Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Time

The first weekend of spring is here and in Southern California it is raining buckets, there are wars going on in Afghanistan, Libya and Central Africa, Japan is desperately trying to recover from the earthquake and tsunami, prices for food and gasoline are going up daily, drivers continue not to use their turn signals and Tony Villaraigosa is still mayor of Los Angeles.

For the first time since World War II, Americans are in hot conflicts in three different places - and this time, all three fronts are in Muslim countries. The U.S. military is showing its amazing range: roughly 48,000 troops remain in Iraq; 100,000 are in Afghanistan; and now five U.S. ships, with a total crew of about 1,000 sailors, have fired missiles at Libya. Today, U.S. planes are expected to enter Libyan airspace, and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned on ABC's "This Week" that Moammar Gadhafi "still has some surface-to-air capability, where he could attack an aircraft, including one of ours."

American consumers have long enjoyed a luxury that few others could boast: an abundance of affordable food. But with prices of wheat, corn and other staples soaring, some economists and scientists are wondering how long that can last. On Wednesday, the U.S. Labor Department reported that wholesale food prices jumped 3.9% in February ... the highest monthly increase in 37 years. Economists expect to see a similar uptick in what consumers are paying for food at retail when the Labor Department releases its consumer price index Thursday. ... Economists warn that such prices will probably remain high this year and possibly much longer, driven by a confluence of factors: the fall of the U.S. dollar, slowing growth in crop yields, political unrest in the Middle East, high crude oil prices and a revived interest in crop-based biofuels.

Despite all this bad news there are positive events to draw upon this first weekend of spring; the Los Angeles Marathon was an exciting event as always, your friends are still your friends and will always be there for you, Sarah Palin is not running for President (but beware in 2016), the NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments are in full swing, the Super Moon on Saturday night was a cool thing to see, the Southern California deserts are in full bloom and Tony Villaraigosa has only two years left in his term. So smile and think only good thoughts this first week of spring. Here are some spring pictures taken by Rink Rats this past weekend, to get you in an upbeat mood.

Spring Time in the desert. Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells.

PRESIDENT OBAMA on GUN CONTROL, in an op-ed in the (Tucson) Arizona Daily Star, "We must seek agreement on gun reforms": "Like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. ... I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place. ... First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books. ... Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data - and therefore do the most to protect our citizens. ... Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can't escape it."

PALIN WANING - Conservative intellectuals slam her -- Jonathan Martin and John F. Harris: "Sarah Palin has played the sexism card, accusing critics of chauvinism against a strong woman. She has played the class card, dismissing the Bush family as 'blue bloods,' and complaining that she is the target of snobbery by people who dislike her simply because she is 'not so hoity-toity.' Most famously, she has played the victim card ... Palin's flamboyant rhetoric always has thrilled supporters but lately it is coming at a new cost: A backlash ... from some of the country's most influential conservative commentators and intellectuals. Palin's politics of grievance and group identity, according to these critics, is a betrayal of conservative principles. For decades, it was a standard line of the right that liberals ... practiced the politics of identity-race, sex and class ... Matt Labash, a longtime writer for the Weekly Standard, said that because of Palin's frequent appeals to victimhood and group grievance, 'She's becoming Al Sharpton, Alaska edition.' ... Asked if the GOP would remain the party of ideas if Palin captures the nomination, [George] Will said: 'The answer is emphatically no.'"

Sarah Palin has shown no capacity to evolve, grow substantively, or expand her base of support. If she had spent her time studying education reform, like Jeb Bush - or developing a signature issue of any sort - a Palin candidacy would look much more promising. She resigned as governor in July, 2009 -- a year and a half that has been squandered, used only to make money rather than to reintroduce herself to the American middle.

BACHMANN HAS PATTERN OF FACT ERRORS - Jonathan Martin and Kendra Marr: "Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's suggestion Saturday that the Revolutionary War began in Concord, N.H., rather than Lexington and Concord, Mass., marks the third time in recent months that the potential GOP presidential hopeful has committed a puzzling gaffe about history and current affairs. Making her first trek to New Hampshire as a 2012 prospect, Bachmann told a GOP crowd in Manchester: 'You're the state where the shot was heard around the world at Lexington and Concord.' ... At a fundraiser Friday night on the New Hampshire Seacoast, Bachmann said almost the exact same thing, according to the Minnesota Post. ... Speaking in January to an Iowa anti-tax group, Bachmann claimed that the authors of the country's founding documents sought to end slavery."

The Wall Street Journal Asia editorial, "Nuclear Overreactions: Modern life requires learning from disasters, not fleeing all risk": "After a once-in-300-years earthquake, the Japanese have been keeping cool amid the chaos, organizing an enormous relief and rescue operation, and generally earning the world's admiration. We wish we could say the same for the reaction in the U.S., where the troubles at Japan's nuclear reactors have produced an overreaction about the risks of modern life and technology."

Record 5.9 Million Brackets in's Men's Tournament Challenge Game, surpassing last year's record 4.8 million - ESPN release: "More fans picked Kansas, Ohio State, Duke and Pittsburgh to reach the Final Four than any other teams. In those predicted games (Ohio State vs. Duke, Kansas vs. Pittsburgh): Ohio State was picked to defeat Duke 19.1 percent of the time; Kansas was picked to defeat Pittsburgh 25.3 percent of the time; 25.9 percent of participants chose Ohio State to win the national championship. An analysis of Second Round picks by the 5.9 million brackets finds: 57.2% of brackets picked #10 Michigan State to defeat #7 UCLA; 53.7% of brackets picked #9 Tennessee to defeat #8 Michigan; 46% of brackets picked #10 Florida State to defeat #7 Texas A&M; 99.5% of brackets picked #1 Ohio State over #16 University of Texas-San Antonio."

FED TO LOOSEN REINS ON BANKS - WSJ's Dan Fitzpatrick on pg. C1: "The Federal Reserve is expected Friday to free some of the nation's biggest banks from strict oversight ... The Fed will now allow financial institutions that have passed a fresh round of stress tests to run their businesses independent of crisis-era restrictions imposed in 2008. That will permit banks to raise dividends and buy back shares ... On Friday, banks that get the green light to boost dividend payouts will be able to announce those plans immediately. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is expected to receive approval for a dividend boost and share buybacks ... Analysts also expect U.S. Bancorp, American Express Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. to be among the first institutions cleared from government restrictions."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Alex Ball …a few days late but Happy 21 years, Kenny Chesney (43), Bob Costas (59), Valtteri Filppula (27), Orrin Hatch (77), Elton John (64), Peyton Manning (35), Denny McLain (67), Danica Patrick (29), Bob Woodward (68) .

WORDS OF THE MONTHretrograde \RE-truh-greyd\, adjective:

1. Having a backward motion or direction; retiring or retreating.
2. Inverse or reversed, as order.
3. Exhibiting degeneration or deterioration.

“Retrograde motion, or retrogression, within the Earth's atmosphere refers to weather systems which move from east to west through the Westerlies or from west to east through the Trade wind easterlies.”

temer, verb

to be afraid

Teme al profesor.
“He’s afraid of the teacher.”

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Friday 3/25, the NCAA final sixteen begin their tournament, this West Regional Semifinal has #3 ranked and Hockey East Champion Boston College Eagles (30-7-1) vs. #13 ranked and WCHA Runner-ups Colorado College Tigers (22-11-3), 9:00 PM ET, ESPNU. Jerry York’s BC Eagles are on a roll and should have no problem against CC Tigers. Rink Rats predicts these final four participants for College Hockey supremacy: East – Yale Bulldogs, Northeast – Miami University of Ohio Red Hawks, Midwest – North Dakota Fighting Sioux, West– Boston College Eagles.
Season to date (3-8).

NFL LABOR - AP: "One week into the lockout, the NFL and the players are drifting further apart. ... [P]layers ... said they consider a letter Commissioner Roger Goodell sent them ... an attempt to divide them. ... Goodell outlined the NFL's version of last week's proposal and told players: 'I hope you will encourage your union to return to the bargaining table and conclude a new collective bargaining agreement.' Players were upset by that line, particularly the reference to 'your union' - the [NFL Players Association] renounced its status as a union and says it is now a trade association, which permits the court actions under antitrust laws."

DIET COKE RULES - U.S. sales of Diet Coke overtook those of Pepsi-Cola for the first time in 2010, making the diet soda the No. 2 carbonated soft drink in the country behind Coca-Cola, industry data are expected to confirm Thursday. Occupying the top two rankings would mark a historic win for Coca-Cola Co. in its decades-old rivalry with PepsiCo Inc.

IN MEMORIUM – “Warren Christopher, Ex-Secretary of State, Dies at 85," by N.Y. Times' Robert D. Hersey Jr.: "Warren M. Christopher, secretary of state in President Clinton's first term and the chief negotiator for the 1981 release of American hostages in Iran, died Friday night in Los Angeles. He was 85 and had been ill with kidney and bladder cancer. ... Methodical and self-effacing, Mr. Christopher alternated for nearly five decades between top echelons of both the federal government and legal and political life in California. Among other things, he served as administration point man with Congress in winning ratification of Panama Canal treaties, presided over normalization of diplomatic relations with China and conducted repeated negotiations involving the Middle East and the Balkans.”

Next week, The Jackass of the Month and our month end financial updates.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
March 21, 2011

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