Saturday, December 18, 2010

Unwitting Political Statement of the Year

Purdue website calculates asteroid damage
Indianapolis Business Journal much damage a comet or asteroid would cause if it hit Earth? ...You can customize your asteroid and pretend it's headed for the Windy City. The code jockey is quoted as saying:

Dude, we're hosed!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Global Warming Continues Apace

In Sweden. Does the Gore Paradox apply to societies that have a “progressive” rep too?

Sweden in 'coldest December in 100 years'

“There were a number of days in a row with below-freezing temperatures, so called ice days. And that we have that before Lucia (December 13th) hasn’t happened in more than 100 years,” she said.

You can Pick your Fin, and You can Pick your Friends...

But you can’t pick your friend’s Fin.

Now all they need to do is actually stop avoiding any meaningful involvement with anything that happens in the world that would require a commitment larger than writing a few press releases and expressing either “concern” or “deep concern”.

Their first chief spook is a much-lauded cop who doesn't seem old enough to have enough life experience for the job, unless he's got some kind of Doogie Howser super-powers or something.

Do the WikiLeaks revelations suggest a greater degree of tough-mindedness in the Obama administration than some of its critics give it credit for?

WikiLeaks’s avalanche of diplomatic revelations has been widely portrayed as evidence of waning American power, retreating U.S. influence, and a no-we-can’t foreign policy
writes John Vinocur.
A former C.I.A. case officer, getting in his licks, spoke of “damage to American credibility that is incalculable.”

But after a few weeks of getting accustomed to the torrent, there’s a case to be made that the disclosures’ most significant effect is removing a part of the discrepancy between what the United States really sees, hears and thinks of the world — now increasingly apparent via WikiLeaks — and the soft-edged presentation often made of the country’s ongoing confrontations by President Barack Obama’s White House.

… leaked cables report an Élysée Palace official telling an American diplomat — in contrast to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s public embrace of the Russians — that Russia seeks to “remodel” the post-Cold War map, let the West sink into the “Afghanistan swamp,” and do nothing to change the status quo in Iran.

… On balance, does all of this suggest a greater degree of tough-mindedness in the Obama administration than some of its critics give it credit for?

Timing is everything

In the interchangable world of comedy (the low variety) and politics (any variety), timing is everything:

Ireland, where it is virtually impossible to obtain a legal abortion, will most likely have to rewrite its laws after a European court ruled Thursday that it had violated its own Constitution by failing to provide abortion services to a pregnant woman who had cancer.
Putting aside the topic being ruled upon, do you think the proverbial phone call was made to Strasbourg asking the court to "sit on it" until the bailout vote was in the bag. If you think the timing is merely coincidental, are you really that gullible?

They Get Mad when the World isn’t After Them

The Wikileaks “heroes” are little more than a provisional wing of the crackpot subculture of 9-11 Truthers and Holocaust deniers. Michael C. Moynihan reports in Reason.

Last week, I wrote that the widely-linked article positing that the CIA was behind a Swedish woman’s accusation of rape against Julian Assange was authored by a Russian-born, Swedish-domiciled, multi-aliased anti-Semite and Holocaust denier currently writing under the name “Israel Shamir,” a.k.a. Adam Ermash or Jöran Jermas. The broader point had little to do with the efficacy or morality of WikiLeaks—there are plenty of debates available on the narrower issue of government transparency; this isn’t intended to be one of them—but was concerned with how ideology and confirmation bias (WikiLeaks is a good thing, therefore Assange must be defended, and the CIA has done bad stuff in the past so—cui bono?—Assange’s accuser must be a Langley asset) can lead mainstream media figures into the fever swamps of Internet conspiracy theory.
Expect the THEREfores to include negatives that can’t be proven, and allusions to mysterious characters who will later emerge, based solely on the first unassociated name or face that comes along.
Three of the journalists interviewed for the story—Cecilia Uddén, Lotta Schüllerqvist, and Peter Löfgren—claimed that Wahlström falsified quotes, leading the magazine to withdraw the story and issue an apology. Heléne Lööw, a historian of fascism and European neo-Nazism, commented that the Wahlström story contained all the “elements that one would find in a classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.”

A member of Ordfront’s editorial board, writing in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, lamented that the piece was ever published, citing Wahlström’s “close working relationship with Israel Shamir,” without pointing out just how close the two were.
The famously sober and accurate Russian media is a perfect hand-in-glove fit for the fevered brows of this sort too.
According to reports in the Swedish and Russian media, the broad strokes of which have been confirmed by a WikiLeaks spokesman, Shamir serves as the group’s content aggregator in Russia, the man who “selects and distributes” the cables to Russian news organizations, according to an investigation by Swedish public radio. In the newspaper Expressen, Magnus Ljunggren, an emeritus professor of Russian literature at Gothenburg University, outlined Shamir’s close ties to WikiLeaks and his position “spreading the documents in Russia.” (The article is illustrated with a picture of Assange and Shamir in an unidentified office.)
Isn’t the heroic cry of the Wikileaks siren so much like the “calls for transparency” that 9-11 Troofers and heeb-hating Holocaust denying obsessives? It’s not so much that it has the same stench, but the same characters involved, and strikingly, popular support from the same “normal”(ish) people crawling around among the broader public that give it a margin of respectability.

Wikileaks’ entire exercise doesn’t just look like the act of a handful of loons able to function in a larger ‘straight’ world, but of a classic effort geared at using the press to construct doubt in spite of common sense.

Half the story...

Our Source? The New York Times:
Casting aside their differences over how to contain the continuing debt crisis, Europe’s leaders on Thursday pledged to do “whatever is required” to defend their embattled currency.

They also agreed to create a permanent support fund for the euro after 2013 — something they hope will be a first step to calming the markets.

But even as they moved to restore investor confidence, the seriousness of the euro’s plight was underlined by events in beleaguered countries. Spain paid a sharply higher interest rate on an auction of long-term bonds than in its previous sale, reflecting investor fears about the country’s indebted economy.
Re: Spain, maybe. On the other hand, maybe the ECB is just taking a break from the buying spree it has been on the last couple of weeks. When you hear about the PIIGS having "successful" debt auctions, ask yourself, "Is that because free-ish market actors are subscribing -or- is it a contrived 'success' because the ECB has stepped in with the cheque book?"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WikiLeaks and the U.S. Embassy in Paris: French "journalists do not necessarily consider that their foremost duty is to monitor those in power"

According to the Paris embassy cables obtained by WikiLeaks (and here retranslated from French), writes Xavier Ternisien in Le Monde, American diplomats explain the situation of the press in France
by the fact that "the most famous French journalists often come from the same elite schools as many government officials. These journalists do not necessarily consider that their foremost duty is to monitor those in power. A number of them see themselves as intellectuals, preferring to analyze events and influence readers rather than report on the facts."

The embassy adds that "the private media in France — in print and broadcast media — continues to be dominated by a small number of conglomerates, and the French media are regulated more and subject to more political and commercial pressures than their American counterparts." It puts the emphasis on the rise of the Internet media, especially on blogs, which are a popular means of expression among minorities and NGOs.

They Call this a “Minimalist” Summit

Maybe they’re cutting back on the hookers and nose-candy.

The stated purpose of this near monastic modesty is:
to not surprise the markets.

Car. Ditch. Slurpee. Har-Dee-Har. Etcetera.

Le Monde reports that 43% of young men and 37% of young women from the “sensitive zones” are unemployed. Unemployment overall in ‘da hood is just below 19%, a figure they can’t even match in Michigan, as hard as they seem to try.

It’s obviously George Bush’s fault.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Don’t Forget to Double-Bag it

Yet another summit: EU summit to tackle Treaty change

And here I thought it was still called global warming. The rest of it sounds suspiciously like an unwanted email:

A range of enlargement issues and the EU's 2020 growth strategy are also on the agenda, with EU high representative Catherine Ashton and EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule scheduled to participate in a Eastern Partnership ministerial meeting in Brussels on Monday.
Not to get that confused with stuff they will do absolutely nothing realistic about:
Also on the agenda for Monday, foreign ministers will discuss developments in a range of different trouble-spots across the globe, including Sudan, the Middle East, Somalia, Côte d'Ivoire, Afghanistan and Iran.
They really should start wearing special hats at their conventions.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Get a Life

The European mind is such that it seems to need a fake crisis over which to seem a heroic champion of. Below is a survey of what the editors looking at the work of editors find important: pretending that the non-existent global-warming tidal wave is coming, putting billions into a fund to support the non-existent effects of global-warming on their favorite among poor victims, etc.:

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy: World becomes more multilateral

De Volkskrant - Netherlands: Breakthrough next year - maybe

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland: Progress in climate policy

Expansión - Spain: Hope of partial success in Cancún
Elsewhere: The NYT is too passive-aggressively anti-American to realize that it’s answering its’ own question. From a article titled Europeans Criticize Fierce U.S. Response to Leaks, previously condescendingly titled ”Many Europeans Find U.S. Attacks on WikiLeaks Puzzling”, we find the following with nary a blink:
The Russians seemed to take a special delight in tweaking Washington over its reaction to the leaks, suggesting that the Americans were being hypocritical. “If it is a full-fledged democracy, then why have they put Mr. Assange away in jail? You call that democracy?”
Speaking for a government that has a recent history of murdering journalists and suppressing dissent. Never mind what they would do to an outfit like Wikileaks who published THEIR internal traffic.
Even The Financial Times Deutschland (independent of the English-language Financial Times), said that “the already damaged reputation of the United States will only be further tattered with Assange’s new martyr status.”
It sounds like they’re fond of the new islamist agitprop definition of “martyr” – regardless if Assange is still alive.
The left-wing Berliner Zeitung wrote that Washington’s reputation had been damaged by the leaks. But the reputation of United States leaders “is being damaged much more right now as they attempt — with all their means — to muzzle WikiLeaks” and Mr. Assange.
As if the douchebag neo-Marxists with populist lynch-mob fantasies at BZ were actually concerned with the United States reputation. The mention and tone in all of the reports is made solely out of bitterness and a desire to smear a large, democratic state that is in reality the only defense that they have against the autocrats of the world and potential autocrats within.

So the way it works, is that even when you’re right, you’re wrong. One of the especially arrogant pretenses of European self-regard is that they do anything realistic or meaningful to advance their adopted virtues: human rights, individual will, etc. That is, when they arent triangulating or doing business that bolsters the worst human rights abusers in the world:
Le Figaro, said that he was impressed by the generally high quality of the American diplomatic corps. “What is most fascinating is that we see no cynicism in U.S. diplomacy,” he said. “They really believe in human rights in Africa and China and Russia and Asia. They really believe in democracy and human rights. People accuse the Americans of double standards all the time. But it’s not true here. If anything, the diplomats are almost naïve
If you don’t see that there is a blinding self-importance in what Europe thinks IT thinks, you’re simply too used to the pedantry of their trope.

No-one outside of the echo chamber of their thinking is puzzled at their puzzlement - trust me on that one. Humanity does not exist to play dress-up for your self-delusions - so if you can't accomplish anything relevant, stay in your playpen for the time being.

Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie on the WikiLeaks Revelations: "Totally Irresponsible"

In an interview with Le Monde's Natalie Nougayrède and Gilles Paris, Michèle Alliot-Marie had the following comments to make:

Comment réagissez-vous à l'affaire WikiLeaks ? La France est-elle à l'abri d'une fuite de télégrammes diplomatiques ?

Je trouve ces révélations totalement irresponsables et les condamne sans aucune restriction, car je considère que les relations internationales reposent sur la capacité de dire un certain nombre de choses, choses qui peuvent d'ailleurs évoluer, ainsi que sur une relation de confiance.
Moreover, the new foreign minister — "MAM" is a Gaullist — also had the following to say:
L'OTAN a adopté un projet de bouclier antimissile pour protéger l'Europe, en particulier de la menace balistique iranienne. La France ne se place-t-elle pas sous une trop forte tutelle américaine en acceptant ce projet ?

L'OTAN statue toujours à l'unanimité. Parler de domination américaine est faux dès lors qu'il y a moyen de s'opposer lorsque l'on en a la volonté politique.

C'est une gaulliste qui parle.

Absolument. Au moment de la guerre d'Irak, j'ai eu des discussions avec Donald Rumsfeld [alors secrétaire américain à la défense] parce qu'il y avait un souhait d'engager l'OTAN dans cette opération. Je le rappelle, que ce soit à l'époque ou maintenant, c'est la même règle d'unanimité qui s'applique. Je peux vous dire aussi : il y a un meilleur partage aujourd'hui des responsabilités qu'il n'y en avait autrefois. Notamment, à l'occasion du retour de la France dans le commandement intégré de l'OTAN, nous avons obtenu au nom de l'Europe l'un des grands commandements, ce qui avait été refusé jusque-là.

Vous avez déclaré en prenant vos fonctions : « Nous croyons en un monde multipolaire. » Dans ce monde-là, y a-t-il une « famille occidentale » ?

Je crois qu'il y a des pôles, dont un pôle occidental. Mais je dirais un pôle européen, plutôt qu'un pôle occidental. Car il y a aussi le pôle nord-américain. Le grand défi des prochaines décennies est l'apparition de grands blocs démographiques, économiques et culturels. Chacun représentant environ un milliard d'habitants : la Chine, l'Inde, l'Afrique, le groupe d'Amérique du Nord, celui de l'Amérique du Sud, centré autour du Brésil.

Tous ces pôles ont leurs spécificités, et le problème est de savoir quelles seront leurs relations. C'est dans ce cadre qu'il doit y avoir une interrogation sur la taille de l'Europe, et éventuellement sur la place de la Russie. L'Europe aujourd'hui c'est 450 millions d'habitants. Si nous voulons avoir les moyens de peser plus, comment faisons-nous ? Nous avons deux possibilités, l'une est à l'Est, l'autre est au Sud. Je pense qu'elles ne sont pas exclusives l'une de l'autre.

Sur les enjeux stratégiques, le pôle américain et le pôle européen sont-ils distincts ?

Les Etats-Unis défendent leurs intérêts, ce qui est tout à fait normal. Nous aussi. Cela ne doit surtout pas nous faire oublier ce que nous avons en commun, ni nous empêcher de travailler ensemble. Pour autant, nous ne pouvons pas non plus ignorer que nous sommes en concurrence en matière économique, sur le plan technologique...

A quels changements faut-il s'attendre au Quai d'Orsay ?

Ma préoccupation n'est pas de me situer par rapport à mes prédécesseurs. Ma première priorité sera toujours nos compatriotes en difficulté à l'étranger, et d'abord les otages. Deuxièmement, je voudrais faire de ce ministère un pôle d'expertise privilégié pour la prévision et l'anticipation des grandes problématiques du monde. C'est ainsi que nous pouvons jouer pleinement notre rôle d'aide à la décision présidentielle.

Le troisième point, c'est d'avoir une stratégie d'influence de la France, aussi bien économique que culturelle. Je souhaite créer une véritable culture internationale, dans les collectivités territoriales, le monde culturel, les médias, et même dans le monde syndical. Par exemple, en détachant des diplomates auprès d'entreprises ou de collectivités locales, pendant des périodes de deux ou trois ans.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aren’t they Just so Cute when they’re Pretending that they Matter?

Berlin, Paris and Warsaw keen to beef up EU military muscle
Or is that Russell the Love Muscle?

The Tea Party Phenomenon Explained to a French Audience

One day after the Republican Party's victory in the 2010 mid-term elections, Erik Svane appears on LCI's 12/14 news show to explain the Tea Party phenomenon to a French audience…

Un jour après la victoire du Parti Républicain dans les élections américaines de mi-mandat en 2010, Erik Svane s'efforce d'expliquer le phénomène des Tea Parties à un public français…

Among other guests of Katherine Coole and Philippe Ballard were Judith Bingham and Anne Deysine…

Failed State

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One Fake Crisis is not Enough

Experts Link Economy And Broadband Adoption
National Journal

"I think this country has an education crisis," Michael Powell, former FCC Chairman said at a forum convened by the Internet Innovation Alliance.

Doorbusting Geopolitical Events

Which is to say, the very opposite of the NorK condition, unless fascism becomes an Olympic sport.

Pyongyang, November 21 (KCNA) -- The Puebla State Branch of the Mexican National Preparatory Committee for Commemorating the Centenary of Birth of President Kim Il Sung was inaugurated on Nov. 13.

Arturo Mauricio Juarez Lopez, president of the Mexican Puebla State Association for Friendship with the Korean People, was elected chief of the branch.

The branch decided to briskly conduct colorful commemorations till 2012, centenary of birth of the President.
How very cosmopolitan. It’s almost like an Ice Capades of authoritarian leftism. They insist that a desperate world yearns for their wisdom! They will not disappoint!