Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Facts...........just the facts

Bush Has a Good Economic Record
By KEITH MARSDEN, Wall Street Journal

Recent data published by the(IMF), the (OECD), the World Bank, the (ICP), and the U.S. Census Bureau allows a nonpartisan, factual assessment of the Bush economy.  Here are some of the findings:

- Economic growth. U.S. output has expanded faster than in most advanced economies since 2000. President Bush will leave to his successor an economy 19% larger than the one he inherited from President Clinton. This U.S. expansion compares with 14% by France, 13% by Japan and just 8% by Italy and Germany over the same period. GDP per capita in the U.S. reached $41,813 (in purchasing power parity dollars) in 2005. This was a third higher than the United Kingdom's, 37% above Germany's and 38% more than Japan's.

- Health services. The U.S. spends easily the highest amount per capita ($6,657 in 2005) on health, more than double that in Britain. But because of private funding (55% of the total) the burden on the U.S. taxpayer (9.1% of GDP) is kept to similar levels as France and Germany. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 84.7% of the U.S. population was covered by health insurance in 2007, an increase of 3.6 million people over 2006. The uninsured can receive treatment in hospitals at the expense of private insurance holders......average life expectancy in the U.S. rose to 78 years in 2006 (the same as Germany's), from 77 in 2000.
- Income and wealth distribution. The latest World Bank estimates show that the richest 20% of U.S. households had a 45.8% share of total income in 2000, similar to the levels in the U.K. (44.0%) and Israel (44.9%). In 65 other countries the richest quintile had a larger share than in the U.S.
- Employment.  The latest OECD figures show a rate of 71.7% in 2006. This was more than five percentage points above the average for the euro area.  The U.S. unemployment rate averaged 4.7% from 2001-2007. This compares with a 5.2% average rate during President Clinton's term of office, and is well below the euro zone average of 8.3% since 2000.

- Debt interest payments. The IMF reports that the interest cost of servicing general government debt in the U.S. has averaged 2.0% of GDP annually from 2001-2008, compared with 2.7% in the euro zone. It averaged 3.2% annually when President Clinton was in office.  The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been largely absorbed in a relatively small increase in the defense budget (to 4.1% of GDP in 2006 from 3.8% in 1995). A much higher proportion of U.S. income was devoted to the military during World War II and the Korean War.  MORE

In every cloud there's a silver lining......

In every cloud there's a silver lining......

By Alister Doyle, Environment Corresponden

OSLO (Reuters) - Rare outbreaks of plague in the United States seem to match climate shifts over the Pacific Ocean in a hint that global warming may make the region too hot and dry for the disease, scientists said on Wednesday.

Feared as the "Black Death" of the 14th century that killed an estimated 50 million people, plague is still a threat mainly in Africa. The western United States has had 430 cases since 1950, or about seven per year.
The scientists, based in Norway, the United States and Sweden, said the number of U.S. infections seemed to vary with a natural shift between warm and cool ocean conditions known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) that can last 20-30 years.  MORE

 The stock market succumbed to its ongoing angst Tuesday, giving up a sharp advance and turning moderately lower after falling oil prices failed to calm the market's nervousness about the economy and the financial sector.
The Dow Jones industrial average initially surged by nearly 250 points as oil prices dropped as low as $105.46 a barrel on reports that the Gulf Coast and its oil facilities were spared heavy damage from Hurricane Gustav. But the positive effect of the storm's outcome on stocks was short-lived, and the blue chips ended the day down 26. MORE

THE European Union congratulates itself on forging a rare united front against Moscow over its intervention in Georgia, the Kremlin is celebrating the bloc's refusal to impose sanctions as yet more proof of its dependence on Russian energy.
What EU leaders portrayed as a show of strength - the postponement of talks on a new partnership deal with Moscow until its troops in Georgia return to pre-conflict positions - is seen as weakness among Russian leaders who had feared financial sanctions even while doubting they would work.  MORE

Thanks to irrational fears about strangers and accidents, we've created an epidemic of obese, scared children, writesVictoria White, WWW.IRISHTIMES.COM
I LET MY nine-year-old get the bus home from school on his own this year. Am I Ireland's worst Mammy? Lenore Skenazy was called "America's worst Mom" across the US national airwaves when she let her nine-year-old ride the subway on his own in New York this year.
But then surely the New York subway is more dangerous than Dublin's 11 bus? And Skenazy compounded her error by letting her child work out which subway to get.
Which was all a far cry from my own ace parenting. My child had an envelope with instructions written on it - "Get the 11 or the 11A. Sit beside the driver. Get off two stops later and cross at the pedestrian crossing" - and the exact change for the ticket within.
But it wasn't good enough. The day after what we shall call "the incident", two people approached me and asked me what had led me to do it. Another, out of genuine kindness, offered to go out of his way to drive him home in future.
It is my great fortune that he is bright and able-bodied. So I had no worries about him. Well, actually, I stood in the middle of the road outside the house so that I would see him as soon as he started coming up the road. Meanwhile the little ones inside free-ranged around the house. They probably made a cup of tea.
But I knew he was able for the trip and I knew he needed the independence. And, because I had three other children and he wanted to play chess after school, I needed his independence too.
Have we become more paranoid than the Americans? We're getting there, and surely for the same reasons. Increasing distrust of each other. Increasing breakdown of communities. Increasing class division.
I remember how amazed my American friends were when I got the Greyhound bus. Amongst all the comments about speed and comfort lurked a fact that I think bothered them more: I had been sitting beside black people.
And you can't be sure who you'll sit beside on the number 11. Nowadays, they could even be black too.
This paranoia is enabled by the motor car. If Mammy or Nanny is prepared to do little else but spend long years of her life driving in ever increasing circles, the children need hardly ever meet anyone from a different background. Mammy or Nanny might have had higher aspirations for herself after 40 years of feminism. But it's worth it to keep the kids safe.
Except that it doesn't keep them safe. It makes them sick. We talk about childhood obesity as an "epidemic" as if a rat carried it ashore from a ship, but we created it.
Our concept of danger is other people. And because of that, we are a danger to ourselves.  MORE...

Tuesday, named after the Nordic god or war, Tyr

Tuesday.....The name comes from Middle English Tiwesday, from Old English Tiwes dæg, named after the Nordic god Tyr, who was the equivalent of the Roman war god Mars, and Greek god Ares.  In Latin, it is called Martis dies which means "Mars's Day". In Romance languages except Portuguese, the word for "Tuesday" is similar to the Latin name: mardi in Frenchmartes in Spanishmartedì in Italiandimarts in Catalan, and marţi in Romanian.  The surviving Celtic languages preserve the Latin names,[1] although none of these languages are descended from Latin. Tuesday is dé máirt inIrishMeurzh in Breton,[2] dydd Mawrth in Welsh[3] and Dimàirt in Scottish Gaelic.[4][5][6]

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has described his Georgian counterpart as a "political corpse", saying Moscow does not recognise him as president.
"President Saakashvili no longer exists in our eyes. He is a political corpse," he told Italy's Rai television.
He said US support for Mr Saakashvili had helped provoke the crisis, which has seen Russian troops invade Georgia.
He said Russia did not fear isolation by Western countries that have condemned the Russian intervention. MORE

EU's show of unity over Georgia

The last time that European Union leaders met for an emergency summit in Brussels in early 2003 there was an almighty clash.

The then French President Jacques Chirac publicly chided the countries of the former Soviet bloc for being "badly brought up" and "losing an opportunity to shut up" because they supported America's tough line on Iraq.
This time, "old Europe" and "new Europe" have overcome their divisions to agree on a tough line on Russia - at least for now.
After a summit lasting just four hours, Nicolas Sarkozy - Mr Chirac's successor and currently in charge of the EU rotating presidency - announced that Europe was united.
Over four pages, the summit conclusions strongly condemn Russia's "disproportionate reaction" in Georgia, describe as "unacceptable" its recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and call on other states "not to recognise this proclaimed independence".
'Strong signal'

The EU decided to postpone the next negotiations on a new wide-ranging partnership agreement with Russia, scheduled for 16 September, until Russian troops withdraw from Georgia to their pre-conflict line.

The postponement is mainly symbolic, but a strong signal that "business as usual" was no longer possible while Russian soldiers and tanks remained deep inside Georgian territory. A stronger signal than many had expected, as the postponement had not been mentioned by EU ambassadors when they prepared the summit last week  MORE

Oil price of $100 a barrel on horizon

By Javier Blas and Carola Hoyos in London and Michael Mackenzie in New York
Published: September 2 2008 20:17 | Last updated: September 2 2008 22:09
Oil prices sank to a five-month low of just over $105 a barrel on Tuesday as traders turned their sights on signs that slower growth was spreading beyond the US into Europe, Japan and even emerging markets.
The fall led some analysts to suggest that oil prices could move back below $100 a barrel, a level not seen since March, after fears that US oil supplies could be severely disrupted by hurricane Gustav proved unfounded.

Sarah Palin 2006 Debate Video
At around the 15 minute mark, she is asked what would her perspective be if her daughter became pregnant..around the 30 minute mark, she's asked how she'd addressed the HS drop-out rate...

From another reader: “Interesting that when John Edwards’s and Jesse Jackson’s ‘troubles’ came to light, nobody asked whether they were employing proper birth-control techniques, and, if not, why not. Those questions are reserved for the daughters of female candidates” — for the teenage daughters of female conservative candidates, I might add.

I have long been anti-media (MSM). But, for some reason — well, not just any reason — those juices are stirring today . . .

Why Sarah has the X appeal.....more from the UK Sun
Toddler Sarah with crayfish....

The Libertarian Case for Palin

By David Harsanyi

The potential political consequences of Sarah Palin have been chewed over from every imaginable angle.
Though there is plenty to ponder, one thing is certain: libertarian-inclined voters should be encouraged. No, I'm not suggesting that your little Molly will be bringing home "The Road to Serfdom" from her (distinctly non-public) elementary school. But in contrast to any national candidate in recent memory, Palin is the one that exudes the economic and cultural sensibilities of a geniune Western-style libertarian.  MORE


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) - The new Web browser that Google Inc. released Tuesday is designed to expand its huge lead in the Internet search market and reduce Microsoft Corp.'s imprint on personal computers.

The free browser, called "Chrome," is being promoted as a sleeker, faster and more secure alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which has been the leading vehicle for surfing the Web for the past decade. Despite recent inroads by Mozilla Foundation's Firefox, Internet Explorer is still used by roughly three-fourths of the world's Web surfers.  MORE"
Here's the WSJ "Tech Guy", Walt Mossberg video review

Who Cares About Google Chrome? A Quarter Of The Market Still Uses Internet Explorer 6

Seals fight global warming

Seals in Antarctica are helping to gather information on climate change.They have been fitted with monitors that will allow scientists to collect data from under sea ice.
Watch Video
Jerry Reed......RIP
Quote of the day:

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

Douglas Adams"Last Chance to See"


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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