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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Home Theatre

Given a choice, I'd rather watch a movie at home!

OK.This baby costs $6 million but it’s the ultimate home theater experience. If you needed a reminder for how good some we’re doing, here’s one of the sweetest home entertainment. Check out the photos....

"Show me the Constitutional Authority," House Rules Change.

When Republicans take over next week, they will do something that apparently has never been done before in the 221-year history of the House of Representatives, they will read the Constitution aloud. The Washington Post reports that the entire exercise could take only 30 minutes, but is likely to be stretched out into a much longer political grandstanding exercise.

Optimist feel that this will bring in an age of constitutional lawmaking. Pessimist, including many in the Tea Party movement that inspired the move, say that this is just non-substantive politics as usual to put up a new facade. There is a feeling that Congress is playing a Public Relations game instead of making the changes promised in campaign speeches.

The rules of the house will be changed, under the new Republican majority, t0 require that every new bill contain a statement by the legislator who wrote it citing the constitutional authority to enact the proposed law. The problem is that many pressing needs filled by the Federal Government, including emergency legislation, may not have a direct Constitutional authority but be needed none-the-less.

The move may be more than a feel good for Tea Party and conservatives, it could lay the groundwork to attack health care reform, the Department of Education, tax law and other functions of the Federal Government which Libertarians and other groups see as having no place in a government set up by the founding fathers to only take on what the individual states cannot and only for the national security and safety.

Interpretations of the Constitution can vary widely. Where a Democratic lawmaker could see constitutional grounds for a bill, say by citing an oft-referenced clause in Article 1 giving Congress the power to regulate commerce, a Republican lawmaker could argue the opposite. The ultimate deciders will be the lawmakers themselves, who can vote down any measure they believe to be unconstitutional.

The House Historian's Office found no record of the Constitution ever having been read aloud on the House floor.

For the complete report from The Washington Post, click here.

Oprah, Olympics, Comcast, MGM and TV

Small screen, big headaches. The end of a year always brings with it lots of stories looking back and looking ahead. After all, with little happening this week, papers and blogs (including this one) have to be filled with something. Variety looks at the big issues facing the TV business next year, including how a Simon Cowell-less "American Idol" will perform and what Comcast will have in store for NBC Universal. Personally, I think the game changers in 2011 will be the changing ways people get their content and the havoc that will wreak on traditional economic models.
New owners mean a new building. MGM, which is looking to be born again in 2011 with its new management, is moving its corporate headquarters from Century City to Beverly Hills. According to the Beverly Hills Courier, MGM is going to move into the office space that was originally built for William Morris Endeavor, which had been trying to get out of relocating to the building. 
Jumping the gun. As if the Broadway production of "Spider-Man" didn't have enough problems, now two prominent theater critics, Bloomberg's Jeremy Gerard and Linda Winer of Newsday, broke the unwritten rule against reviewing shows before their official premiere. The show blasted the move, and some other media watchers also took aim at the two. More on the brouhaha from the Hollywood Reporter and some vitriol from Dave Poland's Hot Blog.
Carrying the torch or snuffing the flame? One of the first decisions cable giant Comcast Corp. will have to make when it takes control of NBC Universal is whether it will bid on the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games. NBC has been home to all things Olympic for more than a decade but at a high cost. The 2010 Games lost more than $200 million, and although they are ratings gold, the long-term value to a broadcast network is debatable. The New York Times looks at the pros and cons for Comcast when it comes to the Olympics. 
It's Oprah's world, we just live in it. We promised you a story on OWN, the new cable network from Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications launching New Year's Day, every day this week, and we're two days away from completing our mission. This story on OWN comes from Gary Levin atUSA Today. Winfrey tells Levin that making the decision to create a cable network has not been worry free. "I would literally wake up in the middle of the night clutching my chest, thinking, 'What have I done? What have I taken on?' " she said. Meanwhile, in some good news for OWN, the channel cut a distribution deal with New York-based cable operator Cablevision Systems, which has subscribers in the Bronx and Brooklyn as well as the hoity-toity Hamptons. More on that deal from the Los Angeles Times

Higher Ed on Chopping Block? Not the Best Economic Move.

NEVADA RANKS 46th in funding per citizen at the higher education level, with programs already cut at the universities, faculty at all levels and staff forced to take unpaid monthly furloughs. A brain drain is rapidly overtaking the state and limiting its future growth, according to both independent out of state auditors and at least one major developer. Meanwhile K-12 is suffering from major reductions in property tax income and state support. All education K-Bachelors Degree, represents over 53% of the state's budget, a budget the new governor has sworn to slash. What are the long and short term impacts? Can Nevada compete without a strong education base?
Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval is finding himself increasingly isolated in his position against any new taxes. A large number of politicians and businesspeople acknowledge that tax increases will be necessary to maintain vital state services, including education.

Developer Rich Worthington thought he had two big fish on the line, the kinds of companies whose arrival in Las Vegas would have made headlines, a tidy profit for his firm and created hundreds of jobs.

IKEA, which sells home furniture and accessories, wanted to open one of its massive showrooms here; Internet service provider EarthLink was considering moving a call center from California to Las Vegas.
The Molasky Group of Cos., where Worthington is president, wined and dined representatives of the two companies and took them on tours of the valley. “They were very interested in the tax structure, in the low operating costs,” Worthington said.

But both companies decided against coming here and both did so for the same reason — a lack of college graduates.

The above is from a story in the Las Vegas Sun that illustrates where instead of cutting education, Nevada should raise taxes (if necessary) to support and grow education, if there is any chance of attracting quality employers to the state. The story goes on to explain how lines are now drawn in the sand going into the new legislature with Governor Elect Sandovol taking a "no new taxes" and cut state infrastructure to the bone approach and others set to protect their own interests, constituents and beliefs. Worthington is a Sandovol supporter who is working hard to get the governor to see the importance of higher education for the near and long term economic health of the state.

Many business leaders concede that cutting the state budget alone won’t bridge the gap between revenue and expenses

For the complete story and more on the upcoming legislative budget challenges, as presented in the Las Vegas Sun, click here.

Univision tops some prime time English Speaking rivals

Univision Communications is becoming a potent rival to English-language television networks, which have long dominated prime-time viewership.
The Spanish-language television broadcaster said Tuesday that its program “Soy Tu Dueña” was its most watched telenovela ever, finishing its six-month run with a final episode that drew more than 7.3 million viewers Monday night. 
Since its launch in June, “Soy Tu Dueña,” which Univision translates as “woman of steel,” has pulled in an average of 5.4 million viewers per episode, oftengenerating bigger audiences than programs aired by such formidable English-language TV networks as Fox and NBC. The Univision telenovela, or soap opera, revolves around the travails of a scorned woman, once left at the altar, who vows never to love again until she falls for a man she accidentally shot. A literal translation of the show’s title is “I am your owner.”

A new world war

Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world, yet it is located off the eastern, not mid-East western portion of Asia, half a world away from Iraq and Afghanistan. And it has the fastest growing anti-American pro-al Qaeda popular support in the world.

Sitting north of Australia, the area is key to the economies of Australia and much of eastern Asia.

One in four Indonesian citizens surveyed by the Pew Trust, one in four, just over 25%, said they feel that they believe Osama bin Laden will "do the right thing regarding world affairs." Just over 23% of Indonesians said they had favorable views or support for al Qaeda. 15%, or between one in ten and one in five, say that terrorism that takes human life is "often" to "Sometimes" justified (as opposed to "rarely" or "never").

There has been quiet "wars" against al Qaeda, Islamic extremist and communist rebels for decades, with varying degrees of US involvement (the same is true in the pro-US Philippines).

The survey also showed strong, but in most cases lower levels of support for al Qaeda, bin Laden and the use of terrorism in Egypt and Jordan, both US allies in the "middle-east" and northern Africa. 34% of Jordanians, more than on in three, and one in five Egyptians (20%) feel bin Laden will do the right thing. 20% (1 in 5) of Jordanians and Egyptians show support of suicide bombing as "sometimes" to "often" necessary.

While the Pew International Trust survey focused on those three countries, similar surveys have found a  minority but growing support for terrorism and the war on "American Imperialism."

In contrast when asked about support for American and the United States respondents in all three countries, with the strongest pro-America feelings being in Indonesia, has grown in the two years that Barrack Obama has been the president of the United States. His election represented, to them, a change in the US toward a world view and and understanding of who they are and their best interests.

Sources: Pew Trust, Wall Street Journal, BBC