Friday, September 30, 2011

IS CHAVEZ REALLY SICK, or is it a ruse?

To me it's a bit difficult to believe that he's making the whole thing up and has nothing; maybe it's another illness and not cancer, but in any case he's clearly exploiting it for propaganda.



GOD'S ENGINEER: P.J. O'Rourke on Gaudí, at The Atlantic.


BULLSEYE! " US-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki - said by the US to be a senior figure in al Qaeda - has been killed in Yemen, the country's defence ministry has said."

UPDATE. More at the Washington Post:
A Yemeni security source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Aulaqi was killed in an air strike, possibly by an unmanned American drone. The Obama administration in recent months have escalated the use of drones to target al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen and Somalia. U.S. officials could not be reached for comment.

If true, Aulaqi’s death would be considered a significant victory in the U.S. war against global terrorism. Believed to be 39 or 40-years old, the New Mexico-born cleric has been implicated in several attacks on U.S. soil, including the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas; an attempt later that year to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner; and an attempt in 2010 to send parcel bombs on cargo plans bound for the United States.

In April 2010, the Obama administration authorized his targeted killing. U.S. officials alleged that he is a top leader in al-Qaeda’s Yemen wing, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

BUSTING THE MYTH that the U.S. military is basically full of poor and black recruits:
In 2008, using data provided by the Defense Department, the Heritage Foundation found that only 11% of enlisted military recruits in 2007 came from the poorest one-fifth, or quintile, of American neighborhoods (as of the 2000 Census), while 25% came from the wealthiest quintile. Heritage reported that "these trends are even more pronounced in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, in which 40% of enrollees come from the wealthiest neighborhoods, a number that has increased substantially over the past four years."

Indeed, the Heritage report showed that "low-income families are underrepresented in the military and high-income families are overrepresented. Individuals from the bottom household income quintile make up 20.0 percent of Americans who are age 18-24 years old but only 10.6 percent of the 2006 recruits and 10.7 percent of the 2007 recruits. Individuals in the top two quintiles make up 40.0 percent of the population, but 49.3 percent of the recruits in both years."

What about the charge that our Army is disproportionately black? This too is false, as is clear from data for fiscal 2010 available on the Army's website: Whereas blacks comprise 17% of Americans ages 18-39 with high school degrees, they represent only a slightly larger proportion of enlisted soldiers, at 21%.

Meanwhile, whites were significantly overrepresented among enlisted Army personnel in 2010. While 58% of Americans 18-39 years old are white, 64% of the Army's enlisted men and women are. Whites are underrepresented to a minor degree in only one category, in which blacks are overrepresented: Army officers. While 74% of 25-54 year-olds with bachelor's degrees are white, 72% of Army officers are white. While 8% of 25-54 year-olds with B.A.s are black, 13% of Army officers are.

Is it true that with a shaky economy, blacks have been driven to enlist in the Army in dramatically increased numbers? The 2010 numbers say otherwise. While 60% of 18-24 year-olds with a high school degree are white and 17% are black, 64% of new enlistees are white and 19% are black.

Monday, September 26, 2011

NOAM CHOMSKY says in this video that Obama is worse than Bush and Blair (unclear whether he means combined...)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

THROWING good money after bad:
European officials are working on a grand plan to restore confidence in the single currency area that would involve a massive bank recapitalisation, giving the bail-out fund several trillion euros of firepower, and a possible Greek default.

This week’s Economist/YouGov Poll is full of bad news for President Barack Obama. The frontrunners for the GOP nomination in the 2012 contest are pulling very close to him in head-to-head matchups, and his approval rating has been at or near the lowest levels of his Presidency for the last few weeks. And the worrisome economy keeps it there: this week just 36% approve of the way he is handing his job overall, the lowest rating ever in the two and a half years of his Presidency.

NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES EXPLAINED: there's nothing paranormal about them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

SPAIN'S SOCIALISTS scuttle the ship: "Zapatero’s party is in a mess of its own making."

GOOGLE a mobile carrier? Regardless of whether the image is real or doctored, it sure would make a lot of sense.

UPDATE. More here.

AT THE NEW YORK TIMES: Spain's banking mess. Accompanied by a few charts that don't look pretty.

HISTORY, through hairstyles:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

IMAGINE IT WAS BUSH DOING THIS: "The Obama administration is assembling a constellation of secret drone bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of a newly aggressive campaign to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said."

I'm sure you know that these drones carry missiles with which the US can kill suspected terrorists. So let me get this straight: closing up someone in Gitmo is an unspeakable act of cruelness, breaching the most basic human rights, but blowing up without trial someone suspected of being a terrorist is fine and dandy?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

SPAIN arrests Cuban for alleged links to al-Qaeda; (not so) strange bedfellows.

IS SPAIN the new Japan?
Somewhat lost in all the increasingly hyperbolic rhetoric about Greece is the state of Spain, everybody’s favourite “what-if” country when the idea of sovereign credit contagion raises its ugly head.

Turns out Spain’s credit immune system just might be as bad as everybody thinks it is. And if any lessons can be learned from Japan, it might be even worse.

“The Spanish economy starts in a position at least as bad as that facing Japan in 1990, but it does so without the policy autonomy that Japanese policymakers were able to count on,” Jamie Dannhauser, analyst with Lombard Street Research, said in a report comparing the two countries. “Even without the policy straightjacket, Spain would be facing a difficult future. With it, it has a good chance of following in Japan’s footsteps.”

WHY do the rich want tax increases?
Yesterday, the US President Obama announced a new debt plan built on taxes on rich. He called for $1.5 trillion in new taxes on upper income taxpayers. His plan would end Bush-era tax cuts for top earners and would limit their deductions. This proposal is following the public debate on the issue of high-income taxes, launched by the investor Warren Buffet few weeks ago. In the following paper, Toni Mascaró reminds us why this approach to taxes and deficits is wrong.
Make sure your read this.

Monday, September 19, 2011

WHEN you're right, you're right, even if you are Noam Chomsky:
When I’m driving, I sometimes turn on the radio and I find very often that what I’m listening to is a discussion of sports. These are telephone conversations. People call in and have long and intricate discussions, and it’s plain that quite a high degree of thought and analysis is going into that. People know a tremendous amount. They know all sorts of complicated details and enter into far-reaching discussion about whether the coach made the right decision yesterday and so on. These are ordinary people, not professionals, who are applying their intelligence and analytic skills in these areas and accumulating quite a lot of knowledge and, for all I know, understanding. On the other hand, when I hear people talk about, say, international affairs or domestic problems, it’s at a level of superficiality that’s beyond belief.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

OBAMA'S APPROVAL according to the latest Gallup tracking poll (click to enlarge):

WASHINGTON POST: Spain, of the worst countries to start a business.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

WILL the small countries break the Euro?

IT SEEMS they don't manufacture Chosen Ones as they used to: "President Barack Obama's disapproval rating has hit 50 percent for the first time since he took office, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll published late Friday."

Friday, September 16, 2011

PURE POPULISM that will reap just peanuts:
The Spanish government plans to reintroduce on Friday a wealth tax that it scrapped just three years ago as it scrambles for ways to reduce the budget deficit and avoid becoming the next victim in the European sovereign debt crisis. 
[...] The Spanish government removed the tax in April 2008, shortly after José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was re-elected as prime minister. Its reintroduction is likely to be the last legislative measure taken by the Socialist government before a general election on Nov. 20.
They're so behind in the polls that they need to energize their base no matter what.

UPDATE. Much better explained at the WSJ.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

THE 30 Most Useful, Interesting, And Surprising “Today I Learned” Threads On Reddit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

THE 25 PEOPLE at the heart of the financial meltdown.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

UGH: German Economy Minister: "Greek Default Can't Be Ruled Out"

2001 - 2011

(click to enlarge)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"I'M Comic Sans, Asshole": it's pure genius, don't miss this.

STOP THE PRESSES! Turns out that the New York Times is discovering that what Sarah Palin says does, well, make sense:

First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

It's things that people, both on the right and the left, would agree on openly if it wasn't because it's her who says it. Read the rest.

Friday, September 09, 2011

TWITTER AND FACEBOOK? That's so passé: "New social network connects people based on gastrointestinal bacteria". I sure don't want to read the DMs there...


AP fact-checks Obama's job speech. It's not pretty.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

THE ECONOMIST on cellphones and cancer:

In the real world, the only sources of ionising radiation are gamma rays, X-rays and extreme ultra-violet waves, at the far (ie, high-frequency) end of the electromagnetic spectrum—along with fission fragments and other particles from within an atom, plus cosmic rays from outer space. These are the sole sources energetic enough to knock electrons out of atoms—breaking chemical bonds and producing dangerous free radicals in the process. It is highly reactive free radicals that can damage a person’s DNA and cause mutation, radiation sickness, cancer and even death.

By contrast, at their much lower frequencies, radio waves do not pack anywhere near enough energy to produce free radicals. The “quanta” of energy (ie, photons) carried by radio waves in, say, the UHF band used by television, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cordless phones, mobile phones, microwave ovens, garage remotes and many other household devices have energy levels of a few millionths of an electron-volt. That is less than a millionth of the energy needed to cause ionisation.

ABOUT DAMN TIME: "Amazon Coming to Spain Next Week – Kindle Store to follow?"

YAHOO has fired its CEO (over the phone!) and apparently it's put itself up for sale. It's too bad how they've been so erratic during the last few years, they started so well...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

AND THIS while he was insulting anyone who would suggest there was such a risk as unpatriots, saying they wanted the country to fail:

Spain's Prime Minister told trade unions on August 17 the country was close to needing a bailout like Greece, Ireland and Portugal, union leader Ignacio Fernandez Toxo said during an interview with state television.

"He told us (the situation) was really bad, he said he had seen it on the edge of the abyss, in the form of a bailout for the Spanish economy," Toxo said in an interview posted on the website of state television's 24-hour news channel on Monday.

Monday, September 05, 2011

IS SOCIAL SECURITY a Ponzi scheme?

IF OBAMA has lost Maureen Dowd, he's lost middle America. Er, make that intellectual self-appointed elite America but, c'mon, don't spoil my paraphrasing...

THE WORST of the euro crisis is yet to come, writes Wolfgang Münchau in the Financial Times:

The downturn began this summer, and appears to have gained momentum. Bank lending to the private sector has fallen for two months. Broad money supply is well below the reference rate. A widely followed purchasing managers’ survey points towards a decline in manufacturing activity in August. For all we know, the eurozone may already be in a recession right now.

Read the rest, but be warned: it's not pretty.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

A TOURNIQUET is just an emergency measure, but it doesn't really cure an injury:

The ECB's purchases treat a symptom of the euro-zone crisis, not the cause. They can't address investors' concerns about the ability of governments to rein in budget deficits and start to bring debt burdens down. In fact, the ECB's purchases allow risk-averse investors to sell out of Italian and Spanish government bonds and buy safer debt such as German bunds.

A FALSE COMPARISON between terror deaths and bathtub deaths:

But Mueller's thesis fails to recognize is that a bathtub death is in most ways not equivalent in impact to a death caused by terrorists. The death of someone in a bathtub accident is obviously a terrible tragedy for that person's family and friends. But unlike a death caused by terrorism, a bathtub death has few, if any, political, economic, foreign policy, societal and constitutional ramifications. In other words, a spate of bathtub deaths might cause state and federal governments to seek stronger regulation of bathtub manufacturers, and the bathtub industry might be forced to design safety features whose cost might be passed on to the consumer. But that's about it. 

Read the rest.

MORE EXEMPLARY CONDUCT by United abomiNation's peacekeeping troops: a video shows them sexually assaulting an Haitian teen. At least it wasn't for food this time...

Friday, September 02, 2011

AND this is the guy who wants to pay more taxes? How about paying those he already owes? "Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owes $1 billion in back taxes."

UPDATE. A different, more nuanced perspective here.