Friday, October 09, 2009

2009 Nobel Peace Prize

You could say it's a surprise. The news is just now burning through the Net: President Barack Obama has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Peace "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples..." As surprising as this recognition is, you need only scroll down a little on this blog to discern some of the evidence: the international attention and approval , his strong efforts towards a world without nuclear weapons begun at the UN , his leadership to rally the world to address the Climate Crisis and global economic problems at the G20 in Pittsburgh, and earlier efforts in respecting the Muslim world.
Congratulations, Mr. President. You make us proud. You give us hope.
Update: link to text and video of President Obama's statement on receiving the Nobel Prize.

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Writers don't give prescriptions. They give headaches."
--a character in a novel by Chinua Achebe

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

One Big Ringy-Dingy

Using infrared technology, the NASA space telescope Spitzer has discovered a huge ring around Saturn that hadn't been detected before. The newly found ring is so huge it would take 1 billion Earths to fill it, JPL said. Writes BBC science correspondent Jonathan Amos: The scale of the new ring feature is astonishing. Nothing like it has been seen elsewhere in the Solar System. It also may solve a longstanding puzzle involving several of Saturn's moons.

Healthy Directions Continuing

What looked like a debacle to some a few weeks ago is shaping up as a political triumph. As support for a public option increases, opposition to health care reform in general is apparently fading. A number of prominent (though currently out of office) Republicans have suddenly gone on record in favor of a health care reform bill, in addition to prominent officeholders Gov. Terminator of CA and Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, current and former sort of GOPers respectively.

Now comes word than Congressional GOPer opposition may be collapsing. This on a day when the CBO report on the Senate Finance version has generally good news--saving the government billions--and even this modest reform looks beneficial, though mandates without a public option remain politically dangerous.

But again, there's still a long way to go, and reversals of fortune are still possible. But if this momentum can be orchestrated and intensified, it will indeed be a political triumph of major magnitude, on an issue that never should have been a partisan issue in the first place.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

President Hope

In an annual survey, the U.S. is the most admired nation in the world, rising from 7th place last year, all because of President Obama. "What's really remarkable is that in all my years studying national reputation, I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States for 2009," said Simon Anholt, the founder of NBI, which measured the global image of 50 countries each year. He says the difference is Obama. "There is no other explanation," Anholt said in an interview, referring to the impact of Obama.
In our hate-strewn political noisemaking, it's too easy to forget that the election of Barack Obama to the presidency gave both symbolic and real hope to billions around the world. His policies--on the economy, energy, the Climate Crisis, etc.--are closer to where much of the world is. His leadership on international issues and willingness to engage and hold America to the same standards as other nations reverses the suspicion and fear that accompanied Bush. America reclaims its image as a global repository of hope.
The photo above from Italy is from a Kos diary by blackwaterdog with many more photos.
Update: AP reports that President Obama's approval has gone up six points--his first move upward since starting at such a high point with his Inauguration--and his disapproval rate has gone down ten points.

A Healthy Direction

It may actually be coming together. Opposition arguments on health care reform have played themselves out, polls show public support for reform including the public option, and new voices and energy are being added to the push for reform. When Organizing for America (born of the Obama campaign) sought $300,000 in online contributions to air ads featuring doctors and health care professionals supporting reform, they received $600,000, which suggests that the grass roots is back in the game.

Things seem to be coming together in Congress, however slowly. Support for a bill with the public option seems solid in the House, and Senate leadership is predicting a public option in its version, which Majority Leader Reid seems to want to create from the existing bills reported out of the Health and (soon) the Finance committees.

Salon has a good summary of recent developments. Mcjoan at Kos declares the public option battle won, and looks forward to the main event.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Meet Great-Great etc.Grandma

Meet "Ardi," an artist's conception of a 4.4 million year old proto-human, derived from fossils unearthed, reconstructed (using computers, often from very small fragments) and studied, as announced last week. This ancestor is a million years older than those studied before, and quite different--suggesting a very different evolutionary history for humans and other primates than previously believed. It suggests to at least one anthropologist that human evolution "went social." Of the the articles I read, this one at the Wall St. Journal seems most cogent, but the NY Times has a different emphasis, and the Guardian offers video and audio as well.

Emerson for the Day

"This floor holds us up by a fight with agencies that go to pull us down. The whole world is a series of balanced antagonisms."
Journal entry May 1851