Friday, September 30, 2005

MEANWHILE, in the real world:
The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) yesterday withdrew an amendment backing prime minister Zapatero's proposed "Alliance of Civilizations" before the European Parliament in order to prevent its being voted down on the floor. After the amendment passed the Europarliament's foreign affairs committee over the opposition of the Spanish People's Party (PP), the PSOE's soundings indicated that it would be defeated by the body as a whole.
In the text, the Euro MPs would have declared their satisfaction at UN secretary general Kofi Annan's support for Zapatero's project, as he called it "an important instrument for world peace."

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TWO of five Africans killed when hundreds of migrants charged a razor-wire fence while trying to cross into a Spanish enclave in Morocco had bullet wounds, indicating they were shot from the Moroccan side of the fence, according to reports yesterday.

Sources close to the Spanish investigation reportedly said bullets had passed through the side of one immigrant and through the buttock of the other.

They said the trajectory meant that they could only have been fired from Morocco. Spain ordered troops to its two enclaves in northern Morocco to bolster security and to try to ward off more waves of immigrants.
For a background on Ceuta and Melilla, see this in Slate, which is quite good even though its misses the real cause why both cities are not colonies. Daniel Engber says that "[t]he Moroccans have long contested the ownership of Ceuta and Melilla (and a number of nearby Spanish islands). To make matters more complicated, Spain has argued that it should also own the British colony at Gibraltar—which is just across the strait from Ceuta. This apparent double standard has led to some criticism of the Spanish position: Spain responds by saying that Ceuta and Melilla aren't "colonies" since Spaniards have been living there since before Morocco even existed."

But the main reason is that, unlike Gibraltar and other colonies, Ceuta and Melilla have exactly the same legal regime than mainland Spain. Colonies tend to have a different legal system -frequently as a tax haven, as The Rock itself-, whereas the two Spanish cities in Northern Africa are ruled by exactly the same set of laws than, say, Barcelona. And both cities have congressmen, senators sitting in Madrid's parliament in the same footing than congressmen and senators coming from other parts of the country. Whether the legal system is the same or not is the main trait of colonies, not whether they're adjoining another country with no physical boundary with the mainland. Otherwise it could be argued that Alaska is one!

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Another year, another anti-everything rally on the Mall. The protesters insisted that 3.2 billion people showed up for the latest example of radical onanism; D.C. authorities put the number somewhat lower, but they're an arm of The Man, so what do you expect?

Cindy Sheehan was on hand to squander whatever moral heft accumulated during her Texas driveway campout, complaining that Hurricane Rita got more press coverage, topping off the weekend by getting arrested at the White House with a big grin on her face. She was also photographed hugging Jesse Jackson by a sign that demanded an end to the occupation of Palestine. Of course, "Palestine" is "occupied" as long as there's an Israel, or "Hymie Nation," as the good Reverend would have it. But that's off the subject. Impeach Bush!

At some point the adamantine skulls of the rally organizers might be penetrated by the realization that the "anti-war" cause is not served by letting the death-to-Israel crowd trot alongside, or diluting the message with a million other complaints. Middle America might have legitimate gripes with the administration's war policy, but its citizens are disinclined to side with hairy people who paint Bush as Hitler with dripping fangs. It's like holding a rally for lower taxes and inviting the Klan: doesn't broaden the base.
Read the rest.

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COLUMBUS DAY military parade in Madrid update:
The Spanish ministry of defense yesterday confirmed that Fidel Castro's Cuba will be the only one of the twenty Latin American countries that will not participate in the traditional military parade in Madrid held on October 12, Spain's national holiday. Diplomatic sources in Havana said, "The Cuban revolutionary armed forces do not participate in this sort of events in foreign countries."
Well, maybe this kind of events. By the way, Venezuela is still in.

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IT WAS bound to happen sooner or later:
The Netherlands and Belgium were the first countries to give full marriage rights to homosexuals. In the United States some politicians propose “civil unions” that give homosexual couples the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage. These civil unions differ from marriage only in name.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands polygamy has been legalised in all but name. Last Friday the first civil union of three partners was registered. Victor de Bruijn (46) from Roosendaal “married” both Bianca (31) and Mirjam (35) in a ceremony before a notary who duly registered their civil union.

“I love both Bianca and Mirjam, so I am marrying them both,” Victor said. He had previously been married to Bianca. Two and a half years ago they met Mirjam Geven through an internet chatbox. Eight weeks later Mirjam deserted her husband and came to live with Victor and Bianca. After Mirjam’s divorce the threesome decided to marry.

(via Fausta).

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Spain has suffered a further erosion this year in its ability to compete in the global economy, according to the results of an annual survey by the World Economic Forum.

Spain slipped to 29th position in 2005 in the Geneva-based WEF's Growth Competitiveness Index rankings from 23rd last year. The index was based on a survey of 11,000 business leaders in 117 economies worldwide, as well publicly available data. The survey uses a broad range of factors affecting the business environment, such as the macroeconomic scenario, the quality of public institutions and the level of technological progress.

Finland topped the rankings again, followed by the United States and Sweden. Spain ranked behind countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Qatar, Estonia, Portugal, Chile and Israel.

"The Nordic countries share a number of characteristics that make them extremely competitive, such as very healthy macroeconomic environments and public institutions that are highly transparent and efficient, with general agreement within society on the spending priorities to be met in the government budget," said Augusto López-Claros, the chief economist and director of the WEF's Global Competitiveness program.

López-Claros said the fall in Spain's ranking was due a series of factors. He identified one of these as the fact that Spain moved from having a budget surplus to a small deficit last year. The strength of the euro against the dollar also made Spanish exports and those in the euro-zone as a whole less competitive. Businessmen surveyed also pointed to a drop in technological transfer from foreign investment, and relatively lower numbers of university students.

Yeah, and having an erratic policymaker like Zapatero doesn't have anyything to do with it. Roger yearns for Aznar; I never thought I'd say this, but so do I.

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Five sub-Saharan Africans have been killed and 50 others wounded as they and hundreds of others scaled tall fences in a bid to enter a Spanish enclave on Morocco's northern coast, officials said.Three of them died on Moroccan territory and two others died in Spanish territory, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told reporters on Thursday.

Fernandez de la Vega was speaking in the city of Seville at the Spanish-Moroccan summit that was planned before the tragedy and was focusing attention on the immigration problem.

Earlier Thursday, Jeronimo Nieto, Madrid's chief delegate in Ceuta -- a tiny historical Spanish enclave near the Strait of Gibraltar -- told SER Radio the two who died on Spanish territory suffered their fatal wounds either while scaling the fence topped with barbed wire or from blows that could have come from trampling and stampeding.

UPDATE. El Pais is reporting (link in Spanish) that autopsy results show that three of the five have died of gunshots, with ammunition not consistent with the one used by Spain's security forces. That is, they were shot from Morocco's territory. Maybe they can clear that out in the summit...

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IT MAY BE a little late for that:
Struggling for more than a year to improve its troubled relations with Washington, Spain is investing big bucks in a new effort to expand Spanish business in the United States and enhance the Iberian country's image before the American public.

For President Bush, the Spanish government may still be in the doghouse since pulling its troops out of Iraq. But Spanish officials are determined to move beyond the bitterness and boost interest in exports, investment and more diversified tourism.

"We'd like to convert the United States into a stable market for our exports," Jose Montilla, Spain's minister for industry, commerce and tourism, said. Spain represents an economy relatively unknown in the U.S., both as a producer and an importer, he said.

Montilla spoke ahead of a mission he is heading this week to several U.S. cities, including Washington and Miami, to promote the Spanish "brand" as part of a $100-million "Plan USA." Spain, the promotion goes, is more than sun and Serrano ham: It also has scores of companies prepared to invest in technology, energy, pharmaceutical and other businesses in the United States.
Of course, being the LA Times it had to include Zapatero's urban legend (just like the "imminent threat" myth, that Bush never said but still gets repeated over and over again):
The political relationship between Madrid and Washington took a nose dive after the electoral victory of Zapatero and his Socialist party in March 2004, which ousted a right-wing government that had been especially friendly to the Bush administration.

Zapatero's first action was to make good on a long-standing campaign promise to remove Spanish troops from Iraq, to the overwhelming approval of Spaniards but the great irritation of Bush.
Which is not true. Not the Spaniards' approval or Bush's irritation, which are both undeniable, but the fact that withdrawing from Iraq on his very first day in office -a Sunday afternoon and before the Defense minister had sworn in- was to make good on a long-standing campaign promise. What Zapatero had said all along is that he would order the return of the troops if he won (duh!) and if there was no UN resolution by June 30, which there was: UNSC 1546, of June 9, 2004, with a yes vote from Spain, at that time a member of the Security Council.

He justified the abrupt pullout saying that he knew for sure that there was not going to be a resolution. He's a real Nostradamus, and I'm not being ironic: he was a real Nostradums, but of the lying kind. That's because he really saw the resolution coming before June 20, and he realized that if he waited until then he would be forced to leave the troops in Iraq. Not only that would conflict with his anti-war position, but he also needed the propaganda effect for the elections to the EU Parliament on June 13. Polls were predicting it as a tight race that Zapatero might even lose, so he needed any 'help' he could get so he could show the world that his March 14 victory was not a one-time miracle, conveniently assisted three days earlier by the mujahideen.

Even with the pullout, the results were a tie between the Socialists and the Popular Party, so the propaganda effect saved his ass.

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Less than a year after the Basque region said it had the right to break away from Spain, Catalonia is debating a similar proposal that risks creating a new conflict between Madrid and the Spanish regions.

The proposal, which will be put to a final vote at the regional Parliament here Friday, includes an assertion of what advocates call Catalonia's "historic rights." Analysts say that this would challenge the supremacy of the Spanish Constitution over local law.

The debate in Barcelona has already created a political headache for Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, a Socialist, who is being portrayed by the conservative opposition as preparing to open the door to the Balkanization of Spain.

[...] An advisory body to the Catalan government has declared, in a nonbinding report, that 19 elements in the autonomy proposal are unconstitutional. They include a declaration that Catalonia's powers of self-government, already substantial in its current relationship with Madrid, are derived not from the Spanish Constitution but from historic rights that cannot be taken away.

That declaration, passed into law, could set the stage for future assertions that the region is free to ignore the Spanish Constitution, scholars say.

"Juridically, Catalan autonomy and the rights to self-government come from the Constitution," said Jeff Miley, a political science professor at Yale University, who has written about Catalonia and Spanish politics. "But if you put in the idea that it is a nation with these historic rights," he said, it can be argued that "the basis for autonomy comes from history, not the Constitution."

To be approved by the Catalan Parliament, the measure will need the support of two-thirds of its 135 members. With politicians seeming to modify their positions on the proposal almost daily, it is unclear what the final version will look like.

The measure would also be subject to approval by the national Parliament in Madrid, where Zapatero has pledged to support whatever the Catalan Parliament approves - as long as it does not conflict with Spain's Constitution.

Zapatero first made that pledge in 2003, before he became prime minister, in an effort to help a Socialist candidate in Catalonia, Pasqual Maragall, court votes from residents eager for more autonomy from Madrid, according to Miley.

"It made sense at the time," Miley said, since few people expected that Zapatero would win the general election in 2004 and would have to make good on his promise.

Everyone was expecting the incumbent Popular Party to win, Miley said. Instead, Zapatero won a surprise victory three days after the March 11 train bombings in Madrid, and Catalans are now calling on him to be true to his word.

Some members of Zapatero's government have already begun suggesting that the Socialist Party may back away from this commitment.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

SINCE IT'S NOT the fascist Bush and his cronies, stifling dissent and muzzling the brave free press, I guess it's OK:
The administration representative in Guadalajara province, Juan Pablo Herranz, asked the media yesterday to stop reporting on the forest fire that killed eleven firefighters this summer. Herranz tried to hide behind the "suffering" that the news is causing to "some of the victims of the fire." Nevertheless, the relatives of some of the dead believe the administration's attitude is just one more sign of the administration's lack of concern for this tragedy, as they said in an open letter they sent to prime minister Zapatero last week. Herranz called for a "news blackout" so that the media would stop reporting on the fire, which "was terrible, and which I don't want to talk about anymore."
Poor baby.

Just imagine how would everyone react if anyone from the Bush Administration would've uttered such words on, say, the Katrina aftermath. Or if they had denied last weekend's protests because freedom of assembly, one of the most fundamental tenets of a liberal democracy, is "the most primitive form of protest, what with all the possibilities provided by 21st century society.". Take that, Cindy Sheehan!

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THE PROSECUTOR of the mega-trial of the Sept. 11's al-Qaeda cell in Madrid, whose members were lightly sentenced earlier this week, not only agrees and won't appeal: he thinks that, get this, the sentence "will save lives". And he's not talking about the defendants, no.

The commentariat in Spain -most of it- certainly agrees: they say that not punishing them too hard is better since then they won't get angry and look for revenge.

And if we surrender and convert us all to Islam they will definitely respect our lives. Oh, wait...

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YOU GRANT an almost blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants and, of course, that's what you get:
Hundreds of African immigrants stormed a fence surrounding the tiny Spanish enclave of Melilla on the Moroccan coast on Tuesday, trying to climb over on makeshift ladders before being repelled by police in riot gear.

Spanish authorities called it the biggest ever mass attempt to breach the fence guarding the coastal enclave, about 100 miles from the Spanish mainland across the Mediterranean. At least 19 people suffered minor injuries.

Of the 500 who stormed the enclave, some 100 immigrants, all from sub-Saharan Africa, managed to break through and enter Spanish territory. They were taken to a police station for identification, said Narciso Serrano, from the Interior Ministry in Melilla.

Serrano said police found some 270 ladders made of tree branches in the area.

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REMEMBER THAT last year US troops were disinvited for the October 12 parade in Madrid? Remember that one year before that, when Zapatero hadn't yet gained power with the 'push' of the jihadists on March 11, he conspicuously refused to stand up when the Stars and Stripes was passing in front of him ("Why should I? It's not my flag"; see this post for background).

Well, guess which countries are good for Zapatero: he's inviting for this year's October 12 military parade... Cuba and Venezuela!
The Spanish national holiday, October 12, commemorating Columbus's discovery of America, will see all the Latin American countries, including Cuba and Venezuela, participate in the traditional military parade. The holiday is two days before the Ibero-American summit, to be held in Salamanca. The armies of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez will march through the streets of Madrid. In 2003, at the very same parade, then opposition leader Zapatero refused to stand up as the United States flag passed by as a protest against the Iraq war.
You'll see him raising, that's for sure.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"ANTI-WAR, my foot", Christopher Hitchens writes on last weekend's protests (the "Grieving Mother" included). I'd have written "my ass" but hey, what do I know:
Saturday's demonstration in Washington, in favor of immediate withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq, was the product of an opportunistic alliance between two other very disparate "coalitions." Here is how the New York Times (after a front-page and an inside headline, one of them reading "Speaking Up Against War" and one of them reading "Antiwar Rallies Staged in Washington and Other Cities") described the two constituenciess of the event:

The protests were largely sponsored by two groups, the Answer Coalition, which embodies a wide range of progressive political objectives, and United for Peace and Justice, which has a more narrow, antiwar focus.

The name of the reporter on this story was Michael Janofsky. I suppose that it is possible that he has never before come across "International ANSWER," the group run by the "Worker's World" party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the "resistance" in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the génocidaires in Rwanda. Quite a "wide range of progressive political objectives" indeed, if that's the sort of thing you like. However, a dip into any database could have furnished Janofsky with well-researched and well-written articles by David Corn and Marc Cooper—to mention only two radical left journalists—who have exposed "International ANSWER" as a front for (depending on the day of the week) fascism, Stalinism, and jihadism.

The group self-lovingly calling itself "United for Peace and Justice" is by no means "narrow" in its "antiwar focus" but rather represents a very extended alliance between the Old and the New Left, some of it honorable and some of it redolent of the World Youth Congresses that used to bring credulous priests and fellow-traveling hacks together to discuss "peace" in East Berlin or Bucharest. Just to give you an example, from one who knows the sectarian makeup of the Left very well, I can tell you that the Worker's World Party—Ramsey Clark's core outfit—is the product of a split within the Trotskyist movement. These were the ones who felt that the Trotskyist majority, in 1956, was wrong to denounce the Russian invasion of Hungary. The WWP is the direct, lineal product of that depraved rump. If the "United for Peace and Justice" lot want to sink their differences with such riffraff and mount a joint demonstration, then they invite some principled political criticism on their own account. And those who just tag along … well, they just tag along.

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.

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SHEER SENSATIONALISM is what virtually all the media were doing in their Katrina coverage:
After five days managing near-riots, medical horrors and unspeakable living conditions inside the Superdome, Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron prepared to hand over the dead to representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Following days of internationally reported killings, rapes and gang violence inside the Dome, the doctor from FEMA - Beron doesn't remember his name - came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying.

The real total was six, Beron said.

Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the turning over of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice. State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been killed inside.

At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies were recovered, despites reports of corpses piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been slain, said health and law enforcement officials.
(barretina tip: Tom Pechinski)

Don't hold your breath waiting for a correction or at least an acknowledgement that the information eventually was not accurate (if they couldn't verify everything, they should have alerted about that back then, instead of passing rumors as proved facts). Even worse, expect to see the urban legend repeated over and over by journalists, pundits and, above all, Bush administration critics.

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YET MORE of ETA's "negotiation":
A bomb explodes at a small hydroelectric station in northern Spain Tuesday morning, causing light damage to the facility, a federal government spokesman said.

"At 10 a.m., the civil guard found the remains of an explosion in a little building that pertains to a small electrical station," the spokesman in Zaragoza province told CNN.

"The damage was of slight consideration."

The bomb exploded near the town of Anon de Moncayo, about 200 miles (325 kilometers) north of Madrid.

Media reports said warning calls from Basque separatist group ETA were placed ahead of the explosion.
From the terrorist perspective, this strategy makes perfect sense. After all, they have in front of them an administration that thinks that events like these do not mean that talks should end, but validate even more the need of dialogue and negotiation.

UPDATE. I didn't know that Zapatero is supposed to be in Zaragoza, the capital city of the province where the blast happened, today (link in Spanish). I guess this leaves the message even clearer.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

SPAIN, the land where mass murder is cheap:
A suspected al Qaeda cell leader has been convicted in a Madrid court in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks and sentenced to 27 years in prison.

Two other suspected al Qaeda members were acquitted of charges they helped plot the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, the accused cell leader, was sentenced to 15 years on charges of conspiracy in the attacks and 12 years for being a leader of a terrorist group.

The court cleared him of being an accomplice to murder in connection with the attacks. Yarkas, 42, faced nearly 75,000 years in prison if convicted on those charges -- 25 years for each of the nearly 3,000 fatalities in the 9/11 attacks.

The Spanish court also found al Jazeera television reporter Taysir Alony guilty of collaboration with al Qaeda and sentenced him to seven years in jail. Alony was not charged in connection with 9/11.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

ETA PLAYS ITS HAND in the negotiation game with Zapatero:
A car bomb exploded at an industrial park in central Spain on Saturday but there were no casualties in the first attack in two months by the armed Basque separatist group ETA.

Two Basque newspapers had received calls in the name of ETA warning a bomb would explode at the industrial park, officials said. That gave police time to evacuate the area, a few miles (kms) from the historic walled town of Avila, west of Madrid.

"The police arrived and told us we had two minutes to get out," Juan Carlos Fernandez, a worker at a printing plant, told state radio. He said the blast occurred soon afterwards.

Three buildings were damaged by the bomb, which police believed was placed in a van parked nearby, officials said.
Luckily, no one was hurt.

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I BOW in respect to a master, Scott Ott:
Hours after a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll revealed that fewer than half of respondents believe the U.S. can win the war in Iraq, a second survey showed that more than 99 percent of Americans are not in Iraq, and almost as many form opinions about the war based exclusively on what they learn from CNN, USA Today and other news organizations.

Of the 818 Americans telephoned by pollsters, according to an unnamed Gallup spokesman, roughly zero percent are currently stationed in Iraq, where about 150,000 U.S. troops spend their days providing security, hunting down terrorists, training Iraqi police and soldiers and rebuilding schools, water systems and other infrastructure elements.

(barretina tip: Manel Gozalbo)

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

YOU'VE GOT to read this Simon Wiesenthal obituary in Haaretz, written by Claudia Brunner, the great-niece of one of Adolf Eichmann's close associates.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

SIMON WIESENTHAL has left us, but Eli Wiesel is still with us; Fausta attended his speaking appearance in Princeton. Great post.

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CHARLES is absolutely right: where's the outrage?
Emboldened by Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and part of the West Bank, Hamas yesterday announced its plan to turn a synagogue in Netzarim into a museum that would display weapons employed by the terrorist group’s members against Israeli civilians.

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THIS IS what happens when you create trouble for Zapatero's government:
Administration: No money from income-tax checkoff for AVT

The administration collected 97 million euros from Spanish taxpayers in 2004 through the income-tax return checkoff for "objectives of social interest." Until now, some of that money was destined to the Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT), officially recognized as an organization operating in the public interest. However, labor and social issues minister Jesús Caldera has decided not to concede any of this money to the AVT because of "the limitation of existing credit in order to deal with all of the programs requesting funds."
The AVT stated that Caldera's decision "contradicts the pronouncements of prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero at the last debate on the state of the nation, when he had no doubts in claiming that his administration had considerably increased aid to the various associations of victims. As events are proving, his words were false, since in a clearly partisan manner the ministry has decided to exclude the AVT from the sharing out of the 97 million euros."
The AVT was the main organizer of the million-man march in Madrid last June, the humongous demontrations against Zapatero's negotiation with ETA (backround here, here and here, in chronological order.) I'm not personally in favor of legalized extorsion, which is what obligatory tax contributions to be handed as subsidies are, but considering they're already mandatory the money should be given according to objective criteria and not on the administration's mood. It's very clear that this decision is a way a punishing "bad behavior" and letting any association know what will happen if they dare to sound a different note than the government.

But wasn't Bush supposed to crush dissent?

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FOR SOME, there are walls, and walls:
Spain to create its own Berlin Wall to stop immigrants

22 September 2005

MELILLA — Spain announces it is to make its frontier fence with Morocco as high as the Berlin Wall after 12 men are badly injured trying to get across existing fences into Melilla.

In all 70 tried to break through the three metre-high fences which are topped with row upon row of barbed wire.

Twelve suffered broken bones, cuts and other injuries and were being treated in hospital.

One man was captured by TV cameras hanging from the barbed wire in apparent pain.

The latest assault came as Spain announced it is to make the frontier fences higher.

They will be the same height as the Berlin Wall.
Bad comparison, my friends; the wall is much more similar to Israel's. In both cases they're designed to prevent people coming in, whereas the Berlin Wall prevented people from going out. Besides, it'd make much more sense to compare it to a currently existing wall than to something of the past. But they still prefer to compare it with the non-existent Berlin Wall because comparing it to Israel's not only would be un-PC, but would leave exposed the hypocrisy of criticizing the latter while building higher and higher ones in our own countries.

More on this subject in a Guardian article sent by reader Tom Pechinski.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

SOUNDS LIKE a cliché, but this is one case where the saying "a picture's worth a thousand words" does really have a meaning. Even though it's actually two, not one, images.

(via blog in Spanish HispaLibertas)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

THE OTHER NOTES that Bush was also scribbling when he was caught with the now famous "bathroom note" but that were never immortalized by a Reuters photographer (a little explanation of the third one: "Ansal" or "Ansar" was how Bush was supposed to pronounce the surname of Zapatero predecessor as Spain's PM, Jose Maria Aznar).

Can't deny they're really funny.

UPDATE. Link was missing, fixed now; sorry.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005


That’s the current death toll in Louisiana from the hurricane and catastrophic flooding. Terrible for the victims, their family, their friends.

But also much less than the 10,000 widely predicted.

And, BTW, much less than the more than 35,000 killed by a heat wave in Europe two summers ago.

You recall the debate that set off about European heartlessness, racism and discrimination? No, neither do I.
Game, set, match for Cliff May.

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THE FINE ART of high diplomacy:
Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said at a press conference Sunday that the German Socialist party's "better than expected" showing in the recent parliamentary election is due to outgoing German prime minister Gerhard Schroeder's "personality. "He added that if the election results are compared with pre-election surveys, they were a "failure" for Christian Democrat candidate Angela Merkel.
Does he even realize that Merkel might build up a coalition in which she's the chancellor? I guess that after offending the American people and cheering Kerry as only a teenager would (a grown up would hedge his bets a little, at least until the result is 100% clear) Zapatero has shown that diplomacy is not one of his assets. But even so, is he aware that he may have to deal around important issued with Merkel at the next EU summit?

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Monday, September 19, 2005

IF YOU WERE IMPRESS by the picture in this post, just wait to see Pallywood, an online documentary about the media manipulation of footage that is cooked and served to the Western media.

You can watch it in a streaming version or you can download it in a higher-definition Divx; whatever the format, don't miss it.

UPDATE Sept 20. My friend Golan kindly points out that it should be "If you were impressed", not "impress". Of course; I was writing in haste yesterday. However, I cannot correct it above, since Blogger builds the URL of individual posts from its first words, so if I change anything I'll destroy the URL.

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CONDOLEEZA RICE said this during an interview on NBC last week:
QUESTION: ...I don’t think people necessarily compute that a democratic Iraq translates into a safer United States. I don’t think that message is necessarily gotten through to people.


QUESTION: They see it as way over there and –

SECRETARY RICE: No, Katie, they – I don’t disagree that’s what the polls show right now. I do think that in time, when this settles out again, that the ground is there for – to return to the argument we were making and to win that argument.

There’s a reason Americans also don’t want us to pull out of the Iraq because they understand that somehow it’s linked to our security. If they didn’t understand that, why wouldn’t they say, well, you know, we’ll just – because I think they do understand it’s linked to our security.

QUESTION: And on that – on the flipside, you know, the argument it simply galvanized extremism worldwide and seemed to chin up -- chin it up, I guess, that’s what people argue.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I find this the most bizarre argument of all. For the period from the emergence of Usama bin Laden at the beginning of the ‘90s, but I think George Schultz would argue going all the way to back to ’83 and the bombing of the barracks in Lebanon, you had a terrorist threat that was growing and getting stronger and getting bolder. And it was essentially undisturbed by American policy. It was – or world policy – and there were skirmishes here and there, but basically, nobody took it on. And then it exploded in a big way on September 11th and we recognized and now are getting fuller view that there were so over the world, that they were laying in wait, that this is an ideology of extremism that has been growing and gaining steam for an extended period of time. And so now we’ve confronted it. And people say, “Oh my goodness, they’ve come out so you must have created them.” No, we didn’t create them. They’ve now come out to fight because we’re fighting them.

And so when you hear people say, you know, Iraq is a training ground for terrorists. It’s a battle ground.

QUESTION: Haven’t a lot of foreign fighters infiltrated the border and it came to light in an (inaudible) this morning –

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Of course they have. So –

QUESTION: -- and he was talking about that and how it sort of decreased recently but so many – in other words, so I see your argument for the world, but what about for Iraq itself?

SECRETARY RICE: But, Katie, the problem is there were some --

QUESTION: -- you like to talk crossfire? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: I’m an academic, I love debate. No, look, they were someplace causing these problems and now they decided, because they understand the centrality and the importance of Iraq, that they’re going to fight in Iraq. But we were going to fight them in Iraq or we’re going to fight them someplace and they weren’t sitting someplace drinking tea and engaged in productive lives and decided, oh my goodness, they’re fighting in Iraq now so I think I’ll go to Iraq. That’s not who these people are. These are hardened, core veterans of jihads who now have come to Iraq to fight, so they have to be defeated somewhere. We just as well defeat them in Iraq. And that’s why I find the argument, that, you know, I was saying earlier, it’s like saying, "Well, the Nazis got experience on the battlefield." Well, yes, they did, when we decided to do battle with them. They’re getting experience on the battlefield because we’re doing battle with them. But the absence of Iraq, it would’ve been – it would’ve been Afghanistan or it would’ve been the U.S. presence in the Gulf.

Tony Blair took this on very effectively yesterday when he said, "When are we going to stop allowing the extremists to make us the excuse for their extremism? When are we going to stop falling prey to the argument that we created extremism when we know that in fact this has been there, unattended and now we’ve finally confronted it." And I think that’s really the crux of this.

Of course, she said much more; you can read the full interview here.

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THE MOST SHOCKING outcome of last week's U.N. summit was the failure, once again, of the world organization to take a definitive stand against terrorism. It was scarcely surprising that the 191 member-states could not come to agreement on adding members to the Security Council or on sweeping management reforms or on foreign aid, however disappointing these failures were to some. But a long-overdue declaration on terrorism had seemed well within reach.

That it was needed in the first place will surprise many. The sad fact is that the U.N. has never spoken clearly on this issue, thanks to the stubborn efforts of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, or OIC, made up of 56 states — nearly 30% of the U.N.'s membership.

After 9/11, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan took it upon himself to secure a blanket condemnation of terrorism, but it was beaten back by the OIC. Last year, after the attack that killed hundreds of schoolchildren in Beslan, Russia, Annan tried to get a resolution of this kind through the Security Council but was forced to settle for equivocal language in order to secure the votes of OIC members Pakistan and Algeria.

A proposed U.N. convention against terrorism has been stalled since 1997. The holdup? How to define terrorism. But this is nothing more than a semantic trick. The Islamic states insist that terrorism must be defined not by the nature of the act but by its purpose. Putting a bomb in a market or train or bus is not an act of terrorism, they say, if it is done for a righteous purpose; namely national liberation or resistance to occupation.

To say there is a problem of definition is to focus on a word. The real question is whether it is ever legitimate to target women, children and other noncombatants. For the Islamic states, the answer is yes.

[...] U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns claimed victory nonetheless because we had at least blocked an explicit reiteration of the U.N.'s support for terrorism. "Sometimes in diplomacy, defeating negative measures is a very important achievement," he said. If blocking yet another pro-terror resolution is an achievement by U.N. standards, then the institution's moral corruption may prove harder to cure than the material corruption so much at the center of attention.
(Via Bad Hair Blog)

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

MEET SPAIN'S Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodr-IGOR Zapatero:


(shamelessly stolen from Spanish blog Nosoloblogs)

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I DON'T THINK I'll be doing any live blogging of the Afghan and German elections today, properly speaking; perhaps some comment later in the day, or tomorrow. And this is because lots of people better prepared than me will be doing it.

What I plan to do, and suggest you to do the same, is to follow Jim Hoft' Gateway Pundit and Robert Mayer's Publius Pundit for Afghanistan, and David Kaspar's MedienKritik for Germany. Sounds it's going to be a night to remember.

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SEÑOR MAÑANA ZAPATERO has been known so far for cancelling important meetings simply because he's tired; but if this is true it's even worse:
Three presidents – Lula da Silva of Brazil, Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain and Nestor Kirchner of Argentina –canceled an appearance scheduled for today at New York University.

The three presidents, in New York for a United Nations summit on poverty, were asked by the AFL-CIO to cancel their long-scheduled appearance to discuss “Latin America and Europe: Challenges and Realities.” The U.S. labor federation asked the presidents not to appear at any NYU events until the university agrees to negotiate with GSOC/UAW Local 2110, the union representing graduate teaching and research assistants.

“NYU claims this event was canceled due to a ‘scheduling conflict’ “, said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “The real conflict here is between the democratic rights of NYU’s academic student employees, who have repeatedly expressed their majority support for union representation, and the autocratic behavior of NYU administrators who refuse to come to the bargaining table.”

“NYU can try to spin this any way they want,” said Phil Wheeler, director of UAW Region 9A, which includes New York City. “But the reality is quite plain: World leaders who respect democracy, human rights and worker rights don’t want to be associated with an institution which betrays those very principles when dealing with its own workforce.”

The UAW and the AFL-CIO are calling upon scholars, community leaders and public officials to refrain from NYU-sponsored events until the university agrees to bargain in good faith with Local 2110.
Since when do chiefs of the excutive branch of a major democratic country agrees to be used as a tool by a union's bargaining tactic in a foreign country? Of course, there's a chance that it's the AFL-CIO and not NYU who is spinning furiously, but then I'd expect an immediate note from La Moncloa (Spain's White House, so to speak) denying this.

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ABLE DANGER had warned about the increased risk of an attack in the Yemen area, three weeks before the USS Cole was hit:
Members of a secret Pentagon intelligence unit known as Able Danger warned top military generals that it had uncovered information of increased al Qaeda "activity" in Aden harbor less than three weeks before the attack on the USS Cole, The Post has learned.

In the latest explosive revelation in the Able Danger saga, two former members of the data-mining team are expected to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee next week that they uncovered alarming terrorist activity and associations in Aden weeks before the Oct. 12, 2000, suicide bombing of the U.S. warship that killed 17 sailors.
Which puts some perspective on the group's credibility when they warned about Atta and Brooklyn cell, doesn't it.

Via Captain's Quarters, in a post where he starts at length with the item I posted about yesterday.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

A SIGNIFICANT new development on the Able Danger affair:
A Pentagon employee was ordered to destroy documents that identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist two years before the 2001 attacks, a congressman said Thursday.

The employee is prepared to testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was expected to identify the person who ordered him to destroy the large volume of documents, said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa.

Weldon declined to identify the employee, citing confidentiality matters. Weldon described the documents as “2.5 terabytes” — as much as one-fourth of all the printed materials in the Library of Congress, he added.
Será mejor que os preparéis para seguir el asunto en este blog, porque como es algo que no deja mal a Bush sino a Clinton no aparecerá en los medios del país.

(hat tip: MG).

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I PREDICT they'll end this nonsense in six months, one year maximum:
The marquee columnists for The New York Times' Op-Ed page _ including Thomas L. Friedman, Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich _ generate lots of interest and discussion online. Now, the paper is hoping they'll also generate something else: cash.

Beginning Monday, the Times will begin charging $49.95 a year to people who don't get the paper delivered at home for access to those writers as well as other columnists for the Times' business, metro and sports sections.

The new service called TimesSelect will also include access to the Times' archives, early looks at some sections of the paper and online tools for tracking and storing articles from the Times Web site. The Times will still maintain a separate premium service for its crossword puzzles.

It's a bold move for the Times since the restrictions are certain to reduce the online exposure for those columnists, whose articles are routinely among the most e-mailed items on the Times' Web site. The Times could also see a decline in traffic to its site after bloggers can no longer link to articles by the columnists.
UPDATE. This is just one of the reasons why.

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Friday, September 16, 2005

WHAT A SHORT MEMORY some people have regarding Iraq, Robert Kagan accuses in the Washington Post (free reg. req.; hat tip Golan):
If you read even respectable journals these days, including this one, you would think that no more than six or seven people ever supported going to war in Iraq. A recent piece in The Post's Style section suggested that the war was an "idea" that President Bush "dusted off" five years after Bill Kristol and I came up with it in the Weekly Standard.

That's not the way I recall it. I recall support for removing Saddam Hussein by force being pretty widespread from the late 1990s through the spring of 2003, among Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, as well as neoconservatives. We all had the same information, and we got it from the same sources. I certainly had never based my judgment on American intelligence, faulty or otherwise, much less on the intelligence produced by the Bush administration before the war. I don't think anyone else did either. I had formed my impressions during the 1990s entirely on the basis of what I regarded as two fairly reliable sources: the U.N. weapons inspectors, led first by Rolf Ekeus and then by Richard Butler; and senior Clinton administration officials, especially President Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, William Cohen and Al Gore.

I recall being particularly affected by the book Butler published in 2000, "The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Growing Crisis of Global Security," in which the chief U.N. inspector, after years of chasing around Iraq, wrote with utter certainty that Hussein had weapons and was engaged in a massive effort to conceal them from the world. "This is Saddam Hussein's regime," Butler wrote: "cruel, lying, intimidating, and determined to retain weapons of mass destruction."

A big turning point for me was the confrontation between Hussein and the Clinton administration that began in 1997 and ended in the bombing of Iraq at the end of 1998. The crisis began when Hussein blocked U.N. inspectors' access to a huge number of suspect sites (I'm still wondering why he did that if he had nothing to hide). The Clinton administration responded by launching a campaign to prepare the nation for war. I remember listening to Albright compare Hussein to Hitler and warn that if not stopped, "he could in fact somehow use his weapons of mass destruction" or "could kind of become the salesman for weapons of mass destruction." I remember Cohen appearing on television with a five-pound bag of sugar and explaining that that amount of anthrax "would destroy at least half the population" of Washington, D.C. Even as late as September 2002, Gore gave a speech insisting that Hussein "has stored away secret supplies of biological weapons and chemical weapons throughout his country."

Read the rest.

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TONY BLAIR pulls the plug on Kyoto:
NEW YORK - Kyoto Treaty RIP. That's not the headline in any newspaper this morning emerging from the first day of the Clinton Global Initiative, but it could have been -- and should have been. Onstage with former president Bill Clinton at a midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was going to speak with "brutal honesty" about Kyoto and global warming, and he did. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had some blunt talk, too.

Blair, a longtime supporter of the Kyoto treaty, further prefaced his remarks by noting, "My thinking has changed in the past three or four years." So what does he think now? "No country, he declared, "is going to cut its growth." That is, no country is going to allow the Kyoto treaty, or any other such global-warming treaty, to crimp -- some say cripple -- its economy. Looking ahead to future climate-change negotiations, Blair said of such fast-growing countries as India and China, "They're not going to start negotiating another treaty like Kyoto." India and China, of course, weren't covered by Kyoto in the first place, which was one of the fatal flaws in the treaty. But now Blair is acknowledging the obvious: that after the current Kyoto treaty -- which the US never acceded to -- expires in 2012, there's not going to be another worldwide deal like it.

So what will happen instead? Blair answered: "What countries will do is work together to develop the science and technology….There is no way that we are going to tackle this problem unless we develop the science and technology to do it." Bingo! That's what eco-realists have been saying all along, of course -- that the only feasible way to deal with the issue of greenhouse gases and global warming is through technological breakthroughs, not draconian cutbacks. Blair concluded with a rhetorical question-and-answer: "How do we move forward, post-Kyoto? It can only be done by the major players coming together and pooling their resources, to find their way to come together."
Would've been better if it hadn't taken him fours to realize, but it's better late than never (hat tip: reader Tom P).

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ARIEL SHARON yesterday at the UN General Assembly:
"The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel does not mean disregarding the rights of others in the land. The Palestinians will always be our neighbors. We respect them, and have no aspirations to rule over them. They are also entitled to freedom and to a national, sovereign existence in a state of their own.
Today, when my life’s path has led me to become a warrior and military leader in all the wars, I extend my hand to our Palestinian neighbors in a call for reconciliation and compromise, so we may end the bloody conflict and, together, get on the path that leads to peace between our nations.
Of course, this has been not reported in most Western media. Argentinian blogger (in Spanish) Alrepedo is pissed, and rightly so (via HispaLibertas, also in Spanish).

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Esto es propaganda, lo demás chorradas

This is an electoral poster for the German SPD. Text translation: "She would have sent soldiers". 'nuff said (via blog in Spanish HispaLibertas)

UPDATE Sept 17. For some reason, the image was not visible; they apparently moved it from their website (too many complaints?). Now it's stored somewhere else, and I have downloaded a copy to my computer just in case.

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MORE BAD economic news for Spain:
Spain's current-account balance, which totals income from and expenses of foreign economic relations, showed a deficit of 33.1 billion euros in the first six months of 2005, a 77% increase over the deficit in the first half of 2004, according to the Bank of Spain. These changes are due mostly to the increase of the trade deficit and, to a lesser degree, the increase of the interest deficit, and the reduction in the services surplus and that of bank deposits.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

SOMEHOW I don't think the BBC was thinking in the alternative meaning, but they inadvertedly nail it:
Much of Gaza is a great mass of apartment blocks - flung up to house the exploding population.
(H/t: reader Tom Pechinski)

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IF JOURNALISTIC ETHICS was anything more than an empty label in journalism school curriculum, this should be studied:
Editor & Publisher reports on a cozy little deal made by The Washington Post and The New York Times in which the two MSM giants let each other know in advance what their most important product - the Front Page - will be, every day.

"As part of a secret arrangement formed more than 10 years ago, the Post and Times send each other copies of their next day's front pages every night.

"The sharing began as a courtesy between Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. and former Times Executive Editor Joseph Lelyveld in the early 1990s and has continued ever since.

"'It seemed logical, because for years we would always try to get a copy of each other's papers as soon as they came out,' Downie tells E&P. 'It made sense to both of us to make it simpler for everybody.' Lelyveld, who left the Times in 2001, declined comment."

In any other industry, this would be called "collusion" and the Times and Post editorial pages would be in high dudgeon, demanding anti-trust investigations by the Department of Justice. Go here for the full E & P report.

Can you imagine what the outrage would be if it were Microsoft and Apple exchanging their product plans every day? Or GM and Ford? Hertz and Avis?

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

ZAPATERO'S 'dialogue': visionary or just stupid?, wonders a quite skeptical James Badcock in Lebanon's Daily Star, regarding Zapaterlain's proposal for an Alliance of Civilizations he threw last year but which development he'll be defending before UN's General Assembly later today:
In the post-September 11 climate, few people are talking of world peace. In an age when the words "military response" and sometimes "negotiated settlement" are everyday terms, it is fair to say that Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Alliance of Civilizations initiative, born a year ago at the 2004 General Assembly of the United Nations, has not set the world alight.

In the year that has followed Zapatero's debut speech at the UN headquarters in New York, the move to build a bridge between the Western and Arab-Muslim worlds has largely fallen on deaf ears, and has even been the object of derision. However, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has lent his support and patronage to the fledgling alliance, and will at this week's General Assembly announce plans to take the initiative forward with the setting up of a high-level group of international figures.

[...] Zapatero's acceptance of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as official co-sponsor of the initiative reflects the isolation in which the Spanish leader has found himself regarding policy toward Muslims and terrorism among his more senior European colleagues. For the moderate Islamist Erdogan, there is an obvious need to re-emphasize Turkey's credentials as a "bridge" between East and West on the eve of the start of accession talks for its possible entry into the European Union.

When Zapatero traveled to London to meet Tony Blair three weeks after the July 7 bomb attacks in the city, however, the British prime minister's response was polite but somewhat dismissive. Blair gave his backing to the Alliance of Civilizations initiative but when asked if he would then work to persuade Bush of its worth, he snapped that he was not a White House spokesman, adding that he hardly saw how Bush or anyone else could have anything against such an apparently innocuous platitude.

Clearly, Zapatero's obvious enjoyment of rhetoric for its own sake can make his forays into foreign policy seem more than a little naive. On the other hand, thanks partly to the presence in the Spanish government of former EU special envoy to the Middle East, Miguel Angel Moratinos, as foreign minister, besides Zapatero's major personal commitment to enhanced relations with Morocco and Algeria, Madrid's credit with Muslim nations is riding high.
Read the rest.

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CLOSE, but no cigar:
Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero finally gets a brief meeting with US president George W Bush.

The two met at a reception in New York after months of diplomatic game-playing.

Bush said a warm hello to the Spanish king and queen who were accompanying Zapatero to the UN Assembly General in New York.

But the US president spared Zapatero a moment to say hello.

Bush is hosting a reception for leaders on the eve of the United Nations Assembly General meeting.

Diplomatic sources said no meeting had been planned between Zapatero and Bush.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

DOES MY ROCK look big on this?

(via blog in Spanish Desde Sefarad)

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MAC JOHNSON on Katrina:
First out of the gate were the Holy Men of the Cult of Global Warming, who couldn’t wait for the first dead to wash up before they declared the Hurricane irrefutable proof of Global Warming and a direct responsibility of George W. Bush.

Next up were the racial ambulance chasers, always looking for another grievous injury to add to their political caseload. Looking at the Sea of Black faces abandoned without transportation, food, water or protection, they somehow managed to look past the City’s Black Mayor, Black Police Chief, Black City Council members and all the other Black office holders that run the 67% Black city, and found that the whole thing was: white folks’ fault. Yet another example of racism at its worst.

This opened up a torrent of Bush-bashing, since he was the closest Republican that had any responsibility for the City. The Democratic Governor of Louisiana -- though white -- was merely a victim of the whole thing it seems, just like the Mayor of New Orleans. Nobody has any power in this world other than George Bush. Nobody has any responsibility. George Bush is now the navel of the world for his enemies. If a butterfly flaps its wings in Central Park, it’s George Bush’s fault. And the butterfly is racist. And it was blown there by Global Warming.

[...] The storm may have triggered the violence, but it did not cause it. What we saw in New Orleans was what happens in America’s most murderous city when the criminals realize that all the cops have left.

It wasn’t desperation, or insanity, or protest. It was New Orleans, without police.

Many people believe that Washington, D.C., is the “murder capital of America.” And indeed it often is, but that is only because such rankings are limited to “major cities” –those with a population of 500,000 or more, and New Orleans has (or had) a population of 485,000. Were it not for this actuarial accident, Washington, D.C.. wouldn’t even have a shot at the murder title. The per capita murder rate in New Orleans is 16% higher than in “Murder Capital” Washington, D.C.; and nearly 10 times the national average. To have a murder rate equal to that of New York City, New Orleans would need to reduce its murders by 86%. No, that’s not a typo.

At a time when crime is plummeting in most of America, it has been steadily increasing in New Orleans. And one cause is simple: The New Orleans City Government has run its law enforcement apparatus into the ground. On a per capita basis, New Orleans has less than half as many cops as Washington, D.C.: just 3.1 police officers per 1,000 citizens. Turnover has become a huge issue, as young cops leave at the first opportunity. A report conducted for the city two years ago said that New Orleans was “bleeding police officers.”
Read the rest.

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MORE ON YAHOO "search and capture" (background here):
Yang, speaking at the Alibaba China Internet Summit here, also said he wasn't happy with the 10-year sentence to journalist Shi Tao, jailed for passing on a government censorship order through his Yahoo e-mail account.

"We did not know what they wanted information for, we are not told what they look for, if they give us the proper documentation in a court order we give them things that satisfy local laws," Yang told journalists

"I don't like the outcome of what happened with this thing, we get a lot of these orders, but we have to comply with the law and that's what we need to do."
Roger nails it: "Oh, really? By the exact same logic, were Yahoo a German company in the 1940s and the state had asked it to send all their Jewish, Catholic, gypsy and gay employees to concentration camps for extermination, well, it would have been the local law and they would have had to have done so."

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I'm using the same picture as last year because it's so good. It was taken by my friend José Carlos Rodríguez who back then was leaving in New York.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

A LEAKED internal memo from the UN with the talking points in the aftermath of the damning the Volcker report on the Oil For Food scam, commented by the real journalistic heroine who has relentlessly pursued it: Claudia Rosett.

Rosett intersperses her own comments after each paragraph, so it's impossible to bring here just one or two bits. So click on the link and read it all.

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CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER (reg. req. in the Washington Post; no reg. in Townhall ):
In less enlightened times, there was no catastrophe independent of human agency. When the plague or some other natural disaster struck, witches were burned, Jews were massacred and all felt better (except the witches and Jews).

A few centuries later, our progressive thinkers have progressed not an inch. No fall of a sparrow on this planet is not attributed to sin and human perfidy. The three current favorites are: (1) global warming, (2) the war in Iraq and (3) tax cuts. Katrina hits and the unholy trinity is immediately invoked to damn sinner-in-chief George W. Bush.

This kind of stupidity merits no attention whatsoever, but I'll give it a paragraph. There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period. The problem with the evacuation of New Orleans is not that National Guardsmen in Iraq could not get to New Orleans, but that National Guardsmen in Louisiana did not get to New Orleans. As for the Bush tax cuts, administration budget requests for New Orleans flood control during the five Bush years exceed that of the five preceding Clinton years. The notion that the allegedly missing revenues would have been spent wisely by Congress, targeted precisely to the levees of New Orleans, and reconstruction would have been completed in time, is a threefold fallacy. The argument ends when you realize that, as The Washington Post notes, ``the levees that failed were already completed projects."

Let's be clear. The author of this calamity was, first and foremost, Nature (or if you prefer, Nature's God). The suffering was augmented, aided and abetted in descending order of culpability by the following:
And then he gives details, leaving nobody unscathed. In decreasing order: the mayor of New Orleans, the Lousiana governor, the head of FEMA, president Bush and the American people.

Krauthammer nails it.

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City officials said Friday that the death toll from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath may be far lower than originally feared, as troops and police shifted their attention from rescue of the living to recovery of those who died here in the past 11 days.

The mayor had warned previously that the number of dead in New Orleans could be as many as 10,000, but other city officials said Friday morning that initial sweeps of flooded and devastated neighborhoods suggested a total that would be less cataclysmic, if still tragic.

"Some of the catastrophic deaths some people have predicted may not have occurred," said Col. Terry Ebbert, the city's director of homeland security, declining to provide further details. "The numbers, so far, are relatively minor as compared with the dire predictions of 10,000."

No figures yet, but it could even be in the high triple-digits. Which is still terrible, of course.

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ISLAMISTS and neo-Nazis, the peculiar alliance, writes Daveed Gartnstein-Ross, who has some comments in theblog he co-authors about the response he got from the chief of Aryan Nations.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

ISLAMIC EXTREMISM IN EUROPE: an interesting interview on NPR with Gustavo de Aristegui about his latest book, Jihad in Spain, and Islamic terrorism in general.

De Aristegui is the son of the Spanish ambassador to Lebanon who was assassinated by the Syrians a couple of decades ago and one of Europe's (world's?) top experts in Islamism. Currently a member of the Spanish parliament for the Popular Party and likely Spain's Foreign Affairs minister (that's Secretary of State for you, Americans) if it wasn't for March 11 and Zapatero's victory. He makes Moratinos (Foreign Affairs minister right now) even more painful to watch, hear or read.

In the interview, de Aristegui has some concessions to political correctness about how Islam is a religion of peace, and so and so (hey, maybe that's a requirement to get interviewed on NPR!) but nevertheless it's really worth listening to.

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JUST. READ. THIS. (via Glenn Reynolds)
As the full horror of Hurricane Katrina sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if this is the end of George Bush's presidency. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that every copy of the US Constitution was destroyed in the storm. Otherwise President Bush will remain in office until noon on January 20th, 2009, as required by the 20th Amendment, after which he is barred from seeking a third term anyway under the 22nd Amendment.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the entire political agenda of George Bush's second term will not still be damaged in some terribly satisfying way.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that the entire political agenda of George Bush's second term consists of repealing the 22nd Amendment. Otherwise, with a clear Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, he can carry on doing pretty much whatever he likes.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the Republican Party itself will now suffer a setback at the congressional mid-term elections next November.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that people outside the disaster zone punish their local representatives for events elsewhere a year previously, both beyond their control and outside their remit, while people inside the disaster zone reward their local representatives for an ongoing calamity they were supposed to prevent. Otherwise, the Democratic Party will suffer a setback at the next congressional election.

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HEH (Trademark Glenn Reynolds).

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"THERE'S A SAYING that bloggers are journalists who won't make a five-minute phone call, while journalists are bloggers who won't spend five minutes on Google."

Great sentence read in Dana Blankenhorn's always interesting newsletter.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

This is a banner created by the Argentinian blogger Rubén Benedetti as a part of a campaign because of this.

Literally translated, it means "Yahoo!, Not only a search engine, but also a snitch"; of course it sounds better in Spanish because it rhymes.

But if I had to do an English version, I'd say "Yahoo! Search... and capture!", or something like that.

Anyway, pass it on!

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MAROUSSIA has much more about Antonio Valdes-Garcia, the dual Spanish-Russian citizen who had been heading a Yukos affiliate and who had been badly battered in an intriguing incident about which I wrote a few days ago.

It almost sound as a bad movie script...

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AS THE BLOGFATHER would say, "Heh". The link points to a blog in Spanish, but you'll understand if you click on the happy-faced PM.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

SO IF EVERYONE is blasting Bush because he should have better managed thousands of armed and security forces, hundreds of planes, copters, boats and trucks, tons of food, medicines, clothing to help Katrina victims, then what to say when Sean Penn couldn't even manage one damned single boat?

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Monday, September 05, 2005

A FEW TRUTHS from Ben Stein addressed to those who have ears and eyes and care to know the truth (via LGF)

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ANOTHER MUST-READ by Victor Davis Hanson, this time in the Washington Post: Why We Must Stay in Iraq (via blog in Spanish Amor, Patria y Libertad)

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

SUNNIS and the Iraqi constitution:
To vote or not to vote? That is the question that the Arab Sunni community in Iraq is asking as it ponders what position to take vis-à-vis the proposed draft constitution.

The question is not easy to answer. There is much in this draft that the Sunnis, along with most other Iraqis, like. The draft guarantees their individual human rights, protects their faith and culture, and points the way to a future in freedom and prosperity. At the same time, however, the proposed draft paints a picture in which the Arab Sunni minority will never be able to see itself in control of virtually all levers of power, as was the case before the war.

While it is too early to predict what the Arab Sunnis will do, one thing is certain. A majority of them have decided to remain active within the electoral process, that is to say seeking to get a better deal through elections rather than via insurgency and terrorism. In this the Arab Sunnis, accounting for some 15 percent of the population, are joining Iraq’s other communities that, for the time being at least, seem to favor ballots to bullets. The showdown will come on Oct. 15 when the proposed draft is put to a popular referendum.

Legally, the proposed draft could be killed if any three provinces, out of the 18, reject it with two-third majorities. Politically, it could also die of anemia, which is to say if it is approved by a small majority in a low turnout.

This is why Iraqis from all ethnic and religious backgrounds are queuing up to register to vote. They understand the stakes involved. No one knows how many of those who are rushing to register intend to kill the proposed draft with their votes.

Even before its publication the proposed constitution had been attacked by those who had opposed the liberation of Iraq in the first place.
Amir Taheri then goes on to touch the two issues -federalism and role of Islam- which have war and Bush critics hyperventilating most; he deconstructs both.

(barretina tip: Yeda)

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ARE WE TOO SOFT for a new kind of war?, asks Victor Davis Hanson:
Not long ago Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla, an authentic American hero, was shot three times and wounded in Mosul, Iraq, as he led his men into a terrorist enclave.
The jihadist who shot him survived and was given first-rate American medical care for his wounds. It turns out the terrorist was captured earlier in December 2004, on suspicion of being involved in a deadly suicide attack on an American base. Then he was turned over to the Iraqis, sent to the notorious Abu Ghraib jail and released. Once free, he returned to killing Americans and his rendezvous with Col. Kurilla.
For bickering Americans back home, Abu Ghraib is a "Stalag," but for the terrorists it's apparently a rest stop before resuming their hunt for Americans.
This recent incident once more reflects how confused we are in the West over the proper way to obtain the needed ends. While we worry we have gone too far in our harshness, our enemies are convinced our softness has us too far gone to win this war.
This fight is quite different from past conflicts. The jihadists have no uniforms. Their first, not last, resort is terrorism. They know they cannot win unless they murder and demoralize civilians, preferably in the U.S., as we saw September 11, 2001.
But there is another difference that involves us and not just the enemy. In the past, a poorer and less sophisticated United States largely embraced a tragic vision of dealing with the world as it was rather than what we hoped it might be.
Our forbears believed they did not have to be perfect to be good. To them, war, like poverty and depression, was another of the tragedies of the human experience where there were no good choices -- the least ghastly being victory at all costs.
So this war against Islamic fascism is a perfect storm of sorts, involving an enemy that uses stealth and counts on Western society's own liberty and magnanimity to destroy itself at the pinnacle of its affluence and sensitivity.
Keep on reading.

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

THE ANATOMY of the Arab mind, according to Tarek Heggy.

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