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Posts posted by visionary


    Source: Saints hire Dan Campbell, Joe Lombardi, Aaron Glenn


    The New Orleans Saints quickly pounced on assistant coach Dan Campbell after he was not retained as the Miami Dolphins' interim head coach.


    The Saints are hiring Campbell as an assistant head coach/tight ends coach, a source told ESPN.


    The Saints also are hiring former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and former Pro Bowl cornerback Aaron Glenn, according to the source.


    Lawmakers move to protect Iran, Arab diaspora from new visa rules


    There’s bipartisan movement in Congress to roll back a recent change made to the U.S. visa program amid growing concerns that it discriminates against people based on their ethnicity.


    On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Justin Amash and Democratic Rep. John Conyers, both of Michigan, introduced a bill that would eliminate a provision aimed at restricting the entry of dual nationals of Iran, Syria, Sudan and Iraq. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also are expected to announce they will put forth a similar bill.


    The changes to the visa program passed late last year, with the backing of the Obama administration, as part of the omnibus spending package. They placed new restrictions on people from 38 mostly European countries who otherwise would be allowed to visit America without a visa. The goal was to stop would-be terrorists with Western passports from exploiting the program and reaching U.S. shores.


    One new restriction requires that any passport-holders from those 38 countries who have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan since March 2011 must get a visa before coming to the United States. That drew howls of protest from European aid workers, businessmen and others, while also drawing complaints from Iranian leaders who said it undermined the international nuclear deal reached with their country in mid-2015.


    But the change to the visa rules that particularly incensed many people, including civil liberties activists, was one that required a U.S. visa for people who are dual nationals of Iran, Syria, Iraq and Sudan. The problem, the critics said, is that because of a lack of international agreement on dual nationality laws, numerous citizens of Europe and other countries are considered dual nationals merely because of their ethnic heritage.


    Weary of Chaos, Factions in Libya Consider Peace


    Four years after Libya’s revolution, the scars of war are still visible in this city — buildings pockmarked with bullet and rocket holes, graffiti on the walls remembering fallen fighters, and a war museum where rusty ammunition spills across the sidewalk in front.


    Misurata became famous for its resistance to an eight-month siege by troops of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi during the Arab Spring uprising of 2011. Its fighters gained a reputation as tough guys, spearheading the final assault on the capital, Tripoli, and catching and killing Colonel Qaddafi. In the aftermath, their militias fought turf wars and ran rackets.


    Yet now many of those same fighters are advocating peace. Weary of war and even ashamed at what they had become, some have refused orders to fight, organized their own cease-fire and accused political leaders of causing a civil war.


    A majority of the Misurata revolutionary brigades have signed an agreement to protect a United Nations-mediated unity government — and on Friday provided security for members of the government on their first visit to Libya to visit victims of a suicide bombing in the town of Zlitan.


    Yet even then, fighters from one of the groups that had signed the agreement refused passage and opened fire on the convoy, a reminder of how difficult forging a unified command in Libya remains.


    Despite the divisions, the shift over the last year toward peace is significant, not just because the Misurata militias have been seen as part of the problem that has been tearing the country apart, but because the change of mood could help pull Libya back from the abyss.


    “Looking back at the tragedies hurts,” said Ibrahim Ben Ramadan, 31, the former commander of the Liwa Nablous, a group of fighting brigades, and the youngest candidate to run for Parliament in 2014. “I do not feel regret, but you realize people have taken the revolution off its course.”

    For the last 18 months, the Misurata brigades have been embroiled in a power struggle with forces in the east led by a former army general, Khalifa Hifter. The two factions have divided the country, and men who together brought down the Qaddafi regime are now on opposite sides of a civil war.


    The Misurata brigades form the backbone of Libya Dawn, a powerful political-military faction allied with Islamist groups that holds the capital, Tripoli, and leads the government there.


    Ranged against them are anti-Islamist forces in eastern Libya, along with brigades from the western region of Zintan, assembled by General Hifter under the banner of Operation Dignity. They support the internationally recognized government that has taken refuge in the eastern city of Tobruk.


    Factions from the two sides have now agreed to a United Nations-brokered peace deal but have yet to put it into action. In the meantime, they have destroyed much of Libya’s second city, Benghazi, wrecked Tripoli’s airport, and in the chaos have allowed the Islamic State to gain a foothold in the country.


    Some of Misurata’s young revolutionaries questioned the power grab from the start. “The revolution was a spontaneous thing, there was nothing political in us, it was not an aim to rule,” Mr. Ramadan explained.


    In the summer of 2014, at least two brigades opposed orders to fight rival brigades from Zintan for control of Tripoli, but they risked being denounced as traitors and so took part reluctantly, according to several fighters interviewed.


    Dissent grew over the months since the Misurata brigades were deployed to control towns and oil terminals far from home, and ordered to pursue the Zintani brigades beyond Tripoli. Fighters began to accuse legislators in the General National Congress of using the brigades to further their political ambitions.



    Revolt in Governing Party Shakes Tunisian Politics


    Tunisia’s main Islamist party, Ennahda, re-emerged as the dominant faction in Parliament on Monday as mass resignations from President Béji Caïd Essebsi’s secular party continued, largely to protest his son’s position as party chief.


    The upheaval in the governing party, Nidaa Tounes, just over a year after it defeated Ennahda in parliamentary elections and swept Mr. Essebsi to power in a presidential vote, had been brewing for months. The splintering is not expected to bring down the coalition government that Nidaa Tounes leads — indeed, a cabinet reshuffle was confirmed Monday evening despite the resignations — but the shift in power is likely to complicate politics going forward. The lawmakers kept their seats in Parliament but are unaffiliated with a political party for now.


    Tunisia has been praised for its democratic progress in the five years since a popular uprising overthrew the dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, inciting the Arab Spring. But it has had five governments in five years, and many political parties have struggled to find a firm footing.


    The mass resignations from Nidaa Tounes began with several founding members, who complained that the party had strayed from its original goals. Among the most prominent is Mohsen Marzouk, who assumed the presidency of the party briefly last year.


    Twenty-eight members of Parliament from Nidaa Tounes had resigned by Monday, according to Bochra Belhaj Hmida, a prominent member who resigned. An additional 42 members of the party’s political bureau also resigned, members announced Sunday.


    The resignations reduce Nidaa Tounes’s seats in Parliament to 58, while Ennahda holds 69.


    Mr. Marzouk and many others said their resignations did not represent a withdrawal of support for the government or the president. Rather, they signaled opposition to the move by the president’s son, Hafedh Caïd Essebsi, to take over the party and try to create a dynastic transfer of power.


    Mr. Marzouk, a longtime left-wing political activist who spent time in prison under the dictatorship of Habib Bourguiba, is largely credited with masterminding the electoral success of Nidaa Tounes and President Essebsi.

    Mr. Marzouk told hundreds of supporters at a rally in Tunis on Sunday that he had left the party not because of personality clashes but because the party had lost sight of its vision to build a democratic, modern and secular state. Accompanied by 17 deputies who had already resigned from Nidaa Tounes, he said that he particularly opposed the coalition with Ennahda and that he would announce the formation of a new party on March 2.


    Mr. Marzouk said he and the deputies would not serve in the government or join the opposition.


    Others were more outspoken in placing blame for their departure on the assumption of power by the president’s son. “We are not against his person,” said Ben Ahmed Mustapha, a former parliamentary deputy and senior member of Nidaa Tounes, “but against the political power he acquired in an illegitimate way and against his practice of exclusion of those who have a different opinion from him.”


    The break came as Nidaa Tounes held its first national party congress in the town of Sousse over the weekend. At the meeting, the younger Mr. Essebsi was named national secretary in charge of the executive administration and legal representative of the party, which hands him the reins, the national daily newspaper La Presse reported. The party presidency remains unfilled.



    Egypt's hollow parliament


    Egypt has been without a parliament since 2012. As the drastically reconstituted legislative body convenes this week for the first time in nearly four years, the final step in the restoration of Egypt's authoritarian system of government appears to be complete.


    Ever since the July 2013 coup that brought to an abrupt halt the tenuous transition to democracy that followed a popular uprising to remove Hosni Mubarak from power, Egypt's state institutions have been realigned under the authority of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. To be sure, the process has been fraught with external opposition and internal discord but, through it all, Sisi has managed to tighten his grip on power and consolidate his control over the country's governing structures.


    Sisi's supposed "road map to democracy", which concluded with the swearing in of the new parliament on Sunday, began with the quashing of all independent political opposition following the military's takeover in 2013.


    Beginning with the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's long-standing social movement that took the lead in the post-Mubarak transition by winning a series of elections and referendums, Sisi demonstrated that he did not intend to allow the continuation of the opening of the political field to outsiders and challengers.


    The military arrested Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, banned his political party, and detained the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership on charges ranging from treason to terrorism.


    Security forces confronted Morsi's supporters across Egypt, leading to incidents of large-scale state violence such as the massacre of hundreds of protesters at Raba'a Square in August 2013.


    The judiciary did its part in the political realignment that followed by affirming the decision to ban the Muslim Brotherhood, seize its assets, and then sentencing hundreds of its members to death. While many of Egypt's other opposition groups cheered on the coup and its aftermath, the counter-revolution soon turned on them as well.


    Leaders of the so-called National Salvation Front which emerged in opposition to the Morsi government aimed for a stake in the post-coup political transition, but they were to be disappointed. Following a state media onslaught that questioned his loyalty to the coup, Mohamed ElBaradei was quickly isolated and retreated into another self-imposed exile.


    Hamdeen Sabahi dutifully performed the role of opposition candidate in the 2014 presidential election, which Sisi won with 96 percent of the vote. Egypt's liberal and leftist opposition parties were also marginalised, while revolutionary groups such as the April 6 Youth movement were subject to the coup regime's new laws banning public protests.


    In all, security forces have imprisoned more than 40,000 Egyptians in an unprecedented wave of repression roundly condemned by international human rights groups.


    Having neutralised all independent opposition within Egypt, Sisi was free to reshape the country's political landscape as he saw fit. But in the ensuing months he would discover that establishing a new authoritarian regime on the ruins of Mubarak's collapsed dictatorship would be no easy task.


    North tested its nuclear device deep in ground


    North Korea conducted its fourth underground nuclear test last week far deeper into a mountain than in previous tests in 2009 and 2013.


    According to the South Korean government, the North burrowed a tunnel 770 meters (2,526 feet) beneath the top of a peak at the Punggye-ri nuclear site, either to prevent contamination escaping the tunnel’s mouth or to prevent the weapon, which was supposed to be a powerful hydrogen bomb, from blowing out the tunnel.


    “The site where North Korea detonated its nuclear bomb is 770 meters beneath the highest peak [of 2,180 meters] in Punggye-ri,” said Ji Hun-cheol, director of the geological survey team at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources.


    For North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013, a bomb was detonated in a tunnel burrowed 330 meters beneath the peak of another mountain, while the second test was conducted at 480 meters beneath a mountain peak.


    “The test this time was carried out at the location where the earth was much thicker than in previous tests,” added Ji.


    The state-run geoscience institute collects seismic data from 38 seismological observatories and eight sonar radars nationwide.


    Ji’s remarks are the first information on the depth of the detonation of the nuclear device on Jan. 6, which Pyongyang claims was a hydrogen bomb, a claim that has been met with skepticism due to a lack of evidence and the relatively small tremor caused by the test.


    The much deeper underground tunnel, Ji said, could have been a measure to prevent the collapse of the tunnel after a more powerful explosion, such as an H-bomb detonation.


    Or the tunnel was made longer to make the world think Pyongyang was worried about the size of a hydrogen bomb blast.


    The size of the tremor created by the test argues against the hydrogen bomb claim.


    According to Ji, the nuclear test generated a 4.8-magnitude tremor, which was actually smaller than the 4.9 magnitude generated by the 2013 nuclear test. Pyongyang said that test was of an atomic bomb.


    BREAKING: Seoul media says South Korea has fired warning shots after North Korean drone seen across border.
    1:21 AM


    AP: Pentagon says two U.S. Navy boats are in Iranian custody but Iran has told the U.S. that the crew will be returned "promptly"
    4:05 PM

    Breaking: IRGC arrests "10 foreign military troops, probably American," inside Iran's territorial waters in Persian Gulf. FARS
    3:59 PM

    The American troops reportedly were sailing with 2 boats near Farsi island, which located near Iran-Saudi border & hosts an IRGC base.
    4:04 PM


    U.S. releases video it says shows Iranian rockets near American warships


    The U.S. Navy released black-and-white video on Saturday it said was taken by an American helicopter showing an Iranian Revolutionary Guards vessel firing unguided rockets on Dec. 26 near warships including the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman in the Strait of Hormuz.


    Iran on Dec. 31 denied that its Revolutionary Guards vessels had launched the rockets as the United States claimed, with a Revolutionary Guards spokesman saying the "false" accusation was "akin to psychological warfare."


    The U.S. Navy said the infrared radar footage showed an Iranian "fast inshore attack craft" launching several rockets on Dec. 26 "in close proximity" to the Truman, the guided missile destroyer USS Bulkeley, the French naval frigate FS Provence and commercial ships in the busy waterway.


    The dispute underscored the ongoing tensions between the United States and Iran despite last year's international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program.


    The video, taken by a Seahawk helicopter, runs about 30 seconds. The Navy said the rockets were fired "within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane" as the Truman and the other ships were passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf.


    Arab League Statement Backs Saudi Arabia in Diplomatic Fight With Iran


    The Arab League on Sunday backed Saudi Arabia in its continuing diplomatic spat with Iran, triggered by the kingdom’s execution of a dissident Shiite cleric, condemning Tehran for failing to protect Saudi diplomatic sites in the Persian country.

    Minus Lebanon and Iraq, of course.

  7. I hope you head butted all of them and gave them concussions....

    Ha ha,  I didn't really know them, but they seemed nice.  Although I didn't need the 'non-football' fan repeatedly saying "I like that" every time the Packers had a big play in the second half.  

  8. Went to a bar today to watch the game with a ton of other people.  Ended up with three people rooting for the Packers at our table (pretty much right next to me).

    One was a Patriots fan, and another said before the game that he doesn't watch American football and was a Barcelona fan.  

    Fun times. lol


    On the plus side, It was nice seeing people I hadn't seen in years though and it was cool to have everyone shouting out "You Like That!" the few times we scored.

    • Like 1


    Former Falcons HC Mike Smith now scheduled to interview w/ Giants on Monday, per source. Smith highly impressed Dolphins with HC interview.
    12:01 PM


    Eagles confirm they have completed their interview today with Chiefs OC Doug Pederson in Kansas City.
    1:30 PM


    Issue of Marvin Lewis' future really isn't much of an issue. Bengals have no plans to make any HC change at this time, per sources.
    2:44 PM

  10. Why did they do my man at the end of Season 5 like that? Why :(

    That was horrible

    Yeah...but I think they will be regretting that soon.  And there are other reasons for hope (plus some unresolved issues)

  11. My biggest fear reg. GoT is that eventually they catch up to/get ahead of the books and we end up having to wait an extra year between seasons.

    That's pretty much already happened (though there's some things left from the books to squeeze in this upcoming season along with new/different stuff).

    But they aren't going to wait for the books, cause Martin already said the latest one won't be out before the upcoming season (which may have some big reveals/events, and there were a few in the past season as well.)