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WE were the only ones there at peak season, Shivaji Das observes of his trip to the Kelimutu coloured lakes in Flores, listed on Wikipedia as the islands most famous tourist attraction. Thats what makes these islands a bit special, he says.

Das was at Universiti Malaya last month to give a talk on his newly launched travel ebook, Journeys With The Caterpillar, that charts his adventures in the Eastern Indonesian islands of Sumba and Flores with his then partner, now wife, Lobo (real name Yolanda Yu).

These relatively unknown islands seem to be a curious choice for two lovebirds, but Das lists their other options as Nepal and Syria, proving that these two choose the road less travelled by (and also less air-conditioned) whatever the circumstances. As it were, he says, Indonesia was the cheapest option with the best weather.

Its very different from Bali, he tells an audience of students and academics who will probably venture no further than that glossy destination when it comes to Indonesian islands. Its still very raw.

Sumba, Das informs us, is known as the Texas of Indonesia. Its very dry and you have a lot of flatlands and small hills. And of course horses. About a hundred years ago, the Sumba used to export horses. They still do, though not to the extent it once was and horses still play a major role in their culture, especially in annual festivals like Pasola, where horseback riders throw spears at each other.

Flores on the other hand, is wet and mountainous and has many volcanoes. These volcanoes, Kelimutu specifically, are the cradles for the lakes that change colour according to the oxidation state of the lakes. But more captivating than their landscapes is their culture.

PINK BUFFALOES AND MONOLITHS In his three-week travel, Das managed to cover a lot of ground and also discover much about the daily lives and festivities of the people of Sumba and Flores.

In Flores they say they dont have a face, Das says as the projector reveals a slide populated with faces that seemed to look like they are from South America and Africa. If you look at their faces, theyre all very different. From a Creole face to sharper features to more Javanese features.

These variations can be attributed to the rich colonial history of Flores, waves of colonisation as Das calls it, from neighbouring islands of Sumbawa and Sulawesi, and the Portuguese, then the Dutch.

On Sumba and Flores, a lot of importance is placed on ancestor worship, although most of Flores is nominally Roman Catholic. It is especially strong in Sumba, where the practice is called Marupu. In recent years, there has been a new surge of pride in their culture.

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HERITAGE: Mysterious isles of East Indonesia

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is sponsoring a commercial featuring Ron Reagan on Comedy Central Thursday night, where he concludes with: “Ron Reagan. Lifelong atheist. Not afraid of burning in hell.”

The son of President Ronald Reagan has long been an outspoken atheist and is an honorary officer of FFRF.

The ad will air during The Daily Show, which begins at 10 p.m., and again during the Colbert Report, which airs at 10:30 p.m. It will also appear during the reruns two hours later, for a total of four showings.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of FFRF, said that Reagan “had done an ad for us for Air America Radio when that was on. I had in mind we could recreate this as a visual for several years and we finally made it happen.”

You can watch the ad here.

While airing the ads during two of Comedy Central’s most popular shows was quite costly compared to other times, Gaylor said the audience is the right fit for the message.

“Both shows are highly irreverent, and yet are considered news sources for young people, so it was the right national audience,” she said. “It’s kind of a splashy way to debut the ad, and then we’ll air it during cheaper times.”

Here’s the entire text of the 30-second spot: “Hi, Im Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist, and Im alarmed by the intrusions of religion into our secular government. Thats why Im asking you to support the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nations largest and most effective association of atheists and agnostics, working to keep state and church separate, just like our Founding Fathers intended. Please support the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Ron Reagan. Lifelong atheist. Not afraid of burning in hell.”

Gaylor and her husband, Dan Barker, who is also co-president of FFRF, are in Canada for a conference.

“The irony of this whole thing is they don’t get Comedy Central in Canada,” she said.

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Freedom From Religion ad by Ron Reagan airs on Comedy Central

An aerial view shows Yonaguni island, Okinawa prefecture in this picture taken by KyodoReuters file photo

Japan is reportedly planning to establish fresh military outposts in remote islands near the archipelago known in Japan as Senkaku, in order to bolster security in its territorial waters.

According to the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun, nearly 350 troops are expected to be stationed on three different islands in the far southwest, near the disputed chain of islands. The string of land mass, often at the centre of spats between Tokyo and Beijing, is called Diaoyus in China.

Although there is already a minimum air force facility in the region, it does not have Japan’s ground forces and the latest proposal is bound to infuriate China.

The two countries are frequently involved in maritime confrontations in the waters to assert their claims to the islands, which lie about 2,000kms from Tokyo and 200kms from Taiwan, which also claims rights to the chain.

The three sites identified for the new outposts are Amamioshima, Miyako island and Ishigaki island, all of which are located about 150 to 210kms from Senkakus, the daily reported, citing anonymous senior officials.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters: “At the moment, however, we have not decided on specific, concrete locations such as those reported.”

Last month, Japan had come up with its first military expansion in the region in more than 40 years by beginning the construction of a radar station in Yonaguni.

Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said: “This is the first deployment since the US returned Okinawa in 1972 and calls for us to be more on guard are growing. I want to build an operation able to properly defend islands that are part of Japan’s territory.”

The radar facility will significantly increase Japan’s surveillance capabilities in the region as Tokyo’s monitoring could potentially expand up to mainland China to keep an eye on its ships and flights.

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Japan Plans New Military Outposts near Disputed Islands

Consequence-Free Speech The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Sarah Palin gives a speech conflating a sacrament of her faith with torture.The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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U.S. Will Defend NATO Allies Against Russia 2014
President Obama promised to defend the nations in the NATO alliance from any Russian aggression. Subscribe to The Daily Conversation for the best videos in American politics:…

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[Structure] Why Bitcoin's Competitors Don't Dilute Its Money Supply
[Structure] Why Bitcoin's Competitors Don't Dilute Its Money Supply.

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Oprah Winfrey Awarded The Medal of Freedom
Oprah Winfrey is honored with the highest civilian honor in America – the Presidential Medal of Freedom – by President Barack Obama. Watch the full awards ceremony here: The Daily Conversation…

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GS Daily News NSA spying on Xbox Live + WoW, Fallout 4 website is a hoax!

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GS Daily News NSA spying on Xbox Live + WoW, Fallout 4 website is a hoax! – Video

Order Chaos Duels – Campaign #5 – The Whispering Islands 15-17
Order Chaos Duels by Gameloft If you like this video please consider subscribing so you don't miss out on my daily videos! Likes, Shares, Comments are appreciated! – Rediscover…

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Order & Chaos Duels – Campaign #5 – The Whispering Islands 15-17 – Video

The Daily Show: Consequence-Free Speech
Sarah Palin gives a speech conflating a sacrament of her faith with torture.

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Jon Stewart: Consequence Free Speech ~ 04/29/2014
“The Daily Show” for April 29, 2014. Stewart looks at the difference between free speech and consequence-free speech. LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is ba…


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Jon Stewart: Consequence Free Speech ~ 04/29/2014 – Video

One of the primary obstacles to human colonization of Mars is the funding — creating a habitable environment and sending humans across the gulf of space is a costly process, well beyond the exploration budgets of most nations. But Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft and Big Brother co-creator Paul Romer have a brilliant solution that will put colonists on Mars by 2023.

The key: Fund the whole shebang by turning the mission into reality TV.

The Dutch company Mars One is managing the project, and in its explanatory video below, talking heads call the project (a little euphemistically maybe) a “media event,” comparing it to the moon landing. They also tout the fact that its apolitical and taxpayer-independent, a private space endeavor, paid for by eyeballs on screens.

Romer told The Daily Mail:

The entire world will be able to watch and help with decisions as the teams of settlers are selected, follow their extensive training and preparation for the mission and of course observe their settling on Mars once arrived. The emigrated astronauts will share their experiences with us as they build their new home, conduct experiments and explore Mars.

The part of that quote that sticks out is that an audience will be able to “help with decisions.” Shifting the selection process from experts handpicking the best candidates to, perhaps, people texting in to vote for their favorite explorer is an … interesting idea.

Four explorers would hit the surface of the Red Planet by 2023 — where, the company promises, a habitation will already have been built — with more trickling in over the next 10 years until 20 people are there. Construction rovers would be sent first to make sure housing is set up for the first wave, with more houses going up as needed.

Mars One has received letters of interest from aerospace companies potentially willing to donate hardware for the mission, and the presence of some real scientists rather than businessmen lends credence to the project, but colonizers on Mars in a little more than two decades is still a lofty goal, whether it’s funded by NASA or by prime-time.

[via The Daily Mail]

Excerpt from:

Mars Colonization Mission Will Happen Live on Reality TV …

Nato News

NATO Comments Off
Apr 262014

Business Insider Wed 23 Apr 2014 The 11 Most Powerful Militaries In The World Asymmetrical wars in Afghanistan, Vietnam, and now in Syria demonstrate all too clearly that relatively small numbers of belligerents can carry out successful military operations against superior… (photo: AP / Mark Lennihan) Defence Militaries Photos Wikipedia: List of countries by military expenditures World National Journal Wed 23 Apr 2014 U.S. Sending Troops to Eastern Europe, Must Turn Over Info on CIA Prisons, Apaches Headed to Egypt By Jordain Carney Follow on Twitter April 23, 2014 By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc) Welcome to NJ’s Early Bird, today’s best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage. To contact us, email… (photo: USMC / Zachery B. Martin) Egypt Europe Photos Troops Wikipedia: Troop Top Stories more Headlines Novosti Tue 22 Apr 2014 ANALYSIS: NATO Build Up in Poland Threatens International Stability WASHINGTON, April 22 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova NATOs military build-up in Poland is a dangerous and provocative development which might lead to… (photo: US DoD) Nato Photos Poland Washington Wikipedia: NATO The Daily Telegraph Tue 22 Apr 2014 US troop numbers in Afghanistan may drop below 10,000 Related Articles Deal for US troops to stay in Afghanistan ‘will be signed soon’ 07 Dec 2013 The ‘living hell’ of patrol in Afghanistan 02 Dec 2013 Karzai’s refusal to… (photo: USMC / Zachery B. Martin) Afghanistan Karzai Photos US Troops Wikipedia: Afghanistan Khaleej Times Mon 21 Apr 2014 Bidens Ukraine agenda Diplomatic pressure is now showing on Russia. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrovs remark that Ukraine is to be blamed for violating the Geneva accord is incomprehensive… (photo: AP / Sergei Chuzavkov) Geneva Photos Russia Ukraine Wikipedia: Joe Biden CNN Mon 21 Apr 2014 How Obama can avoid lame-duck blues April 21, 2014 — Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT) Editor’s note: Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of… (photo: AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Barack Obama Photos Politics US Wikipedia: Barack Obama Detroit news Mon 21 Apr 2014 Obama must defend NATO’s red line Michael Barone Comments Last week, masked men in camouflage garb with no insignia, dressed and equipped like Russian special forces, started taking over police stations… (photo: AP / LM Otero) Barack Obama Nato Photos US Wikipedia: Barack Obama The Telegraph India Mon 21 Apr 2014 In Cold War rerun, Obama plans to isolate Russia PETER BAKER Putin, Obama Washington, April … Washington, April 20: Even as the crisis in Ukraine continues to defy easy resolution, President Barack Obama and his national security team are looking beyond the… (photo: AP / Carolyn Kaster) Photos Russia Ukraine Washington Wikipedia: Barack Obama

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With paper money, a government decides when to print and distribute money. Bitcoin doesn’t have a central government.

With Bitcoin, miners use special software to solve math problems and are issued a certain number of bitcoins in exchange. This provides a smart way to issue the currency and also creates an incentive for more people to mine.

Bitcoin miners help keep the Bitcoin network secure by approving transaction.

Mining is an important and integral part of Bitcoin that ensures fairness while keeping the Bitcoin network stable, safe and secure.

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What is Bitcoin Mining? | How to become the best bitcoin miner

Brian Mayer: Why We Pursue Freedom
Brian Mayer: Why We Pursue Freedom.

By: Structure Daily

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Brian Mayer: Why We Pursue Freedom – Video

Freedom and Fear in Hong Kong Media (?)
The ouster and subsequent stabbing attack on Ming Pao Daily News ex-Chief Editor Kevin Lau have drawn protestors into Hong Kong's streets and put a global spotlight on the future of the city's…

By: YaleUniversity

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Freedom and Fear in Hong Kong Media (?) – Video

HAMPTON, Va. The Virginia Community College System has agreed to alter its free speech policy as a means to settle a lawsuit with a Christian student who was barred from preaching the Gospel on campus last fall.

As previously reported, last fall, student Christian Parks publicly preached the Gospel on four different occasions in a courtyard on the Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) campus.However, the third time Parks preached the Gospel in the campus courtyard, he was confronted by three uniformed police officers from the TNCC Police Department. The officers ordered Parks to stop preaching. Though Parks thought the officers actions were unconstitutional, he complied with their order.

A few days later, Parks began preaching in the same courtyard for the fourth time. Once again, campus police officers silenced him.

Following the second encounter with the campus police, Parks asked TNCC administrators why he was not allowed to preach on the schools campus. He was told that, in order to open-air preach on campus, he would first have to join a registered student organization and then receive permission from TNCC officials four days in advance of any preaching.If Parks did not comply with the regulations, he could be subject to disciplinary actions, including suspension or dismissal.

Therefore, Parks contacted the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) for assistance, which filed a lawsuit against the university. Attorneysargued that the schools silencing of Parks preaching is a violation of his First Amendment constitutional rights.

It is repugnant to Mr. Parks that he, as an individual citizen and student at a public community college, must notify the government in order to speak on campus when he feels convicted by his religious faith to speak and preach on campus, the suit contended.

The ACLU of Virginia also criticized the schools speech-limiting policies, writing in aletterto the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) that the schools policies deserve substantial revision.

If accurate, the complaint against VCCS describes a clear violation of the constitutionally protected free speech rights of a community college student, it stated. [W]e urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that a revised demonstration policy that takes into account the free speech rights of students, faculty, staff, and the general public is considered and adopted by the Board without delay.

This week, the Daily Press reported that the system agreed to work out a settlement with Park, which primarily includes altering its free speech policy. The current policy has been suspended while the settlement is reached.

Both parties desire to suspend the current policy in order to allow [Parks] and all other students to speak freely on campus, court documents stated, [C]ounsel for the parties believe that they may be able to reach an amicable settlement in this case.

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Community College to Reach Settlement with Student Barred from Preaching Gospel on Campus

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TA Plays Live: Booming Beaches, and Other Things
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Attorney Legal Analyst AnneElise Goetz on Free Speech and Campaign Contributions
Free speech, The Bill of Rights and campaign contributions. The political shackles have been lifted from the First Amendment. The United States Supreme Court…

By: The Daily Ledger

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Attorney & Legal Analyst AnneElise Goetz on Free Speech and Campaign Contributions – Video

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