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Sunday, June 27, 2010

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Sunday Morning News and Views

In tyhis photo taken July 4, 1910 and provided by the Nevada Historical Society, Jack Johnson, right, fights "Great White Hope" Jim Jeffries in Reno Nevada. A century ago Johnson reached the pinnacle of his career when he defeated Jeffries in what was billed as the "Fight of the Century." One hundred years later fans of the legendary fighter are still seeking a posthumous presidential pardon for Johnson, saying that his later conviction for transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes was steeped in racism. (AP Photo/The Nevada Historical Society )

100 years ago this Saturday, July 4th 1910, heavyweight champion Jack Johnson reached the pinnacle of his career when he defeated the “Great White Hope: Jim Jeffries for the “Championship of the World” in an outdoor bout near Reno promoted as “the Fight of the Century.” It was filmed and became a movie sensation,  as early silent footage sold out in theaters coast to coast, as well as at country fairs and church gymnasiums.

Johnson was charged and some maintain falsely convicted of transporting a woman across state lines “for immoral purposes.” On the anniversary Johnson supporters will petition congress and President Barrack Obama to pardon the black fighter, who was widely hated after his knockout victory. The photo above captures the technical knockout. 

Nevada was popular for prizefights even then due to its tolerance of bare knuckle last man-standing fights, very different than the highly regulated battles of today.

One out of every 7 weddings is performed by a friend of the couple, a figure more then ten times as common as when Monica broke the ground on the popular series “Friends” in the last decade. Religious marriages remain the most common, at 62% of all weddings, with courts doing the rest. Religious communities worry that couples lose the resources and foundation that the counseling and foundation to increase the stability of the relationship and the country. In most states the weddings may not be fully legal, as churches such as the Universal Life Church (a for mail or on-line minister certification service) prosper in the attempt to “legalize” marriages in states where a minister or judge is require. Challenges to both friend marriages and to “mail-in-minister” services have gone both ways in court, so there is no stock answer. The question is by losing the religious significance of marriage, either form the heart or simply for the legal privileges, are couples losing the essence of what makes marriage work either on this earth or for eternity.

Having the right chemistry makes for solid relationship and love. Science is discovering that chemistry, as an explanation for love and relationships is a very real factor. From long time marriages to strip clubs, first dates to successful partnerships, chemicals and their impact on the brain may have far more impact than we every thought, even if we used the “chemistry” line to describe out own relationships. Strippers, who are most fertile, at the peek of the fertility cycle, earn more money than on the opposite side of their cycle. Relationships follow similar cycles, with most relationships sparking or beginning at the height of the fertility cycle. A good reason to avoid sex before marriage, if you think about it.

5 to 1 is the mathematical formula about whether a relationship will last. How often to do you compliment your mate? How often do you touch them in a romantic way? Do you hold hands? Do you spoon? Frequency counts, but it must be heart felt.

There is a real value to the love and devotion of dogs. This not only has to do with the chemistry that results from the process of petting, holding or even watching your beloved dog, but also very real rewards that impact areas of our brains that bring pleasure and define out own self image.

 “Ambush Marketing” has become a serious concern to major international sporting events, which rely on marketing income to stage their event. But should freedom of speech be limited by criminal law? For the London Olympics it will be a crime, not a civil case, if you use the terms 2012, Olympics, Gold or Olympic images in advertising in Great Britain, or in any way within a specified distance from the stadium. In South Africa girls in orange mini-skirts and the beer company it allegedly represented have been charged under criminal law for violation of the sponsor only laws. While most people side with the “ambush” marketers, large events cannot be staged without the exclusive advertising dollars, and the stakes are now so high that organizers have used their political and economic clout to create temporary monopolies. Is it warranted? 65% of those surveyed said American Express was an official sponsor of the last Olympics. It was not, Visa was. The investment by Visa paid for up to one fifth the overall venue initial financing. Does the advertiser have the right to protection?

Environmentalists are a favorite target for conservatives and those who are traditionally right wing Christian. But that may not be the case for long. “Protecting the creation” could be a new rallying cry for Christians, just an abortion and Roe vs. Wade was a generation ago. Christian groups are asking for people of all faiths to look toward more regulation, to individual stewardship and toward rewarding eco-friendly companies or groups. We are charged by the bible, Christians believe, to be the caretakers of all of God’s creatures. The BP oil spill, loss of arctic habitat, loss of entire species of life each week, tearing down of the rain forest and a long list of environmental threats take on a different light if viewed as the destroying of God’s earth and extermination of God’s creatures.

The BBC featured a story questioning is the US is racist. The story had to do with how little the US did when a US Company, Union Carbide, led to the death of 2,300 people immediately, an estimated 26,000 over time and the permanent pollution of a large area of land in the 1980’s in India. Yet the compensation pay out was in the tens of thousands, no millions or billions as with the BP oil spill, where only 11 people lost their lives. The CEO of Union Carbide was not extradited to testify or face charges in India. US Courts refused to hear cases related to the event, referring them to India. I can understand the view from India, but what I cannot understand is how a corporate disaster that threatens the livelihood and economics of a major sector of a country that provides financing, military and other air, corporate investment and even bailouts of other nations around the world can be compared apples to apples to a truly devastating and tragic loss of life in India more than two decades ago. They are separate events, in separate times, under separate administrations and with differing specifics of the case. How does that make the US racist or uneven in our handling of disasters? Have the forgotten out help in southeastern Asia after the Tsunami? The earthquakes in Haiti? Or how the US Navy, US companies ad US Charities are there for people without hours or a disaster no matter where it occurs in the world?

What does it mean to be poor? The International World Bank definition is $1 a day / $2 a day. The formula, which applies in third world countries mired in poverty, means that less than a stead income of $ 1 a day or an annual income of under $104 a year ($2 a day but not steady) is deep poverty. Many third world families do not have a regular reliable income, so they could not live at the $1 a day level because that level does not allow for savings, budgeting, borrowing or any possible bail out other than charity handouts.

An international study has found that the most stable economies in the world are those of the $2 a day extreme third world poor. They know how to budget, they lend and borrow money at no interests with neighbors and family in need, they think in term of community good rather then putting themselves first and they understand the blessing of having more than a survival level of income. This is why micro lending leads to real growth in third world communities but not in more established “poor” neighborhoods. The investment is repaid I spades and the use of the money is usually well-maintained and put to good use.

In societies where no matter how well you use your money you still starve, resentment, hatred and other negative emotions are fertilized and so strong that “the economy of good use” begins to deteriorate and permanent slums develop. These poverty cultures usually result from wars, ethnic hatred or natural disaster. It is here that strong social as well as economic aid may be needed to help the population lift itself out of extreme poverty.

A split in the G20 on how to deal with the economic crisis that continues around the word. European companies oppose bailouts following how they had to bail out Greece and to a lesser extent other countries earlier this year. Most nations oppose any tax cuts, because traditionally they have increased debt and caused “false investments.”  Obviously they are not Republicans or Obama. Other counties agree on bailouts but the opposition to tax cuts is almost universal except in the US. In general the priority is on stabilizing governments over business and the overall economy, because without stable governments there can be no stable business or individual stability and prosperity. Taxes are higher in European countries than in the US, in general tax supported services such as health care and guaranteed vacations and unemployment are considered more important than the US Government seems to see them, at least based on recent debates and votes.

This country is divided in half, and the divide is growing deeper instead of smaller. On one side are people with money who have not had to live in poverty or on unemployment, who have not had to survive on putting together multiple incomes and who have not faces foreclosure or tightening to a budget less than what it costs to pay all the bills. We’ll call them core Republicans. On the other are those who have been, through no fault of their own, discriminated against, faced with heavy collection calls, had to drastically change their lives due to the loss of a job or a major disaster where not enough aid has been provided due to the attitude and votes of those who feel we should all live in a bootstrap society, We will cost these core Democrats. That is the key difference between the parties and their philosophies. Have’s vs. have-nots. Those who dream and fight and scratch to make a living and hope for a better future and those who had lived their lives or who do not have to worry about whether they can pay the next rent or mortgage. We are a nation divided, as seen in this week’s vote on extending unemployment, on helping states with Medicaid programs and on relief for those who are losing their homes. These were shot down in a 41 to 69 vote to block a straight up vote. The Republican minority in the Senate, plus one Democrat, took food and hope and survival from those they think should be able to survive without handouts. That is how Republicans look at even temporary aid, as handouts. Having pieced together par time incomes since losing my full time income in 1998, I know that it is not the dregs of society who needed this help, nor is it form their own doing. Today large numbers of teachers, state and municipal employees, small business employees and even owners are facing the street through no fault of their own…despite what well off Republicans think, we are still in a recession. Why can’t the obstructionist (this time the Republicans, but at times the shoe is on the other foot, so both parties can be faulted) stop fighting every little thing and work for the betterment of the American people, of all citizens and of our society?

What happened to empathy?

Don’t ask about the Tea Party. Do they see the needs of a new baby boom, of strapped local municipalities, of those who wash dishes at the restaurants they love to sit in and talk Tea Party talk in? Just asking.

Interesting how gullible people are. Campaign Advertising blurs the lines of what is possible for a Washington representative to do on the local level, what a local representative can do on the state level or who has the control over Nevada’s economy? Does anyone? Legislative policies and governor’s management have a far greater impact on local and state jobs, taxes, police, schools and issues than anyone in Washington, including the President. But you wouldn’t know that from the campaign advertising. And then there is the two to five word slogans that have no depth and explain nothing. Emotion, Pathos, dominates politics with Logos, logic, and even individual credibility (ethos) left shattered in the dust.

We have to endure these commercials from all sides, all candidates, special interests groups, political action groups and political parties from now until November, with the messages growing more aggressive and the frequency overwhelming, particularly in Nevada where one congressional seat, the seat held by Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and the governor’s mansion all too close to call. Save us from TV, radio, automatic dialers, mailers, fliers, posters and pollsters!

Tracking language, numbers and column inches are ways communication researchers trace bias, political leaning and truth in the media. Studies of the RJ show that more than three times the column inches has been devoted to Republicans than Democrats, six times as much to positive coverage of Sharon Angle than Harry Reid in the senate race. Another way to study newspaper bias and inference is to examine the headlines. In today’s Las Vegas Review journal the headline on the first page of the Nevada section is “Appealing to Women” pointing out that Sharon Angle is the first woman to run for Senate in Nevada from a major political party and the first Republican Woman to do so. On page of the paper the “tease” reads,  “Angle needs female voters”. The two could well have been the plan of and part of a campaign strategy from the Angle campaign.  In the Opinion Section, where slanted heads are perhaps more palatable, the cover headline reads “Is Obama becoming another failed president”, over a large character of a Carter-esque peanut with large Obama ears. President Carter was the last Democratic president to serve only one term and be defeated (by Ronald Reagan) for reelection.

The University of Nevada Reno may eliminate both of its award earning ski programs and perhaps another sports program in the wake of a 17% cut in state funding and a shortfall of over one million dollars.  The basketball teams attendance and thus both ticket sales and advertising revenue, dropped 20% last year, while UNR’s proud football tradition ranks 101st of 121 NCAA Division teams, at under 17,500 a game.