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  • Remember that time we went to war in Afghanistan? Yeah, well, apparently that's sort of over now, technically speaking. On Sunday, President Obama issued a statement declaring that We Won Woo Hoo! -- or, more accurately, we've concluded our "combat mission." We've come to understand this means we've won the war enough that we can share a collective celebratory high five, but we reserve the right to un-win the war, just in case it doesn't stick. Because that's how the U.S. of A rolls now.

    Today's ceremony in Kabul marks a milestone for our country. For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan. Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.

    On this day we give thanks to our troops and intelligence personnel who have been relentless against the terrorists responsible for 9/11--devastating the core al Qaeda leadership, delivering justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupting terrorist plots and saving countless American lives. We are safer, and our nation is more secure, because of their service. At the same time, our courageous military and diplomatic personnel in Afghanistan--along with our NATO allies and coalition partners--have helped the Afghan people reclaim their communities, take the lead for their own security, hold historic elections and complete the first democratic transfer of power in their country's history.

    We honor the profound sacrifices that have made this progress possible. We salute every American--military and civilian, including our dedicated diplomats and development workers--who have served in Afghanistan, many on multiple tours, just as their families have sacrificed at home. We pledge to give our many wounded warriors, with wounds seen and unseen, the world-class care and treatment they have earned. Most of all, we remember the more than 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, and we pledge to stand with their Gold Star families who need the everlasting love and support of a grateful nation.

    Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and the Afghan people and their security forces continue to make tremendous sacrifices in defense of their country. At the invitation of the Afghan government, and to preserve the gains we have made together, the United States--along with our allies and partners--will maintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda. Our personnel will continue to face risks, but this reflects the enduring commitment of the United States to the Afghan people and to a united, secure and sovereign Afghanistan that is never again used as a source of attacks against our nation.

    These past 13 years have tested our nation and our military. But compared to the nearly 180,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan when I took office, we now have fewer than 15,000 in those countries. Some 90 percent of our troops are home. Our military remains the finest in the world, and we will remain vigilant against terrorist attacks and in defense of the freedoms and values we hold dear. And with growing prosperity here at home, we enter a new year with new confidence, indebted to our fellow Americans in uniform who keep us safe and free.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell may be literally, biologically a tortoise, but we're pretty sure he can't do this:

    As part of an ongoing attempt to develop underwater robots capable of thinking on their own, engineers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have created a mechanical turtle capable of performing complicated tasks such as surveillance and energy harvesting.

  • When Ta-Nehisi Coates writes a thing, you should probably definitely read it:

    It was only a matter of time before some criminal shot a police officer in New York. If that's all it takes to turn Americans away from police reform, the efforts were likely doomed from the start. [...]

    To challenge the police is to challenge the American people, and the problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that we are majoritarian pigs. When the police are brutalized by people, we are outraged because we are brutalized. By the same turn, when the police brutalize people, we are forgiving because ultimately we are really just forgiving ourselves. Power, decoupled from responsibility, is what we seek. The manifestation of this desire is broad. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani responded to the killing of Michael Brown by labeling it a "significant exception" and wondering why weren't talking about "black on black crime." Giuliani was not out on a limb. The charge of insufficient outrage over "black on black crime" has been endorsed, at varying points, by everyone from the NAACP to Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson to Giuliani's archenemy Al Sharpton.

  • California is getting almost a thousand new laws this week:

    In all, California will add 930 new laws, most of which will go into effect Thursday. Some of the most talked-about laws won’t take effect until July, such as a statewide ban on plastic bags, required sick leave for employees and a requirement that new smartphones come with antitheft technology. [...]

    More than a million driver’s license applications from people living in the U.S. without documentation are expected under a law that passed in 2013, but goes into effect Jan. 1. [...]

    Revenge will come at a price for those who post private naked photos or videos of someone without his or her consent. The new law extends privacy protections to all individuals who take nude “selfies” intended to be private. [...]

    Birth certificates will receive a makeover in California to accommodate same-sex couples. Instead of being able to select only mother or father when identifying a parent, birth certificates will include “parent” as an option.

    And about 927 others.

  • In case you missed it, our friends at Happy Nice Time People caught it for you: “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” read by Ron Freakin’ Swanson:
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