Namibian delegation to return Herero skulls from Germany

A Namibian delegation left for Germany on Sunday to reclaim about 20 human skulls used by colonial-era scientists who sought to prove the racial superiority of whites over blacks.

Namibia’s Herero ethnic group, incensed by German settlers stealing their land, cattle and women, launched an uprising against their colonial rulers in January 1904.

Around 300 skulls were taken from the Herero and ethnic Nama who died in German-run prison camps over the four-year conflict, according to some estimates. Many are still stored at the Medical History Museum at the Charite teaching hospital in Berlin.

“We are finally bringing our ancestors and heroes back home,” Herero Chief Kuiama Riruako said before departing for the airport…We will perform traditional rites as we arrive on German soil Monday morning and when we receive the skulls,” he said…

In the days after launching their uprising 107 years ago, Herero warriors massacred about 200 German civilians and were quickly met with a ruthless response from the German forces…

General Lothar von Trotha, who was under the direct command of Kaiser Wilhelm II in Berlin, later issued a notorious “extermination order.”

The figures for the total Herero population alive at the time range from 50,000 to 80,000.

It is estimated that tens of thousands were butchered, with only some 15,000 surviving when the campaign ended in 1907. Many historians called the killings the first genocide of the 20th century.

But, then, I guess you all learned about this in the Colonial Africa section of your school studies about modern world history. Right?

Woman gets 13-euro tax bill 60 years after grand-dad’s death

A Frenchwoman found proof of the maxim that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes, when she received a bill in the name of a grandfather who died in 1949.

“I didn’t think I’d hear any more about my grandfather, whom I never knew,” Martine Courtois told AFP, after reading the 13-euro land inheritance tax bill addressed to her grandfather, Pierre Barotte.

“Everything was done legally at the time, we didn’t get any demands from the tax office,” said Courtois, who lives in the small eastern town of Bruyeres.

The local tax office said the situation was entirely normal and “happens all the time” when an unpaid tax debt, through interest or late payment fees, goes beyond 12 euros. “The day the money due goes over this threshold, the machine gets going,” a tax spokesman told AFP, asking not to be named…

Courtois has not paid the bill and instead sent a letter to the tax office: “My grandfather died in 1949, please do what’s necessary.”

I was looking around to see if there was a more detailed version of this tale. Ended up returning to this publication of the AFP release in the Telegraph. I thought about explaining what happened – and then read the comments from typical Kool Aid Party-types whose presumption always is that someone in government bears individual responsibility.

It’s nothing more than leaving silly old rules on the books as times change. Doesn’t make it less funny. But it certainly doesn’t make it a socialist plot. Even in France.

No bureaucratic decisions are required. Just people following rules which predate modern tax law even more than they predate the introduction of the Euro.

Though it does seem to give patent-leather-libertarians an opportunity to vent their spleen. A recurrent image in a world containing politicians like Ron Paul.

Discharged Gay military continue lawsuit over half-pay policy


Daylife/AP PHoto used by permission

The policy is gone, but the lawsuits continue. Two days after the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell“, lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union were in United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington Thursday arguing on behalf of service members who say they received only half their separation pay when they were discharged for their sexuality.

The lead plaintiff is a former Air Force staff sergeant, Richard Collins, who served nine years before two civilian co-workers observed him exchanging a kiss with his civilian boyfriend and reported it to his superiors. When he received an honorable discharge under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” his separation pay was half what it should have been…

According to a statement by the A.C.L.U., “Federal law entitles service members to separation pay if they have been involuntarily discharged from the military after completing at least six years of service. But in 1991, the Defense Department adopted an internal policy that automatically cuts a former service member’s separation pay in half if the service member is discharged because of ‘homosexuality.’”

The A.C.L.U. said that the half-pay policy was enacted before “don’t ask, don’t tell” was passed, and so was not changed when that law was repealed. The group said the Defense Department can change the policy on its own, without congressional approval.

The government has asked the court to dismiss the case…proving once again that the Pentagon not only doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution it is supposed to be fighting for – our military executives couldn’t care less about the rights of members of the armed forces who have served loyally and diligently.

Beancounters are the same everywhere. Saving a buck while screwing individuals is OK in their book.

Traveling zoo’s crocodile turns orange — WTF?


 
A crocodile, known as Snappy, who lives in the city of Geelong, near the Australian city of Melbourne, has suddenly and unexpectedly turned orange.

The eight foot saltwater crocodile began to turn an interesting shade of orange, causing his keeper Tracy Sandstrom, who runs a mobile reptile display called Roaming Reptiles, to fear for his health.

“I thought he was really sick. I thought he was dying,” said Ms Sandstrom.

It turned out the crocodile, who sleeps in a heated bath at night, had been chewing on the water pipes, damaging the filter. This caused the filter to stop working and pH levels in the water to rise.

Experts believe red algae or tannins from fallen leaves which would normally have stayed out of his water due to the filter managed to get in, which combined with the raised pH led to the change in his colour.

In time he should return to his natural green colour.

“There’s no change in his behaviour, his aggression, his territorialism. He’s still a really nasty crocodile,” said Ms Sandstrom.

Har!

No. I do not want one. Even if he had a clock in his belly.

Arizona schools say they’re getting rid of accent police!


Arizona wanted her to stop teaching English because she has an accent

Ms. Aguayo is a veteran teacher in the Creighton Elementary School District in central Phoenix as well an immigrant from northern Mexico who learned English as an adult and taught it as a second language. Confronted about her accent by her school principal several years ago, Ms. Aguayo took a college acting class, saw a speech pathologist and consulted with an accent reduction specialist, none of which transformed her speech.

As Ms. Aguayo has struggled, though, something else has changed. Arizona, after almost a decade of sending monitors to classrooms across the state to check on teachers’ articulation, recently made a sharp about-face on the issue. A federal investigation of possible civil rights violations prompted the state to call off its accent police.

“To my knowledge, we have not seen policies like this in other states,” Russlynn H. Ali, the assistant federal secretary of education for civil rights, said in an interview. She called it “good news” that Arizona had altered its policy.

Silverio Garcia Jr., who runs a barebones organization called the Civil Rights Center out of his Phoenix-area home to challenge discrimination, was the one who pressed the accent issue. In May 2010, he filed a class-action complaint with the federal Department of Education alleging that teachers had been unfairly transferred and students denied educations with those teachers. The Justice Department joined the inquiry, but federal investigators closed Mr. Garcia’s complaint in late August after the state agreed to alter its policies.

“This was one culture telling another culture that you’re not speaking correctly,” Mr. Garcia said….

But the federal review found that the state had written up teachers for pronouncing “the” as “da,” “another” as “anuder” and “lives here” as “leeves here…”

In the Creighton Elementary School District, where about a dozen teachers attracted the attention of the state monitors, an accent reduction specialist, Andy Krieger, was brought in from Canada last year. Mr. Krieger, who has taught actors, business executives and others from around the world to speak American English, said some of the teachers had what he considered heavy accents…

It was Ms. Aguayo’s principal and not the state monitors who first questioned her accent and suggested that she join Mr. Krieger’s class, Ms. Aguayo said. Because she was told that state policy forbade her to teach students who were learning English, she has filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

I have the same credentials as everyone else, and I don’t think it’s fair that I’m being singled out,” Ms. Aguayo said, adding that her school has teachers with a variety of regional American accents. “I know I have an accent. It’s been hard to get rid of it. I think I’ll always have it…”

Arizona is still the Mississippi of the West. The bigots-in-charge decided the best way to maintain political control of the state is to inhibit any and all opportunities for non-Anglos to advance. Indios or Hispanics, it doesn’t matter. Even if you collaborate you are suspect. Your children are suspect. Have an accent? You are suspect.

The drill is designed to keep whole generations from feeling they have a chance to change anything. So, make certain schoolkids see that if their teachers don’t fit the Anglo mold – they will be dumped. An object lesson for how to fit into Arizona society.

Bisexual and promiscuous – calamari!

Scientists have gained a rare glimpse into the sex life of the mysterious deep-sea squid.

By studying footage taken by underwater vehicles, US researchers have found that this rarely seen creature will often engage in same-sex mating. They believe this is because encounters with potential mates in the dark depths are rare, and the squid may be unable to tell the sexes apart…

The species that was observed is called Octopoteuthis deletron, a tentacled beast that measures about 12cm-long with impressive hook-lined arms…

Until now, little was known about this creature’s sex life, apart from the fact that the male uses a long, penis-like organ to deposit spermatophores, complex structures containing millions of sperm, onto a female, which are then absorbed into her tissue. But by studying footage of this deep-sea squid, they were able to find out much more.

Lead author Hendrik Hoving, from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), explained: “We did not observe two animals mating, but we found evidence of mating – sperm packages on males and females…

The researchers found equal numbers of female and male squid that had had sperm packages deposited on them, indicating that same-sex mating was as frequent as encounters between squid of the opposite sex.

The number of sperm packages that had been deposited also suggested that these animals were promiscuous, the researchers said…

“We suggest that same-sex mating behaviour by O. deletron is part of a reproductive strategy that maximises success by inducing males to indiscriminately and swiftly inseminate every squid that they encounter.”

Hey – at least they’re not intimidated by social class.Or size.