Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Google Earth discloses the palaces in Bahrain

When Google Earth increased the resolution of its coverage of the Persian Gulf ("the Gulf" my friend from Saudi Arabia used to say), people in the island kingdom of Bahrain started learning what is behind the walls - huge palaces and villas that cover many acres, some that are larger than two or three neighboring villages, one that blocks fishermen from accessing the sea. The privileged demand the most of everything. The rest have little space to live in. So the government of Bahrain decided that the rich have the right of privacy, that peons can't look over the walls to see what they are being denied. In August they blocked access to Google Earth and demanded that GE stop showing the higher resolution photos of their country. Of course people found ways around simple access blocking. Mahmood reports:
... through Google Earth, the whole world, let alone the Bahraini users, can zoom in and have a good look at palaces and islands which a normal Bahraini wouldn’t even dream of one day coming close to, let alone stepping foot in, and the glaring confiscation of virtually all but 3% of beaches of the islands.
Mahnood also links to the method of getting around access blocking!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Philanthropy for Life - Thanks, Bill

I have often been disappointed to see people with huge fortunes dedicate those fortunes to death. David Packard, cofounder of Hewlett-Packard, left about $9 billion at his death. He instructed his heirs to spend most of it to fight the world population "problem." There are various methods to reduce the world's population, but they generally cause deaths. They promote abortion. They promote euthenasia. Family planning is sometimes benign birth control, but generally includes abortion. But I am very pleased to see that that Bill Gates is using his even huger fortune to extend lives. He is underwriting vaccination for 3d world children, malaria cures, vitamin-enriched rice which prevents blindness due to malnutrition that is affecting large numbers of children per year and more. He is spreading his money wide and deep, enabling infrastructure and research that will allow benefits for decades ahead. The Seattle Times today describes this in the parochially titled "Seattle moves to forefront in global fight to save lives" After some gee whiz talk about how people who recently pilgrimaged to the UN in Geneva or New York now come to Seattle, they get to the substance:
... more than $1 billion to individual researchers and institutions based in Seattle. The total includes $30 million to launch a Department of Global Health at the UW. With Gates funding, Seattle scientists are helping lead development of vaccines for malaria, AIDS, pneumonia and a host of other afflictions that ravage Africa, Asia and Latin America. Seattle-based programs are delivering insecticide-treated bed nets and new-generation malaria drugs to people in Zambia; distributing vaccines to rural clinics in Mozambique; and directing street theater in India with a safe-sex theme.
OK, there are a few strange things in the mix, but few.
But when Bill Gates Sr. began to scout around on behalf of his son's newly formed foundation, some of the first people he connected with were Dr. Gordon Perkin, PATH's founder, and Dr. William Foege, a Vashon Island resident who led smallpox eradication in the 1970s. A colleague at the elder Gates' law firm served on the board of SBRI. Both Perkin and Foege helped open the Gateses' eyes to the millions of deaths in the developing world that could be prevented with vaccines and drugs widely available in richer nations.
University of Washington bioengineering professor Paul Yager got a $15.4 million Gates grant by forming a consortium to develop a lab-on-a-card system to quickly diagnose diseases such as dengue and typhoid fever. Micronics, a Redmond firm that specializes in designing such systems, is part of the group. The company will have the right to market the devices but agreed to make them available at low cost in the developing world, said CEO Karen Hedine. In a partnership that initially raised doubts, PATH funneled money to GlaxoSmithKline to develop and test a malaria vaccine, said Melinda Moree, director of the PATH project. .... The Children's Vaccine Program, Gates' first megaproject administered by PATH, has immunized millions of youngsters against infectious diseases. Early successes in the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, also administered by PATH, have changed the minds of skeptics who said such drugs might never be possible. Exciting results in SBRI's malaria research hint at the possibility of even more powerful approaches in the future.
Thanks, Bill. Keep it up. Additional material: How the money is being used - map Measuring how clean water improves health in Nepal

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Economic Lessons from Europe

High Prices -- Lower Pay -- More Unemployed

France's government consumes more than 50% of their economy versus 35% in the US. Germany, Italy and other countries are almost as high as France. Massive government spending takes away personal options and forces dependence. And that reduces the incentives to work, save, invest and do things yourself. If you measure the difference in income you will prefer the US's results: "U.S. per capita output in 2003 was $39,700, almost 40 percent higher than the average of $28,700 for European nations." Walter Williams reports at Townhall on a study by Dr. Daniel Mitchell, research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, titled "Fiscal Policy Lessons from Europe."
Over the last decade, the U.S. economy has grown twice as fast as European economies. In 2006, European unemployment averaged 8 percent while the U.S. average was 4.7 percent. What's more, the percentage of Americans without a job for more than 12 months was 12.7 percent while in Europe it was 42.6 percent. Since 1970, 57 million new jobs were created in the U.S., and just 4 million were created in Europe. Dr. Mitchell cites a comparative study by Timbro, a Swedish think tank, showing that European countries rank with the poorest U.S. states in terms of living standards, roughly equal to Arkansas and Montana and only slightly ahead of West Virginia and Mississippi. Average living space in Europe is just under 1,000 square feet for the average household, while U.S. households enjoy an average of 1,875 square feet, and poor households 1,200 square feet.
And we can see where people choose to live and where they invest their money:
Some 400,000 European science and technology graduates live in the U.S. European migration to our country rose by 16 percent during the 1990s. In 1980, the Bureau of Economic Analysis put foreign direct investment in the U.S. at $127 billion. Today, it's more than $1.7 trillion. In 1980, there was $90 billion of foreign portfolio investment -- government and private securities -- in the U.S. Today, there's more than $4.6 trillion, much of it coming from Europeans who find our investment climate more attractive.
So do the countries of Europe make changes to increase growth and attract more investment. No. They attack their competitors with economic restrictions. Read it. Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of More Liberty Means Less Government: Our Founders Knew This Well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Atheism is the force behind mass murders

Religious causes have caused some wars and deaths. But the mega numbers belong to atheism. During the 20th Century Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Mao exceede 100 million deaths. And that number is just killing their own people. The wars they caused killed many more. But atheist of the 21st century see only religion as the cause. Dinesh D'Souza of Hoover Institute reports:
The problem with this critique is that it exaggerates the crimes attributed to religion, while ignoring the greater crimes of secular fanaticism. The best example of religious persecution in America is the Salem witch trials. How many people were killed in those trials? Thousands? Hundreds? Actually, fewer than 25. Yet the event still haunts the liberal imagination. It is strange to witness the passion with which some secular figures rail against the misdeeds of the Crusaders and Inquisitors more than 500 years ago. The number sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition appears to be about 10,000. Some historians contend that an additional 100,000 died in jail due to malnutrition or illness. These figures are tragic, and of course population levels were much lower at the time. But even so, they are minuscule compared with the death tolls produced by the atheist despotisms of the 20th century. In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people. Moreover, many of the conflicts that are counted as "religious wars" were not fought over religion. They were mainly fought over rival claims to territory and power.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

No oil peak for 25 years

There is one person who knows the situation of the world's oil reserves better than anyone. Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates rejects the "common knowledge" that "we are running out of oil right now." The world's oil production can continue to grow at least until it increases by 50% in 20 years. Bloomberg:
The world probably has 3.7 trillion barrels of oil left, more than twice the estimates of geologists and analysts such as Matthew Simmons, of the investment bank Simmons & Co., who argue global output is close to a peak, said Peter Jackson, director of oil-industry research for the Cambridge, Massachusetts, firm. ``The peak-oil theory causes confusion and can lead to inappropriate actions and turn attention away from the real issues,'' Jackson said in remarks prepared for a conference call today with analysts, investors and reporters. ``Oil is too critical to the global economy to allow fear to replace careful analysis about the very real challenges.''
When global crude output begins to fall around 2050, the decline probably will be gradual, giving policy makers, industry and energy producers time to develop new alternatives to petroleum-based fuels, the report said.
`Bursts of Growth' CERA's Jackson said today that ``bursts of growth are about to happen'' in oil production in Angola, Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the Saudi kingdom. Questions about the ``reliability'' of some Middle East reserve estimates don't negate the huge oil deposits those countries still have yet to tap, said Jackson, former chief geologist for Enterprise Oil Plc, which was acquired by Shell in 2002.
And this will give us time to develop alternate energy sources. After all, the earth of bombarded by energy from the Sun every day.
Untapped Reserves Refiners have used about 1.08 trillion barrels of crude since the birth of the petroleum industry in Pennsylvania in 1859, according to Cambridge Energy. Undiscovered fields probably hold 758 billion barrels, followed by 704 billion trapped inside a very hard type of rock known as shale, and 662 billion in the Middle East, according to the report. The rest of the firm's 3.7 trillion barrel total comes from untapped reserves in the deepest seas, the Arctic and places such as Canada's tar sands and Venezuela's Orinoco basin.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bad news: Smaller-world Elected Officials

Bad news for our economy. People who oppose economic growth were elected. And they didn't hide their backwardness. Jacob Weisberg reports at Slate: "The Lou Dobbs Democrats - Say hello to the new economic nationalists."
... we saw enough during the campaign to be alarmed about one tendency in particular: economic nationalism. Many of the Democrats who recaptured seats held by Republicans have been described as moderates or social conservatives, who will be out of synch with Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi. The better term, with props to Fareed Zakaria, is probably illiberal Democrats. Most of those who reclaimed Republican seats ran hard against free trade, globalization, and any sort of moderate immigration policy. That these Democrats won makes it likely that others will take up their reactionary call. Some of the newcomers may even be foolish enough to try to govern on the basis of their misguided theory. There is an important distinction to be made between economic populism and economic nationalism. Many of Tuesday's Democratic victors stressed familiar populist themes: the little guy against the big guy; corporate misbehavior; and tough times faced by working people. Al Gore ran in 2000 as an economic populist and so, implausibly, did John Kerry in 2004. Raising the minimum wage (which Republicans stupidly failed to do before the election) is a classic populist position. Opposing Bush tax cuts for the wealthy is another.
The distinction:
But in places where Democrats made their most-impressive inroads this year, one heard a distinctly different message of economic nationalism. Nationalism begins from the populist premise that working people aren't doing so well. But instead of blaming the rich at home, it focuses its energy on the poor abroad. The leading economic nationalist today is probably Lou Dobbs, who on nights other than Election Night natters on against free trade, outsourcing, globalization, and immigration on CNN.
We have more work than ever explaining that everyone wins with trade and economic freedom.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Busy and sick

Working the election - as a bottom-level poll judge - being sick, attending the Christian Musicians Summit and the wedding of special friends: took all my energy for the week. We lost and we aren't happy. I didn't think the people of the US would trust their defense to the Democratics. The Demos will not defend us. They even say so. They will pull out of Iraq and deploy our troops to Sri Lanka or some other quiet spot far from our problems. The Demos will not track the Islamic radicals who say they want to kill us. The Demos exposed our effective programs, which killed the programs. Let the terrorists enter and work together - their New York Times did it. When they get their policies in place and the attack occurs it will be George Bush's fault. The Demos call today's strong economy... actually this time they quit talking about it; it is too good for them the drag down. They always have in the past. All their talk of "bipartisanship" is talk. They cooperation with President Bush ended before it started. The Demo plan: Raise the taxes to slow the economy. Start new programs - expensive ones. Raise the national debt and blame Bush.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Australia getting ready for nuclear power

One way to reduce green-house gas emissions is to use nuclear power. Nuclear power, once the plant is built, is very cheap to operate. So let's get moving. Australia is, The Australian reports:
Australian Prime Minister John Howard's hand-picked nuclear energy taskforce will find that a nuclear industry could be commercially viable within 15 years, giving the green light to the Prime Minister to radically shake up Australia's energy market. Former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski's review will also find the cost of nuclear power should come down dramatically as more global powers invest in the technology and the cost of fossil fuels go up. Last night, Minister for Industry and Resources Ian Macfarlane said a 15-year timeframe was "very realistic", offering an optimistic assessment from the Howard Government on the way forward for nuclear power.
Good show. Get moving.

Iraq had Nuclear Capability - NY Times

The NY Times today revealed that Iraq had a nuclear development program that was gaining success.
Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990’s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.
Bush was right! Jim Geraghty at NRO has analysis:
When I saw the headline on Drudge earlier tonight, that the New York Times had a big story coming out tomorrow that had something to do with Iraq and WMDs, I was ready for an October November Surprise. Well, Drudge is giving us the scoop. And if it's meant to be a slam-Bush story, I think the Times team may have overthunk this...
Update: In 2002 Saddam Hussein's foreign minister told the International Atomic Energy A... that Hussein was aggressively developing nuclear weapons. Roy Robison has been following the translation of the documents captured in Iraq:
What to keep in mind when you read the NYT article. [quote follows] Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away. The Senate Prewar Intelligence Review Phase II report reveals that Saddam’s Foreign Minster told the US government that Saddam was trying to build a bomb. He said Saddam was trying to get uranium and was irate that his nuclear team was taking too long.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The character of George Soros

Soros, in an interview on 60 Minutes, says his character was developed when during World War II he got false identification and helped his false godfather with his official duties including confiscating property from Jews. Sweetness and Light has the transcript:
KROFT [interviewer]: (Voiceover) And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps. Mr. SOROS: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made.
KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson. Mr. SOROS: Yes. Yes. KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews. Mr. SOROS: Yes. That's right. Yes. KROFT: I mean, that's--that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult? Mr. SOROS: Not--not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't--you don't see the connection. But it was--it created no--no problem at all.
So we know more about Soros. He aided the Germans to steal property from Jews!! Via Doug Ross @ Journal Thomas Lifson at American Thinker

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Did John F Kerry mean what he said?

Here is what John F Kerry told college students Monday at Pasadena College:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Here is video of him saying the words. I think it is clear, since he was speaking to students at a college: you students, either study or you will be stuck in Iraq. But honorable Mr. Kerry says he was talking about President Bush? Huh? Bush got better grades at Yale than Kerry did. By his own reasoning it's Kerry who is stuck, since he got poorer grades. But Kerry's original statement is in line with what the Democrats are saying this year - Iraq is a loser for the Republicans - only poor schlubs would go into the military and serve to defend our country in Iraq. Are they all inviting Kerry to appear with them at campaign events this week? Surely they want to showcase him. Update: No, they are telling Kerry to stay away:
Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts canceled campaign appearances with Democratic congressional candidates in three states after members of his own party criticized his remarks about the Iraq war and U.S. troops. Kerry won't appear today in Mankato, Minnesota on behalf of Tim Walz, a Democrat challenging Republican Representative Gil Gutknecht. The decision to cancel ``ultimately'' was Kerry's, said Walz spokeswoman Meredith Salsbery. Bruce Braley, a Democrat running for Iowa's 1st Congressional seat, asked Kerry not to campaign with him tomorrow, the Quad-Cities Times reported. Braley thought Kerry's remarks suggesting people with less education ``get stuck in Iraq'' were inappropriate, the paper said, citing Braley spokesman Jeff Giertz Kerry also won't appear today in Philadelphia with U.S. Senate candidate Bob Casey, ABC News reported. Casey's race to unseat Republican Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania could be pivotal to Democrats' hopes to gain control of the Senate. In Montana, Jon Tester, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Senator Republican Senator Conrad Burns, also sought to distance himself from Kerry.
Via Lucianne.com.