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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Morning News and Views

On this date in 1846 wonderful Copenhagen opened Tivoli Gardens, the forerunner of the modern amusement park. Opened by a newspaper publisher it still attracts 3 million visitors a year, and may have the oldest wooden rollercoaster still operating (96 years old). Copied by the Royalty of Austria in Vienna and by other world leaders, after World WAR I American Entrepreneurs brought the concept to US and integrated traditional American and European traveling carnivals into the mix. It was damaged by the resistance during World War II because of is popularity with Nazi “tourist”. Walt Disney’s trip there was inspired in part by a visit there after the liberation. Note that Wikipedia has a different start date and year, but CBS TV and the official site list August 15, 1846.

Today is my mom’s birthday. If she were alive she would be in her 90’s, but I am sad to say I cannot remember exactly how old. Her sister, my Aunt Ann, turns 90 this December. I remember Mary Lynch this Sunday morning.

It is also the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, the reason for my mom being named Mary. 30,000 pilgrims paying their respects to the Blessed Virgin were evacuated from the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes just before the midday mass, after a bomb threat this morning.

Chicago born, rural Michigan raised jazz and blues singer Abby Lincoln dead at 80, She was also an actor and civil rights leader. Her last album was released in 2007 while she was recovering from open-heart surgery.

Icky Woods, former UNLV and NFL Football rushing record holder, lost his 16-year-old asthmatic son this weekend. His teammate Rendell Cunningham lost a child earlier this year.

This week marks the fifteenth anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia or the Grateful Dead, brining a one of a kind ongoing cultural event to an end. It was like the death of Woodstock.

200 families in China have been force to change their family names. The symbol used for their name is no longer recognized in the new Chinese alphabet, the one that computers use. There is no other way to spell their family names. What would their ancestors think?

The Secretary General of the UN says he has never seen a disaster as bad as the flooding in Pakistan. Schools, theaters, gaming facilities and social halls over most of Pakistan have been ordered closed today due to heavy Monsoon rains, flooding, and outside the disaster zone, to honor the dead. The government cancelled official ceremonies commemorating the birth of that country, putting public safety first. More than 1,600 are dead during the first two weeks of heavy rain and flooding. Cholera has been confirmed in at least one patient there. The US reports that more than six million people have yet to get access to aid.

Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Today is VJ Day, the day the Japanese officially surrendered. For the first time since the end of World War II, 65 years ago, there were no official government ceremonies at shrines, memorials or cemeteries in Japan. There was a major ceremony in Tokyo, with the release of peace doves and an apology from the Prime Minister on behalf of the Japanese people. The BBC paints quite a different picture, than US media, noting that the new Japanese government is thought to be less friendly toward the US. They are saying it is time to move on and leave the past behind us. Aggressive and often barbaric acts of Imperial Japan are considered a part of their pre-Democratic past and are being played down in textbooks and official histories. V.J. Day (Victory in Japan) was celebrated yearly by the now fading World War II generation, officially rolled into Memorial Day in the early 1970’s.

In South Korea and China, ceremonies were held remembering those who died at the hands of the Japanese, including still contested mass civilian execution, experimentation and during slave labor. Last year Japan apologized to Koreans for women who were forced to be “companions” for Japanese officers and soldiers.

Japan is limited in its military power constitutionally. The US wrote a peacekeeping mission into the Japanese constitution as we contributed to rebuilding that country. The government, and most of the population, believes it is time for Japan to officially have a military. Japanese “peace keepers” have worked along side the US in non-combative roles in Vietnam; both Gulf wars and remain in Afghanistan.

An off-road race on the Soggy Dry Lake Bed turned deadly in Lucerne Valley, near Apple Valley and Victorville, California. A vehicle jumped into the dense crowd during the California 200, killing 8 and injuring more than 12 others, many of whom were airlifted to hospitals. 

Resident throughout the Southwest and California are being asked to be on the lookout for an escaped Arizona prison inmate and an accomplish. The pair were involved in the death of an Oklahoma couple whose bodies were found in New Mexico last week. While Arizona and Nevada are the US Marshalls focus, the search has been broadened to include Montana, Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

General David Patreaus says that American efforts in Afghanistan are making “modest” progress and that those gains need more time to take roots. He says its “an up an down progress” as we seize Taliban controlled territory and create “small pockets of progress” in the country. Meanwhile July was the deadliest month of the war, and support on Capital Hill and in the US is declining. The fear is that the US will pull out before we can assure that Afghanistan will not once again become a major staging area for attacks against the US, as it did with the 9-11 terrorists.

Arab nations are pushing the US to end its support of Israel’s secrecy surrounding it nuclear programs and allow international inspections. Last month President Obama warned that any effort to single out Israel would derail any movement toward a nuclear free middle east. Iran and other nations maintain that Israel’s assumed nuclear power justifies Arab fears and could support a nuclear weapon strategy, which they insist in not now the case. Meanwhile there is widening fear that Israel will preemptively strike what they claim are nuclear weapons development sites within Iran.

President Obama is offering his personal assurances that swimming in the Gulf of Mexico is safe, by taking a brief vacation in Florida and going swimming with his family. Tomorrow the president is off on a whirlwind tour supporting Democratic Candidates and his cognomina agenda.

The president has given his green light on Israel’s purchase of four billion dollars worth of US F-3I Stealth fighter jets and parts. The jets are capable of delivering a nuclear payload, but are best used for reconnaissance and strategic non-nuclear strikes.

Opposition to same-sex marriage is eroding in Nevada. An RJ-KLAS TV 8 poll reflects 46% opposing same-sex marriage while 35% support it.  This contrasts to 2/3rd (over 67%) that approved a constitutional ban on same sex marriage back in 2002.

Apparently Nevadans have little tolerance for immigrants who come here without renewing their visa's. The RJ sponsored poll shows that 57% or almost six out of ten oppose any immigration reform that would allow all of those living here without legal status to be give the opportunity to stay and apply for citizenship. Of course it is important to note that most of the proposals only allow those who meet certain criteria to remain with a chance of citizenship, but RJ pollsters prefer to encourage the negative response by including "all" in their question methodology or make-up. Overt one third, or 36%, say the do favor an overall amnesty. RJ headlines do not reflect that one in four Nevadans surveyed favored the 100% or all immigrant option for citizenship as worded in the question.

Incumbent Congress member Dina Titus and State Senator Joe Heck are in a statistical dead heat, with Titus at 43% to Heck at 42%. The third Congressional district is close to even in party registration.

Republican Brian Sandoval’s once double-digit lead over Democrat Rory Reid is slipping. An RJ-KLAS TV poll statewide poll shows that 52% currently favor Sandoval, to 36% Reid, a 16 point difference, down form 19 two weeks ago with a 4% plus or minus error range (8%). Reid’s last name works against him in rural and northern Nevada, in this heavy anti-Harry Reid advertising climate.

The RJ-KLAS Poll was done by Republican based Mason-Dixon Polling firm. Results and previous polls may be accessed at

An Associated Press –FfK poll shows that only 32 percent of those who claim no political affiliation say they would like the see the Democrats keep control of the house and senate in Washington, down from the 52% of independent voters who backed Senator Barack Obama against Senator John McCain in the presidential election two years ago. Independents have a much stronger concern about the economy than their patrician counterparts; with over 90% saying the number one issue is the economy. No other issue even came close.

So are things getting better? When asked if over the next year responders expected their personal finances to improve, those surveyed by the Review Journal and KLAS TV said “No”. Only 8 percent anticipated improvement, 38%, or four out of ten, expect their personal finances to get worse, and 47%, or just under half think things will remain the same.

Despite strong leanings against Obama in Nevada, an RJ poll reports that only 38% of those polled feel the US would be better off if John McCain were elected president.

Are we at risk for a double dip depression, with a return to a smaller but still drastic second recession of this Great Recession? Of course Wall Street Journal Report says we are not going that direction and all of the indicators will show growth in the fourth quarter and a better 2011. However, it remains a jobless growth, with credit the tightest is has been excepting for the height of the bank crisis. Consumers are ready to spend, business is expanding and the international environment is recovering. Firms are in a position to hire and many have profits. However companies, which laid off over 8 and a half million workers, are not hiring in large numbers, and when doing so are hiring at lower pay levels or in non-industrial positions. Investors see a different picture, as their focus in international, with manufacturing in China, India, Malaysia and elsewhere ramping back up.

Topeka, Kansas is number ten on the list of the best places in he US to live in work for the next decade. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance looked at many factors including unemployment, income per capita, innovation, education, tax climate, and above all quality of life.  Austin, Texas came in first, with education, public-private partnerships, government, entertainment industry, music, computer programming…Washington DC is number three, with the gain of more residents last year than any year since World War II. Major corporations are moving to Virginia and the DC area. These include universities, biotech. Also on the list is Rochester, MN (hospitality, Mayo clinic, he arts, medical technology).

Comic-Con and Hollywood: A Symbiotic Relationship

In 1976 Star Wars was the first movie presented at Comic-Con. Now the four-day event, with about 125,000 attendees, is a huge marketing bonanza -- not just for comic-book movies, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and animation but practically any movie or TV show loosely connected to this fan base. We hear what the people at this year's Comic-Con think about Hollywood. Then Jeff Walker, long-time "genre consultant" to Hollywood studios. He  presented Blade Runner at Comic-Con in 1979 and ever since he's lived the geek dream, working for and with the studios on publicity campaigns for movies like all the Batman films, The Matrix trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Inception and many, many others.

-From KCRW's The Business, click here to listen to the program.