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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Can you do without FOX, CNN, ESPN?

On the technology front, the battle between cable companies and networks (Time Warner, COMCAST and FOX, just about everyone and FOX) is dividing consumer loyalties and denying access for no other reason than greed. The source (Fox for example) loses advertising revenue if it is not on cable systems and cable systems lose subscribers. However subscribers end up paying more for access to, for example, FOX, and cable companies find themselves deciding between what networks to cover in their limited bandwidth service. Politics comes into play, as Republicans demand their version of MTV, Fox News, and local sports fans clamor for FOX Sports, at the expense of say, Disney-ABC-ESPN channels that could be carried, or CNN's sister stations and networks.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday Morning News and Views

Actor Patrick Stewart is now a knight, with an official decree for the New Year from Queen Elizabeth. Director Peter Jordan, of "Lord of the Rings", was also knighted, at the direct request of the government of New Zealand (where the trilogy was made).

The correct way to say the year is now “twenty-ten” but most people will continue to say “two thousand ten.”

Have you noticed how stereotyping, profiling and making assumptions seems to have increased rather than decreased. We look upon race, religion and increasingly age in ways even more polarized than a decade ago. For example, it is assumed that young is current, young is hip, that older people have money or have had their chance, that new is better, that Muslims are potential terrorists, that if you are Christian you are conservative, that all Democrats are liberal, that Hispanics are Mexican illegal’s, that blacks are more likely to commit crimes and that

Governor Jim Gibbons stared the New Year by trying to block federal health care reform. He has asked Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Mastro for a ruling on the constitutionality under Nevada law of the Harry Reid backed US Senate Health Care Reform bill. He claims the legislation will cost Nevadans more than $613 million and lead to raising state and federal taxes.

“Face the Nation” took a look back at 2009 and ahead at 2010 with CBS correspondents Nancy ‘Cordes, Jan Crawford, David Martin, Bob Orr and Chip Reid.

The US and Brittan have closed our embassies indefinitely in Yemen today sighting security threats from the terrorist organization responsible the failed Christmas Day attack in the air over Detroit. They call the situation in Yemen as an eminent and active threat.

The alert today in Yemen is a direct result of the interception of 4 terrorist bombers with missions in Yeman and the US, all set for Christmas Day. Reports are that in retaliation for the failure of the attack on a US Airliner Christmas Day terrorists are ramping up and have confirmed attempts to “get even” with the US and with MI6 this week.

The president has a meeting set Tuesday with the heads of all US intelligence and military agencies. Obama is expected to take a reasoned, unemotional look at all aspects of homeland security with a goal of fixing the system and not punishing any minor mistakes or those who operated under potentially flawed orders or plans. Meanwhile Republicans are calling for blood from anyone “responsible”.

Vice President Chaney is saying President Obama is not fighting a war on terrorist, but conducting military exercises in Afghanistan while remaining in Iraq but pretending we are pulling out. Cheney says the government is not protecting America, here or abroad.

The White House is limited, because in the first 11 months of the Obama administration more drone strikes against terrorist were launched than in the entire Bush Administration, with the result of keeping the core command and control for the terrorists constantly changing and in disarray. Obama is also striking in Pakistan and Yemen, which contrary to Chaney’s view, shows we are at war.

Instead of making the war on terror a rally call, Obama is putting the PR on his domestic agenda, the one he promised Americans when he was elected. That, according to Obama administration insiders, does not mean a lack of support or, as Chaney implies, a weakness in our war on terror, or any of our offenses.

Terrorism is not just based in the Middle East. It can be rooted much closer to home. Drug cartels in Mexico are now killing women and children related to any policeman who dies in the line of fire enforcing Mexican drug laws. Threats exist against American law enforcement and their families in cities including here in Las

The number of journalist who died covering wars increased in 2009, making it the deadliest year on record. But for American journalist it became the lowest year since records started to be kept in 1992. It is not that the job is safer. The reason does not to mind immediately. There are fewer American professional journalist covering wars overseas because of recession based budget cuts, and those that do are in safe areas passing on official news due to a lack of manpower, rather than a lack of will power.

But the danger is higher overall. Why? The reason for increased danger and fatalities among all journalists may be a change of definition of journalist, with foreign and freelance Internet “journalist” now taking risk that traditional professionals would not take. Journalists, particularly local journalist to the country or region where war or major conflicts are taken place, are now looked upon as combatants and fair targets for military and terrorist alike. A shift for the worse.

In 1932 the movie “Hollywood Hotel” declared “Horary for Hollywood”, a Johnny Mercer song. 53 years later his music lives on through “Moon River”, “Fools Rush In”, “Quarter to Three,” “Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fee” and the largest songbook of any American composer, from 20’s flapper to rock lyrics adapted by contemporary stars. While causation, he grew up in Savanna, GA and picked up many the local African American culture, language and movement. He moved to New York to become and actor and became a songwriter for recordings, Broadway stage and Hollywood. Over 100 films and 200 Broadway shows feature his music. In 1942 he started Capital Records, signing Frank Sinatra, Nate King Cole and other celebrates of the 1950’s. He was obsessed and almost a stalker to Judy Garland. He was a gentleman but also an alcoholic, leading to “the Days of Wine and Roses”. He died in 1976 of a brain tumor; Mercer would be 100 this week.

Hollywood had its best weekend in history as it completed 2009. Avatar has earned a record 300 million Domestic Box Office since it opened.

Fortune Magazine Managing Editor Andy Serwer, and Wall Street Journal’s David Wessel were Maria Bartiromo’s guest on Wall Street Journal Report. She favored David Wessler as he is from her publication and he tended to say what she wanted to hear. He did say that next year will not create jobs, but that some jobs will return (not new but returning) to help turn things around a bit by mid year.

Andy Serwer says that jobs will be the last thing to recover, but the unemployment rate will go down by the midterm elections in the fall, at least enough to show positive momentum. Our leadership economically is now challenged, because we also led the world in the crash of the recession. The most American-like deregulated markets in the work, like Iceland, fell the hardest. So the China based socialist economic capitalism model is most likely to grow over the next few years, as we start to recover our leadership position.

Wessel says Bush and Obama stopped a major depression, but did not act fast enough or with enough money and political courage to stop the deep recession we experienced and are still in the immediate aftermath of.

Serwer says that the US leads the world in software, and that will be the growth area beyond 2010, including in business, entertainment and communication. We are the leaders in the information and entertainment technologies that will dominate the first half of the 21st century.

Wessler says that mobility of information, communication and transportation will be revolutionized, in a positive way, in the decade ahead.

Frankin Templeton Asssets and Investment’s Executive Chair Mark Mobius says that China, Brazil, followed by India and Russia in that order are the top markets to invest in. Saudi Arabia and Dubai, despite the political and economic current trouble, are also long term big picture investments. Commodities and consumers are where to invest in the third world. Per capita income is on the rise, as leaders begin to realize that if they raise the level of the lake all boats float.

The US will begin its recovery in 2010, which will help emerging markets because the overall global situation will increase. US and international companies with strong US ties are very important to the world economy.

This past decade is the first time in 70 years with a net job loss. Productivity is up, but at the expense of American jobs, income and with stagnation to decrease in the middle class. Real income per American is down drastically over the past decade. Economists say it may be 2015 before we are back to the level of jobs we had in 2006. Healthcare, technology, financial services, communication and government jobs will recover and build in the decade ahead.

Consumer demand and commodities are primarily from China and Russia, where consumerism and capitalism are on the rise. Brazil has population, natural resources and rise in the middle class in that country.

Turkey, South Africa and other markets key to the new economy are all increasingly capitalistic and consumer, according to Mobius.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake says stronger regulation is needed as the front line of defense to prevent speculative bubbles that could sent the economy into a new crisis. He is not ruling out higher interest rates, but will not recommend raising them any time soon. We have survived the worst economic crisis since the end of World War II and need to be vigilant during the recovery.

Snoop Dogg continued Maria’s current trend with ending her show with celebrities or top of mind consumer issues. Rapping has become an industry, and most successful rappers have had to become fully rounded business entrepreneurs.

In Snoop Dogg’s case (real name Calvin) his name has become a brand, almost a candy to be sold and consumed. His advise to young rappers is to have a strategic plan to be unique, original and be or do something nobody has ever done before. Study the great musicians and the great business minded people, pull yourself up and make yourself a leader, a positive example for others. Bring the fans into the process, keeping them in mind the entire time and empowering them. Keep your hands into the emerging technologies, keeping your name and brand in front with the latest things to come along and those that remain successful. Failure is not bad, as he had been involved in many failed businesses. You learn from failure. Pick your self up and look at your failure as a learning success, then keep moving.

His rapper name came from Charlie Brown, which as a tiny child he loved, especially Snoopy. His childhood nickname as “Snoopy Dog.”

Bank of America and other companies that have taken over much of the automotive consumer and dealership inventory financing. That has resulted in closure of dealerships across the country at or near the holidays for many car manufactures, including here in Las Vegas, where United Hyundai shut down December 30th without notice. Simply put, credit is growing tighter, causing business closures, difficulty in purchasing product and making it even harder to recover from the set backs of 2008 and 2009.

Banks are pushing consumers and small business into bankruptcy to meet federal standards that were set with the intent of helping the consumer. How and why? Banks are rewarded for solvency; so risky assets are being shed. The theory is a stable bank will help finance consumers and business. What is actually happening is the opposite, they say for the short run, but in reality it is slowing if not stopping any recovery.

Jobs left the US for foreign manufacturing, foreign outsourced white collar and phone jobs and a change in how we consume. The recession accelerated a trend already in place, putting Americans behind the 8-ball.

Dairies are going bankrupt due to large buyer driven low prices for milk. Wal-Mart and large supermarket conglomerates have driven the cost of milk to below what it cost for farmers to collect their or produce their product. Here too banks come into play, as dairy overhead is high due to increased interests, decreased credit lines and changes in how banks deal with them as small to even large businesses.

CBS Sunday Mornings asks if 2009 can stand up against 1917, 1929, 1932, 1945, 1959, 1964, 1969 or 1972? World War I and a devastating flue. Prohibition and the stock market crash, the end of World War II with the first Atomic Bomb, the invention of the microchip, civil rights, assassinations that changed history, Woodstock, social and political change at a dramatic change. What about 2001, the crucifixion of Christ in 32 AM, 1914 when the First World War began with mass-produced industrialized violence and cruelty, or other pivotal years when things change.

Napoleon called history “a fable agreed upon”. It represents ways to organize our experience, and years make organization easier to comprehend in a numbers based society.

2009 with an African American president, a massive recession in progress, escalation of another president’s War in Terror, new hero’s, mortgage crash and job loss, health care reform finally passing the Senate, Ted Kennedy passing and ending an era…

January 3, 1977, 33 years ago today, Apple computer was incorporated, founded the previous year by college dropouts. In 1982 Steve Jobs produced southern California’s Woodstock (for both rock and country fans over ten days in Divorce by San Bernardino), then 1984 saw a famous Superbowl commercial. Arguably 1977 may be added to the list of years that changed the world, as PC’s switched from business to home because of Apple, music from records and CD’s to digital accelerated due to Apple, cell phones to personal small computers or smart-phones.

CBS Sunday Morning looked back at the decade past. As part of that look they covered a few highlights, in events and in statistical milestones.

50% of Americans say the last decade was a bad one, viewing it as negative. The Pew Trust poll reflected only a 27% positive view of the last decade.

The Dow Jones industrials closed lower than its close a decade before, at a loss if you take inflation, the value of the dollar and other factors into account.

Over past ten years there was zero job increase but a sizable population increase, resulting in a net increase in unemployment.

For the first time more than ten billion dollars worth of tickets sold to movies in a single year, but industry revenues down 4% and no better in adjusted dollars than they were in 1999.

The series finale of “Friends” was the most watched program of the decade. Overall network television lost huge numbers since that milestone, making it likely the “Friends” milestone may stand for decades to come,

The best selling album was by the Beatles, a remastered collection released in 2000. The recording industry underwent a quantum change over the past decade that has resulted in lost revenue, stolen or file sharing product, and a shift in the business model.

Back to the Pew Trust poll: 59 % feel that the next decade will be better while only 32% expect worst.

CBS Sunday Mornings ended their look back at 2009 with a fitting tribute to the late Walter Cronkite.

Charles Osgood sat at the grand piano in his poinsettia and Christmas tree decorated studio and performed his annual “auld and seine” or “as times gone by” rendition, customized to 2009 and 2010. It’s a bit of old fashion television tradition that lives on into yet another decade.

“Face the Nation,” asks an important question. How much privacy, civil rights and freedom from a repressive government will endure when weighed against bombers like the one on Christmas Day, attacks like 9-11 and from another direction, the integration of data on computer networks that in the past were protected but now can be accessed, illegally if not legally. Bankruptcy, minor arrests, driving records even without convictions, mistaken identity, messed up credit records, data entry errors can keep Americans from landing jobs, gaining health care, securing credit or qualifying for increasingly needed security clearances.

The panel predicts health care reform will be signed into law, creating a void in Washington that could lose Democrats their jobs in the fall, despite a mild victory on health care. The super-majority, half the panel agreed, will be lost, keeping the president’s agenda from being as successful as it could be. Obama may be seen as a war president, despite his priority of a domestic agenda. Losing seats in 2010 will also contribute, most of the panel predicts, to the reelection of Barrack Obama in 2012. If his party remains solidly in power, repercussions for promises not kept may result in Obama being a one-term president. In other words the Republicans should hope they lose instead of win in 2010.