Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Winter Storm Nemo body count.

Nemo was a Climate Crisis storm. Heart attacks, shoveling snow and car accidents. The seniors need to stay home and forget about the shoveling. They can call for help if they need groceries or otherwise.
A look at the deaths related to the massive snowstorm (click here) that blanketed the Northeast in 1 to 3 feet of snow and battered the coastline with high winds and some flooding.


A 73-year-old man fell while cleaning up in Danbury and later died.

49-year-old man in Shelton apparently suffered a "medical event" while shoveling snow.

A man was found dead in a driveway in Bridgeport. His body was discovered under snow.

A woman in her 80s who was clearing snow Friday in Prospect was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said five people died; details were not immediately available on the fifth death.


A 75-year-old man disoriented by whiteout conditions crashed into a tree in Passadumkeag, then drove his pickup onto the Penobscot River. The submerged truck was found Sunday.


A boy who took shelter in a snowed-in car in Boston while his father shoveled around it died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Authorities said he was 13 or 14.

A man in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood also died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a running, snowed-in car.

A 60-year-old man died Saturday at a hospital after suffering a heart attack while clearing snow at his Webster home.

New York

A 23-year-old man plowing his driveway with a farm tractor went off the edge of the road and was killed in Columbia County.

A driver lost control in snowy conditions in Poughkeepsie and fatally struck a 74-year-old man.

A 58-year-old man apparently suffered a medical problem while removing snow from his car at a senior citizens' apartment complex in Selden on Long Island.

Ontario, Canada

An 80-year-old woman in Hamilton collapsed while shoveling her driveway.

A 49-year-old Oshawa man was killed as a result of a multi-vehicle collision in Pickering, east of Toronto, on Friday.

A 57-year-old Ottawa man died when his car crashed in blizzard conditions near Prescott, Ontario.

Tell me this makes sense.

That is Bill Haslam, the Tennessee Governor.
by Chris Conte
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Most prisoners (click here) end up behind bars because they did something wrong, but it appears hundreds of them may have continued to collect unemployment checks while sitting in jail.
"This isn't an issue where the department has an oversight and money just went out the door," explained Turner Nashe from the Department of Labor.

A few weeks ago Nashe and the department learned inmates received over $1.3 million in unemployment checks over the last year.

"It doesn't surprise me because we run into fraud all the time," he added.

Over the last few years every county in the state has put a new computer system in place that alerts victims' and their families when a criminal is getting out of jail and it turns out that technology found people on unemployment, ineligible for checks because they were incarcerated were still getting paid by the government.

"We've got about 65,000 people a week that receive a check, none of those people are not receiving a check because the people that are incarcerated are receiving a check," Nashe explained. (Huh?)

Officials say 944 inmates received those unemployment checks, spread that out across $1.3 million dollars and you average about $1,300 that each inmate received for the year of 2012.

"I don't think they were trying to cheat the system they just weren't telling the system to quit sending the checks (Huh?) even though they were incarcerated because someone at home was getting it," said State Senator Bill Ketron about the finding....

"I don't think they were trying to cheat the system they just weren't telling the system to quit sending the checks...

When an inmate doesn't inform the jail or prison they are receiving unemployment so the checks can be stopped that is doing something wrong. What the heck goes on in Tennessee?

The economy is showing resilience. We are doing fine.

The down turn in real estate in the USA started in 2007. It was about 18 months before the collapse.
...The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values increased 6.8 percent (click here) from December 2011, the biggest year-to-year gain since July 2006, after advancing 5.4 percent in November, a report showed today in New York. The median projection of 30 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 6.6 percent advance. Nineteen of 20 cities showed gains.
Near record-low borrowing costs and gains in employment are fueling demand and boosting property values as the number of houses on the market drops and foreclosures ease. The improvement is shoring up household net worth and confidence, which may underpin consumer spending even as an increase in the payroll tax reduces take-home pay....

Prices rising and foreclosures dropping in region's housing market (click here)

Published 9:55 pm, Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Southwestern Connecticut's housing market is on the mend, matching trends in the western part of the region and starting to catch up in the eastern section.

Two key reports on the housing market came out Tuesday and found positive trends in both prices and foreclosure rates....

...The Bridgeport-Stamford metro region is not included in the Case-Shiller index, but real estate agencies reported that prices in the region are climbing on increased sales and a reduction in the number of homes on the market.
Also on Tuesday, California-based CoreLogic released its report on foreclosure rates and the Stamford-Bridgeport market, which includes Danbury, experienced a drop of 0.25 percent to 4.38 percent in December of 2012 compared to a year ago. But foreclosure rates are still higher than the national rate of 2.9 percent, with large concentrations of foreclosed properties still in the Bridgeport area.
"All indications are that our market is better," said Cheryl Scott-Daniels of CSD Select Homes of Westport and president of the Mid-Fairfield County Association of Realtors.
She said the average sales price in December rose 37 percent to $770,208 in December. And sales increased to 511 from 438 a year ago....

The buyer market for a $770,208 home is not the norm. So, the recovery is limited from the beginning. Improvement in moving these homes is more than interesting.
Regulatory capture is a theory associated with George Stigler, a Nobel laureate economist. It is the process by which regulatory agencies eventually come to be dominated by the very industries they were charged with regulating. Regulatory capture happens when a regulatory agency, formed to act in the public's interest, eventually acts in ways that benefit the industry it is supposed to be regulating, rather than the public.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is a critic of regulatory capture. No surprise there.

But though the term will likely be omitted, (click here) an eye-opening new report released this morning by the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight shows that regulatory capture has become far and away the biggest problem facing the SEC. And because the financial industry is now so immense, that means regulatory capture at the SEC is also one of the biggest threats facing the American economy at large.

One of the critics of Mary Joe White, Former New York Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, stated it is a bit difficult to detail how her management at the SEC will transpire. His reason for saying that is due to her time representing the private sector, namely JP Morgan, Kenneth Lewis of Bank of America and John Mack of Morgan Stanley. In other words, will her reading of the SEC decisions be based in leanings toward the industry or not.

To understand how the public can come to understand the decisions of the SEC under Mary Joe White is to follow the leadership of Senator Warren.

I believe the understanding of Regulatory Capture in relation to the decisions of the SEC will be a guide to take ownership of those decisions by the electorate. It will certainly be a focus of Senator Warren and the legislation she will propose.

Her confirmation hearings are Mid-March, they should prove to be interesting and insightful to how the Senate views her time at the SEC.

The SEC has exempted certain senior employees from a “cooling off period”...Not surprisingly, this corruption has intensified thanks, in part, to loopholes in laws that permit such exemptions, redactions and ethics waivers. Ultimately, that has resulted in the SEC becoming a textbook example of regulatory capture — and that comes with a price. As the POGO report documents, the revolving door culture is decisively shaping SEC enforcement actions — or lack thereof.

Regulatory Capture is corruption. It should not exist.

...the past two decades “the agency has been systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations” thus keeping “an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG.”

This reference is in regard to employees of the SEC becoming employees of the companies they regulated at the SEC. I realize destroyed records are significant. That is not the point. The point is that if there are records missing from past proceedings regarding fraud, etc., that could work to benefit of the American people. Not that there are former SEC employees now working for those they regulated (a reason to go easy on those regulated to obtain a high paying job), but, it removes a lot precedent. There is literally a return to baseline of the understanding of the law. The missing files, while corrupt, can no longer act to 'drive' decision making from the Bush years. Regulation and legislation will be important to set the NEW STANDARDS. Senator Warren has her work cut out for herself in Congress.
The scientists figured it all out.

A circular hole in the ice of Chebarkul Lake, where the Chelyabinsk meteor reportedly struck on Feb. 15.

"Using the footage (click here) and the location of an impact into Lake Chebarkul, Jorge Zuluaga and Ignacio Ferrin, from the University of Antioquia in Medellin, were able to use simple trigonometry to calculate the height, speed and position of the rock as it fell to Earth.

"To reconstruct the meteor's original orbit around the sun, they used six different properties of its trajectory through Earth's atmosphere. Most of these are related to the point at which the meteor becomes bright enough to cast a noticeable shadow in the videos."

Now, I stated the day the 'fly by' occurred the asteroids that fell out of the sky were due to that fly by. I still believe that. The fly by was close enough to cause shifts (oscillations) in gravity of all the bodies in the area. The larger the bodies the less they were effected by any oscillation. But, the smaller ones in the area, in this case along the Apollo asteroid belt, would have been destabilized and would have had their trajectory effected. The fact we have these asteroids in the region of Earth frequently, it all fits together. The only thing unrelated between the near Earth asteroid and the ones that fell out of the sky is that they are in different orbits. Orbits don't matter if their come near each other or collide.

The Apollo asteroids (click here) are a class of asteroids with Earth-crossing orbits. The first Apollo asteroid was discovered in 1918 by Max Wolf observing from Heidelberg, Germany. A table of large Apollo asteroids is contained in Sky & Telescope (March 1990). There are 240 known Apollos (Minor Planet Center), but it is believed that there are at least 2000 Earth-crossers with diameters of 1 km or larger, 100,000 larger than the Rose Bowl, and 70-80 million larger than a typical house (Ostro 1997). One of the largest Apollos is Geographos, which is 5.1 X 1.8 km in size and was discovered in 1951 as part of the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (sponsored by the National Geographic Society, hence the asteroid's name).

That is not accurate.

The budget cuts are not cumulative. They are ten percent a year. Granted it is ten percent and loss of jobs, but, it is ten percent a year and not cumulative.

We are good go to with the cuts the way they are. It will work. 

The national budget returns to the same level every year. So, next year the $112 billion is off the the same amount this year. At least I think so.

If I remember right the House passed a $1 trillion budget last year. So, the $85 billion is off that $1 trillion.

So, the $112 billion in 2014 will be off $1 trillion, so long as the House doesn't increase the budget to $1.1 trillion. If the House does that it will negate the sequester cuts. 

We are good to go. When the war in Afghanistan was launched after the attacks of September 11, 2001, it took the military an entire month to get their act together. The first ship didn't sail until a month later. It is the same thing now. The military and the enforcement agencies have to reorganize and that is what is occurring.

There are going to be implications in the country, but, the spending will be about 90% of what is happening now. The job losses and the implosion on the economy will occur, but, it will become static after this year.

The politics will blame the President for all the electorate will complain about, but, the issue does not belong to President Obama. I had to back track a bit to remember what the conversation was when the Super-committee blew it. In the day, I remember thinking the country actually got the best deal going. I am fairly sure I understood it correctly then and I am still happy about it.

I still think President Obama and his Cabinet has to dole out the cuts and get over it with.

The F-35 Fighter needs to be cancelled and there needs to be trimming of pork, but, we are okay. There is going to be contraction, but, the Middle Class still came out on the upside of the deal. That is what I was worried about more. The economic growth has been determined by the strength of the Middle Class.

The tax base still is terrible. The poverty post 2008 has skyrocketed. That has to be reversed.  President Obama is correct, the country still needs more revenues by closing loopholes and it would be better to still tax those with an annual income of over $250,000.

The growth will be slower and the Middle Class will carry the ball. It is where it belongs. Every advantage we can provide the Middle Class is important.

So long as the cuts aren't cumulative and there isn't more spending added to the Budget every year, we are going to be okay and the Middle Class got the best deal. If that is all the Middle Class can get out of the Republicans then we did it right. The Defense Spending has to come down. The economy will recover about 10% slower every year, but, what else is new?

The fact the Red States invest their economy heavily in military spending because it is free money from the federal government is their problem. If Virginia is over invested in the military industries, that is unfortunate. The Republicans when they were part of the Supercommittee should have put that on the front burner.

The fact the Red States and their military industries are going to take a down turn because they have not diversified their economies and relied on federal spending that is too bad. The Red States need to get a life.

Coming up will be the debt ceiling and the Republicans will once again attack the entitlements. They can go to hell. I guess they will close down the government. One of those Oops moments, I suppose.

If Virginia is upset over their share of military cuts, they might want to explore developing the vaginal probe industry and increase the requirements for vaginal probes at time of abortion across the country. More demand for the product, more sales, more economy. Sounds like a plan.
The rest of the Bush Tax Cuts for those with incomes over a quarter of a million dollars US per year have to be reversed. There is no other choice.

The Middle Class has to recover from decades of losses that allowed Wall Street to become out of control causing a huge economic tragedy in 2008.

The monies are spent. It has been spent on two wars and a recovery to stop an imploding economy that would have put the Great Depression to shame. 

Those expenditures, the loss of buying power of the Middle Class and many other insults to the USA economy over decades of exploitation and foolish politics has come to roost. 

It is time for the USA electorate to get serious about their country and trust the President we placed in the White House to guide us home.

All this is really very clear to me.

The National Debt is money already spent. Whatever of that debt that is not already spent needs to be ended where possible if it does not add to the economic growth of the USA.

But, the tax base to the USA has been reduced to hideously low levels. The poverty alone speaks to the degradation of our nation.

All that has to reversed and the USA has to recover it's economy through support of the Middle Class. Now, by support of the Middle Class, I mean it has to be returned to vibrancy. Incomes have to be restored. Education has to be available. Healthy social priorities for the nation will bring about a sustainable economy and not one that is trendy. Dedication to family and children is a good place to be. Very good place. It is our future, our future brain trust and the hope for our children.

We need to trust President Obama and believe what he says is best. The Republicans are playing very dangerous and disastrous politics.

There is an interesting dynamic that occurs over time with "The Sequester."

The only reason I bring this up is because I think the nation has to consider what is occurring as the electorate makes decisions.

President Barack Obama today sent to Congress a proposed defense budget of $671 billion for fiscal 2012. (click here)

This note is from 2011, I actually believe the Defense Budget is more than that today, but, for this purpose this is fine.

Let's just say the Defense Budget Cuts are 10% as the President stated today.

So, that means there is $67 billion reduced from the budget for the remaining year, until, January 1, 2014, when another $67 billion will be cut.

So, after March 1, 2013 the Defense Budget will be $604 billion after a reduction of $67 billion.

The cuts on January 1, 2014 will be more than 10%, but, that isn't what the focus is here. This is just a perspective to provide a reason to understand the future of the national budgets.

In 2013 the reduction was 10%.

Now, assuming the military budget is not increased by cost overruns and all that mess by January 1, 2014, the $607 billion will become $537 billion.

In 2014 the reduction will be 12%.

The same dynamic assuming there is no increase in defense spending by January 1, 2015 the military budget will be $470 billion.

In 2015 the reduction will be 14%.

That continues until the final cuts of 2022.

By the time the final cuts of 2022 are complete, the military budget will be $1 billion dollars US.

This is not a solution for the USA. Damage is being done to our country with these arbitrary cuts. There needs to be reductions in pork barrel spending, but, not destruction of the country's infrastructure.

$1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years is $112 billion per year. 

The Sequester was suppose to provide incentive to both the Democrats and the Republicans to get real about cutting the national debt. The obstruction to handling this 'task' was never to occur and now that it has the Republicans are using it as a political tool.

The Budget Control Act needs to be repealed and real cuts in ways that does not destroy the infrastructure of the country is what is needed.

By Alexander Bolton 02/26/13 03:29 PM 

...“We have a law that’s in effect. (click here) It’s call sequestration. Those cuts will go forward. They’re all cuts. I think we need some revenue to take the pressure off everybody. The American people agree with me, and until there’s some agreement on revenue, I believe we should just go ahead with the sequester,” Reid said.

Reid panned a proposal floated by Senate Republicans to give the administration more flexibility to manage the impact of the $85 billion in automatic cuts.

“Republicans are under the false concept that this so-called 'flexibility,' which is a nice-sounding word, gives the bureaucrats who would wind up doing this more money. It gives them no more money. Zero,” he said...

Cutting the USA Budget to reduce the National Debt is not going to work. The country will enter a recession and it will be one we may not recover from if this law continues to exist.

It is unfortunate that the Republicans took us down this road in order to raise the debt ceiling. It was a wayward exercise.
Congratulations, Senator Hagel. Welcome to the Obama Administration. We trust you with our troops and the defense of our nation.

I don't want to hear how President Obama is not tough on illegal immigration. Don't want to hear it.

Lady Gaga, a chihuahua mix, sits with his trainer, a detainee at the Etowah County Jail, Tuesday, December 4, 2012 in Gadsden, Ala. Detainees train dogs from the animal shelter as part of their education program. (Eric Schultz / eschultz@al.com)

Here we go, damned if you do and damned if you don't. It is the Republican strategy for their political ambitions.

Sessions is among the crankiest whiner among Republicans. His voice is shrill and gets the electorate's attention. He is a very good barometer to know what the political focus is for the GOP.

President Obama has no control over the disposition of any of the debt cuts, but, yet Sessions is crying he is the evil doer.

By Brian Lawson | blawson@al.com 
on February 26, 2013 at 1:39 PM, updated February 26, 2013 at 3:38 PM

..."Priority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders (click here) and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety."
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, blasted the moves in a news release this afternoon, saying the Obama Administration was using the sequester as an excuse "to bow to political pressure" from amnesty groups.
"The Administration's forced release of those in ICE custody further reduces the chances of reaching a bipartisan immigration accord," Sessions said. "There is no logical or rational reason why the 5.3 percent cut to ICE's operating budget would have to result in forcing law officers to immediately release already-apprehended illegal aliens and fugitives in federal detention.
"The last thing you would do to meet a budget cut of this size would be to voluntarily undertake actions that undermine the rule of law and endanger the public safety."...

I think First Lady Michelle needs to talk about The Mediterranean Diet.

Evidently, there is a remarkable study emerging that was so strong an indication to what is a happy heart, the study was ended to tell the world the good news.

Benefits of the Mediterranean diet (click here)

Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, a recent analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, and a reduced incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
For this reason, most if not all major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adapt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of major chronic diseases....
This diet is so great it is recommended by The Mayo Clinic.

Key components of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:
  • Getting plenty of exercise
  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
The diet also recognizes the importance of enjoying meals with family and friends.
I like it. It is going to dominate my shopping list. Do you know one of the easiest things to do when BAKING is to substitute apple sauce for margarine? It adds body, flavor and reduces calories. Try it with a small batch of muffins and see how wonderful it is.

Ending the planned cuts will never happen so long as Republicans have power within the circumstances of the country.

The President needs to listen to the rhetoric. It is astounding to hear. It is intractable noise that effects our country. Intractable. The Republicans want this to occur for political reasons and it is easy to see their political methodology.

They will seek to irritate every last nerve in the country when the citizens begin to feel the effects of the cuts. They are vicious. They don't care. They want war and they want a military that is growing. They don't care about the domestic economy, because, they want another North Korean regime right here in the USA.

North Korea knows nothing else except it's military. It is the basis of their nationalism. That is exactly what the GOP and the current Republicans in the House and Senate are seeking. A militarized nation. 

Nothing else is important to them. So, there you have it.

The best outcome right now is for the President and the Cabinet to take the responsibility of conducting the cuts and minimizing their impact. 

This is typical Republican revenge. They are pouting. There is nothing new here.

They have lived for this and they are living for the next brinkmanship. Once March 1st is past and the cuts go into effect, the best way forward is to make the cuts a part of every speech the President makes until January rolls around. Hopefully by then the irritation within the nation to counter the rhetorical Republicans will have taken over.

They don't care about immigration, women's issues, tax reform or any other promise the Democrats and President Obama has made to the people of this nation. Their agenda is to keep ranting about economics, cuts while attempting to assign them to the President and the Senate and House Democrats. They don't govern and they aren't going to start now.

With so many problems resulting already with anticipated cuts, those responsible in the Senate and House need to be impeached. What other alternative is there? This situation is intractable and it is intractable because Republicans have every political reason to have it happen. There is no constituent or any other American that is going to change this paradigm.

So, if the Republicans act responsibly and hand the tasks of the cuts to the President and his Cabinet there will be difficult decisions. There will be impacts. The Republicans will seek to make some kind of political gain from the impacts, but, that is where we are in the USA.

Republicans don't govern, they are politicians and they never stop being politicians long enough to govern. That is reality. That is fact.

Boehner: Time for Senate to get to work and stop sequester (click here)

That statement by the House Speaker is a lie. There is no bill before the USA Senate that will stop the "Sequester." It is a lie. But, Republicans lie. That is what they do. Governing is NOT playing with a hot potato. The House needs to pass a bill that will pass the Senate and bring about economic stability and a functioning nation. It isn't going to happen and they don't care if it doesn't.

If the President states the cuts need to stop, Boner will state there is a bill that will stop the cuts, but, the Senate won't pass it because they want more taxes. He will lie and lie and lie again no matter what is stated. It is intractable. 

Lindsay Graham has the best idea. The cuts should be left to the discretion of the President this year.

The Congress has already delayed the cuts by 2 months. We already know they are not capable of governing. I have never meant that more in my life. The debt cuts should be left to President Obama at this point. The entire circumstance is out of control.

If the Congress is concerned about a singular person making those decisions they could require the Cabinet Secretaries to submit cuts to the President for his signature. But, this an outrageous political paradigm in the USA. It is hideous. The Republicans are paralyzing the nation. Those most responsible such as the House Speaker and the Minority Leader of the Senate should be held for impeachment.

Simple legislation stating the debt cuts set by previous legislation needs to be carried out by the Executive Branch. One document for the President's signature. It will probably be all of a paragraph long and require simple majority votes. The Congress needs to get this done now.

This is overwhelming evidence of the political dysfunction in the USA. Obstruction and filibuster is not an option for the USA. It just isn't. The people trust President Obama elected to his second term. The people have spoken.

USS Truman, USS Gettysburg Deployment Delayed (click here)

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2013 – The deployment of the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg to the U.S. Central Command area of operations has been delayed, according to a statement issued today by Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.
The Secretary of Defense has delayed the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and the USS Gettysburg (CG-64), which were scheduled to depart later this week for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Area of Responsibility, Little said in his statement.
The USS Harry S. Truman is home-based at Norfolk, Va., and the USS Gettysburg is home-based at Mayport, Fla. 
Little's statement continues as follows:

“Facing budget uncertainty -- including a Continuing Resolution and the looming potential for across-the-board sequestration cuts -- the U.S. Navy made this request to the Secretary and he approved. This prudent decision enables the U.S. Navy to maintain these ships to deploy on short notice in the event they are needed to respond to national security contingencies.

“The United States will continue to maintain a robust military presence in the CENTCOM region, including the current carrier presence and a mix of other assets, to fulfill enduring commitments to our partners. The U.S. military continues to stand ready to respond to any contingency and to confront any threat in the region."

Vietnam and Australia have maintained diplomatic ties since before the fall of Saigon.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Australia held a ceremony to mark the 40 th anniversary of the Vietnam – Australia diplomatic ties in Canberra on February 25.

Last update 26/02/2013 (GMT+7)
...The relationship has flourished (click here) in both width and depth after the two countries established the comprehensive partnership in 2009. High-level exchanges and dialogues including visits by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Defence Minister Stephen Smith last year further deepened bilateral political and security cooperation, Thanh said. 

In terms of economic relations, Australia is now the eighth largest trade partner and the 18 th biggest foreign investor in Vietnam. Two-way trade hit 5 billion USD in 2012, a fifteen fold increase from 20 years ago. Meanwhile, the people-to-people relations have laid an important social foundation to consolidate friendship and mutual understanding in all fields, such as culture, education, sports, information dissemination and trading. 

Thanh said he hopes thanks to joint efforts by the two Governments and peoples, the Vietnam – Australia cooperation and friendship will continue to see strong growth....

Vietnam has come forward to support the United Nation's Peacekeeper forces.

7:22 PM Tuesday Feb 26, 2013
...Facing a rising demand, (click here) the UN has publicly appealed for countries to send more troops and police officers to help carry out its peacekeeping missions around the world. Vietnam didn't say how large a contribution it was prepared to make. Most of the 115 participating countries currently make only token contributions of less than 40 people.
State-controlled Tien Phong newspaper on Tuesday quoted Vice Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh as telling visiting assistant General Secretary Edmond Mulet that Vietnamese troops would be available from early next year. The report gave few other details.
Vietnam opened its economy to foreign investment in the 1990s and has followed a steady policy of embracing regional and international institutions. But the communist rulers of the country's 87 million people have shown no sign of relaxing bans on freedom of speech and political activism even as they seek greater global clout....

South Korea's first woman President.

South Korea's first woman President has a tragic history while facing a violent North Korea. The North Korean Kim is personally overseeing conventional military exercises this week.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Park Geun-hye (click here) became South Korea's first female president Monday, returning to the presidential mansion where she grew up with her dictator father.

Park's last stint in the Blue House was bookended by tragedy: At 22, she cut short her studies in Paris to return to Seoul and act as President Park Chung-hee's first lady after an assassin targeting her father instead killed her mother; she left five years later after her father was shot and killed by his spy chief during a drinking party.

As president, Park will face stark divisions both in South Korean society and with rival North Korea, which detonated an underground nuclear device about two weeks ago. South Koreans worry about a growing gap between rich and poor, and there's pressure for her to live up to her campaign suggestion that she can return the country to the strong economic growth her strong-man father oversaw....

The new President is seeking to grow the South Korean economy with a focus on science, innovation and the promotion of small business potential for the average South Korean.

South Korea's new president, Park Geun-Hye, arrives for an official dinner at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, Feb. 25, 2013.

Posted: 25 February 2013 1403 hrs
SEOUL: South Korea's new president hinted strongly (click here) Monday that she would seek to rein in the powerful conglomerates that dominate the national economy and have been accused of stifling innovation.

Park Geun-Hye made the domestic economy the focus of her inaugural speech as she was sworn in as South Korea's first female president in a ceremony in Seoul.

The daughter of the late dictator Park Chung-Hee, Park took aim at the giant family run corporations, or "chaebols", that were nurtured by her father as the motors of South Korea's economic growth.

There have been growing calls to reform chaebols such as Samsung and Hyundai whose interests have expanded into almost every sector of the economy, and whose financial clout has smothered smaller competitors.

"I believe strongly that only when a fair market is firmly in place, can everyone dream of a better future and work to their fullest potential," Park said in her speech....

It is nearly impossible for small business to compete against larger corporations that can out price the competition. She could seek to subsidize the smaller businesses to help them move into a larger part of the economy. Subsidies would end the unfair advantage of larger corporations that have slowed the South Korean economy.

..."In order for a creative economy to truly blossom, economic democratisation must be achieved," Park said Monday.

Promising to build a new "creative" economy, Park signalled extensive support for science and information technology industries, calling them her "key priorities".

"I will raise our science and technology to world-class levels," she said, pointing to the creation of a "Ministry of Future Planning and Science" tasked with running the programme....
Congratulations, Governor Christie in being snubbed by CPAC. He might have a real chance at being President himself should he decide to run.

CPAC has become obnoxious with right wing extremism and unrealistic answers for the nation. 

I am happy for him. He knows the GOP is all about Jeb Bush in 2016. There is no secret there. 

Governing Republicans currently elected to office should take this opportunity to refuse their invitations. It would provide a way to state they are serious about governing and moving the nation into prosperity once again.

His re-election is not at all in contention. It was good of a Democrat to throw her hat in the ring. She will be better known, but, there is no chance. Seriously.

Christie's approval rating has sustained. It will continue regardless of the GOP at CPAC. It might even increase when New Jerseyans realize he is unchanged by the snub. Can CPAC snub anyone? At this point if a person is passed over by CPAC, isn't it more or less a sigh of relief?

By Matt Friedman/The Star-Ledger 
on February 20, 2013 at 6:00 AM, updated February 20, 2013 at 6:09 AM

TRENTON — New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approve (click here) of the job Gov. Chris Christie is doing and think he deserves to be re-elected, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning
The Republican governor’s approval rating is 74 percent — the same as last month and the highest rating Quinnipiac has recorded for a New Jersey governor. Seventy-one percent of state residents think he deserves re-election to a second term in November.
By contrast, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) – the Democrat who is all but certain to take on Christie – is virtually unknown to voters around the state, with 83 percent saying they have not hear enough about her to form an opinion....

One potential 2016 hopeful (click here) who won't be there, however -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Despite being the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention and having a sky-high approval rating in the Garden State, CPAC officials told First Read Christie was not invited.

I had to go to the Bangkok Post to find a nice review of our First Lady.

Our First Lady is loved. She is loved by many, both at home and internationally. I think she is very special. She is grace under fire and rarely disappoints.

That is a nice thing for the country. 
The Academy had the best idea when they asked her to present. I don't know of anyone but Jack Nicholson who could have pulled it off so well. 
To begin, the movie line up for Best Picture was very political. Argo. Beasts of the Southern Wild. Django Unchained. Lincoln. Zero Dark Thirty. It could be argued that Silver Linings Playbook and Les Miserables were themed with political content. The only non-political film was Life of Pi and it was in cutting edge 3D. So, the Academy would have controversy no matter who won Best Picture. 
We know the honor President Obama has paid the lives of President Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He sworn on two bibles at his inaugural. To realize the dense theme of political content in many of these films and to prevent any controversy of the Academy it decided to ask the First Lady to grace their awards and present the one award no one else could. Basically. 
I congratulate the Academy and the First Lady on a job exceptionally well done. 
It would have been impossible for the First Lady to be at the awards. The Secret Service logistics would have been a nightmare where some of Hollywood's greatest producers, directors, actors and actresses had gathered. It would not be possible. Given all the impossibilities and outcomes, the Academy brought the First Lady to the stage in the only way they could. It was tastefully done and she looked as glamorous as any of the ladies in the audience or on the stage.
It must have been a real thrill for all those handsome military folks to stand on the stage at the Academy Awards along with their First Lady. They were smiling and having a good time. It portrayed a very festive mood at the White House. It was important.
I think it was genius by the Academy and gracious of our First Lady to read the winner of Best Picture that was not Lincoln. Well done.
Published: 24 Feb 2013 at 05.43
Online news: World
...From her breezy new bangs (click here) to her elegant inaugural gowns, the entire country sits in breathless anticipation of what new look Obama will come up with next.
And for the obscure fashion designer, nothing catapults a career into the stratosphere like having Obama wear one's clothes.
This week, that stroke of good fortune was enjoyed by Reed Krakoff, whose classic azure dress and cardigan were worn by Obama in the first lady's official portrait unveiled by the White House.
The first lady also chose Krakoff's designs for President Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony last month -- an unanticipated two-for-one stroke of luck that still has him pinching himself.
"I knew there was a chance, but I didn't know for sure," he told AFP.
"It's a great honor, it is an amazing thing for any designer."...
..."She embraces that modern trend of wearing things that are very high-end and also things that are very affordable," Mears added.
"This blending of high and low is what keeps her modern. There is also a very glamorous edge, and I think she does that on purpose, as part of giving the White House this blend of high style and modernity."
Last week, it was one of Obama's go-to fashion favorites, Jason Wu, who lucked out, when the first lady donned one of his confections for the president's annual State of the Union address.
Obama first put the young Taiwan-born designer on the map four years ago when she selected his one-shouldered, draped chiffon ball gown for her husband's first inaugural ball....