A new law in Turkey is seeking to tame the spirit of the street markets. The wardens on patrol have a mandate to fine traders who “disturb the environment” or commit “verbal or genuine abuse” against prospective customers. The hollering and singing are as much a part of the centuries-old tradition of the covered-market bazaars as are the tomatoes and tea cups for sale. While the rules and fines have prompted some vendors to leave, many are ignoring them. Shoppers have mixed opinions. While toning down crude harassment by stall owners isn’t an unreasonable goal, one recent tomato-seeker described the suppression of shouting as an attack on “the soul of Istanbul.” The Justice and Development Party governing Turkey has proposed additional rules for the merchants that are expected to become law later this year. In this case, government interference in the marketplace is more than figurative.
Remember Barack Obama’s remark in 2008 about when human rights begin, before or after birth? He said the question was “above my pay grade.” We all know this was a copout and that Obama doesn’t believe human rights begin before birth. Then the man who won the 2008 presidential election said his views on gay marriage were “evolving.” Another copout. Either he was for it or against it. A day after the landslide victory in North Carolina of an amendment banning gay marriage, Obama said he likes gay marriage. This tale of two stances is typical of liberal Democrats who want to appear sympathetic without expressing outright support for an unpopular position. That’s what Bill Clinton did. He was among those campaigning against the North Carolina initiative. Obama was a no-show. At least Obama was consistently consistent in his opposition to the war in Iraq — unlike the previous Democratic nominee, who was for it until he was against it.
(May 8, 2012 AP File Photo)
The Latino vote could be key in November’s presidential election. If this demographic’s views at all mirror the sentiment in Latin American countries, President Barack Obama could be in trouble. Gallup reported this week that the percentage of Latin Americans believing the U.S.-Latin America relationship will strengthen under Obama has dropped from 43 percent in 2009 to 24 percent in 2011. Neighboring Mexico’s optimism was halved, from 43 to 19 percent. Obama’s job approval rating in the region has also declined in the same time frame, from 62 to 47 percent, with Mexico demonstrating the biggest fall among the 18 countries, from 62 to 31 percent. At this weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia, Gallup says Obama is “seeking to strengthen commercial ties, specifically in the energy sector.” Perhaps Canada will join us in our skepticism.
Western Hemisphere leaders will gather for the sixth Summit of the Americas this weekend at the Convention Center in Cartagena, Colombia. (AP Photo)
Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
As we celebrate the return of the 45th Infantry Brigade from Afghanistan and Kuwait, the leader of the Oklahoma National Guard offers his thoughts on their work. “Because of the 45th’s successes in southern and southeastern Afghanistan, the United States is another step closer to ensuring that terrorists will never again use that country as a staging base to attack us,” said Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, the adjutant general for Oklahoma. “The brigade was able to reduce the level of insurgent activities in multiple provinces and history will show they played a key role in setting the conditions that will give the Afghan people a chance to live better lives.” Oklahomans can be proud of and grateful for these men and women, who, as Deering put it, “answered the nation’s call, many of them for their second, third, or even fourth deployment to ensure that their friends and neighbors back here at home remain safe and secure.”
Canada is literally pinching pennies from its budget. The finance minister announced this week that the Royal Canadian Mint will cease distribution of the coin this fall. Producing a penny costs about 1.6 cents, so the change is expected to save 11 million Canadian dollars annually. As our northern neighbors eliminate a coin deemed a nuisance, our Congress is considering transitioning to a coin many consider inconvenient. Replacing the dollar bill with a dollar coin would supposedly help combat the deficit. The Americans for George coalition expresses concerns about the financial and practical implications of the change. A public opinion poll shows 97 percent believe the dollar bill is more convenient than carrying coins. The Government Accountability Office estimates over half a billion in net losses to the government during the first decade of the transition, and reports by the Federal Reserve Board and U.S. Treasury raise concerns that the long-term impact may also be negative. In the past 15 years, only one major country phased out a bill in favor of a coin: Russia. A penny for your thoughts?
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press)
Is anyone in charge at Major League Baseball? Someone figured it would be a great idea to begin the regular season by having the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s play two games this week in Japan — and then have them return to the states for a few preseason games before getting the real schedule under way again. No doubt MLB made a few bucks by taking the game, and Japanese hero Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, to baseball-crazy Japan. But otherwise the stunt was a flop. Playing games at the crack of dawn here? Please. The real Opening Day is Wednesday but even that has been butchered — one game is on the schedule, the St. Louis Cardinals visiting the Miami Marlins. The teams play not a series but just one game, then both go on the road. Ridiculous.
Right: Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki prepares for a batting practice during the team’s training for the season-opening game against Oakland Athletics, at Tokyo Dome ball stadium in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
What do cauliflower, a sewing machine and an open palm have in common? All could appear on the ballot in municipal polls in India’s capital next month. Including a symbol next to candidates’ names, representing their political party, dates to 1951, when fewer than one in five people in the newly independent country could read. Though a nice idea, the proliferation of registered parties has complicated matters. Major parties get permanent symbols, but hundreds of smaller ones must choose from an ever-expanding list of approved “free symbols” every election. Nail clippers, a toothbrush and a dish antenna are now up for grabs. Two state parties are battling not only over ideology or parliamentary seats but over a bicycle; the dispute may have to be resolved by drawing a name from a jar. So much for a system designed to provide clarity to voters. America has about as much fun as we can handle with the contest between elephant and donkey. Just imagine nearly 1,400 parties fighting over candidates, plus mascot selection.
Left: A man rides his cycle past elephant statues, political symbol of the Bahujan Samaj Party, at Ambedkar Park in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. (AP Photo)
AP File Photo
His supporters might see President Obama’s newfound love of hydrocarbons as a Nixon-in-China event. Hardly. Obama has no serious interest in upping domestic oil and gas production — other than getting him to what he hopes is a post-re-election frenzy for alternative fuels. If you want a real Nixon-in-China event, look to Washington State, where enough Republicans and conservative Democrats joined liberals to get a gay marriage bill passed. What really turned the page in Washington was key support from the business community. Large corporations have taken the lead on benefits for same-sex couples and are helping getting gay marriage laws enacted. Corporations may want lower taxes and reduced federal debt, but they can be quite progressive on social issues. They’re not the Great Wall of Reactionaries that the “Occupy” crowd claims.
Coming soon to a store near you: Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products with lower levels of carcinogens, thanks to changes in how the two companies make their caramel coloring. Consumers may have been imbibing carcinogens for decades? Apparently they still will be, just in under-the-radar doses. How reassuring! The companies, which comprise nearly 90 percent of the soda market, are making the change to avoid putting on a cancer warning label mandated by California law. Sodas sold in the Golden State already reflect the new recipe, with the rest of the country to follow in an effort to streamline manufacturing processes. A Coca-Cola spokesman said the change won’t affect the taste or color. But if you crave the old formula, hop across the pond to the Old World. Europe will continue to sell it, sans the cautionary label.
Heard the joke about the Chevy Volt? It was subjected to a battery of tests and all of them came out negative. The electric car, a darling of the fossil fuel-averse Obama administration, didn’t quite go the way of Solyndra, another administration flight of fancy, but it has been put in neutral. General Motors suspended sales after a rash of bad news over battery fires and slumping sales. Not to worry: America’s first plug-in vehicle is a hit in Europe, where it was recently named Car of the Year. “Battery-operated cars are electrifying environmentalists, progressives and award-givers,” noted the New York Daily News. “The only ones who aren’t juiced about them, it seems, are autobuyers.” The Volt is so politically correct that you can legally drive one solo on California freeway lanes restricted to cars with multiple passengers. Thus you can beat the fossil fuelers to any fire sales disposing of Solyndra’s assets.
NATE BEELER/THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER