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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

Oscars will be handed out this evening. If you are planning to watch at home, what better snack than popcorn. Movies and popcorn belong together. Today there are dozens of varieties to choose from pre-made, and with the right recipe you can make everything from nacho popcorn to curie or Burmese popcorn. Dill pickle? Sound delicious?Popcorn may be thousands of  years old as a snack or even a meal. Some colonial homes had it for breakfast. The Great Depression brought a boom for popcorn as movie theatres sought to make up for lost ticket revenue (prices per ticket plummeted to keep the theatres full), then in World War II popcorn substituted for sugar based items in short supply, including chocolates. The "instant pop" of the 1950's  to 70's brought popcorn into every home, and today's microwave varieties have tied the knot that as a snack popcorn is here to stay. So pull up a chair, pop some corn and enjoy the Oscars!

Tomorrow ballots go in the mail for a proposed merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of  Television and Recording Artists. If it is approved by 60% of the members of each union, the new union, SAG-AFTRA, would become the largest in Hollywood and the largest dedicated to the entertainment and information "software" industry. While it is generally felt that the vote could reach 85% in favor on the SAG side and in the 90 plus percentile on the AFTRA side, the reality is that an attempt to merge into a new joint union six years ago fell short of 60% by just a few hundred votes. Some celebrities, led by Martin Sheen, Ed Asner, Velorie Harper and Ann Marie Johnson oppose merger into the new union. Votes will be tabulated on March 29th.

Michigan holds its Republican primary on Tuesday, family home of former Massachusetts governor -- and Michigan native -- Mitt Romney. In polling of Michigan voters, Mitt Romney has an edge over Rick Santorum among that state's key and large Catholic voters. Santorum is a conservative Catholic, but many of the Catholics in Michigan are less conservative and more pragmatic...which could swing Catholics to Romney. Gay marriage, unionism, contraceptives and other issues split modern Catholics, who also have tended to vote for electability, no matter which party they belong to.

The de facto replacement for "The News of the World," "The Sunday Sun," will premiere its first issue in London this morning. The BBC points out that it is a bland paper published on the eve of Monday's high profile trial on spying by reporters for the parent company, a subsidiary of NewCorp (which owns FOX news in the US). Hard news was lacking, as was the usual shady side of sexy females and other sales oriented features found in the weekday editions.

Billions of dollars are at state as the first phase of a wide-ranging trial for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is scheduled to begin tomorrow.  Observers expect settlements instead of a full trial, probably small amounts (a billion or so) in separate issues world wide. So far BP has paid our nearly six billion dollars prior to the beginning of legislation.

North Korea is rattling sabers, beginning a major military exercise with orders to react with force to any threat from or attempt to interfere by the US or any other power. Disputed water ways and asserting the power of their new leader have added fuel to the potential of a military conflict this time around.

The US is greatly concerned that Israel may take unilateral military action against Iran to cripple Irans 'nuclear program, which most of the world is not certain includes the potential development of nuclear weapons.  A state department delegation is in Israel attempting to defuse the immediate threat of an Israeli strike. Military experts say Israel does not have the technology to strike a crippling blow, but could delay Iran's program and make a strong point. Repercussions in the area are feared as Iran takes actions including their threatened closing of shipping lanes and attacks on international shipping.

Jon Lee Anderson of "The New Yorker. traveled through Syria recently, speaking with government officials, rebel officers, Syrian soldiers, businessmen, and civilians. What he found was a country he believes is on the brink of civil war.But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the situation is far too complex to call it a full fledged civil war or for any potential unilateral US military assistance. While parts of the country are in kayos, most of the country is business as usual. Groups that are anti-US and anti stability in the region are playing at least lip service to those who are resisting the government. Between the military and the presence of  militarized political groups from other countries and groups in the region, Clinton warns that Syria is the regions most highly armed and militarized country in the region. An attempt to put international pressure on Syria was blocked by Russia and China in the US Security Council.

Senegalese go to the polls today to elect their next president. It follows weeks of violent protests over incumbent President Aboulaye Wade's effort to seek a third term.go to the polls today to elect their next president. It follows weeks of violent protests over incumbent President Aboulaye Wade's effort to seek a third term. While opposition is strong and loud, sometimes very violent, the president, who ran on democratic beliefs and spoke of term limits, is likely to win a third term. He sees himself as the father of his country's democracy and does not believe there is a current leader capable of taking over.

The trial of more than 40 foreigners involved in democracy-building and civil society projects in Egypt begins today in Cairo. The foreigners face a long list of charges, all of which they have denied. The 16 Americans and other Europeans were not in the courtroom, reporting they were not informed of the hearing.No matter as the judge postponed the trial until late April.

A week before Russia's presidential election opinion from citizens in Russia seems to be stay with the trouble you know, instead of risk worse.  Under one office or another the worlds largest geographic country has seen 12 year's of Vladimir Putin's rule. Reporters are finding that many Russians say why will not vote in the election.

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