Hi there, folks! It's official. The day has come for the exodus. As announced here a couple weeks ago, Talk Politics will now be moving to DreamWidth, along with all its members, posts, comments and all activity. The new place is here:
It's been 8 and a half years since the inception of this community. Now, 102 months, 7,425 posts and more than half a million comments later, we'll be coming to our new home. Greener pastures await! And it'll all be fun'n'joy, no doubt! :)
I hope you'll re-join us there, and we'll all keep having these awesome political discussions of ours!
Hundreds of men, captured in raids against Al Qaeda extremists, have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in South Yemen, where torture and abuse is the norm and people are subjected to horrible forms of "interrogation", AP reports:
One of the most shocking examples is the so called "grilling", where the subject is strapped to a "spit" as if to be baked alive, and they are rotated over a ring of fire.
AP's investigation has documented at least 18 illegal prisons in South Yemen that are run by the UAE or allied Yemeni forces, created and trained by the UAE. The reporters are citing testimony of former inmates and their families, lawyers and human-rights activists, and Yemeni military personnel.
These prisons were concealed, inaccessible to the local government, which gets aid from the UAE in its civil war against the rebels. The secret prisons are located in military bases, ports and one airport, in private houses and even in a night-club. Some inmates were transferred by air to an UAE base at the other side of the Red Sea, in Eritrea, Yemeni minister of the interior Hussain Arab said.
One of the problems with America is that EVERYTHING is for profit. Some services like health, public schools, and prisons should be provided by the state. There is simply no other way. Trickle-down economics and the invisible hand of the infallible free market does not work here (not to mention that it's bullshit).
The US has inferior healthcare that delivers inferior health for 3 times the price of other systems. No one wants to admit it. Everyone wants to make money by exploiting the weak, sick and elderly. FOX tells the ignorant that it is great and they believe it. It is a sad spectacle.
And this extends to other spheres of social life. The US healthcare is one of the most expensive in the world, sure. So much for market efficiencies. But take a look at schools. Public schools serve crap lunches to kids because big corporations lobby hard for these contracts. So your kid's health is secondary to corporate profits. The prison system is overflowing because it pays to have lots of people in jail. It's good for business. It seems that private corporations are extremely good at billing the government insane amounts of money for the crappy services they provide. What should operate as a free market economy is lost to private networks and good old cronyism - because after all, it's just taxpayers' money!
Corporate greed cannot come before the well-being of your citizens. This will only weaken the entire society over time. It was Mahatma Ghandi who said "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members". And it's true. Because whenever the social and economic gaps in a society widen beyond a certain critical point, major upheaval follows.
But of course politicians don't care about that. As long as they keep filling their pockets, it's all birds and roses.
...And perhaps for a reason. Maybe not exactly the right reason on this instance, but the reason we all want to believe we should be freaking out for. Do bear with me.
See, LJ seemed to have stopped working for some folks yesterday - I mean, they appeared to be blocked away from their own journals and the communities they were members in. Some suspected Putin's long hand had finally moved in to silence dissenting voices, or quash constructive pluralist debate and critical thought. Because his minions must be everywhere around the networks, sniffing and listening, and reporting back to their masters whenever someone says something bad about Dear Leader and the beautiful utopian new world he's building for us all. Maybe so.
A new financial crisis may be coming up in the emerging economies that could cause much more damage than 2008 - that is what a World Bank report says after having analysed the international transactions of the central banks of most major economies.
The dark forecast mostly causes concern about fast developing markets such as China, which the experts are showing signs of over-heating. And there is also the problem of backdoor local borrowing, which helps increase debt. They remind of the situation in the US and UK just before the 2008 crisis. Now these new problems could send the whole economy into another downward spiral for a few years. The central banks may find themselves compelled to abruptly raise the interest rates to fight inflation, which would otherwise suffocate economic growth.
China's rising debt, and Trump's promise of economic protectionism are the main causes for concern. Right now, China's debt is 166% of the GDP, which is double its size from a decade ago. The debt in other countries in the Asian-Pacific region is also rising - Thailand and Hong Kong for example.
The global economy is still recovering from the global crisis and the euro crisis from 2008-2010. In both cases, the systematic problems were caused by disproportionately large debt-to-GDP ratios, and this situation looks likely to repeat soon again.
There was a recent media forum in Bonn, Germany, where the main topic was the way Russia has increased its influence in Europe through the media and the Internet. The Russian media working abroad have recently gained a lot of success in manipulating the public opinion, and not just in the former Soviet republics or the former Soviet satellites in East Europe, but also in the West. Fake news is now everywhere, and the difference from the yellow press sort of news that we all know and have learned to hate to love, it's now all being directed and focused with a purpose.
When George Marshall, Truman's secretary of state and former commander in chief of the US army visited Harvard to receive his honorary title in June 1047, the decision wasn't deemed too important by the press. The historians say his hosts at the university didn't know what he would say in his speech. But that speech marked the beginning of changes of enormous scale across post-war Europe. Within a single short paragraph, Marshall described the devastation in Europe and said it was logical that America would do whatever it takes to help restore the economic health of the world, because without a stable economy there could be no peace and stability anywhere. That day is considered the birthday of the Marshall Plan.
...So is Trump using his office to target competitors, or are the competitors just impacted by a decision that was not intended to target competitors, but increase sanctions in general?
The first would be criminal, but the second would only be political, if Trump's order was against Cuba alone and not intended to harm competition to his own business. I'm sure there will be plenty of answers for both reasons, depending on which side of the aisle you are on.
I'd say it smells more like a political move, but of course he'd have no hesitation to hurt his competitors in the meantime, either. I mean, Trump needs a win. He's been doing poorly lately and needs something. And what's better for him than to undo some stuff Obama did? Hoorah! Making America great again! His base eats that up. So this is something he can easily accomplish, move some headlines (and tweets) around, get people talking of something other than Russia. And hey, the fact that it hurts his competitors is a bonus.
So objectively I'd say he likely wasn't motivated to do this because it hurt his competitors, but he likely also just thinks of it as two birds one stone sort of thing. What say you?
When a bunch of Muslim radicals plunge a truck into a crowd of random people in a street, then start shooting at people or stabbing them with knives, that's terrorism, right?
So how come when a Christian British native plunges a truck into a crowd of random Muslim people in front of a mosque, then attacks them with a knife, that's hate crime and a revenge?
Where does this semantic difference come from? Same question about the reactions. In the former case, we hear "Let's not jump to conclusions" and "Let's not paint all Muslims with the same brush", and "This has nothing to do with Islam". But now we hear nothing of the sort, after the Finsbury Park attack?
How, who and what radicalized that father of several children who until yesterday used to just go to work, look after his family, and probably spend a couple hours with his pals in the local pub watching Premiership football on a daily basis? What caused him to go and massacre people he doesn't know, and then sit in the police van on his way to jail and smile back at the watching journalists, as if he had just won the lottery? "A job well done", he says. How's he NOT a terrorist?
Is there a double standard here, or am I perhaps just reading too much into this?
Montenegro's official joining of NATO has prompted threats of "retaliatory action" from Russia. A couple of weeks ago the former Yugoslav republic became the 29th member state. The prime minister Markovic signed the joining protocol with US deputy secretary of state Thomas Shannon. Then Markovic met with president Trump and his VP, Pence. The latter stated that all countries are free to choose their allies without interference from third countries, obviously meaning Russia.
The Kremlin's response was short to follow. They interpreted this move as hostile, and the Russians said they retained their right to take reciprocal measures, which is of course a thinly veiled threat. Their diplomats said in politics, just as in physics, any action is met with a corresponding counter-action.
Millions have been affected, and tens of thousands die every year from the so called opioid crisis in the US. Preliminary data shows that last year drug overdose has killed well over 62 thousand people in America, a 19% increase. And the problem keeps deepening. It has become the leading reason for mortality among Americans under 50 years of age, NYT reports. In comparison, car accidents have killed about 40 thousand people, now giving up the top spot in the ranking, the NSC reports as well. And this, despite the fact that 2016 was the deadliest year in terms of car accidents. (.pdf)
The number of overdose deaths has been constantly growing since the 80s, when it was under 10 thousand annually. The problem has more to do with illegal drugs than the legal sales of pain-relief drugs. For the last 3 decades, both the US and Canada have developed a mass practice of prescribing painkillers based on opioid alcaloids. This happened after fierce lobbying and advertisement campaigns from several big pharmaceutical corporations that declared "war on pain and suffering". In result, millions of people have become addicted to strong painkillers. There is now talk of an opioid crisis in North America the size of an epidemic.
Many stars have companions, including our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, a triplet system. Astronomers have long sought an explanation. Are binary and triplet star systems born that way? Did one star capture another? Do binary stars sometimes split up and become single stars? And did our sun have a twin when it was born 4.5 billion years ago? Almost certainly yes - though not an identical twin. And so did every other sunlike star in the universe, according to a new analysis by a theoretical physicist from UC Berkeley and a radio astronomer from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory at Harvard University...
Some of you may've watched last weekend's John Oliver segment about the UK elections (a major clusterfuck for Mrs May and the hard-Brexiters; but that's another long story). As ridiculous as some aspects of that election might have been, the one that sticks out for me is the inclusion of one Lord Buckethead, a mock candidate (they've got many in the UK) who ran against and eventually personally faced Mrs May.
He got 249 votes. And he had the most sensible message among them all. Which says a lot, really.
By the way, this isn't the first time Lord Buckethead had run in UK elections. Last two times were against Thatcher and Major.
So here's the thing. As many folks have migrated to Dreamwidth, we figured it's time we did too. It's time we switched places, and moved to DW. So I'm now inviting those of you who still haven't created their DW accounts to do it in the following weeks. It's a platform very similar to LJ, very intuitive to use; and the best thing is, it's got a system of direct synchronisation of your LJ accounts with your new DW ones, within a couple of clicks away. You don't need to cross-post anything, just follow a few short steps to move your entire LJ contents to DW, including posts, usericons, tags, comments, communities, friendlists, etc. Everything.
So far we've been occasionally synchronising it with LJ (manually), but starting from July 1, we'll be all posting and commenting there instead of here. The idea is to move all activity to Dreamwidth starting from the first day of July. And of course, you're all invited! :)
"Melih Gokcek said investigations needed to be carried out on a "seismic vessel" which had been in the vicinity of the Aegean coastal town of Canakkale on Monday when a small earthquake struck, the latest in a series of tremors in recent days. "No matter what they say, I'm still worried about the possibility of an artificial earthquake," he wrote on Twitter, adding that the "Gulenist Terrorist Organisation" (FETO) had planned an earthquake before."
By the way, this isn't the first time that the Ankara mayor has accused evil foreign powers in plotting earthquakes to undermine the Turkish economy. In February he said the quake in the western provinc eof Canakkale may've been organized by dark forces as well.
But yeah. Every nation deserves exactly the rulers that it gets. And this one is no exception.
I say all earthquakes should be immediately detained and declared closet Gulenists. Oh, and we could do something about those HAARP tornados while we're at it. And don't forget the chemtrails, either.
While the main question about Iraq and Syria is how to defeat the Islamic State, a miracle is being built in North Iraq, in the territories controlled by the Kurdish militia, the so called Peshmerga ("the men facing death"). The Kurds have slowly been pushing the jihadists away with arms from the US and EU, and taking control of the abandoned and ruined Suni Arab towns and villages.
The Kurds are now offering refuge to almost 2 million Syrian refugees, many of them Christians. The region of Iraqi Kurdistan has been out of effective control from Baghdad since 1991, and only the generation over 40 years of age still speak Arab.
A “take over” could mean the end of Sharia law, radical Islamic terrorism, and other religions in England, According to Communists, God does not exist. Therefore, either all religious institutions would be forced to close or register with the State. If they register, then what is preached within their walls would require pre-approval from the State, as with China and Russia. Islamic terrorists who justify their unacceptable behavior in the name of their God could be punished for exercising their religious beliefs, which could discourage future tragedies. How the Mayor of London, practicing Muslim, and Labour Party member Sadiq Khan maintains his religious and political allegiances would be interesting.from
One article is from The Economist 5-13-2017 (52). The other article is from The Economist 6-3-2017 (50-51).