Monday, 28 April 2008

Goya's Ghosts

Above: Don Manuel Osorio de Zuñiga, by Goya

We've just seen the 2006 movie, Goya's Ghosts, by Milos Forman. It is very well-done, historically accurate, and tasteful in its portrayal of the Spanish Inquisition, and its effects on the life of Don Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, popularly known as Goya. It is a tragic story, about which I shall not comment here, because the film, Goya's Ghosts, is a voyage of discovery, and I avoid spoiling the adventure for prospective viewers. Now that Goya's Ghosts is available on Pay-per-View, your chances of seeing it are good. For more than a year, I attempted to purchase it.
Here is a video about it Goya's Ghosts
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes is my favorite painter. In the late 1980s, I saw a show of his political drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Through watching this film, I discovered more about just what a fine person he was: an altruistic, humane gentleman.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

President Sarkozy Reminds Us that Turkey is Not a Part of Europe...

...and therefore opposes its joining the European Union.

On the 24th of April, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France reaffirmed his opposition to Turkey joining the European Union, and said he would order a referendum on Turkish membership if necessary.
The president's comments came a day after his government said that it would scrap an amendment to its constitution that requires France to hold a referendum on any expansion of the EU.
"I have always been opposed to the entry of Turkey" into the EU, he said in a television interview. "Turkey is not in Europe," Mr. Sarkozy declared.
President Sarkozy said that if Turkey's proposed membership in the EU became a serious issue while he was president he would call a referendum.
But Nicolas Sarkozy is against holding automatic referendums each time a new member joins the EU. The cabinet approved plans yesterday to change the constitution so that France does not have to hold a public vote each time a new European country wants to join the EU.
"If tomorrow the Swiss want to come into Europe, we are not going to contest the fact that they are Europeans" and hold a referendum, President Sarkozy said.
"You cannot have a France that tells its 26 European partners 'excuse us, we cannot decide anything because of the referendum.'"
Sarkozy has often said that Turkey, a country what has begun having talks with the EU about joining, "does not belong in Europe", arguing that most of its land mass is in Asia. Polls indicate that the majority of French citizens support President Sarkozy's position.

Turkey, which does a lot of business with Europe, has historically been considered the Near East or Asia Minor ("mikrasia" in Greek).

Health-Care Solution

Want to get the U.S. "health-care" system out of critical condition?
Don't force people to buy "health insurance"--a misnomer if there ever was one; it's more aptly called health gambling--like Hillary Clinton proposes to do.
Simply send the whole notion of health insurance to the ash-heap of history!
Start over from there.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

David Bradley, Winter War Correspondent, Dies at Age 92

OBITUARY: David Bradley - Last Surviving Winter War Correspondent
By René Söderman
(The writer is the Finnish Consul in Los Angeles)

David Bradley, who became known to Finns as a correspondent covering the Winter War, died on January 7th at his home in Norway, Maine in the United States. Bradley was 92 years old. He was born on February 22nd, 1915.
Bradley was an influential figure in the United States. In addition to serving as a war correspondent in Finland, he also worked as a US military doctor in the United States, and as a state legislator in New Hampshire.

Bradley was the last living foreign correspondent who had covered the Winter War. About 100 foreign journalists were stationed in Helsinki in January 1940, living and working in the Hotel Kämp. Bradley reported on the war for the American Lee Syndicate and the Wisconsin State Journal.
"When the war was over and the armistice signed, the entire press disappeared. The story had gone away", Bradley recalled the end of the Winter War.
"The Finns had to clear up the mess, repair the destruction, settle the refugees, prepare for what was still to come."
After the Winter War Bradley studied medicine at Harvard University and went to serve in the US military. In 1946 he was sent to the Pacific to take radiological measurements at Bikini Atoll.
Bradley was among the first American scientists to warn Americans about the health hazards of nuclear radiation. His diary No Place to Hide (1948) was the most important statement of its time on behalf of world peace.

Bradley left the military and continued to work against nuclear armament in his speeches and his writings.
He was elected to the House of Representatives of the State of New Hampshire, where he served from 1955 to 1959, and again from 1973 to 1975. He returned to Finland to teach the English language and American Literature at the University of Helsinki from 1960 to 1962. He wrote a book, Lion among Roses about his experiences in Finland.

Sports were Bradley's great passion - especially combined skiing. As a senior in high school, he won the US championship in the event, and was chosen for the 1940 US Winter Olympic team. However, the games were cancelled when the Second World War broke out.
Bradley served as the manager of the US combined team at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley.

From Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 18.2.2008
The writer, René Söderman, is the Finnish Consul in Los Angeles

Fire and Ice, the Documentary on Finland's Winter War with Russia, by Ben Strout

Happy 80th Birthday, Shirley Temple Black!

I like to recognize people while they are still with us. Shirley Temple was a brilliant child actress, the equal of which the world has not seen since her years on the screen. As an adult, she was an ambassador...Biography on Wikipedia

VIDEO on YouTube

Shirley Temple Breaks Arm on Birthday Eve (I'm praying for her swift recovery):
Army Archerd

You can buy DVDs at The Official Shirley Temple Website

Saturday, 19 April 2008

TeliaSonera News

France Telecom is interested in a takeover of the Swedish-Finnish
telecoms operator, TeliaSonera.

My Husband on O'Reilly Factor

The segment was about 60s actress and animal activist Brigitte Bardot. My husband knew her and her husband in St. Tropez, where he used to live. Jack didn't get a chance to explain that the ritual of slaughtering animals on a certain Moslem holiday is in honor of Abraham, a figure whom Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have in common.

Getting a Word in Edgewise

Shirley Temple in The Little Colonel

Photos: Twentieth Century Fox

From Twentieth Century Fox, photos of Shirley Temple with her co-stars: the talented dancer and actor, a friend whom she calls "Uncle Bill (Bojangles)" Robinson, and Lionel Barrymore.
The Little Colonel

Friday, 18 April 2008

Atonement: a Misnomer

Atonement, the movie, that is. It's a pompous name for a period-piece rife with anachronisms and full of idiotic gimmicks. And, speaking of time, it has a queer device that scatters time-frames without warning. The story itself is so laborious and slow that maybe the jumping back-and-forth in time in haphazard fashion WAS DESIGNED TO KEEP ONE AWAKE. It certainly didn't do anything to enhance the story. My husband lost interest at a juncture that was surely supposed to increase our interest (the scenes of war), but then again the anachronistic conceits involved with that portrayal were so egregious that they infuriated and distracted us. If you're not well-versed in history, or new to the cinema, it's possible that you could find a kernel of intrigue in Atonement. I'd say rent it just for an example of a bad movie, but it would be more aptly recommended as a sleep-aid. The most offensive thing about the movie is its ending, when a self-indulgent main character does anything but atone. The whole premise, "I saw something I didn't understand", when applied to the two seminal dramatic incidents in the movie by its ostensible protagonist, is limp and disingenuous--since there was nothing to misunderstand in the first place. The girl was just jealous of her sister, and inspired to selfish wickedness because of it. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and that is something that the producers of this failed flick didn't grasp. And, contrary to what was suggested by the last scene, in which the self-indulgent main character is speaking, writing a fantasy book ex post facto will never qualify as "atonement".

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

France Officially Discourages Anorexia and Scourge of the Purge

Paris - On Tuesday, April 14th, the French National Assembly adopted a bill that makes it a crime to encourage anorexia or extreme thinness through websites, magazines and advertisements. France has between 30,000 and 40,000 active anorexics, according to deputy Valerie Boyer, who is the author of the bill.

French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot said that the legislation ought to help stop pro-anorexia messages disseminated on the Internet.

"Encouraging young women to lie to their doctors, advising them on foods that are easier to regurgitate and inciting them to beat themselves up each time they eat is not freedom of expression," Bachelot said during the lawmaking process.
"These messages are death messages. Our country must be able to prosecute those who are hiding behind these websites," the Health Minister said.
The measure must now win approval from the Senate to be enacted and enforceable. Offenders could face jail sentences of up to two years and 30,000 euros (47,387 dollars) in fines.
Moreover, a three-year jail term and 45,000 euros in fines could be sought against offenders if the encouragement of anorexia leads to death.
The vote in the lower house came about one week after the French fashion industry signed a charter to promote healthy body images in magazine ads and on the catwalks of Paris, fashion capital of the world.
The French fashion-industry charter sets forth guidelines, but doesn't actually impose restrictions, unlike the charter in Spain, which has a limit on the lowest permitted weight for catwalk models.


Sunday, 13 April 2008

Steve Forbes Speaks at Princeton University

The talk by economist, publisher and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes was sponsored by the Princeton College Republicans.
Article, Daily Princetonian

People in Small Planes Dropping Like Flies from the Skies, Continued

A Twin-engine plane from San Diego crashed into two houses in Los Angeles yesterday. This is just another incident in my continuing seen here.

Vernon Jordan Bobs up in the Clinton Cramp-Pain

If you've been wondering where Bill Clinton's old golfing buddy has gone, here's an article in Newsweek by Howard Fineman:

April 14th, Newsweek--finally outing the participation of Vernon Jordan in the Clinton cramp-pain*

*Yes, that is my original phrase.

Queen Rania al Abdullah Launches Diplomatic YouTube Site

Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan

"Send me your stereotypes". ~~Her Majesty Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan seeks to advance cross-cultural understanding and to send outdated ethnic stereotypes to the ash-heap of history. The Royal Hashemite Kingdom continues its customary tasteful goodwill and diplomacy. It's a brave thing Her Royal Majesty is doing, given the current climate of coarseness on the internet, where all manner of unqualified and bigoted opinions are aired. Queen Rania of Jordan is opening the proverbial Pandora's box in order to encourage cross-cultural understanding. Brava!


Saturday, 12 April 2008

Happy Birthday, Christopher Hitchens

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hitchens!

April 13th, 2008

Friday, 11 April 2008

John McCain: No Carpetbagger

In 1982, John McCain ran as a Republican for an open seat in Arizona's 1st congressional district. As a newcomer to the state, although having married Arizonan Cindy*, McCain was hit with repeated charges of being a carpetbagger. John McCain responded to a voter making the charge with what a Phoenix Gazette columnist would later label as "the most devastating response to a potentially troublesome political issue I've ever heard":

Listen, pal, I spent 22 years in the Navy. My father was in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. We have to live in all parts of the country, all parts of the world. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the First District of Arizona, but I was doing other things. As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.

*Editor's Note: unlike Mrs. Clinton, who carpetbagged her way to a U.S. senate seat in NY state without marrying a native of NY, the apellation "carpetbagger" had no basis in fact when applied to John McCain, since Mrs. McCain lived in Arizona.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Ledra Street Re-Opened and Re-Closed in One Day

The "No Man's Land", UN-patrolled section of Ledra Street, in the world's last divided capital, Nicosia,Cyprus, was closed in 1963. In an effort towards gradual reunification of the island's Turkish and Greek Cypriot populations, an agreement was reached in March to reopen the border section of Ledra Street today. The opening was feted by both sides with speeches and balloons. However, when Turkish police, having crossed into newly-opened territory, began patrolling the street, the Greek Cypriot side decided that the action violated the terms of the agreement and closed the crossing. The street was closed in 1963 by the British officials who ran the colonial government of Cyprus. The native Cypriots of Turkish heritage, who have lived only in the northern third of the island since Turkey invaded in 1974 to stop ENOSIS, a coup that attempted to unite the eastern Mediterranean island with Greece, used to call Ledra Street "Lokmaci" street, the Turkish name for a deep-fried, sugared dumpling that is popular all over Cyprus (Greek: "lokmades"). There used to be shops making the dessert snack on Ledra Street, as there still are elsewhere in Nicosia. Ledra is the ancient name for Nicosia, the capital city on an island which has historically been conquered and settled by Venetians, Lusignans, Greeks and Turks. People of different ethnic heritages historically coexisted peacefully in Cyprus until about 1960.
I once attended a lecture, at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy, by Christopher Hitchens, an intellectual giant who has written extensively on the Cyprus problem and also wrote a book about the controversial Elgin Marbles.
Since 2003, there have been four or five openings of areas at the border between Northern and Greek Cyprus, in an effort to reunite the island so that both sides could join the European Union. The chronic complications have always been wrought by the fact of Turkey having brought in settlers in 1974's invasion, forced the majority Greek-heritage population out of their homes, houses plundered, stolen, and innocent people murdered. People's relatives were left behind, too, and some imprisoned. This devastating situation is one that is difficult to rectify, even when the best intentions are currently in mind on both sides. I've been to the beautiful island of Cyprus six times. The Greek side is extremely well-to-do, thanks to tourism and the industrious nature of the people, most of whom speak English as well as Greek. Great Britain maintains a sovereign base there, complete with polo fields. British author Lawrence Durrell spent three years on Cyprus, in a beautiful area now occupied by Turks. He wrote a book called Bitter Lemons about the period.
Cyprus was the setting of Shakespeare's Othello. I saw the Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi's opera of the same story about the Moor, who was played by Placido Domingo. In the play, Cyprus was referred to as "the green and gold leaf tossed into the sea". Its name comes from the Greek for copper, "kypros".

~~M-J de M.

Article and Video in Le Monde

Turkish and Greek Cypriot authorities re-opened late Thursday the Ledra Gate to crossings in either direction after officials from the UN peace force held talks with the two sides. The brief closure of the gate on the evening of the opening ceremony showed how fragile the situation is and how quickly problems could emerge. The re-opening came after protesters gathered on the two "sides" to protest the closing of the gate.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Tax-Rates of Clinton and Bush

Taxes Under President Clinton – 1999

Single, making $30,000 – $3,157.50 in taxes

Single, making $50,000 – $7,262.50 in taxes

Married, making $50,000 – $5,085 in taxes

Single, making $75,000 – $14,262.50 in taxes

Married, making $75,000 – $9,426.50 in taxes

Single, making $125,000 – $29,378.50 in taxes

Married, making $125,000 – $23,426.50 in taxes

Taxes Under President Bush – 2008

Single, making $30,000 – $2,756.25 in taxes

Single, making $50,000 – $6,606.25 in taxes

Married, making $50,000 – $4,012.50 in taxes

Single, making $75,000 – $12,856.25 in taxes

Married, making $75,000 – $7,762.50 in taxes

Single, making $125,000 – $26,472.25 in taxes

Married, making $125,000 – $19,462.50 in taxes

Governor Richardson Responds to the Personal Attacks

Loyalty to My Country

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Fed-Up Zimbabwe Says "Bye Bye" to Bobby Mugabe

Hallelujah. Finally some good news for Zimbabwe, where inflation is astronomical, and one of the left's favorite dictators has seen his dastardly day.

Some of Them Don't Even Seem to Have Any Blood to Give

By Joe Noory of ¡No Pasarán!

President Sarkozy May Send Hundreds of Soldiers to Afghanistan

President Sarkozy is planning to reveal details of proposed French troop-reinforcements for the NATO forces in Afghanistan, Prime Minister François Fillon reported today. The announcement will be made, it is said, at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit in Bucharest, sometime between Wednesday and Friday.