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Gender: Male
Hometown: El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles
Home country: US
Current location: East of East L.A.
Member since: Sun Jan 20, 2013, 08:15 PM
Number of posts: 15,305

Journal Archives

John Kerry's French connection:

'Monsieur' John Kerry and the French connection - By Jon FROSCH - Latest update: 27/02/2013

Secretary of state nominee John Kerry has strong ties to France, a fact that hindered his 2004 presidential bid. FRANCE 24 takes a closer look at how this “French connection” has been perceived on both sides of the Atlantic.

Reacting to President Barack Obama’s recent nomination of John Kerry as the next US secretary of state, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius praised his future counterpart’s “personal commitment to Franco-American friendship”.

The comment was a reference to a poorly-kept “secret” that dogged the former Democratic presidential candidate during his bid to unseat then-incumbent George W. Bush in 2004: Kerry has a French connection.

John Kerry was attacked for his French connections during 2004 presidential campaign

The Massachusetts senator attended a Swiss boarding school as a child, learning to speak fluent French –which reportedly worked wonders in courting his wife, Teresa Heinz, whose parents were Portuguese.

He spent summers at his maternal grandparents’ luxurious home in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, a village in the north-western coastal region of Brittany. And he counts Brice Lalonde, a former French green party leader and an environment minister in the early 1990s, as one of his first cousins (Lalonde did not respond to an interview request for this article).

Kerry’s ties to France are indeed part of the reason that “reactions to his nomination have been extremely positive on both the right and left in France,” according to Nicole Bacharan, a specialist in French-American relations and national fellow at Stanford’s public policy think tank, the Hoover Institution.

“He’s obviously very competent and very knowledgeable about foreign policy,” Bacharan said. “But of course the French like him especially because he knows France well and speaks good French.”

Kerry’s strong relationship with France will likely be an advantage in his future as America's top diplomat, particularly in Europe. “When you’re secretary of state, it’s a good thing to be perceived as worldly and sophisticated,” Bacharan noted.

‘Jean Chéri’

But the politician’s “Frenchness” has not always been an advantage. While running for president in 2004, Kerry was ridiculed by Republicans for his closeness to the country seen as having spurned the US by refusing to participate in the Iraq war –though Kerry himself initially voted in favour of the war.

Donald Evans, a commerce secretary under Bush, quipped that Kerry was “of a different political stripe and looks French”, and then-House majority leader Tom DeLay kicked off several speeches to constituents by saying: “Hi. Or, as John Kerry might say, ‘Bonjour’”.

Meanwhile, right-wing pundits, radio and TV hosts at the time often mockingly referred to Kerry as “Monsieur Kerry”, “Jean Chéri”, or “Jean-François Kerry”.

Mindful that any perceived affection for a nation considered a fair-weather ally could be a major liability, Kerry, for the duration of his campaign, largely avoided any reference to his past in France or his attachment to the country, its language, or culture. It was reported that he stopped conversing with French correspondents in French, something he had done with much-noted pleasure for many months.

Though French-American relations have warmed considerably since 2004, Kerry is likely to keep a relatively low profile when it comes to his Gallic "roots". “I don’t think he’ll flash his French connection other than when he’s in France,” Bacharan predicted. “It’s generally not a good thing for a US politician to flaunt any sort of Frenchness.”


looks like ‘Jean Chéri’ gets ‘le dernier rire’ . . .

John Kerry in Paris

Source: Xinhua, english.news.cn

John Kerry in Paris, Mali operation high on agenda

France's President Francois Hollande (1st R) meets with visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd R) at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, France, Feb. 27, 2013.

PARIS, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris on Wednesday for talks with French officials, with Paris-led military operation in Mali expected to top his agenda.

Early in the morning, French President Francois Hollande met the U.S. top diplomat to "talk about the whole range of bilateral and transatlantic relations and the major international issues," the foreign ministry said.

Kerry will have lunch with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius to discuss Paris military operation in Mali "on which (Paris and Washington) are cooperating very closely."

France wants more U.S. and European help, including the U.S. aerial refueling capability for French planes, analysts said. However, the United States was long reluctant to decide any military action in the West African country.

Read more: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-02/27/c_132196744.htm

Didn't realize Hollande was so petit. Maybe he can find an old pair of Sarko's elevator shoes?

Gautier, "Carnaval"


par Théophile Gautier

Venise pour le bal s'habille.
De paillettes tout étoilé,
Scintille, fourmille et babille
Le carnaval bariole.

Arlequin, nègre par son masque,
Serpent par ses mille couleurs,
Rosse d'une note fantasque
Cassandre son souffre-douleurs.

Battant (de l’aile avec sa manche
Comme un pingouin sur un écueil,
Le blanc Pierrot, par une blanche,
Passe la tête et cligne l’oeil.

Le Docteur bolonais rabâche
Avec la basse aux sons traînés;
Polichinelle, qui se fâché,
Se trouve une croche pour nez.

Heurtant Trivelin qui se mouche
Avec un trille extravagant,
A Colombine Scaramouche
Rend son éventail ou son gant.

Sur une cadence se glisse
Un domino ne laissant voir
Qu'un malin regard en coulisse
Aux paupières de satin noir.

Ah ! fine barbe de dentelle,
Que fait voler un souffle pur,
Cet arpège m'a dit : C'est elle!
Malgré tes réseaux, j’en suis sur,

Et j’ai reconnu, rose et fraîche,
Sous l’affreux profil de carton,
Sa lèvre au fin duvet de pèche,
Et la mouche de son menton.

--Emaux et Camées, 1881

2013 Carnival and Mardi Gras Celebrations

Origins of Carnivals: Originally a Christian festival celebrating the events in the run up to Lent culminating in Shrove or Fat Tuesday, Carnivals and Mardi Gras have become colorful and flamboyant spectacles where people dress in elaborate costumes and party into the wee hours, attracting travelers across the globe.

With all its pomp and pageantry, Rio Carnival is the biggest and most well known of the Carnival celebrations. However, the Carnival spirit and celebrations occur everywhere- from the New Orleans Mardi Gras to the Venice Carnival and the Festival of Fools in Paris. Dates and the type of festivities vary from country to country. Some top destinations:
Rio Carnival: 13th-16th February; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio Carnival is the biggest and arguably the best of all the carnivals. Featuring street parades, brass bands, masquerade balls and impromptu street parties that go on long into the night, the Rio Carnival attracts millions of visitors every year.

The center piece of the celebrations is the Sambradome which hosts the infamous Samba Parades of the city’s Samba Schools. Here the 12 best schools compete to be crowned the best Parade of Carnival in a stunning spectacle that is a sea of breathtaking costumes, beautiful girls and well-rehearsed dances. It really has to be seen to be believed.
Venice Carnival: 5th-16th February; Venice, Italy

Believed by many to date back as early as 1296, the Venice Carnival has evolved to become one of the most popular carnivals in the world. It is perhaps best known for the vast array of colorful masks on display during the Festival period with the image of the masked reveler now an international icon of Venice in the winter time.

Visitors can expect spontaneous street performances by bands in the street as well as elaborate paid-for parties. It doesn’t have the same well rehearsed pageantry and choreography as Rio Carnival but has just as much character.
Mardi Gras: 6th January – 16th February; New Orleans, USA

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is like nowhere else in the world. Originally introduced to the city by the Spanish settlers, Mardi Gras on Shrovetide or Fat Tuesday is the culmination of more than a month of Carnival celebrations which start on the 12th night or Feast of Epiphany.

The whole city comes out to celebrate in an atmosphere which is fun, vibrant and downright sassy! Several parades are featured including the Bacchus Parade where the ‘King’ of Mardi Gras ‘throws’ doubloons- small coins with his image on them- into the expectant crowds. Cups and other objects are also thrown by the parade floats into the frenzied masses. Chaotic and awash with color, Mardi Gras New Orleans style is something not to be missed.
Winterlude Festival: 5th – 21st February; Ottawa, Canada

Winterlude offers a completely different experience to any of the other Carnivals. Celebrations are centered upon the canal which features a 9 km long skating lane- the world’s longest outdoor skating venue.

Thousands flock to the venue every year to get involved in all the fun which involves skating displays, snow and ice sculpture competitions, musical concerts at the Winterlude Snowball and much more besides.
Paris Carnival: 14th February; Paris, France

Dating back to the Festival of Fools, the Paris Carnaval is one of the lesser known and more unusual Carnivals but is definitely among the best. As a consequence- the massive crowds that hinder views at Notting Hill or Mardi Gras are not present, and by comparison, it is relatively easy to follow the main parade which centers around the Promenade du Bouef Gras or Fat Cow.

All the usual crazy costumes are present as well as drum bands and music aplenty. Unlike the other Carnivals, it is just a day long event and this year falls on Valentines Day which would certainly make for a date with a difference!
Cologne Carnival: 11th – 17th February; Cologne, Germany

Considered a question of honor to embrace Carnival, all sense of normality disappears during Carnival season in Cologne as the whole city enters the party spirit. Respectable workers ditch their suits for clown costumes and hit the streets to party and dance. At 11.11 am on 11 February the main carnival week is declared officially open with the Women’s Carnival Day.

The main event, Rosenmontag, takes place on the Monday when Cologne has its own unique version of parade through the heart of Cologne. Tractors and highly decorated lorries take over as the city becomes a sea of color.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival: 12th – 21st February; Tenerife, Spain

The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is the second largest of its kind in the world behind Rio de Janeiro. It is no less spectacular and in many ways is the most similar to Rio- from the gorgeous and stunning girls to the marching bands, music and impromptu street celebrations.

All the islanders take part in proceedings which have their own unique twist with the Entierro de La Sardina- the Burial of the Sardine. Everyone dresses in black for the parade in which a home made effigy of a fish is buried to mark the passing of Carnival and the return to ordinary life.

text from: http://www.hostelbookers.com/article/festivals/carnival-and-mardi-gras-celebrations/

Drones: are we shooting the messenger?

Remember James Bond, the guy we shell out 15 bucks a pop to watch extra-judicially blow away evil perps? That's MI5, but US presidents have been granted the same peace-time authority since the CIA was chartered by Congress in 1947, authorizing clandestine and covert operations: http://www.allgov.com/departments/independent-agencies/central-intelligence-agency-cia?agencyid=7293

Have extra-judicial assassinations ever been wholly legal? Apparently not, or Obama wouldn't have felt a need to supply a fresh legal justification. Have they ever been as transparent and accountable as Obama has made them? If they were, would secret agents need to be secret?

So it looks like what's really new here is not a US president authorizing extra-judicial killing, but this US president trying to remain lawful and accountable instead of just secretly slaughtering people. That being the case, wouldn't it be better to focus objections on the policy, which is long-standing, instead of the guy trying to tell us about it, or would we just rather not know at all?

He needs every advocate he can get, here and elsewhere.

We all get played by the media and I see a lot of people here genuinely disappointed by what appears to be some moral failure or other (drones for example) who want their grievances addressed or assuaged. There are probably a few with more insidious agendas. But defending BO between elections is not easy because the noise machine controls just about every channel. I'm often forced to watch CNN in public places and it makes my skin crawl, even with the sound off, because the message is so relentlessly slanted against the Obama admin and toward business concerns like national security (weapons) and oil and GOP views on taxes and "entitlements." And that's what winds up here. CNN is just one of many players of course.

I suppose that sounds conspiratorial but even on the most non-controversial, non-tinfoil level, it is, as big business underwrites most media through advertising or corporate sponsorship, so theirs is the message that gets through. Outside of election season, when BO stands a fair chance of getting his own message out thanks to the billions he has to raise to pay for media buys, it's a losing proposition. So I see the BO admin plowing on, getting what they can and not crying about what they can't, Guantanamo for instance. I hope they don't lose Hagel or Brennan, which is what the current drone blitz is probably about, but they might, and I suspect it has nothing to do with drones and everything to do with Iran. That would be a blow but the BO admin is well versed in the art of losing so to speak and they'll carry on with who and what they can get. And you're right, at this rate 2014 might be another blow.

Anyway the moral of this ramble is that DU needs more advocates like you g4a so don't go changin'. Over and out.

Looks a little chilly doesn't it?

But yeah Joe is having a great trip. Good news out of Munich which he just left, too:

Iran welcomes Biden’s Nuclear talks offer as ‘positive’

Munich, Feb 3:

Iran today responded positively to US Vice-President Joe Biden’s offer to hold direct negotiations with the authorities in Teheran over the country’s contested nuclear programme, but demanded the West to stop building up pressure on the country.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Salehi, who was eagerly awaited at the 49th Munich Security Conference, welcomed Biden’s statement as “positive” and as a “step forward”.

However, he repeated his country’s position that it will be prepared for negotiations with the US only when they take place on an “equal basis”.

“Unfortunately, every time we have negotiated, it was the other side which did not adhere to its commitments,” Salehi told around 400 delegates on the final day of the three—day conference.

Addressing the conference yesterday, Biden said the Obama administration is prepared to hold direct negotiations with Iran to end the stand-off over its nuclear programme if the Iranian leadership takes them seriously.


All that and a trip to Paris too. Lucky guy!

US Vice-President Biden speaks at the 49th Conference on Security Policy in Munich

Joe Biden in Paris to reaffirm US support of France in Mali

Source: RFI

Published on: Monday, February 4, 2013 - Updated on: Monday, February 4, 2013

The U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill, on their arrival at Orly airport, February 3, 2013.

François Hollande receives Joe Biden on Monday, February 4 at the Elysee. The French President and the U.S. Vice President will address key topics, in the first place, the conflict in Mali. Joe Biden renewed support of the United States to the French military intervention, support carefully weighed.

. . . .

It is this vice president to whom Barack Obama has given the task of representing him on this trip to meet those Washington has called the "oldest friends and closest allies" of the United States: Germany, Great Britain and France.

In Paris, Joe Biden is especially reaffirming support of the United States to France "for its intervention in Mali." On the material level, this support is real: Washington provides information, logistics and air refueling of fighter aircraft French. But a few days ago, the White House did not hide its skepticism about operation Serval, fearing that France has not prepared a plan to end the conflict in which it might get stuck.

The United States emphasizes the importance of an immediate deployment of the African Mission in charge of supporting the French troops, and the need to quickly organize free and democratic elections in Mali.

Read more: http://www.rfi.fr/france/20130204-joe-biden-paris-reaffirmer-le-soutien-etats-unis-france-mali

Joe and Jill Biden will have lunch with French President François Hollande this afternoon at the Elysee, the presidential residence in Paris. It's 8:36 a.m. there now. Translation via Google.

please, le président de la République rides in a Citroën écolo hybrid...

. . . naturellement!

His motives may or may not be pure

but at least Hollande got a little respect for what seems like the first time since he got rained on without an umbrella at his inauguration last May:



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