Monday, February 24, 2014
‘Anti-government demonstrators set up barricades and started fires, halting traffic Monday in parts of Venezuela's capital, Caracas, and other cities.
Many people stayed home as protesters took to the streets a day after opposition leader Henrique Capriles called for them to keep demonstrations peaceful.
Since February 12, opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have been protesting Venezuela's crime rate and economic troubles. The government says the demonstrations have resulted in at least 11 deaths and more than 130 injuries.’
… something seems very wrong about this, like the cable companies are blackmailing content providers to provide the bandwidth that the customers have already paid for. So much for “Unlimited Internet Access.”
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Under Cristina Kirchner, press freedom has been trampled; newspapers, journalists, researchers and opposition governors have been targeted for political reasons; and judicial independence has effectively been eradicated. The Kirchner government has weakened unfriendly media outlets with its controversial 2009 "anti-monopoly" law, and also with other, more authoritarian maneuvers. In early 2013, for example, Argentine supermarkets and electronic retailers told the Wall Street Journal that the government had "ordered them to stop advertising in the country's top newspapers." More recently, Argentina's Supreme Court upheld the 2009 law, thereby forcing the nation's biggest media company (Grupo Clarín) to be dismantled.
Meanwhile, the Kirchner government has repeatedly seized private businesses and other private property -- including private pension accounts, the country's largest airline (Aerolíneas Argentinas) and 51 percent of the interest of the Spanish oil company Repsol in YPF -- and it has been censured by the International Monetary Fund for deliberately publishing false economic data. Moreover, the government has harassed economists and journalists for reporting the correct data. Back in September 2011, an Argentine judge went so far as to subpoena several newspapers for the contact information of writers and editors who had worked on stories related to the economy’
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
‘Some conservatives oppose raising the debt ceiling under any circumstance, while Democrats have made it clear they would vote against any measure that attached other provisions to increasing the borrowing limit.
Boehner needs at least 18 Republicans to join the expected unanimous Democratic support for a "clean" debt ceiling measure in a vote expected as soon as Wednesday. Otherwise, there could be another protracted political impasse despised by voters.
Asked Tuesday if he had the 18 GOP votes, Boehner said: "We're going to have to find them. I'll be one of them."
However, some Republicans immediately balked at the shift by their leader, saying they would oppose a debt ceiling measure that lacked additional provisions they sought.
Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina said she would vote against the clean proposal and that GOP leaders might be forced to go back to their original plan. Boehner ally Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, an influential House Republican, said he was undecided on how to vote on a clean measure.
Republicans facing pressure from conservatives ahead of the November vote are reluctant to back an increase in the borrowing limit, a core issue for the political right because it represents rising federal debt.
Boehner sought to put the blame for a clean debt ceiling bill on Obama, saying the rising federal debt was the President's fault.
"It's the President driving up the debt and the President wanted to do nothing about the debt that's occurring, will not engage in our long-term spending problem," Boehner said. "And so, let his party give him the debt ceiling increase that he wants."
At the same time, Boehner declared himself disappointed at what he called a "lost opportunity" to address unsustainable federal spending.
Asked by CNN about the reported GOP reversal, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said it would be "the smart thing to do."’
Monday, February 10, 2014
‘Something strange is happening in Washington. We are slowly dismantling the federal government, even as its spending is growing larger. The paradox is that governmental competence is being systematically degraded while the government's size, as measured by its budget, is increasing. We are spending more and getting less, and -- unless present trends are reversed -- this will continue for years. It threatens the end of government as we know it.
‘in the Chinese television series “The Anti-Japanese Knight,” a recent action drama set during the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s. Like many Chinese television dramas, the “Anti-Japanese Knight” promotes patriotism and praises the Communist Party for defeating the Japanese, while conveniently leaving out mention of the decisive role played by the Chinese Nationalists in that war. The violence and anti-Japanese tone send a clear message that killing is acceptable — as long as the targets are “Japanese devils.”…
When I turn on the television these days, I notice not much has changed. The second Sino-Japanese War may have ended in 1945, but the Chinese people are still haunted by it. Enemy Japanese soldiers run amok on Chinese screens. The state-approved films and TV dramas of today are more colorful and the actors are better-looking than in the films of 1960s and ’70s, but the themes remain the same.
The state prohibits content that “incites ethnic hatred,” yet according to Southern Weekly more than 70 anti-Japanese TV series were screened in China in 2012. And in March 2013 the newspaper reported that 48 anti-Japanese-themed TV series were being shot simultaneously in Hengdian World Studios, a film studio in Zhejiang Province, in eastern China.
The result of this stream of rancor is just what you’d expect. A July 2013 Pew research report found that 90 percent of Chinese people have an unfavorable view of Japan. And the hatred for Japan is intensifying. Pew said that “favorability” for Japan has fallen 17 percentage points since 2006.
The anti-Japan virulence drummed up by the media is in full display online. Websites popular among young Chinese nationalists, like Tiexue (Iron Blood) and April Media, are riddled with slogans such as “Destroy Japanese dogs!” or “Annihilate the Japanese people!”
The flow of hate comes while China is building up its military, leaving its neighbors on edge. Beijing will spend $148 billion on its military this year, up from $139 billion in 2013. It launched its first aircraft carrier in 2012, and is building a fleet of submarines that it hopes will outnumber the American fleet.
A hard-line, anti-Western documentary film produced by the Chinese military called “Silent Contest,” circulated online in October 2013, revealed a troubling war-thirsty mind-set among the military. The video attempted to make the case that the United States is actively working to sabotage the Chinese government. Whoever leaked this video may not represent mainstream military thinking, but there is no doubt that pro-military voices are growing louder.’
‘The Obama administration is reportedly wrestling with the idea of unleashing a fatal drone attack against a U.S. citizen believed to be a member of al Qaeda and suspected of actively plotting an attack on Americans who are overseas.
The citizen’s name was not released and neither were the circumstances surrounding the mulled drone kill — including the country he’s reportedly residing in, The Associated Press reported.
But currently, CIA drones have him under surveillance but can’t attack due to his American status, AP said. The Justice Department must first build a legal case, showing the need to kill him — and so far, neither Attorney General Eric Holder nor his aides have done that.
Four officials with the U.S. government said in the AP report that the American suspect is currently in a country that won’t allow America's military to tread its lands. But using a drone to take him out would be especially tricky, given President Obama’s recently released policy that states only the military — not the CIA — can take fatal actions against suspected U.S. terrorists, AP reported.
The American-turned-al Qaeda suspect is described as a facilitator, responsible for committing several deadly attacks against Americans who are overseas. Two of the officials in the AP report also say this citizen continues to plan more attacks using improvised explosive devices, AP reported.’
Sunday, February 9, 2014
‘CBO: Health-care law will mean 2 million fewer workers
The Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by more than 2 million in coming years, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday in the most detailed analysis of the law’s impact on jobs.
After obtaining coverage through the health law, some workers may forgo employment, while others may reduce hours, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office. Low-wage workers are the most likely to drop out of the workforce as a result of the law, it said. The CBO said the law’s impact on jobs mostly would be felt after 2016.’
‘In the last two weeks, we learned that Bashar Assad has dismantled only 5 percent of his WMD arsenal, despite President Obama’s soaring rhetoric to the contrary. Russia violated a long-observed agreement with the U.S. about testing missiles. Iran’s take on the negotiations over its bomb program bears no resemblance to our interpretation. Chinese officials now happily leak fantastic stories about using their military to punish Japan. All that is trumped by veiled threats from the Sunni Gulf monarchies,
terrified of Iran, to buy a bomb or two from Pakistan. We hear other rumors that even China thinks the new leadership in North Korea is unhinged and is not worried about friendly warnings from Beijing…
In short, our Icarus-in-Chief, without much foreign-policy experience but with youthful zeal and good intentions, soared far too high for his flimsy waxen wings. Now they are melting, and as the American commander-in-chief careens back to earth, lots of those below are wondering what will come next. Still, there is a lot of irony as Obama freefalls to earth…
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Sunday, February 2, 2014
‘Citing Growth, Fed Again Cuts Monthly Bond Purchases
The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday another $10 billion cut in its monthly bond purchases in a statement that attributed the decision to “growing underlying strength in the broader economy.”’
‘China expels journalists over stories of party's wealth
The latest expulsion of a U.S. reporter in China on Thursday shows how the new regime is far more worried about criticism of top leaders — especially when it comes to the amassing of wealth — than in the past…
China has sentenced to long terms Chinese citizens who called for an accounting of what the Communist Party owns…
Official corruption is one of China's hottest topics. The ruling Communist Party says it can handle the problem internally and refuses to allow public or independent supervision of government and party officials. Sunday, a Beijing court jailed rights activist Xu Zhiyong for four years for encouraging citizens to lobby for officials to disclose their assets.’
Saturday, February 1, 2014
On May 16, 2008, Takei announced that he and Brad Altman would be getting married. They were the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license in West Hollywood. On June 17, shortly after Takei and Altman obtained their marriage license, they spread the news by holding a press conference outside the West Hollywood city auditorium. They were married on September 14, 2008, at the Democracy Forum of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, of which Takei is one of the founders.Walter Koenig was his best man, and Nichelle Nichols was the matron of honor. Reverend William Briones of the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple of Los Angeles presided.
Takei's marriage is one of thousands of same-sex marriages that took place at a time when same-sex marriage was legal in California. The California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, did not affect Takei's marriage and other same-sex marriages entered into before its passing on November 4, 2008.