Saturday, December 31, 2005

SINCE I'LL BE ON DUTY for Pajamas Media tomorrow I'll probably drop by here and post something, but just to make sure, I'd like to wish to all friends and readers of Barcepundit a happy year 2006!

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ANOTHER MOVE by the Zapatero administration to play nice with tyrants:
Spain has withdrawn political asylum from Equatorial Guinea opposition leader Severo Moto.

The Spanish government said he had proven involvement in coup attempts in his home country, a former colony.

Mr Moto denies any links to coups and says he will lodge an appeal against the withdrawal of his asylum status.

Mr Moto has lived in Spain since the 1980s. He leads a self-proclaimed government-in-exile in Madrid, in opposition to President Teodoro Obiang.
But no, the fact that Equatorial Guinea is Africa's third largest oil producer also helps explain this. Everyone know it's only Bu$HitleHalliburton who shapes his foreign policy on oil.

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Friday, December 30, 2005

APPARENTLY HAMAS is now targeting Spain:
The HAMAS children’s magazine, Al-Fateh, in a recent issue, (No. 66), tells the children about the city called Asbilia (Seville) and calls on them to free it, together with the whole country, from the infidels and to reinstate Muslim rule.

This is how the magazine has the city Asbilia (Seville) telling its story to Hamas’ children: “Salaam Aleykum my dear beloved. I would like to introduce myself: I am the city Asbilia, the bride of the country Andalus (Spain). In the past I was the Capital of the Kingdom of Asbilia… the Arab Muslims, led by the hero-commander Musa bin Nusair, conquered me in 713, after a siege, which lasted one month.

“In the year 97 of the Muslim calendar, the ruler of Andalus, Ayoub bin Habib al-Lahimi moved the Capital to my sister city, Cordoba… in the year 646 of the Muslim calendar, Ferdinand III besieged me and conquered me after a siege which lasted one year and five months, and that was due to the strength of my fortifications and my walls. This is when the Golden Age of the Muslims ended, and Asbilia (Seville) was lost by the Muslims.”

And the story goes on: “However, Muslim cultural expression and symbols still remain witness to the superior Muslim culture on my soil…I yearn that you, my beloved, will call me to return, together with the rest of the lost cities of the lost orchard [Andalus] to the hands of the Muslims so that joy and happiness will fill my land, and you will visit me because I am the bride of the country of Andalus.”
There's much more context at the link, which is an article by Rachel Ehrenfeld. Can't say I'm really surprised, but it's worrying nevertheless. And the worst part is that, as she says, the Spanish government has been advocating for the removal of Hamas from the EU's list of terrorist organizations (hat tip: reader Andy Graham).

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

IT'S GOING TO BE DIFFICULT to find a loony regime that the Spanish government doesn't like:
Spanish Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Jose Montilla said here Tuesday that economic relations between Iran and Spain ought to gain momentum.

The two countries have a high potential for cooperation in the economic and trade arenas, he told Iranian Ambassador to Madrid Morteza Alviri during a meeting.

Iran-Spain trade volume stands at USD 1.7b annually with the trend toward increasing bilateral transactions particularly during the tenures of former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar.

Iran and Spain signed several documents for cooperation during the exchange visits between Khatami and Aznar while in office.
Yes, Aznar too. Though one could argue that the previous Iran rulers were a bit less crazy than Ahmadinejad...

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THE CIA'S secret flights and rendition program of terrorism suspects started during the Clinton presidency; and it's not a White House shill who says it, but none other than Michael Scheuer, the former CIA agent that published a book during the 2004 campaign saying that Bush had bungled the fight against terrorists, of which Iraq was a distraction, and so forth (via Davids Medienkritik).

(By the way, sorry for the unplanned hiatus. I'm back in the game now!)

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

NO, I HAVEN'T VANISHED; it's just that several things have kept me from blogging the last couple of days. Thanks to all of you who emailed asking if everything was OK; I expect to resume posting at a regular pace tomorrow, a bit at least.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

GLENN REYNOLDS finds this troubling:
About 150 pounds of commercial plastic explosives has disappeared from a private storage site, along with 2,500 blasting caps and 20,000 feet of explosive detonation cord, authorities said Monday.

"In the hands of the wrong person, this material can be very, very destructive," Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said at a news conference.
Glenn writes: "These things usually turn out to be just ordinary industrial theft, not terrorism. I hope this turns out that way." I certainly hope so too, and I don't want to be alarmist, but this is exacly what happened in Spain before March 11; some plastic explosives disappeared from a mine in Asturias, Northern Spain, and it's the one that is claimed to have been used in the blast (though there are growing doubts whether it was what actually exploded.)

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Spanish police have arrested 14 people suspected of being members of an Islamist extremist group, with links to al-Qaeda.

The arrests were made in the southern towns of Malaga, Nerja and Seville.

Spanish police say they also detained a number of suspects in north-eastern Lleida and on the Balearic Islands.

They believe the suspects are members of the same group, dedicated to the indoctrination and recruitment of militants to send to Iraq.

The nationality of the 14 suspects is not yet known, but sources close to the police investigation say many of them have lived in Spain for a long time.

They are not believed to have been planning to carry out any attacks themselves. The Spanish authorities say the police operation is continuing and more arrests are possible.

This is the third round of mass detentions linked to suspected Islamic extremist activity in Spain in under a month.

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THERE ARE SO MANY IRONIES and at so many levels that I don't know where to start:
The demonstration called yesterday by the so-called "Victims of Civic Behavior," in opposition to the law supported by the Catalan socialists and ERC regulating annoying misbehavior in public places, led to rioting in the Raval district of Barcelona. The law is to be voted on by the City Council on December 23. The demonstration began at 6 PM and consisted of between 1000 and 5000 persons, mostly of the radical punk-squatter-anarchist left.
So after years of seeing how the "culture of tolerance" meant that the city was degrading, getting more dirty, with people doing all sorts of things in the street that are only supposer to be done in privacy, the city hall decides to do something, and these guys not only are against it, but they call themselves "victims". Of course, they've seen that the culture of victimhood works, so why not give it a shot?

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"AMERICA IS DESTROYING THE WEST", acording to an article published by the German magazine Stern. And David Kaspar mercilessly fisks it; good job.

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DANIEL DUQUENAL summarizes what has happened electorally in Venezuela in the last three months.

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Sunni Muslim leaders in Iraq's violent Anbar province say they are ready to cooperate with the United States.
They are seeking to extend a temporary truce honored by most insurgent groups for last week's elections but say they want the United States to reduce military raids and increase development projects for their vast desert province, The Washington Times reports.
By the way, I didn't watch Bush's speech from the Oval Office live -it was at 3am European time and I was sound asleep- but did this morning; he did a good job. If you're interested, at Pajamas Media there's a big blog roundup.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

AFTER MONTHS of listening to the MSM insisting that Katrina had been as racist as the Bush administration -or something to that effect-, it turns out that they admit themselves it wasn't so. I'm afraid it's too late: the meme is engraved in many people's brain, particularly in Europe. Of course, the European media, so quick to follow the American mainstream media when the accusations were flying, will simply let this clarification pass.

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BREAKING NEWS: Sharon has been rushed into a hospital. No news yet on what are the reasons.

UPDATE. AP says Sharon felt unwell while working in his office, and that "Channel 10 TV, quoting police sources, said Sharon apparently lost consciousness. He was taken directly to the emergency room of the hospital, the media reports said."

UPDATE II. Arutz Sheva: "Sharon aides claim that the prime minister's life is not in danger and that he is being treated for a very minor neurological incident."

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ANOTHER "BIG PROTEST", in the magnitude of another one I mentioned, but this time with a participant that will be better known to US readers (my emphasis):
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan led a small protest Saturday outside the U.S. Embassy to denounce the war in Iraq.

About 100 protesters carried banners criticizing President Bush.

Sheehan, whose soldier son was killed in Iraq, called Bush a war criminal and said, "Iraq is worse than Vietnam."
Not even in notoriously anti-war, anti-Bush Spain she's taken seriously anymore.

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COLIN POWELL was interviewed on the BBC (video here):
THE US administration was never told of doubts about the secret intelligence used to justify war with Iraq, former secretary of state Colin Powell told the BBC in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday night.

Mr Powell, who argued the case for military action against Saddam Hussein in the UN in 2003, told BBC News 24 television he was "deeply disappointed in what the intelligence community had presented to me and to the rest of us."

"What really upset me more than anything else was that there were people in the intelligence community that had doubts about some of this sourcing, but those doubts never surfaced to us," he said.
He also talked about the CIA's secret flights and the extraordinary rendition procedures that have raised such a big furore in Europe:
Ex-US Secretary of State Colin Powell has indicated that Europeans are being disingenuous when they deny knowledge of the rendition of terror suspects.

Mr Powell said the recently highlighted practice of moving people to places where they are not covered by US law was neither "new or unknown" to Europe.

A number of countries where flights allegedly stopped have said they were unaware of their land being used.

[...] He was speaking after his successor, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, faced tough questioning about the use of rendition during a recent trip to Europe.

She admitted that terror suspects were flown abroad for interrogation, but said this was "a lawful weapon", and denied the prisoners were tortured.

She refused to address claims that the CIA runs secret prisons abroad where suspects are interrogated without reference to international law.

But Gen Powell was dismissive of the furore in Europe.

"There's a little bit of the movie Casablanca in this, where, you know, the inspector says 'I'm shocked, shocked that this kind of thing takes place'.

"Well, most of our European friends cannot be shocked that this kind of thing takes place... The fact that we have, over the years, had procedures in place that would deal with people who are responsible for terrorist activities, or suspected of terrorist activities, and so the thing that is called rendition is not something that is new or unknown to my European friends."
Of course, we already knew that...

More at Gateway Pundit and Mark in Mexico.

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IRAN STATE TV has confirmed that one of Ahmadinejad's bodyguards was killed in an ambush, but not in a direct attack against the loony's motorcade but several hours before he was due to arrive, while security checks were being done.

Yeah, and we simply must believe what the official propaganda organ has to say, mustn't we?

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

ASSASINATION ATTEMPT against loony president of Ian? That's what one source in the country has just told Michael Ledeen:
I've just received a call from a usually reliable person saying that there was an assassination attempt in Iran against President Ahmadi Nezhad, who was in a car. His driver and guards were killed, and he is in the hospital, apparently likely to survive. I couldn't get any details about the intensity of the blue energy waves flowing from his cranium...but if this story is true it suggests that there are powerful folks in Iran who have decided the president is more trouble than he's worth...and they'd rather go back to the old deception of having someone who can lull the West into a false sense of security.
UPDATE. More at Iran Focus; apparently only one bodyguard would be dead. Right Wing Nuthouse, Ace of Spades and Jawa Report are also over this.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

WHAT AN EXTRAORINARY DAY it's been, and still not over! I guess quite a few of you have been following the Iraqi elections, at least partially, at Pajamas Media; you can see the full list of stories here. It's been a great experience to have been working side by side with the great Omar and Mohammed from Iraq the Model, and also the eight stringers. They've all done a magnificent job.

Now the coverage will continue at Pajamas Media with analysis, commentary, links, and much more. But I can't say anything more than it has been a great, great day, in spite of many doomsayers. In spite of so many doomsayers...

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

IT'S ELECTION DAY in Iraq tomorrow, and at Pajamas Media we will be doing live special coverage, with constantly updated reports from Erbil, Kirkuk, Mosul, Babil, Najaf, Kerbala, Samawa, Basra as well as Baghdad of course, by Omar and Mohammed of Iraq the Model and eight more correspondents.

You won't find a better place to follow what will be really happening in an historial vote, so make sure you don't miss it!

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AND SPEAKING of jerks, what about this one:
Convergence and Union (CiU) and the People's Party (PP) this week censured the words of the Generalitat's commerce counselor, Josep Huguet of the radical Catalanist party ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia), who compared the boycott of Catalan products with the situation of the Jews in Nazi Germany, who saw their shops painted with stars of David.
And this guy is not a fringe loony as the ones in the previous post: he is a member of the regional Catalan government.

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A FEW DESPICABLE idiots join together, and suddendly you've got a "Big Free Speech Rally"!
Last Saturday 10 of December there was made a concentration in front of the Austrian Embassy in Madrid in protest for the detention of David Irving and in support to this British Historian that has part of his work dedicated to the historical revisionism. The concentration was organized by a recently born political party, Alianza Nacional (National Alliance)
Alianza Nacional, for those of you not in the know, is a Fascist party (that nobody pays any attention to, by the way). So it's Indymedia, David Irving and a Fascist, white-supremacist party all joining together. A jerk-fest!

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SPAIN ARRESTS two Chechens linked to the Theo van Gogh murder; more here.

UPDATE. And more here.

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TOOKIE WILLIAMS and Europe's anti-Americanism; a well thought post by Glenn Greenwald.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

POLL FINDS 1/ Iraqis are optimistic, 2/ lots of commentators, pundits and doom apologists claim to speak on behalf of the Iraqi people but refuse to take into consideration what they really think.

UPDATE. Here's a translation into pie charts.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

DON'T MISS the live blog debate over at Pajamas Media, it's just started:
Let's Kill All The Lawyers?: The Rule of Law in the 21st Century

Is replacing dictatorships with democratic "rule of law" essential to defeating 21st century international terror? Moderated by Austin Bay. With:

Jim Bennett, Albion's Seedlings
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit
Kenneth Anderson, Law of War & Just War Theory Blog
Omar, Iraq the Model
David Corn, the Nation

If you can't now, don't worry: it will remain archived there for you to see whenever you prefer.

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"PAST SPANISH LIES on Iraq exposed", writes the Cuban press service Prensa Latina quoting an information from El País (link in Spanish here), the Madrid newspaper which is virtually the house organ of the Socialist party. The gist of both articles is to say that, contrary to what the previous Aznar administration claimed, the Spanish troops were not in Iraq for humanitarian reasons, but to wage a real war. The evidence they provide is that the Spanish base was constantly attacked -at least 40 times- and the Spanish forces, while repelling the attacks, killed 9 Iraqis; there were also 9 Spanish soldiers wounded too. Another pro-Socialist publication, Interviu magazine, had a couple of reports about this a few days ago; they even have a video on their website that you can see here.

The problem with these informations is that they provide a date when the attacks started: "in the 48 days, from April 4, 2004 to the moment the last of the 1,300 soldiers crossed the border of Kuwait, the Spanish Army took part in 40 combat actions, with at least 11 Spanish soldiers wounded in the said period."

Note the date, and then remember when the general elections were held: on March 14. The attacks started after Zapatero won, saying he'd pull out the Spanish troops from Iraq. Prensa Latina goes on: "
Even on April 17, 2004, when Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was inaugurated as President of the Spanish Government, 19 mortar shells hit Spain´s base." (emphasis mine)

I'd have written "precisely", not "even"; the attacks started after it was known that the troops would be withdrawn sooner or later because of the change in administration. Something that Rep. Murtha, Nancy Pelosi or Howard Dean should think about.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

GLENN is writing about the UPI article claiming that the French had repeatedly warned that there was no evidence that Iraq was trying to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger. I wonder that happened at the same time than this.

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ROGER SIMON remembers Richard Pryor.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Spanish authorities have arrested seven people suspected of financing the activities of Islamic terror groups, a Civil Guard spokesman says.

The raids took place in the Costa del Sol region of southern Spain in the cities Malaga, Torremolinos and Marbella.

Last month, Spanish police arrested 10 suspects wanted for allegedly providing logistical support, including financing, to radical Islamic groups.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

AFGHANISTAN, four years later:
Four years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghans express both vast support for the changes that have shaken their country and remarkable optimism for the future, despite the deep challenges they face in economic opportunity, security and basic services alike.

An ABC News poll in Afghanistan -- the first national survey there sponsored by a news organization -- underscores those challenges in a unique portrait of the lives of ordinary Afghans. Poverty is deep, medical care and other basic services lacking, and infrastructure minimal. Nearly six in 10 have no electricity in their homes, and just 3 percent have it around the clock. Seven in 10 Afghan adults have no more than an elementary education; half have no schooling whatsoever. Half have household incomes under $500 a year.

Yet despite these and other deprivations, 77 percent of Afghans say their country is headed in the right direction -- compared with 30 percent in the vastly better-off United States. Ninety-one percent prefer the current Afghan government to the Taliban regime, and 87 percent call the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban good for their country. Osama bin Laden, for his part, is as unpopular as the Taliban; nine in 10 view him unfavorably.

[...] The survey also finds broad majority support for women's rights in Afghan society, albeit, as in other readings, with more modest strength of commitment behind it. Nine in 10 Afghans support girls' education and women voting, three-quarters support women holding jobs and two-thirds support women holding government office — remarkable in a country where the Taliban so thoroughly repressed such rights. Perhaps surprisingly, support for most of these is nearly as high among men as it is among women.

[...] Eighty-three percent of Afghans express a favorable opinion of the United States overall, similar to the 87 percent who call the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban a good thing. That compares to favorable ratings of a mere 8 percent for the Taliban, and 5 percent for bin Laden. People who are unhappy with their local living conditions are twice as likely to have an unfavorable opinion of the United States.

[...] Notable in this survey is the similarity of views between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, the two doctrinal groups so sharply at odds in Iraq. As in most of the Arab world, Sunnis dominate in Afghanistan — 85 percent of the population is Sunni (including nearly all members of the Pashtun and Tajik ethnic groups) while 15 percent is Shiite (including nearly all ethnic Hazaras).
Keep on reading; if you want to dig further, you can read the full questionnaire (in pdf) and a detailed methodological statement (also in pdf).

And then you can think whether the reports coming from that country accurately reflect the situation in the ground, or whether there's anyone in the MSM considering the possibility that something similar eventually happens in Iraq. After all it was not that long ago that everybody in Afghanistan hated, hated the bad Americans.

(via Ed Driscoll and Tim Blair)

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

THIS IS THE STORY of Kinneret Boosany, of her life and her will to go on after having survived a suicide attack in Israel. Go read it (via LGF).

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IT'S MICHAEL LEDEEN vs Marc Cooper blogmatch over at Pajamas Media.

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IT'S NOT ONLY whether you win or lose in Iraq, writes Anne Applebaum in an intelligent article.

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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1941; today's the 64th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Great pictures via Bill Quick.

UPDATE. Much more on this at LaShawn Barber's.

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ANOTHER SEX-RELATED scandal by a high-ranking UN official. I've lost count of them all.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

IT'S PART TWO of Pajamas Media's blogjam about internet governance and the UN. Now it's four well-known bloggers participating: Tobias S. Buckell, Stephen Green, Laurence Simon and YAYsports!

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EUROPE IS IN NEED of regime change, a Daily Telegraph editorial claims:
As the American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, arrives in Europe, it is instructive to look at the areas where her country's interests clash with those of the EU. They fall into six broad categories: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Israel, China and what one might loosely call "supra-nationalism" - that is, the power of the UN, the Kyoto process, the International Criminal Court and so on. These disputes are not unrelated; they are linked by a common ideological thread. In each case, the United States is pro-democracy, the EU pro-stability.
Read the rest.

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JUST LIKE last year, ETA has marked the Constitution day, which is a national holiday in Spain, with several bomb blasts:
Armed Basque separatist group ETA exploded five small bombs on motorways around Madrid on Saturday as Spain celebrated the 27th anniversary of its constitution with a ceremony in the parliament building.

The bombs went off at the side of three of Madrid's ring roads and one each on the motorway exits to Barcelona and La Coruna, said a source at Spain's anti-terrorist forces.

"Five bombs have exploded on roads around Madrid," the source told Reuters. "They are small and have caused no injuries."

It's the same day that a Spanish newspaper reported that ETA said that its cease-fire depends on Spanish government concessions, so today they're playing their hand. And they assume that concessions they're gonna get, after all they've got Zapaterlain on the other side of the bargaining table.

UPDATE. And it's also the same day that it was known that ETA has expelled six of its members for the sin of appaling for laying down the arms.

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ON LGF I see that the Jerusalem Post misquoted ElBaradei (see yesterday's post). What he said exactly was that it will be a matter of time that Iran develops nuclear weapon once Natanz becomes fully operational, something that won't happen in about two years.

No that it is a big difference, but I wanted to point it out.

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THE DEBATE over internet governance continues at Pajamas Media; now it's an online discussion between Perry de Havilland, Dan Gillmor, Michael Barone, Franklin Cudjoe and Peng Hwa Ang.

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TWO CUPS OF COFFEE or more everyday not only keep you awake and in a better mood but, according to a new study, significantly reduce the risk of liver disease in people who drink too much alcohol, are overweight or had too much iron in their blood.

So now you know: a shot, a cup; a shot, a cup....

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Monday, December 05, 2005

IN HONG KONG they're marching for democracy.

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CHAVEZ'S MOUTHPIECE on the web writes: "Amnesty International in Spain criticizes proposed arms sale to Colombia.". Of course, they hide that in the same report, AI also criticized the arms sales to Venezuela (link in Spanish; oddly, in AI Venezuela's, but not Spain's website, at least that I could find).

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READ this interview with Jose Maria Aznar, Spain's former prime minister and Zapatero's predecessor. He talks about Iraq, the war against terrorism, ETA, NATO.

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ELBARADEI says that it's only a matter of months until Iran has a nuclear weapon:
IAEA chairman Muhammad ElBaradei on Monday confirmed Israel's assessment that Iran is only a few months away from creating an atomic bomb.

If Teheran indeed resumed its uranium enrichment in other plants, as threatened, it will take it only "a few months" to produce a nuclear bomb, El-Baradei told The Independent.

On the other hand, he warned, any attempt to resolve the crisis by non-diplomatic means would "open a Pandora's box. There would be efforts to isolate Iran; Iran would retaliate; and at the end of the day you have to go back to the negotiating table to find the solution."
The conundrum here is that we have seen that diplomatic efforts aren't exactly avoiding Iran having an A-bomb so, what should be done?

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PENG HWA ANG, professor of Nanyang Technical University in Singapore and member of UN Working Group on Internet Governance responds to Claudia Rosett's piece on who should rule the Internet. The debate at Pajamas Media will continue with more participants.

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Meanwhile, Iraq's experiment in Arab liberty has had ripple effects beyond its borders, pushing the Syrians most of the way out of Lebanon, and in Syria itself significantly weakening Baby Assad's regime. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who's spent years as a beleaguered democracy advocate in Egypt, told the Washington Post's Jim Hoagland the other day that, although he'd opposed the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, he had to admit it had "unfrozen the Middle East, just as Napoleon's 1798 expedition did. Elections in Iraq force the theocrats and autocrats to put democracy on the agenda, even if only to fight against us. Look, neither Napoleon nor President Bush could impregnate the region with political change. But they were able to be the midwives."

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

"THE BLACK BOOK of Saddam Hussein" has been just published in France, of all places. Here's a review in The Australian:
Le Livre Noir de Saddam Hussein (The Black Book of Saddam Hussein) is a robust denunciation of Saddam's regime that does not fall into the trap of viewing everything in Iraq through a US-centric prism. The writers - Arabs, Americans, Germans, French and Iranian - have produced the most comprehensive work to date on the former Iraqi president's war crimes, assembling a mass of evidence that makes the anti-intervention arguments redundant.

"The first weapon of mass destruction was Saddam Hussein," writes Bernard Kouchner, who has been observing atrocities in Iraq since he led the first Medecins Sans Frontieres mission there in 1974. "Preserving the memory of the arbitrary arrests that Saddam's police conducted every morning, the horrible and humiliating torture, the organised rapes, the arbitrary executions and the prisons full of innocent people is not just a duty. Without that one cannot understand either what Saddam's dictatorship was or the urgent necessity to remove him."

The obsession of many journalists and commentators with the fruitless hunt for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons has meant much of the evidence of Saddam's atrocities in liberated Iraq has been under-reported. Sinje Caren Stoyke, a German archeologist and president of Archeologists for Human Rights, catalogues 288 mass graves, a list that is already out of date with the discovery of fresh sites every week.

"There is no secret about these mass graves," Stoyke writes. "Military convoys crossed towns, full of civilian prisoners, and returned empty. People living near execution sites heard the cries of men, women and children. They heard shots followed by silence."

Stoyke estimates one million people are missing in Iraq, presumed dead, leaving families with the dreadful task of finding and identifying the remains of their loved ones.

Abdullah Mohammed Hussein was a soldier fighting in the mountains when Iraqi troops took the Kurdish village of Sedar and deported three-quarters of the inhabitants, including his mother, his wife and their seven children. They were taken to a concentration camp at Topzawa and from there some were taken to an execution ground near the archeological site of Hatra, south of Mosul. The remains of 192 people have been found, 123 women and children and 69 men, among them Abdullah's wife and three of their children. There is no trace of his mother and the other four children. They were victims of the genocidal Anfal campaign, which sought to exterminate the Kurds.

Between February and September 1988, 100,000 to 180,000 Kurds died or disappeared. The bombing of the Kurdish village of Halabja with chemical weapons including mustard gas, tabun, sarin and VX on March 16, 1988, which killed 3000 to 5000 civilians, was the most publicised of these atrocities because it occurred near the Iranian border and Iranian troops were able to penetrate with the assistance of Kurds, filming and photographing the victims.

Halabja was not an isolated case however. Saddam used chemical weapons at least 60 times against Kurdish villages during Anfal.

And Kurds were not the only victims of Saddam, who ordered the arrest of numerous Shi'ites. Saadoun Kassab, an engineer who helped build Abu Ghraib in 1957, a prison that was designed to hold 4000 prisoners, was later to be held there for a year. He told Chris Kutschera, the book's editor: "When I was imprisoned in Abu Ghraib in 1985, there were 48,500 prisoners. I was imprisoned for eight months in a space 1mx1.5m, a box. I was sometimes in there for a fortnight without going outside. I wanted to be interrogated to get outside, to see daylight and human beings. All that because I said hello to Saad Saleh Jaber [son of a former Shi'ite prime minister from the time of the monarchy]. I saw people die."
Read what follows.

(via Norman Geras)

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

SO YOU SAY you're already read the piece by Hans Magnus Enzensberger I told you and want more food for thought, you say?

Well, there's always the superb Victor Davis Hanson:
Almost everything that is now written about Iraq rings not quite right: It was a “blunder”; there should have been far more troops there; the country must be trisected; we must abide by a timetable and leave regardless of events on the ground; Iraq will soon devolve into either an Islamic republic or another dictatorship; the U.S. military is enervated and nearly ruined; and so on.

In fact, precisely because we have killed thousands of terrorists, trained an army, and ensured a political process, it is possible to do what was intended from the very beginning: lessen the footprint of American troops in the heart of the ancient caliphate.

Save for a few courageous Democrats, like Senator Joe Lieberman, who look at things empirically rather than ideologically, and some stalwart Republicans, most politicians and public intellectuals have long bailed on the enterprise.

This is now what comprises statesmanship: Some renounce their earlier support for the war. Others, less imaginative, in Clintonian (his and hers) fashion, take credit for backing the miraculous victory of spring 2003, but in hindsight, of course, blame the bloody peace on Bush. Or, better yet, they praise Congressman Murtha to the skies, but under no circumstances go on record urging the military to follow his advice.

How strange that journalists pontificate post facto about all the mistakes that they think have been made, nevertheless conceding that here we are on the verge of a third and final successful election. No mention, of course, is ever made about the current sorry state of journalistic ethics and incompetence (cf. Jayson Blair, Judy Miller, Michael Isikoff, Bob Woodward, Eason Jordan). A group of professionals, after all, who cannot even be professional in their own sphere, surely have no credibility in lecturing the U.S. military about what they think went wrong in Iraq.

Of course, the White House, as is true in all wars, has made mistakes, but only one critical lapse — and it is not the Herculean effort to establish a consensual government at the nexus of the Middle East in less than three years after removing Saddam Hussein. The administration’s lapse, rather, has come in its failure to present the entire war effort in its proper moral context.

And that's the point where you know you want to read the rest; there's much more.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

WANT SOMETHING to read over the weekend? Then read Hans Magnus Enzensberger: "The radical loser."

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

"FAHRENHEIT 1861": the documentary Michael Moore would have shot had he lived under the Lincoln presidency and the Civil War (via JunkYardBlog, who turns four, congratulations!).

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AUSTIN BAY is participating in the IITSEC conference, and reports from there.

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WHOSE INTERNET IS IT ANYWAY? Don't miss Claudia Rosett's special report on Pajamas Media about UN's attempts to control it. More debate will follow in the next days, with known experts and bloggers participating.

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MEET Mireille:
Mireille was a 38-year old woman born into a white, Christian family in the Southern Belgian town of Charleroi; she married to a Moroccan, converted to a radical form of Islam, and went to Iraq where she blew herself up in a suicide attack targeted against a US military convoy; she killed only herself. Her passport was in her remains, and its finding prompted yesterday the arrest by Belgium and France security forces of 15 suspected Islamic militants believed to be linked to her. Mireille has the more than dubious honor of being the first white Western woman to carry out a suicide bombing, according to London's The Times.

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JOHN SEIGENTHALER had problems with Wikipedia. I have found that, particularly in the Spanish version, there's lots of bias, and whoever tries to correct it sees its texts changed back only after a few minutes. And if they insist, they simply get banned.

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