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October 7, 2012

The Rumble 2012: Bill O’Reilly vs Jon Stewart (Full)


The Rumble 2012 – “Daily Show” funnyman Jon Stewart and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly faced off in a debate Saturday tonight at the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Viewers can watch the event. dubbed “O’Reilly v Stewart 2012: The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” streaming on the web at

Starting at 8 p.m. ET, we’ll be live blogging every jab, joke, and smart-aleck remark with this live blog. Join the conversation and leave your thoughts in the comments.

WASHINGTON (AP) — There were all the trappings of a high-octane presidential debate: the over-the-top declarations, the pre-practiced zingers and the schmaltzy appeals to America’s truest values. But the presidential candidates were nowhere to be found.
In their place Saturday were two celebrity gabbers who have claimed their stakes to the polar opposite ends of the political spectrum: Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart. The political odd-couple came to Washington ready to tangle in an event mockingly dubbed “The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium.”
Choice words not suitable for the faint of heart dotted the 90-minute exchange between the Fox News anchor and the star of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” who bantered aggressively but good-naturedly over birth control, President George W. Bush and the so-called “War on Christmas.”
Stewart came prepped with a mechanical pedestal he used to elevate himself in the air, making the height-challenged comedian appear taller than the lanky O’Reilly when he wanted to drive a point home.
“I like you much better that way,” O’Reilly quipped at one point as he gazed up at his ideological foe.
The political feud between the two caffeinated TV personalities dates back more than a decade. Much like family members who just can’t resist pushing each other’s buttons over Thanksgiving stuffing, Stewart and O’Reilly love to disagree, but appear to hold nothing against each other once the latest spat has run its course. The two have appeared on each other’s programs since 2001, but the face-off Saturday at The George Washington University marked their first head-to-head debate.
Appearing wholly presidential in dark jackets and face makeup under a sign reading “Yum, this banner tastes like freedom,” the two quickly turned to talk of government spending and the 47 percent of Americans that Republican Mitt Romney said in a video are dependent on government.
Stewart, defending government involvement in health care and social programs, said the U.S. has always been an entitlement nation.
“We are a people that went to another country, saw other people on it and said, ‘Yea, we want that,” Stewart said. “Have you ever seen ‘Oprah’s favorite things’ episode?”
Asked who he’d like to see as president, O’Reilly dead-panned: “I’d have to say Clint Eastwood.”
“Well why don’t we ask him,” said Stewart, mocking the Hollywood actor’s widely panned speech in August at the Republican National Convention by getting out of his chair and staring at it while the crowd erupted in laughter.
In an apparent show of bipartisanship, Stewart even got on O’Reilly lap at one point. “And what would you like for Christmas, little boy?” O’Reilly said slyly.
“The display that you saw tonight is why America is America. Robust, creative, no holds barred,” O’Reilly told reporters after the debate. “You can call it whatever you want, but you wouldn’t see this in a lot of other countries. That’s for sure.”
Organizers said about 1,500 people attended the event, but the main audience was intended to be online, where the event was live-streamed for $4.95. On Twitter, viewers complained they missed the event when the video servers crashed. Organizers said video will be available for download and that those who experienced errors will be eligible for a refund.

Syria mourns man who might have been

Oct 7, 2012

Damascus // The gunmen walked in on a small political meeting in the northern town of Qamishli, asked for the opposition leader Meshaal Tammo by name and, when he answered, opened fire.

In this image taken from video obtained from Shaam News Network (SNN), which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a fire rages at a medieval souk in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian rebels and residents of Aleppo struggled Saturday to contain a huge fire that destroyed parts of the city's medieval souks, or markets, following raging battles between government troops and opposition fighters there, activists said. Some described the overnight blaze as the worst blow yet to a historic dist

His life, and his assassination a year ago today, encapsulate much about the Syrian uprising, and the frightening underworld of a country now mired in a gruesome conflict. The revolt has inspired revolutionary political vision, hope and generosity of spirit. But it has also unleashed obscene violence, ruthless political calculation, fear and a choking narrative of complexity and conspiracy.

Unlike many well known dissidents – for the most part elderly men seen as out of touch or, worse, as regime patsies by the mass of youthful demonstrators – Tammo, 53, was respected by those risking their lives protesting in the street.

“There are many remarkable activists and dissidents at street level but there’s a big shortage at national level. Meshaal Tammo was perhaps the only one with that kind of potential, to become a statesman,” said a Syrian political analyst who knew Tammo well.

“He is perhaps the only person in the Syrian opposition who you’d look at and think, ‘He could be president one day’, he had that about his character,” the analyst said.

Although himself a Kurd, Tammo wanted none of the special rights demanded by mafia-like Kurdish political groups, and insisted that the answer to the historic persecution of Syria’s ethnic minorities lay in democracy for all, not separatism for some.

He had paid his dues, serving a long jail sentence for political dissent and, having been released, he participated in demonstrations and organised them. Other opposition political leaders stood aloof, preferring to discuss policy in their offices or, better still, in the safety of luxurious hotels in foreign capitals.

Tammo refused to distance himself from the dangers faced by protesters, instead joining the rallies in which unarmed civilians were being shot by security forces.

While a split opposition – renowned for its multitude of preening egos and its dogmatic interpretation of politics – jockeyed amongst itself for position, Tammo worked to create a united platform of those seeking to usher in a new Syria after decades of authoritarianism.

In July last year, he was instrumental in organising a political forum in the Damascus neighbourhood of Qaboun, which, had it gone ahead, would have broken new ground by involving young demonstrators, seasoned political activists and exiled opposition leaders.

A hail of gunfire that killed 16 people outside the meeting hall led to its cancellation.

Tammo wanted to build a modern Syria, founded on a secular legal system, civil rights and citizenship. His solution for the various sectarian and ethnic divisions now tearing at Syria was simple; complete equality for all before the law.

Those qualities – his genuine leadership potential, his push for unity and his refusal to trade in the narrow sectarian and ethnic identity politics lurking so dangerously beneath Syria’s surface – made him a threat to the status quo.

And all of them, to a greater or lesser extent, gave his enemies a motive for killing him.

Openly calling for nothing short of Bashar Al Assad’s overthrow and for toppling the underlying structures of his regime, Tammo was anathema to the Syrian authorities.

By his own account, after the uprising began he had been called in by a particularly feared security chief and threatened in brutally stark terms to stop his activism, or face dire consequences. He had cheerfully answered that he was quite prepared to die for the cause of freedom in Syria if that is what was required of him.

At the same time, he was also anathema to powerful Kurdish political factions, rejecting their strategy of exploiting the uprising to carve out an independent enclave. Syria’s revolution was for all, Tammo said, and its Kurdish minority should stand alongside the Arab opposition and fight with them for nothing more and nothing less than complete equality.

He famously told Kurdish protesters not to fly Kurdish flags at demonstrations, asking them to fly the Syrian flag instead, and he openly sought a close working relationship with neighbouring Turkey, angering powerful Kurdish factions who view Ankara as a greater evil than the Damascus regime.

Old guard Arab nationalists – and they represent a strong sentiment in Syria – were also irritated by Tammo’s suggestion that the country should, in future, define itself as a democratic republic, not specifically an Arab country, for the simple reason that not all of its citizens were Arabs.

And he stood against Islamist militancy, opposing those who called for a state based on Sharia. Only a secular legal system would safeguard Syria’s mosaic of religious and ethnic groups, he said.

No one has ever been convicted of Tammo’s murder. Syrian officials said he had been killed by an “armed terrorist group” and, soon after he died, announced the arrests of 11 men in connection with the case. Nothing has been heard since.

He was one of the few genuinely charismatic opposition figures, a rare mixture of hard experience, energetic youth and political vision, and his story is one of Syria’s great might-have-beens.

If Tammo were alive today, there is a chance – a slim chance no doubt, but a chance nonetheless – that his country would not now be marching so quickly down the path of bloodshed and oblivion.


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