Monday, December 29, 2008

Drill, baby, drill!

A couple of posts ago, I lamented Mr. Obama's choice for Agriculture Secreatry, Tom Vilsack; I neglected to discuss his Interior Secretary choice, Senator Ken Salazar. As the Bush administration pushes for accelerated oil drilling off the California coast, it seems as though Mr. Obama chose a person who not only supported offshore drilling in a recent senate bill that died (it would have enabled drilling if the state whose coast it would be allowed it), but he chose someone who the Independent Petroleum Association of America finds "encour[aging]" (see article linked to in title).

Why is Mr. Obama's choice so important? The President-Elect has made no indication that he will reinstate the offshore drilling moratorium that recently expired. If this were the case, then Mr. Salazar will potentially (and likely) continue the Bush Administration's last-minute pushes to advance drilling off the California coast.

Drilling off the coast will not solve any problems. To those who say it would lower fuel prices: the fact that there is only enough to supply the United States for an estimated 17 months is practically an assurance that gas prices will remain the same. And, even if they were to lower as a result of this drilling, our dependence on oil would just be furthered and the progress of alternative fuel technology, stifled (see previous post).

Drilling would almost certainly destroy the tourist economy, if not now, inevitably. Besides unsightly drilling platforms merely miles off our pristine coasts, the chance of an eventual spill is nearly guaranteed. How many travelers would want to sunbathe on an oil-drenched beach? Just think of the environmental devastation from a large-scale oil spill (remember the Cosco-Busan?). In addition to all of this, ship traffic would increase several-fold in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego, busying our ports, increasing the chance of local spills (like the Cosco-Busan), and worsening air pollution. 

Although the title "Interior Secretary" may seem neither glamorous nor relevant to your life, the ramifications of who Mr. Obama chooses are clear and immediate. Let's hope he didn't make a mistake.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Low gas prices not good for anyone . . . really

As gas prices continue to go down, most people seem very excited (at least those they interview on the local news). In truth, low gas prices are leading to two devastating problems: deflation and continued oil dependence.

With energy prices dropping, it only follows that consumer goods prices drop accordingly. Although seemingly good for all of us during tough times, deflation is a problem worse than inflation. As the prices of goods drop, producers make less money and have to pay their employees less or just lay them off. This results in less cash entering the marketplace on the consumer end, continuing the downward spiral. To add insult to injury, more people are hoarding their savings in fear of bank collapse and long-term depression, resulting in even less flow of money and goods, retarding the economy.

The second problem is that of our perpetuated reliance on oil. With prices low again, people are no longer as concerned about fuel efficiency and alternative fuels. This stifles investment and progress in technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells, batteries, biofuels, and mass transit. Although people were probably sufficiently scared enough from this year's spike in gas prices to not buy any more Hummers, if prices stay low, people will forget those highs rather quickly and go back to their wasteful ways.

Even so, low gas prices do serve as some relief.  High gas prices obviously take their toll on everyone, particularly low- to middle-income families. Low gas prices are a blessing to them (that is until they are laid off). The government should enact a consumption tax on gasoline, making it very expensive (at least $5 or $6 per gallon). The government would then pay households a gas stipend based on how much driving each should have done on average based on each family member's commute, proximity to mass transit and stores, income, etc. This way, families that take mass transit, drive electric cars, and carpool would make money on their stipend while families that drive fuel-inefficient SUVs and make wasteful trips would pay more gas tax then their stipend subsidizes. This would drop consumption by providing monetary incentive to not use oil and penalty to use too much of it. It would also manipulate the market to favor alternative energy and fuels, making their innovation less reliant on government handouts.

Monday, December 22, 2008

So much for change . . .

Last week, Tom Vilsack, a Democratic governor of Iowa, was nominated by Mr. Obama as Secretary of Agriculture. Although other nominations, such as that of Stephen Chu as Energy Secretary, are commendable and a harbinger of great progress to come, choosing Mr. Vilsack was a terrible decision that raises questions about Mr. Obama's commitment to true progress.

The success of Mr. Vilsack is inextricably tied to the agribusiness lobby. Rumored to frequently travel on the Monsanto corporate jet, Mr. Vilsack has an unhealthy relationship with the ethanol, agribusiness, and seed biotech industries. Recepient of the Biotechnology Industry Organization's Governor of the Year award in 2001, Mr. Vilsack founded the Governors' Biotechnology Partnership to advocate for genetically modified crops. In 2007, he briefly worked for a law firm that represents agribusiness giants Cargill and Conagra (there is no revolving door in politics!!!!).

From a public health and environmental perspective, these three industries are disasters. 

Monsanto is a company whose directive totally disregards responsible practices. After numerous studies demonstrating one of its products, r-BST, a bovine growth hormone administered to milk cows to increase yield and profit, link to cancer, Monsanto has used highly unethical methods to prevent its regulation, such as forcing Fox News to censor a report on r-BST by threat of removing all advertising with News Corp and censoring of its own safety reports.  Monsanto has also engaged in the intimidation and bankrupting of farmers who have "misused" Monsanto GM seeds by forcing them to sign strict contracts ensuring monopoly.

Cargill and Conagra employ monocultures, pesticides, and inorganic fertilizers (the latter two derived from petroleum) to maximize yield and profit while consequently devastating biodiversity, water ways, wildlife, soil health, the climate, and family farm communities (small farms are bought up and aggregated in order to concentrate production). Processed food (the cause of our public health crisis–Type II diabetes, obesity, etc.) is a result of agribusiness minimizing nutrition and ingredient wholesomeness in order to maximize profit.

Mr. Vilsack is also an ardent supporter of biofuels, such as corn- and soy-based ethanol fuels, which are not energy efficient and have led to high food prices around the world.

I could carry on all day about why Mr. Vilsack is not the right choice for Ag. Secretary. Quite simply, though, any person so closely tied to industries so dependent on lack of regulation and excessive subsidies–both determined by Dept. of Agirculture–is not a choice for change. Mr. Obama disappoints.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Potential Trouble in China

So, the US isn't the only place having economic woes. While keeping a close eye on our economy is perfectly understandable, others are having a hard time as well. China is a large exporter of goods but the decreasing demand has caused manufacturers to layoff workers. Communist leaders expressed concern about the job loss, and these conditions could worsen political tension. Now it's a race to find a balance of keeping the people happy and while figuring out how to get the economy back on track. Though it seems a bit far fetched right now, if the problem worsens there might be another political tussle in China.

Should there be more unrest in China, it might start a vicious cycle of lack of goods because of the lack of workers and further decline in the economy, even globally because there won't be much supply for even the small demand of goods. I'm no economist specialist though, so this is mostly conjecture on my part.

Did the US start these global economic problems? I know that countries have been particularly picky about getting money from us, but I haven't been following foreign affairs and the article didn't place the blame on anyone specific. I suppose it's possible that with the fear of recession, our (the US) demand for foreign goods decreased while we focused on internal problems.

So, how about that Poverty?

Obama has done a good job getting support and inspiring people but recently there has been doubts on his plans on Poverty, particularly from former candidate Edwards supporters and Poverty interest groups. It seems accurate that the issue of poverty hasn't been talked about as much compared to Obama's speeches of helping more of the middle class workers.

Well, he should probably start talking. With the way the economy seems to be going and all the people losing their jobs, the number of Americans facing poverty is almost certainly going to increase. Those people he was promising tax cuts are going to want more help from the next President than just that now. I think he'll have no choice but to work and focus more on poverty now if he wants to keep support and a good image. President-elect Obama worked with poor people before, and he's going to need to work with them again in order to keep his promise of change for the better and not worse.

And Mr.Edwards is definitely not going to get a job in the White House. He might be working to help the poor and have a lot of expertise in the area but he could use else where. It won't help Obama's image to hire him. Does anyone disagree with my assumptions?

Tell 'em the Good Stuff

President Bush only has 38 days left in office, and though he could be writing executive orders and messing up the transition (does he really want to? I think he wasn't because of how things have been going with the economy, ect.) he went and visited a college in Texas not to talk about policy or the failed bailout package but to remind people of the good stuff. Bush "reminisced about memorable moments of his presidency" which included traveling to 74 countries and all over the United States. Apparently he had quite a few stories to tell. There was the usual talk of how much of a "privilege" it was to serve but he did joke about his "post-presidency prospects" and related himself to those college students didn't currently have jobs.

While he was obviously focusing more on the good than the bad, maybe that's what people need right now, some humor, someone to relate with.
Plus there are bound to be serious criticism about this speech but I think it's probably time he did start that letting go process. Sure he screwed up at times but giving people to good stuff now is just fine. Let historians do the rest of the score keeping.

An Unexpected Fire

Governor Palin's church was hit by arson Friday night. No one was hurt but it raises the question if it was done because someone was angry about the outcome of the elections and Palin not becoming the Vice President.

I don't like her nor her ideals but if the fire was because of her 'failure', that's pretty harsh...then again Alaska's a harsh place to live in anyways. At least she had the courtesy to apologize if that was the motive of the fire.

Zimbabwe blames west

This is absurd. However, it is a shame that "Their stranglehold on most sources of news to which ordinary Zimbabweans have access makes such rhetoric an important tool for a regime struggling to hold onto power." meaning that he is manipulating all of these poor defenseless people. Furthermore, "Zimbabwe once had among the best health care systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Now most hospitals have been forced to close their doors as they can no longer afford drugs, equipment or wages for their staff. Officials are also unable to afford spare parts and chemicals for water systems." So that's even sadder given its incredible decline.

Show thrown at Bush

Ok, since Colby asked and my shift as poster is over, I'll post this strange video. Like, they are talking and stuff and some weirdo throws a shoe. Imagine if that connected and like put him in a coma or something. To be quite honest, while it is wrong to do so, my first response would be laughing, a lot. But it did not and it shows how there are quite a few people in Iraq who really angry (and honestly somewhat stupid) at Bush. Bush said, "Iraq and US are on solid footing" but clearly that is not the case because if you have professional journalist that pissed off, imagine how the regular folk feel. It does not seem that Iraq's relation with the US is as good as George Bush think but then again, that is all expected.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bad Computers Deny Money to Veteran Widows

So apparently, "Widows of war veterans have been wrongfully denied up to millions of dollars in government benefits over the past 12 years because of computer glitches that often resulted in money being seized from the elderly survivors' bank accounts."

Like how do these things go by unnoticed for so long? Like, isn't it someone's job to ensure money gets to these families? I just do not understand how there is a whole department for helping veterans and this never came up.

And furthermore,

"But the VA never updated its automated computer systems, which send out checks and notification letters. As a result, widows were either denied the final month of payment or asked to send the checks back. In many cases, if the checks were already deposited or spent, the U.S. Treasury moved to seize the money directly from the widow's account."

They seized the money right out of the woman's account like is there no human here who checks this stuff. Honestly, people are always pledging to help the veterans and stuff but do they really mean it? Anyway, "President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to "fix the benefits bureaucracy" at the VA. Last week, he named Retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, a former Army chief of staff, to be the next VA secretary." so hopefull that will work out but really, they never updated the computer system? Boy, I feel safe now what with all this "advanced" technology helping us. I mean, if this one is all messed up, what about other systems in other departments? Are they causing problems to? Well, I guess all I can really say is let's hope not.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Europe Continues WIth Plan, Wants Obama to join

Today, at a summit in Europe

"on Friday December 12th, as they agreed that Europe would take a global lead in fighting climate change. But they also agreed to protect local heavy industry if the world’s biggest polluters did not follow suit, starting with America."

" the final summit conclusions preserved those headline promises, as well as a pledge that the EU would make 30% cuts in emissions if other big polluters agree to their own binding carbon limits at an important international meeting to be held in Copenhagen at the end of 2009."

So Basically they said if the US does not try changing, they would be unwilling to take certain steps.  The European countries decided to go with an ambitious plan which, "would involve cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by 20% over 1990 levels, obtaining 20% of energy from renewables and making 20% savings in energy use over forecast levels, all by the year 2020."  But given the state of things, concessions had to be made for poorer or countries (such as germany and Italy) that emit large amounts of green house gas.  As for the US role, José Manuel Barroso said to the US, "to join Europe and with us lead the world". 

However, the US still has not even ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a widely accepted plan to reduce several greenhouse gases so it seems difficult to imagine that the US will respond well especially wth the current recession here.  I personally, think that the US is long due for doing something about this and as a European, it would be annoying to be doing all this work while the US does nothing.  Furthermore, it is during a crisus that we see how comitted we are.  After all, we can't fight climate change if every time something bad happens, conservation is flung to the bottom of the list.  Anyway, I hope that Obama takes up their other to join them and lead the world

By the way, the picture shows how utterly alone we are in terms of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol

American Car?

Now, in one of my previous articles I talked about how the Big Three outsources a lot but here are some interesting statistics.

"Fewer than half of the parts on some Big Three vehicles are made in the U.S.

Looking at a Ford Fusion? It is assembled in Mexico. The Chrysler 300C is assembled in Canada, but its transmission is from Indiana; the brand's V-8 engine is made in Mexico. Engines in the Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle are from China."

Then, in comparison, 

"On the other hand, Toyota's Camry is comprised 80 percent of parts made in the United States, and 56 percent of Toyota's vehicles sold in the U.S. also are made here, according to Toyota spokeswoman Sona Iliffe-Moon."

The Toyota Sienna and Tundra also have 80 percent of their parts manufactured in the U.S."

Now, this is somewhat ironic is it not?  After all, our apparently "american" companies does not use American parts.  This information is somewhat disconcerting because if they are not made in the US, that means most of the jobs (a lot more than I though) are not here.  Then, it really would be better if these companies died because it will teach them that factories and jobs at home are most important to stimulate the economy that buys your car.  Honestly, maybe the collapse of one or two would not be such a bad idea since it would teach them such a lesson

Rape by both sides in the Congo (whyyyyyy?)

How does this EVER help a war effort?

"Amnesty International said much of the sexual violence committed by all sides has been directed at ethnic groups from opposing communities.  Failure by the army and rebel groups to stop or punish rape "suggests that, at the very least, they systematically condone the crime and thereby implicitly encourage its persistence on a mass scale," the group said"

People like this are totally unqualified to lead an army let alone lead a country when the fighting is done.  And worse, all this does is encourage people to fight harder.  In war, people die ok that is a sad truth but REALLY. In my opinion, rapist are the worst people in the world because like, you can justifiably kill someone but I don't think there is any way to justify raping a woman.  This country is really messed up at this point and it does not seem to matter who wins this conflict because in the end, a large number of people will suffer

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Senate doe NOT pass auto industry bailout

Shame really, this was discussed in my previous article and it was believed that this would pass but I guess not.

However, "GM, Ford and Chrysler employ nearly 250,000 people directly, and 100,000 more jobs at parts suppliers could hang on their survival. The companies say 1-in-10 U.S. jobs are related to the auto sector. " so if that is true and the companies really do start collapsing I wonder what Congress will do then

Billion Dollar Fraud

Great, the economy is having a hard time and then we find out someone has been charged with fraud in the Stock Market. Could this have had any possible large scale effects on the economy other than further ruin people's confidence and Madoff losing his reputation? Apparently his website he wants fair-deals and high ethical standards in his firm. Could it has seriously contributed to the economy's problems? It probably didn't have a huge effect but then again I don't know much about stocks and economics to have a good perspective to judge.

Obama and the Internet

Continuing on Obama's Internet campaign and presence, Henry from The Monkey Cage just recently posted an interesting article that compares how the Internet was seen to have helped Obama's campaign and how the Internet actually helped.

He points out that the Internet activity of the campaign was not just some big poster to claim people are contributing, but it is really a means of communicating and efficiently organizing people who wanted to make that difference. I can see why the Internet was such a useful tool for the Obama campaign. It provided just about everything an individual needed to do the door to door notices and phone call lists, like the Obama campaign volunteer guest speaker explained when we had him a week or so ago.

The Internet empowers the activists to organize, not just show off, and with how the campaign played out this year you can count on similar methods in the future.

Postelection Fatigue

News Ref

During Obama's campaign there always seemed to be talk of his great volunteer movement, getting people out to vote, and using the internet to get connected to the voters. But now that the election is over and Obama is now President-elect his internet prowess seems to be fading rapidly.

Initially after the election when Obama came out with the first of his "fireside chat" talking-to-the-people videos, it was viewed by many, however the trend lately has been fewer views with each new video he presents. While the approach is reminiscent of the "fireside chats" and seems like a good idea, this is one borrowed idea that hasn't been working as well as one would hope.

There could be a number of reasons to explain the decline. Perhaps it is the Presidential capital model starting even before Obama is in office, where his influence and effect on people is gradually decreasing. It could be because he won and now his supporters don't see as much of a compelling need to as attentive. Or maybe those videos are just boring. They should be on Youtube if you feel like looking.

The country is doing bad as a whole, but California is doing the worst

"California leads the nation in the sheer size of its budget gap, according to the most recent survey of states by the National Conference of State Legislatures. "

Yep, California budget deficit will reach 41.8 billion dollars by 2010 based on current estimates and Arnold Schwarzenegger himself says that the state is heading toward "a financial Armeggedon". One of the reasons for this would be about how California passes budgets and deals with taxes. Calironia requires "two-thirds majorities to pass a budget" and is "one of seven states that require two-thirds of the votes to pass taxes."

Therefore, Republicans have a much greater power and they have remained stalwart in refusing to raise taxes while they themselves have yet to present their own plan on how to fix the situation.

I am not surprised though that California is in such a pickle but really, that whole things about passing a budget and taxes seems ineffective. That needs to be fixed in all seriousness because whenever there is a crisus (like now), people always disagree on how to fix it so setting such a high requirement doesn't help. I wonder how this will affect colleges and other vital programs though and whether or not they will get cut more to try and fix the budget.

Wow, this does not seem like a good idea (this is what Haaretz is by the way)

"U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's administration will offer Israel a "nuclear umbrella" against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran. "

Yeah, that's great, basically, if (possibly when at this point) Iran gets nuclear weapons and blows up Israel, Obama intends to blow them up more. Honestly, like nuclear weapons are deterrants but you do not just so harshly say such a thing I mean, it just escalates the conflict.

However, "The current debate is taking place in light of the Military Intelligence assessment that Iran has passed beyond the point of no return, and has mastered the technology of uranium enrichment. " so yeah, this is not good. By the way, it is wildly believed that Israel has its own nukes. They won't affirm it but yeah, it is generally believed so US saying that it will nuke Iran does not do anything except make us more involved in this whole affair (and hated more by the Middle East) which is annoying given the fact that the US is trying to withdraw from the Middle East. This is not the smartest idea for Obama and it just goes to show, you can't stop a determined nation from developing nukes with just bribes and sanction

Mugabe: "Cholera epidemic is over"

Despite Cholera rampaging across Zimbabwe, Mugabe think everything is fine

“I am happy to say…that there is no cholera”

While officials in South Africa are declaring a disaster area in a part of the Limpopo region on the Zimbabwean border, as a result of desperate refugees spreading cholera. As Zimbabwe (and its neigboring countries) continues to suffer, attempts are being made by outsiders for military intervention. Furthermore, "Mr Mugabe refuses to give up political control of either the police or the armed forces, leaving the opposition still vulnerable to arbitrary arrest, intimidation and physical attack"

What kind of person says this while people are suffering and dieing, and this man is going as far as to say that the disaster is over. He continues to hoard all the power while the UN is scrambling to help. Honestly, he does need to step down but what happens then? Someone will have the take the position and in the current situation, that may not even be possible. So far, Bush has simply called for Mugabe to stand down which is good i guess given the current state of things in the US but it does not seem likely that he will on his own accord. Junior soldiers are currently the only ones rioting and has yet to reach higher ranks but will military force work? I do not think so but with the way things are, that is very likely to happen given the terrible situation.

Hilary Clinton ineligible?

"No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time."

Interestingly enough, this prevent Hilary from being eligible for Secreatary of State (at least constituitionally)

"A January 2008 Executive Order signed by President Bush during Hillary Clinton's current Senate term increased the salary for Secretary of State, thereby rendering Senator Clinton ineligible for the position."

This is quite interesting but does it matter? I mean, a lot things the US has done is still technically unconstitional but as the president of judical watch Tom Fitton says,

"No public official who has taken the oath to support and defend the Constitution should support this appointment. And aside from the constitutional issue, Hillary Clinton's long track record of corruption makes her a terrible choice to serve as the nation's top diplomat."

It doesn't really matter to me but that might be because I lack a full scope of the situation. Anyway, do you guys like Hilary Clinton? Should she still try to take the position risking something from the Republicans? Comment below

This is really disturbing

Ok, to sum it up, US soldiers rape women in Japan and Japan (and apparently several other nations) does nothing to stop it or punish the man. You know, I hear a lot of things like this concerning US soldiers being less than honorable and I often wonder, does this happen with other countries? It's kind of difficult to say since the US is the current powerhouse of the world and yeah, I do not know. But really, like, US soldiers seem to cause a lot of problems. For example

"While many women began to flock to the sex trade during the 1960s as a conscious decision to support their families, it was not until the influx of US soldiers during the Vietnam War that the trafficking trade developed to meet the demand, and traffickers began to kidnap women and children and forced them into the industry."

Really, like something needs to be done but of course, Japan is in kind of in a difficult situation. It needs US support because Japan is pretty rude/hostile to neigboring nations and the other nations are hostile to them as well and what with N. Korea and A-bombs, they need US help even more. I think that the US really needs to notice these sorts of things and put a stop to them especially with soldiers. And furthermore, is this sort of thing happening in the Middle East with US soldiers there? After all, there are plently of poor, desperate women there in need of money so is this happening there as well?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Olberman Commentary on Bush's Legacy

Keith Olberman seems to be a little too harsh however, a lot of what he says is true

China is doing poorly

Recently, China has published their trade figures and they don't look good. Exports have dropped, and it is China that has powered world trade and global growth. In fact, "During the 1990s China’s exports grew at an annual average of 12.9%; from 2000 to 2006 that growth nearly doubled to 21.1% each year." and now, suddenly, all of this growth has just stopped. The World Bank's expectations for China are much lower than hoped for while most analysts expect far worse with no growth in exports at all in 2009.

Furthermore, along with these terrible tidings, Chinese workers are growing restless with labor disputes rising rapidly and to make matters worse, an estimated 130 million have moved from the countrysides into the city looking for jobs at factories tha make exports.

Some were counting on China to prop up the world as many rich places fall into recession but with these statistics, that does not seem likely. The world's economy is doing worse and worse and with Obama not even in office yet, I can already tell he is going to have it rough. After all, the entire world is going under and a lot is expected from him. Honestly, what can he do really to help the world. I wish him the best of luck because honestly, he is going to need it.

Final Evil Gasp Of Bush

With Bush leaving office, it appears he is hastening to screw the country over in various ways. I was hoping that he was going to try and leave a positive mark in the end however, he is attempting to ruin the country with some last-minute regulations. Bush intends (or has done):
  • make it so that government scientists will not have to assess the impact on imperiled species before allowing logging, mining, drilling, highway building or other development and worse, prohibit federal agencies from taking climate change into account when weighing the impact of projects that increase greenhouse emissions
  • "In early December, the administration finalized a rule that allows the industry to dump waste from mountaintop mining into neighboring streams and valleys, a practice opposed by the governors of both Tennessee and Kentucky"
  • "has opened up nearly 2 million acres of mountainous lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for the mining of oil shale — an energy-intensive process that also drains precious water resources"
  • Allow "Circumventing the Clean Water Act, the administration has approved last-minute regulations that will allow animal waste from factory farms to seep, unmonitored, into America's waterways"

Anyway, there is a crapload of stuff (not listed here) that this man is doing to turn this nation into haven for business owners. He is ruining the environment, the poor, and AAARRGGG! This man is a natural disaster all by himself and I don't know but it seems like he is TRYING to be the worse president in the world. He is trying to make it some sort of utopia for businesses while the poor are forced to work in dangerous hostile environment. I mean, i can't even believe what he is doing I mean, never mind the recession, let's destroy the environment and make it hell for Obama. It could take freaking years to fix all this junk and I don't even know if Obama will have the time but it really is sad to see some much be destroyed in so little time.

New Russia-US treaty

With Obama coming into power, it seems that Russia wishes for a new treaty with nuclear weapons. The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is to expire in a year and Gen. Nikolai Makarov has presented a list of things that they wish to negotiate on. Russia wishes for the new treaty with the US to:
  • specify limits for all kinds of nuclear weapons
  • outline control and verification procedures
  • Guarantee that stockpiled nuclear warheads cannot be returned to combat duty quickly
Now, both parties have been wanting such talks so as to avoid blowing up the world however, recent events including the US missle defense plan and the Russia-Georgia war have obviously strained relations.

It's always good though, when these sorts of things happen though because under the current treaty (Treaty of Moscow ), the restrictions are to cut down to 1,700-2,200 warheads by 2012 which obviously, is still a crap-load of firepower. Ultimately though, I am still kind of worried given that no matter how many disarm, there are still going to be a lot of nukes and if a war does start, will both sides be willing to ban all nukes from being used? After all with statements like "The domination of one state, even the biggest, most powerful or most successful one, is unacceptable in any case", and given Russia recent actions (such as Georgia conflict), it seems like things could get volatile and if violence breaks out, the world will see whether or not these treaties mean anything because after all, the reason there are still nukes is become people think they might use them. Personally, I think that having even 50 or so nukes in the whole world is far too deadly so yeah, these treaties don't seem to do enough.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How Goes the Bailout

In the Daily Journal toady, I discovered that of the 700 billion dollars stimulus that was enacted on October 3, 335 billion dollars have already been spent. Here are the statistics

250 billion $ for capital infusions to banks (although government receives partial ownership stakes)
25 billion for Citigroup
40 billion dollars to help American International group
and 20$ billion went to the Federal Reserve

Originally Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's strategy was to buy rottent mortages and other bad debts to free up balance sheets and spur lending however, he chose to abandon this rescue strategy and lawmaker have blasted him for it. They claim that this shift in strategy is sending confusing signals to the public hurting confidence in the government's abilities.

Overall, this does not seem to be working. Half has already been used up and it doesn't seem to be making any significant differences. Jobs are still being slashed, companies are still filing bankrupcy and i don't know if this stimulus is really making a difference. It seems very likely that more needs to be done to stop this recession

Anti-Gay Vatican

This is just interesting and there really isn't much to argue about. It is bad, it's wrong and yeah, Gays shouldn't be punished for being gay.

Side comment though, a man decided to try to go around and not acknowledge marriage at all. Seems to have been mildly amusing for him what with the responses he got when he said "girlfriend" or "lifelong partner" instead of wife.

Venezuela, how is it going down there?

Now recently, i have talked about the falling oil prices harming the OPEC so i decided to find out how some of them are doing and found this about Venezuela. Hugo Chavez has been quite popular in this country for some time due to the oil prices and yet now, he seems to be taking the heat. Being a socialist leader, Chavez has depended on the poor for getting elected yet in a surprising turn of events, he has lost Petare, one of the biggest slums in Latin America.

"Mountains of trash are strewn along the dirt roads of the slum, a vast jumble of brick homes — or "ranchos" — clinging to hillsides. Some residents credit Chavez with bringing free health clinics staffed by Cuban doctors but others complain about rampant violent crime and potholes."

Regardless, Chavez continues to hold most of the country and something I found out was that there will be a vote this February on whether to do away with term limits which would allow him to stay president.

I for one am glad that Chavez is losing power because he has not done enough to help the poor. Poverty is still rampant and is at 28.5 which is an improvement from previous years but i believe it is more because of the originally high gas prices than anything else. Furthermore, he does not strike me as the nicest person. He seems a nasty person who crushes opposition such as when he detained a military general for protesting the motto of Venezuela ("socialism or death"). Furthermore, i am skeptical because this is going to be the second atttepmt to extend the term limit which seems more like a personal power grab than anything else. I hope that a better president is elected and that the country can improve as a whole without the need for oil.

Saving the Big Three

Congress just might be helping to save the Big Three after all.

Now, for those of you, like me, who probably do not fully understand the situation and why the Big Three are being hit so bad, i will mention several possible reasons why. First off, many foreign companies, in particular Japan, are doing better than US car companies and it may be because the Japanese haved a better structure and it may also be because of outsourcing. One commentor, z3m says that because of oursourcing, the big 3 ended moving factories away from the US and because of that, US workers were out of a job and out of money. Generally, when making something, companies hire workers in a area and because of that, the area does generally better due to jobs and such and because they moved out, workers were not hired, did not get money, could not buy things and thus, could not buy cars. In contrast, the Japanese have moved into the US and established factories and their workers buy those japanese cars. Leading to Japan faring better than the US. Another possible reason is that Japan has tougher circumstances and thus, have improved more than the US. As Dan M said, Japan has had tougher cirumstances to sell in the US since Japan has greater difficulty in procuring resources and thus, they have a much harder time. Therefore, the Japanese had to improve manufacturing techniques and cost management while the US companies have been generally lazy about such things. They have benefited from the US government too greatly and thus, these companies hare having difficulty surviving.

Anyway, should these companies be bailed out?

I don't really think it would be a good idea because these companies are failing for a reason. The government has done a lot to help these companies and generally, it seems like letting them live won't change anything. These companies would need to reformat themselves in order to survive and make themselves more "green" which at this time seems impossible. These companies are way behind in the times and it doesn't seem like they can survive on their own given the current market so it might be better to instead of paying huge amounts of American tax dollars to these foolishe companies, not help them and whatever survives will have a painful lesson to learn and not make it again. However, if these companies do fall, many people will be out of work although, i personally wonder if it would be better to simply give the money to the workers outright and cut the middle-man. Anyway, what does everyone think? Should these companies be bailed out and will they be able to survive?

Efficiency or Survival?

This is yesterday's news but I felt like I had to share it.

Remember all the debating on whether or not to bailout the auto industry? Well apparently they're almost done deciding what money will be given for the short-term. Being a slightly ignorant citizen, I thought the federal government wasn't going to help them because they should have a lot of money but have been wasting it. Besides, it's it part of the free market to let failing companies die; survival of the fittest and stuff like that.

Yet 3 of the big car companies are looking for money since the economy hasn't been looking too good. GM and Chrysler even said that they "may go under if the government refuses to help". I'm no connoisseur of cars, so the possibility of two less companies showing glamorous car ads every 5 minutes don't seem to bad (if you don't consider the people who would be losing jobs and the tv networks losing the ad money).

And of course one has to ask, "Where is this bail money going to come from?" Why, from some other program originally meant to help car fuel efficiency. How is giving bail money to supposedly failing car companies going to help fuel efficiency? There is some chuck of information I must be missing, because I can't see any correlation between saving the company and the proper investment in fuel efficiency.

True the short term relief and then long term work sounds like a good plan, similar to how the New Deal dealt with the Great Depression, but the way this has been colored to me is that it might not make it past the President's desk because this short term solution is going to begin yet another industry reconstruction with another federal agency or job to keep an eye on it.

Should it all actually work out as planned, Obama will be the ones drawing up the long-er term plans. It'll be interesting if that'll get any attention with the rest of the economy to take care of.


I just saw this. So much for coming close to bailing out the car companies. Guess who’s resisting? The Republican minority.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Canadian Fat People

This may not have a whole lot to do with the US directly, however, given how many obese people are in this country, it might be something to think about. Recently, Canada has declared that really fat people get to have an extra seat FOR FREE. People who are "functionally disabled by obesity" not get two seats for one fare and i cannot believe that this even happened. Like what, airlines have to accomate each individual now? Well, if fat people get an extra seat, what about tall people huh? what about them? I mean, shouldn't they get a longer seat or something? I find this to be a generally stupid decision because fat people should not be given given special benefits. i mean, its not like they're are retarded or something and can't help it and yet here people are accomadating the life choices of individuals making them more comfortable and giving them special privaleges. I certainly hope that such a law does not pass here in the US because the last thing we need to do to try and fix the obesity problems is give obese people special privaleges. Currently, roughly 60 percent of Americans are considered overweight and about a third of the US is obese so if they all gather, there could very well be changes just like the one in Canada. Anyway, what are your opinions on this topic? Should really really fat people get an extra seat for free?

What goes up must come down

It seems like yesterday when oil was off the charts and yet now, it seems to be plummetting ever farther down. December 2, oil prices fell down below 47$ and now, the OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ) is struggling to accomadate this fall and they may have to cut output for another year and may not even hit the bottom until 2010.

Overall though, it does not seems so bad that oil prices are falling especially considering many oil rich areas (Saudi Arabia, Russia) are not the nicest countries and it would make them less powerful politically with the lessened need for oil. Furthermore, it is a sign that people are resorting to public tranport and bikes to get where they need to go so that is good environmentally and makes people healthier too. I suppose this decrease in oil is in a way a silver lining to an otherwise horrible recession.

Marine Conservation In the Pacific

With his days as president coming to a close, George Bush has done something surprisingly un-Bush like. He's backed many drilling and mining projects has poorly regulated industrial pollution, and has done much to weaken the Endangered Species Act (grrr) ( Recently though, George Bush has been trying to grant national party status to a huge chunk of pristine ocean in the center of the Pacific.

The president has considered the possibility of increasing protection for up to 700,000 square miles of ocean (3 times texas) which would the Northern Mariana Islands and the Mariana Trench which harbors hundreds of exotic marine species.

For now, there is almost no fishing, mining or drilling in the central Pacific however, George bush has the power to prohibit any future attempts from doing harm to the region by most likely fishing for tuna and sharks there.

However, despite current public opinion in facor of such an act, the Northern Marianas House of Representatives voted against monument designation because of fears over future fishing restrictions.

I find this measure a very positive thing because so little of the ocean is protected. Even in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s largest protected areas, only 33 percent is closed to fishing while many maritime nations don't have any marine reserves at all. The oceans are getting hard, overfishing is running rampant and very little is actually being done. This could be a crucial first step to trying to preserve beautiful and mystifying oceans that we have and ultimately, assuming if this passes and remains in place, it could provide a wonderful place for future generations especially considering millions of creatures living there. I for one hope that this area becomes a national monument and that one day, i can go there and see the many currently endangered species still alive and well.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Are parking meters going to end the recession?

Wow... I didn't think parking meters were that important until I found this post (and read the comments). You'd think that the extra quarter in the parking meter was the difference between life and death. I guess the question to ask is, is it?

First of all, both the arguments on this blog are very superfluous (the one by Yglesias and the other expressed by commenters on the blog), and I would like to take a moment to gawk at that. First of all, for Yglesias, I seriously doubt that the increased rates on parking meters (which by the way, isn't going to be more then an extra 25-30 cents for an hour) are going to heavily impact people's decision to park in the city. This rate increase isn't going to cut down traffic in the city by a significant amount and it isn't going to reduce the effects of global warming. It is, however, and this was a very good point made by Yglesias, going to help to support public programs which otherwise might fail under economic stress. Other types of taxes are particularly difficult to raise in California, and a raise on the rates of parking meters is a much more simple and financially reasonable fund raising strategy in today's economy.
So, why is the other side so pissed off? Well thats probably because their argument is just as dramatically overplayed. Trust me, if people who are in the city enough to be burdened by the raise in parking costs (aka, the people who LIVE in the city), those people will do one of two things, either a) take public transportation or b) walk/ride a bike... Isn't it amazing? They solved their parking issue WITHOUT having to foreclose their house, eerie I know. My point is, the extra quarter is really only going to effect the people who live and park in the city every day, many of whom by the way already do one of those two things. Those people who don't are just going to have to deal with taking public transportation, and yes, its not as convenient as taking a car, but at least this way they don't have to pay for gas.

All that being said, I am in favor of an increase in parking rates, partly because I use public transportation in the city, but also because it isn't going to be as bad as people think. A little good might go a long way, might as well give it a shot.

EDIT: The title was something of a satire, I wasn't seriously asking if Parking Meters were going to end the recession...

Newspapers down for the count?

This article by Andrew Sullivan, despite being a bit on the lengthy side is definately worth the read.

I figure this one is a very relevant topic that everyone should understand, although, we tend not to really think about it. How many of you actually buy the newspaper? Not just glance at it your parents copy, but actually subscribe and read it? I know I don't. Why would I subscribe to something that I could get for free in a million different places on the web? Well thats exactly the kind of mentality that Andrew Sullivan is describing, and I don't even think the worse is yet to come for the newspaper industry. As more and more kids come into a world where the internet is the only thing they've ever known, where does the incentive come from then to start using newspapers? Not only do they cost money, but they're not easily shared long distances, and they take time. Literally, our news is now an instant away, from the moment when something happens to the millisecond later when the reporter yanks out his iPhone to get the latest under development, two clicks and anything you ever wanted to know about everything is there in front of you. You can't honestly expect the newspaper industry to compete with THAT can you?

Well they try anyway!

Personally, I think the newspaper industry has too many veterans with too many interests to go down without a fight, and as we turn away from paper printed news I think these companies will start making serious investments in advancing the world of blogging and online journalism. Although blogging is already a very significant part of the news industry already, it is entirely possible that blogging may become the new medium through which all of news-following America gets its information.

This in turn brings up a few questions however. There is still the issue of money, and not to mention, there is no guarantee that these newspaper companies will be able to survive in the wide world of blogging. It makes me wonder if within the next few years we will see more and more restrictions on the web as newspaper companies take a more digital approach. For example, if the New York Times became exclusively online, would we see bloggers start signing on under the name and charging fee's for their blogs? Its entirely possible, but that also brings me to my second point. Theres still no guarantee that this will give the newspaper industry the boost it needs to survive, people will still be reluctant to pay for the New York Times when they can get the same information for free somewhere else on the internet.


I was browsing around, when I found this article.

It's interesting but scary at the same time. College tuition has been on the rise for years. Tuition has been increasing faster than the average family income. More and more people are having trouble financing college, and they find themselves with huge debts in doing so. Soon enough, if nothing is done, college is going to become an institution for the rich. And, with the recession, colleges are having to raise tuition and fees.
I think that college is ridiculously expensive, especially compared to European countries, such as France. In France, tuition is about a couple hundred per year. The more expensive and private schools might get in the thousands. Of course, this is because French people are a bunch of socialists, and college is funded by the state. But, America really needs to reform its education system to make higher education more affordable and attainable. Our country is already behind when it comes to education.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shinseki to be appointed VA Secretary

Courtesy of The Atlantic.

This one I found very interesting.... If you're looking for change we can believe in, I think if nothing else this is it. With the winding down of the Iraq war, more and more of our troops, now veterans, will be coming home. Advances in medical technology have given us the ability to save more lives that in previous wars would have been casualties, however, the Iraq war is gaining a nasty reputation of sending home veterans who are disabled and unable to work. This is why I find it so amazing that two years ago Senator Obama made it one of his goals to provide better benefits for veterans. Besides being a damn good cause to fight for, politically speaking it was a strategy that in the end I think will work out very well for Obama. Although still in the backdrop, benefits for veterans is turning out to be a very important issue, an issue which NOBODY wants to be on the opposing side of. The fact that Obama has a two year head start, with a nice track record to back him up is definitely going to help his influence when working on VA health care policies. And while this will be a great success to tally onto Obama's presidency, on the more ideological side of things, I am pretty glad that we have a president who actually gives a damn about these sorts of things. I don't think that Obama chose this issue for the political capital to be gained, rather I think Obama is tackling this issue because he understands the needs of a post-war nation.

Well thats enough of my Pro-Obama liberal brainwarshing. As for the Shinseki pick, I cant honestly speak to how I feel about his experience or qualifications because I dont really know too much about him. Although I think it is fairly safe to assume that if Obama is appointing him to be VA secretary then he has probably agreed in advance to stay in line with Obama's campaign promises about VA health care reform. I guess that makes me feel at least a little bit comforted.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Catholic Bishops dish the scoop on level of involvement in Proposition 8

I found this article while browsing around.

Apparently the Catholic church is ready to come out and admit they had a bit more then a minor part in the Proposition 8 results. Oh yea, but its ok, its time to be friends again.

"We need to stop talking as if we are experts on the real motives of people with whom we have never even spoken. We need to stop hurling names like "bigot" and "pervert" at each other."

I've gotta say, I have been pretty disappointed with the total lack of restraint and respect for separation of church and state recently. It basically seems to me that right now, people look at it as a way to keep the STATE seperate from the church, but then at the same time, the church is allowed to step in whenever they should so please, hurl a couple million dollars and some million odd supporters at a piece of religious legislation and everyone walks off into the sunset holding hands?! That is my problem here, we DO NOT allow bad money into our presidential campaigns, we try not to let people bribe congress (though it happens anyway), and yet this is abso-freakin-lutely perfect?

$38 million dollars says you have some serious issues with the other side, and I dont care how you cut the cake, that money went to pushing a religiously funded idea into our state constitution.

Sorry for the soapbox, I am not trying to trample any person's religious beliefs, I just simply have a few qualms the government behind it.

Oslo-Convention on Cluster Munition

More than 100 countries have begun signing a treaty, which would ban cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are usually air dropped bombs that release a bunch of smaller sub munitions. The problem with them is that they don't always explode when they are dropped. Many kids have lost their limbs and lives from this inaccurate and terrible weapon. The worst part is that these bombs claim victims long after the end of the conflict. I don't see why countries would oppose the treaty, especially with the all modern technology that we have. Well, the US, China, and Russia didn't sign the treaty.

Here is Matthew Yglesias take on this.

Basically, the US opposes this treaty because cluster bombs are still a big part of our defense strategy and doesn't care about the future consequences these bombs may have. In all fairness, the US has been trying to use more accurate bombs, but there is still a small chance that it won't explode immediatly. And, these bombs are extremely difficult to clean up. Unfortunately, kids and farmers often mistake them for aluminum cans, and they can lose limbs or their lives. I just think that there has to be a better and more accurate alternative to cluster bombs.

Should DC become a state?

I was reading this post on Yglesias that discusses DC being admitted as the 51st state. Many people that live in Washington DC feel that they aren't being properly represented and are using the example of "taxation without representation" to express that. But, many problems arise from this. Republicans probably wouldn't want DC to become a state, since it is heavily democratic. Another area would have to be carved to serve as the capital and federal district. And, one star would have to be added to the flag, but how would we actually fit 51 stars?
I personally don't have a strong opinion about this. I wouldn't mind the two democratic senators, but it seems like a lot of work. We should probably be focusing on more significant things. Anyways, what do you guys think? Should DC become our 51st state?

"Dont expect big changes in foreign policy"

I chose this article because it has some relevance to discussions in class about Obama's cabinet and appointee choices, specifically those of Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. Courtesy of the New Republic, Editor John B. Judis wants to have a little quality time with AP Gov students.

Ok, we get it, it takes time to maneuver any kind of dramatic foreign policy changes. The fact that things need to stay somewhat consistent with our previous trends is somewhat of a given. And I do think that the fact Obama kept Gates reflects this fact. The decision to keep Gates on board doesn't necessarily mean that Obama is going to up and invade Iran. From a purely common sense point of view, the great benefit of keeping Gates on board is that now we dont have to waste a bunch of time moving in new leadership for the Iraq war. I'm sure a bunch of people, including myself, would rather see somebody in power who is familiar with the situation and the department behind it, and that has the wherewithal to get our troops out in a timely manner (whenever that happens to roll around). Does this mean that Obama is breaking his campaign promises? Well honestly I haven't paid close enough attention to the finer points of Obama's Iraq time table, but does this mean that Obama plans to stand around in Iraq for another two years while we look for somebody else to invade? I seriously doubt it.
Another interesting point that Judis brought up was that the merging of the Bush and Obama foreign policies wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. Specific examples he brought up were diplomatic relations between North Korea and Iran, as well as expanding our relationship with Russia. It seems interesting however, that Obama is given the heat when in actuality Bush seems to be moving towards a more moderate foreign policy. It will be interesting to see the finalized copy of foreign affairs that Bush leaves for Obama, and while im sure there are some interesting points of continuity between the two leaders, there are still gaping holes of policy differences that Obama will make changes upon coming his inauguration to the White House. His cabinet in particular, minus Robert Gates, definitely has a different ideological makeup than shrub's second term in office, and it will be interesting to see just how much of the United States foreign policy remains constant and how much of it is changed.

Should we start to downsize?

This post really caught my attention.

It seems that more and more analysts are pulling their attention away from the "global economic meltdown" terror fiasco, and spending more time identifying the underlying causes of the economic recession (AKA, who to blame). It is a unanimous decision that bad debt and large banks are "to blame" and people are out to get blood. The "to big to be allowed to exist" idea that Yglesias discusses in his blog goes something like this, we cut down big multinational banks in favor of banks that grow on the local scale. This way if a bank or two fails the entire country doesn't wet itself. Yglesias also points out that if we used a broader banking system involving small scale banks, we wouldn't necessarily have to regulate them as stringently because, according to him, the function of regulation is to ensure that the banks don't fail and they don't need to be bailed out.

Granted, Yglesias isn't saying that we NEED a banking system like this, he is merely pointing out a shift in opinion. However, I personally don't see any potential benefit from removing larger banks in favor of smaller ones. Furthermore, I think that if we did eventually end up with a smaller scale banking system, the need for regulation would be more so then today. Simply because the amount of faulty loans to homeowners could run rampant and unchecked at any moment. Among other things, I think that this would be an economic sidestep rather then a solution to the many many problems at hand. Sure, with a smaller banking system we wouldn't have to worry about putting our eggs in one basket so to speak, but we shouldn't forget that the people running those smaller banks could be just as careless as those responsible for the economic fiasco today, and we would be just a shy throw away from putting our eggs into a bunch of separately crappy baskets. (in which case the need for a bailout might be just as eminent)

In any case, I think the fact that we at least have some ideas floating around is a positive step towards economic reform even if this particular one wouldn't earn my vote.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

America helps Mexico

The American government just gave $197 million to aid Mexico in its war on drugs. America also donated helicopters and surveillance aircrafts. This is only the first part of the package;the US is supposed to give over $400 million to Mexico to control its gang and drug problems.
Drug-violence has been getting out of control and has been blamed for over 4,000 deaths in 2008. Drug dealers aren't very peaceful, and they actually are very well established in the community: Many of them work closely with Mexican officials, which is why none of the money is being given in cash ( the government is s.
So, why is the US giving money? Because it benefits us. About 90% of the cocaine found in the US has been smuggled through Mexico. Ever wonder why Tijuana is so dangerous? A more effective war on drugs in Mexico means that less drugs will be entering the states.
The US will also be giving money to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and Central America. In all, America will be giving away $1.3 billion over a three year period.

Bailout v2.crap

Im sorry, but all this media blah blah blah about the proposed bailout for the Big Three auto companies has clouded the entire situation for me to the point where the whole things seems like absolute hurricane of misinformation. It seems that just about every article or story I find about it has a completely different account of events.


It seems that every writer thus far has begun to notice one thing, the UAW (United Auto Workers) are starting to get very concerned about the future of their beloved industry, so much so that they are willing to allow the cutback of the "jobs bank" program.

Stephen Spruiell describes the UAW and auto industry approach to receiving a bailout.

First and foremost, I am decidedly very glad that the big three have finally started to cut some of these totally ridiculous programs. The "jobs bank" program was a total pit of money that basically paid laid-off workers to do absolutely nothing. What then is the incentive of that laid off worker to find another job? Well thats a good question, there really isn't one. On top of that the big three offer a health care till death program under which retired workers received health care from the company even after they are no longer employed. Im all for providing health benefits while a worker is employed at a company, but why should a company hold itself responsible for the health care costs of an employee long after they leave? Its hard to look at these programs and not gawk at the sheer fiscal irresponsibility of these companies, and these are the people we are going to bailout?


This bailout in my opinion is a total slap in the face to auto companies such as Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW that run american factories without falling over their own feet. Why should we reward people who make stupid moves with their money while overlooking those that keep the industry alive? I just dont think that GM, Ford and Chrysler are very deserving of the tax payer's money. I would rather see these companies go bankrupt and try to reorganize without the burden of irresponsible Union contracts that continue to siphon money away. (GM owes in excess of 9 billion dollars by spring '09 to fund their retiree pension alone).

The results however are yet to be seen, Chrysler and GM will appear before congress on thursday and friday to explain what they plan to do with all this bailout money.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sarah Palin is STILL popular....

ugh.....Sarah Palin showed up in Georgia to rally for Senator Chambliss, and people were still exited to see her. In fact, they think that she's a role model. This relatively unknown governor from Alaska quickly became popular amongst conservatives, but why? She's not particularly intelligent, and all she can do is make snappy comments. But maybe I'm just biased because I don't like hockey....I just really really really hope that people aren't serious when they say that they want her to run in 2012. Anyways here are a couple exerpts from an article that pretty sums up why people get so exited when she comes around. These are just a couple of my favorite lines:

Sarah Theus blew her perfect attendance record at Porter Elementary to go Monday to see Sarah Palin in Perry....

"Our candidate did not win the election but she won our hearts," said Sally Theus, Sarah's mother, who gave in to her daughter's begging to attend the rally....

"We wanted the girls to see a fine, upstanding, Christian woman with five kids and a good career," Tammy Hawkins said. "We just wanted them to see you can succeed."

....she echoed while nodding her head. "You betcha," she said to a roar of cheers.

...."conservative side of the so-called Republican party."....

"She's good," Morgan said softly and then added, "Cause she's pretty."...

"We like Palin because she's pro-life," said Kimberly, of Macon....

"She touched my finger. She touched my finger," Hailey said while jumping up and down.

The 9-year-old hunter hadn't been this excited since she killed her third wild hog over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Oh and Senator Chambliss did win. The democrats have 58 seats, and the Republicans have 41.

Politics in the time of Cholera

Since August, more than 500 people have been killed from a Cholera outbreak. Cholera is a disease that affects the intestines and causes vomiting and diarrhea. Most of the time, the infection is acute, but some people die from severe dehydration. People usually get cholera through contaminated water. In the United States, and many other developed countries, cholera is not an issue because our water sanitation system is impeccable.
Zimbabwe's health and sanitation system has failed, aiding the spread of the disease. It also doesn't help that the economy is bad, and the government is corrupt. Many parts of the capital, Harare, don't even have access to clean water. There is sewage in the streets,which puts many kids at risk, since they play in the streets. Hospital supplies are quickly running out, and many hospitals and small clinics are closing because they are overwhelmed. The disease is quickly spreading with new cases being reported in Mozambique, Botswana, and South Africa.
The country is deteriorating. President Mugabe has tried (unsuccessfully) to hide the gravity of the situation. He is refusing to declare the spread of cholera a national crisis. David Parirenyatwa, the health minister, suggested that people stop shaking hands to stop the spread of the disease. It is not suprising that Zimbabweans distrust their government. Their rights are being denied and violated. They are being silenced. The situation in Zimbabwe won't get better until Mugabe is thrown out, but his coalition is quite strong. A 23 year-old woman was abused and raped because she supported the Movement for Democratic Change (Mugabe's opposition). The situation in Zimbabwe is not getting better, and something needs to be done about it. The people aare poor, sick, and suffering, mostly because of their government. Mugabe went too far, and I think that more international pressure should be put on him. Nothing is going to get better if he is still in office.

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day

Today marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS day. Every year a theme is chosen, and this year's theme is "Lead-Empower-Deliver." We need strong leadership to help stop this pandemic. We need political leaders who take a strong stance on HIV/AIDS prevention, but we also need strong leaders within our communities who are willing to act and educate others about AIDS. Of course, it means that we must go beyond talking and actually keeping our promises.
Without strong leadership and actions being taken, it is unlikely that universal access to AIDS prevention programs, treatment, and support will be met by 2010. It would be wonderful if that goal was met by 2010. The antiretroviral medication is extremely expensive, and in 2007, only 31% of underprivileged people had access to treatment. Education is also very important. People are still misinformed and still have many misconceptions. Many Africans continue to believe that having sex with a virgin will cure them of the disease (crazy....I know). Starting in 2015, UNAIDS also hopes the reverse the epidemic. This all seems wonderful, a little bit too optimistic at the same time. I don't think that out main focus is on HIV/AIDS right now; I think that, currently, our economy, terrorism, and war are given the most attention, because those are the issues that concern us the most. Sadly, we do tend to be selfish.

Here are a few statistics:
  • 30-36 million people living with HIV/AIDS in 2007
  • 14-17 million women living with HIV/AIDS
  • 2 million children living with HIV/AIDS
  • 20 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa living with HIV/AIDS
  • Approx. 11 million AIDS orphans living in Africa
  • Approx. 25 million AIDS deaths since 1981
  • 50% of new infections are amongst people under 25
"Stop AIDS. Keep the promise"

It's official....

Hillary Clinton will be our new secretary of state. Hopefully things will run a lot more smoothly now that they are not campaigning against each other. Obama also announced that Robert Gates would remain Defense Secretary. The retired general James Jones was named National Security Advisor, and Eric Holder will be our new attorney general. Arizona governor Janet Napolitano will be our secretary of homeland security. The embassador to the U.N will be Susan Rice, Obama's long time advisor.Some argue that these apointments are dissapointing, since they don't offer much change.
The main concern is wether or not this team will be able to agree. For instance, Hillary Clinton is a strong supporter of Israel and has openly criticized Iran. She probably has reservations about engaging in direct discussions with Iran. Is this going to limit the direct diplomacy that Obama has campaigned for?
What do you think about Obama's appointments? What can we expect from them?

Remembering Harvey Milk

In 1977, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man to serve in a United States public office when he was elected to the board of supervisors for the city of San Fransisco. Since then, even following his death in 1978, Harvey Milk has remained an inspiration to many groups of oppressed peoples.

For this reason, director Gus Van Sant decided to make a movie depicting the heroic life of Harvey Milk and his inspiring story. Dispite the fact that Milk is not yet out in all theaters people are speculating that this powerful retelling of the life of Harvey Milk has the potential to drive an entire generation towards more social and civil liberties.

In fact, many have begun to notice that the coincidental timing of the movie is almost eerie. The main scope of the movie took place during the battle over Proposition 6, the proposed ban on homosexual teachers and any teachers who supported their homosexual coworkers. In comparison to 2008, history seemed to repeat itself as the civil liberties of a minority group were challenged once again, this time by the ominous Proposition 8. In this time of challenge, many people have taken the time to reflect on the lives of those who fought this same battle only 30 years ago. I think we all should.