Sunday Reads: Euro Collapse, US Pakistan Relations Fall Further and a Royal AuctionPosted: November 27, 2011
It is a Sunday after a long…long…weekend. Some of you have traveled to visit family, or some may have stayed home and had a quiet Thanksgiving. The one thing is certain, and that is for the next six weeks, the rush to celebrate the holidays will drive many of us crazy.
As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible.
Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.
The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way.
A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.
Recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office instructions to embassies and consulates request contingency planning for extreme scenarios including rioting and social unrest.
Of course they are expecting more outbreaks of demonstrations than Greece has seen in the past recent weeks.
Diplomats have also been told to prepare to help tens of thousands of British citizens in eurozone countries with the consequences of a financial collapse that would leave them unable to access bank accounts or even withdraw cash.
I can’t help but wonder what all this will mean for our economy…
The Obama administration on Saturday pledged a full investigation into a NATO attack that allegedly killed 24 Pakistani troops.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a joint statement offered their “deepest condolences” for the loss of life in the cross-border incident in Pakistan. Clinton and Panetta also said they “support fully NATO’s intention to investigate immediately.”
Secretary Clinton, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. John Allen, commander of the NATO-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, each called their Pakistani counterparts as well, the statement said.
That is some big responses to this latest incident that has made relations even more tenuous.
“In their contacts, these US diplomatic and military leaders each stressed — in addition to their sympathies and a commitment to review the circumstances of the incident — the importance of the US-Pakistani partnership, which serves the mutual interests of our people,” the statement said.
“All these leaders pledged to remain in close contact with their Pakistani counterparts going forward as we work through this challenging time,” the statement concluded.
This is going to be a big problem…it seems like with the speed of US apologies, they know this attack is going to have huge consequences. Juan Cole shared some interesting numbers yesterday. Empire by the Numbers
Number of Pakistani troops killed at checkpoint Saturday by a US helicopter raid from Afghanistan: 25
Number of NATO supply trucks allowed to cross from Pakistan to Afghanistan Saturday: 0
Number of Afghan children killed near Qandahar Wednesday by a US air strike: 6
Take a look at the rest of his post, for more numbers that will surely give you something to think about. The report about the children being killed is disturbing.
I’m going to move on to Israel, and the latest attempt to remove Bedouin people from land they have lived on since Biblical times. Israeli desert plan would uproot 30,000 Bedouin
Bulldozed by Israel more than two dozen times, a village known by Bedouin Arabs as Al-Arakib is one of many ramshackle desert communities whose names have never appeared on any official map.
If Israel’s parliament adopts proposed new legislation, it never will.
The plan to demolish more Bedouin homes in the southern Negev region and move 30,000 people to government-authorized villages connected to power and water lines has been hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “historic opportunity” to improve Bedouin lives.
But Israeli Arab leaders, who have long complained about discrimination against their community in the Jewish state, call it “ethnic cleansing,” and aim to thwart the project with protests, a general strike and appeals to the United Nations to intervene.
“I will never leave here, I intend to stay until I die,” said Abu-Madyam, 46, a farmer from al-Arakib.
He and his family of nine live in a makeshift plastic-sided shack in a cemetery near the ruins of their wooden home, razed by Israeli authorities last year.
This latest try at removing the Bedouin is being touted by Israelis as a move for their own good, but it looks more like it is in the Israelis best interest to kick the Bedu out of the Negev area in southern Israel. That area is prime real estate for military bases since it lies between Gaza and the occupied West Bank. This is why some Israelis feel the dominate population of Bedouin people in the area is a security risk.
For decades, Israeli governments have tried to attract Jewish Israelis to move to the Negev, offering mortgage and tax breaks, but the region has fewer opportunities for employment than in the heavily populated center of the country.
Only 20 percent of Israel’s Jewish population lives in the Negev, which covers more than 60 percent of the nation’s land area. Bedouin villages take up two percent of Negev land.
This month, Netanyahu sat down with Bedouin mayors at his office to urge them to accept the plan, which could take at least five years to implement at a cost of more than 1 billion shekels ($300 million) once legislation due to be introduced shortly becomes law.
“Our state is leaping toward the future and you need to be part of this future. We want to help you reach economic independence. This plan is designed to bring about development and prosperity,” Netanyahu told the Bedouin officials.
Now that condescending statement about forcing these people off their land for their own good is just ridiculous. The Bedouin know what is going on, and so do global human rights organizations. Amnesty International has this area of land as one of the highlights in their 2011 Annual Report on Human Rights. Amnesty International | Working to Protect Human Rights
Right to adequate housing – forced eviction
Inside Israel there was a marked increase in the demolition of Bedouin homes in the Negev (or Naqab) area in the south. Dozens of villages, home to tens of thousands of Bedouin who are Israeli citizens, are not formally recognized by the Israeli authorities. These villages lack basic services, and residents are under constant threat of destruction of their homes and eviction from the land.
- The “unrecognized” Negev village of al-’Araqib, home to around 250 Bedouin, was destroyed eight times between 27 July and 23 December by the Israel Land Administration and police forces. After each demolition, villagers rebuilt makeshift shelters.
Back to the Reuters article:
Bedouin leaders in the Negev say Israel has long discriminated against their communities, denying them public funds and services, in a bid to make their inhabitants leave.
Many of them were built, the officials said, because Israel had failed in the past to offer other housing options.
In a 2008 report on Israel’s policy toward Bedouin in the Negev, Human Rights Watch said the government “appears intent on maximizing its control over Negev land and increasing the Jewish population in the area for strategic, economic and demographic reasons.”
“The state implements forced evictions, home demolitions and other punitive measures disproportionately against Bedouin as compared with actions taken regarding structures owned by Jewish Israelis that do not conform to planning law,” the New York-based group said.
One villager, Khalil Alamour, a 42-year-old schoolteacher, interviewed in the article is planning to attend a meeting with the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, that is being held later this month in Geneva. He says:
“We’ve been around for so many years, yet they treat us as little more than numbers on a map. It’s shameful,” he said.
Like most unauthorized Bedouin villages, Al-Sira is not hooked up to Israel’s electricity grid. Alamour and his neighbors have installed their own solar panels to generate electricity, supplementing the supply with power generators.
They have run their own pipes to hook up with a regional grid to provide running water for their homes.
In the ruins of al-Arakib, Abu-Madyam vowed to hang on to land which he said was once covered by lush grapevines and bought by his grandparents more than a century ago.
“I will seek justice until my last day. I don’t have any objections to Jews living here, too, but why must I give up my own rights?” he said.
Good question…what do you think?
In the Philippines, the situation is different. There is a group of people who are planning to build their own community, separate from those who are different from they are. Philippines’ little people thinking big
People of small stature in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, have ambitions to build a new community – of small houses – on a greenfield site. It’s an unusual idea, but they are completely serious and determined to succeed.
Inspired by the books of JRR Tolkien, the Hobbit House is one of Manila’s best-known bars. There are illustrations from the Lord of the Rings on the wall, and you enter through a round wooden door, just as if you were arriving at Bilbo Baggins’ house.
But the illusion doesn’t stop there – the waiters are all under 4ft (1.2m) tall.
“Hobbit House is very unique – we only recruit little people,” says the proud manager, Pidoy Fetalino, 3ft 6in tall, who has been working at the bar for more than 30 years.
While some might question how politically correct it is, the reality is that a job at the Hobbit House is undoubtedly one of the best the staff can get.
The state does not provide much support for those who cannot find work. And with high unemployment and height restrictions…working at the Hobbit House is a good thing.
They have formed a group called the Little People’s Association of the Philippines, which meets most Saturday mornings in a ramshackle workshop at the back of a flat owned by the president, Perry Berry.
The most important item on their agenda is a radical proposal – for the entire group to move out of Manila and set up their own community.
A wealthy benefactor has donated a 6,000-square-metre (1.5-acre) piece of uncultivated land near the town of Montalban, and there they want to create a place called “Dwarf City”.
Mr Berry has a clear vision of what he wants this community to look like.
“Wow, if you can imagine it,” he says. “We’re creating a housing project designed for small people and we have to create something unique. We’re going to build houses like big mushrooms and big shoes.”
Their idea is to construct buildings tailored to their size, to represent certain themes, and they hope they will be able to earn at least part of their income through tourism.
It is interesting to compare the Bedouin and the Little People of the Philippines. The Bedu do not want to leave their home lands, they see the forced evictions as a form of ethnic cleansing. The Little People see their plan for a Drawf City as a way to build a normal life.
The little people of Manila don’t want to confine this new “Dwarf City” just to the 47 families who are current members of the association – they envisage a much bigger settlement.“I believe that a lot of small people in other provinces have an inferiority complex, and don’t want to come out,” says Mr Berry.“But if the existence of this community is well-known, I’m pretty sure they will come and join us. So this community will become bigger and bigger.”
Now for some US news…after the jump.
This next article touches on the psychology of Black Friday, especially in bad economic times. Experts: Intense marketing, weak economy, obsession with deals fueling Black Friday violence
Pepper-sprayed customers, smash-and-grab looters and bloody scenes in the shopping aisles. How did Black Friday devolve into this?
As reports of shopping-related violence rolled in this week from Los Angeles to New York, experts say a volatile mix of desperate retailers and cutthroat marketing has hyped the traditional post-Thanksgiving sales to increasingly frenzied levels. With stores opening earlier, bargain-obsessed shoppers often are sleep-deprived and short-tempered. Arriving in darkness, they also find themselves vulnerable to savvy parking-lot muggers.
Add in the online-coupon phenomenon, which feeds the psychological hunger for finding impossible bargains, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble, said Theresa Williams, a marketing professor at Indiana University.
“These are people who should know better and have enough stuff already,” Williams said. “What’s going to be next year, everybody getting Tasered?”
They just may by-pass the taser and embrace live ammunition instead.
The idea of luring in customers with a few “doorbuster” deals has long been a staple of the post-Thanksgiving sales. But now stores are opening earlier, and those deals are getting more extreme, he said.
“There’s an awful lot of psychology going on here,” Jacoby said. “There’s the notion of scarcity — when something’s scarce it’s more valued. And a resource that can be very scarce is time: If you don’t get there in time, it’s going to be gone.”
There’s also a new factor, Williams said: the rise of coupon websites like Groupon and LivingSocial, the online equivalents of doorbusters, which usually deliver a single, one-day offer with savings of up to 80 percent on museum tickets, photo portraits, yoga classes and the like.
The services encourage impulse buying and an obsession with bargains, Williams said, while also getting businesses hooked on quick infusions of customers.“The whole notion of getting a deal, that’s all we’ve seen for the last two years,” Williams said. “It’s about stimulating consumers’ quick reactions. How do we get their attention quickly? How do we create cash flow for today?”To grab customers first, some stores are opening late on Thanksgiving Day, turning bargain-hunting from an early-morning activity into an all-night slog, said Ed Fox, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Midnight shopping puts everyone on edge…
I’ll say it puts people on edge, and when you add “unbelievable” deals when folks have less to spend, desperation triggers a fanatical reaction to toasters.
One Economist, Robert Frank is proposing a 6% Thanksgiving Sale tax on items sold between 6pm Thursday evening to 6am Friday morning. Hmmm…that would make it a 666 plan, it may make the devil happy but I can see folks like Gretchen Carlson dissing the “Damian” plan left and right.
Some of you may have seen this next link: Barbara Hannah Grufferman: Why Post50 Women Will Lead the “Occupy ERA” Movement
Most women over 50 I know are displeased — to put it mildly — that the Equal Rights Amendment is still not a permanent part of our U.S. Constitution. Every year it is introduced to Congress, and every year it sits and languishes, even though there are many supportive groups trying to push it along.
That’s all about to change.
Women over 50 have experienced — firsthand — what gender inequality can do, making us uniquely qualified to lead the younger generation into battle. We just need to dig deep down inside ourselves to find that passionate belief that women and men are equal, and should be viewed as such in the eyes of the law… and once we do, there will be no holding us back.
And I think this is the group of women that stand the best chance of getting the younger generation of women moving towards protecting their rights. And what is the status of the Equal Rights Amendment?
The Equal Rights Amendment, first proposed in 1923 by Alice Paul, to affirm that women and men have equal rights under the law, is a simply stated sentence which no man or woman with a sense of justice and fairness should be against:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
There are two main strategies for getting the Equal Rights Amendment passed at this time:
- The ERA was passed out of Congress in 1972 and has been ratified by 35 of the necessary 38 states. When three more states vote yes, it is possible that the ERA could become the 28th Amendment. However, that would mean passing the HJ Res. 47 Resolution, which would ask Congress to waive the time limit.
- The ERA could also be ratified by restarting the traditional process of passage by a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, followed by ratification by legislatures in three-quarters (38) of the 50 states.
There are some who may believe the ERA is an outdated concept put forth by the original vanguard of the women’s movement in the 1960s, and one that is no longer relevant. The truth, in fact, is quite the opposite. It has never been more important, essential and urgent than it is now. Women continue to be undervalued, underemployed, and underpaid — across all sectors — compared with their male counterparts. This must be changed.
Grufferman narrows the problem down to one thing…
Complacency will kill the Equal Rights Amendment, and so will thinking it’s no longer relevant. Just as important, we need to change the tone of the discourse. Let’s stop thinking about equality in terms of us against them, left vs. right, conservative vs. liberal, men vs. women. Reframe the issue of the Equal Rights Amendment and ask yourself this question:
Is it the right thing to do?
And, consider this: Can a country that prides itself as the leader and protector of democracy in the world, and one which implores other countries to include the word “women” in their constitutions (Afghanistan and Iraq), still not protect the rights of women in its own?
She ends the article with a call to arms, so to speak:
Post50 Women . . . here’s what we need to do:
- Share this article on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
- Become mentors to the next generation of women
- Read up on both strategies (starting over and the three-state solution).
- Contact your local government representative and urge them to co-sponsor “HJ Res 47: Removing the Deadline for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.”
- Visit United4Equality.com and “friend” them on Facebook and join the “Equal Rights Amendment by 2015” campaign.
- Contact your local NOW chapter, and get involved.
- Go to Facebook pages ERA Now, ERA Once and For All, Occupy ERA, and Equal Rights Amendment to get up-to-date information.
. . . and lastly, raise your voice, loud and clear, and don’t stop until the Equal Rights Amendment is fact . . . instead of fantasy.
From women’s rights…to Waffle House…there is no way to segue into this next article. Now I love Waffle House, living in the south you can find a Waffle House on every corner, in fact…in Dawsonville GA there is a Waffle House on two corners opposite each other at a busy intersection. And they both get plenty of business. At Waffle Houses, a Side of Drama With Breakfast
Waffle House, a ubiquitous chain of yellow-roofed diners, is as much a fixture of Southern life as the grits, hash browns and crispy waffles that it serves all day, every day, even on Christmas. In Georgia, where the 1,600-store chain originated, it is hard to find an Interstate exit without the restaurant’s yellow block-letter sign nearby.
In the Atlanta area alone, there are 230 locations, all offering heaping portions, strong coffee and jukeboxes that play songs about Waffle House. And federal emergency officials even use what they call the Waffle House Index to determine how severe natural disasters are in the South. If a local Waffle House is closed, along with a Home Depot or a Wal-Mart, it indicates a longer recovery process.
But in recent weeks, bad news has kept coming for the restaurant chain.
You may remember the arrest of four older men in North Georgia, that plotted a terrorist attack at their local Waffle House. And then the politician in Florida, who got the brilliant idea of doing away with “sparky” the electric chair and replacing it with a firing squad.
Last month, when a Florida state representative was ridiculed for proposing that death row inmates be killed by electrocution or firing squad, he said the idea had come from a constituent he met at — you guessed it — a Waffle House.
There has also been a rash of burglaries in recent months…Sgt. Dana Pierce of Cobb County, Georgia says:
It is easy to see why they can become targets for criminals, he said. “They are cash-driven,” he said. “They are near Interstate exits. And they are open 24 hours, when people aren’t necessarily in a sober state of mind.”
Well, Kid Rock is known to frequent Waffle Houses after a show…there must be something in the coffee they serve that makes people so passionate about the little yellow and black diner that serves up some of the best waffles in town.
And now, we come to the last part of the Sunday Post…
From Minx’s Missing Link File: When I was a kid, I studied ballet…even got to a point where I was going to audition for ABT. So, I had to read any book on ballet, and this was one of the books in my collection. ‘A Very Young Dancer’ and the Life That Followed
Lynn Donaldson for The New York Times
IN the fall of 1976 “A Very Young Dancer” leaped into the imaginations of a generation of little girls. This children’s book by the photographer Jill Krementz chronicled the day-to-day life of a 10-year-old student from the School of American Ballet, following her to class and through her starring role as Marie in New York City Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” for which she was handpicked by George Balanchine himself.
For anyone who’s read the classic book, it’s easy to see why it was a best seller. Stephanie’s intensity — her beauty, her dark eyes and her seriousness — draws the reader in. The stark black and white lends some of the photos a Grimm’s fairy tale quality, with a haunted undertow that appeals to girls. And it offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the most prestigious ballet academy in the country, which has an almost mystical quality for aspiring ballerinas.
During the later 70’s the movie The Turning Point came out, and dancers like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, and Cynthia Gregory…who I was fortunate enough to take classes from…brought ballet in America to an international level.
Fans of the book might have assumed that Stephanie went on to an adult ballet career as well. But like countless other young dancers in professional children’s schools, Stephanie saw her career end in adolescence, a time of rebellion and discovery. Most move on to other interests. But for Stephanie leaving the school was filled with shame and secrecy. Finding her new place in the world — after the attention that came with the book — was a long and painful journey littered with troubled relationships and financial struggles, with moments of deep darkness and depression.
It is a compelling story, and a long one. Be sure to give it some time…
In addition to this article about what happened to “A Very Young Dancer,” there is a New York Times Book Review that you may find interesting. Book Review – Apollo’s Angels – A History of Ballet – By Jennifer Homans
It has never been done, what Jennifer Homans has done in “Apollo’s Angels.” She has written the only truly definitive history of the most impossibly fantastic art form, ballet, this most refined, most exquisite art of “aristocratic etiquette,” this “science of behavior toward others,” as a 17th-century ballet master put it, in which lovely young women perch upon their 10 little toe tips (actually, it is really just the two big toes that alternately support the entire body’s weight: think about it) and waft about where the air is thinner — but heaven is closer. She has taken this world where wilis, virgins, sylphs, sleeping princesses, the “women in white” embody the eternal — the eternally unattainable — and set it into the fabric of world history, and we see, miraculously, their pale tulle and satin pointes peeking out from the crevices of war, of revolutions, of political machinations, and on the stages of the monarchies and empires of the kings and czars who gave birth to this improbable art.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: Sticking with Russia for a bit more… Russian royalty pictures are up for grabs at an auction being held in Geneva on December 12th.
Tsar Nicolas II with his family
It’s hard to imagine the tragedy of the Romanov family when one is looking at these historical shots capturing Tsar Nicolas II, his wife and children, happy and full of hope.
Over 300 exclusive photographs of the imperial family brutally murdered in 1918 are to go under the hammer in Switzerland. Some rare pictures even bear unique royal autographs.
A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. But sought-after photos can be worth a thousand dollars.
The rich selection of unpublished historical images belonged to Ferdinand Thormeyer, the Swiss tutor of the aristocratic family.
And one last link for you….again keeping with Russia as the subject, Catherine The Great – Portrait of a Woman – By Robert K. Massie – Book Review
Yes, another book review from the New York Times, since it is the holiday season they always have some interesting book reviews, and this one is no exception. Massie, who brought us Nicholas and Alexandra, has now written a definitive book about Catherine The Great.
How delightful to discover that Robert K. Massie, 82 years old, hasn’t lost his mojo. At a heft befitting its subject, his long-awaited “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman” is a consistently nimble and buoyant performance, defying what might in a lesser writer’s hands prove a deadly undertow of exhaustively researched historical facts. Of course, Massie, who has spent almost half a century studying czarist Russia, has always been a biographer with the instincts of a novelist. He understands plot — fate — as a function of character, and the narrative perspective he establishes and maintains, a vision tightly aligned with that of his subject, convinces a reader he’s not so much looking at Catherine the Great as he is out of her eyes.
This is one of the books on my wish list…doesn’t is sound good?
So, that is all I have for you today…hope you enjoy your last day of the Thanksgiving Weekend, and I’ll catch you later in the comments.