The Cuban national assembly announced on Friday that it would back the agreement of President Raul Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama to restore diplomatic ties that Washington severed more than 50 years ago.
“In the name of the Cuban people, we fully back the speech to the president of the council of state and of ministers, Army General Raul Castro Ruz, this past Dec. 17,” read Yolanda Ferrer, the president of the National Assembly’s International Relations Commission.
A South Carolina white nationalist leader is scheduled to appear alongside Tea Party leaders, members of Congress, and prospective presidential candidates at a Tea Party convention in January, according to new research by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR).
Roan Garcia-Quintana, a national board member of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens, is scheduled to speak at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention on January 17-19 in Myrtle Beach. In fact, Garcia-Quintana is listed first on the convention’s “Speaker Bios” page, above many more well-known presenters.
Tea Party leaders, including Bill Norton of Tea Party Patriots, Deneen Borelli of FreedomWorks, and Mark Meckler of Citizens for Self-Government are also scheduled to speak, according to the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition’s website. So is anti-immigrant activist Mike Cutler. US Representatives scheduled to share the stage with Garcia-Quintana at the convention include Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC), Rep. Tom Rice (SC), Rep. Mick Mulvaney (SC), Rep. Jim Bridenstine (OK), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX). Likely GOP presidential candidates Ben Carson and Rick Santorum are also scheduled to address the convention
Cliff Weathers at Alternet outlines some of the newborn crazy from this year.
Conspiracy theories are like bellybuttons, everyone has one but some are just out there more than others. This year, the Internet was rife with vile gossip and wild beliefs; I couldn’t even possibly list all the wacky new chemtrail and illuminati theories in just one article. And let’s just quickly drive a stake through the rumors that Ebola victims are rising from the dead, reptilians disguised as humans run the U.S. government, and Pharrell, Keanu Reeves and Madonna are actually vampires.
I’ve found that the conspiracy theories spread most widely — and the ones that seem plausible to many, unfortunately — are those based on current headlines and often propagated by public figures such as politicians, celebrities and media figures. They travel by word-of-mouth at light speed and become “a known fact.” These theories are often believed by those who assume there must be a coherence behind world events and occurrences don’t just happen randomly. Using that as our criteria, here are the most insidious conspiracy theories of 2014.
The upswing reached throughout the Bay Area geographically and was bolstered by strength in a wide array of industries.
“Santa Clara County is on fire, the San Francisco metro (area) is on fire, and now the East Bay is joining with strong job gains,” said Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.
“The quality of the job growth really stands out to me,” said Jordan Levine, director of economic research with Beacon Economics. “A lot of it is well-paying jobs. It’s not just seasonal and holiday jobs.”
Santa Clara County added 8,600 jobs, including 5,600 in tech, 900 in the hotel and restaurant business and 700 construction positions, according to a Beacon analysis of the EDD figures.
Israel has carried out an airstrike on a Hamas site in Gaza, its first against the Palestinian territory since this summer’s war, which ended when a truce was signed in August.
The Israeli military said the airstrike, in the early hours of Saturday morning, was on what it called a “Hamas terror infrastructure site” in the southern Gaza Strip.
Israeli military officials said they had acted in response to a rocket having been fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Friday without causing any injuries.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, said Israel’s military “will not permit any attempt to undermine the security and jeopardize the well-being of the civilians of Israel. The Hamas terrorist organisation is responsible and accountable for today’s attack against Israel.”
Note: Caonima = grass mud horse/F your motherChina’s netizens are well aware that the government pays commenters to make favorable remarks on Internet forums about the Party and its leaders. Allegedly, the propagandists are paid half a yuan (5 mao or 50 cents, in American terms) per comment, so collectively they are known as the “50-Centy Party”, or as wumao.
A Chinese blogger managed to hack into the email system of a local propaganda bureau, and published the email directives to the local wumao on his blog. (It’s in Chinese.)
Among the hacked documents are instructions to paid commenters, their posting quotas, and summaries of their activity. The emails reveal hundreds of thousands of messages sent to Chinese microblogging and social media services like Sina Weibo, Tencent, and various internet forums, including working links to the actual posts. All told, they demonstrate the Chinese state’s wide reach on the internet, even at the lowest levels of government.
Zhanggong’s propaganda department comes across as surprisingly large, yet comically unsophisticated. To get a sense of its inner workings, Quartz examined emails related to a single event: an online Q&A with the local Communist Party secretary earlier this year. What we found was a Potemkin online village of adoring citizens posting favorable messages and easy questions—all manufactured by the propaganda department.
Most of the 300 wumao or wangpingyuan (Internet commentators) on this city’s payroll just copy and paste the suggested emailed comments to meet their daily quota, and receive their payments. Others get a little more creative, while still maintaining the unquestioning, loyal, even fawning tone of the pro-government remarks.
Here’s an example from the Quartz article, referring to the local party secretary:
2. (Link to forum) I really admire Party Secretary Shi, what a capable and effective Party Secretary! I hope he can be the father of Ganzhou for years to come.
It’s quite likely China employs English-speaking wumao to troll English websites and Twitter. So, the next time you see an over-the-top patriotic remark about China, it may have come from a paid agent of the Chinese government.
Teahadis may complain about the IRS targeting politically incorrect groups but in Canada it is actually happening.
But the teahadis up will not complain. In fact they’ll think it is deserved and long past due.
Sigh. My country is committing suicide by slow poison.
“We have not caved,” Sony CEO Michael Lynton said today, defending his company from President Obama’s comment that the studio had “made a mistake” in bowing to terrorist demands over the North Korea-skewering The Interview. “We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered, and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.”
So who let the terrorists win? Lynton shifted blame for The Interview’s cancelled release to exhibitors who shied away from showing the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy after hackers threatened the safety of moviegoers. Sony left the decision to play The Interview - or not - to the theater chains, who started pulling out one by one this week.
Nebraska’s Legislature is supposedly unicameral & non-partisan, but looking at their Wiki page (which provides party affiliation “for informational purposes only”) it seems to be very red, This move to put a nativity scene in the Capitol Rotunda strikes me as very right-wing. It strikes me as such not only because of the religious aspect, but also because of the involvement of its very anti-choice stance. You can read more about them on Wikipedia, but visiting their website (donotlink.com) will give you a much better idea of just how far right they are.
Nebraska is not alone in this display—a nativity scene is also displayed in the Illinois Capitol Rotunda and has been since 2008 (the Thomas More Society was also involved in that one). That year, the nativity scene there was also joined by a menorah, a Festivus pole, and a sign containing an atheist message (which was stolen). I didn’t look into what has happened in the intervening years. The Illinois State Legislature is bicameral and has a Democratic majority.
Apparently, this has been framed as a free speech issue and there are several other states that allow it. A quick Google search indicates that Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (where the FSM made an appearance) have followed suit—there may very well be others that I missed.
Naturally, the tolerance for free speech quickly evaporates when the requesting groups aren’t Christian or Jewish (I’m not going to say Judeo-Christian because given the history of antisemitism that term is misleading at best). For example: Last year, after Hindus, Satanists, and animal rights groups requested permission to add their displays, Oklahoma suddenly decided it had enough and stopped taking requests for more.
I don’t know how things panned out in Oklahoma, but last year Florida rejected a Satanic display as “grossly offensive.” Apparently, they failed to grasp the irony in that: free speech protections are in our Constitution precisely because some points of view are unpopular.
This year, when the Satanists brought along their lawyers, Florida relented. Last month, Slate published quite the snarky (but true) article about the kerfuffles, the title & subtitle of which caused me to LOL:
Thanks to conservative Supreme Court rulings, the government must support the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Satanic Temple.
By the way, the Michigan State Capitol will also be getting a Satanist display, presumably after having taken note of what happened in Florida. It looks like there might be a fight brewing in Texas (this is the first year they approved a display).
Anyway, back to Nebraska now, added emphasis mine:
Nebraska State Capitol DomeThe Chicago-based Thomas More Society has received permission to set up a Nativity scene in the Capitol Rotunda in Lincoln.
The display in the seat of state government represents constitutionally protected free speech and expression of religious faith by private citizens in a public forum, Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society president and chief attorney, said in a press release. […]
Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers said the display was one of the worst things he has seen happen while a member of the Legislature. It is especially abhorrent because lawyers are doing it, he said. Not one of them could give a cogent argument justifying the placing of a Christian icon in the Rotunda, he said.
“Except for the fact that I am a man who believes in using legal processes to address inappropriate use of state facilities, I would dismantle it and remove it myself,” he said. […]
There is also a question of whether it will open the door to other religious displays in the building.
Um, NO. There is no question that it will open the doors to other religious displays. Precedent has already been set—it’s too late to close the barn door.
The religious right really needs to think things through more carefully. They should also stop wrapping themselves in the flag and claiming to be patriotic defenders of the First Amendment, then putting their hypocritical intolerance on display for all to see—freedom for me, but not for thee is not how it works.
You didn’t know that there are fundamentalist Buddhists who will imprison you for their equivalent to blasphemy?
A New Zealander and two Burmese men have pleaded not guilty to charges of insulting Buddhism in Myanmar.
The trio, who ran a bar in Yangon, are accused over a flyer promoting a drinks event depicting Buddha with headphones.
The image triggered an angry response online shortly after it appeared on the bar’s Facebook page.
Burmese law makes it illegal to insult or damage any religion. Myanmar, also known as Burma, has seen growing Buddhist nationalism in recent years.
The flyer from VGastro Bar showed Buddha with his eyes shut, wearing large headphones, and surrounded by lurid colours.