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Old 2010-07-19, 13:27   Link #8281
Joojoobees
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Post Top Secret America - A hidden world, growing beyond control

Washington Post launches a new series of articles with accompanying website

The series (and website) is called Top Secret America: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america

The first article was published today and has generated some controversy; it is called "A hidden world, growing beyond control"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Washington Post
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation's other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.
The rest of the article can be read online at the above website, where additional interactive materials can also be found.

In addition, one of the journalists did an interview today with Amy Goodman, here's a sample:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Democracy Now
AMY GOODMAN: The growth of the military budget, Bill Arkin, since 9/11?

WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, you know, it’s hard to say even what we spend on national security anymore, Amy. I guess we say we spend a half-a-trillion dollars now on national security. But with supplemental budgets and secret budgets and all that, I mean, it’s really impossible to be able to put a true figure on it. And more importantly, it’s really impossible to gauge where this money is actually going and how effective it is. We’ve talked to people on the Hill who have said to us that the budget documents get thinner and thinner as the budget gets bigger and bigger. There’s no way that Capitol Hill has the resources or the ability to oversee all of this activity. And all sorts of workarounds and devices have been created since 9/11 to essentially put as much as possible into secret programs or off-the-books programs so that they’re beyond scrutiny. Maybe there’ll be eight people in the Congress who have the authority to see the information, but, you know, that’s not oversight as it’s written in the Constitution. Those are people who are co-opted into the system. And I think that really this is an issue that we, as Americans, need to ponder, that we have created a government apparatus that really does not comply with our very precept of the balance of powers. And that’s something that I hope that our series will provoke Congress to take a hard look at, in terms of thinking about better ways in which it can exercise its oversight responsibilities over the executive branch.
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Old 2010-07-19, 16:26   Link #8282
Xion Valkyrie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Sigh. I have a feeling things are going to turn out poorly. The whole thing was stupid from the beginning. Even if it 'works', it's still such an easy terrorist target in the future.
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Old 2010-07-19, 16:32   Link #8283
Nosauz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xion Valkyrie View Post
Sigh. I have a feeling things are going to turn out poorly. The whole thing was stupid from the beginning. Even if it 'works', it's still such an easy terrorist target in the future.
Yes let's let terrorism rule our lives? Hoover dam could be a "great" terrorist target does it mean we shouldn't have built it? The twin towers are the go to example of terrorism yet I don't see why we shouldn't have built them? Deciding to hand your life over to the threats made by terrorists is no different than living in world as a slave. Everything and anything can be a terrorist target, open markets, schools, sports arenas, so does that mean we should just hide in recluse to avoid the threat of terrorists? As one of the greatest American Presidents said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
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Old 2010-07-19, 17:11   Link #8284
Anh_Minh
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And car accidents. I'm pretty sure it's a good idea to fear those. Oh, and MST. Diseases in general, really. And poison. And bullets...

More seriously, while I don't know why Xion thinks that dam makes such a great terrorist target, I'm not sure "don't worry, be happy" is such a great counter-argument either. While it's a fact of life we can't do anything without running some sort of risk, it doesn't mean all risks are equal, and equally negligible. They should still be weighed against benefits, step should be taken to reduce them, and so on.
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Old 2010-07-19, 17:33   Link #8285
0utf0xZer0
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Canada agrees to buy 65 fighter jets for $138.5 million per plane.

Okay, seriously... I'm sure that the F-35 will be a great fighter jet once it actually enters service... but isn't this more than twice the per unit cost of the most recent F-18 variant? And an untendered contract to boot?
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Old 2010-07-19, 17:42   Link #8286
SaintessHeart
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
Canada agrees to buy 65 fighter jets for $138.5 million per plane.

Okay, seriously... I'm sure that the F-35 will be a great fighter jet once it actually enters service... but isn't this more than twice the per unit cost of the most recent F-18 variant? And an untendered contract to boot?
It sounds like the politicians went window shopping for hardware and simply bought what they felt like without consulting the Air Force.
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Old 2010-07-19, 21:15   Link #8287
Vexx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nosauz View Post
Yes let's let terrorism rule our lives? Hoover dam could be a "great" terrorist target does it mean we shouldn't have built it? The twin towers are the go to example of terrorism yet I don't see why we shouldn't have built them? Deciding to hand your life over to the threats made by terrorists is no different than living in world as a slave. Everything and anything can be a terrorist target, open markets, schools, sports arenas, so does that mean we should just hide in recluse to avoid the threat of terrorists? As one of the greatest American Presidents said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
The dam is "stupid" because it was a solution looking for a problem. There were dozens of less intrusive solutions to the power grid that didn't destroy so much homeland, villages, farmland, tourist destinations, etc. Terrorism is a rather minor part of the calculus. It just simply appears that ego drove this dam more than good sense.
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Old 2010-07-19, 22:14   Link #8288
AnimeFan188
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Japanese Scientists Create Touchable Holograms:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2jzB-M5yTo
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Old 2010-07-19, 23:24   Link #8289
Mr. DJ
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Not that I care but this answer is going to probably get negrepped to hell and back and possibly even get deleted or get me banned but I don't care.

Personally I think religion (all of it, it doesn't matter what brand, flavor or variety you choose) is an extremely dangerous thought virus that has done nothing but harm the human race. Asking me to be sensitive to religious issues, well, I'm not going to actively antagonize anyone, but I'm not going to walk on eggshells, either.

Anything that slows organized religions' attempt to convert the entire world into a mindless army of stagnant, closeminded zombies incapable of thinking for themselves is a good thing.

Please note I'm talking about all religions here, but specifically the Big Three, since they seem to be the most popular and also the most contagious.

Now excuse me while I go find my asbestos-lined hazard suit...

Can we please move on?
People needed/wanted something to believe in, just the downside of what they believe conflicts with someone else...then when it gets down to the extremists, it just goes all to crap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnimeFan188 View Post
Japanese Scientists Create Touchable Holograms:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2jzB-M5yTo
we know where this will eventually head fellas, it IS Japan after all

Last edited by Mr. DJ; 2010-07-19 at 23:37.
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Old 2010-07-20, 01:52   Link #8290
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British author charged with criminal defamation in S'pore
Quote:
Singapore (July 19, Mon): A British author arrested in Singapore on charges of criminal defamation and contempt of court for a book on the death penalty has been released on a S$10,000 (US$7,300) bail.

Alan Shadrake, a 75-year-old freelance journalist who frequently travels between Britain and Malaysia, was freed late today from a Singapore police complex where he was kept since his arrest at a hotel yesterday.

His book, Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock, was launched in the city-state last Saturday.

The arrest was made following a report that was lodged by the government's Media Development Authority last Friday, the Singapore police said in a statement. Shadrake has also been served with an application by the Attorney-General for "an order of committal for contempt of court", it said.

Singapore imposes the death penalty for crimes such as murder and a mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking. The crime rate on the island nation of five million people is among the lowest in the world.

REUTERS
What is Shadrake's crime?
Quote:
Singapore (July 19, Mon): British author Alan Shadrake, who wrote Once a Jolly Hangman, has been charged with a rarely used draconian charge of criminal defamation.

A defamation action is usually brought as a civil proceeding by a person or an institution that believes its reputation has been harmed by a statement of the defendant. Even Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew used a civil defamation action in pursuing his detractors in the international press and local opposition.

Criminal defamation brings the resources of the State to bear in what is essentially a question of protecting personal reputations.

Last year, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) intervened to discontinue proceedings in a criminal defamation action on the grounds that "the law of criminal defamation is not to be resorted to lightly".

The AGC noted that in a civil action, the possibility that costs may be awarded against an unsuccessful plaintiff acts as a natural barrier to frivolous action. There is no such safeguard in criminal defamation.

Britain abolished criminal defamation in July last year.

Alleged miscarriage of justice
So what agitated the authorities enough to arrest Alan Shadrake for criminal defamation, among other charges? One possible contender is his characterisation of the trial and execution of Vignes Mourthi as "arguably one of the most appalling miscarriages of justice in Singapore’s history".

Vignes Mourthi was arrested on Sept 20, 2001 and convicted of trafficking 27.65g of heroin.

Mourthi's conviction rested largely on the strength of evidence of the officer who arrested him, then sergeant S. Rajkumar, a senior officer of the Central Narcotics Bureau.

Rajkumar was a key witness in the prosecution's case, and Mourthi's defence was that an incriminating piece of evidence collected by Rajkumar had been added at a much later date.

Shadrake reveals that just three days after Mourthi's arrest, on Sept 23, 2001, Rajkumar was himself arrested for allegedly handcuffing, raping and sodomising a young woman and for subsequently bribing her to keep silent.

In the judgment convicting Rajkumar of bribery, Judge Sia Ai Kor described his actions as "so obviously corrupt by the ordinary and objective standard that he must know his conduct is corrupt".

Shadrake points out how the ongoing case against Rajkumar was never revealed to Mourthi's defence lawyer, and surmises that the prosecutor and other parties must have known about Rajkumar's case but chose to keep silent.

The authorities could very well stepping up to the criminal-defamation plate to contest his version of events.

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Old 2010-07-20, 04:31   Link #8291
JMvS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZephyrLeanne View Post
One thing to note. Other than Jura (which can join its Swiss namesake, Jura) and Baden-Wuttermberg (which can join Basel), the other areas listed in the wiki site would likely have to be added as new cantons.
It's way more likely that new Cantons would be created, as Swiss Jura and Basel are precisely examples which are already broken down on the Swiss scale, which is due to things decided by the people on a municipal scale: when Swiss Jura gained independence from Canton Bern in the 70's, a part of it refused independence and stayed within Bern. And even Basel is not one Canton but two "half-Canton", as the countryside broke from the City during the 19th century.

While most of the other regions would be manageable to convert into Canton (if they decide for it of course), Baden-Wurttemberg on other hand would be much more of a problem due to it's sheer size: with about 10 Mio inhabitants it has a larger population than present Switzerland. If it were to join, I think it would be natural for it to be broken down to it's pre WW2 components: Baden, Wurttemberg and Hohenzollern.

The issue of a super large Canton is not as much it's disproportionate weigh in elections, but that on the contrary, due to the Swiss System which accommodate Canton with populations ranging from 50000 to 1 Mio inhabitants on an equal basis, individual vote in a super large Canton would weigh less than a hundredth than the ones in the smaller ones, in the issue that concern Canton as well as Population majority (the most important ones).

Quote:
And the Swiss themselves don't want to overstrech themselves, so they're naturally against it. After all, they're fine as they are, and are trying to avoid Federal Germany's East German headache.
Well as a Swiss citizen, I've been thinking about that a lot I must admit.

On a tactical point of view, Baden-Wurttemberg or Insubria aside, all the other regions are prolongation of natural corridor or barriers, so there wouldn't be that much change in the defense apparatus, which if focused on a central redoubt and strategic passes. On the other hand, I don't know to what extent inhabitants of these areas are familiar to the fact that the boons of Swiss direct democracy and dynamic economy come with a price, and that is serving 270 days in the Army (I don't think it would a big problem for the Army itself to accommodate for even a doubling in recruits, as there are numerous facilities and units to be reactivated, after all, at some point of history we had a larger Army than Federal Germany).

On an economic point of view, the comparison with East Germany falls short, as most if not all of these areas have a very similar economic setting: dense light industry, which makes several of them economic power houses in their countries, but so peripheral that some are better coordinated with the Swiss economy than their national economy. Plus, all the border see a massive influx of daily commuters to Switzerland, and one of Schengen's consequence has been a massive, almost instant brain drain over the neighboring countries (which has induced some resentment on both sides).

On an administrative point of view, past signing posts changing and all, the big thing to deal with should rather be changing the political culture (especially in France I feel), and re-balance political competences toward the municipal level.
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Old 2010-07-20, 06:57   Link #8292
ChainLegacy
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Mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking? I think that might be a *bit* of an overreaction? The laws here in the US are ridiculous enough as it is.
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Old 2010-07-20, 07:07   Link #8293
Kamui4356
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
Canada agrees to buy 65 fighter jets for $138.5 million per plane.

Okay, seriously... I'm sure that the F-35 will be a great fighter jet once it actually enters service... but isn't this more than twice the per unit cost of the most recent F-18 variant? And an untendered contract to boot?
An F-35 is more capable than the most recent F-18 variant by far. It's also the only plane on the market that would possibly be able to hold it's own against Russia's PAK-FA. The only other options Canada could consider are begging the US to sell it F-22s, which isn't going to happen any time soon, or try to buy some PAK-FAs of their own.
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Old 2010-07-20, 08:14   Link #8294
ZephyrLeanne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMvS View Post
It's way more likely that new Cantons would be created, as Swiss Jura and Basel are precisely examples which are already broken down on the Swiss scale, which is due to things decided by the people on a municipal scale: when Swiss Jura gained independence from Canton Bern in the 70's, a part of it refused independence and stayed within Bern. And even Basel is not one Canton but two "half-Canton", as the countryside broke from the City during the 19th century.
And because of that, Basel-Stadt is so small, I wonder how the state's going to respond to being squashed with really big states like Basel-Landschaft and Baden-Wuttermburg next to it. And what about Alsace?

Quote:
While most of the other regions would be manageable to convert into Canton (if they decide for it of course), Baden-Wurttemberg on other hand would be much more of a problem due to it's sheer size: with about 10 Mio inhabitants it has a larger population than present Switzerland. If it were to join, I think it would be natural for it to be broken down to it's pre WW2 components: Baden, Wurttemberg and Hohenzollern.
Maybe, if Baden-Wuttermburg has an allowance to form Landschaftsverbaende, like NRW, which I doubt it does. Splitting them into the Regierungsbezirke of Freiburg, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, and Tübingen might be more palatable. In fact, Baden, Wuttermburg and Hohenzollern had a plebiscite (twice, for legal reasons), with 81% voting to create Baden-Wuttermburg to begin with.

Quote:
The issue of a super large Canton is not as much it's disproportionate weigh in elections, but that on the contrary, due to the Swiss System which accommodate Canton with populations ranging from 50000 to 1 Mio inhabitants on an equal basis, individual vote in a super large Canton would weigh less than a hundredth than the ones in the smaller ones, in the issue that concern Canton as well as Population majority (the most important ones).
True. Look at the US.


Quote:
On a tactical point of view, Baden-Wurttemberg or Insubria aside, all the other regions are prolongation of natural corridor or barriers, so there wouldn't be that much change in the defense apparatus, which if focused on a central redoubt and strategic passes. On the other hand, I don't know to what extent inhabitants of these areas are familiar to the fact that the boons of Swiss direct democracy and dynamic economy come with a price, and that is serving 270 days in the Army (I don't think it would a big problem for the Army itself to accommodate for even a doubling in recruits, as there are numerous facilities and units to be reactivated, after all, at some point of history we had a larger Army than Federal Germany).

On an economic point of view, the comparison with East Germany falls short, as most if not all of these areas have a very similar economic setting: dense light industry, which makes several of them economic power houses in their countries, but so peripheral that some are better coordinated with the Swiss economy than their national economy. Plus, all the border see a massive influx of daily commuters to Switzerland, and one of Schengen's consequence has been a massive, almost instant brain drain over the neighboring countries (which has induced some resentment on both sides).
Have you factored in the Euro crisis?

Quote:
On an administrative point of view, past signing posts changing and all, the big thing to deal with should rather be changing the political culture (especially in France I feel), and re-balance political competences toward the municipal level.
And the Italian regions wishing to join too. In fact, they're worse than France.
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Old 2010-07-20, 09:26   Link #8295
MrTerrorist
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Join Date: Oct 2008
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Frustration for the US soldiers who never went to war
I feel sorry for these brave men & women who wanted to be deployed but never did. I respect their decision to join the armed forces and hope they can serve their country on the front-lines one day.
(PS. Please don't make a big fuss about it. I'm just giving my respect.)


Liberal? Are we talking about the same thing?

A Mindscrew for anyone who thinks they know what liberal really means.
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Old 2010-07-20, 10:18   Link #8296
JMvS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZephyrLeanne View Post
And because of that, Basel-Stadt is so small, I wonder how the state's going to respond to being squashed with really big states like Basel-Landschaft and Baden-Wuttermburg next to it. And what about Alsace?
Well, while it's true that Basel-Stadt is small in size, it isn't so demographically (and economically) speaking, as both Stadt and Landschaft are much more populated than many full fledged Canton. Actually, on a Swiss scale, those are now rather important Cantons.

And precisely because of that, they feel rather prejudiced in the present status quo with only half the weight when cantonal majority is required. That might change if the addition of new Canton was to change the current balance.

Quote:
Maybe, if Baden-Wuttermburg has an allowance to form Landschaftsverbaende, like NRW, which I doubt it does. Splitting them into the Regierungsbezirke of Freiburg, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, and Tübingen might be more palatable. In fact, Baden, Wuttermburg and Hohenzollern had a plebiscite (twice, for legal reasons), with 81% voting to create Baden-Wuttermburg to begin with.
I agree, albeit I am not too familiar with German administrative structure. I don't know too much about regional sentiment in Germany, but within the "small is beautiful (if not better)" Swiss mindset, such a splitting would indeed be palatable.

Actually, even if it is way more manageable in size, that could also be a possible process in Alsace, especially since we consider the special history of Mulhouse with the Confederation.

Quote:
True. Look at the US.
Actually, when I look at the Graubunden, which are already a Confederation within the Confederation, I wonder if another possibility wouldn't for the creation of a new, larger Confederation, especially if we were to deal with with Country-sized Baden-Wurttemberg or Insubria. But I don't how well that would work with Swiss historic continuity.

Quote:
Have you factored in the Euro crisis?
Well, it's true that the Euro current crisis would remind of the monetary adjustment German reunification saw. But unlike in the German example, there is already a substantial economic coupling, especially in the border areas, with the commuting population that already lives in Francs, and drive real estate prices up, as well as cross border investments and industries.

Actually, in some instance it could be beneficial for all communities, as some vital transborder projects are currently hindered by central government neglect. The French Genevois and Southern side of the Leman come to mind, where vital joint public transportation projects have been stalled for years.

Quote:
And the Italian regions wishing to join too. In fact, they're worse than France.
Yes, past the decade long movement for partitioning of Italy (Lega del Norte...) I've seen that there were such movements in Aosta and part of if not the whole Lombardia and Trentino-Alto Adige. What goes in their favor is that they already are minorities within Italy (and considering our Mountainer common cultural background, I think I can understand their despair).


Well, ultimately, it should be up to the peoples, notwithstanding the hypocrisy of those in Bruxelles and the other Capital Cities.

Regarding the Swiss political side, I would admit that there is something of a provocative stunt in this motion, especially given the current context.

But even so, I find it a beautiful idea for Europe and democracy, more so, it's an idea that has been in the air for years, if not centuries. Actually, prior to WW2, such was the fleeting dream of the Fathers of Europe.

I think the reaction of one of my roommates from Savoy say plenty: "Nah that's crazy..." turning to "... wait, that would be doable! Actually, we would be way better in Switzerland.".
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Old 2010-07-20, 12:12   Link #8297
SaintessHeart
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
Mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking? I think that might be a *bit* of an overreaction? The laws here in the US are ridiculous enough as it is.
It is perfectly fine due to the Golden Triangle over here. Anything that stops narcortics proliferation.
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Old 2010-07-20, 12:48   Link #8298
ChainLegacy
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Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
It is perfectly fine due to the Golden Triangle over here. Anything that stops narcortics proliferation.
But you think someone deserves to die over it?
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Old 2010-07-20, 12:58   Link #8299
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
But you think someone deserves to die over it?
legacy of the Opium War,

I think majority of the pop in Singapore is Chinese decent and the after effect of the opium war is probably hanging the subconscious back there somewhere.
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Old 2010-07-20, 13:31   Link #8300
Vexx
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Location: On the whole, I'd rather be in Kyoto ...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
It is perfectly fine due to the Golden Triangle over here. Anything that stops narcortics proliferation.
We can hope its consistently applied rather than selectively -- too often only the little fish are zapped.
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