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Merry Christmas From the U.S. Military

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 10:20 PM EST

Politically%20Incorrect%20Guide.bmpIf you are a soldier in Iraq, is it alright to wish people a merry Christmas, or would "happy holidays" be better? Like, whatever dude. As Ann Coulter says on a poster hanging on the door of the military police office in Fort Riley, Kansas: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity." It's Jesus time!

That, at least, appears to be the way the military is heading according to a bevy of findings released by the of Military Religious Freedom Foundation this week, just in time for the holidays. MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein (see our recent profile) believes the military has been colonized at all levels by evangelical Christians bent on converting it into an army of God. The group's recent findings certainly support the idea:

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Hide the Condoms, Syphilis is Back!

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 7:51 PM EST

Syphilis is making a comeback. The Associated Press reports that the all-but-forgotten STD is breaking out in major cities in Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and to a lesser extent, the United States, which reported about 10,000 cases last year. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that reported cases of the disease increased by nearly 12 percent in 2006, mostly afflicting the South and urban areas. Considering that half of new STD cases affect 15- to 24-year-olds, you'd think that we'd be passing out condoms left and right in order to stop the resurgence of syphilis, right? Guess again.

No More Sexy Time?

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 7:43 PM EST

Ali G, Borat, Bruno

It's being reported (thanks to a Drudge Report top-line link, natch) that British actor Sacha Baron Cohen is "offing" two of his most beloved characters, Ali G and Borat, but looking at the original quote in the Telegraph, I'm not sure there's a story here. Here's what Cohen actually said:

All I Want for Christmas, Part 4: New Balance Joy Division

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 7:05 PM EST

You Can Run But You Can't HideLately, when I've been jogging, I seem to keep forgetting about, you know, the horror. But if you too need a reminder during your exercise sessions that "a loaded gun won't set you free," why not pick up these special edition New Balance Joy Division tennies? They're snazzy white and gray sneakers with the artwork from the Div's first album Unknown Pleasures on the tongue and the sole. Actually, it's just a prototype, but perhaps if we all lose control we can cause enough disorder so that they'll make these shoes before the, um, new dawn fades... ugh, are they sure a loaded gun won't set me free?

(Via HypeBeast)

Bill Richardson Is Pissed

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 4:11 PM EST

Remember when Bill Richardson was calling for the Democratic candidates to lay off Hillary Clinton and generally sucking up to her as best he could? As this incident with New York Times reporter Pat Healy demonstrates, that period is ovah.

I just got a phone call — unprompted — from Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democratic candidate for president, blasting Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for saying she would withdraw nearly all American troops from Iraq within a year of beginning redeployment.
"Senator Clinton's comments are a stunning flip-flop — she's been saying she would keep troops in Iraq for five years, until 2013, and now she comes up with an inconsistent, incredible turnaround," Mr. Richardson said.
Mrs. Clinton has maintained that she would leave a residual force behind in Iraq to pursue narrow missions, a position that her spokesman said she still holds. As her aides have done before, the spokesman declined to say how many troops Mrs. Clinton would leave.

Clinton has never really said that she would keep troops in Iraq until 2013. She's just said that she won't commit to pulling them all out by 2013.

Richardson, who hasn't caught fire in Iowa or elsewhere, must believe that (1) his campaign needs an adrenaline shot, or (2) his chances to be Clinton's VP pick are declining due to Clinton's lack of interest or decreasing poll numbers.

Just goes to show the trustworthiness of that old saw, hell hath no fury like a potential vice presidential candidate scorned.

Not Even Toastmasters Will Help Gonzales

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 3:14 PM EST

gonzales-100.jpgAfter watching his lethargic public speaking engagements before the U.S. Congress, it is, perhaps, no surprise to learn that Alberto Gonzales is a wash-out on the college lecture circuit. The former attorney general has signed up with a talent agency that's been trying to gin up lucrative speaking engagements for him on college campuses, for $35,000 a pop. Gonzales needs the money to pay his legal bills stemming from the multiple investigations into his tenure at the Department of Justice, but the students aren't biting, reports the Washington Post. Not only are the schools refusing to pay his hefty fee, but when he has spoken recently on campuses, he's been greeted by hecklers. Gonzales is slated to speak in February at Washington University in St. Louis, where students are already looking forward to major protests of his appearance.

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Thank You, Jesus: Stewart and Colbert Returning to Our TVs

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 3:04 PM EST

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The NY Times is reporting that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will return to the airwaves on January 7th, the same week their late-night buddies at the major networks are also planning to return. None of the shows will have their writing staffs, since the strike that took the shows off the air is still ongoing, and one wonders how that will affect the content. Without my writers, for instance, I can't even answer the phone. Helloooo? Whaaaat? Darrrrr? Thank you very much. Anyway, the Times says both the hosts will have to improvise basically everything they say, which seems like it might be easier for Stewart, but again, who knows. The hosts said in a statement that they would, of course, prefer to bring their writers with them, and "if we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence." Cute. Since both hosts are members of the Writers Guild, will we see any protests, officially-sanctioned or otherwise (like what happened to the hapless Carson Daly) against the shows? Tune in in two weeks…

Friday Don't Be a Wise Guy It's Music News Day

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 2:54 PM EST

Music News

  • 25th-anniversary edition of Michael Jackson's Thriller complete with remixes by Will.i.am and Kanye West universally panned. Whatever, this was just an excuse for me to post that creepy picture of Jackson shopping at Borders with what looks like tape holding his face together.
  • Amy Winehouse's Back to Black will likely be the biggest-selling album of the year in the UK, moving 1.5 million units so far, although reality-show star Leona Lewis may overtake her at the last minute. Yeah I have no idea who that is either.
  • Patti Smith has been hosting a podcast about the life of Bob Dylan, and everybody just noticed this, I guess. The latest edition features the Band's Garth Hudson and jazz great George Wein.
  • Moby's request for a fan to be sent to his room at a Ukranian hotel gets, erm, lost in translation, as the clerk responds that he's sorry but there are no women in the lobby. Ba-dump bam!
  • M.I.A., Spoon, Swizz Beats Among Shortlist Prize Nominees

    | Fri Dec. 21, 2007 2:05 PM EST

    mojo-photo-shortlist.jpgNominees for the Shortlist Prize (America's answer to the UK's Mercury Prize for best album of the year) were announced today, and there's 54 of them, so you might want to get a snack. Shortlist restricts nominees to albums that have sold less than 500,000 copies, which ain't so hard these days, but does eliminate Kanye. The nominating panel included Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol, the Killers' Ronnie Vannuccii, and KCRW DJ Chris Douridas, and after the jump, the nominees, every last one of them:

    School of Shock Staff: Just Following Orders

    | Fri Dec. 21, 2007 1:58 PM EST
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    Maia Szalavitz, who's tracked the "punishment-as-therapy" movement's origins in the discredited antidrug cult Synanon, adds an interesting historical perspective on the latest news from the Rotenberg Center, AKA the School of Shock. Over at HuffPo, she draws a parallel between the incident in which Rotenberg staffers unquestioningly shocked students at the behest of a phone call from a "prankster" to the infamous 1963 Milgram experiment, in which volunteers readily complied with orders to give simulated shocks to unseen subjects. Interestingly, the volunteers were called "teachers" while the recipients of the shocks were called "learners." Yet, as Szalavitz writes:

    In that case, the "victims" were actually actors, no real harm was done to them-- and a great ethical controversy ensued over the treatment of subjects, who had been deceived by experimenters about the nature of the research. [...]

    Here, however, poorly-trained staff inflicted serious and genuine emotional and physical pain on emotionally disordered children -- at the prompt of an anonymous caller, and outside an experimental setting!

    It all adds to the sense that Rotenberg is a nutty science experiment gone very, very wrong.