What was your favorite movie of 2011? And it's an open thread.
Archives for December, 2011
I'm really glad to see this -- but also ashamed and infuriated that here in America, we have so many neighborhoods not much different from war-torn countries. This LA Times story is still inspiring, though [via Cabdrollery]:
Earl Johnson's boots crunch broken glass from liquor bottles as he walks down an alley in East Baltimore's Oliver neighborhood.
He is just blocks from the site of the firebombing of a family who called the police on drug dealers and were killed for it, and just yards from some of the most memorable scenes of urban decay in television's "The Wire."
At his side are Rich Blake, 32, a Marine Corps veteran; and Jeremy Johnson, 34, a Navy veteran. Like Earl (no relation to Jeremy), they are on a different kind of mission.
They've come to this neighborhood once synonymous with the worst of Baltimore to help it become something better. They call this mission Operation Oliver.
As the men walk, they pick up empty Seagram's gin and Bacardi rum bottles. They point to progress — refurbished homes, a painted playground — and to vacant houses and trash-filled alleys that still need work.
"A lot of the conditions from places we're deployed to, Iraq and Afghanistan, are not that much different from the conditions here in Oliver," says Blake, executive director of the 6th Branch, one of several nonprofit groups involved in Operation Oliver.
"We're not afraid to dig in and make a difference in a community that's got a bad reputation in the city," Blake says. "The discipline, the go-get-'em, let's-do-this-now, aggressive attitude — it really lends itself to community service in a way traditional organizations haven't been able to do."
Operation Oliver, which began in July, is a one-year commitment to the neighborhood, the veterans say. It involves cleaning up alleys, rehabilitating homes, organizing volunteers and notifying police about illegal dumping sites and drug dealing.
To say the idea has caught on would be an understatement. Word of the intensive yearlong service project has spread throughout Maryland — and the nation.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is set to announce he will not seek reelection, according to sources, leaving his seat as a strong pickup opportunity for the GOP in the 2012 election.
Nelson, 70, could announce his retirement as early as today, according to sources familiar with his plans. The news was first reported by Politico.
The Washington Post reports that former senator Bob Kerrey has been mentioned and 'would instantly give his party a fighting chance in a state where Obama took just 42 percent of the vote.'
GOP contenders for the seat include state Attorney General Jon Bruning, state Sen. Deb Fischer and Tea Party favorite, state Treasurer Don Stenberg.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) has said that national Republicans had encouraged him to enter the race for Nelson's seat, but he has yet to express any interest.
By all accounts, 1986 seemed to be mostly about Terrorists, countries harboring terrorists, and countries getting caught.
Probably the most dramatic would be the Iran-Contra scandal that blossomed forth in 1986. The other would be the ongoing problem with Libya and Libya's ties with terrorist organizations.
Not a good year if you were an American tourist. It seemed that bombs were going off in tourist hangouts all over Europe during the Summer and countries were scrambling to find solutions.
It wasn't all bad news though. A popular uprising toppled the Marcos regime in the Philippines, paving the way for democratically elected Corzon Aquino to assume leadership for the first time in many years. The upshot was we didn't have to hear about Imelda Marcos' shoes for a while.
But the year was laced with drama. No less grim was that of Chernobyl and the specter of nuclear power plant accidents and disasters, which were on the rise. Up to that point we only had Three Mile Island to compare it all to. Now the new measure for disaster was Chernobyl.
All in all 1986 gave the decade a dose of reality it was avoiding for a while. Since the Reagan Years sought to paint a rosy picture of the Shining City On A Hill - the terrible reality was the facade was crumbling.
1986 as part of the CBS Radio Series Where We Stand with Walter Cronkite.
In a process that mirrors the Occupy Wall Street movement itself, 60+ award-winning filmmakers & artists are making a film about it. Together.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is advising Iowans that by giving him their vote, they can "stick it" to the man.
Speaking to a crowd of supporters in Iowa Tuesday, the former Pennsylvania senator accused President Barack Obama of "nasty, personal, divisive, unfair accusations."
"That's why I'm asking for your help and support," Santorum explained. "Obviously you've got a big decision to make in a week's time, a week from today. And I would very much like your support. If you want to send a message to the man, those are the folks that are the experts, the folks that are trying to shape this race."
"If you want to stick it to the folks who want to shape the debate and think they can tell you who you should pay attention to, as opposed to you who have been on the ground listening to all the candidates, this is where you step up and say, 'No, you don't get to decide. You in Washington and New York, you don't decide this race by who you have shined your light on and said who the American public should pay attention to,'" he added.
The Republican Iowa caucuses take place Jan. 3.
Newt Gingrich invoking Pearl Harbor in comparison to his not appearing on the Virginia GOP primary ballot wasn't the first time he has done such a thing. It turns out that last year Newt invoked that day of infamy for something completely different:
On a day when Americans remember the lives that were sacrificed during the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Gingrich reminded us all what this momentous occasion is really all about when he chirpily tweeted, “The 69th anniversary of the japanese [sic] attack is a good time to remind folks of our novels pearl harbor and days of infamy newt.”
Newt did later delete that tweet, but not before the Twitterverse saw how he wanted to exploit such a tragic day in American history for his own personal gain. This really speaks a lot about someone who wants to be President and does beg the question - where is Rudy Giuliani?
This December 27th in 1979 was all about the continuing saga of American hostages in Tehran and the threatened trade embargo which was two votes shy of becoming a reality. President Carter had become personally involved, lobbying countries for unified support. But as we all know now, that wasn't going to happen because of the Presidential elections coming up in 1980 and those "deals" being struck.
However, the odyssey continued. The three Clergymen who visited the hostages on Christmas were scheduled to return to the U.S. on this day, with varying reports of the number of hostages they actually saw. It was also learned that the U.S. had the right to check the visas of Iranian students and deport them if wanted to.
Meanwhile, the Tass News Agency (Soviet Press) reported a coup had taken place in Kabul Afghanistan with reports of Soviet troops involved in street fighting. The agency went on to say the new regime was even more pro-Soviet than the previous one, leading speculation that something of a more sinister nature was afoot.
And to top it all off - economic predictions for the coming decade leaned towards a decline in living standards for the poor living in the U.S. - they neglected to mention if that definition of "poor" also extended to the rapidly vanishing Middle Class just around the corner.
December 27, 1979 as viewed by Stephani Shelton and the CBS Hourly News.
President Barack Obama took an oath to "promote the general Welfare." Venture capitalist Mitt Romney pledged to maximize shareholder value. Unfortunately, candidate Mitt Romney is pretending the two are the same thing. As Romney repeatedly insisted this month, President Obama's rescue of the U.S. auto industry and over one million jobs associated with it is little different than his own Bain Capital days of slashing jobs - and extracting profits.
Romney introduced the new defense of his "vulture capital" past during the December 15 GOP debate in Sioux City, Iowa. There, he took Obama to task for layoffs at General Motors as part of the successful auto bailout Romney opposed:
"In the real world, some things don't make it, and I believe I've learned from my successes and my failures. The President, I'll look at and say: 'Mr. President, how did you do when you were running General Motors as the president, took it over? Gee, you closed down factories. You closed down dealerships. And he'll say: 'Well, I did that to save the business.' Same thing with us, Mr. President. We did our very best to make those businesses succeed. I'm pleased that they did, and I've learned the lessons of how the economy works. This president doesn't know how the economy works. I believe to create jobs, it helps to have created jobs."
Days later, the son of American Motors magnate George Romney repeated the talking point:
"The president has had one experience overseeing an enterprise -- a couple of enterprises, General Motors and Chrysler," Romney told Fox News in an interview that aired Sunday. "What did he do? He closed factories. He laid off people. He didn't do it personally, but his people did. Why did he do that? Because he wanted to save the enterprise, and he wants to make it profitable so it can survive."
No. In 2009, President Obama was trying to save an entire industry, one at the very heart of American manufacturing. In so doing, Obama likely helped save the United States from a second Great Depression.
As McClatchy reported this week:
U.S. and foreign automakers are poised to add nearly 167,000 U.S. jobs by the end of 2015, according to the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. That breaks down to 30,000 hourly and salaried workers at the Big Three U.S. automakers, 17,000 jobs at foreign automakers and about 120,000 auto-supply sector jobs...
Most analysts say the industry's growing stability is sweet vindication for the federal government's $80 billion bailout, which allowed General Motors and Chrysler to reorganize. The Center for Automotive Research estimates that the bailouts saved more than 1.1 million jobs in 2009 and another 314,000 in 2010, while avoiding personal income losses of more than $96 billion.
And over time, the federal tax revenue from that personal and business income will more than offset any potential losses the government might sustain from its future sales of GM stock. As USA Today noted in June in admitting the success of the Obama administration's bailout of Detroit:
That loss is nothing to sneeze at. It's a heck of a lot better, though, than the $108 billion to $156 billion the government would have lost over three years if it hadn't intervened, according to the Center for Automotive Research, a Detroit-based think tank. Those losses would have come in the form of lower tax receipts and higher spending for pension guarantees, jobless pay and other benefits.
As for Mitt Romney, who famously insisted in November 2008 that Washington should "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," USA Today rightly pointed out, "On what planet would the automakers have found private lenders willing to provide tens of billions of dollars in needed bankruptcy financing at the height of a financial panic?"
In a nutshell, President Obama's tough actions, including painful layoffs and pay cuts for auto workers, saved American jobs, American taxpayer revenue and perhaps the American economy. But for Mitt Romney and his Bain colleagues, the benefits often went into their pockets alone.
A woman in Minnesota has been by helped by Occupy Minneapolis to hold on to her home after losing her job and falling behind on mortgage payments.
Al Jazeera has been meeting families across the world as part of a series about how ordinary people have been affected by some of the biggest events of 2011.
September marked the start of the grassroots Occupy Wall Street protests, which focused attention on the economic struggles facing most Americans.
The movement is helping a family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, hold on to their home. Monique White fell behind on her mortgage payments and the bank foreclosed on her despite efforts to renegotiate the loan.
Al Jazeera's John Terrett reports on how activists are occupying White's house in a bid to prevent the foreclosure.