Monday, July 31, 2006

I WAS OUT yesterday on a family celebration, and today I've been busy with work. But you're following all the events in the Middle East at Pajamas Media, right?

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

JOHN @ IBERIAN NOTES translates some of the letters to the editor from one of Barcelona's leading newspapers, El Periodico, on the Lebanon conflict. Read'em and weep.

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THE 'DISPROPORTIONATE RESPONSE' in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict comes from the United Ambitions, er, I mean the United Nations, Claudia Rosett correctly states.

UPDATE. A good cartoon:

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THIS IS HOW liberals injure blacks, writes Dennis Prager:
I was recently shown a videotape of people reacting to radio talk shows. Organized by a firm that specializes in analyzing radio talk shows, the members of the listening panel were carefully chosen to represent all major listening groups within American society.

But I quickly noticed something odd -- I saw no blacks among the selected listeners. I asked why. And the response was stunning.

Blacks had always been included, I was told, but no more. Not because the firm was not interested in black listeners -- on the contrary, blacks are an important part of the radio audience. They were not invited to give their opinion about various radio shows because in its previous experience, the company had discovered that almost no whites would publicly differ with the opinions of the blacks on the panel. Therefore, once a black listener spoke, whites stopped saying what they really thought, if what they thought differed from what a black had said.

I believed that this was the reason -- not some racist animosity toward blacks -- since such companies are paid to give accurate reports on audience reactions to radio programs, and clearly their results would be skewed without input from black listeners. But I still needed to test this thesis. Do most whites really not publicly say what they believe, if what they believe differs from what a black believes -- even when the subject has absolutely nothing to do with race (i.e., reactions to a radio talk show discussing other subjects)?

So I posed to this question to my radio audience, and, sure enough, whites from around the country called in to say that they are afraid to differ with blacks lest they be labeled racist.
Read the rest.

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I'M BACK, and the first thing I want to do is to publicly thank Aaron for his great job while guestblogging here this week. Not that I'm surprised about the quality of the posts, far from it. Aaron is a great writer with a great perspective, and I'm sure all Barcepundit readers have been enjoying what he had to say this week over here. Problem is he raised the bar for me!

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

A SMALL ADMINISTRATIVE ANNOUNCEMENT: I'll be away from tomorrow until Friday (no, not on vacation) and will be carrying my laptop, but unlike other occasions I won't have time to blog. So it is my pleasure to announce that while I'm out, Aaron Hanscom will be guestblogging; Aaron is a good friend (we have even written a piece together), and although he's normally based in Los Angeles he just happens to be in Ecija, near Seville in Southern Spain, for the next couple of months. That's not the reason he'll be sitting in, of course; he'd be right even if he was in Patagonia or the Gobi desert.

So enjoy his writings, and I'll see you all on late Friday or early Saturday!

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

EXACTLY THIS is what anti-Israel demonstrators are supporting:

And they had the gall to call this guy a Nazi.

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PACIFISTS vs peace: superb Thomas Sowell. The worst thing, he writes, is that pacifists usually win. A pearl of wisdom: "If cease-fires actually promoted peace, the Middle East would be the most peaceful region on the face of the earth."

Read it all.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

AS I WROTE, there was an anti-Lebanon war demonstration yesterday in Madrid, officially organized by the Socialist party (Zapatero's), the Communist party and several anti-war groups. Turned out to be an anti-Semitic fest, with chants like: "Nazis, Yankees, Jews: no more choosen people!" "Long Live the Intifada!" and "We Want to See, We Want To See, Zapatero Burning the Israeli Embassy!" (trust me, it's more musical in Spanish)

A brave soul went there with a pacard that, on one side, said "Israel DOES want peace; stop the killings", and on the other "Don't be fooled: whoever votes for Hamas or Hezbollah doesn't want peace". He was quickly surrounded by people shouting "Who's is paying you to come and provoke us?" which quickly degenerated into a chorus people rhythmically shouting "Nazi" at him. Things were turning ugly so he had to be taken away by anti-riot police.

Here's a video (via Spanish blog Manifestómetro):

Remember, this was a rally officially sponsored by the party of our prime minister.

UPDATE. Aaron Hanscom weighs in on kefiyya-gate in his latest piece in Frontpage.

UPDATE II. Fausta has more.

UPDATE III (July 22). More videos of the Madrid demonstration. And here some pictures of the Barcelona demonstration too.

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LAURENCE SIMON has a point bashing Zapatero for his hypocrisy regarding kefiyya-gate, writing:
Moratinos, Solana, and Zapatero should stop looking East and instead should look South at Spain's own brutal and shameful longtime occupation of another country's lands.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Spain currently occupies sovereign Moroccan territory, the land of Arab Muslims:

Morocco protests Spain's control over the coastal enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and the islands of Penon de Velez de la Gomera, Penon de Alhucemas and Islas Chafarinas, and surrounding waters...

Spain uses attack dogs that are trained to kill, armed troops with shoot-to-kill orders, double-fencing, barbed and razor wire, and electrified barriers to protect their illegal and humiliating occupation of Ceuta and Melilla.

Territory won in colonial wars on conquest, not defensive wars protecting Spain from utter destruction and its population from genocidal massacre.

Territory won in colonial wars on conquest, not defensive wars protecting Spain from utter destruction and its population from genocidal massacre.And unlike Gaza, Judea, Samaria, Golan, and Southern Lebanon, if Spain were to hand over that territory now they wouldn't be sacrificing Spanish security in the slightest or putting the existence of Spain at risk by one bit.

I'm not one who doesn't like a little Zapatero-bashing, but in this case I think the analogy doesn't work. I won't repeat myself, but here's is what I wrote regarding another usual analogy used when discussing Ceuta and Melilla: Gibraltar:

Gibraltar is a colony, while Ceuta and Melilla are not. A colony is a body of people living in a new territory but retaining ties with the parent state and the territory inhabited by them (Merriam-Webster). It is also a territory that, while keeping its administrative ties to the mainland, is ruled by a different legal regime than that of its metropolis. This is the case of Gibraltar, whose set of laws have turned it into an offshore banking point, with all its implications in money laundering and tax evasion.

But Ceuta and Melilla are two integral parts of Spain's legal regime, and so they are subject to the same set of laws as the mainland territory (including a remarkable degree of de-centralization; as you know, Spain is organized in 17 Autonomous Communities, roughly similar to the US organization into states). They are both represented in the Spanish Congress and Senate as the other mainland autonomous communities are. Just like, say, Alaska (Hawaii is an archipelago so the analogy doesn't work), they may not have a contiguous border with the mainland territory, but they are an integral part of its legal, fiscal and political system at the same level, with the same rights and obligations, as the rest of the country.
In another post, I also wrote:
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!

UPDATE. Easy, man. I said you had a point. And of course no historical analogy is 100% accurate; you can always find some point to throw at somebody else's face. And in fact the Alaska comparison was just in passing; the gist of my argument was to say that the Middle East occupation on the one hand and Ceuta and Melilla on the other is not correct. That's all. I could have used the same tone you've used but chose not to. Don't really know how you could take it as a personal attack or something. Whatever.

UPDATE II. My buddy Marzo, in Saragossa (Spain), who knows everything, tells me about two counter-examples especially addressed to Laurence Simon: Angle Inlet (or Northwest Angle) and Point Roberts, in Washington. I admit I didn't know about them, and they prove that territorial issues can be found anywhere. Plus, reader Mike H. emails a reminder of US' history too:
New Mexico and Arizona are going to require razor wire for about the same reasons as the two cities in north Africa and they were filched from Mexico during the Mexican - American war.
UPDATE III. Another buddy, John @ Iberian Notes, comments.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

A TRUE STATESMAN showing he really understands the subtle developments in diplomacy:

This afternoon the Socialist party is one of the official endorsers of an anti-war demonstration to be held in Madrid.

Even Saudi Arabia is not exactly blaming Israel. Let alone the G-8 group and all Western democratic countries. But Zapatero, the man, knows where his sympathies are. Funny thing is that afterwards he tried to do some damage control saying "well, I wasn't very comfortable wearing it."

If I was a believer I'd say: God help us all.

UPDATE. "Israel says Spain relations hurt by PM remark"
Israel's envoy to Spain said on Thursday the two countries' relations had been damaged after the Spanish prime minister accused Israel of using "abusive force" during an event at which he also wore a Palestinian scarf.

Spain's ability to use its influence to help defuse the growing Middle East conflict could suffer following the speech by Prime Minister
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to a meeting of young Socialists on Wednesday, Ambassador Victor Harel said. "Each declaration which is not balanced has consequences for parties who want to use their influence," Harel told reporters at Madrid's Ritz Hotel where he listened to Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos at a conference. Relations with Spain "are not in their best moment", he said.
Problem is, it's a badge of honor to be in bad terms with Israel, over here...

UPDATE II. Much more here, including this ridiculous defense of Zapatero by Foreign minister Moratinos:
[Moratinos] said he was not worried by the diplomatic effect of photographs in Spanish newspapers on Thursday of a grinning Zapatero wearing a black-and-white Palestinian scarf passed to him by a student at Wednesday's meeting.

"I imagine that when Prime Minister Zapatero goes to the Wailing Wall, he'll put on a kippah."
I didn't know we had already handled Alicante, where Zapatero' kefiyya-wearing took place, to the Palestinians. That would be the only way that the comparison would make any sense. Besides, I guess there are as many chances of him going to Israel as there are of Bush returning Zapatero's call (you'll remember that, after publicly rooting for Kerry's victory, Zapatero called Bush after he won in november 2004. Bush didn't pick the phone, and Zapatero is still waiting)

UPDATE III. Still much more here, including an alleged incident:
Although many experts had foretold of the imminent disappearing of European Jews, nobody expected such a virulent explosion of anti-Semitism in Spain, not even under a Leftist government.

The first signal came on Monday, 5 December, when during a dinner with the Benarroch family, Zapatero and wife began claiming what Vidal Quadras, member of the European Parliament, described on the radio as "a tirade of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism".

By the moment the Benarroch couple had left the table to express their regrets, Zapatero was explaining his lack of surprise about the Holocaust: according to the people present, Zapatero claimed to understand the Nazis.
I heard that the Benarroch family (no right-wingers, precisely) left a dinner after some Zapatero comments, but even though I'm not really a fan of Zapatero I have trouble believing he actually said openly that he understands the Nazis. So take this with a grain of salt.

UPDATE IV. The scandal keeps growing.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

LOOK WHO WANTS the US Army to stay in Iraq now: the Sunnis.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

WHAT A FRAUD, THIS VIDEO IS!* Where's the missile, eh, where's the missile?? And these pieces from a plan, couldn't someone put them there later, eh??

*Note for the clueless: I'm being ironic.

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I'M STILL in my Pajamas.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

I'LL BE ALL WEEKEND at Pajamas Media, that will be keeping its live and continuous coverage of the Middle East situation. Join us there.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

STILL BUSY AT Pajamas Media, where we're continuously following events in Lebanon / Israel / Palestine at this link. There's also some potentially very troublesome news: India's intel services are officially blaming Pakistan for Monday's terror attacks. War?

UPDATE. Lebanon coverage at Pajamas Media continues here.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

IF YOU WANT TO FOLLOW the current situation in the Middle East, Pajamas Media is doing an up-to-the-minute coverage. I'll be busy there, as I've been during the last hours, so don't expect me to blog about this here because I'll be busy over there.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Inside the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s spacious new headquarters here, when asked how many siblings he has, Anthony Atala gives a long gentle laugh instead of a reply.

Just to have shared that he was born in Peru and comes from a large family is more than he normally divulges about his personal life to journalists. But asked about his work with urothelial cells — the cells that line the bladder, ureter and urethra — Dr. Atala bends forward and talks a blue streak. Which might be expected of a urologist and tissue engineer who grows, from scratch, fully functioning bladders.

In April, when the two-year-old institute that Dr. Atala directs for Wake Forest’s School of Medicine moved into some 50,000 square feet of space in the Piedmont Triad Research Park, it became one of the world’s largest research facilities dedicated to regenerative medicine, a practice that aims to refurbish diseased or damaged tissue using the body’s own healthy cells.

The field of tissue engineering is large in this endeavor, with researchers like Dr. Atala exploring a basic approach. To repair or replace parts, they seed a biodegradable scaffold with cells and insert it into the body, where the cells, if all goes smoothly, mature into functioning tissue.

At the institute, he and more than 80 colleagues are working on tissue replacement projects for practically every body part — blood vessels and nerves, muscles, cartilage and bones, esophagus and trachea, pancreas, kidneys, liver, heart and even uterus.

In the long term, the scientists hope, patients may no longer have to wait on the national transplant list “for someone to die so they can live,” as Dr. Atala puts it. Organs could be tailor-made for people.

A more immediate goal is to improve upon a multitude of smaller therapies: transplantable valves for ailing hearts, cell-and-gel preparations for crushed nerves, injections of skeletal muscle cells for urinary continence or new salivary gland tissue to rescue radiation patients from dry mouth.

“The reason this technology works: It’s not really surgery,” Dr. Atala said. “We’re just priming the pump” by putting the appropriate cells into the appropriate place and asking the body to do the rest.

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The terror attack on Mumbai trains was carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba and local Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists and was designed to trigger communal conflagration in the country’s financial capital, intelligence sources said.

While still waiting for clues to emerge, top intelligence sources in New Delhi seem pretty sure the blasts on the trains were plotted by Lashkar modules which are increasingly collaborating with activists of SIMI, which boasts of strong pockets of influence across Maharashtra.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

9/11 IN THE US, 3/11 in Madrid, and now 7/11 in Mumbai: Pajamas Media is following the terror attacks in India.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

EVEN THOUGH I don't agree with some of his views, I think that David Corn is a reasonable guy (if I were naughtier, I'd add "for a leftist"...) But I think he needs a lesson in Economics 101 or two, at least judging by his entry on Bush's visit to a Dunkin' Donuts yesterday. He writes:
George Bush went to a Dunkin' Donuts on Wednesday. No, this wasn't a Bill Clinton moment. The president was making a political point-about immigration. The two Iranian Americans who own this donut shop in Alexandria, Virginia, apparently cannot find the workers they need to keep churning out those circular sugar bombs. So, Bush said, Congress has to pass legislation that will allow illegal immigrants to become legal guest-workers.

Congress does need to deal with immigration. But there might be another solution to the Dunkin' Donuts problem--raising the minimum wage. If work at fast-food shops paid more, there would be more fast-food workers. Isn't that how the market works?

Can he please explain exactly how raising the minimum wage by law is letting the market work? Gee, I thought some things were obvious.

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HMMMM... Look at what I saw in my Gmail inbox, in the area on top where you get news links:

It's about Bush's news conference a few minutes ago, but "Bush Road Show Hits Chicago" is a bit mean way to put it, isn't it? As if it all was propaganda to sell something; perhaps it's my English, but it seems to me the derogatory tone is obvious. Clicking on the link the news is more neutral, though: "Bush: North Korea Different Than Iraq"; the word "roadshow" is nowhere to be found. I'm not accusing Google, since they presumably get the RSS feed from their sources and the headlines go there automatically. I think it's something from the same ol' CBS again, and they changed the story perhaps because they realized they were being a tiny bitty biased. Again.

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I DON'T WANT to ruin your day, but readings things like this one realized how serious is the situation:
Just in time for the one-year anniversary of 7/7, a poll conducted for The Times of London indicates that 13 percent of British Muslims believe that the four Islamic suicide bombers who murdered 52 people in London last July should be regarded as "martyrs."
With a Muslim population in Britain estimated at 1.6 million, this means that some 208,000 British Muslims regard these killers with what can only be described as a worshipful attitude, which is despicable. But Mother England, it seems, is home to an awful lot of despicable people.
One of them, surely, is Anjem Choudary, who made related news this week. Mr. Choudary is a former leader of al-Mujahiroun, a defunct, jihad-inciting group, whose venomous pronouncements on Islamic supremacy have earned him a strange prominence in the British media. He refuses to condemn the 7/7 attacks, says Muslims shouldn't help police combat jihad terror and advocates sharia (Islamic law) for Britain. During a BBC "Newsnight" appearance this year, the host asked Mr. Choudary why he didn't simply move to a sharia state like Iran.
"Who says you own Britain, anyway?" Mr. Choudary replied. "Britain belongs to Allah. The whole world belongs to Allah ... If I go to the jungle, I'm not going to live like the animals, I'm going to propagate a superior way of life. Islam is a superior way of life."
There's no 'nice' way to deal with this: dialogue doesn't work when you're talking to a wild-eyed fanatic.

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THREE NEW TRANSLATED DOCUMENTS from the Iraq files would indicate that, as recently as January 2003 -that is, a couple of months before the war started- Saddam had an active program for developing chemical and biological weapons, including anthrax. All details at this link.

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FANTASTIC BLOG with great pictures by a US serviceman in Afghanistan.

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Somali Muslims who fail to perform daily prayers will be killed in accordance with Qur'anic law under a new edict issued by a leading cleric in the Islamic courts union that controls Mogadishu.

The requirement for Muslims to observe the five-times daily ritual under penalty of death was announced late on Wednesday and appears to confirm the hard-line nature of the increasingly powerful Sharia courts in the capital.

"He who does not perform prayers will be considered as infidel and Sharia law orders that that person be killed," said Sheikh Abdalla Ali, a founder and high-ranking official in the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia.

"Sharia law orders the killing of any Muslim person when he fails to perform prayers," he said in an address at the opening of a new Islamic court in Mogadishu's southern Gubta neighbourhood.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

CAN YOU BE a bigger hypocrite?
A French terrorism trial was thrown into turmoil on Wednesday by a report French agents secretly interviewed the six accused during their detention at a U.S. military camp on Cuba's Guantanamo Bay.

The Liberation daily published a French diplomatic telegram referring to intelligence agents conducting interviews at least twice while the men were held without charge on the Caribbean island.

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A REVEALING POINT by Christopher Hitchens in his latest Slate piece. It's a tangential observation and not the main point, but it quickly caught my eye:
I was amused to find, reading a history of the period recently, that Gen. Francisco Franco's Catholic fascist and Islamist Moroccan forces in Spain were blandly called "insurgents" by the New York Times.

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IF TED KENNEDY didn't exist, Republicans should invent one:
Just six months after quitting the all-male social club to which he belonged for 50 years, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is questioning one of President Bush's nominees to the federal bench about his membership in an all-male dining club.
Qué tío.

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I THINK WE SHOULD perhaps take the news that the Church of England is considering replacing Saint George with Saint Alban as its patron saint because the former is "too warlike and may offend Muslims" with a grain of salt or two; after all it comes from UK's sensationalistic tabloid Daily Mail, not as loony as the Sun or the Daily Mirror, but quite.

In any case, my concern is that this will give ideas to my fellow countrymen: Saint George is the patron saint of Catalonia (the region for which Barcelona is the capital), and in fact there's this century old tradition that on April 23 men buy roses to their girlfriends/wives, and women buy books to their boyfriends/husbands. Yes, a bit sexist, and in fact during the last decades it's basically becomse a book thing (both get them), though usually the man still buys a rose (or more) to the woman too. I mean, just try to skip the rose thing with your lady (even young urban professionals, feminists) and see if you can survive the next day...

Anyway, if it's one of these sunny days of early spring, it's extremely pleasant to walk around the city and see flowers and book stands all over town. But, if people here in PC-land hear about the CoE's plans, I'm afraid they'll move the tradition to November, or something... Rainy days, thick coats. Depressing.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS doesn't have in high regard those global attitude surveys, such as Pew's, that tell that everybody hates the US. He makes excellent points.

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REMEMBER Arthur Chrenkoff, the Australian blogger who did a fantastic job with his roundups of all these news from Iraq that went basically unnoticed over here because they were, well, good news? Because of his new job he had to stop blogging, but he kept writing: he has a novel out, Night Trains, a war thriller.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY, AMERICANS, from this side of the ocean. As a celebration here's the American anthem sung by the prettiest country singer ever, Faith Hill, during SuperBowl XXXIV, back in 2000.

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THE MYTH of the good savage:
Two billion war deaths would have occurred in the 20th century if modern societies suffered the same casualty rate as primitive peoples, according to anthropologist Lawrence H Keeley, who calculates that two-thirds of them were at war continuously, typically losing half of a percent of its population to war each year. [1]

This and other noteworthy prehistoric factoids can be found in Nicholas Wade's Before the Dawn, a survey of genetic, linguistic and archeological research on early man. [2] Primitive peoples, it appears, were nasty, brutish, and short, not at all the cuddly children of nature depicted by popular culture and post-colonial academic studies. The author writes on science for the New York Times and too often wades in where angels fear to tread. [3] A complete evaluation is beyond my capacity, but there is no gainsaying his representation of prehistoric violence.

That raises the question: Why, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, does popular culture portray primitives as peace-loving folk living in harmony with nature, as opposed to rapacious and brutal civilization?
Keep reading.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

At least 30 people have died in a metro train crash in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia, regional officials say.

A fire brigade spokesman said two carriages of the train had come off the rails in a tunnel at Jesus station.

"We are still identifying the dead, but according to an initial estimate there are more than 30," regional government spokesman Vicente Rambla said.

About a dozen other people were injured, some seriously, in one of Spain's worst accidents of its kind.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, but there were suggestions the train was travelling too fast.
There are several people wounded and in very serious conditions, the Spanish media is reporting, so I'm afraid the death toll may climb even more.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

ROBERT MAYER, the travelling blogger: he will be posting at Publius Pundit from a variety of locations (Honduras, the first one). He emails: "I have decided to try the path of Michael Totten sans the Middle East. I will be writing pieces from places like Honduras (one of the darkest corners in Latin America), Catalunya (which voted for large autonomy from Spain), The Netherlands (where the government has collapsed over the Ayaan Hirsi Ali affair), Switzerland (an overlooked and extremely interesting country), and the Czech Republic (home of the original velvet revolution that people talk so much about). Most of my reporting will be from Latin America and eventually Eastern Europe, someday moving on to other regions."

I'll be meeting him when he comes to Catalunya, and looking forward to it. Being in contact electronically is a good thing, but nothing beats a good face to face conversation in front of a cold beer, does it?

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