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.
I’m back on line, trying to get through about 600 e-mails (lucky I did a few hundred while away.) Will post a few things, but swamped, so not every day. Some of these are old, and you may have seen. Your purchase price cheerfully refunded.
U.S. tightens no-fly rules after suspect in failed Times Square attack succeeds in boarding plane
Excerpt: The U.S. government on Wednesday began requiring airlines to check no-fly lists much more quickly as a way to screen out terrorist suspects, officials said, after revelations that the man suspected of trying to detonate a car bomb in Times Square was able to board an international flight even though his name was listed. Until now, airlines have had 24 hours to check the government's no-fly list after they are notified that a name has been added to it through a special, expedited process that indicates a high level of potential risk. Starting Wednesday, they must check within two hours. In Pakistan, meanwhile, authorities were looking for connections between Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old Pakistani American arrested for Saturday's bombing attempt, and terrorist organizations operating in the country. According to an FBI complaint, Shahzad admitted involvement in the Times Square plot and said he received bombmaking training in Waziristan, a tribal area along the border with Afghanistan that harbors Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. Shahzad was placed on the expedited no-fly list Monday at 12:30 p.m. But he was able to purchase a one-way ticket to Pakistan shortly after 7:30 p.m., a little more than four hours before the flight was scheduled to leave. After he boarded the Emirates airline flight at John F. Kennedy International airport, federal officials were alerted to his presence and entered the plane to escort him off.
Forcing out Dave Obey
Excerpt: What do we know about the retirement of Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.)? Why would one of the most powerful men in Congress, elected in 1969, in a district that went for the Obama-Biden ticket, bail out of reelection? Republicans point to the campaign of Sean Duffy, a telegenic (literally) district attorney who raised a lot of money, built a following among national conservatives and, according to everything I'm hearing, was giving Obey a real battle in his internal polls. I've talked to Duffy several times and been so impressed -- and so convinced that this was the sort of race that would determine this was a good or a watershed year for Republicans -- that I dubbed him the No. 3 conservative to watch this year. He made an early bet against the stimulus package, coming out hard for repeal and blaming Obey, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, for not writing a more stimulative bill. When I asked him whether he thought government spending could dig us out of the recession, here was his response: Dave Obey believes that, but give me an example of when that’s worked. I haven’t seen where that’s worked. If it did, that would be the economic plan for countries all around the world.
Rational Risk Pools
Excerpt: Today’s subject title is an oxymoron. But before getting into that, note two things: (1) the Obama Administration’s approach to health reform envisions the creation of risk pools for otherwise uninsurable people — to bridge the gap from where we are now to 2014, when health plans will have to accept everyone, regardless of health condition; and (2) almost every feature of these risk pools defies rational explanation. For starters, note that the Obama risk pools plan to charge people the same premiums that healthy people pay for insurance. This is in contrast to existing state risk pools which charge 125% or 200% of market rates. Also in contrast to existing risk pools, the new Obama risk pools will have no waiting period. You get full coverage from day one. As Grace-Marie Turner pointed out in The Wall Street Journal the other day, the new risk pools will be cheaper and more generous than what the states currently have. So is that good news to the 199,000 people who are currently enrolled in a state risk pool? Actually, no. The new law is explicitly designed to keep that from happening. Specifically, you cannot enroll in an Obama risk pool unless you’ve been uninsured for at least six months. So if you have a health problem and you have been “doing the right thing” and trying to stay in the insurance system — say, by making COBRA payments or paying premiums to a conventional risk pool — you are flat out of luck. But if you have been so antisocial as to have been willfully uninsured for a long period of time and suddenly discover you have a serious health problem, then the Obama pools are made-to-order for you. There are other irrationalities. Although the newly enacted health reform legislation has allocated $5 billion for this project, the Medicare Chief Actuary says this is way too little money to meet the need. The Administration is asking the states to take their share of the money and operate the pools. Eighteen states are refusing the grant. They have decided the money is probably insufficient and that if they refuse the grant and do nothing the federal government itself will set up and fund the pools and inadequate financing will be a federal problem rather than the state’s problem.
18 states refuse to run insurance pools for those with preexisting conditions
Excerpt: Eighteen states have said they will not administer a stopgap program to provide insurance coverage to people whose preexisting conditions have left them uninsured, forcing the federal government to do the work. The states' decisions increase the challenge the government faces as it sets out to translate the far-reaching health-care legislation into action, and they hint at the complexities to come. At issue is a provision to extend temporary relief to people with preexisting medical conditions beginning this year, instead of making them wait until 2014, when insurers will be prohibited from turning people away or charging higher premiums based on health status. The health-care law sets aside $5 billion for the "high-risk pools."
The War on a Weed Killer
$2B is nothing compared to the millions of third world kids who have died since we banned DDT. Excerpt: There is an agenda here far more ambitious than getting one chemical banned, says the Journal. The environmental lobby wants more farmland retired to "nature," and one way to do that is to make farming more expensive. The EPA notes that eliminating atrazine would cost $2 billion annually in lost crop yields and substituting more expensive herbicides. Some farmers would go out of business or ask the federal government for more subsidies.
Greece and the myth of the easy economic fix
Excerpt: For the past year, I've been warning that the imbalances underlying the financial crisis -- the explosive growth of credit, the mispricing of risk, the mispricing of real estate and other assets, the overcapacity in the global economy -- were so huge that a quick and easy economic recovery was highly unlikely. And for much of that time, it has looked as though I was dead wrong. Stocks rebounded, credit markets revived, corporate profits returned and bank balance sheets have been repaired. But the nagging suspicion is that too much of this rebound is the result of the massive fiscal and monetary stimulus that not only did its job of reversing what was a dangerous downward spiral, but also made it possible for many countries to delay dealing with those fundamental economic imbalances. No better proof exists than the financial drama now unfolding in Western Europe, where for many years countries from Ireland to Greece used the financial cover offered by a new continental currency to overspend, overborrow and overexpand. In the case of Greece, the government took on so much debt during the bubble years that there is almost no way out of its predicament. If Athens manages to make good on its promises to cut spending and turn a nation of tax cheats into taxpayers, there's a good chance it will trigger a vicious deflationary spiral -- falling prices, falling employment and falling government revenue -- that will make it impossible to repay debts. Or Greece could renege on its promises and find itself shut off from further borrowing. Either path leads to some sort of default.
N.Y. plot brings the politics of terrorism to the forefront
Excerpt: As the U.S. government begins to build its case against Faisal Shahzad in the attempted New York car bombing, the politics of terrorism are sure to swell quickly in Washington as well. For a White House that has been seeking a new relationship with the Islamic world, the prospect of another terrorist plot that appears to be connected to Pakistan will present a series of complicated -- and politically treacherous -- issues to confront. High on the list of political questions is what impact the apparent plot will have on the controversial issue of whether Khalid Sheik Mohammed -- the avowed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- should stand trial in a federal courtroom in Manhattan.
A Connecticut Taliban in Bloomberg's Court
Excerpt: The y arrested the guy quickly, but not fast enough to stop the left from blaming…the Tea Parties! Excerpt: It may be that the Pakistan-based Taliban, the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has quietly established a Connecticut franchise while we weren't looking. That's possible. But it seems far more likely to me that the perpetrator of the bungled Times Square bomb plot was either a lone nut job or a member of some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-government far right. Which actually exists in Connecticut, where, it seems, the car's license plates were stolen.
Is Greece Just Tip Of The Iceberg?
Kicking the can down the road. Excerpt: Fiscal Crisis: Now it's a done deal: Greece got its $146 billion bailout, which the U.S. will help pay for. But anyone who believes the Western world's financial crisis is over doesn't understand what's really happening. That may sound like a collective sigh of relief coming from Europe. After all, it appears that with Greece's pledge to mend its fiscal ways, the European Union might have turned a corner when it comes to its chronic deficits and exploding debt. But no problem has yet been solved, and more problems likely loom — not just in Europe, but in the U.S. and Asia as well. We'd like to be more upbeat, but the fact is Greece will have to undergo pretty tough financial treatment to get a clean bill of health. Its citizens, who are among the most coddled in the Western world, will see their retirement age jump to 67 from the current 53. At the same time, government workers' pay will be frozen for three years, and they'll no longer collect annual bonuses worth two months' pay. Taxes on liquor, cigarettes and gasoline will rise while the value-added tax increases to 23% from 21%. Pretty bitter medicine, and gauging from the riots and demonstrations that have taken place, we're not sure average Greeks will swallow it. But even if it works, as we said, this doesn't take the sting out of the reality Europe faces. Virtually every country in the EU spends more than it takes in and has made long-term fiscal promises to an aging work force that it can't keep. A little over a year ago, economist Jagadeesh Gokhale, writing for the National Center for Policy Analysis, produced a pithy — and scary — summation of the fiscal challenges faced by Europe. Don't read it if you have trouble sleeping.
Obama National Security Policy: Hope Their Bombs Don't Work
Excerpt: It took Faisal Shahzad trying to set a car bomb in Times Square to get President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to finally use the word "terrorism." (And not to refer to Tea Party activists!) This is a major policy shift for a president who spent a month telling Americans not to "jump to conclusions" after Army doctor Nidal Malik Hasan reportedly jumped on a desk, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" and began shooting up Fort Hood. After last weekend, now Obama is even threatening to pronounce it "Pack-i-stan" instead of "Pahk-i-stahn." We know Obama is taking terrorism seriously because he took a break from his "Hope, Change & Chuckles" tour on the comedy circuit to denounce terrorists. In a bit of macho posturing this week, Obama declared that -- contrary to the terrorists' wishes -- Americans "will not be terrorized, we will not cower in fear, we will not be intimidated." First of all, having the Transportation Security Administration wanding infants, taking applesauce away from 93-year-old dementia patients, and forcing all Americans to produce their shoes, computers and containers with up to 3 ounces of liquid in Ziploc bags for special screening pretty much blows that "not intimidated" look Obama wants America to adopt. "Intimidated"? How about "absolutely terrified"?
The smell of our fear
Excerpt: Appeasement doesn't work. It doesn't work with dictators, and it doesn't work with terrorists. The attempted Times Square bombing was yet more proof. We've allowed Islamist extremists to dictate what we can say, print or portray. We don't want to offend them. The First Amendment bows before Islam. The Obama administration has ducked all unwelcome evidence that such appeasement doesn't work. Instead, it goes to absurd lengths to convince Muslim radicals that we respect their views. Our counterfactual assumption is that, if we're really, really nice, the fanatics will stop being grumpy and blowing us up. But Islamist extremists haven't read our actions (or inactions) as an admirable exercise in tolerance. They read our bowing and scraping and apologizing as weakness. The mean-dog law applies: Let that pit bull sense that you're afraid, and you're going to feel its teeth.
Black Hopefuls Pick This Year in G.O.P. Races
Excerpt: Among the many reverberations of President Obama’s election, here is one he probably never anticipated: at least 32 African-Americans are running for Congress this year as Republicans, the biggest surge since Reconstruction, according to party officials.
FCC Chairman Genachowski expected to leave broadband services deregulated
Excerpt: The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has indicated he wants to keep broadband services deregulated, according to sources, even as a federal court decision has exposed weaknesses in the agency's ability to be a strong watchdog over the companies that provide access to the Web. The FCC currently has "ancillary" authority over broadband providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon and must adequately justify actions over those providers. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the agency had exceeded its authority in 2008 when it applied sanctions against Comcast. The ruling cast doubt over the FCC's ability to create a "net neutrality" rule that would force Internet service providers to treat all services and applications on the Web equally.
Iran navy plane was filming US carrier
Excerpt: An Iranian navy plane that came close to a US aircraft carrier in the Gulf was filming the vessel, the Fars news agency quoted Iran’s naval chief as saying on Tuesday. “The F27 plane of the navy flew above this aircraft carrier and took a thorough film. Despite the carrier’s objection we insist that this is our right,” the agency quoted Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayari as saying. On April 21, the Iranian aircraft came as close as 1,000 yards (915 metres) to the USS Eisenhower in the international waters south of Iran, a senior US military officer said, adding that nothing had come of the incident.
U.S. scraps Kandahar assault due to weak Afghan partnership
Excerpt: NATO commanders scrapped a helicopter assault by hundreds of U.S. and Afghan troops last week because the Afghans weren't able to take charge, a U.S. military officer familiar with the planning said. The decision to cancel the assault, designed to prepare the ground for the biggest offensive of the nearly nine-year-old war, has frustrated U.S. officers on the ground who say their local partners are not ready to lead. "It wasn't Afghan enough ... approval was denied," a U.S. Army officer with knowledge of the plans told Reuters. "The implication is that the Afghans are in the lead. The bottom line is we're nowhere near the stage where they can be in the lead." The assault in a rural part of Kandahar -- due to take place in March and repeatedly postponed -- would have been one of the biggest operations so far in the province, where U.S. troops are massing to carry out a major offensive beginning in June. Its abrupt cancellation exposes limitations of the Afghan security forces and raises doubts over whether they are ready to start taking control of the country's security this year. The U.S. officer, who asked not to be identified while discussing the cancelled operation, said approval for it had been blocked by a senior NATO commander in the south. The commander, a general, stood up during a planning briefing and told the U.S. officers to come back once the Afghan army was in charge of the operation, he said.
Check out the Carbon Footprint of Al Gore's New Ocean-View Mediterranean Villa
Not clear this is true. But if so he can just buy more carbon offsets from the carbon offset companies he owns.
Excerpt: I don’t want to make too big a deal of what is a relatively small point in and of itself, but this seems to demonstrate an odd belief that U.S. military capacity is part of the problem, not the solution, to the world’s problems. Implicit in Madam Secretary’s statement is a sort of moral equivalence, which suggests that our nukes are, at some level, just as problematic as those of, say, North Korea, and that if we show the right path toward transparency and arms control, rogue states will follow our lead.
Black Americans and Liberty
Excerpt: Contempt or misunderstanding of the principles of personal liberty and faith in government by no means make blacks unique among Americans, but the unique history of black Americans should make us, above all other Americans, most suspicious of any encroachment on personal liberty and most distrustful of government. Let's look at it. The most serious injustices suffered by blacks came at the hands of government, at different levels, failure to protect personal liberty. Slavery was only the most egregious example of that failure. Congress and the courts supported the injustice of slavery through the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott decision. After emancipation, there were government-enforced Jim Crow laws denying blacks basic liberties and court decisions such as Plessy v. Ferguson that reinforced and gave sanction to private acts that abridged black people's liberties.
Democrat Arizona Congresswoman: Deputy's Shooting a ‘Wake Up Call,’
Excerpt: Declaring that the shooting of a Pinal County, Ariz., sheriff’s deputy by suspected illegal-alien drug traffickers should be a "wake-up call" for politicians in Washington, D.C., Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) said the “border region is out of control” and called for immediate deployment of the National Guard there.
Palin and the Leftist Elites
Excerpt: The left can't stand the fact that Palin, like Reagan, isn't one of them. Like Reagan, she is not an "intellectual." She doesn't share what Thomas Sowell dubbed "the vision of the anointed" -- progressive elitists' unshakable faith in their grandiose plans for regimenting our lives. To leftist intellectuals, it's okay to have a president who thinks he visited 57 states, a vice president who has claimed that Franklin Roosevelt went on television to calm the people after the stock market crash of 1929 (no TV yet, and Hoover was president) and a Speaker of the House who has insisted that we must switch from fossil fuels to natural gas. All ignorance, error, and mental dullness can be forgiven as long as one subscribes to the political catechism, "The government must control economic activity." What is unacceptable, even evil, to them is someone like Palin who doesn't subscribe to the same catechism, who just doesn't "get it."
Update From Cochise County, Arizona
Excerpt: I had hardly received word from the editor that my first report from south east Arizona would be published before more excitement occurred here -- this time even closer to home. Saturday morning the headlines in all the area papers covered the shooting of a Pinal County Deputy by drug smugglers. The reports indicated the officer was ambushed by drug smugglers using AK-47 rifles. How do we know these things? This time the ambush failed and the officer survived. But there is a lot of news in this report that destroys the liberal reports of those grandmothers crossing the border so they can make beds in cheap hotels.
Leaked tapes show EU leaders' frustration at climate summit
Excerpt: Leaked tapes from the failed climate summit in Copenhagen published in German weekly Der Spiegel have documented a deeper rift between France, Germany and the US and China and India than previously thought. The tapes were recorded "accidentally" on 18 December 2009, during a meeting of 25 leaders, including Germany's Angela Merkel, France's Nicolas Sarkozy, US President Barack Obama and the representatives of China and India, Der Spiegel reports.
12 Experts To Review U.N. Climate Panel's Work
Excerpt: Dr. Shapiro, an economist, will lead a group that was assembled by the InterAcademy Council, an organization of the world's leading scientific academies, at the request of the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. It will look into the management and review policies of the I.P.C.C. that led to errors in the panel's most recent report, including a faulty estimate of the rate of melting of the Himalayan glaciers and several smaller mistakes. The I.P.C.C. has been faulted for failing to consider alternate views of climate science, sloppy citation of sources and for reliance on some research that was not properly peer-reviewed. The panel will make recommendations on how to avoid such problems and how to identify and quickly correct errors in future reports.” We approach this review with an open mind," Dr. Shapiro said in a statement. "I'm confident we have the experts on this committee necessary to supply the U.N. with a stronger process for providing policymakers the best assessment of climate change possible."
Witnesses of Earlier Climate Change
Excerpt: Glaciologist Schlüchter knows almost exactly the point in time when the trees were growing and the turf was created because specialist laboratories have determined the age of many of his objects. This is possible by using carbon isotopes contained in the finds. This enables Professor Schlüchter to determine when and where the organic material originates from.... Several times in the last 10,000 years the glaciers pulled back and melted down to pitiful remnants - for centuries or even millennia. Some individual trees at these heights grew even over 600 years old. According to estimates, the so-called equilibrium line, which forms the border between the zones of accumulation and ablation of a glacier, was up to 300 meters higher than today at certain times. For many years glacier research only explored the advances and the maximum extension of the glaciers, says Schlüchter. Why nobody has been interested in how far they were retreating between the advances is a mystery for him. What exactly led to the sometimes spectacular and rapid glacier melting in recent millennia cannot be said with certainty.... It is striking that times... with little ice in the Alps coincided with periods of great solar activity.... The findings of Schlüchter expose not only the image of the glacier-covered Alps as a mirage. Rather more, the observed retreat of glaciers today seems perfectly normal. And the current temperature increase seems to be hardly extraordinary. When asked whether his research results qualify the fuss about climate change, Professor Schlüchter hesitates with an answer: "It is simply much controlled by the sun." How did other scientists react to his findings? Schlüchter does not want to talk about it. He suggests, however, that there were negative reactions....
The May Day angry mob you won’t see
Excerpt: They came, they saw, they threatened or committed violence in the name of open borders and workers’ rights. But alas, Frank Rich and Paul Krugman’s columns decrying the insane rage and hate of the May Day angry mob got lost in the mail. In Santa Cruz, they carried torches and vandalized at least 18 businesses:
US had burn-off plan for oil spills but the equipment wasn’t there
You’re doing a heck of a job, Bammie! Excerpt: The White House faced claims last night that the Gulf Coast oil spill could have been contained and kept far from land within days of the Deepwater Horizon explosion if oil from the gushing wellhead had been burnt off in line with a plan drafted by the US Government for precisely this sort of disaster. The plan requires the immediate deployment of specialised “fire booms” capable of burning 95 per cent of a slick— but not one boom was available on the Gulf Coast at the time of the blast, according to a supplier who eventually provided one eight days later. “The whole reason the plan was created was so that we could pull the trigger right away,” Ron Gourget, a former federal oil spill response coordinator and one of those who drafted the document, said yesterday.
Two different wars in Viet Nam
Excerpt: On Friday of last week, much of the establishment media reminded us of the awful 35th anniversary of the so-called "End of the Vietnam War" -- on April 30, 1975. This is only partly true, and now we need to know what the late commentator Paul Harvey would correctly call "the rest of the story." On Friday and throughout the weekend, familiar pictures were shown of American helicopters lifting people off the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon as the South Vietnamese government was collapsing to the invading Communists from the North -- and this was dutifully labeled again as the "first war ever lost by America." Since this snapshot of so-called "history" is highly misleading, it becomes vital that the entire story of Vietnam and its Cold War aftermath be clearly understood -- so that today's partisan politicians, media commentators and far-Left "Progressives" cannot scam the American public with a variety of false "lessons" of that long-ago conflict and its far-reaching consequences. Unfortunately, we live in an age when far too little attention is paid to history -- real history. What actually happened back then is often rewritten to satisfy political or ideological appetites of "Scamalot" revisionists -- who may be journalists, or academics, or deceitful governments, or religious zealots, or even occupants of high political office.
The Global Crisis of Legitimacy
Excerpt: This is not something that is confined to the United States by any means, although part of this analysis is designed to explain why the Obama administration must go after Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and others. The symbol of Goldman Sachs profiting from actions that devastate national wealth, or of the management of Lehman wiping out shareholder value while they themselves did well, creates a crisis of confidence in the political and financial systems. With the crisis of legitimacy still not settling down after nearly two years, the reaction of the political system is predictable. It will both anoint symbolic miscreants, and redefine the structure of risk and liability in financial corporations. The goal is not so much to achieve something as to create the impression that it is achieving something, in other words, to demonstrate that the political system is prepared to control the entities it created. We see a similar crisis in Europe. The financial institutions in Europe were fully complicit in the global financial crisis. They bought and sold derivatives whose value they knew to be other than stated, the same as Americans. Though the European financial institutions have asserted they were the hapless victims of unscrupulous American firms, the Europeans were as sophisticated as their American counterparts. Their elites knew what they were doing. Complicating the European position was the creation of the economic union and the euro by the economic and political elite. There has always been a great deal of ambiguity concerning the powers and authority of the European Union, but its intentions were always clear: to harmonize Europe and to create European-wide solutions to economic problems. This goal always created unease in Europe. There were those who were concerned that a united Europe would exist to benefit the elites, rather than the broader public. There were also those who believed it was designed to benefit the Franco-German core of Europe rather than Europe as a whole. Overall, this reflected minority sentiment, but it was a substantial minority. The financial crisis came at Europe in three phases. The first was part of the American subprime crisis. The second wave was a uniquely European crisis. European banks had taken massive positions in the Eastern European banking systems. For example, the Czech system was almost entirely foreign (Austrian and Italian) owned. These banks began lending to Eastern European homebuyers, with mortgages denominated in euros, Swiss francs or yen rather than in the currencies of the countries involved (none yet included in the eurozone). Doing this allowed banks to reduce interest rates, as the risk of currency fluctuation was pushed over to the borrower. But when the zlotys and forints began to plunge, these monthly mortgage payments began to soar, as did defaults. The European core, led by Germany, refused a European bailout of the borrowers or lenders even though the lenders who created this crisis were based in eurozone countries. Instead, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was called in to use funds that included American and Chinese, as well as European, money to solve the problem. This raised the political question in Eastern Europe as to what it meant to be part of the European Union. The third wave is represented by crisis in sovereign debt in countries that are part of the eurozone but not in the core of Europe — Greece, of course, but also Portugal and possibly Spain. In the Greek case, the Germans in particular hesitated to intervene until it could draw the IMF — and non-European money and guarantees — into the mix. This obviously raised questions in the periphery about what membership in the eurozone meant, just as it created questions in Eastern Europe about what EU membership meant.
Race and Resentment by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Recent stories out of both Philadelphia and San Francisco tell of black students beating up Asian American students. This is especially painful for those who expected that the election of Barack Obama would mark the beginning of a post-racial America. While Obama's winning the majority of the votes in overwhelmingly white states suggests that many Americans are ready to move beyond race, it is painfully clear that others are not. Those who explain racial antagonisms on some rationalistic basis will have a hard time demonstrating how Asian Americans have made blacks worse off. Certainly none of the historic wrongs done to blacks was done by the small Asian American population who, for most of their history in this country, have not had enough clout to prevent themselves from being discriminated against……In our own times, especially, this is not just a spontaneous reaction. Many of our educators, our intelligentsia and our media -- not to mention our politicians-- promote an attitude that other people's achievements are grievances, rather than examples. When black school children who are working hard in school and succeeding academically are attacked and beaten up by black classmates for "acting white," why is it surprising that similar hostility is turned against Asian Americans, who are often achieving academically more so than whites? This attitude is not peculiar to some in the black community or to the United States. The same phenomenon is found among lower-class whites in Britain, where academically achieving white students have been beaten up badly enough by their white classmates to require hospital treatment.
Did Obama administration tell GM to lie about its TARP repayment?
Excerpt: General Motors chairman Ed Whitacre made news last week with a series of national television advertising spots in which he claimed the company has repaid its government bailout loans in full, ahead of schedule and with interest. Unfortunately, according to Neil Barofsky, the Inspector-General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) under which the federal loans were made to GM, the repayments cited by Whitacre were simply made with other tax dollars made available to the automaker in its bailout deal with the government. So in effect GM was repaying one government loan with another government loan. Now Whitacre is not a dumb guy, nor are there any ethics scandals in his previous record as a very successful CEO at AT&T. He was even the national head of the Boy Scouts of America, so why all of a sudden is he making a transparently false statement in a GM TV spot?
Climate Debate Running Out Of Steam
Excerpt: In Petersberg, near Bonn, heads of state and government are discussing the future of international climate policy. Angela Merkel has been forced to recognise that the fretfulness about global warming catastrophe is being replaced by sensible pragmatism. Only the benefactors of climate hysteria still resist. At other times, when climate catastrophism was still a booming enterprise, a climate conference such as this would have attracted massive media attention for days on end. The leaders of 45 countries are meeting at the Hotel Petersberg near Bonn from today until Tuesday.... Even within the European Union there is little willingness to shift billions of euros in subsidies and transfers to poor countries for the complete reconstruction of the world economy that would be necessary for decarbonisation.... The wind in the climate debate has changed direction - and it is becoming much weaker. As it stands, Angela Merkel is therefore looking to discreetly abdicate from her throne as the world’s climate saviour on which she can no longer shine and on which no leader can gleam anymore. The discussions at Petersberg summoned by Merkel in order to sort out the mess after the Copenhagen and to show a way forward, however, are purely informal.
What If Arizona Were Quebec?
Excerpt: Suppose for a moment that 15 million Americans -- the population of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut combined -- sneaked across the border into Quebec. Suppose that these illegal immigrants refused to learn to speak French, that they applied for Canadian welfare, that they reproduced at a rate higher than Quebec's residents, and that they bankrupted Canada's socialized medical system. Suppose that they sent their children to Canadian schools in such large numbers that Quebec's school system had to teach "French as a Second Language" courses.
On Becoming an Un-Hyphenated American
Excerpt: I (would) cheapen the value of America and give credit to a sorry chapter in our family's history by insisting on hyphenating my nationality. Unfortunately, the American government now thinks differently. The census taker repeated his question. I replied, "I would rather be just an American, but I suppose technically I am a Latino of European origin." "I do not have a box for Latinos of European origin," he said. I just shrugged. "And your daughter, is she a Latino of European origin?" I shook my head. "No, you don't understand. The reason we came to this country was so she could be an American. She is a good one, too. She has the poise, the confidence, the sense of fair play, the optimism, the drive to succeed, and the tolerance that marks America."
US Gulf units may not fire on Iranian military without White House say-so
Glad I’m not in the fleet. Excerpt: The US Fifth Fleet and US aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower in the Gulf of Oman were not allowed to shoot at an Iranian Fokker F27 aircraft which on April 21 hovered for 20 minutes 900 meters over the carrier and no more than 250 meters away, even though they saw its flight crew gathering intelligence on the Eisenhower and its warship escorts. DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources report that the US Persian Gulf command went public on the incident on April 28, a whole week later, only after Gulf military circles, amazed at the American naval and air units' passivity in the face of hostile surveillance, threatened to break the story to local media. This striking restraint indicates that the US Gulf and Arabian fleets are under orders to take no action - certainly not to open fire - against Iranian naval or air units, with first obtaining permission directly from Washington.
Gulf States and a Nuclear Iran
Excerpt: There is a lot of support, albeit beneath the surface, for American military action against Iran, which, in the Gulfies’ view, could deal a decisive setback to the “Persians.” An Israeli strike, on the other hand, they fear, would not inflict much damage and would only allow the mullahs to rally the Arab street behind them. They are also “deathly afraid” (in the words of one American ambassador) that the U.S. will sell them out by reaching a deal with Iran.
Excerpt: This aptly illustrates the many deficiencies with Obama’s Middle East policy and nuclear-proliferation approach. By elevating the non-proliferation gambit, he has given a forum to distract and complicate reasonable measures focused on the only nuclear threat that matters right now — Iran. By ingratiating himself with Arab states and savaging Israel, he has only encouraged the former to do the same. And by taking the nuclear-free Middle East pipe dream seriously, we only encourage further mischief.
The coming catastrophe
Excerpt: This week, Rudolph Penner and Robert Reischauer, both former directors of the Congressional Budget Office, briefed the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform about the challenges they’ll face in finding ways to cut the federal budget deficit to a sustainable level. That task is so difficult that some fear it can’t be accomplished in today’s polarized Washington. Len Burman, the former director of the Tax Policy Center and now a professor at Syracuse University, worries that little will be done until calamity looms. “Our history is that we are good at crises, but we are not good at dealing with long-term problems,’’ notes Burman, whose article “Countdown to Catastrophe’’ in the latest issue of the Milken Institute Review should be required reading in Washington. “But if we wait until a crisis happens, it will be too late because the consequences will be disastrous.’’ Oddly, says Penner, who led CBO from 1983 to 1987, foreigners tend to be more optimistic that the United States will summon the resolve to fix the problem. In his remarks to the panel, he used a Winston Churchill quote to sum up the mood he finds abroad: “You can count on Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.’’
Congressional Research Service memo raises fresh constitutional questions about Obamacare
Excerpt: A just-released memo from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) raises fresh constitutional concerns about a provision in President Obama’s health-care law that could impose tens of millions of dollars in fines on Congress, state and local governments. As reported by The Daily Caller, Congress could be fined up to $50 million annually by its own health-care law if low-level aides apply for government subsidies to help pay their health-care costs. The new memo from Congress’s research arm states that state and local governments would be on the hook for such fines as well – but argues those fines may be unconstitutional under Supreme Court precedents on federalism. The issue is important because a slew of states are challenging the health-care law’s legality in court. If governments were found to be exempt in court, a ruling could establish one set of rules for the private sector and another more lenient set for the rapidly expanding public sector.
The Fall of Saigon, the stories of the boat people --Minh Pham
Excerpt: This Friday will mark the 35th anniversary of a day that changed the lives of millions of Vietnamese families, including my own. On April 30, 1975, the North Vietnam Communist party captured Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, ending a war that tore the country apart for more than 15 years. The evening before that day, my grandmother's sister's family committed suicide. The family of nine all drank poison and the father, a lieutenant in the Southern army, secured their fate with a gunshot to each member's head. explained that, for their family, it was either death at their own hands or at the hands of the Viet Cong, the term given to the North Vietnam Communist party. I hear stories about whole families committing suicide now and I've judged those people, thinking it was such a crazy thing to do. But hearing my aunt tell stories about the cruelty of the Viet Cong and of all the people she knew who committed suicide on April 30, the lines between what is right, wrong, sane and crazy become blurred.
China-Russia Competition Opens A Door For America
Excerpt: For the past two decades, many in the West have worried about the growth of Russo-Chinese influence over the newly independent states of Central Asia. Through the mutual-security group called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and in scores of joint military exercises, counter-terrorism maneuvers and energy projects, the two great powers collaborated closely in order to keep these buffer states peaceful, compliant and relatively free of American penetration. Lately, however, a perceptible shift has overtaken the region. In 2010, the biggest threat to China and Russia's Central Asian interests may now be each other. Fueling these growing Sino-Russian tensions are the divergent prospects of the two economies. China's economy grew by 8.7% in 2009, despite the global slump, while Russia's economy contracted by 7.9%, with foreign direct investment (FDI) plummeting by nearly half. With Russia's prospects continuing to dim, China has accelerated its courtship, rapidly replacing Russia as the principal source of foreign investment and aid in Central Asia. In the past year alone, China National Petroleum Corporation completed a deal to buy a 50% stake in Kazakhstan's largest oil company, outbidding Russia's Gazprom, while China's State Development Bank invested $4 billion in Turkmenistan's largest gas producer, allowing it to stay afloat during a "gas war" instigated by Moscow.
Report from Cochise County, Arizona
Excerpt: I moved to Cochise County after retiring from the Army in 2008 to take a position working at Fort Huachuca (pronounced "wa-choo-ka," an Apache word meaning "place of thunder" and referring to the time after the summer monsoon season). Having lived here in 1991 for eight months while attending an Army school, I soon realized that the place had changed considerably in the eighteen years of my absence. The first thing I noticed was how many border patrol vehicles were on the roads in the city of Sierra Vista. The Border Patrol has a large station near here in the city of Naco. There are far more Border Patrol vehicles in the area than SV police cars. They come in many forms -- trucks for off-road work, trailers carrying all-terrain vehicles, pickups with capacity for carrying large numbers of people once apprehended, and even a staff car for the area chaplain. The Border Patrol presence has grown substantially, so one would think the border area was nice and safe. Not so. Within a short time after arriving in southern Arizona while on my way to work, I noticed eight illegal immigrants on the side of the road. Fortunately, they were in the custody of capable and attentive Border Patrol agents. Unfortunately, they were less than a hundred feet from my daughter's bus stop. She gets personal service to school now, as the school district refuses to enter the gated community in which we live. There is a nice wash, a valley into which the rainwater drains during the monsoons, which provides a nice route for the illegals to follow into the city, and therefore into their locations for pickup by the vehicles that will get them farther north.... Working on a U.S. Army fort, one would think we were fairly secure from these threats. Just not true. Reading the Fort Huachuca newspaper one morning, I noticed an interesting part of the "community" page. It asked for volunteers to assist in cleaning up "dumps" on posts where the illegals would drop their supplies used to cross the border and change clothing. They do this in order to blend in and not look like they just spent a day or two crossing the border in the dust and heat of southern Arizona. The most frightening part of this is that Fort Huachuca is the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, where the Army trains its intelligence soldiers -- analysts, interrogators, radio intercept specialists, and counterintelligence agents -- for operations overseas. If we can't secure the fort we use to train our intelligence soldiers, how can we secure anything else?
US may stop using UN veto on resolutions targeting Israel
Excerpt: In an attempt to launch indirect proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the US has given private assurances that it would consider not using its veto power against UN Security Council condemnations of any significant new settlement activity, the Guardian reported. A Palestinian source quoted by the UK paper said David Hale, a deputy of US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week that if there was "significantly provocative settlement activity," including in east Jerusalem, Washington may consider allowing UNSC resolutions censuring Israel to pass. According to the paper, the source said "it was understood that meant the US would abstain from voting on a resolution rather than use its veto." State Department officials, however, denied a similar report in The New York Times this week. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also said such assurances were not given. "It's not true," he said, according to the Guardian. "We are still talking to the Americans."