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December 19, 2014, 09:30:01 pm
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News: Atlas Hardware Upgrade complete October 13, 2013.

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1  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Christmas traditions unique to your country/region on: Today at 12:33:06 pm
Well, here there are a few different traditions that mostly vary by valley.

There's the pre-Christmas season starting in early December with St. Nicholas and Krampus coming to visit children who behaved over the year or who were naughty. Nikolaus will bring presents and candy to the nice children and Krampus will take the naughty children into a bag and take them with him and punish them with his rod.

In most of Austria, young men dress up as Krampus and Nikolaus and gather at town squares and hold ralleys and whip the onlookers (you are advised to wear 2 pair of jeans if somehow possible).

Watch Christoph Waltz explain this concept to Jimmy Fallon and Americans:


The 2014 Krampus run in my home town:

2  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: What are gas prices where you're at? on: Today at 12:05:08 pm
The diesel cost 1.04€ per liter in the morning @ the MaxiTank gas station where I frequently fill up (it's one of the cheapest stations in the state).

That's ca. 4.82$ for the gallon.

It's also the lowest diesel price here since 2009/10. I remember that the price then was as low as 0.92€ per liter.
3  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Happy Holidays! vs Merry Christmas! on: Today at 11:52:32 am
In Austria, we tend to split it between "Merry Christmas" for the 3 Christmas days and then on Dec. 31 we say "Gutes/Schönes/Frohes* neues Jahr" (Good/Happy new year) or "Guten Rutsch" (Have a good slide or ride).

"slide/ride" as in "slide/ride into the new year".

* "frohes" is a term that mostly (northern) Germans + people from Vienna would use though.

In local dialect, I would just say "Guads nojs", which means "Good new (one)".


I would never say "Happy holidays" (Schöne Feiertage ?) though. Sounds weird, or something like a person from (northern) Germany would say.

Voted for "merry Christmas".
4  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: DPIC: Executions and death sentences drop to new lows in 2014 on: Today at 11:25:42 am
Violent crime rates have gone down in part due to the disappearance of lead in the environment. Lead, an insidious poison, created behavioral pathologies and learning disabilities. Bullet-proof vests have made it less likely that a crook shoots a cop and gets away for a few hours only to get caught soon afterward. Cop-killers were a big part of the number of death sentences. Crooks trying to shoot it out with the police are now more likely to be killed by cops than survive to face capital-murder charges. Better police work makes it less likely that violent offenders get away with extended crime sprees that might culminate in a robbery-murder.

Crime (and murder rates) is also going down because the US society is aging. Older people are less likely to be criminal or murderous than younger folks. The same with driving offenses.
5  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Poll: MI voters do not support splitting its EV on: Today at 09:54:33 am
Republicans desperately want to split it, because they cannot win Presidential elections anymore:

The survey of 600 likely likely voters was conducted December 10 – 14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.0%. Twenty percent of those who participated in the poll answered question from the mobile phones.

Poll question:

Supporters of the proposal to change Michigan’s winner-take-all system say that by changing to a system where even if a candidate knows they won’t win the popular vote, they can still win at least some of the state’s electoral votes, will keep Michigan in the spotlight and attract candidates from both major political parties to continue campaigning in Michigan to compete for electoral votes. This means that more campaign money will be spent locally on advertising and other campaign activities. Supporters also say it’s a fairer system because voters who support the candidate who loses the statewide popular vote will still have an effect which candidate is ultimately chosen as president.

Opponents say that efforts to change the winner-take-all system are being pushed by Republican Party interests and are only taking place in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other winner-take-all states where Democratic presidential candidates usually win, but where the Governor’s office and state legislatures are controlled by Republicans. The same push for this change is not taking place in winner-take-all states like Texas, Georgia and other states where Republicans control state government but Republican presidential candidates usually win. Opponents say the push to change the electoral college is nothing more than a scheme hatched by Republicans to siphon off 20, 30, 40 or more electoral votes for Republican candidates to increase their chance of winning the presidential election.

Thinking about this argument, let me ask you again, do you support or oppose the legislation to change Michigan’s winner-take-all electoral vote allocation system?


37% Strongly Oppose
12% Somewhat Oppose

22% Strongly Support
17% Somewhat Support

12% Undecided/Refused

6  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: We could definitely need some snow right now on: Today at 09:33:44 am
Chicago has about the same temperature as Moscow? And Houston about the same as Paris? God, America is cold.

Global warming at its finest.

That's no joke.

It's happening:

* The temperature in November or for most of the fall was 4°C hotter than the long term average.
* My mum picked parsley out of her elevated gardening bed a few days ago. That has never happened so far and she's 65 now.
* It's way too wet for this time of the year.
* The birds are still here and not in Africa, as usual.
* 40 measuring stations accross Austria did not report any freezing temps this fall for the first time ever.
7  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Austrian Elections & Politics on: Today at 09:28:01 am
Looking at all the recent polls, after 6.5 years of Werner Faymann as SPÖ-leader and Chancellor - one thing is clear:

Werner Faymann & SPÖ fatigue has definitely set in now.
8  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Austrian Elections & Politics on: Today at 09:22:43 am
(2015) Upper Austria state election poll (Spectra for the OÖN):

SPÖ crashes to a new low, but the FPÖ is rather weak too.

It's pretty evident from this poll that the voters want the ÖVP-Green government to continue for a third term. Also, Gov. Pühringer (ÖVP) and the Green-leader have the highest approval ratings of all politicians.

Pühringer has a 78-12 approval rating, and is known by 97% of the voters.

Anschober has a 68-17 approval rating, with a 90% name recognition.

9  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: We could definitely need some snow right now on: Today at 08:33:55 am
Still no snow.

Today, it has 15-20°C (= 59-68°F) in and around Vienna and 15°C in Salzburg !

The Vienna-area (the orange area east of Munich) today is as hot as Southern Spain or North Africa or the US-sunbelt:

10  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Eurovision Song Contest 2014 on: Today at 05:33:08 am
Who's going to moderate the Contest ?

The ORF has picked the moderators for the 2015 Song Contest in Vienna, all 3 of them women:

* Mirjam Weichselbraun (left)
* Arabella Kiesbauer (2nd from right)
* Alice Tumler (right)

The 2014 winner Conchita Wurst will be an additional moderator out of the so-called "Green Room" and will perform a song (or more) at the contest.

This is the logo:

11  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Austrian Elections & Politics on: Today at 02:05:40 am
New Gallup poll shows a solid right-wing majority, with the ÖVP moving further ahead and the SPÖ falling behind:

ÖVP-FPÖ has a 53-43 lead right now.

The current SPÖVP government has a 50-46 lead.

FPÖ-SPÖ has a 49-47 lead.

ÖVP-Greens-NEOS as well as SPÖ-Greens-NEOS are not possible right now.

Any coalition that would involve FPÖ/Greens or FPÖ/NEOS is not possible because of ideological and political reasons.

12  Forum Community / Forum Community / Post a song from the year you were born on: December 18, 2014, 02:07:26 pm
13  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / US police "honesty/ethics" rating up among Whites, crashes among Non-Whites on: December 18, 2014, 01:53:41 pm

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 8-11, 2014, with a random sample of 805 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.



14  General Politics / Economics / US budget deficit continues to shrink in the first 2 months of FY2015 on: December 18, 2014, 01:34:14 pm
The November shortfall was $57 billion, compared with a deficit of $135 billion in November 2013.


November is the second month of the 2015 fiscal year. For the fiscal year to date, the deficit is $179 billion, 21% lower than in the first two months of fiscal 2014. The fiscal year runs from October to September.


The shortfall for fiscal 2014 was $483 billion, the lowest of Barack Obama’s tenure as president. Last year’s deficit was 2.8% of gross domestic product—the lowest by that measure since 2007.

The Congressional Budget Office expects the deficit to shrink again in the current fiscal year, but has said shortfalls will begin to rise in 2016 as the government spends more on health care and retirement programs for aging baby boomers.

15  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Leave of Absence (again) on: December 18, 2014, 08:10:43 am
Well, I'm back! Smiley

Who are you ?

16  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: New York To Ban Fracking on: December 18, 2014, 07:57:13 am

Fracking needs to be banned until the new method below is usable for business:

The Montan-University Leoben (Austria) is currently working on a clean, environmentally friendly fracking method and they have already made big progress on it and are now in field studies.

Instead of using chemicals that are potentially dangerous for the water supply, the "clean-fracking" method would frack the shales with a mix of potassium carbonate & corn derivates. All of the ressources used could also be recycled.

17  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: 2014 US Congressional Election Results on: December 18, 2014, 05:18:21 am
BTW: The secret ballot to elect the VT-Gov. will be held on Jan. 7

The new (or old) Gov. then gets sworn in on Jan. 8

The last Governor to be sworn in btw will be MD's on Jan. 21

2 new Governors are already in office: in AK & HI
18  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: DPIC: Executions and death sentences drop to new lows in 2014 on: December 18, 2014, 03:30:10 am
PA, DE, CA & OR really stand out on this map among Dem. states.

At least OR and PA have quasi-moratoriums in place and CA's DP was ruled unconstitutional during the summer.
19  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: DPIC: Executions and death sentences drop to new lows in 2014 on: December 18, 2014, 03:09:42 am
The prisoners on death row weren't taken off of it when NM, MD and CT abolished the death penalty? That sucks...

No, because the law was not made retroactively.

CT still has 12 on death row, MD 4 and NM 2.

Plus, Wyoming has the death penalty - but nobody is currently on death row.
20  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / DPIC: Executions and death sentences drop to new lows in 2014 on: December 18, 2014, 02:59:42 am
Well, the death sentences are at a 40-year low, while executions are at a 20-year low:

The use of the death penalty in the U.S. is dwindling, with the number of executions and death sentences reaching multiyear lows in 2014.

In 2014, 35 people were executed—the fewest since 1994, according to the latest annual report by the Death Penalty Information Center. Executions took place in only seven states.

Meanwhile, 72 people were sentenced to death this year, the lowest number since 1974, the report said.

The figures represent the continuance of a downward trend that reaches back to the 1990s.

In 1999, the high-water mark for executions, 98 inmates were put to death.

In each of the years from 1994 to 1996, more than 300 people were sent to death row. Both numbers largely have been shrinking for the last 15 years.

“We’ve been moving away from the death penalty for many years now, and that trend is likely to continue,” said Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.


21  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: If each state held a referendum on the death penalty... on: December 18, 2014, 02:32:57 am
If it's just the question "death penalty yes or no" without offering life with/without parole, then almost all states would vote for the death penalty right now.

There are hardly any recent state polls, but even in CA it's still at 55% support (remember that the close referendum vote in 2012 came only with big concessions in funding for victims and solving murder cases), NH supports it 2:1 and support in CO is 75% and 80% in OK ...
22  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: EU Parliament overwhelmingly votes in favour of the country Palestine on: December 17, 2014, 12:28:56 pm
The Austrian Greens don't support Palestinian statehood? What kind of right-wing GINOs are they?!

No, they do - in general. But they prefer to be a peace deal ahead of recognition, because they fear that otherwise it could further destabalize the situation there between ISR and PAL.

That's what I read out of their policy standpoint:

23  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: EU Parliament overwhelmingly votes in favour of the country Palestine on: December 17, 2014, 11:51:06 am
The votes of our EU MEPs were quite a bit different today compared with the domestic party positions in the Austrian parliament:

Should Palestine by a sovereign country ?

ÖVP-EU: Yes, ÖVP-Austria: No
Greens-EU: 2-1 Yes, Greens-Austria: No
FPÖ-EU: No, FPÖ-Austria: No
SPÖ-EU: Yes, SPÖ-Austria: Yes
NEOS-EU: Abstain, NEOS-Austria: Yes
Team Stronach-Austria: unknown
24  General Politics / International General Discussion / EU Parliament overwhelmingly votes in favour of the country Palestine on: December 17, 2014, 11:32:40 am

498 Yes
  88 No
111 Abstentions
  54 Not present

The Austrian delegation (18 MEPs):

12 Yes (5x ÖVP, 5x SPÖ, 2x Greens)
  4 No (4x FPÖ)
  2 Abstentions (1x Greens, 1x NEOS)

Roll call here (page 69).


MEPs back Palestinian statehood bid

If you are in Strasbourg for a European Parliament plenary session you are bound to run into a drinks reception at some point. This time, it was an event to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

There was singing, a live band and an opulent buffet (kosher of course). The vice-president of the parliament even lit the special festival candelabra.

But attention shifted to the thorny political question of Palestine on Wednesday.

The European Parliament voted to recognise Palestine as a state "in principle", by an overwhelming majority - 498 in favour and 88 against.

There was a standing ovation in the chamber, as many feel this is a historic moment: it's the first time that the parliament has adopted a formal position on the issue.

25  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Winter 14/15 Ski Alpin Thread on: December 17, 2014, 06:22:10 am
This new Kitz-trailer is awesome:

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