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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Interview with Husky

Wow, my last post on e-sports brilliantly got no viewers at all. It might be that e-sports isnt growing as much as i pictured, or, and what im hoping for,  its just people not being aware or not understanding of the phenomenon. To give you some more insight in to this, i would like to divert your attention an interview Paul Miller had with Mike Lamond, better known as Husky. Husky is a starcraft shoutcaster and commentates starcraft games professionally,  showing its not just pro-gamers that can make a living of e-sports anymore. This interview gives a very good picture of what Husky does and how he views e-sports and its future.

Interview

E-sports on the rise

Although not many people can see the charm of e-sports as spectator sports, they are clearly getting more popular. This clearly showed on this years Dreamhack Winter edition. . Dreamhack Winter is the world largest Lan-party which is annually held  in Sweden. Dreamhack Summer is annually held in Valencia Spain.

Being such a big event, Dreamhack grew out to the major e-sport event of Europe. For this years finals they had a stadium set up, called Dreamhack Arena,  with over 4000 seats.  This is the place where the finals of the biggest competitions of Dreamhack have taken place this weekend, the most popular tournament being Starcraft 2.

Starcraft 2 is rapidly growing in popularity in Europe and the US. Gamers identify with the playing professionals and love to follow their exploits. This has even led to a new kind of bar entertainment called Barcraft. Cnet UK explains the phenomenon:

Barcraft

Dreamhack notes the following numbers themselves. This are all viewers of the 17 livestreams of all the games during the event.

  • Concurrent viewers, average peak: 212,003
  • Concurrent viewers, highest peak: 559,664
  • Unique video views: 23,047,554
  • Absolute unique viewers: 17,332,113
  • Total Viewing Time (hours): 169,320 hours

The Starcraft 2 finals were a best of 7, and all 7 games were played in a nailbiting final.  The winner was team Liquid’s HerO, who beat Puma of team Evil Geniuses. HerO went home with €21.704,- in prizemoney.

During the starcraft 2 finals the Dreamarena was packed, nearly all seats were filled. 70.000 tuned into the stream to follow the finals on a saturday night. Every major tournament the crowd grows. This was the first time a stadium was needed to seat the e-sports fans in Europe, but it will definitively  not be the last time.

SCAF represses demonstrations violently

In my previous article i pointed out that the SCAF in Egypt is trying to keep in power, even with the upcoming elections. Why do they try to keep the power after the promises they made this spring?

Before the uprising this spring they let Mubarak in power they did nothing before to protect the Egyptian people from him. But also ever since Mubarak was put out of power they have been continuing the opressive regime of Mubarak to keep the seat of power.

The SCAF is trying to keep civilians out of power. The Muslim Brotherhood is the party in Egypt which would win free elections if they were held. They would not hold back from looking into the role of the military in the Mubarak regime and the atrocities being committed by the police and army right now. The SCAF is claiming that army and police use rubber bullets against protesters but the Health ministry allready confirmed that live ammunition is being used against protesters. The teargas being used by the armed forces is not ordinary CS teargas, it is CR teargas which essentially is a teargas agent with nervegas attributes. This is a very dangerous agent that also was in use in South Africa during the Apartheid. The use of it back then led to world wide moral outrage.

Its effects are approximately 6 to 10 times more powerful than those of CS gas. CR causes intense skin irritation, particularly around moist areas,blepharospasm causing temporary blindness, coughing and gasping for breath, and panic. It is capable of causing immediate incapacitation. It is a suspected carcinogen. It is toxic, but less so than CS gas, by ingestion and exposure. However, it can be lethal in large quantities. In a poorly ventilated space, an individual may inhale a lethal dose within minutes. Death is caused by asphyxiation and pulmonary edema. The effect of CR is long-term and persistent. CR can persist on surfaces, especially porous ones, for up to 60 days.

The protester I interviewed for this article showed me the following video’s. While the SCAF denies that they ordered for the attacks on the protestors and said they are only protecting the protesters, these videos made by protesters show coordinated police attacks on protesters:

While the SCAF points to violence from prostestors and says molotov cocktails were being used against police, the following video clearly show from which side the molotov cocktails are coming.

The SCAF is playing a really dirty game over the back of the Egyptian people to secure the empty seat Mubarak left behind. They are claiming to be guardian of “constitutional legitimacy”. This would mean  that even if a government is fairly elected in the upcoming elections, the SCAF reserves the right to put them out of power. They also reserve the right to exempt their budget from civilian oversight. While most western media (with some exceptions) claim the demonstration are because the changes of the government are to slow, in reality they are because there are no changes at all. The SCAF called elections but also called the right to ignore them. Some of the opposition parties, like the Muslim Brotherhood, hope for the best and call for the elections to proceed. The protesters however, do not accept the terms of the SCAF and demand real free elections and the resignation of the head of the SCAF, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

China is making the leap for a green future.

No matter how you look at it, green energy is the future. The earths resources are finite and we can’t run on fossil feuls forever. Where Europe and the US had the chance to fight the recession by investing in green technology, China now starts a massive lead. They have announced an investment in green technology that will generate about 9,5 million jobs.

All of this in sharp contrast of some of the US gop candidates who have been actively opposing laws which require American light bulb producers to develop eco-friendly alternatives. Europe, being mainly goverened by conservative goverments and not allowing countries to invest to much with the current euro crisis will not have the ability to invest in green technology. China has obviously seen this and plans to jump into the hole that will form in the near future.

Meanwhile China also plans to reduce its carbon output by 16% over the next 5 years while it allready managed to drasticly lower its carbon emissions in the past few years. Where the west seems to fail to prepare for the future, China is taking it by storm.

source/read more

Meanwhile in Russia

St. Petersburg is trying to pass a bill which will outlaw any propagation of a gay, bisexual or transgender lifestyle to minors. According to allout.org the bill does not specificate what will be considered an offence. Leaving the bill with the power to make it illegal for any person to write a book, publish an article or speak in public about being gay, lesbian or transgender.

Officials of United Russia in St Petersburg insist that the bill is only aimed at prohibiting homosexual propaganda to minors. They blame a misrepresentation of the media of the bill to be the problem. This does not adress the concerns Allout.org has voiced though and still leaves a large room for interpertation of the bill on behalf of the authorities which could lead to repression of the gay community.

Allout has started a petition about this, there are only a few hours left for signing it.

edit 24-11: the bill is being delayed by a week, its not off though and the petition is still on.

Egypt continues its revolution.

The Tahrir square is again contested by protesting Egyptians and governmental security forces. Many media outlets speak of a second uprising or of a second revolution. This is however still the same revolution. A revolution isn’t done in a heartbeat. The new military government that took over from Mubarak is even more repressive in some aspects then their predecessor and seeks to establish a military dictatorship.

Some time ago I talked to a protester. He told me about how he saw people get shot and how lucky he had been that he was spared. I asked him if he wasn’t afraid that the new government would not change anything. And everything would have been for nothing. He stated that if that happened he and his friends would simply go back to Tahrir square and do it all over again. He had no doubt that everyone who was involved in the revolution will keep on fighting for the changes Egypt needs. This seems to be exactly what happened the last few days.

The Supreme Council of Armed Forces who took over from Mubarak has been critisized for a number of things recently. They refuse independent investigations into several matters. One being the Koptic demonstration of 9 Oktober which left  28 dead and at least 500 injured. Violence used by armed forces is only being investigated by the SCAF leaving very little room for justice. The use of torture has also not been reduced since the regime  of Mubarak fell.

This international critique is not the main reason for the current demonstration. The main reason for the current demonstrations is the way the SCAF is trying to establish a permanent militairy power over civilian governement. Al Arabiya reported the following:

The rally was called to protest a document floated by the government which declares the military the guardian of “constitutional legitimacy,” suggesting the armed forces could have the final word on major policies even after a new president is elected. The document, which includes guiding principles for Egypt’s new constitution, also introduces clauses that would shield it from civilian oversight.

This would declare the military the ulitmate ruler of Egypt. The current demonstrations have left a death toll is up to 33 for the violence of the past few days. The SCAF tries to repress the change that put them in power and establish a militairy dictatorship in the mean time. Although they claim not to want this power they certainly seem very motivated to keep things the way they were before Mubarak fell. This leads the protesters to say that the SCAF is wearing a Mubarak mask.

Its hard for me to form a good image of what exactly is going on, so please if you have comments or addition to this article, please add them in the comment section.

Political power to the highest bidder

In the  US school lunches must consist of healthy products. Thats a very good idea since obesity is a growing problem. School lunches are required to server a minimum amount of vegetables. In order to meet the budget of school lunches congress made pizza part of the vegetable food group. Jesus gave us water to wine, the US gives us pizza to vegetable. How did they arrive at this conclusion? Any sane person would know that the thin layer of tomato sauce is not enough to replace a serving of vegetables.  How could they back such a stupid decision? Well simple, the frozen food lobby bought convinced them. This once again shows how big the influence of corporations is in US politics. Because we want to point an laugh at this absurdity, it overshadows the implications of this action. It really shows that politics is all about the highest bidder now.

For us here in Europe this seems a distant problem. Our absurdity of the week, declaring that water does not prevent dehydration, was made to frustrate bottled water companys using this in commercials to get people to drink more water. So we would think that our politicians are in better shape. However with the euro crisis sweeping around more and more governments are bringing in experts on the matter. Giving corporations an opportunity to extend their influence. Instead of taking away the influence of corporations on the euro, we roll out the red carpet.

Its appalling to see how nations are bringing in the very people who stand at the source of the euro crisis. It were these very same Goldman Sachs employees who helped Greece and Italy embezzle part of their debt to be able to join the euro. And now we are in a full blown crisis, we give even more control to them. These countries will only get deeper and deeper into corporate pockets. Its the very same corporatism that has the US in its power and a dangerous development of the euro crisis.

Read more here

Roman Catholic Church child safety co-ordinator

The name alone is quite ironic allready. A Roman Catholic Church child safety co-ordinator. But on the other its good that the church is now finaly taking the safety of children seriously instead of just covering crimes up. What would a child safety co-ordinator do throughout the day? Well in the case of Christopher J. , he investigates historic claims of child abuse. This would happen with interviews of victims when they are adults. This way he was responsible for child protection at 120 churches and communitys for nine years. Thats an entire different side of the catholic church then lately has been in the news you would say? Well…. Not so much. Christopher J. is now convicted of possessing over 4000 pictures of child pornography.

After police traced a lead on the uploading of pictures of young boys on a social networking site an investigation was started.  When the police subsequently raided the house of J. the images were discovered on his church issued laptop.  The church responded by sacking  J. and barring him from catholic services and released the following statement:

‘The church is and remains absolutely committed to ensuring that a safe environment exists for all in the church and the knowledge that J. was himself guilty of such offences has been a great shock to the many people who had placed their trust in him and worked with him to protect vulnerable children and adults,’

Read more here.

Turning a coalmine into a renewable energy operation

Germany is facing a serious transition into renewable energy as coal mines will lose their subsidies and nuclear power will be abolished. Germany is planning to be at 35% renewable energy in 2020, and will abolish the subsidies for coalmining in 2018. To meet these new standards, one of the coal mining companies, Ruhrkohle AG, has planned to turn their coalmine into a renewable energy source.  By using the existing mineshafts, Ruhrkohle is planning to create a hydroelectricity plant underground. The amount of electricity generated will be about as much as a medium-sized coal plant. This could very well be one of the solutions to Germany’s quest for renewable energy.

Source: Spiegel

How to pick a witness.

Say you wanna start mining uranium around the grand canyon. Awesome! But mining uranium  could be devastating to the region. So before you do you will have to get a bill passed that protects mining claims in the area. This way nobody can stop you from mining there. But you will need to convince a congress comite that mining uranium will not be harmfull in any way. Who would you pick as a witness? The republicans are good at picking witnesses. They picked a retired United States Geological Survey scientist. Dr. Karen Wenrich. She has been actively contradicting any claim of the harm that could be done by the mining operations.

All well and good, a scientist says that there wont be much harm for the enviroment, then it must be a-ok! Right?

Well maybe she really is an objective scientist in this case, but having a deal of $225,000 hanging in the balance during the hearing does not make you look like an impartial witness.

 

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