Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Forget old-fashioned infrastructure. Here are six government projects to foster a lasting economic recovery.By Andy Kessler
Here's a fine article. Inventive, forward looking
It's worth the time to click through to read it in full
The House has passed a $154 billion jobs bill, and the administration has announced a plan to spend $50 billion of repaid TARP money to "create" jobs—this time its green jobs, "shovel ready" infrastructure projects ($27.5 billion for highway construction and repair) and a tax credit for small businesses.
Building roads and bridges willy-nilly won't make us more productive; and without increases in productivity and the associated corporate profits, there can be no sustainable job creation, no increase in standards of living, and no real economic recovery.
Stop thinking concrete and massive construction projects. Think small—photons, electrons and proteins. Here are six ideas:
These six ideas are here
Please start it here and click through to read it
By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER
The Associated Press
Friday, December 25, 2009;
The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project has
found that 82 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds own cell phones.
Ninety-four percent of teens spend time online.
But Lynch fears all that time spent in the 21st century's town square
leaves few opportunities for clutter-free thought. She wants the
students to also pursue the more elusive state of mind that comes with
Friday, December 25, 2009
Walter Rogers does an excellent job mostly by the simplicity and sincerity of the voice he has managed to secure for his article. Because of this he is able as an outsider to bring the right questions before the , the global Muslim community.Washington - The coming trials of 11 Muslim men in the United States for several separate acts ofwill sharply refocus attention on Islamic theology. It will also present the with a "moment of truth."
We hope the good questions raised by Walters will be engaged by the many fine Muslim leaders in the US, who bear these special challenges at the current time.
Read the entire article here
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Airlines, especially US carriers perfectly fail establish positive customer relations. Airlines do not respect flyers, flyers in turn don’t like airlines. There is no trust. Commerce is “hold your nose” and fly if you must.
Successful businesses are built on a corporate ethos of true care for clients, followed by clients loyalty and happiness to give our business.
Analysts examine every indicator when sobbing about airlines except the simple truth of what makes a business successful, customer care, and customer loyalty.
GENEVA – The global airline industry will face another harrowing year in 2010, with losses expected to reach $5.6 billion despite some recovery in passenger and cargo traffic, an industry group said Tuesday.
“2009 very quickly got much worse than we expected,” said IATA chief economist Brian Pearce.
Read more at news.yahoo.com
The entire article is here
Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell believes in ending the death penalty, conserving water and reforming government -- but he doesn't believe in God. His political opponents say that's a sin that makes him unworthy of serving in office, and they've got the North Carolina constitution on their side.
"The question of whether or not God exists is not particularly interesting to me and it's certainly not relevant to public office," the recently elected 59-year-old said.
This might be a big “duh” to most, but the formal establishment of this position by established, theological authorities is important
While this might seem obvious to the near total majority of normal, thinking people in the Muslim world and without, still the formal declaration forbidding suicide/genocide coming from several important, established, and respected theological schools in the region is a vital step toward solving the problem of violent militants who pervert religious teachings to defend their bestial horrors.
Lahore, Dec. 14 : Religious leaders from various schools of thought across Pakistan have termed suicide attacks ‘haram’ or un-Islamic.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Mushnick focuses on an event 10 years ago on the links, and on the the 3 days after the 1 car accident rather than on the sordid, and prurient. He notes issues of character, real friends, and the challenges of wealth and power.
So what's the cost of good advice that it's too expensive for Tiger Woods? It seems that all he had to do was face the music before it became deafening. Disarm the alarm quickly, honestly, openly: "We're having some marital issues. Things, right now, are not good, but we hope to resolve them, one way or another. I've cooperated with the police in this matter. Thank you."
Chances are that much of what's blowing in would've blown itself out by now. Some of it wouldn't have even caught the wind. "Hey, from the start, he admitted his marriage is on the rocks, didn't he?" Or did Woods & Co. really think that they could keep the lid on a can of half-opened stink? Why, because he's Tiger Woods?
Woods was long ago attached to a climate-controlled, rep-firm-at-work immaculate image. Some recognized it from the start as nauseatingly bogus. It figures that Team Tiger on Saturday came up with a plan to send Woods into a bunker that no sand wedge, even in Tiger Woods' hands, could beat. But hadn't Woods & Co. always gotten its way? This would be just another sweet up and down to save par.
Playing the Phoenix Open in 1999, Woods, starting his third full year as a pro but already identified as extra super special, hit his drive behind a boulder.
His approach to the green was blocked. No problem. A dozen spectators teamed to shove that boulder out of his way. A boulder that took 12 men to move was deemed, as per The Rules of Golf, "a loose impediment" -- it was for Tiger Woods.
On TV, that day, and for weeks to come, the announcers thought that boulder-shoving scene was great. Most media did, or so they claimed. So what that such an unnatural advantage wouldn't have been extended to some anonymous schnook who was trying to make a paycheck in that tournament, everyone loves Tiger!
But that was never the point. A few party poopers -- I was one -- didn't see the sport in what had happened. It set a bad example -- for Woods. He didn't have to deal with a boulder that was in his way; boulders are for the other guys to deal with.
I was hoping that Woods would have called the do-gooders off that rock, that he'd have recognized that such use/misuse of the rules is excessive, that it violated the "spirit of the rules" (failed the smell test).
But Woods passed on this golden opportunity to prove that he's a sportsman, that he'd do as everyone else must, that under the circumstances, he'd just have to do the best he could.
Ten years later, that boulder is back. This time, though, he had to deal with it, do the best he could. Unaccustomed to such circumstances, he didn't deal with them very well.
But when you grow accustomed to having it your way, every time, all the time, and you're surrounded by those who either serve that end or established it and maintain it, good advice isn't allowed past the gatehouse.
I've often wondered whether Donald Trump, for all his dough, has a real-deal best friend, the kind who can tell him when he's acting like a jerk and remain his best friend. Or does he surround himself with acolytes he confuses as friends, backslappers who tell him what he wants to hear -- or risk excommunication? I suspect it's the latter.
And I suspect that began to become Woods' reality, too. Woods' "pals" allowed him to think that he could beat this because he's Tiger Woods. A real friend wouldn't have allowed him to think such a foolish thing.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Religion is a dicey subject. Along with politics it is known to be one of the two big no no's when trying to keep dinner conversation peaceful and civil.
For most, the word religion means buildings (churches, temples, and mosques), beliefs, books (like the Bible, the Qur'an or the Baghavad Gita), the occasional person or two (like the Pope, or the Dalai Lama), and the rare and occasional saint among us (like Mother Theresa). As for the rest, folks tend to think of religion as personal or private. But can it be that easy? A very important piece often does not get the attention or reflection it deserves. What is the place of religion in the larger scheme of life and society?
For example, should religious people do good? Of course, we say. But even with this first simplest and obvious answer, tough questions already arise. What if an irresponsible couple next door constantly left two little ones unattended for long hours every night? What should Bill and Mary, the caring, prayerful, and faithful members of St. Katherine's do? A great many would say, "My gosh, they should not do anything!" That's the job of the city and city services.
Or supposing there was pending legislation, cleverly designed to block a group of believers from moving into my neighborhood, or having a place of worship here? Should conscientious religious people organize or lobby to prevent its passage? Or aren't religious people supposed to stay the heck out of politics? In dozens of situations like these everyday, the neat lines between religion and secular society is tricky.
But if religion is important, and to a vast many it is, then just how it functions in greater society and in day to day life must be important too. What are the rules? Unfortunately, they are not cut and dried, even in a country like the United States. But one thing we can know for sure, good outcomes have their best chance when energetic religious life and secular commitment to a safe and prosperous societies cooperate.
Last weekend, in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Buddhist believers did what no secular or political figures could. Following intense, and extremely volatile naval skirmishes with nuclear-armed North Korea, Buddhist monks from both North and South met together to honor their ancient founder, and perhaps to remind Koreans everywhere that their oneness is ancient, and their wars are young. In this case believers showed a better way by doing something that even could have global consequences.
On the other side, this past Monday, the vice president of Iraq offered a special, government bonus for newlyweds who were mixed Sunni-Shia couples. These special families to be were given $2,000 (to help start married life), a banquet with music, and even a hotel night for their honeymoon. Is that government meddling? Is that blurring the lines of church and state? Or is it a visionary political act to help dissolve forces that foster conflict, terrorism, and radicalization? This time it was the political side that gave the nudge toward a better, more peaceful society.
Where does religion belong in our lives? The answer is never cut and dried. There is no final, fixed formula. But our best chance every time is when the sacred and secular look upon the other as friend and partner.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
We humans are both physical and spiritual. Ideally these should function happily in harmony. Often they don't. This war waged within is eloquently described by many religious greats through the ages, the apostle Paul in Roman's 7:23 ("another law at work in my members ... making me a prisoner"), the Sakyamuni in verse 1 of The Dhammapada ("the wheel of the wagon follows the hoof") and others.
Some of us do "not too bad," hitting an OK balance with the two sides of life, but beyond the occasional "pretty good" individual, the spiritual and secular stay at pretty stark odds. Once we get past the single self, the larger social units pretty much spin out of control. It's very hard to get even a single whole family in order, and with each broader unit the problem exacerbates. By the time we get out to big groupings, like cities and states for example the likelihood of balance between the material and the spiritual is slim. For this reason, "church - state" relations always remain in a tumult. They constantly swing this way and that.
These days a fascinating and important series of issues have arisen in this relationship. The church and not-the-church have gotten themselves tangled up in the world of help. Caring for the poor, the needy, the downtrodden, the disaster stricken is a responsibility both for the state, and for the person of faith. But these often struggle in nature and motivation. One issue I've already treated in these pages is the problems created in the world of global disaster relief by aid organizations comprised of proselytizing believers.
Here's another one that looks very difficult. The Catholic church, and the city of Washington DC are facing what looks like a possible impasse. Tim Craig, Michelle Boorstein, and later Carol Morello did a fine job last Thursday and Friday making the issues clear, and as importantly capturing the heat, the tone, the ignorances and arrogances that are coming to participate in this thorny issue:
The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law.
D.C. Council members are hardening their opposition to the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington's efforts to change a proposed same-sex marriage law, setting up a political showdown between the city and one of its largest social service providers.
Progress is being made in planned legislation designed to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination. "Under the bill, headed for a council vote next month, religious organizations ... would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians." But this puts the Catholic Church in a quandry, "Church officials say Catholic Charities would have to suspend its social services work for the city, rather than provide employee benefits to same-sex married couples or allow them to adopt."
Catholic Charities, serves 68,000 people in the city, including the one-third of Washington's homeless people who go to city-owned shelters managed by the church.
At issue is $18 million to $20 million in city funds for 20 to 25 programs run by Catholic Charities, but the church pointed out that it supplements funding for city programs with $10 million from its own coffers.
So, as we can see, these bodies (the city and the church) are very tightly wed. They have combined intimately to do much good, lots of lives and great work is at stake, lots of money is all tangled up together, but when something unanticipated like this happens remarkably complex issues arise.
Elected officials insulting believers is not a healthy approach to addressing a complicated matter with much at stake, but sadly bluster is all too often the coin of the political realm. Far better would be quiet discreet, reflective and respectful conversation from sincere adherents on both sides of the opinion.
Any sincere Catholic can be only happy for advances that erode bigotry and persecution. Conversely one cannot expect the Church to conform to obligations contrary to its sacred traditions.
I for one hope that a creative solution can be found that allows the pleasant marriage between city and church, that helps so many in need to persist. I think it can be done. Some fiddling about with nuances, structures, divisions on paper, and solution driven thinking can open the way for all sides to remain in the help game in good conscience. The good work and the collaboration should continue. We should not let the careless and the loud make things harden up. There is no creativity for the sake of good when the mind is rigid, and the heart is prideful.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
John Hooper of the UK Guardian reports:
More than half a million Anglicans are set to join the Roman Catholic church following an announcement from the Vatican today that Pope Benedict XVI had approved a decree setting up a new worldwide institution to receive them.Gledhill and Owen in the Australian note the obvious in mentioning the simmering accusation against Rome for "poaching":
Anglicans privately accused Rome of poaching and attacked Dr Williams for capitulating to the Vatican. Some called for his resignation. Although there was little he could have done to forestall the move, many were dismayed at his joint statement with the Archbishop of Westminster in which they spoke of Anglicans "willing to declare that they share a common Catholic faith and accept the Petrine ministry as willed by Christ for his Church".A fine and necessary read on the matter comes from Oliver Lough deriving his analysis and commentary from a gaze at history's best known Anglican to Catholic convert, the great churchman and theologian Cardinal John Henry Newman.
The depth of cynicism behind the Vatican's invitation last month to right-wing Episcopalians "to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony" is best understood through one of Rome's most high-profile converts, a certain John Henry Newman.And goes on to bring back before the modern reader many of the qualities that make Newman an exciting and enduring figure in Western history:
It would be easy enough to assume that the smells, bells, and reassuringly rigid doctrine of the Catholic Church eventually provided too much of a temptation for the intellectually fraught Newman to resist.
As it happened, the spark of his conversion came from a quite different direction. Poring over an obscure 5th century religious text in 1839, he came to the conclusion, despite himself, that the Episcopalian faith was founded on a series of misconceptions that precluded its ever being a "true" church.
What followed was described by Newman as a "great revolution of mind, which led me to leave my own home, to which I was bound by so many strong and tender ties."
His final conversion was some six years in the making, and came at a time when even the merest hint of "popishness" was still anathema in Britain. As one historian puts it, "to enter the Roman Church was literally to exile oneself from English life."
Newman's slow and painful transformation was an act of spiritual and intellectual bravery so profound that it eventually helped kick-start the gradual rehabilitation of Catholicism into conventional society. It involved not just abandoning much of what he had stood for, but immersing himself in a new and alien creed.
Read the entire commentary here
It may well be that such matters arouse in most the feeling of a dusty and complicated past. I recommend though that no social evolution should bring us to the point when major world leaders should be allowed to act without account, and when courage, integrity, and rigorous devotion of mind become a matter of disinterest.
The Fifth Global Forum on Human Settlements
Water and Human Settlements in the 21st Century
November 8 – 9, 2009,
Many may think, “Ah Wuxi, a perfect place for such a conference, because China is a place with severe water resource shortage, and the Chinese government attaches such high attention to the water environmental improvement, that it has made sustainable development a basic state policy.”
But Wuxi is perfect for a different reason.
It is perfect because China is the homeland of “the Old Boy,” the revered and beloved world saint Lao Tzu. Here are his observations:
The supreme good is like water,And
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.
The ancient Masters were profound and subtle...
Fluid as melting ice...
Clear as a glass of water.
Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
From among all saints and seers, perhaps Lao Tzu above all others most fully intuited the eternal and the divine in water.
Importantly in the wisdom of Lao Tzu is that in his few and fleeting words he captures both sides of the truth of water, the nature of the water without, and its mirror in the water within. The great German, Romantic philosopher Novalis said, “Our bodies are molded rivers.”
Al Gore in Earth in the Balance said the same thing (but please do not tell Mr. Gore that Lao Tzu already knew it 2700 years ago, Mr. Gore thinks he discovered it), He said:
Human beings are made up mostly of water, in roughly the same percentage as water is to the surface of the earth. Our tissues and membranes, our brains and hearts, our sweat and tears--all reflect the same recipe for life, in which efficient use is made of those ingredients available on the surface of the earth.
What I would like us to do in the few moments I have to present my thoughts is open ourselves and seek for starting points in the magic and the divine in our quest for a healthy and happy world, and a cure for the global water crisis.
I believe the frame of mind and the way of being that can guide our path toward good outcomes and the rescue of our planet lies in the secret voice in water itself. Loren Eiseley, the great natural science writer and recipient of 36 honorary degrees said, “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” (Loran Eisley, The Immense Journey, 1957)
But perhaps the one voice that captures most perfectly what I want for us today is that of D.H. Lawrence, from his 1929 poetry collection Pansies (a play on the French word Pensees). He says, “Water is H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, but there is also a third thing that makes water, and nobody knows what that is.” (D.H. Lawrence, Pansies, 1929)
It is vital that we ponder, remember, and honor that third thing, for if we do, and when we do, we lose our indifference, we could no more hurt water than a loved one, and we could no more ignore the thirst, the deaths, and the suffering of the billion, and the little ones, than we could ignore falling into the grip of thirst ourselves.
Certainly the water crisis is a problem for science. And yes it is a problem for policy makers, city planners, and valiant warriors for the rights of the oppressed. But it's deepest face of horror lies within each one of us, it lies in whatever allows me to walk peacefully through life while 3 million water related deaths each year take the lives children under 14.
It is this frightening indifference in us that must be addressed if we have any hope to effectively engage the current and growing global water crisis conversation.
Wherein lies my blindness, my dullness? What is missing in my life, that allows my sense to be so dull? What am I not seeing, not feeling? For each of us is just a single step different from the factory polluting CEO. I lie to myself if I think otherwise.
If we find that we are aware, alert, and invested in rescuing our planet, our brothers and sisters, and the little ones, we can only be thankful for the unknown and unseen that allows us to be awake with a passion and devotion to the grand and pressing a cause.
The secret to saving water is contained in water itself. It cries out to us – water to water. The dew drop and the rapids try with beauty and power to speak to its own self within us. It knows already the path to its rescue. Chuang Tzu (c.360 BC - c. 275 BC) says, “The sound of water says what I think.”
It is us. We are it. It lives, we live. It dies, we die. The holy Qu'ran says, “By means of water, we give life to everything.” (Qu'ran, 21:30).
Water itself contains the secrets, and reveals to us the way to its own rescue. The first of these secrets was recognized by by Lao Tzu when he points out:
The best of man is like water,It is humility, and the contentedness with low places, together with the interior nature to live for the benefit of others that is required at this time to reverse the horrible trends that threaten our fragile environment. The spread of these virtues bode the rescue of water.
Which benefits all things, and does not contend with them,
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.
Environmental science is vital, it is needed, but the best of it cannot contend with a disordered race whose inner nature wars with our very aqua vita within. It is not the lack of environmental science that has defiled earth's magic, it is an avarice against which Lao Tzu quietly and gently warned, a lack of contentedness with the “low places,” the lack of a natural impulse to live for the benefit of others and not contend with them.
The second secret (also already mentioned) comes from the great thinker and poet D.H. Lawrence, “Water is H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, but there is also a third thing that makes water, and nobody knows what that is.” When I read these words of Lawrence and pause to release the voice of water in me, I think of a couple in love, I think of my own wife and me. A marriage is H2O one part me, and one part the woman I love, but there is a third thing that made us a couple, and nobody knows what that is.
The mystery, beauty, and life giving power of water is the secret of love. Of how two become one to become an ever giving and ever sustaing source of new life.
Humility, contentedness with the low places animated by living for the benefit of all, and the bond of love, care, and respect for the other are the secrets of water that can awaken us to turn back from our careless, violent, and polluting era.
I am 71% water, and so are you. Maybe we have a chance.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The Pentagon is reviewing the Bush administration’s doctrine of preemptive military strikes with an eye to modifying or possibly ending it.
The international environment is “more complex” than when President George W. Bush announced the policy in 2002, Kathleen Hicks, the Defense Department’s deputy undersecretary for strategy, said in an interview. “We’d really like to update our use-of-force doctrine to start to take account for that.”Bush outlined his doctrine of preemptive strike in a speech at West Point in June 2002. He elevated it to a formal strategy that September. For the first time in a doctrine, the U.S. expressed the right to attack a threat that was gathering, not just imminent.
‘Will Not Hesitate’
The doctrine says the U.S. “will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Clunky technology that never changes somehow interests me.
Now who's going to challenge the most arcane hold-over of them all... The windshielf wiper
The Dyson Air Multiplier fan – which looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie – uses advancements in airflow engineering instead of traditional blades to ‘multiply’ air 15 times and push out 119 gallons of smooth and uninterrupted air every second.
Conventional electric fans have gone largely unchanged for years,” notes Mr Dyson. “The fundamental problem has remained the same for more than 125 years – the blades ‘chop’ the air creating an uneven airflow and unpleasant buffeting.”
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Here's the New York Times article on rape and torture of protesters (please click through to read the entire chilling and disquieting article):
McChrystal's longing for authoritative religious figures to mediate the ideal of reconciliation was a design and achievement of the IRFWP 2o years ago. The US military has little access, understanding, or credibility in this community that is indispensable to the larger work of dissolving the unique challenges in Afghanistand and Pakistan.
Holbrooke has repeatedly complained that the Taliban has communicated more effectively than the United States. In June, he told a House subcommittee there was a need to refine the coalition's message and use new ways to reach Afghans, suggesting cell phones, radio and other means, the Post reported.
McChrystal said one way to accomplish this is to "disrupt and degrade" the insurgent networks. He suggests getting authoritative figures, such as religious leaders, to deliver messages "so they are credible," the Post reported.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a bad guy?
By all accounts the answer seems to be a clear yes, especially if we are to believe reports of the demonic way he treated his own people in the wake of Iran's recent, so-called elections.
It's one thing to be branded a villain in the context of international relations, but the litmus test of a leaders' status that seems to carry universal opprobrium is tyranny, brutalizing the helpless under your reign.
This morning's headlines see world leaders with their hands thrown up over Ahmadinejad's obstinate refusal to cooperate with regard to his nuclear program.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday Iran will neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights but is ready to sit and talk with world powers over "global challenges."
Ahmadinejad also said Iran will present a package of proposals for talks to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany but rejected any deadline for such talks.
President Barack Obama and European allies have given Iran until the end of September to take up an offer of nuclear talks with six world powers and trade incentives should it suspend uranium enrichment activities. If not, Iran could face harsher punitive sanctions.
Who are these wonderful conversation partners (five plus one) waiting in the wings to discuss the problems of arms with the evil President Ahmadinejad?
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — plus Germany offered Iran a modified package of economic incentives June last year in return for suspending its uranium enrichment activities or face harsher sanctions.
Why is Germany not on the security council of the UN? Because the UN was formed largely in response to Hitler's efforts to take over the world.
But now Germany's OK. Let's take look at these lovely five plus one defined so nobly by their stature at the the UN from a different angle?
Oh, by the way, Post-Mussolini's Italy wasn't too popular during the founding of the United Nations either.
Those old arms numbers were shattered by a spike of 33% growth of US arms sales in the last year as reported in yesterday's NYTimes.
Ahmadinejad may be bad, but (sadly) he's not stupid (a phrase that could apply to countless politicians).
Is a nuclear armed Iran bad? Should it be prevented?
Of course, and by all means.
Can it be stopped by a process void of a genuine moral center. Sadly not.
This and a great many current global problems must be met in a system grounded in the radical change that will be put forth in upcoming articles on this site.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
The opening passage shows the reflexive hate for Jews in the region, but the article goes on to explain the history of Jews in the country, and the devotion to preserve this contribution in the name of Egypt's heritage.
The US towering above all countries in arms sales including with major contracts in the Middle East, as well as with developing countries comes no longer in the easy target of the Bush administration, but now well into the first year of the Obama administration.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Holy city twist: Upwardly mobile Arabs moving into neighborhoods built for Jews
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The US government takes money away from American citizens who earned it, and gives it for free to other citizens who want to buy a new car
clipped from online.wsj.com
The $3 billion plan is being hailed in Washington as a great success because so many Americans sought to get a $3,500 to $4,500 check financed by other taxpayers in return for trading in their old car.
it's hardly miraculous that some Americans would be willing to apply for "free" money to do what they probably would have done eventually anyway.
the program has proven to be an administrative fiasco, as the central planners at Transportation
had to scramble to borrow workers from the likes of the Federal Aviation Administration to process claims.
The idea that a temporary subsidy program will launch the auto industry onto some new, higher sales and production plane defies logic. More likely, the program will merely have concentrated sales over a shorter period, as buyers either postponed purchases once they learned the program was in the works, or accelerated them to meet the subsidy deadline.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
clipped from www.ft.com
The marketing experiment – which is being conducted by CBS, the US broadcaster, and Pepsi, the soft drinks maker
What careless and raggedy political craft
clipped from www.google.com
clipped from www.jpost.com
Obama delivered his address to the Muslim world in Cairo in June and has already met Mubarak three times since taking office.
Seventy one senators politely wrote Obama on August 10 that he needs to better balance his strategy:
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
clipped from online.wsj.com
Saturday, July 25, 2009
It is often the case that once tragedy strikes, it becomes too late for us to brush up (or learn for the first time) background to help us understand events in areas outside our general knowledge, because writing becomes too heated, biased, and agenda laden.
These Ürümqi riots that broke out on 5 July 2009 have a great many important implications including historically, religiously, and world-power-relations-wise.
I have assembled one or two articles with good balance and sound information, to help Leaves readers think well in the midst of the flurry of articles that will properly dominate the news in coming days or perhaps longer.
Here is the first, post-raw-breaking-news article that now reports on stage two, the call for an investigation.
Where is this?
Next I would like to draw your attention to two articles that are quiet in tone, and very helpful to provide background and context to help understand the recent history pertinent to the outbreak of the riots that drew such intense government fire.
The first is from Ariana Eunjung Cha of the Washington Post Foreign Service
URUMQI, China -- When the local government began recruiting young Muslim Uighurs in this far western region for jobs at the Xuri Toy Factory in the country's booming coastal region, the response was mixed.
But others, like Safyden's 21-year-old sister, were wary. She was uneasy, relatives said, about being so far from her family and living in a Han Chinese-dominated environment so culturally, religiously and physically different from what she was accustomed to. It wasn't until a local official threatened to fine her family 2,000 yuan, or about $300, if she didn't go that she reluctantly packed her bags this spring for a job at the factory in Shaoguan, 2,000 miles away in the heart of China's southern manufacturing belt.
The origins of last week's ethnically charged riots in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang region, can be traced to a labor export program that led to the sudden integration of the Xuri Toy Factory and other companies in cities throughout China.
Uighur protesters who marched into Urumqi's main bazaar on July 5 were demanding a full investigation into a brawl at the toy factory between Han and Uighur workers that left two Uighurs dead. The protest, for reasons that still aren't clear, spun out of control. Through the night, Uighur demonstrators clashed with police and Han Chinese bystanders, leaving 184 people dead and more than 1,680 injured in one of the bloodiest clashes in the country's modern history. Two Uighurs were shot dead by police Monday, and tensions remain palpable.
Both Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 percent of the country's population and dominate China's politics and economy, and Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking minority living primarily in China's far west, say anger has been simmering for decades.
By moving Uighur workers to factories outside Xinjiang and placing Han-run factories in Xinjiang, Chinese officials say, authorities are trying to elevate the economic status of Uighurs, whose wages have lagged behind the national average. But some Han Chinese have come to resent these policies, which they call favoritism, and some Uighurs complain that the assimilation efforts go too far. Uighurs say that their language is being phased out of schools, that in some circumstances they cannot sport beards, wear head scarves or fast as dictated by Islamic tradition, and that they are discriminated against for private and government jobs.
The second is from The New Atlanticist Policy and Analysis Blog,by Griffin Huschke:
With recent violence in China’s western province of Xinjiang, Washington is increasingly ensnared in events dealing with the Uyghur community in China. However, many questions remain about the true goals of this Turkic ethnic group: are they terrorists bent on overturning law and order, or freedom fighters trying to throw off the yoke of a repressive government?
The quick answer is “neither.” Making any generalizations about a population is, of course, difficult: Uyghurs are geographically and culturally diverse. In order to understand the conflict that recently flared in Xinjiang, it is important to note not all Uyghurs see themselves as such. Data gathered by Professor Justin Rudelson show that many Turkmen identify with labels that correspond to their home town or religion as opposed to ‘Uighur.’ Rudelson showed that the concept of a Uyghur ethnicity is often a fuzzy, particularly in the lower and middle classes.
This lack of a Uyghur identity is due to hundreds of years of separation resulting from formidable natural barriers. While those of the same ethnicity had settled around the region, the vast desert and rugged mountains sometimes made travel outside Xinjiang more feasible than travel within the province. Thus, those in the oasis town of Ili have a much stronger historical and cultural connection with the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan than with their ethnic cousins in Kashgar, China.
How does this help us understand the recent strife in Xinjiang’s capital city of Urumqi? The localized identity, which has existed for thousands of years, may be beginning to shift. While it is too early to begin to discuss a true “pan-Uyghur” identity (as promoted by the World Uyghur Congress, for instance), ethnic Turkic peoples in the region are beginning to feel more isolated from their Han countrymen. In addition to Urumqi, ethnic strife in Shaoguan and other areas of China are making Uyghurs feel more vulnerable and cognizant of their “otherness.” Indeed, violence is becoming increasingly common place. Charles Hutzler in the AP:
Tens of thousands of what the government calls "sudden mass incidents" rock China every year, presumably soaring in number since Beijing stopped releasing the statistic publicly in 2005, when there were 87,000 of them. While loss of life is rarely on the scale of the Xinjiang riot, protesters often vent their rage on public property, burning government offices and cars.
This does not necessarily mean Uyhurs are feeling closer to other Uyghurs—large rifts still exist between Uyghurs. However, these riots indicate that the vast majority of peaceful Uyghurs are likely increasingly uneasy about coexistence with greater China.
At present, only localized and fragmented sentiments of “Uygur-ness” persist, and China still has an opportunity to integrate the Uyghurs into the wider economy and society. However, if Uyghur grievances in Urumqi and elsewhere are not taken seriously, the further growth of “us/them” sentiments may cause more violence in the near future.
I hope these maps and two articles give the kind of background that will allow Leaves readers to recognize the subtlety and complexity of the issues, and not fall prey to easy labels and superficial analyses