ZAPATERO IS IN VENEZUELA for an official visit and a kinda summit with Chavez, Uribe and Lula. Trouble for him is that Venezuela is also de home of Daniel Duquenal who blogs in English from there and is doing a great coverage of this groundbreaking moment in geopolitics. So far, he has one pre-game post, and another after the first day, but I assume there'll be more. Be sure you don't miss them.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
SO YOU MISSED ME? Back from this short hiatus, though the blogging pace will be initially slow since I have to get myself up to date, as well as taking care of my professional obligations.
Meanwhile, no better reading than Arthur Chrenkoff latest roundup of good news from Iraq. It's probably the longest so far, bu Arthur writes he's worried: "Mind you, the way we're going, pretty soon the MSM might finally put me out of business..." Not that he would complain if that would happen.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
DEAR READERS AND FRIENDS: I'm taking a sort of spring break for the rest of the week and next Monday, so I'll be back next Tuesday with renewed energies. I don't plan to post anything here unless there's anything exceptional (though there actually is something exceptional, but you can follow it all over the place at Publius Pundit among others). But I'll be reading my email at least to see if there's anything important, so feel free to send one.
Oh, and don't forget to come back next week!
I THINK THEY MANAGE perfectly well to do it by themselves:
Carlos Westendorp, Spain's ambassador to the United States, yesterday accused former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, the PP, and sympathetic media outlets of destabilizing relations between Spain and the US. Westendorp claimed that they "were questioning the quality and even the fundaments of relations between Spain and the US as a means of obtaining profits, political advantage, or both."And now get this:
He recommended that Aznar "follow the example of former American presidents," whom he "envies, because on questions of national interest they do not attack their country's administration."Well, maybe Westendorp, the Socialist party and its friendly media could begin to follow the example and treat former presidents with respect, as in the US, instead of accusing him of being a liar and the ultimate responsible of March 11 ("because he went to the Iraq war as Bush puppy" and so on.)
Talk to him, Westerndorp; maybe you can cut out a deal!
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
REMEMBER the Socialist party official I told you about, who had been befriending in prison one of the authors of the March 11 massacre? No, not this one (from whom we know more now) but a remarkable high level official.
Turns out he was also an agent of Spain's intelligence services:
Fernando Huarte, the Socialist Party leader who visited in prison a terrorist related with the March 11, 2004 bombings both before and after they occurred, had been working for the CNI, the Spanish secret service, since 1992, according to a report in yesterday's El Mundo. Huarte was "highly valued" for his knowledge of the Islamic world and several other European countries asked for his collaboration.
People's Party spokesman Gabriel Elorriaga announced that the news "means a qualitative leap regarding possible links between members of the PSOE and the cell that committed the March 11 attacks in Madrid. This is not a report with no context. Things are not at all clear and we need more information and more testimony before the investigating commission, whose closure we will not accept."
PP parliamentary spokesman Eduardo Zaplana demanded yesterday that the PSOE clarify whether or not it was Fernando Huarte who gave them "secret information" about the perpetrators of the bombings. Between March 11 and March 14, the day of the general election, the PSOE received information about the attacks before the interior ministry did, which permitted them to accuse the Aznar administration of lying when it originally blamed the bombings on ETA. Zaplana asked, "Did Huarte tell somebody in the PSOE, which bragged it had more information than the administration?"
Zaplana pointed out that Zapatero had said during his original testimony before the commission last November that he had been aware of everything during the crisis period after the bombings, and that therefore he must testify before the parliamentary commission in order to state whether he was privy to such information, and that he must also say whether he knew that Huarte was a CNI agent. Zaplana denied that the Aznar administration had known Huarte was a spy, and warned that if the Zapatero administration fails to tell the whole truth, "it would be one of the greatest possible irresponsibilities an administration could commit."
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
ZAPATERO ABANDONED not only the cause of Iraqi freedom, when Spanish troops were abruptly pulled off. He has also abandoned the cause of Western Sahara, Spain's former colony now occupied by one of Zapatero's buddies, Morocco. The right to self determination of Western Sahara (where refugees have built a fairly progressive society, much more socially developed than its neighbours) used to be a cause championed by the left until now.
Activists and organizations who have been defending the Western Sahara plea for years are complaining.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
ANOTHER ARREST, this time a Syrian man, for its connection with the March 11 terrorists attacks, with an odd detail (which I'll highlight in boldface):
Spanish police investigating the Madrid train bombings arrested a Syrian man on Friday on suspicion of recruiting and indoctrinating jihadists.Of course it's important to note that they guy joined Zapatero's party after the bomb attacks, but also after he had already been arrested for the first time shortly after March 11 (and released because evidence was inconclusive). Considering yesterday's post, it's odd, isn't it?
Mohannad Almallah Dabas and his brother Moutaz are accused of training young Islamist militants at their home in Madrid and sending them overseas, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Spain's ruling Socialists said they had expelled the detained man from the party. He joined a Madrid area branch of the Socialist Party 10 months ago but had been expelled in view of the serious accusations against him, the party said in a statement.
Of course, government-owned news agency, EFE, doesn't mention anything at all about the guy's party affiliation in its report.
By the way, there's a translation of another news report in a Spanish newspaper about the friendly activities of a Socialist party official and one of the main culprits of March 11 that I wrote about yesterday.
Friday, March 18, 2005
MADRID OFFICE TOWER fire update:
Murky figures seen inside the Windsor skyscraper in Madrid apparently as fire ravaged the building were actually reflections in the windows of the buildings overlooking, a report claims.Well, this is a little odd since, first of all, the firefighters are an interested party (wouldn't they try to cover up the embarrassment, or worse, for saying they had evacuated the building seveal hours before, and then discovering that several of their people were still in, doing who know what? see my theory of what may have happened). Second, because the forensic police has said that they are quite certain that the video is genuine (you can watch the video too). Third, because if the figures were reflections in the windows of the buildings overlooking, what happens with the burning debris raining down? They would distort the reflections, wouldn't they? Well, they don't; you can see it at the link I just mentioned.
The Madrid Fire Department report said there were no people inside the building as had originally been suspected, discounting suspicions of arson.
The report appears to suggest the fire which destroyed the landmark skyscraper in Madrid was started by accident, rather than deliberately.
[...] Another ‘broken door’ under the building had suggested arsonists could have broken into the building and started the blaze.
But then red-faced fire-fighters admitted it was they who had broken into the building using the door.
And lastly, what happens with the other videos and witness statements? Just consider a second video, showing lights being switched on inside the building; are they reflections from buildings overlooking too?
WHAT DID THEY KNOW, and when did they know it? Just when the Socialist party and its allies are voting for the end of the parliamentary commission investigating the March 11 terrorist attacks in Madrid, and for not taking any more evidence nor seeing any new witnesses, this piece of information is reverberating:
Fernando Huarte Santamaría, a leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) in the northern city of Gijón, Asturias, contacted Algerian terrorist Benesmail Abdelkrim in the Villabona prison in 2001. Huarte even got Abdelkrim a furlough to go to the dentist and paid his bill; the two last met in October 2004. A few days later, the police arrested Abdelkrim and found the address of a well-known ETA terrorist in his pocket.As expected, the Socialist party is stonewalling, and the PP is crying foul:
Abdelkrim served time with two other notorious prisoners, Spaniard Antonio Toro Castro and Moroccan Rafá Zouhier, two police informants accused in the March 11, 2004 bombings.
In April 1997 police first arrested Benesmail Adbelkrim, a member of the Armed Islamic Group (AIG), along with nine other terrorists including Allekema Lamari, one of the March 11 bombers who later committed suicide when surrounded by police in Leganés. Abdelkrim, considered Lamari's right-hand-man, spent four years in the Ocaña prison, where officials state that Abdelkrim and the ETA terrorists imprisoned there shared a strong comradeship; they say, "He was just like one of them."
In July 2001 Abdelkrim was transferred to Villabona, where he maintained good relations with the ETA terrorists serving time there. According to the newspaper El Mundo, Benesmail made friends with ETA member Juan María Igarataundi and ETA youth brigadist José Luis Camarero, who said about him, "He's a superserious guy. He's one of those guys who always carries a bomb whenever he goes out. He says we do some things wrong. According to him, you plant the bomb and don't call in a warning."
The Algerian terrorist was obsessed with news. He borrowed a TV from the ETA prisoners in order to watch the airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center on 9-11, and he discussed the press with the ETA prisoners. Officials said, "The newspaper Gara (pro-ETA) circulated through the cells. They called each other brothers." At this time Benesmail met Toro Castro and Zouhier, involved in the March 11 plot; Toro was looking for a buyer for the 150 kilos of dynamite he had possession of.
Álvaro Cuesta, Socialist spokesman on the March 11 parliamentary investigating commission, refused to call on Socialist (PSOE) leader Fernando Huarte to testify in order to explain his relationship with Benesmail Abdelkrim, number two in the ring that committed the March 11 bombings. The People's Party wants Huarte to testify about his Asturian mining business [...] The PP believes that there are connections between Álvaro Cuesta and Fernando Huarte, who visited Benesmail Abdelkrim several times in prison. PP spokesman Zaplana is to request data from the interior ministry on those connections and what Cuesta knows about Huarte's efforts in favor of jailed Islamist terrorists.
Despite the PP's requests, all the other parties want to close down the investigation and elaborate a series of conclusions. Although all the PP's efforts to bring new witnesses and documents before the commission have been rejected, the commission left a door open to "exceptional circumstances" which might provide new information. On Wednesday the PP, pointing to these revelations by Libertad Digital and the newspaper La Nueva España, demanded that the commission reopen in order to hear Fernando Huarte Santamaría's testimony.
Monday, March 14, 2005
JONATHAN, over at DemRealists, didn't like the Madrid conference either.
THE RISK is still there:
One year after the worst terrorist attack in Spanish history, the Spanish police continue to uncover and thwart new plots involving Islamic militants, according to senior Spanish intelligence and law enforcement officials.
Despite sweeping measures to improve their ability to investigate potential terrorism since the bomb attacks that killed 191 people on March 11, 2004, and one police officer in the aftermath, the officials estimate that there are hundreds of people scattered in cells around the country committed to attacking centers of power in Spain.
The police have found indications of a cell of Pakistanis they suspect was planning an attack on a high-profile target in Barcelona. The police also found evidence of a cell of North Africans in Madrid that apparently wanted to attack Madrid's high court, the officials said.
"We have been lucky that our investigations have managed to abort other plots before acts of terrorism took place," Juan Fernando López Aguilar, the justice minister, said in an interview. "That means the threats have not disappeared."
López Aguilar added that Spain had detained about 1,000 people suspected of being connected to the Madrid bombings and other potential terrorist activities in the past year. Most have been released.
Spain is still hunting for at least half a dozen suspects in the bombings, although they are probably outside the country.
"The great majority of the perpetrators are identified, dead or in prison," said a senior intelligence official at the Civil Guard, a police force with military and civilian functions. "But we cannot say that we have all of them. There are questions that remain unclear. The most important is: Who masterminded March 11?"
NEW ROUNDUP of good news from Iraq, by Arthur Chrenkoff. He notes that MSM reporting seems to be getting better. About time!
NEW ROUNDUP of good news from Iraq, by Arthur Chrenkoff. He notes that MSM reporting seems to be getting better. About time!
Saturday, March 12, 2005
IT SEEMS I'm not the only one who disliked the phony anti-terror summit in Madrid. Of course, other critics have, shall I say, a "slightly" different agenda than mine:
Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, vowed to defeat "infidels and apostates" in response to a Madrid conference on terrorism.
"We tell the infidels and apostates, the enemies of God: whatever you do, you will be defeated. God promised us victory," read the statement from the Organization of Al-Qaeda of Jihad in the Land of Two Rivers, in a statement published on the Internet.
The authenticity of the statement could not be verified.
"How many times will the infidels and apostates meet to fight against Islam and combat the Jihad... They have other worries than to fight the Muslims and mistreat them," it said.
Friday, March 11, 2005
HOW DOES the saying go? Oh, yes, "excusatio non petita, acusatio manifesta". Sometime it's difficult not to think of that, for example when reading this headline on the Moroccan press:
No evidence on Moroccan intelligence involvement in Madrid attacksAnd then
"The probe on March 11 attacks (in Madrid) has revealed no evidence of a possible involvement of the Moroccan intelligence services in the attacks,” stated a senior Spanish official, who claimed anonymity, reported MAP.The truth is that, as the Washington Post reports today,
[a]bout 75 people -- the majority of them Moroccan nationals -- have been arrested in connection with the attacks, and 23 remain in prison. But central questions of who organized them, and how, remain unanswered.And another truth is that relationships between Spain and Morocco have been always shaky: over Ceuta and Melilla, over Western Sahara, over illegal immigration, etc. But most specially so during the Aznar administration: in july 2002, the two countries even had a military kerfuffle over the Parsley isle, which was invaded by a handful of Moroccan soldiers, only to be expelled a few hours later by the Spanish army. So, objectively speaking, before March 11 there was a non-Morocco-friendly administration; after March 11 (or, rather, after the election 3 days after that), the new administration is so friendly that they even join military operations in Haiti together.
[...] The national daily El Mundo, which has broken several stories on the investigation, has reported extensively on an alleged connection involving elements of the Moroccan secret security services. The Moroccan government denies the allegation.
At the same time, Morocco saw that Spain was the US preferential ally on the Western part of the Mediterranean; now, with Zapatero almost radioactive in the international scene, despised by the Bush administration, the US quickly named Morocco as major non-Nato ally. Which means weapons and military support.
If we use the Cui Bono rule, it's scary.
EVERYBODY SEEMS to be writing about the fatwa against Osama bin Laden by Spanish Muslims, the day before the March 11 anniversary.
Hate to rain in their parade, but while it's true that the ruling body who issued the fatwa is the main one, it's hardly the only one in Spain. There are plenty of Islamic elements controlled by wahabbi extremists. Besides, hasn't anyone heard about the taqiyya, for chrissakes? I'm not implying that this is necessarily so in this case; in fact Mansur Escudero and his people have a public record of moderation. But we should wait a little before jumping up and down in joy upon hearing the news. Just in case.
UPDATE. Minor correction in the 2nd to last sentence; spotted via Slate (welcome, Slate readers!)
ANOTHER PRODUCT of the fine minds attending the pompous anti-terror conference held this week in Madrid:
Military strikes and draconian measures against terrorists may create even more terror, US-based academics warned at a summmit here as Spain prepared to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the deadly train bombings in the capital.How come you never hear these experts telling more or less the complementary thing to the bad guys? I mean, something like "Terrorists acts again innocents may create even more military strikes, academics warned to terrorist groups", or something like that.
ABRIL ALEGRE OSCAR
ACERO USHIÑA LILIANA GUILLERMINA
AGUADO ROJANO FLORENCIO
ALONSO RODRIGUEZ JUAN ALBERTO
ALVAREZ GONZALEZ MARIA JOSEFA
ANDRIANOV ANDRIYAN ASENOV
APARICIO SOMOLINOS MARIA NURIA
ARENAS BARROSO ALBERTO
ASTOCONDOR MASGO NEIL HEBE
AVILA JIMENEZ ANA ISABEL
BADAJOZ CANO MIGUEL ANGEL
BALLESTEROS IBARRA SUSANA
BARAHONA IMEDIO FRANCISCO JAVIER
BARAJAS DIAZ GONZALO
BEDOYA GLORIA INES
BEN SALAH IMDDAOUAN SANAE
BENITO SAMANIEGO RODOLFO
BRASERO MURGA FLORENCIO
BRYK ALINA MARIA
CABREJAS BURILLO MARIA PILAR
CABRERO PEREZ RODRIGO
CALVO GARCIA MILAGROS
CANO CAMPOS SONIA
CANO MARTINEZ ALICIA
CARRILLERO BAEZA JOSE MARIA
CARRION FRANCO ALVARO
CASAS TORRESANO FRANCISCO JAVIER
CASTILLO MUÑOZ CIPRIANO
CASTILLO SEVILLANO INMACULADA
CENTENERA MONTALVO SARA
CISNEROS VILLACIS OSWALDO MANUEL
CIUDAD REAL DIAZ MARIA EUGENIA
CONTRERAS SANCHEZ MARIA SOLEDAD
CRIADO PLEITER MARÍA PAZ
DE BENITO CABOBLANCO ESTEBAN MARTIN
DE LAS HERAS CORREA SERGIO
DE LUNA OCAÑA MIGUEL
DE MIGUEL JIMENEZ ALVARO
DEL AMO AGUADO JUAN CARLOS
DEL RIO MENENDEZ MARTA
DEL RIO MENENDEZ NURIA
DIEZ HERNANDEZ BEATRIZ
DIMA GEORGETA GABRIELA
DIMITROVA PAUNOVA TINKA
DIMITROVA VASILEVA KALINA
DOS SANTOS SILVA SERGIO
DURAN SANTIAGO MARIA DOLORES
EL AMRATI OSAMA
ENCINAS SORIANO SARA
FERNANDEZ AVILA CARLOS MARINO
FERNANDEZ DEL AMO MARIA
FERRER REYMADO REX
FIGUEROA BRAVO HECTOR MANUEL
FRUTOS ROSIQUE JULIA
FUENTES FERNANDEZ Mª DOLORES
GALLARDO OLMO JOSE
GALLEGO TRIGUERO JOSE RAUL
GAMIZ TORRES MARIA PILAR
GARCIA ALFAGEME ABEL
GARCIA ARNAIZ JUAN LUIS
GARCIA FERNANDEZ BEATRIZ
GARCIA GARCIA-MONIÑO MARIA DE LAS NIEVES
GARCIA GONZALEZ ENRIQUE
GARCIA MARTINEZ CRISTINA AURELIA
GARCIA PRESA CARLOS ALBERTO
GARCIA SANCHEZ JOSE
GARROTE PLAZA JAVIER
GIL PEREZ (Y FETO) ANA ISABEL
GOMEZ GUDIÑA OSCAR
GONZALEZ GAGO FELIX
GONZALEZ GARCIA ANGELICA
GONZALEZ GRANDE TERESA
GONZALEZ PEREZ MARÍA DEL CARMEN
GONZALEZ ROQUE ELIAS
GRACIA GARCIA JUAN MIGUEL
GUTIERREZ GARCIA BERTA MARIA
HERMIDA MARTIN PEDRO
IGLESIAS LOPEZ ALEJANDRA
IZQUIERDO ASANZA PABLO
JARO NARRILLOS Mª TERESA
LAFORGA BAJON LAURA ISABEL
LEON MOYANO MARIA VICTORIA
LOMINCHAR ALONSO MARIA DEL CARMEN
LOPEZ DIAZ MIRIAM
LOPEZ PARDO Mª DEL CARMEN
LOPEZ RAMOS Mª CRISTINA
LOPEZ-MENCHERO MORAGA JOSE MARIA
MACÍAS RODRÍGUEZ MARÍA JESÚS
MANCEBO ZAFORAS FCO JAVIER
MANZANO PEREZ ANGEL
MARIN CHIVA VICENTE
MARÍN MORA ANTONIO
MARTÍN BAEZA BEGOÑA
MARTIN FERNANDEZ ANA
MARTIN PACHECO LUIS ANDRES
MARTIN REJAS MARIA PILAR
MARTINEZ RODRIGUEZ CARMEN MONICA
MELGUIZO MARTINEZ MIRIAN
MENGIBAR JIMENEZ JAVIER
MICHELL RODRIGUEZ MICHAEL
MOPOCITA MOPOCITA SEGUNDO VICTOR
MORA DONOSO ENCARNACION
MORA VALERO Mª TERESA
MORAL GARCIA JULIA
MORENO ARAGONES FRANCISCO
MORENO ISARCH JOSE RAMON
MORENO SANTIAGO EUGENIO
MORIS CRESPO JUAN PABLO
MUÑOZ LARA JUAN
NARVAEZ DE LA ROSA FRANCISCO JOSE
NOGALES GUERRERO ISMAEL
NOVELLON MARTINEZ INES
ORGAZ ORGAZ MIGUEL ANGEL
PARDILLOS CHECA ANGEL
PASTOR PEREZ JUAN FRANCISCO
PAZ MANJON DANIEL
PEDRAZA PINO JOSEFA
PEDRAZA RIVERO MIRIAN
PELLICARI LOPEZOSA ROBERTO
PEREZ MATEO Mª PILAR
PINEL ALONSO FELIPE
PLASENCIA HERNANDEZ MARTHA SCARLETT
POLO REMARTINEZ MARIA LUISA
PRIETO HUMANES MIGUEL ANGEL
QUESADA BUENO FRANCISCO ANTONIO
RAMIREZ BEDOYA JOHN JAIRO
RAMOS LOZANO LAURA
REYES MATEO MIGUEL
RODRIGUEZ CASANOVA JORGE
RODRIGUEZ CASTELL LUIS
RODRIGUEZ DE LA TORRE Mª SOLEDAD
RODRIGUEZ RODRIGUEZ ANGEL LUIS
RODRIGUEZ SANCHEZ FRANCISCO JAVIER
ROGADO ESCRIBANO AMBROSIO
ROMERO SANCHEZ CRISTINA
SABALETE SANCHEZ ANTONIO
SANCHEZ LOPEZ SERGIO
SANCHEZ MAMAJON MARÍA ISABEL
SANCHEZ QUISPE JUAN ANTONIO
SANCHEZ-DEHESA FRANCES BALBINA
SANTAMARIA GARCIA DAVID
SANZ MORALES JUAN CARLOS
SANZ PEREZ EDUARDO
SENENT PALLAROLA GUILLERMO
SERRANO LASTRA MIGUEL ANTONIO
SERRANO LOPEZ RAFAEL
SFEATLU PAULA MIHAELA
SIERRA SERON FEDERICO MIGUEL
SIMON GONZALEZ DOMNINO
SOLER INIESTA MARIA SUSANA
SOTO ARRANZ CARLOS
STAYKOVA MARIA IVANOVA
SUBERVIELLE MARION CINTIA
SUCIU ANLEXANDRU HORACIU
SZPILA DANUTA TERESA
TENESACA BETANCOURT JOSE LUIS
TORIBIO PASCUAL IRIS
TORRES MENDOZA NEIL FERNANDO
TORTOSA GARCIA CARLOS
UTRILLA ESCRIBANO JESUS
VALDERRAMA LOPEZ JOSE MIGEL
VALDES RUIZ SAUL
VEGA MINGO MERCEDES
VILELA FERNANDEZ DAVID
ZAMORA GUTIERREZ JUAN RAMON
Thursday, March 10, 2005
IT HAS TAKEN ONE YEAR, but it's started to dawn on many Spaniards:
In the year since 10 dynamite-filled backpacks exploded on Madrid commuter trains, Spaniards have shifted some blame away from the Iraq war and onto themselves.I mentioned Reinares in a previous post; by the way, he's not exactly Spain's anti-terror chief (as the international media usually describe him) but an adviser on terrorism to Spain's interior minister.
Immediately after the March 11 massacre, most Spaniards saw the attack as al-Qaida's revenge for sending Spanish troops to Iraq. Today there's a realization al-Qaida's footprint in Spain is much older and deeper: the country had long been a haven or transit point for Islamic militants.
The government's counterterrorism chief, Fernando Reinares, said he believes a few hundred Muslims indoctrinated in radical Islam remain in Spain and at risk of being recruited for terrorism. Madrid bombers had plotted to follow up the massacre with suicide bombings, suggesting their goal went beyond punishing the pro-U.S. government then in power, he said.
Since the train attack, authorities have uncovered other plots in Spain, including one to destroy a courthouse that's the hub of investigations into Islamic terrorism cases.
"Spain is safer now, but the threat level has not gone down for Spain or the European Union in general," Reinares told The Associated Press.
Officials now believe the main motive for the train bombings that killed 191 people was not so much Iraq as Spain's arrest of dozens of al-Qaida suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, including three charged with helping prepare them, Reinares said.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
LEE SMITH is doing this week's Slate's travel dispatches. One each day about a country that couldn't be more newsworthy at the moment: Lebanon. Lee not only knows the place, but he also has a deep understanding of the underlying political and social aspects, so make sure you read the whole series.
I TOLD YOU how the Madrid "anti-terror conference" would turn out with people like George Soros as one of its prominent participants.
Well, it's going to be like this one speaker after another.
GEE, I DIDN'T KNOW that 'British' is a race:
WITH its sun, sea and sangria, life on the Costa del Sol continues to attract thousands of Brits to move to Spain in search of a better way of life. But new research casts more than a cloud over what many assume to be an idyllic existence.So 'children' is another race, it seems. Wow, double racism!
According to a Scottish social researcher, increasing tensions between Spaniards and expat Britons, seeking a new life in the sun on the Costas, have led to their children being the victims of racist taunts and attacks.
Dr O’Reilly, speaking from Malaga, told The Scotsman: "All the children I spoke to in the International School had either experienced racism or they knew someone who had.
"They were being taunted in the street and called foreigners. Children were waiting for them on the street corners. And even the Spanish children at the school told me that if you hung around with British children you might get into trouble.
"There are some children who have been assaulted. But at the moment it is more about bullying and niggling between the children, rather than anything to do with adults."
It looks like pretty normal chidren behaviour to me and, if it isn't, should be investigated and stopped. But rasing the "R" card seems overblown to me. I know, I know, no newspaper would cover one more study on children's sometimes slightly cruel but nevertherless usual behaviour, so if you want to see your name in print, you better think something to maka it 'newsworthy'. But still...
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
ON THE WEEK of the anniversary of the March 11 bombings, a so-called international conference on terrorism starts today in Madrid. A root-cause, military-is-not-the-solution fest and little more. Just see the kind of event it is:
Spanish participants said last week that governments must address the causes of terrorism to defeat it, rather than lashing out as the United States did in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
The United States attacked Afghanistan in late 2001 because the Taliban regime was sheltering Osama bin Laden, whose al-Qaida network carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.
"The consensus ... is a 'soft' power approach based on prevention not like the United States has in mind, but (rather) with engagement with North African Muslim nations, economic development, assimilating and integrating immigrants into host nations," said Charles Powell, a history professor at San Pablo-CEU University in Madrid.
Discussions Tuesday and Wednesday will focus on political, economic, religious and cultural explanations of terrorism, and appropriate police, intelligence and military responses.
The Arab-Israeli conflict will be a key topic, along with democracy-building in parts of the world with authoritarian regimes.
"I believe (the conference) is going to support the European style and not put force first; rather, only as the last resort," said Andres Ortega, director of the Spanish edition of Foreign Policy magazine.
Lots of people were invited, but there's been a lot of people changing plans lately: among political figures, none of the big Western countries will attend (not even the other two amigos):
Among those scheduled to attend are Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, as well as the head of Russia's National Security Council, Igor Ivanov, and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and former President Bill Clinton may also attend, said a conference spokesman, Andrew Hazell.Andrew Hazell is outdated because even Clinton has cancelled. At least Kofi Annan will be there, Andrew!
Looking at the list of other attendees you can see some interesting people (Bernard Koucher), but at the same time some "usual suspects" (George Soros). At the same time, a Spanish online newspaper reports (link in Spanish) that people like MEMRI'S Yigal Carmon, David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes and Bat Ye'or were initially invited, but then started receiving messages from the organizers telling them what were the acceptable terms in their speeches (don't use "Islamic terrorism" but "international terrorism), or telliing them that they wouldn't cover the expenses. Or in the case of Bat Ye'or, telling them that they couldn't provide any protection, a specially outrageous thing considering the Egyptian writer is under constant death threats for her views. Naturally, they cancelled.
Of course you'll notice how the four share one thing: neither of them buy the politically correct, leftist approach to terrorism, nor the angelic (or naif, if you will) vision of PM Zapatero and the need for an Alliance of Civilizations.
UPDATE. Minor editing of an error spotted via Irene Adler.
Monday, March 07, 2005
ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has another great roundup of good news from Afghanistan. Read it all.
Friday, March 04, 2005
MADRID OFFICE TOWER FIRE UPDATE:
Spanish police investigating the possible arson of the 28-story Windsor office building in Madrid say a home video that provides new evidence is authentic, newspaper El Pais reported, citing unidentified investigators.
Police said images in the video showing two people behind the 12th-floor windows of Deloitte & Touche LLP, the largest accounting company in the U.S. and in Spain, weren't faked, nor were they reflections, the paper reported. The two were ignoring an evacuation order during the Feb. 13 blaze, El Pais said.
UPDATE. More here.
A WORRYING REPORT today by the Associated Press, about the further terrorist campaign planned by the March 11 perpetrators for the weeks and months after the attacks. Apparently they were planning several suicide bombings à la palestinian, which were prevented only by the fact that they blew themselves up to prevent their arrest by police who were surrounding the apartment where they were barricading:
Islamic militants blamed for last year's commuter train bombings in Madrid were plotting more bloodshed a string of suicide attacks in the months after the massacre, Spain's counterterrorism director told The Associated Press on Thursday.They certainly look like risks to me...
The revelation adds a chilling what-if element to Spain's national trauma as it prepares to mark the anniversary of the March 11 bombings, the country's worst-ever terrorist attack.
Fernando Reinares, the counterterrorism chief, said the militants most likely to have carried out such suicide attacks in Spain which would have been the first ever in Western Europe were seven men who blew themselves up April 3 as special forces moved in to arrest them.
"According to data collected so far, it can be deduced that those terrorists were probably planning suicide attacks in the months or weeks after" the train bombings, which killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,500, Reinares told AP.
Reinares said the information suggested "their terrorist campaign was not going to end on March 11, but was going to go on and include suicide attacks at a later stage.
The seven men who died in Leganes, a town outside Madrid, included suspected ringleaders of the train strikes, which were claimed in videotapes by militants who said they acted on behalf of al-Qaida in revenge for Spain's troop presence in Iraq.
At least five men are fugitives in the case, including one who escaped from the apartment in Leganes. Reinares gave no indication these men are considered suicide-attack risks."
AP continues with the most interesting part:
But Reinares said the plans for later suicide attacks showed that the Madrid train bombers were probably not interested in bringing down the conservative government then in power, which had supported the U.S.-led Iraq war, but rather wanted to go on causing bloodshed.Apparently, Reinares (just to make it clear, a member of Zapatero's administration) hasn't heard about the notorious al-Qaeda document which said:
Former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his party have insisted the bombing three days before a general election was tantamount to a surgical strike against his government, which had defied public opinion by supporting the Iraq war and sending 1,300 peacekeepers after President Bush declared an end to major fighting.
The Socialists, who had opposed the war, won election and took power in April. They quickly brought troops home but insisted it was to keep a campaign pledge, not to cave in to terrorists.
Reinares said information about the Madrid bombers' suicide attack plans was featured in a new book by a Spanish investigative reporter, but the information wasn't carried in the mainstream Spanish media.
Therefore we say that in order to force the Spanish government to withdraw from Iraq the resistance should deal painful blows to its forces. This should be accompanied by an information campaign clarifying the truth of the matter inside Iraq. It is necessary to make utmost use of the upcoming general election in Spain in March next year.But in any event, if it were true that the terrorists' interest was not to bring down Aznar's government, by the same logic, it would be untrue that the "bombs in Iraq blow off in Madrid", which was the main slogan in the demonstrations across Spain the day after the bombings, and ultimately the underlying logic exploited by the Socialist party and its media terminals which brought their electoral victory on March 14. Maybe that's what explains AP's puzzlement at the fact that no MSM has picked up the story in Spain (which is true; I don't remember having seen anything, and so far Google News returns only one result, from today's Miami Herald).
We think that the Spanish government could not tolerate more than two, maximum three blows, after which it will have to withdraw as a result of popular pressure. If its troops still remain in Iraq after these blows, then the victory of the Socialist Party is almost secured, and the withdrawal of the Spanish forces will be on its electoral programme.
Well, something else explains the phenomenon: that with no coverage, it's possible to antesthesize the populace and make it think that by pulling the troops from Iraq, the country is safe thanks to our Great Leader Zapatero. Alas, it is far from being safe.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
SPAIN'S ECONOMY PROSPECTS are not that good, according to a professor of ESADE, the high-ranking business school in Barcelona. Zapatero's government has announce a list of 100-ish measures for the liberalization and the modernization of the country's economy, but it more marketing than anything else: it's a wish-list, a roadmap, more than anything else, with no schedule, no budget allocation, etc. and with a strong interventionist flavor, no matter the 'liberalization' label. Anyway, they'll have to do something quick, otherwise the ESADE professor says that it may become necessary to drop the Euro and return to a floating currency:
The economy ministry has also promised to liberalise the telecommunications, transport and postal services markets, provide incentives for investment in technology and strengthen consumer rights. The policy reforms, many of which will require parliamentary approval, are designed to address concerns about Spain's long-term economic growth.
In spite of outstripping average gross domestic product growth rates in the eurozone over the past 10 years, the gap between Spain and its neighbours is starting to close.
More worryingly, the economy ministry's calculations show that GDP per worker grew just 3.9 per cent between 1998 and 2004, compared with 5.4 per cent in the eurozone and 16 per cent in the US. During the same period the current account deficit has moved from surplus to deficit and inflation levels have constantly remained above the European average.
Tourism and construction, principal drivers of the economy, are showing signs of a slowdown, while local and international manufacturers have begun shifting production to eastern Europe and Asia at a rate of one or two facilities a week, according to some private sector estimates.
TRW, the US car parts maker, recently announced plans to close a plant in Burgos, in the north of the country, with the loss of more than 300 jobs. Spain long ago ceased being viewed as a low-cost production option for the automotive industry.
"If this situation continues we'll have to drop the euro and return to a floating rate currency to avoid mass unemployment and bankruptcies," said Luis de Sebastián, economist at the Esade business school in Barcelona. "Returns from tourism are no longer compensating for our lack of export competitiveness."
Economists point to state bureaucracy, labour market rigidity, "cartelism", low research and development spending and abuses by former state monopolies as the main culprits for the country's receding competitiveness.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS reports that one of the suspects of the March 11 terror arracks in Madrid was found to have a detailed skecth of Grand Central station in New York:
A suspect in the Madrid train bombings was found to possess a sketch and technical details about Grand Central Terminal in New York, U.S. officials confirmed Wednesday.Reader Jim Uren wonders whether the nine-month period since the sketch was found until Spanish authorities passed the information to US's is due to incompetence or the desire to 'hurt' the US. I honestly don't think it's the latter; Zapatero's government might be childishly anti-American, but I don't think that up to that level. Otherwise they wouldn't have passed the tip, not even now, would they?
The sketch and data were on a computer disk seized about two weeks after the March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people last year, the newspaper El Mundo said.
In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the FBI had informed the Police Department about the existence of the data on the computer and the city responded by tightening security at transit centers.
"We've known about the data on the computer for a long time," said Bloomberg, interviewed on WBLS Radio.
[...] Spanish police turned the disk over to the U.S. agents from the FBI and CIA in December once they understood the scope of the technical data, the report said.
A U.S. Embassy official confirmed that American law enforcement authorities received information related to Grand Central Terminal from Spanish authorities in December. The official declined to go into detail.
However, a Spanish police official said Spanish and U.S. authorities don't lend much credibility to the sketch, saying it is not even clear it is supposed to be a picture of Grand Central Terminal.
The police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the sketch was found in the home of Mouhannad Almallah, a Syrian who was arrested in Madrid on March 24 but later released, although he is still considered a suspect.
As for incompetence, well, it's one possible explanation, but we must base ourselves in what the newspaper that has published the information, El Mundo, reports. It's subscription only, but you can read -in Spanish- the text of that item here. The relevant quote is
Entre los objetos incautados por la policía en las operaciones efectuadas los días 24, 25 y 26 de marzo se encuentra un disquete de ordenador que incluye el dibujo de la estación neoyorkina trazado a mano. Fuentes próximas a la investigación añaden que iba acompañado de otros datos técnicos muy especializados. Por esa razón, la posible trascendencia de la información no fue valorada hasta el pasado mes de diciembre. Poco después, tras algunas consultas de tipo técnico, se decidió ponerla en conocimiento de EEUU.In English (my translation): "A computer disk with a hand sketch of the New York station was among the objects seized by police during the operations of March 24 to 26. Sources close to the investigation add that it was together with other very specialized technical data. For that reason, the potential of the information's relevance wasn't assessed until last December. Shortly after, after several technical consultation, it was decided to pass it to the knowledge of US authorities".
So I don't know if the information was that much complicated: 9 months is an awfully long period of time to learn what that was about. Maybe they just wanted to check and re-check in order to avoid another Brandon Mayfield-like fiasco.
ZAPATERO WILL BE so proud when he reads this:
Saddam Hussein was overjoyed when he learned that Spanish troops had left Iraq, a spokesman for the former dictator’s legal team said.(via HispaLibertas)
[...] Saddam last met his defence counsel in December and
conveyed his greetings to all "free people" of the world "and especially to France and Germany," which were staunch opponents of the war that toppled him, Khassawneh said.
Saddam voiced his joy during the four and a half hour meeting when he was told Spain's new government had left the US-led military coalition in Iraq.
"He was very happy to know that Spanish forces had left Iraq," Khassawneh said.
Spain withdrew its 1,400-strong contingent from Iraq in April-May last year.
ALMOST ONE YEAR after the March 11 massacre in Madrid, the parliamentary commission has been a real disappointment. I have written several posts about it (use the "Search" box above), and today Enrique Nolla, who teaches political theory at a Madrid's university, has a good piece on the Wall Street Journal (alas, subscription only):
The final report of Spain's special parliamentary commission on last year's March 11 terrorist attacks probably won't be ready until June. But it's already painfully clear that the body has failed in its basic mission to clear up the facts and depoliticize the debate over Spain's worst peacetime disaster ever.Hope you're WSJ subscribers, because it's worth reading the rest. I would include more excerpts if I could fisk it (criticizing the piece would be somehow a justification for being looser with copyright protection), but it's not possible to fisk something you agree with.
In contrast to America's 9/11 commission, whose report became a surprise best-seller, the Spanish investigators failed to establish their independence or credibility. The strong agendas of all parties involved imposed their own rhythm and petty interests on the proceedings. The commission frequently seemed to ignore the events and victims of that tragic day, when 191 train commuters were killed in coordinated bomb attacks, and instead the proceedings turned into a bitter prolongation of the tragically shattered March election campaign.