Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Archive for February, 2011

Feb 28th, 2011

Summary: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has released its annual report on hate and extremism in the United States, titled “The Year in Hate & Extremism, 2010.” The report claims that more than 1,000 hate groups are now active in the United States, the most the SPLC has tallied since it began track these groups in the 1980s. In addition to “hate groups,” the SPLC also catalogued 824 anti-government “Patriot” groups and 319 “nativist extremist” groups. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 28, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Pope Benedict XVI, saying “I pray for the victims,” urged survivors of Chile’s devastating earthquake to be courageous and asked the Catholic Church to play a role in relief efforts.

Summary: Militants attacked and shut down Iraq’s largest oil refinery, at Beiji, killing four workers and setting off bombs that started a raging fire. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 27, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 8.8 earthquake off the Chilean coast was racing across the Pacific Ocean, potentially threatening Hawaii.

Feb 26th, 2011

Summary: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets that “the odds of repeating another Afghanistan or Iraq — invading, pacifying, and administering a large third-world country — may be low” and that “any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa” should, in the words of General Douglas MacArthur, “have his head examined.” … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 26, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that insurgents had struck in the heart of the Afghan capital with suicide attackers and a car bomb, targeting hotels used by foreigners and killing at least 16 people and wounding dozen. The four-hour assault began about 6:30 in the morning with a car bombing that leveled a residential hotel used by Indian doctors. A series of explosions and gunbattles left blood and debris in the rain-slicked streets and underscored the militants’ ability to strike in the heavily defended capital even as NATO marshals its forces against them in an assault on Marjah in the volatile south.

Feb 25th, 2011

Summary: Weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, compiled from U.S. Department of Defense news releases and … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 25, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that the political movement of Iraq’s best-known anti-American cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, was emerging as a major contender in the March 7, 2010 national elections, raising the specter that the next prime minister of Iraq could be openly hostile to the United States and friendly toward Iran.

Feb 24th, 2011

Summary: The Iraqi capital of Baghdad is virtually locked down, with soldiers deployed across the city searching protesters trying to enter Liberation Square and closing off the plaza and side streets with razor wire. The heavy security presence reflects the concern of Iraqi officials that anti-government demonstrations in Iraq could gain traction as they did in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 24, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that more than eight years after the Taliban was toppled from power, the number of U.S. military fatalities in the Afghanistan war was nearing 1,000, a grim milestone in a resurgent conflict claiming the lives of an increasing number of troops who had survived previous tours of duty in Iraq.

Feb 23rd, 2011

Summary: Iran’s president says he is certain the wave of unrest in the Middle East will spread to Europe and North America, bringing an end to governments he accused of oppressing and humiliating people. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose own country resorted to violence to disperse an opposition rally earlier this month, also condemned Libya’s use of force against demonstrators, calling it “grotesque.” … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 23, 2010, Aubrey Immelman provided his weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Feb 22nd, 2011

Summary: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi called on his supporters to take back the streets from anti-government protesters and vowed to fight on and die as a “martyr.” Gadhafi spoke as part of the east of Libya fell to the protesters and was reportedly no longer controlled by the central government. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 22, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Iran said it planned to build two new uranium enrichment facilities deep inside mountains to protect them from attack, a new challenge to Western powers trying to curb Tehran’s nuclear program for fear it is aimed at making weapons.

Feb 21st, 2011

Summary: Raymond Allen Davis, an American jailed in Pakistan for the fatal shooting of two armed men, was secretly working for the CIA and scouting a neighborhood when he was arrested — a disclosure likely to further frustrate U.S. government efforts to free the man and strain relations between two countries partnered in a fragile alliance in the war on terror. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 21, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Nancy Carver of Rice, Minn., restored her shoreline on Little Rock Lake to native flowers and grasses and helped educate her neighbors about the importance of shoreline restoration for improving water quality.

Feb 20th, 2011

Summary: After anti-government unrest spread to the Libyan capital and protesters seized military bases and weapons, Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, went on state television to proclaim that his father remained in charge with the army’s backing and would “fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.” … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 20, 2010, Aubrey Immelman featured a rundown of current conspiracy theories and prevalent political paranoia, with special emphasis on conspiracy-theorist-in-chief Michele Bachmann.

Feb 19th, 2011

Summary: Taliban gunmen detonated explosives in front of a Kabul Bank branch and then stormed the building in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, killing several people and injuring scores of others. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 19, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Joseph Stack, a software engineer with a long-standing grudge against the Internal Revenue Service, crashed a small plane into an office building housing IRS employees in Austin, Texas.