Tuesday, July 31, 2007


A POSITIVE VIEW of Iraq in the NY Times? Amazing but true. Yes, I know it's an opinion piece and not a news report or even an editorial like the one a few weeks ago calling for an immediate withdrawal genocide be damned. But the mere fact that it's there is a change in itself... Also, it's not written by a couple of Bush "poodles," exactly.

Monday, July 30, 2007

THIS IS what makes "Loony Ahmadinejad" so dangerous:
In Iran, president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is rapidly losing popularity and respect. It's feared that his only option is to somehow get the United States to attack Iran. This would instantly boost Ahmadinejad's popularity, and save his political career. For a while, anyway. Why is this happening?
Read the rest.

SO, PUNDITS -especially on this side of the Atlantic- were salivating because, with Poodle Blair gone, the new PM Gordon Brown was going to break up with the US on Iraq, the War on Terror, etc. It was a done thing, awaiting Brown's trip to the US; and it would leave Bad Bush even more isolated than he's now. Well, turns out it's a bit different from that:
GORDON Brown last night praised George Bush for leading the global war on terror — saying the world owed America a huge debt.

The Prime Minister vowed to take Winston Churchill’s lead and make Britain’s ties with America even stronger.

Of course, that won't keep those pundits from pontificating...

INGMAR BERGMAN has died. I know it sounds soooo European to say, but I enjoyed his movies. My favorites: Cries and Whispers and The Serpent's Egg. They both are magnificent films.

THE PROBLEM is not that there's some guys locked in Guantanamo. The problem is that they're released:
AT LEAST 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees have been killed or recaptured after taking up arms against allied forces following their release.

They have been discovered mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but not in Iraq, a US Defence Department spokesman told The Age yesterday.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

THREE INCONVIENT TRUTHS about Iraq right now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

TODAY'S READING, from Shannon Love @ Chicago Boyz:
I think an old parable explains why the professional subcultures of articulate intellectuals, such as academics in the humanities, artists and journalists, all experience such enormous pressures to conform to the same viewpoint.
It's from a while ago, but just saw it. Make sure you don't miss it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

IN THE AMERICAN media, Iraq's steady progress toward security is frequently overshadowed by news of the latest act of mass terrorism. Yet for those of us who actually live here, progress is visible to all but the most irreconcilable skeptics. Just this week, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the United Nations' special representative for Iraq, announced at a news conference in Baghdad that Iraq had achieved, or at least started to achieve, 75% of the benchmarks it set for itself in the U.N.-led International Compact with Iraq.
Read the rest.

THE SATIRICAL MAGAZINE El Jueves has published a retraction in the issue to hit the newsstands tomorrow (background here). What can I say but... heh:

"RETRACTION: this is the cover we really wanted to print"

THEY GROW UP SO FAST, DON'T THEY: I almost forgot, but today it's the third anniversary of Barcepundit's English edition. Nothing would have been worth it -even possible- without you, dear readers, and all the fellow bloggers who have been linking and supporting the site. To all of you, thanks. And now for the next three years!

Monday, July 23, 2007

YET ANOTHER sex scandal by UN peacekeeping troops, this time in the Ivory Coast.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

SHORT ON CASH, Iran is putting up the family jewel on sale.

UN TROOPS in Lebanon, 'protected' by Hezbollah?
A troubling consequence of this heightened threat to UNIFIL by radical jihadi groups is that some of the troop-contributing countries have begun turning to Hezbollah, hoping to enlist the cooperation of the Shia group in protecting their soldiers. UNIFIL contingents are not supposed to have any direct contact with Hezbollah – or any other Lebanese political groups – as their official channel of communication is through the Lebanese army.

"It's highly forbidden," said Major General Claudio Graziano, UNIFIL's commander. "I have a relationship with the [Lebanese] government through the Lebanese army. I have no relations with Hezbollah in terms of security."

Still, three months ago, intelligence agents from France, Italy and Spain met with Hezbollah representatives in Saida. As a result of that meeting, some Spanish UNIFIL patrols are now "escorted" by Hezbollah militants in cars. Following last month's bombing, Spanish UNIFIL officers met with local Hezbollah officials, according to a South Lebanon-based party official.

Friday, July 20, 2007

THIS IS THE STATE of free speech in Spain. A few weeks ago, Zapatero took a rabbit out of his hat. In pure banana-republic style, or like Evita in Argentina, he decided out of the blue, in the middle of the State of the Nation debate in Parliament, to announce that all couples who gave birth to a kid from zero hours that night would get a 2,500 euros allowance from the government. Some press reports said his own advisers, let alone the members of the cabinet, were as suprised as everyone. It was something he decided, magnanimous ruler, to give to the masses. Let them eat diapers, or something like that.

This week, the satirical magazine El Jueves decided to print a cartoon in its cover. It's certainly not the best taste: it shows prince Felipe and princess Letizia making love and talking about hitting the jackpot, if you get my point.

Today, a Madrid judge has just ordered the issue with the cartoon in the cover to be confiscated from the newsstands. A big controversy has erupted in both conservative and liberal media and blogs.

Of course, I couldn't help but publish the offending cartoon here, for the sake of free speech. I did it for the Mohammed cartoons, when the risk was to get your throat cut across, so you think I wouldn't do it this time?

The cartoon may be NSFW, so be advised. And certainly not highbrow. But unlike the Motoons -who were important as a symbol but as for the humor they were quite lame- this one may make you smile, at least. Judge for yourselves:

Headline: "It shows that elections are coming, ZP! [shorthand for Zapatero]"
Bigger: "2,500 euros per kid"

Prince Felipe: "See? If you get pregnant... this the gonna be the closest I've been to doing a real job in my whole life!"

UPDATE: I obviously got a part wrong in the translation; it's prince Felipe the only one who talks. Fixed.

UPDATE II. A few people are telling me that such a cover would also have legal problems in the US because the magazine is sold where the kids can see it, and that's true there. But there's is a very different approach to public nudity display in the US and Europe. Here in Spain there's plenty of nudity visible in the newsstands (no brown bags etc). The judge's order is not based on that, but merely in that the cartoon is slanderous towards the royal family. He's applying a section of the law forbidding to disseminate anything that slanders the king, the queen or the rest of the royal family. The irony is that the magazine has weekly sales of about 70,000, but now it's all over the world, seen by millions. Even conceding for the sake of the argument that the cartoon is indeed offensive, well, you can say that the judge has done a heck of a job: the confiscation order has unleashed a wave of reaction and is posted all across the internets now. With the goal of stemming the cartoon's visibility, he has multiplied it by a factor of who knows what.

UPDATE III. John at Iberian Notes has more, including some background on how El Jueves reacted to the Motoons controversy.

IF YOU TAKE YOUR CAR to go to a McDonalds drive-in restaurant, where do you think the real harm to the environment is?
2.2lb of beef is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions which have the same effect as the carbon dioxide released by an ordinary car travelling at 50 miles per hour for 155 miles, a journey lasting three hours. The amount of energy consumed would light a 100-watt bulb for 20 days.

Most of the greenhouse gas emissions are in the form of methane released from the animals' digestive systems, New Scientist magazine reported.

Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and his political spin doctors have been especially busy this summer. Indeed, they have been making furious rounds on the national television talk show circuit, trying to explain to an increasingly skeptical Spanish public just why the Socialist government’s “progressive” foreign policy of coddling third world despots has turned Spain into one of the most marginalized countries in the European Union.
Soeren Kern writes on Zapatero's government sucking up to Cuba. Not really surprising in the knee-jerk left -as opposed to the reflective, sensible left- who still has a romanticized view of Castro. And who loves anyone who opposes the US, be it Castro, Ahmadinejad, or others.

But they may be another factor in play too. Zapatero 'needed' Cuba to help him in his main project -failed now- for which he was probably expecting to get the Nobel Peace Prize soon: the negotiation with ETA. According to the Madrid daily El Mundo (link in Spanish), Cuba was acting as the messenger/conduit through which the negotiations were carried. So Cuba was helping Zapatero with the vital negotiation with ETA, and in turn Zapatero was helping Cuba to fend off the pressures from the international community regarding its human rights record. So everybody "wins."

Except regular Cubans and Spaniards.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

YES, I KNOW, I KNOW. It shouldn't, but this cracks me up.

SO AM I Hispanic, or not?

MYTHS AND REALITIES of the Bush presidency.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I WONDER how many sea bass offsets he had to purchase for this:
ONLY one week after Live Earth, Al Gore's green credentials slipped while hosting his daughter's wedding in Beverly Hills.

Gore and his guests at the weekend ceremony dined on Chilean sea bass - arguably one of the world's most threatened fish species.

Also known as Patagonian toothfish, the species is under pressure from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities in the Southern Ocean, jeopardising the sustainability of remaining stocks.

The species is currently managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources, the body which introduced a catch and trade documentation scheme as an attempt to tackle illegal poaching of this species.

Monday, July 16, 2007

AN AFRICAN WRITER tells the West, "Stop Trying To 'Save' Africa:"
Last fall, shortly after I returned from Nigeria, I was accosted by a perky blond college student whose blue eyes seemed to match the "African" beads around her wrists.

"Save Darfur!" she shouted from behind a table covered with pamphlets urging students to TAKE ACTION NOW! STOP GENOCIDE IN DARFUR!

My aversion to college kids jumping onto fashionable social causes nearly caused me to walk on, but her next shout stopped me.

"Don't you want to help us save Africa?" she yelled.

It seems that these days, wracked by guilt at the humanitarian crisis it has created in the Middle East, the West has turned to Africa for redemption. Idealistic college students, celebrities such as Bob Geldof and politicians such as Tony Blair have all made bringing light to the dark continent their mission. They fly in for internships and fact-finding missions or to pick out children to adopt in much the same way my friends and I in New York take the subway to the pound to adopt stray dogs.

This is the West's new image of itself: a sexy, politically active generation whose preferred means of spreading the word are magazine spreads with celebrities pictured in the foreground, forlorn Africans in the back. Never mind that the stars sent to bring succor to the natives often are, willingly, as emaciated as those they want to help.

Perhaps most interesting is the language used to describe the Africa being saved. For example, the Keep a Child Alive/" I am African" ad campaign features portraits of primarily white, Western celebrities with painted "tribal markings" on their faces above "I AM AFRICAN" in bold letters. Below, smaller print says, "help us stop the dying."

Such campaigns, however well intentioned, promote the stereotype of Africa as a black hole of disease and death. News reports constantly focus on the continent's corrupt leaders, warlords, "tribal" conflicts, child laborers, and women disfigured by abuse and genital mutilation. These descriptions run under headlines like "Can Bono Save Africa?" or "Will Brangelina Save Africa?" The relationship between the West and Africa is no longer based on openly racist beliefs, but such articles are reminiscent of reports from the heyday of European colonialism, when missionaries were sent to Africa to introduce us to education, Jesus Christ and "civilization."

There is no African, myself included, who does not appreciate the help of the wider world, but we do question whether aid is genuine or given in the spirit of affirming one's cultural superiority. My mood is dampened every time I attend a benefit whose host runs through a litany of African disasters before presenting a (usually) wealthy, white person, who often proceeds to list the things he or she has done for the poor, starving Africans. Every time a well-meaning college student speaks of villagers dancing because they were so grateful for her help, I cringe. Every time a Hollywood director shoots a film about Africa that features a Western protagonist, I shake my head -- because Africans, real people though we may be, are used as props in the West's fantasy of itself. And not only do such depictions tend to ignore the West's prominent role in creating many of the unfortunate situations on the continent, they also ignore the incredible work Africans have done and continue to do to fix those problems.
Read the rest.

Friday, July 13, 2007

DON'T MISS this great report from Lisa Goldman about her visit to Beirut one year after the war ended. The local media are hysterical about it...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

GLOBAL WARMING and solar radiation: go read what Bruce Merrifield has to say.

THE EU 'lost' €1.15 billion ($1.56bn) to 12,000 cases of fraud last year. But don't worry, criminal fraud was only involved in 2,050 cases and it was lump change: just half a billion dollars. The rest was pure incompetence.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Live Earth concert promoted by former Vice President Al Gore received plenty of media coverage and hype, but most Americans tuned out. Just 22% said they followed news stories about the concert Somewhat or Very Closely. Seventy-five percent (75%) did not follow coverage of the event.

By way of comparison, eight-in-ten voters routinely said they were following news coverage of the recent Senate debate over immigration. Fifty-four percent (54%) said they followed news coverage of the President’s decision to commute Scooter Libby’s sentence.

Skepticism about the participants may have been a factor in creating this low level of interest. Most Americans (52%) believe the performers take part in such events because it is good for their image. Only 24% say the celebrities really believe in the cause while another 24% are not sure. One rock star who apparently shared that view is Matt Bellamy of the band Muse. Earlier in the week, he jokingly referred to Live Earth as "private jets for climate change."

Monday, July 09, 2007

GOOD POINT: "'If you wanna save the planet, jump up and down!' urged Madonna. Can global warming be stopped by an out-of-breath, middle-aged, super-rich narcissist in a leotard and high heels?"

GENERAL ALI REZA ASGARI, former Iran's deputy defense minister who defected, keeps singing.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

CRACKS in Ahmadinejad's autocratic regime; a good summary of how things stand in Iran by Con Coughlin at the Daily Telegraph.

Friday, July 06, 2007


AL GORE's concerts tomorrow to save the planet will actually help knock it down: with so much flying to get the artists in place; equipment transportation, electricity for the locales, it turns out that they will emit as much CO2 as Afghanistan did in the full 2006...

THE STINK still coming from Chiraquian France: Demonique -oops, what was I thinking!- Dominique de Villepin's home was searched by police for one of those obscure affairs in French politics: the Clearstream affair and his alleged attempt to falsely involve Sarkozy in order to damage him, back when he was his rival to the Elysée. It's got all the typical ingredients: corruption, bullying, backstabbing. Nice.


Thursday, July 05, 2007


(Photo credit)

It's easy now, in a nation awash with complaints about what our Founders did not do, what imperfect humans they seem to 21st century eyes, to overlook how startlingly bold their views and actions were in their own day and are, in fact, even today. Who else in 1776 declared, let alone thought it a self-evident truth, that all men were created equal, entitled to inalienable rights, or to any rights at all? How few declare these views today or, glibly declaring them, really intend to treat their countrymen or others as equal, entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Certainly not America's 20th century enemies, the Nazis and communists; certainly not today's Islamic radicals, who consider infidels unworthy to live and the faithful bound by an ancient and brutal code of law. We are fortunate that the Founders of our nation were enlightened, generous, jealous of their rights and those of their countrymen, and prepared to risk everything to create a free republic.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The former French president François Mitterrand supported the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide despite clear warnings that mass killings of the Tutsi population were being orchestrated, according to declassified French documents.

The publication of the documents in today's Le Monde for the first time confirms long-held suspicions against France. The previously secret diplomatic telegrams and government memos also suggest the late French president was obsessed with the danger of "Anglo-Saxon" influence gripping Rwanda. In three months from April 1994, at least a million Rwandans - mainly Tutsis - were systematically slaughtered in killings engineered by the Hutu regime to exterminate its ethnic rivals and repel the Uganda-trained Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

The documents, obtained by lawyers for six Tutsi survivors who are bringing a case against France for "complicity with genocide'' at the Paris Army Tribunal, suggest the late President Mitterrand's support for the Hutus was informed by an obsession with maintaining a French foothold in the region. One of the lawyers, Antoine Compte, said France was aware of the potential danger of its support for the pre-genocide Rwandan government. "Massacres on an ethnic basis were going on and we have evidence that France knew this from at least January 1993. The French military executed the orders of French politicians. The motivation was an obsession with the idea of an Anglo-Saxon plot to oust France from the region."
But I won't hold my breath waiting for the European MSM to spend even a fraction of the attention they devoted to other declassified documents, the CIA 'family jewels'.


Read this too.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

IS CHINA'S ECONOMY about to implode?

Monday, July 02, 2007

YOU WOULDN'T KNOW judging from the MSM coverage, but civilian deaths in and around Baghdad are down by a whopping two thirds.