Saturday, June 26, 2010

Comedian and new mayor Jon Gnarr spoofs politics in Reykjavik

It’s made an impact - The Best Party won the local elections on 29 May with 34.7% of the vote! We talk to party number two Einar Orn Benediktsson, a former singer and trumpet player who has collaborated with Björk and the Sugarcubes

He’s more powerful than Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo’s Vaffanculo Day (‘Fuck You Day’), better than Horst Schlammer’s public sun-beds in Germany or Gaspard Delanoe’s proposed Parisian transport network - as part of his 2008 mayoral campaign - of travelling in hot air balloons over the city. With a party claimed to be the ‘Best’, founded in December 2009, Iceland’s most popular actor Jon Gnarr proposes that Reykjavik’s inhabitants will have a white bear in their zoo and free towels in their local swimming baths, amongst others. We speak to the vice president of the party, Einar Orn Benediktsson. What promises have you made to the people of Reykjavik?

Einar Orn Benediktsson: Number one on our agenda is to make Reykjavik an enjoyable place, where people know how to have fun. We are also going to pay particular attention to environmental issues and do everything we can to make politics ‘cleaner’. But above all, we have promised the people of Reykjavik new hope. Have you used traditional methods of communication?

Einar Orn Benediktsson: We’ve used the internet a lot. All the Best Party members sang our manifesto to a cover of Tina Turner’s Simply the Best.

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Xeer, pronounced [ħeːr], is the polycentric legal system of Somalia. Under this system, elders serve as judges and help mediate cases using precedents. It is a good example of how customary law works within a stateless society and is a fair approximation of what is thought of as natural law. Several scholars have noted that even though Xeer may be centuries old, it has the potential to serve as the legal system of a modern, well-functioning economy.

According to one report, the Somali nation did not begin with the common use of the Somali language by the clans but rather with the collective observance of Xeer. Xeer is thus referred to as being both the father and child of the Somali nation. An analogous phenomenon is said to have occurred among the neighbouring Oromo nation, which is now under Ethiopian rule.

Under Xeer, there is no authority that dictates what the law should be. The law is instead discovered by judges as they determine the best way to resolve a dispute. As such, the Somali nation by tradition is a stateless society; that is, Somalis have never accepted the authority of any central government, their own or any other. nUnder Xeer law, Somalia forms a kritarchy and conforms in many respects to natural law. The lack of a central governing authority means that there is a slight variation in the interpretation of Xeer amongst different communities. The laws that are widely accepted are called "xeer guud" and those particular to a specific community are referred to as "xeer tolnimo".

As with law systems in Western states, the Xeer legal system also demands a certain amount of specialization of different functions within the legal framework. Thus, one can find odayal (judges), xeer boggeyaal (jurists), guurtiyaal (detectives), garxajiyaal (attorneys), murkhaatiyal (witnesses) and waranle (police officers) to enforce the law.

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The World According to Monsanto

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Paris hosts cyber-shelter for battered bloggers

Paris-based media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders on Thursday launched a virtual "anti-censorship shelter" to protect bloggers around the world from repressive authorities.

The group (RSF) unveiled a room in its Paris headquarters set aside for fugitive journalists or bloggers from abroad to drop in and blog with secure Internet connections using software that masks their online identity.

The project also offers to provide carefully selected bloggers in other countries with free access to secure, anonymous online connections to make it harder for authorities to pursue them for their work.

"This will allow them to connect to the Internet securely, to help them continue their work as bloggers," the secretary general of RSF Jean-Francois Julliard told AFP at the launch of what he called the "virtual shelter."

He admitted that determined governments could find ways round the masked Internet addresses, but said the project could still help responsible bloggers avoid arrest -- a trend which RSF says is on the rise.

"If the CIA or other government agencies like that want to get round it they can, but this will make things much more difficult," Julliard said.

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Berkeley clears controversial researcher of charges over HIV paper

The University of California at Berkeley has cleared Peter H. Duesberg, a biologist there, of charges of wrongdoing stemming from a journal article in which he and another researcher wrote that there is no proof that HIV causes AIDS. The university's vice provost for academic affairs and faculty welfare, Sheldon Zedeck, told Mr. Duesberg in a letter sent last month that the university was not judging the validity of the article, which had been published in the journal Medical Hypotheses and later withdrawn. But, Mr. Zedeck said, officials there have insufficient evidence to pursue any disciplinary action over charges that Mr. Duesberg had violated the faculty code of conduct, and had determined his statements in Medical Hypotheses were "protected under the umbrella of academic freedom." Two formal complaints filed with the university in connection with the article had accused Mr. Duesberg of making false claims and failing to disclose a co-author's conflict of interest. Mr. Duesberg's assertions that HIV does not cause AIDS have made him a controversial figure on the campus and elsewhere and have been blamed for slowing down South Africa's response to HIV.

~ The Chronicle of Higher Education ~

Musical Innerlube: Pink Floyd - Careful With That Axe Eugene

Secret history of the Volkswagen

Aus Liebe zum Automobil
(For Love of the Car)
Adolf Hitler, the future leader of Germany, sketched the drawing you see above in the summer of 1932, while enjoying a hot lunch in a Munich restaurant. The former artist, while contemplating ways to set Germany on a modern course, was inspired by his admiration for American auto-maker (and anti-Semite) Henry Ford to formulate an ingenious plan: To reduce unemployment, a massive program of public works would build the worlds first super-highway, the Autobahn, providing the Reich with a modern infrastructure. To stimulate German industry, it was necessary to develop a car the average German could actually afford to own. Hitler would eventually give his drawing to the head of Daimler-Benz, Jakob Werlin, telling him: "Take it with you and speak with people who understand more about it than I do. But don't forget it. I want to hear from you soon about the technical details." Note: The exact provenance for this image is in some dispute.

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G20 protesters, riot police face off in Toronto

About 2,000 protesters thronged Toronto on Friday in the biggest rally yet against the G20 summit, facing off against police in riot gear just blocks from the U.S. consulate.

Activists, labor groups and other protesters demanding Group of 20 countries do more to fight poverty marched through downtown streets but were blocked by police as they neared the security zone authorities have established around the venue for the G20 summit on Saturday and Sunday.

Shouting "Let Us March!", the demonstrators held their ground as police, including officers on horseback, kept them from proceeding further. The police later said they had closed the security fence around the zone.

Canada has budgeted more than C$1 billion ($970 million) for security for the summits of the G20 and the Group of Eight rich nations, which held its meeting on Friday in Huntsville, Ontario, a resort town about two hours north of Toronto.

Nongovernmental groups have promised peaceful protests throughout the summit, seeking to highlight a range of issues including global poverty, women's rights and labor.

But previous G20 meetings have attracted violent groups intent on disrupting the meetings or fighting with police. The U.S. State Department warned Americans to avoid downtown Toronto while the summits are under way.

One labor activist, seeking to whip up enthusiasm at the start of Friday's march, urged protesters not to waver in the face of the heavy police presence in Toronto.

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Solar heating - hot shower using bottles

This movie shows a bottle heater, where the hot water is used for a shower.

All movies are available in full length at More info at

Published in cooperation with For more low-cost water and sanitation solutions, visit

Investigation confirms Wikipedia-pedophile connection

According to a exclusive investigation, inspired in part by this blog's April 20th post Wikipedophilia:

Wikipedia has become home base for a loose worldwide network of pedophiles who are campaigning to spin the popular online encyclopedia in their favor and are trying to lure more people into their world, an investigation by confirms.

Chat room posts show a clear effort by pedophiles to use Wikipedia, which can be accessed unfiltered in public schools across the country, to further their agenda. Message board posts often include links to specific Wikipedia articles that the participants say need to be edited to "normalize" pedophile behavior in the public eye and to recruit more pedophiles into their community.

“Pedophiles have campaigned to push their point of view that 'pedophilia is OK and doesn't hurt children' on Wikipedia,” says Xavier Von Erck, director of the online pedophile watchdog organization Perverted Justice Foundation and, its offshoot project devoted to tracking pedophiles and pedophile activism on Wikipedia. “This has been a problem since Wikipedia started.

A series of exposés last month resulted in a shakeup at the top levels of Wikipedia as administrators tried to deal with the growing controversy surrounding pornographic images that appear on the online encyclopedia and its associated websites.

After much pressure from within the Wikipedia community, co-founder Jimmy Wales was forced to relinquish his top-level control over the encyclopedia's content, as well as all of its parent company's projects.

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"H.M.G.'s secret pornographer"

By Sefton Delmer

My first experience of propaganda by pornography came in France during the Phony War period of 1939.
I was a war reporter with the French army in France. On one of my visits to the Maginot Line, a sniggering French Lieutenant showed me what he declared was a very clever piece of German psychological warfare. It consisted of a small picture on very thin tissue paper showing a French soldier doing his duty at the front. But if one held the picture upto the light, the scene underneath underwent a complete change. In place of the brave poilu one now saw in minute salacious detail a British Tommy fornicating with what a caption told us was the Frenchman's fiancée.

The French were of course a particularly susceptible target for this sort of thing. Especially so during the Phoney War period when the Germans and their communist helpers (the French communists as agents of Hitlers allies, put all their subversive ability into ridiculing the war) had little difficulty in persuading the browned-off French soldier that France's military effort was a stupid and reactionary waste of time.

The frontline dug-outs of the French were decorated with such descriptions as “Aux prives d'amour” ( roughly : “for those starved of love” ). I found the walls of a popotte (mess) in the Seutriche fort of the Maginot Line papered with posters showing young women whose bosoms had been lovingly enlarged with coloured chalks wielded by the soldier clients. The walls in the underground corridors of the Maginot forts were covered with so many erotic graffiti that I unkindly denounced the Maginot line as “ a fortified urinal”.

Unquestionably the morale of the troops in most of the Maginot forts I visited was poor. Discipline seemed on a par with that on the Tsarist cruiser Potemkin, before the mutiny. When an officer or a sergeant cried “Fixe” , none of the men took the slightest notice. Nor did the order “Repos!” make any difference. They just lounged and sulked.
But I would not put this sulkiness down to the effect of the German “transparencies” or the graffiti and the enlarged bosoms. The german propaganda pornography, as I saw it, was merely exploiting a situation which already existed, not creating it. I therefore doubted whether the “transparencies” prepared with such zeal by Dr Goebbel's pornographers repaid in subversive effectiveness the substantial production costs involved, not to mention the danger to the agents distributing them among the French troops.

I much preferred a simpler and in my estimation more effective exploitation of the French sex starvation complex. I saw it in operation on the German side of the Rhine near Kehl where both sides were in full view of each other.
Every evening a couple of German soldiers would stroll arm in arm with a couple of good-looking and bosomy German blondes along what must have been the old Rhine tow path. Every now and then they stopped for an elaborate display of hugging and kissing. “Necking” is I believe the technical term.

The French watching the German necking party from their side of the Rhine went pale with envy.” If the germans can have their girls up in their part of the front line”, they complained, “why the hell can't we?”
The right thing for the French to have done would have been to open fire on the Germans and force them to get out of sight. But they never did, any more than they opened fire on the german “fraternizers” crossing the Strasbourg bridge to throw cigarettes and chocolates to the French guarding the other end.

In 1939 it never occurred to me that one day my turn would come to wage war on Hitler by pornography. But sure enough that was what the fates held in store for me. Early in 1941 I joined the Psychological Warfare branch of the Foreign Office (The “Political Intelligence department” was its euphemistic title.) The late Hugh Dalton in his capacity as Minister of Economic Warfare had become interested in a German freedom station called “The Workers challenge”. It purported to be broadcasting from inside Britain and voicing the discontents of the so called working class. It had some success by using the foulest language to do so. Old ladies in Torquay and Bournemouth listened in ecstasy as the "Workers" challenged them with a stream of excremental abuse.

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'Rape in war is deliberate military strategy'

Since the Second World War, the use of rape as a weapon of war has assumed strategic importance and is now a deliberate military strategy, argue researchers.

A study in the Democratic Republic of the Congo found that 16,000 rapes occurred in 2008 alone and in South Kivu province, health centres estimate that 40 women were raped in the region daily.

In the UK, 50-70 percent of female asylum applicants were raped, witnessed rape, or have a credible fear of rape.

The effects of rape and sexual violence during war also extend beyond individual victims and are economically, physically, psychologically and culturally devastating for families and communities, say study authors Coleen Kivlahan, volunteer forensic physician for HealthRight International, and Nate Ewigman from the University of Florida.

For example, in recent conflicts, rape has been used as a reward for victory in battle, a boost to troop morale, as punishment and humiliation for both men and women, to incite revenge in opposing troops, to eliminate or "cleanse" religious or political groups and to destabilise entire communities by creating terror.

Geographical, cultural, religious, political, legal, and behavioural conditions affect the likelihood of the systematic use of rape, explain the authors.

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