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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 41,983

About Me

On \"vacation\" until 17 September; don\'t care -- You people aren\'t getting rid of me... I leave this forum on my terms, not yours.

Journal Archives

Murder, Poisoning, Raids: It’s Election Season in Russia

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the only billionaire jailed by Vladimir Putin, is assembling an army of volunteers to challenge the electoral system that supports his nemesis. Accusations of murder and poisoning are already flying. Khodorkovsky, freed 18 months ago, has said he hopes to spark a palace coup from self-imposed exile in Switzerland, exploiting what he predicts will be rising discontent with a contracting economy. He’s starting with a project to hunt for violations in the first major elections Putin and his ruling United Russia party will face since the president returned to the Kremlin in 2012 after a four-year stint as prime minister.

The tycoon, who says his 10-year imprisonment for financial crimes was retribution for funding Putin’s opponents, is teaming up with Golos, a vote monitor whose reports of fraud in the 2011 contest for parliament helped trigger the biggest protests of the Russian leader’s 15-year rule.

“Monitoring elections will be seen as a provocation,” said Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the independent Center for Political Technologies in Moscow.

Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia foundation and Moscow-based Golos plan to dispatch 1,000 observers each to regional polls in September and thousands more for early legislative elections next year, as well as the presidential vote due in 2018 that may give Putin another six years in power. He’s funding his monitoring project with some of the $100 million he says is left from a fortune that once stood at $15 billion.


The academic universe is indifferent to WikiLeaks

As the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts continue its slow segue back from vacation, let’s focus on a relatively easy topic: the alleged hand-in-glove relationship between the U.S. State Department, the International Studies Association and American academics.

Let me explain: Earlier this month WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave an interview to Germany’s Der Spiegel in which he lamented over the failure of academics to exploit WikiLeaks’ release of U.S. diplomatic cables to the fullest:

I worry most about academia and the particular part of academia that is dealing with international relations. WikiLeaks has published over 2 million diplomatic cables. It is the single largest repository for international relations of primary source materials, all searchable. It is the cannon for international relations. It is the biggest dog in the room. There has been some research published in Spanish and in Asian languages. But where are the American and English journals? There is a concrete explanation: They act as feeder schools for the US State Department. The US association that controls the big five international relations journals, the ISA, has a quiet, official policy of not accepting any paper that is derived from WikiLeaks’ materials.

Now this last allegation is a blatant falsehood. The executive director of the International Studies Association flatly denied Assange’s claims, as Ben Norton reported on his blog, Furthermore, Norton discovered at least a few articles in ISA journals that have cited the WikiLeaks cables.


(LOL WHUT) Giant panda accused of 'faking pregnancy' for better treatment

Anyone who follows Shanghaiist's extensive coverage of pandas is by now well-aware that we are more than a tad obsessed with the fluffy, adorable creatures. That's why we were as shocked as anyone to learn that they can sometimes act like total assholes. Maybe.

China Daily has reported that a panda named Yuan Yuan at the Taipei Zoo in Taiwan actually faked her own pregnancy in order to be relocated to fancier accommodations ahead of the summer.

When pandas become pregnant at the zoo, they are moved into single rooms with air-conditioners, where they receive extra helpings of food and around-the-clock attention.

Researchers believe Yuan Yuan, after observing the change in treatment, may have displayed behavior similar to that exhibited during pregnancy so that she could live in air-conditioned luxury during the scorching summer months.

How she managed to "fake" the thinning of her uterus, we cannot answer, but apparently this isn't the first case of its kind...


Yuanyuan, a female panda eats her "birthday cake" at Taipei Zoo.

Can any of you ladies handle THIS?

Meanwhile, in Montana...

"A Personal War" -- America’s Marxist Allies Against ISIS

SINJAR MOUNTAIN, Iraq—Nine years ago, Zind Ruken packed a bag and left her majority-ethnic-Kurdish city in Iran, escaping a brutal police crackdown and pressure to marry a man she’d never met. Now the 24-year-old is a battle-hardened guerrilla, using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to fight Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq.

She has deployed to reverse their advances on self-governing Kurdish communities. Last summer, she says, she helped rescue Kurdish-speaking Yazidis besieged on Sinjar Mountain. Her unit has fought Islamist insurgents and conventional armies in Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq—countries where an estimated 30 million Kurds live.

Ms. Ruken’s journey provides a glimpse behind the remarkable rise of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the cultlike Marxist-inspired group she fights for and whose triumphs against Islamic State have helped it evolve from ragtag militia to regional power player.

The PKK and its Syrian affiliate have emerged as Washington’s most effective battlefield partners against Islamic State, also known as ISIS, even though the U.S. and its allies have for decades listed the PKK as a terrorist group. The movement in the past has been accused of kidnappings, murder and narcotics trafficking, but fighters like Ms. Ruken have presented the world an appealing face of the guerrillas—an image of women battling as equals with male comrades against an appallingly misogynist enemy.


Official: Two former Guantanamo detainees arrested in Belgium

(CNN)Two former detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba were arrested by Belgian police in a counterterrorism operation targeting a recruiting network for al Qaeda in Syria.

They were arrested Wednesday night along with three others as they were about to break into a house to raise funds in the town of Hoboken, near Antwerp, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN.

"We have dismantled a serious recruiting network for Syria," the official told CNN.

One of the former Guantanamo Bay detainees was Moussa Zemmouri, 37, a Moroccan national born in Antwerp, Belgian federal prosecutors announced Friday. The other was an Algerian identified as Soufiane A., who prosecutors believe spent time in Syria.

Both have been charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group and all five have been charged with attempted armed robbery.

Zemmouri was released from Guantanamo in 2005 and authored a book "Innocent at Guantanamo" after returning to Belgium. His case was featured prominently by the UK Muslim prisoner advocacy group CAGE, which has long maintained that he has no links to terrorism.


Senegalese inventor builds plane with salvaged parts

Baila Ndiaye has already built a car entirely out of recycled materials, but the Senegalese virtuoso has set himself a new challenge. He's now in the process of putting together an ultra-light aircraft using only second-hand parts with the same goal as before: to prove that it's possible "to make what we want using only what we've got".

Fifty-one-year-old Baila Ndiaye settled in France after finishing high school. He set up a company in Mulhouse that specialised in electronics, before returning to Senegal 15 years later. That’s where, three years ago, he built 'Syndiély': a single-seater car made entirely from used parts.

Building on this first success, he threw himself a new challenge. He started to build an ultra-light aircraft, before personal reasons compelled him to return to France, where he runs an engineering company in Strasbourg. However, he hopes to return to Senegal to complete his project in the near future.


Go home FedEx, you're drunk

FedEx airplane pops wheelie while unloading

Obama administration in 'final stages' of planning the Guantanamo Bay closing

Source: CNN

(CNN)The Obama administration is in the "final stages of drafting a plan to safely and responsibly" close the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.

"That has been something that our national security officials have been working on for quite some time," Earnest said.

Earnest was responding to a question about a story in the New York Times that says the effort to close the prison, one of the first promises the president made back in 2009 upon taking office, was faltering and "collapsing again."

Any plan would have to be approved by Congress which has placed significant obstacles in the way of transferring detainees out of the prison.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/22/politics/guantanamo-bay-closing-plans-obama-earnest/
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