March 2010

Mar 1  American pundit Fareed Zakaria spoke in favor of the Value Added Tax on his CNN broadcast yesterday. This is a tax added to the cost of goods and services – a national sales tax. Zakaria is upbeat about the United States and claims that the Value Added Tax could eliminate the income tax for 90 percent of taxpayers, balance the federal budget and fund health care for everybody. He adds, we need leadership in Washington. Zakaria points out that the Value Added Tax is used in 130 countries.

Mar 2  In the US, drivers are complaining that digital billboards are distracting, visual noise and too bright – in addition to wasting energy. One complainer describes the problem as a no-brainer for normal people but apparently not for state legislators.

Mar 4  In Texas, the old strategy of running against the bums in Washington continues to play well with voters. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison ran with it in the 1992 election that took her to Washington. In a primary race for governor, she was smashed by her fellow Republican opponent, Governor "Rick" Perry. Perry associated her with Washington and portrayed himself and Texans as outsiders. He finished with a 20 percent lead over Hutchison and campaigned with slogans such as "Quit spending all the money," "Stop trying to take over our lives and our businesses," and "Stop messing with Texas!"

Mar 5  Egyptian author, Alaa al Aswany, is viewed on tape yesterday on the News Hour saying that in Egypt more that seventeen TV channels every day promote Wahabi ideas. He complains that "They are against Shia, people of Iran. They are against even Muslims who are for democracy, like myself, accusing me of being secular, against the religion. They are against Jews, of course. They are against Christians. They are against everybody who is not with them."

Mar 10  In Nigeria, Muslims have attacked a Christian community near the city of Jos in revenge, it appears, for Christians having killed Muslims back in January. Christians are burying their dead and complaining about the absence of an application of state military power in preventing the violence. Cycles of revenge between neighbors are ages-old, but "experts" appearing on the News Hour last night focused on economic conflict as the problem rather than religious differences and humanity's stupidity. They did describe the problem of governmental weakness.

Mar 17  Africa is going to need all the food it can get to feed Africans. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is seeking to secure farmland in Africa and elsewhere with which to grow food for its population. Like much of Africa, Saudi Arabia has a high population growth rate.

Mar 19  A mob of Cubans find joy in heckling "Ladies in White," who march to protest the continued imprisonment of 50 or so dissidents. From among the mob comes the justification: "They are against the revolution and we will defend the revolution until the end." That the revolution is so shakey that it is jeopardized by a few women in white remains unknown.

Mar 22  Last night in the US, amid great emotion, Democrats passed a health care bill. The bill is now awaiting President Obama's signature. According to today's Washington Post, Democrats with police protection had to pass by a massive crowd in front of the Capitol building shouting insults, including racial epithets at Congressman John Lewis, anti-gay epithets at Congressman Barney Frank, and insults such as: "You communists! You socialists! You hate America!"

Mar 23  President Obama signs into law the health care bill, titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Among the provisions: Health Insurers cannot deny children insurance based on pre-existing conditions. New plans must cover preventative care and routine examinations. Insurance companies cannot deny coverage to someone after he or she becomes ill. Insurers must reveal how much is spent on overhead. New procedures will be implemented to help eliminate fraud and waste. The bill in Ralph Nader's words, "...does not provide coverage that is universal, comprehensive or affordable."

Mar 23  Conservative pundits with brains, Michael Gerson and George Will, go on record today complaining that the health care bill that President Obama is signing into law, today, is an irresponsible burden added to a structure of entitlements that is already precarious – in short, that the US cannot afford to have a health care that does not come close to what Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, et cetera, provide their citizens. George Will writes that improvements in the health care system promised by the Democrats is implausible and that America's dynamism, and hence upward social mobility, will slow. Time will tell.

Mar 24  Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry announces the arrest of 113 al-Qaeda militants who were planning terrorist attacks on targets inside the country, including oil installations.

Mar 26  Sweden best uses information technology and communications according to a new report from World Economic Ranking (WEF). The US – thought by some of its citizens to be the most innovative of nations – ranks 5th. Singapore ranks 2nd and Denmark 3rd. China and India rank 37th and 43rd, well ahead of many other developing countries.

Mar 30  President Obama signs into law a bill that ends federal government subsidies and guarantees to banks as middlemen in government loans to students. Cutting out the middleman, said the president, would save the government $68 billion over 10 years.

Mar 31  In Zimbabwe a new law introduced this week intends to correct the legacies of colonialism. China has been integrating its economy with foreign investors, but the pseudo Marxist Robert Mugabe wants to give black Zimbabweans control in almost all companies. The new law, according to the BBC, seeks also "to prevent white people from owning things like hairdressing and beauty salons." Under Mugabe's rule, Zimbabwe has developed the world's worst economy, and it is among the worst politically. Meanwhile, a member of Mugabe's political party, Saviour Kasukuwere, complains as did toadies for Saddam Hussein during President Clinton's administration. Kasakuwere says "Our children are dying because of sanctions."

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