BROOKLYN, New York -- I have spent the past week wending my way across the United States (and Canada), seeing as many roadside attractions and minor league baseball games as humanly possible. In the coming days I will be publishing dispatches from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Buffalo, New York, as well as some links on places worth visiting should you ever find yourself in northern Iowa or southwestern Ontario. Itchy has also promised to emerge from hiding and complete his series on America's immigration policies.
This was a week of landmarks - of bloody crackdowns, bloody pogroms, and bloody bankruptcies. My brief detour through Ontario yielded a number of interesting stories, courtesy of CBC radio, and some old demagogues have found their singing voices.
Guardian: The internet is for porn, not protest. This week China chose not to commemorate the 20th anniversary of what they refer to as the "June 4th Incident"; instead, they marked the occasion by shutting down all manner of websites. In protest, many websites shut down voluntarily, citing Thursday as "Internet Maintenance Day."
CBC: Why read books when you can burn them? This week also marked the 28th anniversary of the destruction of the Jaffna Library (pictured) in Sri Lanka by a Sinhalese mob. The library, which housed one of the largest collections of Tamil-language texts in the world, was burned as part of a pogrom against ethnic Tamils after two policemen were killed at a Tamil nationalist rally on May 31, 1981. The destruction was a key moment in the formation of the violent separatist Tamil movement, which has supposedly been "defeated" by the Sri Lankan military after a 25-year civil war. Dr. Rebecca Knutsen, a professor of library science at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, has written extensively on the topic of "biblioclasm" and "libricide," including on the Jaffna incident.
The Wall Street Journal: P.J. O'Rourke hates pointy-headed busybodies. After driving more than 2,000 miles across 10 states, one province, and countless dirt roads and wide-open highways in my V-8 pickup, I must say that I sympathize whith O'Rourke's frustration. Trains and bicycles and other greener forms have transport have their romance, but it is tough to compete with the automobile as a symbol of freedom and exploration. So the next time you fill up your tank, pour a little out for GM and Chrysler.
CIUT.FM: Al-Jazeera English is not propaganda. Tony Burman, the former editor-in-chief of the CBC, is now the managing director of Al Jazeera English. In this talk aired on the University of Toronto's community radio station, he speaks about his new network's focus on coverage of the global south, accusations of bias, and their efforts the secure a license to broadcast in Canada. Listen to this talk, and you will definitely consider tuning in to Al Jazeera English if you haven't already.
New York Times: Maybe if they made Freedom Toast. In more depressing idiotic American immigration policy news, a French couple who immigrated to this country to open a bakery in the struggling logging town of Colebrook, NH are denied visas by the State Department.
Financial Times: Here's that green-collar job you've been promised, America. The green energy sector has long been touted as a savior of American manufacturing, but the experience in the solar cell industry has not been encouraging. Like so many other industries, despite government subsidies and the need for inputs of advanced technology, solar cell manufacturing is drifting away from the US, Germany and Japan to lower-cost locations like China.
Toronto Star: The SkyDome seems much older. Toronto's SkyDome, now dubbed the Rogers Centre, turned 20 this week. Once the paragon of modern sports stadiums, back when it appeared every baseball and football game was destined to be played on turf in climate-controlled domes, the SkyDome has fallen behind the times, as have its occupants, the struggling Blue Jays.
Livejournal: Prokhorov will punch your face. Russian metals magnate Mikhail Prokhorov was quite upset about something somebody said about his sister in the press. So, in true billionaire fashion, he has threatened to punch the person responsible in the face if they don't apologize within the week. He made this threat on his personal blog.
Youtube Stand-off: Churchill vs. Hitler. Here we bring you two videos that have brought me endless pleasure. The first comes from the geniuses who created the Autotune the News videos (I challenge you to find a more satisfying sound than Katie Couric singing the news). They have also remixed some historic speeches (the autotuned version of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech is sublime), including these words from Winston Churchill. In similarly inspired fashion, someone else has taken the wild gesticulations of Adolf Hitler and set them to the theme song from The Jeffersons. I guess by "east side," he means "Poland." You decide which is more awesome.
One final note ... Last week the Memorial Cup, Canada's premier tournament for major junior hockey, was won by the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. Located just across the river from Detroit, Windsor has fallen on hard times as jobs in the auto industry evaporate. Winning the Memorial Cup was a real bright spot for the city, but it was especially meaningful because the victory was dedicated to Mickey Renaud. Renaud was the Spitfires captain who died in February 2008 of a rare heart condition at the age of 19. Congratulations, Windsor, and Mickey and his family are in our thoughts.
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