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xawery

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Everything posted by xawery

  1. xawery

    European Politics Thread.

    Hello all, on December 4th, a European intellectual summit, titled "Europe. A Beautiful Idea?" will be held in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Renowned politicians, historians, writers and artists from all over the world will gather in the Van Nelle Fabriek to discuss the European identity, culture, education and values. The secondary theme will be the relationship between the United States of American and Europe. Speakers include: Atzo NicolaÄ, Adam Zagajewski, Modris Eksteins, Karl Schlögel, Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha, Kalypso Nicolaidis, Bassam Tibi, Miguel Maduro, Jacqueline de Romilly, George Klein, Adam Zamoyski, Ivan Fischer, Yvonne van Rooy, Jos de Mul, Gianni Vattimo, Tzvetan Todorov, Michael Sandel, Thomas Pangle, Marjolijn Februari, Jan Peter Balkenende, ZKH Prins Hassan bin Talal, José Manuel Barroso, Fritz Stern, Mario Vargas Llosa and Timothy Garton Ash. The discussion are, naturally, conducted in English. This summit, the final one in a series of five (previous summits were held in the Hague, Warsaw, Berlin and Washington) is organised by the Nexus Institute. They describe themselves as follows:The Nexus Institute looks at the European cultural heritage in a social, philosophical and artistic context. The Institute is renowned for the quality with which it offers insight into contemporary issues and seeks to give shape to an informed debate. Nexus aims at erudition coupled with tolerance; it is opposed to all forms of narrowmindedness such as sectarianism and chauvinism; it seeks neither the misery of knowing nothing nor the arrogance of knowing all. Programme 09.00 A word of welcome Rob Riemen 09.10 Introductory remarks Atzo NicolaÄ Session I: A citizen of Europe 09.20 Lecture by Adam Zagajewski 10.00 Discussion moderated by Rob Riemen, with Modris Eksteins, Karl Schlögel, Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha, Kalypso Nicolaidis, Bassam Tibi and Miguel Maduro 11.15 Break Session II: European Culture and Education 11.40 Lecture by Jacqueline de Romilly 12.10 Discussion moderated by Rob Riemen, with George Klein, Adam Zamoyski, Ivan Fischer, Yvonne van Rooy and Jos de Mul 13.30 Lunch 14.15 Concert: Schönberg Ensemble with Folk songs by Luciano Berio Session III: Euopean Values. The Philosophical Debate 14.45 Discussion moderated by Marjolijn Februari with Gianni Vattimo, Tzvetan Todorov, Michael Sandel and Thomas Pangle 16.00 Break Session IV: Final debate. Europe. A Beautiful Idea? Agenda for the Future. 16.30 Discussion moderated by Timothy Garton Ash, with Jan Peter Balkenende, HRH Prins Hassan bin Talal, José Manuel Barroso, Fritz Stern and Mario Vargas Llosa 18.00 Concluding remarks Jan Peter Balkenende 18.10 Closing Rob Riemen 18.15 Reception I would like to invite everyone with interest for the concept of a common European identity and the ability to reach Rotterdam to attend. I have heard some of the attending speakers discuss matters before and those are very erudite men and women indeed. The costs are not extraordinarily high, I believe it's 20 EUR for a student, but one does have to make a reservation in advance. You can look up more info at www.nexus-institute.nl Well worth the effort.
  2. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    'My' logic? There is no 'my' logic, logic is an impartial, absolute concept. Perhaps you mean to ask what my view is on the matters. Well, I was under the impression that I've been explaining those over the course of this thread, but fine, I'll explain them again, once you've specified what you mean by 'this': this thread involves numerous issues, after all. And don't even bother trying to pin arrogance on me simply because I am capable of invalidating your statements with common knowledge and some simple analysis. Hmm, I've said it before but I'll say it again: try reading what people write. Don't just glance over it and hit the reply button, really READ it. What I said was that the idea of modelling our legislature and the handling of internal affairs after the dysfunctionalities of ME countries was ridiculous at best. As to the article you quoted: getting involved in an unlawful war in Iraq, led by a country not wary of using Christian war-time terminology was bound to cause a reaction sooner or later. You'd have to be simple not to expect that. Anyway, back to the news: since November 5th, 11 mosques and Islamic buildings have been assaulted in one way or another - arson, molotov cocktails, explosives etc. 5 churches have also been the target of arson. Can anyone say downward spiral?
  3. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    Learn to read, 'dude'. I'm not even considering the state of affairs in ME (nice broad term you use there...) becuase that's completely irrelevant for Dutch internal affairs. You brought up that bit (for no apparent reason). Hmm, Egypt is not a pure democracy, that means we must turn into a fascist state then! A terrible lack of insight and understanding shines through your replies. 'They', 'ME'... Who, pray tell, are 'they'? The Middle East is a huge region. So who is it you're against? Because you obviously see them as 'the enemy', otherwise you wouldn't speak of turning another cheek. Them's fighting words. I can't recall us being at war with anyone. Tell me, do you see the Islam as the enemy? I must say, good job. You've robbed this discussion of it's last shreds of legitimacy.
  4. xawery

    RED ORCHESTRA

    I just hope 3.1 won't introduce more bugs than it does fixes. Still, the game will be much more enjoyable without the prone-bug. hopefully we'll soon see the MG42 in action...
  5. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    Yep. I've also heard of art. 1 of the Dutch constitution, which states that in the eyes of the law everyone is equal, irrespective of faith, political alignment, ethnicity or anything similar. We're talking about expelling Dutchmen, because art. 2 clearly states that it's the law that decides who is Dutch or not. When you have the Dutch nationality, you are no longer a guest. Expelling people with a double nationality or merely a permit should be possible, and actually already is in the latter case. Let me put it bluntly: so fucking what? Do you want to model your system after the disfunctionalities of others? Eye for an eye? What kind of downward spiral thinking is that? What you suggest is like Rumsfeld defending the Abu Ghraib tortures because "Saddam was worse". Disregarding that last sentence I agree: the government should certainly enter into a dialogue with the representatives of the Muslim community (I use the generalisation because the Muslim organisations are better organised and more universal than specific Moroccan/Turkish/etc. organisations). This is already the case. That's right, it is. But do you think you are treated any different in their eyes. Wow. Openly admitting to be racist in the 21st century either takes a lot of balls or a serious brain deficit. By the way, nice "we-they" mentality. "Their" eyes? Jesus...
  6. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    Except ethnical. That's right. So you're willing to treat someone in a different manner, ceteris paribus, because of his ethnicity? That spells R.A.C.I.S.M.
  7. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    I dunno, can you mention some Thai religious symbols? I bet someone will be more than willing to make a nice emblem of it, for you to wear on your jacket... Seriously people, this is ridiculous. In essence we're all opposed to a single thing: people causing trouble. There is no correlation between ethnicity and whether or not you cause trouble, it's your social situation/upbringing. In this case nurture wins over nature. Go to any poor part of the city, and you'll see all skin colours causing problems. Go for a walk through the city center at four am on a saturday night, and you'll see both 'furriners' and 'true Dutchmen' vomiting on the sightwalk, picking fights and hurling abuse at the police. EVERYBODY causes trouble.
  8. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    Indeed, what I think Supah meant was the implict correlation between more immigrants and crime.
  9. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    Actually, I'd be in favour of that... *slap* Anyway, it's funny how apparantly people assume that one has to look like a neo-nazi to hold views that are deemed far-right. Or that what one says isn't racist because one says it isn't. Do you people even comprehend the meaning of 'rechtstaat'? Do you have the slightest inkling of what you are proposing, what implications that would have? Perhaps you haven't checked the Dutch law lately, but it's not your ethnicity that decides whether you are a Dutchman or not, it's whether you have the Dutch nationality (not very surprising). Once someone has a Dutch passport, he is as Dutch as you are. There is no question of having 'more rights'. By your reasoning, one could say that Patrick Kluivert should not be in the team representing the Netherlands in the World Cup, because, well, he's a bit foreign looking isn't he? I'm Polish by origin. I have the Dutch nationality. Let's say Lt Hunter and I murder a poor ol' granny. He would get 20 years, I would get kicked out of country (let's disregard for a minute the fact that it's not clear where, or even whether, I would have to endure my punishment). By doing so, you are assuming that my ethnic background is connected to me committing this crime. After all, apart from that there are no differences between me and Lt Hunter in that example, right? And that, my friend, is RACISM. Or perhaps you'd like to say that this wouldn't apply to me, because you mean dark-skinned people when you speak of 'foreigners'? I've heard that in a discussion once or twice.
  10. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    What?! Read De Volkskrant? Never! I only quote from NRC Handelsblad. Lux et Libertas4life! All joking aside though, there is a certain breed of newspapers in NL that seems to thrive on hysteria *cough*De Telegraaf*cough*... NRC for example has a very strict rule concerning the ethnicity of the persons they report about: unless the ethnic background of the person in question is relevant to the story, it is not mentioned. Obviously in the case of Van Gogh it was relevant. In other cases however, where it isn't, other papers are all to keen on mentioning it and saying implicitly "see, he was Moroccan/Turkish/from the Antilles, see what those folks are capable of?". I won't even mention the likes of De Elsevier because it's an opinion magazine, but really... The Netherlands may have the best score on the Press Freedom World Index, but it sure as hell doesn't say anything about the quality.
  11. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    Yep. Long live hysteria! The way some people act can be descirbed metaphorically as a kind of mental, spontaneous and self-perpetuating orgy. We've had neo-fascists marching through the streets, a vice-prime minister declaring "war on extremism" (gee, now where would this kind of rhetoric be coming from??) and people who want to uphold freedom of speech by stripping some citizens of their rights. The best part is, this whole affair is awfully ironic. The right-wingers clutch at this incident to underline the need for mandatory integration of immigrants: our way or the highway. In the meantime, the Moroccan man who murdered Theo van Gogh spoke perfect Dutch, finished the HAVO (secondary school) with excellent grades and was described as 'very promising' by his teachers. The note he left on van Gogh's butchered corpse was written in perfect Dutch. This is the ironic and quite frankly, tragic bit. The murder wasn't some rabid Moroccan 'goatfucker', frothing at the mouth with hatred of our 'freedom'. No, this was a boy who was raised in our system and educated in our schools. Bearing this in mind, one can draw one of two possible conclusions: that this was an exceptional event, OR that our system is so flawed that is spawns extremists. Knowing my 'fellow countrymen', the second conclusion won't be deemed as absurd as it is. I'd like to extend this issue a little further. This extension might seem somewhat off-topic, so bear with me. Currently, a Dutch version of the British programme "Greatest Briton of All" is being aired in the Netherlands, called, not surprisingly, "the Greates Dutchman of All". The show is now down to the top 10, which includes inter alia William of Orange, Erasmus and, believe it or not, Pim Fortuyn. One could devote a whole discussion to the composition of this top 10, but that's not what I aim to do. As you perhaps know, each of the candidates has an 'ambassador', tasked with explaining to the public why this candidate is the greatest Dutchman. Erasmus is deemed worthy of the title because he can be seen as one of the forefathers of humanism, tolerance and freedom of thought. He undermined the black-and-white thinking of his time, positioned himself in the middle of disputing sides, and highlighted the importance of nuance and consideration for the other man's motives. I look at the world today and I see politicians systematically eroding all that Erasmus has initiated. Centuries of progressive thought are being undone now, and it seems as if people want to return the black-and-white thinking along religious lines. Just makes you wanna jump from joy, doesn't it?
  12. xawery

    International Politics Thread

    Yep. It's exactly the same thing that happened right before the EU expansion. According to the politicians, Western Europe was going to be flooded by hordes of cheap Polish labour, stealing our jobs, pillaging the countryside and eating our babies. It really felt like WW2 propaganda. Lookie here, none of that happened. Apart from the baby eating part, perhaps:;): The verdict is simple: PEOPLE ARE AFRAID OF CHANGE, IN WHATEVER FORM.
  13. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    Lol, I was joking... I kind of hoped my post made that quite clear This is simply not true, at least not in the case of the Netherlands. The integration (assimilation is a pejorative term) of Italians was a very problematic issue for the Dutch government. The Italians stuck together, caused trouble and antagonised the Dutch populace. This resulted in a backlash, with such charming results like "Italians not allowed"-signs in front of restaurants and bars. A report by the Blok commission, which has studied the integration efforts of the Dutch government over the past decades, states that "the integration of most immigrants has been partially or wholly succesful". This is quite a different view from the "utter disaster"-rhetoric of right-wing scaremongers. Blaming a whole ethnic group for the religious excesses of some individuals is not the right thing to do.
  14. xawery

    Us presidential election 2004

    "May you live in interesting times". Well, no complaints from that department. It's the living-bit we might want to worry about.
  15. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    Apollo said that in the original post....... Yes, but he edited the post in the meantime, so he must have added it later on... eh... when I wasn't looking... Oh alright, I didn't read his post with the amount of attention that was due;) Anyway, Van Gogh was a chronic provocateur. After making "Submission" he said that it "would turn out to be a total failure if it didn't offend Muslims". Others have already mentioned other examples of his offensive spree. Is that reason enough to murder someone? Of course not. There are no excuses for murder. But the point is that the media are trying to portray Van Gogh as some kind of overweight angel, a protagonist of free speech, guarding it from all those evil minorities which secretly plot to turn the Netherlands into a Muslim theocracy. De mortuis nil nisi bene, but this is getting ridiculous. The true tragedy of this event is that it will result in a state of national hysteria; marches consisting of people with 'Theo' written on their foreheads; extra hardcover editions of Van Gogh's books (completely with signature), as well non-stop airing of his films for the next 3-4 weeks on every conceivable channel. Additionally, it will give the masses that precious opportunity to bitch about how everything is going to pieces; everyone will feel obliged to vent his/her well-informed opinion ("Marines on every corner...") in front of one of the hundred cameras bound to be stalking the streets. I just HATE how predictable the response of the Dutch public really is. In the meantime, Van Gogh must be laughing his metaphysical arse off at all the hubbub he has helped create. Mission Accomplished.
  16. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    True, the assailant appears to be of Moroccan descent. This was not known at the time I wrote the post. The reason why I expressed my concern about jumping to conclusions was that the exact same thing happened when Fortuyn was shot - everybody was certain it was a Muslim. Turns out it's a caucasian vegan from Wassenaar. Oops.
  17. xawery

    International Politics Thread

    IsthatyouJohnWayne - First of all, let me say that it is quite refreshing to be able to polemise on a civilised level. As with most non-dogmatic discussions, our differences lie in semantics. It depends on how you define culture. I see culture as a concept which is far more all-encompassing, while the current political climate can be ascribed to a relatively small group of people (i.e. politicians). I agree that this is debatable. What is find more striking is what you write next: You seem to believe that either a. the EU is run by Germany and France, or b. a country must match Germany or France's historical profile to fit in the EU-process. The EU can be called many things, but idealistic and visionary is not amongst them. In my view this is a problem. What the EU has become is a very pragmatic, economy-driven union of states. Our mutual values and cultural interconnectedness (which some would rather have erased from our collective memories) are vastly underemphasized. The way things are going now, there is absolutely no ground for any fears about 'losing identity to a European Superstate'. In varietate concordia. Until that becomes 'e pluribus unum', such accusations can only be classified as scaremongering. There is another adjective that cannot be seriously used to describe the EU, and that's 'revolutionary'. The creation of the EU has been a steady, well reflected upon process, guided by a desire for consensus. Bear in mind that the predecessor of the EU was co-created by the Benelux countries - small but strong pragmatists with a historical development akin to that of GB. In other words: the fundaments of the EU are not exclusively influenced nor dominated by the drastic historical development you speak of. Yes, but if you admit that culture is not static, then a snapshot of it ("culture at any given moment") cannot be used to describe culture because, as we both agree, it is dynamic. It's like taking a photograph of a lorry waiting for the light to change to green, and using this photograph to describe the lorry's whole trip. I'll skip the next part where you agree with me, and move on to this bit: This is rather ironic. Of course there are linguistic ties to other nations, you just happened to unite them in a union under the various acts of union. And what about the Republic of Ireland? Also, you seem to be forgetting the close ties the UK has to Germany. England would be quite different now if it had not been for the Saxons. By the by, English is a Germanic language... Also, the UK is not the only country whose language has spread throughout the world. The same can be said for Spain and France. Pretty much every (ex)colonial power. The interesting thing about all this is that you claim not to believe in any 'fabled idiosyncrasy', but in the meantime you try to prove the UK's difference by emphasising aspects which are also presenet in other EU countries. I cannot shake off the feeling that the British (pardon the generalisation) would like to believe that they're very different from the rest of Europe, and thus conveniently disregard obvious common values and traits. Cognitive dissonance at its best. Again, the idea that the EU is striving to become some kind of merged superstate where national culture is verboten shines through your statements. This is not the case. If anything, the EU is trying to become a suprastate; a common forum to facilitate cooperation between European countries. Do you know how much redundancies have been eliminated by creating a single European market? Within the EU, financial institutions no longer have to worry about foreign exchange risk. I can wire money from the Netherlands to Poland at practically no cost using the IBAN and BIC numbers. Competition is thriving - if I don't like the prices here, I'll hop to Germany and buy the things I need at a lower price using a single currency (I do this when it comes to buying whisky). The EU is an economic union. And that's a good thing, because strong economic ties are the best guarantee for peace. I cannot help but get annoyed at the fact that people refuse to reap economies of scale and benefits of economic and financial harmonisation, simply because they get all misty-eyed at the thought of seeing € instead of Šin front of their account balance.
  18. xawery

    Theo van Gogh murdered

    The problem is that everyone automatically assumes that it must have been Muslims who have slain Van Gogh. In the meantime, the media seem to conveniently omit the fact that he has received various death threats from right-wing, neo-fascist groups. Theo van Gogh has fought verifociously for freedom of speech and has made many enemies as well as friends in the process. Personally, I found him to be a competent film maker as well as a complete oaf.
  19. xawery

    Anyone interested.

    Lol yeah... BTW, that gotf.net gallery is really disturbing. What especially scares me is that people whom I estimated to be in their early/mid teens (judging by their spelling, style and argumentation) turn out to be adults... On Albert's picture... the chap on the right looks like he just vomited all over his shirt:S Heh... I sincerely doubt this topic will have a long span of existence.
  20. xawery

    International Politics Thread

    While I generally agree with Albert, I have to agree with ITYJW's criticism of Albert's post. It is rather ironic to see someone critcise stereotyping by employing sweeping generalisations. Nevertheless, there are some flaws in that critque which I would like to point out. First of all, Albert wrote he didn't believe the German culture to be superior. The national progressiveness and political conservatism you speak of are not part of a nation's culture - they are simply terms to denote the current political climate (looking back, national progressiveness can hardly be called a characterising feature of the German culture). Second, interaction with other cultures leading to the eradication of one's own is one of the most often repeated and most heavily flawed arguments. It assumes that culture is static which it obiously is not. There is this general misconception that British culture has managed to escape foreign influences over the years by clinging on to the 'sweet isolation'. This is however a complete illusion. Centuries of colonising and being the world's trade have ensured a constant influence of other cultures. This supposedly idiosyncratic British culture you hold so dear is an aggregate of outward influences, just like any other culture. Live with it. Another aspect which I find to be very characteristic of conservatives is that to protect their values and traditions (which obviously aren't shared by the whole of the population) they want to shield the society from influences from without. I find this approach extremely lazy and arrogant. If you are so afraid of losing your culture, promote it, fight for it! Organise and support exhibitions, history workshops, poetry readings, what have you. Be proactive. This reactionary complaint about 'furriners contaminating our culture' is nothing short of infuriating. You cannot escape the trend of globalisation, and by this I mean the increasing interaction between nations and cultures. To truly isolate oneself you would have to become some kind of Taliban. And just to make one thing clear - I am extremely fond of the British culture and the fruits it has borne. The literature, the poetry - the English tongue is one of the most fascinating and -ironically, considering this discussion- one of the most eclectic languages out there. This is exactly why I find the passivity of the British culture's supposed protectors to be so distressing.
  21. xawery

    College and University -> is it just me....

    To all European students out there - how do you feel about the implementation of the bachelor-master structure? I cannot tell how it has progressed in another countries, but here in the Netherlands the process is in full swing... My year was actually the first one to experience the full spectrum of the Ba-Ma system. All I can say is that it sucks big time to be the guinea pigs caught in a transition.... but the prospect of being able to study abroad without too much hassle seems worth it. For example, after receiving my BSc I could easily go abroad to get my MSc (the costs, however, prevented me from doing so ). Any thoughts, experiences?
  22. xawery

    International Politics Thread

    Ah, this warrants a reply. In what way should that lead to a different treatment of Buttiglione? "Hey, you're open about your bigoted opinions, so it's ok, you can stay"? I don't think so. I quite agree, but this is not about excluding all people with professed religious beliefs. This is about preventing someone from achieving a position where he is supposed to protect the interests of those he deems morally wrong. Furthermore, we certainly can judge about his ability to seperate his personal beliefs from the job. Do you think someone who has helped found Communione e Liberazione, the ultra-conservative group tasked with campaigning against the secularisation of Italian and European society, is going to ignore his values? Whether you as an atheist acknowledge homosexuality as a sin is completely irrelevant, because the notion of sin, as used by the Christians, does not exist for an atheist. The point is that the concept of sin is a very pregnant one for a Catholic; it is something that will doom you to eternal suffering. Having read that and bearing Buttiglione's past in mind, please reassess his statement. You want someone who believes that homosexuality is immoral and will make you burn in hell to head the office tasked inter alia with protecting homosexuals from discrimination? It's a bizarre paradox. Also, you claim it is possible to deem something immoral and yet not illegal. This is not the point. Aside from the fact that the whole suggestion of making a sexual preference illegal is ludicrous, this mindset assumes that there are only two possible options: something is either legal or illegal. But that is not the point! The commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security is also supposed to take steps against discrimination, including discrimination against gender and sexual preference. How can you expect someone with Buttiglione's past and views to act proactively against such discrimination? This matter isn't black and white like the legal-illegal situation, so it would prove very hard to evaluate Buttiglione's performance. This would be the kind of ambiguity that is totally unacceptable. You can think or believe whatever you like, you may believe that the moon is made of cheese or that there is a hell with a devil in it, shovelling coals into a furnace. That is not the point. The point is that when you hold beliefs that are at odds with the law, you cannot be entrusted with a function which is supposed to uphold that law, especially if there is no clear way of holding you accountable for your actions (as explained above). In sum, Buttiglione may be a competent administrator, but granting him this position would be imprudent, unwise and an unwarranted endangerment of a secular system.
  23. xawery

    International Politics Thread

    Bordoy, if I may make a suggestion - read the Economist. This opinion paper's stance towards the EU is generally critical, but fair. Their criticism is well-founded and based on accountable facts. I am not asking you to change your views (as much as I do not agree with them), but it would be a refreshing change if you were to arm yourself with sound knowledge. On another note: you say that you are Catholic, so I may assume you know the Bible. You should thus be familiar with Matthew, Chapter 7, verse 5: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." It takes some hubris to criticise another country's educational system, while a survey shows that 11% of British population thinks Hitler was a fictional figure, and 9% thinks the same of Winston Churchill. Historical awareness is generally falling, but that's because people are idiots, not because of the EU's evil plot to erase GB from everybody's memory.
  24. xawery

    International Politics Thread

    For pete's sake, people... if you truly think your national identity is threatened by the absence of the Union Jack on your plates, then that identity must be pretty flimsy indeed... And you know it isn't. It's fighting tooth and nail over such trivialities that distracts people from the things that really matter, the true flaws of the constitution. As flawed as it may be, I see the constitution as a necessary next step in the development of the union. Come to think of it, the troubles that have plagued the drafting process are nothing short of logical. How could anyone expect representatives of 25 culturally and socio-economically diverse countries to reach any kind of agreement without conflict? Incidentally, it is not entirely true that Poland and Spain were the only countries to block the process. After the socialists won the Spanish elections, both Spain and Poland were prepared for compromises. Jacque Chirac however, was not, and France retained its hard line. Read about it here.
  25. xawery

    International Politics Thread

    Alas, we're not there yet... still 9 referanda to go:S
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