Monday, July 23, 2012

Last Call


Despite concerted Democratic attacks on his business record, Republican challenger Mitt Romney scores a significant advantage over President Obama when it comes to managing the economy, reducing the federal budget deficit and creating jobs, a national USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

By more than 2-1, 63%-29%, those surveyed say Romney's background in business, including his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation's economic problems over the next four years.

The findings raise questions about Obama's strategy of targeting Bain's record in outsourcing jobs and hammering Romney for refusing to commit to releasing more than two years of his tax returns. Instead, Americans seem focused on the economy, where disappointment with the fragile recovery and the 8.2% unemployment rate are costing the president.

He's done, it's over, measure the drapes for President Romney, it's hopeless, we're all...wait, what?

In the separate Gallup tracking poll, the race stands at 46% Obama, 45% Romney.

Really.   So....despite all the CEO preisdent stuff...people are still preferring the President.   Gosh, it's like Gallup and USA Today are in the business of trying to sell a really close race or something.

Westboro Fail Is Really A Win

The Westboro picketers had chosen a Missouri soldier's funeral to use for publicity, when people came together to make sure they weren't successful.

A planned protest by the Westboro Baptist Church was overshadowed Saturday when thousands of supporters gathered at the funeral of a fallen soldier to block the radical church's effort.
Thousands of people in red shirts formed a "human wall" around the Columbia, Mo. church where 21-year-old Army Specialist Sterling Wyatt's funeral was held. Wyatt was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month.
Westboro Baptist Church, an independent Kansas-based church known for its extreme ideology and widely condemned demonstrations, had indicated plans to picket the funeral. When Tori Smith, an acquaintance of Wyatt's, got wind of the protest plans, she decided to organize a small group of supporters to counteract the church's negative actions. Word of Smith's plans spread quickly, drawing thousands to the church on Saturday morning.
See, that's how you do it.  Show respect for the fallen, for the families you live with grew up with, and enforce decency in a way that promotes goodness.  Westboro members have no class, no integrity and no clue.  However, the people who stood up to them were able to demonstrate grace, kindness and strength.  

Well done, guys.

From A Child's View

Years ago, kids from an orphanage in Sudan were given cameras.  Volunteers taught them how to take pictures, and turned the kids loose to photograph what was significant to them.  The results were so moving and powerful that was born.

Photographs from these trips have brought thousands of dollars to the children's organizations. Bullock says they have a lot of freedom as a small group to address each community's needs individually. "That's the great part of our model. We get to have the conversation with the organization and ask, 'What do you need?'"
In Sudan it was lifelines, like food and medicine. In New York it was educational needs, after-school learning and computers. Cuba's greatest need was humanitarian aid like food and medicine, but the community also needed a center where the children's parents could be taught business classes.
100cameras raised $17,000 for the Sudanese orphanage. It was used for critical maintenance to get a truck running that brings in food and medicine. The money was also used to build a fence that keeps them protected from violence of rebel forces in the region.
The staff says they are overjoyed by the fact that these kids are creating their own success. Bullock says, "It's really exciting for kids there to see these changes and to feel an ownership in that."
The goal is to have their cameras stretch around the globe, and for the impact to continue to be both economic and personal. "We want as many kids as possible empowered with the idea and concept that their perspective matters. To know it's their work that can create change in their own communities."
The kids don't just get a handout, but the chance to truly bring change to their communities.  The photographs are pretty cool, and each project gets better and turns out better results.  I'm impressed.

Aw, Nuts

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In a study based on 62,000 Danish mothers, the children of those who atepeanuts and tree nuts while pregnant were less likely to develop asthma or allergies than the kids whose mothers shunned nuts.
The results support the recent withdrawal of recommendations that pregnant women should avoid nuts because they might raise a child's risk for allergies to the nuts themselves and for other hypersensitivities like asthma, according to the U.S. and Danish researchers.
"There's some mixed data out there and this current study is showing that maybe there might be a benefit to your child in having less asthma later on if you continue to just eat the way you're still eating and not avoid (nuts)," said Dr. Todd Mahr, a pediatric allergist at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, who was not involved in the study.
In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics rescinded its recommendation that women should avoid eating peanuts while pregnant to prevent a possible food allergy, and the UK's health agency did the same in 2010.
There is little research implicating even peanuts, specifically, eaten by a pregnant mother and her child's risk for peanut allergy - much less a wider range of sensitivities. Yet the fear continues to lead many expectant mothers to steer clear of nuts.
The article has many other findings listed, as well as information about what these numbers mean.  For example, the focus was on nuts so there may be other foods that aren't turning up in the results.

Being a mother is a difficult job, no question.  Trying to filter medical information in this overload would be daunting.  It's upsetting to know that tribal knowledge is steering women in the wrong direction.  More research should give more facts to use to make sure mothers can make good decisions and eat well during pregnancy.

The Fall Of The House Of Jackson

Katherine Jackson was reported missing by at least one concerned family member.  As TMZ has reported, authorities believe Jackson is safe and well in Arizona.  Why do they think this?  Why hasn't the mother of Michael Jackson released a simple statement putting minds at ease?  We don't know yet.  Something feels weird, but when has this family ever been normal?

Michael's daughter Paris has been outspoken and honest.  After living a life of hiding, the girl has found her voice and isn't afraid to speak.  It's refreshing, and may peel layers of stupidity back so this dysfunctional group can move on.

Some sources say the 82-year-old woman is resting on doctor's orders, some say with one of her daughters.  She has been  under a lot of stress with Michael's estate, though the good news is it is nearly out of debt after an amazing financial comeback.  Michael Jackson may have had a complicated relationship with his father, but there was never a doubt that he loved his mother and would have wanted her to be well cared for.

This morning, TMZ ran an update that Katherine reached out to let concerned family members know she is okay.  No explanation as to why she was reported missing or why she isn't at home.

The Pain In Spain Continues, Part 3

Several more Spanish regional governments are now asking for bailout billions as Spain's problems continue to grow worse.

The Balearic Islands and Catalonia are among six Spanish regions that may ask for aid from the central government after Valencia sought a bailout, El Pais reported.

Castilla-La-Mancha, Murcia, the Canary Islands and possibly Andalusia are also having difficulty funding themselves and some of these regions are studying plans to tap the recently created emergency-loan fund that Valencia said it would use yesterday, the newspaper said, without citing anyone.

Spain created the 18 billion-euro ($23 billion) bailout mechanism last week to help cash-strapped regions even as its own access to financial markets narrows. 

And with Spanish 10-year bonds now well into the danger zone at 7.25% and climbing, the cost of that bailout is only going to get significantly worse.  Spain and California have about the same number of people (46 million) and close to the same GDP (California is about $2 trillion, Spain about $1.5 trillion.)  Imagine if 6 California counties, not cities but entire counties, declared bankruptcy and demanded bailout money?  That's where Spain is right now.

And yes, that should scare you.  If Spain goes down, Europe follows.

Getting Serious On Syria, Part 8

The NY Times dropped this piece in our laps on Sunday, claiming that the Obama administration is just going to dropkick al-Assad out of Syria and be done with it.

The Obama administration has for now abandoned efforts for a diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Syria, and instead it is increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad, American officials say.

Administration officials have been in talks with officials in Turkey and Israel over how to manage a Syrian government collapse. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is headed to Israel in the next several days to meet with Israeli defense counterparts, following up on a visit last week by President Obama’s national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon, in part to discuss the Syrian crisis. 

The White House is now holding daily high-level meetings to discuss a broad range of contingency plans — including safeguarding Syria’s vast chemical weapons arsenal and sending explicit warnings to both warring sides to avert mass atrocities — in a sign of the escalating seriousness of the Syrian crisis following a week of intensified fighting in Damascus, the capital, and the killing of Mr. Assad’s key security aides in a bombing attack. 

The administration has had regular talks with the Israelis about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities, administration officials said. The administration is not advocating such an attack, the officials said, because of the risk that it would give Mr. Assad an opportunity to rally support against Israeli interference. 

The plan appears to be as with Libya, to greatly increase assistance to rebel groups and give them the means to force al-Assad out by violent means.  In other words, regime change, Obama style (hopefully without the ten year war afterwards with US troops.)

It's pretty clear that the massacres in Syria will not stop unless al-Assad goes, but I'm not sure the cure will be better than the disease or not here.  It's at least worth debating.  Sadly, there's no such thing as political debate in Washington these days, so whatever the Obama administration decides to do, it's already a done deal.

We'll see.


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