The Envoy
  • Two grieving Afghan men look at the body of a burned child killed by a U.S. soldier Sunday. (EPA/Via Daily Telegraph)
    American officials are reeling after the shooting rampage by a U.S. soldier that left 16 Afghans dead, including several children, with many wondering whether the fallout will affect the timeline of international troop withdrawal in the region. The massacre occurred early Sunday in southern Afghanistan.

    The latest shocking spout of violence threatened to further erode the already shaky confidence in the troubled peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, just as international forces hoped morale in the wake of the recent burning of Qurans at Bagram Air Force base was starting to pick up. The Quran debacle sparked weeks of protests and retribution killings by Afghan soldiers against foreign troops.

    Defense analysts said that the horrific incident is certain to prompt consideration of accelerating the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, currently slated to be completed by the end of 2014.

    "It seems fairly clear that the U.S. is re-looking at the withdrawal timetable in light of several events," Nick Dowling, president of IDS International, a firm that advises U.S. agencies on Afghanistan, told Yahoo News by email Monday. "These incidents will likely lead to a faster but less dignified end to U.S. and ISAF operations in Afghanistan."

    Britain's envoy called the incident "ghastly" and very distressing for all countries contributing troops in Afghanistan, but said he did not think it would fundamentally change the international coalition's strategy for Afghanistan.

    "It's a terrible incident, women and children killed by a single gunman behaving in an inexplicable, irrational way," British Ambassador to the United States Peter Westmacott told journalists at a press briefing in Washington Monday. "It is terrible for the coalition when things like this happen. We have had too many of these."

    "Does it alter the strategy?" Westmacott continued. "I don't believe it does. I think we remain determined to finish the job and leave Afghanistan in as good order as we can."More...

    Read More »from Will the Afghanistan massacre accelerate the timeframe for withdrawing international troops?
  • CPPCC committee member Song Zuying chose Chanel boots for the annual conference. (MP Life, via, it's not "Beijing Fashion Week." It's actually a Chinese Communist Party political convention.

    China's political elite have gathered in Beijing this week for the annual twin meetings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC). And Chinese netizens are taking to Asian micro-blogging sites to note that some of their representatives are turning up for the annual political powwows decked out in some rather conspicuously high-end French and Italian designer duds. Among the luxury labels in the fashion parade: Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Bottega Veneta, according to a report in MP Life, translated via the English-language ChinaSmack blog.

    Take, for instance, Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) committee member Song Zuying (pictured in the photo at right), who arrived to participate in the conference in "a fur coat, [and] on her feet she wears Chanel's Autumn-Winter collection gold chain boots," MP Life wrote. (Retail value for the boots: $1,500, according to one shopping website--if you can still snag a pair.)

    For CPPCC committee member and Heng Da chairman Xu Jiayin, the choice was Hermes. Mr. Xu "turns up late and is besieged and chased by journalists," MP Life reported on the arrival frenzy (photo below). "His Hermes leather belt was revealed by a fellow netizen to retail for 20,000 RMB"—or just over $3,100, according to the current exchange rate.

    Noted MP Life, American political leaders are generally more careful about the signals they and their spouses' sartorial choices send to the voting public about superior financial means. "When the wife of the U.S. President participates in national conferences, she just wears regular, second-rate or third-rate brands like J. Crew," MP Life commented, according to a translated post on the ChinaSmack blog, before adding with apparent sarcasm: "It's easy to then see that the quality of life and taste of our kingdom's people's representatives are leading the world!" (In other words, no sweater vests here.)

    Read More »from Beijing Fashion Week? China’s Communist Party elite convenes–decked out in haute couture
  • The filmmaker behind the "Kony 2012" documentary, the mega-viral hit that  exploded on the Web this week, told NBC's Today show Friday that he makes no apologies for trying to put a human face on a complex and decades-old conflict.

    "We can all agree we can stop him this year,'' Invisible Children filmmaker Jason Russell told the Today Show's Ann Curry, referring to guerrilla leader Joseph Kony, head of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). "We're not going to wait.''

    Russell defended the film from criticism that it hypes and oversimplifies the guerrilla conflict, which has subsided considerably from its height in 2003-2004. Accused of atrocities and the abduction of thousands of children to fight in his guerrilla group over the past 20 years, Kony's LRA is estimated to have fewer than 200 soldiers now, and most reside outside Uganda.

    "If that happened in San Diego, Calif., if that happened in New York City—200 children abducted and forced to kill their parents ... it would be all over the news,'' the filmmaker said.

    Russell also encouraged the millions of viewers who have watched the video to donate $30 to his advocacy group, Invisible Children, and wear a wrist bracelet. Some observers have charged that Invisible Children and its "Stop Kony" campaign are essentially promoting "slacktivism"—low-effort, feel-good activism among millions of college students and young people mesmerized by the video that does very little to help anyone on the ground in Central Africa.

    "The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege," Nigerian-born writer Teju Cole, author of "Open City," said about the Invisible Children project on Twitter Thursday. "Feverish worry over that awful African warlord. But close to 1.5 million Iraqis died from an American war of choice. Worry about that."

    American young people turned on to the "Stop Kony" campaign are eager to have a moral cause, Russell said: "These are children and young people 25 and younger are saying, 'Mom, Dad, we want you to pay attention to this right now.'''

    The San Diego-based filmmaker attributed the explosive interest in the film to its putting a human face on a complex, decades-old war story. The 30-minute documentary had been seen by more than 52 million viewers on YouTube and 14 million on Vimeo since it was posted Monday, according to MSNBC.

    Read More »from Kony 2012 filmmaker Jason Russell speaks out: ‘We can all agree we can stop [Kony] this year’


(679 Stories)
  • Miss America: Don't suspend teen over prom invite
    Miss America: Don't suspend teen over prom invite

    YORK, Pa. (AP) — Miss America is asking a Pennsylvania school district to reconsider the punishment of a senior who asked her to prom during the question-and-answer portion of an assembly.

  • Pipeline delay gives boost to Obama's political base

    By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The latest delay to a final decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline will reinforce a White House strategy to energize President Barack Obama's liberal-leaning base before fall elections in which Democrats risk losing control of the U.S. Senate. Environmentalists, worried about the project's effect on climate change, have put enormous pressure on the president to reject the pipeline from Canada's oil sands, staging demonstrations outside the White House and protests in states where he travels. A decision to approve it now could have prompted that vocal group, which was instrumental in electing Obama in 2008 and 2012, to sit out the November 4 congressional elections. The State Department's announcement on Friday that it would give government agencies more time to study the project was seen by strategists from both parties as a move to prevent that and boost Obama in the eyes of his supporters.

  • US ground forces to be sent to Poland, report says
    US ground forces to be sent to Poland, report says

    Poland's defense minister has said US ground forces will be sent to Poland to expand NATO's presence there as events continue to unfold in neighboring Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. Tomasz Siemoniak told the Post Friday that military planners were already working on the details and that Poland would play a lead role "under US patronage." He added that US ground troops would also likely be sent to the Baltic states, under the push to increase NATO's presence in Central and Eastern Europe.

  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
    Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters

    MONACO (AP) — Stanislas Wawrinka showed that his first Grand Slam title wasn't a fluke, upstaging his more illustrious countryman to add a maiden Masters trophy in Monte Carlo on Sunday.

  • Illinois mayor sends cops after man who created parody Twitter account
    Illinois mayor sends cops after man who created parody Twitter account

    The local story has made national headlines after readers across the country protested the official response to the Twitter parody account.

  • Malaysia Airlines plane returns safely after landing gear scare
    Malaysia Airlines plane returns safely after landing gear scare

    A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane with 166 people on board landed safely at Kuala Lumpur airport early on Monday after being forced to abandon a flight to Bangalore because of problems with its landing gear, the airline said. Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a tweet: 'All landed safely - going there now!!" Malaysia Airlines had said earlier that the Boeing 737-800, carrying 159 passengers and seven crew, had suffered a malfunction of its right-hand landing gear upon takeoff, and would be forced to attempt an emergency landing. The website, which displays live air traffic, showed Flight MH192 repeatedly circling Kuala Lumpur airport before the eventual landing. Last month a Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in unexplained circumstances with 239 people on board, and the search for its presumed wreckage is still continuing in the Indian Ocean.

  • 5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus
    5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus

    As Christians worldwide gather for Easter to celebrate their belief in the death and rebirth of Jesus, researchers continue to delve into the mysteries that surround the man. The following are five questions about Jesus that, for now, at least, remain unanswered. In 2008, astronomer Dave Reneke argued that the Star of Bethlehem (a celestial event long associated with Jesus' birth) may have been Venus and Jupiter coming together to form a bright light in the sky. Other researchers have claimed that a similar conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter occurred in October of 7 B.C. Still others have claimed that Jesus was born in the spring, based on stories about shepherds watching over their flocks in fields on the night of Jesus' birth — something they would have done in the spring, not the winter.

  • Asia seeks Obama's assurance in territorial spats
    Asia seeks Obama's assurance in territorial spats

    WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that's warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China.

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