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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

 At 25  a young actor published a story in the London newspaper, a work of fiction that later grew into "Oliver Twist". He became one of the greatest novelists of all time, and was deeply insecure.  He wrote constantly and quickly.  And he created nearly 1000 individually-named characters. He wrote fast, often in one draft, with edits hand written in later.  He traveled all the time with a supply of paper and a portable quill pen. He survived in a fatal train crash, after saving his mistress, her mother, several passengers and in a harrowing rescue of his final novel, from a train car hanging off a bridge over a ravine. He died of a stroke at the age of 58. The bicentennial of Charles Dickins birth is this Tuesday Feb. 7. 

LDS (Mormon) voters made up over quarter of  Republicans who turned out to give Mitt Romney a decisive victory in the Nevada Caucus's. Romney has now won three out of the first five contests, but is not as far ahead as most media presents when you look at electoral votes. The candidate move on to Colorado for Tuesday's caucus.

Talks on renegotiating Greece's privately held debt are supposed to be in their final stretch. Private banks are being asked to swap their bonds for paper worth less than half what the investors paid.  It will be hard to swallow...but the alternative is a chaotic Greek default when that debt comes due next month. At stake is the fate not just of the Euro, but of the Eurozone.

It will be hard to get Greeks to swallow more austerity measures even as the country remains on life-support through bailout loans. Unemployment has doubled in Greece in the last two years, nearing 20 percent.  And there are many Greeks with jobs who might as well be unemployed -- they haven't gotten paid for months. Some still show up for work every day, hoping that things will take a turn for the better. The employees of a struggling private TV station simply took over the station and are broadcasting demands for their money.  

The UN Security Council failed yesterday to pass a resolution aimed at stopping the escalating violence in Syria.  China and Russia vetoed the resolution despite days of high level negotiations - including behind the scenes efforts by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice.  

Mobs attacked the Syrian embassy in the Australian Capital of Canberra. Australia has a large Muslim population due to trade relations with its neighbor, the worlds largest Muslim country, Indonesia.

Churches in New York City, which have held worship services in public schools, have one week left to find other spaces before a federally court ordered ban goes into effect.  The court last year ruled this use of school property violated the separation of church and state. Church groups can still rent the facilities but will not longer be able to hold a religious service of any kind. The common practice of church services in unused schools on Saturday or Sundays has gone without interruption for over 300 years, until now.

Last year, the oil rich Gulf nation of Qatar quietly purchased a painting by Paul Cezanne for more than 250 million dollars...the highest amount EVER paid for a work of art. The middle eastern oil country is quietly building a collection to rival Paris, New York and the great art collections of the world.

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