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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part IV

President Gingrich? Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he's more inclined to run for president in 2012 than not to make a bid. Gingrich says he probably won't make a decision until late February or early March. But he says that talking to friends and thinking about such an undertaking have made him more inclined to believe that "it's doable." He tells "Fox News Sunday" that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is probably the front-runner for the Republican nomination, in terms of campaign structure. And Gingrich says former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is probably the most popular of the likely GOP candidates. As for where he stands in a potentially crowded field, Gingrich says he's competitive and somewhere in the bunch.

Mitch McConnell says he is seeking a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts, saying he is very hopeful taxes will not go up in America. He is optimistic about the future of this country despite the Democrats numbers and fears. He says the American people feel strongly taxes should not go up. He says small business is the engine driving our country and that small businesses would have been most impacted should “taxes go up”. He says that the Congress needs to fund the government for the next ten months before they can begin to look at the START Treaty or any other issues beyond what was decided yesterday on the tax “increases.”  Social Security and Medicare need to be restructured and reformed to make sure that our children and grandchildren we have the “same kind of country that our parents left to us.”

McConnell says that he can be bi-patrician and work with Obama despite his pledge that his goal is to make Obama a one-term president. He predicts Obama will become “a born again moderate” (despite the fact that Obama has been a moderate from day one by national standards). “I like him personally, we have different political views but there are areas where we have come ideas in common.”

McConnell says that if  “don’t ask don’t tell” is not lifted this term, it will not be in the lame duck session, because it is a part of a defense bill that “includes abortions” and other issues in a wide range of disputed areas.

“This is out Sputnik moment….we act or are left behind,” Former Presidential Candidate Senator John Kerry is against the tax cut, saying it has failed over the past ten years. He ways we have seen a Republican Party that is “absolutely prepared to deny unemployment benefits, holding it hostage so that the wealthiest people in America can get a bonus tax cut.” He points out that the plan to extend the tax cuts is one to extend them to every single American, up to $251,000 in income. He calls the Republicans “fundamentally reckless.”

American is challenged as never before, says Kerry, who says “the US is locked down into a gridlock status while other countries are racing past us….90% of green investment will be in other countries….we are not even in the game.”  Technology we invested now sees the US with “not one company in the top ten” in the production of products invented and pioneered by Americans.

Of course there is the unanswered question. Politics aside, doesn't John Kerry bear a strange resemblance to Herman Munster?

The votes yesterday show Americans what we are fighting for, to keep putting money back into the pockets of the wealthy what may not even invest it, much less invest in the US. Corporations are investing in markets with high return, so Americans are investing their money outside of the United States. The President came into office with a president that left him with a five billion dollar deficit. The Recovery Act, the bailouts saves millions of American’s jobs and billions in dollars. We have a three trillion dollar increase in the increase of American companies in just two years. The Small Business Act helped American business.

The president, according to Kerry, is fighting to get American unemployment that the Republicans are holding hostage. Yet the tax cut increases debt four trillion dollars, wiping out all the gains of all other budget legislation. Republicans say they are for reducing debt, but at the same time they want cut taxes, reducing the infrastructure we need to regroup out own country.

Social Security numbers have been made public. How to make roadside bombs has been made public. The trust of ambassadors and those who work hard building relationships to the benefit of our country are in shatters. Kerry says that Wikileaks is a serious danger and that the uncontrolled and unethical release of private information crosses our moral and ethical lines and violates our rights as individuals.

Kerry says Afghanistan is not Vietnam. We should not have been in Vietnam. In Afghanistan we are there for a purpose. We are on the right track, to turn this over the Afghans as rapidly as possible in a way that meets their needs to survive and our needs to prosecute our battle on terrorism. Pakistan is as much of a key as Afghanistan. “The president is doing all he can to prevent the questions I asked about Vietnam in 1971.”

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part III

A possible posthumous pardon for Jim Morrison of The Doors, who was convicted of indecent
exposure in Florida in 1970. Under the governors request comes reports that Morison’s road 
manager pulled the performer from the stage of the 1969 before he could expose anything, 
he was a good student when he attended Florida State, that the police were out to snip his 
version of music and culture in the bud and data on the economic impact of Morison’s ties 
to Florida and the music he promoted.
42 are dead in Israeli brush fires, now taking a toll on Palestinian and Jewish residents alike. 
The US has joined in the international effort to contain the blaze.

This morning Iran revealed it has produced its first “yellow cake”, the term for 
reactor ready nuclear fuel, and the US fears, the building block of a basic nuclear weapon.  
Iran says it has started mining its own uranium, enabling it to bypass U.N. sanctions that 
prohibit importing it. Iran's nuclear chief says scientists have delivered the first domestically 
produced raw uranium to a facility that starts the nuclear fuel production process. 
Today's announcement from Iran's nuclear chief comes a day before a new round 
of talks begins in Geneva about Iran's nuclear program. 
Scientist are increasingly being vilified by the half of Americans who are increasingly 
aligned with conservatives, Tea Party and Republicanism in America. Stem Cells, Darwin, 
life in outer space, the geological history of the world, climate change, pollution and other issues…
Three years ago, Al Gore won a Nobel Prize for his efforts to publicize climate change threats. 
But since then, fewer Americans believe the threat is real.  Environmental groups and 
the climate scientists they represent have lost ground and are now scrambling to 
figure out why their message isn't being widely accepted. Some groups have 
changed direction and hired major corporate conservative marketing experts 
as their leadership, with one group going so far as to hire the former CEO 
of the World Wresting Federation to sell they view as the reality of climate 
change to skeptic conservatives. 
NPR has a story on the amazing genetic diversity and flexibility of the mighty Redwoods. 
Proof lies in the Ghost Trees, now protected by armed park service guards.
They're known as "ghost trees," and for good reason: Albino redwoods are 
extremely rare and nearly impossible to spot. There may be as few as 25 of 
these trees in the world, yet eight of them are at Henry Cowell
Redwood State Park in Northern California. They lack chlorophyll and 
suck energy from their parent tree.
Officials and experts are cautiously welcoming the news that a northern Somalia 
government is training an anti-piracy force but warn that many questions remain 
over the chain of command and legal framework. Last week The Associated Press 
reported that a private security company is training an anti-piracy force of up to 1,050 men in the semiautonomous Somali region of Puntland. An unnamed Muslim country is paying for the force. 
The U.S says the identity and aims of the donor are unclear and raised concerns 
the training may break a U.N. arms embargo. Alan Cole, the head of the U.N.'s 
anti-piracy force, called the new security force "a good thing." But he said he 
would like to know more, including the donor's identity.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assan regards the US an enemy of Democracy, 
believes that we need to peal back the veil shrouding this information age 
and that the world needs a major shift to move forward. He has been 
called reckless in putting lives at risk. But he says that the Pentagon 
refused to edit and vet the document he attempted to and has begun 
to reveal to the world. His British Visa expires next year, and 
he is a wanted criminal in his home country with an international 
“red” arrest warrants valid in 148 countries including Great Britain, 
where he is now living with friends.. He changes mobiles phones 
“as other men change shirts”, never uses the same computer twice. 
The Senate Republican leader says it's become clear now that taxes 
will not be raised for anyone during the current economic downturn. 
Sen. Mitch McConnell's admission comes a day after Senate Republicans 
voted down Democratic efforts to limit any extension of the Bush-era 
tax cuts for the top-earning Americans.  President Barrack Obama 
then signaled a willingness to give in to Republican demands that 
the tax cuts that expire at the end of the year be extended at all levels. 
McConnell, R-Ky., tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that the question 
on tax cuts is how long they might be extended. On the issue of aid 
to jobless Americans, McConnell says he
believes that unemployment compensation will be extended again.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is calling the founder 
of the online site WikiLeaks a "high-tech terrorist" for releasing 
classified material from the U.S. government.  McConnell says 
that the online release of secret diplomat exchanges has done 
"enormous damage" to the country and to its relationship with its allies. 
McConnell tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that he hopes WikiLeaks 
founder Julian Assange will be prosecuted for the disclosures. 
And he says that if it's found that Assange hasn't violated the law, 
then the law should be changed. Of Assange, McConnell says, 
"I think the man is a high-tech terrorist.”

A veteran GOP senator credits President Barack Obama with 
reaching out more to Republicans since last month's election, 
but he also says there are some in the GOP who don't want to 
go along with anything the White House wants. Sen. Richard 
Lugar of Indiana says he believes that Obama's efforts have 
been appreciated by the GOP leadership. And Lugar says it
may turn out the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell 
of Kentucky and Obama may see "more eye to eye" than others 
about how the lame-duck session of Congress should end up. 
Lugar tells CNN's "State of the Union" that McConnell seems 
to be dealing with a faction in their own party that doesn't want 
to go along with anything Obama wants - and that the GOP 
must never become "the party of no."
African American filmmakers, while popular in many ways, 
still face major obstacles in financing and distribution. 
Donnell Alexander produced a short film about a pitcher 
who threw a no-hitter while tripping on acid. It went viral 
and won tons of awards at film festivals. He's been trying 
to peddle a feature film script in Hollywood, but he's 
been told, over and over, that it's a long shot because it's 
a serious film - and his protagonist is black. So he went 
to more experienced and successful 
African-American filmmakers to try to figure out why 
black films from Hollywood are mostly comedies. 
Find out more by going to Weekend Edition Sunday 
on the NPR website.

“Goodbye Ol’ Paint”, the classic Cowboy song, as composed 
and performed by an African American Cowboy, along on a 
cattle drive because he was “a good cowhand and a great singer.” 
The social and interpersonal aspect of life on a cow drive were 
often more important than how well you handled 
a horse or your skills with the cows or a gun.
One in four cowboys on cow drives were African Americans. 

Source top photo: Black cowboy and horse [between 1890 and 1920?] 
Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library. [Call Number: X-21563].

Source bottom Bunch of genuine old time cowboys and bronco busters at Denver, Colorado. Solomon D. Butcher. 1905. 
Nebraska State Historical Society. [Digital ID: nbhips 12615]

Brittania in mourning

This would be a good time for British Prime Minister David Cameron to go ahead with his much-vaunted plans to compile a National Happiness Index. England, that incurably gloomy nation, is secretly very happy indeed. The combination of looming financial austerity, unseasonably harsh winter weather and feeling cheated out of the 2018 World Cup is just perfect. There's nothing the English enjoy more than feeling profoundly sorry for themselves.

Go to Weekend Edition Sunday for more on this and other stories...

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

China is attacking the US and US industry in a very real way. The cyber attacks on Goggle and on other international countries were conducted from China and had the approval of the highest level of the Chinese government. Government correspondence concerning top secrete investigations confirm that while the attack may have been done by “private citizens” strings were pulled at the top.

In China as much as one billion people have been lifted from dire poverty to survival and even on the steps to economic independence. That change will impact not only China but also its impact on the world economy and the US. Corporations are banking on large new markets, which will come true. Low priced products now enjoyed gladly by countries whose own production has been weakened by moving the work force to China, will find themselves paying more for products and having less income to do so. The reasons are simple….the product will be needed for domestic consumption in China.

There is a further red flag for companies investing in China. The country remains Communist with the right to confiscate, nationalize and control any industry operating in their country. While most Americans never think about this or realize it, the US is still recovering from the billions lost when Cuba’s nationalization of all US interests, private and corporate, fifty years ago. Can you imagine what impact a nationalization of US interests in China would have on the US economy?

Ireland has accepted a 113 billion dollar bail out from other members of the International Monetary Fund, in the form of low interests long-term loans. The  “crisis” has spread from Greece and Spain to Ireland and much of Eastern Europe. Ireland is not a part of the Euro, preferring to remain in control of their monetary policy, which should not be confused with economic policy.

According to Islamic scholars in Europe and the US, Americans will lose the world wide war on terrorism, or at least the part that is Muslim extremist driven, if we do not look at the movement as a Greek Mythological Beast with multiple heads, not just leadership and cells, but roots and agendas. Islam sees itself as the world wide and true religion. Just as with Christianity, there are varying degrees of evangelism and belief in this fate, but the overall goal of it being the truth faith and the one the people of the world can and will accept. As with all churches and movements, there may be a small percentage who are strongly evangelical, and a very tiny percentage who take up arms and are willing to die for their cause, but even the smallest portion counts their very real numbers in the tens of millions, perhaps even higher. And with high unemployment, economic disparity and an increasingly strong capitalistic goods centered culture world wide, the amount of anger and zealous need to fight back is growing, with little and government can do about it. The cultural ethic unrest in the Muslim world and in Africa has spread to Europe and will to the US in an attempt to destabilize the Judeo-Christian controlled economies or cultures of both continents. The battle internally between the peace written in the Koran and those who interpret differently will be brought to our shores, in the form of hatred, mistrust and the attempt to put a strain on the peaceful and free practice of religion. And Americans need to know that there are real political factors, not just from Islamic extremist but from moneyed governments, corporations, and grass roots ethic groups, can spread like a cancer into European and American cultures. So any war on terror, of the Muslim type, will not be won until there is prosperity and without a weakening and decline in the fundamentalist aspects of both the Muslim and Christian extremist.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

“I am Wikileaks” is a worldwide Twitter and Internet movement, mirroring “I am Spartacus.” Rebels all providing information and links to where Wikileaks can be found, forming a strong private movement of individuals acting unofficially on Wikileaks behalf. An attorney for the founder of Wikileaks says that if anything happens to the founder or his web site they will release as what they consider an Internet “thermonuclear device”. His native Sweden has a “red case”, making the founder a wanted man in the European union and a worldwide requested arrested target, PAYPAL has cancelled its contacts with Wikileaks. Amazon kicked the site off its servers, which were used to fund the .com address, no now a primary international address and alternative suffixes such as .info are used if you with to find Wikileaks. PAYPAL’s terms of service bans encouraging people to do illegal activities, which in effect those who leak to Wikileaks, are doing.

The primary issues are how free is information, how open and how essential in a post-printing press world? Can it be controlled? What is vital to a national interests and what should be open knowledge? What damage can be acceptable? What censorship is evil and what may be essential? How do you protect information, copyrights, patents and identities in the wired world? What is ethical and/or moral?

Who is the president? The Ivory Coast has two presidents, both forming governments and claiming to be the legitimate head of state, and potentially forcing a potential civil war. Despite an apparent victory by the opposition, which included support from rebels and former rebels, minorities and the international community. The incumbent, who is credited with establish peace and setting up the system that led to what was called a fair elections, is claiming a victory using a second set of election results. The incumbent is commander in chief of the armed forces. Ivory Coast is dived between north and south. Their government is not like ours. They have a strong president but they also have a prime minister selected by their parliament, and usually fully supportive of whomever wins the presidential election. In this cast the parliament supports the incumbent, who international observers say lost the election on November 28th.

Polls have opened in Egypt in the second round of election, which in round one cost the opposition almost all of their seats, a far more sweeping change than in the US.

US influence in declining rapidly as debts, not just here but around the world, leading to the decline of the American empire and potential rise of an age of Western Asia ascendant. A Chinese banker may be more of a threat to the Us then their military, but they will never be the global power with global responsibilities the US, and before us England, served to advance the industrial and trade ages. They know better, from their own long history and from the study of other “empires.” Also it is too extensive for any nation to police the world, nation build, launch world level wars and to dominate any single area of the world’s complex political and financial ecosystem. These are the predictions of major international policy think tanks, including economist, military scholars, historians and statisticians.

Unemployment is up going into the Holidays, indicating that the growth expected for November is not solid. Economist are generally positive, feeling that there is an error or under the surface explanation for the rise to over 9.8% national unemployment. The holiday season so far has been a good one for retail, restaurants, bars and travel, which tells economist that people are positive about stability if not growth. Local governments slashed 14,000 jobs, construction dropped over 5,000 jobs and industrial jobs dropped just under 5,000 in November. These are only three sectors of the loss trend. Government cuts are expected to hit large numbers in 2011 as states, counties and municipalities deal with the new reality of low property values, declined sales figures, an exodus of jobs and other factors in areas typically used to finance government. The prospects for 2011 are note positive, with most economist saying the beginning of any real recovery until at least 2012, possibly delayed by election year caution and cynicism by business decision makers until 2013.

Sales on Cyber Monday surpassed one billion dollars, the highest yet. Auto sales are up. And The Wall Street Journal Report says we have 39,000 new jobs, optimistic and not really reflecting the figures above. Her experts said that while it is "likely" there is  recovery happening, "it is still quite weak." 

The Eupean crisis worries financials experts, both in Europe in terms of the long term fiscal outlook in the US. CNBC polls show that those under 25 face 25% unemployment, in Spain 40% and in the Arab world over 70%. The angst in this may impact any chance of a positive view of the future, and has been known to cause revolutions and major social movements in the past.

Again, the US appears to be on the decline, although we are slow to admit it. We are lacking the commitment as a nation to help bail out the world, and as a result will continue to see our own economy lag. A lack of further stimulus and the voice of the voters in this falls election has left us unable to shore up our own economy in the way that nations are expected to do. Thus a longer recovery, not a return to the good old days of prosperity, "truth, justice and the American Way."