Monday, July 02, 2007

The big story around here is, of course, the terrorism situation in the UK. Both TV3 and Antena 3 have been reporting on it pretty reasonably. Just my guess, based on the simple bombs that didn't work and the non-standard (and pretty damn crazy) technique used at the Glasgow airport: These guys are amateur terrorists with little or no experience and few contacts with Al Qaeda higher-ups.

Another guess I have is that US-UK-NATO intelligence knows a good bit that we don't, and they have got wind of an Al Qaeda spectacular planned for sometime this week to coincide with the July 4 holiday in the US.

Withdrawing from Iraq is not going to help us defeat Al Qaeda. In fact, it would have exactly the opposite effect.

Rafael Ramos in La Vanguardia gets all of pages 3 and 4 to be incredibly patronizing and snide about Gordon Brown and the British democratic system. Just a few pearls:

Politically, the wave of frustrated terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom have been the perfect trampoline for the launching of Gordon Brown's mandate.

Seems Raffy's implying the old Cui bono? explanation that Noam Chomsky uses so often for these attacks.

(We watched) Gordon Brown play the great statesman and address the nation proclaiming that "Al Qaeda will not triumph."...He put on his best suit and tie, searched for the solemn expression that his advisors tell him transmits an image of solidity, and proclaimed, "Al Qaeda will not change the British way of life." It is not clear exactly what the British way of life is.

That's a pretty snotty portrait of Brown, who it seems Raffy does not like. It's also opinion, not appropriate for a news report.

The attacks have allowed Brown to put the security and order issue in first place, which plays in his favor. When the voters feel threatened, whether by war or terror, they tend in general to close ranks behind the government in office.

More attribution of less-than-noble motives to Brown.

One of Brown's great initiatives since he was Chancellor of the Exchequer consists of cultivating a British patriotism inspired by American, with the cult of the flag included.

What's so offensive about American patriotism? As if there weren't much waving of nationalist flags around, say, Barcelona.

Yesterday Brown, perhaps influenced by his advisors, could not resist the temptation to imitate Bush and Blair with rotund statements for television.

It's pretty obvious Raffy thinks that everything a democratic politician does is done for only one reason: to manipulate the voters. To the Vangua's editors: If I wanted to read Noam Chomsky theorize in Le Monde Diplomatique, I'd buy it.

The Scottish prime minister, nationalist Alex Salmond, whose first two months leading his country are considered a complete success...

Wait! What? Isn't this editorializing? Who considers them a success? And why is Scottish nationalism cool while American and British patriotism are not?

Salmond has presented himself as an integrating nationalist who is going to fight against the stigmatization of the Islamic community on the basis of stereotypes and individual actions, while Brown immediately cast the blame "in general lines" on Al Qaeda, defending the British way of life, and advancing down the road of the war of civilizations in the footsteps of Bush and Blair.

Oh, so that's why. What a pile of shit. Isn't it Britain where something like 40% of Muslims approve of suicide bombings? That's no stereotype. And what precisely is wrong with blaming the attempted bombings on Al Qaeda?

The TV series 24, whose protagonist Jack Blair regularly resorts to torture to extract information, has fed the debate about how far the legitimacy goes of the treatment that suspects of terrorism receive from the representatives of the state with the objective of preventing attacks. During the night, whatever the severity of the interrogation or the degree of cooperation of the suspect...

Yep, here goes Raffy explaining serious issues with examples from popular culture and accusing the British police of torturing the guy riding shotgun in the flaming car.

Question: Do any of you think Raffy's report is anywhere near fair or balanced? Or has he committed libel about fourteen times here? I think he's committed libel, and Brown would have a good shot in a lawsuit, especially in Britain. But I also know that it certainly would not be worth the trouble.

And, remember, this is La Vanguardia, the top-selling newspaper in Catalonia with a circulation of nearly 200,000. With this kind of news reporting, no wonder many of them are so ignorant about the rest of the world. It's much better to know nothing and admit it, like the Americans, than to know next to nothing and firmly believe it, as in Spain.

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