Thursday, September 30, 2004

EU Gives Green Light: MCI Worldcom Can Buy Sprint!

Better late than never, they must have thought when yesterday the EU's antitrust cops preventing the takeover from materializing in 2000 saw themselves reversed in an appeals tribunal. The Wall Street Journal from yesterday (page A16, link requires registration):

BRUSSELS -- In a fresh blow to Europe's antitrust enforcers, a top appeals tribunal said regulators wrongly blocked MCI WorldCom's aborted bid to buy Sprint Corp. in 2000.

While yesterday's ruling doesn't resurrect the deal, it improves the prospects that MCI, the successor firm that emerged from U.S. bankruptcy court earlier this year, could win European regulatory approval for a future merger. At the same time, the decision underscores European Union judges' willingness to overturn antitrust rulings, only days before EU lawyers are scheduled to urge the same court to implement antitrust sanctions against Microsoft Corp. EU officials also warned that it could encourage companies to withdraw mergers at the last minute to avoid negative rulings.
Wait a second, 'MCI, the successor firm that emerged from U.S. bankruptcy court earlier this year'?

Huh? I thought it was MFS Worldcom?

Spain Considers U.S. Army Terrorists

I hope the feces are going to hit the air ventilation systems over this one. The Spanish parliament yesterday decided to consider José Couso, a Spanish camera man for TeleCinco, a victim of terrorism.

Couso was killed by American fire while filming from his balcony in the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad on April 8, during the American liberation of that city. There was an investigation by the US Army, which concluded that the tank commander acted correctly. There were snipers in the area, and the lense of a camera flickering in the sun can be similar to that of a sniper's scope or a spotter's binoculars. The U.S. Army did apologize for the matter to Spain's --then-- Aznar government, which considered the matter closed.

Not so for the Socialists, and in their all-consuming hate for everything Aznar has done for this country, the prime directive for Zapatero's government seems to be to revise history wherever possible. Add to this the virulent anti-Americanism present in his government, and Prime Minister Zapatero's stance of actively undermining US foreign policy and thereby indirectly putting American GIs as well as the Iraqi population under increased threat, as well as seeking alignment with Arab dictatorships, the next low for the Spanish socialists had to be to accuse the Americans of terrorism.

The Communist left (IU) together with a regional ecological party have introduced a bill in parliament, which would consider José Couso's death an act of 'international terrorism'. Zapatero's Socialists have said to support the bill, focusing for their part on the state benefits his family will receive because of this, the intention of the bill is clear: The U.S. Army are terrorists.

If they want to pay his family benefits, there's a million different ways to do so in this Keynesian wet dream of a country.

Former Prime Minister Aznar's Partido Popular party is against it, logically one would want to think, but in this country I sometimes get the impression that everything has been put upside down since Al Qaeda chased them out of Iraq.

I sincerely hope the United States lodge a formal complaint with the Spanish government on this.

Another Victory For Al Qaeda In The Making?

Spanish news agency EFE reports on the Spanish contingent deployed in Afghanistan (no link available, but copied in full):


Spain to bring home battalion from Afghanistan after elections
Kabul, Sep 30 (EFE).- Spain's defense minister said here Thursday that about half of his nation's thousand-plus contingent of soldiers in Afghanistan will be brought home following elections next month.

Defense Minister Jose Bono commented after meeting with President Hamid Karzai, a candidate in elections set for Oct. 9.
He said Karzai asked him for an extension of the presence of the Spanish contingent. The minister said he told the Afghan leader that the soldiers running a field hospital in Kabul would remain, but that a 500-strong battalion in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif would be brought home following the vote.
Bono was accompanied here by high-ranking military officers and a delegation of legislators.
Though the Socialist government withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq soon after taking office in April, the deployment of 1,040 soldiers to Afghanistan, where a U.N. mandate is in effect, was approved by the administration and congress in July. EFE aam/dgm
Note the 'where a U.N. mandate is in effect'. Hey Bono, Iraq has a U.N. Mandate too!

But seriously, I have said it before, by giving off such a clear timeline for withdrawal, combined with Spain's retreat from Iraq in the face of Al Qaeda's bombings in Madrid, this government is inviting another attack, either here in Spain, or on its troops in Afghanistan, towards the end of their stay.

If Spain would decide to stay afterwards, it would do so accepting the theory that their retreat from Iraq was in effect a victory for Al Qaeda, contrary to what the Socialist government has been claiming to anyone who would care to listen.

If Spain would decide to stick to their 'but it was a promise to the Spanish people' spiel, they would also have to retreat from Afghanistan at the set date, again claiming this was promised to the Spaniards. Which means that with an attack, followed by an --again-- much publicized retreat, this time from Afghanistan, Zapatero would have handed Al Qaeda a Game, Set and Match.

To open the door for evicting the Spaniards from the last muslim lands they occupy, Al Andalus.

As a reminder to Spanish readers, Spanish television (Tele5) will broadcast the first debate between President Bush and Senator Kerry tonight (3 AM local). Hopefully someone at Tele5 will do live subtitles instead of the horrible live translating, which over the years has caused me to develop a hearing comparable to that of a dog, listening through the translator's voice to pick up the English in the background.

Still, better than having to beg my neighbor to watch it on satellite.

The Algerian security forces have clashed with an Al Qaeda-linked GSPC group outside the village of Aïn El-Hammam yesterday, some 50 kilometers from Tizi Ouzou. Algerian newspaper Liberté reports on it (link in French) and says that in the encounter and ensuing gun fight which lasted for some fifteen hours, security forces killed one terrorist and captured another, while three more escaped. At the time of the report, a big anti-terror operation was said to be underway in the region of Tizi Ouzou, with government forces putting up checkpoints along the highways.

There is an army base some ten kilometers from where it happened. Even though a lot of stories are circulating about the demise of the GSPC, I just never get the impression that this is a group on the run.

Saudi Imam Financed 3/11 Plotter

Spanish newspaper El Mundo (link in Spanish) writes on new details filtering out of phone conversations by Rabei Osman, aka 'The Egyptian', which were tapped by Italian police in Milan on 26 May, two weeks before his arrest. Osman is seen as one of the main plotters of the March 11 Madrid bomb attacks.

It turns out Osman was financed by a radical Saudi Wahhabi (or more correctly, Salafist) imam called Salman Al Aouda. Al Aouda was arrested by the Saudis in 1994 for his activities against the House Al Saud, as head of the 'Batallion of Faith'. Very little information is publicly available about this guy, although the article does describe him as being a high ranking Al Qaeda member and a 'precursor' to Al Qaeda, as a historical opponent of the House Al Saud.

The report also mentions that Osman talked of a friend in Germany, who needed money for a 'project' there named 'Nour' (a common Arab name), which entailed the construction of islamic schools.

Personally, I don't believe Al Aouda would be an operational Al Qaeda member, an inspirational figure, yes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

France's Foot In Baghdad's Door (Part II)

Little Green Footballs points to an International Herald Tribune article on a proposed international conference on Iraq:

France said Monday that it would take part in a proposed international conference on Iraq only if the agenda included a possible U.S. troop withdrawal, thus complicating the planning for a meeting that has drawn mixed reactions.

Paris also wants representatives of Iraq's insurgent groups to be invited to a conference in October or November, a call that would seem difficult for the Bush administration to accept.
We've posted on France's possible Quid Pro Quo deal with Iraqi hostage takers holding two French journalists before. As news on the whereabouts or status of the journalists remain blurry (dead, being sold from group to group, working for Al Jazeerah), it may well be the case that their hostage takers have asked the French government of some proof of their abilities to influence the Iraqi process, and obtain a role for the terrorists.

Very sickening. My first thought was, what would Kerry think of all this? He has been to Paris before to meet with the enemy. Poor Kerry, history is catching up with him fast.

UPDATE: I started writing this post yesterday, and meanwhile the good news about the release of Italian hostages has been replaced by worries about a possible ransom having been paid. This spells more trouble for foreigners in Iraq.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Free Cuban Prisoners Of Conscience

We posted before on Spain's former prime minister José Maria Aznar's speech at the presentation of the Manifesto for the liberation of Cuban prisoners of conscience- At the time, the manifest could not be signed online, nor was there an English version available.

I'm happy to let you know that this has now been taken care of, and both a Spanish as well as an English version of the Manifesto can be read and signed online.

If you care for Cuba's freedom loving political activists (which, by the mere fact of having and expressing a different opinion than the regime's line, anybody automatically becomes an activist), than here's your chance to show it.

If you have a blog, please take a moment to link to this post, or to make your own!

Socialist International

Spain's Minister of Retreat Defense, José Bono, paid a surprise visit to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez last Friday, on his way back from Colombia, due to a tecnical failure of his airplane. Chavez, who happens to be shopping for arms which he doesn't really need, other than threaten his neighbors and oppress his own people.

Bono recently cancelled the sale, agreed by the last government of Aznar, to Colombia of 46 AMX-30 tanks and 20 howitzers to Colombia. Instead, Bono announced during his visit the donation of two C-212 military transport aircraft that can be used for medevac, along with supplies for a field hospital.

So no arms sales to Colombia, which fights FARC terrorists, drug lords and other thugs, instead donating material that can be used to retreat.

Venezualan strongman Hugo Chavez refuses to see FARC as terrorists. Last week, a cross-border attack on Venezualan oil installations was dismissed at first to be FARC, according to Colombia intelligence, instead insisting the hand of right-wing President Uribe was in a presumed attempt to destabilize Venezuela.

My take is that with Chavez' offensive arms buying spree, his lack of support at home (I agree with Thomas Barnett that at some point he will declare himself President-For-Life), and his lackluster condemnation of FARC (some even say covert support), he may be in cahoots with the FARC in trying to set the stage for a small border war with Colombia, as do all dictators who need to shift focus at some stage.

Last Sunday, during his weekly radio show, he praised Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Zapatero's plan for his Alliance of Civilizations and announced he would put Venezuela's support behind it.

So briefly, we have Spain cancelling arm sales to Colombia, a cross-border FARC attack on Venezuelan oil installations, a Spanish Minister of Retreat Defense who needs to touch down after engine problems in Venezuela, Chavez' support for Zapatero's Surrender to Jihad two days later, and finally Chavez visiting Spain on a state visit, possibly as early as November. Will they talk arms sales? Possibly, as Spain's socialists are looking for ways to keep their naval shipyards open.

It's a bridge too far to claim that Spain might be aiding Venezuela in a possible conflict with Colombia. What is emerging is that Spain's new Socialist government now not only seeks to move itself closer to the Arab World, but is also actively distancing itself from struggling democracies, instead seeking to align itself more with Socialist regimes around the world, even if they are a destabilizing factor in the region. Arms sales to Venezuela would be a very strong indicator of this new alignment.

CEO Blogs

Hmm, don't know what to make of this. TheNewPR.com has a listing (actually, it's a Wiki, but for some reason I cannot rationally explain, I hate that word. Brings up images of lefties sitting on the floor of some run-down building, sharing stuff) of CEOs blogging, next to their daily CEO activities. Among the more famous CEOs or famous companies represented, there's Tucows' Eliot Noss, Dallas Mavericks owner Marc Cuban, the FCC's Michael Powell (although apparently some doubt that it is a blog), VOIP guru Jeff Pulver and Sun Sytems COO Jonathan Schwartz.

For some reason there's a huge list of French CEOs, all blogging. Guess their economy is doing so great, they have lots of time left to blog. Or maybe the trade unions run the companies there, who knows.

The fact that it is listed at some PR organization, strenghtens my belief in the 'sincerity' or maybe even personalness of some of these blogs. I can imagine that at least for publicly traded companies, the posts would need to be revised, or edited. Or maybe its just an instrument to talk up the stock price. Anyhow, anyone blogging as a CEO would be worth reading with extra scepsis.

Friday, September 24, 2004

"That's My President, Hooah!"

Blogsforbush.com has this wonderful post on President Bush's surprise visit with troops heading out to Iraq:


The soldiers mostly had cameras ready to take snapshots of Bush. Several requested autographs. They called out phrases such as "this is awesome." The president put a tie and suit jacket on after the rally and walked down one aisle and back up the other, offering gentle smiles and words such as "I'm proud of you" and "thank you." Pool was not close enough to hear any more than that. As he got to the rear of the plane, Sgt. Wanda Dabbs, 22, of the 230th, called out, "That's my president, hooah!" and there were cheers. At the end of the handshakes on the packed, hot plane, Bush got on the PA system from the middle galley. "I appreciate being president to such fine men and women. May God bless you all. May God keep you safe." Potus took the limo the few hundred yards between the two planes.
Go there, read it all, it's great.

PayPal Doesn't Get It

Last post for the day, if you use Paypal, either to send or to receive payments, this is for you. Go over to Daily Pundit and read the mail they got regarding PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy, and shutting down his account.

To appeal the limitation on your account, you will need to:

1. Remove those items from your website that violate PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy. For example, any link to images or videos of terrorsit executions; and
Daily Pundit is a blog, of course, and links to news stories, like any other blog would do. News stories like terrorists beheading foreigners in Iraq, and yes, the footage too. What, pictures and videos of Abu Ghraib are allowed, but not beheadings by terrorists? Who are PayPal to decide what is acceptable and what isn't?

I understand the AUP, I just think they applied it wrongly in this case.

I mailed PayPal from their site (they do not have an email address, although you may try service@paypal.com or service@int.paypal.com), and I would tell other bloggers using PayPal (for whatever reason) to do the same.

Movie Tips To Impress Your Left-Wing Wacko Girlfriend

I'm sure this beauty will be all over self-respecting and America-loathing film houses in Spain shortly: The Take, by Avi Lewis and "the poster girl of brainless anti-global left and the global village idiot", Naomi Klein. 'The Take' is set in Argentina, and examines the grass-roots cooperative movement in financially devastated Argentina, raises basic questions about economics, government and human nature.

TimesWatch.org reports on how at the New York Times, Stephen Holden apparently does not see Marxism as a bad thing:

After a one-sided look at Argentina's post-privatization woes, Holden concludes with a warning that Marxist gains may not last forever and that individualistic greed could always resurface. Yet Holden holds out hope about "humanity" (seemingly identified here as acceptance of neo-Marxist dogma): "Even given the rosiest financial scenario, at what point do the old ways resurface and brute self-interest and corruption kick in? After watching the film, your outlook will depend on the degree of your belief in humanity and your familiarity with history. Whatever happens, the movement still faces an uphill battle."
The review can be found here (registration required). Spanish readers need not read it, as the Spanish press will write even more 'passionate' reviews, I'm sure. I'll make a mental note to translate one to prove it.

The Red-Green Alliance

Barcepundit's Franco Aleman must have recovered from reading this profile of Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero in Time Magazine (go on, read it and pity us here! Quote: "I don't want to be a great leader"), because he has a post up on which I had some thoughts, too.

He notes that after the Madrid attacks on March 11 of this year, imprisoned ETA terrorists celebrated together with Algerian (GIA, GSPC) terrorists also in prison.

Very disturbing, but hardly surprising. Former Prime Minister José Maria Aznar to this date does not want to discard a possible link between Spain's Marxist-Separatist ETA and Al Qaeda. There are proven contacts between ETA and Algerian terrorists and ETA members attending their training camps in Algeria, going back to the early nineties.

Of course, most Western intellectuals and governments refuse to believe links exist between classical Marxist terrorist groups and the Islamist kind. Samizdata once pointed me to an article by Waller R. Newell, titled: "Postmodern Jihad: What Osama bin Laden learned from the Left." It's an eye-opener:

THE RELATIONSHIP between postmodernist European leftism and Islamic radicalism is a two-way street: Not only have Islamists drawn on the legacy of the European Left, but European Marxists have taken heart from Islamic terrorists who seemed close to achieving the longed-for revolution against American hegemony. Consider Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, two leading avatars of postmodernism. Foucault was sent by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera to observe the Iranian revolution and the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Like Sartre, who had rhapsodized over the Algerian revolution, Foucault was enthralled, pronouncing Khomeini "a kind of mystic saint." The Frenchman welcomed "Islamic government" as a new form of "political spirituality" that could inspire Western radicals to combat capitalist hegemony.
Samizdata comments:
Derrida reacted to the collapse of the Soviet Union by calling for a "new international." Whereas the old international was made up of the economically oppressed, a new alliance of “the dispossessed and the marginalized" would unite to combat American led globalization.

Newell notes that Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in their recent potboiler Empire depict an American dominated global order as the contemporary version of the bourgeoisie, with Islamist terrorism the spearhead of "the post-modern revolution" against "the new imperial order." Why? Because of "its refusal of modernity as a weapon of Euro-American hegemony."

What the terrorists have in common with that strand of European nihilism, whose consequences in Europe in the C20th were millions of deaths, is belief in the primacy of the radical will, unrestrained by any existing moral teachings. This is the reason why Al Qaeda finds it easy to ignore the teachings of mainstream Islam, which prohibits the deliberate killing of non-combatants; they not only hate their [former] selves, they not only hate the [contemporary] world, their religion is based upon hatred of God.
Read them both, and José Maria Aznar's assumption of a possible cooperation between Red and Green in the March 11 attacks on Madrid will not seem so out of this world anymore.

Internal Struggles Within GSPC

Algerian newspaper Liberté runs a story about the Al Qaeda-linked Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, or GSPC by its French acronym, which according to their reporting is faced with internal struggles (link in French) over control of the organization.

Recently, the GSPC announced the appointment of Abou Mossab Abdelouadoud, or Abdelmalek Dourkdal as his real name is, as its new emir. After the death of GSPC leaders Hassan Hattab and Nabil Sahraoui and the capture of his second in command, Amari Saifi, alias Abderrazak el Para, by Chadian rebel group MDJT.

It now seems that Abou Mossab appointed himself in a power vacuum, and that some regional GSPC leaders or emirs refuse to pledge allegiance to him. Some local GSPC emirs have even given orders to their commanders to kill Mossab when encountered.

The operational structure of the GSPC is that of regional commanders or emirs, which 'control' an area of a few hundred square kilometers, each with no more than approximately one hundred men.

Liberté gives as main reasons for the infighting the intention of Mossab to open a second front with terrorist attacks in Mila province, where a local and dissenting GSPC emir would face the full brunt of the security forces response. This supposedly to take off pressure on GSPC strongholds in Boumerdès, where the GSPC has been put on the defense since the security forces' offensive which started in August. But it is widely seen as an attempt by Mossab to consolidate his leadership, at the expense of dissenters.

And finally money. According to Liberté, a lot of the internal struggle also has to do with how the spoils of the GSPC terror campaigns should be divided.

As for my own thoughts, this infighting could have been expected, and reminds me of the Israeli targeted killings of Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations' leaders. By assuring that no new leader can take the reigns, the Israelis have provoked infighting among the Palestinian factions. The leadership crisis within the GSPC, with its strong regional command structure, shows similar signs now that its leaders are dead or captured. But it also means that the pressure is on the Algerian government now to ensure this crisis endures, which is difficult with limited military means and regional GSPC leaders which are harder to target.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

No, I'm Just Browsing...

In between things, a quick look into my trusty RSS feed reader tells me that Jayson Blair is rooting for Dan Rather. Quote: "I’d give up the book royalties if I could get my credibility and career back." Jayson, unlike Dan Rather, you never had any credibility to lose.

Andrew McCarthy at National Review has some thoughts on Kerry's Iraq end strategy, and a reminder that we are not at war with 'terrorism', but with militant Islam. An undefinable enemy makes it easy for detractors to question if President Bush hasn't lost sight, he writes. He also points out (like so many before him) how Iraq ties into this war on militant Islam.

Dhimmi Watch reports on 'Europe's Chief Dhimmi', Spain's Zapatero. Though our post is better I think, he usually gets really good commentaries in the comments section at the end...

A post I definitely want to mention is Belmont's thoughts on the Human Security Doctrine For Europe, The EU's response on the Bush Doctrine. Al Qaeda chiefs must be wetting themselves reading this utterly preposterous document. The comments section is also laden with arguments on how this is nothing but a 'not American' policy document which, if indeed leads to the formation of a Human Security Force (with civil servants!), will never ever get to a war zone. Ever. Which is precisely what they intended in the first place, I suppose.

Chrenkoff has a good post on the UN's Security Council, and the objections that new prospective members are causing among the current members and others. Japan, Germany, India and Brazil are all hoping to be included. Kofi Anan must be hoping that all UN members can join, so he can finally pass one of those anti-Israeli resolutions piling on his desk. Personally, I think this will only speed up the UN's desintegration. Maybe the Human Security Force can take over the humanitarian work afterwards.

A good initiative: If you're Spanish, or live in Spain, go over to HazteOir.org, where they're campaigning against Spain's government appeasing foreign policies, calling on other nations to follow Spain's lead and pull out of Iraq, while at the same time terrorist scum beheading innocents are demanding the same thing. You can sign a petition, aptly called 'Not In My Name!' distancing yourself from the Spanish government's actions while thanking the 17 countries with troops in Iraq. The petition will be sent to their embassies in Spain.

MERIA, the Middle Eastern Review of International Affairs, has its September issue out, and includes this article on Israel's experience with living under a WMD threat, and the lessons for Europe. Read it, I may come back on this at another time.

The Belgravia Dispatch (which, among blog names, ranks among the best in my book) also caught up with Zapatero's mini-summit in Madrid last week, on which we posted here. He ties it with Europe's reluctancy to pay on the debt owned to the United States for saving their Euro-butts time after time during the last 90 years, to close with a thought on the "states have no friends, they have interests" meme. Which goes both ways. Looking at Spain, my take is to close all bases here, especially the naval base at Rota. Replace it with one or two similar, but preferably smaller naval bases, one in Tunesia or Algeria and one in Morocco, in its Western Sahara territory.

Then, the Journal of ChuckB (Public Librarian #1, I imagine) has a doom-and-gloom post on Europe's economic prospects, and asks why the US would possibly want to look more like Europe. Why indeed?

Finally, some quickies (always good for the trackback visitors, hehe): Michelle Malkin tells us how to win a behind-the-scenes tour at CBS' 60 Minutes, the Eleven Day Empire hosts this week's Carnival of the Vanities, Outside the Beltway reports on constitutional gerrymandering in Colorado, and carries the Traffic Jam as always.

Time for Coffee!

New Blog: NetWar

I just came across a blog called NetWar (don't you love surfing off your site stats?), written (in English and Spanish) by a Spanish guy living in France. He's got some nice thoughts on Spain, worth a visit.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

GSPC Activity Update

Recent reports suggest that Algeria's Al Qaeda-linked GSPC may be down, but definitely not out. UPI reports on a roadside attack last weekend, killing four, during which the terrorist commando took a woman hostage. This seems to be their MO nowadays, posing as soldiers manning road blocks. Note also that their terrorist acts are against Algerians, not just the Algerian government.

Meanwhile, an Algerian was arrested in Peshawar, Pakistan, on suspicion of belonging to Al Qaeda, and another Algerian, with the nom de guerre of Abu Musab, was arrested in Chechnya, reports ITAR-TASS.
Also an update on Algeria's government, which finds itself in the uncomfortable position of having to negotiate with Chad rebel group MDJT for the handover of Abdelzarrak Al Para (to the ire of Chad's government), with possible intervention from Germany (who also want Al Para, and have a history of paying in these affairs).

If you want to read more on the GSPC, try these search results for this blog.

by the way, in the same speech Zapatero mentioned Gibraltar:

I would not wish to conclude my statement without reference to Gibraltar. Every year the General Assembly reiterates its mandates urging Spain and the United Kingdom to pursue bilateral negotiations in order to reach a definitive solution to this dispute. I want to confirm here that my country will maintain its willingness to negotiate a solution that benefits the region as a whole, and to hear the voice of this non-autonomous territory.
Does this mean he's willing to let a referendum in Gibraltar settle the dispute?

Zapatero's World, Insha'allah

Late last night I saw some footage from Spain's Socialist Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, during his speech at the 59th UN General Assembly (or Assembly Of Generals, in reference to the many dictatorships holding equal votes as democracies).

I almost fell out of my chair. The integral text (pdf) of his speech can be found here. I've reprinted some excerpts below (emphasis mine):

...On Terrorism in Spain:
"I am speaking on behalf of a country that has had its share of difficult experiences throughout its history. A country in which still living generations have known a civil war, a dictatorship of almost four decades and a democracy that is now 25 years old. We have also experienced the scourge of terrorism for more than thirty years. Over the last thirty years we, Spanish women and men, have learned much about and from terrorism. We soon learned
about its iniquity. We have learned what it is about. We have learned how to defy it, how to withstand its blows with courage and dignity. We have learned how to fight it."

...On the Madrid attacks and subsequent Spanish response:
"Spanish women and men were not afraid. On the very next day after the bombings, millions of people left their homes, took to the streets and squares of the cities and towns of my country and, once again, we expressed our rejection and disgust, our unanimous contempt for terrorist brutality. From thirty years of terrorism we have learned that the risk of a terrorist victory rises sharply when, in order to fight terror, democracy betrays its fundamental nature, governments curtail civil liberties, put judicial guaranties at risk, or carry out pre-emptive military
operations
. This is what our people have learned: that it is legality, democracy and political means and ways what makes us stronger and them weaker."

...On the 'root causes' meme:
"Nothing justifies terrorism. It is irrational, like the Black Death, but the roots of terrorism, like those of the plague, can and must be uncovered. We can and must
rationally analyse how it emerges, how it grows, so as to be able to fight it rationally. Terrorism is insanity and death and, regrettably, there will always be fanatics who are ready to kill to impose their insanity through force. Ready to disseminate the seed of evil. The seed of evil cannot take root when it falls on
the rock of justice, well-being, freedom and hope; but it can take root if it lands on the soil of injustice, poverty, humiliation and despair. Thus, redressing the major political and economic injustices that affect our world would deprive terrorists of their popular support. The more people there are who enjoy dignified conditions around the world, the safer we will all be."

...On Iraq and Spain's retreat:
"In this context, I would like to speak about Iraq. But above all I would like to speak about the thousands of victims of this conflict, about the Iraqis and about the
soldiers and civilians who lost their lives. We express our permanent solidarity to them and to their countries. The overwhelming majority of people in Spain spoke out
against the war. We were not persuaded by the reasons given by those who promoted the war. We expressed this view both at the Spanish Parliament and in the streets. We spoke out loudly, we shouted. We also said that winning the war would be much easier than winning the peace. Peace must be our endeavour. An endeavour that requires more courage, more determination and more heroism than the war itself. That is why the Spanish troops returned from Iraq."

...On the Alliance Of Civilizations:
"Peace and security will only spread over the world with the strength of international legality, with the strength of human rights, with the strength of democracy, of abidance by the law. With the strength of equality: equality between women and men, equal opportunities, no matter where people are born. With the strength of our rejection against those who manipulate or want to impose any kind of religion or belief. With the strength of education and culture: culture is always peace; let us ensure that our perception of others is coloured with respect. With the strength of dialogue among peoples. Thus, in my capacity as representative of a country created and enriched by divers cultures, before this Assembly I want to propose an Alliance of Civilizations between the Western and the Arab and Muslim worlds. Some years ago a wall collapsed. We must now prevent hatred and incomprehension from building a new wall. Spain wants to submit to the Secretary General, whose work at the head of this organisation we firmly support, the possibility of establishing a High Level Group to push forward this initiative."
On Spain's lessons from 'thirty years of terrorism' (interesting sidenote perhaps, Zapatero starts refering to ETA as terrorists from the death of dictator Franco onwards. ETA was founded in 1969. Does he think they were 'freedom fighters' or 'the resistance' before his death?), Zapatero mentions that Spain has learned that pre-emptive military operations have not worked. Excuse me? I was not aware that Spain even so much as carried out punitive military actions. Except perhaps he is comparing his Socialist predecessor's GAL death squads with the pre-emptive military operations of a democratic nation Like the United States of America? He would be saying the same as Spain's Attorney-General if he did imply that.

After that big slap in the face, there is more. Zapatero brings up Iraq and seeks to explain why Spain retreated in the face of a terrorist onslaught at home (something I'm sure will go down in history as The Big Frustration of this government). Basically, he says that because after the toppling of Saddam's regime, the hard part started, the going got tough, and Spain did not want any part of that. So it wasn't Al Qaeda, he's just a coward in general. And the quote on the peace being an endeavour which requires more courage, heroism even, than war itself. Doesn't that sound like "the peace of the brave"? I'm sure his Foreign Minister and Arafat-buddy Miguel Angel Moratinos was smiling contently when he said that.

Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Zapatero with some of his friends.
The biggest shocker to me, was his suggestion the UN create an 'Alliance of Civilizations', including the Western World and Arab and muslim nations. It is the clearest sign to me that Zapatero has absolutely no clue as to what the War On Islamic Terror is about. It is also a word for word repetition of Irani 'President' Khatami's 1997 call for dialogue with the West.

Zapatero fears that 'hatred and incomprehension' will cause a separation between the islamic Arab world and the West. But he's refering to 'hatred and incomprehension' coming from the West, not the hatred shown in New York, Bali, Istanbul, Casablanca, Ryaad, Madrid, Beslan. A hatred which is as much directed at our lifestyle as it is against the Arab dictatorships with whom Zapatero now wants to form an alliance.

The War on Islamic Terror is not about separating the West from the rest of the world, or 'minding the Gap' in the words of Thomas Barnett. It is about pulling these Arab nations into the fabric of globalization, interconnected economies and free flows of information and ideas. It is about pushing them to reform, while assisting them in the eradication, pre-emptively, of their terrorists. To form an alliance on equal footing with these dictatorships does nothing but sustain the status quo. In fact, it gives them, by siding with the oppressors, yet another tool with which to supress their own peoples and to push us for more concessions on Israel, through incitement of their own populations via mosques and media. Meanwhile feeding the real source of terrorism, not poverty, but Salafist Islam.

At best, I can see Zapatero's pro-Arab government angling for a key role in the UN's Mideast policies, hoping to continue the center stage role under the Aznar government, albeit with a different audience.

At worst, Zapatero is moving his country towards the Arab world, literally positioning itself on the bridge between the West and the Orient. Thoughts of Al Andalus will have passed through a lot of sick minds, yesterday.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Barcelona Terrorist Cell That Wasn't

Where's the outrage? I read on Barcepundit (told you I was busy) that they have finally got around to watching the video tapes they found when arresting ten Pakistanis in Barcelona last week, who belonged to an Al Qaeda terrorist cell (which wasn't a terrorist cell at all, according to the press here, toting the government line, but rather 'organized delinquents' supporting radicals outside of Spain).

And what was on the tapes? Oh, just a one-hour video of Barcelona's Twin Towers.

I do not feel safe here.

It's been a couple of days since my last post, work's been killer --which is good-- but has the effect that blogging has suffered as a result.

I've been thinking a bit about the format of this blog, and what I would feel comfortable with. To me, there's two distinctions between blogs insofar as format is concerned, and that is the 'Pure Blog' and the 'OpEd blog'. A 'Pure Blog' to me is something akin National Review's The Corner, or Instapundit. Quick thoughts, with links and a thought to send somebody off to see what the blogger said was true, or connecting dots for the reader, but leaving to opiniating much more to the original writer to which the blogger refers.

'OpEd Blogs' on the other hand, take the opiniating much more into their own hands. Blogs like Belmont Club are a good example. Very good and lots of respect for these guys by the way, but also very time consuming.

And therein lies my problem, time. So I'm going to try out more rapid postings on interesting articles, still keeping an eye out for terrorism in Northern Africa, and still now and again a more elaborate post, but mainly quick lines and such. For now, we'll see how goes.

Friday, September 17, 2004

South Africa Recognizes Western Sahara

Something I noted earlier, but did not get to because of the El Pais scandal developing, was that earlier this week, South Africa unexpectedly decided to recognize Western Sahara as an independent state. I've written before on the importance of Morocco in the War on Islamic Terror, and South Africa's actions go contrary to my beliefs of bringing Western Sahara under Moroccan control, to ensure no new prospective failed states are created, at least for the time being, where GSPC or other Al Qaeda terrorist cells can find refuge and threaten both Algeria and Morocco from just across their borders. Rabat's denouncement was inmediate:

But Rabat condemned the decision as "partial, surprising and inopportune", and voiced its "disappointment with the new foreign policy of the South African government," in a statement issued by the Moroccan foreign ministry.

Morocco annexed the Western Sahara region in 1975, triggering a dispute with Algeria which backed the Polisario Front movement seeking independence for the territory bordering the Atlantic between Mauritania and Morocco.

South Africa has been a traditional backer of the Polisario Front, the armed wing of the Sahrawi republic, which has been recognized by the Organisation of African Unity -- now the African Union -- but not the United Nations.

The African National Congress (news - web sites) that swept to power in South Africa in 1994 has repeatedly pointed to the Western Sahara as the only region in Africa that had yet to be "liberated".

South African officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in Pretoria, said the decision to announce the formal recognition was prompted by the Western Sahara sending members to the opening of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) on Thursday.
With the renewed attention of the United Nations to find a solution to the Western Sahara issue, supported by Spain (which favors a five year 'trial independence' and a referendum on its future afterwards, along the lines of the Plan Baker-II, rejected by Morocco) South Africa, a long-time Polisario supporter, is trying to force a fait accompli by imposing its view of Western Sahara on the rest of the world.

UPDATE El Pais Ad Scandal: El Pais Apologizes!

Little Green Footballs, Powerline, get ready for Pequeños Balones Verdes and Cuerda De Corriente or whatever, the Spanish blogosphere rocks! El Pais today, in both its printed version and its online version, printed an apology for the sick ad they used in an email campaign to win a few new subscribers.


the El Pais apology this morning


The text of the apology, translated by myself into English, is as follows:
EL PAÍS apologizes for the use of the images of the terrorist attack against the Twin Towers in New York, which happend on September 11, 2001, for a campaign to aquire subscribers to ELPAIS.es. This regrettable campaign, carried out through emails, supported by two photos of New York, one with the Twin Towers and another one without, under the heading "You can do a lot in one day, imagine what can happen in three months". The promotional campaign started last Monday, September 13, and was sent to more than 50,000 recipients before it was cancelled, on Wednesday 15th.

EL PAÍS, its publisher and the Grupo Prisa profoundly regret the use of a tragedy, which in this case cost the lives of more than 2,700 persons, for publicity purposes. We would like to apologize for it to the victims and their families, to the citizens of New York who experienced that agression from up close, and to those who saw among their email this ominous message, and to all the readers of the newspaper.

Any explanation about the chain of errors which led to the launch of this campaign is insufficient, which some of our readers rightly qualified as repugnant. We share the disgust they have expressed in numerous messages and letters to the management and we are sorry it happened.

The Prisa Group has opened an internal investigation to clarify how it was decided to launch this promotional campaign and to take appropriate measures. Effective inmediately, it has ordered the company used to send out the emails that it mails all recipients of the campaign to apologize.

EL PAIS would like to express once more, like it has done in its 28 years and almost 10,000 editions, its solid solidarity with the victims of terrorism. Like said in EL PAÍS editorial on September 12, 2001, and we repeat it fully here again, those terrorist attacks touch all citizens of good will, without distinction of borders or continents, and constituted an attack "against those with whom we share the same democratic principles which in our country costed so dearly to attain".

The barbarian terrorist attacks which happened later in the rest of the world, among other places like Madrid, did nothing but confirm the necessity to act firmly and democratically before terrorism, which must exclude any irresponsible use of these events.
As apologies go, CBS might want to start taking notes. Apology accepted.

UPDATE: Barcepundit has more. Apparently El Pais received a lot of complaints, and not just them, Spanish embassies around the world too. Barcablog points to a post on Editorsweblog.org and WorldNetDaily who picked up the story as well.

Another blog, Pensamientos Radicalmente Eclécticos (in Spanish) claims I finally got my fifteen minutes of fame because of all this. I'd like to say to JR, thanks, but look around you, we all got a good look at what blogs, even in Spain with its famous 'you can't break through it' attitude, can do. Mind you, mentioning Investor Relations contact persons does help too. I'd like to say to all Spanish bloggers, the time of ranting is over, now starts a new chapter of blogging in Spain.

MORE UPDATES: Darleen was worried seeing the ad that Spain would fall into the Dar Al-Islam column before France would. I commented on her site with a couple of reasons why I think France will go first.

Welcome LGF visitors! Hope the site won't crash!

Here's a round up of some interesting bits from some other blogs. I'm updating this particular post as I go along, there's no particular order.

As a follow up to my post on Decision Making 2.0, HerbEly has some interesting thoughts and has written on how institutions are prone to deny warning signs of impending disaster. Also, be sure to check out this week's Carnival of the Vanities.

Frank at IMAO is promising us a link between the CBS scandal and the Kerry campaign today, so keep an eye out for that one. Michelle Malkin has a small summary of nasty things liberals do when they don't get their way. Ace of Spades HQ brings us the Top Ten Signs You're At An Iraqi Wedding, which is quite hilarious. On a sadder note, last night Rick James died, who will be missed by eighties kind of guys or girls everywhere.

Athena, an American studying in Amman, Jordania, is being served heeps of bull from her professors; she turns to her blog to spout and rant about them. We're rooting for you!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

UPDATE: El Pais Ad Schandal

Some more developments on the scandal brewing (hey, it's my first scandal here) surrounding the utterly detestable use of 9/11 imagery in an online ad for Spanish newspaper El Pais.

After initial denials, claiming it was a hoax etc., El Pais now seems (though I have not seen any statement by them, email or otherwise) to neither deny nor confirm that the ad eminated from them.

The online marketing company (we call those Spammers) Canalmail however, has supposedly confirmed that they have mailed out the ads.

Barcepundit has checked it all out, and has more indepth information:

Canalmail has confirmed that it is a genuine campaing for El Pais. The newspaper still hasn't made public its statement about this issue, but these sources say that after flatly denying the veracity of the advertisement, now they "do not deny nor confirm". Like I said, this is more and more Rathergate-ish by the day.

Go Barcepundit! Just get us some tangible stuff, ie Canalmail corroboration, the El Pais denial nor confirmation. Then we need to move for an apology (hehe, again through spam) to all receivers of the insulting email.

Cuba Libre

Much attention yesterday regarding former Prime Minister José Maria Aznar was diverted to the decision by the parliamentary committee investigating the March 11 attacks in Madrid to have Aznar testify.

Meanwhile, Aznar was giving a speech on human rights and Cuba. The transcript is in Spanish, I've taken out some passages I found interesting, and translated them.

...On Cuba's political prisoners:
Today we are meeting to demand of the Cuban government that they release their prisoners of conscience.

There are at least 84 political prisoners on the island, according to human rights organizations. Perhaps the low number comes as a surprise to some of you. Without a doubt there are many more, but in any case it's the highest number in the world, relative to its population.

Just one political prisoner should already be intolerable. No one should be imprisoned for peacefully expressing his ideas. No one should be sentenced without a fair and impartial trial.

...On Raúl Rivero, political prisoner:
Raúl Rivero, poet and journalist was one of the signers of the letter sent by various Cuban intellectuals to their government in 1991. In it, they asked for democratic reforms. To sign it, meant breaking the official silence in his country. A country where what is not official, is clandestine.

In 1995 he founded the press agency CubaPress, to give the world an indepent version of what was happening in his country.

That decision also had its consequences. He was detained on several occasions, on top of being subjected to other restrictive measures.

On March 20, 2003, he was detained again, together with 74 other people. Just 17 days later he was convicted to 20 years in prison, on counts of "treason of the country". Today he is being held in a high security prison, under inadmissible conditions and contrary to all international treaties. His wife Blanca Reyes bravely and permanently keeps the thought of her husband with her.

Without a doubt the voice of Raúl Rivero was bothering the Cuban government. Without a doubt also, he is in prison for speaking publicly in favor of democracy and freedoms in his country. He is living proof that he was right in asking of his country, that what is normal in so many others. Amongst them, ours.

...On Europe vis a vis Cuba, refering to the fall of the Berlin Wall:
Unfortunately, not all similar tyrannies fell. Some continue still, oppressing millions of people. And they continue to do so with the consent up to the applauding of people living in democratic and open societies, who would be incapable of tolerating a dictatorship in their own countries.

I would ask them to be consistent. That they defend for Cuba the same they defend for Europe. That they denounce any violation of fundamental right with the same emphasis, wherever it happens.

Freedom of mind is a universal value. It cannot be confined solely to some countries, instead it must be defended all over the world. Calls for respect of cultural traditions do not apply. No one can justify the execution or the imprisonment of those who express their ideas or those who criticize their government.

Without a doubt it is easier to criticize democratic governments. It involves less risk. Denouncing totalitarian governments can carry a high price. But still there are those who prefer to risk their liberty and their lives to do so.
His speech was given at the presentation of the manifesto "For the freedom of prisoners of conscience in Cuba". Both the speech and the manifesto can be found in Word .doc format on the FAES website, where you can also sign the manifest, unfortunately not online, but through emailing your personal details. Hopefully they can figure out a way to make it easier for people to sign. It's also in Spanish.

Last year, the European Union imposed 'diplomatic' sanctions on Cuba, as a direct result of the arrest of the 75 political activists of which Aznar spoke (although curiously, the EU's condemnation focused more on the execution of three Cubans fleeing Castro's island prison, think about that one for a minute). Sanctions that socialist Foreign Minister-and-Arafat's-buddy Miguel Angel Moratinos now wants to lift (link in Spanish), in order to 'improve' relations with Cuba.

A bit like Zapatero's call to all countries with troops in Iraq to follow Spain's lead, to 'improve Iraq's prospects'. For whom?

As a side note, did you know that Cuba's ambassador to Spain is the revered (revered!) author and niece of Chili's Salvador Allende, Isabel Allende?

To close with a more positive note, and to show everyone that not all Europeans (and lest you forget, half of Spain is bitterly opposed to these Socialist morons in government as well), take a look at the Czechs, who have one of the most anti-Castro policies in Europe:
The United States government has competition when it comes to exporting democracy.

Those not familiar with the special ties between the newly freed and the still-oppressed might be surprised to learn that the Czech Republic is the European nation most devoted to the liberation of Cuba, the only dictatorship left in Latin America.

"'So why Cuba?' That is the question we are always asked. The answer is Vaclav Havel," said Gabriela Dlouha, head of the newly created Transition Promotion unit at the Foreign Ministry. Dlouha's office aids democracy movements in Cuba, Belarus and Myanmar (formerly Burma) and also works with the governments of countries such as Ukraine and Moldova that are still struggling to implement democracy.

"After the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel was an icon. The people in opposition in Cuba asked him to be their advocate. They asked him to ask other countries to support them. And that is still our moral obligation," said Dlouha, a former press officer for Havel, who served as president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic from 1990 to 2003.
Read it all, it shows there is hope for Cuba, and Europe, still.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

'El Pais' Ad Trashes Memory Of 9/11

Thanks to BarcaBlog and Barcepundit, Arcadi Espada brings us this piece of filth in the form of an ad for the online version of El Pais:



Translation:
"You can do a lot in one single day; just imagine what can happen in three months"

I honestly do not know what to say anymore. How low can they possibly go? As Barcapundit explains, El Pais is part of a publisher called Grupo Prisa:
This is an email advertisement for the online version of El Pais, Spain's main newspaper which belongs to the PRISA group, the pro-Socialist media organization that, together with its sister SER radio network, was behind the agit-prop campaign after the March 11 bombings.
UPDATE 09/16/04: It appears that El Pais first said is was a fake advertisement, to later reverse themselves, saying they do not confirm nor deny that the ad eminated from them. Looks like they're cowards, on top of being insensitive jerks. Meanwhile, Allah Pundit and You, Bitch come up with creative ads of their own, using images of the March 11 attacks instead.

UPDATE II: If anyone wants to let El Pais know what they think of this, or their parent company Grupo Prisa, then here's some useful info for you:
SINCE DELETED
UPDATE III: Advertising and media blog Adrants agrees.

UPDATE IV: Barcepundit is refuting El Pais' claim that the ad is a hoax. I've tried it, and I'd say he's right. Now how to keep the pressure up on El Pais and have them release a statement? Other newspapers? Grupo Prisa?

UPDATE V 09/17/04: I have deleted Grupo Prisa and El Pais contact details, as El Pais and Grupo Prisa have issued an apology in their print and online versions of the newspaper, thanks to all readers who complained.

Syrian Chem Weapons In Darfur: Translation WELT Article

Below is my translation of the original article, as it appeared today in Die Welt newspaper:

Intelligence Agencies: Thousands Offered

by Jacques Schuster

Berlin - In June of this year, Syrian special forces used chemical weapons against the people of Darfur. This action, which killed thousands of people, was in concordance with the Sudan government. This conclusion is drawn by western intelligence agencies. They were supported by eye witness accounts, which came out through various Arab media.


According to documents of western intelligence agencies, in posession by WELT, Syrian officers met with representatives of the Sudanese army in a Khartoum suburb in May of this year. During the meetings they dealt with the question how to expand military cooperation. According to intelligence reports, the Syrian delegation offered a closer cooperation in the field of chemical warfare. With that, according to the sources, it was suggested to test the effects of chemical agents on the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Because Khartoum was in the middle of peace negotiations with the rebels in May, the Sudanese delegation suggested to test in on the native African population. Upon which at least five airplanes from Syrian Arab Airlines flew from Damascus to Khartoum, with specialists on board from the Syrian institute for chemical warfare, along with technical equipment.

Exactly when the deployment started in Darfur, cannot be said with certainty. In any case, Sudanese eye witnesses give their account of strange going-ons in the Khartoum Al-Fashr hospital, in an article on the Arab website "Ilaf" from August 2. In June, out of nowhere thousandsof frozen bodies were brought to the hospital. They noted the strange wounds all over the bodies. A little while later, Sudanese soldiers supposedly closed off one of the wings in the building. Believing the witnesses, access afterwards was limited to an unknown team of Syrian doctors. Days after, Sudanes workers had disposed of the bodies.

For some time now, military experts have information on a Sudanes-Syrian joint effort in the field of chemical weapon research. Also, again and again reports from Syrian dissidents would come out, which would speak of the use of chemical weapons on prisoners.

Article published on Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Astonishing. If this pans out, then the Syrians are planning for more, because this will invite an attack on the country.

Rathergate: Decision Making 2.0?

Trent Telenko of Winds of Change has an interesting post on what he calls 'the group effect', or 'Swarm' as Hugh Hewitt refers to it: the rewarding of content over the position of the speaker, something the blogosphere is famous for. Pajamabloggers or not, little attention is paid to status of the author (in fact, in many cases this is not even known), whether on the subject or otherwise, and authors need to defend against any and every comment thrown their way. The beauty is that the commenters are commenting on each other's comments as well, preventing that an author needs to fend off literally every comment made. It's not a new thing, either, although the blogosphere, internet proliferation have put it in the spotlight:

I have seen it operate repeatedly before.

I first saw it on the old GENIE Military Affairs Round Table over 14 years ago in the run up to and aftermath of the first Iraqi-American war. Then much later and repeatedly over on FreeRepublic.com on a number of issues, but most spectacularly in a long thread analyzing the Columbia Disaster (Note the link is to 3000 graphically intensive posts -- broadband only use is highly recommended) that reached the same conclusion NASA did months later on the causes of the shuttle break up.

This is a radically egalitarian cultural development that is highly subversive of elitist hierarchies everywhere.
We are seeing the precursors perhaps to a new type of decision-making process, which could find its way into large corporations, the intelligence community and other large organizations which benefit of having a lot of employees or stakeholders ('commenters') and leaders who need to make sure that they take the best decision, and often fast.

Imagine a private network, linking friendly intelligence agencies throughout the world, giving access to all agents above a certain classification level on 'threads', or decisions on intel or threat assessment. Because of the nature of intelligence, and the (warranted or not) famous unwillingness of sharing between agencies, its purpose could probably be best served in the lower levels, the political or country analysts. Assessments on a political crisis somewhere in the world could be brought by an 'author', the analyst ordered to prepare the report, to the group, open for comment by the group, forcing him to adjust, change and adopt comments brought to him, filtered by other members of the group. Rather than depending on the document prepared by one analyst or group of analysts within the same agency, and vetted by one or multiple superiors, also within the same agency, a document on which decisions could be based prepared in effect by hundreds if not thousands of analysts within the same agency and other agencies could be used to base decisions on.

The same could apply to a large corporation, with offices around the world. If a director at the corporate level would need to make a decision on a particular investment, instead of asking his usual circle of board advisors would post the proposed investment on an internal website, asking anyone from the mail clerk and his secretary to his director of finance and shareholders to shoot at it (and be shot at), then odds are that a very good decision will be reached, at a fraction of the time needed in the old decision making process.

Two comments on this, first is that the mail clerk who is taking a business course at night, will be very eager to profess his skills, and will be given the chance to compete head on with his boss's boss, and be noted, thus good for his career. Because he will be burnt down in real-time if he makes a dumb remark (and not, like in the old ways, 'because he is the mail clerk'), he will make sure that what he says, sticks. This will be the incentive for the bottom layers to take part and show what they're worth. Another incentive is that once a decision has been reached this way, no grudges can be held against anyone if the decision does not pan out. It was a group decision, and everyone had a chance to contribute to it.

The second comment is the one that will put us back with our feet on the ground again, and that is culture. Knowledge is Power, and is inheritently connected to humans in general, and decision makers in particular. See Dan Rather. If Pajama Bloggers are able to utterly destroy a newscast, then what's the value of the newscast? So if I share, what's in it for me? True enough. To return to the corporate setting again, the role of a decision maker like a corporate director would change under this regime, but not entirely. Rather than being decision makers, the focus would turn to decision 'thinking' for lack of a better word. The investment decision in the example above did come up because of an opportunity, a threat or whatever. A group is good at vetting decisions, but lacks in strenght to formulate a direction without leadership. So future decision makers, be it in corporations, the military or the intelligence community, might not so much be in charge of making the decisions, as they are in charge of thinking of decisions to be made.

UPDATE: Barcelona Terror Raids

Just reading on the El Mundo site (in Spanish), that during house searches today in Barcelona they found literature related to Osama Bin Laden, other religious materials, video tapes which they have not studied yet, false identity papers and large amounts of other documents.

However, police is adamant in downplaying the whole matter, now even referring to the ten arrested Pakistanis as "organized delinquency" --which would be to laugh at were it not that serious. They persist in conveying the message that this was not, repeat not an Al Qaeda cell, instead calling them organized delinquents who they are investigating for their possible support of 'radical' groups outside of Spain.

Spain, take note. Terrorists are now 'delinquents' or 'radicals' but definitely NOT Al Qaeda.

God forbid to think that Spain was an actual target. And meanwhile, Spain is setting itself up for another attack:

Meanwhile, yesterday I saw that Minister of Retreat Defense, José Bono explain on TeleMadrid that the troops currently being deployed in Afghanistan will only use a minimum of force to protect their own troops, and nothing else. Gee, I thought they were protecting the Afghan people, ensuring they could vote in peace? Also, Bono reiterated again that come what may, no later than 90 days after the deployment has been finalized, the troops will come home.

Look for a new attack, on Spanish troops in Afghanistan or in Spain, some ten, fifteen days before that date. In which case Bono would either have to reverse himself and stay and deploy more, or stay with the 'consistency' argument his government has used for the Iraq retreat as well (an 'election promise', unrelated to the Madrid attacks) and retreat, again, allowing yet another victory to the terrorists.

So inviting terrorism on the one hand, while denying to the public that there is terrorist activity going on. What kind of a government is that?

Live Group Blogging Presidential Elections?

Here's just a household message, I'm trying to get in touch with Madrid area bloggers (you know who you are) to see if we can get together during the US Presidential Elections and do some live blogging if possible. I got the idea through North Sea Diaries.

Ideally, we'd need a setup with a) a satellite dish, receiving CNN and Fox (all you folks outside of Europe, don't laugh) and preferably hookups for laptops, desktops whatever, and oh yeah, internet access. Maybe a hotel with wifi would be a good idea? Have the US Embassy sponsor it? Or Halliburton?

In any case, if you'd like to find out if we can do something, drop me a line at the contact address (right bar), and we'll see what we can do!

Maybe good tip for all you Barcelona bloggers, too!

=================

Ahora un mensaje en español, algo que me cuesta en hacer todavía, entonces no comentario sobre mi uso de la lengua de Cervantes, por favor.

Quiro ver que si hay interés entre los bloggers españoles de la región de Madrid, para juntarnos la noche del 2 de noviembre, para ver y hablar de los elecciones estadounidenses, pero sobre todo para ver que si podemos hacer algo de blogging en directo. La idea no es mia, es de North Sea Diaries.

Idealmente, necesitamos algún lugar con televisión de satelite, con CNN y Fox preferible, aceso al internet para más que un ordenador y cables de LAN etc. Supongo que un hotel con wifi será lo mejor, pero no tengo ni idea, tampoco si queremos gastar dinero etc. Patrocinado por la embajada de Estados Unidos o Halliburton será la hostia, claro.

Entonces, si te apetece, si tienes sugerencias, contactame por email (está en la barra derecha) y veremos que podemos hacer.

Y también, todos los bloggers de Barcalona, será una idea para vosotros también!

It's Over: Bush By Landslide

if the Iowa Electronic Market is any reference (and over the past cycles it has proven to be more accurate than any polls), it's a done deal looking at the popular vote. Current Quotes are Kerry $0.425 and Bush $0.574. This is no bounce, this is a lift off.

Suppose the DNC will forego Kerry, focusing instead on candidates like Daschle instead?

Allah Pundit has some more updates on Rathergate, courtesy of Beltway.

UPDATE: Supposedly, CBS is coming out midday EST with an announcement on the matter, writes Backcountry Conservative.

Barcelona Police Arrest 10 in Anti-Terror Raids

All major news outlets today report on a number of anti-terrorist raids being carried out by Barcelona police. It started before dawn, with searches of several houses and shops. At this moment ten confirmed arrests have been made on grounds of suspicion of ties with Islamic terror networks. Most of the arrested have the Pakistani nationality. The arrests are the result of an investigation which is not related to the March 11 attacks.

As of this moment, no explosives or arms have been discovered, although the police has confisquated documents. As this is developing, we will update as more news becomes available.

UPDATE: El Mundo (link in Spanish) has another report, and quotes Barcelona police who insist that they are dealing with "organized crime" and they are studying documents found, looking for any "support that they, at any certain moment, might have given to some small radical group outside of Spain".

How's that for downplaying? They further insist that "we are not talking about Islamic terrorism" but about "a support group for radicals outside of Spain", they emphasized. "At no moment are we talking about an Al Qaeda cell", they added.

Right. Pakistani criminals supporting 'radicals' outside of Spain. And please don't print Al Qaeda.

Yep. And Al Qaeda attacked Spain because of its presence in Iraq, if you're name is Zapatero.

In my opinion the government is playing with fire here, giving the 'All Clear' in public, insisting that the threat is over, while secretively hunting for terrorist cells. Without the public fully aware of the presence of more cells, entailing a clear and present threat, they are guilty of sacrificing the public at a next attack in case they fail to prevent it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Madrid Attacks Pictures Released

CNN (thanks to Barcepundit) posted six still images on its website, taken by security cameras at the time of the Madrid attacks at the Atocha train station. The gallery can be found here.

These images were never seen before, and looking at a step by step of the carnage makes me want to throw up. Or cry. Or both.

Bastards.

If you're looking to kill a lost half hour, go over to the Zoo's Political Compass Project, which asks bloggers to take a test and be plotted on a graph, so people can inmediately see where you stand.

We scored a healthy Economic Left/Right: 7.50 with a Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.13, which, looking at some more interesting people puts me right there with Milton Friedman. We're honored.

Among the present blogs listed, we seem to occupy a niche of our own, with the Pearly Gates blog approaching us closest on economics, though we are a bit more libertarian on the social side. Oh. I just saw that the Pearly Gates is dedicated to baseball, and the Angels no less. Well, at least he's honest about it. He does support George Bush though ;)

Go Yankees!

Europe's Disconnect With Terrorism

Outside The Beltway notes this article in the Chicago Sun-Times, on Europe's failure to grasp the scope of Islamic Terrorism:

Within that general objective, they have a more specific agenda. Sometimes that agenda is a mirror image of what the West wants -- such as proudly wearing Islamic symbols in French schools. On other occasions, it is something entirely mysterious to us -- such as restoring East Timor to the House of Islam. But it is an extremely ambitious agenda that includes regaining those parts of Europe -- including Spain, Austria and Eastern Europe -- that used to be ruled either by the Moors or the Ottoman Empire.

Most of Europe still clings to the Pilger view. As last week's poll for the German Marshall Fund demonstrated, Europeans are more likely to regard Islamist terrorism as something that the United States invited by such actions as the war on Iraq and less likely to approve of independent and preemptive retaliatory force unless the U.N. OKs it. (Interestingly, the views of most Europeans closely mirrored those of Democrats in the United States.)

But this balance of opinion is likely to change as events like Beslan continue to occur. We are at the start of a long war against revolutionary Islamist terrorism -- a war akin to those against the French Revolution and against Nazism.

At the start of all such wars those who advocate strong forceful resistance to the revolutionaries -- men such as Burke and Churchill -- are seen as extreme, unreasonable and too violent in their proposed solutions. Most politicians believe that the revolution can be appeased or that the revolutionaries can be directed to other nations and their own spared.

But the Burkes and Churchills gradually convert others to their point of view when it becomes clear that the aims of the revolutionaries are essentially limitless, that they can be diverted only temporarily, and that nations under attack must therefore hang together or hang separately. Americans learned this lesson early because Sept. 11 was plainly directed at them. Europeans will learn it in the future as it becomes clear that Sept. 11 was the first installment of an attack on the entire West.
I have said it many times on this blog here, Spain's Socialist party's idea of the March 11 attack as a reprisal of its support for the United States, and its subsequent return to normality (skipping over the foiled attack on the country's high speed train link between Madrid in Sevill, after Zapatero won the elections and announced the retreat from Iraq), is leaving us here in Spain unprepared for the next attack.

WMD vs. Forged Docs

National Review's The Corner has an interesting analogy. Posts Jonah Goldberg:

WMDs V. FORGED DOCS [Jonah Goldberg]

A reader takes my comparison of Bush's stance on WMDs to Rather's on the memos even further:

Imagine this press conference: GW Bush: "We found WMD in Iraq. All of our critics have been completely discredited" Media: Can we see them? GW - No. you'll just have to take my word for it. We have experts to prove their authenticity. Media: Can we talk to the experts? Can we interview the people who found the weapons? Gw: NO. And the mere fact that you are asking these questions proves that you are partisan rumor mongers. End of story. case closed.
Very true.

However, in all fairness, you could turn this argument around. People trying to stick this to Dan Rather could be confronted with an argument that he 'based his report on faulty intelligence', and walk away. Hmm?

Daniel Pipes has an excellent article over at FrontPage magazine, on Nepalese and French reactions to their nationals being taken hostage in Iraq. Where the Nepalese rioted against mosques in Katmandu, the French handed over their foreign policy to institutions representing muslims in France, while calling in favors with Arab states for their anti-Israel stance, and accepting support offered by terrorist organizations like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad:

These efforts culminated thirty years of French appeasement and, in the scathing analysis of Norbert Lipszyc, “constituted a major victory for Islamists and terrorists.” Lipszyc sees France acting like a dhimmi (a Christian or Jew who accepts Muslim sovereignty and in return is tolerated and protected). “France has publicly confirmed that its dhimmi status, its readiness to submit to Islamist overlords. In return, these have declared that France, dhimmi that it is, deserves protection from terrorist acts.”

If the hostages are released, the policy of appeasement at home and abroad will seemingly have been vindicated. But at what a price! As Tony Parkinson writes in Melbourne’s Age newspaper, “No democracy should have to jump through these hoops to keep innocent people alive.” And jumping those hoops has deep implications.
He rightfully concludes to say that through both countries' actions, Nepal is less likely to again become the target of attacks or kidnappings, while France is.

Polish Opposition Says It Like It Is

This from AFP, via Jihad Watch:

WARSAW, Sept 13 (AFP) - If Poland decides to withdraw its troops from Iraq it will appear to be surrendering to terrorists, Poland's largest opposition party, which tops the country's popularity polls, said on Monday.

"To decide to stop participating in a war because there are casualties means, de facto, surrendering," Donald Tusk, head of the liberal Civic Platform party, told public radio a day after three Polish soldiers were killed in an attack south of Baghdad.

His comments came on the same day Iraq's interim President Ghazi Al-Yawar arrived in Warsaw for an official visit.

"The idea is to withdraw the Polish troops from Iraq in agreement with other allies so as not to give the impression that the Poles are surrendering to terrorism as the Spaniards did" last spring, said Tusk, who is considered a potential presidential candidate for the elections set for the end of 2005.
Well, if that is Poland's opposition, it shows that New Europe is always better than Refurbished Europe!

Russia's Centralist Measures

In the wake of the Beslan massacre, President Vladimir Putin announced a number of measures which, at best can be seen as anti-federalist, and at worst anti-democratic. Joe Gandelman over at The Moderate Voice has a good summary and is clearly warned by the developments in Moscow.

It's often said that one key goal of many terrorist and separatist groups is to radicalize the population by creating a government clampdown. The clampdown creates more anti-government outrage and helps recruit angry young militants to the cause.

Therein lies the danger for Vladimir Putin, as a few pieces of Russia's young democracy die.
I agree to a point. With politically motivated insurgencies aimed at overthrowing a government (elected or otherwise) this is a correct assumption, driving a wedge between the State and its citizens by eliciting a clampdown on all citizen liberties, afterwards seeking to blame the 'repressive' State and garner support for the insurgency. However, this usually works best in a dictatorship, with the insurgents' attention focused on attacking the State's infrastructure, while avoiding capture. This will make the State move towards treating all its citizens as suspect, curtailing liberties along the way, in an effort to sift out the insurgents. Who then can claim 'You see?'

In the case of Russia, you have a federalist society which is learning democracy, a slow process (and living in Spain, which changed from dictatorship to democracy in 1977, I can attest to this). It is a classic recipe for problems, when constituents in part of the federacy feel that other federal states are directly harming their interests, causing them to lose interest in the federal structure or to seek separation.

As a side note, I sometimes think that countries that have just exited a dictatorship, during which usually regional identities have been repressed, much like in the Soviet Union or in Francoist Spain, are best of to start with a central government, out of which a federalist project should be formed. To start directly with a federation can cause an 'overload' of nationalist sentiments followed by demands of high autonomy, which can turn into a competition between the federal republics with the State, or amongst themselves. To start off with a centralized model can dampen the separatist expectations, let democratic values take root and then move towards a federalist state (at which point the federalist states should be free to choose to stay or opt for independence). The problem of course is twofold; that normally, in the euphoria of the dictator gone and repressed groups free, people do not wish to wait any longer, partly out of fear of what this State will do to them. Incidentally, this same thing led in Spain to Basque separatist party Batasuna, 'political' wing of terrorist organization ETA, to be included in the democratic process, only to be forbidden for its support of terrorism earlier this year. A party which never should have been included in the first place, but alas, the beginnings of democracy are like a drug. The other problem with starting of 'centralist' and move towards a federation, is that usually, what is centralized, stays centralized.
Russia's enemy, Islamist Chechens supported by Al Qaeda, has not so much an argument against the government of Russia or Chechnya, but against Russian society as a whole, in what they deem as lands of Islam, the Caucasus. The atrocities committed in Beslan (no coincedence that North Osetia is predominantly Christian, the exception in the region) were the last in a series of attacks directed at Russians, from Moscow to the Caucasus region itself. They have made no distinction in their objects, from government buildings to army bases to theaters in Moscow, subways, hospitals and now a school.

Their enemy is anyone not like them.

Russia has problems with its republics, and these problems stem from the Federalist structure within the geographic realms of the old Soviet Union, at least where attainable (multiple republics separated themselves from the CIS), where federalism was introduced only to ensure avoiding the entire breakup of the country. It needs to address the problems with its republics, and it might very well be that a centralized model could be better. Taking away powers from republics that do not seem capable of protecting their own people or promoting freedom, could be a good thing. The problem with that, however, is that Putin is no stranger to anti-democratic sentiments himself, and the question would be if he would be the right man to lead such a project.

To return to Gandelman's point, that by 'clamping down' on federalism in its republics, Putin would be somehow feeding the monster, I don't think that the Chechen Islamists or Al Qaeda will get one more recruit out of these measures. Ordinary Russians know this Islamic threat will not stop by giving independence to Chechnya, or by pulling out Russian troops even.

That would truly feed the monster, something the young democrats of Spain have not learned yet.

UPDATE 09/15/04: Nathan over at The Argus has a good piece on it.

Axis Of Weasels: Old Europe Is Like New Again

Zapatero's mini summit in Madrid yesterday, where he met with Axis of Weasels chairman 'Blaque' Jacques Chirac and honorary member Chancellor Schroeder of Germany, provided yet another embarrasing moment for freedom loving Spaniards everywhere, for a number of reasons. First, Zapatero could not resist to euphorically call out that "Old Europe is like new again" (I'm sure Blaque Jacques liked hearing that description again).


"Hold me! I'm scared!"
The Axis is also famous within Europe for its love for dividing the spoils of the European Union among themselves, as the three are the main beneficiaries of EU subsidies. A point of discussion for Zapatero, who according to true Marxist common wisdom wanted to assure that Spain's subsidies are safe and maintained at the same levels for at least the next ten years, even though with the recent expansion there are a lot more needy countries trying to reform their economies. We're all equal, but some are more equal than others.

An informant of ours, who works at the Foreign Ministry in The Hague tells us that all this does not go down well with the current EU's chairman, the Netherlands. We saw a funny remark in an internal report on the meeting here, which listed all the possible subjects the three might talk about, but that Zapatero's 'monolinguistic limitations' would probably call for the need to prioritize, due to the word-for-word translations. Apart from Spanish, Mr. Zapatero speaks no other languages, although if you would count Spain's other official languages, he just might. As a side note, rather than learn to speak English, his government yesterday formally applied with the EU that Valencian, Basque and Catalan are adopted as official languages within the EU bureaucracy. Brussels will reach a point where there will be more translators than members of parliament present at its sessions.

Zapatero was careful not to repeat his earlier statements on how Iraq would have a better future, if all countries with troops on the ground would follow Spain's lead and pull out. Statements upon the Foreign Minister inmediately had to dispatch its number two to the American Embassy, which called for an explanation. Zapatero is already back-peddling on them, saying now that they were just some 'critical thoughts' (link in Spanish). For which he happened to choose a joint press conference with the president of Tunisia. Thoughts, I might add, one day before the 9/11 commemoration, and on the same day Iraqi hostage takers called again on Italy to pull out its troops, or its hostages would be killed.

But the main point of this post is that, though Zapatero is anxious to show itself back into the columns of 'Old Europe', truth is that his new friends carry little weight in the world nowadays. With Russia's departure of the Axis, although for now on issues like preventive strikes at terrorists everywhere, its stance on Iran and Iraq have not changed yet, and a lame duck Schroeder who is likely to be replaced by a pro-American Chancellor in 2006. Which leaves France on which Zapatero has pinned all his hopes. But history has shown that France as an ally can not be relied upon.

To stay with the Chuck Jones dig at Chirac, "La France? She change her mààind"

Monday, September 13, 2004

STG: Brent Woodall Foundation

Recently our blog joined the Strengthen The Good network, set up by Alan from the Command Post. Its aim is simple: "raise awareness of “micro charities”—charitable opportunities that are simple, personal, non-bureaucratic, and inspiring. Charitable opportunities where someone can feel great about giving $1, or even just from reading the story of the charity, it’s sponsors, and it’s beneficiaries."

The second micro charity STG supports is linked to 9/11. Writes Alan:

I read recently, in the somber flurry of September 11 memorial writing, that September 11 was unique because it reversed the typical order of tragedy in war: rather than it being the parents who sent their children off to face an uncertain fate, on 9/11 it was the children who sent off their parents.

One of those children, though not yet born at the time, was Pierce Woodall, daughter of Brent and Tracy Woodall. Tracy was five weeks pregnant on 9.11.01, when she and her unborn child sent Brent, a stock trader, off to work at Bruyette and Woods on the 89th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center.

Tracy was among the thousands of loved ones who had the bittersweet experience of receiving a phone call from WTC that September morning, as Brent called to let her know all was well in his tower. This was to change, however, when the second plane hit.

Tracy finally reached Brent on the 87th floor of the South Tower, where he had reached a locked door. Brent--6-foot-5, handsome, a college athlete at Berkeley and former minor league pitcher for the Cubs--assured his wife of 31 that everything would be all right.

And like so many people that bright clear day, that call was the last time Tracy heard her husband's voice.

Since that day, much has changed.

On April 22nd 2002, Tracy gave birth to Pierce Ashley Woodall.

She moved back to her home state of Texas to be near family.

And she refused to be ruled by her grief.

Tracy Woodall understood that a sound response to evil is to strengthen that which is good.

Not long before 9/11, Tracy and Brent had started talking about launching a foundation that would provide free care-giving education to families of children with autism. For the less familiar, autism is a neurological disorder that appears during the first three years of life. Estimates are that it occurs in approximately 2 to 6 in 1,000 individuals, and typical characteristics include problems with social relationships and emotional communication.
Please go over to the Strenghten The Good website or to the Brent Woodall Foundation's site to learn more about the work Tracy has been doing in honor of her late husband, and donate whatever you can miss. As the latter at this moment is not able to accept donations online, this can be done through the STG site (more details there). In any case, spread the word so they get all the attention they deserve.

If you have a blog, consider linking to this post or to the STG network. Or better yet, spend thirty minutes every couple of weeks in helping out as well!