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Thursday, 26 July 2012

1 The Dark Knight Rises 2012 Review

The Dark Knight Rises is a superhero film released in 2012 by Warner Bros. It is directed by Christopher Nolan, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan and the story with David S. Goyer. featuring the DC Comics character Batman, the film is the third and final installment in Nolan's Batman film trilogy, and is a sequel to Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008). Christian Bale reprises the lead role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, with a returning cast of Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane. The film introduces the character of Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathaway,[4] a cat burglar whose appearance in Gotham City sets in motion a chain of events that will lead Batman to come out of retirement, and Bane, played by Tom Hardy, the story's antagonist.

The Dark Knight Rises 2012

Christopher Nolan was initially hesitant about returning to the series for a third time, but agreed to come back after developing a story with his brother and Goyer that he felt would conclude the series on a satisfactory note.[5] Nolan drew inspiration from Bane's comic book debut in the 1993 Knightfall storyline, the 1986 series The Dark Knight Returns, and the 1999 storyline No Man's Land. Filming took place in various locations, including Jodhpur, London, Nottingham, Glasgow, Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, and Pittsburgh. Nolan utilized IMAX cameras for much of the filming to optimize the quality of the picture. As with The Dark Knight, viral marketing campaigns began early during production to help promote the upcoming film. When filming concluded, Warner Bros. refocused its campaign; developing promotional websites, releasing the first six minutes of the film and theatrical trailers, and sending random pieces of information regarding the film's plot to various companies.

The Dark Knight Rises premiered in New York City on July 16, 2012.The film was released in Australia and New Zealand on July 19, 2012, and in North America and the United Kingdom on July 20, 2012 to mostly positive reviews. During a midnight showing of the film in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman opened fire inside the theater, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others, leading to international news coverage.


Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham City is in a state of peace. Under powers granted by the Dent Act, Commissioner James Gordon has nearly eradicated violent and organized crime. Gordon feels guilty about the cover-up of Harvey Dent's crimes, but decides that the city is not ready to hear the truth. While following a lead in the abduction of a congressional representative, Gordon's speech falls into the hands of the villain Bane, who discovers the truth about Dent. Gordon is shot in the process of escaping and promotes patrol officer John Blake to detective, allowing Blake to report directly to him in hospital.

As Batman has disappeared from Gotham, so too has Bruce Wayne, locking himself inside Wayne Manor. Wayne Enterprises is crumbling after he invested in board member Miranda Tate's clean energy project, designed to harness fusion power, and shut it down after learning that the core could be modified to become a nuclear weapon. Both Blake—who has deduced Batman's identity—and Gordon implore Batman to return. Bane attacks the stock exchange and bankrupts Bruce, forcing him to relinquish control of Wayne Enterprises. Correctly suspecting that his business rival, John Daggett, employed Bane to aid in this aggressive take-over of his company, Wayne entrusts Tate to keep full control out of Daggett's hands. However, Bane has other plans, and kills Daggett to take control of his construction empire.

Following a trail left by cat burglar Selina Kyle, Batman locates Bane, who says that he took over the League of Shadows following Ra's al Ghul's death. In the following confrontation, Bane physically cripples Batman and places him in a prison from which escape is virtually impossible. The other inmates relate the story of how Ra's al Ghul's child was the only person, through necessity and the sheer force of will, to ever escape the prison. Batman believes that the child grew up to become Bane. Meanwhile, Bane lures most of Gotham's police force underground and sets off explosions across the city, trapping the officers and turning Gotham into an isolated city-state. Any attempt to leave the city will result in the detonation of the Wayne Enterprises fusion core, now converted into a bomb. Bane publicly reveals the cover-up of Dent's death and releases the prisoners in Blackgate Prison who were prosecuted under the Dent Act. The rich and powerful are forcibly brought before a show trial presided over by Jonathan Crane and given the chocie between death and exile.

Bruce recovers from his injuries and retrains himself physically. He successfully escapes the penitentiary and returns to Gotham, enlisting Kyle, Blake, Tate, Gordon and Lucius Fox to help liberate the city and stop the fusion bomb. As Batman, he subdues Bane, but Tate intervenes and reveals herself to be Talia al Ghul. It was she who escaped the prison as a child, returning with her father and the League of Shadows to rescue Bane, the one person who aided her in prison. She plans to complete her father's work by destroying Gotham while avenging his death at Wayne's hands. Gordon blocks the bomb's ability to be remotely detonated while Kyle saves Batman by shooting Bane. Batman tries to force Talia to take the bomb to the fusion chamber where it can be stabilized, but she remotely floods the chamber. Talia dies when her truck crashes off the road, but remains confident that the bomb cannot be stopped. Using an aircraft developed by Fox, Batman hauls the bomb beyond the city limits, where it detonates over the ocean and apparently kills him.

Batman is later praised as a hero and Wayne is presumed killed in the riots. After Bruce's funeral, Blake wants to reveal Batman's identity to the world as a tribute to Bruce, but Gordon reminds him that it is best left as a mystery to the uninformed. Gordon later finds that the Bat-Signal has been repaired. The Wayne estate is divided up to cover any debts, with the manor left in the city's possession to become an orphanage and the rest going to Alfred Pennyworth. Fox discovers that Bruce programmed the autopilot on the aircraft six months before he left to face Bane and Talia. Alfred witnesses Wayne and Kyle alive together at a café in Italy, while Blake inherits the Batcave.

Thanks: Wikipedia

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

0 PM, conservative states fail to reach disability deal

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and conservative state premiers have failed to strike a deal on the launch of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
‘‘I am very disappointed that we have not been able today to strike an agreement with either NSW or Victoria or indeed Western Australia on hosting a launch site,’’ the PM told reporters in Canberra following a Council of Australian Governments meeting.
Ms Gillard explained that neither NSW or Victoria had been able to provide more money for the NDIS. In a bid to break the deadlock, Disability Reform Minister Jenny Macklin and NSW and Victorian ministers will continue talks tomorrow.

conservative states fail

The Prime Minister said she was also concerned that WA’s proposal for a launch site would hinder the development of a national scheme, as opposed to a federation of state-based schemes.

But Ms Gillard says the federal government has reached an agreement with Labor-run South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT to launch the NDIS in the middle of next year.
The SA site will  focus on young people, the Tasmanian site will focus on adolescents and the ACT trial will involve the entire region.
Ms Gillard said that each of the states had "stepped forward" and had been prepared to work with the federal government and put money on the table.
She said the federal government had made $1 billion available for the launch sites.
"We can learn by doing," Ms Gillard said. SA Premier Jay Weatherill called today’s decision a "very important moment" in implementing the NDIS, labelling it a "first concrete step."
But the COAG outcome received stinging criticism from West Australian Premier Colin Barnett, who said today’s meeting was an "opportunity squandered" and dismissed the announced launch sites as "small scale" in "small states".
Ms Gillard said she was still open to including Victoria and NSW in the launch sites.

"I would want to see further trials if that's possible," she said.
Proposed trials in NSW and Victoria would have benefitted 10,000 people and 5,000 people respectively, she said.

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu said he wanted to see an NDIS in place and was still keen to participate in the trial.
Mr Baillieu told reporters that his state had put in a "comprehensive" bid for a trial in the Barwon region and that the federal government had responded with some suggestions this afternoon.

He said it was very difficult to consider these suggestions in detail while a COAG meeting was in full swing.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said he continued to be optimistic about the groundbreaking proposed NDIS, but added that he was also disappointed with today's result.

He said NSW had more than $550 million on the table for the first three years of the trial - slated for the Hunter region - and that his state was already doing "heavy lifting" with respect to disability reform.
Ms Gillard said she had asked NSW to provide an extra $70 million dollars and for Victoria to stump up $40 million.

The Prime Minister added that the federal government had in turn offered $300 million to NSW and $100 million to Victoria to participate in the test sites.
Disability advocate John Della Bosca said that today's result was "good in parts".

The Every Australian Counts national campaign director said that a first step in an NDIS was always going to be good news.

Read more:

Sunday, 22 July 2012

1 Thief Breaks Into Aishwarya Rai's Home — Was Aaradhya in peril?

Jalsa, the Mumbai home Aishwarya Rai shares with her husband Abhishek, daughter Aaradhya, and Abhishek's parents Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan, was broken into over the weekend. Amitabh Bachchan informed the world of the fact on his blog:

Thief Breaks Into Aishwarya Rai's Home

Spent some anxious moments yesterday since we had a break in! The guy was caught and is with the police now under investigation. Seems like a professional, for he had entered the most sensitive area of the house, Jalsa. Cops and security are in over drive now. In the end nothing is secure, irrespective of how much precaution one takes.

The news is somewhat unnerving, as Jalsa is one of the most secure homes in the city. It's a huge bungalow and has excellent security, and yet a burglar was still able to enter the heart of the home. Amitabh didn't give many details about where in the home the criminal was found, only referring to him having access to the "most sensitive area" of the house.

Was that "sensitive area" one of the family rooms? Is it possible that a thief not only entered the house but made his way to Aishwarya and Aaradhya's rooms? Was the family in danger at any point?

The details of the incident remain unclear, and Amitabh didn't find it necessary to remark on them in further posts. He flew to London and had nothing more to say about the break in.

Obviously the security at Jalsa will have to be improved. But if a thief could break into a building as secure as Jalsa, what hope do ordinary Mumbai residents have of their safety in the city? The Bachchans should be (and no doubt are) grateful that they can afford to live so securely to begin with.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

0 Sex, drugs and religion: How VPs are vetted

Mitt Romney vowed today he will pick a running mate who believes in "conservative principles," but gave no clue on who is or isn't on his short list.

The VP search led by Romney aide Beth Myers presumably is still going on, as Romney tries to decide on a No. 2 between now and the Republican National Convention.

Sex, drugs and religion: How VPs are vetted

Ever wonder who goes on during the vetting of a possible vice president?

Jason Zengerle of GQ has a fascinating read about being vetted by Ted Frank, one of the lawyers who helped conduct background checks on John McCain's potential running mates in 2008. Frank's work included vetting Sarah Palin, who was deemed "high risk, high reward" by A.B. Culvahouse, the man in charge of McCain's VP search.

GQ calls vetting a vice presidential pick "the most invasive process in politics." There are lengthy questionnaires dealing with personal finances, drug use, church attendance, foreign countries visited and the like. Interviews are said to touch on sexual encounters, fidelity, and "what if" policy situations.

Former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating, who was vetted in 2000 when George W. Bush was looking for a running mate, told GQ he was asked if there was anything in his life that would make him "vulnerable to blackmail or coercion."

Former Indiana senator Evan Bayh, who was on Barack Obama's short list in 2008, had to pay for some extensive medical tests to determine the diagnosis of a vexing stomach problem. "They wanted to make sure I wasn't dying," Bayh is quoted as saying.

Frank also briefly assesses some of Romney's most frequently mentioned VP possibilities. The risks:

    Ohio Sen. Rob Portman - "His ties to President George W. Bush" and years as a lobbyist. Portman was trade representative and budget director in the Bush administration.
    Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty - His "dozens of speeches where he might've spoken ill of Romney," whom he attacked during his brief presidential bid last year. Pawlenty once derided what he called "Obamneycare," the health care laws signed by both Obama and Romney.
    Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal - He once wrote an article for the New Oxford Review titled "Beating a Demon: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare" and attended the exorcism of a friend.

As for when Romney's choice might be revealed, the candidate said at a town hall meeting in Ohio today that he still hasn't made a decision. His wife, Ann, told ABC News that it's not a done deal yet.

"We are certainly talking a lot. This last week, this last weekend, there was a lot of discussion," Ann Romney said in the interview airing tomorrow on Good Morning America. "There was a lot of talk. We're not quite there yet. And we're going to be there soon."


Monday, 9 July 2012

0 Wealthy Minority revenue Equals Majority Poor Loss

I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.
 Jay Gould

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
A working class hero is something to be…
John Lennon

The robber baron and the rock and roll poet expressed sentiments about the same social reality from radically different perspectives. Profit and Loss capitalism has enabled many recipients of crumbs from the banquet tables of the rich to enjoy the applied label of middle class given them by consciousness controllers in politics and media. But present realities find the religion, sex, tv and other consumer products less available to cloud minds and fill bodies under the delusion of equality and the cruel reality spoken of by the robber baron. That reality needs to be confronted by a united class and no longer tolerated by a divided humanity, now more so than ever.

Wealthy Minority revenue Equals Majority Poor Loss

As the global crisis causes national book juggling on a daily basis to maintain order, and that of international banking on a near hourly schedule,  it becomes more apparent that the algorithmic accountants for the rich are operating to the detriment of most members of the race. Problems supposedly at the root of a crumbling financial structure are seen by minority profiteers as government’s profligate spending on people ,  terrifying foreign threats that call for expanded wars , and other lies perpetuated by mind managers to cover the gross injustice that is reducing more of humanity to debt servitude and abject poverty while the planet itself is threatened in all its life support systems . This happens as shrinking segments of the population increase their enormous wealth at phenomenal speed, destroying more of the social and natural environment as they do so and patting themselves on the back for being such masterful and benign dominators of life.

Creatures of no observable skills or special talents amass billions of dollars and perform no useful work at all but actually bring about cultural and ecological devastation for which they are rewarded with more tax payer dollars. Economists too dumb to see the crisis predicted by many critics still wisely advise with ancient notions of a free market religion, supply and demand curves, and the “creative destruction” which  does away with what they find useless - jobs for working people – and produces more profits for what they find divine – capitalists. These servants of a religious philosophy masked as secular finance call for total assault on the public sector  in a form of national masturbation; by focused obsession on the economy’s private parts. The loss of jobs bring lower employment costs for the ruling minority and higher social costs to the working majority who still have some form of incomes and pay taxes to keep rulers rich and not allow poor people to drop dead in the streets. As they expend more for weapons, consumer goods and security products to protect themselves from the alienated who are alleged to threaten them from below , they are distracted from noticing the tiny group laughing at them from above while it dumps garbage on their heads.

This does not describe 19th century reality but the present condition of a 21st century rushing backward for most while the minority at the top lavishes wealth on itself by robbing humanity’s future. A  fast growing universal demand for democracy is slowly changing things despite interference and misguidance from rulers and their hired help, though it must speed up if we are  to have a long range future. Some among the many reasons why:

The incredible arrogance of western powers, especially the U.S. and Israel, insisting that Iran suspend activities – none of which exist - to create nuclear weapons – none of which it has – while the USA, the only nation to slaughter thousands with nuclear weapons, and Israel , armed with hundreds of nukes which they demand remain unmentioned in a global holocaust of silence, and Iran, not Israel, calls for a nuclear free middle east. Whether dubbed  colossal chutzpah, testiculo grandioso or massive balls, this combination of breathtaking gall with microscopic brains endangers most of the world, beginning with Iran and the middle east.

The same imperial master race/chosen people syndicate calls a conference on the future of Syria, but neither Syria nor neighbor Iran are allowed to participate in the discussion. Does that imply elephant testicles? Dinosaur balls? Gigantic gonads? Is there any fitting trash talk to cover this kind of pinhead, pea brained dementia?

Possibly so, but what can we call the urge for what is named austerity, meaning cuts in programs for the most helpless in society so that the most wealthy can make more money and possibly, hopefully, prayerfully , or when the drugs kick in, then invest in creating jobs for them? That’s if the economic witch doctors, mullahs, priests and rabbis don’t decide that creative destruction would be better, thank you. How do you make fun of this in a way that can drown out the cries of those who suffer while this madness continues? Whether they are in pain from hunger, loneliness, despair at the bombs falling on their heads, or the countless other  horrors that billions suffer while millions are confused into incurring more debt and paying for war while thousands smile as their servants deposit more millions in the bank for them. And that’s not all, for the moment.

Weather irregularities ranging from heat waves to cold snaps to drenching rains and foul air are written off as typical acts of nature having nothing to do with what most of science has called climate change. While this pop title may be a trivialization of the issue, most responsible investigators from what is called the scientific community – a branch of material religious faith generally more reliable than snake dancing and prayer - are treating this as a serious threat to the future of the human race, while profiteers seek ways to make money by transforming old garbage into new sewage and calling it a green revolution. Not to worry folks, private profits will take care of everything. They will entail, of course and as always , much greater losses in order to create those profits, but as long as our rulers can languish in luxury they may leisurely invest in something that will eventually bring us jobs. Like maybe another war.

Prevailing wisdom seems an oxymoron as it applies to ruling power, its politicians and its media. But expanding electronic methods of selling more consumer waste have also created a contradictory method of communication that the imperial regime is trying desperately to control, but at only limited success. Past populations could be kept murdering one another and drugged by religion, sex and tv when they weren’t directly doing so, but present distractions are too numerous and fast to be totally controlled by any authority. It is trying, desperately and with bloody efficiency, as it murders with robots , entraps with technology and relies on its smaller but more faithful captive class of professional indentured servants. But the tendency of more humans to say “enough” seems apparent.

The  escapist ploys still available by which to keep workers killing themselves when not being captivated by media or entrapped by newer versions of religion, sex and tv are more prevalent than ever. They can go anywhere and dull minds 24 hours a day, but they are not only suitable to listen to or watch; they can also enable people to broadcast their own messages, and while most of those can seem all too personal, the tribe of humanity is using them socially and coming closer together as the problems get worse. That growing togetherness offers hope for ultimate democratic action to take control of a social environment that demands real transformation of the race and its possibilities. Working class members of the human majority don’t all need to be individual heroes but they could take social inspiration from these closing quotes. Stay  tuned.

 “The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another.”
-Thomas Merton

An individual has not started living until he or she can rise above the narrow confines of his or her individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

1 Magic Mike Review

Magic Mike is a 2012 movie directed by Steven Soderbergh, and starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, Olivia Munn, Joe Manganiello, and Matt Bomer. The film was released by Warner Bros. on June 29, 2012.

Magic Mike Review

Adam (Alex Pettyfer) is a slacker who, after losing a football scholarship due to a fight with the coach, moves to Tampa, Florida to live with his sister, Brooke (Cody Horn). He gets a job at a local construction company and meets Mike Lane (Channing Tatum), who also works there as a roof tiler. However, Adam quits on his first day after the supervisor catches him stealing extra sodas. As he's trying to leave his car will not start, so Mike gives him a ride home.

The following day, Adam spots Mike about to enter a popular nightclub. After some begging by Adam, Mike gets him into the club, and Adam soon learns that Mike is a stripper known as "Magic Mike", who works at a club called Xquisite, and that he is at the club to promote the strip show to women. Adam helps Mike in exchange for $100 and is taken backstage at Xquisite, where he meets the manager, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) and the other dancers - Ken (Matt Bomer), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Tito (Adam RodrĂ­guez) and Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello).

The club's DJ, drug dealer Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias), provides the dancers with samples of refined GHB to improve their stamina. However, Tarzan ingests too much of the drug, and is unable to perform. Mike convinces Adam to fill in for him, and Adam is a hit with the customers, earning a good amount of money. After a double date with Mike and two of the club's female clients, Adam is convinced to join the Xquisite and Mike nicknames him "The Kid".

Upon returning home, Adam is lectured by Brooke for staying out all night. He introduces her to Mike, and the two seem to be attracted to one another, although Brooke initially acts uninterested. Brooke later attends Adam's first official performance, but becomes embarrassed and leaves.

Mike and Brooke's attraction continues to grow in the following months, despite that Brooke is dating a man who lives in Orlando and Mike has an on-again off-again relationship with a woman named Joanna (Olivia Munn). Adam delves further into the excessive lifestyle of the Xquisite dancers, using drugs and having sexual encounters with many clients. When Dallas announces he has a plan to move their act to Miami, Mike confides in Brooke that he wants to retire from the business in the near future and has been saving money and attempting to get a small business loan to pursue his dream of opening a custom furniture business. Mike later attends a hurricane party at Dallas' house, where the dancers celebrate the move to Miami. After Dallas tells Mike that he will only receive a 7 percent share in the business, instead of the 10 percent he originally promised, Mike becomes uncomfortable and leaves.

At the same hurricane party, Adam becomes part of scheme created by Tobias to sell drugs to Xquisite's clients, and is eventually given a package of ecstasy. A few days later, Mike and Adam perform for a private party at a sorority house, and Adam brings the package of drugs with him. A girl that was given an ecstasy pill by Adam becomes ill, causing a brawl between Adam and the girl's boyfriend. Mike and Adam are forced to flee the scene, with Adam being unable to retrieve the package of pills. He tells Mike it's no big deal because the drugs were only worth $1,000. After cleaning up, the two go to Ybor City, where Mike sees Joanna in a restaurant having dinner with a man and, after confronting her, learns the man is her fiance. Later, at Xquisite, Dallas is infuriated to learn Mike didn't collect payment for the private show before the fight occurred. During the heated discussion, Mike confronts Dallas about the reduced profit sharing, which leads to a falling out between the two men. While they are arguing, Adam admits to Tobias he lost the drugs he was given.

After that night's show at the club is finished, Mike and Adam go to a club. Mike brings home a girl he meets there, and Adam meets up with a party girl named Nora (Riley Keough) whom he originally met at Dallas' party and brings her back to Mike's house, nearly overdosing on Nora's drugs before being found by a worried Brooke the next morning. Brooke angrily confronts Mike and accuses him of failing to protect her brother as he promised and ends her friendship with him. Later on, Tobias' suppliers break into Mike's house looking for Adam, who owes them money for the lost drugs. Realizing Adam lied to him about the drugs' worth, Mike gives them $10,000 - the majority of his savings - to pay Adam's debt. Later that day, Mike goes to Brooke's apartment looking for Adam. She tells him that Adam no longer lives there and she believes he has moved in with Nora. She reveals to him that she thinks it's a mistake for the two of them to go to Miami, with Mike telling her that being a stripper is not who he is, and the reason he is going to Miami is so that he will someday be able to leave that lifestyle entirely, asking Brooke to believe him. Brooke tells Mike that she wonders if he, himself, really believes it.

A short time later, during the dancers' final Tampa performance at Xquisite, Mike decides he's had enough. Pretending he needs to use the restroom, he instead leaves through the club's exit and drives away in his truck, effectively quitting. After deciding Mike isn't coming back, Dallas invites Adam to replace Mike as the frontman of the dancers. After leaving, Mike goes to Brooke's apartment. He tells her that he has quit and isn't going to Miami. He apologizes to her for not protecting Adam better. She then tells Mike that after he left her apartment earlier, Adam called her to tell her that Mike had paid off the drug dealers for him. She also tells him she has broken up with her boyfriend in Orlando. They forgive each other, admit their mutual attraction, and decide to begin a relationship.


0 Obama seeks to rev up blue-collar electorates with Ohio bus journey

Buoyed by a victory over healthcare reform but stung by poor economic data, President Barack Obama will try to rev up his re-election campaign on Thursday with a bus tour designed to appeal to struggling blue-collar workers in key battleground states.

Obama will spend two days visiting cities in Ohio and Pennsylvania, states that could prove critical to his ability to garner the number of electoral votes needed to beat Republican Mitt Romney in the November 6 election.

The president, a Democrat, is launching his first bus tour of the 2012 campaign against a backdrop of mixed poll numbers, fundraising challenges, and outside threats to an economy that could derail his chances of re-election.

Obama seeks to rev up blue-collar electorates with Ohio bus journey

An average of polls by RealClearPolitics shows the president ahead of his Republican rival by a tight 2.6 percentage points in Ohio and nationwide.

Obama is polling particularly well with women and Hispanics across the country, but working-class men are up for grabs. The Ohio trip seemed aimed at least in part at shoring up support in that demographic.

"It's a race for blue-collar men," said Democratic strategist Bud Jackson, noting that that group was especially affected by the sluggish economy and especially receptive to negative campaign messaging that the president has failed to turn around the economy.

"The ability of the president to win over blue-collar men is more tied to the reality of the moment: are jobs being created and do people feel more optimistic? For him, the proof is somewhat in the pudding."

This may not be the best week to find that proof.

Data released on Monday showed U.S. manufacturing activity contracted in June for the first time in nearly three years, and monthly jobless figures on Friday are expected to show unemployment unchanged at 8.2 percent.

Obama got a political bump from the Supreme Court's decision last week to uphold his healthcare law, but economic uncertainty in Europe and at home remain a major vulnerability. Romney is pressing his case hard that the president has not done enough to boost the economy.

Obama frequently stresses that the economy is not improving rapidly enough while emphasizing that his policies helped avoid another recession and saved the U.S. auto industry from extinction.

Ohio, one of the biggest prizes of the presidential election, is a prime place to test that message. A campaign official noted that the northwest part of the state and the western part of Pennsylvania were good examples of places where the economy had begun to recover and local employers were starting to hire again.

"The president will talk about his commitment to investing in American workers and creating jobs at home and the fundamental challenge we are facing in this country — the future of the middle class," said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Ohio's unemployment rate is below the national average, falling to 7.3 percent in May, and the Obama campaign notes that it has fallen 3 percentage points since Obama took office.

Part of that drop is thanks to Obama's bailout of the automobile industry, the campaign argues, resulting in investment from U.S. automakers in the greater Toledo area. Obama will make stops there.

"It's an automotive outreach," said Kenneth Sherrill, a political science expert at New York's Hunter College.

"Basically, it's outreach to people who voted for him last time around. What he wants to do is to mobilize them again and to reinforce their loyalty: 'I still care about you, I still like you, and you should like me, too.' It's to try to prevent defections."


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

0 Michelle Obama: “All This Just For a Flag”

The internet was buzzing this week with video of First Lady Michelle Obama apparently showing extreme disrespect to the American flag at a ceremony in honor of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. As police and firefighters fold the flag to the sound of marching bagpipers, a skeptical looking Mrs. Obama leans to her husband and appears to say, “all this just for a flag.” She then purses her lips and shakes her head slightly as Mr. Obama nods. 

Michelle Obama: “All This Just For a Flag”

Just for a flag? If that is what she said it is regrettable. Even with all her years being around those who hold high public office Mrs. Obama does not seem to understand the purpose and importance of ceremonies. They reaffirm the bonds of loyalty and fellowship that cement our national unity. Yes, at one level a flag is just a colorful piece of cloth. But it symbolizes much more. It is the emblem of our land and all its ideals. It has been present at every major event of any importance to the country, battles, celebrations, meetings, and the lunar landings. It is a symbol of unity that transcends party, faction and time. It is something uniquely and explicitly American. Men and women have fought and died for it. Our enemies hate us for it and burn it in the streets. All that should mean something.

Perhaps Mrs. Obama thinks that all the pomp and circumstance she experiences in her daily life has something to do with her, rather than the unofficial office she holds. If so she should disabuse herself of that notion quickly. The official gestures of respect shown to her are the same shown to any First Lady, and if she wasn’t married to the president she would be just another citizen. Ruffles and flourishes are not hers by right, but by coincidence of marriage. Yet this is the same woman who said she had never in her adult life been really proud of America before her husband ran for president, so it is no wonder she might dismiss a flag ceremony as just so much nonsense.

All this just for a flag? Has anyone said, “All this just for Michelle Obama?”


0 Why is Aishwarya Rai not viewing baby Aaradhya to the Public?

Abhishek Bachchan explains why he and Aishwarya Rai are not showing their baby Aaradhya to the media

Everyone is curious to see Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan’s seven-month-old daughter Aaradhya, but the duo have been concealing the little one from the media. Abhishek explains why?

Why is Aishwarya Rai not viewing baby Aaradhya to the Public?

When a blurry snap shot of a baby’s eyes goes viral on the web, one can understand the curiosity surrounding the child. So it could be that Aishwarya Rai has been fervently protecting her baby from the blinding strobelights of the hawkish paparazzi, lest the little one is scared.

Warding off the suggestion that they are being overprotective about Aaradhya, Abhishek recently said that he doesn’t want to “show off” his daughter to the world.

“I am not comfortable with that, I don't need to show her off. She is not an item that she has to be put up to display. She is a child and Aishwarya and I would like her to grow up as normal as possible. I do understand that her parents and grandparents (Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan) are public figures but she is not yet and let her enjoy that. I have grown up in this industry and have been in this position so I understand the curiosity,” Abhishek Bachchan told reporters.

And even as the world has yet to see the first full glimpse of Aaradhya, grandpa Amitabh Bachchan is enjoying playing with the little one.

“Ever realized playing with the 'little one' for just a few minutes could be equivalent to an entire two hour workout in the gym! Child is the father of man,” Big B recently wrote on his blog.


Monday, 2 July 2012

0 Can Iran shut down the Strait of Hormuz?

The last time Iran tried to close the Strait of Hormuz, the trade artery linking the oil-rich Gulf states to the outside world, the Revolutionary Guards had only a few rubber dinghies and primitive mines to achieve their goals. Next time, they will be far better prepared.

For the ayatollahs, the Strait of Hormuz, which lies between Iran and the tiny sheikdoms of the Gulf, has become a national obsession in their long-standing confrontation with the West. They know that, for all their long-held nuclear ambitions, they will never be able to match America’s military supremacy. Even if they were to develop the know-how to fit a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile, the odds are that the weapon would be shot down the moment it left its launch pad by one of the hundreds of anti-missile batteries the US has deployed around the Gulf region in anticipation of just such an eventuality.

Can Iran shut down the Strait of Hormuz?

So far as the ayatollahs are concerned, a far more effective way of attacking the West would be to place a stranglehold on their economies. As General Sir David Richards, the head of Britain’s Armed Forces, commented at the end of last year, that the biggest threat facing Britain is the parlous state of its economy. And the economies of Britain and the other major developed powers would be thrown into chaos if the Iranians carried out their threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.

The free and uninterrupted passage of trade through this narrow passage of water is comparable to the importance of the English Channel in sustaining the prosperity of Europe, a status that is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. On average, 14 crude oil tankers pass through the Strait each day carrying an estimated 17 million barrels, more than a third of the world’s seaborne oil shipments. In addition, it has become a vital conduit for tankers carrying liquefied natural gas from states such as Qatar, as the Western economies become ever more dependent on gas for their energy needs.

 At a time when tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme are reaching crisis point, it was almost inevitable that Tehran should start making ominous noises about closing the Strait if the US and its European allies follow through on their threat to impose wide-ranging sanctions on Iran’s oil industry.

Oil revenues make up around 80 per cent of Iran’s foreign currency earnings. The rial, Iran’s currency, fell 12 per cent this week after it emerged that all 27 members of the European Union had agreed to implement a complete ban on oil shipments from Iran. Overall, the rial has fallen 40 per cent in value in the past month.

The prospect of increased sanctions has prompted senior Iranian political and military figures to warn that the strait could be closed in retaliation. This week, General Ataollah Salehi, the commander-in-chief of Iran’s armed forces, threatened to attack the US Navy if it attempted to move an aircraft carrier into the Gulf.

To many, this is nothing more than the Iranians indulging in yet another tiresome exercise in anti-Western sabre-rattling. With parliamentary elections due in March, the regime is keen to demonstrate its refusal to be intimidated over its nuclear programme. But in view of the Iranian government’s inherent instability, it would be prudent for the West to be on its guard against any attempt by Tehran to disrupt such a strategically important linchpin for global trade.

The Iranians’ military capabilities have come a long way since the mid-1980s, the last time they made any serious attempt to disrupt Gulf shipping. On that occasion, angered by America’s deepening support for Saddam Hussein during the long-running Iran-Iraq war, the Iranians launched random attacks against the shipping of pro-American Gulf states such as Kuwait, forcing the US Navy to intervene on their behalf.

Although the Iranians were no match for the US Fifth Fleet, which operates from Bahrain, they caused enormous disruption – and a sharp increase in international oil prices – by the simple expedient of dropping mines in the main shipping lanes, while the Revolutionary Guards attacked unprotected tankers from their rubber dinghies. Ultimately, the Iranian attempt to close the strait was foiled by Washington’s superior firepower.

 But the ayatollahs vowed that, if ever the need rose again to blockade the Gulf, they would have the means to do so. Consequently the Iranian military has spent much of the past two decades overhauling its capabilities, to the extent that if the order were given to close the Strait of Hormuz it could actually carry out the threat – albeit for a few days.

Iran would be able to deploy anti-ship cruise missiles, submarines, mines and thousands of small watercraft that could be used in “swarm” attacks against shipping if the ayatollahs decided to impose a blockade.

Such is the confidence of senior Iranian commanders in their firepower that Admiral Habibollah Sayari, the head of Iran’s navy, recently boasted that closing the strait would be “as easy as drinking a glass of water”. And to prove the point, this week his forces completed 10 days of war games in which they successfully tested three anti-ship missiles.

But if the Iranian military threat is much more potent than it was in the 1980s, the Pentagon insists that it still would be no match for US firepower. One aircraft carrier is able to deploy more air power than the entire Iranian air force, and it is difficult to argue with the assessment of most military analysts that it would take just a few days to knock out the entire Iranian military effort.

Nor would the American response be confined to the Iranian navy, as any attempt by Iran to use military force to disrupt Gulf shipping would inevitably lead to America and its allies using it as an excuse to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, thereby resolving the nuclear crisis once and for all.

Iran would, therefore, be taking an enormous gamble if it attempted to close the Strait of Hormuz, which is why politicians on both sides of the Atlantic dismiss Tehran’s sabre-rattling as a futile gesture aimed at persuading the West not to impose further sanctions. Nevertheless, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, made plain in Washington yesterday that any attempt to block the strait would be illegal and could be countered with military force. But in a country where normal rational assessments do not apply, there remains the distinct possibility that, having acquired the means to close the strait, the ayatollahs will go ahead with their threat.

Any hint of military confrontation could see oil prices soar by 50 per cent within the space of a few days, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the world’s leading developed economies. Iran, meanwhile, would react to any attack on its nuclear facilities by carrying out its long-standing promise to attack Israel, as well as mobilising the scores of sleeper terrorist cells it has stationed throughout the Arab world.

It would not be long before a confrontation that began as a dispute over access to shipping lanes escalated into a major regional conflict.


0 Ted opens pinnacle of the US box office

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane's debut film, about a foul-mouthed teddy bear called Ted, has topped the US box office in its opening weekend.

The comedy, starring Mark Wahlberg, took $54.1 million (£35m), according to studio estimates.

Director Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike, featuring Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey as male-strippers, was in second with $39.2m (£25m).

Pixar's Scottish fairy tale Brave fell two places to number three.

Ted opens pinnacle of the US box office

Ted, in which a childhood toy comes to life and proves to be less-than cuddly, has an "R" rating in the US, meaning children under the age of 17 cannot see the film unless accompanied by an adult.

Only two R-rated movies have performed better in their opening weekend - and both were sequels: Last year's Hangover 2 ($85.9m) and 2010's Sex and the City 2 ($57m).

Writer-director MacFarlane also provides the voice of the drug-taking, profanity-prone bear while actress Mila Kunis, who plays Meg Griffin in Family Guy, plays Wahlberg's girlfriend.

Magic Mike, inspired by star Tatum's own early career as a male stripper, also performed better than expected.

A 73% female audience watched Tatum's character Mike take newcomer The Kid, played by British actor Alex Pettyfer, under his wing.

Tyler Perry's new release Madea's Witness Protection was in fourth, with $26.4m (£17m), while Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted fell to number five with $11.8m (£7.5m).

Internationally, two big franchises got a head-start on their US openings, with animated sequel Ice Age: Continental Drift opening to $78m (£50m) and The Amazing Spider-Man in second with $50.2m (£32m).


0 Romney blames Obama of 'vicious lies' on Bain Capital

Romney blames Obama of 'vicious lies' on Bain Capital
Romney blames Obama of 'vicious lies' on Bain Capital
“So shame on you, Barack Obama!” cries out the voice in the latest TV ad from the Romney campaign, airing only in Ohio. Yet the voice belongs not to presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, but to an unlikely figure to appear in any Romney commercial: Hillary Clinton.

The footage comes from the bitterly contested Democratic primary campaign of 2008, when then-Sen. Clinton – now President Obama’s loyal and steadfast secretary of state – complained about the Illinois insurgent spending “millions of dollars perpetuating falsehoods.”

“But that’s Barack Obama,” the ad’s narrator intones, before adding that the man who went on to win the presidency first attacked Clinton with “vicious lies.” 

The ad also cites a Washington Post column from last month that denounced a particular Obama attack ad against Romney as “misleading, unfair, and untrue.”

Tough stuff – and the latest attempt by the Romney campaign to demonstrate that it intends to meet head-on the barrage of attacks it has faced on the candidate’s private-equity career at Bain Capital. The Obama ad denounced in the Post column was one that had suggested Romney outsourced American jobs overseas during his 15-year career at the Boston-based financial firm.

Those Obama ads in turn relied on a Washington Post news article, published June 21, that reported that six companies that Bain invested in during Romney’s tenure at the firm were “pioneers” in the emerging trend of outsourcing U.S. jobs to foreign countries like India and China.

The Romney campaign collected statements from the six companies’ current and former CEOs, all of whom maintained that they had in fact added U.S. jobs during their respective periods of affiliation with Romney and Bain. They also said their reliance of foreign call centers and packaging plants was solely to support existing foreign sales of U.S. exports. After a meeting with the Post’s editorial board, in which the campaign demanded a retraction of the June 21 article, the paper announced it was standing by its reporting.

Then the independent group weighed in on the Obama ads, declaring “we found no evidence to support the claim that Romney -- while he was still running Bain Capital -- shipped American jobs overseas."

An Obama-Biden campaign spokesman told Fox News that “did get this one wrong.”  Interviewed at the campaign’s headquarters in Chicago, campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt discounted the testimony from the current and former CEOs, and instead urged a reporter inquiring about them to talk to the workers who lost their jobs when these businesses shut down U.S.-based plants.

LaBolt also sought to cast doubt on Romney’s longstanding career narrative, which holds that he left Bain Capital in February 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Olympics.

“What the Romney campaign and others have tried to do is to extract Mitt Romney from his tenure at Bain,” LaBolt said. “Some of these jobs were shipped overseas after 1999, but the fact is that Romney remained CEO and sole owner of Bain Capital through 2001.”

In support of that claim, Obama-Biden campaign aides uploaded state and federal disclosure forms that they said are “unambiguous” in showing that Romney continued to list Bain as his employer in 2001. A lengthy rebuttal sent to by Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, cited dozens of forms from 2001 and 2002 that listed Romney as the sole owner of Bain or its various subsidiaries and funds.

Contacted by Fox News and asked about the documents, a source at Bain Capital insisted that Romney never returned to the firm or did any substantive work for it, or for its “portfolio companies,” after February 1999.  Some of the 2001 documents cited in Cutter’s letter clearly showed Romney listing his occupation with Bain as “former executive” and explaining his role in the firm and its offshoots as “passive…with no management capacity.”

Bill Burton, the former Obama White House aide who now runs Priorities USA, a liberal super PAC that is spending $10 million on ads attacking Romney for his tenure at Bain, claimed the effort is materially benefiting the president’s re-election prospects.

“They're clearly starting to work,” Burton told MSNBC on Monday. “If you look at any of the numbers out there, any public polling or focus groups, they're clearly working.  Our fundraising has picked up considerably, and the spending we are doing is having an impact.”

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