September 30th, 2010

  • merig00

First World War officially ends


The final payment of £59.5 million, writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.

Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.

The initial sum agreed upon for war damages in 1919 was 226 billion Reichsmarks, a sum later reduced to 132 billion, £22 billion at the time.

The bill would have been settled much earlier had Adolf Hitler not reneged on reparations during his reign.

Hatred of the settlement agreed at Versailles, which crippled Germany as it tried to shape itself into a democracy following armistice, was of significant importance in propelling the Nazis to power.

"On Sunday the last bill is due and the First World War finally, financially at least, terminates for Germany," said Bild, the country's biggest selling newspaper.

Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the 'war guilt' clause, accepting blame for the war.

France, which had been ravaged by the war, pushed hardest for the steepest possible fiscal punishment for Germany.

The principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference, John Maynard Keynes, resigned in June 1919 in protest at the scale of the demands.

"Germany will not be able to formulate correct policy if it cannot finance itself,' he warned.

When the Wall Street Crash came in 1929, the Weimar Republic spiralled into debt. Four years later, Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany.



Saving LGBTQ youth should be our top priority

As we fight for equal rights – rights to which every citizen of this nation is entitled – we should be careful not to become so engrossed in these issues that we forget where we came from, the place that shaped us into who we are and motivates us even now to defeat bigotry and hate and make this nation truly great.

It’s a reasonable argument that our collective experiences in school during our most formative years made us the fighters and advocates we are today. So many of us remember the hostility, ridicule, discrimination, and maybe even the beatings we had to endure beginning around middle school and following us throughout high school. The sort of horrors no young person should have to endure, at the hands of bigots and bullies who were our peers and teachers alike. How many times did we have to walk down the hall to threats of physical violence, while school personnel just stood by watching and listening, doing nothing to come to our aid?

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That child is surely me...
  • perthro

X-ray vans, for the safety of us all.

'Feds Radiating Americans'? Mobile X-ray Vans Hit US Streets

By Patrik Jonsson Patrik Jonsson Wed Sep 29, 7:45 pm ET

Atlanta – For many living in a terror-spooked country, it might seem like a great government innovation: Use vans equipped with mobile X-ray units to scan vehicles at major sporting events, or even randomly, for bombs or contraband.

But news that the US is buying custom-made vans packed with something called backscatter X-ray capacity has riled privacy advocates and sparked internet worries about "feds radiating Americans."

"This really trips up the creep factor because it's one of those things that you sort of intrinsically think the government shouldn't be doing," says Vermont-based privacy expert Frederick Lane, author of "American Privacy." "But, legally, the issue is the boundary between the government's legitimate security interest and privacy expectations we enjoy in our cars."

American Science & Engineering, a Billerica, Mass.-company, tells Forbes it's sold more than 500 ZBVs, or Z Backscatter Vans, to US and foreign governments. The Department of Defense has bought the most for war zone use, but US law enforcement has also deployed the vans to search for bombs inside the US, according to Joe Reiss, a company spokesman, as quoted by Forbes.

On Tuesday, a counterterror operation snarled truck traffic on I-20 near Atlanta, where Department of Homeland Security teams used mobile X-ray technology to check the contents of truck trailers. Authorities said the inspections weren't prompted by any specific threat.

Can I tell you how much I DON'T want to be an American these days? Body scanners, x-ray vans, people trying to pass laws that require you to carry documents proving that you're a legal citizen in some states- this is BS. Oh, I'm sure people will use the "if you're not doing anything illegal, you've got no reason to worry about it!" excuse. That's bullshit. This is how people get into these crazy countries that watch everything you do- they start out with some basic rights and freedoms, and let people encroach on them more and more until they have none left. If I had the means, I would leave.
  • Current Mood
' jules
  • schmiss

The barrel has no bottom

Exclusive: Ben Wetmore Explains CNN Boat Sex Prank

On Wednesday CNN reported that right-wing provocateur James O'Keefe — the fake pimp whose YouTube video cost ACORN its federal funding, and who pled guilty to entering Senator Mary Landrieu's office under false pretenses — planned to "seduce" correspondent Abbie Boudreau on "a boat filled with sexually explicit props and then record the session." Liberal blogs have condemned the stunt as "an attempted rape" motivated by "special hatred for women." (And prominent conservatives aren't pleased either.) But in an exclusive interview with The Politics Blog, O'Keefe's partner Ben Wetmore — who wrote the planning document that CNN published — says everyone needs to relax.

ESQUIRE: Broadly speaking, what's your reaction to CNN's report?

BEN WETMORE: There are things they're spinning, and there's further context they aren't adding. They know the document wasn't final. If CNN wants to write stories about every idea on my laptop, it'll keep them busy for awhile.

ESQ: But the stunt was aborted "minutes before it was supposed to happen."

BW: I wasn't there during the meeting with Boudreau, but the document was never intended as a final plan. This is a brainstorming issue, combined with an event that didn't happen, so it's all speculation about how things would've happened. Everybody expects that it would've played out just like in the initial framing.

ESQ: People are accusing you of misogyny and worse. What did you hope to achieve?

BW: It was humor. There was a joke to it — James isn't a lothario of sexual conquest at all. It was going to be awkward, not sexually aggressive. It was meant to be outlandish and ridiculous. When you dissect and sterilize a joke, it's not funny anymore — when you read the transcript of an SNL skit, you're not going to laugh, but you do when it's performed. It seems one way in print, but the video would've looked very different.

I could get very anxious about whatever the blogs are saying, but it's entertaining. It adds a little spice to life. At the end of the day, this stuff is fun.

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The outline of the prank, as obtained by CNN. "This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine". yup they had plenty of respect for her as a reporter! quit being so sensitive~
  • phookie

Goodbye, Rahm Emanuel

President Obama will give his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a send-off Friday as Mr. Emanuel officially announces his departure from the West Wing to run for mayor of Chicago, officials familiar with the decision said.

The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, at his daily briefing on Thursday afternoon said that the president will give two personnel announcements on Friday morning from the East Room of the White House. Mr. Gibbs, admitting that he was being purposely “oblique,” would not confirm whether the announcements would concern Mr. Emanuel.

The two officials, who declined to be named in advance of the official announcement, confirmed that Mr. Obama plans to name Pete Rouse, a senior adviser, to replace Mr. Emanuel. Mr. Rouse has been at the president’s side since Mr. Obama arrived in Washington nearly six years ago as a senator, serving as his chief of staff.

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Christian Theologian says the Pope was right to link atheism with Nazism.

According to John Milbank, we all ought to be shocked that Ed Miliband is an atheist, we should consider Joseph Ratzinger to be a left-wing thinker who is unappreciated because of his religion and we should consider Ratzinger to be absolutely right when he blames totalitarianism on atheism.

The Left and the politics of atheism

By John Milbank
ABC Religion and Ethics | 28 Sep 2010

Just months after the Australian Labor Party appointed its first openly atheist leader, the Labour Party in Britain has followed suit. The elevation of Ed Miliband - who, despite being rather evasive on the subject of religion, is a genuine atheist - provides an appropriate occasion to reflect on the relationship between atheism and the political Left.

For some time I have noticed a curious phenomenon amongst Left-leaning academics. This concerns exactly which Right-wing thinkers are regarded in vogue, and which others are seen as lying beyond the pale. What is strange is that this divide has nothing to do with their degree of Right-wing extremism.

To the contrary, various far-Right thinkers are virtually the darlings of many Left-wing thinkers - Nietzsche (whose Right-wing credentials have been re-affirmed by the most recent scholarship), Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, and Louis-Ferdinand Celine are the names which most spring to mind.

Contrast this with the attitude towards a more ambivalent figure like T.S. Eliot or even with that towards figures of the radical centre like G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and Joseph Ratzinger. Instead of adulation, we have derision.
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What he is basically saying is "the Pope is right. Atheists are all a bunch of Nazis".

Ed Miliband's atheism is being used as one more excuse to add to John Milbank's absurd campaign for "Red Toryism" (i.e. "I support the Tories but I'm actually really liberal donchaknow?").

And I think we all know what "moral stances" from the Pope are hated by those of us on the left and that hatred has nothing to do with atheism....

  • phookie

Iran to launch Spanish-language television channel

Iran is to reach out to Latin America with a Spanish-language television channel to explain the "ideological legitimacy" of the Islamic system.

"As half of the world's population speaks Spanish we will start a network within the next few months," Ezatollah Zarqami, the head of Iran's state television network, IRIB, announced in Tehran.

IRIB broadcasts in Arabic, English and other languages – as well as Farsi. It has repeatedly been accused of illegally jamming broadcasts into Iran it dislikes, most notably of BBC Persian TV and the Voice of America in Farsi.

"This new Spanish network will have a major role in reflecting the ideological legitimacy of our system to the world," Zarqami told prayer leaders.

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I can practice my spanish AND farsi now when I watch the hot mess that is IRIB!
  • ook

TONIGHT! DC Housewives & the Salahi Visit to the White House

The Salahis go to the White House on tonight's 'Real Housewives'

Bravo channel: 9 pm Eastern; 8 pm Central

Tonight’s episode of “The Real Housewives of D.C.” will finally show the moment we’ve all been waiting for: The night that Tareq and Michaele Salahi showed up at the White House for President Obama's first state dinner.

If you want to go into tonight’s episode completely unspoiled, then you should stop reading now. But for those of you who want the few advance tidbits the preview clips offer, here you go: For starters, even Michaele's hair stylist knew that she was headed to the White House that November evening.

“Tonight’s a really big night,” she explained as she sat in her stylist's chair. “It’s a special dinner and it’s really important, it’s confidential - and it’s the state dinner.”

Episode spoilers and source after the cut.

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What part of 'nunca más' do people not understand?

Ecuadorian President Under Siege in a Hospital by Hundreds of Police

Hundreds of police in rebellion continued a siege at a hospital this Thursday against Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, who had fought the soldiers that were protesting against a bill that would reduce profits.

The demonstrators, civilian and uniformed, launched tirades against the government outside the Police hospital in the north of the capital, where Correa is being treated after being attacked by officers in a police station where he went to try quell the uprising.

Correa denounced them from the clinic, saying that his government is the victim of an attempted coup d'etat and that police officers in rebellion were trying to enter his room, in which he was to receive medical attention.

"We want to repeal the law passed by the legislature. We will be here as long as necessary," a policeman who declined to be identified told the AFP, in the midst of a riot which broke out tear gas.

Agents, several of them in cars and motorcycles, prevented the Ecuadorian president from leaving the hospital to be transferred to the Palacio de Carondelet, the seat of the Executive.
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source 1

source 2

I've been hearing rumors about this for a while (a coup against Correa in Ecuador). Dear God I hope it doesn't succeed. Because nothing good comes from military coups in Latin America.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse


India braces for violence amid holy site verdict

India sent hundreds of thousands of troops into the streets Thursday as it braced for a potential eruption of violence ahead of a court decision on whether Hindus or Muslims should control a disputed holy site.

The conflict over the compound in the town of Ayodhya, 350 miles (550 kilometers) east of New Delhi, has sparked communal riots that killed thousands of people and challenged India's ethos as a secular, multicultural democracy.

Hoping to prevent a new round of violence when the court issues its verdict Thursday afternoon in the 60-year-old case over who rightfully controls the site, the government flooded the streets with troops.

Police arrested more than 10,000 people to prevent them from inciting violence, while another 100,000 had to sign affidavits saying they would not cause trouble after the verdict, a top official said.

Helicopters hovered over holy sites in the state as people entering temples were checked with metal detectors, police said.

"We have deployed around 200,000 security personnel at sensitive places to prevent any violence post the Ayodhya verdict," top state official Shashank Shekhar Singh said.

The 16th-century Babri Mosque in Ayodhya was razed by Hindu hard-liners in 1992, setting off nationwide riots that killed 2,000 people. Hindus say the mosque, built in 1528 by the Mughal emperor Babur, was erected at the birthplace of their god, Rama.

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Hopefully the measures India is putting into place will help keep things from getting too violent. Hopefully.

Senate Passes Bill Banning Ridiculously Loud TV Commercials


Legislation to turn down the volume on those loud TV commercials that send couch potatoes diving for their remote controls looks like it'll soon become law. The Senate unanimously passed a bill late Wednesday to require television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt.

The House has passed similar legislation. Before it can become law, minor differences between the two versions have to be worked out when Congress returns to Washington after the Nov. 2 election.

Ever since television caught on in the 1950s, the Federal Communication Commission has been getting complaints about blaring commercials. But the FCC concluded in 1984 there was no fair way to write regulations controlling the "apparent loudness" of commercials. So it hasn't been regulating them. Correcting sound levels is more complicated than using the remote control. The television shows and ads come from a variety of sources, from local businesses to syndicators.

Managing the transition between programs and ads without spoiling the artistic intent of the producers poses technical challenges and may require TV broadcasters to purchase new equipment. To address the issue, an industry organization recently produced guidelines on how to process, measure and transmit audio in a uniform way.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., requires the FCC to adopt those recommendations as regulations within a year and begin enforcing them a year later. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., is the driving force behind the bill in the House.

Its title is the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a co-sponsor, said it's time to stop the use of loud commercials to startle viewers into paying attention. "TV viewers should be able to watch their favorite programs without fear of losing their hearing when the show goes to a commercial," he said.

ONTD version of this story
Full text of the CALM Act for those who love legalese

Good riddance! That shit is so annoying!
MISC - moustache

Victim: GOP candidate needs to ‘come to Jesus’ and blast sex abuse

A victim of pedophilia is calling on a Senate candidate from Wisconsin to speak out against the Catholic church diocese where his abuse occurred.

Ron Johnson is vying for Sen. Russ Feingold's job but hit a snag Monday when video surfaced of him testifying against a bill, which was later defeated, that would have given additional rights to children who were victims of abuse by public and private organizations.

In his diary at Daily Kos, Jud Lounsbury wrote:
Johnson was there to oppose the so-call Child Victims Bill, which would have made it easier to go after child predators. Under Wisconsin current law, many children do not come forward until after the statute of limitations has expired-- this law would have made exceptions in such circumstances.

From the Green Bay Diocese Finance Council perspective, this meant that many more child victims of predator priests would come forward and that they would be forced to deal with more law suits. And more law suits mean spending more money, which Johnson and the Finance Council obviously opposed.

Usually, though, such institutions will try to kill such legislation quietly behind the scenes. Rarely do we see someone like Johnson defend such an unseemly position.

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A Republican who thinks money is more important than justice for children who have been sexually assaulted by a trusted religious official? I am shocked. Shocked!

Islamic veil ban in Dutch coalition deal

Islamic veil ban in Dutch coalition deal

From left, Geert Wilders, Mark Rutte and Maxime Verhagen in The Hague. 30 Sept 2010 

Party leaders, from left, Geert Wilders, Mark Rutte and Maxime Verhagen have reached agreement

A ban on wearing the full Islamic veil in the Netherlands will be part of the government's programme under a pact to form a coalition, party leaders say.

The Liberals and Christian Democrats have had to make concessions to anti-Islamist Geert Wilders to gain his support for their minority coalition.

The deal ends months of deadlock but still needs to be ratified by Christian Democrats in a meeting on Saturday.

The pact includes plans for budget cuts of 18bn euros ($24bn; £15bn) by 2015.

It also tightens rules on immigration and boosts the number of police officers.

"Important reforms will be carried out in the Netherlands," Liberal party leader Mark Rutte said in presenting the pact, titled Freedom and Responsibility.

"We want to give the country back to the working Dutch citizen."

The Liberal party (VVD) and the Christian Democrats (CDA) have 52 seats between them in the 150-seat parliament and propose to form a minority government. They would rely on the Freedom Party's 24 seats to pass legislation by a tiny margin.

Under the deal, VVD leader Mr Rutte would become prime minister, forming a cabinet with the CDA, led by Maxime Verhagen.

Mr Verhagen described the deal as a "very good governing agreement".

"I am convinced that it is an agreement that every Christian Democrat will be able to identify with," he said.

Marathon talks

The deal has angered some CDA MPs who do not want to work with Mr Wilders.

CDA MPs decided after marathon talks on Wednesday to leave the final decision on joining the coalition to a special conference on Saturday.

Mr Wilders is well known for his controversial far-right views.

He has campaigned to stop the "Islamisation of the Netherlands" and is due to stand trial next week on hate speech charges for allegedly insulting Islam.

The Netherlands has been run by a caretaker government since February when a coalition led by the CDA's former leader, Jan Peter Balkenende, collapsed after a row over military involvement in Afghanistan.

June's general election delivered a surge of support for the Freedom Party, which won the third biggest share of the seats.



First post, hope I tagged this right. :)