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  1. From X3M The following news had my attention: "Unneeded" sanctions (in my oppinion) have heen taken towards Russia and vice versa, Europe/US. It makes no sense to the "intelligent" people. Today I heared that Russian people are not allowed to use wifi anominously. Why has this been taken into action? ..... Further, Russia keeps blaming Ukraine for shooting down the plane. While the west and east obviously know that it was Russian technology. Only the seperatists had this? Russia continiously tells its people that it was Ukraine. Is it pride? Can't Putin admit it is true. Yet also admit it should not have happened? Why can't both sides say: leys come to an agreement? And Russia simply saying STOP. Only talking is allowed now? This time I suggest a hippy conference from both sides. No way that, that would happen :( I disagree, the sanctions make a lot of sense. I've read about the WiFi thing, but there are doubts about the feasibility of the plan (for instance, are you going to ask everyone on a train or a bus to show their ID-card when they want to use WiFi?). Seemed to me like a poorly conceived plan that won't come of the ground. About weapons and what happened: everybody involved uses Soviet-era weaponry, so that alone means very little. There's a Russian theory that MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian SU-25 jets. They also claim to have radar images that show SU-25 aircraft nearby when the disaster occurred. However SU-25 is a ground attack plane with a service ceiling of 7 kilometres, 3 km below the altitude where MH17 was flying, so this is highly implausible. More likely it was hit by a Surface to Air Missile, i.e. a Buk or SA-11. From what I understand the Buk missile launcher is capable of firing and hitting targets on its own. However, on its own it's not capable of telling what the target is. It's usually paired with a separate "command" component and a radar component. A Buk operated by an organized military force (i.e. Ukraine or Russia) would have been accompanied by command and radar verhicles, and besides, both Ukraine and Russia would have had acces to flight information of civilian airliners. That leaves two possibilities: - either Ukraine or Russia deliberately targeted MH17 - the rebels targeted MH17 by accident, mistakenly believing that it was a Ukrainian military transport (PS:I didn't use the quote function because the code seems to be either broken or extremely user-hostile)
  2. He's not defending anyone. He's defending a historical fact. People were arrested, imprisoned into transport camps, put on trains to concentration camps (where they ended up in gas chambers) or to labour camps where they were worked/starved to death. The holocaust is accepted as a historical fact by the vast majority of countries. The only countries that deny it, do so because they are hostile to Israel.
  3. Hey Edric, It’s good to hear from you too. I miss our old political arguments. I read your post a couple of weeks ago but didn't have the time to write a lengthy reply then. Then I forgot, sorry. I'll start by mentioning the recent aircraft disaster, almost certainly caused by the separatists - but since that hasn't any bearing on wether or not annexation or seccession itself is justified, I'll leave it at that. The Duma is more extreme on both ends; a telltale sign of a country being a spurious or dysfunctional democracy. The point was; Russia can hardly point fingers at other countries because authoritarian or fascist parties are present in its assembly. I agree that foreign policy decisions should be measured seperately from the whole. I also agreed with Russia when it opposed the second gulf war, for example. They were also right to oppose the secession of Kosovo from Serbia, and at the same time immensely hypocritical. They were supporting numerous rebellions in post-Soviet states at roughly the same time. I don't really see how Ukraine's case is helped by Russia’s annexation of the Crimea or their current involvement. If it's about Ukraine's possibly entry into the EU (which I personally would consider a good thing), that seems even more likely in the long term - unless this unrest continues for a long, long time. Austerity is material for another discussion. It would only be relevant for Ukraine if they also adopted the European exchange rate and then the Euro; not anytime soon. That communist party AFAIK accused of being complicit in the unrest that’s been happening in eastern Ukraine. I won’t vouch for the credibility of that; there are accusations on both sides of the fence that are impossible to evaluate properly- unless you’re there, and not committed to either side. On the issue of communism: I know your political opinions in some detail, and while I don't share them I do respect them. It's my impression that a lot of communists, however, are more accurately described as Soviet-nostalgists. People who will deny, or at least refuse to admit that the CCCP was a tyrannical regime. More often than not they're staunchly pro-Russian, something which (so it seems to me) is more of an emotional reflex than anything else. Svoboda has less than 10% of the number of seats in parliament, yet the pro-Russian media paint them as being essentially in charge of the ‘Kiev government’. I won’t discuss the semantics of the word ‘fascist’, but I agree that they’re not very nice people. However they’re not comparable to Golden Dawn, for example. Exactly who has denounced the legitimacy of the Soviet Union? In the sense that, “we don’t acknowledge the Kremlin government or its claim on these territories”? Vilnius has historically been a Lithuanian city and only became a part of Russia because the Czars conspired with Austria and Germany to dismember the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. Of course that’s history now, but so is the Soviet era for that matter. Ukraine’s borders weren’t just drawn by Soviet authorities. They were also acknowledged by the successor states, and that’s the crucial part. Russia has acknowledged Ukraine's sovereignty over Crimea numerous times, beginning with the agreement where Ukraine handed over its nuclear weapons in exchange for explicit recognition of its borders. Unlike other spots in the former CCCP, Crimea or eastern Ukraine have never been disputed territory; the annexation has more to do with power-politics than any humanitarian or cultural concerns. I'm not even convinced that a majority of Crimea's population supports integration into Russia. The Russian segment of the population only numbers 58,5% and the ethnic minorities are vehemently opposed. That would require the Russian population to be around 90-95% in favour. We'll never know for certain. I've never been there, but I wager that the Baltic states treat ethnic Russians far, far better than Mugabe treats his white subjects. It's also a safe bet that they treat them better than Russia treats its own ethnic minorities. Official status of the Russian language is a big deal to some. Ukraine’s case is similar in a way to Ireland’s situation after it left the UK. English used to be the official language and the native language was on decline. The tide was stemmed by granting official sanction to the native language alone, and in the case of Ireland even reconstructing large parts of it. It’s not an issue I can relate to on an emotional level, but obviously language is an important factor in the collective self-respect of a culture. Denying Russian the status of an official language might not be the” correct” choice, but it’s understandable. People in Ukraine continued to use it in daily life, regardless, without being persecuted. Personally, I’m not convinced at all that serious repression of ethnic Russians was imminent anywhere in the Ukraine – at least before Russia started their annexation and began supporting rebellions. …if a democratic and benign German government started annexing territories of neighbouring states, by military force or threat? The irony here is that many people sympathized with Germany at the time because of your own reasons. They didn’t necessarily believe that Germany was being governed in a good way, but they understood the desire to unite all German speakers into the same nation. And they were willing to throw Chzechoslovakia under the bus for it. If two states negotiate a referendum in a disputed area in which the locals can decide to which they’d rather belong, fine. I don’t think anybody in the world would have a problem with that situation. Otherwise, the borders of existing states need to be respected. History is replete with examples that point to that conclusion. Ukraine did not collapse into violent chaos, at all. What happened was a disorderly transfer of power, after which Russia seized Ukraine using soldiers without insignia and started formenting unrest in the eastern parts of the country.
  4. Edric: I know you don’t like Putin and you obviously shouldn’t, being a communist. But even so, I don’t see how you can approve of his present actions even on the grounds that he's the lesser evil. I don’t agree with your assessment of the EU, but it seems pretty clear to me that Russia is far worse from any ideological perspective. The wealth gap is greater in Russia, there’s more cronyism, and as for fascism…there are plenty of politicians in the Russian Duma that are reactionary, conservative and authoritarian; all of whom support Putin. Mind you, I don’t think that ousting Yanukovich was a good idea at all. I agree with the Maidan people that he was a jerk for more than one reason, but it’s very rarely a good idea to topple a government that’s been elected by the books. It’s also true that many of the most vocal of the protestors were sympathetic to Right Sector. On the other hand, according to polls the leader of Right Sector would get about 0,9 % of the votes if he were to run for president. It’s simply a case of the most extreme being the most vocal, and at the very least, they were right about Yanukovich being unworthy of leading the country. Even a broken clock is right once every 12 hours, except if it’s a digital one. While I had serious reservations about the Maidan protests I have no doubts at all about Putin’s annexation of Crimea. It’s just like every other place where Russian minorities have found themselves stranded after the dissolution of the USSR: Bessabaria, South Ossetia and Abchazia. The baltic states are lucky they made it to NATO when they did. Crimea has a large Russian population, and so do other eastern European nations, because of centuries of Russification under the Tzars and Stalin. Does that mean that Russia anno 2014 has a legitimate reason to intervene in all of these places? It’s not even a uniquely Russian concept. Hitler put the same theory into practice when he annexed Austria and invaded Chzechoslovakia and Poland. The theory that every man, woman, child and farm animal which speaks the relevant language belongs to the mother/fatherland. Self-determination has very little to do with it. (mind you – the German population of Chzechoslovakia in the 1930-38 wasn't treated well. Annexation was still wrong on all levels, regardless) Before anyone mentions it as a retort, I think that NATO handled the Balkan wars badly in general, and that allowing Kosovo to seccede from Serbia was a particulary bad idea. Russia was right to oppose that, even though they were immensely hypocritical in doing so. In short: everything about the last 4 months in Ukraine is bad, I just don’t see how anyone can speak in defense of how Russia has reacted to it.
  5. Hey Edric, I thought that you'd be married by now? At least, you announced it about two years ago, going by my PM box. Are you still a commie ;)
  6. Anathema

    Happy 2013

    A belated happy new year ;)
  7. (I originally wrote this post as a reply for the "with only themselves to blame" thread, but that thread was old and this one seems to discuss, in part, the same issue. So some of it is an answer to Edric's last post in that thread) Greece really is different from all the other EMU countries that experience difficuluties now. In Dutch there is a term called "tax morality", by which is meant the willingness of the population to pay taxes to support their public services versus their inclination to dodge them. I don't know if there's an equivalent English term. It would surprise me if there is a Greek one. The Netherlands (and Germany too, I think) sent tax men to the Greek government to advise them on revenue collection. They reported being stumped at the lack of proper organisation, automated systems and general competence they witnessed there. The politicians have been reluctant to make great reforms and truly collect every penny of tax owed for the sheer reason of electoral backlash. And it's not just the rich who dodge taxes; every layer of the population does it (this is also true in the Netherlands, but to a lesser degree, and has in any case not led to the financial meltdown of our country) As for defaulting and giving the finger to the bond market; I suppose they could do that if they also manage to run things properly from now on. As it is, Greece is still running a primary deficit - that is, even if they didn't pay any interests over government bonds, the government would still be spending more than it collects. I don't think I need to explain why this is unsustainable. And suppose that Greek's government defaults unilaterally and completely, yet continues to use the Euro - that would mean a de facto barter economy where Euros are "just a commodity". The government wouldn't be able to pay for anything unless it's in cold, hard cash. Maybe not impossible in theory, but can you trust the Greek government structure to make it work? It's true that the "hardware" of Greece's economy still exists, but that is a deliberately simplistic view. Those debts may be incoporeal but they do represent actual value that investors paid to Greece, that could instead have been spent in Spain or Poland or whatever to build roads and whatnot. Greece's structural deficits over the past few decades and the subsequent haircut on the debts that resulted from it ammount to a massive transfer in wealth, that they however have let gone to waste through their politicians' incompetence.
  8. That is pretty fascinating. The mere possibility of a people who can't even distinguish "two" from "three" never even occurred to me. Then again, I remember being suprised a couple of years ago when I read that the discovery/invention of the number zero in India was a huge milestone. Is there any known overlap between mathematics and language neurologically speaking? I vaguely remember reading a paralel between mathematics Oliver Sacks' Seeing Voices (in a footnote I guess); that they're both "formal systems". Most of the book was about deafness and signing language though, and quite interesting I should add. It's generally accepted that there's an optimal learning age for language (and for that reason, diagnosing deafness is important so that the child can be learned sign language as early as possible so not to slow down his/her development), it seems logical that the same applies to counting and mathematics and general. Why should that help, exactly? Unless there is some reason why the Piraha language is structurally unsound to incorporate counting. Also, 2 + 2 = 5.
  9. I can't answer yes or no on this one. A balance has to be found somewhere in the middle. A fresh graduate from university shouldn't have to take up unschooled work if he can't find a job relevanto his education in the first month after he gets his degree. If he's can't find any work in his field or on his level for an extended period of time however, he should look for interim employment that's below his level of education or maybe not entirely within his field. PS: hi everybody!
  10. I had always assumed that mammals evolved either from ancient reptiles or primitive birds. I learned something today!
  11. Fenring was quite a different character in the original novels, compared to how he's portrayed in the prequels. In the original novels he wasn't evil at all, at least now how I understand the term. He could be a murderer if necessary, but not because he liked the act, but out of loyalty to his Emperor. And in the end, he refused to kill Paul because he respected him and they felt an almost "brotherly" bond to eachother. I do not remember much of Rabban from the prequels; and he wasn't mentioned very often in the original novel. I've always pictured him as someone with no conscience (and little intelligence), someone who wouldn't hesitate to harm for trivial reasons, but not for sadistic pleasure. This contrasts with the Baron, who always has rational reasons for the suffering he causes. Piter de Vries, on the other hand, is one of the most evil sadists I've ever encountered in a written book.
  12. Maybe he is, I'll take your word for it. All I've seen from him suggests he's an obnoxious loudmouth.
  13. Uhm, what? To my knowledge, the bulk of fish caught in the Mediterranean is exported to non-European countries. This is true at least for tuna, most of wich is shipped to Japan for sushi and whatnot (not kidding). Tuna will probably be extinct in the Mediterranean in a couple of years. The EU does have fishing quota to prevent just that, but all the southern Mediterranean countries flaunt them.
  14. "The final countdown" was locked before I could post; since I have only one thing to say about it I'll post it here: That made me laugh. Even more so because he probably doesn't understand what's wrong with this quotation himself. For how long is he banned?
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