WHY the debt ceiling matters this time.
Monday, September 30, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
CHINA TO RENT 5% OF UKRAINE. NO, REALLY:
It would be the biggest so called "land grab" agreement, where one country leases or sells land to another, in a trend that has been compared to the 19th century "scramble for Africa", but which is now spreading to the vast and fertile plains of eastern Europe.
Under the 50-year plan, China would eventually control three million hectares, an area equivalent to Belgium or Massachusetts, which represents nine per cent of Ukraine's arable land. Initially 100,000 hectares would be leased.
The farmland in the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region would be cultivated principally for growing crops and raising pigs. The produce will be sold at preferential prices to Chinese state-owned conglomerates, said the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp (XPCC), a quasi-military organisation also known as Bingtuan.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
HITLER, how dictators come to power in a democracy, and some lessons for us today.
SPAIN'S PM RAJOY to the WSJ: "Spain is out of recession but not out of the crisis."
Monday, September 23, 2013
NO, there is no population explosion on this planet.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
MICHELLE OBAMA says her husband "would have been an architect if he only had the skills."
Well, he didn't have the skills to be President and that didn't stop him, did it?
Thursday, September 19, 2013
SCIENTISTS Discover Source of Imagination in Human Brain.
30 UNIQUE And Must-See Photos From Our Past.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
WHERE'S the categorical imperative of "do not kill" when you need it? "Russian Shot in Quarrel Over Kant's Philosophy"
The Bank of Spain said Wednesday that bad loans held by the country's banks hit a new record in July, a sign of continued weakness in the industry despite a slight improvement in the country's economy.
Non-performing loans stood at 11.97% of total loans in July, up from 11.6% in June, which was already an all-time high. The previous peak was 11.4% reached in November--the last month before Spain's weakest lenders started to transfer bad loans to SAREB, a government-run "bad bank" currently in charge of managing those portfolios.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
FAKE BUT ACCURATE: "EU policy on climate change is right even if science was wrong, says commissioner." What a disgrace.
Friday, September 13, 2013
I INSIST: this has humongous geostrategical implications, particularly if you put it in context with Middle East turmoil:
U.S. oil production jumped last week to the highest level since May 1989, cutting consumption of foreign fuel and putting the U.S. closer to energy independence.
Drilling techniques including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, pushed crude output up by 124,000 barrels, or 1.6 percent, to 7.745 million barrels a day in the seven days ended Sept. 6, the Energy Information Administration said today.
Rising crude supplies from fields including North Dakota’s Bakken shale and the Eagle Ford in Texas have helped the U.S. become the world’s largest exporter of refined fuels including gasoline and diesel. Texas pumped 2.575 million barrels a day in June, according to the EIA, enough to rank it ahead of seven members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“It’s amazing,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC, a Houston-based consulting firm, who predicted last month that the U.S. would be pumping 7.75 million barrels a day by the end of the year. “The state of Texas is now producing more oil than the country of Iran.”
Meanwhile in Europe we'll soon regret the resistance too fracking.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
HOW TO keep your computer from destroying your eyesight.
“FLAT EARTH”, a myth of secularism?
GETTING DRUNK IN NORTH KOREA: "With crappy beer, strange nightclubs, and even bad hangovers, Pyongyang's nightlife may be the only domain in which a Westerner can find normalcy in the Hermit Kingdom."
Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.
The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.
Except her own plane. So that was the plan.
Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.
“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”
GOOD: "A huge water source has been discovered in the arid Turkana region of northern Kenya which could supply the country for 70 years, the government says."
TIMOTHY GARTON ASH on the U.S. and Syria: "The nation is sick and tired of foreign wars, and may never play its role of global anchor again. We may live to regret it":
In all the long history of US presidential addresses, has there been an odder one than this? With the solemn grandeur appropriate to a declaration of war, president Barack Obama informed the American people on Tuesday night that a congressional vote on military action had been postponed because Russia was now brokering a diplomatic initiative that might, or might not, put Syria's chemical weapons under international control. A Gettysburg address this wasn't.
There will be many more turns on the road to Damascus, but the politics of these weeks since the criminal use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August already tell us a lot about the US. First and foremost, they tell us what Obama himself acknowledged in his televised address, quoting the words of a letter sent him by a veteran: "This nation is sick and tired of war."
Yes, the shadow of being misled by Colin Powell (of all people) about the intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction hangs over this debate, as over European debates. But that's not the main point for most Americans. According to a New York Times-CBS poll this week, 75% of Americans think the Syrian government "probably did" use chemical weapons against Syrian civilians – and still they're overwhelmingly against the US military response that Obama advocated.
16MM FILM taken onboard the Apollo 11.
SADDEST PART? I REMEMBER: What 12 of The World’s Biggest Websites Looked Like at the Beginning.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
I WAS SHOCKED this needed to be said until I remembered it's Bill Clinton's hometown: "Little Rock school district will now make teachers wear underwear"
Monday, September 09, 2013
THE U.S. IS IN THE BEST HANDS:
On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Syria could avoid an American attack by turning over "every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week."
Russia immediately jumped on the offer, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow will urge Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control in a bid to avert military intervention.
This is a deft political move on Russia's part, especially since the State Department immediately walked back Kerry's comments by saying that he "was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used."
The Wall Street Journal's Tom Gara observes that Russia is capitalizing on a "silly Kerry mistake," since even though Assad would never turn over chemical weapons, beginning such a process would serve an ideal delay to any U.S. decision to attack Syria.
IT WASN'T JUST TERRORISM: Snowden Documents Show U.S. Spied on Petrobras, Globo TV Reports.
PICTORIAL ESSAY: Scenes From 21st-Century China.
GOOD THING Obama wasn't spying on American citizens and in the few cases it did it was just a mistake, eh?
The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.
In addition, the court extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years — and more under special circumstances, according to the documents, which include a recently released 2011 opinion by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.Oh, and this: Spiegel: NSA Can Spy on Smart Phone Data
Friday, September 06, 2013
PUBLIC SERVICE INFORMATION: What should you do if you get raped by a dolphin? Believe it or not, it happens 14 times a year in the U.S. I knew that smile was mischiveous...
Thursday, September 05, 2013
PROVING EINSTEIN RIGHT: "To ensure every child 'wins', Ontario athletic association removes ball from soccer"
UPDATE. Hey, it's satire...
THE WOMEN of the Aghanistan war: a superb photo collection.
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
FROM THE STUPID HEADLINE DEPARTMENT: "Thirty-one Spaniards find work in August". Registered unemployment is a result of people who got jobs minus people who lost jobs, you morons. It doesn't mean that only 31 people found work during the month.
By the way, the data is not bad at all: August unemployment hadn't gone down for years, for example last year it went up 38.179. Plus, it actually went down 13,700 people if you use seasonally-adjusted data.
Monday, September 02, 2013
ON OBAMA AND SYRIA: "By comparison, George W. Bush on Iraq looks like Metternich." Ouch.
BE CAREFUL OUT THERE: Why You Shouldn't Necessarily Trust Those Reports Of Kim Jong-un Executing His Ex-Girlfriend.
Sunday, September 01, 2013
SOME FOLKS are saying that Kerry used a photo from the Iraq war to fuel support for Syria strike, but that was the BBC and it was over a year ago. Note the "fell off his chair" quote by the photographer. The 'confusion' seems to come from this Infowars post, in which they republished the initial report with a current date.
FROM THE 'I THINK WE OVERSTATED A BIT' DEPARTMENT: "Madrid’s Gran Vía has once again been made whole. The capital’s main thoroughfare — the city’s answer to Broadway, Regent Street and the Champs-Élysées, all rolled into one". Take that, world capitals!
And that's just because they forgot to add Ginza and Via Veneto...
RIDING The Fastest Train In The World, Shanghai’s Maglev.
Amazing video, especially on minute 3 onwards (top speed is reached on minute 5):
IN SPAIN TOO: Antiwar Left Stays Quiet On Syria.