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Posts posted by visionary

  1. 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)

  2. 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.)


    Young socialist hardliner will lead Venezuela's economy


    President Nicolas Maduro is doubling down on his existing economic policies with the appointment of a young leftist hardliner to head the country's cratering economy, setting the stage for confrontation between the ruling socialist party and the newly powerful opposition.


    Luis Salas, the new 39-year-old vice president for the economy, has scant administrative experience, but champions the same theories of price and currency controls that have defined Venezuela's leftist economic policy for 17 years.


    Like Maduro, Salas says the country is suffering from the world's worst recession and triple-digit inflation because business interests are colluding with the U.S. to sabotage the economy.


    He even goes further than Maduro in arguing that many of the country's problems are the result of being too capitalist.


    A professor at the Bolivarian University, an institution created by the late president Hugo Chavez, Salas was relatively unknown before this week. Now, the country is poring over his large body of pamphlets and letters.


    "Inflation doesn't exist in real life," he wrote last year.


    He added that prices go up not because of scarcity, but because of "capitalist economies that are driven by the desire for personal gain through the exploitation of others; by selfishness."


    Venezuela opposition takes control of Congress in rowdy session


    Venezuela's opposition took control of Congress for the first time in 16 years on Tuesday in a rowdy session, setting up a power struggle with President Nicolas Maduro amid a worsening economic crisis.


    The Democratic Unity coalition won a two-thirds majority in December's legislative election by capitalizing on anger over a shrinking economy, soaring prices and chronic product shortages reminiscent of Soviet-bloc economies.


    Maduro dismissed the new assembly as "right-wing" and filled with "dinosaurs" and said a cabinet change first announced a month ago would take place on Wednesday to shore up the leftist movement founded by late president Hugo Chavez.


    Veteran opposition legislator Henry Ramos was elected the new head of Congress in a session in which the two sides chanted slogans at one another and traded charges of corruption and betrayal.


    "What did we offer in our campaign? To recover the autonomy of the legislative branch," said Ramos in his opening speech to Congress. "This has been the loudspeaker of the presidential palace, the echo chamber of the executive branch."


    Venezuela's frustrated opposition supporters were glued to television and radio sets, delighted as they watched top Socialist Party leaders being publicly accused of corruption and mismanagement.


    Ramos flaunted the opposition's newfound control over the legislature by abruptly cutting off one Socialist Party deputy's diatribe against the opposition, saying he had run out of time.


    When heckled by another socialist deputy over a procedural complaint, Ramos brushed him aside by saying "Take it easy, congressman, things have changed here."


    Reporters interviewed deputies and walked freely on the floor of Congress for the first time in years, a practice that had been prohibited by the socialist leadership.


    A portrait of Chavez that hung in the main congressional chamber, a symbol of what critics call illegal politicization of public institutions, was removed.


    Syrian refugees find a safe haven in Amish country


    As people debate allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States, Farhan Al Qadri and his family are actually doing it.


    The Al Qadris — Farhan, his wife Muna, and four of their nine children — moved to the United States in June. Their first glimpse of the U.S. was the inside of JFK Airport in New York, before they were shuttled to the farmlands of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where they now live in a three-bedroom rowhouse in the heart of the city.


    They are part of the fallout of a grueling nearly five-year civil war in Syria that has killed more than 200,000 people and forced millions from their homes.

    The Al Qadris fled their hometown of Daraa in southwestern Syria with the few clothes they could carry after their house was caught in the crossfire between government and rebel forces.


    Sitting on a flower-patterned sofa one afternoon in December, Farhan Al Qadri scrolled through photos on his phone showing the busted windows of his family’s whitewashed home in Syria, lamenting what they left behind that day in August 2012 when they had to cross the border into Jordan.


    The family is safe now in Pennsylvania, but face a whole new set of challenges in a foreign land. He shakes his head at a water leak above the window in the kitchen, where his wife is making a huge batch of yogurt and fresh soup with onions and spinach for dinner.


    He’s hoping to earn enough at his $10.50 per hour job washing equipment at an egg processing plant to eventually move into a nicer home, something closer to what his family was accustomed to in Syria. There, he owned a grocery store and an olive grove. But they hold no hopes of returning. “In Syria, it’s very bad now, lots of fighting,” he said in halting English.

    Many of his friends have gone to Canada, which has promised to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees. “They help with money, a house and clothes. It’s good for Syrians,” he said. “But here now, it’s difficult, I don’t know about the U.S.A.” because of the current backlash.


    “Some think Muslims are not good, and some Muslims aren’t good,” points out his teenage daughter, Maha. “But it’s the same with Americans. Some are good and some aren’t good.”


    Maha, 19, who is learning how to drive and is a fan of Adele’s song “Hello,” is looking forward to attending college and possibly becoming a doctor. “Here, there is a future,” she said in the small bedroom she shares with her younger sister.

    The Al Qadris were the first of three families to arrive this year in Lancaster, a city of about 60,000 people.


    They underwent two years of security and health screenings. During that time, his 19-year-old son Ahmed turned 21. No longer a dependent, he will have to apply to come to the United States on his own. Four other children are grown and live elsewhere: two sons are in Germany, another in Kuwait and a married daughter lives in the United Arab Emirates.


    When families apply for refugee status from the United Nations, they go through a multi-level process to verify their identities, background and the threats they face at home. The United States requires another 13-step process for admission, including security clearances, in-person interviews and FBI fingerprinting.


    The Syrian families are high priority because they involve children, said Stephanie Gromek, a community resource coordinator with Church World Service in Lancaster, one of the nonprofits that helps resettle immigrants. Still, the vetting process is long and involved, she said. Each family member undergoes the 13 checks and if any step expires before the process is completed, they must redo that portion.


    The approved cases are then brought before nine U.S. resettlement agencies, and they determine which of the 360 U.S. cities that offer resettlement has the capacity to take the families, based on medical needs or other resources the city can provide.


    Once the families are accepted somewhere, the International Organization for Migration is notified and coordinates their transportation. The family pays back the travel costs after they are settled and start acquiring income.

  5. Don't **** with vegetarians. They can control plants and trees and ****. You try to square up and out of nowhere some gigantic vine is gonna come out like Jumanji and strangle you. Not even your delts could survive that\


    • Like 1

  6. Sad article.


    ‘We caved’


    What happened when Barack Obama’s idealistic rhetoric collided with the cold realities of war and dictatorship in the Middle East and beyond.


    On a late July day this past summer, a roar filled the sky over Cairo. It was the sound of Barack Obama’s capitulation to a dictator.


    Eight new American fighter jets, freshly delivered from Washington, swooped low over the city, F-16s flying in formation. As they banked hard over the city’s center, they trailed plumes of red, white and black smoke—the colors of the Egyptian flag.


    For Egypt’s brutally repressive president, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the spectacle was a triumph, symbolizing not only his militaristic power at home, but also his victory over an American president who had tried to punish him before surrendering to the cold realities of geopolitics.


    Just two years earlier, Sisi had seized power in a military coup, toppling Mohamed Morsi, the democratically elected successor to Hosni Mubarak, himself a strongman of 30 years pushed out in early 2011 by mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. In the summer of 2013, Sisi followed his coup with a brutal crackdown that would have done Saddam Hussein proud. His security forces arrested thousands of people, including much of his political opposition, and in one bloody day that summer, they gunned down some 1,000 pro-Morsi protesters (or more) who were staging peaceful sit-ins. The massacre was shocking even by the standards of Egypt’s long-dismal human rights record.


    Obama was appalled. “We can’t return to business as usual,” he declared after the slaughter. “We have to be very careful about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that we think run contrary to our values and ideals.”

    But a fierce internal debate soon broke out over whether and how to sanction Egypt further, a fight that many officials told me was one of the most agonizing of the Obama administration’s seven years, as the president’s most powerful advisers spent months engaged in what one called “trench warfare” against each other. It was an excruciating test of how to balance American values with its cold-blooded security interests in an age of terrorism. Some of Obama’s top White House aides, including his deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, and the celebrated human rights champion Samantha Power, now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, urged the president to link further military aid to clear progress by Sisi on human rights and democracy. But Secretary of State John Kerry, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Hagel’s successor, Ash Carter, argued for restoring the aid. Trying to punish Sisi would have little effect on his behavior, they said, while alienating a bulwark against Islamic radicalism in an imploding Middle East. “Egypt was one of the most significant policy divides between the White House and the State Department and the Department of Defense,” says Matthew Spence, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy.


    For months, Obama tried to split the difference. In meetings and phone calls with the Egyptian ruler, by now paranoid and resentful about America’s intentions, Obama and Kerry urged Sisi to respect human rights, while also seeking his help in countering the the metastisizing Islamic State in nearby Syria and Iraq. Sisi did little of either.


    In the end, Obama folded. This past March, he called Sisi once again, this time to explain that he would release the cash transfers and delayed hardware—including the F-16s—and end the administration’s threats to block the larger $1.3 billion annual aid package.

    “The rhetoric got way ahead of the policymaking,” says Michael Posner, who served as Obama’s top State Department official for human rights and democracy in his first term. “It … raised expectations that everything was going to change.”


    He’s never quite melded his rhetoric with his policies,” says Dennis Ross, who served as Obama’s top Middle East aide in his first term. Adds Robert Ford, who was Obama’s ambassador to Syria before resigning in frustration over the president’s policy there: “It seems like we are swinging back to the idea that we must make a choice between supporting dictators or being safe.”


    Their views were echoed in many of more than two dozen recent interviews with current and former administration officials, members of Congress, experts and activists—interviews that revealed a striking degree of frustration and disillusionment. Many Obama supporters started out believing that the president had grand ambitions for replacing George W. Bush’s militaristic posture with a more enlightened and progressive approach to the world before coming to believe they had misread a president who was not the idealistic internationalist they had thought he was.


    In hindsight, it seems clear that Obama came to office far more focused on showing the world that the Bush era was over than on any coherent strategy of his own for advancing human rights or democracy.


    But it didn’t seem that way at the time: Obama’s aides entered the White House full of plans for “dignity promotion”—a favorite phrase of Power’s meant to signal a contrast with Bush’s post-9/11 talk of “democracy promotion” and his second-term “Freedom Agenda” that many came to equate not with Bush’s lofty goal of “ending tyranny in our world” but with imposing Western values on countries like Iraq and Afghanistan at gunpoint.


    Obama’s early rhetoric as president suggested a real shift, the hopes for which were reflected in his remarkable receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize during his first year in office; in accepting the award, he acknowledged the struggle of protesters and democrats everywhere. When Obama went to Egypt in June 2009, he gave an address to the Muslim world at Cairo University in which many heard an inspiring celebration of universal values. Freedom, justice, honest government: “These are not just American ideas; they are human rights,” Obama said. “And that is why we will support them everywhere.”





    Turkey summons Iran ambassador to the Foreign Ministry to protest media reports linking Saudi executions to Erdogan.

    5:24 PM


    Turkey strongly condemned the media reports and asked Iran's ambassador to immediately halt the negative news coverage about Erdogan.
    5:26 PM


    Turkey also told Iranian ambassador that attacking Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad is unacceptable.
    5:27 PM


    So far diplomatic escalation vs. Iran in Saudi, UAE, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Djibouti, Bahrain, Somalia, Sudan, Kuwait
    5:28 PM


    South Korea seeks U.S. strategic weapons after North's nuclear test


    South Korea is in talks with the United States to deploy U.S. strategic weapons on the Korean peninsula, a South Korean military official said on Thursday, a day after North Korea said it successfully tested a hydrogen nuclear device.


    South Korea also said it would resume propaganda broadcasts by loudspeaker into North Korea from Friday, which is likely to infuriate its isolated rival, in response to its fourth nuclear test.

    The United States and weapons experts voiced doubts the device North Korea tested on Wednesday was a hydrogen bomb, but calls mounted for more sanctions against it for its rogue nuclear programme.


    The underground explosion angered China, which was not given prior notice although it is North Korea's main ally, pointing to a strain in their ties.


    The test also alarmed Japan. Its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, agreed with U.S. President Barack Obama in a telephone call that a firm global response was needed, the White House said.

    Obama also spoke to President Park Geun-hye of South Korea to discuss options.


    A South Korean military official told Reuters the two countries had discussed the deployment of U.S. strategic assets on the divided Korean peninsula, but declined to give further details.

  8. In case anyone was thinking...maybe things were calming down a bit...nah.


    BREAKING Iran bans all products from Saudi Arabia after ties cut
    5:36 AM


    BREAKING: Iran says Saudi Arabia has conducted a missile strike on its embassy in Yemen
    5:53 AM





    In other news:

    Reuters: security sources say gunmen have opened fire on a tourist bus at a hotel in Cairo - no deaths have been reported
    4:57 AM


    Update - Reuters: Hospital sources say at least 65 people have been killed in a truck bombing at police training centre in Zliten in Libya
    5:38 AM


    China 'firmly opposes' North Korea's claimed bomb test


    North Korea's main ally China said it "firmly opposes" Pyongyang's purported hydrogen bomb test and is monitoring the environment along its border with the North near the test site.


    China plans to summon North Korea's ambassador in Beijing to the Foreign Ministry to lodge a strong protest, spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing Wednesday. China made a similar protest after the North's last nuclear test in 2013.


    Wednesday's reported test was performed in defiance of the international community and in contravention of its earlier denuclearization promises, Hua said.

    "North Korea should stop taking any actions which would worsen the situation on the Korean peninsula," Hua said.


    Environment bureau technicians were monitoring conditions near the border but air quality near the bomb site was within the normal range, Hua said.


    In the longer term, North Korea should return to long-stalled six-nation denuclearization talks hosted by China, Hua said. North Korea abandoned that process in 2009, saying it would continue its nuclear program to produce a deterrent against alleged threats from the U.S. and other enemies.


    While she made no mention of measures to respond to a test, analysts say Pyongyang's proceeding against Beijing's objections would seriously harm a relationship already under considerable strain.


    That will likely include agreeing to tougher U.N. sanctions against Kim Jong Un's hard-line communist regime and possibly unilateral trade restrictions that could hurt the North's moribund economy.


    SouthKorea FM convenes emergency meeting over N.K. quake - Agency
    9:23 PM


    AFP - Chinese officials say North Korea quake a "suspected explosion"
    9:28 PM


    BREAKING: North Korea quake possible 'nuclear test': Japan
    9:34 PM


    9:34 PM


    Endowments Ministry instructs imams to prohibit participation in Jan 25 protests


    The Religious Endowments Ministry distributed a leaflet to mosques on Monday that instructs imams to prohibit participation in protests on January 25 during Friday sermons.

    The leaflet quoted a fatwa issued by Dar al-Iftaa that says protesting on that day violates Islam and is forbidden in accordance with Islamic teachings.

    The leaflet described the call for protests on January 25 as a "full crime, and poisoned ominous calls that aim at sabotage, murder and destruction in the country". The fatwa also accused calls for protests as a desire to "get Egyptians implicated in violence and terrorism to serve the enemies of the homeland".

    The leaflet said imams should ask people to learn a lesson from other countries in the region that have been destroyed by chaos, and to appreciate the blessings of security and stability. The leaflet also encouraged imams to call on people to unite and build the country rather than destroy it.

    Maintaining the security of the homeland and defending it is a sacred duty and harming public property is prohibited by Islam, the leaflet stated.

    Informed sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the Endowments Mohamed Minister Mokhtar Gomaa has instructed Endowments departments nationwide to send the names of imams who will not abide by the instructions stated in the leaflet so that they may be deprived of a LE 10,000 bonus disbursed to imams at the end of January and to include them in the ministry's blacklisted employees.