Facebook to ban two white nationalist groups


Megan Jelinger/Anadolu Agency

❝ Facebook will no longer allow Red Ice TV and Affirmative Right to use its platform, following a Guardian report on the continued presence of prominent white nationalist organizations on the site eight months after a promised ban.

A Facebook spokesperson said on Tuesday that the company has now determined that Red Ice TV and Affirmative Right violate its policy against “organized hate”. The ban will include the pages of the Red Ice TV hosts Lana Lokteff and Henrik Palmgren, as well as their internet radio show, Radio3Fourteen…

❝ YouTube banned Red Ice in October for repeated violations of its ban on hate speech.

❝ Facebook has for years failed to proactively police its site for hate groups and white supremacists, despite a longstanding ban on “hate”. As white nationalist terrorist attacks rose around the world, the company maintained a policy distinction between white supremacism and white nationalism until March of this year, when it finally agreed to ban white nationalist content. The company still allows Holocaust denial content, though it says that it works to prevent such content from spreading…

What? Did you think foot-dragging was wholly-owned by the Republican Party. The only part that surprises me is these dilettantes of democracy believe folks angry over backdoor support for bigots will simply forget about them after a while.

Oklahoma finally orders wastewater wells shut down after earthquake


Click to enlargeDavid Bitton/AP

Steve Gibson, of Pawnee, takes photos of damage

❝ Oklahoma officials have ordered 37 wastewater disposal wells shut down after a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the state on Saturday, equal to the strongest in the state’s history.

Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency after the earthquake, which caused damage to buildings around north-central Oklahoma and could be felt as far away as Dallas and Chicago…

❝ The Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered the shutdown of wastewater wells in a radius of about 500 square miles around the epicenter of the earthquake. “We estimate that at any one time, there are about 3,200 active disposal wells,” commission spokesman Matt Skinner said.

❝ Five months ago, US officials warned Oklahoma that the wastewater wells used for natural gas drilling were linked to an increase in earthquakes in the state, parts of which are now as likely to suffer tremors as northern California. There are about 4,200 total wells across the state and about 700 in a 15,000-square-mile “area of interest” in the area that includes the epicenter of Saturday’s temblor, near Pawnee…

❝ An increase in magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes in Oklahoma has been linked to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production, and since 2013, the commission has asked wastewater-well owners to reduce disposal volumes in parts of the state where the temblors have been most frequent.

Disaster is about the only way to get the attention of the latest flavor of conservative politicians. Now that seawater is often knee-deep in coastal cities, Republican mayors begin to “recognize” that climate science really does apply to the United States. The same is beginning to happen to Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats in states dependent upon fossil fuel barons for a significant chunk of their budget.

19th Century minds are occasionally dragged into reality. Especially when it hurts.

Italy starts taxing Catholic Church — when will the US?

Italy’s Catholic Church will be forced to pay taxes starting in 2013 after the EU pressured the country’s government to pass a controversial law stripping the Church of its historic property tax exemption.

The Catholic Church in Italy is excluded from paying taxes on its land if at least a part of a Church property is used non-commercially – for instance, a chapel in a bed-and-breakfast. “The regulatory framework will be definite by January 1, 2013 – the start of the fiscal year – and will fully respect the [European] Community law,” Italian premier Mario Monti’s government said in a statement…

The move could net Italy revenues of 500 million to 2 billion euros annually across the country, municipal government associations said. The extra income from previously exempt properties in Rome alone – including hotels, restaurants and sports centres – could reach 25.5 million euros a year…

The measure came after the country’s leadership decided in February to alter Italy’s property tax code, ending the Church’s longstanding privileges due to the severe debt crisis.

Last December, after new austerity measures were adopted in the country, 130,000 Italians signed an online petition urging the government to strip the Church of its tax exemption.

“It was time that they paid, too, with all the exemptions they’ve had throughout the years,” Marco Catalano, a 35-year-old shopkeeper in Rome, told the New York Times in February, adding that he goes to church twice a month. “They own the most beautiful buildings in downtown Rome, on Italian soil, and rent them out at market prices…

Overdue. Not only in Italy. Not only regarding the Catholic Church.

Living in a nation with a constitution requiring separation of church and state, it is truly absurd that we still don’t collect property taxes, business taxes on the money-making, profit-generating properties owned by religious institutions.

Global coffee – India’s first Starbucks have waiting lines


Photograph: Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images

During the past 10 days, sweaty queues of up to 50 people have formed outside an old colonial building in downtown Mumbai, while a security guard operates a one-in-one-out policy. These hopefuls are not trying to get into an edgy new nightclub or shake hands with a visiting politician. They are waiting for up to an hour to go to Starbucks. “There’s excitement among everyone,” said Akhil Somani, a 27-year-old financial adviser, as he stood in line last weekend. “We have our own coffee brands but this one has had a lot of hype.”

Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, opened its first branch in India on 19 October. Two more branches – including one in Mumbai’s famous Taj Mahal Palace hotel, which has likewise seen dozens of people queuing for a frappuccino – opened last week. With more than 17,600 branches in 61 countries, it is perhaps surprising that the Seattle-based company has only just arrived in India. It entered China in 1999 and has around 600 outlets there.

India is the home of chai, sugary and milky tea ladled into tumblers at street stalls for around five rupees. However, as Indians’ disposable incomes rise, cafes are cropping up in large cities. The country’s cafe sector is worth $230 million, up from $40 million five years ago, according to a report by Technopak, an Indian consultancy. Cafe Coffee Day, a no-frills homegrown chain, dominates the market. The UK’s Costa Coffee and the US’s The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf also have a small presence.

The appearance of Starbucks, whose Mumbai branches offer paneer wraps as well as blueberry muffins, also reflects India’s increasingly international malls and high streets. More western chains are expected to open branches here in the near future, after constraints on foreign investment were loosened this autumn.

India’s coalition government, led by the Congress party, in September relaxed rules on local sourcing for foreign “single-brand retailers” – shops that sell items belonging to one brand. Last November, it scrapped rules stating that such retailers needed to partner with a local company. Following these reforms, Ikea this month applied to open around 25 outlets. Starbucks has entered India through an $80m joint venture with Tata, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates, having worked on this deal before the rules changed…

Opposition parties and independent shopkeepers have held protests in response to the retail reforms. Yet many customers hope foreign brands will result in more choice and better quality, as local businesses will have to fight to retain clients. “More competition is good for the customer,” said Somani as he finally managed to enter Starbucks, only to join another queue for the counter.

Politicians who think they’re doing a nation’s economy a favor by keeping out foreign investment are fools. They may garner a few more votes among superpatriots or business ignoranuses. They restrain expansion from investors bringing something as simple as a new outlook to the economy.

And then there are those who would like to introduce even more barriers to foreign investment. They would enjoy nothing more than dragging our own tawdry economy into a trade war, protect a few personal investments – well, investments made “personal” by lobbyists – in the name of national security. Yup. Our unemployed feel lots more secure when foreign investors are prevented from putting a few bucks into a business in the GOUSA.

Child Nutrition Bill finally clears Congress

Congress gave final approval on Thursday to a child nutrition bill that expands the school lunch program and sets new standards to improve the quality of school meals, with more fruits and vegetables.

Michelle Obama lobbied for the bill as a way to combat obesity and hunger…Mrs. Obama said she was thrilled by passage of what she described as a groundbreaking piece of legislation.

By a vote of 264 to 157, the House on Thursday passed the bill, which was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent in August. It goes now to President Obama, who intends to sign it.

On the final roll call, 247 Democrats and 17 Republicans voted for the bill. Four Democrats and 153 Republicans voted no…

Democrats and a few Republicans praised Mrs. Obama. “She has been an incredible champion for our children, particularly in the areas of nutrition and obesity,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts.

Mr. McGovern, who is co-chairman of the House Hunger Caucus, said: “Hunger and obesity are two sides of the same coin. Highly processed, empty-calorie foods are less expensive than fresh nutritious foods.”

School meal programs have a major impact on the nation’s health, and supporters of the bill said it could reduce the prevalence of obesity among children. The lunch program feeds more than 31 million children a day.

You can RTFA if you think you need to discover why Republicans and Blue-Dog dipshits opposed the bill. We don’t need the federal government blah-blah-blah, parents rule their children’s precious lives blah-blah-blah God’s will.

Meanwhile, it’s a start to kicking out the fat and sugar-ridden crap that has wormed its profitable slimy way into the arteries of every school system in America over the past three or four decades.

Bloody Sunday killings ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’

The Bloody Sunday killings were unjustified and unjustifiable, the Prime Minster has said.

Thirteen marchers were shot dead on 30 January 1972 in Londonderry when British paratroopers opened fire on crowds at a civil rights demonstration.

Fourteen others were wounded, one later died. The Saville Report is heavily critical of the Army and found that soldiers fired the first shot…

A huge cheer erupted in Guildhall Square in Derry as Mr Cameron delivered the findings which unequivocally blamed the Army for one of the most controversial days in Northern Ireland’s history.

In 1972, the fracking BBC still called the town Londonderry.

BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said the decision whether or not to prosecute the soldiers would not be straightforward.

There needed to be sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction – not an easy test after 38 years.

“If any defendent believes that the passage of time makes a fair trial impossible, they could argue the prosecution was an abuse of process,” our correspondent said.

“Any prosecutions would also need to be judged to be in the public interest.”

RTFA. “The public interest” has been the excuse used for decades of cover-up. Not that political opportunism, lies and deceit are something new in the history of British imperialism.

Or the American flavor of the same disease.

Wii supply has finally caught up to demand


Daylife/Reuters Pictures

GameStop, the leading boutique video game retailer in the U.S., finally has enough supply of Nintendo Wii consoles on store shelves to satisfy consumers who want to simply walk in the store and pick one up. In an interview with Gamastura, GameStop Senior Vice President of Merchandising Bob McKenzie told the publication that his company waited almost three years for this to happen.

“Three years later, we finally have enough inventory on the shelf, and we’ve got a couple of weeks in supply,” he told Gamasutra.

Wow. No longer do potential buyers need to wait in line, call GameStop to find out if Wiis are available, or search elsewhere for a stray console. The Wii is just available.

Remember when the Wii was first announced? It was April 2006. Everyone was expecting Nintendo’s secret new console to be called
Revolution. And then, in what would become a joke for months, Nintendo announced that its new console would be called “Wii.”

Nintendo listened to the jokes about the name, and probably expected them, but kept pressing on until the console was shown to journalists and gamers–who became believers.

And that was the first step in Nintendo’s dominance over this generation.

Unless you’ve been living in the basement with your Playstation or XBox for the last three years, now you know – Nintendo is back in a big way.

Ahead of schedule, Circuit City stores closing Sunday night


Daylife/Getty Images

Circuit City will disappear from the retail landscape by Sunday night. All of the retailer’s remaining 500-plus stores will close by then, ending an era for a chain that began in a small downtown Richmond storefront in 1949 and later became the nation’s largest consumer-electronics chain…

A consortium of four liquidating companies has been conducting going-out-of-business sales since mid-January at Circuit City’s 567 U.S. stores. They were selling off the Henrico County-based chain’s remaining $1billion-plus worth of inventory at reduced prices. The group initially thought the stores would close by late March, but sales have gone better than expected, Circuit City spokesman Bill Cimino said.

About 70 stores already have closed, he said…

The demise of Circuit City will flood the commercial real estate market with about 22 million square feet of retail space at more than 600 locations nationwide.

They weren’t very sharp. They rarely paid for competent help. They relied on discount pricing to turn the inventory. But, then, there probably is a spot in the marketplace for stores just like that.

When folks can afford to buy stuff.