Category Archives: The World Outside America

A Slow News Day…

Wow. Talk about your slow news day, eh? The New York Times published an astonishing front page story exposing the CIA’s practice of using empty shell companies, some apparently run by people who don’t exist, to hide the agency’s use of civilian plane to perform clandestine government business.

Two days after the French public dealt a serious blow to European unity by rejecting the EU constitution, French president Jacques Chirac fired his Prime Minister and appoints Dominique de Villepin, France’s former foreign minister from 2002-04 and leading critic of the United States-led invasion of Iraq.

Sir Bob Geldof announced a series of “Live 8” shows in cities in Europe and the US to commemorate both the 20th anniversary of “Live Aid” as well as to call attention to the impending G8 summit of the leaders of the USA, UK, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada. The European Commission is also represented and this year’s summit is set for Gleneagles, Scotland on July 6-8, 2005.

Oh….and one of the largest political mysteries of modern times was solved when the identity of the chief source that enabled Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to break the Watergate scandal in the early 1970’s. Like I said. Slow day.

Aragonès – Unrepentant Racist

Aragones.jpgRemember my post about the huge fine handed down to Robert Pires for wearing a Puma shirt? In it I mentioned how that fine was significantly larger than the one given to Spain manager Luis Aragonés for his “caught on camera” racist remarks about France striker Thierry Henry. Well, it seems Aragonés has appealed the fine of €2,060 (slightly more than $3,700). Apparently this is his reaction to Spain’s anti-violence committee’s call to have the fine increased.
According to the BBC “It’s not the fact I’ve been punished, but the fact that they look to do more than that,” Aragonés said, adding “I won’t allow them to continue against me.”
So let me get this straight…Aragonés is appealing his initial fine not to avoid having to pay it, but because an anti-violence committee has claimed the fine was not large enough.
Ohhhh, it’s just a mean and nasty little witch hunt, isn’t it, Luis? Yeah. Right.
Photo © Associated Press

Raul Threatened By Owen’s Prowess

According to published reports yesterday, Real Madrid’s star striker (one of many) Raul has urged former Liverpool legend and current England striker and Real Madrid part-time striker Michael Owen to return to England if he’s unhappy.
“All I can say is that Real Madrid has to have players who really want to play for this club,” Raul was quoted as saying, continuing, “If anyone is unhappy here I think it’s best that they leave. And that means anyone, including Michael Owen.”
Interestingly, Raul also admitted that his own position on the team would be stronger if Owen were to leave the Spanish giants.
Raul added: “We only need people here who are desperate to represent Real Madrid.”
Now, let me translate:
“Owen has scored 9 goals while starting 11 games and coming off the bench in 15 and I have scored only 6 goals while starting 23 out of 24 games. Clearly Owen has scored more goals in fewer minutes and is 2 1/2 years younger than me.”
As of mid-February, Owen had the highest goal-per-minute ratio in Spain and scored in league play on March 2nd while Raul hasn’t scored since February 5th.
Today, according to Agence France Presse, Owen seemingly responded to Raul’s statements, telling Sky Sports News: “I don’t have to make any points out there now, I’ve been successful at Madrid, scored goals and the fans are pleased with me. The players respect me, and I think I’ve already proved myself.”
The guy with Owen in the above pic (©AP) is former Real player Alfredo di Stefano. Looks happy, doesn’t he?

“Neverehhdd uvvit!”

Rafasmaller.jpgOne of the few reasons I haven’t completely given up on the New York Times, despite their complicity in the Bush administration’s phony baloney war in Iraq and myriad other abuses of power emanating from Washington, Albany and other seats of government, is that the Arts, Metro, Home, Travel and other sections are often still damn interesting sources of information. One recent example is this article about Liverpool and the peculiar dialect of English spoken there, called Scouse.
Liverpool, in the Northwest of England, is the home to the team I support in the English Premier League, Liverpool FC. When English football is mentioned in US newspapers outside of the sports sections, the team almost always mentioned is Manchester United. For example, there are 657 references to “Manchester United” in the New York Times since 1996 and, well, far fewer for any combination of words and phrases I can combine for Liverpool. (Americans tend to drop the “FC” so a search for “Liverpool” doesn’t help and “Liverpool FC” yields zero results.) Additionally, we’re having a very rough season, so attention is even harder to get.
That said, not only is this piece interesting from a linguistic and cultural standpoint, the third and fourth word of the piece are “Rafael Benitez,” who happens to be the Spanish-born manager (the NYT called him the “coach”) of Liverpool FC! Not only that, but the story on the website has a picture of ‘Rafa” as well as one of our Captain, midfielder Stephen Gerrard.
Care to guess what the title of this post says?

DVD Review: Infernal Affairs

InfernalAffairsUSBox.jpgInfernal Affairs
Director: Andrew Lau & Alan Mak
Cast: Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang
The following is a combination of portions of my review from the US theatrical release, as well as additions to that review and my opinion on the DVD extras, sound, etc. My original review was written from a memory of a screening almost 2 years prior, so I felt I had to expand on it after viewing the DVD.
InfernalAffairsLeung.jpgInfernal Affairs, the long-awaited and utterly brilliant Hong Kong crime thriller from Andrew Lau and Alan Mak was released in the US by Miramax on September 24th, 2004 and closed just 4 weeks later, grossing a paltry $92,584 (according to This result is not the fault of the film but rather the result of US distributor Miramax simply dumping this masterpiece on the US market and walking away. That action amounts to an artistic criminal act, as the film is an absolute gem and one of the best things to come out of Hong Kong since Mr. Phooey. Not only that, it is superior to any American crime thriller in decades, including Reservoir Dogs, Heat, Ronin and To Live and Die in LA, to mention but a few. Yes, I know you loved Dogs and how dare I go about dissing the pop culture darling Q.T. You know what? I loved Reservoir Dogs too, but considering Tarantino’s love of Asian cinema, I suspect he (and his ego) can handle being placed behind something of such quality as Lau and Mak’s triumph. This film harkens back to pictures like The French Connection and Serpico but is in no way a copycat of American films from the 70’s. Affairs is instead infused with the singular style of Hong Kong filmmaking and at the same time is far from the usual by-the-numbers Hong Kong shoot ’em up.

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