Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


rpannier's Journal
rpannier's Journal
March 29, 2020

5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Albania sends 30 doctors and nurses to Italy to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic

Albania has sent 30 doctors and nurses to Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Albanian Prime minister announced on Saturday.

The Albanian medical team was escorted to theTirana aiport by Albania's PM Edi Rama, the leader announced on his Facebook page.

The Albanian doctors, Rama said, will go to Italy's Lombardy region "to help their Italian colleagues".

"Today we are all Italian", Rama said during a brief speech at the airport. "Italy will win this battle."


2. Kosovo's Parliament Topples Government In No-Confidence Vote

PRISTINA -- Kosovo’s parliament has ousted the country's government in a no-confidence vote, throwing the Western Balkan nation into political turmoil even as it struggles along with the rest of the world to battle the coronavirus epidemic.

The parliament late on March 25 voted 82 in favor of the no-confidence motion, 32 against, with one abstention.

The motion was called by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) -- a partner in Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s government.

Even though a member of Kosovo’s ruling coalition, the LDK has opposed many of the prime minister's polices, including matters regarding the fight against the coronavirus and the imposition of 100 percent tariffs on goods from neighboring Serbia.


3. Utrecht rooftops to be ‘greened’ with plants and mosses in new plan

Every roof in the city district of Utrecht is to be “greened” with plants and mosses or have solar panels installed under plans driven by the success of a similar scheme for the municipality’s bus stops.

The “no roofs unused” policy is part of an attempt to reinvigorate biodiversity in the city and create a less stressful and happier environment, of which the construction of a so-called “vertical forest tower with 10,000 plants on its facade is set to become a leading example.

That building alone, close to Utrecht railway station, will host 360 trees and 9,640 shrubs and flowers, equal to 1 hectare (2.47 acres) of woods, once it is completed in 2022.


Alderman Kees Diepeveen said: “In this city district every roof will be either used for green or for solar panels. It will be that when you look at the different heights, the lower rooftops will be mainly green and the higher ones will be mainly solar panels. And now again a combination of the two because solar panels need some cooling.


4. Hague court orders Dutch state to pay out over colonial massacres

An Indonesian man forced to watch his father’s summary execution by a Dutch soldier when he was 10 years old has spoken of his gratitude after a court in The Hague ordered the Dutch state to pay compensation to victims of colonial massacres in the 1940s.

Andi Monji, 83, who travelled to the Netherlands to tell his story to the court, was awarded €10,000 (£9,000) while eight widows and three children of other executed men, mainly farmers, were awarded compensation of between €123.48 and €3,634 for loss of income.

The cases concerned men killed by soldiers in the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi between December 1946 and April 1947 during so-called “cleansing actions” as the Dutch sought to repress moves towards independence.

The court found that 11 men had been killed as a result of misbehaviour by Dutch soldiers, mostly by summary executions. One man was randomly shot.


5. Putin's Pretext? COVID-19 Crisis Tapped To Tax Rich Russians' Offshore Wealth

With COVID-19 cases rising in Russia, President Vladimir Putin went on TV to announce measures he said were aimed at lending young families, workers, and small business owners financial support as the coronavirus upends daily life on a mass scale.

And toward the end of his surprise 17-minute speech on March 25, announced just a few hours beforehand, Putin laid out how this support would be financed, in whole or in part: taxes on the well-to-do.

Despite having access to hundreds of billions of dollars meticulously stored away for just such an economic crisis, Putin unexpectedly called for long-term changes to the nation's Tax Code to target its richest individuals – as well as, to a much lesser extent, the middle class.

Putin said he would hike taxes on dividend and interest payments that Russian companies make to their owners' offshore bank accounts. He also said he would tax interest on Russian bank deposits and bonds exceeding 1 million rubles ($12,500).

March 29, 2020

Prophet's Perfume & Gourd Oil: Iran Warns Against Quackery, Islamic Medicine To Treat Coronavirus

A Muslim cleric applying what he called the "Prophet's perfume" under the nose of coronavirus patients lying sick in a hospital in northern Iran has gone into hiding after a warrant for his arrest was issued.


The low-level cleric told one patient that he would feel better if he would sneeze. One of the patients in the video died a few days after the unplanned visit. Iranian media reported that Kohansal had entered the hospital without permission.


Tabrizian is reported to have said on his Telegram channel that the oil from violet flowers is effective against the coronavirus, a claim dismissed by health experts, including Mehdi Yusefi, the head of the Traditional Medicine Department at the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences.


In recent weeks, at least 200 Iranians have died -- the Associated Press reported more than 400 -- and many others have been hospitalized after drinking bootleg or modified industrial alcohol because of a bogus rumor that consuming it can make one immune to the coronavirus.


Tabrizian (who is in Iraq) and Morteza Kohansal, Iran's answer to Alex Jones and Jim Bakker.

March 27, 2020

Boris Johnson's father to apply for French citizenship

The father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will apply for French citizenship once Brexit is done, reported today's edition of the Sunday Times.

The request for French nationality by Stanley Johnson, 79, was revealed by his daughter Rachel in a book published last week.

In "Rake's Progress: My Political Midlife Crisis", Rachel Johnson wrote that her father "is on his way to become a French citizen, his mother being born in Versailles", reported the newspaper. "This is good news, I could become French too," the daughter added.


"[Boris] said that we should avoid going to the pub but if I have to go to the pub, I will go to the pub," he told ITV last week.


French ought to deny it, or at the very least drag their feet.
He's another annoying jackass

March 26, 2020

A Crimea Rom-Com Brought Scathing Reviews - And Good Money For The Head Of RT, Report Says

In 2018, the film was voted one of the worst by Russian critics: a comedic love story taking place against the triumphant backdrop of the bridge linking Russia to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula Moscow seized from Ukraine four years earlier.


An investigation by anti-corruption crusader and Kremlin foe Aleksei Navalny charged that Keosayan, his wife, Margarita Simonyan, and their relatives made around 46 million rubles on the project. At the time of the film's release in late 2018, that amounted to about $700,000.

Simonyan, who is credited with writing the screenplay, is the head of the state-funded TV channel RT, formerly known as Russia Today.


Other relatives receiving salaries or payments for their work on the film include Keosayan's brother, identified as the general producer; Keosayan's nephew, identified as a unit production manager; and the nephew's wife, identified as an executive producer for the film.


March 21, 2020

5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Breakaway Abkhazia Set To Hold Election Under Cloud Of Controversy, Coronavirus

Just weeks ago, the leading contender in this election was lying in a Russian hospital bed recovering from the second mysterious bout of the flu to derail his bid to lead Abkhazia, prompting all candidates to suspend their campaigns.

But as voting day in the self-declared but globally unrecognized separatist republic in Georgia approached, even a looming pandemic was not threatening efforts to conclude a messy electoral process that started nearly a year ago.

After being rocked by poisoning scandals, protests, and the resignation of the territory's de facto president and the calling of a fresh vote, it appeared that the COVID-19 pandemic would not be enough to delay the March 22 election.


Abkhazia has long sought statehood, having declared independence from Georgia in 1992, before a 1992-93 war with Tbilisi. Following Moscow's recognition of Abkhazia as independent in 2008, the territory has tried to join the international community, but has been shunned by all but a few countries.


2. Russia’s Perm Opera-Ballet Stays Open -- For One Spectator At A Time

The famed Perm Opera and Ballet Theater in Russia's Urals region plans to continue performances despite restrictions forced by the coronavirus crisis -- by allowing one lucky spectator at a time to attend.

The group said on March 20 that the current situation had led it to establish its One On One performance policy beginning at the end of this month.

"A full-fledged performance cannot take place without public participation. But what happens if at least one person is present in the auditorium?” the company said on its website.


The theater said it will soon begin accepting applications "from those who would like to receive a unique opportunity to become the only spectator in the hall."


3. Enemies everywhere: photos show absurdity of life under the Stasi
East German secret police saw evidence of western sabotage in the most mundane events

A football kicked over a wall, a lightbulb thrown out of a window, a suspiciously unkempt lawn: for East Germany’s secret police, even the most mundane event was recorded as potential proof of the capitalist enemy trying to sabotage life in the socialist republic.

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, researchers at the Stasi Records Agency have for the first time systematically analysed the vast photographic archive the surveillance state amassed as a result of its untrammelled paranoia.


They tell the story of three children who caused an incident when they kicked a football over the Berlin Wall on to Soviet soil in May 1978. The children, two girls and a boy from West Berlin, eventually managed to get their ball back, but not before the Stasi had thoroughly documented the ball’s position – “around 25 metres from the border markings” – and photographed the ceremonial return of the offending object.


“In the 1950s, photography was still a relatively rare technology. But by the 80s cameras were more widely available and the Stasi discovered them as what they called a ‘weapon’. The number of photographs taken grew exponentially.”


4. German police arrest members of far-right group after state ban

German police have raided properties in 10 states and arrested members of a far-right group after it was banned by the government.

The United German Peoples and Tribes organisation belongs to the broader Reichsbürger or Citizens of the Reich movement, which rejects the authority of the modern German state and is driven by conspiracy theories. It is armed and considered extremely dangerous, the police said.

An interior ministry spokesman said on Thursday that its fight against rightwing extremism would not be halted even during the current global health emergency. “For the first time, the interior ministry has banned a Reichsbürger group,” the spokesman said. “Even in these days of crisis, we will continue to fight far-right extremism, racism and antisemitism.

Herbert Reul, the interior minister of the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, where the group had its focus, said: “These people cannot consider themselves safe even in these times of the coronavirus.” He said he was grateful to the federal interior minister, Horst Seehofer, “for allowing us to proceed against this brown sauce”, in a reference to their Nazi-sympathies.


5. Armenia's Pashinian Kicks Off Campaign On Constitutional Reform

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has urged voters to back proposed changes to the constitution that would lead to the removal of a majority of Constitutional Court judges.

Pashinian made the call on March 10 as he kicked off his campaign ahead of next month’s referendum on the proposed reforms.

“I urge you to go to polling stations on April 5 and confirm that you are sending home this old Constitutional Court, which had patronized all electoral frauds in Armenia in the past,” he said in a speech in the town of Meghri.

If approved, the proposed constitutional amendments would lead to the dismissal of seven of the court’s nine members installed before nationwide protests swept Pashinian to power in 2018.

March 20, 2020

Helping Hands: Iranians Unite To Help Those Suffering From Coronavirus

Facing one of the world's worst outbreaks of coronavirus, Iranians in local communities are coming together to help those affected as the country battles a disease that has claimed the lives of nearly 1,300 people and infected more than 18,000 across the country, according to official figures on March 19.

Doctors, nurses, celebrities, and others have been posting videos and online messages telling citizens to remain home while volunteers have sown masks, sanitized public places, and made care packages that include medicinal alcohol and masks for poorer families.

The private sector is also pitching in with a coalition of private businesses opening a clinic in the capital, Tehran, and donating protective gear to severely strained hospitals facing shortages of materiel due to the outbreak that has claimed the lives of many health-care workers.


March 20, 2020

Nirbhaya case: Four Indian men executed for 2012 Delhi bus rape and murder

Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh were sentenced to death by a trial court in 2013.

The four were hanged in the capital's high-security Tihar prison in the first executions in India since 2015.

The victim died from her injuries days after being raped by six men on a moving bus. The incident caused outrage and led to new anti-rape laws in India.


ix people were arrested for the attack. One of them, Ram Singh, was found dead in jail in March 2013, having apparently taken his own life.


From an interview by BBC

Along with three of the other attackers, Singh is now appealing against his death sentence. In 16 hours of interviews, Singh showed no remorse and kept expressing bewilderment that such a fuss was being made about this rape, when everyone was at it.

"A decent girl won't roam around at nine o'clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy," he said.


People "had a right to teach them a lesson" he suggested - and he said the woman should have put up with it.


One of the men I interviewed, Gaurav, had raped a five-year-old girl. I spent three hours filming his interview as he recounted in explicit detail how he had muffled her screams with his big hand.


When I asked him how he could cross the line from imagining what he wanted to do, to actually doing it - given her height, her eyes, her screams - he looked at me as though I was crazy for even asking the question and said: "She was beggar girl. Her life was of no value."


March 19, 2020

In pictures: Deserted cities as anti-coronavirus lockdowns introduced around the globe (8 pics)

Many cities and towns around the globe are looking completely deserted, as governments introduce tougher measures in a bid to contain the spread of deadly coronavirus COVID-19.

Tourist destinations and business hubs that used to be packed with people are now quieter than anyone could have imagined, locals say.

Gran Via - Madrid

Eiffel Tower - Paris

Madeleine Church - Paris

Spanish Steps Piazza di Spagna - Rome

Medieval old town of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Wuhan Airport

Financial center - Quito, Ecuador

Santa Monica Pier


March 18, 2020

Which tree did voters root for in European Tree of the Year 2020? (5 pics)

Voters have rooted for a tree overseeing a flooded village in the Czech Republic in the European Tree of the Year competition.

The 350-year-old pine, called Guardian of the Flooded Village, sits above the village of Chudobín, which was flooded due to the construction of a dam.

Guardian of the Flooded Village received 47,226 votes to claim the prize. A tree in Croatia came second with 28,060, while third followed close behind in Russia.

Ginkgo from Daruvar, Croatia

Lonely Poplar, Russia

Some of the others

The Witches Yew - Ireland

Allerton Oak - UK

The rest (and some are amazing to see) at

March 18, 2020

Coronavirus Vs. The Church: Orthodox Traditionalists Stand Behind The Holy Spoon

Efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus have rekindled a millennium-old debate within Christianity.

Should Eastern Orthodox priests use a shared spoon to distribute sacramental bread and wine to churchgoers?

The debate has resurfaced amid unprecedented coronavirus measures that are compelling religious institutions around the world to temporarily alter some traditional practices.


"We believe that no virus or disease can be transmitted through communion," said Metropolitan Ilarion, of the Moscow Patriarchate, on Rossia-24 on March 7.


Profile Information

Gender: Male
Current location: Boseong
Member since: Fri Jan 30, 2004, 04:44 AM
Number of posts: 24,188

Journal Entries

Latest Discussions»rpannier's Journal