Tuesday, April 29, 2008

UN PEACEKEEPING TROOPS are so lucky. If they were Marines, everybody would be screaming off their lungs over this.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS on former GOP Senator Bob Smith: "He combines the body of an ox with the brains of a gnat. Indeed, if his brains were made of gunpowder and were to accidentally explode, the resulting bang would not even be enough to disarrange his hair."


Monday, April 28, 2008

OBAMA is a Mac, Hillary is a PC, says Noam Cohen. So what is McCain? Linux? OS/2?

BRUCE BAWER writes about the anatomy of a surrender: "Motivated by fear and multiculturalism, too many Westerners are acquiescing to creeping sharia."

HOW DALLAS won the Cold War. Seems a bit of a stretch, but it's a fun read.

NORTH KOREA readying for war?

THE BBC'S US correspondent writes:
Despite the fact there are more than 200 million guns in circulation, there is a certain tranquility and civility about American life.

[...] I have met incredulous British tourists who have been shocked to the core by the peacefulness of the place, the lack of the violent undercurrent so ubiquitous in British cities, even British market towns.

"It seems so nice here," they quaver.

[...] Ten or 20 years ago, it was a different story, but things have changed.

And this is Manhattan.

Wait till you get to London Texas, or Glasgow Montana, or Oxford Mississippi or Virgin Utah, for that matter, where every household is required by local ordinance to possess a gun.

Folks will have guns in all of these places and if you break into their homes they will probably kill you.

They will occasionally kill each other in anger or by mistake, but you never feel as unsafe as you can feel in south London.

It is a paradox. Along with the guns there is a tranquillity and civility about American life of which most British people can only dream.


What surprises the British tourists is that, in areas of the US that look and feel like suburban Britain, there is simply less crime and much less violent crime.

Doors are left unlocked, public telephones unbroken.

One reason - perhaps the overriding reason - is that there is no public drunkenness in polite America, simply none.

I have never seen a group of drunk young people in the entire six years I have lived here. I travel a lot and not always to the better parts of town.

It is an odd fact that a nation we associate - quite properly - with violence is also so serene, so unscarred by petty crime, so innocent of brawling.

This doesn't really shock Europeans who have spent some time in the US. It does shock those who pontificate from their keyboards after reading a thing or two on the Internet, telling Americans what they should do, without having ever set foot there, though.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

SO GLOBAL WARMING is coming, eh? Make it a new ice age instead. Some "scientific consensus," eh?

WHICH IS WORSE: global warming or the ozone hole?

Friday, April 25, 2008

THE MEN IN BLACK vanish, and Basra comes to life.

AL-QAEDA getting impopular with its natural constituency. Good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

THINGS CAN'T BE as bad as some say, considering this:
Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri criticised Muslims for failing to support Islamist insurgencies in Iraq and elsewhere in a new audiotape posted Tuesday on the Internet.

IRAQ continues towards reconciliation.

BEST COMMENT of yesterday's primary in Pennsylvania award goes to... Stephen Green, at Pajamas Media:
Think of Clinton as Punxsutawney Phil — If she comes out tonight and sees a ten-point margin, then get ready for six more weeks of campaigning.

THE TEN most annoying singers. I totally agree with the list with one exception: Celine Dion should have been No. 1. No question about it.

INJECTING some common sense in the "we gotta save the Earth" issue.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

IN IRAQ, After the bombs, the tomatos:
Three months after US forces dropped tonnes of bombs on Arab Jubur and put Al-Qaeda to flight, farmers are everywhere out in their fields tending their tomatoes.

Homes in the Sunni Arab rural patch about 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of Baghdad, meanwhile, are being rebuilt, schools reopened, roads repaired and irrigation pumps renewed, even as shopkeepers happily dust off their shelves.

"It's the first time in three years I am able to work in my lands," said Ammar Wadi, a 30-year-old vegetable farmer who also runs a small dairy herd.

His lands, on the banks of the Tigris, are thriving. Besides tomatoes, he also grows ochre and wheat, while some of his 30 acres is devoted to pastures.

TODAY I'll be basically here all day. Gonna be fun.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Commuters in London and its neighboring towns and villages in southern England woke up to an unusual smell Friday morning: a stink that led many to wonder if the city's sewers had overflowed.

Not even the queen was spared, as newspapers reported that Windsor Castle also suffered from the effects of the putrid smell.

The U.K. Meteorological Office (Met Office) was quick to assure callers that there was no reason to panic.

The foul smell was not English, Sarah Holland, a forecaster for the Met Office told the BBC. "The origins of the smell come from Europe," she said.

MEET ME at Jules': for the next few days, I'll be guestblogging, along with several notables, at Jules Crittenden's while he's on a short vacation. That doesn't mean I'll leave Barcepundit unattended, of course, so keep coming!

WHAT THE HELL is this?

A WEDDING in Mahmoud's family.

GOOD NEWS FOR NERDS: Men's masturbation is healthier than sexual intercourse...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I HAVEN'T HAD chance to link much to John at Iberian Notes lately, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't been reading him; he's as great as usual. Start at the top and scroll down.

KEEPING TRACK of the Olympic Torch carboon footprint --one leg at a time.

FOR THE FIRST TIME since mid-March, Hillary leads Obama nationally in a Gallup daily tracking poll.

McCLATCHY -rather than the Miami Herald- should be ashamed about this.

IS THE EARTH actually producing more oil?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Iran and the United States have been engaged in secret "back channel" discussions for the past five years on Iran's nuclear programme and the broader relationship between the two sworn enemies, The Independent can reveal.

One of the participants, former senior US diplomat Thomas Pickering, explained that a group of former American diplomats and experts had been meeting with Iranian academics and policy advisers "in a lot of different places, although not in the US or Iran".

"Some of the Iranians were connected to official institutions inside Iran," he said in a telephone interview from Washington. The group was organised by the UN Association of the USA, a pro-UN organisation. Its work was facilitated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a government-funded think-tank chaired by the former chief UN weapons inspector for Iraq, Rolf Ekeus.

While the nuclear issue was "prominent", Mr Pickering said, "we discussed what's going on domestically in both countries and wide-ranging issues" affecting the US-Iran relationship. Although none of the group members was from the US or Iranian governments, he said that "each side kept their officials informed". The Bush administration "did not discourage us," he added.

Monday, April 14, 2008

MY EYES, my eyes!

NO, HILLARY wasn't lying! Some Tuzla gunfire footage has been discovered...

HOPE FOR FALLUJAH: Michael Totten writes on how the surge brought order to "Iraq's meanest city."

TAKE THAT, Bill Gates...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

THE MOST ICONIC attack against the Olympic torch in Paris -you'll remember the pic of an alleged demonstrator attacking an athlete in her wheelchair- was carried by Chinese agents provocateurs, looking to discredit the Tibetan cause. Not that I'm suprised, of course.

THERE'S A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS in Gaza... because Hamas seizes half of the fuel transferred by Israel.

HOW DIFFERENTLY women and men shower. Funny:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

CUTTING RIBBONS is for girlie men! This is how Arnold "Terminator" Schwarzenegger opens a new freeway:

"The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."
Barack Obama on George Bush? Or was it Jack Murtha? Nancy Pelosi, perhaps? Could it be Michael Moore?

No, it's a Chicago Times' editorial. From 1863. Reacting to the Gettysburg address.

Another interesting tidbit:
The Times was founded in 1854, by James W. Sheahan, with the backing of Stephen Douglas. In 1861, after the paper was purchased by Wilbur F. Storey, the Times began espousing the Copperhead point of view in supporting Southern Democrats and denounced the policies of Abraham Lincoln. General Ambrose Burnside suppressed the paper in 1863 because of its hostility to the Union cause, but Lincoln lifted the ban when he received word of it.
There you go, another similarity between Abe and Bush: both crushing dissent and stifling free speech!

(via my Spanish pal Marzo, who IMed me both link, saying: "Oh, the wonders of wandering around in Wikipedia in a lazy Saturday afternoon!" Indeed...)

UPDATE. Eric Sheie catches the ball and gets a new game rolling: Name that President! "Which administration is most hostile in history to the Bill of Rights?" Click the link and keep playin'!

UODATE II. The Dissident Frogman emails: "Love the bit about 'intelligent foreigners', particularly considering what those "intelligent foreigners" had in store for the coming century at that point..." Hmmmm. Can't think of what he's referring to...

AND I THOUGHT that everything wrong in Iraq was the bad Yankees' fault. Must be because, well, I'm not an Iraqi:
After almost five years of war, many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.

In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.

“I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us,” said Sara, a high school student in Basra. “Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don’t deserve to be rulers.”

Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, said: “The religion men are liars. Young people don’t believe them. Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore.”

MICHAEL YON: "Let's 'Surge' Some More."
I may well have spent more time embedded with combat units in Iraq than any other journalist alive. I have seen this war – and our part in it – at its brutal worst. And I say the transformation over the last 14 months is little short of miraculous.

The change goes far beyond the statistical decline in casualties or incidents of violence. A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America. Iraqi special forces units took to the streets to track down terrorists who killed American soldiers. The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq, and many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers. Yes, young Iraqi boys know about "GoArmy.com."

As the outrages of Abu Ghraib faded in memory – and paled in comparison to al Qaeda's brutalities – and our soldiers under the Petraeus strategy got off their big bases and out of their tanks and deeper into the neighborhoods, American values began to win the war.
Keep reading; definitely today's must-read.

UPDATE. This is certainly related.

WHY BEAUTIFUL WOMEN marry ugly guys. Not that it's my problem, of course...

BILL CLINTON'S lavish retirement. On taxpayer's dime, of course:
The Clintons have made a $100-million fortune since leaving the White House, but a Politico analysis found that hasn’t kept Bill Clinton from taking full advantage of the publicly funded perks offered to ex-presidents.

In fact, his presidential retirement benefits cost taxpayers almost as much as those of the other two living ex-presidents combined.

The price tag for Clinton’s federal retirement allowance from 2001 through the end of this year will run $8 million, compared to $5.5 million for George H. W. Bush’s and $4 million for Jimmy Carter’s during the same period.

Since 2001, Clinton has received more of almost every benefit available to former presidents — from his pension to his staff’s salaries and benefits to supplies. His $420,000 phone bill and $3.2 million office rent tab both nearly surpassed the totals rung up for those purposes by Bush, Carter and the late former presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan combined. As a group, they spent $484,000 on telephone service and $3.8 million on rent in the same span.

SPY PHOTOS of secret launch site for Iran's long-range missiles. Iran, the country that is supposed to use centrifugues for peaceful purposes. But those missiles could reach Western Europe and, of course, Israel. And it's true that a real, actual atomic bomb would still be years ahead; it's not an easy thing to do. But what about a dirty bomb?

THEY SAY they want to tackle climate change, and I'm ready to accept that most do it out of genuine -yet misguided- concern. But the result is that those governments are starving people they are supposed to be helping, says Dominic Lawson.

UPDATE. Besides, there's no connection between climate change and the spreading of insect-borne diseases.

WOW, time flies. Been swamped and hadn't realized it had been... a month! since I hadn't updated this. Realized only after I got an email from the syndication company who wanted to know if everything was allright. Shame on me. I promise this will change soon. Very soon.

Meanwhile, read this superb report of the Olympic torch relay in San Fran, with tons of pictures, by none other than Zombie.