Tuesday, December 30, 2014

End of the Year!

At the beginning of the year I posted the comment below.  It’s time to see how we did:

As we look ahead we can see any number of positive possibilities for this year.  How many do you think will come to pass?

A positive outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian talks that Kerry is pushing.  NOPE!
A positive outcome to the Syrian civil war talks scheduled to begin this month.  NOPE!
A positive outcome to the talks with Iran about rolling back their nuclear program.  NOPE!
A new immigration policy for the U.S.  A PARTIAL NEW POLICY, THANKS TO OBAMA!
A positive view of Obamacare by the end of the year.  MORE PEOPLE ARE POSITIVE, YES!
A reduction in the dysfunction/gridlock on Capital Hill.  NOPE!
Less violence and killing in S.Sudan/Egypt/Somalia/Iraq/Afghanistan/Nigeria/Pakistan/Congo++
A great World Cup in Brazil.  I’D GIVE IT A YES!
A higher minimum wage.  IN A FEW PLACES – A PARTIAL YES!
Less unemployment/More jobs.  YES!

Ten possibilities.  The cynics among us would not expect many positive outcomes.  As for the optimists, well hope springs eternal.  I’ll revisit this list a year from now and report on the results.

OK, to summarize:  Five on the “YES” side.  Five on the “NOPE” side.  I’m surprised at the number of positive outcomes.  Maybe a little less cynicism is in order. 

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

In Case You Missed It!

In China they have “Pain Experience Camps” where expectant fathers are fitted with electrodes that simulate childbirth contractions.  It is reported that their wives approvingly watch the process.

Nebraska and Oklahoma are suing Colorado, saying that legalization of marijuana has led to cross-border drug trafficking in their states.

The Wall Street Journal disapproves of New York Governor Cuomo’s move to ban fracking.  Big surprise!

The Wall Street Journal disapproves of Obama’s new Cuba policy.  Another big surprise, right?

Cover up:  A Korean Air flight attendant who was ordered off a plane when the daughter of the airline’s chairman threw a tantrum is accusing Korean Air and government officials of trying to whitewash the incident.

Cover up:  Michael Garcia, hired by FIFA to investigate corruption in the World Cup bidding process, has resigned.  His report, which apparently corroborates the allegations, was watered down and will not be seen by the public.  As usual, FIFA and its dictator/president Sepp Blatter think public accountability and transparency are dirty words.

In Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for cracking down on undocumented immigrants, is disbanding a squad that has focused on raiding businesses to arrest people with fake IDs.  This move follows evidence that Arpaio’s people have been profiling Latinos and are facing civil rights violations.

Don Siegelman, former Governor of Alabama serving time for a bribery conviction, has been denied bail while he appeals.  This is not his first appeal.  For nine years his claims that he is a victim of political prosecution have been bouncing around the federal court system.

Legislators in Kenya’s Parliament stopped voting and started fighting in a dispute over a controversial security measure.  I have no information on who hit who and whether there was a winner.  Democracy in action.

In Myanmar, three men pleaded not guilty to charges they insulted religion.  They had posted an online ad for a bar in Yangon that featured an image of a pink Buddha wearing headphones.  I wonder whether the offense was the color or the headphones. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No End To It!

Every day we hear the same stories:

Innocent people are killed in an attack on a school or other public place.  There’s no end to it!

Hostages are being held.  There’s no end to it!

A family member goes bezerk and slaughters his wife, ex-wife, in laws, ex-in laws, children.  There’s no end to it!

A bomb explodes in the middle of a city.  There’s no end to it!

A peaceful protest turns violent.  There’s no end to it!

A public official is accused/convicted of wrongdoing.  There’s no end to it!

A government tries to cover up illegal actions.  There’s no end to it!

An unwillingness to compromise prolongs a controversy between countries/clans/companies/religious groups/unions/families/etc.  There’s no end to it!

Maybe tomorrow will be different, but don’t bet on it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Good News!

The Senate released the CIA torture report, citing lies, brutality and lack of oversight with little to show for it.  Predictably, the Wall St. Journal and assorted right wingers opine that the conclusions are inaccurate.  Good news!

Apparently 196 countries are going to sign on to an agreement to cut fossil fuel emissions.  Good news!

The UN refugee agency says new commitments will allow for double the number of Syrian refugees who can settle in third countries.  Not enough, but good news!

Also on Syria, the UN food agency says new financial support will allow food aid for refugees to resume.  Good news!

A French hostage who has been held in Mali by Al Qaeda for more than three years has been freed.  Good news!

Congressional leaders reached a deal to keep the government open for a while.  Too little too late, but good news!

Detroit is no longer a city in financial emergency and says it doesn’t need an emergency manager any more.  An outcome few would have predicted a couple of years ago.  Good news!

Juventus made it to the knockout round in the Champion’s League.  Good news!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Thoughts for Today!

Nice to hear that Russia is slipping into a recession.  Couldn’t happen to a more deserving people.

Nice to hear that despite the cries of ‘No’ from Venezuela, Russia and a few others, OPEC will not reduce oil output in the face of falling prices.

This means, of course, that oil prices will continue to go down – less dollars at the pump for Americans – while American oil production continues to skyrocket.  Downside: this reduces the pressure to move away from fossil fuels in favor of renewables.  A short term economic gain for the red, white and blue and a long term catastrophe for humanity.

Nice to hear the Darren Wilson isn’t getting a severance package from the Ferguson, MO police.  I could say ‘Good riddance’ but there is no satisfaction in him getting off without so much as a slap on the wrist.  There should have been a trial, and let the chips fall where they may.  I keep wondering about what would have happened if Wilson had been black and Michael Brown white.  No need to wonder.  I know the answer to that one.

Nice to hear that the NFL is playing defense for a change.  Questions being raised about the lack of a transparent and consistent process for disciplining players who misbehave.  Questions being raised about head injuries.  Questions being raised about widespread use of painkillers that are usually used for horses.  Etc. . .

Nice to hear that women are fighting back in India.  Time to stop covering up rape and letting the perpetrators off the hook.  Time to stop domestic abuse by unhappy husbands.  Time to stop men from harassing, groping and verbally intimidating women in public places.  Time for economic equality for women – in India and beyond.

Nice to hear that the centrist parties in Israel pissed off Netanyahu so much that he kicked them out of his government and called for new elections.  It would be even nicer if these new elections made a difference in Israel’s behavior and increasing isolation in the world.  Don’t bet on it.