Monday, May 30, 2005

French voters reject EU Constitution

An appropriate follow-up to the downfall last week of Chancellor Schroeder’s Social Democratic Party in Germany has to be the resounding NON delivered by French voters yesterday at the doorstep of Jacques Chriac and the European Union HQ in Brussels. Old Europa is sinking ever deeper into a state of political, economic, and social crisis while the new EU member states look on in disbelief.

You may have already seen or read news reports and political commentaries about the meaning of the French vote and the consequences for all European Union member countries. Below are links to the German press (
Der Speigel) and German state-run broadcast media (Deutsche Welle) as well as today's Technorati search results for 12,137+ postings on France's EU Constitution referendum, and last but not least an interesting pre-vote commentary by Gwen Pris for

Me? I have absolutely no comment. This is an internal affair for the Europeans to work out amongst themselves without any input from the U.S. of A. America has enough severe problems of its own right now without having to worry about who the French are frying now.

I am just as dumbfounded and shocked as poor ol’ Jacques Chirac. All that work, all that time, all that money, for a NON!!? I’d feel sorry for the guy if I had any feelings for him at all, which I don’t. I wonder how those clear thinking and liberal minded citizens over in the Netherlands are going to vote on Wednesday? I wonder what this means for the fate of the world?? Not much, probably.

Der Speigel:
Going Dutch on the EU Referendum,
Der Spiegel: Chirac Gets French Fried
Deutsche Welle: French vote not end of Europe
Technorati search: EU Constitution
OpenDemocracy: The end of the European Union

Monday, May 23, 2005

Germany's Gerhard Schroeder Down for the Count!

A telephone conversation with Washington D.C. last night:

Me: "Yes Ma'am. He's gone, 1st Round Knockout from what I can see. Results? Tonto's watching the numbers coming in right now on ZDF. What the numbers look like Tonto?"

Tonto: "The numbers (election results) say he's gone. The voters in all 15 German states have told Chancellor Schroeder, the SPD, and the Greens it's time to pack up and get outa here."

Me: "Did you hear? Me too, I'm really happy to see him go too. That lyin', backstabbing, good for nothin' sapsuc........! This is cause for celebration. Mission accomplished I'd say. Can we come home now? We sure do miss the folks back home, you know?!? Pleeeassee!"

(Pause while I'm listening to caller speak.)

Me: "FRANCE!!! Oh no Ma'am, we don't wanna go to France! You know the last time I was over there I almost died from food poisoning. Plus they couldn't understand a darn thing I was saying, kept trying to convince me that all I needed was a shot in the arm. Oh no Ma'am, not France. What else you got in that deck of cards of yours? How 'bout Spain? At least the food is decent down there in..."

Just kidding of course..:-). Right.

I'm sure you've already heard about the brutal defeat handed to Germany's Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schroeder and his Red/Green Coalition in the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen (NRW) by now. The election results prognosis was ready within about 10 minutes after the polls closed last night and Schroeder & Co. were told to start packing! I'm a bit sad to see Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer go though. At least you could count on what Joschka said was what he (almost) believed.

The international news media is just in a feeding frenzy at the moment. If your Deutsch language skills are up to snuff then dig right in here at Der Spiegel's online edition. For English speakers here is what Der Spiegel's english language edition has to say about the NRW elections and you can also follow events on their new (pseudo)blog Daily Take over the next weeks.

I wonder who's next? Ch-Iraq?

Update May 24th:

The ZDF (Second German TV channel) website has a really interesting Macromedia Flash video presentation titled Schicksals Jahr 1945 about the end of WWII in Germany from a German perspective. Moderator is the infamous Guido Knopp, one of Germany's leading documentary film and video producers and The Authority over here on documenting what really went down. The ZDF Flash video includes German survivors of WWII giving their testimony about those last dark days as well, so check it out. Can't get this kind of stuff back in Kansas you know. Riveting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

L.A. Elects Latino Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

The citizens of the sprawling U.S. megalopolis Los Angeles have elected the first Latino mayor in 133 years (since 1872) when the "City of Angels" was nothing more than a dusty frontier outpost of less than 6,000 residents. Here is the full story at the L.A. Times. Be sure to checkout the L.A. Times election blog and other related articles on this important political story.

Here is a brief history on L.A.'s (3) former Latino mayors. O.K., the real number is only 2 1/2 because one former Latino mayor, Manuel Requena who served in 1856, was a stand-in for only 13 days. It seems that the 3-time elected Mayor of Los Angeles, Stephan Clark Foster, had to step out for a few days to head up one of his infamous Lynching Parties so he put the Mexican guy in charge until he got back. Thanks to the folks over at the NNDB website for the great profile and background info on this "Hang 'em High" American frontier politician.

Born and raised in the predominantly Spanish-speaking barrios of East L.A. the newly elected Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa unseated the incumbant James Kahn with the help of a rapidly growing Latin-American voter population in L.A., and help from the African-American voters and from none other than the present Governor of California himself, Arnold Schwarzeneggar.

I wonder what that the Presidente of Mexico Vicente Fox has to say now, especially if he has plans to travel to L.A. to congratulate the new Mexican-American political heavyweight? I can hear him now, that is, if El Presidente ever gets the nerve to show up in L.A. in person:

"Can't we just all get along, por favor?!"

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

"Newsweek Lied, People Died" by Glenn Reynolds

This is one of those Blogosphere Wildfires that doesn't really need much input from me. Professor Glenn Reynolds (author of the Instapundit blog) and fellow bloggers have thrown down the gauntlet at the feet of Newsweek regarding the false report about personell at Guantanomo Bay flushing Korans down toilets.

Start here at MSNBC's, hop over to the Instapundit blog here and just start scrolling down until you reach the May 16th postings, then dive in. Don't miss the barroom brawl that's broken out between the Blogosphere and Adam Cohen & friends of the New York Times re: "Ethics and Blogging" as referenced in Glenn Reynold's May 9th posting here. I should not forget to thank Ingrid over at Uganda Watch for breaking the news early on May 10th here.

Ain't blogging just grand? And you thought that nobody was listening. Me? I'm just going to sit back and read and listen. I love a good fight as long as nobody gets hurt. This is better than that new TV series Deadwood that ethiopundit was writing about the other day.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ethiopia Decides: 2005 Parliamentary Elections

Surely you have heard about the (relative) calm and very high (80-89%) voter turnout at the polls in Ethiopia on Sunday. According to this BBC News article international observers seem to be pleased with the election so far as well as the ruling EPRDF party and to a somewhat lesser extent the main opposition party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD). I guess what really matters in the end is that the people of Ethiopia are satisfied with the voting process and the election results so that they can move forward.

My fellow blog author ethiopundit has been providing the Blogosphere with extensive and excellent insights into politics and life in Ethiopia for many months now. The ethiopundit is clearly not in favor of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front taking a 3rd term in office and his writings are a must read for anyone seriously interested in learning how politics and history work in Ethiopia today. Many many thanks for your tireless work ethioblogger.

Another very good blog on life in Ethiopia is Meskel Square by journalist Andrew Heavens. Meskel Square's blog archive for May 2005 has two good articles about the elections and I'm sure there will be more to follow. Meskel Square is the historic 16-lane traffic junction in the nation's capitol Addis Ababa. Andrew's blog is a great read and he has lot's of good photos of Ethiopia available at Flickr.

So if your want the "inside scoop" on what's going on in this ancient and magnificent African country make sure you stop by ethiopundit and Meskel Square and use the resouces available in their respective blogrolls. Good Luck on the road to democratization Ethiopia and congratulations on the excellent voter turnout. Even children are allowed to vote down there! Maybe we oughta try that out in the "West". I bet you we would have fewer wars and less poverty and corruption in business and international affairs if kids could vote (without their parents in tow, of course).

Let children have a real voice in national politics. Give Kids the Vote!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Mexico's President makes racist slur toward African-Americans

Updated May 16th:

In a speech on Friday last week before a group of Texas businessmen Mexico's President Vicente Fox said and I quote:

"There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States...."

Nah, he didn't say that. Did he? Nah, can't be. He's the Presidente of Mexico. Maybe he meant jobs that not even (black) slaves want to do, or Indans, or something like that. Oder? Lot's of history between Africans and Mexicans and between Native-Americans and Mexicans too.

Here is what the Washington Post and the Chicago Sun Times had to say about this little booboo by "El Presidente". The whole incident has to do with Fox's disappointment with proposed U.S. legislation to tighten borders and attempt better control of illegal immigration from south of the Rio Grande AND to slow down the US$128 billion dollars worth of illegal drugs pouring over the Mexican-U.S. border every year. Just think if that amount of money was re-directed toward helping to relieve the Mexican people's miserable poverty and invested in projects for developing countries around the world. One-hundred-twenty-eight billion dollars is a lot of money El Presidente!!

Talk about the Wild Wild West (Nuevo Laredo). Remember the Alamo. Charge!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Business Success Stories in Africa

Ethan is back from Japan and has posted The Ghanaian Success Story on May 10th to his blog. All writers who really care about Africa need to do more to better research, write, and publish stories that point out Africa’s successes. And yes that goes for Yours Truly most of all.

It is just as easy to find good news and success stories about Africa as it is to find stories about humanitarian crisis, war, and other depressing stuff. One thing we can do better is to stop relying so heavily on the MSM for our news and views and begin to source our own news from people living and working in Africa and by sharing and using more information with one another.

Here is a
related posting at Howard French’s A Glimpse of the World titled “The Africa You Never See”. The original article appeared in the Washington Post and was written by Carol Pineau. Here is the World Bank March 18th press release about Pineau’s documentary film Africa Open for Business and the link to the Africa: Open for Business website.

A “Hat Tip” to Kenya Hudson at
Ambiguous Adventure and to Emeka of The Timbuktu Chronicles for helping to get Pineau’s story out into the Blogosphere last month.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Jewels in the Jungle 1st Anniversary

Today one year ago we (Tonto and I) launched this weblog. We were skeptical that anybody would pay attention. We were not sure that we could consistently keep at it by providing good content to the blog and holding our readers interest. We didn't know squat about Africa, at least that is what our African friends here would tell us when arguments got a bit hot under the collar. We weren't sure if Blogger would last and not crash & burn like they did back in 2003 with their earlier software version(s). We couldn't imagine that blogging would take off like wildfire around the globe at the rate of 40,000 new blogs a day and climbing.

In short, we didn't know nuthin' but we were willing to give it a shot in an attempt to help draw people's attention to Africa. To get people to do more about Africa if all they did was to think about the continent and the people and the invaluable natural wonders of Africa more. And last but not least we were skeptical about the chance that people from all over the globe would be talking back to us and working together with us in order to help us and our readers to understand more about Africa and how Africans view and interact with the world we all live in.

One year later we realize that we were wrong about almost everything. The only thing we were right about is that even if a handfull of people interacted with us via this basic web-based software tool that we would be surprised beyond belief. One year ago we could have never imagined that we would find ourselves in the company and comfort of fellow blog authors and readers of such integrity, talent, courage, and imagination.

So I and Tonto are forever in your debt for a wonderful and challenging year online. We promise to get better at our research and writing and creativity in an effort to inform and "edutain" and share information with our fellow bloggers and readers during the next year(s). Perhaps our combined efforts will help in small ways to light the fires in people's minds and form the global building blocks necessary to build the bridges between us and them, the haves and the have-nots, between you my readers and the beautiful children and people of Africa featured so prominently on this blog during the past year.

Thank you so much for a great year.

Photographer & Friends in Uganda

Susanne & Friends; Jinja District, Uganda
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

The German photographer and teacher Susanne Behnke hanging out with her newfound friends down in Jinja District near Lake Victoria, southeastern Uganda. Thanks Susanne for the use of your wonderful photos on Jewels in the Jungle during our first year in the Blogosphere.

Update May 12th: I've made a few corrections to the captions on photos of schoolchildren that I posted yesterday. The primary school where these photos were taken in 2003 is located in Iganga District of southeastern Uganda. All photos of Uganda (lots of them) I have published to this blog up until today were taken either in Jinja or Iganga districts, in the Busoga Kingdom.

I always confuse Jinja city on Lake Victoria at the source of the Nile river as being in the south of the country, but now we've got that corrected all by ourselves. You can study and download maps of Uganda at the U.N. Cartographic Section site and the U.S. State Department's Bureau of African Affairs has a good background summary on Uganda.

I will have more on how the kids are doing down in Iganga and Jinja districts as soon as we can get some reliable information out of there. That's a whole 'nother story all by itself and I haven't had any substantial information from people in this area working with these children since I'd say June last year. I apparently stumbled upon some information last year about a suspicious group of people (supposedly) working with orphaned children that I wasn't supposed to see or know about, but it would be unfair of me to say more until I know more. I will find out somehow and fortunately it does not involve the children shown in these photos. In the meantime you can learn more about Uganda and their President Museveni at the BBC News Country Profiles and the IRIN News section on Uganda.

Schoolchildren in Uganda: Photo III

Schoolchildren in Iganga District, southeastern Uganda
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

Beautiful, bright little kids. This is also a favorite photo of mine from the series of more than 1000 photographs taken by my friend Susanne during her visit to Uganda in 2003.

Schoolchildren in Uganda: Photo II

Schoolchildren in Iganga District, southeastern Uganda
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

Again, one of my all-time favorite photos of young people hard at work learning. O.K. the Girls are working hard, the Boyz will catch up later.

Schoolchildren in Uganda: Photo I

Schoolgirls in southeastern Uganda - Iganga District
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day 2005

Happy Mother's Day to all those Moms out there who read my blog or just happened to end up here today by accident. I'm gonna have dinner with my family here in Germany in a few minutes, but couldn't pass up a chance to wish you all a nice day. And yes, I did call my Mom back home in the States today to wish her a Happy Mother's Day and tell her that I do love her very much, despite our (sometime) fierce arguments when I'm back home on American soil. Lot's of temperament in the family you know, especially the women. I just wish that I could figure out a way to safely disarm Mom. She always hides her (2) firearms when she hears I'm coming into town so that I can't find them and turn them over to the local sheriff. Other than that my Mom is a real sweet senior citizen and goes to church (almost) every Sunday. I think she leaves the pistol(s) at home, but I'm not sure about some of the other Mom's sittin' up in church. You never know...:-)

So for all those Moms and Moms-to-be and future Mothers out there in the Blogosphere, here is a nice little photo set from the International Rescue Committee titled "Mothers and Children" for your viewing pleasure.

That's it. Ciao Bella Mamas...:-)

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Darfur: New Flash Movie and Children's Drawings

Ingrid over at the Sudan Watch blog has a posting about a new (Macromedia) Flash video on Darfur created by the PHR organization after a trip PHR staffers made to the region this past January. The video music soundtrack was produced by the Berkelee College of Music Women-to-Women Project for Darfur. The soundtrack's main theme is titled “To the Sudanese Women” performed by Farah Siraj. Checkout the video credits for more information about the photographer, video and web producers who collaborated on this fine piece of work made primarily for Internet audiences. We need more online media projects like this about issues and peoples not only in Africa but around the whole planet.

Ingrid also has two postings on
drawings by children who have escaped the killings and atrocities in Darfur and are now living in refugee camps along the Sudanese border with Chad or (God forbid) inside of Sudan itself. Ethan Z has the original scoop on the Children of Darfur’s drawings posted at his blog here.

Spread the word and don’t forget about the people living in these miserable IDP camps, especially the beautiful little children. The next time someone tries to tell you that the Government of Sudan is not responsible for genocidal attacks and murder in the Sudan, remember these people’s words and pictures and the PHR video.

What you do to them (the "GoS is innocent" idiots) after that is your business. I know what I would do but I'm not supposed to talk (write) like that online, at least not on this blog.