Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Don't Look Behind the Curtain

Why would anybody, especially Russia want to limit outside observation of election results

Russia is seeking "unprecedented" curbs on monitors observing its parliamentary polls, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) says.
It wants limits on the size of the OSCE delegation at the 2 December poll, and consultation on its make-up.
The most obvious cynical answer is that there is an effort to put the” fix in”. Even if it isn’t true, it seems to me to be a bad time to pull such a move with the talk about Putin and his power grab. The Russian constitution has a term limit for the President. If this is not revoked, President Putin will be stepping down much like Pres. Bush. It is reported that Putin is very popular and there is a movement to keep him in power.
The Russian Constitution limits a president to two terms, which would mean a natural conclusion in 2008 to Vladimir Putin's presidency. So far, Putin says he will abide by the legal limit. But there are growing calls, whether spontaneous or orchestrated by the Kremlin, to change the Constitution.
Is this an effort to put the right people in place in order to change the Russian Constitution or am I seeing something that isn’t there? The Russian Federation is only 16 years old and is still struggling to find its’ grove in being a more open country. The rumor mill is stirred by questions surrounding Putin for his approach to free press, his involvement in the Ukraine election, and poison allegations. All of this only convinces some that he is perfectly capable orchestrating a permanent power grab.

Passing the Buck for Cheap Political Points

If member of Congress want to declare waterboarding and any other interrogation technique to be torture then should do so, since that is their job. Instead they continue to leave it ambiguous and open to interrogation so they can use it to score political points. If they had any real interest in doing away with the practice, they are completely within their rights, no duty to do so. The fact that the subject is being paraded around on a continuous basis only shows they don’t care at all, they just want political points. Is this the type of representatives we want in the government?

The US Attorney General does not make laws of any kind, he is the just to overseer and interrupt the existing laws and their enforcement. Why certain members of Congress are asking Michael Mukasey to do their job is beyond me.

All 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote to Mukasey last week asking that he clarify his position on waterboarding.
"Your unwillingness to state that waterboarding is illegal may place Americans at risk of being subject to this abusive technique," the senators wrote.
My response would be, “Your unwillingness to enact a law against waterboarding may place humans at risk of being subject to this abusive technique. If you want the technique to be illegal then do your job and make it illegal.”

ECN 10/31/07

Turkey to Present Its Case on PKK to White HouseBy Patrick GoodenoughCNSNews.com International EditorOctober 31, 2007(CNSNews.com) - Turkey's prime minister will take to the White House next week a report showing alleged links between the U.S.-allied autonomous Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq and PKK terrorists holed up there who launch cross-border attacks on Turkish soil.Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is due to meet with President Bush on Monday, has warned the U.S. that failure to stop the PKK from operating out of northern Iraq will damage ties between the two NATO allies.

I thought there had been some progress in this area but apparently I was wrong.

BAGHDAD - Under growing pressure to crack down on Kurdish rebels using orthern
Iraq as a base for guerrilla attacks in Turkey, the Iraqi government ordered the rebels’ offices closed Tuesday and promised to curb their movements and block their funds.

Brussels wins final say over controversial GMO corn
30.10.2007 - 17:43 CET
Following intense debate, EU governments have failed to agree whether Austria may keep in place its ban on genetically modified corn - something considered illegal by the World Trade Organization – paving the way for the thorny decision to be taken by the European Commission.

Is GMO Corn controversial for health reasons or because it in area where the US dominates. I don’t know enough about it but it always seemed a little strange that Europe is full bore for stem cell research but not GMO (Not apples to apples in comparison).


Syria accused of plotting to kill Lebanon leaders
Top lawmaker Hariri says assassination plot targets him, prime minister
CAIRO, Egypt - The leader of Lebanon’s parliamentary majority claimed Tuesday that Syria was behind a plot to assassinate him and the Lebanese prime minister ahead of crucial presidential elections next month.

Democrats Must Turn Right to Win
By Gabor Steingart in Washington
Both John Edwards and Barack Obama want to move the Democrats to the left. But that's a sure way to lose the election. Many voters may live their lives on the left, but their hopes and dreams are well to the right.

It isn't easy to see the similarities between Germany's political system and that in the United States. Sure, they are both democratic. But whereas Berlin hosts a multiparty, parliamentary system that relies on coalitions to govern, the US has a two-party, winner-takes-all system.

I included this article in the ECN more because where I found it and it shows how much the world does watch the US.


Burmese Monks Venture Back on to Streets
Last month, protesting monks in Burma were being beaten up and detained by the thousands. Now they're are back at it -- in smaller numbers but with equal conviction. more...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NaNoWriMo madness

Tomorrow night at 12:01 I will officially be able to start my novel, not that I will really start until the morning. I signed up to do the National Novel Writing Month with my wife.

If I can keep a pace of 1667 words per day I will produce a 50,000 word novel by the end of this month and the novel will be utter crap. It won’t be worth reading but maybe it may be worth editing and then re-editing and possibility editing for a third time. The novel is a fantasy that will deal with racism, loneliness, and confronting horrible monsters. Whether I can actually put together something that is worth anything remains to be seen, but I am willing to try. I have always enjoyed reading and have convinced myself over the years that I have a story to tell (several to be exact).

Overall my reason for engaging in the mad deadline is for the most part the same reason I started the blog, not necessarily for people to read but for me to write. 30 days from now I will find out if I have the disciple and the drive to fulfill one of my dreams.

ECN 10/30/07

Fatal blast near Musharraf's HQ
A suicide bomb attack has killed at least seven people and injured 11 near Pakistan's army headquarters, in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Officials said the blast occurred some 2km (1.24 miles) away from a secure compound containing the army HQ and President Pervez Musharraf's office.

Foreign fighters of violent bent bolster Taliban
By DAVID ROHDE
The foreign fighters are not only bolstering the ranks of the insurgency. They are more violent, uncontrollable and extreme than even their locally bred allies, officials on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border warn.
They are also helping to change the face of the Taliban from a movement of hard-line Afghan religious students into a loose network that now includes a growing number of foreign militants as well as disgruntled Afghans and drug traffickers.

As outsiders become more of the movement, I think the local population will grow further and further away for the movement.

Where Have the Skilled Workers Gone?
By Juliane Kinast, Christian Reiermann and Michael Sauga
The German economy has hardly regained its stride, and now businesses are complaining about a lack of well-qualified employees. Voices in both the political and business worlds call for new immigration laws. But should Germany let in more workers when it still has 3.8 million unemployed?

This suggests to me a two fold problem, first training of skilled workers is deficient and those that are trained are going else where (leaving the country). The US also is suffering from a lack of skilled workers but there also a very low unemployment rate.

France and Britain suggest tax cut on green products

30.10.2007 - 09:27 CET
Following a joint initiative of France and the UK, EU finance ministers will discuss cutting value-added taxes on energy efficient products in an effort to stimulate consumers to shop in a more environmental-friendly way.

Special Inspector General Iraq Report

Here is the link to 244 page, 12,196 KB, ADOBE PDF that goes over the Inspector General Quarterly report submitted to congress. All of the reports dating back to March 2004 can be found here. So if you have some time for a little light reading you can go through and view what has been reported to congress every three months. So when they complain that they don’t know what is going on over there, you can tell who isn’t keeping up with their reading assignments.

USA starts off with a negative headline, but actually does do a fair job of breaking down the highlights. It can be found in the report but a important observation is condensed in the article.

Still, the record daily electricity production of 123,000 megawatt-hours on Sept. 16 met only 60% of demand. Proliferation of electric appliances such as televisions, air conditioners and laundry machines has helped drive up demand for power, the report says.
Modern appliance demand has sky rocketed, not just in the metro area but throughout the country. To me this sounds like people trying to make a better life or at least an easier life.

I can’t help but remember an episode of M.A.S.H where the question of why the US was in Korea got tabled by Hawkeye during an insomniac period to Burns. Burns being the idiot he is, replied along the lines of “they want our toilets.” Burns was wrong about the North Koreans wanting our way of life, but apparently the Iraqis are moving in that direction.

Update:
The BBC was not nearly as objectived as they cherry-picked the negatives.
As does the Washington Post.

Update II:
As I said in the first part of this post, there are some in Congress who claim they are underinformed and know they want to do something about it.

"This bill will inject Congress into the process, so that it can meet its constitutional responsibility," Jones said. "We will require more reporting from the White House, and we will require more consultation with the White House. This is a bill I think will have a lot of support in Congress."

This is just a sound bite to paint the WHite House secretive.

"We know that the Framers of the Constitution initially had language that said, only Congress can 'make war,' and changed it to only Congress can 'declare war' - they changed it because they realized that there were wars we would be in that were not officially declared," Rotunda said.

I have a feeling that Rotunda gets the wrong idea out of the change from "Make" to "Declare". After Congress declares war, it is up to the President (whoever the president is) to carryout the war or to "Make War". It was change to keep Congress out of the decisions, tactics and strategies because "too many cooks spoil the dish". The Congress can declare war and can stop wars through defunding it. The current Congress is appearently unwilling to stop it since they keep funding it.There is nothing for the Congress to re-assume since they haven't lost anything. Congress approved the military effort in Iraq and if they were mislead but someone who is supposedly an idiot, what does that make them? Perhaps those that were fooled so harshly need to be voted out of office and never let back.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Governor Spitzer Adding and Abetting

Is this adding and abetting?

A third type of license will be available to undocumented immigrants. Spitzer has said this ID will make the state more secure by bringing those people "out of the shadows" and into American society, and will lower auto insurance rates.
Out of the shadows and into American society should not be a high priority considering they have committed a crime by being here illegally in the first place that is what undocumented really means.
Those licenses will be clearly marked to show they are not valid federal ID. Officials, however, would not say whether that meant local law enforcement could use such a license as probable cause to detain someone they suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.
Any one with half a brain should be able to figure out that police officials in NY will not use them as probable cause because if they could then the illegal would not get them. Instead of making it easier for illegals to set up house in this country, should we as a nation be limiting their options, making business more accountable for who they higher, and securing the borders?

ECN 10/29/07

US hands over Karbala to Iraqis
US forces have handed control of the mainly Shia province of Karbala in central Iraq to local authorities in a tightly-guarded ceremony.
Karbala is the eighth of 18 provinces to be transferred to local control since the US-led invasion in 2003.

China touts crackdown on tainted goods
By DAVID BARBOZA
The arrests of 774 people in a nationwide sweep to root out unsafe food, drug and agricultural products was hailed on a government Web site as a big step forward in ensuring safety.


Capitalism does have a effect on China and the more they integrate themselves into the world economy the more effect it will have. Time will tell if it is a go thing or not.

Merkel Flounders in the Wake of SPD Turn to the Left
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has failed to live up to her promise of being a reformer. Instead of acting like an iron lady she is barely putting up a fight as her coalition partner the SPD turns to the left and demands a reversal of key welfare reforms.

News concerning national leaders are always something to watch. In Germany there leader is struggling while in Argentina there version of Billary comes into the lime light.

Kirchner claims Argentine victory
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) -- Argentine first lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner declared victory Sunday night as election returns showed her leading all rivals in her bid to succeed her husband and become the country's first female president.

US playing Kingmaker Again

Right now I see four major fronts in the ME to reduce the acceptance of terror tactics as a means for change:
1. Iraq of course
2. Iran without a doubt
3. Pakistan
4. Afghanistan

I put Pakistan in at number three because of the strategic importance and their nuclear capability. This front is managed in a different manner than any of the others and may deserve to be higher on the list.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The United States pressured Pakistan to allow former prime minister Benazir Bhutto to return from exile, promoting her as a moderate influence in a country facing a growing threat from Islamic extremists, a Pakistani government spokesman said.

When the US flexes its’ diplomatic muscle there is a certain amount of attention played by the world. Some will just thumb their noses at the US and continue on their own path. The case with Pakistan is they eventually moved in the direction the US thinks they want. I say think they want because diplomatic solution have a tendency to turn out a whole lot different than intended. When the US “peacefully” throws their collective weight around, there is always a push back against the US. There are countries out there that do not want the US to have that influence and take situations like this to undermine the direction. It is easy to stir up the hornets’ nest and then distance oneself of any blame. I believe this is what is currently happening in India and the push against the nuclear treat that was hammered out. I expect there to be a lot more resistance to this direction in Pakistan, after all there has already been an assassination attempt.

The US has played Kingmaker in the past and there are plenty of instances where it has come back to bite. Iran is just one instance to look at. When the US gets too close to picking leaders, it can become a rally point for anti-Americanism. Is this necessary for the short haul, most definitely but I can only hope the lang haul doesn’t lead down a very bad path.

McCain gets it Right.

McCain shows a sense of humor and points out one of many Clinton's misjudged priorities. I have to agree with the Big Lizard, somethings just have to be spread around.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Double-Edged Copper Sword

There are a number of reasons that could be the cause but the two most probable is either China has found another source or their economy is about to tank within 2 years.

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- China's refined copper imports, the world's biggest, may drop next year as domestic production increases, Beijing Antaike Information Development Co. said.

The official word it is an increase in domestic production.
Imports may total 1.35 million tons, from an estimated 1.46 million tons this year, as domestic production increases to 3.8 million tons from an estimated 3.4 million tons, Shen Haihua, general manager of Shanghai Maike Dickson Investment Management Co., a unit of the Maike Group, said Oct. 24.
Why is this an important piece of news, well I have always held copper prices to be a good economic predictor. When copper prices start to drop, a recession is the making. There is a short term boom as manufacturing cost drop due to lower copper prices. As mining companies make less money, they tend to spend less money and cut costs. Cutting costs generally include temporary shutting down or curtailing less efficient operations which is code for lay-offs. Unemployment rises, wage demand decreases and thus is born a recession. The recession continues until surplus copper is eaten up and prices start to rise again. It all goes back to supply and demand and the current fact of copper being an economic building block. If this move by China drives down copper prices look for some harder time.

ECN 10/26/07

Europeans Criticized for Attaching Strings to Use of Forces in AfghanistanBy Patrick GoodenoughCNSNews.com International EditorOctober 26, 2007(CNSNews.com) - Australia on Friday joined the U.S. in criticizing some European countries for attaching restrictions to how their troops taking part in NATO-led operations in Afghanistan can operate.Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said European parliaments should lift restrictions -- known as "national caveats" -- they have placed on deployment, to allow their countries' troops to operate in the more dangerous southern area of the country.

Paris suggests EU tax on imports from non-Kyoto states
26.10.2007 - 09:37 CET By Lucia KubosovaFrance has thrown its support behind a European Commission idea to tax environment polluters and also urged Brussels to consider EU levies for imports from non-Kyoto countries, such as the US and Australia.

Why not expanded it to all non compliant countries? Oh that right then they would have tax everybody including themselves.

'US Unilateralism Is Risky and Unnecessary'
Rather than wait for the UN to agree on sanctions against Iran, Washington has decided to go it alone, imposing tough unilateral sanctions on the mullah regime. German commentators on Friday are divided on whether the move will have the desired effect.
The US seems to have run out of patience with the international community on Thursday, opting to impose sweeping sanctions against Iran on its own rather than wait for China and Russia to sign up to tougher United Nations measures.

Everyone with half a brain should know that China and Russia will never make things tougher on Iran. It looks like at least Germany may be looking to join or at least not oppose the India, China and Russia gambit in the King of Mountain worldwide match.

Europe's economies feel unease after summer's credit crisis
By Mark Landler
Published: October 25, 2007
FRANKFURT: Europe, which once hoped to avoid major fallout from the credit crisis last summer, is now feeling an autumn chill of slackening economies and warnings of further market upheaval.
The ill tidings came in several European capitals on Thursday: from a reduced growth forecast in Germany to a report by the Bank of England, which said financial markets were still vulnerable to shocks from the crisis that originated in the American home-mortgage market.

Kansas Tosses Future into the Wind

Kansas is about to have realistic decline in population and an increase in the cost of living due to theoretical promises.

Kansas utilities have agreed to develop alternative energy sources, including maximizing our wind assets," Sebelius said.A group that supports the coal industry expressed "dismay" over the governor's apparent conviction that a perfect energy option exists. There is no such thing, said Americans for Balanced Energy Choices.
Someday alternative energy sources MAY be a viable replacement for the tried and true energy source of coal but today is not the day nor is it tomorrow. Most alternative energy source trade the CO2 pollution for a large land usage, high demand for replacement parts and the fickle nature of Nature. In other words they cost a lot and deliver less, so when the Governor ignores reality.
She said a state agency's decision to prevent construction of the coal-fired plants "will not only preserve Kansans' health and uphold our moral obligation to be good stewards of this beautiful land, but will also enhance our prospects for strong and sustainable economic growth throughout our state."
She is guarantying that the state will not have a strong and sustainable economic growth. I can imagine business all ready crossing Kansas off their list for future development.

Alternate energy is a shell game where one bad side effect is traded for other side effects.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

ECN 10/25/07

Europe Split Over CubaBy Patrick GoodenoughCNSNews.com International EditorOctober 25, 2007(CNSNews.com) - President Bush's speech on Cuba Wednesday will have particular resonance in Europe, where a battle between competing views on how to deal with the Castro regime has intensified in recent years.The sharpest divisions are evident between socialist-ruled Spain and the formerly communist countries of Central Europe, where sympathy for Cuban dissidents runs deep in official and non-governmental circles alike.

US Speeds Up Delivery of Stealth Fighter to IsraelJerusalem (CNSNews.com) - The U.S. has decided to step up its delivery of stealth fighter planes to Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday. "The plane can fly into downtown Tehran without anyone even knowing about it since it can't be detected on radar," one official was quoted as saying.

'Allah Wants This War'
By Maximilian Popp in Istanbul
The mood in Turkey is becoming increasingly jingoistic as thousands take to the streets, calling for war against the Kurdish rebel organization PKK and an invasion of northern Iraq. But Baghdad has promised to curb the Kurds.
Anger drives them on to the streets, anger provoked by the images of dead soldiers shown on Turkish television. Thousands of demonstrators walk along Istiklal Caddesi, or Independence Avenue, Istanbul's longest shopping street. They are calling for war: War against the Kurds, against the PKK, against Iraq. "We have waited long enough," reads one poster. "Allah wants this war," is the message on another.

One Poster should not be viewed as the majority view but it does seem that every war to a Muslim is a religious war.

EU lawmakers fail to formalise Russia criticism
24.10.2007 - 17:14 CET
Just two days before EU leaders meet Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Portuguese city of Mafra, the European Parliament has backed down from its original idea to adopt a resolution calling on the Kremlin to improve its democratic record.

India Stands for the Just with the Unjust

One way to play King of the Mountain (aka King of the Hill) is to form temporary allies in order to take down the “King”. Once the “king” has tumbled, then the alliance is over and a free for all breaks out for the top slot. The old “King” has to be humbled so much so they don’t just walk up and take the top slot again. Temporary alliances are never for the better because the backstabbing weakens all parties. If the alliance does push the “King” off, they are rarely the new “King”. India needs to beware of the alliance they are dabbling with because the other two play hard.

(CNSNews.com) - India joined China and Russia Wednesday in calling for a "more just and rational" world order but, in a now familiar refrain, also insisted that their trilateral cooperation was not intended to target "any other country."

A meeting in northern China of the three countries' foreign ministers ended with a joint communique containing veiled references to U.S. domination of international affairs.

The kicker of it all is the fact that only India has any chance of being “just and rational”. The US has reached out to India and for a brief time they reached back. The failed experiment called communism is still disrupting the world.

Policy makers in the U.S. and India have described a landmark civilian nuclear cooperation deal between the two large democracies as a significant and strategic initiative. The agreement now is in grave trouble, however, as a result of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's failure to get communist allies' approval in parliament.
As the world gets smaller and smaller, there will have to be a leader figure because a house divided against itself cannot stand. The leader does not have to be the US but I most assuredly do not want Russia, China or any ME country to be that leader.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ECN 10/24/07

Turkish Troops Bomb Suspected Rebel Positions in Iraq
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish warplanes and helicopter gunships attacked positions of Kurdish rebels along the rugged Iraqi-Turkish border on Wednesday, the country's official Anatolia news agency reported.
Several F-16 warplanes loaded with bombs took off from an air base in southeastern city of Diyarbakir, private Dogan news agency and local reporters said.
U.S.-made Cobra and Super Cobra attack helicopters chased Kurdish rebels some 3 miles into Iraqi territory on Sunday but returned to their bases in Turkey after a rebel ambush killed 12 soldiers near the border, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
President of Iraqi Kurdish region urges end to rebellion
by Abdel Hamid Zebari Wed Oct 24, 8:51 AM ET
ARBIL, Iraq (AFP) - The president of Iraq's northern Kurdish region on Wednesday urged the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to end its more than two-decade armed struggle against Turkey.
The call from Massud Barzani came after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on the PKK, calling it a "bad terrorist organisation."

The two above stories are really just one data point but they are from different views. Terrorism is becoming more and more unstylish. The PKK has always been widely accepted by the Kurds as a means to an end but looks like it is not as accepted anymore.

Photographs Said to Show Israeli Target Inside Syria
By Robin Wright and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers Wednesday, October 24, 2007; Page A01
Independent experts have pinpointed what they believe to be the Euphrates River site in Syria that was bombed by Israel last month, and satellite imagery of the area shows buildings under construction roughly similar in design to a North Korean reactor capable of producing nuclear material for one bomb a year, the experts say.
Photographs of the site taken before the secret Sept. 6 airstrike depict an isolated compound that includes a tall, boxy structure similar to the type of building used to house a gas-graphite reactor. They also show what could have been a pumping station used to supply cooling water for a reactor, say experts David Albright and Paul Brannan of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).


Bush to warn Cuba on plan for transition
By Ginger Thompson
Published: October 24, 2007
WASHINGTON: President George W. Bush is planning to issue a stern warning Wednesday that the United States will not accept a political transition in Cuba in which power changes from one Castro brother to another, rather than to the Cuban people.

The last time the US made such a statement was concerning Iraq.

Germans Reject EU Fast-Track Immigration Scheme
Politicians in Germany have voiced their opposition to a Blue Card fast-track migration scheme for the EU. But the country's business leaders say the economy desperately needs more workers to meet the growing skills shortages.
The European Commission may want to introduce a unified "Blue Card" system to attract highly-skilled immigrants to the European Union, but the biggest economy in the 27-member bloc is saying it's not interested.

Pakistan makes a Stand

I have been including several articles or points of data concerning Pakistan and the way things are developing there. This is not just a point of data but trend projection.

The Pakistan army has deployed around 2,500 troops in the remote valley of Swat in the country's north-west, military officials say.


They say that the deployment is necessary to combat a pro-Taleban militant and his followers.


Correspondents say that the valley in North West Frontier Province has become a stronghold of the radical group Tahreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi.


Around 90,000 Pakistani troops are deployed in the north of Pakistan.

Times are getting tough for the Taliban and their allies Al Qaida. The safe zones are drying up and support for their vision is currently on the decline.

Some have said that the “War on Terror” is just a bumper sticker but for those in the middle of it, it has always been life or death. Those that prefer death and tyranny will not go quietly away in the dark. The current government of Pakistan is not a beacon of hope and liberty by any means but they have started the journey of becoming one. This is one of the most important current events that I bet will get under reported. Pakistan has moved away from being a nuclear merchant country to a high profiled ally against the terror mind set. I remember just a few years ago there was a big show down developing between India and Pakistan. Each was flexing their nuclear muscle and daring the other. Things have changed since then. Pres. Bush was able to broker a nuclear treaty with India, which may or may not stand, and has been in constant relations with Pakistan. Not too bad for an supposed idiot.

Captain Quarter's

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bought and Paid For? update

It isn’t often that I can say I beat Captain Ed to post (in fact this is the first) but back in September I noticed that the Democrats appear “Bought and Paid For” and yesterday someone agreed.

The unions got their quid pro quo from Congressional Democrats in this session for the millions of dollars the unions spent on their election to power.
The Democrats have cut back funding on a key oversight agency for unions, helping their partners to become more opaque in their political projects and to allow corruption to twist the collective bargaining for their members:

Canidate for Sale

As I hinted at yesterday in ECN, Hillary may be facing a huge fund raising scandal again. Now there is even going to be a movie by a former friend.

(CNSNews.com) - The trailer to a new film about Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, "Hillary Uncensored -- Banned by the Media," has garnered big audience numbers -- about 1 million viewers -- on the Internet. The movie documenting alleged campaign finance violations soon will have several screenings in the Northeast, including three in New Hampshire, the state that will hold the first presidential primary.
I wish I would have gone on record with my thoughts about Hillary out-pacing fund raising which were “I guess that means she is the candidate most for sale.” The Los Angeles Times and the New York Post have been the front runners on all of this including Norman Hsu. It looks more and more that she is the candidate that is for sale.

Video

Monday, October 22, 2007

ECN 10/22/07

Poles End Turbulent Kaczynski Era
By Jan Puhl
The Polish twins have been separated. Voters on Sunday torpedoed Prime Minister Lech Kaczynski's attempt to get re-elected. But it's far from clear whether challenger Donald Tusk, 50, who has pledged to mend relations with EU allies, will be able to implement his policy agenda.

This one catches my eye because it will have a significant impact on the development on the EU. It may have just gotten a boost from Poland.

Politburo reshuffle is a sign for China
By Joseph Kahn
Published: October 22, 2007
BEIJING: The Chinese Communist Party announced a new leadership lineup Monday morning that anoints two future leaders of the country and modestly enhances the authority of President Hu Jintao.
The reshuffle promotes four officials to the nine-man Politburo Standing Committee, the country's top ruling body, including two provincial leaders expected to inherit the posts of party general secretary and prime minister in five years' time.

It is hard to tell if this is really anything or just window dressing from a closed nation.

Big three join forces on financial transparency

22.10.2007 - 09:21 CET
The leaders of Germany, France and the UK have issued a joint position on the need for more transparency of financial markets, following worries that the turmoil caused by the US housing crisis could hit growth.

If the US sneezes the world checks to see if they got sprayed.

Oprah becomes test of what an endorsement
means

By Martha T. Moore, USA TODAY
Oprah Winfrey can get people to read Tolstoy, sell millions of magazines and turn a mail-order canvas bag into a hot item just by naming it one of her favorite things.
To get Americans to vote for her favorite presidential candidate, Democrat Barack Obama, though, she'll have to twice prove conventional wisdom wrong: once with voters who repeatedly say endorsements don't make a big difference, and once with politicos who say they can — but that those by celebrities usually don't matter.

With Hillary possibility stumbling with fund raising scandals, people may turn to the most trusted person on television. This will have long reaching effects if Sen. Obama is able to put Hillary down

Friday, October 19, 2007

ECN 10/19/07

Bush announces more Burma sanctions
WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second time in two months, President Bush announced sanctions against Burma to punish the military-run government and its backers for the recent violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Kurds 'will fight Turkish raids'

The president of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq has said his people will defend themselves if Turkey attacks Kurdish rebels based in the region.
Massoud Barzani rejected accusations that his government provided cover for Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) fighters.

Sarkozy and Brown push Blair for EU presidency
By DAN BILEFSKY
The leaders of France and Britain endorsed Tony Blair to be the EU's first permanent president, even as critics questioned how a leader from a nation skeptical of the EU could take over the post.

EU agrees new 'Lisbon Treaty'19.10.2007 - 06:49 CET By Renata GoldirovaEUOBSERVER / LISBON – The European Union has overnight agreed the precise text of its new 'Lisbon Treaty' to be formally signed off on 13 December in the Portuguese capital.

Homecoming in Pakistan

Yesterday I included Benazir Bhutto return in the ECN post because I felt it would be a point in history that historians would look back and say that it was a pivotal moment for Pakistan. I felt it would stir a reaction that may push the country into the path it has been tip toeing for some time. There are of course those who will oppose this direction and you tell the type of persons they are by how they resist.

News reports on local news stations late Friday morning said 134 people had been killed and about 400 wounded.
Ms. Bhutto, who had spent eight hours on the open roof of the truck waving to supporters, had climbed inside the armored vehicle 10 minutes before the blasts occurred just before midnight, said Rehman Malik, her security adviser and close associate.

The response was to kill. Not just try and kill her but kill anybody who might support her. The response was an act to strike fear and dread. It is an attempt to cower people into submission. These do not represent the tactics of freedom fighter, they represent the tactics of criminals and would be tyrants.

What will the people of Pakistan do, will they be cowered and beat down or will they stand up to control their own future.

Around the blogsphere:
Captain Quarter's
Rightwing Nuthouse
The Belmont Club

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reason for ECN

There are stories out there that I call Eye Catching News. My attention is drawn to these stories because I think they are related to situations that will have far reaching effects. I don't know what exactly what they are, though I have a few ideas.

With my job I have to work by looking at trends a lot and these stories are data points of the trend of world. Of course I don't have all the data so I have to extrapolate and interrupt what I see. Since I am completely fallible, there will be a lot times when I just get it wrong. The whole point of ECN is to display the data points I am using to form a conclusion. If I ever get advanced enough, these uncommented story will fade away and be expanded on in more detailed posts.

ECN 10/18/07

EU court approves mandatory pension age
17.10.2007 - 09:01 CET By Lucia KubosovaAlthough discrimination on grounds of age is illegal throughout the EU, the bloc's top court has ruled that national governments are allowed to set mandatory age limits for retirement in a bid to boost employment.In a closely watched ruling unveiled on Tuesday (16 October), the European Court of Justice said that the general EU principle of equal treatment in jobs does not preclude measures "objectively and reasonably justified in the context of national law by a legitimate aim relating to employment policy and the labour market."

What Turkey Wants From Iraq -- and the US
By J├╝rgen Gottschlich in Istanbul
The Turkish parliament granted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday the right to order a military strike in neighboring Iraq. It's potentially a blank check for a new Iraq war -- but for now, the war drums are a way to underline Turkey's demands.

Euro hits new record against dollar
The Associated Press
Published: October 18, 2007
BERLIN: The 13-nation euro jumped to a new record on Thursday against the U.S. dollar, breaking through the US$1.43 mark after Washington reported a spike in jobless claims — the latest in a spate of bad economic news from the United States.
The euro rose to US$1.4305 in early afternoon trading in Europe after the U.S. Labor Department reported that applications for jobless benefits hit 337,000 last week — up 28,000 from the week before and the biggest one-week surge since claims jumped 42,000 in the week of Feb. 10.

Huge crowds greet Bhutto return
Benazir Bhutto has begun a triumphant open-top bus procession from Karachi airport to the city centre, after her dramatic return to Pakistan.
Hundreds of thousands of people are packing the streets, hoping to glimpse the ex-prime minister, who has returned from eight years of self-imposed exile.

Finally doing her job.

It is about time that Sen. Clinton introduces legislation about things she would do if she was President because the Legislature branch of the Gov. is the right place to do it since the President cannot enact any laws other then executive order.

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would allocate $200 million of federal money to fund benefits and training for professional child care providers.
All of this $5000 to every newborn or government matching 401K is something she could have and should have introduced while being a Senator since that is her job. If she waits till she is President then that means another level she would have work through more levels, just look at Bush and partial privatization of Social Security. All of her plans are just talking point to pull in votes. There is nothing in her Presidential platform that she couldn't be pushing as a Senator but hasn't.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nobel Peace Price for US Navy

After Al Gore and company won the Nobel Peace Prize I have been wonder who should win the next but won’t.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the first major revision of U.S. naval strategy in 25 years, maritime officials said Wednesday they plan to focus more on humanitarian missions and improving international cooperation as a way to prevent conflicts.


"We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars," said the new strategy announced by the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.


The strategy reflects a broader Defense Department effort to use aid, training and other cooperative efforts to encourage stability in fledgling democracies and create relationships around the globe that can be leveraged if a crisis does break out in a region.

I have a feeling that if this will save more people in the long run then Global Warning awareness and one only has to look at the results of the tsunami relief in 2004 for proof. With Russia flexing its military muscle and sporting an in-your-face attitude, the US navy, Coast guard and Marines are committing at least part of themselves to Peace. This is the real spirit of America and it comes to no surprise to me to find it in the military.

I need to go and find the paperwork to make a nomination.

ECN 10/17/07

Belgrade says UN pressure strengthens anti-EU forces
17.10.2007 - 09:29 CET By Elitsa VuchevaSerbia has reacted with surprise and disappointment to UN prosecutor Carla Del Ponte's assessment of Belgrade's cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal, warning that too much pressure could be counter-productive.The Serbian government "did not expect the report to be so negative", defence minister Dragan Sutanovac said on Tuesday (16 Otocber), according to the International Herald Tribune.

Turkish Parliament Approves Cross-Border Attacks
Turkish lawmakers in Ankara gave legal cover to a military mission inside northern Iraq on Wednesday. Iraqi leaders are still lobbying against any such action, and US President Bush has warned against an incursion, but oil prices hit an all-time high on fears of a difficult winter.

Despite threats, Bhutto to return to Pakistan
By Carlotta Gall
Published: October 17, 2007
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: The Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto confirmed Wednesday her determination to return to her home city of Karachi on Thursday after an eight-year absence, despite threats from militants and pressure from the government to delay her return.

Further fall in US home building
The number of new homes being built in the US fell by 10.2% in September - worse than had been expected.
And applications for building permits, seen as an indicator of future demand, also dropped sharply, down 7.2%.


The last one is interesting more to me because of where I came across it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ME Warsaw Pact

Just yesterday I babbled on about the need for the US to create a modern day Marshall Plan. Know it looks like Russia is starting on a Modern Day Warsaw Pact (also found in ECN).

In addition, the five nations at the meeting -- Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan -- signed a declaration stating that "under no circumstances will they allow (the use of their) territories by third countries to launch aggression or other military action against any of the member states."
This is what I meant by a new Cold War situation but I called it a Luke Warm War. It is all part of the “King of the Mountain” world game that is currently going on.

I expect some serious maneuvering by at least the EU and China in the near future concerning the ME since that is where the game is the most intense.

ECN 10/16/07

Abortion Consent Laws Also Cut Teen STD RatesBy Pete WinnCNSNews.com Staff WriterOctober 16, 2007(CNSNews.com) - State parental involvement laws are effective in reducing the incidence of risky sexual behavior among teenagers. That's the conclusion of a study to be published in January in the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization.Florida State University law professor Jonathan Klick said the incidence of at least one sexually transmitted disease (STD) -- teen gonorrhea -- is dramatically reduced in states that have laws requiring minors to first notify a parent or seek permission before having an abortion.

EU moving away from US on Kosovo, says Belgrade
15.10.2007 - 17:33 CET By Lucia KubosovaEUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The Serbian minister on Kosovo affairs claims the EU has slightly changed its stance on the Kosovo issue away from insisting on the province's independence to a better understanding of Belgrade's position.

Putin Sends Strong Messages On Day 1 of Tehran Conference
At a meeting of Caspian nations that kicked off in Tehran Tuesday, the subtle message seems to be: Iran can develop peaceful nuclear energy, don't think about trying to stop it militarily and, by the way, stay away from our oil.

Libya, Burkina Faso and Vietnam win UN Security Council seats
The Associated Press
Published: October 16, 2007
UNITED NATIONS: Libya, Vietnam and Burkina Faso easily won uncontested seats on the powerful U.N. Security Council on Tuesday and Costa Rica and Croatia emerged victorious after their opponents dropped out.
Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic were fighting for a Latin American seat and Croatia and the Czech Republic were battling for an East European seat. But the Dominican Republic and the Czech Republic abandoned the fight after they trailed in the second round of voting.

Genetics or Choice Does Not Change a Thing

Homosexuals have always walked a fine line between choice and genetics. If it is a choice then there is nothing “wrong” with them that medicine can fix but if it is genetics then they should be protected like any other class that has no choice (Race, gender, handicapped and age). There have always been studies and now there is the latest that tries to get it both ways.

Julio and Mauricio Cabrera are gay brothers who are convinced their sexual orientation is as deeply rooted as their Mexican ancestry. They are among 1,000
pairs of gay brothers taking part in the largest study to date seeking genes that may influence whether people are gay.

The Cabreras hope the findings will help silence critics who say homosexuality is an immoral choice.

If fresh evidence is found suggesting genes are involved, perhaps homosexuality will be viewed as no different than other genetic traits like height and hair color, said Julio, a student at DePaul University in Chicago.


Or maybe it is more akin to alcoholism, Down Syndrome, or infertility.

Julio Cabrera tries to link homosexuality to common genetic traits in order to get the best of both worlds. He tries to make homosexuality a common trait like the color of one’s hair. It would allow the movement to pursue an agenda to be protected as race, age and gender is protected but it might also put it under the umbrella of the Disabilities Act. That is where the fine line is too being walked, because if homosexuality is a genetic disability then there should be a push for a cure.

My personal view of homosexuality is that it is similar to alcoholism, sometimes genetic and sometimes choice. When it is pursued as a choice then there is some underlying psychological reason that pushes a person to an alternate life style, as with alcohol it is a form of escape. When it is genetic there is a “hard wire” that makes an individual pursue that path when exposed. As with alcohol there is only two directions a person can take, give in or a constant struggle against giving in. That is why they both need support if they take the path of resisting the urges. It is a situation that requires tough love not enabling or condemnation.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Eye Catching New

Just a few items that caught my eye as I looked around the different news sources.

Iraq Casualties Continue Decline in First Half of October
The U.S. casualty count in Iraq continued to decline in the first half of October, according to Department of Defense reports. Through the afternoon of October 15, the Defense Department reported that 15 U.S. military personal had been killed in Iraq since October 1. Thirteen of these were combat-related, while the other two were not. The most recent Defense-Department-reported death occurred on Oct. 12.

Problems remain ahead of EU treaty summit
15.10.2007 - 17:44 CET By Renata GoldirovaEUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – With only three days until EU leaders meet in Lisbon to adopt a new EU treaty, a number of issues are continuing to cloud the horizon.
EU foreign ministers at their final pre-summit talks in Luxembourg on Monday (15 October) left the contentious issues to the 27 heads of states and governments to work out a deal at the end of this week (18-19 October).

US Builds Bunker of an Embassy in Iraq
The United States is building a fortress in Baghdad's Green Zone to serve as its embassy. But the giant project may turn into a disaster as questions are raised about how the construction is being run -- and whether a self-contained bunker is the best approach to diplomacy.

OPEC raises forecast for oil demand
FRANKFURT: The price of a barrel of oil crashed through $85 on Monday for the first time as leading oil exporters said it was increasingly likely that the United States would dodge a recession - ensuring that U.S. demand would help keep the cost of crude high.

California to be the target of gun smugglers.

When I first read through this I wonder how it would actually dry up firearm sales but as I re-read is see that is exactly what it is designed to do.

The new law, AB 1471, requires information about a gun's make, model and identification number to be laser engraved onto the gun's firing pin.
Theoretically, the information would transfer itself onto the bullet cartridge when the pistol is fired, allowing police to match bullet casings found at crime scenes with the gun that fired the bullet.
If manufactures are unwilling to make the changes in production, then new semiautomatic pistols would not be sold in CA. That brings up the question about firearms purchased in other state and then brought into CA. Back to the original idea though, this will only really affect those who will follow the law in the first place, since it is relatively easy to circumvent this law. One could change out compatible firing pins or just as easy file down the pin to remove the laser engraved image.
Criminals will be able to remove the laser engraving in moments, using common household tools, the group said. And it would be easy for criminals to scatter microstamped cartridges from other guns at crime scenes to confuse police, critics say.
Criminals do not follow the law, hence they are criminals, so there would be a gun smuggling industry into CA that will spring up over night. Of course this is only currently aimed at semiautomatic pistols, so shotguns (truly the best home defense weapon) are untouched.

One idea is that only criminals use these types of weapons or at least are the predominate users but what about law enforcement? If manufactures are unwilling to take the steps to actually make these laser engraved firing pins, what will police do?

Middle East Marshall Plan

I posted over at WatchBlog in the Republican & Conservative forum about the need for a modern day Marshall Plan (MP) for the ME. What the MP boiled down to was an exclusive economical contract between the US and the European countries that took part (Russia was offered but declined). There was of course some requirements of the participants.

The United States offered up to $20 billion for relief, but only if the European nations could get together and draw up a rational plan on how they would use the aid. For the first time, they would have to act as a single economic unit; they would have to cooperate with each other.

The situation is not exactly the same of course. Europe was destitute and broken in so many ways. The US gave them around 13 billion dollars up to 1953 on the requirement they bought their good from the US.
The Marshall Plan, it should be noted, benefited the American economy as well.
The money would be used to buy goods from the United States, and they had to be shipped across the Atlantic on American merchant vessels.
With Iraq and Afghanistan the situation is not exactly the same. Iraq has the ability to produce and money making product and has already started but hasn’t gotten there yet. Afghanistan’s major export is drugs and that has to change.

So what could a ME Marshall Plan look like? First of all it has to be formal and for the world to see. It has to be enacted through Congress and participation is by choice. A complete renouncing of terrorism is an obvious requirement. Since it is an economic agreement, there has to be a contract for exclusive supplier and purchaser of goods between the countries. I say countries because all participates would essentially be creating a temporary and exclusive micro economy. For example let say that Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan agreed to join the US in a partnership. Iraq would be able to sell oil only to those four countries at market value. At first those countries would be buying a lot of goods from the US, but of course they would also be receiving aid to cover those costs. As their economies grow and become self sufficient, the countries may opt out or become a strong partner in the micro economy.
Unlike the original MP, there would be a military aspect to it also. This would in the spirit of NATO (which isn’t a perfect entity but it has done the job of stopping war in Europe). At first it would be heavily dominated by the US, but as training of other participating countries improved then the US’s role would decrease (Something that didn’t fully happen with NATO). Any military bases in the area would not be owned by the US but would be used as joint effort.

Another requirement would be that this would only be offered to countries that have some form of Democracy. This would be a big stumbling block for several countries but in the long run, having a large block of successful Democratic countries would be a huge influence to others.

One of the side effects would be ME version of the Cold War that would probably be closer to a Luke Warm War.

This just a pondering of single man in front of a computer so I am sure I have understate several thing, over simplified others and gotten many other just plain wrong but I still believe a overall strategy needs to be developed, enacted and put in front of the world.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Can We Believe and Trust

There has been a reaction by the different Christian establishments around the world to the Muslin outreach.

"This is [a] substantial letter which speaks of the unity of God from a Muslim perspective," he said. "It demands a substantial response which approaches the same theme from a Christian perspective."

Unfortunately there is a lot of ground to cover and trust is a big issue.
In their letter, the Islamic scholars acknowledged differences between Muslim and Christian views on Jesus. Citing verse 4:171 of the Koran, they said Muslims recognize Jesus as "a Messenger from God." (They did not quote the entire verse, however, which goes on to say "Allah is only one Allah; far be it from His glory that He should have a son." Also missing was 9:30, which reads in part, "the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah ... may Allah destroy them.")
There is an aspect of Islam that makes trust difficult. (Via The Big Picture)
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), page 79:

When it comes to unbelievers -- particularly those who are at war with Muslims -- Muhammad enunciated quite a different principle: "War is deceit."


Specifically, he taught that lying was permissible in battle


There is suppose to be no lying but only if both parties are Muslim. There is also the concept of a truce only lasting ten years. If this is a truce between Muslims and Christians, then we as Non-Muslims should only expect it to last for 10 years as they re-arm them selves and can attack from a position of greater strength. There is sound reason that Christian leaders are hesitant to embrace the letter. It is a thin line to walk, there desire for peace and guarding oneself against attack.

Followup:

Muslims in general believe that Christians are being mislead with the deity of Christ and that if we finally except that we are mistaken about the idea of the Trinity, then all can be forgiven. When the twelfth Imam returns, Jesus Christ will also be there to enlighten the Christians to there mistake.

Democrat Leader doesn't want to protect ID

Majority Leader Harry Reid supports identify theft or just he doesn’t understand the law.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday he supports a decision by a district court judge that halts new Department of Homeland Security rules designed to make businesses accountable for employing illegal immigrants -- but the senator seemed confused over the court decision itself.
Right or wrong (mainly wrong) SSN is used for proof of ID. I know this because I have moved several time and needed to use it in order to receive a new driver’s licenses, register to vote and get a passport.

Stopping illegal immigrants from gaining employment will do more to deter then any wall because there will be less of a reason for them to come in the first place. America is still the land of opportunity whether the person is here legally or not.

Update:
As one would expect Captain Ed has more.


Every time I start to add to this, I go off on a tangent so I am going back off and regroup on this subject. I will be come back to this so here is a little sample of the direction I am going.
I am totally for legal immigration, I am even for more of it but illegal immigration creates more problems than it solves. Right now the US has an extremely low unemployment rate which normally drives up wages as employers fight for qualified workers but when the cheap work force of illegal immigrants is injected in to the mix, that keeps wages lower for longer. Sooner or later the economy will start to decrease and unemployment will rise again

Inspired by John Cox

John Cox post a deliciously funny banner for a potential blog and made an offer to give it away. If i had seen it first, there would have been a strong possibility of a name change on my part, but I was several hours too late (at least it went to a dog). The poster formally known as Snowdog has launch his very own site called Free Range Honky and is already getting traffic. As I know, building traffic is a difficult thing but hopefully he will receive enough encouragement to keep going. So the best of luck to the poster formally known as Snowdog but now just a Free Range Honky.

Even though I was too late benefit myself, I also want to thank JC for being so generous.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Substance for a Better Image?

A good start, hopefully a very good start.

Using quotations from the Bible and the Koran to support their message, the scholars told people who relished conflict and destruction that "our very eternal souls are" at stake "if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony."
Captain Ed talks about another good start.

Would any of this ever of happen without the War on Terror? The world will never know for sure, so depending on the individuals political stance the answer will be different. Some will say it happen in spite of Iraq, while others will look at Iraq as the spark that got the fire going.
I have been spouting off against the idea of Hollywood engaging in a Jihad to improve Muslims’ image because without any substance it is all just propaganda. This could be the substance behind the words. One can only hope that Muslims and any other religion can live together.

Healing the World, One Finger Pointing at a Time

Why do we need Congress to waste their time and our money to tell us something we already know?

"We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915," Bush said in remarks that, reflecting official American policy, carefully avoided the use of the word genocide.

"This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror." A total of 1.5 million Armenians were killed beginning in 1915 in a systematic campaign by the fraying Ottoman Empire to drive Armenians out of eastern Turkey. Turks acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died but contend that the deaths, along with thousands of others, resulted from the war that ended with the creation of modern Turkey in 1923.

Is this how a Democrat majority heals the reputation of the US around the world? The Ottoman emprie exists no more, what exactly does this accomplish? Japan just went through this just a short time ago. That really made the world a better place, didn't it. What next, a resolution about Nazis or better yet one aimed toward Attila the Hun, Gengis Kahn or how about Stalin?

Listen to Us

Timothy Garton Ash discusses why the EU isn’t important and he feels it is because they don’t have any one with a strong, clear message to speak for the EU.

So it's more image-lack than image-loss: it's more that people in the rest of the world have a weak image of what Europe is, rather than having a negative image of it. We've just had the largest enlargement in the history of the European Union, in 2004, and that's a huge achievement -- it's not surprising if that was followed by a few hiccups. I wouldn't overstate the degree or prevalence of gloom. What is missing is a clear European voice in the wider world.
Of course it helps to have a strong, clear message in the first place. This is not a hiccup as TGA describes it but a failure of the basic building blocks.
The European constitution was knocked off course when France and the Netherlands rejected it in referendums in May and June 2005, but European leaders are now discussing ways of reviving it in full or in part.
When the EU can put together a clear message, then a voice will come to light. There is no mechanism for one person to become the voice of the EU currently. Things need to change in order for that to happen. It kind a like a blogger who thinks they are important just because they exist. The Eu needs to be capable of actually accomplishing something before they can be important.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Doctor Who

Hollywood's Jihad

I started in on this yesterday but I just read (via Big Lizard) that over at Pajama Media, Jules Crittenden asked when Hollywood would start making wars of real world events instead of preaching and I think that question has been answered.

Forget the drama and the labored, moral-shoving plot lines that actually have nothing to do with combat and everything to do with your politics. Focus on depicting something that approaches the reality, and its utter disregard for your moralism.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations' Los Angeles office (CAIR-LA) and FOX Television recently co-hosted a "Hollywood 101" workshop to introduce aspiring Muslim writers, directors and actors to the entertainment industry.
Hollywood’s answer is not just more of the same but even more of the same. Less reality and more preaching will be the trend of Hollywood until they convert us, go out of business or get back in touch with reality.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Balance or Propaganda?

Muslims want a new image and they want Hollywood to give it to them. If the image is un true doesn’t that make it propaganda?

An Islamic advocacy group wants the entertainment industry to present a more positive image of Muslims and Arabs, who often play terrorists on television and in the movies –
They also play terrorists on the news and in real life as they suicide bomb and beheaded people. Most Muslims are not terrorists but most terrorist are Muslim. Using Muslim terrorist s as “bad guys” in today’s world is the same as using Nazis as “bad guys” for WW II movie.

Should there be positive portrayals of Muslims in entertainment? Of course there should, but it would be helpful if there were more positive portrayals of Muslims in real world at the same time.
CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said the best way to promote an "accurate and balanced portrayal of Muslims in America and around the world" is thought media outlets that shape popular culture.
If CAIR is serious about improving the image of Muslims through the media, then every one of the TV shows/movies should make a point in denouncing Muslim terrorists. Until then it is just propaganda.

King of the Mountain

An Article over at Spiegel Online is calling on America to do something but it isn’t what you might expect. It calls for President Bush to throw America’s weight around.

But unless Bush first gets publicly tougher on Russia as Iran's protector and international obstructionist, the mullahs may take America's insistence on skirting this reality as the surest sign they can get that they're home free.
John Vinocur isn’t a stranger to calling for the US to step up it just seems strange coming from someone employed NY Times.

It has been said by some circles that Putin and Russia feel betrayed by the US because we didn't help them out enough after the end of the cold war. It could also be that Putin/Russia has a driving desire to be important in the world.

At the end of the Cold War it left the world in a strange place. The US was left in a position of influence and power; the sole "super power". Of course that is a situation that can not exist for long. Since then there have been a couple of countries and organization that are taking aim at being an equal. The EU was constructed to be a direct counter part to the US, China has always been moving toward it and have made great strides.

What to world is seeing now is Russia trying to fill its' old shoes before anyone else gets there. The Middle East is the playground in the world game of King of the Mountain and Russia is using everything it can to get up to the top.

Monday, October 8, 2007

R&D Gap

There are two things I take away from this story. First, despite what some would say, the main reason that drugs are more expensive in the US is because the US is doing the research.


Only three EU companies have made it to the global top ten for investors in research and development, according to an EU report on R&D investment.


US companies dominate the list – five in the top ten, and the first four of the top five - with pharmaceutical company Pfizer being the champion on R&D spending.


If the US began importing drugs, what would happen to the future? First of all, break through would suffer and people would continue to suffer from things that could have been prevented. Of course where there is money there is corruption. But on the other end there is a struggle to actually market what has been developed.


The second thing (this is actually the main thrust of the story) is gap in research. That gap relates to the gap in technology and indirectly to the standard of living. This is reflected in a higher population but lower GDP when comparing the EU to the US. Look at the chart from the study and remember that non-EU consist of the US, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland. The EU has 18 companies among the top 50 R&D investors, the same number as in the 2006 Scoreboard. The USA has 20 companies, two more than last year. Japan has 9 companies, one less than in last year , Switzerland has 2 and South Korea has 1.

The only two categories where the EU is in the lead is fixed line communication and aerospace & defense.

By their own definition, the EU has not been able to compete.
The comparison of research spending between the EU and the rest of the world is considered to be one of the main indicators to determine whether the EU will
become the most competitive economy by 2010 - an EU goal set out in the Lisbon
strategy.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The World of Torture

I guess this means Germany won’t be talking about our record on torture anymore.

German prosecutors attempting to prove a salesman guilty of al-Qaida membership have been relying on the results of his interrogation in Pakistan. He says his testimony was extracted by means of torture.

All I can really say is I would rather be helded by US authorities than any other nation.

Breast Cancer and Abortions

Abortion for health reasons has always been a gray area to many but it seems it is a little grayer.

Peter Carroll of London's Pension and Population Research Institute reports in "The Breast Cancer Epidemic: Modeling and Forecasts Based on Abortion and Other Risk Factors" that countries with high abortion rates, such as England and Wales, can expect a substantial increase in the number of cases of breast cancer
over the next few decades.
This isn’t the first study to point to this but they always seem to be swept under the rug.
At the time, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called the study "mischief making" whose only purpose was to cause anxiety. "This report should not influence women in making decisions about abortion at difficult times in their life," the organization said.

In other words, right now is more important then later on. The need to have abortion on demand is more important to some people then the child’s life or apparently the mother’s.

The NCI has their own take on this.
The newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk.
So there it is, two sides with different studies to back up their view. One side wants to continue abortion as a healthy choice and the other wants to caution the use of abortion, but what about a different look.
One study shows pregnancy may even have a good effect on the immune system, one that could prevent recurrences of breast cancer, said Dr. Mirhashemi. According to this theory, fetal antigen cells during pregnancy can evoke a strong memory response from the immune system (created by previous exposure to breast cancer cells), and will keep any small cancers in check. However,Dr. Mirhashemi says, "This is a very complex theory and only one small study has addressed it. It?s a very interesting fact that fetal antigens share common antigens with breast
cancer cells. It is certainly worthy of further study."
If a full term pregnancy after cancer treatment is beneficial, does logic dictate that a cut short pregnancy would be detrimental (how about several)?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Still Giving Lessons on Tyranny

Burma/Myanmar continues to give the world real examples of tyranny.

Burma's military junta is continuing its bloody crackdown on protesters. People accused of having taken photos and leaking them to other countries have been detained, and journalists are being threatened by state radio.


Burma's state radio is currently berating and threatening journalists critical of the country's military junta, describing them as "public nuissances" and "saboteurs." Meanwhile, news agencies are reporting the arrests of several Burmese journalists.

In contrast to what can be publish in the US.
Tyrant in the White House
General Petraeus or General Betray Us?
Bank Data Secretly Reviewed by U.S. to Fight Terror
Clinton sex scandal great news for Web
Watergate

Anyone calling the US a land of tyranny doesn’t understand what the word means. I suggest that for the true mean one only needs to ask someone from Burma.

The Extremes of Intelligence

I came across this story some time ago and it stuck but I have to say the title is really misleading in several respects.

Men are smarter (and more stupid) than women, say scientists.
But the article doesn’t really say that. It does not show that men have higher IQ’s nor lower IQ’s.

When scientists measured the intelligence of more than 2,500 brothers and sisters, they found a disproportionate number of men in both the top 2 percent and the bottom 2 percent.


There were twice as many men as women in the smartest group. But there were also twice as many men among the dunces

Putting that to the numbers, it means if you picked the three smartest people out of a group of 300 there would be two men and one woman. On the opposite end there would be two men and one woman that would qualify as the dumbest. The difference between the three on each end is immeasurable.
It means the men have a tendency, with a 2:1 ratio, to be on the extremes of intelligence. In other word men have a greater chance of being genius or imbeciles and women have a greater chance of being average.

Of course this study ignores a potentially important concept.
Being a successful person does not entail having only a successful career, or having lots of money, or simply possessing a high intellectual/academic intelligence (IQ). In fact, as data from more developed countries shows, only 20% of a person's success in life is attributed to IQ, leaving 80% to other factors -- especially to his/her emotional
intelligence
.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Faith in Science

An atheist conference called for science to destroy religion.

Science must ultimately destroy organized religion, according to some of the leading atheist writers and intellectuals who spoke at a recent atheist conference in Northern Virginia. God is a myth, and children must not be schooled in any faith, they said, at the "Crystal Clear Atheism" event, sponsored by the Atheist Alliance International.
The two keynote speakers seemed to have slightly different views about religion in general. One said all religions are the same while the other marked differences. One basically said there are no moderate religions just ones who haven’t decided to blow themselves up yet, while the other just felt that believers just need to smarten up. One got a standing ovation while the other received a polite clap.

The black and white and highly popular Dawkins did have two interesting quotes. The first one, I think he is on to something but then loses it in the end.
"Religion is not the root of all evil, but it gets in the way of [determining] how we got here and where we find ourselves," Dawkins said. "And that is an evil in itself."
Religion can be used in evil way without a doubt. The Spanish Inquisition jumps right out in my mind, followed by suicide bombing in the name of Allah. I could go on to name endless examples on how evil was done in the name of religion but then again I could also list evil after evil where religion had nothing to do with it. The evil comes from a lust for power. There are many tools used to gather that power such as money, political influence, physical strength, knowledge and religious doctrine but it all boils down to becoming your own god. That is the point I think he is missing, he is blaming the tool.

The second one I happen to completely agree with him but probably not for the same reason.
Dawkins was particularly critical of parents who raise their children as a "Catholic child" or "Protestant child." Children must not be labeled as subscribing to a particular religion, he said, and should be allowed to examine the evidence and determine their beliefs for themselves.
Becoming a Christian is a choice that each person should make on their own. Parents, as Christians, do have a duty to expose their children to words of God but they should not try to force anything upon them.
Many of the attendees seemed to have developed an aversion to religion from
conservative, Protestant Christians. Several of the atheists Cybercast News Service spoke to complained of living under fundamentalist parents who frowned upon any questioning of the Bible or any activity condemned in Scripture.
Each and every person should be free to question the Bible. As for activities condemned by the Bible, there is not a Christian out there that hasn’t committed an activity condemned by the Bible. It is called sin and everyone does it no matter how holy they pretend to be (which in itself is a sin). There is a fine line between condemning the sin and condemning the sinner and it is a line that is cross a lot. When that line is crossed, there tends to be negative effects. Nobody likes to have a finger pointed at them even if they are in the wrong.

This wouldn’t be Mutt Lounge if I didn’t make one dog reference in such a long post. When house training a puppy, one can beat them in to obedience but there are some very negative effects. A beaten dog is never as affectionate and is more likely to bite. They tend to be less loyal and run away when given the chance.
Lastly, I will make one Biblical reference. King David (from David and Goliath) is repeated called “a man after God’s own heart” and even he committed adultery and murder.

Church and State

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Balking Senators

Yet another example on why I think Senators don’t make good Presidents, especially those still serving. Here is a perfect chance for those run for the highest office to put their votes where their mouth is and they balk.

Not Voting - 5
Biden (D-DE) Clinton (D-NY)
Dodd (D-CT) McCain (R-AZ)
Obama (D-IL)

There is little doubt where McCain would have voted so maybe that’s why Captain Ed gives him a pass while taking the Democrats to task. When decisiveness is needed, you have the four Democrats running for possible deniability. They probably don’t want to upset the Moveon.org sugar daddy who is calling for the immediate pull out of Iraq. I guess they don’t want to be caught like Kerry did.

Senators politic and nuiance every thing to death when leadership is needed. We need a President that will make a stand and have their word mean something.
Aaron Tippin had a song a while ago that says it all when comes to Senators.

He'd say you've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything
You've got to be your own man not a puppet on a string
Never compromise what's right and uphold your family name
You've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything

And Normalcy Means Tyranny

A representative of the military government of the country formally known as Burma has informed everyone to mind their own business because things are back to normal.

Maj.-Gen. U. Nyan Win told the U.N. General Assembly in New York that Burma had been targeted by "neo-colonialist attempts" to impose political change from
outside.

"Political opportunists" has exploited protests against a fuel price hike and tried "to turn the situation into a political showdown aided and abetted by some powerful countries," he said.

After exercising utmost restraint in the face of the protests, security forces had been compelled to act to restore "normalcy."

This was achieved by the death of at least 10 peacefully demonstrating monks and the arrest of thousands more. Their crime was asking for Democracy and making the government look bad. Burma shares a very large border with the world’s largest Democracy and the world’s largest Communist state and both of them are trying to influence things to their own gain. Both are trying to secure a border point through supporting an oppressive regime. This why there has been a lot said by China while India has been mostly quiet. China wants Myanmar because it is similar to itself and sharing a border with a Democracy would be a bad thing. After all people in Communist countries have an irritating desire to defect from the people’s government.

India on the other hand is playing the waiting game. The original directive was to push for human rights and Democracy but that was given up as China’s influence grew and theirs lessen. India changed direction to a support the junta with efforts to nudge slightly. This is why they have been for the most part silent because they don’t want to create a wedge, they don’t want to break the fragile connection they have with the junta. If the pressure is ratcheted up by the UN, EU and the US expect India to step in and broker a deal. China or Russia would love to be the broker which is why they have already set themselves up as roadblocks. Both of them have burned a lot of diplomatic bridges so peace broker is not a roll that fits either very well. India on the other hand could be in position to fill that role quite readily.

Update:
Mike Baker over at Fox paints a much bleaker outcome and I wish I could disagree.