Today is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere; which means that up at the North Pole, it's high noon, and the scientists in Antarctica (the only continent where marijuana doesn't grow naturally) are at their most depressed. All across the globe, guys with tattoos on the their upper arms and pale women who make their own jewelry are gathering in remote rural areas to drink homemade intoxicants and celebrate.
Here's a guy who's celebrating:
After Eight Years, Man Takes Elevator to Freedom
I'm celebrating this week by going to the Godzilla film festival at the Egyptian, and no, I'm not putting up any times or asking anyone to go with. I've been stood up too many times by too many people, so here's the deal, I've got a cell phone now, like you've been bitching about, so you come and find me. Besides, I've been liberated; take this test:
To find out I had a peer group was the best thing to happen to me since I discovered Joseph Campbell. Let me know how you did on this "quirkyalone" test and I'll tell you what I got.
Okay, in the "what the hell" category:
Cannibals' descendants descend on cannabis to lift curse in Fiji
Chief says band planned to pen killer whale Luna away from scientists
And this can't be good news:
Canadian bettor wages $110,000 US on Bush re-election
I'd like to congratulate my European friends, who as of last week now have a Constitution. When they dig up the shards of our civilization in a thousand years or so, I predict that the ratification of the EU Constitution (and maybe Reagan keeling over) will be the only events of note in 2004:
EU Leaders Clinch Historic Constitution Deal
The rest of this screed is devoted to the happenings over on the other side of the Atlantic, so if you don't care, hit delete, but remember that the sun does not set, as the British used to brag, on our Earth.
Would you like to win a free trip across Europe? Guess who the first President of the EU will be:
Hey, try this site and win a trip to a European capital: http://www.GraylingBrussels.com/Vote4CommissionPresident
Although you won't read it in the Times, the recent elections in the UK will have a major impact both on their future in the "Coalition" and in the EU; the moderate Labour Party collapsed in favor of the Conservatives and the left-wing Liberal Democrats. Fringe parties also gained:
Europe or America - you decide
June 10 is our chance to challenge Blair's limpet-like loyalty to Bush
Friday June 04 2004
At least no one can complain that the Euro election campaign is boring. George Galloway brays for Tony Blair's political blood. Robert Kilroy-Silk's leathery tan is plastered over every available poster space. Michael Howard tries to repackage himself as Mr Reasonable on Europe. Blair ducks out of sight altogether. The government's imposition of postal ballots on half of England descends into farce. This is fun, if a little surreal.
Blair Says Sorry as Prescott Admits Labour Got a 'Kicking' for Iraq War
By Andrew Grice and Colin Brown
But will you care? Will you take comfort from the television that all is well?
America's ignorance is a threat to humanity
Jeffrey D. Sachs NYT
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
America must strive to understand problems that are unfamiliar to Americans but are urgent concerns of billions of people abroad.
Will you forget your ancestors and your cousins?
The Boston Globe
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Americans ought to regard this enlarged and peaceful Europe of human rights and the rule of law as a paradigm for the political and economic arrangements best suited to create true security.
Don't fuck around with Europeans:
Protesting French energy workers cut power to Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees
Like I've noted before, I had no interest in travelling to Europe until I was 35; I was determined to explore my own continent, and especially my corner of it. What happened? Did I become more globally aware? Nope, I was getting ready to bop down to South America in the late 1990s, but underemployment kept me limited to New York City and San Francisco. In 2001 I finally had enough money to go abroad, and I was trying to decide between Ireland and Cuba. Everyone was telling me to go to Cuba, so naturally I went to Ireland. The trip was a disaster (read the whole stupid story at http://www.joelrane.com/documents/ireland.html ) but it was the most fun I'd had since I broke the sound barrier on the Cooper River Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina. Suddenly I realized something about Europeans (and I'll admit, using the Irish as a springboard is a bit of a leap, but my 2002 trip to Paris proved me right): Europeans have a different way of living. It's a very stark contrast to Los Angeles, where people live in boxes, watch boxes, drive in boxes, work in boxes, dance in boxes, and if they step out of the box they get shit for it. Europeans live in piles of rubble, underground caves, swooping trains, along rivers, ruins, open fields, super-tech super-sexed up buildings haunted by a millennium's worth of ghost. Vive la différence,
Listen to your cousins:
Hubris and hypocrisy: America is failing to honor its own codes
AnneMarie Slaughter IHT
Saturday, May 22, 2004
If America won’t listen, won’t consult, won’t play by the rules, won’t try to see the world through any lenses but its own, can we still be sure that American power is a force for good?
On European streets: America the unloved
Richard Reeves United Press Syndicate
Thursday, May 27, 2004
In Europe, America is increasingly unloved.
The partnership is strained on both ends; this is an excellent article on the business and emotional relationship that we're seeing torn apart:
A CREAKING PARTNERSHIP
Jun 7th 2004
Though the Americans and Europeans are getting together four times this
month, starting with the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of
D-Day, they still find it hard to get on.
THE commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, on
Sunday June 6th, had an elegiac tone, and not just because of the
memory of the soldiers who died that day. There is a growing sense in
both the United States and Europe that the western alliance that was
born out of the second world war, and triumphed in the cold war, is
failing to recover from the cruel strains of the past three years.
Not that I see Europe as the ideal; where America burns with evangelical zeal, Europe still stinks of the Holy Roman Empire:
Europe's big problem with a 3-letter word
Elaine Sciolino/NYT NYT
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
As the Europeans haggle over the final wording of their first constitution, they are bedeviled by a three-letter word: God.
As I learned in Ireland and Austria, they like to rake every old sin and misdemeanor over the coals again and again and again...how about the Germans and the Czechs learning to kiss and make up?
Headline: War of words flares anew over WWII
Date: June 7, 2004
"They're united in the newly expanded European Union -- yet still
bitterly divided by a nearly six-decade-old dispute."
The Germans have enough troubles:
German 'Samurai' on the Loose in Woods Near Berlin
I wonder when the Europeans will manifest their fears about us unruly Americans:
INTERVIEW: Charles Kupchan
Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University
Interviewed by Patrick Jarreau
Where are European-American relations today, against the background of the Iraq crisis? "Le Monde" asks three experts.
Headline: Europe's risky waiting game
Date: May 18, 2004
"JOHN KERRY'S mildly impolitic remark in March about the extent to
which European "leaders" are hoping he beats President Bush misses the
more important fact about how wide and deep Europe's rejection of
Bush's self-defeating know-it-all-ism is."
I hope it's soon:
By Zbigniew Brzezinski
The New Republic
America's Iraq policy requires a fundamental strategic reappraisal. The present policy - justified by falsehoods, pursued with unilateral arrogance, blinded by self-delusion, and stained by sadistic excesses - cannot be corrected with a few hasty palliatives. The remedy must be international in character; political, rather than military, in substance; and regional, rather than simply Iraqi, in scope.
And finally, if anything should signal change to you, it's this last article; the Germans have finally decided that Germany just ain't German any more:
Breakthrough on German Immigration Law
After years of acrimonious talks and two failed attempts to push through a controversial immigration law, Chancellor Gerhard Schraeder managed to secure a deal with the opposition conservatives.
Putting aside three years of cross-party bickering, Schraeder and opposition leader Angela Merkel announced on Tuesday they had struck a compromise that will allow non-European foreign workers to immigrate to Germany for the first time in decades.
"We've reached a political agreement," said Schraeder who had kicked off the final round of talks on the controversial law by offering to include some of the demands on security issues put forth by the Christian Democrat Union (CDU).
The law, which was originally drafted in 2000 to help recruit talented immigrants to fill a shortage of skilled labor, had become bogged down in fears that it opened the door for foreign extremists to enter the country. An ensuing partisan dispute broke out with the conservative CDU linking any agreement on immigration to demands for tougher measures against terror suspects.
Schraeder's compromise reflects some of these concerns by including a clause that allows foreigners to be expelled from Germany on the basis of circumstantial evidence of danger and calls for immigrants to be screened by the domestic intelligence agency.
The Greens, the junior coalition partner in Schraeder's government, had adamantly opposed the inclusion of any such anti-terror measures and until Tuesday had threatened to abandon the talks if the CDU's demands were not dropped. But in the end, Schraeder could count on their support and announced optimistically, "We're going to have a modern immigration law."
Opening the doors
The compromise plan, which allows non-European nationals to immigrate to Germany for work, essentially reverses 30 years of immigration policy. Although Germany has 7.2 million foreigners and takes in newcomers, primarily Russians of German ancestry and asylum seekers, it has effectively been shut to foreign workers from outside the European Union since the 1970s.
Schraeder said the new law would give a boost to Germany's businesses which are suffering from a shortage of skilled labor, especially in the IT branch. Industry leaders had urged the parties to reach a deal, arguing that despite a 10.5 percent unemployment rate, there were not enough skilled workers in the country to fill all the openings.
Hammering out the finer details
Speaking to the press, Merkel said, "It's now worthwhile to work together on the final details of a draft for the legislation."
Representatives from Schraeder's Social Democrats, the Greens and the CDU along with their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union and the neo-liberal FDP will hammer out the finer points and present parliament with a draft of the new law by June 17.
Schraeder said the SPD and Greens would not make any further concessions to the conservatives. "The compromise is not up for any further negotiations," he said.
Autor: DW staff (ktz)
Thanks to Monsieur Steiner, as always, for the lovely portrait of George W. Bush. Yeah, all of those people are dead.
Watch the skies!
Private Rocket Plane Aiming for Space Flight Prize
Vive le Screed!
21 June 2004