October 2010

Oct 1  The US Senate has approved a bill (S. 2847) that requires television stations and cable companies to refrain from making commercials louder than the rest of their programming. This regulation law was sponsored by Democrats. The House and Senate will work the bill into law after the November 2 election.

Oct 1  President Obama apologizes to Guatemala for US scientists conducting a study in 1946-48 that involved intentionally infecting prisoners and patients in a mental hospital with syphilis. The government of Guatemala had given permission for the study.

Oct 3  Germany ends its World War I reparations payments to the United States. This is the last installment of interest on bonds Germany created in 1924 and 1930 to raise cash to meet the demands by the Allies at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

Oct 3  In a taped interview, China's premier, Wen Jiaboa ("Grandpa" Wen to the Chinese), describes China's stimulus programs as working – a stimulus program Fareed Zakaria describes as ten times that of the US in relation to each country's GDP. China's stimulus includes investments in infrastructure, upgrading industry technology, investments in science and providing an economic safety net and social security for the population in general. China's public debt for 2009 described by the CIA World Fact Book is 16.9% compared to 52.9% for the United States.

Oct 3  Wen Jiaboa tells Greece's parliament that China supports a stable euro and will not reduce its holdings of euro bonds.

Oct 4  Britain's conservative government announces that it will no longer pay a universal child subsidy to wealthier families. As of 2013, families making $70,000 or more per year will not qualify for the program that pays $32 a week for a first child and $21 for each subsequent one. The benefits were created at the end of World War II to encourage childbearing.

Oct 7  A double suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in Karachi, Pakistan, kills 9 and wounds 55, with more expected to die. The Sufis are peace-loving Muslims. In debates about Islam in the US they have been emphasizing the moderate and flexible nature of Islam.

Oct 7  The Pew Research Center has released polling results concerning the elections in three weeks. Despite the pitch against government spending, 53 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who has a record of bringing government projects and money to their districts, against 11 percent who said they would be less likely. Regarding an incumbant running for reelection, 53 percent said it would make no difference and 26 percent said they would be less likely to vote for an incumbant. The health care issue was evenly split.

Oct 8  Now online, on video and transcript, an Oxford-style debate of the century, with four good minds participating, on October 6 at New York University. The proposition debated: "Islam is a religion of peace."

Oct 10  The BBC describes about one in five brides in the Russian Federation's southern republic of Chechnya as having been kidnapped and forced into marriage, done in connivance with the imam who presides over the wedding – with families of the kidnapped rarely contacting the police. "Instead, they go to their village imam." Chechnya is predominately Sunni. Chechnya's president, Ramzan Kadyrov, has declared that the abduction of brides is un-Islamic and must be "eradicated from society". The BBC reports in this same article that, "Since June, unidentified men with paintball guns have driven round the centre of Grozny [the capital] shooting at women with uncovered heads. Leaflets were pinned on doors and scattered on the pavements which urged women to dress more modestly or face the consequences."

Oct 11  Quote of the Day: "I don't blame anybody for being mad. We've had a huge economic body blow. But I'm old enough to know that if you make a decision when you're mad – and this is not just politics – there's about an 80 percent chance you're going to make a mistake." Bill Clinton.

Oct 14  Britain's conservative prime minister, David Cameron, is getting more attention in the US for his views that are contrary to positions taken by US Republicans. According to Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, British conservatives "are addressing their fiscal crisis with seriousness and specificity... Second, the Conservatives call for shared sacrifice, starting in a place Republicans seem never to look: at the top." Marcus adds the following Cameron quote: "Government has a role not just to fire up ambition, but to help give it flight."

Oct 16  Prime Minister Merkel of Germany tells her political party gathering that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany have "utterly failed."

Oct 17  The Democratic Republic of Congo's first lady, Olive Lembe Kabila, leads thousands of women on a march against sexual violence. Her husband, President Kabila, has failed to protect people in villages distant from the capital, and villagers are not organized or armed well enough to protect themselves against soldiers passing through. Margot Wallstrom, who leads UN efforts to combat sexual violence, has recently accused government forces of participating in rapes, killings and looting – which the government denies. The UN has peacekeeping forces in the country and near where numerous rapes have occurred, but the "peacekeepers" are described as ineffective. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the poorest nation in the world except for Zimbabwe.

Oct 22  Britain's conservative government has announced its austerity strategy. Jobs will be lost and spending cuts of more than $130 billion will be made. In her column in the Washington Post Anne Applebaum goes on to say that in Britain, "Payments of all kinds – to university students, inhabitants of public housing, the BBC – will be chopped, blocked or frozen." The retirement age will rise. But Britain, she writes, remains silent while across the channel the French are "loudly on strike" over raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. Both countries, writes Applebaum are "acting like living caricatures of themselves."

Oct 23  Britain's conservative government promises no change in free universal benefits for people over 75. This includes no charge for television reception or medical prescriptions.

Oct 24  In the United States it is eight days before congressional elections. Weeks ago, rightist pundits on Fox News were predicting with glee a devastating defeat for Democrats – President Obama's party. Some Republican candidates began their campaigns accusing Democrats of "politics as usual." Politics as usual is now in full swing among those trying to become incumbents as well as by incumbents.

Oct 24  King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia calls for global efforts to establish peace and justice and speaks of the need to safeguard the interests of humanity. He adds that, "Saudi Arabia stands for the whole world. Our religion is Islam and we believe that other religions are revealed from God. We spread the teachings of God for the benefit of humanity."

Oct 26  The Swedish press reports that in the city of Malmo an immigrant community is "gripped with fear" while a search is taking place for an unknown gunman "thought to be responsible for nearly 20 shootings."

Oct 26  In their Intelligence Squared debate the team of Laura Tyson and Nouriel Roubini ridicule the idea that the American people are being oppressed by the government they have chosen. Tyson says it is for the public to balance what they want from government with what they are willing to pay, that it is an arithmetic problem. Roubini calls his debating opponents, Phil Gramm and Arthur Laffer, the two high priests of supply-side economics and describes that as a religion – lacking any real empirical evidence for its conclusions.

Oct 27  Supporting California's legalization of pot initiative, columnist Katrina Vander Heuvel cites "surveys by the US and Dutch governments that 41 percent of Americans have used marijuana, compared to 22.6 percent of residents of the Netherlands, where it is legal."

Oct 27  Osama bin Laden describes the kidnapping of five French citizens in Niger in September as punishment for "France's injustice to Muslims," and he describes France's forthcoming restrictions on use of the full veil as "colonial oppression."

Oct 31  Ayaan Hirsi Ali's foundation has announced that on 27 October Germany decided to make forced marriages a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.

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