Wednesday, March 17, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Pogue Mahone, You Drunken Bastards.

Spanish Coverup Autopsy Man, in the last week, I've learned more about contemporary Spanish politics than I ever thought I'd know. Here's James Ridgeway's post-mortem on what seems to be a pretty clear government coverup: Aznar's Popular Party immediately began trying to pin last week's bombing on the Basque ETA, arm-twisting journalists and the diplomatic corps even though the country's intelligence agency knew almost immediately the Basques had nothing to do with it (for instance: the Basques still use dynamite when blowing things up, not explosives triggered by cell phones). We here at the MLWL have always had love for our little Basque buddies, and knew they were innocent from the start: After all, could the people who brought us jai alai ever commit such an atrocity?

Someone Needs to Show U.S. Intelligence that Ridgeway Story The Spanish government has identified six suspects in the bombings: All are Moroccan and only one, Jamal Zougam, is in custody. According to the inimitable Juan Cole, Zougam "is close to both Imad Yarkas and a Moroccan religious leader called Fizazi, who head the Salafiyah Jihadiyah organization. It is suspected in last year's bombings in Casablanca" (see? This is why I love Juan Cole. Did you know half that shit?). Zougam, Yarkas, Fizazi: Those ain't Basque names, but U.S. intelligence is still tripping. According to this CNN report, U.S. intelligence is considering the possibility that the bombings were the work of Al Qaeda and ETA together, sort of like when the Joker would team up with Lex Luthor.

US to Spain: We Don't Want Your Crappy Loser Troops Anyway! An American general and an occupation official say it "won't hurt the coalition" to lose the 1,300 Spanish troops in Iraq (nb: It's worth remembering that Zapatero isn't going to pull troops out unilaterally, but only if there's not a new UN resolution taking control of the peacekeeping effort). Other folks arent' so sure: Australia is pleading with the Spanish not to leave. This is in part because, while the military operation may not be affected, the defection of key "coalition of the willing" members could spell political doom for the occupation. Juan Cole says we should keep our eyes on Japan: Apparently Koizumi's majority depends in part on a Buddhist pacifist party that has gotten cold feet over the use of Japanese troops in Iraq.

Bush: Worse Than Reagan? Timothy Noah thinks so, and this column makes a pretty convincing case, at least in terms of how the two administrations handle information that undercuts their arguments: Reagan ignored it while Bush suppresses it. For our younger readers who may not remember, Ronald Reagan was an old man who pretended to be President many years ago when, instead of Osama Bin Laden, our arch enemy was Daniel Ortega, and hardcore bands wrote songs about politics instead of their girlfriends.

The Irish Contribution to a Healthy Diet It's Saint Patrick's Day, and as a lifelong Paddy, I would be a disgrace to my drunken ancestors if I didn't include a link to a story about the glue that holds Irish civilization together: Alcohol. Specifically, Guinness Stout. But it's not just good for drinking until you puke: According to this fascinating story, the slogan "Guinness is Good for You" may be close to the truth. Specifically, when compared with other beers, Guinness boasts "less alcohol, fewer calories, fewer carbohydrates and, to top it off, protection against heart attacks, blindness and maybe even impotence." The article notes that cardiologists actually prescribe Guinness to some patients and that a pint of the black stuff has fewer calories than a glass of orange juice. If that weren't enough, the story quotes a guy named Mick Foley who hails from Castlemaine, Co. Kerry, which just happens to be the same village that Consider Arms' great-grandparents hailed from. I'm getting misty-eyed and emotional just thinking about it: Drinking 'til you're shitfaced and the Ould Sod. If that isn't St. Patrick's Day in a nutshell, I don't know what is.

-Consider O'Arms