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  1.  (9363.1)
    Lots of stuff going on in the next couple of months politically. Let's get the ball running. The last thread was great; tons of civil discussion on a big range of topics. Let's try to keep that kind of discourse going!

    2010 Summary: The year ended with huge leaps made in a number of countries. Spain has instituted their first far-reaching smoking ban, the United States failed to pass the DREAM act but passed the reversal of DADT (which will take effect in several months). We all know about the wikileaks (which at this point seem to have largely stopped making headlines in the west) British student tuition hikes, etc.

    On Wednesday the 112th United States congress meets for its first session. The House is controlled by Republicans and Democrats have a very slight majority in the Senate. Republicans have vowed to start trying to reverse everything the last congress did, starting with Health Care Reform but including everything from minor bills to the DADT reversal. There's also still the possibility of the "government shut-down" some congresspeople were promising. Multiple appointees and governors will also take their places over the coming month. The big bit of news in the US is the appointment of a new Ambassador to Syria. Republicans are mad, saying the appointment is stupid because the Syrians have done nothing to warrant an extension of relations. Democrats are trying to appease both sides, with the President talking about expanding relations in the area while Secretary Clinton is tryin to appease the Warhawks by saying that the ambassador is there to limit Iranian and Hezbollah/Hammas influence in the country by "giving them a warning".

    Brazil elected it's first female president and she was sworn in today, making the top headline on both CNN and the BBC. President Rousseff takes over for the last President, the most popular in the country's history. A former Marxist rebel who was imprisoned in the 1970's, she's vowing to protect liberties in the country.

    Evo Morales seems to be becoming more dictator like. He's been forced to reverse his announcement of hiking fuel prices in that country (part of a plan to "limit evil bankers from rising bread prices. Somehow.."). After food services in the country shut down in protest the military were forced to sell foodstuffs last week. Word is is that this will positively affect gas prices in the Americas, which have seen a large spike in the past few weeks.

    Hungary is taking over the EU presidency this month, and has vowed to put an end to the problems Roma and other "Gypsies" across the continent are facing. Groups are facing deportation in countries like France and Spain, which sparked outrage last year.

    The EU Crisis is bothering both France and Germany, and both countries now appear to be working on limiting the damage to their own countries. I imagine the declining European economy will continue to be a big story this year, especially since the continent is seeing little of the rebound that the UK, US, Japan, etc. seem to be seeing. A recent study showed that over 50% of German dislike the Euro, and would like to go back to the Deutsche Mark, at one time the most powerful and stable currency in Eurasia (and third in the world behind the American Dollar and British Pound).

    Have at it folks!
  2.  (9363.2)
    On a note that reflects both national AND local elements (at least, local for me) the 111th Congress, in its dying throes, finally managed to pass a healthcare bill for people who suffered injuries from the New York terrorist attack of 9/11/2001. Yes that's right, nine years. After many of those who suffered the worst problems (respiratory issues, mostly) have already been irreparably damaged or even killed bu their illnesses. Do you know the worst/best part of this by far? It took John Fucking Stewart, a COMEDIAN, to pass this bill.

    This country is just repulsiveartwarming sometimes.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2011
     (9363.3)
    Miller has finally, FINALLY, stopped the bullshit whining about Murkowski beating him fairly as a write-in candidate, becoming the second person in history to be beaten by someone nominally of the same party who was a write-in for US Senate and so far the biggest, sorest political loser of the new century.

    Christine O'Donnell, unsurprisingly, considers the investigation into her campaign expenditures to be a liberal conspiracy put on by Joe Biden, the FBI, and George Soros despite her paying rent, continuing to feed herself, all without holding a job in several years and the only money she has access to has been campaign donations.

    US is apparently in talks with Syria about a peace agreement with Israel.

    North Korea has now started up with nuclear threats.
  3.  (9363.4)
    @Renthing: Of course Christine O'Donnell is innocent in that regard! Why would she work when she can just use her witch magic to conjure money?
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2011
     (9363.5)
    @SilentObjector

    I'm surprised she's not even more outraged about this apparent witch-hunt! *rimshot*
  4.  (9363.6)
    @SilentObjector

    I think that it's disgusting that it took a comedian (an insanely intelligent and noble comedian, but still a comedian) to get a law passed to help the 9/11 responders. The thing I don't get is the flat-out hypocrisy of the republicans, who kept touting them as the "heroes" and using them as the scapegoats for the wars, but the minute they asked for something in return they were dropped off in a ditch. I don't get how this isn't infuriating more people!

    Some news from the Mid East, always a spot of sunshine and cheer!

    Tensions appear to be growing in Israel after the peace talks crashed and burned. The Israeli's have begun re-building settlements, and several Palestinians have been killed in protests over the past few days. A man in his early 20's was shot and killed today after going after a soldier with a BOTTLE for refusing to enter a checkpoint. Why aren't the people that are always droning on about Police Brutality more worried about this kind of stuff? It happens day in and day out there and most people seem to respond with the usual "it's tragic, but fuck it" remark.

    Iran is claiming that it's shot down a "spy drone" over it's territorial waters. They've given no proof of the incident and so far no western military has confirmed the loss of any drones there. Iran claims to have shot down "several" over the past few months. My guess is that it's Israeli. US, EU, and UK drones are mostly tied up in active war zones, and except in cases of rare accidental border crossings, I imagine most surveillance that happens in Iran is done by satellite. Drones are usually used for close-in recon, target acquisitions, and bombing runs, none of which we particularly need in Iran at the moment.

    In Pakistan the PM has lost the government coalition, with his key political allies leaving the coalition over fears of a worsening economy and increasing petroleum prices. If history is any indication, this could lead to widespread destabilization in that country.

    In the US, the Navy is under investigation for a series of videos released by the Executive officer of the USS Enterprise a few years ago. A morale-boosting video, they're mostly poop or gay jokes. While slightly offesnsive, I'm not sure they're any worse than most "not another teen movie" type films, and while I think the XO should be reprimanded, I think this might be a case of blowing a minor story way out of proportion.

    And for the first time ever, the IRS is saying people will have to wait to do their taxes! Turns out the new tax codes put in place by the lame-duck congress are forcing them to re-do many of the paper-based forms.
  5.  (9363.7)
    @looneynerd "The thing I don't get is the flat-out hypocrisy of the republicans, who kept touting them as the "heroes" and using them as the scapegoats for the wars, but the minute they asked for something in return they were dropped off in a ditch. I don't get how this isn't infuriating more people!"

    You and me brother.

    But the part that worries me is the American News Media, supposedly, not mentioning this bit of relevant news at all. I can understand Fox News not mentioning it, cause lets face it, claiming they are the propoganda machine for the Republican Party would be stating the obvious at this point.
    But all the other major news networks had a chance to report this and didn't?
    Not to mention that the democratic party had an opportunity to highlight the Republican parties hypocrasy and even use it to pressure them to pass the law but didn't do or say anything. If the positions were reversed, you know Fox news and every Rep. would have Blietskrieged the media outlet with the news.

    It just looks to me like our entire political system has been compromised and taken over by the rich and powerful.That the Republican party and Fox are being paid to Promote their agenda and the Democrats and Liberal Networks are paid to be quiet and ineffectual.

    Am I just stating the obvious? Or am I letting my natural paranoid tendencies and cinicysm cloud my judgement?

    I don't Know, when it comes to politics, I always feel like I'm missing relevant info that keeps me from seeing the whole picture, or worse that I fail to understand the implications of said news.
    •  
      CommentAuthorDoc Ocassi
    • CommentTimeJan 3rd 2011
     (9363.8)
    Two stories at the end of the year, regarding the UK and EU accounts, The Auditor General in the UK refused to sign off the Commons accounts.
    Auditor General refuses to sign off Commons accounts

    Also this brought to my attention, the EU has failed it's audit for the 13th year in a row.
    EU accounts failed for 13th year
  6.  (9363.9)
    @Doc Ocassi

    Hey, when you're giong to fail something, make sure you'Re the best at it!

    I think this guy is a total badass and i need to start learning french....

    Political essay by 93-year-old tops Christmas bestseller list in France
    •  
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeJan 3rd 2011
     (9363.10)
    Toronto, Canada - The clubhouse of the Glasgow Rangers Supporters was damaged by vandals, who broke a window and scrawled (in Gaelic) "Our Time Will Come" and "Dirty Orange Bastards" on the front wall of the building. A spokesman for the Celtic Supporters club has denied any involvement and condemned the vandalism. Police are unsure if the vandalism should be treated as a "hate crime", which carries extra penalties in Canada.

    OF COURSE IT WAS A HATE CRIME. THEY HATE EACH OTHER.
  7.  (9363.11)
    @Mister Hex

    God people still actually believe in that shit????
    •  
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeJan 3rd 2011
     (9363.12)
    @icelandbob - only the very old, the very young and the very stupid.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeJan 3rd 2011
     (9363.13)
    @BOOD

    "But all the other major news networks had a chance to report this and didn't? "

    I believe MSNBC covered it several times and I think even Shep Smith over at FOX spewed some hate for the Right on the 9-11 bill votes.

    @Mister Hex

    So, nearly everyone?
  8.  (9363.14)
    Laurent Gbagbo has been been offered asylum in the US as a way to leave his country without dignity. This comes after his refusal to surrender his position as President of the Ivory coast. The international community recognizes his rival as the winner of the presidential elections. The scandal is close to causing a major war in West Africa, any many major players on the continent, such as Ghana and Nigeria, have threatened to move Gbagbo from power by force of arms if necessary.

    The economy is in major flux right now. While in Europe the VAT saw a rise in many countries this week, the United States is reporting a large number of newly created jobs and the US stock market skyrocketed on the first day of trading in the new year. Some analysts are saying that by the end of the year it's possible that that dollar could once again be valued higher than the Euro, adding to the problems the EU is facing economically.

    This story from Germany is extremely worrying. It appears that Neo-Nazis are gaining large amounts of influence in the former East Germany, and the Bund has given up attempting to stop it. It appears that extreme right wing politics are re-entering the German stage after a nearly 70 year absence. With any luck groups like this will remain on the fringes, but if not there could be consequences for the EU as a whole, who seem to be shifting towards the right in the past year or two.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
     (9363.15)
    While not necessarily politics itself, I expect that this will come up in politics in the near future: Scalia: Women don't have constitutional protection against discrimination.

    *sigh* My only consolation is that in the history of the SCOTUS this guy is going to be remembered for being one of the few who did his absolute best to make life shittier for Americans the nation over.

    Of course that does little for us having to live through this asshat's tenure.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2011 edited
     (9363.16)
    @RenThing: What makes it worse is the likelihood that there are creepy conservative ladyfolk who approve of the guy.

    And while I'm sure there are plenty of folk with the same family name who are good and decent people, "scalia" somehow sounds like, you know, a skin disease you get from standing in sewage, or not eating your greens. (I'm probably going to get shot in the kneecaps for writing that.)
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
     (9363.17)
    There's at least one, I mean, I think he's married at least.
  9.  (9363.18)
    The Sudan is having a referendum Sunday that could allow the south of the country to formally secede from the north, largely along Christian-Muslim lines. If the secession goes ahead, it's likely to put an end to the Sudanese genocide and have large consequences for both the politics of Africa and the global economy; Sudan is a major exporter of oil, and is one of the largest suppliers to China. It appears likely that a southern government would align itself with the west potentially causing economic troubles for non-western aligned countries. In response to President al-Bashir's support of a free vote, opposition parties have vowed to overthrow the president and stop the secession from happening, violently if required to.

    More bad news from Pakistan, where the Governor of the Punjab, a critically important Pakistani territory, was assassinated by a member of his own security detail. Things in that country appear to be getting less stable every day.
  10.  (9363.19)
    @looneynerd From what I can tell he was killed in a very public place - one of the upper class shopping areas in Islamabad. Chances are if it's been around for more than 10 years, I've been there. The reason given was that the governor was trying to defend a Christian woman from being sentenced to death because of blasphemy laws. This is very impressive (on the governor's part) because between being a non-Muslim and a woman, she would be regarded as one of the lowest of the low. I'm very curious about the insights that any Pakistani (particularly Punjabi) members would have on this.
    •  
      CommentAuthoraike
    • CommentTimeJan 5th 2011
     (9363.20)
    @Looney The German thing is less serious than the article would like to make it out to be. For one, Germany has a good system for keeping an eye on and controlling these things, you can be certain that the group there has been infiltrated by a number of inside men and is being monitored closely. Also, remember we are talking about a village with 10 houses.

    That whole area of Germany (the former East) has been having Neonazi problems since the reunification, and the extreme right has had a reasonable following there. Seems former East Germany kept certain sentiments alive more than the west, combined with poverty and poorer education (tea party anyone?). Worth keeping an eye on, and certainly not good news, but nothing I would lose sleep over. Of course, the two mentioned that own the house in that village might not agree with me. Also I believe the extreme right parties had actually lost votes last election cycle...

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