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December 2010

Dec 1  In Saudi Arabia, students who have qualified for the King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program are warned that when studying abroad they should not join groups or parties that are banned in the countries where they go. And they are warned to "not become involved in any activity that violates the law of that country, and should not make friends with students who are unsafe to associate with.” They are further warned, writes arabnews.com, "against giving contributions or gifts to illegal or unlicensed organizations."

Dec 4  Indigenous Easter (Rapa Nui) Islanders are trying to prevent what happened to the original Hawaiian people. They have voted to restrict immigration in fear of being overwhelmed. The island was annexed by Chile in 1888. Chileans are turning the island into a tourist destination – with some 50,000 visiting the island yearly. Chilean police combating a peaceful protest occupation of a building have injured dozens of people, according to the BBC.

Dec 6  In Europe's continuing debt crisis and looming banking crisis, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks against increasing a bailout fund. German taxpayers remain unenthusiastic about their wealth helping to finance the lifestyles of other people in the European Union. European governments are trying to trim their budget deficits to assure bond markets.

Dec 11  In the US, Republicans hold to their belief that the best way to raise revenue to pay off the debt is to not tax the very wealthy so that they will have money to invest in economic growth. Democrats believe that the super wealthy have more money now than they are willing to invest. Compromise legislation is in the works. The Obama administration will allow the tax cuts for the super wealthy that the Bush administration created back in 2003 to continue, and the Republicans will allow extensions on unemployment benefits. Government spending continues to rise and the only hope for increased revenue to start reducing the debt is a robust economic recovery, which few expect.

Dec 15  David Cote, CEO of Honeywell, tells Gwen Ifill of the News Hour that given "the cash that is on the sidelines" he would say that what is holding up investing is "uncertainty of demand. If you're a CEO, you're going to be cautious about investing money in plants or hiring employees unless you can be certain of demand. And I would say that this is the thing that is holding us up." By demand, of course, he means people buying. The problem in other words is not of CEOs with too little money but common people with too little money to spend.

Dec 17  The US tax plan is signed into law. The Bush tax cuts for everyone are extended two more years and benefits for the long-term unemployed are extended thirteen months.

Dec 23  President Obama signs into law Congress's approval of the New Start Treaty with Russia. The treaty will cut deployed nuclear warheads by these two nations by 30 percent.

Dec 23  President Obama signs into law Congress's repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Law." Homosexuals are now free to serve in the US military without having to lie about their sexual orientation.

Dec 23  Former Argentine military ruler and de facto president (1976-81), Jorge Videla, is sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity, specifically the killing of 31 prisoners dragged from their cells and executed with the claim that they were trying to escape. Videla has said that he accepts "the responsibility as the highest military authority during the internal war. My subordinates followed my orders." Videla is described as the "main architect" of Argentina's "Dirty War." In that war as many as 30,000 people were tortured and murdered.

Dec 26  Speaking on CNN, Google CEO Eric Schmidt expresses concern about the US losing its edge in innovation. He says, "People assume that somehow America's government was not involved in the world 50 years ago. Almost all of the science and technology research that we take for granted now came out of the Defense Department spending post World War II." (transcript)

Dec 27  China is planning its transition to a leading purveyor of high-value technologies. It is interested in investing as much as $1.5 trillion dollars in the coming five years in industries: alternative energy, biotechnology, new-generation information technology, high-end equipment manufacturing, advanced materials, alternative-fuel cars and energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies. Pursuing its Communist Party capitalism, the central government will encourage local governments to invest and it will push on corporations to do the spending and banks to lend money.

Dec 28  Describing last week's presidential election in Belarus, Anne Applebaum writes: "Having failed to achieve a majority, President Alexander Lukashenko beat up the other candidates, arrested journalists and falsified poll results to take power. Belarus's transition from communism to democracy has not merely failed: It has never taken place at all."

Dec 28  In Iraq, nine months after parliamentary elections, a new government is formed. Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shia, will have another term as prime minister. By the end of 2011, all US forces are to be withdrawn. This is in keeping with Iran's desires. As a neighbor and a Shia power, Iran has some influence on Iraq.

Dec 30 The NewsHour, discusses news in 2013 about the fight against cancer. Miles Obrien, describes research regarding our immune system killing cancer cells as it does other harmful cells, and he says cancer researchers "are extremely excited about this," but there is a funding problem. He adds: "Every researcher I talk to, every scientist I speak with speaks about what a dark time it is for federal funding for basic scientific research... A lot of people in Washington would say, well, why don't we have the private sector fund this? The private sector doesn't fund things if it doesn't see a good solid business plan."

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