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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

When it comes to athletics, even the fittest baby boomers are finding aging bodies aren't as nimble as young ones, and they're more prone to minor damage that can turn serious if ignored. Knee replacements have more than tripled in people aged 45-64 in recent years, and a study released last week found nearly 1 in 20 Americans older than 50 have the artificial joints. Dr. Steven Haas of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City says people shouldn't abandon exercise because it has many health benefits. But, they should make sure they're well-conditioned and listen to their bodies. Hans says switching to less rigorous activities is sometimes the answer: "If your knee is killing you every day after you run, you're probably not doing the right sport."

Funny how the rest of the world looks upon our financial difficulties here in Las Vegas. It's our own fault, as the city was build on an image of gambling, the mob and "Sin City." So they look upon our high unemployment, much higher under employment, crumbling education system, overly top heavy home debt and see us as spending out spare time and money gambling in glamorous casinos. While President Obama's mortgage settlement will pump money into the state and help some of those most victimized by predatory lending, most Nevadans, who purchased homes to live in and raise their families will not see relief. Unfortunately the front runners in the Republican presidential race are even less understanding of the state and sympathetic to our form of being victimized, pointing to the same marketplace that put us underwater and unable to retire as our salvation, and suggesting change that may benefit those in less harder hit areas but that will do little or nothing for Nevadans.

From the start, it's been a roller-coaster race for the Republican presidential nomination. GOP primary voters can catch their collective breath for the next two weeks. Romney narrowly edged Ron Paul in Maine's Republican caucuses yesterday, giving his presidential campaign a much-needed boost after humbling losses in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri earlier in the week. No delegates were at stake, as delegates are distributed through the state party later in the nomination process. Despite the lack of teeth in the highly local centered caucus process, Romney captured 39 percent of the vote to Ron Paul's 36 percent. The next contests, in Arizona and Michigan, aren't until Feb. 28. The party with a reputation for order may have it sorted out after March 6, when 10 states get their say. But that would break sharply with this race's tendency toward uncertainty. With nine contests down, Mitt Romney leads the delegate hunt, and has both the money and the organization to compete deep into the state-by-state nomination calendar. But his two main rivals have scored decisive victories, putting into doubt the strength of the former Massachusetts governor's front-running candidacy.

President Barack Obama is pressing for investments in infrastructure while relying on tax increases on the wealthy and corporations to claim progress on the federal deficit in his upcoming budget. Obama's 2013 blueprint marks the start of an election-year budget battle over taxes and spending. The plan is already getting chilly reviews from Republicans who say Obama isn't doing enough to tame the deficit and curb the growth of programs like Medicare. Obama's budget includes stimulus-style initiatives, like increases for highways, school modernization, and a new tax credit for businesses that add jobs. The budget also calls for a "Buffett Rule" - named after billionaire Warren Buffett. It would guarantee that households making more than $1 million a year pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

Greek lawmakers are poised to begin debate on legislation introducing the severe austerity measures necessary for the country to secure another multi-billion dollar bailout and stave off bankruptcy. The legislation also contains a bond-swapping deal with private creditors that will allow Greece to shave off at more than $100 billion in debt. Unions have called for a large protest outside Parliament. The two parties backing the coalition government have 236 deputies in the 300-member parliament. But at least 13 conservative and seven socialist lawmakers have declared they will vote no today, defying their leaders' threats of sanctions. Early Sunday, a conservative lawmaker resigned, joining three socialists who did the same earlier this week. All have been replaced.

A Yemeni security official says al-Qaida-linked militants have publicly executed two Yemenis suspected of collaborating with the United States. The official says one of Sunday's executions took place in the town of Azan in Shabwa province and the other in the town of Jaar in neighboring Abyan province. Both towns are in southern Yemen, where militants have seized large swaths of territory in the past year as security has collapsed across the country. The official says the men were suspected of planting electronic devices that help U.S. drones strike militant positions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with security rules. In September, a U.S. drone strike killed U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and a second American, Samir Khan, who edited al-Qaida's Internet magazine.

Iran's supreme leader has urged the Hamas prime minister of Gaza to continue the Islamist militant group's resistance against Israel. Iranian state TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as telling Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday that people expect Hamas to continue its fight against Israel. Khamenei said that late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat lost his popularity because he distanced himself from resistance. Haniyeh said that liberating all of Palestine, rejecting peace talks and considering the Palestinian issue an Islamic one are his main strategies. InflamatoryKhaled Mashaal, has been leading a shift, seeking reconciliation with Palestinian rival Mahmoud Abbas, a proponent of negotiations, and endorsing nonviolence as an important tool.

An Arab League official says the Sudanese head of the League's observer mission to Syria has resigned. The official said Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Al-Dabi stepped down this morning. Al-Dabi's resignation comes on the same day that foreign ministers from the 22-member group are to consider a proposal to send a new mission to Syria with Arab League and U.N. observers. The official said League chief Nabil Elaraby will nominate former Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Illah al-Khatib as the new envoy to Syria. The League suspended its observer mission last month amid a surge in violence as President Bashar Assad's regime battles an uprising that began 11 months ago. 

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