November 30th, 2010


Clinton condemns leak as 'attack on international community'

The United States' top diplomat condemned Monday the secret-busting website WikiLeaks' release of hundreds of thousands of documents that detail with unusual frankness the nation's diplomatic interactions with other countries.

The illegal disclosure of secret information "puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

"This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy; it is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conventions and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity."

Soon after, a U.S. official said the State Department was halting access to its diplomatic cables as it evaluated security of its classified document system and diplomats worldwide scrambled to assess the severity of the disclosures.

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Nations band together to save tigers, eye comeback by 2022

The wild tiger population is less than 4 percent of what it was a century ago, and leaders in 13 nations are taking a stand against the poaching and habitat destruction that have decimated the majestic predators' numbers.

This time around, actions will speak louder than words, they say.

With the conclusion of a high-profile summit, attracting guests as notable as actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, governments and conservation groups pledged $327 million with the goal of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022.

The four-day International Forum on Tiger Conservation, which ended Wednesday, was billed as a last chance for the wild tiger, Its numbers have dropped from 100,000 to 3,600 over the past 100 years.

Poaching, illegal trade and habitat destruction have forced the animal to the brink of extinction, according to the Global Tiger Initiative, which estimates that wild tigers exist today in less than 7 percent of their historic range.

"I am confident that we will look back on this day as a turning point in the effort to save one of the world's best-loved animals," World Wildlife Fund Director Jim Leape said.

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Chanel #3

How Palin Flunks Feminism

How Palin Flunks Feminism
by Michelle Goldberg
November 26, 2010

The governor-turned-reality-TV-star’s new book dives into feminist history—distorting and misunderstanding it every step of the way.

In some ways, it’s a good thing that Sarah Palin calls herself a feminist. It means that, even among conservatives, women’s equality has become a normative position, the starting point for debate. It means that feminism has gone from something that the right wants to destroy to something it wants to appropriate. That’s progress, of a sort.

But reading Palin’s new book, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag, it’s clear that in order to claim feminism as her own, she’s had to radically distort its history. In a chapter on feminism that’s sure to be widely discussed, she mischaracterizes the views of nearly every historical feminist she mentions.

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Stock - Pink Sakura

Adult Picky Eaters Now Recognized as Having a Disorder

He's 63 years old, but Bob Krause admits he still eats "a 4-year-old's dream diet."

Krause likes peanut butter, crackers, grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate milk and little else. More adventurous meals look like "a plate of barf," he told LiveScience.

"If I could snap my fingers and change, I would," he said, explaining his pickiness helped ruin two marriages, limited his career options and makes most social occasions sources of stress.

Researchers think Krause could be one of thousands suffering from a previously unrecognized illness: selective eating disorder, more commonly known as very picky eating. Instead of having a couple foods they'd rather avoid, the way most of us do, people with selective eating disorder feel there are very few foods they are even capable of eating.

"People who are picky aren't doing this just to be stubborn," said eating researcher Nancy Zucker of Duke University, explaining that extremely picky eaters experience food differently than the rest of us.

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  • luomo

Tea party leader: Denying vote to those without property 'makes a lot of sense'

When critics charged that tea party groups like True the Vote may have been trying to disenfranchise voters with their aggressive tactics in the 2010 elections, the allegations were often waved off as a hysterical exaggeration.

But at least some leaders of the national tea party movement openly question the idea of widely-accessible voting rights -- even embracing a time in U.S. history when suffrage was denied to renters and others who didn't own property.

On his November 17 internet radio program, Judson Philips -- president of the Nashville-based company Tea Party Nation -- defended the original U.S. laws that allowed only the landed elite to vote, making these comments:
The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn't you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you're a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you're not a property owner, you know, I'm sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners.
Listen to an audio clip of the program here (h/t Tea Party Nationalism website)

Currently, one-third of U.S. residents do not own their homes and would presumably be denied the franchise under such a system.

But Phillips' discussion of changes to the U.S. Constitution didn't stop there. Also on the program was David DeGerolamo, a North Carolina tea party leader and founder of NC Freedom, a state-wide tea party umbrella group.

DeGerolamo went even further on the program, calling for complete repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment -- a broad-ranging amendment which outlines basic rights of citizenship, due process and equal protection.

Here's a transcript of the discussion between Philips and DeGerolamo:

Judson Phillips: "Of course, when people talk, three Amendments that really are the only ones that seriously get talked about getting repealed: the 16th Amendment, for the income tax, and we can only hope that happens; the 17th Amendment for having the appointment of Senators got back to state legislatures; and the 26th Amendment, I believe it is. Do you know which one that is, David?"

David DeGerolamo: "No, but I know which one I want repealed."

Judson Phillips: "Which one is that?"

David DeGerolamo: "I want the 14th Amendment repealed."

Judson Phillips: "At least modified, but yeah..."

Listen to the audio here.

Even Phillips appeared to be caught off-guard by DeGerolamo's statement, which goes beyond the demands of some Republicans to modify the 14th amendment's granting of so-called "birthright citizenship" to anyone born on U.S. soil.

But DeGerolamo's statement is in line with a far-right school of thought that opposes all "Reconstruction Amendments" -- those added to the U.S. Constitution after freed African-Americans were able to hold leadership roles in government after the Civil War.

As the Tea Party Nationalism website documents, DeGerolamo's group NC Freedom has previously promoted the idea that such laws are invalid:
NC Freedom publicized a series of seminars conducted by a group calling itself the North-Carolina American Republic. These workshops, entitled "Restore our Republics," promoted the notion that individuals can declare themselves citizens of the North-Carolina Republic--the "real government" that was taken away by the Reconstruction Acts after the Civil War.
In North Carolina, groups like Americans for Prosperity -- backed by conservative millionaire Art Pope -- have coordinated tea party events with DeGerolamo and NC Freedom.

source is the institute for southern studies.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

NJ must pay $271M to feds for killing tunnel to NY

NJ must pay $271M to feds for killing tunnel to NY

New Jersey owes the federal government more than $271 million after canceling a rail tunnel connecting the state with New York, according to a debt notice obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

The letter from the Federal Transit Administration's chief financial officer to NJ Transit's executive director demands payment of $271,101,291 by Dec. 24.

It's money the government wants New Jersey to repay for work done on the Hudson River tunnel before Republican Gov. Chris Christie terminated the project. The notification follows a warning letter earlier this month estimating the charges.

"FTA demands payment in full within 30 days from the date of this letter, hereinafter referred to as the 'delinquency date,'" the letter states. The letter was dated Nov. 24.

NJ Transit Executive Director Jim Weinstein said earlier this month that the state hadn't determined if it would have to pay any money back.

NJ Transit, which had been running the project, has the right to request a review of the charges and to dispute all or part of the debt. However, if the state does nothing and allows the debt to become delinquent, it could be assessed interest and penalties.

Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak would not say Monday whether the charges would be paid in full or disputed or where New Jersey would get the money if it decided to repay the government or was found liable for all or part of the bill.

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Oohh, dis gon' be good.
Mail Mail

'Don't ask, don't tell' report: Little risk to enlisting gays

The Pentagon's long-awaited report on gays in the military concludes that repealing the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" law would present only a low risk to the armed forces' ability to carry out their mission, and that 70 percent of service members believe it would have little or no effect on their units, according to sources briefed on the report's findings.

According to a survey sent to 400,000 service members, 69 percent of those responding reported that they had served with someone in their unit who they believed to be gay or lesbian. Of those who did, 92 percent stated that their unit's ability to work together was very good, good, or neither good nor poor, according to the sources.

Combat units reported similar responses, with 89 percent of Army combat units and 84 percent of Marine combat units saying they had good or neutral experiences working with gays and lesbians.

At the same time, the report found that 30 percent of those surveyed overall -- and between 40 and 60 percent of the Marine Corps -- either expressed concern or predicted a negative reaction if Congress were to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law, which allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military on the condition that they keep their sexuality a secret.

The Washington Post first reported this month on details of a draft copy of the report.

The Defense Department will formally release the report about 2:30 p.m. ET today, but officials are briefing lawmakers and other stakeholders on the findings in advance. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and the report's co-authors, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham will brief reporters later today. The quartet will testify Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Johnson and Ham concluded that repeal could bring about some limited and isolated disruptions in the short term, but expressed confidence that the Defense Department could adjust and accommodate changes in the long term, according to the sources.

The U.S. Senate is awaiting publication of the study before moving forward on a defense policy bill that includes language ending "don't ask, don't tell." At least 10 moderate senators have said they will wait to read the report before determining how to vote.

The report's release caps nine months of research by Johnson, Ham and a 66-member team that met with more than 40 groups representing gay and lesbian troops, gay veterans, military spouses and the same-sex partners of closeted gay troops.


You knew this was coming.

Celebrating Secession Without the Slaves
Published: November 29, 2010

ATLANTA — The Civil War, the most wrenching and bloody episode in American history, may not seem like much of a cause for celebration, especially in the South.

And yet, as the 150th anniversary of the four-year conflict gets under way, some groups in the old Confederacy are planning at least a certain amount of hoopla, chiefly around the glory days of secession, when 11 states declared their sovereignty under a banner of states’ rights and broke from the union.

The events include a “secession ball” in the former slave port of Charleston (“a joyous night of music, dancing, food and drink,” says the invitation), which will be replicated on a smaller scale in other cities. A parade is being planned in Montgomery, Ala., along with a mock swearing-in of Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy.

In addition, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and some of its local chapters are preparing various television commercials that they hope to show next year. “All we wanted was to be left alone to govern ourselves,” says one ad from the group’s Georgia Division.

That some — even now — are honoring secession, with barely a nod to the role of slavery, underscores how divisive a topic the war remains, with Americans continuing to debate its causes, its meaning and its legacy.

“We in the South, who have been kicked around for an awfully long time and are accused of being racist, we would just like the truth to be known,” said Michael Givens, commander-in-chief of the Sons, explaining the reason for the television ads. While there were many causes of the war, he said, “our people were only fighting to protect themselves from an invasion and for their independence.”

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Holy shit, US bbs, it's been 150 years since the Civil War started. CLEARLY THE WAY TO OBSERVE IT IS TO CELEBRATE THE ~*~PLANTATION LIFESTYLE~*~ AMIRITE. I fucking hate this shit. And as much as I dislike how Civil War education up here in the North tends to act like the North was totally a bunch of magical progressive abolitionists (lol no, also lol abolitionism's own racist undercurrents), this doesn't change the fact that why yes, the Civil War did start because of slavery. It only really happened the way it did because of a lot of rhetoric about preserving the Union and all that obnoxiousness (have I mentioned how I totally hate Abe Lincoln?), but the states that seceded did not secede because of some ambiguous ~states' rights~, no matter how steeped in Jeffersonian agrarianism the concept of states' rights may be; the very agrarianism that these states thrived upon was founded, built, and developed over the blood and bodies of slaves, and nothing is going to change that, no matter how much you whitewash it. I'm going to stop this rant here and save the rest for my own journal, probably...

In before Southbashing and general wank: please, for the love of cake, can we not conflate a proportion of Southerners with the entire Southern population, and can we not act like the South is the only part of the US with widespread racism? The South has people who romanticize and glamorize its past, but even that isn't an exclusively Southern phenomenon. As a lifelong white New Englander, I routinely observe racism on the part of my white peers up here, and I've been friends (shudder) with many an overt or covert slavery apologist.

Boehner's Staff Pals Around With Anti-Choice Terrorists

Randall Terry to abortion providers: "When I, or people like me, are running the country, you'd better flee, because we will find you, we'll try you, and we will execute you." And he just met with Speaker Boehner's senior staff.

In the 1995 speech where he threatened to execute doctors and clinic escorts, the radical anti-choice activist Terry also said, "If we're going to have true reformation in America, it is because men once again, if I may use a worn out expression, have righteous testosterone flowing through their veins."

Luckily for Terry, Boehner isn't just anti-choice; he also has a cohort of staff and allies that's been dubbed "Boehner's Boys" by EMILY's List. That's why Terry isn't just outside protesting anymore — he's getting a seat at the table, with a meeting with John Boehner's chief of staff right after the elections earlier this month.

NARAL issued a statement saying in part, "The Randall Terry meeting signifies that, when it comes to listening to the most extreme elements of the anti-choice movement, Boehner is all ears."

Right. And anyone who cares about protecting choice should also be listening to the messages Boehner himself is sending — and add their own to the clamor.

aurora // once upon a time

WikiLeaks just made the world more repressive

I am an aid worker, the kind who rants about transparency, open governments and reforming the United Nations. But, I used to be a diplomat and I used to write secret cables, like the ones being released by WikiLeaks. And I said some very frank and nasty things in those cables.

Why? I was posted to Jakarta. My job was to find out as much as I could about the human rights abuses being committed by the Indonesian military, and to help apply whatever pressure we could to make them stop. I wrote cables back to Ottawa that would raise the hair on the back of your neck, describing abuses that still make me sick years later. These cables gave the Canadian government the ammunition it needed to lean heavily on the Indonesian leadership at the UN and at summits like APEC.

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OUaT - Snow caught

Netflix Partner Says Comcast ‘Toll’ Threatens Online Video Delivery

Or, Why Net Neutrality is Important

Level 3 Communications, a central partner in the Netflix online movie service, accused Comcast on Monday of charging a new fee that puts Internet video companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Level 3, which helps to deliver Netflix’s streaming movies, said Comcast had effectively erected a tollbooth that “threatens the open Internet,” and indicated that it would seek government intervention. Comcast quickly denied that the clash had anything to do with network neutrality, instead calling it “a simple commercial dispute.”

The dispute highlighted the growing importance of Internet video delivery — an area that some people say needs to be monitored more closely by regulators. Net neutrality, which posits that Internet traffic should be free of any interference from network operators like Comcast, is thought to be on the December agenda of the Federal Communications Commission.

“With this action, Comcast demonstrates the risk of a ‘closed’ Internet, where a retail broadband Internet access provider decides whether and how their subscribers interact with content,” Thomas C. Stortz, the chief legal officer for Level 3, said in a statement Monday.

Those issues cut to the heart of Comcast’s imminent acquisition of NBC Universal, which is in the final stages of review by the F.C.C. and the Justice Department. The F.C.C. is considering attaching a condition to the merger that would aim to keep Comcast’s Internet network open to competitors, according to public filings this month.

In theory, without government action, Comcast could speed up streams of NBC programs and slow down streams of its rivals’ programs. “This may be one of those teaching moments for consumers to understand what’s at stake,” said Michael McGuire, a media analyst for Gartner.

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Here's another petition to the FCC to block what Comcast is doing and to support Net Neutrality. I'm sure Teddy Roosevelt is rolling over in his grave about now.
[Other] Bill Hader

more food news

Senate Passes $1.4 billion Food Safety Act 73-25

By Chris Moody - The Daily Caller - 11/30/2010

The Senate today approved the Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill that expands the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to regulate the quality of food and expand the agency’s powers to inspect food production facilities.

Among the provisions within the $1.4 billion measure, the bill mandates that the FDA inspect high-risk food facilities once every three years and gives the government a new power to force companies to conduct a recall if products are determined to be unsafe.

The bill was passed by a vote of 73-25 with an amendment that provides an exemption for small farms and facilities that earn less than $500,000 per year.

The House passed a version of the bill over the summer, but the Senate waited until now to address the bill, which is backed by large food makers, corporate farms and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s widely supported by both the business sector and the consumer groups,” said Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. “This is the product of a long effort to reach the compromises needed to get good legislation through.”

The Senate also shot down two amendments submitted by Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, which would have imposed a three-year ban on certain earmarks and scrapped the Food Safety Bill that ultimately passed with a different measure that includes less regulation.

“It has fatal flaws,” Coburn said of the bill on the Senate floor before the vote. “The problem with food safety is that the agencies don’t do what their supposed to be doing now. They don’t need more regulations, they need less.”

Read more:

A friend of mine who works in the food industry is furious right now, especially towards the 13 Republicans who voted for it. Not only because of the increased cost for the government to inspect all food (costing taxpayers money), but because it will increases costs for the companies who produce food (and thus increase costs for consumers). Big food corporations are in support of this because they can handle the increased costs and know it'll be a big hit to their smaller competitors, especially with large fines (a million dollars?) depending on what violation can be found, and some violations can be kind of bogus. (He also mentioned that without another bill or some kind of change written for them, farmers markets may be in danger as well.)
Your thoughts, ontd_p?

Here's what I found describine the bill further:
LotR - Legolas

If you watch Harry Potter backwards it’s about a young wizard who gets sent into witness protection

Harry Potter and the Incredibly Conservative Aristocratic Children's Club

The richly imaginative details of J.K. Rowling’s fictive world, it must be admitted, are pleasurable. The hot-rod brooms, the flowing robes and flying cars, the goth Heaven of the sullen Slytherins, the snake language and the magic wands enclosing phoenix feathers or unicorn hairs, the metamorphic potions, the leaping or fizzing sweets! All these have been fully and lovingly realized in the Warner Brothers movie adaptations of the Harry Potter books, including the most recent, which is a fine-looking but completely incoherent mess with a morally bankrupt and politically repugnant story at its core.

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Magical sauce.

I do love me some Harry Potter (though god knows why after the last book) and I do not agree with every single thing this author has to gripe about, but it does raise some important points. For example, as I sat through Deathly Hallows for the third damn time, I suddenly realized that the reason I don't care about Harry is because he's a straight white upper-class cis man who gets everything handed to him by a gay man and a woman, then takes all the credit. wtf is that?

I hope we can have a real discussion about some deep litarary shit or something instead of just stanning and reminding me that we can't have nice things.

If not, gifs work too. Spoiler alert.
Mermaid - Jan Pienkowski
  • debitha

Lib Dem activists target Nick Clegg over tuition fees

More than 100 Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates have called on leader Nick Clegg to oppose government plans to raise tuition fees in England.

The 104 activists, who did not win seats in the last election, want all 57 Lib Dem MPs to vote against plans to allow fees of up to £9,000 a year.

They say the party's integrity is at risk and warn it could face many years "back in the political wilderness".

But Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams said such warnings were "completely absurd".

The coalition deal allows Lib Dem MPs to abstain in a vote on tuition fees, expected to take place before the end of the year, although Lib Dem ministers in the coalition government could come under pressure to back the proposals.

'Unconditional pledge'

The election candidates' petition, hosted on Lib Dem candidate Derek Deedman's website, said: "During the general election campaign many of our MPs (and now government ministers) signed a pledge with the National Union of Students that they would vote against any tuition fee rises during the course of the next Parliament.

"The wording of this pledge clearly indicated that this would be unconditional; regardless of whether the party was in government or in opposition.

"The party has been very clear for many years about its view on tuition fees and that we feel they should be abolished."

The former candidates say they are not rebelling but want the Lib Dems to stick to their pre-election pledge on the issue.

"There is one thing that sets the Liberal Democrats apart from other political parties; this is that when we say we will do something during election campaigns we then do it in government," they state.

The petition was devised by 19-year-old student Craig Bichard, a member of Arundel & South Downs Liberal Democrats, and supported by Mr Deedman, parliamentary candidate for the constituency, who lost out to Conservative policing minister Nick Herbert.

'Strength of feeling'

A former MP who signed the petition said Lib Dem members of Parliament should not be forced to vote for policies which were "clearly not their own".

"I think it is important that the parliamentary party knows the strength of feeling in the party, as a whole, that we should keep to what is the policy of the party as decided in various conferences - namely that we should abolish tuition fees," David Rendel told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

Conservative higher education minister David Willetts has said he is "confident" his Lib Dem cabinet colleague, Business Secretary Vince Cable, would back the measure in a Commons vote.

Mr Cable is expected to speak on Monday evening to the petition co-ordinators to explain why he believes the proposals will make the higher education system in England more fair.

Mr Clegg has said last he "massively regrets" that he cannot deliver on his election promise but has argued the proposals are fairer than the current system as the level at which graduates will start to repay money will rise to £21,000 and additional support for the poorest students.

The BBC's deputy political editor James Landale said the Lib Dem leader had spent recent days talking to his MPs individually to try to persuade them to abstain rather than vote against the rise in fees.


Stephen Williams, a former Lib Dem higher education spokesman, said that while the Lib Dems were not able to deliver on some of their manifesto commitments, the tuition fees package included policies - such as a fairer deal for part-time students - that they had campaigned for.

"To say that we are not implementing some of our policies is simply wrong," he told the World at One.

As there was no "rule book" for coalition politics, he said Lib Dems should be given leeway in parliamentary votes on issues where they had distinctive policies.

"It would be a constitutional novelty but I do not see why Lib Dem ministers should not be able to abstain on this particular issue," he told

The proposals have angered students and led to mass demonstrations around the country, with another day of action due on Tuesday.

Last Wednesday, there were 35 arrests and seven injuries to police officers as an initially peaceful anti-fees rise protest in Whitehall flared into violence.

BBC Sauce

OP: Looks like power might have gone to Mr Williams' head. It's a shame that the individuals who are protesting aren't the ones who can actually vote, but at least someone's calling bullshit.
movies | Impish Fräulein2

Mod Note: Missing Person Alert (info via hinoema).

"My boss (I'm at work posting, as usual) has gone missing. No one knows where he is or what happened, and his wife and father are combing the area. The authorities have been alerted.

Here are the facts:
Area: Green Valley, Arizona, south of Tucson.

PersonBill Bark. Mid 30's, six footer, stocky, blond buzz cut. Last seen about 4pm [on November 29, 2010] at the green Valley Post office and the Bank of the West next to the Duvall Mine Road Safeway store. He was depositing cash from the safe and mailing letters. His vehicle is missing, as well.

Contact with info: [hinoema], email hinoema[at]

[...] Any help would be appreciated, since I know we have several Arizona members."

mus | like a bird in a cage

Views changed since Latimer convicted

Advocacy groups say public attitudes about Robert Latimer have slowly changed since he killed his severely disabled daughter Tracy in 1993.

Latimer has been granted full parole after serving a sentence for second-degree murder in her death and will be home in next week.

Laurie Beachell of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities said Tuesday that groups such as his were shocked during Latimer's trial by opinion surveys that suggested most Canadians were sympathetic to the Saskatchewan farmer.

"We were surprised at how the Canadian public in this case somehow saw Robert Latimer as the victim, rather than Tracy," Beachell said from Winnipeg. "I think there has been some change, but the debate isn't over by any means."

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You Don't Mess with the Internet!

The domain seizures by the United States authorities in recent days and upcoming legislation that could make similar takeovers even easier in the future, have inspired a group of enthusiasts to come up with a new, decentralized and BitTorrent-powered DNS system. This system will exchange DNS information through peer-to-peer transfers and will work with a new .p2p domain extension.

In a direct response to the domain seizures by US authorities during the last few days, a group of established enthusiasts have started working on a DNS system that can’t be touched by any governmental institution.

Ironically, considering the seizure of the Torrent-Finder meta-search engine domain, the new DNS system will be partly powered by BitTorrent.Collapse )

  • merig00

Iran outraged as Star of David revealed on airport

A satellite image of Tehran airport taken by Google Earth service outraged Iranian government officials as the Star of David appeared on the roof of the headquarters of the national carrier Iran Air.

The Iranian became angry when local media reported Saturday the discovery of a Google Earth image that shows the Star of David on top of the main building of the Airline of the Islamic Republic of Iran, also known as Iran Air, and called for its instant removal, the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday.

As speculations rose about the presence of the Zionist symbol in the Islamic republic that has severed all ties with Israel since the 1979 revolution, Iranian media explained that the Iran Air building was, in fact, constructed by Israeli engineers during the time of Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi.

Amid calls for removing the symbol, several local media reports focused on the close ties that existed between Israel and the pre-revolution government.

According to the reports, not only did the government of the Shah hire Israeli engineers to build the headquarters of the national airliner, but starting 1960 regular flights were scheduled between Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport and Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.

The reports added that Israel also sold weapons to the army of the Shah in return for oil and that there were training programs between both countries where Israeli experts trained Iranians in agriculture and trade.

This is not the first time that the Star of David stirs outrage in Iran, as it was spotted in August on top of one of the buildings in Tehran’s Revolution Square. The square itself had hundreds of Stars of David, in what local media viewed as a symbol of evil trying to destroy the heart of the Islamic republic.

The presence of such a large number of stars stirred confusion amongst Iranians as the media wondered what made the person who designed the square draw the symbol of the Hebrew state.

An article in a local news website raised the question of whether the designer was ignorant of the symbol altogether or was too indifferent to think of its political associations.

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

N. Korea, China, and wikileaks

Signs of diplomacy in NKorea crisis

A supercarrier sent jets into overcast skies Tuesday in U.S.-South Korean military drills that North Korea warned could spark war, but signs of diplomacy emerged alongside the tensions over last week's deadly North Korean attack.

The North's only major ally, China, hosted a top North Korean official for talks, and Japan also planned to send an envoy to China. The U.S., South Korea and Japan agreed to talk next week in Washington about the North's nuclear weapons and its Nov. 23 artillery barrage that killed four South Koreans.

It was unclear if the Beijing visit by North Korea's Choe Thae Bok, chairman of the North's Parliament, would lead to any diplomatic solution. China, under pressure to rein in its ally, proposed emergency regional talks earlier this week, but South Korea, the United States and Japan gave a cool response.

Even as diplomats scrambled, leaked U.S. diplomatic cables revealed signs of a rift in the relationship between China and North Korea, a striking contrast from official statements underscoring their strong historical ties.

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China knows less about NKorea than thought: leaks

China knows less about and has less influence over its close ally North Korea than is usually presumed and is likely to eventually accept a reunified peninsula under South Korean rule, according to U.S. diplomatic files leaked to the WikiLeaks website.

The memos — called cables, though they were mostly encrypted e-mails — paint a picture of three countries struggling to understand an isolated, hard-line regime in the face of a dearth of information and indicate American and South Korean diplomats' reliance on China's analysis and interpretation.

The release of the documents, which included discussions of contingency plans for the regime's collapse and speculation about when that might come, follows new tensions in the region. North Korea unleashed a fiery artillery barrage on a South Korean island that killed four people a week ago and has since warned that joint U.S.-South Korean naval drills this week are pushing the peninsula to the "brink of war."

The shelling comes on the heels of a slew of other provocative acts: An illegal nuclear test and several missile tests, the torpedoing of a South Korean warship and, most recently, an announcement that in addition to its plutonium program, it may also be pursuing the uranium path to a nuclear bomb.

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I think, given the current situation happening with the Koreas, that it was kind of irresponsible of wikileaks to release the info of China's OK with a unified Korea under S. Korea leadership now. I winced when I read about that, because, yeah, NOT THE BEST TIME. A month or so from now and it'd wouldn't be near the potential to fuck things up as it has now, namely because, if this really is Kim Jong-un trying to make a name for himself, this is not the best time to feed to the paranoia that everyone is Against North Korea (especially the expectations that the regime will collapse within 3 years of Jong-un taking over) or to cause a loss of face. N. Korea reacts to everything negative with bravado and firing missiles at shit, and now is so not a good time for that, not with S. Korea in a rage.