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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Morning News and views

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September 27, 1829, Joshua Puci received a patent for the matchbook. Originally the striking surface was on the inside, but time proved that decision wrong, and since then advertising and collector matchbook covers have been a part of our culture. Check out this match history site...

Conservative New York Times Columnist and Nixon speechwriter William Safire died this morning at the age of 79 of cancer. He helped shaped Nixon’s campaign and the image of his presidency, including positive elements such as opening up China and ending the Viet Nam war (after he escalated its final stages).

Roman Polanski has been taken into custody at an airport, as he arrived to attend the Zurich Film Festival. He was taken into custody on a 31 year old US arrest warrant related to his skipping the country after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13 year old girl. He was in Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award.

The Philippines is asking for International Aid as Manila and surrounded areas are being literally flooded, with massive numbers washed out of their homes. At least 106 are dead and hundreds missing in the aftermath of a tropical storm with near record rainfall and flooding. Landslides in rural areas are expected to claim the largest of the death toll.

Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea and....

Iraqi has the largest percent of unemployed young men in a region overwhelmed with 16 to 30 year old unemployed males. Many earn as little as three dollars a month. The pay for firing a mortar round into a British of American base is $25, and you do not need to own a mortar, one will be provided.

Two more American soldiers lost their lives this morning in Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the only guest on Face The Nation. She said the main concern on Iran is that so much was never disclosed and is not being disclosed about their nuclear program and non-defensive missile capacity. Appropriate international safeguard and monitoring of civilian nuclear power generation, as agreed upon and used by the international community.

On North Korea, very tough sanctions are set or going to go into place, agreed upon by the International Community. Iran has to come to a meeting on October 1st and present convincing evidence that their nuclear development is only for defensive purposes.

Our security, our safety, and our friends and alleys are what will guide US Policy. The facts call for extensive investigation of North Korea and Iran, since they have not been fully disclosing with the International community and have yet to prove their safe civilian intentions and application of nuclear energy.

On the Afghani an election she said that carrying on an election under the current circumstances is difficult and could take months to ratify. As to whether it is worth American blood to support Afghans government, Clinton said we are doing this for the United States. We cannot tolerate a syndicate of terror environment that threatens the US and our allies. We inherited a situation with a set of expectations and behaviors, commitments and debt that we have to work with or change. Let’s not forget that this is about us, the American people, to make sure we have the intelligence, strength and position to protect the American people.

In the last nine months, Pakistan has expanded its commitment successfully. We have gained elements of security in Iraq and Afghanistan; we have impacted the Taliban and their allies. This is not a check box sort of experience, where you can say we are done with that. Focusing on those who attacked up and who threaten us cannot be done if we allow them to have a safe haven in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham did the rebuttal to Clinton.

Michigan's UP

Weekend Edition and Morning Edition weekdays are doing a week on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or the U. P. If you live there you are a ‘you-per’. The area still has a strong statehood movement, as they have nothing in common with and very little say in the Michigan legislature. 309,000 people live on 10.9 million acres of land. Openness, friendship, neighbors who will come over to see how you are, traits of “the UP.” The main industry is a mining (mostly iron) and lumber.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan played a roll in my growing up. When I was a child it was the UP where my family use to spend a week Uncle Wally’s bosses cabin on Sawyer Lake. It was there that I chased a mink family escaped from a mink farm, leaned to swim and developed my life long dislike of seafood, when my uncle chopped off the head of a fish we caught in the lake, and I watched its heart pound and mouth continue to open and close gasping for “air”.

As part of Weekend Edition Sunday’s coverage of the UP, they looked back at the Toledo War, a land dispute between Ohio and Michigan, that led to the two state militia’s facing off. No one was killed in the war, and the truce resulted in Ohio gaining Toledo and Michigan getting the Upper Peninsula.

Disney in San Francisco

(A side note, the story I passed on information taht Lucas Films as involved. Their involvement may have been missreported in my source, or simply implied, overstated or missdirected. They have assisted companies and individuals in gaining the Precidio location and in logistics, although a respondent below indicates that they were not involved in ways inferred in what I wrote..another example of why mutliple sources and even a grain of thought are needed.."not in any way" for Lucas is possibly inaccuate...but the story below turns out to be missleading...thank you to a student or blog reader for catching the detail error)...

The first time I set foot in Disneyland I was in my upper 20’s, yet I knew my way around the park and felt at home. I had grown up with the park, watching every new ride and every aspect of the park on the various incarnations of Walt Disney World, The Wonderful World of Disney, the Wonderful World of Color, and Disney TV.

The Walt Disney family museum opened this week in San Francisco is in a converted preserved barracks at the Presidio, a tribute to his time in the Army in that city. It is not affiliated with the Disney Corporation. The high tech museum tells of his life and his contributions to business, families and children.  It is full of personal memories, home movies, his recordings of revelations never shared before, some of which Disney Corporation sought to block. His life is captured for better or worse, with a family filter. At 21 Disney’s first movie was dedicated to his daughter, with a mixture of a live Alice and animation figures, all in black and white. On a train trip with his wife two ideas were born…Mortimer Mouse (changed to Mickey at his wife’s request) and the focal point on trains, both in his own back yard and as a key part of Disneyland. He became the pied piper of the Baby Boomer generation. His grandchildren would kiss the television when he came on TV on Sunday evenings, as did many thousands of little kids around the country. He opened the world’s first theme park. He talks of how hurt he was when employees stuck, of profit margins, of brining the world to Southern California, of his own prejudice and of his passion for perfection. CBS Sunday Mornings had a very enjoyable visit to the museum, at least for this tail end of the Baby Boomer who grew up on Disney.

How much detail and expense was put into the museum. The Curator was imported from Harvard University, where he ran all of the schools museums and achieves. Technology is by Lucas Entertainment in San Francisco.

Financial News and Views
Dow came close on Tuesday to reaching to 10,000, Fed says that economy getting better and other indicators say we are in recover, according to Maria Bartiromo on the Wall Street Journal. Mortgage rates will remain low until March, interests rates near zero. Banks are moving to head off government-mandated change by lowering or dropping many fees, including lower amount overdrafts.

Harvard University Professor Ken Rogoff and University of Maryland Professor Carmen Reinhard have authored “This time is different”, a book that looks at historic economic downturns going back centuries and compare it to today. Their bottom line: it may take 3 to 5 years to fully turn around and we may never reach the levels in come areas of the economy we were at in 2007 before the crash. They are more optimistic about the stock market than other indicators, saying it could return to what most people would call normal within one to two years. Until then there will be a general up and down cycle, as a fragile and long cycle of recovery may be underway. Internationalism, the scope of the downturn, the breath of the downturn, the reality that it hit the worlds oldest and most stable economies, and a shift to depending on other parts of the world to share in stability and economic prosperity are all contributing forces to the complexity and likely difficulty of any recovery. This will take time, possibly decades, but at a minimum ten years.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, special UN envoy to the Middle East, as Maria’s guest on Wall Street Journal Report. In England people believe the worst is over but the shock to the system was so strong that it will take time for people to believe in a complete recover. The difficulty with the recovery is the fact that you are no longer falling off the edge of the cliff, so people put other priorities. How to you climb back up off the edge of the cliff and are the commitment there? In general terms he is for less protectionalism and more free trade. On financial reform there needs to be open, transparent, clear systems of coordination. The world is interconnected. Issues like the cost of health care and health care is not divorced from the economy. The stronger the economy, the better we are able to gain the health care we want, but at the same time the greater the cost of health care the more it limits or slows gaining the economy we want. Reform is needed internationally, in Blair’s view.

Bill and Melinda Gates were Maria’s final guest of the week. Editing to fit her canned questions proved too tight, so the interview moved too quickly and jumped in ways that did not make sense. It looked to the audience like she was interviewing them but as a broadcaster it was obvious to me that a pre-recorded interview was cut up to fit the segment.

Education was their focus, with Melinda saying that there are many failures in the system that lead to fewer students being prepared for college or work advancement. Bill says that other is no measurement system in place that currently works. He is a believer in testing, merit increases, continuing paid education for teachers and incentives to help teachers in other areas, such as housing, transportation and safety.

China, Sweden and a few other models need to be looked at, according to Melinda, because elements of their systems work well. The counties that work are higher tax or government ownership states. We can do this with heavy private sector investment in the US. We can import the best into the US. Both say that there are charter schools and other experiments in the US that are working. Of course Bill Gates says that technology will help, with auto web-cam, computer testing, Internet research working.

Meanwhile actor Tony Danza, from "Who's the Boss" and "Taxi" is taking on 10th grade English. He was going to literally take a year off to work in a school voluntarily, but the government and a sponsor made an offer he couldn' refuse. He is teaching English in a wired classroom in Philidelphia for a reality TV show. He has a BA in history, and some post graduate work as well. He is under the supervision of an certified teacher in this project. He says the students get use to the camera and soon ignore them and that his fame has no impact on them. None of them knew who he was. Both Baby Boomer hits were big  long before they were born and have even faded from cable. The show wlll air on A&E. He has committed to a full year of teaching and is considering changing professions, with stage acting in the summers.

King Kong's Monkey Gym

This week the Empire State Building unveiled a recreation of the original Art Deco detailing in the buildings lobby and public areas. The tile and paint murals recreate the original vision celebrating the mechanical age. The restoration took two full years, longer than it took to build the entire building. Today at 1250 feet, the Empire State is only the 14th tallest building in the world and will soon drop to 17th.