Thursday, December 31, 2009

ANOTHER MASSACRE in gun-free Europe:
A gunman killed four people early Thursday in a shooting rampage at a mall in Finland's second largest city, police said.

It was not clear whether the shooter in Espoo had been apprehended and some reports indicated he was still on the loose. State broadcaster Yle reported that the gunman was born in 1966 and was previously known to police.

Police told Yle that three men and one woman were killed in the shopping center.

A witness told the broadcaster that a man dressed in black began randomly shooting at people on the second floor of the Sello mall.

According to the AP, the suspect has been ID'ed:
Police identified the shooter as 43-year-old Ibrahim Shkupolli and said that he was still on the loose. The shooter's nationality is unclear.
The last name does sound Finnish; I wouldn't want to jump to conclusions, but the first name sounds like this may be more than just one of those random incidents in which one weirdo gets a gun and starts shooting people. Not necessarily, but I assume we'll know more soon.

UPDATE. So it seems likely he was a weirdo after all:
Police have found the body of the ex-wife of the gunman who killed at least four people in a shopping centre in the Finnish city of Espoo near Helsinki Thursday.

The woman's body was found in a private home in Espoo.

UPDATE II. Here's the guy:

UPDATE III. He's been now found dead.

UPDATE IV. Not so gun-free, according to an Instapundit correspondent who says there's less restrictions in Finland than the rest of Europe. They still seem pretty strict compared to the US, and likely going to be stricter after this and other relatively recent killing sprees in the country.

UPDATE V. More on Shkupolli's background, here.

NEVER BEFORE has Europe's economy seemed so fragile:
Day by day, fears are growing that Greece or another weak country may default on its sovereign debt obligations, forcing the richer countries in Europe to ride to the rescue or risk having one or more of its most vulnerable members leave the 16-nation euro zone.

Many European economists discount such a fracture as a remote possibility. But that doesn’t mean Europe has safely emerged from crisis.

Instead, it faces a longer-term challenge to restore the fiscal credibility of at least half the countries that use the euro. The true test for the world’s largest common currency zone, analysts say, will be whether it can withstand the economic, political and social strains once the European Central Bank begins to raise interest rates in response to economic improvements in Germany, France and other Northern European countries.

At that point, the laggards on the union’s fringe — Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (the so-called Piigs) — will face even tougher choices to cope with what looks like several more years of stagnant economies, high unemployment and gaping budget deficits.

“If inflation picks up in France and Germany, the smaller economies will be left behind in stagnation and deflation,” said Jordi Galí, a Spanish economist recognized for his work on business cycles who heads the Center for Research in International Economics in Barcelona. “Such an asymmetric recovery is pretty likely, and if the E.C.B. raises rates, it could get very ugly.”
It's not a matter of if, but when.

BALI GOVERNOR just warned of a possible New Year's Eve terror attack on the island, according to the US embassy.

UPDATE. Balinese authorities deny they ever said this.

MORE FOOTAGE of the uprising in Iran. What's happening there is no small thing:

THE TOP TEN BEST (and worst) communicators of 2009. Obama leads, but not where he'd want to...

NEW YEAR in Afghanistan,: Michael Yon remembers the fallen.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

DEMOCRATS blaming Bush for the failed Detroit plane attack? Yep:
While many Dems stay silent and let the WH lead the way, DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) say the previous admin let down their guard.
So you could blame Bush and not his predecessor for a terror attack 8 months after the inauguration, but you can't blame Obama for one that took place almost a year after taking office?

As the -translated- Spanish saying goes: "It's either we're all Moors, or we're all Christians"...

Monday, December 28, 2009

THE ENCRYPTION SYSTEM of the GSM cellphone standard, cracked? If true, wow.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I CONFESS I had never seen before a picture of Marilyn Monroe lifting barbells... (seen here; click to enlarge)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

THAT DOESN'T REALLY look much like a Christmas present from Santa:
The “skeletons” on the balance sheets of Spain’s banks have made Bestinver Asset Management, whose funds are the country’s best performing over the past decade, averse to stocks most affected by economic swings.

“We are very pessimistic on Spain because we think there are still skeletons to come out of the cupboards -- basically marking to market the true value of real estate on the balance sheets of the banks,” Managing Partner Alvaro Guzman, 36, said in an interview. “It’s not just the banks we’re out of but anything that has a Spanish cyclical component.” 

It's going to get ugly.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

THIS ONLINE AD for Terra Brazil's paternal control is really clever. It interacts with you, preventing you from watching a strip tease. Try it out.

HOW FANBOYS see operating systems. So true.

IF THIS doesn't make you feel a cosmic, almost existential vertigo, nothing will. HD version at full screen recommended.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

JUST IN TIME for the big day in Copenhaguen, the Climategate scandal got even bigger: "What the Russians are suggesting here, in other words, is that the entire global temperature record used by the IPCC to inform world government policy is a crock." It's the Russians, but there's many more indications that it really is.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

AMAZING: sharks spotted off the coast of Australia by Google Maps (sort of). Check it out...

THE WHOLE STORY on why Berlusconi was punched. Funny.

IF THEY CALL your bullsh*t in Copenhagen, no less, you got a problem:
Mr Gore, speaking at the Copenhagen climate change summit, stated the latest research showed that the Arctic could be completely ice-free in five years.

In his speech, Mr Gore told the conference: “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.”

However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.

“It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”

Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.

[...] Perhaps Mr Gore had felt the need to gild the lily to buttress resolve. But his speech was roundly criticised by members of the climate science community. “This is an exaggeration that opens the science up to criticism from sceptics,” Professor Jim Overland, a leading oceanographer at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

“You really don’t need to exaggerate the changes in the Arctic.”

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A GLOOMY CHRISTMAS for Spanish retailers:
Spanish holiday spending will drop 9.1 percent this season, according to Deloitte, more than the 6.3 percent decline forecast for western Europe. El Corte Ingles SA, the nation’s biggest department store operator, is advertising 70 percent discounts to lure shoppers.

The credit crunch exacerbated the collapse of Spain’s housing boom last year, leaving people struggling to pay household debt that is among the highest in the euro region. The protracted crisis means more than half the jobless, including Serrano’s husband, have been out of work too long to get full benefits. Spain’s unemployment rate is 19 percent.

The outlook for next year doesn’t give consumers much reason for holiday cheer. The economy is forecast to contract 0.8 percent in 2010, lagging behind the European Commission’s estimate for European expansion of 0.7 percent. Spanish unemployment is expected to rise to 20 percent.

The political headline this week is that President Obama appears to be attempting to move toward the center, or what he believes is the center. We saw the big pivot in two major speeches, one on the economy and the other, in Oslo, on peace.

If it is real—if the pivot signals a true, partial or coming shift, if it is not limited to rhetorical flurries—it is welcome news in terms of public policy. It also tells us some things. It tells us White House internal polling is probably worse than the public polls telling us the president has been losing support among independents. It tells us the mounting criticism from Republicans, conservatives and others has had a real effect. It tells us White House officials have concluded they were out on a cliff. It tells us they are calculating that after a first year of governing from the left, and winning whatever they win on health care, they believe they can persuasively shift to the center, that it will work.

Which is the great political question: Will it work? With congressional elections a year away, will it help make Democrats safe and keep Congress?
Good question; keep reading.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A SAUDI TV channel is finally allowing women to be presenters. Great step for human rights! Oh, wait...

So why do leaders like Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown continue identifying themselves with the climate change agenda and policies like cap and trade? Perhaps it's best to see this as a clash of classes. Today's environmental movement reflects the values of a large portion of the post-industrial upper class. The big money behind the warming industry includes many powerful corporate interests that would benefit from a super-regulated environment that would all but eliminate potential upstarts.

These people generally also do not fear the loss of millions of factory, truck, construction and agriculture-related jobs slated to be "de-developed." These tasks can shift to China, India or Vietnam--where the net emissions would no doubt be higher--at little immediate cost to tenured professors, nonprofit executives or investment bankers. The endowments and the investment funds can just as happily mint their profits in Chongqing as in Chicago.

Global warming-driven land-use legislation possesses a similarly pro-gentry slant. Suburban single family homes need to be sacrificed in the name of climate change, but this will not threaten the large Park Avenue apartments and private retreats of media superstars, financial tycoons and the scions of former carbon-spewing fortunes. After all, you can always pay for your pleasure with "carbon offsets."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

GLOBAL WARMING, a matter of perspective...

OBAMA not starting well his Europe trip for the Nobel prize ceremony this morning:
Finally some Europeans are angry with Obama—the very ones who are awarding him his Nobel. Katarina Andersson on the president's decision to decline lunch with King Harald and skip his own Nobel exhibit.

A day before President Obama receives his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, the president’s treatment of his Norwegian hosts has become hot news across Scandinavia.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

TROUBLE in Utopia...
The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations.

The document is also being interpreted by developing countries as setting unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050; meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much under the proposals.

The so-called Danish text, a secret draft agreement worked on by a group of individuals known as "the circle of commitment" – but understood to include the UK, US and Denmark – has only been shown to a handful of countries since it was finalised this week.

The agreement, leaked to the Guardian, is a departure from the Kyoto protocol's principle that rich nations, which have emitted the bulk of the CO2, should take on firm and binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, while poorer nations were not compelled to act. The draft hands effective control of climate change finance to the World Bank; would abandon the Kyoto protocol – the only legally binding treaty that the world has on emissions reductions; and would make any money to help poor countries adapt to climate change dependent on them taking a range of actions.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

NO HYPOCRISY, NOOOO: Copenhagen climate summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes and caviar wedges. Copenhagen is preparing for the climate change summit that will produce as much carbon dioxide as a town the size of Middlesbrough.

Monday, December 07, 2009

NOW THIS is indeed a change of strategy:
AMAZON, the world’s biggest online retailer and scourge of bookshops everywhere, is planning a surprise invasion of the British high street.

Property landlords said that the American company, which has a market value of $59.1 billion (£35.6 billion), had launched a secret search for bricks-and-mortar stores to support its rapidly growing website. It is understood to be scouring the country for high-profile sites just as the Borders book chain is shutting up shop.

It represents an extraordinary reversal from the dotcom boom, when there were fears that internet shopping would kill off the high street. It would also be the most high-profile move by a web-only retailer into stores.
Bezos seems able to pull off anything he does.

UPDATE. Amazon has denied this.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

MARILYN THE POTHEAD? There's video...