Sunday, March 14, 2010

Defining The Moderate Center - David Brooks on Obama

I think David Brooks gets it totally right, on the Presidents agenda and instincts in his column,


The fact is, Obama is as he always has been, a center-left pragmatic reformer. Every time he tries to articulate a grand philosophy — from his book “The Audacity of Hope” to his joint-session health care speech last September — he always describes a moderately activist government restrained by a sense of trade-offs. He always uses the same on-the-one-hand-on-the-other sentence structure. Government should address problems without interfering with the dynamism of the market.

That is a great way not only to define the President, but as a vision of governance that is both forward looking and sensible.

As Brooks notes that is hard.

He has tried to find this balance in a town without an organized center — in a town in which liberals chair the main committees and small-government conservatives lead the opposition. He has tried to do it in a context maximally inhospitable to his aims.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Spanish Judge Alleges Venezuela Helped ETA and FARC Activities

A Spanish judge in a complaint you can read here, has called for the extradition of several ETA and FARC members in several countries, including Venezuela and Cuba. In the complaint it alleges that the ETA has links with the FARC, and that in some cases their activities have taken place in Venezuelan territory with the active "collaboration" of the Venezuelan government.

In particular, the complaint zeroes in on an ETA operative Arturo Cubillas Fontán, who lives in Venezuela since 89, is a Venezuelan citizen, and is married to a Venezuelan woman. His wife has held numerous jobs in the Venezuelan state - at a fairly high level, and Cubillas himself has been on officialist payroll. The complaint alleges that since 99 he has been a ETA representative in Venezuela, acting as a go-between with the FARC and it looks like the Venezuelan intelligence agency.

ETA-FARC cooperation

ETA operatives in Spain helped the FARC track Colombian diplomats - and even Presidents Pastrana and Uribe - while in Spain, and hinted at trying to murder them.

ETA bombmakers have arrived in Venezuela to instruct FARC operatives on bombmaking techniques - mainly on remote-control detonation devices used in cities. ETA members in turn have received instruction from the FARC on some of the homemade gas cylinder bombs the FARC uses. The complaint shows that this type of bomb was in fact used by the ETA after the courses were offered.

During some of these courses, FARC militants were moved and escorted to secure sites in Venezuela by uniformed members of Venezuela's military intelligence services.