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Sunday, September 25, 2011

A social contract with the community and the workers to reinvest in America

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he thinks President Barack Obama could win re-election next year in spite of the country's high unemployment rate. Bloomberg cites the power of incumbency as one of Obama's advantage. He says if he were Obama, he would emphasize what he's done to try to improve the economy and admit some things haven't worked but that he'll keep trying. The Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent says Obama remains a viable candidate and that the election is a real horse race regardless of the GOP nominee. Bloomberg tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that he probably won't endorse a candidate. He didn't make an endorsement in 2008.

President Barack Obama is heading to the West Coast to raise money from donors and try to sell his new jobs plan. Obama has fundraisers events Sunday in two reliably Democratic states, Washington and California. He's expected to keep up his newly aggressive tone of taking Republicans head on. That may be welcome news for party activists who've been discouraged by some of the president's compromises with the GOP. Obama has a town hall-style event hosted by social networking site LinkedIn in California on Monday and ends the trip with a jobs speech in Denver. Polling shows that Obama's approval ratings are sagging, but he probably doesn't risk losing Washington or California in 2012. Still, supporters aren't as enthusiastic as they once were, something Obama will try to change.

President Barack Obama is telling black lawmakers it's time to "put on your marching shoes." Obama addressed an audience of some 3,000 people at tonight's awards dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus. The president acknowledges that with an unemployment rate of nearly 17 percent for black Americans, people are frustrated. Obama says, "So many people are still hurting. So many people are barely hanging on." And he says, "so many people in this city are fighting us every step of the way." Obama asked black lawmakers to support his jobs bill. And he told them, "I need your help." In pitching his proposal, Obama said his package of payroll tax cuts, business tax breaks and infrastructure spending would benefit 100,000 black-owned businesses and 20 million African-American workers. Obama will need black turnout to match its historic 2008 levels if he's to have a shot at winning a second term.

Governor Rick Perry of Texas traveled far north to the Michigan's Island of Mackinaw, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Superrior, to push is campaign agenda. He scaled down attacks on Romney, whose family is entrenched in Michigan's heart, and made the point that the only way to get the change he feels voters feel is needed, is to elect someone who stands for those principles. Meanwhile, audience members agreed with Perry most of the time, but an exit poll shows that Michigan will likely be a solid Romney state. As a rule Michigan voters tend to be moderate and pro-labor, however there is a Tea Party element that could boost conservative activist Perry by the time of the primaries.

Ann Romney is playing an enhanced role in her husband's presidential campaign. She's seen as a good balance for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who sometimes struggles to connect with average voters.The campaign says Ann Romney soon will make new rounds of public appearances, media interviews and discuss her health problems and her family's rags-to-riches story. The 62-year-old grandmother of 16 has multiple sclerosis and recently battled breast cancer. The Romney's have been married for 42 years.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says a coalition that favors physically separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds has grown to 17 states. Schuette tells The Associated Press that attorneys general from 11 states have joined the campaign, which he and counterparts from five other Great Lakes states began last month. They're pushing Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to decide quickly on a plan for cutting the man-made connection between the drainage basins near Chicago. Michigan contends that it's the only way to protect the Great Lakes from an invasion by Asian carp. Business interests in Chicago say it would be disastrous for their economy. Schuette said the campaign attracted endorsements from Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Southern California grocery employees have voted to ratify a new contract with supermarket chains, bringing an end to months of conflict and averting a strike that could have crippled the industry and left shoppers scrambling. United Food and Commercial Workers local spokeswoman Ellen Anreder said Saturday that after two days of voting, members agreed to the deal as their leaders had urged. Union officials say the agreement - reached with the region's three major grocery chains after a strike deadline had passed Monday - addresses concerns about funding for the employees' health plan, the main sticking point during the months of negotiations. The three-year contract affects about 62,000 workers from central California to the borders of Mexico and Arizona.

U.S. counter terrorism officials say the Obama administration is considering a military trial in the United States for a Hezbollah commander now detained in Iraq. That's a potential prosecution strategy that has failed before but may offer a solution to a difficult legal problem for the government. The officials say a tribunal at a U.S. military base may be the best way to deal with the prisoner, who was captured in Iraq in 2007. He's been linked to the Iranian government and a raid in which four American soldiers were abducted and killed in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala in 2007. No military commission has been held on U.S. soil since the terrorist attacks of 2001. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no decision has been made.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has received a hero's welcome in the West Bank, triumphantly telling his people the "Palestinian Spring" has begun following his historic speech to the U.N. last week. Abbas asked the world body on Friday to recognize Palestinian independence, defying appeals from Israel and the United States to return to peace talks. The speech has transformed Abbas, who widely been viewed as a bland bureaucrat, into a hero. The 76-year-old leader repeatedly shook and waved his hands to the crowd during his brief speech Sunday. Abbas said that just as an Arab Spring is transforming the greater Arab world, a Palestinian Spring has begun.

Yemeni medical officials say government troops have opened fire on protesters in the capital Sanaa, wounding at least 18 people. The shooting signals President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime is stepping up its crackdown on the opposition following the leader's surprise return home that coincided with a dramatic surge in violence. The officials say troops opened fire when protesters approached their checkpoint on a road close to the army's headquarters on Sunday. Four were critically wounded. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Saleh returned on Friday from Saudi Arabia after three months of treatment for wounds sustained in a June attack on his Sanaa headquarters. Some 150 have been killed since Sept. 18.

Four blasts have shaken the city of Karbala in southern Iraq, killing at least 10 people. Police and hospital officials say scores of others were wounded. An Iraqi official calls it a sectarian strike on the holy Shiite city.

Officials in Nepal say no one survived the crash of a plane carrying tourists to view Mount Everest. All 19 people aboard were killed when the plane crashed while attempting to land in dense fog. Officials say two Americans are among the dead.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

Western coverage of riots in the streets of Syria have been staged on movie sets built to resemble Syria, and there are satellite photos and other physical evidence of this vast western conspiracy. So says Syria's Internet...on almost all major sites and search engines.

The Syrian Electronic Army, a little group of pro-government web vigilantes is at it again, hacking into the web sites of people like Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey. This army of young Syrians is part of the larger propaganda war waged online. It began as a gross roots rebellion by Syrians, similar to what happened in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. But it have evolved into a bombardment by government propaganda and misinformation, plus spying on citizens. Web security is no joke. Jillian York, at the Electronic Frontier, says the Syrian regime is using "deep packet" monitoring, likely with the assistance of Iran. Syrian intelligence has become more effective in arresting anti-government activists and anticipating demonstrations, which could be due to more effective monitoring techniques. When they identify a web blogger or a source of a Facebook, Twitter or e-mail message, that person can be arrested and made to give up friends. The result is that when you are on-line you can never be sure if the person or source on the other side is your friend or some Syrian unofficial agent. Iran, with the support of China, has been implicated in many international hacking and computer spying activities. Similar Internet pirating and warfare has been reported in many of the Iran aligned Middle Eastern Nations.

The Palestinian push for statehood recognition has sparked fears of new violence in the West Bank. Neither Palestinians nor Israelis appear content with the security provided by their own governments. "Neighborhood Security Watch" groups have been formed by both groups. While settlers are trained by the IDF, Palestinians are forming teams to monitor, document and detain settlers they believe will seek out price tag attacks.

While the world focused on Palesteins push to be accepted into the UN, a major story went pretty much untold. Africa's newest nation -- South Sudan -- was also there,for the first time as a member state, and used the meetings to press for action in achieving peace with its old foe and neighbor, Sudan.

It's a story of Gypsies, tramps and thieves, and of hard working carpenters, iron workers and tradesmen, who just happen to live an alternate lifestyle. A group of semi-nomadic Irish, known as "Irish Travelers," have been ordered to leave the former scrap yard east of London, where they have been living for the past decade. Their eviction has been delayed due to legal wrangling. There are an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 Travelers in Britain where they claim discrimination.

Mike Danton, an NHL hockey player who was convicted in a murder-for-hire scheme and served prison time, Danton is now playing in Sweden. When a fellow player collapsed during a game, first-aid skills Danton learned while in prison helped save his teammate's life.

It's not good news from Washington, as for the next year instead of legislating most politicians will be positioning for election, or to see their party win the White House. The party of "No"is showing no compromise or change, the Tea Party is heating up its rhetoric, media is enjoying the ratings boost of pointing out every flaw in Democrat stands while ripping at Republican candidates who appear to be a long way to finding one solid candidate who can take the White House for that party. As the president pushes his jobs bill, no one "on the hill"

As Republican Senator Lamar Alexander -- a seasoned deal-maker in the Senate -- announces his intention to step down from a key leadership role, there's a question going around Washington: Are the best deal-brokers giving up? If so, what does that mean for the future of political compromise? Can a mediated slogan based well financed by blind box billionares and corporations government actually meet the needs of its people? Are people demanding their way or the high way? If so, what about those on the opposite side of the issues? Do their voices and votes count? Can the US have a workable government ever again?