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Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Faces of Second City

Famous faces from the Second City are on display on the Chicago Tribune Web Site (click here).  Chicago's Second City Night club produced the likes of Avery Schreiber to Joan Rivers, Alan Arkin to John and Jim Belusi, Paul Sand to Steve Carrell, Robert Klein to George Wendt, Peter Boyle to John Flaherty, Shelly Long to Harold Ramus, Dan Akyroyd to Bill Murray, John Candy to Matin Short, Mike Myers to Chris Farley, Tina Fey to .. and many many more. The photo essay reveals over 50 of the top famous Second City Alums. Full disclosure: I did study at Second City Chicago, as well as under Second City alums. Below is Steven Colbert of Comedy Central is Second City Alum, as is Jack McBrayer of "30 Rock" (photo below).

Things We’re Supposed To Be Quiet About

by Paul Krugman
New York Times Opinion

Apologists for rising inequality often argue that since most Americans’ income has risen despite rising inequality, there’s no reason to complain about inequality other than envy. So it’s worth remembering that we used to expect economic growth to deliver large increases in real income, not just a bit of a rise that’s accomplished in large part through longer working hours; and that a major reason so many have seen such small gains is that a large part of growth has been siphoned off to the very high end.
Lane Kenworthy had a nice chart illustrating both points, comparing median family income with real GDP per family (for those worried about the fine points, it was nominal GDP divided by the CPI, avoiding some technical issues):
You see the contrast: a doubling of family incomes in the post war generation compared with maybe 20 percent since, and family incomes growing in line with GDP before, lagging far behind since, with the difference basically being the rising share of the 1 percent.

This is real stuff, not some trivial envy-driven concern. But we must be very, very quiet about it, right?

Fox News, Republicans, and America

“Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox.” 

- David Frum, former Bush speechwriter.

First published 1/11/11

Murdock Takes on Obama

Rupert Murdoch takes to Twitter to blast Obama on piracy

Rupert Murdoch tweeted his anger at Obama

From the LA Times Company Town Blog

News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch took to the social networking site Twitter on Saturday to blast the Obama administration for its stance against two anti-piracy bills Hollywood is backing.

"So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery," Murdoch tweeted. He also said it is Google that "streams movies free, sells advts [advertisements] around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying."

Murdoch's anger was in response to a statement from Obama administration officials that indicated that the White House would not back key elements of two bills making their way through Capitol Hill -- the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) -- that critics and media activists argue would hurt freedom of speech on the Internet and favors corporate America over innovation.

"While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,'' read a statement by Victoria Espinel, intellectual property enforcement coordinator; Aneesh Chopra, U.S. chief technology officer; and Howard Schmidt, cybersecurity coordinator for the national security staff.

The administration's stance is a blow to traditional media companies such as News Corp., Time Warner Inc. and Viacom Inc., which have been lobbying hard for the bills, fearing that piracy is undermining their businesses.

"Film making risky as hell. This has to lead to less, hurting writers, actors, all concerned," Murdoch tweeted.
Conversely, Silicon Valley has been using its vast resources to combat the proposed legislation and grass-roots groups have taken to the Web to fight the bills.

White House voices objections to anti-piracy bills

Piracy legislation pits Hollywood against Silicon Valley
MPAA's Dodd says Hollywood is pro-Internet but anti-piracy

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Rupert Murdoch. Credit: Bryan Charlto

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

A 23-year-old beauty queen from my mom's birth city, Kenosha, Wis., has won the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas. Laura Kaeppeler won the contest last night after strutting in a white bikini and black beaded evening gown and singing opera. Miss Nevada Alana Lee didn't make it past the first cut.

From NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday: "A political race is not an actual race or fight...but a process that we use to hear from and decide in a secrete ballot." Too much political coverage has been done as if politics were sporting events and candidates were sports star athletes. In reality is the future of our community, state, country and in some ways the world we vote on, not which horse we want to see cross the finish line first.

The prospect of a Mormon President of the United States appears to be less alien to South Carolina Republicans who are giving Mitt Romney a second look after his failed 2008 run. Still, worries about his faith persist in a state where one pastor jokes there are "more Baptists than people." Voters preparing for the Jan. 21 primary are weighing whether Romney's religion should matter so much when they can't pay their bills and a Democrat many distrust occupies the White House. Four years ago, the Romney campaign directly took on suspicion about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Conservative Christians, including Protestants and Roman Catholics, do not consider Mormons to be Christian, although Mormons strongly do. This time, Romney has no formal religion committee and rarely mentions his faith unless asked. While they represent a small number, up to three quarters of  Mormons are solidly conservative Republican voters.

Mitt Romney is taking the day off a week away from the South Carolina primary but his five rivals plan to focus on the South Carolina shoreline today. It's heavily populated by veterans, active military personnel, moderates and fiscal conservatives. The candidates face two debates this week.

Newt Gingrich is defending his aggressive attacks on GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, saying the tough questions about his record need to be raised during the Republican primaries. Speaking Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," Gingrich said Republicans must make sure they don't nominate a candidate who collapses in September "under the weight of Barack Obama." He says the president is expected to spend a billion dollars on his re-election campaign and the GOP has to be able to withstand what he calls the "Obama onslaught." Gingrich says Romney's record as a former governor of Massachusetts is more moderate than Romney advertises and he needs to "get straight" with voters. Gingrich says Republicans in South Carolina, which holds its presidential primary next Saturday, would be uncomfortable with Romney as the nominee.

A Nevada mint is trying to improve the quality of Bronze Star medals awarded to American military members for heroic or meritorious achievement. Northwest Territorial Mint was awarded a contract by the government last year to produce 79,000 Bronze Stars at its plant in Dayton. Project plant manager Rob Vugteveen says his company is committed to upgrading the medal's quality.

Rescuers have lifted an injured crew member to safety from the grounded and overturned cruise ship off Italy.
Italian officials have also lowered the number of people still unaccounted-for. Tuscany's regional president Enrico Rossi says six crew members and 11 passengers haven't been located out of the 4,200-plus people who were aboard the Costa Concordia. Three people died.

Once the disturbed harbor ice refreezes, officials cay crews must still build some sort of road or pathway over the ice so a hose can be stretched from a Russian tanker to connect with fuel tanks in Nome, Alaska. The tanker brought the much-needed fuel through hundreds of miles of sea ice with the help of a Coast Guard ice-breaker.

A new federal report says it will cost as much as $2.1 billion to restore the endangered steelhead trout to Southern California rivers and streams over the next 100 years. The Ventura County Star reports the 600-page report from the National Marine Fisheries says, in addition to fish, the region will gain jobs, increased tourism and an improved ecosystem from the restoration.

Occupy demonstrators from northern Nevada say they'll take part in a global candlelight vigil on the eve of
Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Organizers of Occupy Reno and Occupy Carson City say they'll gather in front of the Reno City Hall at 7 p.m. Sunday to remember the late civil rights organizer. The vigil coincides with events scheduled across the globe and is spearheaded by Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. Protesters in New York will meet at Riverside Church in Harlem, where King delivered his "Beyond Vietnam" speech in 1967.  Vigil organizers say the Occupy movement seeks to honor King's fight for peace and equality.

Two giant pandas have arrived from China aboard a special plane and are heading to their new home amid the chateaux of central France.  Male Yuan Zi and female Huan Huan are France's first pandas since the death of one more than a decade ago.The endangered animals get only the best: Their "Panda Express" plane, specially configured for their enclosures, was greeted with applause at the Paris airport. On loan from China, Yuan Zi ("chubby" in Chinese) and Huan Huan ("happy") will live at the Zoo Parc de Beauval, in the Loire valley, for 10 years. China has long used "panda diplomacy" to make friends and influence people in other countries. Last month, two pandas from China debuted at Scotland's Edinburgh Zoo.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

James Bond, Scottland, Guantanamo, and Conservatives go for Santorum.

"Shaken,not stirred" is how James Bond preferred his vodka martini's, gong back to the original books and carried through forty years of movies. As it turns out that was a smart move for the British Agent with a licence to kill. When you shake a martini the ices breaks up, with some of it melting and you have a more watered down drink, allowing you to drink longer before being intoxicated. In the 1950's, when Ian Flemming began writing the books, most vodka in the west contained potato residue, with proteans and resudie that not only added more to taste if you shake up your drink, but also helped  cut back on intoxication and hangovers.

Much of the science of James Bond is bogus nonsense , written to create a conflict, advance the plot, create action adventure and keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. And you thought expensive sportscars loaded with gadgets, that can drive the road, serve as an underwater vehicle and fly were real.

Scotland will have a referendum on federal Independence from Great Britain and England on the anniversary of a victory of Scotland against England on the battlefield. While it is not expected to pass, the sentiment behind it is real. Scotland joined Great Britain when the ethnically independent state was in bankruptcy and needed its stronger sister country to continue to function. That was centuries ago, and many in Scotland feel that there are not longer the strong ties that once existed, and, like the Americans in 1776. that their representation and voice is not fairly heard in the constantly shifting political atmosphere of the Parliament and Prime Ministers office.

The cello belonging to the late Bernard Greenhouse from the Beaux Arts Trio  goes up for auction tomorrow. The instrument is one of only 60 cellos in the world today that were made by the master Antonio Stradivari and is expected to fetch a price in the millions.

This week at Guantanamo Bay prison, there will be a hearing in the military trail of the man alleged to be behind the 2000 attack on the USS Cole.   Guantanamo just marked the ten year anniversary of its use as a detention center for suspected terrorists and the trial marks a new phase for the prison.   This is the first trial that will use the "reformed" military trial commitments (rules). The rules are closer to civilian Federal Court. Unlike traditional military tribunals, the terrorism trials will include heavy participation by the Department of Justice and civilian lawyers. Congress has made it impossible to try suspected terrorist in civilian court in the US, insisting on tough military justice where the burden of proof lies on both the prosecution and the defendant, not just the prosecutor.

Last night, five presidential candidates (all except Ron Paul) gathered in Charleston, South Carolina, for a candidate forum hosted by Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister, who ran for president in 2008.

Mitt Romney has only ten delegates. His opponents all see a long road ahead with the potential of major changes once the conservative base has had its voice heard. Meanwhile reports from both states that have weighed in so far say that Romney and Libertarian leaning Ron Paul have attracted conservative voters who may agree with all their policies but feel that a candidate with the potential to grab the center and democratic voters away from Barack Obama are the direction the Republican Party should take.

While the forum was taping, more than 150 conservative Christian leaders spent the weekend in Texas for two days of meetings about the presidential race and the possibility of coalescing around one Republican candidate. They've rallied around Rick Santorum. Meanwhile a moderate, Romney, remains the front runner. Conservatives have a growing concern that Republicans not repeat what happened in 2008. There is desire to put "America back on the right path." They feel that it is time to change the "present course of events" and that God is on their side in "saving" the nation.

Six months ago, the people of South Sudan voted to break away from their former rulers in the North and  form a new nation.   The US played a key role in South Sudan's independence but now is worried  about growing ethnic violence there as well as ongoing tensions between north and south.