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Stephen Colbert Gets a Crew Cut it Iraq

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Gen. Ray Odierno shaved the comedian's head – under orders from President Obama – during one of four shows of the Colbert Report taped on location in Baghdad.

By Jane Arraf
The Christian Science Monitor


Gen. Ray Odierno shaves the head of Comedy Central TV host Stephen Colbert during a taping of "The Colbert Report" in Iraq on Sunday. STEVE MANUEL/AP
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - In the normally surreal atmosphere of US military headquarters in Saddam Hussein's former palace, a taped appearance by President Obama ordering his top general in Iraq to shave comedian Stephen Colbert's head didn't even seem that odd.

To the delighted audience of about 250 servicemen and women who were the studio audience of "Operation Iraq Stephen: Going Commando," the show was part of an hour-long suspension of a war that for many on this vast base has become more drudgery than danger.

Comedy Central's "Colbert Report" airing Monday night is the first of four episodes of the satirical program to be taped in Iraq, sponsored by the United Service Organization (USO) and broadcast this week in a unique collaboration with the military.

In the ballroom of the marble palace at Camp Victory Sunday night, Mr. Colbert bounded onto the stage wearing a business suit made of the same camouflage fabric of Army uniforms. Swinging a golf club, he told the audience what a thrill it was to bring his show to the men and women in Iraq: "a country so nice we invaded it twice."

DARK HUMOR

"It must be nice here, because I understand some of you keep coming back again and again and again," he said to a wave of laughter.

It's a little-known fact that there is a lot of dark humor in war – soldiers cope by finding things funny that the rest of the world likely wouldn't appreciate. Fittingly, one of the biggest laughs was in response to one of the reasons why Colbert said the US should declare victory here: The US has "eliminated weapons of mass destruction." "Easier than we thought" ran the subtext on a giant screen.

"This is not 'Camp Cautiously Optimistic'.... This is not 'Camp Obviously We Must Work Towards Sunni Participation in the Upcoming Elections in January 2010.' This is Camp Victory!," Colbert bellowed behind a set made up of red, white, and blue sandbags....(Click for remainder.)

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The Pirate Party Sets Sail for Europe

Young voters gave a seat in EU parliament to new party that campaigned to loosen copyright laws.

By Tom Sullivan
Christian Science Monitor


Rick Falkvinge, leader of the Pirate Party, which advocates shortening the duration of copyright protection, cheers at preliminary results of the Swedish votes in the European parliament election on Sunday in Stockholm. FREDRIK PERSSON/AP
STOCKHOLM - It started as a protest movement over shutting down a website accused of distributing pirated music.

Today, it has a place in the European Parliament.

Buoyed by a majority of young people and first-time voters in Sweden, the Pirate Party won more than 7 percent of the vote, ensuring at least one seat at the European Union Parliament in Brussels.

The Pirate Party rose to prominence earlier this year by campaigning for the music and movie file-sharing website Pirate Bay.

In April, the website's founders were convicted of copyright violations and given a one-year jail sentence as well as a $3.6 million fine.

But in the wake of that ruling, the site continued to operate and the party tripled its membership base, becoming the third largest in the country.

There is more, however, to Monday's victory than a protest vote and illegal file sharing.

The Pirate Party won the support of the majority of Swedes under the age of 30, a group which traditionally fails to participate in European elections. According to polls, a quarter of their voters have little trust in politicians. Almost a fifth are potential supporters of the extreme right-wing Sweden Democrats, who – as a direct result of the Pirate Party – failed to garner enough support to win a seat....(Click for remainder.)

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