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Valar Qringaomis

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Links - 18th April 2016

Why I Haven’t Felt The Bern - NYTimes.com - "What you see, on this as on multiple issues, is the casual adoption, with no visible effort to check the premises, of a story line that sounds good. It’s all about the big banks; single-payer is there for the taking if only we want it; government spending will yield huge payoffs — not the more modest payoffs conventional Keynesian analysis suggests; Republican support will vanish if we take on corporate media. In each case the story runs into big trouble if you do a bit of homework; if not completely wrong, it needs a lot of qualification. But the all-purpose response to anyone who raises questions is that she or he is a member of the establishment, personally corrupt, etc.. Ad hominem attacks aren’t a final line of defense, they’re argument #1. I know some people think that I’m obsessing over trivial policy details, but they’re missing the point. It’s about an attitude, the sense that righteousness excuses you from the need for hard thinking and that any questioning of the righteous is treason to the cause. When you see Sanders supporters going over the top about “corporate whores” and such, you’re not seeing a mysterious intrusion of bad behavior into an idealistic movement; you’re seeing the intolerance that was always just under the surface of the movement, right from the start."

This tech company is giving its employees a half-day vacation so they can sleep-in after 'Game of Thrones'

Russia's Putin admits Panama Papers accurate, blames US - "Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday (April 14) acknowledged the accuracy of the Panama Papers revelations, but claimed funds had been spent on musical instruments as he blamed the leak on the United States."

Sanders Under Fire for Supporter's 'Whores' Remarks - "It's hardly the first time a speaker at a Sanders event have created distractions. Actors Tim Robbins, Rosario Dawson, and Susan Sarandon have all been sources of controversy that threaten to overshadow Sanders' events"

Guatemala's new leader Jimmy Morales has the last laugh - ""Lots of people started to believe that politics was not synonymous with corruption."... "When you run on the notion and only on the notion that you are not a thief, that tells you a lot about the state of the political system," says Kevin Casas Zamora of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington DC. "One should expect much more than that from the leaders in a normal democracy - not just not being a thief" ... not all of Mr Morales' jokes have been successful. One episode of Moralejas that sticks in many people's minds is when he performed in blackface, triggering accusations of racism."

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, The Comedian President - "If you ever go and visit Vladimir Barabanov, you'll know by the graffiti that you've come to the right address. 'Barabanov is a traitor to his country and his people'. These words are spray painted all over the lobby of his apartment block. As you climb the stairs, there are more messages on the walls, more phrases full of bile. 'Barabanov has sold out to the American fascists', 'Barabanov has betrayed Russia'. Not that Vladimir views himself as a traitor. Quite the opposite. Russia used to call him a hero. Vladimir is one of more than 600,000 Soviet soldiers who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s. That war proved disastrous for the USSR. More than 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed. But when Moscow pulled out the troops, it praised its soldiers for having done what Communism called their Internationalist Duty. Back home in Bryansk , Vladimir became Chairman of the local Afghan War Veterans association helping those who survived the conflict to get housing and healthcare, and the other social benefits they were due. When we came home, Vladimir tells me, the authorities told us they'd learned their lesson. They promised there would never be a second Afghanistan. That this would be the very last war Russia would start. They made a deal with us. And then they broke it. By the 1990s, an independent Russia was using its army against its own citizens, to crush the separatist movement in Chechnya. The Chechen war, Vladimir says, showed how little human life was now worth. In that conflict, tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, Chechen fighters and civilians were killed. More recently, Vladimir criticised Russia's involvement in Eastern Ukraine, condemning the authorities for sending troops and weapons over the border in support of pro-Russia rebels. Last year he and some of his colleagues from the Afghan Veterans' association took to the streets to protest. They held placards with simple messages: 'Stop the War. Don't make Ukraine a second Afghanistan'. Despite all the evidence pointing to Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine, Moscow denies it's been fueling and funding a war across the border. It was after this tiny protest that the graffiti appeared in Vladimir's
block of flats. He received abusive phone calls too, accusing him of treachery. But Vladimir refuses to stay silent. He says he owes it to the victims of the Afghan War to speak his mind"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Donald Trump 2.0 - "I can still recite whole passages of John Major's stump speech [when he lost to Tony Blair], I heard it so often. Donald Trump has stump ideas. It's an anagram of a speech, with words, ideas, bits of sentence, syntax and grammar having been put into the equivalent of the green Scrabble bag, shaken vigorously and thrown onto the board... One told me he hated the Democrats and hated the Republicans and loved Trump, because he was the 'screw all of you' candidate... he is their champion. A billionaire who grew up moneyed and privileged. The hero of the downtrodden...
Tens of thousands of Qadri supporters had made their way to the park in a vast gathering. Qadri's body looked as though it was floating on a sea of people, with rose petals thrown from all directions. If you'd just arrived in Pakistan that day and didn't know who Mumtaz Qadri was, you could be forgiven for thinking he was a national hero. The banners at the rally certainly described him that way. One said: 'Mumtaz Qadri, we salute you for your bravery'. Young men carried cards on their chests saying 'We are all Mumtaz Qadri'. But Mumtaz Qadri was in fact police guard turned assassin and the funeral was held after he was hanged 5 years after killing Punjab governor Salman Taseer, the man he was supposed to protect. Mr Taseer had spoken out against the country's controversial blasphemy law... Blasphemy is a capital crime in Pakistan. But the law fails to explain exactly what constitutes blasphemy. Those who are accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed or any members of his family, or desecrating the Koran could face the death penalty. But most of the time people take the law into their own hands. A mere accusation with no evidence or proper investigation can put someone's life and their family's into danger...
Timber people from Thailand are chopping down our teak forests and and China is taking away our jade... They are the new colonialists, and the military and its rich business friends get lots of money from them... Myanmar is in turns both staggeringly beautiful and depressingly ugly. The ancient crumbling temple complex of Bagan in the centre of the country with its more than 2,000 pagodas and stupas stretching into the central plain beside the Irradaway River must rank as one of the world's great wonders. 'Free the classic, clear the plastics', pleads a sign. But the country seems powerless against a rising tide of rubbish, a rash of garish new buildings, many of them hotels to accommodate the crowds of tourists who for so long were locked out of the country, is disfiguring many towns and cities"

The return of the 'Made in America' label? - "An almost perfect storm of factors is boosting American manufacturing. The shale revolution has lowered energy costs and made the US look competitive again. Rising wages in emerging markets like China is another reason. Black & Decker says it now costs the same to produce in America as it does in China once logistics and transport costs are taken into account. Plus, the US has maintained its position as the technology leader, so productivity is high"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, A Tunnel of Stories - "An Indian friend told me the refugees are referred to in Hindi slang as "kabutar" (sp?) or pigeons. The word in this context means something like opportunists or scavengers. "If I was fleeing war, Rohini told me, I would stay with people of my own culture as near as I could to my own country. And I thought of the young Syrian tattoo artist who told me had worked a year in Istanbul but was unhappy with the wages - 800 pounds a month - so had joined the exodus to Germany."

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Old Fears Return - "He grasps a fistful of wild lavender and crushes it to his nose. He uses this he says to cover his tracks. Before he wore a set of clothes which he'd left in a barn with some sheep. But he soon realised when he started interacting with people they found the smell rather offensive. Now with the lavender he can hide from the animals while smiling quite pleasant"

Screaming from the only studio with a bidet - "The reason why a broadcasting correspondent has an easier time now than he did in the 40s is simple: it is that communications have improved. Communications are the only things that change in news. The news itself, despite what some may claim about there being more of it today, or less of it, remains remarkably similar from one decade to the next. And, in fact, the only really novel events that have happened in my time are space travel, political hijackings, mass tourism and the plastic explosion in household equipment - what one advertising man once described to me as "the breakthrough in plastic toys for budgerigars... It defines, too, the frontiers of your powers of endurance and rubs in the valuable lesson that the way things appear on the spot are nearly always different from the way they are visualised by the reader or listener in an armchair. Now this has nothing to do with inaccurate reporting. It has to do with the human imagination, which seems unable to cope with anything smaller than twice life-size. I don't remember being seriously frightened on a story I was actually covering, but I was often terrified when I read other people's reports of it afterwards."

food.recentrunes.com | Mee Goreng as the National Dish of Singapore - "It is cooked by an Indian Muslim in Ghee, using a Chinese wok, with Chinese cabbage, Hokkien noodles, Malay chilli padi, Indian mutton (marinated with the Sup Kambing) and American Ketchup."

List of those exempted from Delhi government's odd-even formula for cars - "the cars with odd numbers will ply on odd dates and even number cars on even dates...
Who are exempted from the scheme:
- President
- Vice President
- Prime Minister
- Chief Justice of India
- Lok Sabha Speaker
- Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha
- Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
- Leaders of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha
- Chief Ministers of state and union territories except Delhi
- Governors of State
- Lt Governors of Union Territories
- Union Ministers
- Judges of Supreme Court, judges of Delhi High Court and Lokayukta
- Single women drivers, women drivers with a male child up to the age of 12"

Even steven: Delhi sticker crooks have already devised odd-even jugaad - "Special vinyl stickers which can be pasted on number plates to replace the last two digits, have become the hottest selling car accessory in Delhi"

The city in love with cars even though its air is toxic - "For 90 minutes, we sat in a logjam surrounded by a thick haze of diesel exhaust, just a few minutes' walk from our flat, on one of Delhi's major north-south thoroughfares. Police stood by while the rich in their Lamborghinis and BMWs drove against the traffic, some mounting pavements, others blocking intersections, and still others attempting U-turns in the tiniest of gaps. High-decibel horn blasts rent the air, tyres squealed, and gangs of young men abandoned their vehicles to argue with other drivers. The result was a traffic jam stretching out in every direction."

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Inspecting the Troops - "[On Rusia in Syria] I asked the spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry to respond to these accusations... No army in the world has ever been so open about who it's targetting. It's terrorists we're attacking... Are you saying, I responded, that after nearly 6,000 sorties by your airforce, there hasn't been one civilian casualty? Correct, replied the spokesman... The less you know beforehand, he explained, the safer you'll be. That is why, at times, being embedded with the Russian military felt like some kind of Magical Mystery Tour"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, A special Boxing Day edition - "No East German has ever sailed in the Warnamunde apart from the officials who went on her maiden voyage and her crew, who were not allowed offshore in Denmark. The Warnamunde's predecessor on the Gesser (?) run, a Danish ferry, used to be allowed to take along East Germans just for the trip. They were not allowed to land in Denmark. But there were too many ugly scenes, with passengers leaping over the rail and swimming for it, and plainclothes people's policemen splashing after them in pursuit. So now East German holidaymakers and dockyard workers wave to the Warnamunde from a distance, closely watched by 7 naval ratings spaced along the quayside and armed with submachine guns. The People's Own Motorship is for foreigners only. And the people's chance of ever seeing Denmark, just across the water, is rather smaller than the prospect of a visit to Peking...
[On the Twist] Is there a connection between the desperate state of the world and the popularity of this frenetic dance? I think there is. Certainly one can't imagine such a dance getting widely popular in a time when people felt satisfied and confident in the future"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Nervous Sweden - "A group of young Iraqi men huddle in the doorway... It's so cold here! the biggest man complains... It's very pretty, but there are no jobs. No nothing actually. We don't get nothing in Finland. He asks where I come from and when I reply London, the group instantly choruses: 'London! London! We want to go London!'. Many of those seeking asylum never bargained on being in Finland at all... The 92 Euros or 70 Pounds a month allowance he receives as an asylum seeker barely keeps him in cigarettes. Disillusioned, 2000 mainly Iraqi mirants volunteered to return home last year. That's riled many Finns who argue that it's proof that plenty of so-called refugees are not fleeing for their lives at all but are simply lifestyle shopping. A few years ago, those views would only have been voiced by the populist Finn's party and would've been viewed as extreme. Now the government is pretty much singing from the same songsheet. It's even set up a Facebook page in Iraq and Afghanistan, warning migrants that Finland is not a paradise, that they're in the process of cutting back benefits and they predict 2/3 of asylum applications this year will be rejected. Last Autumn, the head of the Lutheran Church here, to which 3/4 of Finns belong, called upon parishioners to shelter and welcome the refugees. Unfortunately, his appeal backfired and prompted a mass resignation from the church on a public internet forum"
Maybe they rather die than be cold
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