Shazam! Sunday News Roundup: May 25, 2008

 Captain Marvel

Top Story! – Turkey: “Common Ground” Found In Israel-Syria Talks

A common ground was reached in Israel and Syria talks that were held in Istanbul during the week and the indirect talks between the two countries would continue, the Turkish foreign minister said on Thursday…[click here for more]

Environmental News – EU Agrees To Outlaw “Green Crimes”

After eight years of negotiation, the European Parliament has reached an agreement with member states on legislation that will force national governments to apply criminal sanctions to those causing deliberate or negligent damage to the environment…[click here for more]

U.S. Politics News – Senate Race in Minnesota Shows Power Of Bloggers

On a laptop at a kitchen table in this cheery Twin Cities suburb, headlines ripping into Al Franken, the satirist whose campaign for the United States Senate is seen as one of the most competitive in the nation, are written up day after day for Minnesota Democrats Exposed, a political blog created by a former Republican Party researcher…[click here for more]

Asia News – Burma “Still Uses Child Soldiers”

Burma has been named as the most persistent user of child soldiers, with thousands in its armed forces – some as young as 11, a human rights group says…[click here for more

Business News – Fund Manager Is To Refinance Stalled Auction-Rate Notes

Nuveen Investments, the largest American manager of closed-end funds, said on Wednesday that it had a commitment for up to $1.75 billion in liquidity support to help refinance the troubled auction-rate preferred shares its funds once issued.  But the funds are now struggling. Most of them use leverage to enhance returns, and many of them borrowed that leverage in the auction-rate market, which is now effectively in liquidation…[click here for more]

Sports News – Big Brown Has Hoof Injury, Still Expected To Race

Big Brown’s perfect path has its first bump.  The unbeaten Triple Crown contender has a slight crack on his left front hoof, although trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. was confident the injury won’t keep his colt from running in the Belmont Stakes in less than two weeks…[click here for more]

The King Of Spain Cuts A Promo On Hugo Chávez

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

I think we can all agree that, generally speaking, assemblies of world governments are mostly useless.  The U.N., for example, is a corrupt, impotent body that long ago abdicated its responsibility to protect and strengthen all the countries of the world.  It had no credible role in the march to war in Iraq, and its Security Council is hostage to Russia and China on the issue of Iran.  On the matter of North Korea, the tipping point that brought Kim Jong-Il back to the bargaining table was not U.N. pressure, but America and its allies freezing key North Korean bank accounts.  For another example, the Doha round of trade talks has been stalled, re-started, and stalled more times by squabbling and obstinance than is advisable to try and recall.

Since it’s highly unlikely that anything of substance or consequence will ever come from one of these august assemblies, I think it’s high time that the individuals involved stop standing on ceremony, stop being diplomatic, throw Robert’s Rules of Order out the window, and just strip international politics down to its bare essence: people that don’t like each other, enjoy saying so, and who would jump at the chance to superkick their continental neighbors right in the mush.  So in that spirit, All Things In Their Place would like to commend His Majesty King Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias of Spain for cutting a five-star promo on Hew-go Chávez’s faux-populist ass.

king-juan-carlos-i.jpg macho-king-randy-savage.jpg

Two different kings, cut from the same royal cloth

Things got x-treme this weekend at the Ibero-American Summit, when Hew-go teed off on Spain’s Jose Maria Aznar, the former prime minister who Chávez believes backed a 2002 coup which put the chubby dictator out on his ass for a little while.  In an address to the attending leaders, Hew-go kept calling Aznar a “fascist,” prompting Aznar’s tag-team partner, current prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, to use his address to tell Chávez to pipe down.  Chávez continued to interrupt Zapatero’s remarks, leaving the assembled throng in suspense. 

Would the Venezuelan Asshat continue his assault on Aznar?  Would Aznar and Zapatero overwhelm their pugnacious, loquacious opponent and finish him off on the summit floor with their feared finishing move, The Big Siesta?  The crowd was on the edge of their seats when, unexpectedly, King Juan Carlos FROM OUT OF NOWHERE!!! performed the greatest run-in in the history of international politics.  The King, seated next to Zapatero, turned to Hew-go and angrily said ¿Por qué no te callas?  Which translates to Know your role and shut your mouth you little jabroni Why don’t you shut up?”  Obviously, this turned the tide in favor of The Seething Spainiards and Aznar was able to take advantage of a stunned Chávez, rolling him up for the three-count.  It remains to be seen if Hew-go will honor the terms of the match and wear a dress and a blonde wig to next year’s Ibero-American gathering.

Now that’s a summit!  I’m not aware of any negative consequences that resulted from the royal smackdown, so I’m proposing that all international summits from now on be chaired by Vince McMahon.  And for all of you out there planning on making a fortune bringing next year’s Ibero-American summit to Pay-Per-View, don’t bother, I already locked it up.  You wanna see the rematch, you gotta go through me.

Chávez, You’re Doing A Heck Of A Job, Part 2

From The Economist:

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Man, that Hugo Chávez really has the Venezuelan economy firing on all cylinders!  Among 178 countries, it’s second to dead last in terms of how long it takes to start a business!  Second to dead last!  That’s like winning the silver medal in Freestyle Sucking!  (But hey, no one should be surprised – the Venezuelan bureaucracy has many layers, and it takes a long time to bribe all of them.)  The only country where it takes longer is the CongoThe Congo!  That country is constantly in the shadow of an ever-looming civil war that only ended 4 years ago, and according to Brussels-based Crisis Group, “The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the site of one of the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crises…credible mortality studies estimate that over 1,000 people continue to die each day from conflict-related causes, mostly disease and malnutrition but ongoing violence as well. Rampant corruption within the transitional government and pervasive state weakness allows members of the national army and members of armed groups alike to perpetrate abuses against civilians.”  That is the only country where it takes longer to start a business than Venezuela. 

AND, friends, when graded by the World Bank on measures such as “labour-market flexibility, the complexity of trading across borders and access to credit,” Venezuela is 172nd out of 178!  A chimp playing “SimCity” could produce a better economy than that.