Put down the dreidel and step away from the latkes. It’s time to read about the mercenary surge in Afghanistan, Sarah Palin the Terminator, why your boss is incompetent and much more.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

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The Real Surge in Afghanistan: Mercenaries [Excuse Me, Contractors]

At present, there are 104,000 Department of Defense contractors in Afghanistan. According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, as a result of the coming surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, there may be up to 56,000 additional contractors deployed.

18 Percent of Young Americans Are Latinos Two-thirds of young Latinos are now U.S.-born, a shift from 14 years ago when nearly half were immigrants and a portent of an increasingly Latino U.S. society, a new study finds.

Obama’s Foreclosure Modification Program a Big Bust Ten months after the Obama administration began pressing lenders to do more to prevent foreclosures, many struggling homeowners are holding up their end of the bargain but still find themselves rejected, and some are even having their homes sold out from under them without notice.

Doom and Gloom As world leaders return from Copenhagen without an agreement that will protect the Earth’s atmosphere from devastating climate change, we ordinary people are forced to confront not only what we think, but also what we feel.

Earth, Too Big to Fail? It’s clear now that, from her immovable titanium bangs to her chaotic approximation of human speech, Sarah Palin is a Terminator cyborg sent from the future to destroy something — but what?

In Praise of Dr. Watson “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive,” says Sherlock Holmes on first meeting John Watson in ‘A Study in Scarlet.’

Handwriting Is History Writing words by hand is a technology that’s just too slow for our times, and our minds.

Why Your Boss Is Incompetent In this season of good will, spare a thought for that much-maligned bunch, the men and women at the top of the management tree.

Candidate Flip, President Flop Obama crushes a medication policy he’d vowed to endorse. Such bogus election-year promises undermine democracy.

You Are Under Arrest for Participating in an Illegal Algorithm What’s the difference between a suicide bomber and a cleaner? It sounds like the opening line of a sick joke, but for computer scientists working on intelligent video-surveillance software, being able to make that distinction is a key goal.

Annals of Theocracy, Israeli Division After urging restoration of “past glory,” justice minister claims his statements didn’t imply replacement of state laws with halachic ones. Meretz says Ne’eman’s vision, proclaimed before rabbis, is “disgusting” and reflects “talibanization.”

CIA Working With Palestinian security Agents U.S. agency cooperating with Palestinian counterparts who allegedly torture Hamas supporters in West Bank.

From Blight to Masterpiece: Artists Transform Detroit’s Abandoned Homes Houses with dreary urban facades covered in polka dots. A traveling dollhouse made from the remnants of abandoned homes. A dilapidated residence covered in ice.

When China Rules the World China will soon become “the most powerful and influential country in the world,” says celebrated journalist Martin Jacques. It is predicted that by 2050, China’s economy will be twice that of the United States. What will Beijing do with all that power and influence?


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