Party Time!

By Rick Paulas


If you're a progressive type, there was plenty to love about the Democratic National Convention. You had mentions of “the right to marry the person you love” (a nicely humanizing way of throwing support around gay marriage), Sandra Fluke's speech about the Republicans' failure with women's rights, and Bill Clinton flamethrowing statistics like a slick, clean, bright-toothed version of those people at Burning Man. 

But there was a troubling episode about midway through. After getting harassed by the Republican party, the Dems decided to start off Wednesday's proceedings by changing their official platform in two ways: 1) Reinstating the phrase “God-given,” troubling in plenty of ways; and 2) making a strong declaration that Jerusalem is most definitely the capital of Israel. Many Democrats were not quite pleased: “There was no discussion. We didn't even see it coming. We were blindsided by it,” said Noor Ul-Hasan, a Muslim delegate from Salt Lake City.

Now, the reason to do this kind of last-minute switcheroo is obvious and two-fold: It curtailed the inevitable attacks from the Republicans so that debate can move onto topics that would allow the Dems to shine more brightly, and to not put a wall in between them and donations from the Jewishly-minded folks. From a politically strategic point of view, then, this all makes sense. From a regular person point of view, plenty of Americans will now see these two half-thought-out symbolic acts and actually vote in a certain direction because of it. 

Onto the roundup!

- In Pakistan, a suicide bomber killed himself and two others after driving a car bomb into a car that had the markings of the U.S. consulate. (The consulate was unhurt.)
- Also in Pakistan, the government ordered volunteers with Save the Children to leave the country within four weeks. Apparently, rumors surfaced that the group was part of a CIA scheme to give out fake vaccinations, take the DNA from the needles, and try to find evidence of where bin Laden was hiding. Which, if true, is a pretty awesome plan.

- A suicide bomber attacked an Afghanistan funeral for an “influential tribal leader,” leaving at least 25 mourners dead. On the flip side of the same religious death-count coin, the Afghanistan government took out over 27 Taliban insurgents over a 24-hour-long period. Later in the week, another suicide bomber—this one 14 years old—killed at least six people near the NATO base.

- A priest in Boston was arrested for indecently assaulting a child parishioner for the past decade.

- That town in Somalia that the Islamic fundamentalist group al-Shabab has been controlling for the last bit? That's about to come to an end, as the Kenyan navy started shelling the town in preparation for an onslaught of ground forces to reclaim the city.

- The Australian Christian Lobby is angry because the country's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, decided not to speak at the group's conference after the ACL's leader made not-very-friendly comments about same-sex marriage. The comments in question: “We're going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community's own statistics for its health—which it presents when it wants more money for health—are that it has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years. The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to ten years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn't smoke.” Good call there, Gillard.

- U.S. drones kept on droning: Five more “suspected militants” in Yemen were taken out, along with eight of the same in southern Somalia.

- We've officially got ourselves a whole new terrorist group to worry about: the Pakistan-based Haqqani network—who have ties with both the Taliban and al-Qaeda—have been given“terrorist” designation by the Obama administration. What does this mean? A whole lot of freezing of assets (the group seems to get their money from real estate and murky “commercial interests”) and eventually some more drone attacks.

- Canada's decided to end diplomatic relations with Iran, after deciding they're “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today,” and officially listing them as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” Much of this comes from Iran's continued attempts to start their own nuclear program, which they'll most likely use to blow up Israel. Also of World War III note: Germany and France are getting aboard the “Iran sucks” train.

- One Million Moms, that conservative Christian protest group that relatively few people listen to, now hates Skittles because they have a commercial where a girl makes out with a walrus.

- Republican Vice Presidential hope Paul Ryan thinks the Supreme Court's decision to keep prayer out of public schools—you know, because of the whole “separation of church and state” thing—should be overturned, and, instead, it should be taken care of on a state-by-state basis.

- And Our Person of the Week: Australian Niko Alm, member of the fake-to-prove-a-point Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion, who earned the right to wear a pasta strainer—officially-recognized “religious headgear”—on his head while getting his driver's license photo taken. Well done, Mr. Alm.

- What the hey, let's have a bonus Person of the Week: Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. Last week, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo came out in support of the Maryland state initiative to legalize gay marriage. Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. responded by writing a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti urging him to, essentially, shut his players up. Kluwe himself responded with one hell of a letter back to Burns, including the phrase, “I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster.” Well done, punter.

Previously - Religious Medical Folks