This is essential reading: Seymour Hersh's analysis of recent changes to US Middle East policy, especially in relation to its plans for Iran.
The â€œredirection,â€ as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
The BBC deigned to report on the AVT's demonstration in Madrid at which between 7,000 and 110,000 activists marched against the early release of JosÃ© Ignacio de Juana Chaos, after he wrote threatening articles which named some judges. What's interesting about the way the protesters and the BBC presented this demo was that it was somehow to do with de Juana Chaos's previous offence, the murder of 25 people during his career in ETA. Ostensibly, however, that was not the aim of the march at all. After all, de Juana Chaos has served 18 years of his sentence for that crime and, were he any other prisoner would be out early. So yet again, a demonstration called against one thing ends up being really about another thing completely. Or a multiplicity of things, as there were the usual banners around alluding to some kind of Zapatero involvement in 11M.
The AVT has no credibility as a politically independent pressure group.
It was nice to see the 7,000 enjoying the sunshine in Madrid's streets. Nice to see them waving their flags (some of them replete with fascist emblems). Nice to see their Nazi salutes while they sang the anthem of the armed forces. There's no doubt about it: the AVT rent-a-mob are a classy bunch.
One more thing: does anyone have any recent opinion poll stats on this topic? I haven't been able to find anyone but was reliably informed by the BBC's north American Spain correspondent that 'the vast majority of Spaniards are against de Juana Chaos's release'. That's fine if it's backed up with statistics… I just can't find them. Much obliged to anyone who can enlighten me.
The film 'Bolivian Marching Powder' at VBS.TV is well worth a watch. It follows VBS reporter, Trace Crutchfield, as he explores the legal coca leaf production and sale systems in Bolivia. He gets to speak to Evo Morales for about 20 seconds too.
During the film, Crutchfield enquires as to whether anyone from outside Bolivia purchases coca leaf. The response is immediate: yes, the Coca-Cola Company buys loads of the stuff. It transpires that apparently despite an American war on coca, that most American of brands does indeed buy tonnes of coca leaf every year, which it uses for flavouring in its delicious, sweet beverage.
Apparently, the Coca-Cola Company flat denies these purchases. Well of course they would, right? I'm not decided: it looks to me as if they're buying the stuff but they deny they're putting it in their drink. So where's it going, then? This wag suggests that if the leaf isn't going into Coca-Cola then they ought to be investigated.
For the moment, I'm going to steer clear of Coca-Cola. Except at weekends, obviously.
I should add that everything at VBS.TV is well worth a watch. It can be pretty challenging and – at times – morally questionable but it's full of interesting, hilarious moments. And good music.
Robert Hughes in The Guardian Review writes a very interesting history of the development of the Catalan national myth through art and architecture. He writes a great deal about Antoni GaudÃ but also manages to mention Ildefons CerdÃ (creator of the Eixample) and Lluis DomÃ¨nech i Montaner who designed the Hospital de Sant Pau and the Palau de la MÃºsica Catalana. He also draws attention to bourgeois Catalans' apparent love for famed anti-Semite, Richard Wagner. His mythological dialogue of the Bavarian/German nation was apparently very attractive to Catalan nationalists for whom the only way to create the new Catalan nation was to root it in the misty glories of medieval times.
Even watching the game on Sopcast, that was abysmal.
This story has been developing somewhat over the last week or so. What happened was that Pickled Politics posted a Guardian article from 1986 which alleged that Paul Staines, AKA Guido Fawkes of the eponymous and higly influential Tory blog, tried to form some sort of 'joint action' team between the Federation of Conservative Students and the British National Party. Staines then threatened Pickled Politics and other bloggers who'd carried the story with legal action, suggesting that the man who likes to root around in Labour MPs' histories ought to have some sort of immunity himself.
So Pickled Politics removed the article but it has been reposted by several other blogs now… the cat' very much out of the bag on this one. Personally, I always thought that Guido was far too smug-Tory for my liking. Never trust anyone who suggests that Labour have some sort of monopoly on dodgy behaviour in Westminster. Oh, and don't believe the hype.
So, after nearly three years, the trial of 29 people alleged to have plotted to blow up trains in Madrid begins today. Let's hope that the political parties and activist groups stay out of it and allow the court to do its job. It certainly will be interesting to see if any of the suspects break down under cross-examination and accuse JesÃºs de Polanco of planting the bombs.
South of Watford will probably be the place to check for updates.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to visit the 3GSM conference by the PlaÃ§a de Espanya. As per last year, it was full of people talking on Bluetooth headsets ("forty thousand or I'll take it to Sky"), PR chicks handing out leaflets and… that's about it. I was disappointed not to find any of the companies I needed to speak to but that's work stuff.
The really bad news today is that barcelonareporter.com is now up for sale. Under John Pawlenko, it became a vital part of my web-based day and I'm really sad to see it go. I hope that if someone does buy it, they'll try to carry on the good work that made BR so great.
Joe sent me the link to this excellent video… the great Ian Svenonius interviewing the great Will Oldham (Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) on VBS.TV, Vice Magazine's new TV site. Funny clip…
This blog post at Digby's Blog analyses a New Yorker interview with the creator of popular TV series, 24. In it, Joel Surnow makes some fairly staggering assertions about what he considers to be a desire held by "every American".
Every American wishes we had someone out there quietly taking care of business. Itâ€™s a deep, dark ugly world out there. Maybe this is what Ollie North was trying to do. It would be nice to have a secret government that can get the answers and take care of businessâ€”even kill people. Jack Bauer fulfills that fantasy.
The post analyses the entire interview and adds some pretty interesting background information about this guy. I hate people who use that 'everyone hopes that…' or 'most people agree that…' line. 'Mental nutcase' is fine, though.
Regular visitors may have noticed that I've been dicking around with my blog's design recently. This is a bad habit to get into because I can easily become distracted by design elements rather than focusing on writing top quality pieces to bait iberianNotes. In fact, true design ought never to interfere with the 'creative' process.
So, I've decided to stick with this theme ('redoable') for some time, and refuse to allow myself the joy of tinkering with the CSS. Except for two things: removing the bullet-points from those link categories; and fixing my main page/post page title fields; and fixing my sidebar. Let me know if you hate this new theme, though.
Er… yeah, I've gone back to the old one.
In other news, Gemma and I are off to the land of Betis on Friday. It'll be my first trip to al Andaluz in quite some time and I'm really looking forward to it. In particular, the cathedral and the AlcÃ¡zares are meant to be stunning.
Oh, and before I forget, feliÃ§ aniversari a la meva dona! It's Tuesday the 13th!!
Australian PM, 'little' John Howard (so called because he's a short-arse), has hit out against US presidential candidate, Barack Obama, more or less claiming that a vote for Obama is a vote for Osama. This isn't the first time someone's made this odious ad hominem attack on an opponent of the dreadful war in Iraq. Obama gave as good as he got, however, and retorted pretty strongly:
I think it's flattering that one of George Bush's allies on the other side of the world started attacking me the day after I announced. I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops on the ground now, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1,400, so if he is (ready) to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq. [BBC News]
Yeah, John. What's the deal with that? Don't you hate terror enough to send more tough Aussie ockers out there? Yer pansy. I'm not sure that the ADF even has 20,000 troops but we'll ignore that for the moment.
Much as it annoys Americans who loathe foreigners commentng on their politics, thebadrash.com is 'backing' Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States. This website's blessing is arguably the least important in history but I don't really care. So there.