November 15, 2001


Pre-Thanksgiving Meeting of WVRC, 15 November 2001

YOE was surprised to be called on to lead the Pledge - even though he had readily agreed to this responsibility the week before. Anyway, as he had done at an earlier meeting, he explained that until some time during WWII, the Pledge was given by extending the hand, palm up, and then reciting the well-remembered words. This presentation was suggested, and most of those present went along with it. Note, it was discontinued because the Nazis gave their Heil Hitler with arm extended and palm down - and that's backwards - we did it first, By God. And therefore our original motion should be resumed! (This may not catch on immediately, but it's still a good idea).

LENNY FRIEDMAN led us in two songs, My Country 'Tis Of Thee. and When The Saints Come Marching In, ably accompanied by LYNDON PARKER. This twin production was warmly rewarded by major applause. DON NELSON gave the Invocation, preceding it by allowing us to sit down - but NOT to chew! His introduction concluded, "God gave me nothing I wanted - but everything I needed", and was well done - and well received. Kevin, our associate storyteller, related the adventures of a thief who found himself in a bedroom that was occupied - the lights came on, and he had to tell the two occupants who were in the bed that now that they had seen him, he would have to kill them! They wriggled out of this fate, fortunately.

JIM GREATHEAD introduced a visiting Rotarian, Mark Hagler. Mark is in the interactive media field, and belongs to the main Club in Atlanta - they have 500 members - sounds like our LA 5. Guests of Rotarians included Special Guest Cathy Marie Rezos, with RUDY ALVAREZ, while BERT KREISBERG brought along his wife, Vera. SLOSS VIAU once again introduced his Special Guest, Kacy Roselle, who also happens to be his neighbor in Pacific Palisades. SLOSS was also collecting clothing for the Salvation Army facility in our area - thanks for your good work, SLOSS.

BRUCE ROLF next spoke about the anthrax scare at the local pst office - seems some white powder spilled on the counter - and it turned out to be powdered butterscotch pudding! This brought PP BOB WESSLING forward, with the sad admission that he can no longer be called Coach - seems his beloved Tigers, playing their traditional rival, Wabash, lost in the last 14 seconds when their Hail Mary pass fell into the wrong hands at the very end. BOB, you didn't explain how this particular play was your fault - but for a moment consider the plight of us local fans whose COACH has lost the last three games! LENORE MULRYAN briefly told us of letters she has received from two of our Ambassadorial Scholars, Suzanne Karpilovsky and Lee Broekman. Suzanne, who is in Paris, was asked her opinion on the international situation at her first Rotary meeting - which she felt compelled to answer in French! Meanwhile Lee, at the University of Amsterdam, has formed a group of Christians, Jews and Muslims into an Interfaith club which is now meeting regularly. These young ladies are two specific examples of why we must continue to support Paul Harris Fellows - do keep us in touch, SUSAN.

November birthdays were next up. First up was SUSAN ALLEN, who arrived in Detroit on the 4th. MIKE YOUSEM came along on the 6th, in Omaha, and that same date in Evanston, Ill, produced PP TOM LENEHEN. HENRIETTA LIAN choose the 16th, in nearby Santa Ana, while NEVIN SENKAN came from far away in Ankara, Turkey, on the 20th. The next day, the 21st, welcomed LEE DUNAYER, who with PP RON WANGLIN (the 23rd,) are both from good old LA. DON NELSON picked San Diego on the 28th, while PP JIM SUMNER claims Spartanburg, South Carolina on the 30th.

MIKE YOUSEM spoke about the Christmas Shopping Trip with the Boys and Girls Club of Venice - he will once again be putting this on - the date is Thursday the 13th of December. JIM GREATHEAD is once again providing a bus, which allows more kids to participate. This is a lovely lead-in to the spirit of Christmas - do share the evening with these kids, please. PP TOM LENEHEN provided a homily about the history of our first Thanksgiving - and it is certainly true that we all have a great deal to be thankful for. Thanks, TOM.

An important date to mark on your calendar is Wednesday, December 5th. At 10 a.m. Aidan's Place will have its Grand Opening. This is the special playground built for the use of disabled children, but also available for other kids. It is located adjacent to the Westwood Recreation Complex on Sepulveda just below Wilshire, and the Mayor plus other city officials will be there. It is important that we support this project by our attendance - please plan to be there, OK?

TED IHNEN introduced his longtime friend and associate, Dr. Richard King. Dr Kings' list of accomplishments and honors is most impressive, and his special area of expertise is the Pacific Rim, essentially China and Japan. He first visited China in 1979 - which was the same year I was first there - but he has been back 74 times since then, which gives him serious creditability as a true expert. His most recent visit was with a group which was the first into China since the September 11th tragedy, and much of what he reported was based on this visit.

The Red Guards were just being phased out when he began visiting in 1979-and today they are talking about Eurobonds! The progress the Chinese were making was interrupted by the confrontation in Tienanmen Square in 1989. But shortly after that, the then-supreme leader proclaimed "To be rich is glorious", and it became fully acceptable to become an entrepreneur. Remember that the Chinese were the original merchants all over the Pacific - and their opening statement in a meeting today is usually, "Let's get down to business".

There is a huge consumer market in China with its 1.2 million people. They are interested, for example, in medical equipment, building materials, autos, computers, even plumbing supplies, and they know they need infrastructure to use these things. Their present trade imbalance is a plus 13 billion dollars, with foreign investment up a full 50% just since last year. The largest group of investors is from Taiwan - and 75% of them were originally members of the Koumintang. There are 300,000 privately funded companies in China today - it is no longer a centralized economy.

The reasons for these rapid changes are, first, their entry into the World Trade Organization, and secondly, that Beijing has been chosen to host the summer Olympics in 2008. They will spend 27 billion dollars to get ready - 25 new stadiums, for instance, eleven major transportation area facelifts, and 75 malls and entertainment centers will be built.

They badly need venture capital but they don't know how it works or what it is - so we will be sending experts to train them. Particular help is needed in farming, urban planning and health care. Dr. King predicts that China will surpass Japan as the world's second largest economy, and by 2010 they could equal the U.S. The way U.S. business can be most successful is to pick just a few provinces, and relate only to them - otherwise, the general market is just too huge. Prequalify the end user, and work only with those that do qualify. There are three stages of making a deal in China today. First is a Letter of Intent - which means almost nothing. Next comes the Agreement - but it still doesn't mean much. Finally, you get to a Contract - but sometimes it isn't legally enforceable! Note that China does provide political stability, and remember they have 22% of the population on the entire globe!

Q&A - PP STEVE SCHERER - Are intellectual property rights protected - entrance into the WTO will help, with its regulations, and thus this area will improve. PDG ANDY ANDERSON - what is happening in the Western areas - they recognize that this part of China is not nearly as well off as the coastal areas, and thus they are spending lots of infrastructure money here. HENRIETTA KNAPP - what about business taxation - Again, the WTO rules will improve this problem. CLARK McQUAY - how about educational progress - it is now OK to talk about the failed Cultural Revolution, which shows how far their 'historic' concerns have loosened. RALPH BEASOM - is bribery a permanent way of life in China - no, corruption (a better word) is decreasing. People are openly complaining about it, and that is progress.

Dr King, thanks for your timely update.

YOE, Ernie.Wolfe