Saturday, June 26, 2010


A wonderful NYT profile of Reykjavik’s new mayor, who is a comedian:
Last month, in the depressed aftermath of the country’s financial collapse, the Best Party emerged as the biggest winner in Reykjavik’s elections, with 34.7 percent of the vote, and Mr. Gnarr — who also promised a classroom of kindergartners he would build a Disneyland at the airport — is now the fourth mayor in four years of a city that is home to more than a third of the island’s 320,000 people.

In his acceptance speech he tried to calm the fears of the other 65.3 percent. “No one has to be afraid of the Best Party,” he said, “because it is the best party. If it wasn’t, it would be called the Worst Party or the Bad Party. We would never work with a party like that.”

Why does A.A. work?

The carried interest loophole, sadly, lives. Clearly the only way to balance the budget is on the backs of the poor.

Violence in Mexico is deterring universities from scheduling trips to Mexico; meanwhile, this program (which canceled its program due to lack of interest) has this brilliant piece of advertising:
It is not hard to understand why few students signed up for the Ciudad Juárez program, which is intended to highlight issues like immigration and trade. The promotional material for the program, in the interest of full disclosure, noted, “Currently Ciudad Juárez is under a virtual state of siege.”
Way to sell guys! Always be closing!

English isn’t uniquely positioned to take over the world.

B.P. has decided to ignore any fraudulent claims on its money.

Iran is about to strike a deal with Gazprom. Glad to see the whole “isolate Iran economically and politically” thing is working out.

Blood diamonds are back:
Born at a time of great bloodshed on the African continent, the 75-nation Kimberley Process was initially lauded for its commitment to human rights. Rebel movements had seized control of diamond regions in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo and used the gems to finance marauding guerrilla armies. Facing a public-relations nightmare, world diamond companies agreed to buy rough stones only if they are certified by internationally recognized governments. The Kimberley Process says well over 99% of the world's rough-diamond trade is now "conflict-free."

But critics say there's a big loophole in that definition: It doesn't take into account human-rights abuses in diamond territory controlled by governments themselves. "The Kimberley Process cut the financial lifeline of rebels, but at the same time it gave legitimacy to corrupt governments that abuse their own people," says Rafael Marques, a human-rights activist who has worked extensively in northeastern Angola.

Searching for North Korean fans at the World Cup. Some new details, like this:
And maybe rent-a-fans would be better than the real ones. In a 2005 World Cup qualifying loss to Iran, North Korean fans threw rocks and bottles at the Syrian referee, a shocking display of public disorder in such a tightly-controlled country. A subsequent "home" game for North Korea against Japan had to be moved to Bangkok, where the two teams played before an empty stadium closed to public view.

David Cameron announces there’ll be no British withdrawal from Afghanistan before 2015. So I guess we can regard the Emanuel/Biden promise of July 2011 as B.S.?

Chinese manufacturers are moving because of the wage demands of coastal workers.

Top ten movies that should’ve been made and thankfully weren’t.

How do counterinsurgencies end?

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