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Archive for the ‘2008’ Category

I’ll never be a picture perfect Beyonce
Fly like J-Lo
Or singing baby like Ashanti
I barely comb my hair
Yea that’s on a good day
I don’t care what the hood say
I ain’t street like Keyshia
Ain’t never tried to be
And I got soul in my soul
But not quite like Mary
Ain’t nothing really R&B about me
And I said bump what the hood say
I’m sorry I ain’t in the Benzes in my videos
I’m sorry I ain’t even really tryna match my clothes
I can tell you better bigger for my Queen did
But I can’t also tell you who the King dealer is
And I got knowledge if you really want to talk about it
No I don’t trust the park just to walk around it
So I’m writing the letter to the industry
It says fuck you signed sincerely

Awww yeah
Here we go again
Solo can you tone it down
Be more like them
But everything I’m not
makes me everything I am

Awww yeah
Ooh here we go again
People talking shit
But when the shit hits the fan
Everything I’m not
Makes me everything I am

I’m not a goody-goody
But I don’t watch my mouth
like I’m a goody-goody
But I appreciate the ones who rooting for me
‘Cause everybody gone/got an opinion baby
And I been feeling lately
Like I can’t help it
Big up haters
If you don’t like it
I didn’t make it
for you ooh ooooh
You ooh ooooh
I’m not apologetic
If you don’t like it, it’s probably ’cause you don’t get it
And you can tell the world
What you heard I said
And I ain’t talking about me
I’m talking bout the ones who represent what I believe
The fresh kids
The what comes next kids
The see you at the art exhibit
Oh hell yes kid
The politic kids
The be your thing and declare your independence kids
If I’ma vote for something
I’ma go Barack the vote this year
Talking ’bout the ones
who said enough
But I got too much I don’t give a what’ in my cup
Now I don’t care what the next man is saying
I’m just saying to the industry
This is fuck you signed sincerely

Oh yeah
Oh here we go again
People talking shit
I don’t give a damn
Everything I’m not
Makes me everything I am

Oooh yeah
Oh here we go again
People talking shit with no pot to piss in
But everything I’m not
Is everything I can

I can do anything
I remember the Doc sayin’
What you gone do, girl you 17
Ohhhh ohhhh ohhh ohhh
Ohhhh ohhhh ohhh ohhh

‘Ye ripped on this track, made it into a jam
I just borrowed it just to tell you who I am
Ohhhh ohhhh ohhh ohhh
Ohhhh ohhhh ohhh ohhh

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newyorkerThis is my rewrite of the blog post “Michelle Obama and the Politics of Shifting” on Womanist Musings. I tried to preserve her opinions (which I do not completely agree with) but wrote it the way I would have. It is a writing exercise on my part.

Michelle Obama will be America’s first black first lady. Think of it: a black woman held up to America as the height of grace, beauty and intelligence! She is already being compared to Jackie O.

And yet even though Michelle Obama will look black on the outside, she will have to act like she is white on the inside. She will have to hide her blackness.

Many whites are comfortable with her as a buppie – a black urban professional. But when she lets her black side show, when she questions the built-in unfairness of American society, it starts to make whites uncomfortable.

Imagine, for example, if she brought up something as simple as serving collard greens in her interview with Barbara Walters. How would that have changed the interview? When you remind white people that you are black, it makes them uncomfortable. Americans are all supposed to be the same but they are not the same.

Barack Obama fed this lie when he said that there is no white America and no black America, just the United States of America. It is a lie because America is still divided by race, The death threats against him show it. But now Michelle is a slave to that lie. To be her natural black self would make too many white people uncomfortable and cost her husband the support he needs.

To make it to the top of American society you need more than just money. You need to act white too – or be cast out. Because the top of American society is that white. Whites set the unwritten rules for that level of society.

Why do Bill Cosby and Shelby Steele put down ghetto behaviour so much? Is it to help poor black people in the ghetto? No: it is to show rich white people that they are not one of “those people”.

Michelle Obama grew up as one of “those people”. She will have to distance herself.

As buppies the Obamas already act white to a degree. But now they will have to go all the way or find themselves shut out.

That New Yorker cover where Michelle has an Afro is a sign and a warning, even if it was meant as a piece of humour. It is a sign that natural blackness – like the Afro – is not acceptable to whites, that it is even a bit threatening. And a warning of the kinds of things that could come if the upper reaches of white America start to see the Obamas as “not one of us”.

So Michelle will have to hide her true black self in public and keep it to her private moments. Most public figures have to watch what they say and do, it is true, but for Michelle it goes beyond that to who she is as a person.

That is the price of success.

See also:

  • Michelle Obama and the Politics of Shifting – the post on Womanist Musings that this is a rewrite of.
  • colonial intelligentsia – how they have to walk a fine line between their own people and the colonial masters. Think Gandhi, Lenin and even Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Michelle Obama will be Amerca’s first black first lady, but how black can she be? There is an excellent post about this at Womanist Musings. Here is some of it (the bold lettering is mine):

CHICO'S FAS, INC.; WHITE HOUSE | BLACK MARKET DRESSTo remain the idol of all, Michelle must deny, or create as invisible, any aspect of her identity that is uniquely African American. For acceptability to be maintained she must keep the conversation on a level that whites can feel comfortable with at all times; otherwise she will be reduced to an “exotic other” in an effort to discipline her into performing.

….

This is where the disconnect begins; to prosper and function one must necessarily adopt the behaviour patterns of those that are most able to help you succeed, but the cost is losing a true connection to African American culture. It means performing for others and saving your true self for more private moments.

….

Though Michelle is now held up as a representative of black womanhood, it is a false designation because her class status will not allow her to publicly display her African American culture without being attacked. She is a slave to the very concept of the post racial world that she and her husband tried so valiantly to declare. Throughout the entirety of her husband’s tenure as President she must remain an enigma; shifting from situation to situation.

….

Acceptability and representing black womanhood comes at a cost. How can she ever be her true self as long as we continue to deny that there is a difference between Black America and White America? Culture and class combine to ensure that a successful person of color will forever perform on a stage that is not of their own choosing.

Read the whole thing at Womanist Musings: Michelle Obama and the Politics of Shifting.

See also:

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citiCiti (1812- ), also known as Citigroup, Citicorp or Citibank, is the biggest bank on Wall Street. Unlike Lehman Brothers, it is considered to be “too big to fail”: if it fell, too many other banks and companies would fall too. So on Monday November 24th 2008 the American government bought a $20 billion stake in the bank and stood behind hundreds of billions of dollars of possibly bad loans. This comes on top of a $25 billion stake the government had bought several weeks before.

All this money is coming from the $700 billion in taxes the government is using to save Wall Street.

The stock market, which fell below 8,000 last week, rose by almost 400 points on the news.

Citi has lost billions in the subprime mortgage crisis and the credit crunch that followed. It had made billions of dollars of home loans to people with bad credit histories.

Citi’s stock price, which stood above $50 before the crisis hit in August 2007, had fallen to $25 by February 2008 and $12 by October. In November it sank even further, to less than $4. Citi has been losing billions and laying off tens of thousands of workers.

4530citibankCiti is huge. It has branches all over the world and has money in every field of banking. It lends money to foreign governments and to ordinary people. It aims to be a universal bank, a bank you can turn to no matter what you want.

If you have a credit card from Macy’s, Sears, Shell, Home Depot or Staples it is, in fact, behind the scenes, a card from Citi. Even some American Express cards come from Citi.

In the 1960s it gave the world the MasterCard. In the 1970s it was one of the the first banks to have ATMs, money machines. In the 1980s it was one of the big banks in New York. In 1998 it became not just big, but huge when it merged with the Travelers Group and changed its name from Citicorp to Citigroup. (It later parted ways with Travelers and changed its name to just Citi).

Citi is made up of not just the old City Bank of New York but also all the other banks and companies it has bought or merged with along the way: Bank Handlowy, Smith Barney (“We make money the old-fashioned way. We earn it.”), Salomon Brothers, Banamex, Primerica and others.

bintalalIt is now partly owned by not just the American government, but also by Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and a Saudi Arabian prince, Alwaleed bin Talal.

Its size is what has saved it – so far. Losses in one part of the company can be made up by gains in others. And when all else fails, the American government can pump in billions!

Yet its huge size makes it hard to manage and lead, makes it slow to change. And all the little pieces that have been bought up over the years do not work well together and that will not change overnight.

– Abagond, 2008.

See also:

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michelleandbarackleavingspiaggia115

I saw this one on the Black Snob. It shows Barack and Michelle Obama leaving Spiaggia Restaurant in Chicago. For some reason it seems like such a cool picture to me. I think it has to do with how he seems so ordinary in this picture – a man taking his wife out – and yet knowing that he will be president.

See also:

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Laurent Nkunda

FILES-DRCONGO-UNREST-MILITARY-NKUNDA

Laurent Nkunda (1967- ) is a Tutsi, the general of a break-away piece of the army in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the DRC, once known as Zaire. He commands about 4000 men in the middle of Africa

As of this writing, in early November 2008, he controls a small bit of eastern Congo near Rwanda. He is fighting to take over the city of Goma and has threatened to take over the whole country. The Congolese army, Hutu forces and United Nations peacekeepers are trying to stop him. Over 200,000 have fled their homes because of the current fighting. The United Nations calls it “a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic dimensions”.

Some say Nkunda is just power-mad. Some say he is a Rwandan-backed rebel. Some say it is all about controlling the mines in the region. His actions make most sense if you view him not as Congolese or even Rwandan but as a Tutsi commander who is fighting in an on-again-off-again war between the Hutus and Tutsis, a war that began with the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.

In 1994 Hutus in Rwanda killed over 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis. Tutsi forces took over Rwanda and then Congo. Joseph Kabila, the current ruler of Congo, was born in Rwanda, not in Congo! Nkunda, in fact, fought with Kabila’s father in 1997 to overthrow the government there.

The Hutus who had done the killings fled to eastern Congo and formed the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the FDLR. They are still there fighting. Nkunda wants to destroy them: the Congolese army itself is either too weak or too unwilling to do it.

A peace deal was signed in 2003 – thus the United Nations peacekeepers that are there. But the peace is falling apart.

When the war ended in 2003, Nkunda’s forces became a part of the Congolese army. Kind of: they answer only to him, not the government, and are unwilling to lay down their arms until Hutu forces in eastern Congo do the same. The Hutus in turn are afraid to go back home to Rwanda and so must stay the field.

Nkunda, born in Congo, has fought in both Congolese and Rwandan armies, but he has always fought with and for Tutsis.

rebelsforchristNkunda is a Pentecostal Christian, like many in his army. He wears a button that says “Rebels for Christ”.

The government wants to arrest him for war crimes. Amnesty International says he forces 12-year-old boys to become soldiers. Refugees International says his army kills, rapes and robs the defenceless. He has been accused of killing 160 unarmed people in May 2002 in Kisangani, a town of diamonds. There were reports of the same in Kiwanja last week: this time 180 were reported killed.

Nkunda can speak four languages: French, English, Swahili and Kinyarwanda. His English is good.

Nkunda comes from a small town north of Goma. His family raises cows and makes cheese. They sent him to university where he studied psychology, but ever since the 1994 genocide he has been a soldier.

Nkunda is married with four children.

See also:

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Malia Obama

obamakidsMalia Obama (1998- ), born on the day that America turned 222 years old, is the older daughter of Barack Obama. She is now ten. If her father serves two full terms, she will be 18 when he leaves office. She will grow up from girl to woman before our eyes.

She and her sister Sasha, three years younger, will be the youngest children in the White House since Amy Carter, who was nine when her father became president in 1977.

The Obamas have been careful to keep their girls out of the public eye, therefore little is known about Malia. As of November 2008 she does not even have a Wikipedia article.

We know that she is looking forward to decorating her new room at the White House and getting her first dog, something her father promised, win or lose, once the campaign was over.

She is a fifth grader at the University of Chicago Lab School. She is like any other fifth grader – who has bodyguards. She is learning piano, dance and plays soccer.

Her bedtime is 8:30 pm. She gets $1 allowance a week for doing her chores. For birthdays, her parents do not give her gifts but instead throw a sleepover birthday party for her and her friends. She says she knows there is a Santa Claus because there is no way her parents would buy her all that stuff.

She likes the Jonas Brothers, a boy band that her father had no idea of until he saw posters of them on her wall. He wondered why she needed so many. She also likes Beyonce and watching “Hannah Montana” on the Disney Channel.

She thinks it is strange how her father shakes her friends’ hands – instead of just waving and saying “hi”. She gives him advice on how to be cool.

Her mother has been very careful to keep her life as ordinary as possible during Barack’s rise to power. Till now Malia has lived in the South Side of Chicago all her life. Instead of moving to Washington, DC when her father became a senator, the family stayed in Chicago with Barack flying back and forth.

Even during most of the 2008 campaign her life did not change much: she stayed at home in Chicago and went to school. The main change was that her grandmother was taking care of her. In the summer she was out on the campaign with her parents.

Because her father is so famous, she got to meet the Jonas Brothers. And see her own mother in People magazine, as if she was important like Angelina Jolie or something.

Malia’s life is about to become very different. A new school, new friends, a new house – and life in a fishbowl.

The White House is a palace. It has its own cinema (complete with popcorn), bowling alley, grand piano, tennis courts, pastry shop, swimming pool, cooks, butlers and servants. She will not have to make her own bed, clear the table, set her alarm clock – or even walk the new dog.

See also:

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20081101issuecovus400Barack Obama won the 2008 election!!! The first black American president.

I was overseas in Rome at the time. There were posters of him all over the place. One said “Il Mondo Cambia” (“The world changes”), another said, “Yes He Can” and a third said, “Oh yeah”.

Overseas, people seemed to think it was a great day in American history. They were proud of America! It was almost as if Obama had become the president of the world, not just 4.6% of it.

It was not till I got back home to America that I began to hear of the ugly doubts and fears: the flags at half-mast, white people buying guns, the Associated Press asking whether whites should be frightened.

Sad. But what is sadder still is that it does not surprise me. There is something dark and ugly in the American soul that is still far from dead. A side that has been there for hundreds of years and which Sarah Palin tried to call forth.

Obama’s victory speech – the whole thing, not the little bits that CNN kept showing – was so beautiful it made me cry. No speech has ever affected me like that. I know he will be a great man, one of the best presidents America has ever had. A good thing too since we seem to be entering bad times.

Of all the reactions I liked that of Condoleezza Rice the best, a black Republican who remembers the Jim Crow South. I forget what she said, but the look on her face – the joy, the pride and the happy wonder – said it all.

The best newspaper headline: “In Our Lifetime”. How many of us even a year ago ever thought we would live to see this day?

It seems too good to be true. So good that it makes me afraid that something terrible will take it all away.

Barack Obama is only a man. He cannot walk on water. He cannot cast out demons from the American soul. He cannot work wonders: America will remain divided by race. But a black president is still a huge step forward and a cause for hope.

Most white people voted for McCain, it is true, yet Obama won because race in America is changing: partly because it is not as white as it used to be, partly because the bad old Jim Crow ideas of race are dying out (even as the more subtle ones of colour-blind racism live on).

If nothing else, with a black man as the commander-in-chief and a black woman as the first lady – the closest thing America has to a king and queen – white people will never be able to think about blacks quite the same way again.

And, if nothing else, my two sons, 11 and 13, who take Obama’s victory for granted, being too young to understand how wonderful a thing it is, they will know – better yet, take for granted – that they can do anything they set their minds to.

See also:

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Another ringer with the slick trigger finger
For Her Majesty
Another one with the golden tongue
Poisoning your fantasy
Another bill from a killer
Turned a thriller to a tragedy

A door left open
A woman walking by
A drop in the water
A look in the eye
A phone on the table
A man on your side
Oh, someone that you think that you can trust
Is just
Another way to die

Another tricky little gun
Giving solace to the one
That will never see the sunshine
Another inch of your life sacrificed for your brother,
In the nick of time
Another dirty money “heaven sent honey”,
Turning on a dime

Well, a door left open
A woman walking by
A drop in the water
A look in the eye
A phone on the table
A man on your side
Someone that you think that you can trust
Is just
Another way to die

(it’s just another)
Hey! Another way to die!
(Another way to die…)
Shoot ‘em, bang bang!
Oh oh oh oh oh oh!
Oh oh oh oh oh oh!
Oh oh oh oh oh oh!
Oh oh oh oh oh oh…

Another girl with her finger
On the world singing to
you what you wanna hear?
Another gun thrown down and surrendered
Took away your fear
Hey!
Another man that stands right behind you
Looking in the mirror

Oh, a door left open
A woman walking by
A drop in the water
A look in the eye
A phone on the table
A man on your side
Someone that you think that you can trust
Is just
Another way to die

It’s another way!
Shoot ’em up, bang bang!
Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!
(Another way, another way…)
Yeah!
(Another way, another way…)
Bang bang bang bang!

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nobel-prizeThe Nobel Prizes are given every year to those who have benefited mankind the most in one of six fields: peace, literature, medicine, physics, chemistry and economics. It is a high honour – and you get a good bit of money too: more than a million dollars American (132,000 metric crowns).

Here are the Nobel Prize winners for 2008:

Peace:

Martti Ahtisaari, a United Nations peacemaker and president of Finland in the late 1990s. For more than 30 years he has gone all over the world to help make peace, in places like the Horn of Africa, Namibia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Aceh in Indonesia. He is particularly proud of Namibia, whose independence from South Africa he helped to work out after many long years. Namibia made him an honorary citizen.

Literature:

Jean-Marie Le Clezio, who is possibly the greatest living French writer. Among his better known works are “Onitsha” (1991) and “Wandering Star” (1992), but it was “The Interrogation” (1963) that made his name. He has travelled the world and even lived with the Embera Indians of Panama for a time. It gave him something of an outsider’s view of life in the West, especially life in its big cities.

Medicine:

This one was split between three scientists: Francoise Barre-Sinoussi (a woman) and Luc Montagnier, both from France, who discovered HIV, the virus that causes Aids, and a German, Harald zur Hausen, who discovered another virus, HPV, which is found in nearly all women with cervical cancer

Physics:

Half of the physics prize goes to Yoichiro Nambu, who discovered the broken symmetry of the universe, and the other half is split between Makoto Kobayashi (not the artist) and Toshihide Maskawa, who applied Nambu’s theory to show that there was an unknown set of quarks, which have since been discovered. Broken symmetry means that the laws of the physics do not work the same way in all directions in space and time. Not what you would expect. All three were born in Japan, but Nambu is now an American.

Chemistry:

Won by two Americans – Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien – and one Japanese scientist – Osamu Shimonura – for their work on GFP – green fluorescent protein. GFP, found in jellyfish, gives off a green light. Shimonura found the protein that was causing the light, Chalfie found a way to put it in other animals to study how parts of the body, healthy or diseased, grow and change, while Tsien found ways to make the light stronger and give off different colours.

Economics:

Paul Krugman, an American economist at Princeton, who has long pointed out what was wrong in President Bush’s policies from the pages of the New York Times. He won the Nobel not for that, but for his work on trade patterns. He has shown how world trade (globalization) has given us huge cities and huge backward regions where people are poor.

For those at home who are keeping score:

  • America: Nambu (Japanese-born), Krugman, Chalfie, Tsien
  • Japan: Kobayashi, Maskawa, Shimonura
  • France: Le Clezio, Barre-Sinoussi, Montagnier
  • Finland: Ahtisaari
  • Germany: zur Hausen

See also:

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As I write this a month before the 2008 election for the next American president, Barack Obama is leading in the opinion polls over John McCain by 11 percentage points. So at the rate things are going Obama should crush McCain.

But wait, not so fast!

In 1982 Tom Bradley ran for governor of California. He was leading in the polls and even on election day the exit polls showed that he would win. But he lost.

Tom Bradley was black. As it turns out, when a black man runs against a white man in America, between 5% to 15% of white voters will lie when answering opinion polls and even exit polls. Maybe because they do not want to seem racist.

This is called the Bradley Effect. It affects not just blacks, but women too.

So will the Bradley Effect affect Obama, a black man running against John McCain, a white man? Well, it did in some of the Democratic primaries earlier in the year when he ran against Hillary Clinton, a white woman. You saw it in some of the states, but not all of them: mainly those that were less than 8% black. In other states stronger-than-expected black support was able to match or overcome the Bradley Effect.

The country as a whole is 13% black, so while Obama might not win by 11 points, he would still win. But in the primaries he was running against a white woman. Against McCain, a white man, the Bradley Effect should be worse.

The Bradley Effect only concerns whites who lie when answering polls. Some whites, of course, are plain about not voting for Obama just because he is black.

What the primaries told us:

Obama did well among those whites who are under 45 and have a university degree; he did poorly among whites who are old enough to remember Jim Crow.

Going state by state:

  • Obama won the 10 blackest states and 15 of the 20 whitest states.
  • Clinton won 16 of the 21 states in between – those that are between 4% and 19% black.

Going county by county:

  • Obama won the black belt of counties that stretches from Maryland to east Texas by way of Atlanta and goes up the Mississippi as far as Memphis.
  • Clinton won the redneck belt that runs just north of that from Arkansas to Pennsylvania by way of Kentucky. Black T-shirt country. The very places where people are most likely to Google the n-word.
  • Clinton did well in the Hispanic belt from south Texas to California.
  • Obama did well in the Yankee belt that runs from New England to Washington state by way of Minnesota. It is whiter than the redneck belt, but in general it is richer and more liberal.

In the closing days of the primary race, Hillary Clinton appealed to the white racist vote more and more nakedly. Now McCain and his supporters are starting to do that by drawing attention to Obama’s middle name (Hussein) and William Ayers, trying to make Obama seem different and dangerous.

See also:

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I know what I saw at the Palin-Biden debate for the next American vice president on October 2nd 2008: Sarah Palin could not answer all the questions. She did not even try. She was like a talking doll: she could only give canned answers. And if one of her canned answers did not fit the question, she would just pick any old one and start saying that with a smile, pouring on the charm and the gosh-darns and doggone-its.

Proof that she was not thinking on her feet, that her performance was completely canned, that it was not at all her true self, was what she did when Biden came close to tears telling of his dead wife: she did nothing. There was nothing in her canned answers or her notes about dead wives.

And yet some Republican talking heads said she did great! That she is fit to be vice president! Maybe they were blinded by her charm. Maybe they were blinded by their party loyalty or the party line. Maybe they were just not honest. Whatever the reason might be, you cannot trust what comes out of their mouths!

If they are like that now, how will they be if she ever becomes president? Or, more to the point, how can we trust anything they say from now on?  Being Republican is one thing, but drinking the Kool-Aid is something else.

So for future reference here are some of those who belong to the Sarah Palin Kool-Aid Drinking Society (links go to their opinions of the debate where I could find them expressed online):

Those who do not drink her Kool-Aid (though they may well be drinking someone else’s):

Most of these are known or suspected Obama supporters, like me, but not all of them. George Will, Rick Santorum and The Economist, for example, are all well to the right.

A Kool-Aid drinker is someone whose common sense judgement is blinded by his loyalty to an idea or a person. Like when nearly a thousand followers of Jim Jones died after drinking poisoned Flavor Aid (not Kool-Aid, like people think) at Jonestown in 1978.

Thanks goes to The Black Snob, who unwittingly did some of the research for this post!

See also:

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The Google phone (2008), also known as the Android phone, the gPhone or the T-Mobile G1, is a mobile phone that is the brainchild of Google. It is Google’s answer to Apple’s iPhone. It is, in fact, the first mobile phone to go head-to-head with the iPhone.

The G1, which goes on sale in America on October 22nd 2008 and in Britain a few weeks later, is merely the first of many Android devices to come. Or so Google hopes. Samsung and LG are set to come out with Android phones of their own in 2009.

Android is the name of the software platform that Google built for mobile phones. It remains to be seen whether it will catch on in a big way: Google is not the first to try to build such a platform. Android is built in the Java language running on the Linux operating system. Linux is what the TiVo and Google itself run on.

The Android phone is not a me-too copy of the iPhone. Where the iPhone is a Mac computer shrunk down to fit in your hand, one that can make telephone calls and play music, Google sees mobile phones as Web devices – as pocket computers that can go on the Web (and see Google ads!). The thinking is that mobile phones will become one of the main ways people will go on the Web.

The G1 is a first rough cut at what Google has in mind. It is not as nice as the iPhone nor is it as easy to use, but it holds promise:

  1. Google made it easy for computer geeks to write programs for it. That means in the long run Google phones will be able to do cooler things than iPhones.
  2. Android is not tied to particular hardware, so it will be easier to get it to work on newer and better phones as they come along.
  3. It is designed to be a part of the Internet.

Unlike the iPhone, the G1 has a built-in keyboard, which you can see if you slide back the screen.

Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile G1

On top of being a mobile phone, the G1 has:

  • Google Maps with built-in GPS so it knows where you are,
  • email (but it can handle only one Gmail account),
  • instant messaging,
  • a music player (it can download music from Amazon, but it has no headphone jack! You have to buy a separate USB adapter for that),
  • a camera (that cannot zoom or record video), but no media player yet,
  • a touchscreen (that can handle only one finger at a time),
  • Wi-Fi,
  • the Web (even with a working YouTube, but no Flash).

It has no Bluetooth and there is no easy way for it to talk to your computer. But, unlike the iPhone, it can do cut and paste.

The battery only lasts 12 hours or less between charges.

The G1 runs on T-Mobile’s 3G network, which by October will be in 22 American cities.

The price: $179 (14 crowns), but you also have to sign up for two years with T-Mobile for at least $25 a month (2 crowns a month). An iPhone these days is $199 (16 crowns – way cheaper than when it first came out).

See also:

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Lehman Brothers (1850-2008), one of the top banks in New York, went broke on Monday September 15th 2008. It was the biggest bankruptcy in American history. The next day Barclays bought up the banking and trading parts of the company. Lehman almost went under in 1998. It employed 25,000 people.

In 2007 Lehman made $4 billion in profits. But then the following spring it lost $3 billion and then another $4 billion in the summer. It was unable to cover its mounting losses.

This comes on the heels of Merrill Lynch, an even larger New York bank, being sold to Bank of America and six months after the fall of Bear Stearns, a smaller bank.

In different times the government might have saved it. It chose not to. If it saved Lehman the markets would believe that a bank could be “too big to fail”. With the government as a safety net, banks would show even poorer judgement than they have and taxpayers would wind up paying for it all. There would be no road back to health for the banks or the country.

The big banks on Wall Street made this mess, what is known as the subprime mortgage crisis or the credit crunch.

They had done so well over the past ten years that they began to believe they were the gods of the universe, that the rules of banking no longer applied to them.

In this frame of mind they started making what they knew were bad loans: they lent money to people with bad credit histories to buy houses. Because of their credit histories, they knew these people, for whatever reason, were bad at paying back debts. But the banks thought it would not matter if they put the bad loans together with good loans. Instead it had the opposite effect: once these loans went bad, it affected even the good loans. Like bad apples.

In August 2007 it all started to fall apart.

So in March 2008 Bear Stearns went under, and now in September it is Lehman. Merrill Lynch almost went under. The other New York banks that are still standing made the same mistakes as Lehman and are losing billions and billions of dollars. There is no reason to believe that Lehman will be the last to fall.

Lehman Brothers started out in 1850 as a dry goods store in the state of Alabama. It accepted cotton as payment, so it got into trading cotton. In time moved to New York, the place where cotton was bought and sold in large quantities. There it got into trading coffee and dealing in railroad bonds.

In 1887 it joined the New York Stock Exchange and started issuing stocks. It helped to bring Sears Roebuck, RCA and other companies into the stock market. From 1969 to 1994 it was a part of American Express.

Having made it through civil war, the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression it could not make it through the times we live in now.

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East Turkestan, also called Xinjiang, Sinkiang or Uyguristan, lies north of Tibet and north-east of Afghanistan. It is a land of emeralds, oil and gold in the middle of Asia. It has huge deserts where the Chinese try out their death machines. The Silk Road used to pass through it, when Kashgar was its main city.

Most people born there are Turks –  Uighurs, in fact (sounds like “Weegurs”). They are distant cousins of the people in Turkey, close cousins to those in nearby Uzbekistan. Like most Turks, they are Sunni Muslims.

The Chinese have ruled East Turkestan since the late 1800s, calling it Xinjiang (Sinkiang on the old maps). The Chinese know it is not their country, which is why they have been sending their own people there to live so that it will no longer be a Turkish place. It is now about half Chinese, half Turk.

It was not always so. East Turkestan was once the centre of an empire, a place of great poets and great buildings. The Uighurs even ruled Mongolia. They defeated the Chinese in 751 and were free of Chinese rule for a thousand years (though they were ruled by the Mongols in the 1200s, but then so was everyone else in that part of the world). The Chinese sent them silk and the hand of princesses in marriage to keep the peace. Some say acupuncture started there.

East Turkestan started to fall under Chinese power in the 1700s. It came under direct Chinese rule in the late 1800s. When China was torn apart by civil war in the early 1900s, East Turkestan was independent for a time in the 1930s and again in the 1940s. In 1949 the communists won the civil war and the Chinese firmly took over again.

There has been violence directed against Chinese rule, especially in 1954, 1997 and now in 2008. The Chinese call it Islamic terrorism and blame foreigners like Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. But given the nature of the violence, it seems to be homegrown with little money behind it. Its aim seems to be freedom from Chinese rule, not jihad or holy war.

Turkestan is the old name for the region in Central Asia where the Turks live. In addition to East Turkestan there is West Turkestan, which the Russians once ruled: the present-day countries of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan (but not Tajikistan or Afghanistan, which are Persian, not Turk).

Religion: Islam came there in 934. Before that the Uighurs were mainly Buddhists, though there were many who followed Nestorian Christianity and Manichaeism. Some Uighurs to the east are still Buddhist to this day.

Islam as practised there does not seem be strict or extreme: many of the young Muslims drink and dress just like the Chinese. Most Muslim women do cover their hair, but not their faces. There has been no clear proof of any suicide bombings. No one is allowed to visit Mecca on his own: the Chinese government is afraid of Islam (and any religion it cannot control).

– Abagond, 2008.

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