It seems Nigel "Spud" Ely got a little carried away while working in Iraq in 2003. The Englishman somehow got a hold of a fragment of a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein. That piece just happened to be a buttock. A picture accompanying the article provides little help with determining whether it was the left or right buttock, or even whether or not it is a buttock.
Another GOP debate was held last night, providing ample opportunity for disconnected rich old white men to say ignorant, mildly racist things. Stem-cell experiment/bad suit wearing mannequin Rick Perry is widely acknowledged to have made the gaffe of the night for the answer he provided on an oddball question regarding Turkish relations.
Steve Jobs "didn't like what [he] learned" about Abdulfattah John Jandali, his Syrian-American biological dad, and therefore never reestablished a relationship with Jandali before his death in October. But that absence of connection hasn't stopped Jandali from defending his son's products—and, in a sense, his legacy—from the oppressive Syrian government, which has banned iPhones to keep people from filming killings and other atrocities being committed by local authorities.
Here's a delicious template for peace in the Middle East: Coney Island Bialys and Bagels — at 91, the oldest bialy shop in New York City — was on the brink of shutting down after the founder's grandson had called it quits. But the bialys will live on, thanks to two Muslim businessmen harboring a deep fondness for the ways of the shmear.
The Iranian football federation has scrutinized controversial footage of Persepolis defender Mohammed Nosrati (below, left) squeezing teammate Sheis Rezaei's (right) firm buttocks following a goal during the Persian Gulf Cup, and ruled that the two players be fined $40,000 each and "banned indefinitely from all football activities for committing immoral acts."
Afghanistan never charts particularly highly on any lifestyle magazines' annual "Best Countries in the World For Jews" lists. But who knew it's come to this? According to a Report on International Religious Freedom from the U.S. State Department, the number of Jews currently residing in Afghanistan amounts to one (1) Jew.
Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, American travelers who spent two years of an eight-year sentence in Iran's notorious Evin prison for hiking near the wrong border at the wrong time, were back on U.S. soil on Sunday. The two men, both 29, emerged from their plane on the JFK tarmac at 11 a.m. surrounded by loved ones, including Sarah Shourd, the third hiker arrested with them (and Bauer's fiancee), who was released in September 2010. Bauer and Fattal later delivered statements at a press conference, but took no questions.
For the past two years, an Iraqi gangster had a lucrative little auto-theft business going. He'd send one of his men to hail a cab in Baghdad — preferably a new car — and ask for a ride to Dujail. (Dujail is the Iraqi town where Saddam Hussein had 148 boys and men killed in 1982.) When the taxi got to a deserted stretch of road, a group of gang members would appear, kill the driver, bury the body, and sell the car.
You know how you know you're probably a miserable, murderous, Middle East tyrant? When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls you up and says, "Bashie? Mahmoud here. Oh, good, good. Azam and the kids are terrific! Thanks for asking. Listen, Bash, I absolutely adore your work. You know that. Great stuff. There's no one who can brutally put down an uprising like you can. Oh, stop, you flatter me. That? That was barely an uprising! That was, like, two undergrads with a Tweeter machine and a little tear gas. No, but you. You're the man. You can't see this, but I'm high-fiving you right now! Ha ha ha! No, but listen hear me out for a second here. Maybe you should think about turning down the dial a bit on this whole 'mass-murdering of your own people' thing? What? No! Not too much! Never too much. But you know how the Westerners are. They're all 'barbaric' this, 'unarmed protesters mowed down with gunboats' that. Oh crap! I'm late for my two o'clock gay hanging. Can we pick this up tomorrow? You got it. Send my love to Asma. Saw the Vogue spread. Fabulous."
On tonight's Report, Robin Wright (the journalist/author, not the Sean Penn ex-wife) stopped by for an interview with Stephen Colbert about her new book, Rock the Casbah, which argues that the recent Middle East uprisings prove the United States' post-9/11 policy of "gunboat diplomacy" was both misguided and ineffective. And in a rare instance of earnestness—mixed in with his requisite schtick, of course—Colbert repeatedly challenged Wright's arguments. Here's a video of the interview's more combative moments.
Renowned Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was found severely beaten early this morning on the Damascus Airport road, apparently by plain clothes government thugs, or shabiha. A picture from the hospital today shows both of his hands appearing to be severely injured. Long critical of the Assad family, Ferzat was nonetheless tolerated and, as the Guardian notes, even respected by Bashar al-Assad at one point. Ferzat told the paper in 2001 about an encounter he had with Bashar the aspiring opthamologist:
According to reports, "hundreds of Libyan rebels" have stormed Muammar Qaddafi's compound at Bab al-Aziziya. There's still fighting going on, though Reuters reports that Libyan rebels have entered Qaddafi's home in the compound. Jubilant rebels are bringing out official government files from the compound and showing them to CNN's reporter right now.