Thursday, August 28, 2008

BAD NEWS for US' Democrats and Spain's Zapateros: "Confidence in War on Terror and Iraq at Highest Level Ever." You'd never know if you followed only the MSM, particularly in Spain...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's official: Barack Obama has received no bounce in voter support out of his selection of Sen. Joe Biden to be his vice presidential running mate.

Gallup Poll Daily tracking from Aug. 23-25, the first three-day period falling entirely after Obama's Saturday morning vice presidential announcement, shows 46% of national registered voters backing John McCain and 44% supporting Obama, not appreciably different from the previous week's standing for both candidates. This is the first time since Obama clinched the nomination in early June, though, that McCain has held any kind of advantage over Obama in Gallup Poll Daily tracking.

THE TRUTH ABOUT Russia in Georgia:
Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion.

Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn't start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.
Keep reading.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Georgian civilians captured and recently freed by Russian and South Ossetian forces on Saturday described beatings, forced labor and miserable living conditions in prison.

Georgian officials said that 79 Georgian civilians have been released over the past few days but that at least 75 civilians, almost all of them young men, remain in captivity in Tskhinvali, capital of the separatist territory of South Ossetia.

The former prisoners, half a dozen of whom were interviewed at a school serving as temporary housing in this industrial city, said they were seized from their homes or as they fled advancing Russian and South Ossetian forces. Some said they were held for as many as 12 days at a jail in Tskhinvali.

The detainees, many of them elderly fruit farmers from villages along Georgia's northern border, said male inmates were forced to clean streets and bury the war dead, and occasionally endured beatings that left them with bruises and welts. More than 100 men and women were packed into a cell with a single toilet, they said.
Well of course. That's what you deserve for being pro-Western!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

GOOD THING it's not Bush saying this, because we'd be hearing the cries of how agressive the militaristic cowboy is behaving: "Russia says its response to the further development of a U.S. missile shield in Poland will go beyond diplomacy."

WILL 2001's Georgia will be like 1956's Hungary? Thomas Sowell thinks so.

In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened a 5-point lead on Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race and is seen as a stronger manager of the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

McCain leads Obama among likely U.S. voters by 46 percent to 41 percent, wiping out Obama's solid 7-point advantage in July and taking his first lead in the monthly Reuters/Zogby poll.

Of course, being Reuters it simply can't help attributing the turnaround to "a month of attacks by McCain" -as if Obama was an angel who never attacked himself,- and underplaying the flip-flop factor while ignoring the gaffes, the empty-suitedness and the dangerous liaisons of the Senator.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

BRITISH ANTI-AMERICANISM is the product of pure and simple ignorance, as this poll shows. Just imagine what would the results would have been like in other, shall I say, less-,US friendly European countries, like France or Spain.

“The soldiers told us they had an order from Putin - leave or be killed.” Manana Dioshvili showed no emotion as she described how Russian troops forced her to flee her home. Her former neighbours nodded in agreement, huddled together in a kindergarten whose windows had been blown out by a Russian bomb.

“That's how they explained themselves to us,” she recalled of the moment they fled the ethnic Georgian village of Kurta, near the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali.

“They said, ‘Putin has given us an order that everyone must be either shot or forced to leave'. They told us we should ask the Americans for help now because they would kill us if we stayed.”

Vardo Babutidze, 79, was not lucky enough to be visited by Russian soldiers. Her husband Georgi, 85, was shot twice through the chest by an Ossetian paramilitary who came to their house to demand weapons.

“We didn't have any guns, so he shot Georgi in front of me without saying a word,” she said. “A neighbour helped me to bury him in our garden and then I just fled.”

Manana Galigashvili, 53, whose husband Andrei stared vacantly from a bed behind her, said that Ossetian soldiers had returned later and torched the house. They, too, had left after a soldier threatened to slit their throats.

Frightened refugees told similar stories all over the city of Gori yesterday as the Russian army extended its reach deep into Georgian territory despite a ceasefire agreement signed by President Medvedev that requires them to withdraw.
Where's Stop The War Coalition? Ah, true: they're all in Denver.

Monday, August 18, 2008

MUSHARRAF has just resigned:
Pakistan's president has resigned to avoid impeachment charges, he told the nation during a televised speech.

Musharraf under mounting pressure to resign in face of possible impeachment

But Pervez Musharraf insisted that accusations against him "won't stand".

The ruling coalition has prepared charges against Mr Musharraf, focusing on violation of the constitution and misconduct.

But the president rejected the charges saying: "Not a single charge in the impeachment can stand against me.

"No charge can be proved against me because I never did anything for myself, it was all for Pakistan."
UPDATE. Who will replace him?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

There have been few previous attempts to investigate the idea that people seem to find others more attractive when drunk. In 2003, psychologists at the University of Glasgow, UK, published a study in which they asked heterosexual students in campus bars and cafés whether they had been drinking, and then got them to rate photos of people for attractiveness. While the results supported the beer goggles theory, another explanation is that regular drinkers tend to have personality traits that mean they find people more attractive, whether or not they are under the influence of alcohol at the time.

To resolve the issue, a team of researchers led by Marcus Munafò at the University of Bristol in the UK conducted a controlled experiment.
Keep reading.

Friday, August 15, 2008

READING this I'm not surprised why the New York Times in the sad shape it is.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

RUSSIA'S sinister brilliance regarding Georgia: a must-read from Victor Davis Hanson.

THEY ARE NOT CALLED limousine liberals for nothing... Maybe they'll say that they'll emit less CO2 because more people fit into a limo than into a cab. Yeah, right.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WHY THE RUMORS of China's upcoming dominance and superpower status are greatly exaggerated:
Nikita Khrushchev said the Soviet Union would bury us, but these days, everybody seems to think that China is the one wielding the shovel. The People's Republic is on the march -- economically, militarily, even ideologically. Economists expect its GDP to surpass America's by 2025; its submarine fleet is reportedly growing five times faster than Washington's; even its capitalist authoritarianism is called a real alternative to the West's liberal democracy. China, the drumbeat goes, is poised to become the 800-pound gorilla of the international system, ready to dominate the 21st century the way the United States dominated the 20th.

Except that it's not.

Ever since I returned to the United States in 2004 from my last posting to China, as this newspaper's Beijing bureau chief, I've been struck by the breathless way we talk about that country. So often, our perceptions of the place have more to do with how we look at ourselves than with what's actually happening over there. Worried about the U.S. education system? China's becomes a model. Fretting about our military readiness? China's missiles pose a threat. Concerned about slipping U.S. global influence? China seems ready to take our place.

But is China really going to be another superpower? I doubt it.
Keep reading.

GOOD THING guns are virtually forbidden in Germany.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

THIS IS hilarious.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

ROBERT FISK is definitely nuts.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS when you get all the MSM with their pom-poms for Obama:
Barack Obama may be the fresh face in this year's presidential election, but nearly half say they're already tired of hearing about him, a poll says.

With Election Day still three months away, 48 percent said they're hearing too much about the Democratic candidate, according to a poll released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. Just 26 percent said the same about his Republican rival, John McCain.

It’s an old story. Loving parents provide a generous environment for their offspring. Kids are given not only ample food, clothing and shelter, but the emotional necessities as well: encouragement, discipline, self-reliance, the ability to work with others and on their own. And yet, in due course, the kids rebel. Some even say their parents never loved them, that they were unfair, indifferent, cruel. Often, such protests are sparked by parents’ refusal to be even more generous. I want a car, demands the child. Work for it, insist the parents. Why do you hate me? asks the ingrate.

Of course, being an old story doesn’t make it a universal one. But the dynamic is universally understood.

We’ve all witnessed the tendency to take a boon for granted. Being accustomed to a provision naturally leads the human heart to consider that provision an entitlement. Hence the not-infrequent lawsuits from prison inmates cruelly denied their rights to cable TV or apple brown betty for desert.

And so it goes, I think, with capitalism generally.

Capitalism is the greatest system ever created for alleviating general human misery, and yet it breeds ingratitude.

People ask, “Why is there poverty in the world?” It’s a silly question. Poverty is the default human condition. It is the factory preset of this mortal coil. As individuals and as a species, we are born naked and penniless, bereft of skills or possessions. Likewise, in his civilizational infancy man was poor, in every sense. He lived in ignorance, filth, hunger, and pain, and he died very young, either by violence or disease.

The interesting question isn’t “Why is there poverty?” It’s “Why is there wealth?” Or: “Why is there prosperity here but not there?”
Keep reading.

Monday, August 04, 2008

SEVERAL MONTHS LATER than he should, but at least he eventually did:
Spain's once-booming economy is in worse shape than expected and could slip to zero growth, the finance minister says.
That's after sternly denying until a couple of months ago, himself as well as Zapatero and other cabinet members and Socialist politicians, that there was any problem with the economy whatsoever. Not only denying, but accusing whoever said that the economy isn't going well of being... anti-patriots, no less (yes, the same guys who say that one of Bush's worst, almost Fascist traits, is that he warps around the flag to shield from criticism).

Of course, coming from someone who thinks that to be optimistic "is something more than a rational act, it is a moral requirement, an act of decency and, if I may say so, elegance" it could very well be that they knew about the problems but thought that by ignoring them they would simply go away (or at least they'd buy some time and win March's election). That, or they didn't have a clue even as the signs were clear.

In other words: they lied or they're incompetent. Which I'm not sure what's worst.

The worst thing is how they're trying to spin the news, which is almost
an insult to the intelligence of the populace. In the interview in El
País yesterday (you can read in full in Spanish here), the one that AP/CNN makes reference to, Solber had this
gem as an answer:
Q. And promising full employment during this term wasn't a bit of a chimera?

A. Well, it was possibly an extrapolation: if in four years we were able to increase the employment rate substantially, why not having the ambition of going further? I always saw that promise as an ambition rather than as a technical analysis.
Words fail.

UPDATE. There you go:
The number of registered jobless in Spain hit a 10-year high in July as consumer confidence fell to a record low, prompting Spain's economy minister to say he could not rule out a recession.

New jobless claims normally fall in Spain during July but this year rose 36,492 to a total 2.43 million, with nearly two of every three layoffs from Spain's construction sector where house-building has collapsed after a decade-long boom.

The rise in unemployment to its highest level since April 1998 sent Spanish consumer confidence to a record low 46.3, heralding a sharp fall in household spending in the next few months, Spain's official credit institute reported.

In less than a year, Spain has gone from creating around a third of all new euro zone jobs to having the European Union's second highest level of unemployment after Slovakia.