2014


 
       

February 10 had the pleasure to see my college friend Jake Bergey (far right) have his number retired by the Philadelphia Wings at the Wells Fargo Center. Pictured with us is Jayme Block (far left) who played with Jake at Salisbury and is now the Alumni director.

June is family vacation time at the Jersey Shore. Specifically LBI. It has become a family tradition to visit certain locations and this group photo was taking at the Holiday Snack Bar.

June 21. I have often referred to Eliza Dushku as one of my most favorite people on the planet. Taking some time at Philly Cmic Con, I had the opportunity to have lunch with her and just talk about our lives, charities, Comic Cons, families, life, etc. An amazing person. Cherished moments.

A terrible picture but two of my longest and dearest friends (Ed and Joe) We got together one night in early July and just had a wonderful night. I don't spend enough time celebrating my friends.

December 18, The Tin Angel in Philly. Hanging out with Lee DeWyze. Although I had seen him a couple other times this year, tonight we really got a chance to hang out and catch up. A fan said to me that it looked like Lee was happy to see me. He and his wife Jonna have become great friends. I support them whenever I get a chance.   December 25. Christmas with my sister and the family. Always a special time of year. Love spending time with the nephews (even when they photo bomb) Looking forward to the next family event.

 

Sports History
..Philadelphia Phillies (MBL) . 73-89

5th Place NL East
Missed Playoffs

..Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) ..42-30-10 3rd Place Metroppolitsn Division
Lost in Quarterfinals (4 games to 3) to the Rangers
..Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) ..10-6 2nd Place NFC East
Missed Playoffs
..Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) 19-63 Last Place, Atlantic Division
Missed Playoffs
..Philadelphia Wings (MLL) ..6-10

4th Place
Missed Playoffs

..Salisbury University (my college) ..

National Champions -
Women's Lacrosse

Conference Champions -
Baseball
Cross Country
Men's Lacrosse

Men's Soccer
Men's Track (Outdoor & Indoor)
Field Hockey
Women's Lacrosse
Softball

Bowl Champions -
Football ECAC


What Happened This Year?

JANUARY

01 - In a New Year's message broadcast on North Korean television, Kim Jong-un attempts to appear reasonable by explaining the execution of his uncle. He described it as "the elimination of factional filth" which has bolstered the country's unity "by 100 times." He also called South Korea "warmongers," and he spoke of wanting better relations with South Korea.

01 - Ruth Marcus, a prominent liberal columnist for the Washington Post begins the New Year by jumping into the Edward Snowden controversy. She writes of Snowden's "messianic sense of self-importance" not having deflated. She adds: "Nor has living in an actual police state given [him] any greater appreciation of the actual freedoms that Americans enjoy." She further describes Snowden as "smug, self-righteous, egotistical, disingenuous, megalomaniacal, overwrought." George Orwell, she writes, "would have told Snowden to chill."

03 - In Cambodia, garment workers are on strike demanding a doubling of the minimum wage. Today, after workers blocked a road and clashed with police, the police opened fire killing three workers and injuring several more. Cambodia's government is in the hands of the Cambodian People's Party, formerly a Marxist-Leninist party. It is in a coalition with the party that supports Cambodia's monarchy. Prime Minister Hun Sen, in power since 1985 is, according to Wikipedia, "widely viewed as a dictator that has assumed authoritarian power in Cambodia using violence and intimidation and corruption to maintain his power base."

08 - Emails and texts prove that Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff to Governor Chris Christie, ordered the two lanes closed on the George Washington Bridge near Fort Lee, New Jersey in September 2013. The emails and texts show that the order was to punish Fort Lee's mayor for not endorsing Christie in the re-election. The emails go on to show that Christie's staff was happy about the chaos and traffic that the lane closings caused. Christie denies knowledge of the emails and blames his staff. The emails prove that Christie's staff was directly involved, something that he repeatedly denied in the past weeks. After the emails and texts are released, Christie says in a statement, ""I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: This type of behavior is unacceptable, and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions."

09 - In Pakistan the Taliban strikes again, in a car bomb attack killing what Reuters News describes as a "top Pakistani policeman renowned for his tough stance on criminals and Islamist militants."

13 - In West Virginia as many as 300,000 people enter their fifth day unable to use tap water for anything besides flushing toilets. This is the result of a chemical used to clean coal leaking out of a decaying old storage tank. "It's an old system," said a government official. He added that the company, Freedom Industries, has plans to upgrade it.

14 - Frustration continues among the nearly 1.4 million unemployed Americans whose jobless benefits expired on December 28. Congressional Republicans are saying that any extension of benefits must be paid for by spending cuts. The frustrated include Carol Scott of Baltimore, who, according to columnist Eugene Robinson, "keeps getting told she is overqualified for jobs paying less, which she would happily take." Robinson points out that to receive benefits people have to show that they have been actively looking for work. Also frustrated is Lita Ness, who lost her job as a civilian contractor at Peterson Air Force Base in August 2012. The Associated Press reports her as saying, "I'm registered as a Republican, but if they continue to use this not extending our (aid) I'm probably changing to Democrat."

22 - Argentina has an inflation problem. Inflation is in double digits. The courts have overturned an attempt by the government to prevent anyone from publishing an inflation figure different from what the government says it is. The value of Argentina's currency is threatened, and the government needs more revenue. BBC News reports that anyone buying items through international websites, such as Amazon.com, "will now need to sign a declaration and produce it at a customs office, where the packages have to be collected." Someone complains: "Each time you go to customs, you need to spend three or four hours."

28 - Attacks by Buddhist monks against Christians and Muslims in Sri Lanka are reported in Saudi Arabia, where the monarchy supports peace among peoples of different faiths. Buddhists are 70 percent of the population and Muslims second with 10 percent. The Forum for Inter-Faith Dialogue is asking for full implementation of the law against such attacks. The Saudi newspaper Arab News reports: "Videos shared on YouTube have shown Buddhist monks throwing stones and smashing a Christian prayer center in southern Sri Lanka earlier this month while police looked on. Monks were also caught on video camera last year smashing Muslim-owned businesses just outside the capital."

FEBRUARY

02 - People in Ukraine continue their attempt to effect political change through demonstrations and building occupations rather than through the ballot box. Their protests began following their government's rejection of a far-reaching accord with the European Union. And the protests turned violent in their confrontation with police following parliament passing legislation outlawing protests. The protests have been massive enough to bring about the resignation of the prime minister and his cabinet. President Yanukovich, elected in 2010, has been willing to talk with protest leaders, and parliament has annuled the new anti-protest laws. But the protesters want Yanukovich to resign. They want victory in the streets, a political revolution, which rarely happens when people can express themselves at the ballot box. Some speak of the possibility of a civil war. Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry proclaimed US support for Ukraine's "fight for democracy," and Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov accused Western countries of a double standard regarding politics by violent protests. The election of Yanukovich in 2010 was described in Russia as "highly rated by international observers," while the losing opposition party claimed that there had been fraud.

05 - The Obama administration denounces Egypt's detention of three Al Jazeera journalists and calls for their release. In solidarity with the three, numerous journalists around the globe have tweeted photos of themselves with their mouths taped shut. Christiane Amanpour is among the protesters. Egypt's intirim government has accused the three of spreading false news and having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt classified as a terrorist organisation.

07 - Despite threats of terrorist attacks, complaints about poor preparations and the international condemnation over their anti-gay law, Russia kicks off the costliest Olympic Games in history with an opening ceremony filled with music, floats and a light show using the most advanced technology available. The opening ceremony is mostly glitch free, although one of the five floating Olympic rings fails to open. Russian President Vladimir Putin attends and officially announces the start of the games during the ceremony. On the same day as the opening ceremony, a passenger on a Turkish jetliner tells the crew a bomb is on board and to fly the plane to Sochi. Instead, the crew sends a signal to Istanbul where it lands. The suspect is taken into custody. No bomb is found onboard. Meanwhile, the U.S. government bans all liquids, gels, aerosols and powders in carry-on luggage for flights to and from Russia. The ban comes after the U.S. issues a warning that explosive material could be concealed in toothpaste tubes.

07 - A leaked telephone conversation exposes differences between the US and the EU over events in Ukraine. A senior US State Department official, Victoria Nuland, in a message to the US ambassador to Ukraine said "F*ck the EU," and apparently it was the Russians who tapped into and leaked the conversation. The Russians are accusing the US of arming, funding and training the opposition to take power. According to Reuters News, "Moscow portrays the anti-Yanukovich demonstrators as paid Western agents and seems to be pushing for Yanukovich to order a crackdown to clear the streets." Russia is described as having "bailed out Ukraine with an offer of $15 billion in cheap gas and loans after Yanukovich snubbed the EU trade pact" and Russia has cut off these funds" until it learns who the new prime minister will be." Meanwhile Germany's Angela Merkel again expresses anger with the US, and she expresses support for EU policy regarding Ukraine.

11 - Philadelphia Wings retire Jake Bergey's #66

13 - The journal PEN America has condemned the executions in Iran in late January of the poet Hashem Sha'bani and the cultural activist Hadi Rashedi. The two were arrested in September 2011. They were convicted in July 2012 of "enmity against God," "corruption on earth," "gathering and colluding against state security," and "spreading propaganda against the system."

14 - President Obama puts in an appearance in California, giving attention to the drought there, the worst drought in the state's recorded history. The drought is hurting the state's agriculture and wildlife including salmon, and it's threatening its supply of drinking water. California has long suffered from growing populations lowering its water tables, and Californians are wondering how quickly desalination plants can be put online. CNBC writes that "California has a half dozen desalination plants (the U.S. total is more than 300, experts say) mostly around the central coast in towns like Sand City, Marina and Cambria." Bigger and more expensive plants are on the drawing board, to be paid for by private enterprise, which will sell the water to the public. The cost of buying water is expected to rise. There is also a concern over the outflow of seawater from desalination plants, which can kill marine life. Today in California, President Obama has promised to make available within 60 days up to $100 million in aid to help California farmers who lost livestock due to drought conditions. Public comments include a complaint that Obama is worthless because he is not addressing the root of problems, and someone else criticizes climate change deniers. Someone living on a meagre income complains that the price of everything is "really going to rise sky high" and we will need to start growing our own veggies.

18 - In Thailand, the police appear to have turned from neutrality to action against demonstrators trying to oust the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck. BBC News reports one police officer and two protesters shot dead and dozens injured as police clash with protesters in Bangkok.

22 - The UN Security Council resolves unanimously that barrel bombing by the Assad regime must stop and that there must be full, unfettered humanitarian access to population centers. It added that If this is not complied with there will be more examination and futher action.

24 - Winter Olympic results has Russia leading medal totals at 33. The US is second at 28 and Norway third at 26. Switzerland has 11 medals, a third of Russia's, but it has around roughly 1/17th Russia's population. Norway has 1/30th Russia's population and has 1/60th the population of the US. Canada won 25 medals, and its population is about 1/9th that of the US. Winter sports are not big in Latin America, and Latin-American countries won nothing. Neither did India. But that other country with an enormous population, farther to the north, China, won 9 medals, almost as many as Switzerland, which has 1/168th China's population.

26 - NASA announces the discovery of 715 newly verified planets outside our solar system, discovered by use of the Kepler Space Telescope.


MARCH

01 - Yesterday, President Obama announced that he was deeply concerned by reports of Russian military movements inside the Ukraine, and he said that "the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine." This morning, BBC News reports that President Putin has asked parliament to approve the use of troops in the Ukraine. There are reports that Russia already has "some extra 6,000 troops" in the Crimea. Russia says any movements by its military in Crimea are in line with agreements with Ukraine in the lease of the naval base in the port city of Sevastopol. From the street in Kiev comes a cry of "Putin, hands off Ukraine." Comments to Reuters include sarcasm aimed at Obama and his "red line" pronoucements regarding Syria. Someone complains to The Guardian (British) about Obama saying nothing about "armed protesters in Kiev bringing down a democratically elected government." Someone else remembers Hungary in 1956 and expects the Russians to do as they please.

03 - Early today, Russia responded to the West by saying its troops are staying in the Ukraine to protect Russian lives and interests. By noon Eastern Standard Time, BBC News was reporting that Russia had de facto control over the Crimea. And, according to Ukrainian sources, the Russians have given Ukraine's forces there until dawn tomorrow to surrender or face an assault. The Russian stockmarket has plunged 11.5 percent and Russia's ruble has declined in value. In the US, some are describing Putin as a despot hurting himself with a mistake that doesn't require any threats of military action by President Obama.

05 - Yesterday President Obama announced his budget for fiscal 2015, which begins on October 1. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the president of being political. He said: "The president has once again opted for the political stunt for a budget that's more about firing up the base in an election year than about solving the nation's biggest and most persistent long-term challenges." His Republican colleague in the House, Paul Ryan, added: "This isn't a serious document; it's a campaign brochure."

06 - Early today, Crimea's parliament voted unanimously to make the Crimea a part of Russia. It appears that opinion among people in the Crimea, largely ethnic Russians, favors the move. The government in Kiev condemns as illegal any move to set up a referendum in the Crimea on the issue. It appears to want to rule in the Crimea despite opinion there, raising the old issue of the right to secede if people want it. The US is throwing its support to the new government in Kiev, and it joins Kiev in its condemnations. President Obama says a Crimea referendum would "violate the Ukrainian constitution and international law." Someone comments: "Ukraine would be better off without the Crimea – otherwise Ukraine will be doomed to permanent instability and will have to expend resources that could be better applied elsewhere on maintaining control of a region that doesn't want to be part of it." Someone describes Putin as a new Stalin, and a contrarian writes: "Ukraine. Hands off Crimea!" Another writes: "So one illegitimate government is telling another illegitimate government that they cannot hold a referendum. Forget about Crimea, it is joining Russia and there is nothing that can be done about it, END OF STORY!"

07 - Donald Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday and described Putin as "toying with Obama." He said that without the Crimea the Ukraine "will fall" because it's in the Crimea where "all the money is." He blamed our problems abroad on there being "no respect any longer for our great country."

10 - Japan has a declining economic growth figure for October to December: an annual rate of 0.7 percent, down from 1.0 percent. Also of concern is Japan's public debt at 226 percent of GDP for 2013, ahead of second place Zimbabwe at 202 percent and Greece at 175 percent. (US public debt is at 71.8 percent and Britain's at 91 percent of GDP.) As a move against its debt, Japan's Prime Minister Abe, a conservative, is increasing sales taxes.

18 - President Putin signs a treaty with Crimea that joins Crimea to Russia. He says,"In the hearts and minds of people, Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia." His speech to parliament is punctuated by standing ovations and cheers. To people massed in Moscow's Red Square he says, "Crimea and Sevastopol are returning to... their home shores, to their home port, to Russia!" He shouts "Glory to Russia" as the crowds chant "Putin, Putin, Putin." Crowds in Crimea join in the cheering, and there are tears. Putin declares that Russia is not interested in taking any part of what is left of the Ukraine – where ethnic Russians also reside.

22 - The Obama administration and the EU are imposing sanctions on Russia while President Putin is not expected in the near future to humiliate himself in the eyes of his public by backing down. Putin in his speech to the Russian nation says he is not interested in territory beyond Crimea, but President Obama says he has signed a new executive order that clears the way for more sanctions should Putin's military make moves beyond Crimea and into southern and eastern Ukraine. Germany's coordinator for relations with Russia, Gernot Erler, says US sanctions on Russsia are counterproductive and probably won't make Putin bow to Western demands concerning the Ukraine. The motive for Obama's sanctions appears to be to make Putin pay a price for what he has done and deter him from taking more. The question looms as to what will be accomplished by Putin paying a price that he can and will ignore. At least a few in the US see the president as motivated by the need to appear to be doing something other than just gape. Someone comments to the Wall Street Journal: "Sanctions hurt everyone and benefit those who sell under the curtain. An opportunity here for the ambitious." Someone else: "A battle of sanctions will hurt the USA much worse than it will hurt Russia."

31 - Prime Minister Erdogan claims triumph. His Justice and Development Party (AKP) is said to have received 45.6 percent of the votes and the main opposition party, the Republican People's Party, the secularist Kemalist party, 27.9 percent. Aljazeera reports Erdogan as having said he would "enter the lair of his enemies and make them 'pay the price' for plotting his downfall." Someone comments: "Go Erdog(an make them pay, congratulations! Congratulations! Good on you turkey." Someone who calls himself BS Spotter comments: "'Make them pay'......A real democrat, are you?" A third comments: This is just blessing of Allah on Turkey that the nation has chosen a leader like Erdogan, now he along with his team should day and night work for the dignity of Muslims."

31 - "How I Met Your Mother" fans finally learned the fates of the Ted, Tracy, Marshall, Lily, Barney and Robin, though some weren't so happy about it. "It wasn’t necessarily the happy ending that people were expecting,” admitted star Neil Patrick Harris. "But Carter [Bays] and Craig [Thomas], who were once writers on your show and the executive producers and creators, knew this ending years ago and had played towards that. And I was a big proponent of it and a big fan of it."

APRIL

01 - The current heads of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and General Motors, including new General Motors CEO Mary Barra, testify before House and Senate subcommittees in an attempt to explain why it took so long for car owners to be told about the potentially life-threatening defect in the Cobalt as well as other compact cars. During the hearings, Barra says that many of the answers Congress is looking for will come out of an internal General Motors investigation. According to Barra that investigation will be complete within 45 to 60 days. In response to the hearings, New Hampshire Senator and former prosecutor Kelly Ayotte says, "I don't see this as anything but criminal." The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation of how General Motor's handled the recall.

02 - NATO Secretary General Rasmussen (from Denmark) says "there can be no business as usual with Russia." BBC News reports that NATO foreign ministers have agreed "to suspend all practical civilian and military co-operation with Russia." The Guardian writes that "Two decades on from the end of the cold war, NATO governments returned last night to their core mission of protecting Europe from Russia." The Guardian adds: "While Barack Obama has declared that NATO must respond to the Russian force with 'strength and conviction', there is a sense among NATO diplomats that the Kremlin's strategy has reinforced NATO's raison d'être, boosting the arguments for its continued existence against regular calls for its dissolution as a cold war relic." CNN online at 2:18 PM EST has a huge headline: "It could happen in 12 hours." Referring to Ukraine's border, the subheading reads: "NATO warns about Russia's 'massive' buildup." The first of over 6000 comments to CNN's article includes the line, "I'm getting sick of all this crap."

04 - Climate change within the next five to ten years will lead to battles over water and food, says Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank and former Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The journalist Gwenne Dyer has a similar opinion. He reports "the real message" of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report on the impact of warming on human beings, released this week, is: "If you want to go on eating regularly in a rapidly warming world, then live in a place that's either high in latitude or high in altitude. Alternatively, be rich, because the rich never starve. But otherwise, prepare to be hungry."

05 - US Secretary of State John Kerry keeps trying to resolve conflicts. In the Washington Post an Obama administration antagonist, Charles Krauthammer, writes: "First, John Kerry convenes — against all advice and holding no cards — Geneva negotiations to resolve the Syria conflict and supposedly remove Bashar al-Assad from power. The talks collapse in acrimony and confusion. Kerry's response? A second Geneva conference that — surprise! — breaks up in acrimony and confusion. Then, even as Russian special forces are taking over Crimea, Kerry goes chasing after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — first to Paris, then Rome, then London — offering a diplomatic 'offramp.' Lavrov shrugs him off. Russia annexes Crimea." Krauthammer ends by pointing to failing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. A comment to the Post defends Kerry, saying: "To not engage is to be totally irresponsible."

08 - The University of Connecticut takes both the Men's and Women's NCAA Basketball Championships for the second time in history. First, UConn defeats Kentucky, 60-54, in the Men's Championship. In the historic Women's Championship, UConn beats Notre Dame, 78-58, to win a record ninth title. With the win, UConn coach Geno Auriemma breaks his tie with Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt for the most all-time. The Associated Press Player of the Year, Breanna Stewart leads the Huskies with 21 points while All-American Stefanie Dolson, playing in her last UConn game, has a double-double with 17 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists.

11 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Athens, described by Reuters as "a symbolic visit to mark the economic rehabilitation of a nation that over the past four years has threatened the stability of Europe and its single currency." She speaks of a new fund to finance small companies and says, "I believe that Greece has more opportunities than difficulties ahead of it." Protests in central Athens were banned and police were deployed in great number.

15 - Late yesterday Putin called Obama. A US White House official said that Obama "expressed grave concern about Russian government support for the actions of armed, pro-Russian separatists who threaten to undermine and destabilize the government of Ukraine." Putin has been described as telling Obama that accusations against Russia are "based on inaccurate information," and Putin blamed "current Ukrainian authorities" for "their unwillingness and inability to take into account the interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population." This afternoon, Kiev time, Reuters reports that Ukraine Interim President Turchinov has described his military operation as having started in the eastern Donetsk region, but that it will happen in stages 'in a considered way.' Turchinov calls it an "anti-terror" action. Russia is reported as responding with the declaration that Ukraine is on "the brink of civil war."

24 - Today, Assad regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs in Aleppo on what is being described as a vegetable market, the bombs said to have killed 24. Yesterday, ABC News reported that the US is investigating the claim that chlorine gas was used in attacks on towns in Syria on April 11 and 12. The Assad regime denies its military has done this, but the Assad regime alone is seen as having the means of carrying and delivering such weapons – namely helicopters. StrategyPage.com writes today that Russia and Iran agree with the Assad regime that victory is possible. It writes that "Iranian media and officials are now openly declaring this as fact," while the Assad regime has claimed that the main fighting in Syria will end this year.

28 - Two days ago Israel dropped its agreement to plan for peace talks with Palestinians. This followed the declared unity between the Western backed President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas, labelled by the US and Israel as a terrorist organization. Secretary of State John Kerry has phoned Abbas and expressed disappointment with the alliance. Hamas governs the Gaza Strip. It has been aided with funds from Iran and Egypt's Muslim brotherhood. Israelis quote Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist.

29 - NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million. The NBA's decision comes after the gossip website TMZ releases a tape of Sterling talking privately to his former girlfriend V. Stiviano. On the tape, Sterling can be heard saying racists remarks such as, "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people." Sterling's comments outrage the nation.

MAY

05 - China will upgrade Ethiopia's road system, power grid and help with agriculture, industrialization and other projects. China's Premier Li Keqiang and his wife arrived in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa yesterday for talks. Already China has funded Ethiopia's first expressway project, and it's building a light-rail transit system in Addis Ababa. According to China Daily USA, Beijing is commited to "deepening the China-Africa strategic partnership."

08 - The Beverly Hills Hotel, otherwise known as the Pink Palace, located just above Sunset Boulevard, in business since 1912, former home of Howard Hughes, Elizabeth Taylor and other well-known people, is now owned by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. Bolkiah is implementing a Sharia law penal code that includes death by stoning, the severing of limbs, and flogging for crimes in Brunei such as abortions, adultery and homosexual acts. BBC News describes the Sultan as having announced "the first phase of the new penalties last week." Celebrities, including Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres, are responding with picket signs and a boycott of the hotel. Brunei is rich in crude oil and natural gas. Its per capita wealth is greater than the US, just below that of Norway, while its infant mortality is almost twice that of the US and three times that of Norway.

14 - In late March, a visit by President Obama to Saudi Arabia appeared to be cut short after two hours, without a state dinner, and there were reports, however inaccurate, that King Abdullah thought Obama "a wimp who screwed up the whole Syria thing." Yesterday, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal gave signal of a major shift in attitude toward Middle East crises. According to Arab News he described crises in the Middle East as having given "major superpowers the opportunity to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries, which increases the phenomenon of terrorism." He said this at the Economic and Cooperation Forum that includes ministers of Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan. Arab News reports that he has invited Iran's foreign minister to visit Saudi Arabia, "stressing the Kingdom's readiness for negotiations with Teheran." Saudi Arabia and Iran have been antagonists regarding Syria, and Iran's help for Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime appears to have been successful along with Russian aid in keeping the Assad regime alive.

21 - In Beijing, President Putin signs several dozen agreements with the Chinese. One is for Russia selling gas to China, described as a "monster deal." Another involves cooperation in creating a competitor to Boeing and Airbus. Chinese companies will be working on infrastructure projects, including the first bridge across the Amur River between Russia and China in Siberia. With the meeting, Russia and China called for the de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine and for "peaceful, political ways to resolve existing problems."

23 - A gunman, identified as Elliot Rodger, kills six people and wounds 13 others in Isla Vista, California, a small town near Santa Barbara. He stabs three men in his apartment before driving to locations throughout the town where he kills three students. Two students are killed at the Alpha Phi sorority on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus. Another student is killed outside of the IV Deli Mart, a popular spot with students. Before the rampage, Rodger, age 22, posts a video called "Elliot Rodger's Retribution" on his YouTube Channel and writes a 137-page manifesto. In both, he expresses his anger over being rejected by women and his plans for revenge.

26 - In Thailand, General Prayuth announces that he has been formally endorsed by the king, and he warns that "tough measures' will be taken if protests continue. But as of this moment people are still in the streets, holding signs that call for democracy and that read "no coup." The protests aren't massive but are expected to escalate if the Morocco model of allowing peaceful protests is ignored in favor of the crackdown model.

28 - On PBS Frontline, Assad regime strategy is described as follows: "The idea is to terrorize civilians to try to convince them to turn against rebel fighters, to prevent the growth of any kind of local government in rebel areas." This is a reference to the use of barrel bombs and artillery shelling on densely populated areas. Also reported on Frontline: more use of chemical weapons.

29 - President Obama has been reported as approving the US military training moderate Syrian rebels to fight the regime of Bashar Assad and al Qaeda-linked groups. US officials told the Wall Street Journal early this week that the US will supplement the small training programs led by the CIA which the president authorized a year ago. And yesterday In a speech to graduating cadets at West Point, Obama said he "will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators."

30 - In Egypt's presidential election, with ballots from most polling stations counted, former military chief al-Sisi wins 93 percent of the vote. The vote was extended to a third day in response to a low voter turn out. Some attributed the low turn out to hot weather, political apathy and an election boycott called by the Muslim Brotherhood. Yesterday, al-Sisi said, "We know that some people fear a return to the past, but this will not happen, there is no going back and we will move forward." He added, "The population has ambitions and there are humble people who need us to work and fight for them."

JUNE

02 - The Guardian writes: "After seven years of a bitter and at times lethal rivalry between the two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, a historic Palestinian unity government has been sworn in, ending years of division." The unity government, controlled by Fatah, agrees tothe following: recognition of Israel, compliance to diplomatic agreements, renunciation of violence. Fatah sets its sight on controlling Gaza.In Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu has described Fatah, by allying with Hamas, as saying "yes to terrorism and no to peace." Israel's participation in peace negotiations with Fatah were called off in April after Israel became aware that today's agreement would take place.

03 - President Obama announces his plan for a $1 billion fund to increase deployment of US troops to Europe. He states its purpose as showing that the security of America's European allies is "sacrosanct." Also today, the president is being criticized for what Michael Gerson calls his "global war on straw men." Columnist Richard Cohen joins the "straw men" complaint, accusing Obama of speaking against what nobody is advocating: putting boots on the ground in Syria. Someone speaks against the show aspect of Obama's announcement and asks why not put "pressure on the Europeans to get their act together and beef up their own defence forces." Gallup, meanwhile, shows President Obama's approval holding steady in the last ten days of May: around 44% approving and 51% disapproving.

09 - In a study about memory, researchers at New York University School of Medicine and Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School have compared mice that sleep well with those that are sleep deprived. They find that sleep increases neuron connections in the brain. According to BBC News the study showed that in their brain "sleeping mice formed significantly more new connections between neurons." Neuron connections serve memory and memory serves learning.

15 - The San Antonio Spurs win their fifth NBA championship, dominating the Miami Heat, 104–87, in game five. The Spurs wining four games to one avenges their loss to the Heat in last year's finals. San Antonio small forward Kawhi Leonard, age 22, is named the finals MVP. The Spurs have won five championships since 1999; all five victories have been with Coach Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan.

17 - Prime Minister Maliki ignores Obama's call to embrace Sunni politicians as a condition of U.S. support. Maliki lashes out at the leading Sunni power in the region, Saudi Arabia, accusing it of supporting Sunni insurgents and promoting "genocide." Saudi policy has been opposed to al-Qaeda and its organizations and in support of the moderate military factions in Syria not linked to Islamic extremists.

24 - Rebels in Ukraine have agreed to the ceasefire declared by President Poroshenko a few days ago, and President Putin asks Russia's parliament to revoke his right to use force in Ukraine that it had issued on March 1. NATO lauds the ceasefire. Americans who were shouting their fears that Putin was on a march and comparing him to Hitler are quiet.

25 - The Supreme Court decides in a six to three vote that the start-up streaming company Aereo violated copyright laws by capturing and offering broadcast signals to their subscribers for a fee. The Court's ruling in ABC v. Aereo is in favor of the major networks in the television broadcasting industry which argued that Aereo was stealing their programming.

JULY

01 - The US Supreme Court rules 5 to 4 that family-owned and other closely held corporations can reject government action – such as a provision in Obama care – on religious objections. The company involved in the suit is Hobby Lobby and the issue is the morning-after pill, deemed by some to be abortion. Those who support the ruling hold that if someone who works at Hobby Lobby insists on taking morning-after pills they can buy and pay for it themselves. In her desenting opinion, Justice Ginsburg warned that the court had "ventured into a minefield." She said there was nothing in the majority opinion that foreclosed the possibility of a publicly traded company making a similar claim with the possibility of religious-based exceptions on issues like blood transfusions, antidepressants, and vaccinations.

03 - Germany's parliament approves its first nation-wide minimum wage law – at 8.5 euros (today $11.60). It was supported by Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats as part of their power-sharing association with the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD). Lobbyists complained that the new policy would make Germany less competitive. BBC News writes of business leaders in Germany complaining that it would "result in fewer jobs, or force companies to move production facilities to other countries, where labour is cheaper." The wage does not cover minors, interns, trainees or long-term unemployed people for their first six months on the job. The new regulations are set to become effective on January 1, 2015. The new law still needs approval by parliament's upper house, the Bundesrat. In March this year, Britain raised its minimum wage to £6.50 ($11.14) per hour. In May, Swiss voters rejected a referendum that would have created a minimum wage at 22 Swiss Francs ($24.73) per hour.

09 - American officials announce in that Chinese hackers breached the computer network of the Office of Personnel Management back in March. The officials say that the hackers from China seemed to target employees applying for top security clearances. It remains unclear how far the hackers got into the agency's network before authorities detected their presence and blocked them. This announcement comes weeks after the U.S. Justice Department indicts of five members of Shanghai-based Unit 61398, the cyber division of Chinese People's Liberation Army, charging them with hacking into the computer networks of Westinghouse Electric, U.S. Steel Corp., and other companies.

15 - BBC News reports today that this morning Israel accepted "an Egyptian truce proposal for the conflict and stopped operations... However, the armed wing of Hamas, which controls Gaza, rejected the initiative as a 'surrender'." The number of dead in Gaza since Israel's retaliation began one week ago is nearing 200. The number of Israeli dead is zero, and four wounded. Hamas is reported to have fired 50 more rockets against Israel so far today. Israel's airforce rules the skies, and Israel is poised to sends its tanks into Gaza. Hamas' plan for success or victory and avoidance of failure or "surrender" remains unexpressed. Hamas is said to have something like 10,000 rockets – a failure of Israel's blockage – and Israel may launch a ground invasion to punish Hamas and destroy its arsenal, which is bound to kill many more Palestinians. A question in the minds of some is whether a substantial number of Gazans will reject Hamas' strategy. Meanwhile, anti-Israel protests in the US and Europe have turned violent.

22 - BBC News reports an academic study that has found "more than 100 genes that make people more susceptible to schizophrenia – 83 of which have never been pinpointed before." Schizophrenia is described by Wikipedia as "a mental disorder often characterized by abnormal social behavior and failure to recognize what is real. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, auditory hallucinations, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and inactivity."

29 - The International Court rules that Russian officials manipulated the legal system to bankrupt Yukos and jail its boss, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He had been openly critical of Putin's politics.

31 - The CIA announces that an internal report found that agents did in fact hack into the Senate Intelligence Committee's computer network and used a false identity when doing so. In addition, the CIA's inspector general says that agents read the emails of the committee members. CIA director John Brennan apologizes to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the highest-ranking Republican on the committee. The news sparks bipartisan outrage. Sen. Mark Udall calls for Brennan's resignation. "The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into the Senate Intelligence Committee computers," he says in a statement. "This grave misconduct not only is illegal but it violates the U.S. Constitution's requirement of separation of powers."

AUGUST

01 - The 72-hour truce announced by the US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon began this morning at eight o'clock, EST, and ended 90 minutes later. Reuters reports that "Israel declared the ceasefire over ... saying Hamas militants breached the truce soon after it came in effect and apparently captured an Israeli officer while killing two other soldiers ... that 90 minutes into the truce, militants attacked soldiers searching for tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip used to infiltrate fighters into Israel." Palestinian families had begun to return to their devastated neighborhoods. Reuters reports hospital officials as saying that "Renewed Israeli shelling killed more than 50 Palestinians and wounded some 220."

01 - In August, several stars, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kaley Cuoco, and Kate Upton, had their iCloud profiles hacked. As a result, nude photos of the celebs soon found their way to the Internet, and an FBI investigation was launched. "This is a flagrant violation of privacy," a spokesperson for Lawrence told ABC News at the time. "The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence."

05 - The Moscow Times reports President Putin's speech glorifying Tsar Nicholas II's decision on August 1, 1914, to go to war to help Russia's Slavic brothers, the Serbs. Other European leaders have spoken of the war as a tragedy. Putin instead appeals to Russian nationalism. Russia failed utterly to help the Serbs. (Russia entering the war produced disaster for the Serbs, who handled Austria-Hungary's attack well enough on their own but were done in by the Germans.) Putin describes Russia as having been on the verge of winning its war in 1916, a ludicrous claim, and he blames Russia's failure on those who were sowing dissention within Russia – the Bolsheviks for whom he worked for years as a KGB agent. The Moscow Times writes, "From remarks earlier this year, it is clear that Putin also blames the Bolsheviks for splitting up Russia's empire."

07 - Saudi Arabia in cooperation with France gives Lebanon one billion dollars to help the Lebanese army and national security forces fight the Sunni al-Qaeda linked "terrorists" who have seized the town of Arsal, near the border with Syria. With this money, Lebanon is expected to buy weapons from France.

10 - President Obama has announced his intention to protect the 700,000 Yazidis in northern Iraq. These are a Kurdish speaking people who practice an ancient religion associated with Zoroastrianism and reviled by ISIS militants who view them as devil worshippers. The Huffington Post headlines that "at lead 500 Yazidis have been killed by ISIS ... women and children ... buried alive... hundreds of women kidnapped." Yazidis have fled to desert mountain top and are said to number 40,000. Obama has ordered airdrops of water and food for them, and he has authorized airstrikes against ISIS which took place two days ago. Yesterday, President Obama said it would "take some time" to help Iraq overcome its ISIS problem and to stabilize. He promised that he would not put any boots on the ground in Iraq. The airstrikes and humanitarian air drops might have to continue for months, he has said. Two of Obama's hawkish Republican critics, Senators McCain and Graham, complain that he has no vision and that his intervention won't defeat ISIS. William Saletan writes for Slate that they are are wrong. "ISIS will destroy itself. We don't have to stamp out ISIS, because its growth is inherently limited. It picks too many fights and alienates too many people."

11 - Legendary American comedic actor Robin Williams is found dead. As the nation begins to mourn, details are released, including that Williams died by asphyxiation. Shrines honoring Williams pop up all over the country, including one in Boston on a bench in the Boston Common where a scene from Good Will Hunting was filmed.

18 - Nine days ago a white policeman in Ferguson Missouri fired six rounds at an unarmed 18-year-old black male, MIchael Brown, reported to have his hands in the air. Protests followed and a few found opportunity to destroy property and loot, which the Brown family and President Obama have condemned. The local police brought out Iraq-war style military equipment and offended people with their aggressive response. The community is predominately black and the Ferguson police are predominately white. Black police officers were brought in, state troopers took over and midnight curfews were declared. Yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Andrea Mitchell asked the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, "Why has a full week elapsed, and we still do not know anything? The public wants answers to what happened between Michael Brown and the white officer who shot and killed him." This morning, Reuters News describes the Missouri national guard having been "called in as the chaos continues."

20 - Talks in Cairo have ended with Israel unwilling to give Gaza its freedom until Hamas disarms and Hamas saying it won't disarm until Israel ends its occupation. If they had discussed simultaneity it didn't make the news. With this, yesterday Hamas sent more rockets into Israel and Israel retaliated with air strikes. Nineteen more Palestinians are reported killed, and Hamas reports that the wife and child of its military commander, Mohammed Deif, were killed.

28 - A US citizen, 33-year-old Douglas McCain, has been reported killed while fighting for ISIS in Syria. Some are trying to describe why he joined ISIS. An article in the Washington Post describes him as having been a "goof ball" in highschool. Between ages 19 and 27 he accumulated nine misdemeanor convictions. Then he had a religious conversion and found meaning in life. The conversion was to Islam. On the News Hour yesterday a woman in a headscarf, Humera Khan, was interviewed. She is the executive director of Muflehun, a think tank that focuses on countering violent extremism. The intensity of new converts was mentioned, and Khan spoke of such men having only a shallow knowledge of Islam and wanting to prove themselves with "good deeds" and looking for "a sort of like shortcut to heaven." A tweeted New Republic article by Mehdi Hasan, dated August 22, describes jihadist newbies buying the book Koran for Dummies. Hasan writes that "the 1,400-year-old Islamic faith has little to do with the modern jihadist movement."

30 - ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Fundraiser for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Why it made headlines: This summer, thousands of Americans posted videos to Facebook challenging folks to donate $100 to the ALS Association or suffer the wrath of having a bucket of ice water dumped on their heads. (The ice-bucket drenchings also were meant to promote awareness of ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease.) It wasn’t long before an Internet sensation was born, with such famous participants as George W. Bush, Justin Timberlake and Oprah. The phenomenon — which brought in $115 million —lasted for much of the summer, tapering off in September.

SEPTEMBER

01 - One of the few bright spots of the 2014 Phillies season happened on September 1 against division rival Atlanta Braves, when starter Cole Hamels, and relievers Jake Diekman, Ken Giles, and Jonathan Papelbon combined for a no-hitter in Turner Field.

02 - In London yesterday, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis told a crowd of up to 4,500 that he could not have foreseen the need to rally against anti-Semitism. Betweem January and June of this year, 304 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded across Britain. Rabbi Mirvis called for an end to all forms of prejudice including Islamophobia.

03 - The war in western Africa against the Ebola virus is Situation Normal All Fouled Up (SNAFU). Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders complains that laws criminalizing the failure to report suspected cases are driving people underground and pushing people away from health systems. She says that, "These measures have only served to breed fear and unrest, rather than contain the virus." In the US, Doctor Thomas Frieden says that Doctors Without Borders is "doing phenomenal work" but is overwhelmed by the number of patients. What is needed, he says, is action. "Every day we delay in getting the proven treatments and prevention out there, it spreads more widely and we have more of it." Doctors Without Borders reports that 800 more beds for Ebola patients are urgently needed in the Liberian capital Monrovia alone and that in Sierra Leone highly infectious bodies were rotting in the streets. Joanne Liu is calling for field hospitals with isolation wards and mobile medical laboratories, and she speaks of "a global coalition of inaction." Yesterday by the way, health care workers at Liberia's main hospital went on strike over unpaid wages.

04 - With stem cell implants, scientists in Russia have created a method for a damaged liver to rejuvenate itself, "essentially allowing a patient to regrow a healthy organ," writes the Moscow Times. The report adds that a leading cause of death of Russians over 40 is cirrhosis of the liver.

07 - Serena Williams beats close friend Caroline Wozniacki, 6–3, 6–3, to win her sixth U.S. Open women's title. The win ties her with tennis legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for 18 Grand Slam titles. The follow day, Marin Cilic easily defeats Kei Nishikori in straight sets, 6–3, 6–3, 6–3, to win his first Grand Slam event.

08 - The National Football League (NFL) struggles throughout the month to deal with multiple incidents of domestic violence. TMZ releases video footage from an elevator camera that captured Baltimore Raven Ray Rice punching his fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the face. TMZ's video release renews criticism that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL's initial two game suspension of Rice had been too lenient. Many journalists and political leaders, including U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, call for Goodell to resign. (Sept. 9): During a CBS News interview, Goodell reiterates that no one in the NFL had access to the video prior to Rice's initial suspension. (Sept. 10): The Associated Press publishes a report that a copy of the video had been sent to a league official in April 2014. (Sept. 12): Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is indicted by a Texas grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. Soon after the indictment, TMZ posts photos on their website of Peterson's four-year-old son's legs with slash marks from being whipped by a switch. Mylan Inc. ends their endorsement deal with Peterson. Nike pulls Peterson's jerseys from its stores. After a second abuse claim surfaces involving Peterson and another son, the Vikings announce that Peterson is placed on the Exempt Commissioner's Permission List which requires him to stay away from all Vikings activities. (Sept. 17): Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer is arrested over two aggravated assault incidents. According to the police, the two incidents involve a 27-year-old woman and their 18-month old son. The Cardinals act quickly, deactivating Dwyer the same day he is arrested. Meanwhile San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald continues to play for the 49ers after his arrest for domestic violence. (Sept. 19): Goodell holds a press conference to apologize for the way he and the league has handled the domestic violence incidents.

09 - Today the conservative columnist Michael Gerson gives us his opinion about President Obama's strategy regarding ISIS, an article titled "Resuming the Long War." He speaks of more than 1,000 US troops already on the ground in Iraq in supportive roles and Obama's strategy being different from what it has been for the last "five, six, seven years: Special Operations raids and drone strikes while retreating from geostrategic commitments (as in Iraq) or ignoring them (as in Syria)." Now, according to Gerson, Obama "wants to 'degrade' the Islamic State's capabilities, 'shrink' its territory, and ultimately defeat 'em'". Gerson makes something of Obama's tough talk not described as a change in strategy. Now the US effort in Iraq, Gerson says, is a "counter insurgency campaign."

12 - For the first time, astronomers have detected water ice clouds around a dim celestial body outside of our solar system, similar to what exists around the Earth. The findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters on September 9.

19 - Scotland votes "No" to independence. 2,001,926 to 1,617,989. The 307-year Union survives. The United Kingdom stays united. The UK remains a member of the UN security council. Leaders in EU counties are relieved, including Germany's Foreign Mininister Steinmeier. Another German says the "No" vote prevents a "further fragmentation of Europe." Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine describes the Scottish nationalists as having "promised the moon." Italy's former prime minister, Enrico Letta, describes the vote as, "Good for us and for Europe" and adds, "Now let's not ignore the intolerance and fears which encourage separatists." President Obama has to be pleased. He is with others in seeing the British united as a stronger ally. Meanwhile, praises are issued for the democracy involved including the 85 percent voter turnout – in contrast to civil war that accompanied another effort at secession.

19 - After the first family has left the main residence, Omar Jose Gonzalez jumps the fence and runs across the North Lawn of the White House, carrying a knife. Gonzalez enters the main residence where he is apprehended by an officer. Police find more than 800 rounds of ammunition in his car. It is revealed later that when Gonzalez had been arrested by Virginia police in July 2014, he had several weapons and a White House map in his possession. In the days following the breach, a House committee holds a hearing to examine how the U.S. Secret Service failed to prevent the intrusion.

24 - For a second day, the US bombs in Syria, striking what President Obama describes as taking the fight to terrorists who threaten our people. A poll last week by Pew Research suggests bipartisan public support 63 percent in favor and 29 percent against. A common view is that ISIS has people who could come to the United States and do bad things – as they did on September 11, 2001, when security and intelligence agencies had been lax. Now those agencies are supposed to be capable, but the idea exists that rather than just defend our borders we have to take the fight abroad, not only by supporting allies in the Middle East but also with military action. And we have doubters. Among them, former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates recently said "... there will be boots on the ground if there's to be any hope of success in the strategy." James Carville, Democratic Party strategist wisecracked on Meet the Press: "Look, 13 years ago this October, we started bombing Muslims in the Middle East. We're still bombing them. Does any sane person think that 13 years from now, we're not going to still be bombing them?" From the public one can hear the complaint about the money spent on bombing. And one can hear it said that we have to support our allies and the good people in the Middle East. Referring to ISIS, President Obama suggests that it also an idea that we are fighting

30 - A study by scientists released today describes the world as having lost 52 percent of its biodiversity since 1970. Thirty-nine percent of terrestrial wildlife, 39 percent of marine wildlife, 76 percent of freshwater wildlife is described as gone. The decline has occurred in low-income countries. The World Wildlife Fund, who sponsored the study, claims that the world's human population is already too much for the land and sea available needed to produce the resources we rely on for food, fuel, building and other needs. Described by CBS News, the report adds that "the problem may get worse as more of the world adopts or aspires to the levels of consumption common in richer countries."

OCTOBER

01 - The first female director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, resigns just days after the House committee hearing examined how the U.S. Secret Service failed to prevent the intrusion into the White House last month and uncovered other lapses in security. Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson announces Pierson's resignation in a statement. He also announces that the Department of Homeland Security will do an internal inquiry of the Secret Service. Johnson says he will appoint a new panel to review security at the White House. Former special agent Joseph Clancy is named interim Secret Service director.

01 - Radovan Karadzic, accused of genocide by the World Court, says he takes "moral responsibility" for crimes committed by the Bosnian Serbs he was leading during the Srebrenica massacres in July 1995 – considered Europe's worst since World War Two. Karadzic was educated as a psychiatrist. He implies that he is a moral person but as leader was too tolerant and sloppy communicating with his subordinates..

02 - A second person in two days is being reported here as having taken of "full responsibility" – a phrase that has been losing meaning. Yesterday, Julia Pierson offered her resignation to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. On September 30 she appeared before a congressional committee and took full responsibility for security lapses regarding the presidency, and as if she might have been offering an excuse she said, "It's clear that our security plan was not properly executed." She is reported as failing to explain the poor communications from her office concerning how far an intruder had reached inside the White House or explaining poor communications within her agency.

09 - As the United States nears its November congressional elections, a Gallup poll reports 54% saying that Obamacare has not had an effect on their life, 27% saying it has hurt, and 16% saying it has helped. Only 4% of Republicans rate Obama Care as having helped them. Democrats who describe themselves as having been hurt are 15% and who describe no effect from Obamacare are 56%. For Independents, 27% are in the hurt category and 53 in the no effect category. The Huffington Post reports today that House Republicans are campaigning on an anti-Obamacare platform, that most of them are speaking up for repeal of the Obamacare law and only a few for its reform.

12 - The European Union and United States have been talking about their Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and removing a wide range of barriers to bilateral commerce. Demonstrations took place yesterday in Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. The demonstrators are concerned about foods from the United States entering their markets that don't have the restrictions that have existed in their country. What they consider lower standards, according to BBC News, includes "more genetically modified food, hormone treated beef and chicken meat that has been rinsed with chlorine."

20 - With smiles all around, the Ukraine and Russian presidents, Poroshenko and Putin, had a friendly meeting on the 17th to discuss the conflict in Ukraine's eastern regions, and they agreed on the price Ukraine will pay in buying gas from Russia. This morning sporadic shelling is reported in some areas of the Ukraine despite the truce declared on September 5. Russian troops have pulled back from the border and the Ukraine crisis on the world stage appears to be all but over but no firm settlement yet between Ukraine's central government and those in the Ukraine who want some kind of independence. Amnesty International reports that atrocities were committed on both sides of the war in the Ukraine. Nobody is talking any longer about Putin on his way into Poland or the Baltic states.

24 - In Ottawa two days ago a lone Canadian gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, shot and killed an unarmed soldier stationed at a war memorial and then he shot up parliament, killing no one before being killed. Born in Montreal, he was the son of an educated Canadian woman and a Libyan businessman father and described as having had "a very good upbringing." He had converted to Islam ten years ago and was struggling, working as a laborer and at various jobs and moving from place to place. In 2011 he was arrested for robbery and making threats. He wanted to stay in jail in order to be cleaned of his crack addiction. More recently he was asked to stop attending prayers at a mosque because elders found his behavior "erratic." He found a cause and wanted a passport to go to Syria. He had been in Ottawa since October 2, staying at a mission for the homeless and seen chanting and praying.

26 - Putin a couple of days ago in a 40-minute speech described as "groundless" the idea that Russia is trying "to reinstate some sort of empires and that it is encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbors." He blamed the West for the crisis in Ukraine and the United States for trying to impose a "unilatera diktat" on the rest of the world. "We did not start this," he said, and he described the US as trying to "remake the whole world" based on its own interests." He complained that US actions in Libya, Syria and Iraq have not strengthened peace and democracy.

29 - The San Francisco Giants defeat the Kansas City Royals in an eventful seven games to win their third World Series title in five years. In the final game of the series, the Giants beat the Royals 3-2 with relief help from 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner. Pitching on just two days' rest, Bumgarner shuts out the Royals, allowing only two hits in the final five innings. Bumgarner's World Series performance is record breaking and historic: 2-0 with a save and a 0.43 earned run average (E.R.A.) for 2014. Adding in his stats from two previous World Series appearances (2010, 2012) and his E.R.A. is 0.25, the best in World Series history, minimum 25 innings.

31 - A Virgin Galactic space plane, known as SpaceShipTwo, breaks apart over the Mojave Desert soon after takeoff. Co-pilot Michael Alsbury is killed. Pilot Peter Siebold parachutes out of the plane and survives. Later, during a news conference, investigators explain that the crash happened because the plane shifted too quickly into a mode designed to slow it down.

NOVEMBER

03 - More than 13 years since the twin towers were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, One World Trade Center opens for tenants in lower Manhattan. The new building is 1,776 feet high. Magazine publisher Condé Nast becomes the building's first tenant, occupying one third of the 104-story building.

03 - In Portland, Oregon, Brittany Maynard, 29, suffering from an aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma, says goodbye to all her dear friends and family and ends her life. Brittany, her husband and mother moved to Oregon to take advantage of that state's 1997 Death with Dignity Act. One argument against "Death with Dignity" claims that taking one's life is not a choice that God allows people. But among the hundreds of comments on Brittany Maynard this morning it is difficult to find one that complains that she should have waited to let the cancer kill her. Most cite her bravery and wish peace for her family. Physician-assisted suicide in the United States is legal also in Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico, and it is currently being debated in New Jersey.

04 - Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pleads no contest to the charge of misdemeanor reckless assault of a child in Texas. (Nov. 16): Drug Enforcement Administration agents make unannounced visits to multiple teams as part of an investigation on whether their medical staffs are mishandling prescription drugs. The investigation is due to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by former players that claims the NFL, its teams, medical staff, and trainers acted without regard for players' health by handing out prescription painkillers to hide the pain and maximize playing time. (Nov. 18): The NFL bands Peterson for the rest of the year, citing the league's new conduct policy, which calls for a six-game suspension for first time domestic abuse offenders. (Nov. 28): Judge Barbara Jones rules that the NFL and Commissioner Goodell had no new evidence in Sept. when they increased Ray Rice's suspension. Therefore, Rice wins his appeal and can be reinstated to the NFL. The league accepts Jones' decision, but it is unclear if a team will sign Rice.

04 - President Obama's disapproval rating is described by Gallop at 54%, his approval at 41%. Today is election day. Republican candidates have been hammering away at Obama and liberals. Big gun Republican intellecutual John Bolton tweets: "A vote for anyone other than a Republican candidate is a vote for Obama, Reid, and their failed liberal agenda." On yesterday's NewsHour, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell was shown describing Obama and company: "These people have run this country into the ground, and they need to be stopped." (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE.) He continued, "Who are these people? I can tell you the kind of folks they got down at the White House. They're all a bunch of college professors and community organizers. And they think they are smarter than all the rest of us. And they want to tell us how to live our lives. And starting Tuesday, we're pushing back against that kind of thing." (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE.)

05 - The Kingdom of Norway is named the most prosperous country in an annual ranking by Legatum Institute, and a World Bank report a couple of days ago listed Norway as the sixth best country in the world in which to run a business (with Singapore 1st and the US 7th).

16 - The G20 summit in Australia concludes its business, the nations at the gathering described by Linda Yueh of BBC News as representing 85% of the world's GDP. The summit issued a statement on climate change and Ebola. There was an agreement to fight tax evasion by sharing information. The G20 nations expressed a goal of increasing GDP an additional 2% in the coming four years and creating millions of jobs. Writes Yueh, "They also emphasized a commitment to poverty eradication and reducing inequality." She adds that her understanding is that private businesses will be targeted for investment funds in infrastructure. Yueh wonders about a lack of details for implementing goals and taxpayer willingness to fund these big summits conferences "that promise much but tend to deliver somewhat less." Putin left the summit early. He said it was "constructive" but that he needed sleep. He was seen on television happily shaking hands and chatting with David Cameron. With Ukraine in mind, President Obama is reported to have told Putin that it wasn't right for one country to invade another.

17 - LOS ANGELES — Sony Pictures Entertainment on Wednesday dropped plans for its Christmas Day release of “The Interview,” a movie that depicts the assassination of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after receiving a terror threat against theaters. Before that, the four largest theater chains in the United States said they would not show the movie, which has been at the center of a devastating hacking attack on Sony over the last several weeks. In a statement, Sony said: “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatergoers.”tes of.

18 - For the first time, Interpol (international police) is targeting individuals having committed crimes against wildlife. In October, Investigators from 21 countries gathered at Interpol's headquarters in France to share information on suspects. BBC News reports that "The public is being asked to provide information on the locations of nine fugitives suspected of serious environmental crimes." These crimes include illegal fishing, logging and wildlife trafficking.

21 - President Obama issues an executive order, creating immigration reform that Reuters News says would "let some 4.4 million who are parents of US citizens and legal permanent residents remain in the country temporarily, without the threat of deportation." The children of immigrants legal or otherwise born in the US or its territories are US citizens, and anyone of unknown parentage found in the US or its territories while under the age of five years also becomes a US citizen. The president's order applies to those who have been in the United States at last five years. Obama expresses frustration in waiting for Congress to act on the immigration issue. Republicans are claiming that the Constitution doesn't allow the president to act as Obama has.

26 - The Ferguson policeman who shot Michael Brown says he did his job right, as he was trained, that he has a clean conscience but that he is sorry about Brown's death. President Obama tells protesters they have no excuse to commit crimes, that nothing of benefit results from destructive acts. A protester in Ferguson passes on to a newsman the slogan "no justice, no peace" and says the destruction is necessary because without it nobody would be paying attention. We are sending a message, he says. According to published comments in the media, the rioters' message isn't being received in a way they have intended and, as Obama suggests, their rationale is politically naive.

29 - Demonstrations in Mexico have been massive enough to have been effective, and there is a responsive regime in power. Yesterday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a plan to put local police under federal control, a plan to change the country's constituion and allow its 1,800 municipal forces to be desolved and taken over by state agencies. Congress will be able to dissolve local governments infiltrated by drug gangs. Also a national system for tracking down disappeared persons and a nationwide database containing genetic information will be established.

DECEMBER

01 - Hollywood and entertainers are commonly portrayed as heroes because we see them every day on TV or as 'larger than life' figures on the big screen. But more often the heroes in America's digital age appear to be succumbing to scandals of all kinds - substance abuse, addiction, infidelity, or false identity. Though Bill Cosby, the American Dad who took our living rooms by surprise, has not been prosecuted, he is experiencing serious problems with credibility as at least 20 women are accusing the 'wholesome' comedian of sexual assault, rape and in one case child abuse (Judy Huth). Several brands have stopped associating with Cosby's style of comedy, although future dates beyond January may still be in place. Netflix, Tarrytown Theatre in New York, and Temple U, Cosby's alma mater have dissociated links with the actor.

04 - A cyber crime network is broken in Kenya. BBC News reports that the network was "run by 77 Chinese nationals from upmarket homes in the capital, Nairobi." Chinese officials are described as "shocked" and as cooperating with Kenyan authorities. (A Chinese presence in Kenya has been enhanced by Chinese companies involved in construction.) A fire brought the operation to the attention of Kenya's police. The police found computers linked to high-speed internet with "equipment capable of infiltrating bank accounts." Seventy-seven have been charged with being in the country illegally and operating radio equipment without permits. China has promised to send investigators to work with the Kenyans on the matter.

05 - Thousands of people have taken to the streets in New York and other US cities, disrupting traffic and holding sit-ins following a Grand Jury decision not to press charges against police regarding the death of Eric Garner in New York on 17 July. A spokesperson for the Grand Jury said Garner was speaking to the officers at the time of his resistance to arrest, indicating that he was breathing. Garner was pinned to the ground and able to breath enough to complain that he couldn't breathe. The medical examiner's office found that Garner's death was caused by "the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police." Some people are saying that the police were just doing their job, that there was no excessive brutality, that Eric Garner made a mistake in resisting arrest. They blame Garner's poor health and say the police usually hear protests when they restrain someone. Protesters complain that Garner was chocked to death, and they are calling for justice. Some signs read, "I can't breathe." One protester said, "People are sick and tired of the systemic problems of racism in this country." The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, announces that "people need to know that black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives." President Obama said, "Too many Americans feel deep unfairness when it comes to the gap between our professed ideals and how laws are applied on a day to day basis."

11 - The US Senate Intelligence Committee has released a report on torture that former Vice President Dick Cheney describes as "full of crap." The UN has called for the prosecution of US officials involved in the 2001-2007 program. Media and leaders across the world are expressing disapproval of the torture program: Germany, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea. The report shows the April 12, 2007 testimony by then CIA Director Michael Hayden to the Senate Intelligence committee that distorts the truth (made available in detail by the Washington Post, tweeted @fsmitha), and some are talking about CIA lies. The program and for what is being called enhanced interrogation is being defended as torture has always been defended: it produced useable information. The capture of bin Laden has been frequenty mentioned with the suggestion that the security of the United States was terribly threatened while bin Laden was holed up in his hiding place. Supporters of the program said it disrupted terrorist plots, prevented mass casualty attacks and saved American and Allied lives. The Senate report claims that President Bush was not fully aware of what was being done by the CIA interrogation team. Dick Cheney says Bush was "fully informed" about interrogation techniques.

16 - Congress on the 14th passed the spending bill for the next fiscal year. There will be no government shutdown, and the budget remains unbalanced. According to Forbes magazine, the Department of Defense garners more than half of the overall budget, with 10 percent of that amount "earmarked for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq." Obamacare is described as "a winner" because its 2014 level of funding wasn't cut. The Environmental Protection Agency had its budget reduced by $60 million. Staffing at that agency is described as already at its lowest level in twenty-five years. The National Institute of Health receives more money for research, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget is reduced. According to Forbes,"Just over a third of that budget allows 'for necessary expenses… to support taxpayer services and enforcement programs' which includes rents, postage and admin[istration]." The bill forbids the IRS from targeting "groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs." In today's Washington Post opinion writer Catherine Rampel complains that "For every dollar appropriated to the IRS in 2013, it collected $255... The agency's appropriations in the 2015 agreement are 17 percent below their 2010 level, after adjusting for inflation... Cuts to the IRS budget hurt compliance rates among taxpayers, both the dishonest and honest. Audits have slowed, and by many metrics, customer service quality has plummeted."

18 - In Cuba, people celebrating in the street and talking to the media appear happy about the beginning of normalized relations between their country and the United States. This came yesterday with simultaneous announcements by President Raul Castro and President Obama, with Pope Francis having given his blessing to the agreement. In the US, some think they know better than the Cuban people and want to continue to treat Cuba as an enemy. They speak of normalized relations as aiding dictatorship. Cuba has elections but is politically a one-party state like China, with considerable public support like China, but the anti-normalization camp dislikes comparisons with China, or with President Bush normalizing relations with Vietnam. The Republicans will have an opportunity to express opposition to Obama's policy on Cuba by voting against lifting the trade embargo imposed on Cuba during the Cold War, which can be lifted only by Congress. Cubans are describing the embargo as damaging their economy and hurting the Cuban people.

22 - Crude oil has fallen from $115 per barrel in June to around half that today. Russia, an oil exporter, is in distress. Gas at the pump in Ohio is below $2.00 per gallon. Saudi Arabia's Minister of Petroleum says that Saudi Arabia is not driving the price of oil down as part of a political agenda. Qatar's energy minister describes the fall as a "temporary correction." Speculator selling has been taking place, obviously, The fall according to the Saudi minister, as stated in The Arab News, is "mainly due to a supply glut, the weak global economy and a strong US dollar... The global oil market has become increasingly competitive in recent years with the surge in shale and sand oil production from countries outside the decades-old OPEC alliance."

22 - In Russia the ruble has dropped 45% against the US dollar since the first of 2014. Russians face rising prices – inflation. People are spending their money now on appliances and whatever they can before the ruble declines further. People have mortgaged their homes in dollars and now their rate of payment has nearly doubled. Businesses are in the same boat. Banks are in trouble. Lending has dried up. Money has been leaving the country. According to BBC News, "Russia's central bank has already tried unsuccessfully to stabilise the currency, buying roubles in the markets and raising its main lending rate to 10.5%." President Putin blames the economic crisis on the West conspiring to weaken Russia. He says that even if oil drops to $40 per barrel, Russia will manage and rebound in a couple of years.