Can You Hear Me Now?
If you believe the global media, Cuba is a crumbling communist regime with sunny beaches, wonderful music and poor, but happy people.

They never mention that Cuba has some big time Signal Intelligence facilities all over the island. The Russians built the spy bases, which uses Chinese  satellites to intercept telephone communications in the US. They can do more than listen, though. They have the ability to interfere with computer networks, change electronic files and, more importantly, change output commands of computers used to control infrastructure facilities.

The state-of-the-art signals intelligence post in Bejucal, just west of Havana, includes a large array of satellite dishes and antennas spread over about 28 square miles – all just a little more than 90 miles from the Florida coast.

In the mid 90’s, as the Russians were constructing the facility, the first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, was telling President Bill Clinton that he was committed to democracy and the free market, and friendship with the United States. Yes, the same Boris Yeltsin who got so drunk during a presidential visit with the Clintons in Washington, he was found standing outside the White House in his underpants, trying to hail a taxi so he could go out for a pizza. I’m still trying to erase that image from my mind.

The big question is, if President Obama can successfully open trade negotiations with Cuba, will he let them take over Guantanamo? The U.S. has operated a base there since 1915. It might be a good idea to stay there to monitor what Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are listening to.

In the meantime, enjoy our favorite Cuban import, Gloria Estefan – Reach:


The New Silk Road

souk marrakech

All roads lead to Damascus
While the U.S., Britain and France have been sending soldiers and contractors to the middle east to fight terrorists, multinational contractors and Wall Street bankers have gained a foothold in the war-torn lands and have begun building highways, railways, logistics centers, manufacturing facilities, new towns and gas and oil pipelines under the auspices of the “war on terror.”

During her time as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton negotiated deals all over the world representing the multinationals and the “too big to fail” banks who are using U.S. tax dollars to build infrastructure tied to China’s mega-plan for the “New Silk Road.”

Read about it at the  State Department’s website:

U.S. Support for the New Silk Road

In the meantime, enjoy Kitaro – Silk Road:


Migration of the Rich
Last year, just over 3,000 Chinese “high net worth” individuals applied for EB-5 investor visas in the U.S. In the first 6 months of this year, more than 4200 have already applied. With only 10,000 of these visas available each year, they might all be taken before the end of the year.

The EB-5 visa was created in 1990 to encourage the flow of capital into the U.S. and according to the Wall Street Journal:

Under the program, applicants and their immediate families receive permanent U.S. residency if an investment of at least $1 million in the U.S. leads to 10 full-time jobs within two years. The requirement is only $500,000 if the U.S. jobs created are in a rural or high-unemployment area.

Although China is currently the economic leader of the world, it’s economy has slowed and unemployment is on the rise. In addition, a new Communist Party President will take over at the end of the year which is causing some political uncertainty.

The young, educated rich are looking to the west for a place that (hopefully) provides a bit more political stability, cleaner air and water and a place to raise more than one child.

In the meantime, when they arrive, the wealthy new residents will be putting on the the Ritz.

Enjoy Taco – Puttin’ on the Ritz:

Year of the Dragon

Chinese Lunar New Year
In 2012, Chinese New Year will be celebrated on January 23. The celebration actually starts on January 22 (Chinese New Year’ Eve) and ends on February 6 with the Lantern Festival. 2012 marks the 4,710th Chinese New Year, and this time it is the year of dragon.

The 5th sign of the Chinese zodiac is regarded as an auspicious symbol which stands for power, good luck, success, and happiness. There are more babies born under this sign than any other.

Legend has it that in ancient times there was a monster named Nian who used to harass villagers by eating their crops and animals and taking away their children. (A good reason for kids to behave.)

The villagers found that the monster was afraid of the color red, firelight and loud noises, so every household in the village adorned it’s doors and windows with red paper cutouts, set off firecrackers and lit candles. Nian was so frightened by the display, he ran away and never again came back to the village. The Chinese have been celebrating ever since.

Of course, not all of us can be born at the same time, under the most favorite sign. There are 11 other Chinese zodiac signs. All the Laundelles, with the exception of Chris, were born under the sign of the Pig. Not just any pig, but the Fire Pig! That’s right, fire pigs born under the water sign of Aquarius. How special is that?

According to astrologists, those of us born under the pig sign are active, outgoing and extroverted. Fire Pigs come through in everything they do. They’re gutsy risk-takers and once they put their minds to something, it’s all or nothing. That applies to work, romance and goals. Fire Pigs make excellent leaders and bosses.

Well there you go.

Enjoy Fire by the Pointer Sisters:

Previously show on Laundelles – Bruce Springsteen perorming Fire:


In the News

Who is Wendi Deng?
From a poor little Chinese girl to one of the most powerful women in media, Wendi Deng Murdoch proved yesterday that she is no trophy wife. When her husband was testifying in front of Parliament, a pie-thrower who tried to hit her husband with a face full of custard, was thwarted by a right hook from Wendi. The 6 foot tall woman’s reaction was quick and instinctively protective. The world now knows not to mess with Wendi. The next time anyone meets the chief of strategy for MySpace’s China operations, they’ll be a bit more cautious before doing anything that might not be in her or her family’s best interest.

Born in 1968 in Xuzhou, China, she was the third daughter of a factory manager.  At the time, China had a one-child policy, and girl babies were usually killed or given up. Being members of China’s communist party, the Deng family were given a few party perks.

At age 19, while attending medical school in China, Wendi met an American couple, Jack and Joyce Cherry, who helped her learn English.

Shortly after the Cherrys moved back to southern California, Wendi dropped out of school, flew to the U.S. and moved in with Jack and Joyce.

Here’s where we see the beginning of the ambition that would take Wendi from growing up in a family with a collective monthly income of $43 to a $44 million penthouse in Manhattan and a billion-dollar fortune.

While living with the couple and studying economics at Cal State Northridge, Wendi began an affair with Jack. Jack divorced Joyce and immediately married Wendi. That marriage lasted two years – just long enough for Wendi to get her Bachelor’s degree, and green card and enter the MBA program at Yale.

In 1996, with MBA in hand, Wendi went to Hong Kong and became an intern at Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV. In 1998 while in London for a company business conference, Deng apparently made a very good impression on the boss. The following year Rupert divorced his wife of 30 years and married Deng. Like all younger second or third (or fourth) wives of wealthy men, the new bride staked her claim to the Murdoch fortune with the birth of the couple’s two daughters.

After yesterday’s defense of her husband, the woman just upped her ante as a Murdoch. It will be very interesting to see what happens when Rupert no longer runs the business.

Anyway, enjoy David Bowie – Little China Girl:


Mamma Mia Opens in Shanghai
The stage musical, Mamma Mia, based on Abba’s hit songs, premiered in Shanghai this week. The hit show, that first opened in London in 1999, is China’s first western musical.

Having played in more than 250 cities around the world in 14 different languages, it’s finally been translated into Mandarin. Chinese Abba fans aren’t the only ones who are ecstatic. The entertainment industry is looking at a whole new source of money-making – Chinese style.

According to the Financial Times, the state-owned China Arts and Entertainment Group – which is producing the show, and many western entertainment companies are falling all over each other to gain a foothold in Asia. With a population of more than 1.3 billion people, it’s the biggest game in town.

“Money, money, money,
always sunny,
in the rich man’s world.”

Money, Money, Money – Meryl Streep:

China – Déjà vu All Over Again

The New and Improved Communist Party
There has been much in the news about the Chinese communist party turning 90. In celebration of the event, the party is forcing members to learn promoting “by any means necessary,” 45 red songs for everyone to learn, in hopes of replacing pop songs in the hearts of the people.

The mastermind of the current fervor that originated in China’s largest city, Chongqing, is Bo Xilai.  The communist party chief launched the “red song” campaign in 2008 to kick off the new Red Culture Movement.

According to Xinhua, The Chinese central government praised Bo’s red song movement as it took off like a rocket. Sing-a-longs were taking place everywhere, a movie-star packed feature film was released and prime time TV shows were suspended and replaced by classic revolutionary dramas and musicals.

To keep the momentum of the movement going, party chief Bo launched the public SMS “red word praise” campaign to encourage people to forward “red text” quotes from Chairman Mao.

The ultra-left Bo is madly ambitious and his supporters refer to him as “Mao Zedong reborn”.  On the occasion of Mao’s birthday in December of last year, the Maoists issued a “Notice to the People of the Whole Nation” announcing that they had already established a “Chinese Maoist Communist Party” and they want Bo Xilai to become the supreme leader of the Communist Party.

Whoa! We all know how the first Mao’s party ended.

Anyway, enjoy our favorite party song by the Black Eyed Peas – Let’s Get It Started: