Yes, today is 24 October, United Nations Day. Our weak and crippled planetary government is 59 years old. So here's to the UN
In case any of the rest of you are feeling blue about being American, or wondering what it must be like (such muscles...such excellent motion pictures and fast food...) then maybe you can go out and get a copy of "Horatio's Drive", one of them Ken Burn's documentaries about Horatio Nelson Jackson, a wealthy dentist from Vermont who bet a man in San Francisco $50 he could drive home, hired mechanic Sewell Crocker to come with him, and did it in 63 days in 1903. At the time there were 150 miles of paved road in the US and NO gas stations. I've seen it three times now, and it's my favorite documentary about what it really means to be an American...the freedom to wander, cheap celebrity, and hitting the highway. Wonderful stuff:
Anyway, I've enclosed two images this time; one which sums up how I feel about riding a bike to work in LA, and the second (thanks, Geri) which supposedly solves the secret...was Bush wired or not? Who cares, though? The people supporting him are hardly literate, and if he was wired for the debates, they should fire whoever was prompting him.
The world agrees with me on this point:
Poll reveals world anger at Bush
Eight out of 10 countries favour Kerry for president
Alan Travis, home affairs editor
George Bush has squandered a wealth of sympathy around the world towards America since September 11 with public opinion in 10 leading countries - including some of its closest allies - growing more hostile to the United States while he has been in office.
Not that it will make a huge amount of difference:
** US election and foreign policy **
BBC News Online looks at how US foreign relations may be affected by the outcome of the presidential election.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/americas/3733014.stm >
But you know, my fine friends over the borders, that not all of us are about that, especially in California. REMEMBER us poor folk in California on 2 November, when you see how different we are.
The Two Americas
By Jacques Julliard Le Nouvel Observateur
Kerry's America knows that the rest of the world exists and that it is right about things that may be unknown to Inside America.
Remember that we have fun here too:
Couple Allegedly Has Sex in Bakersfield Shoe Store
Remember, when they're taking your picture and fingerprinting you at the airport, that we're going through it too:
Faulty 'No-Fly' System Detailed
By Sara Kehaulani Goo The Washington Post
The federal government's "no-fly" list had 16 names on it on Sept. 11, 2001. Today, it has more than 20,000.
Also be glad that you can still get around...while our transport network, from airports to trains to highways, is disintegrating:
And we will need those electrified trains very soon indeed:
Surprise CO2 Rise May Speed Up Global Warming
By Michael McCarthy The Independent U.K.
The rate at which global warming gases are accumulating in the atmosphere has taken a sharp leap upwards, leading to fears that the devastating effects of climate change may hit the world even sooner than has been predicted.
Global Warming Effects Faster Than Feared -Experts
By Maggie Fox Reuters
But as always, I am always pleased to give you good news:
Kyoto Treaty to be Binding After Russian Ratification
By Andrew Osborn The Independent U.K.
So in the spirit of UN Day, I lift a small toast to the Russian bastards who forced my family out, thanks for saving the globe, one baby step at a time. This country is regressing into the 19th century of President Monroe and President Polk, when we took what we wanted. Europe? What Europe?
But college students know about Europe, and they're giving them the love they used to give the US:
They see an idealism and a hope for the future on that side of the Atlantic:
U.S. and France take different tack on oil conservation
Jad Mouawad NYT
Although maybe some of the energy conservation measures are a bit unorthodox:
Dutch driver fined for forcing pony into hatchback
There's a completely different attitude about food, which will have serious consequences for who does business in the Third World:
Europe is united: no bioengineered food
Elisabeth Rosenthal IHT
Farmers, consumers, chefs and environmental groups have joined voices loudly and stubbornly to oppose bioengineered foods.
I mean, who need genetically modified delicacies when you've got wonderful French cheese, Spanish hams, Viennese cocaine, Swiss nightclubs, Irish whiskey, Dutch marijuana, Belgian beer, English assholes, German souvenirs, Tirolian ski bunnies, and, well...Turkey's 'mad honey' not for the weak-hearted
And while we invade, Europe signs contracts:
French go for the big stakes in China talks
Katrin Bennhold/IHT IHT
And the end of NATO comes ever closer:
Finland and Sweden Join EU Rapid Deployment Force
The Germans are reasserting themselves too (uh oh):
FT.com / World / Europe - Germany in rethink on Iraq force deployment*
The stubborn English, as always, are still looking to bridge the gap between Europe and the US, in the worst way possible:
** MoD denies US missiles set for UK **
The Ministry of Defence denies reports a secret deal has been struck to allow the US to station missiles in the UK.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/3750294.stm >
But it does them no good. When Brits started an e-mail campaign to Ohio in support of John Kerry, the Ohioans said, basically, go to hell:
The real power of the EU may manifest next year, when their Constitution will be voted on at the 60th anniversary of Hitler's defeat (and I hope to be there, in Paris, natch):
But here's a warning to my European friends...you have one big problem, and until the borders in the mind are erased, the old physical borders never will be:
** Analysis: EU's Turkish challenge **
Arguments for and against Turkish EU membership are considered by BBC News Online's Paul Reynolds.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/europe/3719418.stm >
Okay, that's my spiel for today.
And now, something completely different; a public service announcement from Ms. Cohen:
OPERATION OPT OUT CAMPAIGN CELEBRATES RESULTS FROM ACROSS THE CITY
Operation Opt Out, a campaign of CAMS (Coalition Against Militarism in our Schools) ends with a joyful celebration and Youth Speak on Friday October 29th from 6-9 p.m. at the CARECEN- Central American Resource Center, 2748 West 7th Street ( just west of Hoover) in Los Angeles.
Hear about the creative activities held at schools and in the community to inform students and parents about the option for juniors and seniors to Opt Out from having their private contact information released to the military. Hear about student activism and collaborative efforts with the peace and justice community. And join us in developing a broad based further response to the militarism in our schools.
Join Ron Kovic, Vietnam Veteran, author of Born on the Fourth of July, student leaders Alex Herrera, Guillermo Tejeda, Audrey Castellanos and more, spoken word artists and Fidel Rodriguez of KPFK Divine Forces Radio. For everyone concerned about the growing intrusion of the military in public education. Let’s join together to create and present positive, life affirming alternatives for youth.
For more information contact:
Arlene Inouye (626) 799-9118
Because war just ain't where it's at:
Vowing Iraq Pullback, Polish Leader Wins Vote
By Judy Dempsey International Herald Tribune http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/101704C.shtml
And that means ANY war...WAKE UP!
Berlin Shocked By Polish Reparations Vote
The decision of the Polish parliament on Friday to demand reparations from Germany for World War II draws dismay from German lawmakers.
Poland's ambassador to Germany, Andrzej Byrt, said the decision was "a reaction to the actions of the Prussian Claims Society." The expellees' lobby group, led by Rudi Pawelka, is currently planning a string of international lawsuits aimed at returning property and assets to ethnic Germans who were forced to flee Poland in the millions after World War II. "Mr. Pawelka and his consorts started this debate, he's unleashed dramatic fear among Poles," Byrt told a German newspaper over the weekend. Despite the parliament's decision, Byrt said he did not believe the Polish government would actually make any official reparations demands of Germany. "The Polish government considers the question of reparations to be finished," said Byrt.
Old fears arise anew
The Polish parliament unanimously called on the government to estimate the total damages Germany caused Poland in World War II and to begin talks with Berlin. The text of the resolution stated: "Parliament declares that Poland has not yet received war reparations payments and damages the for the enormous extent of destruction and material and non-material costs brought on by German aggression, occupation and genocide." Additionally, the parliament rejected all claims for compensation or restoration of property from German expellees. In recent weeks, lobby groups for the expellees, like the Prussian Claims Society, have issued demands that have sparked tremendous resentment in Poland. Many of the country's citizens see the lawsuit threats as an effort to put German expellees on the same footing as the Polish victims of German war crimes.
The issue is emotionally charged in Poland, where old fears, painful historical experiences and the late consequences of a propaganda program that stoked fear of Germans in the population for decades. It's a bitter realization for anyone who has worked on behalf of the decades-long reconciliation process that has resulted recently in the closest cooperative relationship ever seen between Germany and Poland. And the consequences of any lawsuits could be enormous. In addition to the financial effects, Poles fear Germans would return to the eastern European countries they once occupied -- an uncomfortable notion for historically aware Poles, who have a clear idea of who was the culprit and who was the victim in World War II.
The legal position is clear. A treaty between Germany and Poland officially recognizes the Oder and Neisse rivers as Poland's western-most border. Germany is Poland's most important trading partner, and both countries are members of NATO and the European Union, and Germany was also championed Poland's political needs when it negotiated its EU membership. Additionally, Poland dropped all of its demands for reparations payments from the Germans during the 1950s.
In Berlin, politicians have been astounded by the Polish parliament's demand, and the Polish government has called for a diplomatic solution between Berlin and Warsaw. In a newspaper interview, the German Social Democrats foreign affairs spokesman, Markus Meckel, said he was greatly disappointed by the vote. And the press department at the chancellery in Berlin repeated previous statements from Chancellor Gerhard SchrÃ¶der that both countries consider the question of reparations settled.
Debate in parliament
The resolution agreed to by the Polish parliament is a political resolution and it has no legally binding effect for Prime Minister Marek Belka or his government. "Were trying to create a dialogue with the governments of Poland to find a solution that finalizes all concerns about damages, also in the legal sense," Belka said. Ironically, the text approved on Friday was milder than earlier drafts. Conservative and nationalist parties originally penned a tougher resolution, but the country's leftist parties said they would not accept any explicit demand for reparations. The final outcome was a vaguely formulated demand that the government "take appropriate measures to address the concerns."
Finally, that means even the war between you and your neighbor...cause we're ALL STUCK STUCK STUCK together:
Breaking Down the Wall in the Head
On Oct.3, Germany marks 14 years since reunification. Although the physical barrier between east and west is a thing of the past, many Germans still speak about the "Mauer im Kopf" -- the Wall in the head.In Berlin today, there's very little left of the Berlin Wall. Even those who've lived here all their lives have difficulty remembering exactly where it used to be. But if every fifth person in Germany had their way, the barrier that split the country during the Cold War would be resurrected. A recent poll conducted by the Forsa research institute found that a quarter of West Germans wished the Berlin Wall could be rebuilt, while 12 percent of
East Germans said they didn't want to live in a united Germany. It's not exactly a glowing testimony about the progress made in the 14 years since the Wende, the term used here to describe German reunification.
Stereotypes about East and West are stubborn. East Germans think of westerners as "Besser-Wessies," or arrogant know-it-alls. West Germans, in turn, roll their eyes about the "Jammer Ossies," or whining easterners.
"East Germans have a false perception of affluence in the West. They overestimate the level of prosperity, and take the upper income level as the average, so many of their demands are unrealistic," says Klaus SchrÃ¶der, an expert on the former East Germany at Berlin's Free University. "West Germans are envious when they see how much money is being transferred to the East. Many people feel that the true cost of reunification is being hidden from them."
Negative western stereotypes about easterners have even been passed down to the younger generation, to those who were teenagers when the Wall fell. There's been an exodus of young easterners to western cities in the 14 years following reunification, but those who've remained in the East are often pegged as lazy, unmotivated, and bitter about their future prospects.
Those assumptions are wrong, say sociologists at a leading public opinion research institute in the southern German city of Allensbach. They quizzed 2,000 Germans on their attitudes on typically Western values. While they concluded that, in the East, values such as equality and social justice ranked higher than individual freedom, the researchers admit they were surprised by the responses of young easterners.
Advantage of youth
"The younger generation of easterners aren't just falling back into a basic attitude of depression, they're taking initiative," Thomas Petersen, project leader at the Allensbach institute told DW-WORLD. "Their optimism and strength is tangible, and those are the qualities that a region needs to pull itself out of the doldrums."
That description could apply to Leipzig resident Rita Barwitzki, 26, who was a pre-teen when the Wall fell. She says living through the experience
has made her stronger.
"I gave up a piece of my identity, and because of that, there was this impulse to experience new things, and not to stay stuck in the past," she recalls. "And there were new things, there was a whole new system. I think I'm more free, more independent today because of those changes."
But Barwitzki couldn't be more different from fellow easterner Lutz R., a Berliner who was in his early 30s when the Wall fell. As incredible as it sounds to Western ears, Lutz says he felt more free under the East German regime than he does now.
"Freedom is relative. In my job now, if I were to complain to my boss about how things are working, I would have to worry about getting fired. For me, that means I'm not free," Lutz told DW-WORLD. "In East Germany, I could say what I thought. Not about the government, of course, but then I didn't have anything against the government. But at work, if I complained to my boss, he'd listen, and I didn't have to fear the consequences."
Lutz remembers East Germany as a great country for young people -- a place where he had a steady job, enough food, and a nice apartment located just a few meters from the Berlin Wall. It's presence never bothered him. On the contrary, it reassured him.
"The Wall was an anti-fascist protective measure, it was there to protect us from the West," he says.
Money not enough
For East Germany expert Klaus SchrÃ¶der, the persistence of such attitudes stems from key decisions made in 1990 when the two Germanys became one.
"From the very beginning of reunification, we only thought about the money," SchrÃ¶der explains. "But that was only half the story. We should have also paid attention to the fact that this reunited nation would need to start sharing common values. Back then, everybody thought that those problems would go away if you threw money at them. That's proved not to be true."
While few expected reunification to happen overnight, those who experienced the euphoria in 1989 when the Wall fell would probably not have guessed that, in 2004, the gap between East and West would still be so wide. It seems that Germany's best hope of breaking down the "Wall in the head" lies in its young people, for whom the Cold War is an indistinct, childhood memory.
Author: Deanne Corbett
Vive le screed!
24 October 2004