Monday, December 31, 2007

MRC's quote of the year

Media research Council watches the lame-stream press. Their press quotes of the year list is led by this:

"As violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinch."

- Headline over a McClatchy News Service story by Jay Price and Qasim Zein

Foreign policy wish list for 2008

Thomas PM Barnett is a great strategic thinker. His wish list for 2008 at Knoxville News includes:
10. Continued frustration for Hugo Chavez. His presidency for life derailed by voters smart enough to see the writing on the wall, Chavez will become more nakedly aggressive in his quest for an oil-fueled dictatorship. Meanwhile, Venezuela's oil production drops for lack of foreign investment just as all eyes turn to Brazil's substantial offshore oil discovery. [Real smart, isn't he?] 9. Less hyperbole on global warming. Al Gore did a world of good, but the bandwagoning here is getting bizarre, with every current disaster and future war now attributed to CO2's rise. We sit atop a runaway global economy that needs taming but without damaging its proven ability to reduce global poverty. Terrorism hasn't produced a 1930s-like crash. It would be truly tragic if our fears of a warmer planet did so instead.
Well, he couldn't blame Albert Gore, Jr., for what the Goreacle is doing today, could he? Those are the lower ones. Pretty good.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christians fleeing Hindus in India

Hindus have been attacking Christians in Orissa state (east on Bay of Bengal) in India. So Christians have been fleeing to refugee camps. Edmonton Sun .

Friday, December 28, 2007

ON the Road II

Great adventure in southern Oregon. Thursday we intended to drive to Mt. Shasta, California. But as we approached the Siskiyou Mountains, passing Medford, Oregon, signs said chains were required and the sun had set. Putting chains on is no fun and we didn't want to do it in the dark. BTW we drove 430 miles in rain and sometimes snow. So we found room at the Shiloh Inn in Medford - nice and reasonable, but not fancy - to tackle the mountains in the morning. Friday we gave thought to driving to the coast via a pass of 1500 feet rather than 4300 feet. Good news - we found chains were only required for large trucks and cars pulling trailers. So we continued over the Siskiyous. Dirty, but not bad. We made it to the hostel in SFO by 3 pm. Driving first in rain, then fog, then overcast all the way. Hostels International have a hostel at a very unique location - Fort Mason. Look at the photos at the link. 3 blocks from the end of the cable car line at Fisherman's Wharf in a park, essentially, of old federal buildings. Very quiet in the midst of the bustle of the city. Atop the cliff dropping to the Bay.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Freedom for Cuba will damage environment

The New York Times roots for the continued enslavement of the people of Cuba, Babalu Blog reports. Investors Business Daily points it out.
The New York Times blubbers about how Cuba's environment will suffer in a post-U.S. embargo era of increased tourism. Better to preserve a "priceless ecological resource" than to free people from oppression. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to take the environmental movement, and science and environmental reporters, seriously because of stories such as the Christmas Day hand-wringer "Conserving Cuba, After the Embargo."

On the road

We are driving to Mt. Shasta, the town, today. Snow is expected - 100 % chance. San Francisco to see the Sea Lions. Antioch, California

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Land stolen in Cuba, now in Venezuela

Their land was taken from them by force in 1960 in Cuba. Their land was taken from them by force in Venezuela this year! Miami Herald

Tsunami aid spent on leftist causes

When you donated to relief for the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean it was for rebuilding homes, schools and infrastructure. Right? Bad news from The Australian:
THREE years after Australians donated $400 million to rebuild Asian lives devastated by the 2004 tsunami, aid groups are under attack for spending much of the money on social and political engineering. A survey by The Australian of the contributions by non-government organisations to the relief effort found the donations had been spent on politically correct projects promoting left-wing Western values over traditional Asian culture. The activities - listed as tsunami relief - include a "travelling Oxfam gender justice show" in Indonesia to change rural male attitudes towards women. Another Oxfam project, reminiscent of the ACTU's Your Rights at Work campaign, instructs Thai workers in Australian-style industrial activism and encourages them to set up trade unions. A World Vision tsunami relief project in the Indonesian province of Aceh includes a lobbying campaign to advance land reform to promote gender equity, as well as educating women in "democratic processes" and encouraging them to enter politics. Also in Aceh, the Catholic aid group Caritas funds an Islamic learning centre to promote "the importance of the Koran". This is seen as recognition of the importance of Islam in a province that has been the scene of a long-running and bloody independence struggle against the secular central Government.
And there was at least one person who foresaw the problem. Don D'Cruz of the Institute of Public Affairs (check it out) in Australia:
One critic, Don D'Cruz, wrote at the outset of the relief operation that Indonesian claims of "foreign interference" through Australian NGOs were too often brushed aside. Mr D'Cruz, then a research fellow with the right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, wrote "it would be a mistake to ignore the substance of these claims, especially when it comes to the activities of Western aid groups operating in Indonesia. The trend among aid organisations has been to become more involved in politics, although this activism has been largely masked." Going beyond humanitarian and development aid, he wrote, risked alienating Asian governments, which could deny access.

Bush had a very good year

President Bush has better poll ratings than the Democratic Congress. But it's better than that. The Iraq situation has improved greatly; the "surge" has worked. The economy is still strong, despite the sub-prime melt down. It looks like the economy will grow by 3% in 2007 with inflation only 2.5%. Jobs are being added at 100,000 per week. People are spending. And President Bush and the Senate Republicans limited the Democrats' big plans to raise taxes and spend even more. He won on S-CHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) and the alternative minimum tax. And the Democrats voted something like 60 times to lose the Iraq war now, but lost every time. Larry Kudlow summarizes at the Washington Times.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Reagan's war

There is a movie about a victory in the Cold War that we aided - the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan. President Reagan's aid Fred Ikle and CIA Director William Casey put it together - aid to the Afghan resistance - for Reagan. Democrat Charlie Wilson gave important support. But Reagan gave the orders, not Wilson. Don't expect a movie from Hollywood about Reagan's victories. They have to put a third-level Democrat on top. Investor's Business Daily puts "Charlie Wilson's War" in its place.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Real science versus virtuous science

Michael Duffy was a member of Greenpeace. Being an analytical person he started asking where they got their alarming statistics. The source was a distinguished Harvard professor. But on further inspection the only conclusion was that the distinguished professor was just making things up. Sydney Morning Herald Australia When I was a member of Greenpeace in the 1980s I received a request for money supported by the claim that about 30,000 species each year were becoming extinct. Until then I'd been an unsceptical environmentalist, but this sounded like an awful lot, so I called Greenpeace to ask how they knew. I made several queries but they didn't seem very interested. Finally they told me they didn't know where the figure came from, and I resigned from the organisation. I later found the figure almost certainly came from the work of the biologist Edward Wilson, originally an expert on ants... Based on this and his invention of the concept of "biodiversity", he later announced the world was experiencing "one of the great extinction spasms of geological history" and losing up to 100,000 species a year. Wilson's claims are one of the mainstays of the modern environmental movement, and a foundation of government environmental policies around the globe. This experience with Greenpeace gave me a long-running interest in the way much environmental science involves mathematical formulas or computer models. The most famous recent examples of these are the "general circulation models" used to produce predictions of future climatic conditions. An important book has just been published by an Australian academic that raises the question of whether this should be regarded as science at all. The book is Science And Public Policy (Edward Elgar Publishing), and the author is Professor Aynsley Kellow, the head of the school of government at the University of Tasmania. Kellow believes that environmental science has often been corrupted by the good intentions of its practitioners, so that it consists of wishful thinking rather than facts and provable theories. Perhaps the first big case of this was the notorious Limits To Growth study published by the Club of Rome in 1972, based on computer modelling and subsequently disproved. One might expect the quality of models to improve, but since then they have been used for all sorts of predictions, and there is little evidence they have got much better. Despite this, the predictions made by such models are now contained in scientific papers published in leading journals, Science and Public Policy by Prof. Aynsley Kellow At Amazon. Cost is $110.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Global Warming - Slow the US

It looks like many countries of the world want to impede the US so they can compete with us. A new tool - global warming - has been found. Say you want to save the earth, then write regulations that disproportionately hit the US. Pete DuPont reports on the United Nations' recent Bali conference.
Fast forward to the just-concluded global environment conference in Bali, and the discussion had much the same theme. On the surface it was about global warming, but in reality it was as much about mandating an international agreement that would slow economic growth in developed nations. ... China is vastly expanding its factories and power plants--it is building another coal-fired power plant every seven to 10 days--and so opposed emission targets that would bind it. As the New York Times reported a year ago, China now "uses more coal than the United States, the European Union and Japan combined," and so "the increase in global warming gases from China's coal use will probably exceed that for all industrialized countries combined over the next 25 years." China is already home to 20 of the world's 30 most polluted cities, but Su Wei, China's top climate expert in Bali, said the burden of reducing global warming pollution is one that belongs to the wealthy, not China
It is evident. Use the majority of small countries and dictatorships in the UN to gang up on the US. "To save the planet."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The secularists are irrational

Who is irrational? Religious people, everyone says. No, the secularists are much worse. Much. Dennis Prager takes on Richard Cohen of the New York Times
At least in my lifetime, it is the secular left that has embraced far more irrationality than the religious right. It was people on the secular left, not anyone on the religious right, who found Marxism, one of the most irrational doctrines in history, rational. [sic] It was only on the secular left that people morally equated the United States and the Soviet Union. It was secular leftists, not religious Jews or Christians, who believed the irrational nonsense that men and women were basically the same. It is overwhelmingly among the secular (and religious) left that people have bought into the myriad irrational hysterias of my lifetime — without zero population growth humanity will begin to starve, huge mortality rates in America from heterosexual AIDS, mass death caused by secondhand smoke, and now destruction of the planet by man-induced global warming. It is extremely revealing that with regard to global warming scenarios of man-induced doom, the world's most powerful religious figure, Pope Benedict XVI, has just warned against accepting political dogma in the guise of science. We'll see who turns out to be more rational on this issue — the secular left or the religious right. I bet everything on the religious.
He does a great job. Read it.

Clean power for environment improvement

Who killed Kyoto? Its creators. They focused on measures that must cut growth. We are finding ways to cut greenhouse emissions through alternative energy sources, but too slowly. The targets set require ending growth and shrinking our standards of living. No one will put up with lower standards of living. Not even the environmentalists who are happy to cut back everyone, but not themselves ( with very few exceptions). Bruce Anderson in the Independent of the UK says let's take a positive approach - focus on clean energy sources.
There were always two problems with Kyoto. It was far too influenced by the Greenpeace-style excesses of mid-90s environmentalism and it did not include America. At that stage, the anti-nuclear power movement was at its most powerful in both the US and Europe. Since then it has lost ground, largely because governments have had to think through the consequences of reducing carbon emissions and the real-world alternatives to fossil fuels. In those days, however, a major US nuclear power programme would have been impossible. As a result, there was the worst possible stalemate. The Green Movement, though incapable of persuading Americans to consume less energy, did succeed in cutting off new energy sources, whether nuclear plants or offshore oil drilling. ... That is where the post-Bali negotiators must do better. What is needed is a fundamental change of emphasis. Instead of focusing on carbon reductions, much more attention should be given to the increased use of clean energy. Over the next dozen years, the Indian and Chinese economies might well double in size. Nothing ever seems to stop the US economy from growing. Europe desperately needs higher growth rates. So does Japan; so, above all, does the poor world. Growth depends on energy. It might be possible to use emotional blackmail to persuade some Western countries to cut their growth rates. That will not work in India and China. Whatever Mr Gore now says, it is unlikely to work in the US and it ought not to work in the poor world. Higher energy consumption is vitally important and there are only two ways of achieving it: fossil fuels or nuclear power. Although carbon capture and other technologies to ensure a cleaner burn could make it possible to increase fossil fuel use without grave consequences, there is only one answer to the problem of clean energy. Everyone who cares about the environment should agitate in favour of a greatly increased global nuclear power programme.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Colombia recovers - Tourism is back

The South American country Colombia suffered at the hands of the narco-drug lords for over 20 years. One foolish president allowed them complete control over a large area, assuming they would be satisfied, but - surprise - they just wanted more. But 5 years ago new president Alvaro Uribe took a new direction and turned the country around. Now the fruit is showing. Tourism has returned. The BBC reports:
Colombia's tourism industry is now awakening fast, and turning the country into a new hot-spot for travellers. In historical Cartagena, Colombia's crown jewel on the Caribbean, business is booming. Around the old city, handicraft shop-owners, jewellers and coachmen are more boisterous than ever. Cruise ships have resumed docking in the colonial port, sending a clear signal abroad that, while there is still a great deal of violence in the country, parts of it are safe enough to visit. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has returned to Cartagena after a 5 year absence. "The number of tourists has clearly grown over the last couple of years and that's all to do with improved security", says Luis Caballero an emerald trader who owns a business in the heart of the city. Overall foreign tourist visits to Colombia are expected to be up from half a million four years ago to 1.3 million for 2007. The country is currently receiving more than $2bn (£967,000) of foreign exchange through tourism. Andrés Delgado and Erika Bruges, a couple who run eco-tours in La Guajira, an indigenous region in the north, say President Alvaro Uribe's policies have made all the difference. "Travelling is now safe in wide swathes of the country."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Climate models can't predict the past

How can they predict the future weather if they can't predict what can be verified - the past weather? 22 climate models were tested using data from the past 25 years to see how well they predicted the weather that now is in the past. They all failed. EurekAlert
A new study comparing the composite output of 22 leading global climate models with actual climate data finds that the models do an unsatisfactory job of mimicking climate change in key portions of the atmosphere. This research, published on-line Wednesday in the Royal Meteorological Society’s International Journal of Climatology*, raises new concerns about the reliability of models used to forecast global warming. “The usual discussion is whether the climate model forecasts of Earth’s climate 100 years or so into the future are realistic,” said the lead author, Dr. David H. Douglass from the University of Rochester. “Here we have something more fundamental: Can the models accurately explain the climate from the recent past? “It seems that the answer is no.”
And guess which way they erred. To please Albert Gore, Jr.
The models predicted that the lower atmosphere should warm significantly more than it actually did. “Models are very consistent in forecasting a significant difference between climate trends at the surface and in the troposphere, the layer of atmosphere between the surface and the stratosphere,” said Dr. John Christy, director of UAH's Earth System Science Center. “The models forecast that the troposphere should be warming more than the surface and that this trend should be especially pronounced in the tropics.
“When we look at actual climate data, however, we do not see accelerated warming in the tropical troposphere. Instead, the lower and middle atmosphere are warming the same or less than the surface. For those layers of the atmosphere, the warming trend we see in the tropics is typically less than half of what the models forecast.” The 22 climate models used in this study are the same models used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), which recently shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. The atmospheric temperature data were from two versions of data collected by sensors aboard NOAA satellites since late 1979, plus several sets of temperature data gathered twice a day at dozens of points in the tropics by thermometers carried into the atmosphere by helium balloons. The surface data were from three datasets. After years of rigorous analysis and testing, the high degree of agreement between the various atmospheric data sets gives an equally high level of confidence in the basic accuracy of the climate data.
Via American Thinker

Saturday, December 15, 2007

US got strengthened climate agreement at Bali

Don't believe the news media saying the Bush administration caved at the United Nations climate conference in Bali, Indonesia on Saturday Dec. 15. Bush won. Bush got the agreement strengthened to no longer exempt China and India from the goals. The big development growth is in those developing nations. It makes no sense to exclude them like the Kyoto agreement did. Again, it's a victory for Bush and the United States. Newsbusters finds the straightest coverage at Time Magazine.
The two sides still have different responsibilities, with developed nations ready to take on more quantifiable emissions cuts, and developing nations preparing to take on less specific national actions, but no country is left behind. That matters because the majority of future carbon emissions will come from the developing world, and no climate deal can work without the participation of China and India. "The developing nations of the South are on the same road as the North," says Peter Goldmark, director for the climate and air program for Environmental Defense. "They're using the same roadmap." Bringing the developing nations on board made it possible for the U.S. to join.
The eco-fear mongers didn't get the tough limits they wanted. The Bali roadmap contains no specific commitments or figures on the emissions reductions that developed countries will need to take, beyond language that "deep cuts" will be needed. Earlier in the week the EU fought hard to include a specific target of 25 to 40% cuts for developed nations by 2020, and a need to halve global emissions - two figures cited by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) latest assessment of global warming science. Neither made it into the final text, thanks largely to determined opposition from the U.S., although a footnote points to the IPCC report. For environmentalists who had hoped that the recent avalanche of data underscoring the rising crisis of climate change might prompt tougher action, Bali was a disappointment. "It was a rather weak deal," said Meena Rahman, chair of Friends of the Earth International. "It's compromised." Noel Sheppard at NewBusters has the good news:
In the end, as press outlet after press outlet will report in the coming days that the Bush administration gave in to international demands at Bali concerning global warming, the truth is that much like at the G-8, the White House got exactly what it wanted from this conference, and the alarmists got virtually nothing. In fact, once again, the Administration demonstrated its diplomatic aplomb concerning this matter, a skill media can't possibly acknowledge.

Friday, December 14, 2007

One hundred scientists vs. Albert Gore, Jr. Update - Shame

On hundred scientists, mostly PhD, also MS and MD, wrote to the United Nations:
Re: UN climate conference taking the World in entirely the wrong direction It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages. Geological, archaeological, oral and written histories all attest to the dramatic challenges posed to past societies from unanticipated changes in temperature, precipitation, winds and other climatic variables. We therefore need to equip nations to become resilient to the full range of these natural phenomena by promoting economic growth and wealth generation.
The science is still being ignored. The politician, Prince Albert, has control of the strings of the UN's scientists. At Science and Public Update: Albert Gore is ashamed of us. We are ashamed of Albert Gore, Jr., that he would take a domestic dispute to an international conference. Actually he shames himself with such juvenile moves. Newsbusters:
... United States citizens on both sides of the political aisle should be deeply embarrassed and ashamed about the disgraceful things former Vice President Al Gore said Thursday at the United Nations' climate change meeting in Bali. It's one thing to make a movie based almost exclusively on junk science and well-documented falsehoods whilst traveling the world evoking hysteria you yourself are financially benefiting from. However, it is something else altogether to attend an international meeting, with delegates from every country on the face of the planet present, and disparage the nation you used to serve.

Education committee to be led by homeschooler

In South Carolina the state board of education elected Kristin Maguire, of Clemson, to be its president for the next year. She is widely regarded to be a well informed leader. But she homeschools her four daughters!! The State

Monday, December 10, 2007

Former nuclear protester boosts nuclear power

Gwyneth Cravens says only nuclear power can provide the power we need without dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Thirty years ago she was an anti-nuclear-power protester. She states her case in her new book Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy. Wired Magazine:
In her book, Cravens is guided Dante-like through the entire life cycle of nuclear power -- from mining to production to waste disposal -- by one of the world's foremost experts on risk assessment and nuclear waste. Her conclusion? Every day spent burning coal for power translates into damaged lungs and ecosystem destruction. If the world wants to keep plugging in big-screen TVs and iPods, it needs a steady source of power. Wind and solar can't produce the "base-load" (or everyday) steady supply needed, and the only realistic -- and safe -- alternative is nuclear. Wired News talked with Cravens on the phone from her home in New York. Wired News: You don't argue that nuclear power is entirely safe, but that it's vastly better than coal and fossil fuels. Do we have to choose between them? Gwyneth Cravens: I used to think we surely could do better. We could have more wind farms and solar. But I then learned about base-load energy, and that there are three forms of it: fossil fuels, hydro and nuclear. In the United States, we're maxed out on hydro. That leaves fossil fuels and nuclear power, and most of the fossil fuel burned is coal. In the U.S., 24,000 people a year die from coal pollution. Hundreds of thousands more people suffer from lung and heart disease directly attributable to coal pollution.
This appears to be her blog at Huffington Post, but it has only one entry.

Chavez fixed election even in loss

Hugo Chavez, the elected president of Venezuela who has subverted the constitution to seize near-total power, lost the election on the measure to give him more power a week ago. Many people are saying the election loss is proof he respects elections. Not so, says Newsweek. The loss was reported as close 51 to 49 per cent. But it wasn't. Chavez lost big. He tried to overturn the results. Surprise! But the military threatened him with a coup if he did. He conceded on the condition that the result be reported as very close to save face for him. Why didn't he demand a recount in this close elections? That does lend credence to what Newsweek forwards from El Nacional.
... by midweek enough information had emerged to conclude that Chávez did, in fact, try to overturn the results. As reported in El Nacional, and confirmed to me by an intelligence source, the Venezuelan military high command virtually threatened him with a coup d'état if he insisted on doing so. Finally, after a late-night phone call from Raúl Isaías Baduel, a budding opposition leader and former Chávez comrade in arms, the president conceded—but with one condition: he demanded his margin of defeat be reduced to a bare minimum in official tallies, so he could save face and appear as a magnanimous democrat in the eyes of the world. So after this purportedly narrow loss Chávez did not even request a recount

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Retailers faster than local governments

Retailers are acting quickly while local governments struggle to act. The large retailers move massive amounts of goods every day. So when a storm strikes they can adjust what they are doing and get needed supplies to the area of need. On the other hand, local governments are understandably slow to do what they seldom do - to move needed supplies to the area of need. Large retailers Wal-Mart and Home Depot have meteorologists who monitor the weather developments and strike teams that quickly move from their normal assignments to aid in special situations. Oregon Live reports:
Behind a computer in Bentonville, Ark., Lucas McDonald, meteorologist for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., tracked the weather and notified colleagues that Oregon and Washington stores could lose power and the retailer should consider alternative truck routes. McDonald's counterpart at Home Depot Inc. -- Jim Schortal, the retailer's director of crisis management -- coordinated more than a dozen recovery workers, from hazardous-material cleanup crews to structural safety assessors, to Portland. From his Atlanta office, he also summoned trucks as far as Nebraska and Texas to hightail it west with extra batteries, flashlights, heaters and generators.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Australia reverses recent Kyoto commitment

Australia is one of the countries that has refused to sign the Kyoto treaty committing to a severe cut back in the greenhouse gas emissions. Like the US. But they elected a new liberal prime minister two weeks ago. New Prime Minister Kevin Rudd immediately announced that his government would join the enlightened and sign. He sent 4 or 5 cabinet-level ministers to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali this week. They stated Australia's new commitment to reduce emissions below the 1990 level by 25-40 per cent by 2020. Then Rudd took it back. Took it back? Yes. The electric-generation companies told him that this cut back would increase electricity costs more than 20 per cent because the green technology won't be available for another 10 years. The Herald-Sun reports:
"You are dependent on yet-to-be delivered technology," he said. "The community needs to be aware cuts of this magnitude will come at considerable cost and it's difficult to know how exactly it will be delivered."
Talk is cheap. They counted the cost and backed down. Wise. My guess is that they also looked at what the countries that signed Kyoto have done. Most of them have increased CO2 levels, while the US has reduced ours. The US attained "1.3 percent decline in the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide released in 2006 from energy-related sources." Versus "German emissions rose 0.6% while overall EU emissions went up by 1%-1.5% because of resumed growth in the eurozone." Again, talk is cheap. The Europeans are talking, but not acting.

Remember The Day that Lives in Infamy - the Pearl Harbor attack

December 7, 1941, US territory was attacked. We lived for 18 months on a ridge in Aiea, Hawaii, in sight of the Arizona Memorial. Here is an attempt to include the same view, but higher, in Google Earth. <later> I worked for two years at Hickam Air Force Base in a building that was damaged - and many men died while eating breakfast. Some of the damage can still be seen. It will never be repaired, so we can remember US territory was attacked. Imperial Japan thought the Americans would crumble if attacked. Wrong. Rick Moran at American Thinker remembers the men who died and those who survived that attack.
They are old and bent now, survivors of a storm that swept America into the maelstrom of World War II. For those who lived through the attack on Pearl Harbor 66 years ago today, the memories are still fresh, the terror constantly relived as they recall lost comrades and shipmates. They are few in number. Last year, 500 of them gathered at the Arizona Memorial to honor the fallen and bask in the warmth of friendships renewed - perhaps for the last time. The Veterans Administration tells us that we are losing around 18 of these heroes every month so that by the time the 70th anniversary rolls around in 2011, only a handful will be at Pearl Harbor to represent the more than 2000 Americans who lost their lives that day.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Getting it wrong - South Africa

South Africa has long been a star of Africa, but it's falling; indeed, it has fallen. It is rich in natural resources, but it has become a poor place to invest. A ranking of investment safely in 32 resource-rich countries places South Africa 18th, behind African countries Zambia, Tanzania, Mauritania, Ghana, Botswana and Namibia (which is 2d). Fallen from leadership in investment opportunties, SA is now high in violent crime, unemployment, poverty, and HIV/AIDS infection rates. The fall has been steady since democracy was attained in 1995. What did they do? This article doesn't dig into the reasons; it's time for research. It just shows the statistics that document the situation. I do know that the father of modern South Africa, Nelson Mandela, is widely reported to be a committed Communist. Moneyweb in SA

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Monitor your teenage driver

You let your 17-year-old have the car. "You can only go to A and B, absolutely not to C." She says she will strictly obey. But does she? Now you don't have to be an electronics expert to install GPS monitoring in the car your teen drives. Wall Street Journal (link might cost)
Some of these systems use GPS devices to gather and transmit information about the vehicle's location and speed. Other systems offer speed, location, braking and other data, plus video of the driver and passengers. All of them speak directly to parents' fears about their kids' shaky judgment behind the wheel. These fears are well founded based on the statistics about teen drivers and accidents.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Trade agreement with Peru approved

The US Congress has approved a trade agreement with Peru. People in both countries will benefit. Trade allows the best allocation of resources - material, human and financial - which allows more production of higher quality goods and services. NY Times
Also as happened in the House, Democratic supporters said they were comfortable with the deal because the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, negotiated concessions from President Bush in May extending protections for workers and the environment in Peru. Democratic supporters also said that the deal opened up markets for American exports. Other Democrats, and many Republicans, argued that it was important to shore up relations with a crucial ally in Latin America, especially to lure them away from the socialist anti-American leadership of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

Colombia is back from chaos

Five years ago Colombia in South American was in chaos. FARC, a huge narcotics crime outfit, had great power. The president did a Patty Murray * and gave them complete control of an area the size of Switzerland. Were they satisfied? No. They had a base and continued to take over larger areas. The new president 5 years ago, Alvaro Uribe, decided to take back control of his country. American Magazine reports:
He expanded the army, created specialized new units, and pursued the guerrillas relentlessly. At the same time, he spearheaded a parallel strategy of demobilizing the paramilitaries. Colombia saw immediate results. As a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) explains, “In 2003, some 133 percent more paramilitaries and narco-traffickers were captured than the previous year, and 85 percent more guerrillas. Desertions from the FARC and ELN and paramilitaries more than doubled between 2002 and 2004, with some 10,000 guerrillas and their supporters breaking ranks from 2002 to 2007, including an increasing number of seasoned veterans. By 2004, the FARC had lost its offensive momentum, and the paramilitaries were seeking to demobilize. The FARC’s current order of battle troop strength is an estimated 10,000, down 40 percent from its peak.” Ever since 2000, Bogotá has benefited from a U.S. aid initiative known as Plan Colombia, which includes massive supplies of military and development assistance designed to curb the drug trade. In 2002, the Bush administration broadened Plan Colombia to encompass anti-terrorism aid, acknowledging that the drug war and the guerrilla war had become deeply enmeshed. This provided a critical financial boost to Uribe’s efforts. Between 2002 and 2006, Colombia reduced the number of murders by 40 percent, the number of terrorist attacks by 63 percent, and the number of kidnappings by 76 percent. More than 33,000 paramilitary fighters have been demobilized. Though still a menace, the FARC has lost thousands of its armed combatants and been pushed out of the cities. “For the first time,” says the CSIS report, “there is a legitimate state presence in all of Colombia’s 1,099 municipalities.”
* Distinguished Senator Patty Murray went to schools around Washington explaining that Osama Bin Laden was popular because he built schools and day-care centers. False statements spoken to make the US look bad. Can you imagine any other motivation for such foolishness?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Underperforming Congress

Congress has a big challenge now, because they haven't done their job. They had all year and squandered their time. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have gotten only one of twelve spending bills signed by President Bush. The Alternate Minimum Tax will enlarge to catch millions more taxpayers unless Congress acts; Congress is already so late that it missed the IRS's deadline for changes for early filers. They also has to act on paying for the war, energy, farm subsidies and wiretapping our enemies. Tell us about your leadership, Harry and Nancy. More at Yahoo News.
Other items on a crowded December agenda include: _Terrorist surveillance. The Senate could vote as early as this week to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which dictates when the government must obtain court permission to conduct electronic eavesdropping. _Farm bill. The Senate hopes to finish a bipartisan bill extending farm subsidies and food programs after the legislation bogged down over GOP attempts to add unrelated tax provisions. _Children's health care. Negotiations should continue on legislation to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years. With time so precious, leverage is flowing to Bush, who's armed with both a veto pen and enough Republican allies in the Senate to sustain filibusters against bills they don't like. When legislation — such as the AMT fix — simply has to pass, that leverage gives Republicans the edge in driving the outcome.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Strong-arm campaigning by Putin in Russia

Vladimir Putin is not trying to extend his term as president of Russia. But he is acting authoritarian in many ways. He has strengthened one of the other offices, which has always been a figure-head post. But he has stengthened it so when he steps down as president he moves into that office and still has power. And his political party is using strong-arm methods to get votes. They are destroying the campaign literature of opponents. Opponents have been arrested in Perm while campaigning. And much more. Washington Post reports:
Millions of pieces of opposition campaign literature have been seized or destroyed, those observers report. Parties have found themselves unable to secure billboard or other advertising space, so that on the streets of Moscow and other cities it appears that only one party, United Russia, is running. Campaign workers have been arrested and beaten across Russia. For example, in the Urals city of Perm, workers were detained while attempting to canvass voters. A party organizer was reported beaten up in the Mordovia region. And a candidate for the Yabloko party was shot and killed last week in the southern republic of Dagestan.
Of course Putin knows nothing of this.
But across the country, people tell a different story. Employees and students at state enterprises and institutions, including hospitals and universities, have come under pressure from their bosses and deans to vote for United Russia on Sunday or face retribution, according to activists. On national and regional television stations, which are controlled by the authorities, opposition parties have received brief, non-prime-time slots for political statements and been neglected or derided in news programming. Putin and other United Russia leaders, in contrast, are the subject of glowing reports. "There was no political campaign; there was only propaganda for United Russia," said Lilia Shibanova, director of Golos, a Russian private organization that monitors elections. "In all state media, there was huge preference and prevalence in coverage of United Russia. Any coverage of other parties was almost 100 percent entirely negative." ...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stalin starved Ukraine 75 years ago

Soviet leader Josef Stalin used starvation to weaken the poor into submission. When there was resistance to collectivizing in the Ukraine area he took farmers' entire harvest so they starved. When I was reading the history of this time I was shocked to learn that soon after the Bolshevik take over the Communist leaders called for a "struggle for food." By struggle they meant to take it by force. And they did. BBC
Seventy-five years ago, Ekaterina saw seven members of her family and almost all of her neighbours starve to death, in a man-made famine that killed millions of people in Ukraine. Tree bark and roots The "Holodomor" or "famine plague" as it is known in Ukraine, was part of Joseph Stalin's programme to crush the resistance of the peasantry to the collectivisation of farming. Don't go near the priest's house either - because the neighbours there have killed and eaten their children Ekaterina Marchenko recalls a warning from her mother When in 1932 the grain harvest did not meet the Kremlin's targets, activists were sent to the villages where they confiscated not just grain and bread, but all the food they could find.

Monday, November 26, 2007

US leads the world in competitiveness

The US is on top of the world for competitiveness, the World Economic Forum finds. They publish this ranking of every country every year, using public data plus conducting their own interviews. The US is high due to almost everything - labor market efficiency, financial market sophistication, innovation, infrastructure, business sophistication, even market size helps. We are only middle of the pack on macroeconomic instability. Yes, adapting to changes requires being less stable. Stagnant countries are more stable. And we are second tier for "institutions" and "health and primary education." Read the report at World Economic Forum. Noel Shepherd at News Busters points out that the news media have been almost silent on this good news. Only Investors Business Daily trumpeted it. Time buried the US and featured number 3 Switzerland. After all, George Bush might get credit for good news.

The Dems have passed one of 12 budget bills

The budget year began October 1. They have one of 12 bills passed and signed by President Bush. Failure

Show us your proof, distinguished Senator Kerry

Distinguished Senator John F. Kerry has convinced the main-stream media that the Swift Boat Veterans smeared him with lies about his service in Viet Nam during the 2004 campaign. How did he convince the gullible newsmen and women? By showing his records? No. By blunder, his only weapon. T Boone Pickens, the Texas oil investor, challenged Kerry to prove any of the Swift-boat allegation untrue. Boone offered $1,000,000 for just one proven allegation. So Kerry wrote and told Pickens where to send the million. Did he provide any facts? Any records? No. Just "send me the money." Emmett Tyrrel can't control his laughter, writing in the New York Sun:
Well, during the last week I have been following Jean-Francois Kerry's controversy with billionaire investor and environmentalist Boone Pickens, and I believe I am in need of "laughter management counseling." Every time I think of this ponderous stone-headed senator bellowing phony pieties, I suffer a dreadful agitation in the funny bone. I only hope that my health insurance is applicable.
And he is aiding distinguished Senator Kerry by running a count-up clock to see how long it takes for Kerry to produce his Navy records. He calls it "The Crybaby Kerry Clock:"
At the American Spectator

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Europe's improving relations with US

More people are writing to point out positive developments in the relations between the US and Europe. I reported two weeks ago on blogger Don Surber's observations. Now more main-stream sources are making similar observations. Charles Krauthammer, a syndicated columnist at the Washington Post, reports. And 10 days ago W Post columnist and former foreign columnist William Drozdiak reported: "Four myths about America-bashing in Europe"
Myth 2 Europeans look down on the American way of life. Young Europeans are more eager than ever to work and study in the United States. A brain drain from France and Germany has sent some of their best and brightest to the United States. A top destination is Silicon Valley; an estimated 80,000 young French people, known for their math skills, have migrated there in pursuit of jobs with high-tech firms. When I spoke last year with about 50 Germans studying at MIT and Harvard, not one of them expressed a desire to return home. They all wanted to live and work in the United States, where, they said, opportunities are far more abundant. Many complained that the sclerotic welfare states in Europe punish those who work and reward those who don't. So they're fleeing the crushing tax burden at home for more lucrative challenges in the United States. Europe's leaders are slowly waking up to the fact that, with shrinking birth rates and a diminished work force, the continent may no longer be able to afford lavish social benefits, such as universal health care, retirement on full pensions as early as age 50 and up to nine weeks of paid vacation per year. They are exploring best practices in the United States to see how to rekindle entrepreneurial spirit and push people off welfare rolls. Similarly, European politicians are seeking to learn from the United States about diversity. Faced with growing difficulties in integrating Turkish and North African immigrants, European governments that once scorned affirmative action are now looking to America for ideas to improve racial integration and encourage class mobility.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ecological high cost of a UN climate conference

The earth's ecology takes a hard hit when the United Nation gathers its professional conference goers and hangers on to talk about protecting the earth's ecology. Someone calculated the cost of 15,000 people traveling to the Indonesian island of Bali. 106,000 tons in the US system just for getting there. Times (UK) reports:
Calculations suggest flying the 15,000 politicians, civil servants, green campaigners and television crews into Indonesia will generate the equivalent of 100,000 tonnes of extra CO2. That is similar to the entire annual emissions of the African state of Chad. When it was first conceived, only a few thousand politicians civil servants and environmentalists were expected to attend the conference — about normal for such an event. The meeting, which runs from December 3-14, aims to create the framework for a successor to the Kyoto treaty on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, which expires in 2012. However, climate change’s growing political importance has led to a surge in interest in the conference, which is being held in the luxury holiday resort of Nusa Dua on Bali’s palm-fringed southern coast. .... Indonesian officials say the final tally could reach 20,000 — and fear it could stretch the resort’s infrastructure to the limit. About 90% of the emissions will be generated by delegates flying thousands of miles to Bali, with the rest coming from the facilities they will be using. Chris Goodall, a carbon emissions expert who did the calculations for The Sunday Times, estimated that each person flying to Bali would, on average, generate the equivalent of 6.48 tonnes of CO2. If 15,000 people attend, this adds up to over 97,000 tonnes of CO2. To this must be added about 13,000 tonnes of CO2 from the conference venue and hotels — a total of 110,000 tonnes. [A tonne is a metric ton which is a 1,000 kgm - about 2,200 lbs.]
I don't think we can afford so many concerned people flying all over the place. The same people want you and me to stop traveling. But they are different.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lorna Jean Schaper 1942-2007

My sister lost her battle to ovarian cancer on November 13. She was in stage 4 for over two years and fought it to the end. Update. There is an online web site for her at where you can leave a condolence.

Lorna Jean Schaper (1942-2007)

On November 13, 2007, Lorna Jean Schaper lost a two-year battle to stage 4 ovarian cancer. She is missed by her family, friends, and co-workers. She was born Lorna Jean Hebron in Oskaloosa, Iowa, March 30, 1942. Her family moved to Washington before her first birthday. She attended schools in Richland and Kennewick, Washington before moving to Seattle. She graduated from West Seattle High School, then attended Seattle Pacific College and Edison Technical School. She earned an Associate of Arts in Applied Sciences at Seattle Central Community College. She worked for Boeing until leaving to be a full-time mother. Her passion was teaching elementary children as an Instructional Assistant for 22 years in Seattle Public Schools – Coe, TT Minor, Cooper, Cleveland High, and Summit K-12 Schools. She worked in a number of reading assistance programs and supervised recess (even when weak from cancer!), until illness forced her to leave in June 2007. She enjoyed hobbies such as cross stitch, knitting, puzzles, reading the Seattle Times, sewing, and sudoku. As an accomplished seamstress she once made matching suits for her husband and son. She enjoyed her condo with its views of Elliot Bay and the commercial traffic, especially tugboats. She traveled to several states by private plane and enjoyed vacations at Sun Cove in Orondo, (Eastern) WA, Florida, and Hawaii. She was a Mariner’s Baseball fan and an avid fan of the Seattle Thunderbirds Hockey Team as a season ticket holder since their inception as the Breakers in 1977. She participated in church throughout her life, singing in the church choir at Gatewood Baptist Church, teaching 3rd grade Sunday School class while at McMicken Heights Baptist Church. As a counselor, she took teens to Youth for Christ rallies and volunteered at a Billy Graham Crusade. As a member at Elim Baptist Church in Wallingford, she held different positions including Financial Secretary until the time of her death. She is survived by her brothers Ronald (Virginia), Curtis (Mary), Richard (Lilly), and Gordon (Debbie) Hebron, and her Son, Scott (Patricia) all of the Seattle-Tacoma area. Memorial service will be Dec. 1, 2007 11:00am at Elim Baptist Church 2410 N 46th St Seattle, WA 98103 (206) 632-4354 Special thanks to the countless people that helped care for Lorna, the Elim Family and Swedish Cancer Institute, Ballard Treatment Center, ICU, and specifically Dr. Milder and Dr. Rivkin (who saved her life in Sept-2007).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stem-cell breakthrough - good news

Adult cells can produce the stem cells needed for certain therapies. The evidence has been mounting; here is more Ledger-Enquirer
In the journals Science and Cell, the scientists reported that they had coaxed regular human cells into mimicking the disease-fighting potential of embryonic stem cells - without destroying budding human life... Stem cells extracted from embryos a few days old can morph into any type of tissue and are widely considered to hold the greatest promise of treatments and cures for cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and other ailments. But extracting the stem cells destroys the embryo. [President] Bush and his allies consider that crossing an ethical line that taxpayers should not be forced to finance. Proponents of the process say public money would only be used on embryos that would be discarded anyway under the vetoed legislation.

Thank our troops with text - 89279

Show our US troops in Iraq and Afganistan that you support them this Thanksgiving. Send a text message to 89279. Watch the messages appear in real-time in the window below:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

UN lowers AIDS counts by 40 per cent

The United Nations is backing off its scare tactic of overestimating the numbers of people suffering and dying from AIDS. They have been so far over year after year that knowledgeable people have been complaining every year. Why did the UN bureaucrats and scientists make such a huge error? They wanted more funding, so they lied, I mean, emphasized the immensity of the problem. Washington Post
The worldwide total of people infected with HIV -- estimated a year ago at nearly 40 million and rising -- now will be reported as 33 million. Having millions fewer people with a lethal contagious disease is good news. Some researchers, however, contend that persistent overestimates in the widely quoted U.N. reports have long skewed funding decisions and obscured potential lessons about how to slow the spread of HIV. Critics have also said that U.N. officials overstated the extent of the epidemic to help gather political and financial support for combating AIDS. "There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda," said Helen Epstein, author of "The Invisible Cure:Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS." "I hope these new numbers will help refocus the response in a more pragmatic way." [link in the original]

9 days exploring Washington's Pacific coast

Travels with Brian in the Seattle Times If you love Northwest beaches and quaint beach towns, chances are many of you head for the Oregon coast for vacation. So what's the beef with the Washington coast? Well, nothing. Well, everything. Well, let's go take a fresh look. That what I'm doing for the next 10 days. I'll jump in a Jeep, packing high boots, foul-weather gear, camera and a laptop. The plan is to drive, hike and poke around just about every Pacific beach in the state of Washington reachable by car, and some that aren't, from Neah Bay to Ilwaco.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pastor Hutcherson to buy Microsoft over gay bill

Pastor Ken Hutcherson is fighting back against Microsoft because MS supported a gay-rights bill in Washington state. I agree that the law promotes sin, but I disagree with his tactic. He is trying to gain control of Microsoft by people buying shares. Worse, he claims he can succeed. The Telegraph (UK) reports
His ambitious plan signals a new offensive in his two-year battle with Microsoft after it abandoned its neutral stance on gay rights legislation, which he says he helped secretly negotiate before outraged gay employees intervened. By trying to become a political player in Washington state, he said, the company was trying to impose its sinful ways on others. "Microsoft stepped out of their four walls into my world so that gives me the right to step out of my world into their world," he said. "They tried to turn their policy into state policy, making their policy something I had to submit to. And my playbook [the bible] tells me you don't submit to sin."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

State college supporting blockading the streets of Olympia

Rep. Kagi, Why are my tax dollars supporting people forcing their children to block the streets of Olympia? Have you seen the photos of the baby dropped by his/her mother? But its my tax dollars that bother me. They are using the resources of Evergreen State College. See this email:
From: Johnson, Leslie Sent: Wed 11/14/07 13:03 To: All Staff & Faculty DL Subject: FW: Port demonstration Debrief with Counseling Center staff —–Original Message—– From: Johnson, Leslie Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 12:15 PM To: Gaetz, Gloria Subject: Port demonstration Debrief with Counseling Center staff The Counseling Center will be holding a debriefing specifically for TESC students who have been involved The Olympia Port war protest. The purpose of the debriefing is to provide emotional support and help students process traumatic experiences. This will be a therapeutic setting and as such no media will be present or allowed. If you are aware of a student who was involved in the protest and is having difficulty coping with or processing this experience please encourage them to attend this therapeutic debriefing. When: Thursday Nov. 15 Time: 6- 8 p.m. Where: CAB room 108 Leslie Johnson, MSW Mental Health Therapist TESC Counseling Center Ext. 6802
Why? Ron Hebron Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

Friday, November 16, 2007

Constitutional coup by Chavez in Venezuela

The Washington Post now realizes: Hugo Chavez in Venezuela might have been elected, but he is conducting a coup by revising the constitution to keep himself in power:
In fact, Mr. Chavez's rewrite would complete his transformation into an autocrat. It would lengthen his presidential term from six to seven years and remove the current limit of two terms, allowing him to serve indefinitely. He would have broad powers to seize property, to dispose of Venezuela's foreign exchange reserves, to impose central government rule on local jurisdictions and to declare indefinite states of emergency under which due process and freedom of information would be suspended. As a populist sop, one provision would reduce the workday from eight to six hours; that benefit, the state's control over national television and the voting process, and the apparent intention of many Venezuelans to stay away from the polls are expected to deliver the necessary ratification. The strength and courage of the resistance to Mr. Chavez is nevertheless growing. Despite the attacks by government goons, students have continued to march by the thousands. Bloggers have posted photos and videos of the government-sponsored violence. Opposition leaders have continued to speak out despite being labeled "traitors" by Mr. Chavez and harassed with death threats. Venezuela is on the verge of succumbing to a dictatorship that will isolate and retard the country, maybe for decades. It's encouraging that so many of its people aren't prepared to give up their freedom without a fight.
And it's not just his long-time enemies; those who have supported him agree:
Mr. Chavez's apologists like to dismiss the Venezuelan forces opposing his deconstruction of democracy -- which include the Catholic Church, the private business community and labor unions as well as students -- as a corrupt elite. So it's worth noting what some of Mr. Chavez's long-standing allies are saying about his constitutional changes. The political party Podemos, whose members ran for parliament on a pro-Chavez platform, call it "a constitutional fraud." Mr. Chavez's recently retired defense minister, Gen. Ra¿l Isa¿as Baduel, said it was an "undemocratic imposition" and that its approval would amount to "a coup."
Rick Moran at American Thinker concludes:
But sooner or later, as it happens in all socialist countries, the economic realities of socialism's failures will overcome any good that might be done and the Venezuelan economy will go south. How Chavez maintains power then will be difficult. But judging by his bullyboy tactics recently, he won't go into retirement easily.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Poverty from the dictator

Venezuela is getting billions in oil revenues. But Venezuela has a dictator who is squandering it for his personal gain and spreading his form of Communism around Latin America. Poverty is the result. Stores have no eggs, milk, sugar and cooking. That is, the stores not reserved for his political cronies. Guardian (U.K.)
Welcome to Venezuela, a booming economy with a difference. Food shortages are plaguing the country at the same time that oil revenues are driving a spending splurge on imported luxury goods, prompting criticism of President Hugo Chávez's socialist policies. Milk has all but vanished from shops. Distraught mothers ask how they are supposed to feed their infants. Many cafes and restaurants serve only black coffee. Families say eggs and sugar are also a memory. "The last time I had them was September," said Marisol Perez, 51, a housewife in Petare, a sprawling barrio in eastern Caracas. When supplies do arrive long queues form instantly. Purchases are rationed and hands are stamped to prevent cheating. The sight of a milk truck reportedly prompted a near-riot last week.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Scientists fear not being trusted

Scientists fear not being trusted. Well, actually they miss not being the final authority in every matter they voiced an opinion. What went wrong? The previous situation was wrong. No area of science can claim to be the final authority. Maybe they stumbled into the situation, maybe not. But they accepted their place on the top of the mountain. Then they wasted their moral authority capital. Much of it was wasted on Alber Gore, Jr. He got them to use massive points on his global warming theory. They continued to claim absolute authority while backing his theory. And they backed Gore when he ruled that there can be no debate. "Game over. I won. (I make the rules.)" The damage is huge. Gore is willing to set the US economy back two generations (very few had cars; few owned homes) and force poverty on us for his theory. And parents now refuse to get their children vaccinated for childhood diseases because they no longer trust scientists. The Toronto Sun reports on a group of scientists facing reality:
After two days of provocative ideas and spirited exchanges at an international gathering recently in Toronto, British museum curator Robert Bud neatly summed up the collective wisdom. "The scientists are terrified." This widespread angst among scientists has been sparked by evidence that the traditional social compact between science and the public has been irrevocably sundered. Put bluntly, much of the public no longer implicitly trusts either scientists or their pronouncements about everything from climate change to the safety of children's vaccines.
Surprise: Scientists express opinions. And sometimes lay people know more than the scientists.
A repeated theme among workshop participants was that many scientists still act as if they possess the "facts," while the public merely has "opinions." In reality, however, scientists are increasingly expressing opinions, and laypersons sometimes possess greater expertise than the scientists, especially in the case of rare medical afflictions.
Hat tip to Denyse at Post-darwinist.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Weather Channel Founder John Coleman - global warming is a sham

"Global warming is a sham." John Coleman was the founder of the Weather Channel and ran it for the first six years. He now works for KUSI TV in San Diego. The following is his own blog post at a blog called Icecap. John Coleman:
It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the “research” to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus. Environmental extremists, notable politicians among them, then teamed up with movie, media and other liberal, environmentalist journalists to create this wild “scientific” scenario of the civilization threatening environmental consequences from Global Warming unless we adhere to their radical agenda. Now their ridiculous manipulated science has been accepted as fact and become a cornerstone issue for CNN, CBS, NBC, the Democratic Political Party, the Governor of California, school teachers and, in many cases, well informed but very gullible environmentally conscientious citizens. Only one reporter at ABC has been allowed to counter the Global Warming frenzy with one 15 minute documentary segment. I do not oppose environmentalism. I do not oppose the political positions of either party. However, Global Warming, i.e. Climate Change, is not about environmentalism or politics. It is not a religion. It is not something you “believe in.” It is science; the science of meteorology. This is my field of life-long expertise. And I am telling you Global Warming is a non-event, a manufactured crisis and a total scam. I say this knowing you probably won’t believe a me, a mere TV weatherman, challenging a Nobel Prize, Academy Award and Emmy Award winning former Vice President of United States. So be it. I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct. There is no run away climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril. I am incensed by the incredible media glamour, the politically correct silliness and rude dismissal of counter arguments by the high priest of Global Warming. In time, a decade or two, the outrageous scam will be obvious....
Via Blonde Sagacity

Thursday, November 08, 2007

US's good relations with other countries

Don Surber observes that the US is in improved relationships with many countries. France has elected Sarkozy, its most pro-US president in generations. Germany replaced hostile Schroeder with positive Angela Merkel. Great Britain continues the good relationships under Tony Blair with Gordon Brown. Suber at Daily Mail continues:
Again and again, the West is rallying behind pro-American candidates. That’s because we finally have an adult president. We finally have a president who isn’t so self-centered and insecure that he needs 55% public approval all the time. We finally have a president again who wore the military uniform, knows which hand to salute with and doesn’t use the Pentagon as a dumping ground for ex-girlfriends. 53 weeks of active duty training to be a jet pilot. Unless you’ve been a jet pilot (and I have not) button it about Bush’s service. As to our enemies, Bush fixed that little mess that Clinton and Carter (and Richardson) left in North Korea. Actual Americans began an actual dismantling of Pyongyang’s nuke reactor this week. Gaddafi? He quit terrorism and gave up his WMD.

US troops "cheat" to stay in Iraq

The standard line is that the US can only field forces in Iraq because our economy is so bad that young men and women have no other opportunities and are forced to join the military. I have been hearing constantly that the morale of our forces is very high. They want to be there. Now USA Today reports that young men want to stay with their buddies in Iraq so bad that they cheat on a medical test so they can stay. When someone is near an explosion there is danger of concussion. The test is for concussion. Read about it at USA Today.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Travel in Thailand, Malaysia and Viet Nam

Seattle Times travel writer Carol Pucci traveled to Bangkok, Penang and Hanoi and looked for the unusual.
River cruises. Fresh beer. Strong coffee. French baguettes. Bike rides along shaded canals. Cooking classes in secluded villas. Five-star hotels with sky bars and rooftop pools. Paris, Venice, London? Try Hanoi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. If it's your first time or your tenth, surprises await in modern Southeast Asia. More accessible and easier to travel around than ever, it's a place where English is widely spoken and the dollar still packs power. Beginning Monday, join in online as travel writer Carol Pucci reports from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Follow her dispatches, see her photos and offer your own comments and tips.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Syria's authoritarian secrecy aids Israel

The facility in Syria that is reported to have been a nuclear plant and was reportedly attacked by Israel - no verification on either - was vulnerable due to Syria's internal secrecy. Israel attacked the site in early September. It is not widely reported, but Syria had bought the best air defenses available other than from the US. So they were stunned that Israel was able to attack. And the reports seem to be that Syria didn't know at the time that an attack was underway. So they were doubly stunned. The Syrian authorities were so secretive about the nuclear site that they didn't tell the military. Duh. "Please defend this such-and-such." "Defend what?" "Don't ask, just defend it." But they apparently didn't. So the authoritarian regime hurt itself by its secrecy. The Jerusalem Post reports on the secrecy. Look at the before and after satellite photos. Syria has leveled the site. They must have something to hide. The attack - Times UK. The clean up, I mean, the cover up - Background at Global

Friday, November 02, 2007

Struggled against Nazis vs. the joiner

Joachim Fest passed away at the time his book was published. He tells about how his family resisted and worked around the Nazis of Germany in the 1930s and 40s. But they didn't join. The Nobel Peace prize was awarded to Gunter Grass. For decades Grass was feted as the moral authority, but he was accused of being a Nazi himself. At the end of his life Grass admitted his involvement. Fest said of Grass:
"This confession comes a bit too late. I can't understand how someone who for decades set himself up as a moral authority, a rather smug one, could pull this off."
Read more at No-Pasaran! and at International Herald-Tribune. Fest's book, Ich Nicht, is only available in German!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trees contribute to global warming

What doesn't contribute to global warming? You do, I do, the boreal forest in Manitoba does too. (Boreal forest means northern forest; it applies Canada (farther north in the west) and Alaska plus northern Minnesota and Maine.) Canada's Globe and Mail:
Forests have long been thought of as an ally in the fight against global warming, but a new study suggests that Canada's boreal forest may in fact be releasing more greenhouse gases than it absorbs. “The boreal forest, at least in the north-central part of Manitoba, has gone from a weak carbon sink to a weak carbon source,” said Dr. Tom Gower of the University of Wisconsin, whose paper is being published Thursday in the journal Nature. “It is now contributing to atmospheric (carbon dioxide) concentration.” Dr. Gower and his fellow researchers studied a million-square-kilometre stretch of forest around Thompson, Man. The team took field measurements of how carbon moved between the forest and the atmosphere and then used computer modelling and forestry records to suggest how that cycle has changed since the 1950s. Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when they burn or decompose. Although results varied for individual years depending on the severity of the forest fire season, Dr. Gower found that the forest once absorbed, on average, slightly more carbon than it emitted — about five or 10 grams per square metre of forest per year. Now, however, the direction of that flow has reversed. On average, the forest actually emits about two grams per square metre per year. “(The forest) is actually contributing to rising carbon emissions,” Dr. Gower said.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Climate is too complex to model

The atmosphere is too complex to model. Particularly, predicting large changes involves larger uncertainty. James Lewis at American Thinker found this. The research was done by two University of Washington professors, Gerald Roe and Marcia Baker.
"Uncertainties in projections of future climate change have not lessened substantially in past decades." (Italics added).
"... it is evident that the climate system is operating in a regime in which small uncertainties in feedbacks are highly amplified in the resulting climate sensitivity. We are constrained by the inevitable: the more likely a large warming is for a given forcing (i.e., the greater the positive feedbacks), the greater the uncertainty will be in the magnitude of that warming." (italics added)
And the publishers of New Scientist magazine allow Miles Allen and David Frame put the conclusion:
"Atmosphere: Call Off the Quest." "An upper bound on the climate sensitivity has become the holy grail of climate research. As Roe and Baker point out, it is inherently hard to find. It promises lasting fame and happiness to the finder, but it may not exist and turns out not to be very useful if you do find it. Time to call off the quest." (Italics added)
Back to American Thinker:
End of story --- at least among scientists with a shred of integrity left. The science establishment will have a big black eye from this outrageous fraud for years to come. Global Warming will go down in history along with "cold fusion" and other science fables that fooled some of the people some of the time. Except that in this case, the scientific establishment allowed itself to be taken for a long and very expensive ride

Sunday, October 28, 2007

More trade is good. Cotton

The United States got spanked for subsidizing cotton and deserved it. Brazil took us to the World Trade Organization and won. We have already removed some of the subsidies. Brazil was big enough that we had to take them seriously, but much of the benefit will be small, poor African countries including Mali and Burkina Faso. And we will benefit because trade barriers cause inefficiencies. BBC reports, quoting a Brazilian official:
"The truth is that it takes a bigger country to really make the US comply, because the market has to be big enough that the US is worried about it."
In other news: "US attacks unfair trade practices"
The US has said more than 60 of its main trading partners engage in unfair practices and that copyright theft in China remains its main concern.
This is from the same person - the US Trade Representative - who fought vigorously to protect US cotton subsidies. I wouldn't want that assignment - to speak out of both sides of my mouth.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Get a windfall. Kick out your neighbors

American Indian tribes have gotten windfalls by operating legal gambling where no one else can. With a windfall what do they do? They kick out tribal members, to avoid sharing the spoils. Dennis Chapman's grandfather helped win recognition of the Naragansett tribe by the federal government. Dennis grew up dancing at powwows. Now he has been kicked out. Tampa Bay Online - AP

Thursday, October 25, 2007

High tech for the poor

Wind generation hasn't worked for the world's poor, because it needs to be huge to be efficient - $1 million plus generators. But 28-year-old Shan Frayne has devised a way to build very cheap low-power wind generators. He uses a long piece of coated cloth which vibrates like a loose guitar string. Magnets at the end get induced electricity by the vibration. And that's all. Very simple. Easy to build and maintain and it generates power with a 10 mph wind. The "wind belt." He deserved and received a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics this year. See the pictures of it and the video of Shawn demonstrating it.

Hollywood defenders of Stalin playing saints

No heroes here. Just Communists. Hollywood has spun the tale for 60 years that ten actors, producers, etc. who were accused of being Communists were wrongly targeted, but were heroes of the First Amendment. The tale hides the fact that all ten were Communists. Ex-leftiest radical Ron Radosh sets the record straight - again. He has been doing this for years.
[The accusation by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee] allowed them to reinvent themselves not just as victims but as heroes, for refusing to cooperate with HUAC rather than revealing what they really were: the most committed of the Communist Party faithful, die-hard defenders of one of the great totalitarian regimes of the last century. As the critic Richard Schickel puts it, "the unapologetic defenders of a deadly doctrine have been transformed into martyrs to liberal belief — which none of them embraced in their day." Throughout their active years in Hollywood, the Ten defended every twist and turn of the party line, going from anti-fascists to peace activists overnight when the Nazi-Soviet Pact was announced. They also supported the Soviet invasion of Finland and were silent about, or approved, the Great Purge trials of the 1930s. The Ten swore their allegiance to Stalin and justified and supported the worst murders and crimes committed by the Soviet Union. As Trumbo himself acknowledged, he was not shocked by Khrushchev's revelations, at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party in 1956, of Stalin's crimes over the decades. Trumbo knew the truth years earlier. His own library had the works of Koestler, Orwell, Gide, even Whittaker Chambers. Yet he never said a word about the truth, and defended what he knew was indefensible. The Ten regarded the real enemy as America and its "fascist" foreign policy; Stalin may have been evil, but they considered him on the right side of history.
But this weekend theses defenders of Stalin will again be treated as saints.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Nuclear power to reduce CO2 emissions

If we want to reduce CO2 we can by using more nuclear power. It is safe - coal mining kills every year; nuclear has not killed anyone in the US in decades. A utility company in south Texas has applied to build a new nuclear plant - the first in around 30 years. American Thinker:
Yesterday, the San Antonio-Express News reported that San Antonio’s City Public Service Energy company has joined forces with New Jersey-based NRG Energy Inc. to file the first application in more than 30 years for constructing not just one, but two new nuclear reactors to satisfy the area’s booming energy needs.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bangkok is sinking

Bangkok, Thailand, is sinking. We spent 9 days in Bagkok - and 3 at a beach resort - this year. Traveling there - Bangkok and the Grand Palace - Friends - Military Rule - To River Kwai - Elephant Trek Bangkok is sinking. This is not the sea level rising, but the city sinking 10 cm ( 4 in.) per year, because it is built on clay plus the aquifer is being emptied, causing further sinking. They are exploring options of building dikes or diverting river flow upstream or building storage ponds for later release. The amount of water they have to deal with is huge. They get monsoons (Bangkok weather actuals) that dump inches of rain in a day. So their problem is double - rainfall and sinking to sea level. They had better get to work. The Seattle Times features monks at a temple 19 km south of Bangkok and their plight. (Bangkok is on the lowest stretch of the Chao Phraya River, but essentially at sea level.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rush turns the table on distinguished Senator Reid

41 Democrat Senators sent Rush Limbaugh's syndicator a letter condemning him. Rush was honored. He auctioned off the letter to benefit the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. $2,100,100 plus $2,100,100 matching by Rush. Even the Washington Post can no longer hide this story. Of course they can get it wrong. Why not listen to what Rush actually said? No, reporter Neely Tucker just parrots the lie the Democrats perpetrated - that Rush was criticizing soldiers who criticized the Iraq War. Not at all. Rush was criticizing pretend soldiers - specifically a guy who was bounced out of the service after 44 days in boot camp. The guy claimed to be a veteran of Iraq and was paraded as such. But he was a phony, a "phony soldier." Still, the WAPO has to run the story. Let's enjoy their pain.

What works - faith-based prisons

Prisons house people and train them to be criminals. The typical US prison does little to make its wards less likely to return. The changes needed are internal - values, respect for life and law. The US prisons have no way to transfer these values. I don't think they even recognize their value. A bold experiment began about ten years ago. Prison Fellowship, run by Chuck Colson, ask Texas to let them run a section of a prison where they would teach Christian values. PF provided the instruction; Texas provided the housing and feeding of the prisoners. I thought this was killed off by a judge is some sort of law suit. But it has expanded to a dozen now. And their results are far, far better than the establishment. Fox News has it:
... Evidence is strong that violence and trouble-making drop sharply in these programs, and they often are the only vibrant rehabilitation option at a time when taxpayer-funded alternatives have been cut back. Inmates at Vance offer another compelling argument. Unlike many of America's 2 million prisoners, they feel they are treated with respect. They have hope. "A bunch of cats in prison, they never had anyone show them love — even their mother and father," said Anzetta Smith, who served 18 years for attempted murder before graduating from Vance this year. "You get in the program, and everybody shows you love." Impressed by the Vance operation, Texas officials have opened a dozen faith-based dorms elsewhere in the state, accommodating some 1,300 inmates. At one dorm, at the maximum-security Allred prison near Wichita Falls, infractions by the inmates dropped more than 90 percent once they entered the program. At Vance, a minimum-security prison, fights among inmates are rare, said Tommie Dorsett, a former parole officer who has directed the unit's Christian-based InnerChange Freedom Initiative since its inception.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Single-payer medical care - Pliers instead of dentist

In the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) patients have to wait so long for dental care that they are using pliers to pull their own teeth! When medical care is free everyone demands everything and the best of it. So the caring government bureaucrats have to cut costs. They cut costs by rationing care. They say "No." So here is the result - desparate patients. Sky News reports:
Falling numbers of NHS dentists are forcing many patients to go without treatment or even try pulling out their own teeth, a study has revealed. Almost a fifth (19%) of those questioned said they had missed out on dental work because of the cost. The research found 6% had even resorted to treating themselves because they could not find a dentist. The 5,000-plus patients who were interviewed also spoke of taking out their own teeth or fixing broken crowns with glue.
Hillary wants the same for you. UK dental care is not totally free, but the message is the same.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amazing Silicone Lab - not silicon

Silicone and silicon. Silicone is a polymer; silicon is crystaline sand. They are doing great things with silicone. A "lab on a chip" is a miniature lab that does amazing things. Fluidigm is a company that has developed a lab that on a 1.5 by 1.5 inch chip contains 30,000 hoses, 7,000 gates and 5,000 chambers where a protein is mixed with the study chemical and the reaction analyzed! ZDNet reports:
The valves are the key part, Worthington said. Microfluidic chips, designed to control the flow of liquids on a small scale, have been around for years. Miniaturizing valves, though, has been tricky. Most microfluidic chips consist of channels grooved out of silicon or glass and the valves themselves are mechanical devices. For the valves, Fluidigm exploits the flexible nature of rubber. The hoses are arranged in a perpendicular array with hoses running left and right sitting atop of hoses running up and down. Increasing the pressure on a right-left hose causes it to bulge downward. The upper walls of these hoses are thicker than the bottom walls, so they bulge in only one direction. The bulge pushes into the downward hose and pinches it off. "How do you control fluids? You do it with valves. Nobody had figured out how to make a very small value," Worthington asserted. The computer system, of course, has to precisely control the pressure in the hoses so that the appropriate reactions will take place in the reactive chambers. The system is effectively a shrunken version of the equipment drug companies use today.
Is it cheaper? Far. And its size means it uses less power and can be used in places not before imagined. Read at ZDNet about the use studying salmon in Alaska.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

No Nobel peace prize for those who deserve it

Wall Street Journal (free link) says it best: In Olso Friday, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded to the Burmese monks whose defiance against, and brutalization at the hands of, the country's military junta in recent weeks captured the attention of the Free World. The prize was also not awarded to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and other Zimbabwe opposition leaders who were arrested and in some cases beaten by police earlier this year while protesting peacefully against dictator Robert Mugabe. Or to Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest in Vietnam arrested this year and sentenced to eight years in prison for helping the pro-democracy group Block 8406. Or to Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyyouni, co-founders of the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia, who are waging a modest struggle with grand ambitions to secure basic rights for women in that Muslim country. Or to Colombian President Àlvaro Uribe, who has fought tirelessly to end the violence wrought by left-wing terrorists and drug lords in his country. Or to Garry Kasparov and the several hundred Russians who were arrested in April, and are continually harassed, for resisting President Vladimir Putin's slide toward authoritarian rule. [... many more ...] These men and women put their own lives and livelihoods at risk by working to rid the world of violence and oppression. Let us hope they survive the coming year so that the Nobel Prize Committee might consider them for the 2008 award.

Canadian quads born in the US due to shortage of facilities

Socialized medicine requires cost controls and rationing of care. This is because the politicians promise "free" care to everyone. When something is as free as the air you breathe how much of it do you ask for? Everyone wants wants the best care without restrictions. But that's not possible. The politicians know that, but they lie and promise it anyway. Here is a good example last week. A Canadian woman has given birth to extremely rare identical quadruplets. The four girls were born at a US hospital because there was no space available at Canadian neonatal intensive care units. No hospital in Canada with a neonatal intensive care unit had room - none in the entire country. So they went to the nearest such hospital in the US only 310 miles away in Great Falls, Montana - the nearest. BBC
Karen Jepp and her husband JP, of Calgary, were taken to a Montana hospital where the girls were delivered two months early by Caesarean section. Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia are in good condition at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, Montana. 'One in 13 million' A medical team and space for the babies had been organised for the Jepp family at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary but several other babies were born unexpectedly early, filling the neonatal intensive care unit. Health officials said they checked every other neonatal intensive care unit in Canada but none had space. The Jepps, a nurse and a respiratory technician were flown 500km (310 miles) to the Montana hospital, the closest in the US, where the quadruplets were born on Sunday.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spanish voters getting biased news coverage in the US

The world according to Univision. Biased coverage is keeping Spanish-speaking people in the US from knowing how much their views align with the Republican Party. Democratic operatives are putting falsehoods on the air. Wall Street Journal
John Edwards has not taken a definitive position on abortion. Hillary Clinton's position on the issue is that "she will fight for the defense of children." And Barack Obama wants taxes to be "as low as possible." Each of these statements is misleading, at best. Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Clinton support "a woman's right to choose" and Mr. Obama wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts. But on Univision, a Spanish-language TV network with an average prime-time audience of about 3.5 million viewers, these and other slanted statements about the presidential candidates are commonplace. These [lies] statements appeared on Univision's Web site, but like much of the network's reporting, were missed by the mainstream media because they appeared only in Spanish.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Christian murdered in Gaza

Gaza, just south of Israel, is the big battle ground between the Islamist extremist groups Hamas and Fatah, who kill each other. There are 3,000 Christians in Gaza. Rami Ayad, age 32, was head of the Protestant Holy Bible Society. He was murdered last weekend. Micah Halpern reports at his blog:
A 32 year old Christian, Rami Ayad, was murdered in Gaza on Saturday. Ayad who was kidnapped early in the day called his mother saying that if he was not returned in a few hours he would not come back for a long, long time. The body of Rami Ayad was found several hours later. The body had multiple stab wounds. Ayad was the director of the Protestant Holy Bible Society. The Society's Christian book store, The Holy Bible Society, was bombed and totally destroyed 6 months ago in April. There are about 3000 Christians in Gaza and their property, schools and lives are threatened every day by Hamas. I do not understand the silence of the Christian community. Where is the disgust, the protests, the shouting? Where is the public pressure?
If more people cared maybe more Christians would be safe in Gaza.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

UK judge protects students from Albert Gore

A judge in the UK put the wrappers on Albert Gore, Jr.'s film "An inconvenient Truth." He ruled that children cannot be shown it unless they are told about its many inaccuracies. The Times UK gives the inconvenient list of 9 errors:
The first mistake made by Mr Gore, said Mr Justice Burton in his written judgment, was in talking about the potential devastation wrought by a rise in sea levels caused by the melting of ice caps. The claim that sea levels could rise by 20ft “in the near future” was dismissed as “distinctly alarmist”. Such a rise would take place “only after, and over, millennia”. Mr Justice Burton added: “The ar-mageddon scenario he predicts, inso-far as it suggests that sea level rises of seven metres might occur in the immediate future, is not in line with the scientific consensus.” A claim that atolls in the Pacific had already been evacuated was supported by “no evidence”, while to suggest that two graphs showing carbon dioxide levels and temperatures over the last 650,000 years were an “exact fit” overstated the case. Mr Gore’s suggestion that the Gulf Stream, that warms up the Atlantic ocean, would shut down was contradicted by the International Panel on Climate Change’s assessment that it was “very unlikely” to happen. The drying of Lake Chad, the loss of Mount Kilimanjaro’s snows and Hurricane Katrina were all blamed by Mr Gore on climate change but the judge said the scientific community had been unable to find evidence to prove there was a direct link. The drying of Lake Chad, the judge said, was “far more likely to result from other factors, such as population increase and overgrazing, and regional climate variability”. The melting of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was “mainly attributable to human-induced climate change”. The judge also said there was no proof to support a claim that polar bears were drowning while searching for icy habitats melted by global warming. The only drowned polar bears the court was aware of were four that died following a storm. Similarly, the judge took issue with the former Vice-President of the United States for attributing coral bleaching to climate change. Separating the direct impacts of climate change and other factors was difficult, the judgment concluded.
Gore didn't miss everything. The judge found 3 proven facts!