November 2008

Nov 1  Rival economic-political philosophies square off four days before the US presidential elections. The Republicans, including John McCain, want to reduce taxes for business people. This, they believe, would create more jobs. Democrats accuse Republicans of "trickle down economics." They believe that the economy would fare better with tax levels for wealthy financiers and investors returned to what they were before the presidency of George W. Bush. Democrats tend to be concerned about a distribution of wealth that has long favored those with great wealth and that has returned to the levels that existed before the Great Depression. Obama says his economic plan will benefit working people which, in turn, will benefit investors as, he says, it did during the Clinton administration – a trickle up theory. And Obama plans to create jobs by government spending for infrastructure and new sources of energy. John McCain describes Obama's plans as "redistributing the wealth" and as "tax and spend."

Nov 3  In the last day of the campaign, candidate Obama continues to associate McCain's economic philosophy with that of President Bush. McCain continues to describe himself as the wealth creator and Obama as the wealth destroyer. Television interviews give evidence that McCain calling Obama the wealth distributor creates fear among at least a few people that Obama would take some of their meager but hard-earned wealth and give to people who are not working. And Republican campaign ads include Reverend Wright's "God damn America" clip that questions Obama's judgment and patriotism and calls him "too radical and too risky."


elect Obama

President-elect Obama

Nov 4 Obama wins the election and speaks of working together with Republicans to solve the nation's problems. He congratulates his supporters for producing change, and they chant one of Obama's slogans: "Yes we can."

Nov 5  Abroad, Obama's success is greeted with widespread cheer. As reported in the Washington Post, Saudi journalist Samir says it means "the US has won the war on terror" and that "people here are starting to believe in the US again." A new respect for the US Constitution and democracy is expressed. Also, globetrotting Japanese blogger-journalist from Tokyo, Joichi Ito, reports in the Washington Post that under Bush the US looked stupid and that by electing Obama it "looks open, diversity embracing, humble and intelligent." President Sarkozy of France tells Obama, "At a time when we must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe and beyond." But among some Palestinians and Israelis are doubts and fears.

Nov 5  Afghan President Hamid Karzai complains again to the United States that air strikes are counterproductive. He complains about civilian deaths in a bombing on November 3 in Kandahar Province.

Nov 6  According to Gallup polling, McCain did well with regular church-goers and non-Hispanic white males, McCAin winning both groups by 56 percent. Obama did well among women, winning 56 percent of the female vote. He won 64 percent of those with postgraduate degrees and 61 percent of those 18 to 29 year-olds.

Nov 7  It is reported in the New York Times that in China "The three engines of growth – exports, investment and consumption – have all slowed down." From China, the China Daily reports that the Chinese government is preparing a stimulus package that injects capital into long-term infrastructure projects: the construction of railways, ports and energy resources.

Nov 8  In Indonesia, three Islamic militants are executed by firing squad for the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people. They have been described as eager to be martyrs for their dream of a South East Asian caliphate. A tiny minority of radicals have been gathering at the various home villages of the three condemned men to pay their their respects.

Nov 8  In New Zealand the right-of-center National Party takes advantage of economically bad times and in elections defeats the Labour Party. Prime Minister Helen Clark, in office for nine years, will step down.

Nov 9  The size of China's stimulus plan is revealed to be 586 billion dollars and will include a tax cut.

Nov 9  Columnist Nicholas Kristoff writes of the US having elected "an Ivy League-educated law professor who has favorite philosophers and poets." Kristoff hopes that "someday soon our leaders no longer will have to shuffle in shame when they’re caught with brains in their heads."

Nov 9  An article in The New York Times by Sarah Lyall describes Icelanders as stunned by "the plummeting" of their currency and "the first wave of layoffs." The shocking failure of Iceland's banks she describes as having followed Icelandic bankers "roaming the world and aggressively seizing business, pumping debt into a soufflé of a system." She quotes an Icelander as saying of the banks, “they’re the ones who ruined our reputation.”

Nov 9  Anita Snow for the Associated Press quotes the Cuban Communist leader Armando Hart: "We have before us the immense challenge of how to face a new chapter in the cultural struggle against the enemy." Hart was referring to what might happen should Cuba's Communists no longer have a hostile United States government to point to as a threat.

Nov 11 The Iraqi government signs an agreement with the China National Petroleum Corporation to extract oil. No US firms have signed such an agreement. In early 2003 some in the US were claiming that the US was going to war in Iraq because of interest in its oil.

Nov 11  In Somalia, radical Islamists in power in the port city Kismayo are reported to have alienated people because of the death of a thirteen-year-old girl, Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow. She had been raped by soldiers and then charged with adultery by a court. She was buried up to her neck. She pleaded for her life and was then stoned to death.

Nov 12  Uruguay's Senate and Lower House have voted to decriminalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, arguing that it will reduce the number of women dying from illegal abortions and that it will advance the rights of women. The Roman Catholic Church in Uruguay has warned legislators who voted for the bill that they could face ex-communication.

Govenor Sarah Palin

Candidate Palin

Peter Mansoor

Col. Peter Mansoor

Nov 12  In Dubai the boom in housing appears to be over, according to the Wall Street Journal. The end of easy credit has scared away buyers, "especially local and international property speculators who have helped fan years of price increases."

Nov 13  Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin says of President-elect Barack Obama, "If he governs with the skill and grace and greatness of which he is capable, we're going to be just fine." During the campaign she complained of Obama having palled "around with terrorists who would target their own country," and she accused him of having a "a left-wing agenda packaged and prettied up to look mainstream.''

Nov 14  Peter Mansoor, a retired colonel who had been General Petraeus's selected executive officer, tells Charlie Rose that while in Iraq in 2003 officers were having a hard time communicating to policymakers that the war they were fighting was different from what the planners imagined – contrary to the principle of at least giving a hearing to the opinions of frontline commanders.

Nov 15  A new group of twenty nations (G20) meets for an economic summit in the US capital. It is said to be the most important such meeting since Bretton Woods in 1944. They agree to begin reshaping financial institutions, to reform worldwide regulatory and accounting rules, and they agree to each country submitting to regular reviews by the International Monetary Fund.

Bill Ayers

Professor Ayers, 60s activist

Nov 15  President Bush and some other "conservatives" are unenthusiastic about the US economy coming under global supervision. France's President Sarkozy speaks of difficulty in persuading Bush to hold today's summit. After the conference, President Bush speaks of positive results and assures the nation that he is a "free market person."

Nov 18  On National Public Radio, Bill Ayers is interviewed by Terry Gross. Candidate Palin called him a terrorist who targeted his own country. Ayers tells Terry Gross that he has no regrets for having opposed the war in Vietnam. He says that he and his fellow Weather Underground were targeting only property while civilians were being targeted and slaughtered in the war he was trying to stop. He says his tactics were naive and that he believes in doubt: "When you act you have a responsibility to doubt ... You act, you doubt; you act, you doubt. Without doubt you become dogmatic and shrill and stupid. Without action you become cynical and passive and a victim of history, and that should never happen."

Nov 18  Somali pirates are believed to have anchored their seized Saudi oil tanker off the coast of Somalia. Somali pirates have had been receiving ransom money from shipping companies and living well, in big houses, with new cars and beautiful women.

Nov 19  For the BBC, Martin Plaut writes about an alliance between Islamist hardliners, known as the Shabab, and Somali pirates. The Shabab hold points "all along the Somali coast." They "have a degree of control over several pirate groups and provide operating funds and specialist weapons in return for a share of the ransoms being paid to free the ships and crew."

Nov 21 The French left-of-center party is described by one of their leaders, Bertrand Delanoe, as "gravely ill." The center-right party is healthy and in power. It supports a larger role for government in the economy than has been supported by conservatives in the United States, and President Sarkozy supports more regulation than has President Bush. French people have not been buying on credit so much as people in the United States because of government regulatory limits on borrowing.

Nov 21  Somali Islamists turn against Somali pirates, criticizing them for having targeted ships from Islamic nations.

Nov 22  A major culprit in this year's economic meltdown is being publicized. It is credit rating agencies in the United States. They were playing a new game. According to the New York Times back on April 27, "Their profits surged, Moody's in particular: it went public, saw its stock increase sixfold and its earnings grow by 900 percent." Credit rating agencies are private companies in the business of labeling risk. An AAA rating is highly prized. It was in these agencies' interest to rate new residential mortgage packages with ratings suitable for investors – investments that proved faulty.

Nov 23  According to a US intelligence study, described by Scott Shane in The New York Times, al-Qaeda's “unachievable strategic objectives, inability to attract broad-based support and self-destructive actions” are leading to the group's decay. “The appeal of terrorism is waning,” said the report.

Nov 24  Swiss are angry with their country's largest bank, the Union Bank of Switzerland, UBS, which is seeking a bailout by the Swiss government. UBS lost money in the US sub-prime mortgage market.

Nov 24  In Sweden, Rolf Wolff, dean of the school of business at Gothenburg University, has called on the government to nationalize Volvo and Saab – to keep Sweden in the auto industry. The Swedish government is waiting to see what happens with the US parent companies of Volvo and Saab, Ford and GM, before deciding on financial support for the two companies.

Nov 25  National Geographic reports that oceans are becoming acidic ten times faster than previously predicted. The increasing acidity is described as unbalancing ecosystems "and could trigger a dramatic shift in coastal species and jeopardize shellfish stocks."

Nov 26  Oil rises from around $50.77 per barrel to $52.50. Russia is talking about joining Opec, and Opec is talking about cutting production, which helps them protect their supply levels, but it raises prices. The decline in crude oil prices from more than $130 a barrel in May broke a speculation bubble in oil, and an economic downturn has reduced demand. Saudi Arabia wanted the decline in prices, but regarding prices some people still demonize Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, an oil industry leader in Dubai predicts oil to rise to $80 per barrel as early as 2010.

Nov 26  In South Korea a popular actress, Ok So-ri, is being prosecuted on a 50-year-old anti-adultery law which carries a maximum jail sentence of two years. Her husband is seeking the maximum punishment. She claims that her marriage is loveless. The law was created in the belief that adultery damages the social order.

Nov 27  In Britain, six weeks ago the government announced up to 50 billion pounds (87 billion dollars) in cash to troubled banks in order for the banks to keep credit flowing. The banks are unwilling or afraid of lending even to worthy borrowers. In want of credit, small businesses are shutting down and the economic crisis grows. (PBS NewsHour November 26.)

Nov 27  In Iraq's 275-member of parliament, of the 198 who are present 149 vote in favor of US troops pulling back from Iraqi streets by mid-2009 and leaving entirely by the end of 2011. Iraq's government hails the vote as a prelude to full sovereignty for their country. Those opposed want the US to leave sooner.

Hemant Karkare

India's Hemant Karkare, 53,
mourned with all the others.

Nov 28  In Nigeria the mostly Christian-backed governing party, the People's Democratic Party, is declared to have won the state elections in Plateau State. With claims that the elections had been rigged, Muslims from the Hausa community attack Christians, and Christians fight back. Mosques and churches are set afire. The rampaging kills at least 238 people.

Nov 29  The attack in Mumbai that began on the 26th ends with at least 195 dead and 295 injured. Among the dead is the anti-terrorist squad chief Hemant Karkare, who led the charge against the attackers. Just as the 9/11 attack in New York City was a follow up on a previous attack, the latest attack in Mumbai may be a follow up on a terrorist assault in Mumbai in 2006 that killed nearly 200. That assault was by a group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen. Just as the 9/11 attack was against buildings with symbolic significance, so too were the attacks in Mumbai – at the Taj Mahal Hotel, near the Taj Mahal, in India's great financial center. And an attack was made against a Jewish center, where attackers murdered six hostages before they were annihilated.

Nov 30  It is reported (on, Nov 29) that Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News and other media, "absolutely despises Bill O’Reilly," his evening commentator, and that Fox News chief, Roger Ailes, also despises O'Reilly. It is suggested that O'Reilly continues with Fox News because he continues to produce viewers.

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