Wednesday, January 2, 2013

House Passes Fiscal Cliff Deal

Late Tuesday night, less than twenty-four hours after the Senate passed the fiscal cliff bill, the House joined them.

With a final vote of 257 for and 167 against, the House voted to raise taxes without decreasing government spending.

172 Democrats and eighty-five Republicans voted yes on the bill, while sixteen Democrats and 151 Republicans voted no.

Under the bill, taxes will be increased for those earning more than four hundred thousand dollars a year.

Taxes will also go up for estates.

Jobless benefits for long term unemployed will be extended, for another year, while doctors will not see a lessening of payments they receive from medicare.

Energy efficient and renewable resource companies will also see tax breaks become available for them.

However, the bill did practically nothing to cut government spending, which Republicans had said they would not vote for anything that did not include cuts.

It is also worth noting that this deal is only good for two months, as by that time the fiscal cliff will be back upon the US.

13 Killed in Angolan Stampede

Thirteen people were killed New Years Eve, when a stampede occurred in Angola.

Thousands of people were trying to enter a stadium, for a religious gathering, in Luanda.

It is unclear what set off the stampede, but in the end one hundred and twenty were injured and thirteen were killed.

The National Firefighters Department is investigating, trying to determine what actually happened.

A very similar story happened in the Ivory Coast, the same night.

Seleka Rebels Agree to Peace Talks

After three weeks of marching on Bangui, the Seleka rebels have agreed to halt and hold peace talks.

Rebel forces had been seeking to remove President Francois Bozize from power, in the Central African Republic.

Their fast pace, seemed unstoppable, and foreign governments had been removing the staff of their embassies, to keep them safe.

But, on Wednesday, they announced acceptance of a cease fire that would include peace talks, which they hope to move towards the bringing of a new government.

Despite the Seleka's talks about a desire for peace, the real reason they stopped is that going further would have weakened them.

Troops from Cameroon, Chad, Congo Republic, and Gabon had joined CAR forces at the town of Damara, and were pledging to stop the rebels from pushing any further.

While Seleka forces were running right over the CAR military, the combined forces of the other countries may have been too much for them.

Seleka leaders say they may still put removing Bozize on the list of things that must happen before the talks occur.

Talks are to begin as early as January 10, in Libreville, Gabon.

Syrian Gas Station Attacked as UN Ups Death Toll to 60,000 in Civil War

Between thirty and seventy people were killed in Syria, when a government air strike hit a gas station.

According to witnesses the station had just received a load of fuel, bringing in long lines, when the strike hit.

The attack happened in the Mleiha district of Damascus, which til now had mostly avoided involvement in the war.

Mleiha had basically been a neutral area, which everyone had left alone, til now.

Attacks, like this, are becoming more common, as the regime seems desperate to end the civil war, but all the more lacking in how to legitimately do so.

Several areas of Damascus are the scene of heavy fighting, as are other cities, while most of the country side belongs to the rebels.

A study released by the UN Human Rights Council bumped the death toll, in Syria, up to over sixty thousand.

Previously, the UN had only listed the death count, in the twenty-two month conflict, at about forty-five thousand.

Missing From Idaho: Jennifer Miller, 17

Seventeen year old Jennifer Miller is missing from Chubbuck, Idaho.

She was last seen on the afternoon of December 26.

According to her family she has not been on her Facebook since then and her phone is turned off.

Police say they are following up several leads.

Jennifer is described as five foot six, one hundred and twenty pounds, with hair dyed black, and hazel eyes.

Anyone with information should call the Chubbuck Police Department at 208-237-7172.

Police reported her found safe, on January 25.

Review: Silver Linings Playbook

I don't know that I have ever seen a movie that was so honest in showing how messed up every day life can be. During it I laughed, I felt sad, I felt part of the character's stories. Not only was I involved in the main character's stories, but all of the character's stories mattered to me. By the time the movie was over, I was ready to add it to my list of all time favorites.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence were brilliant in this movie, and it's been awhile since I've seen such great acting. Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver gave amazing supporting roles. Really they all deserve Oscar nominations for this film. The writing team of Matthew Quick, novel, and David O. Russel, screenplay, deserves it as well.

Go watch this, or at least be sure you rent, redbox, netflix, or whatever you do, just see it. Let it open your eyes, make you think about life, and open your heart as well. Remember that nobody is perfect, it's our imperfections and how we deal with them, that make us amazing people. That's the silver lining. You will not regret the time spent watching this beautiful work.