Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks For The Mother Of Thanksgiving

When Americans observe the traditional Thanksgiving Day holiday this year, they will think of Pilgrims, Native Americans, football games, turkey, pie, travel, family and the traditional Thanksgiving Day Parade.

However, few people know that the Thanksgiving Day Holiday in America was also an attempt to abolish slavery and to prevent the American Civil War. The day is a reminder of a story of a remarkable women with an intelligence and foresight far ahead of her time.

"The Lady Editor," as Sarah Hale was affectionately called, advocated a national celebration of Thanksgiving as early as 1827. "We have too few holidays. Thanksgiving like the Fourth of July should be considered a national festival and observed by all our people" she wrote in her first book, a novel titled Northwood.

An idea that she often promoted was a letter writing campaign to churches asking them to raise money on a special day of thanksgiving to buy freedom for the slaves. She felt confidant that if she could even just get a day of thanksgiving to be recognized, "that the reflection alone would go a long way in ending this terrible institution".

To Sarah Hale, Thanksgiving would be a holiday of national contemplation. "There is a deep moral influence in these periodical seasons of rejoicing, in which whole communities participate. They bring out . . . the best sympathies in our natures."

Hale saw this spiritual dimension of Thanksgiving as a means for preventing the insanity of civil war in America. This is why, as hostilities heated up between North and South, she bombarded both national and state officials with requests for the national holiday.

She wrote in an 1859 editorial, "If every state would join in Union, Thanksgiving on the 24th of this month, would it not be a renewed pledge of love and loyalty to the Constitution of the United States?"

Of course, Sarah Hale was unable to avert those saddest years of American history. Still, By 1863 when Lincoln issued his now famous Thanksgiving Proclamation, Sarah Hale had penned literally thousands of letters requesting Thanksgiving Day in her own hand.

Finally, On October 3, 1863, by Presidential Order, Lincoln fulfilled Sarah Hale’s lifelong plea to have a “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival".

Sarah Josepha Hale was a writer, editor and a single mom. She is often referred to as the "Mother of Thanksgiving". There should be room at every table to honor her memory when giving thanks for what many of us consider to be our best national holiday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Case Of Injustice For Compean And Ramos

The Associated Press is reporting that President George W. Bush has granted pardons to 14 individuals and commuted the prison sentences of two others convicted of misdeeds ranging from drug offenses to tax evasion, from wildlife violations to bank embezzlement.

The crimes committed by those on the pardon list also include dubious offenses involving hazardous waste, food stamps, and the theft of government property.

Meanwhile, as fourteen people are granted pardons by the president, border patrol agents, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos sit in solitary confinement, in a medium security federal prision serving time for just trying to do their difficult jobs in securing the United States border with Mexico.

The fact is that Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are currently serving terms of 11 and 12 years respectively on their outrageous convictions for shooting an illegal alien drug smuggler.

The agents were guarding the United States border near El Paso, Texas on February 17, 2005. Checking on a tripped sensor near the river, Border Agent Compean discovered footprints and drag marks, a tip-off that a load of drugs has just been smuggled across the river. Spotting a vehicle leaving the scene, Compean radioed the vehicle's description to agents covering the road ahead.

Realizing he's been spotted, the smuggler turned around and headed back toward Compean. When the smuggler bailed out of his van to make a run for the river, he failed to obey Compean's numerous commands to stop. After a brief physical struggle with the Agent, the smuggler began running toward the river again.

When the smuggler turned around and pointed something shiny at Compean, the agent believing his life was in danger opened fire. Agent Ramos, hearing gunshots, came to Compean's aid. He, too, shouted for the smuggler to stop, but the man once again turned around and pointed at Ramos. Ramos fired one shot at the smuggler.

He appeared to miss, and his target turned and disappeared into the bank of the Rio Grande. Later it was discovered that the drug smuggler was wounded in the buttock by the shot. The Border Patrol agents returned to the suspicious van and looked inside at almost 800 lbs. of marijuana, worth about $1 million on the street, in the cabin.

U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton would later decide that the illegal alien drug smuggler was the real victim in the case and he filed attempted murder charges against the two border agents. He never brought charges against the drug smuggler. Instead, Sutton granted the known illegal alien drug smuggler immunity and a temporary visa in his effort to prosecute the two agents.

On March 8, 2006, a federal jury convicted the two agents of assault with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and civil rights violations.

However, that jury verdict was in question as well. According to the National Border Patrol Council, "Three of the 12 jurors later submitted sworn affidavits alleging that they had been misled into believing that there could be no dissent in the decision of the jury, and that the minority would have to accede to the will of the majority. Despite this cloud over the propriety of the process, the judge refused to overturn the verdict."

On appeal, the 5th Circuit Appeals Court upheld a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentences for “discharging a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.” This law, known as Section 924(c) of the U.S. Code, has always been interpreted to apply to criminals, not law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties.

The cases of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are now before the DOJ’s Pardon Attorney Donald Rodgers, who works in consultation with the attorney general’s office to assist the president. The president has sole power of clemency in federal cases under the Constitution, and will make the decision, no matter what the Office of Pardon Attorney recommends.

As for the alleged victim in this case, illegal alien and drug smuggler, Aldrete-Davila. Well, he pleaded guilty last May in federal court to multiple drug charges. All were crimes that occurred after the above episode, and thus are not covered by the immunity agreement. Aldrete-Davila was charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, one count of conspiracy to import a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

This case of injustice for Compean and Ramos has gone on long enough. These two border patrol agents need to be pardoned by President Bush. They are the real victims in a case that compromises the integrity of United States Homeland Security as well as the American Legal system.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Citi Never Sleeps In Making Bad Loans

The monetary estimate of bad decisions on Citibank's balance sheet is indeed staggering. The bank that advertises itself as the financial firm that never sleeps, certainly must have worked around the clock to accumulate nearly 3 trillion dollars of bad assets.

Of course, the underlying problem at Citi was greed without any apparent understanding of risk. The problem was summed up in the following quote from a recent New York Times article.

"Many Citigroup insider's say the bank's risk managers never investigated deeply enough. Because of longstanding ties that clouded their judgement, the very people charged with overseeing deal makers, eager to increase short term earnings and executives multi million dollar bonuses failed to rein them in, these insiders say. While much of the damage inflicted on Citibank and the broader economy was caused by errant, high octane trading, and lax oversight, critics say, blame also reaches to the highest level of the bank."

The problems at Citibank were common at many other major financial institutions as well. The truth is that the Fed, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision were all negligent in not doing their job of financial oversight.

Meanwhile, the ratings agencies added to the problem and gave all these bad mortgage loans their highest (AAA) rating. It may be a result of corruption or just plain incompetence. Some rating agencies may have even assumed that the national average house price would not decline.

In fact, Citibank has a long history of making bad mortgage loans. In the early 1990s the company nearly went under thanks to taking on lots of real estate risk in the wrong markets. Last week, the firm was on the brink of the financial abyss once again.

After Citi's shares plummeted 60% amid mounting concerns about its viability, the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp moved to save the firm. The terms of the bailout provided protection against the possibility of "unusually large losses" on an asset pool of approximately $306 billion of loans and securities backed by residential and commercial real estate, which will remain on Citigroup's balance sheet.

The Treasury will also inject another $20 billion in capital into Citigroup through the Troubled Asset Relief Program, receiving preferring stock that will yield 8%. Under the terms of the deal, Citigroup will absorb up to $29 billion in losses on the $306 billion portfolio of risky property-related assets; the government will eat 90% of any further losses, with Citigroup shouldering 10%.

The Citi never sleeps in making bad loans and it is apparent that they were not alone. Unfortunately, the American taxpayer will now pay a very steep price. In Sweden, the total bailout cost to solve a similar problem was twenty percent of GDP. That makes the 700 billion dollar taxpayer funded bailout bill passed by the United States Congress, a quarter of what will eventually be needed for our national financial repair.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Decade Of Building A Station In Space

Ten years ago, on Nov. 20, 1998, the first part of the International Space Station was launched by the Russians from Kazakhstan.

Two weeks later, the next piece of the Space Station was carried up by a NASA space shuttle. Astronauts and cosmonauts would move in two years later and the ISS has grown in size and accommodations since.

In fact, over the last decade, the International Space Station has traveled 1.3 billion miles, and orbited Earth more than 57,300 times. To date, it's taken 80 rocket launchings to construct and staff the space station.

One hundred sixty-seven individuals representing 14 countries have visited the complex. Crews have eaten some 19,000 meals aboard the station since the year 2000. Through the course of 114 spacewalks and the use of robotic construction in space, the station's truss structure has grown to 291 feet long. Its solar arrays now span to 28,800 square feet, large enough to cover six basketball courts.

After the Shuttle Endeavor completes its current mission, the space station will have five sleep stations, two baths, two kitchens and two mini-gyms. There will be nine rooms in total, three of them full-scale labs. The station's human capacity will double from 3 people at a time to six. Three-quarters complete, the total mass of the ISS will soon be 627,000 pounds. NASA says it's about the size of a five-bedroom house.

The Endeavour Shuttle linked to the space station sailed past its 10-year anniversary at 1:40 a.m. EST while the astronauts slept. Mission Control marked the occasion by showing video of the first rocket's launch in 1998.

So, today marks a decade of construction of an international station in space. Its a true engineering marvel and a example of what is possible by combining global cooperation, with human courage and space science.

For More On the ISS Read: Tracking The Progress Of The International Space Station and The Walk That Saved The International Space Station on eworldvu

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Way To Help The Big 3 Automakers

All three CEO's of the nations major automakers, Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler just flew into the nations capital in their luxury corporate jets to speak to Congress about getting a 25 billion dollar slice of the taxpayer bailout pie.

The automakers arrived in Washington after spending millions on a coast to coast advertising campaign that warned of the impending disaster to the economy if the Congress did not come through and help them with a loan.

The truth is that if the Congress does grant the automakers any type of bailout, they will not have not helped their dire situation in the long run.

Instead, Congress and the taxpayer will have become a a short term enabler to the three largest car makers in the domestic automobile industry. There is a distinction here that is crucial.

Helping is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves. Enabling is doing for someone things that they could, and should be doing themselves.

Detroit created its own problems by relying too much on trucks and SUVs. They have not built the fuel efficient cars that Americans need and want. Meanwhile, the unit cost structure of the Big 3 automakers remains far to high and it is simply not competitive in the global marketplace.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) have to accept cuts in pay and benefits. Then, the automakers need to make the fuel efficient cars at a competitive price that the country wants. Their current business model does not work, so all current management needs to be fired by their boards.

Taxpayer dollars invested in this industry in its current form is a bad investment. Congressional enabling of the automobile industry with a loan or bailout will not solve their problem but only postpone their day of reckoning while costing the taxpayer billions in the process.

Congress can help the automobile industry by sending a clear message of no taxpayer bailout. Those begging CEO's should head back to Detroit and begin to do their jobs.

Getting rid of the luxury airplanes and the rest of their executive perks would be a very good place to start.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bailing Out Of This Government Bailout

It is hard to believe that the United States Congress has given the Treasury Secretary control over trillions dollars of taxpayer money without any current oversight.

Henry Paulson controls assets equal to the 19th largest global economy and he is not even an elected official.

Of course when the Treasury Asset Relief Program (TARP) was passed, oversight that taxpayer's money would be spent wisely was a Congressional assurance given to a skeptical public.

So is the money being spent wisely? Nobody really knows, but Bloomberg News is at least trying to find out. They have requested details of Federal Reserve lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit on Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure. Give Bloomberg News credit, they are doing actual journalism in the real world.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the media. MSNBC, is currently running promos that say: "Barack Obama, America's 44th president. Watch as a leader renews America's promise." People Magazine 's Cover "The Obamas' New Life!" will not win any Pulitzer for investigative journalism either. U.S. Weekly goes with a new Obama quote for its latest edition: "I Think I'm a Pretty Cool Dad." Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune opines that Michelle Obama "is poised to be the new Oprah and the next Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis combined!" for the fashion world.

So, 350 billion of taxpayer's money has already been spent and nobody knows where it went and only Bloomberg News really cares enough to find out under the Freedom Of Information Act. The New York Post calls all the current Presidential media hype and attention, "BamALot" and if it continues, it is going to cost the average American taxpayer "QuiteALot".

Now, consider that the need for the remainder of the bailout bill was brought into question last week. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson changed direction on the need for the money. He announced that the government would not use any of the $700 billion to buy toxic mortgages and other bad assets from banks. That had been the centerpiece of the bailout plan when Paulson and Bernanke first pitched it to lawmakers two months ago.

Meanwhile, CNBC, has been keeping a running tally of the total amount of spending the federal government is doing due to this financial crisis as well as all its other bail out commitments. The amount as of November 13, 2008 is reported to be $4.28 trillion dollars. About sixty eight percent of the sum falls under the Federal Reserve's umbrella, while the another 16 percent is under TARP, as defined under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, signed into law in early October.

As a result of the lack of transparency and the staggering dollar amount, Senators, James Imhofe and Bernie Sanders, now plan to introduced legislation to bailout Congress from the 350 billion dollars that remains to be spent on TARP.

The truth is that the entire regulatory regime of the US financial community will require the largest overhaul since the Great Depression. Many regulations that have been repealed need to be put back into place.

However, since so many new financial instruments have been developed, the whole system is in need of review. This should include the Fed, Treasury, SEC, FDIC, the GSEs, and the governmental housing agencies (GNMA, the FHA).

In the meantime, bailing the taxpayer out of this government bailout has become a priority for everyone before all the money is gone and nobody knows what happened, except for a few insiders in the beltway in Washington, D.C.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Record Warm October Leaves NASA In The Cold

Until late last year global warming proponents pointed out that temperature records showed that 1998 was the hottest year ever recorded in the United States.

In fact, Several of the years surrounding 1998 were also very warm and near the record as well. It certainly appeared that the climate was progressively warming when reviewing the historical record.

That was before a Canadian blogger named Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit set the NASA temperature record straight. Mcintyre audited the actual records and found substantial errors. When he reported his findings to NASA scientists, they conducted a review that showed he was indeed correct.

This led NASA to revise the data published on its website. The errors changed the historical facts concerning the global warming argument. The hottest year in the United States was no longer 1998, but 1934. 2001 was no longer even listed in the Top Ten. Instead, four of the top ten hottest years were back the 1930s.

One year later, the problem of inaccurate data providing dubious global warming conclusions has embarrassed NASA once again. Last Monday, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This NASA claim was hard to understand since in the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had already ranked October temperatures as the 70th-warmest October in the last 114 years. Once again GISS data was examined by Steve Mcintyre at "Climate Audit" and another blogger Anthony Watts from the website "Watts Up With That".

As a result of the data review, GISS was again revising information published on its website. Data analysis revealed that Russia was recorded as unusually warm. The reason for all that October warmth was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not actually based on October readings at all. Figures from September had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

A GISS spokesman explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from NOAA and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with.

Global temperature published by GISS are one of the four data sets that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming. The truth is that GISS consistently shows higher temperatures than any of the others.

The fact is that it was not a record warm October and the planet has been cooling for the last few years. Unfortunately, for the second straight year, NASA is embarrassed by a lack of quality control at GISS. The basis of science is making sure that the evidence is accurate before any conclusion is made.

So, a lack of quality control over data is a sad excuse. The real truth is that a record warm October was an erroneous conclusion based on inaccurate information. It has left NASA's credibility on global climate change out in the cold, for the second year in row.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Legend Of The Buddha Boy From Nepal

His legend continues to grow with tales of his clothes spontaneously combusting and his body being impervious to poisonous snakebites.

His followers say that can he live without food or water for days while in deep meditation under a banyan tree.

This mysterious teen aged boy gained international fame in 2005 by sitting cross-legged under a tree in a dense forest for nearly ten months, reportedly without food and water.

The story of Ram Bahadur Bamjan nicknamed the "Buddha Boy" has gained popularity because it closely resembled a Buddhist legend about Gautama Buddha's enlightenment. In fact, some devotees have claimed Ram is the reincarnation of the Buddha.

Buddhists strongly believe in reincarnation, the doctrine that every soul reappears after death in another bodily form. Still, Buddhist priests have been divided on whether this boy is truly the reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in southwestern Nepal around 500 B.C. and later became revered as the Buddha, which means Enlightened One.

However, Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Indian Rationalist Association (IRA) doesn't see much of the Buddha in this boy. Sanal has been quoted as follows; "This is a typical case of fraud. The boy must be simply eating and drinking at night. The claim that he was fasting for six months cannot be taken seriously, unless a fraud-proof blood test confirms that there is no glucose in his blood".

Recently, three physicians visited the area on behalf of the IRA and approached the boy's guardians asking for permission to take a blood sample from him. They were denied access to him. The physicians were threatened with dire consequences if they did not leave the area immediately.

The meditation place has been cordoned off, and nobody except Bamjan's supporters are allowed to come closer than 50 meters to him. His supporters claim that the Buddha Boy's meditation is holy and he cannot be disturbed at any cost.

In fact, no outsider has had an opportunity to talk to the boy. Even police officers, who had tried to interrogate all parties in order to find out what is going on, have had to leave without achieving their goal.

So, the legend of the Buddha Boy continues to grow but skeptics abound and enlightenment is slow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Collective Intelligence Knows About Us

The knowledge obtained by our use of the computer network is a powerful tool. Trillions of key clicks from the daily decisions of millions of people in the course of their everyday lives, builds a bank of data that can be analyzed and tracked.

This bank of information is often called collective intelligence. In fact, harnessing this intelligence through analyses of patterns and correlations is enabling more accurate predictions about our preferences and behaviors.

Human decisions involved in using a computer like purchases and keyword searches are the kinds of activities that can be stored and in aggregate analyzed for knowledge. If you are a user of or use Google Zeitgeist you probably already know what this means. examines patterns of retail behavior using hundreds of variables to recommend future purchases for us to consider. All future purchases are based on buyer behavior involved in previous purchase decisions. Meanwhile, Google Zeitgeist uses collective intelligence to graph search terms used throughout the year to track what topics mattered most to people.

Thomas Malone (Center for Collective Intelligence- MIT) thinks opportunities exist in “prediction markets,” where humans, with the computational help of computers, predict things with greater accuracy than single experts, in many different areas, from electoral politics to medical diagnostics.

Recently, Google announced that it will launch a new tool that will help federal officials "track sickness". Its called "Flu Trends" and it uses search terms that people put into Google. The geographic location of these searches will be used to predict where influenza is heating up, and Google will notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in real time.

Engineers will capture keywords and phrases related to the flu, including thermometer, flu symptoms, muscle aches, chest congestion and others. The information will be used to predict flu outbreaks more than one week ahead of time.

So what does collective intelligence now know about us? In the next few months, it can recommend a book that we will surely want to read as we receive our emergency inoculation to avoid that serious flu outbreak predicted to afflict our neighborhood in the next week.

Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive vows: "From a technological perspective, it is the beginning." Indeed, lets just hope that collective intelligence doesn't mean that our own individual privacy will become compromised in the end.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Veterans Day Reminder From The Drawings Of Auschwitz

A few days ago, a German Daily newspaper called Bild obtained drawings of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp layout, including gas chambers. The paper placed several images on its website and in its daily publication.

The newspaper said twenty eight yellowing documents, drawn by a concentration camp prisoner and dated 1941-43, were a sensational new historic discovery found in a Berlin apartment that was being cleared out.

In addition, Hans-Dieter Kreilkam, the director of the German Federal Archive, told reporters he thought the material was new and that it provided additional proof of the chronology of the "Final Solution."

However, historian Robert Jan van Pelt, an expert on Auschwitz, said he had checked the "so-called 'new' material" on the Web site of Bild, and found that "the drawings that are on their site are all old material, perfectly known" and published by himself and others in the 1990s.

The importance of these Nazi Death Camp Plans at Auschwitz is not whether its new material or old. It really does not matter if its an original or a copy. The truth is that everyone should understand the horror of what happened in Nazi Germany more than six decades ago.

There is no need for any additional historical verification. No, the real importance of these documents is the knowledge that they exist and a reminder of the horror of fascism and tyranny that our veterans have fought against on the military battlefield throughout the years.

This year's Presidential Veterans Day Proclamation states it best: "From the fields and forests of war-torn Europe to the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, brave patriots have protected our Nation's ideals, rescued millions from tyranny, and helped spread freedom around the globe".

"America's veterans answered the call when asked to protect our Nation from some of the most brutal and ruthless tyrants, terrorists, and militaries the world has ever known. They stood tall in the face of grave danger and enabled our Nation to become the greatest force for freedom in human history. Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard have answered a high calling to serve and have helped secure America at every turn".

Unfortunately, many members of the military have never return home. In World War 2 an estimated 406000 made the ultimate sacrifice with another 600,000 wounded in battle. An estimated 112000 Americans died in World War 1. 33000 Americans would die in Korea while 58000 never returned home from Vietnam.

Those drawings from Auschwitz are an historical testament to the horror of fascism and tyranny. They act as a vivid reminder of the sacrifice of the brave men and women of the American military. Indeed, it's the reason the country honors its veterans on the eleventh day of November each year.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A World Of Mismanagement And Corruption At The U.N.

The United Nations internal Task Force investigating procurement will come to an end on December 31, 2008 due to a lack of funding.

In the strange world of the U.N., the elimination of an internal task force is the best evidence of its effectiveness. In fact, in just the last three years, the U.N. Procurement Task Force, has uncovered 630 billion dollars worth of contracts tainted by fraud, corruption or mismanagement.

In addition, the Task Force is still investigating 150 cases of which one third involve fraud and corruption. These cases will never be completed before December 31, 2008, but may represent another billion dollars in suspect contracts.

The Procurement Task Force headed by former U.S. federal prosecutor Robert Appleton and staffed with eighteen legal professionals plan to focus on only eight more cases before the task force ends its investigations by the start of the new year.

Still, it was just two weeks ago, that the Task Force announced that it had uncovered five more cases of fraud and mismanagement. These new cases total 20 million dollars of U.N. contracts according to the unit's annual report to the U.N. General Assembly. These recent cases involve air charter services in the Congo, office supplies in Kenya, consulting jobs in Greece, and payroll services in New York.

Last year, the Procurement Task Force issued a series of reports that highlighted the fact that corruption had spread from United Nations headquarters to its peacekeeping efforts. It identified ten significant instances of fraud and corruption with an aggregate value of 610 million dollars. The task force also cast a spotlight on United Nations officials that were allowed to carry out criminal schemes in one U.N. mission after another.

These Task Force findings confirmed comments made by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker in 2006 about the findings of mismanagement and corruption in the United Nations corrupt oil for food program. Volker said at the time that the United Nations suffered from a "culture of inaction".

Of course, rampant fraud and corruption is nothing new for United Nations peacekeeping missions. In the early 1990's corruption was widespread in Cambodia, Somalia and the Balkans. The Procurement Task Force focused it most recent peacekeeping corruption allegations on Haiti and the Congo.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon reportedly has begun a campaign to lead the U.N. for a second term. It may have been the reason that his communications director recently told reporters that United States President elect Barack Obama "is a U.N. person."

The history of the United Nations shows it to be a dubious world of mismanagement, fraud and corruption. A lack of oversight is where much of the problem begins. If Barack Obama is really a "U.N. person" then he should withhold American dues until more U.N. reform and oversight begins.

Indeed, if Barack Obama wants to deal with the current U.N. he should at least insist on somebody with the proper experience to lead it. There is only one clear choice to run this corrupt bureaucracy. Tony Soprano for Secretary General is the appropriate choice for the U.N. in its current form.

Also Read : No United States Dues For The United Nations on

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Man-Made Global Warming's Defeat At The Polls

In June, an Ipsos MORI poll, found that 60 percent of British citizens remained skeptical that humans are contributing to climate change." In addition, a further 40 percent said that "I sometimes think climate change might not be as bad as people say."

According to a recent survey from ABC News, Planet Green and Stanford University, fewer than half (47 percent) of Americans consider global warming an important issue to them personally. The percentage had dropped from 52 percent in April 2007. The survey also showed that only 30 percent of ABC News respondents said they trust what scientists have to say about the environment "completely" or "a lot."

The media is not widely reporting it, but the public's increasing man-made global warming skepticism was in evidence at the polling booth in California on election day. Two green initiatives went down in overwhelming defeat.

Proposition Seven would have required utilities to generate 40 percent of their power from renewable energy by 2020 and 50 percent by 2025. It lost by a huge margin - 65% to 35%.
Proposition Ten would have created $5 billion in general obligation bonds to help consumers and others purchase certain high fuel economy or alternative fuel vehicles, and to fund research into alternative fuel technology. It went down to defeat by a total margin of 60% to 40%.

Martin Durkin, the producer of the documentary: "The Great Global Warming Swindle" has said of the proponents of environmentalism:

"It is transparently obvious that they sit squarely in the tradition of Romanticism. Like the romantics, they hate industry, love nature, idealise peasant life, they think capitalism is wicked, they think people in modern society lead depraved shallow lives and have forgotten the true value of things, they don’t like cars or supermarkets or lots of proles taking cheap long-haul holidays."

Of course, it isn't just romanticism or idealistic lifestyle that drives the climate change agenda. It is also a huge global business with an insatiable appetite for green, as in the color of money. The fact is that more than 50 billion dollars spent on research throughout the last decade has still not produced any evidence that global warming is man-made.

Still, romanticism and big business have nothing to do with evidence and actual science. As the climate cools, the voting public is becoming increasingly skeptical of all the dire global warming claims. This weeks defeat of Proposition 7 and Proposition 10 at the polls in California is only a preview of things to come.

Also Read: Man-Made Global Warming Left Out In The Cold on

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The End Of The Campaign Of John McCain

There were many excuses for the Republican Electoral College debacle last night. It was not very close and it had not been for two months.

In fact, all the public opinion polls were very consistent. There was only one day after the conventions when a single poll indicated John McCain was ahead in the 2008 Presidential campaign .

The excuses for the McCain defeat are many. He was outspent by Barack Obama four to one and he had the unpopular Geoge Bush to run away from. As a result, there never was a blue state from the last election in play and his attempt to defend every red state in a Democratic year was not going to win the day.

Certainly, the timing of the current economic mess did not help his cause. In addition, a recent Pew Research study reported negative media coverage of McCain's campaign outpaced his opponent nearly three to one.

So, it can be argued that these obstacles were the reason for his lopsided defeat. There is no doubt they were a contributing factor but the loss in this election is really due to the candidate and his dubious campaign.

Remember that John McCain won his Party's nomination months before Barack Obama did. However, despite a Republican advantage of months of political time, the Obama campaign was better financed, better organized, and had more paid staff in all the battleground states on Election day.

Consider that McCain's response to the economic crisis in September was incoherent. He first said that the fundamentals of the economy were sound. Next, he suspended his campaign for several days to return to Washington because of the economic crisis. He would participate in the first debate after restarting his campaign, without any explanation behind these actions. It made him look erratic and indecisive in the economic crisis.

McCain's advanced age was always an issue for voters. His energy and campaign schedule were very light especially early in the campaign. Meanwhile, the inexperience of Sarah Palin did not provide comfort for voters, since in a McCain Presidency, she would be only a heartbeat away from becoming Commander and Chief.

Overall, the McCain campaign message was muted and subject to change. A campaign of experience would become a campaign of change. Until Joe The Plumber, McCain could not even explain how his tax policy was different from that of the Obama campaign.

Indeed, it was striking how Barack Obama stayed true to his message while John McCain's campaign was unfocused. A thirty year insider and Senator, running as a maverick, on a theme of change, would prove to be to difficult to sell to many 2008 voters.

In his gracious speech last night, John McCain said that the "failure is mine." His lasting legacy will be as a war hero, Senator and as a losing Presidential candidate that in his concession speech did not lie.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Election Day 2008 Prediction In Rhyme

Election Day 2008 is finally here.
An end to the campaign of change and hope is now near.
Its also the end of debates, polls, rallys and smear.
Voting today will elect a man who will serve for four years.

It can't end soon enough since I am trying to avoid all those media ads that we constantly hear.
So, who will be the choice when all the votes are counted and the final Electoral College tally appears?
It seems that this is a big Democratic year. Increasing seats in Congress will make the Dems grin from ear to ear.

Raising income taxes never did bring voter fear.
So, high voter turnout will leave republicans in the rear.
We think the choice will make the media cheer, since Barack Obama will be the President Elect next year.
"Mac is back" was a slogan that not enough voters held dear.
It may not be a landslide but the final results will be clear.

For Republican's though all is not lost even though today they will pay a high cost.
The next election may make the Republicans boss.
The fact is that in American politics, winning is often followed by loss.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Bounty Of Death For Pirates In Somalia

The M.V. Iran Deyanat was a dead weight tonnage bulk Carrier in a very big hurry. The ship owned by a state run company controlled by the Iranian military set sail from Nanjing, China in late July.

The Iranian vessel had a twenty eight member crew including two Russians,two Pakistanis and a Syrian. Its manifest describes a plan to unload Iron Ore and other products in Rotterdam and proceed to the Gulf of Aden. However, its arrival in the Gulf was unusual because the ship was several days early.

Speed was also a priority as the vessel next moved in a westerly direction toward the Suez Canal. At that point, it was attacked by 40 Somali pirates in high speed boats, all armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades.

The Iran Deyanat was captured by the pirates of Somalia and the ship was taken to Eyl, a fishing village off the northeastern coast . The pirates issued a two million dollar ransom demand for the ship and its crew. It was a ransom demand that would extract a heavy price.

In the days that followed, as the pirates attempted to assess their bounty, things would take a terrible turn. Upon opening one of the ship's seven heavily-secured containers, they found it filled with a "gritty, sand-like" substance. In the next several days, a number of the pirates suffered severe skin burns and loss of hair, and within two weeks sixteen pirates were dead.

Today, the ship remains in Eyl and there is a international bidding war underway to purchase the ship and understand its contents. The ship has been sanctioned and Iran cannot access the vessel while the United States Navy as well as the French are sitting off of the coast to seize the ship if it should get underway.

So, the mystery of the M.V. Iran Deyanat continues. The question is what caused the bounty of death for those pirates in Somalia? As of now, it is impossible for anyone to say. However chemical experts indicate that the pirates symptoms sound inconsistent with chemical poisoning, but may well be the effects of an exposure to radiation.

Meanwhile, Russian sources make an ominious claim. They describe the ship as "an enormous floating dirty bomb, intended to detonate after exiting the Suez Canal. The detonation would have been in close proximity to the coastal cities of Israel, sending a deadly radioactive cloud onshore.

If this explanation turns out to be true, its an act of war by Iran against Israel and the world's first known attempt at a dirty bomb attack. Indeed, a bounty of death for Pirates in Somalia needs to be watched closely, since it may eventually become the biggest international news story of the year.