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[personal profile] asthfghl

If you tune back to 30 years ago, you'd realize how huge the invasion of food into our lives has become today. And I don't mean the substance itself, which we used to put the emphasis on in the past. I'm talking about images of food: recipes, celebs being photographed while cooking or eating food, culinary globe-trotters sharing their gastronomic experiences from around the world, bloggers displaying their fave meals before (and often instead of) consuming them. These days, it seldom happens that a bunch of folks would sit at a table somewhere, and not bring the conversation to food (book talk used to be the fad in the days of yore; but no more).

Ranty rant is incoherently incoherent... but you are already loving it )
asthfghl: (Слушам и не вярвам на очите си!)
[personal profile] asthfghl
Not so long ago, US vice president Pence visited Montenegro. his visit was related to the Adriatic summit and Montenegro's entry to NATO. There were all Balkan leaders on that meeting, but the main event was Pence of course. Fortunately, he didn't shove the Montenegrin president off his path the way Trump did earlier.

Half of the former Yugoslav republics are already NATO members (Slovenia, Croatia and now Montenegro). The other half (Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia) are either on the waiting list, or haven't made up their mind.

Macedonia seems the likeliest next addition to the alliance, especially after Zoran Zaev and his Socialists came to power. Serbia is still at a crossroads between the East and West, and Bosnia has got some internal problems and is not ready yet.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] dreamville_bg
Human embryos edited to stop disease

I think there is far too much hysteria about this. We already operate on newborns to correct a thousand or more conditions. The only reason not to operate on a foetus is the risk of miscarriage.
So if we can avoid the utter misery of genetic defects which not only cause pain, and endless misery for the suffering, but blight siblings and the whole family - do it.

There are two main problems.

1) Abuse to select gender as there is still far too much cultural bias towards males. China now has such an imbalance due to selective abortion that huge numbers of males can't marry. For the majority, who are hetero this is a bad fate, and promotes rogue males.
But we already have systems to monitor this kind of abuse via foetus test & abortion, and such systems could be made stronger.

2) Long term implications as wiping out certain types of humanity* would be permanent, unlike blocking via abortion.
Serious defects are by definition undesirable and are highly unlikely to be helpful in terms of genetic diversity.
Less serious defects - harelip? for example, could be regulated so it stays as a post-birth op.
It really comes down to how we regulate, and how strictly - but whatever moral issue we consider, not just about this, will throw up borderline cases that push the boundaries. It's part of a human society to deal with this.

* Evolution depends up to a point on mutations which may have also some deleterious effects. The type of genetic engineering which is being considered may therefore prevent long term beneficial evolution. That doesn't mean that genetic engineering should be avoided at all cost, but the fact is that we are still too ignorant to fully understand the consequences of everything we try in the field of genetics. It's like life extending efforts. The longer we live the slower we evolve. Living very long and having few children may be a disaster rather than a blessing, as far as our long term evolution is concerned. We should be very careful about all these exciting possibilities.
halialkers: (Default)
[personal profile] halialkers
So, as was recently shown, North Korea has indeed developed ICBMs that give it the capacity now to strike US soil, specifically Alaska (not that there'd be anything of actual value beyond wildlife lost if they did).
Iraq and North Korea: Axis of Idiotic US fixations  )

Context in all its morbid and even hilarious irony  )

The Cold War repeated as farce )

Of such morbid irony is the whim of reality, which unlike fiction needs no pretense of consistency or event A logically and neatly following from a cause that would indicate that this event could become that one.

[identity profile]
Nice speech, Donnie. I'm sure the turban-clad towel-wearing moustached folks with the long names sitting in their gold thrones driving their Rolls Royces must have nodded a few times in agreement with you, Donnie. Now trot along, and keep feeling good about yourself.

Well, the conflicts are not going to end any time soon. Especially those involving (and/or generated by) Islam.

And who are the most frequent culprits? Or at least the ones most frequently accused for inciting the conflicts? Well, let's see. America, Russia, the Sunnis and Shia, Germany's inexplicable hospitality to migrants (actually it could be explained with their fear of being accused of Nazism again), etc.

Read more... )
[identity profile]
The wheel of history turns and turns, but we the people don't seem to change too much, do we? It's as if only the stage set occasionally changes a bit around us. We've replaced the carts and wagons with cars, instead of shacks we live in shiny buildings of glass and metal, and our brains we've trapped inside plastic boxes and connected them digitally. And that's about it, as far as change goes. Everything else remains: wars, resources, politics, easily controllable masses, trade and consumption.

In the late 3rd century AD, Roman emperor Diocletian established a tetrarchy, and he appointed one Gaius Galerius to rule Egypt and Syria on his behalf. In 303, encouraged by Galerius, Diocletian burned his own imperial palace in Nicomedia, then accused the Christians for it and used the opportunity to demonize the Christian community based around Antioch. Terrible persecution ensued, torching, pogroms, beheadings, massacres of Christians (St. George and St. Panteleimon were among the more famous victims).

This propaganda tactic has been used for centuries )
[identity profile]
Last time this was mentioned more than 3 years ago. And now it's becoming even more topical. I'm talking about the new gas (and possibly also oil) discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean, which could explain a lot about the ongoing geopolitical shifts in that region.

There can be no coincidence. Two important events took place just within hours apart from each other on March 17. First the Cyprus government decided to grant drilling licenses for gas and oil to several multinational energy giants: Exxon Mobil, Qatar Petroleum, Total and ENI. On that very day, Turkey announced they'd be starting a navy exercise with live rounds just a few days later in Cypriot territorial waters, just 30 nautical miles off the SW coast of the Island of Aphrodite. Turkey said their patience was running out. Much in line with a visit a month earlier by their foreign minister Cavusoglu to the Turkish part of the island, where he warned the Greek Cypriots against any unilateral actions on the oil/gas issue.

Whoever was hoping that the gas off the Cyprus shores could serve as a platform for unification and cooperation between the two communities there, was being naive. Oil and gas are much more likely to stir up conflict, and the latest events are yet another evidence of that. The tension started to escalate instantaneously after the Cypriot move on the gas. The Greek/Turkish negotiations were halted, and the leaders of the two communities started hurling accusations at each other for this failure. Turkey used the opportunity to sharpen the tone and start issuing ultimatums and threats (they've been rather active in that regard lately).

Read more... )
[identity profile]
Herkese merhaba! Greetings, all! I'mma occupy you with this Turkish issue once more. The Sultan keeps being on top of the news these days, so I figured I could tune in as well, what with living just next door to him, and being able to personally smell the scent coming out of his smelly ass.

See, Erdogan was, at least on paper, democratically elected. Sure, the election was partly rigged, in that he had conveniently removed most of the serious opposition to himself well in advance. Still, he wasn't supposed to be a dictator - at least not of the Kim type. Let's not succumb to populist temptations and media propaganda and try to view things a bit more impartially (which admittedly is not that easy, given the emotional charge of the current political situation). Erdogan is not exactly Satan, he may have some redeeming qualities, like his pragmatism (which may've remained in the past, granted - but more about that a bit further down). The one thing that sticks out about him is his determination, I'll have to give him that.

Also, he was, at least initially, a genuine reformist. By the way, and this is a little-known fact particularly in the West, he actually initially expanded women's rights - and for a time, the freedom of the press as well. As shocking as it may sound to those who've only been fed what the Western media deign to serve to us all. He also led Turkey towards the EU, he created a middle class where none existed, and he vastly improved the social system of his society. Those are all things that have hugely contributed to his success at home, and to his popularity. During his rule, the Turkish economy grew and expanded almost exponentially for many years in a row, where it had always lingered in the backstage before. We shouldn't ignore any of this if we want proper context about Turkey. Because when I'm reading most analyses these days, they all seem to have converged around the notion that he's a malevolent despot who's leading his country towards collapse.

And that`s where the good stuff ends )
[identity profile]
We talked about the connection between the Trump phenomenon (if I can call it so) and the Kardashian phenomenon. I heard a few opinions, including the one that there are different people with different views on those two phenomena, and the ones worshiping hollow celebrities, are not necessarily the same who then go and bash Trump for objectifying people (hence, no hypocrisy here). While that may be true for many, I think we should look at the bigger picture.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid the issue goes way beyond mere diversity of views. It's about culture - and some media have admitted it themselves. It's a culture that's being shaped for years and decades, the likes of both Trump and the Kardashians being the end product of that process. We can't just bury our heads in the sand about it, and dismiss the issue with simple explanations like, "well, some hate him/her, some like him/her, that's life". That won't make the above-described process go away in any way whatsoever.

Brace yourselves for a unusual rant )
[identity profile]
Here's a slight off-topic fun survey to distract us for a bit from the gloom and bile surrounding this election. Now that we've established both presidential candidates are the most unpopular possible presidents in recent US history (at least since such rankings have been in place), I'd like to know your opinion on the opposite: who in your mind were the most beloved rulers throughout history? And not just US history, but of the whole world. I mean, enlightened, pragmatic, wise philosopher-kings and emperors, erudite and thoughtful prime ministers, presidents, efficient chairpeople or any such other famous leaders who've actually made good on their promise and led their country and people to a better future, as opposed to bringing it to ruin and strife, and were extremely popular at their time because of it?

The list could be really long. And I'm sure each of us has their own perspective, stemming from the culture and history of the place they live in. So let's stick to 4-5 suggestions per person. I'm all ears!

My nominations:

1. Trajan of Rome, for bringing the Roman Empire to its apex, turning it into a paragon of culture and civilization that shaped the world for millennia, and developing an extensive and efficient welfare system for his people
2. Frederick II of Prussia, for vastly increasing Prussia's wealth and influence, and turning it into a hub of culture and learning, and a great military power
3. Catherine II of Russia, for transforming her country from a backward Asian giant on clay feet into a full-fledged modern European multinational empire and a world power
4. Abdullah II of Jordan, for using the tools of absolute monarchy to do profound reform, and turn his country into a reliable pillar of stability and a cornerstone for the peace effort in a region otherwise torn by eternal conflict
5. Abraham Lincoln, for leading his young nation through times of great peril in a way that paved the road to a truly modern global power
[identity profile]
The so-called "alt-right" is an American political movement described as containing elements of nativism, white-nationalism (sometimes including separatism or supremacy,) a belief that Christianity is a core and essential element of "Western Civilization," as well as sometimes antisemitism and neo-reactionary opposition to Democratic forms of government. While this kind of movement is certainly not unique to the U.S., its popularity is, and that demands some examination.

As stated above, while the adherents of "alt-right" philosophy would deny that it has any one specific definition, it's become clear that it is, if not fundamentally aligned with, at least friendly with white nationalism and christian dominionism, and is at least somewhat hostile to democracy. This presents a problem: the vast majority of American citizens reject these things (or at least their most overt manifestations.) Most Americans were raised to believe in the ideals of the Enlightenment, the ideals held by the Founding Fathers: ideals of democracy, equality of race and gender, and freedom of religion. Admittedly, the U.S. has not always adhered to these ideals perfectly (sometimes not at all,) but they have always been held up a goal, an ideal to strive towards, and our understanding of them has only broadened over the centuries. In the early twentieth century, it likely would not have been hard to find folks who'd agree, at least in part, with the philosophy espoused later by the Nazis. Today, it would be much harder to find people willing to agree with that.

Enter the alt-right. The alt-right is facing a problem: most folks reject what they are offering, when it's presented openly and honestly. Most Americans do not want nativism, white nationalism (or white separatism,) neoreactionism, or dominionism.

The alt-right has a solution to this problem.

16 points. )

Cognitive Dissonance )

What does this have to do with the alt-right? )

Sunlight )
[identity profile]
"Clinton is candidate for president, they're airing Tarzan in the theatres, and everyone's playing Pokemon. Welcome to 2001". That's the caption below a cartoon that's been circulating the webs lately. And all three of these statements are still valid today, in 2016. Just like 15 years ago, the Pokemons are again the latest fad - this time through Pokemon Go.

Most of us must have noticed by now that some folks tend to wander around, looking into their cellphones while they walk. Not all of them are texting or Facebooking (sic?) Many are actually hunting for pokemons. You know, those fabled creatures - water, fire, electric little thingies that look like foxes, turtles, kittens, little dwaggins or just weird-shaped clouds. They came to life back in the 90s, but the new smartphone version is now re-conquering the world once more. Last month Pokemon Go beat the previous record with 21 million active subscribers daily, and it was installed on 5% of all Android devices in the US just within the first 2 days of its existence. Fierce ink-spilling and spittle-spewing ensue on the matter. The debates are still raging in places as far away apart as Oz, NZ, Asia and the Euros. After this terrific start though, the question arises, is this going to be another huge success, or the umpteenth balloon that is sure to go bust pretty soon?

Pokemon here, pokemon there... )
[identity profile]
Imagine you're participating in a TV show and you're asked to guess which US presidential candidate has said that many Americans are angry because of the state of the economy, which is rigged in favor of the elites. This statement could've easily been Trump's or Hillary's, or Bernie's. And not because of the cynicism of the former two, both representatives of the economic and political elites, respectively. Kind of doesn't make sense to hear a top-1-percenter whining against the privileged, right? It's just that both presumptive nominees (what a weird term) are now eager to ride the wave of protectionism that's been sweeping across hearts and minds in America, and is shaping up to become the new slogan at the upcoming general election. Oh, by the way, the words are Hillary's. She said them back in February at the Uni of Wisconsin. Funny, right?

In short, the main reason for a freshly renewed protectionism schtick is that more and more US workers are worried they could lose their jobs if the trade agreements with other parts of the world kick in, and cheap stuff from China starts undermining the US economy. The presidential candidates, in turn, are tempted to play by that tune and use it in their favor to garner support and earn votes. Doubtless, Trump is more extreme in his statements than Hillary. He has turned the debate on free trade into one of the pillars of his campaign, hurling numerous tough utterances against China, Mexico and Japan, and proposing a 45% tariff on all Chinese goods. But Hillary is not too far behind, either. She has said she doesn't support TPP, although just a few years ago while she was Secretary of State, she called it the "gold standard" of trade agreements. This "evolvement" of hers shows that the popularity of open economy and market is dwindling. And that's a rather risky tendency in the current situation, where the global economic growth remains way below the pre-2008 levels (this year's WB forecast is for 2.4%), and the G-7 leaders still can't come up with a way to bolster it.

Things aren`t as hunky-dory as the official stats suggest )
[identity profile]
The end of the Russian military operation in Syria has surprised most experts and politicians both in Russia itself and beyond. Most analysts believe Putin has achieved his military and political goals for the most part, and with minimum losses and expenses. But the question is, why didn't the Russians continue to capitalize on the acquired strategic advantage?

At a first sight, the Syrian operation cannot be defined as a clear "victory". Technically, it was conducted spot on and it didn't cost too much. Putin says it cost about 33 billion rubles, the Russian military says 38 billion; but even if we take the largest estimates (made by Western experts of course), it still cost less than 1% of the Russian defense budget. If we compare this to the US operations in Syria, we'd realize the Russian flights were somewhere around 5 times cheaper than the US ones. And yet, none of the initial military objectives was brought to its very end. Confusing, right?

Read more... )
[identity profile]

(The shop is temporarily closed. Says it all really.)

In recent days, the main economic news in Russia is not the oil price (which of course remains dangerously low), but the clearing out of street stalls and kiosks around the subway stations. Those used to serve the function of mini-markets for the passers-by for a long time. Of course, most of them were pretty ugly and they looked as if they had been compiled out of materials from the scrap-heap. But many people still bemoan their removal because, apart from essentially being convenient little stores, they used to sell cheaper than the larger supermarkets. The authorities are preparing to remove at least 100 such vendors from various parts of Moscow, claiming these have been raised in violation of trade law and all hygiene requirements.

The response around the social networks has been that of dismay and anger. Many have called the actions of the Moscow mayor "the night of the long shovels", in a somewhat hyperbolised allusion to Hitler's Night of the Long Knives. Still, one could sympathise with the Muscovites, because the measure will narrow the market down to a very elitist segment of big trade chains, and will force many people to change their customer habits, and spend more money in a situation that already awfully smells of recession. Some are logically asking themselves why the city authorities would do such a thing in an election year, and risk creating thousands of potential protest votes.

This animosity to the actions of the Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin (himself a former Putin party aide) is added to the deteriorating economic situation in the country. Recent polls indicade that 40% of the Russians believe the situation is worse than it was in 2005 (another crisis time). And for a good reason. Last year the Russian economy shrank by 3.8%, which is its worst slump since 2009. Inflation was 13% in 2015, and keeps soaring. Meanwhile, the real salaries are plunging. Foreign investment is drying up because of the sanctions, and the low oil prices have caused the ruble to plummet. Which all means that 2016 will be a second recession year in a row.

The problem could no longer be swept under the rug at this point. )
[identity profile]
Something big seems to be coming up. Is it possible that we are at the threshold of a technological revolution that would entirely overhaul the way we live, work and communicate? Many experts and analysts believe that this is indeed the case. To such an extent that the so called Fourth Industrial Revolution has become one of the key topics of the Davos summit. The question about how exactly this process will develop may have not found an answer yet, but one thing is for sure: it should be thoroughly analysed, and all participants in global governance should be involved, both from the public and private sector, plus the civil society and the academical circles.

As per the definition, the First Industrial Revolution used water and steam energy to mechanise production. The Second one used electricity to create mass production. The Third one used electronics and information technologies to automatise production. And now the Fourth Industrial Revolution is using the achievements of the Third one, the digital revolution, which started in mid 20th century. The new one is characterised by merging of technologies and blurring the line between the physical, digital and biological sphere.

Read more... )
[identity profile]

It should come as little surprise that many libertarian capitalists lack a nuanced view of labour market economics. After all, they lack a nuanced view on pretty much everything else as well. One does not have to go far to find utterly trite arguments [1] that suggest that a "libertarian" approach would mean "that human beings should be free to undertake exchanges with each other free from force, fraud or coercion" which, from their astoundingly simplistic interpretation of such things, means and end to such horrific interventions in the free market such as minimum wages, occupational health and safety, anti-discrimination laws, penalty rates, sick leave, and holiday pay.

Read more... )

Just cross-posted from the usual suspect.
[identity profile]
As I am entering into my last semester of what has been a rollercoaster of a college career, I feel that I have plenty of experience as to how the business and politics of higher education “works” in America, the ridiculous nature of the student climate, and more. Therefore, I do not believe that the conclusions I am about to draw are anywhere near blasphemous- but you tell me.

Read more... ).
[identity profile]
If you have the chance to fly from an exotic place like Casablanca to a strange place like Mogadishu in war-torn Somalia for example, you would probably be on board the Turkish Airlines (they serve amazing food, by the way). The reason is that the company has 45 African destinations in its portfolio, which makes it the largest carrier on this continent. But what is Turkey doing in Africa, you may ask? Simple: it's making money. It is accumulating influence in a place that others consider too risky, or too early to go to.

Turkey's trade with Africa rose up to 23.4 billion dollars last year. More than half of that is Turkish exports. This means that nearly one dollar in 10 out of the 157 billion Turkish total exports had come from Africa. Such are the benefits that a single country could draw out of trade with the world's 18th largest economy that is Africa. Indeed, Africa has vast untapped potential, and it often remains underrated and overlooked. But Turkey has recognised the perspectives, and is now scrambling to assert more solid positions here. Just like another emerging economy has done lately: China.

Read more... )
[identity profile]
So, for some reason the WTO hastens to declare the excessive consumption of meat a factor for cancer, thus causing a shitstorm of outrage among meat producers (and hysterical panic among the general populace) - and almost at the same time, the EU opens its doors to a Monsanto domination. Curious!

Parliament rejects national GMO bans proposal

This is big. Very big. And I'm not sure it's getting the attention that it truly deserves. Everyone is fixated on the refugee crisis, and all the while, this is happening almost silently.

I don't get it. First the environment ministers say they want to give countries the right to make their own decisions on GM crop cultivation on their territory - and then, they flip the bird to sovereign governments and actually deny them that right. This practically ties their hands by not allowing them to use evidence of environmental harm to ban GM cultivation. This ultimately leaves those countries that want to say "No" to GM crops exposed to legal attacks by the biotech industry. It's fucked up beyond words.

How's that not selling off to big corporations, and how does it defend the interests of the EU citizens!? Who made that decision, and who authorized them to do so? On whose behalf did they make it? Did anyone consult with their constituents? Is anyone actually listening to what the people have to say?

Mark my words, the same will happen with the TTIP. It'll be shoved down our throats without anyone being asked whether they agree with it. We'll be reduced to a second-tier market where cheap, shitty American goods will be dumped at the expense of local producers, and in violation of any principles of democracy.

A bunch of whores, that's what our so called leaders are. And in time, they'll reap what they're sowing right now.

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A place to discuss politics without egomaniacal mods


Divisive Rhetoric


"Favoring multiculturalism is something Westerners give a lot of lovely lip service to until they have to actually do it."

September 2017

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