April 13, 2005

Bennington Banner - Today's Headlines


Our own Socialist, Bernie Sanders, treats his family just as Tom DeLay does. Jim Barnett (the story has it wrong) has it right.

"Jim Barrett, chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, used Sanders' family payments to highlight what he said is Democratic "hypocrisy" for fiercely attacking DeLay. "It's the standard hypocrisy from the left," Barrett said. "When a Republican does it, it's inappropriate and front page news. But now it turns out, our own Bernie Sanders has been doing it for a long time."

The New York Times > Business > The Former Chief of A.I.G. Is Silent Before Regulators

The Freeman Foundation located in Vermont has been very generous to many Vermont non-profits with its philanthropic contributions. I understand that the Freeman Foundation's resources are created from AIG. It's sad that the CEO of AIG for decades seems to be a crook.

"A.I.G. is cooperating with the investigation. The company is scrambling to file its annual financial report with regulators by April 30. But according to a recent state insurance filing made by A.I.G., outlining all of the companies it owns completely or partially, the company is complex. As of the end of 2003, the most recent document that is available, A.I.G.'s corporate structure included 812 entities. The entities are either wholly or partly owned by A.I.G."

The New York Times > Business > The Former Chief of A.I.G. Is Silent Before Regulators

If Greenberg is a crook, the prosecutors should find a way to take the $billions he transferred to his wife. This is a travesty. While I support capitalism, these greedy crooks should be hung out to dry. They deserve to die as paupers.

"On the same day he appeared before investigators, a new regulatory filing showed that Mr. Greenberg transferred $2.6 billion worth of A.I.G. stock to his wife three days before he stepped down as chief executive. The gift of 41.4 million shares, now worth about $2.2 billion, represents most of Mr. Greenberg's ownership of A.I.G. shares and might have been done to try to protect the assets. "

Frequently Asked Questions about the Armenian Genocide

A very dear friend of mine who I grew up with in Massachusetts is a first generation Armenian. His parents fled the genocide of the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. The story of the Armenians is a woefully tragic tale every bit as evil as the genocide of the Jews in Germany. The story is seldom recounted by today's media. Here is a link describing this horrible history.

When we foolishly consider ourselves 'enlightened,' we must never forget the many sordid tragedies in the 20th century. Among them:

The Armenian Genocide
The Jewish Holocaust
The Cambodian Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide
The Darfur Genocide

Millions of people were systematically slaughtered by their governments for no reason other than their ethnicity or their religion. They were considered somehow inferior by their governments and destined for death.

Consider these tragedies and then try to convince me and yourself that man's nature is not inherently evil.


The People God Forgot

April 24th will come and go.

There will be no front page stories depicting the horror that the Armenian population of Ottoman Turkey endured.

There will be no stories of survivors telling first hand how their parents were buried alive on forced marches from historic Armenian villages to destinations in Syria.

There will be no stories of how Ottoman Empire soldiers would bet on the sex-gender of an unborn child being carried by a pregnant woman, then would slash her abdomen open with a bayonet to determine the winner.

There will be no mention of the village Doctor, an Armenian, who tended to both Turkish and Armenian patients, who was crucified upside down on the front door of his home-office.

April 24, 2005 denotes the 90th Anniversary of the attempted extermination of the Armenian population of Ottoman Turkey. A population that had occupied the territory since at least 200 years BC. More than 1,500,000 Armenians lost their lives. The survivors were scattered throughout the Middle East. Families were splintered. The surviving generation was never to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Their crime? Being Armenians.

Hitler said it in 1936 in Munich.

"After all, who remembers the Armenians?"

Adolph Hitler said it in context when he was outlining his plan for the extermination of the Jewish population of Germany.

And he knew of the Armenians and he remembered - enough to use as a pattern for his own genocidal actions.

It is chronicled that German officers, in Turkey to advise their Turkish allies during the genocidal attack on the Armenian population, and those same officers are said to have advised Hitler on the extermination of the Jewish population.

A New York Times Columnist, in writing of the survival of the Armenian church, in Etchmiadzin, Armenia, erected in 331 AD, and a symbol of the nation, the first to embrace Christianity as a nation in 301 A.D., dubbed the Armenians, "the people God forgot."

The State Department refers to it as an alleged Genocide-Massacre. The Washington Post, until recently, used the same terminology, yet history tells us otherwise.

The U.S. Congress attempted to pass a mandate in 1918 to protect the newly established Republic of Armenia. The mandate failed. The Soviet Union attacked from the east and Turkey attacked from the west. The republic crumbled. A Soviet state survived in the east, which today is the Republic of Armenia.

Franz Werfel wrote about the genocide in his book "The 40 Days of Musa Dagh."

Missionaries of the time wrote about it. The then U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau wrote about it.

Who then are the Armenians?

William Saroyan said it best. They are a resilient, energetic, industrious people who have risen from ruin. Put two Armenians in a room, and they will sing and dance and work diligently to create a life.

Who are the Armenians?

Their survivors and children of the survivors are industrialists-The Masco Corporation, entrepeneurs,-MGM Corporation, inventors-the MRI machine. They are lawyers, and doctors, and college professors, businessmen, and scientists.

They survived and thrive.

They are the Ottoman Empire's successors' worst nightmare, for they have not forgotten.

On April 24th, they will march on the Turkish embassy in Washington. They will march in New York, and in California and in Rhode Island and in Michigan and in Illinois. There are not many survivors. Many with their horrific memories are buried, but their children and grandchildren are striving to keep the memory alive.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Calm Before the Storm?

Friedman may be right. If he is, then we must redouble our efforts to eliminate as many terrorists as we can, both at home an abroad. Wheteh by killing them or by tying them up at Guantanamo or other places and in the courts when we have valid charges against them.

We must increase our vigilance and not be lulled into some false sense of 'things are better now."

"I fear that when and if the Jihadists conclude that they have been defeated in the heart of their world, they will be sorely tempted to throw a Hail Mary pass. That is, they may want to launch a spectacular, headline-grabbing act of terrorism in America that tries to mask, and compensate for, just how defeated they have become at home.

In short, the more the Jihadists lose in Iraq, the more likely they are to use their rump forces to try something really crazy in America to make up for it. So let's stay the course in Iraq, but stay extra-vigilant at home."

The New York Times > Business > 15 Specialists From Big Board Are Indicted

Kudos for the S.E.C. The rash of investigations and indictments of the market makers is welcome news. Also, the investigation by Spitzer of the insurance industry is needed.

April 12, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: A Slap in the Face

Kristof just doesn't get it. He's blind to the reasons why America does not trust its media. The basic reason is that people do not see balance in a specific outlet. While some, but not equal, balance may exist among media outlets, people expect better balance within a large media outlet and that's not what we have today. Polls of reporters reveal an ultra-left leaning group. To think that reporting and editing is divorced from that bias is foolish.

There's no doubt that the largest media outlets, both in reporting and editorial commentary, are biased to the left. The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times are prime examples. The Washington Post is a little more balanced, but for better news and views, have a look at the Christian Science Monitor.

MPR: Minneapolis is going WiFi

This is a reasonable model as long as the duration of the franchise was not infinite.

"The Minneapolis plan is different than wireless services in Chaska and Moorhead, where the city owns and operates the system. It's also different from Philadelphia's network run by a separate non-profit organization. In Minneapolis, the entire system would be privately owned and operated."

About.com: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/04-05/04-10-05/b07lo222.htm

Jane Fonda is a flake. She has shown by her choices to be unworthy of respect.

Shoot First and Don't Flee? | csmonitor.com

The right to defend one's family and property against violence assault, damage or theft should be the rule. Florida is doing the right thing. Most people averse to firearms have never owned or fired one. Misguided social values will not protect people from evildoers.

Sign it, Jeb.

The New York Times > Washington > U.S. Says Medicaid Money Was Obtained Improperly

The debate crescendo rises. Vermont is not on the list of states apparently doing the hanky-panky with Medicaid. We have a health care system out of control. The costs of being well, not wanting to die, research and administration are only brought under control by rationing.

No one uses the term. No one wants to think of the consequences, but in the end, that's the only answer. First order of business is to drive out inefficiencies. But one person's inefficiency is another's bread and butter. Now, let's debate what is rationed and how it will happen. Do we ration care or money? Who does the rationing and on what basis? Until we are willing to engage that debate, we will make little progress.

Whenever costs need to be controlled, industry has used the terms, re-engineering, right-sizing, out-sourcing, smart-sizing, etc. In the end, they all mean that costs have been reduced and that that has meant less of something, usually the number of American workers employed for the tasks.

Not a pretty picture, but we need drastic action...soon.

States gang up on Vonage | CNET News.com

As I have indicated previously, emergency services 911 calling is the Achilles heel of VoIP services. The E911 systems in place serving the traditional wireline POTS services are linked to a large and well-maintained database of physical addresses linked to telephone numbers and, all driven by the operational support systems of the telcos. Because the POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) wireline telephone number is linked to a physical address where the wireline service terminates, the database is automatically queried at the time of a 911 call so as to deliver the address and phone number on the screen when the call is answered at an emergency dispatch center. Unlike wireline POTS, VoIP services and calls are not necessarily fixed to a specific physical address, nor are they integrated into the E911 network. A reading of the Texas filing is instructive.

There is substantial cost to manage and maintain the database and all the backup systems required to provide effective and efficient 911 services. Any additional costs to assure VoIP compatibility and linking should be paid by VoIP providers and their customers. To the extent that inherently VoIP 911 cannot be as fool-proof as wireline POTS, that failing must be either highlighted and reinforced continually to customers or fixed. Texas says VoIP services are deficient with respect to 911 emergency calling and this deficiency is not properly marketed to customers. They may have a winning point. If other states sue, the problem will get attention.

However, this article buys into the VoIP providers' story laying the blame on telcos for not accommodating VoIP emergency calling. Where is the telco side of the story? Poor journalism!!

For VoIP not to a second rate service, the 911 problem must be fixed. The cost of the fix should be paid by the VoIP industry or by their VoIP customers. After all, VoIP is a competitive service to wireline POTS.

"With VoIP, calls are packaged in Internet Protocol, the same routing instructions that form the backbone of the Internet. The problem, according to Net phone providers, is that the Bells have yet to give providers unfettered access to the 911 infrastructure linking more than 3,200 emergency call centers.

That forces the Net phone companies into less-effective ways of routing 911 calls. Rather than being able to get them directly to trained emergency dispatchers, the calls are typically routed to administrative lines at call centers, which then transfer them to dispatchers. In an emergency, the few seconds lost could be the difference between life and death.

This issue is unlikely to derail Net telephony completely, but it could lead to higher prices and increased regulatory oversight of the nascent industry. Ripple effects could also reach traditional phone networks and the Bells, as VoIP providers call on authorities to help broker deals that would allow them to roll out 911 support faster."

Here are the results of a recent online poll about the factors consumers rank when considering VoIP.

What They Liked
Respondents ranked saving $500 a year as the best carrot from a series of 15 potential VoIP enticements. The idea of unlimited free calls to anywhere in the country was second.

The poll's results also underscored the desire for convenience and reliability. Respondents ranked the ability to keep the same phone number as third and the ability to keep phone service working during a power outage fourth.

An ongoing issue for VoIP, having an address sent automatically to a dispatcher during an emergency 911 call, ranked eighth.

April 11, 2005

The New York Times > Technology > France Detects a Cultural Threat in Google

Ahh, the French mind! They seem to have a persecution/dominance complex that frequently surfaces when 'progress' threatens their worldview. Google is very gracious, but is also telling them the facts of 'search life.' The bias in Google search is for what people want, click on, and link to most frequently, not a nationalistic bias. That more people speak English than French suggests to me that Anglo-Saxon 'dominance' already exists.

Why doesn't France produce Googles, eBays, Yahoo!s, etc. Must be a cultural thing , or is it the 35 hour work week?

Maintain the boycott!

"Still, it is no coincidence that concern about Google Print is being expressed first in France. It has often tried to persuade the rest of Europe to close ranks against what it calls Anglo-Saxon culture. And with digitized books, Mr. Jeanneney argued, 'European ranking should reflect a European vision of history and culture.'
But which Europe? That of the French, German and Spanish languages? That of the 25 members of the European Union? More crucially, will European governments or the public have the power to define the books and criteria used in response to search requests?
Even with questions unanswered, however, President Chirac now seems bent on promoting a European parallel to Google Print. And if the rest of Europe does not echo his call, France may well go it alone. After all, no one cares more about French culture than France. And thanks to Google, it seems, Mr. Jeanneney has spawned a new national cause."

April 10, 2005

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Economic View: A Tax Increase That Bush Didn't Mention

Well, now, here's a nasty little wrinkle in the tax code. We need a radical overhaul of the code toward simplification...with revenue neutrality.

Never Mind Justice. How About Just Deserts (sic.)

Only in America, land of free enterprise and 'free' speech!

The difference between court justice and what I'd like to call "sublime justice" is not a difficult concept. But it's a bit nuanced, so here's an example. It seems that Kenneth L. Lay, the former Enron chairman who faces trial next January on fraud charges, has paid Google, the online search service, to place ads next to or above searches about Enron and related topics and direct people to a site that gives his side of the story. (According to this Web site, he's not a crook.)

The links also appear in searches involving the bylines of some reporters, like Mary Flood of The Houston Chronicle and Kurt Eichenwald of The New York Times. A quick check of the Google "AdWords" site suggests that Mr. Lay pays about $25 a day for linking ads to the searches. Every time someone uses Google to search for sites about "Ken Lay" or "Enron," among other terms, and then clicks on the link to the kenlayinfo.com site, that click costs Mr. Lay a little less than a dime. His case hasn't yet gone to trial, but he's trying to score points in the court of public opinion, and he's willing to pay for it.

The New York Times > National > U.S. Seeks Access to Bank Records to Deter Terror

No burden on financial institutions is to heavy if it prevents further terrorism. All measures must be used to prevent another 9/11 or worse. The terrorists are patients. They may wait years between attacks.

["It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." -- John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election, 1790. (Speeches. Dublin, 1808.) as quoted in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations]

"The provision authorized the Treasury Department to pursue regulations requiring financial institutions to turn over 'certain cross-border electronic transmittals of funds' that may be needed in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

The plan for tracking overseas wire transfers is likely to intensify pressure on banks and other financial institutions to comply with the expanding base of provisions to fight money laundering, industry and government officials agreed. The government's aggressive tactics since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have already caused something of a backlash among banking compliance officers - and even some federal officials, who say the effort has gone too far in penalizing the financial sector for lapses and has effectively criminalized what were once seen as technical violations."

April 7, 2005

Pope John Paul Last Will and Testament

Translated by the Associated Press. The New York Times has it here.

Survey Paints Portrait of Dean Supporters (washingtonpost.com)

Some surprises here. We knew the Deaniacs were very liberal, but the results of this survey, which includes a large number of respondents thus a high degree of accuracy, suggest that Dean and his followers will try to lead the Democrats even further to the left. If this happens, the strategy will fail. Mainstream America will not embrace these values. Given his beliefs and the elitist profile of his supporters, I think Dr. Dean has a 'Sisyphean task' ahead trying to unite the Democrats. Winning elections will be fantasty.

"More than four in five (82 percent) of Dean activists in the study identified themselves as liberals, compared with 27 percent of all Democrats nationally. Asked what drew them to Dean, 66 percent cited the war in Iraq, and 99 percent of the Dean followers said Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq was wrong. On the issue of gay rights, 91 percent of Dean activists said they favor same-sex marriages, compared with 38 percent of Democrats nationally.

In a party that includes substantial numbers of blacks and Hispanics, the Dean Democrats are overwhelmingly white -- 92 percent, according to the survey -- and constitute what could be described as part of the American elite. More than half (54 percent) hold post-graduate degrees and a quarter have graduated from college. Almost one in three (29 percent) have household incomes of more than $100,000 annually.

One in three of the Dean activists said they never attend church, and 27 percent said they seldom do so. Those rates of religious participation are far lower than that of Democrats generally. More than half of all Democrats say they attend church at least once a month."

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > Basics: Printing on the Road: Portable Solutions

A wealth of information for printing while on the road.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Annan says rights body harming UN

Since Kofi seems to have survived the oil-for-food scandal for the moment, he's wisely trying to rid the U.N. of other absurdities. The Human Rights Commission is a blatant expression of much of what's wrong with the U.N. To his credit...and his benefit... he's going after it, hopefully to fix it, not merely to enhance his own sagging reputation.

"We have reached a point at which the commission's declining credibility has cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system," Mr Annan said as he addressed the commission's annual six-week session at its Swiss headquarters.

"Unless we re-make our human rights machinery, we may be unable to renew public confidence in the United Nations itself," he said.

Yahoo! News - Verizon Offers Wireless Turnkey Fleet Management Service To Small Businesses

There are no secrets with the ability to track every vehicle.

April 5, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: A House Divided, and Strong

As usual, Brooks nails the reasons conservatives are in the ascendancy and liberals 'wanna-be.'

"Conservatives fell into the habit of being acutely conscious of their intellectual forebears and had big debates about public philosophy. That turned out to be important: nobody joins a movement because of admiration for its entitlement reform plan. People join up because they think that movement's views about human nature and society are true.

Liberals have not had a comparable public philosophy debate. A year ago I called the head of a prominent liberal think tank to ask him who his favorite philosopher was. If I'd asked about health care, he could have given me four hours of brilliant conversation, but on this subject he stumbled and said he'd call me back. He never did."

Wired 13.04: START

A key component of this digital distribution will be WiMax wireless systems, heavily backed by Intel and to be commercially available in 12-24 months. Note the Sundance demo of streaming and WiMax distribution of a film.

Given the convergence of expanded broadband availability, extraordinarily cheap and tiny storage (Hitachi plans to sell a 1 Terabyte 3.5" hard drive next year and a 20 gig 1" Microdrive), and increasing processing power, physical media will move lower on the demand curve, particularly from today's generation of kids.

Of course physical media won't disppaer, but will shrink in proportion to online distribution. Content owners have an even tougher road ahead

The New York Times > Business > World Business > U.S. Begins Steps to Limit Import Surge From China

We are in the midst of a surge in China's exports. This is just one more chapter in the unfolding shift in economic power away from the U.S. Free trade is not necessarily fair, perhaps it seldom is 'fair,' at least to those whose jobs are displaced.

I have yet to hear any politician seriously discuss a policy or action that would change the general trend toward more imports and increasing trade deficits. America must decide how it will play long term in this global economic game. The only responses seem to be about restrictions and restraint.

We'd better get our collective act together. I'd like to see a proposal for what the U.S. position will be/should be in 10 years. The frequent admonitions about balancing one's portfolio by investing internationally had best be heeded.

Our Achilles heel is energy and perhaps it is also China's. The world's growth economies will suck up all the available energy supplies.

April 4, 2005

? Google wants your video | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

Google wants your video! Not clear how they'll manage IP rights, etc., etc., etc., I think they're moving so rapidly...or at least saying they are...into so many areas just to keep their competitors off balance. Bill Gates must be paying close attention!

April 3, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Art of Intelligence

David apparently has not read The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations
by James Surowiecki

Neither have I, but I hope to.

"I'll believe the intelligence community has really changed when I see analysts being sent to training academies where they study Thucydides, Tolstoy and Churchill to get a broad understanding of the full range of human behavior. I'll believe the system has been reformed when policy makers are presented with competing reports, signed by individual thinkers, and are no longer presented with anonymous, bureaucratically homogenized, bulleted points that pretend to be the product of scientific consensus.

I'll believe it's been reformed when there's a big sign in front of C.I.A. headquarters that reads: Individuals think better than groups."

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Click Online | Blogging from East to West

A piece from Europe with a tonal content that views blogs and bloggers with some suspicion and, perhaps, loathing.

The New York Times > Technology > Pentagon Redirects Its Research Dollars

A tough call to redirect DARPA research $ away form universities, but probably the right thing to do in the short term. I note most of the complainers in this article are on the 'left coast.' Is this a 'conservative vs. liberal' thing?

April 2, 2005

Two very different lives exposed by the media grip us all | csmonitor.com

The deaths of the Pope and Terri Schiavo are in such stark contrast. In Schiavo's case, we have this terrible family feud over how she should live or die. Our 'rule of law' as interpreted by the courts has chosen death for Schiavo. Sad and wrong.

Our humanity and our founding American principles cry out for a 'culture of life,' as Bush puts it. But we have this liberal culture of death, albeit 'with dignity.' There are no easy answers in the secular realm of emotions, pain and fear of death.

However in the spiritual domain, if one is a Christian, death is merely a rite of passage to a greater eternal life as promised by God and His Son, Jesus, who said that we are destined for eternal life.

I fear that the exigencies spawned by the rising costs of health care, medical technology, genetic manipulation and the 'culture of death' for those without faith, hope or belief in the reality of eternal life will encourage death rather than life.

For a Christian, death is not his/her end, merely his/her beginning!

I choose to embrace eternal life.

Others Aware of Red Lake Plans, Officials Say (washingtonpost.com)

An unbelievable and tragic revelation that many other young people may have know about the intent and plant to massacre fellow students.

What are we becoming?
"'There may have been as many as four of these kids who were active participants in the plot,' said the official, who declined to be identified discussing an ongoing investigation. 'The question is, how many other kids had some knowledge of this or had heard about it somehow? We think there were quite a few.'"

April 1, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > Schiavo's Case May Reshape American Law

An excellent secular summary of the issues and opinions that have come from the Schiavo drama. What's missing here, however, is any discussion of the spiritual dimension of life and death. That discussion is immensely important and becomes a foundational part of anyone's decisions in matters of life and death.

The best efforts of state/government/courts are only process focused to provide rules for managing life and death among the competing views and opinions. The real questions about life and death are spiritual. Crucial questions about immortality reside in what a person believes to be true... not what the law of man says, but what the Law of God is.

The law of man can never be crafted in a way that that satisfies all spiritual beliefs.

For me and other committed Christians and Jews:

'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts' (Isaiah 55:8,9 New International Version of the Bible).

The Scriptures talk about life and death not so much in the physical sense but in matters of the spiritual and faith.

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."

"The wages of sin is death."

"The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death." (NIV)

"Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." (NIV)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, [ Or his only begotten Son] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

"Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men." (NIV)

Gmail - Circuits: A Copyright Hornet's Nest

Pogue's position and arguments are correct. People are stealing who use this software that enables piracy and sharing the unencumbered digital copies with others. The pending Supreme Court's decision about whether to hold Grokster and other internet sharing software/sites liable for the illegal actions of users will be closely watched.