Category: Europe

The perils of politics

Tony Blair’s tackle during a friendly football match has sent smashingly coffed Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi to the hospital:
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister, has discovered the high price of clashing with Tony Blair: he has been forced to seek hospital treatment for a leg injury sustained when his British counterpart “ran into” him during a five-a-side football match earlier this month.
Mr Berlusconi, who has been walking with a barely discernible limp since he hosted the Blair family at his Sardinian holiday home, was forced to call in his orthopaedic specialist last week when the pain in his left knee became more acute.

The reporter, Bruce Johnston, becomes humor-impaired at this point:
Dressed in a blue polo shirt, blue tracksuit bottoms and blue trainers, Mr Berlusconi theatrically touched his painful knee and told other waiting patients in the hospital courtyard: “You know, the Left is always giving me problems.” Onlookers were uncertain whether this was a reference to his Italian Communist foes, or to Mr Blair. (emphasis mine)
Dope, don’t you read your own article? It’s his left knee. It’s a joke.It’s supposed to be funny. As in ha-ha.

The French Need Glasses

The French really need glasses and some anti-hysteria medication. I saw a report that there was a panther on the loose in Marseille, which I didn’t buy, as there were not details in the story like lots of dead house pets, or farm animals being killed.
Turns out I was right to be skeptical.
The southern French city of Marseille called off a three-week hunt for a black panther on Tuesday after the animal sighted by several residents turned out to be a large house cat.
Duh. People next time try to use perspective and figure out how big the kitty really is. I know the French tendency is to be frightened and surrender at the merest sign of danger, but, c’mon, don’t freak out over a kitty.

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Last night, watching TV reports of the Madrid train killings, I immediately suspected that the perpetrators weren’t Basque ETA terrorists as the news said. I shook my head and said “It’s Al Qaeda”.
Turns out I may have beenright:
One claim of responsibility for the rush-hour attacks on trains at three stations was e-mailed to the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi.
It said Spain had been targeted by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades on behalf of al-Qaeda as “one of the pillars of the crusade alliance”.
“This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader, and America’s ally in its war against Islam,” the e-mail said.

Well, well, well… I guess they haven’t yet figured out they can’t win at this game. They’re just concerned with taking out as many bodies as they can on their way.
As expected, John of Iberian Notes is doing champion blogging on the event. My heart goes out to the people of Madrid, a city I dearly love, and Spain as a whole. We know what you’re going through.
Fuerza, amigos.

Europe and other difficulties

Bill Dawson reporting on the latest news coming out of the EU behemoth, poses an interesting question:
The European Commission (now which one is that: “European Union”, the “Council of Europe”, “European Parliament” or the “European Presidency” or is it its own thing?)
Hmm. I’ve never heard the difference between these bodies adequately explained (assuming there is one). Can anyone help out?

The unilateral follies

So the United States is the renegade cowboy nation, always going at things alone, without consulting our betters….er, allies?
Read Max Boot’s article and tell me that description isn’t better applied to the EUnuchs themselves:
Russia signaled last week that it might not ratify the Kyoto accord on global warming. The week before, France and Germany abrogated the Stability and Growth Pact, which requires all euro-zone members to keep their budget deficits under 3% of gross domestic product. And French troops in Ivory Coast are still struggling to impose some stability in that country, where they arrived in September 2002 without benefit of a U.N. resolution. Last week riots broke out around France’s main military base in the port city of Abidjan.
As these events transpired, I couldn’t help remembering how many times I’ve been lectured by self-righteous Europeans in the last year. Europe, they claim, is governed by the rule of law, whereas the United States lives by the law of the jungle. Europe is multilateral, the United States unilateral. Europe good, United States bad. A nice conceit, that. Too bad European governments are so keen to disprove it.

Why, they hate us!

A recent news story indicating that two thirds of young Germans have been experiencing an increase in virulently anti-American and anti-semitic sentiment was found by much of the blogosphere to be shocking, simply shocking. Sadly, it’s not unique, and this poisoning of the European mind continues, unabated.
For instance, this is an interesting article demonstrating how a lot of Europeans feel about the U.S. these days. Thierry Meyssan, who wrote a bestseller claiming that 9/11 was staged by the Americans (and no plane ever hit the Pentagon) has developed a deck of cards rivaling the “most wanted” deck that the troops are using in Iraq. The deck, which was quickly parodied on the left and right here in the states, has been adapted to suit French sensibilities. Donald Rumsfeld is the trump card, the Ace of Spades. Well, at least the effeminate lefty Euros can recognize an Alpha male when they see one… and boy, do they hate him. Osama bin Laden and Colin Powell are both jokers.
So what went wrong? Why are we so vilified among Europeans?

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I am quite happy that the Swedes rejected the Euro. While economically speaking, there are advantages to having a common currency as it reduces transactions costs, thus enabling growth, but, being drawn further into the bureaucratic mess known as the EU is likely to lead to governmental expansion and control being transferred to Brussels. Since the various countries in the EU have distinct econmies, a common interest rate set in Brussels will be beneficial to some and not to others.
What I (and I’m sure many others) have noticed that when countries have these referendums is that the polticians are bent on forcing their ideas down the throats of people and keep holding referendums until people give in and vote yes or just don’t vote at all.
That’s just what I think, anyways.
[This is my post for the Carnival 1st Anniversary Edition. It is also posted at my blog here]

Jews, Basques and chocolate

June Thomas’ article for Slate about traveling in Basque country came to my in-box just as I was about to write a post recommending a marvelous book I’ve just finished, Mark Kurlansky’s The Basque History Of The World If you’ve ever wondered about these mysterious people tucked into the Pyrenees straddling Spain and France, I beg you to pick up this book.
Some brief snippets and highlights:
*The Roman general Pompey named the city of Pamplona after himself. It was originally known in Latin as Pompaleo.
*Basques, in spite of being strict and devout Catholics, have also kept many pre-Christian beliefs in magic and spells.

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Socialist health care exposed

Mona Charen notices that the stark under-performance of centralized and socialized health care systems in former Communist countries is not exactly good news for leftists, who have long waxed eloquent about the “free” medical treatment in Cuba and the former Soviet Union. But compared with the civilized capitalist world, they simply can’t measure up:

When the Soviet Union went out of business, the real state of its health care system — indeed all social services — was revealed at last. Instead of the gleaming socialist clinics presided over by crisp female physicians, we found a Third World system without even the rudiments of modern plumbing, far less modern medical equipment. As Robert Conquest wrote in”Reflections on a Ravaged Century,” Moscow’s health minister acknowledged in 1991 that half of the hospitals in the (capital) had no sewerage, 80 percent lacked hot water, and some 17 percent did not have running water of any sort.”

But… but… it’s free!