The Friends of California Libre...

07 April 2006

It's Your First Semana Santa in Heaven

Greetings, friends,
It's three AM and I'm feeling loose. To terminate this first, rainy week of April, I've gathered up a variety of happenings that might make you think it was time to PRAY, if you believe in that sort of thing.

First, the only April Fools' joke I enjoyed, mainly because it demonstrates that Canadians have a very subdued sense of humor:
WestJet asks customers to assume "winglet" pose

Very subdued indeed:
Canada making it easier to apologize

We Americans like our humor rare, dripping blood. Those of you who, like me, got reamed in the NCAA "March Madness", and also have a taste for black humor at the hippies' expense will enjoy this joke as well:

The recommended page is:
Kent State Basketball Team Massacred By Ohio National Guard In Repeat Of Classic 1970 Matchup

Lately I've gathered a few articles about "how tough it is to be a woman" don't laugh, it is International Women's Month, or Day, or...see, I don't even know. It's tough. Well, first we have the "pimp" thing as immortalized by the recent Academy Awards...though it stretches back to "Klute" and "Rain":
Women and Popular Culture: The Pimp Chic Debate
By Maxine Frith
The Independent UK

But see, some things are changing. In Sweden Volvo brought in some gals to design a special "women's concept car":
Please click on the link to see the corresponding content:

You'd think you deserved a new Volvo after all this bad news:
This Is Your Life (If You Are a Woman)
The Independent UK
Womenomics 101
By Joshua Holland

Nag, nag, nag. Well, this isn't just an American problem:
Italian Rights Movement Nervously Awaits Election
By Clara Park
Women's eNews
Women's issues and reproductive rights are a wild card in the April 9 elections in Italy, where discontent over government moves to limit abortion and civil unions smoldered until a journalist's e-mail ignited public demonstrations.

Here's a tough woman and librarian, who demonstrates that not everyone approved locking the Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II:

Dear Miss Breed: Letters from Camp

A retrospective of San Diego Public Library children's librarian Clara Breed, who became "a lifeline to the outside world" for Japanese American children relocated during World War II to internment camps. Breed "distributed stamped and addressed postcards to her young friends, asking them to write to her and describe their life in camp." The site documents life in the camps with letters, photographs, and audio and video files. From the Japanese American National Museum.

Librarians have all kinds of interesting ideas; I hope I can come up with a few soon:
Article on Edible Books in NY Times
The Sunday New York Times Book Review featured an article about a known
California librarian's annual project:
For those who do not have access to the New York Times, the article can be
viewed without cost at this location:

Might as well eat books, because no one wants you to read them. They don't give you time, and they don't give you the leeway. I mean, you know times are tough when they kick you off a jet for singing a Clash song (thanks, Mark):
Man held as terrorism suspect over punk song

But these are tough times we live in, and we've all got to be ready for anything, right?
Kindergarten Student Brings Gun to School

Yeah, that's the American way; our way or we blow your brains out:
US Causes Delay in UN Vote on New Rights Council

Not that we have the monopoly on blowing people's brains out; read this article about the next war you never heard of, and your jaw will drop, friends:
The Secret War Against the Defenseless People of West Papua
By John Pilger
t r u t h o u t Perspective

The man who invented the term "blowback" has a lot to say about the current state of the world and the United States' place in it:
Cold Warrior in a Strange Land: Interview With Chalmers Johnson

I also like seeing the US take a real stand in favor of democracy, even if it is self-serving; I'm refering to the joke election in Belarus. This first article is in French:
You can access it at the following url:
US and Europe Plan Sanctions Against Belarus
By C. J. Chivers
The New York Times
Statement on Belarus
You can access it at the following url:

With Easter coming up, you just want to celebrate somehow:
Cocaine smuggled in Virgin Mary statues

I'll be celebrating Easter in Europe, and natch, I'll be celebrating the very idea of Europe with raised glasses and tasty repasts:
Subject: the idea of europe
You can access it at the following url:

And trying to maintain good relations between, at least, Spain and California:
Trans-Atlantic tensions: How a relationship goes sour
International Herald Tribune
Responses to 9/11 have been America's strategic litmus test, and most European "allies" are deemed to have failed miserably.
Furor as London mayor calls US ambassador "crook"
"Américanisme" nm. Idéologie fin XXème-début XXIème siècle
You can access it at the following url:

Knowing that the Europeans have as much fun with themselves as they do with us:
Spanish broadcaster drowned out by strike

Meanwhile, it's more bickering drowning out conversation between Mr. Bush and Mr. Chavez, two entire countries acting like toddlers:
US More Intent on Blocking Chavez
By Paul Richter
The Los Angeles Times
Venezuela Cautions US It May Curtail Oil Exports
By Juan Forero
The New York Times

Yet even the most die-hard leftists in Latin America will admit that George W. Bush has done more to unify them than even Hugo Chavez could:
Che Rides Again (On a Mountain Bike)
By Nick Miroff
Has Latin America ever had such a unifying figure?
Political Upheaval
By Nadia Martinez
In These Times
Latin America challenges the Washington Consensus.

And while we celebrate progressive victories in Latin America, I'll be cruel and celebrate the death of one of my favorite war criminals:
Former defense chief Caspar Weinberger dies at 88

And now for something completely the Chinese plan to take over the world economy (thanks, Cameo):
word on the strteet is that china is working with india to bring the new asian empire for the coming century
'We Love China'
Lindsey Hilsum
An African revolution that needs noticing: 'The Chinese are the most voracious capitalists on the continent and trade between China and Africa is doubling every year.'

How we're letting them do it:
West's gold vanishing in China once again
The New York Times
China has such a huge stash of other countries' money that it could, in theory, give bonuses equaling half a year's wages to all 770 million of its famously low-paid workers.

How our dispute with the Persians is just fanning the flames of our own flame-out:
March 15, 2006
USA-Dollar-Iran / Confirmation of Global Systemic Crisis end of March 2006
Nine indicators prove that the crisis is unfolding
You can access it at the following url:

Why the United States stopped publishing the "dollar print figures" (m3 index), which basically is a count of how much money the US Mint prints every month:
You can access it at the following url:
Is Rising US Public Debt Sustainable?
By Mark Trumbull
The Christian Science Monitor
A visitor to suggests you visit this page:
Economic Suicide

Why printing all this money is NOT a good thing:
THE ECONOMIST's Big Mac index is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, under which exchange rates should adjust to equalise the cost of a basket of goods and services, wherever it is bought around the world. Our basket is the Big Mac. The cheapest burger in our chart is in China, where it costs $1.30, compared with an average American price of $3.15. This implies that the yuan is 59% undervalued.
See this article with graphics and related items at
The 7 stages of a dollar crisis
Investor: Beware
International Herald Tribune
Governments, investors and lenders continue to build the house of cards, with little apparent regard for the many risks that could cause its collapse at any time.

At least we here in the West can still make fun of the Third World (thanks, Mike):
Subject: sure, I got room for that girly bag of yours...

Speaking of cargo movements, I found this interesting article, where you see the Arabs vent a little polite irritation (well-founded) at being screwed out of a legit business deal by the racist Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress:

The Lesson Drawn from Investing in US Ports

Jawad Anani Al-Hayat - 16/03/06//

"Privatization" has been, as we have learned throughout the past three decades, a cornerstone to building the then predominant economic concept. Thanks to the so-called "Thatcherism" after Margaret Thatcher and "Reaganism" after Ronald Reagan in the 80s, privatization has become the engine of economic liberalization and the symbol of political management to re-distribute roles between the private and public sectors.

On our part, we have embraced and implemented privatization, thus meeting remarkable success in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia, then recently after intimidating pressures, in some Gulf countries, like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. Interestingly, some Gulf countries have staunchly championed privatization in the past three years after having long lingered in this field. Most importantly, the plan to expand privatization will be broader, more comprehensive, audacious, and outward looking.

In truth, many reasons have hindered privatization in the Gulf countries, where the labor division between the private and public sectors is so different than in other Arab countries, and where the population is relatively low compared to the number of new incomers. Likewise, as officials were entitled in some countries to conduct trade and business, the call to privatize seemed odd and ambiguous. In addition, privatization in the Gulf economies has never been convincing. For these countries have not lacked funding, while their indebtedness has been both limited and under control. Moreover, forging partnerships with more technologically advanced countries may be compensated by the purchase of unavailable technologies.

Yet, the economic circumstances and the need to diversify the economic base, enhance performance, and preserve welfare, have all objectively pressed the Gulf countries to move in this direction. Therefore, the debate driven by the following questions: "What is the point of privatization? Why shall I trust foreigners?" is no longer valid in light of the current huge expansion in the Gulf region. In addition, the Gulf countries, willing to invest in successful projects and companies across the world, will be certainly depicted as vulnerable and backward if they tarry in embarking on privatization. Besides, thanks to the criteria governing the membership agreements to the WTO or the requirements of the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) concluded between Europe, the United States, and other Arab countries, privatization has become prerequisite to honoring these commitments.

All of a sudden an extraordinary story surfaced: a UAE corporation purchased a company in charge of operating 6 major ports in the United States - a deal that was about to comply with the enforced laws and predominant practices there. Nonetheless, some Congressmen exploited this transaction to attack the currently unpopular and un-influential administration of President George Bush - with the mid-term elections looming ahead. By these elections we mean that at the end of the second year of the initially 4-year US presidency, all 2-year elect Congressmen will be reelected. So will the thirds of Senators (34) and State governors. Let alone many civil servants in other local posts, such as the district police chief, the attorney general, municipal councils, and others.

It remains to be mentioned in this regard that these elections are scheduled for next November 2.

All rivals, whether those seeking to win another term or the new candidates, generally search for issues likely to attract the public attention. Here emerged the story of "Dubai Ports World - International" (DPW.YY) that purchased a British company managing six US basic ports; a story the said politicians could not but harness to serve their goals. Even more, some members of the opponent Democratic Party have attracted and mobilized the media outlets to advocate their cause. Though the Senate has pondered on this question and on all its security, economic, and administrative aspects, many Congressmen were still dissatisfied and resilient. Similarly, some Republicans have even renounced to their former stances, abandoning their widely unpopular president in an attempt to ensure their re-election.

Under these circumstances, "Dubai Ports" put forth many proposals to entrust the management to Americans only and to leave the security aspects for the US States and cities, where these ports are located. Amid the unwavering vociferous outcry, the corporation found itself obliged to withdraw and offer its shares for sale.

Even though the US President has understood the bad message such step will convey, especially to the so-called US friends and allies, the damage is already done and cannot be reversed. This lesson comes to remind us, we the Arabs, that the United States only wants us to deposit our funds at its banks or smoothly invest them in some hotels and real estates.

Adventurism and entrepreneurship characterizing Dubai's investments unveil the real intentions and double standards the US representatives adopt in dealing with the Arabs and their causes.

Still, such hardship may prove to be beneficial. It is time now to muster the political will to invest in Arab projects. By brandishing this slogan, we do not the least reject openness to the United States. But, in this vast world, we must give top priority to the neighbors. So must the United States.

* Mr. Jawad Anani is an economic expert in Al Basira Consultants
©2004 Media Communications Group

And finally, some trivia about the President's Day holiday in the US, which I recently discovered does not exist:
I thought this entry from the Urban Legends Reference Pages
at might interest you:

Vive le screed!

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