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News: Atlas Hardware Upgrade complete October 13, 2013.

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76  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Forty years. on: September 21, 2014, 08:35:14 pm
Ah, forgot about this old gem:

77  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Forty years. on: September 21, 2014, 08:15:00 pm
Well I'm sure many of the rebel fighters started out with ideological goals, but, you know, as they say, power corrupts.

Yes, the Eritrean separatist movement was moribund by late 1973. This was primarily because of the conflict between the (primarily Muslim/lowland/Arab-oriented) ELF and the (primarily Christian/highland) EPLF, which had sapped the two movements of manpower, money, and strength generally. The EPLF was largely composed at that time of political figures who had wound up marginalised one way or another, one might call them "victims of discrimination" while another might call them "sore losers". ELF's objectives are self-evident, although they did have support from highland Tigres (not Tigrayans or "Tegaru"- the native exonym-, they are different) and did not have support from the Afars, as the Sultan was a staunch vassal of Haile Selassie (You can read more about him on Wikipedia, and I can vouch for the quality of the article as I wrote it).

Also this shooting war between the two factions did not do much to increase their appeal amongst the local people. Eritrea, contrary to what the EPLF might say, the Haile Selassie years were ones where the province generally had a robust economy, which was often subjected to attacks by the separatists. Had Haile Selassie not been overthrown the movement would have almost certainly have died out, following the successful imposition of martial law in 1970 that knocked the wind out of the movements reduced them to the state of infighting I mentioned before.

But the Derg and its military cadres very swiftly decided to crack down hard, on Eritrea in particular, and killed a popular Eritrean general who had been the nominal leader of the junta. The brutality of the new regime inflamed the local population, which swelled the ranks of the EPLF, allowing it to assume supremacy over the ELF and gain strength. The problem of the perception of Eritrean oppression under Ethiopian rule is that it was not a uniquely Eritrean phenomenon under the Derg, and under Haile Selassie it didn't actually exist (or at least nowhere near the degree it is presented as, and again, not a unique phenomenon).

There are some interesting, if rather complex articles reappraising Eritrea under Haile Selassie:

http://asmarino.com/articles/2046-the-eritrean-oblomov-loving-asmara-the-superfluous-way

http://asmarino.com/articles/1621-qindependent-eritreaq-a-crumbling-nation-and-a-tragedy

http://asmarino.com/articles/1798-part-iii-independent-eritrea-a-crumbling-nation-and-a-tragedy-the-architects-of-destruction

One hopes more Eritreans take a critical look at the historical narrative they've been fed and come to the fairly... unspoken conclusion the above pieces come to. If what I mean is not apparent, look at my signature. Tongue

Also reading these pieces one wonders how on earth the idea of Haile Selassie as some reactionary absolute monarch opposed to change is still held by people. I mean, God, just pick up a book, any book, that deals with him in the 20s, or the 30s, or the 40s, or the 50s... and so forth. But the 20s are remarkable for his power struggles with real reactionaries (Zauditu et al), and the 40s-50s remarkable for the immense efforts made to establish institutions of all sorts.

Had Haile Selassie truly been an absolute monarch who didn't have to seriously contend with the aristocracy (who were the real reactionaries) or provincial revolts and such, there'd have never been a revolution. Or at least no grounds for one (the big thing being land reform- which would have been done). Several land reform bills were floored in Parliament... which were voted down. Perhaps he was too deferential to Parliament, in 1972 or so there was a such a bill proposed when Parliament was not in session... it was expected he would decree it into law (and thus challenge Parliament to defy him), but he instead deferred to them, and they voted down the bill. Indeed, on one occasion Parliament vetoed an approval of an Italian loan to build the Koka Dam, on the grounds they had not yet returned the Axum Stela, and he had go to them and pretty much tell them "don't be stupid" and approve the loan... which they then did.

One might question if Haile Selassie was too cautious and overestimated the power of the aristocracy to resist him in his later years, but their power isn't really ever taken into account by people, and you must remember he cut his teeth clashing with those in the aristocracy who opposed any kind of modernisation. There was one book I once read that criticised him for encouraging people to wear shoes.

(note on phrases:

Ghedli = EPLF/PDFJ (the political party EPLF became)

Jebha = ELF

Kebessa = Highlanders )
78  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you understand dialectical materialism? on: September 21, 2014, 07:30:19 pm
Also, I don't know why dialectical materialism is now a thing.
79  Forum Community / Forum Community / Do you understand dialectical materialism? on: September 21, 2014, 07:29:18 pm
I know it's a Marxist thing, but that is the complete and utter limit of my knowledge. I'd speculate something about man being driven solely by material goals, but then you have "dialectical" thrown in.
80  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Elections / Re: Cris Survey - October Pacific Senate Election Poll on: September 21, 2014, 07:21:27 pm
I would find it fairly difficult absolutely impossible to vote against a Senator as capable as The Cranberry.
81  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you think the above poster even understands dialectical materialism? on: September 21, 2014, 07:19:22 pm
No

^^
This guy does not. Not in the least.
82  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you think the above poster even understands dialectical materialism? on: September 21, 2014, 07:17:58 pm
No
83  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Government / Re: Capital Freedom Act (Debating) on: September 21, 2014, 04:04:36 pm
doesn't need fixed

Yes, what is this? I see JCL do it often. Why?
84  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Scottish independence/opebo's banning correlation on: September 21, 2014, 04:00:33 pm
There seems to be absolutely no correlation here.

Oh btw, no/yes(ish).

Weren't you the leading voice for the ban?

I'm not entirely sure why he was, banned, still. I feel like it was a particular incident with a signature picture that got Dave worried about family friendliness,  or was just a death of a thousand cuts, a few of which might have been rather atrocious pedophilia apologist  comments made off the forum? I mean it toed the line between a ban for being a bad poster and for being a bad person.

No (obviously)/Yes (I suppose)
85  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Jennifer Lawrence and many other celebrities... on: September 21, 2014, 03:17:57 pm
Ugh, horrible. Vulgar thing to do but terrible for them, the perps should be subjected to rigorous imprisonment. Feel badly for all except Kim, considering this sort of thing is why she is famous in the first place. Society has been made to pay the consequences for that, I think.

These sort of pics are bad but doing this is many many times worse. Disgusting.
86  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Mikheil Saakashvili is living the Brooklyn dream on: September 21, 2014, 02:02:17 pm
Georgia would be much better off if it were called Kartvelia.

Also he was drinking from a coconut at the food fair! I did that too. Also, Saakashvili has gotten fat.
87  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of TNF on: September 21, 2014, 01:52:11 pm
He'd have me guillotined, but then again I'd probably have him "disappeared".

FF.
88  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Update XVII: I Ate The Strawberry (The REAL, AUTHENTIC Update) on: September 21, 2014, 01:51:08 pm
Missing another Friday? RIP job.
89  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Government / Re: August 2014 Napa Valley Earthquake Relief for the Pacific Act (Debating) on: September 21, 2014, 09:18:08 am
That might take a while, considering the calculations weren't pretty and I'd need to go back and dig up all the sources...
90  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Government / Re: August 2014 Napa Valley Earthquake Relief for the Pacific Act (Debating) on: September 21, 2014, 02:44:59 am
After doing the math and plugging in the numbers, I have calculated $1,154,965,000.00 to be the approximate result of the formula I drew up a while back.

I mean the exact figure I ended up with was $1,154,964,759.23, but what's a little harmless rounding?
91  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Elections / Re: Keaton House Polling: How has the IRC affected your life recently? on: September 20, 2014, 06:32:17 pm
The IRC is a bad influence in my life. On Thursday night, I planned to get some work done at the library and then go out to a party I had been invited to, but thanks to the IRC neither of those happened. Yesterday, I was in the IRC until it was just me talking to myself about ties and collar lengths, but by the time I left it was too late for me to do anything as everyone I knew was asleep.

Thanks, IRC.
92  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: September 20, 2014, 05:45:38 pm
Quote
Last week, Ukraine's parliament approved two pieces of legislation that may in the end also help stabilise and transform the country, [including] a law granting limited self-rule and amnesty to the militants.

Quote
The law guarantees a "special status" allowing a degree of self-rule for three years for the self-proclaimed separatist territories, the Donetsk and Luhansk "People's Republics".

It endorses policing by local militias, protection for use of the Russian language and the possibility for local government bodies to "strengthen good neighbourly relations" with their counterparts across the border in Russia.

The law also promises Kiev will pay to rebuild the region, and says local elections will be held on December 7.

Wait, what? I needed to read another article in the Telegraph to make sure I what I was reading was correct. I had been under the impression that the two oblasts had been given autonomy, not the separatists themselves. And an amnesty? An amnesty? For the "terrorists"? Does this mean, for example, Igor Girkin is now free from any risk of prosecution for his actions? Or the militants who shot down MH17- they are covered by this amnesty for "participants of events in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions"?

So let me get this, the separatist entities are actually recognised as extant by Kiev, actually handed governing powers, and allowed to "policing powers" for a period of three years, which would include when this local "election" is held? So they are going to allow the separatists to operate freely where they are now, and come this "election", held while the separatists are "policing" the region, they are going to allow the winners of this "election" to take control of the whole of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts?

So Kiev is promising to not just tolerate, but fully legitimise, the complete handover of the two oblasts to the separatists? What? And these separatist-run oblasts, whose authority would be recognised by Kiev without Kiev's authority being recognised by the... entities, will also be allowed "the possibility for local government bodies to "strengthen good neighbourly relations" with their counterparts across the border in Russia." I mean I haven't a clue what this actually is supposed to mean but it's clearly nothing good. Who put it there?

Just what is all this? Yulia Tymoshenko is quoted as saying that this constitutes "complete surrender" and that the "decision legalises terrorism and the occupation of Ukraine," which is completely accurate, pedantry about the word "terrorism" aside, unless there's something going here that both Yulia and I don't know. Serhiy Taruta, the (actual, for now) Governor of Donetsk Oblast, told the BBC that its inhabitants would feel "raped" if the law came into effect, asking, "where are we - in Ukraine or Russia? What did we fight for? What did our guys die for?" Again, the guy is completely on point. Not only are the recognised authorities shortly going to be armed separatists, who in the meantime, will have the power to arrest, detain, torture, etc, anyone that they do not like, but these are the very same armed separatists that the government has spent the better part of a year trying to defeat. I don't know what the Ukrainian soldiers would have died for, either, although I suppose this fellow would best be advised to leave the Donetsk Oblast/People's Republic while he still can lest he find himself shipped to Lubyanka in the name of "good neighborly relations".

Again, I'm wondering who wrote this- apparently it was proposed by Poroshenko himself? I mean one wants to believe this is a capitulation made in the face of tremendous pressure, it is the only way I could imagine this would be seen as acceptable. But, and perhaps they see things differently than I do, the present condition does not seem to merit folding so completely. It is possible Russia made some sort of threat to significantly escalate the conflict, as I suggested before, but you would think they would at least have informed the other parliamentarians of this (it was a closed session, after all), if not just put it out for all the world to see, which has generally been their MO. They would at least signal that this was made under tremendous pressure, and they weren't happy about it.

But if it was really out of a desperate desire to stop something from happening, or because of the refusal of the West to do more, I don't think the government would act as they are now- as if they've solved the crisis completely and that everything will be returning to normal shortly! People are angered by this and you'd imagine politicians would be eager to calm an angry populace, particularly this one, and one going to the polls in a month, by going and saying things like "sure, we caved in, but if we hadn't, half the country would have been occupied by the Russian army by now instead of the bit they have now". But as far as I am aware they aren't (correct me if I am wrong).

This is why I'm led to speculate that something has... happened behind the scenes in Kiev. I say this not only without a shred of evidence to support my thoughts, but also in near-complete ignorance of how this agreement was passed, and how holds what power in the government. But it must be kept in mind that Petro Poroshenko was initially an ally of Kuchma before breaking with him! One is led to believe that his "bloc", perhaps the people like him in particular (with business interests with Russia) were able to persuade him (and other relevant actors) that this was getting excessive and they should cut their losses lest their interests suffer any further. Or something like that. I don't know if there is a tally for the vote on this agreement, but it should be kept in mind the present Parliament still is the same one elected in 2012, i.e. 40% of its members belong or formerly belonged to the Party of Regions. So it does not seem impossible for such a thing to be passed in the face of "nationalist" resistance. It is all so bizarre, and just sad.


I really only first used my Twitter account to follow what was going on with MH17 and followed a bunch of reporters and officials- you get a rather satisfied feeling of seeing things happen well before the BBC reports it or whatnot. (Although you end up checking the page to see if they've reported it already) A good example of this was when the OSCE observers first went to the refrigerated train in Torez, where the "people" "working" at the crash site had stored the bodies of the victims. Being able to see things unfold in real time is rather interesting.

Things, as you may recall, were especially interesting after the observers left- along with all the very serious "security people" who had been "guarding" the train until then- leaving just three reporters there who all remarked as to how empty the place had become. One from the BBC, one from The Guardian (Shaun Walker, the same guy who stumbled upon that APC convoy a few weeks ago), and one from, erm, Buzzfeed (Max Seddon, who strikes me as rather out of place where he is, as does the idea of Buzzfeed having a news operation at all). So now my Twitter feed is exclusively composed of things about events in Ukraine or Russia- and the commentary of the President of Estonia.
93  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: September 20, 2014, 05:44:34 pm
Maybe they realized they were not going to get any serious help from the only people that could possibly help them so decided to cut their losses?  We've gotten into the habit of hanging Eastern Euros out to dry when the bear growls.

I was thinking that could be it, that they contacted the usual people for help against the renewed offensive and came up empty handed; and and this point decided to cut their losses, as you said. But I don't get such a sense, and I will admit this is coming from only one or two articles I've read on the agreement, (I should probably check the good "The Interpreter" blog and Twitter*). Poroshenko is being feted in Washington as we speak, I would think that had we deserted Kiev he would not show up.

I mean I'm at a loss to understand what has happened here. I know the rebels have made considerable gains, but I'm not completely sure how much they've taken. The Ukrainian National Security Council has made maps of the situation, that, besides being as far I can tell honest, are quite detailed and well done in general (with the exceptions of their decision to unhelpfully overlay the two oblasts with the Ukrainian flag, confusingly marking cities that I doubt were ever controlled by the separatists as "liberated", and slightly-too-large symbols for troop positions), but the last one was from a week ago at least until last week.

Either way it does seem things have taken a turn for the worse, but I do not get the impression this is an agreement consented to out of desperation. I mean Kiev may know something we don't, some sort of ultimatum from Putin to bend over or face a full South Ossetia-style invasion in support of the separatist entities in the Donbas (and perhaps the formation of similar "self-defense militias" across the whole of the part of the country that the Donbas entity/ies seeks to take over) that forced them to fold the way they did. I mean, am I misreading the BBC article on this? Let's look at what I'm reading and what I'm concluding and tell me if I'm unreasonable.

Quote
Meanwhile, a humanitarian convoy of about 200 lorries from Russia arrived in the city.

Russia says the convoy - Russia's third in recent weeks - delivered food, water and generators, but this was done without Ukraine's authorisation.

So, first off, Kiev (and I guess we as well) has stopped caring about these "humanitarian" convoys of Russian army trucks that have been painted white, being driven by Russian soldiers, and are carrying who knows what (remember they all were so empty, too?) that are now coming into the country at their leisure. And who said it was "without Ukraine's authorisation"; the article makes it sound like the comment came from Moscow rather than Kiev. The fact they felt free to mention leads one to believe Moscow isn't asking for permission at this point and that Kiev isn't terribly bothered by it. This is strange.

Quote
Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, representing Kiev at the talks, said that all sides had agreed to move back some of their heavy weapons. He added that the deal would be implemented within 24 hours and monitors from the OSCE would travel to the buffer zone to check for compliance.

I mean, "move back their heavy weapons"? Just as the separatists never had any Buks, right? I mean they have the luxury of having a whole other country, and not a small one, either, in which to hide their weapons from inspectors. Obviously Ukraine can do no such thing. While I'm leery of the OSCE as an organisation, the monitors are good people, but they can only see what the separatists allow them to see (remember how the observers were simply blocked for days from seeing from seeing the MH17 crash site by the separatists, some of whom appeared to be drunk and whose apparent leader went by the nom de guerre of "Grumpy"?) and even then what they are shown might not be, well, real (see note below). Or will things somehow magically manage to be different this time around?

And the representative of Kiev is Leonid Kuchma? Perhaps I'm seriously mistaken about Kuchma, but this guy was essentially Yanukovych 1.0. Indeed it's probably the other way around, Kuchma was far worse, so Yanukovych being Kuchma 2.0 (beta edition). This is the same guy who had journalists murdered, tried censoring the media, sold arms to Saddam Hussein, was the one who made Yanukovych Prime Minister in the first place, fled the country when he lost, and enthusiastically endorsed him in 2010. You could very well call Putin Kuchma 3.0- he's certainly taken after him, albeit more competently. The two are rather chummy. So you have to wonder who in this government (which I think had re-opened charges against him for the murder of that journalist) would have considered him for the post, even just as the leader of the delegation. God forbid he was actually negotiating. So this is bizarre.

Quote
Key points: to ban offensive operations; to ban flights by combat aircraft over the security zone

Ah, Kiev has consented to not get rid of the separatists running amok in the Donbas, i.e. they're not going to even try. And then there's that "self-rule" insanity, which I'll get to in a moment. But they've even agreed to not fly planes over their own airspace. Meanwhile the separatists had no planes for the Ukrainian Army Air Defense to shoot down with a Buk back in July, and as far as I am aware they still don't. Meanwhile the separatists are amorphous (and disorganised) enough to basically act as they please and pin the blame on some other local "self-defense force", which of course is what Putin has been doing the whole time. So this doesn't actually stop the separatists from doing anything while it represents a major concession for Kiev.

Quote
[They agreed to] withdraw all foreign mercenaries from the conflict zone.... The Russian ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, representing Moscow at the talks, said that "mercenaries" were fighting on both sides, and called on OSCE to oversee their removal.

A concession from the separatists, at last. But, oho, there "aren't any Russian soldiers in the Ukraine", now are they? So this means the separatists do not really have to do anything, it would seem. Because if Kiev and the West were correct the the actual implementation of this condition would mean the territories controlled by the separatist entities would be mostly empty, except for, well, civilians. But of course that's not how they see it, now do they? So nothing happens

And this same old Russian false equivalency! What mercenaries are fighting for the Ukrainian side? Actually, what actual mercenaries are involved in this conflict, for that matter. I was not under the impression that Blackwater or Executive Solutions were active in the region. Perhaps it's just a matter of translation but I could easily see this condition being ridiculously meaningless as it would seem to be and the original Russian referring to actual "mercenaries" as opposed to "foreign fighters" or something more pertinent. I mean I want to read the full text of this thing. I'm hoping it isn't as absurd as it appears to be here, but I'm expecting to find an agreement that is blackly comic in its resemblance to an exercise in how to design a treaty as lopsided as possible. I'd probably cry and laugh.
94  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: September 20, 2014, 11:40:58 am
So what's this? They've just surrendered? I mean they've promised to give "self-rule" to the occupied regions, promised to stop even flying planes in the region, and just totally cave in completely with the rebels only bound by a completely hollow pledge to remove "foreign mercenaries" from the region. I mean for Christ's sake, Kuchma was representing Kiev. Kuchma!

I mean I couldn't entirely believe what I was reading. The only logical explanation would be there's been some sort of internal coup (by who?) that we are unaware of. It's just so unbelievably sudden.

I mean I can't believe I'm saying this but I can understand, at least after this, why people would support the far-right fronts in Ukraine. Their government has completely and suddenly capitulated. Putin has unambiguously won.
95  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Elections / Re: How many dissertations has Adam Griffin posted on this board? on: September 20, 2014, 09:49:00 am
They don't seem to have even persuaded DemPGH, considering he just appointed you, a member of the TPP cabal, a member of the government! Clearly the President does take us TPPers to be as nefarious as the Chairman of the Central Committee of the Labor Party of Atlasia takes us to be.
96  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Condoleezza's home state on: September 20, 2014, 09:16:35 am
She has a good shot of one day becoming President... of Stanford.
97  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Update for Everyone II - Less Boring, More Whoring on: September 20, 2014, 02:40:38 am
I rushed that post because someone seemingly came through so I went to talk to him. I'd say he was way too high to provide meaningful insights but his constant intonation of "just relax" was not terribly different from what anyone else would have been able to tell me, I think...

Again no one should feel obligated to read any of this.
98  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Regional Governments / Re: PA: The Second amendment act. on: September 19, 2014, 11:49:23 pm
If you are proposing the amendment I wrote, you have to see if there are any objections. The Rules of Order don't specify how long you have to wait for objections to be made, which is an oversight that should be corrected, but use your good judgment. If no one objects you may adopt the amendment.  Otherwise you would hold a 24 hour long vote. You may at your discretion continue debate without an additional motion for a maximum of 72, which would means we can continue until 8:30 on Saturday before you would have to make a motion to extend debate.
99  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Mozambique presidential and parliamentary elections - 15 October 2014 on: September 19, 2014, 09:57:27 pm
Guebuza came to speak here last year. The most uninspiring world leader out of all of those I've gone to listen to over the past three years (well, two I suppose- they're all coming next week). I mean not only was he just bad at the speaking thing (and not because it was translated, Macky Sall gave a perfectly good speech in French), the things he was talking about were just completely uninteresting. Like at one point he talked about how the government was giving some pitiful sum, something like $120,000 or so, to each district or whatnot for infrastructure improvements. It might not have even been a six-figure number. Were we supposed to be impressed by this?

I mean even John Mahama came last year and gave a speech of sufficient quality to make me question whether I my opinion of his being an incompetent was justified. (It was.) I mean, if as hapless a leader like John Mahama can give a good speech and this guy is dull enough to make me leave early, I'm led to be at least quite skeptical about the ability of FRELIMO to develop the country and such.

This is an impression that what my friend from Mozambique has told me has done nothing to dispel. And this is coming from a (white) guy who grew up in a town in the north, not Maputo or whatnot, so it's not some cloistered angle as you get with a lot of international students, especially expats. (I actually remember when I first met him, and he told me he lived in Mozambique, I said "well you must be from Maputo", which he was not. "Then you must be from Beira," which he also was not. At that point I gave up, because that was the extent of my knowledge and I was baffled as to where in Mozambique this American guy would have lived.)
100  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: If you don't think you have any racial prejudices, you better watch this video on: September 19, 2014, 09:34:35 pm
I haven't actually watched the video, but I was immensely relieved to see that the link was to Clickhole as opposed to some dreadful place.
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