Century 21 10 th yr
Century 21 2010- AD
Jan 1 North Korea announces its desire for "peace and
stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of Asia" and an "end
to the hostile relationship between [it] and the USA."
Jan 2 A turn of the year look back at the recent economic
crisis has led the News Hour'sPaul Solmon to confront some economists
and ask why they did not warn the country of the impending financial
meltdown. For months that meltdown has been described as a "black
swan," the title of a sophomoric book about the induction fallacy. The
answer Solmon received did not point to a black swan. It pointed to a
lack of transparency. Shallow men managing huge sums of money were
allowed to do what they were doing - and did not understand - from
economists, including the one pictured, whose job it is to understand
what is happening economically.
Jan 8 For fourteen days the top news story in the US is an
al-Qaeda operative traveling on an airplane and the bomb in his
underpants failing to explode. He is a Nigerian who met other al-Qaeda
people in Yemen, described a the latest failed state. President Obama
is taking full responsibility for the underpants bomber being allowed
on the airplane, with a visa, in Amsterdam. Machines that do full body
scans are being put into operation at airports, where longer waits and
more intense searches have been taking place.
Jan 8 Some Republicans are attacking President Obama for
trying the underpants bomber in a civilian rather than a military
court. "This is sending the wrong signal," says conservative talker
Monica Crowley. Another conservative, Pat Buchanan, agrees. The right
is sticking to its stance that we must appear tough, including a
willingness to waterboard. Obama appears to be trying to show the
Muslim world the high quality of the US system of jurisprudence. The
Bush administration put the 2001 airline shoe bomber on trial in a
civil court in 2004.
Jan 10 In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court rules that the
First Amendment prohibits government from restricting independent
political expenditures by corporations and unions. The case is Citizens
United v. Federal Election Commission. The majority argues that the
First Amendment purposefully keeps the government from interfering in
the "marketplace of ideas" and "rationing" speech, and it is not for
the legislatures or the courts to create a sense of "fairness" by
Jan 12 Hope is being expressed in developing Haiti's garment
industry. Haiti's population growth is well above average - at 2
percent per year. The population is something like 18 times what it was
at independence in the beginning of the 1800s. Haiti is one of the more
densely populated places in the world, with only 70 percent of the
people working, where imports ruin the balance of payments. Haiti will
be competing with the garment industries of China, Vietnam, India,
Honduras and elsewhere. Haiti needs a better ratio between its
population numbers and its agricultural production. But putting hope in
manufacturing, Bill Clinton speaks of an opportunity for investors and
for "the people of Haiti to have a more secure and a more broadly
shared, prosperous future" in a program of garment manufacturing.
Jan 13 Minutes after the above posting a 7.0 earthquake
struck Haiti, centered ten miles southwest of Haiti's major population
center, Port-au-Prince. Lacking a fire department, fires raged
unattended. Thousands are said to be dead. Greater population density
makes more death. CNN says about one-third of the population
(three-million) is affected.
Jan 13 Pope Benedict XVI announces that he gives his "prayers
to the Lord for the victims of [the Haiti] catastrophe" and that he is
"imploring God to bring them consolation and relief in their suffering."
Jan 14 On the disaster in Haiti, Claire Shipman and Devin
Dwyer write that "The earthquake in Haiti is a tragedy of such
gargantuan proportion that it's natural to wonder how - or why - any
God, if there is a God, could allow it." The Reverend Pat Robertson
enters his own opinion on the quake and the supernatural. He considers
the earthquake tragic and sad, no question about it. But he describes
it as the result of a couple of centuries ago when the Haitians "got
together and swore a pact to the Devil." Competing comments that
connect the disaster in Haiti with humanity being responsible for what
it creates are difficult to find. Right now it is emergency relief and
appearing to care that preoccupies the minds of people with influence
and power. Meanwhile, some who don't put their hope in godly
interventions believe that unless humanity stops setting itself up
rather than being proactive regarding nature's forces, big disasters
will continue in Haiti and the world in general.
Jan 16 Commentators are criticizing people for applying
perspective to the Haiti crisis as if people can't favor rescue and
critically analyze at the same time. Comedian Jon Stewart is among the
outraged pontificators, against Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. Another of the
violators of let's-think-rescue-only rule is Amy Wilentz. She begins
the lead piece at the Huffington Post as follows: "One reason there are
so many dead in Haiti is that agriculture in the countryside was no
longer providing a livelihood for Haitian peasants; they moved in the
thousands to the capital."
Jan 17 It is Sunday, CNN's Zakaria's television program has
guests, including the aforementioned Amy Wilentz, giving their
perspective on Haiti. Haiti's isolation following its independence in
the early 1800s is mentioned as a disadvantage that Haiti has suffered.
Poverty is mentioned but population growth as a contributor to that
poverty is not. It is as though mentioning it is impolite. Later in the
show, Zakaria speaks of poverty in Yemen and Yemen being 4th in
population growth rate. Haiti is 70th at a 1.84 percent increase every
year. The US is 129th at 0.98 percent - 3 million more people every
year or ten new cities of 300,000. Predominately Roman Catholic Italy
and Poland, by the way, are among those countries with a negative
Jan 18 About the disaster in Haiti, Ann Applebaum of the
Washington Post writes that she has donated money to Doctors Without
Borders. She adds: "I have no illusions about anyone's ability to help,
for this is not just a natural disaster: It is a man-made disaster
first and foremost, and so it will remain."
Jan 18 Conservative billionaire Sebastian Pinera is elected
President of Chile - the first popularly elected conservative in over
50 years. He will replace moderate socialist and professed agnostic
Michelle Bachelet, president since March 2006, by law serving only one
four-year term. Pinera promises law-and-order and to boost the economy.
And he promises to continue Bachelet's popular social policies.
Presumably this includes her pension reform and social protections for
women and children. As in Britain, conservatives have not been eager to
overturn popular leftist social legislation.
Jan 20 In Malaysia, eight people have been arrested for
firebombing a Christian church. Malaysia has Muslims who object to
Christians referring to their god, Jehovah, as Allah. In Malaysia,
attempts at enforcing religious totalitarianism is in conflict with the
government's desire to maintain ethnic harmony.
Jan 20 In Equador, socialist President Rafael Correa's
approval rating has dropped to 42 percent, from the 72 percent he
enjoyed when he took office three years ago Economic problems plague
Jan 21 More bubble resistence in China. Bank of China Ltd.
orders its credit officials to stop making new loans because of recent
lending growth. Asian stocks decline (no claim here as to why).
Jan 21 Paul Volcker, an economic advisor to President Obama,
has been talking about reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act,
since October. Today the Dow drops 213 points and the Wall Street
Journal pretends to know why. Referring to President Obama, the journal
writes, "US Stocks Drop On Concerns Over Bank Restriction Plans." A
guest congressman on the News Hour blames Obama for creating market
instability. He is a Republican, of course. On the 19th the Dow closed
at a 14th-month high, suggesting that profit-taking was in order.
Jan 21 Today the Canadian stock market at Toronto also
decline sharply. The Toronto Star mentions tightening credit in China
as well as bank reform by Obama.
Jan 22 In the US the "media" is an on-going issue. From the
Right has come accusations of an over-riding power of the liberal
media. Today, Bill O'Reilly of Fox News declares the collapse of the
"Far Left media." On this subject, in his "Talking Points Memo," he
complains that the "liberal media isn't telling you the truth," and he
describes the US as "moving to the Right very quickly." Meanwhile,
according to Alexa.com, the New York Times has between 1 and 1.5
percent of the internet traffic, the Huffington Post 0.6 percent andFox
News 0.5 percent. And National Public Radio is reaching over 20 million
every week. And President Obama's approval ratings continue at around
Jan 24 Since last week, according to Human Rights Watch, 364
Muslims have been killed in north-central Nigeria. Christians have been
on a rampage against Muslims. Thousands have fled their homes. Shops
and homes numbering 1,000 are said to have been destroyed in an
inferno. It is claimed that 150 bodies have been found in wells. The
local Catholic Archbishop, Ignatius Kaigama, has told the BBC that the
real cause of the violence is not religion but rather "the struggle for
ethnic and political superiority" in the city of Jos.
Jan 24 Correction. President Obama's approval rating is down
to 47 percent. It is equal to his disapproval rating - his worst since
taking office. Presumption that this is a move by the public to the
right (see Jan 22) discounts the likelihood of growing dissatisfaction
from the center and left-of-center.
Jan 25 Osama bin Laden has issued a one-minute statement in which he
describes al-Qaeda's goal. He warns that there would be attacks against
the US until there is peace in Palestine.
Feb 1 According to the BBC, the Somali group al-Shabaab has
confirmed that it is aligned with "the international jihad led by the
Feb 1 President Barack Obama announces a $3.8 trillion budget
for 2011 that includes increased spending for job creation. He
forecasts a $1.56 trillion deficit for this year. The gross national
debt today is $1.29 trillion. It's estimated at 86 percent of GDP.
Feb 1 Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes appeared
yesterday on ABC's "This Week." Ailes is considered by some liberals in
the US to be a cynical mediocrity with too much power. According to the
Huffingting he mischaracterized Fox commentator Glenn Beck's
warning back in October of a "slaughter" and a "killing spree." Ailes
distorted a comment about him on the Huffington Post. Ailes didn't
answer Paul Krugman's specific example of deliberate misinformation at
Fox. Responding to Ailes' explanations, Arianna Huffington said that
"words matter." Ailes said that people were not stupid and ended by
pointing to Fox News as a leading success in ratings and saying that he
was in the ratings business.
Feb 2 Recently in Mumbai, India, an 11-year-old girl hanged
herself. Suicide among children is rising to more than one per day in
Mumbai, said to be their escape from pressure to perform well on exams.
A spokesperson for the World Health Organization says that around the
world more people are dying from suicide than from homicides and wars
Feb 6 Police in Turkey have dug up the body of a teenage girl
with large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach, telling them that
she was buried alive. Her hands were tied behind her back. The girl's
father and grandfather are to be tried for her murder. The two are
reported as having adhered to an old tribal tradition: killing the girl
in order to bring honor back to their family. The father is reported as
saying: "She has male friends. We're uneasy about that." The incident
took place in the mostly Kurdish town of Kahta. It is described as a
stronghold of the Naksibendi Islamic sect, banned by Ataturk
in 1925. But the sect has revived in recent years. The Turkish people,
mostly Muslim, are reported to support fully the criminal proceedings
against the girl's murderers.
Feb 7 The Tea Party convened at
Nashville yesterday. Comments from the podium and the floor suggested
another anti-incombency movement - as in the slogan "Take Back Our
Country." As with previous anti-incumbency movements they derided
"politics." This was accompanied by urging people to run for office or
to help candidates and how to campaign effectively. They intimated that
they could do it better than today's incumbents because they are
sticking to "principles," suggesting that incumbents were without
principle. They expressed their intention not to enunciate a party
platform, which could divide them. And they spoke of things they are
against: the national debt, government spending and taxes. They cheered
enthusiastically when these sentiments were repeated by their evening
speaker, Sarah Palin. Will this anti-incumbency movement really change
things unlike previous anti-incumbency movements?
Feb 11 This week, Robert J. Samuelson writes in the
Washington Post about a lack of candor in American politics. "There's a
huge mismatch between Americans' desire for low taxes and high
government services," he writes. "The budget is mainly a vehicle for
transferring income to retirees from workers." And, "...there is no way
to close the massive deficits without big cuts in existing government
programs or stupendous tax increases."
Feb 15 China has in recent days exercised the socialist
aspect of its economy: the state has again, for the second time this
year, commanded its banks to increase their reserves - to prevent the
economy overheating (bubble growth). In China the banks do what the
state wants them to do. China's economy grew 10.7 percent during the
last three months of 2009.
Feb 17 The BBC reports that, unlike China, banks are not
acting as the government has wanted. Britain's government has spent
billions of its currency, the pound, trying to boost lending, and many
businesses are not getting the loans they need.
Feb 17 Yesterday at a news conference, President Ahmadinejad
responded to the possibility of new sanctions, saying, "If anyone does
anything against Iran, then our response won't be the same as in the
past. No, we will definitely react and make them regretful."
Feb 18 In Malaysia nine days ago three women were caned for
having an extra-marital sex. The women were prosecuted under Islamic
Feb 19 China summons the US ambassador to complain about the
Dalai Lama's visit to the United States. China describes the Dalai Lama
as having launched an armed rebellion in March 1959, having fled to
India where he formed a "Tibet government in exile," and since then
having aimed to split China and to undermine Tibet's social stability.
Feb 20 On the 18th, A. Joseph Stack III. an amateur pilot,
crashed his small airplane into a building in Austin, Texas, that
housed the Internal Revenue Service.
Feb 24 The President of Toyota Motor Corporation appears
before the US Congress Oversight and Government Reform Committee. This
gives the Toyota president an opportunity to speak to the US public.
But, with US congressmen never doing anything for show or
self-promotion, we in the United States don't expect serious
legislation as a product of the hearings.
Mar 1 American pundit Fareed Zakaria spoke in favor
of the Value Added Tax on his CNN broadcast yesterday. This is a tax
added to the cost of goods and services - a national sales tax. Zakaria
is upbeat about the United States and claims that the Value Added Tax
could eliminate the income tax for 90 percent of taxpayers, balance the
federal budget and fund health care for everybody. He adds, we need
leadership in Washington. Zakaria points out that the Value Added Tax
is used in 130 countries.
Mar 2 In the US, drivers are complaining that digital
billboards are distracting, visual noise and too bright - in addition
to wasting energy. One complainer
describes the problem as a no-brainer for normal people but apparently
not for state legislators.
Mar 4 In Texas, the old strategy of running against the bums
in Washington continues to play well with voters. Senator Kay Bailey
Hutchison ran with it in the 1992 election that took her to Washington.
In a primary race for governor, she was smashed by her fellow
Republican opponent, Governor "Rick" Perry. Perry associated her with
Washington and portrayed himself and Texans as outsiders. He finished
with a 20 percent lead over Hutchison and campaigned with slogans such
as "Quit spending all the money," "Stop trying to take over our lives
and our businesses," and "Stop messing with Texas!"
Mar 5 Egyptian author, Alaa al Aswany, is viewed on tape
yesterday on the News Hour saying that in Egypt more that seventeen TV
channels every day promote Wahabi ideas. He complains that "They are
against Shia, people of Iran. They are against even Muslims who are for
democracy, like myself, accusing me of being secular, against the
religion. They are against Jews, of course. They are against
Christians. They are against everybody who is not with them."
Mar 10 In Nigeria, Muslims have attacked a Christian
community near the city of Jos in revenge, it appears, for Christians
having killed Muslims back in January. Christians are burying their
dead and complaining about the absence of an application of state
military power in preventing the violence. Cycles of revenge between
neighbors are ages-old, but "experts" appearing on the News Hour last
night focused on economic conflict as the problem rather than religious
differences and humanity's stupidity. They did describe the problem of
Mar 17 Africa is going to need all the food it can get to
feed Africans. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is seeking to secure farmland in
Africa and elsewhere with which to grow food for its population. Like
much of Africa, Saudi Arabia has a high population growth rate.
Mar 19 A mob of Cubans find joy in heckling "Ladies in
White," who march to protest the continued imprisonment of 50 or so
dissidents. From among the mob comes the justification: "They are
against the revolution and we will defend the revolution until the
end." That the revolution is so shakey that it is jeopardized by a few
women in white remains unknown.
Mar 22 Last night in the US, amid great emotion, Democrats
passed a health care bill. The bill is now awaiting President Obama's
signature. According to today's Washington Post, Democrats with police
protection had to pass by a massive crowd in front of the Capitol
building shouting insults, including racial epithets at Congressman
John Lewis, anti-gay epithets at Congressman Barney Frank, and insults
such as: "You communists! You socialists! You hate America!"
Mar 23 President Obama signs into law the health care bill,
titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Among the
provisions: Health Insurers cannot deny children insurance based on
pre-existing conditions. New plans must cover preventative care and
routine examinations. Insurance companies cannot deny coverage to
someone after he or she becomes ill. Insurers must reveal how much is
spent on overhead. New procedures will be implemented to help eliminate
fraud and waste. The bill in Ralph Nader's words, "...does not provide
coverage that is universal, comprehensive or affordable."
Mar 23 Conservative pundits with brains, Michael Gerson and
George Will, go on record today complaining that the health care bill
that President Obama is signing into law, today, is an irresponsible
burden added to a structure of entitlements that is already precarious
- in short, that the US cannot afford to have a health care that does
not come close to what Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, et cetera,
provide their citizens. George Will writes that improvements in the
health care system promised by the Democrats is implausible and that
America's dynamism, and hence upward social mobility, will slow. Time
Mar 24 Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry announces the arrest
of 113 al-Qaeda militants who were planning terrorist attacks on
targets inside the country, including oil installations.
Mar 26 Sweden best uses information technology and
communications according to a new report from World Economic Ranking
(WEF). The US - thought by some of its citizens to be the most
innovative of nations - ranks 5th. Singapore ranks 2nd and Denmark 3rd.
China and India rank 37th and 43rd, well ahead of many other developing
Mar 30 President Obama signs into law a bill that ends
federal government subsidies and guarantees to banks as middlemen in
government loans to students. Cutting out the middleman, said the
president, would save the government $68 billion over 10 years.
Mar 31 In Zimbabwe a new law introduced this week intends to
correct the legacies of colonialism. China has been integrating its
economy with foreign investors, but the pseudo Marxist Robert Mugabe
wants to give black Zimbabweans control in almost all companies. The
new law, according to the BBC, seeks also "to prevent white people from
owning things like hairdressing and beauty salons." Under Mugabe's
rule, Zimbabwe has developed the world's worst economy, and it is among
the worst politically. Meanwhile, a member of Mugabe's political party,
Saviour Kasukuwere, complains as did toadies for Saddam Hussein during
President Clinton's administration. Kasakuwere says "Our children are
dying because of sanctions."
Sari Dewi Shukarnor
Apr 1 In Malaysia, Ms. Kartika, who had pleaded guilty to
having a beer, has her punishment commuted. Under Islamic law she was
to have been beaten with six strokes with a rattan cane. The Muslim
officials in charge of Islamic(Sharia) law have ordered her to do
community service instead. In Malaysia, Islamic law applies only to
Muslims. If you are a Chinese Buddhist or atheistic woman you can sip
beer without concern.
Apr 1 In Kansas, Scott Roeder is sentenced to life
imprisonment for the murder of George Tiller, a doctor who performed
abortions. Speaking to the court, a highly emotional Roeder was extreme
in his lack of modesty. He expressed belief that he was morally
superior to the man he murdered. And, like Timothy McVeigh, he claims
the moral right to a violence that supercedes the laws against such
violence created by society as a whole. And he claims knowledge of what
was on God's mind, namely God's approval. In court, a representative of
the Tiller family characterized Roeder as a terrorist and fanatic.
Apr 2 In the Gaza Strip, Hamas leaders announce their
intentions to control rogue groups who are committing violence against
Israelis. Hamas leaders are supporting restraint. They speak of the
need for unity and calm for the "national interest." Yesterday,
Israel's air force committed 13 air strikes in the Gaza Strip in
retaliation for attacks that killed two Israeli occupation soldiers.
Apr 5 Massimo Salani, an Italian professor of the history of
religion, has expressed concern that Catholics are forgetting about
self-denial at the table. Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes is in agreement
and speaks of the seriousness with which Muslims abstain from food and
water until sunset during their holy month.
Apr 6 An earthquake at the Mexican-California border has
inspired a warning from emergency officials that budget cuts have
strained their ability to handle a serious earthquake disaster. Lou
Paulson, president of the California Professional Firefighters, is
among those who are concerned. California's governor, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, has proposed a 4.8 percent surcharge on property
insurance to provide new financing for emergency preparedness, but it
faces uncertain prospects in the state legislature, where Republicans
are blocking anything resembling a tax. Californians have grown in
affluence since World War II, but, like those who win the lottery and
end up committing suicide, some people don't manage affluence well.
Many Californians are putting the highest priority on their ability to
purchase frivolous stuff. Just a little of the money spent on junk food
going to taxes, for example, might solve California's budget crisis in
addition to reducing their fat.
Apr 7 More unrest In Thailand. Supporters of Thaksin
Shinawatra, driven from the office by a military coup in 2006, have
converged on the capital, demanding elections and democracy. They view
the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as illegitimate.
Prime Minister Abhisit declares a state of emergency and, in an address
to the nation, speaks of the need for law and order as if that is what
Apr 8 In Kyrgyzstan, anti-government demonstrators in three
cities seem to have overwhelmed government forces after a day of bloody
violence. They are protesting the arrest of opposition leaders, rising
prices and what they perceive to be corruption. An opposition leader,
Roza Otunbayeva, is now described as Kyrgyzstan's president and
announces that an interim government, a people's government, has taken
power and will create a new constitution.
Apr 8 Kyrgyzstan's former president, Bakiyev, is in the city
of Osh, where he has his greatest support. He admits he has lost
control of security forces. That suggests that his position is
hopeless, but he still claims to be the president. There is anger among
anti-Bakieyev people that forces were shooting to kill demonstrators,
hitting them in the head rather than the legs. Shop owners expect more
trouble. They fear people flooding into the capital and are defending
their homes with rifles. Their shops have already been emptied.
Bakiyev's political party dominates parliament. It appears that people
were willing to risk their lives rather than wait for elections to
replace an unpopular government because they had no confidence that
elections would be honest. Bakiyev's landslide reelection in July 2009
is widely considered to have been unfair. Writes the New York Times,
"Prior to those elections, journalists were arrested, prosecuted and
even killed." And election observers noted ballot stuffing,
intimidation and media bias.
Apr 19 In Thailand the conflict with the "Red
Shirts" remains tense. The Red Shirts, according to the BBC, have
support among the rural poor and they have the support of "some urban
intellectuals who want to see more democracy and less military
influence in the country." The Red Shirts are occupying portions of the
capital, Bangkok. Against them are the "Yellow Shirts," a loose group
of "royalists, businessmen and the urban middle class," and against
them is the monarchy. The hero of the Red Shirts is Thaksin Shinawatra,
who was overthrown by the military in September, 1946. The Red Shirts
see today's government as illegitimate and want new elections. The
government does not want to give in to Red Shirt demands.
Apr 20 Leading Friday's prayers in Iran's capital, Teheran, a
senior cleric, Hojjat Sediqi, said, according to the BBC, "Many women
who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in
society, which causes earthquakes."
Apr 22 Public Broadcasting/s News Hour reports a
colonial-like arrangement in which foreign investors are buying land in
Ethiopia. Local farmers lack the technology to fully exploit the land.
(Ethiopian farmers are still plowing with oxen.) Food from the land
will feed people abroad. Ethiopian farmers are not benefitting from
their government's land policy. The head of Ethiopia's government,
Meles Zenawi, has been in power since 1992. He took power with a
Marxist Party that was part of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary
Democratic Front coalition.
Apr 23 The Washington Post has reported that the federal
government's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to put
limits on the amount of salt in food that is sold to the public - to
better public health, of course. People would still be able to add as
much salt to their food as they like. But conservatives Monica Crowley
and Pat Buchanan, on the McLaughlin Group on PBS television, are
alarmed and complain about a government takeover of our salk shakers.
Apr 24 A study published this past week in the Journal of the
American Medical Association indicates that added sugars in processed
foods are a problem for the public's cholesterol levels and hearts.
Much of the bread sold in supermarkets tastes a little like cake rather
than the way real bread tastes, but many of the nation's obese do not
know what real bread tastes like and don't care.
Apr 27 South Korea's woman mountain climber, Oh Eun-sun,
reaches the top of Annapurna in Nepal and claims to be the first woman
to scale the world's 14 highest peaks.
Apr 27 Goldman Sachs executives face a hostile Senate
subcommittee today and speak of offering investment opportunities to
their clients. Some others sophisticated about Wall Street have been
describing Goldman Sachs as a less than honest bookie. In the hearings
the Republican senator from Nevada, John Ensign, says that, “People
come to Las Vegas to gamble knowing that the odds are against them.
However, Wall Street is taking this to a whole new level by
manipulating the odds while Americans are in the middle of playing the
Apr 27 Greek government officials have lied about the extent of its
debt. Standard & Poor's lowers Greece's bond rating to "junk."
Stock markets tumble. The Dow today drops 2 percent (213 points) to
Apr 28 Debt in Greece is being described as threatening
financial stability in Europe and economic recovery in the United
States. Debt in Spain, Portugal and Ireland add to the uncertainty.
Spain's bond rating has dropped from AA+ to AA. The BBC says that
Greece has been living beyond its means in recent years, and it speaks
of "widespread tax evasion." Pessimists foresee a financial crash for
Europe similar to the melt-down in Argentina at the turn of the
century. US industrials (the Dow) was up 53 points today. The US dollar
of course is up relative to the Euro.
Apr 28 According to National Geographic's website, a team of
evangelical Christians claim to have found "remains of Noah's Ark
beneath snow and volcanic debris on Turkey's Mount Ararat." The website
quotes the archaeologist Paul Zimansky: "I don't know of any expedition
that ever went looking for the ark and didn't find it."
May 2 Unable to stimulate their economy because of massive
debt combined with new austerity measures will create hardship for
Greeks. Many are saying that for the Greeks the party is over. Tax
evasions as a way of life is said to be at an end, and taxes are going
up. For many, eating out and regular runs to movie houses are out.
Unemployment is expected to rise.
May 3 In the Washington Post, David Ignatius expresses
skepticism that the $145 billion bailout plan adopted yesterday will
work. He describes the plan as "one of the most severe austerity
programs, on paper at least, ever proposed for a developed country."
There will be big cuts in public sector wages and pensions for three
years. "For every five government workers who leave their jobs, only
one will be hired." Also, the Greeks will be asked to change their
financial culture, and Ignatius has his doubts about this or a needed
cultural change elsewhere in the European Union. His colleague at the
Washington Post, Sebastian Mallaby, worries that bailing out Greece
will do little for the discipline needed elsewhere in the European
May 4 Conan O'Brien, the comic with the pompadour, on Sixty
Minutes two days ago spoke of his being fired from NBC's the Tonight
Show. "I wish it had ended differently," he said. "But, I'm fine. I do
believe, and this might be my Catholic upbringing or Irish magical
thinking, but I think things happen for a reason. I really do." O'Brien
has a B.A. in History from Harvard. His fatalism negates the idea held
by historians that history is created by people interacting with each
other and their environment. Oh well!
May 5 Another failed bombing in the US, on May 2, at Times
Square in New York City. It was more ineptitude by the perpetrators and
more luck for the United States. The bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was taken
into custody yesterday. He is a US citizen who came to the US from
Pakistan as a student in 1999. He recently had to give up the house he
May 5 The Greeks are not producing as much wealth as people
in Germany, but there are people in Greece who believe they should
enjoy benefits that exceed that of Germans. Today they are striking
against their government's austerity program. Three have died. Greece's
Communist Party has joined the strike.
May 6 A hyperbolic newscaster on television described today
as the worst day ever on Wall Street. The Dow dropped almost 1000
points but ended the day down 347.80 - at 10,520. A computer glich is
supposed to have kicked in selling that was not supposed to have
occurred. Some quick traders made a lot of money on the spring back
from today's bottom. Google's stock opened the day at 509, rose to
517.52, fell to 460, ended the day at 498 and fell to 492 in
after-hours panic trading.
May 6 Today Greece's parliament passed a tough austerity
package, while a strike and demonstrations showed signs of fizzle.
Spain is the country to watch if you are nervous about fiscal crisis
contagion, the European Union and the Euro. News out of Spain yesterday
was encouraging for those not wanting economic disaster there.
May 7 Leaders of the 16 EU member states approve the
EU-International Monetary Fund loan of $145 billion to Greece. No news
in the US today about continuing rioting in Greece.
May 9 On Zakaria's GPS, professor and expert on the Middle
East, Fawaz Gerges, describes al Qaeda as no longer existing as a
centralized organization - as "a Mecca of Terror," adds the philosopher
Bernard Henri-Levy. Terrorism, the panelists agree, now springs (in
part at least) from the perception among some Muslims that the West is
at war with Islam.
May 10 The European Union has announced a $1 trillion package
to support the euro and prop up troubled European Union economies.
Stock markets surge. The Dow today gains 405 points. Google rises 26
points to $520 per share. But many remain skeptical, believing that a
widespread lack of discipline will cause the bailout to fail.
May 12 In Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, the disc jockey who
rode to power in March 2009 with the backing of the military, announces
that "in the interest of the nation" he will not be a candidate in the
election later this year. South Africa and France were among the powers
that disapproved of his move. Rajoelina has not been able to do what he
wanted to do. France, the former ruler of Madagascar, says Rajoelina's
decision would put Madagascar on a path to returning to constitutional
12 Research conducted by U.C. Santa Cruz has
claimed "that, in all probability, there was gene flow from
Neanderthals to modern humans." The
research indicates that modern ethnic groups other than African carry
traces of Neanderthal DNA. The guess is that Neanderthals mixed with
early humans in the Middle East just after they left Africa and before
the humans scattered around the globe. The study gauged Neanderthal DNA
as 99.7 percent identical to modern human DNA and chimpanzee DNA at
98.8 percent. No conclusive evidence exists of successful mating
between humans and chimps.
May 14 More genetics. The environment's impact on
genetic change is observed in people who live in high elevations in
Tibet. The BBC reports that University of Utah researchers have found
ten genes that have evolved in Tibetans that enable these Tibetans to
thrive at heights where others get sick.
May 14 In downtown Bangkok, troops fire tear gas and bullets.
Red-shirt protesters respond with stones, slingshots and homemade
rockets. It is said that 18 have been killed and 141 wounded.
Government forces are reported to be tightening their cordon around the
May 18 China's richest businessman until recently, Huang
Guangyu, is found guilty of bribery, insider trading and illegal
business practices. He is sentenced to 14 years in prison.
May 19 In Bangkok, Thailand, the army moves with full force
to clear red-shirt protesters from the city center. Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajiva describes it as returning "the country to peace and
order." The protesters disperse and set fires.
May 20 The New York Times reports that in Bangkok a small
group of exhausted protesters "filed out of a Buddhist temple where
they had taken refuge, bewildered and frightened, some in tears." They
faced a line of female police officers who told them, 'Don’t be afraid.
You’re safe now. Have a safe journey home."
May 21 For more than a week or two, people, probably in the
hundreds, have been saying that austerity programs by the Greeks and
other debt-ridden Europeans are not going to allow sufficient economic
recovery to avoid a financial-debt crisis, that the recent trillion
dollar bailout (see May 10) does not solve the problem. This is a
prediction that an international banking crisis is on the way.
Yesterday stock markets plunged. In the US, the Dow fell 379 points,
its biggest one-day drop since February 2009, ending the day at 10,068.
May 25 In Jamaica, Prime Minister Bruce Golding (the chief of
state is Queen Elizabeth) has given into pressures to extradict an old
ally, the "drug lord" or "public spirited business man," Christopher
Coke, to the United States. The result is a war that today has resulted
in 31 deaths according to the BBC.
May 28 Lenin's Bolshevik party supported labor unions and
strikes until they acquired power. In China today the Communist Party
is tolerating the strike at a Honda transmission factory in the
country's southeast. Reporters from state-controlled media are covering
the strike. According to the New York Times, at least a few government
officials and economists in China believe that Chinese workers should
have higher wages.
May 30 In Pakistan the police blame agents of the Taliban in
North Waziristan for yesterday's attack on two mosques in Lahore that
killed 93 people. The victims were Ahmadi Muslims, a group founded in
the 1800s. Historically, murder for conformity has not worked.
Jun 2 Spain's "socialist" prime minister, Jose Zapatero,
speaks of his government's intention to make it easier and cheaper for
firms to both hire and fire their workers - whether or not his reform
has the approval of organized labor. He sees it as vital for reform and
to address Spain's 20% unemployment problem.
Jun 6 World News writes the following headline: "Gaza
flotilla attack: A week that changed Middle East politics." It refers
to Israel's interception of six ships in international waters on May
30. Israel considers itself at war with Hamas, believing that Hamas is
at war with it. Israel believes that this gives it the right to
interdict ships in international waters (as the US did in 1962
regarding Russian ships heading to Cuba with missiles). The flotilla
had armed men aboard, and Israel sees the flotilla as having been
organized with provocation in mind. Turkish citizens were involved, and
Turkey complains. In the words of its foreign minister, "No country has
the right to touch our citizens in international waters." He adds that
Turkey "cannot tolerate [Israel's] blockade of Gaza."
Jun 7 Helen Thomas announces her retirement from journalism.
On May 27 she said of Israel, "Tell them to get the hell out of
Palestine ... they should go home [to] Poland, Germany ... America and
everywhere else." Everywhere else would include Egypt, Morocco and
other Muslim countries in the Middle East that Jews were obliged to
flee after the founding of Israel - a migration that is not about to be
Jun 8 In the Opinion section of today's Washington Post
(washingpost.com), Richard Cohen begins with "Ah, another teachable
moment!" With a bit of kindness toward Thomas, Cohen writes of "What
Helen Thomas missed." He writes of Jews who did attempt to "go home" to
Poland. "This resulted in the murder of about 1,500 of them ... by
Poles, either out of sheer ethnic hatred or fear they would lose their
(stolen) homes." Cohen has personal experience with postwar Poland.
Some Jews went to Germany for protection. And, as an aside, Cohen
writes a bit about General George S. Patton, in charge of US occupation
forces. He describes Patton as "a great man on the screen, a
contemptible bigot in real life."
Jun 11 Elections In the Netherlands, gives the center-right
VVD party one more seat (31) than the center-left labor party. The
leader of the center-right party could be the first prime minister from
its "political camp," writes the BBC, since World War I. The anti-Islam
party, the PVV, increased its seats in parliament from 9 to 24 - its
best finish to date - and it may join the VVD in a coalition government.
Jun 12 Gangs of Kyrgyz youths have been burning and looting
in Osh, in southern Kyrgyzstan - the center of support for the ousted
President Bakiyev, overthrown in April. The gangs have been attacking
Uzbeks, a large ethnic minority in the region. The Kyrgyz government
has given the order to shoot to kill. Nearly 80 are reported dead so
far and about 1,000 persons wounded.
Jun 14 Kyrgyz attacks on Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan,
including burning their homes, are described in the NYT as resentment
over Uzbek prosperity and Uzbeks as owners of many businesses (not
unlike the resentment against the Chinese in the Philippines,
Indonesia). Also, "ethnic Uzbeks have supported the new interim
government" and Kyrgyz in the south "have remained loyal" to Kurmanbek
Bakiyev, the president deposed in April.
Jun 15 Police in Delhi, India, arrest a man and his brother
for the murder of the man's 19-year-old daughter and her male friend -
an honor killing, that included binding the hands and feet of the two,
electrocuting them and beating them with iron rods. According to
police, the father was opposed to the relationship between the two
because the boy was from another caste. The BBC writes that
correspondents say the killings - "long a taboo subject in India - are
now being reported more often."
Jun 15 Insurance companies describe as an act of God a
lightning strike that burns down a 65-foot-tall statue of Jesus in
front of the Solid Rock Church near Monroe, Ohio. The statue was made
of fiberglass. The statue has been described as a "graven image" and to
have cost $250,000.
Jun 16 Yesterday was the 56th day since British Petroleum's
oil rig exploded and oil began gushing into the waters of the Mexican
Gulf. President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office and
said, "We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long
as it takes," and he says he will make BP pay for the clean up and
compensate people for the losses they have suffered. He adds that he
intends "to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again"
- a big promise given the frequency with which oil companies, despite
their engineering expertise, have oil spills. (Note the frequency of
oil spillage in Nigeria, by the Saudis and the Premex spill in the Gulf
of Mexico in 1979. Oil extraction is a messy business.) Obama spoke for
"better regulations, better safety standards, and better enforcement
when it comes to offshore drilling." He promoted the comprehensive
energy and climate bill being considered by Congress. He said that "God
is with us" and asked people to pray.
Jun 16 Most commentators at Fox News were negative about
Obama's speech. Sarah Palin blamed Obama for the continuing gush of oil
into the Gulf. Her questioner, Bill O'Reilly, asked her in disbelief:
"You mean to tell me that his top priority is not stoping the leak?"
Her answer was scattered. Charles Krauthammer called Obama a "pie in
the sky" dreamer. On Larry King Live, T. Boone Pickens was not negative
about Obama's speech but described as stupid the years of delay in
exploiting the great abundance that the US has in natural gas.
Jun 17 With the looting and burning of homes and the attacks
against Uzbeks, according to a report on the NewsHour today, there were
"many cases of raped women." The "armed gangs" were described as
including "disaffected young men who are easily stirred up on the idea
of a grievance and of taking revenge against other groups." This was a
description of Kyrgyz young men. (Every ethnic group has its primitives
alongside its better people.)
Jun 22 Britain's conservative government, in power since May
11, announces that it is raising taxes in order to decisively tackle
government debt. It is raising the Value Added Tax (a national sales
tax) from 17.5% to 20%. Tax credits will be cut for families earning
more than £40,000 per year. And the BBC reports that "child benefit and
public sector pay will be frozen and 25% cut from public service
spending." Labour Party leader, Harriet Harman, complains that the new
budget will stifle growth and hit hardest "those who can least afford
Jun 22 In Bangladesh about 700 garment factories shut down
after days of protests by tens of thousands of workers demanding better
Jun 24 Two days ago, Mari Kiviniemi, 42, of the Center Party,
became Prime Minister of Finland. Finland's head of state is also a
woman, Tarja Halonen. Today, Julia Gillard, 49, became Australia's
first woman Prime Minister. She describes herself as not religious, and
she never married or had children. She lives with a hair dresser, Tim
Mathieson, her partner since 2006. She is of the center-left Australian
Labor Party. The world now has 29 female heads of state and government.
Jun 24 George Soros criticizes Angela Merkel's austerity
policy, warning that it is becoming a danger for Europe and should
change to a pro-growth agenda. Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced
plans for budget cuts amounting to 80 billion euros. Soros accuses the
Germans of "dragging their neighbors into deflation, which threatens a
long phase of stagnation." He says that he cannot rule out the euro's
Jun 28 The G-20 nation leaders at the summit in Toronto
choose to focus on austerity and cutting deficits. President Obama
favors the opposite: economic stimulation. The fear of those who
believe in stimulation is a slide into what people are calling a double
dip. The economist Ken Rogoff sides with deficit reduction now. The
economist Paul Krugman believes that the deficit can be addressed after
the economy recovers. He points to the length of the depressions that
followed the panics of 1873 and 1929-31 and that both of these
depressions "included periods when the economy grew." Of the G-20
summit he writes that "governments are obsessing about inflation when
the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening
when the real problem is inadequate spending."
Jun 30 According to the Iranian state news agency, a military
court has sentenced two men to death for the killing of three
Jul 4 Elizabeth II, reigning queen of the UK, Canada,
Australia and thirteen other sovereign states, praises Canada's
commitment to preserving basic freedoms. Many Canadians are the
descendants of colonists who remained loyal to the British monarchy.
Jul 4 President Obama says that this is the day that "we
celebrate the very essence of America," the day that "we celebrate the
principles that are timeless tenets first declared by men of property
and wealth but which gave rise to what Lincoln called a new birth of
freedom in America."
Jul 4 Political commentator Newt Gingrich weighs on the
Fourth. He has attributed the creation of the United States to God -
meaning that during the bloody revolutionary war, God was on the side
of the revolutionaries rather than the loyalists, many of whom ran to
what today is Canada. Among Canadians there is talk of God having
created the many splendors of their country. In the planning stage the
Archangel Gabriel is said to have asked God whether he was being too
generous to the Canadians, and God replied: "Not really. Just wait till
you see the neighbors I'm going to give them."
Jul 6 China has plans to build an 8 billion dollar oil
refinery in Nigeria and to cover 80 percent of the construction cost.
Jul 6 In May, 2009, Niall Ferguson called signs of an
economic recovery in the US "wishful non-thinking." Ferguson remains a
rival to Paul Krugman's view that the government ought to be
stimulating the economy. Ferguson calls for tax increases and cuts in
spending in order to ward off a disastrous bond market creditability
disaster a couple years or so down the road.
Jul 9 Fareed Zakaria (American journalist) and Christine
Lagarde (France's Minister of Finance) have called for a combination of
stimulus and debt reduction. Asked whether both stimulus and austerity
can be done, Lagarde replied, "Yes, it can." She added that "We must,
very decisively cut our deficit and reduce our debt." One way to do
this, she said, is through taxation. The French and British governments
have plans for raising taxes, "a bit more in 2010," said Lagarde, "than
we did in 2009." Both have the Value Added Tax. The US does not.
Jul 13 Many commentators focused yesterday on a statement
made by Erskine Bowles of President Obama's debt commission. Bowles
likened the national debt to a slow moving cancer and said that the
country was moving to "the most predictable economic crisis in
history." He suggested that the crisis might be around five years away.
Bill O'Reilly of "no spin" fame at Fox News echoed the disaster aspect
of Bowles' speech and proclaimed that trying to tax ourselves "out of
the mess" is a mistake. He ridiculed extending unemployment insurance
and liberalism in general. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC spoke of Senator Kyl,
Republican of Arizona, who said that "You should never (emphasis added)
have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on
Americans." He was putting a lower tax rate above paying down the debt
at the same time that Republicans were expressing concern about the
debt. Meanwhile, anti-tax conservatives in the US are saying little if
anything about the new conservative government in London fighting
Britain's debt by raising taxes. And the Republican Party appears
intent on using the tax issue (tax and spend) against the Democrats.
Jul 18 The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer
Protection Act is on its way to President Obama for his signature. Only
three Republican senators voted for the bill. The bill includes Paul
Volcker's recommendation to separate banks that take deposits and are
federally insured from managing investment activities. See the Nov 8,
1999 for the bill that some blame for the banking crisis of 2007.
Jul 20 Anne Applebaum, a conservative, writes in the
Washington Post about Americans demanding "ludicrous levels" of safety.
She writes that "Most Europeans are reconciled to the idea that not
everybody, at any age and in any condition, is entitled to the most
expensive medical technology." She writes that Americans "demand more
from their government than just about anybody else in the world." She
ridicules overreaction to the threat of terrorism and that "schools
should close if there is ice on the roads." She is also critical of the
Tea Party movement.
Jul 21 At Fox News this week, Bill O'Reilly claims that Fox
News is a "dominant number one," and he says that "If you want to know
what's happening in America you have to come here." Looking at the
internet as a measure, CNN.com is receiving around three times the hits
received by FoxNews.com. The internet has to be considered an
influence, and on it Huffingtonpost.com outranks Foxnews.com. And there
are many other internet blogging sites. As to O'Reilly's influence,
there is the question how many watch O'Reilly as a joke or merely for
entertainment. Lately his show has been bending a little more toward
entertainment. In numbers of viewers at any rate, according to
Wikipedia, O'Reilly's show is bringing in around 3.5 million viewers a
night compared to 2.7 million for the deadly serious NewsHour over at
PBS. Sixty Minutes, at CBS, brings in around 10 or 11 million per show
- the dominant number one news show.
Jul 23 Today in the Washington Post, a conservative, Michael
Gerson, mentions Britain's conservative government raising taxes. He
describes Prime Minister Cameron as having "proposed about four pounds
in spending reductions for every pound in tax increases." This week by
the way, Cameron spoke well of President Obama in an interview with
Diane Sawyer and seemd out of sinc with a lot of Republicans. Cameron
told Sawyer that he thought Obama had "plans for quite an aggressive
budget deficit reduction that I think is going to take your deficit
down to three percent of GDP from - from where it is today - by 2015."
Jul 28 According to the New York Times, the profits for 175
companies on the Standard and Poor's 500-stock index increased by 42.3
percent during the last quarter (April to June). Harold Meyerson of the
Washington Post writes of US corporations winning greater profits by
producing and selling abroad rather than rehiring. This, he writes,
"portends the kind of long-term structural unemployment that we haven't
seen since the 1930s." Meyerson sees corporations setting a record
amount of cash. He favors tax incentives for investment in domestic
manufacturing for development of green technology, and if the public
sector doesn't fill the gap left by corporations not investing in
domestic work, he writes, "the era of American prosperity, is history."
By evening, Meyerson's article received 357 reader comments. One read:
"Harold, you ignorant sl$t! The answer is capitalism, not regulation.
Lower taxes for those that hire. Real incentives and controlling the
Aug 2 Cuba is struggling to revive its economy. President
Raul Castro announces a future cut in the "overloaded" state payroll
and a reduction of state involvement in some areas of the economy. Also
more "workers" will be allowed to set up small businesses. In Cuba, the
state controls about 90 percent of the economy.
Aug 3 New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, defends mosque
construction in the city two blocks from "Ground Zero." He says that a
government "shouldn't be in the business of picking one religion over
another," that Muslims have "a right to do it" and that prohibiting it
would play into the hands of those hostile to the United States.
Conservative pundit Monica Crowley instead opposes the construction.
Citing the name Cordoba, she sees the mosque construction near Ground
Zero as Muslim triumphalism hostile to the United States. And Newt
Gingrich, another conservative with a PhD, finds fault with Saudi
Arabia in association with the building although Saudi Arabia has been
hostile toward al-Qaeda and had nothing to do with the attacks on the
World Trade Center. Richard Cohen of the Washington Post describes
Gingrich as offering us "an illogical and ahistorical" context to the
controversy. The journalist Peter Beinart describes project opponents
as bigots. The mosque project's sponsor, the Cordoba Initiative,
describes itself as a pluralistic organization seeking better relations
between Muslims and people of other faiths.
Aug 5 On Fox News, Newt Gingrich declares the Mosque
controversy as having nothing to do with religious liberty. He calls
the founder of the Cordoba Initiative, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a
radical Islamist and asks for an explanation of the funding of the
Rauf's project. Other opponents of the Mosque take statements by Rauf's
that were critical of US foreign policy as examples of Islamic
radicalism. Some others see this as a giant stretch. Rauf, meanwhile,
has spoken of wanting to build a more peaceful world - unlike the
radical jihadists, who want war.
Aug 6 Along with the unusual weather around the world are
record temperatures in Russia. Reports describe nearly 600 wildfires
that are still spreading and have claimed 50 lives. Bloggers in Russia
are outraged and blame government for inadequate responses and lapsed
fire-fighting readiness. Some speak of the past when government was
Aug 8 An honor killing by a Muslim father in the United
States that happened more than two years ago has been a topic chosen
this past week by Bill O'Reilly of Fox News. The fierce critic of
Islam, Hirsi Ali, former Dutch politician now living in the United
States, speaks against stigmatizing the majority of Muslims in America.
The New York Times lead story reads: "Across Nation, Mosque Projects
Meet Opposition." A photo shows a woman with a manufactured sign that
reads "mosques are a monument to terrorism." On his program today on
CNN, Fareed Zakaria weighs in. He speaks of the benefits from
tolerating moderate Muslims. He describes Imam Rauf, creator of the
Cordoba Project, as holding to an Islam that is a nightmare for Osama
bin Laden and mentions Rauf's book: What's Right with Islam: A New
Vision for Muslims and the West. Zakaria speaks of Newt Gingrich and
shame. Zakaria says that he has returned an award he received in 2005
from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) because of its stand on the issue
of the Mosque being built a couple of blocks from the World Trade
Center. The ADL says it is "stunned and saddened."
Aug 11 In China's state-run newspaper a set of articles
describe the country's successful economic development as turning into
"national arrogance." As a part of Marxist internationalism, Communist
Party intellectuals around the world have traditionally been opposed in
theory to all forms of chauvinism, especially national chauvinism.
Aug 11 Starting this month in Malaysia, two women Islamic
court (Sharia) judges start to hear court cases.
Aug 16 Russia has been on fire and much of Paikistan is under
water. Famine looms because of unusual weather conditions that people
are blaming on global warming. But in the US the debate that has been
raging on daily is about the mosque that is planned for construction
two blocks away from "ground zero" in lower Manhattan.
Aug 17 Yesterday, MSNBC weighed in on the debate. Keith
Olbermann described as exaggeration the claimed nearness of the Muslim
community center (not a mosque) to Ground Zero. The Rachel Maddow show
described the extremist anti-Muslim origins of the debate and what it
characterized as the weakness of those who joined it, including that of
the Democrat Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, cowering as he runs
for re-election in Nevada.
Aug 19 The last of US combat forces depart from Iraq - a
couple of weeks ahead of schedule. The 50,000 US soldiers remaining in
Iraq (down from a high of 150,000) are for training and will use their
weapons only in self-defense or at the request of the Iraqi government.
Meanwhile, following controversial parliamentary elections five months
ago, an Iraqi government in Baghdad has not yet been formed. And
yesterday at least 59 people were killed and more than 100 injured in
another suicide bombing in Baghdad.
Aug 28 An estimated 300,000 people attend Glenn Beck's rally
at the Washington Monument. The theme is "Restore Honor to America."
Another purpose of the rally is to raise funds for the Special
Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides scholarships to the
children of elite troops killed in combat. One of the speakers, Sarah
Palen, suggests that we return in spirit to the days of George
Washington - when some colonists chose to fight against King George and
some chose to remain loyal. Politics in those times of bitter conflict
and slavery she suggests were guided by God. Palin utters what the
journalist Peter Beinart, in his book The Icarus Syndrome calls hubris:
"We will always come through" she says, forgetting about Vietnam.
Instead of looking back at Vietnam, Palin exudes "faith and hope." And
staying with the spiritual, other speakers call for unity with Jesus
Christ. Spirituality appears to be their formula for restoring honor to
America while troublesome mundane alternatives are ignored in keeping
with Beck describing his rally as not at all about politics.
Aug 30 A Taliban operative in Afghanistan tells a writer for
Newsweek magazine that the mosque issue in the US is a propaganda
windfall and "now heads the list of talking points in Taliban meetings
with fighters, villagers, and potential recruits."
Sep 2 Laura Tyson, economist and Chair of the US President's
Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration, argues
that "our national debate" has become skewed and that the US needs a
second stimulus. She writes that "...the risk is uncomfortably high
that trying to reduce the deficit - by cutting spending or increasing
taxes - will tip the economy back into recession or condemn it to years
of faltering growth and debilitating unemployment. In fact, either
outcome would depress tax revenue and could mean larger deficits."
Sep 2 Pakistan's government counts the dead from recent
flooding at 1,710.
Sep 3 Syria is moving "to curb the influence of Muslim
conservatives in its mosques, public universities and charities,"
according to Kareem Fahim, writing for the New York Times. Syria has a
history of moving against Islamic dissidents. See February 2, 1982.
Sep 6 President Obama declares his support for a second
stimulus package: a $100 billion tax credit for businesses that invest
in job creation and $50 billion for infrastructure building.
Sep 8 For Greece's government, paying its debt is made more
difficult by an economy that declined 1.8 percent in this year's second
quarter. The government's austerity measures have contributed to the
decline. People are not spending money. Today, Europe's stock markets
responded negatively, with bank stock declining.
Sep 8 In the US, the Daily Beast’s Asra Q. Nomani, a Muslim,
expresses a lack of concern about a proposed Koran burning. To Muslims
she writes, "Let's get over the symbolic insult and deal with the very
real issues of literal interpretations of the Koran that are used to
sanction domestic violence, terrorism, militancy, and suicide bombings
in the name of Islam... We, as Muslims, need to tear a few pages out of
Sep 13 Cuba's government takes steps from its old-style
socialist - or Soviet style - economy. It announces that it plans to
end more than one million private sector jobs, half of them within the
next six months. President Raul Castro has described the government as
supporting a bloated bureaucracy that has sapped motivation.
Sep 19 In elections in Sweden, Prime Minister Fredrik
Reinfeldt's center-right majority coalition appears able to return to
power. But a swing in support for the "anti-immigrant" Sweden Democrats
erodes the coalition's majority and may result in a hung parliament.
Vote for the Liberal Democrats is said to be a protest against the
reluctance of mainstream parties to address the issue of immigrants not
integrating into Swedish society.
Sep 19 A former associate of Osama bin Laden, Noman
Benotman, has written a letter to his old "comrade-in-arms" before
9/11, asking him the following: "What has the 11th September brought to
the world except mass killings, occupations, destruction, hatred of
Muslims, humiliation of Islam, and a tighter grip on the lives of
ordinary Muslims by the authoritarian regimes that control Arab and
Muslim states?" Benotman goes on to claim that, "Muslims across the
world have rejected your calls for wrongful jihad and the establishment
of your so-called 'Islamic state'."
Sep 23 In the US, Muslims report an increase in hostility and
name-calling by co-workers, according to an article in the New York
Times by Steven Greenhouse. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission "has filed several prominent lawsuits on behalf of Muslim
workers." Writes Greenhouse: "Mohammad Kaleemuddin, a Pakistani
immigrant who drove trucks for the American war effort in Iraq for
three years, said that while he was working for a construction company
in Houston, his supervisor and several co-workers called him 'Osama,'
'al Qaeda,' 'Taliban,' and 'terrorist'.”
Sep 28 We know that generally speaking, people with a lot of
wealth are better able to accumulate more of it faster than people with
little wealth, and we know therefore that across time the division of
wealth is likely to grow, unless there is a politically created wealth
distribution mechanism that mitigates against it. Today, Gwen Ifill of
the News Hour announces that "The US has the greatest disparity between
rich and poor among Western industrialized nations." Her guest, Timothy
Noah of Slate.com says that between 1929 and the early 1970s, incomes
were "becoming more and more equal" but that incomes have been "growing
less and less equal since 1979."
Sep 28 In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North
Korea), a monarchy like succession appears to be taking place. State
media announces that the son of leader Kim Jong-ll, Kim Jong-un, has
been named vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the
ruling Workers' Party. Kim Jong-un is said to be about 27 years old and
is already a four-star general.
Oct 1 The US Senate has approved a bill (S. 2847) that
requires television stations and cable companies to refrain from making
commercials louder than the rest of their programming. This regulation
law was sponsored by Democrats. The House and Senate will work the bill
into law after the November 2 election.
Oct 1 President Obama apologizes to Guatemala for US
scientists conducting a study in 1946-48 that involved intentionally
infecting prisoners and patients in a mental hospital with syphilis.
The government of Guatemala had given permission for the study.
Oct 3 Germany ends its World War I reparations payments to
the United States. This is the last installment of interest on bonds
Germany created in 1924 and 1930 to raise cash to meet the demands by
the Allies at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.
Oct 3 In a taped interview, China's premier, Wen Jiaboa
("Grandpa" Wen to the Chinese), describes China's stimulus programs as
working - a stimulus program Fareed Zakaria describes as ten times that
of the US in relation to each country's GDP. China's stimulus includes
investments in infrastructure, upgrading industry technology,
investments in science and providing an economic safety net and social
security for the population in general. China's public debt for 2009
described by the CIA World Fact Book is 16.9% compared to 52.9% for the
Oct 3 Wen Jiaboa tells Greece's parliament that China
supports a stable euro and will not reduce its holdings of euro bonds.
Oct 4 Britain's conservative government announces that it
will no longer pay a universal child subsidy to wealthier families. As
of 2013, families making $70,000 or more per year will not qualify for
the program that pays $32 a week for a first child and $21 for each
subsequent one. The benefits were created at the end of World War II to
Oct 7 A double suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in Karachi,
Pakistan, kills 9 and wounds 55, with more expected to die. The Sufis
are peace-loving Muslims. In debates about Islam in the US they have
been emphasizing the moderate and flexible nature of Islam.
Oct 7 The Pew Research Center has released polling results
concerning the elections in three weeks. Despite the pitch against
government spending, 53 percent said they would be more likely to vote
for a candidate who has a record of bringing government projects and
money to their districts, against 11 percent who said they would be
less likely. Regarding an incumbant running for reelection, 53 percent
said it would make no difference and 26 percent said they would be less
likely to vote for an incumbant. The health care issue was evenly split.
Oct 8 Now online, on video and transcript, an Oxford-style
debate of the century, with four good minds participating, on October 6
at New York University. The proposition debated: "Islam is a religion
Oct 10 The BBC describes about one in five brides in the
Russian Federation's southern republic of Chechnya as having been
kidnapped and forced into marriage, done in connivance with the imam
who presides over the wedding - with families of the kidnapped rarely
contacting the police. "Instead, they go to their village imam."
Chechnya is predominately Sunni. Chechnya's president, Ramzan Kadyrov,
has declared that the abduction of brides is un-Islamic and must be
"eradicated from society". The BBC reports in this same article that,
"Since June, unidentified men with paintball guns have driven round the
centre of Grozny [the capital] shooting at women with uncovered heads.
Leaflets were pinned on doors and scattered on the pavements which
urged women to dress more modestly or face the consequences."
Oct 11 Quote of the Day: "I don't blame anybody for being
mad. We've had a huge economic body blow. But I'm old enough to know
that if you make a decision when you're mad - and this is not just
politics - there's about an 80 percent chance you're going to make a
mistake." Bill Clinton.
Oct 14 Britain's conservative prime minister, David Cameron,
is getting more attention in the US for his views that are contrary to
positions taken by US Republicans. According to Ruth Marcus of the
Washington Post, British conservatives "are addressing their fiscal
crisis with seriousness and specificity... Second, the Conservatives
call for shared sacrifice, starting in a place Republicans seem never
to look: at the top." Marcus adds the following Cameron quote:
"Government has a role not just to fire up ambition, but to help give
Oct 16 Prime Minister Merkel of Germany tells her political
party gathering that attempts to build a multicultural society in
Germany have "utterly failed."
Oct 17 The Democratic Republic of Congo's first lady, Olive
Lembe Kabila, leads thousands of women on a march against sexual
violence. Her husband, President Kabila, has failed to protect people
in villages distant from the capital, and villagers are not organized
or armed well enough to protect themselves against soldiers passing
through. Margot Wallstrom, who leads UN efforts to combat sexual
violence, has recently accused government forces of participating in
rapes, killings and looting - which the government denies. The UN has
peacekeeping forces in the country and near where numerous rapes have
occurred, but the "peacekeepers" are described as ineffective. The
Democratic Republic of the Congo is the poorest nation in the world
except for Zimbabwe.
Oct 22 Britain's conservative government has announced its
austerity strategy. Jobs will be lost and spending cuts of more than
$130 billion will be made. In her column in the Washington Post Anne
Applebaum goes on to say that in Britain, "Payments of all kinds - to
university students, inhabitants of public housing, the BBC - will be
chopped, blocked or frozen." The retirement age will rise. But Britain,
she writes, remains silent while across the channel the French are
"loudly on strike" over raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. Both
countries, writes Applebaum are "acting like living caricatures of
Oct 23 Britain's conservative government promises no change
in free universal benefits for people over 75. This includes no charge
for television reception or medical prescriptions.
Oct 24 In the United States it is eight days before
congressional elections. Weeks ago, rightist pundits on Fox News were
predicting with glee a devastating defeat for Democrats - President
Obama's party. Some Republican candidates began their campaigns
accusing Democrats of "politics as usual." Politics as usual is now in
full swing among those trying to become incumbents as well as by
Oct 24 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia calls for global efforts
to establish peace and justice and speaks of the need to safeguard the
interests of humanity. He adds that, "Saudi Arabia stands for the whole
world. Our religion is Islam and we believe that other religions are
revealed from God. We spread the teachings of God for the benefit of
Oct 26 The Swedish press reports that in the city of Malmo an
immigrant community is "gripped with fear" while a search is taking
place for an unknown gunman "thought to be responsible for nearly 20
Oct 26 In their Intelligence Squared debate the team of Laura
Tyson and Nouriel Roubini ridicule the idea that the American people
are being oppressed by the government they have chosen. Tyson says it
is for the public to balance what they want from government with what
they are willing to pay, that it is an arithmetic problem. Roubini
calls his debating opponents, Phil Gramm and Arthur Laffer, the two
high priests of supply-side economics and describes that as a religion
- lacking any real empirical evidence for its conclusions.
Oct 27 Supporting California's legalization of pot
initiative, columnist Katrina Vander Heuvel cites "surveys by the US
and Dutch governments that 41 percent of Americans have used marijuana,
compared to 22.6 percent of residents of the Netherlands, where it is
Oct 27 Osama bin Laden describes the kidnapping of five
French citizens in Niger in September as punishment for "France's
injustice to Muslims," and he describes France's forthcoming
restrictions on use of the full veil as "colonial oppression."
Oct 31 Ayaan Hirsi Ali's foundation has announced that on 27
October Germany decided to make forced marriages a criminal offense
punishable by up to five years in prison.
Nov 1 Going into tomorrow's congressional elections,
Republican Party supporters and Tea Party activists are saying that
they will "take our country back." Republican Party leadership is
riding this wave. The attitude that they represent the whole of the
American people has led them to promise no compromise in doing the
people's business - as if the opinions of the rest of the nation - the
president's supporters - do not matter. Some Republicans are portraying
as dirty capitulation the kind of compromise that has been the usual
way of doing business in legislatures. This absolutism portends
political gridlock in Washington D.C. in 2011. The conservative
columnist George Will welcomes it, saying yesterday on ABC television's
"This Week" that, "When you have gridlock the system is working."
Nov 1 Dick Armey, spokesman for the Tea Party movement, holds
a Ph.D. in economics. He knows how to differentiate interests and ideas
between groups of people measured in percentages, but with a smile he
tells the television cameras: "The American people have said...." Then
he goes on to confuse his and Tea Party opinions with the electorate in
Nov 2 British authorities have announced that former
Guantanamo detainee, Jabr Al-Faifi, gave the crucial tip-off that led
to the discovery of the failed plot to send bombs by mail from Yemen to
synagogues in Chicago. Mr Al-Faifi is a product of Saudi Arabia's
rehabilitation program, and it is believed that he was working as an
informant for Saudi intelligence in Yemen.
Nov 3 Elections return Republican Party politicians to power
in the US House of Representatives, to take place in January.
Republicans take power as governor in seven more states. Republicans
promise that their policies will create jobs. (Stay tuned.) In
California a referendum returns state budgets to passage by a simple
majority. Californians defeat a referendum to legalize recreational use
Nov 3 In the US the "mad as hell" and "take our country back"
anti-Obama Tea Party movement wins some and loses some. Their biggest
loss is Sharron Angle's failure to unseat the not very populur Harry
Reid in Nevada. Their biggest win is in Kentucky, which will send Rand
Paul to the US Senate. He replaces another Republican, Jim Bunning.
Nov 3 A woman, revjean1, tweets as follows: "So Bush craps
all over America's floor & Obama gets slapped for not cleaning
it up fast enough. Or have I read that wrong?"
Nov 3 The new majority leader-to-be, John Boehner, promises
to listen "to the people." His ears tell him that "the people" are
opposed to all tax increases. Today he says that extending the Bush tax
cuts for all income groups is the right policy.
Nov 4 Gallop polling has 27% answering that they are an
"opponent" of the Tea Party movement and 26% answering that they
"support" the movement.
Nov 5 Taliban in Pakistan continue the failed political
strategy of blowing up fellow Muslims who don't support them. A suicide
bomber strikes at a Mosque during Friday prayers, killing more than 70
Nov 7 David Stockman, Reagan's Budget Director, on This Week
argues with Republican Congressman Mike Pence against supply-side
economics. Stockman favors higher taxes and cutting spending. He
complains that the Republicans have "no track record of a willingness
to take on the doctors, the pharmaceutical companies, the scooter chair
manufacturers, who are everywhere. We can't be the policemen of the
world anymore because we can't afford it... And we're now becoming the
banana republic finance, printing - the Fed, these mad men who are out
of control at the Fed, are printing new money, equal to 100 percent of
the debt that we're issuing each month. This will not end well. It's -
it's going to end in a disaster."
Nov 8 Some Democrats are disappointed by President Obama's
timidity - if not timidity, at least less forceful than Franklin
Roosevelt. Yesterday on Sixty-Minutes, President Obama appeared
contrite. He characterized the public's impatience and the expectation
of a rapid full recovery and more as his failure. He added: "I think
the Republicans were able to paint my governing philosophy as a
classic, traditional, big government liberal. And that's not something
that the American people want... I do get discouraged... I think there
are things every day that I think about doing better."
Nov 9 U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that
elections in Burma on the 7th - the first in 20 years - were
“insufficiently inclusive, participatory and transparent.” President
Obama described the elections as not being free or fair. Chinese
newspapers urged Burma's military rulers to ignore the criticisms.
Nov 10 In England a student demonstration against rising
university tuitions ends with the smashing and occupation of
Conservative Party headquarters.
Nov 11 Among Palestinians in the West Bank an unknown young
man who was posting anti-religion rants on the internet is tracked
down. He is Walid Husayin, son of a barber described as a quiet young
man, 26, who prayed regularly with his family. Apparently he found the
internet a way to express his true feelings. The Associated Press
reports that many in his town, Qalqiliya, "say he should be killed for
renouncing Islam, and even family members say he should remain behind
bars for life."
Nov 14 A British Labour Party politician, Philip Woolas MP,
on November 6 was found by judges to have made false statements during
his campaign for re-election - a violation of the Representation of the
People Act of 1983, section 106 of which makes it illegal to publish
any false statement of fact in relation to another candidate's personal
character or conduct. Woolas is challenging the court ruling. Meanwhile
there has been no move by the US Congress for a similar law.
Nov 18 An Egyptian blogger, imprisoned for four years for
insulting Islam and defaming President Hosni Mubarak, has been
released. Abdel Kareem Nabil Soliman is the first Egyptian convicted
for blogging. People around the world protested, rallied and donated on
behalf of Mr Soliman. Another blogger, Muhammad Mari, remains in the
same Egyptian prison.
Nov 18 Eastern Kentucky Power Company (EKPC) responds to
clean energy activists and cancels plans to build a new coal-fired
Nov 24 South Korea claims that it was "conducting usual
military drills" and that its "test shots were aimed toward the west,
not the north. North Korea responded to the drills with a 50-minute
artillery barrage against a military base on a South Korean island,
Yeonpyeong, next to the line that separates North Korea from South
Korea. Two South Korean Marines on the military base are killed. North
Korea calls the South its enemy and a puppet state. South Korea warns
that another attack will bring retaliation.
Nov 25 The US and South Korea defiantly continue military
exercises. South Koreans consider old rules regarding responses to the
North as too passive. A spokesman for the government speaks of a
flexible policy to keep the North Koreans guessing.
Nov 25 Brazil is having the gangster-youth problems plaguing
other societies. In Rio de Janeiro police backed by armored vehicles
take control after five days of clashes that have killed 30 people.
Nov 28 David Stockman, a conservative Republican, tells
Fareed Zakaria that his party has turned trickle-down economics and no
tax increases into a dogma and mantra. Stockman agrees with Warren
Buffet that trickle-down economics does not work and that to save the
economy the US will have to cut spending and raise taxes, especially on
those who have gained much in wealth recently: the superwealthy.
Regarding debt and the printing of money, Stockman warns of inflation
and a collapse of the financial markets.
Nov 30 Anne Applebaum in her Washington Post column describes
the latest Wikilinks publication of US "secret" and "confidential"
diplomatic cables as seeming to strike another blow against "frank"
speech. She writes: "Yet more ammunition has been given to those who
favor greater circumspection, greater political correctness and greater
Dec 1 In Saudi Arabia, students who have qualified for the
King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program are warned that when studying
abroad they should not join groups or parties that are banned in the
countries where they go. And they are warned to "not become involved in
any activity that violates the law of that country, and should not make
friends with students who are unsafe to associate with.” They are
further warned, writes arabnews.com, "against giving contributions or
gifts to illegal or unlicensed organizations."
Dec 4 Indigenous Easter (Rapa Nui) Islanders are trying to
prevent what happened to the original Hawaiian people. They have voted
to restrict immigration in fear of being overwhelmed. The island was
annexed by Chile in 1888. Chileans are turning the island into a
tourist destination - with some 50,000 visiting the island yearly.
Chilean police combating a peaceful protest occupation of a building
have injured dozens of people, according to the BBC.
Dec 6 In Europe's continuing debt crisis and looming banking
crisis, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks against increasing a
bailout fund. German taxpayers remain unenthusiastic about their wealth
helping to finance the lifestyles of other people in the European
Union. European governments are trying to trim their budget deficits to
assure bond markets.
Dec 11 In the US, Republicans hold to their belief that the
best way to raise revenue to pay off the debt is to not tax the very
wealthy so that they will have money to invest in economic growth.
Democrats believe that the super wealthy have more money now than they
are willing to invest. Compromise legislation is in the works. The
Obama administration will allow the tax cuts for the super wealthy that
the Bush administration created back in 2003 to continue, and the
Republicans will allow extensions on unemployment benefits. Government
spending continues to rise and the only hope for increased revenue to
start reducing the debt is a robust economic recovery, which few expect.
Dec 15 David Cote, CEO of Honeywell, tells Gwen Ifill of the
News Hour that given "the cash that is on the sidelines" he would say
that what is holding up investing is "uncertainty of demand. If you're
a CEO, you're going to be cautious about investing money in plants or
hiring employees unless you can be certain of demand. And I would say
that this is the thing that is holding us up." By demand, of course, he
means people buying. The problem in other words is not of CEOs with too
little money but common people with too little money to spend.
Dec 17 The US tax plan is signed into law. The Bush tax cuts
for everyone are extended two more years and benefits for the long-term
unemployed are extended thirteen months.
Dec 23 President Obama signs into law Congress's approval of
the New Start Treaty with Russia. The treaty will cut deployed nuclear
warheads by these two nations by 30 percent.
Dec 23 President Obama signs into law Congress's repeal of
the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Law." Homosexuals are now free to serve in
the US military without having to lie about their sexual orientation.
Dec 23 Former Argentine military ruler and de facto president
(1976-81), Jorge Videla, is sentenced to life in prison for crimes
against humanity, specifically the killing of 31 prisoners dragged from
their cells and executed with the claim that they were trying to
escape. Videla has said that he accepts "the responsibility as the
highest military authority during the internal war. My subordinates
followed my orders." Videla is described as the "main architect" of
War." In that war as many as 30,000
people were tortured and murdered.
Dec 26 Speaking on CNN, Google CEO Eric Schmidt expresses
concern about the US losing its edge in innovation. He says, "People
assume that somehow America's government was not involved in the world
50 years ago. Almost all of the science and technology research that we
take for granted now came out of the Defense Department spending post
World War II." (transcript)
Dec 27 China is planning its transition to a leading purveyor
of high-value technologies. It is interested in investing as much as
$1.5 trillion dollars in the coming five years in industries:
alternative energy, biotechnology, new-generation information
technology, high-end equipment manufacturing, advanced materials,
alternative-fuel cars and energy-saving and environmentally friendly
technologies. Pursuing its Communist Party capitalism, the central
government will encourage local governments to invest and it will push
on corporations to do the spending and banks to lend money.
Dec 28 Describing last week's presidential election in
Belarus, Anne Applebaum writes: "Having failed to achieve a majority,
President Alexander Lukashenko beat up the other candidates, arrested
journalists and falsified poll results to take power. Belarus's
transition from communism to democracy has not merely failed: It has
never taken place at all."
Dec 28 In Iraq, nine months after parliamentary elections, a
new government is formed. Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shia, will have
another term as prime minister. By the end of 2011, all US forces are
to be withdrawn. This is in keeping with Iran's desires. As a neighbor
and a Shia power, Iran has some influence on Iraq.
Dec 30 The NewsHour, discusses news in 2013 about the fight against
cancer. Miles Obrien, describes research regarding our immune system
killing cancer cells as it does other harmful cells, and he says cancer
researchers "are extremely excited about this," but there is a funding
problem. He adds: "Every researcher I talk to, every scientist I speak
with speaks about what a dark time it is for federal funding for basic
scientific research... A lot of people in Washington would say, well,
why don't we have the private sector fund this? The private sector
doesn't fund things if it doesn't see a good solid business plan."
Educational videos offered
Welcome to Our World of
a modern open area for learning
and understanding the mysteries
of the plant world!
Our Herbaceous Plants
Video package is a
2 disc. 3 hour set, packed full of information.
Plants Video package is sold
separately or as part of a
package is a
3 disc. 3 hour explaining the medical
compounds derived from plants
Pharmaceutical Plants Video package is
sold separately or as part of a
The Poisonous Plants
Video package is a
2 disc. 2-hour collection exzaming the
Poisonous compounds in and from plants
Poisonous Plants Video package is
sold separately or as part of a