Friday, May 15, 2009

Jordan Leads at World Economic Forum

(Dead Sea in high winds with salt deposits Photo courtesy of M. Disdero)
His Highness, King Abdullah, is the annual host of the World Economic Forum in his kingdom at the Dead Sea at the King Hussein Convention Center. Her Highness, Queen Rania of Jordan, put it best that some of the highest young minds were appearing at the lowest spot on the Earth at the Summit she addressed before the advent of the WEF. Jordan is a sovereign entity clearly engaging in the world community to forge Peace in the Middle East. Navigating world opinion and exhorting peace in the Middle East does not come easy with the changes in leadership in Israel, America and other republics that bring wildly divergent agendas to the table with each trip to the ballot box. (Preparation at the Convention Center before the WEF/Reuters photo)

Benjamin Netanyahu will never be among my favorite political retreads. He does/did/does/did/does have the right granted to him by the Israeli people to form a government and shop his hawkishness on the world stage. In an effort to make it clear where the United States stands, Leon Panetta, Director of the embattled CIA and its controversies made a trip to put things in as clear a manner as possible to Bibi about Americas expectations and the path to peace and no surprises in Iran. Prior, King Abdullah had a contentious direct meeting about Palestine with Netanyahu that bodes ill for a two state solution and peace in the region. Sharing a cup of tea between friends and allies in the president's private dining room just off the Oval Office was a much more amicable way to promote peace.

First American meeting of a Head of State for President Obama as he has tea & a formal meeting with His Majesty, King Abdullah on April 21, 2009.
The World Economic Forum meets each January in Davos with a May meeting. This year it is in Jordan. Israel's President, Shimon Peres had a heated run-in with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğ
an on stage in Davos over the relentless bombing of Gaza. Against this recent history, Jordan steps up to forge a new step forward out of two thousand plus years of history for all to live in a state of peace. The King is clear that 57 recalcitrant members of the United Nations need to get with the inevitable program and acknowledge Israel's right to exist with a 57 state solution to bring more security to the region. The ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference are meeting next month in Syria which leaves a perfect opportunity to re-opening the dialogue to get Muslim countries to support a full solution rather than trying to piecemeal it all together one country, nation or kingdom at a time.
"I was encouraged that in all my conversations in Washington it was clear that people know inaction is not an option," Abdullah told the opening meeting of an international economic gathering in Jordan sponsored by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum.

"The new American commitment has now opened an opportunity to change the direction of events," Abdullah told the business executives and government officials gathered at the meeting, which is being held along the shores of the Dead Sea.
Business deals shall reach agreement in the shadow of the World economic Forum. Royal Dutch Shell PLC is partnering with Jordan to explore their shale reserves. Therein lies the economic rationale for peace in the region - fossil fuels will reign supreme for many decades to come and a good portion of the developed world knows that peace in the region opens up new channels of economic prosperity. Other business agreements are being finalized at the Dead sea resort in Jordan as all of the decision makers convene in one location. Photo courtesy AP

Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World's Environmental Hotspots from Alanna Mitchell takes a look at places in the world and their reactions to to the changes in climate. The Dead Sea holds many keys based on the amount of salinity in the sea.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cinco de Mayo, Courtesy of the French

(City of Puebla, Mexico. North view, toward the Malinche Volcano)

East of Mexico City lies the landlocked state of Puebla, now formally named Heróica Puebla de Zaragoza. On May 5, 1862, La Puebla de los Angeles, Town of the Angels, hosted the scene of an arrogant Napoléon III and the Imperial French Army's comeuppance by a poorly supplied yet tenacious Mexican Army. At the time, America was a two nation country dragging the southern part back into reunification one bloody battlefield at a time with no real interest in Mexico's internal strife. Besides, America considered France a friend. The people of Pueblo harbored no such illusions. The whole American friendship thing exited with the idea that an emperor or monarchal rule went against what the young war torn nation had fought against before the French republicans lopped off Marie Antoinette's head. Mexican men & women fought off a better supplied Second Empire army that had a disticnt advantage of twice as much manpower to thwart the colonization of central Mexico. It took six years before France threw in the towel when they went in expecting an early crushing of dissent victory after installing Emperor Napoleon's puppet as a Mexican Emperor, the soon to be executed Archduke Ferdinand Maximillian of Austria by Benito Juarez's order.

Photo of escaramuza - women in the Mexican Revolution - courtesy Nelvin C. Cepeda/Union Tribune
In a turnabout induced by time and immigration, Cinco de Mayo is now very popular in the United States but remains a regional phenomenon in Mexico. Pueblo's battle did not decide the outcome, but what a morale booster that Emperor Napoléon III and the 8,000 French soldiers could be beaten by the few people under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. The Execution of Maximillian I (and only) of Mexico was captured by the renowned Spanish painter, Édouard Manet in a painting of the ame name. In the 21st century, Cinco de Mayo captures the American imagination while giving those of Mexican descent a means to celebrate a part of its rich heritage.

French interventionism, the first time, went under the anglicized rubric of the Pastry War (1838 -1839) goes by the name, Primera Intervención Francesa en México, in Spanish. The word croissant does not imediately conjur up images of Mexico, but entire battles and many nations including the Republic of Texas became charbroiled over a French baker demanding payment for a ruined shop in Mexico. A French blockade ensued with Americans eventually aiding the Europeans resulting in eventually bringing the venerable Santa Anna out of retirement.

Cinco de Mayo is now also a cause to celebrate Mexican cuisine and drinks. In a spirit of patriotism the Chiles en nogada uses the three colors of the Mexican flag. Food influences allow people to go forward presenting each with treasures from their own culture. The margarita enjoys a variety of flavors, yet for a few of the orange flavored liqueurs a mexico product with a French label Patrón Citrónge, or the imported Cointreau , blue curaçao produces the stunning blue margarita. Yum. Add a little mariachi music and the celebration is ON!

It was setting my teeth on edge that the most prominent authors on Cinco de Mayo were An
glo. So after looking here is a great history for the younder set, Cinco de Mayo:Yesterday and Today, from Maria Christina Urrutia and Rebecca Orozco.