Friday, July 31, 2009

I'M NOT A FAN OF ANN COULTER, but this piece she wrote about healthcare is totally spot on.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

ETA HAS MURDERED TWO SPANISH POLICEMEN in Majorca. Yesterday the terrorist group attempted what could have been a big massacre. Those bastards want to mark their 50th anniversary by spilling still more blood.

And before I go let me write a message (not the first time) to the international news media: ETA is a terrorist group, not a "separatist" group. What characterizes it is not that they want independence from Spain, which is intellectually and politically legitimate; it's that they pursue it by murdering people. Would they call al-Qaeda "a religious group"?

UPDATE. TV channels are just now reporting that a 2nd bomb has been defused; it was under another police car near the one that killed the two officers in Majorca a few hours ago.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

CONFIRMED: Schumi's back.

Monday, July 27, 2009

WOMEN ARE GETTING MORE BEAUTIFUL EVERY DAY. It's not only an empirical observation! It's from a study by a researcher at the University of Helsinki.

THE REASON for the Incan empire success? Global warming, of course!

HEMINGWAY, failed KGB spy? According to a book, this is what secret intelligence archives from the Stalin era say.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I GUESS NYT's Erlanger won't get an invitation to the Elisée Palace anytime soon. What a smug, arrogant piece, full of innuendo and sense of superiority, about Sarkozy's changes in style.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

IF MAN walked on the Moon today:

Friday, July 24, 2009

IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY, but this blog turns 5 today!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

25 THINGS about to become extinct in America.

100 THINGS your kids may never know about.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BE CAREFUL with where you take your computer for repairs, and if you can afford it always opt for in-house service. This doesn't only happen in the UK.

Monday, July 20, 2009

GOOD OR BAD NEWS for House, M.D.?
Human Genome Sciences Inc. said its experimental drug Benlysta met the goals of a late-stage study in treating lupus, a notoriously hard-to-treat autoimmune disease that hasn't seen a new therapy in decades.
At least in the first two seasons, when I used to watch it, he always started saying "It's lupus!"

UPDATE. It's never lupus!

But then one day...

A GROUP OF ISRAELI SCIENTISTS claim to have found a cure for radiation. Huge news if true, but can't help wondering why they'll be publishing the findings in a newspaper instead of a scientific magazine.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

GREAT MOMENTS IN PUBLIC SPENDING: the US government has been charged $1,191,200 for a stimulus project consisting on 2 pounds of frozen ham sliced. Move over, pata negra!

UPDATE. The Department of Agriculture clarifies there's much more ham involved; 2 lbs are a reference to the packaging.

A MEMBER OF THE BASIJ admits in an interview that the pro-government militia routinely rapes young female prisoner before executing them:
In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a "wedding" ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard - essentially raped by her "husband."

"I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," he said.

Why the regret, if the marriages were "legal?"

"Because," he went on, "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.

"I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over," he said. "I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her."
After reading things like this it's difficult to find the words.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

THIS IDIOCY WON'T HELP MUCH to increase consumer confidence (or anyone's, for that matter):
Of all the statistics pouring into the White House every day, top economic adviser Larry Summers highlighted one Friday to make his case that the economic free-fall has ended.

The number of people searching for the term “economic depression” on Google is down to normal levels, Summers said.

Searches for the term were up four-fold when the recession deepened in the earlier part of the year, and the recent shift goes to show consumer confidence is higher, Summers told the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Via Don Surber, who has some fun at Summers' expense. Totally deserved.

Friday, July 17, 2009

DOOR HANDLE of the day.

An exhaustive, three-year search for some tapes that contained the original footage of the Apollo 11 moonwalk has concluded that they were probably destroyed during a period when NASA was erasing old magnetic tapes and reusing them to record satellite data.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A SPANISH COURT again drops charges against US soldiers in the Couso case:
A Spanish court has thrown out charges against three U.S. soldiers in the death of a Spanish journalist in Iraq and recommends the case be closed.

The National Court said Tuesday investigative magistrate Santiago Pedraz has produced no new evidence to indicate that the soldiers had acted incorrectly, given that they were in a war situation.
(Previously on this topic in Barcepundit, here)

IT'S STRANGELY heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time:
The emergency-room trauma call and the medical staff's immediate action upon his arrival is only a memory to her now; sitting quietly at the bedside of her brother-in-arms, she carefully takes his hand, thanking him for his service and promising she will not leave his side.

He is a critically injured combat casualty, and she is Army Sgt. Jennifer Watson of the Casualty Liaison Team here.

Although a somber scene, it is not an uncommon one for the Peru, Ind., native, who in addition to her primary duties throughout the last 14 months, has taken it upon herself to ensure no U.S. casualty passes away alone. Holding each of their hands, she sits with them until the end, no matter the day or the hour.
Don't miss a word of what follows.

GERALD WARNER is spot on:
Even in the pontificate of Benedict XVI, thanks to the lingering, though happily dwindling, legacy of the Second Vatican Catastrophe, there are still plenty of fellow travelling useful idiots wearing mitres. Recently the Bishop of Vitoria, in Spain’s Basque country, Miguel Asurmendi, conducted a religious service in his cathedral to commemorate 14 Basque priests allegedly executed by Franco’s forces during the Spanish Crusade of Liberation, 1936-39.

He could, of course, have celebrated a discreet and perfectly legitimate requiem in intercession for the souls of these men, but his words betrayed a different agenda: to support the systemic slander against his own Church being orchestrated by the Zapatero regime. “The silence with which officials of our Church surrounded the deaths of these priests is not justifiable, nor acceptable for much longer,” he claimed. “Such a long silence was not only a wrongful omission, but also a lack of truth and an act against justice and charity.”

So, 14 priests were executed for aiding and lending spiritual comfort to Basque separatists whose fanaticism for establishing a Basque nation (which never existed historically) led them to sustain the atheist Republic while it butchered their fellow clergy and Catholics in the rest of Spain. Bishop Asurmendi wants to commemorate dead priests? I’ll give him dead priests. The filthy obscenity that was the Second Republic slaughtered 13 martyred bishops (Spain had a more robust episcopate in those days), 4,184 diocesan clergy, 2,365 male members of religious orders and 283 nuns, sometimes accompanied by tortures and mutilations indecent to recount in the public prints.

This was the worst persecution of Catholicism in all history, exceeding that of Nero, Diocletian and the French and Russian Revolutions. It was accompanied by the murders of 66,000 lay Catholics and the destruction of thousands of churches, government-supplied petrol being used to burn them.
Keep reading.

I'M SORRY, GUYS, but I think this "Obama snubbed by the Russians who refuse to shake hand with him" is silly. Obama is clearly introducing the people in the line to Medvedev. Can't figure out how it's not obvious to anyone...

Monday, July 13, 2009

I THINK IT'S TOTALLY OBVIOUS: it was because the evil Bush didn't sign the Kyoto protocol!
A runaway spurt of global warming 55 million years ago turned Earth into a hothouse but how this happened remains worryingly unclear, scientists said on Monday.

Previous research into this period, called the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, estimates the planet's surface temperature blasted upwards by between five and nine degrees Celsius (nine and 16.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in just a few thousand years.

The Arctic Ocean warmed to 23 C (73 F), or about the temperature of a lukewarm bath.

UGLY MEN ARE MORE FERTILE and produce more sperm during sex, according to a study. Problem is, if a woman is likelier to get pregnant if she does it with a butt-ugly guy, it's also true that the baby has more chances of inheriting his traits...

THE ROAD to copyright piracy is reversible, writes Fred Wilson.

72 YEARS AGO TODAY, Gibson was awarded the first patent for an electric guitar pickup. And this, the most defining instrument of the 20th century was born.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Spanish Economy Secretary Jose Manuel Campa said on Friday he expects gross domestic product to return to quarter-on-quarter expansion in the first half of 2010, but analysts warn the worst is not over forone of the hardest-hit economies in the 16-nation euro zone.

"We will start to have quarterly growth in the first half," Campa said during a news conference, confirming an estimate given by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Most private economists are less optimistic.
Keep reading.

Friday, July 10, 2009

THE PEOPLE SUFFERING UNEMPLOYMENT the most in Spain are the underprivileged:
The fate of Spanish workers is a story of contrasts. Some have never had it so good; others have never had it so bad. Spain has the European Union’s highest unemployment and one of its less generous welfare systems. It has shed 1.2m jobs in a year. It will soon have as many jobless as Italy and France combined. Pay rises for some have led employers to cut the jobs of others. Two-thirds of workers have armour-clad permanent contracts. But the rest are on short-term deals. They are the people now on the dole.

This two-tier labour market divides workers into a privileged group cocooned from the reality of recession and the disadvantaged on temporary contracts, in unemployment or in illegal jobs. Employers do not invest in training short-term workers and are wary of hiring on permanent contracts. At any hint of a slowdown they shed the short-timers. “That the crisis has hit Spanish employment disproportionately is due to the catastrophic way the labour market works,” argues Luis Garicano of the London School of Economics.

Professor Garicano is one of a group of 100 economists who have called on the Socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, to set about labour-market reforms. The calls have fallen on deaf ears.
The end is just brutal:
A two-tier labour market provides flexibility, but on the back of an underclass of temporary workers. This might strike most socialists as unjust. But Mr Zapatero seems happy to keep it that way.
UPDATE. Don't miss the comments; also, make sure you read this at Time: The Broken Hopes of a Spanish Generation. Sure, some of the frustration comes from too high expectations after a long boom. There's also some behaviour similar to spoiled children, used to getting what they want without any effort. For example, it's true that lots of thirty-somethings still live with their parents, but that's because they completely rule out something that is usual in other countries: sharing an appartment with two or three more people. They can only think instead of moving to a place they can actually buy, and this is becoming harder and harder every day (and of course, if you earn, say, €1000 per month, it's much more fun to stay at your parents and getting the food on the table, the place cleaned by mom, etc, and spending most of those thousand euros in having fun going out, partying or travelling, buying clothes or a relatively nice car).

What I mean is that some young people in Spain don't totally realize that growing up has its tradeoffs; you need to choose. But that doesn't mean that, particularly because of the labor regulations, they're having a really hard time while they see middle aged incompetent guys totally glued to their jobs by virtue of their iron-clad contracts. As the Economist piece says in the first link, something needs to change but PM Zapatero won't hear anyone telling this: he's too afraid of the unions taking the streets.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

GORDON CHANG writes on the riots in China: "Ethnic conflict has exposed the Communist Party's vulnerabilities"

IF YOU EVER DOUBTED that "intelligence" doesn't necessarily equal "smartness":

Spain’s spymaster was forced to quit after becoming embroiled in a scandal over fishing and diving trips to exotic locations he was said to have made at taxpayers’ expense.

Alberto Saiz, director of National Intelligence Centre (CNI), stood down after he lost the confidence of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister.
Not just this: apparently he frequently used the agents as personal valets, making them do some handiwork at his home (it's believed he made a couple divers scrap off the mold underwater the swimming pool at his home).

Spain’s spymaster was forced to quit after becoming embroiled in a scandal over fishing and diving trips to exotic locations he was said to have made at taxpayers’ expense.
[...] Most damaging were photographs, published in the Spanish daily El Mundo, showing the spymaster hauling in a swordfish while on a fishing trip off Senegal.
[...] On one occasion, it said, Mr Saiz used a Falcon jet from the Spanish Air Force to travel from Madrid to Dakar in Senegal for a weekend fishing trip.
But that's not all: in the course of trying to defend himself, he did one of the dumbest phauxtography ever recorded: to deflect claims that he was on that fishing trip in Senegal, he produced an image in which he took the head of an agent with him, who also appeared in the picture, and put it in his body. Unbelievable, you say? Well take a look (he's the one holding the swordfish, and the agent he loaned the head from is dressed in beige, second from right; real image above, phauxtography below):

At least he didn't put the fish's head on himself, you got to give him that...

UPDATE. Welcome, Fark readers, make yourself at home; feel free to browse the main page, or to subscribe to our RSS feed; you can also follow me on Twitter (@jmguardia). come back soon, and tell your friends!

A drunken Briton celebrated an inheritance by trying to give it away to strangers at a Spanish airport, government-run news agency EFE reported on Wednesday.
A drunken (with power) man who wants to congratiate himself to the humanity by giving away for no reason the money he suddenly found on his lap. He's a politician, I'm sure!

WHITE HOUSE spellz Hobama's name vrong in the treati vith Rusia.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

GREAT MOMENTS in headline writing.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

TEN FASCINATING medical miracles.

GOT AN IPHONE? Then you have a hearing aid too, if you want.

DID THE TOPPLING OF SADDAM HUSSEIN lead to what's been happening in Iran these few last weeks? Christopher Hitchens thinks so:
Certainly when I interviewed Sayeed Khomeini in Qum some years ago, where he spoke openly about "the liberation of Iraq," he seemed to hope and believe that the example would spread. One swallow does not make a summer. But consider this: Many Iranians go as religious pilgrims to the holy sites of Najaf and Kerbala in southern Iraq. They have seen the way in which national and local elections have been held, more or less fairly and openly, with different Iraqi Shiite parties having to bid for votes (and with those parties aligned with Iran's regime doing less and less well). They have seen an often turbulent Iraqi Parliament holding genuine debates that are reported with reasonable fairness in the Iraqi media. Meanwhile, an Iranian mullah caste that classifies its own people as children who are mere wards of the state puts on a "let's pretend" election and even then tries to fix the outcome. Iranians by no means like to take their tune from Arabs—perhaps least of all from Iraqis—but watching something like the real thing next door may well have increased the appetite for the genuine article in Iran itself.

There are, no doubt, other determining factors as well.
Read the rest.

Monday, July 06, 2009

SPAIN GOES HALFWAY ON NUCLEAR POWER: a good piece in the Christian Science Monitor about the decision by Zapatero, which is really difficult to understand.

THE NEW CAMPAIGN by the International Society for Human Rights is just brilliant.

THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT admits 140 people were killed and at least 828 were injured in the clashes in the Xinjiang region in northwestern China. If that's the toll by the authorities, I'd wager my collection of chopsticks that the real figures are much, much higher.

So, United Nations, tell me: at what time today are you going to hold an emergency meeting of the Security Council? You were quite fast for the bloodless Honduran "coup", so I'm sure -cough, cough- you'll be fast here too. Also, Zapatero and Sarkozy, at what time today are you going to announce the recall of your countries' ambassadors in Beijing, as you did after the Zelaya ouster?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

TO ME, this sounds as very significant:
The most important group of religious leaders in Iran called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate on Saturday, an act of defiance against the country’s supreme leader and the most public sign of a major split in the country’s clerical establishment.
Skip to next paragraph

A statement by the group, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, represents a significant, if so far symbolic, setback for the government and especially the authority of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose word is supposed to be final. The government has tried to paint the opposition and its top presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, as criminals and traitors, a strategy that now becomes more difficult — if not impossible.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

IRAN AS YOU HAVE RARELY SEEN IT. Because it's more than just mullahs and fundamentalists...


Friday, July 03, 2009

VENEZUELA TAKES one more step into darkness:
The National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) announced on Friday that it will open punitive administrative proceedings to all the media that have broadcasted advertisements advocating private property. Conatel also issued a precautionary measure that prohibits radio and TV stations to broadcast such advertisements.

Diosdado Cabello, the Minister of Public Works and director of Conatel, said that the decision was due to the fact that the spots, which are produced by two different organizations: Asoesfuerzo and the Center for Dissemination of Economic Knowledge (Cedice) "make people think that there is a threat in this area." According to Minister Cabello, this would be misleading advertisement. Cabello added that the spots do not specify the way these threats would work.

Spain's unemployment dole is gradually decreasing but the country is not out of the woods just yet.

The number of people filing claims for unemployment benefits in Spain fell for the second straight month, dropping by 55,250 in June, according to government figures published on Thursday. The Labor Ministry said the decline left the total of jobless people at 3,564,889 and marked the first time since mid-2007 that the figure has gone down two months in a row.
Too bad that these figures wear more makeup than the late Michael Jackson.

First of all, if you look at the seasonal effect the number of people filing for unemployment is still up. By only 107, true, but they're still up.

Second, because that number doesn't include some groups that may not be officially asking for unemployment benefits but are not working either: people looking for their first job, unemployed workers attending government-paid courses for career development, etc. That's about five hundred thousand more.

And finally because, also in June, the number of workers affiliated to Social Security went down by a whopping 182.000. This means they're 182.000 who are not working anymore. The only thing that could reconcile this with the 55.000 people not filing for unemployment benefits in the same month would be if the labor force was shrinking, but it's not the case.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

IT'S TRUE, the whole "Iraq has WMDs" stuff was a gigantic lie. A hoax. A big load of crap. Yes, but not by Bush and his poodles, but by Saddam himself (note to fact-resistant people out there: the White House occupant, who ultimately gave the green light for this document release, is not Bushh anymore but Obama, a fierce war opponent):
EIGHTEEN months before he was hanged, Saddam Hussein told the FBI he allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about appearing weak to Iran, reports said yesterday.

According to declassified accounts of the FBI interviews released yesterday, the former Iraqi president said he felt so vulnerable to the perceived threat from "fanatic" leaders in Tehran that he would have been prepared to seek a "security agreement with the United States to protect (Iraq) from threats in the region".

The Washington Post reported that summaries of the FBI interviews underlined Saddam's fear of Iran. In the interviews, Saddam said he considered Tehran a greater threat than the US.

Iran and Iraq had fought an eight-year war in the 1980s, and Saddam was convinced Iran was trying to annex southern Iraq, which, like Iran, is largely Shia, the report said.

George Piro, the FBI agent who conducted the interviews, said: "Hussein viewed the other countries in the Middle East as weak and could not defend themselves or Iraq from an attack from Iran."

Former US president George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 after Saddam refused to comply with UN resolutions requiring UN weapons inspectors unfettered access to suspected WMDs production facilities.

"The threat from Iran was the major factor as to why he did not allow the return of UN inspectors," Mr Piro said.

"Hussein stated he was more concerned about Iran discovering Iraq's weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the repercussions of the United States for his refusal to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq."

[Updated] SOME COUP:
As military "coups" go, the one this weekend in Honduras was strangely, well, democratic. The military didn't oust President Manuel Zelaya on its own but instead followed an order of the Supreme Court. It also quickly turned power over to the president of the Honduran Congress, a man from the same party as Mr. Zelaya. The legislature and legal authorities all remain intact.

We mention these not so small details because they are being overlooked as the world, including the U.S. President, denounces tiny Honduras in a way that it never has, say, Iran.
Keep reading.

Honduras’s military acted under judicial orders in deposing President Manuel Zelaya, Supreme Court Justice Rosalinda Cruz said, rejecting the view of President Barack Obama and other leaders that he was toppled in a coup.

“The only thing the armed forces did was carry out an arrest order,” Cruz, 55, said in a telephone interview from the capital, Tegucigalpa. “There’s no doubt he was preparing his own coup by conspiring to shut down the congress and courts.”

JUST LIKE THEY DID on Iran. Oh, wait...
Spain and France are recalling their ambassadors from Honduras after President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a coup, the two countries' foreign ministries said Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

ZELAYA linked to drug traficcking?

The regime that ousted Manuel Zelaya in Honduras claimed Tuesday that the deposed president allowed tons of cocaine to be flown into the Central American country on its way to the United States.

"Every night, three or four Venezuelan-registered planes land without the permission of appropriate authorities and bring thousands of pounds ... and packages of money that are the fruit of drug trafficking," its foreign minister, Enrique Ortez, told CNN en Espanol.

"We have proof of all of this. Neighboring governments have it. The DEA has it," he added.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne in Washington said he could neither confirm nor deny a DEA investigation.

FAUSTA KEEPS DOING a great job following everything regarding the constitutional crisis in Honduras.