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Rss Feed

Magazine Capitalizes on Obama's Pecs

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 22nd 2009 4:30PM

Filed Under: News, Media, Notre Dame

The torture debate is getting exhausting, and it's only just begun. Did the United States torture? Was it wrong? Should people be prosecuted? Will Dick Cheney ever stop appearing on Fox News and just enjoy his retirement already?

Let's instead turn to a much lighter story. Washingtonian Magazine, which typically has such attention-grabbing cover stories as "Top 100 Dentists in the Washington Area" or "Top 30 Places to Visit on the Weekend," has put out a May cover that is getting way more attention than their April edition, "Inside 10 Great Homes."

The topic of this month's cover issue is "26 Reasons to Love Living Here." Reason No. 2 is: "Our new neighbor is hot."

To prove the point, the magazine put a picture of President Obama, clad only in a bathing suit and sunglasses, on the cover.

I know the print media industry is suffering right now, but really, Washingtonian Magazine? I didn't realize your editorial board consisted of the women from Desperate Housewives.

Full Article »

politics

Debate over Interrogation Tactics Continues

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 21st 2009 8:43AM

Filed Under: Politics, News, Notre Dame



President Obama is making a mistake by not pursuing any prosecutions for those responsible for the harsh interrogation techniques that were used during the Bush administration.

Last week, I posted a blog piece about the legal memos released by the Justice Department that detailed the interrogation techniques used by the United States on people suspected of involvement in terrorist acts or planning. Obama reportedly agonized over the release of the memos, weighing whether their release was necessary for transparency of government or whether releasing the memos would compromise the security of the United States.

When he did release them, he announced that those who had carried out the torture, believing their actions were lawful, would not be subject to prosecution.

George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC's "This Week," asked White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on Sunday whether the president also ruled out prosecution for the officials who devised the torture polices.

Emanuel responded: "He believes that people in good faith were operating with the guidance they were provided."

Full Article »

culture

Susan Boyle Becomes Internet Sensation

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 20th 2009 3:30PM

Filed Under: Culture, Notre Dame


It is improbable that a homely, 47-year-old woman from a small village in Scotland could captivate the world, but somehow that is exactly what has happened this week.

Last Wednesday, a friend sent me a link to a YouTube video showing Susan Boyle, a woman of admittedly plain looks, with short, curly gray hair, a plump figure and bushy eyebrows. Boyle appeared on Britain's Got Talent, a television show similar to American Idol, where the perpetually tan Simon Cowell and another man and woman judge as regular Brits showcase their performance skills.

The video starts with an interview with Susan Boyle, who says she lives alone with her cat Pebbles, and has never been married, or even kissed. When she walks out on stage, you can hear the laughter from the audience, and see the doubt in the faces of the judges. This woman, everyone thought, would just be another dud, someone who thought she sounded good in the shower, but really struggled to carry a tune.

But everyone gets their chance on the show, even though many in the audience were rolling their eyes. The music for "I Dreamed a Dream" from the musical Les Miserables began, and the audience went from mockery to amazement as they heard Susan Boyle start singing the very difficult song beautifully. The shock registered on the judges' faces, and the audience stood up to cheer, while Susan Boyle calmly continued singing the song she had come to sing.

The YouTube video has, by Monday afternoon, received more than 33 million views. Boyle is one of the top trending topics on Twitter and has been for days. She has over a million fans on Facebook.

And I, for one, cannot stop thinking about her.

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U.S. Realizes Cuba Policy Has Been a Failure

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 17th 2009 10:28PM

Filed Under: News, Notre Dame



I guess you could call it the new "oops, our bad, guys" approach to foreign relations.

The same week that President Barack Obama decided to allow Cuban-Americans with relatives on the island nation to visit and send money without restrictions, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to talk about America's relations with other countries in the Americas, including Cuba.

At a digital town hall, she took a question from "Juan" of Cuba, who asked her about the embargo with Cuba, which has been in place for nearly 50 years. Clinton said Obama views engagement as a useful way to achieve the United States' objectives with other countries.

"We are continuing to look for more productive ways forward in dealing with Cuba, because President Obama and I and the Administration view the present policy toward Cuba as having failed," Clinton said.

Good, it only took us half a century to realize that. Maybe in another 50 years we'll be able to figure a way to get out of Iraq without leaving it a mess.

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Interrogation Memos Reveal Rough Treatment of Detainees

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 16th 2009 9:00PM

Filed Under: News, Media, Notre Dame



The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday released four Office of Legal Counsel opinions that describe interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bush administration.

Politico reported that White House senior adviser David Axelrod said President Barack Obama spent a month trying to decide whether to release the memos about the techniques.

In a letter to the officers of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), posted on the agency's Web site, Obama thanked them for their service to the country. He said he made the decision the night before to allow the Justice Department to release the memos.

"I did not make this decision lightly," he wrote in the letter. "As you may know, the release is part of an ongoing court case. I have fought for the principle that the United States must carry out covert activities and hold information that is classified for the purpose of national security and will do so again in the future. But the release of these memos is required by our commitment to the rule of law."

Obama said that while he has prohibited use of the interrogation techniques described in the memo since he took office, he and Attorney General Eric Holder would "protect all who acted reasonably and relied upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that their actions were lawful." Holder affirmed this in a Thursday news release from the Department of Justice.

The individuals in the CIA who carried out the harsh interrogation actions will not be prosecuted, or so Obama says. Will anyone?

Full Article »

culture

Tea Parties Planned for Tax Day

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 15th 2009 8:25AM

Filed Under: Culture, Breaking News, News, Media, Notre Dame


The Internet has been buzzing lately all about parties happening on Tax Day. Tea Parties, to be exact.

I never got an invitation, but I'm more of a coffee drinker. It'd be a bit of a pain to purchase tea bags just to dump them in a body of water.

Like the great pre-Revolutionary War colonists who came before them, American taxpayers are up in arms and want to protest "higher taxes and out-of-control government spending," according to a column in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday. It's hard to tell who exactly started this movement, but the columnist asserted that this is not the work of a "right-wing conspiracy," but rather, average Americans who are using the expanding power of the Internet to organize an imitation of an event that took place in 1773.

According to the Wall Street Journal column, the protests began in mid-February with bloggers in Seattle, Wash., then grew when CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered his now famous rant against President Obama's policies, advocating that people organize a tea party in Chicago on July 4.

From that rant, a movement was born. Now these flash mob protests are apparently planned across the country on Tax Day. The Tea Party movement is one of the top trending topics on Twitter, and on Facebook a group called Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party has more than 35,000 members.

I'm always up for a party. And those are big numbers. I'd love to fly home to watch protesters dump a million tea bags in Lafayette Square in Washington D.C, as the protest organizers say they will, according to a Washington Post story.

Imagine if we took that tea and, provided it was caffeinated, gave it to American workers. Think of the productivity we'd see on Tax Day!

Full Article »

Supreme Court Justice Opines on Rights and Dishwashers

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 14th 2009 2:30AM

Filed Under: News, Notre Dame


I'm not sure what's more unsettling, that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas thinks there is a "proliferation of rights" or that he is fascinated by dishwashers.

It's a close call.

Justice Thomas revealed these insights and more March 31 when he spoke to winners of a high school essay contest in Washington, D.C. at a dinner sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute. The New York Times published some great quotes Monday from the talk, which was supposed to address the topic of the Bill of Rights.

Thomas has served on the Supreme Court since 1991, when he was nominated by President George H. W. Bush. In his article, New York Times writer Adam Liptak pointed out that Justice Clarence Thomas has not asked a question from the bench since Feb. 22, 2006.

Thomas spoke at an event in 2007 at Hillsdale College in Michigan, and according to an article in U.S. News and World Report, he criticized those judges that asked questions and debated cases out loud during oral arguments.

"My colleagues should shut up," he said then. Thomas, the article reported, has often been criticized for his silent approach to Supreme Court cases.

Judging from some of his bizarre statements recently, maybe silence is a good policy.

Full Article »

Pirate Jokes Becoming Less Funny

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 11th 2009 5:08PM

Filed Under: News, Notre Dame



Remember when pirates were entertaining? When Johnny Depp was Captain Jack Sparrow? When the only hint of danger at Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride was when they told you to keep your hands inside the boat at all times?

There's even an International Talk Like a Pirate Day, on Sept. 19 each year. If you visit the event organizers' Web site, you can collect some pick-up lines for your next night out. The No. 1 pick-up line, according to the site: Prepare to be boarded.

But "prepare to be boarded" is not a joke, nor is it a cheesy attempt at seduction, for people on ships sailing near the coast of Somalia in Africa. On Wednesday, pirates took control of the Maersk Alabama, a ship flying the U.S. flag, and took 20 American sailors hostage, the New York Times reported. The crew retook the ship in a matter of hours, but the pirates are still holding the ship's captain in an enclosed lifeboat, and they are demanding a ransom.

Full Article »

U.S. Tackles Diplomacy 101 with Iran

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 9th 2009 1:18AM

Filed Under: News, Notre Dame

After eight years of President Bush's "You're either with us or you're against us" foreign policy, I'd almost forgotten the United States did diplomacy.

Diplomacy was so United Nations, so Neville Chamberlain, but now the United States is flexing its diplomatic muscles (or are we putting on our diplomatic beret?) Some members of Congress are urging the United States to improve its relations with Cuba, with which it has had a trade embargo for nearly 50 years.

The United States is even trying to talk to (gasp!) Iran, a country Bush labeled in 2002 as a member of the axis of evil. The State Department announced Wednesday that the United States will join the talks between the United Nations and European countries with Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

In a statement Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would be a full participant along with Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China in future negotiations with Iran. This is a departure from Bush policy, save for the one exception last July, when the former president allowed a senior U.S. diplomat to attend a meeting at which an Iranian representative was present. But The Washington Post reported that the Bush administration believed Iran was not serious in that meeting and said the effort would not be repeated.

The Post quoted a senior administration official who said "it was kind of silly that we had to walk out of the room" when the Iranians were present.

That does sound a bit silly. Talking to countries with whom you have a disagreement seems like a crazy idea, but it's so crazy it just might work...

Full Article »

politics

Aaron Schock Adds Sex Appeal to Republican Party

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 7th 2009 10:19PM

Filed Under: Politics, Featured Stories, News, Media, Notre Dame

The Republican Party keeps getting sexier.

They've had an uphill battle. In the fall, John McCain had to compete with the sex appeal of Barack Obama (those abs!) and Joe Biden (those teeth!), but McCain proved he had more sexy in reserve than America has oil in reserve offshore when he introduced Sarah Palin (those legs!) as his running mate.

But Americans voted "Yes, we can" instead of "Drill, baby, drill," and Palin retreated back to Alaska, so the Republicans were left with a sexy deficit (except for when Palin family scandals pop up in the news once a week).

That deficit has been filled. Aaron Schock is in the House.


Of Representatives, that is. Schock represents Illinois' 18th District, and at 27, he is the youngest Member of Congress and the first to be born in the 1980s. He's not just a pretty face, hair and body. Not surprisingly, Schock is your typical over-achiever. He graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. with a B.S. in Finance, a four-year degree, in two years.

In his early teens, he began working after-school jobs and invested the money he made, making his first real estate purchase at age 18, according to his official House Web site. He entered public service by serving on the Peoria School board starting when he was 18 years old.

When he was 23, he was elected to the Illinois House, where he shared the 2007 award with then-Senator Barack Obama from the Illinois Committee for Honest Government for his "Outstanding Legislative and Constituent Service." He spoke at the 2008 National Republican Convention, and now that he is in Congress, he is sitting on three committees: the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Small Business Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He's also been named Deputy Republican Whip.

And, perhaps most notably, he's been named "hottest freshman in Congress" by the readers of the liberal blog site Huffington Post.

Full Article »

politics

North Korea Launches Rocket, Prompts Famous 3 a.m. Phone Call

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 6th 2009 12:06AM

Filed Under: Politics, Breaking News, News, Media, Notre Dame

Hillary Clinton saw this coming.

President Barack Obama got his 3 a.m. phone call, albeit at 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning in Prague, Czech Republic, when North Korea launched a long-range rocket. That's a sudden way to remind someone that being president isn't all about the economy.

Last year, when Obama and Clinton were still vying for the Democratic nomination, Clinton put out an ad saying she was the best one to answer the theoretical 3 a.m. phone call because she had the experience. Obama replied to her political advertisement with a nearly identical one that said he should answer the theoretical 3 a.m. phone call because he had better judgment.



The scenario became reality Sunday when North Korea launched the rocket they'd been threatening to launch for several weeks. The North Korean government said they had conducted a successful, peaceful launch of a satellite into orbit, CNN reported. But the United States and South Korea characterized the launch as a "provocative act" and said the rocket's payload failed to enter orbit, instead falling into the Pacific Ocean near Japan.

CNN quoted a State Department spokesman as saying the launch was in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea's weapons program, which prohibits the country from conducting ballistic missile-related activities.

Full Article »

culture

Iowa Clears Way for Gay Marriage (Really? Iowa?)

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 3rd 2009 10:30PM

Filed Under: Culture, Breaking News, Local, Notre Dame

The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled Friday that a 1998 law which limited marriage to a man and a woman was unconstitutional, stating that same-sex marriages may begin in Iowa in as soon as three weeks.

Tonight I happened to attend a dinner with a professor from the University of Iowa. He told me that when he heard about the decision on CNN, he was more surprised that his state was making national news than to hear that gay marriages would soon be legalized.



A lot of people, he said, misjudge Iowa. So it's not a rural state with a lot of corn, wondered one of my dinner mates. Yes, it is, he said. But it's also the state that helped propel Barack Obama to the presidency. In January 2008, Obama won Iowa's Democratic caucus, and many political commentators saw his win in Iowa as a sign he could win the country. Obama won the state of Iowa 10 months later in the general election.

In this context, it's not as surprising that this state smack dab in the middle of the Midwest will become only the third state in the country, following Massachusetts and Connecticut, to permit gay marriage. (Of course, California's decision to allow gay marriage was overturned in November.) The full text of the Supreme Court's decision can be read here.

Lambda Legal, an organization that works to gain civil rights for lesbians, gay men and people with HIV/AIDS, filed a lawsuit in 2005 with Iowa's Polk County Court on behalf of six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Iowa, with the argument that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates liberty and equality guarantees in the state's constitution.

Full Article »

politics

Congress Begins Talk of Ending Cuba Embargo

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 3rd 2009 1:41AM

Filed Under: US Elections, Politics, News, Notre Dame

Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, is trying to urge changes to the nearly 50-year-old economic embargo against Cuba.

Lugar, in a March 30 letter to President Obama, said the embargo against Cuba, which has been in place since 1962 to protest the government set up by Fidel Castro, "undermines our broader security and political interests in the Western Hemisphere."

Lugar asked Obama to appoint a special envoy to start direct talks with Cuba's communist government and end opposition to Cuba's membership in the Organization of American States, The Washington Post reported. Lugar pointed to the April 17-19 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago as a good place to make changes in U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba.



Lugar is also the co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would end restrictions on travel to Cuba except for in cases of war or direct threats to health and safety. As it stands now, Cuban Americans with relatives on the island are allowed to visit once a year. Travel to Cuba by all U.S. citizens has been prohibited in varying degrees since 1963, the Post said. The State Department lists who exactly is allowed to travel there. It's a hard list to make, which is a shame, because the forecast for the next week is in the 80s.

Full Article »

politics

Who's Leading the Republican Party?

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 2nd 2009 12:03AM

Filed Under: Politics, Media, Notre Dame

I'm rooting for Michael Steele.

Partly because the chairman of the Republican National Committee is the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, my home state. And because one time I saw him campaigning at my local grocery store, and he handed me a flyer, so I feel some sort of connection to him.

But mostly because the Republican Party needs a strong leader now that the Democrats are running the show in Washington. Let's bring back the two-party system.



Steele hasn't had a strong start. I was impressed when he tried to put conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh in his place, but Steele quickly backed down and praised the bombastic radio personality instead. He made another mistake when he contradicted the Republican stance on abortion a few weeks later.

But let's take a look at the other options for the Republican Party.

Full Article »

national newsculture

FOX News Launches FOX Nation

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 1st 2009 1:00AM

Filed Under: Culture, National News, Media, Notre Dame

Conservative commentators on FOX News may have argued against the election of Barack Obama during the campaign, but they can't deny that four -- or eight -- years of an Obama administration will be good for their business.

FOX News Channel, which has long been the No. 1 cable news operation, extended its lead over CNN and MSNBC in recent months, the New York Times reported. Bill O'Reilly's show, The O'Reilly Factor, reached a milestone in March of 100 consecutive months as the most popular program on cable news.


FOX recently launched a new Web site, The FOX Nation, which the AP described as a "Huffington Post-style" site, a reference to Arianna Huffington's left-leaning blog site.

Though FOX is a leader on television, it falls behind on the Internet, the AP said, with 16 million unique visitors in February compared with MSNBC.com's 41 million viewers and CNN.com's 36 million.

The new Web site features one of the most grandiose introductory letters ever posted on a Web site. The letter lauds America as the "city on a hill," and says FOX Nation is dedicated to the people of America who have made it great.

And I thought FOX Nation was just a way to boost traffic to their online product at a time when the government, particularly Obama and Democrats in Congress, are doing a lot of things to irk conservatives.

Of course, these are hard times, FOX Nation says, but Americans have always risen up to face challenges and will again.

"How, exactly, should we assure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?" the letter says. "How do we perfect our union? How can we make certain that children of all races are fairly judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character?"

Full Article »

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