New blogs

Leherensuge was replaced in October 2010 by two new blogs: For what they were... we are and For what we are... they will be. Check them out.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Food crisis begins with rice

Rice is the staple food of about half humankind and it's beginning to be in short supply. As analyzed by Al Jazeera in 'Asian rice crisis starts to bite', the situation can be very difficult for certain countries like Philippines, where uncontrolled population growth has run parallel to loss of farming lands.

Until now rice was cheap and easily available but in the last weeks many exporters, like Vietnam or Cambodia have imposed restrictions with the intent of securing food for their own populations. Countries like affluent Japan that have a strategic food policy, purchasing and storing rice every year, should face no problem at least in the short term but others like Philippines, poor and with no food planning whatsoever, may be brought to the brink of disaster.

And most revolutions began with hungry desperate people.

Anyhow, the problems caused by more expensive food prices will not just affect a handful of countries, nor just those whose diet gravitates around rice. The recent confrontations in Argentine about food export taxes are clearly motivated by greedy landowners wanting to get more from the current speculative state of affairs of global food markets. Food is every day more expensive everywhere: some, the most affluent ones, can maybe take from other consumptions to make sure they do not get hungry but that will affect other sectors of the economy that will see their demand plumetting.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Danger: Itoitz reservoir full!

The most controversial Itoitz reservoir in Navarre has become full for the first time in history in spite of all the opposition of so many years.

The dam is built on clay rock that is highly unstable, specially when permeated with water, and that has sparked fears that a catastrophe could happen. Some scientists have suggested that, in case of collapse, the wave could reach as far downstream as Zaragoza, killing many people and causing widespread destruction.

In the last years, as the reservoir was only partly filled, many unusual earth tremors have shattered the area. The authorities shield themselves in the fact that the Pyrenees (like most of Southern Europe) is a seismically active area but the frequency of the tremors has been many many times the usual since the dam was finished and began to be filled.

That and the issue that he reservoir overlaps a protected area have get judges to forbid its full fill until now. But the wait is over and the dreaded scenario of a full Itoitz reservoir that spells death danger for the villages and cities downstream is already here with the spring rains. Sadly enough, we now just have to wait for the predictions to become true.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Israeli "journalism".

Interesting 1st person account by an Israeli journalist, Yonatan Mendel, at Counterpunch: How to be an Israeli journalist: never write "Murder" or "Palestine".

Key concepts:
- The Israeli Army
(euphemistically and oficially called Israel Defense Forces, IDF) never kidnaps anyone: they arrest them. If the Palestinian or Lebanese militias do the same, then it's a totally different case.
- The Israeli Army never commits a murder, but targetted assasinations. Again exactly the opposite happens when it's Palestinian militants who kill someone. When the Israeli Army murders, say, 14 civilians in such a sophisticated and precise operation, they are just killed by mistake.
- Palestinians can never be acting in self defense, the Israeli Army always does.
- There are no Israelis with blood on their hands, only Palestinians. Curiously a lot more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis at any time of the conflict - but it probably was God or some accident, who knows?
- Israeli's shock and indignation is always most important. Palestinians seem to be so tough that they suffer no shock from the continuous Israeli raids and nobody seems to care about their indignation anyhow.
- Sources: there are trustworthy Israeli Army sources and the occasional vage reference to Palestinians, as an amorphous headless mass.
- There are no low ranking Hamas members, specially if they have been killed by the Israeli Army. All are always high ranking.
- Restricting electricty to hospitals is a non-lethal weapon.
- Crowning (keter) is the euphemism used for the usual practice of neighbourhood sieges by the Israeli Army. In such sieges anyone who dares to get out to the streets or even peek through the window may be killed (never murdered) without any warning, no matter if that one is a young kid or whatever.
- Palestinian children become teenagers at the age of 6 if they happen to be accidentally killed or injured by Israeli troops.
- Palestine does not exist, even if Palestinians do.
- East Jerusalem does not exist either. Apparently common geographical notions do not apply to the holy city.
- Gaza strip (the largest concentration camp in the world) is now quasi-oficially Hamastan.
- Apology of murder is legal and highly encouraged if the murdered person happens to be labelled as terrorist. But it's not murder in any case... but, well, a targetted assasination - you know by now.
- Correspondants of Arab affairs must never be Arab, in spite of 20% of Israeli citizens being of that ethnicity and mastering Arabic much better than nearly any Israeli Jew.
- These words do not exist: occupation, apartheid, racism, Palestinian citizens of Israel, bantustan, ethnic cleansing and nakba ("the disaster": the 1948 Israeli invasion of most of Palestine). Forget about them... now!
- The Occupied Territories (West Bank and Gaza strip) do not exist: first they were the Administrated Territories, then Samaria and Judea and finally just the Territories. (And no, you can't call them Palestine either). How would Zionists occupy anything, if they always act in self-defense?, c'mon!

Ready to report in democratic Israel, young one?

Pesticides behind Parkison

Those exposed to pesticides have a 60% greater risk of getting Parkinson than those who don't. It's more than just significant, really.

That's one of the main reasons why I quitted gardening: the exposure to pesticides was too high and anyhow they were most of the times the wrong (but easy and very demanded) approach.

Mestizo genetics

Plos Genetics issue of March'08 is out and with it an already advanced interesting research: Geographic patterns of genome admixture in Latin American Mestizos, by Sijia Wang et al.

The article has been recieved with sort of a "nothing new" comment all around the genetic blogosphere but I think a couple of issues are of interest.

The "nothing new" non-finding is that Mestizos have overall more European than Native male ancestry, specially when compared with the female ancestry. In this study they researched autosomal SNP markers and X chromosome ones. The first is statistically inherited equally from male and female ancestors, while the second is more female than male (roughly 67% and 33%). In most Mestizo samples, the European ancestry happens to be significatively larger in the SNP bar than in the autosomal one (see fig. 2), meaning more male than female European ancestry. the inverse is true for all samples regarding Black African ancestry (i.e. their Black ancestors were systematically mostly females).

But there are at least two exceptions to the European male dominance "rule": in the samples of Oriente (Guatemala) and Salta (Argentine, near Bolivia) the European ancestry bars are about the same, what actually translates as Native American male ancestry larger than the female one, and European female ancestry unusually large. The same is true for the samples of Pasto and Peque (both in rural Colombia), though maybe not as exageratedly. So there are 4/14 where the standard machista Eurocentric mestizaje was modified up to inversion. Why? Don't know yet but a clue may be in the rural nature of these mestizo samples, as well as in the fact that they are among the 5 samples that have highest Native American blood overall. Probably European immigration was low in those areas and therefore Mestizo women (rather than purely European, who were always few) may have no choice but marrying natives (I mean it was, and surely still is, socially less favorable - I naturally do not oppose that personally, not at all: society does).

The other issue is the makeup of Native ancestry in these Mestizo groups. And, against what the authors argue, the data (fig. 5 and 6) shows that some populations actually have an extremely variegated non-local native ancestry. The most striking examples are also probably the most urban ones: Mexico City and Medellín.

Mexico City Mestizos have among their native ancestry, some 60% that does not belong to North America (North- and Meso-American linguistic groups) but to Isthmic and South America. The Andean and Equatorial-Tucanoan groups, that are definitively not Central American nor Caribbean, make up a 40% of their native ancestry. A very similar case is that of Medellín Mestizos, where the North American blood makes up almost 40% of their native ancestry. Much of the same can be said of other samples: Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), Tucuman and Cajamarca (Argentine), Cundinamarca (Colombia, the department that includes Bogotá) and Oriente (Guatemala).

I wonder why and the easiest answer is that probably Latin American Mestizos travelled quite a lot in the Spanish Empire - after all they constituted the backbone of the Spanish administration and military, even if the ruling elite was of nearly pure European ancestry and even often new arrivals from the metropolis.

USAID bribes Bolivian politicians

Sure, nothing new but always interesting to read: Evo Morales denounces the conspiration of the US embassy and USAID to depose him and denounces the racism of opposition leaders.

Dumping waste in Palestine

An interesting (and outraging) article of Al Jazeera on how Israel is dumping poisonous waste in the West Bank and how Palestinians have to burn their own in open air, causing major health problems.

>>West Bank faces toxic waste crisis.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Test tube evolution

Science Daily: New Synthetic Enzimes Undergo "Evolution in a Test Tube".

The system was devised to improve computer designed enzymes and the result was astonishing: only 7 "generations" were needed to improve the efficiency of the artificially adaptative trait 200-fold!!!

The researches designed an enzyme that could remove a proton from carbon atoms and, in order to make it at least as good as natural occurring ones, evolution had to be activated artifically. Therefore random mutations were induced into the artificial enzyme and only those that produced the best result were allowed to "survive" and "reproduce". Only 7 rounds of this process multiplied the effectivity by 200.

I infer from this, that under high selective pressure, the relevant adaptations can become dominant and refined in very few generations.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lots of water in the Solar System

The latest news is that Saturn's Moon Titan also seems to have an liquid ocean under the crust of ice (ref1, ref2). But it's not the first such body to be discovered: Jupiter's satellites Callisto, Ganymede and Europa also have subsurface oceans. Additionally dwarf planet Ceres also has a large mantle of ice-water that may be as much as 60% of its total volume and that is more freshwater than can be found on Earth.

We are still trying to find out if there is water on (or rather in) Mars but in any case it seems that water is much more common than we first thought in our little stellar system. This offers lots of posibilities: first of all the potential of naturally existing life, even if of microbial type maybe, in some of these bodies - but also, long term thinking, it may be of help for space exploration, as water can be a source not only of the much needed liquid that makes up 70% of our bodies but also of oxygen to breath.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bin Ladin's rantings

We don't really know if it's actually him or someone posing as Bin Ladin, but a tape purportedly by this most-wanted criminal has been published with threats to EU. The reason? Iraq?, Afghanistan?, Palestine? Nope: freedom of speech.

Some fanatics seem to think that they can dictate their private sectarian rules to the world, that if they are not allowed by their ideology to depict certain historical character, write certain texts on a body or whatever other idiocy, everybody else must abide by their criteria. And, well, that's not the case.

Of course it's clear that the famous cartoons by a right-wing Danish paper or the also controversial film by a quasi-fascist Dutch politician are lacking of all taste (and humor) and all that. But who cares? Only a brainwashed nuthead could. And it seems these abound among Muslims: themselves not being able to express nearly any criticism for their imposed religion and not willing to allow others, with more internal and external freedom to do that.

Some ill-informed person, lost in the fallacy of cultural war, could suppose that the same kind of offenses are not done agains Jesus, Moses or Buddha... but in fact they are and have been done with increasingly boldness along the last centuries, since the Inquisition was relegated to the pages of history. Not a single historical character, religious or not, has been spared of sometimes blunt and even obscene mockery or sharp merciless criticism.

That's what freedom is about.

And Muhammad or the Quran are no exception. Sorry about you if you cannot do the same safely in Morocco, Egypt or Saudia, but that's not a pretext to try to impose fundamentalist intolerance and lack of serenity on the rest.

I also believe that these intolerant attitudes can only be blamed on one thing: the fundamental weakness of Islam (some Islam?) relies precisely on not allowing criticism, on not tolerating sarcasm, on being no fun at all. This of course applies to other religions, specially to the most reactionary subsects... but overall it would seem like many Muslims lack faith on their faith and that's why they behave so aggresively. They are semi-conscious of the weakness of a religion that demands too much from its followers and that relies on brutal machismo and misogyny. That, in brief, got stuck in the Dark Ages and never got out of them.

After all, whatever they want to believe, religions aren't but human creations: human doctrines attriuted to some "god" (or "allah" or "yaveh" - as you wish), whose existence is not directly known by anybody and cannot be proven (nor therefore disproven).

But certainly there are Muslims and Muslims. Bin Ladin is probably a caricature himself (is he anything else than a mediatic product?) of the worst of Islam. But others like good ol' Malcom X are widely admired. Why? Precisely because of his cirtical thought, his inability to bend to any predetermined set of rules.

Against the person that once was known as "the CIA man in Afghanistan", against the wealthy sheikh of Death, Ussama Bin Ladin, it brights the figure of the African-American hero Malcom X:

Certainly: let's liberate our minds by any means necessary. Muslims too.

Citibank is technically insolvent

That's what Robert Manning said to the Italian magazine Il Manifesto and I found reproduced in Sin Permiso:
Citibank is already insolvent and may not survive.
Hmm... I never heard before of that Bear Stearns bank nor Thronburg Mortgage. But Citibank is something to worry about, I guess.

On the Turkish "parade" in Southern Kurdistan

Again La Haine has quite interesting article recopilating different views on what the heck was the Turkish army launching a massive operation against the PKK in the midst of winter. The article by K. Zurutza is in Spanish and, while it's all very interesting, I will not attempt to translate it but some quotes can still be very illustrative.

To begin with, Hassan a former PKK guerrilla says:
No one can believe the figures of Ankara: they are unbelievable. A guerrilla is like a rabbit running through the mountains (...)
I remember one day in 1996 when we surrounded some fifty soldiers. They had no chance and we killed all them and only four of our men died. Two days after, Turkish TV announced that they had "eliminated 70 terrorists" and lost four soldiers.
Abdullah, an elderly man from Dohuk believes that:
An operation into the mountains in full winter is a nonsense.
Haci, a mobile telephone worker makes a suggestive analysis:
It's all because of Kirkuk, it has nothing to do with the PKK. The Turks have been nervous since some time ago, as the referendum about the integration of Kirkuk into Southern Kurdistan approahches. They don't want to even hear of a Kurdish neighbour controlling one of the largest oil reserves of the Middle East.
In the final (appendix-like) part of the article, originally from the Basque newspaper Gara, Khider Domle, journalist and professor at the University of Dohuk, suggests that the Western powers, do not have a real plan for the region, that Turkey is oil hungry and that fears that what has happened in Kosovo might happen in Northern Kurdistan as well.

Uribe and Reyes

La Haine has published an interview with two Chileans who were in the camp that Uribe ordered to destroy, in Ecuador.

They say very clearly that it was not a guerrilla camp but a diplomatic one: that it had been intentionately placed out of the territory of Colombia (2km inside Ecuador) to allow the many international visitors involved in the negotiations that would allow the exchange of prisioners between Colombia and the FARC to access it without having to enter the war zone.

They also say that most of the killed were not FARC guerrillas but foreign visitors: either diplomatic liasons or sympathizers from the Bolvarian Continental Confederation (CCB) that had celebrated its congress at Quito those days. The FARC is member of the CCB.

They declare that it was evident to no one that Alvaro Uribe had such a criminal intent, not just of ordering to kill the people who were sleeping in their tents, now evidently a majority of non-FARC visitors, but to abort any possibility that any sort of dialogue that could lead to prisioner exchange between Bogotá and the FARC could ever happen.

I understand that what Mr. Uribe is saying through his murderous act is: we will not negitiate anything and anyone who tries to bypass us risks being killed. Uribe has indeed negotiated advantageous deals with much more criminal groups, but those were his friends of the far-right death squads.

In a separate article, the survivors of the massacre explained how it happened:
The soldiers yelled: "surrender and we will respect your lives" and, as they surrendered, they killed them.
At least 22 people, five women and 17 men, were killed in the massacre (these figures only account for the corpses found so far). Only three women, two Colombians and one Mexican, survived.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The mask of the Dalai Lama falls.

He's appealing to the Tibetan people to stop their protests and violence, he asks to keep good relations with China and claims that indepence is out of the question.

But he also admits that the situation is beyond his control and has threatened to resign if the protests continue.

Read more at Al Jazeera: Dalai Lama threatens to resign. (Curious: I didn't read this at BBC).

He's playing the Chinese card against his own people, against their hopes of sovereignity, dignity and freedom. In a sense it's probably good because the Tibetan people cannot remain subject to the feudal lamaist aristocracy. On the other side it could be demoralizing.

The Tibetan revolt has extended beyond the autonomous region into other provinces of Tibetan majority. As you may know Tibetans extend by much of the Southwest of the People's Republic of China, well beyond the borders of autonomous Tibet:

I wonder if this nationalist revolt could spark the eventually unavoidable burgueoise "revolution" in all China. Maybe not yet... but as the global economic crisis deepens and as the contradictions of totalitarianism and corruption become more patent, China will have no choice but to change: you can't be burgueoise under the red banner forever.

Kosovo revolts also disintegrated Yugoslavia. Nothing remains, change happens.

Since when is nudity violence?

Believe it or not, that's what the Ghanian authorities said of an aleged naked protest by refugee women:
When women strip themselves naked and stand by a major highway, that is not a peaceful demonstration.
Wonder what the heck else may it be.

The refugees, who have been deported after a month long protests reject the claims of nudity, even if it's apparently a traditional way of denounce in some parts of Africa.

Original article at the BBC.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Glaciers melting a lot faster!

World glaciers melted at an already suspicious rate of 30 cm per year in the 80s and 90s, they reached 50 cm in 2005 and (and that's the striking news) 140 cm. in 2006, almost triple than the previous year (
source). The figures for 2007 are not available yet but I can only think of horrible figures considering it was the year that the Northwestern passage melted for the first time ever.

Since 1980 our average glacier has lost some 11.5 meters of thickness and the process tends to behave as a positive feedback, because deeper compactated layers of ice are less white and therefore absorb more heat and melt faster.

Of course we can take consolation in the fact that the Earth of the dinosaurs was much warmer, with no ice at the poles and wide deserts and semideserts... but one thing is living since "always" in such conditions and another very different is to face the critical transition, with all the ecological imbalances and the more or less severe extinctions, further aggravated by our destructive "economic" practices on land and in the seas.

The prospect is really gloomy.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A thought for Tibet.

Not necessary to write much about this in this so-called Western part of the World (isn't the World round?), as Tibet will not be flushed down the mediatic toilet, like happens with Palestine, Africa or other matters more directly our concern.

But I cannot either remain silent in front of the likely atrocities that Chinese authorities are probably comitting right now in the highest country of Earth. The little information available talk of repression using "live ammunition", killed protesters and total control by the Chinese police and army right now, at least in Lhasa.

My sympathies, of course, go with the Tibetan people as with all opressed peoples of the World.

Polluting news flushed down.

It was headlines yesterday. Not main news maybe (that was for the US presidential race or some other trivia) but it was visible with picture in first e-page. Today it has vanished to the Africa section (no image no specially visible spot) and tomorrow will probably be just part of the archives.

Because it seems that a killing industrial dump in Mombasa is not important: if African people get sick from some mysterious acid dump, almost certainly arrived from some developed country, nobody cares - at least nobody who makes the decissions in the mainstream media. Can you imagine the dimension of this news would have happened in Manhattan or Rotterdam?

Africa, Black Africa specially, has been assigned a role in the globalized world: to be a provider of raw materials, a market for arms traders and a dumping site for unscrupulous companies. And the less we are aware of this international abuse, the less questions we will ask and the more content we will be with our delusory democracies.

Update: Still hidden in the depths of the mainstream media, I could read something more: the origin of the dump seems to have been at the Mombasa harbour, from where they were moved to Kalahari Village. The origin is an Ugandan mining company, KCCL, that denies all responsability. The container has been there, releasing its orangeish fumes, corroding the metal sheets of the houses, melting plastics, provoking miscarriages and generating ill health to all the community, for about a month. It contains nitric acid, which is quite toxic and corrosive. We can talk of a little Bhopal without doubt.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gaza Holocaust: forced to drink polluted water.

They have no choice: Israeli blockade has cut the provisions of chlorine to disinfect the water. Those who can't afford to buy bottled water have to drink that poison or die of dehydratation.

An affected mother described the effects:

Our kidneys and stomachs hurt, but I don't have means to buy mineral water. We are compelled to drink this water that is totally undrinkable.
Original article at Rebelión (in Spanish).

In relation with this crime and similar ones in the occupied Golan Heights, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign is promoting an international boycott to Eden Springs (an Israeli bottled water multinational, that sells in many European countries).

Keep an eye in Egypt.

The food crisis is apparently striking Egypt heavily. While the government has traditionally made sure people could buy bread at state controlled prices, being the staple food for many of its 80 million inhabitants, now soaring prices are causing corruption in the distribution chain, leaving many out of it.

Al Jazeera: Warning over world food shortages (in spite of the title half of the article deals with the Egyptian situation actually).

A couple of quotes:

"People are fighting. Killing for bread, some are even pulling out knives. What is happening? What is this? Famine?"

"I've been standing here from 7am. Its now 2pm and I can't get hold of even one loaf of bread. I have five children. What am I supposed to do? You now need to bribe someone to get bread, if you do not want to get trampled on."

Food and housing are the basics for people's lifes, amybe along with healthcare. When they get nothing of such basics, no matter how hard they struggle for them, then revolution is at the gates.

Apartment for sex?!

BBC: France's sordid housing crisis.

The price of housing in some parts of Europe is so brutally high that the latest scandal is that many French landlords are offering house for sex, more or less bluntly. And many women are being draw into accepting such humilliating conditions.

On the possitive side is the popular reaction, squatting empty buldings and actively protesting this awaful situation that can only have a socialist solution. Remember that so many historical changes in Europe have begun in France and nowadays the abusive cost of housing (and soon also of staple foods) are laying down the necessary anger for such a radical change.

Some of these organizations are listed in the BBC's article (all links in French):
- Jeudi Noir (Black Thursday)
- Droit Au Logement (Right of Housing)
- Les enfants de Don Quichote (the children of Don Quixote)

Some of these people have occupied a building in front of the French Stock Market and renamed it Ministry of Housing Crisis.

It sounds a bit to the Comitee of Public Health. Let speculators' heads begin to fall!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dolphin saves stranded whales!

It's such an unusual news: a dolphin that often plays with people at a New Zealand beach managed to persuade two stranded dwarf whales back to the sea - when both humans and whales were exhausted and about to give up.
Dolphins are so incredibly smart and sensitive. They are not "just animals" but among the most intelligent elite of animals, like ourselves.

We should guarantee them rights like those that some countries have given to great apes. I believe they are smarter than most great apes - though this may vary along species and individuals.

Arab dictatorships prosecute bloggers.

As you may know the only more or less democratic states in the Arab World are Lebanon and Palestine (though this latter less so since the West-supported coup by Al Fatah and the former also in deep crisis, again because of Western interference).

In the rest all sort of violations of Human Rights are common. And lately these dictatorships have come to an agreement to cut even further freedom of speech in satellite channels, a move only opposed by Lebanon and Qatar.

Precsely, there is an interestinga rticle in Al Jazeera reporting on arrests and harassment of Arab bloggers of different countries because of challenging the authorities.

When Neptune strikes back

In my hometown there is a monument that represents "Man defeating the Sea"

It's a monument to the engineer who designed the canalization of the Firth of Bilbao. In this detail (too large to link directly) you can see that (so typically) the Sea is Neptune, who, with his trident broken and his crown lying on the ground, resists desperately the "epic" human effort to tame him.

Naturally, as someone from the coast, I realize it's largely a myth: that the Ocean cannot be tamed nor defeated and that eventually it always strikes back, dissolving the engineering efforts of those who believe that technology can rule the World.

Yesterday and the day before Neptune stroke back. Maybe just a warning:

In Britain:

In the Basque Country:

Neptune rules. You can't fence the Sea.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pollution damages the brain.

Better late than never. But it's really late anyhow and it's a shame this had to be dug in hidden corner of the mainstream media, the BBC in this case (link to original article).

Ducth researchers have reproduced the kind of fume inhalation a traffic ward or any other urbanite, can suffer in any 30 minutes in any busy city. The result is stressed brains and a stress that does not go away until a lot after the toxic influence has been supressed (one hour for the 30 mins. experimental toxic session).

This in itself may not look too dangerous to the optimistic car-addict (i.e. almost everybody) and the study of brain diseases in humans is problematic. But another research on Mexican dogs found that those animals living in highly polluted Mexico City had large brain damage upon death, resembling the type of lesions found in humans with Alzheimer syndrome. Instead those living in rural areas had little or no such damage.

Have we finally found the source of such an epydemics of mental diseases?

When are we going to act and forbid or severely limit traffic in urban areas?

Monday, March 10, 2008

One out of three Basques disdains Spanish elections

With important political options banned and calling for abstention, the results of these elections in the Southern Basque Country should not surprise anyone: abstention has grown almost 9 points, reaching 33.35% of the citizens.

For those who did vote, the only option growing was he Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (social-democrats). The moderate nationalist parties have all lost votes, and that is also the case of the Spanish tories and left-wing bloc.

There has been important differences through the four regions that comprise the Southern Basque Country anyhow: Gipuzkoa, the most homogeneously Basque in character, registered an abstention of 41.9%, while Navarre, where the pragmatic nationalist coalition Nafarroa Bai ("Navarre Yes") has experienced an important growth, abstention has been quite more discrete (26.5%). The other two regions, Biscay and Araba, were intermediate, with 33.4% and 29.6% respectively (source).

Meanwhile, in the Northern Basque Country, the natonalist bloc Euskal Herria Bai ("Basque Country Yes") has significatively improved the results of last elections, growing importantly in nearly all cantons (source).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cartoons denounce Gaza holocaust

Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff has created and published a dozen of cartoons that denounce US-sponsored Israeli terrorism in Gaza.

- Wake from your Slumber
- Rebelión


Fair use notice: while the images are copyrighted the author stated:
I'd like to beg all viewers to spread this image anywhere, as a way to expose Israeli war crimes against Palestinians. Use it on t-shirts, posters, banners. Reproduce it in zines, papers, magazines, and make it visible everywhere.

Israeli writer calls to boycott Israel.

Voltaire Network: Interview with Aharon Shabtaï.

Just an excerpt:
You, the Europeans, you boycott the occupied people in Palestine because they voted democratically for the Hamas government; and now you are boycotting the people of Gaza and collaborating with Israel against the Palestinian people and their government!

Gaza is a ghetto, a concentration camp! At the same time you, Europeans, are celebrating Israel without any consideration of the plight of nearly four million of Palestinians who are living in a situation similar to that of the Blacks under the apartheid regime of white South Africa.

It is difficult to find the right words to express such an absurdity. The plight of the Palestinians is even much worse than the plight of the Blacks in South Africa.

The Palestinians are starved, are bombed every day, and are killed on a large scale. The situation in Gaza, under Israeli aggressive military operations, is horrific.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

From "most wanted" to freedom without bail.

The Kafkian reality we Basques live in had another twist yesterday: a young couple that figured for some weeks as most wanted ETA "terrorists" has been released without bail after a much publicited arrest.

The couple, Agurne Salterain and Oroitz Aldekoa-Otalora, are apparently accused of helping somehow a real ETA militant, Gorka Lupiañez. They had tried to hand themselves to the tribunal and were awaiting to be called by it. This "detail" was ignored by the mainstream media.

Instead the headlines described them as important "terrorists" who were part of some unclear ETA commando.

The couple has admitted to have hosted Lupiañez, a school friend of Oroitz Aldekoa, for some days, but claim that they were unaware of him being a militant.

Ref: Gara newspaper.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Valencian Country: fascists attack nationalists impunely.

Hala Bedi Irratia informs on the mediatically silenced fascist attacks against Catalan nationalists in the Valencian country. The police doesn't even appear, not to even think of making any arrest.

But that's sadly normal in the Spanish "democracy": police has even denounced people for speaking Catalan (2nd most important language of Spain and co-official in 3 autonomous communities and several municipalities of another one), not without first insulting and mocking them for that reason.

32 years later, the state murder of workers in Vitoria-Gasteiz remains impune.

Like all years since then, there's been a memorial and protest in demand of justice.

Image from Gara newspaper.

In March 3rd 1976, police squads broke into a church of the capital of Araba murdering 5 workers and injuring more than 100 that were on strike. The minister of interior and direct responsible of the massacre was then Manuel Fraga, who later founded the Spanish conservative party and eventually became the ruler of the autonomous region of Galicia (until, already senile, was displaced some years ago).

Nobody has ever been judged for this massacre.

Medvedev's birth chart

I have been searching for Dmitry Medvedev's natal chart and all I could found was a generalist noon chart. Nobody seems to have the slightest idea on what's the birth time of the new President or Russia. Astrologers, at least those writing in English, seem infinitely more concerned about Obama's ascendant (Scorpio for me) and Moon sign (Gemini, that's very clear in his face) than about anything related to Russia's new formal leader (yes, we all know that Putin is still hanging around - but doesn't make Medvedev's astrology less interesting).

Actually Medvedev's natal chart rises the same kind of incognites as Obama's: which Ascendant and which of two signs the Moon is in. As with Obama, I have (always tentatively) solved the Moon issue first: he reminds me somewhat of my father (Taurus Sun conj. Mercury and Uranus, Virgo Moon conj. Neptune), much more than to any of my Virgoan friends. He doesn't remind me of anyone with Aries Moon that I know anyhow, so I pretty much decided soon that Taurus Moon is the right choice.

But what about Ascendant? First I toyed with something close to Putin's ascendant, even if he doesn't look Scorpian at all - then figured out about Libra, Taurus... but really it doesn't seem to fit with what I know of these signs. Also I growed painfully aware that his face reminds me more and more of my own. Not just that, I just looked at the mirror and really Medvedev came to my mind. I'm more handsome probably and luckily I don't have that Mercurian pointed out nose of him but still... Part of the resemblance could due be to his Virgo stellium sitting on mine (check my chart if you wish) but I'm not really Virgoan-looking anyhow. And one trait seems decissive: his pointed (^ ^) eyebrows that would suggest Martian (or Plutonian) influence. I also have that trait even if more moderately.

So I resolved to check the Aries rising hypothesis. On first sight it doesn't look impressive: not any of the 10th or 11th house placements that one would expect of a president - but it's also true that he is a secondary figure and that his position is all but solid. So I checked the transits for his career events (that's the sort of stuff a professional astrologer would do for what is called chart correction, when the birth time is uncertain or plainly unknown). They resulted pretty well, with meaningful transits (Venus, Jupiter) through his MC/10th house at these times. I'm no professional nor I know his detailed biography, so I really can't go much further.

I fine tuned it a bit more, resulting in a stronger earth great trine involving his midheaven and (surprise!) a Mars-Pluto-based yod to his ascendant. And here is what I got:

Free Image Hosting at
Click on thumbnail to expand.

Of course I can't be sure that he has that precise ascendant, nor even Aries rising - but I am quite certain that he has marked Martian influence in it in any case.

I won't go farther comenting this hpothetical birth chart anyhow but I do welcome all sort of comments.

Also notice please I have no affiliation with this guy other than astrological coincidences - and I'm very intrigued to see how he manages that intensely innovative Virgo stellium and the opposition from Saturn. I am also intrigued on why Putin chose him as succesor when they are so different: no doubt he's an able man but that doesn't seem enough.

Call for an international boycott to Israel.

Omar Barghouti writes in Znet with the following meditation/request that I cannot but adhere to:

Going back to the question of whether anything should and could be done to stop Israel, the answer is a certain yes. South African apartheid crimes were challenged not only by the heroic struggle of the oppressed masses on the ground in South Africa; they were also fought by worldwide campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the regime, with all its complicit economic, academic, cultural, and athletic institutions. Similarly, international civil society can, and ought to, apply the same measures of non-violent justice to bring about Israel's compliance with international law and basic human rights. Even the threat of sanctions has proven effective enough in the past to halt Israel's repeated campaigns of death and devastation.
If all those images of tens of Palestinian children torn to pieces, all those recurrent episodes of wanton killing and destruction by an occupation army against a predominantly defenseless civilian population, go unpunished, the world may well witness a new Holocaust indeed.

I fully agree and I find a shame that: Israel is still member of the UN, that Israeli sport teams are allowed to participate in European and global competions, that Israel has trade agreements or even recognition by the European Union, that maybe some stuff I may be buying in the supermarket could be produced with Palestinian suffering.

Kosova: finally a Spaniard with common sense.

It had to be Carlos Taibo, a historical reference for the Antimilitarist movement. In Kosovo en los anteojos celtibéricos (Kosovo through the Celtiberian glasses, Sin Permiso) Taibo criticises equally the entrenched right as the Jacobin left for their majoritarian rejection of Kosovar independence for a number of reasons but basically because they seem to believe that estabilished states are "holy and untouchable" and because they forget the dark decade of Serbian Kosova between 1989 and 1997, that seldom if ever arises in the analysis (even if it's obviously central). Finally he says:'s extremely shocking that among the chorus of voices that reject this posibility [Kosovar independence] not one even ponders what the majority of Kosovar population thinks about it...

Certainly more than shocking knowing the Spanish undemocratic talant, it is worrying that they don't seem to be able to wake up to reality, condemning us to repeat the story of Yugoslavia in one way or another.

I remember someone who had been working as volunteer in the refugee camps in Croatia or Bosnia (not sure) who told us that a displaced young girl asked him: How many republics there are in your country? Not to confuse the kid with complicated political subtleties, he replied that 17 (the number of autonomous communities in Spain), to what the girl replied with a gesture and "uf!" meaning deep concern.

The World perplex at Colombian aggresion.

The situation is getting quite hot around Colombia after this country invaded the territory of ecuador in an anti-guerrilla operation. Both Venezuela and Ecuador has broken diplomatic ties and deployed the army at the border. While Colombia spreads rumors about ties between the FARC and its neighbours, and even uranium traffic by the guerrilla, Ecuador explains that the Colombian assault against the FARC's negotiator was a cowardly masscre, being most bodies in underwear and with shots on their backs.

The situation is hot enough for Brazil to have intervened diplomatically, trying to calm down the escalation. In Europe, France and Italy have expressed their ashtonishment and regret for the Colombian operation, obviously aimed to prevent any sort of negotiation or hostage liberation process.

International observers to watch Spanish elections.

Basque independentist politicians have suceeded in bringing to the Southern Basque Country an important delegation of international observers from Germany, Italy, Belgium (Flanders), Finland and Norway.

They have been touring these countries and meeting with politicians, human rights organizations and the media in them. In spite of being illegal in Spain they have been invited to the parliaments of Germany and Flanders.

In a side not the Galician independentist party NÓS-Unidade Popular has also called to abstention in the upcoming Spanish-wide elections.

Source: Gara.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Another Spanish undemocratic election.

It's one of these days, not sure which one - obviously I'm being forced to abstain (again).

And it's not just that an important Basque political force has been declared illegal by the Neoinquisition. It is that it doesn't matter at all. Like Che Guevara said when asked about US elections: lo mismo da que gane Juana o su hermana (it's the same if Jane or her sister wins).

Browsing the Bolivarian site Rebelión, I found (among other interesting stuff) this article that discusses the manipulation that is the Spanish electoral law, embedded in the constitution (so it's even harder to reform).

It begins recalling that the current rulers, the so-called socialists, promised almost 30 years ago to reform it. Then it quotes Herrero de Miñón, maybe the only sincere Spanish fascist (and consequently relegated from active politics long ago), on how he and others designed the system with the clear goal of making it hardest for the communist to reach any decent level of representation and favor right-wing options. The author suggests that the pseudo-socialists are keeping the law as it is precisely to be able to keep calling for the "useful vote" (vote for us: voting communist/whatever will be a waste) and keeping the bipartisan system as it is.

The electoral system is based in the province (administrative division created in the 19th century, often breaking apart larger traditional administrations, inspired in the Jacobin French departaments). These provinces do not vary much in extension but can have extremely different populations: some have more than 6 million inhabitants (1/7 of the total population of Spain), while many others only maybe 250, 150 or even as few as 90 thousand. Independently of their population they all get 2 deputies and 4 senators each. All the Senate and 29% of the Congress of Deputies are geographically divided that way. The only exceptions are the semi-autonomous municipalties of Ceuta and Melilla (colonial enclaves in Morocco) and some minor reforms to the Senate allowing for some extra senators to be appointed (not popularly elected) by the (more historical) autonomous communities.

Additionally the rest of deputies (248) are apportioned between the provinces.

Neither the Spanish system is federal nor the provinces are constituent units of the state, but rather more or less artificial centrally-designed subdivisions. Most provinces are quite rural in character and have very low population, getting only 3 deputies each (would be 1 if proportional). Of these, most belong to Castile and Aragon, the ethno-political core of Spain and overall a quite conservative region. With only some 33% of the total Spanish population, the Castile-Aragon Spanish core area (8 autonomous communities out of 17, 23 provinces out of 50) has almost half of the representation. The rural provinces (with less than 500,000 people) account for 30 out of 50 provinces (automatically almost 60% of the Senate and also close to majority in the Congress), while the urban provinces (over 1 million people) account for just 11 provinces, what is only 22% in the Senate and maybe a third of the Congress.

Some day I will work out more clearly defined figures but guess it's enough for now.

Not only the urban movements, like the communists are very disfavored, also the independentists are, as the two more active nationalist areas, Catalonia and the Basque Country are markedly urban since long ago.

You may argue that it's worse in the winner-takes-all systems like those of the USA or the UK. Maybe but still it's a Jacobin system and, worry not, the tories (post-fascists) are promising in this campaign to reform the system for worse: they would forbid all lists not reaching a minimal apportion from being represented at all in any case. Not that it would make much of a difference anyhow.

Democracy? I would laugh if I wouldn't be about to cry.

Near East in max alert as US destructor patrols nearby.

Saudi Arabia has called its denizens to leave Lebanon soon after the US warship "Cole" was posted near unstable Lebanon.

Saudians are quite privileged US allies and they probably know something. It could be a routinary warn like the one issued last month but its coincidence with the massacre in Gaza, the deployement of this US warship and the unexpected retreat of Turkey from Kurdistan after the USA commanded it (apparently) suggests that something is being plotted by the high Imperial circles.


Nabih Berri, the parliament speaker, who is aligned with the opposition, has linked the deployment of the warships to Israel's raids in the Gaza Strip.

"The target [of US warships] is Gaza. It is aimed to allow what must happen in Gaza to happen without anyone moving to support [the Palestinians]," he said.

"This is a real threat, not merely a muscle-flexing."

Berri also said that the US military move was designed to focus attention on Lebanon "in order to cover up the massacres being committed in Gaza".

"This [US] fleet comes to back Israel so that it can complete its plan," he said.
Whatever the case, it looks like the situation is really hot right now, not the less because of the Israeli impune genocide.

Growing tensions as Mars applies into Pluto opposition.

Recent and still ongoing events have unfolded with unusual violence everywhere around the world. As astrologist I checked ongoing transits and the main trigger seems quite clear: Mars is appliying again (after a retrograde period of lesser intensity) into opposition to Pluto. But now Pluto is in Capricorn.

Pluto in Capricorn means radical transformation of all sort of structures, including international borders, status quo, the economy... the last time it happened was in the late 18th century (1761-1778), between the resolution of the Seven Years' War and US independence. Both events altered radically the global status quo (the first one in favor of Britain and the second not so much), preparing the situation for the transit through Aquarius that brought even more radical changes (French Revolution specially).

But along these loooong and rare transits, there are others that happen more frequently. The opposition between Mars and Pluto will happen roughly every two years. And that's what is happening right now, with the exact aspect being next thursday:

Click on thumbnail to see the chart.

I can think it's directly related to such apparently unconnected events such as:
- Israeli massacre in Palestine.
- Deployement of a US ship near the coast of Lebanon.
- Turkish incursion in Northern Iraq - and threats of a repeat soon.
- Colombian attack against FARC guerrillas in Ecuador an Venezuelan reaction mobilizing its army at the Colombian border.
- Mass killings in Armenia protests.
- Forced deportation of Hmong refugees to Laos.
- Fascist demos in Madrid and the Basque Country, with police attacking their opponents.

And what is yet to come while this transit is active.

In the previous phase (when Mars went retrograde) it was the time of the murder of Benazir Bhutto. And I issued a personalized warning to a friend who also has planets over there to be careful.

But now the opposition is not anymore in adaptable Sagittarius-Gemini but rather in passional Capricorn-Cancer. Take cover if there is any risk, specially those with placements at the cusps of either of these signs.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Zio-Nazi holocaust continues in Gaza.

While the UN delivered words and the World watches impassible, Israel keeps murdering civilians in Gaza. The largest concentration camp of Earth is becoming now the largest Death Camp as well. Instead of zyklon-B they use bombs and bullets but the effects are the same.

And these are the intended effects, as the holocaust had been "warned" in anticipation, using that so explicit term precisely.

The Israeli army is targetting civilians:

Tariq Dardouna, a Palestinian resident trapped in his house in east Jabaliya, told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces were targeting civilians.

"The Israeli army opens fire at everything in our area, including children and houses. There are injured children bleeding inside their houses," Dardouna said.

(From Al Jazeera: "Un chief deplores Gaza assault").

Same source / You Tube: Video: "Six months old baby killed by Israeli attacks".

(From the BBC - useless disinformation otherwise, at least by the moment).

Kurds claim victory against Turkey.

Kurdish Media reports that the PKK claims victory against Turkey in the recent combats in Southern Kurdistan (Iraq). While the Turkish figures talk of 23 soldiers
(27 according to BBC) 237 peshmergas (more that 240 for the BBC) killed in the fight, the PKK claims that 130 Turkish soldiers were killed along with a downed Black Hawk helicopter, while giving no figure of their own casualties.

It is still not clear why the Turkish army retreated just after the visit of US secreatry of defense, R. Gates. My own hunches go in three possible directions:
1. That the offensive was being a disaster, as the PKK claims.
2. That the Southern Kurdish autonomous government blackmailed the USA in one way or another, maybe threatening to attack Turkish troops along with the PKK.
3. That it is related somehow to the developements in Lebanon (danger of Hezbollah takeover) and Palestine (Israeli genocidal impunity).

In any case it seems that the Middle East is becoming something too hot for the USA to handle properly.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Israel massacre dozens of civilians impunely.

Israel has killed more than 56 people in their last attack against Gaza strip, while losing two soldiers. The ministry of defense of the Zionist state claimed that most were militants but doctors' data suggests that the vast majority were civilians, including 8 children. The total of militants among the casualties varies: BBC mentions 16, while Palestinian media talks of only 11.

This massacre comes short after the defense minister of Israel threatened Gaza with a holocaust (shoa), a term almost only used in Israel to refer to the Jewish genocide under Hitler.

Acording to Palestinians the death toll could now already be as high of 100, including 25 chidren.

Meanwhile the UN Security Council has met on request of the Palestinian Authority, that requests international protection. I can only imagine that the USA will veto any resolution in this sense and that Isreali will continue ahead with its announced holocaust while the so-called democratic nations look passively. The fact that the USA sent a warship towards Lebanon recently suggests that it's trying to support Israel through brute force if necessary.

Parallel stories: police protects fascists in Spain as in the Basque Country.

Spanish fascists have been very active these last days: they organized concentrations in the popular Madrilian neighbourhood of Lavapies as in the Basque town of Lizartza. The circumstances are somewhat different but in both cases they were seen as invaders, and in both cases they counted with police protection (Spanish police in Madrid and Basque police in Lizartza).

Articles and image galleries:
- Gara: 'la Ertzaintza arremete contra ciudadanos abertzales mientras avala un acto de los ultraderecistas españoles' ("Basque Autonomous Police attacks Basque patriotic citizens while supporting an act of the Spanish far right").
- La Haine: 'A pesar de la ayuda policial, los Nazis no consiguen llevar adelante su provocación' ("In spite of police support, Nazis could not carry on with their provocation").
- La Plataforma: 'Concentración antifascista en Tirso de Molina' ("Anti-fascist concentration in Tirso de Molina square") - photo gallery.

The Basque case is particularly painful because the nazi provocation was done in support of the appointed major of the Spanish conservative party (we all know, who fed and feed the fascists, don't we?) in Lizartza. The Gipuzkoan town has a virtually unanimous independentist majority but, as result of the systematic outlawing of independentist options by Spanish special tribunals, there was no quorum for electing a town hall (all votes were "null", i.e. to the ilegalized list) and the Spanish government appointed her by decree.

A few days ago grafitti insulting Basques in general and Lizartzans in praticular, and supporting the appointed right-wing major appeared in the town. Now "Basque" police supported the nazi concentration (all arrived by bus from Spain) and attacked the citizens who protested against it.

It's really a shame and an outrage (another one) that foreign fascists can come to our country and enjoy the protection of the regional police (in theory directed by self-described as "Basque nationalists" - but of a very sheeply and corrupt kind in any case), while huge sectors of Basque citizens are forbidden to protest or vote.

The fascists have called for another demo in Gernika tomorrow. And the story will foreseably repeat.

Basque researchers create gold, silver and copper nanomagnets.

Until now all permanent magnets were made of some ferrogmagnetic material, of which the most common is iron. Other such magnetizable materials are cobalt, nickel the exotic element gadolinium, as well as some composites.

Since now, other metals, namely gold, silver and copper can also become permanent magnets and remain that way at normal temperatures.

The historical achievement is the work of three Basque researchers: Eider Goikolea Núñez (for whom this work is her PhD), José Javier Sainz Garitaonaindia and Maite Insausti Peña (leading professors), all members of the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU). Besides the three Basque researchers, academic teams of Australia and Japan have also collaborated.

The result is not new ferromagnetic materials but rather the smallest magnets ever: nanomagnetism!

- Basque research: 'Magnetic atoms of gold, silver and copper have been obtained'.
- Science Daily: 'Magnetic atoms of gold, silver and copper have been obtained'.