Shorter Question Everything
• How to look foolish in 5 minutes or less: Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu writes letter to Obama, stating that he intends to defy the 23 executive orders the pres signed because he believes they are unconstitutional. When pressed by Rev. Al Sharpton, he can’t point to a single one that is unconstitutional (and has to admit that he has no authority to decide on the constitutionality in any case).
This time, the party of whiny old white male chickenhawks are having a devil of a time figuring out what they think about Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s decision, announced earlier this week, to finally lift the ban on pretending that women aren’t serving and dying in combat. (Because, you know, they are.)
On the one hand, we have Sen. John McCain, who said he respects and supports the decision. And everyone knows that when it comes to military matters, you can’t argue with McCain because he’s crashed more planes for the Navy then you’ll ever fly, son.
Then, on the flip side of the crazy coin, we have noted ex-Rep. Allen West, who thinks women serving in combat is a horrible idea because “GI Jane was a movie and should not be the basis for a policy shift.” Also, if there’s one dude who understands military policies, it’s the guy who was kinda sorta kicked out of the military for, you know, violating its policies.
We also have various conservative pundits, who’ve never actually served in the military but are quite certain that women shouldn’t either because all of a sudden, they are very concerned about protecting women from violence. Which is cute, considering this is the same party that keeps blocking the Violence Against Women Act. Because violence against women is perfectly okay—as long as they haven’t volunteered for it in service to their country.
• Here’s a list of the countries that allow women in front-line combat positions. In Europe: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania and Sweden. Elsewhere: Australia, Canada and New Zealand in the Anglosphere; plus Eritrea, Israel, and North Korea. And here are the countries that allow women in positions such as fighter pilots. Pakistan, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, at least until Panetta’s change takes effect.
• Paratroopers trained by special forces based in Canada were behind a failed counter-coup in Mali last year to bring back a democratically elected government, but many have since been hunted down and killed by the country’s military. Soldiers from the parachute regiment, 33eme RPC, were captured and later disappeared. They are believed to have been tortured and murdered by those behind Mali’s coup. Others fled to neighbouring countries. The paratroopers, who formed the elite presidential guard, were trained by members of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR), from CFB Petawawa in Ontario, in 2011 during the unit’s visits to Mali.
Right wing asshats
• Coal Company Rehires Workers After Pinning Blame For Layoffs On Obama. Throughout the 2012 presidential election, Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray used his employees as a political tool to try to defeat President Obama. Murray allegedly forced miners to attend a pro-Romney rally without pay and to contribute to Republican candidates. He announced layoffs at mines in Ohio and Utah, claiming that Obama’s “war on coal” has cost jobs and hurt his business. But months after blaming Obama for layoffs, Murray Energy is looking to hire back workers. Alec MacGillis reports this includes mines in Ohio and Utah, which had announced layoffs in the days following the election. At the time, Murray claimed the “drastic time” forced “survival mode layoffs”.
• Over 50 San Francisco-based restaurant owners are under fire for prioritizing their own profits over their workers’ health care coverage. A city-wide investigation revealed that, after the restaurant industry collected a total of $14 million in worker health care surcharges in 2011, just a third of that money actually went toward providing low-wage workers with insurance. Under a city-wide requirement, businesses in San Francisco are supposed to set aside some extra money — about $2 dollars an hour for each worker — to help their employees afford their insurance costs. When the rule first went into effect in 2008, some restaurant owners avoided raising the prices on their menu by tacking a surcharge onto the bottom of their bills and explaining to their customers that the fee would help fund workers’ health care. In some cases, not only did the surcharge money go back into owners’ pockets, but employees were denied health care altogether.