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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

On this date July 10, 1040 Lady Godiva took her bareback ride through Coventry. She earned her people a relief on taxation and debtors prisons by agreeing on a bet to ride through town naked. A tailor named Tom is alleged to have gotten a peek at her privates...thus the term Peeping Tom. 

A strip of fabric shorn from the flag planted on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts is headed to auction in Los Angeles. Auctioneer Michael Orenstein says the seven-inch strip being sold today is from the most-viewed flag in American history. It's being sold on behalf of retired NASA engineer Tom Moser, who prepared the flag for what would later be the world's first lunar landing in 1969. The piece of fabric was cut off as part of those preparations. Moser rescued it from the trash and has kept it as a souvenir ever since. Orenstein says the piece could fetch $150,000 or more at auction.
 

The Second World war may come back to bite us. Hundreds of ships and tankers sunk by German U-boats remain at the bottom of the ocean and are deteriorating to the point of releasing what could be millions of gallons of fuel into environmentally sensitive waters.  

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the Obama administration wants to seek "the biggest deal possible" on debt reduction. His comments Sunday follow word from GOP congressional leaders that the White House's $4 trillion package was off the table. Geithner tells NBCs' "Meet the Press" that reaching a deal requires compromise on both sides. The president is set to hold debt talks at the White House Sunday evening with leaders from both parties.
 

The wealthy, despite record profits and pay increases, will not be asked to pay more in taxes. The Senate's Republican leader says a major proposal on cutting spending that's favored by the White House is off the table as far as Republicans are concerned. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky points to tax increases that are part of the $4 trillion deficit-reduction package backed by President Barack Obama. McConnell tells "Fox News Sunday" that raising taxes is a bad idea given the weak economy. Obama is holding debt talks with congressional leaders on Sunday evening at the White House. House Speaker John Boehner said late Saturday that House Republicans wouldn't accept tax increases in Obama's plan. Boehner says he's looking at a deal about half the size of the president's proposal. Officials have been negotiating for weeks to allow the nation's borrowing capacity to rise before an Aug. 2 deadline.

The city of Cambridge, Mass., is now paying a stipend to same-sex married public employees to defray the cost of a federal tax that city officials call unfair. The city council has decided to pay quarterly stipends to the 22 public employees who pay federal taxes on the value of the health benefits their same-sex spouse receives from the city. Health benefits for heterosexual spouses aren't taxable.  Same-sex couples must pay the tax because the federal government doesn't recognize same-sex marriage. The Human Rights Campaign says at least 17 private employers have similar policies, but Cambridge is the first community in the nation to start the practice. City officials estimate these public employees pay an additional $1,500 to $3,000 a year in taxes. The stipend will cost the city a total of $33,000 annually.
 



A southwest Florida high school principal who sometimes hypnotized students to help them relax for tests is facing questions after two of the students committed suicide. North Port High School Principal George Kenney's sessions with the students have not been linked to their suicides, but he has acknowledged carrying on the sessions with students at school after  he was warned to stop. A Sarasota County School District report says Kenney hypnotized one student a day before his suicide in April. He had a session with the other student five months before her suicide in May. Both students had permission from their parents for the hypnosis sessions. The 51-year-old Kenney is a popular principal who's been at the school since it opened in 2001.

A Utah State University researcher is using goat milk as the base for a silk that has garnered the interest of the U.S. military, auto makers and hospitals. The Deseret News of Salt Lake City says the goats have been bred to include a two genes used by spiders to produce silk. USU professor Randy Lewis has been researching a way to make spider silk production commercially viable by finding other ways to produce it. Along with goats, he has tried to use bacteria, alfalfa and silk worms. Spider silk is stronger than steel and as stretchy as nylon. Lewis says it could potentially be used to replace tendons in patients recovering from surgery, develop safer air bags and make parachutes stronger.
 

The first national Spanish spelling bee has been won by a seventh-grade girl from Santa Cruz, N.M. Evelyn Juarez, of Carlos F. Vigil Middle School, won by correctly spelling the Spanish word "bizantinismo," which means excess luxury. The runner-up, German Rojero of Los Lunas Middle School, misspelled "kanindeyuense," someone from a Paraguayan territory. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the two each spelled about 20 words correctly to defeat nine other students, who hailed from as far away as Oregon and Texas, though most were from New Mexico. Organizer David Briseno, who heads New Mexico's Association for Bilingual Education, says the state has had a contest since 1994 but he had been dreaming of a national event for years.
        

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

"Hail to the Chief" comes from an early 1800's British Musical, and was importing by President' Harding's wife.  That tidbit is from Rick Beyer's "The Greatest Music Stories Never Told." The book chronicles the sometimes odd histories and origins of musicians and traditional songs.

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter will eulogize Betty Ford on Tuesday during a memorial in a California Church. NPR Journalist Cokie Roberts and a University of Michigan dean, Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, will also offer tributes to Ford during the service at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert. St. Margaret's also will host a public visitation Tuesday evening. Ford died Friday of natural causes at the age of 93.

Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller says conservatives have the opportunity to elect the next Ronald Reagan in 2012. Heller urged voters to elect a president who will create jobs during the annual Conservative Leadership Conference in Henderson yesterday. Heller would not say which GOP presidential hopeful could continue Reagan's conservative legacy.


Today is the last day of publication for the News of the World, the 168-year-old newspaper that is Britain's most widely read Sunday publication. The paper is closing in the wake of a devastating phone hacking scandal that's led to the arrest of several editors and executives. Many students, and to some extent apathetic Americans do not seem to care about the significance of this news, both in terms of journalism ethics and the reflection on the loss of sources or information in a democratic society. The News of the World was a solid competitor to the Times of  London for over a century and a half, providing solid journalism and a perspective that was different then the conservatives Times. When Newscorp (FOX) and Murdock purchased it the perspective shifted from news to tabloid, almost National Inquirer, type "news" and ethics began to erode in the face of corporate demands for profits and a large audience. The Sunday edition is one most read in Great Britain, surpassing the Times of London in subscription and over the counter sales. Today history dies because of corporate greed and a very British sense of what is news,

After weeks of fruitless talks, House Speaker John Boehner has thrown in the towel in the contentious fight over the federal deficit and the nation's debt limit. In a statement issued last night, Mr. Boehner said he would back down from Republican demands for $4 trillion dollars in cuts to reduce the nation's deficit in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Instead, he'll urge negotiators to aim for a smaller package of two to three trillion dollars in spending cuts. The issue remains the still in effect tax breaks for the rich, and cutting programs that serve lower and middle class Americans while not increasing the burden on the wealthy. Two very separate philosophies are at loggerheads, one saying that government exists for its citizens, the other feeling that government exist for business and the protection of very specific basic services, such as a military and trade.

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders are regrouping after House Republicans gave up efforts for  a massive deficit reduction package of $4 trillion over 10 years. House Speaker John Boehner is now looking for a deal about half that size. But White House officials say the president will press for a bigger bargain  at a White House negotiating session this evening. A deal would clear the way for an increase in the nation's debt limit.  Boehner announced that the White House's insistence on substantial new tax revenues scuttled a large deficit deal. He says a smaller package of about $2 trillion identified - but not agreed to - by bipartisan negotiators is more realistic.

Arizona has turned down federal money to pay for extended jobless benefits. The politicians who rejected the money say long-term unemployment benefits (99 weeks or more) are akin to welfare and discourage people from taking available low-paying jobs. Meanwhile those who have worked all their lives and are still unable to find work due to this jobless recovery say that the state will leave them without house, home, food or resources. It is not possible to look for work and land jobs without out the funds to do so.

Mexican Americans, and to some extent Mexicans who may not have crossed into the US legally, travel with the crops. The cherry pickers have landed en-mass in the Pacific Northwest, where a growing Spanish speaking community have brought with it unwanted elements, the drug cartels. Billingham Washington and other small towns closer to Canada than Mexico, are centers for smuggling everything from guns to immigrants, drugs to culture. Kidnappings, killings and a fear of other crime have put a cloud over

"Hail to the Chief" comes from an early 1800's British Musical, and was importing by President' Harding's wife.

William Galston, a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution shared with NPR his proposals for spurring job growth in the private sector. He believes the federal government should accelerate the emergence and growth of new businesses.Pouring money, through tax rebates or cash infusions, into large corporations only leads to profits for shareholders and investment overseas. Creating Roosevelt era jobs bills may only stimulate a temporary growth and in the end leave an even higher and costly bureaucracy in its wake. But stimulating new business will help create jobs, increase the success rate of American business which invests its money and resources within the country.



Security officials say Yemeni tribesmen have for the first time joined the battle against al-Qaida-linked
militants in a lawless southern province. The officials say clashes on Sunday in the towns of Lawder and Modya in southern Abyan province killed one militant and wounded four tribesmen. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media. Government troops are struggling in Abyan against the Islamic militants after losing control over the provincial capital, Zinjibar, and another town, Jaar. There are concerns that the militants are exploiting Yemen's political turmoil amid a months long popular uprising demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to expand their influence.

Syria's vice president is calling for a transition to a pluralistic democracy in his country. Farouk al-Sharaa made the unusual call at the opening Sunday in Damascus of two days of government-sponsored talks about reforms. The gathering has been shunned by leading Syrian opposition figures and prominent activists, who said they would not attend as long as authorities persist in the ruthless crackdown on protesters. The regime of the family dynasty of President Bashar Assad is grappling with a four-month-old anti-government uprising, using a mix of violence and promises of reform to quell the nationwide demonstrations. Meanwhile, Syria's Foreign Ministry says it has summoned the American and French ambassadors to protest over their visits to the restive city of Hama during large, anti-government protests. Syria claims the visits interfered in internal affairs.


Israel's Cabinet has proposed a maritime boundary line with Lebanon that is different from the line sought by the northern neighbor. The two countries are racing to stake their own claims for a demarcation line in the Mediterranean Sea, where energy reserves have been found. Both countries have asked the United Nations to mediate in the matter since Israel and Lebanon have no relations. The sea boundary dispute could trigger a new conflict over lucrative gas and oil reserves.  Israel recently discovered two gas fields off its coast, and
energy companies believe other reserves could be in the area. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Lebanon's proposed line falls "significantly south" of the line Israeli ministers agreed on Sunday.

William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are visiting Southern California this weekend, combining red carpet glamour and charity work. Prince William played polo in Santa Barbara, with his bride awarding the winning trophy.

Stan VanDerBeek's is a legendary name in the world of independent cinema -- yet his work is rarely seen. To say that he was ahead of his time would be an understatement. He was drawing on computer screens at MIT 40 years ago; he was pioneering CGI at Bell Labs around the same time. His collaborators included Claes Oldenburg and John Cage. His multi-projector screenings were events that drew the likes of Andy Warhol. The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is presenting the first extensive survey of VanDerBeek's work - from his earliest paintings, through his Movie-Drome (a special screening space he built that he envisioned re-creating around the world and connecting them all by satellite) to his work with computers. NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday has an in depth look at his work and this latest project.