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Sunday, February 19, 2012

'Arrietty': The Borrowers' Tiny World Comes Alive in new film!

The new film The Secret World of Arrietty is based on Mary Norton's celebrated 1952 novel The Borrowers. It's about a race of tiny people who live among us but prefer to go unseen.

2012 Awards Season as of February 19, 2012

Santorums definition of why we are paid what we are paid...our value.

"There will always be poor as in America we are compensated for our contributions, and our income reflects our value."

-Rick Santorum

What about teachers, artists, musicians, social workers, ministers and clergy, philosphers, all those service industry professionals who provide us with food, a place to sleep, entertainment and the things we need to make it through a day, week, month or year?

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

Nature photographers are flocking to Yosemite National Park hoping to catch a glimpse of a rare phenomenon that happens only in mid-February. That's when the setting sun hits an ephemeral waterfall on El
Capitan at just the right angle, making it appear as if lava is flowing over the top. It lasts for only about two minutes while the earth and sun are optimally aligned.  The spectacle that transforms Horsetail fall is reminiscent of the old firefall of embers that occurred nightly off Glacier Point until 1968. But this natural fire fall had gone largely unnoticed until 1973. Internet chats have spread the word and hundreds of photographers hoping for clear skies will converge until February 24, when the sun's angle changes and it disappears for another year.

Jim Preacher couldn't wait nine more days to become mayor of the tiny town of Norway. So he had a friend climb into Town Hall through an unlocked window and let him in so he could change the locks and take over the town's checkbook. He's even pulled over a state trooper who wrote him a speeding ticket.  The 66-year-old mayor half-heatedly apologizes for bringing bad publicity to the town 50 miles south of Columbia.  But he also leaves no doubt he has big plans to try to save Norway, which hasn't written a budget in years, has lost so much revenue it disbanded its police department and currently uses Preacher to read meters, run its water system and do the rest of the towns business.

President Barack Obama has told Muhammad Ali through a video message that he shocked and inspired the world, and continues to do so today. Obama's message was one of dozens celebrating the icon, delivered to 2,000 people attending a swanky dinner gala last nigh here in Las Vegas to celebrate Ali's 70th birthday and raise funds for brain research. Ali turned 70 last month.

An adviser to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign says GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum went "well over the line" when he questioned Obama's Christian values. Robert Gibbs tells ABC's "This Week" that it's time "to get rid of this mindset in our politics that, if we disagree, we have to question character and faith." Gibbs says the country would be better served if presidential candidates focused instead on the economic challenges faced by the middle class. Santorum said on Saturday that Obama's agenda is tied to "some phony theology" not based on the Bible. Gibbs' forceful rebuke suggests Obama's campaign is taking Santorum more seriously these days as a potential general election challenger.

Newt Gingrich says he and other GOP presidential candidates must win their home-turf contests or face serious questions about continuing in the race. Gingrich tells "Fox News Sunday" that if Mitt Romney loses in Michigan, which is next to vote on Feb. 28, "I don't see what he says the next morning to his donors to stay in the race."   But Gingrich also acknowledges that he must win in Georgia, which votes on March 6 - and the same is true for Rick Santorum and the Pennsylvania primary in April. He says lose and risk becoming "a very, very damaged candidate." Gingrich stopped short of saying he would drop out if he lost Georgia "given the chaos of this race."

If Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination for president, he'll face the urgent task of inspiring the party's conservative core and rallying them to beat President Barack Obama. Judging by his performances so far, he's got his work cut out for him. Even Republicans who think he'll be the nominee worry about whether he can generate the intensity to beat Obama.  Party leaders and activists say Romney has made strides. But, they say, he needs to do more to convince the Republican base that he's running to fundamentally reverse the nation's course. Romney leads in the delegate count for the nomination. But the challenge from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in Michigan going into the Feb. 28 primary, points to doubts about Romney's ability to ignite the GOP base.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival has announced plans to build a $26.5 million theater in an effort to lure more visitors and provide a greater economic boost to the southern Utah region. Festival organizers say construction of the new 900-seat theater on the Southern Utah University campus in Cedar City is expected to begin in fall 2013 and be completed by 2015. The Deseret News reports most of the money has been raised, but $8.5 million is still needed for the project. Festival founder Fred Adams says as the festival has grown, a larger, more modern theater with a retractable roof has been sought to attract more than the 150,000 visitors who attend each summer and fall. The current open-air Adams Theater has been in use for more than 35 years.
Utah has marked its 10th anniversary of hosting the 2002 Winter Games with a festival featuring interactive booths, a giant screen showing highlights of the event and appearances by current and former Olympic stars. Participants say Saturday's Olympic Sports Festival in Salt Lake City is stirring memories of what they consider a highly successful, entertaining event.  Former volunteer Chris Coombs says some of her favorite times at the 2002 Games involved milling with people from all over the world on Salt Lake City's streets at night. Fraser Bullock, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's No. 2 executive, says the opening ceremonies watched by two billion people around the world remain one of his most vivid memories of the Games. His former boss, Mitt Romney, appeared at the festival.

Santorum have criticized Romney for helping to secure millions in federal earmarks that helped cover Olympic costs. Romney's campaign says most of the money went to provide security in the wake of Sept. 11.

Hundreds of cars are circling central Moscow to demand that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin allow free elections in Russia. As they travel along the wide Garden Ring, which makes a 16-kilometer (nearly 10-mile) loop around the Kremlin, the cars are flying the white ribbons and balloons that have become a symbol of the peaceful anti-Putin protest movement. Sunday's demonstration is taking place two weeks before the presidential election that Putin is expected to win. None of the four challengers to him poses a serious threat, but Putin does need to get a majority of the vote to avoid a runoff. A similar protest in support of Putin drew at least 2,000 cars late Saturday. Putin's supporters have been trying to counter the opposition protests by showing that they too can bring people out onto the street.

The Vatican's new American envoy to Ireland says Pope Benedict XVI has been "relentless and consistent" in seeking to oust child abusers from the priesthood worldwide. Archbishop Charles Brown spoke Sunday at his first public Mass following his arrival in Ireland, a traditionally Catholic land rattled by nearly two decades of pedophile-priest scandals.  The 52-year-old Brown, a Manhattan native, has never been a Vatican diplomat before.He spent a decade working alongside today's pope inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That powerful Vatican body enforces church policies, including the removal of pedophiles from the priesthood. Ireland accuses the Vatican of undermining several state-ordered probes into the church's cover-up of abuse crimes.

UNLV ponders how its role will change after Smith Center

We're about to give birth.

Baby will be born a prince.

Which will leave its noble but nonroyal sibling ... where?

Dynamics of familial relations within our cultural clan will be intriguing to watch come March. That's when the Smith Center for the Performing Arts makes its ballyhooed entrance downtown, immediately catapulting to the status of Grand Exalted Mystic Arts Pooh-Bah, certain to eclipse -- though not replace -- the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, our longtime performing arts hub.

New Smith Center packs plenty of 'wow factor'

New Smith Center packs plenty of 'wow factor'

New Smith Center packs plenty of 'wow factor'

Myron Martin, president and CEO of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, strikes a pose Monday onstage in Reynolds Hall, the heart of the center, at 361 Symphony Park in Las Vegas. The center's performance spaces, lobby and overall design will likely leave visitors impressed. Today's Las Vegas Review Journal takes us inside the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

For Catholics Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Easter season.

Fewer people may be traveling for Easter and even fewer this summer. The national average for unleaded gas has risen to $3.50 a gallon only three times in history. This year's rise to that threshold is the earliest ever, and the Department of Energy suggests that prices could near $5 a gallon by the start of the summer driving season. The reason may make you angry. We have plenty of gasoline and fuel oil, so much that we are running out of storage space. Refineries are slowing or shutting down, some for financial reasons (profit margins have become a loss instead of a profit for many of the older plants) and some because there is no demand for additional refined product. So why isn't gas cheap? Because investors / speculators are driving prices up, in anticipation of disruptions in the Middle East and the cost of new exploration around the world, and resulting future profits. 

Not everyone is out to make money. In Missouri farm country, a physicist has started a workshop to build open source prototypes of the industrial machines needed for modern civilization. Completed prototypes of a hydraulic power cube, tractor and compressed earth brick press are functioning on the Open Source Ecology farm in Maysville, Missouri. The machines have been replicated and are now being used in Texas, Indiana and California. The physicist-turned-farmer, Marcin Jokubowski, says the design and production of this open source hardware has profound implications for both the developing and developed world.

70 years ago today President Roosevelt signed an executive order interring Japanese Americans from "zones" (mostly Hawaii and California) in what amounted to prison camps. Camps were later set up in urban cities in the Midwest and east for Japanese and German Americans who were thought sympathetic to the Axis. Despite being treated as foreign prisoners, most internees remained patriotic and loyal to the US. Units made up of German Americans fought in the Pacific against the Japanese, and Japanese American units, all volunteers.

One in 12 marriages are now interracial, according to government statistics. Increased in Hispanic and Asian population are the factors, as marriage between blacks and whites remains stable, although more accepted than in decades past. It is important to note that one partner does not need to classify as "white" to constitute an interracial marriage.

Peggielene Bartels was a secretary at the Embassy of Ghana in Washington, D.C., when she discovered she had been named king of a Ghanaian village at age 55. She became the first female leader of a male-dominated community thousands of miles away from her home in the U.S. Her new book is called "King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village."

A digital publishing conference in New York attracted entrepreneurs and innovators more excited than afraid of the transition from print to e-books.  If you have had the opportunity to watch any 5 to 10 year old you will find them using iPads and other pad computers with ease. They prefer color, movement and sound. Many feel that the future of publishing will have to be electronic and interactive to keep a literate America a reality. In addition textbooks and non-fiction can be updated rapidly and with ease, rather than waiting for the expense and time of a new edition print run. Of course the biggest advantage is that e-books may lower cost and increase profits. "May"is the key word, as, depending on the book, there are additional expenses for programmers, graphic artists, video professionals and voice talent.

Self publishing has never been lower in cost. Electronic publishing allows writers to write what they want and offer it on-line, sell by the unit and build and audience. The printing press has been democratised allowing writers to do what they like, with optional editing and print editions only when they can afford it or there is a demand. Much of the on-line books are fluid, meaning the author can change them at will, instead of being fixed in ink and paper. Readership may be small, but a larger dollar amount goes to the author and the ability for fast feedback and communication through websites, discussion boards and e-mail is a welcome one for most writers, changing how the entire industry operates.

The Los Angeles film community is upset about a new bright green bike lane on Spring Street in Los Angeles. The shade of green, and the placement of the bike lane have angered film crews, who normally use the street as a stand-in for metropolitan areas around the country, and for several eras. The change represents a loss of revenue for the industry and the heavily used location.

A protest movement, led by rappers and a journalist, has taken off in Senegal. It's called Y'en a Marre (yon a mar) which, in French slang, means "Enough is enough, we're fed up." The youthful citizens' movement rapidly gained popularity. Its first goal was to mobilize youth and disgruntled voters, ahead of the presidential election (on Feb. 26). The second was to put pressure on Senegal's politicians to focus on the people.

Student loan debt is now higher than credit card debt. Escalating tuition, book costs and cost of living in this "post" recession period are costing students more than ever before. Cuts by states in schools, leading to a decrease in experienced faculty, majors, classes and class sections, have made much higher costing private schools attractive. These schools can guarantee the courses and the faculty, although there are other issues under constant investigation by the government. 

Zabadani, the regime had negotiated a cease-fire with local elders. But the following day, government troops launched an assault that looks very much like the one in Homs -- relentless shelling of civilian neighborhoods followed by  house-to-house raids. Unlike in Homs, the Free Army in Zabadani has melted away. And the civilians are paying the price. A simliar offensive is now being launched in Daraa. This latest offensive makes it impossible for the international community to ignore the bloodshed, but still, analysts say "cheap" solutions like arming the opposition would only make matters worse.