Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Playing Olympic Repression

Amnesty International
Beijing authorities' broken promises jepordize Olympic Legacy
'By continuing to persecute and punish those who speak out for human rights, the Chinese authorities have lost sight of the promises they made when they were granted the Games seven years ago,' said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific deputy director at a press conference in Hong Kong. 'The Chinese authorities are tarnishing the legacy of the Games. They must release all imprisoned peaceful activists, allow foreign and national journalists to report freely and make further progress towards the elimination of the death penalty.'

Amnesty International Deutschland
Menschenrechte bleiben auf der Strecke
Am 8. August 2008 beginnt das größte Sportereignis der Welt: Die 29. Olympischen Sommerspiele in Peking. 10.500 Athleten werden um Gold, Silber und Bronze kämpfen, 25.000 Journalisten über die Wettkämpfe berichten, Millionen Menschen werden sie am Fernseher verfolgen. Doch während die Welt zu Gast in China ist, erleben viele Tausende Chinesen die Kehrseite der Medaille: Sie sitzen im Gefängnis, in Umerziehungslagern oder stehen unter Hausarrest, und das nur, weil sie sich für Menschenrechte wie Meinungs- und Religionsfreiheit eingesetzt haben. Bei der Vergabe der Olympischen Spiele hatte die chinesische Regierung noch eine Verbesserung der Menschrechtslage versprochen. Doch schon seit Monaten gehen die chinesischen Behörden verstärkt gegen Menschenrechtsaktivisten vor. Und das nicht trotz, sondern gerade wegen der Sommerspiele.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rehabilitating Mom

So, the Berlin mom made it to the rehab center, specialized, as it turns out, on post-treatment for oncology patients, and is doing fine. It also turned out the whole thing was her own idea, though with some mysterious caveat that it's what everyone says you have to do. Anyhow, they're massaging her swollen feet, not bothering her unduly, she's going for walks, refusing any and everything she's never done before, and went on a short bike ride around the gigantic estate with us on Sunday when we visited, ate lunch there and played some cards in the afternoon with her. Of course she's counting the days until she can go home, the day before her birthday. Then comes that event and at the end of the month Lea's first day of school, a true German ceremony and total family celebration.
And here's a link to the beautiful facility Edith decided to spend three weeks in.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama's Speech at the Siegessäule in Berlin

Difficult to get good pics in such a crowd, but hopefully these give some idea of the pheonomenon of Obama speaking to a crowd of some 200,000 people in front of the Siegessäule in Berlin yesterday evening.

Again, his speech impressed with rhetoric and the clear ability to think he demonstrates in his observations and appeals.
That he admitted past US failures and shortcomings, appealed for cooperation rather than confrontation, demanded respect for and promotion of the rule of law and justice as well as an end to torture and nuclear weapons was all very welcome after the dismay Europe has felt at the playpen's manner.

It was amazing how many people endured the intense security checks to enter the near perimeter. It took us from our arrival at just before 4pm until just after 5pm to make it through. The speech didn't begin until about 7:20pm, so there was a lot of standing and waiting as the crowd continued to grow, but the mood was always very pleasant. The stands for the press circus (CNN with white-clad Armanpour and Fox with black jacketed slick haired guy, for example) helped provide entertainment for the wait.

Here, a link to the full text of the speech, and the pertinent video from youtube/obama:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obama Prepares to Take Berlin

US-Wahl: Medienliebling Obama Nachrichten auf ZEIT ONLINE:
Verliebt in Obama
VON SILKE TITTEL © ZEIT online 23.7.2008 - 16:48 Uhr
Barack Obamas gut inszenierte Auslandsreise bekommt Beifall von allen Seiten, während John McCain daheim verzweifelt nach Aufmerksamkeit heischt. Dabei steht
der Höhepunkt noch bevor: Berlin!

My translation of this first paragraph from the cited article in Die Zeit:
In Love With Obama
BO's well staged foreign tour is reaping applause from all sides, while back home JMcC is desperately trying to get attention. And the climax is yet to come: Berlin!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Home Again

1. Weather cooler and rainier than what we left behind in Ireland, but they're threatening with 30°+ again by the weekend.

2. Schools are out for summer holidays, so the city is calmer and has less traffic than usual.

3. The Berlin mom is packing for her rehab of 3 weeks beginning tomorrow and let us take her out to lunch today.

4. Obama is going to deliver his European speech here at the Siegessäule, a very fitting location for as many as possible to get to see him. But bushbaby-sliming Angie, who first criticized the idea of him speaking at the Brandenburg Gate, now is popping buttons and claiming this to be a politically incorrect location as it stands for Prussian victory over France in 1871 (as if she'd have preferred a victory of the Communards!), finally making clear to the last idiot in town that she's simply playpenally averse to Obama speaking anywhere and would prefer a mccanny playpen substitute if she can't stay stuffed up the back end of a bushbaby.

5. We're looking forward to seeing and hearing him speak here, a wonderful chance for Europe to see there's a good America to root for and for expat Americans to see the candidate of change up close.

6. We still have a few more days before the daily trot reconvenes.

7. The Siegessäule is by now primarily and simply a symbol of the wonderful city of Berlin.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It Doesn't Rain in Ireland

Even today, as they predicted showers and fog, we had the sun shining down on us and blue skies up above (ok, with some clouds, too, but that's fine) in the old port town of Youghal (pronouned yawl) and ate a truly fine meal of fish in the inn our B&B host here in Cork had recommended to us at breakfast. Now it's too hot to go out, so we're resting till later in the evening for another walk in town. Tomorrow will allow leisurely preparation for a late afternoon/early evening flight home.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blarney is NOT baloney

As it says on a sign in the castle there, Blarney is highly varnished truth; baloney, an unvarnished lie; Blarney, flattery thinly applied and appreciated; baloney, flattery spread so thickly as to be disgusting.
I might add, Blarney seems to have more to do with style and baloney with that strange lunch meat circle my mother put in our sandwiches when we were kids.
Anyway, only my nose smacked the stone well, my lips by association, as my gab needs no improvement.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ring of Kerry

Well, we must be doing something right, since even today for our trip out around the whole ring of Kerry we had mild warm weather and partly sunny to partly cloudy skies! An absolutely beautiful experience, revisiting the fern cliffs we met on Aran in Scotland and in la Bretagne, the cliffs of Ouessant, but, 'tis true, Ireland's (Kerry's) are the greenest.

And here is a link to the photos of the day, of which only one is being posted directly here, the two (in)famous Skelling islands.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another beautiful day

Out on the second morning to the picturesque harbor town of Cobh with colorful houses and a broken harbor tour boat. So we dropped into the mansion in Fotah on the way back in before a fabulous lunch at the Olde English Market in Cork. Detti even ate tripe and drisheen!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Beginning Cork...

On time arrival yesterday evening, and a morning/early afternoon stroll about town to get the feel of this Irish town. Very nice B&B room & host, breakfast, "soft" weather to some sun, enjoyable, and out again later.
And some first photos for the folks...

Cork vacation

Thursday, July 10, 2008

And now to be seen in a cinema near you...

Just a brief slideshow of pix so far with sis...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Briefly noted...

... with more to follow, but so far the itinerary accomplished:
1. airport pickup uneventful and sister stable
2. sightseeing to Kladow and Italian restaurant late lunch (no cards!) enjoyable
3. lunch with Edith (German food - no cards!) and cheese cake after - family fun
4. Porgy & Bess at the Deutsche Oper: orchestra too loud, no dynamics or subtlety; singers good, as much as we could hear them; overall impression: not as good as it was cooked up to be
5. trip to Spreewald for a pole-barge trip (restaurant lunch while it rained - no cards!) turned out great because the sky cleared for our huckleberry adventure through the maze of canals
6. tomorrow: Vietnamese specialty restaurant for lunch, Bernie & Rosie coming afternoon for coffee.
.... pix and more later, but sisters have to be kept entertained, so......

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Festival for New US Embassy in Berlin

For the official opening yesterday with only invited guests, it rained cats and dogs and most left early, as soon as the speeches were over.
But today, for the festival for normal people, ...

... what the 4th of July was really all about, the sun was shining, 250,000 people were there and happy, the food was good, the music was great, and we were there and took some pix (see above). Obama's stand received more attention than any other info offering, the US Embassy's stand indeed offering nothing at all, not even a copy of the Declaration of Independence. The stand of the German government did provide a very nice booklet of 60 years of US-German (Federal Republic) friendship in photos, filling a gap that the playpen left open.

Thanks for Disappearing !

One of the best gifts imaginable for the United States on its birthday, perhaps the only one this misguided fanatic ever gave to his country, was the death of Jesse Helms yesterday, also one embarrassment less for another native son of that man's home state whose university, UNC-Chapel Hill, he once said should be driven out of the country because it was a hotbed of pinko liberal fagotism. I have always been proud to be a graduate of the university Jesse Helms so despised. The man was never more than a hot-headed rabble-rousing TV commentator from eastern NC: a fool laughed at in my childhood, a senator who damaged the state and the country in my young adult years.

The New York Times
Jesse Helms Dies at 86; Conservative Force in the Senate
By STEVEN A. HOLMES, Published: July 5, 2008
Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator with the courtly manner and mossy drawl who turned his hard-edged conservatism against civil rights, gay rights, foreign aid and modern art, died early Friday. He was 86.

Jesse Helms: Polarizer, not a compromiser - washingtonpost.com
WASHINGTON -- "Compromise, hell!" Jesse Helms screamed in a 1959 editorial that captured what would become the legacy of his Senate career and his place in the conservative movement. [...]
No to civil rights. No to abortion. No to communism. No to the United Nations. No to gay rights. No to arts funding with nakedness. No to school busing. No to the U.S. giving up the Panama Canal. No to a nuclear arms reduction treaty called Salt II.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Unpretty Secure Playpen for July 4th

The link below leads to a slide-show of the new US Embassy building at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Bildergalerie: Die neue US-Botschaft in Berlin Nachrichten auf ZEIT online

Graue Maus mit Panzer
Am Pariser Platz neben dem Brandenburger Tor wird heute die neue amerikanische Vertretung eingeweiht. Jahrelang wurde über das Botschaftsgebäude gestritten. Eine Bildergalerie
Wie eine Sparkasse sehe sie von vorne aus, sagen böse Zungen über die neue amerikanische Botschaft. Damit befindet sich der Neubau immerhin in guter Gesellschaft mit den zahlreichen Bankgebäuden am Pariser Platz.

The article text quoted above resembles most comments on the grayly drab architecture behind security walls as more of a turn-off than an invitation to America.

My hope remains that the building can soon be imbued with true American spirit after an election for a new president who at least THINKS about the principes which led to that declartion of independence in 1776.

And here, some of those words in the original version as Thomas Jefferson wrote them (from the beginning and the final sentence):

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, & to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, & organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety & happiness.
And for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, & our sacred honor.

[SOURCE: Volume 1 of the "Federal Edition" of Jefferson’s works in 12 volumes edited by Paul Leicester Ford in 1904-05. This volume contains the Autobiography, The Anas, and correspondence and miscellaneous writings from 1760-1770.]

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Considering the Fourth of July

Tomorrow, the new American Embassy will be officially inaugurated in Berlin, on the site it occupied until the ravages and evil of the Third Reich.
It is unfortunate that it will be opened by represenatives of an administration that consider the Constitution their own private playpen and trample on the rights and liberties and principles of justice foremost in the minds of those who drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence 232 years ago. Bushbaby and the Chainy gang have never understood what it's all about, nor do they have any concept of true patriotism. Fortunately, the Embassy represents the country, all of the American people, and Germans and Berliners know Americans can stand up for the good. Let us hope and act together that a new administration of principle will soon determine the Ambassador who officiates in this building.

For this year's Independence Day, let's reflect on this:

The speech on patriotism delivered by Barack Obama in Independence, Missouri

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bushbaby In Wonderland

Now that the Supreme Court has allowed judicial review of playpenal operations in Guantánamo, the world can read a federal court decision attesting that the bushbaby, far from operating in a legal framework, has pushed justice fully into the realm of the Mad Hatter and others seeking to drive Alice mad in wonderland...

Evidence Faulted in Detainee Case - NYTimes.com
In the first case to review the government’s secret evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal appeals court found that accusations against a Muslim from western China held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable claims. The unclassified parts of the decision were released on Monday.
With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.
The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”
“This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true,” said the panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.