Friday, March 18, 2011

Political Digest for March 18, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

Signs Point to ‘Hand-On’ Intervention in Libya
If we expend American blood and American treasure to depose Qaddafi, the new government will thank us by supporting anti-American Jihad terrorism. Remember you read it here. ~Bob. Excerpt: Shortly before she left Egypt for Tunis Wednesday, March 16, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urgently asked the head of Egypt's military junta Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi for permission to use Egyptian air bases for American military jets to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. This is reported exclusively by DEBKAfile's military and Washington sources. Clinton told Tantawi she hoped for UN Security Council approval of the no-fly zone at its special session Thursday March 17. But this might not be enough to stop Muammar Qaddafi's advance and the US might have to resort to military action against his army. She did not elaborate on this.
Excerpt: 1. If you want to remain in power, you need to do more than send a man on a camel into crowds. Declare war on your people; hire other people to help out. 2. Do not worry if the U.S. president says you must “step down” and “leave.” It is only his personal opinion. 3. To ensure that the president does not focus unduly on your war, schedule it while he is preoccupied with other matters: a Motown concert, a conference on bullying, his golf game, and finalizing his Final Four picks.

U.S. takes conservative approach in response to nuclear crisis in Japan
A bit of spine in DC. Perhaps thanks to energy company contributions to BO< but we’ll take what we can get in the face of panic. ~Bob. Excerpt: In sharp contrast to governments across the world that are moving to warn their citizens in Japan about radiation hazards and to reassess their own nuclear power programs, the Obama administration is pursuing a cautious course — standing firmly behind the U.S. nuclear industry. As France and Germany advised their citizens to leave the Tokyo metropolitan area, the United States urged Americans to move beyond a 50-mile radius of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant. That’s farther than the 20-mile buffer imposed by the Japanese government, but short of an evacuation of the country. And as governments from Berlin to Beijing this week were closing older nuclear plants for inspection or halting new permits, Obama administration officials reiterated support Wednesday for keeping nuclear power as a key part of U.S. policy and said there were no plans to shut down plants.

Poll finds growing public worry about Social Security
Like wild animals getting uneasy before an earthquake, the public begins to detect the coming fiscal collapse. ~Bob. Excerpt: More than eight in 10 Americans now see the country’s Social Security system as headed for a crisis, and most think a major overhaul is in order, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Overall, 81 percent of those polled see Social Security as veering severely off-course, up 10 percentage points from 2005, when former president George W. Bush led a push to privatize the government-run program. And since that time, public support for specific changes has risen, but remains tepid.

U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Soon to Be #1
Don’t bother me with this stuff—I’m trying to figure out why US jobs are going overseas. ~Bob. Excerpt: The U.S. corporate tax rate will soon become the highest in the industrialized world, and is already in its 20th year of being above the average for similar economies, according to a new analysis by the Tax Foundation. As other nations enact reforms and rate cuts, the U.S. corporate rate will continue to stand out as a hindrance to economic growth and competitiveness unless lawmakers move to lower the tax burden for businesses. The combined federal and state rate of 39.2 percent of corporate profits is exceeded only by Japan, whose rate stands at 39.5 percent. When Japan enacts planned cuts next month, however, the United States will have the highest rate of all of the economies in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the group of 34 advanced countries with economies most comparable to the U.S. "Of course, OECD nations have not been the only countries reducing their corporate tax rates to remain competitive," said Tax Foundation president and study author Scott A. Hodge. "Since 2006, some 75 nations have cut their rates, many multiple times."

After Japan Quake, Gas Should Eclipse Solar
Excerpt: Even as it reels from multiple catastrophes, investors still seem to think of Japan as the land of the rising sun: Solar power stocks have jumped sharply. Japan's nuclear crisis has boosted a solar sector which faces chronic oversupply. Solar cheerleaders will be heartened particularly by Germany's shutdown of several nuclear power plants, since that country accounted for 40% of solar installations over the past two years, according to Credit Suisse estimates. Solar power is safer but it cannot replace nuclear energy. In 2008, nuclear plants generated 13.5% of the world's electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. Solar power accounted for 0.06%. This understates the investment in solar power required to fill the gap, however, because nuclear plants run most of the time while solar power is by definition intermittent. In 2008, nuclear plants globally generated 80% of their total potential output. Solar units eked out 9%. Solar power also remains relatively expensive. U.S. government projections for new plants entering service in 2016 put the total cost for electricity from solar photovoltaic units at nearly double the projected cost of new nuclear plants in 2009 dollars. Even if the latter now rise, solar power must compete with other fuels, most notably cheap natural gas. Those same government projections put the cost of electricity from modern gas-fired units at just 30% the cost of solar power.

Satire: How To Tell If You Are A Member Of A Public Sector Union
Excerpt: You get paid twice as much as a private sector person doing the same job but make up the difference by doing half as much work. The worse you do your job, the more your boss avoids you. You know by having a copy of the Holy Koran on your desk your job is 100% safe. You pay more in union dues than you do for your healthcare insurance.

Cheery News: CIA Drone Airstrike Kills 30 Jihadists In North Waziristan
Excerpt: Islamabad (DPA) US unmanned drones on Thursday fired four missiles into a suspected Taliban compound in Pakistan’s north-western tribal area along Afghan border, killing at least 30 and injuring 10 people, intelligence officials said. The missile attack severely damaged the building allegedly used by local Taliban in Data Khel, a main town in the troubled tribal district of North Waziristan. ‘We have received reports that at least 30 people have died while 10 more are injured in the attack’ an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the casualties were all Islamist insurgents.

Inmates reap rewards of $35M settlement
Crime pays. Have to lay off a few more cops. ~Bob. Excerpt: The city has started doling out $1,000 checks to 26,131 former jailbirds who won a $35.7 million class-action settlement for illegal strip searches -- and recipients who are back in jail are throwing their newfound weight and windfall around. "I own you!" inmates are bragging to jailers on Rikers Island, according to Correction insiders. The taxpayer gifts -- an average of $1,130 per prisoner -- are deposited into inmate commissary accounts, leading to logjams at snack bars, inmates and officers said. The crooks are cashing out with loads of chocolate bars, Ruffles chips, Rolet beef sticks and Pop-Tarts, as well as radios, headphones and batteries, jail officers said. "They are just gloating. They are saying that they sued and will sue again and that we'll be paying them," a jail supervisor fumed.

Paul Ryan: Entitlement Reforms Could Come Back To Haunt GOP
Excerpt: “Is this a political weapon we are handing our adversaries? Of course it is,” Ryan said at an event sponsored by Politico. “I think everybody knows that we are walking into I guess what you would call a political trap that arguably we are setting for ourselves ... but we can't wait. This needs leadership. “If you just follow the polls, you are nothing but a follower,” said Ryan, who predicted Democrats will demagogue his proposals in the 2012 election cycle. He said he has not spoken with President Obama about entitlement reform, and believes that reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid likely cannot be done before the next election. That would turn the next election into a choice on entitlement reform and the debt, he said. Ryan said it "just boggles my mind" that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday that he would like to tackle Social Security in 20 years.

Chevy Volt: The Car From Atlas Shrugged Motors
Excerpt: The Chevrolet Volt is beginning to look like it was manufactured by Atlas Shrugged Motors, where the government mandates everything politically correct, rewards its cronies and produces junk steel. This is the car that subsidies built. General Motors lobbied for a $7,500 tax refund for all buyers, under the shaky (if not false) promise that it was producing the first all-electric mass-production vehicle. At least that's what we were once told. Sitting in a Volt that would not start at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, a GM engineer swore to me that the internal combustion engine in the machine only served as a generator, kicking in when the overnight-charged lithium-ion batteries began to run down. GM has continually revised downward its estimates of how far the machine would go before the gas engine fired, and now says 25 to 50 miles.

Wind Farms Kill Whales: Blubber On The Green Movement's Hands
Excerpt: So wind farms don’t just despoil countryside, frighten horses, chop up birds, spontaneously combust, drive down property prices, madden those who live nearby with their subsonic humming, drive up electricity prices, promote rentseeking, make rich landowners richer (and everyone else poorer), ruin views, buy more electric sports cars for that dreadful Dale Vince character, require rare earth minerals which cause enormous environmental damage, destroy 3.7 real jobs for every fake “green” job they “create”, blight neighbourhoods, kill off tourism and ruin lives, but they also KILL WHALES! According to researchers at the University of St Andrews, the sound of offshore wind farms is likely to mess with the whales’ sensitive sonar systems and drive them ashore, where they get stuck on beaches and die.

Act Now! Somali Pirates Offer Discounts On Select Ransoms
It is an open question if western civilization deserves to survive if it can’t defend itself. ~Bob. Excerpt: A group of Somali pirates announced Sunday that they’re cutting their asking prices for hostages by 20 percent — to speed up the negotiation process, make room for more hostages and take in more cash. “We want to free ships within a short period of time instead of keeping [hostages] for a long time and incurring more expenses in guarding them. We have to free them at a lower ransom so that we can hijack more ships,” Reuters quoted one pirate spokesman as saying.

First They Came For The Faux Fascists
Excerpt: Last week, a man was hauled up before
Doncaster Crown Court
for using ‘offensive’ language. As punishment, he was banned from attending or helping to organise any demonstration, meeting or gathering held by his political organisation or even visiting its website for 10 years. In addition, he was banned from travelling by train anywhere in the UK and from entering a mosque, meeting room, school or cultural centre. Leaving aside the specifics of the case for a minute, it’s worth reflecting upon what this means: there are certain words that you can utter that, if they offend someone, can mean that a Crown Court can slap a Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order - ‘Crasbo’ - on you and place hefty restrictions on your freedom of assembly, freedom of movement and freedom of expression to the extent that you’re not really free at all. So for unemployed 38-year-old Shane Overton, the UK has effectively become an open prison for the next 10 years, one in which he can no longer play any role in the (perfectly legal) activities he was previously engaged in with his political organisation, the English Defence League (EDL).

Earth Hour: a dissent
Excerpt: The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity. People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too. I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on. (Without oxygen from an electric-powered concentrator, or electric pump filled tanks, I die. I wish these idiots would all vow to go without power of any kind, forever. Be interesting to see how they do. ~Bob.)

A Glowing Report on Radiation
News to me. As an experiment, let’s nuke Iran, see if it helps them. ~Bob. Excerpt: With the terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami that have devastated Japan, the only good news is that anyone exposed to excess radiation from the nuclear power plants is now probably much less likely to get cancer. This only seems counterintuitive because of media hysteria for the past 20 years trying to convince Americans that radiation at any dose is bad. There is, however, burgeoning evidence that excess radiation operates as a sort of cancer vaccine. As The New York Times science section reported in 2001, an increasing number of scientists believe that at some level -- much higher than the minimums set by the U.S. government -- radiation is good for you. "They theorize," the Times said, that "these doses protect against cancer by activating cells' natural defense mechanisms." Among the studies mentioned by the Times was one in Canada finding that tuberculosis patients subjected to multiple chest X-rays had much lower rates of breast cancer than the general population. And there are lots more!

A 'Ronald Reagan' St. Patrick's Day
Excerpt: Reagan spoke off the top of his head. He graciously thanked Troy for having him for lunch. He said it was his great surprise — that his advance men set it up, and he was thankful. He talked about his father, an Irishman. “When I was a little boy, my father proudly told me that the Irish built the jails in this country,” he said, pausing expertly, “then proceeded to fill them.” The crowd laughed heartily. “You have to understand that for a man in my position, I’m a little leery about ethnic jokes,” he said. The crowd roared. “The only ones I can tell are Irish.” He told a story about his visit to Ireland. He went to Castle Rock, the place where St. Patrick erected the first cross in Ireland. “A young Irish guide took me to the cemetery and showed me an ancient tombstone there,” he said. “The inscription read: ‘Remember me as you pass by, for as are you are so once was I, and as I am you too will be, so be content to follow me.” As Reagan paused, the crowd eagerly awaited his follow up. “Then I looked below the inscription,” he said, “where someone scratched in these words: ‘To follow you I am content, I wish I knew which way you went.’” The crowd roared loud and long, causing the president to deadpan to his advance men: “Why didn’t I find this place seven years ago?”

House Republicans Set To Defund National Public Radio Completely
Excerpt: [Michigan Republican Congressman Doug] Lamborn admits, though, that “the Senate will be more of a problem” than getting a bill through the House. “I’m kind of relying on the Senate sponsor of a very similar bill, Jim DeMint of South Carolina,” he said. Media Research Center president Brent Bozell told TheDC that it’s possible that Republicans could get Senate Democrats to support defunding NPR if they frame it the right way. “This is such a no-brainer, both from the standpoint of ideology and the standpoint of money and a complete lack of need, that if someone is not willing to consider hacking this out of the budget, then that person is just simply not serious about reining in deficit spending,” Bozell said. Bozell said O’Keefe’s video is not the reason for renewed NPR defunding calls, but it adds to public spectacle of the matter. “What the O’Keefe video does is it gives flavor,” Bozell said. “It gives a great look inside the head of people at NPR – but, we already knew.”

New O'Keefe Tape Shows George Soros Has Donated To NPR Before Last Year
Excerpt: In conservative James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas’s third major National Public Radio (NPR) sting tape release, Betsy Liley, the taxpayer-funded radio network’s director of institutional giving is heard saying controversial left-wing billionaire George Soros has donated to the organization before last October’s $1.8 million gift. Liley is currently on administrative leave, but her bosses, Ron Schiller, the president of NPR’s nonprofit foundation, and NPR CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation) were both fired. Liley brought up Soros and his nonprofit organization, the Open Society Institute, while discussing what kind of on-air publicity the Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust would want in exchange for its donation. Liley mentioned that Soros and his organization decided they didn’t want on-air publicity for their donation to avoid conservatives’ scrutiny.

Fukushima Nuclear Accident – 17 March update
Excerpt: In sum, this accident is now significantly more severe than Three Mile Island in 1979. It resulted from a unique combination of failures to plant systems caused by the tsunami, and the broad destruction of infrastructure for water and electricity supply which would normally be reestablished within a day or two following a reactor accident. My initial estimates of the extent of the problem, on March 12, did not anticipate the cascading problems that arose from the extended loss of externally sourced AC power to the site, and my prediction that ‘there is no credible risk of a serious accident‘ has been proven quite wrong as a result. It remains to be seen whether my forecast on the possibility of containment breaches and the very low level of danger to the public as a result of this tragic chain of circumstances will be proven correct. The excerpt is the final paragraph of today’s update. While not yet hopeless, the “cascading problems” are in the lead. Over the course of a lifetime, I’ve noticed that while a single major problem might kill you, usually it can be overcome. The difficulty is that when there are multiple problems at the same time, solving them becomes much more difficult. Two simultaneous problems are four times as difficult to solve as either one alone, three problems at once, nine times as difficult. These poor folks have innumerable problems. Some prayers probably wouldn’t hurt anything. Ron P.)

Excerpt: U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 59,017 “Other Than Mexican” illegal aliens through October 7, 2010. Among the nations represented in apprehension statistics are the four countries currently on the State Department’s list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism,” Cuba (712), Iran (14), Syria (5) and Sudan (5), as well as Somalia (9), Afghanistan (9), Pakistan (37), Saudi Arabia (5) and Yemen (11). Overall, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 663 “Aliens from Special Interest Countries.” These countries are deemed “special interest” because of their suspected ties to terrorism.
Excerpt: Between 1780 and 1840, Ireland's population nearly doubled. Even in the pre-Famine years, poverty was widespread. The social reformer Frederick Douglass visited in 1845. A former slave, he commented: "of all the places to witness human misery, ignorance, degradation, filth and wretchedness, an Irish hut is preeminent." The peasant diet consisted almost entirely of potatoes, a fairly nutritious food. But when a fungus struck in 1845, the potatoes putrefied and decayed almost instantly. The entire crop was destroyed. At first the British government tried to help, but it was soon faced with a financial crisis at home and an Irish uprising. These combined to end, Charles Morris writes, "even the pretense of official concern . . . for all practical purposes, Ireland was left to die on its own." In 1847, an eyewitness described conditions: "walking skeletons—the men gaunt and haggard, stamped with the livid mark of hunger—the children crying with pain—the women in some of the cabins too weak to stand." One woman said there was "nothing for us but to lie down and die." One million Irish died of starvation. There being little future in remaining, many felt they had little choice but emigration.

Ancient “Hyperthermals” aka global warming, more frequent than previously thought
Excerpt: Richard Norris, a professor of geology at Scripps who co-authored the report, said that releases of carbon dioxide sequestered in the deep oceans were the most likely trigger of these ancient “hyperthermal” events. Most of the events raised average global temperatures between 2° and 3° Celsius (3.6 and 5.4° F), an amount comparable to current conservative estimates of how much temperatures are expected to rise in coming decades as a consequence of anthropogenic global warming. Most hyperthermals lasted about 40,000 years before temperatures returned to normal. The study appears in the March 17 issue of the journal Nature. “These hyperthermals seem not to have been rare events,” Norris said, “hence there are lots of ancient examples of global warming on a scale broadly like the expected future warming. We can use these events to examine the impact of global change on marine ecosystems, climate and ocean circulation.” The hyperthermals took place roughly every 400,000 years during a warm period of Earth history that prevailed some 50 million years ago. (Scripps is generally considered as firmly in the “warmist” camp, as is Nature Magazine. So, they can’t be happy about providing still more reason to believe in natural causes beyond human control or mitigation for Global Warming. Ron P.)

How Many Trillions Must We Waste on the War on Poverty?
Excerpt: Which American politician said the following? “The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” Had to be a mean-spirited Tea Party conservative, right? Wrong. President Franklin Roosevelt included these words in his 1935 State of the Union Address. Twenty-nine years later, the American welfare state was still relatively small, consuming only 1.2 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). The American family was also still intact, with 93 percent of children born into stable families. But then President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty happened. Forty-five years and $16 trillion later, thanks to big government, poverty is winning. Thanks to over $900 billion a year (over 5 percent of GDP) of spending on over 70 means-tested welfare programs spread over 13 government agencies, more than 40 million Americans currently receive food stamps, poverty is higher today than it was in the 1970s, and 40 percent of all children are born outside of marriage.

Important: U.S. Debt Jumped $72 Billion Same Day U.S. House Voted to Cut Spending $6 Billion
The Federal Deficit and National Debt is a raging inferno in our national house. The Democrats are fighting it with thimbles of water, the heartless, Tea Party Republicans with tea cups. The collapse is coming. ~Bob. Excerpt: The national debt jumped by $72 billion on Tuesday even as the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to fund the government for just three weeks that will cut $6 billion from government spending. If Congress were to cut $6 billion every three weeks for the next 36 weeks, it would manage to save between now and late November as much money as the Treasury added to the nation’s net debt during just the business hours of Tuesday, March 15.

National Guard troops to leave border in June
Crisis over, folks. Nothing to see here—move along. ~Bob. Excerpt: National Guard troops that have helped beef up security along the southwestern border since last summer will leave as planned by the second week of June, the commander of the Arizona Guard told a House panel Tuesday. Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, adjutant general of the Guard in the state, said that the mission has gone well and that his troops have helped the Department of Homeland Security monitor the border and gather intelligence against the transnational crime cartels that smuggle drugs, weapons and cash across the border. Matt Chandler, a spokesman for Homeland Security, said Tuesday that soldiers have helped seize over 14,000 pounds of drugs and apprehend 7,000 illegal immigrants. He said the southwestern border today has more enforcement manpower and technology than ever, much of which has been added while the National Guard has been assigned there. President Barack Obama's administration announced last summer that it was sending 1,200 Guard troops to the border, including 560 to Arizona, to help beef up security for about a year.

Our Man-Made Energy Crisis
Excerpt: There's plenty of oil and no fundamental reason to expect prices of $200 per barrel. But that doesn't excuse the administration's punitive approach toward the industry. The unfolding turmoil in Libya has amplified concerns about the reliability of global energy supplies in an era of political uncertainty. Is oil at $200 per barrel inescapable? Is this the beginning of the end so vigorously underscored by peak oil enthusiasts for the last several decades? The short answer is clearly "No." Yet the question remains: What will happen to the price of crude? This, in turn, necessitates an appreciation of the "anxiety" component in current and future prices. The anxiety premium may range from $10 to $30 given current events in Libya and their spillover effects. The good news is that such a premium is not sustainable in the long run. Prices will eventually come down due to global excess capacity—estimated at three million to five million barrels of oil per day—and even more so due to migration of demand from oil to natural gas by electric utilities and industrial markets. Natural gas holds more than a 3-to-1 price advantage over oil on an equivalent unit energy basis in the U.S. So $200 crude is unlikely given market fundamentals. (And if increased production and reduced consumption bring prices down, Obama will take credit. Nothing surer. ~Bob.)

The Future of Nukes, and of Japan
Excerpt: When all is said and done, nuclear power plants will not top Japan's list of worries. You can't beat for drama the struggle of Japanese operators to manage the emergency cool-down of nuclear reactors in the tsunami zone. For the things that matter most, though—life and safety—the nuclear battle has been a sideshow. Hundreds were feared dead when entire trains went missing. Whole villages were wiped out with the loss of thousands of inhabitants. So far one worker at one nuclear plant is known to have died in a hydrogen explosion and several others have exhibited symptoms of radiation poisoning. As for environmental degradation, video testifies to the brown murk that the tsunami waters became when they crossed into land. An infinity of contaminants—sewage, fuels, lubricants, cleaning solvents—have been scattered across the Earth and into aquifers. Radiation releases, meanwhile, haven't been a serious threat to anyone but the plant's brave workers…. If they believe their climate rhetoric, will environmentalists speak up in favor of nuclear realism or will they succumb to the fund-raising and media lure of antinuclear panic? We suspect we already know the answer. In the unlikely event the world was ever going to make a concerted dent in CO2 output, nuclear was the key. Let's just guess this possibility is now gone, for better or worse.

A Meltdown Of Fearmongers
Excerpt: If we drop oil exploration after Deepwater Horizon, coal mining after Chile and nuclear power after Fukushima, what's left? A world without nuclear power would not be risk-free or cleaner. When Navy crewmen returned from disaster-relief missions in Japan to the deck of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, it was breathlessly reported that they'd been contaminated with radioactive particles from the damaged nuclear reactors at Fukushima. A scene from the end-of-the-world epic "On The Beach" this was not. They were treated with good old-fashioned soap and water, and their clothes were discarded. According to the Navy, the exposure received "was less than the radiation exposure received from about one month of exposure to natural background radiation from sources such as rocks, soil and the sun." What the reports missed was that these sailors were aboard a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a warship designed to sail into combat. These and sailors aboard other ships sail for months on end relatively close to nuclear reactors…. One cannot argue that the world would be cleaner and safer without nuclear power. Between 1995 and 2005, U.S. nuclear generation avoided the emission of 41 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 16.9 million tons of nitrogen oxide and 7.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Democrats wonder: What's our plan?
Same plan as always. Blame Bush. Raise money from Trial Lawyers and Government Employee Unions. Buy votes by borrowing from the grandkids. Stress envy, say the successful and hard working are robbing the less competent and energetic of “social justice, and demand equality of results.” Play the race card. Play the victim card. Use union thugs to intimidate the opposition. Mobilize the government-dependent to vote. ~Bob. Excerpt: Democrats in Congress are grappling with a question as they negotiate a spending deal: Who's in charge? The top two Democratic leaders in the House have twice split on whether to approve short-term government funding bills that cut billions from federal accounts. Senate Democrats haven’t put forward a long-term spending plan that can move through their chamber, and Democrats on both sides of the Capitol say they have no idea where the White House stands or who’s running the show.

Boy, would the media be all over this if it was on Bush’s watch. ~Bob. Excerpt: As the sun is rising this morning, it appears more and more that the Obama Administration committed an actual, factual act of war against Mexico through sheer incompetence that has left at least one American border patrol agent murdered. What if I told you that the Obama Administration’s Justice Department authorized the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (the “ATF”) to rig gun background checks so gun runners could “walk” guns into Mexico after clearing an instant background check at various gun stores in the U.S.? What if I told you that the Department of Justice and ATF did this to try to build a picture of Mexican Drug Cartels so the cartels could be taken out? What if I told you that the ATF’s authorization of this operation, called by them “Fast and Furious”, corresponded to an increase in gun violence by drug cartels in Mexico? What if I told you the Obama Administration never told the Mexican Government — making this a clear act of war under any host of international precedents? What if I told you that at least one, and maybe more, American border patrol agents were murdered by guns passed over the border with the permission of the ATF?

Pakistani Christian Sentenced for ‘Blasphemy’ Dies in Prison
Excerpt: A Christian serving a life sentence in Karachi Central Jail on accusations that he had sent text messages blaspheming the prophet of Islam died today amid suspicions that he was murdered. Qamar David’s life had been threatened since he and a Muslim, Munawar Ahmad, were accused of sending derogatory text messages about Muhammad in June 2006, said David’s former lawyer, Pervaiz Chaudhry.

Radical Muslim cleric returns to Australia
Being that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” he probably meant it in a good way. ~Bob. Excerpt: A radical Muslim cleric who described Jews as “pigs” and is accused of inciting terrorism has returned to Australia to preach after years in exile. Sheik Feiz Mohammed, a Sydney native, was told in 2007 by then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that he was “not welcome here” after an inflammatory DVD series emerged in which he is quoted saying that “We want to have children and offer them as soldiers defending Islam. Teach them this: There is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid [holy warrior].”

President Hamlet
Excerpt: President Obama has spent most of his life either in, or teaching, school -- or making laws that he was not responsible for enforcing. His hope-and-change speeches were as moving in spirit as they were lacking in details. But now Obama is chief executive, and learning, as did Prince Hamlet, that thinking out every possible side of a question can mean never acting on any of them -- a sort of Shakespearean "prison" where "there is nothing either good or bad." Worrying about pleasing everyone ensures pleasing no one. Once again such "conscious does make cowards of us all."

Japanese Earthquake Looters -- MIA
Excerpt: San Francisco's Chinatown in the 1960s became one of the most impoverished areas in California. Public policy professors James Q. Wilson and Richard Hernstein wrote: "One neighborhood in San Francisco had the lowest income, the highest unemployment rate, the highest proportion of families with incomes under $4,000 per year, the least educational attainment, the highest tuberculosis rate and the highest proportion of substandard housing. ... That neighborhood was called Chinatown. Yet, in 1965, there were only five persons of Chinese ancestry committed to prison in the entire state of California." Two low-income areas outside of Boston -- South Boston and Roxbury -- were featured several years ago in U.S. News & World Report. They had similar socio-economic profiles: high levels of unemployment; the same percentage of children born to single-parent households; and the same percentage of people living in public housing. But the violent crime rate in Roxbury, predominately black, was four times higher than that of South Boston, predominately white. Culture and values explain why some countries and some communities experience crime, while others do not. This explains why many students from Asian countries outperform equally "disadvantaged" black and brown students from the same "underperforming" inner-city government schools.

Fukushima redux – design basis Godzilla?
Excerpt: Looks like we need an update post on the situation with the Fukushima nuclear power reactors. The situation continues to change and develop, but good, sensible, detailed information is still hard to find. In the wake of the Fukushima incident, it has really helped me to understand what happened in 1979 at Three Mile Island; with nonsense all throughout the media, and FUD, and panic spreading, with good information almost impossible to find, and with the over-abundance of bad information leading to hysteria. But this is the first time it has happened to the Facebook and Twitter generation; I’ve yet to determine whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. We need to keep working hard to make sure it’s a net benefit for the good information, not the dodgy information. (...) Why wasn’t the earthquake design basis set high enough?, some people ask. What if the next earthquake is magnitude 10? Magnitude 12? Magnitude 20? But where does it stop? Where do you set the design basis? What if the reactor is attacked by Godzilla? (This Australian site has wonderful sources, far better than any the US media are consulting (if you know any "media people" pass this site on to them; it may help to stifle the sensationalism). They are putting up updates (mostly as comments on previous posts) as they get more info, usually every four or five hours. If you haven’t read the prior posts (3 days of priors as of this writing, but may be more by the time you read it), you should; they aren’t terribly technical, they have pictures so you know how the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and they make sense even to laymen like us. It is possible that events may outrun this info, but these folks have been right on the money so far. Ron P.)

Big Oil loves it when Obama puts federal lands off-limits (But Big Oil isn't really who you think it is)
Excerpt: President Obama and some of his congressional Democratic allies have recently trotted out the old familiar argument that oil companies have millions of acres worth of leases on federal lands that they haven't used yet, so they ought to quit complaining about growing government delays in auctioning new leases. It sounds like a logical argument until it runs into the reality provided by the answer to two basic questions - How much federal land is actually off-limits and who benefits from those lands being kept off limits? Based on government data, the answer to the first question is this: Ninety four percent of federal onshore lands are off-limits to oil and gas exploration, while 97 percent of offshore federal lands are off-limits. So virtually all of the public lands now owned by the American people but controlled by the federal government isn't even eligible to be placed on the auction block for bidding by U.S. companies for energy exploration rights leasing.

Obama's energy policies are crippling economic recovery
Excerpt: Uncertainty is the Achilles Heel of economic recovery. Just as it can pressure individuals to keep their savings hidden in mason jars under mattresses, it can deter companies from reinvesting the $1.9 trillion currently sidelined in their balance sheets, and sway traders to drive up commodity prices. Consider the current energy landscape. By maintaining a moratorium (first explicit and then de facto) on exploration permits in the Gulf of Mexico for the past 10 months, the Obama administration unleashed a plague of uncertainty on America's oil and gas sector. In December, regulators exacerbated the effects by reversing plans to open areas along the Atlantic Coast and Eastern Gulf. The consequences of such sweeping policies extend far beyond limiting energy production to hampering U.S. investment, hindering economic growth and limiting job creation. Before any American rig worker sees even a drop of fuel, companies must pour huge amounts of money into the U.S. economy for exploration and development. Understandably, investors behind these substantial funds want assurance their capital won't be lost because of capricious political interventions. If America's political environment generates too much uncertainty, investors will direct those funds elsewhere. Such was the case last month when Seahawk Drilling, America's second-largest offshore driller with 494 employees, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Union protesters besiege DC fundraiser for Wisconsin GOP
Excerpt: What appear to be more than 1,000 pro-union protesters from around the Washington region have converged on
601 13th St. NW
, trapping inside attendees of a Wisconsin Republican Party fundraiser. Public-sector unions have angrily objected to the bill signed this week by Gov. Scott Walker, who last week signed a bill stripping Wisconsin workers of some benefits and their collective bargaining rights. The fundraising event for Wisconsin Republicans is being hosted by lobbying firm BRG Group, according to the National Journal.

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