Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Bush Economic Recovery Continues

See the Washington Post article “Economy Gained Strength In 2006 Growth Dispels Recession Fears” Thursday, February 1, 2007 by Nell Henderson

■ “The U.S. economy turned in a surprisingly strong performance last year, new data show, growing 3.4 percent despite higher interest rates, high oil prices and the sharpest housing downturn in 15 years.

■ “The report from the Commerce Department, showing that economic growth picked up in 2006 from the 3.2 percent growth of 2005, dispelled any lingering doubts about the momentum of the economy going into this year.”

■ “Unemployment and inflation fell last year while wages and salaries rose at their quickest pace in five years, according to a series of recent”

Monday, January 29, 2007

Is the War in Iraq Really That Bad?

See January 28, 2007 Los Angeles Times article by David A. Bell at
■ “by the standards of past wars, the war against terrorism has so far inflicted a very small human cost on the United States.”

■ “Even if one counts our dead in Iraq and Afghanistan as casualties of the war against terrorism, which brings us to about 6,500, we should remember that roughly the same number of Americans die every two months in automobile accidents.”

■ “the war against terrorism has not yet been much of a war at all”

Oops! The title of the article was “Was 9/11 really that bad?” not “Is the War in Iraq Really That Bad?” However, the quotes from the article are accurate.

Hat tip Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal Best of the Web

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Attend “How To Read An Environmental Impact Report?”

Village Entrance EIR is Out
Attend “How To Read An Environmental Impact Report?”
Monday Evening, January 29th7:00 to 9:00 PM at Council Chambers
Sponsored by: League of Women Voters, Ocean Laguna, & Surfriders

Monday, January 15, 2007

Scalawag Should Be a Word of Honor

I was telling a liberal friend of mine that I watched the History Channel show of the Lee-Peacock Feud which ended with Scalawag Lewis Peacock being gunned down at his ranch in July 1871 six years after the end of the Civil War. Three gunmen emptied their shotguns into Scalawag Lewis Peacock and since his foot kept on moving then emptied their revolvers into him. He died.

One hundred plus years ago the word “Scalawag” meant a white Southerner who supported northern Reconstruction policies after the American Civil War. Today the primary meaning is rascal or a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel. I made the point to my liberal friend that we should use the word Scalawag as an appellation of honor.

The liberal insisted the definition was and should be “rascal”.

My point was that history has shown the Scalawags on the honorable and correct side of history. In Reconstruction, the Scalawags supported freed slaves and opposed the efforts by Southern states to deny them their civil rights. The Reconstruction policies sought to ensure the freed slaves the right to vote, run for office, be educated, and supported the Freedmen's Bureau efforts to assist former slaves so they could participate in the American economy. During the Reconstruction period, many blacks did serve in the state legislatures and the Congress.

Scalawags were fought by white supremacists who unfortunately prevailed for over 100 years.

Reconstruction did successfully amend the United States Constitution: the Thirteenth, which abolished slavery; the Fourteenth, which granted civil rights to Blacks; and the Fifteenth, which granted them the right to vote. However, that piece of paper did not help much in the South as former slaves and their children were terrorized by white supremacists.

The North won the Civil War, but lost the peace during which blacks were subjugated by segregation and Jim Crow laws.
It does show that terrorists can subjugate moderate people and reign over them for a long period of time. However, with sufficient persistence, right-minded people were able to finally defeat the terrorists and white supremacists in the South so all now have their civil rights protected.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Gen Petraeus Plan in Iraq

In WONDER LAND, the Wall Street Journal column by Daniel Henninger January 12, 2007 “Unity of Effort”, he provided information I had not seen elsewhere regarding Gen. David Petraeus’ plan in Iraq:

■ “U.S.'s primary problem in Iraq … has been an urban insurgency in a 30-mile radius around Baghdad and in Anbar province.”
■ “The Petraeus command is the overdue beginning of the counterinsurgency.”
■ “product of an enormous amount of self-criticism and analysis done by military and civilian analysts”
■ “Army's new Counterinsurgency Manual, released just last month. The manual's drafting was overseen by Gen. David Petraeus, who will now direct the U.S. military effort”
■ “the plan divides Baghdad into nine districts, essentially neighborhoods”
■ “security in each district will be undertaken by an Iraqi army brigade of several thousand soldiers, a U.S. support battalion of up to 1,000 troops, and most importantly, about 20 U.S. military embeds ”
■ To stay “with and [fight] with their Iraqi counterparts 24/7”.
■ “The manual describes in detail the purpose, theory, tactics and problems (including spikes in violence and casualties) likely to emerge during the new counterinsurgency strategy.”

New Army Counterinsurgency Manual is at


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

US Effort to Isolate Iran Gains Ground

Did you read Wall Street Journal January 10, 2007 article U.S. Effort to Isolate Iran Gains Ground As European Bank Restrictions Take Hold by Glenn R. Simpson and David Crawford?
It includes:

• “The U.S. government's attempt to isolate Iran's economy will get a significant boost this month when the last European bank known to be clearing large volumes of that country's dollar transactions in the U.S. halts the practice.”

• “Commerzbank AG, Germany's second-largest bank, said it will stop handling dollar transactions for Iran at its New York branch by Jan. 31.”

• “Over the past year, most European banks with longstanding relationships with Iran have bowed to U.S. pressure and sharply curtailed transactions with Iran's state-controlled banks, which the U.S. says support terrorism. The U.S. also is seeking to financially quarantine Iran because of Tehran's vows to press ahead with its nuclear program in defiance of international will.”

Monday, January 08, 2007

Gates Foundation Invests in Companies Causing Health Problems

Read the January 7, 2007 article in Los Angeles Times “Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation” by Charles Piller, Edmund Sanders and Robyn Dixon

“The Gates Foundation has poured $218 million into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France — the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe.

Indeed, local leaders blame oil development for fostering some of the very afflictions that the foundation combats.

Oil workers, for example, and soldiers protecting them are a magnet for prostitution, contributing to a surge in HIV and teenage pregnancy, both targets in the Gates Foundation's efforts to ease the ills of society, especially among the poor. Oil bore holes fill with stagnant water, which is ideal for mosquitoes that spread malaria, one of the diseases the foundation is fighting.”

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New York Times on Al Qaeda in Iraq

See January 7, 2007 New York Times “The Ever-Mutating Iraq Insurgency

“Al Qaeda in Iraq emerged after the American invasion, seeking to defeat the United States, destroy the Iraqi state and create a larger Middle Eastern Sunni Islamic state. It is extremely brutal, staging many suicide attacks.
Al Quaeda in Iraq’s bombing of the Askariya Mosque in Samarra, a Shiite shrine, provoked Shiite attacks on Sunnis.”

Emissions from Vehicles Way Up in Kyoto Signing Europe

See the New York Times January 7, 2007 article Car Boom Puts Europe on Road to a Smoggy Future by Elisabeth Rosenthal.

■ “Vehicular emissions are rising in nearly every European country, and across the globe. Because of increasing car and truck use, greenhouse-gas emissions are increasing even where pollution from industry is waning.”

■ In Dublin, Ireland “the number of cars has doubled in the last 15 years”…“nearly everyone drives — to work, to shop, to take their children to school — in what seems like a constant smoggy, traffic jam.”

■ “The 23 percent growth in vehicular emissions in Europe since 1990 has “offset” the effect of cleaner factories, according to a recent report by the European Environment Agency. The growth has occurred despite the invention of far more environmentally friendly fuels and cars.”

Mexico President Calderon Cracks Down on Drugs But Finds None

I guess the drug dealers are no dummies. The new President of Mexico Felipe Calderon launches a drug crackdown at the US/Mexico Tijuana crossing and no drugs turn up. It certainly is going to take an ongoing effort to combat the drug dealers, but this is a nice start. Particularly, stripping the local police of their weapons is quite a bold step.

Read the January 7,2007 article in the Los Angeles Times “Not a whiff of drug trade found in Tijuana stops, Mexico's crackdown appears to have brought to a standstill the flow of illicit narcotics from the city to the U.S.” by Sam Enriquez.

■ “the German shepherd mix [drug sniffing dog] found not a speck of illegal powder among the hundreds of vehicles pulled over for inspection.
■ “none of the 3,300 army, navy and federal police officers brought here to crack down on drug-gang violence have turned up any kind of dope among the thousands of vehicles searched at random during the first five days of Mexican President Felipe Calderon's ‘Operation Tijuana’."
■ “Calderon dispatched his federal forces to stem the violence that killed more than 300 people here last year. On Thursday, local police were stripped of their weapons until federal authorities could weed out any officers on the payroll of warring drug cartels.”

US and Allies Squeeze Iran Oil Production

See January 7, 2007 Los Angeles Times article “U.S. puts squeeze on Iran's oil fields,
A campaign to dry up financing for projects poses a threat to Tehran's ability to maintain exports, analysts say” by Kim Murphy.

The United States is “quietly gaining ground on another energy front: the oil fields that are the Islamic Republic's lifeblood….a new U.S. campaign to dry up financing for oil and natural gas development poses a threat to the republic's ability to continue exporting oil over the next two decades”“The campaign comes at a moment of unique vulnerability for Iran's oil industry, which also faces challenges from rising domestic energy consumption, international isolation, a populist spending spree by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and trouble closing contracts with foreign oil companies — a recipe for potential disaster in a nation with one of the world's largest reservoirs of oil.”

“The efforts by the United States and its allies over the last few months to persuade international banks and oil companies to pull out of Iran threaten dozens of projects, including development of Iran's two massive new oil fields that could expand output by 800,000 barrels a day over the next four years.”

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

China Oil Demand

See the Wall Street Journal January 2, 2007 article Feeding China's Oil Thirst by Shai Oster
“China has become more dependent on energy imports amid rapid industrialization and the rise of a middle class snapping up cars, as well as flat-lining output from its domestic oil fields. Its demand for oil is expected to reach 7.4 million barrels a day in 2007, up from seven million barrels in 2006 and 35% ahead of the 5.5 million barrels in 2003. But its domestic supply this year is expected to be just 3.7 million barrels a day, only slightly more than the 3.4 million barrels a day it pumped out in 2003.”

This certainly bodes well for globalization which may lead to a more peaceful world and there is increased trading and interdependence. However, if one is concerned about carbon dioxide emissions, it would be better to have China solve its growing energy needs with zero greenhouse emitting nuclear power.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Saddam Hussein Environmental Crimes

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed on December 30, 2006. He was responsible for the untimely death of many people and he also caused significant damage to the environment.

■ The Marsh Arab “wetland ecosystem … covering about 12,000 square miles as recently as 1985, [were] drained, burned and dammed to the point that only remnants of them still exist. Where once lay healthy, ecologically rich wetlands, teeming with aquatic life, buffalo and migratory birds there now is only barren, salt-encrusted land.” See
■ “During the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi troops intentionally set fire to more than 600 oil wells and dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf as they retreated from Kuwait. … The oil well fires released 500 million tons of carbon dioxide (the leading cause of global warming) and sulfur dioxide (the primary element in acid rain). Black, greasy rain and snow fell up to 1,500 miles from Kuwait.” See
■ “During the 250 days that the fires burned … led to a decrease in seawater temperature, which directly affected the reproduction and growth of organisms in the Persian Gulf.”
■ “The oil that was dumped into the gulf covered 482 miles of shoreline and smothered salt marshes. At one point, there were about 1,000 dead crabs per square yard along the marshes. The oil spills killed more than 25,000 birds from 42 different species. According to scientists, toxic residue could continue to affect the Gulf for more than a century.”
■ “Some 60 million barrels of oil poured into the deserts of Kuwait and formed oil lakes covering 49 square kilometres. From there, the oil slowly percolated down into aquifers and has now poisoned 40 per cent of the underground water - in a country with less water per head than any other.” See
■ “More than 80 percent of Kuwait's livestock perished during the war, while fisheries
were heavily polluted” see