Monday, February 28, 2011

100 YEARS of history in a 2-minute film:

WEIRD HEADLINE OF THE DAY: "Elephant has sex with a car" Important note: there were two passengers inside.

PICTURE OF THE DAY: the Discovery approaching the International Space Station. Almost looks like science fiction come true...

UPDATE. On video.

LOUIS FARRAKHAN alerts? warns? threatens? that the uprisings will reach the U.S.:
“What you are looking at in Tunisia, in Egypt … Libya, in Bahrain … what you see happening there … you’d better prepare because it will be coming to your door,” Farrakhan said in a booming voice, thousands of followers cheering in his wake.
Does this sound like a mobster telling you that you should hire him for protection to avoid having "problems" in your restaurant, or what?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

ARAB COUNTRIES unfit for democracy?

WHY the U.S. economy is screwed, in just one chart.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

THE EIGHT craziest Gadaffi quotes ever. Amazing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

READING MICHAEL YON'S 'Iraq, Inside the Inferno 2005-2008' that he sent me, it's going to be in your bookstores soon (or you can pre-order at the link). I'm enjoying it a lot; will try to write about it as soon as I finish it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

OF COURSE! That's what happens when you drive gas-spewing SUVs and you build factories that throw all kinds of pollutants into the atmosphere:
“A change in our climate is taking place very surely. Both heat and cold are becoming moderate within the memory of even the middle-aged, and snows are less frequent and less deep.”
Oops, sorry, it was Thomas Jefferson who said this. In 1804.He drove a Hummer, right? Planeticidal humans!

Monday, February 21, 2011

PIMCO is now more bullish on Spain than just a short time ago:
Spanish bonds are “certainly getting better” as a potential investment, according to Andrew Bosomworth, a money manager at Pacific Investment Management Co.

“Real economic progress and healing is starting to take place” in Spain, Bosomworth said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “On the Move” with Francine Lacqua. Pimco manages the world’s largest bond fund.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

THE WORLD according to San Francisco. Heh. (via; click to enlarge)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

OF COURSE it wasn't George W. Bush, so there's no way Zapatero would stay firm: "The Spanish government bowed to pressure from ailing savings banks, known as cajas, on Friday by granting them an additional six months to list their equity."

DID SOCIAL NETWORKS KILL EMAIL? No, and for the reasons that James Joyner notes. I wholeheartedly agree.

WHY BAHRAIN BLEW UP and why, despite it's tiny size, it's crucial.

UPDATE. QED: "Shiites hold small protest in eastern province of Saudi Arabia, near Bahrain, demanding release of prisoners held without trial - Reuters"

VERY GOOD PIECE by Rick Moran about the paranoid style in some conservative quarters. Don't miss it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

THERE IS SUCH THING as a 'reverse placebo effect,' according to a study: a patient's belief that a drug will not work can significantly reduce its effects.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

GREAT MOMENTS IN DIPLOMACY: " Addressing the U.N. Security Council for the first time, Indian foreign minister S.M. Krishna made a memorable gaffe by accidentally reading the official statement of the Portuguese foreign minister for three minutes."

BLOGGER POWER: Spanish fashion powerhouse Inditex -owners of the Zara chain, among others-, busted by blogggers for using their designs unauthorized. First Ben Ali, then Mubarak, now this... who'll be next?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

IRONY DEFINED in just one image:

THE TOP SECRET Coca Cola formula finally uncovered -- including what the mysterious 7X ingredient is about?

PUTIN HAS apparently got himself a little bungalow near the Black Sea:
Set in 74 hectares of prime land near the Black Sea coast with its own vineyard, the palace is reported to be almost eight million square feet and has its own helipad. Other features include an indoor cinema, a summer amphitheatre, a casino, swimming pools, a gym and a clock tower. Sergei Kolesnikov, the businessman who claims the palace is Mr Putin's, has likened the structure to a palace built for Russia's Tsars outside St Petersburg. He said that the Russian prime minister had personally approved the design and materials.
Pictures at the link. Something doesn't seem quite right in the information, though. I believe the 74 hectares of land but... 8 million square feet for the building? Seems too much even for a Russian cleptocrat, no?

UPDATE. A reader writes to point out the error in The Telegraph's report: the 8 million square feet are precisely the 74 hectares of land, so it seems they confused it with the building size.  Exactly, and I should have noticed. Thanks!

Monday, February 14, 2011

CORRECTION OF THE DAY, at The Guardian, regarding the Palestine Papers. Be careful with the leaks, folks.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

HEH (click to enlarge): Cellphone: "What a strange-looking guy!"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

IF YOU READ just one piece on Egypt make sure it's this one by Paul Amar, professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. It's a few days old and was published before Mubarak flew, but it explains comprehensively all the many forces really at play.
Many international media commentators – and some academic and political analysts – are having a hard time understanding the complexity of forces driving and responding to these momentous events. This confusion is driven by the binary “good guys versus bad guys” lenses most use to view this uprising. Such perspectives obscure more than they illuminate. There are three prominent binary models out there and each one carries its own baggage:  (1) People versus Dictatorship: This perspective leads to liberal naïveté and confusion about the active role of military and elites in this uprising. (2) Seculars versus Islamists: This model leads to a 1980s-style call for “stability” and Islamophobic fears about the containment of the supposedly extremist “Arab street.” Or, (3) Old Guard versus Frustrated Youth: This lens imposes a 1960s-style romance on the protests but cannot begin to explain the structural and institutional dynamics driving the uprising, nor account for the key roles played by many 70-year-old Nasser-era figures.

To map out a more comprehensive view, it may be helpful to identify the moving parts within the military and police institutions of the security state and how clashes within and between these coercive institutions relate to shifting class hierarchies and capital formations. I will also weigh these factors in relation to the breadth of new non-religious social movements and the internationalist or humanitarian identity of certain figures emerging at the center of the new opposition coalition.
Don't miss the rest.

REMEMBER what people said when it was reported that fascist Bush wanted to do it? "The Obama administration's Justice Department has asserted that the FBI can obtain telephone records of international calls made from the U.S. without any formal legal process or court oversight, according to a document obtained by McClatchy."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

FOR THE "Imagine It Was Bush Instead of Obama" file:
The police are watching you.  If you're the wrong religion, they'll spy on your every move.  If you voice the wrong political opinions they'll be watching you.  According to Mike German, a 16-year veteran with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, this is happening right in the U.S.

Mr. German has become the FBI's worst nightmare.  Fed up with the abuses of privacy he was seeing, he complain to higher authorities and was promptly fired by the FBI.  Recently he became the ACLU's Policy Counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy [press release]. And he's speaking up about what he witnessed.

BEST. MINIATURE. EVER. A fully functioning airport:

FOR ANTI-GM FOOD ACTIVISTS: what happens with the DNA we eat? The answer is easy: nothing at all.

THE ECONOMIST on Spanish banks: "From heroes to zeros".

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

ACCORDING TO VANITY FAIR, the U.S. offered king Juan Carlos its troops in Europe to intervene and stop the attempted coup d'état on February 23, 1981. They feared that, of successful, the putsch would prevent Spain from joining NATO, which was a priority.

THIS YEAR you have to try going to the Oktoberfest, folks: "Beer Drinkers More Likely To Have Sex On A First Date".

Out: "You come here often?" In: "Bud or Coors?"

THAT'S FUNNY: ex-Formula 1 driver Riccardo Patrese takes his wife for a spin at the Jerez track. Look how cool he remains all along. She? Not so much...

NEWS ARCHIVES are bitches. Especially for the ecochondriacs, because it shows their fears and their heated rhetoric (pun intended) is as old as Larry King's original birth certificate.

UPDATE. What I said. Now it's giant sparrows, fictional islands, and cows falling off planes; all in the pages of the New York Times.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

JUST IN TIME FOR SAINT VALENTINE'S: "Are you still looking for a date for Valentine’s Day? Here’s some dating advice straight from the laboratory: It turns out there may be something to “playing hard to get.” A study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that a woman is more attracted to a man when she is uncertain about how much he likes her."

Bogart rules.

THE SAME Michael Moore who made a documentary about the greedy capitalists is now suing the Weinsteins for more Fahrenheit 9/11 profits. I'm sure the guy know how to spell 'hypocrisy'...

JULIAN ASSANGE: Bakunin with a MacBook.

THE REPORTS of the death of print books are greatly exaggerated.

A 'WHO'S WHO' of Egypt's regime and those who protest.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

THE ECONOMIST: Reforming Zapatero.
HAS Spain changed at last? The prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who is mistrusted by the bond markets and unpopular with Spaniards, would certainly like the world to think so. On February 2nd he signed a solemn “social pact” with unions and employers, covering pensions, collective bargaining and more. It was, Mr Zapatero declared, the most important such deal since the Moncloa pact of 33 years ago.

Under its terms Spaniards will, albeit with many exceptions, retire at 67 (instead of 65). Or at least they will do so in 2027, the year when the reform fully kicks in. That is far off, but Spaniards are set to be among the longest-working people in the European Union. First, however, they must find jobs. Unemployment at over 20% and rising is proof that Spain urgently needs a lot more change.
Keep reading.

GARY MOORE HAS DIED. His Parisienne Walkways always gave me goosebumps, but today it almost hurts physically. Another of the greatest has gone. Rest in peace.

COMMON SENSE from UK's prime minister David Cameron: why multiculturalism has failed.

BOTH the U.S. and the U.K. deny there was any agreement to tell Russia Britain's nuclear secrets to persuade them to sign the new START treaty, as a Wikileaks document said.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

AND THEY STILL WONDER why so many people see the EU as a joke? There was a robbery at gunpoint inside the European Parliament building yesterday. Still worse, it's the third time in two years.

ITS OWNER finds it funny, but this cat gives me the creeps:

Then again, this is probably worse...

THAT SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP had been sick for a while, but it's fair to day that it's now officially dead: "WikiLeaks cables: US agrees to tell Russia Britain's nuclear secrets. The US secretly agreed to give the Russians sensitive information on Britain’s nuclear deterrent to persuade them to sign a key treaty, The Daily Telegraph can disclose."

The cable in question is here.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

THE DOWNSIDE of celebrity-tweeting (in that case, you could also say "celebrity twitting"...)

THIS IS TOTALLY AWESOME: TV shows represented in miniatures. Make sure you see it.

EGYPT, not as Iran in 1979 but as Indonesia in the 90s?

THIS Volkswagen commercial is simply magnificent.

NO BRIGHT SIDE on Spanish jobs data:
In a world where every piece of economic data is open to different interpretations, Spanish unemployment numbers are refreshingly easy to analyze — they are just awful.
There's also a good explainer on why unemployment has skyrocketed much more than in other countries, and why the labor market is so dysfunctional. Read it all.

TIMOTHY GARTON-ASH: "If this is young Arabs' 1989, Europe must be ready with a bold response." So far the response has been quite the opposite, though.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

MUBARAK, you used to rock -- until almost a couple of days ago...

HOW CAIRO AND WASHINGTON were blindsided by the Egyptian revolution.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

I note considerable chatter among conservatives about the dangers of Muhammad ElBaradei. See, e.g., this post at Fox News by Anne Bayefesky. As my Wall Street Journal op-ed today should have indicated, I am hardly one to romanticize ElBaradei or to underestimate the difficulties of dealing with him. But what do his critics propose we do anyway?

[...] As I’ve argued repeatedly, if we had wanted to avoid this dire situation, we should have been putting real pressure on Mubarak to reform in years past. But many of those who now decry ElBaradei also resisted attempts to force Mubarak to liberalize, because they were devoted to the mantra of “stability” above all. We are now seeing how deceptive the Mubarak mirage actually was.