October 2009

Oct 1  An international report describes Georgia as having started its war with Russia in August 2008. The report was commissioned by the Council of the European Union. It was written by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini with the help of 30 European military, legal and history experts. During the US presidential campaign, Russia was described as the aggressor and confrontation was urged.

Oct 1  The 60th anniversary of the Communists taking power in China is celebrated with a great show of parading tanks, soldiers, air power and fireworks, with speeches about the success of China's socialism. One can still hear in the United States talk of victory in the Cold War. But a victory of what sort? The defeat of Communism? Almost 18 years ago, the Soviet Union divided into independent states. Free enterprise triumphed over central planning, but the "Cold War" and a sporting-event-like political "victory" were words of fantasy by people who believed the free world had continued to be in a life and death struggle rather than the "peaceful coexistence" and cooperation sought by Soviet leaders and sought by the leaders of China to today.

Oct 2  In Guinea, Captain Camara, who seized power in December, tells Radio France Internationale of anarchy. The army, he says, "is unstructured." In other words, he does not effectively command it. He expresses fears for his safety.

Oct 4  Richard Goldstone of South Africa, who led an independent fact-finding mission created by the United Nations Human Rights Council, complains that Israel's prime minister, Netanyahu, misreprented the investigation that he led regarding the Gaza War of last December. Goldstone: "We didn't question the right of Israel to defend itself or to defend its citizens. It clearly has that right. What we looked [for were] the methods used in doing that."

Oct 5  David Letterman, on his Late Night show says "You can't be victimized by criminals. You have to push back." Rather than pay to keep hidden his having had sex with a couple members of his staff, he chose to push back against an extortion attempt. The affair, it seems, took place before Letterman married – in March this year – to the woman he had been together with since 1986. He says that he very much regrets having hurt her.

Oct 7  After years of development and operation, the Envion Corporation is launching an efficient oil generator. It transforms plastic waste back to its origion form – crude oil – without producing "second-time pollution."

Oct 7  Arrests numbering around 100 are made in the United States and Egypt for cyber crimes: "phishing" on the internet for the purpose of theft identity and fraud.

Oct 7  In Saudi Arabia, a 32-year-old man who spoke on television about cruising the streets and his sexual exploits has had the car and the cell phone he used confiscated by the state. He has been sentenced to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes to be applied in installments.

Oct 9  President Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Rightwing conservatives in the US are offended, believing that he is receiving the prize for not adequately broadcasting or pursuing the mission that God has bestowed upon his country. Monica Crowley is among the offended, complaining that Obama has been throwing US allies "under the bus." The Republican National Committee head, Michael Steele, says the prize to Obama indicates "how meaningless a once honorable and respected award has become." The prize was decided twelve days after Obama took office, for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Hamas and the Taliban join rightists in the US in disapproval. Israel's Netanyahu and conservative German chancelor, Angela Merkel, appear to be pleased.

Oct 12  In the US the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) announces that the recession is over. Republicans, including Rush Limbaugh, are not giving the Obama administration any credit for it. They proclaim that President Obama so far has accomplished nothing. The NABE and everyone, including President Obama, expects a muted recovery.

Oct 12  Vladimir Putin's political party, United Russia, sweeps regional elections across Russia. In Moscow it wins 66 percent of the vote, the Communist Party is next best with 13 percent. The liberal party, Yabloko, wins less that 7 percent.

Oct 14  The Dow Jones Industrial Average rises above 10,000 for the first time this year. to 10,016.

Oct 14  On Larry King Live, Ben Stein, conservative media-talk careerist and columnist for the conservative American Spectator, fails at an attempted profundity. "If we can't be trusted," he says, "we're not a great power." A more sagacious conservative might claim that power differences might create distrust while lack of power differences creates indifference.

Oct 15  France's High Court has ruled that Monsanto Corporation has not told the truth about the safety of its best-selling weed-killer, Roundup. Roundup's main ingredient, glyphosate, is classed as "dangerous for the environment" by the European Union.

Oct 17  In Germany, prosecutors have filed a motion against the English traditionalist Catholic bishop, Richard Nelson Williamson, who has said, "There was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies." Williamson is being charged with inciting racial hatred. According to Wikipedia, Williamson, 68, also sees changes created by Second Vatican Council as "unacceptably liberal and modernistic."

Oct 19  Ben Bernanke warns that it is urgent that Asian nations (China would be among them) change to a greater focus on buying imports for home consumption. He believes that the longstanding imbalance of trade needs to end.

Oct 19  According to worldometers.info there are more than twice as many births so far today as deaths. At this moment, around 10 pm, 353,600 births and 154,500 deaths.

Oct 21  In Italy, Parliament Speaker Gianfranco Fini calls for international support to the interfaith dialogue initiative by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Oct 21  Authorities in Syria have aroused international criticism by arresting the 78-year-old veteran dissident Haitham Maleh. Syrian authorities claim that Maleh has spread false information. Recently Mr. Maleh described Syria as being run "by decree." Apparently Syrian authorities do not want Mr. Maleh to malign their image.

Oct 21  In the US is talk of the decline of accountability journalism and the rise of advocacy journalism. Newspapers and TV news departments have been cutting back on correspondents who merely describe and who do investigative reporting. Opinion we have plenty of. In the US a public news agency is confused with government control. No prospect exists for building from existing public radio and television to something similar to the BBC. The British can afford it, but US citizens cannot.

Oct 26  The Obama administration is putting a limit on compensation for individuals in those companies the government has saved from ruin. Some complain that this will cause these companies to lose their best managerial talent. Meanwhile, culture remains an influence. Early this year, in response to the economic slump the president of Japan Airlines was riding the bus to work, eating in the company cafeteria, and he cut his salary to $98,000. Today the CEO of Germany's Siemens Corporation has an annual total compensation of €123,950, equal to $185,925. The CEO of General Electric, Jeff Immelt, who is one of the better CEOs in the United States, received no bonus with his base salary of $3.3 million at the end of 2008. In 2007 he had been paid a 5.8 million bonus – part of the go-go corporate culture in the United States.

Oct 27  In Germany, the carmaker BMW plans to link executive pay to workers’ wages in order to prevent a widening salary gap.

Oct 28  Civil war is being fought in Pakistan. The arrival of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton coincides with a rise in bomb explosions at various locations across the country. In Peshawar, a bomb explodes in a marketplace and 105 are reported as killed and a couple of hundred injured. Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, broadcasts a message to the Taliban: "You think, by attacking innocent people and lives, you will – you will shake our determination? No, sir, you will not. We will be more determined to fight you and defeat you, for our own reasons, because we have a vision for Pakistan. And that vision does not fall in line with what you stand for."

Oct 31  Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, George H.W. Bush, US President at the time, says of Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet leader at the time, "Through it all he stood firm, which is why he'll also stand tall when the history of our time in office is finally written." Helmut Kohl, Germany's chancellor at the time, was also present. Gorbachev told the group, "The people were the heroes. The three of us don't want to take credit for the accomplishments of the previous generations."

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