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.