Saturday, May 21, 2005


Billion-dollar battle over hippies' favourite sandal:
LOVED by hippies and Hollywood stars alike, Birkenstock sandals are now at the centre of a multi-billion-dollar battle between the firm's heir and his wife.

At stake is the name of the company which sells 40,000 pairs of the no-nonsense shoes every day of the year. Fans include Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwyneth Paltrow and Johnny Depp.

Susanne Papenbrock, 34, is divorcing the firm's heir, Christian Birkenstock, after a 15-year marriage and wants to take the company name with her. Newspapers have dubbed the divorce fight "Dallas on the Rhine".

Ms Papenbrock, who walked out of the River Rhine castle she shared with her husband two years ago, has started a rival company using the Birkenstock name. She markets a sandal called Beautystep that was produced by the "Susanne Birkenstock International" firm and touts her married name in adverts for it. Helped by her blonde good looks the shoe became a hit and she has appeared on numerous German TV talk shows.
Rather like Ben & Jerry, I guess hippie chic is big business. Sheesh, next we'll find out out about big tofu cartels.

While we're doing Europe, don't forget that tonight is the 50th Eurovision Song Contest. Evolving beyond providing fodder for innumerable Benny Hill skits, it's apparently has taken on some sort of transcendental meaning in Euroland:
Over the years, the contest has served as an unlikely metaphor for Europe: parallel politics in a lamé jumpsuit. Eurovision was invented in 1956 by a French music producer called Marcel Bezençon as “a way of uniting the countries of postwar Europe”; the EEC arrived a year later, with only six members. Today the EU has 25 members, and more than 40 countries will compete for tonight’s prize and the right to stage next year’s extravaganza.

What began as an exclusive Western European club has expanded and, in recent years, moved markedly eastwards. As in Europe, the most enthusiastic participants are also the newest. Ukraine are the hosts tonight; Turkey, Latvia and Estonia have won the three previous years. In each case, the winning country hailed its victory as a political breakthrough. “We are no longer knocking at Europe’s door,” declared the Estonian Prime Minister after his country’s victory in 2001. “We are walking through it singing.” (Even by Eurovision standards of hyperbole, this was a stretch: nobody who heard Estonia’s Tanel Padar and Dave Benton perform Everybody could seriously describe it as “singing”.)
Conversely, the countries of Old Europe regard the contest through increasingly jaundiced eyes. The Italians no longer bother to compete. The British regard the whole thing as a camp joke, a stitch-up worthy of smothering under a thick blanket of Terry Wogan mockery; but we still get angry when we lose. Even the Irish, who have won the contest more often than any other nation, claim to be taking it less seriously (and have already been eliminated). France invented the game and won the first three contests, but a new survey of Eurovision voting patterns by a team of Oxford statisticians found France to be notably “out of tune” with the rest of Europe. The French have not won since 1977, and the country seems increasingly disillusioned by a contest it can no longer dominate. A week from now, millions of Frenchmen and women will vote against the EU constitution, for rather similar reasons.
That'll put a song in your heart!
In the end, Eurovision is less a contest than an idea, a vision of Europe, a long-running exercise in hopeful internationalism that is simultaneously naff, hilarious and oddly touching. Away from the pomposity and boredom of Brussels and Strasbourg, this is the one moment of the year we can say “Hello Belgium”, and mean it.

Eurovision can make even the most hardened cynic feel better, or at least superior. Offering predictions about this contest is foolish, but here is one: if France wins the Eurovision Song Contest today, then the French will vote “yes” in the EU referendum.
On that basis, they'll probably rig the voting.

Friday, May 20, 2005

It brings back old times!

Germans back in Paris!

They're back!
PARIS -- Those French citizens who thought they would spend a quiet day at the Louvre this week have found themselves assaulted by German youths, dozens of them...
But they weren't doing the goose step - or at least not yet.
...intent on plying them with blue-and-yellow flags, heaps of literature and long, impassioned arguments.

"I'm asking you, as fellow Europeans, to think about whether you want my people to retreat back into our old history," Hans-Stefan Stemmer, a 20-year-old Berlin university student, told a bewildered elderly couple in fluent French the other day in the museum's elegant courtyard. They declined his offer of European Union flags, but said they'd think about his entreaties.
Was that a threat, Hans?
Mr. Stemmer and hundreds of his comrades are part of a desperate last-ditch effort this week by leaders across Europe to persuade the French to vote in favour of adopting the European Union constitution in a May 29 referendum.

To the shock and horror of French leaders, the people seem prepared to defy the wishes of the elite and cast a majority Non vote. That would invalidate the constitution, which requires approval by all 25 EU countries.

Nothing seems to have worked. Polls this week show the Non side with a slight lead over the Oui vote, even though all the major French political parties are in favour, as are every major newspaper and TV station, most magazines and a truckload of celebrities, from Gérard Depardieu to Jeanne Moreau, who have been hauled in front of TV screens with increasing desperation.

None of it was working, so this week, it was time to bring in the Germans.
Ruh Oh! More by following the link, but the theme of the story is that the French are getting nervous because the EU constitution is too pro-business or pro-market or pro-capitalism. You know - that icky stuff. Sheesh, if you can wade through that mound of tedium and find anything but an ode to bureaucracy, you have a vivid imagination.

Meanwhile, I can't resist mentioning Europe unites in hatred of French:
But now after the publication of a survey of their neighbours' opinions of them at least they no longer have any excuse for not knowing how unpopular they are.
But the knockout punch to French pride came in the way the poll was conducted. People were not asked what they hated in the French, just what they thought of them.

"Interviewees were simply asked an open question - what five adjectives sum up the French," said Olivier Clodong, one of the study's two authors and a professor of social and political communication at the Ecole Superieur de Commerce, in Paris. "The answers were overwhelmingly negative."

According to Mr Clodong, the old adage that France is wonderful, it's just the French who are the problem, is shared across Europe.

"We are admired for our trains, the Airbus and Michelin tyres. But the buck stops there," he said.
Hit the article for the adjectives, but here's a sample:
Interestingly, the Swedes consider them "disobedient, immoral, disorganised, neo-colonialist and dirty".
The Swedes, yet!

A nice smooch from Belinda

Belinda demonstrates her technique

Canada's scandal ridden Liberal government survives by one vote:
The squeaker vote on the Grits' jerry-rigged budget passed, as expected, after tight-lipped Independent MP Chuck Cadman threw in his lot with the government and Speaker Peter Milliken broke the resulting 152-152 tie.

We now face many more months of unprincipled, sleazy government by a scandal-tainted party that has shown it cares about nothing more than staying in power, ruled by a PM whom 63% of Canadians reportedly believe is the most dishonest of all the party leaders.

But hey, on the bright side, we can plan our summer vacations without having to worry about being pestered by annoying politicians or bothering to vote!
Citizens aren't likely to storm Ottawa over the goverment's appalling banana-republic tricks -- suspending Opposition days to worm out of confidence votes; refusing to recognize a 153-150 vote demanding they resign; buying the defection of ex-Tory Belinda Stronach -- even though by rights, they have every reason to.
Fun as it is to blame the whorish ways of Bimbo Belinda, she's outnumbered by the prostitutes in the NDP:
The Liberal-NDP budget just passed hikes spending outrageously, wiping out any claim the Grits once had to fiscal responsibility. (Martin actually tried to tell his caucus last night the budget represented their ideas and vision -- when he knows full well it was concocted in a hotel room with the NDP and union leader Buzz Hargrove. Do even they believe this stuff?)
Not only do we know what the NDP is, we know their price too. But not to worry - all's well that ends well:
Nothing has changed. Except that the Liberals now have up to 10 months to go on blowing our money, dangling sleazy favours and otherwise distracting us from their own corruption. Enjoy your summer.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Today's Hoot!

Proceed immediately to Huffington's Toast and partake of the goodness! My latest fave is Won't You Please Help? by an "Andrew Sullivan":
UNBREAK MY HEART: Two more salvos from Instapundit. Sigh. Look, I like Glenn; by and large, he’s a decent man. But when it comes to his whitewash of Bush’s crimes, I just want to wrap him in an Israeli flag and flush his head in a toilet.
I don't know - the guy looks suspiciously like Pee Wee.

And speaking of ole Andy:
There are a variety of reasons that I don't read Andrew Sullivan anymore including the fact that he's a pretend conservative who voted for John Kerry, is inconsistent, confused, intellectually dishonest, obsessed with gay marriage, & loathes religious people.

But today, via Glenn Reynolds ("SULLIVAN seems to think that I should be blogging more about Abu Ghraib,") I learned that there's a new reason to dislike Andrew Sullivan: he's still blathering on about Abu Ghraib.
I guess he has an intense interest in dungeon bondage scenes and wearing panties on his noggin. But you do have to wonder why he's so supportive of the Islamofascists - take Amsterdam - It may be Europe's most liberal city - but if you are gay, you had best beware:
WHEN the editor of one of America’s leading gay magazines visited the world’s gay capital a fortnight ago, he assumed that he would be safe.

But as Chris Crain, editor of the Washington Blade, was walking hand in hand with his boyfriend near one of the gay districts in Amsterdam, two men standing on a street corner spat at his face. He stopped to ask why, was called a “fag” and suddenly the two youths turned into seven.

Surrounded, Mr Crain was kicked to the ground by the gang and ended up in hospital with a broken nose and badly bruised face.

His attackers were Moroccan youths, blamed by Dutch gay rights groups for a disturbing rise of gay-bashing, as conservative Islamic culture clashes with Dutch liberalism.
Hey, maybe Andy's into that kind of thing? But it's no more puzzling than why there are Moroccans in Amsterdam.

Gosh! I thought Terry Moran was just a whiney little punk!

King Terry Moran pretending he isn't a whiney punk

Who knew he was royalty?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it!

Contrite Vincente Fox Promises to Carry Al Sharpton Around on his Shoulders for a Week:
Mexico City, Mexico. - Frustrated that his racially-insensitive remarks have hampered his ability to unload his poverty-ridden peasants on the US, a contrite President Vincente Fox agreed to make symbolic amends to the African American community today.

The Mexican El Presidente has agreed to carry around a mostly-naked Al Sharpton on his shoulder for an entire week.
Click through for a fetching snap!

Newsweek may not be much on accuracy...

Chirac the dinosaur

But you can't beat them on comedy, as this week's cover story of their International Edition illustrates - France: Delusions of Grandeur:
Deep in rural France, the ancient village of Sarran (population: 300) boasts a strange museum. It's a 4 million euro building, constructed at the expense of today's French and European taxpayers, and very modern, to be sure. But its spirit harks back to the cabinets de curiosite of the 18th century, in which the great dilettantes of the French Enlightenment accumulated vast eccentric collections that often revealed the hidden corners of their minds. Sarran's cabinet is all about French President Jacques Chirac, who traces his family roots and his political origins to this region of Correze.
It's sure swell of the "French and European taxpayers" to kick in for a Chirac museum while the weasel is still in office. He's a legend in his own time! Later on, we find out his wife is deputy mayor of Sarran and responsible for snagging the Chirac amusement park. But I digress:
At Sarran's Musee du President Jacques Chirac, there's a huge, ugly stuffed fish, a coelacanth, "often called a living fossil," according to a nearby plaque. The aging Chirac, with his fixation on the glories of the French past, has come to be seen in much the same light.
Last month a public epiphany flashed through France when Chirac tried to answer questions about the [EU] referendum posed by a preselected group of French young people. They wanted to hear about jobs, not glory, schools, not grandeur. He looked like he'd been bushwhacked. They said they were afraid. "I have trouble understanding," he replied. For ordinary French, that said it all.
Maybe because he's been listening too much to that Napolean violet sniffer, Dominique de Villepin:
Chirac is intelligent but no intellectual. Villepin is, and he feeds the president a steady stream of semimystical rhetoric about French history. In a bizarre little manifesto called "The Cry of the Gargoyle," published after Chirac's re-election in 2002, Villepin's messianic tone echoed the Book of Lamentations. "Today orphaned, unsteady, easily disillusioned, France still burns with a desire for history; she has kept intact the flame of a great nation, eager to defend her rank." As Villepin wrote, he and Chirac dream of "a France capable of transcending and astounding the world."
OK by me, but perpetually acting like sleazy weasels isn't going to make it.

Much more by following the link, including:
Some suspect that Chirac sees "Europe" as a sort of muscle suit he can zip on over the gangly frame of France.
Sheesh, how long before he offers to let us feel his muscle?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

She learned at Bubba's knee

Belinda Stronach and her mentor Bill Clinton
Belinda Stronach and Bubba the Love Sponge

Captain Ed waxes lyrical on Belinda Stronach, but he forgot to mention the Bubba Connection. What other Western politician would you call first for sleazy advice? As a Freeper observed last year:
She would probably screw Canada too.
She just did.

Update: Ed has added the Bubba Connection.

Idiot season has opened and there aren't any bag limits!

Indra Nooyi stupid fat cow

Yep, it's commencement time which means a flock of fools spouting ridiculous blather will be boring graduates all around the nation. Break out your field duds, grab the 12 gauge, and keep your eyes peeled!

To start it off, Power Line alerts us to a prime specimen: Indra Nooyi, the president and CFO of PepsiCo, who told the Columbia Business School grads that the USA is the "middle finger" of the world. I guess being a sugar water peddler entitles ole Indra to look down on us lowly Americans. Or makes her immune to irony. But it does make you wonder why you would consume any of the many PepsiCo products when management thinks so little of you, doesn't it? Contacts for PepsiCo include the ever popular, but a word to your local Pepsi bottler might prove most satisfactory.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Today's Hoot!

"Well, it was that fateful day when Ariana Huffington, using money she had ripped off from the clueless male millionaires in her life, invited every previously extinct media life form onto her page.

"Yes, in just one day, the stupor that was Huffington and Associates was uncorked and poured out over the net driving millions of otherwise intelligent people back into the waiting arms of AOL and even, for some of the really traumatized, into the arms of the United States Postal Service.

What will I do without MoDo?

Decisions, decisions:
The New York Times Co. on Monday said that, starting in September, access to Op-Ed and certain of its top news columnists on the paper's Web site will only be available through a fee of $49.95 a year.
Dang, I must have left my wallet at home.

What's wrong with this picture?

American way of life attacked in films at Cannes:
CANNES, France (Reuters) - The dark underside of the United States has taken center stage in several films at Cannes this year, capped on Monday with a scathing attack of past and present racism in America by Danish director Lars von Trier.
Von Trier, whose fear of flying has prevented him from visiting the United States...
Ruh Oh! Don't worry though, ole Lars is a big expert on the USA anyhow:
...he said he enjoyed bashing America on screen because it invades his life even in Denmark.

"We are all under the influence -- and it's a very bad influence -- from America," said the 49-year-old Dane. "In my country everything has to do with America. America is kind of sitting on the world.
See what happens when you don't wear your tin foil beanie, Lars?

'Twas a famous victory

EU Referendum:
Let us remember, that the only successful part of the post-tsunami effort was the early “coalition of the willing” led by the United States and Australia that actually delivered the aid to the appropriate places, helped to distribute it, laid on clean water and so on and so on. At the time we wrote a good deal about it.

Then came the international aid bureaucracy, established itself quite comfortably and proceeded to muck everything up, wasting and worse all that had been extracted from generous people round the world.

Never mind, though. These people, as Mark Steyn says, make all the right noises and get feted by their chums in the media.
Lots more by following the link.

It's the crack mainstream media again! (And I do mean crack.)

Damian Penny suggests "Um...sorry?". Of course, Newsweek's bias and incompetence isn't the real problem - that lies with the religion of the perpetually offended and their leftoid buttmonkeys. More here and here.

UPDATE: But there's always an upside:
In an effort to help in the grieving process, the magazine's publisher said that immediate family members of the dead would receive a free 90-day trial subscription to Newsweek.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Jimmy Carter - the gift that keeps on giving

Kind of like the clap:
While we have our eyes on the Middle East and the recent good news out of there, a danger to democracy is brewing right here in our backyard. Venezuela, long one of Latin America's strongest democracies, is now under siege by its president, Hugo Chavez. Thanks to an ill-judged intervention by former President Jimmy Carter, Chavez narrowly survived a recall election and has now accelerated his subversion of Venezuela's democracy by a scummy deal with Fidel Castro.
Chavez has granted Cuban judicial and security forces extensive police powers within Venezuela. Cubans are already running the intelligence services and indoctrinating and training the military. They will effectively bypass what is left of Venezuela's judicial system when they exercise new powers to investigate, seize, detain, and interrogate Venezuelans and Cubans living in Venezuela, with the right to extradite them to Cuba and try them there. This threatens the safety of some 30,000 Cubans in Venezuela.
To get a sense of the degree to which Chavez is intimidating his opponents and harassing dissidents, just read the language of a new criminal law that he pushed through the legislature: "Any individual who creates panic in the community or makes it restless by disseminating false information via print media, radio, TV, phone, electronic mail, or pamphlets will be punished with two to five years in prison." Even the most popular form of political protest, banging pots and pans, done in the presence of members of his government, now carries with it up to a three-month jail sentence.
Alas, our own President Carter compromised the hopes of Venezuelans in the recall election by prematurely endorsing the vote that Chavez did not earn or deserve. Carter's people counted fewer than 1 percent of the polling stations, which, instead of being selected at random, as originally anticipated, were selected by Venezuelan officials. Even then, only 76 of the previously agreed 192 ballot boxes were counted, with either opposition witnesses or international observers present at only 26 out of the 76 boxes reviewed. The Chavez-controlled National Electoral Council (CNE) forbade access to the tallying centers, not only to Carter's people but to the representatives of the opposition, and even to the two members of the CNE who opposed Chavez. Two professors from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology issued a report concluding that there was at least a 99 percent chance the election was a fraud. The audited sample (Carter's) was simply not a random sample, the professors concluded. Various independent exit polls showed that Chavez had lost the vote by 59 percent to 41 percent, instead of Chavez's contention that he had won by that margin.

Jimmy Carter, in effect, provided a seal of approval for a left-wing demagogue intent on destroying democracy in Venezuela even as he seeks to extend his ideology to other parts of Latin America.
On the other hand, ole Jimmy's a perfect indicator on any political question. If he's in favor of it, it's bad for America.