Monthly Archives: April 2008

Food Shortages and Subsidies

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With the increase in demand from China for things like meat, milk and rice, we are seeing food prices skyrocket and even food shortages. It’s funny to think that there can be food shortages when governments in Europe and the U.S. heavily subsidize agriculture. In the past twelve months in Spain, for example, the price of milk has increased 30%. Something like 40% of the total EU budget goes to agriculture — that means that consumers are paying twice (first through taxes and second at the cash register).

Nevertheless, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. If the wealthy nations don’t react quickly and change their agricultural policies, China may just be the opportunity that developing nations in Africa and Latin America have been waiting for to finally be able to compete in a global market.

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April in Montmartre

One year a later, I spent another April in Paris and also without rain! That’s a real surprise because for the past year, traveling to Paris at least once a month, I think I haven’t had to fortune to live through a single rainless weekend.

But not this weekend. We had a beautiful weekend of sunshine. I tried to capture — unsuccessfully — the wonderful day in Montmartre with another low budget video. This time with Thelonious Monk playing “April in Paris“.

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I Need a little Break

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I think I need to take a short break from the campaign trail. Something is happening, and I am not quite sure exactly why, but it doesn’t sit well in my stomach. It has to do with the turn that the election spin is taking. I am not saying that Hillary is now in the lead or has a real chance of winning. She still has the same chance that she had two months ago — she can only destroy Obama for the general election and that’s about it. But it’s the destruction that seems so unhealthy and astounding — even coming from the Clintons. It also feels hurtful to the nation, and the press is just loving it.

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Intensity In Crescendo

Last night I went to the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid to see (and hear) my friend, Philippe Raskin, play. Although I had heard him play once before in a quartet setting, this was the first time I got to experience him live on solo piano. The experience blew me away. It was by far the best concert I have ever been to. I wish I had more time now to describe the performance in depth. Unfortunately I don’t, so I’ll be brief. Continue reading

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Inmate Count in U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations’

Eloy Muñoz Carabanchel

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

Enough said? Read more. (Photo of the abandoned Carabanchel prison by my co-worker, Eloy Muñoz).

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Obliteration as Genocide

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I am not the only one who has commented on Hillary’s outrageous “obliteration” comments. Robert Scheer has just written an article to the same effect. Continue reading

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Déjà Vu All Over Again

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You can’t call this a Comeback either. Hillary still can’t win. What is amazing is just how predictable voters are. Each state since Super Tuesday has behaved exactly as the polls and demographics anticipated, with the sole exception that in each state that Hillary was likely to win, Obama cut her lead. Regardless of what it might look like from the photo, it’s not “just like starting over”.

If you’re an Obama-maniac, then you probably feel a little disappointed this morning. But who are you kidding? Things happened as planned. There were really no suprises, even if the press tried to play it like it would be very close (Obama was only able to reduce Hillary’s 25 point lead to a 10 point lead). So if you wonder why Obama can’t close the deal, it’s because Hillary has pledged to stay in the race even if she can’t win. Remember, this race has been dead since March.

Interestingly enough, after all the ugliness in Pennsylvania, the New York Times today published an editorial, “The Low Road to Victory“, essentially un-endorsing Hillary. Maybe her victory today wasn’t so great after all. Continue reading

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Get Out of the Kitchen

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What was it that Bill Clinton said after the Philadelphia debate when Obama accused the press of not focusing on issues and distracting the electorate? Something about not complaining, about politics as a contact sport and being able to stand the heat? In a twist of faith, it sure sounded like Bill was whining today about the press:

You always follow me around and play these little games, and I’m not going to play your games today. This is a day about election day . . .

. . . You have mischaracterized it to get another cheap story to divert the American people from the real urgent issues before us, and I choose not to play your game today. Have a nice day.

Then when thinking the microphones was off, Bill had replied,

I don’t think I should take any shit from anybody on that, do you?

In Hillary’s defense: when asked about Bill’s statements she looked like she’d wished she’d never married him in the first place.

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McCain is Glad to Have Hagee’s Endorsement

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McCain made some very disturbing statements on this Sunday’s This Week. While McCain admits that it was probably a mistake to have accepted Hagee’s endorsement because of Hagee’s anti-Catholic rhetoric, McCain nevertheless says he is “glad to have his endorsement.” How can you be glad to have the endorsement if it was a mistake to accept it? Does he mean that he was glad to have made the mistake of accepting the endorsement? Then McCain even goes on to praise Hagee,

I admire and respect Dr. Hagee’s leadership … I admire and appreciate his advocacy for the state of Israel, the independence of the state of Israel.

Saying that you reject Hagee’s hate speech but love everything else about him is like saying that you reject the KKK’s racism, but respect its leadership and would be glad to have its support. Do you really think that John McCain can make such statements and get elected? Remember, McCain voted against both a federal and Arizona state holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and has supported the Confederate Flag.

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Obliterating a Country Doesn’t Work

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If there is one thing that the U.S. has proven in Iraq and Israel has proven in Lebanon is that obliterating an enemy whether through threats or even attacks just doesn’t work anymore. It might sound counter-intuitive, but major military powers like the U.S. or Israel have not been successful in their wars against low budget foes. As a matter of fact, these two military and political fiascos have really put into question whether a superior power can ever actually invade a foreign country and come out victorious.

If you believe Seymour Hersh that the U.S. supported the Summer 2006 war in Lebanon to potentially test later shifting targets from Iraq to Iran, then it’s hard to imagine why threatening Iran now would yield any positive results. U.S. threats, occupations, and attempts at obliteration are counter productive. George W. Bush has proven this more than any other president in U.S. history.

Thus, I have no idea what Hillary thought she was trying to prove — other than that she too can sound like a McCainian “War-Monger Wanted for President” t-shirt — when she said on ABC’s Good Morning America that,

I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran (if it attacks Israel) . . . we would be able to totally obliterate them . . . That’s a terrible thing to say but those people who run Iran need to understand that because that perhaps will deter them from doing something that would be reckless, foolish and tragic.

Deterrence, eh? That sure worked with Sadam and Hezbollah. Are we sure that what the U.S. needs is to perpetuate a foreign policy based on scaring and intimidating other nations and making their citizens hate us? Does she even know what the word obliteration means? Did she mean that the U.S. should threaten Iran with genocide?

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