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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Too many 3D movies for one holiday weekend

3D pics face holiday screen crunch
'Tron'
Has 3D come far enough to meet the holiday crunch, which will see six 3D pics (including 'Tron,' above) unspool over a six-week stretch?Click on the title directly above the photo to read the full story in Variety.com.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part III

30 years ago today the MGM Grand caught fire, leading international news as customers fled the flames, leaping to their deaths. The hotel is now Bally's and has been retrofitted for fire safety. The event remains the darkest page in Las Vegas history. 85 people died and around 700 were injured. The fire broke out just before 8 in the morning on a Friday morning. An electrical short jumped out of control and raced through the casino at 15 to 19 feet per second. A toxic black smoke rose through the building, taking lives in the process. Police and later Nellis AFB evacuated guests as quickly as possible from the roof. The Convention Center became a rescue center, and the town shut down. Within weeks all building, fire and electrical safety laws were rewritten, making Las Vegas one of the safest high rise cities in the country. Resistance to the new laws ended two months after the MGM fire, when a fatal  fire broke out at the Hilton. The MGM was sold to Bally's in 1986, in part due to damage to the brand name.

Consumer Reports says that adults under 35 will be spending more this holiday season, but not on themselves. Surveys and retail research indicates that there is a bottled up demand and a feeling that gift giving needs to return in full force this holiday season. Meanwhile those over 35 indicate they will spend the same or less than last year, One possible explanation is that this recession hit those over 35 harder than any previous recession, with unemployment among skilled labor, white collar and educated professionals remaining high compared to any previous measurement since the Stock Market  Crash that launched the Great Depression. Younger adults appear to be seeking a return to what life was like in their childhood, while older adults appear to still fear for their own futures.

Paris Hilton is doing community service, ordered by a court in Las Vegas, but do not look for her in your neighborhood. She stared scrubbing graffiti off walls along Sunset Blvd in Hollywood yesterday.

This morning on CBS News Face the Nation Secretary of State Hillary Clinton now says that the allies, including Afghanistan, are now behind actions by US Forces in Afghanistan, while still reluctant on the number of civilians killed in night raids by US Forces, a key part of the offensive. She says we are making progress on the land, and because we are in a war against an enemy that "does not fight fairly" we have to be as clear as we can that we are going after the real enemy. Our troops stand up for American national security interests. Reports of progress by the Taliban are disputed by Clinton, who says we are degrading and eroding the Taliban with every move.

On the START Treaty, Clinton says that the president can get the votes to ratify the new treaty. There is no doubt that the treaty is in the interests of the United States. Strategic arms reduction remains a necessity, with a treaty that can allow for inspections and cooperation. Our friends and allies around the world support us. Without it we cannot verify the reduction and control of nuclear weapons. This needs to be dealt with quickly and soon.

On the scanners and pat-downs for air travel she says that we need to be constantly asking ourselves how we calculate the risk. Clearly we are doing this because the terrorist keep getting more creative about what they do to hide explosives. Clearly there is a need. Perhaps there is a way to limit the number of people, Remember everybody is trying to do the right things. Clinton was asked if she would submit to a "pat down". Her response "not if I can avoid it."

Personal privacy and our rights as citizens are both being put into question under the threat of terrorism. Discomfort, delay and exposure to small amounts of radiation may become the new normal in our post 9-11 world. We will never be the same country we were before. In at least one way, the terrorist have won. They have eroded and put into question our civil liberties and basic beliefs as to the limits or and protections of freedom.

The head of the Transportation Security Administration says that while new airport screening procedures are more invasive, threats against air travelers rule out policy changes.John Pistole told CNN's "State of the Union" that the agency has no plans to change its policy of requiring travelers at many major airports to undergo either enhanced body scans or thorough pat-downs. Pistole said screeners are "really the last line of defense" in the effort to keep the traveling public safe against a
"determined enemy" that has proved adept in coming up with new ways to conceal explosive devices.

As the program moved on it dealt with the issue of civilian Federal Court trials for alleged terror suspects. The problem is that the people involved may be Innocent, that they may or may not be terrorist, yet to try them in civilian court has proven to be difficult with less than desirable results. Can we afford to allow real terrorist to go free, as we might a civilian criminal where the case was less than complete and convincing, just to uphold our belief in protecting the innocent? If not, how will it impact our moral fabric as a society.

You have to bring in revenue as well as cut spending if you wish to cut the deficit and still deal with unemployment, very slow job growth, and a decline in the US position in the world economically, in education, in industry and in political strength.

The priority of the new Republican house is to obstruct and stop Barrack Obama, putting off real compromise and progress until they can get a Republican in the White House in 2012. The danger is gridlock, which could work against Republicans come the next election. An NBC poll shows that registered Republicans say they want their elected representatives to stop Obama and Obama policies, even if it means other programs are put on hold. Republicans are betting that if they keep the president from accomplishing anything they will win in two years. They are gambling Obama will not fight in the way needed, and his reaching across the isle will work for them, as it did in the year leading up to this year's elections.The question is in a world of unemployment, top heavy homes, decrease in US standings in everything from manufacturing to education, can doing nothing and being the opposition work?


Iraq's parliament speaker says the oil-rich nation has run out of money to pay for widows' benefits, farm crops and other programs for the poor. Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi told lawmakers Sunday that parliament would push the Iraqi government for answers on where the money has gone. Irritated lawmakers demanded answers. Parliament members have each collected more than $100,000 so far this year in salaries and stipends, though they have only met four times since March amid the deadlock over forming a new government. A Finance Ministry official said the estimated $1 billion social care budget has been emptied for 2010. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says he supports Congress using its lame-duck session to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military. Adm. Mike Mullen says he backs action before the new Congress in January - if that's what it takes to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy as soon as possible. He spoke on ABC's "This Week."
    
Authorities say an armed carjacking in West Philadelphia ended in an exchange of gunfire at the University of Pennsylvania and the death of a suspect. No one else was injured in the exchange behind the university library about 3 a.m. Sunday. University Vice President Maureen Rush said the early morning hour and the cold weather had kept people off the streets.University security officials said the vehicle was carjacked about a mile from the school. Philadelphia police gave chase; the driver lost control, crashed into a concrete barrier near campus and two male suspects fled. Officials said police ran after them, and one suspect was shot. He was pronounced dead at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Police arrested the other man.

A Holocaust survivors group is voicing dismay over Pope Benedict XVI's assertion that wartime pontiff Pius XII saved more Jews than anyone else. Elan Steinberg, an official of the group, said Benedict's comments "fill us with pain and sadness." Some scholars and Jewish leaders contend Pius didn't speak out enough against mass deportation and killing of Jews by Germany's Nazi regime. Benedict in a book to be published Tuesday contends that Pius was a "great righteous man" who "'saved more Jews than anyone else." Steinberg in a statement said singling out Pius for praise in the pope's book could hurt Vatican-Jewish relations.Catholic scholars meanwhile point to the church's role in providing sanctuary and routes for not only Jews, but captured Allied soldiers, dissident political leaders, scientist and intellectuals to flea Nazi Germany and captured territory under Nazi control. If churches had been shut down, or the Vatican, located in the middle of what was Fascist Italy, had been compromised such an "underground highway" would not have been possible.

The Pope's book also indicates that if needed, he would be open to stepping down while he is still alive "should grave health reasons" dictate a change is needed.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

This thanksgiving over 40 million Americans are expected to travel to their loved ones by car...up 12% from last year. Air travel is expected to be down, due to new rules at the airports, discouraging airport travelers from making trips. Full Body Images and pat downs have Americans intimidated, say travel experts. About one and a half million Americans are expected to fly over Thanksgiving weekend.

Travelers and those who remained at home face a cold week ahead for the entire country this unofficial start of the holiday winter season. Rain for at least half of Americans.

Food and Thanksgiving so together, and to borrow an old slogan from a now long gone Las Vegas Strip Hotel, the "Castaways"..."Tomorrow the Diet.." It turns out that diet fads are not new. During World War I a long time trend toward weight as healthy was reversed because the focus was on shipping food to the troops and starving citizens of Europe. To be overweight was to be un-American. Then the Roaring 20's where the slim flapper was in (barring exceptions like a more traditional meat on her bones sexy Mae West, well into the 1940's). The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl saw Americans in food lines, rationing and food as a sign of affluence and success. That carried until the 1960s', when again the thin, healthy, sometimes anorexic image became "fabulous". Since then it has been a constant battle between feast and famine.

Then too there is the farm feast of our agrarian tradition. Larger breakfasts and "supper" midday or early afternoon were a key part of the hard work day of farmers, and in many ways were far healthier than our current eating habits. The Thanksgiving feast is best given some time shortly after noon in the true American feast tradition. The practice is much healthier, as long as you do not each too much.

But how to you celebrate Thanksgiving if you are into the very healthy athletes habit of four to six small short meals a day?

30 years ago tonight over 32 million viewers tuned in to see "who shot JR" in that historic record setting episode of "Dallas".

President Obama for the first time admitted he wants US Troops out of Afghanistan by 2014, at least combat troops. Meanwhile terrorist are using their on-line magazine to outline a new strategy to hit the US with many strikes against our financial infrastructure and commerce rather than on large spectacular attack.

Media is going to cost you. What was free will soon cost. From speed of access to amount of content you access, type of product and method of delivery, media corporations are doing to the Internet what they did to cable and before that telephone communications. No matter how much you may feel you "deserve" or "have a right to" access, you will find your limited income tapped deeper and deeper to provide access to text messages, e-mail, web sites, music and videos to the point where it will become as important to budget as food or gasoline. As soon as there is a Republican president and congress, watch the dam break loose and pay-per-everything kick in. The FCC, the first gateway, is made up of two members of each party, with a chair appointed by the president. Congress, in the end, regulates interstate commerce, which means communication that crosses state lines. The courts have increasingly proven themselves to be pro-business when the issue is individual access or the need of business to profit and prosper.

Las Vegas is making another push to lure a professional basketball or hockey team to move to Sin City. The City Council approved a move this week to let developer Cordish Companies build a sports arena with more than 20,000 seats at the city's sprawling Symphony Park development zone.

Weekend edition Sunday visited the preview of the new Mob Museum, at the downtown Federal Court House and Post Office. The story, along with all of NPR's visits over recent weeks to Las Vegas, is available on-line by searching Weekend Edition Sunday and All Things Considered. The museum story includes many historic clips on organized crime and on the battle against mobsters.

The Sierra Club and Moapa Band of Paiutes have sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over the expansion of a landfill for coal-ash waste outside of Las Vegas. The coal-fired Reid Gardner power plant currently operates the landfill near the tribe's reservation. The suit claims the BLM failed to prepare a formal environmental impact statement.

The Bellagio hotel and casino has received AAA's top rating for the 10th straight year. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the travel group has given its Five Diamond Award to the MGM Resorts International property. According to AAA's Web site, the Five Diamond Award goes to properties that provide meticulous service, exceed guest expectations and maintain standards of excellence. The Bellagio also houses two AAA Five Diamond restaurants, Picasso and Le Cirque.

For only the third time in the last three years, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas has reported a monthly increase in its passenger count. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the number of people boarding and getting off flights at the airport in October was nearly 3.6 million, up 2 percent from the same month in 2009. McCarran officials have predicted the airport's passenger count would be flat during the fiscal year. Casino industry officials have said an economic rebound for Las Vegas hinges on an increase in airport traffic.The passenger count climbed in October, despite a 42 percent decline for US Airways, which in 2009 began dismantling its hub operation in Las

Long Term unemployment is at levels not seen since the Great Depression. And education does not appear to be an edge. Nor experience. Nor age.Unemployment nationally sits near one in ten Americans, but that only includes those collecting benefits. Many professionals who lost their jobs, in a wide range of fields, took part time or low level jobs that could not keep up with their bills, or are depending on the income of a spouse, again below the level of their bills and commitments, while looking for work. An estimated one in three Americans have lost jobs in the fields and are either without work or earning well below the needs of their families. 40% of the unemployed, over six million people have been unemployed for six months or more. They go way beyond "deadbeats". Most have bachelors degrees. Almost half have masters or the equivalent in their field. These are highly qualified individuals, many of whom have never before been unemployed.

As reported last week "6.2 million Americans have been unemployed for six months or more. They are not "derelicts" or "deadbeats". Most of these long term unemployed have never been without work before. An estimated 5.6 million of these are skilled workers, many white collar, whose skills are not the sort hired by lower paying or temporary jobs. Added to their peril is the reality that in this fast moving technology driven world, every month you are off you may fall behind on programs, practices or other technological skills. Employers seldom look at anyone who is unemployed for more than a few months, and most employers who are seeking skilled workers prefer to recruit those who already have jobs.Paying for relocation and other perks in taking a new job are no longer being offered by employers, making it difficult for many unemployed to consider jobs they are qualified for because they cannot sell their homes or afford the move.
The longer a professional is out of work, whether a bio-chemist or an auto mechanic, a sales rep or a profession, the lower their chances of employment, as most fields are advancing at a rapid rate and knowledge is the currency of employment. Highly qualified individuals are seen as "out of it" or "over the hill" in a market that rewards youth, current education and "what have you done lately."

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I


The search for the suspect accused of shooting and critically wounding a Utah park ranger ear Moab, Utah, John Ford Country, continues. .Yesterday, nearly 100 officers combed a rugged Utah canyon and are believed to be closing in on the gunman. Grand County Sheriff James Nyland said officers were able to pick up the man's footprints and found his rifle and backpack along the Colorado River, about 22 miles southwest of Moab. Searchers later found a tattered, bloody T-shirt that the suspect may have used to stanch a heavily bleeding wound. About 20 officers maintained a nighttime perimeter at the canyon with the full-scale search with dozens of officers underway this morning. Utah State Parks Ranger Brody Young, 34, of Moab, was shot three times Friday night. Young is in critical but stable condition at a Grand Junction Colorado hospital.

Weekend Edition Sunday, for the second week in a row, focused on Las Vegas, with a variety of features including a visit to The Beat Coffee House downtown, the solar project by Boulder City (they did say less than a half hour from Las Vegas), the Nevada Cancer Institute and of course, Mayor Oscar Goodman's mob museum.

The Rhodes Trust says 32 American students have been named Rhodes Scholars and will enter Oxford University next October. The scholarships were announced early Sunday and provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the prestigious university in England. The winners were selected from 837 applicants endorsed by 309 different colleges and universities. Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes. Winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor, among other attributes. The value of the scholarships averages about $50,000 per year.The American students will join an international group of scholars selected from 14 other jurisdictions around the world. Approximately 80 scholars are selected each year.The year the UNLV Runnnin' Rebels won the National Championship there was a Rhodes Scholar on the team. Former NBA star and US Senator Bill Bradly is a Rhodes Scholar. John F Kennedy and former Democratic Party Presidential Candidate John Kerry is also a Rhodes Scholar.

The Pope has indicated that condoms may be used in emergency situations. The Vatican indicates an example may be prostitutes who begin their journal toward moral repair or rebirth in Christ.In a booklet the Pope says that condemns are not a moral way to battle aids or infidelity, but may be a step forward toward redemption.

A scientist who's been there says North Korea has built a large new facility to enrich uranium and done it both secretly and with unusual speed. An American nuclear scientist who visited the site, Siegfried Hecker, says he's "stunned" by the sophistication of the facility which included hundreds of newly installed centrifuges. He says it
has an "ultra-modern control room." Hecker, the former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, privately informed the White House of his findings.The information could be used by the West as evidence that North Korea continues to develop its nuclear program. The Obama administration's special envoy on North Korea plans to
visit South Korea, Japan and China amid rising worries about North Korea's nuclear plans.

In Europe it is an exit strategy, while in the US a "draw down" strategy for NATO military combat forces to be out of Afghanistan. Many areas of Afghanistan are less stable than they were a few months ago, with Taliban attacks in areas where they were not located a year ago, leading some experts to say that the Taliban may be winning. Meanwhile the US points to areas where the people are glad to be rid of the Taliban and are supporting coalition troops. The Taliban say they will keep fighting to force the U.S.-led coalition to abandon Afghanistan ahead of the 2014 date set by the alliance for a transition to Afghan control. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in message e-mailed to the media on Sunday that NATO will be unable to establish a stable government in Afghanistan by that date. He did not mention an offer from President Hamid Karzai for peace talks and eventual reconciliation - an offer rejected by the hard-line Taliban leadership.NATO decided during a weekend summit in Lisbon that it will begin a gradual transition of military control that will have Afghan forces take the lead by the end of 2014. U.S. and other troops will remain past that date mostly in a training role.

Terrorist monitoring groups say Al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula claims its attempts to blow up package bombs on two cargo flights headed to the U.S. cost only $4,200. In an edition of the Yemeni-based group's online Inspire magazine, it details how what it calls Operation Hemorrhage used common items like cell phones, and printers stuffed with an organic explosive. The group claims the same method brought down a cargo plane in Dubai. The group says it's part of a new strategy, to replace
spectacular attacks in favor of smaller attacks to hit the U.S. economy. That from Ben Venske's IntelCenter and the Site Intelligence Group. U.S. officials insist the Dubai cargo plane crash was an accident, not terrorism.

The number of deaths caused by recent eruptions at Indonesia's most volatile volcano has risen to 304.The National Disaster Management Agency said this morning that the toll climbed after some victims succumbed to severe burns and illnesses linked to the eruption. Also, more ash-buried bodies have been found on the slopes of Mount Merapi.The volcano started erupting late last month after years of dormancy. The most significant blast on Nov. 5 was Mount Merapi's deadliest in decades.The agency says volcanic activity has declined sharply and Merapi's current eruptions are not strong enough to endanger people. Half of nearly 400,000 evacuees have returned home in recent days.

Global wildlife experts and politicians from 13 countries are meeting in Russia to discuss plans to revive the world's tiger population that has shrunk to a dangerously low level.The World Wildlife Fund and other experts say only about 3,200 tigers remain in the wild, a dramatic plunge from an estimated 100,000 a century ago.Their habitat is being destroyed by forest cutting and construction, and they are a valuable trophy for poachers who want their skins and body parts prized in Chinese traditional medicine.The four-day summit that opened Sunday is hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has adroitly used encounters with tigers and other wildlife to bolster his image. The summit plans to approve a wide-ranging program aimed at doubling the world's tiger population in the wild by 2022.