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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 restricting speech.

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 growth rate.

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.

President Correa
President Correa


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 his regime.

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 50 percent.

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.

February 2010

Feb 1  According to the BBC, the Somali group al-Shabaab has confirmed that it is aligned with "the international jihad led by the al-Qaeda network."

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. [Chart, 1950-2010

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 combined.

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.

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

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 law.

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.

March 2010

 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 governmental weakness.
 
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 will tell.

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 countries.

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."

April 2010
 Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor
Kartika 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 he represents.

 Roza Otunbayeva
Roza Otunbayeva

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.
 
Oh Eun-sun
Oh Eun-sun


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 game."

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 10,991.

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 2010

 
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 Union.

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 had bought.

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 order.

May 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 protesters.

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.



June 2010

 
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 reversed.

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 it."

Jun 22  In Bangladesh about 700 garment factories shut down after days of protests by tens of thousands of workers demanding better wages.

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 collapse.

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 protesters.


July 2010


 
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 borders. Easy."

August 2010

 
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 better prepared.

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."


September 2010

 
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 the Koran."

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.


October 2010

 
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 United States.

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 encourage childbearing.

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 of peace."

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 it flight."

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 themselves."

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 incumbents.

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 humanity."

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 shootings."

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 legal."

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.


November 2010

 
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 general.

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 of marijuana.

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 people.

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 power plant.

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 hypocrisy."


December 2010

 
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 Argentina's    "Dirty 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."





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