February 2010

Feb 1  According to the BBC, the Somali group al-Shabaab has confirmed that it is aligned with "the international jihad led by the al-Qaeda network."

Feb 1  President Barack Obama announces a $3.8 trillion budget for 2011 that includes increased spending for job creation. He forecasts a $1.56 trillion deficit for this year. The gross national debt today is $1.29 trillion. It's estimated at 86 percent of GDP. [Chart, 1950-2010]

Feb 1  Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes appeared yesterday on ABC's "This Week." Ailes is considered by some liberals in the US to be a cynical mediocrity with too much power. According to the Huffingting Post, he mischaracterized Fox commentator Glenn Beck's warning back in October of a "slaughter" and a "killing spree." Ailes distorted a comment about him on the Huffington Post. Ailes didn't answer Paul Krugman's specific example of deliberate misinformation at Fox. Responding to Ailes' explanations, Arianna Huffington said that "words matter." Ailes said that people were not stupid and ended by pointing to Fox News as a leading success in ratings and saying that he was in the ratings business.

Feb 2  Recently in Mumbai, India, an 11-year-old girl hanged herself. Suicide among children is rising to more than one per day in Mumbai, said to be their escape from pressure to perform well on exams. A spokesperson for the World Health Organization says that around the world more people are dying from suicide than from homicides and wars combined.

Feb 6  Police in Turkey have dug up the body of a teenage girl with large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach, telling them that she was buried alive. Her hands were tied behind her back. The girl's father and grandfather are to be tried for her murder. The two are reported as having adhered to an old tribal tradition: killing the girl in order to bring honor back to their family. The father is reported as saying: "She has male friends. We're uneasy about that." The incident took place in the mostly Kurdish town of Kahta. It is described as a stronghold of the Naksibendi Islamic sect, banned by Ataturk in 1925. But the sect has revived in recent years. The Turkish people, mostly Muslim, are reported to support fully the criminal proceedings against the girl's murderers.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

Feb 7  The Tea Party convened at Nashville yesterday. Comments from the podium and the floor suggested another anti-incombency movement – as in the slogan "Take Back Our Country." As with previous anti-incumbency movements they derided "politics." This was accompanied by urging people to run for office or to help candidates and how to campaign effectively. They intimated that they could do it better than today's incumbents because they are sticking to "principles," suggesting that incumbents were without principle. They expressed their intention not to enunciate a party platform, which could divide them. And they spoke of things they are against: the national debt, government spending and taxes. They cheered enthusiastically when these sentiments were repeated by their evening speaker, Sarah Palin. Will this anti-incumbency movement really change things unlike previous anti-incumbency movements?

Feb 11  This week, Robert J. Samuelson writes in the Washington Post about a lack of candor in American politics. "There's a huge mismatch between Americans' desire for low taxes and high government services," he writes. "The budget is mainly a vehicle for transferring income to retirees from workers." And, "...there is no way to close the massive deficits without big cuts in existing government programs or stupendous tax increases."

Feb 15  China has in recent days exercised the socialist aspect of its economy: the state has again, for the second time this year, commanded its banks to increase their reserves – to prevent the economy overheating (bubble growth). In China the banks do what the state wants them to do. China's economy grew 10.7 percent during the last three months of 2009.

Feb 17  The BBC reports that, unlike China, banks are not acting as the government has wanted. Britain's government has spent billions of its currency, the pound, trying to boost lending, and many businesses are not getting the loans they need.

Feb 17  Yesterday at a news conference, President Ahmadinejad responded to the possibility of new sanctions, saying, "If anyone does anything against Iran, then our response won't be the same as in the past. No, we will definitely react and make them regretful."

Feb 18  In Malaysia nine days ago three women were caned for having an extra-marital sex. The women were prosecuted under Islamic law.

Feb 19  China summons the US ambassador to complain about the Dalai Lama's visit to the United States. China describes the Dalai Lama as having launched an armed rebellion in March 1959, having fled to India where he formed a "Tibet government in exile," and since then having aimed to split China and to undermine Tibet's social stability.

Feb 20  On the 18th, A. Joseph Stack III, an amateur pilot, crashed his small airplane into a building in Austin, Texas, that housed the Internal Revenue Service.

Feb 24  The President of Toyota Motor Corporation appears before the US Congress Oversight and Government Reform Committee. This gives the Toyota president an opportunity to speak to the US public. But, with US congressmen never doing anything for show or self-promotion, we in the United States don't expect serious legislation as a product of the hearings.

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