Friday, September 30, 2005

Venezuela Watch 9/30

  1. On investing in Venezuelan gold mining companies:
    Essentially the broader issue that this story is meant to illuminate is: Why touch these Venezuelan equities at all, when there are so many other good development and production stories out there that don’t have this uncertainty, and still have great upside?

    Investing in Venezuela is not an educated bet, and it now has been completely disconnected from the companies or their assets – it is simply a bet on an unstable, mercurial nutcase named Chavez. No one can predict his next move, including the analysts, so even if the new Castro behaves, there will always be huge discounts.
    Here is an investment opportunity for left-leaning contrarians.

  2. On unrequited love - At least, Zapatero will always have Chavez. Update: Cuba is now out but Venezuela will still pay homage to its former colonial master.

Fall Is Here

and it is time for Beer Reviews. (See also Beer Ratings.)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

What Has He Been Smoking?

From The Independent:

FBI Was Told John Lennon 'Too Stoned' to Start a Revolution
It was apparently with much relief that the FBI had a sudden revelation about the former Beatle John Lennon, back in 1972. For months the agency had been fretting that the singer-turned-activist was preparing to disrupt the Republican National Convention in Miami. Then somebody said it: Lennon was far too stoned to be a real threat.

The moment when the FBI concluded that pot had got the better of the late rock star is recorded in one of a myriad of files on deceased celebrities released by the U.S. government this week under freedom of information statutes.
Who would have thought that John Lennon dope smoked . . . er, that dope John Lennon thought who smoked . . . uh, smoking dope, Jon Lennon thought . . . Oh, never mind.

Does This Mean I Get A Sword?

You are Joan of Arc! You don't really want to hurt
anyone, but if they attack your friends or your
country and no-one else will stand up to fight
them, you head into the battle. Beware though,
conviction tends to get you killed.

Which Saint Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
(Hat tip to The Last Amazon.) BTW, if you are in the market for a sword, you might consider one of the bladed tools from these fine artisans.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Poland - EU Powerbroker?

Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of the UMP party and a strong contender for the French presidency in 2007, has proposed a G6 group composed of France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain and Poland. Poland? In the context of discussing objections to this proposal from Belgium, EU Referendum gives us this analysis:
Why Poland was invited to join the G6 is even more interesting. On one level, this makes sense, as Poland is one of the large countries, the largest of the new East European states.

On the other hand, it is probably the one that is having the worst economic problems and the one in which reforms have fallen behind. We shall see how the new government will fare.

There is, however, the matter of foreign policy. Poland (as well as the other East European member states) has notoriously been reluctant the Franco-German “European” line in foreign matters. President Kwasniewski was heavily courted and applauded by President Bush and the policy is unlikely to change. Furthermore, as we have written several times, Poland has been conducting her own policy on the eastern border, building up friendly relations with Ukraine and not so friendly ones with Belarus and Russia. In this she had the full support of another member state, Lithuania.
See also Poll means new EU role for Poland:
But their appearance on the European stage is more likely to be a confident march than a waddle.

They are aghast that surveys show many Poles see themselves as citizens of "a small nation" when it is geographically large, and so in terms of EU votes, powerful.

Their leader has said it is time for other countries to stop "yelling" at Poland. French President Jacques Chirac may be wondering "Do they mean me?"

This is the main reason why Law and Justice and their almost inevitable coalition partners Civil Platform (PO), are opposed to the European Union constitution.

They prefer the Nice treaty which gives Poland more of a say. Few think the constitution has much of a chance of being revived in its current form, but the Polish election is another shovel full of earth on the coffin.
. . . . .
Their vision is dominated by what they see as Poland's best economic interests. Poland is not likely to join the euro in the near future.
. . . . .
Both Polish parties are keen on economic liberalism and are likely to back Mr Blair in his campaign for a Europe that is more dynamic and less bothered about formal workers rights and social protection.

The Polish tourist board hit back at French fears of Polish plumbers
But this drive, at home and abroad, will only exacerbate worries in the those countries that are worried about the 10 new members who have joined the EU.

The Polish plumber was a bogeyman figure in the French referendum: someone who would do work on the cheap, putting righteous French plumbers out of a job.

The new Polish government hopes the country will be full of plumbers and other workers taking their businesses all over the EU, unhindered by the high costs at home that joining the euro could mean.

Raising The Red Ensign Standard

Red Ensign Flag
There is a Canada that remembers a weltanschauung that is embodied in a different flag. For them, the flag of Canada is still the Red Ensign. The writers who love that Canada have formed the Red Ensign Brigade and periodically raise that flag as a reminder, a battle standard and, sometimes, as a lament. All these elements seem to be present in the introduction to the Red Ensign Standard Volume XXVlll, hosted by The Last Amazon. Short of including the entire introduction, I shall defer to the judgement of Darcy from Dust My Broom, who highlighted the following passage:
We live in a land whose geography leaves its imprint upon our character early in life, and we were a nation forged and tempered by war; from the Plains of Abraham, to Vimy Ridge, to the beaches of Normandy. Freedom meant something beyond an existential definition which is all the value we place on freedom today. Here’s the new Canada’s truism; I am less free today by law than I was in 1985. In 2005, freedom is now measured by the quantity of law and by-laws that weighs down and restricts our daily existence.
There is a common struggle around the world. Read the

The Red Ensign Standard

Links to past issues can be found here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Too Much Chili And Beer?

Nature has a gas attack, but it's no laughing matter.

From the BBC:

From Behind Enemy Lines

The War Room sends an agent undercover and reports from BEHIND ENEMY LINES: CENSORSHIP & THE TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. Dangerous work, but somebody's gotta do it. Perhaps the Canadian Film industry could learn something from Hollywood for Hollywood is now going to church since that's where the money appears to be:
Hollywood, money, and politics — it's enough to make one cynical. Perhaps Hollywood is listening to what many Americans want: wholesome family movies and entertainment. Or perhaps Hollywood execs are listening to the sound of crashing ticket sales and are willing to show movies in a church near you if it means keeping their jobs.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Shifting Strategic Alliances, Part 2

EU Referendum is investigating the changes in historic alliances, especially the alliance between The United Kingdom and the United States. In Shifting Strategic Alliances, I linked to "The realignment continues" which explored Australia's elevated status as a strategic partner for the US. At the risk of stating the obvious, this is in response to developments in the European Union.

These developments are explored in "A parallel universe", which explores the "failure" of the UK Presidency of the EU. This passage gets to the relevant point:
Finland, it seems, as one of its main presidency objectives, is to push for greater ties with the United States, and is going to use the presidency to lobby against the creation of a purely European military alliance within the EU zone. We are told that government officials will "lobby very hard" for a solution that promotes continued American defence interest and trans-Atlantic collaboration in Europe

Finland, along with its Nordic neighbours Sweden and Denmark, is against a European alliance that would overlap or impede the role of NATO and the issue of a pan-EU military alliance, and Finland's growing relationship with NATO, has become so hugely important that it has emerged as a central theme for the presidential election in 2006.

Finnish Premier Matti Vanhanen is taking a personal interest in the issue, telling his Center Party colleagues at a parliamentary conference in the city of Seinäjoki on 31 August that: "I feel there is little to gain from establishing a purely European military alliance that would overlap with NATO, or compete with it." He added, "Finland must use its EU presidency to maintain the interest of the United States in Europe and also build political and defence bridges between Europe and the United States."

The very fact that the Finnish premier sees a potential conflict between the development of an EU military alliance and relations with the United States does suggest that there is an important issue at stake here. Furthermore, since the UK is supposed to be at the centre of the NATO alliance, and prides itself on its "special relationship" with the United States, the potential for conflict cannot have escaped the attention of the British government. Rather than leave the running to one of the smaller member states, this should have been taken up by Britain.

But, on this issue, the British presidency has been silent, and all we here are anodyne statement that NATO forms the core of British defence strategy, when all the evidence suggests otherwise.
It would appear that the "special relationship" isn't so special anymore. The diminution of that relationship is explored in "Taking the 'special' out of the US-UK relationship". This points us to a study forthcoming from the Center For Security Policy entitled "The Wrong Side of the Hill - The 'Secret' Realignment of UK Defence Policy" (pre-publication version - pdf). From the summary:
Bad for Everybody

The likelihood of a complete breakdown in common standards between the U.S. military and those of EU member states is very real. Should Britain continue to realign its defense apparatus with that of the European Union through a procurement policy that excludes and is incompatible with America's, the implications for the United States, Great Britain and perhaps even the EU would be nothing less than devastating:
  • The United States will lose a formidable ally and partner in the British military. This would be the case even if Brussels were to permit Britain to fight alongside the United States - something that the recent unpleasantness over U.K. support for the liberation of Iraq demonstrates cannot be assumed. Britain would be unable to offer anything more than token support, as Anglo-American interoperability will inexorably be eliminated.
  • Britain's security interests will not be well served, either. After all, the Franco-German aspiration to create a European army - which cannot, as a practical matter, amount to much without Britain's highly professional military personnel and resources, is not really aimed at producing a formidable fighting force. Rather, it is but an instrument for furthering European integration and bringing the British, whose independence has long been a thorn in the side of continentals, under discipline.
  • It is predictable, moreover, that - having created this Rapid Reaction Force - the Europeans will feel obliged to use it, albeit in what Brussels (read, the French and Germans) view as politically correct ways. These will, at best, fritter away precious British and other European defense resources. At worse, the EU may well become embroiled in conflicts from which it is ill-equipped to emerge victorious. Having done so, it may even require American help - which will be hard to provide given the incompatibility with U.S. systems deliberately designed into EU forces.
The last point leads to the question, "Would British troops under French command do this?"

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Understanding the Polish Election

Polish Flag
(Hat tip to EU Referendum)

  • General Background:
    1. From the BBC: Country profile: Poland
    2. From Wikipedia: Poland
    3. The Chancellery of the Prime Minister
    4. Parliament (Sejm) of the Republic of Poland
  • Political Analysis:
    1. The Beatroot: The personell gets political (10/31/05)
      After failing to get Civic Platform (PO), the right wing, free market orientated party, which came second in the parliamentary elections last month, on side, PM designate, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, has announced that Law and Justice will form a minority government, making ad hoc, individual alliances to get their program through parliament.
    2. EU Referendum: The twin has it (10/24/05)
    3. The Beatroot:
    4. The Brussels Journal: Surprise: Kaczynski Again (10/24/05)
    5. The Beatroot: Another late swing to Lech Kaczynski?(10/21/05)
    6. EU Referendum: "Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła" (10/20/05)
    7. Polish Consulate: Tie off... (10/17/05)
      Six days ahead of the second round of Poland's presidential elections, liberal candidate Donald Tusk leads with over 57% support. His rival, conservative Lech Kaczynski has a 43 % backing. This in spite of his attempts last week to discredit Tusk by leaking information of Tusk's grandfather serving in the German army during WWII.

      Lech Kaczynski sacked his campaign manager who made the allegations and apologised to Tusk for the dirty trick in the campaign. On Sunday during a religious service both candidates exchanged a sign of peace, promising they would stick to business rather that digging up the past.
      . . . . .
      Presidential runners who had lost in the first round have offered to support the two remaining candidates. It is said that Marek Borowski, the leftist candidate, urged his electorate to cast votes for Tusk, while the radical leader of the farmer's Self Defence union Andrzej Lepper has offered to back Lech Kaczynski. Robert Strybel, a correspondent of Polish American media, doubts however, that these declarations will any effect when it comes to voting.
    8. The Beatroot:
    9. EU ReferendumYet more Polish elections (10/10/05)
    10. The Beatroot: Tusk leads duck(10/9/05)
      Donald Tusk and Lech Kaczynski will contest a second round in the presidential election in two weeks time.
      Depending which exit survey you believe, he polled between five and six percent more than the Law and Justice candidate. The east and rural areas voted more for Kaczynski, the west and urban for Tusk.
    11. The Beatroot:
    12. Polish Consulate:
    13. Wyre Forest Liberals: Donald Tusk (9/20/05)(In Polish)
    14. The Beatroot:
    15. Polish Consulate: Presidential Poles (9/30/05)
    16. The Beatroot: Taxing negotiations (9/30/05)
    17. Captain's Quarters: Poland's Conservatives Sweep Into Power (9/26/05)
      The new regime also will likely strongly support the US on foreign policy. They have declared themselves open to negotiating an extension on the Polish commitment for their troops in Iraq, while the previous government had quietly informed us that they intended to leave in December when their initial agreement ended. They will also keep the pressure on in Belarus, pushing for democratization in what has been called Europe's last dictatorship.

    18. Polish Consulate (9/28/05):
    19. The Beatroot: Kazimierz who? (9/28/05)
      Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz is a mathematics and physics graduate, who has been linked with Catholic conservatives since the start of his parliamentary career 12 years ago. In the outgoing parliament he headed the treasury commission, which oversees privitisation policy. He is said to belong to the market-oriented wing of Law and Justice.

      He's considered to be the author of his party's economic agenda - which is no great compliment as many have noticed that PiS don’t actually appear to have a clear economic policy.
    20. BBC: Polish conservatives pick premier (9/27/05)
      The Law and Justice (PiS) party was widely expected to choose its own leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

      But Mr Kaczynski said Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, 45, was the best choice if the party wanted to "quickly create an effective government".

      The announcement was welcomed by the PiS' allies, the Civic Platform (PO).

      "Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz is well-prepared to deal with economic issues, which were a source of dispute between us and the Civic Platform," Mr Kaczynski said.
    21. Polish Consulate: Final results... (9/27/05)
      The official final results of Poland’s general election held last Sunday announced this afternoon are as follows: Conservative Law and Justice – headed by the Kaczynski brothers, of whom Lech is the mayor of Warsaw - has won 155 seats inthe 460-seat lower house. It is followed by liberal Civic Platform with 133. If both parties agree to form a coalition they would together have a number of seats short of the 307 two third majority needed to, for example, amend the constitution.
      4 more parties exceeded the 5% threshold. These include the farmers’ militant Self defence 56 seats, leftist Democratic Left Alliance – 55 seats in the lower house, league of the Polish families 34 and Peasant party 25 seats.
      Turnout amounted to 40.5%.
    22. BBC: Poll means new EU role for Poland (9/26/05)
    23. Polish Consulate: Law and Justice and Civic Platform to form next government (9/26/05)
      A coalition between Law and Justice (PiS) and Civic Platform will form the new government, and negotiations will start soon this week. “We have long said that we want this coalition and there are no reasons why this shouldn’t happen,” said Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the favorite to become Poland’s next Prime Minister. kaczynski has indicated, however, that we will only take the job if his twin brother Lech does not win the October 9 presidential elections.
    24. PolBlog: Jaded For Free: Kaczyñski for Polish Neocons? (9/23/05)
    25. The Beatroot (9/26/05)
    26. Polish Consulate ...: Polish Election exit polls... (9/26/05)
    27. The BBC: Poland veers to right at election (9/25/05)
      Since the fall of communism in 1989, no Polish government has been re-elected.
    28. The Beatroot: History repeats. . . (9/25/05)
    29. The BBC: Q&A: Polish elections (9/23/05)
    30. The BBC: Analysis: Polish election battle (9/23/05)
    31. Technorati Search: Polish General Election
  • Commentary:
    1. PolBlog: PolBlogcast: Post Election Warsaw - Morning in Poland? (9/28/05)
    2. Bogus Gold: The Polish Challenge (9/26/05)
    3. Hammerswing 75: Poland (9/25/05) (HT2BG)
(This post will be updated as information becomes available.)

Coat Of

Projected Results From Polish Election

From The Beatroot - History repeats…:
The results of the Polish General Election are familiar – the party that was in government is annihilated, and the turnout very low.

Poland’s next Prime Minister is probably going to be Jaroslaw Kzcynski, after a late swing to his Law and Justice party. In second place is Civic Platform, according to exit polls.

The projection of seats, if the counted votes tally with the exit poll will be: Law and Justice 157 seats, Civic Platform 147, Self Defense 47, SLD 54, League of Polish families 33 and PSL 5.

The major surprise there is probably that the outgoing government of the ex-communist SLD have got into double figures, percentage-wise.

The turnout though is the lowest in the history of free elections in Poland. Only thirty seven percent bothered to drag themselves to the polling stations.
I was pulling for Civic Platform, and onetime Head the Central Bank in Poland, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who is a proponent of the flat tax and a bit of a babe.

Poland Votes Today

EU Referendum recommends The Beatroot for Polish election news.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Polish Elections Are Next

From the BBC: Analysis: Polish election battle
Two centre-right parties are expected to defeat Poland's governing ex-communists in parliamentary elections on Sunday.
(Perhaps they remember the Katyn Forest massacre.)

This, however, is a case of "the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend":
Civic Platform and Law and Justice have been running neck-and-neck in opinion polls - with a combined opinion poll score of between 60 and 70%.

They have already announced their intention to form a coalition government - with the party that wins more seats getting the post of prime minister.

But in the absence of a strong challenge from the Left, the two parties have, in recent days, taken to attacking each other.

Law and Justice, in particular, has worked hard to capture part of the ex-Democratic Left Alliance vote - stressing its commitment to social welfare and accusing Civic Platform of trying to conduct a "liberal experiment" on the nation.

Nonetheless, most observers expect there will be a two-party centre-right government.

One issue the two would need to iron out is taxation. Civic Platform wants to introduce a flat 15% rate for income tax, corporation tax and VAT. Law and Justice says this is unfair.

Civic Platform wants Poland to adopt the euro as soon as possible. Law and Justice says Poland's priority should be growth.

Leaning to West

What kind of foreign policy would the two pursue?

Both parties say they want to maintain Poland's close relations with the US and to play an assertive role in the EU.

Both see Russia as a potential strategic threat - and say Poland should seek to diversify its sources of oil and gas.

But while Civic Platform would also like to work closely with Germany, Law and Justice is more prone to nationalist rhetoric.
Read the full article to find out what Poland's "Fourth Republic" might look like.

Understanding The German Elections Part 5

The Grass Isn't Always Greener: German Greens spurn CDU alliance

But of more interest than that, is this:
Meanwhile, a senior German official in charge of the archive of the East German secret police, or Stasi, claims at least seven of the new MPs elected on Sunday used to work unofficially for the force.

Marianne Birthler told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung newspaper that the seven were all members of the left-wing Die Linke - Left party - which is due to get 54 seats in the new parliament after winning nearly nine per cent of the vote.

She has called for all new German parliamentarians to face obligatory background checks, which should be made public.

Court order

The Left party is a mix of disgruntled former Social Democrats and former East German communists.

One of its co-leaders, Gregor Gysi, has often faced and denied allegations that he worked for the Stasi. Earlier this month he secured a court order to stop his file being made public.

The Left has been shunned by both the SPD and CDU in the efforts to form a new coalition this week.

This means there is a bloc of 54 MPs in the Bundestag who are not available for building a new coalition - which is why the other parties are finding it so difficult to form a new government, our correspondent says.
The Left Party holds three more seats than the Greens:
1. Christian Democrats/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU): 225
2. Social Democrats (SPD): 222
3. Free Democrats (FDP): 61
4. Left Party: 54
5. Greens: 51

Friday, September 23, 2005

Understanding The German Elections Part 4

Get a sociology and history lesson about modern Germany by reading A Tale of Two Germanys from The Brussels Journal.
Decades of socialization in both west and east programmed much of the German public to immediately turn to government for solutions to their problems. At the same time German voters feel distant and unable to influence their government. Sunday’s poll saw the second lowest turnout in post-war German history and by far its most disturbing result.

In Germany, parties rule and much of the public distrusts them. Voting is more often motivated by a desire to prevent a particular party from dominating than to support a particular platform. This “voting in the negative” only adds to existing public cynicism exacerbating the already significant divide in western and eastern public opinion. Accountability to one's party is the first law of survival for a German politician. Parties lay down the rules and decide who gets the privilege of leading. The layers of decision makers and interests, extend the distance between constituents and their living breathing representatives. Few Constuents have ever contacted their representitives(sic) office, much less know who they are. The party is the real representative, a colourful logo with a catchy slogan. These faceless institutions are entrusted with the duty to serve the people.
Read the rest to find out how distrust, lack of identity and fear have worked together to produce the outcome of the most recent election.

I'm Waiting For The Movie

This is so scientific!

Image hosted by
Homo floresiensis

Image hosted by

Reconstruction of Homo floresiensis, BBC
The Hobbit was only 1m tall and possessed "primitive" features

"Australian anthropologists Peter Brown, Mike Morwood, Bert Roberts and others involved in the find, proposed that the Hobbit was a descendent of erectus or some other ancient species that reached Flores just under a million years ago.

Cut off from the rest of the world on this island, the species evolved small stature, much like the pygmy elephants it is thought to have hunted.

Sophisticated stone tools found nearby suggest they were not lacking in intelligence, even though the Hobbit specimen's brain was no smaller than a chimpanzee's.

But it was not long before some scientists began to ask serious questions about the discovery team's conclusions.

Indonesian anthropologist Teuku Jacob controversially took possession of the remains and declared them to be those of a modern human with the condition microcephaly.

This disorder is characterised by a small brain, but it can also be associated with dwarfism, as well as abnormalities of the face and jaw. For this reason, some scientists believe the condition could cause a modern human to look primitive in evolutionary terms."
Read New 'Hobbit' disease link claim, and call Clarence Darrow - lest we inherit the wind. (Hobbitses!)

I'm A (Not Very) Big Rock Star

You Are an Indie Rocker!

You are in it for the love of the music...
And you couldn't care less about being signed by a big label.
You're all about loving and supporting music - not commercial success.
You may not have the fame and glory, but you have complete control of your career.

More songs about grammar and vocabulary? (Hat tip to Samantha Burns.)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Blogging And Censorship

From Slugger O'Toole: Handbook on blogging censorship...
This looks like it might be a good investment. A Handbook for bloggers on censorship, and how to avoid recriminations. A sign that with a degree of media power comes some serious responsibility. Available free online from Reporters sans Frontières.
Take a look at this publication.

Rita Flooding Projection

Lou Minatti gives us a Storm surge possibility:
Here's a still (click to enlarge) from a Flash animation put together by the Houston Chronicle. It's the imaginary Hurricane Carly, a Category 4 storm. The storm surge alone would bury the homes of over a million people. Galveston, Texas City, NASA, Clear Lake, Kemah, much of Houston, all would cease to exist. These areas wouldn't just be flooded, they would be beaten down by pounding waves.
Also check out Hurricane Rita: Critical infrastructure at risk.

The Sociology of Sanitation

On why the presence of porcelain promotes people's progress.
"The problem is," Hilde Johnson told me, "that toilets are not sexy."
Reads the BBC here.

Kevin: Master Of Virtual Reality

Black Belt in EckerFu?

Understanding The German Elections Part 3

From The Brussels Journal " It's the German Reunification, Stupid":

Germany is the most left-wing country in Europe. In last Sunday’s elections, the parties of the left gained more than 51.1 per cent of the votes: 34.3 per cent for the Social-Democrats, 8.1 per cent for the Greens (sometimes described as “water melons”: green on the outside and red on the inside) and 8.7 per cent for the (former) communists of the Left Party. As in the previous elections of the past decade, the East-West ballot divide is striking.

Fifteen years after German reunification voters in the former East Germany still poll differently to the those in the west. German unemployment went up in the seven years of Chancellor Schroeder’s red-green coalition to almost 12 per cent. Yet in the east, where unemployment is twice as high as in the west, the Social Democrats (SPD) remained the biggest party with almost 30 per cent of the vote, while the Left Party got almost 25.9 per cent (compared to just 7.2 per cent in the west). The Greens won 4.4 per cent in the east. Over 60 per cent of the East-Germans, the so-called “Ossies,” voted for parties of the left. For the third consecutive time since 1998 they tipped the balance of power in the whole of Germany to the left.

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Red State- Blue State: Election Results: Divided Germany

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Explaining Islam to Catholics And Christianity to Cardinals

Plato's Stepchild looks at an explanation of Islam prepared for Catholics by a convert from Islam and is confused by a prayer by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, DC.

A Reason To Like The Two Party System

The aesthetics of German governmental organization leaves something to be desired. The "Jamaica Coalition", although underwhelming in its attactiveness, is clearly preferable over the " Stoplight Coalition".

Venezuela Watch 9/21/05

Sandinistas in Venezuela oil deal
Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega said councils governed by the party would be able to buy oil at a 40% discount.

The rise of global oil prices has caused an energy crisis in Nicaragua which has led to power rationing.
. . . . .
Under the deal announced by Mr Ortega, a Venezuelan-controlled company will be created in partnership with the municipalities. The company will transport, store and deliver fuel.

More than half of Nicaragua's councils are run by Sandinistas and could benefit from the cheaper oil.

Venezuela's Ambassador Miguel Gomez said he hoped similar schemes could be extended to other Central American countries.
From each according to his abilities, to each according to his need?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Simon Wiesenthal Has Died

Read the links and comments here.

Venezuela Watch 9/20/05

From VCRISIS: Venezuela featured in the "wars around the world" site
Originally posted on September 1, 2005: In recent months Venezuelan leaders, including the country's demagogic president, Hugo Chavez, have made numerous public statements about the "reunification" of the islands of the Dutch West Indies (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) with Venezuela. Venezuelan violations of Dutch air space and territorial waters, including illegal over flights by military aircraft, have occurred with some frequency. In addition, Venezuelan authorities have urged residents of the islands to form "Bolivarian" cells, in support of eventual "reunification." The Netherlands is taking these Venezuelan actions seriously. In addition to scheduling a meeting between a high level Dutch official and Chavez in a couple of weeks, the Dutch have reinforced their West Indian garrison (with consists of a small naval contingent, a battalion of infantry, and some helicopters) with a flight of F-16s. The Dutch government also intends to take the matter up with the European Union, where they are likely to be supported by Britain (given that some other territories on which Venezuela is laying claims, such as Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana, are members of the Commonwealth) and France (which also has overseas territories in the Caribbean).

The islands are legally integral parts of the national territory of The Netherlands. The inhabitants, most of whom are of African or mixed Afro-European descent, are fully represented in the Dutch parliament. None of the local political parties or leaders support either independence or annexation to Venezuela. This call for the creation of "Greater Venezuela" has no basis in historical fact, and is mainly another ploy by the Chavez to entertain in Venezuelan supporters. Chavez is joining with his new friend, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, in opposing colonialism in the Caribbean. This ignores the fact that the "colonies" are democratic and prosperous. Castro has been going on about this for decades, with little to show for it. It's unlikely that Chavez will do any better.
Peace-loving Socialists of the world UNITE!

The Real Cause of Katrina

Lou Minatti consults an unimpeachable source.

German Election Analysis Part 2

Monday, September 19, 2005

When The Sane Left Confronts The Lunatic Left Updated

Original post updated here.

Bloggers Know What 60 Minutes Doesn't

The Belmont Club considers What is Essential and Invisible to the Eye in the context of the video "Pallywood".
Little Green Footballs and Mudville Gazette both have a link to Dr. Richard Landes' Pallywood, a .wmv that can be downloaded and viewed. It is a short video that focuses on footage of Palestinians besieging an Israeli checkpoint that is used in 60 Minutes. Landes uses the outtakes and a frame by frame analysis to show, convincingly in my view, that much of it was entirely faked.
. . . . .
Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that 'the Israelis and the US military are also cooking up stories' and feeding this fiction to the public via the press. Rather than being a counter-argument this tu quoque is simply an acknowledgement of worse: that the entire information-gathering arm of the press, which is what civilians have for an intelligence service (emphasis added - ed.), is potentially debased. Whatever one's politics or point of view this is clearly an unacceptable state of affairs.
Go to Wretchard's post for the link to the video and the full story.

Venezuela Watch 9/19/05

Heavy-Handed Politics gives us excerpts from an article entitled The Curse of the Petro-State:The Example of Venezuela in his post Reflections from Latin America. This analysis helps one understand the appeal of the Marxist Chavez in the petro-state of Venezuela.

On Why I Own A Cat

From Dust My Broom: Priceless

On the other hand, there is that "kitty yoga" thing.

Understanding The German Election

  1. From Davids Medienkritik: Official Provisional Results: Quagmire in Germany
  2. From the BBC: Merkel ahead in tight German vote
    CDU/CSU: 35.2% (225 seats)
    SPD: 34.3% (222)
    Free Democrats: 9.8% (61)
    Left Party: 8.7% (54)
    Greens: 8.1% (51)
    . . . . .
    Mrs Merkel is unlikely to be able to form her preferred coalition and may have to join with the centre-left SPD.
    . . . . .
    The CDU's intended coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats, did well with 9.8%, giving them 61 seats - but not well enough to secure a joint majority.

    The Left party, newly formed from disenchanted SPD members and former communists, took 8.7% (54 seats), and the Greens, Mr Schroeder's coalition partner, won 8.1% (51 seats).

    Turnout was 77.7%.
    . . . . .
    The economy was a key issue in the election.

    With sluggish growth and unemployment remaining above 11%, the two main parties have argued ferociously over the nature of economic reforms they both say are necessary.

    Mr Schroeder defended the labour and welfare changes he has set in motion, saying Mrs Merkel's more liberal proposals on tax and labour reform go too far.

    The two sides also differ on Germany's direction in the world.

    Mr Schroeder has joined France in trying to counter US global dominance, while Mrs Merkel said if she won she would mend fences with Washington.
  3. From Davids Medienkritik:
  4. From Captain's Quarters: Stalemate In The Bundestag

Sunday, September 18, 2005

German Elections Still Up In The Air

From Davids Medienkritik 2005 German National Election: Unexpected Results:
+++UPDATE+++: Because of the relatively close CDU-CSU results relative to the SPD, both Schroeder and Merkel are laying claim to the Chancellery. It still looks like the CDU-CSU has the better position, but anything is possible, with Schroeder pointing to the fact that he is far more popular than Merkel in a one-on-one comparison. It may be that the distribution of seats is a virtual tie between the CDU-CSU and SPD because of the direct election of candidates. In the case that the SPD ties or pulls slightly ahead in terms of overall seats, Schroeder may still be able to remain Chancellor.
From EU Referendum - Paralysis in Berlin
That is the verdict of The Guardian, one of the first of the British newspapers to respond to the German general election. There is a good chance, it says, that the near-stalemate will lead to a grand coalition of the two biggest parties - and to stagnation instead of reform.

Making Wisconsin a Red State in 2008

Friday, September 16, 2005

More Violence against the McCartneys

As if the murder of Robert McCartney wasn't enough, violence against the McCartney family and friends continues. From Slugger O'Toole:
His sister Catherine McCartney further alleged that: "The same men who were involved in Robert’s murder are walking around this area in a show of strength. They’re demonstrating that, in spite of all the talk that they have been put out of the IRA. They haven’t".
  1. Slugger O'Toole:
  2. Everything Ulster
This criminal behavior makes no sense in view of the republican struggle (please excuse the political correctness), but rather is more evidence of this.

Some People You Can't Help

You can take the people out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the people. Read about the new Gaza Strip here.

Welcome Back, Blogger

The War Room is back from his honey moon and publishing again. Get his take on the state of the Canadian Conservatives here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

When The Sane Left Confronts The Lunatic Left

Christopher Hitchens debates George Galloway on the topic of the war in Iraq. Small dead animals points us here for the streaming audio. Skip parts one, two, and seven , which are not part of the debate - unless you really enjoy grinding your teeth. (Update 9/18/05: If you select the individual links, you will find that one section is duplicated. This means one section is missing. If you download the entire show, this problem does not exist. This was the case when this post was originally published - perhaps the good folks at the KPFT website have repaired that link at this time.)
UPDATE: Analysis of the debate from:And then we have ROVE-GALLOWAY CONNECTION REVEALED
Leftoid Greg Palast admits: "I was suckered by Galloway." But who does he blame? Why, scheming Republicans, of course:

Where did this guy come from? Who invited him here? The answer: US Senate REPUBLICANS. As Cindy Sheehan was gathering public sympathy as the Gold Star mom against the killing in Iraq, the Republican party decided to import an easier target to pummel. So they brought over the "I-salute-your-courage, Saddam" religious fundamentalist crack-pot who can't tell us where the money went.

That’s why the Republicans chose him for us. This gross cartoon from abroad whose "charity" is stuffed with loot from an Oil-for-Food profiteer is the image they prefer on TV to Cindy Sheehan whom they dare not confront ...

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to let Karl Rove or some sick GOP Senator pick my heroes for me.

You'll do as you're told, Palast.
Read the rest of Palast article, it gets even better. I'm not entirely sure Palast didn't plagiarize his material from BlameBush!.

Photo Op

Barcepundit asks, " "DOES MY ROCK look big on this?"

How Free Is NAFTA Trade?

"Dust My Broom" gives a Canadian perspective on fairness in trading soft-woods with the USA. This is a comprehensive listing of posts on the topic. Start with"Softwoods watch - another soft victory" and Softwoods Watch - Coming to the end?. It looks like the marketplace (think "Katrina") will do what courts and governments could not, read "Softwoods Watch - Bush thinking it over.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I Mean This In A Loving Sort Of Way

CORRECTION: Fellow MOBster EckerNet has clarified how this happens in his post How Google Plans To Conquer The Free World....And Other Half Truths. Rats, I was just starting to investigate the "Illuminati - Council On Foreign Relations" connection. (Thanks for the correction.)
Some ugly little turd at Google is having a good time.
Read Games with Google.

Lessons Learned From Katrina

Heavy-Handed Politics notes that Iran is taking notes.

Bogus On the Belgian Hit Parade

There's a catchy new song sweeping the charts in Bulgaria Bel-Air Belize Belgium.
Doug keeps the beat while handing out a beating. Read about"Weg met Amerika".

Monday, September 12, 2005

Meet The Pope's Counselor On Islam

From Insight Scoop:
Professor Lamin Sanneh, who is the D. Willis James Professor of Missions & World Christianity at Yale University, has been appointed consultor to Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (hat tip to Catholic World News). The October 2003 issue of Christianity Today has a fascinating interview with Sanneh, who describes his conversion to Catholicism and the major misunderstandings that exist between Muslims and Christians.
The Christianity Today article is well worth the read. His analysis of Christianity in the West, particuarly the battle within the Anglican Communion, is very enlightening.

Friday, September 09, 2005

"T" Stands For Total Depravity

Context for understanding New Orleans:
The storm may have triggered the violence, but it did not cause it. What we saw in New Orleans was what happens in America’s most murderous city when the criminals realize that all the cops have left.

It wasn’t desperation, or insanity, or protest. It was New Orleans, without police.

Many people believe that Washington, D.C., is the “murder capital of America.” And indeed it often is, but that is only because such rankings are limited to “major cities” –those with a population of 500,000 or more, and New Orleans has (or had) a population of 485,000. Were it not for this actuarial accident, Washington, D.C.. wouldn’t even have a shot at the murder title. The per capita murder rate in New Orleans is 16% higher than in “Murder Capital” Washington, D.C.; and nearly 10 times the national average. To have a murder rate equal to that of New York City, New Orleans would need to reduce its murders by 86%. No, that’s not a typo.
Read the rest here. (Hat tip to Tim Blair.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Religious Freedom News Roundup

  1. Breaking News Venezuela: Chavez's supporters seize church
    A church located southeast of Caracas in "Barrio El Winche" of Fila de Mariches and attended by the congregation of Laura Sisters and the Salesian Fathers has been invaded and taken over by supporters of Hugo Chavez, El Universal reports today. Members of Endogenous Battle Units (Unidades de Batalla Endogenas or UBE) -a Chavez invention to create a new democratic model of popular support- expressed that the action was taken in order to establish, in the church, a post of military security that shall be manned by Venezuela's National Guard.
  2. Pastor is Hauled Before Tribunal Over Gay Comments
    Politically incorrect in Canada? You'll get arrested. The end of free speech.
    The London Fog is not sympathetic and apparently values the right to not be offended over the right to free political and religious speech.

    At least 14 houses belonging to residents of the Arab Christian town of Taiba northeast of Ramallah, were torched by Muslims from neighboring Deir Jarir on Sunday, to avenge what they termed the dishonor of a Muslim woman.
    . . . . .
    A security sources said the rampage was triggered by an incident last week in which a 30-year-old woman was made to drink poison by her relatives because they suspected her of carrying on a romance with a Christian man from the village - thought by scholars to be the city of Ephraim to which Jesus and his disciples went in John chapter 11.

    The woman was quickly buried, but last Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority police exhumed the body for an autopsy angering relatives. So-called Muslim 'honor killings' are common throughout the Middle East but attract only minimal sentences due to their widespread cultural acceptance as an integral part of Islamic 'Sharia' law.
    If this makes absolutely no sense to you, then please consult the Muslim Mind Map. (Hat tip to The Belmont Club.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bears: Canadian And Russian

Canada: Canadian bears be aware - Nugent is coming - on bear terrorism and it's remedy.

Russia: Will Russia start reconstructing borders?. Russia seems to be lusting after it's Baltic neighbors.
What, one might ask, is the reaction of the European Union to this rather curious development on its eastern border? None, it seems. At any rate, Russian politicians have pointed out that there is no evidence that the EU is standing behind Estonia in what they describe as a “bilateral dispute”. It seems all disputes on the eastern border remain bilateral.
Get a history lesson and an update.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Shifting Strategic Alliances

Since the EU Constitution seems to be dead in the water, EU Referendum has expanded it coverage of other topics. A post entitled The realignment continues eplores the changing relationship between Australia and the United States.
US President Bush, it reports, has issued a decree changed US national disclosure policy, upgrading Australia to the highest rank of intelligence partner that the US has in the world. Australia's new status is equalled only by Britain and vastly expands the quantity and quality of US intelligence our agencies receive.
Also given coverage is Europe's changing relationship with China. A post entitled Christmas time for China, the author explores Europe's financing of and technological transfers to China.
Yesterday, we also head from The Financial Times that the EU is to fund China's development of a low-emission coal-fired power station, paying the (unspecified) difference between the cost of a conventional plant and one equipped to demonstrate technologies both for carbon capture and storage and for clean coal.

What the EU thinks it is doing can only be imagined, as China is way ahead of Europe in the development of nuclear power, not least with pebble bed technology and could well leave nuclear-averse Western nations trailing behind in the electricity generation stakes
Just in case you missed the coveage in your local newspaper, there is an election coming up in Germany. Germany calling gives context for the election.
What is not possibly realised abroad is quite how much Schröder’s Social Democrats are playing the anti-American card, to which we to which we referred to earlier, but a graphic illustration of this can be seen from this picture of a recent election rally – redolant more of a third world country, like Iran, than a supposedly civilised country like Germany.
Image hosted by
Evidently, the Socialists consider Christian Democrat Merkel to be more than "in the pocket" of Uncle Sam.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Comprehensive Venezuela News Source

Read Venezuela Today. From their header:
Fact: In the 1999 Vargas disaster, at the request of the Venezuelan government and coordinated by the Venezuelan military, the U.S. rushed two navy vessels with hundreds of members of the Army's Corp of Engineers with military bridges, tents, and water treatment and desalination plants. With one of the ships at sea and the other about to sail, Hugo Chávez refused the aid offer following Fidel Castro's advice. The aborted operation cost the U.S. $25 million.
Venezuela Today has a comprehensive listing of Venezuelan and other news and opinion sources. Content ranges from video to editorials tonewspaperss to blogs. They include an extensive listing of pro-Chavez (Bolivarian) sources. (Hat tip to and The Devils Excrement.)

What Was He Thinking?! Part 2

Read The Anatomy of the Arab Mind. to find out. (Hat tip to Barcepundit.)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Help For "The Least Of These"

Solaman has published a list of places to donate as a way of assisting those effected by hurricane Katrina. He also published a rationale for "giving early and often". Some of you will recognize the ancient text. ("Used by permission")

Friday, September 02, 2005

EU Constitution Defeated By Net

From EU Referendum:
According to a UPI report, published on the Science Daily site, the internet in France was a potent source of opposition to the EU constitution. . . . .
Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Stop The Fighting Irish!

What do they have against Notre Dame? Slugger O'Toole explores the controversy here.

Candy Is Dandy, But Liquor Is Quicker

Arlen Specter Is a Cheap Date for Venezuela's Dictator
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is buying MiGs from Russia and stockpiling AK-47s that intelligence reports suggest are meant for his paramilitary sympathizers at home and around the region. Using his oil wealth and what he's learned from Fidel Castro, he is actively funding anti-Americanism all over Latin America and working to destabilize legitimate governments. He makes no secret of his cozy relationship with Iran's mullahs and China's military men.

But never mind all that. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter wants the U.S. to make nice with the bully so that we can fight the "war on drugs" together.

Correcting Paul Krugman On Vote Counting

Richard Baehr concludes:
Krugman's admission that the US Supreme Court DID NOT change the result in Florida is important. He now admits that the recount that had been ordered by the very Gore friendly Florida Supreme Court would have shown Bush to be the winner, had it not been interrupted by the US Supreme Court. There are quite a few partisans on the left who still have not "received" this message. If they won't believe Paul Krugman, who will they believe?
Read the analysis here.