Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Map Under Construction:

The Cold Peace , By Ralf Beste, Uwe Klussmann and Gabor Steingart, Spiegel on Line

This is a very comprehensive review of the difficult relationship issues that Russia's recent recidivist actions in Georgia have brought to the forefront.  At each level, The EU, NATO, and each individual country, relationship issues with Russia range from Black vs.White, to the proverbial many shades of gray.  Germany is most torn in this situation, given both it's historical and current relationship. 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel loves the Russians. When she goes on vacation, she likes to have one with her, preferably a big thick novel by Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. She also loves Russian, and back in the former East Germany, Merkel learned the language so well that she won a Russian contest. One of her favorite words is “terpeniye,” which she translates as “the ability to suffer.”
Love and suffering. Currently, the chancellor is feeling a bit of both, at least that is what she said last week during a visit to Estonia. Despite all the suffering connected with the latest outbreak of Russian imperialism in Georgia, she said that we should not forget that there are reasons to love Russia. She also said that if Russia were to send its military into Estonia, the country would be covered by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, meaning that an armed attack against one NATO member is considered an attack against them all.
It was a clear warning to Russia, and one that fit perfectly into the tense atmosphere of last week. It was a week that seemed more diplomatically charged than any in a long time. Moscow has the world on tenterhooks..........

One thing is certain: Russia is spoiling for a fight and the Russians are standing shoulder to shoulder. On the other side stands a group of countries, most of which stood side-by-side during the Cold War under the label “the West."

 But now it appears that this “West” does not even exist, at least not as a united political front. Just when these countries should be sticking together to put Russia in its place, they appear to be a frayed and disjointed community.

“When I want to call Europe, what number do I dial?” Henry Kissinger once asked while he was serving as US Secretary of State. Today, the same question could even more appropriately be asked of the West. Its phone is not in Washington, and certainly not in Brussels, where on Monday this week the heads of state and government in the EU are meeting to discuss the Georgian crisis. A show of unwavering unity is not expected to emerge from this meeting, but there is some good news: the German-French diplomatic machine is up and running again. The crisis has welded the governments of both countries together. All the irritations of the recent past have been forgotten and replaced by harmony between Paris and Berlin.......... MORE

by Patrick Ruffini
For Republicans, there is no contradiction between being an average American with a family, and being a gifted leader. And though Presidents typically exhibit some early ambition, it is usually less prevalent in Republicans than Democrats. Let's look at the history of the last few Presidential nominations:

John McCain -- probably the most explicitly ambitious of our recent nominees -- was first elected to public office at 46 after a career in the military.

George W. Bush, part of one of the great political families, but "drifted" until later in life; first elected to public office at age 48 after a career in the oil industry

Bob Dole, the only career politician among recent nominees, was first elected to the Kansas state house at age 27

George H.W. Bush -- successful businessman before winning election to Congress at age 42.

Ronald Reagan -- successful actor before winning his first public office at age 55.

Now look at the Democrats:

Barack Obama, elected to the Illinois State Senate at age 35, his political ambitions probably date from college

John Kerry, sailed with Kennedy, ran for Congress at 27, and first elected at 37.

Al Gore, son of a famous Senator, elected to Congress at 28.

Bill Clinton, ran for Congress at 28, first elected to public office at 30

Mike Dukakis, first elected at 29.

Walter Mondale, campaign manager for Hubert Humphrey at 20, appointed to fill a vacancy at 32.

Jimmy Carter, peanut farmer, was first elected to the Georgia State Senate at 38. He is probably the last truly normal person the Democrats have nominated.

The contrast between the life experience of our Republican and Democratic political icons is pretty stark. Democrats got their start in politics an average of a decade earlier than the Republicans, winning their first elective office at 33 vs. 44 for the GOP. Most of the Republicans on the list had significant experience in the private sector before entering politics, versus just one Democrat -- Jimmy Carter. Another, John McCain, had a full career in the military. In fact, four of five GOP Presidential nominees since 1980 have spent 10 or more years outside of elective office or academia, versus six of seven Democrats who haven't.

Whose party can you relate to better?

The Odds It Will Kill You?

A 55-year-old man who smokes is as likely to die in the next 10 years as a 65-year-old who has never smoked. Less than 1 woman in 1,000 younger than 50 will die in the next decade from cervical cancer. A 35-year-old nonsmoking man is five times as likely to die in an accident before 45 as he is to die of heart disease, and a 35-year-old woman is twice as likely to die accidentally by 45 as she is to die from breast cancer.

New risk charts in a paper published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute provide a broader perspective than most of the risk calculators on the Internet, because they cover the risks for 10 different causes of death, and for all causes combined, while differentiating by age and between smokers, nonsmokers and former smokers.


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