01 August 2015

Blogging will be light for a while.

During the two coming months. A few interruptions of silence possible, but otherwise it will be quiet.

Meanwhile - behave, people.

31 July 2015

A Double-Barreled Misunderstanding in Amherst, Massachusetts

Sinister goings on in one of the centers of learning: double umbrellas, suspicious vests and whatnot.

From Wig and Pen, with thanks.

30 July 2015

John Kerry: the man who signs your treaties, US of A!

This exchange, if true*, is phenomenal and will put even a language manipulator like Juan Cole off his feed for a while:
“Is it the policy of the ayatollah, if you can answer for him, that Iran wants to destroy the United States?” Texas Republican Lloyd “Ted” Poe asked Kerry during the latter’s Tuesday appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Is that still their policy, as far as you know?”

Kerry responded: “I don’t believe they’ve said that. I think they’ve said ‘Death to America,’ in their chants, but I have not seen this specific.”
It is not that we have some genius politician to compare with that, but... anyhow, condolences to US of A and its fair citizens with that sorry case.

(*) Since the same quote appears in several sources, I rather like it as true. But of course, this will not be the first time a fake quote makes its rounds all over the net.

29 July 2015

Cowpat throwing competition in Russia - I shit you not

Believe it or not, as you prefer, but here it is:
An extraordinary competition was held in the framework of the regional festival "Merry Bovine" in the Russian village of Krylovo, Perm region. Besides racing cultivators and garden wheelbarrows, guests of the festival were invited to participate in the cow patties throwing competition. The event was supported by the regional Ministry of Culture. The Minister Igor Gladnev personally led a delegation to the event.

The organizers of the festival "Merry Bovine" set themselves the following objectives: to promote the revival of the Russian village, its traditions, respect for its roots, to promote the rich cultural heritage of the Perm region.

One of the most spectacular events of the festival was the competition in throwing of dry cow dung. The creators of the contest said that collecting the "props" for it has occupied a special place in the preparation of the festival.

"One of the most spectacular and the audience favorite competitions - the championship on a throwing cowpats on the range. We started to hoard the patties about three months ago. We've harvested three full TV set boxes, one for male and female team each and one spare," the organizers said.

Here is a recording of the event:

According to the lady, this is the fifth year the competition is held.

Hat tip: E.S.

Irony has been here but it left early

And anyway, the author of this filth wouldn't know irony if it bit him on his arse. Click "Read more..." only if you are of appropriate (in your country of residence) age. You have been warned:

28 July 2015

Cuba Si, Yanqui No! Or is it vice versa?

Cuba Si, Yanqui No! This fiery call was heard all over the world for too many years to count, when the strife between the two countries was in earnest. Of course, these days the two sides are setting aside their long years of enmity and looking forward to a peaceful and friendly coexistence.

Still, some people can't wait. As reported by Pravda (!):

Cuban players fled to the United States in the middle of the competition that has resulted in the defeat of the Cuban team in field hockey in the Pan American Games.

Seven members of the Cuban national team took advantage of sporting events held in the Canadian city of Toronto, and fled to the United States without waiting for the end of the match. Only eight players came on the playing field as a result, which led to a crushing defeat for the team with the score 13:0 by the team of Trinidad and Tobago.

Previously four rowers, one of whom was a silver medalist, took advantage of the competition to escape. In general 20 Cubans fled to the United States during the competitions.
What can I say: just like the good old days.

27 July 2015

So who is a schmuck: Putin, Obama or French senator Pozzo di Borgo?

The story starts with a rather naughty finger in the eye of the international community (or, at least, that part of the community that condemned the Russian annexation of Crimea and doesn't recognize it). A gang of French parliamentarians visited Crimea, and the Russian RT, the rather slavish mouthpiece of the Russian rulers, is happy to report that:

There are no grounds to keep Russia sanctions in place, said member of the French National Assembly Thierry Mariani, who heads the parliamentary delegation currently on a two-day visit to Crimea.
And, of course, RT being RT, they also remind us that:
Crimea rejoined Russia last March following a referendum where more than 96 percent of people voted in favor of reunification.
Wink wink, nudge nudge...

The European politicians responded to the visit as expected: The European Parliament condemned the visit of French representatives in the European Parliament (EP) to the annexed Crimea. Of course that condemnation is nothing to the determined French solons.

But the story that may sound straight and simple as told above, has a curios side departure:
One of the French parliamentarians visiting Crimea has spoken his mind through fashion. Senator Yves Pozzo di Borgo from the center-right UDI party has acquired a T-shirt with Putin and Obama portraits, the caption saying: “Obama, you're a schmuck.”

Of course, being a politician, Senator Yves Pozzo di Borgo* will find a fitting explanation to this escapade. We all on the bleachers could just enjoy the game, some of us knowing that the good Senator is unaware of a few Russia - (and otherwise -)  related facts, like these two:
  • The widely accepted moniker that public uses for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is "хуйло" these days. The most benign translation of "хуйло" happens to be "schmuck".
  • While Google translates "Pozzo" as "well", and not knowing Italian I can't argue with that, the pronunciation of "Pozzo" in Italian, as offered by Google, is as close to another synonym of word "schmuck" in Yiddish as makes no nevermind.
So there, dear Senator. Take it easy.

(*) Some skinny on Senator Yves Pozzo di Borgo:
He calls himself a descendant of a famous ambassador, general, and adviser to Russian Tsar Aleksandr II.

The newspaper “Liberation”, which published a dossier on “Putin’s network in France” in September 2014, attributed the senator to the “naive Battalion” (it also contains actor Gerard Depardieu).

In June, after the spy scandal, during which it became clear that the Americans spied on French presidents and set up a spying studio in the building of the American Embassy in Paris. the senator said that if France respected itself, it would have destroyed the US embassy.

The senator has repeatedly urged the US to “stop interfering” in the internal affairs of Ukraine.

26 July 2015

Turkey: the anti-ISIS operation continues. In a way.

And now this: Turkey Drops Bombs on Kurdish Group That Has Fought the Islamic State in Iraq.

Turkish forces bombed camps belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, officials confirmed on Saturday. The airstrikes — which were coupled with strikes against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria — complicate US-led coalition efforts to fight IS, as the PKK has been particularly effective at driving back militant forces on the ground in Iraq.

The PKK, which the Turkish government recognizes as a terrorist organization, has been fighting Ankara for independence since 1984. The two sides reached a peace agreement in 2013, but that deal that was likely dissolved by Friday's bombings.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the PKK violated their agreement to disarm and withdraw their fighters from Turkish territory.
No comment, but none required, innit?

25 July 2015

Will Amnesty International say "oops!" about this?

I guess not.

24 July 2015

Recep Tayyip Erdogan: now in action finally. But what action exactly?

The half-mad half-Caliph finally started to do something about ISIS, after all these years of mouthing vague but passionate threats. The action against ISIS amounts to the following:
Three F-16 fighter jets took off from a base in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, early on Friday and hit two Islamic State bases and one "assembly point" before returning, the prime minister's office said.
Hard to call it even a regular air force exercise. The other part of the same operation, however, looks a bit more serious:
Police also rounded up nearly 300 people in Friday's raids against suspected Islamic State and Kurdish militants, Prime Minister Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said after vowing to fight all "terrorist groups" equally.

Local media reported that helicopters and more than 5,000 officers, including special forces, were deployed in the operation. Anti-terror police raided more than 100 locations across Istanbul alone, broadcasters CNN Turk and NTV reported.
Emphasis mine, and I am sure you see why: the fearless leader is jumping on an opportunity to round up as many as possible members of the Kurdish opposition he hates so passionately (definitely more than he hates the ISIS abomination).

The "fight against all terrorist groups" covered the whole country, and if you read the detailed reports from the Turkish press you can easily detect who is really being rounded up.

To remind you, Turkey is a member of NATO and Recep Tayyip Erdogan is buddy-buddy with some high placed figures in Washington I am too tired now to mention. And he knows how to make them look the other way, no matter how depraved his treatment of Kurds is.

Too bad.

P.S. Want to bet that the flow of resupplies and reinforcements to ISIS through Turkish territory (including the European wannabe jihadis) will be curtailed? Then don't.

Soon... very soon...

I always believed this day will come.

How are you today?
I am Mrs. Michelle Obama and I am written to inform you about your Bank Cheque Draft brought by the United Embassy from the government of Benin Republic in the white house Washington DC been mandated to be deliver to your address on Thursday being 23 of July 2015 to you as soon as you get back to me with your
home address
cell phone number
The only thing that slightly bothers me is the mention of Benin. I already own Benin. But no doubt it is just a slight mistake on the side of the letter's author. All White House dwellers were rather weak on geography.

Now I think it will be, probably, Greece. But I haven't made my mind yet, so any ideas welcome.

23 July 2015

Kim Jong Un: another step to stardom

The building of the Juche-based power under the relentless and ever-wise field guidance of the Marshal Kim Jong Un made another historic step forward in its triumphant march against the dark powers of imperialism and its inhuman and bellicose policy.

As can be seen in the picture, the DPRK industry produced the first fighter jet able to carry to hitherto unseen heights the eternally corpulent body of the dear Marshal Kim Jong Un. This will allow Marshal Kim Jong Un to direct his field guidance at any Juche-inspired household, factory or military unit instantaneously and thus lead DPRK to further summits of glory.

In the picture: two members of song and dance people's ensemble "Juche Forever" present the dear Marshal Kim Jong Un flower arrangements to celebrate the achievement. Two members of Marshal Kim Jong Un General Staff take a measure of the Fearless Leader's posterior for the field guidance inspired design of the jet fighter seat.

21 July 2015

Brian Meadows and his inconvenient questions

A post by Brian Meadows, a member of the Facebook "Progressive Zionism" forum drew my attention, mostly due to forcefulness of the argument - in defense of the nuclear agreement with Iran. So much so that I decided to do some parsing of the post and to squeeze in some remarks here. So, if the link at the beginning doesn't work for you, you shall see the full text of Mr Meadows post below.

OK, folks. I'm lukewarm about the deal with Iran myself, but I've a few questions to ask the irreconcilables and a few inconvenient facts for them as well.
Facts should be always welcome, to irreconcilables and otherwise, I submit.
First, the questions: could any one of you have gotten as good a deal?
I would submit that, as far as my sensitive (to beta and gamma rays and other unpleasant elements of a nuke going off in the vicinity) skin is concerned, there are no shades of "good". Either Ayatollahs get the nukes or they don't. All the shades in between are irrelevant. And, as most experts on the subject agree, Iran does get the nukes at the end of the day. So what we have is a bad agreement - one that President Obama promised to walk away from.
If not, shall I assume that you're ready to put on a Foreign Legion uniform or something and march to war against Iran?
I am not sure whom Mr Meadows is addressing in this post - because here in Israel we don't need Foreign Legion's uniforms, we have our own and been fighting Iran via its proxies - like Hezbollah and Hamas - for quite a long time already. As for the war with Iran - unfortunately, in the circumstances, it will be coming - 10 or so years down the road, maybe even sooner. I am being too old for that one, but my children are not, and I am not looking forward to that war, no sir.
If you couldn't have gotten as good a deal and you're not ready to fight, I have a label for you: BLOODTHIRSTY TRENCH-DODGER! Something which any competent soldier despises, so STFU!
I would have agreed to that sentiment, but the proposal to STFU* kinda doesn't sit right with me - let's leave it for later.
Second: many of you say, I know, that it was tough sanctions that brought Iran to the table in the first place and you're probably at least partially right. However, another part of this was the Bush administration's refusal to talk to 'evil' at all at a time when, had we done so, we could've put the kibosh on any nuclear plans Iran might have had. In 2003, Iran had only 300 centrifuges. I also suggest that Darth Cheney had an ulterior motive: he wanted to direct, from behind (he being the chief of bloodthirsty trench-dodgers) an American march into Tehran and make Iran an example of what happens to our satraps who dare to think they deserve real independence! And had the GOP won the 2006 midterms, I believe that would've been set into motion!
Ehehe... what can I say about that, not being a side in the GOP-Dems incessant bickering? Only that if I had a dollar (nah, make it a shekel) for every time a supporter (or a member) of the current administration blames Bush/Cheney for every SNAFU that happened during the last 6+ years, I would be quite a wealthy character by now. As for that statement that Bush administration should have settled the Iranian nuclear ambitions back then - what is it based upon exactly? As far as I remember, Iranian attitude to everything American back then was even worse than it is today, so what chance did Bush have? Nah... empty words.
Third, Iranian feeling against us dates back to 1953, when our beloved CIA engineered the overthrow of their democratically elected (and SECULAR!) prime minister Mossadegh, which then allowed the Shah to return as absolute monarch.
Related to this, some of you seem to think we could have brought Iran much closer to effective surrender. Let me now share with you that NO Iranian has forgotten Mossadegh nor our overthrow of him. In light of that, no Iranian government was or is likely to do that. Remember what happened when the Royal Navy claimed a right to stop our ships? Strike up the 1812 Overture.
So if you think we could get a better deal, you need to account for Iran's national pride, something which is rather (and understandably) prickly towards us right now. Obama knows this and acted accordingly.
None of the above information, enlightening as it may be for those who don't know that bit of history, justifies the holes in the agreement that make it rather a temporary patch instead of a definite solution. These facts may explain Obama's behavior and his decision making process (although they don't, not fully) - but they do not make the "best possible" agreement into a workable agreement. And believe you me, Mr Meadows, I am more sorry about it than you.
I have time, so you all can take yours as you post. If there's anything you think I've missed, feel free to call attention to it.
I think, Mr Meadows, that you missed, first of all, the facts that are related to the agreement itself, and here is the point where I would like to ask a question or two: have you indeed read the agreement? And have you read any critique of the agreement?
None of us know how rationality and messianism are mixed in the Iranian leadership and that can go either way.
Indeed, so why are we ready to assume the best, signing of on something with more holes than cheese in it?
But either you think you can get a better deal or you're ready to put on a uniform. Absent both, STFU and do some listening!
My last remark will be not about the substance of the post but about its style. As far as I understand from your FB page, Mr Meadows, you are a "Speech Writer & Campaign Aide at Progressive Messaging", meaning a person versed in all things PR. Which is (for me) a bit hard to reconcile with the rather crude styling of your post and your insistence that people who disagree with you STFU - even if they are bloodthirsty trench-dodgers. But of course I don't know anything about campaigning and its current style in US, so who knows...

Now I shall STFU.

(*) For those who don't know the term - STFU.

Shark attack and the expert

I can't really blame CNN for that one:

It is not a CNN invention, they just interviewed some British shark expert. Anyway, if I ever see a great white circling me in the water, not peeing will be... how to say it... OK, only the second most important issue, I am sure.

18 July 2015

Ayatollah Khamenei and New York Times - the art of headlines

Some people don't understand my seeming obsession with newspapers' (and on-line newspapers') headlines. I do believe in the importance of watching this small facet of the media. After all, many of us start their day with a brief scan of the front pages, barely slowing down and clicking through only a selected few of the headlines that look interesting or cause some initial misunderstanding. Thus in many cases headlines inform us, scare us, make us smile etc, slightly adjusting our worldview - all this without any need to go into the article itself, no matter how much the contents of the article differ from the message conveyed by the headline.

Indeed, a man that sees something like "A vaccine for Ebola was developed" might get his positive boost for the day, especially if that man didn't know about tens of thousands that expired of the bug. Or a man that sees the insidious BBC's "Israeli planes attacked in Gaza" gets the message about the bloody Zionists without any need to click through and (possibly) to learn that the bloody Zionists responded to another series of rocket launches from the place. Etc.

So, you can imagine now my feelings after browsing through the headlines dedicated to the latest anti-American, anti-Israeli and generally incendiary speech by Ayatollah Khamenei. The message, very far from what the White House hoped to hear, is clear:

Iran's stance towards the "arrogant" US will not change despite the nuclear deal reached earlier this week, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said.
Or, simply put in a graphic way:

But this was expected, more or less, and while the official White House/State Department will eat the crow silently, Juan Cole and his ilk will re-translate for us the words of the chief cleric in a more palatable manner... something with doves and olive branches in it.

What was less expected is the gutter level the bastion of the progressive media, the New York Times is ready to get down to. Here are the headlines of several (not especially right wing, it has to be said) media outfits:

Deutsche Welle: Khamenei: Nuclear deal 'won't change' Iran's stance on US
AFP: Iran leader says policy against 'arrogant' US 'won't change'
BBC (!): Iran nuclear: Ayatollah Khamenei chastises 'arrogant' US

And now comes the NYT headline about the same speech:

Ayatollah Khamenei, Backing Iran Negotiators, Doesn’t Fault Nuclear Deal

Fuck me sideways - the only thing that came to mind. And before you ask - the article does contain some of the Khamenei "criticism", although in the end part of it and without mention of the arrogance etc.

Nothing left but to remind, the umpteens time, the famous:

And now, for some comic relief, an in-depth review of the Iran nuclear deal. With many thanks to Dick Stanley, the Texas Scribbler.