31 Dec 2013

New Year

New Year is the time at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count is incremented. In many cultures, the event is celebrated in some manner.[1] The New Year of the Gregorian calendar, today in worldwide use, falls on 1 January (New Year's Day), as was the case with the Roman calendar. There are numerous calendars that remain in regional use that calculate the New Year differently.

McCutcheonNY1905

The order of months in the Roman calendar was January to December since King Numa Pompilius in about 700 BC, according to Plutarch and Macrobius. It was only relatively recently that 1 January again became the first day of the year in Western culture. Until 1751 in England and Wales (and all British dominions) the new year started on 25 March – Lady Day, one of the four quarter days (the change to 1 January took place in 1600 in Scotland).[2] Since then, 1 January has been the first day of the year. During the Middle Ages several other days were variously taken as the beginning of the calendar year (1 March, 25 March, Easter, 1 September, 25 December).[citation needed][where?] In many countries, such as the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and the UK, 1 January is a national holiday.

McCutcheonNY1905

Baby New Year 1905 chases old 1904 into the history books in this cartoon by John T. McCutcheon.

For information about the changeover from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar and the effect on the dating of historical events etc., see Old Style and New Style dates.

With the expansion of Western culture to many other places in the world during recent centuries, the Gregorian calendar has been adopted by many other countries as the official calendar, and the 1 January date of New Year has become global, even in countries with their own New Year celebrations on other days (such as Israel, China and India). In the culture of Latin America there are a variety of traditions and superstitions surrounding these dates[clarification needed] as omens for the coming year

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

30 Dec 2013

Baddest Blues

Beth Hart

Israeli troops fire on Palestinian farmers

International activists have been accompanying Palestinian farmers to their lands near the separation barrier between the territories occupied in 1948 and the Gaza Strip. We have noticed, in recent days, an increase in the presence of the Zionist occupation forces. A few days ago, we felt more drones and F-16, then Jeeps and bulldozers began to move near the barrier more often. On Sunday, 22nd December, two Jeeps were stationed in front of the area where farmers were seeding and tractors plowing. They fired shots into the air and one the the ground. This video shows the last episode.

Olive, orange and lemon trees grew in these fields until the second Intifada. Then bulldozers and tanks of the occupying forces uprooted them. After “Operation Cast Lead,” the no-go zone was established at 300 meters, but aggression towards Palestinians was not limited to that area. According to UN reports, high-risk areas in some places reach two kilometers from the barrier, and included 35% of all arable land in Gaza.

More on International Solidarity Movement

Pope Francis 'Shocked' By Gay Adoption Bill

Pope Francis reportedly was "shocked" by a bill that would allow gay couples to adopt children in Malta. Maltese Bishop Charles Scicluna told the Times Of Malta that he spoke with Pope Francis about the bill and the pope encouraged him to speak out against it.

pope

The Holy See's reaction may come as a surprise to those who have viewed him as progressive on gay rights. LGBT magazine "The Advocate" even named him their person of the year, citing his comments about homosexuals. "Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?" he told reporters in Italian in July.

Despite his July comments, the pope has a long history of being against gay rights. He has come out strongly opposed to same-sex marriage and called it "a destructive attack" on God's plan.

Huff. Post

27 Dec 2013

Was Alan Turing Murdered By the Security Services?

Turing is generally believed to have been committed suicide following his conviction and chemical castration. However, the original inquest into his death was perfunctory and inadequate. Although it is said that he died from eating an apple laced with cyanide, the allegedly fatal apple was never tested for cyanide. Moreover, he was in an upbeat mood at the time of his death and making plans for the future - not the typical profile of a person who takes their own life.

turing
A new inquiry is long overdue, even if only to dispel any doubts about the true cause of his death - including speculation that he was murdered by the security services.
Although there is no evidence that Turing was killed by state agents, the fact that this possibility has never been investigated is a major failing. Even if the security services did not kill him, did they pressure him and did this pressure contribute to his suicide?

Huffington Post

24 Dec 2013

Breaking the Code: Biography of Alan Turing

A biography of the English mathematician Alan Turing, who was one of the inventors of the digital computer and one of the key figures in the breaking of the Enigma code, used by the Germans to send secret orders to their U-boats in World War II. Turing was also a homosexual in Britain at a time when this was illegal, besides being a security risk.

Code-Breaker Alan Turing Granted Posthumous Royal Pardon For 'Homosexual Activity' - Huff. Post

23 Dec 2013

Pussy Riot Members Released From Prison

The third member of the Russian punk bank Pussy Riot has been released from custody following an amnesty law passed by parliament. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova left the prison colony in the eastern Siberian city Krasnoyarsk on Monday, hours after another band member, Maria Alekhina, was released in another region.

The amnesty that enabled their release is seen as the Kremlin's attempt to soothe criticism of Russia's human rights record ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

Huffington Post

Roseanne Breaks the Set

Abby Martin interviews television legend Roseanne Barr, discussing everything from Saudi Arabia's connection to 9/11, to her VIVID porn pitch, to her next US presidential run.

21 Dec 2013

Ugandan anti-gay bill includes life imprisonment for certain acts

Ugandan lawmakers Friday passed an anti-gay bill that calls for life imprisonment for certain homosexual acts, drawing criticism from rights campaigners who called it the worst such legislation in the world. When the bill was first introduced in 2009, it was widely condemned for including the death penalty, but that was removed from the revised version passed by parliament.

uganda_anti_gay_protest

Instead it sets life imprisonment as the penalty for a homosexual act in which one of the partners is infected with HIV, for sex with minors and the disabled, and for repeated sexual offenses among consenting adults, according to the office of a spokeswoman for Uganda’s parliament. The bill also prescribes a seven-year jail term for a person who “conducts a marriage ceremony” for same-sex couples.

Lawmakers passed the bill unanimously, with no one voicing an objection. President Yoweri Museveni must sign the bill within 30 days for it to become law. Although in the past he spoke disparagingly of gays, in recent times Museveni has softened his position on the matter, saying he is only opposed to gays who appear to “promote” themselves.

The Washington Post

20 Dec 2013

Mossad trained Mandela

Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who passed away earlier this month, received sabotage and weapons training by Mossad operatives in 1962, a report by the Israeli daily Haaretz revealed on Friday. During the training, which took place a few months before Mandela was arrested and jailed for over 27 years, he reportedly expressed interest in the tactics of Israel's pre-state underground military organization the Haganah.

mandela 1962

According to documents of the Israel State Archives labeled "Top Secret," Mandela was trained by Mossad operatives in Ethiopia where he stayed while attempting to garner support from African leaders for the armed wing of the underground African National Congress (ANC). At the time, the operatives were unaware of Mandela's true identity as he was going by a fake name. In a letter sent to Israel's Foreign Ministry about two months after Mandela was arrested in South Africa, Mossad agents told of a man who called himself David Mobsari.

“As you may recall, three months ago we discussed the case of a trainee who arrived at the [Israeli] embassy in Ethiopia by the name of David Mobsari who came from Rhodesia,” the letter said. “The aforementioned received training from the Ethiopians [code for Israeli embassy staff, almost certainly Mossad agents] in judo, sabotage and light weapons.”

Umkhonto we Sizwe

The letter also said that the man "showed an interest in the methods of the Haganah and other Israeli underground movements," and that he "was familiar with the problems of Jewry and of Israel, and gave the impression of being an intellectual." "The staff tried to make him into a Zionist,” the operative added. “In conversations with him, he expressed socialist worldviews and at times created the impression that he leaned toward communism,” the letter continued, adding that the man who called himself David Mobsari was the same man who had been arrested in South Africa.

More on i24news

Also see: Israel's immoral alliance with South Africa

17 Dec 2013

Head Doctor Says A Rich Kid Isn't Guilty BECAUSE He's Rich. Reporter Says What We're All Thinking.

This whole "affluenza" thing has thrown us all for a loop. For those who don't know, 16-year-old Ethan Couch was sentenced to 10 years of probation after driving drunk, killing four people and injuring nine. The excuse? A psychologist (being questioned by Anderson below) said he suffered from affluenza — being a rich kid and thus having no consequences in life and not realizing the severity of his actions.

Sure, psychologists the world over have said sentencing in this case is atypical, but the reasoning behind it is something that we as a people need to put up for examination. The whole situation is pretty absurd. And if you apply this same logic to a poor person: "I stole a loaf of bread because I was so hungry I didn't realize the consequences of my actions," that poor person would be in jail right now.

upworthy.com

16 Dec 2013

Jesus & Santa Are White

Pope Francis says he’s not a Marxist – but knows lots of good people who are

Pope Francis has been forced to defend his economic and social ideologies after prominent conservatives accused him of coming forward with “pure Marxism”. Speaking to an Italian newspaper today, the pope described Marxism as “wrong”, but refused to condemn people who hold left-wing views.

Pope-Francis-2

The comments came after the Pontiff railed against the “new tyranny” of unfettered capitalism in an 84-page document published last month. The “apostolic exhortation” sets out the terms by which a pope intends to run the Catholic Church – yet it was slammed by the outspoken conservative US talk show host Rush Limbaugh.  Mr Limbaugh, who is not a member of the church, said the comments went “beyond Catholicism” and were “purely political”. He claimed parts of the document were “pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope”, and suggested that someone else must have written the papal document for him.

Today, Pope Francis said: “Marxist ideology is wrong. But in my life I have known many Marxists who are good people, so I don't feel offended.”

The Independent

13 Dec 2013

Kim Jong-un orders execution of uncle - now it emerges that victim's wife was involved in decision to execute him

The final decision to execute Jang Song Thaek, last seen publicly being frog-marched by armed guards from a special party session last week, was probably made by Kim, his nephew, and Kim Kyong-hui, his wife, according to several sources.

News of Jang's execution was accompanied by a string of extraordinary insults, branding him a "traitor for all ages" and "despicable human scum" who was "worse than a dog."  A 2,700-word state media report of his trial in a special military tribunal on Thursday said he had admitted to plotting insurrection and a string of other crimes. "He let the decadent capitalist lifestyle find its way to our society by distributing all sorts of pornographic pictures among his confidants since 2009." The report said Jang led a "dissolute, depraved life" and had squandered at least 4.6 million euro from state coffers on gambling. He was executed, probably by firing squad, immediately after the tribunal.

Jang Song Thaek

Jang's killing is the highest-level purge since Kim Jong-un inherited power from his father Kim Jong-il in 2011 and has left opinion divided on what it means.  Many experts say Kim had no choice but to remove his powerful but corrupt uncle if he wanted to graduate from young pretender to dictator    "He had to go," says veteran Pyongyang watcher Andrei Lankov.  "To really start running the country Kim must get rid of the old guard.  They are so much older; they are in their sixties and seventies and he is in his thirties."

But even if Jang's removal was operationally logical, the violence of his public humiliation and disposal was highly unusual, accepts Lankov. "One possibility is that he wanted to terrify everyone, to show that he is young but someone to be afraid of, to show that nobody is immune," he says.  "It might also reflect his personal animosity to Jang. He did not like the man, who probably bossed him around."

More on The Independent

Robert Levinson, American Missing In Iran, Was Working For CIA

In March 2007, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson flew to Kish Island, an Iranian resort awash with tourists, smugglers and organized crime figures. Days later, after an arranged meeting with an admitted killer, he checked out of his hotel, slipped into a taxi and vanished. For years, the U.S. has publicly described him as a private citizen who traveled to the tiny Persian Gulf island on private business.

levinson

But that was just a cover story. An Associated Press investigation reveals that Levinson was working for the CIA. In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts — with no authority to run spy operations — paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world's darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian government for the U.S.

The CIA was slow to respond to Levinson's disappearance and spent the first several months denying any involvement. When Congress eventually discovered what happened, one of the biggest scandals in recent CIA history erupted. Behind closed doors, three veteran analysts were forced out of the agency and seven others were disciplined. The CIA paid Levinson's family $2.5 million to pre-empt a revealing lawsuit, and the agency rewrote its rules restricting how analysts can work with outsiders.

But even after the White House, FBI and State Department officials learned of Levinson's CIA ties, the official story remained unchanged. "He's a private citizen involved in private business in Iran," the State Department said in 2007, shortly after Levinson's disappearance.

More on Huffington Post

In March 2007, the FBI posted a reward for information about the kidnapping with a computerized depiction of what Levinson may look like after being held for 5 years.

See AboveTopSecret: New Robert Levinson Photos seem fishy...

11 Dec 2013

Atheism Punishable By Death In 13 Countries

Atheists living in 13 countries risk being condemned to death, just for the beliefs (or non-belief) according to a new, comprehensive report from the International Humanist and Ethical Union out on Tuesday. All 13 countries identified by the study are Muslim majority.

atheist map

The countries that impose these penalties are Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. With the exception of Pakistan, those countries all allow for capital punishment against apostasy, i.e., the renunciation of a particular religion. Pakistan, meanwhile, imposes the death penalty for blasphemy, which can obviously include disbelief in God. 

The study's interactive map gives a good, broad, overview of which countries punish apostasy and blasphemy by death (black), with prison time (red), or place legal restrictions on (non-)religious speech and thought (yellow):

Business Insider

Google Wants Microphones In Your Ceiling & Microchips In Your Head

Google engineering director Scott Huffman says that within five years people will have microphones attached to their ceilings and microchips embedded in their brains in order to perform quicker internet searches. In an interview with the London Independent, Huffman said that Google was working towards a concept based around microphones hanging from the ceiling that would respond to verbal queries.

googleimplant

“Like a great personal assistant, it will interrupt you and say ‘ you’ve got to leave now’. It will bring you the information you want,” said Huffman, adding that “five years from now….Google will answer you the same way a person would answer.” When challenged on the likelihood of such a system being vulnerable to NSA wiretapping, Huffman glibly responded that people should just trust Google (a company that allowed the NSA to mine data from its cloud network “at will”) to safeguard their information.

“I could ask my Google ‘assistant’ where we should have lunch, that serves French food and isn’t too expensive? Google will go ‘Ok, we’ll go to that place’ and when I get in my car it should already be navigating to that restaurant. We’re really excited by the idea of multiple devices being able to talk to each other,” said Huffman. “Google believes it can ultimately fulfil people’s data needs by sending results directly to microchips implanted into its user’s brains,” states the report, a concept which Huffman welcomes.

Infowars

#Euromaidan


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8 Dec 2013

British MPs' pay rise

David Cameron and Ed Miliband will face embarrassment this week when it is announced that MPs will be paid an annual salary of £74,000 from 2015 despite their calls for "cheaper politics". The independent parliamentary standards authority, Ipsa, is to reveal its decision to increase salaries by 11%. (The Observer)

The coalition of millionaires

The coalition of millionaires

David Cameron’s coalition Government may have adopted ‘fairness’ as one of its defining slogans, but his team of Ministers has been drawn almost exclusively from the ranks of the financial elite – leading to accusations that politics is once again becoming the preserve of the wealthy. Of the 29 Ministers entitled to attend Cabinet meetings, 23 have assets and investments estimated to be worth more than £1million. (Daily Mail - may 2010)

5 Dec 2013

Nelson Mandela - A Tribute To Madiba!

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (born 18 July 1918) is a South African politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, the first ever to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before being elected President, Mandela was a militant anti-apartheid activist, and the leader and co-founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1962 he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela went on to serve 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island. Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to the establishment of democracy in 1994. As President, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation, while introducing policies aimed at combating poverty and inequality in South Africa.

In South Africa, Mandela is often known as Madiba, his Xhosa clan name; or as tata (Xhosa: father). Mandela has received more than 250 awards over four decades, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

Wikipedia

2 Dec 2013

The Surveillance State "It's cool to wear the Mark of the Beast"

Hey kids, wear electronic tattoos. Take ingestible "authentication" tokens. Isn't it cool?

Brasscheck TV

Israel to demolish Bedouin village for national-religious Jewish town

The Israeli government voted on Sunday to raze a Bedouin-Palestinian village of 500 citizens to clear space for a Jewish town, prompting yet more protests against Israel’s unabated policy of settlement construction.

bedouins in israel

The government ministers moved to evict residents from the Bedouin village Umm al-Hiran in accordance with the terms of the so-called “Prawer plan," which calls for the resettlement of large numbers of Bedouin villages.
The Bedouins have been offered alternative sites to which to relocate, but they plan to hold protests against what they claim is “discriminatory treatment by the state,” as quoted by Haaretz, the Israeli daily.
Liberal Israeli publications have harshly denounced the treatment of the Bedouins, who are being displaced by the very military that some of them proudly served.
“These are Israeli citizens – citizens in a ‘democratic’ state, some of whom have even served the country militarily – who are now having their homes destroyed,” David Harris-Gershon wrote in his blog for the Tikkun Daily.
The Israeli government’s reasoning for demolishing Umm al-Hiran is that the villagers never received ‘official’ zoning rights to settle the land. However, critics say Israel refused to give a stamp of approval to the village, despite ordering villagers to settle the site in 1956.
Other commentators point to the ‘symbolic location’ of the Bedouin village, situated as it is in the Negev Desert, described by Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion as “Zionism’s final frontier.”

Full story on RT News

Noam Chomsky: America Hates Its Poor

An article that recently came out in Rolling Stone, titled “Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail,” by Matt Taibbi, asserts that the government is afraid to prosecute powerful bankers, such as those running HSBC. Taibbi says that there’s “an arrestable class and an unarrestable class.”  What is your view on the current state of class war in the U.S.?

Noam Chomsky

Well, there’s always a class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are very class-conscious—they’re constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is recognized.

We don’t use the term “working class” here because it’s a taboo term. You’re supposed to say “middle class,” because it helps diminish the understanding that there’s a class war going on.

It’s true that there was a one-sided class war, and that’s because the other side hadn’t chosen to participate, so the union leadership had for years pursued a policy of making a compact with the corporations, in which their workers, say the autoworkers—would get certain benefits like fairly decent wages, health benefits and so on. But it wouldn’t engage the general class structure. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Canada has a national health program and the United States doesn’t. The same unions on the other side of the border were calling for health care for everybody. Here they were calling for health care for themselves and they got it. Of course, it’s a compact with corporations that the corporations can break anytime they want, and by the 1970s they were planning to break it and we’ve seen what has happened since.

This is an excerpt from the just released second edition of Noam Chomsky’s  “Occupy: Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity,” edited by Greg Ruggiero and published by  Zuccotti Park Press.

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