Karzai and White House escalate their war of words


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

A war of words between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the White House has escalated with Washington expressing frustration that an attempt to smooth over the feud had so far failed.

Karzai said he stood by remarks from last week accusing the West of carrying out election fraud in Afghanistan, and appeared to sharpen the criticism still further by singling out the United States specifically for blame.

The White House said it was frustrated on behalf of the American public, and invoked the sacrifice made by families who send their loved ones off to fight. There are more than 120,000 Western troops in Afghanistan, including more than 80,000 Americans, set to rise to 100,000 Americans this year.

Karzai’s continued defense of his anti-Western remarks could signal that he is pursuing a deliberate new policy of distancing himself from his Western backers, rather than simply having expressed frustration in a one-off outburst last week.

That could complicate U.S. counter-insurgency war strategy, which depends on showing a united front with Karzai’s government and persuading Afghans that troops are there to support it.

Karzai phoned U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday to smooth over the quarrel, but White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that since that phone call “it obviously didn’t get any better.

“The remarks are troubling and the substance of the remarks is simply just not true,” Gibbs said…

Gibbs said a May 12 visit by Karzai to Washington was still on and Washington would continue to work with Karzai, but had set benchmarks for his government. He did not expect Karzai’s remarks to affect consideration in Congress of the Obama administration’s request for funds to pay for the war.

Of course. Has the course of war ever affect Congress’ willingness to lay out taxpayer dollars?

Kids stored in car for 2 days while dad partied


Richard Labo during arraignment for child abuse

Elizabeth Labo said she is taking steps to terminate her former husband’s visitation rights after police said he left their young children alone and hungry in a car while he partied.

“Believe me. I was just as shocked as everyone. I couldn’t believe he could do that to my kids,” said the boys’ mother and the former wife of Richard Labo. Elizabeth Labo lives in Osseo, near Hillsdale, Michigan.

The boys, ages 6 and 4, are OK and in their mother’s care…

Jackson County sheriff’s deputies responded about 12:30 a.m. Sunday to a report of children in a car in the parking lot outside Gypsey’s, a bar inside AMF Summit Lanes at 1256 E. McDevitt Ave.

Deputies found the car locked and Richard Labo and his brother intoxicated inside the bowling alley or bar. Monday, Labo was wearing in court what appeared to be bowling shoes.

According to the children, they had been in the older model Pontiac Grand Prix for the “better part of two days,” sheriff’s Lt. Brad Piros said.

Their father and uncle, Eric Labo, 26, of Quincy, east of Coldwater, had been driving around partying, according to a statement from the sheriff’s department.

There were empty and half-empty beer cans in the car and the children had not eaten. Jackson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tommy Schuette gave them some food early Sunday…

Blumer said Elizabeth Labo told authorities her former husband picked up the boys Thursday.

Throw away the key!

C’mon! C’mon! It’s gotta be in here somewhere !!!! Doctors perform c-section, but she wasn’t pregnant.

Two North Carolina doctors have been reprimanded for performing a caesarian on a woman, only to discover she wasn’t pregnant at all….

The incident — a rare case of pseudocyesis or a false or hysterical pregnancy — happened at the Cape Fear Medical Center in Fayetteville, N.C.

The woman reportedly appeared at the hospital with her husband asking for a C-section. A resident in charge made the pregnancy diagnosis and doctors agreed to surgery after trying to induce labor for two days.

Neither doctor independently confirmed the pregnancy.

In January, after studying the case for more than a year, the North Carolina Medical Board sent “letters of concern,” the lowest level of discipline, to Dr. Gerianne Geszler, who was the on-call physician, and Dr. Dorrette Grant, who performed the caesarian in 2008.

About the level of accountability I’ve learned to expect from the medical community.

Depressed? Fearful? It helps if you worry, too!

A new study of brain activity in depressed and anxious people indicates that some of the ill effects of depression are modified – for better or for worse – by anxiety.

The study, in the journal Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, looked at depression and two types of anxiety: anxious arousal, the fearful vigilance that sometimes turns into panic; and anxious apprehension, better known as worry.

The researchers used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) at the Beckman Institute’s Biomedical Imaging Center to look at brain activity in subjects who were depressed and not anxious, anxious but not depressed, or who exhibited varying degrees of depression and one or both types of anxiety.

“Although we think of depression and anxiety as separate things, they often co-occur,” said University of Illinois psychology professor Gregory A. Miller, who led the research with Illinois psychology professor Wendy Heller. “In a national study of the prevalence of psychiatric disorders, three-quarters of those diagnosed with major depression had at least one other diagnosis. In many cases, those with depression also had anxiety, and vice versa…”

In the new study, brain scans were done while participants performed a task that involved naming the colors of words that had negative, positive, or neutral meanings. This allowed the researchers to observe which brain regions were activated in response to emotional words.

The researchers found that the fMRI signature of the brain of a worried and depressed person doing the emotional word task was very different from that of a vigilant or panicky depressed person…

Despite their depression, the worriers also did better on the emotional word task than those depressives who were fearful or vigilant. The worriers were better able to ignore the meaning of negative words and focus on the task, which was to identify the color – not the emotional content – of the words.

These results suggest that fearful vigilance sometimes heightens the brain activity associated with depression, whereas worry may actually counter it, thus reducing some of the negative effects of depression and fear, Miller said.

Sometimes worry is a good thing to do. Maybe it will get you to plan better. Maybe it will help you to focus better. There could be an up-side to these things.”

Or you could pour yourself a dram of Jamieson’s and forget the whole thing, eh?

Republican Senator: You don’t need your unemployment check!

Well, he certainly doesn’t. Like most Senators, he’s a millionaire.


Nice haircut, Tom. We paid for that, too – right?
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Extended unemployment benefits will temporarily expire for thousands of Americans on Monday because the Senate went on its spring recess without approving a one-month deadline extension.

The extension, which had bipartisan support, would have cost about $10 billion, but a lone Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn, said no until the costs are offset.

The Oklahoma senator objected to a commonly used unanimous-consent agreement to pass the bill under emergency conditions, even if it increases the federal deficit. Coburn wants to eliminate additional government spending to pay for the bill…

Just another rationale for making life more difficult for unemployed workers. I know this may be a surprise for the history-challenged; but, I lived through several recessions over the past half-century – and Republicans have pulled this kind of crap time and again.

It’s the second time a Republican has blocked a so-called “emergency extension” of jobless benefits.

Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning objected to adding to the deficit back in February…

Asked whether President Obama believes that the benefits extension should be paid for, Lawrence Summers, one of Obama’s top economic advisers, said, “He believes that in an emergency, families who are depending on unemployment insurance to buy medicine for their kids should not have that unemployment insurance cut off…”

At least 212,000 Americans will be affected today. I hope a few drop by Coburn’s office in Oklahoma to wish him a happy Easter Monday.

Rucksacks are immoral and…

And a short-sleeved shirt with a tie is a great look – for a serial killer

Q. I need a new bag for work. Is there any kind that is completely unacceptable and I must avoid?

A. The rucksack, Herbert, the mighty rucksack. This has nothing to do with aesthetics and, yes, before the hate of a thousand osteopaths rains down on my head, I am fully aware that a rucksack is the most spine- and shoulder-friendly kind of work bag, if not the most flirtation-friendly, seeing as how it does make one look like Steve Carrell in The 40 Year Old Virgin. No, it’s a question of morals.

You see, Herbert, after many, many years of hardened-on-the-ground research of office commuters I have noticed a strange phenomenon: when a person, male or female, dons a rucksack, they become either completely selfish or oblivious (I am not entirely sure which; further research required, if not exactly desired) and somehow “forget” that they now have a massive hump on their back and proceed to whack people behind and on either side of them with it as they turn to and fro, willy nilly. In their wake lay literally hundreds of fallen commuters strewn through train carriages, felled by the powerful push of the casually brandished rucksack, and yet the rucksacker him/ herself carries on forward, seemingly ignorant of the chaos in their wake…

Q. Are short-sleeved shirts with ties ever acceptable for a man at work or do they, as I suspect, just make you look creepy and as if you still live in your parents’ spare room and play Dungeons and Dragons?

A. To answer your queries in order, no and yes, you suspect correctly. I am very sorry if you suffer from sweaty wrists, Rod, but unless your personal style icon is Napoleon Dynamite, or you wish to resemble one of those guys who is eventually arrested when police discover piles of dead bodies in his freezer and his neighbours all give quotes saying, “It’s so strange – he always seemed like such a pleasant fellow. Kept to himself, mind”, then you will not pair a tie with a short-sleeved shirt.

There are a couple of trolls I occasionally bump into online – who would have asked both sets of questions.

Ranchers Everyone alarmed by killing near border

Sue and Rob Krentz celebrating 100 years of their family ranch – 2008

The murder of a prominent Arizona rancher near the Mexican border is spurring charges that Washington is doing too little to stop Mexico’s raging drug war from spilling over into the United States.

Robert Krentz was shot last Saturday while working at his remote cattle ranch some 30 miles northeast of Douglas on the Arizona-Mexico border.

Investigators tracked the footprints of the suspected gunman about 20 miles south to the border with Mexico, prompting some authorities to blame smugglers or illegal immigrants for the killing.

The ranchers have feared for their lives for a long time and they’ve told the people from Washington, but they don’t pay attention to us,” Michael Gomez, the mayor of Douglas, told Reuters.

“This continues to be a hot area for illegal crossings and they have to do something to stop it…”

The killing comes amid ever-more brazen and brutal attacks by cartels in northern Mexico that are fighting for control of lucrative drug smuggling routes into the United States…

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security expressed “outrage” on Thursday at Krentz’s murder and posted a $25,000 reward for “information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the individual or individuals responsible…”

The area in southern Arizona where Krentz was murdered lies on the edge of a furiously trafficked corridor for both drug and human smugglers.

Without additional security, residents in Douglas said Krentz’s murder left many angry and fearful for their own safety.

Governor Bill, here in New Mexico – not for the first time – sent National Guards down to the Mexican border to patrol.

Many snowbirds who traditionally roll south for the winter in RV’s and trailers to home-up for the cold season along the Mexican border are staying further north in New Mexico and Arizona – or going further west into California. The open spaces which always allowed for free camping – also facilitate the best routes for smuggling, the most danger for retirees trying to enjoy a warm, dry winter.