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Hello Grassolites, welcome to Friday…*sigh* now I’m talking like Stephen Georg. Nah, screw that, let’s do an actual intro: “Hey everyone, this is Friday October 28th 2011.”

There, much better. Anyway, let’s move on with  the news.

Friday marks the last day of NCFC, I will not be attending today as I have a lot of work to do over the weekend so, enjoy the last day. If you haven’t already grabbed at least 1 game on the site, today is your  last chance to do so. I recommend Psycho Waluigi, Earthbound 3 (not to be confused with Mother 4), Battle Network Chrono X, and Xenofighters R. All of which are free and downloadable.

Off  to Sankaku we go…

Here’s Autumn’s  top 10 anime

1. Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

2. Fate/Zero

3. Working!!

4. Mirai Nikki

5. Guilty Crown

6. Ben-Tou

7. C3

8. Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere

9. Persona 4 The Animation

10. Un-Go

Not really surprised but here, have some comments.

The mid-season ranking of the fall 2011 season may well be the most utterly devoid of surprises yet, with otaku expectations seemingly well served.

Of the season favourites, only Persona 4 seems to have underperformed expectations.

Next up…

China’s Luckiest Driver: “Saved By Not Wearing Seatbelt”

Author: Artefact

Chinese are finally celebrating a happy tale from the chaos of their nation’s roads – the driver of this vehicle apparently somehow managed to survive the impact of a truckload of metal bars almost unscathed.

The incident unfolded in China’s Zhejiang province. The driver involved had no number plate, so upon seeing police he immediately tried to perform a U-turn in the middle of a busy road, at which point he collided with a taxi in the opposite lane.

After losing control of his vehicle he collided with a three wheeled truck carrying a cargo of steel frame, which shed its load into his windscreen.

Images can be seen via the link  in the title.

Moving on.

Hiroki Narimiya as Phoenix Wright – “No Objections!”

Author: Artefact

Almost unheard of for a game to movie adaptation, the online reaction is almost uniformly positive:

“No objection!”

“He looks just the part…”

“No objection, unexpectedly.”

“This verdict is quite the reverse!”

“I’ll watch it!”

“It won’t be this close, surely.”

“Ob-No objection!”

“I expect they can get someone to match the judge as well.”

“They really put some effort in then.”

The film is due to hit Japanese cinemas on February 11th, 2012.

Unexpectedly for a game-based film, the casting of Hiroki Narimiya as Phoenix Wright (Naruhodō Ryūichi) in the upcoming movie adaptation of Capcom’s Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban) series has been meeting with widespread approval online.

This aught to be good, a phoenix wright flick. Can’t wait to see the translators pick this up; Seems Jap-anons approve at least.

Republican Idol: 2012

Posted: 10/28/11 07:26 AM ET

Were it not for the struggling American economy, President Barack Obama would be in a commanding position in his campaign for re-election in 2012. But the current field of Republican presidential candidates is doing all they can to help President Obama win a second term.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has pretty much been the GOP frontrunner since he announced his candidacy. But Romney has been stuck at about 23% in national polls of those who say they are Republicans. The fact is that many conservatives don’t believe he is one of them because Romney has flip-flopped on several of their key issues, like abortion.

Just this week Romney sidestepped a question on whether he supported Republican Gov. John Kasich’s restrictions on public sector employee bargaining in Ohio. State polls show that the restrictions are overwhelmingly unpopular among Ohioans. One day later Romney clarified his position by saying he supported the initiative “110 percent.” But both Democrats and Republicans criticized Romney for his handling of the issue.

Texas Governor Rick Perry briefly shot past Romney when he declared his candidacy, but he crashed back to earth following a series of poor debate performances. In an effort to regain momentum, Perry announced a “flat tax” that, upon careful examination, benefits the rich at the expense of the middle class. He then raised questions about the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate, a move that has been denounced by many leading Republicans. Now the Perry campaign has suggested that he may not participate in some future Republican debates.

Businessman Herman Cain charmed the American public with his smooth and likeable style, whether on the campaign stump or in debates. He surged to the top of the polls after he announced his “9-9-9” plan as a “bold and simple” way to turn the economy around. When critics charged that his plan was regressive for low and middle income taxpayers, he then came up with the “9-0-9” plan. Some observers suggest he is making it up as he goes. Now his position on abortion has been attacked as too liberal. Meanwhile, Cain has not yet put together a serious campaign organization. Instead, he has been on a nationwide book tour.

Representative Michele Bachmann, leader of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, started strong but quickly sank in the polls. Now a tea party group is calling for her to end her presidential quest. A tea party executive told CNN, “I think it’s pretty obvious that Michele Bachmann is about Michele Bachmann.”

For the most part, the other Republican candidates have languished in the polls. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has been too centrist. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is too unpredictable. And former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has consistently trailed the others.

Meanwhile, President Obama has taken to the campaign trail to sell parts of his jobs bill that failed to pass Congress intact. He got some good news on Thursday when the House passed one small portion of that bill which would repeal a 3% withholding tax on payments the government makes to contractors. The president also got some encouraging economic growth numbers for the U.S. as Europe announced a major agreement to deal with their economic crisis.

With the 2012 election one year away, it is unlikely that the nation’s unemployment rate will significantly decline or that the economy will take off in the next twelve months. Despite his string of national security successes, President Obama will almost certainly be on the defensive during the fall campaign for his handling of the economy.

However, he is no doubt grateful to the Republicans for their brutal primary process. It has shown that the GOP is bereft of any good ideas to turn the economy around — other than cutting taxes for the rich and reducing entitlements. More importantly, it has exposed the enormous flaws each of the Republican candidates has, beginning with the serial flip-flopper, Mitt Romney. It is like the worst season of American Idol — call it Republican Idol.

President Barack Obama should be feeling a little better these days about his re-election chances in 2012.

It really is fun watching Reps squirm and lose it, but when Republican candidates are rooting for Obama as well, you know damn well he’s going to get past this hurdle, and I’m glad to see this.

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China could play key role in EU rescue

By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing and Richard Milne in London

China is very likely to contribute to the eurozone’s bail-out fund but the scope of its involvement will depend on European leaders satisfying some key conditions, two senior advisers to the Chinese government have told the Financial Times.

Any Chinese support would depend on contributions from other countries and Beijing must be given strong guarantees on the safety of its investment, according to Li Daokui, an academic member of China’s central bank monetary policy committee, and Yu Yongding, a former member of that committee.

Financial markets reacted with relief hours after a European deal was agreed at a summit aimed at calming the two-year-long sovereign debt crisis. The plan includes recapitalising European banks, making them accept a loss of 50 per cent on their holdings of Greek debt and boosting the firepower of the rescue fund, known as the European Financial Stability Facility.

The S&P 500, which rose 3.4 per cent, is on course for its best monthly gain since October 1974. The FTSE All World stock index gained 4.1 per cent, its best one-day rise since May 2010.

Bank stocks also increased sharply with the S&P financials index gaining 6.2 per cent, led by big commercial banks. The dollar slumped 1.6 per cent, its biggest one-day drop since May 2009, as the euro surged more than 2 per cent, above $1.42.

“It is in China’s long-term and intrinsic interest to help Europe because they are our biggest trading partner but the chief concern of the Chinese government is how to explain this decision to our own people,” said Professor Li. “The last thing China wants is to throw away the country’s wealth and be seen as just a source of dumb money.”

He added that Beijing might also ask European leaders to refrain from criticising China’s currency policy, a frequent source of tension with trade partners. The US argues that an intentionally undervalued renminbi unfairly supports Chinese exports.

In spite of discomfort among some Europeans about Chinese investment, the comments represented a fillip to eurozone leaders hours after a summit aimed at calming the two-year-long sovereign debt crisis.

With $3,200bn in foreign exchange reserves, roughly a quarter of which are believed to be held in euros, China could be willing to contribute between $50bn and $100bn to the EFSF or a new fund set up under its auspices in collaboration with the IMF, according to one person familiar with the thinking of the Chinese leadership.

“If conditions are right then something a bit above $100bn is not inconceivable,” this person said.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France welcomed the prospect of a Chinese contribution to the eurozone rescue package. “Our independence would not be put into question by this,” he said in a television interview. “Why would we not accept that the Chinese had confidence in the eurozone and place a part of their surpluses in our funds or our banks. Would you rather they placed it with the US?”

Klaus Regling, head of the EFSF, was due to arrive in Beijing late on Thursday for discussions with senior Chinese leaders on whether and how much China might contribute. President Sarkozy telephoned his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao a few hours after the summit ended to discuss the rescue plan but there was no immediate announcement on any Chinese involvement.

European leaders agreed that the EFSF would explore two plans to increase its remaining firepower from about €250bn to €1,000bn. One would be to offer investors insurance on selected government debt while the other would create a special fund in which countries such as China could invest.

One condition China might ask for is that its contribution be at least partly denominated in renminbi, which would protect its investment against currency fluctuations. China would buy euro-denominated bonds but repayments would compensate for any changes in the value of the renminbi, which has appreciated nearly 20 per cent against the euro in the past three years.

Reflecting the unease in Europe, the head of Germany’s industry association said he feared Chinese help could “come at some political cost”. Hans-Peter Keitel told the FT: “Asking a non-eurozone nation to help the euro would give the other nation the power to decide the fate of the single currency.”

The global focus on how China might contribute to the European rescue plan illustrates its increased influence on the world stage and many in Beijing believe this crisis presents an opportunity for it to display global citizenship and responsibility commensurate with its rising status.

Beijing’s main concern is how any contribution to a European bailout will be viewed domestically by an increasingly informed and critical populace.

“Any mis-steps in helping Europe could cause problems with domestic public opinion – the Chinese people will watch very carefully what their own government does,” Prof Yu said. “European leaders also must have a clear plan of what to do and they must show China they have the political will as well as the support of their own people; if we see protests and chaos all the time, then China won’t have confidence in Europe’s political ability.”

And here’s one more article about Obama wondering why he’s peaked at 44%.

“Considering the debacle that he came in with, the tough choices he’s made and how there have been few, if any breaks, he says it himself all the time,” Daley says. “He doesn’t know why he’s as high as 44 percent.”

That is supposed to be a laugh line, but, indeed, the RealClearPolitics average of leading polls currently has Obama at 44.0 percent approval and 50.7 percent disapproval.

That is due to many factors, Daley says, and he starts reeling them off: trying to stimulate the economy; trying to save the auto industry; trying to increase the debt ceiling; passing health care legislation; fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; and dealing with Syria, North Korea, Egypt and Iran. To name a few.

“It’s been a brutal three years,” he says. “It’s been a very, very difficult three years, an incredible three years. And we are doing all this under the overhang of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. F—k! It wasn’t like all this was happening in good times.”

But good times — well, better times — are possible before November 2012, Daley says. And all President Obama has to do to achieve this is make a startling end run around not just the Republicans but also the Democrats, in Congress.

All he has to do, Daley says, is operate in domestic affairs with the same speed, power and independence that he possesses in foreign and military affairs.

That’s all.

“On the domestic side, both Democrats and Republicans have really made it very difficult for the president to be anything like a chief executive,” Daley says. “This has led to a kind of frustration.”

The president’s solution? “Let’s figure out what we can do [without Congress] and push the envelope on some of these things,” Daley says.

Daley recognizes that there are three branches of government and the president leads only one of them, but now is the time for him to flex his muscles and show what he can do without the squabbling, ineffective — and far less popular than even he — Congress.

That’s our show for today, tune in Monday and we’ll have yet another stressful week where we try to attune ourselves to Zen; I will see you then.