Monday, December 28, 2009

Who Was That Masked Man/Woman?

Halloween comes once a year. But muslims want to pretend every day is a day when women, or men pretending to be women, cover their faces. What will it take for federal and state governments to step in and limit the risk created by muslims completely hidden beneath niquabs and burqas?

Niqabs or Burqas Banned at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

by Daniel Pipes

Tarek Mehanna, 27, was arrested on Oct. 21, 2009, in Sudbury, Massachusetts and charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. He allegedly planned to launch terrorist attacks both inside and outside the United States, specifically planning to attack a shopping mall with automatic weapons. Mehanna was a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), where his father Ahmed teaches chemistry.

Today, the dean of students at MCPHS issued a directive to students that "any head covering that obscures a student's face may not be worn, either on campus or at clinical sites, except when required for medical reasons." (The full memorandum follows below.)

Comment: Banning niqabs and burqas is an excellent security measure and one that all educational and other institutions should follow. Indeed, every "head covering that obscures" every face should be banned in every public space. For dozens of reasons why, see my weblog entry, "Niqabs and Burqas as Security Threats." (December 8, 2009)

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 27, 2009

But Can He Still Perform the Indian Rope Trick?

Hats off to the governor of Andhra Pradesh. No doubt Eliot Spitzer is envious. It's good to know the Kama Sutra is still part of this man's life.

India Governor, 86, Resigns After 3-Woman Sex Tape

HYDERABAD, India (AP) -- The 86-year-old governor of a southern Indian state resigned, a day after a television news channel broadcast a tape allegedly showing him in bed with three women.

Pressure mounted on Gov. Narain Dutt Tiwari to quit after the tape allegedly showing him in bed with three women was broadcast Friday, prompting the opposition and women's right groups to hold street protests in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh's state capital, demanding his resignation.

Tiwari's office denied the allegation, denouncing the tape as fabricated.

Tiwari, a veteran governing Congress party leader at the national level, sent his resignation letter to the Indian president on Saturday, citing health reasons, a state official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

''The news channel report is fabricated, false and malicious to tarnish the image of the governor,'' said a statement issued by Aryendra Sharma, an aide to the governor.

The three women were brought to Hyderabad by another woman who was allegedly promised a mining lease by the governor in return for sexual favors, ABN Andhra Jyoti News reported.

The woman said she decided to expose Tiwari through a sting operation after he did not keep his promise, the channel said.

A court stopped the channel from broadcasting the tape again later Friday after a petition filed by Sharma, who argued the video was ''likely to demean and denigrate his office.''

Tiwari earlier served as the top elected official of northern Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand states and as a federal minister.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We Have New Shovels

Building and repairing bridges and roads once created powerful images of strong people, mostly men, at work. But the days of putting men against concrete and steel to revitalize the economy are past. Gone forever. The highway system links every part of the nation and bridges cross every river and gorge, which means all the important work was done long ago. It's time to tackle new projects focused on less visible pathways.

Put Down That Shovel!

Forget old-fashioned infrastructure. Here are six government projects to foster a lasting economic recovery.

More infrastructure? Recycling Great Depression-era projects is lame. My advice? Put down that shovel! It's time to try something else.

We're in a knowledge economy now; we use high-tech tools to efficiently and effectively design, make, market and sell. Building roads and bridges willy-nilly won't make us more productive; and without increases in productivity and the associated corporate profits, there can be no sustainable job creation, no increase in standards of living, and no real economic recovery.

Given that real tax cuts are off the table and a new stimulus (even if it isn't called that) is inevitable, the best we can hope for is to use the power of the government to clear a path that private enterprise can't, via one-off projects that end and disband. Stop thinking concrete and massive construction projects. Think small—photons, electrons and proteins. Here are six ideas:

• Climb poles for wireless. Every street light in the country can be fitted with a wireless access point. Lots of companies, including Google, have tried to roll this out. But dealing with thousands of state and local governments to get access to poles and power is a nightmare. A stroke of the pen can create the Local Wireless Corps, with unfettered access to street lamps, telephone poles and utility sheds to create a massive wireless network to deliver Internet access—10 megabit, even 50 megabit speeds—to both homes and next generation mobile phones. AT&T and Verizon will complain about the competition, but so what—they're hardly hiring.

• Dig fiber ditches. Even faster wireless is too slow. If, as the Federal Communications Commission states, broadband is a priority, let's open up the right of way to a Local Fiber Corps to lay fiber-optic strands to every one of the 120 million U.S. residences (even the 10 million empty ones). The goal is gigabit speeds. It's attainable now. New applications like YouTube are bandwidth hogs. It's hard even to imagine the types of applications possible in a 100 meg or gigabit per second speed world. The only one way to find out? Build it.

Then sell the fiber along with the wireless lamp posts to the highest bidders. More than one in each town will keep competition alive. And with so much bandwidth, arguments over things like network neutrality will magically disappear.

• Sequence proteins. In 1971, Richard Nixon declared a $100 million campaign to find the cure for cancer. We spend 5,000 times that much every year treating the disease. We may not be able to cure cancer, but we can find it much earlier when treatments are simple.

Scientists today shove cancer samples into mass spectrometers, in order to identify unique proteins for tens of thousands of types of cancer. The goal is that some day we can all be screened for those proteins as early warning signals. With so many college graduates among the unemployed this cycle, 100,000 of them can dust off their knowledge of biology and we could sequence every known cancer type for $50 billion. Medicare would save two to three times that much each year on cancer treatment due to early detection.

• Lighten backpacks. My son's backpack is 20 pounds. And he's only in the fourth grade. My high school son's backpack is even heavier, loaded with textbooks and cans of Red Bull to keep him attentive as his teachers drone on. A Textbook Corps can scan these books, put them on a reader like the Amazon Kindle, link them to high-tech projectors called SmartBoards that are going into many schools. We can instantly change education, not to mention saving many sprained backs.

• Scan medical records. The administration has talked about the time and money this would save, but doctors, hospitals and insurance companies don't want to go through the expense and hassle of digitizing all of our records. Only the feds, threatening to withhold Medicare payments until digitization takes place, could ram this through. Workers would knock on the door of every doctor's office, armed with scanners and Web software.

• Require TOU meters. It's funny how the "I don't work for the electric company" trick to get our kids to turn off lights has morphed into kids shaming parents into "saving the planet." Yet we still pay flat rates, though utilities need to build plants for peak periods, usually summers from 2-5 p.m.

With price signals, households would shift electrical usage to cheaper times. The technology is starting to roll out (with some stimulus money) in the form of Time of Use (TOU) meters replacing those ugly glass bulbs with spinning disks. Coupled with wireless in-house devices that show appliance electrical usage in real time and clever software at utilities, I'd bet peak usage would drop 30% and educate a million workers on the workings of the future smart electric grid. Beats subsidies for caulking windows.

For a $14 trillion economy, each 1% in productivity is $140 billion of additional output. Forget roads and bridges and shovels. It's a virtual infrastructure of ubiquitous bandwidth and digitized information that will require permanent workers and create a sustainable growth economy, a lot faster than shovels.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Will Jimmy Carter Ever Shut Up and Go Away?

Jimmy Carter, the well known anti-Semitic gasbag ex-president, has a grandson who is running for political office. Much to his grandson's misfortune, a number of voters in his district are Jewish, and there are a lot of reasons those Jewish voters will conclude the anti-Semitic apple falls close to the anti-Semitic apple tree.

Carter's anti-Semitism is so deeply ingrained in his nature -- evidenced by his horrifying mis-management of the 444-day Iran Hostage episode that cost him his presidency followed by his book titled "Peace, not Apartheid" -- that even if he admitted his hatred for Jews and begged for their forgiveness, those motions would look like the kind of religious theater that defines him and his peers. He's like Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Like Jimmy Swaggert. He's Jimmy Carter, another laying-on-of-hands tent revivalist who wants to sell voters on his grandson.

Ex-President Carter offers apology to Jews

Dec 23, 8:28 PM (ET)

ATLANTA - Former President Jimmy Carter apologized for any words or deeds that may have upset the Jewish community in an open letter meant to improve an often-tense relationship.

He said he was offering an Al Het, a prayer said on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It signifies a plea for forgiveness.

"We must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel," Carter said in the letter, which was first sent to JTA, a wire service for Jewish newspapers, and provided Wednesday to The Associated Press. "As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so."

Carter, who during his presidency brokered the first Israeli-Arab peace treaty, outraged many Jews with his 2006 book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Critics contend he unfairly compared Israeli treatment of Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza to the legalized racial oppression that once existed in South Africa.

Israeli leaders have also shunned him over his journey to Gaza to meet with Hamas, considered a terror group by the U.S., the European Union and Israel.

Carter's apology was welcomed by Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a vocal critic of Carter's views on Israel.

"When a former president reaches out to the Jewish community and asks for forgiveness, it's incumbent of us to accept it," he said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem. "To what extent this is an epiphany, only time will tell. There certainly was a lot of hurt, a lot of angry words that need to be repaired. But this is a good start."

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee could not immediately be reached for comment.

The letter comes weeks after his grandson, Jason Carter, said he would run for a Georgia state Senate seat being vacated by President Barack Obama's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore. If David Adelman is confirmed as ambassador in January, Jason Carter will be a candidate in a March special election in the northeast Atlanta district.

Jason Carter, who is running in a district with a vocal Jewish population, said in a statement that his grandfather's letter was unrelated to his campaign and hailed the apology as a "great step towards reconciliation."

President Carter's letter said he hopes bloodshed and hatred will yield to mutual respect and cooperation between Israel and its neighbors. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has long said bringing peace to the Middle East remains one of his unfulfilled goals.

In a recent appearance at Emory University, he said if he had one more day as president he would use it to bring the "full weight of the White House" to the peace process.

"That's what I'd do with my one day in the White House," he said. "Bring peace to Israel and its neighbors."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

California Sun Block

You knew this had to happen. Mandates for transitioning from oil to solar and wind power were established. After the cheering subsided, a little reality began to appear. It oges like this.

First, angry voters demand a reduction in the use of oil and gas, doing everything they can imagine to stop the drilling, tranporting, refining and marketing of hydrocarbon products.

The angry voters claim that solar power and wind power can replace the power that would have generated with oil, gas or coal. They repeat the same old song about how sunlight and wind are free. Okay. But oil, gas and coal are also free.

Yeah, but drilling for oil, gas and coal creates a mess on the ground. Well, not any longer. The energy companies are good at minimizing the eye-sores of drilling sites. On the other hand, if you want to capture the free sunlight, you have to cover vast tracts of land with solar collectors, and it is essential to put the collectors in the sunniest spots.

Okay. But the sunniest place in the country is the Mojave Desert. And, as we now know, there is no chance that politicians will allow energy companies to cover the Mojave Desert with solar collectors.

Thus, the government that mandated the use of alternative energy has now blocked efforts to meet that goal.

That's great news for oil & gas and coal companies. It's also great news for consumers.

Desert Vistas vs. Solar Power

AMBOY, Calif. — Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation in Congress on Monday to protect a million acres of the Mojave Desert in California by scuttling some 13 big solar plants and wind farms planned for the region.

But before the bill to create two new Mojave national monuments has even had its first hearing, the California Democrat has largely achieved her aim. Regardless of the legislation’s fate, her opposition means that few if any power plants are likely to be built in the monument area, a complication in California’s effort to achieve its aggressive goals for renewable energy.

Developers of the projects have already postponed several proposals or abandoned them entirely. The California agency charged with planning a renewable energy transmission grid has rerouted proposed power lines to avoid the monument.

“The very existence of the monument proposal has certainly chilled development within its boundaries,” said Karen Douglas, chairwoman of the California Energy Commission.

For Mrs. Feinstein, creation of the Mojave national monuments would make good on a promise by the government a decade ago to protect desert land donated by an environmental group that had acquired the property from the Catellus Development Corporation.

“The Catellus lands were purchased with nearly $45 million in private funds and $18 million in federal funds and donated to the federal government for the purpose of conservation, and that commitment must be upheld. Period,” Mrs. Feinstein said in a statement.

The federal government made a competing commitment in 2005, though, when President George W. Bush ordered that renewable energy production be accelerated on public lands, including the Catellus holdings. The Obama administration is trying to balance conservation demands with its goal of radically increasing solar and wind generation by identifying areas suitable for large-scale projects across the West.

Mrs. Feinstein heads the Senate subcommittee that oversees the budget of the Interior Department, giving her substantial clout over that agency, which manages the government’s landholdings. Her intervention in the Mojave means it will be more difficult for California utilities to achieve a goal, set by the state, of obtaining a third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020; projects in the monument area could have supplied a substantial portion of that power.

“This is arguably the best solar land in the world, and Senator Feinstein shouldn’t be allowed to take this land off the table without a proper and scientific environmental review,” said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmentalist and a partner with a venture capital firm that invested in a solar developer called BrightSource Energy. In September, BrightSource canceled a large project in the monument area.

Union officials, power industry executives, regulators and some environmentalists have also expressed concern about the impact of the monument legislation, but few would speak publicly for fear of antagonizing one of California’s most powerful politicians.

Not only is the desert land some of the sunniest in the country, and thus suitable for large-scale power production, it is also some of the most scenic territory in the West. The Mojave lands have sweeping vistas of an ancient landscape that is home to desert tortoises, bighorn sheep, fringe-toed lizards and other rare animals and plants.

As conflicts over building solar farms in the Mojave escalated earlier this year, Mrs. Feinstein trekked to the desert in April. The senator’s caravan, including the heads of two of the nation’s largest utilities, top energy regulators and a group of environmentalists, bumped along a dirt track and pulled up to a wind-whipped tent. Inside, executives with a Goldman Sachs-owned developer waited to make their case for building two multibillion-dollar solar power plants.

The presentation over, the entourage rolled on to the next solar project site to hear the developer’s pitch. Mrs. Feinstein gave the developers a hearing but was not moved by their arguments, according to five people present on the tour. The senator seemed concerned about the visual effect of huge solar farms on Route 66, the highway that runs through the Mojave, they said.

“When we attended the onsite desert meeting with Senator Feinstein, it was clear she was very serious about this,” said Gary Palo, vice president for development with Cogentrix Energy, a solar developer owned by Goldman Sachs. “It would make no sense for us politically or practically to go forward with those projects.”

Another project, a huge 12,000-acre solar farm by Tessera Solar, was canceled last week, and the company cited Mrs. Feinstein’s opposition.

“Unfortunately, Senator Feinstein wants to wall off a large part of the desert based on historical land ownership rather than science,” said Marc D. Joseph, a lawyer for California Unions for Reliable Energy. “It seems the wrong approach to where solar should go and where it shouldn’t go.”

John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies in Sacramento, said, “if you take a million acres off the table, what are you going to replace it with?”

Monday, December 21, 2009

Venezuela, Where Capitalists are Criminals

How do Chavez and his Justice Minister, Tareck El Aissami, conclude that capitalists and capitalism are at the core of Venezuela's crime problem? That's the real mystery.

However, there are problems. The population of the country is 27 million. According to the article, in the first 11 months of 2009 there were 12,257 murders. At that rate the total for the year will hit 13,370.

Consider the following. The US population is 307 million, and this year the US will probably record about 16,000 homicides. Thus the US has 11 times the population of Venezuela, but almost the same number of murders. Most Americans are capitalists. Or at least the believe capitalism is a good thing. However, those who commit murder in the US are rarely capitalists. If they have an economic philosophy -- like drug dealers -- it is a philosophy that suggests they are monopolists. Not competitive capitalists. But brutal monopolists who believe in overwhelming force rather than product quality.

Chavez and his loony supporters are going down the path of monopolism. State monopolies. As always, they are or will become fat slobbering bureaucracies that accomplish nothing while operations languish.

It appears the justice minister is a muslim. That's another indication that incompetence will expand its hold on the machinery of government.

At this point oil accounts for about a third of Venezuelan GDP, about 90% of export earnings and about 50% of government revenue. The nation's dependence on oil will be its undoing as its government oil bureaucracy becomes less and less effective and nothing else in the Venezuelan economy emerges to offset the loss of oil revenue.

Venezuela's Chavez launches new police force

Sun Dec 20, 7:44 pm ET

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez launched a federal police force on Sunday that he hopes will change the overwhelmingly negative image most Venezuelans have of their public security forces while reducing crime in one of Latin America's most violent countries.

"We are going to defeat crime," Chavez told uniformed cadets belonging to the newly formed National Bolivarian Police Force during his weekly television and radio show. "We are tackling one of our population's most sensitive problems: crime prevention."

Chavez greeted and shook hands with the officers before they began patrolling in Catia, one of the most dangerous districts of Caracas.

The 950-agent force will initially operate in the capital's most crime-ridden neighborhoods, but the government plans to boost the number of officers to 6,000 and extend its reach beyond Caracas by the end of next year.

Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said the nascent police force would seek to reduce crime through preventative rather than repressive measures and embrace the socialist ideals of Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution," a political movement named after 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar.

"The National Police will impose a culture of peace in the barrios to eliminate the violence of the capitalist, bourgeois model that we've inherited," El Aissami said.

Armed robbery, kidnapping and murder are widespread in this poverty-stricken South American country, and polls consistently show that most Venezuelans view violent crime as the nation's most pressing problem.

Police figures released by the Justice Ministry show there were 12,257 homicides nationwide in the first 11 months of 2009 — more than eight times higher than in Texas, which has roughly the same population as Venezuela.

Venezuelans are generally distrustful of the country's police. Many citizens were not surprised when El Aissami revealed earlier this month that police are involved in 15 to 20 percent of all crimes, particularly kidnapping and murder.

In its annual report released this month, the local Provea human rights groups said police were responsible for more than 200 slayings over the last year, including 55 people who died of excessive force or torture.

"You can't trust them because you don't know if they're honest or not," said Gabriela Silva, a 34-year-old street vendor.

Silva repeated a joke that some Caracas residents tell visitors: "If you get robbed, don't shout. The police might come."

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Copenhagen -- Confederacy of Dictators

Chavez, Mugabe and others are in Copenhagen to talk about the political weather. Not the rain in Spain falling mainly on the plain.

One of the more amusing ideas was creating a system of payments to those who spare the lives of trees in the world's rainforests. An extortion fund. The thugs controlling rainforests will say "send us money or we will cut down these trees!"

Putting our economy in the hands of Chavez fans

Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 10:34am

These maniacs in Copenhagen are voting on your future:

President Chavez brought the house down.

When he said the process in Copenhagen was “not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn’t that the reality of our world, the world is really and imperial dictatorship…down with imperial dictatorships” he got a rousing round of applause.

When he said there was a “silent and terrible ghost in the room” and that ghost was called capitalism, the applause was deafening.

But then he wound up to his grand conclusion – 20 minutes after his 5 minute speaking time was supposed to have ended and after quoting everyone from Karl Marx to Jesus Christ - “our revolution seeks to help all people…socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that’s the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell....let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.” He won a standing ovation.


And at the end of this first clip, Chavez rouses the rabble with more anti-Americanism, too:

I don’t think Obama is here yet. He got the Nobel Peace Prize almost the same day as he sent 30,000 soldiers to kill innocent people in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Allah gets the Boot

Finally. Some good news!

Indiana School Removes 'Allah' From Holiday Show After Protests

Monday, December 14, 2009

An elementary school in Indiana reportedly removed a mention of Allah in its holiday show after protests from a national conservative Christian group.

Lantern Road Elementary Principal Danielle Thompson told that school officials in Fishers, Ind., attempted to teach inclusiveness through the second-grade program that included portions on Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Las Posadas and Kwanzaa.

"It went off last night without a hitch," Thompson told the Web site. "Several families thought it was a nice program."

Thompson said officials removed the phrase "Allah is God," however, after the American Family Association complained about the program on its electronic newsletter. The alteration was made because no other deities were named in the program.

Shariq Siddiqui, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, told the Web site that the decision to remove the word Allah was most certainly not inclusive.

"It's unfortunate if that was removed from the program just because of Islamophobic feelings," Siddiqui told the Web site. "Schools are a place where we should learn more about each other rather than exclude each other based on stereotypes and misconceptions."

Siddiqui said "Allah" is the Arabic word for God and is used by Jews, Christians and others in Arabic-speaking nations.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Brave New World -- Cap and Trade

The idea is catching on. Again. Too many people. At first, when British Economist Thomas Malthus claimed -- in 1800 -- the world's population was getting too big to feed, the worry-warts and Chicken Littles were driven by fears of commodity shortages. That idea was a total failure.

Now the worry-warts and Chicken Littles are back with another idea. Instead of claiming there is not enough good stuff to go IN the bodies of the world's population, they have decided there is too much bad stuff coming OUT. The bad stuff is coming out of human bodies as well as coming out of all the mechanisms and devices that humans use to maintain life.

Thus, the people who want to lead the Brave New World have realized that if we want to reduce the emissions of the bad stuff, the direct way is to cap or reduce the number of humans. Fewer humans, fewer problematic emissions.

Or. Maybe. Perhaps we can apply the Cap & Trade Program in an innovative way. Let's cap the number of humans and trade them. Fewer bad energy-consuming humans, anyway. The US would come out the big winner. We have 307 million people who are big energy consumers. That's bad. They've got to go. Trade them away as fast as possible and bring in a population that needs little or no man-made energy.

An examination of low-energy consuming populations leads first to Africa, where the people of many countries live at a subsistence level, where direct sunlight is the primary source of energy. There are about 800 million people living in Africa. But, in total, they consume a small fraction of the energy used by Americans. The African carbon footprint is almost too small to measure.

Next to Africa, the next low-impact area is the middle east. However, in total, the world's muslim nations are home to about a billion people. Those billion receive little to nothing from the utility companies that operate in their regions for limited hours of the day. Fortunately, there is virtually no inventiveness or innovation in the middle east. Thus, there is no likelihood of anyone developing or manufacturing energy-consuming or energy-converting devices. We need a lot of those people here.

Based on my rough estimates, if all Americans were traded to countries around the globe and were replaced by all the people in Africa and all the people in the middle east -- except the Israelis -- US energy consumption would drop by at least 75%.

Population control called key to deal

By Li Xing (China Daily)

COPENHAGEN: Population and climate change are intertwined but the population issue has remained a blind spot when countries discuss ways to mitigate climate change and slow down global warming, according to Zhao Baige, vice-minister of National Population and Family Planning Commission of China (NPFPC) .

"Dealing with climate change is not simply an issue of CO2 emission reduction but a comprehensive challenge involving political, economic, social, cultural and ecological issues, and the population concern fits right into the picture," said Zhao, who is a member of the Chinese government delegation.

Many studies link population growth with emissions and the effect of climate change.

"Calculations of the contribution of population growth to emissions growth globally produce a consistent finding that most of past population growth has been responsible for between 40 per cent and 60 percent of emissions growth," so stated by the 2009 State of World Population, released earlier by the UN Population Fund.

Although China's family planning policy has received criticism over the past three decades, Zhao said that China's population program has made a great historic contribution to the well-being of society.

As a result of the family planning policy, China has seen 400 million fewer births, which has resulted in 18 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions a year, Zhao said.

The UN report projected that if the global population would remain 8 billion by the year 2050 instead of a little more than 9 billion according to medium-growth scenario, "it might result in 1 billion to 2 billion fewer tons of carbon emissions".

Meanwhile, she said studies have also shown that family planning programs are more efficient in helping cut emissions, citing research by Thomas Wire of London School of Economics that states: "Each $7 spent on basic family planning would reduce CO2 emissions by more than one ton" whereas it would cost $13 for reduced deforestation, $24 to use wind technology, $51 for solar power, $93 for introducing hybrid cars and $131 electric vehicles.

She admitted that China's population program is not without consequences, as the country is entering the aging society fast and facing the problem of gender imbalance.

"I'm not saying that what we have done is 100 percent right, but I'm sure we are going in the right direction and now 1.3 billion people have benefited," she said.

She said some 85 percent of the Chinese women in reproductive age use contraceptives, the highest rate in the world. This has been achieved largely through education and improvement of people's lives, she said.

This holistic approach that integrates policy on population and development, a strategy promoting sustainable development of population, resources and environment should serve as a model for integrating population programs into the framework of climate change adaptation, she said.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Muhammad -- Mad Bomber

Muhammad is the clown who has inspired suicide bombers for the last 30 years. That is an amazing feat for a 7th-century schizophrenic.

Muhammad: The 'Banned' Images

Gary Hull - Dec 9, 2009

For many decades now, Western intellectuals and politicians have cowed to threats of violence from Islamic radicals. Today we must all take a stand for freedom of speech and reasoned discourse.

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Gary Hull's new book Muhammad: The “Banned” Images. Learn more about the book at

In August 2009, a New York Times headline announced: “Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammad In New Book.” The book referred to in this headline, The Cartoons that Shook the World by Brandeis professor Jytte Klausen, discusses the events around the cartoons of Muhammad that were published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005. After their publication, sundry Muslim hordes “expressed” their displeasure by rioting, looting, firebombing.

Yale University Press, claiming it did not want to stoke more violence abroad, removed the cartoons, along with other images of Muhammad, that are the very subject of Klausen’s book. Its press renounced the very principles it depends on for its survival — the First Amendment and reasoned discourse — to placate the riotous behavior of nihilists.

The West has a decades-long track record of appeasing and emboldening terrorists. It started in the 1950s when the U.S. allowed Iran to confiscate Western oil.

In 1979, President Carter redoubled the appeasement by capitulating when the Islamic regime in Iran kidnapped U.S. diplomats and called for jihad against the U.S. The West submitted again in 1989 when Khomeini issued a fatwa that declared “blasphemous” Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.

Islamists terrorized many Western bookstores into not carrying the book. President Bush, Sr. did nothing. And here are the consequences.

In the spring 1989, some Collets and Dillons bookstores that carried the novel were bombed. Bombs were discovered at numerous other bookstores. Two bookstores in Berkeley, California were firebombed. In July 1991, the Japanese translator of the novel was stabbed to death at his university in Tokyo. In 1993, the novel’s publisher in Norway, William Nygaard, was shot. In July that year, 37 Alevi intellectuals were burned to death in a hotel that was hosting a conference being attended by another translator of Rushdie’s novel.

In November 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered while riding his bicycle to work. He was considered a blasphemer because his movie Submission portrayed Muslim women being brutalized by Islamists.

Inaction by Western leaders encouraged the Islamists’ assault on free speech and reasoned discourse. Public endorsement gave them a moral sanction.

Shortly after the publication of the Danish cartoons in 2005, a spokesman for the State Department said that “Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.” While in Qatar, Bill Clinton described the cartoons as “these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam.” British Foreign secretary Jack Straw outdid Neville Chamberlain: “I believe that the republication of these cartoons has been unnecessary. It has been insensitive. It has been disrespectful and it has been wrong.”

Rather than being denounced for acting like barbarians, the marauders were told that they have a moral right to feel aggrieved. And aggrieved they acted. The Danish journalists and cartoonists were terrorized. Numerous embassies in Syria were attacked and set on fire. There were violent demonstrations in Denmark. Churches were torched, and hundreds around the world were killed in riots.

The destruction of life and property, the violence to reasoned discourse and civilized behavior are the result of a long chain of events, and could have been avoided if both the Iranian hostage-taking and the Khomeini fatwa had been treated by the West as the declarations of war that in fact they were.

Iran, the world’s greatest state-sponsor of terrorism, should have been dealt with accordingly. As should have been the September 11 attacks, in which almost 3,000 Americans were murdered.

Instead, the West has engaged in eight years of mealy-mouthed policy statements (with the most outrageous being Bush’s statement that Islam is “a religion of peace”), tiptoeing around theocrats, pleading with the U.N., misdirected and anemic military responses (with the biggest joke being a protracted “war” in Afghanistan). Meanwhile, the orchestrators of world-wide terrorism in Iran remain untouched, growing more belligerent and powerful.

Tragically, the Obama presidency is even more appeasing than were previous administrations. The President saw fit to comment on an insignificant conflict between a policeman and a university professor at Harvard, but remained silent when Yale mauled the First Amendment.

A president who understands his responsibilities to the Constitution should use his moral authority to encourage Yale to publish the book in its entirety. Rather than using his power to berate American businessmen, he should denounce the pillagers of our freedoms.

He should state publicly that Yale — its employees, property, faculty, and students — will be protected fully by every security agency under his authority. And that if a foreign leader so much as mentions the words “fatwa” and “Yale” in the same sentence, that country will have three days to surrender unconditionally — or face, not the umpteenth U.N. resolution, but the righteous and unrestrained use of America’s armed forces.

George Washington warned that “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

Ours is becoming a self-inflicted dumbness and silence — not “taken away,” but rather given away by those who are ashamed of everything that free speech stands for.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Fiction Of Climate Science

It has been said that it is always possible to sell more books and articles about Abraham Lincoln, Diets, and Doom & Gloom. A few decades ago the Doom coming our way was coming as a cold spell. Nuclear Winter. Then there was the Population Bomb. Mathusian arguments predicting shortages due to the overwhelming number of humans consuming declining quantities of vital resources always kicks up the blood pressure and anxiety of millions of Americans. We are still at it. Nothing new under the Sun.

Why the climatologists get it wrong.

Many of you are too young to remember, but in 1975 our government pushed "the coming ice age."

Random House dutifully printed "THE WEATHER CONSPIRACY … coming of the New Ice Age." This may be the only book ever written by 18 authors. All 18 lived just a short sled ride from Washington, D.C. Newsweek fell in line and did a cover issue warning us of global cooling on April 28, 1975. And The New York Times, Aug. 14, 1976, reported "many signs that Earth may be headed for another ice age."

OK, you say, that's media. But what did our rational scientists say?

In 1974, the National Science Board announced: "During the last 20 to 30 years, world temperature has fallen, irregularly at first but more sharply over the last decade. Judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high temperatures should be drawing to an end…leading into the next ice age."

You can't blame these scientists for sucking up to the fed's mantra du jour. Scientists live off grants. Remember how Galileo recanted his preaching about the earth revolving around the sun? He, of course, was about to be barbecued by his leaders. Today's scientists merely lose their cash flow. Threats work.

In 2002 I stood in a room of the Smithsonian. One entire wall charted the cooling of our globe over the last 60 million years. This was no straight line. The curve had two steep dips followed by leveling. There were no significant warming periods. Smithsonian scientists inscribed it across some 20 feet of plaster, with timelines.

Last year, I went back. That fresco is painted over. The same curve hides behind smoked glass, shrunk to three feet but showing the same cooling trend. Hey, why should the Smithsonian put its tax-free status at risk? If the politicians decide to whip up public fear in a different direction, get with it, oh ye subsidized servants. Downplay that embarrassing old chart and maybe nobody will notice.

Sorry, I noticed.

It's the job of elected officials to whip up panic. They then get re-elected. Their supporters fall in line.

Al Gore thought he might ride his global warming crusade back toward the White House. If you saw his movie, which opened showing cattle on his farm, you start to understand how shallow this is. The United Nations says that cattle, farting and belching methane, create more global warming than all the SUVs in the world. Even more laughably, Al and his camera crew flew first class for that film, consuming 50% more jet fuel per seat-mile than coach fliers, while his Tennessee mansion sucks as much carbon as 20 average homes.

His PR folks say he's "carbon neutral" due to some trades. I'm unsure of how that works, but, maybe there's a tribe in the Sudan that cannot have a campfire for the next hundred years to cover Al's energy gluttony. I'm just not sophisticated enough to know how that stuff works. But I do understand he flies a private jet when the camera crew is gone.

The fall of Saigon in the '70s may have distracted the shrill pronouncements about the imminent ice age. Science's prediction of "A full-blown, 10,000 year ice age," came from its March 1, 1975 issue. The Christian Science Monitor observed that armadillos were retreating south from Nebraska to escape the "global cooling" in its Aug. 27, 1974 issue.

That armadillo caveat seems reminiscent of today's tales of polar bears drowning due to glaciers disappearing.

While scientists march to the drumbeat of grant money, at least trees don't lie. Their growth rings show what's happened no matter which philosophy is in power. Tree rings show a mini ice age in Europe about the time Stradivarius crafted his violins. Chilled Alpine Spruce gave him tighter wood so the instruments sang with a new purity. But England had to give up the wines that the Romans cultivated while our globe cooled, switching from grapes to colder weather grains and learning to take comfort with beer, whisky and ales.

Yet many centuries earlier, during a global warming, Greenland was green. And so it stayed and was settled by Vikings for generations until global cooling came along. Leif Ericsson even made it to Newfoundland. His shallow draft boats, perfect for sailing and rowing up rivers to conquer villages, wouldn't have stood a chance against a baby iceberg.

Those sustained temperature swings, all before the evil economic benefits of oil consumption, suggest there are factors at work besides humans.

Today, as I peck out these words, the weather channel is broadcasting views of a freakish and early snow falling on Dallas. The Iowa state extension service reports that the record corn crop expected this year will have unusually large kernels, thanks to "relatively cool August and September temperatures." And on Jan. 16, 2007, NPR went politically incorrect, briefly, by reporting that "An unusually harsh winter frost, the worst in 20 years, killed much of the California citrus, avocados and flower crops."

To be fair, those reports are short-term swings. But the longer term changes are no more compelling, unless you include the ice ages, and then, perhaps, the panic attempts of the 1970s were right. Is it possible that if we put more CO2 in the air, we'd forestall the next ice age?

I can ask "outrageous" questions like that because I'm not dependent upon government money for my livelihood. From the witch doctors of old to the elected officials today, scaring the bejesus out of the populace maintains their status.

Sadly, the public just learned that our scientific community hid data and censored critics. Maybe the feds should drop this crusade and focus on our health care crisis. They should, of course, ignore the life insurance statistics that show every class of American and both genders are living longer than ever. That's another inconvenient fact.

Labels: ,

Frank Capra -- Why We Fight

Most of us know or have heard that Frank Capra was a movie man connected to the making of "It's A Wonderful Life." Some know he made some documentary films for the US Military around the World War II years. One of his films, "Why We Fight" is probably the best. One segment, titled "Prelude to War," won an Oscar.

In this film, a popular Japanese slogan appears. It says "To Die for the Emperor is to Live Forever."

Sounds eerily similar to the Islamic belief that dying in a suicide bombing in which non-muslims are murdered is an act that will earn the killer more sexual opportunity in an eternal paradise than even Tiger Woods can imagine.

Unfortunately, our president is doing his best to protect the leaders of the muslim terrorists most determined to destroy the US, the West and Israel.

Labels: , , , , ,

Dr. Climatology -- Or How We Learned to Stop Worrying About Real Problems Killing People NOW and Love the Imaginary

If Climatology has accomplished anything, it has put peoples heads in the clouds. Rather than solve problems plaguing billions of people around the world TODAY, Climatology has led people to ignore the present to focus on some distant future that will never arrive. Quite a trick. But, that's the essense of religious belief. We are now living the movie.

Global Warming and Mt. Kilimanjaro
The glaciers on the famous peak, receding for more than a century, attract many tourists; the people of Tanzania attract much less attention..


Climate change has captured the attention of politicians around the world. The following article is part of a series, leading up to the United Nations conference on global warming in Copenhagen that starts this week, on how ordinary people in different countries view the issue:

Every year, more than 10,000 tourists are drawn to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, driven in no small part by the fear that the mountain's magnificent ice will soon melt.

Mary Thomas lives not far from their path, on the southwestern slopes of that mountain, but tourists do not come to her town of Mungushi.

At 45, Mrs. Thomas is a widow. Her husband died of complications from HIV/AIDS; she too was diagnosed as HIV positive. "When my husband's family found out that I had HIV, they isolated me and took my house," she told a Copenhagen Consensus researcher in June. "Before I got HIV I never expected to live like this and be so poor. I had a good house and food on the table and I was living a good life."

Today, Mrs. Thomas lives in a small, two-room house with no electricity. The toilet is a hole in the ground outside the house. Her three children, all HIV negative, have been taken away by relatives. She worries about their care after her death.

She has heard talk of melting ice on Mount Kilimanjaro, and she has noticed less snow and rain and drier conditions since she was a child. "It worries me."

This, according to climate groups, is a critical and urgent problem. Greenpeace warns there could be no ice left on the mountain within just eight years. "This is the price we pay if climate change is allowed to go unchecked," warns the group.

Climate activists claim the receding ice is evidence of the need for developed countries to reduce carbon output. Actually, the glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro have been receding since 1890, according to research by G. Kaser, et al., published in the International Journal of Climatology (2004). They note that when Ernest Hemingway published "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in 1936, the mountain had already lost more than half its surface ice area in the previous 56 years. This is more than it has lost in the 70 years since.

According to this study, and another published in Geophysical Research Letters (2006) by N.J. Kullen, et al., the reason the ice is disappearing is not warming temperatures, but a shift around 1880 toward drier climates. What we see today is a hangover from that climactic shift.

Even if some of their claims are questionable, climate activists have managed to promote local tourism and have done a great job at bringing the world's attention to the mountain's glaciers. But they are doing a poor job at bringing attention to the actual people of Tanzania.

For Mrs. Thomas, arguments over the state of the ice are irrelevant. When she was asked by a Copenhagen Consensus Center researcher what donors and the Tanzanian government should do, she doesn't think for long. "Education is the first priority," she says, "and it should provide proper understanding of HIV and reduce the stigma. The next priority is micro-finance so people can have the chance to become self-reliant."

As she puts it, "There is no need for ice on the mountain if there is no people around because of HIV/AIDS."

Labels: ,

Bolivia's New Old Drug -- Lithium

Despite the belief that Lithium from Bolivia will fund the prosperity that has by-passed this nation since the dawn of time, prosperity will remain out of reach. However, when the psychological depression of this realization hits hardest, the pharmaceutical companies that produce lithium-based drugs to ease the emotional impact of more bad luck will be available. The country will undoubtedly remain in an economic depression. But it might escape the psychological pit of despair.

Meanwhile, to suggest that Bolivia might become the Saudi Arabia of Lithium is to suggest that many undesirable changes will result from the windfall many expect from selling Lithium to the world's battery makers.

Lithium for 4.8 Billion Electric Cars Lets Bolivia Upset Market

Dec. 7 -- The wind whips across a 3,900-square- mile expanse of salt on a desert plateau in Bolivia’s Andes Mountains. Plastic washtubs filled with an emerald-colored liquid rich in lithium dot the Uyuni Salt Flat, all the way to the volcanoes on the horizon.

Waist-high slabs of salt are piled around a pond that’s shimmering in the sun. Francisco Quisbert, an Indian peasant leader known as Comrade Lithium, sits inside a crumbling adobe building on the edge of the desert. He’s explaining how Bolivia, South America’s second-poorest country, will supply the world with lithium, which will be used in batteries that power electric cars.

“We have this dream,” Quisbert, 65, says. “Lithium could bring us prosperity.”

The world’s largest untapped lithium reserve -- containing enough of the lightest metal to make batteries for more than 4.8 billion electric cars -- sits just below Quisbert’s feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The automobile industry plans to introduce dozens of electric models with lithium batteries in the next three years. Bolivian President Evo Morales says his country can become one of the world’s biggest suppliers of lithium, making the nation of 10 million people a major player in the drive to cut the use of fossil fuels.

Even with its massive reserves, Bolivia has never built a lithium mine.

‘Lithium Is the Hope’

“Lithium is the hope not only for Bolivia but for all the people on the planet,” says Morales, who, according to polls, was probably elected to a second term in elections yesterday.

If Morales gets his way, he will upset a market now controlled by two publicly traded companies: Princeton, New Jersey-based Rockwood Holdings Inc., which is 29 percent owned by Henry Kravis’s KKR & Co., and Santiago-based Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, or Soquimich.

These two companies produce about 70 percent of the world’s low-cost lithium from a salt flat in Chile, just across the Andes from Bolivia.

Investors are wooing President Morales to be partners in building a Bolivian mine. French billionaire Vincent Bollore, South Korea’s LG Corp. and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. offered to join with Morales in the project. They’re already helping the government at no cost to design the mine.

So far, Morales has rebuffed outside investment, saying he wants to keep lithium in government hands to provide local Indians with jobs. Morales says he may change his mind if Bolivia can’t raise the $800 million it would cost for construction of a mine and processing plants.

‘Like Saudi Arabia’

“If the Bolivian state had the money, it would invest it,” he says. “If the state doesn’t have cash, then we’re going to look for investment.”

Quisbert, the orphaned son of a llama herder, helped persuade Morales in 2007 to pledge $6 million to start work on what could be the largest lithium mine in the world by 2014, says Saul Villegas, who oversees lithium reserves at state-owned mining company Corporacion Minera de Bolivia. Bolivia has 35 percent of the world’s lithium resources, according to the USGS.

“Bolivia could become like Saudi Arabia,” says Gabriel Torres, an economist for Moody’s Investors ­Service Inc. in New York. “It has a huge amount of the world’s reserves.”

Carmakers are betting that electric vehicles built to run on lithium batteries will help the industry recover from its worst crisis in three decades. U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is providing $11 billion in loans and grants to car and battery makers to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

Labels: , , ,

Muslim Killer on Campus

The university president called the murder "a senseless act of violence." More likely the killing made complete sense to the killer, a muslim who killed his comparative religion professor. No doubt the professor foolishly broke the news to the killer that Islam was a deeply flawed religion cooked up by a 7th-century schizophrenic who wrote a book detailing his thoughts.

Student Held in Killing of Binghamton Professor

A 46-year-old Binghamton University graduate student from Saudi Arabia was charged on Saturday with killing a retired anthropology professor, a specialist in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies with whom he had worked, the authorities said.

The student, Abdulsalam S. al-Zahrani, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of the professor, Richard T. Antoun, who was stabbed in his office in the university’s Science I building on Friday afternoon, said Gerald F. Mollen, the district attorney in Broome County. “We believe the murder weapon was recovered,” he said.

Mr. Mollen said in a statement that Mr. Zahrani and Professor Antoun had known each other through Mr. Zahrani’s “work in the graduate program.” Later, in an interview, the district attorney said that “they’ve known each other for quite some time.” The extent of their contact was not immediately clear.

Mr. Zahrani, a citizen of Saudi Arabia who is a graduate student in anthropology, was being held without bail at the Broome County Sheriff’s Correctional Facility after his arraignment in Town Court in Vestal, N.Y., Mr. Mollen said.

Mr. Mollen declined to say whether Mr. Zahrani had made any statements to the authorities. He said he was unsure if the suspect had retained a lawyer.

Professor Antoun, 77, received a doctorate from Harvard in 1963 and joined the Binghamton faculty in the early 1970s. He was “a sociocultural anthropologist who has conducted research among peasants in Jordan, urbanites in Lebanon, peasant farmers in Iran and migrants in Texas and Greece,” according to the university’s Web site. He retired in 1999 as professor emeritus.

Professor Antoun’s work focused on religion and the social organization of tradition in Islamic law and ethics, among other things, according to the university’s Web site. He had taught at the University of Chicago, Manchester University in England and Cairo University, according to his curriculum vitae.

Campus police were called about 1:41 p.m. Friday to Professor Antoun’s office on the ground floor of the Science I building, Ms. Glover said. Students in a volunteer ambulance service known as Harpur’s Ferry also responded, she said. The professor, who had been stabbed a number of times, was taken to Wilson Regional Medical Center in Johnson City, N.Y., where he died, Mr. Mollen said.

It was followed by an e-mail message from Lois B. DeFleur, the university president, who called the killing, “an act of senseless violence.”

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Fort Hood Redux on College Campus

Why would a middle-aged muslim graduate student kill a 77-year-old professor of comparative religion? Did the professor say something about Islam that ignited the fury of Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani? Seems that way.

Student kills prof

December 6, 2009

An upstate graduate student was charged yesterday with stabbing a beloved anthropology professor to death.

Saudi national Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani, 46, was held without bail for the murder of Binghamton University professor Richard Antoun, 77, an expert on comparative religion, authorities said.

Al-Zahrani, a cultural-anthropology grad student, allegedly pulled out a six-inch kitchen knife and stabbed Antoun four times in the chest in the professor's campus office Friday.

Student Devin Sheppard said the suspect was at the scene when cops arrived.

"The police asked the grad student, 'Did you just stab him?' and he said, 'Yes.'"

Gov. Paterson said Antoun would "live on in his writing, his research, and in his students, whose lives he forever changed."

Student Devin Sheppard said the suspect was at the scene when cops arrived.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Where in the World is Osama bin Laden, wonders the Pakistani Prime Minister

The Pakistani Prime Minister says Osama, nope, not in my country. Probably dead and gone. Kidney trouble and all that. That's why we're not looking for him here.

Hmmm. Though it is possible Osama is hiding in the Pakistani community in Brooklyn, NY, it is more likely he's in Afghanistan or Pakistan. But US military forces have been conducting rigorous searches for him in Afghanistan. However, the US military is not permitted to conduct ground operations in Pakistan.

If you were a muslim terrorist leader wanted, dead or alive, by the US, where would you hide? In the muslim country where US troops are patrolling and authorized to shoot on sight? Or in Pakistan, the country where Daniel Pearl was beheaded; where much of the population hates the US; where the tribal territories of Waziristan are lawless regions free from the control of the Pakistani government?

Bin Laden Not in Pakistan, Prime Minister Says

LONDON — The Pakistani prime minister, countering demands to intensify the hunt for Osama bin Laden, said Thursday that he did not believe the fugitive leader of Al Qaeda was in Pakistan, as many Western governments and intelligence agencies assert.

The Pakistani official, Yousaf Raza Gilani, spoke at joint news conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain just days after Mr. Brown demanded that Afghanistan and Pakistan match plans for increased allied troop levels in Afghanistan by taking tough actions of their own, including a stepped-up effort in Pakistan to capture Mr. bin Laden.

Mr. Gilani and Mr. Brown held talks here Thursday, two days after President Obama announced plans to send 30,000 extra American troops to Afghanistan — a move that rattled nerves across a region spanning the long, mountainous and porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Regarding the new policy of President Obama, we are studying that policy,” Mr. Gilani said. “We need more clarity on it, and when we get more clarity on it we can see what we can implement on that plan.”

He was also asked about Western demands that Pakistan hunt more rigorously for Mr. bin Laden, widely believed in Washington and London to have fled the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime there in late 2001.

“I doubt the information which you are giving is correct because I don’t think Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan,” Mr. Gilani said, echoing similar comments by other Pakistani leaders in recent years who have sometimes hinted that they believe Mr. bin Laden died of renal failure some time after trekking over the 14,000-foot shoulder of the Tora Bora mountains. The Pakistani leader did not indicate where Mr. bin Laden might be if he is not in Pakistan.

Western intelligence officials concluded long ago that the senior Qaeda leaders had taken sanctuary most likely in North or South Waziristan, some 200 miles from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital.

“The Pakistan government has started to take on the Taliban and Al Qaeda in South Waziristan,” Mr. Brown said during the weekend, referring to a Pakistani military offensive that has been under way in recent weeks. “But we have to ask ourselves why, eight years after Sept. 11, nobody has been able to spot or detain or get close to Osama bin Laden, nobody has been able to get close to Zawahiri, the No. 2 in Al Qaeda.”

The issue of Mr. bin Laden’s whereabouts has assumed added importance since the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington completed a detailed look back at his escape in December 2001.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Breaking Up is, is Lucrative

If she will receive $300 million for leaving, what would she get if she stays? On the other hand, is it possible to resist women like Rachel Uchitel? Jaimee Grubbs? Kalika Moquin? No. It is not.

Ouch: If Elin Bolts, Tiger Parts With $300 Mil

Prominent Celebrity Divorce Attorney Says Don't Count On Couple Staying Together Because Of Woods' Temptations

Report: If They Split, Prenuptial Agreement Is Largest In Celeb History

These days, more than half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, and while Tiger Woods apologized for his transgressions some are wondering whether he'll beat the odds and save his relationship.

"I think she should stay. I mean he's come out and he's apologized," said Kara Jensen-MacKinnon.

"They have beautiful kids together. They should stay together for the sake of the family, and work things out," added Christopher Jones.

"Other relationships have withstood things like this, so I guess it depends on how strong the relationship is," added Ellen Nordbrook of Baltimore.

Divorce attorney Raoul Felder has handled huge celebrity cases from then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani to Mike Tyson, and said he wouldn't count on Woods' marriage to survive.

"There's a separate level of hell when you're a celebrity. You're subject to extraordinary temptation that ordinary people are not subject to," Felder said. "I don't think the prognosis is too great for something like this unless she's willing to make some kind of deal and live with it."

US Weekly has reported the couple has a prenuptial agreement worth $300 million, which would make this the most expensive celebrity divorce in history. Right now, Michael Jordan holds that record when his wife, Juanita, received an estimated $150 million settlement.

Labels: , , ,

Smoking vs OverEating? Which is killing us faster?

From the Health Wars, a little bad news.

Obesity May Wipe Out Benefit of Anti-Smoking Effort, Study Says

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- About 40 years of health improvements from declining numbers of smokers may be undermined because too many U.S. adults are obese, researchers said.

Under one scenario of obesity and smoking trends, by 2020 the future life expectancy of a typical 18-year-old would be shortened 8 months, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The number of adults who were obese more than doubled in 25 years to 72 million people, or 34 percent of U.S. adults, in 2006, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public-health programs and rising cigarette taxes reduced smoking rates to 21 percent in 2008 from 37 percent in 1970, according to the CDC.

“We found that in a horse race between obesity and smoking, obesity won, in a bad way,” said Susan Stewart, an author of the study and a researcher at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Obesity-related medical costs reached $147 billion in 2008, or about 10 percent of U.S. medical spending, according to a CDC study published July 27. Other studies have found the obesity epidemic threatens efforts to reduce deaths from heart disease and breast cancer.

Today’s analysis found obesity accounts for 5 percent to 15 percent of U.S. deaths each year, while smoking is tied to 18 percent of deaths. Failing to change continuing increases in obesity could erode the steady gains in health seen in recent decades.

National Health Assessment

Researchers from Harvard University, the University of Michigan and the economic research bureau used data from three large U.S. health assessment surveys to forecast life expectancy through 2020. Obesity was defined as having a body-mass index of 30 or greater, or about 192 pounds for person who is 5 feet 7 inches tall. Body-mass index is a method to determine body fat.

“If past obesity trends continue unchecked, the negative effects on the health of the U.S. population will increasingly outweigh the positive effects gained from declining smoking rates,” the authors wrote in the study.

The effort to reduce smoking “is probably one of the greatest health achievements in the 20th century,” said Sara Bleich, an obesity researcher at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, who wasn’t involved with the study. “Reduction of obesity should be the primary focus of public health efforts in the 21st century.

As of 2005, a typical 18-year-old male was expected to live to about age 76, while an 18-year-old woman would live to about age 81, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Reduced Life Expectancy

If current obesity and smoking trends continue, by 2020 the life expectancy ages would subtract 0.71 years, or 8 months from future gains, according to today’s research.

If every U.S. adult stopped smoking and reached a normal weight, life expectancy for an 18-year-old would increase by 3.76 years, the authors estimated.

“Life expectancy will continue to rise but less rapidly than it otherwise would have” because of obesity, the researchers wrote.

The study is a “sophisticated analysis’” of the comparative risks of obesity and smoking in the general public, Bleich said in an interview. The study wasn’t designed to examine variations by race and ethnicity, which may produce “important differences” in life expectancy, she said.

Labels: , ,

Miss Agentina -- R.I.P.

Following a tragic surgical error...

Ex-Miss Argentina dies after cosmetic surgery

Monday, November 30, 2009
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) --

A 38-year-old former Miss Argentina has died from complications after undergoing cosmetic surgery on her buttocks.

Solange Magnano, a mother of twins who won the crown in 1994, died of a pulmonary embolism Sunday after three days in critical condition following a gluteoplasty in Buenos Aires.

Close friend Roberto Piazza said the procedure involved injections and the liquid "went to her lungs and brain."

"A woman who had everything lost her life to have a slightly firmer behind," he said.

Magnano's burial Monday was shown on Argentine television.

Dr. Gonzalo Cortes y Tristan said she arrived at his hospital with an acute respiratory deficiency. Her condition deteriorated until she suffered the embolism.

Climate Fraud -- As If We Didn't Know

Where does falsified data always lead? To the Money. Every scientist on the planet is motivated -- in the spirit of discovery and by the money -- to explore the issue of Global Warming.

Technology is not cheap. It takes a lot of funding to get some programs off the ground. Literally. As Tom Wolfe showed us in The Right Stuff, when the first astronauts began to learn about their future in space, they came to understand the phrase No Bucks, No Buck Rogers.

Global Warming has inspired huge emotional concerns among millions. For reasons that cannot be explained, these millions are terrified by the tales of atmospheric changes that might occur in a hundred years. Remarkably, the same people have no concern for the Five Million Deaths that occur every year because people in some parts of the world drink polluted water. They die because their governments cannot -- will not -- provide clean drinking water.

These callous people, obsessed with the abstract notion of Global Warming and it impact 100 years hence, cannot concern themselves with people dying from problems easily solved Today. Outrageous.


CLIMATE CHANGE: Many experts claim man-made global warming is melting sea ice

THE scientific consensus that mankind has caused climate change was rocked yesterday as a leading academic called it a “load of hot air underpinned by fraud”.

Professor Ian Plimer condemned the climate change lobby as “climate comrades” keeping the “gravy train” going.

In a controversial talk just days before the start of a climate summit attended by world leaders in Copenhagen, Prof Plimer said Governments were treating the public like “fools” and using climate change to increase taxes.

He said carbon dioxide has had no impact on temperature and that recent warming was part of the natural cycle of climate stretching over ­billions of years.

Prof Plimer - author of Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, The Missing Science - told a London audience: “Climates always change. They always have and they always will. They are driven by a number of factors that are random and cyclical.”

His comments came days after a scandal in climate-change research emerged through the leak of emails from the world-leading research unit at the University of East Anglia. They appeared to show that scientists had been massaging data to prove that global warming was taking place

The Climate Research Unit also admitted getting rid of much of its raw climate data, which means other scientists cannot check the subsequent research. Last night the head of the CRU, Professor Phil Jones, said he would stand down while an independent review took place.

Professor Plimer said climate change was caused by natural events such as volcanic eruptions, the shifting of the Earth’s orbit and cosmic radiation. He said: “Carbon dioxide levels have been up to 1,000 times higher in the past. CO2 cannot be driving global warming now.

“In the past we have had rapid and significant climate change with temperature changes greater than anything we are measuring today. They are driven by processes that have been going on since the beginning of time.”

He cited periods of warming during the Roman Empire and in the Middle Ages – when Vikings grew crops on Greenland – and cooler phases such as the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age from 1300 to 1850.

And he predicted that the next phase would cool the planet.

Climate change is widely blamed on the burning of fossil fuels which release greenhouse gases such as CO2 into the atmosphere, where they trap the sun’s heat.

The talks at Copenhagen are expected to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally.

But mining geology professor Plimer said there was a huge momentum behind the climate-change lobby.

He suggested many scientists had a vested interest in promoting climate change because it helped secure more funding for research. He said: “The climate comrades are trying to keep the gravy train going. Governments are also keen on putting their hands as deep as possible into our pockets.

Obama -- Friend of Osama

Obama's Aghanistan speech covered some interesting ground and also avoided a lot of critical territory. Like Pakistan. After hearing his plans, it is painfully clear that Osama bin Laden will continue his relatively undisturbed stay in Pakistan, where he's probably moving between caves in Waziristan and some of the other tribal regions.

With no US troops hunting for him on Pakistani soil, seemingly stated as part of Obama's plan, Osama can go about his business, whatever that is, without worrying too much about getting shot or captured.

Meanwhile, an extra 30,000 US troops will look for him in Afghanistan. Of course the bigger question is why the Taliban matters on the international scene. These tribal warriors are effectively illiterates who get around on horseback and have spent their entire lives in the Afghan and Pakistan mountains. Though they undoubtedly share many of the same sensibilities as al Qaeda, it is unlikely they have global ambitions.

However, the do present an obstacle to democracy and capitalism. Thus, there are many good reasons to destroy their end of the muslim world.

Unfortunately, Obama failed to mention why he is willing accept Pakistan as it is -- a nation that hates the US and is doing as little as possible to reduce its role as the safe haven for muslim terrorists. It is about time for the US to take control of the Pakistani nuclear weapons. But Obama seems open to the possibility of delaying that action until someone discovers that a few Pakistani nuclear weapons are missing.

Anyway, Obama campaigned on the promise of closing one military jail on one US base on a Caribbean island. Despite the strong words about closing Guantanamo, he has discovered that achieving his goal is tough -- and suddelnly looking like a foolish idea.

With 30,000 more troops heading to Afghanistan, our military will need room to incarcerate many more captured terrorists -- unless Obama would prefer that every muslim combatant is killed.

First he failed to close Guantanamo. Probably because he realized we need to keep it open. Now he's sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan but then reversing the flow and bringing them back to the US in 18 months. That was his latest promise. However, a president who cannot close one military jail is incapable of declaring that a war will end in 18 months.

Labels: ,

Right to Grow Pot Is Like a Right to Be Uninsured

Some interesting thoughts.

Right to Grow Pot Is Like a Right to Be Uninsured:

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Angel Raich’s doctor swore under oath that her life depended on her getting marijuana. A caregiver was growing it for her in California, which legalized it for medicinal use.

Too bad, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. Congress outlawed marijuana and can do so under its constitutional powers to regulate interstate commerce, the justices held.

What, you may ask, do a few plants for a sick woman’s comfort have to do with interstate commerce?

The Supreme Court saw little difference between her and Ohio farmer Roscoe Filburn, who grew more wheat to feed his chickens and other livestock than Washington allowed under a 1938 agricultural program.

The grain never crossed his property line much less a state line. The Supreme Court in 1942 said it could still be linked to interstate commerce, if you thought about it hard enough. So it, too, was subject to federal regulation, the court said.

These days, the independent streak shown by Raich and Filburn lives in those who claim the government has no right to force any American to buy health insurance.

They, too, are wrong.

Consider their best example, a metaphorical man I will call Joe. He never gets sick, never sees a doctor or checks into a hospital. It won’t be disease that kills him in a few years but an SUV driven by a 318-pound chain-smoker whose heart seized up just as Joe jogged in front of her car on his way to buy flax granola.

Can Congress force Joe to buy a government-approved health insurance plan or else face a special tax so that insurance will be cheaper for 318-pound chain smokers?

Sure to Follow

This is the question sure to follow any law that requires people to enroll in a government-approved health insurance plan or be slapped with an extra tax.

Getting a bill through Congress, tough as that is, is only one step. Opponents are sure to challenge it in court.

My money is against them. The Roberts Supreme Court would have to ignore, reverse or parse its way around inconvenient precedent for them to prevail.

(On second thought, I might not bet a lot of money.)

The Constitution specifically authorizes Congress to tax citizens to provide for the nation’s “general welfare.” As Filburn and Raich learned, the Constitution’s commerce clause lets Congress regulate even seemingly self-contained aspects of our lives.

On the tax question, few matters are more tied to a nation’s general welfare than the health of its people. When Americans die each year for lack of access to medical help, when families go bankrupt because of sickness, it is clearly in the interest of the nation’s general welfare to fix the problem.

Illegal Taxes

Some kinds of taxes are illegal, such as those levied purely to punish certain conduct. That’s how opponents characterize this one. Yet, its purpose is to encourage conduct considered good for the country and to help pay for health care.

A closer call is the claim Congress can’t require people to sign up for insurance. Opponents are right that the commerce clause has never been stretched to require citizens to buy something.

Previous rulings pertain to people doing something the government forbids, not refraining from doing that which the government requires.

And yet, the Raich and Filburn rulings should carry the day for health-care reformers. Her personal pot use and his stash of livestock feed became Congress’s business because of the effect they would have on the economy if everyone did what they were doing.

Private Crops

If lots of farmers relied on their own private wheat crops to feed their livestock, that would have a “substantial impact on interstate commerce,” the high court said. So Congress had constitutional authority to regulate it.

Likewise, Raich’s private use of marijuana by itself wouldn’t cause the tiniest ripple in the nation’s economy or commerce. But if everyone with any medical need for it were allowed to set up little pot farms in their basements, Congress’s authority to regulate or ban drugs would be undercut.

That said, two cases do limit the commerce clause’s reach. The Supreme Court said Congress couldn’t use the clause to justify the Violence Against Women Act and, earlier, a federal law forbidding guns on school grounds.

So what? It’s hard to find a connection between the national economy and either of those problems, violent crime and guns at school. It’s far easier to argue a link between interstate commerce and health care, which constitutes more than 17 percent of the national economy.

And yet, there is Joe, who has no need for health insurance. Maybe he is prepared to pay out of his pocket for knee surgery if all that running tears a meniscus.

National Shame

His problem is that his individual decision, multiplied across the country millions of times, would make it impossible for Congress to fix what is clearly a national shame: the lack of basic health care for millions of Americans.

If reforming health care isn’t considered good for the nation’s general welfare, if the effect it has on the economy isn’t considered a matter of interstate commerce, then nothing is.


Tiger Talks, Evades

Okay. Now things are shaping up. Tiger is upset by the fact that he's fodder for the tabloid press. But when you earn $100 million a year, have a beautiful wife, two kids, and it's discovered you have a couple of smokin' hot girlfriends, who's to blame?

After reading Tiger's rebuke, it is clear he thinks the problem is the press. He can't get away. However, there are no photos taken inside his house. None in the places he goes after winning tournaments. Plenty on and around the golf course.

Oh sure, he says he's sorry for letting his family down. I guess that means he has admitted having affairs and that he and his wife have retained divorce attorneys who have begun negotiations. Moreover, though he says he and his wife have been hounded to expose personal details of their lives, it is probably more accurate to say that other people who have been involved with Tiger have been hounded to tell their stories.

Frankly, photos and comments from Rachel Uchitel, Jaimee Grubbs and Kalika Moquin are likely to entertain consumers of tabloid stuff for a long time. Their new careers have been launched.

It's unlikely fans will think less of Tiger if he does what lots of celebrities have done. However, they will become disappointed if his golf game falters while he decides what to do.

I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.

Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.

But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don't share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions.

Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it's difficult.

I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology.

Labels: , , ,