Prime Minister Olmert has announced that he will resign after Kadima (his party) chooses a new leader in the primary elections that were negotiated under pressure with his rivals amidst the turmoil generated from investigations into his dealings. The investigations center around a disgruntled donor who supported Olmert back when he was Mayor of Jerusalem, well prior to Olmert’s turn to support peace negotiations with Syria and Palestine. I’ve heard from smart insiders that the prime "witness"/corrupt donor – Talansky – is a hawkish marionette of Sheldon Adelson, who may be prodding this investigation in an effort to derail negotiations. Upon hearing Olmert’s announcement, right-wing Knesset members immediately questioned Olmert’s legitimacy in his continued determination to pursue peace negotiations with Syria and the Palestinian Authority.
Archive for July, 2008
Today was a very bloody day in Gaza, yet the Western media barely reported it, partly because Hamas has blocked them out, so instead of redoubling efforts to cover things, many in the media just move on. In the meantime, apparent infighting within Hamas is being blamed on Fatah sabotage, even though Fatah is pretty much inoperative in Gaza. More alarmingly, Hamas rounded up hundreds of people, not just Fatah-aligned politicians, but also unaffiliated civil society groups. People are terrified and have no recourse – or voice!
It’s been a known and disappointing reality that Arab aid to Palestinians is significantly less than aid from the West, but it borders on repulsive that even the committed pledges are not being fulfilled, and all this in the midst of a surge in oil prices that is generating hundreds of billions in windfalls to Arab oil producers.
A study from Cornell University demonstrates a correlation between junk/unhealthful food and energy costs. Artificial stuff, junk food and red meat all require more energy and natural resources to produce than fruits, nuts, veggies, etc. So by eating real foods, you are not just helping your health – you are also helping reduce greenhouse emissions.
Interesting cultural observation: in the US, people take one cent or one dollar off to create a perception of value: an iTunes song costs $0.99, not $1.00; a KIND Bar retails for $1.99, not $2; a jacket is on sale for $199 instead of $200. In Great Britain, that "discounted" valuation is a sign of poor quality and is not used. A product costs 1 pound. If it is going to be less, it goes down to 0.79 – 79 pence. Almost nothing is ever sold for 0.99 or 1.99 in the UK, and certainly also not for 99 or 199 pounds. It’s rounded numbers. Telling of the entire business personality of these countries.
Every line in Cameron Crowe’s script for Jerry Maguire (one of my favorite movies) is at once witty and apt. IMDB has a good compilation of some great lines. Besides the ones that have made it into every day life, like "Help me help you", "You had me at hello," and "Show me the money!", here are a couple examples:
Rod Tidwell, Jerry’s only remaining client: You are hanging on by a very thin thread and I dig that about you!
Jerry Maguire: I’m finished, I’m fucked. Twenty four hours ago, man, I was hot! Now… I’m a cautionary tale. You see this jacket I’m wearing, you like it? Because I don’t really need it. Because I’m cloaked in failure! I lost the number one draft picked the night before the draft! Why? Let’s recap: Because a hockey player’s kid made me feel like a superficial jerk. I ate two slices of bad pizza, went to bed and grew a conscience!
Avery Bishop, Jerry’s hard-core fiance: If you ever want me to be with another woman for you, I’d do it. It’s not something I’m interested in. Once, yeah, it seemed normal, but it was just a phase, a college thing, like torn Levi’s or law school for you. Would you like something from the kitchen? I’m gonna get some fruit.
Copy store clerk, after reading Jerry’s Mission/Manifesto: That’s how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there!
Ray, Dorothy’s munchkin son: D’you know that the human head weighs 8 pounds?
Jerry Maguire: Did you know that Troy Aikman, in only six years, has passed for 16,303 yards?
Ray: D’you know that bees and dogs can smell fear?
Jerry Maguire: Did you know that the career record for hits is 4,256 by Pete Rose who is NOT in the Hall of Fame?
Ray: D’you know that my next door neighbor has three rabbits?
Jerry Maguire: I… I can’t compete with that!
Avery Bishop: There is a sensitivity thing that some people have. I don’t have it. I don’t cry at movies, I don’t gush over babies, I don’t buy Christmas presents 5 months early, and I DON’T tell the guy who just ruined both our lives, "Oh, poor baby." But I do love you.
Dorothy: I just want to be inspired.
Dorothy: He’s coming over.
Dorothy: He just lost his best client. I invited the guy over.
Laurel: Dorothy, this is not a guy. It’s a syndrome. Early mid-life. Hanging on to the bottom wrung. "Dear God, don’t let me be alone or I call my newly long suffering assistant without medical for company settlement."
Marcee Tidwell: [shouting, to Jerry] What do you stand for?
Dorothy: How about a little piece of integrity in this world that is so full of greed and a lack of honorability that I don’t know what to tell my son! Except, "Here. Have a look at a guy who isn’t yelling ‘Show me the money." Did you know he’s broke? He is broke and working for you for free! Broke. Broke, broke, broke. I’m sorry I’m just not as good at the insults as she is.
Marcee Tidwell: No, that was pretty good.
Dicky Fox, Jerry’s mentor earlier generation agent: Hey, I don’t have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I failed as much as I have succeeded. But I love my wife. I love my life. And I wish you my kind of success.
Pom Wonderful did something, err, wonderful for the food industry by fighting to uphold the standards of the category in which it leads, pomegranate juice, to the point of successfully suing unscrupulous new entrants who tried to ride on its coattails by marketing lower grade products as if they were the real thing:
"Consumers buy the products to gain the health benefit – if that is not present then there are problems for the category. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should be more active in this area but we all know how under resourced they are. We are trying to protect the integrity of the category." Rob Six, spokesperson for Pom Wonderful
"Purely Juice", a company that claimed to sell purely pomegranate juice that was in fact primarily cane sugar and corn sweetener was ordered to pay $1.5mm to Pom.
The category for healthful snacks where KIND leads gets similarly hurt when consumers are duped into buying "natural" "nutritional" and "energy" bars whose ingredients contain refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup and refined flowers and hydrogenated oils, contributing to the diabetes and obesity epidemics overtaking America. Similar enforcement action should follow for companies – big or small – that manipulate what it means to be "all natural" and "healthful."
Some will criticize this as Shimon Peres’s much-discounted "New Middle East" vision, but I love it, and I am confident that if Israelis and Palestinians get their act together and accept the historical compromises necessary to a comprehensive permanent agreement, this will only be the beginning. Check out this vision for the future of the Arava, intersecting Israel, Jordan and Palestine. It fits nicely within OneVoice’s Imagine 2018 Project.
Jerusalem Post Editor David Horovitz’s interview with Barack Obama is one of the most to-the-point expositions of Senator Barack Obama’s stances on Mideast issues. Horovitz asked strong and straightforward questions, and Obama replied with earnest answers. Anyone who truly cares about understanding the "real" Obama on these issues should read this interview.
Horovitz: You’ve said on this trip that you want to work for an Israeli-Palestinian accommodation from the minute you’re sworn in, so let me ask you about the thesis that there is no prospect of Palestinian moderation prevailing and enabling a peace process to really move forward until Iran’s nuclear drive has been thwarted – that so long as the Teheran-backed extremists of Hamas and so on feel that they are in the ascendant, the moderates can’t prevail and that the whole region is now in this kind of holding mode.
Obama: I think there is no doubt that there is a connection between Iran’s strengthening over the last couple of years, partly because some strategic errors have been made on the part of the West. And [the same goes for] the increasing boldness of Hizbullah and Hamas. But I don’t think that’s the only factor and criterion in the lack of progress.
Hamas’s victory in the [Palestinian Authority] election can partly be traced to a sense of frustration among the Palestinian people over how Fatah, over a relatively lengthy period of time, had failed to deliver basic services. I get a strong impression that [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas and [Prime Minister Salaam] Fayad are doing everything they can to address some of those systemic failures by the Palestinian Authority. The failures of Hamas in Gaza to deliver an improved quality of life for their people give pause to the Palestinians to think that pursuing that approach automatically assures greater benefits.
You know, look, I arrive at this with no illusions as to the difficulty in terms of what is required. But I think it’s important for us to keep working at it, frankly, because Israel’s security and peace in the region depend on it.
If you are struggling to understand why Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, both Shiite, are so popular among Arab masses from Egypt to Palestine and Saudi Arabia, where the predominant religion is Sunni, think of it through a different prism: the culture of Resistance.
The culture of Resistance trumps the schisms of religion, as well as other divisions like nationality, ethnicity, and political persuasion.
The Arab world has been so impregnated with an anti-West, anti-colonialist, anti-occupation, anti-invasion, anti-globalization, anti-Israel ethos, that anything or anyone who stands at the vanguard against these modern suppressors will be greeted with enthusiasm.
The challenge for the good of the Arab Middle East and the world at large is how to channel all of these very real frustrations, that have only been deepened by lack of political accountability and continued authoritarian rule seen as imposed by the West on the Arab population, into a constructive path for progress within the Arab Middle East and outside.
It is not an easy challenge to overcome. If anyone figures it out, they will hold the key to progress and popularity.
At present, you either drive for revolution and cry against oppression in the name of "resistance", or you are part of the establishment and hence seen with suspicion by ordinary Arabs that are not part of the elite.
Great leaders like Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad or Jordanian King Abdullah, who are bringing economic progress to the poor in their country, will have difficulty getting credit, because they are seen as agents of the West.
Democracy and other concepts that should ordinarily appeal to the human quest for freedom similarly have difficulty because they are seen as Western impositions, and part of a cultural colonization.