Friday, November 28, 2008

Shame On You Jacques Rogge


The International Olympic Committee has released a review of the Beijing Games that gushes over how well China ran the games. It even says that China made great improvements in the areas of press freedom and the environment.

It completely ignores that there were major human rights violations during the Games themselves, with the government arresting anyone who tried to protest or even applied to demonstrate in one of the "protest areas" set up by officials. For the record, also ignored by the I.O.C., not one single person was given permission to demonstrate in those designated areas. Many who applied were instead sent off to reeducation camps, including two elderly women.

Even the claim of improvement in press freedom is a lie, with access to web sites blocked and many incidents of journalists being harassed by authorities.

The I.O.C. said that giving the Olympics to Beijing would improve human rights there and bring China into the mainstream.

It didn't.

But the I.O.C., taking a page from the George W. Bush playbook, just issues a report claiming that that's what happened, so no problem.

It is bad enough that the International Olympic Committee has turned the original spirit of the Olympic Games into a corporate whore full of bribery and corruption. Now they also capitulate to evil regimes like a 21st-century version of Vichy France.

I.O.C. president Jacques Rogge is an evil man, interested in his own power and prestige than the rights of his fellow human beings. While human rights violations were happening in the midst of the Beijing Games, the only thing he ever really spoke out on was to bitch about the way some kid was celebrating after races.

It's all about priorities, eh Jacques?

This was the final straw for me. I really used to like watching the Olympics, but I certainly won't ever again after this fiasco.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bad Craziness in Mumbai

At this point in the morning I should be jamming clothes into a weekend bag in preparation for my trip up to D.C. in order to partake in the culinary family festivities which I loathe so much, but I feel compelled to bang this out as a sort of know, just in case I get bumrushed by some overzealous jarhead in his SUV on 95 North 'round Quantico, VA.

At this writing no one is really sure what the terrorists ransacking Mumbai want or whom in particular they are targeting. We know that about 100 hostages have been killed and that upwards of 300 are injured. There have been no demands yet. And most "experts" looking at the trend, seem to find no preliminary connection to Al-Qaida. Although reports of sequestering "Westerners" based on their passports have been coming in, an equal amount of questions regarding the dispute of Kashmir has been floating around the buzzing news outlets.

The half-century struggle for control of Kashmir between India and Pakistan is a complicated issue---one that for some odd reason has interested me for a while. To try to simply break it down into black and white might do no justice to history or to the Indian and Pakistani people, but since I'm paid no stipend for this, and since there's no tyrannical Managing Editor to hold my livelihood over my head, I'll attempt a quick and dirty version here.

In 1947 when the Brits high-tailed it out of India (and the region), the Hindu and Muslim states had a choice to make. Hindu provinces aligned themselves with India while Muslim territories amalgamated into Pakistan. The Kashmir region (northwest of India and northeast of Pakistan) was predominantly a Muslim inhabited land. However, it was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja who pledged allegiance to India. Three organized wars were fought over Kashmir; one in 1947, another in 1965, and the last in 1999. Currently, India has control of about half the area of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir; Pakistan controls a third of the region, the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. To complicate things, there's a third angle to this. There are separatists pining for an independent state. These boys aren't necessarily well-organized, but nevertheless they're working hard to see their version of the dream come true. And to throw one more little detail into the whole messy pot: both India and Pakistan have nuKular weapons.

I suppose an omniscient "to be continued" would be an appropriate close here, as details of this terrorist action are still coming in and the story is developing. Is this the prophetic action the White House and the McPalin campaign warned the incoming administration would have to face in order to be tested? What we do know is that Obama is mulling over the appointment of Bubba Clinton as some sort of official envoy to the Kashmir region. Maybe preliminary word of this has stirred the separatist faction, and what we're seeing is an extremely organized attempt to derail future talks or negotiations between India and Pakistan. Maybe.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the jive turkeys reading this site, when they should all be with their warring, bitching uncles and grandparents, stuffed with tryptophan and shaking their fists at some crooked college zebra who just made a bullshit holding call.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Holidays Are Upon Us

Truly, the news cycle is generally slow. When the number one story on Countdown is Olbermann's visit on the Martha Stewart show, there's really not much going on.

Oh sure, there's activity: We have a president-elect determined to ride the middle way, and he may just be crazy enough to do it. The Cabinet's being picked; the economy does its silly little dance; all of these big companies lining up for the government dole; and everybody is essentially bracing for the madness to begin when January 20th rolls around.

There are little gems to be found. For example, tired of hearing all of the center-right nonsense? Here are the results of a Media Matters report subtitled "Why Conservative America Is A Myth;" and the results of another study showing the spike in the phrase "Center-Right Nation" in the printed media since the election of Barack Obama.

Doldrums. These be they.

It's the holidays...Things are bound to pick up after New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bailed Out Corporations Still Spending Millions on Sports

Despite billions in taxpayer handouts...uh, bailouts from the (averted gaze) Socialist government, Citibank and AIG will continue to flush down millions of dollars on big sports naming rights, logo placements, and sponsorships.

Citi, which recently axed 53,000 workers (you wouldn't know it from its gigantic "We're Hiring" sign on its building along Rt. 40 in Burlington, NC), and saw its stock price lose over half its value, is in a 20-year contract to pay the New York Mets $400 million to name the team's new stadium "Citi Field." And insurance giant AIG is paying the British soccer team Manchester United $125 million for the privilege of having its logo appear on Man U's uniforms. That, despite the fact the firm is standing largely thanks to a $150 billion lifeline from the U.S. Treasury.

From ABC News online:
"A spokesman for AIG confirmed that its sponsorship deal with Manchester United remains in place, but that the company is 'reviewing all sponsorships to identify any relationship that might be essential, to maintain the value of the business and service customers, so we can repay the [government] loan.'

Citicorp is not reviewing its deal with the Mets, chief financial officer Gary Crittenden said in an interview Monday. Crittenden told CNBC the contract was 'legal and binding' and 'not an issue.'"


This kind of business model warms the cockles of my almost lifeless, Mr. Burns-like heart. It's good to know these corporations are at least consistent in their awful decision-making processes and by now we've pretty much read the umpteenth version of the script, so we know how it's all going to end. Might as well leave the theatre now and skip out on the denouement in favour of a hefty pint at your nearest pub. Drowning your sorrows is de rigueur at HolidayTime.

And this brings to the table the issue of a bailout for the auto industry and what kind of decisions the Big 3 would make, given a hefty 25, 35, howevermany billions. As you well know, I am vehemently opposed to the rescue package, knowing full well that over 2.7 million jobs potentially stand to be lost (jobs that could be filled given the invention and inception of new technology for fuel-less, non-electric cars). But just last week I spoke with a colleague---a Michigan transplant and a former GM employee---whose father and grandfather are retired from a lifetime of work for the auto giants, and whose various uncles and cousins are still lucky enough to have jobs within the industry. She and her family are unequivocally against this rescue package, fully realizing that auto industry CEOs will mis-spend the loan and "regular blue collar people" (her words) will lose their jobs eventually, as GM, Ford, and the rest of them will move their operations overseas (see GM's new SUV plant just opened in St. Petersburg, Russia).

Just common sense from a family who would be impacted directly by the failure of the industry and who recognizes the bailout as merely a band-aid to a fatal, hemorrhaging wound.