Finnish defense minister rejects Russia rhetoric –

Finland will not take orders from Russia on its defense strategy, the new defense minister said on Friday, rejecting comments from Moscow warning its small neighbor against joining or working too closely with NATO.

Carl Haglund, who was appointed on Friday and is due to begin his duties next week, said he did not welcome the remarks by Russian military chief General Nikolay Makarov.

Makarov said this month that increasingly close relations between Finland and NATO were disturbing Finnish-Russian ties.

Finnish defense minister rejects Russia rhetoric –

Russia is upset that NATO is moving closer to Russia’s border. But let us ask why countries close to Russia’s border want to join NATO or work more closely with it?

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Are Russian leaders children? Did they wake up yesterday and realize that Russia has no history? Of course countries near Russia want to join NATO. They are terrified of Russia. And why shouldn’t they be based on Russia’s history?

Russia has been suggesting that NATO encroachment toward Russia may lead to nuclear war. Apparently, the sovereign countries surrounding Russia may not determine their own defensive needs. Also, don’t Russian hostility to NATO and threats suggest both NATO and Russia’s neighbors have something to be worried about?

Russia’s overall aggressive hostility to NATO suggests that NATO should be gearing up for nuclear war regardless of further encroachment. However, if it intends to upset Russia with further encroachment, then perhaps it should start gearing up a little quicker.

BBC News – China blocks access to Bloomberg and Businessweek sites

Web users in mainland China are unable to access Bloomberg’s websites, after they were blocked by local authorities.

The news agency thinks the move is a response to an article published about the fortunes of Vice President Xi Jinping’s extended family.

“As Xi climbed the Communist Party ranks, his extended family expanded their business interests to include minerals, real estate and mobile-phone equipment, according to public documents compiled by Bloomberg,” said the story.

The article said that the vice president’s extended family also owns an empty villa at the South China Sea in Hong Kong, with an estimated value of $31.5m (£20.1m), and at least six other Hong Kong properties that have a combined estimated value of $24.1m (£15m).

BBC News – China blocks access to Bloomberg and Businessweek sites

The Girl From Ipanema Song Turns 50

As the Girl from Ipanema song turns 50, what explains its remarkable rise? As the article from the Wall Street Journal says, “it is perfection.” But why?

I would argue that Astrud Gilberto’s untrained and off-tune voice of foreign innocence is a big reason for the song’s success. Then the song’s lyrics set the stage with a dream. It is the dream of unobtainable beauty. Astrud’s voice and mistakes add to the song by enhancing the innocence of the beauty and the allure of a far off foreign dream. It doesn’t seem to matter that Astrud is Swedish with a Swedish accent rather than Brazilian. Who knew where Ipanema was located anyway?

“To the layperson, ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ sounds like ‘a nice song,’ ” says the Brazilian-American guitarist and musical director Manny Moreira. “But to the trained ear it is perfection.”

The Elusive Girl From Ipanema –

Unfortunately, the girl from Ipanema has gotten fat – the fat girl from Ipanema.

The combination of dream plus sweet innocence is hard to beat. You can see a similar effect in Eurovision 2011 where Lena wins the contest with a combination of love plus clunky innocence. The lyrics set the stage for love, but Lena takes it to the next level with a funny English accent and unpolished innocence.

Eurovision 2011 – Satellite by Lena

The two songs suggest that a deep emotional response can be obtained with the appropriate lyrics setting the stage, but it takes the right unpolished singer to take it to the next level.

Iran: There will be war – and we’ll win

More than 1,000 ballistic missiles capable of reaching U.S. bases

Just days after the breakdown of talks with the West over Iran’s nuclear program, the deputy chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards announced that there soon will be war – and that Allah will ensure his forces are victorious.

Iran: There will be war – and we’ll win

Philadelphia and the Burqa Bandits :: Islamist Watch

Some scoff at the idea that face-covering Islamic veils endanger public safety in any Western nation, let alone the United States, but Philadelphians do not have the luxury of blissful ignorance. As recent events highlight, their city has become the American epicenter of robberies and murders carried out by criminals disguised as fundamentalist Muslim women. Several factors help explain Philadelphia’s place at the forefront of this trend. Will other U.S. cities be next?


A burqa bandit in action on March 20.

The latest wave of burqa banditry to target Philadelphia began at a branch of More Bank in the East Oak Lane neighborhood two days before Christmas. Following similar heists on January 6, March 14, March 20, and April 4, the Philadelphia Police Department and FBI issued a wanted flier for a pair of black males in “Muslim-like clothing covering their heads and bodies.” Surveillance images indicate that the outfits include face veils (niqabs) and “burqa-like robes,” to quote one news item, leaving just the eyes visible. The same Wells Fargo branch struck on April 4 was then hit again on April 13, after which Muslim groups offered $20,000 for information leading to the perpetrators. No arrests or further bank robberies have been reported.

Philadelphia and the Burqa Bandits :: Islamist Watch

China starts ‘combat ready’ patrols in disputed South China Sea –

China has begun combat-ready patrols in the waters around a disputed group of islands in the South China Sea, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday, the latest escalation in tension over the potentially resource-rich area.

“The Chinese military’s resolve and will to defend territorial sovereignty and protect our maritime rights and interests is firm and unshakeable,” Mr. Geng added, according to a transcript on the ministry’s website of comments at a briefing.

China starts ‘combat ready’ patrols in disputed South China Sea –

America’s False Recovery – Why The US Is Not An Oasis Of Prosperity: Stephen Roach | Economy Watch

The U.S.’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis has led to widespread hope that America has the capacity to stay the course and provide a backstop for the rest of the world in the midst of the euro crisis. But a closer analysis of America’s recent economic growth suggests that the economy may be even more vulnerable to foreign crises than before.

America’s False Recovery – Why The US Is Not An Oasis Of Prosperity: Stephen Roach | Economy Watch

China’s sovereign claims in East Sea groundless: int’l scholars

International scholars have affirmed that there is no legal foundation for China’s declaration of sovereignty over almost all of the East Sea area and that its U-shaped line is unreasonable.

They emphasised this at a seminar entitled “The East Sea and Asia Pacific in Transition: Exploring Options for Managing Disputes” in Washington DC on June 28.

The event, held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), focused on recent developments in the East Sea, the East Sea in the ASEAN-US-China relations, and assessment of significance of the East Sea in a changing regional landscape.

The role of international laws and norms in resolving and managing disputes as well as resolution and policy recommendations to boost security and cooperation in the East Sea were also considered.

Professor Carlyle Thayer from the Australian Defence Force Academy said oil and gas blocks in the area that China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has recently advertised for international tender in fact belong to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

VietNamNet – China’s sovereign claims in East Sea groundless: int’l scholars | China’s sovereign claims in East Sea groundless: int’l scholars

The Alarming Implications of Iranian Vice President Rahimi’s Speech | Huffington Post

The words that came out of the mouth of Iran’s vice president could have come from Nazi Germany’s propaganda minister Goebbels in 1938, or from a contemporary neo-Nazi hate pamphlet. That these words reflect the thinking of a top-level government official from a regime that appears to be seeking nuclear weapons capability, even in the face of international sanctions that are crippling to its citizens, should give all sensible people pause. Beyond the argument as to whether or not Iran’s rulers are rational, would allowing such a regime to possess nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles that could deliver them to any target in the world really be a rational act on the part of the rest of the world?

Sheldon Filger: The Alarming Implications of Vice President Rahimi’s Speech

Purge of High-Level Ministries Started in China, Says Magazine | Epoch Times

A team of high-level Chinese Communist Party officials have been organized to initiate a purge of Party members, especially those within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, and Foreign Affairs Office, according to a recent report by the Hong Kong-based Trend magazine.

Headed by Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as the next leader of the CCP, the team will gather information from members of key departments, Party organizations, and Party leadership circles.

Purge of High-Level Ministries Started in China, Says Magazine | Regime | China | Epoch Times