MORE ON the progress in Iraq. Spanish media, of course, silent.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!
Freedom From Want, Norman Rockwell (1943)
And of course I'll celebrate, Jules. Not by eating turkey, though, because that's something reserved for Christmas Eve here, and I don't want to spoil the family reunion...
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
EVEN the New York Times:
Five months ago, Suhaila al-Aasan lived in an oxygen tank factory with her husband and two sons, convinced that they would never go back to their apartment in Dora, a middle-class neighborhood in southern Baghdad.
Today she is home again, cooking by a sunlit window, sleeping beneath her favorite wedding picture. And yet, she and her family are remarkably alone. The half-dozen other apartments in her building echo with emptiness and, on most days, Iraqi soldiers are the only neighbors she sees.
“I feel happy,” she said, standing in her bedroom, between a flowered bedspread and a bullet hole in the wall. “But my happiness is not complete. We need more people to come back. We need more people to feel safe.”
Mrs. Aasan, 45, a Shiite librarian with an easy laugh, is living at the far end of Baghdad’s tentative recovery. She is one of many Iraqis who in recent weeks have begun to test where they can go and what they can do when fear no longer controls their every move.
The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.
As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.
Iraqis are clearly surprised and relieved to see commerce and movement finally increase, five months after an extra 30,000 American troops arrived in the country. But the depth and sustainability of the changes remain open to question.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
CONCEPT CARS for the year 2057.
Monday, November 19, 2007
The gaudy orange, green and purple electronic palm trees flashing in the dark alert you that you're getting close to one of Baghdad's bustling nightspots.
The palms, like a mirage, can be seen from way down the darkened streets, lighting up the night and giving a promise of normality in the otherwise bleak and deserted capital, ravaged by four years of insurgency and sectarian strife.
And then, suddenly, you've arrived and the mirage has become an oasis of generator-driven light; a colourful jumble of trendy juice bars, cosy restaurants, fruit shops, roadside eateries and fish vendors, where children play, families dine and lovers meet.
"Even two or three months ago we would have been afraid to come here at night," said 20-year-old Hussein Salah, an off-duty soldier, slurping a milkshake with his wife, Shihad, at the Mishmesha (apricot) juice bar in Baghdad's relatively safe Karrada suburb.
"Now we sometimes sit outside here till one or two in the morning. It is quite safe. The security situation is vastly improved," said Salah, the orange light from a nearby flashing palm alternatively brightening and dimming his clean-shaven face.
Declines in Iraqi civilian casualties and a sharp reduction in bomb and mortar attacks have sparked optimism that the capital is at last starting to revive.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
KEN ANDERSON looks at the Madrid bombing verdicts and explains why terror can't be fought in ordinary courts.
Friday, November 16, 2007
(Courtesy of Investor's Business Daily)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
WHAT IF Iraq was never invaded?
UPDATE. Yes, the war has costed billions of dollars. But avoiding the war wouldn't have been free, eonomically speaking.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
WILL KING JUAN CARLOS SMACKDOWN mark a turning point?
That's because Spain isn't just any country, and its monarch isn't just any figurehead. In asking "why don't you shut up" to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Juan Carlos signaled that time has run out on democracies' tolerance of anything a boorish dictator seeking to dominate the region can dish out.Read the rest. I'm not sure I'm as optimistic, though. I think it's a matter of time until Chavez's demagoguery turns the tables and gets the support of quite a few people.
Monday, November 12, 2007
THIS IS JUST SILLY:
Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said this week that the Basque separatist group ETA was involved in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.Silly for UPI, I mean. Because they're putting the conclusion in Aznar's mouth, one he didn't make. He didn't mention the word ETA in that interview, and one would expect that a news agency would use for the headline something that was actually said. Aznar did say that the planners of the March 11 bombings are not in remote deserts or faraway mountains, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it was ETA. Remember that the Socialist's theory was that the bombing were a retribution for Spain's support of the Iraq war (conveniently leaving out that when they claimed responsibility the culprits also mentioned Afghanistan, a war that the Socialists also support, sort of. But I digress). That is, that it was planned by al-Qaeda from afar.
Aznar said the planners of the bombings "are not in remote deserts or faraway mountains," El Pais reported.
Well, no; it was planned and executed by a gang of local Muslim terrorists with no connection with al-Qaeda, as the verdict amply proved. Hence, Aznar could have been simply thinking on that, de-linking the terror attack from Spain's foreign policy. How do I know? Well, I'm just stating that this could be a possibility, but I don't know because Aznar didn't explicitly say what he had in mind.
But UPI didn't know either.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I'M NOT PRO-MONARCHY in the sense that I don't believe that any office should be hereditary, including the head of state. But I can't help but cheer on king Juan Carlos today:
‘Why don’t you shut up!’UPDATE (Sunday). Daniel of Venezuela has more. And as I wrote in my Spanish blog, I also commend Zapatero -if you follow this blog you know I'm not exactly a fan. But it's the first time he has raised above partisanship and showed some institutional respect towards his antecessor.
The words of King Juan Carlos 1 of Spain to the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, in the closing session of the Latin American summit today.
The Spanish monarch lost his cool when Chávez called the ex Spanish Prime Minister, José María Aznar, a fascist on several occasions. King Juan Carlos then got up and walked out of the session in a gesture without precedent, and just in time to hear the Nicaraguan President, Daniel Ortega, criticising Spanish businesses and the role of Union Fenosa in Nicaragua in particular. The King was to return later, but was not present for the singing of the Chilean hymn which closed the debates.
Here's the video, for those of you who understand Spanish:
UPDATE II. Joe Gandelman has a roundup.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
KIDS OF THE DIGITAL AGE:
(via Spanish blog Guapacho)
Saturday, November 03, 2007
PUTIN is finally taking his mask off.