Monday, May 30, 2005

I KNOW I should be writing about Chirac's fracas in yesterday's EU pseudo-constitution referendum. Actually, I haven't because I'm savoring every bit of it: I concur with David Carr (also because I'm fairly busy today, so posting will be unlikely until tomorrow).

Meanwhile, if you're for a more serious approach to the issue, there's probably no better place than Joe Gandelman's superb roundup.

Click here to send me an email

Sunday, May 29, 2005

GEORGE WILL starts bluntly:
The European Union, which has a flag no one salutes and an anthem no one knows, now seeks ratification of a constitution few have read.
Read the rest (via No Pasaran)

Click here to send me an email

Friday, May 27, 2005

THE TIME MACHINE EXISTS, and we all have one: I kinda enjoyed this short essay by Jack Wheeler (via Joe Katzman). Weekend reading.

Click here to send me an email

German foreign minister Joschka Fischer said yesterday, after meeting with his Spanish colleague Miguel Ángel Moratinos, that he was not "satisfied at all" with the effects of the European Union's policy toward Cuba, which the Zapatero administration favors. "I'm not happy at all. We strongly criticize the situation for human rights and democratic freedom in Cuba. Expelling a Euro MP or an MP from any EU country's parliament for meeting with dissidents is unacceptable and must be criticized," said Fischer at a joint press conference with Moratinos. Fischer said, "Germany will carefully analyze the situation regarding the decision the European Union should make, but it is clear that Cuba has to make a move. We are dealing with human rights, with fundamental democratic freedoms. This will influence our future relations, either negatively or positively," with the Castro regime.

Click here to send me an email

AFTER THE UNACCEPTABLE episode I mentioned a couple of days ago, more crushing of dissent in Spanish universities, this time in Barcelona.

Click here to send me an email

Thursday, May 26, 2005

"SPANISH GROWTH outstrips leading European rivals", the government-owned news agency EFE, reports:
The Spanish economy grew 0.9 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months and was up 3.3 percent from a year earlier.

It is the largest growth in the economy for three years, analysts said.

The level of growth outstripped many leading countries in the so-called eurozone.
Who'd've thunk after reading on this blogs about current account deficits and siestas, eh? Well, let's keep reading EFE's report to see if we learn anything:
The growth figures were compiled according to a new way of calculating and comparing this data, an INE [national statistics institute, also gov't owned] spokesman said.
Say no more, EFE, say no more. I guess they deserve credit for explaining what the secret sauce is, on the same article!

UPDATE. More about Spain's economy at the Financial Times. If you read it you'll quickly notice that the FT is not owned by the Zapatero administration, as EFE is.

Click here to send me an email

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

CRUSHING OF DISSENT in Spanish universities too.

UPDATE. Video here.

Click here to send me an email

THE PROBLEM when a terrorist group which has been severely weakened by relentless police and judicial action is offered a negotiation, as Zapatero has offered ETA -and after getting an approval for it in Parliament with 'yes' votes from the Socialist party and it's leftist parliamentary allies, and the 'no' vote from the Popular Party-, is that it gives the terrorist an incentive to try to get an even better hand before sitting at the table. Ten days ago it was four bombs; last weekend it was two more.

Today's it's been a car bomb in Madrid's center:
A car bomb exploded in the Spanish capital on Wednesday, injuring three people, 45 minutes after a Basque newspaper received a warning in the name of Basque separatist group ETA, police said.

Police sealed off the area in the San Blas district of northeastern Madrid where the bomb exploded and smoke could be seen rising into the air.

The warning gave police time to clear the area before the explosion, according to state radio, but emergency officials said three people were slightly injured.

The blast appeared to be an act of defiance from ETA after a vote by the Spanish Parliament last week to grant the government permission to open peace talks with the group if it laid down its arms.

More updated information in the Spanish press (link in Spanish): it's 53 injured in total, though only 5 required hospitalization; and the bomb went off 15 minutes before it was supposed to according to the call warning of the explosion. That's very usual for ETA bastards, and it has costed several lives from police in the past when they were still cordoning the area. Sometimes they have warned of the right time, but failed to mention the "detail" that there's a second one meant to explode 15-30 minutes later, catching them off guard.

UPDATE. Minor edits in last paragraph correcting some grammar errors and for clarity (I guess there'll be more mistakes, but I'll have to live with it!)

Click here to send me an email

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I'D LIKE THIS to be true, of course, but I'm not going to believe it just because the savages themselves are saying it:
Al Qaeda's group in Iraq said on Tuesday its leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been wounded and urged Muslims to pray for him, according to a Web posting. "O nation of Islam... Pray for the healing of our Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from an injury he suffered in the path of God," said a statement from the Al Qaeda Organization for Holy War in Iraq. It's authenticity could not be verified.
What can I say: Heh.

UPDATE. Read Bill Roggio at Winds of Change.

Click here to send me an email

WOW, the Iraqis are really mad for the pictures of Saddam "calvinklein" Hussein:

Click here to send me an email

GOOD FRIEND of this blog -who even wrote an interesting guest post- Aaron Hanscom has started with his coworker Ari Kaufman his own weblog, Partial Transcripts. Straight to my bookmarks and blogroll: they'll have lots of things to say!

Click here to send me an email

Monday, May 23, 2005

IT'S the 28th installment of Arthur Chrenkoff's good news from Iraq. Read it in full if you want to know what the MSM is keeping in their desk drawers, so as not make the Iraq situation, well, worthwile.

Click here to send me an email

THEY COULD VERY WELL say 'yes' only because on the other side there's Bush:
The European Airbus company, currently under fire from the United States for allegedly taking illicit government subsidies, has sought state funds from Spain to help it build an aircraft that will compete head-to-head with its US rival Boeing, the Spanish news agency Europa said on Sunday.

The agency quoted an unnamed source in the Spanish industry ministry as saying: "We have received a request for aid that we are currently studying."

As if Spain's economy went rolling along...

(via Lucianne)

Click here to send me an email

MARK STEYN on the Koran-gate. As usual, it would be a sin not to read what he has to say.

Click here to send me an email

KEITH THOMPSON explains, in a remarkable piece on the San Francisco Chronicle, why he's finally abandoning the left:
Nightfall, Jan. 30. Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.

I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.

My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.
(via Blogdex)

Click here to send me an email

Sunday, May 22, 2005

TENSION between France and Spain over the latter amnesty for illegal immigrants:
French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin made it clear that France would not embark on any legalization programs like the one in Spain, calling it a bad idea.

Spanish officials denied causing problems for their neighbors, arguing that the legalized workers would have been more likely to travel elsewhere if they had remained undocumented and in the underground economy.

Click here to send me an email

ANTI-AMERICANISM, anti-Semitism, anti-capitalism: that's the recipe of the cocktail poisoning Germany's contemporary political life, writes Wolfgang Munchau on The Spectator. Free reg. required, but it's worth it:
Looking back at the 1960s and 1970s, when I grew up in Germany, one of the most striking things was that everyone talked about work and money. The country was infuriatingly materialistic. The old West Germany felt more like an economy than a country. It used to have a proper currency, the Deutschmark, but it lacked a proper political capital. At a time when the British believed in incomes policies, capital controls and state ownership, Germany was as laissez-faire an economy as you could find anywhere in Europe. The Germans were the Americans of Europe, as a friend remarked at the time. Everyone was brimming with confidence and the superiority that comes with the belief that you are running the world’s most superior economy. The 1970s were the heyday of Germany’s social market economy, the economic equivalent of having your cake and eating it.

Unification was supposed to make Germany even stronger. The opposite happened. The country’s political leadership mismanaged unification through forcing monetary union too early, at the wrong exchange rate, and on the basis of West Germany’s high social costs and bureaucratic rules. When I returned to Germany in the 1990s, what surprised me most was not the poor performance of the economy — this I expected. I was most shocked by the extraordinary loss of self-confidence among the political and business elites, combined with a poisonous cocktail of the three big As: anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and anti-capitalism.
Read till the end. Of course, the phenomenon affects many countries and not only Germany, though it has special traits there. But is it a worrying sign of times to come for newly US-liberated countries, like Iraq, Afghanistan and, gasp, the staunchily pro-American former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe?

Click here to send me an email

AND NOW it's Azerbaijan:
Azerbaijani protesters demanding free elections were beaten back Saturday by police, who arrested dozens as they broke up a banned rally in the oil-rich former Soviet republic on the Caspian Sea four days before the inauguration of a new pipeline, The Associated Press reported.

Tension between the government and the opposition in the tightly controlled country has increased since an October 2003 election in which Ilham Aliev replaced his late father, Geidar Aliev, as president in a vote the opposition said was marred by fraud. A parliamentary vote is scheduled for November.

Officials had forbidden the opposition to protest, citing security concerns four days ahead of the visit of foreign leaders who will attend a ceremony marking the opening of Azerbaijan’s portion of the U.S.-backed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

The violence broke out as groups of protesters tried to defy the ban and make their way to a central square in the capital, Baku, shouting “Freedom!” and “Free elections!”

Click here to send me an email

THE CATALAN REGIONAL PRESIDENT and his parliamentary ally (and Zapatero's in Madrid, too) went on an official visit to Israel this week, and acted almost like a pair of teenagers on a graduation trip:
Meanwhile a Catalan delegation went to Israel and behaved like a bunch of assholes. First they had an homage to Yitzhak Rabin, and the Catalan flag wasn't there, so separatist leader Carod-Rovira refused to attend it. Refused to attend a ceremony honoring a prime minister murdered precisely because he tried to make peace because his region's flag wasn't there! Then there was a ceremony in homage to the victims of the Holocaust, which the Spanish ambassador was at, and they only had a Catalan flag, which bothered the ambassador since his country's flag wasn't at an official government occasion. They played regional symbolic politics at an homage to the victims of the Holocaust! Then, get this, on Friday premier Pasqual Maragall and ERC leader Carod-Rovira paid a visit in the morning to the Holocaust Museum, the Wailing Wall, and the Holy Sepulchre. They were so deeply impressed with the solemn occasion that they bought a souvenir plastic crown of thorns and Maragall got a photo of Carod wearing it in front of everybody with a huge smile on his ignorant, arrogant face. And some people dare to complain about foreigners' inappropriate behavior in Spain! Gee, let's make fun of Jesus after visiting the most sacred sites of the Jewish and Christian religions and the museum dedicated to the real victims of genocide.
There's more, read the rest.

Click here to send me an email

YOU KNOW HOW IT GOES, writes Robert Mayer:
as soon as your diplomats get expelled, its finally a humanitarian crisis! European lawmakers are finally urging their countries to get tough on Castro. This, of course, after they lifted sanctions on the regime earlier in the year.
Don't miss the almost real-time pictures posted by Stefania over at Free Thoughts.

UPDATE. Gateway Pundit has more, including video.

Click here to send me an email

"George W. Bush has unleashed a tsunami on this region," a shrewd Kuwaiti merchant who knows the way of his world said to me. The man had no patience with the standard refrain that Arab reform had to come from within, that a foreign power cannot alter the age-old ways of the Arabs. "Everything here--the borders of these states, the oil explorations that remade the life of this world, the political outcomes that favored the elites now in the saddle--came from the outside. This moment of possibility for the Arabs is no exception." A Jordanian of deep political experience at the highest reaches of Arab political life had no doubt as to why history suddenly broke in Lebanon, and could conceivably change in Syria itself before long. "The people in the streets of Beirut knew that no second Hama is possible; they knew that the rulers were under the gaze of American power, and knew that Bush would not permit a massive crackdown by the men in Damascus."

My informant's reference to Hama was telling: It had been there in 1982, in that city of the Syrian interior, that the Baathist-Alawite regime had broken and overwhelmed Syrian society. Hama had been a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fortress of the Sunni middle class. It had rebelled, and the regime unleashed on it a merciless terror. There were estimates that 25,000 of its people perished in that fight. Thenceforth, the memory of Hama hung over the life of Syria--and Lebanon. But the people in the plazas of Beirut, and the Syrian intellectuals who have stepped forth to challenge the Baathist regime, have behind them the warrant, and the green light, of American power and protection.

To venture into the Arab world, as I did recently over four weeks in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq, is to travel into Bush Country. I was to encounter people from practically all Arab lands, to listen in on a great debate about the possibility of freedom and liberty. I met Lebanese giddy with the Cedar Revolution that liberated their country from the Syrian prison that had seemed an unalterable curse. They were under no illusions about the change that had come their way. They knew that this new history was the gift of an American president who had put the Syrian rulers on notice. The speed with which Syria quit Lebanon was astonishing, a race to the border to forestall an American strike that the regime could not discount. I met Syrians in the know who admitted that the fear of American power, and the example of American forces flushing Saddam Hussein out of his spider hole, now drive Syrian policy. They hang on George Bush's words in Damascus, I was told: the rulers wondering if Iraq was a crystal ball in which they could glimpse their future.

Click here to send me an email

MORE TORTURE in Abu Ghraib!:
The Mukhabarat never extracted a verbal confession from Mr Muhammad during the four months he was held in a tiny cell in the headquarters. He said that he was interrogated by a Mukhabarat officer named Basim twice a day, each time being whipped with cables while suspended from the ceiling, his hands tied behind his back. He had his jaw, ribs and hands broken. Sometimes he was taken to the basement, strapped into an electric chair and given shock treatment. “I had nothing to confess to,” he said. “They said I worked for Mossad (the Israeli intelligence agency) but my only mistake was that I sold Bazoft a roll of film.” In January 1990, days before Mr Muhammad’s trial, the Mukhabarat inked his thumb and pressed it against a statement in lieu of a signature. He was charged under article 158 of Iraqi law and sentenced by a military court to life imprisonment. He was transferred to the notorious Abu Greeb penitentiary, west of Baghdad, where 7,000 political prisoners lived in constant fear of torture and execution. He spent the next three years in solitary confinement. He was taken out of his cell twice a week for beatings. He said that in the prison basement were deep pits, each a metre wide. Up to ten prisoners deemed guilty of disciplinary offences would be dropped into these pits and kept there for a week at a time. “Many died in those pits,” he said. Last summer Mr Muhammad had the top joint of the second finger of his left hand smashed off with an iron bar for insulting Saddam, an offence for which five years were added to his sentence.
Who gives a damn; it was during Saddam's times (via Harry's Place).

Click here to send me an email

WHILE ZAPATERO seeks a negotiation with ETA (breaking the successful 'anti-terrorist pact' with the now-in-opposition PP -which called for relentless pursuit of terrorists with legal and police tools, and denied any possibility of negotiation unless terrorists laid down its weapons- and angering its victims), ETA returns the "favor":
A small bomb believed to have been planted by the Basque separatist group ETA exploded next to the home of a Basque businessman on Sunday, causing no injuries, police said.

A second bomb was defused in a park, also in the town of Zarautz, near San Sebastian, Basque regional police said in a statement.

And just like after last week's four bombs, to Zapatero this doesn't seem reason enough to say: "Forget it, guys". Why?

Click here to send me an email

FRENCH MILITARY AUTHORITIES have launched an investigation of rape accusations against its troops stationed in the Ivory Coast, according to Le Monde:
L'état-major des armées a confirmé, vendredi 20 mai, qu'une double enquête a été ordonnée à la suite d'une plainte pour viol concernant quatre soldats de la force française "Licorne" , stationnée en Côte d'Ivoire. L'affaire se serait déroulée le 6 mai, dans le village de Madinani, situé dans la moitié nord du pays contrôlée par les adversaires du régime du président Laurent Gbagbo.

Une "enquête de commandement" a été ouverte, ainsi qu'une enquête judiciaire menée par la prévôté militaire, et un dossier a été transmis au procureur de Paris. Les faits concerneraient une jeune fille de ce village dont le tuteur a, dans un premier temps, déposé une plainte auprès des soldats de l'Onuci (les Forces de l'ONU en Côte d'Ivoire), 9 jours après le viol présumé. Celui-ci impliquerait quatre soldats âgés de 20 à 25 ans. On précise, de source militaire, que c'est un journal de l'opposition qui, le premier, a révélé cette affaire.

Of course, it's a good thing they're investigating this, but I wonder when will they investigate far worse things. The cynic in me suspects they may be investigating this incident to show critics that they are concerned about the behaviour of their troops and therefore avoid investigating the other allegations.

Anyway, a rape is a very serious matter and it merits an investigation. I just wish the media and anti-war guys would devote to it even a small fraction of the attention they gave to Abu Ghraib.

In my dreams.

Click here to send me an email

Saturday, May 21, 2005

GOOD THING it's the weekend, because I'm going to spend hours perusing this amazing collection of pictures of the American Civil War (via Blogdex).

Click here to send me an email

WHEN UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL Kofi Annan quipped several years ago that he could "do business" with Saddam Hussein, he meant it figuratively. In light of the substantive charges coming out of the ever-expanding Oil-for-Food scandal, the throwaway line seems revealing or at least ironic.

"I think we have to take him literally," says Republican senator Norm Coleman, who is leading one of eight investigations into the corruption and mismanagement of the U.N.'s largest-ever humanitarian relief effort.

The basic outline of the scandal is simple: Saddam Hussein used the Oil-for-Food program to circumvent U.N. sanctions imposed after the Gulf war and to enrich himself and his allies. He did this by bribing leading journalists and diplomats and demanding kickbacks from those who profited from selling Iraqi oil. That he was able to do so indicates at least that the U.N. badly mismanaged the program it set up in December 1996. None of this is particularly astonishing. No one is surprised to learn that Saddam Hussein cheats, that politicians take bribes, and that the competence level of the U.N. bureaucracy is, well, suboptimal.

Nevertheless, the details of the Oil-for-Food scandal--who participated, and what they apparently did--are jaw-dropping. Vladimir Putin's chief of staff, Alexander Voloshin, appears to have accepted millions of dollars in oil-soaked bribes from Saddam Hussein. The same appears to be true of the former interior minister of France, Charles Pasqua, a close friend of President Jacques Chirac. And the same appears to be true of three high-ranking U.N. executives including Benon Sevan, handpicked by Kofi Annan to administer the Oil-for-Food program. Oil-for-Food money even went to terrorist organizations supported by the Iraqi regime and, according to U.S. investigators, might be funding the insurgency today.

Through seven years' worth of deals that should never have been made, compromises that should never have been struck, and concessions that should never have been granted, Oil-for-Food strengthened Saddam Hussein. What we know about all of this now is a fraction of what will eventually be uncovered. But even this limited understanding should mean an end to Kofi Annan's term as secretary general. The sad history of U.N. incompetence on Iraq generally and in the Oil-for-Food program specifically is enough to make you wonder why George W. Bush settled for John Bolton rather than, say, John Rocker to push for reform at the world body.

AMONG THE MANY BIZARRE ASPECTS of the U.N. Oil-for-Food program is its premise: If we, the international community, allow Saddam Hussein to take in more money by selling oil, we can end the suffering of the Iraqi people even while maintaining U.N. sanctions.

Saddam Hussein argued that Iraqis were dying because the sanctions deprived him of the money to save them. And while there is little doubt that the sanctions left Iraqis much poorer than they were before the Gulf war--annual incomes dropped nearly to a third of what they had been in 1990--it was less clear that Saddam Hussein was similarly destitute.

"Saddam's family profits from covert sales of Iraqi oil and dominance of the black market, where many of the donated medicines and food end up," said then-CIA director John Deutch in public testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on September 25, 1996. "Iraqi government funds are used to maintain lavish lifestyles. Baghdad, for example, has begun working on 48 new palaces and VIP residences during the past five years, increasing the total number of estates available to Saddam Hussein to at least 78."
The rest of the article is a very detailed explanation of the Oil-for-food scam and where the investigation is right now.

Click here to send me an email

THAT KUWAITI WOMEN get to vote, as the country's parliament has decided, is good news of course. Joseph Braude sends a link to his article on The New Republic where he writes that it may not be as good news as it looks at a first look, though.

Click here to send me an email

In response to faltering Iraqi support, al Zarqawi has been bringing in more foreigners. This has been produced a mixed lot of volunteers. When you call for all suicidal religious zealots to join you, some strange people will show up. Autopsies of suicide bombers has revealed that three of them had Downs Syndrome (a genetic disorder that results in mental retardation). Islamic countries tend to keep the mentally ill at home, living in extended families. Those who are able to get about, can come and go as they please, and some have apparently come to Iraq to die for Islam. This apparently explains the suicide car bombs that have been set off by remote control, even though a suicide bomber was at the wheel.

Click here to send me an email

THOMAS SOWELL has something very interesting to say -as he always does- on Newsweek's koran-flushed-down-the-toilet scandal. Read it in full.

UPDATE. Make sure you don't miss Victor Davis Hanson's latest.

UPDATE II. And read this too, for more context.

Click here to send me an email

GERARD BAKER writes on London's Times about George Galloway's testimony before the US Senate committe investigating UNSCUM, that is, the Oil-for-food fraud:
I also wondered what his and our life might have been like if he had deployed some of his little-man courage before Saddam; standing up for some of those other hundreds of thousands of other good Muslims — Iraqis, who could have done with a persuasive advocate there and then.

Perhaps in the end, if you’re a cynic you may find Mr Galloway’s asymmetrical approach to authority — a lapdog in the hands of the one who likes to watch as his victims are tortured; a lion in the face of those who threaten with questions and subpoenas — simply the familiar mark of the coward. If you’re an optimist, you might find it oddly comforting The Mother of Parliaments clasps him to her bosom. The world’s greatest deliberative body sits in embarrassed silence as he lectures it on its shortcomings. Nothing surely illustrates better the absolute superiority of the West’s system and what underpins it that we tolerate and even reward such lèse-majesté. We know what Saddam did to those who were brave enough to utter much more cogent critiques of his rule.
(via Rantburg)

Besides, Gorgeous George could be facing a electoral contest of the results in the latest legislative election in which he won a seat.

UPDATE. Christopher Hitchens is merciless. A must-read.

UPDATE II. Hey, I promise I hadn't read Jonah!

Click here to send me an email

Friday, May 20, 2005

I HAVE JUST ADDED a line at the bottom of each post to make it easier for readers to respond, comment, send tips, etc. Let's see how it works; of course, if it leads to abuse, I'll have to take it out...

Click here to send me an email

GREAT, SUPERB, MAGNIFICENT COLUMN by David Brooks on the Korangate and Newsweek. Read it in full (via HispaLibertas).

UPDATE. Yeah, but still... (via Glenn Reynolds)

UPDATE II. Read this, too.

YET MORE DETAILS emerging about the Syrian-born Spanish policeman who seems to be at the center of everything on the March 11 investigation (again, thanks to Fausta for the translation; scroll down for much more): The police found a document belonging to agent Kalaji at a locale used as “nerve center” for the 3/11 attack.
The police found during April last year a document belonging to policeman Maussili Kalaji at a residence that was used as “nerve center”, or center of operations, by the 3/11 attackers. The document is a “notification by the Deacon of the Madrid Courts of Law”, issued to Kalaji, and found at 11 Virgen del Coro Street in Madrid.

Maussili Kalaji’s the proprietor of the telephone shop where the cell phones used in the bomb knapsacks on March 11 were “liberated” [see prior posts]. Kalaji’s one of the most knowledgeable Spanish agents on Islamist cells operating in Europe, and had placed informants within the Islamist cells operating in Spain.

According to today’s story in El Mundo [available by subscription only], the apartment belongs to Syrian brothers Mouhannad y Moutaz Almallah, jailed for the Madrid attacks. In Moutaz’s case, the police considers him a very important operative within Al Qaeda, and speculates that he might have worked as liaison between the terrorist organization and the actual terrorists in the attacks. The police agent who “liberated” the 3/11 cell phones [i.e., Kajali] has explained that the document originates from the 1998 sale of a different apartment to Moutaz.

The Virgen del Coro location also housed two of the other accused, currently in prison for the 3/11 attacks, and one of the men who committed suicide in Leganés. According to a police report, the apartment “has been a center of operations for the groups and the people who took part [in the attacks]”.

Last March 21, Judge Juan del Olmo of the Audiencia Nacional [judicial chamber] had Mouhannad jailed under a charge of belonging to an armed gang. The Syrian had already been detained after the [3/11] attacks and released. Shortly after he joined the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol, [the party currently in power]), which expelled him as soon as they found out he had been jailed. Moutaz had been arrested in London three days before his brother’s arrest.

Agent Maussili Kalaji acknowledges being in closer contact with Moutaz, which was corroborated by the finding of the document, which in turn was initially reported by the City FM radio station of Las Rozas, Madrid.

The “notification by the Deacon of the Madrid Courts of Law in the name of Maussili Kalaji" was found on April 27, 2004 in a blue folder that also contained documents regarding an apartment in del Mirto Street in Madrid that agent Kalaji sold Moutaz in 1998.

SUDDEN SIESTA in the Spanish economy, BusinessWeek says:
Is the spanish miracle at an end? After 11 years of buoyant growth, Spain's standard of living has soared, unemployment has plunged, and the country's biggest companies, from BBVA to Telefónica, are playing an increasingly active role on the international stage. But cracks in the economy are showing. Although growth is expected to be around 3% this year, foreign direct investment is diving, the current account deficit is ballooning, inflation is on the rise, and productivity growth lags behind the rest of the core 15 members of the European Union. And from 2007 on, the billions of dollars in net aid Spain receives every year from the EU -- equivalent to 1% of annual gross domestic product -- will begin to dry up. That money will go instead to the new, poorer EU members from Eastern Europe. By 2013, Spain is expected to be a net contributor to EU aid funds. The country will then have to find other ways to finance investments in schools and infrastructure -- such as issuing debt or raising taxes -- or reduce spending.

Long one of Europe's best-performing economies, Spain has outgrown the low-wage model that enabled it to lure big multinational investments and close the income gap with its wealthier neighbors to the north. But it hasn't yet succeeded at joining the ranks of the world's high-tech producers, which other European success stories such as Ireland and Finland have managed to do. Today, "Spain is a developed country, but it isn't an advanced one," says José Antonio Herce, an economist at the Madrid-based Foundation for Applied Economic Studies.
(Hat tip: John Pawlenko).

THE ADVENTURES OF CHESTER has built a useful chart of the new revelations about the March 11 bombings in Madrid.

TODAY IS the first blogiversary of Barcepundit's Spanish edition. Exactly one year ago today I wrote the first post, which was immediately noticed by several bigshots. The initial plan for BP was to be a multilingual blog, both in Spanish and English. However, later on I decided to do a spin off and start autonomously the English edition, so as not to confuse people.

I'd like to thank all of you guys for your repeated visits, comments (which are enabled in the Spanish edition though not here, as they would take a lot of time to monitor), emails, and all the fellow bloggers and writers who have been so kind to link to me. We're approaching interesting times, both at home and abroad, and I'll be here covering them; hope you'll keep coming back, and sending news tips; they'll be all welcome. The road ahead is full of promising developments, including Pajamas Media, of which I am honoured to be a member.

So, thanks again and now, back to work!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

STILL MORE TRANSLATION of the relevant parts of the article in Madrid's El Mundo, thanks to Fausta:
Barcepundit is posting on the article published by El Mundo on Sunday (available here), which has further details from those on the Libertad Digital article I translated yesterday. El Mundo's article, written by Antonio Rubio, states (my translation. Again, please, credit me if you quote from this):
Maussili Kalaji, who up to that point hadn’t been in the public eye, is a character out of a novel and one of the most knowledgeable members of the national Security Forces on Islamic terrorism, both on the national and European levels. Kalahi knows most of the members of the terrorist cells that operated and still operate in Spain since he met some of them at a Palestinian resistance training camp.
. . .
He throroughly knows Spain’s Syrian community, and even all the Islamists that directly, or indirectly took part both on 9/11 and 3/11.

Kaliji’s a friend of Imaz Edin Barakat Yarkas, a.k.a Abu Dahdah, who’s presently on trial for his alleged participation in the New York and Washington attacks. He also knew who was Sherhane Ben Fakhet, a.k.a. The Tunisian [see yesterday’s post], and what Fakhet was up to. But the most important thing is that Maussili Kalaji has placed informants in the Islamist cells operating in Spain. According to people who know the Spanish policeman, all of that detailed and sensitive information was available to his police superiors before, during and after the Madrid massacre.
El Mundo explains how the police found out that one of their own was the owner of the store where the cell phones were programmed:
From the data obtained in the van, plus the data from the unexploded knapsack bomb, the cell phones that Jamal Ahmidam’s people bought at Bazar Top (the Indian store), and the following “release” [by which the cell phones were able to be operated from any source including calling cards] of those phones, Kalaji’s coworkers at the General Information office came to his store, Tecnología de Sistemas Telefónicos Ayman.

From that very moment, Maussili Kalaji began to fully cooperate with his ex-coworkers at the Information Office, and thanks to him, and to his having written down the IMEI identification numbers of the Bazar Top cell numbers he had been asked to “release” (i.e., program so they phones would allow calling cards from any company and in any modality, prepayment, or contract), the investigators were able to find the Leganés apartment where the terrorist leader of the 3/11 trains of death had taken shelter.
. . .
He was in charge of the Syrian Monzer Al-Kassar
Maussili Kalaji thoroughly knows the Syrian community in Spain, and additionally, was the Spanish agent in charge of listening to and translating all of the telephone conversations of Monzer Al-Kassar, allegad weapons trafficker that was charged by judge Baltasar Garzón for collaborating in the Achille Lauro hijacking.

The ship’s hijacking took place in 1985, and in 1992 judge Garzón charged Al-Kassar -- Syrian resident of Marbella and representative of the Spanish government in some weapons sales to third countries – of allegedly belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (led by Abu Abbas [see link]), of murder, of belonging to an armed gang and terrorist organization, of attempted murder, illegal detention, and piracy.

Kalaji, as member of the Office of Information and by order of the judge, kept close match on Al-Kassar and his family; but eventually the Syrian friend of former Cesid director Alonso Manglano and ex-Secretary of the Interior Rafael Vera, was absolved of all charges of which judge Garzón had accused him.
Kalaji's Palestinian connections are strong and remain strong. El Mundo describes him as "Kalaji, who considers himself a defender of the Palestinian cause". My question is, is it wise of the Spanish intelligence services to have place in such sensitive jobs both Kalaji and members of his family?

In Spain today, Justice Minister López Aguilar: Still unclear who ordered March 11
Justice minister Juan Fernando López Aguilar is not sure who ordered the March 11, 2004, bombings in Madrid. Lopez Aguilar told Newsweek, "It is a fact that the people who planned and carried out the massacre were in Spain, had lived in Spain for years, and were apparently not part of a well-structured chain of command." "It is still not clear," said Lopez Aguilar, who ordered the bombings which killed 191 people. Lopez Aguilar's statements conflicted with the firmness with which prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero had spoken until now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

FRANK J. GAFFNEY, of the Center for Security Policy, has written an article, "Spain's 'Terrorgate'", on the National Review, based on the information I posted here about the murky developments discovered by the Madrid's newspaper El Mundo. He has kind words for us, which we truly appreciate. I'm sure he'll be also interested in today's updates here and here.

Fausta has told me she's going to translate more; I'll keep you updated.

THE ONE AND ONLY FAUSTA, of The Bad Hair Blog, has kindly sent the translation of the Libertad Digital article I mentioned in the post below; I decided to put it in a separate, brand new entry so that it doesn't get buried at the end of the previous post. Thank, Fausta, for the translation!

Here it is:
The Kalaji family and March 11: from cell phones, to translations, to the van in Alcalá

While on Monday we found out about the mysteries surrounding knapsack #13 of the terrorist blasts, this Tuesday [Spanish daily] El Mundo reveals surprising new information on the March 11 investigation. The cell phones in the knapsack bombs came from a store owned by Maussili Kalaji, a Syrian officer in the [Spanish] national police, who went from Al Fatah to working as bodyguard for [magistrate] Garzón. The cards in those phones led to the apartment in Leganés. Kalaji’s sister translated The Tunisian’s conversations, and his ex-wife was one of the police officers who first arrived to the van in Alcalá.

Maussili Kalaji, 46-yr old Syrian, has an extensive background. As a youth he was a member of Al Fatah, which back then was one of the most important terrorist groups in the Middle East. Kalaji trained in weapons and explosives in one of the Al Fatah campgrounds. During his tour of the Soviet Union he perfected his training as a secret agent.

According to journalist Antonio Rubio, Maussili Kalaji’s journey in our country starts in 1981 when, having just arrived in Spain, he obtained political refugee status. In 1984 he received Spanish citizenship “for services rendered” to this country, supposedly from information he gave to the secret services. Five years later he joined the National Police’s basic service. After that he rose meteorically in the Fuerzas de Seguridad (Security Forces).

From the basic service he progressed to the Comisaría General de Información (General Information Office), and from there to the Unidad Central de Información Exterior (UCIE), (Central Exterior Information Unit) -- the Unit which later would investigate the March 11 (3-11) explosions. From there he transferred to the Judicial Police Brigade and the [police’s] Minor’s Unit. Lastly, Kalaji ends up as bodyguard for Baltasar Garzón, the National Audience’s (the highest court dealing with terrorism, Supreme court excepted) Magistrate.

According to El Mundo, in 1989 the Syrian-Spaniard took part in a very important operation against Islamic terrorism in the port of Valencia, which uncovered a shipment of explosives camouflaged as tin cans. Baltasar Garzón himself praised this operation on his testimony at the March11 Commission. A year later, Kalaji received a public commendation from the Minister of the Interior. Apparently, it was an informant, Mohamed Arabi, who alerted the police about the shipment coming from Lebanon. The eight detainees from the operation were members of Hezbollah, and four of them were Iraqis. The explosives would have been used in attempts against American, French, Kuwaiti, and Saudi Arabian embassies in Europe.

That same informant, Mohamed Arabi, took part in November 2001 on the Operación Dátil (Operation Date), during which were detained the people accused that are now on trial for their participation in 9-11 attack in the USA. The cell’s leader is, Abu Dada, which whom agent Kalaji was on friendly terms. During Operación Dátil the informant Arabi was arrested, but thanks to Kalaji’s intervention before Judge Garzón, Arabi was set free.

On to March 11 La Razón broke the news to the media in the middle of the 3-11 investigations. The cell phones used in the knapsack bombs came from a store owned by a policeman. The phones were purchased at a shop owned by Indian citizens, and in Kalaji’s business the phones’ internal codes were reset so they could be used by other phone services. When this fact was discovered, agent Kalaji was taken to Canillas station for a deposition. As reported then, once it was established that his shop only did something considered routine in that type of store, and not illegal, the Syrian-Spaniard was free.

The family coincidences don’t stop there. As it turns out, agent Marisol Kalaji, Kalaji’s wife, was one of the police officers that had access on 3-11 to the van in Alcalá. If, thanks to the cards sold in the policeman’s store, the GEO [Spain's police elite squad, like SWAT teams] found out about the Leganés apartment – where the Islamic terrorists later died in an explosion –, thanks to the discovery of the Kangoo van there was access to the Koran tapes, which strengthened the Islamic leads over the ETA.

Once the Islamic terrorists blew themselves up in Leganés, agent Kalaji asked for leave from the Madrid Judicial Brigade. Right now he’s on leave due to depression, even when some who know Kalaji have said, according to El Mundo, that the policeman has been separated by his supervisors because he’d become an uncomfortable witness for some in charge at the Comisaría General de Información (General Information Office), of whom Telesforo Rubio is director. The statements that Kalaji, who had been watched by his fellow officers and the CNI [National Intelligence Center, the Spanish equivalent to the CIA], made to judge Juan Del Olmo remain secret by judicial decree.
As you-know-who would say: developing...

Beset by U.S. attempts to isolate his country and facing popular expectations of change, Syrian President Bashar Assad will move to begin legalizing political parties, purge the ruling Baath Party, sponsor free municipal elections in 2007 and formally endorse a market economy, according to officials, diplomats and analysts.

Assad's five-year-old government is heralding the reforms as a turning point in a long-promised campaign of liberalizing a state that, while far less dictatorial than Iraq under Saddam Hussein, remains one of the region's most repressive. His officials see the moves, however tentative and drawn out, as the start of a transitional period that will lead to a more liberal, democratic Syria.

Emboldened opposition leaders, many of whom openly support pressure by the United States even if they mistrust its intentions, said the measures were the last gasp of a government staggering after its hasty and embarrassing troop withdrawal last month from neighboring Lebanon.

IT'S A PITY, but I haven't found any information in English about the intriguing new development on the investigation of the March 11 terrorist attack that I mentioned yesterday.

As a reminder, this is what I wrote yesterday (excuse me for the self-quote):
[...] I'll have more information published in today's edition of El Mundo (free summary in Spanish here) reporting that the cellphones used for March 11 were unlocked in a phone shop owned by... a Spanish police officer. And not just any police officer: it was Maussili Kalaji, a Syrian born citizen who had been granted Spanish citizenship several years ago and entered the police department when he arrived in Spain after his past as an Al Fatah member and as an agent for the Soviets' intelligence services. Apparently as soon as he left the police academy he was assigned to infiltrate extremist groups and so he got acquainted with such nice guys as Abu Dadah, currently under trial for the 9/11 plot and who will be on trial again in the future for his role on March 11. He also was assigned to the security detail of judge Garzón, now on leave and teaching at a New York's university and who insisted that, no matter what Aznar was saying on March 11, he knew from minute 1 that he knew the bombings had been by Islamic terrorists, not ETA. I think we know now why.

And that's not all: Kalaji's sister was the translator for the police in charge of translated the wiretapped conversations between the alleged March 11 culprits before the bombings; and his ex-wife, also a police officer, was the first to arrive at the scene where another key evidence pointing to Islamic terrorists and not ETA was found: a white van with detonators and some tapes with Koranic verses. Socialists blame Aznar's government for hiding this but, of course, maybe its guys got there first...

I was hoping that the guys at the Spain Herald would translate some of the information, but for some reason they haven't yet. So, what can I do, considering that I don't have time right now to translate the new information? Well, for starters link from here to the Spanish version of the articles, expecting that quite a few of you guys can read Spanish, own your own or with some machine translation help.

The original El Mundo article is for paying subscribers only (you can see a short summary here), but Internet Opina has copypasted it verbatim. You can also read the coverage at Libertad Digital (Spain Herald's parent publication).

Of course, if any of you has time and wishes to translate it, I'll be happy to post it if whoever does it emails it to me (ejecomadrejas -at- gmail -dot- com).

UPDATE. The estimable Fausta of the Bad Hair Blog has kindly sent me the translation of one of the articles; I have moved it to a separate post so that it doesn't get buried here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS is angry at the New York Times because it keeps calling the murdering thugs in Iraq "insurgents". He'd better not come over this side of the Atlantic, or he'll have a seizure.

THE ECONOMY KEEPS rolling along... Spain's current-account deficit leaps 168%

ET TU, ABC? Shortly after March 11, ABC had a world exclusive: a photograph of the only backpack that hadn't exploded and which had 'misteriously' appeared the night after the blasts in a police station, in a room where all personal belongings that had been recovered were carried to. The problem: according to Madrid's newspaper El Mundo, it's a staged photo op:
The American TV network ABC's news division showed a false image of the backpack that did not explode on March 11, 2004, according to reporter Fernando Múgica in the Spanish daily El Mundo. According to Múgica, at a Madrid police station "the officers wanted to help the ABC reporters, but when the camera crew came, they didn't have the backpack that had contained the bomb there, so one of the officers showed them a similar backpack which was the property of another officer." Said Mugica, "I don't know whether the network knew this or simply accepted that the bag they were shown was the real one."
Read the rest. Maybe this is why the URL of the original page returns an error message. Hopefully, you can read a verbatim copy at the Georgia Institute of Technology's webpage, which also reproduces the images:
A sports bag containing an unexploded bomb was discovered in the wreckage of one of the train cars. Click here to see the picture.

A cell phone found in the bag, and the fingerprints on the phone, led Spanish police to Jamal Zougam, the suspected ringleader of the Madrid attack. Click here to see the picture.

The unexploded bomb contained about 22 pounds of a whitish-colored plastic explosive. Click here to see the picture.

Also packed in the bag was a large quantity of bolts and nails, the potentially deadly shrapnel. Click here to see the picture.

However, the Spain Herald's story touches just one aspect of the much longer, and much more disturbing account by El Mundo (unfortunately its online version of the print edition is for paying subscribers only, but here you can see the verbatim copy of it; it's a bit long, but if you read Spanish it's absolutely a must-read). According to the journalistic investigation, the Tedax officers (Spanish police bomb squad) hid for three months to the investigating judge that an X-ray done to the real (not to the staged for ABC) backpack showed that there was no way it could have ever exploded since it had unconnected cables. Something odd, since it had always been said that the bombers were technically proficient. At the same time, the Tedax chief cellphone number appeared misteriously in the phonebook of Carmen Toro, allegedly one -together with his brother and husband- of the suppliers of the dynamite used for the March 11 bombs. When the investigating judge called the number, a chief's aide answered the phone and said that it belonged to one of the guys in the squad, "who used the boss' name as a nickname" (can I put a hundred exclamation marks here?).

Remember: this backpack was the only that didn't explode and appeared from no one knows where. But it was what was found in it what allowed the opposition to make the case that it was Islamic terrorists -as the Socialists were saying- and not ETA -as Aznar's government had initially said-, for two reasons: first, the kind of explosive, Goma 2 ECO instead of Tytadine (the usual in the latest ETA attacks). However, the conclusion that the exploded backpacks had Goma 2 ECO in it was made because of what was found on the unexploded one, not on actual forensic analysis of the explosion site, since apparently once it's gone off it's absolutely impossible to know for sure, being both Goma 2 ECO and Tytadine two brands of generic dynamite.

And second, because of the SIM card inside the phone. But, if the cables had been connected, the bomb would have gone off not by a phone call or another electronic trigger, but by the internal's alarm clock which was programmed to turn the phone on and vibrate. Most phones don't need a SIM card for that, but the model chosen by guys who were alleged phone experts (since they owned a phone shop) was the Mitsubishi Trium, precisely one of the few ones who need a SIM card inserted to function as a mere alarm clock. And it was the analysis of the SIM card which, less than 48 hours after the blasts, allowed the police to arrest the alleged perpetrators.

So El Mundo wonders whether this backpack is a real piece of evidence or a red herring used to divert the blame from ETA to al-Qaeda by operatives (inside law enforcement forces?) to fool the chain of command upwards and therefore leaving Aznar's government standing on their wrong foot. Add this to the agit-prop campaign by pro-Socialist media which I mentioned in this and this post, and this intriguing information of Socialist party official contact with Islamist (see previous posts here and here, and also two great posts by Dan Darling over at Winds of Change here and here and two others at Eurabian Times here and here).

And then come back tomorrow, as I'll have more information published in today's edition of El Mundo (free summary in Spanish here) reporting that the cellphones used for March 11 were unlocked in a phone shop owned by... a Spanish police officer. And not just any police officer: it was Maussili Kalaji, a Syrian born citizen who had been granted Spanish citizenship several years ago and entered the police department when he arrived in Spain after his past as an Al Fatah member and as an agent for the Soviets' intelligence services. Apparently as soon as he left the police academy he was assigned to infiltrate extremist groups and so he got acquainted with such nice guys as Abu Dadah, currently under trial for the 9/11 plot and who will be on trial again in the future for his role on March 11. He also was assigned to the security detail of judge Garzón, now on leave and teaching at a New York's university and who insisted that, no matter what Aznar was saying on March 11, he knew from minute 1 that he knew the bombings had been by Islamic terrorists, not ETA. I think we know now why.

And that's not all: Kalaji's sister was the translator for the police in charge of translated the wiretapped conversations between the alleged March 11 culprits before the bombings; and his ex-wife, also a police officer, was the first to arrive at the scene where another key evidence pointing to Islamic terrorists and not ETA was found: a white van with detonators and some tapes with Koranic verses. Socialists blame Aznar's government for hiding this but, of course, maybe its guys got there first...

As I said, stay tuned.

GEORGE LUCAS vs. Arthur Chrenkoff: pretty clear to me that it's Arthur who has the higher hand.

Monday, May 16, 2005

¿REMEMBER THE TSUNAMI? Mark Steyn does, and sees the uselessness of the transnational dogooders network (link sent by reader Tom Pechinski):
Remember the tsunami? Big story, 300,000 dead; America and other rich countries too "stingy" in their response; government ministers from every capital on earth announcing on CNN every 10 minutes more and more millions and gazillions. It was in all the papers for a week or two, but not a lot of water under the bridge since then, and as a result this interesting statistic may not have caught your eye:

Five hundred containers, representing one-quarter of all aid sent to Sri Lanka since the tsunami hit on Dec. 26, are still sitting on the dock in Colombo, unclaimed or unprocessed.

At the Indonesian port of Medan, 1,500 containers of aid are still sitting on the dock.

Four months ago, did you chip in to the tsunami relief effort? Did your company? A Scottish subsidiary of the Body Shop donated a 40-foot container of "Lemon Squidgit" and other premium soap, which arrived at Medan in January and has languished there ever since because of "incomplete paperwork,'' according to Indonesian customs officials.

Well, those soapy Scots were winging it -- like so many of us, eager to help but too naive to understand that, no matter the scale of devastation visited upon a hapless developing nation, its obstructionist bureaucracy will emerge from the rubble unscathed. Yet, among the exhaustive examples of wasted Western generosity unearthed by the Financial Times, what struck me was not the free-lancers but the permanent floating crap game of international high-rollers who couldn't penetrate the labyrinth of Indonesian paperwork.

Diageo sent eight 20-foot containers of drinking water via the Red Cross. "We sent it directly to the Red Cross in order to get around the red tape," explained its Sydney office. It arrived in Medan in January and it's still there. The Indonesian Red Cross lost the paperwork.

UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, sent 14 ambulances to Indonesia, and they took two months to clear customs. Terrible as it was in its awesome fury, the tsunami was in the end transnational business as usual.

[...] Well, [Paul Martin]'s prime minister of Canada. And in January, after the tsunami hit, he flew into Sri Lanka to pledge millions and millions and millions in aid. Not like that heartless George W. Bush back at the ranch in Texas. Why, Prime Minister Martin walked along the ravaged coast of Kalumnai and was, reported Canada's CTV network, "visibly shaken." President Bush might well have been shaken, but he wasn't visible, and in the international compassion league, that's what counts. So Martin boldly committed Canada to giving $425 million to tsunami relief. "Mr. Paul Martin Has Set A Great Example For The Rest Of The World Leaders!" raved the LankaWeb news service.

You know how much of that $425 million has been spent so far? Fifty thousand dollars -- Canadian. That's about 40 grand in U.S. dollars. The rest isn't tied up in Indonesian bureaucracy, it's back in Ottawa. But, unlike horrible "unilateralist" America, Canada enjoys a reputation as the perfect global citizen, renowned for its commitment to the U.N. and multilateralism. And on the beaches of Sri Lanka, that and a buck'll get you a strawberry daiquiri. Canada's contribution to tsunami relief is objectively useless and rhetorically fraudulent.

This is the way the transnational jet-set works when the entire world is in complete agreement and acting in perfect harmony. Unlike more "controversial" issues like the mass slaughter in Sudan, no Security Council member is pro-tsunami. And yet even when the entire planet is on the same side, the 24/7 lavishly funded U.N. humanitarian infrastructure can't get its act together.

ZAPATERO'S government seeks a negotiation with ETA, and its victims are understandably hopping mad. ETA responded to this Zapaterlain-ish offer with four bombs yesterday.

Way to go, man! Towards a second surrender, after Iraq!

More here.

UPDATE. Sorry, I forgot to mention why I mentioned that Zapatero's initiative was Zapaterlain-ish: not only for being willing to engage in talks with a terrorist group before it declares any intention to abandon violence (which is obvious after yesterday's bombs). But also because while in a campaign rally in Galicia, Zapatero criticized the opposition Popular Party for refusing to go along while he conspicuously failed to make a single mention of the bombs that had exploded just a few hours earlier (link in Spanish). Zapaterlain-ish, or simply childish and naif: grownups are perfectly aware that bad things don't go away by simply ignoring them.

If there was a mature democracy in this country, this would be entirely unacceptable.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

BESIDES THE ONES I mentioned yesterday, Registan is also following up very closely the Uzbek unrest. Check it out if you're interested in the situation, as you should be.

As the world commemorated the 60th anniversary of the end of the European Theater of World War II, revisionism was the norm. In the last few years, new books and articles have argued for a complete rethinking of the war. The only consistent theme in this various second-guessing was a diminution of the American contribution and suspicion of our very motives.

Indeed, most recent op-eds commemorating V-E day either blamed the United States for Hamburg or for the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, or for our supposed failure to credit the Russians for their sacrifices.

It is true that the Russians paid a horrendous price. Perhaps two out of every three soldiers of the Wehrmacht fell on the Eastern Front. We in the West must always remember that such a tragic sacrifice allowed Hitler to be defeated with far less American British, Canadian, and Australian dead.

That being said, the Anglo-Americans waged a global war well beyond the capability of the Soviet Union. They invaded North Africa, took Sicily, and landed in Italy, in addition to fighting a massive land war in central Europe. We had fewer casualties than did the Russians because we fought more wisely, were better equipped, and were not surprised to the same degree by a treacherous former ally that we had supplied.

The Soviets invaded the defeated Japanese only in the last days of the war; the Anglo-Americans alone took on two fronts simultaneously. Submarine warfare, attacking the Japanese and German surface fleets, conducting strategic bombing over Berlin and Tokyo, and sending tons of supplies to Allied forces — all this was beyond the capability of the Red Army. More important, Stalin had been an ally of Hitler until the Nazi invasion of 1941, and had unleashed the Red Army to destroy the freedom of Finland and to carve up Poland.

Do we ever read these days that when the Luftwaffe bombed Britain, Russia was sending the Nazis fuel and iron ore? When Germany invaded Russia, however, Britain sent food and supplies.
Read. The. Whole. Thing.

Friday, May 13, 2005

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has made it: he's on the New York Times (via Cori Dauber). Congrats, Arthur!

THE SITUATION IN UZBEKISTAN is really heating up. Two pundit-brothers are all over the developments there: Gateway Pundit y Publius Pundit.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

DON'T KNOW IF this makes me angry or sad. Sad for this poor soul and angry for the real victims of the Nazi horrors:
For almost 30 years Enric Marco was a living witness to the thousands of exiled leftwing Spaniards who ended up in Nazi concentration camps.

After he revealed how he had been arrested in Vichy France and imprisoned in the camps in the second world war, his plight symbolised the human cost of a secret alliance between Hitler and the Spanish dictator General Franco.

He had been chosen by fellow survivors of the camps, where more than 8,000 Spaniards died, to represent them as they sought, after decades of silence under Franco, to tell their story and demand compensation.

Several times a week Mr Marco would recount his tale to classrooms of schoolchildren, journalists and, recently, the Spanish parliament.

"They were not mad, or sadistic, they were worse than that, they were bureaucrats of a fascist Europe that believed it would last for a thousand years," he told the parliament in Madrid this year.

Spanish leftwingers in France had, he said, been rounded up by the Gestapo and sent to camps where the survival rate was little more than one in four.

Yesterday, however, Mr Marco admitted that he had made up the story. He was not prisoner number 6,448 in the the Mauthausen and Flossenburg camps. He had not even left Spain at the start of the war to join the French resistance.

Instead of being released from imprisonment by the allies in 1945, he returned to Spain in 1943 after spending two years in Germany, working in Hitler's armaments factories.
What he says is that with his lies he was trying to raise awareness of the Nazi atrocities, but the history professor who uncovered him thinks it might have an opposite effect:
"The danger exists that people who deny the reality of the Nazi camps... might exploit this and tell us that no testimony about the Holocaust has any value," he said.
It's important to point out that the guy didn't claim he was in the concentration camp as a Jew (he isn't) but as a leftwing fighter for the Spanish republic who lost against Franco (precisely the kind of guy Zapatero paid tribute to in Mauthausen earlier this week). What's infuriating (so now I know I'm more angry than said) is that the guy had used his "firsthand experience" in the Nazi horrors to liken Mauthausen to Guantanamo to the applause of all anti-war guys ("hey, unlike Bush he knows what he's talking about"); and, above all, because he's giving fodder to pro-Nazi revisionists all over the world.

Shame on him.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I WISH I could share Victor Davis Hanson's relative optimism that anti-Americanism is waning (via Spanish blog Amor, Patria y Libertad). True, what happened in Georgia yesterday is promising, but after all it's been only 60 years since WWII ended and Western Europe was pretty much as pro-American as Georgia is today, but only a few decades later it has become historically amnesic, despising the country who liberated it from the boots of tyranny.

So let's hope it's Georgia's feelings which spread to the West, and not the West's amnesia and ingratitude spreading to Georgia and other newly democratic countries, in former Soviet republics and yes, in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq too.

It’s been fun to watch the videos and read the accounts of President Bush’s trip to Georgia. I know that for those who do not like him, who - let’s face it - hate him, there is nothing charming in these pictures or videos, and his speech sounds like nothing particularly remarkable.

People who have lived in freedom their whole lives and do not even realize how their own liberties are being undermined look at President Bush and see…well, I don’t know what they see. A swaggering cowboy, fratboy, stutterer who can’t be glib or polished and doesn’t hide his desire to distance himself from the elites and bluebloods. They see a warmonger who “lied” because he believed everything his predecessor believed and did something about it. They see hundreds of thousands of people freed due to his vision and efforts, they see women becoming educated and winning formerly denied rights, and proclaim it all “not worth it,” and write silly plays about assassination and sneer about how they keep champagne in their fridge waiting for the day he dies.

But the people who have lived under a jackboot of totalitarianism and tyranny see someone very different, when they see George Bush. And they DANCE. And he dances with them.

A superb post; read it all.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I JUST DELETED A POST because I mistakenly put it here, in the English edition of Barcepundit, but it was in Spanish; I just transfered it to the right place.

"YOU GIVE ME ALL YOUR LOVE, you give me all your kisses, and then you touch my Burka and do not know who is it". That's the lyrics of one song by Afghanistan's latest cult band: the Burka Girls.

Bad taste? Perhaps, but it's no joke: I just read about them here.

ABU GHRAIB isn't Guernica, but rather Dachau, writes Christopher Hitchens about Botero's paintings with which the artists, in his own words, wants to do for Abu Ghraib what Picasso did for Guernica. Hitchens still thinks there's some valid analogy between the Iraqi prison and the Spanish civil war, but it's an analogy that anti-war guys won't like to hear, that's for sure.

Monday, May 09, 2005

So it turns out Madrid was the exception, not the rule. On March 14, 2004, the party of Spanish prime minister José María Aznar was defeated at the polls after an al Qaeda attack in Madrid and after a campaign in which the opposition fiercely criticized Aznar for Spain's involvement in the war to remove Saddam Hussein. In the wake of its electoral victory, the new leftist government withdrew Spain's troops from Iraq.

The question, a year ago, was this: Was Spain a harbinger of electoral defeat for the other democratic leaders of the war to liberate Iraq? Some hoped it would be, and have been severely disappointed. President Bush did not flinch in Iraq and was reelected with a stronger showing than four years before. Australia's John Howard, a steadfast supporter of the war in Iraq, was reelected to a historic fourth term as prime minister with an increased majority. And last week Britain's Tony Blair won a third term, the first Labour prime minister ever to do so.

Blair won with a diminished majority, to be sure. Yet the main opposition party, the Tories, supported the war as well. So roughly 68 percent of the British electorate voted for parties with pro-war leaders. The Liberal Democrats, critics of the war who pledged a quick withdrawal from Iraq, did increase their vote by about 4 percentage points, but still received only 22 percent of the vote.

THERE'S BEEN PLENTY of other things happening in Iraq, aside from the recent terror campaign, and they have been ignored by the mainstream media. Fortunately, Arthur Chrenkoff brings them to us in his latest roundup that you should all read.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

IT WAS COOL to join Greyhawk, Blackfive, Brogonzo, Sisyphus, Mustang23 among other in the chat/video system for the BlogNashville conference, which I had registered and planned to attend but finally had to cancel. Nothings beats face to face, of course, but this was close, considering the hookup was with both Nashville and the guys, some of them from Iraq, at the same time.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

ETA MEMBERS sentenced to 2,775 years for bomb plot:
Spain's High Court sentenced two members of the Basque separatist group ETA to 2,775 years each in prison on Friday for a plot to plant bombs on a Madrid-bound train on Christmas Eve 2003.

ETA intended to warn authorities of the bombs after the inter-city train would have emptied in Madrid, court documents said. But the court found the two men guilty of 184 attempted murders for endangering the passengers and crew.

The plot was later cited by officials who hastily blamed ETA for the Madrid commuter train bombings that killed 191 people on March 11, 2004.

A three-judge panel sentenced ETA suspects Gorka Loran, 36, and Garikoitz Arruarte, 25, to 15 years for each of the 184 attempted murders and additional time for other charges, although they can only serve a maximum of 40 years under Spanish law.

The judges called it a "stroke of luck" that one suitcase bomb did not explode from the weight of other luggage placed on top of it. The timer was set for 4 p.m., when the train would have been empty in Madrid's Chamartin station.

"Had the explosion happened ... there was a high probability that everyone on the train would have died as well as a large number of (other) people would have been killed ... which the defendants were aware of," the 31-page sentencing said.
Assuming it's true that these SOBs intented to warn about the bomb -which is a big if considering they said so ex-post when they had been already caught-, I have a question for all those people who claim that Aznar lied after the Madrid bomb attacks on March 11 because he initially blamed ETA: considering the news item above, which refers to an attack against a train only three months before, and considering also this:
Spanish police Sunday seized more than 1,000 pounds of explosives and arrested two suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA who were planning to carry out an imminent attack in Madrid, an official said.
which was only two weeks before March 11, does anyone really think that it was reckless, or an act of mendacity by Aznar's administration, to assume in the immediate aftermath that the perpetrators of the Atocha train station massacre were ETA terrorists?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A PROVOCATIVE article on Europe's anti-death penalty elitism (via No Pasaran) which, of course, will be distorted by European liberals, who won't realize that Josh Marshall is one of them (a liberal, not an European). I'm not sure of his personal position, but I'd assume as a liberal he's against it, though it doesn't preclude him to state things under a pure pol-sci theory perspective. A good read.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

POSSIBLE CHEMICAL ATTACK against US base in Spain averted:
An al Qaeda cell based in France planned a chemical attack on a U.S. naval base in Rota, Spain, newspaper ABC reported on Tuesday.

Algerian Said Arif, extradited to France from Syria last year, has admitted his cell was plotting a chemical attack on the southern Spanish base controlled by the United States since 1953, the Spanish daily reported.

However, authorities did not know how they were going to carry out the attack, ABC said.

No one at Spain's Interior Ministry was available to comment on the report, which did not cite sources.
Rota is the American military base in Southern Spain where, according to press reports only a couple of days ago, special forces units could be regrouped. I'm sure that'll speed things up.

UPDATE. More here.

UPDATE II. And meanwhile Bono -not U2's Paul Hewson, but José Bono, Spain's Defense minister- is on an official visit to the US, and got along quite well with his counterpart, Rumsfeld, though reading the transcript of the impromptu press conference gives a somewhat less fence-mending thing; more like a "we can't help to get along in counter-terrorist and military affairs in the age of Terror, so just like we deal with Pakistan, we'll deal with you guys".