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Posted on November 28th, 2009 at 11:22 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


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  1. b’tard…I am so totally throwing out that shirt now!

Prosecuting American ‘War Crimes’

Posted on November 28th, 2009 at 11:19 by John Sinteur in category: News


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed “great regret” in August that the U.S. is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This has fueled speculation that the Obama administration may reverse another Bush policy and sign up for what could lead to the trial of Americans for war crimes in The Hague.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, though, has no intention of waiting for Washington to submit to the court’s authority. Luis Moreno Ocampo says he already has jurisdiction—at least with respect to Afghanistan.

Because Kabul in 2003 ratified the Rome Statute—the ICC’s founding treaty—all soldiers on Afghan territory, even those from nontreaty countries, fall under the ICC’s oversight, Mr. Ocampo told me. And the chief prosecutor says he is already conducting a “preliminary examination” into whether NATO troops, including American soldiers, fighting the Taliban may have to be put in the dock.

“We have to check if crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide have been committed in Afghanistan,” Mr. Ocampo told me. “There are serious allegations against the Taliban and al Qaeda and serious allegations about warlords, even against some who are connected with members of the government.” Taking up his inquiry of Allied soldiers, he added, “there are different reports about problems with bombings and there are also allegations about torture.”

It was clear who the targets of these particular inquiries are but the chief prosecutor shied away from spelling it out.

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Eid al-Adha and the Hajj, 2009 – The Big Picture

Posted on November 28th, 2009 at 10:45 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


Today, November 27th, marks the beginning of 2009’s Eid al-Adha, the Muslim “Festival of Sacrifice”, commemorating the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son to God. Muslims around the world will celebrate by slaughtering animals to commemorate God’s gift of a ram to substitute for Abraham’s son, distributing the meat amongst family, friends and the poor. Eid al-Adha also takes place immediately after the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca that is a pillar of Islamic Faith. Some 2.5 million Muslim faithful from all over the world descended on Mecca this year, many encountering an unusual occurance: heavy flooding due to recent torrential rains. Collected below are photographs from this year’s Hajj and observance of Eid al-Adha. (38 photos total)

Muslim pilgrims on their way to throw pebbles at a stone pillar representing the devil, during the Hajj pilgrim in Mina near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. The last stage of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, the symbolic stoning of the devil, began on Friday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #

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Posted on November 28th, 2009 at 10:30 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


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  1. typo in title

  2. Oops. Thanks, fixed.

Taxing the Speculators

Posted on November 28th, 2009 at 10:27 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


Should we use taxes to deter financial speculation? Yes, say top British officials, who oversee the City of London, one of the world’s two great banking centers. Other European governments agree — and they’re right.


Such a tax would be a trivial expense for people engaged in foreign trade or long-term investment; but it would be a major disincentive for people trying to make a fast buck (or euro, or yen) by outguessing the markets over the course of a few days or weeks. It would, as Tobin said, “throw some sand in the well-greased wheels” of speculation.


This would be a bad thing if financial hyperactivity were productive. But after the debacle of the past two years, there’s broad agreement — I’m tempted to say, agreement on the part of almost everyone not on the financial industry’s payroll — with Mr. Turner’s assertion that a lot of what Wall Street and the City do is “socially useless.” And a transactions tax could generate substantial revenue, helping alleviate fears about government deficits. What’s not to like?

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  1. On first glimpse, it does sound like a very good idea. But I see two big obstacles in implementing such a tax:

    a) Such a tax needs to be introduced internationally. Otherwise, speculative capital (which is one of the most mobile things on earth) would flee immediately to exchanges where this tax is not enforced.
    b) We are dealing here with some of the most cunning and savvy people in the world. Speculators are trained to spot every possible opportunity; they are known to find every possible loophole. Example: Last year, a lot of countries introduced temporary bans on short-selling. More or less immediately financial speculators found ways to ‘simulate’ short-selling by inventing yet another shady ‘financial product’.

    Another example for point b): Britain is one of the few countries which charge “stamp duty tax”, which is effectively a tax on trading stocks. The effect was that in Britain the so-called “CFDs” were invented around 10 years ago. CFDs are unregulated financial products; these kind of things which Warren Buffet once called “Weapons of financial mass destruction”.

    So my point is: Such a tax would make trading on the official, regulated markets very unattractive. The big danger might be that speculative capital would flee to other, shady ‘markets’ outside of government oversight, where speculative activity might inflict even bigger damages.

  2. I don’t think it is a good idea.
    First you don’t know when an investment is speculative:
    A farmer has an estimate of how much wheat is going to produce in one month, so he enters in a contract to sell wheat in a month to a predefined price today with another party. The farmer knows today how much his wheat is worth in a month today.
    For example, the other party could be a speculator or a food firm.
    The speculator thinks that the price of wheat is going to rise in a month so he agrees with the farmer to buy the wheat at that price.
    A food firm is concerned that the wheat price might rise so it takes the contract will buy the wheat to the farmer in a month.
    The speculator does not harm system, in order to be an speculative investment there must be another counterparty willing to take the other position of the contract.
    An speculator might be useful to a non speculator.

    However, I think that there are two problems with investmens, people doesn’t know what they are buying and sellers also might not know what they are selling. There are severals examples like Madoff scandal, subprime crisis…

    In my oppinion what is needed is more education for understanding what a mortage means, how does the stock works, what it is a Treasury bond, more important what are the obligations and rights that you buy/sell with an investment and who is the other party that is going to fullfill the contract.

    Also it is important to keep in mind that nobody buys a dollar for ten dollars and always be cautious.

    My last point is that this kind of taxes are taxes against the small investor, the other investors known very well how to move the money to avoid these taxes.

It’s caturday, so here you go….

Posted on November 28th, 2009 at 10:17 by John Sinteur in category: Funny!

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A morally bankrupt dictatorship built by slave labour

Posted on November 28th, 2009 at 10:05 by John Sinteur in category: News


Dubai is finally financially bankrupt – but it has been morally bankrupt all along. The idea that Dubai is an oasis of freedom on the Arabian peninsular is one of the great lies of our time.

Yes, it has Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts and the Gucci styles, but beneath these accoutrements, there is a dictatorship built by slaves.

If you go there with your eyes open – as I did earlier this year – the truth is hidden in plain view. The tour books and the bragging Emiratis will tell you the city was built by Sheikh Mohammed, the country’s hereditary ruler.

It is untrue. The people who really built the city can be seen in long chain-gangs by the side of the road, or toiling all day at the top of the tallest buildings in the world, in heat that Westerners are told not to stay in for more than 10 minutes. They were conned into coming, and trapped into staying.

In their home country – Bangladesh or the Philippines or India – these workers are told they can earn a fortune in Dubai if they pay a large upfront fee. When they arrive, their passports are taken from them, and they are told their wages are a tenth of the rate they were promised.

They end up working in extremely dangerous conditions for years, just to pay back their initial debt. They are ringed-off in filthy tent-cities outside Dubai, where they sleep in weeping heat, next to open sewage. They have no way to go home. And if they try to strike for better conditions, they are beaten by the police.

I met so many men in this position I stopped counting, just as the embassies were told to stop counting how many workers die in these conditions every year after they figured it topped more than 1,000 among the Indians alone.

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Loop the Loop

Posted on November 28th, 2009 at 10:01 by John Sinteur in category: awesome

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Church offers official apology

Posted on November 28th, 2009 at 9:52 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


Members of one of America’s oldest Protestant churches officially apologized Friday — for the first time — for massacring and displacing American Indians 400 years ago.

“We consumed your resources, dehumanized your people and disregarded your culture, along with your dreams, hopes and great love for this land,” the Rev. Robert Chase told descendants from both sides. “With pain, we, the Collegiate Church, remember our part in these events.”

The minister spoke at a reconciliation ceremony of the Lenape tribe with the Collegiate Church, started in 1628 in then-New Amsterdam as the Reformed Dutch Church.

Why does it take a religion always multiple centuries to admit a mistake?

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  1. Because that way they can be ok with thinking the apology itself is enough. I mean, we’re not talking about actually selling off assets and giving the proceeds to the poor or anything like that. Standing up there reciting some words off a couple of cue cards more than makes up for genocide, amirite?