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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part VII

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls real estate tycoon Donald Trump a friend and says "anybody can run for president if you're 35 and an American citizen." Bloomberg tells "Fox News Sunday" that Trump is "a New York icon." But the mayor is shying away from talking up Trump's flirtation with the presidency. Bloomberg, an independent, also says President Barack Obama "was born here" and the mayor thinks Republicans "are making a terrible mistake in making this is a big issue." Trump, who's deciding whether to run in 2012, and other potential contenders have raised questions about whether Obama was born in the United States. Bloomberg says it's time for the Republican Party to address issues that "the public cares about."

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Budget Committee says if members of President Barack Obama's deficit panel fail to come to grips soon with the deficit problem, "we won't be relevant to this discussion." But North Dakota's Kent Conrad declined in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" to say specifically where the six
Democrats and Republicans stand in discussions on various debt-reduction strategies. Appearing on the same show Sunday, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Coburn said, "The country can't afford for us not to have an agreement." Neither Conrad nor Coburn would get into specifics about the panel's discussions. Coburn did repeat his general opposition to tax increases. Conrad said he believes the American people would support tax reform as one way toward deficit reduction.

Scientists say it is taking too long to dole out millions of dollars in BP funds for badly needed Gulf oil spill research, and it could be too late to assess the crude's impact by the time studies begin. The spring nesting and spawning season is a crucial time to collect samples. Yet no money has been made available for this
year, and it could take months to determine which projects will be funded. BP PLC had pledged $50 million a year over 10 years to study the spill's impact. Michael Carron, a Mississippi marine scientist selected to head the BP-funded post-spill research project, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, acknowledged not being able to study the spring spawning in full bloom would be a problem.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part VI

So you may be wondering where these Sunday wanderings come from. Some are from notes taken
off news media coverage through the course of the week, some from topics discussed in my classrooms,
some from my own training and expertise, some from my own bias and views, and mostly from news
and feature coverage on Sunday mornings on all three networks, National Public Radio, the BBC, the
Las Vegas Review Journal and the New York Times, with leftovers from the week's Wall Street Journal.
I collect it and share it on Sunday mornings. No copyright infringement, no source issue are intended.

This blog was created for my students and educational value, not in terms of formal coursework or
with any official or implied tie in's with any school I may teach for, but to supplement the exploration
of students as they develop communication, social science, educational theory and government acumen.

This blog is not commercial in any way, and not intended to be journalism or a news source of its own.
It should, instead, launch a exploration and willingness to agree to disagree, to learn and to grow as
individualsw and as citizens.

I do it to encourage students, readers and anyone who happens upon my blog, to think for themselves,
to seek out sources, to be open to viewpoints that are not their own, to stay on top of news and current
events and to become the informed thoughtful citizens that are needed for our government, our society
and our social system to continue.

I urge you to surf the blog, seek out the sources and links located in the right hand column, to go
beyond this blog and to keep and open and informed mind.

And as Paul Harvey use to say.."now for the rest of the story...."

The Obama family attended Easter services at a Washington church founded by freed slaves.
Members of the Shiloh Baptist Church broke into applause as the first family walked to a
second-row pew. Founded in 1863, Shiloh Baptist is one of the oldest African-American congregations
in the city. It's located about two miles north of the White House.

It's one of the most coveted invitations of the season, but at least one recipient is sending regrets.
Bahrain's crown prince has declined the invitation to attend Prince William and Kate Middleton's
wedding, saying he doesn't not want the Gulf nation's unrest to tarnish the celebration. Bahrain's
Sunni monarchy has waged a wide-ranging crackdown against Shiite protesters calling for more

Iran's state TV says Tehran and Baghdad have signed agreements that could lead to the forced
repatriation of an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq. The report says the return of criminals
and convicts to their country of origin is part of the agreements, signed by Iranian Justice Minister
Morteza Bakhtiari and his visiting Iraqi counterpart Hasan al-Shammari this morning. It also says
there are 302 Iranians in Iraqi prisons and 184 Iraqi nationals in Iranian prisons.The agreement
could be used to repatriate members of the People's Mujahedeen Organization who live in exile
in Iraq. Iran considers the group a terrorist threat, and has urged their expulsion from Iraq. In April,
an Iraqi army raid on the group's camp left 34 of its members dead.

A Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee sees a Libyan stalemate and wants NATO to
bomb Moammar Gadhafi's inner circle and military headquarters. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham
says those closest to Gadhafi "need to wake up every day wondering, 'Will this my last?"' Graham tells
CNN's "State of the Union" that the quickest way to end the stalemate is "to cut the head of the snake
off." The U.N. Security Council authorized military action to protect Libyan civilians and to impose
a no-fly zone. But Graham tells CNN's "State of the Union" that "it's going to be hard" for the U.S.
to achieve its national security interests if Gadhafi remains. Two missiles apparently fired by NATO
warplanes struck near Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli early Saturday.

Three members of the Senate Armed Services Committee are calling for immediate military aid for
the rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi's forces, stepped up NATO airstrikes and more direct U.S.
involvement. Sens. Joe Lieberman, Lindsay Graham and John McCain made the talk show rounds
this morning. They say they interpret the U.N. Security Council resolution as also allowing moves
necessary to drive Gadhafi from power.

A resident of Misrata says rebel fighters have driven Moammar Gadhafi's forces to the edge of the
besieged city in western Libya, but that government forces continue to attack with mortars, rockets
and artillery. The resident says rebel fighters on Sunday cleared the rest of Tripoli Street, a
thoroughfare previously controlled by Gadhafi loyalists. He says opposition forces took control of
the main hospital in the area.The Misrata resident who asked to be identified only by his given name,
Abdel Salam, for fear of retribution, said two people were killed and that government troops fired
70 rockets at Misrata. Late last night, a Libyan government official claimed that troops had halted
operations in Misrata as part of an attempt by tribal chiefs to negotiate with the rebels. Yet the shelling
and fighting continued.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part V

One unnamed person is having a very happy Easter! A gambler is $10.6 million richer after hitting a
progressive slot jackpot at a Las Vegas casino.  The Las Vegas Sun reports the Megabucks jackpot was
hit Friday night at the Aria. MGM Resorts International confirmed the win but said the gambler has asked to remain anonymous.

The state association representing prison guards in Nevada is questioning whether a proposal to shut
down the Nevada State Prison would really save millions of dollars. Nevada Corrections Association
head Gene Columbus is asking for an audit of the proposal. He says the closure would result in the
transfer and  possible layoff of over 100 department employees and the reassignment of more
than 600 inmates.

Government troops in Syria opened fired on tens of thousands of protesters, with at least
125 dead in the past three days. Syria is a primary opponent for Israel and an ally to Iran.
It is also a major player in regional politics and what there is of stability.

 A discussion recently started me thinking. Why are so many people reluctant to voice their opinions,
to disagree, to rock the vote, to even pay attention to the news and events that form the world they
live in? Why are there so many who simply go with the flow, happy in apathy and focused on their
own little micro world?

Why should you care about news and current events? Because they form the world you live in and
either directly or indirectly will impact your lives. Because knowledge is power and an understanding of
what is happening in the world around you will put you in a position to be the authority, the information
source, the informed individual in social, political or work situations. Because it helps in your personal
decision making, your planning and in your future and the future of your family.

A student argued that perhaps we are growing good corporate citizens instead of educated voters as the
founding fathers intended. If voters, citizens, do not pay attention to current events, to the issues and
do not take full advantage of educational opportunities available, will we be passing our government on
to the corporations and the elite by default? Are we giving up our freedoms/

 75% of the American People now disapprove of the Congress, with 7 out of 10 saying they believe
the country is headed in the wrong direction. A CBS poll came up with these results, with other polls
ranging from 65 to as high as 90% of Americans disapproving of the actions of their congress.

63% of those polled feel that the Ryan plan to turn Medicare into a private voucher program is the
wrong move to make. 60% opposed the Ryan plan as a rule, but only 37% say they approve of the
presidents existing plans. Obama overall job approval is up to 57%, but only 42% say they support his
efforts to deal with our economy.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part IV

With the Royal Wedding on Friday, we can ponder what will be if the prince became the King of England. Well, for the first time an American will be on the throne...well one sixteenth American by blood anyway. What would old King George think?

Today is an Easter of mourning for Armenians in the US and around the world. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians are laying flowers at a monument to the victims of mass killings by Ottoman Turks, commemorating the 96th anniversary of the start of the slaughter. This year's anniversary has added poignancy because it coincides with Easter and the celebration of rebirth. Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. By mid-afternoon Sunday, flowers around the  memorial's eternal flame were piled seven feet (two meters) high. President Serge Sarkisian said in  a national address that Armenia now "strives for peace with the neighbors, including Turkey."
Ex-U.S. President Jimmy Carter and three other former leaders are to visit North Korea to discuss
the revival of nuclear disarmament talks. Carter arrived in Beijing on Sunday with a group of veteran
international statesmen known as the Elders, including former leaders of Finland, Ireland and Norway.
The group is to travel to North Korea on Tuesday as part of efforts to restart negotiations on ending
North Korea's nuclear program. It also plans to discuss North Korea's chronic food shortages.

Happy Easter from North Korea.  North Korea has again threatened to destroy the United States and
South Korea. The communist North issued its latest war rhetoric on the eve of its army's anniversary.
The official Korean Central News Agency says that People's Armed Forces Minster Kim Yong Chun
issued the warning today in a Pyongyang national meeting ahead of the army's founding anniversary.
KCNA cites Kim as saying the North's military knows no mercy and will "wipe out" the allies if they
ignite a war. The United States and South Korea launched annual joint drills in late February.
Seoul's Defense Ministry says some part of the training are still under way. North Korea has repeatedly
threatened war over the drills, which it views as an attack preparation.

A government official says talks are going on between Libyan tribal leaders and rebels in the city of
Misrata. Libya's deputy foreign minister says the goal is to convince rebels to disarm within 48 hours but
if negotiations fail, tribal chiefs may send armed supporters into the city of 300,000 to fight the rebels.
The city saw fierce clashes yesterday between opposition fighters and Moammar Gadhafi's forces.
However, the Misrata area is not known to have very large or dominant tribes, and rebels in Misrata
questioned how much support Gadhafi had among them. The Libyan official says tribal chiefs are
still trying to get in touch with rebels. Misrata, the only major rebel stronghold in Gadhafi-controlled
western Libya, has become the most dramatic battleground in the Libyan uprising.

Republican presidential hopefuls are in the midst of a fundraising frenzy as they seek to raise campaign cash
and assemble influential donor networks. With the 2012 campaign off to a slow start, the contenders are
under pressure to show they can raise money before the summer season begins. Lew Eisenberg, a
fundraiser for Mitt Romney, says that while money's not the only indication of a candidate's potential,
it's an important indication.For now, the candidates are skipping wall-to-wall public appearances. Instead,
they're rushing between private meetings and dialing phone lists to persuade donors to come aboard in
hopes of meeting early goals.
Doctors treating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords tell The Arizona Republic that the congresswoman can stand
on her own and walk a little, and is even working to improve her gait. Dr. Gerard Francisco says the
Arizona congresswoman is able to make limited use of her right arm and leg. Francisco - the chief
medical officer at Houston's TIRR Memorial Hermann where Giffords has been recovering - says that's
a common effect of a bullet wound on the left side of the brain. The Republic report Sunday contains
interviews with people close to her and gives the latest picture of her recovery 15 weeks after a gunman
opened fire in a Tucson parking lot, killing six people and wounding 13 others, including Giffords.The newspaper said doctor overseeing her rehabilitation places
her in the top 5 percent of patients recovering from her type of
brain injury.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part III

April 24, 1907, 104 years ago today, the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company copyrighted "Anchors Aweigh", first penned as a fight song for the Navy-Army football games. In 1920 the lyrics were changed and in 1937
it became an unofficial theme for the US Navy.

Easter services were disrupted in China after arrest for worshiping on public by a congregation that
was forced from their meeting place in a political and religious crackdown. The attempt at an Easter Sunday
outdoor service was broken up by police and arrests were made.

CBS Sunday Morning examined the growth of wired, Internet and phone religion, including church
services and ministry over the web. The story looked at the positive of outreach, but also at the negative
of not having touch, close in person support when it is needed most and asked about the spirituality
of in person community compared to virtual communities. One change is that at church more and more
congregation members are reaching for their cell phones to read or interpret the Bible.

Christians from around the world are celebrating Easter Sunday in Jerusalem, marking the day of Jesus'
resurrection in the holy city two millennia ago. This year is a rare and special year, as both major
branches of the church are celebrating Easter on the same Sunday. Orthodox Christians and
Roman Catholics held ceremonies at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus'
crucifixion and burial and of his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The different calendars of the churches coincide this year.

Clergymen in ornate robes held processions through the ancient building, where the ceremonies of each
church are carefully coordinated to avoid conflicts.

Protestants held their own Easter ceremonies outside the walled Old City at the Garden Tomb,
which some identify as the site of Jesus' burial. Preachers spoke in English and rock bands accompanied
worshippers in song.

Pope Benedict's Easter Sunday message includes a call for an end to fighting in Libya and for diplomacy
there. Benedict says politics in North Africa and the Middle East should be based on respect for all. He
also said those "who suffer as a result of the conflict be given access to humanitarian aid."
St. Peter's Square was packed for Easter Sunday services as Benedict celebrated before tens of
thousands of people. He has a big week this week too with the beatification of Pope
John Paul II.

Thousands of anti-government protesters remain camped out in the Yemeni capital's
Change Square despite the president's acceptance of an Arab proposal to leave office under certain conditions after 32 years in power. More than two months of protests pressing for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down have left him clinging to power. A regional bloc of Gulf nations has been seeking to broker an end to
the crisis, fearing the potential impact of more instability in the fragile country, which is home to an
al-Qaida offshoot. Saleh agreed Saturday to the proposal for him to hand power to his deputy within
30 days of a deal being signed in exchange for immunity from prosecution.Protests continued Sunday,
signaling the draft deal still falls short of demands.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

Happy Easter....He has risen!

I can say and write this, not only because it is my faith, but because of the freedoms and diversity that is
our great nation.

We live in a country founded (for Europe anyway) by Christians fleeing religious persecution in England
and elsewhere. The founding fathers built our democracy on Judeo-Christian (or old testimate and
new testiment teachings) values. Because of the persecution some felt in Europe, religious freedom was
built into the fabric of our country. So today, while still dominated by Christian culture, we have a strong and wealthy foundation in Judaic traditions, in eastern and western beliefs, in native American faiths and
even in the freedom to not believe in any faith or to make it your own. I am Roman Catholic, with
this being the highest of Holy Days for my faith.

At 3 AM Eastern Time the celebration begins this Friday in England, as most of the English speaking
world celebrates the Royal Wedding. The much hyped event is the sort of extravagance and pageantry
seen only one or twice in most lifetimes. Most major networks will cover the event, with BBC America
offering the official BBC "local"coverage.

Iraq's president told the US that US combat troops will be out of Iraq by year's end, however there
remains other needs for support and if individual parts of his government or military make arrangements
in the course of doing their jobs he would not rule our direct US involvement

On Thursday the government will release its initial estimate for Gross Domestic Product in the first
quarter of this year. GDP is one of the most widely watched measures of the economy. And in recent
weeks it seems like economists have been in a race to downgrade their expectations. Our GDP is growing
slowly, only one percent or slightly more. That does not indicate a return to normalcy or the type of
optimistic projections from fans of the stock market as our measure. Storms, food prices, slow job
creation, some improvement in consumer spending and at least some job creation will offset the expected
slow growth or low GDP numbers expected this week. The number gets revised over the months ahead,
so whatever the numbers released this week, one thing is sure, the number will be revised several times
over, as the aftermath of the recession reveals itself over time.

As cost for food and gas goes up the number of minimum wage jobs is growing, inflating "job growth"
figures. Many employers are seeking workers to fill summer season jobs at or near the federal minimum
wage of $7.25 an hour. The wage has not increased since the summer of 2009, and some labor
advocates insist that it's time for a raise. But employers say the economy is still far too weak for
government to impose a wage hike.

Republicans in this congress have blocked any attempt t increase minimum wage to stimulate our
economy, and  make up for increased gasoline and food cost increases. States are facing their own
shortages and rely on keeping minimum wage low to maintain small business, seasonal workers and
other needed jobs and services to make up for low state coffers.

Meanwhile in other countries wages are going up, to help their citizens pay for much greater increases
in food, housing and fuel costs than we are seeing in the US.

This is the time of year when college students mount their push for summer work. And the U.S. Labor
Department is trying to help them by asking employers to hire 100,000 workers between the ages of
16 and 24. Some of the companies that have signed on include UPS, Research in Motion and
Wells Fargo. Meanwhile unemployed workers, who are clamoring for jobs, many willing to take
summer work offered to high school and college students. Prior to the recession, many of those jobs
were left unfilled or filled by foreign workers (students mostly) imported to meet the shortage.

Simon Brooks, Head of Mission in Libya for the International Committee of the Red Cross, says humanitarian efforts in the besieged western Libya city of Misrata has been difficult if any. Active fighting has stifled
much of the efforts to get food and medical aid to the city, which is in serious shortage of both.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen has accepted a deal under which he will give up power in
30 days in exchange for immunity for himself, his family and aides. Opposition leaders have
tentatively agreed to the deal, but protests continue in the capital, Sa'naa.

In Libya, fighting continues in Western cities and towns despite claims by government forces
that they have pulled from the besieged city of Misrata. The use of U.S. Predator drones has
beefed up the NATO-led no-fly zone over Libya, but gains by anti-government rebels have
been minimal. The latest developments have done nothing to ease fears of a stalemate
with no obvious solution. While the government has claimed a cease fire and that tribal leaders
are in peace talks with the rebels, reports are of continued fighting and heavy bombardment
using government weaponry.

Qatar was the first Arab nation to join the allied effort to stop the bloodshed in Libya. Last month,
it sent a third of its fighter-jet fleet to the Souda air base on the Greek island of Crete. Along with
the French, the Qataris are helping enforce the NATO-led no-fly zone over Libya. It's a big
mission for a small country, especially as the war drags on. Qatar has the population of the state of
Connecticut, but is wealthy in military equipment and supplied, in part to assure the nation's place
and sovernty in a turbulent Middle East.

Pope Benedict XVI is preparing for  next week's beatification of Pope John Paul II, the first pope
since the Renaissance to not be born in Italy, the first from the Soviet Communist block, the first
from Poland and, though an old man, practically a "rock star" among the  young. He reached out to
other churches, including the Muslims, and befriended world religious and secular leaders.

Pope Benedict XVI used his Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection and promise of new birth
of Jesus Christ, and its significance to Christians and all of mankind in this 21st century. He encouraged a
peaceful dialogue and the end of bloodshed in Libya, peaceful co-existence for the people of the
Ivory Coast, and hope and prayers for the people of Japan.

The World Figure Skating Championships gets underway this week,  moved to Moscow from
Tokyo after last month's devastating earthquake in Japan. Altitude, temperature, language and
time zone changes have caused problems for the skaters, but they all appreciate the plight of Japan and
the need to change venues, delaying the championship by five weeks.

The longest game in baseball history was suspended at daylight on Eastern Morning thirty years ago.
Dan Barry's new book "Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game".
Barry takes a close-up look at the coaches, fans and players -- including future Hall of Famers
Cal Ripken Jr. and Wade Boggs -- who witnessed a 32-inning contest on April 18, 1981 between the minor league Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. The game was completed two months later, in the 33rd inning. (06:17)