Euro’s Share In Reserves Overtakes U.S. Dollar

…The Moscow Times reports. Russia’s reserves, that is.

The euro’s share in Russia’s forex reserves, the world’s third-largest, overtook that of the dollar last year as the country pressed on with a gradual diversification, the Central Bank’s annual report showed.

The euro’s share increased to 47.5 percent as of Jan. 1 from 42.4 percent a year ago, according to the report, which was submitted to the State Duma on Monday.

The dollar’s share fell to 41.5 percent from 47 percent at the start of 2008 and 49 percent at the start of 2007.

Is this significant? I have no idea.

It’s just you, me, and Uncle Sam. And before I leave you, you’re gonna find out that me and Uncle Sam are one and the same.

Ah. I believe this is the first time I see someone in semi-mainstream US media all but suggesting that in the US the military is running the state.

He’ll probably apologize in a few seconds.

Site of free will found in brain!

NewScientist reports.

When a neurosurgeon electrically jolted this region in patients undergoing surgery, they felt a desire to, say, wiggle their finger, roll their tongue or move a limb.

Yes, they really do call it “site of free will”; ha-ha-ha-ha, — the irony…

Google Mystery, revisited.

With this recent ADL v. William Robinson story I guess it’s time to update my old Warsaw/Gaza post. Here’s how it looks today:

search string Nov 21, 2008 Apr 30, 2009
warsaw gaza 1,150,000 hits 1,190,000 hits
“warsaw ghetto” gaza 35,500 hits 60,200 hits

Let’s see, a majority of the new Warsaw & Gaza pages have “Warsaw Ghetto” in them. Makes sense.

Update: weird, google.ch returns 60,200 hits for “Warsaw Ghetto”  & Gaza, but google.com returns 144,000 hits. This thing is full of mysteries.

Priorities, priorities…

UN Pitches Ban vs. Ahmadinejad on One-Way TV Screen, No Questions

UNITED NATIONS, April 20 — The UN’s priorities were shown this Monday morning when a one-way video feed of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon denouncing Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s comments on Israel preempted the UN’s noon press briefing.”

- UN watchdog Inner City Press reports.

“Questions would not be taken, then, on the fire over the weekend in the UN compound in Darfur, more than 100 dead in South Sudan after the UN failed to increase patrols, a workers’ strike against UNRWA in Jordan, nor the carnage in Sri Lanka.

A UN spokesperson explained that it would not be possible to be prepared on these other issues. Anyway, the spokesperson continued, reporters at the UN had expressed a desire to see the Ban briefing in Geneva, even if they could not ask any questions. This is the story today, the message was: Ban’s outrage at Iran, for its comments on Israel.

What explains this seemingly disproportionate reaction? Some guessed it was Ban’s attempt to put “deadbeat-gate” behind him, where he said the U.S. is the biggest deadbeat. Others said it was to make up for criticizing the U.S. and others for not attending the Durban review conference in Geneva (those countries were now saying, we told you so). Some journalists joked about throwing shoes or sandals at the one-way TV screen…”

Torture memos and my misconception

…read some of those memos and was mildly surprised.

I thought it would be something like this:

“Make it happen.”

Well, apparently it’s more like The Trial or Gilliam’s Brazil:

Bureaucracy gone amok.

Chomsky: The Soviet Union Versus Socialism

Following the discussion two threads down, I want to link this short piece by Noam Chomsky, written in 1986.

…In periods when there is little challenge to State capitalist institutions, the same fundamental commitments lead the ‘new class’ to serve as State managers and ideologists, “beating the people with the people’s stick,” in Bakunin’s words. It is small wonder that intellectuals find the transition from ‘revolutionary Communism’ to ‘celebration of the West’ such an easy one, replaying a script that has evolved from tragedy to farce over the past half century. In essence, all that has changed is the assessment of where power lies. Lenin’s dictum that “socialism is nothing but state capitalist monopoly made to benefit the whole people,” who must of course trust the benevolence of their leaders, expresses the perversion of ‘socialism’ to the needs of the State priests, and allows us to comprehend the rapid transition between positions that superficially seem diametric opposites, but in fact are quite close.

The terminology of political and social discourse is vague and imprecise, and constantly debased by the contributions of ideologists of one or another stripe. Still, these terms have at least some residue of meaning. Since its origins, socialism has meant the liberation of working people from exploitation. As the Marxist theoretician Anton Pannekoek observed, “this goal is not reached and cannot be reached by a new directing and governing class substituting itself for the bourgeoisie,” but can only be “realized by the workers themselves being master over production.” Mastery over production by the producers is the essence of socialism, and means to achieve this end have regularly been devised in periods of revolutionary struggle, against the bitter opposition of the traditional ruling classes and the ‘revolutionary intellectuals’ guided by the common principles of Leninism and Western managerialism, as adapted to changing circumstances. But the essential element of the socialist ideal remains: to convert the means of production into the property of freely associated producers and thus the social property of people who have liberated themselves from exploitation by their master, as a fundamental step towards a broader realm of human freedom.

Slate.com, you’re out of my RSS feed.

I used to like Slate, but with people like Applebaum, Hitchens, and Saletan becoming more and more prominent, there’s been a steady decrease of readable stuff there. Today I read a piece titled Why Israel Will Bomb Iran. The rational argument for an attack.

It’s one of those (unfortunately rather common) things where states are subjected to amateur psychoanalysis as if they were individuals. Anyway, this one para caught my attention:

The idea of a mass public outcry against Israel [if it attacks Iran] in the Muslim world is probably also a fiction—given the public backing of the Gulf states and Egypt for Israel’s wars against Hezbollah and Hamas. As the only army in the region able to take on Iran and its clients, Israel has effectively become the hired army of the Sunni Arab states tasked by Washington with the job of protecting America’s favorite Middle Eastern tipple—oil.

Public backing in the Gulf states and Egypt for Israel’s wars? The idea of a mass public outcry against Israel in the Muslim world is probably a fiction? WTF? And needless to say, the link in the quote says absolutely nothing about Israel becoming “the hired army of the Sunni Arab states”.

Think about it. Someone (his name is ) wrote something this absurd and disingenuous. This guy  obviously has zero respect for common sense, truth, and decency – and that’s all right, some people are like that, you’ll find all kinds of stuff on the internet.

Right. But Slate is owned by the Washington Post, it’s supposed to be a reputable online publication. It is supposed to have editors, managements, – the shareholders for chrissake. I mean, how do they allow this stuff to be published? This is probably why Mr.

The most important of all arts…

…is the cinema, according to Vladimir Lenin.

So, because youtube is there, I’ll link two scenes that stuck in my head since I watched these films for the first time decades ago.

First is the assassination scene from Il Conformista:

The second is, as far as I am concerned, the best friggin’ scene in the history of cinema, and consequently the most important 2 minute-long piece of art in the universe. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the finale of Le notti di Cabiria:

…in which Charles Murray…

offers a passionate critique of the Gotha Programme,  urges the American elite to try cheap ketchup. It’s a good laugh.

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