Somali man – 112 – weds girl – 17

Hundreds of people have attended a wedding in central Somalia between a man who says he is 112 years old, and his teenage wife.

Ahmed Muhamed Dore – who already has 13 children by five wives – said he would like to have more with his new wife, Safia Abdulleh, who is 17 years old…

Mr Dore said he and his bride – who is young enough to be his great-great-grand-daughter – were from the same village in Somalia and that he had waited for her to grow up to propose.

“I didn’t force her, but used my experience to convince her of my love; and then we agreed to marry,” the groom said.

Some people said while it was allowed under Islamic law, they were concerned about the age gap, but others were happy that age was not a barrier to love.

Mr Dore told the BBC he was born in Dhusamareeb in central Somalia in 1897 – and has a traditional birth certificate, written on goat skin by his father.

Altogether, Mr Dore has 114 children and grandchildren. His oldest son is 80 years old and three of his wives have died.

He says he hopes his new bride will give him more children. “It is a blessing to have someone you love to take care of you,” he said.

The dude is optimistic about a lot of things!

Support grows for Matthew Hoh, leaving the Afghan War

Hoh

A State Department employee who resigned last month in protest over America’s war in Afghanistan said he has received an outpouring of support from Afghan-Americans and U.S. active-duty military.

“I’ve had a lot of Afghan-Americans contact me and say, ‘Matt, you get it,’ ” Matthew Hoh told CNN. “You understand — yes, there is a civil war going on. You understand how Afghan society works. You understand this split within the Pashtuns. You understand valley-ism, or whatever you want to call it.”

The 36-year-old former Marine Corps captain resigned on September 10 over what he termed a “cavalier, politically expedient and Pollyannaish misadventure.” Since then, even active-duty military have supported his decision, he said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS”.

I have received many many e-mails from active-duty military and some guys who just separated from the service,” Hoh said. “Some guys are here in the States. I’ve gotten many e-mails from guys in Afghanistan. Some are people I know. But a lot are people I do not know. Men and women who are saying, ‘Thanks for doing this. Keep it up. We don’t know why we’re here. We’re not sure why we’re taking these casualties. We don’t know what it’s accomplishing.'”

In his letter, the senior civilian representative in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, said he was resigning because “I fail to see the value or worth in continued U.S. casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year-old civil war.” He concluded the letter by saying that he had “lost confidence” that the “dead have sacrificed for a purpose worthy of futures lost, love vanished and promised dreams unkept.”

Since Obama’s election I have been willing to re-examine the Afghan War in light of the potential of new and intelligent leadership. The leaders are there – especially Gen. McChrystal – and I think that absent the worst political pressures, President Obama is capable of making a decision on the war that will bear fruit.

But, that culture doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Republicans, chickenhawk Dems, tea-bagger war-lovers rally round the flag of self-destruction every day. I fear that Obama will accept a consensus of ignorance rather than lead us to daylight.

I agonized over my own opinion. After all, I have a great deal of interest in military history, strategy and tactics – as regulars here well know. I would have had confidence in Stanley McChrystal if someone of his caliber was leading the fray 8 years ago instead of being dropped in to pull the Bush/Rumsfeld chestnuts out of the fire less than 8 months ago.

Matthew Hoh has convinced me. I would hope we work to support the “valley defence” and continue to train soldiers and police officers to defend what passes for human rights in Afghanistan. I hope we could continue to build an intelligence operation in the region capable of supporting both Pakistan and Afghan efforts to terminate the gangsters and warlords pretending to be religious seers.

I hope we finish getting the hell out of Iraq, remove the bulk of offensive troops from Afghanistan – and while we’re at it, let’s bring the rest of our military home from around the world and quit throwing good money after bad by retaining a Cold War infrastructure that is past due on closing down.

Costa Rica and Canada outscore U.S. in years of happiness

Quality-of-life in nations is measured using an index of ‘Happy Life Years’, developed at Erasmus University Rotterdam in The Netherlands.

This index combines average appreciation of life with average length of life. Costa Rica is on top with 66.7 and Zimbabwe at the bottom with only 12.5 happy life years.

The USA rank in the sub-top with an average of 58 years lived happily. Canada outscored the U.S. with an average ranking of 64 years.

Rank lists are published periodically on the World Database of Happiness. The latest rank list counts 148 nations and covers more than 95% of the world’s population.

Here’s the detailed list of countries and their ‘Happy Life Year‘ score.

Cutting emissions may be easier without the focus on coal

As Congress debates legislation to slow global warming by limiting emissions, engineers are tinkering with ways to capture and store carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas.

But coal-fired power plants, commonly identified as the nation’s biggest emissions villain, may not be the best focus. Rather, engineers and policymakers say, it may be easier and less costly to capture the carbon dioxide at oil refineries, chemical plants, cement factories and ethanol plants, which emit a far purer stream of it than a coal smokestack does…

Lending momentum to this thinking, a Texas company, Denbury Resources, is building a 320-mile pipeline for carbon dioxide that will run from Louisiana to Houston.

Initially the pipeline will take natural underground deposits of carbon dioxide in Mississippi to the aging oil fields of east Texas, where it can be used to force more oil to the surface.

But as the pipeline threads its way through more and more refineries and plants — the chemical heartland of the United States — manmade carbon dioxide captured at those sites could also be added and stored.

Sequestering a ton of carbon dioxide from a chemical plant would have the same effect on the Earth’s atmosphere as storing a ton from a coal plant, scientists and industry executives emphasize.

Sequestration is not a coal technology — it is a greenhouse gas abatement strategy,” said S. Julio Friedmann, leader of the carbon management program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory…

What oil drillers pay for carbon dioxide depends on the value of the oil it will help produce. When oil is at $70 a barrel, carbon dioxide goes for $10 or $11 a ton, said Tracy Evans, the chief executive of Denbury, the Texas company building the carbon dioxide pipeline.

Should the Congressional legislation mandate a cap-and-trade system, that modest price could be very important. “Wherever you can go to store a ton of carbon the most cheaply, you will go,” said Mr. Holmstead, the former E.P.A. administrator for air.

Not only applies reason to the questions of sequestration vs. source, it begins to make cap-and-trade sound sensible, viable.

Another election, another debacle for New York Republicans – UPDATED


Dede drops out – and the national Republican Party was no real help

While GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava’s abrupt withdrawal Saturday from the Nov. 3 House election in upstate New York came as a surprise, it shouldn’t have — over the past decade or so the New York Republican Party has emerged as the political gang that couldn’t shoot straight, an operation so inept that it’s sometimes hard to believe it exists in the nation’s third-largest state.

The collapse of Scozzafava’s campaign—and the quick rise of the national conservative revolt sparked by her nomination—is simply the latest calamity to befall the New York GOP and an illustration of the utter ruin into which the state party has fallen. In just a few short years, the party’s presence in state politics has dwindled to the point of extinction-or irrelevance.

Little more than a decade ago, Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion, the state Senate, one of two U.S. Senate seats, 13 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the New York City mayor’s office.

Since then, though, the GOP has declined at a steady and accelerating pace. Today, the party has virtually no presence in the congressional delegation-it controls just two of the state’s 29 House seats at the moment. It lacks a single statewide elected officer and represents only a minority in both chambers of the state Legislature-the first time since the New Deal that New York has had a Democratic governor and legislature. In 2006, in an open governor’s race, the Republican nominee failed to win even 30 percent of the vote…

Former Rep. Sherry Boehlert, an upstate centrist who saw his seat flip to the Democratic column after he retired in 2006, sounded a bleak note earlier this week when asked about the special election.

It probably says to a lot of people who are registered Republicans, maybe I should reconsider my registration,” Boehlert said. “I think, from a Republican standpoint, it would provide further evidence for some that there doesn’t appear to be any room in the Republican Party for people who are moderate in their thinking.”

No surprise to me. New Mexican Republicans retained exactly NO seats in our Congressional delegation during the Obama election. The only moderate Republican trying to stay incumbent was beaten in a primary by a right-winger – who proceeded to lose to a Democrat.

The sole important seat acquired since has been mayor of Albuquerque a few weeks ago – with a moderate Republican candidate in an election with the turnout at 25% of registered voters – who got 44% of the vote in a 3-way race against an incumbent trying for a 4th term.

Republican candidates for the next governor’s race have included the former overseer of Guantanamo Bay prison.

UPDATE: Dede endorses the Democrat, Bill Owens, and Newt indulges his hindsight.

US boots up new unified cybersecurity center


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano cut the ribbon on a state-of-the-art unified command center for government cybersecurity efforts.

The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) brings together various government organizations responsible for protecting cyber networks and infrastructure and private sector partners.

This will be a 24/7, 365-day-a-year facility to improve our national efforts to prepare and respond to threats and incidents affecting critical information technology and communications infrastructure,” Napolitano said.

She said the NCCIC will serve as the “central repository” for the cyber protection efforts of the civilian side of the federal government and its private sector partners…

Napolitano, whose department has received the green light to hire up to 1,000 cybersecurity experts over the next three years, stressed the private sector participation in the NCCIC, noting they will have “offices in the same space.”

I know, I know. Let’s hope they concentrate on incoming.

Leave snooping on American citizens up to the FBI and the NSA.

The “Party of NO” is also the party of no work


Republican Earth

All seven Republicans on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee plan to boycott next week’s work session on a climate-change bill…in a move aimed at thwarting Democratic efforts to advance the controversial legislation quickly.

Republicans will be forced not to show up” at Tuesday’s work session, said Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for Republican senators on the environment panel.

Under committee rules, at least two Republicans are needed for Chairwoman Barbara Boxer to hold the work sessions that would give senators an opportunity to amend the controversial legislation and then vote to approve it in the panel, which is controlled by President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats…

Even with committee approval of the bill, the full Senate is not expected to vote on it this year. The legislation, as currently written, would have a hard time gaining the support of the 60 senators needed to pass major bills.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration is hoping for more progress by Congress before the Copenhagen summit. In June, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill to reduce U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming…

Republicans on the environment committee say the climate-change bill would cause significant job losses by encouraging manufacturers to relocate more of their plants in countries that do not have as strict carbon controls.

We’re supposed to make noises indicating surprise – I guess – though Republicans could care less about what happens to American jobs.

This is, after all, the party that damned near invented outsourcing, refused to enforce existing laws on outsourcing, provided subsidies for American firms relocating factories abroad.

As for caring about the environment? Puh-lease. Give me a break!