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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part III

Summer begins in 44 days. Of course for Las Vegas it has been early summer all week...and we are in
no hurry for the 110 degree heat our summers bring. Today, high of 80 but very windy (gusts to 55
miles an hour).
Happy Mother's Day. Today I remember my mother, Mary Lynch. The little lady my friends grew to knew
as always wanting to make everyone happy. She is survived only by myself and her older sister Ann,
who tuned 90 in December. Happy Mother's Day.

And to my wife Laura, who is with the Las Vegas Grandkids, eating whatever they manage to make as
"breakfast." Happy Mother's Day to my partner and the love of my life.


If you want to be satisfied with life, the Gallop Well Being Index, which interviewed more than
one million Americans, puts Boulder Colordo as the happiest city in America, with the best well being,
with Hawaii the  happiest state, followed by Wyoming and North Dakota. Obesity is only 13% in
Boulder, where outdoor activities, the arts, a realitve high standard of living and a younger mean
population than many other cities surveyed. Sleep, exercise, regular hours, finding things you enjoy
in what you are going, family, religious faith and strengthened relationships with other people help to
raise the standard of well being for any American.

HunTighton, West Virginia is dead last in the well being index. Coal mining busted, factories closed,
the population aging, they drink and smoke more per capita than other cities surveyed and the population
is ageing. Poverty in the surrounding areas and the flight of young adults are adding stress to Huntington.

Nevada legislative panels made short work of approving a Nevada redistricting plan backed by
Democrats, a move quickly denounced by Republicans who called the plan illegal. Both
the Senate and Assembly committees on Legislative Operations and Elections voted yesterday
to approve bills that detail new voting districts developed by Democratic strategists.

A sweeping campaign reform bill has been amended by a sate senate committee to prohibit contributions
from foreign nationals. It's an embarrassing issue for state lawmakers this session after dozens received
contributions from a foreign-based company that wanted to position itself for legalized Internet poker
in the state. The amendment was adopted yesterday.

Two dresses worn by Princess Diana have sold for a record $276,000 at an auction in Beverly Hills.
Darren Julien, president and CEO of Julien's Auctions, said yesterday that a black crepe evening gown
Diana wore during a state visit in 1992 fetched the higher price of $144,000. A light blue strapless
gown with accompanying stole sold for $132,000 and was worn on three occasions.

The Venice Film Festival says it will honor Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio with a Golden Lion for
Lifetime Achievement at the next edition of the festival running Aug. 31-Sept. 10. The festival called the 71-year-old Bellocchio "one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of recent decades."
Bellocchio's first film "Fists in the Pocket" in 1965 established him as one of the leading figures of
Italian cinema. The Recent winners of the award have included Hong Kong actionfestival said in a statement Sunday that the worldwide success of 2009's "Vincere" confirmed Bellocchio's standing as one of three
major Italian directors active today, alongside Bernardo Bertolucci and Ermanno Olmi. filmmaker
John Woo and John Lasseter  and his Pixar creators of "Toy Story," "Nemo" and other animated films.

A tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks will open the 27th annual PBS National
Memorial Day Concert on the Capitol lawn in Washington. Organizers said in a statement that
the segment would remember "those who lost their lives that day, and their loved ones, and
commemorating the heroism of the firemen and policemen who first responded." The event will
also continue the tradition of honoring soldiers and their families. "CSI: New York" star Gary Sinise
and "Criminal Minds" star Joe Mantegna (mahn-TAYN'-yuh) will host the event, which will also
feature performances and appearances by "American Idol" finalist Pia Toscano, eighth season
"Idol" champion Kris Allen, "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior" star Forest Whitaker and gospel singer
Yolanda Adams. PBS will broadcast the concert live May 29.

Today is the anniversary of the launch of "New Coke", the highest profile failure in marketing history,
surpassing the Edsel (a car designed on what Americans said they wanted but did not buy).


Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

iPad II causes a riot at a Chinese Apple Store. A Chinese man says he saw a fight between an
Apple store employee and a customer amid a frenzy to buy the newly launched iPad 2. Thirty-year-old
Wang Ming says Saturday's scuffle at the Apple store in Beijing's Sanlitun district was between a
"foreign" Apple staffer and a Chinese customer. Wang says he heard that the customer had cut into a
line and was a scalper.Unconfirmed Chinese news reports said three or four customers were injured.
Wang says he was passing by when a bottle hit his head, causing a gash. Photos taken in the aftermath
of the scuffle showed Wang and another man with a wound on his back lying on the ground outside
the shop and the store's glass front door shattered. Apple Inc. staff could not immediately be reached for comment.

Don Rickels turns 80 today. For those who do not know who he is, his favorite term is "knucklehead", his forte is
insulting everyone equally, and his career includes stand-up, television, motion pictures and being a
part of the Rat Pack era. My favorite Rickels movie is "Kelly's Hero's" with Clint Eastwood, but many
may know him from "Casino." On that set he would not let the cast concentrate, including a rather
high profile method actor, constantly ribbing his fellow actors and director Martin Scorsese, and
keeping everyone on the set cracking up!

Several factors combined this week to stem the rapid rise in gasoline prices and analysts say they should
gradually start going the other way.By summer, they could be down as much as 50 cents a gallon, but
experts warn that the drops won't happen quickly.Oil, which is used to make gasoline, has tumbled
15 percent in price. Investors who were worried about rising oil supplies and falling demand in the
United States helped drive down the price as did a stronger dollar. It could provide some relief to
drivers from suffocating gas prices and it might help lift consumer spending, which powers about
70 percent of the economy. A 50-cent drop in prices would save U.S. drivers about $189
million a day. Typically, gas prices peak each spring, then fall into a summertime swoon that
can last several weeks.

Bill Gross of PIMCO says that optimistic reports of job growth are not enough to slow unemployment.
The US highest unemployment of the G-8 countries. The US debt is 14.3 trillion dollars. Gross is not
terribly optimistic a politically gridlocked congress will act to raise the debt ceiling, a move that is needed
or we could face a depression, possibly on a world wide basis. He says it will be raised a little as a
last minute political compromise in August. Higher deficits do slow down an economy, and could
put the US out of the lead position in the world, which may not be a bad thing. So far reinvestment's have
been primarily in growth markets overseas, but the sea is shifting and Gross expects investment in the
US to pick up. Layoffs and cut backs in the public sector, government, could mitigate or even negate
growth this year.

Brazil is on its way to becoming the world's second largest producer of oil and natural gas,
behind Saudi Arabia.Off shore and Amazon reserves could eventually make Brazil the largest producer in the world. The cost of producing a barrel is only $18 a barrell, which sell for six times that amount on the
market.

The national security adviser for the White House says the material seized from Osma bin Laden's
compound in Pakistan amounts to the largest cache of intelligence ever gathered from any single
terrorist.During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," national security adviser Tom Donilon
said the CIA estimated the intelligence haul to be the size of a small college library. Donilon says
that the United States cannot consider al-Qaida to be strategically defeated. However, he says that
the nation has reached an important milestone in the struggle to take down the terrorist organization.
The national security adviser says that al-Qaida deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri is not anywhere near
the leader that bin Laden was, but that the threat will continue.

Pakistan's foreign ministry says government officials are still holding the wives and children of
Osama bin Laden for questioning and that so far, no country has sought their extradition. Pakistan
gained custody of bin Laden's three wives and eight children on Monday after a covert U.S.
operation killed the al-Qaida chief at his hideout in the northwestern city of Abbottabad. Among them
was bin Laden's Yemeni-born wife, Amal Ahmed Abdullfattah. She has told Pakistani investigators
that she moved to the home in 2006 and never left the compound. On Sunday, a Pakistan foreign
ministry spokeswoman, Tahmina Janjua, said that neither Yemen or any other country had asked for
the extradition of bin Laden's relatives.

Police in the Philippines say they have captured a militant with an al-Qaida-linked movement in an
operation at a Manila shopping center. They say they police intelligence unit arrested Asdatul Sahirun
on Sunday at a shopping mall in the capital's Malate tourist district. Sahirun is suspected member of the Philippines' Abu Sayyaf extremist movement. Authorities have been on alert for possible attacks following
Osama bin Laden's killing in Pakistan. Sahirun has been implicated in nine murder cases in southern
Basilan province, where Abu Sayyaf operates. Abu Sayyaf is notorious for bombings, kidnappings and
beheadings. It has been blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization. U.S.-backed offensives

Attacks against Christians continue as Egypt's military rulers reacted swiftly to attempts to burn down
a pair of churches in a Cairo slum during sectarian riots that killed 10 people by referring 190 people to
military trial. Mobs of ultraconservative Muslims from the Salafi religious trend converged on a church
in the Cairo slum of Imbaba late Saturday following rumors of an interfaith romance. Christians
barricaded themselves inside and around the church and the demonstrations turned violent.
Witnesses said people on rooftops fired into the crowd. The military said the mass arrests were to
deter people from threatening the nation's security. Military trials are notorious for their speed.
At least six of the dead were Muslims.

Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating an open-air Mass for 300,000 faithful in Venice, the spiritual
highlight of his two-day pastoral visit. Benedict greeted worshippers from his popemobile as he arrived
for Sunday Mass, stopping briefly to kiss a swaddled infant wearing pink socks who was passed to
him from the crowd. It is the first papal visit to the city since John Paul II plied the canals in a gondola
26 years ago. The Mass was being celebrated in an expansive park. Organizers erected an enormous
domed stage for the occasion replicating St. Mark's Basilica, with images of its golden mosaics
printed on cloth.








Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

Happy Mothers Day!

Author Melanie Notkin has written a book, "Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool
Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids". Notkin considers
herself a proud PANK (Professional Aunt, No Kids). She says there is a growing number of
mothers by default or loving significant substitute parents in America, with aunts taking some
of the work (and love)load off busy working mothers. There is an interview available on
Weekend Edition Sunday at NPR.org.

Rising gasoline prices mean people are using less gas than they did a year ago. In fact gasoline
consumption has been on a downward trend since 2007.Previous price spikes, shortages and
rising cost of vehicles contributed to the trend, but so have a penchant for Japanese and Asian
vehicles. That trend has shifted back to American cars, in part due to shortages in post-disaster
Japan and on Japan's key ports. The recession, which began to surface in 2007 and hit its peak
in early 2009, led to tightened purse strings, meaning less travel and the perception that the
"normal" rate for gas was higher than it was. Phil Flynn, an energy analyst with PFGBEST,
believes the economic impact of high gas prices and the tipping point at which consumers
begin to significantly change their behavior.Not only filling up at the pump, but the increased
cost of food and other items when American's are not certain about their own incomes and
economic futures.

Consumers are buying smaller cars in response to fast-rising gas prices. We've been here before,
most recently when gas prices spiked in 2008. What's different this time around is that American
automakers GM and Ford are finding success, as consumers switch from SUVs and trucks
to economy cars.

There's little sign of an end to the conflict in Libya nearly two months after western fighter jets
began bombing Colonel Moammar Ghadafi's forces in support of UN resolution to protect civilians.
The disorganized anti-Ghadafi rebels have been unable to break out of their eastern stronghold
of Benghazi despite the air support. With signs of a potentially long military stalemate, some in
the west are calling for a renewed focus on isolating the Libyan dictator financially and politically.
But NATO commanders leading the war effort caution patience and say there's been more progress
on the ground than easily meets the eye. Training is going well, and supplies are starting to flow.
Rebels have gained political ground with international capitols, and remain positive in attitude
and their will to win. Meanwhile there are complaints that NATO has gone beyond its mission
and appears to be on a deliberate mission of taking out Ghadafi.

The covert American operation that assassinated Osama Bin Laden has sparked widespread public
anger in Pakistan. The biggest question: how could the U.S. have entered Pakistani territory and
taken out the world's most wanted man without the knowledge or permission of Pakistan's military?
While it is a moment of great pride for the US, and most everyone outside the militant world
understands why we did so, there reality is that the United States did violate international law
in taking direct military action and conducting what amounted to a military assassination on
foreign soil without the knowledge and permission of that country.

Saudi officials are calling on men to register to vote in a rare, nationwide election this fall to fill
seats on municipal councils. But the polls, which are part of the Saudi king's attempts to give citizens more say in how the country is run, are drawing little interest. Critics say the councils have little real power.