Monday, June 30, 2008

SORRY, I can't seem to be able to get excited about this: I don't like soccer. And it puts me off seeing so many expressions of cheap patriotism, with everyone carrying the flag, or their faces painted in red and yellow, and chanting on the streets as if the most important thing in the world had happened.

It's not that I'm anti-patriotism, or something. It's just that I make a mental excercise: if this had happened during Aznar's conservative administration, all the intelligentsia would be screaming off their lungs that Francoism is back etc. But now we're under a Socialist administration, with the championship broadcast on a pro-Socialist TV network, and suddenly it's so cool...

And what it is is a part of the anesthesiation of the populace: they're happy about soccer, so the bitter pill -economy tanking, unemployment rising, inflation up the roof- it's easier to swallow. Panem et circenses indeed.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

SOMETHING to cheer your Sunday:
Iran has moved ballistic missiles into launch positions, with Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant among the possible targets, defence sources said last week.

The movement of Shahab-3B missiles, which have an estimated range of more than 1,250 miles, followed a large-scale exercise earlier this month in which the Israeli air force flew en masse over the Mediterranean in an apparent rehearsal for a threatened attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Israel believes Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons.

The sources said Iran was preparing to retaliate for any onslaught by firing missiles at Dimona, where Israel’s own nuclear weapons are believed to be made.

Major-General Mohammad Jafari, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, told a Tehran daily: “This country [Israel] is completely within the range of the Islamic Republic’s missiles. Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime – despite all its abilities – cannot confront it.”

An editorial in a government newspaper, Jomhouri Eslami, said: “Our response will hit right at their temple.”

BarclaysCapital has advised clients to batten down the hatches for a worldwide financial storm, warning that the US Federal Reserve has allowed the inflation genie out of the bottle and let its credibility fall "below zero".

"We're in a nasty environment," said Tim Bond, the bank's chief equity strategist. "There is an inflation shock underway. This is going to be very negative for financial assets. We are going into tortoise mood and are retreating into our shell. Investors will do well if they can preserve their wealth."

Barclays Capital said in its closely-watched Global Outlook that US headline inflation would hit 5.5pc by August and the Fed will have to raise interest rates six times by the end of next year to prevent a wage-spiral. If it hesitates, the bond markets will take matters into their own hands. "This is the first test for central banks in 30 years and they have fluffed it. They have zero credibility, and the Fed is negative if that's possible. It has lost all credibility," said Mr Bond.

Friday, June 27, 2008

BILL GATES retires today. But...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ONE COUNTRY LESS in the Axis of Evil:
President Bush said Thursday he will lift key trade sanctions against North Korea and remove it from the U.S. terrorism blacklist, a remarkable turnaround in policy toward the communist regime he once branded as part of an "axis of evil."

The announcement came after North Korea handed over a long-awaited accounting of its nuclear work to Chinese officials on Thursday, fulfilling a key step in the denuclearization process.

TROUBLE for the euro:
Ordinary Germans have begun to reject euro bank notes with serial numbers from Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal, raising concerns that public support for monetary union may be waning in the eurozone's anchor country.

[...] People clearly suspect that southern notes may lose value in a crisis, or if the eurozone breaks apart. This is what happened in the US in the Jackson era of the 1840s when dollar notes from different regions traded at different values.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

¿RECORDÁIS la mega mansión de Al Gore, el héroe de la lucha contra el calentamiento global, en la que gastaba tanta energía en un mes como el americano medio en todo un año? Tras conocerse esta verdad incómoda, Gore se apresuró a hacer reformas e instalar paneles solares.

Pues parece que ahora consume todavía más que antes.

UPDATE. I put this post in Spanish here, instead of on the Spanish version... adding it now there.

AND I thought that the Iraq war had been planned by Bush and his Neocons (good name for a rock band, eh?) in order to pillage the country through their corporations etc. What do you know:
European and Asian companies are beating their American rivals into Iraq now that security has improved the investment climate, Iraq and U.S. officials say.

"It's starting to turn … and the people who are getting in on the ground floor are not American," said Paul Brinkley, the Pentagon official who is leading U.S. efforts to help Iraq rebuild its economy. "It's ironic."
You bet it is.

EVEN the New York Times -the new York Times!- can't but admit it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

"NICE MELONS"- funny video.

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS against free speech, when it comes to the al-Dura case.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


“Ten years ago I could never have imagined I’d be doing this,” says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. “I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.”

He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls “renewable petroleum”. After that, he grins, “it’s a brave new world”.

OBAMA the lightweight. His résumé is less than impressive, that's for sure.

UPDATE. And to make things worse, a racistxenophobe!
Two Muslim women at Barack Obama’s rally in Detroit on Monday were barred from sitting behind the podium by campaign volunteers seeking to prevent the women’s headscarves from appearing in photographs or on television with the candidate.
Just imagine it had been McCain instead. Just imagine.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern says substantial vote tallies across the country show the European Union Lisbon reform treaty has been rejected.

"EUROPE will miss George Bush when he's not around."

UH OH: "The presidential race may be topic A, B and C in Washington these days, but some people are just too busy to think about it — particularly, it seems, centrist Democrats from conservative districts, who aren’t exactly eager to align themselves with Sen. Barack Obama."

THE BEST quick analysis on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on Guantanamo, easy to read and understand, by James Taranto. Check it out.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

EVEN The Guardian, not precisely a neocon outlet, can't help but admit what everybody but Obama and Zapatero understand by now: that the Surge worked and al-Qaeda is on the ropes.

By the way, pay no attention to the headline; it has little to do with what the article itself is saying.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A TOAST for that!
Recent reports suggest that red wine is a potent force in increasing lifespan, and a new study offers still more good news for wine drinkers. A glass a day, whether white or red, may reduce the risk of developing the nation’s most common liver disorder, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

GOT 18: "18 alleged Islamic terrorists arrested in Spain, eight said to be members of Al Qaeda."

"STOP ME before it's too late, please!" You really can't make this stuff up:
Spain will open a telephone helpline for men who feel tempted to physically attack their wives or partners and need to "channel their aggression," the government said.

"We are talking about a telephone line for men, to help them resolve their doubts, because these days our men feel lost due to the beginning of the end of the patriarchal system," Equality Minister Bibiana Aido told Spanish television on Tuesday.

WHY THE U.S. ECONOMY is better than you think.

Monday, June 09, 2008

MEANWHILE, in Spain:
Gasoline at $4 a gallon? If only.

As prices across America hit an average $4 a gallon over the weekend, European motorists, truckers and economic planners wrestled with fuel costs around twice as high, blamed not only on the soaring price of oil but also high government taxes levied at the fuel pump.

That has made few people happy. In the latest show of distress, Spanish truckers Monday began a blockade of their country’s border with France, lining up their rigs in a crawling strike to protest the cost of diesel. In France, farmers on their tractors did the same, offering a foretaste of a planned national strike by truckers next Monday.
Spanish truckers have also started a indefinite national strike. I haven't watched the news yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were picket lines, as always. In fact, my newspaper morning delivery has yet to arrive as I write this, at 1:20pm (yes, I know it's a bit old-fashioned, but I can't help reading one print paper a day, to get the feeling of what's going on... ads included).
I called the subscription department and they said they did have pickets this morning.

And it's going to get worse by the day: gas pumps are going to go dry in a couple of days, and food in markets is likely to be scarce; everybody has been stocking extra groceries this weekend, but if it lasts for a while, it's gonna be... fun.

Anyway, those guys should be protesting at the Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, UAE embassies, and not create a mess for everybody, not turning the whole country upside down in the hope thatt he government gives them some subsidies. Why don't they raise their prices, as we all do when our costs raise? Yes, it would hurt the consumer eventually, since the increase would pass along the chain, but it would allow us to either clench our teeth and pony up, or change our habits. Neither of the two possibilities sounds as holding the whole country hostage, does it?

THIS AD is funny.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

CATCH 'EM if you can:
The Association of European Chambers of Commerce in Brussels warned that the transatlantic gap had widened yet further in the past five years by all key measures, despite the pledge by EU leaders at the 2000 Lisbon summit to transform Europe into the world's "most dynamic knowledge-based economy" by the end of the decade.

The EU-wide umbrella group, known as Eurochambres said the EU's overall employment rate was still stuck at levels attained by the United States in 1978, chiefly due to an incentive structure that discourages women from working and prompts early retirement by those in their fifties.

It found that the European Union's research and development levels were achieved by America as long ago as 1979, while the lag time on per capita income is 18 years.

"It will take the EU until 2072 to reach US levels of income per capita, and then only if the EU income growth exceeds that of the US by 0.5pc," the study said.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

LIFE in Basra, Iraq.

CHE'S children irked:
Two of Ernesto "Che" Guevara's children said Thursday they were tired of seeing their father's image used to sell everything from T-shirts to vodka, calling the growth of the revolutionary as a global super-brand "embarrassing."

Friday, June 06, 2008

MORE TORTURE in Guantánamo, the black hole of human rights, bla bla bla:
The confessed mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America said a courtroom artist at his arraignment Thursday made his nose look too big.
What a bunch of heartless, bloodthirsty killers. How could anyone do that to such a nice guy?

WE NEED more leaders like Vaclav Havel, writes Bruce Bawer.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A SUNSET. In Mars. Where you probably think I've been in all this time, but no: I'll be back very soon.

(via BB)