Monday, August 16, 2010

Political Digest August 16, 2019

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.
Love survives; Children cherish stories, pictures of fathers killed in Vietnam War,+pictures+of+fathers+killed...-a0165154323
This was weird to receive. It focuses on three lost in Vietnam. One is William Mullen, a Marine pilot. I’ve worn his MIA bracelet since the 1970s, have it on as I type. ~Bob. Excerpt: Mr. Mullen was 5 years old and his brother, Terrance, was 4 when their mother, Barbara, received word that their father was missing in action. His father was stationed at Chu Lai Chu Lai () was a United States Navy base in Dung Quat Bay, Vietnam, which was used from 1964 - 1971 during the Vietnam War. The base was roughly 56 miles southeast of Danang. , South Vietnam South Vietnam: see Vietnam. , and was the pilot of the No. 3 aircraft in a flight of three A-4s on a mission…

Another Political Quiz
I got 11.

My friend George asks how much money is being sent from the New York Mosque backers to help the Muslims in the flood in Pakistan? Charity to fellow Muslims, though not to infidels, is one of the Five pillars of Islam.

Taliban calls for boycott of Western aid as Swat Valley ravaged by floods
Out of cultural sensitivity, we should cease all aid to Islamic countries. Excerpt: The radicals are already making a play for power, calling on the government in Islamabad on Wednesday to refuse Western aid, essential for Pakistan's reconstruction. The UN has appealed for £300 million in emergency aid. "We condemn American and other foreign aid and believe that it will lead to subjugation," said Pakistan Taliban Azam Tariq. "Our jihad against America will continue."

Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents
Excerpt: At first, the news from Yemen on May 25 sounded like a modest victory in the campaign against terrorists: an airstrike had hit a group suspected of being operatives for Al Qaeda in the remote desert of Marib Province, birthplace of the legendary queen of Sheba. But the strike, it turned out, had also killed the province’s deputy governor, a respected local leader who Yemeni officials said had been trying to talk Qaeda members into giving up their fight. Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accepted responsibility for the death and paid blood money to the offended tribes. The strike, though, was not the work of Mr. Saleh’s decrepit Soviet-era air force. It was a secret mission by the United States military, according to American officials, at least the fourth such assault on Al Qaeda in the arid mountains and deserts of Yemen since December. The attack offered a glimpse of the Obama administration’s shadow war against Al Qaeda and its allies. In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists. (...) Instead of “the hammer,” in the words of John O. Brennan, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, America will rely on the “scalpel.” In a speech in May, Mr. Brennan, an architect of the White House strategy, used this analogy while pledging a “multigenerational” campaign against Al Qaeda and its extremist affiliates. Yet such wars come with many risks: the potential for botched operations that fuel anti-American rage; a blurring of the lines between soldiers and spies that could put troops at risk of being denied Geneva Convention protections; a weakening of the Congressional oversight system put in place to prevent abuses by America’s secret operatives; and a reliance on authoritarian foreign leaders and surrogates with sometimes murky loyalties.

AP-GfK polls show Obama losing independents
Excerpt: Independents who embraced President Barack Obama's call for change in 2008 are ready for a shift again, and that's worrisome news for Democrats. Only 32 percent of those citing no allegiance to either major party say they want Democrats to keep control of Congress in this November's elections, according to combined results of recent Associated Press-GfK polls. That's way down from the 52 percent of independents who backed Obama over Republican Sen. John McCain two years ago, and the 49 percent to 41 percent edge by which they preferred Democratic candidates for the House in that election, according to exit polls of voters. Independents voice especially strong concerns about the economy, with 9 in 10 calling it a top problem and no other issue coming close, the analysis of the AP-GfK polls shows. While Democrats and Republicans rank the economy the No. 1 problem in similar numbers, they are nearly as worried about their No. 2 issues, health care for Democrats and terrorism for Republicans.

Obama’s Indecision and the Iranian Bomb
Excerpt: Does President Obama even know what he wants? Having what appeared to be an endorsement of the Cordoba Project mosque being built on Ground Zero, the New York Times ran the headline: “Obama Strongly Backs Islam Center Near 9/11 Site.” Suddenly late Saturday, the president ran for cover and told both Politico and the New York Times “that he wasn’t endorsing the specific project but making a general plea for religious tolerance toward all.” As the once paper of record reported on Saturday, “ he was ‘not commenting on the wisdom’ of that project, but rather trying to uphold the broader principle that government should treat ‘everyone equal, regardless’ of religion.” The White House press office quickly explained, “Just to be clear, the president is not backing off in any way from the comments he made last night” — except, just to be clear, he is backing off from them. Can we be any more confused? In seeking his outreach to the Muslim world, the president now seems to be emulating the Arab leaders whose respect he courts — the same leaders who regularly say one thing to their own constituency and something else when talking to the West. But in this case, the president was addressing Americans on both nights — and hence made obviously contradictory statements, only one of which can be true.

U.S. Will Pay $2.6 Million to Train Chinese Prostitutes to Drink Responsibly on the Job
I hope this is satire or someone’s fantasy. In a nod to Chinese erotica, they should have called them “Jadegatekeepers.” Excerpt: The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will pay $2.6 million in U.S. tax dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job. Dr. Xiaoming Li, the researcher conducting the program, is director of the Prevention Research Center at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. The grant, made last November, refers to prostitutes as "female sex workers"--or FSW--and their handlers as "gatekeepers." "Previous studies in Asia and Africa and our own data from FSWs [female sex workers] in China suggest that the social norms and institutional policy within commercial sex venues as well as agents overseeing the FSWs (i.e., the 'gatekeepers', defined as persons who manage the establishments and/or sex workers) are potentially of great importance in influencing alcohol use and sexual behavior among establishment-based FSWs," says the NIH grant abstract submitted by Dr. Li. "Therefore, in this application, we propose to develop, implement, and evaluate a venue-based alcohol use and HIV risk reduction intervention focusing on both environmental and individual factors among venue-based FSWs in China," says the abstract.

Councils pay for prostitutes for the disabled
Excerpt: One local authority is using its budget to pay for the services of a prostitute in Amsterdam, while others have said visits to lap dancing clubs are permissible under new policies which transfer funds directly to those who receive care from social services. Holidays abroad, subscriptions for internet dating and driving lessons have all been funded by the taxpayer under a national initiative introduced by the last Government. The £520 million scheme promised to give elderly people and those with disabilities more control over the care they received, by passing on cash so individuals could choose the services they needed, such as home help, or mobility aids. An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph can disclose that exotic holidays, internet dating subscriptions and adventure breaks, as well as visits to sex workers and lap dancing clubs have been permitted under the system. One local authority has agreed a care plan including payment for a 21-year-old with learning disabilities to have sex with a prostitute in Amsterdam next month. His social worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said social services were there to identify and meet the needs of their clients – which, in the case of an angry and frustrated young man, meant paying for sex. (For once, it isn't just the taxpayer who's getting screwed. Unfortunately, this isn't a joke. I might reconsider moving to the UK; I think I could persuade them to designate "chronic conservatism" as a disability that prevents me from seeing the world the same way they do. Ron P. Actually, Ron, as someone who now rates a disabled tag due to pulling an oxygen tank, I consider this to be an enlightened policy I hope will be coming soon to Illinois. ~Bob)

Is Portugal's Liberal Drug Policy a Model for US?
Excerpt: Ten years ago, Portugal had some 100,000 heroin addicts -- about 1 percent of its entire population. HIV infections from injecting drugs were among the highest in Europe. Now the addict count has been cut nearly in half. HIV infections from drug use have fallen more than 90 percent. And the policy shift responsible for such a dramatic improvement in Portuguese life is something U.S. lawmakers -- watching an escalating drug war on their southern border -- might consider worthy of some attention: decriminalization. Ten years ago this summer, Portugal became the first country in Europe to decriminalize all illegal drugs -- marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and even heroin. Hefty fines and prison sentences still await drug traffickers and dealers, but users caught with less than a 10-day supply of any drug are no longer considered criminals. Instead, they're referred to a panel comprised of a drug-treatment specialist, a lawyer and a civil servant, who usually recommend treatment -- and pay for it, too. If the users decline treatment and go back to abusing drugs, that's their prerogative. But statistics show they're not doing that. Instead, about 45 percent of the 100,000 heroin addicts Portugal's Health Ministry recorded in 2000 had by 2008 decided to at least try to quit the habit, without the threat of jail time. And the number of new HIV cases among users fell from 2,508 in the year 2000 to 220 cases in 2008, Alun Jones, a spokesman for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, told AOL News. "This was a major success," he said. (I can't/won't speak for Bob, but TOJ is on record as supporting almost anything to take the economic incentive out of drug dealing. Personally, I am aware of some criticisms of the Netherlands' drug liberalization, but I had not heard of Portugal's approach before. These are impressive results. We should at least consider this policy. We have very little left to lose. One point I must make: when the article says HIV/AIDS infections are "only" 50% of what they were 10 years ago, that has to include a sizeable number of cases who died. What should have been emphasized is that new infections are only 10% of what they used to be. Ron P. Yes, I’d stop making drug USE a crime, have the government license the sale of the drugs and use the proceeds from that and open prison space to fund treatment programs and reduce the deficit. But I’d also then execute anyone selling a drug without a license. Yes, I know the bleeding hearts would rather have murder, crime and drug hooked children robbing their parents and ruining their lives, than agree to executions. Okay, compromise. Life at hard labor, no parole, no TV or amenities. Street crime, murder and prostitution would drop rapidly. ~Bob)

In U.S., Confidence in Newspapers, TV News Remains a Rarity
Maybe if they’d go back to reporting the news, instead of telling us what to think and promoting the politicians and policies that make their legs tingle, this would change. ~Bob Excerpt: The findings are from Gallup's annual Confidence in Institutions survey, which found the military faring best and Congress faring worst of 16 institutions tested. Americans' confidence in newspapers and television news is on par with Americans' lackluster confidence in banks and slightly better than their dismal rating of Health Management Organizations and big business. The decline in trust since 2003 is also evident in a 2009 Gallup poll that asked about confidence and trust in the "mass media" more broadly. While perceptions of media bias present a viable hypothesis, Americans have not over the same period grown any more likely to say the news media are too conservative or too liberal. No matter the cause, it is clear the media as a whole are not gaining new fans as they struggle to serve and compete with growing demand for online news, social media, and mobile platforms.

The Point of No Return
Excerpt: For the Obama administration, the prospect of a nuclearized Iran is dismal to contemplate— it would create major new national-security challenges and crush the president’s dream of ending nuclear proliferation. But the view from Jerusalem is still more dire: a nuclearized Iran represents, among other things, a threat to Israel’s very existence. In the gap between Washington’s and Jerusalem’s views of Iran lies the question: who, if anyone, will stop Iran before it goes nuclear, and how? As Washington and Jerusalem study each other intensely, here’s an inside look at the strategic calculations on both sides—and at how, if things remain on the current course, an Israeli air strike will unfold.

Bomb Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Reactor?
Excerpt: Speculation about a possible attack on Iranian nuclear sites has reached a fever pitch over the summer. The talk is so wild that even level-headed commentators on the right like Michael Barone opine aloud that perhaps Israel won’t be the instigator; rather the Obama administration might order a U.S. strike. This still seems beyond unlikely but there is no question that the climate has changed. True, the president’s National Security Advisor the other day reiterated the administration’s willingness for Obama to meet with his Iranian counterpart assuming certain conditions were met—conditions that no one expects will be met. But inside the White House and national security bureaucracy, opinions about Iranian behavior and intentions appear to be hardening. Robert Kagan recently recounted a briefing by the president and top officials in which they made as clear as they could that their patience with Iran has all but run out. (...) Now comes word that Russia will, after a decade-and-a-half of stop-and-go work, finally fuel and start Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr by August 21st. Similar word has come many times before. The Russians are, in the parlance of the region, adept at selling this particular rug over and over. Somehow the carpet never actually changes hands. Could this time be different? Only Vladimir Putin and his immediate circle really know. It matters because, once fueled and operational, Bushehr will produce plutonium 239, which can be used to make nuclear weapons. The plant is also large, impossible to conceal or move, and relatively easy to destroy from the air. But once it has gone critical, any attempt to do so would risk the release of a radioactive plume that might kill civilians and poison surrounding areas. (The author clearly thinks bombing the nuclear sites would be a poor move for either Israel or the US. But he denies having any better ideas. Ron P.)

Russia: Iran’s nuclear plant to get fuel next week
Excerpt: Russia announced Friday it will begin the startup next week of Iran’s only atomic power plant, giving Tehran a boost as it struggles with international sanctions and highlighting differences between Moscow and Washington over pressuring the Islamic Republic to give up activities that could be used to make nuclear arms. Uranium fuel shipped by Russia will be loaded into the Bushehr reactor on Aug. 21, beginning a process that will last about a month and end with the reactor sending electricity to Iranian cities, Russian and Iranian officials said. “From that moment, the Bushehr plant will be officially considered a nuclear energy installation,” said Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for the Russian nuclear agency.

Governing against the People
Excerpt: While it is not yet known whether "the rise of the oceans began to slow" since the nomination/election of Barack Obama, it is clear that Lake Michigan hasn't, thanks to the recent infusion of more than two billion gallons of raw sewage, courtesy of the City of Milwaukee. This is a not-uncommon occurrence due to the fact that the city's storm and sanitary sewers are one and the same and, despite a massively expensive "Deep Tunnel" reservoir, a heavy deluge not only impacts the lake, but causes a backflow into thousands of local homes. Another storm in June of 2008 resulted in a 2.9-billion-gallon spill. Nor is the problem confined to Milwaukee. As the sewage migrates southward toward Chicago, it impacts the shores of three Wisconsin counties and two in northern Illinois. The threat of E. coli results in the closure of beaches and other recreational activities, and the sights and smells do little for the tourist trade. So, given the scope of this environmental and health hazard, occurring on a fairly regular basis, how do the Obama administration and the city and state Democratic machine choose to utilize Wisconsin's allotment of borrowed federal funds? On a "high-speed" rail link between Milwaukee and Madison, of course.

Making November a Political Victory
Excerpt: Ann Coulter, quite rightly, has expressed concern about Republicans declaring victory in the 2010 elections. Most folks understand that capturing the Senate will require some luck. But consider this: RealClearPolitics is balanced and brainy. It shows that in the battle for the House of Representatives, 202 seats lean Democrat, 201 lean Republican, and 32 are tossups. That means Republican chances for gaining even the House -- something everyone is touting is almost certain -- are, in fact, a coin toss. What happens if Republicans go into the voting booth in a few months believing the highly optimistic projections of Dick Morris and other pundits about a Republican landslide...and then Republicans fall short of capturing either house of Congress? Who declares victory the day after the election? Not conservatives; not Republicans. (Guard against overconfidence; pride goeth before a fall. Ron P.)

Liberals Start "F*ck Tea" Party Campaign
Tom Jefferson would be so proud of the party that touts him as its founder. Excerpt: Opponents of the Tea Party movement tried responding to the conservative grassroots movement nicely -- by creating the inclusive, deliberative Coffee Party. But now they're ready to get mean. A new progressive group called the Agenda Project has launched the "F*ck Tea" campaign. "Progress is the real American party," reads the campaign website's tag line. "Set aside your good manners, your tolerance, your measured understanding of policy differences, and your earnest do-gooder ideas for a just a moment to join me in telling the Tea Party what you really think of them," Agenda Project founder Erica Payne said in a press release.

The Few. The Proud. The New Marines?
The Corps has always been able to put more effective combat power on the ground at a lower cost than the Army. But politics, envy and greed being what it is, that may not be enough to prevent this weakening of America’s defenses. ~Bob. Excerpt: Declaring "the maritime soul of the Marine Corps" is at stake, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered a review of the seaborne service that since 9/11 has functioned more like a "second land army." In a speech in San Francisco, Gates spoke of "anxiety" over the future role of the service after nearly a decade of fighting on land in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said some feel the Corps has "become too heavy, too removed from their expeditionary, amphibious roots and the unique skill sets those missions require." Though many Marines are battle-tested, some "may never have stepped aboard a ship." Gates did not say Thursday whether the force structure review, to be led by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Gen. James Amos, the incoming Marine commandant, will result in "the few" becoming fewer after bulking up in recent years. But in a separate session with sailors aboard the destroyer USS Higgins, the Pentagon chief said the Corps had "gotten too big" and would be trimmed. That prediction is in line with a larger overhaul that Gates detailed this week. It will involve belt-tightening across all the services and at the Pentagon to wring out $100 billion in savings over the next five years…. Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, cautioned against too much tinkering with an organization established by the Continental Congress in 1775. "The reality is, when you have one of the most successful combat units in the world," he said, "you do not conduct fascinating social experiments to see if you can transform it into something else."

Temporary marriage has turned into a career and source of income in Iran
This is a Shi’a, but not Sunni tradition. We have it here too. It’s called prostitution. ~Bob. Massoumeh Pareesh, a researcher in the area of Women’s Affairs who provides documentation for her research on the issue of temporary marriages, said: “The average period for temporary marriages ranges anywhere between one hour and five months and financial issues is what drives women to submit to such conjugality. This study has been conducted in a qualitative fashion and is based on in-depth interviews with women who are either in a temporary marriages or have been in one; the minimum period of the contract has been between one hour and 99 years.” Pareesh adds: “Most of these women either were experienced housewives or had worked in service careers such as nursing. Usually women who submitted to temporary marriages had experienced some kind of family trauma or had gone through serious divorce and domestic problems.” Pareesh believes that most of these women faced financial hardship following either a divorce that left them with no support or lost a husband who was the bread winner of the household. She maintains: “Due to a lack of governmental or real social support for these women, and especially those with children, these women have no choice but to marry. Many of these women also know that the men with whom they enter into a temporary marriage does not have adequate financial means but they took what little they received since they had no choice. The women I interviewed believe that men who temporarily marry, do this without their first wives’ knowledge and for different reasons such as the frigidity of their wives. Based on the obtained results, men are not willing to enter into long-term marriages with the women they marry temporarily. But the question remains, what are these women to do after the temporary marriage terminates, as Sharia law dictates that a woman is not permitted to remarry for a period of anywhere between 45 days to two months. Therefore now, the women are forced to marry one man after another which has turned this into a career and a form of commerce. The issue is if this is compatible with Sharia law.”

Post-Primary Polls on Georgia, Colorado, Minnesota and Connecticut
Excerpt: Now that more nominees for governor and Senate have been chosen in this week's primaries, Rasmussen Reports has done quick-hit polls of where the contests stand in Georgia, Colorado, Connecticut and Minnesota. The Minnesota poll was conducted Aug. 12 and the others on Aug. 11. Democrats start with leads in the Colorado and Minnesota governor's races, and the Connecticut Senate race. Republicans hold the edge in the Georgia governor's race and Colorado Senate contest.

At DOJ, Military Voting Rights Hang in the Balance
Excerpt: As I have written about before, the MOVE Act — signed into law in October 2009 — set a mandatory minimum time of 45 days before any federal election to mail ballots to overseas voters. MOVE was a rebuke to the bureaucrats who were stuck on a non-statutory 30-day standard used as a minimum in previous elections. Blind bureaucratic reliance on the 30-day standard resulted in 17,000 overseas ballots not being counted in the 2008 election. The military postal service says 60 days is needed to get ballots to our troops and back again, but a law is only as good as the people enforcing it. The new law contains a waiver provision which allows states to exempt out of the requirements by demonstrating an extreme emergency. They also must submit a plan that provides sufficient time for military voters to have their vote counted. For example, if a state had a constitutional provision in conflict with MOVE, and more time was needed to pass a constitutional amendment, a waiver would be appropriate if it included extra time after the election for the vote to be counted, even if late. A waiver is inappropriate if a state simply decides not to comply with MOVE. But bureaucrats in Washington get to decide. Thankfully the Pentagon, and not the Department of Justice, has the power to grant or deny a waiver. The only leverage the DOJ has over the Pentagon is the unsavory play of suggesting to the Pentagon they won’t sue a state even if a waiver is denied. If the DOJ plays that card, expect it to be done with oblique language well hidden from public view. The political fallout would be catastrophic for an already embattled attorney general.

Last Afghan WikiLeaks out in 'couple of weeks'
I would cheer if we took this guy out. And his team too. ~Bob Excerpt: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange vowed Saturday to publish the last batch of secret documents on the Afghan war in "a couple of weeks", despite Pentagon pleas they would put further lives at risk. Asked at a press conference in Stockholm when the final batch of 15,000 classified files on the Afghan war would be published, Assange said that "We're about half way through, so a couple of weeks." The announcement at a seminar on the control of information came after the Pentagon on Friday renewed pressure on the whistleblower website not to release the documents, saying they posed greater risks than previously released files. "We still are hopeful that WikiLeaks will not publish those documents and put further lives at risk," said Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan. "We are concerned that the additional documents that they have may cause even greater risks than the ones they released previously," he said, calling them "potentially more damaging".

Widow of slain rancher struggles in the heart of immigration debate
Excerpt: Sue Krentz is a conflicted woman, coping with many strands of the complicated, apparently unsolvable quagmire of what has become normal life near the Mexican border. She grapples, for instance, with the calls for a humanitarian approach to immigrants that she hears at St. Luke's Catholic Church. For decades, her family has shown compassion to those who cross the Krentz ranch on their way to find jobs to support their families, she explained, providing water and other aid before calling the Border Patrol. But it pains her deeply that there was no similar compassion from whomever Rob Krentz, 58, encountered while out on his ATV March 27. That day her husband of 33 years, who had "a big, big heart," was shot to death on their ranch northeast of Douglas, as he made his rounds of the property accompanied by his beloved dog, Blue, who also was shot and had to be euthanized.

No Confidence Votes Plague ICE and Border Patrol; show Disturbing Pattern
Excerpt: The recent 259-0 disapproval of ICE’s point man John Morton by his fellow coworkers lends itself to an unwanted pattern in federal law enforcement agencies. Just last year the U.S. Border Patrol’s union, National Border Patrol Council put forth a similar vote and declared “no confidence” in their leader, David V. Aguilar. The unanimous “no confidence vote” from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rank-and-file union came about because the perception that management is abandoning its mission of protecting the public in order to support a political agenda including amnesty. (Obama and his political figureheads at BP and ICE are preventing the agencies and the brave agents from doing their jobs to secure our homeland. Obama/Reid/Pelosi just want amnesty for 20 million mostly Mexican illegal aliens. Playing politics with our national security is treason and the agents' unions are now speaking out! –DH)

France: Priests and bishops refuse to baptize Muslim converts to Christianity, for fear of the consequences
Excerpt: Why do Muslims engage in violent intimidation? Because it works. Until people are willing to stand up and defy it, it will continue to work.

Allen West v. Ron Klein
I contributed to West. ~Bob Excerpt: For retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West, Republican candidate for Congress in Florida’s 22nd District, one word seems to sum up his campaign, his career, his life: “leadership.” “We’ve got to rediscover what leadership is in this country,” West says during an interview in Washington. “In the last 2008 election cycle, we saw American Idol play on a grand scheme. And unfortunately, we believed that giving a good teleprompter speech meant leadership.” It may sound like typical boilerplate rhetoric, but for West, leadership is a culture and a lifestyle he knows well. His father served in World War II, his older brother in Vietnam. Both were Marines, but West chose the Army, serving for 22 years and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. His nephew is an Army captain, serving stateside after two tours overseas. “I’m not from a political family,” West says. “I’m from a family of service.” And it’s service to his country that West says drives him to run for public office. West is once again challenging Democrat Ron Klein, who in 2006 defeated 13-term representative Clay Shaw. In 2008, the then-unknown West unsuccessfully ran against Klein with little financial support from the NRCC. “We raised $583,000 all on our own and ended up with 45.3 percent,” he says. So what has changed between 2008 and 2010 that makes West confident enough to seek a rematch?

Gen. David Petraeus says Afghanistan war strategy 'fundamentally sound'
Yeah, but what did he tell Rolling Stone? ~Bob Excerpt: In a wide-ranging, hour-long interview with The Washington Post, he said he sees incipient signs of progress in parts of the volatile south, in new initiatives to create community defense forces and in nascent steps to reintegrate low-level insurgents who want to stop fighting. With public support for the war slipping and a White House review of the war looming in December, Petraeus said he is pushing the forces under his command to proceed with alacrity. He remains supportive of President Obama's decision to begin withdrawing troops next July, but he said it is far too early to determine the size of the drawdown.

A watery alternative to cremation
Excerpt: The world's first water cremation centre on the Gold Coast is offering a liquid alternative to cremation and burial, using a process it hopes will revolutionise the funeral industry. Aquamation Industries chief executive John Humphries says the service, at the Eco Memorial Park at Stapylton near Dreamworld, is the first of its kind in the world. But he expects around 30 centres around Australia will offer the option within 12 months. (Weird news that is Catholic Church approved. Why not just freeze-dry them and bury the remains in shoe boxes? Ron P. Or flush them. ~Bob)

The Real American Job
Excerpt: AS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS flew home for summer recess, the Obama administration sent along a road map to America's future . It's a vision of a new economy with a new focus on manufacturing, especially for export. The policy is called "Make It in America." In one part of the marketing effort, President Barack Obama spoke about it to the AFL-CIO executive council: "There are other countries fighting for those jobs in China and India and in Germany and other parts of Europe. But the U.S. doesn't play for second place. As long as I'm president, I'm going to keep fighting night and day to make sure that we win those jobs." The president missed the point of economic competition. Businesses don't fight for jobs, they struggle to produce the best possible products at the lowest possible cost, and to sell to the greatest possible number of customers. The goal is profit; jobs follow profit. Obama added, "The message I want to deliver to our competitors—and to those in Washington who've tried to block our progress at every step of the way—is that we are going to rebuild this economy stronger than before, and at the heart of it are going to be three powerful words: Made in America." If "we" means the government and the AFL-CIO, rebuilding the economy will take a long time.

The Climate Wars … ending?
Excerpt: Will the Global Warming movement go down in the annals of scientific fraud as have The Piltdown Man, Eugenics and Lysenkoism? Well, stick with me and be amazed at this infamous tale of the betrayal of a science, that is sure to be a chapter in our grandchildrens’ History of Science textbooks. The story so far … 1972: UN’s first environmental conference in Stockholm. Chairman Maurice Stong praises his conference for “bringing climate change to the top of the global agenda.”. 1974: Time and Newsweek magazines start warning of the next Ice Age. Here are the articles in Time magazine 24 June 1974 and Newsweek magazine 28 April 1975: (Little here is new, but it puts the whole history of the climate change debate in perspective and a sort of a time-line. This article will be a valuable historical tool in the future. The wars aren't over yet. There is still too much money involved, too many reputations at risk, too much sheer political power still up for grabs. There does seem to have been a sea-change in the direction and tenor of the arguments. Warmists are now under almost as much pressure to justify their positions as skeptics were two years ago. Even if the political argument is won soon--which I doubt--by the skeptics, there will still be warmists 20+ years from now. Religions don't just go quietly into the night. Ron P.)

Sharing of Data Leads to Progress on Alzheimer’s
Excerpt: In 2003, a group of scientists and executives from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the drug and medical-imaging industries, universities and nonprofit groups joined in a project that experts say had no precedent: a collaborative effort to find the biological markers that show the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the human brain. Now, the effort is bearing fruit with a wealth of recent scientific papers on the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s using methods like PET scans and tests of spinal fluid. More than 100 studies are under way to test drugs that might slow or stop the disease. And the collaboration is already serving as a model for similar efforts against Parkinson’s disease. A $40 million project to look for biomarkers for Parkinson’s, sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, plans to enroll 600 study subjects in the United States and Europe. The work on Alzheimer’s “is the precedent,” said Holly Barkhymer, a spokeswoman for the foundation. “We’re really excited.” The key to the Alzheimer’s project was an agreement as ambitious as its goal: not just to raise money, not just to do research on a vast scale, but also to share all the data, making every single finding public immediately, available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world. No one would own the data. No one could submit patent applications, though private companies would ultimately profit from any drugs or imaging tests developed as a result of the effort. “It was unbelievable,” said Dr. John Q. Trojanowski, an Alzheimer’s researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s not science the way most of us have practiced it in our careers. But we all realized that we would never get biomarkers unless all of us parked our egos and intellectual-property noses outside the door and agreed that all of our data would be public immediately.” (If this approach had been taken with climate science, 90% (or more) of the problems would have been avoided. And, there would have been no climategate scandal. Ron P.)

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