5, 2012 5:18:28 PM

  13. RANDY and WEHO - those were excellent posts, clarifying, learned and enlightening. Thank you.

    Posted by: uffda | Feb 6, 2012 1:39:41 PM

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