• Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 10:53 AM

    A blogging nightmare…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Dear Readers:

    Because I was holed-up in meetings all morning yesterday, I was unaware that the article I thought was published at 6:45am was not published, in fact, until 2:30 pm. And for this I apologise unreservedly.

    I’m afraid the googleaire-nerds who host my weblog have been too busy spending their money to bother fixing technical glitches that are making publishing articles a blogging nightmare. But, since bloggers who publish on other web-hosted platforms complain of similar problems, I have no viable alternative.

    Therefore, I apologise in advance (and beg your patience) if you visit this site at or after 9am EST, to read the day’s article, but instead find one from the day before (or earlier) at the top of the page….

    Thanks to all of you who emailed to enquire about my welfare (and your daily fix).

    Anthony

    p.s. Dear Google:

    Notwithstanding my frustrations, I really appreciate your providing this publishing service free of charge to bloggers all over the world. This speaks volumes about the pro bono dimension of your corporate mission. And, in this googlesense, your service is excellent value for money.

    Thanks,

    The iPINIONS Journal

  • Monday, October 30, 2006 at 11:53 AM

    Friends of Bill Clinton (FOBs) reject invitation to fund his 60th birthday extravaganza…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Less than 2 months ago, celebrities from the world of politics, finance and entertainment gathered in New York City to pledge financial commitments to the charitable foundation of former US President Bill Clinton – that unrepentant political rogue who has assumed the role of Mother Teresa’s male counterpart (Father Bill?) rather persuasively.

    The attendees were purportedly motivated by the Clinton Global Initiative to fight HIV/AIDS, global poverty, ethnic strife and climate change; although many of these roughly 250 FOBs seemed more interested in currying favor and basking in his reflected glow. And in this respect, Sir Richard Branson, founder and Chairman of Virgin Group, proved the ultimate FOB by capturing coveted media attention and face time with Bill after pledging $3 billion to Clinton’s intiative to combat global warming.

    Meanwhile, Clinton did not seem the least bit conflicted by the fact that his celebrity fundraiser, which he schedules to coincide with the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, made the United Nations seem even more irrelevant than his critics claim it already is. Indeed, it was instructive to see Secretary General Kofi Annan commiserating with delegates about the unprecedented lack of interest shown these days in supporting UN operations juxtaposed with Clinton boasting to hordes of international reporters about the unprecedented amount of interest shown in supporting his foundation, which collected $8 billion in new pledges at this one-week gathering.

    Therefore, imagine Clinton’s embarrassment when virtually no one seemed interested in the 10,000 invitations his wife (and daughter) sent to extended members of the FOBs network to attend his 60th birthday party; notwithstanding that no less an FOB group than the Rolling Stones was slated to perform. On the other hand, the unflappable Hillary was probably just as indignant towards these “stingy SOBs” as she was towards the vast right-wing conspirators she accused of trying to undermine Clinton’s presidency.

    Of course, the humiliation in this case may have had something to do with the fact that Hillary had the audacity to ask charity-fatigued FOBs to pay $500,000 to party in the VIP room with him and all others – who just wanted to be in the arena with Bill when the Stones performed – to pay a paltry $60,000….

    But the Daily Mail reports that last Wednesday, when the Clintons realized that regrets being returned outnumbered expected acceptances by an untenable margin, they:

    …drastically slashed prices to $12,500 [from the $500,000 they were asking for the “Birthday Chair Package”] and $5,000 [from the $60,000 apostate FOBs could pay just to see the Stones].

    Then, when they realized to their consternation that these discounted prices did little to close that untenable margin, their political operatives prevailed upon them to slash prices even further. Here’s how the Mail reported this development:

    With the looming possibility of Bill and his long-suffering wife and daughter finding themselves amid a sea of empty chairs at the 2,900-seat Manhattan venue, tickets then went on sale to the public for as little as $1,710.

    And an equally long-suffering FOB offered this insight:

    It is all highly embarrassing for Bill and Hillary. When they created the idea, they thought it would go like wildfire. What’s not going to please some who did come up with $500,000 is finding regular Stones fans there who got last-minute tickets on the internet.

    Indeed.

    But here are a couple questions that should provide some insight into the serial exploitation of friends, sense of entitlement and self-righteous pursuit of public service that have characterized the Clintons’ political careers:

    Given the pride Clinton expressed just 2 months ago after getting his friends to donate $8 billion to his foundation, why did it not occur to him and Hillary that it might be inconsiderate, if not unconscionable, to ask these same friends to pay such exorbitant amounts to attend his birthday party – notwithstanding that (or especially since) these proceeds were also supposedly intended for the Clinton foundation?

    And, given that the Clintons have lived at tax payers’ expense for virtually all of their adult life, and that – since leaving the White House in 2000 – they have amassed a fortune in the tens of millions by trading on their years of public service to sell books and command huge speaking fees, why did it not occur to them to pay for this birthday party out of their own pockets?

    After all, as professed Christian do-gooders, surely they know that charity begins at home….

    NOTE: For the record, from reading my favorite newspaper, the Washington Post, and many other news and opinion outlets, you’d never know that all of this drama preceded last night’s grand finale to Clinton’s 3-day birthday bash. But, despite the Clintons’ now pathological ability to put on a good face (and a good show) – no matter how embarrassing the circumstances – no one remotely familiar with this party can deny that it was irredeemably marred by their shameless shakedown for more money.

    O say, can you see, Barack Obama supplanting Hillary (of the 2-for-1 Clintons) as the new darling of America’s Democratic Party and liberal elite…? (Click here to see why.)

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  • Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 11:57 AM

    Bush insists that the generals, not politicians, will determine his exit strategy from Iraq. Well:

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Saturday, October 28, 2006 at 12:33 PM

    St. Louis Cardinals upset Detroit Tigers 4 games to 1 in Baseball’s World Series!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I don’t know anyone who wanted St. Louis to win. Moreover, given their lousy season (with a win-loss record of 83 – 78 vs. Detroit’s 95 – 67), I don’t know anyone who thought they would win the National League Pennant, let alone the World Series.

    Meanwhile, Detroit seemed fated to win. In fact, even sportscasters referred to the urban renewal in this once blighted city as a good omen of its Baseball destiny. And, as if this were not enough to guarantee victory, political authorities draped City Hall’s Spirit of Detroit Statue in the team’s jersey to reflect the arrogant, “can’t-lose” spirit of the players going into the Series.

    But lose they did last night, and in humiliating fashion too (as their upset faces in the picture above clearly show). Although, given the TV ratings, it seems few people, actually bothered to watch these terminally boring games….

    Nonetheless, here’s to the spirit of St. Louis: The 2006 World Series Champs!

    NOTE: The highlights of the Series were provided by unsung (and relatively unseen) hero David Eckstein (the short – 5’7″ – shortstop who’s probably standing waist-high in the midst of this victory scrum with his teammates), who outplayed fellow Cardinal Albert Pujols (the superstar slugger who couldn’t buy a hit) to win the MVP trophy….

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  • Friday, October 27, 2006 at 10:37 AM

    Good (news) Friday: Businessman launches the Africa No “Mo” Corruption Prize…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Alas, African leaders are so congenitally corrupt that the only way “to remove corruption and improve governance” throughout the continent is, in fact, to bribe them.This seems to be the perverse reasoning that has inspired Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim (left) to award a prize to the African leader who is deemed to be the least corrupt in Africa. And, to prove his intent to vest this dubious distinction with value that surpasses even the Nobel prize (at $1.4 million), the “Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership” will be awarded with a cash gift of $5 million over 10 years, when the winner leaves office, plus $200,000 a year for life.

    But only a leader who “democratically transfers power to his successor” will be eligible to receive this golden parachute. Although, one wonders how this cash inducement will work – given that it seems an acceptable fringe benefit for most African leaders to steal more than $5 million each year of their presidency….

    Now, before you start scoffing at the patently egocentric and inherently fatuous nature of Ibrahim’s no “Mo” corruption prize, you should know that Harvard University has signed on to evaluate the candidates and select the annual winner. And, notwithstanding my cynicism, the good news (I suppose) is that former South African President Nelson Mandela, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan are among the notable statesmen who have endorsed this prize.

    Nonetheless, I cannot help thinking that this is rather like promising a child a cookie to induce it to behave. And it’s more than a little disappointing that those who have complained most about the paternalistic and patronizing treatment of Africans are now the ones participating in this paternalistic and patronizing exercise, no matter how well-intentioned.

    NOTE: Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo will probably be the first leader eligible to receive this prize when he’s “forced” to democratically transfer power to his successor after national elections next April. Because he’s arguably the second least corrupt leader in Africa, after South African President Thabo Mbeki (who wll not be eligible until 2009).

    Never mind that Obasanjo’s political opponents claim reasonable suspicion that he may have dipped his hand in the cookie jar a few times during his tenure to take his share of the $380 billion that, according to a BBC report, has been stolen or wasted by Nigerian leaders over the past 25 years.

    Only in Africa folks….

    ENDNOTE: Many of my fellow Caribbean natives are apoplectic about a pending new law which will require Americans traveling there to have a passport. They are understandably concerned that this requirement will have a devastating impact on our tourist economies because so few potential American visitors have passports.

    But click here to see why, though well-founded, their emotions and complaints are wholly misguided.

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  • Thursday, October 26, 2006 at 10:57 AM

    Black Ford vs. White Corker in Tennessee: Who’s really playing the race card?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The Tennessee Senate race between Democratic candidate Harold Ford Jr and Republican Bob Corker is one of the most contentious in this year’s truly competitive Congressional elections. After all, for the first time in over a decade, Democrats are within striking distance of wresting control of Congress from Republicans. And Republicans know what payback mischief this portends, not only for those on Capitol Hill but also for the occupants of the White House (think corruption, and even impeachment, hearings).

    Therefore, no one remotely familiar with American politics is surprised that muckraking in campaign rhetoric and TV ads has fallen to an all-time low this year. For example, the Republican candidate running against Senator Hillary Clinton in New York called her a “lesbian wildebeest” transformed by millions of dollars in plastic surgery; and liberal supporters of the white Democratic candidate running against black Republican Lt Governor Michael Steele for the Senate in Maryland published caricatures of Steele as little black Sambo and mocked him mercilessly as an Uncle Tom.

    So, given this standard of campaigning, which is being played out all over the country, I was struck by the way mainstream media have reported on the inevitable racial flare-up between Ford and Corker (seen here last weekend when Ford ambushed Corker at his press conference).

    Because, notwithstanding the veritable street fight their race has become, what Democrats are calling a racist slur by Corker against Ford pales in comparison to the racial antics Democrats have not only condoned but actually perpetrated in races like Steele’s and others. For example, I invite you to click here to see how these same racially-sensitive Democrats tarred and feathered Senator Joe Lieberman, a fellow Democrat no less, purportedly because he, unlike Hillary and John Kerry, was too principled in his support for the Iraq war.

    But I could not have anticipated that within hours of publishing Tuesday’s article on the prospect of black Barack Obama running for president of the United States (in which I made the following reference to Ford) that he would be at the center of a national racial controversy:

    …I suspect his almost-white complexion is what makes Harold Ford of Tennessee so attractive to whites in that state. But it will be instructive for Obama to see how many whites actually vote for Ford two weeks from today in his race to join Obama in the U.S. Senate.

    In this case, Corker’s Republican supporters ran a TV ad featuring a young white actress playing the stereotype of a dumb blonde who coos about meeting Ford, a 36-year-old bachelor who is black, “at the Playboy party.” At the end of the ad, she winks and says to the camera, “Harold — call me.”

    And, despite the fact that Corker publicly denounced the ad as “over the top, tacky and not reflective of the kind of campaign we are running”, and even demanded those running it to pull it off the air, Democrats have accused him of playing the race card. (Never mind that, by his own admission, Ford is a playboy who likes to party with white playboy bunnies. )

    But then, on Tuesday, NBC, the NAACP and a host of national news and (liberal) political organizations jumped into this local, and relatively clean, campaign fight with the moral indignation of abolitionists taking up the cause of Dred Scott. And suddenly, this tongue-in-cheek reference to Ford’s bachelor peccadilloes became the racial crime of the century, with the NAACP protesting that it:

    …plays to preexisting prejudices about African American men and white women.

    But here’s what I think about this ad and the national outcry over it:

    Ford’s opponent is right: it’s tacky and tawdry and should be pulled off the air. But, I take profound and historically correct exception to white liberals and the NAACP calling it racist.

    Moreover, I am troubled by Tim Russert of NBC suggesting that the mere notion of interracial sex is racist. Because critics like him betray their own prejudices by making a big deal out of the fact that Ford partied with white playboy bunnies, and may have even had one or two….

    Ironically, one could be forgiven the impression that those expressing moral indignation over this ad are pining for old anti-miscegenation laws.

    NOTE: For the record, I’m hoping Harold Ford wins in Tennessee and Michael Steele (right) wins in Maryland. Because I think each man in his own right is a far better candidate not only for leadership in his home state but also nationally….

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  • Wednesday, October 25, 2006 at 10:28 AM

    SHOCKING NEWS…not: Bush’s insidious alliance with the genocidal murderers in Sudan!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    …the United States is in bed with the government in Khartoum on counterterrorism issues and therefore we are looking the other way on a genocide[?]

    [Scott Pelley reporting for 60 Minutes from Darfur, Sudan]

    I understand implicitly the geopolitical realities that have allowed President George W. Bush’s (axis-of-evil) enemies in Iraq, Iran and North Korea to expose the United States as a superpower paper tiger. Until Sunday, however, I was stupefied as to why Sudan has been allowed to do the same.

    After all, for over three years now, “the-Big-Man” Arab dictator of Sudan, Omar Bashir, has ignored all of Bush’s ultimatums to stop his genocidal campaign to exterminate all black African from Darfur.

    Moreover, he was not content to defy Bush from the safe haven of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. Instead, as 60 Minutes reported on Sunday, Bashir and his posse boldly traveled to New York City in September to attend the 61st Session of the UN General Assembly and laughed at Bush as he recited charges of genocide against them during his UN address.

    But I was disabused of my stupefaction when 60 Minutes insinuated that these genocidal murderers have been neither defying nor laughing at Bush. Instead, it seems they have been defying and laughing at everyone else in the world who has been pleading with Bush all these years to help save the people of Darfur.

    Because 60 Minutes reported probative allegations that, despite his rhetoric condemning them, Bush established an insidious alliance with the Sudanese in the aftermath of 9/11. And this alliance calls for Bashir’s Gestapo to provide “intelligence” on fellow Arab terrorists (as patently absurd and unlikely as that may be) in exchange for complete immunity to perpetrate as much terror within Sudan as their genocidal hearts desire.

    Clearly, this puts my serial criticisms of Bush – for being a political and moral hypocrite on Darfur – in a far more sinister light. After all, I had no clue about this alliance when I chastised him here – in an article dated 2 May 2006 entitled Save Darfur Rally: Full of sound and fury signifying nothing!, or here – in an article dated 14 March 2006 entitled Darfur: Thanks for caring America, but you’re already a genocide too late, or here – in an article dated 1 December 2005 entitled Help! Ethnic cleansing and forced starvation persists in Darfur.

    Unfortunately, it is equally clear that, though bloodied, Bush remains unbowed by criticisms and damning allegations about any aspect of his presidency (especially his war on terror). In fact, the man seems positively immune to them.

    Meanwhile, the promise – that “Never Again” will the world stand by and watch the perpetration of another genocide like the one that was executed in Rwanda just over a decade ago – rings hollow in Darfur today. And this, despite that promise being expressed with such conviction by notable figures including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former President Bill Clinton and Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elli Weisel.

    I’m sorry to say I’m going to sit here with you in two years time and I’m gonna tell you the same sad story. People will say, ‘Ich habe nicht gewusst,’ which is German for ‘I didn’t know.’

    [Dr. Ashis Brahma who alone treats 25,000 people in one Darfur refugee camp]

    NOTE: For what it’s worth, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1706 on 31 August, which calls for a force of 20,000 soldiers and police to intervene immediately in Darfur. But so far, Bashir has dared them to try….

    In fact, such is Bashir’s disdain for the UN that, forget military intervention, he got so fed up with its political meddling that, just days ago, he kicked the UN ambassador out of his country.

    Now all that remains is for Bashir to inform the world that his final solution for Darfur is complete and then, without the slightest bit of irony, request U.S. and UN aid to help develop this region of Sudan that he has ethnicly cleansed of black Africans….

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  • Tuesday, October 24, 2006 at 11:19 AM

    It’s TIME: Run Obama Run!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Ever since he wowed American voters with his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Barack Obama has been teasing them with his political ambitions. Therefore, when he finally inserted himself into the wide open 2008 presidential race on Sunday, it seems the entire nation shuddered with political excitement.

    I, on the other hand, was always relatively frigid about Obama’s presidential overtures. After all, I had already pledged my support for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (in articles here and here), in what I expected would be her race against Senator Hillary Clinton for this most coveted political office in the world.

    But an Obama candidacy would undoubtedly throw a monkey wrench into the carefully laid plans of Bill and Hillary Clinton to become the first husband and wife to serve as president of the United States. (And, thereby, surpass the father and son presidential legacies to which George H.W. and George W. belong.) Of course, nothing would make me prouder than to see a black man and a black woman at the top of the Democratic and Republican presidential tickets, respectively, in 2008.

    And if you think this is too fanciful to contemplate, consider that it would have been no less fanciful two years ago to suggest that Obama would be catapulted to national prominence like he has before serving a single term as a U.S. Senator….

    For the record, however, in a race between Condi and Obama, I would be obliged to vote for Obama. But this is only because I fear that Condi’s political credibility and moral authority to lead have been severely comprised by her role in planning and defending this ill-advised and poorly-executed war in Iraq.

    By contrast, it shall redound to Obama’s eternal credit that, unlike putative Democratic challengers including Hillary, John Kerry and John Edwards, he’s on the record categorically opposing this war before it was launched in 2003.

    Nonetheless, like all love affairs, America’s infatuation with Obama could wear thin very quickly; especially as it may only be skin deep – in more ways than one:

    For example, his critics (i.e. fellow Democrats) are already planting stories about his inexperience. Although Obama could easily counter this argument by citing the fact that Americans elected an equally inexperienced Bill Clinton in 1992 over a man who was perhaps more qualified than any other to be president of the United States – the then incumbent President George H.W. Bush!

    And as for the purported need to have “a man” with military experience serving as president in this time of war, Obama could counter this specious argument by citing the fact that his fellow Illinoisan, Abraham Lincoln, had no military experience before serving so heroicly as commander in chief during the Civil War. He might also note that flying sorties over Texas seems to have done nothing to prepare George W. for his self-declared war on terror. Besides, since it’s generally agreed that America will never defeat Osama militarily, perhaps it can defeat him psychologically by electing a man called Obama!

    Then there’s his race – ethnic that is. Indeed, I have a well-founded suspicion that where many white Americans (Democrats and Republicans) might enjoy a political affair with a black man, they would not want to marry their political loyalties to one to make him president. Never mind the fact that – by all other electability criteria – Obama would be the best in his class of presidential candidates in 2008 (with his highly-touted charisma and telegenic looks, to say nothing of his truly compelling personal story and the fact that he has already set an historic precedent by becoming the first black editor in chief of the Harvard Law Review).

    Yet Obama stands the best chance of any black, including Condi – especially in this respect, of being elected for the simple reason that he’s at least half-white (being the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas).

    (Indeed, I suspect his almost-white complexion is what makes Harold Ford of Tennessee so attractive to whites in that state. But it will be instructive for Obama to see how many whites actually vote for Ford two weeks from today in his race to join Obama in the U.S. Senate….)

    That said, I look forward to the formal announcement of his campaign to become the 44th president of the United States.

    Run Obama run!

    NOTE: The only person who probably resents Obama’s rise as the ‘Deus ex machina’ (saviour) for Democrats in 2008 more than Bill & Hillary is John Kerry.

    After all, it looms as an ironic fate that Obama may be the one to frustrate Kerry’s last chance to fulfill his ambition to go down in history as a president of the United States. Because now, Kerry will probably be remembered only as the man who plucked Obama from obscurity in the summer of 2004 and placed him center stage at that fateful Democratic convention.

    Of course, Obama then rode a rock-star wave of popularity from that platform right into the U.S. Senate later that fall. And the rest – we may all say some day, is history….

  • Monday, October 23, 2006 at 10:24 AM

    UPDATE: Madonna’s adoption of African boy reels from controversy to nightmare…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I was never told that adoption means that David will no longer be my son….If I was told this, I would not have allowed the adoption….I want more clarification on the adoption. I would prefer that David goes back to the orphanage where I can see him any time I want, rather than send him away for good.

    [Father of the Malawian child Madonna adopted “conditionally” last week - as reported by the BBC]

    When Madonna’s adoption story became an international sensation last week, I wrote this article, here, in which I lauded her interest in adopting an abandoned African baby and chastened her critics for their myopic self-righteousness. Nonetheless, I also expressed reservation as follows:

    I sympathise with those who argue that if Madonna made such a “connection” with this child, the truly caring thing would have been for her to have provided the means for his father to care for him – instead of taking David even further away. Indeed, it does seem a bit self-indulgent and heartless under these circumstances to take a child who has a parent, when “over one million orphans” were available to be adopted.

    Nonetheless, I reasoned that there was nothing wrong with her adoption of David after reading reports about his father, Yohane Banda (left), praising Madonna as a savior and daming her critics as devilish meddlers.

    But now Mr Banda is claiming that he was misled. And this is an entirely sustainable claim considering that he’s illiterate and probably needed someone to serve in loco parentis during this adoption, not only to guarantee his son’s welfare but also to help him understand the implications of relinquishing his parental rights.

    Therefore, I urge Madonna to return David to his village and make a connection with a different child forthwith. Moreover, I counsel her to ensure the Malawian government that this village and other areas of the country would still reap all of the financial benefits she promised pursuant to her adoption of David.

    Because if she insists on defending her adoption of this child, I fear she’ll betray herself as being every bit the self-indulgent and heartless bitch caricatured so mercilessly in the media. Even worse, she’ll give the ironically-named Human Rights Consultative Committee, a coalition of 67 organizations that has filed a legal challenge to the adoption, an international platform to trumpet the untenable, if not infanticidal, Malawian adoption law, which holds that:

    …foreign adoptive parents must live in Malawi for 18 months.

    After all, Madonna did not abide by this law. Indeed, in this regard, I wrote that she was able to adopt David only:

    …with the full blessings of the Malawian government, which granted her (a celebrity) exemption from the onerous 18-month residency requirement for adopting a Malawian child; notwithstanding that Madonna seems to think she was accorded no special favors….

    Therefore, it’s in the best interest of all of Malawi’s one million abandoned babies to amend or abolish this “archaic” law, which dates back to the 1940s, to allow prospective adoptive parents like Madonnna to serve their probationary period where they reside permanantly. Because it is clearly ass-backwards for this law to require foreigners to take up residency in Malawi just to adopt an abandoned child!

    Meanwhile, forget Madonna, Angelina, et al. Since, more than celebrities, it’s ordinary people of goodwill who have been, and would like to continue, adopting orphaned African babies. And they’re the ones who will be most discouraged if the Human Rights Committee is allowed to make a cause celebre of this misguided law.

  • Sunday, October 22, 2006 at 12:03 PM

    UN spared the rod, now lil’ Kim’s a problem child!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Saturday, October 21, 2006 at 11:17 AM

    On Tuesday, a newborn babe was featured as the 300 millionth American; but we all know that honor belongs to an illegal immigrant…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Friday, October 20, 2006 at 10:35 AM

    Good (news) Friday: Belated congratulations to Nobel Peace Prize winners Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    A week ago today, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2006 to Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded in 1976 for:

    …their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty….Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.

    Yunus is seen here in this 13 October 2006 AFP photo being kissed by his daughter Dina after receiving the news of his award in Dhaka

    In fact, Yunus pioneered a system of lending money to the poor, in the world’s poorest countries, as a means of lifting themseleves up by their own bootstrap that has proved far more effective in alleviating chronic poverty than any welfare program or trickle-down theory.

    When a South African friend – who works on Third World sustainable development issues – first told me about Yunus and Grameen bank in the late-1980s, I was incredulous to say the least. After all, my intellectual skepticism and economic chauvinism could not fathom how providing loans of $50 to $200 (a.k.a. “microcredit”) to women, almost exclusively, to buy everything from cows to sewing machines, would have any impact on poverty reduction in poor communities – even in Bangledesh.

    But today, with *6.61 borrowers, 97 per cent of whom are women, 2,226 branches employing 18,795 Bangledeshis, having loaned US$5.72 billion to these microcredit borrowers and been repaid US$5.07 (a loan recovery rate of an unprecedented 98.85%), the good news is that my skepticism and chauvinism have been proved spectacularly myopic and wrong.

    Yet, no one is happier than I am that Yunus and Grameen Bank have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their success; no one, that is, except Yunus himself:

    I am so, so happy, it’s really a great news for the whole nation. [Yunus upon learning he had won the Nobel Peace Prize]

    *Grameen Bank info

    NOTE: I feel obliged to explain my belated recognition of the Nobel Committee’s rather belated recognition of Yunus and Grameen Bank. As it happened, although there are weeks when I’m hard-pressed to find any story for my “Good (news) Friday” feature, last week I was gifted with two.

    In fact, by the time I learned that Yunus was the winner of the peace prize last Friday, Orhan Pamuk was already featured, here, for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. Therefore, I decided that, instead of raining on Pamuk’s parade, I’d save the good news about Yunus’s award for today.

    ENDNOTE: Click here to read my entreaty over at CNN to fellow Caribbean natives to determine whether they are as concerned about the welfare of abandoned African babies as some rich white celebrities appear to be….

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  • Thursday, October 19, 2006 at 10:43 AM

    U.S. and others play musical chairs (at six-party talks) while North Korea (and Iran) play with fire that could burn us all….

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    President George W. Bush is fond of projecting the notion that, although his is not the most intelligent and articulate voice on the world stage, it is certainly the most authoritative and reliable.

    But North Korean President Kim Jong IL’s brazen defiance of Bush’s ultimatum on developing nuclear weapons is making his voice seem no more authoritative and reliable than it is intelligent and articulate. After all, from the early days of his presidency, Bush has continually voiced the unambiguous declaration that:

    …we [the United States] will not tolerate Nuclear weapons in North Korea.

    Well, Mr Kim has now called his bluff. And he did it in a dramatic fashion that is clearly far more humiliating for Bush than the humiliation Bill Clinton suffered when Monica called his bluff by producing her (stained) blue dress.

    But my stupefaction over mushrooming developments in this crisis compelled me to express an almost resigned lament in this recent article, here, entitled Okay, so North Korea has nukes…we think. Now what?! And where one might have expected his slick-Willie predecessor to talk his way out of his public humiliation, the notion of Bush now trying to emulate him is simply pathetic:

    “…I think it’s a much more effective policy to have China using her leverage, South Korea using its leverage, Japan using its leverage to say to the North Koreans give up your nuclear weapons programs….

    As a matter of fact I’m confident that this is the way to go to solve this issue peacefully.” [Bush's ex post facto strategy for not tolerating nuclear weapons in North Korea]

    Though, ironically, this is the very kind of diplomatic (multilateral) strategy Bush’s critics wanted him to follow in dealing with Saddam Hussein’s brazen defiance. Yet these same critics are now criticizing him for subjugating his superpower will to that of others involved in six-party talks with North Korea; namely China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

    Meanwhile, China – which purportedly holds the most leverage over Mr Kim – has already indicated that it will not countenance the most important provision, which calls for the verifiable and irreversible disarmament of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Even worse, all of the other parties involved are entreating Bush to quit deferring to their six-party talks to resolve this crisis and engage Mr Kim “mano a mano”!

    Frankly, the bottom line is that everyone in the world knows – as well as the parties to these talks know – that no amount of bilateral or multilateral talk will ever deter Mr Kim from his nuclear ambitions.

    Moreover, as if blasting off one nuclear weapon was not injurious enough to Bush’s pride, Mr Kim has vowed to add insult to that injury by blasting off even more.

    Therefore, the question for Bush – the man who always seemed so convincing when he asserted that “I say what I mean and mean what I say” – is:

    Now that it is self-evident that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons, and equally self-evident that the other members of your six-party talks are quite prepared to tolerate North Korea having them, what are you going to do to prove that you really do mean what you say?

    Alas, I am convinced that, despite his rhetoric and the clear and present danger Mr Kim poses, Bush will in fact tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea, until “the smoking gun” – in the form of a mushroom cloud – is rising over the United States or an allied country its legally bound to defend. (In fact, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is currently on a mission to reassure Japan and South Korea of U.S. protection, and to stiffen China’s spine to help quanrantine North Korea.)

    Indeed, the only uncertainty that remains is whether this mushroom cloud will come courtesy of Mr Kim; or whether Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will preempt him in infamy by launching a nuclear bomb to wipe Israel off the map….

    NOTE: Listen carefully in the coming days to see how Bush is reformulating his unambiguous declaration to a feckless promulgation that goes something like this:

    There will be grave consequences for North Korea if Kim Jong IL transfers his nuclear weapons to al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group….

    Fait accompli!

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  • Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 10:34 AM

    Madonna and (black) child: Why all the fuss?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Last week, in this article, here, entitled Plane crash sends New York (and all of America) into 9/11 panic mode…, I dismissed media coverage of this African-adoption story as just idle-minded reporting on:

    …the “breaking news” of Madonna following the new celebrity fashion of adopting African babies the way others adopt exotic pets.

    But since then, Madonna’s adoption of this black child – David Banda whose mother died soon after giving birth to him, whose elder brothers died of malaria and whose father put him in an orphanage because he could not afford to care for him – has turned into an international (political, cultural and racial) morality tale.

    And listening to her morally-outraged critics, one might think that Madonna is the first rich white American who plucked a child out of squalor in some poor country and dropped it in the lap of luxury - like this one of many mansions that are owned by Madonna (a.k.a. the material girl). Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

    In fact, I remember well the criticism that was hurled at other Americans many years ago who went shopping for babies in poor countries. But the criticism back then did not condemn the transaction itself. Instead, it merely questioned why these whites were always shopping in Eastern Europe (and Asia); but never in Africa!

    Never mind, that it was as politically, culturally and racially untenable for whites to adopt black babies back then as it is today. After all, it remains the case that many black activists (and the social workers who are responsible for finding adoptive parents for unwanted black American children) would rather see those children shuttled from one unloving foster home to another before allowing white people to adopt them – even if it’s to care for them in privileged homes like Madonna’s.

    Therefore, it behooves Madonna’s critics – especially black Americans – to atone for their collective sin of abandoning so many black American children to foster care (to say nothing of showing absolutely no interest in the welfare of millions of abandoned babies in Africa) before casting stones at her.

    That said, the details surrounding Madonna’s adoption of David from Malawi give one the impression that it’s just the whimsical gesture of a rich white girl who believes her money can satisfy her maternal instincts as readily as it can her material desires. Indeed, to her mind, donating millions to a poor African village for the right to pick the best from its litter of welfare babies might seem not only a reasonable entitlement but also a moral deed.

    Truth be told, however, the more I thought about this adoption, the more I questioned my visceral objection to it. And I soon realized that my outrage stemmed from a moral (and perhaps cultural) arrogance that made me no less whimsical in my regard for David’s welfare than Madonna appeared to be. Because it is undeniable that, by adopting him, Madonna will do more for him, his village and his entire country than the whole bunch of her sanctimonious critics combined.

    Moreover, what African parent (like David’s) – so unable to care for his own child that he had to relinquish custody to an orphanage – would not consider it a godsend for a rich white women to choose his child for a life of unimaginable privilege?

    Of course, I sympathise with those who argue that if Madonna made such a “connection” with this child, the truly caring thing would have been for her to have provided the means for his father to care for him – instead of taking David even further away. Indeed, it does seem a bit self-indulgent and heartless under these circumstances to take a child who has a parent, when “over one million orphans” were available to be adopted. But this does not vitiate the greater good this adoption will bring. Meanwhile, it’s for Madonna to reconcile her act of God with her conscience and her Maker.

    Alas, from my enlightened perspective, all of the haranguing about Madonna using her money and power to gain special favors seems utterly fatuous. After all, she hardly pioneered this antic goodwill: this dubious honor goes to a lesser known celebrity named Mia Farrow. It was popularized, however, by Angelina Jolie who I felt compelled to criticise, here, not because she adopted poor Cambodian and Ethiopian babies. Instead, I did so because she commandeered the national security apparatus of Namibia (for a paltry donation of $400,000) only to fly-in an American obstetrician team to give birth to her own child.

    Therefore, despite all the furore, Madonna’s will be done. And I suspect this is with the full blessings of the Malawian government, which granted her (a celebrity) exemption from the onerous 18-month residency requirement for adopting a Malawian child; notwithstanding that Madonna seems to think she was accorded no special favors:

    After learning that there were over one million orphans in Malawi, it was my wish to open up our home and help one child escape an extreme life of hardship, poverty and in many cases death….

    ….[We] have gone about the adoption procedure according to the law like anyone else who adopts a child. Reports to the contrary are totally inaccurate

    [Open Letter by Madonna Ritchie October 17, 2006 London, England]

    NOTE: I hope the irony, if not outright absurdity, of putting Madonna on an 18-month probation and sending welfare workers to her various mansions to ensure that they’re a suitable places in which to raise David is not lost on the Malawian government.

    Because, for all intents and purposes, no one doubts the boy is now hers. But just imagine the lobbying going on in Malawi to be assigned as Madonna’s probation supervisor….

  • Tuesday, October 17, 2006 at 10:47 AM

    The Duke rape case…closed! If you didn’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe 60 Minutes…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Last March, the nowinfamous Duke University rape scandal was primarily a cause celebre for liberal bloggers who were demanding that all 34 (white) players on the lacrosse team be hanged by their gonads after a (black) stripper accused some of them of raping her. And, to my eternal shame, I had no compunctions about joining this Blogosphere lynch mob by publishing this article, here, entitled The under-reported rape involving Blue (eyed?) Devils from Duke University.Because when I juxtaposed what she said with what they said in this racially-charged “political” atmosphere, I had no difficulty believing the accuser’s claim that she was:

    … pulled into a bathroom by three men and raped anally, vaginally, and orally while they hit, kicked, and strangled [me] over a 30 minute” period.

    Then, just weeks after the accuser gave this sensational account of her assault, investigative journalists (and defense lawyers) began publishing reports which showed that she had given many “inconsistent facts” about this alleged crime. And, after DNA evidence raised further doubts about her story, I had no compunctions about admitting that I was wrong for rushing to judgment in this article, here, entitled DNA results exculpate Duke lacrosse players in rape case….Now what?Because even my proud advocacy for the racial politics of blacks and the gender politics of women could not innoculate me from the reasonable suspicion that this black woman’s claim that these white men gang-raped her was, in fact, a lie!

    And, in this more restrained and reasoned article, dated 11 April, I posed questions and offered a fateful observaion as follows:

    Does the absence of DNA evidence mean that this woman was not raped? NO!

    Does the absence of DNA evidence mean that we may have been misled by the cruel, craven and conniving hoax of a black Susan Smith or another Tawana Brawley? YES!

    Nonetheless, this sordid spectacle will have severe repercussions for race relations and rape victims (especially black women) for years to come. For now, I shall heed my own counsel and wait for the trial or until the DA announces that the players have all been exonerated.

    Now comes 60 Minutes, generally regarded by liberals (i.e. those most inclined to believe the accuser in this case) as the most respected and authoratative news program on television, with an utterly damning report on the veracity and credibility of the accuser’s claims. In sum, here’s what it reported:

    Over the past six months, 60 Minutes has examined nearly the entire case file, more than 2,000 documents, including police reports, witness statements and medical records. The evidence 60 Minutes has seen reveals disturbing facts about the conduct of the police and the district attorney, and raises serious concerns about whether or not a rape even occurred.

    [Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes]

    Unfortunately, instead of being guided by this 60 Minutes exposé, erstwhile fans of the program are now accusing its (black) reporter of attempting to intimidate the accuser. Nonetheless, by broadcasting the terminal defects in her claim on Sunday, 60 Minutes did more to further justice in this case than either Mike Nifong (left) – the zealous District Attorney prosecuting it, or black activists (right) – who have made it a badge of racial pride to insist that there shall be “no justice, no peace” unless these presumed (and evidently) innocent white men are found guilty.Therefore, I hereby reiterate my plea for DA Nifong to drop these charges, post-haste! Because proceeding would only exacerbate the irreparable harm these men have already suffered (financially and by the infliction of emotional distress); especially since a trial would surely result in a “not guilty” verdict given all of the well-documented flaws in the case for the prosecution.

    NOTE: Apropos his case, what 60 Minutes made abundantly clear is that the Star Witness for the prosecution, Kim Roberts (right) – the other stripper hired to perform with the accuser that fateful night – would probably prove more of a Star Witness for the defense.

    Indeed, given that she has given almost as many inconsistent facts about this sordid episode as the accuser has, one is left with the ironic but undeniable impression that the only credible people involved in this case are the accused rapists who have given consistent accounts of their innocence from day one!

    But, FYI, consider this excerpt from the 60 Minutes report:

    Bradley: At that point [after the accuser alleges she had already been raped], did she give you any reason to believe that she had been assaulted in any way?

    Roberts: No.

    Bradley: Did she at any point that night say anything about being in pain or of having been hurt in any way?

    Roberts: She wasn’t – she obviously wasn’t hurt or, ’cause she was fine. She wouldn’t have went back in the house if she was hurt. She’s was fine.

    Bradley: And, according to the statement that you made to the police, she told you she wanted to go back inside the house at that point. What did she say?

    Roberts: There’s more money to be made.

    Case Closed!

    ,

  • Monday, October 16, 2006 at 10:20 AM

    Hotel tycoon Howard Brent "Butch" Kerzner: RIP…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Fellow Bahamians are still in shock over the sudden death last Wednesday of Howard “Butch” Kerzner, the CEO of Kerzner International Holdings which includes the Atlantis Hotel and Casino on Paradise Island, The Bahamas.

    I never had the pleasure of doing business with Mr Kerzner but I knew from the accounts of mutual friends that he was extremely personable and engaging. And that even though he was a shrewd businessman who could have abused his power as the biggest private investor in The Bahamas (and the employer of a critical number of Bahamians), he demonstrated genuine interest in harmonising his business activities with the political and economic agendas of the country. Indeed, so much so – compared to other foreign investors – that he was respected and well-liked, in equal measure, by Bahamian leaders on both sides of the political divide.

    Nonetheless, given his international holdings, Mr Kerzner’s death will be felt far and wide. But where I feel obliged to pay my respects, the most I feel entitled to do is to share his obituary as it was carried by my Caribbean publishing syndicator, Caribbean Net News – reported by Manuel Jimenez from Santo Domingo where Mr Kerzner died:

    …a sad moment for our nation. [Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie]

    Casino exec Butch Kerzner killed in Caribbean crash

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    by Manuel Jimenez

    SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (Reuters): Howard “Butch” Kerzner, chief executive of hotel and casino operator Kerzner International Holdings Ltd., was killed on Wednesday in a helicopter crash in the Dominican Republic.

    Kerzner was surveying potential development sites for his company when the helicopter went down near the resort of Puerto Plata. He died along with two pilots and another passenger, the company said in a written statement.

    “It is with great sadness that the entire company mourns the tragic loss of Butch Kerzner,” the company said.

    Kerzner, 42, and his father, chairman Sol Kerzner, recently led a $3.2 billion buyout of their company, which operates Atlantis Paradise Island, a casino resort in the Bahamas, and the One&Only luxury hotel chain.

    Privately held Kerzner International, based in the Bahamas, is nearing completion of about $1 billion in expansions at its Bahamas resort and is constructing a second $1.5 billion Atlantis-branded resort in Dubai.

    Butch Kerzner told Reuters in an interview last month the company was also eyeing Las Vegas as a potential site for a multibillion-dollar Atlantis resort.

    Kerzner has partnered with Singapore’s CapitaLand to bid for a license to develop a casino resort worth more than $1.5 billion on the city-state’s Sentosa island.

    The helicopter crashed about 120 miles (190 km) north of the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo, in the area of Sosua and Cabarete, near the well-known resort of Puerto Plata.

    A civil aviation official said the aircraft, which belonged to a company called Helipuertos Dominicanos, encountered bad weather and was believed to have had mechanical problems.

    It was flown by two Dominican military pilots and carrying another Dominican national, the official said.

    Sol Kerzner, the South African gaming tycoon who created Sun City and founded Kerzner International, was en route to the Dominican Republic.

    The company said board member Paul O’Neil, the former chief executive of the company’s largest operation in the Bahamas, has been appointed acting CEO of Kerzner effective immediately.

    Butch Kerzner, who was appointed chief executive in January 2004, is survived by his wife and two children.

    NOTE: Mr Kerzner’s father Sol is seen in this photo above (which I inserted into Jimenez’s original article) arriving in the DR with Bahamian Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe and Mr Kerzner’s widow Vanessa.

    Photo courtesy of Derek Smith of The Bahamas Information Services.

    ,

  • Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 12:11 PM

    Don’t believe your lying eyes (and freezing butts), global warming is “An Inconvenient Truth”?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    Of course, convincing the people of Buffalo, New York (now burrowing their way out of 2 feet of snow) that they’re experiencing global warming is rather like convincing Eskimos that they’re living in the tropics….

    ,

  • Saturday, October 14, 2006 at 12:22 PM

    Cooling of U.S. housing market incites irrational fears in Americans for whom recession is a foreign word…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    Courtesy Jim Day ’06, The Las Vegas Review Journal

  • Friday, October 13, 2006 at 10:43 AM

    Good (news) Friday: Turkish novelist, Orhan Pamuk, wins Nobel Prize in Literature!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I know, I know, who cares, right?! After all, more often than not, the winner of this prize is an author who few people have ever heard of and whose books even fewer people have ever read.

    But consider this folks: Many authors have won the Nobel Prize for stirring the conscience of their nation and the world with their writing the way Martin Luther King, Jr. did with his preaching. In fact, these are invariably people who have done more to promote understanding of and respect for the lessons of history, redeeming social values, the struggle for freedom and the pursuit of happpiness, and the intrinsic value of literature as an art form than any politician or, God forbid, celebrity ever could.

    Perhaps some of you recall this article, here, in which I heralded the bravery of another Turkish writer, Elif Shafak, who:

    …dared to air Turkey’s dirty laundry, including exposing its misogynistic treatment of women and genocidal pogroms against the Armenians.

    But it is now my distinct honor and privilege to herald the accomplishment of Shafak’s compatriot, Orhan Pamuk, as the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. According to the Swedish Academy, he was awarded this year’s prize because:

    In the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city, (Pamuk) has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.

    Ironically, as if to imbue it with even greater meaning, at the very time the Academy was announcing this Nobel Prize, the French Parliament was announcing the passage of a new law which would make it as much a crime to deny that the Turks perpetrated genocide against the Armenians as it is to deny that the Germans perpetrated Holocaust against the Jews.

    Moreover, it was probably not lost on the Swedes or the French that both Shafak and Pamuk were criminally prosecuted by Turkish authorities for being fearless advocates for freedom of speech in their homeland – by writing about the Armenian genocide. Of course, no one was surprised when the Muslim fundamentalists who called for their prosecution incited riots in the streets yesterday upon learning of Pamuk’s award and the new French law.

    (For reasons only Turkish nationalists can understand, admitting the historical fact that Turks massacred Armenians to genocidal proportions during and after World War I remains not only a cardinal sin but also a crime in Turkey.)

    But the good news is that Pamuk’s Nobel Prize represents the uncompromising demand the European Union will place on Turkey to recognize and respect universal human rights, including freedom of speech, as a necessary precondition for the membership in the EU it covets.

    So, here’s to Orhan Pamuk – literary genius and civil libertarian!

    NOTE: Apropos civil liberties, a couple weeks ago, the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress passed a law which makes it illegal for U.S. banks and credit cards companies to facilitate transactions between online gambling operators and their predominantly American customers.

    I’ve written a fair amount about this subject as it pertains to the small Caribbean country of Antigua, where online gambling was a thriving industry. So click here for my final word on how this new law will affect Antigua.

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  • Thursday, October 12, 2006 at 11:07 AM

    Plane crash sends New York (and all of America) into 9/11 panic mode…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    At around 3 PM yesterday, news outlets all over America ceased idle reporting on international reaction to Kim Jong IL’s (alleged) nuclear weapons test, the fallout from the Mark Foley (Congressional-Page) sex scandal and even on the breaking news of Madonna following the new celebrity fashion of adopting African babies the way others adopt exotic pets. Because at that time, news broke that a plane had flown into a building in Manhattan; and, evidently, all any news director could think of was “oh my God, it’s another 9/11!”

    In fact, what happened was that a novice pilot, New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, apparently lost control of his small plane and crashed into a 50-storey residential building near 71st Street and York Ave in New York City – in a tragic accident. Period!

    Yet, watching and reading reports, even after these essential facts were firmly established, one could be forgiven the impression that news reporters were trying to convince their viewers that this was indeed another 9/11. Of course, given the deployment of every arsenal in America’s new Department of Homeland Security (with NORAD scrambling jet fighters to patrol the skies of major U.S. cities, including Washington DC – making it difficult for us to work and impossible to sleep), perhaps these reporters could be forgiven their hysteria.

    But, thank God, their hyper reporting proved entirely unwarranted. And, even though my heart goes out to the families of the 2 people who died, I cannot allow my regret for their loss to eclipse my truly heartfelt sorrow for the families of many more Americans who are losing loved ones in Iraq everyday, and with barely a mention by these same hysterical reporters. (Never mind mentioning the Iraqi families who, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins, have lost over 650,000 loved ones. But, here, I clearly digress….)

    NOTE: Sadly, the only thing my friends who are hard-core Yankee fans could recall about Lidle was that he was hired by George Steinbrenner just months ago to help the Yankees through the playoffs. And, that his failure to perform as expected, giving up crucial runs in their loss on Saturday, was the proximate cause for them being kicked out of the playoffs in the first round.

    But no one wants to believe that this humiliation was sufficient to drive him to suicide….

    ENDNOTE: Apropos the Yankees, see the article below entitled The New York Yankees: The worst Baseball team money could buy!

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