Global progress on parade, President’s Day special edition
Congratulations to the world. Sometimes progress tiptoes in on little cat’s feet, as Walt Whitman once said of the fog. But sometimes, it is right there marching down Main Street like a big brass band. That kind of progress is just what the world was putting on display while Americans celebrated President’s Day Weekend by ignoring all ...
Congratulations to the world. Sometimes progress tiptoes in on little cat's feet, as Walt Whitman once said of the fog. But sometimes, it is right there marching down Main Street like a big brass band. That kind of progress is just what the world was putting on display while Americans celebrated President's Day Weekend by ignoring all the big sales and remaining huddled in their underground bunkers snipping their credit cards into tiny bits of plastic.
Congratulations to the world. Sometimes progress tiptoes in on little cat’s feet, as Walt Whitman once said of the fog. But sometimes, it is right there marching down Main Street like a big brass band. That kind of progress is just what the world was putting on display while Americans celebrated President’s Day Weekend by ignoring all the big sales and remaining huddled in their underground bunkers snipping their credit cards into tiny bits of plastic.
For example, we have Saudi Arabia entering the 20th century at a trot, appointing Norah Al-Fayez the first woman to the country’s council of ministers. Admittedly, she only managed an appointment as Deputy Minister of Women’s Education (the top job for educating women was obviously not a job that could be entrusted to a female), but still, it’s better than being sentenced to 200 lashes for being raped. Next up for the progressive desert utopia, allowing women to actually drive a car. Princess Amira al-Taweel, wife of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the 13th richest man in the world, boldly announced a week ago that she is ready to get behind the wheel as soon as her husband’s uncle, King Abdullah, gives the thumbs up. She has been practicing whenever she leaves the country. And readers in the U.S. can feel even better knowing they are probably subsidizing her spins around Geneva or wherever in the family Bentley. After all, given her husband’s status as Citibank’s biggest private shareholder, one can only imagine what she would be forced to drive if it weren’t for the Treasury Department and the taxpayers of the good old U.S. of A. And if they ever take that big step and actually let women drive themselves where they want when they want to, who knows what modern innovation will they will next embrace. Democracy anyone?
Speaking of democracy, let’s hear it for Hugo Chavez and that feel-good story that just keeps on giving, his Bolivarian revolution. On Sunday, Venezuela’s own Horatio Alger, the poor boy who made good through hard work (and ruthless suppression of his opponents), overcame prior setbacks on his campaign to get rid of presidential term limits in his country and won a referendum that will let him stay in office indefinitely… or at least until voters tire of his merry antics (or he runs out of oil money with which to paper over his government’s feckless mismanagement). Just hours before, champion of democratic values that he is, Chavez kicked Luis Herrero, a Spanish member of the European Parliament, out of the country "to preserve the peace and guarantee the election’s normal development." Chavez won a big electoral victory and in so doing sent an important reminder that democracy alone is not enough. (Here Hugo and his onetime nemesis George W. Bush are linked as two of the best examples that sometimes the people get it wrong.)
Back to news of countries in which democracy is about as remote and theoretical as string theory: one of America’s favorite tribal kingdoms in the Middle East scored another victory for our side by bravely standing up to the all-powerful Israel Lobby by denying an entry visa to Shahar Peer, an Israeli tennis player. Peer wanted to compete in the Sony Ericsson World Tennis Association Tournament in Dubai. The WTA immediately condemned the action and then announced that the tournament would go ahead as planned despite the clear violation of its rules by the organizers. Not surprisingly, there was also no sign that the tournament’s sponsors are pulling out either. (Who says invertebrates can’t make it today’s economy?) The UAE, despite its wealth, its close relationship with the U.S. military, the sales of advanced weaponry to the country and its special status as the first friend in the region we’ve decided to help unlock the magic of nuclear power, was seemingly intimidated by the 5’7", 21-year-old Israeli’s two-handed backhanded and steady baseline game. (Admittedly, she does work as a secretary for the Israeli military and might, conceivably, singlehandedly takeover the country between matches.) Nonetheless, if they think she is intimidating, imagine how they would have reacted to the previously highest ranked Israeli woman tennis player, the woman with the fiercest name on the tour: Anna Smashnova.
Finally, this just in: on Valentine’s Day almost 40,000 people kissed in the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square, setting a new world record for mass kissing. This allowed spokespeople from the Calderon Administration to once again deny the country was at risk of becoming a failed state saying, "See, plenty of Mexicans are making out well."
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