Wednesday, February 28, 2007

John McCain Announces His Losing Bid For President On David Letterman Tonight

Senator John "Weathervane" McCain announces his losing bid for president on David Letterman's show tonight. Unfortunately his window for becoming president long since passed him by. McCain had two good shots at higher office already pass him by. In 2000, if only he could have run better in the South Carolina primary and not into intense opposition by the religious right, was probably his best chance. In 2004, he could have accepted an offer by John Kerry to form a bipartisan ticket of two military veterans, but allowed this opportunity to also slide by.

Now McCain is almost too old to be elected, and has harvested a bad image as having opinions that blow in the wind like a "weathervane". He is beginning to quickly lose strength against former New York Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani in the polls.

A major portion of politics is timing, which is mostly why Senator Barack Obama is running now, and not 4 or 8 years from now. McCain, the former straight talking senator from Arizona, who once proved some flexible positions something like Barry Goldwater, his mentor, has allowed too many opportunities to pass him by. Now. the voters will likely pass him by as well, and his dream to be president will never be realized.

Iran Only Considering Attending Regional Peace Conference

Iran appears to be only putting it under consideration whether to attend a regional peace conference to help resolve the conflict in Iraq. This is highly disappointing since it would open a possible dialogue with the U.S. and Iran. It is hoped that Iran will more seriously decide to take part in the regional peace conference, which will also include China, Russia and other major parties as well as MidEast neighbors of Iraq.

This bold peace conference proposal is an important first step in the right direction towards creating a dialogue for a political settlement in Iraq, and the end to states such as Iran and Saudi Arabia fighting a proxy war on behalf of their respective Sunni and Shiite interests.

Iran and the U.S. need to brought into some sort of face to face discussions and a dialogue to reduce tensions. However, Iran may feel that they have nothing to gain through a dialogue, and are hoping that they can outlast the U.S. presense in Iraq and then support the overthrow of the Iraqi government with an Islamic revolutionary ally such as radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Iran also may feel that they can outlast and divide the world communiy over their nuclear program, as now Russia is turning more critical of any stronger actions to control this looming political crisis.

Many wrongly thought that the U.S. would be the biggest holdout in any face to face talks with Iran. But the U.S. holds none of the current advantages of Iran. Iran is too close to picking up the pieces of the failed U.S. efforts in Iraq that so badly destabilized the nation, and also to making major advances on their nuclear program. North Korea proved that once a nation has nuclear arms, then they can wield great power in many ways. Iran wants to wield this power. It was always to be expected that Iran would be the most difficult to bring to the negotiation table by pragmatic thinkers.

When you hold many political advantages like Iran, there is no need to negotiate away these advantages. This stands as the biggest current roadblock of a really useful peace dialogue with Iran. But there is alwasys hope that a real dialogue between the U.S. and Iran can exist before the situation continues to worsen to a possible major political or military situation down the road.

James Cameron's Documentary On The Tomb Of Jesus Misses Important Points

The controversial documentary that TITANTIC filmaker James Cameron has produced for the the Discovery Channel set to air on March 4, has missed many important points from religious scholars, archaeologists, historians and others.

Based on some inspriptions on 10 ancient ossuaries, the film crew of Cameron's group may have assumed that these caskets and burial site were the burial place of Jesus and some claimed family relatives. However, even the name of Mary had at least 48 spelling or other variations used at the time of Jesus. Further the Church Of The Resurrection in Jerusalem is widely accepted by historians, archaeologists and religious leaders as the burial site of Jesus. Cameron's purported tomb site was nowhere near this Holy site that Christians have long protected and maintained.

Further the names used in the burial site unearthed by Cameron's film crew were the most widely used Jewish names at the time. There is no supporting evidence that this burial site was anything more than just a common family grave from Jerusalem.

One little known fact about Jerusalem is that Palestinian archaeology crews working for either the Palestinian government or Islamic religious officials have long been involved in unearthing and destroying artifacts that prove any Jewish history in Jerusalem. For political and religious reasons, the Palestinians have been attempting to rewrite history in the region to disprove that Jews ever lived in the area, in an attempt to justify Jerusalem as some Holy city in the Muslim faith, although not a single word in the Koran mentions Jerusalem. This burial site that Cameron's film crew photographed was lucky to survive destruction by Palestinian authorities as they attempt to rewrite history. And although the burial site is highly unlikely to be the burial site of Jesus or others, it is still an important ancient Jewish artifact that proves the existence of a Jewish settlement in Jerusalem hundreds of years before the founding of the Muslim faith.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How To Lose $600 Billion In One Day

The massive international stock market losses that started in China and spread like the flu throughout other world markets including a 416 point drop in the U.S. are indeed a significant event. Investors, including those hoping to save for a retirement fund and have money in mutual funds lost an estimated stock equity value of $600 billion dollars today.

It was not that long ago that President Bush was promoting a plan to invest part of the Social Security funds in the stock market. After a day like today, wacky ideas like this should be even harder to promote.

The first new market open today was in New Zealand. It was also down. But hopefully international markets will recover very soon. Losing investment money and having your stock value decline is certainly a depressing thing.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Fragility Of The Iraqi Government Becomes Apparent In Twin Crisises

The fragility of the Iraqi government became apparent in twin crisises which struck both the nation's president and one of two vice presidents. American military bomb sweeping units throughly checked out a government meeting hall, including the use of bomb sniffing dogs, yet suspected Sunni insurgents were able to denotate a bomb that slightly wounded, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and killed or wounded many others. Even within the halls of government, insurgents have proven the ability to stike despite American security efforts.

In a a second crisis for the Iraqi government, President Jalal Talibani has been hospitalized and undergoing some sort of medical treatment in Jordan.

Both crisises illustrate what an essy target the Iraqi government could be for an overthrow by a Shiite militia group such as that of Muqtada al-Sadr. George Bush may portray a serious threat from Al Qaeda in Iraq, however this tiny Sunni organization is the most unlikely to topple the government in Iraq. The biggest threat is by a radical Shiite militia group even worse than the official Iraqi government, which is certainly no major image of integrity.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Al Gore Highly Unlikely To Declare A Presidential Bid At Tonight's Oscars

Some rumors have been floated that Al Gore would declare a bid for president at tonight's Oscars. However, this appears highly unlikely as Mr. Gore has repeatedly stated that he has no intent to run, and both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama appear well on their way towards big fundraising and gathering endorsements and support. Gore could be well positioned as a more conventional candidate, however he would likely compete with John Edwards for part of this segment of voters. Gore and Edwards also represent the voters who would like to see a Southern nominee.

A "Draft Gore" website, claims that Gore may enter the race in September if there is "an opening". However, for now the voters seem largely satisfied with either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. For those voters suffering with Clinton fatigue for any of a variety of reasons, they seem to hovering around the campaign of Barack Obama nicely. This doesn't seem to leave the "opening" required for a Gore campaign to be justified.

Al Gore has become both wealthy as well as honored since leaving the vice presidency. His book and movie dealing with global warming are both smash successes. Tonight, Gore could even be honored as winning an Oscar for the film as well. There is really little need for Gore to enter the two year bruising run for president, all of which seems to indicate the smart money says that Al Gore does not announce a run for president tonight, or during this entire campaign. If otherwise turns out, then it would certainly be a terrific surprise.

More American Poor Becoming Boat People

More American poor that would normally be homeless are becoming boat people. In the Columbia River area that runs through Southern Washington and Northern Oregon, more and more very poor persons who normally cannot afford housing are finding an old boat, and as long as it is licensed, are living on it. These boats are generally in very bad condition, and their is little any police or Coast Guard agency can do unless these boats are used for illegal activity such as a drug lab.

These poor persons use generators to provide electrical power in many cases, and they do become shelter, although for the most part they often cluster together as a sort of homeless camp on the water. Sometimes the poor condition of these boats makes them a high risk for sinking or fire.

The conditions of extremely high housing costs, shortages of programs providing low income housing, and poverty in a land in which the wealthy become more wealthy, while the poor only become more poor, creates the need of the homeless to seek creative ways to survive. Old style concepts such as homesteading have become long lost in a land in which every bit of real estate and land becomes privately owned, with little real land affordable to the very poor.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It's Sure Tough To Pick The Worst News This week

This past week has featured such news from the "Twilight Zone" that it's very difficult to pick the very worst news of the week. But several top contenders do exist, in what has to be the closest competition ever for the worst news of the week. This week, almost all of the contenders easily eclipse the former champion, the diaper wearing astronaut whose fondest hope was to drive 900 miles in dirty diapers to hit a love rival on the melon with a hardware store bought mallot in her car. That's quite an achievement of bizarre bad conduct.

Here's this week's top worst news contenders:

Jet Blue's Hostages: Passengers sat as hostages on some runway, as idled Jet Blue planes for as long as 8-11 hours according to some newsreports, with very little food or water. As the only entertainment, Jet Blue wanted to charge these hostages $5 bucks each to watch a crummy movie. Not much help in a plane loaded with small crying children and passengers way past the point of frustration, desperation and despair. Normally Jet Blue is considered one of the better airlines, but just not on this particular day. The company's CEO promised to make things right and prevent any further events like this.

Ratty KFC/Taco Bell Restaurant in NY: A New York combination KFC/Taco Bell got a truckload of bad PR when a small army of rats decided to take over the place. Earlier in the week, late night comic Jay Leno got a little mileage out of jokes about KFC adding a fish sandwich to their menu. But the ratty KFC/Taco Bell only renenewed the jokes and gave fresh bad publicity to this normally good franchise of eating establishments.

Portland Cop "Gone Wild": Most police in the Portland School District help to prevent violence or drug dealing on campus, and make the school experience more safe for the students. One Portland policeman, Ryan E. Graichen, 31, decided that shooting a video similiar to "Girls Gone Wild" of high school girls at a dance at Portland's Madison High School, focusing on their breasts and crotch shots, was the proper role for a guardian of public order and school safety. This officer quickly found himself no longer a policeman, and was decertified from any future work as a policeman, although no crime was actually committed in his very disturbing video of high school girls at the dance.

Cruise Ship Misadventures: Cruise ship passengers on vacation in Costa Rica were threatened with robbers while on a shore bus trip, forcing a group of these passengers to take the law into their own hands and kill one of their robbers in the name of self defense. Somehow the fact that these tourist would have to fight off robbers and kill one them in self defense was missing from any travel agency information.

The Decaying Corpse Of Anna Nicole: What a bad story this is. A parade of men claim to be the father of Anna Nicole's baby. The corpse of Anna Nicole Smith continues to deteriorate and decay as a court battle drags on between her friend, attorney Howard K. Stern, and Anna Nicole's mother. An unsettling recent video of Anna Nicole spaced out wearing some gruesome looking clown makeup also emerged. The former cab driving judge tries out for a courtroom TV show, and breaks down crying among other grandstanding theatrics. More screwy theatrics and wacky drama than your average prowrestling event by far. All in all, a disturbing circus of very unsettling images. A very close contender for the very worst story of the week.

This Week's Big Winner, er uh, Loser, Bald Britney Goes Bananas: I'd have to give former pop princess Britney Spears the top honors this week for the very worst news story of all. She started out the week, reportedly by drinking Nightquil outside of a closed hair salon.When the owner let her in, she began cutting off her own hair. Then she got a couple more tattoos, and checked herself into a rehab center the next day, but only stayed a few hours. On the way out, decided to assault a photographer with an umbrella, in what looked like an incredibly bad remake of THE AMAZING COLLOSAL MAN, with her bizarre shaved head and angry grimaced face. Then when her husband, K-fed, who is often the butt of many late night comics' jokes himself, attempted to get an emergency court hearing to protect their two small children from possible harm from their erratic behaving mother, Britney worked out a deal to check back into rehab. A very disturbing dysfunctional situation with two small children caught up in a nasty child custody battle. Very unsettling and weird. Normally pop musicians record albums and do shows, not shave their head, and act totally bananas.

What a outrageous week for very disturbing news. Serious issues like Iraq were virtually put on the back burner while weird news totally ruled the week.

Political Shocker! Tom Vilsack Drops Out Of Race!

Maybe he just wasn't Vilsacky enough. Maybe his name sounded more like a medical condition than the househould name for a president of the U.S. Regardless, Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa has dropped out of the 2008 Democratic presidential race after facing huge problems raising money.

Politics is a cruel game, where even the well qualified and serious candidates for office simply cannot be elected without the pursestrings needed to run the race. It is expected that any candidate who cannot raise at least $100 million by the end of the year for the Democratic nomination may almost certainly face elimination and not able to mount a serious attempt. Tom Vilsack is likely to only be the first of the dropouts, with Joseph Biden and others only likely to follow, maybe even before the first primary.

One thing is nearly certain, by this same time in 2008, both the Democratic and Republican nominess should be virtually certain to have been chosen. Boy, oh boy, what a long two years that it's going to be.

Friday, February 23, 2007

VW Becomes Latest Automaker To Say No Thanks To Purchasing Chrysler

VW has now become the third automaker to refuse to want to purchase the Chrysler division from German owner Daimler, following a refusal by RenaultNissan and Hyundai. Chrysler may prove to be a harder sale than anticipated because of fears of the slow collapse in American manufacturing although the huge market for automobiles in general is a very desirable goal of any world automaker. And although some automobile workers in Europe earn very good wages, where unions are far stronger than in the U.S., still some automobile companies may not like the current contracts that American UAW workers have negotiated. Buyouts and layoffs have become common among the U.S. automakers looking to trim costs or to downsize to profitability.

Is Chrysler headed the way of so many former U.S. automobile brands that have collapsed over time? It is not known at this point. But while U.S. automakers such as GM, Ford and Chrysler have been in a retreat mode in the last few years, other automakers such as Toyota and Honda with large scale American production plants have done extremely well by comparison. Part of the problem is customer perceptions of quality, technology and style, which have only tended to hurt U.S. automakers in recent years, although most U.S. autos are given a quality rating only slightly behind some Japanese and South Korean brands, and ahead of the quality of many European automobiles, yet this has not translated into better sales.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Insurgent's Crude Chemical Bombs Create More Fear Than Conventional Bombs

Just the mention of a chemical bomb brings to mind greater fears than that of conventional explosives. Yet chemical bombs generally will kill or seriously injure far less persons than conventional warheads do. The chlorine based bombs have caused few deaths so far, but are a serious psychological weapon for creating fear in the Shiite community in Baghdad.

Even the large supply of chemical warheads that Saddam Hussein once had were generally far less effective than what conventional explosives are. Chemical warheads generally are only highly toxic in a very small area as the air tends to rapidly dilute their deadly effects.

With a large supply of chlorine available for cleaning drinking water, insurgents and terrorists have a ready supply of this chemical. Other chemical weapons could involve pesticides or even mustard gas, none of which are good substances by any means, but both still less dangerous in general than high explosive TNT or other conventional explosives. But for creating a new climate of fear in the Shiite community, these Sunni terrorists have found a new weapon that will create fear and more distrust of the both the U.S. and Iraqi government security efforts, and only further undermiine any public confidence to provide safety and security.

Pepsi Plans To Intoduce New High Caffeine Diet Cola

As if young people cannot find enough addictive and habit forming chemicals out there to ingest, Pepsi Cola is now planning to launch a high caffeine version of their diet cola very soon. Caffeine addiction can be a very difficult habit forming substance to break away from, and the inclusion of so much of this habit forming substance can only lead to a few problems among those with caffeine addiction habits.

Caffeine can offer a temporary boost in energy. However, compared to getting a proper diet and enough quality vitamins, especially from the B vitamin group such as B12, caffeine makes a very poor substitute.

The best thing to do is to eat well, and avoid too much dependence on habit forming drugs such as caffeine.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

David Geffen Ignites Tensions Between Clinton And Obama Campaigns

Both candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have done their best today to quiet tensions raised between the campaigns when mega-wealthy Hollywood producer, David Geffen, threw out incendiary words about the Clintons. Geffen is a hig profile backer of Senator Barack Obama, but the Senator was hardly interested in Geffen's bait to attack the Clinton's. Hillary Clinton also dis her best to calm tensions as well.

This is part of the problem when high profile large campaign backers make outrageous statements. They are not official spokespersons for the the campaigns, however they feel that their large contributions somehow gives them near spokesperson status.

Besides high profile politics, Geffen, who is openly Gay, is a major contributor to AIDS benefits and often uses his money to fund charity or other major public efforts.

NBA Great Charles Barkley Preparing For Possible Bid For Governor Of Alabama

Charles Barkley is laying the groundwork for a possible bid for governor of Alabama. Barkley has reportedly purchased a home in Alabama, and is possiby intending to wait for the seven year residency rule to pass which may make it as late as 2014 for Barkley to mount his campaign.

Barkley did lean Republican in the past, and considers himself an independent, But Barkley is supporting Senator Barack Obama this year, and hold favorable views of both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, although he considers the Democrats as a whole as not much better than the Republicans.

All of this tends to lead to the view that Barkley will either run as an independent candidate or else seek the Democratic nomination.

Barkley's very honest and upfront style will probably impress far more voters than not. Voters likely will warmly respond to this brash open and honest style as deeply refreshing. Barkley could become a major political force in the future, setting a new standard for political honesty, as well as becoming the first African-American governor of Alabama.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tobacco Companies Prove The Difficulty Of Suing Big Corporations For Dangerous And Defective Products

After being able to use legal stall tactics to drag out a lawsuit for 11 years in the courts, big tobacco was able to win a big victory in the U.S. Supreme Court by insisting that a small technical point in a lawsuit brought on behalf of a widow whose husband died of cancer from smoking was not mentioned to the jury in the case.

The case was won in the U.S. Supreme Court by big tobacco by claiming that the jury was not informed that they could not award punitive damages on behalf of other smoking victims who were not part of the original lawsuit. However, one of the original jurors claimed that the huge $79.5 million dollar punitive damage award to the widow was not awarded on behalf of other smoking victims, but on behalf of the original lawsuit by the widow. Yet big tobacco carried the day with a strange coalition of conservative and liberal justices formed on both sides. By a narrow 5-4 margin, big tobacco was able to return the lawsuit back to Oregon courts, and a new attempt to kill this lawsuit will then be mounted by big tobacco lawyers. Such is the big problem of attempting to sue a big corporation like the tobacco industry that markets dangerous and defective products that kill 50% of all users when used as directed.

History Repeats Itself For British Role in MidEast

In 1922, after oil was disovered in defeated portion of the former Turkish Ottoman Empire affiliated area now known as "Iraq", British Prime Minister Winston Churchill reportedly drew up a hasty occupation map for British forces in a hotel room one night, beginning an ill fated history of British involvement in the MidEast area.

Now British forces plan to start a withdrawal from the Basra area of Iraq, mainly due to political problems back home with a shaky Labour Party situation and outging leader, Prime Minister Tony Blair. It is not that that the British have left the Basra area in good hands by turning over many police or military duties to the iraqis; quite the contrary, often British simply handed policing duties over to police stations soon to be overrun or even controlled by miliitia group elements or other undesirable elements. Britain once again finds itself facing political pressures at home because of MidEast policy, and is only acting politically.

Back home in Britain, a new poll puts the Labour Party at a mere 29% public support with Finance Minister Gordon Brown as leader. The Conservatives now command a huge 42% with their party leader, David Cameron. The smaller Liberal Democrats and their leader, Menzies Campbell only draw 17% support. The decision to draw down British forces in Iraq is heavily tilted towards shoring up sagging Labour Party fortunes back home more than any real "mission accomplished" in Iraq.

Britain faced many problems in the MidEast since their 1922 occupation of Iraq, including criticism of only allowing limited amounts of European Jews to emigrate to safety in Palestine during WWII, continued conflict in Iraq that lasted until the 1958 rebellion, the rise of Gamal Nasser in Egypt and the growing Arab Socialist movement, and the ill-fated Suez Canal Crisis in which the U.S. was tied down with the tense Soviet Cold War situation in Hungary in 1956 and could not act to back up the British, allowing Britain and France a very shallow military victory, but cetainly not a political one. In fact Britain was heavily damaged politically by the Suez Canal Crisis political fallout.

Now Britain finds itself in a similiar MidEast bind once again. Political pressure is forcing Britain to withdrawal some forces to satisfy war critics back home, while Afghanistan is only worsening as Spring is expected to bring fresh Taliban and Al Qaeda attacks demanding the need for more British forces to back up slender NATO and U.S. units.

One thing is nearly certain. As some British forces withdraw from Iraq, more American troops will be needed to fill in in Basra. So far the Iraqi units are not completely dependable to act independently from militia groups or death squad violence. The plans for Iraqis to manage their own security still go largely unfulfilled in Basra as British troops claim something of a politically based technical "victory" and begin to go home or to Afghanistan.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Iranian Navy Testing U.S. Navy Near Iraq's Oil Port

The Iranian Navy is doing little to ease tensions between Tehran and Washington with some new Iranian Navy patrols near the main Iranian oil port facility to test American Navy responses. With tensions so high in the region, Iran should be careful not to provoke a situation that could lead to military miscalculation of some sort. The leadership in Tehran should be careful not to allow the war of words escalate into an actual shooting event of some type that could be very difficult to roll back.

The Iranian Navy is actually the weakest of the Iranian military branches, and would be little match for the U.S. Navy. However, Iran does own a number of potent antiship missiles including a smaller landlaunched one that did heavy damage to an Israeli Navy ship in the beginning days of the conflict in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah.

The MidEast does not need more provocation, and the Iranian Navy should be careful not to add to the high tensions in the region with these new activities.

Mitt Romney Heckled For His Mormon Religion

In an unfortunate public event, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was heckled by a man for his Mormon religion. And although his religion holds many strange beliefs compared to most churches that claim to be Christian, this type of public religious intolerance is simply outrageous.

Some of the beliefs that set Mormonism apart from mainstream Christian churches include a heavy use of Freemasonry images and symbols in the Mormon temples and the wearing of a type of spiritual underware that has Freemasonry type occultic images on it. Joseph Smith, one of the founders of this faith was known to have been a Freemason at one time and apparently brought many aspects of this organization into this new faith, including secret handshakes and other unusal rituals often kept secret from the public or new converts to the faith until after their baptism. One unusual ritual involves a Baptism of the dead.

Unlike other Christian churches which believe in one God, where even those that believe in the trinity concept, still adhere to a single God belief, Mormonism believes in many Gods and that individuals can even become Gods. Mormonism also teaches that God was once a man, but became God, and has a father and a grandfather.

Another interesting belife of Mormonism is that Jesus and Lucifer were somehow spirit brothers. Old time Mormons were known for polygamy, and even a Mormon belifef claims that God has many wives. And the Book Of Mormon is presented as a companion book for the Bible, although there are many passages in the Book Of Mormon that are in conflict with Scripture from the Bible.

Many Christians consider Mormonism to be a cult, and don't really consider it a mainstream Christian church. However, freedom of religion should definately entitle persons to worship or believe as they see fit, and the intolerance of the heckler who taunted Mitt Romney today has no place in a society like the U.S. built on religious tolerance.

Korean Hyundai Not Interested In Chrysler Purchase

One possible suitor to purchase the ailing Chrysler Corporation division from Daimler was South Korea's Hyundai. But new reports claim that Hyundai is not interested. This could be a bad sign that enough negatives exist with Chrysler that the company is unattractive for purchase by major firms.

GM is also holding some talks with Chrysler, but these appear to more limited to a mutual minivan project. All of this seems to open the way for a Chinese automobile maker that is interested in both a turnaround project and in getting a tow-hold in the American market may be the most likely suitor for a deal to purchase Chrysler from Daimler. A deal could come within weeks now that the feelers are out that Daimler is interested in cutting Chrysler free.

Furniture Quality Standards Take Big Hit In Bush Years

Consumers took a huge hit during the Bush Administration years, with the triple whammy of a Republican White House, Senate and Congress, that allowed various business groups to write their own legislation that weakened consumer quality, protections, or other important issues related to the welfare of the consumer.

One virtually unknown change for the worst for consumers was when the furniture industry was able to rewrite it's own industry standards regulations and furniture quality has taken a real hit. Now furniture often advetised as cherry, oak or mahogany, is often only made of pressed wood products with a very thin cherry, oak or mahogany finish, and not actually really made from these beautiful quality woods. These far cheaper pressed wood materials are simply an outright embarrassment compared to actual furniture of high quality. One religious group, the Shakers, used to built high quality wood products that would last for generations. Chairs and other items more than 100 years old built by the shakers still exist today. How many pressed wood products with only a cherry, oak or mahogany finish will last 100 or more years?

But just like the credit card industry that was able to write it's own bankruptcy law regulations in the last congress, the furniture industry, and many other industry interest groups including energy groups like coal and oil have held tremedous power in the last congress and with the White House. At least the new Democratic congress is allowing more consumer friendly hearings, such as the recent hearings in the Senate Banking Committee in which Chairman Senator Christopher Dodd is concerned with predatory mortgage companies.

If Britney Thinks That Life Is Tough, Then Try Living Like A Lot Of Folks

Some modern celebrities sometimes act like it's just so tough to be worth millions of dollars, able to live in mansions, drive high buck automobiles, wear the latest designs, eat anything they want in any restaurant that they want. But what about life being tough for those who can't hardly afford rent, or are even homeless, living in their car in the cold. Those that don't have enough to eat. Those that have to rely on public health care, that exempts many needed treatments, only allowing basic procedures or disallowing needed dental coverage.

Celebrities sometimes claim that their life of extreme privilege is so darn tough. Well cry me a river. This "Marie Annoinette" view of the world seems so insenstive to the sufferings of the poor.

Instead of spending money so conspicously, and acting like life is somehow so tough, some like Britney Spears could maybe learn how to be grateful for their blessings and maybe want to share them with others.

Actor Danny Thomas was a good example. He prayed to the Saint of the impossible, St. Jude for work when he was a struggling actor, and was so grateful for his blessings that he helped to found the St. Jude Hospital which provides absolutely free of charge needed medical care for very sick children. Many modern celebrities in this day and age have forgotten about little things such as prayer, giving back thanks to God for their blessings and sharing with the poor.

Some good values just should never go out of style.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Only U.S. built Automobiles At Today's Daytona 500 Are The Toyota Camry Cars

Believe it or not, at today's NASCAR Daytona 500 race only the Toyota Camry are the only American built automobiles in the race. The popular Chevrolet Monte Carlo is built in Canada where labor is cheaper. And the Ford Fusionis is built in Mexico where the labor is even cheaper yet.

Such is the state of American labor, that they are only building a Japanese named automobile in the first and biggest NASCAR race of the year, and not a single U.S. nameplate automobile.

Slavery; The World's Greatest Growth Industry

Most persons in the Western world think of slavery as some old time invention of British and American evil that exploited manily Blacks from Africa for workers for a profit machine that churned out tobacco or cotton. But slavery is not only around in the world, but now bigger than ever, involving as many as 27 million slaves worldwide including persons sold as slaves from Darfur for as little as $10, children or young women forced to work as prostitutes in brothels, worker families permanently forced as workling an endentured labor for some sort of company store or business arrangement, and human trafficking.

It would be great to think that some major slavery opponents such as William Wilberforce, Fredrick Douglas or Abraham Lincoln broke the back of the slavery industry in Britain and the U.S. But instead, many nations in the developing world still have thriving business interests that profit by slavery. The sheer joy of Valentine's Day should be tempered that much of the world cocoa supply is harvested by either child labor or family slavery.

A new film about the life of William Wilberforce and John Newton, the former evil slave owner, turned Christian who opposed slavery, and who wrote the great hymn Amazing Grace is due out in theatres. Hopefully this will lead to a new discussion of the evils of slavery and renew the world community to stamp out this very evil and unfortunately growing form of human exploitation.

Britney Shears. Oh, Baby Baby!

You'd certainly think that the tragic death of the trainwreck known as Anna Nicole Smith would send a loud shot across the bow of Britney Spears to quickly get her life in order. But no. The weirdness just keeps getting worse and will now be the center of entertainment talk as well as late night comic jokes as Britney Spears apparently in a state of anger and disgust ordered a hair cutting salon to cut off all her hair, and when they attempted to refuse, she began to do it herself, and then got two new tattoos, and appeared to be wearing a Star Of David on a neck chain. This new weird and creepy behavior seemed just one step sort of joining a weird group like the Manson cult and putting a swastika on her forehead.

Already, some enterprising Ebay dealers are claiming to offer locks of Britney Spears hair for obscenely high prices. Whether these are indeed really her hair or merely locks of their own or their dog's hair is a good question. But this seems like a good time for the buyer to be wary.

Psychologists will have a field day and be in high employment by the entertainment reporters for the next few days analysing this new goofy and erratic behavior on the part of Ms. Spears. Some stories emerged last week that she was both in and out of some sort of rehab.

And not least, the record company and other major handlers of Spears recording and entertainment interests and contracts cannot be very happy at all at her new look which only hurts her marketability. If anything, Spears may have now crossed the line where no real comeback as an entertainer is now possible and she will only remain in the public eye as an aspect for public amusement and a subject of public laughter. This is deeply sad for this entertainer who once sold massive amounts of CDs, held big concert tours, but now is only in the news for her nonstop goofy public stunts.

Just like the tragic lives of Marilyn Monroe and Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears needs to get her life very quickly in some semblence of order before it takes some accidental tragic turn. Erratic persons often tend to abuse alcohol or some sort of drugs, add to this anger or depression, and a serious mix exists that could result in some accidental tragedy. The real friends of Britney Spears need to step up on her behalf and help her cope and get her life on track very soon. Her new anger that she doesn't want to be touched and left alone, and her new new bald look are simply a sheer cry for help. She endangers what freindships she has with this sort of attitude, when real friends are what she really needs at this point.

Senate Resolution To Debate Iraq Surge Resolution Falls Short

Yesterday with just 56 votes, a resoltion in the Senate to begin a debate on the surge resolution fell short. But in many ways far more than simply this resolution fell short. What's missing is a very serious discussion in Congress about the war in Iraq, and offering some solutions that can restablize this nation enough that both Iraqi security is greatly improved, and most U.S. troops can leave Iraq. By this time, the 2003 Bush Administration and Pentagon war planners had actually expected that only 5,000 U.S. troops would remain in Iraq.

Up until today, the security situation had looked a little bit better in Iraq, with dead bodies with torture signs down to just 10 a day from the normal 40 to 50 a day. Today 3 car bombs hit Baghdad and the nearby Sadr City area. Perhaps insurgents merely held their powder to access the new security crackdown, and then found some holes in this security, and have been able to exploit them in these three new confidence shattering attacks.

But signs are that in general that sectarian violence is increasing into a serious regional problem as the result of the botched 2003 Iraq War policy of the Bush Admininstration. Iran has become the battle front in this expanding regional war of sectarian conflict, not only with claims of arms into Iraq, but also two spectacular attacks by Sunni insurgents associated with Al Qaeda targeting both Iran's Revolutionary Guards and an Iranian girls's school with terrorist bombings this week. Signs are that the war in Iraq has only unleashed Sunni vs. Shiite violence in the region, where Iran and Saudi Arabia may both become actively involved if the U.S. should leave Iraq, only creating a further power vacuum and struggle for power between the Sunni and Shiite Muslim world and a far more serious war in the region.

The UN has 15 peacekeeping missions in the world to prevent a steep slide into violence in many critical areas involving more than 80,000 troops and civilian staff including such nations as China, Denmark and El Salavador. As long as the U.S. is involved with boots on the ground in Iraq, and has been entirely responisible for all the instability problems in Iraq, then certasinly as General Colin Powell once claimed, that if we "break it", we will own it.

The debate in Congress seeems to ignore answers to preventing an increasing sectarian war in Iraq, and instead seems to have degenerated down to a basicly dumb debate of those so digusted with the war in Iraq, that they are willing to pull out U.S. troops out as quickly as possible, despite the huge growing humanitarian and regional possibility of war consequences, and another dumb debate that simply seeks to offer political support to the Bush Administration for giving the U.S. and Iraq this terrible war.

Why the debate about this war isn't far more intelligent in Congress, and debating some solutions, not just some sentiment that things went bad in Iraq, we want out as soon as possible despite whatever problems it creates, or silly cheerleading for the Bush Administration is a very good question. But Iraq is a very serious problem that deserves a very wise discussion to restabilize the region to stop the growing sectarian problem and to leave Iraq in reasonable condition so that U.S. troops can safely exit without setting up the region for next big war.

If a regional war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia results and the Western world loses their oil supply from the MidEast and you cannot get gasoline to drive your car, or heating oil for your home, and the Western world gets sucked into a possible huge regional war because of this sectarain conflict in Islam, then little has been gained by the U.S. leaving only a power vacuum in Iraq. The U.S. clearly must leave some stability behind in Iraq, and some political resolution in place to prevent growing sectarism. This should be the center of the debate in Congress, not just political grandstanding by both sides that seems empty of any real discussion of some solutions so that U.S. troops can safely exit without creating more problems for the region. Otherwise the U.S. could certainly find themselves sucked back into the region before very long in a very big way if the growing sectarian conflict spreads into a huge regional war.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tim Hardaway's Bigoted Remarks Cast Nasty Shadow Over The NBA All Star Weekend

Tim Hardaway's ugly remarks of bigotry related to the revelation of former NBA star John Amaechi that he is Gay have cast an ugly shadow of dishonor on the NBA All Star Weekend event in Las Vegas this weekend. Although Hardaway has attempted to apologize, still the damage from his ugly remarks remains.

The blunt statements of outright ignorance even greatly offended former NBA great, Charles Barkley who resented that an African-American man would make such prejudiced comments against another oppressed minority. Barkley has tended to lean both conservative and Republican in some previous years, but a little more Democratic recently as a reaction to the failed Bush Administration policies. But Barkley was raised in a conservative community, and these values are still strong in his life.

Unfortunately, as ugly as Hardaway's statements certainly were, The Ace, over at seemed to offer some support to the words of Hardaway along with some of the usual readers. This is very regrettable. A person would expect persons with any education at all not to make such awful remarks about a minority group like Gay Americans. But the sheer racism of The Ace became very clear when he even went on to state, "I'd love to watch the sodomites call Blacks, another protected minority, bigots publicly. Pass the popcorn". This is an extremely ignorant and racist comment considering the level of injustice that African-Americans have put up including being sold into slavery, hauled in chains in slave ships, facing severe beatings, being forbidden medical care or education, facing job discrimnation, wage discrimination, unfair arrests and police or sheriff beatings, and other class abuses.

And the dehumanizing language of calling Gay American "sodomites", merely reducing them down to some function of their sexual organs is a completely disgusting comment. But such is the limited mentality of some social retards who deny Gay Americans the same civil rights as other Americans, or the right to form civil unions or even a marriage.

Tim Hardaway probably unfortunately represents the views of many Americans. And this is deeply regrettable. When even a conservative leaning athlete like Charles Barkley who was raised in conservative Bible belt Alabama can learn to treat Gay Americans with justice and equality, then others should follow his example and grow beyond prejudice against this minority group.

House passes Nonbinding AntiSurge Resolution by A Vote of 246-182

As expected, and largely along party lines the U.S. passed a nonbinding resolution supporting the troops, but critical of the surge of 21,500 U.S. troops and additional support staff to better secure Iraq. 229 Democrats and just 16 Republicans voted to support the nonbinding resolution. Just 2 Democrats and 180 Republicans voted against the resolution. 2 Democrats and 4 Republicans did not vote.

While it is a fact that a wide majority of Americans have become critical of this war, still the Baghdad surge does represent a specific security mission to control the number of car bombings and violence level in Baghdad and does not differ much with any of the other 15 UN peacekeeping missions in the world troublespots. With the report that radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr may have fled to Iran recently as a result of this security crackdown and surge, and some violence levels in Baghdad down slightly as a result of this new security crackdown, it might be said that this specific policing action may be having some slight results. However this is not to say that all the problems in Iraq, including political or the growing sectarian divisions and hatred are advancing at all. In fact the car bombing by a Sunni Al Qaeda associated organization in Iran yesterday is a sure sign that the sectarian violence of Iraq is extending beyond it's borders. Further, any past moves to better areas of Iraq have always been met with insurgents better adopting to the American efforts. Time will tell the relative success of thses new security measures in Baghdad.

Even if the new security measures and U.S. troop surge help the security situation in Baghdad somewhat, the Bush Administration should refrain from claiming any real measure of success overall in Iraq. The policies of this administration have greatly destabilized both Iraq and the MidEast region in general, and sectarian violence still is a great danger to widen this conflict into a regional one, involving both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Undoubtably the Bush Administration may attempt to claim some credit if the new security measures and the surge better secure just the city of Baghdad. But how to leave the MidEast in as good of a condition as it was before the 2003 war is a far more vexing issue.

Government Push To High Definition Will Ban Shipments Of Analog Only TV Devices After February 28.

A very important deadline will pass this February 28, when many television devices such as VCRs, DVRs or even TVs cannot be shipped any longer with an analog only tuner, and must have a ATSC tuner capable of receiving over the air HDTV signals. After March 1, all TVs sold regardless of picture size will have to have an ATSC tuner included. Only monitors, such as many projection or plasma sets are free from this requirement as they have a signal that is fed to the TV system by a nonbuilt-in tuner.

But by February 19, 2009, a provision in a Senate passed budget bill included a provision that ends over-the-air analog broadcasts by the TV stations, making almost all existing TVs go dark unless a person has a converter box. Lawmakers claim that the government will help to subsidize lower income persons with older equipment with a converter unit so their older equipment will be able to receive the new HDTV broadcasts. But for now, most persons still have the older style analog tuners in home video entertainment equipment.

But for present owners of TVs, VCRS and DVD recorders, a big change is coming, and lower income persons not able to afford these big changes could still get caught up in older equipment that is useless and not able to really afford the change. A big change is coming, but is it really for the best?

FCC Report Could Lead To Censorship Of Popular Programs Such As 24, CSI, Etc.

A disturbing decision in a new FCC report compiled at the request of a group of 39 bipartisan lawmakers, suggests that government may walk all over artistic creativity and the Bill Of Rights and pass legislation limiting when programming with violent content may be aired. This report has to send chills up the spines of writers, producers and programmers of such extremely popular dramas such as 24, CSI, BONES, or other programs with gruesome or violent activity depicted that air before 10 PM. Some Networks such as FOX would be caught up in a box, as their very popular 24 and BONES programs which air in the 8-10 slots, as FOX only airs programming before 10PM on the networks.

The megahit for CBS, CSI airs at 9PM on Thursday nights, and might be forced into a 10PM time slot by any government "do-gooder" meddling in freedom of expression. But FOX would be boxed into a corner of either moving to a longer network schedule each night or else having to air programs like 24 on cable. Some other popular programs like THE UNIT or LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT could either be forced into the 10PM timeslot on their respective networks or else face cancelled or heavy content censorship by government. And government "do-gooder" meddling might even lead to the cancellation of some programs that are sort of on a ratings "bubble".

Government hysterias have created excessive fines and free speech meddling for claimed vague FCC "decency" violations. WITHOUT A TRACE, the popular missing person crime drama has been the subject of a hysterica FCC censorship campaign for the last few years because of a brief scene that FCC officials claim violated their own vague "decency" standards. This brief scene has wasted both government and CBS legal assets for years now.

Government needs to get the message loud and clear, that million of TV viewers like TV just fine and don't need government to fix what isn't broken. Nielsen ratings clearly prove that crime dramas have an adult audience of viewers, and very little appeal to children. There is no clear cut evidence suggesting that TV violence encourages antisocial conduct. Viewers that have made programs such as CSI or 24 into the megahits that they are have already voted with viewing habits what they expect to see on TV. If lawmakers cannot understand this message then they need to be voted out of office and replaced with legislators whose brains are able to comprehend this very simple concept. TV is fine the way it is. Government censorship is not needed. TV ratings and V-chip technology already exist as a guide to parents, and more layers of government regulation are not needed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chrysler's Problems May Open The Path For A Chinese Automaker Into the U.S.

When Daimler purchased Chrysler for $40 billion dollars it was expected to give the German automaker an additional source of profit as well as a path for more Daimler produced vehicles. Instead, Daimler simply purchased a huge financial drag on their international automobile enterprise, that Daimler may even consider cutting free and selling in the near future. No real American interests exist to purchase what is seen as a corporation in the same declining mess as both Ford and GM. This leaves either Renault of France or some Chinese automobile maker as the most likely to attempt to purchase Chrysler and turn the company around.

Renault's attempts at a toehold in the American marketplace have always ended in failure in the past, despite a good attempt to organize a dealer network with a great in-stock parts inventory for customer support. 1960's and early 70's Renaults featured replacable engine cylinder sleeves that made an engine overhaul far cheaper and easier than most brands that had to be rebored during a major overhaul, yet American buyers never warmed to Renault products, with most of the older models seriously underpowered and really built for European high gas price markets. Even the 1980's attempt to purchase a 49% share of American Motors did little good for either company, and if anything was the final event that led to the collapse and final purchase of the company by Chrysler.

Chinese companies have proven themselves master at buying the collapsed financial assets of other Western companies and turning these companies around financially, avoiding all the upstart difficulties of building an entirely new company from the ground up. And now that Chrysler is probably worth less than half of the $40 billion purchase price by Daimler, the price seems about right for a wealthy Chinese company to make this company the latest Chinese venture to turn around and to gain a place in the U.S. market for Chinese automobiles.

Chery in China has seen amazing sales and production growth and is supposed to manufacture a new small car for Chrysler, the Dodge Hornet. But a company like Chery may be in just the right position to consider a purchase bid for Chrysler and go full bore at expanding into the U.S. market in more than just producing a small import for Chrysler to market in it's still powerful number of existing dealers in their marketing network.

Muqtada al-Sadr's Possible Flight To Iran Illustrates The Dangers Of Sectarian Conflict Expansion Beyond The Borders Of Iraq

The possible flight of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to Iran may well illustrate that the sectarian conflict in Iraq may well be expanding beyond the borders of Iraq. Likely al-Sadr has been seeking military supplies for his Mahdi Army militia organization from supporters in Iran for quite some time, whether from private persons or groups, or from major clergy or government supporters. To operate from a base outside of a nation to promote a revolution and seizing power is straight from the old playbook of the Ayatollah Khomeini, who safe from danger in Paris helped to organize the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Iran has been a popular refuge point for both major Shiite clerics who vie for the top political power in Iraq. Both Ali al-Sistani and Muqtada al-Sadr have found Iran to be an important ally for their political goals which both seek to make Iraq a Shiite dominated theocracy to the greater extent, even more so for Muqtada al-Sadr, who would no doubt be far more rigid in his contol yet.

But yesterday's car bombing by an organization associated with Al Qaeda in Iran proves the intentions of Sunni religious extremists to carry the sectarian fight in Iraq beyond the borders of Iraq into neighboring Iran. And interests in Saudi Arabia have been funding Sunni leaders and most likely insurgent organizations within Iraq as the sectarian conflict in Iraq begins to become a proxy war by the competing Sunni and Shiite interests in the region, which could eventually spill over the borders of Iraq into a full blown regional sectarian war involving both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Rather than securing the oil supplies in Iraq, thought to be the world's largest at 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil, the Bush war policy in Iraq neither brought more oil to the world market, in fact a drop of at least 900,000 barrels a day from Iraq, or stability and security to Iraq. Instead the MidEast is now so unstable as a result of the grossly failed Bush policy towards Iraq, that a serious expanding sectarian war with competing Shiite and Sunni interests threatens to disrupt the entire oil supply from the MidEast in the future, making necessary two U.S. aircraft carriers and Patriot missiles to U.S. ally states in the region.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Not Very Romantic View Of Chocolate

Chocolate is a Valentine's Day favorite. But some not very romantic problems surround this holiday favorite. Cocoa beans are under great political pressures in nations such as The Ivory Coast where thousands of UN peacekeepers and French soldiers have to stand between the warring rebels and the government. This puts great strains on the supply of cocoa beans for esport. In Ghana, another very poor African nation, child labor is often used to harvest the crop, and entire families caught in a cycle of poverty. Major companies that profit from cocoa have mostly refused to buy from Fair Trade farmers, so the cycle of poverty and exploitation remains largely intact. A nation like Ghana has cocoa as 40% of it's exports. The Ivory Coast produces 43% of the world supply of cocoa.

In addition, Brazil, a smaller, but still strong producer of cocoa is facing weather conditions destructive to the cocoa crop and production will certainly suffer. As a result of all of these problems, chocolate candy makers are expected to either raise prices or shrink the size of their candy bars again very soon.

Sorry. Not a very romantic picture. Sounds like "Debbie Downer". But happy St. Valentine's Day regardless.

Former Railroad Lobbyist, Senator John Thune, Slips $3.5 Billion Dollar Railroad Industry Loan Into Bill

Senator John Thune(R-SD) has proven how the revolving door works in Washington. Thune was a former Congressman, then turned lobbyist for for 18 months for Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad. Now as U.S. Senator, Thune slips in a $3.5 billion dollar loan in a bill for a railroad project that will mainly benefit D,M&E, coal mines and power company interests as the loan will fund a 880 mile railroad project linking power companies who use coal to generate electricity to coalmines in Wyoming.

It could be argued that the public will derive some benefit by the coal mine to pwer plant railroad project. But at the same time, the role of a former employee of a company as a lobbyist then writing expensive legislation to benefit that industry is an issue of questionable revolving door politics.

Democratic Senator Mark Dayton(D-MN) is not amused by all of this, and intends to write a new bill to tighten the rules involving this revolving door lobbyist and legislator brand of politics that costs the public so much money in high budget pork projects.

Possible Terrorism Role Ignored In Utah Mall Shooting

For political reasons, there appears to to be the nature to ignore the role of freelance, non Al Qaeda related terrorism in terrible events in the U.S since 9/11 by the White House or by the The Office Of Homeland Security. Indeed even much of the press and police agencies seem to ignore this role of freelance terrorism as well. Events such as fatal shootings at Jewish centers, deliberate attacks with automobiles of pedestrians, and even the mall shooting in Utah this week seem to be ignored when angry Muslims are involved in causing the violence out of hate. In Israel by comparison, these events would nearly all classify as acts of terrorism.

There is likely some political moltivation on the part of the White house to claim that since 9/11, "no acts of terrorism" have taken place on american soil. Yet a number of isolated events, moltivated by anger and hate on behalf of Muslims not affiliated with Al Qaeda have taken place in the U.S., yet no one, the White House, press, police, etc., seem to acknowledge these acts of anger and violence as freelance terrorist acts. There appears to be some near conspiracy to perpetuate a myth that no terrorism has taken place on American soil, which only serves the political purposes of the White House on one hand, but on the other hand leads to lax security outside of air travel. Better mall security could prevent a wide number of crimes that take place in malls, and even limit problems such as shoplifting, etc.

Police and others claim that they don't seem to know the cause of this week's mall shooting in Salt Lake City, Utah. And indeed the details are sketchy. Yet the young man was from Bosnia, which almost certainly means that he is a Muslim. And his anger was expressed by the murders of innocent persons at a public shopping mall. Yet there is effort to see this as an act of freelance terrorism or to improve mall security.

Salt Lake City, Utah has a very small African-American community, and one young man from this small community who was merely shopping at the mall was very lucky when a bullet simply grazed his head, taking off some hair, instead of entering his skull and killing him. It would have been easy to be another victim of the mall gunman when a bullet misses you by only a fraction of an inch.

Why some innocent people are targeted by angry Muslim gunmen is a good question. But both the randomness of the violence and the intended targets appear to only targets meant to fulfill the rage and anger of some radical or angry Muslims who blame the U.S., Jews, the American government, or anything else for their perceived problems or the cause of their anger. Some members of the Muslim community apparently don't well assimulate into American culture, just like the frictions in Britain and Europe. This poor assimulation leads to a sense of isolation in which the roots of anger and violence may grow. This remains a steady danger as political and military events in the MidEast may moltivate some of these alienated persons to strike out who feel they are not really a member of the larger American culture and melting pot.

Iranian Military Target Of Car Bombing In Iran

As yet another sign of expanding conflict in the MidEast an Al Qaeda associated organization has targeted members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard in a car bombing, killing at least 12 members of this military organization, and six more civilians. A bus was torn apart in the bombing.

With Iranian support for Shiite militia organizations within Iraq, Al Qaeda's support for some Sunni insurgents was likely at issue in the expansion of this Al Qaeda associated organization's attack in Iran. Now the makings of a larger regional war outside of Iraq is beginning to jell together if warfare begins to take place outside of Iraq. Countries such as Iran and Saudi arabiaz could easily end up on opposite sides of a larger Shiite vs. Sunni war in the MidEast, as both vie for power to represent the real face of Islam.

Thankfully there appeared to be no American role in support of the MEK associated with the terrorism in Iran, otherwise this certainly could have worsened the seriously worsening war of words between the U.S. and Iran. An MEK act of terrorism would have had American fingerprints all over it, and would have have been a serious situation that could have provoked a larger conflict.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

U.S. Agreement With North Korea Represents Failure Of Military Options For Bush Administration

The Bush Administration probably reluctantly signed on the six party agreement with North Korea as a result that the military options were off the table with the continued problems in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Some like former UN ambassador, John Bolton, are very unhappy with this political reality. But this is what it is.

The fact of the matter is the Bush administration came into power with dreams of wholesale regime changes for governments that it wanted to change in 2000 such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia. But with military power so misused in the grossly failed mission in Iraq, and the continued problems in Afghanistan where NATO is still well short of supplying the promised needed manpower, there is no U.S. manpower really left over for the more serious nuclear issues with North Korea and Iran, so at some point diplomacy becomes the reality for both hostile nations.

In reality, previous administrations would have found diplomacy, not military action the first resort. With the Bush Administration, who flexed it's military muscle way too much in such a reckless manner from so early on, this option is now effectively off the table for many situations except for the most grave emergency.

The lesson in all of this is the wise use of the military option. For years with previous administrations, careful diplomacy, not war. with the old former Soviet Union had proved itself the right option. Not because of wisdom in the Bush Administration, but because of political reality, the diplomacy option, not the military one now becomes the first option for serious vexing foreign policy problems.

Some think that Mr. Bush is ramping up for another war with Iran. But this is not likely. His powder is likely to remain dry because he squandered the proper use of U.S. military power so early on. Now only a future role for some sort of negotiations or diplomacy remains.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Putin Stokes Old "Cold War" Flames; Wrong About Why Some Nations Seek Nukes

Russian President Vladimir Putin certainly knows little about superpower diplomacy, and only stoked some old time "Cold War" sentiments with his critical views about the U.S. this weekend. Certainly a majority in the U.S. now realize what a mistake trusting Bush on Iraq was. And in the case of Afghanistan, Russia itself has taken similiar military efforts in defending itself as Chechen terrorists. It serves no useful purpose in postive relations between the U.S. or Russia for Putin to offer his recent comments. Putin cannot entirely blame a arms race in North Korea or Iran on U.S. military activity in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Nations such as North Korea or Iran are both seeking nuclear arms not entirely for any self-defense means, but also to wring concessions out of the West. Because the Bush Administration stupidly refused to sign on to a nuclear arms deal negotiated during the Clinton Administration when North Korea had only two nuclear bombs, now North Korea is asking for much more since it now has 12 or more nuclear bombs, and the six party talks in China are on the verge of collapse once again. North Korea is now seeking huge supplies of oil and electricity from the U.S. to limit their nuclear program, a far cry from the normalized relations and food aid sought under the Clinton agreement terms.

Iran at some point may also seek to extort the U.S. for some concessions once it has several bombs. Yet Iran also will not totally eliminate these weapons as they also have a dangerous warlike agenda for the future under the radical government and the ruling council of Islamic clerics. But with nuclear weapons, both North Korea and Iran are able to act like some bully seeking "protection money". And the more you pay them, the more it only rewards their outrageous activity.

Putin has it all wrong. Bully nations like North Korea and Iran develop nuclear programs because they know that they can extort money and concessions from the U.S. and the Western world. This isn't self-defense, but just old fashioned extortion.

Rudolph Giuliani Begins To Waffle To Pander To The Right Wing Of His Party

Rudolph Giuliani is beginning to take a play straight from the John "Windvane" McCain playbook, to begin to have his views blow around which ever way the political wind blows. In a recent speech, Giuliani now claims that he will only nominate "strict constructionist" judges for the Supreme Court. Meant to pander to the right wing of his Republican Party, Giuliani now sounds like he would only offer a third term of the George Bush administration, and only nominate judges based on this narrow judicial ideology rather than qualifications.

But all three major Republican candidates are becoming experts of the waffle technique. Mitt Romney retracted previous support in earlier years for Gay civil unions and for moderate abortion views, to taking a harder line on both issues to pander to the right of his party.

John McCain has completely ruined his reasonable and direct straight talk sounding dialogue of the past that made him very popular among many voters, instead opting for whatever sounds good to voters. In a recent appearance on THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW, before a live audience of college students, McCain managed to support Gay civil union one moment, then a few minutes later retracted what he said, and came out in opposition to Gay civil unions. Then he was overheard talking to a political handler and asking, "Did I get it right?".

Giuliani had some more progressive views on some issues such immigration than many in his party. Likely Giuliani will now begin to waffle on those issues as well as he seeks to pander to conservative audiences in his quest for the presidency.

For now Giuliani is seen as the most favorable of the presidential candidates among the Republicans and beats every Democrat in current potential matchups according to the latest Rasmussen polls. But likely, just like the sagging efforts of John McCain, voters will soon tire of Giuliani's two faced approach to issues, and being on all sides of issues before long.

Giuliani is only likely to sag somewhat as the campaign drags on if he begins to blow in the wind like a weathervane. But he's in good company with both McCain and Romney.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

PARADE MAGAZINE Features It's Annual Worst Dictators Issue This Weekend

PARADE MAGAZINE does a great public educational service to the American audience which overlooks the crimes against humanity that run rampant in many nations, including some major U.S. "trade partners". For financial benefit, many rotten regimes such as in China or Saudi Arabia are overlooked by the American financial community, while some in the American left seem to want to wrongly offer some apology to awful regimes like Iran, looking for any way possible to ignore their pathetic human rights abuses or huge military.

The American business comunity chooses to ignore a major manufactured goods supplier like China's human rights record because of the ready access of cheaply produced goods with low labor costs. PARADE properly noted that in a full 22 areas, China is a major human rights abuser. This not only includes restriction on freedom of speech and religion, but some executions for nonviolent crimes such as "bribery or stealing oil" according to PARADE. Yet the American business community seems unfazed by the brutality and human rights abuses of this government.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is also considered another major human rights abuser where outrageous antiChristian and Jewish textbooks are used in the schools and the Christian faith is brutally suppresed. Yet there is no move to cut off oil from a rotten regime like this from either the American government or big oil.

On the other hand, many in the American left look for ways to apologize for the rotten regime in Iran. As PARADE well noted, the real power in Iran rests with the 12-man Guardian Council of religiouus clerics such as Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, although the wacky antics of screwball Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are best known to the American public and Western world. Important human rights details such as women being stoned to death for adultery or executions of homosexuals seem to be ignored by left wing apologists for Iran, who look for any possible way to point this regime as not all that bad. The latest example is the absurdity of those who ignore that some Iranian arms are being smuggled into Iraq by some Iranians.

But even the arms smuggling issue does have some real limitations. Most arms in Iraq are likely the old arms in Iraq that the U.S. failed to secure in 2003 from the old Saddam Hussein regime that have been retrofitted, such as cannon shells into roadside bombs. Saddam Hussein's Iraq was like a giant ammo dump, with guns and shells all over the nation. Also arms smugglers from Jordan and Syria bring in more arms as well.

It is an open secret that hundreds of thousands of Iranians operate in Iraq, most peacefully involved in trade, medicine or other matters. Yet the role to deny that some arms from Iran could possiby be flowing into Iraq by either arms smugglers or by Iranian government covert activity in Iraq seems to be a major cause for some on the left. The Bush Administration perhaps hasn't conclusively proved who in Iran is directly responsible for the arms brought into Iraq, smuggled or otherwise, but proof still exists that some Iranian arms are indeed in Iraq.

The new PARADE MAGAZINE is well worth getting this weekend. Both the American business community which is mainly conservative politically as well as the political left wing that apologizes for Iran just don't have much to stand on based on the human rights records in some places like Saudi Arabia, China or Iran.

Screwball Right Perennial Figures Are Back Again

Two of the most absurd and annoying figures of the wackyl right are back again in Oregon politics. Kevin Mannix, perennial candidate for public office, and his wacky wealthy Nevada financer, Loren Parks, are writing a new slew of initiatice petitions to once again flood the Oregon ballot in 2008.

Once again, most all of the initiative petitions deal with some variation on mandatory minimum sentences, or a sort or the son of the son of the son of his "Measure 11". Another petition deals with the fourth time that Mannix has had some involvement in attempting to weaken the free speech rights of the Oregon Constitution to allow either zoning or outlawing of adult businesses such as strip clubs. 3 times in the last few years voters have said no. But apparently Mannix isn't the brightest light, and feels that voters can't possiby be right, and believes the same issue should be voted on over and over and over again.

Mannix's "tough on crime" measures are almost highly suspect. Each one deals with weakening the role of the judge in a criminal case to have sentencing leeway, and also extorts poor defendants who cannot afford a decent private attorney for a criminal case, usually costing about $80,000, to plead guilty to a lesser charge in a "plea deal" with a prosecutor, whether or not they actually committed the crime that they were charged with. In addition, any minimum sentences for crimes raise the issue of whether a defendant's right to a trial haven't been unconstitutionally limited. A judge is not allowed to weigh the evidence in the case, and instead a one sentence fits all sentence is handed down upon a guilty verdict.

Big moneyman for Mannix, Loren Parks, doesn't even live in Oregon. He lives in Nevada, yet seems to want to control how the people of that state live. Loren Parks is a wealthy right wing electronic instrument owner who builds equipment like the plethysmograph which measure male sexual arrousal, and in a local Portland, Oregon newspaper, THE WILLAMETTE WEEK, Park was referred to as the "Dirty Old (Money)Man". Parks was sued for sexual harrassment by a female employee on the grounds of attempting to pressure her sexually, and sending graphic photos, memos and jokes via email as well. Why someone who lives in Nevada with legal prostitution, strip clubs and topless reviews at the major casinos wants to bankroll Kevin Mannix to restrict adult entertainment such as strip clubs here seems like major hypocrisy.

Mannix seems to follow the same classic form. He writes absurd ballot measure initatives, often only slight variations on the same old tired themes as before, and then mounts yet another pathetic losing effort for a major state office. Even Republican primary voters are growing weary of the tiresome antics of perennial candidate for public office, Mannix, and refused to give him the nod to run for Governor last year.

Voters have unfortunately supported Mannix's crime proposals, but have turned down all three of his previous efforts to amend the Oregon Constitution and strip away freedom of speech protections for controversial free speech such as adult entertainment by similiar 53% no-47% yes margins. Yet Mannix never seems to get the clue that the public just doesn't support censorship, even if they don't particularly like some of what is done in the name of free speech. Attacking basic American values such as freedom of expression just isn't popular with most Oregon voters. But Mannix just seems to lack the mental capacity to comprehend this concept for some reason.

Mannix seems to lack enough education in basic civics to realize that the public holds values such as freedom of speech and religion as precious. Yet he believes that stripping away parts of the constitution that he doesn't like is the right course, even if the publicly strongly disagrees.

Mannix just doesn't understand how tiresome his perennial political efforts often are, and that he's not a positive or forward looking candidate acceptable to most voters in Blue state Oregon. Yet, like a bad penny, he's back, year after year.

John Force And Daughter Ashley Both Qualify For First Funny Car NHRA Drag Race Of The Year

Last year, A&E started a new reality series, DRIVING FORCE, about California drag racer John Force and his family, a wife and three daughters. This high strung race car driver who always appears to have had a little too much coffee to say the very least had no sons, but really wanted a child to follow him into the world of racing.

One of the issues with this family was that only one of his girls really wanted to follow their father into the the high energy and dangerous world of drag racing, with the cars sometimes exceeding 333 miles per hour in their blistering flight of horrific G-force down the quarter mile track. This nearly retina detaching acceleration is twice the speed of the fastest Navy jet at takeoff, and the G-force is a strain on the entire body.

Yesterday, John Force became about the happiest father ever when his 24 year old daughter, Ashley qualified at 15th spot on the 16 spot funny car ladder for the NHRA season's first race, The CARQUEST Parts Winternationals. Force could be seen waving his hat while riding a motorcycle back to grab his daughter and pick her up off the ground, shouting, "That's my baby". How many children wouldn't like to make their parents that proud.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Barack Obama Makes It Official

Senator Barack Obama made it official that he is a candidate for president today, in the same Illinois location that Abraham Lincoln once gave a speech condemning slavery, and that the U.S. cannot have two nations, one free, one enslaved.

Barack Obama is seen as pragmatic liberal. He fills an important slot for Democratic voters looking for a fresh face and an exciting alternative to Hillary Clinton. But this former law professor and Illinois state legislator still faces a serious uphill climb against the big money machine that the Clinton's are able to command. Hillary has solid support from many trial lawyer law firms, some unions, and among some elite big purse donars. Whether Barack Obama can surpass this remains a huge question.

Some of the latest polling figures from organizations such as Rasmussen suggest that Rudolph Giuliani remains the most popular of all candidates running for president with the highest favorability ratings. Only John Edwards comes eithin two points of Giuliani in one poll, as other Democratic hopefuls trail Giuliani. But Obama and Clinton do lead some other Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney. John McCain tends to losing strength, both to potential Democratic nominess as well as to Rudolph Giuliani.

Regardless of the final outcome of 2008, several firsts will be estasblished: Hillary Clinton will be the first woman candidate with a good chance of being elected president. Barack Obama will likely be the strongest African-American presidential candidate ever, probably well surpassing both the number of votes and delegates of Jesse Jackson in his failed 1988 strong bid to win the Democratic nomination. John McCain will likely be the oldest major candidate for president ever to have a strong chance of winning the Republican nomination. Rudolph Giuliani will be the first major Italian American candidate to have a strong chance of winning both the Republican nomination and the presidency. Mitt Romney may become the strongest Mormon faith candidate since Morris Udall to run for president, possiby evening surpassing his total votes or delegates. Romney is a Republican, while Udall was a Democrat.

Barack Obama trails in all national polls, and will have a very diificult time upending Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Every move of her campaign seems both careful and well choregraphed. Whether Barack Obama can match Hillary Clinton on a daily basis to seem to be a candidate of equal parity will certainly be a daily challenge. In the end, and at this point, it would appear that both Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani stand the best chance of winning their respective party nominations, with Giuliani the most likely to be elected president at this point in time.

The challenge for Barack Obama is for more persons to learn about him, and to like him. For Hillary Clinton, she needs to raise her positives with voters. For Rudolph Giuliani, the challenge is to maintain his extremely high likabilty rating with voters. For John McCain the challenge is not to lose any more ground with voters. For Mitt Romney, the challenge is to improve his likability rating, as well as cement his standing amomg the conservative block of voters in the Republican Party. But with past contradictory stands on both Gay marriage and abortion, his chances may have long since passed.

Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani really remain the two candidates to catch.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Kosovo Remains A Sore Point Between The West And Russia

Russia's Defense Minister, Sergei Ivanov, issued a warning against Kosovo indepenence on Friday, illustrating that Kosovo is yet a sore point in Western-Russian relations.

Since the 1999 war, Kosovo has been placed under official NATO peacekeeping, involving as many as 50,000 troops at times, with about 7,000 American. Moscow has been roughly satisfied at this arrangement, but has concerns that the next step, independence for Kosovo, which has to be approved by the UN Security Council, with Russia holding veto power.

Russia continues to play a softcore form of Cold War politics and is wary of independence for former Soviet Warsaw Pact states, some of whom have become NATO members. Russia is also concerned with any Western forces or missiles staged on these lands, including just antimissile systems.

It is significant that the Russian Defense Minister issued this statement, and not some other Moscow government official. If anything it illustrates that Russia still has designs that are something similiar to the old system of the Soviet Union that still exist. It also shows how while China is a far more pragmatic international player, Russia just cannot seem to advance much beyond old Soviet style leanings, where even oil has been as weapon against former Soviet empire nations who lean too far to the West.

While many nations such as China believe that trade and a growing economy are the key to world respect, Russia is still playing largely by the old rules.

Iraqi Sunni Insurgent Group Offers Absurd "Peace" Offer

An Iraqi Sunni insurgent organization, the Iraqi Sunni Islamic Resistance Movement, offered an absurd peace offer to both the U.S and the Iraqi government, which is so entirely unacceptable that it proves just how far from peace the nation actually is.

The organization is seeking to dissolve the Iraqi government, and abolish the nation's constitution, ending elections in Iraq, as well seeking freedom for 5,000 detainees, then all that the insurgent organization is willing to promise U.S. forces is a possible safe exit from Iraq. The proposal is hardly serious, and merely puts an armed extremist organization in a position for continued warfare if American and British forces leave the country.

When extremists continue to kill civilians through car bombings and other acts, nothing positive is being offered by this organization to bring peace to Iraq. But on the other hand, the Shiite dominated government hardly seems serious about serious peace talks with the Sunni community, partially because the main Shiite Cleric, Ali al-sistani has ordered Shiite parliamentary members not to givemuch power to the Sunni community. With no serious peace efforts in Iraq, the carnage will only continue.

Chinese Automobiles Jump Nearly 40% In Sales From Year Ago; Next Target Could Be U.S. Market Or Jobs

In China, as their automobile industry quickly builds production, sales jumped about 40% from last year's same sales period. At least 414,500 cars were sold in January in China. Surprisingly, the partnership of General Motors and China, Shanghai General Motors was in first place at 40,570 units compared the the entirely Chinese Chery in second place at 37,207 units. Last year, Chery was in seventh place amongst the Chinese sold automobiles, but with strong exports of 50,000 cars, Chery is well on the way to becoming China's best selling brand name and could be exporting automobiles into the American marketplace very soon, presenting yet another threat to the sagging U.S. automobile business.

Even comic John Stewart joked about how some became upset about an ad from GM first aired during the Superbowl featuring a fictional depressed and suicidal robot, yet didn't show the same concern for 35,000 real living autoworkers who lost their jobs in the U.S. with layoffs or buyouts.

Low priced labor in China has already replaced many American jobs. Whether the role of Shanghai General Motors will always be the production of automobiles solely for the Chinese market or will eventually build cars for sale in the U.s. as well is yet to be seen. But part of the future threat to American automobile jobs could come from "outsourcing" of this type.

If history is any guide, China should soon be following both Japan and South Korea as a major future source of export automobiles to the U.S. market, and a further threat to American jobs.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Iran Threatens Worldwide Terrorism If U.S. Strikes

Iran is in it's second day of war games and saber rattling exercises. Iran is testing a new antiship missile it claims can destroy warships 200 miles away and new antimissile missiles it claims can strike down eight targets at a time. Whether these are true new Iranian military capability ir simply bluster is not immediatedly known. But Iran does have a large and effective core or scientists, many involved in military technology. It's military is by far the largest and most powerful outside of Israel.

Iran also issued a threat to the U.S. to use worldwide terrorism against U.S. targets if the U.S. should strike at them. Iran has been known to use world wide embassy staff to give intelligence to terrorist cells in places like NY before. The other 190 nations do not use their embassy staff to organize terrorist cells like Iran has consistently done.

It's deeply serious the way the war of words continues to escalate between the U.S. and Iran. All of this raises the possibility of a single incident resulting in starting a serious breach of peace in the MidEast and open warfare between Iran and the U.S. Some sort of open dialogue is needed by both governments similiar to the Cold War era dialogue with the old Soviet Union that resulted in arms treaties and other peace preserving missions.

The Quagmire Over The Iraq War Quagmire

Both the Republican and Democratic senators have gaping logic shortcomings in their approach to the Iraq War quagmire. But unfortunately pure politics has moltivated the Republican senators to kill the debate on a nonbinding resolution that reflects the conscience of the Senate on this matter.

And the vote this week to quash any debate on a nonbinding resolution has put some Republican senators like Gordon Smith of Oregon, on both sides of the Iraq War issue. On one hand, he publicly has made strong statements of moral conscience against the war. On the other hand, he's playing politics and will not even allow a vote on any nonbinding resolution against the troop escalation, because he's worried it may lay some blame for the war at Bush's feet. Well, the news is that the public overwelmingly blames Bush for this war, and any political damage was reflected back in November when voters tossed out many Republicans. About all that Senator Smith is doing is setting a messy re-election issue for his November 2008 re-election bid to have to answer for to the voters. It's time to come down on one side or the other, not both sides for this senator.

On the other hand, Democrats in the Senate seem to be sure that this is some sort of a war escalation. But it appears that the troop surge in Baghdad has a specific purpose to set up checkpoints or to arrange house-to-house searches for illegal arms or terrorist activity. Is this really a war, or just a newer wise use of policing. This should be somewhat apparent that Baghdad needs someone to police the area and prevent all of the rampant car bombings, violence and loss of life. If the surge of US. forces saves lives by reducing the violence, then where has been all the harm?

The UN runs 15 current peacekeeping missions throughout the world including in dangerous Lebanon with more than 80,000 peacekeepers currently deployed in world troublespots. The UN forces suffer losses, yet there is no big debate for the UN to pull out of areas like in the U.S. debate about Iraq. Since the U.S. currently has forces in Iraq, for good or bad, then why shouldn't they police the area? Already more than 11,000 of the U.S. forces are police by trade when not acting in the U.S. Army Reserves. Instead of simply running from the quagmire and violence in Iraq, the Senate needs to seriously consider who should be in charge of policing and peacekeeping in Iraq. Maybe a multinational force from the region, or even UN forces if the U.S. seriously wants out. But so far the debate hasn't matured to this level yet.

I'm very doubtful that the new Bush security plan for Iraq will work. But the violence is so bad that some new form of policing the area needs to be done by someone other than the Iraqis for at least some time until the role of insugents or militia groups is reduced by a political settlement of some sort. Again, I'm doubtful of this. But then again the UN is currently involved as peace broker and police force in 15 world troublespots including Cyprus since 1964.

Someone has to police Iraq. This is the key to American troops eventually leaving Iraq in great numbers. Why the debate in the Senate is not reflecting this and instead has become a political quagmire itself is a real disappointment.

E-Waste Recycling Alternatives Exist, But Not Always Used By The Public

Lawmakers in 11 states are considering E-waste legislation this year to deal with the mountain of broken TVs, computers, vcrs, etc. that persons are normally loading up the nation's landfills with. Some potential environmental hazzards exist from the 4-8 pounds of lead in many cathode ray tubes. This lead could cause potential risk to humans should it enter the water supply through rain or other leakage and lead to nervous system, blood or kidney damage. Printed circuit boards contain both lead in the solder connection joints as well as small amounts of mercury that is associated with damage to the brain. Cadmium is also present in some storage batteries, along with cigarette smoke, and has a dangerous link to prostate and kidney problems such as cancer.

But the lawmakers in many states are interested in creating new taxs or fees on these electronics or even some new state bureau, when old fashioned ways existed for many years for persons to safely discard such electronics. It may cost a person a $10 extra garbage fee to have a small TV thrown out at curbside, but charity organizations for many years have been recycling these items for free for consumers, but many consumers just have been using these services.

In the 1980's, I ran a TV recycling business that purchased TVs from the Goodwill or St. Vincent DePaul and was able to restore about 80% of these broken electronics to working condition to be resold. I also accepted donations of broken sets or would arrange a pickup of these goods for persons. But at the time, I ran into nothing but "zoning" problems with the City Of Portland because the business involved a great deal of space to warehouse parts and broken sets to put two together to build one good one, etc. This used TV recycling business was an excellent modal for what should a model for other businesses to operate to cut down on E-waste.

Legislators think that more new taxes or a new bureacracy will help to solve this problem. Yet few of them have ever repaired or recycled even one single broken electronics item back to life. I've repaired thousands of items and brought about 80% of them back to life.

Many persons of limited means count on buying broken TVs, vcrs, computers, etc. at the "as-is" areas of charities such as the Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul, Salvation Army or other thrift businesses. This provides funds for these organization's work, as well as some self-employment for some poor devil trying to earn a few dollars.

Some companies such as HP have been pressured by government or "do-gooders" to operate a computer take-back or recycling program for old equipment. But this only takes these off the market and reduces the number of broken ones available to persons who rebuild and resale them or lower cost used ones to families who cannot afford to pay $1,000 for a really nice new HP model.

The Goodwill of Portland, Oregon represents the best private handling for E-waste that should be a role model for the rest of the country. A TV and electronics shop that gives employment at the Goodwill for electronics workers checks out or repairs many of the donated goods for resale in the main store. What can't be fixed or put up for sale is either sent to a recycler that carefully handles the potentially toxic compounds and the rest is put up for sale in the as-is store, that guys will buy and rebuild for themselves or to sell. No new taxes or government bureaucracy to deal with this E-waste problem.

Why government does not simply legislate that all broken electronics must be donated to organizations such as the Goodwill for their existing model for E-waste recycling is a good question. A public advertising campaign and other notifications would cheaply resolve this problem with E-waste and return about 80% of broken electronics back to useful service for sale to lower income customers who cannot afford to buy new electronics such as a TV or computer. The environment and consumer as well as charity organizations and lower income persons and electronically skilled persons who need an income would all benefit from this system. Government wants something that would drive up costs of electronics, and sharply reduce the number of used items on the market, which only benefits the big companies to sell more, instead of allowing the marketplace to recycle a majority of existing broken electronics back to life again. In this case more government is not the solution.

Pure Romance; Not Your Normal "Tupperware" Party

Some ads have been popping up on TV recently for something new called Pure Romance. This ad encourages women into hosting "Tupperware" like parties to sell "romantic" aids and novelties.

The website of Pure Romance is interesting. It has a soft women's touch, with a liberal use of the color pink and plenty of faces of successful looking women. There is none of the harshness of many adult oreinted websites that sell novelty items such as the old companies like Doc Johnson, the long time champion of selling absurdly shaped sex toys cheaply produced in Asia for a high profit. The profit model looks about the same for Pure Romance, many items look like they're similar to the old style sex novelties of the past, probably produced in China or Taiwan to maximize profits, but the same items are now marketed by women in "Tupperware" type parties rather than listed on some seedy looking adult business or website.

While Pure Romance offers women an economic opportunity to become a small time business operator, with the added draw of cash prizes and trips, not totally unlike the Mary Kay saleswomen who sometimes won a pink Cadillac as a top selling prize, the business of selling door to door sex toys and hosting parties does have some serious legal drawbacks not noted by Pure Romance.

It was just back in 2003 that Texas housewife, Joanne Webb, was arrested for selling a vibrator to undercover police and faced obscenity charges including one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Joanne Webb hoped to earn a few extra dollars for hosting what was known as "passion parties" for Passion Parties Of Brisbane, a company in many ways similar to Pure Romance in their marketing of romantic sex toys at parties.

And while some judges have attempted to strike down laws in some states as unconstitutional banning the sale of sex toys, many Southern states have laws on the books that could make selling sex toys at "Tupperware" style parties a serious legal problem for the seller. Alabama has a law on the books that could land the seller a $10,000 dollar fine and one year of jail. In South Carolina, a screwball rightwing state legislator Ralph Davenport(A Republican for sure) authored a bill that raised the ante for selling sex toys at parties or otherwise to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The fact of the matter is that any housewife hoping to earn a few dollars by hosting any sex toys parties needs to be very sure that state or local laws do not make such activity a crime. Big government is involved in person's bedrooms, as the flurry of antiGay constitutional amendments in many states dictating who may have a relationship with whom is allowed by law clearly illustrates. Many, but not all states, have some sort of obscenity laws on the books somewhere. Generally selling in smaller communities is more risky as well, and increases the chances of an arrest by a local sheriff as well. In Jasksonville, Oregon, a theatre could not list the title of the film, THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, on their marqee without a public outcry, despite the fact that the Oregon Supreme Court had ruled any obscenity laws in the state as unconstitutional a few years earlier.

Any company that offers a woman an opportunity to host a "romantic" item or sex toy party must be upfront and honest with them if any legal barriers could land her in jail or prison, or with some huge legal costs, such as about $80,000 to hire a private criminal defense attorney, and whether such companies have any attorney representation available to provide potential sellers the latest in advice or provide them representation at company expense if they are arrested.

It's simply not that easy to go into some types of business as you would think. Legal barriers exist from some governments that impose a puritanical morality on the citizens that could make selling some "romantic" goods the legal hassle of a person's life. Any potential seller must be absolutely sure there are no such barriers in their local community to what should be a fun way for a few women to earn a buck or two. This serious legal side of the business is far less than romantic.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Predatory Mortgages Victimize Minorities And Lower Income Home Buyers

The Senate Banking Committee heard testimony about the crisis brought on many lower income home buyers and minorities by the mushrooming growth of predatory mortgage companies. These are the same sleazy companies that flood your email inbox with mortgage offers or tie up your phone line with mortgage calls. In reality, more ethical mortgage organizations such as banks won't make such phone calls, and you seek their services and their approval of your loan. But lower income persons with less established credit easily become victims of predatory mortgage scammers.

Among Whites and Asians, only 17% of home buyers are using these predatory subprime loan rate mortgage companies, but among African-Americans the rate is a whopping 55%. Among latinos the rate is also high at 46%.

Rev. Jesse Jackson testified that these mortgage predators are taking advantage and exploiting minorities.

Last year home foreclosures jumped by 40%, largely due to so many of these mortgage predators which only set many lower income buyers to fail and lose their home and any equity paid in on it.

For now the Senate Banking Committee hearings chaired by Senator Christopher Dodd(D-CT) are just entering the hearing stage, but likely some new regulation of these mortgage scammers will be written. Whether it can pass the veto pen of Bush, a protector of almost any big money ripoff of the consumer is another matter though.

Justice Department Set To Dramaticly Expand DNA Base

Most members of congress don't read the bills they vote on, but a small hidden amendment to the 2006 renewal of Violence Against Women Act includes a provision for DNA samples to be collected from anyone under arrest by any federal authorities for virtually any circumstance including illegal aliens held for deportation by immigration authorities.

When collecting DNA may become as routine as collecting fingerprints, it also allows government to collect information about physical diseases or mental illness from individuals. On the other hand many individuals have been freed prison including death row due to DNA evidence establishing their innocence from a crime.

As science progresses, DNA may even be used as a predictor by law enforcement that a person is "prone" towards certain criminal behavior without them actually committing a crime. This could lead to psychological profiles held by government which ignore free will that a person may not choose to behave in a criminal manner in later years even if they were arrested for a minor offense while young.

DNA is both very good and also raises some serious uncertainty as well. DNA certainly gives the government a far deeper personal profile than fingerprints do, and the public will have to decide what the limits to the use of this technology should be.