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COMMENTARY: Georgia Tech Newspaper Rejects Ad on Terrorism Project, Video

Posted by kinchendavid on February 8, 2007

By  Sara Dogan

Special to DavidKinchen.com

In a decision that reveals the state of denial on American campuses, the editorial board of the Georgica Tech student paper – The Georgia Tech Technique — has rejected an ad from the Terrorism Awareness Project, warning students about the threat that radical Islam poses to America.

 

 The Terrorism Awareness Project (TAP) is a new national program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. It was launched last week to alert the American public—and particularly American college students—to the threat posed by radical Islam.

 

Titled “What Americans Need To Know About Jihad,” the TAP ad warns students that “the goal of jihad is world domination” and “Jihad’s battle cry is ‘Death to America.’” The ad includes quotes from several radical Islamic leaders such as Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah who has declared “Our hostility to the Great Satan [America] is absolute. Death to America. I encourage Palestinians to take suicide bombings worldwide.”

 

The Technique ad department initially accepted the ad and processed payment for it. But then the editors got   hold of it and killed the deal.

 

When asked to explain why the ad was rejected, an editor at the Technique declared that it was “hateful,” “offensive,” and “misleading.” In particular, the editor was upset that the ad draws a connection between Islamic radicals and the Nazis. This complaint refers to a pamphlet titled The Nazi Roots of Palestinian Nationalism and Islamic Jihad which is advertised in the ad. The pamphlet describes the role that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the universally recognized father of Palestinian Nationalism, played as a follower of Hitler during WWII.

 

When a representative from TAP offered to alter the ad, the Technique replied that everything in it was offensive and no alteration would help.

 

“The Technique’s rejection of this ad reveals exactly why the Terrorism Awareness Project is needed on America’s campuses,” commented TAP National Coordinator Stephen Miller, who is currently a senior at Duke University. “Universities and Middle East Studies Departments turn a blind eye to the threat of radical Islam, resulting in ignorance and denial. The editors of the Technique claimed that our ad was ‘hateful’ and ‘misleading,’ and refused to print it even if it were limited to actual quotes from radical Islamic leaders. In other words, the Tech editors are simply trying to suppress the truth about the radical Islamic threat.”

 

“The Technique may be in violation of the First Amendment in rejecting this ad,” observed David Horowitz. As a publicly funded journal, the Technique has the right to reject all political ads if it wants to, but it cannot be selective about which point of view it chooses to allow to buy space in its paper.”

 

The Technique is one of 15 college newspapers which have so far been approached about running the TAP ad. Three others universities—Purdue, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Michigan—have rejected the ad, though none have provided reasons for its rejection. The ad has been accepted for publication at six universities, including San Francisco State, Berkeley and Duke.

 

TAP has also produced a short flash video titled The Islamic Mein Kampf which documents the genocidal agendas of Islamic radicals like Iranian president Mahmoud Achmadinejdad and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The video was distributed to more than 850,000 individuals across America this week including the entire liberal arts faculties of several universities.

 

The TAP ad and the video clip can be found at http://www.terrorismawareness.org.

                         * * * *

Sara Dogan is National Campus Director of Students for Academic Freedom based in Ballwin, MO (outside St. Louis).

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COMMENTARY: China-Taiwan Divides the Caribbean

Posted by kinchendavid on February 2, 2007

By Sir Ronald Sanders

The continuing dichotomy within the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) over the Peoples Republic of China and Taiwan could begin to hurt the grouping which has been unable to establish a joint policy toward China, now the fourth largest economy in the world and growing fast.

Belize, Haiti, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and St Kitts-Nevis continue to recognise Taiwan while the rest of the CARICOM countries have diplomatic relations with China.

This division within CARICOM has kept the development of a trade, aid and investment policy for China off the agenda of CARICOM Heads of Government even though China is now involved with the region in a number of ways including as a lending member of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

It is a favourable mark for China that even though it is unhappy about the continuing recognition of Taiwan by the four CARICOM countries, it has not sought to block their use of its CDB funds.

The Chinese position is a stark contrast from the position taken by the US In 1979 when the New Jewel Movement seized power in Grenada and the US broke off diplomatic relations. Washington had laid down a condition to the CDB that Grenada could not access US funds. The importance of China in the world and its potential value to CARICOM countries was underscored recently by two events. First, China’s foreign exchange reserves, already the world’s largest, have passed $1-trillion (U.S.). The central bank said its reserves stood at $1.0663-trillion at the end of December, up more than 30 per cent from one year earlier, making China the first country officially to top the $1-trillion mark. Second, the World Tourism Organization has announced that by 2020 China will be the fourth-largest source of global leisure travelers. But with the mountain of money on which it is sitting and the need to spend it, the Chinese government has already begun easing currency controls. They will be looking for ways to invest and spend much of it. Recently tourists from China have officially been allowed US$5,000 to travel, though Chinese officials say that the figure is higher than that. Now, it is likely that the government may increase the travel allowance permitting tourists to travel farther. Several Caribbean countries have already been given “approved travel destination” status. These are: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, and St. Lucia.

This gives them a head start in trying to grab a meaningful share of the market. But, they are up against serious competition from the United States, European Union countries such as the UK and France, Canada, Australia and South-East Asian nations who are already gearing for Chinese tourists.

To get a share of the market, CARICOM countries will require not only joint Caribbean planning, marketing and alliances with airlines and tour operators in China, it will also need the help of the Chinese government to provide incentives and maybe even transportation.

It is the kind of help that could come out of a Joint CARICOM-China Trade and Investment Commission that meets regularly to explore the potential for mutually beneficial relations and puts machinery in place to achieve it.

Incidentally, and not unimportantly, China could also be encouraged to contribute to the Regional Development Fund which is so vitally important to the development of the Caribbean Single Market (CSM) that was formally launched by CARICOM countries in 2006.

The Chinese government has shown no reluctance to be active in the Caribbean, and officials in China would undoubtedly welcome the opportunity to map out a joint strategy for China’s involvement in the region, as they have done in Africa.

In November 2006, China hosted a meeting with leaders of 48 African countries at which the Chinese President announced that by 2009 China will double the assistance given to Africa in 2006 in an effort to forge a new type of strategic relationship and strengthen cooperation in more areas and at a higher level.

The prospect of a similar summit between CARICOM Heads of Government and the Chinese President is dim unless one of two things happen: Either, the four CARICOM countries that recognise Taiwan alter their policy and join the others in establishing diplomatic relations with China, or agreement is reached that the others are free to establish a Joint Trade and Investment Commission with China under the umbrella of CARICOM but excluding the four if they so wish.

The continuing links by the governments of Belize, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines to Taiwan is understandable. They have received considerable help from the Taiwanese who continue to invest in their economies – particularly in areas where traditional donors and lenders have shied away.

But a structured regional relationship on trade, aid and investment with China, which is now indisputably an economic giant and which could offer much to the people of the Caribbean, ought not to be delayed.

* * *

Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation who publishes widely on Small States in the global community. He is a regular contributor to Huntington News Network. Responses to: ronaldsanders29@hotmail.com



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COMMENTARY: What Would Martin Luther King Jr. Have to Say About the War in Iraq

Posted by kinchendavid on January 17, 2007

By Nick Patler

Staunton, VA  – The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was supposed to stick with civil rights and perhaps other domestic problems. These were the issues he was qualified to speak about — at least that is what many thought, including the national press, white politicians and even some black leaders after he began to ruffle feathers with his fiery eloquence opposing the Vietnam War.

Indeed, some critics were so disturbed by King’s anti-war criticism that they launched scurrilous attacks against his credibility and tried to publicly humiliate him. He was ridiculed and assailed, often ferociously, by the mainstream press; cursed by President Lyndon Johnson; criticized by politicians and scolded by friends and colleagues, including many fellow civil rights activists.

The most celebrated black leader in the world, who a few years earlier had led the nonviolent struggle to end Southern segregation in America and who had been awarded the distinguished Nobel Peace Prize, found himself with few friends in the lonely wilderness of anti-war activism.

But King proved to be as resilient here as he had been in that Birmingham jail, where his courage and determination to free his people from Jim Crow was forged with fiery conviction. Withdrawing temporarily amidst verbal attacks, he re-emerged bolder and more confident to speak out against the Vietnam War. This time, however, the civil rights leader turned anti-war activist (the lesser-known King) began to passionately inspire a consensus. A little more than a year later in 1968, as the tide of opposition to the war mounted, he was assassinated.

If King were alive today, what would he say about the war in Iraq? I believe he would say the same things he had said about the tragic war in Vietnam.

He would certainly have had the courage to oppose the status quo, even if it meant standing alone, drawing strength from his deep faith, the righteousness of his cause and compassion to uplift others. And the famous preacher may have very well used the same religious tone and language to condemn the war in Iraq as he did the war in Vietnam. For example, in one of his last sermons at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, King emphasized with moral fervor that God “didn’t call America to do what she is doing today … God didn’t call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war.”

The embattled leader would have strongly condemned the surging violence in Iraq and would have been vehement in publicly opposing President Bush’s plan to increase troops by 20,000. He would have undoubtedly expressed genuine sorrow at the loss of so many precious American and Iraqi lives, as he did for the Vietnamese and Americans, and work diligently and creatively for an end to the war.

The introspective King would have re-examined more deeply the unspoken reasons why we really are in Iraq and would probably have drawn similar conclusions as he did for U.S. interests in Vietnam. Here he would have emphasized that America’s true interests in Iraq and the Middle East are to maintain power and prestige, along with access to resources, at the expense of all else. And King would have been quick to point out, as he did in regard to Vietnam, that these actions, which are carried out by means of destructive violence and coercion, were inconsistent with democracy and humanitarianism.

Finally, the controversial leader, I believe, would have doggedly created awareness that the war in Iraq (and U.S. weapons industry) “steals” resources, energies and brainpower that could be used instead to solve the critical problems of those suffering from poverty, hunger, disease, and violence — the theme of his most well-known anti-war speech, “A Time to Break Silence,” which he delivered at New York’s famed Riverside Church exactly a year before his death.

Whether it was Vietnam, poverty, racial injustice, or economic inequality, King’s motivation to address all of these issues and others in his lifetime essentially reflected his burning desire to “love and serve humanity.” I have no doubt that if he were alive and able, he would be doing the same today, regardless of the mountains that might be standing in his way.

* * *

Nick Patler is the author of “Jim Crow and the Wilson Administration: Protesting Federal Segregation in the Early Twentieth Century.” Readers may e-mail him at nickpatler@hotmail.com This article originally appeared in the Staunton (VA) News Leader, and is reprinted by permission of the News Leader.

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COMMENTARY: U.S. Religious Trends in the 21st Century: From Catholic to Orthodox, from (Nominal) Christian to Islam

Posted by kinchendavid on January 8, 2007

By Sean Scallon

 Arkansaw, WI   — Demographics is destiny and that’s true not just in politics but business, education, sports, entertainment, culture and religion.

 

 

Especially religion.

 

 

That’s because numbers and numbers of adherents determine whether or not your faith is taken seriously or is just another kooky cult.

 

 

There are two demographic trends that may occur in the 21st Century inside the U.S. that could alter several faiths in the process. Those trends are from Catholic to Orthodox and from (nominal) Christian to Islam.

 

 

 

We start with the Catholic Church. It’s no secret the U.S. Catholic Church is in a deep crisis. The numerous sexual molestation scandals and the class action lawsuits that have followed are draining diocesan treasuries dry. Many such dioceses are selling off buildings like closed churches and schools and other real estate properties they own.

 

 

On top of that, the shortage of priests and nuns in the U.S. mean more such closures are on the way. And because of that shortage, the Church’s institutions, its colleges, hospitals and other charitable foundations, will become completely secularized within the next 20 years. The whole infrastructure of the Church within the U.S. could be almost gone by within that time period.

 

 

The U.S. Catholic Church will survive, however. It has faced worse challenges in its history and has always survived. But to survive means to adapt and adapting means change and the U.S. Catholic Church will be transformed by this process. The transformation will come demographically as what once was a European-ethnic church will become a predominantly Hispanic and Third World immigrant church.

 

 

 

This is also a process that’s going on world wide as well. Philip Jenkins, the Penn State University theology professor and writer for Chronicles, has documented this coming transformation of the Christian world thanks to demographics in numerous articles and books. Numbers mean power and such power within the Church will come from its Third World adherents.

 

 

There’s no doubt next pope will be probably be from the Third World, perhaps Latin or South America first (with a bishop of European immigrant descent) followed by an African pope after that. We’ve already seen the Third World‘s power within the Anglican community already. Several Episcopal churches in the U.S. have left their local dioceses in schisms to align themselves with Anglican dioceses in Third World locations because their bishops are more traditional than their Western counterparts, who are ordaining women and homosexual bishops.

 

 

 

What is fueling the change in the U.S. Catholic Church is immigration. More Hispanic immigrants and other Catholic immigrants from the Third World are filling the pews and in many cases what were once empty pews, especially in big cities. Now as immigration spreads from big cities and the coasts to small towns in the Midwest and South, such change will take place in churches in these locations as well. It’s the Catholic Church that will absorb most of the new immigrants. Although a good chunk of Hispanic immigrants are Pentecostals, they tend to form their own churches separately. Hispanic Catholics are moving into existing communities and existing churches.

 

 

 

All this leaves the European ethnic in a quandary. The term “Catholic” means universal and as such it should not matter what race or ethnic group anyone who calls themselves Catholic is. All are welcomed. Yet such churches were the anchors of previous ethnic communities. Such change can be quite jarring, especially when you add it onto change within the neighborhood, change in the business community and change within the schools thanks to unlimited immigration. It doesn’t take long for one Hispanic mass to become all masses at some point.

 

 

 

Because of this change, some European ethnic Catholics wish that the bishops would either take a stand against immigration or least not be noisy promoters of it like Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahoney. Unfortunately they are whistling past the graveyard. Not even the most conservative of bishops, like Omaha‘s Roman Bruskewitz, are going to oppose unlimited immigration nor will any be recalled by Rome for such support like Mahoney.

 

 

The Catholic Church in the U.S. is an immigrant church. Always has been. Always will be. To its bishops and administrators, seeing one immigrant group coming into the church and overtaking another is simply the natural wave of history. It would be unthinkable of them to turn oppose immigration, especially when such immigrants and their money are going to be ones to keep the Church afloat during its time of transformation.

 

 

Opponents of unlimited immigration must understand that is how the church thinks and operates and it perfectly fits with its history. It not a “Popish” plot to undermine the United States. This writer (and Catholic) nearly deleted VDARE.com from his list of favorite websites last year because some of its writers began waving the bloody shirt of “rum, Romanism and rebellion” until Peter Brimelow thankfully set them straight and also pointed out Protestantism’s many contributions to our nation’s immigration problems.

 

 

 

But again the quandary for European ethnic Catholic remains. His numbers have been reduced by intermarriage, by the destruction of ethnic neighborhoods by urban renewal and the interstate highway system, by suburban sprawl, by the church’s own problems and divisions within it and by his or her own laziness and sloth. If you don’t show up for mass or to volunteer or be a part of the community, you will lose power and influence to those who do. Whoever said that life is all about showing up was dead on in this regard. So what to do? Join the Orthodox Church.

 

 

 

The Orthodox Church has a number of appeals to the European ethnic Catholic. It is a church that is ethnically conscious and fuses the idea of the church to that of the nation and the culture. That’s why there are Greek Orthodox churches, Russian Orthodox Churches, Romanian Orthodox churches and so forth. (Only the Polish Catholic Church and Uniate churches loyal to Rome are that way amongst Catholics).

 

 

It is a decentralized church, which means its doctrines and practices of worship are not subject to the whims of a whole Vatican Council. It’s a church that has avoided a lot of the doctrinal disputes that has divided the Catholic churches because it stays true to its traditions and doctrines which it traces back to the original Christian church. Its mass has gone unchanged for many centuries and one doesn’t have to worry about whether the new priest is going to allows guitars and drums during the worship service, disallows bells or kneeling or whatever fashion of mass is in vogue from the seminary.

 

 

 It’s a church whose priests are married which means the problems the Catholic Church has had with homosexual priests (the ones that don’t take their vows of celibacy seriously anyway) aren’t a problem with the Orthodox. It is the Orthodox that is going to be more suspicious of mass immigration (especially immigration from Islamic nations) than other religions.

 

 

 

Of course, if you are an Irish, Italian, French or German Catholic, you just can’t pop into Serbian Orthodox Church and say “I’m a new convert!” unless you marry a Serb. It just doesn’t work that way. To solve that problem, the Orthodox Church of America (OCA) exists.

 

 

Formed in the early 1970s by the Russian Patriarchy and separate from it, the OCA is an Americanized version of the of the Russian Church with its services in English and with pews and so forth (the Orthodox church whose fall festival I annually attend in Clayton, Wisconsin, Holy Trinity, is part of the OCA.) Many of the churches are old Russian ones like Holy Trinity, but the OCA also incorporates other ethnic groups like Albanian and Romanian Orthodox that never had separate ethnic bishoprics like the Greeks or Serbs do. The OCA could very easily incorporate ethnic European Catholic refugees in their own churches. Right now the OCA has over 100 churches and a million members, slow but steady growth that I think could easily accelerate in the 21st Century. Conservative writer Rod Dreher of Crunchy Cons fame has already made the switch from Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy and I think others will to.

 

 

 

The other trend that will take place will be those from nominal Christian backgrounds converting to Islam. Such conversions have taken place among African Americans for long time and famous ones like Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. The Nation of Islam, an organization of Black Muslims, has dominated the Islamic discourse within U.S for many years. However, the NOI’s racist rhetoric against whites has kept Islam’s numbers in the U.S. down from what they could potentially be.

 

 

 

This will change too in the 21st Century. Growth in Islam will come from Third World immigration of course. But it will also come from white converts as well and they will come from two sources of thought.

 

 

 

Islam always has had an ideological appeal to those on the far left and right. To a cultural Marxist, Islam is the God that hasn’t failed (unlike Communism), at least not yet. Its diverse, multicultural following and the fact that it is the religion of the Third Word i.e. it was founded there and expanded there outside of Europe and the West, makes it a perfect vehicle for cultural upheaval and egalitarianism.

 

 

Marxism derided religion which limited its appeal while Islam is a religion and has mass appeal. And within an adversarial culture, converting to Islam becomes the perfect vehicle to shock one’s parents and friends and peers. Indeed, Jean-Paul Sartre himself became more and more fascinated with Islam as the communist left declined in his later years. This has more of chance of happening with the nominal baptized or secular Christian than anyone else. Think of John Walker Lindh, the Marin County, California teenager who got fed up with empty secularist lifestyle of parents and neighbors and converted to Islam and joined the Taliban in Afghanistan, and you’ll understand the type.

 

Since 9-11 and since George W. Bush give Islam his stamp of approval by calling it a “religion of peace,” there’s been a growing study of Islam within in the media and with others who are curious to know more about it. Such study, no doubt, will increase the size of the pool of converts for Islam within the U.S.

 

 

 

On the other side, Nazis have always appreciated Islam’s marshal spirit and ascetic, non-bourgeois lifestyle along with its ability to submit the will of the mass towards one deity or person. They found it far superior to Christian piety which they found to be nothing more than religion for wimps, not the supermen they were supposed to be.

 

 

Those who are not inclined towards Nazism still find these same qualities admirable, along with Islam’s male-dominated patriarchy. Women and men do not pray together. If you are a fellow who is unchurched right at the moment because you think the modern church in the U.S. is too female dominated and has no place for you, then Islam may be your scene. Think of guy who used to attend Promise Keeper rallies in football stadiums and spent his time crying on the shoulder of another guy while being told what an awful person he was.

 

 

 When he realized the whole thing was nothing more than a religious version of 1990s male bonding without the tom-tom drums, campfires and war paint and when he realized his wife and her friends were laughing their heads off at him down at the solon, then you’ll know the kind of person I’m talking about. In fact the crisis of the maleless church has become such a concern that, according to religious news reports, that certain pastors have gotten to the point of parking Harley-Davidson motorcycles out front of the entryways of their churches and putting on football uniforms and using football metaphors to attract males back into the pews again. But Islam’s call may be more enticing than that just more passing Christian fads.

 

 

Islam and Eastern Orthodoxy have never played major roles within the cultural, political or economic milieus of the United States largely because their numbers have never been large enough to do so, let alone attract any attention. But in this century, that could change as numbers and demography head in both faiths’ direction.

 

 

Sean Scallon is a writer and freelance journalist living in Arkansaw, Wisconsin. His weblog is Beating the Powers that Be at www.beatingthepowersthatbe.blogspot.com.

 

 

 

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COMMENTARY: Fire in Their Bellies: Do Caribbean Leaders Have It?

Posted by kinchendavid on January 6, 2007

By Sir Ronald Sanders

The heads of government of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will meet shortly to decide how they could take their nations forward economically in a highly competitive global environment.

Amongst the matters they will consider is the governance of CARICOM and a specific proposal that they should establish a Commission which would oversee certain agreed matters such as the external trade relations of the grouping and the development of the Caribbean Single Market (CSM) which was established last year.

The proposal for such a Commission was made 15 years ago by the West Indian Commission, but it was never implemented.

Recently, a former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Edward Seaga, predicted that CARICOM is ‘likely to face a slide, not a climb, in the future” because of the absence from regional decision-making at a governmental level of certain leaders. Specifically, he named two former Prime Ministers, P J Patterson of Jamaica and Kenny Anthony of St Lucia.

He claimed that apart from Owen Arthur of Barbados (who, he said, has indicated that he will be retiring soon) and Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent, “the present group of leaders are supporters but have far less fire in their bellies to carry on a campaign (for greater regional economic integration) with passion”.

Mr Seaga also posited the view that the establishment of a CARICOM Commission would not work, and that anyone who believes that it would “does not understand the psyche of Caribbean leaders nor, indeed, the people”.

Implicit in Mr Seaga’s presentation is that neither the majority of the present crop of CARICOM leaders, nor the majority of the people, want a more economically integrated region, and, certainly, they do not want a CARICOM Commission making decisions for their countries.

Of course, on the matter of the Commission, Mr Seaga’s presentation overlooks the specific recommendation of every proposal that any Commission must take instructions from, and be answerable to, CARICOM Heads of Government. Further, the Commission will have delegated authority and accountability only for such matters as national governments assign to it particularly because those matters are better handled with the collective strength of regional governments than by a weaker national government on its own.

As to the issue of whether leaders have “less fire in their bellies” for the regional integration project generally and a CARICOM Commission in particular, time will tell and the forthcoming meeting of Heads of Government will be a good indicator. If the establishment of the Commission is again delayed despite three reports that strongly recommend it, then CARICOM leaders would have proved Mr Seaga to be right.

And, there would be wider implications for the region.

Many businesses in the member states of CARICOM are eager to widen their markets beyond their national boundaries and into the wider Caribbean community. They are anxious that governments should provide the environment by which they can do so; they want the barriers to trade lifted in both goods and services.

Financial institutions – insurance companies and banks – based in Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica are already engaging in pan-Caribbean transactions providing capital to governments and businesses – Jamaica, Barbados, Belize and several of the Leeward and Windward islands have been beneficiaries of such financing. The financial institutions could do more if the cross-border controls and restrictions are lifted.

Governments might well wake up one morning to find that, to a certain extent, both market and production integration have taken place around them. But, in this scenario there will be more losers in the business community than there might be if the process of liberalization is orderly and regulated.

Already, there should have been deeper and more meaningful involvement of the region’s private sector and its trade unions in both the development of the Caribbean Single Market and in the trade and investment negotiations with the European Union (EU) and at the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, theoretically sound may be the studies of the region’s technical experts, there is a practicality to doing business whose requirements are best addressed by business people themselves.

Both at the national and regional levels, the private sector ought to be integral parties to negotiations. Some businesses in the Leeward and Windward Islands, the members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), are worried about being displaced in their own domestic markets by firms from the larger CARICOM countries.

In this connection, there is a crying need for the private sector throughout the region to map out their own strategy for sharing the Single Market through mergers, alliances or cooperation. There is urgency for a bargain between them which allows for equity in how the market is shared. Whatever formula results from a bargain will hurt some businesses, but no bargain will harm far more.

Further, the private sector should have a team that plays an advisory and consultative role to the region’s trade and aid negotiators.

The initiative for such activity should be taken by the regional private sector itself. If it fails to do so, it cannot complain if it is dissatisfied with the results of the trade and investment negotiations in which CARICOM governments are now involved. In this regard, the Caribbean Hotels Association (CHA) have shown the way by being forceful in pushing tourism on to the agenda of discussion between the EU and the Caribbean. Others in the services industry should follow.

It is to be hoped that there is still “fire in the bellies” for deeper regional integration not only of the private sector firms that are already forging ahead, but of government leaders, the trade union movement and others in the CARICOM business community.

* * *

Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation who publishes widely on Small States in the global community. He is a regular contributor to Huntington News Network. Responses to: ronaldsanders29@hotmail.com

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COMMENTARY: A $32 Million Football Coach? Outrageous!

Posted by kinchendavid on January 6, 2007

By Rene A. Henry

Seattle, WA  — The University of Alabama just spent $32 million to hire a football coach! A college football coach. Yes, that’s correct. And at a public university supported by the taxpayers of Alabama.

This clearly sends the wrong message not only to the public in Alabama but to all taxpayers throughout the U.S. at a time when state supported colleges and universities are badly in need of and seeking more public funds. If I were a member of the Alabama legislature, I would tell the leadership of this university to either get its act together or look elsewhere for taxpayer support.

To say the president and governing board at the university acted irresponsibly would be an understatement. They must be held accountable for their actions and any repercussions that follow. The beneficiaries are a small minority of the Alabama alumni who love to dress in Crimson and join other fans a dozen times a year to wave ‘Bama pennants and pom poms and yell “Roll Tide” hoping their football team will win the game.

I can’t fault Nick Saban, the new coach, for accepting something like $4 million a year for the next eight years. This tops the $3.5 million a year Oklahoma pays Bob Stoops, $3 million a year Iowa pays Kirk Ferentz and $2 million a year Ohio State pays Jim Tressel. Additionally they all receive other benefits and perks. All are public universities. I do hope these coaches follow the leadership of their Penn State colleague, Joe Paterno, who has generously given much of his salary back for endowments, programs and scholarships.

You can’t logically compare any of these coaches’ salaries to a CEO or president of a Fortune 500 company who is charged with delivering bottom-line profits and dividends for stockholders and employees. CEOs are compensated on their performance. Saban is paid only to win football games and hopefully a national championship. Regardless of his success, he always will be in the shadow of Alabama’s legendary Bear Bryant.

Why not hold college coaches to a performance standard that includes graduation rates of athletes with salary deduction penalties if thugs are recruited who end being arrested and disgrace the institution?

Other college football and basketball coaches are the highest paid public employees in their respective states. Why? Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said he plans to look into what he considers to be excessive compensation for corporate executives. Congress now may also look into why college coaches are being paid so many millions and why athletic departments have budgets that exceed $100 million with tax exempt revenues.

Many public colleges and universities who once called themselves “state supported” now, because of decreasing funds, use the term “state assisted.” Some, who receive less than 15 percent public support from their legislature now even say they are just “state located.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body of intercollegiate sports, is gutless when it comes to limiting spending on sports. Why does a college football team need to have two or three times more uniformed players than a professional team in the NFL? Or larger coaching staffs? Or coaches being paid more than their professional counterparts? There is no justifiable answer.

The NCAA and its leadership and members forget that intercollegiate sports exist for one reason only – because there is an academic institution. The institution of higher learning does not exist so there can be football, basketball and other sports teams. Some universities have made bad hiring decisions and had to honor multimillion dollar contracts when coaches don’t win and are fired, sometimes having to pay several coaches at the same time.

The NCAA doesn’t even use the millions of dollars of free network television time given it each year to win public support for higher education. Instead many of the commercials are completely self-serving, say nothing, or feature an egomaniacal university president who wants everyone to see him on TV.

In response to overpaid coaches, some presidents, chancellors and athletic directors will offer the excuse that the funds are paid by alumni and friends. If this is the case, let those so-called “philanthropists” endow scholarships to young people who otherwise might not be able to afford a college education and who might just be the next Nobel Prize laureate, breakthrough scientist, or even a governor or president of the U.S.

My experience in national and international sports spans five decades. Ten years of my career were in higher education at four different public universities. I began as a student assistant in sports information at The College of William & Mary and I have always been a strong supporter of intercollegiate sports, but not at the financial levels they are today. By the way, the graduation rate for football players at my alma mater is 100 percent.

There can be no justification whatsoever to pay $32 million to any coach at a nonprofit institution that is supported by taxpayer dollars. Knute Rockne, Amos Alonzo Stagg  and Pop Warner must be holding their heads in shame. It’s time for the American public to rebel, speak out and demand their elected representatives cut off public funding to institutions that favor athletics over academics.

* * *

Rene A. Henry is the author of six books and lives in Seattle. He has commentaries on other subjects and issues posted on his website at http://www.renehenry.com. He is a native of Charleston, WV, a graduate of The College of William & Mary and a “Lifetime Gold Alumnus” of West Virginia University where he was Sports Information Director for two years.

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COMMENTARY: The Caribbean at the End of 2006…and Beyond

Posted by kinchendavid on December 31, 2006

By Sir Ronald Sanders

As dusk descends on the Year 2006, the 15 small countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continued to face daunting challenges in the global community in relation to trade, investment and development assistance.

Banana exports were already badly hurt from the loss of their preferential access to the European Union (EU) market causing pain for small banana growers in rural communities in several Caribbean countries. But, as the year was drawing to a close, Ecuador, which already controls 60 per cent of the world market, launched a new challenge to EU banana regime. It is a challenge Ecuador is likely to win in the long run simply because World Trade Organization (WTO) rules say the days of preferences are done, and CARICOM states have not managed to get themselves into a category of countries which qualify for special and differential treatment.

Therefore, Caribbean banana growers in Belize, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and Dominica are headed for more difficult times.

The prospects for sugar exports seemed no better. Having lost the preferential price they earned in the EU, the sugar producers in CARICOM countries (Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago) were struggling with ways to transform the industry; but at least some of them are coming to terms with the need for innovation such as ethanol production.

Financial services, particularly off shore banking and insurance, once held out hope for the adjustment of some CARICOM economies; this hope is fading fast. While it is true that there has been growth in the provision of financial services within CARICOM particularly from financial institutions in Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica, participation in the global economy is shrinking.

Except for the Bahamas and to a certain extent Barbados (which has a special treaty arrangement with Canada), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Financial Action Task Force (both creatures of the richest countries of the world), using the International Monetary Fund as a surrogate to implement suffocating rules that suit their own powerful states, have effectively constrained the scope of much of the Caribbean’s financial services sector as a global player. The requirements for regulation, monitoring and enforcement are out of proportion to the scale of money and transactions that pass through the area, and they are eating into profitability.

Current negotiations between Caribbean countries and the EU over Economic Partnership Agreements are sadly lacking in a development orientation. The EU is insistent on the Caribbean opening its markets to European goods, services and investment with little compensatory mechanisms for the dislocation which such opening will cause to local businesses and the losses to governments of tariff revenues.

This situation calls into question policy positions adopted by the region in its negotiating strategies and demands a more radical approach, including a re-examination of the negotiating structures themselves. The negotiations require the expertise of good technical officials, but they also now cry out for political positions to be adopted based on the realities of economic conditions on the ground. As the year ended, there were rumblings within the Caribbean over the internal workings of the negotiation strategy and structure.

Tourism was the one bright spot in an otherwise bleak horizon in 2006. But, the industry boomed in the last three years on the back of a weak US dollar to which many Caribbean currencies are tied. European and other tourism to the region improved simply because the drop in the exchange rate between the US dollar and other major currencies created a de facto devaluation of Caribbean currencies.

Structural changes that are desperately required for tourism, including the promotion of local ownership, enforceable linkages to farmers and local manufacturers, greater pan-Caribbean cooperation in promotion, flight scheduling and hospitality-sharing, are yet to happen. A proposal for a Caribbean Tourism Fund, commissioned by the Caribbean Hotels Association, has been produced by a UK firm, but so far no action has been taken on it.

Global competition not only in its traditional export markets, but also within their own domestic market stared CARICOM countries in the face as 2006 faded away, underlying starkly the absolute necessity to integrate or perish.

At least the year started with six CARICOM countries at last bringing the much promised Caribbean Single Market (CSM) into existence, and, despite the uncertainties that surrounded their decision, the OECS countries joined in the middle of the year.

The Single Market is by no means complete and, unless a range of measures are established by law including common regulatory rules for services and the machinery for integrating production across CARICOM countries, it will be a flawed process giving rise more to contention than to harmony.

A key issue – the freedom of movement of labour – remains off the discussion table, mired in fears of a political backlash for the political party in each country that dares to acknowledge the reality that there can be no genuine single market without free movement of all the factors of production. A great insularity (if not xenophobia) continues to exist among groups within CARICOM countries directed at each other.

Sharp divisions are still part of the relationship between governments and the private sector, on the one hand, and governments and the trade union movement on the other, in many counties of CARICOM. Yet, until there is a symbiotic relationship between these three groups that is built around an agreed strategy for taking forward the Single Market, CARICOM will be marking time in a world where other regions are marching forward.

It is a glaring reality – from which the Caribbean as a whole is yet to learn – that the government negotiators in trade negotiations, whether bilaterally, at the WTO, or through the OECD – are representing the interests of big businesses in their countries who want access to the markets of others on the most advantageous terms while at the same time restricting entry to their own market through the use of non-tariff barriers and other ruses.

The time is now urgent when there must be substantial consultations between Caribbean governments, the Caribbean private sector and the Caribbean Trade Union movement, to determine agreed strategies for trade negotiations in goods and services.

The way in which CARICOM itself is to be governed is an issue that governments continue to duck. For over fourteen years, there has been a blueprint for such joint governance produced by the West Indian Commission. It is a blueprint that would ensure through CARICOM-wide laws that decisions are enforced and not left to languish until the last reluctant government recognizes the value of their implementation.

For fourteen years, some governments have filibustered over the plan, worried, it seems, about the loss of individual national control even though each structure presented so far has resided final authority in councils of ministers drawn from each territory and, of course, in Heads of government themselves.

When CARICOM Heads of Government meet early in 2007, a new report on governance of the Caribbean Community will be before them. It is to be hoped that this time, given the competition that the region is facing in the international community, for trade, investment and aid, they will be emboldened to put the necessary machinery in place.

One thing is for sure: if the Single Market is not completed in all its aspects, and the governance of the community remains unsettled, the prospect of a Single Economy in 2008 – which is a far more ambitious even though vital project – will dim as it drifts into the distance.

CARICOM can not afford the delay. And, it can no longer live on the laurels of being one of the most advanced regional integration movements in global society. Events in world trade, in business competitiveness, in science and technology are overtaking it. Real empowerment has to be given to the regional integration structure if it CARICOM and its member states are to advance. If such empowerment does not occur, some of the more progressive member states will break out on their own, and the regional process will wither on the vine.

Already some governments of CARICOM countries believe that, in their individual interest, they should be entering bilateral trade and investment relationships with countries such as the US, Canada, India and China. Countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, which have resources – particularly oil and gas – in which these larger countries are very interested, may not long tolerate the constraints of a slow moving and indecisive CARICOM.

The Single Market will also continue not to fulfill its promise to farmers and manufacturers in CARICOM until governments pay serious attention to transportation within the region by developing a common and enforceable transportation policy. It is not a tribute to CARICOM that after 33 years of existence, the agricultural and manufacturing production of CARICOM states can not be transported within the region. Yet, both farm products and manufactured goods can be brought to individual countries through the United States.

It should be noted that the region’s bill for food imported from outside the areas is now US$3.6 billion.

A policy of CARICOM wide incentives for creating a shipping industry within the region is non-existent. But, if the market were to be developed to include all the CARICOM countries plus Cuba and the Dominican Republic, a profitable investment opportunity surely presents itself.

In the meantime, the absence of an agreed policy has made a complete mess of regional air transportation. As 2007 dawns, neither tourism to the region nor Caribbean travelers within the region can feel secure. Instead of one regional airline – or at least a merger of some of the costly activities of individual carriers – national carriers are continuing to compete among themselves. Caribbean Airlines, the successor to BWIA, will compete with the new airline that emerges from negotiations between LIAT and Caribbean Star; Air Jamaica will compete with Caribbean Airlines on traffic from the US into the Caribbean; and Caribbean Airlines operations from the United Kingdom will have no Caribbean identity as British Airways aircraft takes BWIA’s place in a code sharing deal.

The arrangements in air transportation have been reached by individual governments. It seems no government is willing to offend other governments by insisting at a CARICOM level on an air transportation policy. So, in the name of national pride or national control, the gains that could result from regional cooperation go by the way side.

At the root of this lack of progress in deepening CARICOM’s integration arrangements are two things: political pandering to, if not exploitation of, the fears by groups within national communities that they will be swamped by an influx of other Caribbean nationals into their territory; and a failure to explain effectively that CARICOM should be a single space, like the United States, where people, production, and capital of each state move freely just as, for example, the people, production and capital of Texas move to New York.

2006 witnessed a small step forward in this process when the basic foundation of the Caribbean Single Market was laid. Beyond 2006, CARICOM must deepen the integration process and must, particularly, facilitate the integration of the factors of production to make Caribbean economies more competitive in the global economy.

It is urgent that the mental construct of national boundaries be broken down and replaced with a realistic understanding that for the people of CARICOM to survive the onslaught of global competition, CARICOM must be a single landscape.

* * *

Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation who publishes widely on Small States in the global community. He is a regular contributor to Huntington News Network. Responses to: ronaldsanders29@hotmail.com

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MANN TALK: Crystallized Opinion

Posted by kinchendavid on December 29, 2006

By Perry Mann

Hinton, WV  – Life for me would be immeasurably more lonely were it not for the companionship of Thomas Hardy, the English novelist and poet, whose sojourn here was from 1840 to 1928 and whose abode was his beloved Wessex.

“Hardy’s death in his eighty-eighth year on January 11, 1928, deprived contemporary England of its most honored author. Although his ashes were placed in Westminster Abbey, his heart (as requested in his will) was buried in the churchyard of his own village, in the soil he loved so faithfully.” His testamentary request is a poignant manifestation of the deep respect that Hardy had for nature and the peasants that had to cope with its beauty, bounty, indifference, and cruelties.

Hardy was an agnostic, who lived most of his life during the reign of Queen Victoria and thus lived during an era of the belief that God was in His heaven and all was right with the world, a concept so simplistic and sentimental that it undoubtedly tormented Hardy’s entire being, mind and heart.

From Hardy’s Notebooks, one can read the following judgment with regard to the Christian Coalition and the conservative establishment of his day: “Poetry. Perhaps I can express more fully in verse ideas and emotions which run counter to the inert crystallized opinion—hard as a rock—which the vast body of men have vested interests in supporting. To cry out in a passionate poem that (for instance) the Supreme Mover or Movers, the Prime Force of Forces, must be either limited in power, unknowing, or cruel—-which is obvious enough, and has been for centuries—-will cause them merely a shake of the head; but to put it in argumentative prose will make them sneer , or foam, and set all the literary contortionists jumping upon me, a harmless agnostic, as if I were a clamorous atheist, which in their crass illiteracy they seem to think is the same thing …. If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the Inquisition might have let him alone.”

And Hardy did just that: He put into many poems his view of the indifference, cruelty, logiclessness and senselessness of God. Following is the first stanza of a poem titled “New Year’s Eve,” which is a colloquy between Hardy, the poet and agnostic, and God, the “sense-sealed,” omnipotent Supreme Mover:

“I have finished another year,” said God,
“In grey, green, white, and brown;
I have strewn the leaf upon the sod,
Sealed up the worm within the clod,
And let the last sun down.”

That is, God on this last day has lowered the sun and is looking back on the year with some satisfaction with what He has done: Made grey the sky, grown the grass, whitened the hills and vales, turned leaves to brown, strewn them upon the land and put the worm to bed. But now Hardy interrupts God’s smug reflections:

“And what’s the good of it?” I said,
“What reasons made you call
From formless void this earth we tread,
When nine-and-ninety can be read
Why naught should be at all?

“Yea, Sire; why shaped you us, ‘who in
This Tabernacle groan’ —-
If ever a joy be found herein,
Such joy no man had wished to win
If he had never known!”

Good question: What are God’s reasons for forming this earth from out of void when there are 99 reasons why there should be nothing at all? And good observation: Why, Lord, did you shape us to groan in this Lost Eden? What joys there are here, if man had never known about them, he would have no reason to work to gain them.

Then he: “My labors—-logicless—-
You may explain; not I:
Sense-sealed I have wrought, without a guess
That I evolved a Consciousness
To ask for reasons why.

“Strange that ephemeral creatures who
By my own ordering are,
Should see the shortness of my view,
Use ethic tests I never knew,
Or made provisions for!”

God replies that his labors have no logic, that man not God must explain them. He says that without sense he has created, not knowing so, a Consciousness that questions his creation.

It is strange, says God, that this short-lived species that I have wrought should note how short sighted I have been and apply a morality that I never knew or provided for.

He sank to raptness as of yore,
And opening New Year’s Day
Wove it by rote as theretofore,
And went on working evermore
In his unweeting way.

So, God opened the New Year; and absorbed as always in His rote operations, went back to work evermore in his unknowing, senseless and logicless way.

I surmise that “crystallized opinion” is as ready to sneer and foam at this verse, if it is read and understood, as it was in Hardy’s day. But the poem makes more sense to me than all the license plates that assure me that God loves me.

* * * *

Perry Mann is a former teacher, a lawyer, a former prosecuting attorney of Summers County and a regular columnist for the Nicholas Chronicle in Summersville and Huntington News Network.

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COMMENTARY: Extra! Extra! There is No War on Christmas…Except the Abuse by Media and Merchants

Posted by kinchendavid on December 21, 2006

By Joseph J. Honick

Bainbridge Island, WA  – The flap over something called the “war on Christmas” is by now rather boring. If there is such a war, it does not come from any legitimately religious element. Rather the war comes from the ham handed marketing by all and sundry selling stuff you would not look at the rest of the year.

This marketing attack on Christmas that starts as midnight descends on Halloween not only demeans all aspects of Christmas, Hanukkah and all other holidays related to the calendar but has caused all this conflict among good people simply trying to celebrate something of importance to them.

A lot of attention was given to a flap over Christmas trees in the Seatac airport in Seattle. An orthodox Rabbi threatened legal action unless a Hanukkah menorah (candelabra) was also included. The trees came out; the Rabbi changed his mind; the trees went back.

Bill O’Reilly, on what must have been a bad news day, weighed in with his usual slam bang suggestions of nefarious cabals as did the energetic Lou Dobbs who seemed not to have paid attention to the details of the silly actions at the airport and used the broad brush as if it all reflected a national scheme of some sorts.

Contrary to one writer who suggested there was no room for Jesus at Seatac, the reality is that the whole thing was simply a PR effort in the first place. The media are also complicit in this matter, happily selling the huge amount of inserts, advertising and other revenue producers to entice or embarrass parents to buy stuff they often cannot afford.

So let’s stop this blather about a “war on Christmas”. It does not exist except in the promotional departments of all those folks who make your daily and Sunday papers almost twice as heavy as usual and who start blasting away before Halloween is even out of the way on radio and TV and anywhere else demanding you spend enough money to make those advertisers happier.

The unruly crowds that swarmed into stores as the warmth of Thanksgiving was cooling, reflected the effectiveness of all that smash mouth promotion that had not one thing to do with the spiritual aspects of anyone’s faith, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or anything else. Consider what was being promoted in the process: computer games at prices few could afford but all had to have if peace would be maintained at home, games that threatened harsh response if some people did not want to convert to Christianity, and on and on it has gone…on the radio, TV, all over the internet and any place where hard hitting promotion could take place.

For those really interested, however, there is no inter-religious war on Christmas at all. If any such conflict exists at all, and readers are really concerned, they should know that they have become partners in it all by responding like Pavlov’s dog as soon as the bells crying out sales began two months ago.

* * *

Honick is president of GMA International Ltd., the consulting firm he established in 1975. Its principal areas involved working to broaden business opportunities abroad for American companies and assisting them in preparing for such effort. He is also a regular contributor to Huntington News Network.

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COMMENTARY: Trader Joe’s: Still a Perfect Piece in the Downtown Huntington Puzzle

Posted by kinchendavid on December 20, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Huntington, WV  – Back on Sept. 27, 2005, I did a commentary suggesting that what downtown Huntington needed – in Pullman Square and the area around it – was a specialty grocery store catering to the people shopping in Pullman Square and places like Shawn Bresnahan’s Le Cook Store.

The ideal store would carry the kind of items people living and shopping in downtown Huntington desire – and there will be plenty of those in coming months and years – Organic foods, foods that require little or no preparation beyond a good microwave oven, good, inexpensive wines and other beverages, a wide variety of cheese, high quality bread, prepared deli food for parties, etc.

Tony Rutherford’s latest upbeat story on downtown Huntington reminded me that Tony was part of a group seeking a restaurant when the idea of a Trader Joe’s in Huntington hit me like the proverbial bolt of lightning.

Quoting from my earlier story:

A Trader WHAT?, you ask. If you’ve lived in California, as I did for 16 years, you don’t have to explain Trader Joe’s. They’re specialty food emporiums geared to those seeking what I call affordable gourmet food of all kinds. Typically occupying only 10,000 square feet, TJs – everybody in the Trader Joe’s cult calls them that – have the most loyal customers of any retailer I’ve seen. TJ shoppers really are members of a cult.

Trader Joe’s carries an extensive array of domestic and imported foods and beverages including fresh artisan breads, Arabica bean coffees, international frozen entrées, 100% juices, fresh crop nuts, deli items, and vitamins and supplements, as well as the basics, like milk and eggs – all at prices that rival discount grocery stores. At the stores I’ve been to, someone is offering samples of foods for sale in the store, often several demonstrators with their colorful shirts.

Founded by Californian Joe Coulombe almost 40 years ago – the first Trader Joe’s opened in Pasadena, Calif. in 1967 — Trader Joe’s has been owned since 1979 by the giant Aldi group of Germany. Yes, the very same Aldi group that runs the warehouse-type supermarket in the west end of Huntington and thousands of similar ones in Europe, Australia and the U.S.

That’s where the similarity ends. Trader Joe’s stores feature employees garbed in Hawaiian shirts and khaki shorts. Even the store manager – called the “Captain” in TJ-speak – dons a colorful Hawaiian shirt when he or she takes the helm. The Aldi people kept Coulombe’s policy of extensive local autonomy for each store’s “captain,” allowing him or her to tailor the merchandise to the local market. Aldi didn’t mess with a formula that was working very well indeed.

After saturating the California market by the late 1980s with more than 100 stores, the front-office types of Trader Joe’s started opening stores in Boston and other East Coast markets. They also expanded to Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Columbus and similar Midwest locations – always in upscale neighborhoods or suburbs. There are now more than 200 stores in 19 states, with about 25 new ones opening every year.

TJ customers are highly educated, which prompted that light bulb to go off. My old shorthand was “Volvo-driving, professor types.” Huntington is really a city of 320,000 people spanning several counties and three states – West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

The Tri-State has many people who would flock to a Trader Joe’s for their daily bread, soup – the stores have marvelous private-label canned soups that make the nationally advertised preservative-laden brands taste very ordinary by comparison – and just about anything an educated consumer could want. TJ stores usually have 2,000 different items, compared to 7,000 or so at a conventional (boring, in my opinion) supermarket.

The Marshall University community alone could support a TJ’s in Pullman Square. There’s one not far from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the two on the North Side of Chicago draw heavily from university students at De Paul, the Northwestern University Medical Center complex and the many upwardly mobile residents of Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Old Town, etc.

(Update, just back from an early December trip to Chicago, I stopped in at the newest Trader Joe’s, on Ontario Street, near Rush Street, in Chicago. This River North store serves one of the most upscale demographics in the country. Not all of TJ customers are rich, by any means, but they’re the kind of customers retailers would kill for!)

In Chicago recently, my shopping selection in the Lakeview store on Lincoln Avenue included pastrami, chili, corn chowder – something I love that’s difficult to find in many supermarkets – green olives in a foil pouch, dark rye bread and other items to make a delicious, healthful meal. I’m a soup/salad/sandwich kinda guy!

Virtually all the canned goods and other items are private-label brands, manufactured to TJ’s rigid specification minus preservatives and additives. Vegetarians will find the store a paradise, as will those who prefer Kosher food for religious or health reasons. Do I sound enthusiastic??!! Blame it on my addiction to TJ stores in Sherman Oaks, Granada Hills and Encino, as well as the two Chicago ones.

Lest I forget, there’s the Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer,” which appears periodically on no set schedule and has cleverly written and illustrated copy on new products at the stores. It’s fun to read, it’s irreverent and it has been called a cross between Consumer Reports and Mad magazine! Each edition highlights a selection of Trader Joe’s products that the company buyers believe are worthy of customer interest, including heat-and-eat meals and items that are reduced in fat and calories or have other special attributes.

Perhaps without even knowing about the saying from master showman Roxy (S.L. Rothafel), the man behind New York City’s Roxy Theatre and Radio City Music Hall, Joe Coulombe and his successors – including octogenarians Theo and Karl Albrecht of Aldi – have consistently followed the maxim “Don’t give the people what they want—give ‘em something better.”

You don’t need an MBA to succeed in business following that advice!

Web site: for more information about Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s: http://www.traderjoes.com

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