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Archive for September, 2012

Explaining the Ambassador’s assasination to kids

A lot of kids may be worried and anxious about the events in Libya. Especially now that President Barack Obama is saying the United States will seek justice in the slaying of our U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans there on Tuesday. Below we are featuring CNN’s six things you need to know about the attacks. It may help to tamp down some of the worry to identify what the movie was about that is being blamed for the attacks and to understand a little bit about the politics unfolding there post Arab Spring.



Six things to know about attack that killed Ambassador Stevens

Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, were killed Tuesday as gunmen set fire to and fought security forces at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The attack came as protesters outside the compound rallied against a movie that unflatteringly portrays Islam’s Prophet Mohammed. U.S. sources are giving conflicting accounts about whether the attack was planned before the protest and whether the attackers used the protest as a diversion.

If you’re new to the story and need to catch up, here are six key things to know about the incident.

1) What happened?

On Tuesday night, protesters were outside the consulate in Benghazi, demonstrating against the video “Innocence of Muslims,” which reportedly was made in California by a producer whose identity is unclear.

Eventually, a group of heavily armed militants “infiltrated the march to start chaos,” according to Libyan Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif.

Initial reports indicate the four-hour assault began around 10 p.m. as attackers pelted the U.S. Consulate complex’s main compound with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades . Within 15 minutes, the gunmen entered the building.

Four hours of fire and chaos: How the attack unfolded

The attackers set the consulate ablaze – it’s not clear how, though one senior U.S. official said a rocket-propelled grenade started the fire. American and Libyan security personnel tried to fight the attackers and the fire.

As the fire spread, three people Stevens, Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith and a U.S. regional security officer were in a safe room, senior State Department officials said.

The three tried to leave when smoke filled the safe room. After the security officer escaped the building, he returned with others to try to rescue Stevens and Smith. Smith was found dead, apparently of smoke inhalation, officials said.

Stevens was missing. Libyans later said that bystanders found an unconscious Stevens and took him to a hospital, though U.S. officials could not confirm that account. His body was handed over to Americans at an airport; it’s not clear how he died.

Ex-SEALs, online gaming maven among Benghazi dead

Two other Americans, whose names haven’t been released, were killed and two others were wounded during a gunbattle between security forces and militants at the complex, a senior administration official said.

2) Who did it, and why?

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said on Wednesday: “At this stage it would be premature to ascribe any motive to this reprehensible act.”

But sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya say a pro-al Qaeda group responsible for a previous armed assault on the Benghazi consulate is the chief suspect.

They also note that the attack immediately followed a call from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for revenge for the death in June of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior Libyan member of al Qaeda.

U.S. sources also have said they believed the attack was planned and used the protest as a diversion, though the sources could not say whether the attackers instigated the protest or merely took advantage of it.

A London think tank with strong ties to Libya was among those to speculate Wednesday that the attackers “came to avenge the death of Abu Yaya al-Libi.”

It was “the work of roughly 20 militants, prepared for a military assault,” the think tank Quilliam said, noting that there were no other protests against the film elsewhere in Libya.

“Jihadists will want the world to believe that the attack is just a part of the protests against an amateur film produced in the U.S., which includes crude insults regarding the Prophet Mohammed. They will want the world to think that their actions represent a popular Libyan and wider Muslim reaction; thus, reversing the perception of jihadists being outcasts from their own societies,” Quilliam president Norman Benotman said.

The significance of the timing of the attack, which fell on the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, is unclear.

3) What is this movie that people were protesting?

Again, it’s not clear whether the attack stemmed directly from outrage over the movie. But protesters outside the consulate did demonstrate against “Innocence of Muslims” before the attack, as did demonstrators outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, 700 miles to the east of Benghazi.

An online trailer for the movie depicts Islam as a fraudulent religion bent on getting rid of nonbelievers. Cartoonish scenes show Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and ruthless killer.

But the film’s actors and crew members released a statement Wednesday saying they were “grossly misled” about the filmmaker’s intent. An actress in the film who asked not to be identified said the original script did not include a Prophet Mohammed character, and that the actors’ lines had been changed post-production.

A casting call published in July 2011 in publications for actors identifies the working title of the movie as “Desert Warrior” and describes it as a “historical Arabian Desert adventure film.”

The Wall Street Journal identified the filmmaker as Sam Bacile. The Journal reported that, in its telephone interview with Bacile, he characterized his film as “a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam.”

But CNN has not been able to contact him, and a search of public records on Sam Bacile came up empty. Casting further doubt on the filmmaker’s identity, The Atlantic quoted a consultant of the filmmaker’s as saying Sam Bacile is a pseudonym and said “he did not know Bacile’s real name.”

Reaction to anti-Islam film fuels debate on free speech versus hate speech

News of the video, posted in July on YouTube, spread as Egyptian television recently aired segments and anti-Islam activists, including Egyptian-born Coptic Christian Morris Sadek, promoted it online.

Many Muslims find any depiction of Mohammed to be offensive  – a Danish newspaper’s publication in 2005 of Mohammed caricatures triggered riots – and derogatory depictions of the prophet are considered by some to be worse.

4) What will the United States do about the attack?

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States “will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act and make no mistake, justice will be done.”

A senior U.S. official told CNN that American surveillance drones are expected to join the hunt for jihadists who may be tied to the attack. The drones are expected to gather intelligence that will be turned over to Libyan officials for strikes, the official said.

A senior defense official said the drones would be part of “a stepped-up, more focused search” for a particular insurgent cell that may have been behind the killings.

In June, a senior Libyan official told CNN that U.S. controllers were already flying the unmanned craft over suspected jihadist training camps in eastern Libya because of concerns about rising activity by al Qaeda and like-minded groups in the region.

Two U.S. Navy destroyers  the USS Laboon and the USS McFaul are moving toward the coast of Libya, two U.S. officials told CNN. Both ships are equipped with tomahawk missiles that could be used if a strike was ordered.

About 50 U.S. Marines are headed to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, after the attack to beef up security in response to the attack, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The unit is specially trained to retake or guard diplomatic installations and other U.S. facilities in troubled regions.

The United States said it also would increase security at its embassies around the world.

5) How has the Libyan government reacted?

Libya’s leaders apologized for the attack. Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib called it a “cowardly, criminal act.”

U.S. and NATO warplanes helped a Benghazi-based rebellion drive on Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi last year. Gadhafi was overthrown.

The militants suspected in Tuesday night’s attack “are a very small minority” who are taking advantage of a fledgling democracy, Ali Suleiman Aujali, the Libyan ambassador the United States, told CNN’s “Amanpour.” “The good thing about this is the majority – 95, 98% of the Libyan people care not for this,” he said.

6) Who was Stevens?

Stevens served in several posts for the U.S. Foreign Service in the Middle East and North Africa before being named U.S. ambassador to Libya in May.

He was involved with Libya for several years, serving as the U.S. deputy chief of mission from 2007 to 2009. In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent him to Benghazi to be an envoy to the rebels during the revolt against Gadhafi.

Stevens graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1982, then took a pause in his studies to join the Peace Corps, according to his State Department biography.

“Growing up in California, I didn’t know much about the Arab world,” he said in a State Department video prepared to introduce him to the Libyan people after his appointment as ambassador in May.

Slain ambassador warned in ’08 about extremists near Benghazi

“I worked as an English teacher in a town in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco for two years, and quickly grew to love this part of the world,” he said.

– CNN’s Suzanne Kelly, Sarah Aarthun, Michael Pearson, Moni Basu, Tom Watkins, Barabara Starr, Chris Lawrence, Jomana Karadsheh, Elise Labott, Nic Robertson, Jill Dougherty, Tom Cohen and Carol Cratty contributed to this report.

Pulled pork soft tacos

From Ina Garten’s yummy Barefoot Contessa website …

Put your own spin on delicious and top these quick and easy tacos with incredibly tender pulled pork.


  • 1 1/4 pounds cooked pulled pork, warmed
  • 12 5- or 6-inch corn tortillas, OR flour tortillas
  • 3 cups iceberg lettuce, OR romaine lettuce, shredded (about 1/4 head of iceberg or 1/2 small head of romaine)
  • 1 cup salsa, purchased or homemade, or more to taste


Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place two tortillas in the skillet and cook until warm and softened, about 30 seconds per side. Fill the tortillas with about 1 1/2 ounces of the pork, 1/4 cup of the lettuce, and 4 teaspoons of the salsa.


Repeat with the remaining tortillas and serve.


* If you prefer to heat all of the tortillas at once, microwave them on high until warm and softened, 1 to 2 minutes.

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Mom’s happy dance goes viral



  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 (6 ounce) fillets salmon


  1. In a medium glass bowl, prepare marinade by mixing garlic, light olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley. Place salmon fillets in a medium glass baking dish, and cover with the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator about 1 hour, turning occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  3. Place fillets in aluminum foil, cover with marinade, and seal. Place sealed salmon in the glass dish, and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until easily flaked with a fork.

Life in the fast lane

Look around and what do you see? Most Moms just catching their breath now that the kids are launched back in school. Getting used to their Fall routines and trying to find time to start working out and working again. So how does all of that impact the female voter? The reason we started this blog was to reach them – those women who were practically on the fence in terms of choosing a party, who maybe voted for the Democrats last time but are feeling the pinch of a tough economy this time around and may be leaning Republican, women who are so busy with their kids and daily lives, they are not necessarily consumers of daily political news. But they do care. CNN has an interesting article that claims Obama got a bounce out of the conventions but Romney didn’t. In fact, it says Obama was up around ten percentage points in the polls. Obama has had a slight lead among women voters for most of the year. But as one pundit pointed out, at the end of the day, each of these victory clinching headlines fades and eventually we are back where we’ve been for the last few years, in a stalled economy. 

You’re Probably A Sh*tty Mom, But It’s OK / Faye Brennan

So, we all know Moms who think they need to be perfect to qualify for the title. And we know the perfect Moms who want to fix you if you aren’t. Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner have hit on a brilliant idea. A book for everybody else.  



Sh*tty Mom book
The cover of the new, soon-to-be hit book
Authors of the new book “Sh*tty Mom” explain why being the best mom you can be is a waste of time.

When you’re “Yes”-ing your kid to death on your way to drop him off at school because he’s going on and on about some stupid dinosaur he saw on TV that sang this song and wore this hat and met this friend, you may be wondering if you’re a bad mom. You are, but it’s totally OK.

And, you’re not alone. Hitting bookshelves this month is Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide For The Rest Of Us, which proves that every mother — no matter how good her intentions — is a “sh*tty mom” from time-to-time, as she rightfully should be. As authors and real-life moms Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner remind us, there’s only so many times mama bears can go a full day taking care of their screaming, crying, jumping, burping, pooping kiddies without wanting to stick their heads in an oven.

Hilariously written, the book is a must-read for any mom who’s ever wondered if her parenting methods were less than kosher. But, you don’t have to take it from me. I recently interviewed Alicia and Mary Ann — both married, Emmy-award winning producers at NBC with two children — to find out why they think every woman with a child can relate to their “how-to and how-not-to” guide.


OK, spill it: what was the inspiration behind Sh*tty Mom, and why are babies out to ruin us?
Mary Ann: “Think about it: what happens after you have kids? You gain weight, lose your sex drive, get overly tired and rarely travel. Despite all these things, you can’t help but be crazy over these little people. The real inspiration was laughing about all of our less-than-perfect parenting moments. To Alicia, that might mean not remembering to check the box of cupcake mix for her son’s class to to see if they are gluten-free. For me, it’s remembering my girls’ birthdays.”
Alicia: “Our number-one goal is to liberate women from this notion of ‘trying to be the perfect mom’ that society has created. We’re living in this world of hyper-sensitive, extreme parenting, yet sometimes the only thing necessary to being a good mama is the ability to parent less. Think of it as ‘parenting-lite,’ with 40 percent of the effort. Parenting on a more minimal level is actually a good thing – that’s how most of us were raised.” #LoveAfterKids: Join Our ‘Love After Kids’ Twitter Party!

The way Sh*tty Moms is written is absolutely hilarious. Did you all sit in a room and commiserate on how much road trips suck and how to feign sleeping when your kids are trying to wake you up?
Mary Ann: “Actually Alicia, Karen and I came up with the idea over margaritas and chips and salsa while we were simply talking about mom moments. From there, we wrote up a proposal for a book. But we weren’t funny enough (go figure!) so we brought Laurie in for the humor.”
Alicia: “What really united us to this subject was how no matter what age your child is, how many children you have or where you live, each and every one of us has survived hundreds of Sh*tty Mom moments.”

You have conflicting views about keeping kids away from iPhones, iPads and PDAs. How do you really feel?
Mary Ann: “They are absolutely horrible, addictive and brain rotting, except when you are sitting in a resturant, plane or car. Then, they are your lifesavers.”
Alicia: “My husband and I do not allow our children to have their own electronics yet. But, that hasn’t stopped me from bribing my kids with the promise of using my electronic devices like my Blackberry, iPad and computer.”

Read on…

More juicy content from YourTango:








We’ve got a lot of articles for you to look at reviewing the President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention last night. Personally, I will say it’s hard to pan a guy who you voted for four years ago. On the other hand, if last night’s speech is any indication, Obama is not the same candidate he was. The Barack Obama of four years ago was truly inspirational.  Last night’s Obama seemed to have lost his way. It isn’t that I don’t care about the things he cares about, like global warming, women’s rights and civil unions, but the reality is it’s time to take the fix down to the micro level by getting Americans and America working again.  And asking for more time to continue the recovery when the recovery hasn’t really gotten off the ground, as one writer said this morning, is a big ask. At the Convention four years ago Obama said that candidates who can’t run on their record paint the opponent as a guy to run away from. Hmmm.

The Mom Vivant / Debbie Baldwin of Ladue News

The Mom Vivant / Debbie Baldwin of Ladue News

Photo courtesy of: Ladue News

By Debbie Baldwin

So, something funny happened to me the other day…or something disturbing— I can’t decide. Cranky, her best friend and two other girls were on their way to their first-ever ‘modeling’ photo shoot for Ladue News. They were booked to have their hair done at the new Breeze salon at 6 a.m., and then on to photos at 8:30. Those who know me well, know that an early start for me is around 10, so a 5 a.m. wake-up is a bit of a shock to the system. Nevertheless, I gather the girls, and at 8 a.m., I am ready to deliver them from point A to point B.

I turn onto Clayton Road by the Esquire and head for Forest Park. Cranky has great music on, I’m enjoying an ice-cold diet soda and the girls are discussing the Justin Bieber concert—all in all, it’s a very pleasant jaunt. Suddenly, a car juts in front of me, unusually close and unusually fast; and if I’m not mistaken, I think I spy, ahem, an extended digit.

I shake my head. Surely, I imagined that. I didn’t make any sudden lane changes or lay on my horn. What’s more, the car in front of me is like the quintessential tree-hugger granola mobile. The bumper stickers on the back say things like ‘Coexist’ and ‘Recycle.’ I dismiss my paranoia as we pull up side-by-side to a light. I look at the driver, and he looks like Santa Claus: long, white beard, small round glasses. Surely, ‘Santa’ didn’t flip me off. Then as I pull up, with 14-year-old Cranky in the passenger seat, he turns and utters an expletive directed at me, You f***ing wh**e!

Is it me, or is that a tad extreme for an inadvertent Tuesday morning traffic mishap? What’s more, I don’t even know what I’ve done. Cut him off? Sideswipe him? Slash his tires? I keep my car back after he rolls forward so we are no longer side-by-side and say the only thing I can think to say—quoting his own bumper sticker—Coexist!

With that, he peels away—thankfully, in a different direction—and we carry on with our day. I laughed it off. Well, I tried to laugh it off. I don’t know if there’s a lesson to be learned here or not. I’m sad I could make someone that angry, and I’m disturbed someone could be capable of such anger. It can’t be healthy. I’ll have to remember that the next time somebody cuts me off.

Pork and White Bean Casserole

Recipe from Whole Foods

  • 8 thick slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 dried hot chorizo sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 medium bone-in pork chops, meat cut into 1/2-inch pieces, bones reserved
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped leeks
  • 3 cups cooked white beans
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (gluten-free, if desired)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish sweet paprika (optional)

In medium-sized pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until lightly brown, about 4 minutes. Remove bacon pieces and reserve. Add chorizo to the pot and cook in the remaining bacon fat until lightly browned, caramelized and slightly smoking, about 4 minutes. Take chorizo out and reserve. Sprinkle pork meat with salt and pepper, then add to pot and cook for about 5 minutes, or until slightly browned. Remove and reserve.

Discard about half of the fat in the pot, being careful not to remove any solids. Add oil, onions and leeks and cook until translucent but not brown, about 6 minutes.

Place 1 1/2 cups of the beans in a blender along with 2 cups of the broth and blend until smooth. Add bean puree, bay leaves, remaining 1 1/2 cups beans, bacon, chorizo, pork meat, pork bones and remaining 1 cup broth to pot and cook on medium heat, uncovered, until boiling, about 15 minutes, stirring from the bottom from time to time. Add paprika and season with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for another 20 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves and pork chop bones, then ladle into bowls and serve. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, if you like.