July 2011

Jul 2  Yesterday in Syria after Friday prayers hundreds of thousands marched nationwide. Human rights groups say that at least 24 people were killed by security forces. The Assad regime has begun to allow foreign journalists into the country, and one of them, Deborah Amos of National Public Radio, reported from Syria yesterday on the News Hour that the city of Hama was belng run by protesters. She spoke of some Syrians afraid of the protesters because they didn't know who the protesters were. This involved the tolerance of brutalities by people not themselves under attack, people supporting the peace and stability that dictators love.

Jul 2  US Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Ohio Democrat) met recently with Assad and yesterday told CNN's Eliot Spitzer that Assad is "aware of the need to bring democratic reforms and understands that time is running short." Kucinich is opposed to anti-Assad violence and civil war and he scolded Spitzer for his lack off concern over "what comes next." Spitzer, on the other hand, appears to be among those willing to take a chance on great numbers of people who join a struggle for the sake of liberty, freedom and democracy.

Jul 3  Democracy triumphs in the Kingdom of Thailand. The new prime minister will be Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of exiled Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup and was the hero of Red Shirt protesters and much of the rural population. Affluent urbanites disliked his reforms and higher taxes. The outgoing prime minister concedes victory to his rival – Thailand's first woman prime minister.

Jul 4  While in Syria troops in the city of Hama are raiding homes and arresting people, reforms in Morocco expressed in a referendum win big – too big according to Moroccan protesters. They march and call the reforms "window dressing." They are free from government harassment but politically isolated. According to BBC News the yes vote on King Mohammed's new constitution is supported by all "main political parties, unions, civic groups [and] religious leaders." The king is to remain head of state, the military and a religious figurehead. A prime minister is to run the government and be chosen as are prime ministers in Britain, and an independent judiciary is to be reinforced. The European Union supports the changes, saying "it signals a clear commitment to democracy." King Mohammed's tolerance toward dissent appears to be working, while hatred for Syria's prevaricating dictator, Assad, remains unabated.

Jul 5  Many of us, including a lot of Republicans, recognize that business people these days are sitting on a lot of money rather than investing in economic growth and creating jobs. There are economists who blame this on consumers not spending creating less of a market for whatever goods companies produce. Some others want to blame President Obama. They say that business people aren't spending because Obama has created uncertainty concerning taxes. It fits their stance against new taxation of any kind. Their theory asks us to believe that because of an increase in PERSONAL income taxes on superwealthy executives, CORPORATIONS would be reluctant to invest to catch up with consumer willingness to buy.

Jul 8   A half million or hundreds of thousands in the Syrian city of Hama are reported to have taken to the streets today. They treat the ambassadors from France and from the United States as heroes. Many are carrying olive branches and chanting: "We only kneel to God." One proclaims: "As long as we have no security forces, we have no violence." Elsewhere across Syria today, according to reports, at least 14 are killed, including six in a Damascus suburb. (BBC News)

Jul 9  South Sudan celebrates its first day of politiclal independence.

Jul 9  In Malaysia, 1,650 are arrested (according to the police) for participating in an illegal protest in Kuala Lumpur. Protests are allowed, but a permit was not given for a large protest in the capital. Rally organisers want electoral reforms and fair coverage by government-linked news media.

Eliot Spitzer

Eliot Spitzer. Search Spitzer-Bozell to watch Spitzer's interview with Media Research Center founder L. Brent Bozell III.

Jul 11  Britain's phone-hacking scandal and the fall of Rupert Murdock's News of the World newspaper originates with the British public's appetite for stories about murders and tiddle-taddle – as described today by columnist Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post. It's the same appetite for the sensational that results in purchases of supermarket tabloids in the US also owned by Murdock and that influences the delivery of "news" on a variety of commercial television stations.

Jul 13  Eliot Spitzer has been dropped by CNN as prime time host of a program that was respected by many as a stimulating and brainy 8pm television alternative. Yours truly was one of what must have been many who were delighted that an able man like Spitzer had been able to pick himself back up from the mistake he made that caused him to resign as governor of New York. Tim Graham, the analyst at Media Research Foundation, a conservative group dedicated to the elimination of liberal bias in the media, sees it differently. On onenewsnow.com, Graham is quoted as saying,

It's one thing [for CNN] to say, 'We're going to have a politician, a Democrat politician, host a talk show' on a network that's billing itself as the centrist alternative to Fox and MSNBC; that was confusing ... But much worse than that was that Eliot Spitzer was a disgraced man who solicited high-priced prostitutes. He was lucky he wasn't behind bars instead of on television.

Jul 15  Another Friday and more of the Assad regime dialoguing with bullets. According to Aljazeera, the "biggest protests so far" occurred today, and "14 protesters have been killed across Syria."

Jul 16   Annual World Population Day occurred on the 11th with little notice. The PBS television program Need To Know mentioned it yesterday and described the decline in concern starting after the Nixon administration – Nixon having been concerned. There were businessmen and land speculators who saw profits in population increases. There were those with a religious orientation who were opposed to family planning and abortion. There were those who saw concern with population growth as directed against blacks, and there was the exaggeration in Paul Ehrlich's book Population Bomb. Europe and industrialized Asian countries have addressed the issue of population somewhat successfully. Among the industrialized powers the United States is the fastest growing – a little under 3 million more people per year.

Jul 17  A Gallup poll taken last week has 42% voting against raising the debt ceiling and 22% for, despite the realization by all who have an understanding of the debt problem that not raising the debt ceiling would produce economic disaster. In other words, leadership is required from the Senate and Congress, not over-simplification and demagoguery. Hats off to those among the 35% who chose the "don't know enough" category.

Jul 19  Time magazine reports that the research arm of the consulting firm McKinsey has compared the overall US debt with that of other countries – that is government debt, individual household debt, corporate debt and bank debt added together and compared to our GDP. The US's debt is equal to 275% of our GDP, compared to over 450% for Britain, about the same for Japan, 350% for Spain and a little above 300% for France. The US debt level is about the same as Germany's, and Germany is said to be performing well economically.

Jul 20  In Malaysia, Ms Kamariah Ali belongs to a sect that believes in the healing powers and purity of water. She describes herself as no longer a Muslim. Malaysia is 60 percent Muslim. Malaysia's civil court has ruled that she must be tried in an Islamic court because she is a Muslim, and there she will be tried for apostasy.

Jul 22  Speaking of food, Josette Sheeran of the U.N. World Food Program has recently said that, "For the first time in most people's memory we're in a post-surplus world." She was in Indonesia and pointed out that many children there are without adequate nutrition and their physical brains are not developing as well as children who are getting sufficient nutrition. One bad drought or one bad flood, she said, means higher food prices and more food deprivation. Indonesia has a population growth rate estimated at 1.07 percent per year, roughly 2.6 million people per year.

Jul 23  The city of Hama has been described as 80 percent with the protesters and 20 percent "opposed or unsure." Youths in the city are organizing defensive positions against government forces and documenting the missing and dead. People are gathering as they did in Cairo in February and they are singing songs, including one which has become an anthem: "Come on Bashar, leave." Ibrahim Qashoush became prominent singing these songs at rallies until earlier this month when he was snatched away. The next day his body was pulled from a river. His throat had been cut and his vocal cords ripped out. (Told by Anthony Shadid of the New York Times to Jeffrey Brown of the News Hour.)

Jul 25  What is "cultural Marxism?" Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who killed 93 or so people three days ago, saw himself as fighting multiculturalism and cultural Marxism. In the US, Pat Buchanan and Congressman Ron Paul have been described as also oppossed to "cultural Marxism." To associate Buchanan or Paul with what Breivik has done would be dumb about as simple-minded as the article that describes cultural Marxism as the corruption of America. It can be found on the internet. (Search ron paul and cultural marxism.) The article suggests that the aim of the cultural Marxists is to sneak into the United States the Marxism that gripped Stalinist ideologues in the thirties and forties. I have news for them: that Marxism is gone, and was not as pervasive in the 1960s as described in the article. It doesn't even exist in China. The article mentions Jerry Rubin, the notorius sixties radical. Rubin detested Marx. He and Brevik had one thing in common: politics by theatre. That was before Rubin became a stockbroker.

Jul 25  Ayaan Hirsi Ali, known for her hostility toward multi-culturalism, writes today on Facebook: "Hate is never the answer. Our hearts go out to everyone in Norway."

Jul 27  Nigeria's president since early 2010, Goodluck Jonathan, asks members of parliament to amend the constitution to limit presidents to one-term in office. With this, he says, politicians would focus more on governance and less on re-election. Jonathan is an example of a new breed of leader coming to the fore in Africa. It's Doctor Goodluck Jonathan, by the way. He holds an M.Sc. degree in Hydrobiology and Fisheries biology, and a Ph.D. degree in Zoology.

Jul 27   A new poll from Reuters/Ipsos has 31 percent of respondents blaming congressional Republicans for the breakdown in the budget negotiations and 21 percent holding President Obama responsible. In other words Republican rhetoric is not doing as well as the president's rhetoric, perhaps because more of the public believes as Obama does that people with super-incomes should be paying more in taxes than their secretaries and Republicans remain 100 percent anti-tax. Meanwhile, some on the anti-Obama side of the debate claim that Obama isn't taking the debt problem seriously enough. Instead, many on Obama's side see the debate as a question of what is best for the economy including the debt. It's still pro and con about trickle down economics and compromise versus all-or-nothing.

Jul 30  Some US Congressmen believe they are uttering profundities when they tell us that we are spending too much money and should stop spending more than we take in as revenues. They repeat the old cliche that when you are in a hole you should stop digging. Indeed, any simpleton can see that we have an economic problem, but they accuse those who don't stick with their simplicities as being illogical. Staying with their rhetoric, they give no recognition to the factual complexities that impinge on choices as to HOW BEST to overcome the nation's debt. They don't like complexity. But they and the rest of us realize, do we not, that simpliticity can be dangerous.

June 2011 | to August 2011

Copyright © 2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.