Soccer pics & video

First, check out the pictures of Arsenal player Eduardo's broken leg. Birmingham's Martin Taylor had a "mis-timed" tackle (studs up on Eduardo's shin) that gave Eduardo a compound fracture. Taylor was immediately red-carded. The pictures are here, but don't view them before lunch. Sky Sports decided the tackle was too horrific to replay on TV.

Taylor's coach said the tackle "is not even a yellow card."

If it weren't for that tackle and injury,k the game might have been notable for Theo Walcott's first two Premier League goals, Adebayor's really bad play, Birmingham's last-minute tying penalty, and William Gallas's fury. Highlights are here - no replays of the injury though because it wasn't allowed to be shown on TV.

Also check out this video as part of a FIFA Street 3 ad. It's below the cut.

Derrick Ashong on Barack Obama

Via Ethan Zuckerman, here are a couple videos. The first is by some random guy interviewing another random guy outside a Clinton vs. Obama debate. The second is the interviewee's (turns out to be a Ghanaian immigrant, Derrick Ashong) response on YouTube. Videos beneath the cut.

Senator Joe Biden was reportedly amazed to find a second articulate black man.

My thesis outline

Below the cut is my thesis outline, to show how I plan on analyzing the Tuareg insurgency.

  1. Introduction
    1. Scope of paper
    2. "Why care?"
      1. Main argument: Tuareg insurgency as a way of studying important factors in future conflicts, such as marginalization, environment, resources, smuggling, and “War on Terror”
      1. Secondary arguments
        1. A good case for comparing counterinsurgency strategies - usually it's very difficult to compare counterinsurgency efforts (for example Malaya vs. Vietnam) but Mali and Niger face very similar insurgencies and have different outcomes
        2. Look for evidence of qualitative shift in insurgencies (ala Kilcullen and Van Creveld)
        3. U.S. is investing lots of resources (Trans Saharan Counter Terrorism Partnership, etc.) - are they being used well?
  2. Background
    1. 1960s insurgency (historical narrative)
    2. 1990s insurgency (historical narrative
    3. Current violence
      1. Insurgents
        1. May 23 2006 D.A.C.
        2. Ibrahim Bahanga
        3. MNJ
        4. FARS
      2. Counterinsurgents
        1. Mali
        2. Niger
        3. Who's more effective?
  3. Tracing each variable 1990 - present
    1. Social and economic marginalization
    2. Environmental degradation
    3. Resource extraction
    4. Al Qaeda/Global War on Terror
    5. Role of smuggling - crime vs. war
  4. Analysis
    1. How the variables interact with each other
    2. Impact of each variable on decision to turn to violence
    3. Impact of each variable on decision to negotiate or give up violence
  5. Conclusions


It appears that even noted professors at Hahvihd with fancy vocabulary are not immune from logical errors.

Prof. Stephen Rosen is worried about Ahmadinejad's recent rhetorical escalation against Israel. He was worried that it might be a precursor to a chemical/biological weapons attack by Iran against Israel. So he checked some of his old research and found that, sure enough, when states use bio/chem weapons against their adversaries, it's preceded by dehumanization and rhetorical escalation!

In other words, he saw X and worried it might lead to Y. Sure enough, all instances of Y are preceded by X! Which of course says nothing about whether a) X causes Y, or b) whether or not there are 1000 Xs for every Y.

Ironically "silent evidence" is a key theme in Nassim Taleb's "The Black Swan", originally recommended to me by a former (current?) colleague in the Office of Net Assessment of Dr. Rosen's.

It would be interesting (and tedious and exhausting) to examine all instances of rhetorical escalation by states/armed groups, and see how often it actually leads to war crimes or the use of bio/chem weapons.

For what it's worth, I think Ahmadinejad's rhetoric is due to a) the assassination of Hezbollah's operations chief Imad Mughniyah, and b) his falling domestic approval ratings.

Bibliography on Tuareg Insurgency

I just submitted my research design for my thesis on the Tuareg rebellion. Below I've pasted my bibliography for the benefit of anyone else studying this conflict (other than interviews which I will be keeping confidential). I've separated the sources into categories: general insurgency/counterinsurgency theory, general information on the Tuareg insurgency, the environmental factor, the resource-extraction factor, economic marginalization, and the impact of the U.S. "Global War on Terrorism".

Theoretical works on Insurgency

Collier, Paul. 2000. Rebellion as a Quasi-Criminal Activity. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Economic Analysis of Conflict. Vol. 44, No. 6, December, 2000. Pages 839-853

Collier, Paul. Economic Causes of Civil Conflict and Their Implications for Policy. World Bank.. June 15, 2000.

Collier, Paul, and Anke Hoeffler. Greed and Grievance in Civil War. Oxford Economic Papers. Vol. 56, No. 4, September, 2004. Pages 563-596.

Fearon, James D., and David D. Laintin. Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War. American Political Science Review. Vol. 97, No. 1, February 2003. Pages 75-90.

Galula, David. Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958. RAND. 2006.

Kalyvas, Stathis. The Ontology of “Political Violence”: Action and Identity in Civil Wars. Perspectives on Politics. Vol. 1, No. 3, September 2003. Pages 475-494.

Kalyvas, Stathis. The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Cambridge University Press, New York, 2006.

Kilcullen, David. Counterinsurgency Redux. Survival. Vol. 48, No. 4, Winter 2006-2007. Pages 111-130.

Lawrence, T. E. The 27 Articles of T. E. Lawrence. The Arab Bulletin. August 1917.

Lawrence, T. E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. New York: Anchor, 1991.

Sepp, Kalev I. “Best Practices” in Counterinsurgency. Military Review. May-June 2005, pages 8-12.

Trinquier, Roger. Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency. Pall Mall Press, London, 1964.

General on Tuareg Insurgency

Accord D'Alger Pour La Restauration de la Paix, de la Securite et du Developpement dans la Region de Kidal. July 2006 peace accords between Mali and the May 23, 2006 Democratic Alliance for Change.

Alliance Touaregue Niger-Mali. Blog of the ATNM. Updated infrequently.

Bush, Ray, and Jeremy Keenan. North Africa: Power, Politics & Promise. ROAPE. 33/108, 175-184.

Giuffrida, Alessandra. Clerics, Rebels and Refugees: Mobility Strategies and Networks among the Kel Antessar. Journal of North African Studies. 10/3, September 2005.

Humphreys, Macartan, and Habaye Ag Mohamed. Senegal and Mali. Understanding Civil War, Paul Collier and Nicholas Sambanis, eds. World Bank, 2005.

Keenan, Jeremy. The Lesser Gods of the Sahara: Social Change and Indigenous Rights. Routledge, 2004.

Keenan, Jeremy. Tuareg take up arms. ROAPE. Vol. 33, Is. 108, 325-368.

Keita, Kalifa. Conflict and Conflict Resolution in the Sahel: The Tuareg Insurgency in Mali. Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army. May 1, 1998.

Lecocq, Baz. That Desert is Our Country:Tuareg Rebellions and Competing Nationalism in Contemporary Mali (1946-1996). Unpublished PhD thesis, Amsterdam University, 2002.

Lecocq, Baz. This Country is Your Country: Territory, Borders, and Decentralisation in Tuareg Politics. Itinerario. 27/1, 2003, 58-78.

Mouvement des Nigeriens pour la Justice. Blog of the MNJ rebel movement. Updated regularly.

Niger: Extrajudicial Executions and Population Displacement in the North of the Country. Amnesty International. December 19, 2007.

Rasmussen, Susan J. The Tuareg. Endangered Peoples of Africa & the Middle East. Hitchcock & Osborn, ed., 2002.

Seely, Jennifer C. A political analysis of decentralisation: coopting the Tuareg threat in Mali. Journal of Modern African Studies, 39/3, 2001.

Weinberg, Bill. Voice of the Tuareg Resistance. World War 4 Report. December 1, 2007. Online at

Reuters, Voice Of America, La Republicain (Niger), Info-Matin (Mali) and L'Essor (Mali) will be my sources for government statements from Mali and Niger and other current news.


Brooks, Nick, and Isabelle Chiapello, Savino Di Lernia, Nick Drake, Michel Legrand, Cyril Moulin and Joseph Prospero. The Climate-Environment-Society Nexus in the Sahara from Prehistoric Times to the Presnt Day. The Journal of North African Studies. Vol. 10, No. 3, September 2005. Pages 253-292.

Brown, Oli, and Anne Hammill and Robert McLeman. Climate change as the 'new' security threat: implications for Africa. International Affairs. Vol. 83, No. 6, 2007. Pages 1141-1154.

Hershkowitz, Ann. The Tuareg in Mali and Niger: The Role of Desertification in Violent Conflict. ICE Case Studies. No. 151, August 2005. Available at

Hirshleifer, Jack. The Bioeconomic Causes of War. Managerial and Decision Economics. Vol. 19, No. 7/8, Management, Organization and Human Nature, November 1998. Pages 457-466.

McConnell, Tristan. How Tuaregs, Hausas are Avoiding Another Darfur. Christian Science Monitor. October 3, 2007.

Pedersen, Jon, and Tor A. Benjaminsen. One Leg or Two? Food Security and Pastoralism in the Northern Sahel. Human Ecology. Vol. 36, Is. 1, February 2008, pages 43-57.

Trench, Pippa, and John Rowley, Marthe Diarra, Fernand Sano, and Boubacar Keita. Beyond Any Drought: Root causes of chronic vulnerability in the Sahel. Sahel Working Group. June 2007.

I'm still looking for a good data set for environmental data in the Sahara/Sahel region.

Uranium and the Rentier State

Addison, Tony, and Philippe Le Billon, and S. Mansoob Murshed. Conflict in Africa: The Cost of Peaceflu Behaviour. Journal of African Economies. Vol. 11, No. 3. Pages 365-386.

ag Maha, Issouf. Interview, Paris, November 22, 2007. (Issouf Ag Maha is the mayor of Tchirozerine in Niger, and is linked with the MNJ.) Video at

ag Maha, Issouf. Bravo for France, congratulatory [sic] for Areva, it's a pity for Tuaregs. November 30, 2007. Online at

Barnes, Sandra. Global Flows: Terror, Oil & Strategic Philanthropy. Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE), 32/104, 235-252.

Corbier, Laurent. AREVA in Niger. AREVA Press Release. August 7, 2007.

Herbst, Jeffrey. Economic Incentives, Natural Resrouces and Conflict in Africa. Journal of African Economies. Vol. 9, No. 3. Pages 270-294.

Stratfor. Niger: Rebels, Resources and the Niger Delta Parallel. July 11, 2007.

Stratfor. Niger: The Tuaregs and Uranium Wealth. January 22, 2008.

Stratfor. Mali: Rising Tensions and Interest in the Sahel. September 13, 2007.

Economic Marginialization (almost all general articles contain info on marginalization)

Bergeret, Yves. School, the Tuaregs' New Weapon. The Unesco Courier, October 2000.

Mazzitelli, Antonio L. Transnational organized crime in West Africa; the additional challenge. International Affairs, 83/6, 2007.

Al Qaeda/GWoT

Abramovici, Pierre. United States: the new scramble for Africa. Le Monde diplomatique. July 2004. At:

Archer, Toby, and Tihomir Popovic. The Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative: The US War on Terrorism in North Africa. Finnish Institute of International Affairs. 2007.

Barth, Mustafa. Sand Castles in the Sahara: US Military Basing in Algeria. ROAPE. 30/98, 679-685.

Berschinski, Robert G. AFRICOM's Dilemma: The “Global War on Terrorism,” “Capacity Buliding,” Humanitarianism, and the future of U.S. security policy in Africa. Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army, November 2007.

Burton, Fred and Scott Stewart. Tablighi Jamaat: An Indirect Line to Terrorism. Stratfor. January 23, 2008.

Gutelius, David. Islam in Northern Mali and the War on Terror. Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 25/1 January 2007.

Gutelius, David. War on Terror and Social Networks in Mali. ISIM Review, Spring 2006.

Hunt, Emily. Islamist Terrorism in Northwestern Africa: A 'Thorn in the Neck' of the United States? The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Policy Focus #65, February 2007.

International Crisis Group. Islamist Terrorism in the Sahel: Fact or Fiction? Africa Report No. 92, March 31st 2005.

Jebnoun, Noureddine. Is the Maghreb the “Next Afghanistan:?: Mapping the Radicalization of the Algerian Salafi Jihadist Movement. Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown, 2007.

Jourde, Cedric. Constructing Representations of the Global War on Terror in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 25/1, January 2007.

Kaplan, Robert. America's African Rifles. The Atlantic Monthly. April 2005.

Keenan, Jeremy. Americans & 'bad people' in the Sahara-Sahel. Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE). Vol. 31, Is. 99, March 2004, 125-164.

Keenan, Jeremy. Political Destabilisation and 'Blowback' in the Sahel. ROAPE. Vol. 31, Is. 102, 691-698.

Keenan, Jeremy. Famine in Niger is not all that it seems. ROAPE. Vol. 32, Is. 104, 395-477.

Keenan, Jeremy. Terror in the Sahara: The Impliactions of US Imperialism for North & West Africa. ROAPE. Vol. 33, Is. 101, 475-496.

Keenan, Jeremy. Security & Insecurity in North Africa. ROAPE. Vol. 33, Is. 108, pp. 269-296.

Keenan, Jeremy. Military bases, construction contracts, & Hydrocarbons in North Africa. ROAPE. Vol. 33, Is. 109, 577-614.

Keenan, Jeremy. US Silence as Sahara Military Base Gathers Dust. ROAPE. Vol. 34, Is. 113, 588-590.

Keenan, Jeremy. The Collapse of the Second Front. Foreign Policy in Focus. September 26, 2006. Online at

Keenan, Jeremy. Conspiracy theories and 'terrorists': How the 'war on terror' is placing new responsibilities on anthropology. Anthropology Today, Vol. 22, Is. 6, December 2006, 4-9.

Keenan, Jeremy. The Banana Theory of Terrorism: Alternative Truths and the Collapse of the 'Second' (Saharan) Front in the War on Terror. Journal of Contemporary African Studies. Vol. 25, No. 1, Jan 2007, 31-58.

Keenan, Jeremy. My country right or wrong. Anthropology Today. Vol. 23, Is. 1, February 2007 , 26-27.

Khatchadourian, Raffi. Pursuing Terrorists in the Great Desert: The U.S. Military's $500 Million Gamble to Prevent the Next Afghanistan. The Village Voice. January 31st, 2006.

Lecocq, Baz, and Paul Schrijver. The War on Terror in a Haze of Dust: Potholes and Pitfalls on the Saharan Front. Journal of Contempotrary African Studies. 25/1, January 2007.

Le Sage, Andre. African Counterterrorism Cooperation: Assessing Regional and Subregional Initiatives. Potomac Books Inc., 2007.

Mellah, Salima, and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire. El Para, the Maghreb's Bin Laden. Le Monde diplomatique. February 2005.

Secrets in the Sand. BBC Radio program. August 8th, 2005.

Tattersall, Nick. Tuareg rebels in southern Sahara no Islamist threat. Reuters. September 23, 2007.

Also, U.S. involvement in Niger and Mali has received coverage in a lot of Stars & Stripes articles that I'll use (although searches for “Tuareg” and “Touareg” get zero hits).

Have fun reading!


After witnessing the recent marriage proposal and acceptance on I Can Has Cheezburger, I realized that lolcats can NEVER be taken too far. I was also inspired by Abu Muqawama's lolhamas pictures (more here). With no further ado, I give you the result of collaboration between Flanders and I, loltraders!

What is "The Vix"

Adrian was curious so I wrote an entry on it.
What is the VIX?

"VIX is the ticker symbol for the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, a popular measure of the implied volatility of S&P 500 index options. Referred to by some as the fear index, it represents one measure of the market's expectation of volatility over the next 30 day period." Thank you wikipedia.

I am one of those who refer to it as the "fear index." Simply put, the higher the VIX (the more volatility) the more fear is out there. So why is the VIX useful to us? It is a good predictor of market bottoms. A typical VIX reading is somewhere between 10 and 30. A VIX reading of 30 or higher denotes a significant amount of fear out in the market. Some interesting things to note. The absolute bottom of the 2000-2002 bear market had a VIX reading of 50. Short term corrections during the bull market from 2002-2007 had VIX readings in the high/mid 30's. The VIX briefly touched 37 during the recent January 22nd, 2008 bottom. In the market crash of 1987, the VIX hit a reading of above 100.

So when the VIX jumps up, why is that likely signalling a bottom? Basically, if there is a lot of fear, it means people are panic selling. All these "weak holders" are chased out of their stocks and once they all sell prices will no longer continue to be pushed down and can start going up again. Another way of saying panic selling is capitulation. Until the market under goes capitulation, we cannot hit a true bottom because many stock holders are eager to get out and every time prices come up a little bit, they will sell and knock the prices back down. When the VIX hits 50+ all those people who were looking to sell on any bounce will have unloaded all of their stocks out of fear of lower prices, so stocks can finally begin going up again.

Why do I think this is not the "true" bottom for the stock market? A number of reasons.

1. The VIX only hit 37. While that is a high reading, we have had a 5 year bull market and there has been a lot of speculative excess, just look at the turmoil in the credit markets. The idea that a 5 year bull market can just take a 3 month breather, hit bottom and resume its run is a little far fetched. The average bull market lasts 3 years and the average bear lasts 1 year.

2. TV commentators (most notably Cramer) are calling this the "bottom."

3. When stocks have been selling off, its on big volume, when stocks go up its on light volume. That is not the sign of a healthy, bull market. Its the sign of a bear market. Every attempted rally since the Jan 22nd low has been sold off into on higher volume than the rally.

4. Investors Intelligence Survey did not have a "cross"(a cross is when more people surveyed report being bears instead of being bulls), bulls still outnumber bears.

5. Put/Call Ratio, similar to the VIX, when it reads over 2.0 it tends to mark bottoms. The reading was not close to this.

6. Friends of mine are buying Apple. Nothing screams "This is not a bottom" when you have amateurs buying up former market leaders at "bargain" prices.

7. The short interest is DECREASING.(short interest is the number of shares sold short ie. people who sell shares short are betting that prices will decline further. If there are fewer shares sold short it means people are taking those bets off the table.) I find this very interesting. Basically, in the last couple weeks the numbers of shares that have been sold short has dropped. This means shorts have been BUYING BACK their shares. Now is this a bullish or bearish sign? An absolutely bearish sign. All these low volume rallies have probably been due to shorts buying back their shares and all the high volume sell offs have been due to people dumping their positions. Guess what happens when all the shorts who wanted to buy back their shares have done so.

8. At market bottoms you tend to have huge short interest. These short sellers help fuel the rally off the lows because they are forced to buy back their shares due to fear of losses. Like I just mentioned, this is not the case.

Intel and Counter-Terrorism

Since quitting my job in December, I've been able to go to more talks and events during the day. I went to a couple talks at Georgetown this past week on intelligence and counterterrorism. Below are some of my takeaways.

The first talk was by Michael Leiter, Acting Director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC). Although a friend and I spent most of his talk trying to figure out what audience he thought he was addressing (retirement home? Community library? We finally settled on girl scout troupe), the Q&A session got more interesting and in depth. A couple gems of information:
  • NCTC has (barely) more actual employees than contractors (450 vs. 400), something Leiter is rather proud of and justifiably so, given the ratio in other parts of the intel community (CIFA is over 70% contractors).
  • The information flow from top down (that is to say, from DNI or DHS down to local cops) is OK, it is much more difficult for information to flow up, from local cops/intel shops up to the feds. I interpret this to mean that they've managed to solve the classification troubles where locals weren't cleared to view the information sent to them, but have yet to solve the problem of useless intel being sent up the chain of command.
  • Leiter feels that having law enforcement and intelligence powers in the same organization is a good thing. Bill Odom feels the opposite - in his book Fixing Intelligence, Gen. Odom argues that you can't have cops and intelligence in the same organization due to culture clashes. i.e., when you find bad guys, do you arrest them once you have enough evidence for prosecution, or do you run counterintelligence ops, feed them disinformation, and roll up the cell later?
  • NCTC is apparently the coordinator for the anti-terrorism part of U.S. strategic communications/public diplomacy. I didn't get to ask him my question of how he thinks Smith-Mundt applies to NCTC (sorry Matt). But they apparently have a whole 15 analysts working on the subject, including one guy named Quintin* who Leiter went on and on about.
The second talk was by Michael Sheehan, author of the forthcoming "Crush the Cell: How to Defeat Terrorism Without Terrorizing Ourselves." This was an excellent talk. He focused on stuff like oversight, the bureaucratic politics between DHS, FBI, and NYPD, intelligence lisaison, and other interesting stuff.
Sheehan spent a little time talking about what he called the "Maginot Line" of counterterrorism - stuff like scanning incoming shipping containers for radiation, trying to catch terrorists at border crossings, etc. Sheehan feels the centers of gravity for counterterrorism operations need to be basic intelligence tradecraft, police work, and eliminating the hype so people feel comfortable getting on with life after a terrorist attack. He noted that the Brits were taking the subway in London three hours after the 7/7 attacks, and that Israelis go back to the mall the day after it was hit. This of course requires that uninformed speculation be kept to a minimum.

Update: I believe "Quintin" at NCTC is Quintan Wiktorowicz. I stumbled across an article in the International Review of Social History on using popular intellectuals as a "point of contention" in framing contests in fighting Al Qaeda.

Quintan Wiktorowicz. Framing Jihad: Intramovement Framing Contests and al-Qaeda's Struggle for Sacred Authority. International Review of Social History, Volume 49, Supplement S12, December 2004, pp 159-177.

Washington Post editorial

Washington Post's "Good Sense on Iraq"
The progress since last summer has been remarkable.'s worth asking why Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton remain so unwilling to alter their outdated and dogmatic views about the war.
Contrast with:
What with this and the Anbar Salvation Council threatening to take up arms against the elected council and refusing to fly the new Iraqi flag and dismissing the entire Parliament as illegitimate and Awakenings leaders declaring that no Iraqi police are allowed in their territory and clashing with them when they do and blaming Shi'ite militias (and not al-Qaeda) for the wave of attacks against them and fighting over territory and threatening to quit if they aren't paid, it really is hard to see why anybody would think that there might be anything troublesome about the relationship between the Awakenings and the Iraqi "state". Nothing to see here but great big gobs of victory folks, please move along.
One has a track record of good analysis, and the other has a large audience. The Washington Post editorial board (aka Fred Hiatt) is disconnected from reality. I'm pretty sure that if we had just listened to Fred Hiatt and the Washington Post for the last 6 years, and then done the opposite, it'd be like hitting the easy button and freedom would be on the march. It's ironic that, at the very moment that Fred Hiatt is labeling Obama and Clinton's policy views "outdated", McClatchy runs a story on the failure of the policy that Hiatt champions.

Violence in Iraq is increasing, because the groups that had allied with us (CLCs and tribal Awakening groups) finally got fed up with the lack of political benefits. They decided, why be allied with Americans if the Shi'a still kill us? We were unable to answer the question Marc Lynch had been asking for over a year, about how to integrate our local Sunni allies with the Shi'a government.

McCain for President, cuz he's CRAZY!

Via Democracy Arsenal, Max Boot has an op-ed in the LA Times:
President Bush has not done enough to back up his threats against Iran and Syria... part of a larger trend of Bush combining strong words with weak actions....

It is hard to see how Bush could reverse this decline in America's "fear factor" during the remaining year of his presidency. That will be the job of the next president. And who would be the most up to the task?

To answer that question, ask yourself which presidential candidate an Ahmadinejad, Assad or Kim would fear the most. I submit it is not Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or Mike Huckabee... Ironically, John McCain's bellicose aura could allow us to achieve more of our objectives peacefully because other countries would be more afraid to mess with him than with most other potential occupants of the Oval Office -- or the current one.
This has a little grounding in history. For instance, Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba in part because he thought he could get away with it, because JFK was weak and inexperienced. However this seems pretty remote from the current situation, given the over-reliance on the military in our foreign policy, a good deal of which is structural/institutional, and thus not dependent on the President's personality.

But if we want to elect McCain solely because he's trigger-happy and a little unbalanced, why stop at McCain? I say we resurrect Curtis LeMay from the dead and elect him. He's only slightly older than McCain anyway, and he surely would scare the rest of the world (seeing as they are insufficiently scared of our brilliant military policy in Iraq and Afghanistan).

An addendum - I find it ironic that the "crazy" candidate is publicly anti-torture, while the "reasonable" one, supported by Wall Street Republicans, wanted to double Gitmo.

Africa Cup of Nations, final result

Congratulations to Egypt for retaining their championship of Africa! Rigobert Song should be getting plenty of gifts from Egypt for presenting Mohamed Aboutreika with the winning goal. Highlights are here.

I was wrong about Ghana vs. Cote D'Ivoire being the final, but I was right that it would be a great game. The third place game was a six goal thriller. Highlights are below the cut.

My thoughts on the remaining candidates for 2008

Seems like CPAC every year lowers the political discourse into cheap name-calling, etc. Last year it was with a predictable Ann Coulter moment, this year with Mitt Romney's reprehensible "Democrats want to surrender to terrorists" concession speech (as usual Jon Stewart gives the best response). Here are my thoughts on the remaining candidates:

Barack Obama
  • Pros: huge upside with his potential to rally the country around him and get new people involved in politics (which will come in handy during the coming recession and exit from Iraq). Good tech policy.
  • Cons: so hyped that an Obama presidency would probably be a big disappointment no matter how successful he actually is. Poor health care plan. Inexperienced.
Hillary Clinton
  • Pros: good health care plan. Smart and experienced. Two for one deal with Bill Clinton.
  • Cons: half the country has an irrational hatred for her. Tries to pass stupid restrictions on video games. Political dynasties are bad (1981-2013 with either a Bush or Clinton in the White House).
John McCain:
  • Pros: his nomination/election might see the implosion of the Republican party. Experienced. Surprisingly sane by the standards of today's GOP.
  • Cons: trigger happy. Old. Opposes torture and suspension of habeus corpus, but caved in to Bush on the Military Commissions Act by allowing the President to define torture and exclude who retains their habeus corpus rights (rendering the Act meaningless).
Mike Huckabee:
  • hahahahahaha.
I voted via absentee ballot in Massachusetts for John Edwards primarily because of his anti-poverty platform, his health-care plan, and other domestic policy stuff. Unfortunately Edwards withdrew before my vote was counted. If I could re-vote, I'd probably vote for Obama. It's unfair to Hillary that two of my primary reasons against her are out of her control (media coverage/irrational hatred, and dynasty), but life isn't fair and no-one's entitled to the Presidency.

The biggest surprise? That I agree with TDAXP!

Chris Matthews & Hillary Clinton

That liberal media.


Big surprises in the Africa Cup of Nations

Well we will get our Ghana-Cote D'Ivoire matchup, but it will be in the third-place game, not the final! Egypt beat Cote D'Ivoire and Ghana lost to Cameroon, so Egypt v. Cameroon will be the final on Sunday. Ghana was without their captain, center-back John Mensah. In the first round, Egypt beat Cameroon 4-2. Below are video highlights from the two semifinals today, as well as the Egypt-Cameroon game from the first round.

(goal scored by former Colorado Rapids player Alain Nkong.)

Don't buy a Stratfor subscription... least if you are looking to them for insight to U.S. domestic politics. By Stratfor terms of use I'm forbidden to reproduce any of their briefs, or in this case, their "Geopolitical Diary", but in looking at the 2008 elections, they discount Obama without much of a thought because his middle name is Hussein. Previously I thought this was the stuff of low-budget right-wing hack radio, but now I know you can pay $350 a year for this rubbish!

An Iraqi information campaign

Abu Muqawama(AM), Kip (a new blogger at AM's site) and Matt are all up in arms over the U.S.'s inability to put together any sort of effective information campaign to support military operations. AM is cheered by the fact that the Pentagon has figured out that they should publicize the fact that Al Qaeda are nasty folks but simply rebroadcasting Al Qaeda's own videos isn't good enough. The Pentagon should instead pay attention to what the folks at are doing, with videos like this:
(Warning - graphic video)

The terrorist repeatedly asks the kidnapped man (who's name is Tareq) "Are you Sunni or Shi'ite?" Tareq finally answers "Iraqi", and is killed. I think the text then says "Executed - sedition is worse than killing" (apparently a Koranic verse), with the final text saying "Terrorism has no religion." (Translation from Inside Iraq.)

They also have other videos as well as posters here (Arabic).

Dos a dos

The traditional cheer for U.S. soccer fans against Mexico is "dos a zero", the score by which we knocked them out of the World Cup in 2002. The U.S. played Mexico last night in Houston in a "friendly" that saw U.S. keeper Tim Howard put Mexican forward Antonio Di Nigris in a headlock. The final score was a two-two tie, although Clint Dempsey scored a great goal that was wrongly disallowed that would have made it 3-1 USA. 18-year old Jozy Altidore scored on his first start for the US. Both Mexican goals were scored on freekicks from the same position, crosses to Johnny Magallon, beating Drew Moor. I think he's failed his national team test. After the game, an ESPN reporter interviewed Magllon in a mixture of Spanglish - that was pretty amusing as a non-Spanish speaker.

Here are the highlights.

Africa Cup of Nations, Semi finals

The two matches are Egypt vs. Cote D'Ivoire, which is a rematch of the 2006 final, and Ghana vs. Cameroon, who each have won the tournament four times. As I've said before I think the final will be Ghana vs. Cote D'Ivoire. Here are links to the highlights from the quarterfinals:

Egypt vs. Angola

Ghana vs. Nigeria (10 man Ghana come from behind to win)

Cameroon vs. Tunisia (in overtime!)

And I have to post the highlights of Cote D'Ivoire demolishing Guinea:

National Ethnic Joke Week

No, not in America, but apparently in Niger, ethnic jokes are a way to keep the tension down during a time of potential civil war. From AFP:
In Niger, a centuries-old custom that allows people to make jokes at the expense of their "cousins" from other tribes, far from exacerbating ethnic tensions, actually has a calming effect on them.
Under the accepted "rules", the person targeted has to put a brave face on things and anyone who loses his temper or gets upset when "attacked" becomes a laughing stock within his own community, Ali Bida said.
But in a time of heightened tension caused by a Tuareg rebellion in the north, some people in Niger find the practice increasingly difficult.
Sidi, a Tuareg living in Niamey says he is sick and tired of hearing his Djerma "cousins" call him a "bandit" and tease him about planting anti-personnel mines.
In April, Niger authorities even plan to organise a "National Week of Ethnic Jokes" with radio programmes, conferences, joke competitions and cultural evenings.
Being of Scandinavian heritage, we have jokes where we make fun of ourselves, playing off the stereotype of cheap, hardworking, dumb and romantically inept Norwegians/Swedes. They make the occasional appearance on Prairie Home Companion. Here are a couple:

Vun day, Sven vas valking down da street ven who did he see driving a brand new Chevrolet? It vas Ole. Ole pulled up to him vit a vide smile.
"Ole, vere did ya get dat car?" Sven asked.
"Lena gave it to me".
"She gave it to you? I knew she vas sveet on you, but dis?".
"Vell, let me tell you vat happened. Ve vere driving out on county road 6, in da middle of novere. Lena pulled off da road into da woods. She parked, got out of da car, trew off alla her clothes and said, "Ole take vatever you vant."...So I took da car"
"Ole, your a smart man, dem clothes never voulda fit ya."

Sven was just pulling his boat up on shore when Ole wandered up with a puzzlement:
Ole: Sven! Vat cho been doin?
Sven: I bin fishin, Ole. Wha cho tink I bin doin with dese here rods?
Ole: Ditcha catch anythin?
Sven: (Under his breath: "Dumb svede.") Of course I catch somethin. Sven alvays catches ven he fishes.
Ole: If I guess how many you catch will you gimme one o' dem?
Sven: If you guesses how many I catch I'll give you BOTH a dem!
Ole: I guess TREE!
Sven: Dat ain't bad for a Svede. You only missed it by TWO!

Watch Messi

Despite Lionel Messi missing a penalty kick, he still had an incredible game against Villareal. Watch the highlights - most of the clip is Messi running through 5 or 6 defenders at will.

Tuareg rebels threaten Nigerien uranium, cities

This story was picked up by Reuters and Thomson. Rhissa Ag Boula, leader of the MNJ, has issued a direct threat to Areva and other companies trying to exploit Niger's uranium. The Nigerien economy, being heavily dependent on uranium, is thus hostage to the MNJ - "You can't exploit uranium without us" according to Ag Boula.

Also interesting is that the MNJ, which is a rural insurgency, based in the desert, has now threatened to occupy Nigerien cities such as Arlit, close to the uranium mines, and Agadez, the regional capital. It will be interesting to see whether a largely rural insurgency can make the transition to urban warfare.