Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tragedy in Burma: 25,000 dead after a typhoon. I hope the US Navy is in action right now, bringing in food and medicine, no matter how awful and repressive the government is, and even though probably half the aid will get stolen by people by people who will profiteer off it.

Note the difference between Burma and Louisiana. In Louisiana, even though the city and state governments completely bungled the whole operation, from evacuation to relief, only about a thousand people died. Media hysteria didn't help, of course. But at least Louisiana, admittedly America's little corner of the Third World, had the infrastructure and organization to do something. Burma doesn't, largely because its government is corrupt, tyrannical, and xenophobic. So the country had no warning system or evacuation plan or, apparently, anything else.

Nobody's blamed global warming for this yet, though I'm sure it'll happen soon.

Food prices: Oils are up 41% over the past year, wheat flour up 28%, sterilized milk 24%, and dried pasta up 20%. Canary Islands bananas are up 19%, oranges up 15%, fresh chicken 13%, and eggs 11%. Prices that have dropped: fresh tomatoes down 17%, potatoes down 7%, onions down 7%, carrots down 5%, and lettuce down 4%. So this is good news for us salad-eating vegetarians. The cost of the official food of Spain, the tortilla de patatas, stays about the same, with eggs up but potatoes and onions down.

Note: Spanish people say Canary Islands bananas taste better than Latin American bananas. I can't tell the difference, myself.

Get this. Spanish judges have handed down 270,000 penal sentences that have not been carried out. That means there are a hell of a lot of people out there who ought to be in prison but are just walking around free, and quite possibly committing more crimes. One of the reasons for the delay is that there was a strike by the judicial civil servants, which balled things up for a while, but the two main reasons are 1) the wheels of justice grind far too slow and 2) they don't have enough prison space.

What I would do is imprison only violent criminals, and I would imprison them for a good long time. The rest of society needs to be protected from these people. There are other ways to punish non-violent criminals. What I'd do to economic criminals, from bad-check writers to fraudsters to corrupt politicians, is sentence them to poverty for a term of years. They wanted to get rich by breaking the rules? Force them to be poor, make them live in public housing and work at McDonalds. This punishment would allow these lawbreakers to keep their physical freedom, but lose their economic freedom.

Here's some guys I'm all in favor of putting in jail: They busted five pro-ETA punks who'd been committing street terrorism in and around Baracaldo. Among other things, they completely wrecked a commuter train station, torched a couple of city buses, and firebombed local PNV headquarters.

Former Barça star midfielderJosep Guardiola will be FC Barcelona's next coach, according to TV3. I think it's a good hire; I like the idea of hiring young coaches with recent playing experience. Let's just hope Guardiola can discipline these guys, because the clubhouse got out of control in Rijkaard's two last years. Rumor has it that Liverpool will make an offer for Abidal, that Edmilson will go to Newcastle, and that Ronaldinho may wind up at Manchester City, of all places.

There's a story in La Vanguardia saying that Ronaldinho failed a physical, supposedly for AC Milan, and that he's so badly out of shape that he can't play at all. This may be why Berlusconi announced that Milan was no longer interested in him. Right now the question is whether to let him play the last home game of the season as a last hurrah, and the answer will probably be no.

TV3's Washington correspondent has set up an election blog. Today he reports that he challenged a Republican voter in Indiana who said that Obama didn't have enough experience with, "And what experience did Ronald Reagan have?" Well, he'd been governor of California for eight years, the corporate spokesman for General Electric, the president of the Screen Actors Guild, one of the leaders of the anti-Communist backlash in Hollywood, a successful movie actor, and a pioneer radio announcer, and he came from a much poorer family than Obama did. Reagan is the only US president to have been the president of a labor union. Obama, on the other hand, is a professional politician who's been in the US Senate for two years, and before that was in the Illinois state senate. He's done nothing else but write self-justifying books and hang out with Chicago black nationalists and sixties-leftover ex-terrorists.

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