July 31, 2005

Why Bill Gates Wants 3,000 New Patents - New York Times

This is an enormously complex issue with billions at stake for the software industry. The article does not explain the rationale the courts used to allow the patenting of software.

As a matter of principle, software code should not be be patentable. How are revisions dealt with? Ideas embodied in code are different than an 'invention' as the nation's founders perceived the term.

I suspect the courts were persuaded to extend paptent protection to software in the days when the U.S. was the undisputed leader in software development. We still may be, but many countries are catching up. I'm not sure how international patent protection works, but this is a big deal!

Patenting genetic modifications falls in this same difficult arena

"...But patent protection for software? No. Not for Microsoft, nor for anyone else.

Others share this conviction. 'Abolishing software patents would be a very good thing,' says Daniel Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation, a nonprofit group in New York that challenges what it calls 'wrongly issued' patents. Mr. Ravicher, a patent lawyer himself, says he believes that the current system actually impedes the advance of software technology, at the same time that it works quite nicely to enrich patent holders. That's not what the framers of the Constitution wanted, he said.

Earlier this month, the European Parliament rejected a measure, nicknamed the 'software patent directive,' that would have uniformly removed restrictions on those patents among European Union members."

July 30, 2005

Ruling Sets Off Tug of War Over Private Property - New York Times

I wonder how the New Hampshire developer is faring who proposed to take Justice Souter's home by eminen domain to build a hotel?

Senate Approves Bill Protecting Gun Businesses - New York Times

The Senate did the right thing here. The rash of lawsuits in recent years is an example of the terrible abuse of the court system. Many cities and others have sued the gun manufacturers for damages because some people used guns while committing crime. This is absurd. Would knife and hammer manufacturers be next? I hope the legislation includes a provision that all existing suits will be thrown out. The judges who accepted these suits in the first place should have known better.

"'This bill is intended to do one thing and that is to end the abuse that is now going on in the court system of America against law-abiding American businesses when they violate no law,' Senator Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican who is a chief advocate for gun-rights causes in Congress, said Friday.

Democratic opponents of the bill disputed the assertion that a lawsuit crisis threatened the industry and said that the measure was simply a reflection of the National Rifle Association's influence over Congress.

'This is about politics, the power of the N.R.A. to dictate legislation,' said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, who led the opposition.

But Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, and 13 other Democrats joined 50 Republicans and one independent to support the bill; it now goes to the House, where its prospects for approval are good when Congress returns. Twenty-nine Democrats and two Republicans opposed it"

July 29, 2005

Study Says Echinacea Has No Effect on Colds - New York Times

Though these tests cost money and take time, properly designed and done by reputable scientists and doctors they will prove or disprove the value of popular supplements. Rigorous controlled tests of other supplements should be conducted, too, so that the folklore can be separated form the practical, proven results.

In this case Echinacea is shown to be worthless for treating colds.

July 28, 2005

BBC NEWS | Americas | US jails Yemeni al-Qaeda backer

Another radical Islamist 'brought to justice.'

Why jihadists target the West | csmonitor.com

Worth contemplating these notions, but far more credible is the policy that hunts down and neutralizes today's terrorists. They must be made to believe that theirs is certain death or long term imprisonment for their horrific acts and plans against innocent people.

Radical Islam must be utterly rejected by Westerners and Muslims alike.

July 27, 2005

Tragic Patagonia, history of the fusillades at Estancia Anita - PATAGONIA-ARGENTINA.COM

A not-so-pleasant piece of history from the 1920s in Argentine Patagonia, a merciless killing of hundreds of sheep herders by the Argentine government, allegedly at the instigation of the British owners of the Estancia Anita in Santa Cruz according to this account.

July 26, 2005

Terrorism and the Random Search - New York Times

The police should profile likely terrorists. If that means suspicious young Muslim/Arab men, so be it. Why waste time and energy on some random algorithm in the name of 'fairness when the terrorist enemies are trying to kill Americans? The Times is foolish to suggest the method below:

"The police officers must be careful not to give the impression that every rider who looks Arab or South Asian is automatically a subject of suspicion. They will naturally choose to search the bags of those people who appear suspicious, like those wearing bulky clothes in warm weather. But those who are selected simply because they are carrying packages should be chosen in a way that does not raise fears of racial profiling - by, for example, searching every 5th or 12th person, with the exact sequence chosen at random."

Searsburg Wind Project

I am opposed to any commercial wind power development proposal in the Green Mountain National Forest or on any of Vermont's mountains. Dozens of towers hundreds of feet high would be a blight on these mostly pristine mountaintops and forest lands in Vermont.

Wind power generally is a bad idea for Vermont because it fails to make economic sense in the face of the real needs. Because we need to replace 2/3 of our baseline power in the next decade, expending effort frivolously by building these ugly towers in the pursuit of tiny amounts of wind energy is Â?whistling in the wind.Â?

I'm happy that the Burlington Free Press has taken the editorial position opposing these windmill monsters on Vermont's mountaintops.

July 25, 2005

Vermont's Hidden Treasure

Last week we visited the Vermont Marble Exhibit/Museum in Proctor which is maintained by Omya, the present owner of most of the active marble quarries in the state. After all these years living in Vermont we had never seen it. While off the beaten path (on route 3, just off route 7 in Pittsford, it boasts a resident sculptor and the largest collection of marble samples in the world. If you are in Vermont this is the place to visit for a day of education and exhibits of all kinds, including a large dinosaur fossil.

The gift shop is very nice and your can buy all sorts of marble products as gifts or for your home. Don't miss it.
The sculptor of this exquisite work in white marble is unknown.

Eight Days in July - New York Times

Damning allegations if the actual story fits together as Rich has written it.

July 24, 2005

The sidewalks where terror breeds | csmonitor.com

Here's what we're up against. This is one of the best articles I've seen that describes in their own words how these wanna-be terrorists think. Read it all, then decide if you think any short-term solution short of hunting them down and imprisonment... or eradication... is viable.

"On 7/7, the jihad came. The suicide bombers were aged 18 to 30 - the same age as Abu Osama's cohorts. By portraying militancy as the ultimate expression of piety, Abu Osama and preachers like him are leading young Muslims down the path toward violence.

'Some of the people tell you Islam is a religion of peace because they think that then you'll want to convert,' says Dublin-born convert Khalid Kelly, who soaks up Abu Osama's sidewalk sermon. 'But you cannot possibly say Islam is a religion of peace; jihad is not an internal struggle.'"

Breeding Stupidity - Yahoo! News

The conservative arguments soundly trash the left's theory that Islamic terrorists thrive because of Iraq. The threat has been gestating for a long time. Iraq is not the cause, but is an opportunity for them to die.

"The realization of the price of inaction through the '90s has a huge political cost attached to it, one that the Democrats will bear if a full accounting is ever compiled. Thus the 'breeding ground' rhetoric--empty and absurd as it is--is a convenient and even necessary bit of smoke. There's no fire underneath that smoke. Just a desperate hope that noise will drown out voices pointing to the real history of the rise of the Islamist threat.

In an exchange with Ron Reagan on MSNBC this week, Christopher Hitchens sharply rebuked the 'motive' school of terrorist psychologists: 'I thought I heard you making just before we came on the air, of attributing rationality or a motive to this, and to say that it's about anything but itself, you make a great mistake, and you end up where you ended up, saying that the cause of terrorism is fighting against it, the root cause, I mean.' [emphasis added]

Hitchens's point, which must be made again and again, is Blair's point: The killers are killers because they want to kill, not because the coalition invaded Iraq, or Afghanistan, or because there are bases in Saudi Arabia, or because
Israel will not retreat to the 1967 borders.

Until and unless the left gets this point, and abandons the idea that 'breeding' of terrorists is something the West triggers, they cannot be trusted with the conduct of the war. "

Uncertainties Slow Push for Nuclear Plants

Nuclear power should be part of the mix of electricity sources

July 23, 2005

Why Do They Hate Us? Not Because of Iraq - New York Times

A reasonable analysis, but the Times' headline writer should have written. :Why They are Angry and Why We Must Eradicate Them

There are no negotiations with these radical Islamic terrorists. They have cast their lot. It is death, in war via suicide/homicide bomb attempts or at the hands of the West. There is no other solution for these crazies. I've not read/heard of any proposed solution for this generation of Islamic terrorists.

U.S. Will Offer Doctors Free Electronic Records System - New York Times

Great idea, but how will this play out in practice ? Will companies like IDX file lawsuits to protest this government sponsored alternative to thier own products? Will the VistaOffice sytem interoperate with other sytems so that doctors and hospitals can share patient data with non-Vista systems? Will existing paper records be scanned or otherwise entered into Vista or is this only a go-forward system?

This Times article leaves far too many unanswered questions.

July 22, 2005

PCWorld.com - Congress Braces for TV Over IP Fight

The corporate elephants are tramping in the Internet jungle. This will be a battle royal as technology enables the broadband buildouts that will shake the legal and regulatory foundations of the telecom and CATV industries.

Stay tuned!

July 21, 2005

Redecorate the Fridge With a Faster, Better Inkjet - New York Times

Hope the new printers and paper from HP are on the market soon. I'm ready for a replacement for my HP DeskJet 952C. Pogue is high on HP's new technology. If he's right, this will be a strong competitor to online printing services. Not as cheap, but a lot more convenient.

Court Nominee's Life Is Rooted in Faith and Respect for Law - New York Times

An excellent background piece on Judge Roberts which should be required reading for anyone following this appointment process. Kudos to the Times for this in-depth piece of reporting. In what I have read to date, the only negative I've seen is from Justice O'connor. With a picture of her fly fishing in Idaho, her comment was: "He's not a woman." Is she serious or is the comment 'tongue-in-cheek?'

If the quote below is his core belief, he's the right man for the job!

"In his confirmation testimony two years ago, he said that judges should be 'ever mindful that they are insulated from democratic pressures precisely because the framers expected them to be discerning law, not shaping policy,' and added: 'That means that judges should not look to their own personal views or preferences in deciding the cases before them. Their commission is no license to impose their preferences from the bench.'"

Please read David Brooks' column for the solid reasons that he supports Roberts' nomination. Brooks is beside himself with glee for several reasons. summed up by:

" In short, I love thee, Roberts nomination. President Bush has put his opponents on the defensive. He's sidestepped the culture war circus. And most important, he's shown that character and substance matter most."

PCWorld.com - IEEE Starts Weaving Mesh Network Standard

The march to lower wireless equipment prices, interoperability and expanded access continues unabated. In my lifetime, perhaps in the the next 5-7 years, my laptop or handheld "digital access device" will be able to access the Internet wirelessly from almost anywhere.

What an astounding world we live in!!

"Mesh networks reduce the need for wired connections in wireless LANs by letting multiple access points carry each others' traffic. Whereas a conventional wireless access point needs its own wired link to a backbone network, with a wireless mesh there can be just one wire for many access points. Traffic that is destined for the Internet can hop from one access point to another until it reaches the one wired connection. Though each access point still needs a power source, the mesh can reduce the need for leased lines, thus reducing costs, Jamoussi said.

When a new access point is added to the mesh, it can be automatically configured for characteristics such as security and quality of service. As decisions are made about routing packets across the mesh, the network can take into consideration congestion and other factors and route around busy access points, Jamoussi said."

July 20, 2005

'L.A. Times' Editor John Carroll Steps Down, Baquet Chosen as Successor

All the traditional Rah, Rah, we're wonderful and going to be better associated with a change in top management. Foolishness. Newspapers won't disappear, but their circulation will continue to decrease, no matter how 'good' they think they are. People will continue migrating to electronic delivery of what is now printed newspaper content. The reasons are simple and should be obvious: limited time in a person's day for all media types; and the not real time nature of newspapers whose distribution is clunky at best.

The real issue for the media and consumers is how will the cost of first rate news gathering be funded? It's an expensive endeavor.

"The paper also took huge hits in circulation over the past two reporting periods. For the six months ending September 2004, daily circ slid 5.5% and Sunday dropped 6.3%. For the latest period, ending March 2005, daily copies decreased 6.4% and Sunday fell 7.9%. Total advertising revenue for the paper rose less than 1% in the second quarter of 2005."

July 19, 2005

British PM tackles terror 'head on' | csmonitor.com

Blair is my kind of guy. He is tackling terrorism on all fronts. I'm extremely pleased he's our ally in this war on terrorist eradication, on all fronts.

'The Muslim [Members of Parliament] who came to see him, and the Muslim leaders, have said that it is not enough just to condemn the bombings, that the Muslim community itself has to act. That is part of the reason for the meeting.'

How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart - New York Times

Very upbeat article about Costco. Its shopper demographics and store sales compared to Sam's Club are astounding.

"Costco was founded with a single store in Seattle in 1983; it now has 457 stores, mostly in the United States, but also in Canada, Britain, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Wal-Mart, by contrast, had 642 Sam's Clubs in the United States and abroad as of Jan. 31.Costco's profit rose 22 percent last year, to $882 million, on sales of $47.1 billion. In the United States, its stores average $121 million in sales annually, far more than the $70 million for Sam's Clubs. And the average household income of Costco customers is $74,000 - with 31 percent earning over $100,000."

July 18, 2005

New York Medicaid Fraud May Reach Into Billions - New York Times

This is unbelievable! Seems the Times has dug deeply with a fine piece of investigative reporting into the New York state Medicaid 'honeypot.' If their findings are correct, New York politicians and bureaucrats ought to be ashamed of themselves for allowing such incredible fraud, waste and abuse. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been siphoned into the pockets of cheats, crooks and charlatans. It's absurd to me that this mess could be allowed to exist, unless there are hundreds of people who should be minding the store 'on the take.'

Vermont would be wise to examine its own Medicaid expenditures to assure proper claims and spending.

July 17, 2005

TIME.com: Unraveling The Plot -- Jul. 25, 2005

Kudos to the British intelligence and police agencies for getting to these terroists so quickly.

However, TIME gets this wrong. It's not important the nationality or where they were born. These people are vicious terrorist killers, deluded, perhaps by those who feed them the steady diet of radical Islam, but terrorists who need to be hunted down and eradicated.
"In the aftermath of terrorist attacks like the London subway bombings, it is often tempting to conclude that those who purposely commit suicide in the service of mass slaughter must be sick, evil, not quite human; they are not us. But as investigators pieced together the fragments of the plot that left at least 55 dead, Britons were forced to confront a reality nearly as disturbing as the attacks themselves: the killers were their own."

Hybrid Cars Burning Gas in the Drive for Power - New York Times

Americans want power, style and 'big' in their cars despite the reality of ever-increasing gasoline prices and eventual shortages. The marketplace is rational, but people often are not when it comes to 'less is better.'

When an Explanation Doesn't Explain Enough - New York Times

The Times seemingly can't help itself as it screws up again in its vengeance against the Bush administration. What a terrible shame from a newspaper that once was held in much higher esteem.

I often ask myself why I read and blog about the Times articles so often. I think it's because there are excellent writers who expound on such a wide range of issues. What turns me negative on the Times are their news and editorial positions and the editorial license as to what news to cover, what to print and what to offer opinions about.

They certainly aren't improving and the Public Editor is correct in surfacing these messes they create for themselves. Thankfully, the Times has a decent public editor. I wonder what sanctions Shipley will incur and will the editor who screwed up be disciplined? Why isn't that in the Public Editor's explanation?

Robin Hoods or Legal Hoods? - New York Times

Good investigative reporting by the Times. Lawyers with questionable ethics who live off the gains of others by filing these mostly frivolous lawsuits deserve to have their chain pulled up short. I hope these crooks go to jail.

Here are the pros and cons of this sort of class action litigation:
"To critics, the lawyers embody what they say is amiss with modern class action suits: shifty and belligerent legal tactics, excessive paydays for lawyers and repeated blackmailing of straight-arrow corporations.

Supporters of the plaintiffs' bar respond that lawyers like Mr. Lerach and Mr. Weiss have led the way in ensuring corporate accountability, most notably in Mr. Lerach's tenacious, inventive litigation against the fallen energy giant Enron. Some plaintiffs' advocates also say that despite the lush fees that lawyers like Mr. Lerach and Mr. Weiss have snared, their lawsuits have served as a powerful deterrent against future corporate wrongdoing and have secured rich settlements that aggrieved shareholders might otherwise have never seen."

'Indispensable': Does It Have a Shelf Life? - New York Times

Yet another NY Times attack on Karl Rove and the Bush administration. They are so consumed since their reporter went to jail and Time Magazine's didn't, they can't see straight!

July 16, 2005

PCWorld.com - Public Broadband Hits Speed Bumps

A review of municipal broadband experience in various cities and towns. The article is balanced and portrays the problems and issues faced by municipalities and providers when tax-financed wireless broadband proposals emerge.

I do not favor municipal owned public access systems where private sector alternatives exist. There are too many downside risks,policy problems and potential conflicts of interest.

July 15, 2005

Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on C.I.A. Officer - New York Times

What intrigue the NY Times tries to create! Because the Times took a different position than Time Magazine on this 'freedom of the press to protect anonymous sources" affair even when it appears a crime has been committed, the Times intends to create what appears to be a false impression that Rove was the source of the leak. The Times refuses to let the story die and the liberal media is in a feeding frenzy over this.

This story suggests that Rove did not leak the name of the CIA agent to Novak or any other reporter. If that's the case, why such a big deal? Novak is the person the media should be focusing on, but apparently he will tell his press colleagues nothing.

The Christian Science Monitor has a piece explaining the basics of this issue.

Nevertheless, the Times is out for blood because of their hatred for the Bush administration.

Mr. Bush, Pick a Genius - New York Times

David Brooks is 'sponsoring' Mr. McConnell as a candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy. The quote below from Brooks' opinion piece suggests a viewpoint that I support pertaining to how the state treats religion. Separatist theory pushes religion from the public square, which is not what the founders intended, IMHO.

"McConnell (whom I have never met) is an honest, judicious scholar. When writing about church and state matters, he begins with the frank admission that religion is a problem in a democracy. Religious people feel a loyalty to God and to the state, and sometimes those loyalties conflict.

So he understands why people from Rousseau and Jefferson on down have believed there should be a wall of separation between church and state. The problem with the Separationist view, he has argued in essays and briefs, is that it's not practical. As government grows and becomes more involved in health, charity, education and culture issues, it begins pushing religion out of those spheres.

The Separationist doctrine leads inevitably to discrimination against religion. The state ends up punishing people who are exercising a constitutional right."

July 12, 2005

Telegraph | News | BBC edits out the word terrorist

Ah, yes, ever the politically correct BBC. Too bad they find themselves with less respect daily, but this is one of the reasons. They refuse to call terrorists what they are. Do they think their audience is stupid?

South Korea Offers Energy-for-Nuclear Deal - New York Times

Seems a reasonable offer from South Korea because the North needs almost everything while led by the nutcakes now in charge.

"Chung Dong-young, South Korea’s unification minister, presented the electricity offer to Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s leader, during a meeting in the Pyongyang on June 17. Under this plan, as Mr. Chung described it today, South Korea would string power lines across the border to points in North Korea and supply up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity to the north – helping to alleviate a desperate energy shortage."

British Believe at Least One Bomber Died in London Blasts - New York Times

The Brits know what they're doing to have gotten this close to the suspects in a very short time after the London tube bombings. Good work, people!

July 9, 2005

Heavy Toll in Afghan Fight for Navy's Proud Elite - New York Times

We know some things about this SEAL tragedy and rescue attempt. Thank God we have talented men like this who will risk everything on our behalf.

July 8, 2005

PCWorld.com - Don't Count on Using Your Cell Phone for Disaster Rescue

This is a mega-problem. The general public has expectations of what a cell system can accomplish in an emergency. The reality is that cell phone traffic and GPS locating technologies will be overwhelmed by the volume of calls and traffic on cell networks in an emergency.

The solution is orders of magnitude more capacity, not used in the normal course of events, but who will pay for that?

Group of 8 Leaders Announce Pacts on Aid to Africa - New York Times

The aid promised to African nations and the Palestinians must be accompanied by rigid and enforced disciplines that require the $ to be used as intended. The corruption and ineptness of these recipients in the past cannot be allowed to continue.

We (the Western world and Japan) would be stupid to repeat the mistakes of the past where $Billions have been poured down the ratholes of Africa and Arafat's regime, lining the pockets of corrupt people or frittered away by inept bureaucrats.

Bush is 100% correct in his opposition that some arbitrary portion of America's income should flow to Africa.

Click here for a good summary of the issues faced by sub-Saharan Africa.

"But his point man for the summit meeting, Faryar Shirzad, a deputy national security adviser, said later that the aid commitment involved no new money from the United States, only adding up increases previously agreed to. Mr. Bush's opposition also helped doom calls for the rich nations to commit themselves to providing a defined proportion of their national incomes to aid to Africa, a step that would have required much larger contributions from the United States"

Broadband in U.S. jumps 34 percent, FCC says

This is really good news. Americans want broadband, are willing to pay for it, and the two principal providers are rolling it out. The consumer advocate quoted at the end of this story has the typical, and wrong, understanding of the reality of today's wireline broadband. Given the magnitude of the investments required to enable wide access, only the telcos and the cablecos have the wherewithal to do it. The FCC's policies are correct in this area.

Wireless technologies may offer even wider and cheaper access in the future, but for now the only realistic broadband Internet access available to consumers' homes is via cable or DSL. Fiber to the home is making rapid advances, but it will take a very long time to deploy fiber to the home.

"Broadband is becoming more widely used as consumers want faster access to the Internet for research, shopping, watching movies and downloading music. President Bush pledged during his 2004 re-election bid to ensure there would be universal access to broadband by 2007.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has made eliminating regulatory hurdles to achieve that goal his top priority since taking the reins of the agency earlier this year.

'The dramatic growth in broadband services depicted in this report proves that we are well on our way to accomplishing the president's goal of universal, affordable access to broadband by 2007,' Martin said in an opinion piece published on Thursday in The Wall Street Journal.

He said the FCC should ease some old regulations on telephone companies to put them on the same footing as cable operators, but added that the government would not relinquish its role of protecting consumers and aiding law enforcement.

'This means that we must treat all such providers in the same manner -- free of undue regulation that can stifle infrastructure investment,' he said.

But one consumer advocate criticized FCC policies as harming competition for broadband.

'Competitive Internet service providers are now history; the U.S. has a duopoly -- cable and telephone industry -- over broadband,' said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. 'Both cable and telephone have a long history of anti-competitive behavior.' "

If It's a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution - New York Times

Friedman is right in his long term solution for denying the radical Islamists a place in Muslim society. Meanwhile, Western countries must gather the best intelligence, pursue relentlessly, and eradicate these terrorist bastards by all possible means.

July 7, 2005

Judith Miller Goes to Jail - New York Times

The New York Times made a different decision than Time Magazine in the case that the Supreme Court chose not to review. Time is right and the NY Times, which is so often the case lately, is wrong.

Reporters are not above the law if that law has been shown to be legitimate. In this case, where national security was involved, reporters are definitely not above the law.

The Times' squealing in this editorial is well reasoned, but wrong.

July 6, 2005

Investing in Gaza - New York Times

Friedman thinks all these details must be resolved in advance for a smooth transition. The reality should be that the Palestinians take charge of the specifics about how Gaza will be governed. If they are incapable of orchestrating this shift in power, they will be seen as inept and foolish.

This is a great opportunity for the Palestinians. I'm afraid they will not seize the initiative. My guess is that Hamas or one of the other terror groups will seize control and embarrass Abbas.

Israel has done a good thing here. Let's see if the Palestinians have the good sense not to screw it up.

"Crucial details are also uncooked because Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, while firm in his resolve to end the violence, has been very weak so far. He has not confronted the corrupt and feckless old guard that Yasir Arafat left behind. He has not brought in the young generation. And he has not put his security forces in order. I spent a day in Gaza and did not see one Palestinian policeman, but I saw green Hamas flags everywhere."

Africa Tackles Graft, With Billions in Aid in Play - New York Times

Pouring money down a rathole lined with graft, corruption and malfeasance is worse than not giving at all. This pouring in of money and aid that is stolen or diverted to the pockets of thugs and criminals undermines the people's desire for their governments help to improve their lot. Bush is right in his position.

"But this new giving is increasingly dependent on proof that its recipients
are controlling corruption and governing wisely. Mr. Blair's Commission for
Africa, which he established last year, concluded in a report in March that
'without progress in governance,' including tackling corruption, 'all other
reforms will have limited impact.'

The United States has been even more
blunt: 'Countries like ours are not going to want to give aid to countries that are corrupt or don't hold true to democratic principles,' President Bush said last month after meeting with South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki."

Nigeria is a country used as an example of a miserable mess.

"Later audits disclosed scores of botched projects financed with hundreds of millions of dollars in international loans. Nigeria's government never even cleared the site for an $18 million construction project. Millions were spent on paper mills that never produced any paper. Eighteen projects costing $836 million were never completed; another 44 either never operated or were quickly shut down, the Nigerian Finance Ministry reported. Of 20 other projects started between 1985 and 1992, more than half had little
impact or were unsustainable, the World Bank concluded."

Your Land Is My Land - New York Times

Tierney is right on target. The Supreme Court erred grievously with its decision in the New London, CT case. Eminent domain is a government power that should be used sparingly. Pittsburgh, the example Tierney cites, apparently has used the power and the long term results have not been good for the taxpayers.

This little project proposes to make the point of the wrongheadedness of the decision by making application to begin the eminent domain process on Justice Souter's home in Weare, NH. Souter voted in the majority.

"The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans."

July 5, 2005

Oil Is Oil, Be It Burned or Eaten, EPA Says

The EPA seems to have a distorted view of the world if cooking oils and dairy products are subject to the same rules as petroleum. Is this bureaucracy run amok?

"The edible-oil people want the EPA to separate them from the petroleum industry.
The dairy people, meanwhile, want an exception to the rule that says milk and cheese, oleaginous mixtures, will be subject to EPA enforcement. 'I'm sorry. You can have a cheese fire, but you won't have a river of liquid cheese that will endanger the environment,' said Clay Detlefsen , counsel for the International Dairy Foods Association .
That's not to say edible-oil spills don't occur.
Evans said that on average, 45 spills of edible oils and fats reach navigable waters annually. He thinks such spills are underreported. The EPA says on its Web site that non-petroleum oils have physical properties similar to those of petroleum: They create slicks on surface water and form emulsions and sludge that can 'be dangerous or even deadly to wildlife.'"

July 3, 2005

A Church-State Solution - New York Times

The author proposes this answer for the battle between the 'values evangelicals' and the 'legal secularists' as he calls them. These two camps are at war over the culture of the United States.

"Despite the gravity of the problem, I believe there is an answer. Put simply, it is this: offer greater latitude for religious speech and symbols in public debate, but also impose a stricter ban on state financing of religious institutions and activities. This approach, the mirror image of O'Connor's compromise, is drawn from the framers' vision and the historical experience of separating church and state in America. The framers might well have been mystified by courthouse statues depicting the Ten Commandments, but they would not have objected unless the monuments were built with public money. Having made a revolution over unfair taxation, they thought of government support in terms of dollars spent, not abstract symbols.

From this logic, it follows that a moment of silence to begin the school day should not be invalidated just because it is intended to let children pray if they wish. Though it will never be easy to determine when schoolchildren are being coerced by peer pressure, at least some older students at optional events like a Friday-night football game surely are not being forced to pray when others are doing so voluntarily. Intelligent-design theory, itself a product of the ill-advised demand that religion disguise itself in secular garb, should be opposed on the educational ground that it is poor science, not on the constitutional reasoning, which some secularists have advanced, that it is a cover for religious creationism. If its advocates can persuade a local school board to put it in the curriculum, the courts need not strike it down as an establishment of religion. On the other hand, charitable choice, which permits billions of dollars in federal money to support faith-based organizations, should not be a vehicle for allowing government to pay for programs that treat alcoholics by counseling them to accept Christ. Schools that teach that Shariah (or Jewish rabbinic law or canon law) is the ultimate source of values should not be supported by tuition vouchers.

Such a solution would both recognize religious values and respect the institutional separation of religion and government as an American value in its own right. This would mean abandoning the political argument that religion has no place in the public sphere while simultaneously insisting that government must go to great lengths to dissociate itself from supporting religious institutions. It would mean acknowledging a substantial difference between allowing religious symbols and speech in public places (so long as there is no public money involved) and spending resources to sustain religious entities like churches, mosques and temples. Public religious symbolism expressed in statues, oaths and prayers reflects citizens' desires to see their deeply held beliefs expressed in those public situations where moral commitments are relevant: legislatures, schools and, yes, courthouses and statehouses."

"... the courts should substitute the two guiding rules that historically lay at the core of our church-state experiment before legal secularism or values evangelicalism came on the scene: the state may neither coerce anyone in matters of religion nor expend its resources so as to support religious institutions and practices, whether generic or particular. These constitutional principles, reduced to their core, can be captured in a simple slogan: no coercion and no money. If no one is being coerced by the government, and if the government is not spending its money to build religious-themed monuments or support religious institutions and practices, the courts should hold that the Constitution is not violated. "

For the Poor in Iran, Voting Was About Making Ends Meet - New York Times

A useful article to understand how the mullahs ahve the economy tied up in knots and the resulting welfare state they have created. This allows them to retain 'control' over the people.

I wonder how long this can last? Billions in oil money available and a large portion of the population living off the government.

When and how will the next revolution occur?

"Iran is awash in oil money, as the price of crude topped $60 a barrel this week, pumping billions into the government treasury. But this country's economy is still tied down by a system in which the state and a shadowy collection of foundations controlled by clerics monopolize the vast bulk of its industries, including oil.

With all that money effectively locked up and a state budget weighed down by subsidies, there is little to spur the kind of private sector growth..."

July 1, 2005

Follow the Leapin' Leprechaun - New York Times

More from Thomas Friedman...the Capitalist... about the stark differences in how Ireland and other European countries, notably France and Germany, view themselves and their cultural economies.

"And by the way, because of all the tax revenue and employment the global companies are generating in Ireland, Dublin has been able to increase spending on health care, schools and infrastructure. 'You can only do this if you have the income to do it,' Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney said. 'You can't have social inclusion without economic success. ... This is how you create the real social Europe.'

Germany and France are trying to protect their welfare capitalism with defense. Ireland is generating its own sustainable model of social capitalism by playing offense. I'll bet on the offense."

CNET Describes TV Legislation

This issue will be a VERY BIG deal as it heats up in Congress and the states. The competitive battle between cable and telco providers has big bucks at stake in terms of franchise fees. These franchise fees at the municipal level in most of the country are significant revenue sources and the opportunity to extract them from both companies will be attractive to local governments fueling a contentious debate. Further, the notion of preemption by the Feds will get the attention of everyone.

In Vermont, the Public Service Board has historically retained franchising authority and regulatory oversight of cable TV. That's a good thing in a small, rural state like ours. If companies had to negotiate agreements with every municipality that would be a nightmare.