Archive for May 14th, 2006

Fistful of Euros writes about it:

Rondot made inquiries, consulting Lahoud, and concluded that the allegations were baseless. That was when things began to get weird, though, as the lists and a CD-ROM were sent anonymously to Renaud van Rumbeyke, the judge investigating the long-running urtext of French political corruption, the Taiwanese frigates affair. But the lists were not quite the same lists as those shown to General Rondot. Instead they included accounts in the thinly disguised name of Sarko, but also the Socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the hard-right Alain Madelin, and the centre-left semi-gaullist Jean-Pierre Chevénément, as well as top Thales and EADS executives.

[…]It must have seemed a perfect opportunity to whack Sarko, destabilise the Left with a scandal that would worsen their coalition fighting, punish Madelin for straying from the Gaullist core of the Right and Chevénément for voting against the European Constitution (or something), eliminate obstacles to Forgeard’s elevation, and perhaps even get Van Rumbeyke off their case…literally.

UPDATE: From Adam Smith Institute Blog:

President Chirac declared that 2006 would be “a useful year for France.” He may be right, in that it seems to have discredited the government there. With France still licking its wounds from last year’s street conflagrations by the economically excluded, this year has seen the riots which saw off France’s very modest efforts at labour market reform. (Clue: it’s because the rioters always win that they always do it).

Awful… And even harder times are yet to come…

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Oh oh:

Until now the Internet has been a uniquely bottom-up, nonhierarchical, seamless form of global communication. But all that is changing, as governments, multinational companies and individuals battle for control over the digital landscape. Nations are arguing over how the Web should be governed and regulated, dragging old foreign-policy grudges into cyberspace. Countries like China, Iran, North Korea and Vietnam (why I am not surprised?) are coming up with new ways to censor citizens’ online communications, often with the help of Western multinationals. At least one, Iran, has threatened to set up its own alternative-reality Internet-as protest groups already have-the kind of thing that could wreak havoc with global Web traffic, and create confusion among users who no longer knew if the sites they peruse were legitimate.

Even as they deregulate other industries, European bureaucrats are using taxpayer money to create national Internet champions. Telecoms in the United States and Europe are battling high-tech behemoths such as Google and Microsoft over who should reap the financial benefits of the digital superhighway. Poor countries are begging rich ones for better online infrastructure, while activists urge governments and companies alike to keep Web access free and unrestricted. The bottom line? Instead of a borderless, well-functioning, economically efficient communications network, the Internet is poised to become a quagmire of special interests, competing political agendas and international bureaucracy. “Sadly, it looks like the period in which the Internet functions seamlessly is over,” says Vint Cerf, one of the Internet’s better-known creators, now “chief Internet evangelist” for Google.

This are indeed bad news. if the regulate Internet, free speech is going to be diminished really…


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After Somalia, looks like another country is risking the beginning, well, er, continuing of another bloody war: Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Rebels sink Sri Lankan navy boat

Violence in Sri Lanka today escalated sharply as a navy patrol boat was sunk by Tamil Tiger rebels and the military carried out retaliatory attacks on rebel ships and bases. At least 15 Sri Lankan navy sailors were missing after the patrol boat’s sinking, which happened as the boat’s crew tried to defend a troop carrier with more than 700 soldiers on board off the country’s northern coast. A naval spokesman said the patrol boat had been in a convoy escorting the carrier when it was attacked by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Background of this issue in TIME.com:

In spite of how relatively obscure their rebel cause is on the world stage, the attacks by Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (L.T.T.E) always seem to draw lots of attention. Such was the case Thursday when a squadron of speedboat suicide bombers rammed into a Sri Lankan navy troop carrier convoy off the country’s northern coast, killing 17 sailors. The Sri Lankan government claimed to kill more than 50 Tamil Tigers in return, but the deadly operation had already reminded the world that the Tigers are the fathers of modern-day suicide bombing – not only masters at keeping up a fresh supply of new recruits, but also willing exporters of their expertise.

Civil War Looms After Sri Lanka Sea Battle – Examiner.com

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – At least 50 rebels were killed and 17 Sri Lankan sailors missing after a sea battle Thursday instigated by the Tamil Tigers left the country on the brink of civil war. Tamil Tigers sank a navy patrol boat off the northern coast as it escorted a troop transport carrying 710 soldiers. In retaliation, the navy downed five rebel vessels and the air force launched airstrikes on guerrilla-held territory. The escalation in violence could mark a return to civil war, as a 2002 cease-fire that stopped almost two decades of fighting appears increasingly unlikely to last. “This is a very serious attack (by the Tigers), a blatant violation of the cease-fire agreement,” government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told The Associated Press.

The truce monitor says they are at war.More in Yahoo News.

Eeh, and the Tamil Rebels Threaten a Return to War – Examiner.com

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Tamil rebels on Saturday threatened to resume war if they are denied access to the sea and claimed naval forces killed eight Tamil civilians in an attack in northern Sri Lanka.

You can see a chronology of the attacks of the Tamil TERRORISTS here (CAUTION: harmful photos). BBC also has a report on them.

From Times On Line:

Violence has cost Sri Lanka dear. About 64,000 people have been killed and a million displaced. Investors have been scared away, development has been stunted, tourism hurt; terrorism has got a grip in the island and among Tamil communities overseas. With evidence of widespread intimidation of Tamils abroad, many countries, including Britain, have proscribed the Tigers. After India’s ill-fated attempt at peacekeeping and the assassination in 1991 of Rajiv Gandhi, there is concern at the possible spread of the conflict into India – though, so far, little evidence of this or of support from Indian Tamils for the rebels. A return to war would be a disastrous setback. Both the Government and rebels must be made to see the cost of such folly.

With that results is astonishing they want to begin another civil war. Or continue the last one.

And to the calls by the European Union about the attack, the Tamil rebels have answered: From News from Russia:

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on Wednesday denounced as unfair and one-sided the European Union’s decision to bar the Sri Lankan separatists from entering EU member countries.

“The Tamil people and the Liberation Tigers are shocked at this decision by the EU,” the guerillas’ political wing chief S.P. Thamilselvan told reporters in the northern rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi.

The EU said in a statement Monday that Tamil Tiger representatives will be refused entry to member states until further notice while the body decides whether to add the group to its list of terrorist organizations, according to the AP.

The statement said the Tigers’ “continuing use of violence and terrorism” threatened the country’s fragile peace process.

Well, er, this in fact is undermining the European Union policy about the word terrorism. Hmm, well, that is ONLY for Islamic terrorists in fact…


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New York Times:

The biggest problem, however, is structural: Italy’s thousands of family-owned companies, the secret to its export success in the 70’s and 80’s, appear ill-suited to the demands of globalization. They make products that can be easily replicated in Asia, using cheaper labor.

“Look at these valves,” Mr. Bonomi said, plunking down a matched set. “This one is mine; this one was made in China. It doesn’t work as well as mine, but it’s close enough.”

The Chinese one costs half as much.

Economists offer plenty of remedies for this situation: Italy needs to move into more sophisticated high technology manufacturing. It must bolster its service economy, starting with the tattered tourist trade, which has also lost ground to China. It must shake up its rigid labor market, the main culprit for its high costs.

Well, I did not comment really this piece of news, because I was too busy. There is one thing in this article that stroke me, when reading it, and it’s this part:

Italian voters ousted Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi last month to a large degree because he did not fix the economy. But then they elected a new center-left government with a parliamentary majority so slim that it may be hobbled before it even takes power.

“I’m not very positive,” said Alessandro Profumo, the chief executive of Italy’s leading bank, UniCredit. “We have a lot of issues to manage, and the government needs a larger majority to manage these issues.”

It is clear why economic fears dominated Italy’s recent election, and the epithet “sick man of Europe,” conjuring images of the tottering Ottoman Empire, has become shorthand here.

Even knowing the bias of NYT (very liberal newspaper) it stroke me really. I mean, perhaps Berlusconi has not done what he should have done to fix the economy. But they are clearly saying that if the new leftist Government cannot fix the economy, it’s just because they do not have the sufficient majority. They are just “curing the Government before the wound it’s done” and that is really stupid. If the center-left Government does make a sound economic policy they can have the support of most of the people. If they do not, then they would be to blame and not the majority.

There is another thing though: Looks like the Italian production has risen (in Italian) this year 6.8% in comparison with last year’s. As Orpheus says in her blog, then the right wing Berlusconi was in power -and every leftist was just worried about the economical statistics-, but now that the center-left has reached it, everything seems OK… well, marvellous, in fact.

But if the information that NYT is giving is right, Prodi&Co. would do very well just worrying about the future and working for it. Ehhh, no, the culprit is the Italian people who has not given them an ample majority….emoticon

Tags: Italy, Berlusconi, Prodi, family firms, China

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You can see what has happened to this filmmaker and blogger here. He has even been denied a lawyer, after he has been detained with no charges.

You can read Global Voices on Line, specially this article.

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From BBC:

Mr Chavez, a radical leftist, will meet the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone as well as some Labour MPs and union leaders during his two-day trip.

But he will not meet Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom he has called a pawn of the “imperialist” US.

Mr Chavez controls a country with the world’s fifth largest oil supply. On Friday Mr Blair urged Venezuela to use its energy resources responsibly.

The BBC’s World Affairs correspondent Chris Morris says Mr Chavez is following in the footsteps of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Mr Chavez combines populist economics, authoritarian politics and a fundamental dislike of the United States – particularly the way he says it tries to dominate its neighbours, our correspondent says.

From World Net Daily: about the dictatorial Bolivarian project. Looks like Chávez’s ex-mistress thinks of Chavez as a dictator and worse in fact than what Blair has said ever.

Herma Marksman, who spent nearly 10 years of her life as “the other woman” at the side of Hugo Chavez, as the military man plotted his way to power in the ’80s and 90’s, still recalls her ex-lover as “sweet” and “kind,” but when it comes to his current rule over Venezuela, the ex-mistress uses words like “totalitarian” and “fascist dictatorship.”

The professor of history, who’s written two books about Chavez’s politics, told the London Times: “He is imposing a fascist dictatorship. A totalitarian regime is coming because he doesn’t believe in democratic institutions. Hugo controls all the powers.”

Marksman, whose home was used by Chavez to plan his coup against the Venezuelan government, says the two once shared a dream of “a prosperous Venezuela where justice would reign”.

“We were preparing for the time when we would be in government,” Marksman has written. “We wanted to establish a state in which the law was respected, to abolish corruption, to develop our basic industries and to do a real restructuring of the education system. None of that has happened.

“If anything, there has been a turning for the worse. Today there is more injustice, and no sign of that group of democrats who voiced, and accepted, different opinions. We live under an autocrat who does not respect the separation of powers. There is a chief justice who does not act, a financial comptroller who does not control, an ombudsman who only defends government interests. So where is the Bolivarian project?”

UPDATE: Chavez, to give Europeans cheap oil? My goodness if this is true, how low we have fallen…

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From BBC News:

Zhan Silu is being elevated to become bishop of Mindong Diocese in eastern Fujian province on Sunday without the approval of the Holy See.

In the past fortnight Beijing has appointed two other unapproved bishops, sparking strong Papal criticism.

China has both a state-run Catholic association and an underground church loyal to the Vatican.

The recent appointments have cast a shadow on moves to re-establish diplomatic relations that were severed more than 50 years ago.

You can also read Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Washington Post :

Zhan Silu, also called Vincent Zhan, will become bishop of Mindong Diocese in eastern Fujian province, and he — like two other bishops appointed in China in past weeks — apparently lacks the Holy See’s approval, which bishops even in China’s state-controlled church have regularly sought in recent years.

“I did write to the Vatican to ask for recognition, but I’ve never heard anything back,” Zhan said on Friday. “For me, Vatican approval is important, but I also have to consider local needs.”

Maryland Conservatarian has a comment on this issue:

Catholicism isn’t some franchise license that China can claim ownership of. Ask Henry VIII. The Chinese government can call Zhan a bishop – hell they can call him the Chinese Pope if they’d like. But even saying it a hundred times wouldn’t make it so. This man is NOT a Catholic Bishop unless and until the Pope says he is. In the future, Reuters would do well to assign a reporter that has at least a working knowledge of the Roman Catholic Church…or in the alternative, perhaps has a Catholic friend he can inquire of.

In Spanish Civitas Dei.

Also in Catholic News Agency, who writes about the ordination of another bishop:

The ordination of a new auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Shenyang came three days after Pope Benedict XVI sharply rebuked China for consecrating two bishops in the past eight days without Vatican approval.

China responded over the weekend by describing the Pope’s criticism as “unfounded” and defending the ordinations as within the bounds of the government, reported the Times.

While Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement that the Chinese government “is always sincere and has made unremitting efforts in improving its ties with the Vatican,” others in the Church believe the actions are a huge step backward in reconciliation between China and the Vatican. Diplomatic ties were broken 55 years ago.

While Pope Benedict has made normalization of relations a priority, the issue of appointing bishops has become a major stumbling block.

Anyway, what are we going to say of a country in which the women are made to abort and sell their foetus for 2$ to make cosmetics (link in Italian), or who torture this way the dissidents in the concentration camps (link here) who have hearts, kidneys, and corneas removed when they are still alive. And then they have been granted a seat in the Human Rights Commission… (with Cuba and Saudi Arabia)

HT: Free Thoughts.

UPDATE: Rhymes with Right comments on this issue. Go and read the comments.

UPDATE 2: Libero Pensiero (in Italian) also has commented on this issue.

When we finally understand that terrorism and totalitarism are two enemies without any kind of excuse, it will be a great step in the path to reach a minimum respect for life. Find excuses to these ideologies serves to nothing but to their culture of death.


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