HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Tuesday, December 18, 2012




Capping the Crazy Killers


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1st: What is sadly now necessary in every school and medium big business is a "maniac" guard, armed with a military rifle w Teflon bullets (cause now the whacko losers are wearing body-armor); an ex-military, ex-warrior who has shot people... who sits around in a room watching TV forever or until he hears pop-pop-pop, then runs down to take out the killer. Even with their armour, most of these losers quickly kill themselves when confronted by any authorities. Usually there is no time for any intervention except by an onsite guard.

2nd: A huge factor in this is the Copycat Effect (exc book I reviewed- see below) in that crazies latch on to the sickest examples, and copy them to a T - same day of month, same date, same method of attack (or suicide), same weapon (in this case a Bushmaster the DC sniper used, which I wrote about at the time- below)... which has been functioning for centuries. We are 98% monkeys and imitate everything. There is a way to stop that cold- make the results for the killer so horrific that it is a deterrent to the next one. In ancient Greece there was a rash of virgin suicides; they paraded the next girl through the streets naked and boom... they stopped. These sick abused losers want to seen as powerful, and nothing is more counter to that than humiliation. As bad as it seems, I think cops should not take them alive, and even should smash their face in- photos of that would dissuade the next ones. In the 2 days after Newtown, there were about 5 mass shootings. This is under-reported because the media forcefully rejects their own culpability-  hey it sells papers + soap!

3rd: Prohibit massive magazines and clips, even make them completely illegal; and greatly restrict military grade rifles, esp fast semi-autos (I know this is hard because any semi-auto is capable of mass death), but their cyclical rate can be slowed. Guns are cool and fun and useful, but the problem is they make murder too easy of the way-too-many a-holes running around. FreshAir-assault rifles I've owned them, but most people shouldn't be trusted with them. At a handgun training seminar I went to, most of the people were ignorant swine snarling about how they would blow away anyone crossing their property- I was convinced 80% should never own a firearm (inc most police)!

4th: Complete criminal + mental health background checks and 1 week waiting period including ALL gun show and private sales, with big penalties for floutation. In Wyoming, you could go down to the 24hr IGA, pick up a $42 pistol at 2am with no paperwork, and take care of that vexing disrespectful wifey or abusive lout hubby. 3-4 times more people with guns are SHOT BY THE INTRUDER than shoot the intruder, no matter what bull the NRA liars say. There is no need, in almost every instance, to buy them TODAY. You are many times more likely to kill your spouse or kid or parent or neighbor or yourself than any dangerous intruder- THAT'S who you really fight with, and a gun is a very efficient "solution". Limit purchases to 2 total per person, 1 per year. This survivalist shooter mother believed in some apolocalyptic future, and had trained her obviously severely disturbed son in shooting at the target range- the terrible truth is many many maniacs could pass the sanity tests to get weapons. One report said he was set off because she wanted to commit him, but she had prepared him well for the End of Days.

5th: Mandatory for any doctor or civilian to inform authorities about anyone who speaks of inflicting mass random death, if they aren't kidding. Most of these monsters tell SOMEONE, who of course doesn't believe them because they've always been ineffectual nerds before. I guarantee Lanza's or the Dark Knight freak's family or friends realized they were close to the edge, down by the corner.

6th: Real serious crackdown on bullies (inc. expulsion)- probably 80% of these sometimes effeminate killers were tortured for ages in their schools or work by some punks or gang of "In" kids while authorities looked the other way. They always look the other way under the perverse notion that Darwinian selection is part of the education process. The killers' attacks are their attempt to deselect their tormenters, but they are now so addled that that includes everyone! The fact no one has done any serious analysis of this in any article I've seen is indicative of the problem (Mark Ames wrote a book on it, but the contemptible jerk actually said the random victims "deserved it" - I met him in Moscow + he is that big a jerk).

7th: A total ban on releasing the killer's name, work, reasons, etc- make them a non-person... and I say this as a journo. The vast majority are doing this for the fame, for their one day in the sun, and we can remove that incentive. They go after young school kids for maximum impact, maximum horror, maximum fame.

8th: Immediate $10 billion program to build mental health clinics or hospitals to replace the evaporation of the mental health system. Clinics don't have to cost much- there isn't much equipment needed, and psychiatrists can be encouraged to volunteer; but there should be something for the severely disturbed in every city bigger than 100K. Make mandatory commitment for the dangerously disturbed easier.

9th: Some responsibility in Hollywood in depicting any mass shooting- by the age of 14, a kid has seen, what, 20,000 shootings on TV and movies- why wouldn't they think it's neat? But the religious nuts go berserk over a breast or 2. Make love not war.

10th: Take on the NRA head-on - full investigation, end tax breaks, prosecutions of threats on lawmakers or the Prez; stop their constant criminal extortion of Congress. I believe in gun rights, but I believe the NRA are blackmailing scumbags and need to be taken down. Power of NRA OnPoint radio

11th: Properly interpret the 2nd Amendment, esp a WELL REGULATED MILITIA- that means a State (now National) Guard, not any yahoo with a machine gun! In those days it took 30 seconds to reload, and the imagined enemy was an out-of-control federal Army, not schoolkids.  I actually have some sympathy to the idea that more armed people would help stop these psychos, since police typically act with such cowardice (in Columbine they allowed the wounded to die for 2 1/2 hours after the shooters were dead while they terrorized the poor traumatized students). All cops must be trained to go in immediately and stop the shooter- they still operate by obsolete FBI hostage tactics that involve "controlling" the perimeters while people are being slaughtered.

12th: Which means Impeach Thomas and or Scalia. These lowlife retrograde Neanderthals have chosen a loser President who killed 400K in a traitorous unnecessary war, decided billionaires can buy any elections, almost destroyed Obama just as a political excersize, will never restrict guns, and want to turn the clock back to the 1890's when the barons ran wild. In one recent year, there were 39 murders by gun in the UK, but 9,000 in the United States. America doesn't need 300 mil guns, what they guarantee is that when the Anthropogenic Global Warming famines hit, we will become a vast killing field"... so maybe the good people should hang onto theirs. Ha ha.

Finally finally after hundreds of these mass murders, there seems to be the will to act on this, but it will last maybe a month before NRA threats and RW sickness reverse any action. GO TO IT OBAMA + States!

In a pretty good speech, interrupted by Code Pink protesters blocking the camera with a sign The NRA is killing our kids, the detestable NRA's Wayne LaPierre partially advocated my suggestion: a policeman in every school (way too expensive): "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun." This of course will sell even more guns, which is happening.

PS: I've faced robbers/crazies with guns 5 times in my life- each time I luckily played it just right, but it is a deeply terrifying experience- and there is no right way to reason with rampage killers.  LIVING in the DANGER ZONE
THE COPYCAT EFFECT- ARCHIVE  MediaChannel  proves sensational media coverage of deadly mayhem causes people to copy it; Loren Coleman's important new book; Media + journalistic response; Ethics and better approaches; Analysis of newsmags coverage; Possible imminent risks: 2005

MONSTERS from the NORTHWEST- ARCHIVE not surprising one sniper is from Seattle area- world capital for serial killers- causes, effects, and personal impacts- 11/1/02
 On a lighter note re. an imaginary end of the world:


   great REM song
Well, the weak minded around the world have latched onto the so-called Dec 21 Winter Solistice Mayan Apocalypse to project their deep disquiet with the coming AGW collapse (I think), blending a wild pop culture mix of Mayan thoughts into a dark vision (like there aren’t enough real problems to worry about). In Siberia, Russians (who’ve never met a folk legend they didn’t embrace) have cleared out the stores of food, candles, matches, + of course vodka. Merry Christmas, except that happens Jan 7 here.

I’ve spent 6 months in the Yucatan, exploring, sleeping in, and reading about Mayan temples/cities; interspersed with scuba diving in spectacular reefs and the longest cave/underground river systems in the world (200 miles). The Mayans, who are the only near pure Indian population remaining in the world (90%, they fought a 50 year war w Mexican government and didn’t lose), are very warm and nice tiny people 4’ 6”- 5’. I would fly down the deadly 60° Mayan temple stairs (40cm drop, 15cm wide, rough irregular) at a spectacular rate while others were using their hands and feet. I slept in crumbling temple bldgs in Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Sayil, Kabah to beat the morning tent heat and absorb the ancient ambience, hoping a scorpion didn’t get me. I went back to Chichen Itza for the Spring Equinox, when the snake shadow is supposed to ripple as if alive… but it was cloudy.

Listen to this great OnPOINT radio show about it. The Mayans were probably the greatest astronomical culture, aware of complex planetary, zodiacal (not astrological), solar, and stellar movements 1100 years before Galileo or Copernicus- even laying out their temples according to them, so sunrise on the Equinox was straight down the main drag. Among other fascinating tidbits: the savage Mayan obsession with human sacrifice (4 at a time with their heart cut out thrown down the temple steps - diving in the cenotes you could come across skulls or gold) was soundly based on their theology. The Gods first created "mud people" (is this where the neo-Nazis got this?) who weren't any good, so destroyed them, then made the "stick people" who met the same fate, then suceeded with us- humans- by mixing corn meal with their own blood.... so the human sacrifice was offering the Gods' own blood back to them.
According to the experts, this end of the Long Count (there are several: 21, 400, & 5125 years) is just like an odometer clicking over, like starting from 1 after Year 2000. There is NO apocalypse forecast for that date in Mayan legends - the relatively modern Mayans (1200?) who had some apocalyptic visions weren’t even aware of the so-called Long Count, knowledge of which had disappeared for 700 years. The pop-culture fantasists have conflated 1000 years of mutually exclusive Mayan ideas and knowledge into this doomsday prediction, which has already led to suicides around the world. Don’t worry, be happy. 

Hell on earth will arrive soon enough- no need to generate foolosh fantasies. What destroyed the magnificent Mayan civilization? Climate Change. In the dry porous limestone Yucatan (no rivers), all their water came from rainwater and rock cisterns- when that pretty much stopped... they were wiped out. 


Thursday, December 06, 2012



With the disputed contests over, Dems picked up TWO (3 really) Senate seats (Warren MA, Donnelly IN, ME + lost 1 by Kerrey in NE) in a year many thought they would lose control. 56 now with the 2 independents (VT Bernie Sanders, Maine's Angus King doesn't like Repubs + got more than Dem+Repub combined) that the media stupidly often don't include in Blue- EVERY swing race went our way! In The HOUSE,  Dem gains +8 with +24 needed to tie (my blind prediction on election night +9), though Dems got 1 mill more House votes- with the empty West and gerrymandered districts (1 runoff between 2 Repubs in Lafayette, LA remaining Dec 8). That includes erasing the black military TP tinfoil nut the Wild Wild Allan West. Most Governors- 30- sadly remained in Repub hands after they picked up 1 in NC, allowing further disenfranchisement schemes. I thought the libs crowing about Romney ending with his moocher video 47% were arithmetically challenged - the NYT figures said he ended with 48.57% vs 51.43% for the Muslim Kenyan Socialist, but they ignored the other candidates: BO won by a comfortable 3,477,000 over Ro-money.

How close America came to unMittigated disaster in picking the radical class warriors (2.86%)  is still incredible, and for the future could mean when the Great Famines hit, we will go full fascist. This what a Romney Presidency would have meant. If the media had done their job and honestly explained the effects of R+R's extreme social-net destroying plans, BO would have won by 15%, but I fear we are basically a nation of fools, willing to believe the most sleazy dishonest hustler of my political life- a guy whose moral principles were written on beach sand. Any Repub with a modicum of human political abilities would have won. Voters also retardedly returned the Repub crazies to the House, guaranteeing endless gridlock. Their defeat deal was sealed when Romney picked the ruthless entitled snot Ryan, who manages to look both like a  morose hound and cold blue-eyed assassin simultaneously. Romney's trademark in creepiness was his smilk, a condescending pained smiling smirk that conveyed his deep disdain for the unwashed 99% and unlimited sense of entitlement.

 Born with a bouquet of luck, Barrack was blessed with spectacular good fortune in his meteoric rise, brilliant strategy (which I proposed decades ago- focus on the caucuses), animatronic spoiled rich arrogant opponents, and incompetent 2008 ones, worst 2 Veep choices in a century, and the 11th hour intercession of the Economic Collapse and Hurricane Sandy. I hoped his offer to work together with the RR-bot2012 was Election night bull: Romney has earned no place at any table with his pathological lies, lunatic positions, smug self-styled superiority, and slanderous personal attacks on Obama- he should be shuffled off to some musty room to be decommissioned, like the 50's model 120 mainframe he is. In their WH confab Romney looked like a defeated salesman- maybe it was BO's way of rubbing in his victory. NEVER examined were his many secret bank accounts (which Obama didn't hammer enough) or bizarre Mormon beliefs (all religions are- just for believing in the "End of Days", Bush2 should have been kept light-years from the Button), but still- these peoples' ideas about minorities are whacked.

Obama won handily (+3.5 mil, 126 electors) despite voter disenfranchisement and Repub removal of, conservatively, 1-3 million votes- because we won we probably won't pursue it, as an old poll said (they did it for years in FL). In fact Rove's election night Fox meltdown may have been because he knew they had "disallowed" what they thought was the required number of votes. He is an overweaningly despicable character... BUT his protest that it was too early was absolutely correct (was 2000 that far back?). As usual Florida was trouble- thank God they didn't pull those stunts in Ohio (or were enjoined from them). Lets say a word of thanks to Jimmy Carter III, who with a little bedroom web research, discovered that devastating video exposing Romney's corporate death head reality.

I hope some serious legal action is taken against FL's Rick Scott- supposedly the most unpopular Gov in nation at 39%- for his blatant defiant voter suppression: 6 hour lines with all that absentee and early voting?!@#$% The puke just folded on accepting Obamacare, so must be feeling some Sunshine rage.

 Finally finally the Senate may force Fillibuster terrorists to ACTUALLY TALK, what I've been screaming about for 2 decades by a simple majority rules change at the start of a new session (once old rules start being used they are re-ratified). Why not in 2009 ??!@#$%

: Again Israel was blowing the hell out of the largest prison camp in the world for 600 unaimed missiles (which despite the alarm, have killed only 3), death toll in the embargoed blockaded sanctioned trapped Gaza - 145?  Obama (+France)'s enormous pressure on the nasty Netanyahu prevented another catastrophic land invasion (last one killed 1400)- finally America is doing something in the ME. Considering how 60% of our and world problems with Muslims is due to the festering pain of Palestine- as my excellent acquaintance Juan Cole says:  

--- "There are probably only about 12 million stateless people in the world. Many are individuals who get caught between countries (as with women who lose citizenship for marrying a foreigner and emigrating with him, but who are not eligible for citizenship in their new country either). Palestinians are the largest single group of the stateless, probably amounting to some 5 million. Statelessness was common in the 1930s in Europe. Franco made millions of Spanish leftists stateless. The Nazis withdrew German citizenship from the Jews. The Communists declared the White Russians stateless. Gypsies were often stateless.  It seems certain that stripping citizenship from Jews and Gypsies was what allowed the Nazi state to genocide (sic) them. The stateless, having no rights, can be ethnically cleansed or killed with relative ease." ---
 Look at his stunning map of the West Bank's shrinkage under the endless Israeli land grab- it is clear the Israeli's will never give all that land back- 500,000 Israelis  now live in the West Bank amid 2.5 million Palestinian subjects.

My hope for OBAMA's this of 3 great tasks: lay down the law to Benny: A REAL 2 State Solution in 1 year OR we cut Israel's aid by 50%, including all military aid. Properly explained as a pro-American stance (we are nobodys puppet), 70% would support it, and 95% of the world. Nothing could enhance world peace and security as simply. Last Prez to affect the area, JC, is only person to lay the blame where it lies. They still won't do it, and so don't deserve our money.

PALESTINE RECOGNIZED:  After so many decades of misery and torture, the UN voted for "Observer State" status for Palestine on the 65th anniversary of Israel's founding: 138 for, 9 against, 41 abstentions.  Britain, Germany, and many US "friends" chose to abstain. The Czech Republic was unique in Europe, joining the United States, Israel, Canada, Panama and Nauru, Palau and Micronesia in voting against the move.
The US again was on the wrong side of history, decency, and morality in voting NO- the Palestinians should wait for a comprehensive 2-state solution... in 2070.
Non-member state status may allow them to bring war crimes complaints against Israel in the Inter. Criminal Court, something Israel is terrified of. 

Israel + America have threatened withholding Pal funding for aspiring towards any freedom; the US donates $440 mil. In a kneejerk revenge to punish the Pals, the Israeli's announced 3000 NEW settlement homes in E1, which could effectively wall off East Jerusalem from the rest of the gerrymandered West Bank. "Settlements," lead Palestinian negotiator Michael Taraki said to me once, "are our suicide bombers."


Greenwald has excellent summation of the illegality and Chinese-style creepiness of the US war on Wikileaks, Assange, and Annonymous, entities convicted of no crime.

BAD COP:         we'll be watching you
GOOD COP:      or extremely unlucky

While everyone is crowing about the $600 mil wasted Crossroads/Cokeheads money dumps (things go better with $), we must assume it DID push the meters a few points towards the rampaging elephants- propaganda works.. and in a different scenario they could have won, despite alienating EVERY ethnic minority and the one majority- the roaring woman. How's that gov-proscribed rape thing working out for you?? NH went all dyev: 2 Congresshumans, 2 Senate, Gov, and haven't checked the statehouse, though after 300 to 100 Repub crushing in 2010, Dems took back the NH House 221-179 (4th largest in world), and almost took back the Senate- 11 to 13, but the Repubs had just gerrymandered it. NH has undergone most vicious whipsawing of any state last 3 cycles (in 2008 it was R to D). The once violently red state has gone blue with the Mass invasion. Live free or die, baby, guns + health care- plug em and patch em.

YEAR OF THE CAT:  20 women in Senate!- maybe they can acidly erode the antedeluvian A-holes and their mindless "religiosity", and send some to the woodshed. After all, this "white people are now a minority" business O'Liely was sobbing about has the potential to short-out whack-job TP dinosaur brains.. and some may just get out rather than deal with all those hormones... women being just below minorities in their pantheon of disrespect and discomfort. What the  hell is wrong with white men (+Kansas+Nebraska), anyway? They went Repub even in Mass!

Instead of fixing the Citizens United  treasonous abomination, or the outrageous Repub disenfranchisement schemes (the REAL voter fraud), the Supreme Republicans are going the other way- "visiting" the Justice Dept vetting of new voting laws by the cracker South (sorry crackers- I actually like Southerners more than Northerners) in the Voting Right Bill. Kill that, and they've again tilted the playing field towards the Repubs by legitimizing criminal disenfranchisement by these Repub SOB SOS's; another extremist "legislating from the bench" monstrousity. We need a new Justice FAST:   IMPEACH CLARENCE   - the most unqualified hack Justice since the Gilded Age monpolist prosti-swines.

No, unlike the half-assed MoveOn ad campaign, Petraius betrayed only his wife, and as Glenn Greenwald, says: the real outrage was the full press FBI investigation of some extremely minor harassment of a military society bimbo by a "friend" at the FBI (now, deservedly under investigation for sending shirtless photos- "let he who lives in glass houses..."). The carelessness and idleness with with the FBI ripped through these top people's lives is chilling- as Greenwald crows, destroying the rulers themselves of our run amok National Security State (1.7 bil intercepted citizen communications a DAY!). This is different long GG look at surveillence that should be required reading in our ex-land of the free:

Jane Mayer says that politics obviously played a part- it appeared 1 week BEFORE the election, and some RW punk FBI agent took the story to WA Repub Rep Dave Reichart, the ex-police chump who allowed the Green River Killer to run wild for 20 years after 2 prost victims positively identified him as an attempted killer (I questioned him on a Seatown radio talk show- "What is the chance you've questioned the killer, but can't see the forest for the trees [the massive volume of mindless details in such a case]". "Very very high," said Davey), who took it to TP wierdo Cantor, who took it to famously anti-Dem Director Mueller. Somehow, someway, it didn't break before the election, though it's embarrassment potential for Obama is uncertain- who really cares?  

America is so schizophrenic about sex, though the citizenry is way ahead of the Government (esp Repubs), who still lumber around like Stegasaurii that don't know how obsolete they are. In the same breath, orgs like the Boy Scouts are excoriated for allowing molesters to operate for years (even with their Blacklist)... and yet pilloried for trying to keep gays OUT of the org. Make up your mind America. Similarly, gay marriage and rights passed everywhere, even as molestation scandals burn through what's left of the Catholic Church and a half-dozen other big orgs. I applaud an openly gay Senator, yet oppose gays in the Boy Scouts or Catholic Church- situations tailor made for abuse. And where is this lunatic prudery applicable to SOLDIERS - they are commissioned to KILL PEOPLE, who cares where they are dipping their wicks? As the exc. military NYT journo Thomas Ricks says, "I can't believe this is a criminal matter, when we haven't ever investigated TORTURE! Is there now an Office of Affairs at the FBI ?"

 Phd. Petraius has been shot through the chest, shattered his pelvis in a parachuting accident, still runs 6 miles, stabilized the shithole of Iraq, managed the Afghan surge, and befriended journos. "Too successful, too social, too smart", says Ricks, "while incompetent time-serving Generals are NEVER replaced. They rotate in and out every year."

The massive corporate-government thug group that has reaped enormous power in the century-long suppression of a harmless euphoriant is rallying for the counterattack against the COL, WA marijuana legalization- (not decriminalization, this provides for recreational sale!). Tens of millions destroyed by the pernicious lie that this harmless weed is a "narcotic", hundreds of billions spent in brutal repression of a substance everyone under 65 with an ounce of courage has tried. DIN Hutchison, former ARK Senator and DEA narc, is leading the charge by former narcs, Chiefs of Police, neo-religious nuts.. to prevent the enaction of the citizens' will. It will be very interesting to see where Barry comes down on this, wish now he had spent a month or 2 in the Honolulu hoosgow for his youthful puffing, cause our deporting Enforcer-in-Chief's AG Holder was strongly AGAINST this dangerous rationality. After abortion passed, and decriminalization of MJ in the 70's, I thought we were on the way to a more decent and non-brutal society (next big ISSUE was ending homelessness)- then RR came in with his "War on Drugs" (Americans), Lenny Bias died with spectacularly bad timing at the height of the crack frenzy fear, 3 strikes laws were enacted... and puff.. the USA became the biggest police/prison state in the world, with 5x more people, 3 million, 1% in prison/jail/parole.   

MCCAIN (and GRAHAM cracker) are determined to shamefully pump the grimy and shocking Benghazi "scandal" for every bit of mileage they can in defeating the nomination of Susan Rice for anything. I'm opposed to her since I still unreasonably hate a black woman neocon named RICE, and somewhat annoyed Sue has supplanted the great diplomat Condo: "Birthpangs of a new Middle East", she called the mindless 2006 Israeli destruction of Lebanon. I said BO would pay for soft-peddling that story, "Ain't no terrorism on my watch!" Still, frankly doubt she's the best person for the job- she has been a bland functionary and a mindless backer of Iraq Invasion, and think Obama wants her just cause he trusts her to be "on the team". An SOS sometimes has to say "no" to a Prez.  Daily Newsbeast's Tomasky suggests Mr PEP Al Gore, who despite some obvious atrophy, is still A team. (2 free tickets to nowhere if you can tell me what PEP stands for), which would avoid vacating John Kerry's Senate seat for  boy band Brown (what the Repubs want in denying Rice) now that Dems have a more in your face majority of 56. Best thing about Al? He likes my articles.

MUDDLED EAST - A New Pharaoh

How sad for the Egyptians - a warm welcoming polyglot people , that the vagaries of the election primary gave them a choice between a Mubarak general and an Muslim Brotherhood (Mubrah) weasel, and that Morsi has proven to be an incipient dictator- changing the Constitution in a day, declaring his edicts inviolable. And people applauded when he forced the resignations of the generals- I thought then that that was a dangerous sign. Islamists in government are almost always bad news- they can't resist fascist overreach in implementing their "religious" precepts, it is almost explicit in the religion that its rules overrule any democracy. Even in Turkey (maybe the most normal Muslim gov), they've tried some outrageous things. The struggle between the forces of freedom and Islamic repression is indeterminate- they may be equally matched, but now can't count on the Army. Young Egyptians and we may rue the days of Mubarak-bashing, like the poor Iranians, who have had 1/3 century to look back fondly at the terrible "repression" by the Shah... as they work 3 jobs to barely not starve, and have religious thugs break into their house for watching a video or beat their kids for holding hands.

As we speak Dec 7 however, a massive protester crowd of tens of thousands have surrounded the Prez palace in upscale Heliopolis, which I went to once, and Morsi has backed down- postponing the vote for the Islamic Constitution, and pledging to meet with Mohammed ElBaradei (ex-IAEA head and the face of the National Salvation opposition). But a large crowd of Islamists have rallied at the Al-Azhar Mosque, the 1040 year old center of Islamic thought and academia (where I've also toured (pics) and climbed the minarets), chanting blood and destruction. Update Dec 10: Morsi has conceded somewhat, reversing his absolute power edicts, but has kept the Sat Islamic Constitution election date, after which he can do anything with the imprimatur of Constitutional authority. Might work: Only a few hundred protestors turned out on the weekend. Go 1st and oldest civilization and primo tourist destination back to the Babylonians.

SYRIA - Not Ass's Add
The bitter and horrible civil war in Syria may be reaching a final denouement, with rebels closing in on Damascus (+ its airport). 45K dead and counting. The Baathist military won't roll over though- as a murdering minority of Shiite Alawites in a ME sea of Sunnis, they can count on Torture House accommodations if they lose- they might as well fight to the death. So Obama's warning against poison gas use is becoming more germane- time to start sowing some goodwill among the rebels- several Western nations have recognized them now- maybe a drone though Bastard Bashir's bedroom window. The Russians can look forward to being swept into the sea for their helpful scuttling of every resolution to slow the bloodshed- "the times, Vlad, are a changin".

Who the rebels really are is a matter of grave doubt and concern- with AQ members, Iraqi Sunni death squaders, tortured dissidents.. a serious bloodbath could ensue against the Alawites for 50 years of brutal repression. They just elected a unified 30 man military council in Turkey, unfortunately 20 of them are Muslim Brotherhood (Mu-brahs). The new gov may be worse than the old, esp to internal minorities- Christians, Druids, Jews, and Israel. As brutal and hostile as Assad was, he was always constrained by the tiny shadow Shiite Syria cast in the vastly Sunni Arabian Peninsula- a majority Sunni country may be more confident. Course maybe they will turn to building a decent country with the chance fate and their own spectacular courage has handed them.

In the horrible story of the nurse's suicide over the Australian prank Queen royal baby phone call to the hospital...  I feel sorry for the radio jocks- obviously this woman had some serious mental problems- instead of laughing at a meaningless harmless joke and riding it to some fame and fortune, she somehow decided it destroyed her life, and then made it so. Some Brits are just too tightly wound.

The great Frank Rich says the Fiscal Cliff is our latest Y2K controversy- that it end with a whimper and the Repubs folding.