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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

Get use to saying the Santa Clara 49ers! The 49ers are a big step closer to moving from San Francisco to a new stadium about 45 miles south in Santa Clara. The team and City of Santa Clara announced on Friday that they have secured long-awaited funding for the project. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and U.S. Bank have agreed to an $850 million loan with the city's stadium authority and the 49ers.The money will cover the bulk of the estimated $1 billion project. Funding from the National Football League, a hotel tax and
city redevelopment funds is expected to make up the difference. Officials say the loans were the last major apiece of the project and make the stadium a reality. The goal is to open the new stadium in 2015. Meanwhile despite stadium plans, Los Angeles remains the only major city without an NFL franchise. LA is the second largest media market in the nation.

A Utah man attempting to pay his taxes with silver is being rebuffed by state and county officials who say
it's impractical to accept precious metals as payment. The Salt Lake Tribune reports Orem resident Carlton Bowen is not being allowed to use the metals despite a state law passed earlier this year that made gold and silver legal tender. The legislation didn't require that the coins had to be accepted.

The prototype for Coca-Cola's curvy bottle and its original concept drawing brought in record sales at auction in Beverly Hills. Julien's Auctions, which handled the sale yesterday, says the prototype bottle went for $240,000. A sketch of that first bottle brought $228,000.

Rare items reflecting a shadier side of Nevada's past have been sold at auction in Reno. Mustang Ranch brothel memorabilia, including nude photos of working women in the 1970s and 1980s, fetched $3,000 from what auction organizers would only identify as an "institution of higher learning." The original Black Book of persons excluded from the state's casinos went for $5,250.

State officials say California welfare regulators for years have allowed, and even required, counties to
go after minors to reclaim welfare over-payments made to their parents. Attorneys who filed suit last month to try to stop the practice say they believe thousands of young people throughout the state are being unfairly required to repay millions of dollars in welfare money that mistakenly or fraudulently was obtained by caregivers or guardians.

A battle of perceptions is being waged over whether Nevada's economy is recovering or still falling four years after the collapse of its housing, tourism and construction industries. The state continues to top the nation in unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates, but the tepid return of tourists has drawn cheers from government and business leaders. University of Nevada, Reno economist Elliot Parker says Nevada's recovery is at least a year behind the rest of the nation.

All major Republican presidential candidates have met a deadline to pay $10,000 to participate in Nevada's Feb. 4 caucus. Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that even Jon Huntsman met the Friday deadline. Huntsman had threatened to boycott the caucus until Nevada Republicans moved back the date of the caucus to February.

Sen. John McCain says he thinks his home state of Arizona and other areas in the U.S. with large Hispanic populations are "up for grabs" in the upcoming presidential election because President Barack Obama hasn't convinced those voters that he's on their side. McCain tells CNN's "State of the Union" that Republicans have
a shot at capturing the Hispanic vote in 2012 if the GOP can address immigration in a humane and pragmatic way. McCain said that part of that plan must include addressing the some 12 million illegal immigrants already in the United States, while securing the border to deter more people from trying to cross. The 2008 GOP presidential candidate said he thinks most Hispanics would appreciate this "careful balance" by GOP candidates.

With the exit of Herman Cain, the 2012 Republican presidential field appears to be narrowing to a two-man
race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. GOP voters have a month before the Iowa caucuses. And Gingrich is showing strength in the latest Iowa poll. Romney has maintained a political network since his 2008
presidential bid, especially in New Hampshire. Gingrich, whose campaign nearly collapsed several months ago, is relying on his debate performances and the good will he's built up with some conservatives. Gingrich's efforts appear to be paying off in Iowa. A Des Moines Register poll released late Saturday found Gingrich leading the GOP field with 25 percent support, ahead of  Ron Paul at 18 percent and Romney at 16.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie is traveling to the Middle East to swap ideas with law enforcement
agencies from across the globe. Gillespie will be in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates for the Gulf States Global Police Symposium, scheduled for Sunday through Wednesday. The conference addresses the need for international police cooperation and sharing information between agencies. The sheriff will represent Clark County in talks about global trends such as human trafficking, money laundering and cyber crimes. Also attending is Clark County Assistant Sheriff Greg McCurdy, who oversees Homeland Security. Las Vegas is unique in its position of being, along with Disneyland, one of two targets on the 9-11 computers as researched and planned targets not hit on that infamous day. The terrorist also met here prior to the attack. Clark County is on the I-15/ Union Pacific drug corridor, which is also increasingly a conduit for illegal arms, much of which is military grade. The symposium is co-hosted by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of the Interior and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The trip is paid for by the symposium organizers.

Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the nonprofit medical center filed for bankruptcy protection Friday to help complete the sale.The sale is occurring with a negotiated restructuring with the cancer institutes lenders, and institute co-founder and board member Heather Murren says the banks have written off $50 million of debt. UC San Diego spokeswoman Jacqueline Carr says her university is impressed with the cancer institutes facilities and staff, and is excited about the prospect of bringing it into the UC, San Diego Health System family. In its bankruptcy filings, the institute claimed $91 million in debt to a group of secured lenders headed by Bank of America.

TARP Anniversary

Tomorrow marks three years since outgoing President George W Bush singed over 12.5 trillion dollar to the banks in what is known as the TARP bailout. It was done to stop a potential bank default which could have led to an actual Depression and an attempt to reverse a recession, which was greatly underestimated by the Bush White House. Events that followed left the new President Barack Obama no choice but to continue the bailout and deal with the aftermath.

Today Republicans are blaming all economic woes on Obama, despite the ball that was already snowballing downhill as far back as the late 70's and early 80's. The trend, which includes NAFTA, a shift by American corporations to foreign ownership and to Americans investing overseas where there is better return on their dollar, but little or no investment in American jobs.No one can overturn the trend in just three years, particularly when the past year the House of Representatives has said "no" to every option economist say will work, or which have worked in the past. Cuts alone, without tax increases and real government support programs for the poor, middle class and working class Americans do not work, as has been proven many times over the past century and a half.

Can we learn from history, or simply continue to polarize and say "no", as Americans suffer?

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

A city has been evacuated as a result of the Second World unexploded super-bomb to be exact.Officials in the western German city of Koblenz say tens of thousands of residents have left their homes as experts prepare to defuse a massive World War II-era bomb discovered in the Rhine river.City officials said this morning that some 45,000 residents living within a radius of about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the bomb site had to evacuate for the day by 0800 GMT. It's one of Germany's biggest bomb-related evacuations since the war ended. The British 1.8 ton bomb could cause massive damage if it exploded. It was found last week alongside a 275-pound U.S. bomb after the Rhine's water level fell due to lack of rain. Both bombs are to be defused.  Finding unexploded bombs dropped by the Allies over Germany is common even more than 60 years after the conflict.

Socrates is dead. Not the Greek teacher and philosopher...that happened along time ago. The captain of a world cup winning Brazilian Football team (soccer) died overnight at the age of 57, from a stomach infection. He was famous in the football world for his non-athletic attitude but intelligent moves as a player and a captain. The former playmaker captained Brazil in the 1982 and '86 World Cups and is a popular columnist and television commentator in the South American country.He completed med school prior to joining professional soccer and had three other advance degrees. He was critical of Brazil spending so much on the upcoming World Cup and on an Olympic bid when so many are poor and there is so much to deal with in his country. He was a heavy smoker, drinker, lived a Bohemian lifestyle and believed that life exists to live to the fullest.

Officials say the Rev. Billy Graham had a good night at the North Carolina hospital where he is being treated
for pneumonia. Merrell Gregory, a spokeswoman for Mission Hospital in Asheville, said in a press release Sunday morning that nurses reported Graham "had a good night." The brief statement did not include other details about Graham's condition but said hospital officials expected to send another update in the afternoon on his progress.Officials had said previously that the 93-year-old evangelist will continue physical therapy to help his strength and mobility. Graham was admitted Wednesday night after suffering from congestion, a cough and slight fever that was later diagnosed as pneumonia.

Another cross-border drug tunnel was discovered on the U.S.-Mexico border last week; the 600-yard passageway resulted in the seizure of more than thirty tons of marijuana, one of the largest in U.S. history. Tunnels as sophisticated as this one are often found right before the start of the year. The holidays brings an increased two way demand for the illegally tunnels under the boarder. Into the US drug shipments increase sharply for the holidays, as to immigrants imported as "holiday help." Going the opposite direction into Mexico are Mexicans in the US legally going home for the holidays or immediately after as the US lays off seasonal holiday workers. Guns and weapons also increase their flow to south of the boarder,,,,maybe a Christmas presents?

Mexican drug smugglers have a new target -- illegal immigrants. More and more migrants report being forced to carry drugs into the U-S ... sometimes under threat of death.

The debt crisis in Europe affects the United States. US banks have invested in European sovereign debt -- bonds European governments are now hard pressed to make good on. And a financial meltdown and long-term recession in Europe means less demand on the continent for already declining US exports.  A major wide trading partner may bring down other market, as far away s India, China and the US. We are not an island and Europe my be the catalyst for Americans, who historically tend to be isolationist, to realize that.

The recession has caused conservative around the world to cut back on the very things that make society civil, that help raise education levels and raise the nation above the rest as a desirable place for educated individuals to live and work. In the boom years, Spain spent billions on big infrastructure projects -- high speed railways, roads and gleaming structures like the Niemeyer Center for the Arts in Asturias. It's a dazzling museum that's hosted sold-out performances by Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen, but it's slated to close on December 15th because of regional budget cuts. Reporter Lauren Frayer says it's a sad omen of what could happen all across Spain, as conservative politicians cut funding for the arts, and public projects become white elephants littering the landscape.

Herman Cain has dropped out of the presidential race. Presidential Candidate Herman Cain prided himself on running an unconventional campaign, which had political veterans scratching their heads. Ultimately Cain's political career was dragged down by allegations about his private life and major foreign policy gaffes. 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has one last card to play in his battle to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crimes allegations. He'll play it tomorrow when he will ask judges to let him take his case to Britain's Supreme Court. If they say no, he could be on a plane to Stockholm within days. The 40-year-old Australian behind the secret-spilling website has spent almost a year on bail in Britain fighting extradition. Sweden wants him for questioning over claims of rape and molestation made by two Swedish women. He is not charged with any crime in Sweden and Assange denies the allegations.Lower courts have already considered and rejected Assange's legal arguments.

Two giant pandas from China have landed in Scotland, where they will become the first pandas to live in
Britain in nearly two decades. The 8-year-old pair, named Tian Tian and Yang Guang - or Sweetie and Sunshine - arrived at Edinburgh Airport Sunday on a specially-chartered Boeing flight. The pandas are to stay for 10 years at Edinburgh Zoo, known for its endangered species breeding program. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland will pay more than 600,000 pounds ($935,000) a year to China for the loan of Sweetie and Sunshine, not including the expense of imported bamboo. Increased zoo guest traffic,donations and profile are hoped to not only cover that cost but turn a profit which could be applied to the needs of the zoo and breeding programs.Britain's last giant panda lived in the London Zoo until 1994, when it was returned to China.