Discussion Post: Week 7
Well, I’m sure we’re all aware of the obvious story this week. Feel free to further discuss that development and related details as you continue to prepare for Presentation II over this long weekend.
Those of you involved in aviation have undoubtedly been following the airline scares over the course of this week. On Tuesday, airport security in Salt Lake City arrested a passenger with a loaded gun in his carry-on bag. On Wednesday, a similar incident occurred in Seattle. Neither of these, however, compares to what happened in New York on Tuesday, when the Transportation Security Administration detained a man carrying multiple prohibited weapons. During a routine screening, TSA officials spotted four sets of brass knuckles, two stun guns, and — of all the things someone could take on a plane — a sword. Yet, even that may pale in comparison to the revelation that a keylogger virus has infected the U.S. Air Force drone fleet and is tracking every keystroke its operators input. Military sources don’t believe that the information is being sent to an outside source, but they have been unable to permanently exterminate the virus despite numerous removal attempts. Regardless of the keylogger’s presence, the drones are still being used for missions, so every one of those mission commands is being recorded, even if they have not yet been relayed to a remote hacker.
A great deal of news media remains on the recession and the unemployment crisis. A recent report suggests that Americans as a whole are currently relying on government benefits even more than they were during what some have termed the depth of the recession. President Barack Obama has largely blamed Republicans for the high unemployment rate, particularly challenging Congress’ inaction and representatives’ role in the partisan political struggle. In the meantime, protests by a loosely organized group called Occupy Wall Street have intensified over the past three weeks, spreading across the country thanks to posts on Twitter and other websites. Occupy Wall Street was, at least in part, an effort formed in response to government funding for failing banks and misconduct by major American financial figures. Obama has worked to convey his sympathy for the protesters, saying that many have experienced the same frustrations and that the protests may be developing into a larger political movement. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has further suggested that those protesters are especially angered by the high unemployment rate and government efforts that are “not relevant to their lives.” Many Republicans, on the other hand, have called for the protests to cease, saying that they are orchestrated distractions from the Obama administration’s failings and that they are disrupting both legitimate business efforts and day-to-day activities (such as driving through now-obstructed roads). In particular, Herman Cain, who has gained significant ground on his GOP rivals during the past few weeks, has been very critical of the protesters, saying that they are essentially asking the government to take money from those who have been successful and give it to those who complain. He went on to call such behavior “anti-American” and “anti-capitalistic” and to tell the protesters, “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!” Regardless of your views on the protests and who is really at fault, it should be noted that the average length of individuals’ unemployment is the longest that it has been in 60 years, despite the recent addition of over 100,000 new jobs. Still, with the holiday season on the horizon, retailers recorded strong September sales, and investors are looking ahead to quarterly reports to project how the economy will move from here.
On a related subject, it’s worth continuing to examine the 2012 presidential campaign. Let’s start with an interesting note on polling practices: Obama, in recent months, has fared poorly when pollsters have compared him against a generic Republican candidate (recent polls show his deficit at 4-6%), but not so poorly when they specifically ask potential voters whether they prefer him or an individual Republican candidate, such as Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and so forth — in fact, Obama leads most Republican candidates, and only trails Romney by 2-4% depending on the poll, which is within each poll’s margin of error. The reason for that dramatic shift is apparently because a “generic Republican” is a better candidate than any specific Republican. When asked about a generic candidate, voters tend to either choose the candidate they most prefer out of all possibilities or cobble together traits of their “ideal” candidate in that category, even if such a candidate does not exist in the race. It probably doesn’t help the non-generic Republican candidates that their debate audiences have been drawing more attention than they have. Notably, during the last primary debate on Sept. 22, audience members booed a soldier who, via YouTube, identified himself as gay and asked about the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy related to homosexuals in the armed forces. Several weeks later, candidates are still being asked about that reaction, as well as their responses to the audience’s behavior. In the past week, Romney has dealt with renewed concerns about his positions on social issues. Romney, a member of the Mormon faith, has been criticized in the past for not uploading conservative values and has also faced scrutiny from Christian voters in his party. While he has worked to emphasize his stance on fiscal policy, his rivals in the primary are increasingly demanding a response about his social views, as well. Another potential challenger, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has once again declined to mount a White House bid in 2012, disappointing some donors and Republican leaders who have been unhappy with the current field. Perhaps that is a strategic political move on his part, given that some analysts foresee a particularly aggressive set of campaigns over the next 13 months. Even outside the White House, though, this could become a very important election given the power at stake. Not only will a number of Congressional seats be up for grabs, but holding even a slight majority just became even more advantageous given Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s controversial use of the “nuclear option” on Thursday night which cast aside years of Senate precedent.
Just because it’s nice to end on a lighter note — and because the athletic entertainment industry is such an important aspect of our national culture (i.e., I’m a sports fan) — let’s talk a bit about some of the playoff developments over the past week. The two winningest teams during the regular season, the Phillies and the Yankees, were each eliminated in decisive Game 5 battles, leaving Detroit, Texas, Milwaukee, and St. Louis in the League Championship Series (LCS). Despite the high level of competition, the real star of the Division Series may have been St. Louis’ “rally squirrel,” which ran across home plate in the middle of a pitch during Game 4 in St. Louis, allegedly disrupting Philadelphia pitcher Roy Oswalt’s concentration. (The pitch was called a ball, despite Oswalt’s and Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel’s argument that the tiny mammal disrupted play and the pitch shouldn’t count.) The squirrel subsequently clambered into the stands, dashing through several rows of fans before disappearing under a set of benches. It has not been seen since. In any case, the Cardinals proceeded to win Game 4 by a score of 5-3, forcing the series back to Philadelphia for a fifth and final game. Ironically, officials and some players also struggled to corral a squirrel before Game 5 in Philadelphia despite the many states separating Busch Stadium and Citizens Bank Park. That squirrel was caught before game time, but the Cardinals nonetheless stunned the Phillies in a 1-0 shutout. Some have blamed Philadelphia’s elimination on “divine squirrelvention.” At least it was more fun to watch than the disintegrating NBA season, right?
Other articles of interest:
Ohio player pricks foes in handshake line, forces tetanus shots
ESPN drops Hank Williams, Jr., Hank claims he quit with his ‘rowdy friends’
Be careful, college conference jumpers
“Simpsons” Inked for 2 More Years
Secret panel can put Americans on ‘kill list’
Suspected domestic abusers go free as Topeka city, county officials bicker over funds
Gov. Jerry Brown signs Dream Act for state’s illegal immigrants
Yemen’s Saleh says will step down in coming days
Beating Butter: Denmark Imposes the World’s First Fat Tax
Man ditches plane into ocean off coast of Hawaii after running out of gas
Quadruple Rainbow Photographed for First Time
Got clothes? Designer crafts garments made of milk
Water in the Earth’s oceans may have come from Space
Cloning offers hope from stem cells
Why do Hispanics live longer, on average? They smoke less.
New ‘Electron Superhighway’ May be the Future of Quantum Computing
iPhone 4S Launch Day Preorders Sold Out at Online Apple Store
Steve Jobs’ Estranged Father Never Got Phone Call He Waited For
Jobs Family Statement: ”Steve Died Peacefully”
Steve Jobs’ virtual DNA to be fostered in Apple University
Tags: Barack Obama, Busch Stadium, Charlie Manuel, Chris Christie, Christianity, Citizens Bank Park, Congress, Detroit Tigers, economy, Harry Reid, Herman Cain, League Championship Series, League Division Series, Michelle Bachmann, Milwaukee Brewers, Mitt Romney, Mormonism, Nancy Pelosi, NBA, New York, New York Yankees, Occupy Wall Street, Philadelphia Phillies, Presentation II, rally squirrel, Republicans, Rick Perry, Roy Oswalt, Salt Lake City, Seattle, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Air Force, unemployment, Wall Street, YouTube