Thursday, January 29, 2009

The House Passes The Bill That Stimulates Pork

The Stimulus Bill passed the House Of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 244 to 188. The Bill passed without a single Republican vote and with 10 Democrats voting against it. The Bill now moves on to the Senate for its consideration.

The $819 billion dollar Stimulus Bill contains little stimulus and lots of government pork. The Bill features the following government pork according to the Wall Street Journal:

$7.7 billion for various upgrades and work done on federal buildings
$5.2 billion for voter fraud experts ACORN and other "neighborhood stabilization" groups
$2.4 billion for carbon capture projects
$1 billion for AMTRAK
$650 million more for coupons for the conversion to digital television
$600 million for federal automobiles
$400 million for research into global warming
$335 million for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases
$50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts

Also Read Todays Daily Vu :An Economic Crisis That Won't Go To Waste

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Front Of The War On Terror Is Iran

Iran continues to repeat and repeat nonsense about the Holocaust. Yesterday, the Iranian regime once again branded the Holocaust a "big lie" created to place the Islamic republic's arch-foe Israel in the Middle East.

"The Holocaust is a concept coming from a big lie in order to settle a rootless regime in the heart of the Islamic world," Iranian government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told a conference on Gaza in central Iran's religious city of Qom.

Of course, the big lie about the Holocaust has been a government message since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad branded the Holocaust a "myth" in 2005.

Yesterday was a particularly convenient day for Iran to try and rewrite the history books since the United Nations designated January 27 as International Holocaust Memorial Day in 2005. The date observes the day that Soviet troops liberated the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Poland.

It all never happened according to Iran. The Holocaust is a lie and the Iranian nuclear program is really designed for peace and not for political and military power.

Yesterday, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of "subversive activity" in Latin America. Its not very surprising since Iran has been the most active sponsor of international terrorism since 1979. The Iranian regime openly supports many terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah and the People's Mujahedeen terrorist Organization in Iran.

So, its not too hard to find the mother regime and the front of the War on Terror. Its not in Afghanistan and its not in Pakistan. Indeed, the front in the war on terror can be found in what soon will be a nuclear Iran.

Also Read Todays Daily Vu: The Mystery Ship Of Terror From Iran

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Regulations On The Bankrupt Auto Industry

"This moment of peril must be turned to one of progress," President Barack Obama said yesterday, as he signed his first two Presidential Memoranda, both aimed at getting the United States on the path to energy independence.

The president directed the Department of Transportation to establish higher fuel efficiency standards for carmakers' 2011 model year. The standard, known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard, was established in 1975 in the wake of the Arab oil embargo.

In model year 1990, the passenger car standard was amended to 27.5 miles per gallon, and it has remained at this level. In 2007, new light truck standards of 22.2 mpg were issued. The new efficiency standards called for raising the average fuel economy to 35 miles a gallon for both cars and trucks by 2020.

The second memo paves the way for California and 18 other states to raise tailpipe emissions standards for the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide above and beyond the national standard.

It all really means more regulation and efficiency demands by politicians on the nearly bankrupt auto industry. Consider that there are already three voices on fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the EPA and States like California each have different standards, different structures and different timelines.

The car makers now have less than three months to prove to Washington that they can survive after recieving government bailout money last month. Its clear that the Obama administration wants Detroit to make smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. However, if we keep seeing cheaper energy, people won’t buy these fuel-efficient vehicles. People will return to light trucks and vehicles with utility and size instead.

So, there may be an eventual conflict between what the government wants the carmakers to do (build smaller cars to adhere to aggressive environmental regulation) and what the automakers need to do in order to get the consumer to purchase cars and trucks. After all, political sound bites and new auto regulations do nothing to help the bankrupt auto industry turn a profit.

Also Read Todays Daily Vu: An Offshore Wind Farm Caught In A Political Breeze

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stimulus Is Just Government Pork By Another Name

There is a trillion dollar spending plan being debated in Congress and endorsed by President Barack Obama to stimulate the United States economy.

We are being told that this government spending spree is needed right away to save jobs and the economy during this deep recession.

The problem with the passage of this plan is that it will have little effect on the economy during the next year. In additon, it is money that the government does not have since it already runs a over a trillion dollar deficit. The truth of this economic stimulus bill is that it is just more government pork under a new name.

Consider that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that only 7 percent of infrastructure money in the bill would make its way into the economy by the end of the year, and just 38 percent would be spent by the end of the 2010 fiscal year.

Meanwhile, the bill is loaded with pork and is a lobbyist delight. There is a $50 million outlay for the National Endowment for the Arts to help fund arts groups hit by a drop-off in philanthropy.

The bill has a $87 billion package to help states with the Medicaid costs of family planning which will result in spending millions of taxpayer dollars on contraceptives.

There is $200 million to rehabilitate the National Mall and $650 million to repair Forest Service facilities. There is another $1.8 billion to repair National Park Service facilities. Indeed the pork in the bill goes on and on.

Out of control federal spending will not end this deep recession. The current federal policies do not represent political change. In Washington D.C., its just more of the same on a much larger scale in a new year under a different name.

Read Today's Daily Vu :The Missing Plan For Closing Guantanamo Bay

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Media Coverage of The Inauguration Of Barack Obama

The mainstream media's love affair with Barack Obama continued with the celebrity style coverage of his inauguration during the last week.

To illustrate the level of positive and fawning media coverage, consider these facts as reported today by Reuters:

"President Barack Obama's inauguration generated an unprecedented 35,000 stories in the world's major newspapers, television and radio broadcasts over the past day -- about 35 times more than the last presidential swearing-in -- a monitoring group said on Wednesday.

The Texas-based Global Language Monitor said there had also been 6 million new Obama-related mentions on the Internet since December 31. By comparison, the last U.S. presidential inauguration, of George W. Bush in January 2005, resulted in about 1,000 stories in major media worldwide, Paul JJ Payack, president of Global Language Monitor said. "

The media's role in a free society is as a government watchdog. The fear is that the media is fast turning into a politically biased lapdog. It will be important in the coming months for the media to become more objective in the coverage of the 44th President.

Here is a link to Juan Williams excellent article on 1/20/2009 about the media's responsibility to hold Barack Obama accountible in the future. It is well written and timely.

Judge Obama on Performance Alone - Juan Williams - Wall Street Journal

Also please read todays Daily Vu on the problems in Mexico: A Threat Of Chaos South of The Border

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Inauguration Left A Not So Green Mall

Thousands of people were said to have volunteered to lend a hand in what was touted as the "greenest inauguration in history".

The green inauguration meant picking up trash, recyclables and even horse manure along the Mall in Washington after Barack Obama took the oath of office.

"Just as we are committed to making this the most open and accessible inauguration in history, we are also committed to making it the most environmentally sensitive," Inauguration Committee spokeswoman Linda Douglass told Fox News.

Well, the day after all those parties and Inaugural Balls, the Washington Mall was covered in trash and not a very green place after all.

In addition to the tons of trash left on the Washington Mall, The Institute for Liberty, estimated that the millions of people coming to the inauguration generated a half-billion pounds of carbon dioxide — 260 million pounds from the 600 private jets that came to Washington, and another 260 million pounds from personal vehicles.

The Institute says the pollution amounts to more than 575 million pounds of CO2, which would take the average U.S. household 57,598 years to produce.

Tons of trash left on the mall and one half billion pounds of carbon dioxide generated from planes and automobiles. The greenest inauguration of them all was not very green after all.

Today's Daily Vu : The Quiet Sun May Mean Another Dalton Minimum

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day - 2009

Inaugration Day - 2009

The United States Constitution mandates that the President take the following oath before he or she can "enter on the Execution" of the office of the presidency:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States".

So, newly elected President Barack Obama will add "so help me God" at noon today, to the constitutionally mandated oath. He will become the 44th President of the United States of America.

Barack Obama takes office with the highest approval rating of any incoming president in history. Most Americans are optimistic about the next four years but their optimism may be somewhat unrealistic.

As an example of true optimism, in one survey, (Associated Press-Gfk) , 71 per cent of Americans believe the economy will improve during the first year of the Obama presidency and 65 per cent said they think unemployment will drop. Meanwhile, 72 per cent said they thought the stock market would recover and 63 per cent were confident that their personal financial situation would improve.

The Presidential administration of Barack Obama starts at noon today. Its when reality meets campaign promise and the tough and sometimes unpopular decisions of national governing begin.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King Day - 2009

Martin Luther King Day -2009 :
"This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples' holiday," said Coretta Scott King after President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law on November 2, 1983. On April 4, 1968, she had lost her husband, to an assassin's gun.

Martin Luther King Day became a federal holiday in 1986 and is held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of the civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Pardon For Ramos and Compean:
In his final acts of clemency, president George Bush on Monday commuted the prision sentences of two former U.S. Border Patrol agents whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited fierce debate about illegal immigration.

Bush's decision to commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who tried to cover up the shooting, was welcomed by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress.

It is a release for these two border agents that was long overdue.

Also, please read the Daily Vu on eworldvu : The Crash Of Flight 1549 And Global Warming

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Strange Case Of Bernie Madoff

The biggest financial fraud in history continues to slowly unravel in an unusual way. The strange case of Bernie Madoff becomes only more bizarre with each passing day.

This strange case actually started with Bernie Madoff outing himself. As a result, there is no sense in talking about the $50 billion dollar Madoff Ponzi scheme as an "alleged" fraud, when the main allegations about the crime actually come from the person who will eventually be the defendant in the case.

Soon after his arrest, Bernie Madoff's bail was set at $10 million dollars with the requirement of 4 co-signers on the bond but Madoff could not get four people in the entire world to sign his bail bond.

So, he did not meet the conditions of his bail. However, his punishment for not making bail has certainly been strange. Madoff was not sent to jail but only confined to his palatial apartment at 133 East 64th Street.

As a result, its very odd that while the U.S. Congress and prosecutors sort out the greatest financial hoax in history, the mastermind of the Ponzi Scheme continues to enjoy a life of luxury made possible by his fraud.

Its also strange that while the government searches for an accounting of $50 billion missing dollars, that Bernie Madoff has the ability to continue to access personal records and computers that may become important to the fraud investigation.

Madoff's Ponzi scheme ripped off widows and orphans, philanthropies, rich people, global banks and hedge funds. It is strange that one man managed to steal $50 billion dollars for decades from some of the most sophisticated financial people and institutions in the world within the confines of the regulated environment of financial investments.

Certainly, it is strange that starting in 1992, federal regulators on at least eight different occasions examined various aspects of Bernard Madoff's business operations and never turned up anything about the $50 billion Ponzi scheme that led to Madoff's arrest last month.

Bernie Madoff showed up last week at a bail hearing wearing a bullet proof vest. The bail hearing was called because Madoff was in violation of a condition of his bail agreement not to dispose of any of his assets.

Sadly, it was discovered that sixteen watches, including diamond-encrusted timepieces from Tiffany and Cartier, four diamond brooches, two sets of cuff links, and an emerald ring were sent to Madoff's sons and brother. The value of the jewelry was estimated to be more than one million dollars.

The result of the bail hearing once again did not send Bernie Madoff to jail. He was again ordered to return to the comfort of his $7 million dollar penthouse apartment. Even though it may be hard to believe, this story is not bad fiction. Unfortunately, the strange case of Bernie Madoff is reality TV.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pesticides Could Be The Key To The Disappearing Bee

A few months ago, a panel of experts told a House Agriculture subcommittee that the U.S commercial honey bee industry lost a record 36 percent of its colonies in 2008. This came after a dismal 2007, in which the industry lost 31% of its colonies.

The primary problem of lost bee colonies is due to the disappearing honey bee mystery called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that threatens the future of beekeeping and the health of a variety of important crops.

So, there was great interest in the room last August, at the 236th American Chemical Society Meeting, with the findings of Penn State Researchers into the problem of Colony Collapse Disorder.

Some of the findings of the research team were expected. It was not unexpected that since the Varroa Mite is such a serious problem for bees, that an analysis of beehive wax in every test hive would showed levels of the pesticides (fluvalinate and coumaphos). These chemicals are commonly used to combat the mite. Certainly, the fact that the levels of these pesticides were unprecedented was a reason for concern.

However, the shocking discovery of Penn State researchers was the finding that lower levels of 70 other pesticides (used to protect agricultural crops) and metabolites of those pesticides were discovered in the pollen and bees.

The findings of that Penn State study confirms the belief already held by many professional beekeepers. These beekeepers are convinced that pesticides could well be the key to unraveling the mystery of the disappearing bee. Their problem is providing the field evidence to prove it for several different reasons.

First, the variety of pesticides in use in many different areas reporting CCD makes it difficult to test for all possible pesticides simultaneously.

Second, many commercial beekeeping operations are mobile, transporting hives over large geographic distances during the course of a season, potentially exposing the colonies to different pesticides at each location.

Third, the bees themselves place pollen and honey into long-term storage, meaning that there may be a delay of anywhere from days to months before contaminated provisions are fed to the colony, negating any attempts to associate the appearance of symptoms with the actual time at which exposure to pesticides occurred.

As a result of all these logistical difficulties, providing evidence of the effect of various pesticides on bees has been very slow in coming. Still, finding more than 70 pesticides in the bee hive is a very important discovery.

Indeed, its now likely that pesticides could well be the research key to eventually unravelling the mystery of the disappearing honey bee.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

North To Alaska For Iditarod 2009

It has been frigid in Alaska this year. In fact, extremely low temperatures have grounded planes, disabled cars, and even canceled several championship cross country ski races.

Many people wonder if this unusally cold weather, even for the state of Alaska, will continue. After all, the extreme weather in Alaska becomes even more important since the days have begun to dwindle and time is beginning to grow short.

The calendar now shows that there are now only fifty two days to the start of the annual competition that is called the Last Great Race on Earth. The 38th Iditarod Dog Sled Race is currently scheduled to begin in Anchorage on March 7, 2009.

The Iditarod is a truly unique competitive event, a race of 1131 miles across Alaska in the frigid month of March through the roughest terrain on Earth. The race navigates terrain across a frozen tundra which includes rivers, windswept coastlines, mountains, and dense forests, all of which are covered with plenty of deep snow and ice.

The weather conditions during the race are often extreme with temperatures and wind chill that are far below zero. Certainly, its not unusual for dog sled teams to race through blizzards without visibility, and in sub-zero weather with gale-force winds which can cause the wind chill to reach -100 °F. Through the years, the length of time to win the race has varied between nine days and twenty days.

This year, seventy two mushers and their dog sled teams will be competing for victory in the 38th Iditarod. The problem for seventy one of these contestants will once again be current Iditarod champion, Lance Mackey. Mackey has won the race in each of the last two years.

Last year, Mackey lost a key lead dog early in the race and another dog ended up with an infected foot that made it difficult for him to continue on. In addition to the problems with the dogs, the race was very competitive throughout. Once Mackey took the lead at Ruby on the Yukon River, just past the halfway mark, he always had the 16-dog team of four-time champ Jeff King lurking close behind.

However, the weather during last years race was unusually warm for Alaska and Mackey used his racing skill and his gritty team of dogs to once again beat the field. So, the question this year is whether Lance Mackey will win again for a third straight time? Many will soon travel north to Alaska for Iditarod 2009 to find out.

Indeed, the competition is scheduled to begin in Anchorage, Alaska, in just fifty two days. Its the next chance to see the Last Great Race On Earth.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Power In The Trash

Europe, Asia, and Canada now have facilities or are planning facilities that will make a relic out of the ugly landfill of everyday waste.

Waste is being vaporized into methane gas and the more advanced waste recovery facilities have even begun to turn waste into electric power.

Converting trash to power became a reality in Australia last July. The $49 million dollar Macarthur Resource Recovery Park in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, began taking garbage from 300,000 people in the area.

Instead of 9000 truckloads of waste going into landfills, 8% of Sydneys annual garbage each year is now being sent to its new waste treatment plant. The plant was designed to produce methane gas from garbage-chewing microbes. The gas powers the plant and even sends enough electricity back into the grid to light up another 1700 households.

Meanwhile, another process in creating power from everyday trash, called plasma gasification will be coming to America. St. Lucie County, Florida will use this process on its waste in early 2011.

Indeed, creating power from American trash cannot start soon enough since every year 130 million tons of trash are dumped in ugly and odorous landfills. In fact, American waste dumps emit more of the greenhouse gas called methane than any other human-related source.

Plasma gasification is a process for blasting garbage with a stream of superheated gas, known as plasma. When trash is dropped into a chamber and heated to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, its organic components, food, fluids,and paper vaporize into a hot, pressurized gas.

The whole process needs power from the electrical grid to get started. However, once the cycle is under way, the new gas is fed into a cooling system, generating steam that drives turbines to produce electricity. About two thirds of the power is siphoned off to run the converter; the rest can be used on-site for heating or electricity, or sold back to help power the utility grid.

The system is capable of breaking down pretty much anything except nuclear waste, the isotopes of which are indestructible. The by-products are used as a raw material for numerous applications, including bathroom tiles and high-strength asphalt.

It has been estimated that in an average American city, an investment in a $250 million dollar plasma gasification trash converter would pay for itself in just ten years. So, an economic justification for the program is sound, the technology is viable and the process meets an important environmental need.

As a result, landfills are about to become a thing of the past as our waste is turned into gas. Who would have ever thought that there would be power in the trash.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Russia's New Cold War With Europe

On New Year's Eve, the deadline expired for Russia and Ukraine to agree on a new contract for 2009 gas supplies. Moscow had wanted to raise its prices and charge Kiev $250 per 1,000 cubic metres, up from $179.5 last year.

The Ukrainians thought that excessive and refused to pay a cent more than $201. Russia promptly put its price up to $450. Then, at 10am on New Year's Day, Russia's energy monopoly Gazprom halted supplies of all gas meant for domestic use in Ukraine.

The pipelines that cross Ukraine also carry gas to Europe. In fact, 20% of the European Union's gas is supplied by Russia through pipelines in the Ukraine. Recently, Russia's dispute with the Ukraine has escalated and it has stopped supplying gas through the Ukraine to Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia.

The shutoff of Russian gas through the Ukraine is creating an energy crisis throughout the European Union during this long cold winter of sub zero temperatures. The fact is that the longer it goes on, the worse the crisis will become as gas storage supplies dwindle and disappear.

So what is Vladimir Putin up to by creating this energy crisis in Europe? Also, is it just a coincidence that many of the scientists that believe the solar cycle will result in dramatic global cooling during the next few decades come from Russia?

Accuweather Long Range Meteorologist Joe Bastardi has an interesting theory that may answer both of these questions. Bastardi speculates that; "Putin is relying on (climate) data from Russian scientists and wants to bring some European nations to their knees by exploiting their reliance on natural gas when the weather is at its coldest".

Bastardi continues; "Putin thinks he knows what is going to happen about the overall climate pattern. So, if you control the pipeline into Europe, you literally can control Europe without firing a shot - if you control the energy.”

Vladimir Putin has a history of trying to exploit natural resources for wealth and to gain political advantage. Over a year ago, when Arctic Sea Ice was rapidly melting, Russia was trying to claim the resource rich land under the Arctic Ice Cap, even before it became available.(For More Read: Russia Claims The North Pole on eworldvu)

It may well be that as many nations spend large sums of money to reduce C02 gas to prevent global warming, Putin is gambling on a much different climate change outcome.

Russia's new cold war with Europe is already underway. In the years ahead, if global temperatures continue to decline, Russia will be the beneficiary and the European Union will have to pay.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Palestine's Cost For Voting For Hamas

Various news agencies were reporting Israeli bombing atrocities in Gaza during the last several days. Most of the media criticism was centered around the shelling of three facilities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

In fact, the Israeli bombings were a subject of criticism by numerous speakers at Tuesday's United Nations Security Council meeting. In recent days, Israel's shells have fallen around three schools, including a girls school, and a health center for Palestinian refugees.

However, there is another side of the story that is being overlooked by the mainstream media. Consider that there were two witnesses that saw a small group of Hamas militants firing mortar rounds from a street near the girls school.

If these eyewitness accounts are correct, it certainly would not be the first time that Hamas was intentionally drawing Israeli fire toward civilians. The militants were near an area where more than 350 innocent refugees had gathered to get away from the bombing.

Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev is claiming that among the casualties at the United Nations Relief Agencies were two senior Hamas members. So, what were two members of Hamas doing at the United Nations Relief Agencies to begin with?

That question was posed by the Inner City Press to a spokesperson for the United Nations. The evasive U.N. answer was as follows: "we are defending our right to defend refugees. There were no armed men... they might have been Hamas but they were there as refugees."

The mainstream media is eager to report Israeli mistakes but in its bias, fails to report and highlight the use by Hamas of innocent civilians as human shields and the exploitation of the United Nations Relief facilities for protection and international propaganda.

Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and most Western nations. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, 1,685 rockets have been launched into Israel. There were more than 1,200 rockets launched by Hamas into Israel last year alone. The intent of Hamas is clearly stated in its Charter: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

The Gaza military offensive is in reality a defensive measure by Israel for the security of the country. It is a military action against a known terrorist organization that is long overdue. In 2006, Palestine elected terrorism in the name of Hamas as its majority party in a free and democratic election. For the country, it was an opportunity lost and in retrospect that vote comes at an increasing humanitarian cost.

Free democratic elections are national decisions that have long term consequences. 100 tons of Israeli bombs dropped on Gaza in the last few weeks and the resulting human tragedy have become Palestine's cost for voting for Hamas.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Astronomy Becomes An International Focus Of 2009

The United Nations and the International Astronomical Union have joined forces to highlight 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy. In fact, this year marks the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first astronomical observation through a telescope.

To mark this milestone, more than one hundred nations across the globe are collaborating to make the international community more aware of the universe we live in.

A highlight of the International Year Of Astronomy, is the "100 Hours of Astronomy" project planned for early April. The project will feature live web casts, and observing events during its 100-hour long program.

One of the key goals of "100 Hours of Astronomy" is to have as many people as possible look through a telescope as Galileo did for the first time 400 years ago. The program will take place from April 2, 2009 through April 5, 2009, when the Moon goes from first quarter to gibbous and provides excellent early evening viewing. Saturn will also be a highlight of early evening observing events during this period.

Indeed, there are many exciting events to observe in Astronomy throughout 2009. People in China and India can witness the longest solar eclipse of this century in July. An early evening sighting of Jupiter in October in the Northern Hemisphere should give some spectacular views. Also, the Leonid Meteor Shower in November 2009 is predicted to be one of most vivid ever.

2009 will also feature the final mission to repair and upgrade the aging Hubble Telescope. The shuttle mission that will take astronauts to the Hubble is currently scheduled for launch on May 12th. NASA intends to upgrade the Hubble Telescope, so that it will have more capability than ever before. It is a servicing mission with considerable danger to the astronauts, but one that has the potential to provide science and astronomy with dramatic rewards for at least the next five years.

A lack of sunspot activity will continue to be of scientific interest during 2009. There were 266 days without a sunspot during 2008. It was a year that featured the second highest number of days with a blank sun since 1900. A lack of sunspot activity was also the trend during 2007.

Its the International Year Of Astronomy. So, set up the telescope, adjust the focus and let the observations begin. For those of us that are less hands-on, there is even a blog of professional astronomers to keep us properly informed.

For More on the Hubble Telescope Read: The Last Mission To The Hubble Telescope on eWorldvu.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Democrats Race To Fill Four Senate Seats

There are several Senate seats that still need to be filled by dedicated public servants as America starts its New Year.

In Minnesota, Democrat Al Franken has just moved ahead of Norm Coleman by several hundred votes and is about to win the recount of a very close election.

The result of the recount will overturn a victory of several hundred votes on election night by his opponent, incumbent Republican Senator,Norm Coleman. The recount tally has actually turned into a contest between the two candidates legal teams.

In fact, legal issues abound in this race. There are hundreds of missing ballots which will be counted as voting for Franken. There were disqualified absentee ballots that favor Franken that are now being counted while there were disqualified absentee ballots that may favor Coleman that are not.

The final recount vote totals may show that Al Franken won the Minnesota Senate seat but this whole election mess is going to end up in court. Minnesota's Governor Tim Pawlenty will not seat Franken until all the legal issues are resolved and any attempt by Franken to seat himself will create a Senate Republican filibuster.

Of course, the ultimate question concerns political accountability for this election mess in Minnesota? How could there be missing ballots and disqualified ballots that should have been counted?

Meanwhile, in New York, controversy surrounds Hillary Clinton's former Senate seat. Governor Patterson is under pressure from Democratic insiders to appoint Caroline Kennedy to the Senate until the next election is held in 2010. Various newspapers have opined that Patterson should select Kennedy since that may bring to the polls more Democrat voters and help him with his own re-election in two years.

It makes you wonder what ever happened to the importance of qualifications. Caroline Kennedy's resume shows no real background for consideration for a seat in the United States Senate. The fact is that she has never held public office, has little private sector background, won't release her financial history, and has not been able to articulate a political opinion on many of the major issues facing New York voters.

Another controversial Senate appointment features Barack Obama's former Senate seat. Recently indicted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has just appointed former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate.

Senate Democratic Majority Leader, Harry Reid has vowed to block the Burris appointment because it was made by the disgraced Illinois Governor. This battle may end up in the Supreme Court and since he has yet been convicted of anything, Blagojevich may eventually prevail.

Unfortunately, the politics of the appointment has nothing to do with the preferences of the voter, since Roland Burris is no stranger to losing real political elections, in Illinois.

Burris failed in three primary bids for governor in 1994, 1998 and 2002. He failed in campaigns for Chicago mayor in 1995 and for U.S. senator in 1984. He has not even held a statewide office in the last fourteen years.

In Delaware, Joe Biden is set to accept the Vice Presidency while still holding on to his Senate Seat. This political oddity is necessary so Biden's former chief of staff, Ted Kaufman, can recieve a Senate appointment to serve for just two years, after which point he will not seek to retain the seat. This will mean that Kaufman can keep the seat warm until 2010 so there will be no incumbent to run against Joe Biden's son, Beau.

The Democrats race to fill four Senate seats involves corruption, lawyers, patronage, power and political expediency. All these political appointments have little to do with the intent of real voters. If this dubious political patronage continues, the United States Senate will soon need to change its name to the United States House Of Lords.