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Trump Appears to Shove NATO Leader Aside for Better Position in Photos

Mother Jones

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During a meeting with fellow NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday, President Donald Trump appeared to shove Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic of Montenegro aside in order to position himself front and center for photographers.

The gesture was swiftly mocked on social media. Trump’s first visit to the Belgian capital, a city the president previously described as a “hellhole,” was already fraught with anxiety. Trump vowed to pull the United States out of NATO and repeatedly described the group as “obsolete” during the presidential campaign. Although he appeared to reverse course after meeting with the group’s secretary general in April, Trump’s commitment to NATO remained unsure.

Those apprehensions were reaffirmed Thursday: Shortly before appearing to push Dukanovic, Trump delivered a speech chastising NATO countries for failing to “meet their financial obligations”—a popular refrain from his campaign days. Keep a lookout for the faces of European leaders as Trump lectures them in the clip below:

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Trump Appears to Shove NATO Leader Aside for Better Position in Photos

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EU-Britain Divorce Will Get Started… Someday

Mother Jones

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Prime Minister Theresa May submitted an official notice today the Great Britain will be exiting the European Union:

Now that Prime Minister May has officially given notice to Tusk, the next step is to begin negotiations about the negotiations. In about a month, the UK and EU will formally sit down to come to terms on how the negotiations will work.

“Most of the formal stuff that will be agreed upon in the big meetings has already been penciled in,” Tim Oliver, an expert on the EU at the London School of Economics, tells me….Ultimately, Oliver believes, “nothing substantive” will be agreed upon until after the French presidential election in April and the German parliamentary election in late September. That’s because the French and Germans are, by far, the two most important EU member states. Without a firm sense of who their leaders will be in the coming years, it will be impossible to know what terms the EU might agree to.

In other words, nothing really happens for the next six months. And that’s totally OK because, hey, that still leaves 18 months to negotiate the biggest, messiest divorce in treaty history. Plenty of time. No need for any sense of urgency here.

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EU-Britain Divorce Will Get Started… Someday

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So About That Deal to Accept Some Refugees From Australia…

Mother Jones

Here’s the latest on President Trump’s unhappiness upon learning that the Obama administration had previously agreed to accept 1,250 Muslim asylum seekers from Australia. Note the timestamps. The statement from the US Embassy in Canberra comes at 6:15 pm (Pacific Time):

President Trump’s tweet about the deal comes an hour later:

First the US will honor the deal. Then the US president tweets that he’s going to study it.

Aside from the sheer ineptitude on public display here, this shows that, once again, Trump refuses to be briefed before calls with foreign leaders. Even a cursory memo from an area expert in the State Department would have mentioned that the refugee deal was likely to come up in his call with Prime Minister Turnbull on Saturday. But Trump was taken completely by surprise. He had no idea.


So About That Deal to Accept Some Refugees From Australia…

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A peek into the relatively sane climate debates outside the United States

Denial’s a river in D.C.

A peek into the relatively sane climate debates outside the United States

By on Jun 21, 2016 5:15 amShare

In the United States, a man with a 50-percent shot at becoming president is on record insisting climate change is a conspiracy (except when he’s on record as a flip-flopper).

By and large, though, the climate-change debate looks different outside the States.

Norwegian researcher Sondre Båtstrand last year compared conservative parties  in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, and Australia, finding that the U.S. Republican Party alone was “an anomaly in denying anthropogenic climate change.”

Even when conservative candidates argue against climate-change action in their home countries, scientific denial is rarely part of the conversation. Here’s a whirlwind tour of the climate and energy debate around the world (which is thoroughly blissful compared to U.S. politics).


While incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper was regularly criticized for his support of the tar sands sector in last October’s federal election, he wasn’t an American-styled climate denier. Even under Harper’s admittedly lax climate agenda, Canada still supported the Paris climate deal and joined other G7 nations in calling for phasing out fossil fuels by 2100.

United Kingdom

During last year’s U.K. election, climate change barely factored into the debate. But this wasn’t because of denial: It was because the leaders of the three major parties signed a joint climate pledge that would see the elected government “seek a fair, strong, legally binding, global climate deal,” agree to a carbon budget, and accelerate the transition to clean, low-carbon energy — regardless of who became Prime Minister.


As part of his re-election campaign this year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned of increasingly severe disasters fueled by climate change. Turnbull even struck a subtlety, lost on most U.S. politicians, about the relationship between extreme weather and climate change. “Certainly, larger and more frequent storms are one of the consequences that the climate models and climate scientists predict from global warming, but you cannot attribute any particular storm to global warming, so let’s be quite clear about that,” he said on a campaign tour of recently flooded Tasmania.

And Turnbull isn’t even a saint on climate change: He’s been widely criticized for inaction on climate and cutting climate science funding.

Marshall Islands

An island-nation doesn’t have the “luxury of denying climate change,” much less in the Marshall Islands, CNN wrote last year. Already squeezed by the joint threats of drought and rising seas, Marshall Islands’ politicians are more pragmatic. Recently elected President Hilda Heine was a member of the Pacific Islands Climate Change Education Partnership, and Tony de Brum, lead climate negotiator for the Marshall Islands, was instrumental in pushing for stricter temperature goal in the Paris agreement.


Economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won Peru’s tight presidential election in early June against his challenger, Keiko Fujimori. Kuczynski’s party’s plan promoted clean energy and Fujimori’s nodded to carbon-trading mechanisms. And though climate change didn’t factor heavily into election season, ignoring it is a far cry from calling it a hoax.


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A peek into the relatively sane climate debates outside the United States

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In battle over new Canadian pipeline, it’s Trudeau vs. tribes

In battle over new Canadian pipeline, it’s Trudeau vs. tribes

By on May 24, 2016Share

The ghost of the Keystone XL pipeline is hovering over every new fossil fuel project — and it’s haunting the Canadian prime minister’s office.

In the latest action against new Canadian oil and gas infrastructure, a coalition of First Nations groups publicly asserted their right to block the construction of pipelines that cross their land — and informed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that they fully intend to do just that. Led by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the group’s assertion follows a legal challenge that North Vancouver’s Tsleil-Waututh Nation filed earlier this month, which argued that the government has not sought proper consent for development projects on their lands.

In response to the tribes’ announcement, Trudeau told Reuters, “Well, communities grant permission. Does that mean you have to have unanimous support from every community? Absolutely not.”

It’s not the first time Trudeau has found himself caught in the middle of Canadian pipeline politics. Aboriginal objection is a growing element of the “Keystone-ization” of fossil fuel infrastructure in Canada. The term for the spread of opposition to major oil and gas infrastructure projects takes its name from the failed TransCanada Keystone XL project, which President Barack Obama vetoed last February.

A fitting example of Canadian Keystone-ization is Enbridge Inc.’s ever-delayed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would export diluted bitumen from northern oil sands to Asian markets, and has been blocked for years by both aboriginal and climate activists. Another is TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, which has been tied up with opposition lawsuits since 2013. 

But in terms of the strength of its opposition, the Canadian project most reminiscent of Keystone XL belongs to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project — the one most recently contested by tribes in British Columbia. It’s a proposed pipeline that would stretch 715 miles between Alberta and British Columbia, alongside the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system. The controversial project was conditionally approved by Canada’s National Energy Board last Thursday. If construction goes through, Kinder Morgan would increase its transport of bitumen from oil sands from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.

Now, Trudeau finds himself at an impasse. In 2014, he told Metro Calgary, “I certainly hope we’re going to get that pipeline approved,” in reference to the Trans Mountain project. But after his election, the Prime Minister’s stance on oil and gas infrastructure has grown more complex. In January, Trudeau’s administration began requiring all new pipeline projects to pass a tougher environmental review, one that takes into account the emissions produced by the fossil fuels that the pipeline would carry. But despite this more stringent vetting process, Trudeau remains firmly in the pro-pipeline camp, reportedly calling the approval of the Trans Mountain project a top priority during his tenure.

In Vancouver last March, when asked about the potential for these proposed pipelines to damage the environment around them, Trudeau dodged the question:

“We have hundreds and hundreds of pipelines across this country carrying all sorts of different things, and we need to make sure that we’re getting the reassurance of communities, Indigenous people, environmentalists and scientists that we’re doing it responsibly.”

As of this week, it’s clear that reassurance has not arrived for many indigenous groups. And if the Trudeau administration goes ahead with their pipeline plans, that reassurance will probably never come.


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In battle over new Canadian pipeline, it’s Trudeau vs. tribes

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Breaking: Sydney on Lockdown As Dramatic Siege Unfolds

Mother Jones

The heart of Sydney, Australia, is currently in lockdown, as a siege unfolds at a downtown cafe. Reporting is still fuzzy and ongoing, but here’s what we know so far: Police are responding to a situation at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, a central plaza in the city surrounded by banks and law firms, and not far from the state parliament buildings and the Sydney Opera House.

The number of hostages taken have not been confirmed. Channel Seven, a TV station with studios and offices in Martin Place, is reporting police sources as saying there are 13 people being held. The number of hostage-takers has also not been confirmed.

Twitter users have posted images of people, apparently hostages, with their hands against the windows of the cafe and holding up a black flag with Arabic writing on it. Guardian Australia is reporting the flag reads, “There is no god but the God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.” It is not the Islamic State flag. Large parts of the area have been cordoned off.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which has unlocked its live stream for an international audience, is providing rolling coverage. Channel Seven is also providing live coverage here.

The Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has released a statement saying his government is convening an emergency session of the National Security Committee of Cabinet:

UPDATE: Sunday, December 14, 2014, 9 p.m. EST: The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has addressed reporters in Australia’s capital, Canberra. He didn’t provide any further factual detail about the unfolding saga in Sydney. Notably, he did not outline potential reasons for the attack. “We don’t yet know the motivation of the perpetrator,” he said, though he added that “obviously there are some indications” the attack could be political in nature. Abbott said the normal business of government would continue:

I can understand the concerns and anxieties of the Australian people at a time like this, but our thoughts and prayers must above all go out to the individuals who are caught up in this. I can think of almost nothing more distressing, more terrifying than to be caught up in such a situation and our hearts go out to these people.

UPDATE 2: Monday, December 15, 2014, 12:15 a.m. EST: It appears that at least three hostages have gotten free, though whether they escaped or were released is not yet clear.

As things unfold, we’ve compiled a list of sources on Twitter to follow. Find it here.

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Breaking: Sydney on Lockdown As Dramatic Siege Unfolds

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How Australia Became the Dirtiest Polluter in the Developed World

Mother Jones

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This story originally appeared in Slate and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Australians like to think of themselves as green. Their island country boasts some 3 million square miles of breathtaking landscape. They were an early global leader in solar power. They’ve had environmental regulations on the books since colonial times. And in 2007 they elected a party and a prime minister running on a “pro-climate” platform, with promises to sign the Kyoto Protocol and pass sweeping environmental reforms. All of which makes sense for a country that is already suffering the early effects of global warming.

And yet, seven years later, Australia has thrown its environmentalism out the window—and into the landfill.

The climate-conscious Labor Party is out, felled by infighting and a bloodthirsty, Rupert Murdoch–dominated press that sows conspiracy theories about climate science. In its place, Australians elected the conservative Liberal Party, led by a prime minister who once declared that “the climate argument is absolute crap.”

In the year since they took office, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Liberal-led coalition have already dismantled the country’s key environmental policies. Now they’ve begun systematically ransacking its natural resources. In the process, they’ve transformed Australia from an international innovator on environmental issues into quite possibly the dirtiest country in the developed world. And in a masterful whirl of the spin machine, they’ve managed to upend public debate by painting climate science as superstition and superstition as climate science. (We should note here that one of us grew up in Australia.)

The country’s landmark carbon tax has been repealed. The position of science minister has been eliminated. A man who warns of “global cooling” is now the country’s top business adviser. In November, Australia will host the G-20 economic summit; it plans to use its power as host to keep climate change off the official agenda.

If the environment has become Australia’s enemy, fossil fuels are its best friend once again. Two months after it struck down the carbon tax, the government forged a deal with a fringe party led by a mining tycoon to repeal a tax on mining profits. It appointed a noted climate-change skeptic—yes, another one—to review its renewable energy targets. Surprise: He’s expected to slash them. Independent modeling in a study commissioned by the Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation, and WWF-Australia finds that the cuts to renewable energy won’t reduce Australians’ energy bills. They will, however, gift the country’s coal and gas industry another $8.8 billion US

At a time when solar power is booming worldwide, sunny Australia is rolling back its state-level subsidies (despite domestic success) and canceling major solar projects. Meanwhile, the government has given the go-ahead to build the nation’s largest coal mine, with an eye toward boosting coal exports to India.

Did we mention that Australians’ per-capita carbon emissions are the highest of any major developed country in the world? Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of the South Pacific. No, Australia isn’t a theocracy, and oil isn’t the source of its fossil-fuel riches. But it is the world’s second-largest exporter of coal and third-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, and minerals and fuels account for nearly 50 percent of its export revenues. Its per-capita carbon emissions actually exceed those of Saudi Arabia. And its behavior of late is beginning to bear an ugly resemblance to those petro-states whose governments seem to exist chiefly to guarantee the spectacular profits of the fossil-fuel industry.

The skies aren’t the only realm that Australia is rapidly polluting. After all, the waste that the country is dredging up in new mines and coal port expansions has to go somewhere. Why not dump it on the Great Barrier Reef? (This month, facing a PR disaster, the mining consortium in charge of that particular project reversed its decision and will likely request permission to dump the dredge inland instead.)

The carbon tax became Australia’s equivalent of Obamacare.

“Let’s see,” Australian leaders must wake up wondering every morning: “What natural wonder could we trash today?” At the top of that list is the pristine Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, nearly two-thirds of which the new government pledged to open to commercial logging. Environmentalists argued the logging would harm threatened species such as the swift parrot, the wedge-tailed eagle, and the iconic Tasmanian devil. Those concerns were waved aside by the state government, which, like the federal government, is controlled by the Liberals. Fortunately, their plans were thwarted when UNESCO rebuffed their attempt to repeal the forest’s World Heritage protections.

How the Liberals and their coalition partners have undone so many environmental policiesin such a short time is a study in the power of biased media and irrational thinking.

From the moment the pro-climate Labor Party took power in 2007, opposition leaders and pundits made its environmental policies the focal point of their political attacks. Even environmental policies established under previous Liberal regimes became politically polarized as conservatives recast environmental policies as “job-destroyers.” The carbon tax turned into Australia’s equivalent of Obamacare as the opposition sought a wedge with which to pry apart the Labor Party’s coalition with the environmentally focused political party, the Greens. In some ways, environmental policies are even more vulnerable to being cast as job-killers than health care policies are, because the benefits are less tangible to the individual.

But Abbott and his allies haven’t just turned the public against environmental regulations with threats of economic doom. They’ve also worked hard to shake the public’s trust in climate science. And they’ve done it in a way that would surprise most Americans: by comparing environmentalists to religious kooks.

Green politicians, climate change activists, and even scientists have been painted as modern incarnations of a hated early-20th-century Australian archetype: the holier-than-thou, anti-gambling, anti-alcohol religious wowser. Someone who, according to professor Ken Inglis, “prayed on his knees on Sunday and preyed on his neighbours the rest of the week.”

This line of attack began as early as 2010, when Abbott was in the parliamentary opposition. In a television interview, he said of then–Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s climate change policies, “I am not as evangelical about this as Prime Minister Rudd is. I am not theological about this the way Prime Minister Rudd is.”

In a 2012 op-ed titled “Losing their religion as evidence cools off,” in Rupert Murdoch’s national newspaper, the Australian, Abbott’s top business adviser wrote: “When Mother Nature decided in 1980 to change gears from cooler to warmer, a new global warming religion was born, replete with its own church (the UN), a papacy, (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and a global warming priesthood masquerading as climate scientists.”

Embracing the analogy, the former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard gave a speech at a U.K. fracking conference in 2013 titled “One religion is enough,” in which he called action on climate change “a substitute religion.” Interestingly, while the global-warming-as-religion line probably wouldn’t play as well stateside, it seems that the US-based think tank the Heartland Institute has played a key role in funding Australia’s denial movement.

Also instrumental in sowing doubt and apathy has been Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns about two-thirds of Australia’s metropolitan press and the dominant dailies in most state capitals. According to a study by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, coverage of the former Labor government’s climate-change policies by News Corp. papers was 82 percent negative.

Even so, belief in climate change remains relatively high among Australian voters. According to a 2014 Lowy Institute poll, 45 percent of Australians now see global warming as a “serious and pressing problem,” up 5 points since 2013. (Forty percent of Americans believe it to be a major threat, a 2013 Pew Research poll found.) But belief is not the same as action.

The conservatives’ cultivated agnosticism about climate issues is abetted by the nation’s general indifference about what happens in the “Outback.” Australians have long turned a blind eye toward the 70 percent of the country that is arid bushland and the small number of people who live there. Global mining companies like Rio Tinto run desert fiefdoms in the Northern Territory that are larger than Washington, D.C. The miners themselves—largely fly-in, fly-out workers—barely live in the remote, often indigenous, communities of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, or Queensland whose land they’re gutting and whose small towns they’re destroying. Many commute from Sydney and Melbourne, or even New Zealand and Bali.

Historically, this apathy extends beyond mining. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the government allowed the British to conduct nuclear tests and blast Western Australia’s Monte Bello Islands and parts of South Australia. And just this August, the conservative minister for defense told US Secretary of State John Kerry that the American military was “welcome to use the ‘open spaces’ of the Northern Territory” for their bases and military exercises. (There’s been a US Marine base in Darwin for years.) Imagine the United States gifting Alaska to the Canadian army for war games.

There are some who would like to estrange this swath of the country even further from Australia’s coastal population centers. Mining magnate Gina Rinehart, one of the richest women in the world, has lobbied for the continent’s northern third to be declared a “special economic zone” with reduced taxes, a lower minimum wage, and scant regulation.

If Australians have grown apathetic toward the use of their country, it is fair to point out that it seems equally apathetic toward them. Beautiful as it is, it’s a harsh land in which to make a home. It’s often on fire, usually in drought, and when the streams aren’t bone dry, they’re flooding—all natural disasters that are already being exacerbated by global warming.

Let’s hope that the rapacious policies of the current government represent only a temporary bout of insanity. If the Australian people cannot recover some of their earlier regard for their environment, they may find in time that their great land is no longer merely apathetic toward their residence there, but openly hostile.

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How Australia Became the Dirtiest Polluter in the Developed World

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Green In All The Wrong Places

Green In All The Wrong Places in All the Wrong Places: The Scam That is the Hybrid

I am as planetarily conscious as the next guy, but I’m also practical. Apparently those two things go together like oil and water. Today’s catch phrase of “going green” seems to be less about actually fixing anything and more to do with making money. Prime example? Hybrids.
Now, before you get your dreadlocks in a tangle, let me point out that I clearly stated in the first sentence that I am practical. Therefore, all of the “environmental” self-rehearsed head speak that is about to fall out of your mouth is useless. I’m about to shed some light on the myth that is the hybrid car, and its actual effect on the environment: there is only one real way to save the planet from vehicular air pollution, and that is to slide those Birkenstocks on and walk. Short of that, we have to drive and that will always remain somewhat of an issue for us and the environs.
If you want to argue the environmental aspect of hybrids, keep in mind that the technology exists right now for zero emission vehicles that use a renewable power source that’s availability could eliminate our reliance of fossil fuels. Not reduce: eliminate. Hybrid cars are the environmental equivalent of a pacifier.

The real point of this conversation is the clean green wool that has been pulled over people’s eyes in an attempt to sell a car. The Hybrid comes at us as some sort of salvation from the dreaded and dangerous gas pump simply by playing on the notion that less gas is less money spent and that’s somehow better for the planet. Simple concepts applied to even simpler logic makes people ignore things like the fact that a Prius is actually less cost effective and has little, if any, environmental impact.

A Simple example


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Green In All The Wrong Places

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Dot Earth Blog: It’s Time for Africa’s Green Revolution, Focused on Corn


The Art of Raising a Puppy (Revised Edition) – Monks of New Skete

For more than thirty years the Monks of New Skete have been among America’s most trusted authorities on dog training, canine behavior, and the animal/human bond. In their two now-classic bestsellers, How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend and The Art of Raising a Puppy, the Monks draw on their experience as long-time breeders of German shepherds and as t […]

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Codex: Astra Militarum (Enhanced Edition) – Games Workshop

The Astra Militarum are the mighty Hammer of the Emperor, an army so vast that it has never been fully recorded by the scribes of the Administratum. Drawn from a million worlds, its men and women are the thin line between Humanity and the void. On hundreds of thousands of warzones across the galaxy the armies of the Astra Militarum hold back the advance of a […]

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My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha – Jolie Kerr

“Wise and funny. . . . The Lorrie Moore short story, or the Tina Fey memoir, of cleaning tutorials.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times “Thrillingly titled. . . . For a generation overwhelmed not just by dust bunnies, but by bong water on the carpet, pee stains on the ceiling and vomit seemingly everywhere, Jolie Kerr dispenses cleaning advice free of judgme […]

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How to Paint Citadel Miniatures: Taurox Prime – Games Workshop

The Taurox Prime is the Militarum Tempestus’s light armoured transport, with both the speed to deliver its men into battle and the firepower to back them up once they get there. Built for all-terrain movement, the Taurox Prime has four tracked wheels and heavy suspension, as well as a heavy bullbar, turret-mounted weaponry and slab-sided armour plating. How […]

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Codex: Militarum Tempestus (Interactive Edition) – Games Workshop

Codex: Militarum Tempestus The Scions of the Militarum Tempestus are the highly skilled elite of the Astra Militarum. Trained from youth in the combat schools of the Schola Progenium, each one has been psycho-conditioned to obey without question and kill without remorse. In battle, the toughest missions fall to the Tempestus Scions. Their specialist sq […]

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Warhammer 40,000: The Rules – Games Workshop

There is no time for peace. No respite. No forgiveness. There is only WAR. In the nightmare future of the 41st Millennium, Mankind teeters upon the brink of destruction. The galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man is beset on all sides by ravening aliens and threatened from within by Warp-spawned entities and heretical plots. Only the strength of the immortal […]

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White Dwarf Issue 10: 5 April 2014 – White Dwarf

Rain down death on the enemies of the Imperium as the new Astra Militarum Hydra and Wyvern hit the pages of White Dwarf 10! Also between the covers of this most august of publications you’ll find a Throne of Skulls event report, painting guides for the new tanks and much more besides.

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How to Paint Citadel Miniatures: Militarum Tempestus – Games Workshop

Clad in close-fitting carapace armour and armed with powerful hot-shot lasguns, the Scions of the Militarum Tempestus are an inspiring sight on the battlefield. Their immaculate uniforms and badges of rank showcase them as an elite unit, whose dedication to their duty is reflected by their precise appearance. How to paint Citadel Miniatures: Militarum Tempes […]

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How to Raise the Perfect Dog – Cesar Millan & Melissa Jo Peltier

From the bestselling author and star of National Geographic Channel’s Dog Whisperer , the only resource you’ll need for raising a happy, healthy dog. For the millions of people every year who consider bringing a puppy into their lives–as well as those who have already brought a dog home–Cesar Millan, the preeminent dog behavior expert, says, “Yes, […]

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White Dwarf Issue 9: 29 March 2014 – White Dwarf

Issue 9 of White Dwarf sees the Militarum Tempestus Scions rumble to war in their new transport, the Taurox – along with a brand-new Codex too. In the issue you’ll also find an Apocalypse battle report, painting guides, new rules, designers notes and more. About this Series: White Dwarf is Games Workshop’s weekly magazine, and boasts a wealth of gr […]

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Dot Earth Blog: It’s Time for Africa’s Green Revolution, Focused on Corn

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MAP: Here Are the Countries That Block Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

Mother Jones

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On Thursday, the Turkish government blocked the country’s access to YouTube, after banning Twitter earlier this month, in an effort to quell anti-government sentiment prior to local elections on March 30. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that social networks are facilitating the spread of wiretapped recordings that have been politically damaging. The YouTube block reportedly came about after a video surfaced of government officials discussing the possibility of going to war with Syria. The government officially banned Twitter after the network refused to take down an account accusing a former minister of corruption. Twitter is challenging the ban and a Turkish court overturned it on Wednesday, but it’s not yet clear how an appeal might play out.

Turkey is hardly the first country to crack down on social unrest by going after social networks. There are at least six other countries currently blocking Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter in some capacity (see map below), and many more have instituted temporary blocks over the last couple years. Here’s everything you need to know:

China: China blocked Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in 2009. The Twitter and Facebook bans took place after a peaceful protest by Uighurs, China’s Muslim ethnic minority, broke into deadly riots in Xinjiang. In September 2013, the government decided to stop censoring foreign websites in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, a 17-square mile area in mainland China, but these social networks are still largely blocked nationwide.

Iran: Iran has blocked Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on and off (usually off) since they were banned in 2009 following Iran’s contentious presidential election.

Vietnam: Over the last couple years, there have been widespread reports of Facebook being blocked in Vietnam. The block is fairly easy to bypass, and many Vietnamese citizens use the social network. However, in September 2013, Vietnam passed a law prohibiting citizens from posting anti-government content on the social network. Facebook did not comment on access in Vietnam.

Pakistan: In September 2012, Pakistan blocked YouTube after the site reportedly refused to take down an anti-Islam video that sparked protests in the country. The block has continued through March 2014, according to Google.

North Korea: Internet access is highly restricted in North Korea.

Eritrea: According to Reporters Without Borders, in 2011, two of the country’s major internet service providers blocked YouTube. Freedom House, a US watchdog that conducts research on political freedom, said the site was blocked in its 2013 report and notes, “The government requires all internet service providers to use state-controlled internet infrastructure.” Eritrea is routinely listed as one of the most censored countries in the world. Google does not include Eritrea on its list of countries in its transparency report that currently block YouTube, but notes that their list “is not comprehensive” and may not include partial blocks.

This data was compiled with help from Google’s transparency report, Twitter, and the OpenNet Initiative, a partnership between the University of Toronto, Harvard University, and the SecDev Group in Ottawa. It doesn’t take into account countries where only certain pages or videos may be censored. The United Arab Emirates, for example, jailed an American citizen last year for posting a comedic video to YouTube—but it doesn’t block the entire network, so it’s not on the map. Additionally, Google and Twitter don’t list their services as being blocked in Cuba, but social networks there are difficult to access, in part due to cost barriers.

Outside of these current blocks, many governments have banned social media networks in the past, during periods of unrest. Here’s a brief history of notable incidents:

Since 2009, Google has counted 16 disruptions to YouTube in 11 regions, often in the wake of protests. In March 2009, Bangladesh blocked YouTube for four days after someone posted a video of a meeting between army officers and the Prime Minister that revealed unrest in the military. Bangladesh blocked the network again for an extended period between 2012 and 2013 over an anti-Islam video. Libya blocked YouTube (and other social networks) for 574 days between 2010 and 2011, after the site hosted videos depicting families of prisoners killed in Abu Salim prison demonstrating in Benghazi, according to Human Rights Watch. Syria blocked YouTube (as well as Facebook) for about three years, lifting the ban in February 2011. Tajikistan has blocked YouTube more than once, most recently in 2013, over a video of the president dancing. Afghanistan blocked YouTube for 113 days between September 2012 and January 2013, after fears that an anti-Islam film on the site would spark further riots. Here’s how Google depicts the Afghanistan ban:

Twitter, which was used as a tool to organize protests during the Arab Spring, was shut down partially or completely by several governments in the region in 2011, including Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Cameroon, and Malawi, according to the OpenNet Initiative. Belarus has also blocked major social networks, including Twitter, in 2011 to quell anti-government protests. That same year, when a series of riots swept the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to ban people from using social networking sites, including Twitter and Facebook, although he didn’t go through with it. Targeting specific users or pages is more common than complete bans on Twitter—South Korea, for example, blocked access to North Korea’s official Twitter account in 2010 on the basis that it contained “illegal information.” When it’s clear that a certain Tweet or user is only being blocked in a select country, Twitter flags it as “Country Withheld Content.”

Facebook was also temporarily blocked by several countries during the Arab Spring. In 2010, Pakistan temporarily blocked Facebook after it hosted a competition called, ” Everybody Draw Mohammad Day,” which collected about 200 entries. Myanmar has sporadically blocked Facebook; China claims the ban was lifted there in 2013. There have also been instances where governments have blocked fake individual pages pretending to belong to world leaders. In 2008, Morocco went so far as to arrest a man for creating a profile posing as Prince Moulay Rachid. So far, Turkey has not yet chosen to censor Facebook, but that might simply be because it’s not on the Prime Minister’s radar. “What is this thing called Twitter, anyway?” Erdogan said Tuesday on NTV, a privately owned Turkish news channel. “It is a company, involved in communication, social media, et cetera.”

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MAP: Here Are the Countries That Block Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

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