Friday, June 30, 2006

Globalization: American Speed In Formula One

Besides the World Cup action this weekend, hundreds of millions of TV viewers worldwide will also be checking in to an event taking place in Indianapolis, Indiana - which ironically will be seen by even less Americans than the World Cup games. It is the United States Grand Prix a round of the Formula One World Driving Championship. While NASCAR defines racing in the U.S., F1 is widely acknowledged as the pinnacle of motorports: the cars wonders of technology, the drivers the best of the best. As in Soccer, Latin Americans have a long and storied history in the sport from Argentina's Fangio, Mexico's Rodriguez brothers, Brazil's Fittipaldi,Piquet the legendary Senna, Indy 500 and Monaco winner Juan Pablo Montoya a national hero in his native Colombia. But on the technical side, global giants like Renault Mercedes, Honda, and legendary nameplates like Ferrari spend billions fielding the teams- whose world-class personnel design, test, and set-up the space-age machines that capture the imaginations of a global audience.

Unlike the previous six runnings of the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis, for the first time there will be an American driver taking the grid, Scott Speed of Manteca Calfornia. But it will also be the third year that an American company is not fielding a car, after Ford sold its underperforming Jaguar team. And unlike soccer, this is one sport where Americans have reached the pinnacle. Phil Hill and Mario Andretti were both World Driving Champions - the great Daniel Sexton Gurney should have been the third. From the start of the World Championship as we know it in the early 50's, Americans were actively involved in the sport. Drivers like Hill, Ginther, Gurney, Revson, Andretti, wanted to compete against the best, and were willing to go to Europe to pursue their dreams. U.S. companies like Ford and Goodyear invested millions in Formula One and international sports car racing, which was also populated by internationally-minded racer/entrepreneurs like Carrol Shelby and Roger Penske.

At some point the parochialism of some American sports fans and sportswriters caught up with F1. When Mario Andretti returned to U.S. competition F1's popularity in the U.S. declined and the sport failed to find a permanent home. After Mario, Eddy Cheever was the sole American in the series for most of the 80's, and Mario's son Michael had a failed attempt in 93. Many young American drivers simply could not cut it, and others were not willing to go to Europe to make it. As a result even the Indy Car World Series, which like F1 raced on road courses, suffered from a lack of American talent, that was used as an excuse to split what was once a magnificent series. NASCAR, with its Southern roots, over-agressive publicists, and junk car technology, took advantage and wiped everything off the map.

It took an Austrian company to figure it out. The biggest market in the world needed an American driver in the World Championship. Red Bull started a talent search which pitted the best young American drivers -mostly teens- against each other. In addition to pure speed, the drivers were also measured by non-racing criteria such as poise with the media, fitness, and mental attitude. Winners would get the opportunity to move to Europe and a paid ride in the continents minor league racing series - with the promise of continued support all the way up the ladder to Formula One if the performance was there. The competition is structured to mimic the path of todays top Formula One drivers. Stars like current world champ Fernando Alonso and the Finnish prodigy, Kimi Raikkonnenn, honed their skills starting from their teens in the ruthlessly competitive European Karting and ladder series.

So young Scott Speed, who dreamed of Formula One since he was 11, and barely out of his teens was one of the finalists in the Red Bull Search and went to Europe. Unfortunately, a serious intestinal disease almost ended his racing career - not to mention almost having his intestine removed. But he overcame the disease and showed his commitment by remaining in Europe. And under Red Bell's wing (no pun intended) he has succeeded at every level in the ladder, and now has a ride in Squadra Torro Rosso, one of Red Bulls two teams. Mind you, this is among the slowest cars in thei field, the team has no reasonable chances of winning a race. But in F1 where only 22 drivers have full-time seats, good performances in a slow car, can elevate you to the storied top teams like McLaren or Ferrari. Red Bull's "first team" aspires to that elite, and it is considered to be the next step up for any Red Bull driver. And that is what Speed expects to do, to make the waves that will push him into a better ride. It is nice to see this kind of commitment to succeed in what is not an "American" form of competition, but which is a global standard of excellence.

Pretty ironic that it was an Austrian Multi-National that created the conditions for Speed to be running in the USGP. The company is trying to not only win a World Championship, it wants to put an American in the position of winning it. It is banking that it can sell more cans of Red Bull by growing the sport in the US, all the time increasing its brand exposure worldwide. Call it a win-win in a globalized market. By the way, Red Bulls #1 team, used to be the underperforming Jaguar team, which the Ford honchos at Dearborn were just too happy to sell after spending hundreds of millions of dollars.

Paraguay - CHI-LA-VERT!!! Chilavert as Univision Broadcaster

One of the true delights of Univision's World Cup coverage has been former Paraguay goalkeeper, and 3 time world keeper of the year, Jose Luis Chilavert in the booth. The network hit a home run by putting him in the booth with play by play man Jorge Perez, who has an easy command of both the true and tested style of Latin American soccer broadcasting, in addition to the hip, smart-aleck, -but knowledgeable- new-school style ESPN pioneered. The result is a lively and entertaining broadcast. Chila, always outspoken and brash, is a serious student of the game and an incisive commentator. All those years in top leagues and international play, defending his goal, organizing and motivating defenders, and taking free kicks, have clearly left him with a rich understanding, that few people have. Even fewer people are able to break it down like he does - put it across in a rapid fire broadcast - while also talking about a fun night at the bar in Munich was.


Hopefully they can freeze out the crowd and go about their business.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bolivia: Gratuitous Eye Candy -- Camba Babes Saying No To Evo..... they rallied for autonomy...but darn Cambas are some hotties! Stolen from Publius.

Latin America: Quote Of The Day

From Conor Foley, who is from the thinking left:

One of the problems, it seems to me, is that much of the British left still think in rather lazy clichés about Latin America, which tends to define where people stand on the political spectrum solely by how vocal they are in their anti-US rhetoric. This might have made sense a few decades ago, when many Latin American governments were little more than US-backed military puppets, but it is a patronising and one-sided view today.

That would extend to just about all the anti-globalization left. And come to think of it you might as well throw in the right too, there is some sloppy writing out there.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Moon Landing Denier Gets Buzzed

LMAO. Courtesy of Boz.

One of the nuts denying the lunar landings happened, gets tagged by a pretty fit Buzz Aldrin.

NICARAGUA: Ortega Picks Contra Leader As Running Mate

In another cynical move, Daniel Ortega chose former Contra leader Jaime Morales Carazo, as his VP candidate. Ortega had confiscated and occupied Morales house when Somoza was overthrown. After the Sandinistas lost power, Ortega under provisions of a hastily approved law, "bought" the property for about $2,000.00 dollars.

Morales, who is now a congressman, says he doesn't see the paradox in his joining the Ortega ticket.

''I think Ortega has matured, learned from his mistakes and has sincerity and desire to get to public office to have true reconciliation,'' Morales said.

He said his pro-business background and desire for positive relations with the United States will not conflict with Ortega's leftist anti-U.S. rhetoric, because ``times have changed.''

Cynics say Morales just likes to be close to power. He was the right-hand man of former President Arnoldo Alemán, a harsh Sandinista critic who succeeded Ortega, but broke from him during a corruption scandal for which Alemán is now serving a 20-year sentence.

Bolivia: Venezuela Military Continue Entering Country

As Bolivian TV shows, uniformed Venezuelan military personnel keep on entering Bolivia with impunity, while Evo claims that Social Worker/Grad Students are in fact US Military personnel.
Jonathan spotted this, and uploaded the video.

Bolivia: Evo Sees Gringo Spies In His Soup

Evo denounced the US for sending military personel to spy and perform all sorts of vile deeds in Bolivia. In a speech, he claimed they arrived disguised as students. Even Jim Schultz, the Evo apologist par excellance, thought this one was a little strange. With baited breath most of us waited for the confirmation which duly arrived in this government bulletin which has some interesting things to say.


Evo's original claim that 23 US military personel entered the country, was "confirmed" by none other than....the Bolivian Minister of Government - sort of like the Chief of Staff to the President.

Chuflay, Shaken Not Stirred, 007--A La Boliviana
Apparently this goes back to March 3, 2006, when the spymasters of "Bolivian Intelligence Agencies" began an counter-intelligence "operation," designed to identify American military personnel, that were going to attend courses at NUR University.

El tres de marzo, organismos de inteligencia bolivianos iniciaron operaciones en el aeropuerto de Viru-Viru, en Santa Cruz, para identificar al personal militar norteamericano que llegaría para un curso de quechua en la universidad NUR.n

BUSTED..For Taking Sociology 401
The Minister stated that the "suspects" when confronted, they indicated they were taking a course in "Social Conflict Resolution" at a local University.
According to the Minister that type of courses due to their "sensitivity" are "reserved" exclusively to "high-level" government and military personnel, involved in "special units, intelligence, and the war on terror". And in said courses, they are trained in decisionmaking and operations in situations involving "kidnapping, rebellions, mutinies, and popular insurrections".
Muñoz found it "extremely suspicious" that such young civilian personnel were involved with such a sinister course and said the Bolivian government was in the middle of an intensive "investigation" behind this.
-Ms. Muñoz never does tell us why such classified U.S. government training, is available exclusively through a summer course, costing $3,400.00 dollars, offered at a University in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

La ministra, Muñoz, afirmó que la denuncia fue hecha con responsabilidad, sobre información fehaciente. Estos militares, dijo, al verse descubiertos argumentaron que vinieron a Bolivia a un curso sobre "Resolución de Conflictos Sociales".

Los cursos de manejo de crisis y conflictos internos, por ser temas muy sensibles, importantes y con clasificación de reservados, solo están dirigidos a personal de alta jerarquía del gobierno y personal militar especializado en este manejo como ser unidades especiales, de inteligencia y de lucha contra el terrorismo
En estos cursos se entrena al personal en los niveles de decisión y de operaciones en situaciones de secuestros, rebeliones, amotinamientos y alzamientos armados populares..

Siendo demasiado sospechoso que personal civil, sobre todo estudiantes jóvenes, tenga acceso a esta clase de cursos, la titular de Gobierno, dijo a la ABI, que el caso es investigado minuciosamente por los mecanismos de inteligencia.<

The Proof Is In The.....
hmmm....One of the alleged spies, registered at the U.S. embassy after arriving, something only done by "diplomats and military personnel." Without questioning the logic of why an undercover operative would go straight to the U.S. embassy in an extemely visible manner, one has to wonder if the Minister has ever thought a student staying in a foreign country would not want to inform his local embassy of his presence, should any calamity befall him - such as being followed and interrogated by military intelligence officers??

Este militar dijo ser estudiante, sin embargo se inscribió en la embajada de los Estados Unidos a su llegada, lo cual solo se hace en el caso de diplomáticos y militares.

Summer In Bolivia = Imperialist Domination Techniques
Well, checking out the national security course, that so troubles the Bolivian government:

To accomplish these goals, ACT, in partnership with Nur University, developed the Summer Institute on Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), an intensive 3-week residential program to build the capacity of current and future professionals to make a critical difference in furthering peaceful relations in the world.
IPCR offers a stimulating integration of theory and practice, bringing together innovative academic analysis with practical, hands-on training and skills development, combined with personal and professional development.
IPCR will help participants achieve the following objectives:
· Improve conflict analysis skills to design effective interventions
·Develop practical skills to implement peacebuilding and conflict resolution programs
·Increase capacities for cross-sectoral work
·Highlight ‘best practices’ in the field
·Develop ongoing professional networks between participants, program staff and guest speakers to support personal and career development

Wow, that sounds real "suspicious" LOL....
And the agency behind these hateful messages?

Conflict is an inseparable part of human interaction. When addressed constructively it can lead to peaceful and positive change. ACT provides innovative research, training and intervention services to help transform destructive conflicts by addressing underlying needs and concerns, building sustainable relationships, and changing the conditions that foster violence. Founded in 1999 to expand the knowledge and practice of conflict transformation and peacebuilding, ACT empowers communities, organizations and governmental agencies to:

* Develop new conflict resolution capacities
* Reduce and prevent violence
* Create relationships and institutions that foster sustainable peace are the spymasters:
Funnier even, that a former Sandinista minister is among the faculty teaching the courses.
I think Evo is trying to distract people from the Venezuelan Military forces entering the country, and to fire up a bit of anti-Santa Cruz hate. But, boy, this is just communique is just plain retarded. It is hilariously stupid and kind of sad at the same time. I mean you have to be really, really ignorant, to come up with B.S. like that, specially about college courses. Specially courses whose very curriculum is straight out of the NGO/Development Agency playbook that the Evo-maniacs supposedly know well.

USA: Immigrants, Making It, and The American Dream

Latin Lista has an entry on this academic conference, about immigration. The gist of the conference appears to be a response to Samuel Huntingtons controversial article. In a nutshell he claims that continued Latino immigration will produce un-assimilable ethnic pockets -with values contrary to the Anglo-Protestant values the country was founded and developed on - and that this will fragment the U.S. As evidence he cited the Southwest USA, and Miami Florida.

In response, these articles by academics - based on solid scholarship - both challenge and/or dispprove Huntington's major points. The findings, consistent with census data and marketing data out there, find that the children of Latino immigrants learn English, advance further along than their parents, and in effect "assimilate" and embrace the American Dream.

Mexican Americans and The American Dream

Cuban Emigres And The American Dream

Mexican Immigrant Political and Economic Incorporation

In the end, this is common sense, but the narrow minded lemmings don't get it in their isolationism. People outside of the US complain endlessly about the "Americanization" of their kids. No one ever thinks about how strong the pull of US mass media and consumer society is to immigrant kids.

Monday, June 26, 2006

US: NYT Threatened With Prosecution - The Joe Scarborough Test

So the Bush administration is going nuts about the New York Times' disclosure of secret efforts to gain access to foreign banking information.

Joe Scarborough - the ex-Republican congressman, talked about the issue on his MSNBC show. Scarborough, thinks the feds are overeaching. He has his unique test:

Whether or not his fellow Republicans on the judiciary committee when he served on it, would have raised a stink if proposed by the Clinton Administration and by Janet Reno.

Congrats To Miami Heat....Belated

World Cup Soccer - and a full racing weekend- kept me busy but belated congratulations to the 2006 NBA Champions Miami Heat. Amazing comeback from 0-2 in the series. Dwayne Wade is the real deal. And I am saying that as a loyal Lakers fan for 30+years (who is still p.o.'d at Shaq b/t/w), who lived through the Jordan V 2.0 years in Chicago and the original Bad Boys in Detroit. Congratulations to Heat fans, and to non Miami people out there, the team does have a loyal following - and not bandwagon hoppers.

Dave Barry has a characteristically funny take on it here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

World Cup: AY, AY, AY, AY....Mexico and Argentina put on a clinic

Too bad one of the Latin American teams had to go, really bad for Mexico,..but I am glad Argentina went through in the end, they have an awesome team - with some serious talent, and with their history can go out there and win the cup.

Mexico will now proceed to crucify their Argentinian coach and play the blame game endlessly. At least in this game, Lavolpe actually did a great job with some young players, they kept the Argentinians on their toes for 120 minutes - didn't clog the back,. and played good football in the mddle, and went up front with skill and guts. And even in overtime-they conceded a goal that was out of this world. But they didn't quit or collapse.
Rafa Marquez showed why he plays for the 2006 Champions League and La Liga Champions. He is a world class defender.

I hope Argentina beats the Germans.... The America's need to take care of business.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

World Cup: Excuse To Post Babe Pictures

LOL....Ecuadorian Dad ain't watching the game, don't blame him either.

Friday, June 23, 2006

US: You Can Call Me Al, Gore For President??

Marty Peretz, publisher of The New Republic, apparently just endorsed Al Gore for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008. No secret that Peretz (and TNR's editorial position) have been big on Gore since the mid 80's.
Interesting stuff. Gore, was robbed in 2000, so there is none of that loser tag that hangs over Kerry. He is no wimpy liberal, people forget that with Sam Nunn, he was a resolute cold warrior who voted for Contra aid. He is a Free Trader, tempered with a genuine commitment to the environment. The Daily Kosistas cannot say he does not cave in to business. His ideas on reinventing government, take a pragmatic, market-friendly approach to solving real problems. As a southerner, he understands folks who live outside of the east coast.

Lets see.

Venezuela: Is Chavez a Socialist?????

That is the question Alek Boyd asks, and which is debated on the Foreign Policy Forum.

IMO - which I clumsily try to write down - Chavez is part nationalistic military strongman, part populist demagouge, who builds a cult of personality around himself. In many ways, a sort of Latin American Nasser. He is taking a page out of Marxist-Leninist tradition to build support in poor communities, the block committee types. But in the end, his power is based more on the military than on the ballot box results.

His domestic economic policies, are pretty much consistent with previous governments, a rentist, state-based approach in a petro-economy experiencing a boom cycle. The State serves as the filter for oil funds, and distributes the money to different constituencies - the rich, cronies, army, poor, middle class. Chavez is just good at PR,when he does these things. His solutions to poverty are pretty much throw money at things and take pictures when you do it. It is more like a combination of irresponsible fiscal policies and crony capitalism - allowed when oil is at 70 a barrel.

What distinguishes him I would say that his foreign policy is very anti-capitalist and very anti-American. And that is the worst part, by creating this sort of alliance, he is in fact destroying possibilities of South American integration and free trade treaties.

Discussion Here

MEXICO: El Peje-Programa, Antonio Manuel Lopez Obrador Policy Proposals

Courtesy of some of my Mexican friends, a site that contains each candidates proposals - with Mexican experts commenting on the feasibility of each one of the programs, scoring it from 1 to 10, with all of them averaged out.

AMLO's Policy Prescriptions/Campaign Promises are here.
Specific Proposals
Briefly one of them, calls for payments to lower income families, and lowered costs of basic goods

This one is lowering government spending, through salary reductions of top officials


As you can see both of these proposals receive an abysmal score. A 1 for the spending reductions and for direct payments a 4. In other words these proposals are what one writer termed "magical-realist economics" that sound fantastic and might work -- in an alternate universe where basic economic facts are suspended -- and which a few really silly people, swear exists.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

WORLD CUP: Who Do You Root For?

Interesting piece in the Washington Post, Who do you root for??? Something that immigrants, and kids of immigrants can relate to.



Duh! That is kind of easy for me.

I can relate to this one too:

"When the U.S. scores a goal, am I going to be jumping out of my seat and high-fiving my friends?" asks Lopez. "Yes!"

Naturally: He was born in Cleveland, 33 years ago.

But: His parents are natives of Peru.

So: "If Peru were in the Cup, I'd be going, 'Go Peru!' "

Latino Americans may be in the trickiest position of all. The immigration wars are being fought over this community in particular. And Washington's Hispanic population features such a wide spectrum of national identities and economic classes.

At the start of every one of the 64 games, picking a sentimental favorite can be like running the data through a flowchart. If neither the old country nor the United States is competing, the default position is to support any other Latin American team (including Brazil), plus Spain and probably Portugal.

I hear that one (go Brazil!)
Maria Alecia Izuttiaga in "El Venezolano" calls this one taking out the euro-centric "family tree", a dilemma facing Mr. Lopez our Peruvian-American here.

He sounds relieved he doesn't have to grapple with that dilemma of identity and allegiance. But he does have another: Three of his grandparents were born in Spain. (The fourth? Italian. ) The family still has a vineyard in Spain, and he spent many a fond boyhood summer in that country.

As Andres Oppenheimer illustrated.
I have to confess that I thoroughly enjoyed it when Trinidad and Tobago, a country whose national sport is cricket and whose population of just over one million makes it the smallest nation ever to participate in a World Cup, managed to tie 0-0 with soccer powerhouse Sweden. Or when Ecuador beat mightier Poland 2-0, or when Ghana -- playing for the first time in a World Cup -- easily won against the Czech Republic, 2-0.

See, it is not only rooting for the underdog, you make common cause with the soccer minnows, particularly if they are from third world countries playing a European power.

At last, the game begins. When Costa Rica scores a goal against Germany, the day laborers leap to their feet and shout huzzahs in three languages. The Africans always back their Latino brothers against a European power, and vice versa.

A rule if you are Latin American (except Argentinian), and you are not from a soccer power - or even from non-soccer countries. In 1982, when Brazil scored goals, fireworks would go off in Panama City. When Brazil lost that game to Italy some of my Nicaraguan classmates were crying. As the Post article also says, Brazil is default for many African fans for the Brazilian style of play, and that can be extended to those who enjoy attacking football played with flair.

ARBITRO HIJUEPUTA!!!! Ref Ruins Game- Ghana eliminates US


US GETS ELIMINATED... partly through completely bogus call on that penalty shot. The Ghanian player dove like an olympic swimmer.

It was not a way... Jose Luis Chilavert (the great former Paraguayan goal keeper and Univision color man) said it was an outrageous call, and gave the refs and linesmen, a score of 4.5 out of 10, for atrocious calls throughout.

It robs the spectacle of the game. Ghana and the US were playing an entertaining game, with Italy beating the Czechs, the winner here advanced. This penalty basically changed the dynamics, and Ghana could sit on the difference.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

USA: Global Warming, Hot Air and Junk Science Republicans, Gore

So Al Gore comes out with this movie about Global Warming. Then many Republicans and the right wing blogosphere jump all over him, claiming that his central idea, that greenhouse gases are causing the warming of the earth are basically wrong. Lets just say that "alarmist" and "chicken little" are the least of what Mr. Gore gets called.

But, here is what I don't get. Why call the guy out, when you are the ones being dumb?
Hey, I am as skeptical as anyone. Liberals and/or environmentalists have based more than one regulation or restriction on claims based on "Junk Science" - anything from citing findings which many reasonable scientists think is bogus or selectively quoting from scientific studies without looking at the whole picture. An example is over-stating and over-excagerating the danger of nuclear power plants - without mentioning the clean and safe power plants in Japan and France. Or supporting a "clean" alternative fuel, without mentioning you need energy from polluting conventional sources to produce it.
Back in the early 90's, you could read articles by climatoligists and other scientists skeptical about global warming. The point was, sweeping policy changes (very expensive ones) were being proposed world-wide to reduce emissions, but there was an informed argument by some scientists that at its core that central premise was shaky. Sounded reasonable, call me a GW skeptic, so get busy and research the issue further.


For the past couple of hundred years, scientists try to figure out things using the scientific method, which involves reasoning, and examining things - rationality and empiricsm as the eggheads call it. What you basically do is use the tools available to you to examine a phenomenon (like climate changes the past centuries), looking for particular trends (in cooling or warming), and see what kind of explanations these trends have (natural causes, or man-made greenhouse gases). If you find there is a warming trend this century you compare it with previous warming trends and eliminate different explanations. If your data shows explanations for change due to natural causes, or as part of a general trend in warming, you can eliminate greenhouse emissions as a cause. That precisely was one of the most solid arguments made by a few scientists, more than a decade ago.
But check this chart.
The time series shows the combined global land and marine surface temperature record from 1856 to 2005. The year 2005 was the second warmest on record, exceeded by 1998. This time series is being compiled jointly by the Climatic Research Unit and the UK Met. Office Hadley Centre. The record is being continually up-dated and improved. The principal reason is to detect climate change due to global warming through an increase in temperature in the instrumental record. Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to human activities are most likely the underlying cause of warming in the 20th century.

The key references for this time series are:

Jones, P.D., New, M., Parker, D.E., Martin, S. and Rigor, I.G., 1999:
Surface air temperature and its changes over the past 150 years.
Reviews of Geophysics, 37, 173-199.

Jones, P.D. and Moberg, A., 2003:
Hemispheric and large-scale surface air temperature variations: An extensive revision and an update to 2001.
Journal of Climate, 16, 206-223.

The 1990s were the warmest decade in the series.
The warmest year of the entire series has been 1998, with a temperature of 0.58°C above the 1961-90 mean. Nine of the ten warmest years in the series have now occurred in the past ten years (1995-2004). The only year in the last ten not among the warmest ten is 1996 (replaced in the warm list by 1990).

Conclusion: These scientists are saying is that man-made factors in the form of greenhouse emission, are causing a warming of the earths temperatures, and that the past decade was one of the warmest on record.
Hypothesis, using the same scientific method lets look at what most scientists think? Start with the "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which was "Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Programme", and which claims its mission is to "evaluate the state of climate science. they claim that:

the consensus of scientific opinion is that Earth's climate is being affected by human activities: "Human activities ... are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents ... that absorb or scatter radiant energy. ... [M]ost of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations"

Thats what the World Government - Egghead position. Data Well what do the specific scientists that study climate think? Not by a yes or no result in a poll, but whether they consider it good science. That as scientists, with their research, education, and experience in their respective fields, believe that the conclusion that greenhouse emissions cause a global warming of temperatures,is sound and that it was reached through the rigorous application of the scientific method by many of their peers. Sound enough, that they themselves base their continued work and research on these conclusions. To find out, lets see what they themelves say in publications, in the scientific journals which are subject to review and criticism from their peers.

That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change" (9).

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point.

This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of their professional societies. Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect.


IPCC is not alone in its conclusions. In recent years, all major scientific bodies in the United States whose members' expertise bears directly on the matter have issued similar statements. For example, the National Academy of Sciences report, Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, begins: "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise" [p. 1 in (5)]. The report explicitly asks whether the IPCC assessment is a fair summary of professional scientific thinking, and answers yes: "The IPCC's conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue" [p. 3 in (5)].

Others agree. The American Meteorological Society (6), the American Geophysical Union (7), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) all have issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling (8).

WHO'S JUNK SCIENCE??? So what do the Republicans say about this? As The New Republic points out, they simply keep on embarrassing themselves, denying the obvious or obscuring it. TNR breaks down a WSJ article that is based on faulty science, and is content to merely pick apart small differences in opinion among scientists, then making sweeping generalizations about it. Yeah right, and it was also theoretically possible that the blood from the gloves and socks was planted, and that the blood at the scene was not O.J.'s. That works in Court - sometimes - but not as real scientific fact.

Mexico: AMLO - "The Tropical Messiah"

Enrique Krause has written a brilliant essay on Antonio Manuel Lopez Obrador, that appeared in its original Spanish version in Letras Libres The English version is here (will link it soon). Basically, it sheds some light on the cultural and political life of AMLO's home state, where he grew up and developed as a politician.

Mexico: AMLO - "The Tropical Messiah"

Enrique Krause has written a brilliant essay on Antonio Manuel Lopez Obrador, that appeared in its original Spanish version in Letras Libres The English version is here (will link it soon). Basically, it sheds some light on the cultural and political life of AMLO's home state, where he grew up and developed as a politician.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Brazil, China, Lula, and Friends

Spotted by A.M. atPublius Carlos Alberto Montaner gives an interesting tidbit on a conversation Brazilian president Lula had with Javier Solana.

(FIRMAS PRESS. Madrid) Javier Solana, the European Union's skillful Minister of Foreign Relations, let slip a revealing confidence. As he said during a seminar held recently in Spain, a somewhat melancholy Lula da Silva described to him his frustrating experience with the Chinese authorities. The Brazilian leader had gone to Beijing to try to recruit the Chinese for the creation of a kind of political-economic axis that would include China, India, South Africa and Brazil, but he found no receptivity among the Chinese, who naturally were the key element in the emerging Third-World pole Lula was trying to promote.

That is really telling. More than whatever specifics of what he proposed - which is not clear - Lula gets blown off, a sign that Chavez and Morales can expect nothing from them either, unless it involves cold hard cash or the possibility of cash.

The anecdote illustrates the fundamental difference between the international vision of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, a geological engineer and veteran apparatchik, and that of Lula da Silva, former labor union leader and President of Brazil. The Asian leader is a pragmatic statesman, more interested in prolonging his country incredible economic feat than in engaging in worldwide political rivalries typical of the Cold War, while the Latin American, despite his relative and perhaps growing moderation, remains trapped in the false political schemes of old, which pictured a hostile world where East and West, or North and South, or poor and rich countries faced each other off, a belligerent scene that supposedly required nations to seek protection under the vault of some saving bloc.

Montaner, is prone to making sweeping generalizations and over-excagerating on his shorter pieces, when he compares both the Chinese and the Brazlian leader he hits some, misses others:

Lula is not articulating any such "alliance" between his country, China, India and South America because he happens to be a former labor leader or has center left positions. Montaner should know better. Brazil does not just propose significant international treaties - or shift its foreign policy, without the consensus of its foreign policy establishment, with input from civilian and military strategists and business leaders. That proposal of an "alliance" sounds like something the foreign ministry would come up with and present to whoever was in power in Brazil, left, right or center.
Since Montaner does not say much as to the substance of the proposal beyond that it is a "political-economic axis", I can only guess. Well fact is, any alliance, economic political or otherwise, would cover more than half of humanity, 4 of the largest countries of the world, and by size 1 and 2 largest markets in the world. The Chinese, no matter who the messenger, are not easy to convince to do anything, much less anything involving India.

So all four of these countries are at least partially in the Southern Hemisphere, with ample coastlines, close to shipping lanes. Wonder if Lula is proposing some sort of common market? Is he asking about some sort of transfer payments to elevate Brazilian's poor?? Both Brazil and South Africa have a good core economy, with millions of highly educated citizens at the first world level - but still have scary wealth disparities.

I like Montaner's larger point to not fear the Chineses economy, that is true. But on the other hand, do not for a moment think that the Chinese Dragon will not show its teeth to defend what it perceives as its national interest.

Globalization Works! On The Soccer Field...Andres Oppenheimer

Andres Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald.

Critics of globalization should take a close look at the World Cup soccer games in Germany: They may be the best example of how an increasingly open world economy is helping emerging countries become stronger and more competitive.
Up-and-coming countries are doing reasonably well in the World Cup. While they are most often not beating the best in the world, they are making them sweat like crazy.


Indeed, soccer may be one of the most globalized industries. Until the early '90s, soccer was one of the most protected industries in the world. European soccer clubs could only hire a limited number of foreign players -- most often two -- per team. But in 1995, a Belgian player named Jean-Marc Bosman sued the French soccer federation, demanding to be allowed to play in France. The case went to the European Court of Justice, and he won.

Branko Milanovic, a World Bank poverty expert and author of the recent essay ''Globalization and Goals: Does Soccer Show the Way?'' in the Review of International Political Economy, said that lawsuit changed the history of soccer. After the European court ruled Bosman's club had violated the Treaty of Rome's protection of free movement of labor within the European Union, soccer clubs throughout Europe began hiring foreigners at full steam.

I would also point out that before the Bosman ruling, there was another critical year. In 1982 for the World Cup held in Spain, the number of teams playing in the cup went up from 16 to 24, adding spots for Central America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. First round play produced a series of shocking results, including host Spain almost losing to Honduras - escaping with a tie, powerful Germany losing to Argelia, and Camerun shocking eventual champion Italy. European clubs saw the quality of players from Africa and smaller countries ,and signed several, that in turn spurred players worldwide to aspire to play in Europe. The economic crisis in Latin America,weakened soccer clubs, and top players of the wonderful Brazilian and good Argentinian side went to Spain and Italy. Barcelona had started it by paying a record transfer fee for Maradona. Within Europe, top players like Platini, Rummenigge, Mattheus migrated to Italy and Spain. Even Iron Curtain Poland got into the act, allowing players in their peak like Boniek to leave, no doubt happy about receiving hard currency.

There was space available for many of these top Latin American and European players in clubs - as well as African and Latin American players, due to clever ways around restrictions. Argentinians and Uruguayans with Italian surnames were eligible for Italian passports, falling outside of foreign player cap. Africans from ex-French and Portuguese colonies found a similar avenue. If you also signed a player early, at a point where he could not expect to reasonably get first team action, he could expect to reside long enough in the country to get residence or a passport, making him eligible to play as a national.


Traditionally, European and Latin American soccer players, sign professionaly as teenagers with a club, play in youth and reserve teams with the goal of reaching the first team. With the economic crisis in South America, Argentinian and Brazilian teams, found it increasingly profitable to sell younger players, as well as established stars to European clubs. And one of the best showcases to advertise younger players was in junior team World Cups, or U-17, where the Africans also shone. And by getting them young, European clubs developed them according to their training methods and were able to skirt foreign player restrictions.

When Bosman finally arrived, what was already more than a trickle became a floodgate. Players with European passports could now move freely and not fall under restrictions. Scouts go worldwide, and a country's best players know they have a chance to sign with a European club, whether the person is from Honduras, Bolivia, Cameroon, Togo, Tunisia, or South Korea. The best football is played in professional leagues in Spain, Italy, Holland, Germany, France and England. When you have players who start in even the less prestigious clubs at the top in those leagues, they routinely play against the likes of Ronaldinho, Del Piero, Beckham, Crespo, et al. They lose that fear of country X, because they play against that player. They bring that back to them, when they join their national side.


Mexico's soccer clubs are the richest, and arguably the best run in Latin America. South American players can expect to make more than in their home countries - and catch European clubs attention. But, these same clubs will not sell promising young Mexican players to European teams, the way they do so is setting artificially high transfer fees, making them more expensive than an equally qualified South American player. They are able to do this across the board, because many of the biggest and most popular clubs are owned by one Media conglomerate. That way they keep star Mexican players in the country to produce the results which sells game tickets, keeps ratings high, and pushes sales of merchandise in Mexico and in the lucrative U.S. market. When players at finally allowed to go, it is at a point where they are older and more set in their ways, well after the critical adolescent years where a club can fully develop players. Rafa Marquez of Barcelona is a brilliant exception to that rule, and if Mexico truly aspires to become a world power it needs to export its players to Europe.

The U.S. faces similar problems, compounded by the spotty history of the U.S. profesional leagues. Organized American Soccer traditionally has been an amateur, upper middle class enclave, shaped by US sports culture -- what little "soccer culture" came from British expats, long removed from the UK. The furthest a high school kid with talent could get was a few big college teams. So in the name of NCAA eligibility rules, kids from middle school to college played a short regular season (+ whatever post-season) and amateur leagues in the off season, unlike Latin Americans and Europeans who were already professionals by then. Some U.S. players after college tried Europe, with a few notable exceptions, most were so far behind the curve at their age that they did not do well. The ones who did better, usually left college earlier, like Claudio Reyna.

There were drastic changes after the 1994 World Cup, finally caused a change of attitude in Soccer leadership. A national team was patched together containing actual professionals, and a professional league was started after the Cup. But MLS also had its problems from the get go. Conceived as a single ownership structure it micro-managed team decisions. The league basically tried reinvinting the wheel, by "Americanizing" the game through such buffoonery as "Shoot-Outs" and reversing the clocks. But, finally the league managed to break the stranghold of the college game, and began signing kids while still in high school. But, like their Mexican counterparts the league still holds on to too many players instead of sending them to Europe.
FAILINGS: Through artifically restrictions designed to keep domestic players at home, both Mexico and U.S. soccer league ownership is depriving the country of the potential of its local pool of talent. Americans in particular, are also lagging further through their failure to adapt to global realities of the game, and also through not tapping a substantial source of both talent and soccer knowledge in its immigrant communities.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Bolivia: Aymara Language Findings, Unique Definition of Future

Old School
Interesting stuff. Aymara is a fascinating and "pure" language, that evolved in the isolation of the Andean highlands for thousands of years.

The language of the Aymara, who live in the Andes highlands of Bolivia, Peru and Chile, has been noticed by Westerners since the earliest days of the Spanish conquest. A Jesuit wrote in the early 1600s that Aymara was particularly useful for abstract ideas, and in the 19th century it was dubbed the "language of Adam." More recently, Umberto Eco has praised its capacity for neologisms, and there have even ntil now, all the studied cultures and languages of the world – from European and Polynesian to Chinese, Japanese, Bantu and so on – have not only characterized time with properties of space, but also have all mapped the future as if it were in front of ego and the past in back. The Aymara case is the first documented to depart from the standard model,"
no one had previously detailed the Aymara's "radically different metaphoric mapping of time" – a super-fundamental concept, which, unlike the idea of "democracy," say, does not rely on formal schooling and isn't an obvious product of culture.

Dimelo Delante de Ella.......
The authors collected a cross-section of data from 20 hours of conversations with Aymaras, covering a geographic cross section, and with speakers ranging to those who speak only Aymara to Spanish-only speakers.
What-u-Mean Wiracocha?

The linguistic evidence seems, on the surface, clear: The Aymara language recruits "nayra," the basic word for "eye," "front" or "sight," to mean "past" and recruits "qhipa," the basic word for "back" or "behind," to mean "future." So, for example, the expression "nayra mara" – which translates in meaning to "last year" – can be literally glossed as "front year.".......................
Analysis of the gestural data proved telling: The Aymara, especially the elderly who didn't command a grammatically correct Spanish, indicated space behind themselves when speaking of the future – by thumbing or waving over their shoulders – and indicated space in front of themselves when speaking of the past – by sweeping forward with their hands and arms, close to their bodies for now or the near past and farther out, to the full extent of the arm, for ancient times. In other words, they used gestures identical to the familiar ones – only exactly in reverse.

My Minds Playing Tricks on Me..
Till now, every studied culture in the world has conceived of time through the way our bodies move and the way the eyes see. Front is the future, and past is behind. In the Andean highlands, peoples with the same body structure developed a radically different conception - that some might find counterintuitive.

"These findings suggest that cognition of such everyday abstractions as time is at least partly a cultural phenomenon," Nunez said. "That we construe time on a front-back axis, treating future and past as though they were locations ahead and behind, is strongly influenced by the way we move, by our dorsoventral morphology, by our frontal binocular vision, etc. Ultimately, had we been blob-ish amoeba-like creatures, we wouldn't have had the means to create and bring forth these concepts.

"But the Aymara counter-example makes plain that there is room for cultural variation. With the same bodies – the same neuroanatomy, neurotransmitters and all – here we have a basic concept that is utterly different," he said.

Porque? Kunata? Just The Facts Ma'am.

Why, however, is not entirely certain. One possibility, Nunez and Sweetser argue, is that the Aymara place a great deal of significance on whether an event or action has been seen or not seen by the speaker.

A "simple" unqualified statement like "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue" is not possible in Aymara – the sentence would necessarily also have to specify whether the speaker had personally witnessed this or was reporting hearsay.

In a culture that privileges a distinction between seen/unseen – and known/unknown – to such an extent as to weave "evidential" requirements inextricably into its language, it makes sense to metaphorically place the known past in front of you, in your field of view, and the unknown and unknowable future behind your back.

Though that may be an initial explanation – and in line with the observation, the researchers write, that "often elderly Aymara speakers simply refused to talk about the future on the grounds that little or nothing sensible could be said about it" – it is not sufficient, because other cultures also make use of similar evidential systems and yet still have a future ahead

I Can't Explain..
The consequences, on the other hand, may have been profound. This cultural, cognitive-linguistic difference could have contributed, Nunez said, to the conquistadors' disdain of the Aymara as shiftless – uninterested in progress or going "forward."


Now, while the future of the Aymara language itself is not in jeopardy – it numbers some two to three million contemporary speakers – its particular way of thinking about time seems, at least in Northern Chile, to be on the way out.
The study's younger subjects, Aymara fluent in Spanish, tended to gesture in the common fashion. It appears they have reoriented their thinking. Now along with the rest of the globe, their backs are to the past, and they are facing the future.

I will talk about this further a bit later....

Sunday, June 18, 2006

RANT- World Cup, US Soccer, ESPN/ABC Announcers

FUCKING A, I watched the US game again...First game I see entirely on ESPN/ABC - What garbage announcers... Balboa is a talking jock.....whatever.. I don't blame him. On the other hand, the annoucer holy crap, how incompetent -- Absolutely no sense of what the fuck was going on, just inane commentary.
I might as well been watching the 3rd through 7th innings of the Blue Jays versus the Marlins, the scoreless second quarter of Bowling Green vs. Fresno State - with both teams 1-8. What a total inability to really give any perspective on the drama and intensity going on in the field, on what a big fucking deal it really was - something every soccer fan in the world got. It was a classic sports cliche moment-think Kirk Gibson's homer or the "Miracle on Ice" - it was Americans involved, and lame commentators blew it in front of a national audience.
The last 15 mintues of a game, you do not put graphs and waste time clinically dissecting the mathematical chances for the US to go advance to the next round...when you are holding Italy to a tie in a world cup game...when in the background you hear the crowd roaring. Shit, the skeptics in the world sporting press called the US defense "heroic" - you would never know it.
The dudes on Univision were going nuts most of the game- by the second half they were at fever pitch, the last ten minutes hysterical. Host, Fernando Fiore said he was "sweating" the ending, and from his expression and voice he was visibly shaken when they cut to him right after the game ended.

The World Cup should be on Fox Sports. Those guys know how to call a game, they understand the passion and rhythms of the game as most of the world does, and they know every US-Sports cliche in the book

Saturday, June 17, 2006

U-S-A....CON GANAS!!! -- Gana Ghana con Ganas! -- Minnows step up

Hopefully the "average Joe" sports fans casually tuning in to today's USA-Italy Soccer game got the feeling of watching something special. So no one won...a tie! the soccer-haters grumble. But even a non-fan, cheering if only for national pride, could see the level of intensity and tension in this game. That was a display of balls by the US players attacking a world class soccer power when they were down to 9 men, against Italy's 10. And the last 10 mintues fighting to preseve a tie was beyond gutsy. People around the world got it, , France Presse called the US's defense as "heroic", the Latin American sportscasters were pumped up and full of praise. Hundreds of millions of soccer fans know the quality and storied history of the Italian side, understand the difficulties of playing a man down, and appreciate attacking play - particularly by an underdog team. You can bet people were rooting for the U.S. - or at least against Italy - in some unexpected corners of the world. It is nice being the underdog sometimes.

And props to Ghana for showing that it could be done - by going directly at a top European side without fear, and trying to score goals instead of doing the safe thing.

The minnows really put a bite today.

Friday, June 16, 2006

EDITED: Boli vs. Jose on...Cuban Human Rights

I guess I am supposed to be debating Jose about human rights in Cuba.

So here goes:

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Miami: Book Banning Fever

The Miami School board has voted to remove a book titled "Vamos A Cuba" from the Miami Dade County schools sytem. By all accounts, it is a farce praising the wonders of Castro's Cuba and a complete whitewash of the regimes policies.

A board member said: "In the school system there is no place for a book that lies, confuses, and is confusing, specially for grade school children."


This is not required reading or a textbook for students, it is a book in a childrens library!
Removing books from tax-supported public school systems is patently offensive to anyone who cares about censorship and freedom of speech.

If an author gives wrong or misleading information about Cuba, find another source that offers the truth. If a kids read a book that shows Cubans with full plates of foods (which is what this book did), the parents can set him/her straight.

Children in grade school read Harry Potter, they can surely read a 40 page book critically. Heck, the book is so stupid, even my 4 year nephew would say its bullshit.

Is it offensive to Cuban-Americans? Well, let me ask if Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer are offensive to African Americans? Why, because that was exactly the argument made by parents who tried to remove Twain's books - and that was censorship and wrong too. Many "selective libertarians" were among the loudest complaining about censorship and political corectness in that case, lets see if they step up now.
Ultimately, if people really want to fight Castro, support the freedoms he so clearly denies Cubans.

And anyway, parents should stop wasting time and energy trying to censor childrens books. People in Miami (and South Florida for that matter) would do better getting their kids to read ANYTHING - or pick up a book themselves. A city this big where reading "The Da Vinci Code" is viewed as an intellectual feat, and which lacks a classical music radio station, sure could use some culture.

Venezuela: Colonel Hugo Threatens To Eliminate Private TV Stations

Still sulking after getting kicked in the teeth in his international ambitions, Mr. Chavez has now shifted his short attention and big mouth into the business of trying to cement his control over Venezuela proper.

In a speech he announced that he ordered the review of the broadcast licenses of private Television channels, which expire in 2007. This he justified by claiming it would be "irresponsible" to continue granting to concessions to the "small group that owns them." Chavez blasted the broadcasters for allegedly uttering messages that "divided Venezuelans." And that under the banner of "supposed freedom of expression" unnamed groups used private channles to emit messages "against ourselves" He further said he didn't "give a damn" about what "international oligarchs" would think; that he only cared about "his country" and "Venezuelan Unity."

This is a direct threat to freedom of the press in Venezuela, and evidence of Chavez intentions to fully impose dictatorial rule in that country. It is up to the people of Venezuela to hopefully defeat this character, whose arrogance rises with the price of the barrel of oil.

El presidente Hugo Chávez anunció ayer que ordenó la revisión de las concesiones de las televisoras privadas que se vencen en el 2007 y dejó entrever que podrían ser caducados los permisos.

''He ordenado la revisión de las concesiones de las plantas de televisión'', dijo Chávez durante un acto en el Ministerio de la Defensa, luego de realizar duras críticas a las televisoras locales a las que acusó de transmitir mensajes dirigidos a ``dividir a los venezolanos''.

''Habrá que revisar las concesiones de las televisoras que se van a vencer pronto en el 2007 ... Nosotros no podemos ser tan irresponsables de seguir dándole concesiones a un pequeño grupo de personas'', comentó el mandatario.

''Me importa un comino lo que digan los oligarcas del mundo. Me importa la suerte de mi patria y la unidad de Venezuela'', señaló el gobernante al asegurar que estaba dispuesto a no renovar las concesiones a las televisoras privadas.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Conversation with Castroite Bigshot.....

Now this is pretty dumb:

Washington, D.C. - The National Association of Hispanic Journalists will hold “A Conversation with Ricardo Alarcón,” the president of Cuba’s national assembly, via satellite from the Caribbean nation to open the association’s 24th Annual Convention and Media & Career Expo to be held June 14-17 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

From CNN’s Havana Bureau, Alarcón will be interviewed via satellite by Mirta Ojito, a New York Times contributor and professor of journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. A Cuban exile herself, Ojito will interview Alarcón before hundreds of journalists at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. The audience may also submit questions for Alarcón in writing that evening.
NAHJ has often used this conversation/interview format to kick off the annual convention, most notably in recent years with Mexican President Vicente Fox and the then newly-elected mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa.

WHAT PART OF LACK OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND UNDEMOCRATIC DO THEY NOT GET!!!!! Alarcon was preceded as speaker by the elected president of Mexico and mayor of Los Angeles.
From the press release and the format ("written submitted questions") it makes it sound like this some sort of kick-off speech, a celebrity guest - or featured speaker instead of a hard-hitting interview.
Bottom line, it all ends up being questions asked of a Communist apartchik, who has scripted answers I could compose in a millisecond.

The organization does have the absolutely repellent Lou Dobbs speaking -- but on a panel.

The annual convention will also take on the hot topic of immigration with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, CNN host Lou Dobbs and Jorge Castañeda, the former foreign minister of Mexico, exchanging views on the implications of immigration reform.

I'm not saying not having Alarcon on, if he is going to be on, have him, like Lou Dobbs, be part of a panel in a REAL OPEN DISCUSSION with people who know about the lack of press freedom in Cuba -- WHO WILL CALL HIM ON HIS BULLSHIT. If he doesn't like it, call someone else.
Maybe there already is a candidate at the very same convention:

Journalists from Cuba, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico who have been imprisoned, faced death threats and witnessed atrocities will share their experiences on a panel about the dangers of journalism in Latin America. Participants include Ramón Cantú Deandar, publisher of El Mañana newspaper in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, whose newsroom was bombed by a drug cartel a few months ago, and Manuel Vásquez Portal, an exiled Cuban journalist.

Economics for Dummies!!!!

Courtesy of Afroblog, this is totally hilarious.... My own contribution to Bolivian Economics at the bottom in bold.

You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies and the economy grows. You retire on the income.

KENYAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You eat both of them. You blame Indians for shortages. You ask the European Union to give another two cows to eat.

INDIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You worship them.

PAKISTAN ECONOMICS You don't have any cows. You claim that the Indian cows belong to you. You ask the US for financial aid, China for military aid, British for Warplanes, Italy for machines, Germany for technology, French for submarines, Switzerland for loans, Russia for drugs Japan for equipment. You buy the cows with all this and claim exploitation by the world.

AMERICAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You sell one and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You profess surprise when the cow drops dead. You put the blame on some nation with cows & naturally that nation will be a danger to mankind. You wage a war to save the world and grab the cows.

MEXICAN ECONOMICS You have two cows Both try to cross to the US One cow drowns The other cow produces for the US

ETHIOPIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows One starves to death. The government takes the other cow and slaughters it Half the meat is fed to the soldiers fighting Eritrea The other half is sold to buy bullets for use on democracy protesters

ERITREAN ECONOMICS - WE DON'T WANT YOUR COWS! We will wait until border demarcation to raise and slaughter our own.

FRENCH ECONOMICS You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

GERMAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You re-engineer them so that they live for 100 years, eat once a month and milk themselves.

BRITISH ECONOMICS You have two cows. They are both mad cows.

ITALIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You don't know where they are. You break for lunch.

SWISS ECONOMICS You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

JAPANESE ECONOMICS You have two cows. You redesign them so that they are 1/10TH the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create cute cartoon cow images called Cowkimon and market them worldwide.

RUSSIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 17 cows. You give up counting and open another bottle of vodka.

CHINESE ECONOMICS You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity and arrest anyone reporting the actual numbers.

SPANISH ECONOMICS You have two cows. You sell them to buy a specially bred Spanish bull. The bull gets killed in a "corrida de toros" in Seville. The "matador" becomes famous and the bull's head ends up in display in some traditional tapas bar in Andalusia for the amusement of tourists.

TAIWANESE ECONOMICS You have two cows. You send a spy to Japan to try copy their high-tech chip milking strategy. It doesn't work so kill the cows and sell all the meat to be eaten at some Taipei night market. You produce thousands of fake Cowkimon merchandise and sell it at the above-mentioned night market.

MALAYSIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows. You draft the 9th Malaysian Plan with a long-term strategy to turn Malaysia into the leading producer of milk in the region. The Plan gets stuck in bureaucracy going from one Ministry to the other. By the time the Plan reaches government approval, Singapore has managed to buy the cows off the Malaysians and has become the main producer and exporter of milk in the South East Asia region.

NIGERIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows You send an e-mail to all Yahoo! and Hotmail users explaining that you have 10 cows that you've inherited but cannot access. You request an advance fee of 3 cows in order to get the 10 cows and promise a return of 5 cows. It is discovered you never had any cows to start off with.

NEW ZEALAND ECONOMICS You have two cows. Your sheep are jealous.

FINNISH ECONOMICS You have two cows You sell one cow to buy the newest Nokia phone The government takes the other cow in payment for taxes for selling a cow for profit.

CANADIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows You milk one in French, one in English The French one now wishes to split, the English one whines about it

BOLIVIAN ECONOMICS You have two cows, milk sales end up abroad, government expropriates animals. Cows stop producing, military coup in response, get IMF loans to study milk problem. Continued milk crisis forces strikes and return to civilian rule. New government sells 1/2 interest in cows to foreign investors. Cows finally start producing, sale of milk to Chile announced. Nationwide uproar brings down government, popular referendum on cows, they are nationalized. Llamas and alpaca's accuse cows of being a non-native species and Chilean agents, Chavez loudly supports them, cows exiled to Venezuela.


Ugly loss against a top-level European team...
US played ok at times...the Czechs were not 100 percent...there defense was beatable. ........ but the US did not have balls to go for a score, McBride is way too old, Reyna can't do everything, Landon Donovan needed to step up and get agressive, but when Arena is sitting placidly at the bench like they are winning(as Jose Luis Chilavert pointed out on Univision) you don't feel it.
you need players with success at top clubs....or at least having players who start regularly at teams in the top 4 or 5 leagues, what they really need are true world-class forwards with speed and size, -- who can draw markers away....

This group frankly, is kind of disapointing - considering where many of them were in 2002. I thought that guys like Donovan would go to Europe and actually make it.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Nice recovery by the Tri in the second half.

The region once known as CONCACAF is undefeated....

Foto AFP

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Argentina: Rock In Espanol, Babasonicos

In honor of Argentina's initial victory today, one of the best bands out of the South American country, and at this point among the best playing in Spanish period. For some reason the band reminds me of Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians.






What a great game...Argentina vs. Ivory Coast. It was a really, really, entertaining game, and it easily could've gone the other way.

CONCACAF gets it done! Trinidad gets a point..what a gutsy display against Sweden

Cuba: Punishes Students For Internet Usage

Apparently enterprising students ran chat rooms and sold internet access to fellow students, so the Castroite computer police suspended them for five years. Story Here

Five Cuban university students were suspended for up to five years for violations that their information technology school deemed ''very grave'': running chat rooms and using school servers to sell Internet access to others.

Cuba's Internet police, the Office of Information Security, caught the students at the University of Information Sciences (UCI) using school property to charge $30 a month for stolen Internet passwords, according to a video of a campus meeting, smuggled out of the island.

Critics of Fidel Castro's government say the video illustrates the lengths to which young Cubans are willing to go to access information in a place where the government tightly controls all information. A university whose dean says in the video is aimed at ''training the guerrillas of the new era'' instead found its students using their skills to hack their way to the outside world.

Peru: Alvaro Vargas Llosa On Peruvian Election

Interesting essay here.

Many countries are experiencing a revival of pernicious ideologies that try to pit the indigenous population against what they decry as the false values of the Western civilization that has been a part of this hemisphere since the 16th century. Nowhere is this struggle more acute than in the Andes, with its strong indigenous roots, and to some extent in Mexico. Venezuela and Bolivia have already taken the anti-Western path, Ecuador could follow and Peru is torn between those who want to be a part of -- and to enrich -- a liberal democracy and market economy, and those who resent them. In Colombia, President Alvaro Uribe is a solitary bulwark against this Andean trend.

Behind the ethnic fracture is an ideological scam. Anyone who has traveled in the Andes understands that Indians and mestizos want to own property, to trade, to cooperate peacefully and, yes, to practice their many rich customs -- just like anyone else. They do not want a caudillo expropriating every aspect of their lives in the name of liberation. But indigenismo, the fraudulent ideology whose roots lie in decrepit European social utopias, has cleverly manipulated people who have a justified frustration with a liberal democracy that has not delivered the goods. So potential caudillos such as Humala have become powerful social symbols.

I would clarify this a bit. The biggest indigenous social movements in the Andes were not imposed from above; they started at the grassroots level reflecting long-held grievances that had been under the surface for decades (and centuries). The timing was crucial, after the democratic opening and the failure of traditional political parties and labor unions in the 80's.

Vargas Llosa is right, some foreign ideologues and NGO's did influence the direction and language of these movements. This imported ideology super-imposed itself upon pre-existing tendencies; many in Bolivia's movement came from a strong syndicalist tradition. It is a sometimes uneasy combination of old Left dogma, anti-globalization rhetoric, and post-modern ethnocentrism, nationalism, and Indigenous pride. Just how contradictory this heady brew is, was on display in Bolivia during Chavez recent speech to a largely indigenous crowd: they were not moved in the least by constant references to Bolivar - whom they do not view as a "liberator." But, to win votes, you do not have to sell a whole ideology, only say what you are "against" - neo-liberalism, corruption, exploitation of indigenous peoples, multi-nationals.

In the 1960s, American historian Carroll Quigley explained in ``The Evolution of Civilizations'' that decadence starts when social arrangements that serve social needs turn into institutions that serve their own needs.

That, precisely, is part of Latin America's plight. The disconnect between official institutions and social needs -- the legacy of too many caudillos and the absence of the rule of law -- has thrown many people into the hands of leaders who espouse nationalist ideologies. The challenge is to heal the rift, not to widen it as Humala was planning to do.

That is the challenge, it is a matter of bringing home the bacon.

World Cup: Ay Paraguay.... Go Trinidad!

Paraguay really played flat today, uninspired, the Brits out-played them. What happened to that Guarani fire??? England actually showed some..gasp... flair, and nice midfield work.

Props to Jose Luis Chilavert on Univision broadcast team. He is the Charles Barkley of soccer commentary. Very tactically aware as a goalkeeper, provides nice insights and lots of personality. He must have been dying watching Paraguay today, but he was very good.

Trinidad and Tobago are up. My Trini friends are psyched.

Al-Zarqawi Goes KABLAMO.....

Al-Zarqawi, could be singing lead for the Gap Band, "You dropped a bomb on me." Well, not one but two, courtesy of Hugo Chavez' favorite plane, the F-16.

Finally some good news out of Iraq, a real scumbag gets what he fully deserves.


1. As everyone has been saying, this is hardly the end of the violence or the insurgency. The insurgency is largely Nationalist, Sunni, and Baathist.

2. His removal takes away the most blatant instigator of sectarian violence in Iraq. For the past two years his bloody anti-Shiite campaign provoked the Shiite's to take bloody reprisals and set neighbor against neighbor in areas where they both had lived side by side for ages.

3. Al-Zarqawi was a self-created new-media star in the Jihadi world, in addition to being a battleground tactician. It seems he had somewhat of a personality cult going. By all accounts he was a charismatic leader, who was skilled at recruiting, organizing, planning and coordinating attacks. In that respect he is similar to Pablo Escobar in Colombia and Gonzalo in Sendero Luminoso.

4. His death, creates a leadership vacuum that will be difficult to fill, considering how tenuous his organizations roots are in the zone of operations. His fighters are foreign jihadists and Iraqi islamists, who have an extremely uneasy relationship with the broader-based, Sunni anti-US insurgency. Arguably, it was Al-Zarqawi's leadership that kept the Al-Qaeda movement intact as a fighting force. Now the foreigners will be much more vulnerable to both the Coalition forces AND the Sunni's who don't necesarily want them around.

5. This creates an opportunity to bring the nationalist, Baathist, Sunni side to the table to cut a deal.

6. Al-Zarqawi in terms of Al-Qaeda was no more than a franchisee. He basically was a freelancer who self-promoted himself to the point where Al Qaeda "adopted" him. But in terms of the larger struggle against Al Qaeda he was a bit player.

7. I was opposed to this whole deal from the beginning due to the piss-poor planning and arrogance of Rumsfeld, the unilateralist arrogance of the Bush White House who angered people who might have goodwill towards the US because of 9/11, an finally the fact that this had little or nothing to do with 9/11. But, getting rid of Saddam was good, and the goal of putting some sort of democratic government in Iraq is a worthwhile goal, that long term might be good for the Iraqi people and the US (and the West's) long term interests.

Friday, June 09, 2006


2-0 over Poland!. Nice game on their part. The 'B' teams of South America are stepping up.

Colombia, Haiti: Shakira & Wyclef Hit #1 in Billboard Hot 100

Colombia's Shakira has hit #1 on the Billboard single charts, with her single, Hips Don't Lie, a duet with Haitian-American rapper Wyclef Jean. That is quite a feat, considering how segmented the charts and radio are these days.

'HIPS' HOPS TO NO. 1: A 9-1 move for "Hips Don't Lie" (Epic) puts Shakira and featured guest Wyclef Jean at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, the first time in pole position for both artists and the first time that a song with the word "hips" in the title has led the chart.

Shakira's highest position on the Hot 100 until now was the No. 6 ranking of her first chart entry, "Wherever, Whenever," in December 2001. She was last in the top 10 with "Underneath Your Clothes" (No. 9 in May 2002).

The rest here

This is probably the first #1 for a Colombian singer, and for a Haitian-American, Apparently, even the Fugees, Killing Me Softly was not even a top-10 hit back in the day.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Peru: Garcia Wins..Chavez Now Will Do???

So the lesser of two evils Alan Garcia wins the presidency, over Hugo Chavez' candidate Humala.

My thoughts:

1. Hopefully, Garcia really learned his lesson. He had a major meltdown at the end of his last term, and was saying some really crazy things - something about wanting to join the protestors at Tianamen Square IIRC.

2. The trans-national nature of the campaign. In South American countries, electoral politics centered in the country holding them - and perhaps Washington. But in this new era of trans-national populism and mass media, Chavez effectively inserted himself in the middle of the campaign - and ultimately his favored candidate paid the price. You still had the spectacle of Chavez transmitting his weekly show to Venezuela from Bolivia, and giving soundbites that would certainly end up being played on Peruvian TV.

3. While accusing opponents at being at the service of foreign powers is a staple of electoral politics in Latin America, the fact that an elected Latin American leader's interference was a campaign issue is unique - particularly since Venezuela and Peru are not traditional enemies.

4. Chavez will now do what? Didn't this bigmouth say he will cut relations with Peru if Garcia won?? This goes beyond idle boasting. Chavez got on TV, and essentially called out Garcia in front of all South America. If he doesn't go through, he ends up losing credibility in front of Bolivians and Nicaraguans to whom he has promised direct aid implicit on certain candidates winning. People opposed to Ortega in Nicaragua, and to certain terms of the constitutional changes in Bolivia - can now say that Chavez is not trustworthy.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bolivia: Farmers Planning 'Self-Defense' Units

This is crazy...

Bolivian farmers plan 'self-defense' units
Associated Press

LA PAZ, Bolivia - Bolivia's largest agribusiness group said Wednesday it would form "self-defense" units to defend land it fears the country's new leftist government will confiscate to give to the poor.

The National Farming Confederation said in a statement that it rejected President Evo Morales' land reform policy and said he "was trying to destroy the country's productive apparatus."

The Morales administration rejected the idea.

"The government cannot accept their announcement because these groups are illegal and border on being criminal," said Alfredo Rada, a deputy minister in charge of coordinating between the government and the country's civil organizations.

The group did not detail what they meant by "self-defense" groups, but in other parts of Latin America, the term has been used to describe armed citizens groups.

In a separate statement Wednesday, Morales' government said it would move forward with its plan to redistribute more than 77,000 square miles of land over the next five years. It reiterated that it would only confiscate land that was not being farmed, was obtained illegally or was being used for speculation.

The figure in Wednesday's statement was larger than the 54,000 square miles officials had used earlier.

The National Farming Federation blamed the government for creating a climate of uncertainty that could unleash confrontations between Bolivians.

Its members refused to attend a meeting called by the government last week to discuss the issue, saying the Morales administration was allowing illegal land invasions in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, where much of the land targeted for redistribution is located.

Rest of article here.

My thoughts:

1. Land in the Eastern part of the country is a disaster waiting to happen, and these tensions were going to break out one way or another. You have Bolivian and Brazilian agri-business interests, you also have local indigenouos people with their claims, and then you have colonists from the highlands who stake out claims all throughout the territory. That is even without including an ecological disaster waiting to happen.

2. Land Reform efforts have proceeded in growth and spurts in the past 50 years, but tthe Eastern area was left untouched, due to the need to have some sort of agricultural production - Bolivia was a net importer of food despite rich land. The MNR government -despite what some Cruce~os say- actually devoted significant resources to make that happen.

3. I do not buy the idea that the eastern elite (including Santa Cruz landowners) are some sort of self-sufficient, self-made, bastion of enlighment. Fact is many of the large landholdings in the east were free grants the Banzer administration gave out to supporters. Large land purchases were also a convenient way for some to launder dollars in the Miami Vice era. But, the reality is that for the past 15 years, collectively they have invested well in new technologies and farming technologies, and have produced a very efficient and relatively dynamic export sector.

4. Less reported is the fact that the Banzer administration also supported "colonization" efforts by Western highland residents into the area. As a map of Bolivia shows, there is land in the east. The formal and informal colonization became a flood, because of dislocations in the mining sector and the poor land in the highlands. Many have established farms and formed their own towns.

5. The problem with agribusiness is what constitutes "idle" land. Landed elites in many Latin American countries - particularly in an export-oriented agricultural economies- held vast tracts of land idle for speculative purposes, to keep it out of the hands of rivals. They would hide it by keeping cattle on the grounds. But on the other hand, there are solid economic reasons for keeping productive land idle, particularly when dealing with fluctuating market demand and funds available.

6. The land reform projects the past 15 years have focused on formalizing land staked out by colonists, land held by the indigenouos and the agribusiness holdings. But the problem is that the land seizures pushed into agribusiness holdings, and some of the colonists - and indigenous movements - were organized by the without land movement. So these seizures began taking a more overtly political tone, and many of them received the support of NGO's who pressed their case before the government. And MAS, while not directly involved at first has capitalized on this movement.

7. As the article states, the government and legal system have been slow in getting the claims of record resolved. That produces frustration in everyone involved.

8. So there is basically a siege mentality among some landowners, who at this point they have little trust in Evo. The small stakeholders also are frustrated, because to some extent they have followed the rules. The landowners fear that the without-land movement could become stronger with the arm of the government behind them.

9. The problem is that you have a classic pattern of a landed elite forming para-military groups. This has happened in El Salvador and Colombia. The Bolivian State does not control chunks of its own territory. Evo Morales demonstrated that well in El Chapare for years. And if the government were to encourage and/or arm militias in that part of the country, you could have the basis for a Civil War.

Bolivia: Venezuelan Military Entering Country??

The Washington Times reports so so. While the Moonie-owned paper has its agenda, there are solid tidbits of information here. The picture above (courtesy of Jonathan)shows a Venezuelan soldier -id. via Venezuelan flag in his kit - in Evo Morales' entourage during one of the symbolic takeovers of an oil company in May Day :

Opposition leaders are calling for the government of President Evo Morales to investigate charges that Venezuela is sending arms and military personnel to organize a special militia for the ruling Movement to Socialism (MAS).
Lawmakers of the conservative Podemos party cite immigration records that show nearly 100 Venezuelan military officers have entered Bolivia since Mr. Morales took power in January.
"How many military personnel of foreign armed forces have entered Bolivia during 2006, what are their movements and under what agreements are they here?" asks a letter presented by Podemos deputy Fernando Messmer to Defense Minister Walker San Miguel.
Immigration lists, which name the Venezuelans and have been published in Bolivian newspapers, show that 85 of the military officers arrived between Jan. 11 and Jan. 23, shortly after Mr. Morales was sworn into office. The new president said at the time that intelligence experts from Venezuela and Cuba had come to conduct sweeps and remove electronic bugs from the presidential palace and other government offices.
Interior Ministry officials have also told reporters that Venezuelan security specialists are training Bolivian military engineers to protect oil and gas facilities, which were nationalized with the public backing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier this month.

My thoughts

1. The immigration information is a matter of public record, and fact. That means that at least 85 Venezuelan military personnel are in Bolivia. Were those US military advisors there would be a storm in Bolivia and within the usual suspects outside. That is more than the number of US military advisors allowed in-country during the Salvadoran Civil War - advising an army much larger than Bolivia's engaged in a civil war against a powerful and large opponent.

2. This is just of record, how many may have entered undetected, or through slippery border regions? A couple of months ago,again, Paraguayan immigration records showed an unusually large number of Cubans and Venezuelans in the country. This was acknowledged by the Cuban embassy itself. The Paraguayan-Bolivian border is "fluid" to say the least.

3. Why were Bolivians being advised on how to guard oil installations, months before the nationalization decree and the temporary military takeover of those facilities??? What the heck were Venezuelan advisors -wearing their colors- doing at the supposed "nationalization" of a Brazilian-owned company????

4. So the government acknowledged the presence of Cuban "security specialists." Maybe Rumsfeld and US military sources were not off taret when they complained about an increase in Cuban intelligence operations in Bolivia. I received a very credible first-hand report about an encounter with a Cuban national "working" in Bolivia well before the election. Cuban's do not travel outside of Cuba without Fidel's permission - unless they defect - and this was clearly not a defector.

5. I do not think they are creating a nation-wide militia, yet. Would not surprise me if they are, given how Cuba and Venezuela have acted in the past. If they are doing it, Chapare, as the article suggest would be a start. There already is sort of a shadow cocalero army there.